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Mary Coustas after 20 failed IVF attempts: "Nothing good comes out of giving up."

mary coustas baby
Mary Coustas, George Betsis and Jamie (plus their pooch!). Image from 60 Minutes.

Mary Coustas, 49, – best known for her portrayal of the beloved Australian TV character Effie – has had a very long and very public struggle with fertility.

Mary first discovered she couldn’t have children, only six weeks after marrying George Betsis in 2005, due to blocked fallopian tubes.

Next, the couple decided to give IVF a go – and then Mary’s first daughter, Stevie, was stillborn in May 2011 at 22 weeks. Over a period of 10 years, Mary underwent perhaps 20 rounds of IVF.

But despite sometimes feeling like she might never fall pregnant, Mary and her husband of eight years, George, kept trying. Last year, their dream of having a child was finally realised.

Jamie Betsis was born in November last year, and Mary has appeared on 60 Minutes tonight – bringing her beautiful three-month-old baby girl along for the ride. Mary and George say that while they never felt assured that they would ‘get the happy ending’ – Mary sometimes thought she would never fall pregnant – the couple never considered giving up.

Mary meets her baby girl for the first time.

George says, “I think experiences like this, you discover your limits and you test your limits and we didn’t want to have any regrets later to say that we didn’t fully exhaust every ounce of our energy and being to get there.”

However, Mary explains that, “We didn’t assume that we would get the happy ending.”

“I mean many people don’t and we were looking like we were not going to get it,” she says. “I still went back to Greece on three occasions [for IVF] after Stevie. I still did 6 other attempts after Stevie to get Jamie”.

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“That’s a lot, that’s more than most people do to get one child, the first time they do IVF. And yet I’m sure I’ve done over 20 IVFs. I don’t even dare to find out the amount.”

But during the course of the interview Mary also notes that, ‘Nothing good comes out of giving up.’

Mary also talked candidly about the pain of having to go through a selective reduction process after falling pregnant with triplets – the pregnancy that ended with giving birth to her stillborn daughter, Stevie.

The loss of Stevie continues to affect Mary. After giving birth to Jamie, Mary explains that she still felt conflicted.

“You feel a loyalty to pain. It impacts that much, you feel a real loyalty to it,” Mary says. “But I knew this was not the same as last time. And when [Jamie] appeared, it was such an overwhelming feeling of proof of all that effort – all that not giving up… She’s just adorable.”

George says that watching Jamie come into the world, “She was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.”

It’s been a long, difficult journey for the couple.

Mary, George and Jamie.

When asked if they could do it again, Mary turns to George.

“I don’t know if we could do it again,” Mary begins. “George, could we?”

“I think we’re pretty happy right now,” George replies.

And they clearly are.

Their joy at having Jamie in their lives is as evident today, as it was the day she was born. At the time, the couple shared on Facebook: “Baby & Mother are in exceptional health, father still doing cartwheels… Thank you for all your messages of support & love throughout this journey.”

The couple are still doing cartwheels. We couldn’t be happier for them.

Here’s the first part of Mamamia publisher Mia Freedman’s interview with Mary Coustas, before the birth of Jamie last year. You can watch the rest of the interview here: Part 1 of Mamamia’s interview with Mary Coustas. And here: Part 2 of Mamamia’s interview with Mary Coustas.

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Have you, or anyone you love, struggled with fertility issues? What have your experiences been? 

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