Maria Trehy will never forget the words of one particular doctor during her 10-year-journey to have a baby.
“‘You’re on a rollercoaster Maria, and if you get off, you go nowhere,’” she repeats.
“I always kept that in my head. I said: ‘Our dream is to have a baby and I’ll go to the ends of the earth to have that dream.’”
Despite enduring seven miscarriages – and many more setbacks along the way – in 2019, Maria and her husband Willie welcomed their beautiful baby girl, Myah. Her arrival would later spark another new adventure. But we’ll get to that in due course.
The Trehy family live close to Fethard in Co Tipperary. Originally from Kilkenny, Maria first met Willie while they were both working in the same company in Dublin: she was in payroll, while he was an engineer.
After building their home and getting married in 2009, they were both excited to start their family.
“We went on our honeymoon thinking we were going to get pregnant. Time was moving on, we said straight away that we’d try. Willie came from a big family as well and we both loved kids,” recalls Maria.
“Six months went on and it didn’t happen, so then we said: ‘Look, it’s time to investigate’. I’m the type of person that if something is not working, just go and find out what’s going on.”
In the early stages, Maria was prescribed clomid, which is a drug that stimulates ovulation. While she did get pregnant soon afterwards, sadly she ended up miscarrying repeatedly.
“I had three miscarriages running in to the first and that was such a huge shock to us. We were going: ‘Why is this happening to us?’” she recalls.
“One doctor said: ‘Oh, it happens in one in every four pregnancies and it’s just a normal thing.’ But this was not normal.”
After pursuing fertility investigations in London women’s clinic in Harley St following a recommendation, an autoimmune issue was identified and Maria started on treatments that often took a toll – along with the weight of societal expectations.
“I was put on steroids on and off for four years,” says Maria. “That was very hard on your system, because sometimes you can take them and you’re not sleeping great and then you’re blowing up like a balloon and it was very hard. And then I suppose a lot of people were saying: ‘Oh you’re married now and when is the baby coming along?’”
Eventually, Maria and Willie decided to pursue IVF in Ireland, but had another four first trimester miscarriages during that process.
“You miscarried and then you had to go through all that emotion and pick yourself up again and put on the face again and go,” she says of her recurrent losses.
We ask how she and Willie found the resilience to keep going?
“I knew the journey we were going through, we were strong together,” she responds.
“We are a very good couple and we both had a dream and our dream was to have our little baby and I suppose Willie was my rock. No matter what, he’s the most amazing man. He always picked me up and I had great family support as well.”
Choosing to open up about their fertility journey when the time was right also proved helpful.
“In the beginning, we wouldn’t have spoken about it. Everything would have been hush-hush,” says Maria.
“But as time went on and you spoke to other people, you felt that you weren’t on your own and there were so many people going through your journey as well.”
Maria feels that a turning point in their individual story was meeting Dr John Waterstone of Waterstone Clinic in Cork.
“He was always very positive for us,” says Maria, adding that “IVF has come on so much” since they first started on their fertility journey.
And while the initial cycles were not successful, in 2018 Maria and Willie found that they were expecting once again and this time the pregnancy progressed beyond the first trimester.
“It was a huge shock because every time it was a no, it was a no, it was a no,” says Maria, recalling the anxiety that came with each scan and check-up.
“Your heart is in your mouth, it’s horrible; that feeling of going in through those doors and then coming outside different. But I suppose until she [the baby] was 20 weeks, 21 weeks, we were very nervous.”
Happily, little Myah arrived into the world on 3 April 2019; though in a somewhat dramatic manner at 36 weeks in an emergency c-section after Maria’s fluid levels dropped dramatically.
“She was a tough little girl from the beginning,” smiles Maria of her daughter, who recently turned four.
“She’s so lovable,” she continues. “She lights up the room.”
Mama and Me
Myah’s long-awaited arrival signalled the start of another new chapter. Maria had always wanted to run her own business and after receiving so many gifts when Myah was born, she started to think about opening up her own online boutique selling children’s clothing and baby gifts.
Once again, Willie was her greatest supporter.
“Willie said to me: ‘Why don’t you give it a go? What’s the worst that can happen?’” says Maria, who also received great encouragement and advice from other friends in the retail business.
While the couple used savings to set up the business and buy stock etc (Maria estimates this cost around €50,000 all in) they also received an online trading voucher from their local enterprise office valued at €2,500 to help build the website. With a converted attic space for storage, Maria did not have to rent a premises, while the recent introduction of fibre broadband to her area was a significant boost for an online business.
So, in April 2022, Mama and Me kids’ boutique was launched, with Maria focusing on children’s clothing for special occasions, as well as new baby and new mother gifts. She also has a range of christening gowns and shawls, and is a stockist for GH Hurt & Son traditional lace knitwear; the company that has provided shawls to the British royal family from Prince Charles all the way down to Princess Charlotte.
She also sells Irish gifts, such as skincare products from Dublin Herbalists and Wilde Irish chocolate, and is hoping to source an Irish craftsperson to produce her own range of christening gowns.
And while it’s still early days for her business, Maria feels she has what it takes for the road ahead.
“I feel that I’m strong. I didn’t think I was as strong, but I look back now on the journey I went to get Myah and I would have done anything,” she reflects.
“I’m a very positive person. I just kind of say: ‘OK, what can we do or what road can we go?’
“I just kind of pick myself up and go again because if you sit down, you don’t go anywhere.”