Renae Ayris and Andrew Papadopoulos: ‘Our miracle baby’

The Aussie couple tell all about their difficult fertility journey.
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Former Miss Universe Australia Renae Ayris says becoming a mum has always been high up on her to-do list.

WATCH BELOW: Renae Ayris’ pregnancy journey

“Even when I was in school, I always used to write ‘I want to be a mum’ when asked what I wanted to do when I grew up,” the 30-year-old confesses to WHO.

“That’s always something that I wanted and that’s always been at the forefront of my mind since we got married.”

After tying the knot with now-husband Andrew Papadopoulos, 31, in a stunning ceremony in NSW’s Hunter Valley in November 2019, the newlyweds were ready to start their family.

Only, like many couples, they found the months passing, frustratingly waiting for those two lines to appear on the pregnancy test.

“Particularly when you’re young and you’re told that [if] you look at a girl the wrong way, she might get pregnant. It was a shock to be trying for a baby and it not happen,” athlete and personal trainer Andrew explains.

When the months turned into a year, the couple decided to visit a fertility specialist and were given the diagnosis of unexplained infertility.

Renae and Andrew faced unexplained infertility. (Credit: Jarrad Seng for WHO)

“I kind of wanted something to blame it on,” Renae admits.

“But they were like, ‘No, this is actually a good outcome because it does mean you will get pregnant. We just don’t know how long it will take.’”

Although they battled through more heartbreak when their first round of intrauterine insemination (IUI) failed, when their second try did succeed, the pair knew they wanted to share their journey to help others going through their own struggles.

The couple are finally pregnant after a year and a half of trying. (Credit: Jarrad Seng for WHO)

“We thought, if we were to announce our news and share this journey, it’s going to also have an effect – whether it’s healing 
and comfort or hope,” Andrew shares.

“We can provide that to the people who are suffering with infertility now, but also for people who have no idea – which we didn’t either before trying – that this is a common occurrence and to maybe be a little bit more mindful when you’re talking about pregnancy. We also wanted to help make the [infertility] conversation non-taboo.”

The two are expecting a December baby. (Credit: Jarrad Seng for WHO)

Firstly, congratulations on the baby news! Renae, how are you feeling now that you’re through the first trimester?

I’m feeling great. I was pretty sick up until about 13-14 weeks, then one day I just woke up and it was like a flicked switch and I just felt human again.

When is the little one due?

Around December 23. A Christmas baby 
– it will be the best present ever, I’m sure.

How did you tell Andrew?  

Renae: He was actually away on [fitness retreat] Active Escapes in Noosa, so the only option I could really do was FaceTime him. So, I FaceTimed him and I said, “Oh, I just found out another person’s pregnant.” And he’s like, “Oh, I’m so sorry, our time 
will come.” And I was like, “And it’s us!” 
And it was like the whole camera just froze, like, “What?!”

Andrew: It was definitely a shock!

“I feel like if you haven’t gone through it yourself, it’s just something that you can’t really relate to.” (Credit: Instagram)

Have you started doing any baby shopping yet?

Andrew: We haven’t started, but Renae’s mother has almost finished it for us.

Renae: She’s out of control, literally every second day something else arrives!

You have been quite vocal about your fertility struggles on social media. Why was it important for you both to share that with your followers?

Renae: I think for me when I was going through it, as much as I had support from Andrew and my family, it still felt like a very, very lonely journey. I feel like if you haven’t gone through it yourself, it’s just something that you can’t really relate to. Whenever I was scrolling social media and I came across someone that was struggling, it really helped me seeing what they were going through and seeing that other people were actually going through the same thing. I personally didn’t know anyone, didn’t have any friends or any acquaintances that had struggled with infertility, so it was nice seeing [on social media] that other people, and a lot of them, were struggling with the same thing. I just wanted to share that to make it a little bit more real.

Andrew: Renae remembers what it’s like to hear other people’s amazing news when they announce it, and rightfully so, it’s a beautiful thing. But it was really hard to juggle the emotions of being happy, particularly for close friends. And then also juggle the emotions that it’s heartbreaking that it’s not coming as easily for us as it is for other people.

How did you feel when you got your unexplained infertility diagnosis?

Renae: It was frustrating. So after about seven months of trying, I went to my local GP and said, “Could you please just run every test under the sun, just so I know that we’re on the right track?” I know they say wait 12 months until you go and see a fertility specialist. So, I just wanted to make sure that everything was all clear and she kind of just laughed it off. She’s like, “Oh, you’re both young. You’ll be back in a few months and you’ll be pregnant.” We kept trying naturally the rest of the year until about December. And then December rolled around, and I was like, “OK, we’ve got to go see the fertility clinic now.” And that’s when they ran all the extra tests. Then we went back in to see them and they were like, “Everything’s normal, so we diagnose this as unexplained infertility.” It actually is a good outcome, as much as it is frustrating, it’s one of the best outcomes you can have.

“I feel like Andrew felt it harder than me sometimes, because he wasn’t in my head knowing how I felt.” (Credit: Instagram)

And what was the response when you opened up about it on social media?

Renae: Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of women, even men, actually, are still reaching out on Instagram saying, “Thank you so much for sharing this, we’re going through the same thing now.” Everyone’s journey is different. Some people might be saying, “I’ve been trying for six months,” which I also know is a struggle because I got to six months and it still felt like forever. So, I’m glad I can be there for people to reach out to me as well.

Andrew: People feel either embarrassed by it or they feel like it’s taboo. It’s a very personal and a very heavy topic, of course, and there’s a lot of emotion attached to it and confusion and frustration.  [But] I feel that people should be encouraged to speak to someone. While they don’t always understand what’s going on, they will at least have some support.

And speaking of support, how did you support each other through it?

Renae: I feel like Andrew felt it harder than me sometimes, because he wasn’t in my head knowing how I felt.

Andrew: For me, it was just hard to see Renae. It felt like she was alone on this journey and I could be as comforting and caring and sincere and empathetic and try all these different things, but it just didn’t solve the problem. It was just like having a dark cloud over her head the whole time, which was really upsetting to see – when you’re someone who wants 
to see them at their best and happiness.

Renae, how did you cope with the whole process?

Renae: It was very physically and emotionally draining. It was just on my mind 24/7. I felt like last year, as happy as I was for everyone, I felt like I was getting a call every month saying that someone else was pregnant – it was tough. I know others have it so much worse as well. It took us a year and a half but I’ve had people saying, “We’ve been trying for five years – we’ve had round after round of IVF fail.” And I’m just like, “How are you doing this?” Treatment isn’t cheap either, so it’s a hard decision to have to make.

Andrew: We’re much luckier here in Australia than many other countries, of course. But we definitely feel for those people who may have had the chance to have a child but couldn’t afford it, it’s heartbreaking.

Congratulations Renae and Andrew! (Credit: Instagram)

Now that you’re finally pregnant, do you have any babymoon plans?

Renae: Yes, [we’re hopefully] going to Broome in early September, which will be nice. I’m craving some sunshine!

What are you both most looking forward to when bub arrives?

Renae: I think just starting a little 
family together.

Andrew: I think I’m looking forward to it dawning on me that this is a reality.

Renae: Oh yeah, I still don’t feel like it’s reality yet.

Andrew: Renae doesn’t think that it’s actually real. But I’m like, “Renae, your pants aren’t fitting you.” [Laughs.] 
Like Renae said, ever since I’ve known her, family is such an important thing to her. I think when I get to see her start her own, that’s going to be awesome. Oh, and finding out if it’s a boy or girl!

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