We chat to gorgeous celebrity Sami Lukis about life, love and her journey to try and have a baby as seen in Australians Exposed: Sami's Baby
Why did you decide to make this documentary?
As a single 40-year-old woman, I decided to have my ovarian reserves tested. The results were shocking. I discovered I was fast running out of fertile months. With no boyfriend on the scene, I started investigating my options for having a baby, as a single woman, and I realised how little I knew or understood about the realities of fertility.
It seems we’re hearing about more and more women in their late 30s / early 40s who are making the decision to become “single mums” - and I realised that clearly, this is an issue for women of my generation, although it’s an issue that hasn’t had much air time. I saw an opportunity to document my journey - as both a journalist, and a 40 year old woman living through this very real situation.I then handed over all production control to a production company, Circe Films, in Melbourne - feeling confident that the Producer Anna Bateman, would make a film that would tell my story honestly, and without judgement - and at the same time, raise awareness about the issue of fertility for women.
What are the key messages you hope viewers take away from the program?
I hope the documentary sheds light on the issue of fertility, gets women talking and hopefully prompts more education and awareness about the issue for the next generation. When I was in school, it seemed sex education classes were only really about teaching kids how NOT to get pregnant. But as a single 40 year old woman facing a “fertility crisis”, it got me thinking ... Why weren’t we educated about fertility and the realities of what happens in our own bodies as we get older?
The main message for the next generation of women is: “Don’t ignore your fertility”. Girls need to know that their fertility is not an unlimited resource. Our eggs have a “use by” date so unfortunately, it really is a case of “use it or lose it”. If you want to have a baby, you really need to start investigating your options in your early 30s - at the latest ! Because by the age of 40 - for most women - it becomes a case of “Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Enter The Maternity Ward” (I love that quote! I read it in a magazine in the States, written by a woman going through the same thing as me).
These days, as women, we can achieve pretty much the same career success as men. We can be CEOs, Doctors, Pilots, Prime Ministers. And while that’s an incredibly positive, empowering message for young women, there’s another important message that needs to get through. As a woman, there’s one area, where you have a unique and very special opportunity to do something so wonderful and life-changing - something a man will never be able to do. That is - to create life, to experience pregnancy, and to give birth to another human being. And to experience that magical bond between mother and child - the kind of bond that’s achieved through giving birth.
Having considered all the different options available to try and have a baby as a single woman, what method do you believe is the best?
Advances in medicine and modern technology are now enabling some women to become single mums by choice - so they don’t have to miss out on having kids, even if they didn’t meet “Mr Right” in time. I consider myself pretty lucky that i’m living in an age where this is possible - because it wouldn’t have been possible 20 years ago.
There are various options - it really depends on your personal preference, your age, and the timing. You need to make the decision that’s right for you ... Freezing your eggs, Sperm donor, Egg donor, Donor via a male friend, Adoption.
If you’re ready to have a baby right now, and there’s no sign of (or you’ve given up the search for) “Mr Right”, Sperm Donor is an option. The laws are pretty clear here in Australia and it’s a fairly straightforward process. Right now, many Danish men are spreading their genes around the world via the world’s biggest Sperm Bank - Cryos International (Read the article here)If you’d prefer Aussie genes, there are local clinics - I visited the lovely ladies at Fertilty East. They have a decent bank of local donors.
Egg Freezing initially sounded like the answer to my prayers. I’d have a batch of my remaining healthy eggs extracted and put in the freezer for later - just in case I do meet “Mr Right” down the track. But after further investigation I realised it’s still fairly unreliable (best case for me is 15% chance the eggs will be viable when I need to “un-freeze” them), it’s expensive, and the surgical risks are too high.
Egg Donation is an option if you decide to just “wait and see” and wait until you meet Prince Charming. If, by the time you meet Mr Right, your eggs are too old and not viable, you can use an egg donor with your man’s sperm - but you still get to carry the child, and experience pregnancy and birth.
Have you ever tried or considered trying internet dating?
No. Internet Dating is not for me. Ironically, I skipped internet dating and went straight to checking out online sperm donors instead.
The palm reader you mention in your Video Diary guaranteed you would give birth to two children! AND that you’ll be pregnant in April 2011 – any updates for us?! Watch Sami's Video Diary here.
It’s a work in progress. I’ve been told by various psychics over the years that I would have a son. Although I recently went to another psychic in Whistler, Canada - and she told me I would absolutely have a child - but only one - and it would be a girl.
What was the one thing that surprised you most throughout this journey? ?
The thing that really surprised me most is how little I knew about fertility. And the reality is that women really aren’t educated about this issue.
The most alarming statistic I found out is that the absolute best chance I have, at my age, of conceiving naturally each month is now just 5%. The really frustrating thing about that is the realisation that there's absolutely nothing I can do to turn back or slow down my biological clock.
A healthy 30 year old has about a 20% chance of falling pregnant naturally each month. Then the probability of conceiving naturally drops around 5% each year after that. So by the age of 40, I'm well into single figures. And as if that’s already depressing enough to accept, even if I do manage to fall pregnant, my chance of miscarriage is now around 1 in 2. Also - did you know that girls start losing eggs even before they're born? A fetus has around 6-7 million eggs, but a baby girl is born with only around 1-2 million eggs. That means you've already lost 80 per cent of your eggs before you even enter the world !
You mention in your video diary that if ever had a daughter of your own you will tell her to try and find a partner by 30. But dont you think to a certain extent it’s difficult to control when you meet the ‘right one’?
My advice would be: Don’t waste too much time in dysfunctional relationships with men you know aren’t right for you. That was my big mistake in relationships. Because looking back now, I realise that every month I stayed in a bad relationship with some loser, was another month of my fertility wasted - valuable time I can never get back.
Do you you think you have been too picky when it comes to men?
It really annoys me when people assume I’m in this situation because I was too picky with relationships. If anything I wasn’t picky enough ! I spent far too long in some pretty awful, destructive relationships. I should have had the courage to quit them sooner. Instead, I stayed, trying to fix the relationship and make it work at all costs - even though I knew it wasn’t working.
I actually consider myself really smart and pretty lucky, for not marrying any of my past boyfriends.
I just didn’t find “the One”. I’ve had plenty of boyfriends - mostly good, some shockers ! I’ve had some wonderful long term relationships. There were even a few Almost Mr Rights. I’ve even been proposed to a few times. But I just didn’t find someone I wanted to be married to, and spend the rest of my life with.
Do you have any regrets about being so career-focused throughout your 20s and 30s?
I put my career first. And I don’t regret it. I’ve had so many incredible opportunities, and I’ve achieved everything, and more, I ever imagined possible, from my career.
But because my career was so incredibly fulfilling and rewarding - my maternal instincts really didn’t kick in until the last few years. I just never really felt like anything was “missing” in my life. And babies weren’t a priority. Career, Travel, Find Love, Get Married, Buy a Dog, Learn French - they all rated higher on my life’s “to do” list.
Knowing what I know now about fertility, I realise I should have put Babies at the top of that list a long time ago.
What are your plans from here – both personally and professionally?
I’ve quit full time work. As soon as I found out the facts about my fertility, I decided I needed to really focus on my health and wellbeing. After 10 years of waking up at 4am for breakfast TV & Radio, I think it’s time to give my body a break. For me, 2011 is focused on baby.