Charlotte Blakeney is the brains behind one of Australia’s most beloved cult jewellery brands, By Charlotte. But despite the growing momentum and resounding success of her business, the designer struggled with an entirely different challenge on the sidelines.
Today is World Fertility Day. For some people, it’s just another Thursday, but for others, it’s a day filled with painful and bittersweet meaning. Australian jewellery designer, Charlotte Blakeney is all too familiar with the challenges attached to fertility. While all it takes for some people to conceive is a bottle of Tempranillo and a little bit of inhibition, not everyone’s experience is so simple.
Blakeney’s journey to motherhood was anything but straightforward, costing her and her partner six years, ten rounds of IVF, and three devastating miscarriages. Her experience, representative of so many women’s, was an emotional roller coaster that tested her resilience and strength in more ways than one, cycling between hope, relief, disappointment and grief.
Now, Blakeney is sharing her biggest learnings from her fertility struggles, encouraging women everywhere to take ownership of their reproductive health.
Like what you see? Sign up to our bodyandsoul.com.au newsletter for more stories like this.
Spending her twenties and thirties cultivating her career and travelling the world, the call of motherhood was only a distant hum for Blakeney, who was intently focused on her career as a makeup artist, and later growing her new jewellery business, By Charlotte. But, without a care for her career ambitions, Blakeney’s biological clock kept ticking, becoming increasingly impatient as the makeup artist-turned-jewellery designer’s thirties came to a close.
“I was a makeup artist for 20 years and I was travelling the world, living this gypsy kind of lifestyle where my feet were on the ground very often,” Blakeney says, adding that she didn’t meet her Partner, Ryan, until she was 36.
“One day I went to a gynaecologist and she was like, ‘Charlotte, you’re 40, do you want to have kids?’” she explains, recalling the sage advice of her doctor that immediately caused her to take her fertility seriously. She was told conceiving a baby at her age would likely be impossible without intervention, kickstarting her journey with IVF.
And what an arduous, brutal journey it was. Alongside her commitment to ten rounds of gruelling hormone treatments, egg retrievals and implantations, Blakeney sought out all kinds of alternative medicine, from detox cleanses to healers and Chinese medicine.
Finally, finding solace in the support of a spiritual healer, Michael Trembath, Blakeney entered her tenth (and final) round of IVF with a totally new outlook.
“[Trembath] got me on the bed and he said, ‘Do you love your body?’ And I was like, ‘No because it’s not doing what I want it to do’,” Blakeney says, recalling how the spiritual healer told her she desperately needed to start loving her body and her womb again if she wanted to fall pregnant.
“He sent me home with positive affirmations, and I had to say them every night,” she says. “It was just an awakening for me because I hadn’t had any love for my body for such a long time. And I was really depressed and sad.”
In the wake of Blakeney’s ninth failed round of IVF, she had begun to feel totally hopeless, recalling the overwhelming advice from her doctors, friends and family to concede defeat. “They told me on my last appointment, ‘You will do this, but honestly, it’s not going to work’,” says the mother of one. “It was the very last shot financially, emotionally and physically. We’d been trying for six years and I was not getting any younger.”
Blakeney’s story does have a happy ending, but not without years of heartache and disappointment. Whether through back-breaking perseverance, science, the power of manifestation, or maybe even luck, Blakeney and her partner’s dream of being parents was finally realised five years ago with the birth of their daughter, Estelle.
Channelling hope for other women
The toll of Blakeney’s fertility struggle extended far beyond her body, impacting almost every area of her life, from placing strain on her mental health and her relationship with her partner to the financial cost of each round and treatment course.
“We were on a high a little bit of a high and then in an extreme low, and that was a very dark time for Ryan and I when we would go through that,” Blakeney says. “But he was always my support, and he was my cheerleader the whole way.”
Rising from the ashes of her own arduous journey, Blakeney found herself taking on the role of cheerleader for other women going through a similar experience. By Charlotte’s beautiful pieces have become a staple in many people’s jewellery collections, caching one’s eye with their radiant simplicity. But each delicate gemstone and design is laced with meaning, embodying her personal belief in the power of manifestation and positive affirmations.
“The point when I started putting mantras on my jewellery was when I started seeing Michael because I knew how amazing the mantras were and they really worked,” explains Blakeney. “Potentially it could change someone else’s mindset and really help them in their day-to-day life with whatever they’re feeling and whatever they’re doing.”
Speaking to Blakeney, she beams with positivity, hopefulness and patience, qualities that I am sure held her head up throughout the many arduous IVF rounds her body endured. As someone who yearns to experience motherhood one day, I can empathise deeply with Blakeney’s story.
While each woman’s fertility and journey to motherhood is laced with its own complexities, Blakeney is an advocate for being properly educated on your body’s health and egg count, as well as understanding the unavoidable biological impact of delaying conception.
“I would just say to women, don’t ignore the signs, don’t hold on to a relationship that’s not working,” she says urging women to be proactive in their choices throughout their twenties and thirties to arm themselves with the best possible chance of conception. “Just live your life and if you want to have kids, make that happen.”
As for Blakeney, the drowning disappointment and physical exhaustion that came with her fertility struggles were entirely worth it.
“I just love living my life through [Estelle’s] eyes, I think it’s almost been like a rebirth for me as a person,” she says. “She’s made me extremely patient, I just I stop and smell the roses. I just feel complete.”