The Wiggles: Caterina Mete, Red Wiggle, speaks about IVF, pregnancy for the first time | Something To Talk About

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Before she became an official Wiggle sporting a red skivvy, Caterina Mete had already been part of the children’s entertainment juggernaut for 20 years as a dancer and choreographer. Now, she’s opening up about her most personal role yet: as a mother-to-be.

In a candid interview with Stellar’s podcast Something To Talk About, the 43-year-old explains why she’s choosing motherhood on her own terms, as she traces her deeply personal path to becoming pregnant with twins via IVF.

You recently announced that you’re pregnant with identical twin girls. How are you feeling?

“I’m feeling pretty good at the moment. The first trimester, I felt a little bit nauseous and extremely tired. People kept telling me, ‘You’ll be fine in the second trimester, you get this burst of energy’, so I’m feeling really good. I occasionally get a bad back so I’ve got

a back brace I wear when that happens, and I’m starting to get the swollen hands and feet that everyone talks about. But other than that, I feel great.”

Listen to the full episode of Something To Talk About featuring Caterina Mete below:

In your social media announcement you revealed that this pregnancy has come after a long journey through IVF, and that you ultimately chose an anonymous donor from a fertility clinic – details that you weren’t obligated to share. What prompted you to decide to talk about it?

“I’m a pretty open and honest person. So it was something that I was never ashamed about. I was quite happy to tell people this is how I did it and, by being honest, you realise a lot of people have done it this way, too. So I was more than happy to share and to tell people my story. And, through that, a lot of people have reached out to me and told me their story, too. There have been some amazing stories [about] what women and families go through to fall pregnant. It’s lovely to connect with people in that way.”

Can you tell us a little about the specifics of that long journey?

“When I was about 37, I decided to start egg freezing. It was actually a friend of mine at the time who was like, ‘Have you ever thought of that?’ I hadn’t, really, and it’s only because she brought it that up I started to look into it. It’s quite an expensive process, but I thought, I’m just going to do it. The first egg retrieval, they managed to retrieve seven eggs, and I did it the next year and they only got one, and then I did it the following year and they got two. It was amazing to see how diminished my egg supply went in just two years. I say to people now: if I could go back, I would have started it earlier. I know not everybody can because it is expensive. Then, during Covid, as hard as it was for everybody, it was a time to reassess your life and see what you wanted to do. I was like, I think I’m ready to have children.”

Once you’d made that decision to have a family, how was the actual physical and emotional journey that followed?

“It was tough. You [have] moments when you cry. You’re like, I don’t have a partner, it’s just me, how am I going to do it? And then you just go, Stop. Just do it. What are you waiting for? I’m older. I can’t be waiting any longer because that’s just unfortunately how the body is. You’ve got a time limit. I came to terms with it and then, when I started, when I decided on the donor, then embryos were created. I was fortunate to get two embryos, which is pretty good because I only had nine eggs; the more eggs you have, the more chances of creating embryos. I had my first embryo transfer, and before I went into it, in my head I was like, this isn’t going to work. I just had this feeling. Then you wait 10 days, and the doctor rings and is like, ‘Congratulations.’ I was in shock; it worked. So you deal with that and you’re happy and you go through all of that emotion … and then at eight, nine weeks, I miscarried. It was a shock to the system because you hear about miscarriages but you don’t think that’s happening to you. That was hard to deal with, but it’s amazing how many women go through it and obviously they don’t like to talk about it because it’s so hard and horrible. I was like, I’ve only got one embryo left. Before I even had the transfer, I kept thinking, what happens if that doesn’t work? I started looking at other options because I was scared. But thankfully it worked. When I had the ultrasound and the doctor scanned one side then went over to the other side, I just went, ‘Oh my goodness, I think that’s a second one,’ and he’s like, ‘Congratulations.’ It was a real miracle to have two with my last embryo.”

What has the reaction been from your friends and family?

“It’s funny because I come from an Italian family – my mum, my aunties and uncles, they were born in a different country; they’re not used to [the idea of a donor]. And not one person said, ‘Who’s the father?’ Not one, and that really shocked me. As soon as I said, ‘I’m pregnant,’ they’re like, ‘Oh, that’s great.’ They didn’t ask anything, and I thought that was so interesting because they’re in their 70s, 80s. I thought, well, they’re understanding the different times now.”

Not everyone has been so respectful. How do you manage that sort of speculation and the rumour mill that comes with the public part of your job?

“Look, I just ignore that because I know the truth. I quite happily will say this is the journey I went on and it involved a donor from my fertility clinic. That’s the honest truth. People like to speculate but there’s nothing to speculate about, because that’s what happened.”

The influence of The Wiggles is huge, not just in Australia but globally. We talk about high-profile role models – there would be lots of pregnant women in the audience at the average Wiggles concert, and they probably feel very seen, thanks to you.

“It’s quite beautiful what The Wiggles bring to children, and it’s nice to be a part of that journey. I’m the first pregnant Wiggle, essentially. Obviously the boys have had babies, but it’s their wife or partner who’s been pregnant. [At] shows it’s announced at the start that I’m pregnant in case people didn’t know, and it’s nice that families can talk to their children and say, ‘Oh, she’s having a baby, like how Mummy was.’ It’s nice teaching children about that, too.”

Watch The Wiggles’ new YouTube series Wiggle And Learn or see them live on tour. For details, visit thewiggles.com.

Listen to the full episode of Stellar’s podcast Something To Talk About with Caterina Mete below:

Originally published as ‘I’m happy to tell people, this is how I did it’: How Red Wiggle Caterina Mete is changing what a family looks like