When Hannah and Manu Fisi' 'hoi first start trying for a baby, they had visions of half a dozen mini-me's running around their Hamilton home.

The young couple couldn't have imagined that two years into their attempts to conceive they would still be childless and launching into their first round of IVF treatment.

Their relationship was something of a whirlwind - the pair met in 2015 when Hannah was 21, and Manu 24, and within a month were engaged.

They tied the knot several months later in Hamilton and began trying for a child after a year of marriage. They both grew up in big families - Manu is Tongan and Hannah is Maori - and harboured dreams of replicating this.


To their surprise, their initial efforts to conceive were unsuccessful.

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A trip to the doctors led to a four-month wait to get into a fertility specialist clinic - where "a bunch of tests" resulted in the news that Manu had a low sperm count.

Speaking to the Weekend Herald about the discovery, Manu describes it as a bit emasculating, knowing the problem is all his.

"My pride, my mojo, to put it in slang terms, was just taken from me."

"I felt so insecure that I didn't feel like I could be intimate with my wife after that. It was a struggle to get over that."

Manu says he went through a little dark patch, then shook himself out of it when he realised how lucky they were that help was available.

"I realised how grateful I should have been - that there's actually people out there, an agency who is able to publicly fund people who have these conditions."


Manu, whose health is otherwise good, says it's this sense of gratefulness that has helped him through the lengthy wait to the top of the list for publicly funded IVF.

Hannah describes the process of waiting for IVF as a learning curve.

Hannah and Manu Fisi'ihoi have just started IVF treatment, after finding out Manu had fertility issues around 2 years ago. Photo / Doug Sherring.
Hannah and Manu Fisi'ihoi have just started IVF treatment, after finding out Manu had fertility issues around 2 years ago. Photo / Doug Sherring.

She hasn't had anyone close to her go through the treatment and didn't know there were special clinics for it until she was suddenly booking herself in.

"That's when all the information started trickling in, and since then we've been learning new information almost every day about everything that goes on," she says.

Talking to friends and family about the issue can be challenging, she says, particularly when you're confronted with looks of pity.

"That affects you - you're like, 'I don't want you to feel sad for me, I want you to understand but I don't know how to explain it."

Because of this, Hannah has started a blog where she writes about her feelings

She and Manu have also invested in video gear and are starting a YouTube channel, where they're planning to document the next stage of their journey.

Hannah and Manu started IVF last weekend.

The pair have been told they have around a 55 per cent chance of the treatment being successful - this is above average for the IVF success rate.

The process hasn't extinguished the Fisi' 'hoi's dreams of a big family, but Manu says at this stage, they will certainly settle for less.

The Government will fund two IVF treatments to women under 40, if they meet certain health criteria.

Hannah says the pair are hoping to have as many of their own children as they can.

After that, they will look at other ways they can expand their clan.

Adoption is on the list of possibilities, if IVF doesn't work out or they can't afford the additional rounds.

At this point, Manu says he will be happy even with justone baby.

"I'd be over the top if my wife was able to have just one kid," he said.

"That would be all the kids that I need."