Supporting the journey of motherhood, in style
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Caterina Mete On IVF, Being Pregnant At 43, And Solo Motherhood

Caterina Mete, aka Red Wiggle, is pregnant with twin girls via a donor at 43 years old. She shares her incredible story with THE INARRA.

Caterina Mete is a member of the iconic Australian children’s music group The Wiggles. She has been a part of The Wiggles since 2003 – first, she was a dancer, then a choreographer, and in 2021 she became a Red Wiggle, donning the famous red skivvy.

Music and dance have always been a big part of Caterina’s life. She started dancing at age seven at her local dance school. “I grew up listening to Elvis, Dolly Parton, The Carpenters, The Beatles and, thanks to two older siblings, 80s rock bands such as Bon Jovi and Europe,” Caterina tells THE INARRA. “I have fond memories of watching Young Talent Time with the family every Saturday night and hoping to one day perform like the children on the show.” 

Caterina grew up in Melbourne in a working-class Italian family of six. Both of her parents worked two jobs to support the family. During the week her father was a truck driver and her mother worked in a laundry department at a hospital; on weekends, he waited tables and she was a kitchen hand at their local Chinese restaurant. From her parents, Caterina learnt about work ethic and the importance of being kind, polite and courteous.

Caterina has always dreamt of becoming a mother and having a big family of her own. In her late 30s, she decided to freeze her eggs. “I was inspired by a friend of mine,” she says. “She knew I wanted children and my biological clock was ticking, but I was also so focused on my career. 

“One day she said to me, ‘Have you ever considered freezing your eggs?’. I had thought about egg freezing but didn’t know much about the process. I then decided to look into it further and book my first appointment with a fertility clinic.”

“IVF can be very challenging as it’s expensive, but in some states in Australia, they are offering IVF rebates which can help a lot of people. If it’s financially practical, my advice would be to do it if you can and the earlier the better."
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Although she was prepared for the emotional and physical toll that egg freezing can take on the body, Caterina felt physically fine during the three rounds she did. After her eggs were retrieved, Caterina assessed her options for starting a family and decided to go down the donor route, with the help of her fertility clinic.

“The clinic was great with providing suitable local donors who they have recruited, and offered counselling and support through the process,” she says. “You are provided with the donor’s personal medical history as well as their parent’s medical history. You are also given some information about the donor’s interests and hobbies and, in some cases, a baby photo of them. The clinic also conducts genetic testing and medical screenings to improve your chances of the donor being biologically compatible.”

Caterina created two embryos with her chosen donor, but sadly she suffered a miscarriage from the first embryo transfer. “It was certainly a shock to find out I had miscarried,” she says. “I spoke to lots of women about it and was surprised to find out how common it is. I think talking about it has helped me through the healing process.”

After her second and final embryo transfer, Caterina received the amazing news that she was pregnant with twins. “It was truly a miracle!” she says. “The doctor who did my scan that day was a father of twins and their birthday was on the day of my scan, I told him it definitely was a good sign!”

Caterina has experienced nervousness throughout her pregnancy, especially during her first trimester. “I like to listen to positive affirmations about being pregnant to help me stay calm throughout the pregnancy,” she says. 

Although she told her family and friends that she was freezing her eggs, she only told a handful of people she was creating embryos, “in case it didn’t work.”

During the IVF process, she supported herself by staying active with dance classes and yoga, doing acupuncture and taking Chinese herbal medicine.

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Having conceived via an IVF donor, Caterina has some advice for other women considering a similar route. “I have learnt that going through IVF can be quite difficult for people and the journey can be emotionally and physically demanding. It often involves multiple rounds of treatment, financial strain, and significant emotional ups and downs.

IVF can be very challenging as it’s expensive, but in some states in Australia, they are offering IVF rebates which can help a lot of people. If it’s financially practical, my advice would be to do it if you can and the earlier the better.

“I know it can feel a bit daunting initially but there is a beautiful and supportive community of ‘Solo Mums by Choice’. They have really helped me throughout this journey. I have never felt alone through the process and they are an incredible group of women!”

Caterina has made history as the first-ever pregnant Wiggle and has become a role model for modern families. She talked about her pregnancy on Wiggle and Learn – a new educational YouTube series for toddlers – to demonstrate to children that families come in many shapes and sizes.

“It has been lovely to introduce the concept of pregnancy in simple terms that children can understand, such as explaining how a baby grows inside a mother’s belly. We always use age-appropriate language and visual aids, such as illustrations or animations, to help children grasp the concept. I feel honoured to have been the first pregnant Wiggle that children have seen.

“In addition to the other Wiggles who have tertiary accreditations in early childhood, I’ve almost completed my Bachelor of Education in Early Childhood and Primary so I can say first-hand that the series is world-class in terms of utilising best practice contemporary guidelines around early childhood learning. 

“The content is designed to foster active participation and engagement to generate the best learning experience and it’s been produced with audience engagement in mind, mostly using close-up shots, so that children feel like The Wiggles are speaking directly and only to them. In this way, it was nice to be able to tell the children directly that I was pregnant with twins!”

The final live show Caterina did before going on maternity leave was in May this year, during the Adelaide stop of the Wiggle Groove Tour. “It was nice to be surrounded by so much love and support from the audience and the Wiggly cast and crew,” she says.

“It has been so lovely to meet families at our live shows and receive beautiful signs and presents from children. It is lovely that parents have been able to explain to their children that I am pregnant.”

Caterina is looking forward to involving her twin daughters in The Wiggles. “I feel so lucky to be part of a company where children are at the centre of what we do. It’s naturally a very family-friendly environment. I know my girls will be able to come on the road with me and there will be no shortage of babysitters! 

“Purple Wiggle Lachy’s twin girls and Red Wiggle Simon’s son are all currently toddlers and they love visiting the studio when we’re recording and coming to the live shows. OG Blue Wiggle Anthony’s daughter Lucia also grew up with the Wiggles and now she’s a Blue Wiggle alongside him! It’s a beautiful place to work and I feel grateful that I’ll be able to share it with my girls.”

Caterina is ready to be the best mother and embrace a whole new world. “I’m so excited about motherhood and the journey it takes you on. I feel so lucky that I will have double the love, double the smiles and two little girls to share life with.

“I know that I will have my hands full but I will just go with it! I know I’m well supported by family, friends and colleagues, so I will prioritise health and balancing my home life and work life so I can do the best I can on both fronts.”

 

Words by Ellie Wiseman | Photography by Rainee Lantry, Cloud Nine Photography

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