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Sally Towne's Journey Part 1

Sally Towne's Journey Part 1

Sally Towne on 5th Jan 2022

Kelly Shann:

People often come through our lives, who we know well enough to say a polite hello to, but don't really know too much more about them. That was my relationship with Sally Towne, a beautiful Western Queensland woman whose daughter won a horse competition.When my daughter plays second. That's how we would describe the Townes from time to time.

If they came up in conversation at home, we'd say, you know them, Lily, their little girl won the challenge at Cloncurry when you came second. Well, it turns out Sally has an incredible story filled with determination, adaptability, love, disappointment success, trauma. And did I mention love? Here is Sally's story. Get your tissues out because I think you'll need them. 

Kelly Shann:

Hi Sal and thank you so much for joining me today.

Sally Towne:

No problem at all. Thank you very much.

Kelly Shann:

Do you like my nice wallpaper in the background? You're obviously at home, but I'm obviously not because my house isn't as flash as this , but I'm staying at a beautiful little Motel in the Valley in Brisbane. And it's just nice to get out of the dust for a little while. And the kids are a really good excuse to come away and, and do some nice things.

Sally Towne:

What are we going to do in school? We don't have an excuse to go over to the East coast and, and stay for a few days.

Kelly Shann:

That's a bugger, isn't it? Oh, gosh. Yeah. and so look, I know that you have such a important message to share, but you, you have such an incredible story right from when you were born.

Kelly Shann:

And so I really want to start with when you were a little girl and you grew up in Sydney, cause you grew up in, in one of the biggest cities in Australia, and now you live in one of the most remote parts of Australia, which you've done all your adult life and you not only fit it in, but you thrive out there. But anyway, tell me about growing up in Sydney and, and how you came to know that you wanted to be in the Bush.

Sally Towne:

So I grew up in Sydney. Yeah. We just grew up in a normal little small suburban house in Sydney. Right from as long as I can remember, the, the minute I was able to walk, I was just obsessed with horses.

Like, but everyone in my family was told, you know, it's a stage she's going through that where I all little girls are obsessed with horses because we didn't have any access. You know, we didn't have a property or anything like that to have a horse. So mum and dad worked very, very hard to send my brother and I to two really good schools.

And I think at the time you certainly, as children, don't, don't appreciate what your parents do for you from an early age. I was only three. I think when my mom, dad separated

And I didn't know at the time, but now looking back to this day, to this day, like I've ever heard my parents say a bad word about each other. I always, you know, if anything, if either of us ever did anything that was, I don't, you know, that's disrespectful, don't say that like they would always stick up for each other right through. And I think that was probably the very first unbeknownst to my brother and I, than that we had early in life, how, you know, just wonderful. My parents were there to support us and grow us up, you know, in a way that a lot of divorced parents that doesn't happen. So I just appreciate so much, you know, what they did for us mom would work two jobs, dad, you know, just work so hard and you know, I'll forever be grateful for them doing that.

And as like I went through the high school years, I just nagged mom and nagged and nagged and nagged, but I'll do something to do with horses. Anyways. Somehow mom found this wonderful lady out Kenthurst that did similar things for girls like myself that we're just so passionate about this, but weren't able to have their own horses. So yeah, from about the age of 10, I went out every weekend. My mum would take me out and I'd go out there and clean stables and groom horses and do whatever I did. And this is probably the lesson early in life that I learned. The more, you know, the more you give, the more you receive because as I grew up this lovely lady, miss braille, she gave me a horse for my own. And it was the ugliest little hariest thing that I just thought it was just beautiful.

And like we went and we did some shows. And I'll always remember that, you know, I had this hairy little shaggy pony and you're in the show against all these magnificent, beautiful. But you know, for me to just get one even was amazing. So I grew up through my high school years. I'm very obsessed with, you know, doing, like going out and doing this on the weekend. And My sport you know, I love my sport at school and dad was always there helping me train with sports. I had an amazing upbringing and forever grateful to mum and dad for allowing that. And somehow I was always, I always knew when I left school, I wanted to do something to do with horses or the country. And I think the way like I was always the like, so I was a day girl.

I was the day girl at my school that always wished I was a boarder. Like I just really, you know, wished that I could be out in the country. So my uncle was actually, so my dad's brother had properties in new South Wales. So Whenever I could, I would go out to his place in holidays and, you know, go to my friend's boarders places. And to this day, my very best friend Hyde, we she actually went through school with me and then we went North together and the rest is history. Yeah. But I'll talk about that later, but yeah, so that was kind of my upbringing in suburban Sydney, but always pushing the boundaries to get out to the country and

Kelly Shann:

That dream when you're a little girl living in Sydney and growing up that must've just seemed so unattainable to you.

Sally Towne:

And I was always the girl like you know, my friends that were boarders and had this amazing life and I had the properties and they had their horses and I'm like, Oh, that's just, that's what I want. That's me. And like, from a very young age, I just set myself this goal that's was going to be me. That's what I want when I grow up. That's the lifestyle that I want. Like, I don't think I want to do real things. And you know, so from a very young age that I had this dream of that's what I wanted to do.

Kelly Shann:

How did, how did you get up into the territory to start?

Sally Towne:

From when I was in grade 12 and there was a thing called Droving 88, which was the big, last spice Centennial cattle drive. And it was pretty much from the Northern territory across and it finished in Longreach. So there was two components of this. There was actually the big cattle drive, but also there was two weeks stints on all sorts of stations all up through the territory. And there was 20,000 people that applied for this worldwide sorry, Australia wide and 375 got picked. And unbeknownst to me, I've got no idea how I did, but I got picked, and I still remember, so you had to go and have, it was at the Castle Hill show grounds. I still remember. And most people that went there brought their floats and their own horses too. Cause you had to have a riding test to see if you could go up there. And I still, you know, cause I didn't have my horse. I just went there and the guy just told me, go saddle up that horse and go for a ride.

So anyway I did. And you know, it was with that amongst interviews and other stuff you had to do and through submissions, but somehow I got picked. And so I went for two weeks in the Easter holidays of grade 12, which was a, it was just the most amazing experience. Like there'd been no women work in the territory at that stage.

And like here, there are these, I can't even remember how many, 10 or 12 young school kids coming up and going on to this place. And it was just like to this day, there's some wonderful women that kind of took our skills under their wings at marketing station. I'm still like very dear friends with them now. So that was two weeks. It was just the most amazing experience and probably not great timing at the beginning of grade 12 because I gave my head, all I wanted to do was get back up there. It was just amazing. Like I can't even explain it. Like it was kind of my dream that I'd always live up to, to be up there and came back. There was just no way mom and dad were going to let me go North. Like they didn't even, you know, we're a city family, this was all just so what's happening with my daughter and why does she want to go up there? You know, this isn't the path it's meant to be uni and then whatever and whatever. And somehow I don't know how, but I just nagged and nagged and nagged hopefully, the man, the owner of marketing station rang my father, my dad and mom, and said, look, you know, basically reassuring them that we're normal people up here. We're not like bully as what all of you people think, you know? And so somehow he talked mom and dad around to allowing me to go so finished year 12 and like, yeah, pretty much for the whole of year 12, I was just so focused on, you know, study and uni and all that stuff had just completely blown out the door for me. Once I had gone up there for that two weeks, which was not great for mom and dad to hear,

Kelly Shann:

At least you weren't boy - crazy and thinking at least.

Sally Towne:

It wasn't like that. Dad was sure that I will walk down the aisle and bear horse. So, so that was somehow the agreement was that, okay, we'll let you go up there. You can have one year and as long as just, you know, defer uni and then you go back to uni and I'm like, yep, cool. I'm onto that.

So that's the, you know, this is the next journey of my life, which was just incredible that first year your mom came up with me and settled me in and you know, 

I'm sure they were petrified because so my first job as a 18 year old first year jewellery that had been at an all girls school was on alloy downs on the back of the table ends. There'd been no women prior to this ever working like in the North.

So it was myself. And another girl, Sandra Hagan, I'm not sure you I'm sure you probably wouldn't know her. Um and then later in the year, Heidi came Heidi Smith, who, the three of us were the kind of pioneers for the women to come up onto the back of the table ends. And we were hit with like all those old, beautiful men. I would love the stuff up there wouldsay, what are you girls doing here? This is no place for a lady. You know, there's no way you could survive up here.

And so the more like I was just so determined the more I heard that, the more I just pushed back to say, well, we can prove, you know, we can do it just as well as you guys and we'll try and do it even better. So first year was just amazing. I just went in completely blind. Like the only thing I had going for me was that I could ride a horse and that was it.

Like I had no idea about anything. And I went in, add everything, like pull out a gate. And I ended up in hospital many times because I was just so eager and Cain. And like that was the year I also started riding in the amateur races because I've always been little and they didn't have many amateur jockeys and not that I'd been a jockey, but you know, so that starts the race horse thing for me .

And I remember going around the horse paddock in a jockey, padded out, or a dance riding all the feral, like race horses, getting ready for brunette. And it was just the most amazing, amazing year. I think my first stint in hospital was when like I got hit by a ball in the yards of Ellroy and that ended up in hospital. Then another time I was got thrown out of the Gates at Campbell wheel from a race horse. And I ended up in hospital in that list. Like they knew me very well at Tennant Creek hospital that year.

Kelly Shann:

And Sally You're lucky because you also slide in riding those big thoroughbreds is um, I know I tried riding them. I must admit I didn't enjoy it because I, the saddle, Well, it's Kind of really call it a saddle just to have stirrups and they're not soft horses, are they like they to Gallop and they're not easy to stop. And it's for me, I found it a little bit scary. So, and you actually even went to Japan, Didn't you? And worked over there?

Sally Towne:

I did go to Japan. I am somehow at the end of that year, I convinced deferred uni again and convinced mum to go back for second year. So the second year I went to brunette and then yeah, I did. I ended up my Bri brunette year. Might've been the year after that, I applied for a scholarship through the new South Wales blood horse breeders association, which was to go over to Japan for a year and work on a racehorse establishment over there. So amazingly I got that scholarship and went over there. So it must've been a few years ago. Yeah, because I turned 21 when I was over there. So it was. That experience was mind blowing. It was everything like none of the male horses were castrated because they believed everything. There was 120 horses on the place and none of the males were castrated and then male horses were twice as big as the Phillies, like it was just so it was such a traditional place. It was amazing. Like, you broke in straight into a jockey pad, you break into pair in pairs and one would hold or the other one legged on. And it was just some of it was, it was amazing experience, but it was, I don't know, another thing, I'm not really sure how I got through that year, but it was an incredible experience. And then as a while I was over there, that's when I too applied. Eventually mom and dad got their wish we'd and I applied to Marcus Oldham and actually got the Australian hybrid equine scholarship to attend Marcus. So, yeah. So I went to Marcus and did that one business management course thinking at this stage you know, I had kind of my time in the North and I would do something equine, you know, down South, but I don't know, I just kept on getting pulled to the North. And honestly, after, after my year at Marcus, I worked, you know, I did a few other sort of races. I had to do a lot of PR stuff and a lot of things to do with the thoroughbred industry down there. And I think more than anything, it probably made me realise I just wanted to go back to the basics and go back to the North and, you know, have a career up there kind of when I, yeah. I want to go back to these stations, you know, work towards becoming a leader in the roll up there. Like, yeah, I guess that's when I became interested in the startup work and sort of, you know, put my mind towards you know, running the startup brunette. And then later I became the start overseer at Fort Constantine where I ran the stop or start and the Santa true to start there. And yeah, so that was sort of, I knew the North had got me and I wasn't going to back South anytime soon. So yeah, it was a pretty amazing journey. Those first few years out of school.

Kelly Shann:

It's funny how you led in life, isn't it? And I think, cause I think of times when I've been led in different directions and you really, you know, that's where you want to be and where you want to go, but then everyone else might be, everyone might be saying, no, don't do that. That's the wrong thing to do. And you get so stressed and, and you, but if you can just, I think follow your heart, you end up being and doing what you love.

Sally Towne:

You know very early on mum and dad, although they were so reluctant for me to go North, once they saw and they'd come up and visited so many times the most wonderful, beautiful people up there and how much they just looked after our skills like daughters and how happy we were and how fulfilled they were more than happy for me to, you know, there was no holding back. They knew that's where my life was and you know, they would just come and visit all the time and you know, then it was wonderful coming back to Sydney for holidays and yeah. Yeah, no. So the I'd sort of, yeah, it was lovely to I, so I guess my dreams of a little girl were kind of realised then once I knew that I'd found my place in the North and you know, it was just amazing that Hyde and I could do that together.

Like we'd gone right through high school together. We worked together for many years. We've met our husbands up there. We had four kids each. Our kids all went through school there together and now they're both at boarding school and the one and I still probably talk every day. Is that the hardest thing now is we're just so far apart, but yeah. So that was pretty special going out and do all that together.

Kelly Shann:

Oh yeah, it must have been comforting for your mom and dad to know that you weren't doing it on your own, that you had someone that you trusted and that they trusted with you because, you know, it's important to look at, you know, especially as a mother and you would know now that your kids have someone who looks out for them no matter where they go. So that must been a great thing,

Sally Towne:

It made them Gavin and the real Mila were, our first bosses. And like, they looked after us to the extent that our quarters were inside their fence, like inside their house yard and the boys quarters were like a long way away, but it was not, we went and shared, they looked after us like their own daughters. So we were very, very nurtured and well looked after when we moved out and went up there. Yeah.

Kelly Shann:

So now tell me about Christopher.

Sally Towne:

I had been through a terrible relationship experience in kind of my mid to late twenties. And that's the time in my life that I try not to think about, but it was just awful. And not long after that Chris came on the scene.

Well actually, they were for a short time in my life. I was,worked for right, which was a training group. And so I was one of the people that went out to the stations to, you know, find the young kids and like help them through their, some sort of certificates and all that sort of stuff. This was after the bad experience that I had, I just didn't know where I was or what I was going to do. So that's what I was doing. And then one of the stations that I went to was where Chris was. So he was a young single manager at Augustus downs. One of the sessions I went to was Augustus.

 And anyway, that that's when it all started. And,he was very nasty to him early days. I thought he pursued and I was not very nice cause I had made major trust issues from what had happened and I wasn't certainly wasn't ready to jump into anything too soon, but to him yeah was very patient and sent me flowers. Like he was just amazing. And so it was my best friend again, Hyde that came to the rescue and pretty much told me to just snap out of it. What the hell are you doing? This guy is amazing. You know, you've got this beautiful person wanting to be with you and you treating him, not very nicely at all. So I guess friends telling you the truth and you know, I got angry at Hyde at first and say, you no, how would, you know, blah, blah, blah, you haven’t been you know, all of this sort of stuff.

And anyway, so thankfully to Hyde, I realised what an amazing person Chris was. And we like he did when I was then for, after I was at right. I became a start overseer at Fort Constantine. This was one of the moves that I kind of made it in. And then I got, you know, I was closer to Chris. He was at Augusta. So I was the start overseer at the Fort. And he, you know, he would do things he'll probably kill me for saying he would do things like the truck drivers. Cause we did a lot of internal tracking would truck, you know, peppers or stairs or whatever from Augustus down to the Fort. And the truck driver would deliver me this little box and he picked roses from the Augustus garden and it's just so special. So he was so patient and anyway, so we were together for a bit and then he asked whether I could move and live with him, but that all just happened at the same stage that I was also asked. Um would I consider, was looking at moving the start to a separate property somewhere in Queensland and for me to have the offer of actually being a stud manager. So I was in this dilemma of, Oh my gosh, this is what I worked for. You know, like this is my dream and my passion legend betting the first female, you know, first female that went to the back of the table ends and then the first female to be a manager on one of these corporate places and manage the stud horses and cattle, which was my passion. I just loved. Or do I follow my heart and be with Chris? So obviously the latter one and I went with Chris and you know, the rest is history. So we yeah, we started our journey together and because we met later in life we, you know, we thought let's look at having kids fairly soon.

And yeah, my biological clock was ticking I guess. Like I hadn't, you know, I knew I always wanted to have children and I was told early on because I had some scarring on my cervix and just some other issues that even might be hard for me, certainly at a young age, being the drain when you're doing everything you wanted to, it was not something I really worried about. So yeah, so it became very clear early on. It was not going to be easy for us to conceive naturally. So then we embarked on the next stage of our life, which is our very traumatic IVF journey from a remote location. So when, when we first started out we were assistant managers at Ron chilli station, which is a station in the Northern territory, it was an outstation at that stage of Highland Springs. So our closest to Penn was Darwin, which was about nine hours. So that's where we embarked on our first IVF and, you know, kind of went into it, bright eyed and bushy tailed thinking this is going to be easy. You know, we'll get pregnant first time and everything's amazing. That could not have been further from the truth. So yeah, it was just, the next few years was just such a roller coaster. Like I became completely obsessed with having babies to the point that it was just unhealthy. Like all my friends around me, like Hyde had started having babies and all my clothes for their babies. Then I became resentful and everywhere I looked at just saying that there was pregnant women and grams and babies everywhere. And here we were desperately trying so hard and it just wasn't working cycle after cycle, after cycle that we had so many fresh cycles and frozen cycles in between. And because we live so far away, like every time I had to go up and then Chris would have to come up and then he, Chris would have to come home first while I waited.

But every, every single cycle I always got my period before the due time, you know, so I always knew it wasn't it wasn't going to work and Beginning of the cycle You'd be so excited thinking, Hey, this might be it. And then you'd get your period, you know, down the rollercoaster goes and I can't, it was just the darkest time in your life. Like, it's so hard to explain how you feel when you've been through this fertility IVF journey, the feeling it's just, it's just awful. the, we had to make some pretty major decisions cause we'd just financially and emotionally, we were completely wrecked. Like we just didn't know if we could do it anymore. so one sort of last ditch effort is we spoke to the amazing and we just, this probably job is a bit maybe too being stressful for what we're trying to achieve in our personal life. Would we get transferred to a place? So they were amazing transfer station in Claymont. And that was,wonderful. So when we were down there, we,you know, we're just very, very focused on our health. Like, because it was close to Emerald, I was able to go in and have all like,massages and chiropractic and you know, all the stuff that I'd never really done before, because we'd lived remotely and just really hard to get my state of mind yeah. Right, to become really healthy and doing that, sort of all the yoga at, you know, a lot of self reflection. Anyway, the, our very last ditch effort was we went to Sydney. So prior to this, all of our IVF had been in Darwin. So we got onto a Sydney specialist, Sydney doctor. And this doctor, we had, we were her first patients.

No, yeah, she'd just come out from New York. So we were one of her first patients specialist in New York. So we were feeling, you know, really I had a whole year of doing all like, you know, the yoga and all this stuff that I was able to do in chiropractic and everything like that. And it was feeling really good. She put me on a completely, completely different drug regime than what I've ever been on. Yeah, it was just amazing. We also made the, we had, I can't remember it was four or six weeks. We took a big chunk of time off that Chris was with me through the whole time that we did all of our IVF stuff in Sydney. And then we went actually driving through to Victoria just for a couple of weeks, just had a lovely trip just together. And then once all the IVF stuff finished in Sydney and we flew back to Emerald and went back to the station cause we had to wait obviously for a period of time. And I was feeling quietly. Like I just felt different. I don't know what it was, but I just felt different. And then the day I had to have the blood test mom, cause mom had come up and she was with me at the station, her and I went to Emerald. And I don't know, I'm sure you'd know this coffee shop. It was in some shopping centre. We were just sitting at this coffee shop and I'm going to get all emotional thinking of this day. So, you know, mom and, and they just said, make sure, you know, you're going to be such and such. I had to have a blood test that morning clinic at Emerald and it, so we just had to wait around for the day. And so this was the first cycle that I hadn't had my period yet, like nothing at all. And like my boobs were getting smaller and there was stuff happening that I hadn't experienced before. And I was sitting there.

Kelly Shann:

Alright So You're nearly making me cry. We were saying before, about how amazing talking about things actually puts you back in that place. Doesn't it?

Sally Towne:

Yeah. Anyway, so I got the phone call. I was holding mom's hand and the nurse said, I hope you're sitting down cause You're pregnant, but your hormones are through the roof. So we think you're having twins.

So mom and I would just, everyone in the shopping centre I'm sure was just staring at us cause we were jumping up and down and hugging and crying. And like you would think there was something wrong with me anyway. So yeah, that just started out twin pregnancy from that day on, mum stayed with me for ages.

We thought we had the most perfect uniform pregnancy went home. Yeah. Wrapped myself in cotton wool. Like I didn't do anything that I was like, I never got on a horse. That minute that I was pregnant cause after everything we'd been through, I just wanted to make sure like I was completely neurotic and you know, I was just super healthy anyway. So,went back and mum, stayed with us for awhile until, you know, everything seemed great and mum went home and then,at seven weeks,I woke up and I had a bleed. So that was very scary. actually I think we were,we were at a camp draught somewhere near and, and I remember waking up in the gooseneck and, and there was some blood there and I just obviously went into meltdown. So this was at seven weeks, which obviously is, is still in the very, you know, dangerous stage. when one hospital they did all the tests feel two very strong heart beats, everything looked fine. so I stayed in hospital for a few days cause I knew the history and everything seemed fine. There didn't seem to be any problems. So they sent me home and my tummy continued to grow and you know, everything so wonderful.

And then 18 weeks we had to go to Brisbane for our big tests. Like the you know, they, I dunno, I can't even remember what it was, but you know, a lot of the stuff that they do at 18 weeks with the measurements and just making sure everything was right. And so I know, sorry, 12 weeks, that's right. 12 weeks I had the 12 week one and they did all the, those tests and everything was perfect. Everything looked fine. Two strong heartbeats, you know, we didn't find out the sexes cause we just wanted to be a surprise. So obviously we thought, well, you know, after going through, this is finally happening and we were talking about, we were going to have the babies and you know, how we were going to plan it all and stuff. And 18 weeks came we were due to go to Brisbane for the eight. We had to go to Brisbane, not Emerald cause there was some other tests we had to have. So we thought we were just, we planned to have a week off, went there, thought it was going to be the most magical week. And then this was on the 18 week scan, you know, two strong heartbeats. I'll never forget the doctor that was doing it. You know, he was very how do I put it? Didn't have a good bedside manner to say the least. He was obviously he didn't know our history either. I don't think, but scanning. And he said, Oh, it looks to be a problem with twin A, we need to get you to straightaway this afternoon. You know, he wouldn't give us any more information. He just said there is a significant medical problem with twin A. So off we went to the specialist that afternoon and after a series of tests and all sorts of stuff, it was confirmed that twin a that who we still didn't know, we still didn't know.

You know, if twin A was a boy or a girl or what yeah, which one it was, but so it turned out that the twin A had a diaphragmatic hernia all.

Kelly Shann:

So What is that Sal?

Sally Towne:

In diaphragm when they're in utero. So all their stomach contents are pushed up into their chest. So basically the heart can't grow and the lungs can't like the heart was pushed right across and the lungs can't develop because like we didn't know it at the time. But when A was born, it was way worse than what we thought. But like all the stomach contents were in the chest. So the buds, the buds never could become lungs because there was just, it was just so full of stuff up here and the heart was pushed across. And basically we were told pretty much very harshly. You can turn, you can choose to terminate twin a if you wish, because twin A's only got a 50% chance of survival, But if you do okay, Terminate twin a and there's a high chance, twin B will terminate as well because of the risk of that happening. So, you know, that was never, ever an option, but they did say to us, you know, I guess the doctors have got to give you worst case scenario. They did say if you choose not to terminate twin ,and if twin A survives twin A will have lifelong problems,it's, you know, it's not. So anyway, the next, however long, I just went into a complete breakdown after going through everything we had with the IVF. I just, I don't know. I just went into, I feel sorry for me stage, I guess I, you know, I think when these things happen, you seem to focus on the worst. And I sat up for hours and nights researching diaphragmatic hernia and the association that they have, it's called Cherubs association. And when you go on there, they've got all the success stories, but then they've got all the sad stories and the babies that die are then called the cherubs. So, you know, I dunno why the human nature does this, but I just focused on all the bad stories. And for the first couple of weeks, it was just dreadful. It was, must've been a nightmare to live with Chris. He was just amazing. Like he's just been my rock through everything I've been through such an amazing, strong, incredible man. He bought me this big fluffy technical Ralph. We've still got Ralph today. Actually Mel took Ralph to boarding school. And I have heard that Ralph is now the next boarding house mascot.

Well, anyways, so yeah, I went through this feeling, sorry, stage for a couple of weeks and you know, like what are we going to do, blah, blah, blah. And then I just, I just sat to snap out of it. Cause it was just not healthy for Chris or I we had a lot of planning we had to do so number one. Yeah. I just woke up one morning and said, right, that's it, I'm staying positive from here on it. And I'm not letting myself be like, this is plenty of positive stories and let's, let's say the next positive story. So we had a lot of things to tackle because there wasn't a lot of research on twins with one having a diaphragmatic hernia that had good outcomes. There wasn't a lot of research of where where the best place was to have twins, you know, which hospital you should go to. So after lots of research and consultations and doctor's appointments and I couldn't go if I, this may after, you know, the I think it was yeah, after that, like after the 18 weeks, not long after that was when standard sold to, and we had the option of going to manage August downs. So all of this happened, I was, it came up that I couldn't go back to the station basically, cause I was too high. So pretty much from 18 weeks on I went to Sydney and lived like with my parents and we'd plan to have the babies at Westmead children's hospital because that was the most experience, you know, everything that we were going through. So Chris and I had to be separated and obviously he had still had the station to run. So I just embarked on, you know, the next few months being as positive as I could being super healthy, doing everything I could.

And every two weeks, you know, you had to have the checkups and Oh, and when I was doing really well in utero, because these babies do, they don't need, you know, they don't, they don't need the lungs to survive. So everything was going, both babies were growing beautifully, but when a, you know, it, wasn't looking good with all the stomach contents up in in the chest cavity anyway one of the biggest things hurdle for me, and this is what I was petrified. Cause I'm so little, I've sort of, you know, the chances of me going full term with twins were so remote. It wasn't funny, but that's what I was working towards because the longer these diaphragmatic hernia babies, having new Turo, the better their chances are of survival. For whatever reason. I don't know how this happened, but I went to 40 weeks to be induced. And I was just enormous. I don't even know how, like in the last couple of weeks I was just so heavy. Cause I'm so little that I just report to have as much

Kelly Shann:

I can imagine you, you know, one of those things, you know, toys that don't have legs, you know, they've got that big tummy and you push them and they go

Sally Towne:

To give you an indication of how big I was at 31 weeks. I couldn't fit behind the steering wheel of our car. That was a thing. And so at 40 weeks and I hadn't put on any weight behind. So if you looked at me from behind, you wouldn't have ever known I was pregnant, but I just had this massive balloon. Like it just was all out front. I slipped even to turn over, I just had to pick my tummy and it was so enormous anyway, Last few weeks Chris was down by this. Well actually he came back down quite a bit before his cause obviously all indications would be that I would go into labour early 40 weeks came and went and I still hadn't gone into labour. So the doctors decided we have to do something cos I was due . So that was yeah, and he, I was induced and I really, it was in, well, it was very important. They wanted me to have a natural labour cause that this is another thing that helps these diaphragmatic babies is with the contractions. You know, it helps pass to their lungs on the, or if they, because at this stage we still don't really know what was developed in the chest. So anyway, so I was induced into natural labour, but the induction didn't go too well. And 18 hours of terrible labour, I ended up emergencies, this area. So this emotional, like I'd worked with whole pregnancy for natural. And they told me that, you know, the best chances for this baby, you know, if you have a natural labour, it's going to be Anyway So obviously that was just like far out. It was just, I just remember when it just something must've gone pear shaped and all of a sudden I was just rushed into surgery.

And I just remember looking around, there was 20 medical people. Well, there was just people everywhere and babies, the two little baby intubators there. And I remember getting in and I just vomited all over their instruments. Like I was so emotional and yeah, but we just didn't really have time to think. Cause it just all happened so fast. And so went ahead and had, the Cesarean and then yeah. So when Amy came out, so we turned around and Twin A, was Chloe and they pulled her out and they held her up. Cause the biggest thing with these babies is they can't take, if they've got like, they need to be intubated straight away because they don't want them to take a breath. So literally that's what this whole team and they didn't know which baby was going to come out. So twin A came out first, they just yelled out. It's a girl and I didn't even see her straight into this thing with all these people around and doing all this stuff. And then they raced her off to natal. And so all my family was outside. Mom and dad still said like, they remember the trolley rushing past with all these doctors saying, it's a girl, you know, they just kept on going. So then twin B came out, which was Jack and he was a beautiful, big, healthy baby. And I don't know how, like with my little frame, but Chloe was almost five pounds and Jack was almost six pounds. How I did that. I don't really know, but I think anyway, so that obviously embarked the next stage of our medical journey. It was way worse than what they thought. Like there was nothing left in Chloe's tummy, everything was up in her chest. There was no look, her laugh.

I was pushed across. So I in the maternity ward with Jack and Chris was spending most of the time in the neonatal ward with Chloe and it was such a double edged sword. Cause we had like one healthy baby, which you think you should be grateful for. But then we had another one that was so sick and like I still remember some people that I know. People don't mean to say this, but you know, I guess for lack of knowing what to say, some friends or people would say, well, you know, at least if Chloe dies, you've still got one healthy baby. And like at the time you sort of think, Oh, that's the, I don't know people are mean well, but I, you know, sometimes like looking back on these experiences sometimes saying nothing is probably better than saying things like that to somebody going through that anyway. I still am when Chris walks his ankle cliques. So I still remember every time I'd hear this ankle click coming back to our room. I just, my heart would race and I'd be just so anxious. Cause I knew he was coming back with either good news or bad news or whatever the news was with Chloe.

So anyways, she was pretty much indicted.It was just not good at all. They, the chief, I can't remember who it was, the chief doctor or surgeon or someone came and saw us on night three and said, you know, we think you should have Chloe Chris in tonight because we don't think she's going to make it through. So we actually made the decision not to do it because we felt by doing that, it was too far. So we thought, no, we're not going to do that. This is going to work. She's going to make it through to the operation. So the next I was the operation, which was to try and repair everything and push everything back down. And so, you know, she was in surgery for hours. This tiny little Barb came out and you know, from then on like basically, so she made it through the night, she made it through the surgery and that was everything. Every day she made, it was a bonus and unexpected. So like for us it was just, okay, we just gotta get through the next day, the next day. So all through this you know, a number of times Chloe would have to have her chest X Ray and like see what was going on because by this stage, so everything was repaired and pushed back down, but she was still, still didn't have any lungs, you know, like the lungs hadn't had a chance to develop. So it was very important that in these ultrasounds or x-rays whatever they were to see blood vessels starting to develop anyway, it wasn't, you know, we'd been given so much counselling and told, you know, there's a really good chance. You may not leave. You may leave hospital without your baby. You know, the nurses and medical staff were amazing.

They gave this book to us when we did leave that unbenounced to us for all kids in neonatal that have a chance of not making it. They make these books and they put little footprints and hand prints. And it was just amazing. So, you know, we had that with Chloe, but anyway, day you today, we just, it was day to day. We just didn't know if she was going to live. I still, by this stage I was out of maternity and I was in the, the hostel thing, you know, where you live when your children are sick. Chris had to go home and then so each, each day Jack and I would just go up there and we would sit with Chloe and things were not looking good for her. Like she wasn't really thriving. And then, then one day the doctors just said Let's Cause I had Jack with me all the time. They just said, Oh, this is really emotional. They said, let's put Jack in the cot with Chloe. So they went in the cot and their hands, just met, like it was like they held hands. And then from that minute Chloe started getting better. So they kept jack in the same cot with Chloe. 

And from that minute on, she just started getting better and pretty much just started defying all odds then. And you know, we got to the stage, yes, your daughter's going to survive, but you know, she's never going to breastfeed and she's never, she'll be a finicky eater. She's, you know, all these things. So she just started thriving so well and all these ultrasound showed all these blood vessels and everything was growing. And then one day the nurses said, let's just say, let's just try and feed, see if she can breastfeed. And so I sat in this big chair, I was like a big old dairy cow with these big twinfeed. They put Jack on and then they put Chloe on and she just started breastfeeding.

So that was another amazing moment. So she just went from strength to strength. So we were like, okay, she's breastfeeding. But the next stage is you're not going to take her back to a dusty environment because of her lungs. And no, she's not going to be very athletic because of her lungs, blah, blah, blah. Anyway, she completely has divide every, or that anyone has ever said he eventually left home and the trip, gosh, the tour, we drove all the way up to Augustus. And I was a complete neurotic nightmare for that first year because they said Chloe was so ill with very little, you know, with she was very susceptible to any colds, flus, any sickness. So literally I'm sure, cause we were fairly new to the area and they knew, you know, Sal and Chris had had twins, but I didn't let anyone in the house.

I didn't even meet anyone. So I'm sure the whole community thought, I was a complete Nutter. Anyway, we yeah, we got through that year and pretty much from there on Chloe, they still use as a story at Westmead cause she's completely defied or She not only copes with dust, she thrives in it.

They said she'd never be athletic. She's one every age champion, every single year at school of the year and then represented in the regionals and she's literally defied every odd there isn't she was going to go on and have an amazing life and has got no ongoing problems.

 Kelly Shann:

Yeah. That's amazing. I have to ask, does she and Jack still get on really well,

Sally Towne:

They're normal twins at heart all the time. Yes. No that um very close bond. They had in the car. They certainly don't walk around holding hands now, for sure you know, I think they do have that twin thing that I know they'd be there for each other, but no, they're very normal siblings, argue all the time.

Kelly Shann:

So tell me about the others because that's a story in itself.

Sally Towne:

So we had these miracle babies and all we'd been through and you know, life was amazing. Chloe was great. You know, we had all the stuff that I dreamed about happening. We were on this amazing station with all our horses and then the twins were like, I was very focused on breastfeeding them till 12 months, which I was able to do. Cause that was the best sort of nutrition for CLO and I hadn't had a period. So, you know, I would assume you hadn't cycled when I was, when the twins were about 12 months I kinda started to get this bit of a tummy cause I'd gone back amazingly to my small frame very quickly after they were born, you know? And I thought, and my boobs was sort of a bit sore and I'm like, Oh, this is really weird. And for kind of fleeting second, I thought, surely I can't be pregnant. Anyway. We thought, Oh, we bet it. I went into Mount ISER, kinda hit a test and I was 12 weeks pregnant with Chris wasn't even with me, I was just like, I'll just go in and had this like had a blood test that came back positive and I'm like, surely that must be a mistake. So they said we've been having an ultrasound and the ultrasound August. Yeah. Not only are you pregnant, but this baby's about 12 weeks. So here we were, we were like told we'll never going to have them naturally and hadn't given contraception or anything like that, a second thought because we just didn't think it was ever going to happen. And so yeah, so bell came along and I had a newborn and the twins were 18 months and then I don't really know why, but I certainly didn't think another one would be due there, when I was pregnant with bill.

Everyone's like, Oh my God, that's amazing how exciting, you know? Well done. And then deja VU, exactly the same thing happened with Emily. And I'm like, I still hadn't had a period this whole time and found out we were pregnant with Em.

And by that stage, all my friends, like you're what are you mad? Like what is going on with you? Four kids under three and a half anyway. And then when we went to we went to Cannes to have Em and I swear people would just stare at us. Like we were some weirdo family with this like very pregnant and these two little, three little babies toddlers one person, we were sitting in the pool with all the kids and one fellow said, you know, mate, the guy that specialises in vasectomies lives just down the road. So maybe you people should take a visa.

Kelly Shann:

Oh my gosh.

Sally Towne:

Yep. Our beautiful Em was born and we had four children under three and a half. So,

Kelly Shann:

So do you have any idea why you think that happened? Do you think it was just, you had those two first beautiful babies and then your body just let's just keep going or, Oh, why do you think that happened?

Sally Towne:

Amazingly, I now like thinking back the way my state of mind, the way I was when I was trying to get pregnant and I was so upset, so focused on it and a complete idiot really. Like I just, I so believe your state of mind has got a lot to do with this because once I had, and so obviously when we got pregnant with the next two my IVF doctor, I'll go into that IVF doctor way on, the first twin pregnancy she had in Australia. So that was pretty amazing. And we you know, stayed in contact with her and let her know all of our amazing stories with the next two. And she just said, Oh, this is just so normal. That happens. So often when people have gone through, you've gone through told they would never have children naturally have their IVFs and then they just fall pregnant naturally.

So I think this content of my body has been put into baby mode, but I think my state of mind more than anything is I was just relaxed and I was happy and I was content and everything was perfect. And yeah, so I was able to conceive like obviously easily and I hadn't even had even had a period. So I think, yeah, and a lot of doctors say, this is just so normal, but people just relax and they've got their babies. And I think even here at when people adopt babies, you know, and they've, they've had their adoption and they've got their children that they've adopted and then they have their own babies because I, so I fully believe,uthe state and I think with aspects of going to be convinced to Emerald another thing I believe in, I did a lot of,uyou know, yoga and chiropractic and a lot of that sort of, you know, that sort of alternative health, I believe helped a lot as well to get all my body in sync. And you know, so

Kelly Shann:

Maybe, you know, subconsciously you do relax and I have to wonder if, you know, you hadn't been told when you were young that you were going to have trouble conceiving in just my, you know, if you'd go on a long oblivion along oblivious, knowing that if you may have just conceived, you just don't know, do you how your mind works?

Sally Towne:

And that was always in the back of our mind. We didn't fall. I was told I'm never going to have the naturally, so we better start, you know? So I didn't probably give my mind to even think that would have been possible.