‘I’m so grateful Dad got to meet my baby girl’
GIVING birth to her daughter as her dying father held her hand, sharing tears of joy in the delivery room is a moment that will stay with a Tasmanian mum forever.
It was just after they returned from their honeymoon Geilston Bay newlyweds Jacinta and Milan Djokovic found out they would have a hard time falling pregnant, with Jacinta diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome.
The couple went through 18 months of gruelling IVF treatments before finding out they were expecting.
Their joy quickly turned to heartbreak when Mrs Djokovic's dad Gregory was diagnosed with terminal oesophageal cancer.
"I didn't have an easy pregnancy but having to deal with the emotions of losing Dad was a lot to bear," Mrs Djokovic said.
"It was very special and emotional when Isla was born because Dad watched her be delivered. He was right next to me the whole time and he was crying, I was crying …"
As if that wasn't emotional enough, shortly after Isla was born, Mrs Djokovic began haemorrhaging and had to be rushed to emergency surgery.
The new mum lost nearly half her capacity of blood and was close to losing her life as well.
She was "on the edge" of having to have a hysterectomy, which meant she'd never be able to have more children.
But luckily she survived - as did her future fertility - and was able to spend four months with her dad before he passed away.
Mrs Djokovic said her dad was a pillar of support when she was going through IVF, never knowing if she'd ever become a mum.
"As a family we're all very close - my sister and I and Mum and Dad - so our world just came crashing down when he was diagnosed," she said.
"It was my turn to be there for him so I went to all his chemo sessions even while pregnant and Isla came with me after she was born."
Gregory Colin Tonks was just 56 when he died on April 23 this year, just eight months after he was diagnosed.
The popular Tasmanian businessman ran ChemDry Magic, with Mr and Mrs Djokovic now taking over the family business.
"Due to COVID-19 we couldn't have the funeral he deserved," Mrs Djokovic said.
"We could only have nine family members which was sad because my mum and dad come from a big family.
"But I will always be forever grateful my Dad got to meet Isla."
Originally published as 'I'm so grateful Dad got to meet my baby girl'