Shellharbour mayor Chris Homer and his partner Vikki Muller are one of three couples who had their embryos destroyed after a bacterial outbreak shut down Royal Prince Alfred Hospital's public fertility clinic.
Ms Muller said she was left feeling gutted, broken and exhausted after learning about the outbreak while at the clinic waiting to have one of her embryos implanted.
She said her best hope to have a baby in more than five years had been taken away.
"I can't really find the word to describe how sad I felt," she said. "I was just so, so sad. I was gutted, livid."
"It cost me those embryos - and I do understand that they weren't a baby, but they were our best hope of having a baby in years - and it's also just cost me more time."
Mr Homer described the ordeal as "extremely disappointing" and said it had been devastating to have watched his partner go through some of her worst days.
"There's been sadness, anger, grief and also the physical aspect of healing that she's had to experience," he said.
The long-term couple knew they would need to use IVF to conceive a baby after the Shellharbour city leader was diagnosed with prostate cancer several years ago.
In the process of trying to get pregnant, Ms Muller, 40, found she has her own fertility issues which meant her chances of having many eggs collected during each round of IVF was likely to be limited.
Over a period of nearly two years, she has been through IVF four times at the RPA clinic, which she said she chose because it was recommended as one of the places where she would have the highest chance of getting pregnant.
"We were told we were only ever likely to get one, two, three [eggs] or even none," she said.
"We'd had one, none and then one, but this time somehow we got two eggs."
To add to her pain of seeing these destroyed, the Lake Illawarra resident said bacterial outbreak followed a particularly painful collection process, where she was rushed into emergency afterwards with internal bleeding because the clinicians had perforated a blood vessel.
"I've been through IVF four times before, but this was horrific," she said, of the extraction which happened on August 8.
"I'd felt a sharp prick during the operation, and afterwards I had the normal cramps but was bleeding more than usual. They said to go home, back to our hotel, and come back if it gets worse. I was really unwell, Panadol wasn't doing anything and then [within minutes] I was throwing up."
She returned to the hospital and was rushed into emergency surgery, waking up the next day with bruising across large parts of her body to find out she had an internal bleed that created a haematoma in her abdominal cavity.
"The whole time I was in hospital I was telling myself, I'm brave, I'm strong, we did it and we have two embryos - more than we've ever gotten before," she said.
"I knew the chance of a bleed was rare, the odds were low, but I thought someone had to be that odd. I was just so proud of myself and all the pain felt worth it because I knew we had the two eggs."
"But when I returned the following Friday to have one of them put in, the doctor went to check on them and returned to tell us 'the embryos are really healthy, but unfortunately they are also growing bacteria because there's been a breach in the lab and we have to destroy them'."
"All that pain I'd been mentally blocking out came flooding back into my body."
The whole time I was in hospital I was telling myself, I'm brave, I'm strong, we did it and we have two embryos - more than we've ever gotten before.- Vikki Muller
According to reports - which Ms Muller said she'd been shocked to hear on the ABC evening news while she was recovering at home the week after the incident - RPA's fertility laboratory shut down to undergo a deep clean after the incident.
Ms Muller has been told she will be offered a free cycle of IVF, but said any other support from the hospital has been limited.
"I've been seeing a counsellor through the hospital anyway, before this all happened, just to talk about the IVF process and everything, but other than talking to her there's been no contact with us since the day we found out the embryos would need to be destroyed," she said.
The RPA's fertility clinic, which is a joint initiative with private provider Genea, is one of only three government subsidised IVF options available in NSW.
The Sydney Local Health District apologised via a statement to people affected by the outbreak, saying the has been notified and offered support.
"Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPA) and Genea Pty Ltd are investigating the source of bacterial contamination that has impacted several embryos in the fertility laboratory at the Hospital," a spokesperson said.
"We acknowledge this is a difficult time for the patients affected and sincerely apologise.
"As a precaution, patients who were due to have fertility procedures in the week following were redirected to an alternate Genea location while the facility underwent a deep clean."
The facility reopened on August 23.
Ms Muller said she wanted people to know what she had been through in the hope it may prevent other people from experiencing the same thing.
Now unable to work in her job as a personal trainer for several weeks as she heals from the bleed, Ms Muller said she is also scared of returning to the clinic for another round of IVF.
"I feel like I'm further back from the starting line that I was before," she said.
"It was a nightmare. I don't know if I want to go back there, because you lose trust, you question everything."