Where to begin.
I really want to write and talk about my experience of fertility, making babies and the experience of having IVF treatment. After all, it seems to me I could not write about being a Mum, without writing about how I became one.
It isn’t because I have become a parent that I can write about my experiences, it is because enough time has passed by since receiving fertility treatment that I am able to reflect, remember, and describe what it was like, emotionally and physically.
In many ways, as blunt as it sounds, I had to put my metaphorical head down and get on with the process of IVF. I always keep a journal, particularly during periods of my life when I need to make sense of my feelings and thoughts. Yet during all that time, my diary lay unwritten and the pages empty of anything at all. I think, you see, that to write about what I was experiencing, would have meant that I would have to reflect on what I was experiencing, and I just don’t think I could have done the two things simultaneously. If I had allowed my feelings to be too engaged, I don’t think I could have managed it at all.
My decision to begin treatment was because of my age and I because I hadn’t met anyone with whom I could start a family with. I spent the majority of my thirties (not my happiest decade), in a state of tremendous fear, when all I could think about was my desperate desire to become a Mother, alongside trying to find someone to fall in love with, and for that same person to fall in love with me. Only then could I get on and do the one thing I always wanted to do above anything else.
Life and mother nature had other plans for me. I did fall in love, a couple of times and a couple of times, someone fell in love with me. But the trouble was they were never the same person. At the time it seemed, as it does for anyone trying to find someone to love, or if you are trying to make a baby, that everyone around me was falling in love and making babies. And whilst that was happening I became an Aunty, a God Mother, the owner of a dog.
The churning ball of emotions inside me kept rolling around, desperation that my time was running out and that I only had (counting the numbers on my fingers) so many years in which to conceive, before it was too late and both time and my fragile eggs ran out completely. I think I must have emanated panic, fear and exasperation. For any man that came close enough, the look in my eyes would have said it all. It was no surprise I didn’t find anyone. I must have come across as absolutely terrifying.
What I never expected to feel was the intense grief when I contemplated the reality of my life without being a Mum. It was an overwhelming sense of sadness, and I lost count of the times I would sob uncontrollably with what to me felt like a real and tangible sense of loss. I have heard other women talking about this too, and it seemed so unfair that biologically my opportunity for becoming a mother had to all intents and purposes a limited shelf life.
There has been much said, written and discussed about fertility, and the reality of conceiving when we are in our thirties and forties. For women who want to forge a career, and who postpone motherhood in order to be able to do so, for women like me who are just unlucky enough to not meet the right person, for women who cannot conceive for a variety of reasons – fertility is something that is right there at the forefront of our minds. Making babies is just something you imagine will happen. It is only when you start to try that you experience just how difficult that can be.
There is IVF, of course, but it isn’t an option for some people (it is expensive and not always available on the NHS). And if you do decide to try IVF, it is a process which is complicated, intrusive and very emotional. It has no guarantees. But there is hope and as you begin to find out more, please remember that for every sad story of IVF you hear and how it didn’t work, it is also wonderful when parents come up to you and say ‘Our daughter, our son were born through IVF’. With those stories comes hope. You go forward in hope and you try to remain grounded. For anyone thinking about beginning with IVF, it is that mantra I offer to you.
Go forward in hope and remain grounded.
Thank you for reading this piece. I will be writing the next part of my IVF story to follow on from here. I hope to see you then. x