Balancing hopes against realities
Personally IVF was not the worst part of the journey. It was actually in many ways it was a relief to be in a system that was there to help us get pregnant and to give us a baby. We knew there were no guarantees in fact I wasn’t one of those very optimistic people. I was quite cautious about whether it would succeed. But I think there was something really supportive in a hospital system and having the doctors, having a really experienced assistant doctor that we got on well with. We both really became involved in the patient support group and I was on the committee for that group and I got a lot of satisfaction doing that. And I also had some counselling throughout the process too.
So in contrast to the two years before we went onto IVF, or three years, I can’t remember how many years it was, I think IVF was not the worst part because at least there was support and there was a sense that we were doing everything we possibly could to try to have a child. And compared to the shear agony and isolation of a couple of years before that it was a lot better to actually meet others who were going through the same thing. Despite the fact that the treatment itself was an arduous struggle and we had spent a lot of money on fully stimulated cycles and not really getting anywhere and very rarely having transfers, my memory of the IVF process was it wasn’t the bleakest moment for me psychologically.
The challenge was probably balancing the hopes against the reality check as well. And the fact that you’re basically living your life in limbo really for years and years and not really knowing what’s going to come. And the other thing that was happening during that time for us was for us was that nearly all of our friends back in the UK and quite a few people we knew here were having their first children. Friends back home were like me in their late 30s most of them had married late. I’d been married for years before they got married or met their partners. And my brother, who’s younger than me, had his two children during his infertility experience. And Alistair’s sister, who’s also younger than him had her two children during that time as well. At the time it felt as if they were taking it in turns to torment us with their fertility and it just felt like it was against the natural order of things - we were the eldest children, you know, it should have been us.
And we were very public about the fact that we were trying for children as well. So it was... fairly public kind of struggle during that time.
I think I would say to them that it’s a really difficult, painful road because it throws open the whole question of who are you going to become. And all the assumptions that you might have had really through your whole life often about your future, about becoming a parent. All of that is questioned and becomes suddenly, scarily, provisional.
Even for someone like myself who was never primarily, never primarily saw myself in terms of becoming a mother - but it was there. It was certainly there, the way things came up... into my active life into my thirties.
And I think it’s really terrifying. And you can feel totally cut off and abandoned and cut off from the mainstream of life too. Because most people do become parents and... So suddenly you’re falling behind all your peers. So it affects all your social relationships too. There’s so many elements and layers to it, and I think the desire, the desire for a child is so natural.