I was someone who knew their own mind and didn’t change it easily.
When my long term partner still couldn’t commit to wanting children by my late 30’s I knew it was the death knell on our relationship. I had not been able to consider pregnancy earlier with him due to health issues. We’d struggled on having to endure a distance relationship due to employment issues but I always knew I wanted a family. He had needed time and as circumstances never came good he couldn’t face the commitment of kids as much as he loved me. Lesson 1 - love is not always enough.
So I went back to dating but would not date men with children as I knew I wanted only my ‘own family’ and I was very open about that. Fast forward a couple of years and I met and fell in love with a man who wanted a family and had no kids. We tried from the get go as time was not on our side and when it wasn’t happening the testing began. First it was sperm tests which his GP assured him were ok, a little slow but ok. He proposed, we moved into a ‘family’ home and then wham 3 days after moving in we go to our Fertility consultation. ‘No’ they say ‘these results are not ok, you will need IVF to stand a chance of conception’. Lesson 2 - GP’s knowledge is not enough.
Bless him, he wanted to let me go so I could still have my own family as for him sperm donation was not an option. Me, I was in love, engaged, in a new home and had realised IVF may be on the cards at my age anyway so I was going nowhere. My tests showed good egg reserves for my age so we powered on to IVF. For someone with severe needle phobia this alone was an achievement and surely it would work if we stayed positive and did all the ‘right’ things. We didn’t let the stats get us down but obviously it didn’t work and we were devastated. Lesson 3 - wanting it and staying positive is not enough.
As we’d produced two good embryos first time and I still had good reserve results we powered onto another cycle this time researching & making back up plans to help us cope. We even had our wedding so that if it worked our ‘baby’ would be with us on our big day, if it didn’t I would have a distraction to focus on. I focussed, I focussed hard as it had failed. Lesson 4 - planning for failure is not enough.
This is where it gets really messy. This is where we find out that actually if we want any real chance we need young uber healthy donor eggs to help correct sperm issues. This is where I change my mind. Except it didn’t feel like that. It felt like I was losing my mind because I didn’t change my mind. That was not me, once I’d made a decision I stuck with it. How could I do a u turn on something as huge as this? But I did. When it became our actual reality I couldn’t make my peace with sacrificing my child even though days before I’d been considering where to go for egg donor treatment. Lesson 5 - any child was not enough it had to be ours, our child - my family & all that that meant to me.
Long story short (ish) that was the start of my grieving process, though I didn’t know it then. We’d had a relatively short & very intense infertility journey and now I had the rest of my life to try & make some sense of it and what was left in its wake. It’s been a lot of downs, fair few twists and a few ups and the process continues. It may seem I didn’t want it enough but I fell apart working out just what it was I had wanted and why I needed it. Now I’m putting together again what it is I have. Lesson 6 - we are enough.
Some days it’s harder than others to feel that. I’ve had a lot of loss in my life but being Childless Not By Choice is the hardest thing I’ve had to accept but it is part of me now. A part I won’t hide away. I’m proud to be in such amazing company as all the other people who tread the same path in a world that has yet to really see us.
We are all enough and we deserve to be understood.