One year apart to the day, embryo transfer day and twelve months later. This is Louise’s story.
At the age of 35 Louise took the decision to undergo IVF treatment as a solo mum and after treatment at RHG her son was born in December 2018. However her journey was not always a straightforward one and here she describes her experience and offers some advice to others considering the same process based on what she herself would have liked to have heard from someone who had been through it themselves:
I was 35 when I started to seriously think about being a solo mum, not because I put my career first or because I thought I could have it all – wording often associated with single women in their late thirties – but because life just hadn’t unfolded that way. I’d had good, bad and indifferent relationships and then within a blink found myself 35 and missing the one thing I’d known since teenage years was a priority for me, a baby. I looked into the future and knew that I had a lifetime to find the right relationship but not as long to try for a child, so needed to focus my efforts on that versus waiting for it to happen.
We are so lucky to live in a time where there are lots of routes to being a parent, the fact that I hadn’t met the right life partner didn’t need to stop me becoming a mummy. I considered the options and knew that I wanted the opportunity to experience pregnancy if at all possible.
My journey to becoming a mummy wasn’t a straightforward one, it certainly took turns I didn’t expect and at times felt impossible. I remember the realisation along the way that IVF was giving me the opportunity to try for a baby but by no means guaranteeing the ending I longed for. I would read IVF success stories and wonder when that would be my turn and why this magical ending seemed so out of my reach and why what I read didn’t resonate with my experience.
As a solo IVF mum, here’s what I would have liked to hear from someone who had been through it;
- Injections aren’t so bad – They really aren’t. I was dreading them and felt sorry for myself that I didn’t have a husband or partner to do them for me – but truly, they are fine. You’ll become a pro and honestly, you can do it – you will be incredibly proud of what you can and will do.
- Picking a donor – I found myself googling average foot size and obsessing over detail I’d never known about any ex-boyfriend. What l I can tell you is that now my baby is here all the stuff I obsessed over means nothing to me. Take your time, take the pressure off and think about what really matters to you – keep the detail in perspective as I truly couldn’t care less what my child’s foot size is now!
- Solo but supported – You’ll hit a time when you will need someone there whether you want to talk, want company but don’t feel like talking or just need an occasional check-in text. Whether its family, friends or one of the counsellors that your clinic can connect you with – there will be a point that you don’t see coming when you may need someone there so have a think about who your support team is. Equally, if you are like me, there may be times you don’t feel like talking at all but still have thoughts and feelings floating around. I found writing really useful, I wrote letters to my future baby telling them about why I decided to do IVF, why I chose the donor and how I felt at key steps etc.
- Be Kind to yourself – IVF is such a broad term, no two people have exactly the same journey. It’s wonderful and I feel incredibly lucky that the science exists to help solo mums achieve their dreams but it isn’t easy and there can be hurdles along the way. I had four failed attempts before I had my baby, the low points that aren’t really talked about, and each time I worried about what I had done wrong; should I have rested? / did I rest too much; should I have done acupuncture? / should I not have done acupuncture. If you do hit bumps in the road, take time to heal and remember it’s not your fault. I found the time between treatment cycles the hardest – after the strict regime of injections and appointments I felt lost. Be kind to yourself, plan nice things, whether that’s seeing friends or taking time to relax and make an appointment with your clinic to review and move forward when you are ready.
Now my baby is here I know that every bump in the road led me to him, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m so thankful for the people who helped me along the way, from the old friends who text at just the right time, the new ones made along the way, the incredible fertility nurses who literally held my hand at key moments to the consultant who made my dreams come true. I am a solo mum, but my support team helped me get here.