At my son’s weekly swimming class one of his pals has moved to the class before him, meaning the little girls Mum doesn’t have to get in the pool. She is heavily pregnant and sits watching. As we wait to start our class and make small talk she asks my son whether he knows what is in her tummy. He does, he says it’s a baby. She then goes on to tell him how it’s a little sister for her daughter.
I’m waiting for my son who turns 3 in March and doesn’t miss a trick, to ask me whether he will have a sister. I don’t know what my answer will be.
We had fertility treatment in 2014, and were successful first time. Once pregnant, I launched The Fertility Podcast where I speak to fertility experts around the world as well as sharing the remarkable stories of people willing to talk their own fertility struggle to help others feel less alone.
We are so much better at talking about IVF, infertility and all that comes with it from the cuts in funding to the mental health issues. In the 3 1/2 years I’ve been immersed in this industry it has been amazing to see the shift in awareness. There is the most incredible amount of support online, with communities watching out for each other, advising, sharing their route to parenthood. There’s heartache and joy.. it’s such a massive rollercoaster.
Recently I’ve started to talk more about where I’m at and how I feel about our ‘secondary infertility’ which is a term often overlooked. The tribe of women and men affected by this tend to keep quiet about how they feel. We struggle to deal with the fact that the idea of how our family will look might not be possible. It’s an acceptance that you’re just not prepared for. After you get through the initial shock of needing science to intervene to help a first time, you’re left to work out the next bit.
When you have had successful fertility treatment and are blessed with a one child, inevitably you are going to need to have treatment a second time. Yes there are those stories of people who had IVF and then fell pregnant, my best friend had twins after several failed attempts and then fell naturally. I know it happens.
However, we’ve been at this stage for almost 3 years now. I’ve been going through the same process I went through when we were trying to conceive, hoping I’m pregnant each month. I even managed to dread my 40th birthday last October as I was adamant I wanted to be pregnant before it arrived.
You see, we have three frozen embryos and we have decided that we are going to use them this year. If the treatment doesn’t work, I know in my heart of heart’s that we will need to accept our family is 3. I don’t think I can go through the whole treatment again plus we can’t afford to. Plus, 3 is a magic number after all.
The guilt I feel for thinking like this is immense. I’m constantly speaking to people who are trying to conceive and hearing their total dismay when another round of treatment fails. I know we are blessed to have our son and I make sure I drink in ever moment of his tantrums as he heads towards being a ‘threenager’. I work part time to allow me to have as much time with him as I can afford. I feel guilt towards my son that he might not have a sibling. As one of three, my older sister and brother have played a hugely significant part of my life, so much so we relocated a year ago to live near all of my family.
I never imagined my child would be an only child and I worry.
I worry he’ll resent us, I worry he’ll have the burden of looking after us when we are old all resting on his shoulders. At the same time I have promised myself that if we don’t manage to have another child our door will always be open for our son to have his pals around and they will become his family too.
I guess when my son starts to ask questions about whether he will have a sister or learns about having a brother, I will say the same thing to him that I tell other people. That it wasn’t straight forward for us to have him.. and I’ll continue to work on getting my head around a better answer!
If you’ve had a bumpy route to parenthood, are still trying to get there or complete your family and want to share your story do get in touch