Fertility was something I never thought about. Infertility didn’t even figure on my radar. School was all about ensuring we knew how not to get pregnant and that was the extent of my thinking about it.
Finding myself single again in my 30s, yet keen to start a family, I felt I should have a back-up plan while I searched for my soulmate.
I researched and saved up for IVF.
When I went to speak to my doctor about a referral for solo-IVF, he asked me if I didn’t like men. I left the clinic feeling ashamed.
Looking back, it’s an astounding question from a healthcare professional.
I was however, referred to a fertility clinic, where investigations began. Soon after, I was diagnosed with endometriosis and told this could impact my fertility and asked scathingly was I not aware?
My first round of solo-IVF came close to being cancelled mid-way. I was informed I had liquid in one fallopian tube and was asked if I was happy to continue, knowing the chances of success were now halved.
I had spent so much money and been through so much to get here, my options were to throw that all away, or continue with a smaller chance of success. It was a no-brainer.
That first round ended in a miscarriage. But I felt sure my body would know what to do next time.
The second round then failed.
In my follow-up consultation, and without further investigations, the doctor told me I was unlikely to ever carry a child. I was devastated.
One upside, however, was that I had met a guy and we started trying naturally. I fell pregnant almost immediately.
I lost that baby, but fell pregnant again within a month. I lost that baby also, then nothing for over a year, in which time I had been referred to a Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Unit where I was told I had a bicornate uterus and needed surgery. Just before the surgery I found out I was pregnant but lost that baby a day later. The miscarriage clinic could find no reason why I had miscarried and offered no advice in terms of what to do if I miscarried again.
Due to the fact I was now struggling to get pregnant, we were told we should have IVF and may need donor eggs. We agreed to a first round with my eggs. I fell pregnant with twins but lost them. We went to the follow-up consultation expecting to start looking at donor eggs, but the consultant told us we would just keep losing any pregnancy. This news was devastating.
We looked into other avenues, surrogacy and adoption. We hadn’t stopped trying and I fell pregnant naturally nine months later. I lost that baby also and knew at that point that I could not put myself through that again. We took a few months out to grieve and then agreed to apply for adoption. We have now just been approved and are waiting for a match.
All along, I faced judgement and a lack of compassion from some of the doctors and medical staff I encountered. I was judged for being a single woman, for not wanting to miss out on being a mother and for not being aware I had endometriosis.
I was left to make decisions I was not qualified to make and not given sufficient information or options to consider. I was told I would not carry a child of my own, but I wasn’t told why. No cause was found for my miscarriages. I was also not informed of all the tests which are not currently carried out by the NHS, but I could have undertaken privately.
I want to ensure that in future, people no longer suffer in silence with fertility issues and baby loss.
I want to see more research into areas of high unmet need, including recurrent miscarriage.
I want people to feel confident that all avenues are being investigated, and that everything possible is being done to help them build a family.