I decided based on yesterday’s post to have a look at the private clinics. It’s a minefield. I looked for a single league table comparison of fertility clinics in London but it doesn’t exist. That’s because, as anyone knows (and I know in my job where I’m always asked to benchmark things), there’s no such thing as a like for like comparison.
The closest I can find is the HFEA website that compares different clinics’ data based on your search. But when you’re just an old “unexplained infertility” type then it doesn’t really help.
Also, I’m now into the older age bracket. The not-quite-40 but the one where all the stats show that suddenly the success rate drops.
I feel like crying.
Really, honestly, I feel like I’ve wasted years of my life when I could have been trying to sort this out. It’s not through anything being different in terms of my reproductive health – I had problems that were identified way back when I was 25, so it’s not like it would have worked then. But I think it’s a mind game. Me turning that age where your ovaries are supposed to have shrivelled up doesn’t change the fact that I had problems whatever age I was. It’s not like I was sitting around not doing anything… I was in a long term relationship and we were doing what you’re supposed to do to have a baby… I really should have a few by now.
I haven’t done anything “wrong” and yet I feel like a f***ing failure, and that it’s too late to do things now because all the stats say 1 in 4 is the most I can hope for.
And I feel angry. I feel angry that it comes so bloody easily to everyone else. Even my friend who did IVF had a baby first time round and then whoopsie, had another one with no problems at all. WTF. Everyone else who has this “infertility” thing is worried about two years of trying or whatever and I have had SIXTEEN BLOODY YEARS. And I’m no closer to anything than these platitudes of “Oh well, 1 in 4, 1 in 8, just keep trying…” – what do you think I’ve been doing for 16 years? Like pretty much my whole adult life?
Today I’m feeling sorry for myself.
I can scrape together £5k. I can maybe even scrape £10k if I had six months to do it. But that doesn’t change the fact that the stats are completely against me.
I don’t feel empowered by the data. I feel even more depressed, because I have a stats background and I can see how bleak the picture is. In the 1 in 4 (best case for women my age, my rough eyeballing of London data) most of those have been preselected by the clinic. (For example ARGC, the clinic with the best success rate in London – they preselect patients. Plus it can cost £15k or whatever and it usually happens by cycle 4. I’m sorry, I don’t have a spare £60k.) In the 1 in 4 there are women who’ve been trying for a year and have gotten impatient and worried when if they’d left it, they’d probably have gotten pregnant anyway.
I’ve had many many opportunities to get pregnant over 16 years and it has never. once. happened. Unless you count IVF where it happened but didn’t get there. So excuse me for being brusque but FFS there must be a reason. For sure, we can “keep trying and it might happen naturally” which is what the doctor told us at the hospital yesterday. But the stats are not on our side. If it hasn’t happened for 16 years, really, honestly, tell me what the chances are of it happening now. I’ll give it a rough guess: less than 1%.
Yes, miracle babies do occur, but I think by now we’re all familiar with infertility-lore where you adopt a baby and then get pregnant naturally, or you quit your job and get pregnant naturally, or you “just relax” and you get pregnant naturally, or you have successful IVF and then get pregnant naturally – none of those things are happening to me any time soon. Plus I feel like any adopted child might feel a bit – miffed? – to find out he/she has only been used as a fertility prop.*
(* This is not a dig at anyone, including my parents to whom it happened! I’m just feeling mad and sad today, and also I feel like I’m always having to be an apologist for adoption – because I’m alright jack – and also I feel like most people don’t understand that adoption in the UK is different, with a very small proportion of kids adopted out of care, and having been forcibly removed from their families due to adverse circumstances, because we don’t have that same social stigma of unmarried mothers here. So no, I don’t want my child to have been a victim of abuse before they come to me. I just don’t feel equipped to deal with that. I’ve written about it a lot, but I feel like I always have to clarify. Really, there’s a lot on my blog about it so before suggesting adoption please read it.)
I don’t know what I’m trying to say today. I still have a super positive fun Christmassy post to write (I promise I’ve been keeping myself busy with nice stuff) but sometimes I just want to scream.
Or I feel like I have to face up to it – the idea that I may never have kids. I spoke with a friend about this recently – she’s a couple of years older than me and she’s accepted not having kids. Her partner has a child and had a vasectomy, and she’s thought about it and come to terms with the fact that it would be too difficult to change that and time is not in her favour. I admire that. She’s one of the most positive, lovely people I know. (I try only to know positive lovely people!) I sort of feel like if I could get to that point then I could focus on embracing that.
I’ve been thinking of childlessness more lately, and how I identify. As women, so much is implicit in our identity – and intrinsic to that is the ability to bear children. Let’s face it, that’s what boobs are for. (Weirdly they weren’t invented to be jacked up with plastic and to bury men’s faces in, whatever they’d have you believe.) I think a large part of my identity has been to be ostensibly childfree – I’ve always been the fun big sister / aunt / fairy godmother / friend. I’m pretty invested in a lot of people and I enjoy the whole family and friends thing. But in the back of my mind I always thought I would eventually have kids.
My lack of kids with my ex was probably in hindsight where a lot of the problems lay. We did all the stuff you’re meant to do: going out, cohabiting, marriage, but then there was nowhere to go. Even with all of our shared history we didn’t have a foundation for our future happiness – I don’t mean that it’s dependent on children or that I’d ever put it on children. But it was a different scenario than my current relationship with T. I feel like with T, and with Dog, I already have a family. We already have this strong foundation of belonging and security and love and fun, and if we never have a child, we can refocus on those things. Maybe I’m not explaining it well but I feel like there has to be something else tying you together other than moving onto the next stage and a shared history – I know because I had all that and it wasn’t enough. We had love, too, and I’d never want to downplay that, but it was like we had too much pain between the two of us to move forward.
Anyway, today I’m having an Eeyore moment. (Thanks Ashley!) I really have been touched by the responses to my previous post and all you wonderful ladies providing support. I know there’s hope – but sometimes it’s exhausting. I know there’s happiness – but sometimes it’s fleeting. And I know there’s love – and that’s what counts. If my life ends tomorrow, I know I’ve enjoyed it. (Though NB please remember me at a thinner weight!) Ach, I’ll get through. I always do. I just need to believe that one day in the future we’ll be able to look back and say Look how far we’ve come…