Maybe it’s better not to look at the stats

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.)

Argh.

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… 

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15 comments

  1. My Perfect Breakdown

    Sometimes we have these bad days, days where all we can do is throw ourselves a pity party and nothing is going to change how we feel. I’m sorry you are there right now, but I also think it’s healthy to let these emotions out. I wish I could wrap you up in a giant hug and cry with you. Please know that I am sending you love and so hoping that one day your dreams come true.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mamajo23

    Oh boy do we all have these days. So sorry you are in the midst of despair and frustration. It really is unfair. I wish it were all so different for all of us but alas we have to somehow move forward in our situations and make the most of it. I say you go see a private clinic and get a consultation. After reading so many of your posts I think you guys should give it everything you have and do a few rounds of IVF at a private clinic and try and keep hope and optimism it will work. Once you have exhausted that route then you can start to think about another path- or you will have your baby. It sounds like you could one day be ok with your current situation but I also think you have plenty of hope and fight left in you. Just my two cents. Hugs to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. tidleone

    That permanent state of limbo and wanting something and being denied and seeing everyone get it – well, it’s just really shit sometimes and I think it’s fine to acknowledge that and let it out. It’s exhausting trying to convince yourself that everything is okay. I hope letting it all out allows you some relief from all of that frustration. X

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Courtney

    Hope IS exhausting, and you can’t help but wonder if you’re just kidding yourself.

    I’m going to throw something at you here. My friend, who is older than me, did IVF at the same time as me, and she was unexplained (we’re male factor). We were both successful on our third tries just 4 months apart. Same thing on baby #2. She delivered 4 days before she turned 40. There is hope, lots of it. But that doesn’t mean you have to be perpetually hopeful. I’ll be that for you. 😉

    I cannot believe how different adoption is in the us versus everywhere else. Amazing.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. stealingnectar

    I am thinking of you, Nara. You are delightful and I hate to see you so sad, although it is sooooo understandable. I just want to validate all of your feeling and let you know I am rooting for you. Many bear hugs.

    Like

  6. andthewindscreamsmary

    Don’t worry about your pity party. I’ve been having one for a month now. It is really just so depressing/frustrating when you stop and REALLY think about it. I know how you feel. But I hope better days are ahead for you.

    Like

  7. Surviving Infertility

    Days like these really stink. Im sorry you are having one bc I hate having them too. But, sometimes I need them and Im guessing you probably do too. Everything you have been through is so much to process, especially always in a positive way. I dont have the right words, but know I am thinking of you and sending you love ❤️

    Like

  8. countyourselfunlucky

    So sorry you’re feeling bad. I totally get what you’re saying and I think it’s normal to feel the way you do. I just want to let you know that I’m totally rooting for you and I think you can do it and (hopefully) will do it. If you do decide to look at private clinics in London, I’d be happy to talk to you about the one I use… feel better & hang in there.

    Like

  9. ashleykyleanderson

    I won’t tell you to look at the bright side or to stay positive and hopeful. Just want you to know that I’m here with you. I’m sorry you’re feeling discouraged and out of options. The female reproductive system really sucks. All of this just sucks. 😦 Whenever you’re too tired to keep hoping, I’ll hold onto that hope for you. You and T will be wonderful parents. Dog will be a wonderful big brother. I can honestly picture it all so clearly and can’t wait for it to be a reality. I know the wait is truly agonizing… I hope somehow these months fly by. xx

    Like

  10. flatwhitetogo85

    I’m a bit late to the (much deserved) pity party. I’m so sorry you’re having such a rough time at the moment. It must be so hard to try and stay positive after all this time, especially when you start looking at stats and “the fear” really sets in. For all that you are definitely not “out” and you certainly should still have hope because (granted it may be a very difficult, long, expensive journey) nothing with fertility is ever certain, I can completely understand why you’re scared and angry after 16 years 😦 I really hope the second round of IVF is successful. It must be so hard not to get incredibly anxious about it all x

    Like

    • Nara

      Thank you. It’s difficult not to let it all get on top of you sometimes… Usually my best approach is to try and distract myself from worrying too much. But the stats were depressing! T thinks I’m being too pessimistic though!

      Like

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