I always knew that at one point I would have children and I was never worried about it, yet I almost missed my chance. I enjoyed my youth, built my career, travelled a lot and I expected to meet the right partner along the way and eventually build a family “the standard way” but that unfortunately didn’t happen.
As I approached 40 and split up from my partner, it struck me that I would likely lose the chance to ever become a mum if I wasn’t actively doing something about it. This is when I decided to start fertility treatment by myself. Now I realise how lucky I am to be the mother of an adorable little girl.
I started to investigate my options in 2014 when I met someone who made me realise that I didn’t need a partner and could use a sperm bank. I went on the internet and registered myself to an open day at a clinic which I had assumed was the only clinic providing treatment for single women. A few months later, I started my first IUI with that same clinic. At the time, I was not ready to consider IVF as I felt the treatment would be too invasive.
The very beginning of my journey felt rather lonely and bewildering as I was entering a world I had never considered before, a world which was not compatible with my inherited sense of family, and a world using jargon I didn’t understand. However, very soon after, I met an unexpected number of other single women who were at different stages of the same journey and had formed a rapidly growing Facebook support group. They became an incredible source of information and support and I can count a good few of them amongst my closest circle of friends today.
As I became more informed about fertility treatments and found out that my egg reserve was rather low, I understood that IVF would give me a greater chance of success and was not necessarily as invasive as I first thought compared to IUI. I also felt that the clinic where I was being treated was not exactly right for me and I started to investigate other clinics. I had heard of CREATE from other women I had met. I attended an open day on a Saturday morning where I met Professor Geeta Nargund. I subsequently decided to switch clinic. It all went quite fast from then. I spent the rest of the weekend finding a new sperm donor which I was told could come either from CREATE or any of the other international sperm banks and I started an IVF cycle the following Monday.
A combination of three things attracted me to CREATE. The first one was their more natural and less invasive approach to IVF with reduced amount of drugs. Number two was the quality of their internationally renowned consultants, and number three was their treatment cost. Whilst success rates was also a factor of choice, it was not as important a criteria to me as I first anticipated when I found out the reported figures were often reflective of the clinics’ unwillingness to accept patients with very low chance of success and therefore could not be compared on a like-for-like basis.
My first IVF cycle unfortunately failed. I was subsequently advised by my consultant to get a fibroid removed. It was not a big medical concern as such but it was in a bad position and it was feared to come in the way of implantation. The key was to get it removed whilst protecting the lining of my womb. CREATE offered to refer me to one of the top surgeons specialising in that domain who was based in Belgium. In the meantime I decided to start a three cycle package, all of which were natural modified cycles. The eggs collected from each cycle were fertilised and the viable embryos were frozen until I fully recovered from surgery. Three months after surgery, I was ready to get those embryos transferred and one of them grew into my little girl.
Overall the process of fertility treatment can be quite overwhelming but I was very pleased with the treatment I received at CREATE. I was very lucky to be treated by one consultant throughout who I trusted and would see me at most consultations. It provided continuity and made the process more human and personal.
That said, the entire process was a roller coaster experience, as it is for many. Since I had chosen a natural modified approach, drugs thankfully did not have so much of an impact on me. However, the fact that the decision was one the most important I would ever make in my life and there was never any certainty as to whether the outcome would be positive made it rather difficult. The journey was a constant mix of hope, fear, impatience, disappointment and even despair at times. Having to fit the treatment in a busy life style without telling people around me, regularly revising plans around work commitments and other life events for an outcome which was still very reliant on Mother Nature and therefore couldn’t be controlled made it all the more challenging. I found that choosing to collect and freeze embryos, then transferring them later, made the treatment easier to cope with practically and emotionally and the support of the people I had met on the journey was invaluable.
It’s difficult to find the right words to describe what life is like now with my daughter. I felt so content with my decision to go solo as soon as I made it and I feel incredibly fortunate to be a mum today. I cannot imagine life without my daughter and I can hardly remember how my life was before she was born. On a practical level, I am quickly learning the true meaning of multi-tasking and I have discovered rather late in life how much I could do with my two hands, two feet, two elbows and my chin…I am having to plan much more in advance but I am equally far less in control of things. I have a whole bunch of new friends and, when I look at my daughter’s eyes and her smile, I see that I am the most important and loved person in her life. It is an incredible feeling and it is reciprocal.
My piece of advice to other single women who are going through treatment is to do everything they can to stay as relaxed and stress free as possible through treatment. Anything you can do to keep a healthy state of mind will be worth much more than the combination of any supplement, alternative medicine and complementary treatment you will hear about. It is easier said than done I know. I personally tried to approach my treatment like a project so that I could keep my emotions aside as much as possible. It’s an emotional journey and most don’t get it right the first time but don’t ever look back, keep looking forward. It is so worth it when you finally get there.
If you are a single woman & want to start a family, download our detailed guide to understand your options - https://www.createhealth.org/fertility-treatments-services/fertility-treatments/options-for-single-women