The reasons for infertility are many and varied and each Inspirational story uncovers a new one.
There are fewer factors that assist with healing and, in common with many others, for Christine ‘the main help was knowing that others were experiencing the same feelings and emotions as we were.’ For her and her husband this was through MoreToLife and being inspired by those who were further along the path.
Many writers speak of a pivotal moment when they’d had enough and Christine’s was deciding that she was ‘sick and tired of always being sick and tired.” So she decided to ‘get on with my life the best I could.’
I often write that we have freedom and flexibility in our lives and Christine and her husband are embracing this fully as they ‘do the things that we wouldn’t have been able to do if we had had a family.’ She acknowledges that this wasn’t easy but she has succeeded in living a wonderful life and taking this to a level that many of us wouldn’t consider as last year they emigrated to New Zealand.
Over to Christine,
1. Where are you on your journey now
It is now 10 years since we finished our fertility treatment and had to come to terms with the fact that we would never be parents.
2. What’s your story
I was one of those little girls who always wanted to be a mother. There was never any doubt in my mind that I wanted to get married and have children, only doubt that I might not ever meet a man who wanted to marry me! Fortunately that changed when I met my future husband at the relatively early age of 21 and we were married 2 years later at age 23. So there was no rush, we wanted to enjoy being just the 2 of us for a while before settling down to the responsibility of parenthood.
Then as 30 approached I got the opportunity of redundancy from my job in London which was perfect as I wanted to stay at home with my children rather than going back to work. We had our perfect house and could afford to survive on one salary so the stage was all set.
Then nothing happened and after about a year we went to see our GP who said that they would refer us to a specialist but that it would take a while for the appointment to come through and in the meantime just relax and by then I would probably be pregnant anyway!
Well sure enough by the time the appointment came through I had just had a positive pregnancy test so no problem – until I miscarried a couple of weeks later. This was of course devastating but I was still young and if I could get pregnant once then I could again, and sure enough 5 months later another positive pregnancy test. However this also ended in miscarriage.
We did then go to see a specialist and I told her that I was an only child and that my mother had had several miscarriages before having me and could there be any connection. Her response was that miscarriages weren’t looked into until you had had 3 and then they would investigate further. We then had several months on Clomid but no further pregnancies and were told that we should do IVF.
However we had heard about IUI which was a slightly less drastic step so could we try that, and we were referred to a doctor who specialised in this treatment. I responded well to this and produced a well above average number of eggs and sure enough another positive (although faint) pregnancy test but shortly afterwards another disappointment.
The specialist asked us what tests had been done and said that he presumed we had had a chromosome blood test. We had never heard of this and so one was done and I was found to have a chromosome translocation. I have the correct number of chromosomes but a couple of them were mixed up. This does not affect me at all but when my chromosomes and those of my husband combine in an embryo there are several potential outcomes. Either the embryo may be free of the genetic mutation completely (like my husband) or may carry the mutation (like me) meaning that the child would be OK except that he/she would then have the same problem when they came to have children.
Alternatively the embryo may end up with not enough genetic material (resulting in miscarriage) or too much which would result in severe disabilities. This was completely devastating and our only realistic option was to try IVF with donor eggs. We decided to try and after being on a waiting list for a year we got our turn. Two eggs were fertilised and implanted but no pregnancy resulted.
We then heard about a revolutionary new treatment which would mean doing IVF with my own eggs but removing a cell from any that fertilised to test for the chromosome translocation. We decided to give it a try so that we could then say that we had tried everything we could. The treatment resulted in 7 eggs, 5 of which fertilised and were tested but each one was found to carry the translocation. So that was it, the end of the road.
We contemplated trying again but quite aside from the financial and emotional cost, by then I was 42 and on discussing it both of us had felt during the treatment that while a large part of us desperately wanted it to be successful, part of us was scared how we would cope with a baby at our age. So we decided to call it a day. We discussed adoption but decided that it was not for us for a variety of reasons.
This was the lowest point of my life because, as well as the grief of coming to terms with not having a family, my mother had also passed away 2 years previously.
3. What helped you heal/how did you deal with your grief
I did see a couple of counsellors which helped a little, but the main help was knowing that others were experiencing the same feelings and emotions as we were. We had belonged to an infertility support organisation and there was an off- shoot organisation from this called More To Life.
While we were at an infertility conference a while previously we had listened to a talk from a More To Life Member. It was so good to know that not everyone comes out the other end of fertility treatment with the longed for “miracle baby” and that those who don’t were getting on and leading fulfilling lives.
Not the lives that they would have wished for but fulfilling none the less. We joined up and it was a real lifeline for me. We went to some get togethers and have made lifelong friends through the organisation, one couple have become our closest friends, more like family in fact. I became a county contact and organised some get togethers myself a bit further down the line.
But the main healer is time. I know that is an old cliche but it is true. At some point, I am not quite sure when, I realised that I was fed up of being miserable all the time. The words of a song by Anastacia seemed to sum it up. They are “I’m sick and tired of always being sick and tired”. I thought that I could either just give up or get on with my life the best I could and with the inspiration of the More To Life members I decided on the latter.
4. What are the positives (gifts) of not having children
At first there didn’t seem to be any of course, but in time we came to a decision that if we weren’t able to have children then we would do the things that we wouldn’t have been able to do if we had had a family, and spend the money that we would have spent raising them on doing those things.
We both loved to see new places and have new experiences so we decided to travel and see something of the world. In the last 10 years we have visited many beautiful countries and seen things that we would never have seen if we had had a family. Such as seeing the sun rise over the Ganges, and visiting the Taj Mahal in India. Going on safari in South Africa and being within touching distance of elephants, lions and rhino in their natural habitat, and walking on the Great Wall of China and getting to cuddle a baby Giant Panda in a conservation centre.
And we can spend quality time with our nephew (our godson) and niece and spoil them rotten, then hand them back to their parents and collapse with a glass of wine in peace and quiet!
So there are advantages to not having children of our own even though it took quite a while for us to recognise that.
5. How different are you now
I am a very different person now to the one I was before. For a long time after the end of our treatments I thought that without a family I could never be happy. But thanks to the love and support of my wonderful husband, family and that of my friends (from More To Life and others) I am now in a much better place in my life.
I have realised that everyone has their own cross to bear and even those people who on the outside seem to have everything and be living a perfect life are often not happy and have their own problems to face.
6. What advice would you give to other women who are not as far down the road as you are
Give yourself time to grieve, there is no right or wrong way to do this and everyone must find their own way through.
However do look to those who have been through it before you and use them as examples of what can happen. There was a time when they thought that they would never be happy again either. There is a life waiting to be lived, it may not be the one you had planned but it can still be wonderful.
How did Christine’s Inspirational Story resonate with you?
What would it take for you to have a pivotal moment like Christine,or if you’ve had one, what was it?
Please share your thoughts below to help other women (you don’t have to use your real name).
If you’re not sure what it would take, how about we have a conversation? You can book a complimentary session via my online diary and we will spend 20 to 30 minutes to get clarity on how we could work together to create a life you love. There will be no pressure I promise and if nothing else you’ll be assured that what you’re going through is normal.
Christine says that learning about others further down the road was key for her. That’s why I created these Inspirational Stories.