As a child growing up I thought I had my whole life planned out, I’d meet the man of my dreams, get married, and have children, and never for one moment did I imagine that wouldn’t be the case.
Despite having five children, three of whom were born in just two years, having babies did not come easily to me. Having been through infertility in my first marriage, and the loss of fifteen babies to miscarriage, and our second son Joseph to stillbirth, there reached a point where I resigned myself to accepting that I would never have the family I dreamt of. I wasn’t sure that I could go through any more heartache, worn down with the constant hospital appointments and daily injections, and each devastating loss crushing our last glimmer of hope.
Thankfully, and miraculously, I fell pregnant with Eva and within two years Megan and Harry came along to make us a family of six. When I think about how close I was to giving up, I thank god that I didn’t, that I had pushed my fears aside, defeated the odds, and found the strength and determination to keep trying. For that reason, I have a great deal of sympathy for those still trying, for those who face adversity in their path to parenthood, and for those who must over come the toughest of obstacles to hold their baby in their arms.
Sadly there is a vast number of couples struggling to conceive, in just the same way that I was, and what I really want to tell them is that no matter how hard it may seem, never give up hope. There are so many options available for couples struggling to conceive, all of which have been successful for so many families.
For those experiencing infertility, there are three main types of fertility treatment –
Medicines – Fertility medicines are usually prescribed to women as they’re mostly used to help with ovulation problems. But, in some cases, they may also be prescribed to men.
Surgical procedures – Surgical procedures that may be used to investigate fertility problems and help with fertility include Fallopian tube surgery, Laparoscopic surgery, Surgical extraction of sperm which may be an option for men, particularly those who have had a vasectomy.
Assisted conception – These include intrauterine insemination (IUI), also known as artificial insemination, and in vitro fertilisation (IVF), where the egg is fertilised outside of the body and the embryo planted back into the womb.
Same sex couples can face adversity when wanting to start a family, particularly for those who do not wish to adopt. Using a sperm or egg donor allows co-parenting with lesbian and gay couples, and this can be done in a number of ways. Using a sperm donor a female couple can undergo fertility treatment (as above), and a male couple may use a donor egg to undergo pregnancy via a surrogate (as below).
Surrogacy is when a woman carries a baby for a couple who are unable to conceive or carry a child themselves. Usually the intended mother cannot conceive, or carry a child to term, due to a medical problem. Common reasons why Intended Parents may look at surrogacy are:
- Recurrent miscarriage in spite of all possible treatment
- Repeated failure of IVF treatment
- Premature menopause, often as a result of cancer treatment
- A hysterectomy, or an absent or abnormal uterus
There are two types of surrogacy, straight (where the baby is conceived via artificial insemination using the hosts egg) and host, where IVF is used, either with the eggs of the intended mother, or with donor eggs. You can read more over on www.surrogacyuk.org
Adoption is a way of providing a permanent home and family to a child who can’t be brought up by their birth family. Each year in England alone there are over 4000 children in foster care needing a home, many being older children, sibling groups or children with disabilities.
Some couples choose to adopt following infertility or medical reasons, and for some adoption is their first choice for starting or extending their family. The process is incredibly thorough, lengthy and hard going, and yet every couple I know who has adopted assures me that in the end, it was absolutely worth it for their family.