The nuances of going through fertility treatment as a solo mum
A guest post by Mel Johnson, founder The Stork and I
Meet Mel, who is my next guest on the podcast, which will be out on Monday. Mel and I spoke about her decision to have fertility treatment on her own and how she is now supporting other women to make the same decision and has created a community of solo mums.
Having spent the majority of my 30s single and unable to find a suitable partner to settle down with, despite my greatest efforts at dating, I decided to go through IVF fertility treatment on my own using donor sperm.
This was not a decision I took lightly by any means, but I felt that due to my age (I’m 40 in a few months) and the fact that I was still single, I might have missed out on the opportunity to become a mother altogether if I did not embark on the journey alone. Losing the chance of experiencing motherhood was not something I wanted to consider.
Much of the IVF process is the same for everyone no matter what your circumstances, but I’ve captured a few of the things throughout the process that I have found to be slightly unique for women undergoing the treatment on their own:
Making the decision to start the treatment is probably the biggest decision you’ll ever make. It is very tempting to just keep giving yourself a bit more time to meet a partner, feeling hopeful they will be just around the corner. It can be difficult to accept that you have come to the point of pressing pause on finding a relationship and instead will pursue this alternative path. It often takes a considerable amount of time from first thinking about it, to making the final decision to start the treatment.
You have to fund your treatment privately and bear the cost on your own (the NHS can’t be expected to fund it if you don’t have fertility issues, it’s a matchmaker I needed rather than fertility treatment!)
You don’t necessarily have a specific issue with your fertility, rather just a lack of access to sperm. The issue is that whilst you have no partner to start baby making with, as each year passes, research tells us that your fertility will be in decline. This makes the decision-making process even harder as you can feel in the dark about your fertility and whether your age is impacting it and whether you should just wait or plough ahead on your own.
Choosing a clinic
Going to the clinic for the first time can be overwhelming with all the information they share with you. It’s all a new language and there is lot’s to take in. I’m sure most people feel like this, but when you’re on your own, there is no-one else to remind you what you were told during your appointment. I found I had to call the clinic for reassurance more times than I think I would have if I had a partner with me. Luckily Manchester Fertility Clinic has a great helpline you can call if you are doubting any element of the process.
When you start the treatment, you have to give yourself the injections, unless you can find a willing friend or family member to help. In a partnership, I know many women who’ve asked their partners to give them the injections, or if nothing else, at least be there with them to hold their hand and give them moral support. I was so nervous when I administered the first injection, but I found that after a few days, it had become very routine and this was no longer an issue for me.
Your support network
You may tend to share a lot more details with friends than perhaps you would otherwise. I think this is probably because you’ve not got a partner to share it with and you don’t necessarily want to be going through it completely alone. I took this to extremes and created a Whatsapp group called ‘Operation Turkey Baster’ trying to keep things light-hearted, where I kept all my friends updated at once. Other women choose to share their updates with a few close friends or family. It can be quite a lonely process as there is no-one else living through it in the same way you are. You don’t have that special someone to share any highs or lows with. You can share them with a family member or friends, but sometimes it doesn’t feel quite the same as sharing with a partner who is in it with you.
We are unique
Everyone is different and no two people’s journey and preferences are the same. For this reason, some will have had different experiences to those I have detailed above. In particular around how much information they share with others. Some of these things may also resonate with women who have gone through the IVF process with a partner. Some women feel quite alone going through the process, even though they have a partner.
I hope that by sharing this, it will give others considering on embarking on the journey of solo motherhood a small insight into what lies ahead.
You can follow Mel’s journey of solo motherhood on her Instagram, Facebook, visit her blog or send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For anyone embarking on the journey of solo motherhood, you can join The Stork and I Mum Tribe, a closed facebook group for solo mums and mums to be.
The post The nuances of going through fertility treatment as a solo mum appeared first on The Fertility Podcast.
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