When are you going to have a baby?
It’s a seemingly innocent question on the surface.
But to the woman who is struggling to conceive it’s like a thousand daggers to the heart.
It’s the question we self-isolate, voluntarily, to avoid getting asked.
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10 years ago, while on our honeymoon, my husband and I decided it was time to start a family. I’m your typical Type A personality, so I had it planned out perfectly. What I hadn’t planned on was it taking seven years to complete.
After six months of negative pregnancy tests, we sought out help and were referred to a fertility specialist. We did all the tests and apart from my age (I was 33 at the time) and my husband’s sperm being a little sub-optimal, there was no reason for us not falling pregnant. So, we jumped on the IVF train, once again hopeful that this would be our solution.
During that time, we were asked by well-meaning relatives and friends, “When are you going to have a baby?” The question was a little frustrating, but not too hard to handle.
“We have a few things we’d like to do first,” we’d respond. Telling people we were already trying wasn’t an option – I was an overachiever, so admitting I couldn’t fall pregnant felt embarrassing. So, we lied.
On our first IVF cycle, they discovered that I had a non-existent endometrium. Which basically means I didn’t have a lining on my uterus for the embryo to stick to, so there was no point in completing the cycle.
For the next six months we floated looking for the magic cure to thicken my lining – different exploratory surgeries, homeopaths, acupuncture, diets, supplements and Viagra pessaries (yep!) We tried the lot.
During that time, we were again asked by friends and colleagues, “When are you going to start a family?” It stung a little, especially given the fact that we didn’t have an answer or a path forward.
“We’re really focusing on our careers at the moment,” we’d respond. It was starting to bother us.
A year into our fertility journey, our specialist pulled us aside and told us that the only real hope for us to have a baby of our own was through a surrogacy arrangement. Being a control freak by nature, the thought of handing over such a huge responsibility to another woman sent me into a tail spin. This was not how I had pictured it.