Claudia Connell was single, in her early 40s and, like many women in similar situations, worried about the tick, tick, tick of her biological clock and the time she had left to become a mother.
Connell didn’t want to be the woman who regretted not having a child when it was too late to do anything about it. She didn’t have time to meet a man, fall in love and decided to have a baby. And so she had to act on her own.
Enlisting the help of clinics in the Greek city of Athens, Connell underwent three rounds of IVF. Her chances of getting pregnant using her own eggs weren’t great – only around 2.9 per cent – so she opted to use the eggs and sperm of various donors from around the world.
Connell recently wrote about her struggles in an article for the UK’s Guardian called ‘I wasted £30,000 trying to have a baby I didn’t want’.
Understandably, the article is now being shared on the internet like a viral video of a cat playing the piano. In other words: a LOT.
As many women do when they approach their late 30s, I began to ponder the baby issue. I’d just read Baby Hunger by Sylvia Ann Hewlett, in which she made a strong case for the fact that today’s “have it all” woman was facing the prospect of a very lonely and unfulfilled middle age. She hammered home the point with some alarming statistics: nearly half of high-achieving women were childless in America at the age of 40, most of them bitterly regretting leaving it so late.
And it’s at this point that waiting for a baby daddy to waltz into a woman’s life isn’t always possible.
Because of a sperm shortage in the UK, Connell decided to travel to Athens for treatment. (This is an option that’s becoming increasingly popular for single people and couples using reproductive therapies because laws are much less restrictive).
Over a period of four years, Claudia Connell spent thousands of dollars on drugs, having fibroids (benign tumors the grow in the uterus) removed and on the actual embryo transfers.
She put on weight from steroid treatment and had to take out a loan to pay for some of the treatment. And all the while, she wasn’t entirely convinced she was doing the right thing.
After two cycles I decided I’d had a fair crack at it and would move on. Far from feeling sad and unfulfilled, I felt happy, content and at peace with my life as a childless singleton.
I wish I could tell you why, aged 44, I decided to have one last roll of the dice and attempt another cycle of IVF. Was it because I had secured a good job and was earning a lot of money? Was it because I had always regarded 45 as the cut-off and I was nudging dangerously close to it? Perhaps it’s because I read somewhere that the majority of women having IVF will be successful after three cycles.
Connell went through the third round despite her reservations. And when she thought she might be pregnant in the weeks following, she began searching the internet for the nearest abortion clinics. A pregnancy test confirmed what Connell had been fearing, but luckily – for her – the pregnancy didn’t stick.
Today, I am happy being childless. I like my life without children and I know that I would not have been a good mother. My body still suffers from the effects of the IVF.
Perhaps I needed to go through the emotional journey of IVF in order to discover that I don’t want children after all. But as I am now stone broke, I can’t help feeling it was a very expensive, foolish and miserable way to find out.
You can read Claudia Connell’s full piece here.
We’re keen to know your thoughts on this. Do you think society places too much pressure on women to lead them to think you can’t be happy unless you have children? Do you think more women need to speak out and say they’re happy not having kids?