This is a PSA to approach conversations about having children with others sensitively and with an open mind, and try not to make assumptions.
Not all women are broody.
Some women don’t want children.
Some women have partners who don’t want children.
Some women can’t have children.
Some women can’t relax and let it happen naturally.
Some women have lost children.
I am usually pretty open online about my life and my health. I’ve posted about my experiences of depression for example (and in case you didn’t know it’s Mental Health Awareness Week). But there’s something I haven’t posted about and that is changing today because I think it may be helpful to others (and myself) to talk about it. Also, as an occupational therapist the route to becoming a mother (an occupational role) is an important topic to consider, and one I now think should be explored more with people as part of health wellbeing and lifestyle screening.
If you are a regular reader of this blog you may be aware that I am turning 40 this year. I am also still single. And I am and have been broody for a number of years. In fact the issue has always come up when I’ve been for counselling. When I was younger I always imagined I’d be married with a couple of children by the age of 21. Clearly that didn’t happen. Now we hear of women who are having babies well into their 40s/50s and even 60s so many people are leaving it later. For career reasons, for financial reasons or simply because the nature of how we enter into or stay in relationships seems to have changed. It’s not as easy as the media makes it seem though and that’s why I have decided to share.
A few years back I considered looking at freezing my eggs, I even asked a GP about it but was told that obviously it would have to be done privately and I didn’t know where to start and didn’t take it further.
A number of things have happened over the last year, to me and other people, that have made me decide to act. I decided that I first needed to have an assessment of my fertility status because having not been trying to get pregnant I simply don’t know if I can.
Now although the NHS does help people with fertility there are a number of conditions that have to be met including having been trying for a certain amount of time without success, weight limits, previous children by either partner etc. Also the amount of cycles you can have is dependent on area.
Just a note about the weight limit. It seems that you don’t even get referred for assessment until you’ve lost weight which to me makes assumptions that weight is the only issue that can affect fertility (not the case) and may have an impact on timeliness of accessing treatment.
So basically I decided to look at this privately. And I can tell you this isn’t a cheap process by any means and involves scans and blood tests and depending on the results of these possibly more investigations.
Now despite what we are led to believe age is a limiting factor in having children. Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have and over time the quantity and quality of eggs diminishes. Supposedly this dips rapidly after the age of 35 but may affect people younger. Being aware of the age your mother went through the menopause (yet another thing we don’t talk enough about) may be a useful indicator for you.
So my results came back and my AMH – measure of ovarian reserve (which looks at egg quality/quantity) was 0.4 which is very low. My scan indicated I had ovulated that month and that I don’t seem to have any endometriosis or other internal problems. But my age and AMH only give me a 12% chance of getting pregnant via IVF with my own eggs.
Ironically the first IVF ‘test tube’ baby was born in 1978 – 40 years ago.
IVF stands for In Vitro Fertilisation where basically a woman’s eggs and a man’s sperm are introduced outside the body in a clinical environment and the fastest sperm hopefully wriggles in and fertilises the egg (just like in Look Who’s Talking 😂). Then things need to happen. Cells need to divide etc and if they do so correctly then the resulting embryo is reintroduced into the woman’s body to hopefully implant.
As a single lady I obviously have the complication of not having access to half of the process but thankfully nowadays there are sperm and even egg donors. You can literally add sperm to an online shopping cart. It’s surreal and I’ll talk about that process another time.
For now my role in the process is the following: –
Losing weight and eating healthier so that I:
Increase my chances of getting pregnant
Increase my chances of staying pregnant (I don’t think I ever realised how common miscarriage is. Obviously when getting pregnant naturally this can happen without people knowing but with IVF you can know the exact date of conception and are monitored earlier).
Decrease the likelihood of complications
Reviewing my health and the medications I am on and reducing/coming off or switching medication to safer forms. This should be a process that you explore with your GP and one that looks at balancing risks to the health of the mother and the embryo.
Trying to manage stress and be as relaxed as I can be through what is inherently a stressful and emotional process.
Be patient and wait for my next period – usually the thing you don’t want to have.
Self inject with drugs to stop natural ovulation and hormones to stimulate the growth of follicles from which hopefully eggs can be harvested.
Go for regular scans and blood tests and be prepared for things to change the whole way through.
Go for egg collection and have a general anaesthetic.
Try to coordinate all of this alongside working.
This post is long enough now so to conclude I will just say that I will be starting this process soon and I will post updates when I can. Although I think it will be helpful to write about it I will also need to safeguard my own mental health and may find that there are times when I can’t write or post about the process or may delay publishing posts.
I have some topics I want to write about but if there are any particular topics that people want me to discuss then let me know and I will do so as well as I am able but with the proviso that this only reflects my particular experience and that we are all very different.
Take care all and as I am learning if there is something you want to do look into it sooner rather than later.