IVF –The Decision To Go It Alone
I'm 35 and single. I've recently completed 1 full IVF cycle using donor sperm and 2 frozen embryo cycles, all of which have been unsuccessful, but I haven't given up yet. When I was 27 I was rushed into the hospital in the middle of the night with severe abdominal pain. Eventually I was operated on and when I came round I was told that I'd had an ovarian abscess, a potentially fatal condition. The consultant explained that although they'd saved the infected ovary, there was a possibility I may have trouble getting pregnant so I shouldn't leave it too late.
It was only years later that I discovered it was a sexually transmitted disease and my partner at that time, who I was still living with, had been unfaithful. We split up. After a year of being single, by this time nearly 32, I met a new partner and when things got serious I explained my fears about not being able to have children and that I couldn't leave it too late.
We talked through both our situations and he assured me that he definitely wanted us to have children and was happy to do this sooner rather than later. 2 years later he changed his mind then ran away from me altogether taking his 2 children from a previous marriage, who I loved very much, with him. I felt very hurt and betrayed twice over. I knew I couldn't contemplate another relationship for a while so I decided it was time to investigate my fertility further.
I needed a laparoscopy to remove an ovarian cyst (on my "good" ovary) some endometriosis and adhesions. During this procedure the surgeon could see that my fallopian tubes were damaged enough to make natural conception just about impossible. IVF is my only feasible option for achieving a pregnancy and I also have 2 fibroids in the wall of my uterus, one of which is quite big.
Armed with this information I set about deciding whether to go it alone. I had read an article in a sunday paper years ago and knew it was something that was possible. I read a lot of books, I joined the Single Women's Insemination Group (which I found through the network), I went for counselling and after nearly a year of soul searching I decided to go ahead.
My reasons were many. I felt that my fertility situation, particularly the sense of urgency I had would put too much pressure on a new relationship for it to be successful. I didn't yet trust myself to pick a more genuine partner to spend my life with. I thought a new relationship for me would need at least 2 years before I could feel confident enough in its stability to try for a baby. I felt that if I wanted to be a parent to my own genetic offspring, then my window of opportunity was rapidly closing, whereas I could meet a new partner at any time for the whole of the rest of my life.
It hasn't been easy to come to terms with giving up the chance to have a family with someone who I want to spend the rest of my life with. However, the last thing I wanted was to go through another failed relationship and find myself in that same situation only being 37 with multiple factors affecting my fertility rather than 35.
I am very lucky in that my eggs appear to be healthy and despite the fact I have little normal tissue in either ovary, I did manage to produce a good number of healthy embryos during my IVF cycle. It is possible that my fibroids are a factor in my lack of success so far, (although I understand plenty of women to manage to become pregnant when they have fibroids) so I have decided to go ahead with a myomectomy to remove them.
I don't relish the thought of 5 days in hospital and 6 weeks off work, but I am trying to see this as an operation that I needed anyway and not part of this seemingly endless marathon of trying to get pregnant. I hope to start another IVF cycle after Christmas and while I know there are no guarantees I think I will be giving myself the best possible chance.
Jean, in Buckinghamshire