Babipurian Real Life Stories: Longing, Loss & So much Love
Planned Single Parenthood: Longing, Loss & So much Love
Coming from a large, close family I always knew I wanted a big, loud and loving family of my own. I had a few long term relationships when I was in my teens and twenties but I wasn’t thinking about having children then, I thought I had plenty of time.
I found myself single in my 30s and despite internet dating, speed dating and getting friends to set me up on blind dates I remained single. I did enjoy being part of a couple, I always thought I worked better as part of a team, but I had a great job, fantastic friends and a busy social life, and for a while I was quite happy with it just being me.
Slowly friends began coupling off and having children of their own. I loved how our friend’s group was growing and didn’t mind that our nights out and weekend festivals were being swapped for trips to the farm and playing with train sets. I enjoyed spending time with them and their kids and I’d look at their little family units with a smile thinking, I can’t wait for that to be me too.
A few years down the line and I began to think I was never going to meet the right man to start a family with, everyone kept telling me it would happen when I least expected it, that it was just a matter of time but I started to face the real possibility that I might just be one of the unlucky ones that never meets someone to share their life with.
I began to realise that although I would really have liked to find a man to fall in love, it was the children that I was most longing for, I could accept a future without a partner but I couldn’t face the thought of a future without children. I started to joke about freezing my eggs but inside I was wondering whether it was a real possibility.
One of my best friends then discovered she was going through premature ovarian failure, diagnosed after suffering a devastating miscarriage and was told she wouldn’t be able to have children.
I was suddenly faced with the real possibility that my fertility was not guaranteed. I started to worry about my own fertility and thought I should seriously look into egg freezing, but my research quickly highlighted the poor success rates when defrosting eggs.
At a similar time I discovered a colleague had just become pregnant as a single women using donor sperm. This was a lightbulb moment for me, I’d only heard of this being done in Hollywood films and didn’t think it was something ‘real’ women did.
I met with her and found out all about the process, and suddenly it seemed a real possibility.
I was 33 when I made the decision to pursue motherhood on my own.
After a few simple tests, and a consultation to determine my baseline fertility I agreed to try IUI (Intra Uterine Inception) with donor sperm.
I picked out a sperm donor from a sperm bank in Denmark, assessing each candidate available with a group of girlfriends, as if I was picking a potential life partner. This was a big decision for me, this would have a major impact on any child I conceived. Not only did I want the best genes for my child but I wanted to make sure that I’d be proud to show the details to any future children. It was important to me that the my child would know as much as possible about where they came from.
Having treatment in the UK meant I had to use an open donor. This means that although the donor is anonymous at the time of treatment, once a child turns 18 they can request further details of their donor and contact them if they wish. This was important to me as I wanted my child to have as much information about where they came from as they wanted to know.
I had my first cycle in December 2013, 6 weeks before my 35th birthday.
- For women aged under 35, about 14% of IUI cycles result in a pregnancy
- Women aged 35 to 37 get pregnant in around 12% of cycles
- The success rate for women aged 38-39 is 10%
I couldn’t wait the full two weeks and took a test just 11 days later and was incredibly lucky to find that the first cycle had worked. I was pregnant and spent the next 3 weeks in utter bliss, imagining how my belly would grow, thinking about baby names and what they might be like, would they look more like me or the donor?
I went anxiously and excitedly to the clinic for my 7 week scan only to be told the most devastating words I’d ever heard, ‘sorry there’s no heartbeat’. My baby had died just days before the scan but my body hadn’t realised. I waited a week, over my birthday, for a repeat scan to confirm, and then had medical management as my body didn’t want to miscarry. I gave birth at home on the 3rd February.
After some time off to grieve I tried again, the next two cycles resulted in positive pregnancy tests, on the same day as I started bleeding, most people wouldn’t even realise they were pregnant this early, but because I was having treatment I knew. These are often call chemical pregnancies, as they are only detected by the chemical changes on a pregnancy test and would’ve too small to be visible on a scan, but to me the moment I saw those two lines they were my babies.
I had another 9 IUI cycles over the next 3 years and suffered another 3 miscarriages, each one as devastating as the one before. Statistics suggest that 1 in 100 women suffer recurrent miscarriage.
It was hard to continue but even harder to stop. Knowing and loving those babies, even though I’d held them in my body for such a short time fuelled me to continue, but it was taking its toll. I’d spent most of the previous 4 years pregnant, preparing to be pregnant or grieving for my babies and I felt I had lost myself in the process. My arms were aching with the weight of emptiness and the longing to be a mother was overwhelming. Every pregnancy announcement, baby shower invite and children’s party was a reminder of what I was missing, pregnant mannequins in department stores seemed to mock my empty womb and I felt like everyone around me was in the parenthood club that I wasn’t allowed to join.
I decided to try 3 more IUIs and then I’d reevaluate my options.
On the second go (IUI number 14) I saw the familiar two lines emerge on the pregnancy test, I held my breath through early scans and sobbed when I saw a heartbeat. The days went by slowly as I panicked over every twinge and panicked when I didn’t get any twinges! I got through the 7, 9, and 11 week early scans and could now see baby wriggling their little limbs. The 13 week official nhs scan came and I could make out a profile, a 16 week scan showed I was having a little boy and the 20 week scan showed all his vital organs were as they should be.
The weeks went by and I started to believe I might actually get to hold this little baby in my arms. I started to get a bump and feel the flutters of his movement inside me!
On a cold and wintery day in January, two weeks earlier than his due date (and just two weeks before I turned 39) baby boy was born and safely delivered into my arms.
He’s now 42 weeks old and every day I am filled with love and wonderment.
I still feel sad for the babies I didn’t get to hold but I feel lucky to have held them within me for the short time they were here and I feel privileged that I get to love them forever.
I’ve bought baby boy many books, but importantly I have 3 books written for little children that talk about fertility treatment and donor sperm in a way that’s easy for them to understand. I believe that if you talk to donor children about their beginnings from before they can even understand what you’re saying it’ll be normal for them and they’ll ask questions as they become ready rather than it be a sudden and new concept for them when they’re older.
Baby boy is surrounded by wonderful women but I’m also aware that baby boy doesn’t have a father and I want him growing up with strong male role models, luckily he is surrounded by wonderful uncles and many of my male friends as well as an amazing grandfather.
I feel incredibly lucky. There was no guarantee that I’d eventually have a healthy baby and I know many people who do keep trying and don’t ever get to hold their own baby in their arms. I am grateful every day and hug him just a little tighter every night.
I am currently working with the charity Oscar’s Wish Foundation to improve the early pregnancy support that is available locally for those that sadly experience the loss of a baby. If you’ve found this article interesting, helpful or moving please consider donating to this project.
Every penny counts and will make a difference to a local family.
Thinking about your Fertility
If you’re thinking about your fertility get to know your body. I had been on the contraceptive pill all my adult life, I had no idea what my cycle was actually like. I stopped the pill as soon as I had made the decision to begin IUI treatment and began to pay attention to my body, learning how long my cycles were and when I ovulated. This helped me realise I actually ovulate very late in my cycle.
Next make an appointment with a fertility clinic to undertake a fertility MOT. It might be worth discussing this with your GP first as they may be able to undertake some of the tests for you depending on your situation and medical history.
Thinking about becoming a single parent?
If you can, talk to someone who has been through similar. There is a forum that discusses all things fertility, this has a section for single parenthood and I found talking to others on here in similar situations invaluable in the beginning of my journey.
You’ll need a good support network, talk to your family and friends about your plans, you’ll need them whether your treatment is successful or not.
I also talked to friends who were single parents not through choice. Despite them describing how hard it could be they all said it was totally worth it.
Suffering the loss of a baby?
Talk to people (friends, family, local support groups or online forums).
Take time to grieve, don’t rush it.
You’ll probably feel unpleasant and unwanted emotions such as jealousy and guilt, it’s ok, just accept those feelings as being part of the grieving process, they’re totally normal.
Understand that it’s ok to not be ok.
Be creative, this can be as simple as doing a jigsaw or an adult colouring book to painting or writing poetry.
Go for a walk in nature (don’t underestimate how healing this is).
Engage with local support networks. I have begun working with an amazing local Charity called Oscar’s Wish Foundation. They support families who have experienced the loss of a baby before, during or shortly after birth. Together we are improving local resources. I am channelling my love for my babies into something positive and this is helping me to honour their little lives.
Information and support
The Fertility Network UK has many great resources for anyone thinking about or experiencing fertility problems:
The Miscarriage Association is a fantastic organisation that helps those who’ve sadly lost a baby:
https://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk – They also have a Facebook page with has been really helpful to me.
Tommy’s fund research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth, and provides pregnancy health information to parents:
Huge thanks to Natasza for sharing her amazing story with our community xx