‘I Started Fertility Treatment Alone And In Another Country’ The Reality Of Trying For A Baby Alone In A Pandemic

'It had been 18 months since I began this mission, now my treatment date shuffled further into the future; my 43rd birthday approached.'

Starting fertility treatment in a pandemic

by Grazia |

It is a Thursday morning in February when I learn that my second round of IVF has not worked. I message my mother, my best friend, my consultant. I clean my house, make a long and rather complex soup recipe. I do not cry. In the days that follow, I seem, in fact, hell bent on proving my invincibility: I make plans to move house, I go running, I take on more work than I can possibly manage.

‘I’m fine,’ I tell my friends, and feel faintly surprised by the bunches of flowers they send to my door, as if some great tragedy has befallen me. Eventually, I burst into tears with my therapist. Across the screen he looks faintly helpless. Failed IVF is hard in any circumstance. It is particularly hard when you’re doing it alone in a pandemic.

This isn’t how I had hoped this year might go. When Covid began rolling across Europe

I was on my way to Greece to begin my first round of fertility treatment. After many miscarriages and several terrible relationships, I’d decided to try to have a baby by myself.

But since my local health authority wouldn’t treat single women, I’d elected to seek treatment abroad (the rationale was that it’s meant to be cheaper; spoiler: it isn’t).

The first round did not work. And with all flights to the UK grounded, for close to six weeks I was marooned in Greece. When I finally returned, I began to think about trying again, this time closer to home, in London, but most of the fertility clinics were closed as the country grappled with the spread of the virus.

I had been profoundly lucky, in that my scans and hormone tests all showed that, despite my age (I was by then 42), I still had a good chance of conceiving. But as the weeks rolled on – the clinics now open but with a backlog of patients and running at half-capacity – I began to despair. It had been 18 months since I began this mission, now my treatment date shuffled further into the future; my 43rd birthday approached.

Some days, I mourn the time lost, the delays, the impossibility of support from friends – half a year has passed since I saw anyone I know (I did not form a bubble, in case Covid jeopardised IVF). Other days, I am grateful that the pandemic has granted me space to grieve and digest the failure of treatment, to rage and to weep and to find a kind of acceptance; to let the dust settle on this strange year of loss.

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