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Maggie ' Interview 10

Age at interview: 36
Age at diagnosis: 30
Brief Outline: Maggie and her husband had unexplained infertility. They went through IUI but decided to stop treatment before proceeding to IVF
Background: Maggie is a writer and marketing consultant. She lives in Ireland with her husband. Ethnic background' White British.

More about me...

Maggie and her husband had been married for a while before deciding to try for a family, just before her 30th birthday. They had been trying for about a year, before getting concerned, but read that they could not go to see their GP before two years.  They found the GP appointment frightening and frustrating as they had lots of questions that went unanswered. Initial tests did not show any obvious cause of their problem. She tried Clomid for three months, but it gave her unpleasant side effects.  She was then referred for IUI. They had three attempts, but she felt that the timing was never as precise as it might have been as her cycle had become erratic, and the clinic was closed at weekends. After their third treatment failed, they discussed their options and decided to stop treatment and not go on to IVF. They took that decision five years before the interview. They did conceive naturally after treatment stopped, but it resulted in a miscarriage. Maggie and her husband have moved to a new country and started afresh there. They were considering adoption. 

 

Maggie assumed that she could get pregnant quickly. It was not easy to ask contemporaries about...

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We’d actually been married for a while before we decided to start trying to have children together. I just, it was actually on the eve of my 29th birthday. I think there was something about the, the r-, the big 30 looming that made me think maybe we, you know, we’d always wanted kids and I, I think that gave me a little bit of a, a time pressure really. And I thought, “Well, you know, not getting any younger. We do still want children, and maybe this is the time to start trying.” I think like a lot of people we never imagined there would be any issues at all. I imagined that we would make our minds up, I would stop using contraception and I would get pregnant. And that’s how I thought it would be. I was very wrong. But that’s how I thought it would be when we initially started. 
 
We’d been trying for about a year, and friends through, throughout that year had started to get pregnant. And I think then a shadow of doubt started to creep in for both of us, for both myself and my husband. We started to wonder, you know, “Should something have happened for us?” We’d been fairly relaxed about the whole thing when we started trying. We kind of imagined it would happen fairly quickly, but we were fairly laid back about it. So I think after, when a year had been and gone and I’d turned 30, we really did start to wonder, “Surely something should have happened in a year?” Initially we did a lot of, we didn’t really speak to friends and family, we did some research on the Internet just to see how long it should take getting pregnant. We, we had no idea really. I think our, our feeling had been, certainly among our own friends and family, that people didn’t really have those kind of conversations. People would announce that they were pregnant and people wouldn’t say, “How long were you trying?” you know. There, there wasn’t that openness about, you know, this issue. So that was something we decided we would have to do and just take a look at, you know, how things were for other people. So we did a bit of research on the Internet, and we also saw that you had to have been trying for two years before you could approach your GP. 
 
 

Maggie said it was frightening when the GP told her she needed to be referred to a specialist.

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I just thought there would be something simple that we had overlooked. There wasn’t, and, and they said we needed to see a specialist. Which was very very scary. I remember at that point, I think this was the first of my bursting in to tears in doctors’ waiting rooms… " The first of many I have to say." I think the shock of it, and also it felt very serious all of a sudden. If we were seeing a specialist, a fertility specialist, then there was a problem with our fer tility.

 

Maggie and her husband had waited two years before going to see their GP. They had a lot of...

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In the UK on the NHS, you have to have been trying for two years before you can consult your GP about infertility or the kind of potential prospect of infertility. So we made an appointment with our GP, who suggested some tests to make sure that I was ovulating correctly and that my husband’s sperm count was okay. She didn’t have a huge amount of time to talk to us about this. And I guess that was something that I did find hard. Because at, we’d been trying for two years at this stage, I’d got a lot of questions to ask, my doctor didn’t have the time to answer those questions. And that was quite hard, because I went away with a huge long list of questions that I didn’t know the answers to. We had this appointment with her that raised more questions than it answered. And also I think the GP had seen us as people who were educated, you know, degree level, and she talked about things, very complex medical things that were way over our heads. She talked about levels of hormones and this thing called FSH and all of these, lutenising hormone, and all of these things that we just didn’t know what it meant. But there wasn’t the time to ask or to, to get clarification for some of these terms. So I guess flattering though it was to receive the kind of consultation in that format, I didn’t understand a lot of what she was saying, was telling me.
 
So what would you, what would you have liked to have had from that consultation?
 
I think I would have liked my doctor to be able to, to maybe just give us some information to take home with us and to digest. Both of us were sitting in that meeting room with the doctor. My husband would have had his questions, I had my questions, she was trying to convey some information to us. There was words just flying about the place and I think, you know, very few of them actually went in for any of us. In a way I think it would have been good to have something, something that, written on paper that we could take away with us and digest, certainly about what our options were and the route that we would be taking. Because we didn’t have a huge amount of, well, fortunately neither of us have ever been particularly ill, so the whole process, the kind of, you know, GPs and nurses and consultants and hospital visits was alien to us. We didn’t understand how it worked. You know, it, that was quite confusing. It sounds silly but, you know, we’d, we’d been lucky up to that point of never having to re-, to use the NHS, and we didn’t understand how it worked.
 
 

Maggie would have liked more time with the specialist to explain the options – but in a crowded...

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I think when we started out with fertility treatment I did ex-, I expected it to work. I think I just wasn’t prepared for it not working. I’d got such I guess trust and belief in the Health Service that, you know, “If there’s a problem, it can be fixed.” I, there was no expectation in me that the, the treatment wouldn’t work. That was a shock. I guess, you know, any, you know, we were brought up to believe that if there’s a problem, you know, if you have cancer, you can have chemo and you can get better. So I thought having, you know, a fertility problem it was as straightforward as having the treatment and then everything will be okay. I didn’t expect it not to be okay.
 
Did the doctors explain to you that it might not be okay?
 
We didn’t really, we, I don’t ever recall having the conversation about success rates with our fertility specialist. I think a lot of the information that I’d found about rates and percentages was on the Internet. That was where I got that kind of information. I do, I did sense us kind of being rushed a little into the next, on to the next treatment. I did feel a sense of, you know, “Right, move on, move on, move on.” And I think, yes, that was, that was tough.
 
So why do you think you felt rushed? Was that because the doctors weren’t spending enough time explaining things to you in the consultation?
 
I think I felt rushed in our appointments because there was always a waiting room full of other people in the same situation. I knew we were on a kind of, you know, there was time pressure on our fertility specialist. We would go in and the clock was ticking as soon as you sat in there. You know, he told you what he needed to tell you. I would go in with a huge long list of questions that I’d written down in advance because I knew that I would get upset. I’d get kind of a quarter down my list of questions, then, you know, you’d see him looking at his watch and it was time to be out. And that was, that was hard. I did feel like just a number. I know there can’t be that sense of, you know, h-, a huge sense of empathy from a fertility specialist. You are, you know, there’s a, they’re dealing with huge amounts of people and we’re just another couple who can’t have children. But I guess I miss that kind of sense of human, human understanding really. I remember when we were being told that IVF would be the next step for us just thinking, “Don’t you understand how hard this is for us?” and, you know, crying again. And the fertility specialist looking at me with absolute horror when I broke down in tears. I do remember that, you know. And trying to pull myself together, trying to be, you know, trying to be okay. But it was just an, it was an emotion that I felt and it needed to come out. I think it, it’s hard and I think it’s unhealthy to bottle up that emotion. It has to be let free.
 
What do you think he could have done differently?
 
I think the biggest thing that I would have liked our fertility specialist to have done differently was to give us time, to explain the options and to give us a little bit of breathing space. It felt as though once we’d seen the fertility specialist we were just going from one thing to the next to the next to the next without really any chance to reflect and without any real explanation of why that particular course of treatment was going to be useful for us. I guess the re-, it’s a standard for, you know, you try, you, it is just a standard procedure for everybody. You get the male sperm count done, you have your ovulation test, you have a laparoscopy, then its Clomid, IUI and
 

Maggie tried Clomid for three months but the mood swings, flushes, spots and weight gain were...

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I’d read about Clomid being described as hormonal hell, so I guess I was fairly prepared for this, for some adverse side effects. The consultant had been fairly honest with me as well, and had given me a big long list of the things that I could potentially expect. I guess really that’s what they have to do to make you aware of there are, you know, thing, there’s no such thing, there’s nothing without complications. So w-, the fertility drugs, Clomid I did find affected my mood swings certainly. I would find myself feeling very very angry. And I knew that it was irrational and unreasonable, but I just found myself feeling full of fury. And it, that was very very difficult. I’ve always been a fairly chilled out kind of person, and to feel this rage was really just something completely new for me and very difficult to deal with, and not pleasant for people around me either. So that, the, the mood swings were one thing. I also did gain an awful lot of weight, and I found that my skin changed as well. I’d always had a fairly good skin. Even as a teenager I’d never had a particular skin problem. And, but with Clomid I found along my jaw and on my chin I would have horrendous spots, which again really did affect my self-esteem. I was like, “God, you know, I’m moody, I’m spotty and I can’t have kids.” It felt fairly miserable. The other thing, the weight gain, and also extremely bad hot flushes as well. I would feel this kind of, this heat rising up from me. It felt like it was rising up from my stomach, and I would know that my face would be scarlet and I would be sweating. And this was in winter. And combined with the spots and the weight and the anger, it really wasn’t great. So I tried Clomid for three months. And then we went to see our fertility specialist, who said, “Okay, you know, that hasn’t worked. We’ll move on to IUI.” 

 

Maggie liked the simple, quick and low tech aspect of IUI but was uncomfortable about the feeling...

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So intrauterine insemination is basically a procedure where semen is taken away, and it can be donor’s semen if there’s a male fertility issue. But in my husband’s case he had to provide a sample, take it up to the hospital or the fertility clinic. That was washed and spun to, I think to get the optimum sperm, to kind of get the best swimmers for want of a better analogy, and then inject those back in a procedure that was fairly similar to a smear. It, there was nothing painful or uncomfortable about it really. It was just fairly straightforward. Kind of wham, bam, thank you, ma’am. It was very very simple and quick, and low-tech I think. I think I was surprised by that. I expected things to be a little bit more scientific. But it did seem fairly basic. And I think also IUI for us, it did feel very much like, you know, “Well what is it, what is different about IUI than what we’re doing naturally?” I couldn’t really see the benefit of it. But I carried on with it because I wanted a baby and I was told that this was the route that I needed to take. And I guess something about being infertile and having this label of infertile did make me question myself on so many different levels. I started to question everything, all the, all my decisions, what I knew about everything. I think because a fairly fundamental part of my life I wasn’t able to do, I started to wonder about everything. How, I started to feel inept and that did have an effect on everything that I did. It made me question my own decision-making abilities. And in a way I just, I certainly feel as though I handed over responsibility for my, for making a child over to fertility specialists. Because I clearly didn’t know how to do it. And I was like, “There you go. You get me pregnant.” And it was almost absolving myself of responsibility, of feeling unable to achieve something. So my husband’s sperm was taken off, washed and spun, and then injected back into me. I would lay down for a few minutes at the clinic, and then that was it. It was just kind of, you know, the two-week wait, which a lot of women and men will be familiar with. We had three attempts at IUI. We were recommended to have four attempts, but actually on the third one my husband needed to be away with work. And so he’d taken his sperm sample down to the clinic. It was washed and spun and then injected back into me. But I remember lying there, and this was the first time that he hadn’t been there with me, and I remember lying there on this hospital couch thinking, “If I get pregnant now, my husband wouldn’t have even been in the same room.” And that really was a wake-up call for me. I think this, this would have been about three or four years into, or four years into making the decision to start trying to have children. And I remember thinking this was so far removed from the kind of rosy-tinted notion of making a baby that I’d had. And I decided then to put a stop to fertility treatment. I decided not to have IVF, and to, to leave it there and to try and regain some kind of control of my life, our life.

 

Looking back, Maggie wondered whether her clinic had been as scientific as they could have been...

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So I tried Clomid for three months. And then we went to see our fertility specialist, who said, “Okay, you know, that hasn’t worked. We’ll move on to IUI.” 
 
I asked him then what would happen after IUI if that wasn’t successful, and he said, “IVF.” Again burst in, into tears because it just, I felt, it felt really relentless, it felt we were on a kind of treadmill. Things didn’t seem to be working. I guess a lot of the time I felt rushed into making decisions as well. And I guess I didn’t really think about what we were doing. I just, just carried on because I was desperate to have a baby. And I think once we’d started fertility treatment as well, it felt as though the clock was ticking. We had three goes of this, and then we moved on to three goes of that and then three goes of that, and it just felt like this churn. It did feel like a churn for us. So we, we went along, we had, IUI was the next step for us. IUI is intrauterine insemination. And I think there are various different ways that you can do this. The, the route that our fertility specialist used was a fairly, a fairly simple process. I think there can be methods where people, you know, monitor body temperature and that kind of thing and hormone levels to make sure that the procedure is done at the correct time. But at the clinic where I went to they would base the date of the procedure on the date of your last period. So my cycle had become fairly erratic as well, and I think m-, probably linked to the fertility drugs, I found it difficult to predict, you know, how long my cycle was going to be. So I’m not sure how scientific the timing of IUI was for us. And with IUI timing is crucial. So that was something that I think was at the back of my mind. I remember one time the, the optimum day would have fallen on a Saturday, but our clinic didn’t work on a Saturday, so we did it on Monday. And I knew, you know, that this wasn’t the right thing to do and that the chances of it working were fairly slim. Because, you know, an egg only lives for a certain amount of time, or is only fertilisable for a certain amount of time. So there was that feeling at the back of my mind. And of course it didn’t work. So we had three attempt at IUI. 
 
 

Maggie conceived naturally. But she miscarried, an experience she and her husband found devastating.

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Not long after we decided to put an end to fertility treatment I did find out that I’d got pregnant naturally. And as you can imagine I was just so delighted. It was, I re-, I couldn’t believe it. I remember taking a photograph of the pregnancy test and looking at, up there on the camera thinking, “Oh, the camera never lies.” It was so hard to get my head round the fact that just literally months, weeks after stopping fertility treatment I’d got pregnant. I think I never imagined that life would be so cruel as to let me miscarry that baby. I’d told my friends and my family when I, it was still very early days. And I just, I really wasn’t prepared to have a miscarriage. It was, I, I’m not sure you ever could be. But I guess I just thought, “I’ve had my share of traumas. Now it’s my time to be happy.” And we were absolutely delighted. But sadly that pregnancy wasn’t to be. 
 
We’d actually, I’d actually noticed, one day I’d, I hadn’t felt very well, I felt quite, very very tired and just ill. It was hard to put my finger on how I felt, but I, I just felt generally unwell. And I noticed there was a kind of discharge, a kind of brownish discharge. And I remember phoning NHS Direct and asking them about this, you know, “Was it anything to be concerned about?” And they said, you know, “Keep an eye. You know, if, if it gets worse then of course see your GP. But the thing that you need to worry about is blood. If you see fresh red blood then, you know, do start to worry kind of thing and seek advice.” So we’d arranged to go out for a meal with some friends that evening. And I thought rather than sitting in and brooding about what this could or couldn’t be that I would carry on and go out for that meal. I went to the loo and there was blood. And I was just, I didn’t know what to do. I, there, it, there wasn’t much blood, but it was blood and it was very very bright. So I kind of went and sat back at the table, I tried to carry on as normal. But then I thought, “Right, one more check, then I’m going to relax and enjoy the evening.” I went back to the loo and then there was quite a lot of blood.
 
So we had to go to hospital. We decided that that would be the best thing to do. It was the weekend, our GP would have been shut, and I needed some kind of reassurance. We went to a fairly small hospital close to where we’d been, just to get there quickly, and, but they didn’t have a maternity unit there, which was where I needed to be. So I ended up having to be transferred via ambulance to another hospital. And that did feel very traumatic. I remember lying there thinking you know, kind of hurtling through the streets, and it started to feel very very serious. For, not for the first time I began to cry. And I remember a nurse saying to me, “Why are you crying?” And I just thought, “God, you know, because I’m about to have a miscarriage. Why do you think I’m crying?” And there was such a lack of understanding about, you know, what I was going through. My husband had to follow the ambulance in the car. So it, it did start to feel very very dramatic. It was like something you see on the TV and, you know, I just wasn’t prepared for this at all. We got to the next hospital and this, at this stage it was kind of the middle of the night, because we’d been waiting in Casualty at the first hospital for a good while, with blood kind of, you know, a fair amount of blood. And I remember sitting in these waiting rooms on these plastic seats thinking, “Oh, God, I’m going to have to stand up and there’s going to be all blood on the seat.” And my husband actually asked them, “Could we be moved to a private room to wait?” And they were, they were ve-, they, they did accommodate us with that. Which was good. And I remember kind of, you know, standing up and my husband giving me his jacket to tie round. And I didn’t look back at the seat, because I knew it was covered in blood. I thought, “Well, I can’t deal with that now.”
 
So we went to the second hospital. They examined me. The bleeding at this stage had kind of abated a good bit. And they said that because my cervix was still closed that that was actually a good sign and that it could have just been a scare. They said it, by this time it was the middle of the night and they said, “You, you may as well stay here now, you know, stay in overnight, and just go home in the morning.” We were really really lucky because there was actually a hospital bed in a little private room, and it had a chair, a reclining chair, so my husband could sleep there for the night. I got in the bed. And we did, we did actually sleep really well surprisingly. We slept, got up the next morning, there was not much blood. We had to be, I had to be checked by a GP, a doctor before I could then be discharged. And they checked me. Everything was fine. They said, “You can go home.” I got up to go to the loo and then there was this horrible rush. I’d never experienced anything like it. Just, the baby just came away, or what was there. And I remember ringing the emergency bell in the toilet and a nurse coming through and she said, “God, didn’t we tell you last night you’re supposed to use a bedpan if you go to the loo?” And I remember standing there looking down into the toilet, thinking, “That is my baby. That’s like four years to get to this stage. And you’re upbraiding me for, you know, ignoring hospital protocol.” And I remember just being devastated. And I really snapped back, “Well, you know, it was my baby. If you want, I’ll get it.” And I think then she realised, you know, how close to the edge I was, because I did really snap. And then I went home. And that was it.
 

Maggie made the very difficult decision not to have IVF treatment. She and her husband felt they...

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Making the decision to stop fertility treatment was a very very difficult one. We both really really wanted to have children. And I know that if we’d have had IVF, maybe there was a baby waiting for us at the end of it there. I think the difficult thing was there were no guarantees any more. I’d kind of imagined that once we’d been, had this meeting with the fertility specialist that he could almost wave some kind of magic wand. But I think because we’d tried fertility drugs and they hadn’t worked, we’d tried IUI and that hadn’t worked, there was no guarantee that IVF was going to work for us either. I think I’d, I’d started to realise the cost of having a baby to us on a kind of emotional and personal level, and for me physically as well. The drugs had taken their toll on me. I felt like a different person. And I really wanted to regain that sense of myself and, you know, the relationship that we’d had. It was very very, it was a hugely difficult decision to make because we did still want, badly want to have children. And I think that had been the thing that had kept me going through all of the, the fertility treatment, this kind of, a sense of, “Is this the only way I’m going to have a child?” And the fear of getting off the treatment roller coaster, because maybe there was a baby waiting at the end of it, that was very very scary. But I think we got to the stage where we thought, “Right, okay, we’ve been diagnosed with infer-, unexplained infertility. The treatment isn’t working. If we want, we can either carry on with this forever.” And, where do you stop? I mean you could have ten, twenty attempts at IVF and no one, people will just carry on taking your money. “And did we carry on like that until I hit the menopause?” Or did we say, “Okay, we’re going to carry, we’re, we’re going to put a line in the sand”? We were sick of hearing ourselves, kind of this self-pitying that had crept into our, the tone of all of our conversations. And we decided, “Right, we’re going to do, we’re going to take back control of this huge area of our lives, and move on and heal from this thing.” So that’s what we did.
 
How long ago was that? How many years ago was that decision?
 
It, it’s about five years since we made the decision to stop trying for a family. And the irony I guess is that not long after we stopped fertility treatment, I did get pregnant. I conceived naturally, but then sadly went on to lose the baby. I guess the sense of irony about that was just as we said, “Right, okay, we’re going to heal from not having children” this, the miscarriage actually gave me hope again. Because I was thinking, “Well, I’ve got pregnant.” 
 
It took me a while to get back to this place where I was, you know, being, managing my expectations about having a child.
 
And have you questioned that decision in the years since then?
 
It’s funny actually, I never really questioned the decision that I made not to have IVF. I, you do hear, of course IVF does work for some people, but you do hear of so many couples for whom IVF doesn’t work, and also of the huge financial, emotional toll, toll that it has. And also the effect on their relationship. I actually did read a book not long after we’d made the decision about a woman whose marriage broke down under the stress of IVF. And I really didn’t want that to happen to us. First and foremost I wanted to be married to my husband. The, a baby would have been the icing on that particular cake, but I wanted to get back to kind of seeing our relationship as a cake in itself.
 
 

Maggie was “fairly OK” about not having children and when people ask her if she has children, she...

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I still, I do feel fairly okay about it. I, I know some people refer to themselves as childfree, rather than childless. I don’t think I’ll be saying that for a good while. And I do still want to have children. I don’t think that will ever leave me. I think, you know, while I have a breath in my body I’ll still, I would still want to have a child. But generally I feel okay about it. And also I don’t really feel the need to apply a label to myself now. G-, people do ask you, especially in Ireland, “Oh, any family?” Just random people that you meet in a shop or at the bus stop or something, people will ask that question. And I actually, I used to find that a very very difficult question to answer. But now I just say, “Sadly, no, I don’t have children.” And I think that conveys everything that I need to say, without having to go into a huge long explanation to a stranger about why at this age I don’t have children. And that feels a more positive way of dealing with it.
 
But did it knock your self-image quite a lot sort of when you were first starting treatment and first getting this label?
 
I did feel very, I think for, certainly for women and also for men, I know from my husband’s perspective, a lot of our image is around this kind of fertility. You would see, you know, people having three or four kids and, you know, this kind of earth mother thing, this yummy mummy thing came in. And it was very much, you know, people, film stars and pop stars didn’t used to have children, you know, they would d-, devote their life to their kind of art. And then all of a sudden it became very fashionable to have a huge family. And I did start to feel very kind of as though my sense of being a woman was questioned. You know, “Isn’t that, isn’t that what women are here for? Do women not just have babies?” And that felt, did feel quite difficult to deal with.
 
 

Maggie wished that she hadn’t told friends about her fertility treatment. She received unwelcome...

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I think there’s a lot to be said for not telling people that you’re going through fertility treatment. We, we were fairly circumspect initially and we kept it very much to ourselves. But when we did start to tell people you would get advice, much of it, you know, kind of fairly unwelcome, and from people with three kids. And you would be like, “Well, what do you know? You, you haven’t been where I am now.” I would have a friend who would say, you know, “Well, I’d definitely go for IVF.” And I would say, “Yes, but you haven’t had to. You don’t know what it’s like for me. You don’t know the reasons that I’m choosing not to go down that route.” I think also when you tell people, there’s this kind of sense of people saying, “Any news?” And it would be like, “Well, if I was pregnant I would tell you.” And that was tough. And I think also then sympathy does have a shelf life as well. That was something that I came across with friends. You know, it’s seven years now that we’ve been trying for children, and you do have to get to a stage where you, you stop talking about it because I’m bored of hearing about it and, you know, I can’t expect my friends to be endlessly patient about the whole, the whole situation.
 
Did you feel very isolated? Was it sort of the experiences that you were going through that your friends had no understanding of?
 
It can, the whole process of infertility can be very very isolating. I have friends who’ve chosen not to have children, and I have friends who have chosen to have children, who have had three or four children. The thing was, I felt as though I, I couldn’t really relate to either camp. My friends who had chosen not to have kids, their experience was very different to mine. 
 
 

Maggie felt very isolated from friends who had children, and also from those who had successful...

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It was very isolating not having children. I did feel that I had less and less in common with friends who had children. Things like sleepless nights and stretch marks and, you know, teething troubles and all of these kind of things that I just, I had no concept of, I couldn’t relate to. And I think my friends also kind of cottoned on to the fact that I wasn’t the appropriate person to kind of download their fears and gripes and concerns to. Equally, friends who’d chosen not to have children, I didn’t really have a huge amount in common with them either, because our ex-, although we were all childless, our experiences were different. They’d made a conscious decision to do that. It was also difficult associating with friends who were having fertility problems. Because then, the vast majority of my friends who had fertility treatment did then get pregnant. So I would find that we’d have gone through the whole thing together, you know, we’d go for treatment together, they got pregnant and they, they’d move into the camp then of people with kids. And then we were just kind of left like. 
 
So we kind, we fell between the camps really. Once friends had been successful with fertility treatment as well, then they moved into the, the kind of people with kids group. And we did feel very isolated and left behind. I think also friends assumed that because we didn’t have children that we were still up for the big nights out, the restaurants, the theatres and that kind of thing, and that we wouldn’t be interested in doing kind of family-led things with them. When really we would have loved to have done that because we, we wanted, we wanted to have relationships with kids and to have that closeness, not be the kind of, you know, mad partying auntie and uncle kind of out on the periphery. So that was very very difficult.
 
 

Maggie found the Internet a hugely useful source of information, but warned that it is easy to...

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I found the Internet a hugely useful source of information. I would, it was quite funny though because I would quite often be at work looking up these fertility websites and there’d be quite complicated drawings of the female reproductive system and I, someone would come into my office and I’d be like, quick, minimise it. So that was quite interesting, you know, for me that was a really useful, a useful source, and also sometimes a scary source. There’s a lot of information on the Internet that isn’t corroborated. You know, you, anybody can put something on the Internet. I think it’s really important to find out a, a respected source of information on the Internet. You can terrify yourself looking at various different websites. You can self-diagnose as well, which I think can potentially be quite a dangerous thing to do. And so I think my advice would be, “Look at, for a decent website with information that you can trust.”

 

Maggie volunteers for an infertility support group, which she has found helpful in coming to...

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I think volunteering for an infertility support group has been re-, was really really helpful for me in terms of, just about coming to terms with the whole issue. I, I think until I’d dealt with the issue and kind of got used to the idea of us not having children, I wouldn’t have been particularly useful for the support group until that point. I needed to be okay with it myself, because I think otherwise I would have been dredging up unresolved feelings in myself. When really, you know, the, the whole idea of being at the other end of a support telephone line is to be empathetic to the person that you’re speaking to, rather than saying, “Oh, my God, it was exactly the same for me.” That really isn’t appropriate. It’s, you’re kind of using your experiences and your knowledge of the feelings that you had to help that person come to the same situation that you’re into.

 

Maggie and her partner are comfortable talking to each other about their feelings and so did not feel the need for counselling. But perhaps it could have helped.

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We didn’t go down the counselling route throughout our fertility journey. It was something that wasn’t particularly offered to us either. I guess we did a lot of soul-searching ourselves. I’m fairly lucky in that my husband and myself have a really open relationship and we do feel fairly comfortable about talking about really really deep and quite dark sometimes feelings. We did, so in a way I think we would have benefited from some kind of therapy just to deal with some of the issues that it raised about us. I remember having a huge kind of existential moment about the whole thing, thinking, “What is the point of me? If I can’t have children, why am I even on this planet? You know, I would love my...” You, people’s cats would be pregnant, you’d see dogs having puppies, people seemed to be having babies left, right and centre. And I just wondered, “Why am I even here? If the whole point of the species is to kind of recreate itself, then I should have been, you know, kind of faded out.” And that was very very difficult to deal with that, you know, “What is the point of me? If I can’t have children, why am I here?” That was very tough to deal with, very very tough. And I’m not even sure I know the answer to that yet.

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