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Mary ' Interview 06

Age at interview: 42
Age at diagnosis: 30
Brief Outline: Mary conceived her daughter and twin boys through IVF.
Background: Mary is married with three children. Ethnic background' White British.

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Mary was in her late twenties and had been married for about 3 years when she started to thinking about a family. She had polycystic ovaries and her husband a low sperm count, so they were keen to start IVF. Two years after first starting to try for a baby, they embarked on their first cycle of IVF. They were successful first time, but Mary still found it a very stressful and emotionally draining experience.  She did not like doing the injections and egg collection, and found waiting for the results of whether the cycle had been successful or not very hard.  She was then very anxious throughout her pregnancy, and was encouraged to give up her job as a city lawyer early to be able to concentrate on the pregnancy. She had several bleeds but ultimately her daughter was born healthy. She subsequently had another fresh IVF cycle to conceive her twin boys.

 

Mary was a corporate lawyer and so anxious during her pregnancy that her law firm sent her home...

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It was really dreadful. I was very lucky that I had had an amazing boss at work who had been very supportive. I had to tell him at this stage where I had to take time off for this, that and the other. And he was fantastic. He just said, “Whatever time you need, just take it, take it in the middle huge trials and everything.” He was fantastic. But I went back to work, whereupon I started having bleeds and fainted outside the office. We had three ambulances came, I was collapsed in the foyer, they had brought me in off the street. And then I had huge bleed when I was in the High Court. I rushed around and tried to get a Court Order or something out and rushed back to the office. Anyway and then I had a huge bleed and I had to go straight to the clinic, where they scanned and said, “The baby is still there, the baby is still there.” I think that was about, I must have been about two weeks, two weeks or three weeks then and then I just kept having bleeds for the whole time. And they were very good at the clinic because although you normally … it was a private clinic and you had to pay for scans, they waived that and they scanned me every week free of charge, just so I would know, but I did have about, in the first twelve weeks I had about five bleeds or so, or even more. And you can imagine I was like, beyond hysterical. And when I think after the big bleed my boss called me in and said, “There is nothing more important than bringing this child into the world. You are to go home. We will pay you your full salary but you have got to go home for this pregnancy because I can’t send you off to the High Court and worrying about you when you are off and out.” So I stopped work, which I think was… well physically I was very, very drained. Physically I was weak. I had had the whole IVF thing, all the emotional trauma and it was probably the right decision but emotionally it was very, very difficult then because I was entirely focused on this pregnancy and I kept thinking this is my one chance. If I screw this up, this is one my chance. And everything is resting on it. And so then I became paralysed with fear and didn’t do… I didn’t move and watched Richard and Judy virtually the entire eight months and I was so frightened and I did have bleeds and scares and the whole time and even at five months I was being rushed to hospital with cramps and pains. So it was an ordeal all the way through really.
 
Until your daughter was born?
 
Yes and then she was premature, five weeks premature and small for dates and so that was … no barrel of laughs at any time, but I was very, you know, and you kind of think that you are going to be elated and I put so much and wanted this so much and then, but I was in a way too exhausted and traumatised I think by the whole to be elated. And then I just found it quite difficult to cope. And you feel so guilty, because I thought well l wanted this, and I have gone for this, and I have got, and I have been very lucky because it has worked first time and that is amazing, amazing luck and then why is it such hard going, why do I just want time to myself now [laughs].
 
 

Mary felt her IVF treatment had coloured the way she parented her three children. She was just so...

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I think it, for me it has definitely coloured my experience of parenting I think. Because I think, all the way through, certainly with my first, I was thinking I will never have, as long as they are healthy as well, hopefully I will never, it doesn’t matter what they look like, it doesn’t matter how clever they are. It doesn’t matter this, as long as I, I promise to God I will just accept and love whatever it is that I am given and of course then, later, if then you are desperate for your child too to get into this school or be pretty or not be, put on weight. Or whatever it is, all these pressure, tha … not any mother, but round these parts, a mother puts on their child and you feel terribly, terribly guilty. It is like you have reneged on the deal with God that you know, you have got, you know, I said I would be loving and accepting and here I am shouting at them, wanting them to be different, so I think it has affected my experience of parenting. Because I feel very guilty about things that perhaps people who conceive naturally don’t feel guilty about, because they don’t feel they have been given this kind of…. I mean there is so many people out there who just, and I know there are so many people out there who are desperate for a child, who probably you know if they are listening to this, will think what a silly bitch, you know, how can you… you should be just grateful. But I think it is that mixture of gratitude and guilt and desire, all mixed into one, so I do think it does have an impact on your parenting, definitely. 

 
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Mary kept her treatment secret to protect herself. She hated the idea of being 'pitied' and didn...

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For a long time we kept it just to ourselves, because my mother bless her is a very, I knew that she would get very busy, as soon as I start… you know interfere and all this and I would have every article on everything coming through my door and I just wanted to protect myself from that. But we did tell them, I can’t remember when, I can’t remember exactly when. But probably after about a year. We didn’t really tell many people, friends, didn’t tell friends. In fact I know that when my friend rang up to tell me that she was pregnant, and she said that she knew by the over excited way I said congratulations, but I hadn’t told her, and her daughter is only five months older than my daughter. So it was quite late in the day, but I did tell one guy at work who also was having similar problems who was adopting at that time. And yes, who I was working with at that time. But he was the only one.
 
You wanted to keep it secret or …?
 
I just… I just hated the idea of being pitied. I hate pity. I think pity, really is, it is disempowering to be pitied and I didn’t, just I hated the idea of being pitied because I had seen some of those failing or not getting what they wanted. Whichever way there didn’t seem to be any benefit in telling people or ….
 
Did you feel like you were failing?
 
Yes. Because I wanted something and I wasn’t … I was going after, pursuing a goal and not achieving it. It seemed a spectacularly… not achieving it. So yes I did. I did feel a big failure and I felt so guilty. And I also didn’t want people to feel that they couldn’t tell me they were pregnant. To make people feel guilty as well, there didn’t seem to be any benefit at all.
 
 

Mary felt that as soon as she and her husband started trying for a baby, everyone around them was...

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But it was just, you know, as soon as I found I started trying, everybody was pregnant. The whole world and his husband, her husband were pregnant. All the secretaries in the office, you know especially the nineteen years old seem to be at the drop of the hat. And you would have to go “ooh lovely.” And all your friends and that I found… that is kind of … I was horrifically jealous, puce with jealousy. Eaten up inside, bitter, twisted, angry, couldn’t look at a man with a beer belly without getting upset and basically quite hysterical about the whole thing. And I laugh now but it was extremely painful because I just felt so helpless and powerless and yet powerless is not fun and I found the worse thing, the reason we didn’t tell many people, was that the people you do tell, tend to pity you and I find being pitied actually the most disempowering thing of all. So there is a physical kind of stuff that you are going through which is a bore and a drain and you know, having to rush out of work and get a scan and what have you. But it was, for me, it was more the emotional and sociological impact of it that made me suffer the most.

 

Mary’s work as a lawyer was difficult because she had frequent bleeding through her pregnancy.

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And what was the next twelve weeks, must have been quite an anxious time.
 
It was really dreadful. I was very lucky that I had had an amazing boss at work who had been very supportive. I had to tell him at this stage where I had to take time off for this, that and the other. And he was fantastic. He just said, “Whatever time you need, just take it, take it in the middle huge trials and everything.” He was fantastic. But I went back to work, whereupon I started having bleeds and fainted outside the office. We had three ambulances came, I was collapsed in the foyer, they had brought me in off the street. And then I had huge bleed when I was in the High Court. I rushed around and tried to get a Court Order or something out and rushed back to the office. Anyway and then I had a huge bleed and I had to go straight to the clinic, where they scanned and said, “The baby is still there, the baby is still there.” I think that was about, I must have been about two weeks, two weeks or three weeks then and then I just kept having bleeds for the whole time. And they were very good at the clinic because although you normally… it was a private clinic and you had to pay for scans, they waived that and they scanned me every week free of charge, just so I would know, but I did have about, in the first twelve weeks I had about five bleeds or so, or even more. And you can imagine I was like, beyond hysterical. And when I think after the big bleed my boss called me in and said, “There is nothing more important than bringing this child into the world. You are to go home. We will pay you your full salary but you have got to go home for this pregnancy because I can’t send you off to the High Court and worrying about you when you are off and out.” So I stopped work, which I think was… well physically I was very, very drained. Physically I was weak. I had had the whole IVF thing, all the emotional trauma and it was probably the right decision but emotionally it was very, very difficult then because I was entirely focused on this pregnancy and I kept thinking this is my one chance. If I screw this up, this is one my chance. And everything is resting on it. And so then I became paralysed with fear and didn’t do … I didn’t move and watched Richard and Judy virtually the entire eight months and I was so frightened and I did have bleeds and scares and the whole time and even at five months I was being rushed to hospital with cramps and pains. So it was an ordeal all the way through really.
 
 

Mary’s marriage was based on making each other laugh. The laughter went for a time and that was...

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We were very, very lucky that we have a very strong marriage and I think the hardest thing for us, our marriage is very much based, we used to make each other laugh and have lots and lots of laughter I think. But at that time the laughter went and that was very sad I think for both of us. That he found it… he is younger than me, so he was nearly 26 when we… it is quite young to have all that kind of going on. He is a very strong person and he is very supportive and loving. It is very, very hard sometimes. Especially come back and we have got to make love now. And then, there was one occasion, when he couldn’t rise to the occasion because of all that pressure and I was hysterical and crying and you know that was a bad thing. But generally we pulled together and he was very strong for me and I was very aware that the most important thing was always us, and I tried very hard to keep him from the worst excesses of my, you know, anxiety. So, we did try I think to protect each other a bit and he was very good throughout, but it was a big… I can see if people don’t have the strongest marriage in the world it could tear it apart, it really could.
 
And it sounds like it affected your sex life a bit as well?
 
Yes, yes, well yes. Like most people it is because it is no longer, it’s a purpose other than pleasure. So, yes. It did. It was just, in a way, I thought well what is the point of making love unless it is at the right time. You know, it is pointless and not all the time though, I do think that it was comforting at some points. But generally, certainly if there was any kind of, you know, if it was anywhere near the right time then there became a huge amount of pressure.
 
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