Wednesday, 24 November 2010


When I got home from London on Monday evening, I had a long wallow in a hot bath. It had been a long and stressful day, and I was freaked out by being told that I wasn't having a 'proper' period. I was also concerned that yet again, it looked as though I didn't have any more than one follicle ready to grow.

I can't keep doing this month after month - I don't want to keep getting my hopes up and then having them dashed, and every month is another month closer to the inevitable time when I'm going to run out of eggs altogether.

I've also read recently in Zita West's book that fertility stops up to 10 years BEFORE your last period. As my mother had her last period when she was 51, it's likely that I'll be around that time too - and I'm now 41. So I really could be flogging a dead horse here.

When DH got home, he came into the bathroom and stood over me, still in his work suit. He said he was sorry that it had been such a disappointing day, and I told him that I thought it was time to start thinking about how long we're going to keep doing this before we move on to Plan B (actually, more like Plan D - IVF is already our Plan C). I pointed out that I wasn't getting any younger and that all indications are that it may already be too late for us to succeed with my eggs.

He immediately trotted out the usual line that I hear so often from him and from others: "But you're not old!"

These days in the West we're absolutely terrified of admitting that we're getting old. It's why botox and plastic surgery are so popular, and telling someone they look old is one of the worst insults you can throw at them. My parents, who will both be 70 in the next 18 months, think of themselves as middle-aged - despite the fact that you don't actually meet many 140-year-olds. They're horrified if I refer to them as OAPs, though they will just about admit to drawing a pension when it suits them.

So when someone says they're too old for something, the knee-jerk reaction is to tell them that of course they're not, they're only as old as they feel, or that they look way younger than their age.

The sad truth is that it doesn't matter how well I've looked after myself, or how well preserved I may look - you can't argue with the chronological age of your ovaries. I only have a few eggs left, and up to 80% of those I do have are likely to be chromosomally abnormal.

So when DH tried to reassure me by telling me I wasn't old, something inside me snapped. I lay there in the bath, with tears streaming down my face, as I threw facts at him like machine-gun fire. I pointed out how every single chart shows fertility falling off a cliff-edge after the age of 40. I told him that age was a fact of life, and acknowledging the passing of the years is not an insult but an acceptance of reality. I said that people can trot out all the stories they like about people who gave birth in their 40s, but these people become anecdotes precisely because they're so rare. I told him I was tired of being hopeful every month and then getting the same answer, month after month after month. And I said I wasn't prepared to keep wasting time and money to chase after a dream that is becoming less and less likely ever to become a reality.

Eventually, when he managed to get a word in edgeways, he said in a little, sad voice, "I suppose I do need to start facing up to reality."

Poor guy - he's seven years older than me, and thought he had a young wife. But once I was out of the bath, I showed him some more statistics and made him read what Zita West had to say about the effect of age on chances of success.

So now we've agreed - I'll go for my test next month, and probably in January as well. But if those tests don't show ideal conditions for going ahead with IVF, then we'll get in touch with clinics that do donor embryo treatment. If we have to go on a waiting list, we'll keep trying for the perfect month with my eggs in the meantime. But once a donor embryo becomes available, that's it - no more trying for the impossible dream of having a baby that's half his genes and half mine. Being parents is more important than producing a mini-me.

I'm sad, relieved and a little bit hopeful all at the same time. We still have two more months to get my hormone levels right. And if that doesn't work out, we have a plan - and one which has a greater chance of success.

I just hope when the time comes, we have the nerve to go ahead with our plan and not keep stalling any further.


  1. I wish I could hug in real life. This is such hard stuff. I cannot imagine what you are going through. I am glad though that you and your husband are on the same page now. Thinking of you....

  2. That is a great plan with lots of opportunities! Sending you big, warm hugs and lots of praise for taking such a brave step!

  3. That is an excellent plan *BIG HUGS* It allows you to see the way forward and doesn't totally close the previous door. And I agree with your analysis about age. This world does not really allow for graceful (or even disgraceful!) aging. I am leaving my hair defiantly grey at the moment in protest. I wish it were different about the eggs in our ovaries, particularly in yours, but I am constantly amazed at how very brave and wonderful you are being in dealing with all of this - I see and know and you are an inspiration honey. SO MUCH LOVE XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

  4. The picture of you in the bath crying made tears well in my own eyes.

    And as much as I want to reassure you that there is hope with your own genetics I also agree with your reasonings. And I know that donor eggs/embryos is another step further away from where you imagined you'd have to be but as a fellow person who has 4 iVFs under her belt I do agree that there comes a time when you have to be honest and weigh up your options.
    I really and honestly believe that donor embryos is a wonderful option. It excites me to think that you may have the opportunity to try that and the success rates are definitely worth smiling about. The on line bulletin board that I post on has a really active donor egg thread (no donor embryo thread as it's not legal in NZ) and I've lurked in on their conversations for months. The success on that board is outstanding. Seriously mind boggling. There are woman who are mid 40's who have had up to 7 IVFs with their own eggs with no success and as soon as they pop an embryo with the egg from a 20yr old woman inside them, bam! they are pregnant. It's really quite amazing. I love that you have this plan up your sleeve if you need it.