When they came into the world, I knew I was complete.
I always wanted to be a mother.
I loved kids and they loved me. In fact, I was convinced that I was born to be a parent. So while my friends planned take-no-prisoner careers, I thought about baby names and nurseries. The only problem was, my defective reproductive system didn’t get that memo.
Ironically, when the career I never really wanted was flying high, my career-minded pals began falling pregnant. So taking advantage of my steadily increasing income, we stashed away the dollars to buy a home fit for a big family and my hubby and I got on with the business of getting pregnant. For a year. Without success.
All around us women seemed to be falling pregnant by merely glancing at a penis, so we decided to up the ante. I undertook a fertility friendly diet, gave caffeine and anything else remotely enjoyable the flick, gorged on vitamins, and invested a small fortune in weekly acupuncture and peeing on very expensive sticks to predict the perfect time for baby making. At the end of another year, all we had was a $10,000 dent in our bank account to show for our efforts.
Not one to give up, I visited several expensive specialists, tried every imaginable over-priced medical test and scan only to one day discover a little something burrowed into the lining of my uterus. It was a rather nasty fibroid that needed to be removed. Which in turn removed another $3,000 from our bank account.
Three months later I was smugly pregnant. For nine whole weeks.
The miscarriage left my husband and I both inconsolable, but hopeful, because we’d just been a little bit pregnant. We were convinced we could do this. We forked out dollar after dollar on every crazy herbal treatment and fertility shaman we stumbled across, because by this stage, I would have stuck my head up an orangutans ass if someone had told me it would help. Meanwhile, our sex life was thriving because nothing says romance like peeing on sticks, a complete lack of spontaneity, a feeling of total disconnection, and a hint of desperation.
With a hefty deposit saved for our first home, we focused our efforts on house hunting, but seeing all the picture-perfect nurseries in the homes we visited only made us feel worse. Finally, we decided it was time to call in the big guns and headed off to see an IVF specialist. Turns out by compete fluke we’d chosen a smalltime celebrity doctor, who, once we made it clear we had no idea who he was, pretty much charged us $500 to tell me my uterus was Teflon coated and to forget about having kids. Ever.
This wasn’t part of my life plan. And silly me, I hadn’t thought to make a back-up plan – because lots of snot-faced kids squealing and running wildly amok was all I’d ever really wanted. I think the amount we spent drowning our sorrows in vodka that night was around the same as his fee.
When we recovered from our massive hangover, we plastered on fake smiles, found a house, and, during negotiations, decided on one last-ditch effort with IVF. Maybe Dr. Ass-hat had been wrong. He’d certainly been obnoxious. Our combined costs over the previous three years had already accumulated to around $25,000 so chucking another $500 into the reproductive bucket seemed like small change.
We made an appointment for a different, and even more expensive clinic and met a lovely doctor who said he thought he could help us. We were in. As was an almost $9,000 chunk of our house deposit. The home buying could wait.
It was the wisest investment we ever made, as 3,089,014 needles and nine months later, we bought home our adored baby boy. Giddy with happiness and stoked by our success, we danced back to our IVF hero as soon as we physically could, ready for round two. Except this time it didn’t work. Nor did any of the following five costly attempts. You do the math.
We had figured, given that IVF had worked once, it would work again. We figured wrong. Wrong times six. The doctor called it secondary infertility, which made little sense given I was infertile the first time too. Perhaps he should have called it secondary primary infertility, or the more brutal “Your uterus is an arid wasteland, tough luck lady!”
My pasty white stomach by this stage was dotted with so many dark bruises that if Cruella de Ville had spotted me she would have had me made into a coat. I’d started to resent random pregnant women on the street. In fact, even some men boasting larger scale beer bellies were on the receiving end of my covetous gaze, such was the sorry state of my infertile imagination.
Our sex life was a long distant memory and, unsurprisingly, as I wallowed in self-pity, our hormonally tampered-with marriage was suffering as much as our rapidly diminishing bank balance. The house deposit we’d so carefully saved was pretty much gone and we didn’t know if we could realistically afford to continue.
But every time we looked into the eyes of our beautiful baby boy, we knew we weren’t quite ready to give up on our wish for a bigger family. And so we emptied the remains of our piggy bank and prepared my poor beleaguered veins for one more round of pin-the-embryo-on-the-uterus.
Turns out seven is our lucky number, as along came a prefect little girl who had cost us so much to create, I almost expected her to be 24 carat gold plated at birth. But she was more precious than that.
We’re often asked why we don’t own our own home. Or a fancy car. Or much of anything really. And the answer is simple. To conceive our two children required an $80,000 up front gamble. Not that I’m complaining. I think it was a bargain, because the incredible family I was told I’d never have, is priceless.
Aleney de Winter is a travel, food and parenting writer. When she’s not treading on Lego or being forced to watch Frozen on loop, the mother of two can be found hauling her ravenous offspring around the globe.
This originally appeared on SHESAID. Republished here with permission.
Photo provided by the author.