With all the hoo-hah about Margaret Thatcher dying and having a state funeral and people dancing on her grave I forgot to mention that someone very special died recently. Professor Robert Edwards was a pioneer in fertility treatment and without his work I would not have my son today.
Naturally his death has meant a lot of discussion about IVF and fertility. I have written about this before but am always so fed up when people call in to radio shows to bleat on about why the infertile should adopt. Such utter uneducated rubbish is trotted out. Worse are those people who call in to say that IVF is an abomination because embryos are destroyed during the process. There are some truly stupid people around.
I wanted to write a bit about the process. IVF itself, as in the sperm meeting the egg bit (the bit that people think is an abomination), is really just like natural conception only it is done outside of the body. Once you are pregnant it is no different to a natural pregnancy, in labour you are no different to any other woman in labour, once the baby is born he or she is no different to any other baby. The hard bit is the getting the egg in the first place. I don't know if I was just lucky or if I am particularly hardy but I didn't find the treatment terribly invasive or hard. Maybe it was because I wanted it so badly or because I knew I was only going to get one shot at it? Though I am sure EVERY couple going through it must want it so badly so I guess I was just very lucky. Yes, the injections did become tiresome and yes, I did get some side effects like bloating and ovary pains but I rarely felt sick and soon became an expert at the injections. I think by the time I got to the egg collection I was so far through the process and so resigned to it that I let it happen to me and stopped worrying so much. The hard bit was over, now I just had to wait to see if it had worked. of course, because it did work I didn't get the tougher bit many couples experience when it fails. I am truly grateful to science, although in general I have no interest in science at all.
For all those people who think there is something futuristic and frankenstien about fertilising an egg outside of the womb I would just like to say that although it is not the 'natural' way of doing it, it still manages to create normal babies just like babies born through the luck of natural conception. IVF children are not freaks of nature, they don't go through life experiencing anything differently to the millons of babies born the natural way. They are not an abomination. The conception part of a baby's begining is such a very small part of their history; my son still spent weeks growing inside me, nourished by me, cared for by me. He wasn't in a test-tube in some holding area waiting until the nine months was up. He came out the normal way too, as did his cousin. Also, when you are carrying an IVF baby you don't spend 9 months thinking of him/her as an 'ivf baby' - IVF is the means to an end and while of course you feel so lucky to have been successful you don't spend 9 months referring to your 'ivf baby' - it is just a baby, just a pregnancy, just a labour. We love our children just the same as other parents love theirs. Maybe sometimes we think 'I am so lucky' when we are staring down at their soft heads as they feed or watch them sleeping or when they run up to you and throw their arms around you. So lucky to have had the chance to experience being a parent, so lucky to have been successful. Doesn't every parent think that too?
My son will know that he was born through IVF, he will learn that children are made in different ways and some parents need more help than others; he will probably know he is an 'IVF baby' long before he knows the 'facts' of life. Bottom line is that his fact of life is going to be different to some other facts of life and I am glad.