There is so much segregation in womanhood; from stay-at-home moms to working moms, c-section moms to the vaginal birth moms, and all the other labels in between, that when “IVF mothers” seemed to be chasing me around the web, I was less than impressed.
As far I was concerned it was just another label of division in womanhood, and I ignored it for some weeks, until I came across these lines. They caught my attention and I wanted to find out about the ladies who prefer to go by this title, and not simply the well-known TTC moms.
“They haven’t had the exhaustion following a night up with a sick child, but they have had many sleepless nights, too anxious to sleep, worrying about how many eggs will be collected tomorrow, or if the eggs will fertilize, or if there will be an embryo to transfer, or any of the million other things that can go wrong in the IVF process.”
One of such IVF mamas is Sarah, who conceived her three children via IVF. She revealed that, while she was waiting, she was very much a mother, although she had no physical children, she was occupied with issues of how to bring those children to being.
With adhesions and poor quality eggs to deal with, she was very much a basket case. She was on a 24-hour worry watch, wondering when that baby dream was going to become a reality.
With her options very limited, she was advised to try IVF straight, so she didn’t waste time with trial and error. She went straight to business.
“For 5 years, I was going from one fertility clinic to another. I called myself a mom, albeit an IVF mom, because that was the only way I could really make sense of what I was going through. I liked being called a mom, and adding IVF reminded that I was actually working towards becoming a mom for real.
Now, that I have even been blessed with my kids, who were all conceived via IVF, I still retain my title. And when I look at my journal, those words are littered all over the pages, even till recent times.
I’m proud to be an IVF momma. Hmm! That procedure is intricately woven into my life’s history, and given the alternative I had, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Another woman who happily attaches the IVF Mama title, even to her social media page, is Akosua, and at this stage in her life, she doesn’t even care what anyone says or thinks.
Here’s why: Some of Akosua’s age mates are already grandmas, and she’s just had her first child, a boy, earlier this year, thanks to IVF.
As at the time of her son’s birth, she detailed over 20 years of TTC, miscarriages, the years she and her husband even stopped trying and resigned themselves to fate, when she reached menopause. They poured their love on the children around them.
However, one day, Akosua got an urging to try again and for months she struggled to come to terms with that urge. It just didn’t make sense for her to try again…after menopause? If she didn’t get pregnant when she was menstruating, was it now it was going to happen? She thought.
When the pressure wouldn’t let up, she spoke to her husband about it and he was just like, “Do whatever you like. But know that I would prefer you don’t put us through that phase again.”
After much thought, Akosua did decide to put them through it again, and after two cycles of IVF in a year, she got pregnant! Yes, you read that right. A woman in her late 50s got pregnant.
That pregnancy was a case-in-point of how to be a cautious optimist. They took each day as it came, no drama, no unnecessary excitement, just lots of prayers and steeling themselves in case it ended in a miscarriage.
Week after week, month after month, the baby kept growing, regardless of the consistent bleeding, and the seemingly permanent hovering of the doctors and nurses. She was their first patient of that age, so she was something of a guinea pig, and she was closely monitored.
Akosua had a baby, a baby boy, a couple of years to her 60th birthday. At first, she was too weak to carry her son, but when she did, she didn’t want to let him go. All that letting baby sleep in its cot wasn’t in her textbook. Her son slept by herself on the bed, until they left the hospital.
She calls him her miracle baby, apart from the IVF baby. Indeed, he is a miracle that God enabled her to have via IVF.
Akosua is a proud IVF mother, and tells anyone who cares to ask how she had her son. In fact, you would probably know that fact without even asking.
The experiences of these women show that there are different sides to being an IVF mom. It is a relative term and women define it as fits their experience.
Apart from the mamas, like Akosua, who went through the procedure and came out with their good news, the ladies still in the trenches, who are technically waiting for their chance to become “real” mothers, are also IVF mothers.
The IVF mothers focus every day on making their future child; navigating the challenge of daily injections to wondering how to formulate the perfect excuse to get off work undetected, on a Monday morning for yet another fertility clinic appointment.
They are the ones who show up to, and even plan, baby showers so they can prove to the world that infertility isn’t the entirety of their lives. Now, that takes guts.
The hurt that is felt when asked, “When are you going to have children?” and the greater hurt when the question stops, as everyone slowly realises there might be issues.
IVF mothers have had more embryos in their womb then many “real” mothers ever will. They have probably seen so many of their embryos squirm around on screen and wished with every fibre of their being that they would implant.
They have lived through far more two-week-waits then anyone should have to.
Just like a real mother knows that the hard times won’t last forever, so does an IVF mother, even though it’s easy to forget that this time won’t last forever.
Whether their miracle baby gets born, or they form their family by some other way, or eventually make peace with the fact that life may be different than they envisaged, infertility and IVF won’t be their life all the time.
These IVF mothers don’t need sympathy, but they need to be acknowledged for the mothers that they are, even if it is a motherhood of a different sort.
So, amidst all the stories of how hard motherhood is, please spare a thought for the IVF mothers.
To the IVF mothers, we see you sisters!
Join the conversation with any of our TTC and Pregnancy Groups here