Shortly after it was confirmed that Adrian and I were unable to have children, we had my dad’s funeral. My mum, brother and me discussed and planned an order of service to include a potted history of my dad’s life, which I then typed up. I still remember how painful it was to write the last paragraph: ‘Don will be sorely missed by his wife, son and daughter-in-law and three grandchildren, and his daughter and son-in-law….’ To me, the fact that Adrian and I were only a couple rather than a family made us incomplete, and seeing it in print I felt as though the letters were in bold, underlined and highlighted with flashing lights around them. Yet I couldn’t delete them because it was true that we didn’t have children. Maybe that was the first time I’d glimpsed that this was reality, and somewhere very deep down inside it hurt.
Being a couple seemed to make us inferior to people who had children. This wasn’t the case, but it was how I felt. It was as though, in my eyes, we hadn’t ‘arrived’ – hadn’t arrived at that mysterious place of the complete experience of adulthood.
The result of seeing my mum’s grief and the need she had of our support coupled with my own feelings of incompleteness and inferiority was a desperate desire to ‘get’ children in any way I could and as soon as possible. Adrian and I were on the NHS waiting list for IVF, and we also began to look at and pray into the possibility of adoption. As I said to Adrian at the time, ‘If anything happens to you I couldn’t bear to go through all of this on my own. I want children to be able to support me the way we’re supporting my mum.’ However, because we were waiting to go through IVF we were told we couldn’t pursue adoption at that stage.
When we were first put on the waiting list for IVF, I didn’t agree with it and had no intention of undergoing it, but neither did I feel in a fit state emotionally to announce my decision there and then. Once I could think clearly again after my dad’s death, I intended to cancel ourselves from the waiting list. Thankfully, I poured it all out to a Christian friend at work one day after shocking myself by unexpectedly breaking down in tears. Her and her husband had been through IVF in the past, and she shared with me that it is possible to have control over how many eggs are fertilised. So if only two embryos can be transferred (from the petri dish to the mother), you can request to only have two eggs fertilised. This made a huge difference, and after praying it through, Adrian and I felt at peace about going through IVF.