My first IVF was 16 years ago. A life time ago. And yet it feels like yesterday. 16 years and three children later, I will never forget what it was like to be in the trenches of infertility.
Today I am a mother of three children. A few years ago I was terrified I would never be a mother. It still seems surreal. A question I am often asked is “was it worth it?” Was it worth going through five years of infertility, nine IVFs, several pregnancy losses and hundreds of thousands of rands in order to have my children? The answer is both yes and no. Was it worth all the miscarriages and the tragic death of my first born son Ben at 10 days old due to pre-term labour? Most definitely not. Are my living children worth all I went through? Most definitely yes. I would do it all again, a million times over in order to have the children I have. I suppose what people are asking is whether motherhood is what I hoped it would be. It is all that, and more.
Being a mother is simultaneously the best and hardest thing that has ever happened to me. I love my children more than life itself, but let’s not pretend that it is easy! On paper, having children seems like a rather silly investment: Children make you old, tired and poor and they play havoc on your sex life. In purely accounting terms, that’s a whole lot of input for not much output. And yet what the balance sheet doesn’t properly reflect is the mama-love – the huge, deep, all consuming, absolutely amazing love you feel for your children…. that is why I went through what I did in order to conceive.
You know that butterflies-in-the-tummy you had as a child on the morning of your birthday? When you open your eyes and suddenly it hits you – TODAY IS YOUR SPECIAL DAY!!? Well, I still have that feeling, twelve years after the birth of my IVF twins. It hits me in the most mundane moments. When I complete a form for a school outing and I have to write my name in the field that says “mother’s name”, when one of their friends call me “Adam’s mom. I HAVE CHILDREN! I am a mother! I am so lucky!
I don’t think infertility makes you love your children more, but I do think it gives one a special appreciation of how fortunate you are to be a parent. Having faced the very real fear (terror!) that you might never be a mother, if and when you do succeed, you realize just how very lucky you are to have what you have. And that realization definitely affects the way you experience parenting.
Is it worth it? Is motherhood all that I hoped it would be? Most definitely yes, it is better than I could ever have dreamt it to be. I am eternally grateful that I eventually got the chance to be a mother.
As an ex-infertility veteran, today Tertia Albertyn channels her experiences into something positive for others by writing and speaking about the topic of infertility. In addition, she co-founded Nurture, South Africa’s largest Egg Donor program (www.nurture.co.za). She has also written a book called ‘So Close’ about her infertility journey which has been immensely helpful for others. She is offering this book in e-book format to IFAASA members for only $1 on Amazon here.