Click here to read my recent BBC blog post on ‘Defining Motherhood’.
I’m Becky, Mum of three. Now, that’s something that I didn’t think I would ever be able to say.
Early Menopause had robbed me of the chance to be a Mum. Or so I thought.
This is my story of infertility, numerous IVF cycles, loss, and the path to donor egg conception. It involved a rollercoaster of emotions and experiences which, even though they were my darkest days, I now wouldn’t change for the world.
Looking back, I realise that I struggled to find any ‘real’ positive stories out there. Amongst the sometimes unhelpful, misinformed advice on the forums, someone I had never met became my main support, confidant and friend throughout the difficult journey. I honestly don’t believe I would be where I am today without her. With that in mind, I feel compelled to share my story in the hope that I can be that inspiration and support to others.
I started sharing initially to raise awareness of infertility, IVF and donor conception. Through the power of social media, I have been astonished by the positive response from those who have found comfort in seeing the reality of life as a mum after making such a huge decision. My main aim was to show that being a parent is not solely defined by genetics – over the past few years I’ve learnt there’s so much more to being a mum than DNA. By speaking openly, my hope is that both IVF and donor conception within society will become much more open and accepted ways of starting a family.
Social media is a great platform to change perceptions and encourage understanding. I’m most active on Instagram. The community is truly inspirational, providing an opportunity to share and learn while being able to retain a level of privacy about fertility struggles from your usual social media network. It’s through these connections I’ve discovered that, not only do people want to hear about the success stories, they also want to hear about what to expect when it comes to emotions and fears that are inevitably part of this huge decision-making process.
Accepting the loss of not being able to have a genetic child involves grief, which needs to be acknowledged and understood as a perfectly normal feeling when faced with this decision. It was only when I started this blog and connected with Jana Rupnow (author of Three Makes Baby) that I realised what I had experienced was compounded grief. After this, I suddenly felt my feelings were validated and I began to understand that the grief was real and that it was ok to struggle emotionally.
I’m learning that even beyond becoming a mum through donation there are still challenging emotions and fears to face. As I gratefully face the typical challenges of parenthood I am learning that some of these will inevitably be more complex than your ‘conventional’ family. It’s been a journey in itself just sharing my story on a wider scale, personally I’ve faced many questions that I had previously pushed to the back of my mind, mainly about what the girl’s reactions might be when they learn of their conception. It’s by sharing my thoughts and feelings that I’ve started to become more confident in how I am going to handle these challenges in the future.
Through many collaborations I am trying and open up some new and diverse conversations about infertility and, more specifically, donor conception. I want to share and understand different perspectives as way to acknowledge and learn about the different emotions experienced along the way. My hope is that by opening up these conversations I can prepare myself and others for supporting and understanding their children in the future when they come to learn about their story.
I’d love for you to come and follow me in my journey of discovery, understanding and personal learning as I reflect on my past experiences and navigate my way through parenthood.
Love, Becky x