I’m In The Sun’s Fabulous Magazine: When Fertility Treatment Fails
Yesterday, I was out and about with my partner Andy at Croydon Food Festival, when a message popped into my Facebook messenger inbox. Followed by another. Then another. All were from women who, like me, had suffered the agony of failed fertility treatment. They were reaching out to share their stories and to thank me for sharing mine. It was at this point that I realised my interview for The Sun’s Fabulous Magazine must have gone live; feeling excited, I dragged Andy off to the nearest newsagents to pick up a copy. This is my story, as told to Sam Brick:
IVF KILLED MY MARRIAGE
Samantha Walsh, 41, works in retail management and lives with her partner Andy, 35, a shipping coordinator, in Sevenoaks, Kent. She says:
“When we had our first round of IVF in October 2009, my then-husband Liam and I were so confident it would work, we bought a four-bedroom house in Sevenoaks. We were raring to fill it with our family, but looking back, it was a mad thing to do. We’d had to resort to fertility treatment because my Fallopian tubes were blocked with scar tissue from a previous gynaecological operation, and by August 2011 we were on our third attempt. But I was still sure it was going to happen. I vividly remember the hope I felt knowing I was due to take a pregnancy test on our sixth wedding anniversary – followed by utter heartbreak when my period arrived.
We were both gutted, especially as we had run out of NHS funding. That’s when we made the horrendous decision to say enough was enough. Neither of us felt strong enough to continue – it was just too hard. I’d been taking the maximum dosage of hormones for each treatment, so my moods had been all over the place. Liam and I had always been a laid-back, party-loving couple, but by that point we were arguing over everything. It didn’t help that our dream family home needed a lot of work, so on top of the pressures of trying to get pregnant, a renovation just made us more stressed. Our lives had effectively been put on hold for two years as we desperately fought to have a family and now it was all for nothing.
After we decided not to carry on, we ended up retreating to our own floors of the house, where we could deal with our loss alone. Liam had the top floor, I had the one below. Without a common goal of a family, we lost our focus and optimism. While I grieved for what I would never have, I began to see my friends on my own and Liam did the same. It was very subtle, but soon we were socialising without each other, which was something we had never done before. Then we started going on separate holidays. There were days when we were so heartbroken that our 15-year relationship was in such a sorry state that we tried to make amends, but all the hope we once shared was replaced by grief.
While Liam and I did look into fostering and discussed adoption, we didn’t want a child for the sake of a child, we really wanted our own children. And besides, by the time adoption was the only option left, our relationship wasn’t strong enough. It was just too painful to be together and in February 2013 we split up. We sold the house and moved out a couple of days after our eigth wedding anniversary. I felt so alone. I was 37, and all my friends were married or in a relationship and extending their families, while I felt like a complete failure. It hurt so much that I almost contemplated suicide.
Liam and I stayed in touch and a few months after we split he started dating a younger woman. I felt sick at the thought of him having a baby with someone else. I truly believed – and still do – that we would still be married if we hadn’t put ourselves through IVF. I so wish we had been able to regain the happiness we had before our infertility nightmare began.
Even so, I am glad we tried, as I would have regretted it if we hadn’t. Liam still hasn’t had any kids, but I’ve slowly come to terms with the fact he might have children one day and I know he will make a great dad.
In August 2014, I met my current partner Andy. He has two young daughters who live with their mother, but I see them regularly, which is lovely. He’s at peace with the fact that I will never be able to give him children. My sister has a young son so I’m an auntie now, too. I’ve learned it’s best not to dwell on what might have been, and I think I have accepted that I will never be a mother.
I believe we were lucky that we had our treatment though the NHS, as we were given honest information about success rates – there was no benefit for them to cherry-pick figures. But I know that some clinics present results in such a way as to make them look better than they actually are, which is heartbreaking – especially for vulnerable couples who are desperate to have a baby. I know too well how that desperation feels and am just so glad that they didn’t try to tap into it.
Thankfully, I’ve now found another purpose in my life, running a Facebook group for women in the same situation as me. It’s just so nice we can all offer each other support having gone through such an awful time.”
For the full article, go to Fabulous Magazine Online or click here.