The London Women’s Clinic regularly work with lesbian couples returning to the clinic to try to conceive a second, third or in some cases fourth child; they often share the frustrations they’ve encountered along their pathway to parenthood and into family life.
A common irritation is around the people who love and care for them the most, as they can often try too hard to support the couple as they progress through treatment and in doing so often unintentionally hurt or share comments that confirm their lack of understanding.
When a couple first meet, for some, plans around if, how, who and when they start a family are decided upon quite quickly, for others it’s a long term plan with options to explore and choices to be made. But in all cases there’s a recognition that they want to parent as a couple.
Because there’s an obvious need for sperm many people, including the couple themselves, can assume that they are absolutely fine, that as it’s so obvious a donor is needed there’s no need to go in to it other than in deciding who is going to try first and whether they’ll use their own eggs or decide upon an intra-partner treatment plan to both be physically involved.
But Tracey believes it’s really important to validate the loss of fantasy around not being able to conceive together as it gives permission for a whole range of emotions later on; for the couple together, individually, their wider networks but most importantly for any child conceived.
A child is wholly allowed to be fed up that Mum and Mum couldn’t make a baby together without assistance. Why wouldn’t they be?
In the future you may well be able to create an embryo by taking an egg from one, a cell from the other to use to create an artificial sperm; this is no longer a fantasy, though it may be many years if at all before we’re allowed to do this routinely!
Trying to conceive triggers an emotional rollercoaster consciously and unconsciously, each of us has our own rollercoaster; no matter how hard someone tries they can only fully experience it from their own seat.
If you’re up and it’s suggested you might want to not get carried away… it can feel as if the people who should be alongside are dragging you down; if you’re having a down moment, and it’s suggested you ‘should’ be feeling positive and optimistic – it can feel so isolating as ‘they’ have no idea what it’s like to be so out of control when all you want is to be a parent.
It’s also appropriate to feel sad, to grieve for the loss of potential if fertility treatment is unsuccessful; but sometimes there can be a quickness of recovery expected, a sense of don’t worry, there’s two wombs between you.
But in truth, one partner might feel truly uncomfortable going through the ‘feminine’ process of carrying a child, even though they have the biological equipment to do so; friends’ well-meaning reactions of ‘Don’t worry, there are two of you!’ doesn’t allow the couple the space to choose if one or both of them will go through conception – an entirely personal decision based on individual circumstances.
Those who support us best, are those who can just be there for us; a client shared her partner was wonderful when she learnt to have a small mouth and big ears… and even bigger hugs!
Research reassures that stress won’t affect the outcome of fertility treatment, but it is appropriately stressful; being stressed is OK, being up, down – all OK.
To support someone trying to conceive – be available!
Skin on skin contact is healing and reparative, it’s acceptance of yourself and each other ‘in your skin’.
Whether a hug from a friend or being naked together with your partner just watching TV or showering, it can all help to manage the stress of fertility treatment.
Counselling can help too and is routine for anyone exploring their fertility at the London Women’s Clinic as they want couples and single people to be as kind to themselves and those they are close to as they move forwards; whether deciding to have treatment or not.
You can’t make informed decisions about your fertility based on age alone; to find out about your fertility you can book a Female Reproductive Health Assessment at the London Women’s Clinic which provides clarity around your fertility and support right from the start by getting in touch:
www.londonwomensclinic.com 020 7563 4309