As I mentioned, for me, becoming a mum did not happen in the few typical ways that you might expect. In fact, in all honesty babies were not even on my radar and weren’t likely to be for a few years.
Dean and I planned to go travelling in August 2017 once I finished my second year of being a Foundation Year 2 Doctor, before starting my specialty training. On 19th October 2016, after a series of blood tests, I found myself sat in front of a Gynaecologist being told that I had no eggs left and would not be able to have children. I could not compose myself. The grief was instantaneous for both us.
We left with a follow-up appointment, and the news that we would have to start IVF proceedings immediately, with a donor egg and Dean’s sperm, with his own set of investigations to start in the next few weeks . Shellshocked was an understatement, we holed ourselves away from everyone and cried for days. I felt so disappointed, like I had failed Dean, with my body , less of a woman for not being able to do what I should have been able to, and angry – why me?! It really is true that you don’t know how much you want something until someone tells you that you can’t have it.
I had been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, Psoriatic arthritis, aged 21 and spent the next 3 years trialling different medications to get it under control. As a new doctor, I had a particularly bad flair up. I had been working 90+ hour weeks, desperate to make a good impression and not taking my medication as I should have been because it made me feel and be sick on a regular basis/didn’t have time. My body didn’t do well with the constant switch between working long days, nights, weekends with little sleep and not a lot of time to take care of myself. As a result I ended up exhausted with swollen and tender joints requiring a cycle of steroids and injections. However, my second year I started a new biologic medication and went into remission, fully functioning and no swelling. I felt great, the best I had for years in fact! Which is why it was even more shocking to receive the news that I couldn’t have children. I was told that the months of severe inflammation had caused my body to attack itself so much that it had destroyed my egg reserve. Who knew?!
We gave ourselves a week before we made a plan – what do we do?! Travel anyway? IVF but for a baby that is only half mine?! Try ourselves even though we were told it was impossible??
We decided that we would try ourselves! We knew that we had absolutely nothing to lose and that it could take up to 2 months for IVF funding to be approved, which bought us some time. In the words of MotherPukka, ‘bonking with purpose,’ is actually really hard work ha! November was a write off, Dean had his testing and we weren’t allowed to do the deed too close to his appointment so as not to affect his ‘sample.’ December was the month where it all began! Poor Dean, we were on a schedule and there was no deterring me from it! However, it was also Christmas so we decided that we would really try to enjoy ourselves and let loose because by all accounts, 2017 was set to be the hardest year of our lives.
Christmas Eve I felt sick. I made a massive dinner for Dean and I and didn’t want to eat any of it – if that wasn’t sign enough that something was up then I don’t know what was. I snuck upstairs to do a test but it was negative, I threw it in the bin and didn’t think to tell Dean. Later on I was still feeling odd so I went back upstairs and fished the test back out – I couldn’t believe it but there was a second line!! I couldn’t believe that it was positive in the first place! It was my Christmas present to him and although it was super early it was really positive that it had happened.
Even my consultant couldn’t believe it! We went on our way, IVF application removed and hoped and prayed everything would be okay. I am so happy to say that it was and just over 8 months later Florence Elizabeth Watson was born weighing 6lb.
I know that we were extremely lucky to get our little miracle so soon when other people have to go through the heartache of treatments. I still think of the emotions that I felt at the time of our bad news and I will remember them forever.