If you’ve ever had fertility problems in the past, seeing that positive pregnancy test is a moment of sheer elation and you feel you have finally left infertility behind you for good. Yet for many women, the moment of elation is followed by nine months of anxiety. When you’ve become accustomed to your body failing to conceive, you may assume that the problems you had getting pregnant will inevitably lead to problems being pregnant.
Women going through fertility treatment are accustomed to almost daily visits to the clinic, so saying goodbye and venturing out into an antenatal system where there are often long weeks between appointments is worrying at first. You may find it hard to believe that you will ever really have a baby, and put off buying anything until the last possible moment, fearing that you might be tempting fate. Being pregnant when you had to wait to get there can feel as if you’ve sneaked in through the back door of a club you aren’t sure you were meant to join.
Babies conceived after fertility treatment are sometimes referred to as “precious babies”, and they may be unnecessarily labeled as a higher risk pregnancy. In fact, unless there are other complications or you are a much older mother, there is no need for your choices about how you give birth to be affected by this. Caesarean sections are more common for babies born after IVF, but this isn’t linked the treatment itself – it is more to do with the age of the mothers and the fact that clinicians may be more cautious about IVF babies.
Once your baby has arrived, there can be no doubting that it’s for real – but even then you may find that you don’t feel quite the same as other mums. Research has shown that women who used assisted conception to get pregnant are more anxious for the first year of their baby’s life. It’s probably not surprising when you’ve spent so long dreaming about how perfect life would be if you could have a family that the reality is very different; ideals of a peaceful child sleeping gently as you fold neatly-pressed baby clothes into tidy piles are miles away from the experience of being awake all night with a screaming red-faced infant who won’t settle and feeling too exhausted to go anywhere near the mountain of dirty washing. Women who’ve had fertility problems often have incredibly high expectations of themselves as parents, and feel that they should never complain about the relentlessness of life with a new baby.
The good news is that raised levels of anxiety do fade away after the first year or so, but most parents who struggled to have their children are aware that the impact of their fertility problems may soften but continues to shape them. Many end up believing that in the long-run their experiences of infertility have made them more caring and empathetic, and they will always be aware quite how lucky they are to have their children.
by Kate Brian – Author of Precious Babies