Back in February 2020, after a long road to that point, we walked into the fertility clinic for the first time. In the despair of the endless waiting and pushbacks, and the joy of finally getting the ball rolling, it hadn’t crossed my mind quite how invasive the appointment would be. Or what questions lay ahead for us.
Si and I aren’t married yet. We should be, but we delayed until we know we can have the wedding we want (thanks, COVID!). Yet in spite of this, we have had to navigate conversation topics that are far heavier than most married couples have faced after a lifetime together.
Whilst most couples planning their dream wedding day get caught up in discussions of guest lists and seating plans, we’re asking each other what happens to our potential future embryos should one of us die before it’s used. Yes, it’s that intense.
On the day of that appointment, we had to attend together. Of course, there were questions that we expected: how long we’d been trying, if we smoked, how much we drank. But I was less prepared to be taken into a separate room, away from Simon, so that we could be asked, individually, whether we were there under duress, in the throes of a violent relationship.
Of course, I understand why they asked. They have a duty to safeguard. But I was blindsided by it.
Safe to say, in the 17 months that have since passed, we’ve navigated several difficult conversations. Each time it feels like the topic gets a bit heavier:
What if it doesn’t work?
When should we say enough is enough?
Are we open to adopting?
What happens to our embryos if one of us were to die?
Who would get guardianship of any future child(ren) if one or both of us were to die?
Are we open to going abroad for treatment?
Would we consider using donor eggs/sperm?
When I reflect on the conversations we’ve had, the choices we’ve made, I do so both with a tinge of sadness – for the fact we’ve had to deal with these things in the first place – and awe – that we’re strong enough to make informed decisions and aligned enough to come to mutual agreements.
Much of the time, we’ve turned to nature to explore our thoughts and feelings. There’s nothing like a long, quiet country walk, with no distractions, to help you to get clarity and perspective. We’re lucky to live in a place where we’ve got some beautiful, secluded walks on our doorstep. We can get out often, into vast open spaces, to ponder the bigger questions.
Throughout this journey, we’ve become stronger – both individually and together – and we’ll continue to grow even stronger still, as we move forwards.