I ran out of time

When I was young I always assumed I'd meet someone and have a family of my own. When my sister and brother in law went through countless IVF cycles and failed, due to her severe endometriosis, I stopped taking fertility forgranted. I was in my early 30's and not in a stable relationship and had no desire to actively have a child alone. Nevertheless I decided to go for tests to see if I too had endometriosis (my sister had no real symptoms so why would I). The tests were inconclusive and I did not want to take the risk of invasive investigston as I learnt this could make endometriosis worse if I had it. I left it there and got on with life. Egg freezing did not exist back then.

In my late 30's I had a polyp removed by an amazing gynaecologist. By then I had met someone I thought was special, and I decided to ask the Dr about fertility. I got a compassionate but honest response. "If you are with someone you want to have kids with then get on with it". Egg freezing he told me was still experimental and only for cancer patients. The relationship was not ready for children, my chap was not on the same page.

Over the next few years I instigated countless conversations about the future but I got no comfort that the relationship was developing. Then out of the blue I was offered an assignment in New York for twelve months, by now 41. I talked to my partner about it and he told me to go and make the most of the great career opportunity. That gave me closure, the relationship was over. I went to NYC, threw myself into the experience and licked my wounds. I was in no rush to get into another relationship and when I was ready wanted to be with someone for the right reasons, not simply to find a sperm donor. I was pragmatic, and given my age and lack of stable relationship, I knew I was unlikely now to have children of my own.

I'm now back in the UK. I'm 43, and in the last twelve months I've had two incidents of absent periods. My GP investigated it first time and when my periods started again put it down to the stress of my international move.

Last September I met a really wonderful man and I'm now in the most stable loving relationship of my life. It's only been 8 months but I feel really positive that this might develop into something long term. We are both taking it slowly as these things can't be rushed. He's been married before and has two teenage boys who are great. He's a fantastic father and they all have a wonderful bond. He raised the topic of children fairly early on. He said that honesty and openness about big things was important before we got too invested, to check that we shared the same aims in life. He said he had thought he didn't want more kids, but, if I turned out to be the person he wanted to spend the rest of his life with and I wanted some of my own, he said he would consider having more. I still didn't take my fertility forgranted but hearing this from him was amazing, I thought that maybe I could still be a mom after all.

My periods stopped again in January. Although my relationship is nowhere near established enough to be talking about starting a family, I just wanted to know if I had left it too late. An instinct told me I had. Hormone tests showed no indication of early menopause, but could not explain the absent periods. I went private and finally had an anti Mullerian hormone test. The result arrived yesterday. It showed a result of 0.2, which is outside the normal range of 0.7-21.2. My gynaecologist said that this means it would be unlikely for me to conceive naturally.

Despite never taking my fertility forgranted I am really sad. I am glad I now know... but now I need to go through the process of grieving, something I have not done before as there has not been certainty.

I have told my new partner, who has given me a big hug and said it's understandable that I am sad.

I had always assumed that if I could not have kids of my own I would adopt (if circumstances are right), but also fear that I am now too old to adopt a toddler (my sister adopted two gorgeous girls but her age was questioned at 39) and I am not sure if I am strong enough to adopt an older child who would have more severe emotional damage from a rough start in life.

I mentioned adoption to my partner but I don't feel I can talk to him a great deal about this without putting a weird pressure on our still very new relationship. I therefore feel I have to come to terms with never being a parent of any sort. That is the hardest thing of all right now.

Society is so focused on families. Once children arrive, as they have done for my family and friends, you notice that subtly you are slightly separated and your routine and relationships with the new parent changes (totally unintentionally). I am not naive or needy, I know kids are all consuming and life is bloody hard bringing them up. I have some wonderful friends, and I have six lovely godchildren (and their siblings). I am included as part of their families and I know the children love seeing me and I love seeing them. But they are not mine.

But right now it is a new emotional wound. I know I could continue to have an interesting and busy life ahead of me, but I'd trade that for nurturing a family of my own in a heartbeat.

I'd appreciate any advice from those who have been through similar on how to manage my emotions as I grieve.

Thank you!

4 Replies

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  • Hi kitty, I just wanted to write as I feel your pain and have been through a similar experience. I too always wanted children and always knew it would be difficult, even though I never had any medical reason to think this. Like you, it took me longer than I thought to find Mr right but finally I married aged 33. Time was still on my side but we started trying on our honeymoon. To cut a very long story short, after many tests and a year if trying I was unexplained. After agreeing to give my eggs to others to help with IVF treatment they did an AMM test. My result was 4. My dreams were shattered! After 2 IVFs we decided enough was enough of medical help. Im 42 now but unfortunately it's just the 2 of us, and we have now accepted our sad fate. To try to give advice is hard, but it is tough and will always be tough. However 9 years on, it does get a little easier. I always feel excluded from society as I don't have children but luckily I have still an amazing relationship with my husband. So we get through it together, day by day. Do all the things we want to do and make the very best of our fate. Hope this helps in some small way that you are not alone in your experiences and that in time, it will get a little easier. Sending hugs x

  • If only we'd all had a crystal ball in our 20s and 30s! We left it a bit late but as I fell pregnant twice within a few months no-one suspected there were fertility issues. Sadly I had 2 miscarriages and by that time I was too old for our CCG's policy on IVF treatment so we had to self fund.

    I accessed some counselling to help with the grief of ceasing treatment and resultant childlessness. It helped to understand that I was grieving the loss of something that I thought would happen and to discuss the "What ifs". It has got a little easier over the last 15 months. It's still early days for you after the diagnosis.

    This forum is a good place to offload and get support.

  • Hi Kitty sorry to hear about your plight. You never know what's going to happen in relationships and starting a family. Before I got married I didn't have a maternal bone in my body till I turned 30 and had watched a programme about children that I suddenly became maternal but I wish I had kept to my original thoughts has that's when the problems started as we started trying for a baby for five years but suffered with excruciating pains each month with my periods and found out I had polycystic ovaries and fibroids which resulted in me having a hysterectomy as it was affecting my health each month was a really difficult decision but was the only answer. So fast forward nearly six years and although it hasn't always been easy we make the most of our life going on holiday,eating out,going to the theatre but you never come to terms with the situation you have to adapt to the situation grieve when you have to. Take care 😊

  • Aw, Kitty. Your story resonated with me. I can certainly relate. Just wanted to connect and send hugs too. I'm afraid I don't have any words of advice as I am new to being sadly resigned now to a childless life. Just turned 45, I have severe endometriosis and adenomyosis and am single. Never right time or relationship and now too late. Not having anyone to share my isolation and sadness with is very hard.

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