We are thrilled to announce the launch of our beautiful FERTILITY Magazine, in partnership with Genea Fertility.
For too long, people experiencing fertility issues have been relegated to anonymous online forums and Dr Google. The success of this fertility hub on The Grace Tales has been testament to the demand for resources and community, to navigate this incredibly personal and difficult journey. Creating a print magazine has been a labour of love that The Grace Tales and Genea are deeply committed to.
Here is a sneak peak of what’s inside…
The decision to have a baby alone isn’t one any parent makes lightly. It takes courage. Strength. Absolute certainty. It’s a journey driven by love.
For Genea’s Elizabeth Gosch, it was the best decision she ever made. Here, she shares her remarkable story.
Tell us about how you came to the decision to become a solo parent?
I suspect like many women (and some men), it was in the back of my mind as each year of my thirties ticked over. I started making changes to get myself in a better position to become a mum on my own, but I was still dating and living a pretty carefree life. I got a higher paying job and started saving more seriously. A relationship break-up when I was 33 gave me a good shove and a few years later I moved back to my home state and began to make serious preparations. Alongside the practical and financial elements, I was also struggling a little with some of the bigger emotional questions.
Was there anything about the process you were particularly nervous about?
To be honest, while I’d never seen myself as the 2.5 kids and a white picket fence-type, I never imagined I’d do it alone. I just figured I’d have kids a little later, after I’d established my career and once I’d found a partner. So that was one thing to get my head around. I wasn’t worried about raising a child alone but the idea of bringing up a child without a father was a stumbling block for me for quite some time. I know some people will be frustrated with that answer and it’s an issue I obviously reconciled but I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t a key factor.
Was there anything that helped you decide to go ahead?
This isn’t a comfortable story to tell but it’s what I say to anyone who wants to talk with me about taking the same path. I’d been thinking about becoming a solo mum for quite a few years and weighing up all the factors. I’d organised my finances, bought a home and had an amazing job with fab maternity leave. But still I wasn’t taking the leap (so to speak). One day (in the shower – doesn’t everyone do their best thinking there?), I thought to myself: “how is 50-year-old you going to feel if she not only doesn’t have a child, but she never tried”. And that vision bought me to my knees, literally. It still makes me cry. I think the regret of not even trying would have destroyed me.
What was the process like and where did it start?
Were your friends and family supportive, and did you have anyone helping you navigate both the general process and the medical procedures involved?
My family and friends were amazing and were all onboard from day dot. My brother and sister-in-law celebrated my decision and stayed involved and engaged at each step. They especially enjoyed picking the sperm donor from the donor bank website! I can’t overstate how important the support of my mum and dad was (and still is). My mum came to pretty much every appointment and procedure and my dad backed me with his calm, quiet and considered questions and feedback throughout. As I said, I was lucky enough to be working with the fertility clinic Genea, so I knew the ins and outs well and our medical director (basically my boss) was my treating doctor. Also, my mum and two of my aunts were midwives and a dear family friend was a gynaecologist-obstetrician, so I’d grown up surrounded by talk of reproductive health, pregnancy and childbirth.
How did you find the IVF process physically and emotionally?
I think I was as prepared and realistic about my chances as anyone could be (I was 40 by the time I started) but it’s still a body blow when things don’t work. That said, the actual fertility treatment wasn’t a big issue for me. I tend to approach life with the motto that if you think things are going to be crappy, they probably will be but if you go into something thinking you’ll cope then you probably will. Spoiler alert: I had some crappy days, but I stayed focused on my end goal, so I was able to pull myself out of the dark times.
What did you find the most challenging about the procedures?
One of the things that was most tough was that all the information I was accessing about coping through IVF began “get your partner to …” or “distract yourself by doing something fun with your partner …”. My dream is to find the time to create resources and support for single women heading down this path.
How many rounds of IVF did you require and how long did the overall process take?
Tell me about discovering you were pregnant with your son – what was that moment like?
I got pregnant with Nicholas on my third (and probably final) round of IVF. I’d used up all of the sperm I had purchased from the sperm bank. After the egg collection and genetic testing, I got the call from the lab to say that two embryos had passed the test. Elation! We transferred the best looking (best graded) embryo and I settled in for the two week wait. I’m a bit of a stickler for doing things the right way so I didn’t test at home. I went in for my blood test and then waited for the call. As I’ve said, I’m naturally optimistic, so each time I got the pregnancy test call I was hopeful, but a year of fertility treatment and losses imbibes you with a certain caution as well. Hearing that it was positive was amazing and I cried (of course) but I also knew I wouldn’t relax for a while. Little did I know that you never really relax after miscarriage. As my dear brother explained to me once, you won’t really relax throughout the pregnancy and then once they’re born, you’ll never relax again!
How did you find pregnancy as a solo parent?
Who supported you during your birth?
My mum was always going to be my childbirth support. A little way into my pregnancy, my sister-in-law surprised me by saying that she’d love to be there as a support as well. I was really happy to accept her offer because family means everything to me, and I loved that we could grow our own relationship in this way and increase the connection between our two little families. Long story short, I was a 41-year-old having a geriatric pregnancy (delightful medical term) so my OB was not keen to let me go past my due date. Nicholas was due on 14 June (my mum’s birthday is 13 June and my dad’s birthday is 15 June). I was induced on 14 June, contractions started pretty much straight away and went all day. My mum and my sister-in-law Brielle were with me the whole time. Incredible. My dad arrived in the evening which was lovely. I bargained my way out of a c-section for quite a while, I started to push sometime after midnight but after a while sadly it was clear my bub wasn’t coming out that way and my OB said it was time for an emergency c-section. Nicholas was born just on dawn on my dad’s birthday. The birthday boys spent those first few hours together as I was in recovery and my mum had injured her shoulder the week before and couldn’t hold the baby (which almost killed her!).
Any advice for women considering become a solo mum?
DO IT! Ask yourself how 50-year old you will feel if you don’t even try. Talk to someone who has, gather your support network and get as much sorted out as you can but don’t let regret colour your days. Having Nicholas is the best and hardest thing I’ve ever done and I wouldn’t change it.