I was 17 years old when I had my left ovary removed. As part of the procedure and due to my age I was offered the opportunity to have my eggs frozen as a result of the likely problems getting pregnant naturally in the future. There was no question in anyone’s mind that this is what I should do, even my parents, who had brought us up with strict Christian beliefs, including those relating to marriage, family and God’s will. I was surprised that when reality gave them the option to opt out for a moment, they did just that, for my sake.
Throughout my twenties and thirties I was resistant to the idea of becoming pregnant. In hindsight I suspect that my subconscious was telling me that the trauma and likely disappointment would be too much so it wasn’t worth trying. However, the conscious me resisted the idea of breeding in this over-populated world and railed against being dependent upon/attached to a man for the rest of our lives for the sake of the children. I suspect this is partly why I find myself single at 42. I probably wasn’t the most attractive catch given how I expressed myself and certainly not to someone who wanted to settle down and start a family.
I can’t explain why but in the last few years my views about having children have changed, dramatically. Whereas previously I actively opposed it or didn’t give it a second thought, I have found myself in the past 2 years thinking about little else. Is it because I realise that time is running out? Have I finally grown up? Or have I finally recognised the happiness it brings to so many that I want to experience that too?
And so I find myself with a very difficult decision to make. Science, in all its wonder, has ensured that I can most probably get pregnant on my own. I have at least 4 possible rounds of IVF stored in a freezer somewhere in Milton Keynes. I have the money to do it. I am fit and healthy. I have the desire to become a mother. I have access to thousands of potential fathers from around the globe all of whom have donated their paternity to my (our?) potential child. But is it the right thing to do? Is it acceptable to bring a child into the world knowing they will never know their father? As someone who works in family law, I have an acute awareness of what is in a child’s best interests and the perceived wisdom that a child’s sense of identity is key to their healthy development. How could I deny the child this? As a Christian, I question how such a decision would fit with my faith. Is it plain wrong or just too selfish?
But maybe that’s old-fashioned thinking. After all, as human beings we constantly explore, develop, create and progress. We have enabled births to come about in this way and many people are doing it all the time without any apparent crisis in our humanity. We’ve just created a foetus from 3 parents, for goodness sake. Where does that leave our perception of ‘identity’? Will that child grow up feeling he/she is born to 3 parents. Would he/she feel that something is missing if they never meet the third donor? I’d be surprised. And as for my faith, maybe the Virgin Mary is a more contemporary figure than we could have ever imagined.
And what if I decide not to go through with it? What should I do with my eggs? Dispose of them? Donate them to science? Donate them to a couple who are desperately trying for a baby? The latter sounds like the most charitable thing to do but how would I feel knowing that, in fact, I had a child out there somewhere that I would never know? And God forbid if the child was born to parents who end up in the family courts.
I was told that I was lucky to be given the opportunity to have my eggs frozen. I was one of the few people treated by the NHS at the time who was afforded it. Objectively, I can’t deny that but if I am being truly honest with myself I wonder if, sometimes, we are given too much choice.
So, where do my questions leave me? I must make a decision, one way or another. God said we were made in his image. He also praised us because he was “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Perhaps I should face my fears and embrace something wonderful.