Should I tell my child that he is an IVF baby?
In 2019, couples are using IVF and assisted reproduction more than ever. Yet, there is still a lot of shame around the topic, as if a woman that went through IVF is only half a mother compared to someone that conceived naturally.
Still, if we look at our day and era, with the amount of stress that is imposed to women from a tender age (have a successful career, being as skinny as possible, meet the standards of being a good girl and a great woman), it is also quite understandable to why so many women are struggling to conceive. Hypothalamic amenorrhea (lack of period caused by undereating, over-exercising, or high level of stress) wasn’t even taken into consideration until some years ago, and it is now a very common topic in medical clinics and women’s podcast.
Considering all the above, and after a woman has tried every single treatment, diet, and holiday under the sun, what is wrong in looking for some extra medical help to finally create the family you have dreaming about?
Let’s talk through statistics for a couple of seconds: more than 8 million babies have been born from IVF since the world’s first in 1978. Infertility affects about one in six couples, causing significant personal suffering to as many as 186 million people around the globe.
Assisted reproductive technologies — more generally referred to as IVF — have revolutionised how infertility is treated and now more than 70,000 treatment cycles are performed only in Australia and New Zealand each year.
Which brings me to the question: what are you going to tell your IVF baby?
You can tell him…
How much you longed for him
This should be the background music in your child’s life; how much you wanted him, and how much you love him.
Your IVF journey can become a very romantic story of hope, of heart-wrenching moments spent with your partner in sterile medical rooms, hoping for a positive result. It can be a story of resilience, of how life didn’t serve you everything on a silver platter and taught you lots about patience and unconditional love.
Nothing…until he is ready
It’s pointless to tell the raw truth to your child until he is ready to understand it and to digest the information he is given. The best moment to approach the topic, it’s when you are asked. You could save all the details for when your baby is old enough to be called a teenager. You don’t need to make a big deal out of it, or have “the conversation” about how he came to the world. Be honest, clear and simple about what happened, which leads me to the next point.
That mum and dad made him, but they needed some help
Humans are different. Couples are different. We all have different stories and we can’t compare our steps to someone else steps.
This can be a priceless lesson for your child to avoid comparison, and to be willing to ask for help whenever is needed, no shame in that.
Your kid won’t be a kid forever; one day he will want to start his own family, and it is important for him to know that science has his back, that there is a way out, with all its pros and cons, that it’s going to help him achieve his dreams. In the future the rates of IVF pregnancies will increase; we are living in a polluted, fast-paced society, and unless something changes, women will find it more and more difficult to fall pregnant. If you make your story normal, your children will listen and believe that is ok to ask for help if it’s needed, without shame, guilt or fear of judgment.
I love listening to IVF stories, they are full of hope, heartaches, heart-warming moments, and they are always so raw, honest and real. What shameful about that?
And at the end of the day, the story is the same. Mum and dad loved each other, mum’s egg and dad soldiers met and magic happened. Which is very similar to what you would tell to your child if you did conceive naturally.
If you want to add an extra layer to it, you can also say that the egg and the soldier were combined in a lab (how amazing is that), and then given back to mummy to nurture.
It doesn’t have to be a story of injections, mood swings, pain, and scheduled ultrasound if you don’t want it to be, or if your child isn’t ready to hear it.
Start by asking yourself today:
How is my IVF story?
Did something positive come out of it?
Did I learn a lesson that I can share with my child or with other women?
Would I do it again?
And if not, why not?