I Had IVF: Here's Every Squeamish Detail I Wish I'd Known Before

photographed by Eylul Aslan.
I only made one resolution this New Year: have a baby. And being a single woman in my late 30s with nary a respectable parenting partner in sight (the best men I know are either married – too complicated – or related by blood – too illegal), I decided to get creative. I underwent IVF, or in vitro fertilisation, using sperm from an anonymous donor.
Why IVF? Well the other option is IUI (intrauterine insemination), or the "turkey baster" method, if you’re in a Hollywood rom-com. IUI is typically drug-free and therefore less expensive and invasive but is also less likely to result in a pregnancy. According to the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority, a woman in my age bracket has a 10% chance of conceiving through IUI; with IVF, it’s 15%. It’s not a huge leap, but when you consider that miscarriage rates increase with age, and that IVF allows one to implant the best-quality embryos, it seemed like the most reasonable path for me.
And it was: I lucked out on my first round, and will give birth this autumn. Now that I’ve reached the blissed-out phase of pregnancy — complete with a Father Christmas belly and a larder stocked with pickles — it’s almost easy to forget the anxiety-riddled months spent undergoing tests, choking back tears in multiple doctors’ offices, bitterly regretting not paying more attention in biology class, and basically feeling like I was the first person on the planet to have this wild idea of using modern science to have a baby on my own.
It’s utterly overwhelming, and so tempting to talk yourself out of doing it — especially if you’re a single woman. Every day I give myself a mental high-five for somehow pushing through and just doing the damn thing. My child will one day be able to recite from memory my monologue on the emotional turmoil and financial drain to which he owes his blessed existence.
There’s a lot of information out there about IVF, but I found very few firsthand experiences that I related to. So I’m spilling every last dirty detail, in the hope that more disclosure helps the next woman — single or coupled-up — feel a little less shellshocked.

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