I didn’t want my daughter to be an only child… secondary fertility story on Mail Online.
After failing to get pregnant naturally a second time, Jane Newman, 34, spent £60,000 of her savings so her first child would not be an only child… story on Mail Online.
But was she selfish to want more than one baby?
Jane Newman came to me to highlight the agony of secondary infertility – something she believes is a taboo subject.
Like many couples, Jane and husband Howard believed after having their first child, Sophie, a sibling would naturally follow.
But when a second pregnancy failed to happen, they spent thousands on IVF. And when that failed she and Howard turned to surrogacy.
Happily, thanks to surrogacy, they now have twins Max and Emily and Jane now feels her family is complete.
But she got fed up of people implying she was ‘lucky’ she had one child when so many women can’t have a baby at all.
She believes the yearning for a second child was just as bad – but as you already have one, people aren’t sympathetic.
Jane tried to accept just having one child. For a while she and her husband Howard – both teachers in their 30s – tried to convince themselves they were happy just as a family of three.
But after five years the yearning got worse. Everything reminded Jane of what she didn’t have – from people talking about their child’s ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ to not feeling complete as a family. Yet many people were not sympathetic – after all, she has one child so what was she complaining about. Jane felt so guilty. After all, she did have a baby.
Eventually the couple decided to try surrogacy. After joining a website they found a lovely woman to have their baby for them. Two of their frozen embryos were implanted in her and they were overjoyed when they discovered she was expecting twins.
A few months ago Jane’s twin boy and girl – Emily and Max – were born. Her family is now complete and she is overjoyed.
Jane, who now speaks at conferences on the subject and raises money to investigate the causes. She has now set up a blog Completing the Family, to help other women who find they suffer from secondary infertility.
To promote Jane’s blog, I placed her story on Mail Online. Click here to see Jane’s story on Mail Online and see more photos of her gorgeous family…
Read Jane’s story below…
Do you have a story about the pain of secondary infertility? Contact me for free advice about raising awareness
Is it selfish to want more than one healthy baby? Jane Newman, 34, from Borehamwood, Herts, of the heartache of secondary infertility and tells the Daily Mail website why she paid £60,000 to ‘complete her family’ and ensure eldest daughter Sophie did not grow up an only child…
‘Sitting guiltily in the infertility clinic’s waiting room I desperately tried to avoid the glances of any other would-be parents.
I did not want to strike up any conversation with anyone. After all how could I explain to those childless couples sat next to me that I already had what they so desperately yearned for.
At home my husband Howard and I already had a beautiful and healthy little girl.
Yet the truth was while I felt ungrateful and selfish for wanting another, my longing for a sibling to complete our family held no bounds.
Which is why when we had difficulty conceiving for a second time we spent £60,000 of savings going through numerous medical procedures – four rounds of IVF, a miscarriage and even surrogacy – to have our twins Emily and Max.
Let me say I know I should have been grateful to have one child when so many people cannot have a baby at all. Yet, selfish as it might sound, it was of the utmost importance to us that Sophie, now aged seven, was not an only child.
Secondary infertility is such a taboo subject. As I sat in that clinic, I was acutely aware many people have little sympathy for those who already have a baby when so many couples cannot conceive at all.
However, as I know it is just as painful to want a second baby as it is to long for that first child. Indeed the longing might be worse as the emotions you go through over not being able to conceive a second child are complex. After all, there is the guilt that your first longed for child isn’t enough. Then there is the feeling that in not having that second child, you are letting your first child down – and they will go through life being an only child.
Before we had Emily and Max, now aged one, I used to go into Sophie’s bedroom at night to check her and feel tears welling up.
I loved her so much and my yearning for another child wasn’t only for Howard and I – for we adored Sophie so much we just longed to repeat the experience of her pregnancy and birth – but I desperately wanted her to have sibling.
Howard and are both one of two children and each of us gets on incredibly well with our siblings. I couldn’t imagine my life without my older brother, Jonathan with whom I can and do confide anything.
Some people might feel having just one child is perfect. How I used to wish we felt like that. But for us it was unthinkable that Sophie wouldn’t have a sibling to play with, to confide in as she grows up, to turn to for advice when she is an adult.
The thought she would never be an auntie one day and that her children wouldn’t have cousins was unbearable. Maybe I was looking too far into the future but even the thought of her not having a sibling to share the responsibility of us as elderly parents worried me.
Once when she was aged four I was sitting on the couch with her reading a story when she turned to me and said, “Mummy, can we have a baby?” At the same time she asked for a dog – but whereas I immediately said no to a puppy, I remember telling her that mummy and daddy would do their utmost to provide her with a brother or sister.
A year later – and still with no second baby on the horizon – Sophie had started school and Howard and I were attending a parent’s evening.
It was then proudly looking at her work – and a drawing titled ‘My Family” – that my heart sank. Suddenly all around me I saw the drawings of the other children – and it seemed in every one they had drawn their siblings. Only Sophie’s drawing just had her one her own with us – a family of three. An incomplete family as far as I was concerned.
And yet just admitting I felt ‘incomplete’ feels taboo. After all, I asked myself, why couldn’t I just be content with Sophie. She was such a wonderful caring and loving daughter. Why did Howard and I want another baby? Why put ourselves through the agony of IVF at a cost of £3000 per go – could we not feel content just to have Sophie, to be a family of three?
Family and close friends never questioned our desire for more than one baby. But although doctors never actually said what they thought out loud, when we sat in that fertility clinic bemoaning the fact that the latest IVF attempt had not worked, the unspoken words hung in the air: “You should be thankful for what you’ve got.”
However, the problem was Howard and I, both teachers, always wanted just two children – two boys or two girls or one of each – it didn’t matter to us.
And we after having Sophie we never thought we’d have difficulty having a second – planning on having an 18 month to two year gap.
So Sophie was nine months and I was aged 28 when we began trying for a second child. It had taken Howard and I six months to conceive her and then I’d gone into labour with her five weeks early.
After hours of trying to deliver her naturally, her heartbeat began to drop and I was rushed to theatre where doctors performed a c-section. I didn’t know at the time but ironically giving birth to her had damaged me so I’d be unable to carry another baby.
When after a year of trying to conceive a second child, we sought the help of a private fertility clinic, tests showed the c-section had left me with a scarred uterus – known as adhesions. It meant any fertilised embryo would not be able to embed into my womb and grow into a pregnancy.
Over the next four years my uterus was treated with various drugs to try to make the scarred lining accepting of a pregnancy. At the same time Howard and I embarked on four cycles of IVF in a bid to get pregnant.
Throughout this time, as we endured the rollercoaster of emotions going through IVF which didn’t work, we had to cope with well meaning comments sometimes from strangers who’d enquire ‘when are you having a second baby.’ Indeed it seems the world expects by the time your first child is aged two you will have produced a second – as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge did – or at the very least you will be expecting another.
On the second IVF cycle I did get pregnant only to suffer a devastating miscarriage at twelve weeks.
It was heartbreaking especially when couples who’d had a baby the same time as I did with Sophie began having their second children.
As she grew older just seeing her playing with her friends and their siblings was a stark reminder of the gap in our lives and what she was missing out on.
Of course I spent as much time as I could with her to make up for the sibling she was missing. But of course it wasn’t the same.
Once I heard a friend ask her why she didn’t have a brother or sister.
She didn’t know what to say and once again guilt stabbed at me. I vowed I would do everything I could to ensure she did not grow up an only child.
After the fourth failed IVF attempt, Howard and I tried counting our blessings and accepting we wouldn’t have another child of our own. Our lives had become obsessed with fertility charts and it was putting a strain on our relationship. I felt guilty that I spent so much time obsessed with having a second child – was I putting that before family life?
We even very briefly considered adoption – but decided against it as we still wanted our own biological child.
And then as we had fertilised embryos in storage from the failed IVF attempts, we began researching surrogacy.
At first I was unsure. Surrogacy was something I’d read about but never really considered before. However, within a few weeks via a website I’d was put in touch with a surrogate who wanted to help.
She already had four children and as soon as we spoke on the phone, we hit it off. It felt so right and I realised then surrogacy was the answer to having the child we longed for.
She had already had health screenings to ensure she was healthy enough to be a surrogate and agreed to carry a baby for us.
We all underwent counselling and sure it was the right way ahead, we paid for her to have IVF where two of fertilised embryos we had were implanted in her uterus. Including our surrogate’s medical bills, plus expenses, it cost a further £11,000 from our savings.
But thankfully it worked first time – when she found out she was pregnant with twins, Howard and I were overjoyed.
It was tough seeing another woman pregnant with our babies – I’d so longed to be pregnant and give birth a second time – but at the same time I was overjoyed her pregnancy was so straightforward.
When finally our twin son and daughter were born by C-section at 38 weeks it was an overwhelming moment.
But the best part was seeing Sophie marvel at her little brother and sister – and their reactions as they watched her. Even now as I watch my three children interact together I feel overwhelmed with joy.
Some people might think it greedy of me to want another child. For a long time feeling incomplete despite having Sophie made me feel ungrateful for my lot. But now I am so glad we never gave up – for now I have a complete family.
Being a mother of three and not a mother of one has changed my life in a wonderful way. I am more fulfilled. I feel happy I have given Sophie a brother and a sister. And as I watch Sophie play with her siblings, I know it was worth all the heartache to get it.’
Interview by Alison Smith-Squire