I can’t shake off the BBC documentary last week, ‘The Vikings are Coming’ – following a handful of determined, courageous and generally very impressive women on their various journeys to conceive with donor sperm from Denmark.
We followed a 36 year old abandoned by her own mum at 4 years old, a heavily pregnant and endearingly house-proud 43 year old, a wonderful rock-solid female couple and an amazingly resourceful Jemma, at 40, doing her best, on her own, to maximise the tiny chance she had been given to conceive. Her upbeat tenacity would win anyone over. Trying to conceive in any assisted way involves many mini hurdles and many mini bereavements if not cleared. Logistics being one (Danish sperm comes at a cost of course) but, as with Jemma, we see the painful journey for her to create one viable egg (as opposed to another contributor’s bumper crop of 45), which then had to be ‘good enough’ to be fertilised and to create a viable embryo for transfer. And then of course the agonising wait to find out if the embryo has implanted to become a viable pregnancy.
Trying to conceive for the most is easy. But for a hugely significant minority – of hundreds of thousands of people – the journey can become unfairly long, expensive, exhausting and even life-changing. The balance of hope with hopelessness, positivity and negativity can absorb all focus. And when it doesn’t happen, as with Jemma, the loss of a dream may feel like the loss of a real baby. A real imagined baby, but a baby nonetheless.