Rachel is 36 and was trying for a baby before being diagnosed with PH. After exploring adoption and fostering, she is now trying to accept a future without children.
“I had been trying for a baby with my husband throughout the year leading up to my diagnosis and being advised by two male consultants not to get pregnant was the worst part of finding out I had PH.
I am a problem solver so my thought processes were around fixing the problem – could I ignore them? Get a surrogate? Adopt? Try it anyway with their support?
I went home and spent the week in bed processing it all, in a dark room and a dark place. I looked at adoption websites and just cried and cried for all of the children who needed homes and women out there like me who were so desperate to have them. It looked like an uphill battle at that point – little did I know it would be even more horrendous as an experience.
The hospital offered me counselling and I had two sessions with my husband at the time, but I am not sure how much it helped.
I saw references to having children all around me – from YouTube adverts you cannot skip about pregnancy tests, to GP surgery noticeboards filled with baby care posters, TV adverts, and pregnant women walking down the street. Those things stick out like a sore thumb and kick you in the gut.
Society screams at us to have children and it is easy to feel like an outsider when you cannot.
I was going to try and get pregnant regardless. I didn’t care if I died. I didn’t care if It would mean bed rest for 12 months even. I wanted to try.
I paid to go private and have my fertility checked because I had chosen to do it myself, but it turned out that for some unknown reason I barely had any eggs left to get pregnant so the chances would be very low anyway. So, this brought us to the options of adoption and fostering.
I went to an adoption open day and it all felt negative from the start. I walked away feeling deflated.
This is where we moved on to exploring fostering, and what a terrible ride that was. Fostering applications make the army look like an afternoon tea party. No one tells you this – no one tells you how much of an emotional rollercoaster, how painful, how exhausting this process is. For various reasons, which we were going to appeal, we were declined. I was told this decline would stay on adoption records for ten years so I probably wouldn’t be able to adopt in the future at all.
It felt like the end of the road. I had considered all options, but all roads were blocked.
I decided to dedicate my life then to medicine, re-training as a physician associate. Medicine is so all-consuming that in a way it is like having a family I guess, but I try to look at it as helping thousands of people in the future opposed to raising three – or even one.
Not having children is a lifelong grieving process for me – I will never ‘come to peace’ with it. It alters you in ways you never thought you could be altered. It is a million things you see every single day all around you, which you cannot have. There is no peace there, just acceptance over time.”