Nadine Reid on choosing IVF and reframing her idea of motherhood

TV presenter Nadine Reid writes about her fertility journey and her goal to become a mother as a single woman in her 40s.

Self love has been a constant throughout my journey to motherhood. So much so, that it was during a nail appointment in Hilary nail salon in Ranelagh that I had the phone call that would lead to my latest step in my journey.

But up until that point, my efforts to become a mother as a single woman in her 40s was hindered by roadblock after roadblock. Now, they feel like signs, winks from the universe that there was another route waiting for me.

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It’s a sign
The day I went to buy the donor’s sperm that had taken weeks to choose from the sperm donor clinic in the USA, my card with ample savings was declined three times. The communication between myself and the clinic was challenging. The customer service was disappointing and very difficult to navigate with the time difference.

So I courageously stopped the process. I pulled back. This part was not flowing at all. It’s easy to push forward with something because you said you would do it. But if it’s starting to feel wrong and challenging, I think it’s OK to pause and give yourself time to understand why you feel the way you do.

So I have no sperm being Fedexed to the Liverpool clinic, like I planned. The future babies I imagined with the sperm donors was not my true destiny. But something else unexpected is.

Changing beliefs
I didn’t consider IVF an option in the beginning of my becoming-a-mother journey because I’d been told so many negative stories. During my decade spent as a makeup artist I had heard so my clients share their stories of years of sadness after continued failed IVF treatments.

I heard about the hormones and injections potential mothers went through and thought, ‘I never want to go through that’. It seemed so horrific, heartbreaking and a cost only highly privileged couples could afford.

But a new friend reached out and shared her successful IVF story from a very kind clinic recently. Still processing some of the negativity I’ve received from various clinics, the thought of a caring and non-judgmental clinic was appealing.

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After some research with the nurses from my Liverpool clinic, I was stunned that IVF treatment was a shorter process than I thought, and the injections are for 10 days with very thin needles and not as painful as I imagined.

The hormonal tablets sound the most challenging, but with a clever preparation of good energy and people around me I know I could get through it.

The main draw was that technically the odds were much higher of me having a baby. After almost a year I switched camps, from IUI to IVF. I’m trying my best to unlearn the negative experiences around IVF and find ways to take on this experience in a joyful way.

The next surprise
Potential parents will travel across the globe for the chance to have a baby. I always thought I wouldn’t be that needy, that I didn’t want a baby Nadine so badly that I would fly long distances to make her happen.

Well, cut to me having a video call with an IVF clinic in Greece during my nail appointment at Hilary’s in Ranelagh.

This clinic, called Serum IVF, has a great reputation and over 30 years experience and excellent communication. I was hooked, but I was also braced for all possible encounters.

Photo: Nadine Reid

I had already sent over all my history and information and an email detailing my BMI as I wasn’t able for any more fatphobic rejection before talking in person.

Penny, the clinic owner, ensured I felt seen when she said, “I have worked with women of various BMIs and there are many reasons that can make it more challenging to have a baby but a higher BMI is not one of them”.

I downloaded the Ryanair app, found the loveliest family to puppy-sit Missy for four days, and booked flights for that Sunday to Greece for investigation appointments with her clinic Monday morning.

All of this was so smooth. Not one hiccup. I can’t deny that it felt that the universe was looking out for me. I felt no fear, no concerns. I was definitely on the right path.

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Self love day
Valentine’s Day 2022 was spent in the balmy Greek sunshine. I put some makeup on, wore a red dress and went to the clinic for my 9am appointment. I signed forms. A Greek notary was involved. Then I was kindly instructed to take off my pants and lay on a bed, with various instruments, balloons, and water inserted into my uterus.

Happy Valentine’s Day to me.

For all my previous uterus scans, there has been just one person present in a dark room. Here, I had an audience: the midwife, the doctor and clinic owner Penny. They all watched the screen and commented. I was talked through the screen views with all of them in the room as a biopsy was taken. The only thing missing was cinema popcorn and warm nuts.

After getting dressed I was sent back to Penny’s office and she talked me through the findings so far and recommended suggestions. A procedure was advised for me to have in the local hospital before moving forward with IVF.

For a second I thought, ‘hospital?’ ‘In Greece?’, ‘With no family or friends with me?’ But I was still feeling safe, respected and was being treated kindly. Within minutes I had the scan done, had discussed the results and was then booked for an appointment at 6am the following morning at the local hospital for a hysteroscopy (an exam of the inside of the cervix and uterus).

I was sent to the hospital for pre-op that afternoon and was fasting by 10pm. I have never known this level of efficiency in a medical clinic in my life. I was stunned at how helpful and easy the clinic had made all the arrangements.

I had no fear: it was Valentine’s Day so, to my mind, there was far too much love in the air for me to be in danger.

After my successful, uneventful procedure, I rested for a while then went back to the clinic to discuss the results.

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What next?
I flew home extremely tired, missing my puppy, and feeling so grateful for kind friends and supportive people in my life. Thankful for my privilege that I could even afford to pay for these fertility treatments.

I have to admit, however, that I came home ready for a break from the “fertility arena”. From all the interaction I’ve been having recently, every conversation has been about what to do to have a baby; by the time I got back I was exhausted and drained from the baby-making talk.

My mind began to wander to a very serious question: Do I still want to become a mother?

I have a lovely life with my dog, friends and family. I wondered if I was simply becoming afraid because I was closer to my dream than ever before.

I needed time. Time to pause and soak the experience in, reflect and let go of some of the events of the past year.

In just 12 months I had realised the time limit on my natural motherhood journey; I had major surgery; I was hospitalised; I was homebound in recovery mode for three months. And all of that was before I began exploring my fertility treatment options across Ireland, England and Greece.

Now back home in Donegal, I have decided to take some time to rebalance my life, put more energy into my work, and enjoy some of this post-pandemic freedom energy.

In early summer I will begin my IVF medication, get my puppy her passport, and fly back to Greece for (hopefully) a successful IVF treatment and come home pregnant.

It’s been a rollercoaster, but I am proud that I haven’t given up on my dreams. I have simply learned how to press pause and put some safe boundaries in place to keep ‘Nadine’ in a good space.

The fertility world can be very intense and overwhelming. Self love is key.

– Written by Nadine Reid

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent or reflect the views of RTÉ.

If you have been affected by issues raised in this story, please visit: www.rte.ie/helplines.