Thursday 14 December 2017

Documenting the pursuit for a child of her own. . . with a little bit of humour

When Kasey Edwards was told she'd be infertile within a year, she got to work -- on a baby and book, says Andrea Byrne

Andrea Byrne

Australian author Kasey Edwards' debut memoir was about her waking up one morning with a realisation that she hates her high-powered job and needs more fulfilment, thus embarking on a journey of self-discovery.

Her latest memoir couldn't be more different. For starters, she has a much bigger and potentially more life-changing problem on her hands, and, secondly, she's not in control of it.

It was at a routine appointment with her gynaecologist when Edwards, then aged 32, learned she had "dud eggs" and would almost certainly be infertile within a year (which transpired to be an accurate prognosis).

At that point, she hadn't entertained the idea of children. In fact, only a few years previously on her first date with her now husband, she told him: "If you're looking for a wife and a mother, then let's end it here 'cause that's not going to be me."

She now laughs joyfully about it, raising her wedding ring into the air. "Look what he ended up with."

Despite not having experienced the broodiness that so many women speak of, she felt "really angry" on hearing she may struggle to conceive.

"It was shocking at 32 to have to think about it," she says in her soft Australian drawl. "Up until that point, my life was full of possibilities. I could do what I wanted, whenever I wanted, and it was probably the first time in my life when I felt restricted."

As is the case with all of us, being told you may not be able to have something makes you want it more. Luckily for Edwards, she had her "own private sperm bank at home", so could begin the pursuit immediately, but not everyone is as lucky.

"I hate saying this, because we just don't want to hear it, but in terms of dating, if you want kids and you're in your 30s, you have to be looking for the father of your children, otherwise you'll be running out of time."

Thirty Something & The Clock is Ticking documents Edwards and her partner Chris's pursuit for a child -- everything from ovulating at the most inopportune times (a long-haul flight) to turning sex into an almost military operation to the agony of IVF.

"I was looking for books when I was going through it, and they are all so bleak, and very preachy one way or the other," she says.

"The issue is more complex than that, so I wanted to portray different perspectives without judgement and with a little bit of humour. I remember when I was going though IVF, I was like, can someone please make a joke. It's bad enough anyway without being so serious all of the time.

"I don't want this [book] to be about encouraging everyone to have a baby. The whole idea is that we're educated and we take control over every other aspect, we really should take over our fertility and motherhood as well.

"I also wanted to do it because there is so much secrecy and shame, particularly with men around the whole idea of infertility. Statistically, it is men who delay starting IVF, not women -- [but] 50 per cent of cases in IVF clinics are there because of the man."

Edwards, who has been living in Melbourne for the past six years, describes the IVF process as "terrible".

"The only thing worse than doing IVF was not doing it and not getting a baby", she says.

"One of the hardest things was the shattering of the fairy tale, because having a child is supposed to be an intimate and private experience, but there were five people in the room when we conceived my child, and three of them were wearing rubber gloves. Now I look back and it doesn't matter, but at the time it mattered a great deal."

Edwards was fortunate enough to get pregnant after her first cycle of IVF. Her daughter Violet, who she describes as "divine", is now 18 months old.

Should the pretty author decide to try to have another child, she has two embryos waiting in the freezer. Unfortunately, there is only a 20 per cent chance of success.

The baby wasn't the only recent change to Edwards' life. She is now a wife, having been previously sworn off it, following the "devastating" separation of her parents when she was 27.

"I understand the statistics that almost 50 per cent of marriages break up, but I have this sense of security and love that is really wonderful," she says, beaming.

Kasey Edwards' Thirty Something & The Clock is Ticking, which is published by Mainstream, is available at all good bookshops, priced £7.99

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