Anon (UK): Lifestyle and faith
When we met we knew that we both wanted children. We also knew that the chances are very low, but not impossible. So, knowing what our relationship aims were, we got married with the promise that we would try everything possible to us to have a child of our own.
I am almost 40 years old, born and raised in Germany. My husband is 36, born and raised in North Africa. We've both live in the UK for roughly 10 years. We haven’t been married for a long time but we are ready to make this wonder happen.
As we are both practising Muslims, we have to think of the rules. Before I get to those, let me explain why we needed assistance with conception. I had had a child at 16 but, following this, I suffered three ectopic pregnancies at the age of 20, 22 and 24. The last one was a shock and resulted in me being rushed to Accident and Emergency, and losing my Fallopian tubes. I lost so much blood that it was a wonder I even survived. It took me time to digest these losses, but I also had to focus on looking after my daughter.
To get back to the religious boundaries: we can’t have sperm or egg donation and surrogacy is totally out of the question. So with this in mind, we started to look around for the perfect clinic. We are going abroad simply because we have to pay for the treatment ourselves. In the UK, one round of IVF costs between £6000 to £8000. It would take us too long to get this kind of money together. So last year we started the search and at first I found a clinic in Istanbul, mailed them and they got back but we didn’t want to travel too far. Instead, I reached out to clinics in Poland, the Czech Republic & Slovakia. I think I must have mailed about a dozen & only three responded. Moneywise, they where all within the same budget. I really had my eyes on a clinic in the Czech Republic and with this in mind we made a budget plan and started saving and seeing our GP to get the necessary blood tests done.
As I mentioned I’m German, also a convert Muslim, and in my city we only have a few convert ladies. One of them is actually from the Czech Republic. We started to chat and I asked her how she feels when she goes home to see her family... and her answer was very upsetting for me. Whenever she goes home, she faces harassment because she’s a white woman who dared to wear a headscarf. In fact, almost all the Eastern European friends I have experience the same difficulties.
After some consideration, my husband and I have decided against Europe! The IVF journey is already stressful on it’s own and the last thing we need is hatred or harassment.
Back to square one. I mailed the first clinic in Istanbul again and had a lovely chat with the coordinator before selecting them. Our clinic is based in Besiktas in Istanbul. At our clinic, you need to prove that you’re married, egg and sperm donations are not allowed, and the fertilised egg can only be implanted in the mother’s womb. We feel their approach fits with our lifestyle as well our faith.
As I will be 40 years old by the time of treatment, it is possible that I will not have as many high quality eggs and may wish to freeze any embryos that are not transferred fresh. We had to research whether it is acceptable to our faith to freeze embryos. Most scholars I came across would not accept this at all, due to the fact that a mix up could happen; apparently, their argument is that there have been cases in which frozen eggs, sperm and other frozen specimen were mixed up or purposely different being given, to push success rates. I do not agree with this statement as current procedures at clinics are secure but I have to respect their opinion. Even after getting the okay from a trusted source in England, my husband is not convinced as yet. I’ll have to wait to see how he feels about cryopreservation once we have arrived at our clinic. It’s a decision we have to make together and, if he’s not happy with it, then I can’t do much but accept his choice.
My husband does know the basics of IVF for now and believes that we shouldn’t encounter any issues, but I know that there aren’t any guarantees. We see ourselves having a maximum of three cycles and, if it doesn’t happen, well then God clearly has different plans for us. What will be, will be!
Whilst my mum knows about my struggle, I wish his family would be aware. They don’t ask when we will be having a baby, but they do throw hints. As newlyweds, we do feel the pressure upon us.
IVF is a taboo topic in general, but in our experience it is even more so in the Arabic world.