telling your child they are IVF

Telling your child they are IVF (Part 2)

Julia Bateson continues her account of telling her daughter she was an IVF baby

Last time I described how we told our lovely daughter of 10 years and 9 months that she was an IVF baby. Today I want to follow this up by describing how she reacted to the news and how we managed her reaction.

Almost immediately after we told her I realised that it was a very important step in developing her identity and how important it was to try and normalise this news so she didn’t think she was a ‘freak’.

When I asked her how she felt about the news she kept saying, “It’s so disturbing! It’s just so disturbing!”
With the meaning of the words “That’s sic!” in my mind I responded by asking “Good disturbing or bad disturbing?”
“Oh, good disturbing Mum,” she reassuringly replied.

We discovered that she was referring to us seeing her in a Petri dish under a microscope. She found that incomprehensible. We were thinking she’d love that bit, find it as fascinating as we did when actually, of all the IVF information we gave her, that particular point became her focus.

By complete coincidence I had known, for several years, that one of her closest school friends and her twin were also IVF and, incredibly, with the same hospital and doctors! So both families agreed to tell their girls this extraordinary fact when the time came. They were ecstatic when they discovered this extra bond and couldn’t wait to see each other to talk about it. I was so pleased and also relieved about this as it made IVF feel mainstream, more common and ‘normal’ for her. It was really helpful in the ‘finding out process’.

Telling other people then entered the arena. There were two distinct sets of people she needed to tell as she was developing her identity. Close family and close trusted adult friends who had known her all her life and secondly, her ‘BFFs’ (Best Friends Forever) which involved us talking to their parents first; we had no idea if they knew yet how babies were made. Most friends told their offspring at home and then let us know so the children could freely discuss it if they wished.

Looking back at her reaction to being told, the words ‘awestruck’ and ‘full of wonder’ come to mind. She was gracious, pleased, she liked the idea and said she felt she was a special person and yet she was only momentarily enthralled. Within a week she had digested this major news and moved on to other attention grabbing fodder.

She knows I am writing this blog and so I asked her three months on ‘How well did we do?’ And how she now felt about the news.

“I am glad that I am IVF. I feel different to other children in a good way.

You did it right, but it would have been better if you hadn’t cried because it made me sad.  (I don’t even remember crying.)

It’s not that exciting; it just makes me feel really precious.

The girls (my daughter and her IVF friends) call it ‘being born twice. Which means once they were ‘born’ outside of our ‘tummies’ and again inside of our ‘tummies’.”

So we did it. Another rite of passage achieved. Now we wait two more years to tell our son – I am sure that will be different but at least we have the first under our belt, plus I must try to remember not to cry.

Julia is a mum to two IVF primary aged children. She has worked in education for the last 25 years in a variety of teaching and advisory roles, including delivering sex education programmes to 10-11year olds. Julia now runs Excite-ed, an educational technology community interest company, dedicated to preparing children for the digital world using online game design, app development and cyber safety.

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