An STD has robbed her of the chance to be a mum and desperate Jody says her only chance of motherhood now lies in the car boots sales she holds to raise money for IVF
A woman who cannot conceive has been left devastated by the bombshell news that she can’t have a baby with her partner – because she had unprotected sex with her ex.
As he helped Sammy put her coat on, my fiancés eyes were pleading.
‘Would it kill you to come out with us?’ he asked. ‘Just for once?’
But I shook my head, tears brimming. It was just too painful.
‘I can’t,’ I gulped. ‘Dad’s expecting me.’
And with that, I quickly shut the front door so I wouldn’t have to see Sammy’s hurt face.
It wasn’t that I begrudged James spending time with his daughter. Or that I didn’t like her. Don’t get me wrong, she was a lovely little girl, always happy and smiling.
It was just that she was a constant reminder of the one thing that I could never have and so desperately wanted – a child of my own.
It hadn’t always been like this. At first, I looked forward to her weekend visits. I felt a rush of love when she called me ‘Aunty Jodie’ or gave me a hug or told me about her week at school.
Only then the doctors dropped the bombshell and just like that, everything changed.
James and I met when I was 19 and had started trying for a baby straight away. He already had two little girls from previous relationships – Kate, 13, and Samantha, five – but was eager for more children. And I’d always dreamt of being a mum.
But a year down the line, and there was still no patter of tiny feet. I started to get obsessed. Every month all I could think about was getting pregnant, and every time I got my period – crashing waves of disappointment. It became that I couldn’t think about anything else.
My GP referred us for tests to check I was ovulating and to investigate James’ sperm count. But both came back normal.
‘Stop worrying and give yourselves more time,’ she suggested. ‘It just takes some couples a little longer.’
But after another few months of trying I asked to be referred to a gynaecologist. I needed answers.
‘What’s wrong with me?’ I wept. ‘Why isn’t it happening for us?’
We were sent to Hartlepool General Hospital, where they carried out more blood tests. Once again, they couldn’t find anything wrong.
‘Have you ever had any sexually transmitted infections?’ the consultant asked eventually.
‘I was diagnosed with Chlamydia when I was 16,’ I said quietly. An ex-boyfriend had cheated on me, leading me to get tested. ‘But it was treated straight away with antibiotics and I’ve never had any problems since.’
‘I think that’s worth investigating further,’ he said.
A laparoscopy, where the surgeon inserted a thin camera tube through a small incision near my belly button, showed both my Fallopian tubes were blocked by scar tissue caused by the infection.
‘But I don’t understand. The doctor said the antibiotics would clear it up,’ I mumbled.
Trouble was, he explained, Chlamydia didn’t always have symptoms. I could have had it for a while before it had been diagnosed. That would have given it time to spread, causing irreversible damage to my reproductive system.
I sat there in stunned silence as he gently told me that Chlamydia I’d been infected her with as a teenager meant it was impossible for me to conceive naturally now.
I felt like my heart had been ripped out. I was devastated. I never even considered that it might affect my chances to have children. As far as I was concerned it was a foolish situation I’d got myself into as a teenager and that now I’d put it behind me.
As I made my way home, I wondered how I was going to break the news to James. I’d never even told him about the STD because I was too ashamed and believed it to be in the past. But now it was affecting our future together.
‘I’ve got something to tell you,’ I blurted out when he got home from work. He listened patiently as I told him the whole, embarrassing story.
‘I’m so sorry,’ I sobbed.
‘It’s not your fault,’ he said, wiping away my tears. He was so kind and understanding.
Anger burned for the partner who’d infected me. I sometimes saw him around town. Did he have any idea what he had done to me ?
Determined not to give up my dream of becoming a mum, I started researching online. There must be something more doctors could do to help me?
This March, I underwent an operation where surgeons managed to remove one of the blockages but I was warned that it didn’t have a high success rate and my chances of falling pregnant were still incredibly slim.
‘I think you should seriously consider IVF,’ the consultant told me.
Only, then we received another blow – because James already has two daughters, we didn’t meet the criteria for NHS treatment.
It seemed so unfair. It was my fertility we were dealing with here, not James’, so why was I being judged on his situation?
I started to find it too difficult to be around Sammy. I felt bad, it wasn’t her fault. And it was such shame as we used to get on so well. But just seeing her and James together, doing all those fun dad-daughter things and realising that the likelihood was I’d never be able to give him another child and have a family of my own…well it was excruciatingly painful.
I started to stay over at my Dad’s house on the weekends she came to stay at ours. James tried to understand but it caused huge arguments between us. With two lovely little girls already, how could he possibly see things from my perspective?
Meanwhile, I looked into IVF but to have the procedure privately, we’d need to raise between £4,000 and £6,000 for the treatment ourselves. Where were we going to find that amount of money? James was a self-employed decorator while I was claiming benefits.
So I applied to take part in egg-sharing. This brings together women who produce surplus eggs with those unable to produce them, so that both parties have a chance at becoming pregnant. It also allows many women to receive free IVF treatment. But because I’d had a sexual disease I was rejected.
Hurt and humiliated I wished I could go back and change the past. I thought I’d been careful by being on the pill, if only I’d used condoms too I wouldn’t have been in this mess.
Desperate, and with no spare cash to save, I started doing car boots to raise money for a baby. But selling old clothes and furniture donated from friends and family was no get-rich-quick scheme. After a few attempts I’d barely scraped together £100. But I was running out of options…
Which is one of the reasons why I’m telling my story. The other is to warn other women not to play Russian Roulette with their fertility by having unprotected sex.
I had no idea that STD infections could ruin your life in such a way. My boyfriend didn’t only cheat, he tore apart my future, and a lifetime worth of happiness with my own children. I hate him, but I hate myself too.
It might seem a long way out when you’re in your teens, but all it takes is one night of unprotected sex and you could suffer a painful legacy for the rest of your life.
Sadly, I found out the hard way.