Will we tell our children they are IVF babies?

Our girls have no idea what we really think of them. Most kids don’t realise how loved they are. When I told Big Munch she was mummy’s first miracle she sternly replied “No mummy, I’m not miracle. I’m Batman-Elsa!” I love it that over time she will eventually understand what a miracle means. So will we tell our children that they were IVF babies?

Miracle is a funny word. For me it means magical. It’s something that wasn’t supposed to happen but it did. It’s about beating the odds. Most of all, miracle means something precious. There were years when I felt I wasn’t supposed to be a mummy. Going through IVF I felt the stigma (big time). I probably fed this stigma myself. Looking back, if I’d been more open about our IVF plans I would have learnt that IVF was more common. At the time of doing IVF I did wonder if it worked, what would we tell our child when they’re older? If we have a girl is it possible for her to inherit any biological issues? So will I need to tell her that she was an IVF baby and explain why?

We were fortunate that our IVF treatment worked twice and the Munchies now have each other. This helped me to be open about being an IVF mummy after the births. So now, I’m pretty proud of our IVF journeys. It’s also about what we went through together as a couple and what we learnt along the way. I know it’s much easier to feel a bit philosophical about it all now we’ve gone through it. It’s also important to talk about it in case we help others who feel isolated about their journey (like I did). We had to be pretty resilient through IVF and the pregnancies. So why wouldn’t we want to share some of this with our children when they’re older?


Photography by Katrina Campbell

I’m not as bothered about what others think about this as I used to be, but I do wonder what the girls will think if they find out they’re IVF babies? Will they find it weird? Will they find it magical? Will be they be curious about how IVF works (and in our case more about natural IVF). Will they feel embarrassed? Oh please don’t let them feel ashamed like I felt when I realised I had to do IVF the first time round.  Or will they feel proud?  Will they find it comforting that they were both IVF babies? Will they wonder about the scientific side of things? By the time they’re older, maybe IVF will have less stigma attached to it. I know just chatting about it on the blog and through my online and offline communities, I’ve realised it’s becoming more and more common.

Crikey we know how kids and teenagers love to ask questions. If we tell them about their IVF story, they make ask us lots of questions. Why did you have to do IVF? What was it like? How long did it take? Daddy, did you really give mummy 362 injections? Did it hurt and did she cry? What was it like seeing us grow as little embryos? Were you scared going through it? Did you worry every time you had a scan? If they’re at the age when they learn about the birds and the bees, they may question why school didn’t talk about making babies the IVF way. On the other hand, they could be really chilled about it and just think “yeah, cool, thanks for letting us know”. They may even have mates who are also IVF babies.

We associate lots of things and even places with our IVF journeys. Our IVF clinic the CRGH was based in Kings Cross at the time so we now love taking the girls down to that part of town. I’m pretty sentimental and still remember what I was wearing to the clinic for different procedures. I will always remember the tunes on our playlist for “IVF medication time”. We have the scan pictures of the embryo where it looks like a gem. These are some things that would be nice to share with the girls.

I guess if we tell them, we will will have the take the risk and just respect however they react and feel. I’m obviously hope they feel proud. They weren’t supposed to be here, but we followed a different journey to the majority. We sometimes joke how as minuscule embryos they were like superheroes, determined to fight their way through the odds of IVF. They reached their final destination. Like the 2012 London Olympics when we did our first round of IVF, they made it through the different heats and across the finish line (in their own time of course). In our hearts they’re legendary and they’re fighters.

So, yes, we have decided to tell our two girls they are IVF babies. I don’t yet know when would be a good age to chat about it. It’s good for them to know about the journey we went on and where we ended up. It’s good for them to know that IVF gave us a chance and helped to create our little family. After all, they will always be our babies however they ended up in my tummy.

If you’d like to read more about our IVF journey, it’s just a quick click away.

What do you think? What are the pros and are there any cons to telling kids about their IVF stories? What would you do? Do you think there’s stigma attached to going through IVF? Leave a comment below. There are lots of things I wonder about, so would love to hear your thoughts too…

This blog post was selected as Mumsnet Bloggers Network Blog of the Day on Tuesday 24 January 2017.

Thanks to Katrina Campbell Photography for capturing the above photo of Big Munch and Toddler Munch at one of the Mama Meets at Olive Loves Alfie East. I’m talking about Career, Confidence and Motherhood at the OLA MAMA event at Olive Loves Alfie East, London E20 on Thursday 2 March 2017 11-1pm. Babies and children are welcome too! Click here for more info.

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21 thoughts on “Will we tell our children they are IVF babies?

  1. justsayingmum says:

    Oh Sunita this is such a beautiful post and I think you have to tell them in time and you will know when that time is right for both you and for them. This would be such a wonderful post for them to read it truly would. You have such a beautiful story to tell and I am so glad that you have shared it. Your family is gorgeous my lovely and they absolutely were meant to be here xx

    • Sunita says:

      Thanks so much Helen. You’re right, it will be special when we get to tell them and maybe they’ll like reading this blog post. You’re comment is very touching – thank you xxx

  2. Sunita says:

    Hey Yvette, thanks so much for stopping by. It’s great to hear from everyone about such a heart-felt topic whether they have gone through IVF or not. We are so blessed we have kids to tell them about IVF eh? Lovely hearing what you think. xx

  3. Leanne says:

    Hi. I’ve recently explained to my 9 year old daughter about her IVF origin and she was fascinated and wanted to see her embryo/scan pictures. Three weeks later she doesn’t give it a second thought. This is the year she will be learning about the (very) basics of reproduction at school so I thought I might as well explain the basics to her along with the alternatives – didn’t seem to phase her, so I must have explained it ok!

    • Sunita says:

      Wow Leanne, how fab to hear your story! Thanks so much for stopping by. How cool she asked about the scan pictures. Kids are so curious. They’re pretty smart too. It’s nice you’ve taught her something that she may not learn about at school. Hope to see you around on Lucky Things soon xx

  4. bonniehfox says:

    Our son is an ivf baby and we will be 100% open with him about how he was made. There is no shame whatsoever in being unable to conceive through no fault of your own. There is absolutely nothing to hide or be embarrassed about. In fact, we are very proud to have made an ivf baby. It takes a hell of a lot more work than natural conception and I think you can be very proud to tell your children how incredibly wanted and loved they are.

    • Sunita says:

      Thanks so much for your comment and sharing your own plans Bonnie. I certainly feel more proud now. At the time I was very private about it all and sadly did feel ashamed. It’s wonderful you’re looking forward to telling your son about your IVF journey. Thanks again for stopping by xx

  5. Tracey says:

    As an egg donor, my recipient told their ‘miracle’, and she has a book about how it took three people to bring her into the world. When I visited her recently, she explained to her class that I was her donor mummy. They understand how they fit in and I think it’s pertinent to be honest and open with how they came to be. There’s no shame, only love.

    • Sunita says:

      Wow Tracey. How wonderful to hear your story. It’s making me a bit teary-eyed. You’ve played and play such an important part in someone’s life. And so she should be proud (just like you). You’re right. It’s all about love. Xxx

  6. firsttimevalleymam says:

    I’ve always said I would tell my son he’s an ivf baby. Autism may make that harder. I’m hoping it don’t as I’d like to think he’ll know he was wanted. I I never told anyone he was ivf until after he was born, then I hid it from the church so I could get him christened. Now I tell everyone as he’s my little miracle. I have two frozen I will defrost them but not sure when, I wouldn’t hide the fact that if it was successful that it would also be an ivf baby. My belief is when people say to me it’s not gods way, I argue if it wasn’t then he wouldn’t have given the people the brains to make an ivf baby to start with!

    • Sunita says:

      Great to hear your story and good on you for doing what’s right for you and your family. He will always be a miracle. People cannot comment on our lives as they haven’t lived them. Totally agree with your last sentence too! Thanks again for stopping by. What a day. It’s been lovely reading everyone’s comments xx

  7. differentshoresblog says:

    Hi compliments on a beautifully-written post with a very pertinent subject. In my humble opinion you absolutely have to tell them: it’s their heritage and part of their medical history and I think parents are obliged to tell their children where they came from and how they came about. Largely because it can only cause misery and resentment if the kids find out on their own. I know all about the shame of IVF as I am one of the unsuccessful stats, but I would definitely have told my kids about it, no doubt. On a different but perhaps same-y note, one of the reasons I didn’t pursue donor conception was because it’s anonymous where I am, and the first generation of donor egg kids are already talking about the “hole” they feel in their lives through not knowing their heritage. Always best when kids can’t remember not knowing a situation like this!
    Also, f*** people who say it isn’t god’s way.

    • Sunita says:

      Hey DifferentShoresBlog, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this too (and what you would have done if you were in our position). You made a great point about it being part of the children’s heritage; it’s part of our family story and will always be. Anyone going through the donor egg process must find it equally hard and heart-breaking when you have to think about unanswered questions.

  8. motherhoodtherealdeal says:

    Such a tricky one…my three year old daughter always asks where she came from and I do explain it…honestly if she were an IVF baby gosh that’s so hard because if she asked at this age I don’t know if she would comprehend but I would want to tell her the truth….so hard. Such a though provoking post thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub lovely can’t wait for this weekend! xoxo

  9. Lucy At Home says:

    I can understand why you would worry about telling them, but I think it’s just like any other sort of medicine. You couldn’t have children “naturally” for whatever reason, and so you had intervention. Just like someone who can’t produce insulin naturally and has intervention, for example. It’s a shame that there is still such a stigma attached to it. I’m sure they will be proud of their mummy and daddy’s determination to have them! #CoolMumClub

  10. mummuddlingthrough says:

    I think your story and ultimately their story is something to be incredibly proud of. It will undoubtedly make them feel extra special and loved, to know how badly they were wanted and fought for. You are an open and honest lady Sunita, and i’m sure you will present it to them in a positively wonderful way.
    Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub xx

  11. Luci says:

    The responses on here are mainly absolutely heartwarming. My husband was allowed to go for a vasectomy by his cheating wife.
    Later we met and married and he had reversal surgery which was partly successful. We had superb ICSI treatment and our lovely healthy son is the result. I will be happy to tell him when he asks about the fabulous medical science that allowed such a lovely young man to be with us.

  12. Autumn's Mummy says:

    I really enjoyed reading this post and am so pleased your IVF was successful. I love the fact you’re going to tell them – IVF is used so commonly now that I’m sure they won’t be embarrassed by it. There is far less stigma attached to it these days! I was fortunate enough to be able to conceive naturally, but I think if I ever had any children using IVF then I would tell them about it too.
    (By the way, I adore your daughter’s response of “No mummy, I’m not miracle. I’m Batman-Elsa!”)

  13. Lydia C. Lee says:

    I don’t really get why you wouldn’t tell them? It’s just part of life and I’d be really amazed if when they were about 10 they even had any questions about it at all – it’s just normal. It’s like gay parents – kids don’t have any questions about it after about the age of 6. It’s just what some people have as their family. #FortheloveofBLOG

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