Author: Shana Jones
The Perfect Family Fairy Tale, starring you. You had written this story and cast your perfect family in your early childhood. Most certainly at some point in the future you would direct it; you would live it.
But one day, after years of envisioning this perfect fairy tale, a doctor tells you the unthinkable: it’s almost too late for you to have children. As your world slowly crumbles around you, the doctor offers you a sliver of hope — a chance, but one you have to take now.
This is the story of Lilias, a 40-something-year-old luxury property manager in Barbados: she had enjoyed young adulthood, but now the window for becoming a mother was about to close. She realised very quickly that this was a do-or-die moment, so three days after visiting the Barbados Fertility Centre (BFC) on a friend’s advice, she decided to take the plunge. She was going to become a single mother by choice.
What followed were the regular tests, consultations, the mandatory counseling when donors are involved, and of course the implantation procedure. In the background raged an emotional whirlwind of self-doubt, apprehension about others’ reactions, and sleepless nights of anticipation. Soon, however, the whirlwind crashed abruptly with the devastating news that this first pregnancy attempt had failed. Determined, she picked herself up and tried again.
She recalls how, from the beginning, the BFC had been really “invested”. The centre prides itself on offering truly individualised service, not only by following the patient into week 12 of the pregnancy, but also by taking the emotional journey with her. This really rang true for Lilias, who always remembers the miraculous day while driving around for work when she received the phone call from the centre confirming (yelling actually; the staff had gathered around the phone to yell it to her as a group!) that she was pregnant! It really struck her then that the staff members were in it with her; they cried when she cried and rejoiced when she rejoiced.
Exhilarating as it was, though, there would be much to navigate, including a swift social backlash.
It is important to note that although Barbados is one of the most developed Caribbean islands, traditional mindsets still abound. A woman choosing to have a family without a male partner is unchartered territory for some, so after a friend announced her pregnancy on Facebook, the torrent of comments spewed forth: You’re too old for this. You don’t deserve this now. If it had been the Lord’s plan, you would have had children. Who’s the father? Later, after a second successful pregnancy, the questions became more offensive: Are the boys real brothers? Out of this onslaught emerged a bona fide support system and a defiant resolution that “if I own my story, no one can create one”. She would face whatever came, courageously taking her destiny in her own hands.
Now, four years and two healthy boys later, Lilias’ emotions shift from wonderment at her boys’ growth and development to the occasional wish for someone to share milestones and responsibilities with to the simple bliss that “all the love is for me”. She thrives on the unwavering support of her mother and a few close friends, and now, ironically, has no time or immediate desire for a mate! Underlying all this, however, remain a deep sense of gratitude and a desire to give back to the BFC. Opening the door to her empowerment and holding her hand on the rollercoaster of emotional challenges, the centre had enabled her to birth her miracle and ultimately create the life she’d always wanted.
Shana Jones is a Barbados-based travel writer and commercial pilot. She loves writing about unique, off-the-beaten-path aspects of different places she’s visited. She enjoys Latin dance, reading French and Spanish novels, and teaching English online. Follow her at www.roamingaviatrix.com. BPM