The Barbados Fertility Clinic Empowers Women to Realize Their DreamsShana Jones May 1, 2020
You’re in your 20’s and back home from university. You’ve landed a job and make enough money. You divide your time between long work hours destined for that coveted promotion, whimsical shopping sprees, late-night partying, and “just because” fancy dinners. You generously feed your indulgences and nourish that persistent travel bug, setting off on various YOLO-bucket-list adventures. You have neither chap nor child to hold you back, so you’re free to live it up as you want. That “settling down stuff” is tucked away somewhere in the recesses of your mind, a faint speck on the distant horizon of your future. Life is good. You’re good.
One day 20 years later, you break down in a doctor’s office at unthinkable news: you’re at “that” age, and it’s almost too late for you to have children. Your childhood fairy tale of creating the perfect family with the perfect husband has just crashed around you. You regret all that time spent enjoying yourself and all the naïve notions that Mr. Right and the kids would magically appear someday. If only I had focused on settling down…. But the doctor offers you a tissue and a sliver of hope: there’s a chance, but you have to act quickly. Hope surges through you as a barrage of baby images floods your mind’s movie screen. A chance……
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’d known all her life she wanted to be a mother and simply couldn’t imagine herself without children, so this was a do-or-die moment, according to the doctor. 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 what others would say, and sleepless nights of anticipation. Soon, however, the whirlwind crashed abruptly with the devastating news that this first pregnancy attempt had failed. Determined, however, she picked herself up and tried again.
She remembers how, from the beginning, the BFC had been really “invested”. The centre prides itself on offering truly individualized service, not only from the standpoint of following the patient into week 12 of the pregnancy, but also by taking the emotional journey with her. This really rang true for Lilias, as she recalls that miraculous day while driving around for work when she received a phone call from the centre confirming (yelling actually; the staff had gathered around the phone to yell it to her as a group!) that yes, 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 was so much to navigate, not the least of which was the social backlash. It’s important to note this because 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 remains unchartered territory for some, so after a friend outed 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, and she would face it knowing that she had courageously taken her destiny in her own hands.
Now, 4 years and 2 healthy boys later, life is really good. Lilias’ emotions these days shift from wonderment at her boys’ growth and development to the occasional wish for someone to share milestones and responsibilities with; the comfort that she can discipline them on her own morphs into 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, remains a deep sense of gratitude and desire to give back to the BFC. The centre had opened the door to her empowerment; it had held her hand on the rollercoaster of societal roadblocks and emotional challenges to birth this miracle and ultimately create the life she had always wanted.