A woman who got pregnant at 44 has compared motherhood to a 'nightmare' as she admitted feeling 'resentment' and 'horror' after giving birth.
Like many women across the globe, Alice Mann, who is using a pseudonym, had long dreamed of being a mother, so much so that she decided to freeze her eggs when she turned 36 years old, after recently getting out of a serious relationship.
By the time she was 40 she had decided to use donor sperm to try and conceive by herself, but before long she met someone and the pair endured IVF, a natural pregnancy and a miscarriage together.
When their efforts proved unsuccessful, the pair decided to use an egg donor, and Alice became pregnant on her eighth cycle of IVF at 44 years old.
"I mostly felt disbelief that after so long, here he was — he was ours, we were parents," she explained.
She marvelled at the miracle, but after a few weeks admitted she wasn't feeling 'awe', but rather 'resignation, resentment, horror and abject misery'.
Alice believes she spent approximately £100,000 on her efforts to get pregnant, but sobbed as she realised there was 'not one part' of motherhood that she was enjoying.
The mother felt wracked with guilt over the way she was feeling, especially given that she knew just how much some people wanted to be mothers themselves.
Looking back, Alice believes she can 'rationalise those early feelings' thanks to the 'perfect storm' of lack of sleep, hormones and recovering from her caesarean.
She admits she 'didn't allow [herself] to think about what life with a baby might actually look like', and said she 'could never have predicted how utterly miserable the early stage would make [her] feel'.
Her partner, her son's biological father, felt the same way she did, and the pair often took turns to reassure the other. Alice recalls mourning the 'relatively carefree' existence she'd had prior to giving birth, and wanted to reply to messages asking if she was 'loving being a mummy' by saying: "No, I'm loathing it."
Alice later learned that she was not alone in her feelings, with chartered psychologist and parenting specialist Catherine Hallissey explaining: "It's difficult to talk about how common this reaction to the culture shock of motherhood is as it's so taboo to admit that things aren't how you thought they'd be."
Although Alice is 'not yet at the point of using superlatives to describe motherhood', she said things have started to get better, and her son 'began to become a source of joy, rather than misery'.
"The life we have today is different from the one we gave up. It's not worse, as I thought it was in the depths of my misery; it's not better, as the parenting evangelists would have you believe. It's just different," Alice explained.
If you are worried about infertility, you can visit the NHS site for more information here. Or for free, impartial support, call Fertility Network UK on 0121 323 5025 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, or 07816 086694 on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10am and 4pm.
Alternatively, if you have been affected by issues surrounding postnatal depression, you can call the PANDAS free helpline on 0808 1961 776, or email [email protected] for support and advice.