Home > Musings > Were They Asleep In Stockholm?

Were They Asleep In Stockholm?

I lived in the country when I was a young girl.  There were only 4 houses on our long, windy lane with permanent residents: our house, my grandparents’ house, Mr Ted and Miss Cathy, and another house further down.  The other houses were holiday houses.  Most of the houses were separated by forest and/or small valleys, but my grandparents’ house was fairly close to Mr Ted and Miss Cathy’s house.  We were all close friends.

I thought Mr Ted and Miss Cathy were awesome.  Where our house was chaotic and my mother was often bedridden with headaches and laziness, their house was a calm sea of order and cleanliness.  Miss Cathy was an amazing cook and always making lovely treats to eat.  Mr Ted was an engineer and in his free time loved to tinker with his boats.  Although we all had waterfront property, our house was the furthest into the cove and didn’t have a pier, so we always used Mr Ted and Miss Cathy’s pier.  We saw them often in winter, but in summer we spent most days down at their pier.  Which would often be followed by communal dinners at their house.  I remember them as being people who were not only fun but who I also respected sooo much.  They both had ‘real’ jobs and seemed so busy and important, although they always had time for us.

They had a little house not far from their main house.  Their house, although it seemed huge to me at the time, wasn’t all that big.  Miss Cathy was a fantastic cook, but just as I have all sorts of ‘essential’ kitchen gadgets my spare room because my kitchen is so small they had a small building – a granny flat or something – close to their house she would always be going back and forth to to get kitchen things.  I had never been inside but one day I went to follow Miss Cathy to help her, however my mum told me not to. She said it was special and I couldn’t go in.  Later she told me when Mr Ted and Miss Cathy had gotten married they’d started collecting things for a baby because they were so excited to have one.  But they couldn’t have one, so the little building was full of baby things that were special and they wouldn’t want me to go into it.

At the time I just accepted this as a fact without thinking of it much, but it’s haunted me a bit in the last few years.  This was probably in the late 70s/early 80s.  IVF was in its infancy and certainly wasn’t an option for them.  I wonder if they knew why they couldn’t conceive?  I wonder if they just kept trying cycle after cycle not knowing why their baby didn’t come.  Thinking back about it now I wonder if they had been pregnant but had miscarried or their baby had died (maybe that’s why the baby clothes in storage were so special).

I remember one night when we’d been at their place for dinner and it was getting really late.  Mr Ted took me into their spare room and tucked me in.  I still remember his intense look and how gently he tucked me in.  I remember opening my eyes and being startled that he was still looking at me.  I don’t know why I remember this, but I always have – it was such a powerful look.  Now I know he was probably looking at a little girl who felt in a lot of ways was almost his – but of course wasn’t.  Maybe he was looking at my face and wondering what his child would have looked like.

I wish I could talk to them now.  But Miss Cathy is dead, and Mr Ted has apparently become a crotchety old man.  Plus would he want that wound opened up after so many years?  And then I think of all the other people who never had a chance.  Yes, IVF is not easy and it’s not perfect.  Yes, IVF hasn’t given me a live baby, but it has given me hope.  And even if it hasn’t worked for me, since 1978 about 4 million people have been born through IVF.

I find it unbelievable that it has taken so long for the father of IVF to be awarded a Nobel Medicine Prize.   Good on ya, Roberts Edwards, for giving so many people a chance.

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Categories: Musings
  1. thecrazycatwoman
    05/10/2010 at 5:55 pm

    What a beautiful post! Yes we are lucky nowdays to have hope in the form of IVF.

  2. 05/10/2010 at 10:24 pm

    this is such a beautiful story, thank you for sharing it. and robert edwards is a legend in my books too xxx

  3. 06/10/2010 at 12:05 am

    You write beautifully. I can just imagine that little house out by the water, filled with empty dreams and desperate hopes.

    I, too, knew of an “Aunt” who was childless. I later learned that by the time she realised she was infertile, her husband was too old to qualify for adoption. And just like that, they had no where else to turn.

    Thank you Dr Edwards for giving us hope.

  4. 06/10/2010 at 12:19 am

    Hello, I thought I would drop by, took me a few days though! What a good blog you have, offering much support to others out there who most likely have not have the rough journey you have. I think they were “sleeping” in Norway all these years as well, with Dr. Edwards now quite ill and Dr. Steptoe deceased. IVF has helped so many, and I know that if he could (if I could, too), Dr. Edwards would be energized to help you & your husband. I hope that your FET will go well, I will be keeping my fingers crossed for you. By the way, I posted your question with links to your blog (slightly revised from the ICLW post you had made) on my blog http://womenshealthandfertility.blogspot.com/2010/10/woman-in-tasmania-has-done-14-ivf.html . Hope you don’t mind! Again, all the best. EJR, MD from Monterey, California

  5. 06/10/2010 at 12:46 am

    (Revised) Hello, I thought I would drop by this morning, sorry it took me a few days to visit! What a good blog you have, offering much support to others out there who most likely have not have the rough journey you have. I think they were “sleeping” in Sweden all these years as well, with Dr. Edwards now quite ill and Dr. Steptoe deceased. IVF has helped so many, and I know that if he could (if I could, too), Dr. Edwards would be energized to help you & your husband. I hope that your FET will go well, I will be keeping my fingers crossed for you. By the way, I posted your question with links to your blog (slightly revised from the ICLW post you had made) on my blog http://womenshealthandfertility.blogspot.com/2010/10/woman-in-tasmania-has-done-14-ivf.html . Hope you don’t mind! Again, all the best. EJR, MD from Monterey, California

  6. 06/10/2010 at 12:48 am

    this is a great story, and i hear totally second you on the fact that it took WAY TOO LONG for them to give this man this award!!

  7. 06/10/2010 at 2:12 am

    That is so sad, I am so glad we all have more hope of a possibility of a child. I saw your post on Dr. Ramierez’s blog. I can’t believe how many IVF cycles you’ve been through, I hope there is some good news for you around the corner. You deserve it.

  8. 06/10/2010 at 5:40 am

    What a poignant post … and you’re right … Dr. Edwards is long overdue. I was cheering for everyone in this community that day. I hope that the award also serves to raise awareness about IF, and acceptance and support for people traveling that difficult road.

  9. a
    06/10/2010 at 7:21 am

    This is a beautiful story – and I’m sure Mr. Ted and Miss Cathy appreciated you as much as you appreciated them.

  10. 06/10/2010 at 10:28 am

    I totally agree. I don’t normally watch the news but for some reason I switched over and saw the segment about IVF-the first child who had been born saying she was ‘grateful to be alive’ and then when I realised he’d been given the Nobel Prize I had tears in my eyes. SO hormonal! Thanks for writing this 🙂

  11. 06/10/2010 at 9:47 pm

    What a beautiful story, you really brought tears to my eyes. How special that you could be a substitute ‘daughter’ to them. You are so right hope is really what all IF treatment is about, without hope how do we keep going?

  12. 02/01/2011 at 8:53 pm

    Just spectacular.

  13. 03/01/2011 at 7:33 am

    Incredible post. You are an incredible writer. This is the saddest, most beautiful story, and I can just picture how profoundly you each affected each others lives. Incredible.

  14. 03/01/2011 at 4:49 pm

    Here from the Creme de la Creme. What a wonderful post–very touching. I’ve thought about this kind of situation a lot. My parents were friends with more than one childless couple. Since I joined the IF world I’ve been wondering how many of them couldn’t conceive or carry to term, but I’m not in a position to ask. I always felt like the token child when we visited with them. I wonder how they saw me . . .

  15. annacyclopedia
    04/01/2011 at 5:48 am

    Beautiful post.

    Here from the Creme.

  16. simonesmom
    04/01/2011 at 5:49 am

    Here from LFCA. Heartwrenching and lovely. I had similar thoughts about Julia Child and her husband when I saw Julia and Julia, and I think about my beloved Great Aunt Nina and her husband Carl all the time. They would have made such great parents, and, based on the way my aunt treated me, it was clearly in her heart to be a mother.

  17. 04/01/2011 at 1:16 pm

    I too had a Miss Cathy and Mr. Ted in my life and they were lovely.
    What a nice post.

    (from the creme)

  18. 05/01/2011 at 6:21 am

    This post moved me to tears. We had an older couple who took on my mother like their daughter. I too never questioned it much, but once my mom mentioned that years ago they had a miscarriage, and were never able to get pregnant again. Thank goodness we all now have the chance.

  19. 06/01/2011 at 2:59 am

    Great post! We too had a Ms. Cathy and Mr. Ted and I often wonder what there full story was too. Too bad that IF was (and still is in many circles) too taboo to talk about. And I agree – thanks to IVF and Dr. Edwards for giving us the opportunity to have hope, and for many, to have the family they have always dreamed of! Thanks for posting =)
    (visiting via Creme de la Creme)

  20. 07/01/2011 at 4:28 am

    Thanks for putting it back into perspective for me. IVF is an amazing miracle. I was feeling a little sore after my morning shot – but this reminds me that it’s a blessing.

    Visiting from Creme…will be back!

  21. Gail K
    07/01/2011 at 5:54 am

    What a great post and story. Thanks for sharing. I’m from the Creme.

  22. 08/01/2011 at 11:08 am

    I’m here from Creme. I hope that if we have to learn to live childfree, we are the “cool” childless couple… but I don’t want to be crotchety when I’m old!

  23. 10/01/2011 at 1:52 am

    Here from Creme,

    IVF was a miracle for us. I don’t think a day goes by without me pausing in sheer gratitude for having the option that so many before us didn’t have.

  24. 17/01/2011 at 11:13 am

    What a beautiful post.

    I am thankful for all of our choices as well. Not only is IVF giving us a chance for a baby, but the miracle of embryo adoption, more specifically is how we are growing our family. I have old lady eggs, so, I am thankful every day for this option.

  25. Esperanza
    21/01/2011 at 4:46 pm

    That is such a heartbreaking story, to know that they had that little house out back full of the relics of a baby that passed away, or never was. It’s heartbreaking. It must be strange to look back on their life and realize the situation was so different from what you believed at the time. And to now have an idea of what they went through. Thank you for reminding me of all the hope that ART does bring IF sufferers, it’s easy to take that for granted. It is nice that IVF’s founding doctor is being honored for what he’s brought to so many people. Without him, there’d be so many more families out there like the one you described, living in heartbreak.

    Creme de la Creme #125
    Creme de la Creme Iron Clad Commenter Attempt 2010

  26. 25/01/2011 at 8:02 am

    Such a sad & sweet post. The thought of a whole room filled for years & years with baby things is unimaginable sad. I’m glad you felt so much love & comfort from them. I bet they appreicated your presence as well!

  27. 26/01/2011 at 5:02 pm

    From Creme. I often reflect on how blessed I am that I live in an age where you just don’t have sit back and accept pre-fertility (I refuse to use the other word any more). Although my pre-fertility is unexplained at least I have the access to know that nothing is wrong. Lovely post you created the story so well I felt like was there.

  28. Gil
    27/01/2011 at 7:17 am

    Here from Crème. And letting you know that I am one of the many who have benefitted from IVF. I often wonder (as does my mom) why it took my mother five full years after marriage (three of actively trying) to have me. She suspects she has a degree of infertility as well… probably PCOS like me and my sister. I can only hope I break the cycle of infertility with my daughter. Or at least, let her know she can talk about it and there IS hope. For all of us.

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