Green shoots: ‘gardening provides welcome relief from my infertility’

Finding a lifeline in the garden when IVF has failed

I have just got home from work, walked into our garden, trug in hand, and filled it with a beautifully crinkled savoy cabbage, slender ‘Musselburgh’ leeks, and freshly unearthed heritage carrots to accompany tonight’s lamb casserole. Lunch was spiced pumpkin soup using my ‘Uchiki Kuri’ winter squashes, followed by late-season ‘Egremont Russet’ apples, straight from the tree. My husband is a few miles away cutting hedges on a farm, our cat is basking under the apple tree, and our black lab puppy is resting by my side.

It sounds pretty idyllic, except for one thing: I would dearly love a child to be in this picture, too. Since our marriage just over three years ago, Ian and I, like one out of seven UK couples, have been trying unsuccessfully for a family. After a year of hoping to conceive naturally we had 12 months of NHS tests, followed by three self-funded rounds of IVF. Gruelling, relentless, hopeless: not being able to start your own family is tough. But while I’ve been injecting my abdomen with hormones, discovering that not all tablets are taken orally, waiting months between appointments, and trying to make sense of it all, the spinach has been germinating, celeriac swelling and raspberries ripening. The constant of gardening has provided welcome relief.

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