"Ten years ago, we lacked information, today the problem is to sort it out"

Olivia Knittel took three years to give birth to her daughter, at age 41, after IVF in France and Belgium. – O. Gabriel / 20 Minutes

  • This Thursday appears PMA for my love (Cherche-Midi), the autobiography of a woman who has embarked on a series of tests to become pregnant alone.
  • Having a child alone or not at all is the complicated dilemma that some women face. But more broadly, this story could speak to all people, couples or not, who are faced with problems of infertility.
  • While the debate on the extension of the PMA to couples of single women and lesbians should open before the summer, this story rich in twists brings a very personal and some answers.

The day before, Olivia Knittel autographed her autobiography, PMA for my love, to his Lila. His 7 year old daughter, whose design will have no secrets for those who will dive into this story in the first person of a woman who decided to make a child against all odds. Alone. "Or almost", as the author writes, because the reader comes across this diary of "Dr. Miracle", affectionate girlfriends, an encouraging mother, faithful bitches, dozens of negative pregnancy tests and many hope. And rides several times in the Thalys, often in an emergency, because it is in Belgium that Olivia began her career of
Assisted Medically Assisted Procreation (PMA). This book is timely, while
France has planned to discuss the extension of the PMA to single women and lesbians before the summer (
after much procrastination). Olivia intends to bring her stone, or rather her experience to the debate, and sent her book to
Marlène Schiappa, Secretary of State for Gender Equality. This 48-year-old woman, with two daughters on the clock, in the middle of writing Volume II, came back on her journey for an hour, a few days ago, with 20 minutes. An intimate story, rich in twists and turns, which, however, should speak to a number of women who go through the waiting, the roller coaster, the hormones, the doubts of a single PMA or two.

Olivier Knittel publishes PMA for my love, where she tells why and how she made several IVF to become a solo mother.

Why did you write this book?

I wanted to write my story, about a contemporary problem, a little about Bridget Jones. To provide precise answers to the questions that I am asked everyday when people learn that I have done a PMA alone. " Where did you go ? It's forbidden in France? Do you know the donor? It's hard to answer on the street in two minutes. And to help understand why these women make this decision, which is a choice out of spite. One does not dream, at 15, of making a child alone. But at some point, some face a choice: to mourn maternity or go through the PMA. I did not plan to have no children. I turned to this second option, even if it was not allowed in France. I would like everyone to wonder: "What about me?" After, I have a lot of respect, and even admiration, for those who choose to wait for Prince Charming, at the risk of not having children.

You begin to consider making a child all alone at 36 years old. We are in 2006 …

At first, this idea seems like a reassuring parachute. Little by little, I realize that in France, one does not recognize my desire as legitimate, whereas in Belgium, in Spain, I would be welcomed, supported. I also understand that there is a problem with age, what we are not told enough! At age 35, a woman has a 12% chance of getting pregnant at each cycle, at age 40, that's 6%. Personally, the tick of the biological clock, I had it in my head. I started treatment for a PMA at age 38 and gave birth to my daughter at 41. But during this period, I chained the tests almost every month because for me, a month ago, it was a chance to lose. I do a first IVF in Belgium, in Liège. I get pregnant, unfortunately, it's an ectopic pregnancy. It is very painful: the embryo is well, it grows up but not in the right place, so you have to kill it … And then my ex comes back in my life, we start two in a PMA, this time in France. And after an artificial insemination and three IVF, all negative, he tells me he has met another woman down the trash. So, I had to get on my knees so that he and his new girl agree that I use my frozen embryos to have one last chance to have a child. New failure. Finally, I retry an IVF in Belgium alone, with the tear, just before Christmas, with a Danish donor. And this time, it works.

How can this "Koh Lanta of the PMA", as you call it, speak to other people?

When you want a child, you have to arm yourself with courage, whether you are alone or in a relationship, heterosexual or gay. The treatments, it is the big eight of the emotions permanently, it is a violent attack for the body, one has moments of real despair. I did not want to hide anything concrete details: the pains felt during the puncture of oocytes, the obligation to go abroad for single women. The cost, too. For each trial, it was an expense of about 4,000 euros. And it does not work every time! The three days before the pregnancy test, it's simple, it makes crazy: "Here, I have a stomach ache, but it's good or bad sign and I have a little nausea, sore breasts … "I'm lucky, I fall very low, but I get up very quickly. And I met women who took fifteen years to have a child. Besides, my career is whey. Never despair.

The debate on the PMA is slow but should still be held by the summer, according to Marlène Schiappa. Do you think that France should allow single women and lesbians to have access to it?

Obviously! What reassures me is that according to some polls, two-thirds of the French are in favor of this opening. Today, some women face discrimination on several levels: first on cost. Then on access to care, because all health professionals are not so friendly everywhere in France with a single woman. The reality is that these women are trying to find a donor on the Net and find themselves in hotels, either to have sex or to inseminate artisanal. Except that there is no precaution regarding sexually transmitted diseases, no medical follow-up …

You have been accompanied by French doctors who have agreed to help you become a solo mom …

I was lucky, my doctors agreed that my treatments in France are reimbursed. Some gynecologists face a dilemma. On the one hand, they see the distress of patients they have been following for years and want to help them. On the other hand, they risk prosecution. If this extension of the PMA is adopted, it would also relieve them. I was afraid that my gyneco looses me when my guy is gone, but he supported me to the end. Afterwards, I also met a "Dr Incompétent", which triggered ovulation too early, which gave a "white puncture", that is to say zero oocyte. The next test, I was thirteen. I did not believe it … The PMA, whether you are a couple or single, it's an obstacle course to find good addresses, good professionals … Ten years ago, we lacked information. Today, the problem is rather to sort it out. That's why I'm going to share a maximum of personalized advice on a Facebook page, "PMA & me", to serve as a GPS for future parents using a PMA in France or abroad. Knowing that the roads are not the same when you are a single woman of 43 years and a 38-year-old couple waiting for an egg donation.

You describe with precision how women can select the breeder abroad according to certain criteria. Did this surprise you?

Honestly, everything amazed me in this adventure. It was very important to me that my child could know the identity of his biological father. That's why I get information and discover the European Sperm Bank, which is in Denmark, and offers a list of non-anonymous donors (which means that the child, at its majority can get in touch with his parent). I sit in front of my screen, ready to discover portraits of beautiful blond Danes. And I fall, stupidly, on pictures of babies! In fact, it was perfect. For me, it is not a problem that our children grow up without a father. A child can not feel a lack of something he has not known. On the other hand, what questioned me a lot is how one builds oneself, later on, when one does not know where half of one's biological heritage comes from? There, I know more about the biological father of my daughter than I would have known about my husband: in the file, I could learn that the donor was right-handed, that his distant cousin had hemorrhoids …

Today, your daughter is 7 years old, and you write the rest of your adventures. What is the hardest moment for a solo mom?

At night, when they are sick. Especially since my daughter spared me nothing. We tested all the transports to the hospital: firefighters, ambulance, SOS doctor and of course always between 2 am and 5 am … In the end, I was in, I was doing the bag for the hospital in two seconds. And then at 3 o'clock in the morning, you can not call a girlfriend to reassure you, you manage only the galley, the emotional discharge and the rest.

* PMA for my love, I made a baby all alone, Cherche-Midi, May 16, 2019, 18 €.

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