After multiple miscarriages and a broken relationship, Charlott Fagergard, 50, never became a mother. Instead her family is her husband and their labradoodle – and she has no regrets. Here's her story...
Every so often, my husband Jamie, 42, and I will jump in our camper van on a Friday evening and take off on a mini-adventure. Last weekend we had a wonderful time hiking with friends in Snowdonia National Park. Next week, who knows? We might head down to the coast for a barbecue on the beach or head into the countryside for pub lunches and long dog walks with our labradoodle Tesni.
Sometimes I catch myself thinking how lucky I am that I have this much freedom without cares and responsibilities of children. Some people might call it selfish but my little ‘family unit’ is the three of us and that’s my life.
But it's completely different from the life I envisaged when I was younger. Growing up with only one brother, I always wanted to have a large family. My dream was to have four children and lots of grandchildren. I imagined being one of those grandparents who would open the doors wide to my home and invite everyone in for huge family meals and gatherings.
My dream was to have four children and lots of grandchildren.
Working as a nanny
In my late teens I travelled to San Francisco and was a nanny for four children, which I absolutely loved. But when I came to the UK to live in London in my 20s, I threw myself into a career in hospitality and the dream of a family was put to the back of my mind. Like so many other women who focus on their jobs, I kind of ‘forgot’ to have children. I was in a relationship and we had a party lifestyle with lots of travel and crazy 3am finishes but we were having a great time.
But around the age of 36, I decided I’d had enough. Perhaps it was my ‘body clock’ ticking but I realised I didn’t want this ‘party lifestyle’ anymore and wanted to move out of London. My partner agreed and I bought a restaurant here in Wales with two other business partners. We made it hugely successful but again, because I threw all my energy into making that work, the idea of children went out of the window.
I kind of ‘forgot’ to have children.
By 2010, I was in my late 30s and I knew time was running out. I sold part of my business and said to my partner that I wanted to try for children. I could tell he wasn’t as enthusiastic, but he didn’t disagree. He’d never been sure about having children but whenever I’d brought it up, he’d always said: "We can perhaps have one." It should have served as a warning sign of what was to come but I ignored it.
Trying for a baby
I stopped taking the pill when I was 39 and for two years nothing happened. I began to panic, thinking I’d left it too late. You look at celebrities – and even friends – who give birth in their 40s and you don’t think it will be a problem. But peek under the surface and you realise that many will have struggled with fertility as well.
But then I got pregnant. I was over the moon when I saw the blue line. I knew deep down that I never wanted to go down the in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) route. I’m a firm believer in things happening for a reason, so I was delighted that I’d got pregnant naturally. Yet when I told my partner, he really wasn’t that excited. I put it down to him being surprised.
However, just as I was coming up to my first scan, I had a miscarriage. It was absolutely heartbreaking. The worst part thing was that I didn’t feel I could speak to anyone about it. My partner thought it was just ‘one of those things that happens to lots of women’. I was running a hotel at the time and I felt I couldn’t tell anyone at work either. So, I had to get on with life, knowing all the time that I’d lost the one thing I really wanted. It was an incredibly difficult time.
I had a miscarriage. It was absolutely heartbreaking.
Seven months later I got pregnant again, but lost it at four weeks. This time I was much more circumspect. My GP told me that to lose a baby so early meant that there was something wrong with the pregnancy and the good news was that I’d got pregnant naturally. That reassured me that it would happen again.
Read more: Miscarriage: What happens and where to find support (Yahoo Life UK, 5-min read)
Getting pregnant at 41
And it did. When I was 41 and had almost given up hope, I got pregnant again. I felt it was my final chance because there was no way I wanted to go down the IVF route. I’d seen too many friends end up obsessed and depressed on their IVF journey.
But about three months into the pregnancy I miscarried again and it was horrendous. It happened at work and a colleague found me, collapsed and bleeding on the floor of my office. Somehow I managed to get myself into hospital where the bleeding stopped and I was operated on.
But waking up after the operation it was like a light had come on. I knew that I didn’t want to put my body – or my emotions - through that again. I also knew that I didn’t want to be in my relationship, which had completely broken down. He clearly didn’t want children and had his own problems that were bringing me down. I couldn’t do this any longer.
I miscarried again and it was horrendous.
It was a terrifying and heartbreaking decision to make but I knew it was the right thing. Bringing a baby into my life right now wouldn’t be fair on anyone. But where to start?
First of all I started looking for a change of career and found a well-paid corporate job so I could save money. I don’t think my partner ever thought I was serious about leaving him but when I was finally able to afford it, I moved to a beautiful rented cottage and took our dog, Tesni with me. It felt incredibly liberating.
Read more: My marriage ended six weeks after my miscarriage - Yahoo Life UK, 9-min read
I lived on my own, perfectly happy with my new found freedom and taking the Tesni for walks every day. I felt brave and secure and was growing in confidence. Two years passed and I felt it was time for me to ‘get out’ and see people again.
Dating again after a 25-year relationship
I met Jamie on 4 January 2019 via a dating app. Having been in a 25-year-relationship I was wary about dating again and in fact, when I met him for the first time, I actually thought he was quite cocky and he decided I was bossy. But we liked each other ‘as friends’ and met up a few more times until one day, a few weeks later, he came round for dinner and never really left.
I knew that he didn’t want children and by now, I was in my mid-40s. I had moved beyond that period of my life but it was lovely to meet someone who I could be gooey around babies with, yet without that pressure of other people asking: ‘When are you going to have one?’
People make assumptions about women in their 40s and 50s who don’t have children.
We married in 2021 and now run a networking business called See No Bounds together. We will soon celebrate our anniversary at a festival in Wiltshire with friends and we’re incredibly happy. I’m actually incredibly relieved that I don’t have children with my ex-partner, otherwise I’d have a life-long link to him and have to communicate with him regularly.
So many people make assumptions about women in their 40s and 50s who don’t have children. They assume we couldn’t have them. Or didn’t want them. Neither is true for me and it’s why I want to speak out about it.
Because some women desperately did want children. We dreamed of babies and large families but, for whatever reason, life didn’t take us in that that direction. But that’s okay. I’m proof that you can move on with your life and can still be very happy.