I don’t know about you but I have met lots of people over the years in different circumstances.
For example, I met my husband when he was guarding a door at a nightclub and I was waiting to get in!
But the meeting I had with Elizabeth Carr, the first IVF baby to be born in the US, has to rank as one of the most unusual and nerve-wracking of my life.
Elizabeth and I have a lot in common. We have both spent our whole lives pursued by the media for the simple reason that we were born!
We have both had to endure endless weird questions from people about the circumstances of our birth; and we have both sat watching a television quiz show and found ourselves the subject of a question – on more than one occasion.
I first properly knew Elizabeth’s name when I was about 10 but, apart from one brief chat over Skype last year, we had never met.
We were both shown films of our birth when we were little children with our parents
We both have world-renowned scientists and experts who we regard as extra grandparents and we both were cover girls on magazines within hours of being born!
The opportunity to meet came about because of the Midwest Reproductive Symposium International held in Chicago, where we were both invited and they thought it would be a good idea to introduce us to eachother live on stage in front of the TV cameras.
So, that is how we met. Elizabeth and I were hidden in separate rooms while someone sang the American national anthem; then a group of children sang the Greek National Anthem (the Symposium had a Greek theme) and then after a tear-jerking film about my birth I walked the length of a ballroom while 200 people applauded.
Next, Elizabeth did the walk and after squinting into the bright spotlights I eventually saw her smiling face and we hugged – a lot less awkwardly than you might imagine.
There were tears. A lot of laughter. Our first chat together was with a television presenter mediating between us!
Another strange episode for both of us in our unusual lives. Then we were both whisked away for more media interviews and we had some time to get to know each other properly, and I must say Elizabeth is a great person, who I got on with really well.
Both of us now feel that, although we never asked to be in this position, we might as well use the media interest to help raise awareness of infertility issues.
If just by talking about IVF and being at events we can give childless families hope – then why not do it? Personally, I feel it is one way I can honour the memory of my parents.
You might think that travelling to Chicago to meet someone for the first time in front of hundreds of other people would be the wackiest thing to happen this month. But no, the Midwest Reproductive Symposium had one more surprise.
Aware that I would be back home for my birthday in July they decided to celebrate it a month early and surprise me with several hundred Americans singing “Happy Birthday” and then present me with a giant cake decorated with pictures of sperm! Being the world’s first IVF baby can get pretty strange sometimes, but amazing experiences and meeting lovely people.
In all seriousness we had the most wonderful welcome in Chicago and met some lovely people.
Amazing doctors, embryologists and nurses who are doing great work to help combat infertility.
It was lovely to meet them all – and bump into my friends from IVF babble too – a great event that will live long in my memory.