Ruth Davidson has described undergoing IVF as “invasive, joyous, mortifying, fearful and hopeful” and admitted she faced a “particular challenge” in trying to become pregnant while remaining at the helm of a political party.
The Scottish Conservatives leader and her partner Jen Wilson are expecting their first child next month. If it is a girl, the couple intend to name her Fionnuala.
She is the first woman in the UK to start a family and take maternity leave while leading a political party.
Writing in detail for the first time about her pregnancy and wish to become a mother, Ms Davidson said that, although she always thought she would “quite like” to have children one day, discovering she had a family history of early onset menopause a few years ago forced her to make a choice.
In an extract from her forthcoming book, Yes She Can: Why Women Own the Future, Ms Davidson said the process of combining her day job with her desire to start a family led to some “interesting situations,” recalling how she once “stabbed” herself in the stomach with hormone injections at Geneva airport en route to the World Economic Forum in Davos.
She added: “There is also a particular challenge in trying discreetly to sort out the various appointments and treatments, while keeping up the pace of political leadership, so no one suspects that anything’s going on.”
Ms Davidson also revealed that, while her embroyologist suggested she return to
office after the implantation procedure, she instead decided to “jump on a plane to Afghanistan,” referring to a trip where she learned about landmine clearance techniques with the HALO Trust charity.
The 39-year-old, tipped in some quarters as a successor to Theresa May, said she had “no idea” about how changing family responsibilities will affect they way she does her job, but expressed hope that the “overwhelmingly positive” reaction to her pregnancy would help female political leaders in the future. In the extract, published in The Sunday Times Scotland, she wrote: “Perhaps this will make it easier and less remarkable for future female political leaders to start a family during their period in office, as well as showing that society is far less prescriptive – and far more accepting – of the different choices women make.”
Ms Davidson, who worked as a BBC Radio Scotland presenter in her twenties, also revealed how she walked out of negotiations over her pay with the BBC because she was being offered far less than her male co-presenter. She recalled: “It was more than a third greater than I was earning for the same role. Granted, he had been there a couple of years longer, but that was still a big difference.”