Last month I was admiring a necklace in a local jewellery shop when my phone rang. I froze when I saw the name: Rachel*, my only child.

We'd always been close but I turned my mobile off. I knew she'd ask where I was and I couldn't face another argument.

Rachel and I used to be great shopping partners, but over the past two years, she has started to comment disapprovingly on my spending, which I resent.

I worked hard for over 30 years, building my business and saving as much as I could into my pension, while my husband Edward* put in long hours as an accountant.

Advertisement

Our dream was to have a comfortable, if indulgent, retirement.

The daughter wanted the money her parents had saved for their retirement to fund her IVF. Photo / Getty Images
The daughter wanted the money her parents had saved for their retirement to fund her IVF. Photo / Getty Images

Since stopping work five years ago, we've enjoyed cruises, trips to New York, I bought a convertible and we redecorated our kitchen.

Yet according to Rachel, our funds should pay for IVF and help her to have a second baby.

Rachel has struggled with endometriosis since her teens and when she and her husband Tom* failed to conceive, I was devastated for them. I also empathised. When I was 22, I was told I had the same condition.

It can be harder for women with endometriosis to conceive than women without the condition. Photo / Getty Images
It can be harder for women with endometriosis to conceive than women without the condition. Photo / Getty Images

In those days, fertility treatment wasn't an option and you accepted the cards life dealt you. So when I had Rachel, I felt blessed.

Rachel and Tom were less fortunate. When they were offered NHS fertility treatment, Rachel left her job, concerned that the stress could affect the chances of her getting pregnant.

Tom, a teacher, couldn't attend every IVF appointment so I was by her side. When my granddaughter Sophia* finally arrived, I fell in love with her.

We live in the same Devon village and would see each other every week. I took it for granted that nothing would break our close family bond.

Then on Sophia's second birthday Rachel told me she was thinking of trying for another baby.

"Darling that's wonderful," I replied, not thinking of the practicalities. She then explained they weren't eligible for more IVF on the NHS.

"Mum, we're going to need to pay for fertility treatment. Can you help?" I wish I had bitten my tongue. I knew little about private IVF, only that it cost thousands.

"I'm not sure we can," I said. Rachel burst into tears, accusing me of spending thousands on the kitchen. "That money could have bought you another grandchild!" I told her never to speak to me like that again.

We didn't talk for six weeks. I missed her desperately, but wouldn't tolerate being bullied. The only contact came through Tom, who was extremely embarrassed and Edward, who wouldn't get involved – he hates confrontation.

Many of my friends agreed. Others thought I should help Rachel. But the more I thought about it, the firmer I felt. Rachel had had an idyllic childhood and always got what she wanted, from her first car to the deposit for a house.

Meanwhile, Edward and I had worked hard and planned for our dream retirement. Giving up our plans to help them achieve their dream felt wrong.

A few weeks after the argument, Rachel and I bumped into each other in the street and collapsed into a hug. I was so relieved to have her back in my life. But two years on, our relationship is still fragile. We avoid the subject, so I don't even know if she's planning fertility treatment. Much as I adore my daughter, I can't help feeling disappointed in her. I was happy with one child. Why can't she accept the same?