There were two Social Media campaigns run recently that I got involved with, miscarriage awareness week and fertility week. I had a look through all the posts linked with the relevant hashtags and read many honest and open stories. Stories from women who are desperate for a child, who have various problems that prevent them from having one naturally and whose only option is assisted help. Afterwards I had a bit of a lightbulb moment (well for me it’s more like someone slowly turning a switch on and off, repeatedly, for a long time) I realised that in hindsight we bowled headlong into IVF when we didn’t need to. There is nothing wrong with my husband or I per se. We easily conceived our first child we just frustratingly can’t conceive a second. We have unexplained secondary infertility. My point being that I realised we didn’t have to have IVF – we chose to have it. Now that I know what a stress and strain IVF is, I think (we both think) I wish we had waited before going down that route. There were perhaps other avenues we could have explored before IVF. Hindsight eh. Off the back of this lightbulb ping I was pondering about what I wish I could rewind the clock for and go back and tell myself. Here are six things that I wish had been on my radar four years ago.
Infertility has frustratingly defined how I have felt over the last three years. It’s something you can’t really control and that’s quite hard to accept. You can eat well, exercise, take supplements or medication if you have something specifically wrong with you but you can’t physically control whether or not you get pregnant, it’s down to science. It’s completely out of your hands and at times I’ve felt incredibly helpless about it all. Couple this with IVF stress and a miscarriage and it’s all been a bit much, but recently there has been a shift, something has happened and I feel like I’ve turned a bit of a corner. I feel like some of the old me has returned. I feel like I’ve taken back some control and it’s like a small weight has been lifted.
In the last three years, I’ve found myself seeing and wishing on all the signs possible. Be it a clear blue sky, a shooting star (yep, I’ve seen one in this time), a lone floating dandelion seed, a perfect shaped cloud, I’ve seen and I’ve wished on them all, and yet, I still find myself stuck in an eternal groundhog cycle. The same pattern of roller-coaster emotions every month. I get my period, I despair, then I have hope during the fertile window, then there’s the horrendous two week wait, then I get pains, signals, signs, I wish, I am pessimistic but I hope and then, as always, my period comes. This on repeat for the last three years.
I have been sharing my fertility struggles for a while now over on Instagram and am always amazed by the love and support I get from women I’ve never met. I’ve had some wonderful messages of encouragement and sharing of stories, just from a post about what is happening with me. There is something incredibly powerful in this I think. A few months ago, after our failed frozen round I discovered there an actual (actual real life!) #TTC (trying to conceive) community on there, and after much searching and connecting with various people in similar situations, I came across Alice Rose.
I thought for a long while on how I could introduce Alice on here, because she doesn’t have a title as such, but she doesn’t really need one because just know that she is most definitely someone who is making waves on social media (namely Instagram) with her positive attitude covering the emotive topic of fertility problems and baby loss. Alice hosted an intimate event in London recently that I had the pleasure of going along to. Despite the intense summer heat (think a room full of women with humidity hair) Alice gave a brilliant talk about her life and how she found she wasn’t coping very well when she discovered that she couldn’t easily conceive or deal with the subsequent, ever stressful IVF treatment. She shared the tools she has, and is still using to help her cope day by day with these issues. I came away from her talk believing I could make some positive changes in my life. Her blog tag says, ‘I am on a mission to empower people during one of the hardest experiences in the world: a fertility struggle’, I caught up with her to find out a bit more about this mission of hers.
When my husband and I decided to try the IVF route, we always knew that we would need to fund it ourselves. Having had one natural daughter already, despite struggling with Secondary Infertility we were not (are not) eligible for any treatment on the NHS. We are lucky in that, we have been able to pay for ourselves to date, but having only had one fresh round and two other versions of IVF, our bill already nudges near £16,000 which is eye wateringly expensive. Anyone I know who has undergone IVF has either paid for it themselves or received it for free, but what about, and this is something I’d not really considered before, those who simply live in the wrong area, or who are denied treatment? What are they supposed to do?