I feel like there is so much publicity surrounding infertility and IVF at the moment and this makes me very happy. Firstly because the reality of infertility needs to be more recognised and understood and secondly because it has always helped me personally when I am struggling to be able to read/see others who I can relate to and not feel so alone. Following on from the #relaxgate debacle last week and with it being National Infertility Awareness week there has been a wave of media attention and I think this is brilliant. So I wanted to write about my reality of infertility and I can’t promise it is going to be pretty.
So where do I start? I can’t tell our whole story within 1000 words on this blog post but let’s start with the numbers. Since 2014 when we first started our fertility journey we have spent in the region of £20,000. What is so frightening is that number, compared to what some couples spend is a mere drop in the ocean. When I look at that number I feel a mix of emotions. Firstly I feel extremely privileged that we have been able to afford to spend that amount of money on trying to have a baby. Fertility funding in my area was cut last year so really we would have no choice but to go private now and it literally breaks my heart thinking of those couples due to the postcode lottery have to borrow, desperately save or just accept they can’t have fertility treatment and give up on their dream to have a baby. Those who believe fertility treatment is a luxury and shouldn’t be available on the NHS really don’t understand. Which is why I am so thankful for the media exposure recently so everyone can have a much more informed understanding of infertility both mentally and financially.
Secondly I feel sad when I look at that figure. Because behind it is so much more than money. That’s £20,000 spent on my mental health and not in a good way. I’ve experienced every single emotion on our journey and quite frankly I don’t feel stronger because of it. Research published on the impact of fertility issues from Middlesex University and The Fertility Network UK show 90% reported feeling depressed and 42% experienced suicidal feelings when struggling with infertility. This is the reality of how emotionally you feel the impact. The first 7/8 rounds of unsuccessful treatment we went through were hard. We survived them, JUST. I was working full-time keeping busy and both Phil and I tried to our enjoy time as a newly married couple even though we longed so desperately for children. I watched many friends get pregnant around me, I also watched what felt like the world fall pregnant whilst we were still trying.
So continuing with the emotional toll of infertility. When we started IVF the pressure and fear got to me but we were incredibly lucky to conceive our son on our first attempt. Should we have stopped there? Should we just accept that this is more than some brave couples will experience? Then we found out I was pregnant naturally when our son was 11 months old I felt like the luckiest person in the world. Maybe we would get our happy ending and I wouldn’t have to endure anymore fertility treatment? But that wasn’t meant to be and I added a new dimension to our fertility journey with baby loss. How incredible cruel Mother Nature can be. Passing through my pregnancy was horrific. I am sorry, but I can’t say it any other way. Something that will stay with me forever.
Deciding to step back on the IVF train was hard but fuelled by the pain of loosing our natural pregnancy we moved on to a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) and it was really just another round of IVF excluding the egg collection. I think it is hard for others around you to understand what this is like and I struggled to keep up with seeing friends and doing things I enjoyed. The truth is you struggle. You struggle with how the drugs make you feel and you struggle to keep up with all the appointments. Scans, blood tests, injections, hormones, they all take their toll. I like most women on the IVF train injected every 12 hours and even that daily schedule is overwhelming and ghastly. Infuriated with those around me that didn’t ask how I was and then infuriated when they did. It’s a loose loose situation.
The second miscarriage was just as devastating, if not more because of everything we had done to even get to that stage. The whole abhorrent time feeling isolated and blaming myself as to why I could now not carry another pregnancy. I hope I don’t need to say how grateful, appreciative and forever thankful I am for our son. I hope who ever reads this doesn’t think I take motherhood for granted or that I am being greedy. I just want to try to open the door and expose how hard it is to struggle to concieve a baby (whether that’s your first, second or third child) and having to endure so much pain physically, mentally and financially to get there. Something I am still struggling with to this day.
Infertility isn’t just a word to describe the inability to conceive children, it can be a world of heartache, fear, loss and extreme isolation. Please, please take the time to read some of the information that is filling our media platforms at present. The Fertility Network is such a great source of information for understanding fertility, you can check them out here. I have discovered such a wonderful supportive community and I can’t recommend enough the power of reaching out when you need some help. So I am doing my bit to break the silence and spread the word for #NIAW and I hope others do too. It is more than ok to talk about, and is nothing to feel ashamed of. We really are #strongertogether
*Disclaimer* Today’s post is heavily fuelled by lots of wonderful hormones that are currently being pumped into my body. Hence the slightly angry tone. Soz.