Category Archives: Infertility

You are not alone

It’s National Fertility Awareness Week in the US this week and the Secondary Infertility Facebook pages are full of girls wanting to raise the profile of both Infertility and Secondary Infertility.  It was pleasing (in some ways) to se that the national organisation was using the strapline ‘You are not alone’ as their campaign message.  This was the exact same message I wanted to get across when I realised my situation had a name and knew that there must be others who like me had felt so alone, so isolated in my ill-placed feelings of guilt and greed at wanting a second child, that I began writing my book.

Indeed, after a recent Facebook post a friend of a friend wrote that they gave up reading after realising I already had a child as his ‘wife and I can’t have kids so I have little sympathy’.  It was a feeling and response I completely understood but one that precisely sums up the unfortunate predicament of anyone suffering infertility trying for a second child – there is little understanding from those who have children and never struggled and little sympathy from those who are still trying or unable to conceive a first. 

I was never really looking for sympathy, perhaps a little empathy, but mostly a feeling that it was OK to say how shit and sad I felt without criticism or snide remarks.  This gentleman did in fact read on and come back to say he eventually did understand and that we all had pain just in different places.

A lovely response from Infertility Network UK today said that contact with patients showed that the pain of secondary infertility has a huge impact on their lives and that whilst statistics are hard to gather they believe approx 5% of the UK population are affected by Secondary Infertility.

The fact is, Infertility is Infertility.  I had the same desire, needs, cravings, longings, pain, effort in trying, relationship crisis, sadness and despair as anyone wanting a first child.  However, because I had my son I had no escape from that misery.  I couldn’t go off for a weekend with adult couple friends, I couldn’t escape baby groups, I couldn’t get away from childrens’ TV programmes, I had an empty nursery to torment me, I put away baby clothes not knowing whether to keep hold of my favourites and I had a little boy grilling me to answer countless questions about why he didn’t have a brother or sister.  

I will be the very first in line to say I am lucky.  I was blessed with my son.  But I will look anyone in the whites of the eyes who dare defy the pain that Secondary Infertility causes and question whether anyone should be vocal about those feelings.  For those who understand no explanation is needed.  For those who don’t understand, no explanation is possible. 

The shame of SI is that whilst a study in the Lancet a few years ago suggests that approx 10% of the worldwide population suffers from SI at one time or another, there are just tens of girls on the SI groups in the US and I can’t find any for the UK!  Tens of girls!!?  Girls with SI feel alone, feel shame and feel they cannot talk about it.  In fact I’m pretty sure countless don’t even know the expression such is the stigma of the condition.

They are not alone. You are not alone. So pick up the mantra of the US Fertility Week and if you know a friend or family member that is trying for a second child, lead her towards a friendly group, allow her to talk and help convince her she is not alone, she should not feel guilty and she should never give up hope.  #walktogether

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Kim Kardashian – the perfect case study? Discuss.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2904061/I-want-baby-bad-s-not-happening-Kim-Kardshian-struggle-conceive-second-child-husband-Kanye-West.html

Could it possibly be that as well as being an icon for all things voluptuous for women, Kim Kardashian West is also in fact a celebrity who perfectly represents Secondary Infertility?  Just like the majority of other women desperate for a second child, I have no doubt at all that Kim has never actually searched the term ‘Secondary Infertility’ on Google, but having come across this recent article I’m pretty sure she is familiar with the pain, frustration and confusion associated with her desire, and apparent failure, to produce a sibling for North.

She personifies all that plays with the mind of any mother who wants another child and feels guilty for doing so, knowing she is already so lucky.  A good friend of mine, who has undergone three unsuccessful IVF attempts in trying for her second child, recently spoke to me about how she was reminding herself constantly how lucky she was to have her son and was focussing on all that was great about her life.  She already had so much, a child, loving husband, comfortable lifestyle, nice holidays and treats and so her list went on as she tried to put her desire into perspective.  She is “lucky”. And yet, deep down, she doesn’t feel lucky at all as she battles daily with the reminder that her longing for another child is unfulfilled.

Currently I have two friends battling the life limiting illness MND, I have a friend with four year old twins struggling through chemotherapy fighting breast cancer and I have a very dear friend whose beloved 21 month old baby girl is battling a brain condition that gives hourly cause for concern and worry.  When I think about any of these terrible situations, it’s easy to look at what you have and feel lucky for all that you are blessed with.  Each provides a good dose of perspective that gets you through any challenge.

And yet, I know only too well that when you are in the midst of the world of confusion and anger that is Secondary Infertility, amidst all the emotions that comes with it, perspective is one that is all too often lacking.  You just can’t find perspective in your situation.  Try as you might, knowing you should, you still find it very difficult to look at all you have and flick off that switch of desire for something else.

You find it almost impossible to find satisfaction in people around you, material goods, life experiences because the big, ugly, painful truth is you want and need something more. It is always there staring you in the face in any situation you find yourself in.  That pain isn’t so much that you don’t have a baby, it’s more that your body isn’t functioning as it should, or as everyone else’s is, to produce that child.  It’s the knowledge that often others are questioning why your body isn’t producing a child and the shame that comes with that.

What’s more, it is the burden of guilt that you carry knowing you have so much, you are so blessed in so many ways and you should be completely happy, but that your heart won’t allow it.

So for the woman who is adored and envied the world over, how big must her daily dose of guilt burger be right now?  A popstar husband, huge wealth and fame, loving family and of course her beautiful daughter, North, she appears to have it all.

How easy is it for anyone reading this article to dismiss her anguish with a “What more could she possibly want, she should be grateful for everything she’s got, greedy cow!”  How much is enough?  How little do you need to have for both you and others to think it’s OK to want more, to want another child?  The truth is, you could have nothing and still there will always be someone, probably yourself, who will say that you are lucky to be alive and should count your blessings for every breath.  The real truth is, no matter what life has thrown at you or blessed you with, you should never, ever feel guilty for wanting another child and there are thousands of women like you the world over.  You should not be ashamed.  You are not alone.   Good luck Kim.  x

Big love to all my friends and their families through all their battles and good luck to you all x

Most couples will try anything!

So today, 22 January, is officially the day most New Years Resolutions are given up.  I’ve long since given up giving up things for the New Year as without a goal I’m not very good at maintaining them, so I guess I’d be one of the ones falling by the wayside today, had I tried in 2015.

It’s amazing how a goal can focus the mind and body and spur you on to change your habits and your attitude towards something you once loved.  When I knew we wanted another child it was the easiest thing in the world for me to adapt my diet, give up alcohol and keep myself fit and healthy. It was actually empowering as it was one of the few things I had control of.  It wasn’t an option to give up, to quit or to even ignore the advice to try to get my body in the best possible condition to nurture an embryo.

For some though, it’s still not so easy.  Even with the quest for another child so important to them, giving up alcohol, smoking or losing weight still proves really tricky.  Of course none of these will get you pregnant but to my mind, if anything could help improve the condition of my body to help get me pregnant and retain that pregnancy, then I wanted to be able to look into the whites of both mine and Jason’s eyes and say “I did all that I could do.”  When that still wasn’t enough, it hurt like hell, made me angry and for a moment I believed all the effort and sacrifice had been futile.  But of course, they weren’t.  They weren’t the be all and end all, but a healthy body is certainly a positive contributor to enabling it to function in the way it was designed for sure.

And so, to anyone teetering today, tempted by a glass of wine, extra sugar in their tea or a tasty cream bun, remember your end goal.  You can do it and you will feel good knowing you have done all that you could do, whatever your outcome, be it fertility or otherwise.  Take control, be strong in mind and body and don’t fall foul of the 22 January curse.  Good luck! xx

 

 

Let’s Remember to Talk x

From Remembrance Day and National Duvet Day to Stoptober and Movember, there’s always a day or week set aside to remember, celebrate or raise awareness of one thing or another.  It is really pleasing to see so many poppies popping up at the moment, in fact Zac was really proud to buy his and pin it on his jumper in the playground this morning.  I’m a great supporter of the Poppy Appeal and all it represents.  Yet there has been another significant event for me last week, Fertility Awareness Week.  More than 3.5 million people in the UK alone experience fertility problems when trying for children – that’s one in six couples.  When you stop to think, that’s not all couples, that’s one in six of those trying for children, so that’s a heck of a lot.  More than I thought in fact.

Launching my book’s website the weekend of the start of Fertility Awareness Week, to be honest, wasn’t a complete coincidence.  Whilst it wasn’t something I felt ready to ride on the back of, as I am still a little way off publishing, in my own private way it was important for me to help with one of the main aims, and that was to get more people talking about fertility issues.

This last week it has been terrific to see so many interviews and features about options available for people, details about the impact infertility can have on people’s lives and honest interviews with well known faces who are brave enough to talk about their journey, to millions of readers or viewers.

“I struggled to conceive my first child and I needed fertility drugs.  I had a much harder struggle to conceive a second child and had four rounds of IVF.  I was very fortunate and we now have three gorgeous, healthy children as our fourth round of IVF produced twins.  I couldn’t do it alone.  I needed help.  I had IVF.”

There, I’ve said it.  I can say it now.  I find myself saying it often these as I know it brings comfort to many people who are in the situation we were in and I know the comfort I found from speaking to others at that time.  Yet there was a time where I felt shame, guilt, failure and a deep, dark feeling of bereavement at times for something I felt I’d lost, my capability as a woman.  In those days I could never have said those words.

Like a crutch for a broken leg, an anti-inflammatory for a bruised muscle or anti-biotic for an dental abscess – sometimes other parts of the body need some help too and there should simply be no shame in talking about it.  On a par with depression, infertility should not be a taboo and we should encourage a society that embraces those that sometimes need our support as their crutch through a difficult time. That crutch can sometimes be just talking without judgement.

So well done to all those who encouraged people to talk about their fertility situations last week and long may it continue beyond 2014’s Fertility Awareness week!  Let’s talk.