The first time i spoke publicly about IVF was when i was knee deep in the middle of it. I did a documentary on TV 3 with Siobhan Bastible. I was two years in at this stage and was nearly ready to transfer one of my three frozen embryos. The reason I felt it important to speak publicly was for the simple reason I needed something positive to come out of a really crappy situation.
The feeling of isolation going through years of treatment can be crippling. I really felt that I was the only one going through IVF at that time. After doing the documentary and putting my story out there opened the conversation with others on what journey they were on. I soon realised I was not alone on this journey.
So many people said to me that I was brave to be so honest telling my story. I found it hard to understand why people would think it was brave to be honest ? When I showed my vulnerability it was met only with empathy. Women shared their stories with me. It was refreshing to have an open conversation without judgement. Why do we feel there is there judgement surrounding infertility ? Why are we so hard on ourselves when it comes to trying to conceive ? Whether you are peeing on sticks for 6 months or looking at egg donation, my big question is why do we find this so hard to talk about ? And I mean when we are knee deep in it. When we are most vulnerable. When I felt sad numb and vulnerable I know there must be at least another ten women in a fertility clinic feeling the same way I did.
This stage of my journey was when I had finally gotten my 3 embryos but had developed Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). I couldn’t have a fresh transfer and my embryos were frozen. That was the day the plates shifted in my life. Everything seemed different. I thought I would be starting into a pregnancy and planning my maternity leave. I could not move forward with my life as it was because it just wasn’t meant to be like this. I cut down my hours at work and got a dog. I was neurotic about the dog and I will be forever grateful that people let me off and said nothing as I was obsessed with him. But I got myself a pair of wellies and walked the roads. I soaked in Mother Nature and felt the earth under my feet, I slowed down my life and instead of high intensity workouts I lit the fire and put my feet up. I guess I had too many balls juggling in the air and they all fell down. I needed that 6 months to grieve all the losses and to put my well being first before anything else in my life.
Your personal well-being I feel gets lost while doing fertility treatment. I am lucky my acupuncturist half forced me to go to her because I really needed it for my stress levels but it took my very easy going husband to put his foot down and made me take 6 months off from IVF to focus on god Forbid myself.
I feel us women put pressure on ourselves to be the best, have the career the car the holidays the family the house the perfect partner.. the list is different for everyone. So when we are vulnerable our smiles get wider and we get tougher and the suit of armour goes up and amongst other women I feel honestly gets lost. I am not brave for telling my story I am just honest. I am not looking for sympathy I am showing empathy and if I feel a certain way I’m sure there must be other women who feel the same right ?? I respect women’s privacy but I also feel we should have no shame in having a bad day or finding life tough.
I’m not talking just IVF here either. If you are trying to conceive naturally life is tough enough and when you add more pressure on top of more pressure it becomes a ticking time bomb. Remember a problem shared is a problem halved and you never know the person you share this too might just have her own story to tell and she might not feel like she is the only one having a tough day.