Defining Mum

The Vicious Cycle of Infertility – ‘The Only One’ Or ‘One Of Many’?

It’s a vicious cycle – nobody talks about infertility and so you feel like you’re the only person in the world experiencing it, and because you feel alone you don’t say anything, therefore perpetuating the cycle.

“I feel like I’m the only one, everyone seems to get pregnant so easily”

“I felt like I was the only one it was happening to. In that moment, I was the only person in the world to be diagnosed with early menopause at the age of 28.”

Isolation is a direct result of very few people feeling comfortable enough to talk about infertility, which may seem bizarre given that 1 in 6 couples in the UK have direct experience of it. I’ve been surprised by how many people are affected, especially as I remember when I was diagnosed I felt like it was such a rare occurrence and that I was an anomaly, the odd one out. Two things have made me realise that it is so much more common that even the 1 in 6 number suggests.

Firstly, since I launched this blog and openly ‘came out’ about our infertility struggles many people who I have known from school, university, jobs (and even job interviews) have contacted me to say that they too are struggling and feel very much alone.

Secondly, I realised during my NCT classes that we were not alone. In my group of eight lovely ladies, the ratio of us that conceived through IVF was much higher than the ‘1 in 6’. Three of the eight of us had struggled to conceive and half of the group had experienced miscarriage. What it made me realise is that infertility and loss is all around us, we just don’t hear about it because people don’t talk about it.

All we see are everyone else’s perfect lives on social media, not knowing what really goes on behind closed doors. That’s because we don’t tend to talk about the difficult things. Outsiders would have looked at Matt and I and thought we were lucky, we married in June 2015 and were pregnant in October 2015. Quick and easy it would seem. They didn’t see the POF diagnosis, the 5 IVF cycles, the pain and the loss. The same goes with the recent Royal pregnancy announcements, it all seems so very easy. It adds to that feeling of isolation, that you’re the only one that isn’t able follow this perfect fairytale of how life is ‘supposed’ to be.

Recently, Michelle Obama put it perfectly; “I think it’s the worst thing we do as women. Not share the truth about our bodies and how they work.” She has hit the nail on the head – we just don’t share these things. The former First Lady sharing her infertility journey has the potential to change things massively. I just know that the more that iconic women share their struggles, the less isolated we will seem. In the UK, Izzy Judd has also recently opened the conversation by launching the recent podcast ‘Let’s Talk Fertility’. This is something I wished I had available when I was struggling, it would have certainly made me feel less alone.

As for us ‘non-celebrities’, the more we share, the less of a taboo it will become. We can be the pioneers, paving the path for others to feel less alone in the future. I’m by no means saying that you have to open up and talk to the world about your infertility struggles, but what I’m trying to say is that you shouldn’t feel like you can’t talk about it. You might find that if you feel comfortable to open up and share, then you may give this same strength to others. The amount of people that have responded with ‘me too’ when I opened up to them astounded me. Support from fellow people experiencing infertility can be incredibly comforting, after all you can only truly understand how it feels when you have been through it yourself.

Since starting my blog, I have found that there are so many more ways to access support and speak to others who are experiencing similar challenges and emotions. There are 3 that I’d like to share with you.

The first is Social Media – who’d have thought it! You’ll be pleased to know that Social Media isn’t always the enemy when you are Trying To Conceive (TTC), I know some people avoid it like the plague for the (very justified) fear of pregnancy announcements popping up without warning. There are some fantastically supportive women who have built a TTC community on Instagram – you could use your personal account, or set up a separate account if you felt more comfortable, and share journeys with other likeminded ladies. The support and encouragement they provide for each other is incredible – they’re even doing a TTC Christmas Gift Exchange! If you want an introduction into this community simply follow @definingmum on Instagram and send me a direct message – I will then try to connect you with some of these amazing people.

My second recommendation would be to a listen to some of the fertility podcasts – it’s so easy to do on your way to work, at the gym or whilst you’re doing chores around your home. My top recommendations so far would be Alice Rose’s ‘TTC Life Raft’ and Izzy Judd’s ‘Let’s Talk Fertility’ – you will suddenly realise that you’re not the only one and by hearing other stories you may feel more confident to share your own.

My third recommendation would be to check out The Fertility Network UK – they have some fantastic resources and a list of support groups that run throughout the UK. I always wondered why we never spoke to one another in the IVF clinic waiting room. Of all people, those in that room would be best placed to truly understand how others are feeling, they would make a fantastic support group! These support groups are an informal way of chatting to others who are in similar positions at different stages of their journey. I am actually looking to start a local group to me somewhere in Nottinghamshire/Leicestershire in the new year, so if you are interested then please get in touch!

Everyone has a different story, it is sharing these stories that make us feel less alone.

Love, Becky x

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