It’s a #CryingShame that those experiencing infertility often feel they need to hide their pain and ‘put on a brave face’ due to a lack of awareness and support.
Many of us have come across people (usually someone lucky enough not to have experienced infertility) showing a complete lack of understanding and empathy. They’re unable to recognise the magnitude of what you are feeling because it isn’t visible or tangible. It made me feel as though my feelings were an over-reaction, that I wasn’t normal for hurting as deeply as I did. It’s why many people choose to hide their fertility struggles, they feel ashamed as often it isn’t recognised as a ‘big deal’ by society and is part of the reason why support seems to be so lacking.
At the fertility clinic, where you would expect there to be heaps of support available, I remember leaving my first consultation feeling overwhelmed, rushed and totally out of my depth. As treatment progressed I was lucky to find some friendly, empathetic nurses whose kindness and support was greatly appreciated but spread so thinly across many patients. There was the offer of counselling (only mentioned after my miscarriage) but after a particularly disappointing session I was left feeling like I had limited options available to me for support.
At the time, what I didn’t understand was the sheer magnitude of what we were going through. Because most people seem to keep details of fertility struggles to themselves, it can appear that they are coping perfectly well, being able to balance their fertility appointments with the rest of their lives. Just like the well-known swan analogy, it left me feeling like I had to appear calm on the surface, whereas underneath I was frantically pedalling my legs, trying not to sink into the depths of grief, being all-consumed by my infertility. I also felt overwhelming guilt for letting people down at work as I juggled the many appointments and absence due to pregnancy loss, stress and anxiety.
What I don’t think many people realise is just how impactful these struggles can be which is why the right support is so important, which is what Fertility Network UK are aiming to provide.
Back when I was struggling, I would have loved to have known about the support Fertility Network UK are offering – UK wide support groups, a chance to speak to peers and an organisation that recognises the magnitude of emotions involved with fertility treatment as one of the hardest things couples may have to face. FNUK do a great job with their volunteers to provide local support groups, but with extra funds they could reach so many more with one to one support. As a volunteer myself, I know that there is great benefit from the support groups that FNUK help facilitate, with many coming away feeling like “a weight has been lifted” and “relief to just spend time with those who truly get it”. Support like this is invaluable and it’s a #cryingshame that it isn’t more widely spread and available to all, right from the beginning.
Given my experience and the work I do now, I’m so passionate about the work that FNUK do as a charity supporting those facing infertility. That’s why I’m donating and calling on as many of you as possible to also donate to support this fantastic cause. This August, FNUK have launched their #CryingShame 30 for 30 campaign, which is to raise £30,000 in 30 days so that they can carry on providing exceptional services to people in need, and help to reach 3000 People with advice, support and information when they need it most. To donate just follow the link ibelow and please share to reach as many people as possible. Thank you.