On July 5th 2017 I was interviewed by Sofia Pacifico of “Increase Your Social Media Reach” the reality of coming to terms with unresolved infertility. Unfortunately the quality of the audio was not brilliant: understatement of the year! To make it easier for people to listen I have recorded the following videos where I recount what I said in answer to Sofia’s questions.
Infertility: our story
The first question that Sofia asked was that I shared some of our story so people could start to get to know me and put some of the things that I was going to talk about into context. I couldn’t remember initially what year Andrew and I first met: I eventually gave the correct year of 2002. They say the definition of an expert is “a drip under pressure” … I certainly was at that point!
Infertility and the realising it was all over
This was actually fairly hard to answer because of the way we stopped trying to conceive (ttc). If was out of our control so it sort of “just happened” rather than it being a conscious decision. I think this may have had repercussions on how we moved forward, or I should more accurately say failed to move forward initially.
Infertility and adoption
“Why don’t you adopt?” is a regular question when people hear you haven’t been able to have children. It’s as if people believe that adoption (or IVF) is ALWAYS the solution. This is not the case.
Infertility and support from your partner
Support from your partner is vital. What support is needed will depend on a number of things including gender. Men and woman are different: bit of a bombshell that I know! Generally, we deal with situations in different ways: however, there are also differences within the genders depending on an individual’s personality and circumstances.
Infertility support from family and friends
Unfortunately, practically everyone I have talked to about support from family and friends have said that it has not been enough. Looking on the bright side much of the support that we need is very easy to give as I explain here.
In the video I said that I would include the infertility statistics in the written content as I couldn’t remember all of the figures.
Infertility impacts every aspect of your life
For many people infertility is a roller coaster of emotions as we lunge from “bad days” to “good days” and back again. Whilst I think this is a good analogy I think a better one is that living with infertility is like living in a game of “Snakes and Ladders” will a dose of Hogwart’s Wizardry thrown in to add to the struggles.
Support from the infertility “community”
Belonging to a community of people who totally understand what you are going through is important. Even the most empathetic of friends will not “get it” completely unless they have also struggled to conceive. Even then it is no guarantee of excellent support as once they have finally had their baby they often forget how much infertility sucks.
As promised in the video here are the correct names and links to the Facebook groups that I belong to and recommend. There are other groups on Facebook and also accessed via individual websites: however, as I don’t belong to these I can’t recommend them. There are also some great groups in the “physical world” rather than on-line. When you search on the Internet for “Infertility Support Groups” before you join any you will probably want to find out if they allow “ttc talk” (trying to conceive). Depending on where you are in your journey “ttc talk” will either be really helpful to you or could be a trigger. When you ask to join these groups, you will probably be asked some questions before your request to join is approved. This is to ensure that everyone in the group know the group rules and is a “good fit”.
Walking Forward Inspirational Network (the name changed after I recorded the video)
Infertility and what we need to grieve for
A better question would be “What DON’T you need to grieve for?” because infertility can wreak havoc in every aspect of a person’s life. Some of this will probably be excepted: however, there might be a few things that surprise you.
Infertility and the importance of compassion
We have “good days” and we have “bad days”. On the “good days” we might be able to go to a baby shower, smile, be happy for the mum-to-be and even enjoy ourselves. However, on a “bad day” the strain can be too much. We know how much we can cope with. When we are struggling it is important that people accept decisions we make to not attend such events. This is not us being selfish, it is self-preservation. Compassion is needed at these times and not people pressurising us or making us feel guilty.
Infertility and some final advice in a nutshell
At the end of the interview Sofia asked me if I could bundle everything I’d said into one piece of advice. I was cheeky and gave two pieces of advice. One for people who are struggling to come to terms with their situation and the other for people who don’t know how to help their infertile friend. As promised in the video I’m writing the key points here.
If you are struggling to come to terms with infertility it WILL get easier. I can’t tell you when or how long it will take. However, eventually the “bad days” won’t be as deep or as black and the “good days” will be of better quality and hang around for longer. This is progress. The pain may never fully leave you: however, infertility will eventually be what you have and not define you totally. This is my hope for you.
If you are wondering how to support someone who is dealing with infertility here are my three key points to remember:
- Don’t attempt to FIX us. That is what we have doctors and specialist for.
- Don’t give ADVICE. We will have done far more research on a subject than you plus you don’t know our situation 100%. If you have never struggled to conceive you don’t know what it is like no matter how much you strive to.
- You have TWO ears and ONE mouth: use them in that ratio. LISTEN far more than you talk.
The last thing I want to say is ASK! I’ve left this to the end so it is the last thing you read. Everyone is different. What was supportive for me might not be supportive for someone else. The most important thing you can say is “What can I do to help you?” or “How can I support you?” Be prepared for tears as very few people every say this. Finally if you want to find out more about IVF or adoption so that you can understand and be more supportive please ASK the person if they are willing to talk. If they are that is brilliant: however, remember that they have said YES on THIS occasion! If they don’t feel up to it please respect their feelings.