Since the first IVF baby was born in 1978, IVF and assisted reproduction techniques have helped hundreds of thousands of people become parents. Around one in 6 couples in the UK have difficulties conceiving for a whole host of reasons, and we have seen a rise in IVF over recent years.
Most of us probably have know someone close to us who has been through problems conceiving, but often the heartache and physical impact of IVF is not seen. Sunita Harley, Founder of Lucky Things, has openly spoken about her IVF experiences and invited others to talk about their own journeys to demystify the process for others. I asked her what one thing she would say to new parents or parents-to-be: “Always speak to your trusted friends about your anxieties”
Going through IVF is something I never though I’d need to do. It was a rollercoaster journey, that’s for sure. Whether you have to do IVF or not, infertility anxiety affects so many of us. It’s like a handbag that feels too heavy to carry but you have to keep lugging it around. The physical aspect of infertility has a huge impact on our mental wellbeing. It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying for your first, second or third child.
Every day I look at my two girls and still wonder how they got here. I know that sounds obvious to many but the scientific wonders of IVF still amazes me. I was never a fan of science growing up. Science actually gave us a chance to be parents and IVF worked for us (twice). We were told there would be around a 10% chance of our IVF working as we could only do natural IVF (so they can only try and find one egg). It was our only way of becoming parents.
I still remember those feelings of infertility anxiety. They create knots in my stomach. They come back every time I hear someone’s trying for a baby or had to go through the trauma and heartbreak of miscarriage. I remember the questions that go around and around in your head and your heart. Will I ever become a mum? Why me? Will I be able to give my mum some grandchildren to hang out with? What happens if we don’t become parents? What does life look like when your dream isn’t possible? Nothing can take away these feelings. No words of support can change how you feel. It’s real and for me, nothing could replace the parenthood dream. Looking back, here’s three things I did to help deal with my infertility anxiety. They couldn’t change our situation but they helped me to focus on trying.
Talking to a few trusted friends…I had two school mates who also had to go through IVF. One of them even coached me through doing the injections when we started. I wish I talked about it with more people but I felt super private and even embarrassed we were doing IVF. Growing up in a high-achieving and status-focused culture probably didn’t help. The classic South Asian cultural saying “what would people think?” probably helped to make me feel ashamed that I couldn’t have babies the normal way. I don’t want anything else to feel embarrassed like I did though. IVF is definitely about being brave, resilience, strength, exploring options and taking bold steps to see if and how your dream could be possible.
Knowing every fertility story is different…It was only when I told more people we did IVF that I heard more IVF stories. It was more common that I’d realised. When we arrived at the clinic, Mr.H always commented how everyone seemed similar to us. We may have been from different backgrounds but we all seemed to be in our mid-thirties and career minded people. Every infertility story is different though. Each journey is unique and has to go through painful ups and downs. Many have different outcomes so you can never know exactly how someone else feels or felt about their infertility journey. One thing we do have in common though is that it’s not just us. There is also someone else wanting the same thing as you. Find something that works for you and helps you to manage your fertility or parenting anxiety.
Music has always been a healer and energy booster for me. So it made sense that we made a playlist for the morning and evening routine for organising each of my 362 injections.
You can pop over to Sunita’s blog Lucky Things to read more about their IVF journey.