Last week was an interesting one for me. I appeared on live BBC radio talking about blogging and we touched on my pre and post-IVF anxieties. The BBC radio presenter Shazia Awan also mentioned my Will we tell our children they’re IVF babies? blog featured as Mumsnet Blog of the Day. One of the things I’ve been pretty honest about when writing and talking about our IVF journey is how I felt about having to do IVF. I felt ashamed. Looking back, I wonder if I could have felt differently and what would have changed this for me. I hope others who are thinking about IVF or going through it don’t feel ashamed like I did. If they do, I totally get why. So here’s a few thoughts on what could have stopped me feeling ashamed about doing IVF.
Knowing that doing IVF is a very normal thing…When I found out we needed to do IVF, I had now idea how common it was. Mr.H is a master at researching so he was great looking at statistics and the official success rates from IVF clinics. After a gynae operation which would change my life and chances of becoming a mother, I received a call from one of my favourite Uncles in Mauritius. He told me how IVF was really common in Sweden. I’m not sure if his reassurances sunk in. At the time, I only knew of two people who did IVF. Maybe if I’d read up more on other people’s experiences I would have realised that IVF was super-common; more common than we all realise.
Understanding that IVF is just one of many fertility treatments…In February, as a blogger known for our IVF blog posts, I was invited to visit the new IVI clinic on Harley Street in London. I heard the medical director of the clinic, Tony Rutherford, talk through all of the different fertility treatment options. It was a real eye-opener. When we found out IVF was the only option for us, maybe if I learnt a bit more about the other treatments available this would have given me more hope. At the time, we had to focus our emotional energy focusing on the one option for us.
Speaking up and being open about our IVF plans…We mentioned it to a few friends and family members but I was extremely private. I didn’t want many people knowing. Not because they might be asking about our progress at each medical stage but what would they think of me?
Believing in hope…With our particular IVF treatment, we were told there could be a smaller chance of it working due to the process of the natural IVF cycle. I wouldn’t be taking medication to boost my egg supplies during our IVF. This depleted my faith in the natural IVF working. This made me feel even more ashamed, as the chances of it working could be much lower. But our natural IVF cycles did work.
Every woman should be able to choose to have a baby but it’s not my fault if I can’t…Growing up you always assume you will just have kids when you’re ready. Sadly and shockingly, there are so many reasons why women (and men) may not be able to conceive. When we started our IVF treatment, if I’d read more about other people’s stories maybe I would have discovered that IVF could and did work; there were many women and men who beat the barriers of infertility.
Putting less pressure on myself…I could not just choose to have a baby. That choice was taken away from me due to my previous gynae operation. I always wanted to be a mum. Not being able to be a mum meant that my Mum wouldn’t experience being a grand-mother or ‘nani’ to my children. I was taking something away from her too. I couldn’t give her grandchildren. It broke my heart. So putting less pressure on myself and what I’d hoped to give others could have made me feel less ashamed.
Being more thick-skinned when it came to others’ views or questions…One comment made me feel even more ashamed. Despite expressing privacy, someone kept asking me questions about why I needed IVF in the first place. Maybe if I’d been more resilient to their intentions, I could have ignored their curiosity as it didn’t help my situation in any way. That’s why I decided to write the blog post on What not to say to someone who’s going through IVF.
Reading about others’ IVF stories…I wasn’t that blog savvy about six years ago. I think the only blog I came across was when I was researching a weekend away in Berlin. I had no idea there were blogs about IVF journeys or even Instagram pages. Bloggers have changed the way information is available to everyone online. People have openly shared parts of their lives; whether it’s for personal therapeutic reasons or they just want to spread awareness and help others. In the video interview, BBC journalist Bela Shah asked me whether reading blogs and being on Instagram would have changed my IVF experience. For sure it would have. I would have known that I wasn’t alone. Of course I knew of people doing IVF around the world, but it’s only when you’re exposed to the details of others’ journeys that you start to understand what it all means.
Looking back, I just have to accept how I felt at the time. I felt how I felt. Maybe, those feelings were the right ones. One thing I’m looking forward to is featuring other’s IVF and fertility journeys on Lucky Things over the coming months. I think it’s important everyone learns more about the fertility roller coaster, what it involves and what support could be helpful. As I now know, fertility issues are a common thing and we all probably know of someone who may be feeling anxious or possibly ashamed about their situation.
Do you know of anyone who has gone through IVF or fertility treatment? What do you think of this blog post? If you have any suggestions for support for those going through IVF or other treatment, please share your thoughts below.
You can read more about our IVF journey here or pop to the IVF section on Lucky Things.