For today’s post I thought I’d try something a little bit different! A spotlight on: Fertility Network UK.
As some of you may know I work alongside FNUK as a local volunteer, acting as an additional resource for individuals experiencing infertility. I’m there as a listening ear, an advocate, a champion and real person. Someone who understands the complicated terminology, the numerous tests and procedures, the, often, frustrating medical timelines and is acutely aware that each situation is unique with each person coping, sometimes very, differently. A service I’d have appreciated, beyond belief, had I been brave enough to reach out.
Fertility Network UK supports those living with infertility. They offer advice, information and understanding for any one of the, current, 3.5million UK people affected. They provide a support line, manned by a trained nurse, they work within communities, providing volunteer contacts, (like me!) to support infertility locally, and give online support, through Health Unlocked, where questions can be answered and stories can be shared anonymously. A pretty amazing charity hey?
I’ve spoken previously about how lonely I felt during the dark days of my infertility and, whilst no one is to blame for this, there’s definitely something to be said for speaking to fellow IVF survivors. We’re out here and whether our outcome was a child or, whether we’re finding peace with a different kind of life to that which we expected, I have learned that there is always someone who cares, understands and has been there. I’ve also discovered it’s sometimes easier to speak to a stranger.
There’s the practical side to consider too: How did you manage treatment whilst working? Did you find a way to reduce injection site bruising? Any dietary tips? The questions to which, friends and family, simply might not have the life experience to answer but which are still valid, sleep losing concerns.
I’ve always been open about our struggles to conceive but realised I wasn’t always honest, at the time, about my feelings during the very worst days. As the rounds went on I became depressed. I felt worthless. I hated myself, my life and the world. I hated my husband, my friends and my family. There were, quite frankly, days when I didn’t want to live. Days when getting up and out of bed overwhelmed me. But I did it. With the love and support of my husband, my family and my friends; I did it. With the, added, encouragement from strangers on infertility forums, I made it through and realised I wasn’t alone in either my situation or my precarious emotional state.
And that’s what all of this is about for me. No one should ever feel lonely or worthless or ashamed when faced with infertility. Infertility does not define us, or rule us, or own us.
I’m proud my son is an IVF baby. I feel no shame or embarrassment. For me there simply is no taboo. Just pride.
I like to think that there can be some enriching experiences to come out of any terrible event and, whilst they can be incredibly hard to find, if I can just get people talking more and help individuals feel less alone then I’d say I’m off to a pretty good start.
Fertility Network UK is running their National Fertility Awareness week from 30th October to 5th November 2017, aiming to raise awareness and change perceptions of infertility. One in six couples, in the UK, are currently known to struggle with infertility issues and yet there is still such misunderstanding and taboo around the subject. It’s incredibly hard facing infertility and, of course, it’s astonishingly difficult supporting infertiles but until it’s talked, openly, about and perceptions are changed then people facing infertility will continue to feel alone.
Infertility is real.
Involuntary childlessness is real.
But the support is there. You are not alone.