IVF treatment can take a huge toll on not only physical but also mental health, but add the strain of trying to go through the process whilst in employment, it can be particularly gruelling. A huge decision is whether to be open with your employer about the treatment you are undergoing, as many people feat they may be treated less favourably or will not receive the reasonable adjustments they need to help them through the process. Whether you decide to tell your friends, family and employer what you are going through, it is important to have someone you can confide in and share the emotional journey with, outside of the couple. There will be a huge range of emotions involved, including guilt and blame, and it is important to be able to keep things in perspective throughout the process, when things go wrong and if treatment is ultimately unsuccessful. This is where counselling can help.
This might make some of you feel uncomfortable...those of you who have children and those of you who don't, particularly those, like me, who have had their choice taken away from them.
I feel very grateful for the relationship my husband and I have as we have talked through the whole fertility journey. I have worked with Reiki to help me grieve and heal and accept that it wasn't going to happen for me. I was never going to be pregnant, no matter how many times people would say, 'Well miracles happen!' or 'Just keep trying.' All meant with love, but only we knew why that miracle was not going to happen.
The thoughts through the grief are thoughts you don't envisage thinking, and the importance of passing heirlooms becomes less - athough I still hold on to my family history as it is part of me, my sister, my mum and nephew, and wider family.
But one thing I have learned is the connectivity, love and support you can have without genetics. As for us, we still continue our journey to be parents. We will hopefully one day not be childless because we have made different choices. Whatever the experience, the pain, loss and grief is real for many women and men. I'm a big supporter of speaking up, because why should we be judged and people have an opinion about our inability to be biological parents?
Recently on holiday, we chose a busy resort and no-one talked to us except for couples who were on their own and retired. We don't have children, so people judge that we don't like children. I've had friends say, 'Oh you'll probably not want to come round because of the kids!' After that I didn't go round!
I love children; their laughter, sense of adventure, learning and fun. We both do! So anyone who stepped away from us thinking they were protecting us, they weren't! Our close friends know we care very much about their families and they don't judge.
Just remember that when someone doesn't have children, you may have no idea of the loss they might have encountered, the fertility treatments they may have been through and the life acceptance they will not have, their own child. Some people never find peace.
I am fortunate that when I started this journey, I had already made peace with so much of my life. So I allowed myself to grieve openly and talk to people. I am not ashamed. I do not feel guilty. I only feel love for what we did achieve through our IVF and that was 5 embryoes - 4 that stayed together for 5 days, and by day 7 we had lost them. The second time my 3 eggs collapsed on retrieval - that's the reality.
It's love that allows us to accept, and we have so much of that!
If you are struggling with fertility or other issues and need someone to talk to confidentially, a qualified professional could help you to reach peace and acceptance. Contact CCC to arrange a counselling session. Subsidised sessions are available for those on low incomes.
Peterborough 01733 553166 Cambridge 01223 233047