This is such a loaded and extremely triggering question for some people. This question will unearth all the pain, hurt and trauma someone may have endured as a result of not being able to conceive. For some, not conceiving naturally ends their journey at that point. For others, it’s the start of grueling treatment involving so many tests, injections, scans, IVF and, which for me was possibly the worst, a negative impact on mental health. The mixture of feelings and emotions with being unable to conceive included shame, low mood, anxiety, guilt and grief. With each step taken towards trying to achieve this life long goal came another wave of pain. The constant disappointment and heart sinking seemed to be part of the journey, something I didn’t really stop to think about and consider.
For anyone who hasn’t experienced infertility, directly or indirectly, it can feel like such an unknown. For me, it was the initial feeling of shame and guilt that really came through strongly, I am a woman and it’s something I SHOULD be able to do. All of a sudden, being diagnosed with endometriosis made me feel immense guilt, like it’s all my fault that I cannot conceive, I’d let my husband down in that moment. I carried the shame and guilt for many years, it became part of me and I carried the heavy weight around with such sadness. I never showed myself compassion or kindness, it was always my fault. For many others, this feeling may sound so familiar and like it has its place, but it absolutely does not. No one chooses infertility or creates that situation for themselves. It is simply down to being 1 out of 6 people who do experience infertility.
I was constantly in a state of anxiety about what the future held, if it would happen, grief for what hadn’t happened and sadness for what might never happen. For many years, the grief has sat with me and most days are easier than others, but I do the things which fill my cup and show myself compassion for things out of my control. I invest in my own well-being and the support to help me along this lonely journey. I also became a volunteer for the national charity, Fertility Network UK, to support others in similar positions. At the start, my husband and I kept it a secret but after 3 rounds of IVF, an ectopic pregnancy (and the onset of PTSD) and multiple operations for my endometriosis, we became more open with our story with the hope of normalising it for ourselves, and others. There shouldn’t be shame entangled with infertility, we should be able to talk about it to decrease chances of anxiety or depression for others on their own journey.
I had decided to be open at the start of my first round of ivf with my manager as I didn’t want the stress of trying to hide it, great advice from a nurse. It helped me to manage workloads and take time off when I needed it. In my current place of work, I hosted an event on infertility to open up the conversation and through that discovered many others with similar experiences, mostly suffering in silence. By sharing this story, if it helps at least one person feel less alone, then it’s all worth it. There are still many couples, and indeed individuals, silently walking their journey to achieve their dream, hopefully this has allowed some insight into the reality of experiencing infertility.
Talent and Leadership Manager
This Can Happen Ambassador
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