October is an important month for making babies. It culminates in National Fertility Awareness Week (Monday 31st October to Sunday 6th November) along with The Fertility Show – the biggest IVF trade fair in the UK – where I’ll be speaking for the third year running.
This month the national charity Fertility Network UK has launched a campaign to raise the profile of what it means to face fertility issues. It’s called Hidden Faces and aims to show the real people behind fertility struggles because despite the fact it’s estimated that 1-in-6 are affected, the experience of infertility remains a subject shrouded in secrecy and shame.
I’m passionate about changing this. Unless people know how it feels, how will the world ever understand? And if the world doesn’t understand, how will we fight for equality of access to treatment in a country that prides itself on having a National Health Service but where getting IVF is dwindling and dependent on where you live? And how will those of us who have been through fertility issues grieve and rebuild our lives if no-one understands or wants to treat our pain? In saying this I’m not just referring to people like me for whom IVF didn’t work, but also those who went through the darkness and came out with the dream, because they remain deeply scarred by the process too. Whatever your outcome, we are not different, we are the same.
Coming out about my pursuit of motherhood was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. I hoped that if I tried for a baby hard enough, I would eventually be rewarded and no-one would need to know. I didn’t want to publicly admit to what felt like the biggest failure of my life. But eventually I did: I did come out and it saved me. So I am honoured to be the first face of the Hidden Faces campaign. Within less than 24 hours of my film being posted by Fertility Network UK on Facebook it had been viewed over 5,000 times. If you haven’t seen it already, please watch it and share the ‘pain of never’.
By happenstance this October also marks three years since I started writing this blog. My very first post was called: Spreading the Secret. I guess you could say I’m still at it and three years on this is what I know: shame is toxic and it breeds in silence. Sometimes the only way to combat it is by going viral.