I don’t want you to go to school either darls!

So my twins have started ‘big’ school…when they look anything but big!  I’m always saying “what a big boy” and “you’re such a big girl”, but when you put a school uniform on them, even the tiniest possible size, they seem to shrink back down to being your tiny little ones again.  My little girl Anya is swamped by her cardigan, even she says it’s “stupid”, she seems too tiny to be wearing a school uniform.

For me this time the heartbreak has been huge.  Saying goodbye to such a busy and all consuming chapter in my life and waving off my precious babies to the next stage in their exciting lives.  It’s hit me hard and especially when Anya has cried and screamed every day, in fact kicked the teacher twice!  I can’t believe they are four and a half, can’t believe my tiny 2lb miracles are now ready for school at all!  I just want to hold them a little longer, extend this chapter and I suppose feel them in my arms needing me like they used to.

I was no different when Zac started school and I can’t believe he’s now in year 5.  I felt like I was handing my baby over the state and I was losing him.  I was heartbroken but unlike Anya, he never looked back and took to it like a duck to water, which perhaps made it worse.  I wanted him to miss me and need me!

And yet, that pain was different.  I was determined not to make a big deal of the huge milestone my twins going to school was given their prematurity and bumpy start to life because right now, four and half years on, we are a normal family, they are happy healthy kids and I am just like any other mummy who’s kid is starting school.  I avoided the reference to their start and it felt nice to be like a ‘normal’ mummy for once.

What I did feel was that my pain was wholly different to that of those mummies whose first born was starting and who were desperate for another child to fill that void.  Whose ‘baby’ was flying and leaving an empty nest when their mummy was desperate and unable to fill the vacancy.  Who had watched every milestone and month pass by hoping to conceive at least, never mind give birth, by September so they didn’t feel bereft.  Who had to leave nursery or pre-school yet didn’t feel ready to leave that life, that routine or group of carers.  Who was watching other mummies in the playground try to get their child into school whilst battling a feisty toddler or juggle a new baby when their arms were left empty.  Who just wanted to scream let me have my baby back, I’m not ready for this experience to end.  Who cried a million tears silently, on her own, not just at the child starting school but at the child who she loved but had lost or not yet met.

I was that mummy when Zac started school.  It was an all consuming experience that too few could understand.  It had so many layers, was so complex and was hugely painful.  Life was racing on fast forward and I couldn’t keep up.  I was supposed to have another baby by then.  I had lost the opportunity on too many occasions and life wasn’t panning out as I’d planned or hoped for.  And it hurt.

This week, Facebook was filled with mummies tormented by their little one starting school, with a few able to admit the pain and hurt at their loneliness and it was heartbreaking to read.

I have no real effective words of comfort, advice or tips on how to cope in these weeks ahead.  It’s tough enough for me with the twins starting knowing I no longer yearn for a child, but I know it’s doubly tough for you with the empty void you also feel, the frustration that haunts you and the feeling that people don’t understand the depth of your hurt.

But I do.  And there are others who do too.  Find them, talk to them, open up and share your feelings.  Be kind to yourself.  Cut yourself some slack and squeeze that baby with all your might when you strip off that “stupid”, over-sized uniform and tuck them up tonight. x

Almost here……

So nearly four years on and my book is finally here.  Not launched yet, but we are now just a few days away.  Just a few tweaks to the distribution and then we’re off!

Today I went to the publishers to collect some copies ready for The Fertility Show and as Zac was off school poorly today, I had to take him along with me for the drive.  Somehow, it was meant to be that he should have a high temperature and be off school today.  Afterall, if he hadn’t been such a wonderful, beautiful boy, that meant the world to us, we would never have been on this crazy journey in the first place.  It felt like a nice full circle closing, (though of course grumpy pants didn’t think so and is actually all rather bored of ‘mummy’s flippin book’ at the moment!)

I’ve seen a draft version in print before and that was a thrilling moment and it was exciting to tear open a box with Jason and give him the first official copy – note to self, he’s not paid me yet!.  But perhaps the real ‘WOW’ moment for me today was seeing a stack of the books in the warehouse and the first palette all boxed up.  This was more than ‘my book’ it was a bloody great big pile of books all ready to be dispatched to anyone who wants to read it, all over the world.  My stomach lurched and it really was a moment to remember!  “Bloody Hell!”

Getting a book published had been on my Bucket List for a long long time.  It’s almost unbelievable and too much to take in to realise it can now be crossed off!  But this last couple of years has turned into much, much more than just trying to tick off an entry on my Bucket List.  It’s become less about my story and more about the story of Secondary Infertility.  Two words that I had never even heard off when I first added ‘book published’ on my Bucket List.  Two words I’d never heard off when I started, and ended, my fertility treatment.  Two little but significant words that changed my life forever.

Of course I’m excited about getting the book finally published, holding it, seeing what it actually looks like after all these years in the planning.  With regards people reading it however, I’m really quite nervous about looking into the whites of people’s eyes that I know, after they have read it, knowing they will have seen into the depths of my heart and soul  – it’s quite a frightening thought in someways.  The obvious excitement is also tinged with a little anxiety!

Yet truly, the most thrilling prospect today is sitting back at my desk and seeing all the feedback on Twitter and Facebook from couples (mostly girls) who want to read the story and who I know will feel comfort and understanding.  They are the ones it was written for.  They are the ones I imagined each night as I tapped away.  I wrote 102,000 words detailing our story but really I just wanted to say “you are not alone, you should not feel guilty, it’s OK to want another baby” over and over and over again – perhaps 102,000 times!  Yet that book wouldn’t have sold for sure, and writing about our most intimate moments and thoughts, seemed to be potentially a more interesting read.  We’ll certainly find out over the next few months!…….

So my excitement tonight is a little premature.  This is a personal achievement for me for sure but it’s not really crossing the finish line until the book is in the hands of someone who it was written for, who needs it, who will benefit from it.  When they put it down and sigh saying “I finally feel understood” and toast that freedom with a large G&T then I will really be able to WHOOP WHOOP!

To remind myself of the very last paragraph in the book:

And finally thank you to the publisher who turned me down and said “There isn’t a market for this book.” You lit a touch paper in me I never knew existed and prompted me to prove you wrong. There is unfortunately a huge market of couples across the world that will sadly appreciate, buy and benefit from this book and it is my intention to reach them. They may not know it yet, they may be unaware of the name of their condition, but without your rejection it would never have been my mission to tell them.

What I really wanted to finish that paragraph with was FUCK YOU!!  #fingersalute

 

 

Progress? I’m not sure

So what’s happening?  Well this all started with writing down my journey to help another couple faced with SI.  Then it became about achieving an ambition to have a book published which then turned into a mission to demonstrate to publishers just how big an audience is out there needing information on this topic.

It is now a crusade.  Having spent 2 years (whilst setting up a new business and running a family home) doing my bit to raise the profile of SI, I’m feel we’ve taken one step forward and two steps back.

So yesterday it was finally confirmed that SI would not feature at the Fertility Show in November because ‘it didn’t fit in’.  I was gutted.  We have recently determined that statistic that 1 in 3 of the 1 in 6 couples struggling with fertility already have a child – that’s 1 in 18 with Secondary Infertility.  It’s great to now know this stat, but it’s frustrating that people still don’t recognise the condition to give it focus.  It’s easy for them to say “Secondary Infertility is important” but still they don’t give it the attention and exposure it deserves and as a consequence the condition remains in the dark, as do sufferers.

My first problem with SI was simply that I didn’t know the name existed.  If we could just shout the name out from the rooftops more sufferers would become engaged.  If we could get them to identify with their own situation they would know where to seek more help.  That would be a huge start.

If we could help treatment providers and support networks to learn how to deal with SI sufferers and their unique situation it would help make SI “fit in” and therefore provide the appropriate information and support in clinics.

My messages are simple

Secondary Infertility is still Infertility

Sufferers are not alone, should not feel guilty and are not greedy

There are unique and specific challenges that need to be addressed for sufferers

More people in the Infertility profession need to recognise the condition

Communication and awareness must be improved

Next month I will be launching a brand new website with information and support specifically for SI sufferers.  A brand new online support and information portal that is UK based.  We may have not made it to the show in 2016 but boy oh boy, 2017 here we come!!…….

New Chapter Release

https://morelovetogivebyhelendavies.com/sample-chapters/chapter-15-staring-at-the-face-of-frightening-statistics/

So those who know me well, probably won’t be surprised to learn that I’ve started writing another book, which is again about Secondary Infertility, but is more of a guide and practical support for those suffering and for those around someone suffering.  It will hopefully be an easy to digest ‘friend’ to anyone wanting to understand more about their situation and on realising it is a ‘condition’, the content will also hopefully make them feel empowered and a little more at peace.

In researching this new book, I have been all over the blogs and websites recently and what has struck me is that whilst my babies are now 2, nothing has changed.  There are new women every day, bravely joining blogs and forums asking the same questions, feeling the same fear and wanting to know more information.  I never really thought the problem had or would go away, but neither had I given it much thought since I had stopped visiting the sites, so this came as somewhat of a surprise.  And it saddened me.

I am currently a ‘text buddy’ to four girls, all going through fertility difficulties, all with different stories and situations, but all share the same pain.  And all have the same thirst for knowledge, hunger for understanding and desperate need of support.  The feeling of helplessness I often feel does quite bother me and I have an appreciation of my close friends and family who clearly would have had the same feelings in supporting me on my journey.

And so, the only thing I can do is to show understanding and so I thought I’d share another chapter from More Love To Give – An IVF Memoir, and enlighten them, and anyone else in a similar boat, that those feelings they have are normal and it’s OK to feel that way.  This chapter describes the first group meeting we attended before any treatment started and gives an insight into how the emotions make your brain run riot in your head and your heart bang twice as loud as I’m sure it should!

My putting the proverbial pen to paper a second time isn’t that I’ve given up on this first book.  Far from it.  I’m bloody determined to get it published but have been a little sidetracked in recent months.  The second book is a ‘buddy’ for the first, a partner, a support to help it get to it’s final destination.  And sometimes, that’s all any of us can be.

I hope you enjoy x

 

 

You are not alone

It’s National Fertility Awareness Week in the US this week and the Secondary Infertility Facebook pages are full of girls wanting to raise the profile of both Infertility and Secondary Infertility.  It was pleasing (in some ways) to se that the national organisation was using the strapline ‘You are not alone’ as their campaign message.  This was the exact same message I wanted to get across when I realised my situation had a name and knew that there must be others who like me had felt so alone, so isolated in my ill-placed feelings of guilt and greed at wanting a second child, that I began writing my book.

Indeed, after a recent Facebook post a friend of a friend wrote that they gave up reading after realising I already had a child as his ‘wife and I can’t have kids so I have little sympathy’.  It was a feeling and response I completely understood but one that precisely sums up the unfortunate predicament of anyone suffering infertility trying for a second child – there is little understanding from those who have children and never struggled and little sympathy from those who are still trying or unable to conceive a first.

I was never really looking for sympathy, perhaps a little empathy, but mostly a feeling that it was OK to say how shit and sad I felt without criticism or snide remarks.  This gentleman did in fact read on and come back to say he eventually did understand and that we all had pain just in different places.

A lovely response from Infertility Network UK today said that contact with patients showed that the pain of secondary infertility has a huge impact on their lives and that whilst statistics are hard to gather they believe approx 5% of the UK population are affected by Secondary Infertility.

The fact is, Infertility is Infertility.  I had the same desire, needs, cravings, longings, pain, effort in trying, relationship crisis, sadness and despair as anyone wanting a first child.  However, because I had my son I had no escape from that misery.  I couldn’t go off for a weekend with adult couple friends, I couldn’t escape baby groups, I couldn’t get away from childrens’ TV programmes, I had an empty nursery to torment me, I put away baby clothes not knowing whether to keep hold of my favourites and I had a little boy grilling me to answer countless questions about why he didn’t have a brother or sister.

I will be the very first in line to say I am lucky.  I was blessed with my son.  But I will look anyone in the whites of the eyes who dare defy the pain that Secondary Infertility causes and question whether anyone should be vocal about those feelings.  For those who understand no explanation is needed.  For those who don’t understand, no explanation is possible.

The shame of SI is that whilst a study in the Lancet a few years ago suggests that approx 10% of the worldwide population suffers from SI at one time or another, there are just tens of girls on the SI groups in the US and I can’t find any for the UK!  Tens of girls!!?  Girls with SI feel alone, feel shame and feel they cannot talk about it.  In fact I’m pretty sure countless don’t even know the expression such is the stigma of the condition.

They are not alone. You are not alone. So pick up the mantra of the US Fertility Week and if you know a friend or family member that is trying for a second child, lead her towards a friendly group, allow her to talk and help convince her she is not alone, she should not feel guilty and she should never give up hope.  #walktogether

Kim Kardashian – the perfect case study? Discuss.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2904061/I-want-baby-bad-s-not-happening-Kim-Kardshian-struggle-conceive-second-child-husband-Kanye-West.html

Could it possibly be that as well as being an icon for all things voluptuous for women, Kim Kardashian West is also in fact a celebrity who perfectly represents Secondary Infertility?  Just like the majority of other women desperate for a second child, I have no doubt at all that Kim has never actually searched the term ‘Secondary Infertility’ on Google, but having come across this recent article I’m pretty sure she is familiar with the pain, frustration and confusion associated with her desire, and apparent failure, to produce a sibling for North.

She personifies all that plays with the mind of any mother who wants another child and feels guilty for doing so, knowing she is already so lucky.  A good friend of mine, who has undergone three unsuccessful IVF attempts in trying for her second child, recently spoke to me about how she was reminding herself constantly how lucky she was to have her son and was focussing on all that was great about her life.  She already had so much, a child, loving husband, comfortable lifestyle, nice holidays and treats and so her list went on as she tried to put her desire into perspective.  She is “lucky”. And yet, deep down, she doesn’t feel lucky at all as she battles daily with the reminder that her longing for another child is unfulfilled.

Currently I have two friends battling the life limiting illness MND, I have a friend with four year old twins struggling through chemotherapy fighting breast cancer and I have a very dear friend whose beloved 21 month old baby girl is battling a brain condition that gives hourly cause for concern and worry.  When I think about any of these terrible situations, it’s easy to look at what you have and feel lucky for all that you are blessed with.  Each provides a good dose of perspective that gets you through any challenge.

And yet, I know only too well that when you are in the midst of the world of confusion and anger that is Secondary Infertility, amidst all the emotions that comes with it, perspective is one that is all too often lacking.  You just can’t find perspective in your situation.  Try as you might, knowing you should, you still find it very difficult to look at all you have and flick off that switch of desire for something else.

You find it almost impossible to find satisfaction in people around you, material goods, life experiences because the big, ugly, painful truth is you want and need something more. It is always there staring you in the face in any situation you find yourself in.  That pain isn’t so much that you don’t have a baby, it’s more that your body isn’t functioning as it should, or as everyone else’s is, to produce that child.  It’s the knowledge that often others are questioning why your body isn’t producing a child and the shame that comes with that.

What’s more, it is the burden of guilt that you carry knowing you have so much, you are so blessed in so many ways and you should be completely happy, but that your heart won’t allow it.

So for the woman who is adored and envied the world over, how big must her daily dose of guilt burger be right now?  A popstar husband, huge wealth and fame, loving family and of course her beautiful daughter, North, she appears to have it all.

How easy is it for anyone reading this article to dismiss her anguish with a “What more could she possibly want, she should be grateful for everything she’s got, greedy cow!”  How much is enough?  How little do you need to have for both you and others to think it’s OK to want more, to want another child?  The truth is, you could have nothing and still there will always be someone, probably yourself, who will say that you are lucky to be alive and should count your blessings for every breath.  The real truth is, no matter what life has thrown at you or blessed you with, you should never, ever feel guilty for wanting another child and there are thousands of women like you the world over.  You should not be ashamed.  You are not alone.   Good luck Kim.  x

Big love to all my friends and their families through all their battles and good luck to you all x

Zephyr’s playmates are finally on the way!

http://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/Julia-Bradbury-im-44-pregnant-4984899

Julia Bradbury was so desperate to “provide a playmate” for her son Zephyr she underwent 5 rounds of IVF and at age 44 is now expecting two playmates, twins!  “It’s a lovely thing to be able to give that gift of a sibling, Zeph’s very excited about becoming a big brother.”

Enjoying, loving and watching your child grow can be such a huge motivator to have another baby.  Your desire to provide a full and happy life for that first child leads you to want to provide a larger, loving family, a buddy, a sibling.  It’s a different desire to wanting a first but it’s an instinctive drive all the same.

That feeling is no less painful, but it’s a lot less understood.  Let’s hope little Zephyr is thrilled with his new playmates and Julia’s desire is finally fulfilled.

Let’s Remember to Talk x

From Remembrance Day and National Duvet Day to Stoptober and Movember, there’s always a day or week set aside to remember, celebrate or raise awareness of one thing or another.  It is really pleasing to see so many poppies popping up at the moment, in fact Zac was really proud to buy his and pin it on his jumper in the playground this morning.  I’m a great supporter of the Poppy Appeal and all it represents.  Yet there has been another significant event for me last week, Fertility Awareness Week.  More than 3.5 million people in the UK alone experience fertility problems when trying for children – that’s one in six couples.  When you stop to think, that’s not all couples, that’s one in six of those trying for children, so that’s a heck of a lot.  More than I thought in fact.

Launching my book’s website the weekend of the start of Fertility Awareness Week, to be honest, wasn’t a complete coincidence.  Whilst it wasn’t something I felt ready to ride on the back of, as I am still a little way off publishing, in my own private way it was important for me to help with one of the main aims, and that was to get more people talking about fertility issues.

This last week it has been terrific to see so many interviews and features about options available for people, details about the impact infertility can have on people’s lives and honest interviews with well known faces who are brave enough to talk about their journey, to millions of readers or viewers.

“I struggled to conceive my first child and I needed fertility drugs.  I had a much harder struggle to conceive a second child and had four rounds of IVF.  I was very fortunate and we now have three gorgeous, healthy children as our fourth round of IVF produced twins.  I couldn’t do it alone.  I needed help.  I had IVF.”

There, I’ve said it.  I can say it now.  I find myself saying it often these as I know it brings comfort to many people who are in the situation we were in and I know the comfort I found from speaking to others at that time.  Yet there was a time where I felt shame, guilt, failure and a deep, dark feeling of bereavement at times for something I felt I’d lost, my capability as a woman.  In those days I could never have said those words.

Like a crutch for a broken leg, an anti-inflammatory for a bruised muscle or anti-biotic for an dental abscess – sometimes other parts of the body need some help too and there should simply be no shame in talking about it.  On a par with depression, infertility should not be a taboo and we should encourage a society that embraces those that sometimes need our support as their crutch through a difficult time. That crutch can sometimes be just talking without judgement.

So well done to all those who encouraged people to talk about their fertility situations last week and long may it continue beyond 2014’s Fertility Awareness week!  Let’s talk.

So near and yet so far

In the six hours since the MLTG page went live on the world wide web, it already has 50 likes, 14 shares and I have 4 orders for my book!  How cool is that?  And yet it is the 3 comments made on the page that mean the most.  Sitting for hundreds of hours pouring my heart out into the laptop, often felt like the loneliest place on the planet.  I will never forget the moment I read a paragraph in Zita West’s Guide to IVF (bible) that mentioned existing parents often had a feeling of guilt.  At last somebody understood.  That was me!  I was shocked as I read the words but I was also immensely comforted.  I’ll also remember the shock at learning that our situation actually had a name ‘Secondary Infertility’. At last I felt ‘defined’, part of a group and suddenly not so alone.  To receive feedback today from 3 people who are currently in a similar situation and have thanked me for sharing my story is one of the strangest feelings I have ever felt.  In the words of one: “I honestly can’t relate to that enough.  You have captured how I’m sure a million women feel.  At a daunting yet exciting time this had given me so much positivity for the future.”  I have always dreamed of getting this book published but tonight, this means more to me than any Amazon listing.  I know how she feels, she now feels understood.  She doesn’t feel so alone and I hope she can start to shake off a little of the guilt she has been carrying round.  Yet I feel sad that despite launching on the world wide web, this friend lives just 10 minutes away.  We live so near, yet when you are struggling alone, we live so far away.  Let’s talk more.  Let’s share more.  Let’s drop the shame. x