Friday 6 November 2015

National Fertility Awareness Week - We Are #1in6

It's National Fertility Awareness Week this week and this year the campaign is all about the 1 in 6 statistic.

1 in 6 couples will struggle to become parents. That could be for any number of reasons with infertility and miscarriage being two of the most common (and also two things people don't like talking about). It's very rare for a couple to have a "perfect" conception or a "perfect" pregnancy yet society assumes it's dead easy for all of that to happen.

We were (and until January next year I suppose, still are) the 1 in 6. This shot was taken at a family wedding in September 2012: 10 months after we'd started trying; 3 months after we found out we had both female factor infertility (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and male factor infertility (low sperm count); 4 months before our GP would refer us to the local fertility clinic to start more (invasive) investigations and another 2 years and 8 months til we'd see a positive pregnancy test.

Our tale's not unusual though; we're just one of the hundreds and thousands of couples out there who have a slightly longer and more winding journey to becoming a parent. This excellent video, 'Expecting Life' by fertility specialist Emma Cannon (whose book, 'The Baby Making Bible' is well worth a read - I borrowed it from the library back in 2012) highlights just a few more...

Since becoming pregnant though, I don't know how to describe myself: am I still classed as infertile? Post-infertile? Technically-pregnant-but-unable-to-conceive-again?

I feel as if I need to tell everyone I meet that this bump in front of them wasn't easy to achieve, that we didn't just decide one day to make a baby, jump into bed and then wham-bam-thank-you-mam, it happened. Someone did actually say to me at work (when I'd started showing and people knew), "was it planned?" Well, apart from the fact that's a rather personal question to ask, it did at least give me the chance to fill them in on the whole back story (which I don't think they were expecting to hear). And I've lost count of the amount of people who tell me about their friends who had IVF only to go on and conceive naturally as the IVF treatment "reset" their body - to which I always reply, "well it might reset mine but it's unlikely to have reset Andrew's!".

Weirdly though (and you all know how much I like research and information), I can't find any books written from a perspective of being pregnant after having been through that struggle. There's a few odd chapters or paragraphs in generic pregnancy books but nothing that decent - which is surprising considering the amount of people who don't have that easy pain-free journey. I guess there must be lots of people who worry throughout their pregnancy but there also seems to be lots of people who go out and buy baby things with wild abandon the moment they see those two lines on a stick. I still don't feel completely reassured myself; each day that passes is a little bit easier but at the back of my mind is still the fact that if anything happens, we can't just try again like a "normal" couple.

Perhaps I should write a book - there's clearly a gap in the market!
As a brief disclosure, I was asked if I could include the video in my post by the lady working with Emma Cannon but I had already planned on writing all about the #1in6 campaign anyway. I didn't receive any gifts or compensation and all words, pictures and opinions are my own.


  1. You should! There definitely needs to be a book from your type of perspective!x

  2. There should be. In the early days of parenting, I found a lot of forums full of people who had had children after difficulties of one sort of another and who were now struggling with immense guilt for not loving EVERY SINGLE SECOND of being with their baby - they felt like they had to appreciate everything, even the dirty nappies and the crying and the sick on their clothes, because they knew so many people longed to be where they were. It's just different enough an experience from straightforward pregnancy that there should be more support out there.

  3. I'm ashamed to say that I had no idea that the number was so high! 1 in 6! But then I suppose that's the point of an awareness campaign. There does need to be more said about the subject, it's immensely reassuring hearing other people's experiences especially in a situation when you think you're alone and that it's uncommon because no one talks about it.

  4. You should write the book... Seriously! Knowing that you will struggle to conceive again must put a lot of pressure on the pregnancy and make things extra stressful. It sounds like you are doing well though. This is a great post, I didn't realise how common infertility is xx


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