The TTC community is a wonderful thing and there's endless support if you choose to access it. Hello Treacle is proudly part of this community and, while I may have received my happy ever after, I want to continue to raise awareness of fertility issues and support other would-be parents on their journeys.
Natalie owns Bearface Prints and is the brain behind the Me Myself and IVF diary. Today she's sharing a little about her own journey, and how, like me, she's found community, strength and support through channelling her challenges into something creative and beautiful.
"One day she finally grasped that unexpected things were always going to happen and with that she realised the only control she had was how she chose to handle them. So she made the decision to survive using courage, humor and grace, she was the queen of her own life and the choice was hers."
This! This right there has been my mantra since being told I would need a helping hand to reproduce. The phrase ‘it takes two to tango’ couldn't be further from my personal experience, in fact it takes two plus a whole load of professionals and then some!
My biggest challenge when dealing with infertility, particularly IVF, was and still is, coping with the enormity of the emotional rollercoaster and making a conscious effort to protect my mental health aswell as my body. Most professionals will recommend pre and post counselling, initially this wasn't something I was comfortable with participating in, I genuinely thought I would be ok, THOUSANDS of women go through this journey, how tough could it really be?
Three cycles and three miscarragies later I realised just how important my mental health was, after pushing for back to back cycles after failures despite warnings from my specialists it finally hit me. Depression and anxiety reared its ugly head and the rose tined glasses began to clear, ironically I still didn't connect the pieces and often dismissed the suggestion that suffering with infertility could be the very reason I was struggling mentally, and it wasn't until I spoke to my GP that I realised how naive I had been. Even then I still refused to hold infertility fully responsible for my declining mental health, it was almost as if I was admitting to defeat, to failing - which is why I still didn't opt for counselling.
In hindsight this was ignorant and most certainly through lack of support in my surroundings, I had my husband, family and close friends, but I still didn't really feel like I could open up to the world and share how I was really feeling, which is how the project to support others during their own journeys, and "Me, myself and IVF" was created.
As we decided to take a break from trying to conceive I missed the routine and almost felt lost, and whilst exploring further treatment options I observed I had no clear record of my previous cycle to compare any future treatment to, including medication dosages and test results, I felt my medical notes where too generic and I felt detached to the text upon the paper, my history almost felt too clinical for me to connect with.
I started to create the diary for myself, focussing on a keepsake, if my next cycle failed I could close the final page and store until i was ready to revisit the details, but I hoped that one day I could proudly sit with my children and show them exactly how they came to life and reflect on how proud I was of this mammoth task I had embarked on.
This was MY was of coping, my own self care routine, with every positive message I received the greater my mood lifted, the diary has now helped over 2500 individuals worldwide and continues to grow daily. The one thing that I wasn't prepared for was the connections and genuine friendships I have made through this venture, I have followed journeys and celebrated successes as well as being a shoulder to cry on when things didn't quite go to plan, and I thank my lucky stars every day that Me Myself and IVF has allowed me to do this - to me, having that support is priceless.
Me, myself and IVF will make you shed a tear, make you proud, it will empower you. To me its more than a physical item, its a opening to the community of men, women and couples that go through this journey too, and I hope that Bearface Prints walks side by side with you, page by page.
I'm currently on a break after a failed cycle number 6 fertility and in the process of more designs and products, during my last break a wonderful creation was made so who knows what could happen next? Watch this space!"