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How and why do we cope with infertility?

Posted on 7.9.15


Anya Sizer, patient co-ordinator at the Bridge Centre describes how and why people cope with infertility.

“While explaining to a friend my own experience of going though IVF I started to ask myself ‘Why’ and ‘How’ do we do it? The thought reminded me of a particular episode of Channel 4’s ‘One Born Every Minute’ that has stayed with me since it was first screened in 2010.

The documentary follows a birth unit in a hospital and shows the real life stories of pregnancy and birth from the perspective of the parents-to-be and maternity ward staff. The episode I took a special interest in was based on a couple that had conceived triplets with the help of fertility treatment.

I was overwhelmed by the huge tenacity and perseverance shown by them and by so many others facing fertility issues – and this is why I’d like to share it with you here.

The couple were spending weeks and months of their new family’s life in hospital, as the triplets arrived prematurely at 30 weeks, with one baby particularly struggling to survive the early birth.

It never ceases to amaze me the lengths people will go to in order to achieve the family they have so longed for. Right from the initial desire for a child through to fighting for them post birth - these people show courage time and time again.

And yet they are such normal people too. Not superhuman, not robots. Just people who find themselves facing obstacles they never would have dreamed of.

I have seen couples cross the world to have egg donation, single women choosing to go through IVF on their own with little support, couples brought to the edge of what any relationship should ever have to deal with, and people facing loss in every sense possible. And these people somewhere find the resilience to keep pushing on again and again until they reach the end, whatever that end may be.

I look back at my own journey, which was on a much smaller scale than the anonymity of some couples, and it makes me wonder how on earth we managed to stay in tact!

It brings me back to how I was explaining my story of going through IVF to a friend, including the huge lows and occasional highs. What it was like to see both my children at just 12 cells suspended up on a black and white screen before being transferred into my body. And all the time I was telling her about my experience, I kept thinking HOW?

How did we get through it? How did I get through it? And the answer is both complicated and yet incredibly simple.

The complicated part is that we created strategies to cope, called on everything we could think of to support us and get us through it. I prayed, got counselling, wrote a journal and we threw our lives, hearts and souls into pushing onwards. An A to Z for coping with infertility would definitely be possible, with Acupuncture to Zinc and everything in between!

And while it was complicated it was simple. The desire for a family has to be one of the strongest and most fundamental pulls a person can face. Professor Robert Winston compares this drive to the desire to eat or sleep. It is quite simply just a very basic human desire.

I wanted a family. Even if it took me six years, five rounds of IVF and odds of one in 125,000 to overcome. I wanted a family. That’s what kept me going.

And so every time I meet another person in the clinic, or watch a programme like the episode of ‘One Born Every Minute’, I am not left so much with a ‘How’, but with a very simple and very fundamental empathy.

And ultimately ‘How’ will always be secondary to the ‘Why’.”

If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, you may enjoy reading our case study stories in our magazine Ova. You can get your own free copy here

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