This is the first time I’ve had the courage to share my story. My fertility journey started 9 years ago, in November 2010.
My husband and I had taken a sabbatical for four months to travel the world. We’d been married for three years and agreed that it would be a great time to start our family whilst we were away. Wouldn’t it be exciting to tell the family that we were pregnant upon our return? However, upon returning home after three months without having conceived, my gut instinct told me something just wasn’t right.
We eventually got a diagnosis of ‘unexplained infertility’ via the NHS in 2012. I argued that nothing could be left ‘unexplained’ – they’d just not figured out what the issues were. They responded that there was nothing more they could do and our only option was to consider assisted conception.
Four cycles of IVF, four frozen embryo transfer cycles, one natural pregnancy, and four miscarriages later, hopes were fading fast. The turn of my 41st birthday in March 2019 saw me fall into a depressive state, filled with anxiety and regret. I felt a failure as a woman, a wife, a daughter and daughter-in-law.
Nobody can understand the pain of ‘infertility’ unless they’ve been in this situation. I was unable to talk to anyone about how I felt, not even my husband for fear of burdening him. My manager and colleagues were very supportive and encouraged me to go for counselling. There was only one friend I shared my sorrow with. She knew I needed to regain my confidence and introduced me to Tony Chen at Fertifa who was looking to partner with an HR professional with fertility knowledge and experience.
At first, I was reluctant to meet with Tony as I had lost all confidence in myself, but with my friend pushing me, I eventually caved in. It was an informal meeting where Tony and I shared our fertility stories with each other and hit it off straight away. He told me about his vision for Fertifa and I completely agreed that employers could do so much more to support their employees through their fertility journeys, no matter how straightforward or fraught with difficulties they may be. I was drawn by Tony’s passion and drive to positively influence peoples’ fertility experiences – this is what convinced me to work with Fertifa as I share the same passion.
Infertility isn’t just a burden for those couples struggling to conceive – it is a concern for many employees: women who want to focus on their career progression, millennials considering egg or sperm freezing to preserve their fertility, the LGBTQ community wanting to start a family. Fertility stress can impact productivity and performance at work, as well as an employee’s mental health.
As forward-thinking, supportive employers, there is much you can do to support your employees through any kind of fertility journey. Reach out to Fertifa to find out how we can help you to empower your employees – firstname.lastname@example.org.