‘Everyone else seemed to get pregnant very easily’: One couple's five-year struggle to conceive
Lots of us know someone who has dealt with infertility.
In our recent poll, 64 per cent of you said you or someone you know has experienced fertility problems - but how much do we know about what it's really like to desperately want to become a parent and not be able to?
For Dublin woman Alison Reede, not being able to get pregnant had a huge emotional impact.
Being healthy and coming from a big family, she hadn't anticipated any problems before she and her husband started trying after getting married in their mid-thirties.
It ended up being a five-year journey.
"We went through three IUIs (Intrauterine insemination), six rounds of IVF and a miscarriage at ten weeks," she tells us.
"The biggest part emotionally of the IVF train is the uncertainty and the lack of control.
"I remember feeling odd, like we were the odd couple out.
"Everyone else around me seemed to get married and get pregnant very easily so when we began to realise that it wasn’t happening, you begin to feel a little bit insecure and a little unconfident in yourself and in your body."
She ended up feeling "lost and a bit helpless”, she tells us, and admits that it put a strain on her relationship.
"My husband was great but guys can be a bit laid back about these things and that was hard because I felt like maybe we were on different pages at times.
"I felt that maybe his grá for a family wasn’t as big as mine. That wasn’t actually what it was, it was he was more worried about me and didn’t want me to be upset."
The experience, though draining, brought about not one but two upsides.
Alison is now mum to twin five-year-old girls.
She has also put her experience to use and has trained to become a fertility coach.
With a previous background in life and business coaching, she helps couples who are going through the same thing she experienced.
It's a concept she came across during her pregnancy.
"I had struggled psychologically as well as physically and I had tried counselling and it really didn’t work for me and I didn’t feel understood or like I was getting the right support."
Having researched it herself, she went to the US and trained under Dr Alice Domar, a worldwide leader in holistic approaches to fertility.
She learned that two to three years of trying to conceive can have as big an emotional effect as dealing with potentially terminal illnesses.
"It’s actually quite simple. We as humans are put on this planet to reproduce and when that looks like it’s in jeopardy or like everything is failing, it has huge impacts - physically, mentally and emotionally."
Alison works with clients to help them approach their situation in a mind and body-focused way.
It is, she says, "really about getting them out the other end with their sanity and their identity intact.
"I’m not a counsellor, coaching is more about looking forward and how you deal with things moving forward.
"It's like, 'here we are now, this is our set of circumstances or set of problems so how do we deal with this?'."
You can find out more about Alison and what she does at AlisonReedeCoaching.com.
This October is Fertility Month on Her, when we’ll be talking all things reproductive health and having babies.
You can check out all of our Fertility Month articles here.
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