Well, we’re half way through National Fertility Awareness Week (NFAW). I have been doing some more great interivews for Episode 7, out on Friday. I’ve also been doing research on twitter to build more relationships for The Fertility Podcast and am amazed at how many people there are, going through fertility treatment,  sharing their experiences and helping each other out. I never thought to look at twitter whilst going through my own treatment. I looked online but more doing searches and reading blogs. One lady I came across was Jessica Hepburn, who as well as being a regular columnist with Fertility Road also works with Infertility Network UK. I spoke to Jessica in Episode 6 about her remarkable journey to have a biological child. Both Jessica and Kate Brian who feature in that compelling episode were diagnosed with ‘unexplained infertility’. I recommend you have a listen, especially if you’ve found yourself being told the same thing.

Here’s what Jessica wrote for The Fertility Podcast on Monday:

“It’s 6am on Monday 27th October – the first day of NFAW 2014. I should be up and getting ready for work but I’ve just been listening to some of the interviews on the Fertility Podcast and I can’t drag myself away. In Episode 6, Kate Brian says something fascinating. When she was first going through IVF treatment nearly twenty years ago there was hardly any information available for couples. Now ‘Dr Google’ will answer any question you care to ask but, as Kate says, the danger is the reply you receive isn’t always accurate or helpful. What’s great about the Fertility Podcast is that it gives you access (in the comfort of your bed at six in the morning if you want it) to some of the leading specialists in the country. They totally know their stuff and I would recommend anyone who is on their own fertility journey to have a listen.

Even though I’m on the podcast too, I’m not sure that I qualify as a fertility specialist. I’m not a doctor and if you read my book, The Pursuit of Motherhood, you’ll see I don’t have any answers (yet). But I do know a lot about what it feels like to be a patient having been through nearly a decade of trying to conceive during which time I’ve been to almost a dozen clinics and had every test known to woman and doctor! It got me thinking about what I’d like to make people more aware of in this special week.

Number 1 on the list is a better understanding of what it feels like to struggle to conceive. Whenever I hear arguments about why IVF should not be available on the NHS, people say that infertility isn’t a life threatening condition and having a baby is a life choice that no one has the right to. I totally agree that no one has the right to become a parent but I also know that being denied that choice has a devastating effect on your mental health. I suffered in silence for years until I started writing and talking about it and I know from all the people that have read my book and contacted me that I’m not alone. We are everywhere. Only yesterday I had Sunday lunch with a friend who has been through several rounds of unsuccessful IVF. She’s about to try again and she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said: ‘Jessica, if it doesn’t work this time, I think it’s going to push me over the edge.’ If that’s not life threatening I don’t know what is.

So my wish for NFAW 2014 is that as patients and practitioners we work together in more and better ways to make society aware of the isolation and inadequacy that so many people who are going through fertility treatment feel so that we can start to explore ways of changing it. One of the most effective ways of doing this is making sure we’re all talking about it more which I know is difficult when you’re dealing with a subject that is still taboo. So my challenge to you this week, if you choose to accept it, is to share your own fertility story with someone new. One conversation at a time and together we’ll create a movement and change is going to come.”

Best Wishes

Jessica Hepburn

Follow Jessica @Jessica_Pursuit