Meet Kate: "Infertility changes you. I hate to admit it, but you look at the world differently."

Written by Kate, from Leeds. 

This week we’re interviewing a special individual who has shared her IVF journey online to help others who might be going through the same. The team at OVUM has followed her story throughout, and we’re big fans; her openness and support in helping others going through the pain of trying to bring a baby home is something we truly celebrate. So without further ado…

Here at OVUM, we're fortunate to know you and your ttc journey to date, but for those hearing about your account for the first time - what has your ttc journey been to date?

Our journey started in 2019, around 6 months after we got married. After coming off my contraceptive pill, it took almost a year for my cycle to start again, so at the start of 2020, I went to the doctors, who started investigating why my period hadn’t started again. A barrage of blood tests, ultrasounds, and hospital appointments fast became the new norm. After having my blood tests on the NHS, the gynaecology waiting list was extremely long, so I contacted my private medical insurance and had the scan the following week. The private consultant confirmed I had PCOS and referred us for IVF on the NHS.

Covid caused various delays, and finally, in 2021, we had our first round of IVF. Since then, we have had 6 cycles of IVF: this has included 2 egg collections, 5 embryo transfers, and heartbreakingly a miscarriage last summer. We are currently waiting to find out if our 5th transfer has been a success!

 What are the top three things you wish people who have never suffered from infertility could understand or be more aware of? 

  1. Sometimes you don’t want to be seen as the “infertile” friend … the one that everyone feels sorry for. 
  2. Relaxing will not solve the problem.
  3. Infertility changes you, we probably hate to admit it, but you look at the world differently. 

For those just beginning their trying-to-conceive journey, do you have any top tips you'd like to share? 

Personally, I have found being open about our journey the biggest help; so many people struggle, and it shouldn’t be taboo! Also, take the journey one step at a time or it can feel completely overwhelming. 

Making lifestyle changes is common when trying to improve your fertility. Can we ask what, if any, lifestyle changes did you make along the way? 

We have always tried not to let infertility take over our life, there are so many do’s and don’ts, but I think you have to do what feels right for you, and I have always tried not to let it consume me. I take my vitamins daily and cut down my alcohol consumption, I only drink alcohol on occasion now whereas before weekends making cocktails whilst in my PJs on a Friday night was my favourite hobby! 

Infertility can permeate almost every aspect of your life. What are some practical and actionable things you have found that have helped you through your own journey? 

Keep living your life. Book the holidays, make plans, and say yes to what makes you happy. It’s so easy to think, “I’m not sure what stage we will be by then…” or “will we be able to do that?”.  The journey is already hard enough without making it harder. 

Finding the right clinic can be a difficult task. Do you have tips on how to select the clinic that's best for you? 

We ended up with a local clinic as our first cycle was NHS funded. We are very lucky that the clinic is around 15 mins from our house, which really helps with all the appointments. We decided to stay at the same clinic when we self-funded as the distance from home was very important to me, and they knew my history. Many clinics will have open evening events and Q&A sessions to help work out which one feels right for you, and I’d definitely recommend attending them if you can.

It seems finding a form of support to help you through this journey is almost essential, and you clearly help so many on your own IG account. Are there any other accounts you've found helpful?

I was so nervous about setting up an account and wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do. But connecting with people going through similar journeys has been invaluable. 

I have met so many amazing people through my account but a couple of my faves are:

Goodlucknic & IVF_Got_this_uk

Quick Fire Round Questions

What never fails to make you smile? 

Summer nights in the garden 

Last song you listened to on Spotify?

Shania Twain - ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’

IG or TIkTok? And where can we find you on each?

IG only and my handle is ‘IVF_Got_this_yorkshire’.

OVUM calls and wants you to join them in climbing the Three Peaks in 24hrs in the U.K next Summer, to raise money for Tommy's. Are you in?

Oh wow, this is something I have always wanted to challenge myself to do…how could I say no ?!

Take Away

From our time with Kate, we’re reminded of the importance of sharing our stories with others. Whether you’d prefer to remain anonymous or not, just the act of sharing your experience is so helpful to others who are going through the same process. So little of our human connection now takes place in person, so sharing online is crucial and will always have it’s place. Here at OVUM we’ve now had an idea of launching more in-person meet-ups as we always notice we feel better and more empowered than ever when we get to share in-person.

We know there’s still work to be done in educating those who have never experienced infertility in the things they probably shouldn’t say to those who are trying to conceive. From urging you to relax or take a holiday, Kate has heard it all too, and it becomes exhausting. This is why sharing stories is so important; should someone come across it who hasn’t experienced infertility, they might well think twice the next time a friend mentions she’s unable to conceive. 

Thanks Kate, and see you in the Peaks!

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