In 2013 I thought about ending fertility treatment. My husband was sure that I physically and mentally wasn't able to stand it but as anyone knows if they are caught up in the need to be a parent by any means, then it's impossible to step away.
I was, now I look back, redundant from my job and feeling second rate whilst knowing there must be something I could 'do'. It was the second biggest battle after the losses themselves. Abandoning myself to a life without children in a society that is so judgemental (hugely judgemental was the phrase that got so many debating over the article in the Cambridge News published on Tuesday 15th August). That feeling is magnified when you can't do what others sometimes seem to take for granted.
Two things happened that year. I was offered two fantastic jobs in London. Which I turned down! I took a postgraduate degree instead which lead to Walk In Our Shoes. And I found Gateway Women and knew I had strength and was able to make those powerful decisions.
If the battle for IVF funding divides us which it did this week, then finding our friends can unite us. I make no secret about how much I admire the work of those who frequently stand up in much higher profile places that I do, and talk about their journey. The article in the paper and the video have exposed my story more than I anticipated. The comments were unnerving although not unexpected and nothing I hadn't heard before. It's merely a public extension of what I know many of us experience in daily life. But it still hurts.
But the power it creates is fascinating and the debate it still good to have. Friends have asked if I'm okay with it and yes I am! Through the Cambridge News I have made contact with several people in the city who are affected, one owns a great agency I admire for their work, and it was picked up by lots of fertility influencers, a PR group. Most importantly, it spoke to many who had been ignored. I hope today they find the site and our links and get in touch with those who can support them further.
So my evening, prior to the Twitter chat was distracted by all this. Then at 8pm I sat down, logged onto Twitter. Now, I don't tend to worry about the stats because it's about the quality when it comes to chats but I did fear that it would be on my own talking to nobody. I was thrilled when it got so busy that I was having trouble keeping up (Tweetdeck saved the day). The best bit is that other blogs got involved, so We Are Many Nomos, Childless Voice, Strength and Infertility, Fiona Tate an author on infertility, Fertility Smarts, Post IVF World and this site shared our influences. That can only be good because whilst we're connected by one thing - our infertility - we're all doing something a little different which makes it better for those out there coming to terms with the world and 'a life unexpected' as Jody Day puts it so well.
Best of all, we all got support from each other. I worry that those who run these groups are okay, for the most part Walk In Our Shoes is empowering but there are days when it feels too much because we're all grieving too. By joining up, we can chat too and find out what we can do more to help each other. This is an angle I hadn't considered before. Or indeed the power roaring lion pictures that briefly distracted us from our chat!
We will be back next week and it's hoped that we'll start to share the hosting so you get a different take on each chat. Do tag on Twitter if you want to get involved. You can also search the group on #childlesshour on Twitter