#TalkFertility – I really needed to talk about our infertility journey

Eloise and Ian both had infertility issues and initially kept it quiet that they were having IVF. When the first round was unsuccessful “it felt as though we had no one to lean on” admits Eloise. Here she reflects back on how counselling and taking steps to be more open and talk about infertility helped them cope with their IVF treatment journey. 

Wanted to talk about infertility

“Experiencing infertility and going through IVF is something that only those who go through it can fully understand,” says Eloise. “Sometimes I just really needed to talk about how I was feeling but none of my close friends were in the same position.  

“The first time we had IVF we literally told no one and then when it didn’t work we felt as though we had no one to lean on. We have both learnt that being more open with people around us about our infertility struggles and having IVF is really beneficial and it has also stopped the awkward questions from people about ‘when we were going to have a baby’.  

“I had been a bit naïve and just assumed that it would work first time. I think I just needed a little bit of a reality check and coping mechanisms to help me if it didn’t work again. So, we had two free counselling sessions through Bourn Hall after our first IVF treatment and found it really helpful. 

Eloise and Ian with Esti I needed to talk about infertility

I am quite a private person emotionally 

“The counselling made us think not just about getting pregnant but also about being a couple, which I think is really important.   

“It helped us to understand how we could help each other moving forward into the next round and be a little bit more open-minded. It also helped Ian be more open about how he was feeling instead of just feeling that all he had to do was support me.  

“One thing which our counsellor Jackie suggested we do, which still sticks with me now, is that she told us to take time out for just the two of us to do something once a month and so every single month we went for a massage together.   

“It is something that I would never have even considered doing before, but it really helped.    

“We needed to get an open mind of ‘okay….it hasn’t worked, but we shouldn’t focus on the fact it hasn’t worked but focus instead on the hope that it will work’. We needed to find that middle ground and I think that is what the counselling helped with. And I am quite a private person emotionally, I wouldn’t normally cry in front of anyone and I think Jackie helped with that as well.   

It was nice to talk to someone who wasn’t emotionally involved 

“The counselling after our first treatment definitely helped me cope better with the fact the second one didn’t work either. It was also nice to be able to talk to an independent person who wasn’t actually emotionally involved. I would normally talk to my mum, but she was also grieving the loss that it hadn’t worked and also sad for us because it wasn’t working.”  

The couple had a further unsuccessful cycle and then tackled a fourth. 

“When we found out I was pregnant after the fourth attempt I felt such a mixture of emotions. I had started bleeding before we were due to take a test and so we assumed it hadn’t worked. But then the next morning I woke up and I had really sore boobs and I was like ‘well that has never happened before…’ so I took the test and it was positive but then because I was bleeding I was like ‘well are we losing it, has it worked or not?’   

“So, it was a constant ‘oh I am really happy that we are pregnant, but what is going to happen?’ 

I found going through IVF easier once people knew 

The couple’s daughter Esti was born on 11 January 2020 after two fresh rounds of IVF (with ICSI) and two frozen embryo transfers. In August this year, after further (self-funded) IVF treatment at Bourn Hall the couple found out they were expecting twins – due early next year. 

“The main piece of advice I would give to other couples is to make sure you remain a team and I think for people who haven’t had a child yet I do think the advice that Jackie gave us about still making time for each other made a massive difference,” says Eloise. “I know that a lot of people are quite private about having IVF which I completely understand but I actually found it easier going through it once people knew.”  

Eloise and Ian lived in Luton when they had their NHS treatment and were eligible for three NHS cycles of funded treatment (this funding is being reduced to one cycle). Luton & Dunstable Hospital acts as a satellite clinic for Bourn Hall NHS patients and so the couple had most of their appointments at the Luton & Dunstable with their egg collection, IVF and embryo transfer taking place at Bourn Hall.

Eloise says: “Being able to have our appointments at the Luton & Dunstable actually made it easier with things like work, rather than travelling to Cambridge for all the appointments. The staff there were absolutely incredible and made us feel important rather than just a number. Dr Jude Jose was absolutely amazing, he kept our spirits up throughout the whole process.” 

Ian and Esti


Bourn Hall has a virtual Fertility Support Group which provides the opportunity to share experiences with others on the fertility journey. The meetings are held regularly on the second Wednesday of the month.


Independent fertility counselling

Finding the right person and time to talk about infertility can help

“Infertility can slowly impact on relationships, work life, social life and finances if allowed to,” says Jackie Stewart, Independent Fertility Counsellor, Bourn Hall Clinic. “It can lead to a feeling of being in limbo, with decisions to book holidays, career choices, moving or renovating a house often put on hold until ‘treatment is over’. These feelings are all natural. 

“If you recognise that you are experiencing this, please be reassured you are not alone. 

“By giving yourself the best support and allowing some of these feelings to be present, it is possible to work safely with these thoughts and feelings. Give yourself permission to feel sad and to grieve for the sense of loss you are feeling. 

“Specialist fertility counselling support is available for patients in treatment and for those working towards infertility resolution to help support your feelings and to provide helpful information. 

“It can be comforting to know help is at hand if you are struggling at any point. Accepting and talking about your feelings can be a scary prospect, but it can also be easier than resisting them continually. 

“It can help to find the right time and person to talk to in confidence, somebody you trust who will understand your feelings. This could be your partner, a close family member/friend, or a work colleague. It can also help to speak to an objective outsider like a professional counsellor, a GP or other patients who can empathise with you.” 

Jackie talks about these feelings and coping strategies that couples and individuals can use to help them through IVF in the Fertility Blog and also at the Fertility Support Group. See here for details of the next meeting. 

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