What were you like as a kid? Were you a leader? Did you like sport or music?
I was quite eccentric. At five years old I would style myself in red wellies with a bridesmaid dress, then accessorise with my thick lensed glasses; wild, knotted hair (which simply repelled hairbrushing) and an enthusiastic smile.
Growing up I got interested in performance and decided to be on the West End stage. I trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama but things didn’t go to plan. I got a vocal cord cyst and ended up having surgery to remove it. My voice was never really what it was and I never achieved my ‘dream’.
I told myself I’d failed. I watched friends who had chosen more linear careers steadily rise up the ranks, creating good incomes and comfortable lifestyles. I wondered why I had made my stupid choices! I wished I was different…I wished I had chosen accounting, or teaching, or anything which actually offered employment options!
I wondered how on earth I was going access my potential…because I knew it was lurking in there somewhere, it’s just that I’d become completely disconnected to it.
In short, my confidence was rock bottom and then… infertility hit!
Those 2 years and 2 months while we tried to conceive included one operation to remove a fibroid, 6 rounds of the ovulation drug clomid, 4 rounds of ovulation induction through injectables and one round of IVF…and they changed my life forever. It doesn’t sound that bad written down like that does it? Some people have actually said this to me, ‘Oh, 2 years – not so bad’.
And it’s true, my story is not the hardest you will read about. So far I haven’t been through miscarriage. And I did end up having a beautiful daughter, thanks to IVF.
But at the time? I was consumed by it. I was a fully paid up member of the infertility club. I googled non-existent symptoms, I had anxiety dreams over fertility appointments (because the NHS kept cancelling them); I lost my sense of identity completely and I felt that awful, wounded, animal pain on hearing pregnancy announcements. I had the fear. The fear that it would never happen for me, and that I wouldn’t know what to do if it didn’t.
After about a year of this, I was desperate for something else to focus on. I picked up a book, The Artist’s Way. It was a 12 week course in ‘discovering and recovering your artistic self’.
‘F*** it’, I thought. I’ll give this a whirl.
Reader, it changed my life.
I felt like I had woken up from a deep sleep. I followed the course and I threw myself into the work it asked me to do. I wrote letters to myself, I changed my habits. At the same time, I learnt about nutrition and how to nourish my body properly. I was making new recipes, I was discovering well-being and self development in a way I had never heard was possible while I went through this awful journey, trying and trying to become a Mum.
My career picked up – I won an award with my work as a producer and flew to New York to get it. I made decisions on big things I had never before had the confidence to do, like get laser eye surgery. I cut my hair shorter than it had ever been and felt like a new woman!
I still howled with frustrated pain when rounds of treatment didn’t work, I still sobbed and wanted to throw things. I still wanted to be a Mum more than anything in the world, but my perspective had changed.
I was actually living my life, driving my life… I was no longer a passenger.
This was a revelation.
The only conversations I had had with anyone around fertility and infertility centred around The Awfulness.
Don’t get me wrong: it is awful.
In fact, I think it’s probably one of the hardest possible journeys you can experience.
But my own story actually gave me so much that I was compelled to share it.
So I started to build my social media community to see if anyone else wanted to hear this side of things. I launched it just over a year ago and the response has been pretty amazing. Within a few months I spoke on podcasts and held my first event – a talk and workshop. The tickets sold out so I decided to do more events and I launched a podcast and my ‘Think! What not to say” campaign too (so the wider world can start understanding how to support people properly).
The campaign has led to various talks and I’m so proud that this year it’s been featured by the fantastic Fertility Fest at both their Manchester and London events.
Now I run two new businesses.
One with my amazing partner, Cat where we run regular events for people going through infertility in fabulous locations with inspiring speakers, delicious food and a party atmosphere and my own business, where I create self-development online courses specifically for people going through this. My first short course is out now – it’s a 10 day mindset shift with just 5 to 10 minutes a day of online audio, in a clear focussed framework, gently guiding you through to a new perspective using meditation, journal prompts and a few other things. The feedback has been incredible and I am thrilled that I can now offer something actionable to help people start to gain the clarity I was able to find.
Over the last 12 months, the global TTC (trying to conceive) community online has become like family. I am continually astounded by the support men and women across the globe are offering to each other despite the grief and pain they’re dealing with. The support they offer me in turn is equally as powerful, as we go through this all again to try to conceive a sibling for my daughter.
So, thank you Larisa, for having me on your brilliant website and letting me share my story here.
If you want to join my community, you can find me on Instagram and Facebook where I chat host regular live videos and lead meditations. Or you can subscribe here for weekly support, news on my events and lots of other goodness. We are changing the conversation around Fertility, one step at a time. It’s getting better, step by step…and in the end, I think it all comes down to this: support, love and understanding from all perspectives.
And a bit of a laugh. You’ve just got to laugh!!
Take care and remember: ‘you are the captain of your soul’