Powerful personal stories of hope and resilience in the quest to have a child – Jersey Evening Post

ALL this week this newspaper has been supporting a new campaign called Wouldnt Be Here by sharing stories of how different couples and individuals in Jersey have been affected by infertility.

The aim of the campaign is to break down taboos and raise awareness of infertility and the work of Jerseys Assisted Reproduction Unit.

The stories are written by the patients past and present themselves their words are far more powerful than any journalists.

Each one is unique their circumstances are different, their journeys may follow similar patterns but take different twists and turns and the outcomes are not always the same. Among those sharing their stories are couples affected by cancer, those with medical conditions or unexplained fertility, a woman who has decided to go it alone, a couple who turned to a surrogate, two women who became best friends via their shared experience and a husband and wife who have suffered some of the most crushing setbacks in their journey but are still hopeful and fighting for their happy ever after.

They may be unique insights into a rarely talked about subject, but there are some key themes that emerge from their stories.

Firstly, the resilience of these people to cope with everything that infertility has thrown at them miscarriages and baby loss included.

Each and every one of them also talks about hope and the part it played in their journey staying positive with the help of the ARU and its staff, as well as with the support of their family, friends and community (work places included).

Even the stories with a happy ending make it clear how tough it was at times to get there. They may sound like the words come easily but many spilled tears as they wrote down their stories, their emotions still raw from years of major highs and crushing lows. Most are incredibly nervous about sharing their stories but want to do it both for themselves and for others.

Each and every one of these people is incredibly brave to be telling such a personal story, but each is doing so for the same reason to raise awareness and show others going through it that they are not alone.

Thank you to each and every one of them for being willing to put themselves out there like this. And to those who decided they didnt want to, thats absolutely fine too.

Another key theme is just how much the team at the ARU have meant to all these Islanders.

As that service goes through a redesign pending the retirement of Jerseys leading fertility expert Neil Maclachlan in January, it is important that this fact is not lost on those making the decisions.

The ARU is not just about the treatments it can offer but the support and hope that it provides. And a lot of that is down to the people.

Neils name comes up in more or less all of the stories being told this week, and he is pictured front and centre in the pictures taken by Sophie Darwin for the campaign featuring babies, bumps and children who wouldnt be here without the ARU.

More or less everyone affected by infertility has a story to tell about Neil and his commitment to the job. From those who recall that he went out of his way to personally ring them with the good news they were finally pregnant after years of trying, to those who say he stayed late on shift or came back on duty just to help deliver their baby that he had fought with them for years to create, he is held in very high esteem.

He has been the guiding light for infertility treatment in Jersey for decades and forged some important links with clinics and experts around the world. There is now some nervousness about what happens next, who will carry on fighting for patients and leading the service?

Those making the decisions have heard this feedback from patients already, but if they needed any further evidence that an expert is needed to take on the torch then the stories being published this week provide it.

When the call went out from Chloe Fosse of Tiny Seeds Jersey herself a former ARU patient who has made it her mission to raise awareness for people to take part in this campaign, she called on all infertility warriors to consider taking part. Because these people, regardless of their circumstances or outcomes or whether they choose to talk about it publicly or not, are absolute fighters, and I am proud to call myself one of them.

Its not a club any of us wants to be a part of but these last few weeks as this conversation has opened up publicly have been an empowering reminder that we are in this together.

Many of the stories being shared this week also show that you never leave that club, it becomes a part of who you are and, if that is your outcome (as we must remember it isnt for everyone), where your family came from in a really good way.

So this week as you read these personal accounts of infertility battles, of babies lost and babies born, please be kind, show empathy and recognise how brave these warriors are.

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Powerful personal stories of hope and resilience in the quest to have a child - Jersey Evening Post

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