It’s one of the most difficult times of the year for anyone trying to conceive, and it’s here again. A day focused on celebrating motherhood is bound to be challenging for anyone who is longing for a family, but the time leading up to it can be the hardest part to deal with. It’s virtually impossible to escape Mother’s Day when every local shop has jumped on the commercial bandwagon and even the local supermarket seems to have decided to label anything you might possibly give to anyone else as a “Mother’s Day Gift”.
Mother’s Day can act as a horrible reinforcement of the sense of isolation and loneliness that you may feel as more and more of those around you seem to be pregnant or new parents. It can make you feel like an outsider whose life has become completely cut off form those around you.
If you know anyone else who is experiencing difficulties getting pregnant or who doesn’t have children, this can be the ideal time for meeting up with them. Getting together for a day out, a trip to the cinema or theatre or sharing a meal can be a good way of reminding yourself that you are not alone. This Thursday evening, March 3, there’s a get together for anyone experiencing fertility problems in Central London and if you’d like to come along and join us you’d be very welcome (for details, email firstname.lastname@example.org). On Sunday March 6 itself, you may be interested to know that Gateway Women’s Jody Day will be giving a live talk on BBC Radio’s Mother’s Day Service – you can find details here
However you decide to spend Sunday, remember that you are not alone. There are around 3.5 million people in the UK alone who are going through difficulties at any given time, and every one of them will be experiencing very similar feelings about Mother’s Day.
Today’s Woman’s Hour, on BBC Radio Four, featured the story mentioned here yesterday about home sperm tests in a discussion with Tim Child from Oxford Fertility Unit and journalist Victoria Lambert. As expected, the official line on home sperm testing is that you are far better off going to your GP and having it done properly, but the discussion also raised some wider issues.
Jenni Murray seemed quite genuinely surprised when Tim Child referred to infertility as a disease; it’s the idea that not being able to have children is somehow more about lifestyle that fuels the arguments about not funding treatment so it was good to hear Tim Child explain it so clearly.
The other big issue that came up during the discussion was the idea that infertility was somehow a woman’s problem – Victoria Lambert pointed out that although a number of female celebrities have now come out of the closet about their struggles to conceive, there aren’t similar numbers of male celebrities discussing their fertility problems – despite the fact that a fertility problem is just as likely to be down to the male partner as to the female.
I was particularly pleased to hear education being addressed – it’s so true that we focus all our attention on preventing pregnancy when we talk to teenagers about sex education, but in reality the odds show that they are far more likely to have a fertility problem in the future than to get pregnant at 15. Even now, some women are surprised to discover that fertility treatment can’t turn back the biological clock – and it’s a message we need to get across.
It was good to hear these issues aired during National Infertility Awareness Week – if you didn’t hear the programme, you can still catch it here – we must just hope that raising awareness will have a longer-term effect on attitudes and understanding.