Browsing Category

Secondary infertility

Self-care Baby loss Secondary infertility

Self-care during tough times

January 28, 2019

Today on #thebigselfcareshare we have Kate Meakin and her husband Phil. I first encountered Kate on Instagram and we connected through our struggles with secondary infertility and recurrent loss. Here she opens up about her husband’s recent cancer diagnosis and the couple’s approach to self-care during a challenging time.

Kate & Phil Meaks self-care during tough times

Tell us about yourselves.

Phil and I been together for 17 years, meeting when we were just 21. We finally married 11 years after meeting and are blessed to have a beautiful little boy Austin via IVF. We are just about to embark on our 5th IVF after enduring 3 miscarriages since our son was born.

Infertility has been a major part of our marriage and I started blogging and sharing our story after our first miscarriage. Writing is very cathartic for me and I will always try to help break the silence around baby loss and infertility. Last year, at the age of 38, Phil was diagnosed with a brain tumour. This was devastating for us all, so this year is all about getting Phil fit and well and taking care of ourselves as we try to complete our family.

What does self-care mean for you?

Phil admits he has never really thought about self-care, but what it means to him now is looking after yourself and having more awareness around when you need to make the time for it. Before his cancer diagnosis working a 60 hour week was the norm so self-care wasn’t high on the priority list.

To me, it’s not self-indulgent to care for yourself, it’s a necessity to keeping fit and well.

As a stay at home mum, I have more opportunities to focus on self-care, especially when Austin is in nursery. I make sure that on one of those days nothing is planned so I can enjoy a very quiet day of writing or resting at home. To me, it’s not self-indulgent to care for yourself, it’s a necessity to keeping fit and well. Now with Phil’s diagnosis, there is even more emphasis on self-care; radiotherapy is gruelling for Phil and I need to make sure he has the time to rest, just as do I. It’s about keeping us both healthy, physically and mentally.

What do you find most challenging about self-care?

For both of us, the challenge is setting time aside for self-care when life gets busy. Austin keeps us very busy and we both love to spend time with him, so it can be difficult to prioritise. Phil works hard for his young family and because I’m at home it’s easy to think I’m resting but choosing to dedicate that time to self-care is isn’t simple.

How do you incorporate self-care into your daily routine?

Since his cancer diagnosis, Phil understands now more than ever how important self-care is. The biggest side effect from radiotherapy is fatigue and so we always make sure that he’s well rested so he sleeps for as long as he needs to and takes daily naps. It’s also important for him to keep fit during treatment so it’s recommended that he walk 30 mins a day, which has now become part of his routine.

It’s rare that there’s a single day where there isn’t some sort of treatment or appointment and physically they can be quite demanding. Even the journey to and from the hospital can be gruelling for both of us, and with our next round of IVF now underway it’s essential that we both live and eat well; good fuel is so important.

I have dedicated a day for myself too; a day to write and allow myself the opportunity to speak the words my mouth sometimes struggles to say.

I have dedicated a day for myself too; a day to write and allow myself the opportunity to speak the words my mouth sometimes struggles to say. And taking 5 minutes to just quieten my mind through breathing exercises or a heated face mask is bliss.

On the days Austin is in nursery, Phil and I do simple things together like go out for brunch or a nice walk.

Share a self-care tip, something that’s helped you on the path to being kinder to yourselves.

For Phil, it’s about letting others know when he needs time to rest. The fatigue caused by radiotherapy means relaxation is important and by telling us when he’s tired Phil’s less likely to be interrupted and will get the rest he needs. For me, it’s making self-care a part of every day and not just when I feel exhausted. Prevention is the best cure and so I make sure that self-care is a part of my routine.

Thank you, Kate and Phil, for taking a moment to openly share your experiences. I know your honesty and approach to self-care will benefit others going through their own struggles, fertility or otherwise.

You can follow Kate on Instagram and visit her website where both she and Phil contribute:

Secondary infertility Our story

Does secondary infertility have a place?

June 6, 2018

A few weeks ago I viewed a short but impactful video, a talk claiming that those experiencing secondary infertility don’t have a place at fertility events. So powerful was the effect of this talk that it silenced me. For three whole weeks.

So powerful was the effect of this talk that it silenced me. For three whole weeks.

Am I not worthy of growing my family? Am I selfish for trying to grow it because I have a daughter? Am I less important because I’m coping with secondary infertility? These are the questions I’ve been asking myself whilst simultaneously trying to find the courage to embark on a sixth pregnancy.

Throughout May I’ve ummed and ahhed about discontinuing my Instagram account and this blog because, initially, I created it so I could be part of the trying to conceive community. I wanted to share my experiences and safely open up about my thoughts and feelings, which I often harbour for fear of upsetting others. This talk I watched, this misinformed diatribe, confirmed those fears.

Why is this so important to me?

I wanted to write about this weeks ago but I simply couldn’t find the words. I didn’t know quite how to respond and emotions were running high. What’s brought me to write about it now is going back through my Instagram messages and emails.

Since its launch in February, this blog has encouraged women to reach out to me. And it feels good to be able to answer their questions. Yes, it feels positive to have opened up about my losses, my recurrent miscarriage tests and my treatment plan for a future pregnancy. But more than that, it feels powerful to be connecting with those experiencing the same thoughts and feelings and making similar decisions. Some are coping with baby loss, others are trying to conceive for the first time, many are exploring testing and treatment options, and some are going through IVF. While I would never be foolish enough to compare my fertility journey to that of a couple trying for their first child, does my fertility status mean I can’t be there for them? Does it mean they can’t be there for me?

I refuse to let a misguided talk reduce the pain I’ve felt while trying to grow my family. Hope and fear, love and pain, happiness and sadness. The ups and downs of this journey are what unites us. They help us to start conversations. They help us to give people a voice. They help us to build a community.

Hope and fear, love and pain, happiness and sadness. The ups and downs of this journey are what unites us.

So let’s not tear that community down because some of us happen to have had one or more successful pregnancies. Behind those pregnancies are couples that may have experienced extreme heartache to get there and may be in a position to support those on the journey to parenthood for the first time.

Does secondary infertility matter?

Do I think it matters? Should there be a label? In my view, yes and yes. It’s a term that I’ve come to embrace because at the end of 2016, after coping with recurrent loss, I felt like I had nowhere to turn. Then in discussing my losses online, I came across the words ‘secondary infertility’. And those words helped me find a space where I felt safe enough to open up and eventually connect with women and men experiencing all kinds of fertility struggles. This label was part of a journey that brought us to clinics, that helped us arrange tests and finally make plans for a future pregnancy.

As I approach Harris’s second birthday I’m feeling raw and emotional. I want to honour that emotion. I wish to honour his memory. At the same time, I feel more grateful for my daughter than I can explain. And yet I still want to grow my family. I still want to give Cora a baby brother or sister. It’s a mixed bag of emotions and there’s no shame in that. There’s no shame in secondary infertility.

So I’m waving goodbye to the guilt that I’ve already worked so hard to relieve myself of, and I’ll continue to be there for others, just as I hope they can be there for me.

Sarah x