1 in 6

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Hi, I’m Steffie and I am 42.

As many of you will know from earlier blogs, an untreated miscarriage in 2010 has left me unable to conceive naturally. I was ignored by my GP and hospital for two years despite complaining of chronic pains to them regularly.

Four operations later, I have lost one fallopian tube and the other one may as well not be there, it’s now damaged and serves no purpose.

It was a bad case of medical negligence and we tried the legal route hoping that perhaps our hospital would offer us a round of IVF as a gesture of goodwill for ruining a massive part of my life but they didn’t.

I am not eligible to have IVF on the NHS because I don’t fit the criteria of my local primary care trust, I am too old (here in Essex) and even if I was younger my partner already has a child form a previous relationship so that’s us out. For us, it’s private IVF or nothing and it doesn’t come cheap.

The whole experience has left me with severe depression, anxiety, panic attacks and I had to abandon my career because I just couldn’t cope anymore.

I have a very special partner who supports me and if it weren’t for him, I would have given up 2.5 years ago when I found out.

I have always wanted to have children but was like so many other women I was always caught up in work when I was younger and mostly single so it never happened. Then I finally get my man and this all goes wrong so here we are today: #1in6.

I was never keen to talk about my infertility openly until it became a necessity because it’s a very personal thing. I feared being judged and even now I try to avoid thinking about it too much. It’s far too painful. We live in a society geared towards families, everything is about the children you have, not the ones you can’t have.

Although I am still guarded about my feelings and opinions on my situation, there has been a lot of positive to me opening up online.

I have made some amazing friends who support me everyday and these people have somehow made me feel normal-ish again. I am part of something once again, an online community who supports each other. Not all of the friends I have made suffer with infertility, in fact most of the people I have met online have children but the understanding and support remains constant.

My depression has turned me into a bit of a recluse, I rarely go out on my own unless I can be in my car and I avoid any school-run times and holiday times if I have to go anywhere. A lot of my friends distanced themselves from me throughout the discovery of my infertility, it made me feel like I wasn’t normal and most of them have children so they didn’t understand what I was going through. As a result something got broken in my friendships in this big mess and I no longer feel part of the “gang”.

When I started madebysteffieb I had no idea where it would take me, I actually didn’t think it would get me anywhere and I had no special plan.

I have always had a passion for crafting and making things and like I’ve said on my website, crafting is my only real therapy. So, as I was crafting away a few months ago and in the mist of despair, I came up with a very special character. Dotty.

Most of you know the story, I made her, she was adopted and I missed her so much I made another one. There are only two Dotties in the world. One lives with me and the other one lives with a special little friend of ours called Boo.

Dotty was my miracle. Just as I was about to completely give up, suicide was all I could think of. My therapist (who had children) told me that unless I won the lottery I might as well give up and think of another life, I didn’t go back to see her.

I had no hope, I was let down by all my doctors, a lot of my friends, I honestly thought that it would be better if I just wasn’t here anymore. That still happens some days but when Dotty came along she woke a part of me up.

As my Shaun keeps telling me, I am strong, determined and I don’t give up easily! I really didn’t think I could get back up from this but thanks to Dotty I’m still here fighting today.

Of course I have Shaun, and yes he is a real person, but I often think, what good am I to him? I can’t give him a child and it’s all I can think about. Some days when I’m really bad I don’t know how he is still here.

Dotty is the thing I look to when I can’t take it anymore. I look at her and try to keep in mind how far she’s got me. It doesn’t take a genius to see what Dotty is or who she is of course. I’ve spent the last 10 months hiding my pain away, using her to speak up for me, to make people smile hoping that if we take care of them, they won’t forget us and support us.

When I first started I decided that I didn’t want to be depressing day in day out about infertility, I wanted to be discreet, I’m really not one for pity. But I realised that we couldn’t do this on our own so I asked you for help. Thank you for giving it to me.

Dotty is a side of me that I have temporarily lost, she’s fun and she’s happy. I use to be fun, I always liked the idea of being a comedian (in my dreams!) but when depression hit me, that side of me faded and I turned inwards, some days I can’t leave the house for fear of bumping into children or screaming mothers at Tesco.

Dotty forces me to dig up the old Steffie everyday, Dotty is not allowed to be sad or unhappy. She’s done nothing wrong so she deserves to always smile.

Dotty’s up and ready every morning and she says goodnight too, it doesn’t matter is only a few are listening, I don’t feel half as alone as I use to. I don’t wake up most mornings wishing I wasn’t here, I have some hope now.

All I want is to raise enough to have a go at IVF, I’m trying to get to three goes because that’s what couples who fit the criteria would get and apparently the average it takes for it to be successful. I feel that right was taken away from me five years ago, I just want my chance to try.

I think I said this before, it’s the not being able to try that cripples me the most, it frustrates me and it make me angry, it makes me jealous at times. I’ve never been a jealous person and I despise the feeling.

If my doctors had done their job properly who knows what may have happened. But that’s been and gone and we can’t change it, so no matter how exhausted I am of trying to smile everyday, I won’t give up.

Dotty is me trying to survive this for now.

I’ve decided that I want to stay true to myself and what I do, so Dotty is taking over for Fertility Awareness Week as we bring you the story of Grandad Alfred’s wedding to the gorgeous M.J.

You are ALL invited!

Some of you may think that a wedding is hardly related to IVF or Infertility, but that’s too sad for me to talk about for a whole week and besides, Dotty’s a survivor of infertility and she’s decided that she wants to make it a positive week to show the world we’re not alone and we stand together strong and determined.

Soooo, the wedding will take place over the whole week (2nd to the 8th) I have prepared three to four pictures a day of the events as they unfold… I can promise you a lot of smiles, fun and a lot of love of course!

It is going to be a busy week in Cuties HQ so I would like to apologise in advance to those of you who follow and share me as I may not have a lot of time to share you back over the week. I will be back the week after so Dotty and I will be sure to share our favourites again. Whilst Dotty will be having all the fun, Steffie will be doing everything else ;) so please bear with us just for this week, as there are more Cuties to be made. I will try to share other people who are #1in6 (like me) and their stories throughout the week so please take a look if you can.

I found this yesterday and I wanted to share it with you, it’s called “What if” : https://vimeo.com/11214833 (by Keiko Zoll).

I want to say a special thank you to the people supporting me everyday and going out of their ways to do things for me expecting nothing back. You’re amazing and you know who you are!

So I’d like to ask you all will you join us in raising awareness about fertility please?

I will be using the hashtag #1in6 and if you too are experiencing difficulties in conceiving then please join us and use it. If you’re not #1in6 then you can still get involved. Please show your support with shares and smiles.

I really hope you enjoy the wedding and join us in the celebrations…

Lots of love to you all,