Ada Nicodemou shares her experience of infertility & IVF
It’s a question that is often asked out of innocent curiosity, but for couples who are struggling with infertility it can be dreaded and incredibly difficult to answer.
It can trigger feelings of loss, anxiety, sadness and shame, especially when the question is posed unexpectedly.
And, however strongly you may feel that your fertility is nobody else’s business, it’s an inquiry that you will inevitably be expected to respond to.
Whether you attempt to ignore it, try to laugh it off or simply say you would rather not talk about it, it’s a good idea to be prepared and have a few stock answers.
“There’s no right or wrong answer,” says Genea Counselling Services Manager Evelyn Zwahlen. “It’s about being prepared and working out a strategy that works for you.”
When Genea patient and Home and Away actress Ada Nicodemou went though a year of trying to get pregnant without success, she had the added pressure of being in the public eye and having spoken openly about her strong desire to be a mother.
“If you talk to magazines about your wedding and your engagement, you leave yourself open for the next question after you get married – which is when are you having a baby?” Ada says.
“I would try to put a brave face on it and say ‘Oh, it will happen when it’s meant to happen’. But it’s a question that is really hard to hear, because I was already putting a lot of pressure on myself and asking: Why isn’t it happening?”
Behind the scenes, Ada had a small support group to confide in, including her husband Chrys Xipolitas and friends who had also experienced fertility issues.
When the opportunity came for her to talk publicly about her long-awaited pregnancy, she made a deliberate choice to share her experience of infertility and IVF, in a bid to break down taboos and encourage other women not to be ashamed.
“We don’t talk about it enough,” she says. “There’s nothing to be embarrassed about and that’s why I decided to talk about it publicly. This is something that I went through and it’s really important to me.”
Finding someone you can open up to while you are on the journey can be very positive.
“You search out for people who have gone through it,” Ada adds. “I found it was really nice talking to people and knowing there was light at the end of the tunnel. I found it better to be talking one-on-one with people who I knew or were friends of friends. It just felt more real. That really helped me.”
Whether or not to tell people about your infertility journey is an intensely personal decision. The key can often be giving careful consideration as to who you include in your personal support team.
Some tips recommended by Genea counsellors include:
- Make telling or not telling a conscious decision, not a knee-jerk reaction
- Be prepared with a stock of quick answers for uninvited questions about having children
- Be flexible in who you tell what – there is no “one size fits all”
- Be willing to educate or avoid people who don’t know how to support you
- Consider accessing professional support on your journey