Prologue Looking for Easter Eggs

One thing I have always been sure of in my life is that I wanted to be a mum. As a child I used to play with my dolls for hours; as a teenager I was the super nanny in the neighbourhood; and as a young adult I wrote top 10 name lists in my diary for any future children.

I was only waiting to find the Love of my Life.

When I was 28 years old, I met the Love of my Life. Just when I was about to travel through Asia on my own for two months.

I quickly booked my flight and went ahead with my plan. After six weeks he came to find me and we have been inseparable ever since.

Our relationship has been filled with passion, love and adventure: we have always had all that going for us.

On my thirtieth birthday I stopped using birth control: Frank and I were very sure we were ready to start a family. I thought it would be a beautiful moment to ‘conceive a baby’.

The first month went by…then the second… and the third. My belief and self- confidence of becoming a mum slowly changed into a deep and overwhelming feeling of insecurity.

After a year of waiting, we went to the doctor’s. He sent us to hospital. After many physical examinations and months of waiting, we started our first fertility treatments: IUI and IVF. We became experts in areas that had been unknown to us before.

My true story is about love, travelling and fertility issues. Three elements that have played big roles in our lives. The book is about how relaxed we used to be, how we always try to look at things from the bright side, and how we dealt with and made up for our disappointments (another failed IVF attempt? – Let’s book a trip to Marrakech), until the moment I felt genuinely miserable. I realised that the women around me got pregnant easily and we were left behind, empty-handed.

Although she has her own story to tell, my older sister gave birth to two healthy children in the time that we were trying. My friend got pregnant three times in three years. I was really happy for all those pregnant women, but I was fed up and most of all so sad and disappointed that we were not blessed with the miracle of life.

So, what was plan B? Can you still be happy if you don’t get what you wish for most in life? We have always learnt that if you work hard enough, you can make your dreams come true, reach your goals. Our dream though, despite all the hormone treatments and dozens of hospital visits, never seemed to come true.

How far should you go? We were able to create the high points in our lives only to end up on a rollercoaster of hope, disappointment, sadness, acceptance and moving on. The feelings of insecurity were growing, and the feelings of sadness were getting more unbearable every time we found out I was not pregnant.

Although the wish had not been fulfilled yet, we were able to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Suddenly the sun started to shine again and our luck returned.

I hope that you, as a reader of my story, can both laugh about and cry along with the story and that you will find that you can empathise with what we have been through.

Anne Tel

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How do you create awareness?

IVF should not be a taboo anymore in today’s society. 1 out of 6 couples suffer fertility problems, which is a lot. About 3.5 million people in the UK. If you are having fertility National-Fertility-Awareness-Week-problems, you should know you are not alone in this. Once I started my treatments back in 2008 I felt an exception. The moment I started to talk about it, I found out I was not the only one.

In the first years of trying to conceive, it is quite common not to talk about it. I felt I was failing and besides vulnerable I felt a bit ashamed perhaps. I decided to write in my diary, it was like a therapy of dealing with it. I really wanted to read a personal story of someone with the same experience. I knew all the medical brochures, but I needed more than that to prepare myself for the treatments.

Later on I decide to come out of the closet and be honest and open about it. It made my life easier. I decide to share my story andwrite a book about it. Not a patient story, but more about my real life, love, travelling and IVF. Not a sad story, but also with humor and love, to make people smile.

My story created awareness as it was distributed among 7.000 pregnant women. Most of them got pregnant the easy way. Before they could not relate to our fertility world until they read my book. How can we expect an outsider to understand our world if we do not explain it?cover engels

For this reason I decided to offer my ebook Looking for Easter Eggs in the national awareness fertility week for only £ 2. And I hope that your family and friends will read it to create a better awareness and understanding in the society. If you can’t talk about your deepest feelings and thoughts, I hope my book can help you with that and that it will give you some extra comfort and hope.

What you can do to create awareness: be honest. Talk about it. Just say what you are really feeling. Be proud of yourself, of all the steps you take make your dream come true.

Sounds of silence

Did you ever wonder what it is like about not to be able to get pregnant? logo awareness

In this multitasking world, we want it all. Career, love and a baby. Mostly you get what you want if you work hard enough to reach your goals. But, no matter how hard you try, a baby is not in the stars for everyone.

One in six couples experience difficulty conceiving. Not always an easy topic to talk about. Everyone around you gets pregnant easily, but you. You are fighting. For years.

It is easy to talk about your successes in your career. But you feel the pain in your heart about your infertility and you do not want people to talk about your private problems. If people ask, you do not give an honest answer. People often hurt your feelings, as they do not know your story. You hear many jokes that are not funny. You cannot blame them, because you do not tell that your second IVF attempt just failed. You cry in silence, looking everytime for a safe place where you can hide.

I remember those days, working in the office, wishing for a miracle every second but never having send one your way. I hid away in the quiet disabled toilet, I called my love to tell that again we did not succeed. I cried silent tears, breathe in slowly and breathe out and then I had to put on my happy face and get back to work. You have to overcome this one as well.

If you get pregnant you get sixteen weeks off. If you are in IVF, you just need to keep on working, surviving day by day, stuffed with hormones, no one knows about all the disappointments you are dealing with.

One day I decided to tell people. But, who do you trust to tell? When people asked me the direct question, I answered them truthfully. ‘Yes, we do want to have a baby, but sometimes you are not that lucky. You do not get what you dream of…’ This time it was not my sound of silence, but the person who asked. Shocked by my honest answer. It felt good. This infertility situation gave me so much stress by not talking about it. It was a breakthrough to start talking and a weight was lifted from our shoulders. People care and I discovered we were not the only one. I truly believed I was an exception.

I wrote down my story about my experiences and emotions, my book was published in the Netherlands last year. Thousands of people read it and loved it, even those without fertility problems. It was also a challenge to overcome to share my personal story to all the people I know, and people I don’t know.

Now I find out there are thousands of people experiencing the same pain, feeling the same emotions. They recognize their emotions completely in my story, it is like I told their story. It was the story I had wanted to read before we started our ride in the IVF rollercoaster.

I learned to be proud. We were able to give everything we had to chase our dreams. My love Frank and I were in it together. We found a way to survive.

After every disappointment, we booked a trip. Somewhere close to our home country The Netherlands, like Germany of Belgium, sometimes we had to travel far to Brazil or Indonesia to retrieve our happiness inside and have a physically great distance between travel destination and the hospital. We created our peaks in life.

Our journey was not easy at all, but we managed to stay happy.

The impact of IVF on our daily life was enormous. But I think today we can enjoy the moments of happiness in our life even more.

Thankfully our story has a happy end. We got a beautiful little girl, our Felicia is our everyday joy and pleasure. I see it a compliment when people tell me they’d also have loved our story if this miracle had not happened to us. Just by the way of living, living the good life. Be happy and grateful. Cherish the beautiful things in life and know that the peaks you can create yourself. I think this struggle made me a happier and stronger person today.

Anne Tel , Writer ‘Paaseitjes zoeken in het AMC’

The Netherlands, published in 2012

Thanks to Helen Adrienne (www.mind-body-unity.com) who inspired me to write this blog.