Fire and Ashes

by | 5 Mar 2017

It’s shaping up to be a mad March…

Next weekend, I’m speaking at the Families Through Surrogacy conference on how to cope with infertility (11 March). Then, on Sunday, I’m giving a talk at the Southbank’s WOW Festival (12 March) on the need for better fertility education. At the end of the month (25 & 26 March) I’m heading to the north west to host the Q&A stage at the inaugural Fertility Show in Manchester. Check out the links for further details. In addition, this Thursday, I’ve been invited to Cambridge University to talk to a group of academics about how reproductive technologies are impacting on society and, Thursday gone, I gave a talk to a group of student midwives at City University on how fertility treatment might affect the patients in their care.

I do love the fact that the childless black sheep of the fertility industry – a.k.a me – gets invited to speak at all these events. It fuels the fire in my belly for all the things I want to change to make life better in relation to fertility, infertility and IVF. I continually hold onto the words of the American academic Margaret Mead who said: ‘a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.’ I want to change the world.

Sometimes it feels as if the science of making babies (and sometimes not) is a new and modern cause – after all next year will only be the fortieth anniversary of Louise Brown’s birth and forty years is nothing in the history of time. But on Monday night, I was sitting in the Octagon Theatre in Bolton and got the most potent reminder that this issue isn’t new at all. I was watching a brilliant play called Ashes by David Rudkin, written and first staged in the early seventies, it tells the story of a couple unable to conceive before the advent of IVF.

I think what shocked me most was that whilst watching the experiences this couple went through, I reaslied how little had changed. Infertility has always equaled inadequacy; infertility has always equaled isolation; and in the days before IVF, infertility seemed even more insurmountable than it does today.

If you can make the trip, I’d highly recommend you go and see it – but get in quick as it closes on the 11th March. The piece, directed by David Thacker, is beautifully cast and staged and it’s actually rather extraordinary that it was written by a man when, sadly, men still find it so difficult to talk about infertility today. Admittedly, the text does include some rather dated references to the wider political preoccupations of the time, but at its best it is a love story about two people who can’t get what they want and who society is happy to outcast and overlook. Sound familiar? From ashes, the fire inside me reignites and reminds me there’s still so much to change.



  1. BristolGirl

    Hi Jessica
    Having a good old catch up on your blog, absorbing stuff, I’ve been rooted to the sofa a good while now! (which is during my dreaded 2 week wait after IVF #1… straight to self-funding given CCG rules on reduced ovarian reserve )

    I completely admire all the physical challenges you are throwing yourself into. I think I’d be the same; if ones body neglects to serve in maternal way, then I’d sure put it to use in another, relishing experiences that would not be so doable laden with offspring. The Argentina experience sounded magnificent, and I’ll be pinging some sponsorship your way for the marathon, you go Girl! (I did one in my 20s, and plan to leave it at one!)

    And the very best with all your speaking engagements too. In part inspired by your proacivity, I hooked up with Fertility Fairness to persuade them to shine a light on the circumstance that has inflicted me, and denied NHS treatment. I’ll be contributing some personal research, and testimony, regardless of my IVF outcome. It’s important and cathartic.

    Best wishes, A x

  2. thepursuitofmotherhood

    Hi Bristol Girl (love Bristol by the way!) firstly a MASSIVE thank you for sponsoring me. It means so much each and every time a message pops into my inbox from Virgin to say that someone has donated and really spurs me on. Did my first 16 miles on Friday, nearly killed me, so totally understand why it’s one and only marathon for you! Hope the last few days of your Dreaded Two Week Wait have been ok – that’s just what I’ve always always called it. It’s brilliant that you’ve been in touch with Fertility Fairness. I know lots of people find it difficult to speak out and once anyone is out the other side of the nightmare (whatever the outcome) they tend to want to move on but more people speaking out is the only way we’ll get change so it’s so so important. Stay strong, and keep in touch, and thank you so much again for being a kindred spirit! Jessica x