Apologies. This blog is long overdue – it’s unlike me, but I have not been entirely myself.
I must begin with a shout out to my Sherpa who guided me safely to the top of Island Peak in Nepal. Since I started my mountain madness two years ago with Kilimanjaro, my climbs have been getting increasingly tougher. Island Peak involved crossing a glacier crevasse on a terrifying Everest-style ladder (well actually it was three ladders strung together) and then a final roped 70 degree ascent. It was tough and without Geljen – my super Sherpa who has summited Everest three times – I might not have made it. But I did and here we are together at the top.
Secondly, I want to congratulate everyone who made Fertility Awareness Week (30th October to 5th November) the best yet. I returned from Nepal the day before it started and got immediately caught in the whirlwind. There was lots of press and media (thank you to everyone who came out and did their bit – mine was appearing in a feature in the magazine Closer). I also want to send my love and respect to the amazing Anya Sizer who spearheaded an important event at the House of Commons to discuss what we need to do about the crisis of IVF on the NHS. Then, at the end of the week, there was the Fertility Show at London’s Olympia where I hosted a total of 12 events in two days! Here’s a pic of me on stage trying to employ my best interviewing skills with lovely authors Helen Davies (More Love To Give) and Rachel Cathan (336 Hours) along with Tone Jarvis-Mack from Fertility Road.
Thank you to everyone who has messaged me over the last few weeks. Your contact and support is truly the thing that motivates me to keep going – because sometimes my life feels a little overwhelming and this has been particularly true over the last few weeks which is why I haven’t been myself.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that it’s exactly four years ago since I came out to the world about my pursuit of motherhood – in a feature for Grazia magazine. When I look back, it feels extraordinary how much has happened since then. Most of it has been really good stuff – publishing a book; establishing the world’s first arts festival about fertility, infertility and the science of making babies; swimming a channel; running a marathon, climbing a mountain (in fact, several). But there has also been some hard stuff in my life which I’ve not talked or written about publicly – stuff that has been much harder than crossing a crevasse on a steel ladder!
So I’ve decided I’m going to take a short blog sabbatical. Just until the new year – don’t worry I’ll be back. 2018 is going to be a really important year for me. The month of May will see the return of Fertility Fest at London’s Bush Theatre from 8th to 13th May. We’re planning an amazing week-long programme of activities – even bigger and better than before – with a massive festival weekend on Friday 11th, Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th May – put the dates in your diaries NOW. As part of the festival we will also be launching a major new fertility arts education project for young people in collaboration with the National Theatre. My dream is that ultimately this will tour to all UK schools so that the next generation will have a much better understanding of how their fertility works; how modern families are being made; and what reproductive science can and cannot do. In a world where sub fertility and childlessness is rapidly increasing and IVF is likely to become less and less available on the NHS, I know that I have to use my own experience to make things better for those taking on the baton of life next.
Along with Fertility Fest, there will also be the publication of my new book, 21 Miles, which is officially coming out in June thanks to the 281 lovely people that, to date, have supported my pre-order crowdfunding campaign. I’ve just received the manuscript edit from my publishers so between now and Christmas, I’ll be working hard to make sure it can be the best book it can be.
People often tell me how brave I’ve been to speak so openly about my infertility but with the publication of 21 Miles, I’m going to need to find new courage. Some of the hard stuff I’ve alluded to above will soon become clear – my struggle to conceive didn’t just result in taking away something I never had, it also took away something I never thought I’d lose. I know I’m not alone in this and I need to make sense of it, not just for myself but for other people going through it too.
So for now ‘au revoir’ but just until new year 2018 – which will be the beginning of the next chapter in my life and the vocation I never chose. No doubt there will be a few more mountains too…