Natalie is a clear and articulate communicator so it is no surprise to find out that her recent career has been in broadcasting.
She worked for Heart for many years including presenting the breakfast show for Heart in the Home Counties in Herts, Beds, Bucks and Northants. Following a short break she has recently returned to broadcasting presenting a Sunday afternoon show for Heart North West.
Her podcast – Fertility Podcast – has been going for two years now having been launched in September 2015 and is a great source of information, hope and inspiration to anyone faced with infertility.
Natalie grew up in Nottingham and is the youngest of three with an older sister and brother. She met her husband Richard, in 2010. They were married in 2012 and immediately started trying for a baby. Two years went by and nothing happened. Natalie was 36 at the time and was aware through her best friend who had been through IVF that she would need to apply soon for NHS funding.
They went down the NHS route and following tests were told that her husband had a low sperm count. They then went to a private clinic and were told – in a very insensitive way, just before Christmas – that they would need to have a procedure called Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI).
They were also told that they were eligible for NHS funding as firstly Natalie’s age was within the limits and secondly the problem lay with her husband and not her – both significant factors.
Natalie felt a huge sense of relief that they now knew what the problem was. Richard on the other hand found the diagnosis very hard to digest – he felt a lot of anger and frustration.
She said: “We both found that there seemed to be very little information to help them understand why he had this issue. It was really hard for him to accept as being a personal trainer he was very fit and healthy and ate well. He followed suggestions such as not wearing tight jeans and avoiding keeping his mobile phone in his pocket and his next test showed an improvement.”
Natalie was determined to do everything within her power for her mind set to maximise her chances of becoming pregnant. She had acupuncture and did pregnancy yoga, which helped her to feel positive and calm. She also did affirmations and learnt the art of meditation. Straight after the implantation of her embryos, they went away for a long weekend to a lovely calm relaxing place. Natalie truly believes that all these things helped.
In terms of processing their emotions as a couple Natalie’s husband was very reluctant to talk about his feelings. She knows that the clinic they used do offer counselling but she doesn’t remember them being offered it. Natalie sought out one counselling session before they started their treatment – her husband said he wouldn’t say a word – and he didn’t.
Natalie spoke to her husband about how she wanted her family to know – he didn’t want his to know but respected the fact that that she needed to tell hers.
She acknowledges that her husband really struggled all the way through their journey.
They went through the ICSI procedure and for them it was very straightforward. They were successful with their first cycle and now have a beautiful little boy, Phoenix. They also have three frozen embryos if they decide to have further treatment. Natalie knows how lucky they are for she has friends and knows of many others who have had a much more difficult time.
For Natalie – in hindsight – the main difficulties they had were with learning about the process.
When she began to realise they had fertility issues Natalie’s instinct was to look for audio content to find out the information she needed because that’s how she consumes information. The only podcasts she could find on fertility were American. As a development of her broadcasting she had been learning about podcasts and how to put them together. She decided to launch a podcast about fertility treatment and issues relating to fertility. Initially she reached out to some of the people whose books I’d read. She also contacted the Fertility Show and spoke to Fertility Network’s Susan Seenan.
Natalie recalls: “I went to all the sources of information that I myself had been sourcing and tried to capture from them what they were doing.”
Then, as she started to feel more confident, she built a Twitter profile and started asking on Twitter for people who might be interested in sharing their stories – and that is how Fertility Podcast has grown.
She said: “As somebody who had been through treatment myself I felt that I was in a privileged – but also credible position to know what people felt like”
Many of her podcasts are interviews with experts in the fertility field.
In hindsight Natalie now realises that her and her husband didn’t ask many questions – especially about the ICSI procedure itself. It’s only since she has been talking to consultants through making her podcasts that she has actually come to understand exactly what was involved.
She explains: “As a couple we were really overwhelmed – we just literally did what we were told without truly understanding what was happening. We just weren’t brave enough to ask any questions, or even to know what questions to ask.”
For the first year of Fertility Podcast Natalie remained anonymous but found that she began to feel increasingly uncomfortable.
She was acutely aware that she was talking about the fact that this subject was taboo but wasn’t prepared to say who she was. She was also finding it difficult to “own” the podcast. When her son turned one she did a “coming out” podcast which was, in her words: “brilliant, incredibly liberating and I felt it was just proof to myself of how difficult a subject this is for everybody.” Shortly after that she became involved in the Fertility Fest with Jessica Hepburn and decided to go the whole hog – she had a T-shirt made with Fertility Podcast on it.
This then led to her telling her husband’s family about the podcasts and then to both of them talking about their experience – his family were fascinated.
Since then her husband has talked to another friend’s husband who was faced with the same issue.
Natalie has done a wonderful thing – she has taken her own pain, her need to know and her desire to understand more about the heart-breaking world of infertility and has used them to create a trustworthy, reliable and – above all, caring resource for those facing fertility issues. http://www.thefertilitypodcast.com/.