We are so lucky to have the wonderful Sarah Banks as our fertility life coach expert, Read this amazing blog about her journey and how she helps others on a similar path. She will be at the Fertility Show London this weekend at her stand and also in the Babble Lounge…
When I started my TTC journey I couldn’t have imagined how long it would take, the things it would make me feel and do, and how it would change me as a person.
My main career goal in life has always been to be a mum. I was ambitious in my plans to get as far as I wanted in my career, but knew that as soon I was ready to have a baby, I would give it all up to focus on being a mummy.
I started a role in buying straight from university and absolutely loved my job as a lingerie buyer, basically getting paid to go shopping. It was hard work, but very rewarding. I was the youngest buyer on the team by far and was keen to progress and get as much experience as I could.
I worked my way up to a senior buyer role, working for various companies. By the time we decided to start trying for a baby I was working 7.30am to 11pm most days and was ready to take off some time on maternity leave with the baby I would obviously conceive straight away.
My partner had set up his own business, so we were both very ambitious, driven and busy. It seems that’s not the best circumstances or conditions for getting pregnant – we were exhausted all the time and didn’t get much quality time together.
Working in an environment with lots of other women was really tough as there was always someone pregnant in the office, and most of the chat centered around babies.
As time passed I found my job less satisfying, I didn’t want to be there, I wanted to be at home with a baby. I would cry most days on my drive home from work, and every bad day just acted as a reminder that I still wasn’t pregnant. I would often have to run to the loo for a cry at work when it got too much, or my period had just come again.
Dancing is a huge passion
My other passion in life is dancing. At the same time as working as a buyer doing 12 or 15 hour days, I was dancing 11 hours a week, including teaching a team of ten to 13 year olds. I competed at a national level and have held the national champion title ten times. I also danced in a team and with partners for various dance styles.
When I started IVF I had to temporarily drop out of the team and stop lessons with my partners because I couldn’t guarantee whether I’d be able to compete, if the IVF worked. I found this really hard as dancing was my one release from my infertility struggles, and it was awful missing competitions (especially after the IVF failed), it really highlighted that I wasn’t pregnant. It felt like I was having to give up everything I enjoyed with no guarantee of success.
Infertility had changed me as a person. It had stripped me of all the things I enjoyed, made me question the purpose of my life and had turned me into an obsessed, emotional wreck. My only focus was getting pregnant and I felt completely out of control.
Eventually, after my heartbreaking failed FET, I decided that something had to change – I couldn’t go on feeling so down and unhappy with my life – I had to prioritise myself rather than everything else.
I knew I needed help to believe that my next FET would work, otherwise why was I putting myself through it, emotionally and physically.
I sought help from a life coach that had helped a friend of mine. She helped me deal with other anxieties that I didn’t realise I had, gave me techniques to manage my negative thoughts and helped me believe there was every chance that my next cycle would work.
I started to book things in advance that I wouldn’t have done previously, I was using the techniques she taught me, and I was taking back control of my life in any way that I could – just so that I felt like I was doing something.
A successful IVF cycle changed my life
When my next FET was successful everything changed. I knew just how lucky I was and this was my chance to do something that would make a difference.
I was sat in a sales meeting one day and I felt totally unfulfilled. I was making money for shareholders, and I wasn’t doing anything that was helping anyone. I had been through the worst time in my life, and there were so many other people in need (in so many different circumstances). I decided at that moment that I was going to make a change, and that once I had had my miracle baby I was going to work helping others.
I knew from the start that I wanted to help people who were also struggling to conceive and going through treatment. I knew I wanted to help them take action to feel better, so they could make the changes they need to, to support them through their journey and get them in a better state emotionally.
I totally believe that the changes I made after seeing a life coach made a huge difference in me feeling better, taking control and my next cycle being successful. I wanted to do this for others.
Coaching helped me, so I want to help others
I was fairly certain that coaching was the best way to do this, I did a free two day taster course, and signed up straight away for the full diploma. It took me 13 months, 70 hours of coaching, numerous practical assessments, 12 teaching days, written assignments and finally I completed my two diplomas with distinction.
After completing my diplomas I knew I wanted to start working with those going through fertility struggles, I wanted to help them in the way I had help and make their journey that bit more bearable.
I also wanted to offer more day-to-day, peer support, which is why I set up the support groups. There was no emotional support available when I was struggling and going through treatment, so I wanted to create a safe space that people could share info and support, and know they are not alone. It was a way of giving something back after what I had been through.
I love that I now get to work with so many amazing women (and men) to support them on their journey. I feel honoured that they trust me with their heartbreaking stories and emotions, and that I get to help them make changes to feel better and stronger while they are on this journey.
I also love that I get to work with clinics to help them improve their emotional support services for their patients. It enables me to help people on a wider scale ensure that patients get the support they need.
Come and see me at the Fertility Show London
If you are struggling emotionally and would like more support, you can come to see me in the Babble lounge at the Fertility Show on November 3 and 4 for a chat and a hug. I will also be exhibiting on stand H40 if I’m not in the lounge.
You can also contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org to talk through how I can support you if you are not able to get to the show.
Everyone is also more than welcome to join my free Facebook community Surviving Infertility.
Sarah Banks xx