Andrea Byrne on her infertility journey and why she's launching a new podcast to address the taboo

Like 1 in 6 couples in the UK, Andrea and her husband Lee struggled to conceive. Credit: Andrea Byrne

Making babies is meant to be fun, right? Well, as it turns out, that’s not the case for a lot of people. 

At least 1 in 6 couples has trouble conceiving. But infertility remains one of society’s last big taboos and is still considered a pretty awkward conversation at the office water cooler.  Or these days I suppose, at the virtual coffee break.

My husband and I found ourselves being one of those statistics. Making a baby became anything but fun. I was told I had a womb defect, which would drastically reduce my chances of carrying a pregnancy. And so began a seven year IVF marathon to start a family.

It’s now 2020 - and our daughter Jemima is almost 2. To hear her giggles echo round the house is nothing short of miraculous. She is living proof that fertility science still has so much to learn because, in the end, she was conceived naturally.  And we are thankful for her every minute of every day.

Andrea and Lee's daughter, Jemima, is now almost two-years-old. Credit: Andrea Byrne

Our gratitude is a constant reminder that so many other couples are navigating the isolating road of fertility, with no guarantees of what their ending will be and very often struggling to communicate their trauma to those around them.  

So, for this year’s Fertility Awareness Week I’ve launched a new podcast to try to normalise the conversation.  By removing the stigma, which so easily bestows an unnecessary shame upon those unlucky enough to need help to have a baby, maybe the journey can be that bit more bearable. 

My series, "Making Babies", will - I hope - go some way to demystifying the world of fertility and create a wider understanding of both the exhausting treatment couples go through and the spiralling feelings they’re forced to deal with.  With a mix of professional expertise and personal stories, I’ll try to tackle issues across the whole spectrum including miscarriage, male infertility, surrogacy and polycystic ovary syndrome. 

'Making Babies' - listen via:

For the first episode, I’m joined by a specialist counsellor of 25 years experience and by The Fertility Network UK.  We explore the web of emotions that people can become trapped in and we discuss coping mechanisms, including how to handle that question: "Do you have children?"

The second episode is all about the men. My husband Lee Byrne talks about dealing with our problems alongside managing a sudden retirement from professional rugby.  And we chat to fertility campaigner Kevin Button, otherwise known as The Man Cave. He was diagnosed with male infertility and explains how reaching out to others on social media helped him out of depression.  

The statistics say that you will know someone dealing with infertility.  So, let’s get talking about all the ways to make babies.