We had the pleasure of recently speaking to author Izzy Judd (wife to Harry from McFly) who opens up to us about their personal fertility struggle which involved IVF and the emotions that they faced together before having their children Lola and Kit. Izzy tells us about her family life, how they enjoy spending time together and what the future might hold for them. Being in the public eye, Izzy is really helping break the taboo around fertility and has written a couple of books, which we were intrigued to hear more about.
Over to Izzy…
@mrs_izzyjudd | Buy Book
Welcome Izzy! As you know all too well, a fertility struggle is ugly and unfair. Can you tell us a bit about the hurdles you faced?
I married my husband Harry in 2012 and shortly after we started thinking about trying to conceive. Once we found out conceiving naturally wasn’t going to be straight forward due to my PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), what followed were some very hard and lonely years, until we conceived our daughter Lola through IVF in 2015. During those years, I experienced so many emotions from fear to frustration, desperation to anger, guilt to loneliness. My world stopped, it felt like someone had pressed paused on my life.
I always believed that my diagnosis of PCOS never told the full story about our struggles to conceive and that actually my long-term issues with anxiety played a huge part. The body and mind are so strongly connected and it was only when I started to accept that our route to parenthood wasn’t going to be the way we had hoped that I began to settle into the challenge of infertility and started a completely different and holistic approach which I share in ‘Dare to Dream’. I realised that the fertility specialist would partly take over my body but I always had my mind and it was up to me about how I was going to manage expectation, disappointment and emotions.
Too many women and men suffer through infertility in silence, feeling isolated and like they’re the only ones going through it. Can you tell us how you dealt with these uncertainties and emotions?
I believe I suffered in silence because it is so difficult to know how to start the conversation. I felt very lost and confused, so trying to articulate those feelings to others is difficult. EveryBODY is unique and each couple will have their own individual set of complications – the sliding scale of infertility is vast. I don’t know exactly what others go through, but I know the feelings that accompany so much of the struggle, the sense of isolation and failure, trying to manage the side effects from the fertility drugs you have to take and the fear that surrounds so much of the struggle. I found it helpful to take one day at a time, to not project too far into the future and accept that I was going to have good and bad days. Acupuncture for fertility, being around nature and surrounding myself with the people that I loved and who made me feel better were really important. Learning to say no is essential. Start to put yourself and project baby first. Do the things that make you happy rather than trying to keep everyone else happy!
Read more about Acupuncture – Acupuncture for Fertility with Emma Cannon
Baby loss is so common, yet few people feel comfortable being able to talk about it. How did it affect you and your relationship / friendships?
Miscarriage personally was a grief and something that I needed time to process. Harry and I took it in turns to be strong for one another, it is hard when you are both going through the same sadness. He was my rock and made sure that I gave my body and mind time to heal. I felt very responsible and often wondered what I did wrong. There were moments when I believed I wasn’t meant to be a mother and that somehow by having IVF I was tempting fate. Along with the grief I constantly questioned why this was so hard and why every hurdle felt so high. I still think of my first pregnancy as my first child and wonder who that little person would have been. During my first pregnancy with Lola, and then with Kit, I wasn’t truly able to relax in fear that something might happen until they both arrived safely in the world.
Tell us about being in the public eye and facing this; were you always open from the beginning?
I wasn’t open from the start as not only did it feel very personal, I didn’t know what to say and I was trying to navigate my own way through it all. I couldn’t understand why, when Harry and I were both young and healthy, we were having such difficulties. We decided to open up and share our fertility story, hopefully to help other couples who were going through the trying to conceive struggle in silence. The response from others when we did share our fertility story was overwhelming, fertility issues affect so many and, despite what our personal issues might be, many of the emotions we are facing are the same.
You’re married to Harry Judd (from McFly, those who didn’t know). How did he deal with the IVF journey?
In my book ‘Dare to Dream’, Harry wrote a chapter as I felt it was important to hear Harry’s side of the story. I often hear that much of the focus is on the women but actually the impact infertility has on men should be equally discussed. Harry was always incredibly supportive. I felt very responsible but he made sure we took everything on together: he came to every appointment and, during IVF, he would give me my injections when he could. Initially, Harry was nervous about IVF. I think he worried about how I would cope if it didn’t work. For me, IVF was hope and that was enough for us.
Read More – Male Infertility – Baby Making is a Team Sport
We love how open you are about having had IVF; it helps so many. Did IVF work first time for you? What would be your advice for anyone beginning it or trying again?
My first pregnancy was after our first round of IVF, sadly we did go on to suffer a miscarriage (rarely do people open up about baby loss) and Harry really encouraged us to have a break before going back for another round, not only to recover physically, but mentally too. I am so grateful to him for this because my initial reaction was to go back as soon as possible, but I needed time to build up my emotional strength. We had two frozen embryos and so five months later we went back and Lola was conceived after a frozen embryo transfer. My advice would be to not rush anything, give yourself time to prepare yourself and put your boundaries in place. Surround yourself with those who make you feel loved, supported and safe.
Related Article – Baby Loss Awareness – What Not to Say to a Woman Who’s Had a Miscarriage
As you’ll know too well, trying to conceive and struggling can feel like it defines you – how do you stop that being the case? We know how dangerous googling IVF blogs can be!
It is so difficult not to feel like fertility struggles define you; it is all-consuming and it’s tough to manage all the different emotions. Something that helped was to accept that this was our experience and to try to think of a positive each time anything negative came to mind. Try not to get lost in dated IVF blogs – get support and fertility help from communities, family and friends. It helped Harry and me to think of a line to say to people who asked us if we wanted to have children which was simply, ‘we’re practising’. This said enough without us having to go into anything if we didn’t feel comfortable or in the right headspace to talk about it that day.
At Fertility Help Hub we’re all about holistic wellbeing and of course with that comes mindfulness. You’ve just released a new book ‘Dare to Dream: My Struggle to Become a Mum’ – we’re really keen to hear more…
‘Dare to Dream’ has a chapter called ‘A whole new me’ which talks about the holistic approaches I used to support me. This includes having a look at nutrition that can help with fertility, calmer exercise such as fertility yoga, swimming, walking, acupuncture (for fertility), positive affirmations, visualisations and mindfulness. I soon realised that taking care of my overall wellbeing was having a huge impact on my mood and, even if the outcome hadn’t changed with becoming pregnant naturally, I felt so much better within myself. I found the visualisations very powerful during IVF and imagined our embryo attaching to the lining of the womb (uterus) like roots of a tree. I would visualise becoming pregnant and listen to fertility meditations to help me stay calm. I personally believe the key is to feel safe, so surround yourself with love and stay in your happy place.
Read More about Fertility Meditation and how it could help you here
Is your family complete or are you planning more treatment in the future? We know first-hand that making a decision on what to do with remaining ‘embabies’ is very hard. Do you have any frozen?
After all we went through to conceive Lola and then with Kit coming along as a shock, I feel so lucky to be a mum because there were days I wasn’t sure if I would be. We have one frozen embryo which I think about often. When I look at Lola I think I might not have met you and then find it very difficult not to give our remaining embaby a chance. It really is so hard and I have friends with multiple frozen embabies that feel so torn about it all. Who knows what the future holds?
Related Article – The Torturous Decision of what to do with Leftover Embryos
You’ve got two beautiful children, Lola and Kit – tell us more about them and family life? What do you love doing?
Thank you. As a family, we love being together usually dancing with daddy around the kitchen and me playing the violin! Lola and I can sit doing arts and crafts for hours and Kit loves anything that makes a sound and moves.
Since becoming a mum, life is busier than ever. I think going through fertility treatment I didn’t give enough thought to the reality that motherhood would bring and the challenges you face daily. I have recently written a book called Mindfulness for Mums which is a dip in and out manual with exercises you can practice alone or as a family. Mindfulness is something that has held my hand through so many anxieties and change and I hope it will help support others who are looking for some calm in the chaos.
Not fertility related, but whilst you’re here… quick fire – favourite place to go in London? Favourite shop? Favourite way to unwind?
Favourite place in London – I always enjoy a musical or the ballet.
Favourite shop – Any gift shop, nothing I love more than spending hours choosing gifts!
Favourite way to unwind – Other than a bubble bath, a spa day!
Thanks to Izzy for your honesty, your inspiring story and book.