Powered By People - Jen Ryan
23 Jun 2021
Photo Credit: @lindaclarkephotography
Jen Ryan is a Laois mum whose journey to motherhood and parenting has touched the hearts of many. On her award winning blog, she talks openly about her journey to pregnancy, and life as a working parent. When Jen and her husband Gavin found out they’d need to do IVF, they reached out to their local credit union for financial support, and as part of our Powered By People Series, we sat down with Jen to discover, how she inspired others with her honest story.
1. Tell us about your journey; when you decided to go down the IVF route; maybe not as many people were doing this at the time?
We discovered in 2013, after four years of trying and failing to have a baby, that IVF would be our only option to conceive. It’s interesting that you say that not a lot of people were doing IVF at the time – that was my impression at the time too, but in actual fact, infertility affects so many people, 1 in every 4 couples, so the reality was that people were doing IVF but sadly nobody was really talking about it, given how hard a thing it is to have to go through, that’s understandable. But it made me feel quite lonely and that’s what inspired the blog.
2. You mentioned the financial part of your journey – was this something that worried you, or was any kind of setback? What might you say to others who are going through those worries?
Yes, absolutely. Once we got over the initial disbelief and sadness that IVF was going to be our only option, the fear of not being able to achieve a pregnancy due to financial restraints was a huge weight and it added a huge amount of pressure and stress.
3. Can we ask what made you turn to the credit union for financial support?
We had both individually been members of the credit union before we got married , and then opened a joint savings account shortly after. We had always found our local CU to be friendly and, compared to banks when needing to apply for a loan, the credit union seemed to care, and actually listen to the reason you were applying, rather than the colder approach at a bank and selecting a default loan reason from a drop down list on their website.
The day we applied for the loan for the fertility treatment genuinely sticks out in my memory of that time because the person we spoke to was so empathetic to us, listened to why we needed it, and I remember the genuine feeling of relief when they said they could help us. It took a huge weight off.
4. You talk openly about the ups and downs of IVF, as well as your journey as a parent. How did you overcome emotional challenges and setbacks?
We were so lucky that our treatment worked, but that didn’t mean it was an easy process, and similarly, anyone who becomes a new parent soon realises the babies don’t unfortunately come with manuals so it’s a huge learning curve! Both were completely different challenges of course but the one thing that was constant was how I disovered that writing things helped me and became a personal form of therapy for me – anything I was stressed or worried about, usually just getting the thoughts out of my mind and onto some paper – or in most cases, my laptop! – helped so much. Gradually, people started to come across what I was writing and began to get in touch with me and so it was a source of mutual support then between people reading it and for me too.
5. You’ve bravely told your story on your blog, and on various outlets such as Irish Times, RTE Radio and the Journal among more.How has that experience been, knowing that so many people are reading?
Sometimes, it is a bit overwhelming, especially during the harder parts of the fertility treatment because being so open brings an element of vulnerability. But it has enabled me to talk to so many other people going through the same experience, which helps so much. Friends and family are obviously very supportive, but when someone who really knows how you feel can talk to you it makes a huge difference.
6. And do you feel your story, your journey as a parent, has helped other parents going through a similar experience?
I’d hope so. Infertility and IVF in particular have been a huge part of my life now for so long, it is part of who I am and so just because we have been lucky and have three children, doesn’t mean I’ll ever forget what it was like, or ever forget that part of who I am. I get contacted regularly from people who come across things I’ve written, or see some of the fertility content I post on Instagram, and even now I can still talk to people who might just be starting out and share the knowledge I have, and we really help eachother, it’s completely mutually beneficial. I only wish Instagram was around in 2013 the way it is now! There are so many brilliant supportive accounts I could have turned to.
7. Congrats on baby no. 3! We hope it’s going amazing.
Thank you! She is thirteen weeks old now, our daughter Dara, and her two big brothers Rian and Alex are besotted! Life certainly is busier but at least I’m used to the sleep deprivation so that part wasn’t as much as a shock which is good!
8. Do let us know anything else you’d like to share with our readers.
I would say to anyone starting out on the IVF road, please don’t feel like you’re on your own, there is support out there. You might not always want to talk but if you do, just get in touch.
Read Jen’s Blog on www.thescenicroutebyjen.com and find her on Instagram @thescenicroutebyjen
For further support on IVF and infertility, Jen recommends The National Infertility Support and Information Group, Ireland. (NISIG Ireland).
Jen's story was told was part of our #PoweredByPeople series – a campaign which celebrates stories from local communities – and highlights exactly what the credit union stands for: people helping people. If you’d like to get involved and tell your story, we’d be more than happy to hear it. Simply contact Jane at email@example.com.