Liz Ellis is one of Australia’s netball legends and no stranger to netball and sports fans alike.
Her achievements on the court are legendary and her post-netball career in commentary and radio has made her a well-known name within the Australian media landscape.
Her new book, If At First You Don’t Conceive will give Liz much respect from a huge new audience.
Liz’s struggles with fertility have been well documented – and luckily, for many, she has been so willing to talk about it.
Following her own five-year struggle to conceive a second child, Liz went about detailing the journey and what she discovered, not only for herself, but with the aim to help others.
If At First You Don’t Conceive intersperses extensively-researched medical information with personal stories from Liz and many others, adding a human element to what can often be a difficult and somewhat depressing read in other books of this type.
It covers a vast range of topics including the causes of infertility, the stigma of male infertility, traditional and complementary treatments, miscarriage, coping strategies, choosing a fertility clinic, donor conception and surrogacy.
The chapter noting the different types of fertility treatments is comprehensive and even includes simple information about rebates for some of the common medical tests that some are perhaps unaware of.
The book also hones in on the gut-wrenching decision to cease treatment, if unsuccessful. It is handled with grace and sensitivity and has some helpful tips on how to communicate with loved ones about the decision to stop and move forward.
Infertility and miscarriage are topics that are often not talked about, which can make already stressful and heartbreaking times feel incredibly lonely. We need to talk about these topics more in order to better support friends and family and reduce the stigma.
This book is a really important step in our understanding of the journey to parenthood and the difficult road many people travel.
Of course, not everyone wants to talk about their experiences and Liz’s tips about how to handle the well-meaning, but sometimes nosey inquiries like, “When are you having a baby?” or “About time you had another one!” are excellent.
Prying questions directed at you when you are going through a private battle with infertility or dealing with a miscarriage can be like a knife to the heart. Having comments in ones arsenal to quell the conversation can certainly help.
The book is a must-read for anyone facing fertility problems. It can also help loved ones to understand the struggles and treatments that their family members or friends are facing. It balances the cold hard facts with honesty, compassion and humour.
I laughed, I cried and feel that anyone facing a difficult journey to parenthood will finish the book feeling empowered and not as alone in their own journey, as perhaps they felt when they started.
Bravo Liz, I am a massive fan of you as a netball player, but this may be your most important work yet.
If At First You Don’t Conceive is available now through Pan Macmillan Australia, at all good bookshops and online.
You can also join Liz and ABC Radio’s Sarah Kanowski for a discussion on infertility, on Lonsdale St in Melbourne at 6:15pm tonight. Tickets are free, but you must register your attendance.