This post is part of a paid sponsorship by Ferring Pharmaceuticals. All opinions are my own.
Let’s #TalkAboutTrying …
Trying to conceive, trying to maintain a safe pregnancy, trying to carry a healthy baby and trying to carry a baby to full term.
Let’s gets real vulnerable and talk about trying to grow our family and continue our legacy. When my husband and I got married 7 years ago, we were so excited to start a family. Although we knew I had Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), we never thought in a million years that we would have a very hard time getting pregnant like we did. Once we started trying with no success, we shared our struggle with very few close family and friends. Our loved ones were very supportive and encouraging but that’s usually not the case for many others who struggle with infertility, most especially in the African community or amongst fanatical Christians who treat you like your struggle is a curse or punishment for bad behavior.
As the years went by, the questions, opinions and judgments started coming in from strangers, colleagues and even some loved ones who were not privy to our journey. It’s interesting how the people who don’t really know you and who don’t understand your situation are usually the ones who are very opinionated, blunt and sometimes rude. I learned very quickly how much emphasis society attributes a woman’s self-worth to her childbearing abilities and the pressure it can put on couples, especially women. I also realized how little people understood about infertility, which sometimes makes them insensitive because people have an unhealthy fascination with people’s reproductive plans. The challenges in my journey made me retreat and when people asked when I was going to have a child, I’d be evasive and either get sad or upset. With time, I started to withdraw from certain situations e.g. I refused to go to church once on Mother’s Day because I couldn’t bear being in the spotlight when the mothers were told to stand to be acknowledged and presented with a gift. Soon I realized that the more I said nothing about my fertility struggles, the more it felt like it was this big bad “SECRET,” which wasn’t good. Secrets have a way of holding you captive and building up negative energy which then makes you feel shameful and guilty when you shouldn’t.
Eventually, after giving it a lot of thought and discussing it with my family, I decided to share my journey publicly on my blog. Once I opened up, I felt so empowered and liberated from the judgement, shame, insecurity, pain, hurt and guilt. In addition, there was an outpouring of love and support which was amazing. I was so moved by all the messages I got from different people all over the world. I was also shocked by how prevalent this problem was because almost every person I’d ever come in contact with either struggled with infertility or had a loved one (friend or family) dealing with it. It was outstanding.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), 1 in 8 couples in the U.S. are dealing with infertility and it’s an issue that effects both men and women equally. Although it’s a very personal thing, you don’t have to deal with it or go on this journey alone. You can find a community and build a strong support system to get through it like I did. I also shared my journey publicly because I wanted to take control of the narrative, share my truth, normalize it, empower others and make it ok for them to do the same. Everyone’s journey to conceive is not the same, but there are similarities in the emotional, mental, physical and financial stress it puts on families, and people generally feel isolated, ashamed and stigmatized hence they need better access to resources, treatment and support.
My Fertility Navigator launched a hub in July, full of articles, content and resources to help those struggling with infertility. I found the article highlighting reasons why women wait to see a fertility specialist so relatable and it included rationale I hear all the time. It’s so important for women and couples to not wait to see a specialist which is why we are encouraging people to #TalkAboutTrying and share their fertility journey to regain their power while inspiring and educating others. So, share your stories and use the hashtag #TalkAboutTrying to connect with other people, ask questions and share your resources about fertility specialists, funding, treatments, your process, coping mechanism and your life after. Sharing as a community will help you overcome it, survive, grow, heal and thrive from these experiences. It will also give people more insight on your journey so they can have a better understanding of what it’s like so they know what to say/do and how they can help e.g. making donations to certain organizations.
My fertility journey was long, hard, exhausting, expensive, stressful and sometimes disappointing and painful when I kept on getting negative pregnancy tests, when Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) didn’t work and when we couldn’t even get on the wait-list for state adoption. It was emotionally draining so in between the disappointments, I’d take time off to look after my mental, spiritual, physical health and my relationship with my husband because we didn’t want the stress to break us and ruin our marriage. It was an intense and roller coaster experience filled with raw emotions, ups, downs, hopes, disappointments, prayers, sadness, anger, tears, pity and even fear. Eventually, after 6 years of trying to conceive, I finally overcame my fear of the IVF procedure for treatment and started consultations and testing. Eventually, we got pregnant during the Summer of 2018, and recently, this past Spring of 2019, we welcomed our miracle baby, which was the only embryo that survived the IVF procedure. Now, my journey is a big part of who I am and this cause will always be dear to my heart, which is why I’ll continue to advocate for more transparency, continued research, better access to successful treatment, resources, funding and support for reproductive health.