NIAW 2020 // Advocate Spotlight with Alys, Lori, Sara and Jenell


Blog, Infertility / Friday, April 24th, 2020
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NIAW

As NIAW comes to a close, I am once again amazed at the advocacy that is happening around the globe to break the stigma around infertility and empower people to speak out about something that 1 in 8 women struggle with (1 in 6 in Canada). There is a lot of loud voices and shaky voices and new voices and veteran voices around the issue during this week, but it isn’t just this week that they are confronted with this heartbreaking reality. It is apart of their everyday, and most if not all their thoughts.

I am so thankful and proud of the women that have participated in this weeks Advocate Spotlight here on my blog and on their public platforms. I hope you were able to resonate with someones story, maybe gave them a follow, sent a message, or have a better understanding of how to support someone going through this.

If you are going through this in silence, I see you. If you are ready to reach out to someone that gets it, please do. We are all here for you. If you aren’t ready yet, you are just as welcome to just follow along quietly. That’s why those of us that speak out, do so. We somewhere along the road found someone else who did the same that allowed us to feel less alone and I want nothing less for you. We are here when you are ready. Together, we are brave.

Alys (IG:@alysinreallife)
Blog: Alys in Real Life
Unexplained Infertility
Mom to IVF baby boy, Oliver

How long have you / did you navigate infertility?
10 years the first time and dealing with it again 6 months currently.

Where were you in your journey when you found this corner of the internet?
In the midst of my first IVF cycle.

What does this community mean to you?
There is a community out there who GETS it, my friends and family just don’t understand what I went/have to go through. There’s a comfort knowing there is a community of other woman out there who understand my struggles, and I understand theirs.

What has been the most challenging for you (and your partner)?
Watching family members and friends so easily grow their families with no effort. It hurts to see them “just” get pregnant so easily.

 

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We all crave support in different ways. What makes you feel the most supported?
Knowing there are other women on Instagram going through the same thing and sharing their stories as well.

What would you like others to know who haven’t been through this?
It hurts. It hurts SO BAD. I would never ever wish infertility on my worst enemy. It hurts to see you complain about your morning sickness, when I would and have done anything to have morning sickness. It hurts to see you complain about your kids when again, I would and have done anything to have more children. I live in a world where I feel absolutely inadequate, because I can’t have children the way I want to. I’m a woman and I’m meant to create and bare children, the one thing my body is meant to do, and I can’t do it. I’m constantly feeling down on myself for not being able to do what women are supposed to do, and it hurts. I want you to know that just because I had a successful IVF and I have my miracle baby, that infertility still haunts me, I have PTSD every month when my cycle starts. I’m so grateful and happy I have my miracle, but those demons are still there month after month and it kills me.

 

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What would you like to say to someone that is either just beginning this process and/or is going through this in silence?
Only the strongest women can go through infertility. You can and you will make it through. It’s harder than anything you have ever done, but it will make you stronger than you have ever imagined.

Lori (IG:@lori.a.larson)
Blog: Eva.Lasting Peace
Genetic Factor(s), Secondary Infertility
Mom to Max, Eva (born into the stars), and Leo

What fertility treatments have you done?
None.

How long have you / did you navigate infertility?
Five years.

 

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Where were you in your journey when you found this corner of the internet? Where are you in your journey now?
It was after the death of our our daughter, Eva. We learned through her diagnosis that my husband carries a balanced translocation , which is why it took so long to become pregnant with her. We also endured a miscarriage before her. Our odds of conceiving a typical child are much less because of this genetic condition.

We are now raising Eva’s big brother and younger brother and are thankfully done with the painful trying to conceive journey.

What does this community mean to you?
The connections I’ve made have been instrumental in processing my painful grief. I belong to groups made of others with balanced translocations and we cheered each other on while trying to conceive and through pregnancy after loss. They know this difficult genetic journey like no one else around me. I’ve made good friends with so many wonderful women. Met mothers who have loved and lost their daughters with the same rare syndrome as Eva, something I never thought would happen at the lonely time of her diagnosis. It brings such comfort to know we’re not alone and it really is a beautiful gift of social media.

What has been the most challenging for you (and your partner)?
Having an older child to traverse this pain with. Our son is now 10 and he’s been through it all with us, the miscarriage and death of his sister. He just wanted a living sibling, and it was a lot to grasp why he couldn’t easily have one like other people. It’s heartbreaking to walk with your child through grief while you’re deeply grieving. We’ve never regretted being honest with him through it all.

We all crave support in different ways. What makes you feel the most supported?
When people don’t turn away from my pain but truly bear witness and listen to what I share. Also, when others remember and love Eva with us, that means so much.

What would you like others to know who haven’t been through this?
Just because someone is smiling on the outside doesn’t mean there isn’t a storm brewing in their heart behind closed doors. Infertility is isolating and even embarrassing at times.

What would you like to say to someone that is either just beginning this process and/or is going through this in silence?
I will be your ear to listen. There is no shame. Many women have reached out to me to share their story and ask questions. I don’t want anyone to feel alone in the pain that is infertility.

“You will learn more about yourself and your partner through all of this. No, it’s not fair. It’s not the path we would choose to grow from, but the lessons learned will stick with you for a lifetime. Sadly, it’s not the good times that teach us the most, but the painfully heartbreaking times. The last five years shook my life like nothing else has, and I actually like the woman I have become because of it.” – Lori, @lori.a.larson

Sara (IG:@fight4fertility)
Blog: We Fight 4 Fertility
Female Factor Infertility, Male Factor Infertility
Mom to IVF baby boy, William

What fertility treatments have you done?
Letrozole, IUI, IVF

How long have you / did you navigate infertility?
3 years

 

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Where were you in your journey when you found this corner of the internet? Where are you in your journey now?
I was just starting to see an RE and about 1yr into this journey. Now I have a almost one year old son and have 9 embryos waiting for love.

What does this community mean to you?
It’s my safe place, and is the reason I was able to get through (and continue to) infertility.

What has been the most challenging for you (and your partner)?
The most challenging for us was coming to terms with the fact that nothing would be easy for us, nothing would ever be “normal” – even after the birth of our son. Our past, present and future are all feel the weight of infertility.

 

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We all crave support in different ways. What makes you feel the most supported?
Just being asked how I was feeling was the most impactful. Knowing that someone was aware of our struggle and cared to hear about or just sit with me through it meant so much. Infertility makes you feel like an outsider and having someone bring you into their hearts and life is essential.

What would you like others to know who haven’t been through this?
Infertility is something that seeps into every part of our mind, body and soul. It’s never “over” no matter the outcome. We hurt, we grieve, we change, we find hope – sometimes all in silence.

What would you like to say to someone that is either just beginning this process and/or is going through this in silence?
Find your support system and let them know very clearly how they can support you. Make sure you advocate for yourself, just because you are being treated by a team of experts doesn’t mean that they always have all the answers. Lastly, although many journeys seem similar to yours, no single one is the same. Never feel guilty that you are dealing with infertility differently than others and there is no “right” way to navigate your struggle.

Jenell (IG:@ivf.couldnt.be.happier)
Genetic Factor(s)
Mom to IVF baby boy, Nolan

What fertility treatments have you done?
I did three rounds of IVF. Two egg retrievals and one frozen egg transfer. The first round was canceled due to slow growth, I barely had two follicles respond to the medication. The second round I got three follicles and three eggs. They all made it to PGS testing which is needed for me, since I was born with a balanced translocation chromosome disorder. One egg out of that round was normal and that is the one we frozen to transfer at a late time. We had one round left in our package and we tried to go for it to get another normal egg. I ended up only having three eggs again and only two made it for testing and both were abnormal.

How long have you / did you navigate infertility?
4 years. My husband and I starting trying to conceive in April of 2015. I got pregnant right away and was shocked. However, right after Mother’s Day that next month I lost our baby. After our third consecutive loss we did lots of testing to see what could be going on and that is when I learned of my Balanced Translocation. This is the first time I had ever heard those words and was so lost, confused and scared. My chart was then labeled as “recurrent pregnancy loss”. I wasn’t ready to think about fertility options yet and so we continued to try naturally. I got pregnant two more times and lost both quickly one again. It was in April of 2018 when we decided to try IVF with PGS testing.

 

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Where were you in your journey when you found this corner of the internet?
After my first cycle of IVF was canceled I was so upset, heartbroken, frustrated and just needed to talk to someone. I had never thought to go public with my feelings, but something pushed me to to it. I created my first account ivf.been.better and began to connect with other women that we’re experiencing the same feelings I was.

What does this community mean to you?
This community saved me. Honestly, I have found strength, friendships, laughter, comfort, validity and so much more. It helped me see that I wasn’t alone. I’m not the only one who desperately wants a baby. It gave me a voice and I was heard. I’m forever grateful.

“I did not choose to struggle with infertility and I would never wish it on anyone, however the strength I have gained and the friendships I have made really are the silver lining in it all. I was once so ashamed and afraid to talk about my infertility and being a part of this community has helped me open up and be proud that it is who I am it is a part of my story.” – Janell, @ivf.couldnt.be.happier

What has been the most challenging for you (and your partner)?
Before we had our son, it was the unknown. All the what if’s, the fear of what we couldn’t control. I had such a hard time with losing pregnancy after pregnancy. I became jaded, bitter, resentful and jealous of anyone who was pregnant or had children. It was so hard, it tested our marriage but it brought us closer together.

 

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We all crave support in different ways. What makes you feel the most supported?
I am so appreciative of the positive feedback and friendship that I receive daily from some of the most amazing women on Earth. Even though I don’t personally know these woman I have met I consider them my friends and I feel the love and care they have for me as well.

What would you like others to know who haven’t been through this?
That you are not alone. Even in your darkest hour there is a loving community ready to warp their arms around you when you need it most.

 

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Not pregnant. But I am bloated like I’m 3 months pregnant but I know I’m not because my first IVF cycle was a big fucking flop. #ivfbeenbetter

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What would you like to say to someone that is either just beginning this process and/or is going through this in silence?
It’s so hard to want to give up but if I would have walked away or chose not to do IVF even when I had the LOWEST odds of it happening for me, I would not have my son. If you are going through it in silence try to reach out to at least one person who can help you and guide you through your journey it helps so much!!

 

NIAW2020      NIAW2020

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