This week is National Infertility Awareness week in the US (April 24th - April 30th). The purpose of this week is to bring attention to the prevalence of infertility and highlight stories from people who have experienced it.
We’ve put together a collection of stories from across our community on different TTC journey’s. They include tips on how to manage the experience, how they were feeling, and other pieces of advice that might help you on your own journey.
Our hope is you might find some comfort in reading them and could draw strength from their shared knowledge.
Danielle on feeling left behind
“Having children had always been part of our plan and we had always wanted to wait until after we were married before starting our family. We never imagined that we would have a problem…So many people kept saying you just need to relax…I cried a lot throughout the years of trying and the rounds of treatment. I think my husband was sick of hearing me say how unfair it was all the time. Friends and family tried to be understanding but no one really understood what we were going through. In the end I stopped talking to them about it. I felt they couldn’t relate as they already had children and some were already on baby number two. I felt like I was being left behind.” - @unexplainedinfertility_and_me
Josephine on surrogacy
“Our relationship was unparalleled to the typical bonds in society. Yes, we were paying her to do this for us, but to make the relationship revolve around our contractual agreement seemed cold and frankly, the wrong way to approach the bond we were trying to cultivate with one another…In comparison to adoption and carrying my IVF babies, surrogacy felt particularly difficult for me…For those thinking about surrogacy, I would recommend that you take some time to recognize and address all of the feelings and reservations you have about the process with your partner and/or a therapist. Thus, when you do proceed down this path, you can enter into it with a positive frame of mind and with the tools to help you deal with the emotions that come with surrogacy.” - www.jatluri.com/ @josehineratluri
Alex on azoospermia and sperm donation
“There were zero sperm. Zero?! Zero. My jaw was on the floor, I was completely speechless. We called the doctor together and I asked lots of questions. How does this even happen? Wouldn’t I have known? Could it be a mistake? Do we have any hope? What do we do now?...We searched through several major cryobank websites and compared [sperm] donors. I made a spreadsheet to track all of their medical histories, interests, physical traits and more…Our greatest wish came true when in February we welcomed our perfect baby girl into the world. It took us four years and an unexpected path to find success, but I would do it all again to get to her.” - @pursuingfatherhood
Tanya on fertility over 40
“The fantastic thing about facing fertility as you get older is it is your own journey. It can’t be replicated by anyone but you, as you hold the keys to it. It may be easy, it may be hard. But it’s yours to remember, pass on if you choose to others – to help them – and most of all, no matter what the outcome, remember every journey leads somewhere. It may not be the somewhere you thought, but I think we have to take from it what we can and remember life is short so however the journey has come to you, embrace it…If you don’t feel 100% ready, it’s okay not to be 100% ready for IVF…For your fertility journey if the outcome is no baby, one baby, multiple babies, adoption, or maybe even fostering…stop and remember: No matter how hard the path, always remember it’s your journey, and the outcome will be as equally beautiful as you.”
Abi on letting go of control
“I think unless you’ve been through it no one can understand what it feels like. And, of course, it manifests differently in everyone. For me, it was the inability to control my life (something which I’m normally ok about), and the monthly cycle of hope and desperation, but the worst thing was the fear. Sometimes this fear that it would never happen took hold of me and I just couldn’t shake it.” - @aurafertility
Holly on taking each day as it comes
“We researched and saved some more, then in January 2018 we found our clinic and embarked on our IVF journey. We were nervous but so excited to know we were going to be one step closer…We were pregnant and over the moon. We felt like the luckiest people in the world...sadly, this was short-lived…A miscarriage for anyone is an awful experience, let alone going through IVF and £1000's of treatment…Three important things I’ve learnt from this are: (1) Take each day as it comes - this process you really have no control over (2) Talk - talking has been my lifeline documenting our journey on social platforms and they say Infertility / IVF is the worst club to be in but it has the best members: it’s true! Without the online support personally for me I wouldn’t have gotten through some of the darkest days. (3) Self-care - take time out for yourself, nice walks, runs, baths, skincare, anything to make you feel better.” - @hjessex
Alex on solo motherhood
“It’s taken eight years to be 100% comfortable with my decision to have a child on my own and three years of IUI and cycles of IVF to be now enjoying a healthy pregnancy…Looking back, I’m pleased it took so long. I needed that time to prepare my mind, body and home.”
Rebecca on tips for fertility treatment
“There are so many highs and lows during the rollercoaster that is IVF. Some things seem like the end of the world when you are living right in them, but afterwards you look back and smile, realising just how strong they have made you…My three tips are: (1) Feel your feelings! Everybody always laughs at me when I say this, but I am the worst person in the world for playing “pain Olympics” and saying “oh they have it worse than me”. It is OK to feel angry, sad, desperate, emotional, bitter and whatever else comes up. Your trauma and experience is not minimised by anybody else’s, and does not take away your happiness for somebody else, what you are going through is valid! As soon as you allow yourself to acknowledge that the feelings somehow seem much easier to manage and process. (2) Self-advocate! The more you go through and the more research you do the more you feel able to stand up and speak up for what you want and what you feel is right for your journey. For those of us on NHS funded cycles we start off so grateful to be getting treatment and getting it funded that we smile and nod and agree to everything they say. But as time moves on we begin to question and need to feel confident that we can challenge things our clinics recommend or suggest and that that is OK. (3) Value, prioritise and maintain your relationships. IVF can be completely all consuming. You need to live at the same time, IVF can’t take over your life. It is OK to go out with your best mate and have a glass of wine with lunch. It is OK to have a date night with your husband and talk about your future, kids or no kids. It is OK, and really important, to not let your lives stand still. A family is still a family with only 2 people.” - @rebecca_sarah_88
Sarah on a future without children
“The decision to stop trying is something of a mixed blessing, because it means you can finally step off the merry-go-round of relentless hope and disappointment. It can be a relief and it means you can stop pursuing something that has felt so impossible to achieve. But, and this is a very BIG but, it also means having to come to terms with the fact that your life will be very different to the one you’ve planned for…The first, and perhaps the most important thing to say is that this experience will change you. The decision you’re making is a hard one and will have massive ripple effects on your life. You’ll feel a lot of emotions, including grief. My advice would be to feel those emotions, process them, journal them out, get counselling…Do whatever you can to really experience them, and then, once you feel able to, it’s time to take stock of your life…It can be a tough decision to make to stop trying, and it’s not an easy path to be able to accept the decision you’ve made. But, give it time, because there is hope, support, new friends and a new way of being just waiting for you when you’re ready.” - www.sarahlawrenceonline.com/
Stories such as these aren’t rare, with around 1 in 6 couples going through some form of infertility.
Let's use this week to help reduce the stigma surrounding infertility by speaking up about the issues faced by this community and show support for those in need.
Please come join our community over on Instagram @aurafertility. With Aura you're not alone.
There are also lots of different kinds of support out there that can help you on whatever kind of journey you’re on. Perhaps you’d like to speak to others at a support group, want to find resources online, listen to a podcast, or chat with a coach. There’s plenty out there for you to discover.
We’ve linked a few below.