Infertility Advocacy Day: Turning Pain into Power

 Infertility Advocacy Day

Infertility Advocacy Day

As I climbed yet another set of steps and wandered down another corridor on Capitol Hill, I was conscious of the reason I was feeling strong and empowered. It was my first RESOLVE Infertility Advocacy Day and I was prepared to meet my Senators and Congressmen. My life-altering, decade-long struggle with infertility is what motivated me to be a voice for the infertility community. My desire to help others who are in the throes of their own struggle kept me strong and determined to make a difference that day, no matter how how much sweat trickled down my back from the Washington D.C. humidity.

I was turning pain into power.

I wasn't always this strong when facing my infertility. I remember during the first year of trying to conceive, how I felt each month when I got my period. All the temperature taking, ovulation predictor kits and clean eating didn't make a baby grow in my womb. Everyone else I knew seemed to get pregnant on a cheap bottle of wine. I was an elementary school teacher and I wondered why I could take care of everyone else's children, but couldn't have a child of my own. Trying to find out what was wrong with me drove me to find a reproductive endocrinologist. 

I was turning pain into power. 

I wasn't always strong when facing my infertility. I remember how hard it was for me when we had to move away from my reproductive endocrinologist. It wasn't just any move, it was a move to a far-away land across the world. My husband was a naval officer and he received military orders to the Philippines a half year earlier than anticipated. I never dreamed we'd end up on a small island in southeast Asia. The uncertainty of leaving my teaching position, my family, my friends and my country on very short notice was incredibly difficult. What kind of treatment would they have in a third world country? I didn't want to delay trying to conceive for 2-1/2 more years while we were overseas. So, I found a reproductive endocrinologist at Clark Air Force Base and flew by military aircraft an hour away (because a communist insurgency targeting Americans made it too unsafe to drive) to continue my battle with infertility. 

I was turning pain into power.

I wasn't always strong when facing my infertility. I can remember coming home from the Philippines, with no baby in my arms, more determined than ever to resolve my infertility now that I was back in the USA. I joined RESOLVE of San Diego and decided to do IVF. Even though I curled up in the fetal position and grieved for days after I received a negative pregnancy test result after three failed IVF attempts, I longed for a baby more than anything else on earth. It was as if being a mother was in my DNA. My desire to have a baby came from the depths of my soul... and it was the depths of my desire that forced me to get out of bed to face a new day. 

I was turning pain into power. 

I wasn't always strong when facing my infertility. I remember feeling numb, frustrated and confused about God's will. I didn't choose to have this horrible disease. I didn't want to inject myself with shots, get daily blood draws, stimulate my ovaries and get negative pregnancy tests. But I didn't want to live a life with regrets. I didn't want to change fertility doctors, but I learned that a world renowned RE was setting up a satellite office in my home town and was going to offer his services to patients four times a year. I didn't want to leave any stone unturned so I registered to be one of his first patients at the new satellite office. 

I was turning pain into power. 

After seven long years of unexplained infertility, 15 IUI's, 6 IVF's and 40 transferred embryos, I was finally pregnant with my one and only baby. 

I wasn't always strong when facing my infertility. I remember trying for another three years for baby #2. I didn't want to have an only child. I wanted my son to have a sibling. I didn't want him to grow up alone and be the only one to take care of his parents when we got old. I didn't want to deny him the opportunity to become an uncle one day to his sibling's children. I didn't want him to feel pressured to be the perfect kid because he was the only child his mom and dad could have. However, over time, I was beginning to accept my life's circumstances and discovered the blessings of having an only child. Two decades later I published my "paper baby" to try to explain to him the lifelong impact infertility has had on me. But I also wanted him to know how my journey and life's adversity changed me for the better. It made me a more compassionate and grateful person and it gave me more GRIT than I ever imagined.

 Cover of my infertility support book.

Cover of my infertility support book.

I was turning pain into power. 

I wasn't always strong when facing my infertility. This past week, I attended RESOLVE's Infertility Advocacy Day in Washington D.C. As I was climbing countless steps and roaming long corridors in our Senator's and Congressman's buildings, it hit me! At nearly 60 years old and the mother of an adult son, I was still fighting. Not for my own child and my own resolution, but for the people who remain unresolved today and for those 1 in 8 who do not yet know that they will struggle with the overwhelming disease of infertility. When I looked around the room at the welcome reception to the hundreds in attendance, when I met others who were keynote speakers or cross-country bikers or bloggers or mothers of daughters with infertility, or those who also struggled for years and were wearing orange infertility awareness ribbons, I realized how many other amazing people with real true GRIT have turned their pain into power. 

 On Capitol Hill, May 18, 2017

On Capitol Hill, May 18, 2017

I met so many incredible people who have faced the overwhelming, heartbreaking, life-altering challenges of infertility. Even though many of them are in the midst of their battles, they still came from all across the nation... filling the room with positive energy, smiles, words of encouragement and strength. This week I realized how proud I am to be an infertility survivor and a member of a group of like-minded passionate infertility advocates. To all those who continue to fight, I salute you!

We are turning our pain into power!

In-Fertility and Friendship,

Sue