Connecting Globally with Like-Minded Supportive People: ArtPrize Connects Me to Jessica Hodges
Through my social media platforms, I have been connecting with like-minded people from all around the world who have the desire to make a difference in the lives of those who are struggling with infertility. Some are fertility coaches, some counselors, a few lawyers, a couple of doctors and even one fertility lab technician... and some are just regular folks who are trying desperately to have a baby. Recently I have asked my social media followers to email me photographs depicting their atypical and emotional infertility journey. If you have been following my blogs, you will know that I am so excited that my infertility awareness poem/exhibit has been chosen for the world renowned Grand Rapids ArtPrize Competition. I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of photos from around the world. Here is a list of people who have sent me photos so far and the list continues to grow every week.
Nicci Fletcher... FRANCE
Andrew Fletcher... FRANCE
Karenna Woods... AUSTRALIA
Natalie Silverman... UK
Dawn Davenport... USA
Stephanie Phillips... UK
Daniela Weber... GERMANY
Brandi Lytle... USA
Lisa Singla... INDIA
Rosalind Bubb... UK
Anne Barratt... AUSTRALIA
Victoria Kue... THAILAND
Lynn Planamente Polin... NEW JERSEY
Andreia Trigo... UK
Niamh Kelleher... UK
Heather Human... USA
Annie Kuo... Seattle, WA
Lisa Rosenthal... CT
Ryan Ferrante... Chicago, IL
Jessica Hodges... USA
Kristy Taxson... Virginia Beach, VA
Andrena Nadine King... USA
Erika Spence ... USA
Justine Houle... CT
Carolyn Lee... USA
Lynn Fink Massino... USA
Kristen O'Mara... USA
Heather Dennison... California, USA
Nicole Virgillio... USA
Kyle Tzanetis... CT, USA
Hillary Booth... USA
If you consider that one in eight people of childbearing years struggles with infertility, that is about 178 million people worldwide!!! Obviously each person has a story to tell about how infertility has impacted his/her life. Occasionally when I receive photos, some people send me an email sharing their story. Last week, I was touched by Jessica Hodges story and asked her if I could share it. I thought about editing it, but decided to share her story without altering any content or language to keep it authentically Jessica's story.
I've attached a couple of photos that you're free to use in your art submission.I do want to share the story behind them with you.
June 28 2014 I married the love of my life and knew that my dream of becoming a mom, something I'd dreamed of all my life would now come true. We wasted no time at all and started praying for a honeymoon baby.
By September I knew something was wrong. I could just feel it in my soul, but everything I read said doctors won't help until a year. So we waited and kept trying on our own and I became a Google expert on natural fertility boosters and opks and bbt charting, the whole 9 yards. By March I was going crazy and decided it must be close enough. My OB agreed and sent us for a sperm analysis.
We learned we had issues with morphology and were referred to a urologist. The first urologist we saw told us there was nothing to do and we needed "the thing where they put the sperm in the egg". We left sobbing because he'd just said we needed a 25k procedure like he was recommending we eat more vegetables. 25k was not a possibility for us on any level so we thought our dreams were over. Due to multiple insurance barriers that was in September.
Once we'd had time to process we agreed to get a second opinion and to move forward with adoption from foster care. By October we'd started that process. My husband has a legal charge from 2007 which we disclosed to them at our first meeting. These photos were taken in December 2015 when we were certain we'd be adopting in the new year.
We filled out countless forms. We did 30 hours of class. We did 10 hours of home study interviews. We prayed with every ounce of our being. In March 2016 our application was denied based upon my husband's legal charge. Once again, our dreams were crushed.
Simultaneous to our journey with foster care we also saw a new urologist in November 2015 who ran labs and discovered my husband has Extremely low testosterone, as well as high prolactin. He won't treat the testosterone until the prolactin is addressed so we are sent to an endocrinologist in January. He tells us there is nothing to treat and Nick needs to eat better and exercise more. Desperately we return to the urologist in February and offer our own treatment plan of Clomid to address the testosterone issue. He agrees and finally after almost a year of doctors we have a treatment plan.
We go back to my ob who has promised to start me on femara as soon as we have a sperm plan only to learn my thyroid isn't functioning and we have to address that before we can ttc. This is March 2016.
By July 2016 we're both exhausted and I'm in the worst depression I've ever experienced. Getting out of bed is difficult. I force myself to shower once a week. My previously stellar work performance is at needs improvement level and what started as a fairy tale love is on the verge of divorce because we just can't take anymore. Without speaking to one another about it we both gave up. We prayed that we couldn't take this anymore and God would take over.
August 16, 2016 was the best day of my life to date. 6 tests later I finally believed it wasn't a false positive or line eyes and I was able to give my husband the gift I bought on our honeymoon telling him he was going to be a daddy. I'm going to include that picture too. 9 months later, April 25, 2017 our precious miracle girl was born.
We're now in month 6 of trying to make her a sibling. My husband is a stay at home parent with no insurance so we're trying some natural methods to increase his testosterone and praying for our second miracle!
I love that you're advocating for all of us out there! Thank you for letting me share our story!
If you know of anyone out there who would share a photo for my infertility awareness ArtPrize exhibit or would like to share their story on my blog, please send a message through the comments section of my blog or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Together we can make a difference.
In-Fertility & Friendship,