Infertility Awareness Week….

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Two weeks ago today, I literally held my breath as I opened my phone, knowing a few of my most difficult and vulnerable experiences were officially out in the world with the publication of my book on April 6th. My biggest nerves centered around the topic of sharing publicly for the very first time some of my experiences with infertility in my early twenties as well as with secondary infertility years later.  While I feel confident in sharing my story, I admit many complex past emotions bubbled up the first week of April –  as I revisited painful and confusing memories from years past when I felt little support as a woman battling conception delay and navigating In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). I worried I might once again relive a lot of those memories as the world now weighed in.

While I was hopeful sharing my story might help another woman feel less alone as she navigates hers, I was unprepared for the number of women who reached out and shared similar experiences and feelings.  In fact, one of these women is a good friend of mine who shared that – after reading about my experience – she felt like she could finally exhale after holding her breath for so long. I realized as she said this—a friend with whom I’ve had intimate and thought-provoking conversations countless times over the years while our children played together – that we women don’t talk about this topic enough. I’d had absolutely no idea she’d grown her family through IVF, and she also had no idea I’d been there, too. It drives home the fact that the person right next door to you could be in your same shoes and you just have no idea until we normalize conversations around fertility.

I understand fully why some might prefer to maintain privacy during such a sensitive and stressful time (I chose not to share my experience in real time for an array of reasons I share in my book, as I struggled to find the tools at the time to navigate conversations and people’s often critical reactions), so I completely respect however one chooses to go about it. But I’d also like to lend my voice of support and love to anyone who has had to battle conception delay and related challenges to their ability to start or extend their family. It looks and feels and is so very different for each and every woman, and it sucks, no matter how you look at it. But you aren’t alone, whether you navigated it all alone years ago, are in the midst of it now, or might have a brush with it in the future.

With National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) taking place right now, I thought about how I’d like to use my platform to help bring awareness to this topic. There are a lot of things I’d like to do, and this week I’d love to start by sharing stories of other women who are willing to share their experiences with the rest of our community. Although I deeply struggled and felt very alone during my own process, it doesn’t have to be that way for others. And I don’t want it to be that way. As we share and engage in more dialogue around fertility experiences (especially the experiences that look different from our own), we can make a lot of headway together. If you’d like to share your experience, please send your story to [email protected] (with “NIAW” in the subject). I’d love to post and share some this week here on my blog. You can also feel free to leave your story in the public comments below.

Lastly, I reached out to my old fertility doctor (you might remember from my book that he not only first helped our family grow in Washington DC, but then again in NYC several years later so I hold a lot of gratitude for him and his incredible staff) to see if he might be able to help another woman like he helped me. He agreed! Dr. Paul Gindoff from Chelsea Fertility NYC will be covering all costs for an IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) treatment for one woman, in hopes that their fertility journey can be successfully completed and their family can become a reality.  If you or someone you know (with their permission, of course) might like to pursue further, please fill out this form.

I want to thank so many of you who have been gracious and supportive as I’ve shared my own experience and I want to send a very big virtual hug to anyone battling this very topic right now that feels little light at the end of the long tunnel. You aren’t alone. And you’ll always find support here.

  1. Alicia

    Thank you for the bravery and vulnerability it takes to share your story. ❤️

  2. Saskia

    Thank you so much for sharing this. When I started following you (which was even before you had Eleanor), I had no idea of the journey that would lie ahead for me. But after years of trying, I started to come to terms with infertility.

    First, I didn’t talk about it at all. But then, over the years, I started hosting women’s circles. Safe spaces for women to be together, share, listen etc. without advice or judgement. And every single time when I share about my journey, or a particularly painful point that I’m experiencing, almost every single woman in the circle has her very own story around reproductive health to share. It’s not always infertility, but also ways in which society and health care have failed to empower women in their own bodies and choices. So many women struggle with different issues all around reproductive health and feel isolated with it. But if one person takes the courage to speak, it lifts that weight of having to go through this alone.

    Thank you for speaking about this. It really moves a lot for many people, even if we often can’t see it.

  3. Cristina Powell

    I read your book in a day. Simply put, it was beautiful and touching. You made me laugh, cry, and feel comforted. I’ve been reading your blog for a decade but never have I felt as connected to you as I do now Naomi! May God be with you.

  4. T

    ❤️ I did read your book and wasn’t sure if this was something you wanted to address, but if you are okay with it— what made you decide to go to IVF? Was it that you didn’t want to waste more time (I know you did touch on that) or was the medical advice you received? If you don’t want to go into it that’s okay … it was just a question I had while reading. I feel like doctors will usually encourage younger women especially to try Clomid, IUI, etc first. (I am NOT young!! Haha. So not for me. But from what I have seen with others.)

  5. Lucie

    Dear Naomi and all other women (and men) reading this,

    I am still waiting for your book to arrive but I can’t wait. I have been following along your journey for over 10
    years now and I caught some hints you put online song the way (about never asking other people about their family plans. I agree with you 100% in the “never ask somebody else if they are pregnant” area.)

    I am so happy and thankful you opened up this topic. I just want to say women’s health and our reproductive health is something way too taboo for my liking. I haven’t personally struggled with infertility but I have lost a baby a few days before the due date very recently and all I can say is – when you open up about it, other people start telling their own stories and all these topics (infertility, stillbirth, problems with menstrual health, miscarriages etc. touch way more people than most people think).

    Thank you again. Can’t wait to plunge into your writing.
    You are a wonderful and brave woman’s and I am very happy I get to follow you from afar.
    Love, Lucie

  6. Kathleen Hoagland

    Thank you for sharing your experience with infertility. It is such a deeply isolating, personal and stressful experience. The reality is, so many women struggle alone with this, and I applaud you for proving a platform in the hopes of decreasing this isolation and providing support to one another.

    All three of my kiddos were conceived with IUI (Connor, now 7, and Owen and Luke now 5). I was an athlete all of my life and struggled with over exercising and not eating enough to fuel my body. The result was irregular and absent menstrual cycles. When it came time to try to start a family, my periods were non existent.

    In addition to seeking help and guidance with wonderful fertility specialists in Albuquerque and Loma Linda, the journey to getting pregnant involved a lot of prayer, introspection, disrupting lifelong habits and beliefs. My inability to conceive “naturally” fed into a lifelong belief that something was fundamentally wrong with me and something was wrong with my body. Seeking therapy was a crucial part of the healing journey for me, and continues to be as I navigate different life milestones.

    The only people who knew about our struggles with infertility were our immediate family and some very close friends (and my therapist). I felt immense shame. If I would have known just one other person on this journey it would have helped tremendously. We are not alone in this, but when you are living the reality of infertility it can feel so alone.

  7. Taya

    I hope this free IVF treatment goes to a woman who genuinely needs it. I’m in NYC and would love to do this but it’s not a good idea since I can’t even afford health insurance for myself. I have PCOS and was told that the chances of me naturally having a child are almost non-existent, and if I was to become pregnant than I have a higher risk for miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. It’s discouraging to even want to try. As a Black woman, this issue is stigmatized to an even greater degree in community than what white woman experience.

    I understand that so many people struggle with infertility and we shouldn’t invalidate people’s experiences. I’m not doubting that you experienced personal struggle, but it’s kind of upsetting to see a woman with 5 biological children by her early 30s, in such close succession, position herself as a relatable face to infertility. It’s not relatable, and frankly, feels kind of insulting.

    I’ve been reading along for years and it’s nice that you actually were vulnerable and didn’t frame your life as picture perfect for once, But you need to admit your privledge and how fortunate you are when so many women like myself are struggling and can never achieve what you have when it comes to being a mother. The financial privledge alone to be able to even afford multiple rounds of IVF is insane for it to be so casually omitted.

    I really hope you don’t reject/delete this comment. You cannot say you want to use your platform to bring awareness and foster discussion about infertility while silencing women like me who are struggling alone. Black women have societal expectations of strength and self-reliance and we do not have the luxury of being able to talk about this in the way that white women are afforded.

  8. hienketan

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    There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into consideration. That is a great point to bring up. I offer the thoughts above as general inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where the most important thing will be working in honest good faith.

  9. Kathy

    I read your post with empathy, as we have both infertility and secondary infertility in our immediate family. Although it’s a generous offer by the infertility specialist to offer a free treatment plan, it’s also sad. Because of this contest, there are going to be many women dreaming of winning, and devastated when they aren’t the one.
    The gesture as well intended, but I think, in the end,will cause much more sadness than it does joy.

    I am a longtime reader (before Eleanor was born!) and this is the only time I have been critical. Please, don’t delete this response.

  10. Emilie

    I’m so thankful for you. For bringing awareness to this topic. For not requiring a public forum for people to share their experiences but allowing them to share when and how they are comfortable. It’s hard and no matter what it’s nice to have people understand some level of how infertility affects us individually. ♥

  11. Julie

    Please do not promote IVF. You must know that embryos are destroyed. Also, every human being has the right to be conceived the way God intended, by a man and woman, in the mother’s body. Praying for you and your husband and for your conversion.