Why Your Story Matters

Even though 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility, trying to conceive still feels incredibly lonely. In this piece, fertility coach Erin McDaniel explains why sharing your story matters more than you might thing.

For the first years and rounds of IVF, my husband and I kept our struggle a secret. It felt too private, too fragile, and I was too vulnerable to tell even our closest family and friends. Saying it out loud would make it true.

Eventually, as I came to terms with our journey, I became more open and shared with ever-widening circles of people. Almost everyone had their own or a close friend or family member’s experience to share in return. And in every case, we left the conversation feeling a little lighter, a little bolder, and a little stronger.

Such a powerful thing to know you aren’t alone.

Seven years ago, I made great ceremony of throwing away my birth control pills. I was 31, my husband and I had celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary, we both had good jobs, we’d recently bought our first condo…we just needed to complete the picture with a sweet, healthy, little baby. After all, everyone else was doing it. So we “tried”, growing increasingly frustrated month after month. After a year, I went to my gynecologist and started crying in the exam room as I told her of our efforts. That was the first time I realized just how much I wanted a baby and how frustrated, sad, confused, and discouraged I felt. Still, I’d mentioned our struggle to no one.

We did a monitored cycle and lo and behold positive pregnancy test! On the stick! At home! Oh my goodness, the joy. We told our families just before week 8. And then, during week 8, I had a miscarriage.

After the miscarriage, my gynecologist suggested IUI and we went through two rounds. Still nothing. After that, due to my elevated FSH levels, she suggested we go to a fertility doctor. Scary stuff. We didn’t know anything about anything we didn’t know we could choose our doctor (we went to the first one available), we didn’t know what questions to ask, we didn’t know a thing about IVF. I didn’t know how to take care of my body or myself during what was the most significant medical challenge, thus far, my husband or I had ever faced.

Our first round of IVF ended in an early miscarriage and after the second unsuccessful round I knew something had to change. I worked up the nerve and called a friend. She had twins through IVF and was the first to help me realize I still had a hand in how my story was written. She reminded me I was more than my reproductive organs and that, one day, somehow, I’d be a great mom.

The next round of IVF, with a new doctor, protocol, acupuncturist, diet, supplement regiment, and a new outlook, we were blessed with our now 4 year old son. Three rounds later, we have his little brother.

I wouldn’t have known how much control, how many options, or how many other women I knew had gone through something similar if I hadn’t worked up the nerve to share that first time. I wouldn’t have known how much it means to have someone say “I understand”. And I certainly wouldn’t be where I am now in my career as a fertility coach without the belief that sharing, supporting, and encouraging one another gets us to a better place.

I encourage you to reach out to someone today. Tell them your story, ask for their support, or offer a hug or volunteer to be a mentor if you’re on the other side. You’ll see you aren’t alone and how much your story matters.

Erin McDaniel is a fertility coach, wife, and mom to two young boys. A six-time IVF "survivor," she founded My Fertility Coach (myfertilitycoach.com) to help other women on a similar journey to feel more empowered, peaceful, and encouraged as they build their family. Along her journey, she learned many, many things including spirulina tastes horrible, she can live without coffee, taking time for herself was critical - not selfish, and hope comes in many forms. She lives in Chicago, loves to read, run, and stay on top of the ever-changing restaurant scene in her beautiful city.

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