Nichelle Sublett doesn’t mind people knowing that she and her husband Harold still yearn for a storybook life. Their years-long struggle for children is something many would deem too private to discuss, but Nichelle refuses to hide in the darkness of stigma and shame. The 2018 Mrs. North Carolina uses her platform to tell her story of fertility struggles and pregnancy loss, and collects similar stories from women who reach out to her from across the country.
Nichelle and Harold married in a storybook wedding in April 2013. The two began trying to get pregnant immediately upon returning from their honeymoon. After 6 months of not conceiving, her OB/GYN ran some tests and revealed Nichelle suffered from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Leaning this news was difficult, but only scratched the surface of what the couple would endure over the next 5 years of their marriage. No one could have prepared them for the future. They embarked on a tumultuous journey that included 2 rounds of Clomid, 7 rounds of Letrazole, 4 IUIs, 2 egg retrievals, 2 IVF embryo transfers, 2 naturally-conceived pregnancies, numerous genetic and chromosomal testing, an endometrial receptivity assay, and 5 miscarriages. Not only have they tried many medical treatments, but they’ve also experimented with many holistic treatments including acupuncture, yoga, gluten-free, dairy-free, and fertility meditations. While they don’t have their rainbow baby yet, Nichelle and Harold have 5 remaining frozen embryos, and are determined to continue fighting for their family while staying strong and steadfast in their marriage and love for one another.
Nichelle champions the #flipthescript movement to help illustrate the pain women and couples can endure while trying to build their family. She feels that particularly for women of color, there are widespread misconceptions that ultimately leave women feeling alone, unworthy, and ashamed. In the African-American community, fertility is not recognized as a potential issue and it’s just not talked about. Nichelle aims to open the conversation and build a network of women who can support each other. She feels there is extreme power in being vulnerable and disclosing your struggles during the storm. Nichelle always imagined revealing the couple’s fertility journey after they finally had the perfect picture, two kids and a dog, but now is the time to make an impact.
Ninety-one percent of women undergoing fertility treatments said they wish they had started sooner. This statistic pushed Nichelle to begin encouraging women to #startasking their doctors to assess their fertility in their 20s and early 30s. When women are educated with facts regarding their fertility health, it empowers them to act sooner and explore various ways to have children.
-Nichelle S., North Carolina