The deep desire to have a baby and being unable to conceive naturally took over my entire life at one point. The impact of infertility is so powerful. It has the ability to throw you into a dark hole and alienate you from your family and friends. For me, it made me feel like a failure and utterly powerless, like I had completely lost control over my life.

No matter how hard I tried, I ultimately did not have the power to make my goals a reality. And for me, that was incredibly difficult to digest. There were so many dark days, weeks, and even months that I never believed it would be possible to get to where I am today. I never thought I would be able to recover from the pain of infertility. Yet, here I am.

This journey truly took a toll on me, emotionally, physically, and mentally. I experienced many moments of emotional breakdowns, depression, grief, and resentment. On our first IVF attempt, we were fortunate to conceive our son Mason in 2013. When Mason was one, Vince and I decided we wanted to give him a sibling. Two failed IVF cycles later, we felt defeated and utterly exhausted.

People would say, ‘It’s a blessing you have Mason,’ and while that’s true, no one can truly understand the anguish of succumbing to the notion that I will never experience another ‘first’ and that my son will grow up without a sibling. It’s difficult to even articulate the emotions behind that realization.

However today, after years of a lot of hard work, I sit in awe of my family. I gaze into my son’s eyes and focus on taking him in—enjoying every minute, including the tantrums, the witty outbursts, and every single belly-giggle. Most days, the magnitude of the gratitude I feel is too large to fully put into words.

Once Mason was old enough to start asking questions, my husband and I started thinking about how common our journey was, and how few resources there are out there to help parents figure out how, or even if, to share that journey with their kids.

So, we decided to write a story―using simple, light-hearted language and imagery appropriate for young children―that sticks as close to the truth as possible, rather than falling back on storks or other conception myths. It’s called Auston The Magical Egg, and we hope it helps families communicate about a sometimes-sensitive subject, and help children like Mason understand not only how common this journey has become, but more importantly, how special they are.

I may not remember every HCG beta number, every follicle count, or medical protocol, but I do remember the extreme pain and isolation that struggling to conceive had on my soul. This perspective allows me to be vulnerable with others, which I believe is a unique and wonderful gift. I’m grateful to have found it and to be able to give back with our children’s book.

I am so passionate about advocating for infertility and helping women who feel isolated, helpless, alone, and defeated find the hope and resilience to keep going. We have the power to overcome it within, and when we do conquer it, we are still worthy and will thrive—with or without a baby.

Stephanie M.