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Amy and Mark are grateful to the caring friends they connected with while lost in the infertility maze. Learning from others along the way offered much needed emotional support. This encouraged the couple to stop keeping their own challenges secret, with the hope they could help others in return.

At t he start of her journey, Amy never imagined being able to advocate for herself. She and Mark, proud parents to a daughter, experienced ‘secondary unexplained infertility’ trying to conceive another child. The inability to get pregnant was devastating. The couple believed if they worked hard enough, they could overcome any barriers. Infertility felt like a personal shortcoming.

Amy’s attempts to discuss concerns with her primary doctor were unsuccessful; her doctor recommended she ‘keep trying’ for several more months. A referral to a specialist came after Mark’s check-up indicated slight irregularities. It seemed odd that Amy’s concerns were put off repeatedly, yet a single appointment for Mark resulted in a referral. It was frustrating that so little information was available regarding treatment options. Much of their early path felt like guesswork; thankfully, finding a couple of supportive friends made a tremendous positive impact.

Eventually, in order to try to bring purpose to a journey that felt as though it was spiraling out of control, the couple decided to share their private story. This was done first with family and friends and then through their own social media, revealing their struggles which had previously felt too daunting to share.

One of Amy’s proudest moments from her infertility journey occurred when, due to her advocacy, her workplace agreed to continue providing fertility treatment coverage to employees. The company Amy worked for had been acquired, and the new plan discontinued these insurance benefits. Amy reached out to HR and senior leadership, expressing how vital continued coverage was. She challenged the organization to demonstrate that they cared as much for their employees as their slogan indicated. The company agreed to extend coverage for an additional year.

The diagnosis ‘secondary unexplained infertility’ means there is no obvious medical reason for fertility struggles occurring after the birth of a child. Mark and Amy tried multiple treatments including several rounds of IUI and one IVF transfer. Nothing resulted in pregnancy. Not knowing the exact reason for their infertility made it difficult to know when to stop treatment, but following their failed IVF attempt the couple felt that they had explored every option. They decided to try a different family-building path and have now joyfully adopted a daughter through foster care.

Amy and Mark believe the bonds they formed during their infertility journey helped build the support needed to become first foster, and now trans-racially, adoptive parents. They continue to share what they’ve learned with hopes that by doing so someone else will have a less confusing or lonely walk in their own infertility maze.

Amy R., Illinois

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