Our story began much like everyone else’s – two people fell in love and wanted to build a life together. Time starts to pass and you begin wondering if something is not right. That’s when the void begins to unravel.

Growing up we are not educated on fertility. Mom and grandma had children, and your great-aunt’s cousin’s sister had twins. Infertility is not even a concept as an adolescent. In high school you are viewed as a walking hormonal magnet for unwanted teen pregnancy. Don’t sneeze and beware of the water! Medical doctors don’t consult teenagers and young adults about painful periods or the importance of sperm health. Their primary concern is if you’ve been sexually active. All of the systems designed to cultivate and nurture our upbringing fail us by neglecting to educate us on all aspects of reproductive health.

It wasn’t until I was 25 years old that I learned about endometriosis and PCOS, and how to track my menstrual cycle. I had never heard of premature ovarian failure, MTHFR or a reproductive endocrinologist. I’d heard of miscarriage and IVF but those were foreign concepts. It wasn’t until I was 25 years old that I started to realize how utterly naive I was. I had no knowledge of the physical and hormonal synchronicity that is required to occur in order for fertilization to happen. You have sex and you get pregnant, right? It wasn’t until my husband and I were going on a year of trying to have a baby that I learned that for 1 in 4 couples, the stars just didn’t align. Infertility. Such an all-consuming, raw, cold-hearted beast. It wasn’t until I was 25 years old that I began to understand why you never ask a couple when they’re going to have a baby.

Fast forward to today. I am 30 years old and in the last 5 years I’ve endured 6 failed IUIs, numerous cycles of oral medication, 1 ectopic pregnancy, 1 surgery, 1 IVF cycle, 3 failed transfers and 1 successful FET that resulted in our son, Arthur. But what’s more important is that in the last 5 years I’ve become educated, and not just from a medical perspective. I’ve become educated on the societal discrimination and stigmas that plague the infertility community. In a generation that has the voice and the power for so much change, I only hope that the men and women navigating this difficult and isolating path to parenthood can be one of the many voices un-silenced.

I wear and share my story like a badge of honor. It reminds me of all that I’ve overcome and the challenges I will continue to face. It reminds me of the knowledge I have acquired and the responsibility I have to share it. Last, it reminds me of the special and powerful connection I have to a group of 1 in 4 strangers. I am blessed to have been given my story to help raise awareness and show others that they have a voice, and that they’re not alone.

Brittani S.
Iowa