This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. Did you know that one in eight people suffer from some form of infertility? That’s a shockingly high number. Shockingly high! And believe it or not, before I was a gestational surrogate mother and before I had my own three children, I was part of that one in eight statistic.
Hard to imagine, right? But infertility is a funny thing, you just don’t know who might be affected by it and in what way. My husband and I were quite young – in our mid-twenties at the time– so in no way were we the “typical” infertility patients (if there is such a thing!).
After plenty of testing on both of us (he was fine, I was not, but we didn’t know what was wrong with me except I wasn’t ovulating) we started several rounds of Clomid. We had no luck– even the highest dose of Clomid could not coerce my stubborn ovaries to give up an egg or two to the cause.
It seems so long ago (well over twenty years now – so it really was long ago) but at the same time, I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember the longing I had to get pregnant, the desire I had to start a family, how badly I wanted to be a mother. And I desperately wanted to see my husband become a father. I remember going to visit several different doctors and none of them having any answers for us.
I remember friends getting pregnant all the while we were trying.
I remember talking to our insurance agent one day about our health insurance policy and finding out we had zero coverage for infertility treatment. The agent (not so helpfully) suggested that we move to Maryland because they had recently passed a law mandating IVF health insurance coverage. I thought the agent was joking, but he definitely was not. Would we have to leave Virginia just to have a shot at having a family? We had already bought a house and my husband had recently started his own company in Virginia, so picking up and moving ourselves and a new business to a new state seemed just too complicated.
Life is known for throwing out curve balls when you least expect it and to make a very long story short (you’ll have to read my memoir when it comes out – the whole story is most definitely in there!), we put our infertility treatment plans on hold while we sorted out some other life issues – a big job change, two moves (though not to Maryland!), a home renovation, and more, not to mention attempting to figure out how we were going to swing the cost of IVF. And yes, as you might have guessed it, during this very chaotic, intense and distracting six months, we got pregnant. Surprise! (except it wasn’t really a surprise – like I said, you’ll have to read the book)
I have always had mixed feelings about this “beating infertility” story of mine. On one hand it has a happy ending – I got pregnant, loved it, was good at it, and decided to become a surrogate mother and help others. What’s not to love?
What bothers me about it is that it seems to buy into the old horrible advice of “Hey, just relax and have sex – don’t stress about it – you’re making it worse! It will happen when it’s supposed to happen!”
What a bunch of horseshit. Not to mention rude. Rude!
No, I didn’t get pregnant because we stopped stressing about it. I got pregnant because I finally ovulated, knew it when it was happening, and had sex on that very day. There was no relaxation or luck involved - it was biological science, pure and simple. Although it might seem that we got pregnant when we stopped worrying about it and trying so hard, that had zero to do with it.
So when I went on to pursue surrogacy, I not only knew how much I loved pregnancy and childbirth, I also was keenly aware of what it felt like to desperately long for a baby and the frustration and devastation of not be able to conceive one. I knew firsthand what that pain felt like because I’d lived it for almost two years. But more importantly, I knew what it felt like to triumph over it.
And THAT’S what motivated me. I wanted other women and men to enjoy the thrill of laying eyes on their baby for the first time. I wanted them to be overcome with delirious joy. I wanted them to know for themselves the feeling of how love multiplies, not gets more scarce, as your family grows.
I wanted to help them remove themselves from the infertility statistics - I wanted them to no longer be part of the one in eight.
Not only am I proud to have brought nine surrogate children into the world for infertile couples, I am happy to have found my voice here on Surrogacy by Design. And this week, I’m honored to use it to speak up for infertility awareness, because everyone deserves a chance to be more than just a statistic.