NIAW: What you should know about infertility

This National Infertility Awareness Week, we’re celebrating and advocating for the people on all sides of fertility. Everyone has a different fertility story, and every fertility professional has a different perspective.

In keeping with this year’s NIAW theme, “What I Want You To Know,” we asked fertility professionals what they would tell those struggling with infertility. We’re sharing their words of wisdom below. 

Intended parents need advocates

In a recent conversation with Defining Moments podcast host Brian Mckee, our founder Gail Sexton Anderson shared the importance of acting as advocates for intended parents. “Intended parents need to have someone who can be an advocate and liaison for them,” she said, “to hear them and be a voice for them.”

Many intended parents feel lost in the shuffle as they pursue fertility treatments, and need somewhere to turn. That was the founding mission of both Donor Concierge and Tulip. But luckily, the fertility community today is supportive and thriving. Resources and support are widely available online, and parents have places to turn (like Paths to Parenthub and Fertility Circle) if they need advice.

Everyone’s path is different

No two fertility stories are the same. And while we can all relate in some ways, it’s dangerous to compare ourselves with others in the community. Defining Moments’ Brian Mckee touched on that, while discussing his family building story with Gail. “Your path, their path, my path, someone else’s path… they may have been different,” he said. “Very, very different. But in the end, the most important thing is that you are a parent to a child.”

We all want the same thing – to build our families – but the paths we take may look different. Social media invites comparison, but we urge you to remember that your journey is uniquely your own.

You may use a donor, but you are the parent

There are many misconceptions around third-party fertility. Many outside of the community wonder how donors and surrogates think of the children they are helping create. Do they think of themselves as parents? The answer is no. 

According to Lisa Schuman of the Center for Family Building, “your donor wants to give you a gift and help you have a better life. But they’re not interested in parenting your child. You are the only parent of your child.” Sarah Harris from Circle Surrogacy echoed this sentiment, recalling her time as a surrogate. “I became a surrogate to see the joy on intended parents’ faces when they got to see their baby.” 

Using a donor or surrogate to conceive brings up challenging emotions, but those tend to go away once your child is born and you step into the parenting role. You may have a unique conception story, but you are the parent of your child.

You’re not alone

One of the most difficult parts of a fertility struggle is the feeling of isolation. Fertility treatments are growing more and more common but are still rarely discussed in mainstream media. And unfortunately, due to the stigma that lingers on infertility, many feel uncomfortable speaking out about their struggles,

Our Director of Business Operations, Michelle Laurie, says that is the most important message that hopeful parents can hear. “You may feel like you’re alone, but you’re not. We’re here to help you.” 

One in eight couples struggles with fertility. We like to say that you may be one in eight, but you’re not the only one. Wherever you are in your journey, you have a community of millions behind you. We hope that these conversations continue past National Infertility Awareness Week, and the advocacy for those struggling with fertility continues to grow. If you are starting a fertility journey, you are absolutely not alone. 

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