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National Infertility Awareness Week | Advocacy | Community | Patient Stories

Every Story Matters: Fertility Patients Share Their Journey | NIAW 2022

April 29th, 2022 | 9 min. read

Every Story Matters: Fertility Patients Share Their Journey | NIAW 2022
Sierra Dehmler

Sierra Dehmler

Sierra Dehmler is Illume Fertility’s Content Marketing Manager - and also a fertility patient herself. Combining empathy gained on her personal journey with her professional experience in marketing and content creation, she aims to empower and support other fertility patients by demystifying the fertility treatment process.

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As awareness around infertility and fertility treatment grows, many people are becoming more familiar with In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). But what about all the other ways to make a family? While IVF is a great pathway to parenthood for many parents, it's not the only one!

This National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), we celebrated many different ways to become a family. Whether your story includes IUI, donor conception, liv

ing childfree post-fertility struggles, IVF, adoption, surrogacy or you're still on your journey to becoming a parent, your story matters and is worth being told. And you never know who you might help when you share your experience.

We are so grateful to the amazing Illume Fertility families who shared their stories with us for NIAW 2022, and we're excited to be able to share them with you b

elow. Read on...

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What is National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW)?

Before we dive into some amazing stories, let's give a quick primer on what National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) actually is!

Created by RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association in 1989, this annual weeklong focus on infertility awareness has a few important goals:

  • To raise our voices and increase awareness for those struggling with infertility
  • To talk about the issues facing the fertility community
  • To make sure we continue to support those most in need
  • To turn infertility awareness into action by joining Advocacy Day efforts

What is Advocacy Day? This annual one-day event brings infertility advocates, families and legislators together to offer a forum for sharing stories, showing why infertility matters, and pushing for increased access to fertility care for all. This year, it's on May 18, 2022. And you don't even have to be an experienced advocate to make a difference!


Ready to turn infertility awareness into action?

Register for Advocacy Day 2022


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IVF Story: Meet Nicole, Steve & Alexander

What was your path to parenthood like?

My path to parenthood took three years! After two unsuccessful IUI cycles and an endometriosis diagnosis, we finally became pregnant with our son, Alexander, after our first IVF attempt.

The most valuable thing I learned on my fertility journey was:

The most valuable thing I learned on my fertility journey was to trust the timing of my life. Before infertility, I would definitely describe myself as someone who likes to be in control. I had a plan for everything, including a family plan. With my infertility experience, I felt totally out of control and truly lonely.

Related: Watch Nicole's NIAW video here!

What do you wish someone had told you about infertility?

I wish someone would have told me how isolating infertility feels. No one expects to be part of the 1 in 8 couples that struggle with this, but when you do, you become connected to the rest of the community, whether you seek guidance or companionship, or are more private with your journey.

During my journey to parenthood, I shared my experience with just a small trusted circle; however, the shared success stories I read myself brought comfort to me and kept me in a positive mindset.

Why have you chosen to share your story?

I chose to share my story to hopefully bring hope to others that even though the struggle is REAL and isolating in the moment, and the path to parenthood is challenging, it is so rewarding in the end. Stay positive and trust the timing (and your doctors).4-Apr-29-2022-06-58-05-06-PM

LGBTQ+ Family-Building Story: Meet Emily & Staci

What has your path to parenthood been like so far?

Our path to parenthood has been unpredictable. At every turn, there has been a new challenge and a new direction, but we have embraced it and know it will all lead to our final destination - being moms.

The most valuable thing we've learned on our fertility journey:

Throw away any idea you have of what the experience will be like. Accept that this is an unpredictable journey, and lean on your community for support!

What do you wish someone had told you about infertility?

I wish someone had let us know there is absolutely no control. It is all up to nature and science, and you have to be down to go with whatever comes your way - which is incredibly hard when you just want to know the outcome from the start.

Why have you chosen to share your story?

We have chosen to share our journey because we don’t want anyone to feel alone. We want to show people how to get started on their fertility journey and be an example of what it can look like for them.

We felt so lost in the beginning, and we felt some closest to us had no idea what we were going through. So we wanted to show them the open and honest truth of our journey in hopes of having them understand what we were going through, while processing it ourselves.

Related: Follow Emily and Staci's continuing journey to parenthood on Instagram and watch their NIAW video here!

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IUI Story: Meet Alicia, Corey & Avery

What was your path to parenthood like?

We tried to get pregnant for about two years (on and off, because I thought you could plan your due date...ha!) After our fourth IUI, we finally got that second pink line that led to our daughter Avery.

The most valuable thing I learned on my fertility journey was:

To be patient, to be more aware of other peoples' struggles, to take days where you don’t leave your couch, and to learn how to process the emotions that come along with it all.

What do you wish someone had told you about infertility?

I don’t feel like there is anything anyone could have told me to make it better. But it certainly helped to have people who were also going through it to turn to for support.

Why have you chosen to share your story?

I share my story because I could not have done it without my support people. And I feel lucky to now be able to support others who are going through the struggle.

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IVF Story: Meet Danielle, Rob, Jayden & Hunter

What was your path to parenthood like?

We got referred to Illume Fertility by my OB/GYN and our first consult was with Dr. Murdock. We had no idea what we were walking into, but had already gone through a few tests before sitting down with her so she had a pretty good idea of what our options were and what our treatment would look like.

We were told right off that bat we needed to do IVF, because IUI was just not an option for our specific situation. We were dealing with male factor infertility, so we also did ICSI.

Our first embryo transfer was sadly unsuccessful, but our second transfer took! It was a major shock to find out at 6 weeks, 1 day pregnant that there were two strong heartbeats! I’m not sure it really sunk in that we were having twins until I actually delivered them.

What I learned on my fertility journey:

That first appointment can feel like information overload - in the moment, you may be overwhelmed and not remember the questions you want to ask or even what the doctor tells you during your consultation! Prepare your questions in a notebook and bring it with you to write things down.

I also recommend finding a support network of other fertility patients going through the same experience so you have someone to vent to during the process. 

Related: Watch Danielle's NIAW video here!

What do you wish someone had told you about infertility?

I wish someone had told me just how complicated and draining infertility can be. It was devastating to try and try with no success. But we are so grateful for IVF and our doctors for helping us get to where we are now.

Why have you chosen to share your story?

I share my story because no one should feel alone on their fertility journey. The fertility community is full of people who want to support you. I also share to bring awareness to infertility and the 1 in 8 couples who experience fertility challenges!


Read more of Danielle & Rob's story:

The Shock of a Lifetime


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IUI Story: Meet Laura, Ben & Benny

What was your path to parenthood like?

We had four IUI cycles, the first and last both resulted in pregnancy. Our first cycle ended in a miscarriage. Our last cycle brought us our son, Benny. It took us 2.5 years to finally have our miracle baby.

Our pregnancy with Benny was extremely high risk— a genetic testing scare resulting in an amniocentesis, a cervical insufficiency diagnosis at 24 weeks, and ultimately developing HELLP syndrome and being induced at 37 weeks. We’re eternally grateful Benny is here, healthy, and thriving.

Related: Watch Laura's NIAW video here!

What I learned on my fertility journey:

I learned I’m never alone. I’ve found some lifelong friends through Illume Fertility!

What do you wish someone had told you about infertility?

I wish someone had told me that while you gain resilience and strength along the way, the path can be sprinkled with sadness, loss, and anger. And that’s okay. There is always support in the infertility community.

Why have you chosen to share your story?

I’ve chosen to share my story for many reasons. It’s cathartic for me and has helped me process difficulties along the way. I also share to reduce the stigma of keeping quiet about fertility struggles.


Want to hear more of their journey? Read:

Pregnancy After Loss: Laura & Ben's Story


More Infertility & Advocacy Resources

Want to learn more about infertility or advocacy? Explore the following resources: