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Find Your Voice: Fertility Patients Share Their Stories | NIAW 2023

A diverse group of Illume Fertility patients open up to share their experiences with infertility and family building in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week.

May 2nd, 2023 | 11 min. read

By Sierra Dehmler

According to newly released data from the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 6 people globally now experience infertility, meaning millions of individuals and couples all over the world are struggling to grow their families. In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, seven Illume Fertility patients opened up to share their own stories. 

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What is National Infertility Awareness Week?

Created by RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association in 1989, National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) is an interactive, virtual event held each year in April that highlights infertility and family-building challenges in support of the following 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
  • To ensure everyone who wants to grow their family gets the chance to do so

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, for the first time ever, Advocacy Day was during NIAW (on April 25th).

Every Family Has a Unique Journey

This year, the theme of NIAW was #FindYourVoice, with the goal of encouraging those who have experienced fertility or family-building challenges to use their story to create awareness and bring change.

While not everyone feels comfortable sharing about such a personal topic, those that do can help others struggling in silence feel less isolated as they try to grow their families.  

We were lucky to have seven amazing families open up about their unique paths to parenthood for NIAW 2023, including two of our own Illume Fertility team members, proving that while each family has their own unique journey, there are some universal truths about infertility and family building.

Meet Mayra

Struggling to grow their family due to undiagnosed PCOS, Mayra and her husband turned to IUI treatment to conceive their two sons.

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Mayra's Story

IUI | PCOS | Spontaneous Pregnancy

After years of living with undiagnosed PCOS, Mayra sought the help of the fertility specialists at Illume to conceive her two sons. She and her husband thought their family was complete, until they got the surprise of a lifetime, conceiving their third baby without fertility treatment.

Why she shares her story:

Like many couples challenged by infertility, Mayra didn't feel comfortable sharing her journey with many people at first. "At the time, I felt embarrassed," she says. "And as much as my husband supported me, I felt I was letting him down [by not being able to have a baby]." 

She has now become more comfortable sharing her story, in the hopes that it will help other PCOS and fertility warriors feel less alone in their own struggles. 

What she wants others to know: 

Mayra says going through this journey has given her a new perspective, and urges others walking a similar path to "have faith, practice patience and self-love. I have never felt so complete, and that's all thanks to my team at Illume Fertility."

Watch Mayra's video recap for a shortened version of her story.

Meet Emily & Staci

After two years of genetic testing, fertility treatment cycles and disappointments, these still hopeful moms-to-be made the choice to stop IVF. 

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Emily & Staci's Story

Reciprocal IVF | Genetics | Pregnancy Loss | LGBTQ+

After 693 injections and two years of genetic testing, financial obstacles, unsuccessful IVF cycles and a pregnancy loss, hopeful moms Emily and Staci make the difficult choice to stop pursuing IVF and begin to reimagine their future family through fostering-to-adopt and embryo donation.

Why they share their story:

"We wish we had truly understood that sometimes it just doesn’t happen, no matter how hard you work for it. All that time and money and the physical pain of IVF is truly just for a chance at parenthood, and we were naive in hoping it would be a guarantee - for us, it wasn’t." 

What they want others to know: 

"You are meant to be parents, and you will be parents - it just may not be how you envisioned it. Everything you have been through and will go through will bring you the child that’s meant to be yours."

Watch Emily & Staci's video recap for a shortened version of their story or watch their Instagram Live with Dr. Kucherov on reimagining your path to parenthood when things don't work out as planned. 

Meet Dr. Kucherov

When Dr. Kucherov and his wife decide they're ready to start a family, they are surprised by their struggle to conceive and turn to ovulation induction.

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Dr. Kucherov's Story

Ovulation Induction | Primary Infertility | Irregular Cycles

As a fertility specialist, Dr. Alexander Kucherov never expected to encounter his own roadblocks when he and his wife Sabrina were ready to grow their family.

After undergoing extensive diagnostic testing, ovulation induction helped them conceive their two sons. "While it wasn't an easy journey," he says, "it allowed me to gain a new perspective on infertility that has given me even more compassion for my patients."

Why he shares his story:

"I tell our story because it's important to know that infertility affects a lot of people. With 17.5% of all couples worldwide being affected by fertility issues, being challenged by family building is more common than you might think."

What he wants others to know: 

"You're not alone. Stick with it, hang in, and eventually, you'll get there!"

Watch Dr. Kucherov's video recap for a shortened version of his family's story or watch his Instagram Live with Emily & Staci on reimagining your path to parenthood when things don't work out as planned. 

Meet Taylor & Holly

Both wanting to have a genetic link to their children, Taylor and Holly decide to pursue IUI, then reciprocal IVF.

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Taylor & Holly's Story

IUI | Reciprocal IVF | LGBTQ+ 

Moms Taylor and Holly opened up to share their LGBTQ+ fertility journey, which included both IUI and reciprocal IVF, as well as how they navigated the ups and downs of treatment, their advice for other two mom families, and what life looks like for them now as a family of four.

Why they share their story:

"We were very lucky to have gotten pregnant quickly with both children," Holly says, "but in navigating this sometimes confusing, overwhelming process, we were very fortunate to have friends who had been through IVF themselves and were ready and willing to answer questions - or just talk."

What they want others to know: 

"It's especially helpful to have other LGBTQ+ couples who have been through the process and can answer questions or provide resources," Holly says. "Also, don't hesitate to make connections with people on social media - most people we have reached out to were so warm and willing to talk!"

Watch Taylor & Holly's video recap for a shortened version of their story.

Meet Arianna

After years of unexplained infertility, Arianna finally becomes a single mom, then discovers she is BRCA2+, leading her to freeze her eggs before surgery.

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Arianna's Story

Unexplained Infertility | Egg Freezing | Genetics | Single Mom

Upon learning she carries the BRCA2 gene, which puts her at high risk for breast and ovarian cancer, Arianna made the difficult decision to undergo major, life-altering surgeries to protect herself. 

As a single mom of two confronted with an uncertain future, she shares her journey through infertility, coping with a rare genetic disorder, and why she chose to pursue egg freezing while working as a medical assistant at Illume Fertility. 

Why she shares her story:

"The reason I chose to share my unique journey is because no matter now much I searched, no one ever seemed to have a similar situation. People freeze their eggs for so many different reasons, but I never came across a story that resonated with me. With that in mind, I hope that me sharing my story can help someone else who may be feeling alone."

What she wants others to know:

"If you are facing genetic issues, low ovarian reserve, unexplained infertility, or any other fertility issues, I want you to encourage you to never give up. I know how hard it is to feel like it’s never going to happen for you, but there is always hope.

There are so many other people out there experiencing similar struggles, even if you don't see them. You are never alone. Reach out for support, ask lots of questions, and don't stop fighting for your future family until you achieve your goals. You've got this!"

Watch Arianna's video recap for a shortened version of her story.

Meet Anna

As they say goodbye to their son Wyatt, Anna and her husband pursue genetic counseling and IVF to help protect his future siblings from a genetic disorder.

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Anna's Story

Child Loss | Genetics | IVF 

When their son Wyatt was only seven months old, Anna and her husband discovered he had an incurable genetic condition called Alper's Disease. Devastated by his diagnosis and worried about their future children being affected, the couple sought genetic counseling and IVF treatment while caring for Wyatt in his final months. 

Why she shares her story:

"Throughout this process, I learned so much. First, I learned a lot about my community. It truly is amazing how kind and generous people can be. It’s a really nice reminder that we are never alone during this process and it’s okay to ask for help."

What she wants others to know:

"Through Wyatt's battle with Alper's Disease, I found out how strong I could be as a mother. The love a mother has for her child is something that is indescribable. And Wyatt taught us the most valuable life lessons: worry less, smile more, love harder, and do all that you can to enjoy everything this life has to offer."

Watch Anna's video recap for a shortened version of her story.

Meet Keith & Kevin

Having navigated financial and logistical challenges to become fathers to son Robbie, two dads share their experience with egg donation and surrogacy.

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Keith & Kevin's Story

Donor Egg | Surrogacy | LGBTQ+

After two Episcopal priests decide to begin their journey to parenthood, they encounter unexpected roadblocks, including financial hurdles and a global pandemic. They shared with us how they navigated surrogacy, what they learned along the way, and what life looks like as a family of three in honor of NIAW.

Why they share their story:

"Sharing this journey with our family, friends, and church congregations has been a blessing, as they have been sources of love, encouragement and support from day one. As we have found, LGBTQ+ parents will be faced with many questions from people about their journeys to parenthood."

What they want others to know: 

"Our advice to other LGBTQ+ parents or parents-to-be would be to prepare for a lot of questions that may feel intrusive, but remember that your openness and willingness to engage and educate will help lead to greater acceptance of all families."

Watch Keith & Kevin's video recap for a shortened version of their story.

How to Use Your Own Voice

Whether you feel comfortable speaking up for change on Advocacy Day, sharing your family-building journey publicly, only confiding in a few close friends or family members, connecting with fellow fertility warriors in private support groups, donating to organizations like RESOLVE, or finding other ways to support the fertility community - your presence matters in this space.

In a world where topics like fertility and family building are still viewed as too personal or private by many, every single person who chooses to share their story or voice their support for others helps to reduce the stigma around infertility.


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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