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Leave Your Mark: Fertility Patients Share Their Stories | NIAW 2024

Families share their experiences with infertility and family building in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week.

April 30th, 2024 | 6 min. read

By Sierra Dehmler

Despite the prevalence of infertility (now impacting 1 in 6 people globally), many still feel they have to hide their struggles. In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, former fertility patients choose to tell their stories - in the hopes of helping others feel less alone.

In this article:

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. 

Every Story Matters

This year, the theme of National Infertility Awareness Week was #LeaveYourMark. Wherever you are on your personal fertility journey, there are many ways you can leave your mark in a way that speaks to you and your own personal ties with infertility. 

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 five amazing families open up about their path to parenthood for NIAW 2024, including one of our own Illume Fertility team members. While each family has their own experience, every single story shared makes a difference. Every single story matters.

Meet Alicia

Already a mom to two through adoption, Alicia realized she wanted to try to have a biological child with her partner at age 48.  

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Alicia's Story

Donor Conception | LGBTQ+ | IVF

When Alicia decided to pursue IVF with her partner Mary, she ended up carrying more than just a baby—she also carried the memory of her own mother, who passed right before her embryo transfer.

This two-mom family's story of loss, love, and late-in-life pregnancy redefines the fabric of hope and resilience.

What she wants others to know:
  • You won't be alone. While the IVF process can be daunting, Alicia says that she and Mary simply leaned into the support and guidance of their Care Team members at Illume and learned all they needed to know.
  • Support is essential. Alicia says that her partner Mary and her own sisters were huge supporters throughout the entire journey. "I’m very blessed and fortunate to have them in my life," she says.

Meet Brittany

After years of recurrent miscarriages, treatment cycles, genetic concerns, and a rare congenital uterine abnormality, an IVF mom shares her experience.

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Brittany's Story

Recurrent Loss | Unicornuate Uterus | IVF

Every couple dreaming of parenthood imagines the moment they'll finally hold their baby in their arms. But what happens when that dream is deferred by unexpected challenges and heartbreak?

Brittany, a mother through IVF, shares how a shocking diagnosis led to her rainbow baby.

What she wants others to know: 

"This journey is hard and can be completely overwhelming - just try and take it one day at a time," Brittany offers. "Stay true to yourself and continue doing the things you love."

Meet Savannah

Having worked in the field of fertility care for many years, Savannah shares why she decided to become a gestational surrogate. 

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Savannah's Story

Gestational Surrogacy 

The path to parenthood through surrogacy is complex, requiring coordinated efforts from many different parties: the intended parent(s), a physician, fertility clinic team, surrogacy agency, legal experts, and sometimes donors.

In this story, Savannah shares how her experience working at Illume Fertility has led her to become a gestational carrier herself.

A surrogate's perspective:

"Going into this journey for the first time was kind of surreal," Savannah admits. "I sort of knew what I was getting into; providing information about my previous pregnancies and talking to experts about the process was the easy part."

After she matched with her intended parents, Savannah says she felt nervous, yet excited. "Reading through the profile of my now intended parents, hearing the story of their life, their family, and their struggles really touched me and my husband," she adds. "We love our IPs!" 

Meet Dionicio & Ruddy

Parents to two sets of twins share their journey through multiple IVF cycles, hard conversations, and controversial decisions to build their family.

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Dionicio & Ruddy's Story

Male Factor Infertility | Twins | IVF

When you have to pay for fertility treatment out of pocket, it's natural to want to give yourself the best possible chances of success. Dionicio and Ruddy, an uninsured couple, share how they ended up with two sets of fraternal twins as a result of their choices during IVF. 

Why they share their story:

Like most couples, they never expected to need the help of an entire team to build their family, and have learned a lot from their experience as fertility patients.

"We share our story so that other couples like us know that it is possible, and it's worth trying," says Dionicio. "Be encouraged that nothing is impossible with the help of God and a great team of professionals."

Meet Kate & Mike

After a grueling 7-year fertility journey, one couple opens up about the obstacles they faced (and conquered) to become parents to twins. 

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Kate & Mike's Story

IVF | Genetics | Recurrent Loss

"Both of us wanted kids, and we weren't tip toeing around it since we met at age 29," she says. "After our second date, I told my mom I met my husband - she told me to pump the brakes but I ignored her and went full pedal to the metal, knowing we were meant for each other."

What they didn't know was how long it would take them to realize their dream. Seven years later, they are ready to share the story of everything it has taken to expand their family. 

Why they share their story:

The reason Kate and Mike have chosen to be transparent about their difficult journey is to help others still trying to become parents know that they aren't alone.

"Too many people suffer and struggle in silence," Kate says. "Many of these people may have already lost hope, and we want to be there to help them through."

How to Use Your 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.

Take action:


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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