I met Sue Johnston, founder of The In-fertility Advocate, during the inaugural “We Are Worthy!” Summit. She was kind enough to publish my story on her blogsite. And this month, she is graciously sharing her story here at Not So Mommy…
Rather than answer the Good Things questions, Sue wanted to share the details of her story from the beginning to now. I will warn you that Sue does get a little. But she fought and struggled through infertility for this outcome, and she has become a huge advocate for not only the infertility community, but the childless not by choice, as well.
Sue’s dedication to our tribe inspires me, and I am quite certain that you will find encouragement, too. So, I’m going to turn it over to her now…
Ever since I could remember, I’ve always wanted to be a mother. Since I was the youngest of four children, I thought four kids was the perfect sized family to have. When I was a little girl, I would beg my mother to have another baby. She said when I grew up, I could have as many children as I wanted, but I was going to be their “baby of the family.” At that moment, I told my mother that I was going to be an elementary teacher so that I could have “a whole classroom of kids!”
I eventually became a teacher and secured my first teaching position in Prince William County, VA. I met my husband, a US Naval Officer, who was stationed at the Pentagon. We had a fairy tale wedding complete with a dozen swordsmen. We were a bit older than some couples, as I was 28 and he was 34. Our “fairy tale” marriage suffered a huge blow, however, when we decided to start our family.
Growing up with the expectation that I could have as many children as I wanted made it exceptionally difficult to accept our infertility. I couldn’t understand why I was unable to have a child. Truly, I thought having the number of children we wanted was OUR choice. I worked hard to establish a good career, and I waited to marry the right man. I wanted to ensure that I was eventually able to give my children the best start in life.
Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with “unexplained infertility” after about a year of trying to conceive. My reproductive endocrinologist said that my cycles were “picture perfect!” I made lots and lots of eggs. My husband made lots of sperm. The lining of my uterus was thick and plush. I wasn’t even thirty years old yet. But… if everything was so “picture perfect,” then why couldn’t I get pregnant?
And Losing Joy…
To make the journey even more difficult, my husband was going out to sea for months at a time with the US NAVY. And when he wasn’t deployed, we were frequently moving. During the thick of our battle with infertility, we received official military orders for a two-and-a-half-year tour to the Philippines. There was little to no help for infertility patients in the “PI.” Being plucked away from my family, my friends, my career and even my RE was the lowest part of my journey.
I questioned my purpose in life. I felt that if I could not have a child, why was I put on this earth? Life had lost all meaning and I was in the depths of despair. I struggled with the notion that if babies were a gift from God, then why could some people have babies and then abuse them? I was a in a loving relationship. We both had great careers. I was healthy and I devoted my life to educating other people’s children, but I couldn’t have a baby of my own. If babies were a gift from God, then why was God denying me a baby?
From Infertility to Advocacy…
When we returned to the United States, I knew I wanted to attack the enemy of infertility with the BIG GUNS. Because of that, I joined RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association of Greater San Diego, CA, because I knew I would need support now more than ever. Using my entire teaching salary and nearly all of my husband’s income to afford our high tech treatments, I had over 40 embryos transferred into my womb via 6 different IVFs.
Eventually, I was one of the lucky ones. One of those forty embryos stuck, and I had my one and only son. It took nearly a decade of heartbreak and devastating losses to achieve our resolution.
During the thick of my battle, it was too painful for me to share my infertility story with others. I often suffered in silence. Actually, it took me quite a few years to open the door and start talking about it again. But, because I am a woman of purpose, I knew I had to do something to support those who are still trying to reach their resolution.
About 6-1/2 years ago, I started writing a book, which was a collection of the stories of my closest RESOLVE support group members. I thought if I could share our stories with others who are still in the midst of their TTC journeys, maybe the stories could provide inspiration and hope. In March of 2017, I published Detours: Unexpected Journeys of Hope Conceived from Infertility. I donate all net proceeds from the sales of Detours to RESOLVE.
Attending Advocacy Day
The month after my book launch, I went to Infertility Advocacy Day in Washington DC. It was my goal to put a copy of my book into the hands of my Senators and Representatives. I wanted to make sure my voice was heard and do my part to help people who are struggling to build their families. During Advocacy Day, I learned that my home state of Michigan was rated a “D” for fertility support. Immediately, I came home and started my own RESOLVE Peer Led Support Group in my community.
Founding The In-fertility Advocate & More…
Since then, I have created my website, The In-fertility Advocate. I started blogging inspirational stories and created my own
line of fertility support greeting cards, both of which I named “In-Fertiility & Friendship.” Just this past February, I opened my FertilitnFriendship ETSY store where I sell my cards online. Also, I now volunteer on a RESOLVE helpline, and I am a RESOLVE mentor for the mid-western USA. I continue to be a supportive voice on interviews, podcasts, Facebook Live and YouTube recordings, and I will be a guest speaker whenever possible. In fact, on April 25, 2018, I was a guest speaker for the worldwide “We Are Worthy Summit,” which supports the Childless Not By Choice (CNBC) Community. In addition, it is my hope to continue to publish more books to support those on their journey toward resolution, whatever that may be.
To those in the struggle…
I don’t think I will ever understand why it is that good and loving people have such a difficult time trying to conceive a child of their own. But I now know that my purpose in life is to offer emotional support to others on their journey toward their resolution.
Thank you, Sue, for bravely sharing your truth!
Fabulous one, you don’t have to be a blogger to share your truth and inspire others. In fact, if you’ll simply answer four questions, I’ll handle the rest. Click here to share your Good Things Story…
Featured Photo Credit: Xochi Romero on StockSnap.io