No one expects to have problems getting pregnant. You’ve mapped it out since grade school. The plan is easy: graduate college, kick butt in your career, find the love of your life, get married and then get pregnant. Right? Wrong! For so many women it just doesn't work out that way.
Fact: 1 in 8 couples in the U.S. confront infertility
Thousands of books have been written about the magical 9 months of pregnancy, but people shy away from the topic of infertility. The reality is: One in eight couples in the U.S. finds themselves confronting infertility. My husband and I are one of those couples, and chances are that you know someone who is also tackling this silent, private and isolating diagnosis. Is it your daughter, sister, cousin, niece, nephew, friend, brother, uncle? Do you even know they are struggling?
NIAW - Stand Up. Speak Out
Infertility has many names and takes on many forms, and all deserve recognition. Experiencing any kind of infertility can leave you feeling isolated, different and like you're the only one going through this emotional rollercoaster. This week is National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) and, to decrease the isolation and increase awareness of different types of infertility, I’m taking this opportunity to join thousands of women and men across the country by Standing Up and Speaking Out about my personal struggles with a rare, little known congenital infertility condition called Mayer-Rokitanksy-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) Syndrome.
I am one of the 1 in 5,000 women born with MRKH, born without a uterus and cervix and born without the ability to give birth to my own child. Receiving this crippling diagnosis at 15 years old left me angry and confused. The world I envisioned for myself shattered. I had spent my childhood playing with baby dolls, dreaming of carrying my own baby and showing off my baby bump. My life, as I knew it, changed forever on November 19th 2003, the day I was diagnosed with MRKH. So many women share the pains I’ve felt and deal with similarly shattered dreams. Yet, we are given the choice to let our infertility make or break us. I am an MRKH Warrior and I will never let my MRKH break me!
Last weekend, to kick off NIAW, the University of Michigan, in collaboration with the Beautiful You MRKH Foundation (BYMRKH), held the 5th Annual MRKH Day Conference in Ann Arbor. MRKH Day is a time to gather together and support each other through the challenges associated with MRKH and infertility. A big part of the BYMRKH mission is to create an inclusive community and diminish the isolation associated with MRKH. We accomplish this by supporting all who are affected by MRKH and increasing awareness of MRKH in the public and throughout all aspects of health care.
Support for hundreds of women
Over the past three years, BYMRKH has helped hundreds of women in North America meet others who share this diagnosis. For many of us, meeting others with MRKH and hearing them tell similar stories to our own starts the healing process – often, upon diagnosis, young women are told they'll never meet another woman with our syndrome. We're told we were the only one. This medical misinformation occurs because many doctors go their entire medical careers without learning about MRKH, without ever seeing a person with MRKH. Often, these doctors are puzzled by MRKH and are unable to give an accurate or timely diagnosis. They often make statements that make girls feel more isolated than they could ever imagine.
This weekend, over 70 people attended MRKH Day, and Beautiful You provided travel awards that allowed two extraordinarily deserving women to learn more about MRKH, to receive support from infertility specialists and - most importantly - to meet others who share their diagnosis, who understand their journey.
Foundations like BYMRKH give a voice of hope to women struggling with infertility. It’s a supportive voice that says, “We can not be broken,” and “You are beautiful, just as you are.” This voice gives a message of strength to women fighting a similar fight around the world. This week, Stand Up and Speak Out about National Infertility Awareness Week; help the one couple in eight end their silent suffering.
Guest Blogger: Jaclyn Misch
Jaclyn is a spokesperson for the “Beautiful You MRKH Foundation.” MRKH is a syndrome that is present at birth, causing women – including her – to be born without a uterus. Jaclyn has been working to spread awareness and provide support to girls and women across the globe who are diagnosed. Beautiful You MRKH Foundation is an organization Shefit is proud to support, click here for information.
To make a donation to BYMRKH: Donate