Educating our ‘village’ about the infertility journey

At left, Elizabeth and her 14-month-old son, Rowan; at right, Cindy with her daughter, Lainey, 9 months.

If you’ve ever been part of a dinner party of six, the odds are someone at the table has been, or will be, touched by infertility, according to a new study from the World Health Organization.

Infertility doesn’t discriminate. It can affect you whether you’re a man or woman, single or married, or part of a heterosexual or same-sex couple.

During National Infertility Awareness Week, two Clorox teammates are sharing their own stories in hopes that their experience can shed more light on this condition and provide encouragement to those who are facing similar challenges.

Q: Tell me a little bit about your personal journey that led you to seek fertility treatment.

Elizabeth: One of my friends who was in her very early 30s, the same age as me, was having difficulty conceiving. She was diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve, which means she actually was about out of eggs. I decided because of her experience to go and get my own fertility tested. The doctor said that if I wanted more than one child, I didn’t really have time to waste. I always wanted kids, so I just decided: Why wait any longer?

Cindy: My husband and I had been married for a long time when we started trying. We tried for over a year, and it didn’t work, so I decided to get a fertility consultation. I started on a few treatments, and my doctor was surprised they didn’t work because everything else looked fine. He put in a referral for my husband to get tested, and we found out that due to his work environment he had a very low sperm count. There was a less than 1% chance of us conceiving naturally. Our only option was IVF.

“A lot of people grieve doing IVF — that my body’s not able to do this. We want to make sure that people know they’re not by themselves.”


Q: Is this something you shared with others or held closer?

Elizabeth: I wasn’t writing it all over my Facebook or shouting it from the rooftops, but people in my daily life knew what I as doing. And it actually felt pretty helpful because I would talk to somebody and be like, “Ooh, hold on. I need to go do an injection real quick.” And then some would share with me, “I did IVF too.” It was really cool that they felt like they could open up because I shared.

Cindy: My experience is very similar. I was pretty open about our egg retrieval within my friends and family circle. We had been married at this point for close to 10 years. Everyone was asking, “When are you having a baby?” It just felt normal to say we have to do IVF. I wasn’t as open about the transfer because I was scared to have to later say it didn’t work or I lost the baby. But when we told them that we had transferred, it had stuck and I was already 12 weeks’ pregnant, it was the best news ever.

Q: Now that the company is offering benefits for fertility treatment, how has that changed your feelings about the challenges you’ve faced?

Elizabeth: The first round of IVF was all out of pocket, and it was a lot of money, so it adds that financial pressure about the first egg retrieval or transfer not working and the thought that I’ll have to pay for another. Even though you have savings and that’s really what you’re wanting, just knowing that the financial part is not pressuring you as much anymore is a good thing.

Cindy: It’s a great benefit to have, and hopefully it’s also setting a good example for other companies. We need to help those families that really want to have kids but can’t naturally. So let’s not make the financial part an issue too. It might encourage people that previously didn’t even think about going down this route knowing they have this option.

“I’m proud of my journey. It was a struggle, but I’m insanely proud of how we mastered it — lots of emotions, ups and downs, and we came out on the other side happier than ever.”


Q: Now that you’re parents, what advice would you give to someone who’s just starting this journey?

Cindy: You’re not alone in this. Find a good support system — online, at work, your friends and family, your spouse. Your little village can help you through your infertility journey. For me, what has helped is just being open and honest about it. You’ll be surprised about how positive the feedback is.

Elizabeth: Get your fertility tested. Or to Cindy’s point, yours and your husband’s. You can’t make a decision with information you don’t know. It wasn’t so much like lighting a fire under me as it was like lighting a fire in me. I felt like, okay, now’s the right time and I’m excited for it to be now.