“You are not alone,” said Brittney James, a BYU-Idaho alumna. “There are more (people) out there than you think who struggle with this.”
April 23-29 was National Infertility Awareness Week in the United States.
According to National Infertility Awareness Week, one in eight couples struggle with infertility. Married students at BYU-I are not immune to this.
“Infertility can be isolating, but it doesn’t have to be,” said Liz Lerma, an infertility blogger, in her most recent post.
In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF, includes extracting eggs from the female and then retrieving sperm sample from the male and combining the two in a laboratory dish. The embryo(s) is then transferred to the uterus.
“When my husband and I started our IVF journey, we kept it a secret.” Lerma said, “We didn’t even tell any family at all.”
Matt James, a senior studying construction management, and Brittney James a BYU-Idaho alumna, are one of these couples dealing with infertility.
Brittney James said infertility should not be something you are embarrassed about or feel shameful of, and you are not broken or any less of a person for not being able to conceive a child the “natural way.” There are options and people to talk to.
The James’ have been married for over seven years now, and have been trying to have children from the start.
Matt has low sperm count, and Brittney has PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
Brittney James said she and Matt do not feel as if they are alone in their journey.
“I have never quite felt alone or at least I have not recognized it as that,” Brittney James said. “Although, when I meet others with my same issue or something similar, I noticed how nice it was to talk about it with someone in my same boat.”
In fact, Brittney James said infertility has been a “blessing in many ways” for their marriage. Matt James said he has been able to see his wife differently for all the despair and emotions she goes through. He said he would describe her as his hero.
“We have gotten to know each other on a different level than most couples because our conversations are different,” Matt James said. “I have had to lean hard on my wife, and she on me, to make it through the tough times.”
Matt said he believes when you open yourself up to others, you can find and build relationships with people who are also struggling with infertility.
The Nesbits happen to be in the same ward as the Jameses, and also struggle with infertility.
Rex Nesbit, a senior studying software engineering, and Casey Nesbit have been married for five years, and have been trying to have a baby for a total of four and a half years. Doctors have told them that they cannot explain why they cannot produce children on their own.
Casey Nesbit said they know the heartache and agony that comes along with infertility. She said they feel like talking to others who are going through this same trial is key to not feeling alone in this journey.
“There’s a private Rexburg Infertility Facebook page called, ‘The Hopeful Girl’s Infertility Support Group,’ which is a great resource to ask questions about others’ experiences and get advice about where to go for treatment,” Casey Nesbit said. “The Church has also released some articles and talks.”
Rex Nesbit said they have also relied heavily on each other. Casey Nesbit said this trial, which has “affected the soul so deeply and so early on in our marriage,” has actually made their relationship stronger. It has brought them together. The Nesbits take advantage of the time they have of just them and love to travel. Casey Nesbit said they recognize traveling with kids will be a lot harder in the future.
“We try to make the most of our time together by creating great habits of date nights and traveling together,” Casey Nesbit said.
The cost of infertility can be a challenge, especially for young couples. According to Dr. Laura Shahine, a reproductive endocrinologist at Pacific NW Fertility, “the average cost nationwide for an in vitro fertilization cycle is $12,000.”
This is the route the Nesbits are currently taking. Casey Nesbit just went through the process of IVF on April 20.
Both Casey and Rex Nesbit said they are hopeful and rely heavily on the Savior to get them through this.
“Our faith has been tested and strengthened as we’ve kept believing in promised blessings,” Rex Nesbit said. “We’ve gained a deeper understanding of the relationship between hope and faith.”
Other options might include adopting a child.
Michael Terry, a freshman studying plant and wildlife ecology, and Mindy Terry a BYU-I alumna, are currently setting up their adoption profile, and hope they can get noticed out of all the candidates that apply.
The Terrys have been married for four and a half years and have been trying to have children for over three years. When they were dating, they talked about having a big family, but said they never would have guessed there would be any problems.
Mindy Terry said the more you talk about infertility, the less you feel alone.
“It is still a hush hush thing for a lot of people even though it is becoming more prominent in the LDS culture to have infertility,” Mindy Terry said.
Even though the Terrys do not have any children of their own, Michael Terry said they still get treated like normal people.
“People don’t treat us like outcasts because we are not able to have children,” Mike Terry said. “They invite us like normal people to events for their children and tell us news about them as well. We are treated the same as if we had children.”
The Terrys want to remind people who are struggling with this process that it takes time and patience.
“Infertility treatment doesn’t happen overnight,” Mindy Terry said.
Michael Terry said he believes everything will work out the way it is supposed to.
Mindy Terry said even though it is not cheap, they have been able to pay every bill.
Matt and Brittney James said they want to remind people, “the Lord will take care of you as you follow Him. He works in His own time and in His own way.”
Rex and Casey Nesbit said they want couples to know: “This is your family. Don’t let cost stand in your way. So many couples I talk to are ‘putting it on hold’ due to finances.”
The Nesbits also want to remind couples to forgive the people who don’t understand what they are going through with this challenge.