Being an ESPN SportsCenter anchor and having my face seen by millions means I’ve had to fortify my mask to stay hidden. Once, I was late for work after having a miscarriage that morning. I’d made up an irresponsible excuse and was subsequently reprimanded. But they had no idea and the excuse was easier than the truth. I just couldn’t bring myself to say it. There have been countless times I’ve had to wipe my tears, fix my makeup and push aside the pain of actually feeling my body reject my baby. I focused on doing my job while keeping those close to me at a distance with the thought that I’m protecting them from my pain. Although they supported me, I knew they couldn’t relate.
After my most recent miscarriage, which was my final one because it was my last egg, I’ve decided to publicly share my struggles. After this last attempt and failure, I was devastated and have never felt more alone. So, I’m not just speaking up for solidarity, but for the changes that need to happen within this unique community. If you haven’t lived it, you don’t know what it’s like.
The average cost for fertility treatments (called IVF cycles) in the U.S. are between $10,000-$15,000, with an additional $1,500-$3,000 for medications per cycle. This alone keeps a large percent of the infertile population from moving forward with certain procedures because it would become a financial burden. And there’s still no guarantee it will work by the end of the cycle. Some who have sacrificed their life savings or accrued a second mortgage may not be able to afford trying again. These reproductive rights issues shouldn’t exist.
In addition to the costs, fertility clinics are not set up as a nurturing environment. They are supposed to be a place where families can find compassion and most of all hope, but are basically a cattle call. Number, egg, sperm. Zero emotional care. And with COVID, and having to go to doctor’s appointments alone, there is an extra layer of isolation added to the experience.
This week is National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), a movement that encourages storytelling to empower and support one another by ensuring all voices of the infertility community are heard and understood. To help amplify the conversation, I’m partnering with Pregnantish and First Response Pregnancy, for a campaign called “This is What Infertility Looks Like,”, addressing the misconceptions people have about the medical issue of infertility, including who it affects. The campaign captures the important fact that infertility does not discriminate when it comes to race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, lifestyle, or other factors.
During these challenging years, I’ve learned that there is no right or wrong answer for how to process this journey and no one can put a timeline on personal grief. I don’t have to be the strongest in the room because it’s ok to cry and it’s ok to not be ok.
I am truly in awe every time I look at our two girls. My family is my home, and simply my everything. Looking at me, no one would know how much loss my husband and I have experienced to get here. But the moments of loss, guilt and failure don’t have to be a solo journey if we would all connect. We can remove some of the questions and learn from each other, and possibly take some of the stress away while sharing the pain.