She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.
When I first heard that quote about Sen. Elizabeth Warren, my mind immediately went to my 6-year-old daughter. If 11 words could encapsulate my kid, it’s those. She’s got a fierce mind, a sharp sense of right and wrong, a single-minded determination to do what she wants. She already knows she’s definitely, without-a-doubt, don’t-question-her going to New York City for theater college (unless, of course, she gets her Hogwarts letter at age 11). It’s my favorite thing about her. If I ever got a note from school saying those 11 words about her, I’d frame it.
And it makes perfect sense.
Persistence is the reason she exists.
This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, a week we celebrate in our house and I write about every year, because our daughter is an IVF baby. This is our chance each year to thank the skilled hands and mind of Dr. Robert Kiltz at CNY Fertility, to celebrate our daughter, to tell our story.
Funny thing, that pronoun I just used. When my wife and I talk about our experiences, we always use the plural. “We” went through IVF. Because that’s what families do. They go through things together. That’s what being a family means, what being a team means.
But let’s be very clear — “we” didn’t do anything.
My day-to-day life, my body, underwent at worst a minor inconvenience. I had to reschedule a few things at work and school, get up earlier than normal, make a couple of awkward trips to the doctor.
My wife did everything.
To go through IVF and infertility treatments is to put your body through hell. My wife did that for years. Daily injections. Medications that messed with her entire health. She took drugs that left her unable to get out of bed for two full weeks one holiday season. Three times a week, she’d go to the hospital at 6:30 a.m. for tests and to have blood drawn to monitor her various levels, and then drive an hour to work to a job with health benefits that (like most plans) did not cover fertility treatments. All as part of a process that has, at best, a 25 percent success rate.
My wife was warned of all the potential problems. She was given an explanation.
Nevertheless, she persisted.
Her single-minded determination is among her best qualities. Through it all, through every misstep and every false start, every early morning and late night, every tear and every fear, she held on to hope. She never, ever let hope die. Our daughter exists primarily because of the otherworldly single-minded persistence of my wife.
My wife is a goddamn superhero.
Our story is not unique. About one in eight couples deals with fertility issues. The theme for this week is Listen Up. That’s what it's for. Talking and listening. It’s about raising awareness of infertility and the fact that most insurance doesn’t cover any treatments. To be honest, that’s a hard battle to fight these days. There are those in Washington and elsewhere trying to strip away basic health coverage for our most vulnerable citizens, so it doesn’t feel 100 percent right to advocate for insurance coverage for fertility at the moment.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about it or listen to each other’s stories. Talking matters. Listening matters. Infertility can be hard to deal with, and talking makes you feel less alone. It makes you less scared. We started our journey before people were really talking about it. We had one friend to help us through the process, but as we’ve found our voices, numerous people have reached out with their own stories — many of them talking about it for the first time.
When you talk about it, you find out how many other people are dealing with it. When Jimmy Fallon mentions it on NPR, it helps make it OK. When Chrissy Teigen and John Legend talk about it, it makes it OK. When Mark Zuckerberg talks about it, it makes it OK. When my wife and I talk about it, it makes it OK. When we listen to your stories, when you find someone who listens to your story, it makes it OK.
The only way through this is together. Together, we listen. Together, we tell our stories and hold each other up. We warn each other. We give each other explanations.