During National Infertility Awareness Week, Midwest Fertility Specialists is encouraging those who have experienced fertility issues to start a conversation and reduce the stigma around this condition. The practice is partnering with Indy 500 driver Jay Howard and his wife Courtney, two Midwest Fertility patients who fought a long battle with infertility.
“Infertility is nothing to be ashamed of,” Howard says. “The more you talk about it, the more of a chance you have of getting pointed in the right direction and getting help.”
One in eight couples in the United States has experienced difficulty conceiving, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Howards are sharing their story to encourage couples to ask questions and reach out if they need help. Despite how common infertility is, it is often considered a taboo topic that many people are embarrassed to discuss.
“As a woman, it’s ingrained in us that it’s part of a natural process, that we should be able to have a child,” Courtney says. “But [infertility] is not your fault. It’s nothing you did wrong.”
Infertility is not always due to a woman’s inability to get pregnant. Only one third of infertility cases are due to issues with the female. An additional one third of cases are due to the male, and one third are due to both partners or are unexplained.
“Many people blame themselves or feel a sense of guilt about their inability to get pregnant naturally,” says Dr. Laura Reuter, reproductive endocrinologist at Midwest Fertility Specialists. “Infertility is often due to factors out of your control, and there is absolutely no shame in seeking help to start a family.”
The Howards knew that conceiving naturally was going to be difficult for them due to Courtney’s medical history – she sustained a traumatic brain injury in 2007. The couple worked for nearly five years to start a family on their own and with other fertility practices before coming to Midwest Fertility.
“The moment we walked into Midwest Fertility, I just felt good about something,” Jay says. “I am a big believer in, if you feel good about something, there’s a reason why.”
And Jay’s instinct proved to be right. Using their own embryo and a gestational carrier, also known as a surrogate, the Howards were able to successfully become pregnant.
“It’s a common misconception that infertility treatment is simply in vitro fertilization,” explains Dr. Bradford Bopp, reproductive endocrinologist at Midwest Fertility. “There are a number of different treatment paths we can take based on a patient’s unique situation. For some patients, that is IVF. For others it’s an egg donor, and for others it’s a gestational carrier.”
The Howards’ just celebrated their son Hudson’s his first birthday, and his parents couldn’t be more grateful for their “miracle child.”
“I dreamed about the day our child was born,” Courtney says. “To see him and to hear him cry, and to look at him and think he looks just like Jay and he’s ours. I couldn’t believe this day had finally arrived.”