In April 2014, Sue Levy shared her story of living with Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM), a rare, progressive and potentially fatal lung disease. Now, she shares her story of navigating infertility, a journey that started years before, but ultimately was informed by, her LAM diagnosis.
Sue, now 37 and married with two young daughters ages 18 months and four years, underwent six unsuccessful cycles of IVF before she and her husband decided to explore alternative ways to have children. They initially pursued domestic adoption but ultimately decided on egg donor and gestational carrier.
A couple is deemed “infertile” when they are unable to conceive after one full year of unprotected sex. In the U.S., approximately 11% of women 15-44 years of age have a difficult time getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term, according to the CDC. While the use of Assisted Reproductive Technology is much more common today than it once was, the term “infertile” is still fraught with negative connotations, especially for women. Dealing with infertility can bring up feelings of shame, failure and loss.
Today, Sue can honestly say that her inability to get pregnant was a blessing, in part because her lung condition is estrogen responsive and can worsen in pregnancy, but mostly because she cannot imagine having any other children than the ones she has now. Her story reminds us that although our plans don’t always unfold as we had hoped, we can find unexpected joy and beauty along the way if we open ourselves up to the possibilities.