SHERO: a female hero; a heroine.A woman or man who supports women's rights and respects women's issues.
I don’t know about you, but the TTC community on social media is FIERCE, in my opinion. It is made up of women who have fought like heck to expand their families, in the most difficult of circumstances. As @laurenifen said: It’s the CEO’s having embryo transfers between meetings, Doctors saving lives while trying to create one, accountants blowing their budget on yet another round of treatment. It’s artists using their work to channel emotion, teachers planning treatment around their next academic year, and police officers sneaking IVF drugs into the staff fridge. She is ME.
Since joining the instagram world, I have been blown away by the support and compassion perfect strangers have provided to not only me, but to others. It’s a world where Doctors are shattering the Doctor-Patient relationship and sharing about their own fertility journeys. It’s a safe place where women share their stories of joy, defeat, and determination. It is made up of a community of women that empower others, support others, and use their infertility diagnosis as a catalyst for something inspiring. Women I like to call, SHERO’s.
Meet Kellie Stryker:
Kellie is an infertility warrior, licensed clinical social worker, and incredible SHERO determined to provide emotional support to those navigating the path of infertility.
Hello, name is Kellie and I’m a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in Reproductive Mental Health.
Four years ago, my husband and I began the process of starting our family.
After trying on our own for a couple months, we got pregnant but the pregnancy ended in an early miscarriage. Following the miscarriage, we tried on our own for a year before we decided it was time to pursue the help of a Reproductive Endocrinologist. I went through multiple IUIs and two rounds of IVF before switching to a different RE who had her own personal experience with infertility.
Our third round of IVF was successful but unfortunately resulted in a ectopic pregnancy. I was given methotrexate to terminate the pregnancy but had to wait another 6 months before we could move forward with another transfer. After the 6 months, we surprisingly got pregnant on our own but my levels started off low and my doctor was not hopeful. To my doctor’s surprise, my levels doubled appropriately and we were scheduled for our first ultrasound.
During the ultrasound, my doctor was unable to locate the baby in my uterus. After much discussion and a gut feeling, we requested a D&C. Following the surgery, the doctor explained that the baby had implanted in my right fallopian tube and I was bleeding internally. As a result, the doctor had no choice but to remove my fallopian tube.
After a 3 month break, we decided to move forward with a test called an Endometrial Receptivity Analysis (ERA) which helped to determine the appropriate window for implantation. The test confirmed that I was pre receptive by 24 hours and required an extra day of progesterone. My doctor explained that the my window for implantation was most likely closed which resulted in my ectopic pregnancies.
Following the ERA, we completed one more Frozen Embryo Transfer. To our surprise, the FET worked and our daughter Madelyn Grace was born on April 13th, 2018.
I’m extremely grateful to be on the “other side” of infertility but the emotional journey I experienced will always be with me. I experienced loss, isolation, fear, sadness and heartache. I never would have imagined that I would go through something so debilitating without the proper support. A part of me was broken but no one, not even my husband, could truly understand the pain I was experiencing. Thankfully, I was able to see a therapist who helped me learn how to cope and manage the emotions I was experiencing. Unfortunately, my therapist was not well versed in Reproductive Mental Health. I craved the ability to share my journey with someone who understood the road I was on. To my surprise, it did not exist and if it did, it was never offered to me. The lack of emotional support during one of the most challenging times in my life baffled me. It was then that I decided I wanted to use my personal experience with infertility and my background as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker to help others going through similar circumstances. I didn’t want others to feel alone or unsupported and decided to open my own practice specializing in Reproductive Mental Health.
When I decided I wanted to open my practice, the name Rain to Rainbow Counseling immediately came to mind. I truly believe that without rain, there would be no rainbows. Your journey with infertility will pave the way to your rainbow, whatever that may be. Whether that be with a child by IVF, adoption, surrogacy or deciding to live your life child free, you will eventually find your rainbow.
My journey has taught me to be resilient, to be ok with the unknown and focus on one moment at a time. Not every story ends with a baby but it can end with an ending you are happy with. It will take time and healing but I promise you will get there.
What I want you to take away from this is that it’s ok. It’s ok to be sad, frustrated, angry, resentful, bitter and whatever emotion you may be feeling at this very moment. You are allowed to feel all of the above and more. Sit with it. Don’t force yourself to put on a brave face when you are going through unimaginable pain. However, when you are ready, allow yourself to work through the emotions you are experiencing. Self-care should be your number one priority because without it, you will lose yourself. Infertility is only a small part of your story. Don’t let it define you.
My mission is to help others get through their journey. I hope to take my knowledge, experience and expertise to walk them through every single step. I can't guarantee the outcome, but I can guarantee to be with them along the way.