Before giving birth to her son Miles in 2015, Bobbie Thomas, style editor, fashion and beauty expert, author and fertility advocate, was struggling to get pregnant. After a long and challenging experience, Bobbie was successfully able to conceive using in vitro fertilization (IVF). Bobbie bravely shared her personal story with thousands of viewers, with the hope of encouraging others who may be facing infertility, too.
Reflecting on her experience, Bobbie wrote a letter to herself five years ago, sharing the advice and guidance she wished she had received prior to beginning her own fertility journey. The following is an excerpt from that letter, which appeared on TODAY.com during U.S. National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) in 2016.
Brace yourself. It's you, Bobbie, writing from five years in the future.
First, I know you're busy. Believe me, I get it. But please take a breath every now and then. I know it seems like work is the most important thing in the world right now and that if you don't give it 100% of your attention, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, everything you've worked for so far could dissolve in the blink of an eye.
But that's just not true. And if you keep going like this, you're going to be hit hard with a huge dose of reality in the not-so-distant future.
Let me caution you to not let your professional goals right now cloud your vision when it comes to future personal ones. Don't let the stories you hear about celebrities having healthy babies well into their 40s provide you with a false comfort or sense of security, or allow you to think that eventually modern medicine will just help you get pregnant whenever you want.
In reality, it’s better to know the facts.
So, while you're busy running from the studio to meetings to your office and back again, consider putting yourself and your future personal life on your to-do list. You're 36, so now's a good time to talk to someone about your options, even if you're not ready to have a baby yet. You know as well as anyone that knowledge is power. You share information with women every week! So don't leave yourself in the dark listening to whatever myths you hear about fertility.
Please go easy on yourself. There will be times when you'll feel like a failure. And that feeling will make you want to try even harder. You'll put even more pressure on yourself.
But you're not a superhero, and the weight of the outcome you're after does not rest solely on your shoulders. Remind yourself that your body is doing its best, and all you can do is your best to support it. Ask for and accept help. It doesn't make you weak. It doesn't make you a failure. The pressure isn't all on you; you can share it.
During this time, you will want to quit. Things won't initially go the way you planned or wanted, and it'll be beyond difficult to perceive the idea of failing again, only to ask yourself to get right back up and start over without any guarantees. You'll have to make yourself a priority, and it's going to be exceptionally hard.
But you're also going to come across an amazing and strong support group of women around the country who know exactly what you're going through. And you'll share a collective and universal strength with all of them that you'll draw from whenever you need it. That strength will never leave you. You will feel very, very lucky for this, and you'll feel grateful, too.
So please, Bobbie from the past, focus on the next steps; not the whole journey ahead. There will be instances when you just need to get through the day, or the week. And that's all you can be expected to do.
Always remind yourself to take time to be grateful for what you have now ... and for what you will work hard to have in the future.
Bobbie Thomas is a spokesperson for the Fertility Facts: Know More. Start Asking. campaign, launched in 2016 by Ferring US in collaboration with the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association.
For more information, visit www.MyFertilityFacts.com. While the site is intended for U.S audiences, it contains useful information for people all over the world looking for reliable information about fertility.