CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Six years. Five miscarriages. Multiple rounds of IVF and IUI cycles. Charlottean Nichelle Sublett and her husband, Harold’s journey to parenthood hasn’t been easy. But she continues to share her story in hopes that it will help others.
April 23-29 is National Infertility Awareness Week. Did you know that one in eight couples struggles with infertility? Back in 1989, RESOLVE, the national infertility association, launched the first awareness week to help erase some of the stigma surrounding infertility.
Barbara Collura, the President & CEO of RESOLVE pointed out, “There are many causes to infertility and I think that's really unfair to assume it's something that we've done or this is a lifestyle choice.”
One myth about infertility is that it only affects older women. It doesn’t. It can affect women in the 20s as well as women in their 40s. Sometimes couples know the source of their infertility and others times, it’s simply unexplained.
Nichelle has dedicated much of her struggles with infertility to raising awareness and breaking the stigma, despite how painful it’s been for her and her husband. “It can take your soul,” she whispered to me minutes before our interview Thursday on WBTV News First at 4:00. “But we never gave up hope and tried to stay faithful.”
While in college at UNC Chapel Hill, a medical provider attributed missed periods to being thin and rigorous physical activity, which many women have said they've also heard. She was a cheerleader at the time. But she says she knew nothing about PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), a genetic disease that affects the hormone insulin and can make it difficult to conceive, that she would be diagnosed with years later. Early detection would have helped Nichelle plan her fertility-health future more informed.
That’s part of the reason why Nichelle decided to compete in the Mrs. North Carolina Pageant in 2018 after her fifth miscarriage. She took the crown – without any previous pageant experience! It was an easy decision to make her platform raising awareness on infertility, particularly her #StartAsking campaign. It encourages young women to start asking their doctors about their fertility years before they decide to try to start a family.
Her other passion? Raising awareness among women of color when it comes to infertility, particularly black women.
“Black women are seen as very fertile and people think we don’t suffer from infertility,” she said. “That’s a myth. We do but we don’t talk about it.” So she works to empower and educate women of color so they don’t suffer any shame or stigma.
After years of miscarriages, failed infertility treatments including several rounds of both IUIs (Intrauterine Insemination) and IVF; and taking Clomid – a drug used to treat infertility - this self-described infertility warrior is finally viably pregnant. Nichelle is currently 22 weeks pregnant with their first child!
Their third IVF FET (frozen embryo transfer) in December was successful. But she admits that navigating pregnancy after loss can be tough. “For people who’ve never been through it, it can be hard to understand, “ she explained. “You’re waiting to feel the baby kicking, to hear the heartbeat. You want those reassurances.”
But she and Harold continue to rely on their faith and the love and support they’ve gotten not only from family and friends but also the infertility community to stay strong. They’re very hopeful and excited to meet their miracle baby later this summer!
My final question to Nichelle in our interview was asking her what she would say to a woman or couple sitting at home and suffering from infertility in silence. Without hesitation she said, “tell someone. Ask for help. Whether through a support group, family or friends. You don’t have to suffer in silence.”
You watch our full interview above and follow Nichelle’s journey on her Instagram.