Support group offers safe space for women struggling with infertility
“It’s a hard feeling to describe when you’re watching everyone else get what you’re trying to get.”
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The journey towards parenthood can be easy for some but an unexpected struggle for others. One in eight couples have trouble getting pregnant, according to the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Sarah Ekis knows just how costly a battle with infertility can be – both mentally and financially. The Mint Hill woman runs the Hope Charlotte Infertility Support Group, a safe space and sounding board for those dreaming to hold a child of their own.
Twice a month she logs onto Zoom to host an honest conversation.
“It’s a hard feeling to describe when you’re watching everyone else get what you’re trying to get,” Ekis told WBTV. “And in most things in life if you work really hard, you can get what you want. With infertility it’s not always like that.”
Ekis and her husband started trying to get pregnant after getting married in 2012. She endured nearly a decade of surgeries, egg retrievals, endless injections and multiple miscarriages.
“You can feel like you’re broken,” she said.
Well into her 40s, Ekis’ friend and fellow group member, Taneak Williams, decided she was done waiting for the right partner and ready to be a mom on her own.
“I knew it was going to be a commitment, taking medication, I just didn’t realize the emotional commitment that comes along with it,” Williams said.
Having candid conversations in the support group about her struggles to get pregnant were the only way she says she made it through. Only ones who have struggled themselves to conceive understand the constant heartbreak and triggers the process brings.
“I don’t want to go to anyone’s baby shower. I don’t care what their kid looks like. I don’t want to go to the birthday party,” she laughed.
Like Ekis, Williams tried method after method – until finally adopting and carrying a donor embryo. Her son was born two years ago.
“I would have ran out of money before I ran out of hope of trying,” Williams said.
Williams invested tens of thousands of dollars into getting pregnant. While some employers cover infertility treatment, many still do not. As of last year, 19 states have passed fertility coverage mandates. But both North and South Carolina have yet to do so.
CDC data suggests over six million women in the U.S. struggle with infertility – and in 40 percent of couples, the male partner is a contributing factor.
The group doesn’t offer medical advice, they leave that to the experts. Instead, the women simply listen to each other.
On a Thursday evening in April, one member chokes up while talking about the preparations she’s enduring before yet another procedure.
“I’ve been hit by like a semi-truck. But it’s okay. You just have to keep getting up,” she said.
The woman goes on to say she’s able to keep moving because of the group - but she knows other women have it harder than her.
Elkis, the ultimate encourager, interjects. “Yes. But just because someone has it harder than me doesn’t mean it isn’t valid,” she told the group.
Elkis leads the group because she knows there’s hope. After years of struggle and investing nearly $40,000, her first child was born in 2020. And she has another due in July. Both pregnancies were made possible with donor embryos.
“I want this for everyone who is trying,” she said.
Because Hope Charlotte is currently meeting virtually, they are open to anyone struggling with infertility issues. For more information on the group, email Ekis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2022 WBTV. All rights reserved.