In the world of infertility, finding a supportive community makes an incredible difference in the journey towards parenthood. Last year's UIRC Infertility Conference stands out as a perfect example of just how much this community matters.
For months before the conference my husband, Brent, and I had planned to go. We were on year three of our infertility journey and we both felt like we needed every opportunity to be around other people who “got it.” We had heard about the conference from the previous year, and waited anxiously for tickets to be announced so we could claim our spots. The email finally arrived with Early Bird pricing, and that was it - we bought our tickets and started counting down the days.
The event promised to be a source of empowerment, knowledge, and hope for those navigating infertility. There was a great line up of speakers, breakout sessions, and a raffle for prizes - a few of which, were Half-off an IVF cycle. We were eager to listen to experts in the field, connect with others who understood the journey, and possibly hear exactly what we needed to help us achieve our family building dreams.
It was the day of conference, and we, along with another wonderful couple who came with us, were the first people there. We got checked in, got our raffle tickets and swag bags, and started filling out our raffle tickets to put into the Half-off IVF raffle boxes. Without insurance coverage, we knew that if we were going to be able to actually do IVF, this was our one shot. We put them all in the Half-off boxes and hoped and prayed we’d hear our names at the end of the day.
The speakers were incredible, and the breakout sessions were wonderful and so informative. We were able to listen to Keynote Speaker Dr. Julie Hanks speak, attend carefully curated breakout sessions with fertility specialists, therapists, and medical professionals. Topics covered a wide spectrum of infertility related subjects, ranging from unexplained infertility to managing the emotional toll of infertility. These sessions not only provided us with up-to-date information but also offered a sense of validation and camaraderie.
Beyond all of the information shared, the event fostered a sense of belonging and support that is often hard to find for those dealing with infertility. We found ourselves surrounded by people who shared similar experiences. We were around people who understood. I remembered looking around the room after our lunch break, at all of these people who were on a similar path to mine - and I felt so much love and hope for everyone there. There was this invaluable sense of community, understanding, and hope.
The most exciting moment, for us, was undoubtedly the raffle. As the last Half-off IVF raffle was being drawn, I held my breath as the ticket was read aloud - we heard my name.
We won! That moment brought immeasurable joy and relief. I had a whirlwind of emotions, ranging to disbelief to sheer elation. After facing the emotional and financial challenges of infertility, the raffle win felt like a lifeline of hope. The weight of the financial burden that typically accompanies fertility treatments was significantly lightened, allowing for optimism to fill the place of doubt and excitement for the journey ahead. As the reality of the win settled in, gratitude took over.
To be in a room with so many people who yearn for the same thing you do is such a humbling experience. Everyone there deserved that win just as much as we did. In a community where we so often hear 'no,' we hope that everyone can get their 'yes.'
Last year’s UIRC Conference exceeded our expectations in its ability to create an environment of empowerment, education, and support for individuals and couples navigating the challenging path of infertility. From the amazing speakers to the meaningful connections formed, the event left a lasting impact on us. Winning the raffle, and watching other people win and have a chance at their dreams, added the biggest element of hope. We felt a sense of community and renewed optimism. We are so grateful we attended.
Conference was an absolute beacon of light for us on our own infertility journey - and I hope, this year, it’ll be yours too.