Michele Whiteside’s involvement in The Race to Parenthood 5k stems from her own experiences with infertility.
Here is her story…
My husband and I have been married since 2004 and in 2009 we decided to try and start a family. We followed all the advice, took care of ourselves and in late 2009 we got pregnant, unfortunately the pregnancy only last 8 weeks. When we went in for the ultrasound to try and figure out what was happening they saw an empty sac – nothing there just empty. And the day before Christmas Eve I had my fist D&C.
So back to the doctor we went and were told everything looked good, we had gotten pregnant and I wasn’t qute 35 yet. But I couldn’t just do nothing so we decided to try and do some holistic methods such as working on nutrition, natural herbs and using acupuncture. Nothing happened.
In 2010 we saw our first RE. Tests were run, awkward doctors appointments in which Dave saw much more than he wanted and everything came back normal. The doctor suggested stress might be a factor and we decided that it might be best that I quit my full time job and do something less stressful. So in 2011 we had our first IUI on Mother’s Day and to say we were nervous and excited was an understatement. And we got pregnant. This time the pregnancy only last 6 weeks – a chemical pregnancy is what they told us. And back to the RE we went.
We then went on to try 4 more IUIs and ended up getting pregnant on the last one in 2011 and again miscarried at 8 weeks. This time there were 2 sacs and nothing in them. Another D&C and another heartbreak. We did genetic testing on the products of conception and the only information that came back was that it was genetically male.
During the second miscarriage things got pretty dark, I didn’t understand why I was such a failure at something that my body was made to do. I was alone. I told my husband he should leave me to find a younger woman who could give him children. I was so jealous and upset every time I saw a pregnant woman or saw a story on TV about a woman killing or abandoning her newborn. When things got really really low, I reached out for help and found the RESOVLE support group. Being in my first meeting, hearing the stories of other couples with similar losses made me feel not so alone and not so helpless
So in 2012 – with some good support around me, we decided to switch to medicated IUIs which now introduced us to the new world of injectable drugs. Needles are not my favorite. All this time we were still doing nutrition and acupuncture. But nothing.
At the end of 2012 we made the decision that we would try IVF, everything was pointing that way and the docs thought it would be our best option for having a family. I did my research, looked at adoption as well, and with the help of our family we were able to come up with the money for 1 round of IVF.
In Feb of 2013 we did our round of IVF. We had 5 eggs that were fertilized and ended up with 3 embryos. In discussion with our doctor we decided to implant all 3…and we got pregnant. And at 8 weeks I started bleeding. An ultrasound found empty sacs again and there was some concern that I was also having an ectopic pregnancy. So for the 3rd time in 4 years I was having another D&C.
That summer we went and had a second opinion and few more tests. And everything came back normal. So we made the difficult decision to live a child-free life after a four year struggle with infertility that included IUI, IVF and multiple miscarriages. While we reflected on our journey I realized that there was an extreme lack of fertility education and awareness in the Richmond area. At the same time, I was asked to help lead the RESOLVE Support Group. I wanted to find a way to give back to the community that I had become a part of and help other couples who were struggling to create their own families. As an event planner, I decided to utilize my talents and created the first fertility workshop in 2013. The inaugural event was a three hour session that had an array of presenters including doctors, therapists and acupuncturist. The response was so great that we decided to expand the event to a full-day workshop with multiple sessions covering a multitude of topics. This workshop is open to any and every one wanting to learn more about infertility and Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).
After our first workshop, Jenn Nixon, who was in the support group at the time, came up to me and asked me about helping her put on a fundraising race to help couples fund their path to parenthood. And so the Race to Parenthood was created. The first race was in 2014.
So we have had now 5 Richmond Fertility Workshops and 4 Race to Parenthood 5ks and tons of Richmond families created. During this process there was a realization that we could get more done by creating a non-profit and therefore the Road to Parenthood was created.
You know they say that those who cannot do teach; well those who cannot have babies help others.
I lead the Richmond RESOLVE North Support Group that meets in Hanover every other month, coordinate the South Group, serve as a liaison with the national RESOLVE Organization, coordinate and run the Richmond Fertility Workshop and I’m the Race Director for the Race to Parenthood 5K. In all these years I’ve helped the couples of Richmond and surrounding areas with their paths to parenthood, whether that be having a child or deciding to be adults without kids. Doing all of this helps fill the void in my life, by helping others I’m helping myself feel like I matter to this world. That while I can’t contribute my own human being to the world, I can contribute my time and talents to help others.
In addition to organizing the Richmond Fertility Workshop, Michele is the Vice-Charmian of The Road to Parenthood Board, she leads the RESOLVE RVA North Infertility Support Group, has participated in the RESOLVE Advocacy Day and Walk of Hope, and is the Race Director for The Race to Parenthood 5K. She works full time as the Director of Advancement Events for the University of Mary Washington and has her own consulting business where she does local event/wedding planning and works with other universities across the country on software implementations. Michele graduated with a BA and MLA from the University of Richmond and is a very active alumna.
Learn more about living child free – click here.