Author and lifestyle blogger Lauren Scruggs and her husband, former E! News host and producer Jason Kennedy, recently welcomed baby boy Ryver Rhodes earlier this month after a nearly five-year journey with infertility and IVF.
The Kennedys say support from others going through similar fertility struggles was what got them through. “It is always so helpful to not feel alone in your journey,” Scruggs tells Motherly. “It brought me so much peace being able to talk to women that had been through it already and understood the more difficult parts and the exciting parts.”
The Kennedys have been very open about their fertility challenges in the past. “It's always tough when a doctor tells you you can't have kids naturally and you keep running into complications, but we didn't sit and wallow in that," Kennedy told PEOPLE. "We were really blessed to meet with some amazing doctors and specialists."
To raise awareness around the power of support groups, the couple have partnered with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, just in time for National Infertility Awareness Week, which runs from April 24 through April 30, 2022.
Fertility challenges are common
While many may feel lonely, fertility statistics show that those struggling are actually far from alone. According to the CDC, as many as 1 in 4 couples have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy.
That’s where support groups can help. In a previous interview with Motherly, Temeka Zore, MD, FACOG, fertility specialist at Spring Fertility, explained:
“One of the biggest hurdles surrounding infertility and miscarriages is that individuals or couples can feel very isolated during their journey. Support groups can take the isolation away that surrounds infertility and give individuals and couples a community to find shared experiences and successes.”
RESOLVE offers those navigating infertility a directory of peer-led and professionally led support groups, categorized by location or topic. All support groups are currently virtual, but in-person groups may resume in the future.
Scruggs underscores how helpful these support groups were throughout her own journey.
“I intentionally didn’t do very much research to keep the process peaceful and absent of any anxiety. The biggest form of support we turned to were other people who had experienced IVF. It was such an amazing way to know what was ahead and tips for certain parts of the journey,” she shares.
The couple have worked together with RESOLVE to help ensure that anyone else navigating their own infertility challenges never feel alone or unsupported.
“With so much joy coming into our lives, it's more important than ever for us to reflect on our fertility journey and incredible network of support that helped us through it, day in and day out. Our pregnancy experience was challenging, as you all know, and the mental toll and emotional toll of infertility can sometimes feel like it's too much to handle. That is exactly why @ResolveOrg exists, to bring people together to support each other, care for each other, and just be there during the ups and downs of your journey. This National Infertility Awareness Week #NIAW2022 we ask you to join us with @FirstResponsePregnancy to help RESOLVE (re)build their national network of support groups in local communities across the country to help all of us (re)gain our emotional strength through challenging times,” Kennedy states in an Instagram post.
“We hosted an event earlier this year that raised money for all the incredible things that RESOLVE is doing for people impacted by infertility challenges,” Scruggs explains. “We also want to spread the word that there are groups that exist in every state where people can go and feel heard and ask questions; they aren’t in this alone. Covid impacted those groups and now it’s our mission to expand that and encourage people to start them or find one to attend thanks to RESOLVE and First Response.”
When navigating your own fertility challenges, it’s important to reflect on who you are, what your personal needs may be, and what boundaries you need to set.
“Groups where there is a lot of negativity or where you feel like you are being judged should be avoided,” explains Dr. Zore. “Additionally, if you notice that someone without a medical degree starts giving medical advice or is trying to sell a product claiming improved pregnancy rates, [that] would be a red flag.”
Communication is key
It’s also incredibly helpful to keep the lines of communication open with your partner, support team, or loved ones.
“Jase and I over-communicated any emotions, encouraged each other in each part of the process, and limited our research,” explains Scruggs. “We felt it was better not to know what ‘could’ happen and rather trust our own process and our doctors who are pros.”
Sharing your story with those around you not only helps you feel less alone, but helps demystify what can often become a taboo reality.
“It brought hope to us, it brought hope to other people, seeing someone going through what they’re going through,” Scruggs shares in the video. “It was so cool; it developed into this whole community I don’t think we were expecting.”