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Infertility

It Doesn’t Matter Who You Are, Infertility Doesn’t Discriminate

At 32, I had a miscarriage and a year later found out I had unexplained secondary infertility. It rocked my world — and gave birth to a new purpose. Here's what I learned in those years.

It Doesn’t Matter Who You Are, Infertility Doesn’t Discriminate

Credit: Katy Mimari

I've always been a go-getter — someone who overcomes any obstacle. Little did I know how that quality would carry me through the toughest time in my life.

My first business venture was photography. In college, I bought a decent point-and-shoot camera and took pictures for daycare centers. The photoshoots were the standard kids with Santa and Easter Bunny setups until I took it up a notch and rented ponies for some extra Texas flavor. I did well working part-time and made enough money each holiday to support myself comfortably for the rest of the year. But I knew this was only going to be my plan until I could think of something bigger and better.

The Business of Babies

A couple of years later, a new dream and business opportunity arrived—in the form of an ugly diaper bag. I was in the car with a friend who was a new mom at the time. I reached back to get something out of her diaper bag and couldn’t believe the quilted teddy bear mess she was carrying around. Suddenly, it clicked: I could design some that women would want to carry. At that moment, the idea for my company, Caden Lane, was born. By the time my first samples arrived, I was very pregnant with my first baby.

Caden Lane grew quickly, as did my family. A second baby came, and we opened a brick-and-mortar store. Navigating my multihyphenate world of wife-mom-entrepreneur was a whirlwind, yet I knew I had one more baby in me. Like most women who've never had trouble getting pregnant, the thought of infertility never crossed my mind. It took a year after a miscarriage to finally seek treatment. Two years, multiple failed IUIs (intrauterine inseminations) and two rounds of IVF (in vitro fertilization) later, the lessons I learned then still resonate today.

author Katy holding a baby in her baby store Credit: Katy Mimari

Infertility Is Unpredictable

Infertility is many things, but straightforward is not one of them. In my case, infertility was "undiagnosed," meaning doctors couldn't pinpoint the cause, which is common. The only possible explanation was my age — 32 — far from “too old” to have a baby. While the potential for infertility does increase with age, it can and does happen at any time.

Infertility is gut-wrenching no matter the cause, but for me, not knowing why made it worse. I'm a problem-solver, so I thought that if I could only know the source of this, I could fix it. Of course that wasn't true, but as women we tend to shoulder the burden and blame ourselves.

A recent report by the World Health Organization says that one in six women globally will experience infertility. The average number used to be one in eight, and I believe it has changed as we choose to have children later in life. As women it feels like we have these life-altering binary decisions: start a career or build a family. Experiencing failure in either one or both is crushing.

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On the outside, I was a successful CEO, but on the inside, I was every woman who struggled with infertility: devastated, scared and angry that my own body could betray me. What I learned is that infertility can happen to anyone. It does not discriminate and has no regard for age, success, income or prior successful pregnancies.

pregnant woman Credit: Katy Mimari

Sharing Your Story Matters

Even in a marriage, infertility can feel isolating. My miscarriage, followed by extensive infertility treatment, compounded that feeling for me. When two or three rounds of IUIs failed, IVF was the next option. I went through weeks of daily injections, sometimes twice daily, leading up to ovulation. Then an injection to make ovulation happen. Then progesterone shots. Each day, I stood in my bathroom alone, faced myself in the mirror, and jabbed a needle into my body in hopes of having one last baby.

Besides my husband, no one else knew what was going on. I didn't want to have to keep repeating myself or deal with the questions I assumed would follow. If I could go back, I’d tell myself how important it is to share my story, that all of this is hard, and that it’s okay to ask for what I need — whether that’s venting or a safe space to cry.

After two years of treatment and a challenging pregnancy wrought with fear, my daughter Lila was born in 2012. It was only on the other side of infertility that I was able to see how healing talking about my journey was. In doing so, I reached a turning point in my life's work.

After Lila was born, I saw a woman crying in my store and went over to check on her. She told me she was shopping for her friend's baby shower while struggling to get pregnant herself. We ended up talking for hours. Our shared stories created a connection that went far beyond the moment in the store. It's part of what led me to discover a new purpose and launch the Conceive Fertility Foundation (CFF). CFF is a nonprofit that invests in the dream of motherhood by providing financial and emotional support for women facing infertility.

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Although my experience with infertility was a tumultuous time, I don't look back on those years wishing it was different. I’m fortunate that the end result was a beautiful, healthy daughter. The only thing I can do right now is to continue to share my story honestly, pay it forward and hope to make the journey less painful for others.

Author: Katy Mimari is a Texas-based mom and entrepreneur who launched Caden Lane nearly 20 years ago. Its mission is to celebrate the most important milestones of a mother’s life with colorful and timeless products that are “Designed By Moms For Moms.” In 2022, Katy decided to give back in a big way with her sights set on making the dream of motherhood come true for many. Katy launched the “Conceive Fertility Foundation,” to help women struggling with infertility, a battle Katy also faced in growing her own family.

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