Shelby Eckard knows the emotions and challenges of infertility.
The South Carolina mom regularly shares her journey with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and fertility struggles on social media as “PCOS Support Girl.” So when a pregnant friend texted her a photo of her an ultrasound photo, she was overcome with emotion and started to cry.
Eckard’s 7-year-old son, Parker, asked why she was crying. That’s when the mom decided to tell him the truth about infertility, in a way he could understand.
After Eckard told Parker that she was looking at a photo of a baby, he asked why that would make her cry, since “babies are awesome.”
In that moment, she “mustered up [her] strong mom voice and explained infertility to her son:
“Yes, babies ARE awesome. They make hearts happy and homes feel full and are the greatest present a person can ever get. Having a child is like looking forward to a birthday. You know the time for it is coming. And for some reason, for some, those ‘baby days’ don’t come when they’re supposed to. Or ever. And it’s like waiting on a present and not knowing if you’ll ever get it. And it can make you sad. If you were looking forward to your birthday, and it didn’t come, you’d be sad, right? And you’d be really happy when you finally got your birthday present. Mommy had to wait for your baby sister, and it was really hard. But she’s pretty awesome, right? And she was totally worth the wait. So mommy is happy when she sees her friends happy. And that’s why she works hard to help those women feel happy each day.”
Later that day, Eckard found Parker drawing pictures with encouraging notes for women struggling with infertility.
“I want those ladies to be happy, too,” Parker told his mom. “So I am drawing them pictures as presents. Maybe you can send them to them for me? When they’re sad? I don’t want them to give up. I want them to be happy.”
Eckard, who also has a 3-year-old daughter, told HuffPost that as a PCOS advocate, she talks to women about their infertility struggles almost every day
“It can get very overwhelming, dark and defeating,” she said. “I have been in that same dark place. I thought sharing a positive point of view through a children’s eyes would maybe brighten up just one person’s day.”
Eckard’s pregnancy with her son was unplanned, so she never thought she’d struggle to conceive. But after years of failing to get pregnant again, she received her PCOS diagnosis. Struggling with secondary infertility was isolating and heartbreaking for the mom, but after fertility treatments, she was able to have her daughter.
“I am lucky to have my two beautiful children,” she explained. “I know not everyone is so lucky. I think that’s why I share stories and advocate for women with PCOS to share theirs as well, so one less person can feel alone.”
Eckard told HuffPost she’s happy her post is reaching so many people and wants her story to bring comfort to people in dark times.
“I hope just one person who is struggling can read this and feel a twinge of hope,” she said. “It is hard to find it, that hope. I know all too well.”
H/T The Stir