Nicole Briscoe, ESPN Anchor

 

How did you and your husband meet and did you know you may have issues conceiving?

Ryan and I met in early 2005. We started dating a year later. We’d both been living and working in Indianapolis, and that is how we met. When we started dating, I was 25 and Ryan was only 24. We were both (still are) very career driven, and the idea of having kids wasn’t exactly near the top of my priority list. However, by the time we got married in December of 2009, that had started to change. The summer after we got married we decided to try for a baby. Ryan has always traveled for work, but back then, I was traveling too. My job required me to be away from home 32-34 weeks a year…..Thursday- Monday. It was hectic. So hectic that my OB recommended MORE time before seeking help. Instead of the normal 6 months, he suggested 12-18 months of “trying” just to make sure we were actually giving the normal stuff a proper go. When we weren’t successful in the 1st 18 months or trying, I chalked it up to time apart and us not being together at the exact right time. We started trying right around my 30th birthday. By the time we sought the help of a fertility clinic, I was 32.

What’s it been like to be on-air/public personality and navigate this experience behind the scenes? 

I suffered a miscarriage while working in South Carolina. I was only a few weeks into the pregnancy, but something wasn’t feeling right. I went to the bathroom…..in a portapotty (because it was my only available option), and discovered bleeding. An hour later, I was on TV hosting a show. Mostly when I think of navigating the pain, sorrow, disappointment, heartache….the emptiness of infertility…..I think of how alone I felt. That’s NOT a knock on Ryan. He has always been my rock. But because of our jobs, most of the time….he physically wasn’t there. And during that time, he was 1 of the only people who knew what was going on. My most recent miscarriage and simultaneous abdominal ectopic, was complicated by COVID-19. All of the appointments had to be handled on my own. It can be such an isolating feeling, and it led to me not being as honest as I should have been. I wasn’t ok. I was in pain and my heart ached, but the second that camera light went on? I pushed it all down. Most people would have never known, and I think we all agree, that’s not healthy. 

Why is it important for you to use your voice to help de-stigmatize infertility/ pregnancy loss? 

I think we, as women, are taught from a very early age that our bodies are made for having children. It’s what we’re born to do, right? I spent the better part of 10 years suffering more miscarriages and pregnancy losses than I can count. I suffered through severe and undiagnosed endometriosis for decades. We’re talking physical and emotional pain, and the number of people who knew? You could count them with less than 1 hand. If my body is designed to have babies, then why can’t I? What’s wrong with me? Those 2 questions were basically on repeat in my head. Why can my best friend get pregnant on her 1st try? How did my brother accidentally get his girlfriend pregnant? Why is it that everyone around me is getting pregnant, and I still can’t? Why do people feel the need to ask me when Ryan and I will have kids? Why do people feel the need to remind me that I’m not getting any younger? Why do people keep asking me what I’m waiting for? Infertility can make people feel uncomfortable. And because of that? We don’t talk about it. We suffer in silence. And NO ONE should ever feel that alone. NO ONE should ever feel like infertility makes them a failure. 

What does infertility look like?

 Infertility looks like me. It looks like your sister, your best friend, your neighbor. Infertility can look like anyone. It can also look like you… 

Anything else you want to add? 

My infertility story includes more pregnancy losses than I can count. Some happened in the 1st few weeks. Others towards the end of the 1st trimester. We tried 6 IUIs. All 6 failed. I’ve done 4 rounds of IVF with all the meds and all the shots. Butt or belly…I am a master at self-injections. It is not all pain. The 4 rounds of IVF resulted in 2 beautiful little girls. Finley was born in December of 2013. Blake was born in July of 2016. I KNOW how lucky we are to have them. I also know that if any one of those countless miscarriages had actually taken, then I may not have the Finley and Blake I know today. And that? Is a thought I cannot bear. My infertility story does have a happy ending, but it is not the ending for which I had planned or hoped. So much of infertility is out of your control. And just because I/we have Finley and Blake does not negate what happened before and after their arrival.The existence of our 2 little girls does not wipe away the pain of those losses. Their existence does not erase the years of doubt, the fear, the physical and emotional pain, and the financial hardship. “There is a unique pain that comes from preparing a place in your heart for a child that never comes.” It stays with you….even if the miracles eventually do too.


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