Nichelle Sublett, Fertility Advocate, TEDx Speaker, and former Mrs. North Carolina 2018, lives by the quote “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” She is an Senior Institutional Specialist for Johnson & Johnson and her passion is bringing awareness to infertility, which affects one in six couples nationwide. Nichelle and her husband Harold welcomed their miracle son, Hudson Dean, in September 2019 after six, arduous years of fertility treatments and five miscarriages. Through her advocacy work and the #startasking movement, she aims to reduce the stigma associated with infertility, and spread hope to affected couples by sharing her story of resilience and persistence
Nichelle and Harold married in April 2013, and began trying to get pregnant immediately upon returning from their honeymoon. After 6 months of not conceiving, her OB/GYN ran some tests and revealed Nichelle suffered from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Learning this news was difficult, but only scratched the surface of what the couple would endure over the next 6 years of their marriage. No one could have prepared them for the future. They embarked on a tumultuous journey that included 2 rounds of Clomid, 7 rounds of Letrazole, 4 IUIs, 2 egg retrievals, 2 IVF embryo transfers, 2 naturally-conceived pregnancies, numerous genetic and chromosomal testing, an endometrial receptivity assay (ERA), pre-genetic embryo screening testing, and 5 heartbreaking miscarriages. In December 2018, Nichelle decided to try one last embryo transfer before moving on to a gestational carrier. Her 3rd embryo transfer finally worked, and the couple welcomed their son Hudson on September 6, 2019. He was worth every tear, and is the perfect rainbow at the end of their storm. The couple has 4 remaining frozen embryos, and hope to give Hudson a sibling one day.
Nichelle champions the #startasking movement to encourage young women to ask their doctors for fertility assessments long before they’re ready to get pregnant. When women know what’s going on with their own bodies, they can take advantage of different options available to help preserve their fertility. In particular, she is so public about her own story to help illustrate the pain women and couples can endure while trying to build their family. She feels that particularly for women of color, there are widespread misconceptions that ultimately leave women feeling alone, unworthy, and ashamed. In the Black community, fertility is not seen as a potential issue and it’s just not talked about. Nichelle aims to open up the conversation and build a network of women who can support each other.
Journey to Motherhood:
My husband, Harold and I were married in April 2013, and I immediately stopped taking the pill when we returned from our honeymoon. I was so excited to be finished with the extra hormones. After 6 months of not conceiving, my OB/GYN ran some tests and diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which affects 10% of women today. The hallmark symptom is the inability to ovulate. Learning this news was difficult, but only scratched the surface of what we would endure over the next 5 years of our marriage.
No one could have prepared me. We embarked on a tumultuous journey that included 2 rounds of Clomid, 7 rounds of Letrazole, 4 IUIs, 2 egg retrievals, 2 IVF embryo transfers, 2 naturally-conceived pregnancies, numerous genetic and chromosomal testing, and 5 miscarriages. Not only did I try many traditional medical treatments, but I also tried many holistic treatments like acupuncture, yoga, gluten-free, dairy-free, and fertility meditations. In Nov. 2018, I had the honor of winning the Mrs. North Carolina pageant, and Harold and I took an entire year off from trying to get pregnant.
We both really wanted to be present and enjoy my reign.
I chose infertility awareness as my platform, and spent the year speaking, making appearances, traveling, and preparing for the Mrs. America pageant. I didn’t go around sharing my story for sympathy or just because, I had a clear intention and a purpose. I felt compelled to put a face and a voice to this silent, yet pervasive disease that many don’t believe affects women of color. I took my greatest pain and transformed it into my greatest purpose by attempting to inspire hope and resilience in other couples dealing with this, but I wanted to help prevent this pain in others.
I started a movement aimed at encouraging young women to start asking their doctors for fertility assessments, hence the name #startasking. Doctors can assess egg quality, egg count, uterine integrity, and measure the reproductive hormones, all long before a woman is ready to conceive. In Dec. 2018, we went back to our fertility clinic to try one last embryo transfer. The third time was a charm, and I got pregnant, stayed pregnant, and gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy on Sept. 6, 2019. He’s our greatest gift and blessing from God.