Editor's note: This story was first published on May 10, 2016, and has been updated.
Whitney and Spencer Blake were about three years into their struggle with unexplained infertility when they came up with an idea that might seem shocking to some, therapeutic to others. “We had been talking about how it feels to hear pregnancy announcements and thought it might be funny to create our own infertile versions,” Spencer Blake told TODAY Parents. “We were cracking ourselves up as we brainstormed in the car.”
The result of that mobile brainstorming session was a series of “infertility announcements” on their blog, playing off of popular pregnancy announcements on the internet. The Blakes, who live in Nampa, Idaho, didn’t create the announcements to actually send them out to friends and family, but rather to raise awareness about infertility and express how it can feel to be on the other side of those joyful announcements when you don’t have good news of your own to share.
“We're glad that it seems like mostly the reaction has been positive, and that many people who struggle with infertility have been able to relate to them in some way,” said Spencer Blake. “Sharing anything personal like that is a little vulnerable, but getting comments like, ‘Thank you for bringing a little humor to a very difficult issue,’ makes us glad we did it.”
The Blakes were diagnosed with “unexplained infertility,” says Whitney Blake. “After trying for a baby for about three years both with and without medical assistance, we started considering adoption. We both pretty quickly felt a lot of peace with the decision to finally draw a curtain on fertility treatments and focus our attention on growing our family through adoption,” she said.
The Blakes adopted son Mason, now 4, about eight months after they received approval to adopt. They adopted son Kellen, now 2, two years later.
“After over seven years of infertility, I can say that while I will never love the heartache of infertility, I have developed an appreciation for how it has shaped my story,” Whitney Blake said. “Infertility led me to my boys. I can’t think about life without infertility, because what if that would have meant life without them? Infertility is part of what created our family.”
Whitney Blake says that if you know someone going through infertility, the best way to support them is to acknowledge it. “It always meant so much to us when someone would reach out and just say, ‘I'm sorry you have to go through this,’” she said. "That's it. We were always so grateful when someone took the time to let us know they cared.”
The Blakes recently reposted their "infertility announcement" photos on their blog, which now features mostly the adorable antics of their two sons. They included this note, explaining their feelings looking back on the photos:
"We are the happy parents of two little boys who joined our family through the miracle of adoption after we had struggled for several years with infertility. Though the infertility is still there, the struggle is mostly not. What used to be such a consuming, challenging part of our life is now usually more of a passing thought. We are so grateful to be parents, but we have not forgotten how lonely and horrible infertility can feel, which is why we thought we’d create something to connect with others who are going through what we went through."