Thoughtful, loyal, strong; three words that come to mind when I think of Sonja Ekornas. I first met Sonja two years ago working at Neiman Marcus together and I was immediately captivated by her beauty and kind heart. We have since become close friends and I've watched her gracefully carry herself through two life altering hardships; the passing of her grandfather -- her best friend and biggest role model, and her journey through IVF. Sonja's story is one I wanted to share in the hopes of bringing awareness and knowledge to Endometriosis. Here is Sonja's story:
At the age of 13, Sonja was diagnosed with Endometriosis and spent most of her teen and young adult years in severe pain. In 2007, she underwent surgery that required the removal of half her right ovary. Growing up in a large family, her biggest dream was to be a wife with several children of her own, but that dream became complicated. After confronting her fear and visiting a fertility specialist, she learned her AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone) levels were 0.93 (normal women's AMH: 2-4) and her FSH (Follicle-Stimulating Hormone) levels were 11 (normal women's FSH: below 10). Being on the extreme end for both, Sonja realized a process known as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) was her best bet for one day having a family of her own. A little over a month ago, she began her first series of the highest dose of hormone injections in order to prep her body for surgical egg retrieval. Single and at the young age of 27, she fought through the process and was forced to make difficult decisions for not only herself, but for her future husband.
Sonja's story rings true for so many women who are suffering through Endometriosis. According to American Society for Reproductive Medicine, 30% - 50% of infertile women have the disorder. As a woman, being told you cannot bare a child can be one of the hardest things to hear and accept, but do not be discouraged. With today's resources, there are so many options to explore for creating a family.
*Endometriosis "occurs when tissue like that which lines the uterus is found outside the uterus... This misplaced tissue develops growths or lesions which respond to the menstrual cycle in the same way that the tissue of the uterine lining does; each month the tissue builds up, breaks down, and sheds...the blood and tissue shed from endometrial growths and has no way of leaving the body. This results in internal bleeding, breakdown of the blood and tissue from the lesions, and inflammation -- and can cause pain, infertility, scar tissue formation, adhesions, and bowel problems," (Endometriosis Association).
A few words from Sonia:
Q1: How was the “Spotlight” experience for you?
The spotlight experience was UNREAL. From the moment I was asked I was a little nervous how I would come across sharing my story but the spotlight team made it the most uplifting & beautiful experience. The day of the shoot was filled with so much love and excitement it made a not so fun experience become fun to share.
Q2: What is your definition of success?
My definition of success is simply knowledge & trying. I think knowledge is so powerful and having that you are already one step closer to anything you're trying to achieve. Trying to get successful results in something can be scary but if you put yourself out there to TRY that is success in itself because you're closer to an answer. For myself & my journey I've had to look at each part of this process in steps. With each step I am that much closer to my goal. Every obstacle I've faced God has provided a win & I believe that's because I continue to try.
Q3: If you could give any word of advice for finding happiness, what would it be?
My advise for finding happiness is to love yourself & your journey. I think once you truly know & love yourself as a person you're able to open your eyes so much more to the world and start to really experience more for what it is and be the happiest & best version of yourself.