PLEASE NOTE: If you are struggling with infertility or are currently trying to conceive and you DON'T want to read about my pregnancy (which I totally understand), I recommend starting at the beginning of the blog (March 2010) and reading from there. I find out I'm pregnant in June 2011 so there is a lot of trying to conceive posts in between that you might find funny, helpful or relatable. Wishing you all the luck in the world!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Listen Up - I am One in Eight

To be public and say, “I’m the one in eight that has been diagnosed with infertility.” is powerful. Well, for some, it may be easier than others but for me, it was a period (no pun intended) of time before I could get to that point of being open about my fertility issues.

Here is the quick overview of me and what brought me here to writing this post on April 26th, 2017. If you go to what I wrote on April 26th, 2010, which was during a two week wait after my very first IVF, I was definitely in a different place emotionally, physically, career wise, and literally every other place I can think of. Hell, I was even thinner back then and had blonde highlights.

Cade Foundation Event
My story really isn’t all that amazing or terribly different from most. I worked at a corporate job by day, performed stand-up comedy at night (thank god for my humor) and my husband (who is also a comedian) started trying to conceive pretty much right after we got married. Months went by and nothing happened. We tried roughly six timed cycles – nothing. We tried three IUI’s (that always seemed to be near or on a holiday) – nothing. We started doing IVF’s and despite retrieving a healthy amount of eggs, I’d typically only ever get ONE embryo.

Along the way, we discovered that I had a uterine polyp (that I named Jackson Polyp… he was an artist) and had a D&C to evict him from squatting in my uterus. I tried acupuncture, drank herbs that could have been dirt from a random front yard for all I know, saw a hypnotist, visualized an internal garden that I fertilized with my mind, did the standard bikini wax before each retrieval, started blogging, began tweeting under the handle @the2weekwait, became totally focused on my fertility at the expense of my marriage at time, drained our savings account and was terrified anyone would find out that I couldn’t get pregnant.

It was before our third IVF that I began sharing with others what was going on. It all became too much and I needed the support. The select group who knew were informed what to say and not say and they were instructed that any and all pregnancy announcements of others should be delivered to me strictly through email so I had time to process (and then work on feigning happiness despite my own struggles).

Michael next to his embryo
The night before my beta for my third IVF, my husband and I were certain it didn’t work as nothing had ever worked before it and I had all my classic PMS symptoms. He talked about stopping treatment and traveling, I talked about how we’d get the money for the fourth IVF. It truly was one of the lowest points in our marriage because we were no longer on the same page and the distance between us in how we were dealing with infertility had grown. Next morning, we would found out that I was pregnant with my son Michael.

STRONG and fun Advocates & I
About six months after he was born, I was approached by a company in the infertility space asking if I’d be interested in working for them. Between my infertility experience, my administrative background and my writing/comedy skills, working in the infertility space made all the sense in the world. It was because of that career altering decision that I got to really know many reproductive endocrinologist across the entire United States as well as connect with infertility patients literally all over the world. I also just learned a lot about infertility that I wish I knew when I first started going through it. Fertility related issues, various forms of treatment, relevant and fascinating statistics, all the ways you could build a family, stories of multiple miscarriages and stillborns that would bring anyone to their knees and just how very much insurance companies, employers and the public at large don’t get that infertility is as painful and serious as it is – I learned all of this.

Advocacy Day 2016
Infertility became more than something I alone was diagnosed with. It became a personal mission to me.

Its seven years later and none of that passion has died. I have two sons now (one through IVF and one that came out of nowhere that made my RE say, “Holy shit!”) and I could give you a list longer than the 1996 movie version of Halmet on the many events I’ve attended, spoken at, organized on infertility, the articles I’ve now written, the videos I’ve made, the interviews I’ve done but you get the point which is:

To be the voice I couldn’t be for myself in 2010 and more than ever, the voice for those who can’t speak for themselves at this exact moment.

That’s palpable to me.

While I’ve made so many incredible, lifelong friends through infertility and in the infertility community/industry, I know some don’t like that I try to make infertility funny. Others don’t like that I allowed my husband to post our second child’s pregnancy announcement on Christmas day and then there are some who I’m sure just don’t like me. I’m know this and while it’s not something I celebrate, I don’t focus on it because I also know one thing without a doubt -- as much as they may not like me, we ALL hate infertility more.

New England Resolve Conference
I have no idea what the future holds for me seven years from now. I don’t know where I’ll be living, working or even if I’ll have gone back to blonde highlights again. I only know that I will still be making every effort to learn from my fellow fertility challenged friends whatever lessons they have for me (there are so many lessons each day that we can learn from one another), I’ll be continuing to educate others on the facts, options and questions they can bring to their RE, I’ll be supporting those in the thick of it in the way they request and I will raising awareness about every issue I can surrounding infertility rights and access until it’s as readily accepted, acknowledged and covered as much as other medical issues are.

So, listen up – I am a proud one in eight, I’m an infertility advocate and I’m not going anywhere.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Listen Up and then BE HEARD!

When I first read the theme of this year’s NIAW, Listen Up, my first-not-thinking-just-react-reaction was, “Wait. Shouldn’t it be speak up????” I mean haven’t us infertiles been hiding in the shadows quietly listening long enough???

We’re the ones who attend baby showers after our latest IVF failure listening to the “Oooos” and “Ahhhs” while someone else opens up baby gifts. We’re the ones who politely listen and ignore ignorant comments like, “I had a cousin who was trying to get pregnant for years and then she went to a hypnotist and got pregnant the next day! Have you tried that???” We’re the ones who nod and listen when we hear a fertile friend talk about how bummed she is that her third unplanned pregnancy is going to be another girl when she really wanted a boy. Especially now, we’re listening while more people in power talk about what they think should be done with embryos or whether or not children born through assisted reproductive technology should be considered ‘legitimate’.

Frankly, I don’t know about you but I’m a bit tired of listening. In fact, I think I’ve heard enough.

As the days passed however, the more the theme actually got me thinking. Listen Up can be taken so many different ways (leave it to a writer to take it so literally). Some just starting out on their family building journey may want to do just that – listen up on when it’s time to see a doctor and get help. If you have PCOS, endometriosis, a potential sperm issue or any medical issue that directly impacts your fertility, you should see a fertility doctor. If you’re under the age of 35 years old and have been trying to conceive for over a year and/or if you’re OVER the age of 35 years old and have been trying to conceive for over 6 months, make an appointment to see a reproductive endocrinologist. Hell, even if you’re not ready to have kids just yet but want to be proactive and learn more about your fertility health, you can get blood work done or semen analysis. There’s no harm in finding out more about your parenting potential.

Others who have been told they have fertility issues should listen up to their options such as insemination, in vitro fertilization (IVF), IVF plus Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGS) or Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS), donor eggs, donor sperm, reciprocal IVF, freeze all cycles, domestic adoption, international adoption, embryo donation and surrogacy to name the “big ones”. If you are comfortable with exploring these options, if you can afford them and/or if you have coverage through your employer, the question may not be IF you’ll be a parent. It may just be HOW you’ll be a parent.

Listen Up can also be what those going through infertility are quietly saying to themselves. I know my inner infertile could be the equivalent of a bitchy hormonal high school bully when I was struggling to conceive. With every period, I’d berate myself with words such as ‘embarrassed’, ‘humiliated’ and worst of all, ‘failure’. Since most of the public seems to think infertility isn’t an actual medical diagnosis, it’s easy to forget ourselves that we are not being punished and this isn’t anyone’s fault. It’s like being told you’re diabetic and then calling yourself names because you can’t properly handle your insulin levels... as if you have any control over it. Or asthma. Or arthritis. But I did blame myself and many still do.

On that note, Listen Up can be a reminder to listen facts. The. Actual. Facts. I’m talking about things like:
  • Infertility is a DISEASE that affects 1 in 8 couples.
  • Even the healthiest of couple between the ages of 29 through 33 only have a 20 - 25% chance of conceiving every month.
  • Approximately 44% of women with infertility have sought medical assistance. Of those who seek medical intervention, approximately 65% give birth.
  • Approximately 85-90% of infertility cases are treated with drug therapy or surgical procedures. Fewer than 3% need advanced reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization (IVF).

And another fact that REALLY hits home is, that while you may feel alone, 7.4 million women have received some kind of infertility service in their lifetime. So really, listening up to these statistics reminds you that this is a disease, that even fertile people are not as fertile as seem to be and with medical assistance, it may very well bring you one step closer to your family building goals. It also reminds you that you are statistically and literally not alone in this.

Which brings me to my next listening up. As an infertility community, we need to listen up to each other. We can listen up on how phrases like, “Don’t give up!” can intentionally hurt or listen up on how to better to support someone who has opted to stop treatment (or not pursue it at all). Infertility is so emotional and personal. Everyone has things that offend them, don’t offend them, inspire them or set them back. We’ve all seen disagreements online, we all have different thresholds of understanding (or not understanding) but sometimes, the best thing to do is to just be quiet and listen to what a person needs or a lesson they may be able to teach you about their journey.

While I reconsidered my initial reaction to listen up and all the ways we should rethink how we judge ourselves, know our options, our facts and hear one another -- at the end of the day, we still need to eventually be the ones to speak up, be heard and let others do the listening.

I must stop here though and acknowledge that I know I’m in a position of privilege to say that. I’m no longer in the trenches, my personal family building has come to a conclusion. I know when I was deep in the trenches, I was intensely private about my struggle. I was emotionally a mess, depressed, VERY private and anti-social (which isn’t like the somewhat loud-ish New Yorker many of you have come to know). I wasn’t able to share with even the closest friends and family what was going on with me let alone with my eggs so believe me when I say that I know that speaking up takes courage and bravery. Some people are just not in a place to do that. I know many are where I was most of 2010; in bed with the curtains drawn clutching yet another pack of Always maxi pads wondering what the future holds.

The thing is that if we, the one in eight, stay silent, the other seven will never know or understand what infertility is or the impact it can have. So to those who feel they can, whether they are in the trenches or not, we must speak up for those who can’t.

Again, when NIAW is over, the infertility journey for one in eight is not. It’s a week for the public. A lifetime for others. So again, I say to those of you who are the one in eight -- not only are you not alone, but there are others like me who aim to give you a voice if you feel you simply can’t have one.

For the ones who CAN be heard, here’s our ‘Listen Up’ list to speak to:

Friends and family: Listen up to how to support someone going through this difficult diagnosis. You don’t have to have answers. You don’t need to make suggestions. You can just say, “I don’t know what to say.” Or simply ask, “What can I do to support you?”

Large Employers/Human Resources/Benefit Teams: Click here to see extensive data on why offering fertility coverage will not only save your company money but spare your employees the heartbreak of not having options when it comes to treatment. Your company could will also see an increase in attracting top talent, and in absenteeism. Do your homework and know that this is a needed benefit!

Congress: Listen, REALLY LISTEN UP on what it’s like to not be able to have our right to expand our families threatened. Do your research and read the hard cold facts in how infertility is a medical issue, how our military can have their reproductive parts damaged and they need our help (and it’s our way of thanking them) to have the families they deserve, and that offering an adoption credit to those wonderful people opening up their homes and hearts to children who are worthy of parents who desperately want them is a good thing.

Public at Large: Listen up to those same facts about infertility and know that you seriously know more than just one or two people who are having issues conceiving. You don’t need to ask anyone why they haven’t had kids yet. You don’t need to give suggestions on things to try. You don’t need to ask if they’ve considered adoption. Again, you only need to listen up and ask, “How can I support you?”

More than ever, we NEED to make this year’s NIAW count. I have more blog posts to come this week but for now, let’s listen up and speak up not just during April 23rd, 2017 – April 29, 2017 but until we are truly heard.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A Round of Fertility Anecdote Fun

I started writing a whole blog post about the last few months and then I realized… it would be a perfect post for NIAW so I’m going to save it for then. It was almost weird how that happened as I was writing stream of consciousness and the phrase, “listen up…” came to mind. I’m like, “Holy crap! That’s the theme of this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week. I just unintentionally wrote one of my posts…” Soooo, I’ll put that one on the shelf… if I had a shelf. Damn this small house in Brooklyn!

It’s been awhile and one of my goals for 2017 was to blog more. Since my original post is currently on a make believe shelf, I figured I’d like to share some “fertility anecdotes” I’ve collected in recent months to hopefully give you a chuckle.

And of course, if you have any of your own, please include in comments!

One: Right Sample, Wrong Office

A man shared with me that he was meant to drop off his sperm sample. He “collected it”, was driving to the doctor’s office and received a work call. He was so stressed about both delivering the sample and work that he was a bit distracted. He walked into the doctor’s office, went up to the front desk, put the cup on the counter and explained to the receptionist what it was. She promptly responded with, “Sir… this is an ophthalmologist’s office. I think you want the doctor down the hall.” If she were a good marketer, she would have suggested he stay for an eye exam.

Two: Don’t Take My Wife – please

Believe it or not, this second anecdote is ALSO about a sperm sample. This was back in the day when we all used VHS tapes and VCR’S. Yes… I know… that was a while back. A man went to give his sample and brought in a VHS tape of his wife that she made for him. I’d like to pause and talk about this man’s true dedication to his spouse as I would imagine most husbands would like to live a little and check out something new. ANYWAY, he watched the tape, got the sample and headed home. Trouble is that once he arrived home – he realized he LEFT the tape of his wife in the sample room. He of course called the clinic immediately to get the tape but there were other men who used the room after him so one can only wonder who else saw it. I would love to know if he shared this information with his wife but if he was smart, he didn’t.

Three: Clean Contacts

A friend of the family who is a doctor shared this one with me. She had a patient who kept contracting one STD after another. When she called to tell the patient that she again had tested positive for a new strain, the patient said, “I don’t know why this keeps happening!” The doctor said, “I think you should check your contacts.” (Meaning the people she comes into contact with). The patient responded with, “I do. I clean them every day before putting them in my eyes!”

Four: Arrested Embryo

I was talking to a newbie about the IVF process and she was telling me about a recent appointment with her reproductive endocrinologist. She said that he used the term, “Arrested Embryo”. She said, “I was too embarrassed to ask what that meant. I’m assuming it’s people who are going through IVF while in prison.” I’m not sure how she made that conclusion but at least she didn’t think it was a sitcom starring Jason Bateman.

In closing, I sincerely am planning to write more here. I think what happened was I’ve been blogging other places that I neglected this space. It’s like Blogspot is saying, “Ummmm, Jay? Have you been seeing other blogs???” And although I have, they don’t mean nearly as much to me as this one does. The friends that I’ve made online and especially through this blog have meant the world to me.

To prove though that I really have been seeing other blogs, here are a few of the posts I’ve written elsewhere if you want to check them out:
As you can see, although they have their own well-written flair, this is the space where I can really let it hang out!

With hope and humor... as always,


Friday, September 16, 2016

The Persistent Infertility Advocate

Image result for advocate
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been teaching an “Empathy and Empowerment” presentation about how to support, relate and assist infertility patients on their journey. Yesterday, I spent a good portion of my day doing these sessions that includes many different elements of empathy, how to support and be sensitive to someone dealing with infertility and I include a list of things to NOT say to those going through infertility treatment (i.e. “God has a plan, be grateful for what you have, maybe there’s a reason, don’t give up, etc.) I also get into making sure that patients feel empowered to take an active role in their fertility treatment decisions (we tell people about the success rates of IUI versus IVF, etc.) I take great pride in not only making the “fertile world at large” aware of the impact infertility can have on an individual or couples life but also, how they can help not say something that will get them punched in the face.

As I headed home at the end of the day feeling positive, I got a comment on my blog from someone who called themselves, “Unknown”. It said,
“I have ready many of your posts as well as your piece on Recombine’s site. There are a few different definitions of Infertility but bottom line is that one who is truly infertile cannot conceive. You have two children. Can you really speak for those of us who are unable to have children? You say to find humor in it, I haven’t yet.”
To be blunt, my first reaction was annoyance as I felt like someone just pooped on something I’m passionate about. However, I decided to practice what I preach, be empathetic and publish the comment so I could respond. However, when I went Blogger to approve it, the comment disappeared. I have it in my email which is why I’m able to still have what it said. So I’m writing this post to share it (as this person clearly did want this to be shared/read) but also because I’d like to address it.

First, to “Unknown” directly: I’m so very sorry to hear things have been unable to conceive AND that this has been so tough. It’s not fair, it makes little sense and I can’t even imagine how incredibly frustrating this journey (or rollercoaster) has been for you. I thank you for bring this important point up and for your honesty.

Second, I’m going to try to explain why I remain an infertility advocate despite the fact that I do have two kids. Please know that this is something I even asked myself and even went through a period where I struggled with how to proceed in the infertility world so I’m happy to share my reasoning.

There’s a well-known and vocal infertility advocate named Carolyn Savage who I’ve had the honor of connecting with. When I was pregnant with my second child, I asked her about whether anyone who had kids could be an infertility advocate. She said to me, “Of course. That’s like saying anyone who survived breast cancer can’t be an advocate for it.” That resonated with me… but still I grappled with my advocacy role.

After a few weeks, something hit me that changed my mind and has kept me going since. When I was deep in the trenches, I was EXTREMELY private about how I couldn’t conceive. It was several years of not telling my family, friends, and co-workers. That’ why I started this blog. To privately have an outlet because I felt so guarded and quite frankly, ashamed. I felt like a huge failure and literally every time I’d get my period or fail an IVF cycle, I’d spend days in bed not talking to anyone being depressed.

If any of you know me (and some do), my guess is you’d describe me as boisterous (i.e. LOUD! ), outgoing, jokey and hopefully, good hearted New Yorker (but not as rude). When I was going through those years of treatment though, I was not any of those things. I avoided social situations, distanced myself from friends who had children or who were pregnant and stayed home silently wondering what was going to happen, how I was ever going to pay treatment or how I could get out of any event where someone was going to ask me why I don’t have kids yet.

Now here’s the thing “Unknown” – Right now, there are many, many people in the position I was in then. They are private about their struggle, they are perhaps depressed, they are not their usual selves, and they too feel like they can’t be open about what they are going through. They don’t want to share their story because they are understandably protecting themselves. Perhaps that’s why you even used “Unknown” and not your real name, which again – I understand.

For me though, its years later and I’m in a place where I can raise awareness about infertility, share my story, write for (as you mentioned) Recombine, Huffington Post and Time Magazine about infertility rights and coverage. I can go on CNN or go to Washington, D.C. to talk to Congress about increasing fertility coverage for those, who like me, had none. While someone is somewhere at home dealing with this journey, I’m putting myself out there, using my real name where everyone (family, friends, foes, the public at large, etc.)  can support me or judge me, judges what I’m saying and in the case of some of my Huffington Post pieces, make comments like, “It’s selfish to do infertility treatment. Just adopt.” I do this though to speak for those who currently can’t. My goal is make this medical diagnosis known, to raise awareness, support and real benefit coverage and in the process, raise the level of sensitivity around the topic.

I also know there are many like me in the infertility community who do go on to have children that find themselves in a tough spot. We were formally diagnosed with infertility. That was three doctor’s opinions in my case – I have poor egg quality and infertility and that was certainly the CPT code used on all of my medical treatment. However, the debate remains that if you do go on to have children, even if it is, in fact, through fertility treatment, are you still considered an infertile? I hope you’ll all weigh in on that in the comments section as I know there are varying opinions on this.

On this note though, what I would like to ask Unknown is would it be better if I was active in the infertility community and then as soon as I had kids, I left and said, “Ok, thanks! Bye!” To me personally, that’s worse. The community supported me when I needed it and now it’s absolutely my turn to support those who need it. Whether you think that’s wrong or right, I don’t have it in my heart to just peace out like that.

Also, on the note of humor, I volunteered for several years at Gilda’s Club. As you may know, Gilda’s Club was named after Gilda Radner, a very well-known and respected comedic actress who was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. Her husband, Gene Wilder, who also just recently passed away, said that Gilda Radner kept her sense of humor throughout her grueling treatment and right up until her death. When I volunteered in “Noogieland” which was the children’s department, one of the main overall objectives was to use humor as a coping mechanism. It doesn’t dismiss the horrible issue you’re dealing with but it can help buy you even moments of sanity. It also, I hope, takes away infertility’s power… to make fun of it and show, “I can laugh at you so f*ck you!” I’m certain not everyone sees it that way but given your options, laughing at it or letting it kill your sense of humor, I’d suggest trying to laugh at it every time.

Here’s the bottom line: Anyone who wants to be unhappy with me, my journey, and my sense of humor absolutely can. I’ll even connect you with a few ex-boyfriends if you’d like to talk smack about me. You can hate that I did end up having children as quite frankly, I can imagine that I might feel similarly. What I can only hope though is like me or not like me, you still see that I am doing all I can to help bring attention to this issue that affects one in six, and somehow do my part to help make things better for those who are going to go through treatment or for those going through treatment right now. I would hope that even if you don’t like me or get me, you’d at least respect that.

All of us, whether in the infertility closet or not have the power to make a difference. Whether we send a letter to our local Senator or HR Department about the importance and need for fertility benefits, whether we create an anonymous profile on Twitter or FertileThoughts or any other support forum you like to help support and share information with others or even if you educate just one person about infertility – that it exists, we all can be an infertility advocate in a way we choose and that we feel comfortable.

So, Unknown – I do have children and I apologize if that or my sense of humor has hurt you in anyway. If you at all feel comfortable though, I’d encourage you to do something that does make you feel empowered by helping the cause. I will never stop being an infertility advocate. Instead, I hope you join me and become one as well.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Maybe It's Not Blue. Maybe It's You.

Let me preface this post by swearing on my life that no one and nothing in particular prompted this post. It’s something I’ve been kicking around for a while so really – there is no specific drama. Just a trend of behavior I’ve been noticing the past few months.

It all reminds me of a sketch I love by Key & Peele (truth be told… I love most of their sketches) but one in particular brings home a point that I’ve been thinking about. I’ll try to explain first in non-specific terms as to offend as little people as possible (if that’s possible).

Let’s say you hate the color blue. I don’t know why you’d feel that way as blue is actually my favorite color but there you are. You absolutely hate the color blue, the ocean and sky make you cry and Dory as well as Cookie Monster and Grover drive you insane. You mention this quite often. You also tend to be short with people, dismissive of their feelings and perhaps insensitive at times in general. When others point this out to you, you immediately respond with, “You’re just saying that because I hate the color blue!” thereby taking no responsibility for your actions.

Now, here’s the sketch that hilariously demonstrates my point:

Bottom line: Maybe it’s not that you hate the color blue. Maybe it’s more that you need to honestly look at your behavior.

Has anyone else observed this in the cyber-universe???

Perhaps this isn’t a new trend but lately, I feel like I personally have been seeing an increase in this kind of logic both in the infertility community and out. It’s online pretty much everywhere you look: Chat boards, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

You just don’t like that I’m a Democrat!

People treat me differently because I speak the truth!

I wasn’t rude. You just feel that way because I called you out!

It’s a hostile world out there what with an insane election, issues on gun control, LGBT rights and if you’re Team Kanye or Team Taylor Swift. I’m neither by the way.

And hey - I admit that I too can get passionate about my beliefs but to accuse a person or a community of treating you differently because you don’t like the color blue can’t be your “get out of responsibility free card”.

In the infertility community, that’s where it upsets me the most. Whether you adopted, went through IVF, are childfree, etc., aren’t we meant to support each other? You can’t be dismissive of someone’s pain, point fingers or start a flame war and then claim that you weren’t being provocative and people are just singling you out because of your fertility journey. That makes no sense.

Now to be clear: I’m not saying that you shouldn’t express how you feel if someone makes an insensitive comment or unintentionally (hoping it was unintentionally) hurts your feelings. There’s a way though to give someone the benefit of the doubt and say, “Hey, you probably didn’t mean for it to come off this way but when you said X, it came off as Y.” That, I respect. That’s not starting a fight. That’s starting healthy dialogue. And god willing, if you express that to someone, they will recognize you’re coming from a good place and meet you half way.

Look, we can’t always all get along. We can’t. I’ve been involved in the infertility community a LONG time now and I’ve seen the nicest, sweetest, most thoughtful people still manage to offend someone. I can’t think of one person (whether they know it or not) who unintentionally (there’s that word again) hasn't upset someone. Either they posted a picture of their child (or too many pictures in someone’s opinion) or they made a joke that came off wrong or they posted good news to them but not so good news to someone else and so on and so on that bothered someone for one reason or another. It happens.

I remember years ago, someone in the IF community wrote a lovely piece featuring another member of the IF community just saying how much they respected them and others got offended that they too weren’t mentioned in the piece. You just never always know what may rub someone the wrong way on the wrong day (if that makes sense). Really – all you can do is try to be empathetic, do your best and apologize if you accidentally made a misstep that hurt others.

Lord knows I’ve hurt people along the way. If you know me or met me though, I think you would know firsthand that it’s SO not my thing to set out and do that. I would never intentionally (man, I really like that word!) mean to upset anyone. Well, ok, maybe the Duggars but that’s it. I’ve always apologized and tried to hear people out when this has happened but one thing I know I’ve never done is say, “This is just because I’m a fast talking New Yorker who can’t always keep up with her brain!” No. Sometimes, it’s just that I actually just fucked up. My bad. My fault and I need to own that.

But the whole, “It’s not me that’s done anything! People are just mean to me because blah, blah, blah.” That’s not owning anything. That’s not giving others credit for supporting your feelings, even if you do hate the color blue or are a democrat or are a fan of Kim Kardashian (for whatever god forsaken reason). If enough people say to you, “Hey, you’re kind of being a poopie pants”, I’m just asking you take a moment and ask yourself, “Hmmm. Am I being a poopie pants? If so, why?”

Again, not sure if anyone else but me is seeing this trend but that’s my two cents. Any which way, I do love the color blue but if you don’t, I absolutely respect that and love you anyway!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The F in IFAdvocacy is for Funny

I’m typing this out while on an Amtrak train back to New York from Washington, D.C.. To be clear: I’m exhausted at the moment so I hope to heavens this makes sense. I’m still so inspired by this year’s Resolve’s Advocacy Day that I had to type something! I do also plan on writing a piece about it on The Huffington Post but there, I tend to be a bit more formal to appeal to the non-infertility related world in the hopes that my message will go beyond “the community”. I’m not sure if it’s working as still, so many in power think, “Meh. Infertility doesn’t affect me. Therefore, it doesn’t exist.”

But I’m still talking, writing, tweeting, etc. 

As some of you know, I’m a diagnosed infertile who went through several years of treatment and IVF’s who now has a four year old son (my lone embryo on my last IVF) and a 10 month old son (who was a complete hail Mary total shock of a conception). I also am the Director of Patient Care at Progyny, who works with both patients and employers who want to pursue building their families in an attainable and educated way (translation: make it possible to afford it and fully be up to speed on all of the latest science and technology). 

Bottom line – I’m all about infertility/fertility all day and all night. No matter that I now have children, I know there are SO MANY still trying to conceive who don’t feel comfortable coming out of the infertility closet and for them, and I continue to be loud and outspoken.

I know I’ve talked about this a lot on my blog but of the many things I was reminded of at this year’s advocacy day is having a sense of humor. When you hear statistics, the lack of coverage, how little regard our government gives to wounded veterans that need fertility assistance, that insurance companies still don’t get that infertility is a medical diagnosis… dear god, if you don’t make a joke on occasion, I think you’ll lose your mind.

I’m not saying to make light of these issues. I’m just saying that an occasional joke can remind you that even though this shit is hard, if you can laugh at it every now and again, it won’t break you.

If you go through my blog or hang out with me, I could tell you a million funny quotes and anecdotes that are all fertility related. The time someone asked if there was a way to put one sperm in her so she wouldn’t have twins (oy), the time a friend said she thought implantation was a field in Georgia, the time my husband did a full review of the porn at various clinics (note: National Geographic Magazine does have boobs but it also has starving children thus killing the mood) but the question really is do you have those moments where you can make it all funny? I can do my level best to make you laugh but can you make yourself laugh even through the hell of Clomid and having a needle in your vagina?

One of my favorite stories is actually one of the worst moments in my life. It was because of something my husband said that made it funny. It was the morning we were waiting to hear our fertility report after our third IVF retrieval. We retrieved the most eggs I have ever had – 13, we spent our entire savings on this cycle and in our mind, it was our last chance. The day before our retrieval, we were given very specific instructions on where to give the HCG shot and more particularly, how my husband should wash his naughty bits to ensure his sperm was clean and arriving shiny and golden. 

When I got that call that despite the amount of eggs we retrieved and all of our money being gone, we only had one embryo to transfer. We were devastated. Yes, all you need is one but we paid for more and this was our last chance. I could barely speak when I told my husband the news. He took it in for a moment and you could feel the gravity of the situation. After a minute or two, he looked at me and said, “Well, at least I have a clean asshole.” Every time I think about that, I bust out laughing.

Luckily, very luckily, that one embryo was my son but at that moment when we knew everything was riding on him; our marriage included quite honestly, stays with me. And although my heart was breaking, that little joke bought me a good moment of sanity.
It may seem odd that THIS is what I would post about after Advocacy Day but after a day of begging Capitol Hill to please acknowledge our existence, I couldn’t help but feel a little post about humor was in order.

One thing I WILL say though is the NY Crew did sort of gently and lovingly tackle Senator Chuck Schumer. His daughter recently got married and he’s already looking forward to being a grandfather. In the past, from what I understand, he hasn’t been the most supportive of fertility issues. Now that he wants his daughter to conceive, one has to wonder if his daughter will have any issues conceiving… because there’s a one in eight chance she might, which would suck. And while I truly hope that doesn’t happen, the reality is it might. I don’t know of a better way than advocating and using humor (and our voices) to get that across to those who can make a real impact.

So that’s my post on the subject. Once I get more sleep, I’ll write my Huffington Post blog where I’ll try to sound intelligent. God willing, I’ll also have the wherewithal to sneak in a pun about my uterus. We’ll see.

Friday, April 29, 2016

START ASKING: For Infertility Awareness Year Round

Yesterday, I had the great fortune of having a blog piece posted on The Huffington Post about #NIAW. It’s called, “National Infertility Awareness Week: Changing the Dialogue". After years of writing posts here on my personal infertility blog, I wanted to try to write something more “fertile public facing” as a subtle clearing of my throat to say, “Ahem… really though fertiles! It’s National Infertility Awareness Week. It’s about making YOU aware. Us infertiles are already more than aware how much it sucks.”

I’ve got to tell you though: Even though I haven’t been writing here often at all (which frustrates me more than you know), a day doesn’t go by when I’m not talking infertility (whether people want to hear it or not). One of the biggest highlights bringing the issue of infertility to the public at large is the recent premiere of HAVEABABY. It’s impossible to overstate how proud I am to be involved in this powerful documentary that is a raw, honest look at the costly and emotional rollercoaster those struggling to conceive go through. Click HERE to see the trailer.

It’s also yet another example of RESOLVE’s out of the box thinking to reach and educate others who don’t understand the plight of infertility. They partnered with the HAVEABABY team to help promote the film… and of course, awareness.

I’d like this post here on my blog though to be more to those who know all too well the sting of being reproductively challenged. This blog, The 2 Week Wait, has been my support group for many years, has seen me through dark times, has given me an outlet for both my sense of humor and sorrow that I felt when failing to have children and it has connected me to so many amazing men, women, couples and family building groups. Even though, again, I don’t post on here often, this blog will never stop meaning the world to me. This is why I come back here this week to aim to raise awareness AND to ask you to “Start Asking” for more.

To any of you who have been touched by infertility: It does not matter where you are in your journey. We need to stop feeling embarrassed or less than for having fertility issues. No one apologizes for having medical issues, why should we? Yes, it’s difficult to out ourselves. (Man, is that an understatement!?!?) And yes, we open ourselves up to stupid advice. ("Why yes, I did try cough syrup to help my cervical mucus. Thanks!") But until we overcome our shame and advocate for ourselves, few others will. That is a painful, ugly truth.

One in eight suffer from infertility. If the one stays silent, the other seven will never know or understand that pain. We must not stay silent. I know it’s so personal. I truly do but until we start asking to be noticed, recognized and acknowledged as a medical issue that employers and insurance need to assist like they do any other disease, we will continued to be ignored.

I’ve said this often on Twitter but the movie MOTHER’S DAY opened today – during National Infertility Awareness Week. Take Your Child to Work Day was yesterday. Is it me or does the public at large still not seem to get it? I don’t think it’s being overly sensitive to recognize what this week is supposed to be about and you’d think the marketing team at Open Road Pictures would have looked into it.

My point is PLEASE – Start Asking for awareness year round. When someone asks you why you don’t have kids, ask them if they’ve ever heard about infertility issues and then educate their fertile and innocently ignorant selves.

Start asking your HR department for coverage. Start asking your relatives for support. Come to Advocacy Day and start asking your lawmakers for help. Start asking your co-workers, friends, family and government for respect. Any opportunity you get, start asking for more.

Yes, it’s National Infertility Awareness Week but we need to start asking for true awareness of this painful, emotional, psychological issue so that this week won’t be needed anymore.

As always, with hope, humor and hugs.

Friday, April 24, 2015

You Are Not Alone… Even When National Infertility Awareness Week is Over.

Every year that I’ve participated in Resolve’s National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), I typically only post once (Here are some past years: 2012, 2013, 2014) and if you scroll down below this post, you’ll see my first post for this year - 2015.

However, I felt compelled to write just one more blog to make the point that while NIAW is just a week, that for too many, it is year round and sometimes, for their entire lives.

I used to joke that my two week wait felt terminal. The reality is though that for some, it is. @Ms_Infertile posted something that I thought was so true and the public at large doesn’t get when it comes to infertility and that is you can try your best, do everything you can and use every resource and still have empty arms at the end of it.

Throughout my infertility journey, I’ve made friends with a countless amount of people and all of them have had either different conclusions or none whatsoever. Some have had children through insemination, IVF, donor eggs, surrogacy and adoption. Others however have gone on to get divorces or opt to stop treatment altogether. Neither is right or wrong – it’s what was best for them but my point is that infertility isn’t just something we talk about in a week. It’s something that can change people’s lives forever.

I’m proud of this week, that it exists and reminds the fertile public at large we’re here but frankly, it pisses me off that after this week is over, too many don’t know the reality or the scope of infertility.

As many of you know, in the past few years, I’ve been a very vocal infertility advocate. In the past couple of months, albeit in the overwhelming minority, I’ve gotten some questions (and a bit of grief) about why I continue to be an advocate when I’ve had a child (through my third IVF) and I’m currently expecting my second from what I can only describe as a Hail Mary long shot miracle. I have four responses to that:

1.   I still care. Period and end of story.

2.   There are many who survive breast cancer or other life changing diseases but just because they are seen as a success story doesn’t mean that they can no longer be an advocate for the cause. Why? See number one.

3.   I have been diagnosed with infertility. I am definitely one of the privileged who has gone on to have children but this diagnosis affected my life tremendously and again, please refer to number one.

4.   I saved this one for last because frankly, it’s the biggest most personal important reason to me and keeps me an active advocate.

When I was deep in the trenches, I was intensely private about my struggle to conceive. I was profoundly embarrassed, depressed and ashamed. Very, very few knew what was going on and what we were going through. I can honestly admit now that I was actually terrified of people finding out. It, along with never having children, was my biggest fear.

Right now, at this moment, someone is exactly in that place. Hell, I talk to people all day long who have confided in me their infertility issues and shared with me that their family or close friends don't have any idea that they are dying to have children but are unable to.

I have the luxury (yes, the luxury) to be at a place in my life to give those people who can't yet be open about infertility a voice. They are the ones who can’t tell Dolce and Gabbana what they said about IVF Babies was very offensive (Read HERE). They are the ones who can’t write a post for Huffington Post telling people they are being insensitive when they ask others why they haven't had kids yet (Read HERE). They are the ones who can’t advise the younger generation to know their fertility health to possibly try and avoid what they are currently going through (Read HERE) and they certainly would never go on television to disclose they have a child through IVF (Watch HERE).

Whether you like me or hate me, whether you think I should go away or keep on keeping on, I can never shake the person that infertility made me. I’m not saying at all that I do everything perfectly or you have to agree with all of my actions. What I’m saying though is I know how I was and I know how there are still so many, too many people scared as I was to admit that this is something they are dealing with. I promise you with every fiber of my being, whenever I do anything on this subject, they are always, completely in my heart and on my mind.

When NIAW is over, the infertility journey for one in eight is not. So again, I say to those of you who are the one in eight -- not only are you not alone, but there are others like me who aim to give you a voice if you feel you simply can’t have one.

Here are just a few of my fellow advocates/bloggers of those very people:

  • @remagineit - Please see his blog HERE.
  • @radkitten - Please see her blog HERE.
  • @FurrowedFox - Please see her blog HERE.
  • @JustineFroelker - Please see her post on HP HERE.
  • @gsmwc02  - Please see his blog HERE.
  • @jenrutner  - Please see her blog HERE.
  • @ChancesOur - Please see her blog HERE.

And again, you can learn more about infertility by visiting these links:

Monday, April 20, 2015

You Are Not Alone… Even Though It Sometimes Feels That Way

My trying to conceive journey starting in 2009 and it changed my entire life. Truly. Every single aspect of it. From my personal life, to my friends, my interests, my job, my outlook on life and how I deal with people. It’s honestly impossible to overstate the impact being diagnosed with infertility has had on me.
Its 2015 now, years later, and the reality is that I’m in a very different place than when I first started out on this journey (or rollercoaster as the case may be). However, I still care tremendously about this issue and remain outspoken about it. Not only do I remember every little hurt and setback in great detail and share it with both my fertility challenged and fertile friends and family but through my role at Fertility Authority, I speak daily to people who all struggle with that nagging question, “Why can’t I have children?”
As was the case with me, so many of them feel like they are the only ones in their social circles or family that can’t conceive. Why me? Why am I dealing with this when everyone around me can get pregnant? What am I going to do?
Staying connected with the infertility community as well as working with fertility patients continues to educate me on all that people go through to work through, deal, cope, fight and struggle with this heart breaking medical diagnosis.
This is one of the things I like most about RESOLVE'S National Infertility Awareness Week: That it gives those of us who have gone through treatment time to reflect on our own journey, hear other people’s stories and make the fertile public at large that this is something that exists and doesn’t go away by a romantic night, a vacation or by just relaxing. We are not only reminding others that we exist but honestly, I think we’re also reminding ourselves that there are so many others out there like us.
As I posted on Twitter this morning: No matter where you are in your journey – kids or no kids, YOU exist and YOUR feelings matter just as much as anyone else’s.
And why is this so important to say? Because infertility is so often isolating. It can be a lonely, devastating experience even when you’re in a room of fellow infertiles.
So when I read this year’s theme: You’re Not Alone, it got me thinking more than previous year’s themes. I immediately recognized this statement to be true. “I’m not alone” is accurate on an intellectual and factual level. Many, many women and men are diagnosed and/or suffer from fertility issues.
However, when you’re in the trenches, even when you connect with others going through the same thing as you, for reasons I can’t explain – the reality is you still often feel alone.
Right now, if you’re peeing on a pregnancy test for what feels like the four hundredth time only to see yet another big fat negative, if you’re friend tells you she’s pregnant with her third child by accident when you’re waiting to get pregnant just once, if you still have empty arms after trying timed cycles, insemination, IVF, etc. and I sit you down and say, “Hey – Did you know infertility affects 1 in 8 couples of reproductive age? So you’re not alone!” -- Would that make everything less painful? Would you truly feel better?
It reminds me of when I was a kid and I used to worry about this, that and the other thing (I was a worrier) and my dad would say, “Don’t worry!” I wanted to tell him, “Don’t worry? Why, that’s brilliant! I never thought of that! You should sell t-shirts! My worrying problems are over!”
I remember there were a series of months when we were trying to get pregnant when I would get my period and immediately go to bed (even if it was 4pm in the afternoon), stay there and cry until I fell asleep for the night. In those moments, I felt incredibly alone and no one could have told me anything different.
While one in eight people may have understood me and my struggle, I was still surrounded by seven people who not only didn’t relate but who also seemed to get pregnant easily while asking me why I didn’t have children yet.
PLEASE KNOW that I’m not at all trying to be disrespectful or dismissive of the phrase. These are exceptionally important words that we, as I said earlier, need to be reminded of often. Also, regular readers, followers and friends of mine will attest that over the years, I’ve said repeatedly how very much my fellow fertility challenged friends have saved me. Their support, their understanding, their compassion and more than anything, the short hand we share, is unparalleled. When I was actively trying to conceive and I would say to one of them, “I got invited to a baby shower…” they would all know EXACTLY what I was feeling without me having to elaborate. The guilt you feel for not being able to be happy for whosever shower it was, the dread of having to go (when you simply couldn’t get out of it), the deep sadness you had that it wasn’t your baby shower and the nagging fear that you’d never know if you’d ever have a shower. Ever.
So while I would never pretend to have all of the answers, while I can’t say my experience is similar to yours and while I don’t know if telling you, “You’re not alone.” is going to bring you much comfort, this week is a reminder that truly – this is worldwide issue that affects so many and needs to be acknowledged by ALL of us.
If I could try to offer any additional words of comfort – I’d say this:
  • You’ve done nothing wrong, no one deserves this and infertility is in no way a reflection on who you are, what makes you amazing and the many accomplishments you’ve had and continue to have.
  • You do have many family building options open to you if you can afford them and decide you’d like to pursue them.
  • You have every right to tell friends, family or anyone else that asking any questions related to your reproductive parts is NOT ok.
  • If you feel comfortable, I would encourage you to use those opportunities where someone asks you when you’re having children to educate others on infertility.
  • Always feel free to lean on your fellow infertiles because not only are they amazing people who can relate but they also know better than anyone else those feelings of isolation.
  • PLEASE be your own advocate: Get second and third opinions, seek out anything and everything that will help get you through this (support groups, hobbies, writing your own blog, going to the gym, etc.) and do what you need to do to stay sane.
  • If you’re going to a family party, college reunion, any function where the kids question may come up, I highly recommend making a list of your accomplishments ahead of time to have in your memory bank. You may have just gotten a promotion, bought a new house, are planning a vacation – have those in your head so you can not only redirect the conversation but you can remind yourself that you ARE still an awesome person with amazing things going on.
Again, in the interest of full disclosure, I don’t know if any of this helps as everyone has to find the secret sauce to working through it all for themselves BUT I do hope it’s a reminder that there is a community that surrounds you and is here to offer advice as much as they are to listen to your thoughts.
And to those who are a diagnosed infertile as well as to any of my fertile friends who are reading this, you can learn more about infertility by visiting these links:
With hope and humor always,