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!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Do You Want Fries with Your Infertility? Raising Our Fertility Game in 2018!


Resolve Night of Hope - December 4, 2017
Mother effer. I’m so sorry it took me THIS long to write another post. A lot has been going on… the holidays (which oddly enough kicked my ass more than usual this year), work (which is a high-quality problem – to be busy and in demand but still), and a stomach flu from hell (one positive is it brought me closer to my 2018 weight goal). Such is life and I know many relate. I swear – everyone I know is either sick, getting over something or has made a comment along the lines of, “This year is off to a crazy start.”

I do want to take a moment though to share some recent pieces I’ve either written or have been included in that are fertility related. Each one of these shines a different light on fertility (the cost of IVF, egg freezing, embryo adoption, increasing access to treatment and increasing awareness on infertility). It’s no bullshit when I say I’m so freaking thrilled to be able to be involved with all of the below. Anything and everything to let the fertile world know, “No really though – Let’s talk about fertility, options and coverage.” Here they are:
  • Click HERE to read a Self Magazine interview I'm included in on the high cost of IVF.
  • Click HERE to read a Babble article that I'm quoted in about egg freezing parties.
  • You can read my piece on Pregnantish regarding Embryo Donation by clicking HERE.
  • This is a BLOG I wrote for the Alliance of Fertility Preservation about the press conference that discussed getting closer to IVF and Fertility Preservation coverage in New York.
  • This is Celmatix's pledge to #SaytheFword in 2018 and I'm included in it along with Maven Clinic, Flutter Health, Tia, Fruitful Fertility, and Fairygodboss to break free from stigmas and empower women to talk fertility. Check out the videos by clicking HERE.
Now, I REALLY want to take a moment and talk about Resolve’s Night of Hope because it directly relates to the infertility community. It was an incredibly inspiring evening and one I'll always remember. Truly.

As some of you know, I used to do stand-up comedy for over 12 years (these days, I’m usually in bed by 8:45pm), so when I was told I’d be making a speech at NOH, it was exciting to feel like I may get to relive some of the good ol’ days. Believe it or not though, a room full of reproductive endocrinologists and medical professionals are a way tougher crowd than a drunk bachelorette party.

Side note: Wouldn’t it be great if like those bachelorettes, everyone at Night of Hope also wore penis crowns? Just an idea to consider for next year.

I knew I had to make my speech a little funny with a strong beginning to ensure people would actually listen to me BUT I also wanted to honor the community who A) voted for my blog and B) supported my sad infertile ass when I was deep in the trenches.

This brings me to the word, “Hope”. The award I was accepting was “Blog of Hope”. When you’re trying to conceive and NOT conceiving, the word ‘hope’ isn’t always the most sunshiny and rainbows of words. Because of low moments in my own journey (no more money, only one embryo after having 13 eggs retrieved, husband and I on the verge of killing each other, etc.), hope became an idea that felt cruel.

More than anything though, it’s the community that has shared their feelings on quotes like, “Don’t give up hope!” and “When the world says, “Give up,” Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.” It’s one of the many things I’ve learned from listening to my fellow fertility challenged friends. While some need hope and thrive on having it, there are others who felt like I did in my low moments and could do without it.

Point is (and yes, I swear I have one) that in my speech, it was important to me to acknowledge what I learned: That while I was accepting this award with tremendous pride, I know that my blog may not offer ‘hope’ as it hopefully offers humor.

So, thank YOU for all the lessons, support, love, humor and for so much more than I can ever say. You can watch/listen to my speech (it’s not long) by clicking HERE. I'll also include my thank yous that were in the program at the very bottom of this post.

Annnnd speaking of humor (not to mention the title of this blog post): I saw this PIECE a week or two back on women eating McDonalds Fries DIRECTLY after sex in the hopes that it makes them more fertile.

Yes. Fertility Fries. Who knew?

Instead of smoking a post coital cigarette, you could indulge in the salty joy only French fries can bring. Fry sex… if you will. Or perhaps a “Happy Meal” with an extra special prize.

I read this and was deeply amused… and well, a little pissed too. Why wasn’t this a trend back when I was in the trying to conceive trenches? I would have loved fries with sex. Come to think of it, there were times I would have loved fries during sex. Or on third though, can the sex – just bring on the fries.

Now, I’m not a doctor nor have I played one on television but medically speaking, I’m not sure I fully understand the correlation between deep fried potatoes and sperm fertilizing eggs but yet, this is apparently a new piece of anecdotal advice along with eating pineapple core and/or drinking cough syrup to conceive. In everything I read about this latest trend, I have yet to read the logic… other than maybe women just want to eat some damn fries.

If I can tie all of the above together, it’s January 2018 and it would seem that we’re STILL trying to explain to people that infertility is an actual medical diagnosis. We need to talk about this. We need for insurance companies and our employers to understand this. We also need our well-intentioned friends and family to appreciate that it’s not going to go away by taking a vacation, adopting or eating fries for that matter (although I still want the fries).

And those examples of “just relax” or “just adopt” I know gets used often but you know why? BECAUSE PEOPLE STILL KEEP SAYING IT. I remember I had approximately four people tell me, “You’re thinking about it too much. Don’t think about it and you’ll get pregnant.” THAT IS NOT HOW IT WORKS.

While I believe in doing all you can to lower your stress for health reasons, if you have blocked tubes, a sperm issue or some other physical, medical (there’s that word again) reason you can’t conceive without help, you can “Ommmm, Namaste” all day long and it’s not going to get you pregnant.

If some of the pieces I’ve shared above, including the press conference here in New York that was held last week about creating coverage for those needing IVF and/or fertility preservation due to a cancer diagnosis, at all sets the tone for 2018, then I’m hoping this is THE year we make some headway. Especially at a time (and I’m going to try to be respectful here) where our government seems to have strong opinions on women and fertility. Whether you agree or disagree with their opinions, I can only say that I hope we all lend our voice to the conversation.

So… this is it. First post of 2018. Let’s kick this year in the balls (or ovaries)… and eat fries for the sheer joy of it and not because it’s medicinal.


Monday, November 6, 2017

Hope and Heart


Let me tell you about the week of October 23rd as it was a roller coaster of a week. I was getting ready for ASRM in San Antonio and even came up with a cutesy-poo meme (of sorts).  Well, I thought it was cute. It was to be my first ASRM conference and I could NOT have been more excited. I would be flying first class to stay at a four-star hotel to meet with some friends, doctor’s, and folks who all care about family building.

On Monday morning, October 23rd, I was on the elliptical when I saw I received an email. It was from Resolve letting me know that my blog was selected as the recipient of the Resolve 2017Hope Award for Best Blog. Given the caliber of the fellow nominees, I could not have been more floored. I’ve been writing this blog since 2009 and was always aware of this award. I also know the majority of the previous winners and I could not be in better company.

I do want to again take a moment and mention my fellow 2017 nominees as these were powerful pieces for this past year's theme, 'Listen Up'. Each of these women honestly and wonderfully shared a unique perspective that I know will resonate with many. I'm honored to have been included in this group. They are:

·         A Hummingbird Pause - Listen Up! For Waiting Mothers

·         Angie.Life - Listen Up! Infertility is a Disease


To get to attend ASRM on the heels of this honor made me even more excited to go. And so the week went on filled with ASRM preparation: Getting business cards ready, packing my best dresses, getting a pedicure, eye brows done, etc. You know… the essentials. When Thursday, October 26th rolled around, I was happy and having a good week and a particularly wonderful day. Then, as I walked home in the afternoon, I felt a familiar feeling that was NOT a good one. Since 2007, I have. on occasion, had something called tachycardia episodes. This means that my heart rate shoots up and more often than not, I pass out. I’ve had two bad attacks in the past few years but usually, they are somewhat small and brief. Plus, if I lay down immediately, they tend to pass. I had been told previously that these episodes would happen because I have low blood pressure and sometimes, my heart rate goes up to pump blood to the brain if my blood pressure drops. Turns out, this wasn’t exactly correct.

But back to the bad feeling and walking home…

I immediately laid down on the side walk. Germs and the white coat I was wearing at the time be damned. I wanted to lay down to avoid passing out and luckily, it worked. However, I couldn’t get back up without almost losing consciousness and my heart rate wasn’t slowing down. As insane as this sounds, I do live in Brooklyn so there are always people about but much to my good fortune, an EMT who just got off duty happened to be walking by. He took my pulse and said to me very seriously, “You need to go to the hospital now.” I explained to him that this happened before and that it was just my blood pressure but he was insistent. I would find out in the ambulance that my pulse was at 210 beats per minute. Even on my best day on the elliptical, I could never get it that high… so always listen to your neighborhood EMT.

I’ll spare you every detail but I ended up being in the hospital from that night until the afternoon of October 31st. This meant no ASRM. No first-class seats. No four-star hotel. Instead, I was in a shitty hospital bed hooked up to monitors next to a woman who cursed at the nurses and felt strongly she didn’t have to wear a hospital gown. Time to update my cutesy-poo meme with a more morose one.

On the 30th, I had a “Electrophysiology and Radio Frequency Ablation” (that’s a mouth full!). Usually, this procedure takes one to two hours. Mine took four. Of course, it took four. Everything with me is difficult. All this time without knowing it, I had an extra “conductor” in my heart that would get into the circuit of things thus elevating my heart rate. It was next to a “good” conductor so I referred to the extra/bad one as it’s evil twin. The goal of this ablation was to burn the bad one (kill it basically) but making matters difficult was A) the bad one was super close to the good one and they were worried they’d affect the good one and B) the bad one was a thick fibrous pain in the ass that wouldn’t’ die an easy death.

Bottom line – It seems to have worked, I’m alive and home. Now the healing (and arguing with the insurance company) begins.

Between the Resolve Award and having to cancel last minute attending ASRM, I received so many texts, emails, messages, posts from the community. The community being infertility friends, Reproductive Endocrinologists, nurses, writers, companies, etc. The list is long and the fact that so many cared to either congratulate me or wish me well all in the course of one week sincerely meant more than I could ever say.

In 2009, when I started writing this blog, I was a sad person who had been trying to get pregnant for some time. I was about to do my first IVF and felt I needed others who understood to connect to. It’s 8 years later and I never would have imagined how much this blog and the “fertility world” would come to mean to me. I’m so grateful to have made the friends I have through this crazy, f’d up journey. And I swear to you – infertility folks have some of the best senses of humor (probably because we need to). The majority of my time in the past 8 years (either trying to conceive, helping support others trying to conceive and eventually going on to work in the fertility space), has been filled with love, support, humor and compassion. Some of the lessons I’ve learned recently is my existence has not gone unnoticed during that time and more importantly, that this community – whether they are on the patient side, the medical side, the advocacy side or all three – they do care about one another. We may not always communicate it well or agree on everything but there is mutual respect and appreciation.

So from the bottom of my recently repaired heart – thank you, thank you thank you for both the Resolve 2017 Hope Award for Best Blog and for your get well wishes. I will spend the next 8 years (and more) trying to repay everyone for their kindness.

 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Hope Award and Fighting for FAFTA



This week, the nominees for Hope Award for Best Blog by Resolve were “released” and I’m humbled and fortunate to be recognized and included in this truly kick ass list. This is the second time I’ve been nominated which makes me feel a little like Susan Lucci (super throwback reference but those who get it know exactly what I mean) but really, given how many powerful and emotional blogs were submitted, it’s no bullshit when I say it’s an honor for anyone to say, “Hey. You. That post. It had some real feels in it. Thank you.” (The post in question can be found here.)

I should mention that in general, I don’t “win” things. I’m not a winner. I’m a former stand-up comic whose routine for 12 years (when I had the energy to perform) was primarily about how much of a winner I’m not. In fact, the only thing I can recall ever winning was in May 2015 when I was 8 months pregnant and at a fundraiser that my sister was being honored at. Yes, my family is a bunch of active do-gooders. In her case, she and her family had made a noteworthy impact on Seatuck Environmental Association. Even though I was notably huge at the time, there was no way I was missing it. The big raffle of the evening was for a bottle of champagne and somehow, through dumb luck, I won. When you saw me waddle up to get the bottle, there was an audible gasp from the room as clearly, the silliness of a pregnant woman winning alcohol was not lost on everyone. Later on that night, a guest took me aside in the bathroom to give me the wise advice of, “Wait till you have the baby before drinking.” Ummm, ok. Thanks. What’s even funnier is I don’t drink. Like ever. Anytime I drink, I fall dead asleep. Being that I think I’m more fun conscious (some may disagree), I tend to stick to Shirley Temples. Soooo, yeah. That was my one and only big win.

It's not that I have a defeatist attitude but really, when you read this year’s nominees (click here to see the list and to vote), you can’t go “wrong” with anyone you vote for. I’ve known ALL of these blogs for a while now and in the case of Angie Life, I’ve had the extreme
Angela, Me and Candace
pleasure of meeting Angela in person and I adore her. She has been a hard core advocate who shared her story openly and publicly this past NIAW and took the lead on social media for this year’s advocacy day. This is not at all to take away from the other two nominees as Lauren and I have been connected online for years and let’s face it, if there were a blog award for ‘Wittiest Name”, she’d win hands down. Each one of these posts including, Jessica of A Hummingbird Paused, bring a different view point to the table and really, you have to vote for which one resonated with you.


Last year, when I was nominated, I “lost” to Shelley and let me tell

Me and the fabulous Shelly

 you – when I read the blogs that were nominated then, my first thought was, “Damn. I’D vote for Shelley!” It was a really good post and very much deserved to win (click here if you’d like to revisit it).

But here’s the point, when I “lost”, nothing really changed for me. I still care a f*ck ton about infertility advocacy, worked with the fabulous Candace (her blog here) on content for advocacy day, I met with my senators and representatives about infertility access, attended two press conferences (and even spoke at one) in support of FAFTA and I continue to write on infertility passionately and often.

My point? Win or lose, this is an honor but ultimately, I will remain as active as I ever was. I’m almost like an STD you can never get rid of. (See? Even my metaphors don’t scream “winner!”)

And that leads me to what is most on my mind… the FAFTA bill.
Me in Albany speaking at a FAFTA Conference
This is something that I’m getting my kick ass boots on for and have already contacted my local NY reps to discuss. It will create access to IVF, oncofertility preservation, and provide compensated gestational surrogacy in New York. If we have a Starbucks on every corner and can get Chinese food at 2am, we should at least have fertility rights that are more in line with this century, no?


To give you a touch more details (hold the sense of humor for a
At a FAFTA meeting in Brooklyn!
moment), I’m talking about The Fair Access to Fertility Treatment Act (S 3148A and A 2646A), which adds IVF coverage, and fertility preservation for cancer patients, to New York’s insurance law, and for The Child-Parent Security Act (S 17A and A 6959A), which legalizes gestational surrogacy in the state. Resolve has created a page/letter you can go to immediately to write YOUR reps to support these bills. Click here for that.  

Before I close, I’d like to acknowledge how many links I have in this post! Thank you and sorry for that. I’m link happy!

As always, thank you for reading and if  you’d like to vote, you can go here (another link) before October 13th! (By the way, if you live outside of the United States, you can choose "none"’ at the bottom of the States drop down list).
 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

You Matter.



First, it drives me nuts that I can’t write on here more. It’s a high-quality problem though so I can’t complain too much. The last couple of months have been a lot of big changes and although, in the end, they all resulted in good things, it still was a process to get to a new normal!

One thing that has changed for the good is I’m working for myself. I could go on and on about this but the bottom line is that this has been the greatest gift at this time in my life for a whole myriad of reasons. I hesitate to give too many details and really, I’d rather focus on the positive than the negative. So, I’ll just say this: This is the first time in a long time where I’m able to truly be “me”. I don’t have to limit my ideas, sense of humor, personality or, most importantly, what I work on or who I work with. Of the many lessons I've learned recently, one of the biggest ones is you don't realize how much a negative situation (person, environment, etc.) can impact who you are and your happiness. As super corny as this sounds, I feel free and able to pursue any and every opportunity that supports true infertility advocacy and my personal interests in general.

As a good friend of mine said, “You are free to be your authentic self without compromise.” And really, that's a super kick ass awesome goal for all of us to have!

This has opened the door to many opportunities and projects, which has been wonderfully fantastic. The only thing is that it can keep me from this blog. HOWEVER, I’m now blocking off time (Yay having total autonomy over my schedule! Whomp whomp!) to write a new post every two weeks. Get it? EVERY TWO WEEKS.

Secondly, and on this note, I posted the below on Social Media a month or so back and it got a very big response.
 
Thirdly, around the time I posted this, I started what became a drama that lasted almost two months with my oldest son. This was one of the other “big changes” recently. As you may recall, my oldest, MJ, was the only embryo I had to transfer on my third IVF. Out of both funds and patience, we were very lucky that he implanted and stuck around.

He is now five and a half years old (Jesus, where has the time gone?!?). He is also, as you also may recall, on the Autistic Spectrum. He is high functioning, speaks (although is speech delayed), has a sense of humor and I often equate him to a human Rubix cube. Once you figure him out, he really is a lot of fun.

I’ve been as open about this as I have been about my infertility issues. What’s funny to me is there are very specific similarities between the two issues. Whenever I talk about either, many seem to either think I should be embarrassed OR they try to explain away the problem. With infertility, is it because I was too stressed or waiting too long to have kids? With autism, is it because he was conceived through IVF or because I had him vaccinated?
Infertility and autism (big shock everyone) are MEDICAL CONDITIONS. No one did anything wrong. There are no fingers to point and there is no reason I should be apologetic or feel shameful for either.
ANYWAY, the drama with MJ is he was starting kindergarten and because of his quirks (as I call them), we had to get him in the right program. This is another long-complicated story but the struggle was similar to my own earlier this year: I needed to find an environment for my son where he could flourish and be the best him he could be. What’s very sad (and makes me stabby) is the first program/school he was in was very dismissive of him and treated him, quite frankly, like he was one big inconvenience. Only recently, did we get him into a school that is working out well, which is a relief.
So what do all three of these things have in common? Collectively, they made me realize something so important that I wanted to share with you. And that is… YOU MATTER.
Now before you roll your eyes over how cheesy that statement is… hear me out.
It’s so easy to define yourself by roles, problems, or other people’s opinions. What I’ve seen time and time again this year is just because one or two or even three people don’t see the value in you, it doesn’t mean you’re not valuable. It means they are wrong.
The power of saying, “Hey… you. I see you. You ARE important. Your voice needs to be heard and you truly matter” can’t be underestimated. Even as (dear god, I can’t believe I’m going to say this but…) a morning mantra, to look in the mirror even for a second to say, “I MATTER!” can remind you that you are alive and can have an impact on your life as well as others.
On that note, I recent saw another meme that said:

And what if we all did that? If we didn’t apologize for our existence? I’m not saying to be rude to others or disregard hearing one another. I’m saying what if we all lived with real acceptance of ourselves, had confidence and proudly lived out loud?

It does not matter if you have or don't have children, if you have infertility, if you have autism or if you are either completely perfect (lucky you!) or far from it. YOU. STILL. MATTER.
This is what I’ve been exploring for a while now and I encourage you to do the same.
So if you are reading this, whether I know you “in real life” or not, please know you DO matter. Live out loud, kick ass and be YOUR authentic self!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Dealing with Mother's Day When You're Stabby

When you want to be a mom and are dealing with or have dealt with fertility issues, Mother’s Day can, well, suck total ass. Before I launch into some potential suggestions on how to handle (or ignore) the day, I do want to post something I wrote when I was neck high in the trying to conceive trenches. It's a list of reminders for both to myself and my fellow fertility challenged friends. They are:
  • You are brave and for that, you have my utmost respect.
  • Eat chocolate, ice cream, or have a margarita whenever you need one.
  • Never get a haircut or buy a chainsaw when on hormones. Trust me on this.
  • Don’t ever, not for one second, lose your sense of humor.
  • Don’t ever, not for one second, watch anything related to the Duggar family. It’ll just piss you off.
  • Never apologize or feel bad for day dreaming about punching someone in their face.
  • You’re not alone. There are countless out there like us.
  • Please remember to have sex occasionally just for fun no matter when it is in the cycle.
  • Watch RuPaul’s Drag Rage and The Golden Girls as often as possible.
  • Don’t let this define who you are as a person or a woman.
  • Never forget that we’re not failures. We’ve done nothing wrong and we’ve done nothing to deserve this.
Now here are my humble suggestions on potential strategies to cope with the day if its May 14th is something you’re not looking forward to this year:
Decide in advance how you want to handle (or not handle) the day:
If you’d prefer to boycott Mother’s Day, anyone who is close to you should understand. Send cards to your own mother, grandmother, etc. but discuss it with them ahead of time and let them know while it’s nothing personal, you would prefer to “skip this year” and mark the day in your own way. This can also be an opportunity to educate those around you on what you’re dealing with and how to best support you.

Have Your Own Unique Event:
Maybe it’s getting your fellow fertility challenged friends together or a new made up holiday just for you and your friends, if you feel comfortable with being social, there’s no reason you can’t have a “non-mother’s day” get together that same day.

Designate an “on call” person for support if needed:
Whether it’s your husband, wife, partner, friend, therapist or your ride or die chick, have someone ready to contact that day with either tissues, chocolate, a brilliant joke or all three.

Give yourself permission to put you first:
If Mother’s day is too much for you right now, that’s ok! You’re not a bad person by knowing your limits and taking care of yourself first. Again, friends and family will understand why you need extra support and space.

Handle with Humor:
Sometimes, laughter truly is the best medicine, or at the very least, a great distraction. Whether it’s a hilarious friend, your favorite comedic movie, or actually going to a stand-up comedy show, if there’s anything that amuses you and makes you smile, today might be a good day to indulge in it.

Get thee to a spa:
If you feel you need a little extra care or pampering, a massage, a pedicure or a facial. Some relaxing music, some you time and to be as far away from social media as possible could be downright heavenly.

Get support from the infertility community:
One in eight are dealing with infertility so you are very much not alone. Whether it’s a local infertility support group near you or an online one you’ve connected with, it will no doubt be a safe space to help each other, understand one another and share either what’s helping you or how you’re coping.

And as always, I'm sending everyone in the community my very best wishes no matter where you are in journey. Be good to yourself - we all deserve it.