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!

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.

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,

Jay