After years of unprotected sex, failed timed cycles, inseminations and several IVF's, I am now the mom of two boys and an outspoken infertility advocate. Whether you're trying to get pregnant, currently pregnant or a new mom, please laugh along with me while we deal with the business of getting knocked up despite the universe's efforts to knock us down!
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!
Every National Infertility Awareness Week, I typically end up writing two posts. One, at the “start” of the week of my initial thoughts and feelings and then one, near the “end” of the week of anything I learned or have been inspired by during the course of the week. This year, I must say, I learned more than usual.
As it turns out, I learned that “Flip the Script” is historically tied to Adoption. Two of my Twitter friends (@emoglasscase and @apluseffort) pointed this out and I genuinely hadn’t a clue. Here’s one post on Adoption and Flip The Script theme from 2014 from a blog called, “Light of Day Stories”, here’s a blog post from my Twitter friend from 2016 called, “Flip The Script” on adoption, and this is a fascinating video also made in 2014 where adoptees talk about what the adoption experience and narrative as well as what the phrase "flip the script" means to them.
One of the reasons I’m sharing all of this is “Flip the Script” is being highlighted this week for infertility and adoption is often part of the infertility journey for many AND if “Flip the Script” has traditionally been part of the adoption narrative, it feels only right to combine the two and give a major shout out to it.
In the interest of being fair, many in the adoption community commented that Resolve having NIAW’s theme this year be “flip the script” this year was tone deaf and marginalized the adoption community. Other than being on the Resolve Advocacy Day Committee, I don’t work for Resolve but I have to be honest – I truly in my heart of hearts, don’t think this was intentional. From what I understand, several of the Resolve staff have even themselves have built their family through adoption so I can’t imagine they would ever set out to make anyone feel excluded. Obviously, I can’t speak for them (more on Resolve later in this post), nor would I imagine they would want me to but I can only say that I am personally am grateful to those who pointed this out. I read a Barbara Bush quote last week that put it best, “You get nothing done if you don’t listen to each other.”
#HaveAHeart from IntegraMed
On that note, and unbelievably, during this exact week: Two other noteworthy things happened. A good friend of mine after several IVF plus PGS testing texted me that her embryos were genetically abnormal. Of all weeks, she happened to share with me THIS week that they are going to stop treatment. Two days later, another friend of mine who froze her eggs several years ago after being given a DOR diagnosis emailed that she if officially thawing those eggs to fertilize them to have a child on her own as a single mother. Two totally different outcomes/resolutions… all during National Infertility Awareness Week.
The point is, this is all the ‘A’ in NIAW: Awareness. We can’t raise awareness around infertility if we don’t try to respect and understand that part of that experience is also talking about surrogacy, donor eggs, donor sperm, donor embryos, adoption (domestic, international, and foster), male factor infertility, childless not by choice and more. It's VITAL to remember infertility doesn't have one clear path or just one outcome and we need to not only keep the conversation going but we also need to keep listening.
Adding my humor to PCOS Challenge
As mentioned earlier, I want to quickly say a few words about Resolve. Like any group or person that puts themselves out there in the public eye, people will have varying opinions, judgments, or criticism of them. This, of course, is to be expected and is completely fair. Lord knows people have had plenty towards me over the years and whenever it's occurred, I try and listen first to see if there's truth in it, if I agree and how to handle (not that I do this perfectly every time but this is the goal).
Resolve is one of the few (and probably one of the largest) not-for-profit groups however, that works 24/7, 365 days a year on infertility and fertility related issues. On their website, they cover every topic mentioned above and again, from what I understand, their staff is made up of almost every outcome there is (childfree, adoption, IVF, etc.) So, what I want to say is though I’m certain they don’t do everything perfectly and while they aren’t above criticism, I do want to thank them for their hard work and continued efforts.
As we close out NIAW, I ask (read: beg) you to revisit my post from earlier this week and consider either joining me and others at Advocacy Day or, at the very least, writing your lawmaker, representative, senator or HR department about fertility benefits. One of the MANY things I was reminded of for the umpteenth time this week was not everyone has access to fertility benefits or coverage. Treatment shouldn't just be for those who work for big companies or who have deep pockets. It should be for everyone who needs it.
I’d like to close out today’s post and NIAW 2018 with some of the posts I wrote for other places as well and thank YOU for reading:
This is not going to be your ordinary National Infertility Awareness Week post. This is an official, raw, blunt call to action. I’m serious. I’ve had it. I’m officially getting fed up and I plan on putting the “war” in “Social Warrior”.
Let’s start with the beginning of this month, shall we? April 1st. Despite numerous warnings all over social media begging people NOT to post fake pregnancy announcements and memes stating that infertility affects one in eight, and how pregnancy loss impacts one in four, people still posted them including Bachelor Arie Luyendyk Jr. who pulled an April Fools' Day pregnancy prank. In addition, journalist, Marissa Miller, wrote an all-out distasteful piece for Elite Daily (she removed her name from it when she received backlash from the infertility community) about how she fooled her husband by saying she was pregnant when she wasn’t. In both cases, infertility was a punch line. For many like myself, it’s a reality. While we absolutely have a sense of humor about it at times, making our medical condition the butt of a joke isn’t particularly funny.
Research has shown that the stress levels of women with infertility are equivalent to women with cancer, AIDS or heart disease, so there is no question about infertility resulting in enormous stress, yet when there is push back on these jokes or pranks, we’re told we’re being “too sensitive”. Would someone who has cancer be told the same?
On that note, you know who is also not taking us seriously? Our lawmakers, representatives, government, insurance companies and employers. The World Health Organizations recognizes infertility as a medical diagnosis and yet in America, only FIFTEEN states offer insurance coverage for infertility treatment.
There are companies who are, simply put, capitalizing on the fact that infertility is not covered. They
are making money off of the fact that our medical issue is considered “elective”. Fertility treatment is roughly a 7-billion-dollar industry and entrepreneurs have taken notice of this. Companies are seeing there is money to be had and that desperate people are willing to pay anything for just a chance, not even a guarantee, but a chance to maybe have a child.
TO BE CLEAR: I’m not saying all of these companies are evil or ill-intentioned. Some of them are trying to fill a gap, some of the founders have even gone through treatment themselves and some of them even contribute to helping advocate on behalf of the infertility community. But let’s be real too: Some of them don’t give a damn.
I’m on the board of the Advocacy Day planning committee this year and on one of the early calls, I was saying to the group that to me, “Flipping the script” means that on May 23rd, it’s the one day WE GET TO SPEAK FOR OURSELVES. Us. Not the people who think fake pregnancy announcements are funny. Not the companies. Not the lawmakers. Not the 7 of the “1 in 8” but US. The 1’s (if you will). Flipping the script is owning the conversation so we represent ourselves and get the message we need to get out that really, infertility is a medical issue and NOT a personal failure. We need medical care or access to family building options.
And in the sprit of “flip the script”, owning the conversation, and how I started this blog post of being fed up – I need to share with you that I can’t believe I’m going to advocacy day again this year to be like, “Hi. Me again. Asking for the same thing I’ve been asking for the past five years. Please take infertility seriously. I have friends who are about to do their thirteenth IUI that isn’t going to work because they can’t afford IVF. They work for a company who only has 200 employees, so any company that offers fertility benefits won’t work with them and they are in a state that isn’t mandated, soooo really, could you possibly help????”
I know it’s hard to come out of the closet and speak for yourself. Many who deal with infertility stay silent due to feelings of failure, embarrassment or shame. I know this because that is exactly how I was. I was absolutely terrified people would know I couldn’t conceive on my own. Yet, as long as we stay silent, as long as we don’t advocate on our own behalf to lawmakers, our HR department or even to our friends and family to educate them on the fact that infertility is an actual medical issue, it will be “the 7” not impacted by infertility that will control the conversation.
There is no shame in having diminished ovarian reserve, a sperm quality issue, a genetic disorder, blocked fallopian tubes or recurrent pregnancy loss. Any medical reproductive issue does not define your womanhood or manhood just like being diagnosed with diabetes or epilepsy doesn’t define who you are as a person.
As I said, this is a call to action. If you can’t “come out of the infertility closet” or even if you can but can’t make it to advocacy day, PLEASE write letters to your lawmaker, state representative and/or your Human Resources department. As melodramatic as this sounds, YOU ARE A HUMAN BEING WITH A MEDICAL ISSUE. If we don’t start believing that, owning that, explaining and educating others on that, we’re never going to change others thinking. We just can’t continue to let “the 7” do the talking. Please, “flip the script” with me. Let’s make THIS the year we see real change.
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