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.