For decades, patients have come to fertility clinics for help growing their families, whether it be their first child or their next child. The terms "primary infertility" and "secondary infertility" are often thrown around in the fertility world, but what do those with primary and secondary infertility have in common and where do the similarities end?
As I sit here assembling my daughter’s scrapbook with Mother’s Day in the air, the onslaught of picture-driven memories reminds me what a wild year it has been. My daughter, Emily, we’ll call her, is just one year old now, and I think back to last Mother’s Day when I held my teeny, tiny newborn for the first time. A true gift after miscarriage, fertility struggles, and ultimately, IVF. Let’s be clear, here - I am NOT a scrapbooker. This is hard work for me, and I don’t really enjoy the act of it. Do I enjoy seeing the progression of my daughter’s first year of life, from squishy newborn to stumbling almost-toddler? Sure! But I don’t enjoy the stickers and the exclamation points and the glue…in fact, I’ve decided to go the old school route of scrapbooking. I bought the same style of scrapbook that my mother used for all of our scrapbooks. She had four of us, and she managed to create multiple volumes for each child. My mother was the original anti-scrapbooker who mastered scrapbooking. With four kids and a full-time job, she didn’t have time for 3D stickers and fru-frus. She swore by the good ol’ cellophane peel-back style photo books where you slap down a photo and voila, it sticks. You can write a caption...or not. You can add some flare…or not. You can smooth out the wrinkles in the cellophane…or not. She figured it out, so the pressure is on. I only have one child right now, after all.
The RMA offices have been feeling a bit lonely without the constant greetings of our patients coming and going every day. Due to COVID protocols, more and more appointments are being held over Zoom in order to keep everyone safe, so we thought that for those of you who don't get to frequent our hallways as much anymore, we would bring the office to you! Karen Jeffries, aka Hilariously Infertile (@hilariouslyinfertile), is an infertility advocate and social influencer. She joined us at the beginning of 2020 (hence the lack of masks) for a behind the scenes look at our fertility practice. She takes the viewer everywhere - from the waiting room to exam room and even the "production room," all while dropping hilarious truths about the fertility process. As the tour progresses, Karen reflects on her abilities (and inabilities) to administer some of the necessary tasks of treatment. Join her and her laugh-out-loud one-liners on a grand tour of a fertility clinic!
Historically, the Black community has been underserved in the fertility world, even though married Black women deal with infertility at a rate two times that of white women and their partners.
For most of us, this year (2020) has been dominated by a running list of things that “just don’t feel like they used to.” From daily changes like wearing a mask in public, to bigger moments like forgoing large family gatherings and not blowing out birthday candles, it seems like many of our memories this year are shadows of their former selves. To add to the upside down nature of our lives right now, infertility can be an overwhelming journey in its own right.
For some, infertility is a brief, albeit powerful interlude on the way to becoming a parent. Once pregnant, it’s like glancing at something stationary in the rear-view mirror - it quickly fades and then disappears. For many others though, the time spent in fertility treatment cycles, the ups and downs of testing, results, disappointments, and ultimately the success of having a baby forever alters how they experience themselves in the world. They see themselves differently because they are different. They are permanently changed. There are the littler things, like they don’t sweat the small stuff as much. They often feel less frustrated by sleepless nights, colicky babies, or interruptions due to an infant. (However, they don’t turn into saints, by any stretch of the imagination! Sleep deprivation and postpartum depression are real concerns and having infertility doesn’t protect you against them, so please, no guilt for being exhausted and cranky about being a parent after infertility.) But there’s also the bigger stuff. Without any comparison to parents who achieve their baby goals easily, parents after infertility do often feel a deeper sense of appreciation than they themselves would have felt, had they not had the experience of infertility. The only comparison being noted here is how those with infertility might themselves have been if infertility hadn’t entered their lives to delay parenthood.