My Reaction – Episode 1 of Pregnant In Heels
So the old cat is out of the bag (nasty phrase by the way, but after being dragged back through the fertility rollercoaster I can’t think of another): now that Pregnant in Heels has premiered on Bravo, it is now known that I am not in fact a fertile Myrtle, despite having a career built on all things conception and baby-related!
As you all know reality TV is pretty invasive (shocker, not sure why I am telling you this, but it is late and I seem to be qualifying everything with parentheses…my high-school English teacher is stirring in her sleep) and viewers expect to get a glimpse, or perhaps less of a glimpse and more of a gigantic glance, at one’s personal life.
I decided that the part of my personal life I was willing to put on TV was perhaps as intimate as one can get – the story of my fertility or, I should say, lack thereof! I am sure I am going to take some heat (again with the silly sayings) for this but let me explain my decision: I think fertility issues are an incredibly tough thing to talk about, especially when you’re in the thick of it, yet so many people experience it at some level or know people that have. Whether it’s having a harder time getting pregnant than you had imagined, suffering one or more miscarriages, experiencing complications during pregnancy, carrying a high-risk pregnancy or dealing with full blown infertility (and I have experienced all of the above, as if my career choice prompted fate to play some sick joke on my lady tubes), the road to parenthood can be riddled with complications. I felt as though not telling this portion of my story would be withholding a huge part of who I am and why I love what I do. I hope my candor about my journey to parenthood will help people in some way with their own journeys.
Regardless of this decision, watching myself go through the injections on the first episode of Pregnant in Heels was not easy – I was of course surrounded by gazillions of people at our premiere and turned a beet red (not sure who was more uncomfortable, them or me?!). I thought I’d just breeze right through the scenes considering I am now so lucky to have two beautiful healthy sons and I know this story has a happy ending, but somehow I got so stuck in the moment again.
Watching those scenes took me right back to the despair and complete lack of control I felt for many of the weeks during filming. IVF is not something you dabble in for a few injections everyday; it is something that consumed my entire life. Every morning I’d wake up and go to the clinic to have my blood tested and eggs watched to see if they were near maturity and ready to be fertilized. Every day I would undergo numerous injections. And every night I would wonder how much closer we were to having another little one. When this process that normally happens so unbeknownst to us is studied with such intricate detail it is hard to stop obsessing about it.
Each day is filled with so many unnecessary triumphs and failures all pegged to a few words I might hear in the morning from the doctor that happened to be on the early shift. Sometimes I’d get a doc with a brilliant bedside manner who’d report “Oh yes, lovely, these eggs are looking great, good job, see you tomorrow,” as if I actually had something to do with their wondrous progress that day. And off I’d skip as if my eggs had just won some award and things were looking up that day.
Other days I’d get “Oh, not growing as fast we’d hope. See you tomorrow.” This would send me into a spiral of despair and out I’d go, dragging my feet, convinced all of my eggs had given up and decided to pack up shop, shrivel up and retire on the Costa del Sol with the other aging Brits.
I don’t think these doctors realized that statements were the key to my entire day and of course I was too much of a masochist to actually ask them to explain their comments so as not to make or break my entire day. Alas, this pretty much sums up each of the approximately 14 days during my cycle that I was required to go to these morning torture sessions.
Even better were the days that they’d call my name and someone would recognize it. Favorite comment from the darling sitting next to me: “Oh, that must be like being a chef but not being able to eat your own food.” Yep, just because we were all in the clinic together didn’t necessarily mean we were all hugging each other and signing Kumbaya.
So for me the IVF process continued like this with daily monitoring, each day leading hopefully closer to the day they actually take the eggs out and fertilize them to be transferred back as embryos. Looking back there were only a few weeks every cycle of injections, but at the time it felt like eternity.
Let me just take a moment here before signing off. I realize that, as usual, I am hiding behind humor to avoid really discussing the agony of this experience. In a perfect world nobody should be denied the ability to have a child and to experience the unparalleled joy that being a parent brings. Yet infertility slapped me in the face and left me sitting for so many hours in our bathroom crying on the edge of the toilet seat or in the shower hoping the sound of the water would muffle my sobbing.
It is amazing to me even now that I pretend I could handle the whole thing with a few laughs and some jokes, but really I think I am still scared by the experience both literally and figuratively. Every time I look down at my belly the scars of infertility literally stare back up at me as I look at the ones I received as a result of an emergency pregnancy-related operation. But nothing runs as deep as the moments I shared with my husband following a negative pregnancy test result.
I am brought back to reality when I stare at my sons but to think I came so close to not having them, to think of all the other stories people have shared with me, I am humbled by the women and men, the warriors that they are in their determination and strength on the road to parenthood and in parenthood. I am 31 but in the face of this I am older than I ever imagined I would be. And so the journey continues.