Hedi Rappard on How Empowering Menstruaters Gave Her The Courage to Pursue IVF
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a wife, attorney, mama-to-be, and newly founded entrepreneur. Founder of JUNE Co., an e-commerce company founded to provide menstruators with access to simple, safe, and sustainable menstrual care.
What was happening in your life when you decided to try to start a family?
My husband and I have been married for five years and TTC for almost three of them. It’s something we both always wanted from our lives, and we reached a point in our relationship where we were both ready for the exciting journey and responsibilities of parenthood.
Tell us about your journey to pregnancy.
We started TTC about three years ago. We were both excited and had heard it could take time, so we reminded ourselves to be patient. But after a year without a sign of a baby, I grew anxious. With every negative pregnancy test, pregnancy became all I could think about. So at about the two year mark, my husband and I put a game plan together to take back control of our journey. We sought medical advice and subjected ourselves to a slew of fertility tests. We were ultimately diagnosed with unexplained infertility. We both agreed we wanted to continue to be proactive so we sought fertility treatments which started with a failed IUI cycle and then a successful IVF cycle that got us where we are now—eight months pregnant with our miracle baby!
How long did it take you to get pregnant? What did you do to increase your chances of pregnancy?
In total, I would say it took us almost three years to get where we are now. Our baby is here (in a sense), and we like to acknowledge that. She will be earth side in a few short months, and we can’t wait.
Through this journey I did so many things to try to increase our chances of pregnancy. We used ovulation predictor kits, at home insemination kits, we did a cycle of IUI (which was unsuccessful), and the emotional toll was just too much, so we decided IVF was the best way for us to go. We had a successful egg retrieval and a successful frozen embryo transfer.
Tell us how you found out you were pregnant. Did you wait for a blood test at your clinic or do an at-home test? We'd love details!
Honestly after almost three years of negative pregnancy tests month after month and a failed IUI cycle, I couldn’t bear to take another home pregnancy test. So when we were waiting for our IVF results, my husband and I agreed we’d wait for the pregnancy test that our doctor would administer (both urine and blood).
I actually found out in the doctor’s office and totally burst into tears when the nurse pulled me into the back office and told me I was pregnant. I don’t think she was expecting me to be as hysterical as I was, but it was honestly just such a relief to hear those words because you’ve been met with so much disappointment for so long.
We received our blood test results the same afternoon, and they confirmed my HCG levels were rising.
How do you care for your body while pregnant?
I have been particularly focused on self care, exercise, and nutrition during this pregnancy. Mainly because it took us so long to get here and I want to give this baby the best chance of making it earth side. I’ve focused on working out (moderate cardio), walking, stretching, yoga, and nutrition, nutrition, nutrition. This is probably the hardest part for me because I love a good burger or slice of pizza. But after my first trimester nausea subsided, I committed to really focusing on making sure the baby and I are getting healthy meals throughout the day.
Also, do not underestimate the power of a good night's rest. This was something I struggled with in my first trimester because I honestly could sleep all day and through anything. I felt like a zombie. But now that I have my energy back, it’s just important to recognize when your body is telling you to slow down and relax.
What has been your favorite part of pregnancy? Least favorite part?
Favorite part: Watching my body actually grow a tiny human has been pretty amazing. Especially when you realize like, “Hey, my body is doing great! Thanks body for being amazing and growing this little person inside me.”
Least favorite part: Covid, haha. I say this because I am very fortunate to have had such a smooth health pregnancy so far, and I am keeping my fingers crossed it stays that way. But it has been tough being stuck at home. Mamas need their support, physical and emotional, and it's been hard not to see friends and family who are equally excited about the arrival of this little baby.
What stigma(s) in women’s health do you wish to lift the veil on?
I think there is so much stigma associated with menstrual and reproductive health. That’s actually one of the reasons I founded JUNE. Not only to provide menstruators with access to a safer alternative to traditional menstrual care products, but also to really shed light on important conversations we should have about menstrual and reproductive health. They go hand in hand, and for too long society has made it taboo for women and menstruators to talk freely and openly without judgement about issues they may face.
I honestly think the more people talk about these topics, the better our lives will become overall. We will be more in tune with our bodies, share more information with each other, and the same goes with fertility. I honestly didn’t have anyone to talk to during my journey that I knew on a personal level, but when we announced our pregnancy, and that we had a unique journey, I was amazed at how many women reached out to tell me that they had struggled or are struggling with the same issues.
Is there a larger vision that keeps you going, even when your motivation is down?
Honestly, my vision for the future is to always help people, in some way, shape, or form. I feel like I’ve found that, and truth be told, I am very motivated by the fact that we are going to be having a little girl. If even a shred of what I am doing is going to make a difference in her life and her journey as a young girl and women, to give her confidence and empower her, then it was all worth it!
What is JUNE, and how did your journey lead you to founding this company?
JUNE is an e-commerce company that I founded with the help of my brilliant husband. We provide menstruators with access to simple, safe, and sustainable menstrual care. For far too long, menstruators have felt they only have two options: tampons and pads. Truth be told, even the organic tampons have synthetic fibers that are absorbed through your body and get into your bloodstream. So we offer a medical grade silicone menstrual cup that collects, instead of absorbs, your flow. Plus, you can wear it for up to 12 hours, so it gives you this amazing freedom you don’t get from other products.
With that said, JUNE is more than just a company; it’s a really beautiful vibrant community that we’ve built. Our customers and members of our community, “The Official June Community,” on Facebook are breaking down barriers every day and destigmatizing periods, menstrual, and reproductive health, and I am so proud of that!
By the way, it’s important to note that periods and menstruation are not just something that affects cis gender women, and we want to acknowledge and empower that. At JUNE, we believe in inclusivity. Representation matters, so regardless of your gender, whether your cis, trans, or gender non binary or non confirming, if you menstruate, we provide a product for you!
What advice do you have for other aspiring mamas?
Honestly, I would tell other aspiring mamas to stay strong and not give up on this dream to be a mama! Regardless of your journey, you will get there one way or another, whether you plan to pursue fertility treatments like IUI, IVF, or look into surrogacy or adoption. Don’t let anyone or society tell you that you can’t get there, and really try to create a tribe of trustworthy friends and family members. It doesn’t have to be huge, but sometimes it helps to just have a few key people to talk to. If you don't feel comfortable with that, join a bigger tribe! There’s so many awesome communities online and on social media that can offer support for aspiring mamas-to-be!