Tell us about your journey to motherhood.
I’ve always wanted to be a mother. So when I got married in July 2009, my husband and I started “trying” immediately. I wanted a big family, and would daydream of three children with curly brown hair and big brown eyes piled up in our bed for Saturday morning pancakes and cartoons. September 2009, two months after we got married, I found myself at the OBGYN, asking her to speed up the process. I fibbed about having been trying for a year (there was no way they could tell right?), and so she put me on Clomid. I was on Clomid for 6 cycles over the course of a couple years and I never got pregnant. So when she suggested I see a Reproductive Endocrinologist, I was in denial I was “infertile”.
The RE found uterine polyps during a laparoscopy. He was certain that was my issue since I was “young and healthy”. During that time, we were in the process of moving out of state to Salt Lake City, Utah. It was now 2013, with a new RE and I was starting my first IUI. We did seven IUI cycles with no luck. I had joined Instagram, and had discovered the #TTC (trying to conceive) community. Women were opening up about Infertility and I was learning to advocate for myself. So when I went to my follow-up appointment with my doctor as to why that seventh IUI didn’t work, he refused to entertain questions I had about vitamin D levels and other vitamin deficiency questions I had that perhaps could be a possible factor in my inability to get pregnant. So I knew he wasn’t the doctor I wanted to pay to continue this journey to motherhood.
It took you 5.5 years to have your daughter. Looking back, what would you tell yourself at the beginning of this journey?
I would tell Marilyn that her worth and value is not based on whether she became a mother or not. When I think of Marilyn in the early years, I just want to hold her. So I would urge her to seek therapy WITH her husband as soon as the journey began. It would have saved years of resentment and solitude embarking on this journey. Every couple going through Infertility needs a licensed expert to talk to about it.
You talk a lot about normalizing having one child. Tell us about knowing when it was time to stop fertility treatments.
In October of 2019, I transferred my remaining two frozen embryos from 2014. I had been going to therapy and consciously working on my personal development so when the transfer didn’t work, I knew that it was time to stop, and I was tired of visiting the pain over and over again. I was ready to close the emotional and grueling chapter of trying to expand my family. I wanted to be normal again, and stay present and so I had to find ways to be okay with this new chapter.
How did you make this decision, and find peace with it?
You have to really know yourself to get there. I knew that if I kept trying, I wouldn’t have been fully present with my little girl or my husband, and I was afraid of missing out on the simple joys day to day, like I had when we were trying to conceive our one. It wasn’t a burden worth putting on my family, and I knew that it was me who had to work on repainting this dream into a new one. It is a lot of recalibrating, staying present, knowing your triggers, and practicing gratitude. Eckhart Tolle, an author, really helped me find peace while grieving. I found it possible to do both and let it go. It is a really powerful thing to experience.
It is also powerful when you realize that all along YOU hold the power to create your own story and to paint it each day.
Why is it important to advocate for families, and help normalize having one child?
To help families stay conscious and aware of their mental health during infertility/or after. That it is possible to fully embrace having one child and appreciating the complete and incredible miracle that they are for us. My goal is to generate conversation and to challenge the stigma that A) a single child will be spoiled B) lonely or C) not enough for the parent. My daughter will always have unlimited access to me and my undivided attention. She will never know loneliness because she isn’t alone. She won’t miss not having a sibling, because she’s never had one. Many of these sentiments come from the parent wishing their own child experienced what they did with their family dynamic and siblings. Sometimes we have to reparent ourselves so our children grow up becoming inherently who they are supposed to be, and having siblings doesn’t narrate that. I want people to know it is going to be okay if you have one child and I challenge them to poll 10 adults who are only children. They will ALL say they loved it. And THAT alone is comforting enough.
Sometimes we have to reparent ourselves so our children grow up becoming inherently who they are supposed to be, and having siblings doesn’t narrate that.
You also advocate for women of color, especially Latinas, who are facing infertility. Can you share more about the experiences Latina women face in infertility and pregnancy?
Latina’s are half as likely to seek reproductive assistance and it is deeply rooted in our culture. It is common to be met with “You have to pray more, or have more faith”, when someone in the Latinx community shares their difficulty getting pregnant. Also, Latinas all have that ONE relative who will suggest a cocktail of herbs, massages, ankle injections, holistic therapies, in place of seeking help from an RE. It is also very common in our culture to be met with toxic positivity, making it difficult for this generation of women to speak up for themselves. It is how we are conditioned. Respecting our families privacy is the golden rule. Even hinting at fertility struggles, is considered disrespectful to your spouse because it is about sex, and you do not invite relatives into your sex life. So being Infertile as a Latina, is extremely challenging. Especially when your doctors ask your race and deem you as fertile because you ARE Latina.
You started Infertile Tees, tell us about why you started this business and what gets you most excited.
I started Infertile Tees in August 2019, when I was searching Etsy for a transfer day t-shirt for myself. I did not like anything I saw. Nothing that reflected my personal style, so as a self taught graphics designer I designed my own and had a local print shop print it for me. Someone at the clinic commented on it, and that is what inspired me to start my shop. I set out to design t-shirts that were classic, versatile, and to tell a story about the Infertility journey. My goal is for people to feel seen and heard through statement tees, so they know they are not alone. The thing that gets me MOST excited is when someone tags me in a photo while wearing what I created. It is the most humbling feeling to be woven into women’s journeys through my t-shirts. I truly feel that I am there with them and It is an incredible honor to be.
You also have a podcast! Who is the favorite guest you have interviewed?
I started a podcast this year because I wanted to normalize meaningful conversations with women about real life stuff. I noticed our chit-chat was so unfulfilling to me, and I really wanted to get to the good life learning stuff. Hard to pick one favorite guest because they all have incredible experiences and key things to teach my listeners, but one that had me mostly quiet during the interview (which is hard because I am a talker), was Gabbi Norman, a nurse who was diagnosed with Steven-Johnsons syndrome after she was in a coma from a prescribed medication her doctor gave her. She talks about self-advocacy and what to ask your physicians.
You have a lot on your plate. How do you think about doing your best work while being a parent? Has that understanding shifted over time?
I do have a lot on my plate, but it is mostly because I put it there. It is a constant tug-of-war, with my business type A mindset, and giving myself grace because there is nothing more important than my family. I have my four year old next to me while I work and explain to her what I am doing and why. She helps me pull items, package, and ship. I hope she knows my love for advocacy, the Infertility community, and entrepreneurship. I have become really good at planning and using every minute of my time to its fullest capacity. I also give myself the weekend off of social media and work so I can be present at home. I have learned that I can wear many hats, but I should not wear them all at the same time.
What is your favorite Natalist product?
THE FIBER SUPPLEMENT. I wrote that in caps because it is so gentle. For someone like me who has suffered from irregularities and hemmys (what I call hemorrhoids) her entire life, this one is a game changer. I put it in my spinach/kale smoothies in the mornings.
Last question: what advice do you have for other women going through fertility treatments?
- Self-Advocacy, do your homework, know your body, ask a lot of questions.
- Community- lean into the infertility community for support, to cheer others on, and to ask questions.
- Healing-partner with a licensed mental health therapist, solo and with your spouse.