Menu

5 Things I Wish I'd Known About Infertility

HAVEABABY's filmmaker reveals her personal struggle with infertility.

5 Things I Wish I'd Known About Infertility

I didn’t know anything about infertility until soon after I was married, when my husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer and we were thrust into a world we knew nothing about. Thankfully, his cancer is in remission, but we still struggle with our infertility on a daily basis. In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, and the many couples who shared their stories in my new documentary film HAVEABABY, I wanted to share some of the things I have learned in my journey both as a filmmaker and a woman faced with this diagnosis.

Whether you are one of the “1 in 8” that has the misfortune of experiencing infertility yourself (my condolences!) or find yourself in the unenviable position of trying to console a friend or family member who is faced with it, these 5 things might help you avoid some heartache on either side.

FEATURED VIDEO

1. I truly thought as long as I started “trying” before I was 40, I could get in under the wire. Many women DO have success trying to conceive even beyond 40 – and in San Francisco, I was surrounded by them! – but medically speaking, that's the exception, not the rule. It’s not like a 4-star restaurant that stops serving at 10pm, where you can order at 9:59pm and still expect stellar cuisine; the later it gets in your kitchen, the fewer ingredients your body has to make the dish. If you are 39 and single or still struggling in your career and want to punch me in the face, I feel you – but I just want us all to make informed choices rather than making a choice without realizing it.

2. Male-factor infertility is equally as likely as female-factor infertility. I can’t tell you how much time and money I wasted testing myself before we turned our focus on my husband. Some couples find a sperm analysis embarrassing or a “big step,” but it’s actually far easier and less invasive than all the tests I went through, and one painless ejaculation later, we knew we had a male problem.

3. If you or someone you know has a medical diagnosis that lends itself to IVF, it’s very important to understand that IVF is really a course of treatment and not a one-stop procedure. On average, a single cycle of IVF has a 30% success rate, so it’s no surprise than many patients have to try three times before having a live birth. It’s also important to understand that even if you have genetically tested embryos, that is no guarantee of a successful pregnancy. For all of these reasons, freezing your eggs may be a worthwhile option to consider, but it is not a foolproof way to retain your fertility, especially if you wait until under the wire to start road-testing them. (See item #1.)

4. You never really know how you or your partner are going to feel until the shit gets real. Before we had a diagnosis, I thought “We wouldn’t go as far as IVF, whatever happens, happens…” and I have friends who said to me, “if I hadn’t gotten pregnant on my first IVF, I wouldn’t have put myself through that again.” But one thing I’ve learned is, I just had to take it one step at a time, and balance an open mind with a critical eye for my wallet, my relationship and my physical and mental health. It’s hard to know what the “right” choice is at any crossroads, but one thing’s for sure, yourself 6 months ago (or even one month ago) may have no idea what your today self needs to pursue or needs to let go.

5. As I navigated the world of infertility, I found it best to find someone other than my doctor or my friends to advise me. Honestly, this is partially a mental health issue, so if you buy into therapy, this is a great time to partake. (I also found meditation very helpful, but that’s a whole other article). Friends often have well-meaning advice that can be unintentionally dismissive or misinformed. The internet is full of support groups, but also full of judgmental trolls that can say terrible things. I am a BIG fan of speaking out when you are ready, but you have to have a thick skin and I’d suggest you tell your friends in advance: “you don’t need to try to fix this, all I want is someone to listen.” If you’re that friend, thwart your instincts to offer solutions and advice. Lend an open ear and pass along these 5 things, or even better, share the website for Resolve: The National Infertility Association, which has great resources for people in this pickle, whether they opt for medical treatment, adoption, or decide to be childless. No matter what we choose, it’s a tough road, and the more informed and aware we all are about this issue, the less painful that road will be.

Written by Amanda Micheli. Amanda is an Oscar-nominated filmmaker dedicated to raising awareness about infertility. HAVEABABY just premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and has screenings this week in Boston and San Francisco. You can see the trailer and buy tickets to screenings here.

By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.

$159.99

Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!

$29.99

Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.

$29.99

Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌

$9.99

Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.

$14.99

Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.

$24.99

Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.

$8.99

Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.

$7.99


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.



Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

Keep reading Show less
News