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.


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.

In This Article

    These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

    Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

    While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

    I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

    I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

    My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

    The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

    Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

    Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

    1. Go apple picking.

    Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

    To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

    2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

    We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

    To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

    3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

    Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

    To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

    4. Have a touch-football game.

    Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

    To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

    5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

    Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

    To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

    This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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