On what not to say to someone doing IVF…
Dejha: The biggest thing for me not to say is ‘Relax, it will just happen.’ I’ve been relaxing for over six years, OK? Or here’s another one: ‘Some people have to make the choice of choosing to live childfree.’ It’s like they’re saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to dismiss you wanting to have a biological child.’ Or they expect you just to adopt and I tell people, ‘First of all, adoption costs more than IVF!’
Dejha: People don’t realize that, they think it’s free or something! Or when people say, ‘Have you tried this diet? Or have you tried this pill?’ I’m like, ‘Um, yeah!’
Roohi: Infertility is like a loss of something that’s so innate to you because as a little girl, you think, I’m going to grow up, I’m going to get married and I’m going to have a baby. And not being able to fulfill that is like a loss. And it’s this loss that you can’t control. So, imagine it as this loss and then think how you would respond to that. Because believe me, like Dejha said, if there was a solution then we would have done it by now.
…And what to say or do instead
Dejha: Just being there and listening, and eventually asking questions. And not just questions because you’re nosy but asking questions because you actually want to be helpful. Honestly, just listening and having that awkward silence. It’s OK. Sometimes it’s better to say nothing at all and just be there because you know, people don’t forget what you say. I always use the toothpaste analogy—you can’t squirt out toothpaste and then put it back in, right? When you say something, you can’t put it back in. So be very careful with your words.
Roohi: Yeah, I think it’s important to know that sometimes silence is OK. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s OK. It is an uncomfortable topic. I used to get really annoyed, and it took me a long time to be like, OK, it’s coming from a good place but it’s hurtful. And when you’re on these hormones or when you’re in treatment and cycle, you’re super sensitive! And so, I always say if you don’t know what to say then it’s OK not to say anything. Or get something like a small pair of socks and say, ‘I know it's a rough time, here some socks to keep you cozy.’ Just a simple, ‘I’m sorry and I’m here.’
Dejha: Exactly, I totally agree. I believe in living in that awkward silence sometimes.
On the biggest misconceptions about IVF
Dejha: I thought it was something that just wealthy, middle-class white women did. But if you look at the statistics, that’s not the case. That’s what really drove me to become an advocate. I found out that Black women are twice as likely to have to go through this, but we’re least likely to actually seek treatment.
Roohi: One of the biggest fears of people not seeking help, especially people of color, is because they’re ashamed. A lot of people think that if they see a fertility doctor and they have to do IVF then everyone will know because they’ll have twins. Especially with Brown people, that’s a big thing! First of all, IVF does not give you twins and second, you don't have to tell anybody. I didn't tell anybody. And the reason I'm kind of like Dejha, why I now speak about this, is because I felt like a lot of people didn’t seek help because they were ashamed. And by not talking about my journey and how hard it is, it’s perpetuating that cycle.
Dejha: And then knowing that IVF isn’t your only option. A lot of people think they have to go to a reproductive endocrinologist and do IVF but that’s not always the case. And that it’s cheap too...you can just do it right? No.
Roohi: Yeah, I think for me the biggest misconception is how much people think it will take away or you can’t do it because it will take too much time. Those are the excuses I made for myself too. But it goes by very fast. It’s like 10 to 12 days of stimulation, which is injections.