In an Instagram post on Saturday morning, Amy Schumer was thanking her fans for IVF-success tips: “Thank you ladies and a few gentleman. We are gonna freeze embryos hopefully,” wrote Amy, adding details about her painful in vitro. “I learned to eat salty food after and drink Gatorade. Ice the area. Take arnica and put arnica on the bruises… ”
As I read through the first few of the 8,195 comments on her post, I couldn’t help but wonder whether the blitz of tips on Gatorade versus lemon water, and Bromelain supplements versus pineapple core would indeed ease Amy’s IVF experience. I also wondered how the level of public exposure at such a tender time—while she is still in the thick of this singularly taxing procedure —might affect treatment outcome.
After my own diagnosis of allegedly “irreversible secondary infertility,” (meaning I too, like Amy, already had one child) finding my way out of the chaos of expert and non-expert opinions was the first key step toward conceiving my second child. Though at the start of my journey I did exactly what Amy Schumer is doing: looked to anyone who’d care to weigh in for advice.
It wasn’t until everyone—the five fertility specialists, seven acupuncturists, my great aunt Sally, our upstairs neighbors and the UPS delivery guy—had given up on me, that I realized I had an opinion about the diagnosis.
It was entirely unprecedented to permit myself to doubt the opinion of top brass experts and just as unprecedented to pursue the thread of hope by taking action.
In the coming months I followed a gradually unfolding healing protocol of radical life-style changes and rigorous self-examination. None of these measures were based on Medline entries, yet each of them made perfect sense to me. I thought, even if I don’t conceive a child, I’ll conceive a healthier, stronger version of myself.
Eight months later I was pregnant and after an uneventful pregnancy gave birth to a brown eyed baby girl in direct contradiction to the medical dogma of the day. Forty elated weeks later, we became a family of four.
The presence of both of my daughters is for me a major miracle. And the pilgrimage sparked by my soaring hormones brought me me to a radical shift in a way I approach my life. After decades of abdicating to outside authorities, for once I dared to follow my own truth. Truth that made no sense to anyone else but me.
Whether it’s infertility or any other life challenge, seeking the counsel of people with relevant training —learning from the stories of others who were up against similar odds —can be eminently useful. But at some point, it’s also essential for us to claim a safe, quiet space for dropping into the wisdom of our own bodies and hearts.
I wish Amy Schumer and the many powerful women in the limelight a space for privacy when they need it and the courage to tell their true stories when they’re ready to share them with the rest of us.