Friday, April 18, 2014

My experience at Fertility Planit LA

Next week is National Infertility Awareness Week, and this year's theme is "Resolve to know more" so I want to kick it off with a summary of my experience at the Fertility Planit conference.

Earlier this month April 4 & 5th, I attended the Fertility Planit event in Los Angeles. I have been in limbo lately so it was good timing. I went solo - I just wanted to be by myself, but not alone since everyone there was experiencing or supporting people creating their own families even if battling infertility or other challenges where the conventional way has eluded them.

There were many sessions over the 2 days (See Full Schedule), and here are a few tidbits from my personal experience and what is relevant to my situation, but I was really just trying to listen and take it all in...

Videos of Live-streamed Sessions Now Available: You can currently watch many of the live-streamed sessions from Saturday, April 5th, in the Venice room, here: More sessions will be posted by April 23 - I encourage you to sign up for email updates to receive access to more content.

Friday 4/5:
I had a bit of a late start - I was driving from San Diego to Los Angeles, so I wanted to wait until after 9am to leave to miss a little traffic. I ended up leaving at 10:45... I was just enjoying my day off work, packing for the weekend, and straightening the house a bit so Andy could enjoy his time off (from me). Then, I was off on my solo road trip! The traffic wasn't so bad, and I had the music on, and many thoughts running through my head about life. I stopped on the way for gas and something to eat, and got to the conference around 2:30 so I attended two of the afternoon sessions.

Session: Elisabeth Rohm & Baby Steps: Infertility and the Journey to Parenthood

To start, moderator Monica Corcoran Harel used my favorite word to describe trying to have a child and Infertility: DAUNTING. She was interviewing actress Elisabeth Rohm (American Hustle), who said, "Being diagnosed with Infertility made me feel as if I was the most unlucky woman in the world." I couldn't agree more.  

She mentioned that we need to create a greater consciousness and awareness - years ago people didn't talk about self breast exams to prevent breast cancer and now that is thankfully mainstream. Infertility awareness, and questions that young women can ask their doctors to get information early on is important to help them make decisions about their future family building.

I don't like to sound scary or lecturing when talking to younger friends about how time is running out, but we can arm them with information - information that I didn't have or chose to ignore. At the end of the session, Elisabeth was joined by her own doctor, Dr. Vicken Sahakian from Pacific Fertility Center Los Angeles. As Dr. S put it, no matter how beautiful and healthy you are, how much yoga you do, how much botox you do, your ovaries don't care - they are on the same timeline they have been on since the beginning of time and since you were born.

Elisabeth Rohm has a new book coming out April 30th, Baby Steps: Having the Child I Always Wanted (Just Not as I Expected).

Session: A Practical Guide to Egg Donation
This one was compelling for me since it was about using an egg donor, which is a likely next step for us. It is not talked about as much as sperm donors in mainstream, and more expensive, but a similar situation. My eggs are not of good quality and we have little to no chance of getting pregnant with my eggs, but I am still a good candidate to carry a baby and would still love to have the experience of a successful pregnancy.

Dr. Sahakian walked through the scientific facts of female reproduction, requirements to be a good candidate and keys to success for egg donation (which I met all of them). Model and actress Tomiko Frasier Hines talked about her experience going through Infertility, treatments, and having her twin boys via anonymous egg donor IVF. She was gorgeous, sweet, and gave a (secret!) teaser on a children's book she is creating about it.

After Day 1, I went to dinner with my dear friend and stayed the night at her house. I had an amazing conversation with her both that night and a fun breakfast the next morning before heading back to UCLA. In some ways this was even more therapeutic than the conference! She and my husband, Andy have been friends for 35 years - since they were 5 years old and she and I for almost 19 years now! More reinforcement that family is not about DNA. ;)

Saturday 4/6:

Session: Practical Solutions for Challenging Fertility Situations
I will be on the lookout for Paige Andree Johnston's documentary on her journey, which after 9 years resulted in a son by using an egg donor. This one was very emotional for me, as I could directly relate to so many things that Paige has gone through, and she validated a lot of my current feelings as I accept my situation and try to embrace the next phase.

Session: Understanding Open Adoption:
I attended a session about Open adoption that was sponsored and moderated by Independent Adoption Center, which is also a great information resource. "In open adoption birth and adoptive parents meet one another, share full identifying information, and have direct access to ongoing contact over the years."

Guidelines are set with an open adoption agreement and the terms of the relationship are negotiated between birth mom & parents. The panel was so courageous - a young woman who placed her baby for adoption about a year ago, an adult adoptee, and Bill Horn & Scout Masterson - adoptive parents also known as The Guncles from Tori & Dean. It was inspiring to hear all of their stories. Tip: The Guncles also have an adoption mentoring service called Hold My Hand to help guide others through the process.

Session: From Infertility to Adoption: the Journey to Becoming Parents
To close it out, I went to see Cindy Chupack and her husband Ian Wallach, and moderator Tom Teicholz - all three adoptive parents through Vista Del Mar adoption program. They were able to make a serious and most of the time depressing subject lighthearted and endearing.

I am already half way through Cindy's new book, a comic memoir about marriage (including the journey to parenthood) The Longest Date: Life as a Wife. Cindy is an Emmy-winning TV writer/producer whose credits include Modern Family, Sex and the City, and Everybody Loves Raymond. I hope her book becomes a TV show - we need an honest one about Infertility!

I collected so much information at the exhibitor booths, and  also visited the Pamper Lounge where I got a much needed mini-manicure with Ella + Mila nail polish. It's a new line of mommy & me polish (vegan and 5-free) and they have such cute colors.

I look forward to attending next year, and who knows where my journey will take me between now and then but it helps to have the support and the increasing awareness. Battling Infertility is very overwhelming and often lonely, so having so many resources of information along with shared feelings and experiences is so valuable. Keep up the good work, Fertility Planit!


  1. I maintain a blog ( for parents who conceived via IVF, donor egg, donor sperm, donor embryo, or surrogacy, of children's books that they may want to use with their children to explain to them how they were conceived. I read in your post with great interest that Tomiko Frasier Hines is writing a children's book on her experience. I was wondering if you had any additional information about her book. My email is Thanks and best wishes to you in your journey to parenthood.

  2. Thank you for sharing! You're in our thoughts and prayers. xoxo