Decades have passed since Louise Joy Brown was the first baby born through in vitro fertilization (IVF). Though the technology’s advanced since that first IVF birth in 1978, understanding of who IVF can help and what it achieves has lagged behind.
Despite being surrounded by well-intentioned people, infertility can be isolating for many. Figuring out how to maintain relationships with those closest to you is challenging—and can sometimes result in people feeling they need to distance themselves further from others.
That's where this video comes in.
This discussion between MyBeautifulBlunder's Erin Bulcao and OC Fertility's own Dr. Nidhee Sachdev is designed to offer guidance on what to do (or not!) to cultivate the support that you need.
You are not alone!
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Hey everybody, thanks for coming to our session today. My name is Dr. Nicki such save. I'm here at OC fertility and today we have Erin with us from my beautiful blender. Hey Erin.
Today we want to talk a little bit about the different ways that we can kind of help our patients and the infertility community kind of navigate the fertility journey, a little bit better.
Specifically about ways that we can communicate to our current Community in the past, you know, we've done things that we've talked to people about utilizing the infertility community as some as people that we can lean on to help us through this process.
But one thing that comes up is that, you know, although it's wonderful to find a new community of people that can help you.
What do you do to kind of help strengthen that relationship and bond you have with your own already your current Community your friends and your family.
Many people have kind of talked about how it's a little bit isolating the fertility journey when you know the people closest to you, although they mean well, sometimes they say and do things that are actually kind of hurtful. And oftentimes, it's all well intentioned, but you know what are the things that we can do to help navigate that process.
So Erin, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Erin Bulcao: Sure. My name is Erin. I live in Encinitas; North County San Diego, and I have twin girls who we conceived via IVF. They're 9 years old now. So that was the idea was, yes 10 years ago.
And after that, we decided to start trying again when the twins were about six years old and realize we had to jump into IBS and did not anticipate it lasting for three years, but it did. And currently, I am 33 I'll be 34 weeks on Saturday.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: So Erin is a great resource because Erin has started her own blog that she's had for many years. And for a while when she's really documented a lot for infertility journey and she's become somebody that is kind of well known within the fertility community and it's pretty vocal about it, what I really liked about yours. I like the way that you talk. It was mentioned this earlier.
I like that it's, it seems really natural. And it kind of seems like you know you're talking to your friend. When reading your posts in your blog and that it's something that I would say to my friend or something that I can imagine my friend saying to us and it's a really good insight into what somebody's going through. During this process, which is why I thought it would be great to talk to you about this in thought that maybe we would help out some people who are looking for some of these answers.
Erin Bulcao: Thank you. Yeah, no, I appreciate that. That comment. I tried to just be myself. I try to not edit too much other than spelling, because I'm so bad at it. But I just kind of try and write what I feel, you know, almost daily and it just seems to resonate with with people so I'm doing it.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Alright, cool. Okay, so let's get started. So one kind of the first question I have is what, how do you suggest that women approach their family and friends and start, start having the conversation about the fertility journey with them.
Erin Bulcao: So I think you have to ask yourself if you are ready to open up. Right. I think for me I didn't open up for pretty much two years I was quiet. I told like a couple of friends here and there, just because I was afraid of their reactions, I guess. So if and when you're ready to open up I think its first figuring out who write who you want to open up to I I don't necessarily always suggest like just blurting it out there to everybody, because you have to be prepared for comments you have to be prepared for advice— unsolicited advice—and a lot of people may not agree with you, or may say the wrong thing and that's kind of what I encountered when I first started opening up
I actually told my parents, and it was fine and then towards, towards my first actual transfer. It was just getting really just a lot with the questions I think like my parents wanted to know when was a transfer one's going to be beta, why aren't you telling us, are you going to tell us if it's all these questions. I was like, oh, it's just too much, you know, so after that I actually kind of restrained myself more from talking to people because I realized how stressful. That was because it's already a very stressful situation that you're in.
But on the other hand, when I did open up I was able to just release so much built up I think anxiety built up anger. Resentment just feelings that you start getting when people don't quite understand. And I took it as a way to kind of educate people and people around me.
And so I think that for me that was like the best approach is seeing it as a way to educate somebody because, you know, not everybody really actually I almost feel like almost unless you're going through it, nobody quite understands what it's like
And slowly, I realized that. So once I started opening up telling people, you know, look, this is how this works. This is how it makes me feel I'm just again like more of a more of a form of education.
People were really resonating with that and they kind of were able to ask me more questions. Which, to me, that's, I always say like when somebody is asking you a question. When you're talking to them. It kind of makes you feel validated.
And that's I think the biggest thing that I needed is to feel like heard to feel validated to feel like what I was going through mattered but I realized there was no way and getting that validation unless I was going to be kind of pretty honest, you know. Yeah.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: That's a good point that you bring up because when I think about sharing. I think about my aspect or someone's aspect of sharing. We don't really think about what's going to come as a result of that sharing right, like, think about the comments but sometimes the questions, even though they might be benign distress of, you know, just not your anxiety and anticipation. But then you have to think about, well, what's going to happen with a result I not only they they're waiting for that they know when my testers. They know that I have to then relay that to them and then kind of have to go through that hurt twice.
So that's, that's a good point because I didn't, I didn't think about that, actually, to be honest that like you might get a barrage of questions that sometimes you just don't want to answer.
Erin Bulcao: Yeah, and and I you know I just kind of learned that as I was going through it like what was working for me. Because to be honest. There's not really a right or wrong path in terms of opening up like you may never open up and that's fine it, you may want to be a complete open book and you can take all the comments.
But it kind of just depends on how you're able to handle it. And I think that that's kind of a trial and error type of thing.
I had a few friends that you know would make comments. Well, like at least you at least you already have your twins or at least this or
You know, just not understanding and those kind of things while they were probably just trying to be helpful in a way. I'm really, really strong and obviously stuck with me for quite a while. Um, so it's just kind of
Had I known more about how the approach that's working for me. Had I known about it for myself back then. I probably would have said, Yeah, but you know those two don't correlate um but at the time I was just like, Okay. That was not what I wanted to hear. And then I got that, you know,
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Yeah, you kind of it with the point where you decided to tell people like your family did you kind of internally. Have that moment when you're like, Okay, I'm ready. Or was it that you never really felt like you have that ready and you said that you were like, you know, I just need to talk to somebody. I'm going to tell them how did that go for you.
Erin Bulcao: So we told my parents right away because I just thought I was like, Okay, perfect. You're going to do it if you're going to get a baby in three months and or at least get pregnant, and that's it.
So that's how we went into it. And so that was my assumption. So I was like, why not tell them you know like I'll share everything with them. And when we had that first transfer fail. That's kind of when I realized, Okay, this isn't what I thought it was going to be
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Yeah.
Erin Bulcao: There's no guarantee there's, you know, all these different emotions and feelings and stresses and so after that I kind of didn't really talk to them for a while. My parents. I didn't. Definitely not any other family members.
And I chose a couple friends because I have a couple of friends that are just very, very, very, very supportive and I knew I could talk to them.
But in terms of completely opening up, it wasn't really until I was last August that I decided I needed to just start writing I do see a therapist to I see Austin, especially when I was going through all the loss and that helped a lot.
But in terms of opening up to everybody else. I just decided one day I wanted to just write start a blog and then one of my friends was like will write everything down. They want to write, but you should somehow try and get it out there, which is how I turned to Instagram because I wasn't ever planning on doing like an Instagram account for this.
And so all of a sudden, I was just like, all right, it's going to be all or nothing type of thing. And I literally just went for it. And I think for me I just had felt so heavy, for the past couple years of like
Everything was weighing me down. I didn't necessarily want to get on the phone with every person I knew and explain everything. Nor do I think they would want to hear or have the time to. Yeah.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Draining in and of itself.
Erin Bulcao: Yeah, it is. Yeah.
So I just kind of thought of as again like an opportunity to just educate and then I thought, okay, if somebody really interested. They'll read it, you know, then they maybe would reach out to me. But it's out there and I. They can do whatever they want with it kind of thing.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Yeah. I know people who've made a blog like not necessarily as public or, you know, but they made a blog. And they just like emailed it to like their family and friends. It look instead of kind of what you're saying. Instead of having to go through with everybody. Right, I'm going to share this with you guys and please read if you feel comfortable if you don't. But this is what I'm going through. Yeah, and
Erin Bulcao: You know, yeah.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: It is, yeah. Because in a did what you exactly we're saying right educated people because then I had friends were like, oh, I had no idea about endometriosis or I had no idea about this and then it kind of helps. It's kind of the same thing. Like, like you were saying. People don't know what to do or say or what it's like until they're in it.
Same thing is like you know all see somebody in all like your interactions and, you know, they'll be like, Oh, I wonder when they're having kids, and then later on I'll tell my friends like, dude, you can't ask that you know, like, that's not something to ask or even somebody says the same thing. Like, you know, well, you know, someone had a miscarriage. At least you got pregnant, but I'll pull them aside and be like, dude, you can't say that. Like that's not helpful that's hurtful and then they'll be like, oh, thank you for telling me. I didn't know. So it's all about educating it's a full circle.
You could tell your family and friends, and then they're talking to somebody at work, which ultimately helps people. So there's that benefit of it too.
So, so you talked about how you opened up to your family, but do you have any advice for men because obviously it's a different ballgame for men and they may not be as open as women.
Erin Bulcao: Yeah. So in my case, my husband was just kind of like following my lead.
And, you know, some cases it's male factor infertility. So in our case it wasn't, which I think. May I have a few friends that have that. And I think that kind of alters the course of how they've communicated because obviously their voices.
Are very, very strong and then facility community because there's not that very that very many male voices.
But in our case, my husband was just like, whatever you want to do, like, I'm just going to do this and that. And so I actually told him like you can't say anything to which probably wasn't like the most
I, you know, if we were to be sitting in therapy. My therapist would probably. Yeah. You can't really do that. But I did.
Yeah, so, and he was fine with it. He's also, you know, from my experience, he's a little quieter and he actually prefers to not share as much. So when I created the blog. He was like, oh, you're going to say all of that, you know, like you're going to talk about the miscarriage. You're going to talk about. We had a reduction from triplets two twins and we never spoke about that either between the two of us.
You know, so he was like, All right, you know, um, and, but I think for him to it allowed him to kind of talk to his friends or whoever he sees at work. I don't think he opening goes around and like talks the way I do.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Uhhuh.
Erin Bulcao: But I think that it allowed him to say hey you know I have to really stay because we have this transfer versus before. I'm like, Makeup ally like dancing, you know, which was probably causing a lot of stress for him to. So we tend to forget you know that the partner is also going through so many emotions.
Just because you know there we see them as more of a support and they are great supports, but we forget that they may also need to be supported as well. Yeah.
So again therapy kind of helped with that and he was able to open up their more but it's, you know, my husband's just he's, he's a little more conservative than I am.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Yeah, no, I agree. I would say that my husband. Yeah, less inclined to share things that I am, I do I. But I do think it's kind of like leading by example, if one partner is more open than the other. And then if one person is more inclined to share it might even though that other person. Doesn't necessarily feel comfortable. Maybe they want to or maybe they just don't know how to and then it opens the door. Because for some people, maybe instead of being the one to initiate talking about it. Maybe if they have a friend saying, hey, I'm sorry to hear you guys had a miscarriage. How are you doing, that would make a segue into them actually having that because already conversation with their good friend.
Erin Bulcao: Yeah, no 100% I have a lot of his family follows me and then a few a few of this actual like good friends do to. And so when I started putting stuff out there and then sometimes I'm like wait, and you know, watch what I say. If I say anything about him. The next but tell him because he doesn't go on Instagram. So he has no idea, unless I show them but a few of his friends have actually reached out to me. And then, in turn, I know have reached out to him. You know, when we, when I posted stuff about the miscarriage and all of that they, you know, they wrote to him while we had no idea and, so sorry, his mom even and his siblings did too. So, I think, like you said, in hindsight that probably made him feel good because he then was able to talk up on it, instead of just kind of ignoring the whole thing.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Yeah, totally. I mean, that's the whole point is there's two people oftentimes involved if there are other than that. Yeah. How do you balance us, so we kind of talked a little bit about this, but like, what do you have like any tools or strategies. That have helped people be more like empathetic towards your journey, like, you know, I can imagine that if I were to tell my parents, it would be very well intentioned, but they might say things that might help. And you know, I, I've had friends who were in unique situations.
That I necessarily thought I could relate to, but couldn't. And I would say things and then my friend would kind of teach me to be like, you know, actually that's not a helpful statement. Do you have any advice or any guidance on that.
Erin Bulcao: Yeah. So again, I think my my thing always comes back to education, because I know I've said things to and I actually say things to myself sometimes that like, wow, why do I, you know, like I'm saying I'm not to say that, but I'm saying to myself, so the whole education thing on just like you just said you know explain this somebody why you should say something or not, say something, I think on my blog. I've, I've posted a few things where I say you know what not to say or what to say or what, you know, are things that are triggers based on my own experience, obviously, that's all I have. What is a triggering situation.
But I think that's kind of my biggest piece of advice is just to be able to when someone says something literally just say hey, like, I know you're probably trying to help me and trying, you're trying to be empathetic but that actually the trigger and this is why you know I had, I had a lot of people tell me, Oh, you know it's gonna it's gonna happen when you least expect it. And to me, that was such a big trigger because I was constantly doing IDF I mean for the three years. I think I took like three months off and the doctor one and beyond on birth control. So like, it will, it probably isn't going to happen when I least expect it, because, yeah. If that's the case, then I guess I can throw all these transfers out the window. You know, so when somebody would tell me that because that's, that's probably one of the most common things I was told, because you know people hear the stories of like people getting pregnant on a whim and even though they were doing IDF and this and that. And then they got pregnant naturally. I would always say to them, I was like, well, you know, I actually hope that is not the case because I'm actively, you know, in the middle of treatments. Right now I'm going to do a transfer and a few weeks or whatever the case may be. So if you're saying it's going to happen and any you know when I least expect it. That's basically saying that the transfer will not be working, and I tried to educate people and now they're like, Oh, that's a good point, like, no, I just need you know and then they retract it and, yeah, but I'm just speaking from your gut, you know,
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Yeah, yeah. Because oftentimes these are people you're closest to and if you can't say to them that nobody can say to I've actually had friends who have like send us links to different podcasts that aren't necessarily specific to the issue.
But like you don't burn a brown has a lot of good stuff. And there's like a lot of things about the at least statement and I had a friend sent me a podcast. Or an article about that. And it wasn't relating to fertility. It was relating to another issue that she was going to end. It'd be a lot of times that annoyingly we'd be like, oh, at least this release that and then you know she'd be like, that's actually kind of hurtful or that's hard. And she's like, this is a good. This is a great podcast to understand how we feel. And so that's what I recommend. It's like you. I like Bernie brown and there's a lot of other good ones. That were they talk about things that are specific to this specific thing, but it also talks about kind of how we handle emotions and our vulnerability. And things that then you can say hey you know i i listened to this and this reminded me of how I felt. You know, if you have time just to be interesting.
Erin Bulcao: Yeah, and I think...
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: That could resonate with a lot of people.
Erin Bulcao: I know. Absolutely. I mean, that's, I, I listened to a few podcasts and I always hear things and I like jot them down this. I'm like, oh, this reminds me of this and this is how it can apply to myself. So that's definitely a great, a great resource. And my husband and I actually just had a conversation about triggers last night because he had he sees our therapist alone to sometimes I'm and he had a session. So I always snoop. And I'm like, which is
Probably again defeating the purpose of therapy, but he tells me, and we're just talking about an argument that we had. And you know why it was a trigger for me a certain language that he used. And it's interesting how I think going through all of this, you really are. I think one of the Silver Linings is you're so aware of your triggers. If you really sit down and think about them, you really are. I don't think I was like this pre these three years of IVF. I don't think I was ever that aware of what really upsets me. And what and how to approach the situation. And so even though it had nothing to do with IBM for infertility, or anything that argument we had, I was able to say, hey, you said you know this sentence, and you know that, you know, that's a really big trigger for me. And this is why and so it's kind of, you can definitely apply it to so much of your life and I get, you know, like I said, that's kind of a big silver lining for me is that learning how to really get to know yourself. Was kind of a big A big thing for me. I don't know. It's completely off topic, probably about an
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Hour. It's. No, but I mean, it's good. Right. I mean, that's what life is and gaining tools from the experiences that you've gone through. If you could somehow find a way to gain things that improve upon other aspects of relationship or your life. And even then, in turn, relay that to your friends. I mean that you can't ask for anything more than that, right? Okay. And then what about during your process when you had. I'm sure at some point you have friends or family who just aren't really getting it.
If you refer them to like social media or different blogs or books or things to kind of educate themselves as a way that's like a third party or hearing another person's perspective.
Erin Bulcao: You know, I personally, for some reason, I stayed away from a lot of while I was going through it from a lot of infertility related-stuff because I felt like my entire life was infertility and I felt so consumed by it that like on the you know the moments I had to listen to a podcast or to listen to this music or watch something I put it, I found myself not being able to watch or listen to much fear.
And and sometimes things just came up and I was like, okay, so, and then I would you know would relate to it. But then I would get really sad and would cry like you know even TV episodes have had a miscarriage. And then I was like, no. Turn it off. Um, but I we we have been talking to our daughters about it for a while. When I miscarried last January, my twins were seven we had seen the baby's heartbeat. And so we naively thought up. Everything's gonna be fine now. Yeah, we told them. We had them come into the room. They saw the baby's heartbeat and they were super excited. And then a couple weeks later I went back to for my graduation exam, and the baby had stopped growing and when there was no more heartbeat. So I know you know i mean it's not fine. But see, now I can verbally say that, but thank you. So that night we had to tell them, obviously, that there was no more baby growing and, that was really, really hard. But ever since then we've kind of found different like you know children's books, different things that can continue the conversation because I don't think it was just a one time we're going to tell you. And we're never going to talk about it again. Yeah, they always have questions, they came home from school. They're like, Oh Mommy. We told her friends that the baby in your tummy died. I'm like, okay, okay. Um, you know, but but they're constantly thinking about it. And when we told them this time around we waited until I was about 1112 weeks yesterday, the first thing they said was, like, Well, how do we know that, you know, they said, I'm really scared that something's going to happen to this baby. And that was hard because I wanted to say. Me too. You know, because I was scared. But I tried obviously tried to reassure them. So the conversation just kind of is one that keeps going in our house. We've been very open with them. We've told them where they came from, like an eye you I obviously explain to them in a way where they can understand we're not gonna be too graphic.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: You don't need to get to the birds and bees right now.
Erin Bulcao: No, no, no. They haven't asked, they said. They think babies are made in hospitals, which is great. But, you know, we have gotten into some stuff because they are watching TV and they're watching a show like I was saying before, that's called Fuller House and there's a few episodes where one of the girls is going through a the ass but she can't carry the baby. So she's having her friend carry the baby and just recently I was meeting up with a friend who is going through surrogacy she's having her baby be a surrogate, and one of my daughters came with me to meet her. And so she's like okay, you know she knew she was having maybe she's like Oh, she's just not do for a while. And I said, No, no, no, she's actually do a month after me. I said, but she's having a baby via surrogacy. And so now then we have the whole conversation and I was able to reference full or have some seeds. Yeah. Remember how, you know, Stephanie is having her and she's like, Oh, yeah. And it was like no big deal. You know, so I think the more you can converse with people and the more you can show them how it's kind of everywhere. If you open your eyes a little bit, the more just like normalized it can get. And kind of, kind of like how we treat it at home and and with extended family to now we just kind of just talk about it. You know, like, no.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: No, I agree. I think that I think that's the key normalizing it and I think it's also different 2020 verses 20 1511 Or 2012 right because it's a lot more common. I've had friends who've called me and was like, Okay, I'm doing IDF and then, you know, two days later than me, like, actually, I found out in the last two days. For ABC and D did idea. And they're like, I had no idea. It's the key is normalizing it to say hey you know this is something that we're doing, and it's just part of the way that we are building our family and working towards building our family and yeah if you can use pop culture that makes it even better example. Can you know and makes it for dinnertime conversation.
Erin Bulcao: Yeah, no, I know I mean with them. We did I back in 2010 there were born in 2011 and we didn't tell anybody. I mean like that time we were like, whoa. We don't even belong here. You know, we were yeah we thought I was 26. I was like, what am I doing here, you know, I mean, that's just how you feel, but, you know, we didn't ever told the girls and then just recently because they've been seeing me do injections and all of that, we said, well, you guys were also now. They're like, did you have two injections for us. I'm like, yeah. You know, yeah, so it is interesting, have you just talk about it, then it's just
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: It becomes... it just becomes a "thing."
Erin Bulcao: Yeah.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: It's not, it's not a huge thing it's, you know, I mean, I tell patients. It's like you look at a kindergarten class nowadays, you know, I mean, how many kids were created through fertility clinic, probably a lot more than 100% yeah you know and like, that's probably why like you know maybe kids like your daughter's age, there's more twins and there are
Erin Bulcao: Now,
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Right. Yeah. Like you know my son's kindergarten. There's two sets of twins. Oh, yeah. One-hundred percent. Oh. Yeah, like at a 20 kids are so it just, it's one of those things where when you kind of think about, and you're like, Okay, it's not in end to us because it's we're living in this world, but maybe people who are older, not realizing they only think of more test tube babies these things but normalizing it and saying it's actually fairly common is helpful. So that was really helpful. What about
So a big question is that, you know, I think a lot of people have this problem where they're, they're invited to events that they want to attend, but they might be kind of triggering like a baby shower or like a young child's birthday of close family and they're, you know, they just they know it's going to be hard, but they feel like they should go. What advice do you have for people that those things.
Erin Bulcao: Don't go. Honestly, I, I'm sorry. Just make sure my dog I opted out of a lot of them. Um, especially at the beginning when I wasn't talking to people.
I think being open, though, that was my problem is that I at first wasn't telling anybody that I was going through this. So I would try and make up excuses. Like, why not why I couldn't go and it's not so I look like they're really, you know, the friend that's just not the supportive friend. Once I started telling people, everything we were going through. They were just like 100% understanding, you know, a couple times. I just said. Look, I just I can't make it. I'm having kind of a rough week and they're just like, oh my gosh I hundred percent understand, so if you just really feel like you're going to be more uncomfortable going and your hearts just telling you not to go, it's okay. You know, like, you cannot, you can say no.
And even if you're not opening up you you can make up an excuse you know that's it's okay. You have to, you have to just take care of yourself because you're going through so much that you don't need any added sources of depression is how I kind of saw it. Same with kids birthday parties, you know, I just had to opt out of of a few. It was a little different for me because obviously I have my girls and I wanted to make sure they were able to, they go to the things that you know they should be going to. And obviously, I have to be there.
But I think you just have to take care of yourself. There were times when I kind of evaluated the situation and I would just say, okay, well, well, going make me feel worse or will it make me feel, you know, kind of the same, because there are those times when you you do feel like you should go and you should be there and, you know, in those cases, then you kind of just have to wait out
But it's always okay to say no. And I think at the end of the day, people will understand, even if they don't know what you're going through. They probably eventually will know what you've been through. And they'll probably understand
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Yeah, I think, I think that's fair. I mean, I always tell patients that you have to do what's best for you and you have to do with kind of kind of maintain your own mental health and sanity because, because, you know, we don't know what's going to happen. The journey could be short, it could be involved. But the key is making it through. You know, like I always tell my patients. It's like I'm like, you know, it doesn't do me any good if I help you get pregnant, but your spirit is crushed in the process. Yeah. Right. And I can only control what happens here, but I can't control what happens outside and you kind of have to do your own, you know, kind of used to protect yourself. To make it through alright.
Erin Bulcao: Oh yeah. Hundred percent and I even say that with social media like I always say, if seeing my, you know, when I talk about pregnancy on my page is like too much. Just keep going keep scrolling or, you know, turn unfollow me like whatever you need to do. Yeah, to just maintain your sanity. At the time, you can always come back, you know, you can always like recall, you can always go to the next birthday party, you can always go to the next event, but it's like you're right. You just have to really take care of yourself because it's it's such a crucial part I think that you forget about during the whole process, like, you know, you can go through. I always say like my body and physically I go through a lot like I could probably go through another three years of all of the shots and needles and this and that. But like, mentally, I don't know. You know, it's, yeah, that's where I think it you get really, really stuck and Where things affect you, way more.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Yeah, and I think what people don't get us out. There's trauma associated with this right and so, you know, if getting you from point A to B. I mean, your goal is to have a baby. And if you get there. That's wonderful. But what if you look back when you're considering having another and you're like, that was too hard. I can't do it. Well, then, you know, like we've effectively change the trajectory of your life. Right? And so doing what you can to kind of protect yourself from getting to that point where you're just kind of so broken and traumatized emotionally and if that means saying no to certain events and and even if you don't feel comfortable telling them, maybe later you can tell them, and that can hopefully then empathize with you.
Erin Bulcao: Yeah. Now that's that's awesome, what I used to do sometimes is when I had these events that I really didn't want to go to like I missed one of my good friends bachelor parties, because I was waiting for fit results and I didn't want to be there when I got them. And I kind of explained. I didn't go into too much detail, but I just said I couldn't go, and I felt really bad and I felt kind of left out. And that was my own doing. Obviously, but what I do is what we used to do is we would take little getaways or little trips with my husband, or I would plan like a little night out with a couple of friends that are here just to kind of make me feel like I'm still being social like I still have friends like I still have a life outside of IBS and maybe it's not exactly what I would have done if I wasn't going through the treatments. But that always helped me kind of like I never took my mind off of it. I can't, I'm not gonna lie, but it at least made me feel like I was also doing something fun for myself. Yeah, you know,
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: I don't know. I think that makes sense. You know, as a doctor, I think one thing when patients are always like, you know, should I talked to my family about my fertility issues. And I say, well, I mean that's a personal choice, but you can approach it from like objective standpoint, like medically, you can at least kind of dip your toe in the pool to find out, like, you know, You know, medical, like I always ask patients like does your parents have a hard time conceiving you right like, you know, did they have any issues that your that your mom have any miscarriages. You know, for all and that could be helpful. It may or may not be oh yeah missions, but like finding out, like, you know, when did your mom go through menopause. It could be like, you know, if you didn't ask you have no concept that your mom went through menopause. At the age of 14, if you were 10 and then now that you're having a hard time and you ask them to like, actually, yes. I went through menopause early and then you can be something that's useful. So it may not. You don't necessarily have to kind of dive into everything but just ask them some questions and maybe that alone kind of helps bridge the gap.
If you're kind of timid about asking are talking about and you want to buy getting just kind of like information. Could maybe ask, have them kind of, you know, extend, like an olive branch because what's going on. And maybe that would help if it doesn't, it doesn't. But at least you can think of it from that aspect. Yeah. Yeah. Other things like genetic diseases, right, like there could be people who have genetic diseases in their family that just aren't talked about. But when you're approaching it from, Hey, we're about to go maybe through IBS and we're considering doing genetic testing. You know, so that that piece of information. So I always counsel patients like from from a medical standpoint, there are benefits to at least broaching the subject with your family. But again, it's totally whatever patients feel comfortable with.
Erin Bulcao: Yeah I know that's and that's the trickiest part. It's kind of like everybody's families and everything is so different, because I get that question all the time. Like how do I tell my parents. How do I tell my in laws. And I'm like, oh, do you know because it is really hard. You know, in my word Jewish but my husband's family is Catholic and you know like sometimes I'm like I don't you know we didn't want to say too much about certain things because yeah, you know, that's a whole nother ballgame that we didn't work out that while we were in the thick of it, we just weren't ready to total your, any comments, you know, because that's just what we were doing.
But I think if you and your partner you know if there is a partner involved. You're on the same page. I think that's a really, really big.
Plus, because I think that if one person wants to share or one person wants to really dig deep with the family aspect and the other doesn't. I think that's where there could be a really big disconnect. Thankfully, we were always on the same page of like, okay, we want to. We're going to keep quiet about this because we know how these people tend to react to things. Yeah. And that was, that was kind of helpful in that sense. Yeah.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Totally awesome. Well, I'm in it. There are a few questions that I'm going to ask if that's okay with you. Yeah. Alright, so I got a good question from somebody who said, well, how have you communicated with your older children. This person has to step kids that they're not telling them, but it's been stressful to try and hide it. Any advice.
So, and I think we're talking about IVF in general, right, just going through. Maybe if I say, but fertility treatment. Okay.
Erin Bulcao: Yeah, yeah. So, um, minor nine when they were. I mean, we started this Sunday. We're six. So the first year I didn't, we didn't say too much because they were younger, and and like I said, we thought it was going to work pretty quickly. And we didn't, we weren't going to have to, once they started to get a little older, like I actually had them come watch me do shots. That's kind of how I introduced it everything to them. I just said, hey, like, Mommy's taking medication because they would, you know, notice that I'd go into the bathroom every night at the same time to do something for five minutes and they didn't understand what was happening.
And I said, Why don't you guys come with me and help me do my medicine.
And then they saw and there of course at first. They're freaked out because it's an injection and they're like, yeah, just heard. Is it like the flu shot. Oh, no.
But that's kind of how I got them in it because I had them get me. You know, like a tissue and I had them. Get me the wipes and I had had them. Get me the alcohol swabs, like, have them kind of help and then they could see that a I'm not a pain and it doesn't hurt to, you know, it's a little uncomfortable, but you know, I wasn't like tearing up or crying. Every time I gave myself an injection, ind I'm making see like, kind of how it's not that big of a deal type of thing, but at the same time, like, I am strong. And like we are going to do this because we want a baby. And then I slowly started to explain to them like look, some people have to take medicine and see doctors more often to have a baby. I said, and we slowly got into with some people don't.
And they kind of started to understand that way. I kind of let them ask me questions, and I would kind of go off of what they were asking me versus like shooting them with so much information because, you know, they're still kids and we don't even really know what they really want to know. You know, so I kind of let them lead for the most part. Once I started having them come and then every night. They're like, can we come, come. We come watch. And I'm like, Sure, come watch, you know, and then they would throw a little thing away for me.
And I think that's kind of what's been our approach and and slowly, like I said, there's a few books on infertility out there that are children's books. That we've read together that help. And for me, I often i've i've met up with a few people that I've met through Instagram or I talked about my blog with them and I show them. You know, some of the things I've written number the pictures I posted and I say, you know, where there's a lot of people that need help to have a baby and I said, so it's not a weird thing but it's fun to connect with the women and all the other people so I think just kind of feeling out your kids. And just starting with very basic with like the whole medication thing that we need medicine to help will probably spark some type of conversation.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Totally. And also, like having them involved in whatever way they can obviously they can't be too involved, but like, you know, like you know whatever like little ways depending upon or again like educating them about it and kind of making it seem like it's not as big of a deal might might ease the transition into like having that conversation because, you know, just like this person says it is stressful to try and hide it, because I get the part of it. You don't want to get their hopes up. But at the same time, you know, they may not understand why you're having a hard day if you have an outcome or, you know, and having them be part of it. My in some ways, kind of help you guys read together.
Erin Bulcao: Oh yeah, I mean there are days when I was crying a lot. And they're like, are you okay and I'm like, you know, I'm just sad about the baby today or the and then they they kind of understood, you know, because they just, they kind of get it. Um, yeah, I mean literally recently they asked me how a doctor is able to see a baby before they can, like, do the topical ultrasound. Show. I had a show on what I want one of those ones where I was like, well, no, like that goes in there. I'm like, yep.
So, Just so you know, they're like doesn't, then I'm like, Nope. So I mean like you might get some good laughs out of it to, you know, you never know. Yeah.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Alright, we have another question that says in the key. So we're not open to share. How do you respond to family who keeps asking when you're going to have babies. To sprite and previously same anytime. So they don't want to talk about it, or when they say it happens when it happens, I guess, kind of like how do you arm people with some good come back, I guess.
Erin Bulcao: That's hard. I mean, I always got those questions to, like, oh, are you say you're only having two. I'm like, oh, I'm so when it's family you know that that's harder because you have to, you know, everyo honest without telling them what you're doing and just say, look, we really i mean i. It sounds like they've already kind of said something like this to them, but tTo just continue to say we really, really would appreciate not talking about this, you know, it's, I don't know if you guys can say that you're kind of a little bit stressed out about it, or that you're in a stressful predicament or situation right now and you're just not ready to open up about it sometimes if you just give like a tiny bit of, How you are feeling it might help somebody understand that you're going through something and it's not just that you're trying to avoid the topic I'm just a little bit of an insight, because that is it is such a hard question. I mean, I'm sorry that they keep asking. Yeah yeah.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: And I can imagine culturally different cultures are different, you know, there's so many times for my dad will say something about daddy can't do that. He goes one, it wouldn't, you know, and I'm like, oh gosh, you know, it's, I think it's a generational thing. And probably, to some degree a cultural thing where, you know the nicest person can be so oblivious to how little words can help. But I think the key is, I think, it sounds like this person did a good job of trying to stand up for themselves. And so I can't you know we don't. And I think the key is just continuing to stand up for yourself. And as long as you do it in a way that you feel is, you know, appropriate to your relationship. I think that's keys.
Erin Bulcao: Yeah, and
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: At some point, they'll get the hint. Sachdev: Yeah, so
Erin Bulcao: I think they please.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Yeah. And then if they don't, then maybe you can consider ways to respectfully remove yourself from the situation or limit that exposure. So yeah, better place. Yeah.
Erin Bulcao: Yeah, and that's at least to do too. I remember next family would say that to me a lot, and I would try to kind of, we would talk about it. I'm like, you know, I don't feel comfortable going to this place or that place because I know I'm going to be asked dolphins and they just don't want to. Me is very fertile. So, yeah.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Yeah, I feel you.
But here we have another question from somebody. Said, well, any advice and how to handle when people tell you to just stay positive when you're having a difficult time.
I can imagine that's hard. Like sometimes you just kind of want to strangle somebody that's like another one of those, like, Please don't say it because it's...
Erin Bulcao: It's just one of the worst comments. So I totally feel you on that. I think, again, just being open and saying, Look, I am as positive as I can be. But you know, I also have to be realistic and I am positive, but there's going to be hard days, you know, and I'm having a hard day. And that's okay.
It's so hard, because you really can't control what somebody's going to say, and I know that they mean well, but ultimately positivity is not going to get you pregnant. I asked to be positive. I'm not saying you know eliminate that from your, from your vocabulary, but, I think when somebody says that you can, if you're being open. It's okay to kind of just say hey look, this is why I'm feeling like this. And, you know, this is what has a little bit less positive. If you're, if you're able to to share that.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Totally ironic. I always tell patients with like just have kind of like a response in mind that you just walk around with that if somebody says something like that. You just kind of, and it can be some people use humor to mask thing.
Right, so, you know, like I was like, come up with something funny or something, whatever you feel comfortable with.
Yeah, and a skirt the situation because that's, that's kind of a you kind of have to have like your own armor. Right.
Like that's doing once you if you're interacting with people. They're going to say things or if he started opening up the people you have to have like something that you know you're, going to be like, you know, and yeah, I think that's key.
Erin Bulcao: Someone once told me that if they said, oh, my friend got pregnant because her acupuncturist told her need cilantro, and so she had cilantro. I actually went and bought cilantro. But that's not the point of the conversation. I was like, okay, you know, like, so at that point you just laughs You're like okay I all I said it was like, oh, that's pretty crazy. You know, I haven't heard. That one before. But yeah. Yeah.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Yeah, I mean what it, what are you gonna say like, Oh, that's cool today because, you know.
Erin Bulcao: Like my doctor told me to do that.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: I'll put in the suggestion box. Exactly. Alright, here's a good question says, What's the hardest thing as someone has said to you that you didn't expect. And have you ever exploded at someone and had to say sorry but didn't feel like you should have had to say sorry. It's a good question.
Erin Bulcao: Um, so one was from a friend who told me that at least you have your twins. I think for me, that was really hard because with secondary infertility.
It creates so much guilt on its own. I always felt super guilty like taking time away from my kids physically taking time away from them mentally, emotionally, and so when somebody else points that out.
It made me feel really, really bad and like should I stop doing this because they have the two and the answer is no.
You deserve to have the family that you know you want and at least tried to go for it and that case I kind of just, I just like I said I should have said something. But back then, I wasn't as in tune with myself as I am now but I definitely would have said kind of what I just said. Now that you know if somebody is fertile and they're telling you they want to try for another, you would tell them, congratulations. You know, and that's I think to me what was like the biggest deal is that I would see my friends who, you know, we're getting pregnant or announced that they wanted to try to have another baby and everyone's like, yeah, right. Hooray. And then for me I'm like two years down the road, and it's still like, well, I mean, at least you have this instead of like keep going like, you're gonna you know that cheering on
Another comment was, back when I had my twins. The nurse, actually, once we we found out the beta testers positive told me, Oh, well, now you know. Next time it should be really easy for you to get pregnant. Because she said that sometimes when people go through fertility treatments, then it's going to be really easy. That's just what happens. And so that really stuck with me. Unfortunately, again, I didn't say anything at the time because I believed her. Yeah, but that comment like really really irks me and I actually have talked about it on my blog because it stuck with me for 10 years, because honestly, after we had them. I really wasn't on much of any contraception and I always just had that comment in the back of my mind. I was like, well, they said that it'll be easier, you know, So, and I know it's so hard for doctors and nurses to find the balance between hope like giving somebody hope and like being realistic.
But for me, that's still I honestly still think about it like after I'm sad. I'm like, well, maybe, maybe it'll happen you know but and yeah maybe like a that's you know it is such a vague term, but that kind of upset me
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: No, I think it's fair. Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, like it's kind of like with any relationship, whether you're upset about infertility, or something else. You know, like, friendships and relationships, you're going to have days where you get upset right like marriages and
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Best friends like you have days where you just get upset and then you calm down. You feel for it. So yeah, you know, I would say this, someone says something to you and that really bothers you. And as long as you know if you get upset. Sometimes it happens like a knee jerk reaction, you can
Erin Bulcao: Have and, you know,
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Then yeah and apologize for maybe the way that you said it if you didn't feel good about that but not necessarily that you had a reaction to what they said. No, not at all. I mean, like,
Erin Bulcao: A few weeks ago, we were at I was talking to somebody and she didn't really know me, but she knew I set up the call while I'm going through IVF or whatever. It is now I just say it.
And she was like, oh my god, I can't believe like I can't even imagine like because she has a little kid, and they can imagine like having to start over and, and have another baby right now and I'm like, Yeah, well, my kids are nine. So I'm definitely starting over. And I just was very blunt, you know, ahe kind of was like, Oh, oh no, I didn't mean like, I guess sometimes it just comes out because you're just like, tired of, you know, yeah.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: I mean, but yes. Okay. Yeah and that personal like she'll probably get it like she didn't mean anything by it. But now she gets like oh yeah people build their families in different ways.
Erin Bulcao: Exactly. You know, and it took her longer than she thought so. Yeah.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: All right. And we have another question that says, Is there anything you can do to make sure to learn about their fertility when they're young enough for them to realize fertility is what it is from a biological standpoint.
I think. Yeah, I think that's key. I think that things are changing now right like learning about fertility and reproductive health. I mean, regardless of what your feet is like on your Instagram something about fertility or women's health is probably coming up. Or, you know, most people, and I think that now, you know, the, the education that they're getting in high school and in college is going to be geared a little bit different because, you before it you know women women's rights is very different than it was right even 20 years ago. I mean, things are very different and, you know, talking about your fertility and planning for your fertility and putting your career. First it was talked about, but it wasn't really demonstrated in the same way that it is now. You know, I think a byproduct of the way that our society is changing. I think that women are going to have more and more we're getting more equal rights and equal opportunities to have the same careers and, and, you know, and it's not looked upon the same way that it was beforehand for women to try to put their career first. So I think as a result of that, the education is coming. It's clearly not the where it could be. It's getting better every day but, yeah, I think that we're just the way that things are going and and by us advocating for ourselves the education is going to come from fertility and I think that, hopefully that you know like your daughters will be in a position where they are in their 20s and they'll have a full understanding of the reproductive potential and the timeline and what their options are, whether they want to have a family, whether they want to preserve or whether they want to, you know, whatever they want to do.
Erin Bulcao: Yeah 100% I'm actually I've been it's such an interesting question because I've been working with a couple legislators to get things going, and changed in the education system. Unfortunately, I just learned that it could take five to 10 years to make any type of change in the curriculum at schools. So we I'm still actively pursuing it and just trying to, you know, involve this whole education for teens young adults through different legislative avenues know, ao definitely, hopefully you we can connect and you can. Yeah, you know, give me any opinions, but, that's I'm 100% advocating for that and trying really hard to to make something change because
To me, it's also about asking the right questions when you go see your gynecologist for the first time, right, like asking, hey, you know, let's even have your parents help us you know I know most teams really know anything. Yeah. I think that's, that's where it can stun. Yeah.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Okay. We have time for one last question.
Have you had to talk to your work about idea about your idea of journey. So this person works full time. There are days that they don't have the energy and don't want it to reflect poorly on her at work.
Erin Bulcao: So I am a stay at home mom I've, I was teaching yoga pre coven and pre miscarriage. So I can say could kind of relate. But when I obviously I didn't tell anybody there when I was teaching. But when I miscarried, I had to be out for a little bit, just because of my mental sanity and then I actually did remove myself from teaching because I just thought it was just too much for me to do both. I know not everybody can just stop working because of IDs. So that's not a realistic thing. I think if there's anybody at your office or wherever you work that you couldn't lean to and talk to that might give you a little bit of a relief. Just so that you have somebody there that kind of maybe if you're having a bad day, a bad day can kind of get it and you can lean on them.
I, I would still suggest talking to, you know, whoever you need to talk to in terms of a boss or anything like that, because I think ultimately like you had just said, I think we are changing in the right direction. It would be very hard for me to to imagine them being you know at all angry or anything like that with you and if that is the case, then I think there's a lot of things you could do from there in terms of, you know. But I mean, again, I think it's always just finding that one. That one support system that's, you know, in the sameday to day as you I think would probably be a big help. If you, if you're not comfortable thing up to your entire office or whatever about it.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Too is one way that I've had patients approach, it is that when you do if you at least kind of have some sense of wonder, you're going to do it. And we can kind of map out the number of appointments and it's not made up the exact, but they have a plan that they then go and maybe talk to the supervisor or colleague to say, look, this is what I'm doing. I'm undergoing medical procedure. I'm going to need to be seen, you know, the thesis days, you know, so I'm going to need some flexibility in my schedule. That's right, or take it so, like all help them map it out there. Like, I don't really know how to do that work. And I'll say, Okay, let's map it out. This is the time that you're going to need after your procedure, you're going to need this.
So sometimes having a plan and you don't have to say, if you could say, I'm having I'm having health issues, but like if otherwise if you don't sometimes if you don't tell people, then they just don't understand why you're gone, you're going, and then it might lead to other issues. Yeah. And let's say you have to tell them, but at least maybe mapping out the plan to say, hey, I'm going to have in this two week span a certain number of days. I'm going to be gone from 100 it might make it a little bit easier.
Erin Bulcao: Yeah, that's a great idea. I hundred percent agree with that.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Awesome. Well, this is super helpful. Thank you so much.
Thank you, everybody, for listening for everyone listening live and for anybody watching the replay. So again, this is Erin from MyBeautifulBlunder you can follow her on Instagram @mybeautifulblunder. Or her blog which I believe is mybeautifulblunder.com. Yep, so she's done a lot of good work. She's working with different fertility advocates hit the legislature's she's partnering with Fertility Warrior. Yeah, yeah, she's doing things. So the idea of warrior and other infertility advocates. So I would recommend for anybody interested. Check out her blog or Instagram.
And for anybody interested in learning more, we're going to be doing another webinar in a week, October 1, looking at frozen embryo transfers understanding what the protocols are how we make decisions about what we do and how we offer patients and just kind of breaking it down. What to expect what how you do your shots and when to expect to pregnancy outcome.
In two weeks, and we're going to be talking about preserving your fertility, not just freezing eggs but freezing embryos. The difference as to what it means to freeze eggs versus embryos and why one person would choose one or the other and how that what the options are for freezing sperm.
So the key is, we're here to just educate and inform people. So thank you again for your time here and I really appreciate it.
Erin Bulcao: My pleasure.
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev: Awesome. Alright, well, have a good day, everybody.
Erin Bulcao: Bye.
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