Celebrated "maternity concierge" Rosie Pope just came out with a fabulous new guide to pregnancy, Mommy IQ. But as any fan of the Bravo hit show Pregnant in Heels can tell you, Rosie's own path to pregnancy wasn't so rosy. We caught up with the busy mom of three—J.R., 4; Wellington, 1.5; and Vivienne, 6 months—to talk about her experience with infertility.
We're so glad you want to share your story! Let's start at the beginning... You had your first son in 2008, and then what happened?
Actually, before getting pregnant with my oldest son, I had a number of miscarriages. This was really hard, but at the time, I didn't know that something deeper was wrong. I eventually became pregnant and fortunately everything was fine and I was very lucky to have a successful birth.
When my husband [Daron Pope] and I started trying again for a second child, we couldn't get pregnant. I wasn't ovulating and I couldn't start ovulating, so we went to see an endocrinologist who ran all kinds of tests and told us all sorts of things I really wish I had known earlier. The first part was that the miscarriages weren't just something that happened. There was a problem with my uterus—it was a complete medical miracle that I had my son. So I had an operation on my uterus and I fixed that. And then I was diagnosed with secondary infertility and went through almost every type of treatment you can imagine. Nothing worked.
But then you tried IVF—in vitro fertilization?
So, we tried IVF and finally one of the rounds took, but it ended up in an ectopic pregnancy that required emergency surgery and the removal of a fallopian tube. Really, in a period of a few years we went from trying [for our first child] to me thinking that I am never going to get pregnant again. However, I still went in for another round of IVF. At first there was a scare that it might be another ectopic pregnancy, but I was really pregnant; by some miracle, it all worked.
Your saga didn't end there, though...
Well, during that pregnancy, I was on bed rest for a long time, but in the end, everything turned out wonderfully. I delivered on time and my son was born healthy. After that, you know with two, things were a little crazy and I wasn't really sure what we were going to do next. I felt very blessed by the two we had already, however I ended up becoming pregnant—on my own—with my third child, Vivienne. Really quickly. And now we have three.
When I think about my fertility, pretty much everything that could happen did happen!
What advice do you have for other women experiencing infertility?
First of all, no one should get to decide how long is too long for you to try [to have a baby]. In my opinion, that decision is up to you. Secondly, when you need help for your fertility, find a really good reproductive endocrinologist and go. I always tell women, the best case scenario is the endocrinologist tells you nothing is wrong and you go back to your doctor. The worst case scenario is that they do figure out something's wrong. But even when this is case, an endocrinologist can help you feel a little bit of control over a situation you may feel like you have no control over.
The third thing is to really have faith that somehow you're going to have your family even if that means not in the traditional way you might have thought. People have babies in many different ways and it isn't always easy to accept, but have faith that somehow you'll get them here.
How did you cope with your infertility in light of your career working almost exclusively with pregnant women? What tips for you have for women dealing with pregnant coworkers and friends?
For me, the career part was easier than I expected. I could separate myself a little; if anything, I think I threw myself into my career even more because I wanted to help pregnant women.
In terms of finding out coworkers or friends are pregnant, it can be really hard. You're happy for them, but still sad for yourself. Women tend to feel very guilty about that sort of sadness. I think it's okay to be happy for your friends and sad for yourself. Congratulate them and then you can go to your office or the bathroom and cry—and that's OK.
It's also okay if you don't go to baby showers—and you don't have to tell anyone why unless you really want to. You can say "I have a commitment and I can't make it". Giving yourself that time is important.
You've been quoted saying that "infertility is one of the last taboo topics." Why do you think this is?
I think it's partly because infertility is a very emotional and difficult topic. A lot of people who have been through infertility and made it to the other side, often don't like to revisit it or they want to pretend it somehow never happened. But there is also a lot of pressure in society to be 'perfect' and somehow being able to get pregnant easily has coincided with being perfect. Just because you can't get pregnant doesn't mean you're any less than perfect than anyone else. However, if you're a woman, it's hard not to feel less than perfect when it comes to this thing that you think you should do naturally. We need to reject all this.
One last question! We love Mommy IQ because it's full of great tips. What are your best ones for women trying to conceive?
Surrender to the fact that you cannot control this process and those babies are going to come when those babies want to come. If you monitor your whole month in terms of "this week the egg is leaving the ovary" and then "this week it's traveling down the fallopian tube," you're gonna go crazy. Just try to keep on keeping on as much as possible.
If you want to take some of the guesswork out of it, using things like ovulation sticks are a really great idea. Then just try to have fun during this period you're most fertile.