“Where do babies come from?”
Ah, the dreaded question for many women and men.
But, then again, why?
My entire life I was raised to believe babies came from sexual intercourse, and that’s it. Never did I see myself coming face-to-face with the reality that babies come to families in many ways.
When conception was not happening “naturally” for my husband and I, we were referred to assisted reproduction and in vitro fertilization was our only option. It will never fade in my mind, sitting in the fertility doctor’s office, staring at images of my internal body on the computer screen, being told that I had less than 1% chance of conceiving without medical assistance.
I was lost. I was unprepared. And I felt alone.
What is IVF? I had so many questions and was often flying by the seat of my pants, being told to come in for this blood test, do this injection at this specific time, take this vaginal pill this many times. Literally, I was logging into an online portal and being told daily what I needed to do to prep my body to carry a baby.
And that wasn’t even talking about what I would need to do if/once I had a positive transfer.
Speed things up and after a miscarriage with the first transfer of a positive embryo, I was able to transfer my last positive embryo, which resulted in a full term pregnancy and the birth of my rainbow baby boy. And his birth gave me more than a new perspective on life, but a new career. I got the unstoppable courage to start my own business and become an author, focusing on children’s picture books that tell IVF through the eyes of a child.
I thought about my son, and how his life is so special, has such a dramatic, courageous story about the little-embryo-that-could, and how I did not want him to be overlooked someday when he learns about “how babies come to be.” I want him to raise his hand in class, stand up for himself and all IVF conceived babies, and say, “there is another way, and I am proof.”
Telling the process of IVF to a child is not easy, and as a mother, first and foremost, I understand that. Needles and pills and countless doctors appointments with weird tools that are stuck inside of the female reproductive system is a lot for a two, three, four, or five year old to handle. It’s overwhelming, it’s scary, and it used to be considered, “grownup talk.” Heck, to this day, I still have some family members that cannot handle me saying the word “uterus” in public.
But change starts with me, and no longer should I, or anyone else experiencing infertility be embarrassed. This is a part of us, and we need to shed light on the topic and talk about it with our littles. Because infertility is a diagnosis, and it doesn’t go away even when you have a baby.
So, I put pen to paper and created the I’m Very Ferris children’s picture book series. So far, there are two books in the series: I’m Very Ferris, a child’s story about in vitro fertilization and I’m Very Ferris Takes a Bubble Bath. These are picture books about a little boy named Ferris (I V F is in the titles), and he tells his special life story with adventures from his point of view. It is simple text, with big, beautiful pictures and enough to give young children a basic understanding of IVF. Whether is it their story, a sibling’s, or extended family or friend’s, these books talk about IVF from the child’s eyes…not talking to them but them talking to you.
Children can handle topics that are tough; no one should ever think they cannot. It’s more so how the tough topic is presented, and that’s why I wrote the picture books as if children were talking about IVF to each other because the reality is, they should! This is real life, and it’s not gross or inappropriate. It’s magical if you think about it because for many parents the odds are stacked against us to carry a child, and IVF gave us the success to have a baby. If that’s not magic and a happy ending, than what is?
If you are going through IVF or have in the past, let the I’m Very Ferris children’s picture book series assist you in educating children to understand and respect this delicate and important topic of how some babies come to be. Change the words or name to help bring the story to a more personal level for you. “Ferris” represents all the babies who come from this amazing scientific process of bringing “mama’s egg and dad’s genes” together to form a baby. Remember, you don’t need to get into the fine details for a child to grasp that something from a mom and something from a dad were put together and then back into mom’s tummy to form a baby. This is a stepping-stone to deeper conversations later in life.
Break the stigma behind tough topics. Be proud of who you are and your fertility journey. IVF is a beautiful and painful process, but the more we talk about it, the more we normalize it.