It seems that at least once a decade, I somehow manage to end up on a reality TV show. It's not planned. In fact, this most recent appearance happened when I was at my lowest point. I was the heaviest I'd ever been. We had just come off two failed rounds of IVF and we were in the middle of our third. Emotional, financially and physically, we were tapped out.
That's when they found us.
A friend knew someone in production on the show. They found the blog - this silly thing I started writing only because I could no longer handle the pain of calling our mothers and my best friends and repeating the disappointing news from every appointment to each person in our lives. By the second phone call, I'd be a crying mess, so the blog was launched as a way to allow everyone to check in with us without me having to leave depressing messages between ugly crying and hyperventilating to family members and using up all my minutes.
It turns out there are a lot of us out there. Those of us who want to talk about this crazy journey but can't quite get the words out. Lots of those women found me through this blog. And it empowered me. So, when Lifetime called and said, "We have a new show coming out called This Time Next Year and we want you guys to film yourself over the course of the next year as you try for a baby," I thought ... Hmmm. Filming myself at my saddest, fattest, most vulnerable time of my life coming straight off of two failures without any guarantees that we will actually succeed?
Because, fuck it. Life is hard. Parenting is hard. And trying to become a parent, for some of us, is the hardest part of it all. Why do we all torment ourselves, feeling like secret failures, but making sure that we look fabulous on Facebook? Why are the challenges of fertility so isolating when there are so many of us going through them? It's time to talk about it, honestly and openly, even if it's shocking or gross or makes us want to throw in the towel.
And I can assure you, this last year of my life was not pretty. But filming it was cathartic. Those who know me know I enjoy being behind the camera. And filming gave me something to do. Something I could actually control, unlike my pregnancy, or my toddler. The only part I didn't like was being in front of the camera. But I did it. I didn't put on makeup. I didn't brush my hair. I didn't even shoot from a flattering angle. But you know what I did do? Grew two humans. WINNING!
It was hard. My uterus makes for great TV and kept us all on pins and needles (irony noted and intentional). Spoiler alert: I cry.
I cried because life was frustrating and ridiculous and heartbreaking and overwhelming. I cried because I learned that I had a big cheering squad and lots of shoulders to absorb my tears as I injected hormones and hope. I cried because even though I felt at the end of my rope, I saw a world around me that tried to make me laugh, let me know I was doing the right thing and crowded the finish line with joyful faces and cheers.
I haven't seen the segment yet. It's set to air this Tuesday, January 30th at 10 p.m. on Lifetime. There’s no “This Is Us” on that night, so if you need a good sad/happy cry, this is the ticket. It's the hardest year of my life – maybe the hardest year of OUR lives - edited for TV down to 10 or 15 minutes. And if it helps one couple out there feel less alone, then it was worth every embarrassing freeze frame.