Ep 55: The Male Partner Perspective with Steve Moskowitz
Fertility Forward Episode 55:
There are not many resources for males to assist them in supporting their partners undergoing fertility treatments. This can often lead to increased feelings of guilt, shame, and isolation. Today’s guest, Steve Moskowitz, is the other half of Rachel Hess, a guest on episode 39. Steve joins us to present the male perspective of what it is like to watch a partner go through treatments. As Steve highlights, many of us have been taught that getting pregnant is easy, when, in fact, different people experience varying levels of difficulty. So, when there are fertility struggles, it can be difficult to know where to turn for emotional support. Steve sheds light on how he supported Rachel emotionally and physically and what they learned from the journey. The couple is now expecting their first child. Steve acknowledges that while it has been challenging, it has strengthened them as individuals and as a couple because they had to communicate so openly. We also talk about the resources that could be out there for male partners and the power of sharing your struggles, dealing with miscarriage, and how families and friends can support those struggling with fertility. Fertility treatments are not easy physical or emotional undertakings, but as Steve points out, when it ends with you having a family, it is so, so worth it.
Rena: Hi everyone. We're Rena and Dara, and welcome to Fertility Forward. We are part of the wellness team at RMA of New York, a fertility clinic affiliated with Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Our Fertility Forward podcast brings together advice from medical professionals, mental health specialists, wellness experts and patients because knowledge is power and you are your own best advocate.
Rena:I am so excited to welcome to Fertility Forward today the other half of our guests from episode 39, this is Steve Moskowitz to present a male perspective today on what it's like to watch your partner go through fertility treatments and be on the other side of that. I'm really, really excited to have Steve come on today. For those of you that are avid listeners, Rachel, his wife was on episode number 39, one of our Hope and Healing episodes and talked about her fertility journey. And I'm so excited that Steve reached out and said, Hey, do you want to hear a male perspective? You know, I'm happy to share. And I said, absolutely. As you guys all know, I think it's, it's few and far between that, you know, males speak up. So I'm really, really grateful to have Steve come on today and share his experience struggling with fertility. So thank you so much, Steve, for taking the time to come on today.
Steve Moskowitz: No problem, Rena. Thanks for having me on your show.
Rena: You know, I know we obviously spoke a little bit before about what we wanted to talk about when everything, and I think, you know, one of the things that we both really came across was, you know, how little, you know, support you felt, you know, you didn't know kind of where to turn when you were going through this. So what was it like for you to, to watch, you know, Rachel going through fertility treatments and be on the male side of this?
Steve Moskowitz: It wasn't easy and there was no guidebook or real resource to tell me what to expect or what to think about in pursuing it. With all the shots for IVF and all of that, to see her go through changes in her body and emotional changes, it was a struggle and we definitely relied on you as a person to help us and give us some guidance in the right direction.
Rena: You maybe want to tell listeners a little bit about your journey, kind of tell them what you guys went through?
Steve Moskowitz: So it started about three years ago when my wife decided, and also I decided, we decided together that we wanted to just start trying to have a family. Her sister was pregnant and had just given birth to their first child and I think that was a factor in our decision is seeing our niece and seeing my sister-in-law with her child made us feel that the timing was right for us to have our own child. You know in health class, they tell you, you know, you can just look at someone and they get pregnant when you're a teenager. As an adult, I found that not to be true. It was a little bit of a struggle with the trying process. And we did have a pregnancy occur after about nine months of trying and after about six or eight weeks, it ended in a miscarriage. So from there we contacted RMA to pursue or to learn more about reproductive assistance. And from that process, we tried some IUIs that didn't work. We tried about five of them. And then we tried IVF and the first round was not successful. And then we did a second round that resulted in a pregnancy that ended at 10 weeks. And then my wife had surgery to remove fibroids. And that was the beginning of 2020. So at this point, we're in about two years into our journey and then COVID happened. So that kind of put a damper on our plans and we weren't able to pick up IVF again until the summer. So we did a third round of IVF that led to a pregnancy that my wife and I are now in the middle of, or towards the end of, and we're expecting our first child later this spring, but it's been about a three-year process where we've experienced a lot of highs and a lot of lows. And we've learned a lot of things along the way that people don't necessarily tell you or talk about that. I'm hoping that this episode will be able to reveal.
Rena: Yeah, man, you know, I’ve been blessed and lucky enough to know you guys since the beginning of your journey, but you know, even hearing you recap it, you know, it's, it's been so much for you guys. You went through an incredible amount together. You know, what would you say was the hardest part for you throughout the process?
Steve Moskowitz: Man, that's a hard question because when you're in the moment, everything feels so real in that particular moment. Whatever you're facing seems to be the biggest hurdle. I mean, you know, from when we were trying naturally and every month with a pregnancy test that came back negative and having, you know, I think a lot of men experience this or partners experience this, their wives or girlfriends are super excited every month to take the test and then if it comes back negative, they have to be their emotional support through that moment. And then when it comes to, you know, pregnancy loss, that's a whole other topic that was extremely difficult to go through. And there are resources for men and women dealing with that, but nobody ever talks about it and it's definitely a problem in our world. And then, you know, dealing with reproductive assistance has its own challenges of your house turns into a walking pharmacy and you have many needles and, you know, pills and bottles. And, you know, you learn to basically become a nurse and give shots. So there's a lot of different components to the journey and I'm hoping people listening have an easier or more seamless experience that doesn't require as many turns or as many experiences. But however you end up having your family, it's not, you know, a walk in the park.
Rena: Yeah. I mean, I love how you touched upon, you know, your house kind of feels like a pharmacy. I think that's one of the things that can be the most intimidating to people, you know, when all the medications start to arrive and you feel like, what the heck. Were you able to take part, you know, in any of that process? What was sort of your role, if any, in the medication aspect? You know, I know that's something I work with partners a lot on is how to make both parties feel involved. You know, because usually it's just, you know, one partner's body it's, you know, whoever's carrying the child's, you know? And so there are ways to, I think, to make the other partner feel involved. Were you guys able to do that at all?
Steve Moskowitz: Yeah. I mean, my wife, I would say she's not the most confident with needles. She's not afraid by any means, but certainly the first day of doing injections was uncomfortable for her. And it actually took, I remember the second round of IVF we did the first day, took her about 45 minutes to feel confident with the needles, but it gets easier every single day. And my role was, you know, some of the injections are places where it's a little difficult for a person to inject themselves. And that would be my role is she would set everything up, prepare the injection and clean the injection site. And then she'd give me the needle and I would have to do it. And I would have to get training and watch - RMA has great videos and the companies they use to provide the products, have great videos and how to do it and the nurses are fantastic. We worked with Ariel and she's great. And all the nurses and staff are fantastic and showing you how to use these products. But basically I was the one to give many injections. And if you have successful IVF, you continue with the injections for several weeks after pregnancy. So it's funny after, on our last day of injection, we played and, you know, Celebrate by Casey and the Sunshine Band like to mark the end of the injections, but it's just one of the many bonding experiences you have going through these kinds of processes. So there's, there's a lot, a lot going on with it.
Rena: Well, I like that you guys found it a bonding experience. Were you, so that system for you, was that able to give you a feeling of being involved in the process?
Steve Moskowitz: Yeah, I mean, I think for me it was a little frustrating to not be able to do more with my wife, not loving the, doing the injections every day. I have this physical role that I could play and then I had the support role. But the fact of the matter is as partners, we're not the ones getting the injections. We're not the ones with the changes happening in our body. So it is a little hard. I remember some conflict happening where, you know, I would be telling somebody, Oh, the injections are going great. And my wife would be saying like, don't answer for me. You know, I have my own experience with what I'm dealing with. So, you know, and Rena I've said this to you before requires a level of partnership that is just not for beginners. This is advanced level stuff. I say the highest level of husbandry if you're married to your partner and you're a husband, but it's just, this is, there are a lot of pitfalls that you can become subject to. So it requires a lot of care and a lot of consideration the way you treat everything.
Rena: What are some pitfalls that you think people should look out for?
Steve Moskowitz: Well, I think the biggest pitfall and it's a little bit of a cliche, a little bit of a trope, but in my particular situation, it seems to be true and I don't want to generalize all partners and all men, but there's a stereotype that men want to solve problems with facts and knowledge when sometimes their partners don't want that information. They want to be reassured. They don't want Dr. Google. They want, you know, something with a little bit more care and consideration and emotional support. So there's definitely been times when, you know, as the partner, I'm worried about whatever it is. And I want to make myself feel better with knowledge and my partner doesn't want that knowledge. So it requires some communication to figure out what does your partner actually need when they're going through a moment where they're have concern with whatever it is.
Rena: I think those are such good points and something I recommend to a lot of patients is sort of this code word, right? So, you know, as you said, sometimes, you know, men prefer facts. They want to know facts. Whereas women may need a hug or they may need to be, you know, just told everything's gonna be fine. And so sometimes I think having a code word could be helpful. So if your partner says the word cinnamon, you know that that means they just need a hug. They don't want you to tell them, you know, well, remember the statistics are X, Y, Z. They just want a hug. That's what they need. And vice versa that, you know, men should have their own code words as well, you know, for what you need too, because what you guys need may be different as individuals. But that doesn't mean that as a partnership, you can help each other each get what you want and need.
Steve Moskowitz: Yeah and I think the same thing applies to parenting, even though I haven't gotten to that part of my experience yet. I kind of think that stuff is probably true for parenting where you have to remember that your partner has their own way of approaching things. And my wife and I have actually talked about our different styles and how I kind of sometimes need things to be concrete. And she sometimes just needs reassurance. And I think for the partners listening, it's good to have that conversation, you know, before you're in a moment of conflict to figure out what your styles are.
Rena: Oh, absolutely. And I love that you touched upon also preparing for parenting as well. You know, I think you guys are doing everything that's so important, which is communicating and talking and preparing. And I think that's all super important. You know, you guys, both the journey to conceive and then beyond, you know, are things that didn't come up, I would assume, you know, when you first got engaged, you first got married. Those weren't what you may have been thinking about and relationships require maintenance and constant communication and work, you know, and, and these things are stressful. And so I think it's super important to communicate and let others hold space for your feelings. Were there any resources that you found helpful or maybe even resources that you wanted, but that weren't there that you think could have been helpful throughout this process?
Steve Moskowitz: That's a great question. I mean, as far as resources go, I don't think that we used too many, especially in the early days. I mean, RMA is a great organization that has people like Rena. They have great nurses, they have great support. From an emotional physical perspective, I think that it's support for, especially for men, for partners is lacking. I mean, I definitely have used Reddit as a forum to find other people dealing with the same thing. They have pregnancy groups, they have men's groups for men who are about to become fathers, people who are trying to, you know, to have a baby, people who are pregnant after a loss. There's tons of great support there.
Rena: Okay. So Reddit groups were helpful?
Steve Moskowitz: Yeah. I mean, I did attend a in-person support group for infertility, which was interesting, but not really the right move for me. For me, it's, it's easier to just, when I have a need to talk about something or post, I can do that and people can respond if they have a relevant response or experience.
Rena: Were you able to talk about this with friends and family, or you kept this pretty close?
Steve Moskowitz: With some friends, close friends of my wife and myself we were definitely more open about it, but it really depends on a person's perspective. I found that my friends who don't have partners or children, they want to be there, but they don't really have the language or the knowledge to really understand. I find that the more a person struggled themselves, the more they have the capacity for understanding. So that kind of helps you understand or helps you choose who to reveal things to. Like, we have a close friend who had some, like they had a child preterm and they actually lost two children, like, sort of late term stillbirths. So that friend was able to hold onto these feelings and understand and process them and be able to come at it from a place of being emotive and supportive, but not all friends are able to do that. And I think it's, it's good to have friends you can turn to, but it's also good to know which friends that might be.
Rena:Totally. I think that's a great point. And I think to understand, you know, to just have, it's important to communicate to a partner, you know, I always stress the importance of setting up friends and family for success. And as you noted, you know, friends who either went through something similar, or maybe they had a loss or had difficulty with conceiving or birth, et cetera, you know, they can understand because they get it, right, on a personal level. But friends that didn't or family that, you know, doesn't understand or have experience, it may be harder for them to understand. And so oftentimes people get really upset because they say, well, you know, my mom just said, well, why don't you adopt? Or why don't you just relax? Or you're working too hard. And that's not helpful because that doesn't solve the problem in that makes me then feel really guilty. And so I always, you know, counsel people, you need to set someone up for success. So a lot of times people, they just don't know what to say. You know, if you're disclosing to a friend or family member, the odds are, they care about you. They want the best for you and they want to solve your problem. And the only way to solve this, you know, what you really want is a healthy live birth. No one can give that to you. And so then they say things that they think will lead you there, which, you know, to those that are going through this may seem really insensitive. You know, like why don't you just adopt or you're working too hard. That's not helpful to you. And so I say, it's really important to set them up for success and tell them what you need. You know, do you need them to give them a hug? Do you need them to text you every day to check in? Or do you need them not to ask you, but you just wanted to let them know and then if there's something to say, you know, you'll tell them.
Steve Moskowitz:Yeah. The one that people will get a lot is, Oh, you can always do IVF. And it's something that people in my life have been guilty of. And now that I've done three rounds of IVF with my wife, I know the ins and outs of it, as you know, from that perspective. And it's not nothing, you know, like if that's an option and it's on the table for you, it's a great option, but it requires commitment. It requires time and money. And it's not a guarantee, unfortunately, that you'll get to where you want to go. So it's really frustrating when people use that as, Oh, you can always just do IVF because it's a great, scientific, it works, but it's not nothing to do.
Rena: That's a really good point. What would be the most helpful to you do you think? You know, if you told someone what would have been a really supportive, empathic response?
Steve Moskowitz: Well, maybe this should be a subject of a future show where you have other people on the periphery, like parents, siblings, friends, be able to talk about their experience. But for me, it's almost less what they say and more about what they do. Sometimes you just need someone to make space for you to express yourself and for you to feel heard. Sometimes that's the best thing a friend can do.
Rena: I like that. I think that's really good advice, you know? So someone just listen.
Steve Moskowitz: Yeah. Because the thing, and I find this in my work all the time, people are always looking to use the past as a way to figure out what the future will look like. And unfortunately with fertility and with children and childbirth, every experience is completely unique from the last one. And there's no patterns, there's no rhyme or reason to a lot of it. So to look back and say, Oh, we got pregnant doing this. Or we, you know, whatever the situation is, it can be really tempting to look back at patterns, but it doesn't end up being very helpful. At least in my experience.
Rena: I think that's human nature because people want to have certainty, right? Especially with this, they want to say, well, you know, A plus B equals C. So if we do this, you know, we're going to get what we want because they feel uncertain and out of our control.
Steve Moskowitz: Yeah. My wife's a teacher and we find that the time we had a natural conception was during summer break and we were not, you know, at home. So we wondered, Oh, maybe we need to be on vacation in the summer for this to work for us. And obviously, you know, I don't think that that's why it worked, but you know, you start going down these, these rabbit holes of looking for patterns where maybe there aren't any
Rena: Sure, right. You want to make sense of it. You know, you want answers and you want it to make sense because so often with this, it doesn't, and there really is no rhyme or reason. And it's just, you know, kind of going through the journey,
Steve Moskowitz: That's it. It's taking each experience as it comes and almost taking it day by day or month by month. And it can be really frustrating when it's not happening. I remember counting the months down saying, all right, we've been trying three months, four months, five months. And the more months that passed, the more of a failure, like we felt. And it's a really difficult feeling. And it's a really damaging feeling to feel like this is something that's your fault when it really, it isn't your fault. And there might be problems that need to be resolved that are beyond your control.
Rena: Is that something that you struggled with a lot, the feeling that it was your fault?
Steve Moskowitz: Definitely. When we were, before we started getting help from RMA, it definitely felt like, all right, there's something wrong. And this isn't happening. Everyone says it's supposed to happen within like, you know, a year or six months or nine months. And it wasn't happening. And it was like, Rachel bought a fertility bracelet to track her cycle. And we used apps and we used, you know, every which way we looked at it and it just doesn't didn't seem to be working. And in the reality of our situation was my wife had fibroids that needed to be surgically removed for her to be able to have a successful pregnancy. And if you just go down that road of just trying without getting the proper interventions, it might never lead you to success. I had a doctor to say, Oh, you need to relax. You need, you know, it'll happen. And that's just terrible advice.
Rena: I agree. I agree. And I think the feelings of guilt and shame are something that are felt pretty much across the board. And I often tell patients, you know, it's, it's almost biblical in a sense, you know, not in a religious way, but you know, it almost goes back to Adam and Eve and feeling like, you know, we were put on this earth and our biological innate right is to reproduce. And when that's taken away from us and we can't do it naturally, and we need assistance, there's a lot of guilt and shame and feelings of failure and inadequacy that go with that.
Steve Moskowitz: Like I said earlier, they don't tell you in health class that you might have this problem. I saw a urologist at the beginning of this journey. And he basically said to me, the people I see are people like you, you know, early thirties, urban professionals, white collar type people. Like those are the, you know, the people that are struggling are not, you know, 20 year olds. They don't tell you this in health class that, you know, the older you become, the harder it becomes.
Rena: Right. You know, I think a common theme that people always say to me is, you know, I spent my whole life trying not to get pregnant and now I want to, and it's so much harder than I thought. You know, why didn't anybody tell me this?
Moskowitz: Yeah. And I understand that when you're a teenager, they're just telling you what they need to tell you so that you take this seriously, so you don't have unintended consequences. But they don't tell you in your twenties that it's going to get harder. It may get harder for you.
Rena: Right. So I guess looking back, you know, on your journey or even your younger self, are there any sort of words of wisdom or advice that you would say, you know, now in retrospect?
Steve Moskowitz: Yeah. That's so hard to think about, to go back and to think about what you tell yourself at every stage of the journey. Because at that time you really don't know what's coming forward, but I guess I would just tell myself to take it one thing at a time. You know, you can think ahead and say, all right, like if you're listening to this program and you're still trying naturally, and it's been three months or four months, you might be thinking, Oh man, I need to go into RMA and have IUI or have IVF, but you might not be there yet. And that's okay to be in your own moment and focusing on your own task that's ahead of you, which is, if you're trying naturally to focus on optimizing your chances there. It's definitely easy to count the months, go down and feel like you're a failure and that's definitely easy to do, but not helpful and I would say not accurate because there's so many factors at play. It's actually amazing how all of this stuff happens from a, you know, a biology perspective and the odds are really against conception happening pretty much constantly. So when it does happen, it's pretty miraculous.
Rena: Absolutely. I totally agree. And I think that's something that a lot of people don't realize too, right? They think it's very easy. You know, there's so much social media out there that makes it look easy or they feel like, Oh, well, you know, a friend or a friend of a friend, they tried for one month easy, but it is hard. And, you know, miscarriages are unfortunately really common. You know, I always say it's a marathon, not a sprint.
Steve Moskowitz: Yeah. And talking about the miscarriages I faced, I mean, they were, I hope people don't go through it. I mean, they're traumatic, they're unpleasant. And they put fear in you for when you do have a pregnancy, that's going, well. My wife and I have been on eggshells for basically this entire pregnancy that is, you know, getting to be close to its ending because you're always afraid that something could happen where it will lead to the end of the pregnancy with a negative outcome. And one of the worst parts is now that your, your eyes are open to the realities of miscarriage. You're always afraid of it because you have no control over it.
Rena: Totally. And I think, you know, it's important to know that I think it really is important for people to have support, you know, build out your village. I mean, to let other people hold space for your feelings. There are so many support groups out there, individual therapists who can help you through this to hopefully get you to a place of being able to enjoy a pregnancy. I mean, because anxiety after that, or even after a fertility journey is extremely common.
Steve Moskowitz: I won't speak for my wife and I won't speak for others, but for myself dealing with two miscarriages, I would say the emotions are intense, but the earlier it happens in a pregnancy journey. I think, I mean, for me, I will say that the first miscarriage was devastating, but it was something I was able to get past after a few months. The second one was pretty similar. It happened a little later, around 10 weeks, and it was through, it was an IVF pregnancy so I had more assurances that it would work. But for me, I was able to work through those feelings and I would attribute it for me, kind of like a bad breakup. Like, you grieve and you're able to move past it. And the sting, at least in my case, was able to go away after, you know, I took the steps I needed to, and that might not be true for everybody that, but that's what happened in my situation.
Rena: Well what were the steps that were helpful for you, you know, in terms of mourning a loss?
Steve Moskowitz: Taking time with my wife. I mean, our friends who knew about the miscarriage were very kind and warm and sympathetic and were able to help us hold these feelings and be an outlet for us, our families as well. Really time has a great way of healing. I mean, when you look back on an experience like that, it still has a little sting to it, but you know, the level of devastation I think probably varies from person to person and situation to situation. But for me, it was something I was able to move past after some time.
Rena: Do you feel like overall the experience, you know, both the fertility journey and everything that came with it, you know, the loss, everything, would you say that overall it strengthened your partnership?
Steve Moskowitz: I mean, definitely strengthened our partnership because it forced us to communicate about things and about our feelings in a way that we, you know, we were married about a year when we started our fertility journey so we were still newlyweds. I mean, we had been together for a long time, but you know, being married changed how we communicate and then going through this fertility journey, forced us to really think about our feelings and the way we relate to each other. And now I'm not perfect. I make mistakes in how I communicate with my wife. She, I would say does not make mistakes cause she's a more thoughtful person than I am in that regard. But you know, you learn and you grow from every experience.
Rena: Sure. And what about you as an individual? Do you feel like the journey helped you realize things about yourself and grow and evolve?
Steve Moskowitz: I learned that people are really resilient. The experience I compare this to is I graduated from college, the beginning or the middle of the recession that happened around the financial crash. And it took me a long time to find a job. And for a long time, I attributed that year that it took me to get on my feet as the most difficult period of my life. I now regard that as my second most difficult period with this fertility journey being the most difficult because you're really just relying on a lot of things outside your control, but through it with communication, with being with your partner and focusing on each other, you can get through it. And just, I learned how resilient a person can be when they're put through adversity.
Rena: I think that's a really powerful and valuable lesson and something I say to people often, you know, I know it's really hard to see that when you're in it, because when you're in it, I know it seems like this sort of dark tunnel with, with no light at the end. But I do think once you're out of it, and maybe you can either confirm or deny this, you know, that that is how you feel. You say, wow, you know, that was super painful. And usually the most difficult thing people have faced, but you do hopefully tap into your strength and, and emerge, you know, feeling stronger, both as an individual and in a partnership, if you know, partnership is part of your journey.
Steve Moskowitz: Yeah. I mean, as a society, we're living through this global pandemic and it's very much the same in the sense that at the very beginning, we were going through upheaval and we had to relearn how to live basically from home in lockdown, wearing masks, working differently. If we're dealing with job loss, if that happened. And it's the same with these, with the fertility journey in the sense that you can adapt, you can be resilient, you know, doing the shots for my wife meant I had to be home in the evenings to be able to do them for her, sort of changed up my routine. You know, you can get through anything and you can learn that you can get through anything when you put your mind to it. And however, your fertility journey ends, whether it's through, you know, surrogacy or IVF or adoption, you know, there is your goal of having a family at the end of the tunnel. It's worth it.
Rena: I think your words are so inspiring and, and real, and I know will resonate with many. So I guess, do you have any other sort of final thoughts or parting words of wisdom for anyone that's going through this?
Steve Moskowitz: The thing that I wish was different was nobody ever talks about their experiences. When you go through fertility journey and you open up to people, you'll find that people that you know, in your life are going to come forward and tell you that they struggled or that they had miscarriages or that they got their family in a way that they hadn't anticipated. So I would say if you have the courage to open up to people in your life about what you're feeling and what you're going through, you'll find that more people than you had expected had also dealt with this and got to where they wanted to be. And it's possible for that to happen to you, even though it's really difficult and it might not feel like it can happen.
Rena: Then that's such great advice. And, you know, whenever anyone asks me about my own personal journey, I sort of say the same thing that the silver lining was that I met so many people who had gone through it or who were going through it, or, you know, when I started to become more open about what I was going through, people came out of the woodwork, you know, from kind of all walks of life, you know, to tell me that they had gone through it or were going through it. And that was really, really powerful and really sort of reaffirmed the beauty and humanity. You know, people there to support you, you know, it's sort of like the secret club you never wanted to belong to, but once you're in, you know, you're in and it's, it's powerful. It's a really powerful connection I think, to have with people.
Steve Moskowitz: Yeah. This experience changes your outlook on all of these things forever. If you're a person who knows me in real life, but you don't know me, you know, and I haven't told you that I'm expecting a child, you would have no way of knowing that because I don't post about it on social media. I don't really talk about it in a public way, other than this appearance, because I don't want people who are struggling to feel bad. And my wife feels the same way. We saw people having their success and being able to share that with people and we were happy for them, but it was hard for us. So we don't really go so public about what's happening in our personal lives in this way, because we don't want other people to feel bad.
Rena: Well, I think, and you know, that's something you and I talked about before you came on, you know, and I said, would it be okay to share with listeners that you are expecting? You know, because you had said you didn't want to because you didn't want people to feel bad. And I had said, well, that's of course, absolutely your personal choice and that's yours to decide. But, you know, I said, I, I actually find that people, they do want other people to have success. They do find it hopeful. You know, they want to know that other people's journeys ended, you know, with this happy ending. But I think as you touched upon, it can be so difficult when you're going through it to see all these posts or every time you find out another friend or family member is pregnant. You know, it's kind of like a knife twisting a little bit, and it's really hard to deal with.
Steve Moskowitz: Yeah. My sister-in-law who part of the reason we started our fertility journey was from seeing her interacting with our first niece, had a second niece while we were going through this. And that was difficult for us to feel like here we haven't even had one child and here's someone having two, and having them, you know, obviously everybody has their own story, but it felt like they got what they wanted without having the same kind of struggle we had.
Rena: I remember, you know, just kind of when you guys were going through that, and I think that's a very common scenario. And I think it's really hard because, you know, how do you navigate that when it's a, you know, a friend or family member that you love so much and, you know, that means you're going to, you know, maybe become an aunt or an uncle, but how do you navigate that? How do you kind of balance your own feelings of sadness with that? And it's difficult.
Steve Moskowitz: Yeah it Is difficult, but I will tell you right now that being an uncle has been extremely rewarding for me and having two nieces has been amazing. And when I started my fertility journey, I didn't have much baby experience and I didn't even know how to talk to kids. And now that I have two nieces who are young, I've gotten a lot of experience. I've changed a couple of diapers. I play with them and it's really showed me another side to children that I hadn't even seen before. So in that way, it's been a real blessing.
Rena: Well, I love that and I love it. And I think, you know, you're so lucky. I mean, I think too you, you guys are so caring, you know, to even think about, well, I don't know if I should share, you know, sort of that now we're expecting and emerging because I don't want anyone else to feel upset, you know, because that's how I felt.
Steve Moskowitz: Yeah and social media can feel really inauthentic, especially these days where people are trying to live their best lives and interacting and their primary social outlet is social media that, you know, you don't always know the real story behind the picture that you're seeing. And I think that's important to remember.
Rena: Totally. I think, you know, most of my patients know I'm pretty big on a digital detox or, you know, really limiting your social media exposure because I think it can be super triggering and really take you out of just being present and experiencing real joy. You know, and I think joy is something that comes from within pleasure is, is more based on external factors. And, you know, research shows that joy is what's really important to have in our life.
Steve Moskowitz: That’s a great point and great advice. I mean, so I look at my wife's Instagram feed sometimes when she's on it and it actually seems super damaging. I don't know how she, she looks at it. There's all these influencers and people pregnant, people doing all these different things. And I just, you know, it's definitely something that can be a little bit concerning to see the kind of stuff that we're inundated with all the time. And this comes from somebody whose livelihood comes from advertising.
Rena: Yeah. I mean, I agree. I think it's definitely, it's definitely difficult, you know, and really building out those supports and finding, you know, a couple of great people that you can confide in that you have to call or text or lean on is really important. And so definitely check in with yourself to see, you know, is social media triggering you. And if it is, you know, again, really work to limit yourself or just sort of say, I'm going to take a week away.
Steve Moskowitz: Yeah and I want to say, you know, if you're considering reproductive assistance, RMA has been terrific. Some of the criticism that people have said about it being really large, I think is actually a huge advantage that you have a great team of doctors and nurses. And then you have support staff like Rena, who has been great for us to have as a resource as well as the fact that she needed to have this fibroid surgery and they have surgeons that work at RMA. And everyone's been absolutely amazing and so friendly and welcoming throughout the entire journey.
Rena: Well we, of course always love to hear that. And you know, it's always such an honor and a privilege to be a part of someone's journey. It really is. So I, you know, definitely hold space for that. And, you know, I'm so grateful that, you know, I have this relationship with both you and Rachel and now you guys are both on the podcast. You know, again, Rachel Steve's wife is on episode 39 so she talks about her perspective on that one. And, you know, Steve, I'm so grateful for speaking up and saying, Hey, do you need a male? You know, let me come on.
Steve Moskowitz: Yes thank you for having me on the show. I'd love to be able to, if anyone, you know, feels like this has been helpful for them, it makes me so happy to be able to contribute and make people feel a little better about their journeys.
Rena: Well, I know this will will resonate with many, you know, and I think you're so brave to speak up and I think it's really, really wonderful. And the way we like to kind of conclude the episodes on a note of positivity and so I always like to have each of us share a gratitude or something we're grateful for. So do you want to share something you're grateful for today or every day or anything? **Steve Moskowitz:**Yeah, my wife and I recently moved. We got an apartment outside the city and after living with her in-laws for the duration of the pandemic, which was a great experience. I'm so grateful for it to be just my wife and myself again, like it used to be. It is so nice to have just the time for the two of us. So, um, I'm grateful just to have time just for the two of us to be together. **Rena:** That's so nice. You know, I'm really grateful for people like you. You know, you and Rachel are both just the warmest loveliest people, and this has been such a whirlwind year and I'm so grateful that, you know, even in spite of everything that you guys have been through in your own lives, everything that, you know, you're so willing to take the time and, and really step outside yourself and do something like this and talk about your experience. You know, I know you have so much going on, a move and, you know, a new baby coming soon. And so to take the time to, I really, really honor that and really grateful for just, you know, kind people and people who in the midst of, you know, what's been such a crazy and tumultuous year, you know, that you can still take the time to give back, I think is amazing. **Steve Moskowitz:** I’m happy to do it, appreciate the opportunity to share my experience. And I hope people listening were able to get something out of it. **Rena:** I'm sure. So thank you so much. **Steve Moskowitz:** Thank you. **Dara:** Thank you so much for listening today and always remember: practice gratitude, give a little love to someone else and yourself, and remember you are not alone. Find us on Instagram @fertility_forward and if you're looking for more support, visit us at www.rmany.com and tune in next week for more Fertility Forward.