Ep 58: Speaking Your Truth with Jenna Wolfe
Fertility Forward Episode 58:
At some point, you have to realize that it is your life, and you have to do what you have to do to find your peace and your happiness. These are the words of Jenna Wolfe, who is today’s guest on Fertility Forward. Jenna is the host of First Things First, a daily morning sports talk show on FOX Sports 1, where she talks sports, adds a little comic relief, and sprinkles in the occasional Seinfeld reference. Before that, she was the first-ever lifestyle and fitness correspondent on NBC’s Today Show. Jenna wrote her first book, Thinner in Thirty, outlining a 30-day diet and fitness plan in her charismatic voice. She is a certified personal trainer, health and wellness expert, and motivational speaker, and when she’s not running, squatting, lunging, and bear-crawling a million miles an hour in one direction, she is usually happily doing it in another. Join us today as Jenna shares her own personal story and struggles through fertility, conception, pregnancy, and being a mom, not to mention working in a high-profile job and taking huge public steps to tell her truth. Tune in and enjoy!
Rena: Hi everyone. 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 for medical professionals, mental health specialists, wellness experts, and patients, because knowledge is power and you are your own best advocate.
Rena: I'm so, so excited to welcome to Fertility Forward today, Jenna Wolfe. She is the host of First Things First, a daily morning sports talk show on Fox Sports One where she talks sports, adds a little comic relief and sprinkles in the occasional Seinfeld reference. Before that she was the first ever lifestyle and fitness correspondent on NBC's Today Show. Jenna wrote her first book, Thinner in Thirty, outlining a 30 day diet and fitness plan in her charismatic voice. Prior to joining NBC News in 2007, the self-proclaimed daredevil and thrill-seeker spent 12 years as a sportscaster. Wolfe is a certified personal trainer health and wellness expert and motivational speaker. When she's not running and squatting and lunging and bear crawling a million miles an hour in one direction, she's usually in happily doing it in another. Jenna lives in New York City with her partner, Stephanie Gosk and their two little girls, Harper and Quinn. Yay. Thank you so much for coming. I feel like we have a lot in common.
Jenna Wolfe: So I hear. I know I'm excited to finally connect with you.
Rena: really, really excited and so excited to share your story. I'm looking at these adorable pictures behind you and your zoom of you with your kids when it looks like they were much younger. They're so adorable.
Jenna Wolfe: The younger they are, the quieter and sweeter they are. Then they get older and sassy and then all of a sudden you're like, can you be young again? It's a whole big cycle.
Rena: Tell me everything. Where did it begin? Tell me about your journey.
Jenna Wolfe: How far back do you want me to go? I mean, I feel like my whole life is one big Seinfeld episode. So each chapter is another funny episode that will have you being like, are you sure all of this happened in your life? I'm like, no, it all happened. Trust me, but I could start with me and Steph or…
Rena: Yeah, let's start with where sort of the family building thing is. Did you, is that a journey you started yourself? Were you already with Stephanie?
Jenna Wolfe: So just to go a little further back, I was never the kid that always wanted to be a mom. It was never my thing. I was the crazy, you know, thrill-seeking, you know, amusement park riding, I want to see the world, I want to do everything. I never once had this fantasy of like walking down the aisle and having children and being a mom. And you know, it just hits you when it hits you. And when it does, and that sort of train comes pulling in, like it pulls in, it grabs you and it takes you. And the only way you fully understand it is when you're on board that train. And if you haven't been through that process, once you do go through that process, you'll understand. And I had dated people before and that train never came in. I never felt it. And I was working at the Today Show. I was hosting Weekend Today with Lester Holt and Stephanie was a Stephanie Gosk, a correspondent. She was based in London. She had been there for a few years. I got sent to London to cover Wimbledon. She was working at the NBC Bureau and I was coming in and she was coming out and our eyes sort of met. Now, I had known her, but she was just the correspondent with more now here, Stephanie Gosk, to me, that was the extent of our relationship. Then she would do a piece and it would come back to me. And I saw her for the first time and there was something there and fast forward a couple months, they flew her into New York to re-sign her contract. And that's what they do with their foreign correspondents. And we had lunch and that was it. And that sort of began this really great two year, long distance relationship. She was in London. I was still here in New York and I worked weekends and she worked during the week and somehow we made that like seven hour, you know, international commute work. Don't ask me how but we did. And it was intense and sort of, you know, it felt real enough that we knew this was a real thing. And shortly before NBC moved her to New York and we'd been dating for two years. We were both older. We met older. I, I think I was maybe 37 when we met. By the time I was 39 we knew that if this was the path we were going in and we did want to eventually have kids, we needed to have this conversation pretty quickly. And at the time she was traveling internationally a ton. And I always had to be in New York to host the weekend show. That's basically how we came to the decision that I was going to carry first. Again, I was still not a thousand percent sold on it because you meet with a doctor and you're these two women, and there's no natural way of this happening. And the doctor gives you a laundry list of about 4,000 things that you're going to need to do to go from two women sitting in your office to two women sitting at home and holding your baby. And it was so just wildly overwhelming to me, this to-do list. In a million years, I never thought I'm like, we're never going to get to the end of the list. Like I don't see how this ends in us, just like holding the kid. Tests and appointments and like paperwork and sending things and finding things. And you know, it really is a tedious process, but if it's something that you want badly enough, you know, you, you hit them like bowling pins. It's one pin at a time and you go step by step and you figure it out. And I think it was after that first doctor's appointment when we walked out that it kind of hit me and I looked at her and I was like, no, no, I, I really want to do this. I really want to do this. And you can't get excited and skip to step eight because it can't work that way. There's too many biological things that happened between step one and eight. But that was sort of how we got to that point and how the process started. I know everyone's journey is different and everyone's path is different. And there are various levels of like mountains and molehills along the way to get to that process. So that was and I’ll sort of stop there, but that's where it was, where it all started for us. And that's when that, that feeling I described earlier of the train pulling in, like, once you feel it, that rush come, you'll do anything you can to get yourself to the end zone, to finally have that baby, which is what we wanted.
Rena: Sure. I mean, so how was that for you? You know, you touched on it being super overwhelming and like so many people it's this process kind of helps you discover all these things about your body or conceiving a child that you never would have known. You never wanted to know. And now it's like, hold on a second. And it’s a lot.
Jenna Wolfe: It's a lot. Even if you're having a baby, let's call it the old fashioned way, where in a straight relationship together, and you do your thing and get pregnant and you have a baby, and you're not sure when exactly it's going to happen. There's a layer of unpredictability to it. This is different because you're doing everything. It's a very calculated process, the way Steph and I did it where, you know the timeline, you know, you got to find out when you're ovulating, you got to know when you're going to try, you know, you got all of those things have to happen, and I will take you back even further because a lot of people are curious about it and don't really understand well, where does, where, who is, is you? Do you know the father? Is it something, is it a friend? And everyone's decision, whatever decision you decide to make is your decision and it's the right one for you. For us, it was really important to us that we did not know who the donor was. We wanted our children to have two parents that, you know, me and Stephanie, whoever the birth mother was going to be and the other partner. So to have the donor in our lives was not something we wanted. So we were very careful about making sure this was an anonymous donor, went to a Cryobank, if you will. And, and you are essentially, you know, you're choosing who you want the donor to be based on the things that you don't get if you go to a bar and you find someone attractive and you meet them and you fall in love and you don't, no one was walking around with a piece of paper tied to their chest, like with their family history and like, I majored in this, in college and I enjoy chicken and the color blue, like, and here's a sound of my voice. And here's some staff impressions here are my friend's impressions of me. Like people don't walk around and hand that out. And then you look at it and be like, I think I'm going to take you home. It's just not how it works. And it is how it works here if you want to do at least in our process. So you basically essentially go out and choose a donor based on health and family history and how tall they are, what kind of activities they like to do, how athletic they are, how musically inclined they are, what their studies were in school. It's really a surreal process that you're cutting out all the like spontaneity and the unpredictability of just meeting someone. And you're pinpointing not directly into a little tiny, like first with certainty, but for the most part, you know, you're, you're in a zone where you're picking from. So it took us a while. And we did that process while Steph was in London where we had to whittle down. I think we came up with like 250 - based on our qualifications - samples. And we had to come up with like one or two which is really hard because you just met this person and now you're dating, but like now you have to figure this out. So once we got through that process, which in and of itself is kind of a tedious process if you've never been for it. I don't even think my parents fully understand how we did it. There's so many things involved. There's a million phone calls and you have to like move it with like certain equipment. And that was like the first couple of months of what we had to process and deal with. And then we first had to wrap our head around the fact that I had to make sure I was healthy. I did a thousand different tests. I had to finally really get in touch with my body, which I never did before. Like, not just know when I'm menstruating, but know exactly when you're ovulating because you have like a specific window that you better get yourself to a specific place and you got to cut the line and make sure you're in there. So you have like this doctor, and then other doctor, who's your fertility doctor, this person. So, and don't get me started on the paperwork because in your lifetime, you will not fill out more paperwork, I think, then if you are a woman who is having a baby this way, I'm convinced of it. It’s the most paperwork I've ever seen in my entire life. Again, I would not trade any of that for these two beautiful children that I have. It's all worth it, but it's a big process. It's a long process. And all of that, which I've skipped a lot is just to get to the point where maybe you could take a chance of hoping that you get pregnant. And I was age 39. I mean, that's not, I wasn't young. So it was, it was a lot of conversations. It was a lot of waiting. It was, it was quite a few headaches. It was a ton of doctor's appointments. We went through like four different pens full of filling out all that paperwork. My process was, I was so blessed. We didn't have to do IVF. I was able to do IUI, which is for lack of a better term, basically turkey basting is what it is. It's just, let's go. I mean, it's the easiest way to do all the stuff that I did and I'm very, very lucky. I was very healthy and, and it worked for me and I'll get to what happened with Stephanie in a little bit, but that's, that was about a year long process. So just getting all the ducks in order so that you could get ready to try to be pregnant. Now remember all of that stuff I did over like eight months is the equivalent of just like a roll in the hay. You know, like one great night. And so I think a lot of people don't often realize how much you have to go through when you do need that other being in to help facilitate the process.
Rena: And I think you'd touched on something that is so important, you know, the time, right? All the doctor's appointments, all the paperwork. And so, you know, because people ask me this all the time about whether or not to disclose to work and what they should say. And they're so afraid, you know, so you and Stephanie, both, you know, high profile, busy jobs. Did you disclose this to your workplace when you were doing it? Or did you keep it quiet? How did you kind of balance that?
Jenna Wolfe: So our process and our situation was, was very different. I everyone's is. It's the beautiful thing about this. It's what I tell people. When they ask me how to get into TV. It's, it's, it's amazing. No two people ever get into TV the same way. None. There are not two people on the planet who took the exact same path. And it's the same way with basically having a baby. Everyone's got their own story which is why it's such a beautiful story. Stephanie and I met. We were out to our friends and to our family, but I wasn't out to my Today Show audience quite yet. It took us three times to try. So we tried for three different months. And on the third month I got pregnant with Harper. So now I'm pregnant. We still didn't say anything to anyone yet. And I wasn't showing until about four months in. About three and a half months, I knew we were going to go from not showing and if you saw the dresses I used to wear on the Today Show. It was like these thin, slinky, you know, if you had a larger than normal breakfast, you would see it in this kind of dress that they put you in. There was no hiding four months of pregnancy. So we had to make a decision and I had to do one of two things. It was either I'm coming out to everybody and I'm letting them know that I'm pregnant and Stephanie is my partner or I'm pregnant and the rest is none of anyone's business, which would have been far worse. It would have opened the book to like a thousand questions and rumors and all of it. And there was nothing to hide. I didn't, Steph and I weren't hiding anything. We just didn't want to flaunt it in anyone's face. So we sort of, we were approached by People Magazine to do like a story for them at the same time, while we were going to come out on the Today Show and I did it one morning, you can Google it. I actually was very proud of all the things I'm not proud of that you can Google. This one I actually was very happy with. And it was a very sort of, matter of fact, Matt Lauer sat next to him and he was like Jenna Wolfe is here. She has an announcement to make and it was one of those it's now or it's too late. And it was now. And the minute I said it, my life was going to be changed forever. And I had to be okay with that. Like I just didn't know what the repercussions were going to be about saying something like this. And I chose now and I said, Stephanie Gosk, partner dating, and we're going to have a baby and four months pregnant and the whole bit and everyone applauded. And it was really sweet and it was nice and happy, you know? And I, and I remember taking this long walk back to my office after I got off the set. And I didn't know what was waiting for me, if there was going to be just a barrage of just hate calls. I dunno, I, I expected the worst I did. I shouldn't have, I shouldn't have, and there was nothing, there was not one. It was a lot of support and congratulations. And it made me feel really wonderful and the show embraced it. And they embraced Stephanie as my partner and eventually my wife and we both worked a ton. You know, and I worked up until I think I worked the weekend, I worked that Sunday and then I had to, I worked Sunday Today Show and then on Wednesday I had the baby. So I worked pretty much up until the end. I did that with both kids, but the show embraced it and the Today Show audience embraced it. And that's a lovely audience. It's our demographic. And I have not had any issues whatsoever. And now of course everyone's, everyone's, everyone's having babies. So it's not, there was nothing strange or different right now about it. But the process was really like in hindsight, once it was done, I enjoyed looking back on the process. I liked the fact that there was a lot of work involved. I liked the fact that I had to go through a lot of hoops because I got what I wanted. I got to be with the person that I wanted. I got to have a baby at the end of it, you know? And knock on wood. I was, you know, it was, it was healthy and everything kind of went well. I mean, there were some issues at the very end having the baby, but for the most part that the nine months leading up to Harper coming out was supportive and it was really a nice process.
Rena: I mean, that's incredible and so inspiring. I mean, what a powerful moment to be brave and speak your truth and just put it out there, right? What would you say to someone who sort of wants to do that, but their scared. I mean, you said that you had family and friends, so you're super lucky in that aspect. The workplace was different. So what do you say to someone who's scared and they have this truth. They want to speak it, but they're scared. What gave you the grit to get out there and do it in such a public way?
Jenna Wolfe: Because I know where I wanted to be. Right? I wanted to be. there was a big hurdle between where I was and where I wanted to be. And there's no way to get, there's no way to get to the place you want to be without going over that hurdle. So you could sit at the foot of it for minutes and hours and days, and months, and years, and be afraid. And I get that. I will never push anyone to do something that they are not ready to do. Everyone lives on their own timeline. And I fully embrace and get that. But you'll never get to the place you want to be. If you don't climb that hurdle. And that hurdle is not going to be fun to climb, it's going to be uncomfortable. You’re going to scrape your knee, you might scrape your ego and you might be egg on your face or whatever it is, whatever situation you're in, you have to get there. Right? Nothing changes if nothing changes. So I used to say, when I trained clients, they'd always be like, Oh, it's a lot. I'm like, I know. But if you really, really, truly want your life to change, then you have to change your life. You can't say it. Hope for it. Wish for it. Pray for it. You've got to actually do it. And the actually doing it, that, that like part, that's tough. Like it's easy for me to wake up and brush my teeth and stretch and workout and be like, I am going to do it today, but doing it up until that, right at the foot of that mountain, you got to actually take that first step and you have to do it and it will be scary and it will be terrifying. And you don't know what's coming the think about where you want to be. Noone's doing it for you. No, one's holding your hand. I can't come out for you. I can't tell someone I'm pregnant for you. That's the thing that you have to do yourself. And if it's truly important to you to get to the other side, you gotta climb that thing. You gotta, you know, I say it all the time. Nothing changes if nothing changes, but you do it when you're ready. But just know when you do, I guarantee you, the way I liken it is - think about like two gigantic anvils that are sitting on your shoulder, just sitting there for years and years and years, to the point where you don't even realize you're carrying it around anymore. I promise you the same feeling I got. I sat on a national television show. The Today Show, one of the biggest shows on television. And I spoke my truth. And I remember right before I went out there and the commercial right before it, it was a, there's a bathroom right around the corner. And I looked at myself in the mirror and I was like, is this what I'm doing? Like, I don't know if I want to do this. Like my dad told me not to do it. You know, my dad said, this is going to ruin your career. A lot of people were like, you know, you don't know how people are going to react, but I knew where I needed to get, like I wanted to get to the point where it was no longer an issue where I was just happy and living my life. And there was only one way to get there. And it was to walk out and sit on that couch and do it. And it felt uncomfortable. And it was annoying. And I scraped my knees a few seconds before sitting down on the couch. But then when the moment comes, it's now or it's too late. If I sat there and I chickened out, it would have been too late. I would not have gotten that moment again. So I tell people like the really important things in life, they require effort and they require a little bit of discomfort, right? You got to step even if it's an inch, just a little bit outside that comfort zone, if you really want to experience growth and getting past that and telling your truth and speaking those words, that's growth. And you'll be so surprised what it feels like when those anvils are lifted. You don't know they're on there until they're off. And that's what happens. That's how it felt for me.
Rena: But I think, you know, it's like what I say to people all the time, the only way to do it is through it. We can sit here and I can give you all the tools. I can give you all the things, but I can not do the work for you. You know? So we can sit here in session and I can say these things, you need to be the change maker. You need to go out there and take the action. And that's how you're going to experience growth. And I love that you say nothing changes if nothing changes, because I say it all the time. I think that's something that, you know, even the pandemic has really taken away from us, right? Is that it's just been so much harder to get outside ourselves and go travel and do things that help us sort of exhale and zoom out and see what we want. And so again, we can read all the things we can know these great quotes. We can know what we have to do, but I can even say, personally, it's been so difficult. Like I know all the things, this is my line of work, but to not be able to really get outside myself and implement them was really, really tough. And so I think it's so inspiring, like, here's this example, and you said, people can Google it, see this moment you went out, you spoke your truth. And you know, you said you were super nervous before. Your dad had told you to do it. And then you went out there and you just walked through it. You know, you walked through your fear, you met it, head-on. You embraced it. And I think that's so inspiring.
Wolfe: Thank you. I'm eight years removed from it now. So you forget about it, but it was one of the defining moments of my life. And it would be for anyone who is making a big decision like this, that you will remember that moment for the rest of your life. So remember it as a strong defining somewhat uncomfortable, but powerful and empowering moment in your life. Think of it that way.
Rena: And I think that can be applied to sort of all areas of fertility, right? You know, cause people go through so many things between even not wanting to tell parents that they're even starting treatment because maybe of their religious background, cultural background. And so there's so much shame and stigma that goes with fertility or being infertile and people, they carry so much guilt and shame and suffer. And so, you know, again, to to feel like, let other people hold space for this, you know, and you, I think it's, it's really important to build out your village and give other people the chance to hold space and support you. And maybe they won't. And if they don't, what can you learn from that too? You know, how can you look at that and say, okay, I learned this about this person. How do I take that? And how do I grow from that?
Jenna Wolfe: Right. Listen, it's a, it's a really emotional process. You're messing with hormones and anytime you're dealing with hormones, no one's going to say, Hey, this is going to be easy. They're all going to say, it's going to be worth it in the end if you get the thing that you want. You know, so after I had the baby Steph was going to have our second, the second baby Quinn and she tried three or four times and she wasn't able to get pregnant. And she took some time. And I think that was a huge thing for her as a woman to say, well, she could have tried IVF and she didn't want to. She just didn't, she didn't want to go through it. She didn't want to put her body through it. It's your body. You do how much or how little you feel comfortable with and you want to do. And she took some time to think about it. And she said, I think you should try again, cause I'm not going to get pregnant. And I said, take some more time. This is the decision you're making. You know, once you make the decision, you can't, unmake it. Once I move forward, like that means you have to be comfortable not having. And she said, listen, I don't, again, I don't want to do it. I don't want to go through the IVF. You're able to do it in a easier way. If you will, a little bit easier, at least were able to with Harper. So why don't you go ahead and try? And she came to terms with it and she was really grounded about it. And we wanted to make sure it was the same donor so their biological sisters and we didn't have a ton of samples left. So I went in and on the second to last sample, I got pregnant and we were lucky again and knock on wood it was another relatively smooth pregnancy. I mean, they're her kids like they're my kids. I don't think they're any more mine than hers. And I think that that's what a lot of people who don't really fully understand the process. Those are some of the questions we get and I'm sure my parents, I'm sure there was a question that Steph and I both had about our parents. Like what if her parents look at the kids as, as much theirs because I had them with my parents. If Steph had a kid would the parents look at the kids the same way and you do. And it is, and everything falls into place because a family is a family at the end of it. And I think there's not so much anymore, but there was this stigma around same-sex couples raising kids. Two men raising a little girl or two women raising a little boy and people were asking us questions or what have you have a son? I'm like, well, what if, well, what if you have two little boys? Well, what if we have two little? Family is family and you figure it out. And if you can block out that noise and do what's important to you, regardless of you know, who has issues with what you're doing, whether it is your family or your parents or any of it, like you were talking about, you know, at some point in your life, it is your life and you have to do what you have to do to find your peace and to find your happiness. And if it's never getting over that hurdle, then it's never getting over that hurdle, but you have to find whatever it is makes you happy wherever it makes you happy. You have to find comfort in that because this idea of always living for someone else or living for the approval of someone else will literally spin you in circles. And it'll drive you mad in some way, shape or form. It just will.
Rena: Totally right are you going to live for you? Are you going to live for all these external factors live in fear and not live your truth. That's exhausting. So how was that for you as partners? You know, navigating that when Stephanie was trying to get pregnant, it wasn't working. You guys had a small child at home. Was that a strain? How did you kind of navigate that?
Jenna Wolfe: It was stressful because we were both working at the same job. Basically. We were both on air. We were both at the show and Harper, we started trying again when Harper was maybe seven months old. So it, yeah, it was baby baby Harper. So she tried for a couple months. And then by the time they're 17 months apart now. So I’m incapable of doing the math, even though I had both children, I still can't do it. I feel like I was pregnant for like five straight years. I was either pregnant or breastfeeding for five straight years. That's what I feel like I was. No, listen, it was, it would have been a worst process if she harbored guilt over or resentment towards any of it, which is why we had to have one of those really uncomfortable conversations where I said, are you sure this is how you feel like you're okay with this? Like I have to know for sure that once we move forward, you are not having this conversation again. You do what ever you need to do. Like you try you take time. I fully support it. She's like, no, I'm okay with it. I want you to go ahead and do it. But it was hard because when we did finally have Quinn, we had two babies under age two and we were, you know, two working moms and we didn't know what we were doing. Like that was the scariest thing is that they, when you're trying to have babies, they give you the most beautiful instruction manual. You know, like you have this doctor appointment on this date at this time to do this thing. And then you have this doctor appointment at this date and this time for this test, and then this thing it's tedious, but you have a whole list of things that you need to do in places you need to be in, tests that you need to undergo. But like, then they give you the baby and they're like, good luck. I'm like, what happened to all of the like, where, how do I, when do you figure, they're like, you know, we just got you the baby now you're on your own. So like, oddly enough, that process of getting pregnant while for a lot of people, it is really an emotional process or a painful process, or, you know, a tedious process. It's your thing. It's like that thing that gets you to having the baby, right? Whatever that thing is. And sometimes like, sometimes it means more when you went through like a lot, like you went through, we went through a lot to have this baby. Not any more than anyone else. I'm sure. And people have heartache and there's a lot involved in fertility and everyone's story is different. I mean, I have a friend who tried for years and years and years and years. And when I got pregnant, it broke my heart a little bit. And I had a hard time saying anything to her. And here she was, I mean, she had three or four miscarriages and she tried for years and just couldn't happen. And like I walked in and I got very lucky and I, you know, and I was able to get pregnant and I felt guilt. And I think it's a difficult topic because it is so emotional to so many different people and no one wants to throw their story in anyone's face. I mean, you know, a lot of my friends, I want to get pregnant this winter. So, you know, they're on their husband, they did their thing and they got pregnant over the winter. Like that's mind boggling to me. You know, we were like, I'd like to get pregnant at some point in my lifetime. What we went through was a lot. It's not nearly as much as someone that has fertility issues and has to go through IVF treatments. Like there's a lot, it's a huge thing. And I get it and everyone's journey is different. I bless everybody's journey, whatever it is, as long as it gets you to the place where, you know, you want to be and hopefully knock on wood, you're able to have a baby.
Rena: As you said, it's a lot. I think a lot of times people struggle because they feel like, well, I shouldn't feel bad about myself because so many people have it worse. Right? I've done three IUIs, but my friend has had 3 losses and 4 IVFs, so I should be happy. And I think, you know, as you touched upon everyone's journey is different. Your journey is yours and that is your experience. And you have every right to feel any way that you feel. In life there's always going to be someone that's quote unquote, better off than you or worse off from you and I think it's so important to accept where you're at and check in with your feelings and let them flow through you. And don't let anyone take that away. And I think as you said, too, it really can have an impact on other relationships, right? So, you know, you have a friend that's struggling and then here you are feeling guilty. Well, I quote unquote only went through this, right? You went through your journey. I think the empathic thing is to recognize, you know, there's intention versus impact. Right? And I really love that comment that, okay, well, my intent, when I speak to my friend, you know, may be to comfort her or to take care of her feelings, but the impact that it may have on her, someone who's struggling, I need to also look at that. And so I think to always be mindful and to think about that when you're sort of in this space, you know, how is this going to affect other people? You know, I know when I went through it myself to have my daughter, I went through a couple of years of fertility treatment and multiple rounds of IVF and I became really sensitive to people sharing pregnancy announcements on social media. And so I was so cognizant of not sharing anything, super aware of that and how my intentions around my own family building would impact other people going through it. And you know, now that I'm very zoomed out of my own experience and you know, my daughter's almost five, I can see a silver lining of my own journey was to understand that. I never would've had that perspective if I hadn't had the experience.
Jenna Wolfe: So it's interesting that you say that because I, as you're speaking, I was thinking to myself, was I sensitive to other people? And I, I wasn't insensitive, but I don't think that I, because I had my kids so late, you know, by age 39, all my friends had already had for the most part kids already in their like late twenties. So I was one of the, I was like the only whatever in my inner group of friends that was pregnant. I don't, you know, and I feel bad to my friend that I was telling you about earlier. She was the only one. And I, and I did feel bad, but I was also in a unique situation because the show really wanted to capitalize on the pregnancy. Here's this athletic supermom or whatever you want to call it and she's pregnant and she's still doing all these crazy things. And I was water-skiing, bungee jumping and I ran a Spartan race three months pregnant. I mean, like they still sent me out and did all these things and we talked about it a lot. We promoted it and we highlighted it and, you know, we celebrated it and I hope, and it's so interesting that you say that, and this is sort of real-time thinking myself right now. I hope that I wasn't insensitive to people that were out there trying, and here I was, but I don't think people realize what we went through to have the baby and what that process was because we kind of kept that whole process private for a number of reasons. One, I don't think anyone wanted to know. I mean, I don't think my dad really wants to know how I got pregnant, just that he has these two beautiful granddaughters. And I think a lot of people maybe didn't want to know that whole process. But for people that went through it, I am sure it must have been, you know, difficult to watch other people getting pregnant or birth announcements or, you know, especially now with social media, everything is everywhere. There's, there's nothing hidden anymore. And there's no, there's nothing out there that's sort of kept private. So that's a really interesting aspect of it that I didn't fully factor. But I will tell you that I feel a little bit now with like the COVID vaccine, every time someone, or when they, everyone got a slot or when everyone gets their COVID vaccine and they're posting it and I'm like trying tirelessly to try to get one slot and I'm like, all right, stop with your posting. I get it. Okay. Like, I get bitter about it. I'm like, eventually I'm going to get mine. So I, I can only imagine how it must feel for people to, I mean, cause the birth announcements are just all over the place and everywhere. That’s interesting.
Rena: Sure. And I think, you know, something I work with with clients on is, you know, that's life, we can't stop life. Right? But how do you then manage it? You know, how do you turn off the noise? How do you tolerate that when that's a trigger? And I think it's that sort of fine line. But I think just in terms of, you know, you went through this, you had your own journey. And so now you have the experience and I think, you know, your, your story is going to be so helpful, you know, to other people just, you know, struggling to speak their truth or to have hope that, you know, they will be able to family build.
Jenna Wolfe: You kind of go through life and you know what you're good at and what you're not great at. The things you're good at, if you got your stuff together, you're going to excel and if you don't, you're going to be okay. And the stuff you're not good at, you're either going to find people to help you outsource that stuff. Or you're going to struggle a little bit and being a mom and the like pick up from the after school stuff and the doctor's appointments and the play dates and the like sending thank you cards and the evites, the birthday part like that. Wasn't my thing. That was, I was never growing up and be like, I am all over that. I mean, I've got friends who I knew from age eight. I was like, they were going to be, they were so good at this organized everything labeled and they were going to be amazing moms. That part is difficult for me. You know, th the, the, like none of that was like, in my future, it was never like, I'm going to live my life. I'm going to have my job. And then I'm going to have my baby. It all came to me really late. I had a baby at 39! 39! At the time, like I was the oldest person I knew that was having a kid. And I struggled with like, am I good enough? Can I do all this? Like, I can go through all the doctor's appointments. Like I can get myself from a to B and all of that. And then when you actually have the baby, like having gone through that whole process, like, am I fully capable of doing this? Like, it was never woven into my DNA the way it is for other people. At the end of it, you have this baby and you made this baby and you went through hell and high water to get this baby and now this child looks at you and they're completely helpless and dependent on you for the next 18 years, at least, to give them absolutely everything. And it makes everything you went through worth it, right? It makes every time that you got pregnancy tests that didn't take, or like the hormones shot you the wrong way, or you're, you know, it didn't work or you're sick or whatever it is, it makes it all worth it. And I am far sort of more cognizant of that now that I've, I've listened to so many people go through it and have issues and years of struggling for years and years, years trying to get pregnant. You know, I understand it a little bit more and it's harder than I knew at the time when I was going through it. And I was blessed that I was able to do IUI and get pregnant pretty easily, not as easily as like some of my other friends, but for the most part, fairly painlessly. So I am blessed with what I have, but I also kind of understand that for a lot of people, this is a really emotional process,
Rena: I think. And I think you touched on something that is really important to the continuity of this, right? So many people think it stops once you get pregnant. And like,
Jenna Wolfe: Yes, yes, you're a hundred percent, right.
Rena: I mean, the continuity of this I think is so important and something I always work with patients on, you know. Especially if you're someone who struggled to conceive or you didn't, you know, conceive one month trying at home, there can be a lot of trauma. There can be a lot of fear, anxiety. And, you know, if you think trying to get pregnant is uncertain. Well, actually having the baby is a lot more uncertainty because that's a whole new journey. And so I just, you know, always encourage people, you know, reach out, ask for help. And so many people too, I think who struggled to conceive, then think that once they are pregnant and have this baby, they should just be so grateful because they tried so hard to get there that they don't have the right to say, I'm really stressed or it's exhausting being a parent. And if you'd just be so, so happy, like so, so grateful, that is not how it is. You have every right to be. Parenting is exhausting and it is hard and it is challenging and can be frustrating. And just because you went through something to get there doesn't mean you have any less right than anyone else to speak those truths. So I think the continuity of all of that and continuing to acknowledge that is really important also.
Jenna Wolfe: You make such a good point. It doesn't stop the day. You decide to try to get pregnant. It's a process. And that process is going to take you however long it takes you to get pregnant through the pregnancy, through childbirth, and through the rest of your life as long as that child is on the planet, I mean, we had Harper and we got her home and we were home for four days and we said, whoo, like, it's going to be a long time before we go back to the hospital. Like the worst of it is over. Now, we're just going to raise this child. And we got a call from the hospital that the day that Harper gave birth, the nurse on that floor tested positive for TB and our child might have tuberculosis and we needed to come in and they were asking us if we wanted to start her on this medication, this intense medication this four day old baby, you know, on the off chance that she may test positive or we could wait six weeks to see, but it could perhaps affect her liver. And we're like, not equipped to make this decision. I just made all the decisions like, well, we just had a baby there’s more now? Like there's more that we have to like, think about? And it was terrifying. And it was just like smack across our face. Like, Hey, guess what? It's not like, Oh, the worst of it is over. And now you get this like beautiful thing and you have no problems. Like this is an every minute of every hour of everyday thing. That's in your life now. The process getting here was just to get here. Now you've got the thing that you worked so hard for. Now the real journey begins, you know, it's like broken up and that's what Steph and I broke this thing up. We broke it up into the first journey of trying to get pregnant and trying to appreciate that. And I don't always mean appreciate in a great way. Like there were moments that weren't lovely, but appreciate those moments that the challenges or whatever it was to try to get pregnant. And then once we got pregnant, the journey of being pregnant, which isn't joyous, it's not the most beautiful thing in the world. You have morning sickness and you can't lay on your belly. And like a lot of things can't do and everything hurts and things you're swollen. Like that's, you're growing a life inside you. And then there's that third journey, which is, once you go through childbirth, like now the real job, like this is the real hard part is actually raising the baby. And it's never going to really get that much easier. And it is perfectly okay to be like, I know I complained the whole time about getting pregnant now I'm pregnant. Am I allowed to complain again? Yeah. You're allowed to complain. Now I had this terrible pregnancy. And now that I had this baby in my last complaint, yes, you can ask for help. You can complain. You can and moan and scream and cry. You can do all of those things. Like don't underestimate what your body just went through for the last two years, the emotional aspect and emotional toll, it took to come to terms with the fact that you wanted to get pregnant, the physical toll, it took to try to get pregnant, carrying this child and growing something inside you and feeding it and giving it and then birthing it. And now here you are like your body, mind and soul are just absolutely like obliterated. You got to build all of that back up again, and you can't expect that to happen so quickly. So I think that's what is really important that you talk to people about that as well, that it's okay for it still to hurt and it's still to be a pain and you still to be tired. All of that. I mean, my kids are five and seven, six and seven. I complain every day. Are you kidding me? It's so hard. It's so hard. Being a mom is so hard. You just, you want to make every right decision. And without going through the whole fertility process where a doctor is literally telling you what to do every step of the way nobody's telling me how much iPad they could have or how much candy is okay. Or when it's okay for them to have a tantrum and me not go in and get them. Like you don't get that rule book once they're born. You get it going through fertility. Like someone's holding your hands with that fertility process. Nobody's really holding your hand once the baby's actually born.
Rena: It's okay to not be okay.
Jenna Wolfe: Yeah with anything and everything with making a big decision with making a big announcement with anything you want to do. It's okay to not be okay across the board. And sometimes that's how you get to being okay by acknowledging that like, Hey, I'm in kind of a dark place. I need to get out as opposed to, everything's fine. Everything's great. Everything's fine. Everything's great. It doesn't always work out that way when you've got that facade that you're trying to kind of feed off.
Rena: No and I can say, you know, just from personal experience and then the work that I do top, you know, it's those times in my life, those have been the times that I've experienced the most personal growth and the most change. And so I think it’s how you take these times, you know, do you let them define you? Are you a victim? Or do you do the things, do you pick yourself up to you ask for help and let it help you grow and evolve and change and better yourself. So I guess before we wrap up, do you have any sort of writing advice, words of wisdom for anyone similar situation, you know, maybe they're staring at this mountain and they have no freaking idea how they're getting up there.
Jenna Wolfe: It's the same approach to anything that you have to do that requires more than a simple, you know, step forward. It's stuff you've heard before, but you have to let it sink in. It really is one step at a time. When you are embarking on something, as grandiose as having a child, I mean, bringing a child into this world is a gigantic thing. You have to understand that it's going to involve an enormous amount of time and effort and there's a lot of steps involved. And the only way to get from right now to holding a baby is to get through it, right? The only way through it is through it. You got to take the first step. You can't look at step eight, you can't look at what it might be like on the other side. Like you gotta look at what's right in front of you because it becomes too overwhelming if you don't. And when you're standing on that base of the mountain, there's something keeping you from being on the other side. A lot of it for most of us are these layers of fear and insecurity that have built up over the years. Because like I could say today, I'm a little nervous tomorrow I'm a little more nervous, but after a couple of days, you're not nervous anymore. You're just resigned to the fact that you're not going to do it. And then it just gets hardened. Those layers of hardened and hardened, and then after years, it's not even an option of whether you're going to do it or not, because it's just who you are. You're the person that's not going to climb them out. You got to crack all of that. You gotta get to the point where it's still soft, where you're still like, I don't know if I'm going to do it or not. And speak to yourself then and say, yeah, you're going to do it. Like I have to do it now, because if I wait, there's no right time. Like, there's not going to be a perfect time where you wake up and you're like, Oh, it feels right. Okay. There's something, it feels good. Okay. Here I go. It's going to be a piece of cake. Let me climb over them out. And it's never going to be easy, but it's always going to be worth it. It just is. And if you get to the other side and you went through that monumental act of courage and that like personal trailblazing effort to do that thing that you thought you could not do, 99.9% of the time, it is worth it. And you will look back and you’ll say It wasn't as hard as I thought it was. You know, when sometimes you fall and sometimes you trip, like I do a morning television show. Every single day I'm out there live. Like at least once a day. I'm like, should I say that? Or should I not say that? I'm not sure whether I should always do it. I would rather regret having done something than not having done it. I always would because you put yourself out there and if it hits, it feels fantastic. If you make it over that mountain and you feel great and you end up with whatever the news that you delivered or the pregnancy that's now underway or whatever it is, if you’ve made that decision you've made that announcement. You've talked to that person. You quit smoking. You decide to finally join a gym. You're you're divorcing that person that does whatever that big thing is. It always feels better on the other side. And if not, it's just layer and layer and layer of all the reasons why you can't do something until you've convinced yourself that you just can't do it. And the truth is you can, we all can. It's just a matter of whether we want to, you can, you will. It's a thing I tell myself all the time when I'm nervous and scared, I look in the mirror. I say, you can, and you will, you can, and you will. And it's like a mantra that you sort of speak to yourself. And it sounds corny and ridiculous, but it has helped me through so many different insecurities and scared, terrifying moments in my life. You got, you got to take that first step and push yourself because nothing changes. If nothing changes.
Rena: I love that. Well, this has been so fabulous. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing your energy and wisdom. I honor you so much coming on and sharing your story with everyone and really happy we can share this.
Jenna Wolfe: Listen, it's been a long time since I've told the story. And I think having this conversation with you made me think about a lot of things that I didn't think about going through it. Things that'll help me now when I come across other people who are going through it. So it was an enlightening conversation for me as well. So I thank you so much for just giving me the platform to be able to share it. So thank you.
Rena: Oh, good. I love to end every episode on a note of positivity and gratitude.
Jenna Wolfe: Ok you go first.
Rena: No one's ever thrown the ball to me first.
Jenna Wolfe: Well when I hear yours I’ll bounce back mine.
Rena: Ok I’ll catch it. So I guess I'm going to say I am really grateful for the concept of truth. I just kind of learned this and started setting it in a training last week and kind of the concept of truth. So when we're in those moments, you know, like you were just talking about when we're feeling so scared, you know, you're going on air live and should I say this? Should I not? And you know, you spiral, when you kind of start future-tripping catastrophizing, to dial it back, what are your truths? What do you know today? What is happening today? Not your past, not the present, what do we know today? And so I'm really grateful for learning and understanding that concept and being able to share it with people. Because I think that especially now, it's really important, you know, in a world that remains really uncertain. What do I know today, today? Today I know, here's my calendar. I was going to interview Jenna at 12. I'm going to try and, you know, eat a really quick lunch after that's my truth. It doesn't matter what's happening tomorrow. It doesn't matter what happened yesterday. This is what I know today and I'm going to stay centered and grounded. So I will say grateful for that. And then of course, too just so grateful for having you on and another super strong, you know, working mom. I love to just meet other working moms who are kind of in it and really inspiring and not afraid to speak their truth. So two gratitudes.
Jenna Wolfe: I like the concept of, I don't want to say living cause it's one of the hardest things we do is to be in a moment, the moment. It's near impossible. And then people say it and throw it around. Like, yo, I'm living in the moment. You're not, it's one of the hardest things you can do. I have learned over the course of this global pandemic, what it means to be on a team. Right? So the way I look at it is I've been sort of locked in here with my family for a long time. And I'm so grateful for the team that I'm on. Right? So the person that you're connected to, for me it's Steph and my two kids, that's my team. Right? And it's, it's us against other teams. So like we're all working on teams and you know, my teammate, that's who I live and die for. Like, that's who I go to bat for like, that's who I live. Like, before this. I wasn't in it as much, right? Like we're all on the same team, but I kind of saw my teammates every once in a while or at the end of the day or in passing. And now we're all together and I get it and I understand, and I am so grateful for who my team is and how we represent ourselves to other people because we've been through a lot. And if we can show anyone out there that you could be not just two working parents who are raising kids. Two moms who are raising kids. Two moms who decided to have kids. Two moms who have full-time jobs. Tow women together in this day and age on television, who decided to have kids. I'm proud of the fact that we made that work. We're not grandstanding. We don't walk around with a soapbox. I'm not shoving it in anyone's face. I'm just letting you know that if anyone is wondering if it's something they could do, or if it's something they're thinking about, or if they've had feelings and they want to act on. Whatever your story is in your journey is I'm here to show you that look at our team. Like, we're out there representing, and we did it and we're doing it. And we've been relatively successful in our own happiness. So I'm very grateful for the time that I've been able to get to, to really get to know my teammates. And I hope that other people have spent this time figuring out what grounds them. Like your truth grounds you, my family is what now grounds me. And I didn't know that a year ago. I didn't fully understand that. So I think it was really important for me to get that.
Rena: I was looking only for what your truth was. So thank you so much for coming on and sharing. Really, really wonderful.
Jenna Wolfe: It's my pleasure. 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 www.rmany.com and tune in next week for more Fertility Forward.