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Kimberly Lapides of Eat Sleep Wear Gets Honest About Infertility & IVF

Kimberly Lapides is accustomed to sharing facets of her life on social media and the Internet. As the blogger behind EAT/SLEEP/WEAR, her face and style is well-known to women everywhere. So when Kimberly’s life took an unfortunate new direction and her plans had to change, she made the brave choice to continue sharing her story with her loyal followers.

After undergoing the trials of IVF, Kimberly shared the full story of her infertility journey on her blog and Instagram. It’s real, raw, and heartbreaking — and it’s helping give voice to the many women who suffer similar experiences. I spoke with Kimberly to discuss her story, her passion for helping support other women, and the countless lessons she learned along the way.

Regardless of whether or not you yourself have a personal experience with infertility, Kimberly’s story shows the power of love, dedication, and a strong support system.

 

First of all, we are huge fans of your blog, EAT/SLEEP/WEAR. When and why did you decide to start blogging?

 

I was a full-time graphic designer long before my blogging days. I went to school in Philadelphia and attended the University of the Arts where I got my BA in Graphic Design. In addition to graphic design, I also took a few photography classes. After a few years working in the field in both a boutique agency and then a larger corporate one, I found myself looking for creativity elsewhere. This was back in the webcam days when not all computers had built-in ones. I remember sending photos back and forth with my best friend in NYC. We would share our daily outfits together as we kept in touch from two different cities.

One day, we discovered the world of blogging. We found this amazing community of women (and men) who were sharing their daily style online. Our thoughts were that if we could share our style with each other, our sisters, and our family, why not share with this bigger community? So we started our blog together to share our love of fashion, photography, and, above all, to have fun. We had that blog together for a little over three years when we both decided to go our separate ways. That is when EAT/SLEEP/WEAR was born. I wanted to continue my blog journey, connect with the community, and keep documenting my outfits as well as my life. I know this sounds silly, but the rest is history. Eventually, my hobby turned into a career. It took many years and a lot of work to get to where I am today, and I could not be happier for taking that leap when I did. 

 

Tell us a little bit about how you grew your blog.

 

Growing my blog took many years. It wasn’t about having thousands of followers. It was about telling my story, so a lot of the growth that happened was pretty natural. When I started to focus more on growing the blog, as well as my business, I always took to my social media channels to engage my audience. There is no blog without having those dedicated readers that tune in every day to see what we are up to. Tuning into readers and engaging with them on all my platforms was an important way for me to give back for their support. Also connecting was what made blogging so special. I was part of a community of other inspiring creatives. I think one of the best ways to grow your blog is to connect with others that you respect and admire in your own creative space. I would collaborate with friends on projects or photoshoots and it was a great way to cross-promote each other. Growing your blog doesn’t happen overnight, but with hard work, you will get there.

 

 

You’re in a unique position in that you had an opportunity to share what you’re going through with thousands of people. We love how open you’ve been about your journey through IVF and are so glad you decided to share your story on your blog and The Everygirl. How and why did you decide to share something so personal in such a public forum?

 

When I went through my first round of IVF, it was an incredibly lonely and confusing time. It was like we were on a speeding train that wouldn’t slow down and we had to make very important decisions all along the way without having a chance to catch our breath. I only vaguely knew about IVF, and had a few people in my life that went through it, but I had NO IDEA of what really happened behind the curtain. While going through our first round, every step was more painful physically and emotionally than the last. One of the most frustrating things was that I had NO idea what to expect. I felt like when people talked about IVF, it was simply this miracle treatment that when you go through the steps, you instantly have this miracle. I think the fact that IVF is so commonplace now takes away from the fact that is an incredibly difficult, taxing, emotional, physical process that can have both amazing rewards or the most deeply painful results. So many people go through this process alone. Hiding their treatments from their best friends, from their families, from their work. They suffer, they fight, they cry in silence. I had no idea what this whole process was about, and it was a living nightmare that I could not escape.

I was looking for something I could really connect to. A personal story. Someone that wasn’t talking to me like a scientist. Someone I could relate to. I was out to lunch with some girlfriends and I let the words slip out that I was undergoing IVF. They quickly suggested that I look up Caitlin’s blog, Dash of Darling. I was not following her blog and instantly became glued to it. Caitlin shared her detailed stories of her own fertility journey. It was heartbreaking. It was me. She had been through so much, and still, after all of that, she was hopeful. It really stuck with me. I quickly reached out to Caitlin through DM on Instagram to thank her for sharing her story and connect with her. Our conversations quickly moved to texts, our texts quickly moved to phone calls. For the past year, she has been one of my confidants. She has been there for me every step of the way. I am happy to call her a friend and an inspiration to me every day.

What Caitlin did for me, I wanted to do for others. One day, my husband and I were out to dinner. I told him point blank, “What do you think about me sharing our fertility story with my blog, my readers, and the world?” Blake instantly responded, “Yes. I am behind you 100%.” It’s a huge deal to throw our personal life into the spotlight. It would not have been possible if Blake and I were not on the same page.

A fire was lit inside of me. I wanted to share our story so that if I could even help one person navigate this struggle a tiny bit easier, it would have all been worth it. The most important thing to me was shedding true light on what happens behind the scenes. All you hear are those stories where everything goes perfectly. I am not that case. I think bringing some honesty to a world where everything is perfectly curated on Instagram, and everyone is living these seemingly perfect lives, was necessary. IVF is fucking hard (excuse the language) and it would be a disservice to women and men everywhere to not show how hard it is.

 

All you hear are those stories where everything goes perfectly. I am not that case. I think bringing some honesty to a world where everything is perfectly curated on Instagram was necessary. IVF is fucking hard.

 

 

Not only did you share a detailed post on your blog, but you also share intimate details of your journey on Instagram stories as well. Tell us how that’s impacted you (and your readers).

 

I remember the first time I was going to post a photo of some of my injections. I was hesitant on whether it was too intense, too raw. In the end, it was honest. I am TERRIFIED of needles and if I gave you a count of how many times I got stabbed each IVF cycle it would likely blow your mind. It was just another part of the process that I thought was important to share.

To my surprise, people really loved being part of our step-by-step journey. They kept asking for more updates, and it was just validation that the more we shared, the better. For someone that works a job where you have to put your face forward, it’s not always easy. But, with beautifully supportive readers, I always do my best to share as much as I humanly can with everyone.

Your husband Blake seems like such a supportive partner. Since we love a good love story, tell us how you two met.

 

Blake is my rock. I don’t know how I would get through this without him. We do have a funny love story. Don’t we all? Ironically, it was all about timing for us. Blake and I used to work together when I still worked for a big agency and he did as well. We were both dating other people at the time and we were merely acquaintances. Fast forward to my best friend’s wedding. I was living in NYC and Blake was living in San Diego. His best friend (who I also knew) was marrying my best friend in Philadelphia. We both traveled to the wedding and ended up recognizing each other from years back. I didn’t know many people at the wedding, and we actually spent the whole night talking.

Little did I know, when I walked into the ceremony, Blake had seen me walk in, and nudged his buddy that he was smitten with me. We went our separate ways back to opposite coasts but kept in touch with email and text. I ended up inviting Blake out to NYC for New Year’s Eve on a whim, and, to my surprise, he agreed to come and booked a flight that day. We instantly connected and from there, we dated long distance from NYC to San Diego. Eight months later, I decided to take a leap of faith and move out to California with the man I was in love with. I still get goosebumps thinking about it!!

 

 

How has going through infertility impacted your relationship with your husband?

 

People that go through IVF are said to go through a lot of the same level of emotional distress as people dealing with cancer. Now, I would in no way compare the two, but I believe that 100%. I turn into a straight-up crazy person when I am on all these hormones and medications and I become a completely irrational basket case — hostile and hard to deal with.

When I think about that it makes my skin cringe that I have treated Blake anything less than kind. We both go through lots of different emotions. For him, I know he has told me one of the hardest parts of the process is that IVF completely runs our life and our schedules. Everything comes second to IVF, and that is very difficult to handle. Then for me, everything is a battle starting from the physical battles and then moving to the emotional ones.

The struggle day in and day out strains on us both individually and together. While this process has resulted in some deep fights between the two of us, I will say that it has strengthened our bond. We continue to love each other and support each other through the toughest times. Blake has come to almost every appointment, been there for almost every injection, and cooked me more meals than I care to admit over the last year and a half. 

 

How long did you try to conceive naturally before talking to your doctor?

 

We tried to conceive for about a year before we started asking questions. It was so foreign to me, as my sister had zero problems getting pregnant. I just assumed that one day I would decide I wanted to get pregnant, and with little to no effort, POOF! Pregnant. Man, was I wrong. I started asking questions and doing some basic testing with my gynecologist, and she quickly referred me to a specialist.

 

What’s something you wish more people knew about IVF?

 

One thing that I touched on earlier is that IVF is a big deal. It’s not this “no big deal” procedure. It is a physical and emotional battle that no one could have prepared me for.

The other thing I wish people knew about IVF is the expense. During our first round of IVF, we did not get any financial counseling. This is a HUGE deal. When you are looking down the tunnel at treatments that could possibly cost $30-40k it’s so important that you are educated in what your options are. Blake and I were lucky to have some form of insurance coverage. I know you are probably thinking, “WOW. That is so lucky. How amazing.” Well, hold your breath. While most people have zero coverage, for the few that do, it does not cover a lot. Insurance coverage usually doesn’t cover all procedures, and a lot of times doesn’t even cover the most expensive of the medications.

I think one of the most valuable things you could do if you have just started out on the infertility road is to meet with a financial counselor at your specialist clinic to get as much information about your insurance coverage (if you have any) and what the costs for treatment are — from the most minimal to the most complicated. What I didn’t know was that some clinics have shared risk programs where your clinic will charge you a base rate for a certain amount of IVF cycles and then if you don’t have a live birth from one of these cycles there is some kind of refund.

I know many women aren’t even able to think about fertility treatments because of the cost, but this is something very important that you should look into before starting treatments. I wish I knew more about all the financials before we started this. I would have made some different decisions starting out.

 

I think one of the most valuable things you could do if you have just started out on the infertility road is to meet with a financial counselor.

 

 

Once you found out your first cycle was unsuccessful, how did you move forward?

 

Even typing the words now that our first IVF had failed, it’s hard. It’s a reminder of every hardship we went through, and it was all for nothing. I remember getting the phone call from my doctor. Before she could get all the words out that our results were negative, I broke out into uncontrollable hysteria. My whole body was shaking and the tears would not stop. It’s like your whole rest of your life just flashes in front of your eyes. A life with no children. I stared blankly at old reruns of The Office for hours. Not cracking a smile. Just staring blankly. It was a dark time for me.

After my first round of IVF, the recovery was unbearably hard. I swore up and down I would NEVER do it again. Never. After we got our bad news, we took some time to not live a life driven by appointments and injections. Blake and I started to slowly talk about our options. The thing about IVF is that it gave us some answers. Since I only got one embryo from our first round, and we tested it and it was genetically normal, we knew that our unexplained fertility problems were somewhat to do with my egg quality. It was hard to see at the time, but this was shedding some light as to why we were having so much difficulty getting pregnant.

We talked and thought about what we would want to do moving forward, and Blake and I decided that we wanted to give it another chance. I realized many women did at least two if not more rounds of IVF. You have to think that each batch of eggs that a woman produces — each cycle — is different than the last. Each cycle COULD be similar, or they COULD be different. The only way to know was to try again.

 

What advice do you have for someone starting out on their journey through IVF? What has helped you both emotionally and physically?

 

A big thing that helped me to deal with my journey has been to share it. Now, I realize not everyone wants to broadcast their personal struggles to their family and friends, let alone the Internet, but I have to say, breaking my silence has been one of the biggest things that has helped me to cope with the process. Fighting in silence was truly agonizing. My moods were off, and it was so hard to explain so many things I was dealing with without going into the whole story.

I would just start to blurt it out at the most AWKWARD times. I was at the nail salon, getting a manicure, and I don’t know what set me off and I just blurted out, “Well, I’m going through IVF.” It was liberating. I didn’t have to do it alone. 

I think the biggest thing to help you get through IVF is to have HOPE. Hope is what we hold onto every minute of every day. It’s the most important thing you can do through this process. One thing that helped me was having friends that would lift me up when I was feeling down. Gabrielle Bernstein’s The Universe Has Your Back gave me positive vibes and left me feeling inspired. This book changed so much for me. 

 

I remember getting the phone call from my doctor. Before she could get all the words out that our results were negative, I broke out into uncontrollable hysteria. My whole body was shaking and the tears would not stop. It’s like your whole rest of your life just flashes in front of your eyes. A life with no children.

 

 

What have you done to continue to stay happy and positive during this time?

 

Staying happy and positive is an everyday challenge. Some days it’s easy and some days it’s impossible. The little things and moments in my day become precious. I would plan little outings, or little moments with Blake and my puppy Lola. Running out to grab a hot chocolate, heading to the beach to watch the sunset. 

I also planned small moments each day where I could be mindful. That would mean little moments of meditation when I was feeling like I needed a break from my day. I would throw on the SPA channel on Sirius radio and just take a minute to zen out. I also use an app called CALM which has great guided meditations. My mind is always moving a mile a minute and this helped to relax me.

Go get a mani-pedi. Grab something sweet from your favorite bakery. Curl up with your favorite rom-com. You really need to take some time and love yourself with everything you are putting your mind and body through.

 

What tests did you have to take, and knowing what you know now, what tests would you recommend women and their partners get once they’re in their early-to-mid 30s?

 

If you are thinking about starting a family, I highly recommend making an appointment with your gynecologist to talk about family planning. What they can do is run some genetic blood work testing on both you and your partner. This will tell you if you are a carrier for certain genetic conditions. It’s something important to know when going down this road so you are prepared and know that your baby will be healthy and what to expect when trying to get pregnant.

Ask about ovulation kits. If you are ovulating, you can get pregnant. So an easy thing to do is to start doing ovulation kits to confirm you are, in fact, ovulating. This can also help you pinpoint the perfect timing to ‘get busy.’ Doing these kits can also alert your doctor if you are not ovulating and have an ovulatory issue.

If you are trying for a while and don’t have luck, you might move to a specialist who will probably request an HSG test. You could also do some sperm testing to make sure your partner (or donor) is healthy.

I think being open and honest with your doctor is so important. So make sure you have a good relationship and if you don’t, it’s time to shop for a new doctor.

 

 

Can you tell us about the process (and cost) of IVF?

 

The process is full of hurdles and waiting, waiting, and waiting some more. If you want to test your patience, do IVF. Before you even start your cycle, you are doing all kinds of bloodwork, scans, and ordering medications in preparation for the big show. Then a huge box of medications shows up on your doorstep and you finally realize it’s almost time. I remember getting that first scary box filled with medications I had never heard of and millions of needles. I was actually just talking with my mom today on the phone and she knows how I was deathly afraid of needles. She told me how impressed she was that I could go through something like this with so many injections. Honestly, I am a pro now but that first delivery was the most terrifying thing I had ever seen.

Without getting too scientific with things, you start your cycle with the first heavy flow of your period. I head to the doctor on day two of my cycle for initial scans and blood work. They basically put a rod up your lady bits and do an internal ultrasound to begin to measure and look at your follicles and ovaries. I start my microdose lupron injections that night if all looks good in my blood work. Then, two days later, it’s back to the doctor for another ultrasound and blood work. This day marks two new injected medications added to my routine: Menopur and Follistim. Both of these medicines SUCK. The Menopur burns while it’s being injected and the Follistim stings and burns while it’s being injected and after. So much fun right?

Around the same time, I also start taking a steroid and possibly some other fun pills. Five days later it’s back to the doctor’s office for another scan and bloodwork to make sure we have tons of little follicles starting to grow and respond to all the medications. Basically, you start going to the doctor every other day for the same thing. Your stimulated multiple follicles begin to grow and develop. The best example I have heard is that by the end, you basically have a bunch of grapes hanging in both enlarged ovaries. INTENSE. When I start getting closer to the end, I am beyond uncomfortable — it’s difficult to bend over, I am utterly exhausted, and feel so, so full. The meds make you feel INSANELY bloated. I have had some friends deal well with the meds but honestly, they usually make me feel pretty miserable. I just keep my head down and know that every injection, every pill, every appointment, every blood draw is getting us closer to the finish line. Eventually, the doctor decides you are ready for your “trigger” to get this show on the road. The trigger injection is a dose of HCG that helps to trigger ovulation. Then approximately 35-36 hours later to the exact minute is when you will have your egg retrieval. They basically need to catch your follicles at the EXACT moment before they ovulate. It’s insane how the timing is so crucial. At this point, you are freaking excited to empty out your ovaries.

You then show up to your surgical center. The procedure itself only takes a quick 20-30 minutes. While I am in surgery, Blake is in the other room taking care of business and gathering a sperm sample to be used to fertilize my eggs. AN IMPORTANT TIP: If you are planning on using fresh sperm, that is amazing. BUT ALWAYS HAVE A SAMPLE ON ICE. You don’t want to go through your surgery and have some type of sperm malfunction. Always provide a sample before surgery to be frozen as an emergency backup. Trust me. During surgery, the doctor uses an ultrasound-guided needle to extract the follicles from their shells. You quickly wake up woozy and anxiously asking how many eggs they got. Then as quickly as you got there, you are headed home to recover.

This is always the hardest part for me. For as hard as the first half of this process is, I feel like it’s a piece of cake compared to my recovery. Some women are back to work in two days. I am not one of those women and I wish I knew what magical powers could get me to bounce back that quickly. I am usually out of commission for a whole week before I even leave the house.

The first two days aren’t terrible. You start to almost feel ok… and then day three hits. The bloating, discomfort, and pain start to increase. I am usually still constipated from the anesthesia (I know TMI) and it just seems to get worse. I dread these days each time I do an egg retrieval. But it’s just something you have to grit through and know that soon it will pass. Unfortunately for me, when my ovaries are so enlarged and slowly shrinking back to normal, it’s a very scary time because there are risks of complication and ovarian torsion, which not many people talk openly about. After my first retrieval, I remember waking up in the middle of night feeling very ill. I ran to the bathroom and started to feel the most excruciating pain of my life. I was rolling on my back — back and forth on the floor in the most pain I have ever experienced in my life —screaming out for Blake. I didn’t know what to do. I thought I was going to die. I couldn’t move. I was sweating bullets and I could not even move from where I was writhing in pain on the floor. After about what felt like 30 minutes but likely was only five solid minutes, some of the initial pain subsided and I was able to slowly crawl into bed. I was terrified. What just happened to me??

We called the doctor in the morning. She said that I likely had an ovarian torsion. An ovarian torsion is when the ovaries twist and it cuts off blood supply to them which causes the intense pain. If they do not untwist on their own you need IMMEDIATE emergency surgery. There is no way to know if that truly is what happened… but I never want that to ever happen again. Twice more during that recovery period, I woke in the middle of the night with intense pain, but not at that magnitude. I called the doctor each time and she walked me through breathing and going into a fetal position and slowly rolling from side to side. What we concluded was that the other pain was likely my ovaries shrinking and bleeding. As I am looking at round three right now… the scariest part for me is always the recovery. But you know what, I have beat this two times now. I CAN DO THIS.

In the meantime, your precious eggs become fertilized by the sperm and you sit and wait to see if the cells start to develop into an embryo. By about day five or six of development, you start to know how successful everything you just did was. This time is insanely stressful — just sitting, waiting, and praying that everything you just did is going to allow you some chances to get pregnant. We have done genetic testing each cycle so, at this point, they take some cells from the embryos that have developed to their final stage and send those cells out for testing while the precious embryos are frozen. Then you wait for about 2-4 weeks to get those results. Everything is waiting and more waiting. And then you get your phone call. I now make Blake answer all of these phone calls because if the results are bad, I fall apart.

It’s truly a wild rollercoaster. You feel like a pincushion. You have never had such an intimate relationship with a doctor’s office. It’s insane. Your schedule is completely at the mercy of each injection time. It’s overwhelming but you make it happen. I always have a million calendar reminders, and alarms set every day to make sure I stay on track.

And then come the bills. It really blows my mind that IVF, and infertility in general, are so so financially taxing. One round of IVF can cost about 30-40k depending on your treatment plan. It sounds insane as I type it. I lost track of how much we have spent on treatments. You start to get jaded of what you see as expensive. “OH, this test is only $800? That is NOT expensive at all.” UM, WHAT. Is that not crazy to be thinking something like that??? But when you are spending thousands of dollars in the blink of an eye, you become jaded very quickly. So not only are you are dealing with the emotional aspects of desperately trying to grow a family and then the physical aspects of everything you are putting your body through, you also have to worry about that fact that you are quickly draining your life savings and your bank account to start your family. It’s criminal.

I think about the women who don’t have the choice to pursue treatment because it’s just too pricey and they have to rule out treatment altogether. That is sick to me. I feel like everyone that wants to grow their family and needs the help should have more access to this kind of treatment. We are only 1.5 years into treatment but we are already five IUIs, two egg retrievals, one transfer, and one “faux” transfer for testing in and looking our 3rd round of treatment in the face. We are broke, we are broken, but we will find a way to make this happen.

 

It’s truly a wild rollercoaster. You feel like a pincushion. Your schedule is completely at the mercy of each injection time. It’s overwhelming but you make it happen.

 

 

If a friend is struggling with infertility, how would you recommend supporting them? Tell us some of the best ways friends (and strangers) have been there for you.

 

The last thing you want to hear when you’re dealing with infertility is: “It will happen when it’s meant to be” or “just relax and it will happen.”

I remember cringing when people would say these things to me.

No one can know what you’re going through and everyone has different ways of showing their support and love. I used to get defensive, but now, I look at these statements with compassion.

What I would love was for a friend to simply send me a text that said, “Thinking of you. Let me know if I can do anything for you.” This was the perfect sentiment. They were opening the door for conversation.

A handwritten card, a bouquet of flowers, or even a best friend showing up one night with takeout and your favorite cupcakes (THANK YOU AMY!) these are all small ways you can really change someone’s day. I remember that Blake would sometimes just leave me a post-it note before he went to the gym that said, “Stay strong. I love you boo.” The simplest gesture can mean so much when you are battling this every day.

 

What do you wish people would stop saying about your journey through IVF?

 

It’s funny because people would always have stories or specific statements or advice, like:

“Be patient. It will happen.”

“Have you tried acupuncture?”

“Have you tried royal jelly?”

“Once you stop trying you will probably get pregnant right away.”

“One of my best friends was about to do IVF and got pregnant right before she was supposed to start.”

While there were a lot of things people would say that would irk me, facing IVF #3 any day now, I feel like a seasoned veteran ready to head to war.

While there are days when I might snap to judgment instead of understanding, having gone through this I have a lot of perspective. I know people are rooting for us. Everyone is trying to help in their own way. Don’t forget that everyone wants to see you holding your precious baby at the end of this.

 

 

Is there anything else you want us to know about IVF?

 

People that go through IVF should get a goddamn medal of bravery. The things we go through to grow our family, the things we put ourselves through physically and emotionally, is out of this world. Having a platform where I have been able to tell my story and connect with so many people has been life-changing — I’ve loved hearing the stories of strength my community has shared with me.

I have to tell you, anyone out there fighting this fight, you are stronger than you will ever know. Going through IVF changes you in so many ways. It makes us love harder, it makes us fight harder, and it tries to cut us down time and time again. But we continue to get up and fight. You can not hold us down. I want anyone out there struggling to know that you are not alone. My heart is with you. I wish you all love and light through your own journey and will continue to be hopeful for my family as we move into IVF #3. Stay strong warriors. We can do this.

The post Kimberly Lapides of Eat Sleep Wear Gets Honest About Infertility & IVF appeared first on The Everygirl.

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