By Karen Jeffries
Hi, everyone, my name is Karen and I’m infertile. I am the creator of Hilariously Infertile, a social media platform, and the author of the book, Hilariously Infertile: One Woman’s Inappropriate Quest to Help Women Laugh through Infertility. So many people ask me, “How did Hilariously Infertile come to be?” Well, here is the tell-all answer.
I conceived my first daughter through IUI after many months of Clomid. Receiving a diagnosis of infertility was a devastating shock to me at first. I am a school teacher, I have devoted my life to children with the thinking that one day, I would have my own children; easily.
When my first daughter was about 18 months old we began fertility treatment to have a second child. I have PCOS and I was told there was no point trying naturally, although if my husband were reading over my shoulder he would make the corny joke that, “We try all the time, just nothing happens, ha-ha.”
For my second child we had to go forward with IVF. I wasn’t nervous or scared of IVF, although maybe I should have been slightly more nervous for the pain after the egg retrieval surgery, but I believed that IVF would work for us, I didn’t know at what point, or how many rounds, but I had confidence that it would work.
‘My husband said I should write a book on my experience’
While I was on maternity leave with my second child, I was helping a friend and a family member each through their infertility treatments. My husband and I were washing the dishes and I said, “Allison is ovulating, so it’s go time for them. And Jen’s follicles are at 17 millimeters, so I told her she will probably have her IUI scheduled on Sunday.” My husband stopped, looked at me, and said, “I think you should write a book about this.”
I literally laughed in his face and went to watch television. A few weeks later I started writing my infertility story and as I was writing it I realised that it was funny, inappropriate and snarky. Five weeks later I completed the first draft of Hilariously Infertile, which is very close to the final version that is available for purchase now (shameless plug).
‘I was told the fertility publishing market wasn’t big enough’
Being a school teacher all my life, I didn’t know anything about how to publish a book. I started submitting my book to literary agents and publishing houses in New York City. The response was sparse, but those who did respond said: “We just don’t think this is a big enough market.” That sentence, that lone sentence, has fuelled my fire to this day. It is a huge market. The numbers are staggering. The fact that people think this isn’t a big enough market just reinforces the larger problem, which is, no one is talking about it; which to me meant that people were at home suffering in silence, and I just couldn’t have that.
I started my Hilariously Infertile website, and then the social media platform, which was a big jump for me because I never had, and still don’t have, a personal social media account. I enlisted the help of my teenage niece. She taught me what a hashtag was, and pretty much the rest is history.
‘Things started to really take off after national media exposure’
I remember when I hit 300 followers, I thought it was crazy. Every follower numerical milestone I kept saying, “If this is how big it gets, I am fine with that.” And every time it kept getting bigger and bigger. A few summers ago things really blew up with an article in the DailyMail.com, then PEOPLE.com, then Self.com, then CBS.com, and many smaller news syndicates. That was when the social media platform really grew, but my mission remains the same, to help someone laugh about infertility. If one person is having a bad day, and I can make them smile or laugh, then it is all worth it for me.
The amount of DMs and emails that I have received from followers all over the world expressing that I helped them laugh at their saddest, darkest times, is indeed overwhelming. When my followers experience a loss, I feel that I am right there with them. When they experience joy, I am there to congratulate them. It is really quite amazing.
When I published my book in August 2018 I was astounded by the response. What I am finding through all of this is that people want a little bit of levity while they are struggling through their trek of infertility. They want to laugh at the ridiculousness of the whole situation, even the sadness.
Speaking engagements and comedy events
Recently I have started performing more speaking engagements and I thought it was time to have my followers come to see my routine. Essentially it is 45 minutes of me talking about my journey in a hilarious, snarky, tongue in cheek way; starting from trying to conceive on our own, to IVF with our second daughter, and everything in between.
My next event will take place on Sunday, June 2, 2019 at 7pm at the West Side Comedy Club in New York City. All the proceeds from this event will go to the Baby Quest Foundation which provides financial assistance to patients going through infertility treatments in the United States. I am recording the event and my hope is to be able to share the whole comedy routine with followers who live farther away. To book your tickets for this fantastic event visit here
I want my followers, old and new, to know that they inspire me to keep going, to talk more about infertility, to continue to push the envelope and raise awareness.