Episode 141: Infertile Tees
Marilyn Gomez is a mother to a rainbow baby named Mila. But like many Latin women, she faced many stereotypical assumptions and comments as she worked to grow her family. After five and a half years of Clomid, IUI, and IVF, she and her husband finally found success after pairing their treatment with pre-implantation genetic testing, increasing their odds of a healthy pregnancy and baby.
In this episode, we hear from Marilyn about something that changed her life completely — the infertility community. This community became the support system she needed during her treatment. These friends have been through the thick of infertility with her and inspired her to create her own community with inspirational t-shirts called Infertile Tees.
We’re also hosting a webinar called, “Infertility in the Latinx and Hispanic Communities”, which will feature Marilyn Gomez and dive into common myths about infertility in these communities, how to get the support you need, and where to access information and care. This discussion is open to anyone who wants to learn more about a family building journey and is free and open to anyone who would like to attend. For more information and to register for this webinar, see here.
Guest: Marilyn Gomez
Host: Crystal Cid, Patient Care Advocate at Progyny
For more information, visit Progyny’s Podcast page and Progyny’s Education page for more resources. Be sure to follow us on Instagram, @ThisisInfertilityPodcast and use the #ThisisInfertility. Have a question, comment, or want to share your story? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some highlights from this episode:
From Treatment to Treatment to More Treatment
02:04 – 09:20
Marilyn Gomez: Three months after we got married, we’re like okay, let’s like officially start trying. We had an inkling that something just didn’t feel right. Because we had dated for a long time, and we were sexually active, and I never had a pregnancy scare. So, our thought process was, let’s just like go to OB and just tell her we’ve been trying for a couple of years and see what we can do.
OB was like you’re young, you’re healthy, I’m going to prescribe you Clomid. And after the first month of taking it, it didn’t work. And you know, she did tell me it may take about three months for it to kind of get your body ovulating regularly and having this thing work. And so, three months later, it just wasn’t working, she just kept upping my dosage without looking inside my uterus.
It was really difficult for me when we hit month seven of being on Clomid and nothing was working.
Crystal Cid: The couple had been trying for about three years before they started to really consider seeing a reproductive endocrinologist (REI).
Marilyn Gomez: He was like, Okay, well, the next step is IUI. Like, okay, and so we did the IUI… And so, when the sixth IUI failed, you know, after every failure, you have what we call the WTF appointment, like what the crap, and so you sit with a doctor. I came ready with questions. And he didn’t like it He just was not willing to elaborate or have a discussion. And he just really of gaslit me and said, the next step is IVF. And in that moment, I was like, you know what, this is not the doctor that I want to pay thousands of dollars to do IVF with.
I requested all my medical records and went to another REI. I trusted her and we did our first IVF in 2014. And it was crazy because I thought that IVF guaranteed you a baby. They’re literally doing the work for you. They’re taking the sperm, putting it in the egg, watching it grow in a dish, and then putting it in your body… Like you spend $20,000 and then you add in the emotional cost of it. I thought, of course, it’s going to work. And I wasn’t prepared for the outcome, which was a chemical pregnancy, I didn’t even know what that meant.
Crystal Cid: A chemical pregnancy is a very early miscarriage. That happens within the first five weeks of pregnancy. It means the embryo forms and may even embed in the uterus lining, but then it stops developing.
Support Within the Infertility Community
10:48 – 17:06
Marilyn Gomez: I was like, okay, I’m ready to schedule my next IVF. I didn’t even blink twice. I was like, I want to do egg retrieval as soon as possible. That’s what I signed up to do immediately, without even taking time to breathe in, to check in on my mental health. You know, there were times when my husband was like, “Marilyn, I think you need to take a breather and talk to a therapist, this is now an obsession.” And it’s very common for women. You become obsessed with this because it’s your body and you want it to work. Why are we here? Like we’re supposed to, you know, populate the earth. Why was it that my body doing this? Of course, I’m obsessed, I want to be a mother. And so, I started looking for a therapist, and luckily found one that specialized in infertility.
In 2015, I just worked on my mental health. And it was the best gift, like I said previously, that I could give myself. My therapist created and started her very first, group therapy for women that were experiencing infertility. We’re essentially on the same journey, and so she got five of us together. We’re still all very close today. It was a beautiful experience to sit physically with other people, other women that are experiencing infertility as well.
When I started to plan my retrieval and transfer in 2015, I was in a good headspace. I was neutral like I had the tools already. And so, when I had my egg retrieval, and then did genetic testing.
Crystal Cid: This time, the value of PGT testing of embryos was clearly demonstrated to Marylin. And so, she realized that it really was the best way to achieve success. So, when it came time for the embryo transfer, they weren’t taking a shot in the dark, they knew the embryo transfer would have a legitimate chance of success. And this time it worked.
Marilyn Gomez: What’s funny is that every woman in my small group, in therapy, we all got pregnant two months apart. And so, it was insane because we all started to experience pregnancy after infertility. Like, oh, this feels different, we don’t feel happy, like, it’s just very hard to accept because you’re constantly waiting for that other shoe to drop.
From Infertility to Inspiration
18:18 – 22:44
Crystal Cid: Marilyn still had frozen embryos from her cycle in Utah. And she wanted to expand her family. So, she decided to go ahead and transfer those embryos. Unfortunately, this led to another early pregnancy loss. But it’s from that loss that created Marilyn’s company.
Marilyn Gomez: I sat with myself at that moment. And I thought, okay, I need to find a way to grieve and live and heal. And when I was preparing for that embryo transfer, I designed a t-shirt for my transfer day. I had looked on the internet, and I couldn’t find anything that I liked. And so, I was like, I’m just going to design my own. So, I designed my own t-shirt, and I got tons of compliments on it on my transfer day.. And I was thinking about that, and I was like, kkay, I’m creative. I am a graphic designer, self-taught and I’m just going to lean into it. I’ve been an advocate now, in the space for 10 years, like this is just going to be an extension of what I do. I literally took five seconds to think of the name infertile tees because I was like, I’m infertile, and I’m going to make t-shirts — infertile tees. And I registered it with the state of North Carolina, I opened an Instagram account. I just put up like five designs, and I was like, hey, if you’d like this t-shirt, Venmo me, and I’ll get it shipped to you. And then one day, I opened up my DMs and I had so many orders that people wanted. So, I thought, you know what, this is where I’m going to spend my time. This is how I’m going to heal creatively, giving to the community in this way where people can feel seen and heard through their infertility journey, through cute apparel, or cute t-shirts that I’ve designed, and curated goods that have icons that essentially represent the infertility community, and the fertility experience. And when my daughter started preschool, I started building my website, and still taking Venmo through Instagram. And then in 2020, last year, on my daughter’s fourth birthday, I was like, okay, this is going to be very scary, but I’m going to hit live here on the website that I built. And so, I hit live. And I was like, okay, everybody now like, I’m official, and I have a website. So, it was scary, but really rewarding to feel like I am woven into people’s lives. Through their journey. In every order that I make and pack and order and ship, I think about that person, whoever they are, and wonder where they are, send them positive thoughts and encouragement. And when I get tagged in photos of people wearing my t-shirts, I just can’t believe it. Like I get teary-eyed and so emotional to know this person is through the thick of it. And I know they’re so strong and they’re going to make it or they’re going to do what’s best for them and their mental health. Many people walk away from their infertility journey and decide to live childless, which is okay. And just being a part of that journey is just so humbling for me.
Crystal Cid: Beyond her company in Infertile Tees, Marilyn also started a podcast called The Mama Vita podcast.
Marilyn Gomez: with the idea of having women talk about their personal experiences, and how they impacted their communities in a positive way, how they’re shaking things up, game changers, educating people. And so, the idea is like, how do we disconnect in identifying who we are, through our roles, like I am my role as a mother, my role as a wife, but that’s not who I am. I am gritty, I’m passionate, I’m spiritual, I’m all these other things. And so that’s kind of how the podcast was born.
As a Patient Care Advocate, Crystal works directly with members by providing guidance and support and assisting with client specific questions around their Progyny coverage. She studied Psychology at St. John’s University, where she happily discovered genetic testing/counseling as one of her passions. Her background includes working as a patient liaison at a fertility clinic in NYC as well as a certified patient navigator for a non-profit. Crystal is from Union City, NJ.
Marilyn’s journey started in 2009 with unexplained infertility as the diagnosis. After multiple losses, she was able to conceive in 2015 via IVF #3. In 2019, she tried to expand her family and transferred her last embryos. She searched the internet for a transfer day t-shirt but didn’t’ find anything that looked like her everyday style. So, she decided to design one on her own using just her iPad Pro and partnered with a local print shop. When that IVF failed, she closed the grueling chapter of the last 10 years of trying to conceive to focus on her mental wellness and embrace having one child, in a society that expects one more. Marilyn started Infertile Tees as a way to heal, create goods, and curated pieces that tell your story, your own way. Unique versatile designs that inspire you to own our journey, while knowing you are not alone.
Music From This Episode:
Track: Good Night
Artist: Kai Engel
Track: Cold War Echo
Artist: Rest You Sleeping Giant
Track: Jazzmasters and Delay Pedals
Artist: Philipp Weigl
Track: The Scent of Cedars
Artist: Steve Combs
Track: A Vital Piece of Music for All Your Soundtrack Needs
Track: Stage 1 Level 24