This blog post is written by Dr. Lucky Sekhon, reproductive endocrinologist, infertility specialist, board certified OBGYN, at RMA of New York. Dr. Sekhon has particular expertise in fertility...
When Tess Kossow and her husband decided to move forward with IVF, they were given a 73% chance of success. Tess had a T-shaped uterus and a blocked tube, and her husband had low mobility. Given their chances, they decided the risk was worth it to try one IVF cycle. If it failed, they’d move on to adoption. “I wasn’t necessarily wanting to be pregnant as much as I wanted to have a baby,” Tess said. They wanted to start their family any way that they could. Tess began her IVF cycle in 2017 and got two healthy embryos. They transferred one, and Tess had a miscarriage. They transferred the next, and Tess remained pregnant, and had her son who is now two and a half years old.
After Tess had her son, she decided she wanted to help others going through infertility. That’s why she created her picture book series, “I’m Very Ferris.” Her books describe the process of IVF, what is it, and how families are built. She wanted to show people that there’s more than one answer to the question, “where do babies come from”. Tess has dedicated herself to helping others learn more about fertility. “Now I’m two years in, two books later, and I’m an author and advocate for infertility and miscarraige.” She wanted to be a non-medical source on how to have conversations surrounding fertility treatments. She believes that both kids and adults should be educated about and aware of these topics. “The more we talk about this, the more understanding we all have. It helps people feel less alone,” she said. Tess is now working on a book on fertility for women, hoping to share her experience and give women the information they need.
Tess’s books serve as an educational tool for children and families. As Tess begins to share more and more about her experience, she realizes how many people would benefit from learning more about infertility. Before the COVID-19 crisis began in the US, she was asked to speak to a group of high school kids. At first, she didn’t think this was the demographic she should be speaking to about having babies. But, she was surprised by how many students were moved by what she had to say. “As it turned out, out of four different high school classes there were four young women who were conceived via IVF,” she said. ““They walked away with this sense of pride, knowing what their mom and dad went through to have them.” It was really rewarding for Tess, who was able to show these girls what it really meant that their parents went through IVF. This experience showed Tess how many people can benefit from learning more about fertility. Whether their parents went through treatments, or they want to have kids one day, it’s all important to understand. Also, learning about reproductive disorders and other factors that can impact fertility is important at a young age. If young women start to look out for certain signs and symptoms within their bodies, they will be better equipped to make educated decisions about their futures.
Tess strives to inspire conversation, openness, and honesty surrounding infertility. She believes that there shouldn’t be a stigma or shame around fertility treatments. Her books help to teach children about fertility treatments, as well as gives parents an opportunity to talk about them. “They shouldn’t be told to be quiet, or be embarrassed, or keep it a secret,” Tess said. Tess believes that it’s healthy to talk about what you are going through or how you built your family. When she was going through fertility treatments, she didn’t share her story at all. She was working in a corporate setting in human resources, and kept her personal life very private. Now that she’s shared her story, through her book and online, she’s realized how important it is to have a community that you can lean on. “I’ve come to realize that the online community is so helpful. Complete strangers from all over the world have reached out and told me that my story resonates with them,” she said. People reach out to Tess and tell her that they love her book, or that they read it to their kids every night. “You start to realize that your story is not so unique in the way that other people can’t resonate with you. It can give others inspiration and hope,” Tess said. She wants to show people who are going through infertility that they are not alone.
“I wasn’t the only person going through this. I wasn’t the first and I won’t be the last. And that’s okay- the world was made with many ways to conceive families,” Tess said. She is striving to normalize all the different ways in which families are built. Tess wants to make a difference by shedding light on infertility. “My hope is that one day, my son will go to school and say, ‘infertility is totally normal. I’m a product of IVF and I’m a normal human being. I just came a different way’”, Tess said. “I feel that my fertility journey, as simple or complex as people may think it is, is one more story to help other people.” Her books, which are available on her website, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble, illustrate how babies are often made through a mix of science, information, perseverance, and love.
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