I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Karen Jeffries, the infertility advocate, mother and teacher behind the hilarious yet all too relatable Hilariously Infertile book and social accounts. She describes her book, words and memes as incredibly inappropriate, but we tend to think a little bit of humor goes a long way, especially when experiencing difficult times. Here’s what she had to say about her own infertility journey and the advice she gives others considering IVF.
1. Let’s just get this out of the way: infertility is not hilarious. But you are… and you’ve found the humor wherever possible throughout your difficult journey. How did you make the leap from going through your own infertility struggles to inspiring others to stay strong (and maybe even laugh at times) through theirs?
I was totally alone when I was going through my infertility struggle. I had my husband, friends, and family, but no one that I was close with had gone through infertility. A few co-workers were helpful, but I felt isolated. After the birth of my second daughter, I wrote the book Hilariously Infertile: One Woman’s Inappropriate Quest to Help Women Laugh through Infertility and I realized that it was funny, and snarky and the way that real women talk to each other when we are with our closest friends. I knew that the book could help people and I, naively, tried to find a book publisher. I learned very quickly that it is hard to get a book deal. So, I started the social media accounts, even though I never had social media before. I realized early on, from the feedback I received from my followers that I was helping people; that is how I made the jump to helping others during their infertility struggle.
2. What advice would you give to intended parents just beginning to consider IVF?
IVF does not happen in a bubble. You have to add IVF onto the already existing stressors in your life, and that can be a lot to handle. I like to tell people to set the bar low for themselves, maybe your hair does not look amazing that month, or maybe you order takeout more often, maybe you stay home because events are too painful, just set the bar low. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone.
3. As a mother of two now, the first via IUI and the second via IVF – do you have any special tips or unexpected things to anticipate that you don’t hear about or see written about much?
In terms of parenting? I think the one thing that I don’t see that much is that it takes time to get into your groove of parenting, but you will get there. Also, just stock up on leggings and pants with elastic waists. You can never have too many pairs of leggings, especially for IVF.
4. Health and wellness in general are really important throughout the process of conceiving, pregnancy and even parenting. As a mom, teacher, content creator, comedian and extremely prolific perfect-meme-finder, what do you do for yourself if/when you ever get a quick break?
I like to hang out with my husband a lot. I also like to sit on my couch in total darkness and watch television. As I am writing this, I am realizing that maybe I need to find other activities for my breaks because these sound really lame.
5. Which was scarier – that first morning standing in front of your first classroom full of students ever as a teacher, or your first time on stage in that moment just before diving into your first comedy set?
Oh, my first day of my first year of teaching back in 2006, for sure. Standing on stage and doing my comedy set is easy, it is just me telling my story. Teaching is easy now too, but I did have those first day jitters back then.
6. These are strange, difficult times, but I’m guessing you’re finding the silver lining (and humor) in all of the family time together. Any favorite stories from this very different Summer ‘break’?
My husband was supposed to be away on a trial from March 1st until April 17th, at the least and I was beyond excited when that was obviously cancelled due to COVID. I really am enjoying the slower pace. I asked my older daughter to go on a bike ride with me the other day, she asked why, and I said, “Because I never see you. I never get to spend time with you. I never hang out with you.” Clearly all false comments because we have spent every minute of the past five months together, but it was funny.
Thank you Karen for gifting all of us with your candor and of course humor everyday. We wish you and your family the best!