Inside Reproductive Health, Ep 20

Breaking the Stigma of Infertility through Film: Maya Grobel, Infertility Advocate

In this episode, host Griffin Jones spoke to Maya Grobel, a licensed social worker and psychotherapist who focuses on working with people experiencing infertility; additionally, Grobel and her husband, Noah Moskin, created a feature-length documentary about their own infertility journey titled One More Shot. Jones and Grobel discuss her own personal journey as well as the need for education about embryo donation.

Griffin Jones: Today on the show I’m joined by Maya Grobel. Maya is a California-licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist. She belongs to the mental health professional subgroup of ASRM, and SEEDS, which is Society for Ethics in Egg Donation and Surrogacy. She is very passionate about working with this population and the concept of embryo donation. She has written for various media outlets, including the New York Times, Fertility Smarts, and Pregnantish. You might know her from the same face I first found Maya, which is a documentary, feature-length film that she did with her husband Noah that aired on Netflix that’s still available at the time of this podcast on Netflix, and iTunes and Amazon and Vimeo on Demand, called One More Shot. Maya, thank you so much for coming on Inside Reproductive Health.

Maya Grobel: Thank you for having me.

GJ: This is a cool segue, because for National Infertility Awareness Week, we’ve been talking to more people from the trying to conceive community, and not just the field of fertility the professional side of the field we normally talk to. You’re an interesting bridge, because you’re a MHP who helps people in this space. I came to you because my Creative Director, Ashley, said, “You have to watch this movie, it’s called One More Shot.” I don’t watch a lot of TV, I don’t consume a ton of content in general. But I had the flu a couple of weeks ago, and i thought, well, I just can’t sit physically at my desk right now. I need to lie down, and my workaholic guilt is bugging me that I’m lying down, so if I watch One More Shot, it would be… serving dual purposes. I can’t tell you how much I admired it, partly because this is the type of story telling that I always wanted to do for clinics, it’s better to say that I wanted to help clinics create these stories and tell these stories for their patient base. It’s not a super-high budget film, but it’s probably something above many marketing budgets, you just had access to the length. But talk to us about how the documentary got started, why it was important for you to tell this story, then how the heck it got on Netflix.

MG: Sure, and this was beyond a low budget production, I’ll just tell you. We didn’t have an actual video camera for the first two years of shooting. Because it’s quite expensive to go through infertility treatments, let alone also try to make a movie about it simultaneously. So, definitely, production was low-budget, but what was important was that we were telling a very specific story. And you know, it's kind of great timing for us to be chatting, with National Infertility Awareness Week you know being now, or coming right up, because the main goal of this film is to create awareness about what it really is like for patients, for somebody, an average couple, going through fertility and trying to figure out how to make a family when the old-fashioned way just doesn’t work. It’s about our relationship, and throughout the film we interview different people who created their family in different ways, through egg donation, through surrogacy, adoption, you know… and to me, that was really helpful, because it helped me realize if you’re open and if you’re flexible, emotionally and mentally flexible, and your goal is to parent, then you will have a family, some way. So, y’know, we started this journey of making this film with no intentions to make a film. Noah andI met in college, in a film class, and our DP, our director of photography, Gabe, we also lived together in college, and we just filmed stuff. Noah would edit, splicing film and cutting it up, and the two of them were both film majors. So it was really natural for us to document and to film big events in our lives since we were 20 years old. So we tried to conceive for two years naturally, with some basic early tests and doing some clomid and just me being with my OB-Gyn, and we weren’t getting anywhere. I was thirty at the time we started this process, so it wasn’t like I felt we had missed the boat, or allowed too much time to pass or something, and everything on basic tests looked healthy. And I do yoga, so… (laughs) I look healthy. We tried for two years, and we decided it was probably time for us to see a reproductive endocrinologist. Before that meeting, we thought, well, let’s just see if he’ll let us bring a camera— not knowing where it would go. And so we just shot that… and that was really— it sounds kind of crazy to admit it just kind of unfolded that way, but that was just what we did. We invited Gabe along to this first— actually, now that I say it out loud, it does sound kind of crazy. “We invited our friend with the camera along to the first RE appointment…”

GJ: I couldn’t imagine… talk about that conversation with Gabe, and did you and Noah have a precursor conversation to that, because I couldn’t imagine two of my friends saying, “Hey, let’s have Griff come along and just document everything that we do.” Or was it just, we’re just gonna go to this one appointment…

MG: We had a conversation… again, it was normal to us, because we just filmed stuff, we documented… Noah works as a television producer, Gabe is more on the educational side, but he’s a professor at USC in digital media, and digital media… this is what we did. It was very normal for us to say, let’s bring a camera and just start documenting. We felt like we might be needing to do IVF, which felt like a very big deal. We thought, ok, maybe we’ll end up doing IVF, and this would be a really interesting 3-5 minute document for our child about how this child came into the world in a different way. Babies are made one way, and now, with science, they're made in another way. So it was, for me, going to be a really personal story. At the time, also, by two years into trying to conceive, I had really uncovered this underground world of the TTC community that I had known nothing about. I had no friends going through infertility, everybody was actually having their first, second kids, so I didn’t have a community, I didn’t have anybody that I related to. And I didn’t find materials that related to me and my experience. You know, there’d be some video of an empty nursery with the rain, and like a sad woman crying, and like, yeah, I felt all that, but that didn’t describe my experience. So I thought, ok, we can make this little video, and maybe we throw it out there to the world to show what it kind of really looks like for people, because it just doesn’t really exist, so that was my intention-- sorry, go ahead.

GJ: Where did you find the TTC? You said you discovered them? Where, how?

MG: I googled trying to conceive, and then all these acronyms came up, and I was like, oh my god, this is a whole new language, I don’t even know what this means. And oh, y’know, here’s these diagnoses, and here’s this, and there are these blogs. I started my own blog, called Don’t Count Your Eggs. Really, it was so that, whatever, I didn’t have to talk about this with family and they could just read what was going on, you know, in a way… for me, I process through writing. So I put this blog up, and also I have roots in social work and advocacy, and I just felt like sharing was an important piece, because this is such an isolating experience, and there’s so much shame and stigma associated with infertility, and I was going, wait a minute. I have a medical diagnosis here. Why should I feel ashamed because it’s taking place in my reproductive system? So I started blogging, and my blog actually, it was nominated two years in a row, it’s a two-year failure… It was nominated for the RESOLVE blog of Hope, and whatever. I started to build a little bit of a community, and really learn about what people were going through. The emotional challenges… people would write me from all over the world, talking about in this country, egg donation isn’t legal and how the MI started.. It just opened up this whole… new world of fertility struggles, and I went, whoah. What we’re going through is the story of 7.3+ million people in America, alone, let alone the rest of the world, who have real barriers. Single women who don’t have access to certain treatments in different countries, and so many things that I kind of just went… okay. Y’know… documenting this felt a little bit more important. And we never knew where it was gonna go, but…

GJ: So at what point is this in the timeline, when you start having that feeling, because it doesn’t sound like it’s in the beginning when you’re asking your friend to come along with the camera… at what point.. Is it several months in? Is it… because this is a long journey.

MG: Yeah… it was kind of… we just started filming, and we just said, we’re just going to keep filming. We had a camera in the house, we interviewed each other… and I should add, my husband, he and I have very different temperaments. I’m quite open… not that he's’ not open, but I’m kind of outspoken, and I share really easily, and I don’t care if it’s about my vagina, I can say the word vagina, I’m okay with that. And he’s a bit more introverted and processes a little differently. So it actually helped us go through this emotional experience with having a camera there. I feel like it gave him a little bit of a barrier, to kind of be behind the camera, as like a safe space from my emotional expressions. And as we started going through it, and kind of working on it together, it also gave us something tactile to do. We were trying treatments, inseminations, ovulation tests, trying naturally, y’know, we were just doing all of this stuff, and nothing came of it. And we kind of felt like… all right. We can’t really make a baby, but maybe we can make a film. Again, it started out being, maybe it’s a seven minute film, maybe it’s a ten minute film, maybe we could submit to festivals. As our life and our reproductive adventures, for lack of a better word, start to unfold, we were just kind of down this abyss. ANd we realize, ok, this didn’t work, that didn’t work, and the question came up, what do people do when nothing is working? You know, when you’ve got the best doctor in town, and you’re spending the money and you’re doing the acupuncture, and you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do, what happens when you want a family, and your body isn’t doing what it needs to do to get there. And that became a really important question. How do you talk about it with people? How do you process things as a couple? He and I were together ten years before we started trying, so we had a pretty solid foundation, but the relationship gets shaky at times. And I think that’s an honest truth, and the way IVF is kind of sometimes portrayed in the media, it’s very, y’know, “We went in and did this and now we have twins!” But the honest truth is that it’s ugly, it’s emotional, and it’s stressful. I think we really transitioned to knowing that this was gonna be a larger project, a full-length film after my sister donated eggs to me, or to us, and that cycle didn’t result in anything. It was this moment where I was just broken and devastated, and my husband, who had to constantly play this role of husband vs. film producer, I was sobbing, and he was like, this is awful, this is terrible, I don’t know what we’re going to do, but it’s kind of good for the movie. That allowed us to go, ok, we have a different focus. We can say the end is going to be there, we’re going to figure this out, we just don’t know how yet. So everything along the way became part of our journey. And we actually, after that we started following another couple, Candace and Tomaso, who are parents through… because, we realized, we couldn’t film forever, and we might not have an ending. That was the hardest conversation to have. We were kind of like, ok. We’ve spet tens of thousands of dollars already, we’ve done IVF, we’ve done IUI, my sister donated eggs to me, we’re… just kind of coming up to a head here. So we started interviewing them more and adding them into the film a little bit more, because they have a happy ending. Adoption exists, it wasn’t something… we engaged in researching adoption, to see if it was a good choice for us, we weren’t there yet, but we knew we could get there of that was it, and we just knew that we couldn’t film indefinitely. So… that was probably the hardest conversation to have, but again, these were real conversations. This stuff is expensive, and people have to make choices that consider all of their resources-- financial, emotional, relational... mental health, all of it has to be considered in making these decisions. And your belief system, too, about getting help, having a surrogate or a donor or whatever else, so it’s really all of these fundamental pieces kind of come together, and that’s what this film is about. It’s a really good resource for patients and most of the people who watch this film and write to us from… it’s in 40 countries, so we get comments or emails from all over the place. It really connects to patients, but as we’ve been showing it more in different places, inviting REs and doctors and whatnot, we’ve really gotten great feedback from the doctors about understanding what happens behind closed doors for their patients. What is it like emotionally when you bring out the egg donor conversation. It really helps with patient sensitivity and it helps practitioners and medical staff, y’know, we used it as a training for a pharmacy out here, and it was helpful for people to be able to see this is what the emotional stuff is and this is why some of these women come in kind of nuts. (laughs)

GJ: It had to be long form content, too, in my opinion, because this story’s been told via vlogs and it’s been told via, certainly via highlight clips from the clinic side, but I think it has to be told long form this way, because there are so many existential self debates that you and Noah were having both with yourselves and with each other, it’s like, yeah you have to have this… all throughout the journey. There are so many micro decisions that are… you talked about the scene with your sister and deciding that she would donate eggs and that was…. A tough decision for you and Noah. You know, and you’re thinking this out and you’re talking this out… this had to be long form because there’s so much nuance to it. Just to say, y’know, the journey’s hard because people say dumb stuff, like, if you just relax it will happen-- we can capture that in a social media card, but really, to go through all of the forks in the road you have to take to where you’re going, it’s like… is it over, do you do something else, and there not being a clear-cut this is the perfect solution for you right now. To me… this is the best way that somebody who’s totally unfamiliar with the journey could understand it.

MG: Yeah. And we have, like, two hundred hours of footage, so… getting it down to the ninety minutes that it is, was… y’know, was hard, but also I think it was coherent. In that moment with my sister ,where we’re deciding, it takes a little bit of time and space to show this transition from y’know, an idea like egg donation being kind of scary and weird and uncomfortable, like my sister and my husband are gonna make me a baby? What is that about? And that transition from that being kind of strange to that being like ok, maybe that’s the best choice, it’s interesting, I’m curious about it, how do I shift perspectives, how do I understand what that means, so it’s like you’re moving through these doors from weird to interesting to accepting that this is what you’re going to do and feeling comfortable and confident. And I think that when I work with my clients, and I”m a therapist now, and I specialize in working with infertility patients, and we talk about this shift through these different doors, because I think it’s so valuable, but if you told me I was going to be a parent through embryo donation when I started this journey, I would have told you you were out of your damn mind. But it took all of this.. stuff, the pieces of this journey to be able to move through this door of weird and uncomfortable to curious and interesting, and to what I think is most [inaudible], to exciting, which is a hard word to always use, but confidence, you can’t engage in something that is going to create a child unless you’re totally confident and comfortable that this is the right thing for you. And y’know, Noah and I thought we’d have a glass of wine and do our thing and have a baby (laughs), and so this idea that we were going to have other people’s genetic pieces and doctors and y’know the years and years and tens of thousands of dollars to finally get to a point where we thought we’d literally have a bottle of wine and do-- that’s a hard journey, and you need a little space to tell that journey. So it’s a full length film because of that, and because it sort of had natural dips-- natural moments of defeat and triumph, and we wanted to include other people’s stories, because that’s what was helping me. Because it’s such an isolating journey, the infertility journey is just so isolating, it really helped me to see that you can make babies and have a family in a different way. And it wasn’t weird. And I think that’s the missing piece-- it’s normal. We don’t have a weird family. We have a beautiful daughter who was an incredible gift through embryo donation. It’s exciting for us, and she’s the child who was always meant to be our child, and we have all of those feelings, but it’s just important to normalize that different families come together in different ways.

GJ: I think it’s so important for clinics to tell the story in this way for their patient base, because I don’t think it’s useful to just say, we’re people that always make babies and it just turns out into a miracle like that. Because there’s so much more nuance to it, and ultimately, when people discover that it isn’t that, in a nutshell, that’s… they’re going to be disappointed and even angry with the people that led them to believe that’s what it is. I also just… I don’t think it’s good marketing, I don’t think it’s responsible, and also I don’t think there’s a ton of value in saying, this is the story of the people we serve. The story you tell is one of what people are going through, and I think the honesty of that does have a ton of value. I don’t think that we need to pretend to be… to have a hundred percent success rate. Nobody does that overtly, but it does tend to kind of be.. What people say. And I think that even when I’m talking with providers, they’ll say, well if you do three rounds of success, the probability goes up beyond 70%, depending on the age group. But that’s still not 100%, and the stakes are still pretty high. So to me, it seems like also a really humanizing way of being able to see how this interaction between provider and patient works. Maybe you could just talk about that, because to sort of wrap up my long thought here, is that I don’t think that your provider was portrayed as perfect, but I think because of the human relationship that you had, it would make someone see, that’s a person that I would trust that I would want to talk to about solving my problems.

MG: Yeah, I think as a patient, y’know, our doctor was really like the captain of our ship. But as a patient, you have to be able to trust your doctor. It is a very vulnerable experience to go through, but I think what is best or most helpful for providers is to be able to have an honest conversation about this is what I can do as the doctor. Nobody’s guaranteeing a baby at the end of this, but I’m going to use all that my training has to offer to get you what you want, which is, y’know, most likely a child that’s genetically yours that you carry, I’d say. But there are also other options for you down the line that I’m going to help guide you towards if we get there. That kind of feeling is like, we’re going to help you, and we’re going to help you to the best of our ability. Doctors make babies from scratch— reproductive endocrinologists. It’s amazing what they do. They’re not necessarily therapists or… their job is not always in the emotional realm of all of this. So they can refer to mental health, which is helpful a lot of the times, but I think part of is they just have to recognize that it’s just an emotional component, and really figuring out what each doctor is comfortable with in terms of that element. The emotions are there. You’re taking emotional people who are stressed out, and then you’re jacking them up on hormones… it’s gonna come into your office. (laughs) Knowing how to manage that and having the language to instill hope but now false advertise what you’re able to do comes out as very honest and caring, that a provider can say like, this is what we can do, these are the percentages perhaps, but at the end of the day, if you’re open to other ways of becoming a parent, there are other ways to do that and I will help you get the information you need to make the best decision for yourself.

GJ: I think they’re worried about in doing that sometimes is I think they’re worried about their transparency and honesty and diligence being misinterpreted as a lack of confidence and/or losing out to someone else who says we’ve got great success rates and we’ll get you babies. I think there is some legitimacy to that. I think the positioning needs to be crafted really well, because from my personal experience there are people who just sell marketing solutions [inaudible] so I am very up front in the onboarding process with potential clients and sometimes that does result in people choosing not to do business with us. I say, here’s the process. This is what we do. It isn’t magic. We get results, but it comes from these things and it has to go in this order And sometimes it would be just easier to find somebody who says, we’ll have you so busy in a couple months, just sign the dotted line here.

MG: Yeah, I mean, as a patient, marketing aspect is not at all my strength, I can only speak to my own personal experience or experiences as a patient. If I’ve been to a doctor’s office and he said or she said, I’m going to make you pregnant, 100%, I’m gonna walk right out the door. Because that doesn’t feel genuine to me. IF I went in to someone and… I think what our doctor said was pretty good. “These are all of the different ways people have babies.” At the end was adoption. And so step this, step that, step that… and I went, okay. ANd he said, so there are choices. I was diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve, that was our issue, and he said, we’ve gotta get you pregnant ASAP, but I don’t know exactly what’s gonna happen yet. ANd this is the first thing we’re gonna try. And we did IVF before IUI, so actually we kind of did IUIs to buy time, because they were like, y’know… we went for it. I trusted his intentions and his skills and his success rate was great, and y’know, your rates are posted on SART or whatever else, and that’s something that an informed consumer can find, so you don’t have to talk about it that much. But yeah, a guarantee of a baby wouldn’t have sold me, personally. Maybe it does for other people.

GJ: The point could probably just be summarized that your way of telling the story is an alternative way to just touting a certain metric, and it’s one that effective and makes an emotional, honest, and genuine connection, that I also think is more thorough. It would be better for the relationship for people to sort of know their provider in that way or anyone they might work with. You did mention something that has been a recurring theme in the patients that I’ve spoken to this week for National Infertility Awareness Week, which is y’know you mentioned, I have a medical condition, why wouldn't I talk about this, why wouldn't I want to connect with other people. I don’t know people that are dealing with this themselves in my personal life, I have the ability to find other people, to share with them. I talk about this because in the field sometimes, there’s a tendency to have a self-fulfilling prophecy where we’re not encouraging or even allowing the infrastructure for that. I will show people that this is what people are saying on blogs, this is what your own patients are saying on social media. I’ve given talks at conferences where people say, Our patients don’t want anybody to know. They don’t want to talk about it at all. I just think that concluding that way is making that decision for them. There’s always going to be people that don’t want to share or connect with others. That is completely fine. But I think when we say, universally, especially amid all this evidence to the contrary, that people don’t want to talk about it, that we’re making that decision for them. Do you ever run into that self-fulfilling prophecy?

MG: Well, I think it’s hard to assume anything that anyone else wants. It’s better to know that people have different styles and this can be very private for people, but the more the industry promotes secrecy, the more shame gets built into it. And that’s just… an equation, almost. So it’s kind of like I think people don’t know how to talk about it. I think language is really hard. Patients often feel broken, the language around infertility is kind of terrible. You say, you failed an IVF cycle. Well, let me tell you something. I didn’t fail it. IVF failed me. But y’know, the way that everybody talks about it, it’s like, I failed, I failed. When you say that over and over again… two cycles, my IUI failed, y’know, I’ve been told that I’m a failure [inaudible] in different ways, and y’know I laugh about it. I have a good sense of humor. But that word… listen, all of the language— diminished ovarian reserve? That doesn’t sound great, right? It’s, yes, they’re diagnoses and they’re labels, but when fertility patients are constantly wearing the language of these labels on our foreheads, it becomes internalized. And so I always say, the IVF wasn’t successful. I correct people. Because that’s the truth. It didn’t work-- it wasn’t successful. Providers can use that language to destigmatize the experience. All right… that cycle failed. Or you failed that cycle. People will use that language, and it doesn’t feel good, but that’s what it is. There needs to be a real shift in the whole industry about allowing patients to feel okay about sharing if they want to. There are cultural reasons why people don’t, personal reasons why people don’t, y’know, and all that can be taken into account. But assuming that people don’t want to talk about it just isn’t true. And there’s so much happening underground, like, y’know, social media and boards and I”m not on any of that stuff, but I know a lot of people who are. And that’s where they get the support, that’s where they feel normal, and that’s where they feel whole. Because what happens is, if your reproductive system isn’t working, you start feeling like the one thing I’m supposed to be able to do as a woman or as a man is procreate. And that biological urge to do so and whatever roadblocks are there come to head, and you start feeling bad about yourself. I definitely have those moments, and then I went, time out. If I had cancer, I wouldn't sit in my house crying by myself only. I’m sure that would be part of it. But I would want to connect to other people, I would want to share… it’s a personal thing. Leave the choice to patients-- if you want to share, this is how you share. If you don’t, that’s fine, too. But giving them some of the tools to destigmatize by using language that’s a little bit more positive than failure. There's an easy way to say… it’s easy to say, IVF didn’t work as opposed to failed. As you can see, I’m transitioning to really educate. (laughs) If that’s not clear… I just actually formed an educational organization with a girlfriend of mine that is focused, it’s called Empower. It’s focused on educating everybody and giving tools to people to everyone involved, clinics, patients, on how to talk about this stuff, how to process it. Because there’s just so much fear and things have been done a certain way for so long, and the landscape is changing a little bit, and the needs are changing for patients, and there’s more advocacy happening, and people aren’t as ashamed as they were. When you look at sperm donation, sort of the history of sperm donation and things like that, I think more men are [inaudible], but I think the landscape overall is changing, and people do want to hear other people’s stories, and they do actually feel better when they share, sometimes. But it’s a really personal choice, and I think doctors-- it’s in the best interest of doctors to honor the different preferences.

GJ: That brings you partly, I suppose, to meetings in the field. We met at Pacific Coast Reproductive Society. First question, I just have to know, is that I noticed you from the movie, I recognized you from the movie. How often is that happened?

MG: My range for celebrity is quite narrow, let me tell you. (laughs) Which is fine. I’m not an actress. I have no desire for any of that. I’m just not shy, I guess. I felt sharing was more important than my own dignity, or something. (laughing) It is a very intimate film. ANd there were moments where-- listen, I was like, put pants on. But it’s really honest and raw and real. To your question, I don’t walk down the street and..

GJ: No, but does it happen-- can you count on one hand, two… has it happened?

MG: Yeah, I mean… it happened the other day. I was sitting at a coffee shop in my area and this woman kept staring at me. And I was like, what, is there something on my face? And she just came- I was alone, I was doing some work. She came up to me, and she was almost in tears, and she said, I just watched your movie and I showed my parents. I made my parents watch with me, because we’ve been going through this, and I haven’t been able to talk about it, and when I do, they don’t understand, and so we all sat down together and watched it, and for the first time, I felt connected to my family again for the first time in years. We’ve been going through this secret thing for so long, and thank you. That was… that’s it, for me. That one person… we do get emails a lot, like I said, from around, and y’know, I got a really nice email from an OB in… somewhere in the middle of the country recently who has been delivering babies for like 30 or 40 years or something like that, and his daughter… he’s dealt with fertility in his practice in one way or another, and his daughter started having fertility problems and was going through IVF. And he wrote that this film brought him to tears and helped him understand his daughter’s perspective and all the patients he’s worked with over the years, and how he delivers babies. [inaudible] and we get different bits of this, so it’s no so much about recognition as much as it is about helping people who feel isolated and marginalized feel connected and seen and heard and validated. And that their story… like I said, our story is just a version of so many other people’s stories who have to let go and find different ways to build a family. The constant process is holding two sides of grief and loss and fear with hope and optimism and curiosity in two different hands. The patient is standing between these two buckets of emotion, and constantly trying to navigate and negotiate. And ultimately, hopefully people find their way to a resolution. And sometimes that resolution doesn’t necessarily mean a baby. Sometimes that resolution can mean something else.

GJ: ANd that brings you to embryo donation and working with people who advocate for embryo donation and facilitate that. What would you… what is the goal here? In either provider education or patient education or advocacy. What… what do you want to accomplish with embryo donation? What do you want people to know?

MG: I’m really at the beginning stages, informing this Empower. I mean, really at the beginning stages. The goal, though, is embryo donation is a fairly new option. And I just… it’s hard, because it’s considered a disposition option, on a form. At the beginning of your IVF cycle, it’s donate to science, full on discard, or embryo donation. To me, people need a lot more information to make this disposition option. It’s not exactly a box you check on a form at the beginning of your fertility journey. That comes up a lot of different ways, I think the needs of donors need to be addressed differently. I think the fact that most clinic-based programs are anonymous, that’s gonna shift a lot, and should shift a lot, and just with 23 and Me and all these different ways, I think anonymity is gonna change a lot. I just really want to be able to provide some personalized information for the field of embryo donation. I’m sorting out exactly what that looks like, sort of literally as we speak, but i just think that’s really important. There are something like 1.5 million embryos on ice around the country, or something like that, but the number of embryo donation cycles are under 2000, I believe, or right around there. So there’s this disconnect. And I think part of that disconnect might be related to education and accessibility. And people ask me, people that are interested, I get emails from people who are like, how do I find an embryo? I had my own kind of bizarre process in finding an embryo, but it does need to be a little bit more accessible to people. So that’s why I’m trying to dig in a little bit.

GJ: How would you want to conclude? Our audience is mostly practice owners, physicians, and practice managers, being National Infertility Awareness Week, we probably will have more people from the TTC/Infertility community listening, because we will be sharing there. How would you like to conclude your narrative of the journey of what you’ve been through and where you want to see it improve?

MG: I don’t know, I just think in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, we just need to continue to push the message that there’s no shame and there shouldn’t be stigma attached to fertility struggles, and that more than anything, especially with our film, the message is one of hope. I cry a lot, and there’s a lot of hard things, but the ultimate message to me is if you want to have a family, and you’re open, there are different ways to do that in this day and age. They think that practitioners and doctors and medical staff can really hopefully just be more sensitive to the emotional aspect of the fertility journey and support their patients in seeing the bigger picture sometimes. And just being really hold space for some of the emotional stuff and to refer to mental health if it feels like too much in-house, essentially, I think the message is one of hope, especially this week-- that’s what we want to drill home. It’s really hard for a lot of people [inaudible] to amazing, incredible things, and if everyone were a bit more sensitive and use more positive language, perhaps we could further the cause a little bit.

GJ: The movie is called ONe More Shot, it is available on Netflix, iTunes and Vimeo. The story of Maya and her husband NOah and their infertility journey to embryo donation. Maya Grubel, thank you so much for coming on Inside Reproductive Health.

MG: Thank you. Thank you so much.