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  WINDY CITY TIMES

pregnantish magazine hosts 'Vegas Baby' screening, talk
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2017-11-20

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The magazine pregnantish hosted a screening of Amanda Micheli's film, Vegas Baby, and discussion on infertility Nov. 14 at theWit Chicago. Vegas Baby is an award-winning documentary following the lives of aspiring parents of all orientations who are struggling with infertility issues and the costs associated with those treatments.

The documentary follows a single lesbian woman ( Athena Reich—a Lady Gaga impersonator ) and two straight couples who won a free round of in vitro fertilization ( IVF ) treatments from the Sher Institutes for Reproductive Medicine ( that Dr. Geoffrey Sher founded in 1998 ). The winners were treated at the centers in Las Vegas and Manhattan.

The "I Believe" video contest had more than 100 entries from the across the globe and was first voted on by the public and then an outside group of infertility activists and bloggers from around the country who had no ties to Sher decided on the winners among the finalists. The documentary noted that Sher was acquired by a larger company and no longer holds this contest.

Etiquette expert, speaker, author and the Today Show's Mister Manners Thomas P. Farley moderated a Q&A with relationship expert and pregnantish ( first and only content site focused on infertility and fertility treatments ) Founder and Editor-in-Chief Andrea Syrtash, reproductive endocrinologist and Fertility Centers of Illinois President and Medical Director Dr. Christopher Sipe and The Broken Brown Egg ( African American infertility awareness organization ) Founder and Teen Services Librarian Regina Townsend who was also one of the judges featured in Vegas Baby.

Syrtash noted this is pregnantish's debut event in Chicago and the first event they have held in the Midwest. She explained that the site was launched nine months ago to help single and coupled folks of all orientations and gender identities navigate the world of fertility treatments and infertility.

Farley opened the discussion by asking what pregnantish can do to break the stigma. Syrtash said she hopes her site will de-stigmatize the conversations around infertility and/or starting a family 'with help.' When previously asked why LGBT people are included in her site's focus, she explained that pregnantish is committed to capturing the story of how many modern families are created today, and this includes non heterosexual people who are building their families with the help of fertility treatments.

In terms of Townsend's experiences, Farley asked about one of the quotes on her site, "everything you have ever wanted is sitting on the other side of fear." She indicated that although she had infertility issues she was terrified of trying IVF and did not talk about it with her husband for a long time. Townsend said she wanted her doctors to try everything else but when she was told her tubes were blocked she had to let the fear go and finally talk to her husband about IVF. She noted that she is still navigating how to interact with people on her site now that she has a son but she decided that is was more important to share what happened when she went through IVF to have her child.

Farley asked Sipe about treating each patient as an individual and remaining unemotional with his patients. Sipe said he learned in medical school to separate oneself from their patients but it is the opposite reason he became a doctor. He noted that he went into medicine because he likes people and wants to help them but unfortunately realized that he cannot help all his patients despite his best efforts.

As for how their interactions with LGBT people, Syrtash spoke about the interview the site ran during Pride month featuring a trans man who got pregnant via IFV treatments. She noted the some of the other articles in the LGBT section including one centered around a lesbian couple who wanted to have children.

Sipe said LGBT clients think the only issue they face is mechanical but that is not the cause because anyone can be infertile. He added that same-sex couples come in with set ideas about who is going to be the biological parent but sometimes the other partner may be the best choice to conceive a child.

Townsend explained that her lesbian cousin helped her understand how LGBT people navigate having children. Her cousin was also the first in her family to break down the cost of IVF, and that it may not work as well as highlight the fact that many of the people in their family have PCOS, including herself. She said her cousin motivated her the most to do more with her blog which is focused on connecting people so they can get the help they desire.

Townsend spoke about being skeptical at first when Sher approached her to be a judge. After reaching out to others, Townsend came around because she thought about why she started her blog in the first place—to illuminate the stories of people ( especially people of color ) not always represented during infertility conversations— and how empowering it was for her to tell her story online as well as her conversations with the other judges.

Vegas Baby is available to stream on Netflix.

See vegasbabyfilm.com/, pregnantish.com/, fcionline.com/ and www.facebook.com/TheBrokenBrownEgg/ for more information .


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