Today, Coterie, a modern babycare brand, announced its Becoming Parents campaign to show that there are various ways to build your family.
Not all paths to parenthood are the same. So much of what we see culturally points to a simple heteronormative journey, so this campaign is Coterie’s opportunity to celebrate and share all of the glorious and inglorious journeys to Becoming Parents.
The Becoming Parents campaign consists of a moving short film, The Modern Guide to Parenting, and a book titled Not Another Parenthood Guide. Both showcase the reality that many people face varying challenges on their way to becoming parents; the film with a visual depiction of the misconceptions surrounding a “typical” path to parenthood and the book with powerful personal stories from their customers, Coterie employees, and familiar names such as actress Tia Mowry. Stories range from adoption to infertility and surrogacy and beyond, and 100% of book sales will go to BabyQuest, available at notanotherparenthoodguide.com.
The Baby Quest Foundation provides financial assistance through fertility grants to those who cannot afford the high costs of procedures such as IVF (in vitro fertilization), gestational surrogacy, egg and sperm donation, egg freezing, and embryo donation.
Ms. Mowry has been open about the difficulties she experienced when trying to have a second child following her endometriosis diagnosis. Below, she shares her journey and why she feels it’s vital for everyone to understand that even an unconventional path to parenthood doesn’t make it less special.
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Being Diagnosed And Making Changes
“I was diagnosed with endometriosis in my mid-twenties, and I had no idea what this word even meant,” said Mowry. “For you to get properly diagnosed, you have to go through surgery.”
Dr. Lowell Ku is a Reproductive Endocrinologist at Dallas IVF. He did not treat Ms. Mowry but understands the struggles and stress his patients face. After he helped thousands of patients, Dr. Ku and his wife became fertility patients themselves. “While a pelvic exam, ultrasound, or MRI can be administered, a laparoscopy is the only way to diagnose endometriosis and can provide more conclusive insight into the location and extent of your endometriosis,” Ku explained. “In some cases, a doctor may even be able to treat the condition during the laparoscopy.”
Dr. Ku described endometriosis as a condition when tissue similar to the uterus lining grows outside of the uterus. As per Fertility and Sterility, it affects more than 11% of American women between 15 and 44. It is especially common among women in their 30s and 40s and can make it difficult to get pregnant.
“Hearing all of this at age 25, I was devastated,” said Mowry. “I didn’t know what infertility was. It was just not a part of my vocabulary or a part of my world.”
Mowry’s doctor advised her to change her lifestyle if she wanted to have children. So it was after Mowry’s second surgery that she delved into learning more about her health, wellness, and diet.
“I’m so grateful to my doctor as she put me in the right direction. I would even write these authors and ask to sit and have lunch with them,” explained Mowry. “I went on this incredible journey of wellness and how food is and can be medicine.”
Infertility Does Not Discriminate
“According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, more than 6 million women between 15 and 44 struggle to become or stay pregnant — whether they’ve previously had kids or not,” said Dr. Ku. “Of those, one-third are estimated to have secondary infertility, and 1 in 4 endure a pregnancy loss.”
“When we were trying for a second child and experienced a miscarriage early on, it was on Christmas,” shared Mowry. “I was on the floor, and it was terrible. I was overwhelmed and crying. When you are a public figure, everyone automatically assumes that you have this perfect life and puts you on a pedestal. So I was afraid to share all of this at first. But what motivated me was after changing my diet, exercising better, and getting a better outlook, my doctor felt that these changes and newfound journey helped me conceive eventually. I knew then I couldn’t keep this story to myself. There are women not being taken seriously who felt alone, and I wanted to help. I am where I am now because I can help other women and people feel good about their path to parenthood and not feel alone or ashamed in any way.”
African-American women are around twice as likely to experience infertility compared to white women. However, only 8% of black women seek medical help to get pregnant compared to 15% of white women. When asked why she thinks this is and how we can change it, Mowry answered, “I think it’s just lack of awareness, plus, we lack the proper resources to provide us with the understanding we need. I think that’s the major issue there. We’re often not even part of the conversation. So many cultures are dedicating their time to making this country a better country. We should all get that equal opportunity and have us be a part of the conversation because the more awareness there is, the more visibility there is, and the more proper treatment will be.”
Not Another Parenting Guide Initiative
On Coterie’s Website, it reads, “Get married, have sex, and 9 months later, a baby arrives. Right? The path to parenthood has been oversimplified for too long, with outdated norms that don’t reflect our lived realities. It’s time to change the way we talk about becoming parents.”
When Mowry connected with Coterie, she loved the campaign and felt like they understood her story. “What this whole campaign is about is dismantling the outdated norms in how to have a family,” she said. “It also encourages others to be excited about sharing how they have their families like IVF, gestational surrogacy, and the powerful stories of families that have had challenges and triumphs. It’s not always the perfect picture that we see that may leave other feelings insecure. It resonates with me. The goal is to have everyone feel some togetherness and community – love that just because it’s not happening the traditional way doesn’t mean you’re any less than.”
Advice For Others
When asked if she had any insight on how those in the trying to conceive trenches can advocate for themselves considering the stigma around infertility and that it can take seven and a half years before getting a diagnosis of endometriosis, she advised the importance of trusting your gut.
“You are the only person that understands you like no other,” she states. “You are the biggest and best advocate for yourself. I also recommend finding a mantra. I always tell myself, ‘You’ve got this!’ Whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, lost, or depressed, give yourself a positive mantra. You also have to be your biggest supporter. It was very helpful for me.”
Speaking as someone who had her own infertility journey, I’m so appreciative of those like Ms. Mowry, who are using their public platform to raise awareness around this issue. It is exciting to see this initiative celebrate parenthood no matter how you build your family, and I hope that the more we share our stories, the more we remove these stigmas.