A fertility healing blog


No one looks like us! There are no stories like us! Imagine thinking that as you and your partner go through your fertility journey.

In this episode, Carolina dives deep with Jenni and Marianne Ortega into what it is like to navigate fertility treatments and family planning as a lesbian Latina couple. We soon discover there is no representation of queer couples in fertility resources, reading materials, or even photos in the specialists’ offices.

Jenni and Marianne are sharing their personal fertility journey to break the silence of what it is like to conceive as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. This episode is essential to every person to become more informed and how they can support other gay couples on their fertility journey.

What you’ll learn:

  • 2:13 Struggles in finding resources for Latina couples
  • 8:55 Fertility clinics they’ve been visiting
  • 12:50 What not to say to a queer couple who are trying to conceive
  • 16:58 Their reaction when society tells unsolicited advice
  • 22:40 Story of sperm buying
  • 32:17 Love languages and their importance
  • 49:08 The Ortega’s one piece of advice for people who are sharing the same journey with them

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Professional bio
The Carolina Sotomayor Podcast is brought to you by Carolina Sotomayor and the Fertility Foundation.

Carolina Sotomayor is an Expert Womb Healer who helps women conceive by removing physiological blockages with Reiki. She is the host of the Carolina Sotomayor Podcast, a show that covers everything from fertility to postpartum to motherhood, and the creator of Fertility Foundation Collective, an online membership that helps women heal at their own pace to boost their fertility.

Carolina has served over 500 women from around the world to heal. She is passionate about helping women create their families. As a result, there are over 60 reiki babies in the world.

Fertility Foundation Collective: https://carolinasotomayor.com/membership
Carolina Sotomayor Reiki: https://carolinasotomayor.com/
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Full episode transcript:

Hi, and welcome to the Carolina Tomorrow podcast. I’m Carolina, your podcast host and expert womb healer. Just in case you haven’t done it already, make sure you subscribe to the podcast and if you wanna support us, go ahead and leave a review and give us a rating. We would really appreciate that. Thank you so much.

Today we are interviewing and talking to an amazing couple. Our topic is Infertility as a lesbian Latina couple. I wanna welcome Jenny and Marianne Ortega. Hi ladies. Hello, where are you in the us? I always like to, I’m in Nebraska. Where are y’all? We are in El Paso, Texas. A little town. Well, we’re not little, but it’s the only town in Mountain Standard time, but we are in Texas.

As far west as you can get. Yes. I’ve only been recently, I got stuck for a few hours in the Dallas Fort Worth airport, but I’ve never technically been in Texas anywhere other than that airport or Houston airport. I need to make a trip to see you all. Yeah. So. I am so excited to dive into this topic because the number one reason one is Jenny and I are friends because she’s in my Fertility Foundation’s collective, which is my monthly membership to help women conceive with Reiki and heal.

But the number one reason that I wanted you on the podcast, Is to share your story, but also representation in the fertility space. There’s a lot of representation of white couples, white women, and those kind of representation. It’s really difficult to find. Resources, books, magazines, articles online for Latina couples, or whether it’s same-sex couples or hetero, it’s really hard to find any representation of Bipo or even for the lgbtq plus community.

Would you agree? Yeah, definitely. And real quick, we just wanna say thank you for inviting us on. We’re so honored. We’re very excited. We love your podcast. Yeah. But yeah, no, definitely. I think there’s just not enough out there in general for queer couples. A lot of the literature that we see is just super outdated.

It’s not enough. Yeah, it doesn’t reflect obviously what like medically is going on right now. You know, these books were written quite a few years ago and so they’re not reflective of what queer couples are trying to do as far as trying to conceive or like for us that we are. A same sex couple, but we both want to have that opportunity to carry a pregnancy.

That’s just not something that was really talked about, you know, back when, when these books were written. So yeah, it’s just, it’s definitely a lack of representation. So you wouldn’t know where to go or what to do, or even like how to have hard conversations. Probably a lot of the research was our own. We had to.

You know, even in, and even in looking things up on the internet, it was geared towards a lot of heterosexual couples trying to conceive and, and being diagnosed with infertility. But it’s like what people don’t talk about a lot, I don’t think, is that as a queer couple, I feel like you’re kind of just defaulted to infertility because we don’t have the option of, you know, just trying to conceive the old-fashioned way at home and, you know, that type of thing.

So it was a lot of information about what to do for you and your husband. Mm-hmm. , what to do for, you know, your, you know, standard family, I guess, if that’s what you wanna call it. Right. But we, we didn’t have, there was not a lot of stuff out there, even on the internet more recently about, You can do as a queer couple trying to conceive, let alone like a Latina couple, you know, coming from Mexican backgrounds, like how to broach that with your family and how to, how to talk about how difficult it can be.

There’s, there’s not a lot out there. So I think we picked and choose, like pick little things from here and there, from this person and that person and their experience. So we had to just create our own little bubble of information that we. Did you call and get more information? Like did you call around and were able to get more accurate, modern information by actually like calling doctor’s offices?

So if a lot of the resources were outdated, you took what was you could for pull from them. But I imagine like in El Paso, in that area, you and I had discussed prior is that there was only two Reis. Did you make a lot of decisions based on. Consultations and phone calls and things like that. I can imagine if there’s a lot of outdated information, you would have to do a lot of in-person or actually footwork to get where you needed to go.

What would you say? Yeah, no, definitely. We researched it pretty early on. We found out, yeah, there was only two res, one was a male, one was a female. I have a thing with male doctors, no shade, but, so we moved on with the female one who is gay also, and so it was just, we had an amazing doctor who would sit with us and answer all the questions we had.

So it was just, I love. But we did still do a lot of, well, I know that even before we figured out that there were two here in El Paso, you know, there are some that are like national. Mm-hmm. , like infertility clinics that have either, you know, the opportunity for you to fly out to them or whatever. Right. So we even made sure that we were calling them and saying like, look, this is my wife and I, this is not, you know, where my husband’s not coming with me to these appointments.

This is, you know, us trying to conceive and we always had to make sure. Put that forward first because the last thing we wanted was to show up to an appointment, be excited, and then be like, who’s that with you? . Yeah. Or she can’t come in. Right. Or, cause we’ve had had some instances with other doctors, not even fertility kind of.

Making comments about us. Mm-hmm. , like, oh, while she’s your girlfriend, not your wife, where she was my boyfriend. Mm-hmm. , it wouldn’t have mattered. So we do have to kind of, because you can lie your way through, I guess as a straight couple, you can say like, oh no, this is my husband. Mm-hmm. , and no one will say, well, show me the marriage certificate.

But this was, yeah, years ago, not even fertility related, just hospital visits or things like that where it was, you know, you can’t say, oh, this is my. and they’ll just right away, believe you, they would probably, they may wanna see proof or they, mm-hmm. , they could make a big stink about it. So, Have always been really careful and especially because we knew that this was a big thing.

Yeah. As important as it was to us, we needed them to know from the jump. And we also were like consciously listening to their reaction. It was like, this is my wife and I trying to conceive. And so if there was a long pause we were like, Ooh, that’s not good. It , you know, we wanted them to be like, yeah, that’s fine.

And like no hesitation. And that’s exactly what we got with our doctor. We were really lucky and, and then that’s when we figured out that she also conceived. You know, a gay person and she is also Latina, so it was like we knew that we were in a good place to fit. I love that. So you became hyper aware of the 90% of the communication that’s nonverbal of like the side eye, or like if there was a second person, like they’re looking at each other?

Mm-hmm. or something like that. That would deter me from a practitioner for sure. Or a medical provider if there was even like the slightest. I’m like very sensitive to doctors and again, I always choose a female provider just because of my own preferences, but Right. I had certain wishes in my birth plan and

I know I was asking a lot, but non-verbal communication is so important to pay attention to, but especially when you’re like interviewing and choosing providers that are going to provide a loving, supportive space for you as a lesbian Latina couple that are like, this is our. We’re creating a family. We want to, the whole process, we want to, in just invoke a container of love around this whole journey to make it as easy as possible.

So I imagine that, uh, that must have been so hard going through. Did you look elsewhere? You had mentioned Marianne. You were looking outside of El Pa. I mean, there are fertility clinics that I think are just really popular and just very like synonymous with anyone that’s trying to conceive. Mm-hmm. , like some clinics in New York.

There was Colorado. Colorado, a smaller fertility clinic that we saw that had a location in Phoenix. Mm-hmm. and also one that was a little bit closer to us, I wanna say Las Cruces or something. I think that’s so. You know, before we understood that there were options here, I think we always just kind of, I always assumed like if we wanna start a family, like we have to go to a bigger city.

Mm-hmm. . So, you know, we had talked about, yeah. If that means driving a couple of hours, if that means driving six hours, like. I guess that’s what we would end up having to do. And I guess the same is still true. Like if we were to have to move to I V F versus i u I, we would probably have to add some kind of element of travel.

So we had to look at all the different options and there are the ones that. Everyone tells you about, you know, the very big clinics where they’re doing this on a day-to-day basis. Mm-hmm. , but we also didn’t really like the idea of being like a number at a place. You know, like, you know, a conveyor belt of appointments, you know, every 10, 15 minutes.

We were very, very lucky. That our reproductive endocrinologist, or if not her herself, but one of her partners within the clinic, they did every single one of our iis. Yeah. Which is very rare, apparently, like follicle checks. Any questions we had, it was our doctor. Mm-hmm. . We didn’t speak to any nurses. We didn’t speak to, I mean, they were there.

Yeah. But it was her every step of the way. Mm-hmm. . And if she wasn’t there, it was another doctor. . It wasn’t just, oh, well this technician, or Oh, this, this nurse. It was doctors, which, yeah, the level of care you had. Uh, exactly. I find that just quite a few of our members in the membership. They lack that great care or relationship with a doctor.

And when I hear of like I have other clients, like I had a client, a one-on-one private client in Florida. She had suffered multiple miscarriages, but after that, miscarriages they had done, finally they did hormonal testing. And then when she finally got her first Reiki baby, she’s on her second Reiki baby, the doctor would see her.

Almost like every 10 days she was getting some kind of like ultrasound done cuz she had severe P T S D from like diagnosed from the traumatic losses. Like the miscarriages were so painful and so severe. When I hear. Cases like that. And then I hear like cases like yours, and then I hear cases where the doctor’s being dismissive or just tells the woman that she’s whining, oh my gosh, it makes me itchy and super enraged , like, why like this?

They want a baby. Why aren’t you hold? Like, and ugh. It just makes me just enraged. Like when people don’t get the doctor. That they deserve. That’s why I believe that in advocating or having these hard conversations, what should you be asking? I’m so glad that you were matched with like someone that was taking such good care of you.

It makes me heart happy. Yeah, it, we really, really got lucky. Mm-hmm. . It’s amazing. So now that we talk about the happy stuff, let’s talk about the ugly stuff. Yeah. So like, what are we doing now? Let’s talk about the shit . So the shit that people say it shouldn’t come out over your pie hole. The microaggressions with infertility.

So what we as society need to become aware of, listen up. This is what you need to not say to where queer couple who are trying to conceive for the people in the back. This is what you don’t say to a queer couple. Please, please don’t tell us. That we could just go about it the old fashioned way and save ourselves some money because what you’re insinuating is terrible and not helpful at all, and just really, it’s like, Homophobic, , you know, like homophobic.

You tell us like just, you know, somebody, find a guy, find a guy and make it happen. Like, not at all. Something that I wanna do ever, like literally ever. And especially not like to try to make a family, like, it’s just not, it’s not a helpful thing to say, oh my God, there’s so many wrong things about that.

like, as if. As if that person didn’t actively choose when they were dating, who they were gonna get, like choose as a partner and then get married or have a relationship with mm-hmm. and then have sex with, and then make a baby with, or you know, if they do it like effortlessly or it was an oops baby or what, by inadvertently wasn’t trying at least, at least you liked something about that person.

Choose that person outta Manufaction. Mm-hmm. . I’m not penis . That’s, The penis is not involved here right now. That’s not an element. No, no, and even just the whole fact of us having to buy sperm was such a, a weird conversation to have too. Yeah. I can’t imagine. I can’t imagine. I don’t, they grade them too.

Like this is like grade A. This is, it felt like a dating profile and that’s kind of what I tell people when they ask about it cuz it’s so funny. People really don’t know. They’re like, so is, what did they say? People have said to me, they’re like, do they test it? Like do they know it’s good? I’m like, they better for them.

I’m not worth paying. Like it’s not just some random dude. Also, people have asked me before they say, do you get to pick. And I’m like, yes, we get to choose. We get to, there’s, so my lack of awareness and knowledge about infertility just in general, let alone like sperm. Mm-hmm. , yeah. Any kind of donor conceived pregnancy that there’s just so little that they know and, and yeah, it’s, it’s almost laughable at certain points.

But yeah. Then when people say those kinds of really harmful things, that’s, that’s not, you know, funny anymore. Cause it also goes back to people even saying, Oh, while the donor, they call him a dad or Oh, while the father, and it’s like, no, no, you don’t say that either. Either. That’s not what we’re doing.

The fact is, is a kid is not having a dad. Two moms, this is just a donor. Yeah. That’s it. So I think that’s another thing that people say to us all the time. Like, does the dad look like look like? Yeah. Oh God. Oh, I don’t know. Cause there’s no dad , . Have you ever heard of that Netflix documentary? Our Father?

Oh yes, we watched it. Oh my gosh. It was insane. So I think it’s becoming more and more about embryos adoption and things like that, about insemination, and it’s becoming more mainstream. But the problem is what’s becoming more mainstream are these really horror stories. There’s not any. Positive stories of like a loving queer couple or even wanting to create a family and, you know, selecting the process.

There’s no like documentary on like, on showing like happy story. Yeah. The happi happily ever after part. No . I guess that doesn’t sell in Hollywood. A lot of people say, so a lot of things that people will say to a couple non-queer or queer are just relax, just get drunk. What do you feel like when people say that?

What is your reaction or what comes up for you, for your feelings? Well, I think for me, because it it people mean well, I know that they do, you know, these are not our family or friends, luckily. people in our lives are much more aware of. Can and shouldn’t be said, but it’s like the coworkers or you know, the things like that where they don’t really fully understand what we’re going through.

And I have heard that quite a bit. Like, you know what you should do, you know what worked for me. Mm-hmm. , I went to, you know, on a vacation and I got drunk and it just happened and it’s, you know, It’s like, obviously that’s not how it’s gonna work for us. Like, you understand we’re gonna walk into a doctor’s office, like we’re gonna, you know, like, this isn’t, this isn’t all, everything is, so it’s not like, let me hold on doctor.

We’re gonna wait. We’re gonna go take a couple shots, we’ll come back. Yeah. Like, that’s not, that’s not how it works. I’ll be so drunk. Well, like during this post, it’ll be, it’ll come out splendidly. This is a recipe for a successful implantation. Yeah. That’s never been recommended by our re, you know, that’s just, that’s not how it’s gonna go.

Oh, I can’t imagine saying that to like someone that’s gonna insert something into my vagina. Just minute. Lemme take a shot to take the edge off. Right. Let me relax a little. Just gimme a second, please. Yeah, yeah. No, wait. So that brings up a question. So like, if a person is anxious during one of those i u I procedures that you’ve gone through, have they ever offered you something pharmaceutical to relax you?

Um, I’ve never been offered anything. I mean, I get nervous, but it’s never been to. Point of like a panic attack or an anxiety attack. So I feel like if I was, maybe they would or like wait a little bit, but I’ve never, it’s honestly, and maybe people know, maybe people don’t, it’s so quick, it’s quicker than like a pap smear.

I don’t think people know. Yeah, it’s literally like a pap smear. It’s, so what we’re talking about is when you’re going in for insemination for an i u I. Yes. An actual i u i. It’s the most, maybe five minutes. Yeah. But that’s really like, it’s three minutes and it’s done. So it’s super, super quick. So I think once I did the first one, it was like, oh, okay, I can do another one.

So it’s not so. Nervous about the procedure other than obviously, you know, are we gonna get pregnant? Hoping it works, hoping it works, that’s different. But as far as the anxiety during it, it’s, there’s no time really to feel your feelings in that three to five minutes. So I have, I have another question.

Yeah. When you buy the sperm, do you buy enough sperm for multiple insemination, or can you buy a sperm for just one insemination? How does that. Also things. Aren’t researched enough or given enough literature on, we actually bought enough, I think, too many. Yeah. So you can buy ’em in bulk, you can buy them individually.

It’s just a tank. And each vial, you buy them by the vial and each vial is one attempt. Right. So we, you know, unknowingly, sort of naive, maybe naively we bought, I think it was five. Yes. Part of the reason that we bought five is because, Bank, the sperm bank was gonna give us a year of free storage because it’s not enough that you pay for it.

Then if you buy multiple, they need to be stored. And our fertility clinic doesn’t have a freezer. Some do, I’m sure the bigger ones do. Right. But our fertility clinic didn’t have the option of like, oh, just ship ’em all and we’ll hold onto them. They had to be stored with the sperm bank, and that could have been an additional cost, you know, for the fact that, yeah, those five vials that we bought were used.

Like a full year. Mm-hmm. . And so we would’ve had to have paid for a year of storage had we bought less than that. So, you know, for better or worse, that’s how many we bought. But now looking back and after, you know, thinking about it a little bit differently, we probably would not have done that looking back because they do say, and again, it’s like, how true is this?

Right? We don’t really know. But it’s been said that if you. You know, do a couple of insemination with one donor and they aren’t successful, but you have, you know, good follicle, like there’s no other real extenuating circumstance that would make it unsuccessful, like try a different donor because you just may not be compatible, your body may not be compatible with that donor, so we.

Yeah. Yeah. , we went through, you know, the five that we had from one donor. From one donor, and then for our sixth I u I try, we had to get a different donor one because we wanted to try a different donor for, you know, research purposes, I guess. Mm-hmm. , but also because I think that the donor that we had chosen before wasn’t available.

Right. There’s also another thing you, you get into is, , we bought five thinking I would get pregnant in one or two, and then we would have enough for Maryanne to go ahead and use the same sperm so that our kids are, you know, genetically related. Mm-hmm. . But I think we’ve also come to the terms that it doesn’t really matter to us as much.

So if we buy one from one donor and one from another donor, like I don’t think it’s, there are kids no matter what. Yeah, exactly. So a lot of information on sperm buying then. It’s out there. Yeah, because it’s like you just have to figure it out on your own. I think that probably that’s gonna be very valuable for listeners because can you imagine like another young or another like.

Queer couple that are trying to conceive, like they may not know if they’re encountering that. I mean, I have one client that’s trying to conceive on her own and she’s having the worst time trying to find an embryo. She can’t use her own eggs. Trying to find the right embryo, but also like. The authenticity that she’s wanting, and that’s very hard.

She’s wanting a Latin baby and there’s just not a lot of an embryos to choose from. There’s different ones, but not for what she’s looking for. And also then an embryos, like a lot of the donated embryos are closed, but. The embryos that are going to show you this is the makeup, this is the race and background of, of the donors mother, father of the donors, male, female.

They want information on who’s receiving the embryo. And so that’s the, their circumstances. So like there’s these donated embryos for her. But she doesn’t get to know the background or the makeup or race or anything about it. That’s right. Then if she does choose, then they want all the information on her and she wants privacy.

So it’s really just an interesting space that nobody talks about, like or how difficult it is for her as a single woman that she wants to do this and they’re like, where’s the partner? Like, why can’t you just do it by yourself? Just as a society and, and even medical providers, there’s still so much deconstructing of our biases that we have to do.

So if you were to have people in your life that were needing some phrases or what to do on how to properly show you support and love in your fertility journey, what are some things that they could say? Or do to help you through that. So we’ve covered like what not to say. Mm-hmm. , what should they be saying instead?

So I’m gonna plug in real quick right here and say, if you haven’t joined Carolina’s collective , you should, because she is the epitome of what people should say and the amount of. Space she holds for people is insane. So like if you know that your family is not gonna be able to say these things to you, Caroline will Yes.

Even in a that, I’ll also say, sometimes I’m talking to Maryanne and she’s like, have you messaged Caroline today? Yes. So I’m like, oh, you don’t wanna hear it. Not even that. I’m just kidding. It’s not even, I love that I’m in your marriage now. Like I’ve right into a relationship. Yes. She’s like, did you message And I.

No, but I will. So then I do. But that was just, alright. No, you’re gonna make me turn red . No, no, no. That’s just my little plus But go ahead. No, I think that if people are looking for things to say, I, I mean this is, regardless of whether the couple that is in your life is queer or not. Mm-hmm. hundred percent is, you know, if you just, you know, you don’t, you know, we talked about things you don’t wanna say, you don’t wanna say just relax.

So you wanna say like, what. Do for you? Is there anything I can do for you? Mm-hmm. , I’m holding space for you. I’m here if you need, you know, someone to listen. I’m here if you need a hug. I’m here. If you need to just sit in silence. Like there are so many different ways that I know for us personally, like we’ve processed things so differently.

I think that. I’m more vocal. I am, you know, more willing to talk about what is happening in that exact moment. And Jenny needs a little bit more time to process and then is willing to come through and, and talk about what she needs. So it’s, you know, I can identify so much. My husband’s a slow processor of thoughts, emotions, and I can, like, he hates sometimes being married to me because I can like read.

And so well, it’s like, it’s okay. We can talk about your frustration later. When you’re ready. I’m here and he’s like, , so it’s like this side eye of like, don’t read me. And I was like,

medium. When. Sorry. Surprised. Yeah, . See, I’m not even a medium, I am not attuned to reiki, but I know that there are, I can about to be see it, you know? I can sense you next month. I can sense, you know, when something’s going on and it’s like, you don’t need me to talk your ear off about it. Yeah. Or you don’t need me to press you further about it.

So I think that’s also something valuable. People outside of the relationship is, you know, if you can sense in any way that maybe this is not the time or place to have the conversation, it’s probably not because you know, I, I, you know, I’m not trying to call you out or anything, but there have been places that we are at family gatherings and it’s like Jenny’s in tears.

Yeah. Because she’s just got a lot of feelings and it’s like, you know, my family means well, our families mean so well. And it’s like, then you can see them kind of be like, oh no, it’s okay. And then like they’ll try to change the subject so you. . It’s just sometimes it, it is just about knowing like the time and the space.

Mm-hmm. , you know, knowing what, and that’s also our responsibility, right. To say like, look, today, right now I don’t have that space, or I don’t have, you know, the space to hold that or to talk to you about it. Mm-hmm. , but I also think that our families have gotten really used to, you know, if, if we decline an invitation, You know, to do something that they, you know, we, we hope that they don’t take it personally.

And we’ve explained to them like, please don’t take this personally. Mm-hmm. , it is something that we’re dealing with, something that we’re going through and, you know, we’ll let you know when we’re feeling better about it or when we wanna talk about it. Um, So that has been a huge thing too. Yeah. And also I think for me it’s a lot like some of our friends bring us flowers, which is super sweet.

Mm-hmm. And then they’ll be like, Hey, I brought you sonic drinks. Mm-hmm. Or, Hey, I brought you some bagels. So it’s thought, I’m thinking of me like, that makes your favorite sonic drink. An ocean water with cherry and cream. I have never had that. Mine is just straight up and basic cherry limeade, like, I mean the classic , , the classic for a reason.

Yeah. , this is classic, right? I’m gonna have to try that later. I, I love sometimes just going to sonic for the drinks. Yes. That’s the best. And sometimes I think food is such a great way to show love during. A period of time that it’s either a crisis or grieving or just like transition. Sometimes like pars partum after someone has a baby is transition.

So like during that two week wait, or even if you’re like still planning the fertility and you’re interviewing doctors, a good old casserole goes a long way. In the mid Midwest CAS roles. . Yeah. And we’re, we’re Mexicans. So food is, I love language. Yeah. Oh my gosh. I love that. We, we, we do that for other people.

Mm-hmm. , you know, we cook when there’s a crisis because it’s like, that’s just kind of what we were taught to do. Mm-hmm. . And so, yeah, when pretty whole our family now, it’s almost like, I feel like kind of modern, like our family will send us like a DoorDash or DoorDash and we’re like, this is so great.

Thank you for letting us choose. Like you don’t live in our city, so you can’t bring us a physical Castro, but you showed us that love that way. It’s true. So much has changed for me. I sometimes do Instacart. I’m like, tell me everything you need and you can now do Instacart as a gift. Yes. So we had them do that for us too.

It was, it was very sweet little snacks or ice cream. And I was like, that’s, that’s what I think helps the most. Mm-hmm. is like the little non-verbal thing sometimes, because I don’t want advice, sometimes I just wanna either sit in it or, you know, do what I need to do. So it’s like, okay, I’m gonna send you this, or Hey, I’m gonna this a little message.

I’m thinking of you, I’m thinking of you. And that. Got it. Some other things that I always recommend is after the hype of the event has that there’s usually like, like climactic hypes time. Like, so if there’s mm-hmm. implantation day, transfer day, whatever. Make sure as a friend or a family member you’re following up.

Like weeks after the rush of people have dissipated. So like, and understand that if it’s a coffee day or a lunch, or even if you’re just coming to spend time in their home, cuz maybe they don’t wanna leave. Mm-hmm. like sometimes home is like just being home is all they need. Mm-hmm. , but coming and sitting on the couch and you just listening.

In holding space for the other person, meaning you’re, you’re not projecting, you’re not talking about you. If they ask, then you can say, yeah, but keep it very light. Make sure it’s all about them. Yes. So that they feel seen, heard and validated. But another love language that somebody said on TikTok and I, I wish I knew who it was, was the other love language is being known.

Mm. Like having someone. So it’s, you know, like the love languages, you know, are quality time, physical touch words of affirmation acts, access service, and gifts. Gifts, gift, right gift. But the sixth love language is being known. Having someone know your ins and outs, but also like just knowing you so deeply that perhaps they’re doing all of those, but just.

just like having a best friend coming in, just like knowing like you, some things don’t have to be said. Mm-hmm. , like that level of intimacy in a friendship and a relationship in any kind of connectedness with another person is so lovely. And so like, not like, thought of as a quality. Mm-hmm. . So like if you, you know, the ins and outs of someone like that, you know, Ask, of course.

Can I come over and bring you coffee? Can we sit? Can I just have the pleasure of listening to you? Do you wanna, I call them, do you wanna empty out your heart with me? Mm-hmm. . And that’s always taken with a yes. Mm-hmm. . So like, can I just come? I want you to empty your heart out to me. And like every single close friend that I have, they’ve never declined that invitation.

And I think that that’s super important is that especially is. Just the act of your, of a loving presence can really make a difference. Or as you had mentioned in our planning call, the act of just receiving the invitation, even though you’re gonna, you know, you might say no, is also very nice. Mm-hmm. it, it helps you feel like, you know, even though maybe I declined a few days ago, you’re still thinking about me.

Mm-hmm. , you’re not forgetting about me or you know us in this case, but it’s like, You’re letting us know like, Hey, I’m still here. Like if something has changed, you know, we’re still around to do whatever it is that you need us to do. If that, if it is just kind of, Existing in the same space. Mm-hmm. not really talking about anything in particular that our friends and our family I think are really good at that.

Yeah. I’m really good at helping us, meeting us wherever we are. Mm-hmm. holding space in whatever way that means. And a lot of times it does mean like, Coming over. My sister will come over and do her nails here at our apartment. And it seems like it always kind of fell in with our like two week wake time.

Right. And it was just like a nice thing for us to be able to sit here, watch something, talk about something, laugh about something, and you know, not be consumed by, yeah. By everything else that’s going on. Yeah. Sitting there in our own thoughts. Mm-hmm. thinking about, you know, is this working? Is it not? Is this a symptom, is it not?

It kind of like broke up the cycle maybe. Mm-hmm. . Got it. That just somebody who’s presence is just so especially soothing. So I’m gonna switch gears a little bit. As a Latina, there’s a lot of stereotypes. Yes. Like for example, if you get looked at, you become pregnant or that you’re expected to be good at cooking, you’re expected to be bilingual.

And then the last one is . You’re expected to be able to pop out a baby, let alone a whole litter, so quickly and effortlessly. So how do you manage or work through these stereotypes and cultural. Expectations with your life because those kind of pressures and stereotypes can really mess with your mindset and actually your core beliefs.

And then in turn, inflict these internal struggles for yourself. Mm-hmm. that cause anxiety and spiraling. How do you like work through all of that? I think it’s bringing education to people who don’t know things. For me, I mean, I have a very Mexican grandmother. A very Mexican mother, and so things were just not talked about growing up and.

Infertility in general has never been talked about, isn’t talked about. Majority, I think in Latino culture. Mm-hmm. . But I think, especially in my family, cuz nobody’s had to do what we’ve had to do. Mm-hmm. , I’m the first person to come out as gay. I’m the first person to have to do, you know, what we’re doing and infertility.

So I think educating them and stopping them and kind of honestly meeting them where they’re at and their willingness knowledge and their knowledge has helped a lot. So it’s not just assuming or. , but we’re also not, you’re not trying to like belittle them for their lack of knowledge either. No. Cause it’s, it’s just something that we didn’t grow up with.

Yeah. And knowingly their knowledge isn’t just there. Mm-hmm. , I think that like dealing with the stereotypical thing of how easy it should be mm-hmm. for us to get pregnant. I mean, I feel like even. Though we are having to go through fertility, fertility treatments, I think that naively again, and maybe because of our own kind of bias that we’ve had in our heads, I think we thought it would be easy, right?

Like I think we, we also kind of fed into this idea of like, yeah, we’ll have as many kids as we wanna have, as quickly as we wanna have them, as easily as possible. But you know, that’s not always the case. and I think that that is something that we kind of had to unlearn and then we have to help our families and our friends unlearn as well.

Like it’s not the same for everyone. Like Sure. Do we know people that it was super easy for them? Definitely. But it’s like, I feel like infertility, whether you’re a queer couple or whether you’re a heterosexual couple, nowadays I feel like it’s just more prevalent. And maybe it’s just because it’s, it is more talked about more, you know, recently in, in the recent years, you know, it has become a thing that people are more, a little bit more willing to share about.

You know, I feel like. Even, you know, Jenny said she is the first in her family to come out, first in her family to go through all this. Like I have a sister who’s gay, she has children, and even our situations are very different because there are different diagnoses involved with us versus them, you know, and they did what felt right to them.

They, you know, didn’t. Upfront. You know, we found out that they were pregnant at the 12 week mark, which is also something that we as a society have decided is what should happen. You know, you should wait until you know, and you should be sure, but I think that’s also a Latina thing. Cause it’s like you don’t wanna jinx anything.

You don’t wanna this and everybody is, you know, Doing what they have to do. But I think there’s a lot of little things thrown in there of the Latina culture that it’s like, oh, you don’t do this. Mm-hmm. , you have to put a safety pin on your belly when there’s full moons. Yeah. I dunno if you’ve heard that one, but there’s so many like I have not heard.

Yeah. That my friend who’s Nicaragua, she told me, she goes, have you ever heard that as a pregnant woman or if you have a new baby, not to go outside in the new, in the clips, because then they’ll create a birthmark and then they’ll be cursed forever. I was. What? No, that’s not true. Yeah, that’s not my belief.

She’s. My abuela told me it’s really . Yeah. Cause it’s generational and generational. So many things that what they said, they said, I had a person say, but I’m like, no. But yeah, it just, she’s, I think that, yeah, she’s, she was, she’s like, birthmarks mean something. And it is like, I don’t have any . I don’t, I don’t have any, my son doesn’t have any, and my husband doesn’t have any.

She goes, good. That means Ramon did it right? She stayed out of the eclipse. I was. I don’t know that those are very common. . Yeah. All the time. I don’t know about that. And wait, her last name is Grio. Uh, so we call her Cricket, uh, . kidding. Cricket is Grio in Spanish, so I’m like, Cricket. Like literally we like Hering.

Stephanie, I’m outing my best friend on the podcast . And I’m like, so cricket like that’s not true. Like, but I want to believe it too. Like Right. But tell me why. I wanna believe it too. , but really isn’t. No, it’s not . Yeah. But yeah, so yeah, Hispanic culture has like a lot of interesting things always unpack.

Wow. Yeah. My grandma has a story for everything. That’s why you shouldn’t do this, because you know what happened to so-and-so’s baby that time? Yeah. It’s because they, and they’re like everything. I like everything. , everything. I’m like, you just made that up right now. And I’m not my grandma, but in general, what I love most about your communication with your family is that you.

You met them where they’re at with such embracing of love and understanding that you didn’t shame them. Like Marianne, you mentioned like you didn’t shame them or belittle them for the lack of knowledge. I think that I had a coworker who once told me, you don’t know about it because it’s not your season of life.

Mm. Like I was a single person, didn’t have children during the time that she was having her children. And I was like, why can’t you just come? Like, why can’t you just come to dinner? Yeah. Yeah. And like she’s like, every night of your life is date night because you have no children. And I was like, . Right.

And I was just like, I remember that conversation cuz she went from my boss to, she worked, we worked at two jobs together. She was a very wise woman. And . When I had oie, I was like, you know what, you’re a fucking right . I was like, I was an asshole. And she goes, what do you mean? I was like, when I was dating my husband, I was like, man, I could do anything, go anywhere and.

Whatever I wanted. And I had so much more money than I do now . Cause there’s a little, little tiny human Nema Ali that’s with us. And I was just like, man, I get it. You have to get a sitter and then you have to have the anxiety that you trust a sitter. And just like you just, so like my whole point now that long tangent is that like people just don’t know because it’s not their season of life, it’s not what their journey is going through.

And that doesn’t mean it’s wrong, it just. It’s not their journey, but it does help to meet people where they’re at. Meaning like have like an acceptance and an understanding. Okay, so my aue doesn’t know what an i u I is. She doesn’t know that we have to actively go by the sperm, right? That there’s no penis around in our house.

So like, Maybe I just have to break it down, like

sperm, like can imagine like rice is so bad. But, uh, that one always gets at like, no, I don’t, it’s really bad. It’s really bad. And like, I and I was like, you know, like, no, we’re not doing that. So what has been the biggest struggle? Through your journey infertility, like what has been the biggest struggle? I think it’s, again, the lack of just information that’s out there.

I had a regular period, I was on time every month, but I didn’t know that periods. we’re not supposed to be painful. I didn’t know that X, Y, and Z shouldn’t be happening. I shouldn’t be throwing up during my period. Because of pain. Because of the pain. I, and I think also goes back to the Latina culture. I wasn’t allowed to feel those things.

Cause it’s like, well, why are you in bed? You’re just being lazy. No, you have to go to school like it’s so hard, honestly. Yes. And so it’s like you have to hide that and then you go to the doctor. I did my annuals. Everything was fine. Even my re thought we. A good candidate, cuz my periods were fine. I was ovulating, we were tracking for probably like six months, almost a year before we went to her.

And so lo behold, the time before we’re supposed to do our first i u i, she realizes I have endometriosis. So then we have a surgery, which is obviously like nobody tells you you can’t get diagnosed really without a surgery, right? So we have a surgery. We have a surgery, and turns out I had stage four endo, which has been there for probably your whole life.

My whole life, and so it’s just, I think a lack of information on just. Listening to your body, what we go through as women. And so it’s like the other side of the same coin is like, it’s also not the best thing if you are missing cycles. Right. And you know, you say like, oh my, I hear it so often, my periods irregular.

It’s fine. And it’s like, not to say that in every case it’s not, but Mo, you know, it really is. It’s not great, you know, it’s something that you could get, look, have looked into or you know, something that’s worth doing your own research on if you know it’s worth an evaluation with your doctor. Exactly.

Exactly. And so even, and a doctor who listens to you also, because I think a lot of doctors. Are very passive and it’s like, oh, I’ll just go on birth control. Oh, we’ll just do this. And it’s like, that’s not fixing the problem. That true root cause on it. Mm-hmm. what’s not how much let’s treat the symptom.

Yeah. Right. Yeah. Like, oh, you really were feeling that much pain? It’s like, yeah, I was, but it’s like even as young as I, I remember 16, 17, 18, going to the doctor. and them not believing me cause I was just young and dumb. But it’s like, you don’t know my body. Mm-hmm. . So I think that with infertility and fertility in general just goes hand in hand and like advocating for yourself and knowing, no, I’m not crazy.

Like my periods are what they are. Or knowing, hey, I don’t think this is right. Like, can I do research on that? Or can we look into this? So I think that’s been the biggest thing with, with navigating through all this is just. You have to kind of figure it out on your own. It can really relate to the lack of knowledge about your period.

I didn’t know anything about charting, so when they asked me like, how long has it been since your period? I was like, I don’t know. It comes every month. Yeah. And I was like, we’re like, how many days long? Uh, how long is your cycle? I was like, I don’t know. It comes usually on a moon and , I would see the pattern.

It’s like, I think it comes on the full moon, but then it changed through the new moon and now it’s back to the full moon. So I did never know. It was like, but like no one ever told me, like I spent so much of my life trying not to get pregnant. That. , uh, when it’s time to get pregnant, you just expect that it’s going to be okay.

So like, you know, one in eight is the statistics that suffers from infertility. Mm-hmm. one in four suffers from a loss. Mm-hmm. . So it’s just so much like with the struggle with infertility that just. If we have the conversations mm-hmm. , it would just be so much better. I actually just a sneak peek. I am interviewing actually this whole next season is gonna be definitely about a lot about.

Period. Health in womb health in general and just having like different like actual medical providers. Actually from the uk we have a lady from California. We have a Chinese medicine doctor, an MD that only focuses on fertility and pregnancy and California Coming on the podcast, it’s gonna be flipping wild and amazing.

When I was interviewing each of them, one of them is called the period Whisper. Just so many things I know. Isn’t that the best name ever? That’s the best name ever, ever. . Uh, shout out to her. So many things about our periods that we didn’t know about, and I think the more knowledge, the more conversations we have about our vaginas.

Yes, about our. And about our options for good care and advocacy for ourselves and empowerment, everyone would be better for it. Mm-hmm. , I have one last question. If someone was listening and they were, or if they identify as a queer couple and they’re looking to try to conceive, what is the best advice for them to have going forward?

I know you’ve given a lot of advice, but what is one. Piece of advice for them for their journey that you wish you could tell them? I think that because you’re putting emphasis on couple, like we’ve talked a lot about like, yeah, picking a doctor, picking sperm. Mm-hmm. , like all the little tidbits that we’ve picked up along the way.

But I think that if you can just make sure that you prioritize your relat. even above the trying to conceive part. You know, like obviously it’s the, it’s what we want. We want to create a family. We are doing everything that we can to try to conceive, but it can’t be. The only thing that we’re thinking about.

Mm-hmm. , we have to think about our relationship still. We have to think about our life outside of trying to conceive, outside of trying to create a family. Like you have to prioritize the time with your person and you have to prioritize making sure that you check in with each other all the time. I think that that is one thing.

I mean, obviously I can’t recommend that everyone write a blog , you know, like I know that that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. That’s not something that everyone wants to do. It’s something that we decided to do because, you know, it helped us keep our family informed. It helped us spread information when we learned something new, like it helped us get that out to the people that care about us.

But, I think that even if you’re not gonna write a blog and like publish it for people to see, I do think that what has helped us along the way is like if you, even if you just like notes app on your phone, write out how you’re feeling about something, you can go back and look at that later and say like, wow, like I really wasn’t processing this at the moment.

I really wasn’t, you know, realizing that this is how I was feeling right then. But I can see it now, you know, a few weeks later, a few months later. A year later, I think. and that way. If you do it together or if you share those notes with each other, you can kind of, cuz I know that , I’m not calling you out again.

am I? But like, you know, there’s different processing speeds, right? And like, I’m like, we leave an appointment. Wait, I, we leave an appointment and I’m like, so what about this and what did you think? And, and what are we gonna do? And Jenny’s like, hold on, . Yeah. I’m like, hold on, wait. We just love the process.

Wait, but no, I can identify with Marianne. So I’m like, whoa, before we leave the parking lot, let’s figure this out. Yeah. Yeah. And so even me, I ride a couple things and she reads it. She’s like, Hey, we, I’ve never heard this story. Or, Hey, this conversation already happen. I didn’t felt this way. So I think communication in general with your partner, The biggest thing with being a queer couple, there is not the hardest part, but it’s like, yeah, we’re trying to be inclusive so that both of us feel included during this process.

Which one partner could feel less included than the other. The person who’s trying to get pregnant and the person who is supporting, it’s supporting. And so I think checking in with each other constantly is key because I’m always checking in on her like, Hey, what can I do to make you feel more included?

There’s never a, a divide of like, oh, well I’m trying and you’re not, there’s never, you know, putting her down. It’s always, Hey, what can I do to, to make you feel included? Or we talk about it like, oh, we’re trying to conceive. It’s very much wording for us. Mm-hmm. . And I think that’s the biggest thing is when you’re with somebody to check, Hey, what are you comfortable with?

If I say this, are you comfortable if I say this or her saying, Hey, I really didn’t appreciate you saying this. Okay. Like we can change that. So I think it makes, it’s made us com like our marriage completely change for the better. Mm-hmm. and the past year of us trying to conceive has honestly brought us closer because of the communication we’ve had.

Mm-hmm. . So if it’s a, when advice, it’s communication and being open. Because I can be marriage goals. You really are marriage goals, . When I hear like you can easily identify a couple who has great connection and the a deepest yearning to wanna have that emotional intimacy that you’re clearly have and are explaining and those who don’t because the willingness to, to check in, checking in.

I think also like being intentional with the kind of communication you’re having, cuz not every communication’s the same. Right? Confirming, like I received this, confirming, and then also like also being willing to change is so important. Change wording, change behavior. Change action, change plans. I think that’s the biggest thing that I see.

And. Just as awareness in other couples that either don’t make it mm-hmm. or struggle is that okay, you do the check-in, but the adaptability to change for the other partner or other spouse, whatever. That’s the biggest thing is being willing to adapt to what is needed. Mm-hmm. . And I think it also comes down to when you’re happier in your relationship, you’re willing to change when you’re versus unhappy.

Oh, for sure connected. So when you’re in love or, but when you feel connected and you have that emotional connection with someone, it’s easier to make the changes. And when that disconnect happens, the change or like it comes from, oh, I need, when you said X word on this day. goes to, she’s nagging me or he’s like, versus, so I think prioritizing your relationship and knowing like your relationship is first and you’re still living life.

And there’s this extra arm of like, and we are doing fertility, but we, yeah. We’re, we have our, we have our marriage, we have our couple in our partnership, and we have our life going forward. We have other goals that your fertility is not defining you. Yeah. I think that that’s a good takeaway of like, we are trying to conceive and we have this, but it’s just one, one arm of like the rest of our.

Yeah. Mm-hmm. one piece of who we are, you know? Right. Yeah. And we’ve been together for a long time, , and so. There’s times where we have to stop and remind ourselves like our eight, like our 21 and 23 year old selves would be happy. Where, where we’re at right now. Like let’s live in this moment in like the home we’ve created and the life we’re creating.

And so, A baby would be cool. Yeah. But it’s like, let’s just sit in what we’ve created and what we’ve worked for. Mm-hmm. , because even my teenage self would be happy to see where we’re at. Mm-hmm. , regardless of Fertil, like infertility and a baby. Like this is what we’ve worked for. So I think stopping and like, I know people say like, oh, well stop and look around you, but like, honestly sometimes, like Caroline would say, to ground yourself.

Mm-hmm. and so, and reflect Bria. Yeah. To reflect. Yeah. And to really see. Like we’re living the moments that we’ve dreamed of when we were younger. Mm-hmm. . And so I think stopping and realizing that also as a couple, as a queer couple, as a person is, is key. You’ve arrived to navigating anything. Yeah. That’s so big.

Nobody says like what to do when you’ve arrived to the place that you’ve always dreamed of. Mm-hmm. like. Well, there is food for thought. So ladies, can you please tell everyone where they can connect with you on social media and the worldwide web? So we are on Instagram at the T H E E, underscore Ortegas, O R T E G A S,

Um, that’s kind of where we’ll post about our blog postings that we try to do at least once a week. And if you haven’t read any of them, you can literally go through our entire fertility journey from start to finish with so binge worth. Yeah, I’m a creeper. I look at it. , maryanne’s. Maryanne’s writing is phenomenal.

I’m just a little added little bit. No, she, you know, put me in, but it’s fine. And then our TikTok link is there as well. We’re starting to post more on there. But finally on Instagram talkie. Yes. So our Instagram is where you can find us, yeah. And know more about our journey. Oh. Don’t walk, run, and follow them on TikTok and Instagram and make sure to read their blog.

Thank you for allowing us to have an hour of your time. Thank you for sharing your story and being willing to impact so many others. Your words and your voice are so powerful and important. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to hold space and just be in all of you and learn from you.

Thank you so much. Thank you yes, so much for giving us this opportunity. It’s huge, and it was so nice to go over all this with you and talk with you, and we’re so, so appreciative. And if you haven’t joined the collective, do it because it’ll change your life and heal so much of your trauma. And it’s the little group we have.

It’s the best community. You’re so stinky. Cute. Thank you so much. I hope you have the best day.

Infertility as A Lesbian Latina Couple with Jenni and Marianne Ortega

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