Life After Infertility: The Unexpected Challenges of Navigating Postpartum (Feat. Abbe Feder)

Empowering Postpartum with Jessi Sletten is an inspiring show for expecting and newly postpartum parents looking to feel prepared, supported, and empowered for their transition into parenthood – without losing themselves to it. Education, inspiration, and support for everything you need to know for your fourth trimester! Watch Live every Thursday 10am MST (Zingo TV Channel 250 & 251)

Featuring: Infertility Coach Abbe Feder, Founder of InCircle Fertility

This powerful episode of Empowering Postpartum TV dives deep into the emotional journey of infertility and the unexpected struggles that can arise for birthing parents as they transition into parenthood after years of dreaming about it. Abbe Feder (aka The Fertility Chick) candidly shares her personal story of identity crisis after finally becoming a mother to twins via IVF following six long years of infertility treatments and pregnancy loss. Abbe and Jessi provide an honest look at the disconnect some parents feel from their newborns, the unexpected struggle of letting go of the “infertility identity”, and the critical need for more postpartum support tailored to this experience. With vulnerability and honesty, they discuss the paramount importance of self-care, building a supportive village, and communicating openly with partners during this life-changing season. For any birthing person who has walked the heartbreaking road of infertility, this episode offers hard-won advice and reassuring validation.

Guest Info

Abbe founded InCircle Fertility after emerging on the other side of her all-consuming struggles with infertility and pregnancy loss. During her six-year path to becoming a mother, she and her husband created the podcast Maculate Conception (audible) to process their deep grief and isolation while going through treatment after treatment. Through that podcast, women from all over the world reached out to Abbe, and almost accidentally, she began to help them on their own journeys. Abbe meets women and couples wherever they are in their path to parenthood – and wherever they are in the world – to provide the support and guidance needed to find a resolution. More than explaining what’s going on in the process of Assisted Reproductive Technology, she holds hands and hearts through the often grueling experience. She is a recurring contributor to the blogs What’s Up Moms and Fertility, Rescripted. Abbe grew up on the mean streets of New York’s Upper East Side and holds a degree in Behavioral Science. She is an avid mahjong and card player, an escape room enthusiast, and has been called by many friends a true “balabusta.” Abbe is married to filmmaker Isaac Feder (they are a true Hollywood cliche), and they live in Los Angeles with their toddler twins.

Connect with Abbe:
IG: @abbefeder and @incirclefertility
Website
Podcast

Key Points:

  • Identity Shifts (1:33):
    • Abbe Feder delves into the profound identity shift experienced by individuals transitioning from infertility to parenthood.
    • Reflection on losing her identity as the “infertile friend” and reconciling past and present selves.
    • Exploring newfound roles and expectations after years of infertility struggles.
  • Postpartum Challenges (4:22):
    • Discussion on acknowledging and addressing postpartum struggles.
    • Abbe shares her experience of feeling disconnected from her newborn twins after a traumatic birth.
    • Emphasis on the need for comprehensive support for birthgivers during the postpartum period.
    • Highlighting the significance of self-care, open communication, and building a supportive community.
  • Supportive Village (22:39):
    • Importance of building a supportive network for individuals navigating infertility and parenthood.
    • Abbe’s advocacy work aimed at creating a supportive community for birthgivers.
    • Emphasis on validation, empowerment, and connecting with others who have gone through similar experiences.
  • Coping Strategies (38:40):
    • Practical tips for coping with infertility and supporting loved ones.
    • Encouragement for proactive support and setting boundaries around expressions of sympathy.
    • Reframing perspectives and setting goals for moving forward.
    • Emphasis on maintaining hope and making progress.
  • Parenting Reframes (43:08):
    • Abbe’s powerful reframe/advice for new parents: “You run their life, they don’t run yours”
    • The importance of community and vulnerability in the postpartum journey.
    • Encouragement to prioritize self-needs and joy amidst the demands of parenting.

Work with Jessi:

Empowering Postpartum Coaching guides new and pregnant moms through the transition into motherhood so that they can bond with their baby without sacrificing their own self care. If this sounds like the support you desire for your own unique journey into parenthood click here to learn more!

Episode Transcript

Jessi Sletten  0:21  
Hello, this is Jessi Sletten, from Empowering Postpartum. And welcome to the Spanglish World Networks on ZingoTV channels 250, and 251. Please remember to download both VingoTV app on the respective app stores on iOS and Android devices. And while you download, make sure to rate and leave a comment, the app is totally free. ZingoTV is also available on Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire and fire sticks, Roku and Roku sticks and on all smart TVs 2016 and forward. We are back this week for another inspiring episode of Empowering Postpartum with me, Jessi Sletten, your Postpartum Empowerment coach, helping you feel confident prepared and holistically supported for your unique journey into parenthood. And I am honored to introduce my guests this week and Infertility coach Abby Feder of InCircle Fertility and we’re going to be chatting about the unexpected struggles birthgivers who walk with infertility stories can really experience when transitioning out of their infertility journey and into parenthood. So good morning, Abby, thank you so much for joining me today. 

Abbe Feder  1:33  
Thanks, Jessi. So happy to be here. Love your show. 

Jessi Sletten  1:36  
Thank you so much. This is going to be a really informative and I think a really special episode where we can help work givers feel not so alone who’s been through this journey. Because I think it’s not very talked about you are a wonderful advocate in this realm. And you know, touching on that I would love for you if you feel comfortable to share a bit about your story and how you came into doing the work that you do and what you do. 

Abbe Feder  2:00  
Absolutely. So my husband and I went on a very insane six year journey through infertility, literally, you name it, we went through it and nobody thinks they’re going to struggle, right? Everyone thinks, Okay, this is the month we’re going to start trying, and then we’re going to be pregnant. And nine months later, we’re going to do this right, you start planning it out in your head, my kids gonna have a Aries sign, whatever it is. I’m an ally. So you understand we do all the zodiac.

Abbe Feder  2:27  
And when it didn’t work, the first month, we were like, okay, like this, we’re struggling now, like one month in. Little did we know six years of that would continue. Wow. And, you know, I think we thought every step of the way, when we were about to take more action, maybe work with a doctor more or take more medication. We were like, I just this can’t be our story. It’s gonna happen. This can’t be our story. And it was for six years. And we were we saw multiple doctors, multiple clinics, we had a pregnancy loss and ectopic pregnancy, multiple rounds of IVF. That did not work, which also was a surprise, I thought once you move to IVF, you get the baby guarantee. And that is very surprising when you’re going through it. And so six years of my life, I mean, I basically gave all of my 30s to infertility.

Abbe Feder  3:20  
And we ultimately did have success. I have five year old twins now. Which is also crazy to think they haven’t even been in this world as long as we were trying to have them in this world. And my gosh, yeah. And when they arrived, I didn’t know who I was anymore as a mom, because I had spent so much of my life identifying as the infertile friend. And that was just very surprising. I, I wasn’t ready to like, give up that part of my story. I felt like it was so much a part of me. And I felt like even when people would see me very pregnant, you know, and I’ve heard other women talk about this, too, they would say, is this your first and I didn’t want to make them feel uncomfortable. But I would say like my first that made it to second trimester, or you know, because I wanted to honor what had what my story was and what had happened to me. But the most surprising part once having my children was that I really felt this crazy identity crisis in a way I was not expecting. 

Jessi Sletten  4:22  
Right? Well, and I think that that’s really similar for all all experiences of pregnancy and postpartum. But there’s that added layer of that, you know, the journey that you went through for not being able to attain that parenthood for so long, and then that became your identity. So that’s just a whole nother layer to that. Who am I now what am I doing like in this new chapter of my life? And how do I relate to the world around me and my family? So I can only imagine and that must have been very difficult to try. 

Abbe Feder  4:56  
It was crazy. Yeah, I think we spent a lot of I was spending a lot of time thinking about what my pregnancy was going to be like, I was not thinking about my fourth trimester at all, because I just couldn’t even believe I was going to get there.

Abbe Feder  5:12  
So and I think for many women, and I find this with my clients, too, and we can talk more about that. But we imagine us being a certain kind of mother reacting that way. For me. We’re surprised sometimes sometimes the craziness of postpartum comes because we don’t, those expectations are not reality. But for me, it was like, I honestly had a hard time admitting or acknowledging I was a mother now. Like, I had a C section, and a very crazy birth, I did not get to be my children right away. So there was like a little bit of a disconnect for me.

Abbe Feder  5:51  
Yeah, it was just it was really crazy. Ultimately, like you mentioned, my company Incircle Fertility. Once I emerged on the other side, sort of got my feet back on the ground, I just realized there’s this huge gap that needs to be filled for holding hands of people going through infertility, I think so many of us in the birthing world, have some kind of experience and learn from it and want everybody else to share that knowledge with us. And so that’s how my company was born. 

Jessi Sletten  6:16  
That’s so beautiful. Yeah, I 100% agree. I, most of the folks that I talked to who are in the perinatal realm of work, were inspired by their own journeys, right. And they went through some sort of experience that was like, Man, I think my knowledge and my experience could benefit others, you know, and so what can I do? What can I do to make it a better experience, and it’s a healing experience for ourselves, I think, in many ways with the trauma that we experienced. You know, similarly, in my journey, where I struggled so badly with my postpartum same thing, planned for the birth down to the T, right, like I took all the birthing classes, all of the breastfeeding things, and it didn’t matter. Because when I had that baby boy in my arms, everything just fell apart. And I was like, What am I doing? This is horrible. 

Abbe Feder  7:04  
Yeah! 

Jessi Sletten  7:06  
It’s just, it’s it is it’s so shocking.

Jessi Sletten  7:09  
But I really loved you know, how you mentioned just like having that gap, you know, to be filled in that space? Because I feel like, there’s a lot of those gaps. Yeah, in the postpartum realm, and in the infertility realm, and in the pregnancy realm, all of those things. It’s just not a priority for our society to support birthgivers in the many different facets of the perinatal experience. And so I love what you do. I love it. I think that that’s so important and so needed. And, you know, I just think that that surprise factor is so strong for so many of us, like when we emerge on the other side of pregnancy. Wow, I wasn’t expecting this, or, you know, because I’ve been going through this experience for so long, you know, am I going to experience the same struggles and pains as people who didn’t have to go through that journey? So I’d love if you could just kind of touch on that a little bit more of some of those struggles that surprised you in that fourth trimester. That just were totally unexpected things because of your fertility struggles. 

Abbe Feder  8:13  
Absolutely. So, again, part of the issue for me was this disconnect I felt towards my kids. And it’s hard to explain it wasn’t. I just felt like where did they like, where did they come from? This is crazy. And it was twins. So there’s like the added insanity of that. Yes. And because I had this crazy birth, I was in the hospital for quite a while. I mean of week, not not nothing too crazy. But I got so cozy at the hospital. I was like, I don’t want to leave. I mean, that was very surprising because I couldn’t wait to bring my babies home. And I was like, so cozy. I had 24/7 childcare, I could sleep when I wanted to sleep out, I was getting cookies delivered to my room at 4pm. I’m like, this isn’t so bad at all. Maybe I should just move into the hospital!

Abbe Feder  9:00  
And I think so much of the surprise came because I assumed after struggling for so long, all I would want to do is like be with my kids, 24/7. And I didn’t care so much about nursing to be honest. I knew I would try it. I had all the things that you need to do a double A tandem feed. And I was very easy on myself with it in that I was like it’s twins, I’m going to do my best. And because I had to go to the ICU for a couple of days for 24 hours after I gave birth. They immediately needed formula. And because I wasn’t available.

And actually like I was surprised that that actually felt really good. It took the pressure off of me. I was like they need to eat they need to be sustained. I don’t have to worry about this.

Abbe Feder  9:54  
And I will say like my doctor was awesome because when I finally woke up at like four in the morning in the NICU, they were like, make sure she has a pump in case she wants to pump. And so I was like completely delirious and out of it. But I was like, I have to pump. I have to come. So I did. And this nurse like helped me pump and I got my colostrum out and they were able to bring it to my babies. And I was like, Oh, my God, I can even mother from the intensive care unit. Like that part felt good. 

Jessi Sletten  10:19  
Yeah 

Abbe Feder  10:19  
But the relief I felt you know, again, like going through infertility, you picture that you’re just this like, ethereal motherhood, like you’ve finally gotten what you wanted. And there’s a baby on either breast and everything is going perfectly. And you know, what it was, was me in the ICU with like bleeding into my colostrum. But I didn’t care. I’m like, bring it to my babies right now. But I still felt a sense of like, okay, I’m mothering them from the ICU. And that’s just what it has to be right now. So nothing anybody can really prepare for that nobody imagines they’re going to be in the ICU post birth. But, you know, I’ll every surprise I just tried to take it with a grain of salt and be like, Look, they’re alive. They’re here. That’s what’s important, you know? 

Jessi Sletten  11:02  
Right. Right. And that resiliency is just, it’s, it’s really admirable. I mean, that’s just a beautiful thing. I’m so happy that that was how you were able to process that, because I think anybody who goes through that experience, I mean, no one would blame them for being like, What the hell, you know, like, right now, this was not in my birth plan. This was not in what I pictured for my postpartum experience. And then we have all of these pressures that surround us around how we feed our baby, and how we’re supposed to connect with them immediately, and all of these different things. So I really appreciate your vulnerability with sharing that because I know that that I think that will really inspire a lot of people to who are like, Okay, I’m not alone, you know, this is, this is actually very normal, to have that experience of feeling a little bit disconnected, you know, because I do feel like we think right away, oh, my gosh, I’ve been growing this baby within me for nine months, whatever, nine plus or minus months, right? And they’re finally here, and then in your case, worked forever, for this dream to come true, right? And then to not feel maybe that immediate connection. It’s like, what’s wrong with me? You know, what’s, what, what am I doing wrong? You know, and then we start feeling those really negative thoughts in our head about I’m not a good mother, I’m not, you know, I’m not connecting to them right away, like, what is going on? And then that mental health piece can start, you know, showing its face up a little bit more.

Abbe Feder  12:28  
Yes, sort of eating away in our brain with all the thoughts.

Jessi Sletten  12:30  
Yes. And we’re in we’re already flooded with hormones, right? So we’re already like, ahhh, what’s going on! And yeah, and we’re exhausted from the birth and, you know, trauma that comes into the birthing space adds to that. And it’s just one thing that we can never prepare for. And you know, and I think I really would love to hear a little bit more about what you were saying with like, that had become your your identity, right, going through this six years of infertility. And then finally having the babies here. So to talk me a little bit more about how that process went for you with maybe finding yourself again, and understanding who you were post infertility.

Abbe Feder  13:15  
I think that, you know, the infertility piece of it, so so my kids are five, so they were born in 2018. And since 2018, so much more as talked about in terms of infertility, but at the time, it was still pretty shrouded in secrecy. And I innately put up an armor when I was around people because I was constantly prepared to answer questions awkwardly about why we don’t have kids, or when we were gonna have kids, or you know, all the things that people say, I literally had like a coat of armor on me. And I didn’t realize it, of course, until my kids were here and it was off. But I went into the world very defensive and very angry and very upset about my situation. And it manifested in like, the minute somebody says something to me, I have the perfect comeback, or the perfect quip. Or like, I’m surprised you would even ask somebody like that, you know, that question in this day and age. And so releasing that armor was very hard for me. And it did, because I didn’t know it was there until it wasn’t, you know, or until it needed to go, basically. And so I didn’t know what it felt like to go out into the world with as a mother, right? Like somebody sees you, they don’t know your story, and they just see with these two babies and like, oh my god, do twins run in your family. Oh, my God. And you know, and I’m like, No, it’s obviously IVF because that’s what I’m thinking everybody right now.

Abbe Feder  14:40  
Or, you know, oh my gosh, you’re so blessed. Oh, a boy and a girl. You’re so lucky one and done. And so, again, it felt like it was like my whole history was not being seen. And it just felt very hard. I didn’t know how to navigate that. And I think really, my advocacy work was born out of that. I got a feeling like I still wanted to honor my story. And I wasn’t prepared to just like abandon the fertility community which I had become so, so much a part of. And yes, I did get my happy ending, but the infertility journey will be forever part of my story in my life. And so how do I bring that into the next phase of my motherhood and so it definitely took a while.

Abbe Feder  15:20  
My identity was not necessarily top of mind in the first six months postpartum I like right, keeping my twins alive was. But now that I’ve had time to reflect more, I realized that I really just wasn’t me. And I didn’t know who me was, even at that point.

Abbe Feder  15:40  
I thought I was going to want to spend every second with them after what we went through. And then I did not want to spend every second with them. And so understand, like being very surprised by that. We put them into daycare pretty early, like four months old, not full time. But just because we needed the break, and I needed a minute to breathe. And just all of those things that I did not imagine happening, I did not imagine looking for daycare at four months old. But we found like this amazing place that was able to take him for a couple hours, couple days a week. And that was life changing, because I could then start spending the time to get back to my identity. 

Jessi Sletten  16:15  
Yes, I love that so much. That’s such a beautiful way to honor yourself and your needs. Because I feel like so many folks that I you know, work with, and I’m sure you experienced this as well, it’s just this expectation of, you know, us as individuals, and our needs are secondary to our children, right. And we are expected to push that aside. And you know, even in society, like when it’s baby is born, we kind of disappear into the background, and it all becomes about the baby how the baby is feeding and in your case, twins, that’s even a double the expectation of care, right? And like, oh, you really don’t have any time to, you know, meet your needs, because you have two babies who need you. And so it’s like, this added pressure I would imagine, to always show up always being like, okay, you know one of the trends that I hate that’s still kind of prevalent right now going around is this, it’s not my time concept. And while I can appreciate like kind of the thought behind that, where you know, this is time for my baby, it’s time for my children. My needs like are secondary, I just think it’s such a toxic concept to cling to too strongly, because our babies need us to be well cared for.

Jessi Sletten  17:31  
Have that time for ourselves so that we can show up and connect with them and the way that we can we can be present with them in the way that we’re able to be. Because we’re taking that time for ourselves. And I am like, blown away that you recognize that for yourself so early. And I wish I would have had that foresight for myself, because that was not my case. And I I suffered for it. 

Abbe Feder  17:53  
Yeah, I think it’s part of a blessing for me of being becoming a parent older. And in those years of infertility, watching my friends struggle through the postpartum process and not take care of themselves. Also, my mother’s a therapist, which is sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse. But in this case, and my mom, like I grew up, my mom, I was I was a it was just me and my mom, she was a single parent for many years. She’s not anymore, but she was always very good about taking care of herself. And it was just a good example for me that kind of innately came in. I mean, as a single mom, too, she worked crazy hours full time to do everything we wanted to do as a family. 

Abbe Feder  18:28  
And she always made time for something for herself. And I never looked at it as selfish. I always just looked at it as part of her life. Like it’s just part of her routine. And I think in some ways that was she was very helpful postpartum in reminding me of all of those things. And I didn’t find it weird, and I didn’t feel weird about it. And it’s like, I think especially in our community of perinatal workers, yeah, we can hear a lot of us say, you can’t, you can’t pour from an empty cup or a healthy mind makes a healthy baby. And I think not all of us live that even though we say it all the time. 

Jessi Sletten  19:08  
Oh, yeah. 

Abbe Feder  19:09  
Right. Like that’s a big part of it. And so I really tried to live it. And I have to say, major shout out to my husband, who it was a very stressful time for us financially. We were brand new parents of twins, and he works in entertainment. And so it’s a lot of ups and downs. And in a great way, he had just wrapped a job when they were born literally on a Friday and Monday they were born.

Abbe Feder  19:33  
So financially, that was a little bit stressful. But he was around a lot. And I think not constantly being outnumbered by babies was very helpful, like very helpful. And he’s not a baby guy. My husband like I had never really seen him with a baby, I don’t think ever, and he really, really rose to the occasion which gave me time to be able to care for myself and rest and recover and all of those things and that’s huge and I think Looking back, I would never have articulated that expectation of him because I didn’t know. Right? But if we can write if we’re teaching now what we learned, if we can articulate to our partner really what we need, and we might not know, but just that we need their presence, and they’re, I mean, they’re like emotional and physical presence. It’s very helpful. It’s very, helpful. I don’t think I changed a diaper the first, like three weeks of my kid’s life, he was just on. 

Jessi Sletten  20:28  
Love that! You’re like that is your job!

Abbe Feder  20:28  
Yes! Exactly. Times two!

Jessi Sletten  20:35  
Yes, times two, that is admirable, for sure. Well, I, I absolutely agree with you that piece of communication with our partners ahead of time, for as much as we know, or can communicate so crucial, because you both probably have never done this before. And even if you have, maybe there were things that didn’t go the way you were hoping and your relationship was impacted by that, you know, those first experiences, this is a chance for you to come together and be a united team in entering this new parenthood or this new postpartum phase. And if you’re a brand new parent, you know, you want to start from day one, unified in your understanding of how you can support one another, communicate what you do need, and then making sure you’re on the same page for sharing that parental load from the beginning. Because the more you practice those communications, the more you understand each other. And what you’re expecting, and maybe they don’t align, right, because some of us assume we’re on the same page with how we want to do certain things, or we assume our partners know what we need, you know, what they say about assuming, right? And that was definitely the first time around, I was like, oh, man, I really wasn’t on the same page with you about some of these things. And then it created that rift and at a time when you need each other the most. So yeah, I think that communication piece is huge for the planning phase, as well as once you’re there. But that’s amazing, I am so glad that he was there to support you. Because that support piece is crucial. Yeah, it really is. In our society, we don’t have that built in village. And so understanding who we need and who are, you know, Ride or Die people are and how they can help us and communicating that to them ahead of time. Because people want to be helpful, right? For the most part, we have the outliers to just love to cause drama in our lives. And we need to understand that and know that too, and identify that and be able to have boundary conversations, but a lot of people want to be helpful, but they don’t know how to help. And that’s when we can really advocate for ourselves what that looks like. So

Abbe Feder  22:43  
Totally. I think also having been through infertility together, we hit some of the lowest lows of our relationship. And I think once we got through those, I never felt I was like nothing could ever get worse than that. So even if we’re not on the same page from the parenting perspective, I know we can make it through. That sounds really optimistic now that we’re past it in the moment, I might not have felt that way. But now, you know, being able to talk about it on the other side of it. It was like we’ve already been through the depths of hell together. Yeah, we’re going to be fine, you know. Right.

Jessi Sletten  23:14  
Right. Yep. And having that relationship as the foundation to fall back on. Yeah. Is so so key. And so yeah, I, I think that that’s really powerful. Being able to strengthen and, and understand that that piece is the foundation right? As you’re moving into your parenthood so that you can turn toward each other. When things get really hard instead of a way and start holding on. Like you’re drifting apart.

Abbe Feder  23:38  
You have to remind yourself so many times, like we wanted this together. You might not feel like what we thought we were it was going to yet right. But we wanted this together. That’s the whole point of us being here like this. 

Jessi Sletten  23:49  
Beautiful. Yes, exactly. Like that’s come back to the reason why we want to start a family and why we chose each other for that. Yes, yes. I know one thing you were we had talked about, or that you would, you know, mentioned when we were scheduling this, I had said that the village doesn’t exist, right as much now for when we’re raising our kids, and when we’re healing and postpartum and all this. And something that I thought was really interesting that you brought up was that it takes a village to make a baby too. So I’d love for you to kind of touch on

Abbe Feder  24:19  
Yes, a little bit. It’s funny, I just tried to trademark that for my business. It takes a village to make a baby but it got rejected because which I understand it was worth it. But it’s a little too general because so many people can say it. But I swear I mean, I joke that like 100 people helped me have my baby and it’s true. And it was I mean, I saw everybody from acupuncturists, right you think about in the clinic, right, my fertility clinic it was like the front desk team, the ultrasound technicians, the nurses, the people who deal with the finance department, my medical doctor, I had an acupuncturist. One of my best friends is a Reiki healer. She was working with me, the pharmacist who became my BFF You know, I mean, I The list goes on and on and on my therapist, you know, all these people, and why shouldn’t we extend the village to making the baby if we’re struggling, right, like the whole point of the village, when we have the baby is so that we can get a break, come up for air feel like we’re in community. And so that is what it felt like for me to have my baby, I feel like anyone and everyone, I went to multiple clinics, both of my main doctors, you know, even when I left my first clinic, I still stayed in touch with that doctor, he didn’t do anything wrong. I just like needed a new energy after several years, and like he was very much still a part of my team. Once I left his clinic, he lent me a tank once of nitrogen to drive my embryos from one clinic to the next. Right like, and you’re just like, I never thought that was the story I was going to tell in my life. But he was a huge part of my village, and I’m still in touch with those nurses, because you see them and they become your family. You’re spending so much time there. I saw my IVF nurse, way more than I saw my mom during my infertility journey, you know. And I just believe in embracing that, that village. So much so in fact that even now I’m in LA, and I’ve created a group called the making mother’s collective, which is all practitioners from fertility all the way through perimenopause. And we meet monthly, and we share ideas. And we talk about how we can be this village for other people at every step of the motherhood journey. Whether you’re yearning to become a mother or wanting to become a better mother, or you are, you know, postpartum or you’re having hormone issues or all these things. Because I believe in strengthening that village now and not just waiting until you’re like desolate and in crisis mode, and being like, where is my village? What are they talking about? So I feel really passionate about that now, and that is part of also why I started my company because I want to be that village for you. It’s like we’ve we’ve come to accept doula help midwife help lactation consultant help. chiropractic help. Once the baby’s here, it’s like, we’ve been given permission to accept help once the baby’s here because the baby needs to thrive, like what you were saying earlier, right? The baby needs to thrive. And so now we can spend all this time on self care so that the baby can thrive, right? Not from the beginning. Like why not give you that thriving sense, from before the baby’s here so that you walk into motherhood, feeling empowered and healthy? You know?

Jessi Sletten  27:38  
Yes, amen! If I had like a little love button right now, I, I would do that. It’s so true. I just love everything you said it. That’s that continuity of care, right? From trying to conceive all the way to improving who we are as a parent. Like it’s just full spectrum. And every step of the way, we need somebody to be honoring our experiences, holding our hand, supporting us through the challenges and being our frickin cheerleader squad when we’re rocking it right, like, because we’re the hardest critics on ourselves. Yeah. And we could be doing a beautiful job, but we’re just in our own head about it. And having those people to be like, Oh, my gosh, you know what you are killing it like you are doing so well with this. You know, you are keeping up with everything that you need to be doing to care for your baby. And it does not matter that this stuff is getting left behind because you are prioritizing what matters right now. Right? That’s right. Oh, I love this collective idea. I think that’s really unique. I haven’t heard of that anywhere else.

Abbe Feder  28:39  
It really, we’re still developing it. But it’s been extremely gratifying for sure.

Jessi Sletten  28:44  
Yeah and I’m sure that a lot of you work with some of the same families I would have assume, 

Abbe Feder  28:49  
That’s right! That’s right.

Jessi Sletten  28:49  
So being able to be, you know, on the same page as care providers for those same patients or, or families is so powerful, right?

Abbe Feder  28:57  
It is that continuity piece that you’re talking about. Yeah,

Jessi Sletten  29:01  
I love that so much. Oh, my gosh, I could talk about this forever.

Abbe Feder  29:05  
I know I could do. I’m like I could talk about all the amazing people I think about like, there’s a there’s a photographer in that group, and you’re like a photographer, but she cares. so deeply. Shout out to Jessica Taylor. She cares so deeply about telling your story through photography. So she really for example, like spends time understanding the drive the story of the birth and the family. She does a lot of non traditional family photoshoots and just having that awareness to make people feel seen and supported is like amazing. And you wouldn’t think of a family photographer necessarily as part of your village of raising a mother but it truly is. Because she cares so deeply about making sure you feel seen as she’s your photographer, you know,

Jessi Sletten  29:49  
The seen piece. Yes, that’s so that’s so true. And it’s not just like the Instagram worthy pieces. You know, it’s like here’s when the tears that we shed because it was Another, you know, negative test or, you know, like just that whole experience being honored, like you said before and being seen and spoken about and held in the way that we need. It is so powerful, and it really does empower us through the rest of this crazy journey of parenthood, right?

Abbe Feder  30:18  
Truly, truly does.

Jessi Sletten  30:19  
Yes, it’s crazy. Well, I’d love to learn a little bit more about like your work and how you help folks going through the infertility process and what that looks like.

Abbe Feder  30:30  
Sure. So I call myself an infertility coach, as opposed to a fertility coach. And the reason is because a fertility coach, in my view, is a great support maybe helps you figure out your hormones, get your cycle on track, talk to you about nutrition, all the things that are super important, but by the time people come to me, they’re already on the infertility path. Maybe they’ve had some treatment already, and it’s failed, maybe they want to check out a new doctor new clinic, they’re not happy where they are, maybe they’ve had a loss, and they’re not sure what’s going on, they don’t know which questions to ask. And so the way that I always say it is I hold the hearts and hands of women and couples, but mostly women on that infertility path already. So the way that it works is people work with me for several months at a time. And I do a several month package, mostly because of what we talked about some continuity, especially in fertility clinics, you can often feel like a number you feel like you’re being bounced around from a nurse, to a doctor, to a different doctor, to a nurse at your doctor’s office that day, your doctor is doing surgery that day, they’re not there. Like, I want to be the place that you come back to that’s always consistent. So we prep for all of your appointments together. I think a lot of women like the most successful, strong and powerful women are still scared in a doctor’s office to ask, right? You know, this, for sure, postpartum especially like then, because you feel like you’re not you don’t even know who you are anymore, but no, kind of same with infertility, it takes such a toll on you emotionally and physically and your relationships, it’s very easy to lose sight of who you are. And so I have like lawyers who work with me who could like handle a criminal defense case in court, but they don’t feel comfortable asking their doctor, how about what the timeline is going to be for their treatment, or whatever it is. So it’s crazy, really. So we talk a lot about that I try to make them feel as empowered as possible, which you can’t guarantee and I can’t guarantee that to my clients either. But I can guarantee that, you know, you’re gonna go into that office feeling as prepared and in control as possible. And then similarly, we debrief so they come out and then we debrief, we talked together about what the doctor said, do we agree? How do we feel about it? Because also your sense of gut feeling feels gone when you’re going through infertility, because you’re on all these drugs, and you just don’t know what’s going on? Very hard to trust your gut. So I so anyway, in these packages, we do, you know, several calls a month on Zoom, and then a lot of it is texting. And I’m curious for you, too, if you have this, like, do you text a lot with your clients? 

Jessi Sletten  33:12  
Yeah, so I have a secured portal, and it’s like a messenger. And it’s like game changing, because it’s great being able to meet, you know, face to face on a call, but it’s the middle of the night, things that are keeping you up or whatever, that you’re just like, ah, you know, I need help, and just have that access is so powerful,

Abbe Feder  33:32  
Right? Or even just like, if it’s the middle of the night, you might not answer but just be able to have your client tell you what they’re thinking so that you can right because in the moment, in the moment exactly like, I’m all for therapy, believe me. But like, if you’re not seeing your therapist for six more days at three o’clock on Tuesday, like what are you supposed to do it? 4am on Thursday, so I just I tell my clients like I don’t respond 24/7 But I’m available 24/7 So they can reach out. And that’s just such a comfort to know that there you have a lifeline at any given day or time. Yeah. And of course, we do like optimization. So I make sure they’re on all the right supplements. And also what’s been so powerful for me that was also a little unexpected is that I have been able to create so many relationships closely with fertility doctors. And so if I have a client, my gut feeling is like something’s really not right. There’s someone else I can always reach out to who trusts me who I trust, who is a fertility doctor who can be like, yeah, that doesn’t sound great, or yes, I would do the same thing. You’re in good hands. So I can provide that validation to my client by getting it from this network of professionals that I’ve created and work with and that is also an incredibly powerful feeling like you. You don’t feel like you’re at the behest of what your doctor or schedule says like you’re going in feeling smart and educated and in control, which is not how much of this journey feels.

Jessi Sletten  34:56  
Oh my gosh, yes, that piece of being in control seen and heard is so, so important throughout the perinatal journey, you know, because so often like there’s an imbalance of power, right? Where you go into a doctor’s office and you feel very, you’re not in power, because they’re the doctor, and they went to school for this, and they know what they’re saying, but, but also, you know, you need to be honored in a way where you’re heard about your own body about your own experiences. But we’re just not supported in that way, a lot of times. And so having that advocacy of working with someone like you or, you know, in the postpartum timeframe, someone like me, who can be like, No, you know, you have the right to be seen, heard, and have pieces of control where it makes sense. And have that validation is so empowering. There really is, yeah, yeah. And I loved your piece about the resources. Because when you are in the thick of it, whether it’s the infertility process, or you’re in postpartum, and you’re just overwhelmed by everything, like, you’re not gonna sit there and want to research, you know, where can I get this support, or, you know, who is available to help me with whatever issue I’m having, where we’re resourced for you, right, and where that connection piece, and I think that that is so powerful,

Abbe Feder  36:11  
I think you’re right, I think it’s such an important piece of it. And unfortunately, like many things, you don’t know what you don’t know. So you don’t know what resources you need. So trust me when I tell you to go with somebody who’s been there, because they will know what you need, and when you need it. And I think that’s so important for us as women,

Jessi Sletten  36:29  
Yes, and not having to wait or go through the same difficult path that somebody else has already carved out for you, you know, like, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, you know, and I feel like we are expected to, because we should innately know what we’re doing right? When we’re going through these women problems or women processes, like, it’s just not true, you know, like, it’s not this, like, all of a sudden, you’re becoming a mother and you download some sort of like, magical, you know, like, instruction manual on I know how to do everything I know, right? He’s my baby, I know how to care for them, or I know how to get pregnant immediately. Like, that’s what I’m expecting and expected of me to do. And it’s just that’s not the reality, you know, after.

Abbe Feder  37:16  
Exactly. And I think, you know, we think to ourselves, well, people have been doing this for millions of years, but like, they were often miserable, or sick, or had a life expectancy of 40 years. So did they didn’t need to plan for long term mental health benefits, or whatever it might mean, I do think that this is the better way to do it with the support and the village. 

Jessi Sletten  37:36  
Oh, for sure. Yeah. And even, you know, on the flip side of that, they had a lot of these, you know, village built in villages and support systems through, you know, their different tribes or through their different communities. You know, they had that network that just seemed more natural, and, you know, obvious, right, that they needed that help, right. And we’ve kind of lost that with this surge of independence. And oh, you know, like, we’re in this modern culture, like, you know, we’re super women, we can do everything. And we’re expected to know how to do everything while still maintaining the house and having a smile on our face and all these things. And it’s, you know, it’s, it’s crippling, it’s not possible to do it all on our own.

Abbe Feder  38:20  
Crippling is a great word for it, it can be so crippling, yes.

Jessi Sletten  38:24  
It’s, it’s like I always tell my clients, you can do it, you know, but you can’t do it alone. Like, it’s up to you to say like, I am capable of doing this, and I am capable of doing this. But you cannot do it all alone. Like it’s just it’s not possible. So we have to figure out the priorities and where to shift things and where to resource yourself to be able to survive as a person yourself and to support your family. Yeah, so anyway, well, I love all of this is there any other little tidbits that you could give for people who are going through this journey right now that you would love to just help inspire, encourage them to keep their head up.

Abbe Feder  39:05  
I’m very much a believer that you need to feel it to heal it. So if you’re feeling really low, and really isolated, not that I’m suggesting that you maintain feeling in isolation, but like, give yourself a I say, like a pity party deadline, like I’m gonna I want to live in the pity party, but by 24 hours from now, I’m going to force my way out. So I want you to feel it, because I need you to heal it. But I also want you to set the goal that like and it doesn’t mean when you’re out in 24 hours that the issue you’re having or the isolation you’re feeling goes away. It’s sort of giving yourself permission in 24 hours or whatever the case may be for the both “Ands” so yes, I still feel crappy about my loss. Yes, I feel hopeless about my loss, but I’m going to maintain those feelings and honor them and see them and add in a little bit. of hope, or I’m gonna just push myself a little harder today than I did yesterday and see if that makes things better. And I just think it doesn’t have to be 24 hours, it could be a week, you could be like, I’m gonna have a pity party for a week, I’m gonna eat ice cream every night, whatever it is, drink a bottle of wine every day. Not that I’m suggesting either of those, but like, whatever you need to do to get through and then like, Just give yourself a deadline, to be able to pull yourself out, I think, is a helpful way to like wallow in it. Because it’s like, you know, you’re forcing yourself to make it not forever, you know, that it won’t be forever. And, you know, in terms of, I feel like I have a lot of tips for people supporting people going through infertility.

Jessi Sletten  40:41  
I’d love to hear that. 

Abbe Feder  40:42  
Yeah. And I think I’m sure there’s some crossover with us with what we provide in terms of services as well to those who are supporting those in need. Which is like don’t say nothing, I think we are so trained as a society to not bring up the bad news and not bring up the stress. And think that that’s the right thing to do. But how how bad we know that feels. And everyone goes through it. If God forbid, somebody had passed away and your family, your friends wouldn’t ignore it. Right? Right, right. So whatever grief you’re experiencing, whether it’s the grief of infertility, or the grief of not knowing who you are postpartum, or the hormone, right, like, in order to feel seen and loved, you do need your people to acknowledge it. And sometimes they don’t know what to say, or do. And I always say, like, honesty’s the best policy, just be like, I don’t know what to say, and I don’t know what to do. But I’m here for you. And I will sit with you in this, or I know you love sushi from this one place. I’m dropping it off at six o’clock tonight, you know, those things are very powerful ways to show up. Yeah, I really believe in that. Yeah.

Jessi Sletten  41:52  
Yeah, I was just gonna say, you know, don’t wait for the person who is suffering or struggling to ask for help or tell you how you can help because sometimes, they don’t even know and they don’t know how to say those things. And so you being proactive about, here’s how I’m going to help you. And then they could tell you, Oh, that doesn’t really work for me or whatever. But you’re, you’re being you’re offering the hand. Yeah. And by offering that hand, then they, it’s so much easier for them to take that instead of asking for that hand. Right. And being able to advocate for that. Sometimes that’s just so impossible when you’re in that hole, you know, so I couldn’t agree more, I think yeah, really great.

Abbe Feder  42:36  
I also hate along those lines, like people would always be like, keep me posted. Yes. I don’t. That’s like a job for me that I don’t want. I don’t want to keep you posted, like just show up. Regardless, what do I need to keep you posted about you know, that I’m in hell right now going through infertility? What else do you what other posts do you need for me? So that’s when I try to avoid saying as well, sometimes I catch myself saying it and I’m like, take it back. Don’t say Keep me posted, you know, not to clients, but like something else where I’m just like, I hate that phrase in general. 

Jessi Sletten  43:06  
Yes, no, that’s a really good one. Yeah, it’s more like, you know, I’m going to check in on you Yes. And stay like give them when they can expect to hear from you is way better than let me know, when you’re, you know, drowning to the point of you can’t do it anymore. And then I’ll show up, like, no.

Abbe Feder  43:23  
And then just show up, like, I remember, one of my best friends was going through divorce, and she did not want to talk and I was like, I don’t care. I’m gonna call you every day at this time. And if I leave you a message, I leave you message. But you know, I’m gonna call. So if you want to pick up you can. And I love that she never did. But I felt I didn’t put it on her to be like, can you just call me at noon to check in on me? I was just gonna do it. You know? 

Jessi Sletten  43:45  
Yeah. Yeah. And having that presence there. Even if she didn’t feel like talking, I’m sure was a comfort. You know, like somebody cares about what I’m going through. I might not be ready to talk about it right now. But I know that Abbe is there. And she’s thinking of me, and she loves me and supports me. And that is so powerful, too. Because that, that that piece of being seen and validated in your experience is there. Yeah, exactly. Yes. I love that so much. Yes. Oh, my goodness. Well, we could talk about so many things. But I would love for you to share, you know, I always ask my guests like, what’s one piece of advice or a helpful mantra? You know, for anybody out there who just needs a little bit of inspiration today? What would you what would you share?

Abbe Feder  44:32  
So in terms of parenting, the best piece of advice that I got was actually from my stepfather. And to this day, we use it for everything and it was you run their life, they don’t run yours. And it was so good and such a good reminder. And I see there’s so many, you know, I can’t necessarily just throw that out there to anybody. They might be a little too harsh for some people. But for me, it was so helpful because I see my friends sort of struggling with newborns, like they’re dying to go out for dinner with friends, but they’re like I can’t, because I have to put my kid to bed at this exact time or something happens. Of course, you do what’s best for you and your family. But remember that they’re three months old. So you run their life and they don’t run your and

Jessi Sletten  45:20  
That is so powerful. I love that.

Abbe Feder  45:24  
It’s, again, back to that reminder that, like you’re bringing them into your life, your life is already going, you know, they don’t know what to do. They can’t even say hello to you. They don’t know what to do in terms of, you know, and you’re letting these little beings run your life sometimes. Yeah. That was really powerful. And my stepfather also major credit to him, when I was giving up nursing, and pumping, which I of course struggled with, because of all the stigma that comes with it. But like I said, my kids were already getting formula and pumping. I was really minimally nursing. But the time you spend cleaning the pumping parts, and the and my stepfather was like, that’s time that you could spend doing something so much more meaningful with them. And I was like, You’re so right, like, why am I spending hours of my day cleaning these pump parts for who they don’t need it, they’re happy with the formula, they couldn’t care less. So again, both of those are just really good reframes that you are the person in charge of what your days look like, and what your life looks like. And I know that sometimes it’s like, the hormones are raging, your stuff is everywhere. And you just can’t feel like you’re in control, like, Great, then fine, take the pressure off. But at the end of the day, you can pick yourself back up and remember, like, how you plan it out is how it should be because you run their life, they don’t run yours, you know, just so helpful. 

Jessi Sletten  46:46  
It is I love that reframe. And it really gives you back that piece of my needs matter my life and what brings me joy matters. And I don’t have to disappear. Because now I’m a parent.

Abbe Feder  47:01  
It really is. And even with the best of intentions, we fall, we fall prey to that sometimes. So just having that reminder can be really helpful, you know?

Jessi Sletten  47:12  
Yes, I love that so much. Well, thank you so much. And I just appreciate your wisdom and your willingness to be so vulnerable and sharing your story and just all of the amazing tips that you gave today. It has been just so wonderful to have you here. And I would love for you to share too how anybody listening could get in touch with you like where they can connect?

Abbe Feder  47:34  
Yes, I love me some Instagram so you can always find me on the “gram.” My company is InCircle Fertility, I say like uplevel your inner circle. So InCircle Fertility, you can DM me there anytime you can catch me on my website and InCircleFertility.com And then my podcast is called the fertility check, which also has its own Instagram, you can DM me there too. I’m a part of all of them. And that podcast, much like yours is just telling stories so that we can all feel seen and heard. And that is always my goal. So if something touches you or resonates with you always reach out and let me know. And being in community with women going through this is like everything to me. So I always respond, please reach out for any and all things that you feel like you want to communicate to me.

Jessi Sletten  48:19  
Love that. Thank you so much, Abbe. Well, my beautiful life-creators we’ve done another episode of Empowering Postpartum and just remember my coaching one-on-one services guides new and pregnant moms through the transition through motherhood so that you can bond with baby without sacrificing your own self care. And if this is what you’re wanting for your postpartum, you can connect with me on Instagram as well. Empowering_postpartum, and we can chat about how I can support you through your journey. 

Jessi Sletten  48:19  
And remember, this show can also be heard on the Spanglish Radio Network, please check out Spanglishworld.ca for all the news and programming. Spanglish world. Watch it, hear it, download it, and live it and I hope you just have a fabulous week and we’ll see you again next week for another amazing episode of empowering postpartum. Thank you again so much, Abbe! 

Abbe Feder  49:10  
Thank you Jessi.

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