EBB 315 – Supporting LGBTQ+ Families from Fertility through Parenthood with Gena Jaffe, Founder of Connecting Rainbows

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:00:00:

Hi everyone. On today’s podcast, we’re going to talk with Gena Jaffe about supporting experiences and stories of LGBTQ+ individuals in the realm of birth and fertility. Welcome to the Evidence Based Birth® Podcast. My name is Rebecca Dekker, and I’m a nurse with my PhD and the founder of Evidence Based Birth®. Join me each week as we work together to get evidence-based information into the hands of families and professionals around the world. As a reminder, this information is not medical advice. See ebbirth.com/disclaimer for more details. Hi everyone, and welcome to today’s episode of the Evidence Based Birth® Podcast. My name is Rebecca Dekker, pronouns she/her, and I’ll be your host for today’s episode. Today, I’m so excited to talk with Gena Jaffe, an LGBTQ+ activist, wife, and mom of two kiddos via reciprocal IVF. Gena is also the founder of Connecting Rainbows©, an organization that provides free legal and fertility resources to the LGBTQ+ community. Gena, welcome to the Evidence Based Birth® Podcast.

Gena Jaffe – 00:01:12:

Thank you for having me.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:01:14:

I’d love to hear your story of what inspired you to start Connecting Rainbows© and what it is. Tell our listeners about it.

Gena Jaffe – 00:01:22:

Yeah, I mean, it’s a long one. But basically, it is, as you said, a free resource center for the LGBTQ+ community. We have a directory of attorneys who specialize in fertility law, estate planning, ways to really just help start, grow and protect your family with laws that are very different for our community. And then we have fertility clinics that are gay and queer friendly. And then just a bunch of resources around surrogacy and sperm donation and all of that good stuff. But this accidentally came to be. My wife and I did reciprocal IVF. So we used her eggs and I carried. And when I was pregnant with our first, we found out that she was going to have to adopt our son because I was the one giving birth. So I was considered the legal parent. And it was baffling, first of all, because I am a lawyer, but I do business law. So nothing with family stuff. And so I was like, but we were both on the birth certificate. And what I’ve come to learn is that a birth certificate is not a legal document. It is an administrative document governed by the laws of your specific state. And so it doesn’t grant legal parentage. And so in order to ensure that we were both considered the legal parents, we had to go through what’s called second parent adoption. Some states, it’s called stepparent adoption. Some states do offer something called judgment of parentage. But it’s really just getting a court order, court judgment that you are both the parents. So I started talking about it on social media because I do influencing on Instagram. And when we came around, we had our daughter in 2020. And so I was talking again about we’re going through second parent adoption. And at the same time, it was when Amy Coney Barrett was nominated to the Supreme Court. So I started talking more about what can we do to protect our families? And it was adopt your kids, get your wills, trusts, health care proxies, power of attorneys, all that, get that in order. So I started talking more and more about it. And people kept asking me, why am I adopting my kids? Or I spoke to a lawyer who said I didn’t have to do that. And I realized that there was this huge gap between what my community knows and what the law actually says. And I also found out that a lot of lawyers have no idea what they’re talking about either. So I was like, you know, I’m going to find attorneys who are very well versed in the LGBTQ+ nuances of these laws. And I was like, okay, if anybody wants to find a lawyer. Fill out this form and I’ll connect you to one. Well, within a few days, I had 200 people fill it out. And I was like, Oh, I can’t do this. I can’t just like one-on-one connect people. Cause I don’t, I didn’t know who these lawyers were. I knew, you know, in where we are. So I was like, okay, you know what? I’m just going to create a directory. And that was all I was going to do. It was just literally a directory and it kind of exploded. And a month later I had this website.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:04:26:

Yeah. And if our listeners go to your website, connectingrainbows.org, and you just click on find a lawyer, it shows the countries and states where there’s almost like a directory of lawyers that you can reach out to. And so what are some of these legal challenges aside from, is it just mainly that you might not be recognized as the legal parent and a situation arose?

Gena Jaffe – 00:04:51:

So there’s a couple of different things. I mean, if you’re using a known donor, that’s a whole nother issue. You know, especially when it comes to my expertise is more in, if you’re using a sperm donor, some states don’t have donor statutes. So a sperm donor cannot waive their right to parentage.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:05:09:

To be the legal parent?

Gena Jaffe – 00:05:10:

Until after a child is born. And so if you were to use a known donor, they could change their mind. So like, even if you’ve got a contract, so like you have to know your specific state, like, can I do this? And so, finding that out before you start the process, then the parentage piece is a big one. You know, are we both going to be considered legal parents? And when is that an issue? If one of you dies, if you get divorced, we’ve seen a lot of that in the past few years where lesbians have gotten divorced. The one did not adopt their kid and the judge said, nope, you’re not the parent anymore. There was, I think, three or four cases last year. One in Pennsylvania, where I am actually, and then Michigan, Idaho, stuff like that. And then what we don’t know yet also is inheritance and social security and all that. We don’t know enough yet because things haven’t been litigated at this point. And so it’s really just about protecting your family.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:06:03:

And protecting your children as well.

Gena Jaffe – 00:06:05:

And your children. Yeah, right, right. Yeah.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:06:06:

Yeah. The whole family. Wow. And it starts with pregnancy could go all the way up through the end of life with inheritance or some of the legal problems. Are there any states where it seems better to be able to raise a family and not have to worry as much? And if your child is born there and you move somewhere else, do the laws follow you from where your child was born? Or does it have to do with where you’re living?

Gena Jaffe – 00:06:31:

No, the laws don’t follow you. It has to do with where you’re living. So I know people who are in certain states where you’re recognized as parents. Like for certain states, they have what’s called a Uniform Parentage Act. It’s like, you’re good. But if you leave this state, if you go on vacation and something happens. What then? If you move, what then? And that’s the thing. The law a lot of times is about thinking about worst case scenarios. And when you’re young and in love and starting a family, you’re not thinking about death and divorce. And so that’s our job to think about that for you and share like, hey, these are the things that could go wrong. This is how you can protect yourself and why. So, yeah. And then finding an attorney who literally knows what they’re talking about in those specific states, because I’ve spoken to every attorney on there I’ve spoken to. And there have been attorneys who I have talked to who were like, oh no, you don’t have to do that. You don’t have to get the adoption. And I’m like, here’s some case law and you’re not welcome on my directory. So, yeah.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:07:39:

To me, I’m so thankful you’re doing this work, Gena, and that you’re connecting people. And it’s literally the name of your website, Connecting Rainbows©, because it’s such important work. So can you talk a little bit about how you and your organization celebrate and affirm diverse family and structures and the importance of that?

Gena Jaffe – 00:07:56:

Yeah. I mean, the organization is about the LGBTQ+ community. And so whether it is a single queer person having a child. I have polyamorous resources on there as well, especially when creating my website, using all different kinds of diversity on the site. We celebrate it every day because it’s who we are. And I think that my main mission as a person and business owner is really just representation and visibility. And I think that that’s what this provides. This is a safe, inclusive space to come if you are LGBTQ+ and heterosexual couples can use the resources too, because, you know, sometimes you’ll need an attorney or if you’re going through surrogacy or something like that. But I think that it’s nice to have a space that is designed specifically for the community because we don’t get that very often.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:08:50:

Right. And finding fertility resources and lawyers who are LGBTQ+ affirming as well. People who understand you and are advocates.

Gena Jaffe – 00:09:01:

Yes, absolutely.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:09:03:

When you’re navigating the healthcare system as an LGBTQ+ person, what are some of the common challenges you might face through pregnancy, birth, or postpartum, or even caring for your newborn?

Gena Jaffe – 00:09:15:

Yeah. There’s always the assumption that a pregnant woman has a husband or going through the fertility process.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:09:24:

So they’ll just ask questions like, where’s dad or who’s dad and things like that.

Gena Jaffe – 00:09:29:

Yeah. I feel very lucky that where we live, we haven’t really had that many challenges, but I do know a lot of people who have shared with me that, especially lesbian couples, right? The ones giving birth and people are like, oh, your sister’s here. How nice. And it’s like, no, let’s just not assume that that’s who that is. Or, oh, who’s the mom? Like who’s, you know, and we’re like, well, we both are, are you asking who carried or who is genetically connected to them? And in our case, it’s very confusing because people are like, wait, your kid looks just like your wife. I’m like, yeah, yeah. It’s, you know, her genetics.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:10:10:

It was meant that way.

Gena Jaffe – 00:10:11:

Yeah. Right. Right. Right. Genetically is supposed to be that way. So it’s tough. And then in terms of the healthcare system, insurance is written in a very heteronormative way. And so a lot of insurance coverage is only for cis heterosexual couples. I don’t know much about insurance at all. I just know that like there are different policies that people have shared with me or like our own that was like, you have to be having sexual intercourse for six months before we will go and cover fertility doctor, like stuff like that, that a lot of people have shared with me having issues.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:10:47:

Like they’re just, again, it’s the assumption that you’re a heterosexual couple.

Gena Jaffe – 00:10:53:

And this goes back to the assumption piece. Also, the week that I gave birth, we had to take my son to the pediatrician. And I wasn’t allowed to carry him yet, the car seat, because I had just given birth. And I looked like death. Like I looked awful, right? I just had a baby. I had a very traumatic birth. And then we have like a couple day old baby. My wife’s carrying him in and then the nurse was like oh are you the nanny and I was like, no, he literally just came out of my vagina. So it was just like, I look young. And it looked awful. And I’m like in sweats, you know, but I’m like, no, no. And so now it’s like big on our top of our charts, like two moms.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:11:36:

Yeah, I think it just goes back to one of the first things they taught me in nursing school is don’t assume because it makes an ass out of you and me. Like it embarrasses everyone.

Gena Jaffe – 00:11:45:


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:11:46:

Yeah. So aside from not assuming, what are some tips you would give for our health care workers who are listening or birth workers about how they can provide more culturally competent affirming care?

Gena Jaffe – 00:12:05:

I think, again, yeah, it’s not the assumption. It is thinking about how you’re going to phrase certain questions. Obviously, pronouns is a huge thing. You know, ensuring that you’re respecting that. Write it down on the chart, if need be. Yeah, I think it’s just treat us like you would any other patient or couple. Yeah, again, I have to say, like, I don’t have the experience. I’ve faced discrimination, but not in this context. So I can’t share any personal anecdotes or what I wish would have been done differently. But, just from hearing from other people, the biggest thing is the assumption piece.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:12:46:

Okay. And then things like forms and.

Gena Jaffe – 00:12:50:

Oh, yeah. Forms, please.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:12:53:

So, I mean, if you have any power at all in your health care institution working on making the forms more inclusive.

Gena Jaffe – 00:13:00:

I cross them off all the time. I’m like. Mother and mother. I do. I do with my kids school stuff too. I’m like.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:13:10:

Schools and hospitals and clinics I’ve found in Kentucky where I live are the worst for not being inclusive on forms.

Gena Jaffe – 00:13:19:

Yeah. Yeah. It depends on the school. You know, in the..

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:13:23:

Exactly. Every school is different. And every principal probably is the one who could have the power to change it. So you could have teachers being like, I’d like to change this. And the principal says, no way.

Gena Jaffe – 00:13:34:

Right. I’ve written before, cause I’ve gotten emails from my kid’s teacher who are like, Oh, like, you know, have mom and dad fill out whatever. And I’ve written her back like really nicely. And I’m like, hey, I just, just want to share, like, if maybe we can just say like caregiver. And she was like, I’m so sorry. I’m like, no, like it’s about like, how can we help educate?

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:13:56:

Yeah. And it shouldn’t just be on LGBTQ+ people as well. Advocates can also write in when they see those things. Yeah, we should all be because it’s better for everyone. Obviously, we need to protect and affirm LGBTQ+ families, but also grandparents. You know, other guardians.

Gena Jaffe – 00:14:15:

And that’s what I’ve said. I said, there are a lot of kids that I know who don’t have these “traditional families”. I know some with a grandparent or some have a single parent because their other parent died. I know families like this. So it, and I know that there is like this cultural shift and we have to work on the changing of the language. But I love when I hear certain teachers, like if you’re, if you’re grown up, when you’re grown up moms, they say that at my daughter’s, she’s in preschool. And I love that because that’s what it is. And also like, stop saying boys and girls. We can have another talk about that but anyway.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:14:55:

Yeah. That’s a different rabbit hole.

Gena Jaffe – 00:14:59:


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:14:59:

Going back to fertility, we’ve talked a little bit about LGBTQ+ fertility on the EBB podcast before, specifically episode 282. We talked with the authors of Babymaking for Everybody. I was curious if you could go over some of the fertility options available for individuals and couples.

Gena Jaffe – 00:15:21:

So there’s just ICI. So it’s basically just like an at-home insemination kind of a thing. If we’re talking about sperm donors first, where they just inseminate right into your cervix, just like if you were having intercourse, that is the cheapest option. Often you can do it at home with a turkey baster. There’s IUI, which is intrauterine insemination, where they actually stick catheter up into your uterus. So you’re getting the sperm right where it needs to be. Regular IVF. So removing eggs, fertilizing, putting them back. Reciprocal IVF, which is what my wife and I did. So eggs from one partner, fertilized embryo into the other partner. And then I don’t know a whole lot about, do you know about the, it’s like the one where they like take eggs out of one, they fertilize it, they put them back in this little device. They implant that device into one person, let the embryos grow, take it out, remove the embryos, and then put the embryos into someone else. I’m totally blanking on what it’s called right now. But, that’s a way that both partners can feel both carried.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:16:30:

And I know there’s new technology coming where they’re going to be able to take stem cells or multipotential cells from both people and actually turn them into a sperm and an egg.

Gena Jaffe – 00:16:41:

Yes, we don’t need sperm anymore.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:16:44:

From what I understand, that’s something scientists are working on, which maybe 10 years from now, we’ll be doing an episode all about that. But I think one thing too about the Reciprocal IVF that really strikes me, which I know it’s expensive and we can talk about financial barriers in a minute. I’ve read several books all about genetics. And one of the things that I find so interesting is how complicated it is. And also that we often have what we call microchimeras where like, for example, I’m trying to break this down to make it easy for people to understand. When I was pregnant with my first child, parts of my cells and my DNA kind of got into her body and vice versa. So there’s this like almost micro transfer of genetic material, not to change my daughter’s genetic makeup or mine, but that there’s like almost like pieces of me floating around in her and vice versa. And then when I had my second child, those pieces of my first child are still floating around inside my body in a very micro level, go into my son and my son’s material comes to me. So they’ve done research. They can show at the end of life, a mother still might be carrying micro amounts of genetic material from their children.

Gena Jaffe – 00:17:57:

So crazy.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:17:58:

Which just like mind blowing, right? Because then you think about the reciprocal IVF, you literally are both of you leaving an imprint on the child.

Gena Jaffe – 00:18:09:

And then, so I know some about epigenetics.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:18:13:


Gena Jaffe – 00:18:14:

Yeah. Like.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:18:15:

The epigenetics is more about turning on or off certain genes. This is, this is one of the reasons, have you ever heard of people where they, like they do an early genetic test to see if you’re carrying a male or female baby and then it’s wrong because some of the fetal cells from your first child might still be in your blood. And so they test it.

Gena Jaffe – 00:18:34:

Like if the Y, yeah. Yeah.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:18:36:

Yeah. Yeah. So anyways, it’s kind of, it has to do. And I’ll put some links in the show notes and I’ll put a link to the book I read scientifically. I thought it was really fascinating.

Gena Jaffe – 00:18:44:

Yeah. I know that because I carried them, they would have been a slightly different child if my wife had carried them because my genes said, turn this gene on, turn this gene on, turn this. It was like, I, my body.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:18:59:

So you affected them epigenetically as well.

Gena Jaffe – 00:19:01:

Right. And then like a different, something would have turned off or on if she had carried it. So it’s like, they would have come out looking the same. But maybe their personality would have been, I don’t know. It’s crazy.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:19:13:

That’s so cool. So speaking of financial barriers, because I’m sure this kind of process, IVF in general, is really expensive. And then you’re adding sperm donor on top of that if you’re using a bank. So I know on your website you have financial resources. Can you talk a little bit about the fact that there are ways to support families in this journey?

Gena Jaffe – 00:19:32:

Yeah. I mean, it’s not always easy to find, but there are different grants and loans that you can apply for based on your specific circumstances. I know that there’s stuff for the military, stuff for if you’re going through treatment because you have cancer. When we were going through stuff, they had Jewish fertility funds and stuff like that. And then there’s just regular loans that you can apply for, like fertility loans. But there are ways that you can kind of help and get some support if you take the time to fill out all of the applications and doing all that stuff. But yeah, it’s a huge barrier for people to be able to have a child.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:20:10:

Yeah. I just think it’s so cool that your website has a list of so many different organizations that offer grants and loans. And you can kind of click through.

Gena Jaffe – 00:20:20:

It’s a lot.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:20:20:

I didn’t even know that this many resources existed. So I just want to make sure our listeners know you can go to your website and click on fertility resources, financial resources, and then it gives you the list of a bunch of different organizations and kind of the eligibility criteria and what they provide. Yeah. Yeah.

Gena Jaffe – 00:20:40:

Anything helps. Especially because then… Like you said, then you’re paying a lawyer. Because then we had to go through the adoption piece. So it was just…

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:20:50:

You’re talking about IVF, sperm donor, and having a lawyer involved as well.

Gena Jaffe – 00:20:58:

And a baby. Okay. You know? And then caring for a baby and raising a child.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:21:04:

What role does advocacy play in advancing LGBTQ+ rights and healthcare access? Are there any areas that you’re passionate about right now in terms of advocacy?

Gena Jaffe – 00:21:15:

I mean abortion care.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:21:18:

Okay, tell us more about that.

Gena Jaffe – 00:21:22:

I mean, look, abortion and fertility go hand in hand. I think that, first of all, I am a feminist. So I’m all about women’s rights and the right to choose and that it’s your body and your choice to do what you want to do. But I have now seen people in the fertility community that have seriously suffered because of the overturning of Roe, where they’ve gone through so many fertility treatments, got pregnant, their child had a life-threatening condition. Weren’t allowed to get the abortion and then suffered significantly because of it. There are women losing their uterus because they’re not able to get the abortion. And I think that the big concern now in the fertility space and with all of that is this fetal personhood. And Alabama came out ruling that embryos are people. So if you have frozen embryos and you want to discard them, is that now murder? Like that’s the thing. Now, like others are being forced to pay to store their embryos.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:22:40:

In like perpetuity, basically.

Gena Jaffe – 00:22:42:

And it’s not cheap. I think mine was like $1,000 a year. And it’s like, well, and then there are clinics that like in Alabama, like shut down for a little while because they were like, we’re scared of what’s going to happen. You know, creating these embryos, you know, it’s wild that we are having non-medical personnel making medical decisions.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:23:03:

And I think often I feel like there is a little bit of this weird on that side of the political fight where they’re like, you know, we want families to have babies, but only certain kinds of families.

Gena Jaffe – 00:23:18:


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:23:19:

And so I feel like there’s a little bit of that undercurrent in these battles.

Gena Jaffe – 00:23:23:

They care a whole lot about the fetus until the fetus becomes a child. That’s a whole other episode, too.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:23:36:

But you’re right in that I think people forget that these rulings at the Supreme Court level and at state Supreme Court levels have an impact on fertility options for families, like a direct impact.

Gena Jaffe – 00:23:50:


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:23:52:

Do you have any favorite or trusted resources you want to refer our listeners to learn more about any of what we’ve talked about so far? Legal, surrogacy, fertility resources?

Gena Jaffe – 00:24:04:

Yeah, obviously Connecting Rainbows© has a lot of stuff, but I also love Family Equality. They have so much information on their website. You know, they’re an amazing nonprofit that does so much in the space. So that’s really a big one. And then I have done work with Fertility Out Loud©. That is not LGBTQ+ specific, but is an amazing resource. They have like fertility house calls and you can talk to like fertility coaches and stuff like that, which I think is super cool. And then there’s a new company that is launching very soon that I have been working with called Dandy. And it is products that help with the shots when you’re going through treatment, like a numbing thing and a little built-in ice pack. It’s really, really cool. And then they’re also going to be having like, I think like a nurse line or some sort of coaching line that people can call and kind of guide you through because you’re thrown in and you’re supposed to be like a nurse. Like I had to have…

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:25:04:

Like you’re giving yourself injections and things like that.

Gena Jaffe – 00:25:07:

We’re giving ourselves shots. I had to do an intramuscular one in my butt for 10 weeks and my wife did it. But like the first two nights I was freaking out. I lost my mind. I called my mom and then I was too scared to have her do it. I called my cousin who’s a nurse. I was like, I need you to come over here. There’s a lot of things that people don’t know that you go through when it comes to fertility stuff. And literally I’m supposed to be a medical personnel right now. Like those needles are very long.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:25:36:

Wow. Yeah. And I’ve seen some of the pictures of when people show, like collect all of the syringes with the needles and like take a picture.

Gena Jaffe – 00:25:45:

Yeah, I did that. I didn’t know all of them, but I had, I had a decent amount.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:25:49:


Gena Jaffe – 00:25:50:


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:25:50:

Are there any other tips or things people should know about if they’re undergoing fertility treatments to build their family?

Gena Jaffe – 00:25:57:

I think for me, I found, if we’re going to talk about the injection piece, I found like a really good routine to do it in terms of making sure it doesn’t hurt as much and that you don’t get a giant lump in your butt. So they’re called PIO shots. It’s progesterone and oil. And the company that I told you about actually, Dandy, they have products that help this now, which is amazing. Because for me, I was like putting an ice pack on it for a while, getting it nice and cool while I was heating up the syringe in a heating pad so that the oil would go in more smoothly.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:26:30:

Like a body temperature as well. Yeah.

Gena Jaffe – 00:26:32:

Because otherwise it forms a lump sometimes. Then we do the shot. We inject the stuff, take it out and put the heating pad on while my wife would massage it around. Like it’s like a whole thing. So I found a great practice for that. But now like companies are making things, which I think are incredible because it’s like these unknowns that people have to go through. So yeah, this is super cool. I haven’t tested out their products yet. They’re sending me some to test out. But what I’ve seen so far is really cool, like a startup doing stuff like that.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:27:02:

Yeah. Like we talk about comfort measures for labor and birth, but we need comfort measures for fertility treatments as well is what you’re saying.

Gena Jaffe – 00:27:12:


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:27:14:

Because it’s a long and uncomfortable process. I know we talk in the EBB childbirth class about the gait control method of pain relief, where if you are putting pressure on the nerves, only so much stimuli can get through to your brain. So, you know, for example, when I was a nurse and I had to give a lot of intramuscular injections, I would always push really firmly using my hand where you’re spreading the skin or making the mark so that people didn’t feel the needle as much.

Gena Jaffe – 00:27:47:

That’s smart.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:27:48:

So, yeah. So, but it makes sense with the, the using cold and heat and those kinds of things to make it better.

Gena Jaffe – 00:27:57:


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:27:57:

Sounds like a really great idea.

Gena Jaffe – 00:27:59:

Yeah. Yeah.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:28:02:

Is there anything else, Gena, you want to share with us?

Gena Jaffe – 00:28:05:

I think it’s just that no matter what you’re going through on your journey you are not alone. I found an amazing community on Instagram actually I didn’t know anybody who was doing reciprocal IVF this was back in early 2016. So I found a community of other lesbians going through treatment just by like searching hashtags and then like chatting with people and then we kind of went through pregnancy together and all of that. But nowadays there’s just different local groups, Facebook groups, all of that that having a community is so important because, I mean, even people who are who are just trying to get pregnant naturally like not that IVF is not natural. So let’s remember that. Even people who are trying to get pregnant via intercourse, it’s still very anxiety inducing because you’re like worried about every little thing am I pregnant, did I feel that twinge? Like, you know, I’m spotting, oh my God, am I losing the baby. You know it’s so nice to have..

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:29:03:

You go through all the pregnancy things as well.

Gena Jaffe – 00:29:05:


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:29:06:

Then, yeah, the typical fears and anxieties.

Gena Jaffe – 00:29:10:

You know, it’s like, don’t tell anyone you’re pregnant till you’re 12 weeks. NO, I don’t like that. Because so much happens in those first, I mean, it’s really like eight weeks. It’s like, you’re so sick often. You’re scared about miscarrying. And there’s like all this stuff happening in your body that’s like, what’s going on? I don’t know what’s going on. To have people that you can rely on. I’m not saying you have to announce it to the world, but I also don’t think that it’s something that should be a secret because it’s about supporting the person. And if you lose that baby and you never told anyone, like then you don’t.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:29:40:

They can’t support you.

Gena Jaffe – 00:29:41:


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:29:42:


Gena Jaffe – 00:29:43:


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:29:43:

Yeah. It’s also all the pregnancy symptoms and then you have to try and hide them.

Gena Jaffe – 00:29:48:

I would not have been able to at all. I was so sick.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:29:54:

Yeah, that’s definitely an interesting cultural thing that I’m not sure which countries it’s used in. But I think waiting until you’re 12 or even 20 weeks to tell people, it’s an interesting strategy. And I can see how some people use it, especially if they’ve had previous losses and they’re really afraid. They almost don’t want to say anything to jinx it. But at the same time, it’d be nice if it was destigmatized, like early pregnancy loss, so that we could talk about early pregnancy. And finding a care provider who will see you in the first trimester is not easy.

Gena Jaffe – 00:30:29:

See, that’s the benefit of fertility. I was seen every week until I was 10 weeks. So I got an ultrasound starting around five weeks and a couple of days.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:30:41:

You got lots of personal attention.

Gena Jaffe – 00:30:42:

So much. And it was really helped me to not freak out because I got to see my baby every single week. I got to hear the heartbeat at six weeks and then check it again at seven and eight and nine. So then when we went to the, you know, the OB, I’m like. I don’t get to see my baby. Like, are you sure? Like, is it still okay? Yeah.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:31:04:

Well, Gena, thank you so much for joining us today and taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. How can people follow you online?

Gena Jaffe – 00:31:12:

Yeah, so connectingrainbows.org is my organization. We are also on Instagram @connectingrainbowsorg. And my personal page is on there too, where I talk a lot about LGBTQ+ advocacy, family life, my DIY projects. All that good stuff.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:31:32:

And I also want to point out you have a great fertility foundations course on your website for people who are starting the process of building a family. So thank you for building that and for being a person people can go to to find connections.

Gena Jaffe – 00:31:47:

Thank you.

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:31:49:

This podcast episode was brought to you by the book, Babies are Not Pizzas: They’re Born, Not Delivered. Babies Are Not Pizzas is a memoir that tells the story of how I navigated a broken healthcare system and uncovered how I could still receive evidence-based care. In this book, you’ll learn about the history of childbirth and midwifery, the evidence on a variety of birth topics, and how we can prevent preventable trauma in childbirth. Babies are Not Pizzas is available on Amazon as a Kindle, paperback, hardcover, and Audible book. Get your copy today and make sure to email me after you read it to let me know your thoughts.


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