One New York woman has found humor in a difficult situation — and she’s inspiring others throughout her journey.
Karen, a 35-year-old creator behind the hit Instagram account Hilariously Infertile, was told by doctors that she was infertile in December 2011. Now a mother of two, she says she found strength in posting hilarious memes, video confessionals and photos on her account to “let women know they aren’t alone” in their infertility struggles.
“I’m trying to give women hope and to get them to see the ridiculousness of infertility and infertility treatments,” Karen, a fourth grade teacher who requests her last name be kept confidential (“My students Google me!”), tells PEOPLE. “It can be funny, for instance, when you’re in the clinic and no one talks to each other and, like, aren’t we all infertile? Can’t we all talk to each other?
“I’ve had women tell me all they did was cry until they found my page and now they see that there’s humor in IVF treatments and infertility.”
Karen, who has polycystic ovary syndrome, says her inability to have children was “a lot to handle emotionally.”
“I had a complete breakdown,” she admits. “I kept Googling my diagnosis and seeing the word ‘infertile’ and each time it hit me like a ton of bricks.”
For months, she went through in vitro fertilization treatments with her husband, Jeff, by her side.
“But nothing worked,” she says. “I kept thinking maybe I won’t get pregnant, maybe I have to change everything I thought my life would be.”
The only thing that kept Karen going through that difficult time was Jeff’s positive reinforcement and humor.
“It’s hard for women to go through all of this,” she says. “He got me through it with laughter and humor. We made fun of IVF, because you have to joke about it or else you cry.”
That was the inspiration for her Instagram page Hilariously Infertile, which has garnered over 10,000 followers since its inception in April 2016.
“It really took off right away,” she says. “I didn’t have social media when I was going through treatments, and I think it’s a great platform for women to connect over an awkward issue.”
After taking clomid fertility medication treatment and undergoing insemination, Karen was able to give birth to a daughter, Zoe, on November 8, 2012.
And, three years later, Jeff and Karen welcomed a second daughter, Abby, who was conceived via IVF.
“We spent years and years undergoing treatments and operations and it was silly and ridiculous, so my main message is that women going through this aren’t alone,” says Karen. “Ultrasound wands are funny, let’s be honest.
“If you can’t laugh about this stuff, you’ll lose your mind.”