We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Tasha Blasi about her role as a fertility coach and what she loves about her work. Having gone through 10 IVF cycles herself, she brings a unique perspective to dealing with the struggles of infertility. Learn more about Tasha.
Q: Tasha, what inspired you to become a fertility coach?
A mid-life crisis, of course! I was an executive in an advertising career in NYC but not happy. My friend dragged me to a women’s networking event where I met Sarah Walton, a Business Coach. I told her that I did not know what I wanted to be when I “grew up” and asked if she could help. I had always wanted to take Oprah’s advice and “live my best life” and “find my true calling,” but I had no idea what that was. I had taught chemistry and biology, built various small businesses, and then spent the last eleven years in advertising sales. After one session with Sarah, it was clear what fed my soul — helping women go through IVF easier, smarter, and cheaper than I did.
I had done IVF 10 times to have my two children. And, due to my experience, I had become everyone’s BFF (best fertility friend) over the last seven years. So, I gathered the tips, advice, and strategies I had been sharing with my friends and organized them into blog articles, videos, one-on-one support and an online course. I am excited to work on the Fertilitites Unite (FU) project every day. At 41 years-old, I finally know what I want to be when I ‘grow up!’
Q: Given that many women going through infertility feel isolated and alone, we love your idea of a Best Fertility Friend (BFF). Can you tell us how a BFF can support women during their infertility journey?
Everyone needs a BFF during IVF. The BFF is the one person in your life that has been through every shot, appointment, and heartbreak. No matter how close you are with your family, friends or partner, no one understands what it is like to be on the emotional and physical roller coaster of IVF unless they have been through it themselves. Without a BFF, a woman going through the fertility journey typically ‘closes up’ to protect both herself and others. She doesn’t want to keep making her mom sad each time she has an unsuccessful transfer or make her friends feel sorry for her. Although her partner is closest to her journey and her, he/she cannot share the energy and responsibilities, and this can leave both of them feeling isolated and inadequate.
Without a BFF to talk to, a woman undergoing IVF typically internalizes her feelings. Internal strife, in turn, causes anxiety and anxiety releases stress hormones, which disrupt balance in your reproductive system. In tough times, the BFF can be there to say, “I understand” or “that happened to me too” or “here is what helped me when I was in that situation.” The woman goes from feeling lonely and isolated to feeling more normal, understood and empowered. Hearing women say how helpful it is to be able to talk with someone who understands their journey is the reason why I started this business.
Q: You went through IVF 10 times. We all know how overwhelming going through just one cycle can be. What would be your top tips for women, or couples, to help maintain their sanity during the IVF journey?
First, I want to address that I went through IVF 10 times, but if I knew then what I know now, I would have been successful so much sooner. Fortunately, so far none of my other clients have had to go through IVF that many times! To answer your question, the sanity-saving tips for the women going through IVF would include many of the tools from my lesson on “A.A.S.S.,” or Anti-Anxiety Self-Soothers.
All of the following strategies are actually backed by scientific proof that they help control and balance hormones. Strategies include a Hit List, which is a list of things that will help to immediately shift your mindset and are readily available — and are not drugs — such as comedy, a magazine, playing with your dog, or a massage. Also, try writing down three things that you appreciate about your day or the IVF journey. There is a famous research study from Dr. Robert Emmons on the power of this practice and how it helps make the body and mind healthier.
I discuss sleep and make sure that the woman is getting the right kind of sleep. I also highly recommend that women going through fertility treatments invest a short time of the day, every day, to meditate. Meditation does not need to be hard or take long. My friend, Lois Kramer-Perez offers free guided medications called 30-Second Vacations. The free Headspace app is also great for guided meditation.
Q: Can you give us a brief overview of what a session with you is like?
The first session is called the “Free Fertility Strategy.” This conversation will change if the woman just experienced a miscarriage or is in the middle of a round of IVF, but the following would be a typical session for a woman or couple just starting the fertility journey. When someone signs up, there is a form to fill out, asking questions about their experience with trying to get pregnant. This helps me learn all about what the issue might be, where the woman is going for treatments, and her levels of anxiety. We start the session with me giving her a fertility strategy. The strategy might include stopping IUI, changing clinics so that they are at the best IVF laboratory, seeing a maternal health consultant, or seeing Clear Passage to open blocked fallopian tubes
Managing anxiety is always something my clients need help with, so next we talk about clearing the mind and body, which I believe is a huge roadblock for IVF success. Growing resentment between couples is another common issue, so we may discuss ways to balance the relationship. I follow up the call with an email summarizing what we discussed, resources on topics we discussed, the next steps I recommend they take, and how I could help them achieve their goals if they need more help.
Q: Can you share one of your memorable moments – whether the funniest, most inspirational or the happiest —from your infertility journey?
There were so many funny moments throughout my journey. Not funny at the time, but funny to share now. In my blog FU-TV, I write about all of those moments to help women laugh a little and learn a lot.
I would say that the most inspirational moment was during my 10th round of IVF. I was getting acupuncture, and the acupuncturist said to me how stoic I was about the whole process. I explained in an upbeat tone that “it is what it is” and how “there is nothing that I can do about it so I just need to keep moving forward.” She replied, “It is a very sad process, and it is okay to be sad.” It might sound like an obvious and simple statement, but for the last three years, I had taken a very scientific, project-based approach to IVF as I completed the previous cycles. I didn’t want anyone to pity me. It was taking up so much time, energy, and money — I just wanted to ignore it and make it go away with a smile. So, I would put on a happy face and just get through it. When this approach would fail, I would take a day to cry, feel hopeless, yell at my husband for anything I could think of, and then figure out my next steps. Very mechanical. Just hearing that the process was supposed to be sad and that it was okay to feel sad helped break down my controlling, sterile wall. The acupunturist was right. IVF was horribly hard and sad, and I was doing it for the 10th time! I bawled through the entire appointment.
From that day on, when someone would ask how IVF was going, I wouldn’t put on a happy face and talk in an upbeat tone anymore. I would admit how difficult it was, but that I would be okay. People would not respond with pity, but with praise and understanding. I feel that being more authentic about my feelings and letting them out after a buildup of so many years ‘unblocked’ my body. It was finally open enough to have room to house a baby. That 10th round brought me my daughter, Mila.