Oh Candace, what can I say about Candace? The truth is, I didn’t know Candace until I saw her MTV special and was SO touched by her story that I reached out. When she graciously replied, I totally felt like I had chatted with a celebrity. However, from there, we have formed a special friendship and I appreciate Candace and Chris’s heart for the infertility community and advocacy SO much. She is hilarious, which you will see below, refreshing and totally relate-able. In fact, if you follow along their story on their blog, you’ll see there’s exciting potential for their future family in the works! Candace, thanks so much for sharing with us what it’s like to be on a reality show! I adore you so!
What it is like to be on a Reality Show?
Wait. I thought our life was already a reality show? Minus the spray tans, crazy roommates, and random hot tub debauchery.
For us, infertility was a huge punch in the lady bits and dangly parts. Our fertility woes snuck in like a thief and robbed us of our financial stability, pride, and the joy for others more fortunate. It rocked every relationship facet of our life and let’s get really real, our faith was a bit rocky at times too. Like many of you reading these words, we never thought this would be our new normal. Yet here were, feeling alone and desperate.
We were silent.
I mean talking about the status of your cervical mucus over tacos with your in-laws is usually not the best conversation starters. As a result, we simply did not share our struggle with anyone and withdrew ourselves into a wine and tissue filled protective bubble. It was really lonely there and …I eventually ran out of wine.
Since that didn’t seem to help, something had to change. We threw our needles to the wind, and did the exact opposite of what we had been doing. Which was start a blog. Holding nothing back and contributing both of our perspectives, we had no idea it would have the success that it did, nor did I think oversharing about the regular happenings of my vagina or Chris’s plastic cup capades would attract the attention of MTV. Apparently MTV was into that.
ish got real.
A MTV casting producer found our blog and reached out to us. The she later shared with us that it was the pictures of our rockin’ ugly Christmas sweaters that was made her say, “this is our kind of people.” They asked questions, we answered questions, signed dotted lines on release forms, and sent in requested videos. We were literally about to open up the doors to our bedroom and invite in a whole team of people, their cameras, and the world to witness and document our struggle with something that was both acutely painful and intimate for a couple to experience. Sorry to disappoint, this wasn’t some B budget Skin-a-max movie, it was True Life, I’m Desperate to Have a Baby. Not the most flattering of titles, not entirely inaccurate either. I had someone ask us once, “how we could trust that MTV would truly show what it was like living with infertility without painting a negative picture on the struggle.” It was a risk for sure, but Chris and I were secure in who we are as people, and we were not concerned about how we personally would be portrayed. Also, the process of treatment and the peaks and valleys organically entails plenty of drama, heartache, and awkward laughs there would be no shortage of that.
With that, we let them into our life and our bedroom…
Needles, camera, action…
The MTV team had impeccable timing too. I had just been given a one last shot, green light from both my RE and my OB-GYN oncologist. After 6 failed IUIs, 4 surgeries, and 5 additional failed IVF rounds, I had poked the sleeping bear. I was starting to develop the beginning stages of uterine cancer. This next round, would be my last before I would undergo a partial hysterectomy. So with that, we made friends with an amazing crew of producers and their team of people who were beyond talented. They were caring and incredibly empathetic. Most of all, they wanted to learn via lens about what life was like for someone who desperately wanted to build their family but could not. They spent almost a year filming us. It’s funny because people asked us a lot of questions, like. “did they live with you during this time?”
No. They had rotating teams would fly in when we had a major event or milestone take place. They would stay at a hotel for a few days and fly back home to their own lives and families. They were some of the hardest working and gracious people we had ever encountered.
Ever have 3 dudes stalk your period? I have. For those who are unfamiliar with IF lingo, CD1, is the holy day of starting your fertility cycle. CD1 means, go ahead and start injecting because a few weeks later you will be doing a transfer.
Ever heard of that saying that a “watched pot never boils?”
These poor producers missed birthdays, anniversaries and all kinds of ridiculous time away from their loved ones simply waiting for me to start my period. They were literally sitting around waiting for Aunt Flo arrive. Since we all know she is a huge bish, you can imagine that did not go well. I was trying everything to make it happen, Google was my BFFie. I have never seen men more excited about a menstrual cycle, then when I ceremoniously announced that I was riding the cotton cowboy. I mean seriously, imagine having a drink with your buddy after spending and extensive amount of time with me, waiting-for-period-girl.
“Hey man, how was your film shoot out of town? It suckkkkkkkkked! I had to wait around for like week for this chick to get on the rag.”
This was my life.
We all became really close. They called the room where I kept my sharps container, medications, and other IVF related supplies “the hospital room.” Looking back, what was normal for us at the time, must have been overwhelming for them. I noticed them cringed behind the lens of camera watching me take shot after shot in the same bruised places because frankly my whole abdomen looked like someone had went Office Space on it.
I guess we were desperate to have a baby.
You begin to get comfortable and forget that there is someone filming you. This is where the reality aspect begins to take place. At some point, a few extra people lugging around cameras in an already crowded OR room for an embryo transfer became a normal day for us.
I did ask them once, what was the hardest documentary they had ever filmed? Both producers who had come to visit at the time instantly replied, “this one.” They went on to explain that in many cases people put themselves in the situations that they are in. For us, and the other couple they filmed, we were “good people that really bad things had happened to.” In a matter of 24 hours, they flew to Chicago to film the other couple going through their first round of IVF for her beta. It was joyously positive. Then they hopped back on a flight and flew to us where we all would find out together cameras a blazing, that my last and final IVF was negative. Talk about a rollercoaster of emotions to undergo. They wiped away streaming tears from their face behind the camera documenting our world crumble and future uncertainty begin to magnify.
Even now, we are still are very much in touch with most of the MTV producers. We visit them when we are NYC and we chat periodically and catch up on each other’s life. The business of television is a hard one. The see a lot and they miss out on a lot in their own personal lives to capture what they see. After our first show released and our families watched it, a family member asked why we didn’t share with them what we were really going through. Um, hello? We have a blog. It’s pretty detailed too. In reality, it was because they could see firsthand the pain and heartache we endured.
Our decision to share such a taboo topic was because of this very reason. We knew that by sharing our story could possibly help others know that they were not alone. They could see and relate to the bruises, the envy, and the hormonal feels that come along with trying to have a child. That someone else, was also desperate to have a baby.
Chelsea asked me, what was it like to be on a reality show? Honestly, I guess it felt a little less un-lonely at the time. The pain was less sharp at times throughout our filming because there were others in the room who shared it and felt it with us.
You have a story to tell. You never know what may happen when you decide to give it life.
If you are into True Life and missed it…here is the original show.
For if you want to see what happened after the show,hereis Check-ups and Check-ins show.
If you find yourself masochistically curious and want to read more about our misadventures and broken bits, here’s ourblog.
Candace Wohl and her husband Chris, co-author an award winning called, “Our Misconception” that began in 2012. The couple was also featured on MTV’s True Life, “I’m Desperate to Have a Baby,” a documentary on couples who struggle with infertility and MTV’s Check Ups and Check Ins. They both are fierce advocates towards pushing for pro-family building Federal legislation and infertility awareness is their active volunteer roles as ambassadors for RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. Apart from her advocacy work, Candace also leads a RESOLVE support group, helping couples who are struggling with infertility and miscarriage. She can be found anywhere from Cosmopolitan magazine to Huffington Post and currently writes for pregnantish magazine, Fertility Smarts, The Mighty, Adoption.net and many other online sites and magazines. Follow their antics on Facebookand Instagram @Ourmisconception or Twitter@rmisconception.
PPS – If you’re ever looking for a devotional on living life while in a waiting season, check out the devotional I co-authored called ‘In the Wait’!
PPPS – Check out the other contributions from this series