Meet Rana Florida. She’s a media-savvy corporate powerhouse (read: Global CEO), best-selling author, passionate philanthropist, and a 7-month-pregnant, soon-to-be mother of two.
PHEW! Jesus, I’m tired just writing about her!
She is the quintessential Rebel Mama: multifaceted, driven, dream-chasin’, baby-raisin’, and an advocate for honesty about the reality of being a modern day woman and mother. We had a frank conversation with her about Invitro Fertilization – a process on which she has become somewhat of an expert over the past decade…
Can you describe your IVF journey for us? How did you decide that it was the right path for you to take?
The journey was a roller coaster of shots, pills, emotions, bureaucracy, disappointment and ultimately… happiness! Growing up in a traditional Jordanian family in the suburbs of Michigan, I was taught my entire life to follow a linear path of life:
Go to school, get good grades, land a high paying job, get married and start a family. And I did just that and continued with graduate school. Finding the right mate took a while, but I assumed that when I was ready to have kids, it would happen right away. I had a huge extended family to support that belief; my mother had six children, my sisters got pregnant right away and I have hundreds of cousins and come from a very big family on both sides.
It was a bit of a shock, when I didn’t get pregnant right away.
I dragged my reluctant yet supportive husband to an IVF specialist in Washington DC who gave us tons of great information and stats, like: the odds that a woman in her 20’s will get pregnant each month are around 20% to 25% (the highest they’ll ever be), while a woman in her 30’s has a 15% to 20 % chance of getting pregnant each month. Fertility dramatically declines after age 35.
Did you find that your IVF treatments interrupted other parts of your daily life? If so, how?
IVF is not for the faint of heart. It is very disruptive and doctors and nurses are overworked with too many patients. First the bureaucracy of the screenings, exams, background information is a full time job. Blood test after blood test and more poking and prodding to get to the root of the issue before even starting the cornucopia of shots and hormone drugs, which cause even the most stable of us to be an emotional mess. Throw in tons of travel and a full time job and finding clinics to monitor a new outside patient is more than a juggling act to say the least. Digging up medical records, being the go between between doctors offices and nurses, following up and making sure orders were received and reviewed between time changes and taking your right dose on time based on new results was extremely difficult and challenging.
How did undergoing IVF affect how you’ve felt about your pregnancies and has it had an impact on the way you parent?
What do you know now about fertility now that you wish someone had told you 10 years ago?
Two things I wish I had known. First and foremost, know your clinic’s success scores, you can find them online HERE
There’s no sense in wasting your time and money with a clinic that has very low success compared to the national average.
Second, every OB/GYN should inform her patients about the risk of birth control and delaying pregnancy. Yes it’s great that the pill has helped with planned parenthood and reducing teenage pregnancy, but doctors pass these pill packs out like candy without properly informing patients of the things associated with delaying pregnancy, like changes in fertility and egg quality cycle. Everyone should be informed.
What have you found to be the biggest misconception that people have about women who are undergoing IVF?
That there’s something wrong with them. What’s wrong is our society and how it has steered so many women in this direction. First with the societal forces of delaying motherhood to move your career forward, then all the pressure in having to find the perfect mate before starting a family, then the lack of support system to help raise that child both socially and financially.
The majority of women are forced to choose to give up their professional careers to care for their children or be stressed out messes and juggle demanding hours at work with neglected or sub-par child care.
Most leaders do not grant working moms freedom and flexibility to do their job and the popular thinking is that workers need to be chained to their desks to do their job. We need a total revamp, so many other societies do it better than us.
The corporate world is notorious for being an inhospitable place for women in general and mothers specifically. What suggestions would you give to companies both large and small in order to help them create a work environment in which women can really flourish?
It’s a disgrace, especially in the US. First, there is no paid leave. The Family Medical Leave Act which was finally put into place with President Clinton, only allows 12 weeks off without pay. I wrote recently that over the last 40 years, women have gone from 37% of the workforce to 48%. The productivity gains that can be attributed to women’s increased participation in the labor force amount to $3.5 trillion in GDP. That’s almost a quarter of the nation’s total GDP and more than the GDP of all of Germany.
But despite all of women’s economic contributions, most countries and even most U.S. corporations don’t work hard enough to attract and retain them. When women decide to have children, many will not return to work, as antiquated policies don’t leave them enough room to juggle their careers and families. Leading tech companies in the Bay Area are starting to realize this and are giving incentives to families in an effort to attract talent. But the world’s most innovative and creative organizations should be dreaming up new ways to establish a better work-life balance for all their employees.
Mothers need to be home with their children for at least 6 months to a year, especially if they are breast feeding. Moreover, our society needs to find a way to support them. Most families can’t afford to take 3 months off without pay. So the mothers and their newborns suffer. The saying goes, today’s children will be tomorrow’s leaders. So what does this tell us about our society if that’s the type of future we want. Every advanced nation gets this except for the richest nation in the world.
We should be looking to Sweden for inspiration, which has some of the highest maternal employment rates in the EU (and among the lowest levels of childhood poverty). Many Swedish parents — male and female alike — take advantage of flexible working arrangements — part time employment rates for women and men are 39.6 and 14.6 percent respectively, compared to EU averages of 32.5 and 9.4 percent. Sweden’s parental leave policy grants mothers and fathers together up to 16 months paid leave.
Thanks Rana, for this food for thought.
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