To mark National Infertility Awareness Week, Refinery29 is dedicating a full week of coverage to an open discussion about becoming a parent. Check out more here.
GloZell Green is not afraid of challenges. On her YouTube channel, the comedian has tackled everything from turning her head into a rubber-band ball to soaking in a bath of milk and cereal while attempting to eat the tub’s contents (yes, really). But for the past few years, Green has been attempting one of her most difficult challenges yet: trying to become a mother.
Glo All In, which runs on the Awestruck Network on go90! The online series offers viewers a glimpse into the often frustrating and painful path to pregnancy for those who have trouble conceiving. But GloZell manages to make this, like all challenges she experiences, funny and enjoyable to watch.
Of course, Green, 43, didn’t expect things to be so difficult when she started looking into having a baby at the age of 39. But after doctors began dismissing her as “too old” and told her she couldn’t carry a baby to term because of health complications, she decided to start sharing her fertility journey on camera. She figured she couldn’t be the only woman going through this, and other women might like to know they’re not alone.
The good news? Green is now expecting a baby girl in August, thanks to the right doctor and the kindness of a surrogate.
We got the chance to sit down with Green recently to talk about fertility stigma, what kept her motivated throughout the treatment process, and how she’s feeling in the months leading up to her daughter’s birth. Check out our video with her above and our extended chat with her below.
Why did you decide to talk about your fertility journey on camera?
“To start, I didn’t know that I was supposed to be embarrassed about it. I was just posting on Facebook that it wasn’t happening for us. I tried to go to this fertility doctor, I went to another one, and then people started sending me messages telling me they’ve had the same issues. I’m like, really? I didn’t know that. I just thought maybe they didn’t want to have kids.
“I almost feel like [a lot of people] wanted to, and they just never sought help, because someone like my mama told them, ‘Oh, it’ll happen,’ just because it was easy for [her]. Well, you’ve got to be proactive. I’m 43, and I’ve done a lot of stuff — traveling and school and everything — and it wasn’t all about focusing on just a family once I finished school. My mom told me, ‘Make sure you do everything you want to do before you have kids.’ So that’s what I was doing. But biologically, the body is just like, well, you should have done it. And all the doctors that I went to, except for the last one, made me feel like I was just so old. You know, ‘You should have frozen your eggs at 20.’ Well, who’s thinking about that at 20?”
Why do you think women are often embarrassed or ashamed to talk about fertility struggles?
“There’s something with fertility that makes you think that that it’s an automatic something that you’re supposed to be able to do. You know? It’s the one thing you can do as woman. You might not get your education, you might not get this great job, but you can have a kid. And now, people are more educated, and they want to wait [to have kids]; they want to have a career. So I do want to emphasize: You can freeze your eggs and you can have a kid after you’re long gone. Hopefully, we can get [these discussions] to the forefront.”
“Yes. I thought, like, Oh, they’re just gonna give me some pills, and I’ll be good. And then all of a sudden we’re gonna have twins, and it’s gonna be amazing. Everyone was like, ‘You know, Halle Berry had a kid at 40!’ and they start mentioning all these celebrities. First of all, Halle Berry has millions of dollars to do that, and you don’t know what else she went through. You don’t know if she had miscarriages; you don’t know if it worked every single time — you know it worked just the one time, however.”
How old were you when you started looking into having a baby and how long did it take to get pregnant?
“I started looking into this at 39, and I’m 43, and it’s just now happening. The only procedure I had done was the egg retrieval, and I had that done six times. I wasn’t going to carry the child myself, so I didn’t have to do any other procedures. It took three years from talking about it, to meeting with Wendie Wilson-Miller from Gifted Journeys Surrogacy, to finding the right doctor, to doing the egg retrieval, and finding the right surrogate.”
Why did you have to use a surrogate and how did you go about finding one?
“I have endometriosis, and my uterine lining is thin. I went through an agency, and they paired me up with a young [white] lady. And for me, I didn’t care what her race was, but when I posted pictures [of her], people were commenting, ‘Oh, you wanted a white kid.’ Well, I don’t mind a white kid, but people don’t even understand how surrogacy works. Biologically, it’s my child. Still, people are like, ‘Oh, you couldn’t find someone Black?’ Well, I don’t know if that makes a difference! And also, when you get to that point, you don’t care. You’re just happy that someone is willing to do be your surrogate, because it’s very dangerous — you’re still pregnant. Pregnancy is not easy, and you’re taking a health risk for somebody else.”
How did this whole experience affect your relationship with your husband?
“Well, you do kind of get mad because they’re not going through it. It doesn’t really seem fair, especially because my husband is 10 years older, so I just assumed the issue was with him — like, his old behind. But no, he’s fine. He didn’t have to take any shots or anything; he just had to put his sample in a cup. For me, it was better to find other women [to vent to], because he could only sympathize so much.”
You mention in Glo All In that the day you found out you needed a surrogate was the day you were told you were going to interview the president. How did you manage all of the fertility treatments and keep up with the rest of your life?
“Well, you have to. First of all, you don’t know what you’re gonna do until you have to do it. Like, interviewing the president was not a part of my life plan. You know what I’m saying? I was a comedian, and not thinking, I’m gonna go to the White House. I just decided to let go, because honestly, I didn’t care about the president at that time. I was like, I’ve got to get this done, this is super important, but this president thing is gonna be one and done. Well, maybe we’ll meet again — that’d be nice, you know, because he was hot and everything. The world is like, Oh, the president, and you’re thinking, Oh, goodness gracious! I’m finally getting on this road that I’ve been trying so hard to get on.”
What’s the biggest piece of advice you’ve been giving to the women who reach out to you?
“Don’t stop. It can get discouraging — Oh, it didn’t work or Oh, I lost the baby or I can’t do this again. You can. And when you get the kid, you’ll be happy that you did. But it’s a very painful process for a lot of people. You just have to figure out how it’s gonna get done.”
What’s left for you to do until the baby arrives in August?
“We’re just waiting, but every day, I’m just like, okay…anything can happen with anybody’s pregnancy. So with this one, where [I’m] not involved every day, [my surrogate] has been telling me like, ‘Oh, it’s the size of a piece of rice,’ or ‘Oh, now she’s the size of a berry,’ or ‘Now she’s the size of a sweet potato,’ or ‘Now she’s the size of an ear of corn.’ So now I’m, like, in awe, and I want to get some corn. I love that she’s telling me about food, because that’s very relatable to me.
“Right now, she’s the size of an ear of corn, and [my surrogate] just went to Hawaii. Every time she goes somewhere, I’m like, ‘Do you have to go?’ But the surrogate has a life, and she’s allowed to travel. The doctor says it’s okay. I’m like, really, doctor, really? But I don’t want her family to be like, Ugh, she’s pregnant, so we can’t do anything, because she also agreed to do it again. So I want it to be really happy and really easy for her.”
So you’re already thinking about a second baby?
“Yes, I’m already thinking about a sibling; that would be nice. I have a few more eggs left that passed the test.”
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