Actress Constance Marie is perhaps best known for her role as Angie Lopez on the sitcom George Lopez. She caught our attention recently for being so upfront about her struggle with infertility. Constance, forty-four, and her fiancé, yoga instructor Kent Katich, are the happy parents of sixteen-month-old Luna Marie, the daughter it took them three-and-a-half years to conceive.
At thirty-eight, Constance started her journey of trying to conceive. For more than three years she underwent fertility treatment: six IUI cycles and two IVF cycles (one with ICSI), clomid and injectable fertility drugs. She had two miscarriages, and finally conceived Luna Marie with a frozen embryo transfer.
Constance likens her IUI cycles to “coordinating a rocket launch.” She jokes that she only ovulated on holidays and weekends—forcing her doctor to drop what he was doing to perform an insemination and wreaking havoc with schedules. One Christmas she decided to take a break from the rigors of treatment. “For Christmas, my gift was not to have IUI, we just did it the old fashioned way. And I got pregnant.” She and Kent were in shock. Their “normal” was that she didn’t get pregnant.
A routine ultrasound at six and a half weeks to see the baby’s heartbeat led to heartbreak: There was a placenta but no baby. She scheduled a D and C rather than let the miscarriage happen naturally. “By Monday morning I was back on the sitcom stage trying to make people laugh, and moving on,” she says.
Doing research, Constance says, “was the only thing I could do that made me feel like I had personal control over the situation.” Her tendency to be “green and organic” led her to eliminate mercury from her diet, stop using products that contained BPA, cut fish out of her diet, and do cleanses and detoxes to eliminate metals in her body. “I thought, ‘if there’s something so wrong with the fetal tissue that it can’t develop and I’m pumping my body full of mercury and other heavy metals in the environment, I am creating a situation that’s making it worse.’” She also started doing acupuncture.
Constance continued with IUIs and suffered another miscarriage.
She admits that it was, “almost impossible to hold on to hope. You’ve invested everything you possibly could—thinking positive, eating right, taking care of your body, the medicines. You’ve gone 100 percent, and it makes sense that you feel the loss 100 percent.”
She decided to move on to IVF and enlisted the help of fertility doctor, Dr. Richard Marrs, of California Fertility Partners in Los Angeles. During her two IVF cycles she says they implanted “perfect looking embryos” and, “each time those perfect looking embryos did not implant and I did not get pregnant.”
Dr. Marrs (whom she calls “a rock star”) “started thinking outside the box, which I loved about him,” she says. He believed that the implantation process was impeded by the ovulation inducing medications, she says, and he suggested they create the embryos, freeze them, and then she would detox to purify her system before the embryos were implanted.
Despite the fact that she hated having to wait, she detoxed for two months. Then she did a frozen embryo transfer in conjunction with acupuncture “and little Luna Marie implanted,” she says.
“Sometimes I look at her and I think ‘thank you so much for deciding to show up.’ I am so grateful.”
Why Is Constance Talking?
Approximately one in eight couples struggle with infertility. And yet, you wouldn’t know it—most people are silent about their struggles to get pregnant. So why is Constance talking? “The more we can talk about it, the less stigma” there will be, she says.
“I was reading the magazines and hearing how everybody was [getting pregnant] naturally late in life. I know it does happen”—her best friend got pregnant naturally at forty-to and then again at fofty-four—”but not as often as you read about it,” she adds. “I totally respect everybody’s privacy, but just don’t say it was natural—that’s just not fair. Doing that leads to a culture of, ‘What is wrong with me?’”
So how did Constance manage those three and a half years of trying to conceive? “I talked about it privately with other women,” she says. “I think you have to, otherwise you go nuts.” “I had an immediate sisterhood with other women who had gone through [fertility treatment] or were going through it. And, especially if they had a child, even if it was a bleak, long, arduous process, it gave me hope. And I think hope is so important when you’re going through that process.”
Originally published on FertilityAuthority.com