Q & A with Natascha Dea
Natascha Dea Interviewed by the woman who knows her best, her Best Friend and Sister, Kat
K: What does the title “Waiting" represent?
N: The title is both literal and figurative. From the moment you start trying to have a baby, you are waiting… waiting for the positive pregnancy test. When it becomes obvious you are struggling with infertility and you start infertility treatments, waiting takes up a bigger space in your life. You spend a lot of time waiting in waiting rooms and doctors offices. You wait for tests to tell you that you are ready to begin your fertility cycle. You go through all the shots, medications, exams, and procedures and you wait two weeks until your pregnancy test. If it’s unsuccessful, you are still waiting…
K: Were you ever concerned about sharing such a big part of what many would consider to be a private & personal journey?
N: I was. Both personally and professionally. My work, my passion, has always been in exploring female sexuality and strength through photography. With the fertility treatments, I found myself in such a weird new place… a domestic limbo that felt wildly out of place with my art… two years of fertility cycles increasing and decreasing hormones, timed medications, and life on standby as Doctors appointments and procedures change moment to moment because of hormone levels; five years of unsuccessful pregnancies. I felt stalled in my work and I worried that by sharing what I was going through, the domesticity of it, I’d lose my client base. I started seeing a therapist to help with the ups and downs of the treatment cycles, hormones, and miscarriages and she and I talked about this a lot. At this point, Todd & I’d shared our struggle with only a handful of people. My therapist convinced me to start talking about what we are going through, and to start writing about it. If I wasn’t making creative work that felt like "my work" then at least I’d still be doing something creative. And so I started sharing with family and friends and writing a little bit every day. Slowly, by sharing with people we love and trust, and by writing, I found my voice. I began sharing aspects of our journey on social media and advocating for others walking similar paths. I don’t think Waiting would have been born without talking about my experiences.
K: What do you hope readers will gain from hearing your story, what would you like them to take away?
N: I hope my story inspires readers to share their stories. Infertility and reproductive care are still taboo topics to so many. And yet, every person in the world is affected by infertility and reproductive care in some way. Studies have shown that the diagnosis of infertility is as stressful as the diagnosis of cancer. When we don’t talk about these topics, we isolate people who need support.
K: What personal truths have you learned both while undergoing fertility treatments and in creating the book?
N: I’ve learned I am far more patient than I previously thought. I’ve learned that I am stronger, physically and mentally, than I ever thought. I’ve learned to lean into my relationship more and let Todd help me in intensely vulnerable moments. I already knew our relationship was strong and precious, but these experiences have shown me that we continue to grow stronger together. And I'm becoming better at accepting, and honouring, the rawness that is this period in my life. Because it is very raw, stressful, consuming, and life altering. It's also given me a greater appreciation for---and understanding of---creation, creativity, and the miracle of life; and reiterated to me how important reproductive health is and how to best serve as an advocate for better care for the women, men, and families in my life.
K: In today’s political climate with powers actively working to rollback civil & women’s rights, what can individuals (or our society) do to bring conversations of reproductive health & rights forward?
N: Share our stories. Society asks women to not speak to the life experiences that are intrinsically ours. When we don’t share our reproductive health stories, pregnancy and loss stories, infertility and childbirth stories, our experiences and bodies become viewed by society as being irregular when in reality, they are not just normal but a key component of humankind. Literally every person on earth was born from a woman. Labeling these topics taboo doesn’t make the miracle of birth more precious and sacred… it makes birth less understood and opens the door to regulations that hurt mothers and families. I think it’s important we share our stories with our friends and family. But I think it’s also important that we share our stories with our communities and elected officials.
K: How has your creative self been affected by the symptoms and after effects of fertility treatments? Why is it important to seek out expressive outlets at what is a highly sensitive time?
N: I’ve experienced both a creative block and what I would call a crisis of self---but may more accurately be described as Imposter Syndrome---during fertility treatments. I struggled greatly with how to reconcile what felt like two sides of myself during my first 8 rounds of infertility treatments… the domesticity of two years of infertility treatments and the changing shape of my life with the sensuality of my previous creative work and life. Waiting is a result of that period and struggle. Infertility treatments are so very stressful, both emotionally and physically. The changing hormones, medication schedules and side effects, soreness and body changes are all stressful. I think it’s important, reassuring, and healing to have expressive outlets during them. I got through our last two rounds of IVF by photographing my daily life, writing, and reading every book about maintaining creative practice during life changes I could find, as well as every book about infertility written by a Creative. I discovered that while there are quite a few books out there about maintaining creative practice once you become a mother, there are hardly any that speak to maintaining creative practice during life changes that cause your hormones to careen in new exciting ways but don’t come with a child. I’m in the process of starting the Neshama Collective, a year-long creative workshop and gathering space for women-identified artists battling infertility and infertility treatments, in an effort to fill that void.
K: What words of advice do you have for friends and family on how they can best support their loved one as they face challenges with infertility and having a family?
N: Be kind. Ask what your loved one might need and really listen to the answer. Please exercise care in what you say to those struggling to conceive. You cannot possibly imagine all the things a couple who cannot conceive naturally has to consider when they decide to fight to build their family. Glib responses like “just adopt” or “get a dog” hurt. (A dog, really?) Your loved ones want a family so very much and everyone knows you aren’t really going to give up your children when you say, “you want children so badly? Take mine, please. I have more than enough.” Please understand they are happy for you even while being incredibly sad for them. Please tell them you love them, show them you care, while giving them space and time to grieve.
K: Are there any resources you’ve found particularly beneficial that could be of help to women & couples on similar paths?
N: Yes! I included a Resources section in Waiting and that list can also be found on Waiting’s website: www.waitingbynataschadea.com. I’ll be adding to the list on the website as I discover new resources.
K: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
N: Thank you for interviewing me, Kat. I love you so much.