Andrea Syrtash, a real life superhero bridging the gap between her work and personal life, talks about fertility, relationships, and embracing the“ish”of things.
If ever there was the definition of Superwoman, Andrea Syrtash is it. Andrea is a dating and relationship writer, online broadcaster and author. She has been featured as an on-air personality on ABC’s The View, Good Morning America, NBC’s Today Show, and Oprah to name a few. Andrea has also spoken at TEDxNavesink Makers on “How to Make Love (Outside the Bedroom)”, and is a regular contributor to Glamour.com. To add to her growing list of credits, Andrea also recently founded pregnantish, the first-ever digital lifestyle magazine dedicated to providing resources for the fertility-challenged, inspired by her own and others' experiences associated with the trials and tribulations on the road to getting pregnant.
I had the opportunity to catch up with Andrea in between the filming of a TV pilot that she is hosting. Before kicking off our discussion, Andrea thoughtfully shared that both aspects of her career, being a relationship expert and the Editor-in-Chief of her new fertility-focused site pregnatish, go hand in hand. “Infertility is not just a medical issue, it's a relationship one. That's part of my goal with the site - to help singles/couples/LGBT navigate the personal and practical parts of the process.”
What made you decide to launch pregnantish?
As I've navigated my own infertility and fertility treatments for a number of years, I've searched far and wide on the Internet for a smart resource that wasn't clinical and it's been tough to find. Information on this primarily has lived on parenting sites; and while these can be helpful, I felt it was time that we had our own lifestyle destination. There are amazing medical and advocacy sites and we're not competing with them. We're trying to fill a different need. Instead of waiting for it, I decided to create it.
pregnantish is a great name, what is the inspiration behind it?
Over the last six years, I've undergone many fertility treatments, have been very hormonal, and told by my doctor to take it easy: not to drink alcohol or exercise too much, in the case I might be pregnant. I've also had a positive beta test and have literally been pregnant for a time, and have lost the pregnancy. Essentially, the inspiration behind the name is that it's a misconception, and you can in fact be a little bit pregnant!
Three adjectives you would use to describe pregnantish?
Supportive. Smart. Relatable. Our tagline is ‘Real Talk About Fertility.’
What is your mantra?
When in doubt, choose love.
The moment(s) when you knew you were “ready” (to be a mom)?
Some women have always known they wanted to become a mom. In my case, it happened a couple of years into my marriage. I realized my partner (who is a teacher) would be a great dad, and that I was ready to expand our family. Once my niece was born, almost 4 years ago, it was even more solidified to me that I would love to raise a child.
You’ve written dozens of books on relationships; fertility can be taxing on a relationship. What is your number one piece of advice to couples on navigating the potential fertility minefield?
Good question! Firstly, couples should give themselves a break. This is such a tough thing to navigate, as infertility challenges relationships in the deepest way: the relationship you have with each other, with yourself, with your bodies, with your work, with your community, with your bank account and more. I'd suggest that couples leave the lines of communication open, so they don't feel as alone. I'd also suggest that they don't just look to each other for support. Each person in a partnership has a right to feel feelings of frustration, despair, hopelessness, confusion and more. Sometimes, though, it's too intense to rely on your partner to help you through this. I'd suggest finding a trusted source - a friend, clergy member, or therapist, to help each or both of you so that you have the support you need.
You recently posted a meme that “Facebook is constantly reminding me that everyone is pregnant but me.” How do you recommend handling the news of a friend’s pregnancy announcement?
I have learned that you can hold two emotions: you can be happy for a friend and sad for yourself. You can celebrate your friend's pregnancy news, but you aren't a bad friend if your heart sinks and you feel sad for yourself at the same time. That's normal. It's helpful to remember that we can hold both emotions.
Has there been a silver lining to your experience?
Some people have said to me, 'All this was worth it so you could create pregnantish.' I have mixed feelings about this. I'm an eternal optimist, who sees the good in most situations; and yet, I wouldn't wish these 6 years of pregnancy losses, intense fertility treatments, invasive surgery, emptying the bank account, etc. on anyone! It's been a very tough road. The silver lining is that hopefully I can help others feel less alone as they navigate this, too.
Your go-to for managing stress?
I'm a glutton for massages! I don't get them often, but every time I go, I feel better after and well taken care of. The body goes through so much during treatment that it's important to practice self-care! I also swim regularly. This helps me alleviate stress.
Cook or order-in?
In my head I cook a lot. In reality, I go out or take out more (part of NY living, it seems!).
Favorite feel-good food?
I enjoy foods with a surprise inside (dumplings, empanadas, ravioli, etc).
Last book you read?
I re-read Emotional Intelligence. So good!
Who inspires you?
So many people inspire me (including my parents!); but in terms of a public figure, I'm inspired by Oprah. A few years ago I hosted a great show for her network and it was a great honor. I grew up watching her show religiously. What I appreciate about her is her authenticity, her commitment to helping people live well and her drive. She's created so many amazing opportunities and platforms, and has made the world a better place. I hope to do (at least a fraction of!) the same with the media platform I have and the writing I do...
Best piece of advice that you have ever received?
The most important thing you can offer in a relationship is your presence.
Number one piece of fertility advice that you would like to share?
As much as possible, embrace the 'ish' of things. Life isn't black and white, and some of the best life paths aren't expected or linear. I've realized that it's important to know the what (that you want to be a parent) and it's okay to not yet know the who (biological or not), how or where of it."
To find out more about Andrea Syrtash visit pregnantish and sign up for the newsletter. You can also follow along @pregnantish on Facebook and Instagram, and @pregnantishmag on twitter.