Monday, May 16, 2011

Yummy Life leaves a bad aftertaste

Anger. Frustration. Betrayal. These words aren't often associated with infertility, but they are the cleanest words I will use to describe how I feel about Holly Amarandei and

In July of last year, I met Holly Amarandei through Resolve: The National Infertility Association's Facebook page. She portrayed herself as being a CPC (Certified Personal Coach), with a mind-body approach to infertility. She offered a 12 week coaching course plus two individual coaching sessions in exchange for blogging about her business. Being one of those desperate, fall-for-anything infertile women, I jumped at the chance to join her group and learn some new ways to cope with infertility.

I should have seen that this group was doomed from the beginning. Our initial contact was in July...there was a lot of back and forth emailing about when the actual group would meet, which was always "soon. how's next week?" I took a "test," and filled out an in intensely personal questionnaire with questions like, "why would/wouldn't a baby want to be born into your household?" and "What do/don't you trust about your spouse?" Then I waited. And waited.

And the group finally October. (And the 'other participants' turned out to be just one other girl.) I wont lie...I did learn a little from the 4 out of 12 sessions we actually had. I learned some new things about fertility foods and stress coping mechanisms....nothing really original or unique...the same info available after a little Bing-ing.

What I also learned is that just because someone labels their self as a professional doesn't make it so. The sessions, which Holly was chronically late and disorganized for, took place over the phone - through a crappy conference call service. There was some kind of time lag, and we were all constantly talking over each other. She advised us she was going to record the sessions and make them available to us on her website...the first 10 minutes of each session was spent with the other girl in the group and I chatting while Holly yelled at her dog...her child...or her husband, while trying to figure out how to start the recording. The sessions were varied in topic, but would always end up focusing on Holly and her own struggles with infertility.

I figured our group was going to crash and burn after our "Bitch Session." This was a session where we were encouraged to get it all out...all of the anger and frustration pent up over our infertility. She told us that during her previous group's session, she had women screaming and cussing, so we should feel free to do the same. What she didn't take into consideration is that not all women are comfortable doing that with virtual strangers. Not to mention the fact that the other girl and I have both been dealing with this for a looong time, so we're kind of past the 'fuck the world' stage. We both aired our grievances without was almost comical the way Holly kept asking, "is that it?"

After that, her communication turned to crap. She stopped returning emails. She stopped returning Facebook messages. After a couple of months, she finally responded to a Facebook post with "I thought you were ignoring me. You never replied to my emails." was SHE who never replied to MY emails. And I haven't heard from her since.

It's become clear to me that the reason she dropped us is because she decided to pursue a different coaching career path. Her website and Facebook pages have changed to reflect a PCOS-diet themed group; no longer the mind-body infertility connection. I guess she realized she was full of shit on that subject; and decided to go with a topic that has more Bing hits and can provide her with a plethora of material. (Just be sure to cite your sources, don't want to get caught up in a Copyright lawsuit!)

I totally get that we were just a part of a test group for her to bounce around ideas and see what works...but she should have just said that from the beginning. And, she certainly should have finished what she started! If you promise 12 weeks, you should deliver 12 weeks. Period.

Part of the reason I'm so (beyond) pissed off about this is that, as an infertile woman herself, she knows firsthand the pain and frustration of dealing with veritable snake-oil salesmen that we infertile gals do...we'll spend anything - try anything - for just a chance that it will work. She knows that, and she took advantage of that.

The one good thing to come out of this "group," at least for me, was meeting the other girl in the group. Our infertility stories are quite similar, and we became fast friends. It's nice to have an ally that really *gets* what I'm going through.

Ladies, as part of an ever-growing community of over-looked and under-treated infertility patients, it's important that we look out for each other. Be careful who you trust with your personal information...and keep your eye out for snake-oil salesmen, or saleswomen.