L.A. mom and social worker Emily Feit knows the struggles and heartbreaks of infertility first hand. Her new heartwarming book, “Before We Held You in Our Arms,” is inspired by that difficult journey. A portion of the proceeds from the book will benefit Feit 4 Kidz, a loan fund that has given out more than $4.5 million dollars for fertility treatment.
Please tell us why you wanted to write “Before We Held You in Our Arms.”
I’d say there are a couple of reasons why. To begin, I have always loved writing ever since I was a child. In the early summer of 2022, I had just finished post-graduate training in Fertility Counseling for licensed mental health professionals. As a licensed clinical social worker, I had ended my course with a wealth of clinical information and inspiration, and did not know the next direction to take. I contemplated opening up a private practice focusing on reproductive health, but I decided that I could blend my own personal experience with my clinical knowledge in an impactful way through writing. I felt that I could share my message of resilience and love to both children and adults in a broader way through words and illustrations. With that being said, I found that there was a lack of children’s books addressing the emotional aspects of infertility. I felt that there needed to be an “opener” to the conversation about the feelings that the parent/(s) experienced during their fertility journey.
Can you share your personal journey with infertility and the feelings and emotions that you experienced?
My journey was arduous. It was wrought with a lot of emotional pain, disappointment, envy and sadness. Many words come to mind when I reflect back on my personal journey. While my journey lasted nearly three years to have our twins, including two IUIs, seven IVFs, two miscarriages and more medication and shots than I care to recount, and another two IVFs and a surrogacy journey to have my third son, I would do it all over again to have the family that I have. I may not remember exactly the timeline or all the procedures I may have forgotten to list, but I can remember the emotions I felt, the moods I experienced and the feelings that often felt dark, daunting and psychologically heavy.
What would you like others to know about this experience? What insight would you like to share with others?
When my husband and I went through our journey, I felt so alone. I felt like no one understood what I was going through. It was so isolating. I felt desperate, depressed and full of sorrow. In part, I did not reach out to many others because I felt shame and that I had something to hide. What I know now is that all those powerful feelings I felt were normal and it was okay to be experiencing them. Actually, now there is a whole subset of psychology called “Reproductive Psychology,” which focuses on the social, emotional, behavioral and inter/intrapersonal effects of infertility. There’s help and further understanding now! It feels good to be validated and to see clinical growth as it relates to infertility, pregnancy, birth, etc.
Tell us about your foundation, Feit 4 Kidz. When did you start it and what is your mission behind it?
Feit 4 KidZ – which is an interest free loan program in conjunction with the Jewish Free Loan Association (but is non-denominational!) was the brainchild of my husband, Alan. He made a promise the night before our last embryo transfer (It was Nov. 10, 2011 when he made this promise) that he would personally donate the amount of money we spent on IVF treatments to those in need. We searched for partner organizations, and when we met with JFLA, their instantaneous response was “Yes!” So, since 2013, we have been offering interest-free loans to couples or individuals in Southern California who need financial assistance with costly infertility procedures. Our mission is to help those that want to become parents, to become them! Simple as that.
How has parenthood changed you personally?
One of the most significant changes that parenthood has offered me is my ability to admit when I have made mistakes, because I make them quite often. I think it’s important to take the time to repair when I have parented in a way that I don’t feel good about. Whether or not it may be something I said to one of my kids, or a punishment that may have been too stringent, I am open to hearing from my children, reflecting on their feedback and admitting when I have made a mistake. Before parenthood, it was more difficult for me to admit when I messed up, but now, I see the value in it.
How old are your kids? What does a typical day look like for you?
I have boy/girl twins who are 11 and in 6th grade, and I have a son who is 8 and in 2nd grade. Thankfully, right now they’re all at the same school. My typical day starts before the sun rises to get everything in order before they get up for school. After school, I feel like an uber driver shuttling them between dance, martial arts and after school sports practices! The day doesn’t end until close to 9 after homework and reading are done.
Tell us about your career as a social worker. Are you still practicing?
I received my MSW in 2004 from Yeshiva University in New York City, and I began working as a geriatric social worker right after graduation. I am licensed as an LCSW in the state of California. I have always focused on geriatrics; it’s my speciality and passion! Since getting my Master’s, I have worked in various healthcare settings, mostly the skilled nursing facility arena. I have a fondness for geriatrics — and I do continue to do clinical consulting in healthcare settings but very part time. I am now focusing my efforts on reproductive health and may even write a second book sometime soon.
Best life advice you received growing up?
My best life advice was this — Don’t brag about yourself. Let others brag about you. That’s what my grandmother always told her kids and, in turn, my parents drilled this into our heads. I do the same with my kids — they know the phrase by heart, too. I believe in being humble, being modest and never bragging.
Best parenting advice that you use yourself and you would like to share with all parents.
There is a lot of value in repairing, admitting that you’re human and you screw up, and learning from your children. I will tell my kids: “I make mistakes. I messed up.” It’s important that our kids see us as imperfect, too. Often times, they are the ones who teach us. There is a lot of wisdom in their little brains.
When not working, where will we find you?
Working out. Or on my Peloton. It’s my therapy!
What are some of your favorite spots and activities in and around LA to enjoy as a family?
Some of our favorite spots around L.A. to enjoy as a family are hiking, going to the beach and walking around Malibu. We are a huge RAMS family, so you’ll find us at SoFi when they play.