Caitlin Nelson's frustration peaked as her physician's advice bounced around the exam room: Nelson and her husband should look into donor eggs or adoption. For the 35-year-old Austin resident, the moment catalyzed Nelson to tackle infertility head on.
"It was hard," Nelson said in an interview. She and her husband miscarried and tried in vitro fertilization, IVF, four times before having a successful pregnancy.
According to the international journal Fertility and Sterility, one in six couples are affected by infertility. Despite the commonness of infertility, some say there is a stigma around talking about it. Families often have a hard time finding useful resources and a supportive community.
As Nelson researched her options, she consulted her coworker Emily Ellis, with whom she had a close relationship. Ellis, a 34-year-old Maryland resident, said that she had similarly found the process challenging.
"Should we just build something?" Nelson asked Ellis. In May, 2018, the two began to write a business plan for an app.
Two years later in November 2020, they launched Posy Fertility. The app contains infertility resources, community discussion boards and a scheduling component to keep track of ovulation, medication and more.
Nelson and Ellis have sought to do the research for app users by partnering with fertility experts like Fertility Within Reach, a nonprofit dedicated to improving access to fertility treatment and preservation.
"There needs to be resources that empower people to get the information that can help them ask the right questions of their doctors and nurses," said Davina Fankhauser, executive director of Fertility Within Reach.
Misty Reed, owner of Austin Acupuncture Studio, has used traditional Chinese medicine to help Austin families with fertility for over a decade.
She found that some people found shame in discussing infertility. The shame dissipates when families, and women in particular, discover that other people around them struggle with the same issue, she said.
"It's so sad. It's all compounding the issue of not enough communication," Reed added.
Some see slow improvement in the openness of discussing fertility. Dr. Nicole Noyes, system chief for reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Northwell Health in New York, said the stigma has faded during her almost 30 years of practice. However, she often sees her patients turn to the Internet to help inform their decisions and keep track of their ovulation cycle.
Emily Ellis and Caitlin Nelson
"Women are incredibly resourceful," Noyes added.
Nelson and Ellis now have toddlers, meaning they juggled childcare amid a pandemic and their current jobs while launching the app.
The pair's successful pregnancies further motivated them to ensure families experiencing problems with their fertility have access to the resources they need.
"The app launch has been a huge creative relief for me in one of the most challenging years of my life," Nelson said. "I'm excited to bridge the communication gap and remove the stigma around talking about infertility."
As summer temperatures continue to increase, so does Austin's "Party Island"—a hundreds-strong army of kayakers and paddle boarders who gather each weekend in the middle of Lady Bird Lake.
Born from the pandemic, the swarm of paddleboarding partiers has continued to grow each summer and can be seen from the nearby Lamar Boulevard Bridge. And while "Party Island" certainly lives up to one half of its name, it's not actually an island at all: instead, it's located at a shallow sandbar near Lou Neff Point.
With beers, burgers from portable grills and even DJ turntables in hand, more friends and strangers continue to beat the heat in new ways at the distinct Austin hangout.
Video by Steven Joyner
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If you are a committed, grunge-wearing resident of the Pacific Northwest, it is easy–almost automatic–to look at Texas as an extraordinarily dry, hot and culturally oppressive place that is better to avoid, especially in the summer. Our two granddaughters live with their parents in Portland.
Recently we decided to take the older girl, who is 15, to Dallas. Setting aside the summer heat, a Portlander can adjust to the vibes of Austin without effort. So let’s take Texas with all of its excesses straight up. Dallas, here we come.
Our 15-year-old granddaughter and her sister, 12, have spent summer weeks with us, usually separately so that we could better get to know each individually. In visits focused on Austin and Port Aransas, the girls seemed to be developing an affection for Texas.
Houston and Dallas are two great American cities, the 4th and 9th largest, each loaded with cultural treasures, each standing in glittering and starchy contrast to Austin’s more louche, T-shirts and shorts ways.
Three hours up I-35, Dallas loomed before us as a set of gray skyscrapers in a filmy haze, accessed only through a concrete mixmaster of freeways, ramps and exits. I drove with false confidence. Be calm, I said to myself, it will all end in 10 minutes under the hotel entrance canopy. And it did.
The pool at the Crescent Court Hotel in Dallas. (Crescent Court Hotel)
We stayed three nights at the Crescent Court Hotel ($622 a night for two queens), a high-end hotel in Uptown, patronized by women in white blazers, business people in suits, and tall, lean professional athletes, their shiny Escalades and Corvettes darting in and out, and other celebrities like Bill Barr, the former attorney general who shoe-horned his ample self into a Toyota.
Each morning as I walked to Whole Foods for a cappuccino, a fellow identified by a bellman as Billy the Oilman arrived in his Rolls Royce Phantom. Where does he park? “Wherever he wants to. He likes the Starbucks here.”
We garaged our more modest set of wheels for the visit. We were chauffeured for tips by Matt Cooney and Alfonza “The Rev” Scott in the hotel’s black Audi sedan. They drove us to museums, restaurants and past the enclaves of the rich and famous. In Highland Park, The Rev pointed out the homes of the Dallas Cowboys' Jerry Jones and Troy Aikman along with the family compound of the Hunts, oil and gas tycoons.
The Dallas Museum of Art’s “Cartier and Islam” exhibit (until Sept. 18) attracted an older crowd; the nearby Perot Museum of Nature and Science was a powerful whirlpool of kids’ groups ricocheting from the Tyrannosaurus Rex to the oil fracking exhibit. Watch your shins.
A Geogia O'Keeffe oil painting called "Ranchos Church, New Mexico" at the Amon Carter Museum of Modern Art. (Rich Oppel)
For us, the best museum was the Amon Carter Museum of Modern Art in Fort Worth, a 50-minute, madcap drive away via a 75 mph toll lane along I-30. Don’t try it during rush hour. The Carter has an exquisite collection of Remington paintings and sculptures and an excellent array of 19th and 20th-century paintings as well. Pick one museum? The Amon Carter. Peaceful, beautiful, uncrowded, free admission and small enough to manage in two hours.
The Fort Worth Stockyards, a place of history (with a dab of schmaltz), fun and good shopping, filled one of our mornings. The 98 acres brand the city as Cowboy Town, with a rodeo and a twice-daily (11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.) cattle drive. We shopped for boots, drank coffee and watched the “herd” of 18 longhorns. So languid was their progress that if this were a real market drive the beef would have been very tough and leathery before it hit the steakhouse dinner plate.
The cattle drive at the Fort Worth Stockyards. (Rich Oppel)
But we could identify: the temperature was 97. “I saw a dog chasing a cat today,” said the emcee, deploying a very old joke. “It was so hot that both were walking.”
With limited time, we chose three very different restaurants:
- Nobu, in the Crescent Court Hotel; Jia, a modern Chinese restaurant in Highland Park; and Joe T. Garcia’s in Fort Worth. Nobu’s exotic Japanese menu set us back $480, with tip, for four (we had a guest), but it was worth it.
- Jia was an ordinary suburban strip mall restaurant, but with good food and a reasonable tab of $110 for four.
- Joe T.’s is an 85-year-old Fort Worth institution (think Matt’s El Rancho but larger), a fine Mexican restaurant where a meal with two drinks was $115.
Sushi at high-end restaurant Nobu. (Crescent Hotel)
It was all a splurge for a grandchild’s visit. Now we will get back to our ordinary road trips of Hampton Inns, where a room rate is closer to the Crescent Court’s overnight parking rate of $52. And to corner cafes in small towns.
Did Dallas change our 15-year-old’s view of Texas? “Yes. I think it’s a lot cooler than I did. The fashion, the food.” So, not only Austin is cool. Take Texas as a whole. It’s a big, complex, diverse and wonderful state.