After unsuccessfully attempting to conceive a child on their own for two years, Ploehs and her husband John began seeking medical assistance in their quest to become parents. As a result, Ploehs began designing a line of greeting cards specifically aimed toward other women who are also experiencing infertility issues. A full range of Ploehs’ cards can be found at MiCA 12/v, where Ploehs works part time, as well as at the Contemporary Arts Center, RedTree Art Gallery and Coffee Shop in Oakley and online at shopmadeincincinnati.com and aplovesdesign.com. We recently met for lunch at Cheapside to chat.
CityBeat: So, tell me about your line of cards that are for women who are experiencing infertility.
Andi Ploehs: Last year was really the first full year we started fertility treatments. From January until October we had three miscarriages, so I was quite a mess. I’m still a little bit of a mess. But our third one was the worst, which was in October, because we had to terminate that ourselves because the baby was just too high in my uterus. I mean, TMI, but it was too high, and the more and more he was going to grow, there was a good chance that he would rupture and cause me to bleed and I could possibly die, so we had to decide: Do we keep going, cause I was fine, or do we terminate the pregnancy? So we decided to terminate it but I was rushed to the hospital because I couldn’t stop bleeding one night and they were like, “You need to decide what to do,” so that was the worst one. People were telling me things I did not want to hear, so that’s why I started the line and when I first started talking about it, because no one talks about it and it really bugs me that no one talks about it. But the more I would speak out about it, I started to learn that there are people everywhere who go through infertility. I mean, one in four women have had miscarriages, but no one talks about it.
CB: Who do you think the cards benefit more: you or the people who receive them? It sounds cathartic.
AP: I’m sure both. I mean it definitely helps me — at least in the beginning. I’ve been told that women going through the experience, it helps them. It probably helps me more than it helps them. I’m sure it does. My own therapy.
CB: Where do get inspiration for your designs? The cards are quite whimsical.
AP: A lot of them are just sayings that I hear people talk about, but I do a lot of walking and I think my environment — especially living down here — helps a lot. They’re simple sketches, there’s nothing that’s a lot of detail with my work. Just living in the city; I love living in the city.
CB: Why did you choose Cheapside for lunch?
AP: Breakfast is (me and my husband’s) favorite thing and living close to OTR, it’s almost impossible to find a breakfast spot. I mean you have Tucker’s, which I do love, but we wanted to find somewhere where we didn’t have to wait in line for two hours to get a breakfast sandwich. It’s a 15-minute walk for us, if that, and we can get in, we can get out and it’s still neighborhood folks, which we love. And it’s simple food, but it’s good food.
CB: This year you were one of 20 local artists chosen to design a poster for the Flying Pig Marathon. How did you get that gig?
AP: I was in CO.STARTERS a couple of years ago through ArtWorks and they just emailed me one day and said that there’s this contest going on. I don’t know how many they initially started with — maybe 50 artists or something like that? And they wanted to see a portfolio, which ArtWorks put together for the Flying Pig board or something like that, and I became one of the 20 finalists. In their brief they said they wanted something diverse — it didn’t necessarily have to have a pig in it, and I knew I didn’t want a pig in my design, but what I did had elements of pigs, like it had the tail and the snout and wings. I did not win, unfortunately, but I know who won and I’m very happy for her because she is an awesome artist. I mean it does suck that I lost, I’m not gonna lie, but (my design) is still down there on The Banks, so that’s cool.
CB: Besides your cards, what words of wisdom would you give women who are currently experiencing infertility?
AP: Oh, Jeezil. Get off the internet and stop Googling things because it will drive you insane. If you have a support group, I would join one. At my clinic we have a little private page and they meet up sometimes. I haven’t gone to the meetings, but I’m online. Especially with our third loss, they were very helpful because most of the women on there have had twice as many losses as me; it’s just crazy. It helps me to talk about it. I was raised to express those feelings. Don’t be ashamed because there is really nothing wrong with you, but it is hard and every day is a struggle. I mean Mother’s Day was super hard. Try not to distance yourself from people who are pregnant. I have been guilty of that. Sometimes it’s impossible to go to baby showers, and it’s OK to not go if you just can’t go. And people won’t understand it, but that’s on them.
CB: What are things the rest of us should say and shouldn’t say to women experiencing infertility?
AP: Don’t tell someone, “It’s gonna happen.” That is the worst thing to say. I think it comes from a good place, but don’t say it. Or, “When you stop trying, that’s when it will happen.” I do think things happen when they’re supposed to, but I don’t want you telling me that. ©