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How I Ended Up in the Back of a Stretch Limo

I was standing on the street corner, trying to juggle my cell phone, purse, and shopping bag when a stretch limousine stopped beside me at a traffic light.  The back window rolled down and I shit you not, Brad Pitt stuck his head out the window and said, “Mel.”

I know.

So I looked around as if there was someone else nearby and he laughed and said, “Hey Stirrup Queen, hop in.”

And even though my mother is going to kill me for getting in a car with a stranger, I got into Brad Pitt’s stretch limo.  My heart was pounding so quickly that I couldn’t even hear what he was saying, something about finding the site, and IVF, and recognizing me from the BlogHer video.  It was the most surreal moment I’ve had in my life.

Okay, that didn’t actually happen.

But I did end up in the back of a stretch limo this evening.

A few months ago, right before BlogHer, I was contacted by this very cool documentary maker who wanted to pick my brain about a four part television program she wanted to make for PBS examining the health issues for women from birth (really the teen years) to death (more like your 80s).  And I absolutely loved her and wanted to be part of this project so badly.  Except it was in Chicago.  And I live in DC.

A few weeks ago, she wrote and asked if I wanted her to fly me out to Chicago to be part of this series and while I wanted to very badly there were two issues: (1) I have been a class-A freak lately about traveling on my own and the thought scared the bejebus out of me and (2) I had a reading in Detroit the same weekend.  Alexandra (the producer) told me that she could film my part on Friday and I’d still be in Detroit on Saturday as planned.  So three legs of a plane ticket were purchased, bags were packed, and I flew to Chicago this morning.

Except reality was that I cried in the car as Josh drove me to the airport.  I cried going through security.  I cried when I got to the hotel for a very long time.  I left multiple phone messages of myself crying for Josh at work while he tried to draft a document.  I cried in the shower.  I cried whenever I encountered someone in the hotel who asked me how I was.  I cried.  Did you get that part that I cried a lot?  And I emailed my friend, Julie, while I cried and she tried to give me advice and I told her the only thing I had energy to do was cry and bother her.

At 3:30, I went downstairs and met up with a nice woman who was going to the same filming and we shared a car service.  She told me her name was Ariel and we chatted about kids and the PBS series and such and I finally thought to ask her last name and she said Gore.  I was in a freakin’ car service with Ariel Gore.  As in, the woman whose book is on my “read soon” list.  I would have peed myself, but I had used up all of my body fluids on tears earlier in the day.


Just me, hanging out with Ariel Gore.  Not crying.  With a lot of makeup on my face.

So I got to PBS and met others in the conference rooms where we were hanging out.  Kathleen Puls Andrade was there and Dina Bair.  And a fertility doctor and an oncofertility specialist and psychiatrist and lots of cool people.  Then I was brought downstairs to makeup where the makeup artist covered up the fact that I had been crying all afternoon and put more makeup on my face than has ever been on it before.  She was like a magician.

As I waited around to tape my segment, I snapped pictures.  Then they asked me to stop snapping pictures unless I could turn the sound off my camera.  And I couldn’t.  So I stopped snapping pictures.


Dina, Me, and Kathleen


The conference room door


Paula Zahn, standing on the set, talking to the audience


More of Paula before they asked me to put the camera away because it was noisy


Random cameraman

So it’s my turn to go onstage and I go up with a fertility doctor from Northwestern.  And Paula Zahn (oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the whole series is being hosted by Paula Zahn formally from CNN) asks fabulous questions and we answer them.  She wants to know about the emotional side of infertility and I TELL HER ABOUT OUR BLOGROLL AND ALL OF YOU AND IT’S GOING TO BE ON THE AIR, OUR BLOGROLL IS GOING TO BE ON THE AIR (that’s a hint to please not cut that part).

After my interview was done, I moved into the audience for the next segment on balancing work and home.  And I stayed until 8ish.  Afterward, people were going for drinks, but I hadn’t eaten because I was too busy crying in the afternoon and I also wanted to call Josh and talk to him so I said I was going back to the hotel.  Before I left, I took some pictures with Paula and the producer, Alexandra, who was the whole reason I wanted to be involved in this project in the first place because she is amazingly brilliant.


Oh look, Paula got herself a brand-new olive-skinned child.  Oh wait…no…that’s me.  I’m 35 years old and she can rest her cheek on the top of my head.


Just me and Paula.  Paula Zahn is so warm and clever and funny and immediately puts you at ease.


The incredibly brilliant Alexandra

After I said goodbye, I went outside to meet the car service and the driver, Tosin, told me that we had to drive back in an enormous white stretch limo because of a mix-up with the other car.  So instead of a normal sedan, I got into a stretch limo with full bar–the kind with the wrap around seat that people have sex on in the movies.  And I totally cracked up because honestly, my life is about sitting on the floor outside ballet class and baking brownies and playing Legos.  But here I was, miles from home, in downtown Chicago in a white stretch limo wearing (and my mother will kill me for this one) my grey LL Bean pull over fleece jacket over my nice clothes because I didn’t have the strength to shlep my black dress coat with me to Chicago.

I took out the camera to take a few pictures for the Wolvog.  I couldn’t believe I was in a limo and he wasn’t there with me to enjoy it.  Tosin calls back, “was that a flash?  Are you taking pictures, Melissa Ford?”

And I explained that I wasn’t going to be embarrassed about it.  I was taking pictures.  I wanted the Wolvog to see it and to prove that I had been in a stretch limo that night.  Because literally, I’m 35 years old and I’ve never been in one.  I had an opportunity once at a funeral, but I turned it down because I didn’t want my first time to be tied to something sad.  And I didn’t want one for our wedding, didn’t want one for prom.  But I couldn’t stop laughing that I was in Chicago, coming back to the hotel from a television filming, in a stretch limousine.  This just wasn’t my life.  But what a great story for popping my limousine cherry.

Tosin told me to hand him the camera and he pulled over by the hotel.  And he took these:


Check out the stocked bar…


I went looking for some food and finally gave up because all of the nearby restaurants were closed.  Tosin must have gone into the hotel and set this up, but when I stepped into the lobby, the men at the desk all whistled and called out, “That’s Melissa Ford!  I can’t believe it’s Melissa Ford.”

A nice ending to a very surreal night.

Tomorrow, I fly to Detroit, to my best friend and a reading.  I was going to say no to this opportunity in Chicago because I was so terrified to travel.  I didn’t want to be alone so far away from home.  And I’m glad that I did this, regardless of how hard it was emotionally to come here.  Because it really was a very cool day.  Though I’m glad my real life is ballet classes, brownie-baking, and Legos because my face could not handle makeup like that all the time.

When I have more information about air-dates and video clips, I’ll put them up.


1 Kristin (kekis) { 11.14.09 at 12:25 am }

AWESOME!!! Granted, I liked the Brad Pitt start, but the Mel ending was much better. Thanks for doing it all on your own and representing us all – again.

2 Quiet Dreams { 11.14.09 at 12:32 am }

Wow! YAY for you! I can’t wait to see the piece. You are such a wonderful person to be the face of our community. Thank you thank you thank you.

3 Erin { 11.14.09 at 12:34 am }

Mel.. you really are an a grade sweetie and i love the fact that crying aside you enjoyed yourself. Go you!

4 Flying Monkeys { 11.14.09 at 12:38 am }

What a great story! Personally I think it’s better without Brad Pitt. I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out. Did you take advantage of the stocked bar?

5 Chelle { 11.14.09 at 12:51 am }

You are so stinking cute. I loved this post for so many reasons, the first being that you showed you are human by crying so much. I chuckled because it sounded so much like what I would do. I loved that you instantly sucked me into this post with your Brad Pitt story (you almost had me going!). But mostly, I love what you are doing for the ALI community. You are so awesome, and I am glad that you have allowed me to be a part of this community. Not only that, but I am grateful to you for bringing us all together. You deserve to ride in a stretch limo to ballet classes with your brownies stocked in the mini bar while you play legos on the floor.

6 claire { 11.14.09 at 12:55 am }

You were in Chicago! All on your lonesome! I totally would have come over and brought you a cup of tea and some cookies – or found you a restaurant that was open!
You look great! You did great! Can’t wait to see you on tv! When is it going to be on?
Safe trip to Detroit and home again home again jiggety jig!

7 M { 11.14.09 at 1:14 am }

You are all kinds of awesomeness Mel… x

8 Kate { 11.14.09 at 1:30 am }

OMG how exciting! I love the celebrity sighting the guys at the hotel did with you 🙂 YAY Please keep us posted!

9 Kristin { 11.14.09 at 1:50 am }

What an incredibly fabulous day. It couldn’t have happened to a better person.

10 luna { 11.14.09 at 2:32 am }

what an awesome story! such an exciting day. I love the pix the driver took of you for the wolvog! priceless.

11 WiseGuy { 11.14.09 at 5:03 am }

🙂 I almost wanted to see you sitting with Brad and Angelina….but them will do too!

Have a good time ahead!

12 Vee { 11.14.09 at 5:50 am }

Love the story! I think Ms Melissa Ford could get used to the limo lifestyle 😉

13 BeyondInfertility { 11.14.09 at 6:24 am }

What an amazing experience!!!

14 Angie { 11.14.09 at 6:31 am }

What an awesome post! I love when facing our fears ends with something cool and unexpected. Plus, I think it is amazing what you are doing to talk about us.

15 Bea { 11.14.09 at 7:14 am }


That’s all I can think to say.


16 Hope in Briarrose { 11.14.09 at 7:42 am }

Wow, that sounds really awesome to be a part of! Can you let us know when it will air?

I am sure you know this already, but I was in OB the other day reading Conceive Magazine and lo and behold there was your book featured on a page of IF books. I said out loud “Oh Wow, that’s Mel!”

17 Kymberli { 11.14.09 at 7:50 am }

Now I can answer “Yes” when someone asks if I know someone famous. 🙂 You rock. I also share your fear of travel. I can’t even get on a plane WITH support, much less by myself.

Did I mention that you rock?

18 LJ { 11.14.09 at 7:52 am }

That is so badass. You, Fordy, are bad freaking ass. I so wish I had followed through on my threat to come with you.

19 LJ { 11.14.09 at 7:55 am }

BTW – you look fanTASTIC

20 Orodemniades { 11.14.09 at 8:11 am }

Holy moly! Ariel Gore! Stretch limo! BLOGROLL ON TV!!!!

I bet you never imagined this when you created SQ!

And really, you do look fabulous. Can I be jealous of your hair for a few minutes? Cool.

21 Amy { 11.14.09 at 8:16 am }

How exciting! I can’t wait to see it. I’m curious which doctor from Northwestern. That’s my clinic.

22 Meghan { 11.14.09 at 8:25 am }

Wow. Great story. Brad Pitt would have been nice but I like stories of you kicking ass much better

23 Erin { 11.14.09 at 8:29 am }

Awesome story, and the documentary sounds great!

And I totally would have believed the Brad Pitt part.

24 JC { 11.14.09 at 8:31 am }

Holy crap!!! That’s freaking awesome! You’re amazing and like the rest I love your hair and you look fabulous!

25 Mrs. Farmer { 11.14.09 at 8:48 am }

How awesome!! That is such a great oppourtunity!!! Thank you so much for doing that!! We are soo proud of you!! And you looked beautiful!! As always!

26 tash { 11.14.09 at 8:53 am }

You’re amazing, Mel. You deserve a limo ride anytime for what you do for this community.

don’t you wish we all had make-up artists for those bad mornings?

27 Queenie { 11.14.09 at 8:54 am }

I have sometimes found that by forcing myself to do the things that I really dread doing, I have had some of my best moments. I’m so glad you didn’t let fear rule you, and that you put yourself out there. I hope this amazing experience helps you struggle less with your trips in the future. I am so excited for you about this appearance–it sounds like an amazing series!

28 a { 11.14.09 at 8:56 am }

Glad you got a cool limo driver!

Sounds like a great program – can’t wait to see it.

Hope Detroit is just as wonderful!

29 Kim { 11.14.09 at 9:18 am }

Personally, I think the version without Brad Pitt is infinitely more awesome.

30 Barb { 11.14.09 at 9:50 am }

YAY Melissa! Great job doin’ your thang! It doesn’t matter what we are afraid of, it only matters how we handle it and seize opportunities. And I’d say you did a great job of seizing right there! 😉 Sounds awesome. I can’t wait to see it. Hub is always asking which person I’m talking about and he knows you by “The Stirrup Queen Lady” and “The One Whose Book I Have.” It would be really fun for him to know you as “The One on TV.” haha.

31 mrs spock { 11.14.09 at 9:51 am }

Ooooo…I hope you will let us all know when we can see this! How awesome- OK- except for the crying part. Hopefully this was not overall too traumatic?

32 Gil { 11.14.09 at 9:54 am }

OMG! Fantastic Mel! I’m so thrilled for you. While the Brad Pitt bit would have been cool, I think it’s infinitely cooler that you got to do all this and put the word out there. Bless you sweetie! No more tears now; you done good girl! Can’t wait to hear when this will air!

33 m. { 11.14.09 at 10:29 am }

Mel, so, so proud of you for getting on that plane by yourself. What a great day. And thanks so much for the pics! Hoping you were exhausted by the trip home and woke up just as the plane was pulling back into your final destination.

I love people like Tosin.

34 Lavender Luz { 11.14.09 at 11:01 am }

You look so happy in the photos.

I know this was a stretch for you (haha). But you did it and I’m so proud of you. You are such an amazing representative for our community. You are the face of us.


35 Pie { 11.14.09 at 1:07 pm }

I can’t wait to see you on TV! Sounds like a great project, I’m glad you got the courage to go. And to ride inteh white stretch, so great! Safe travels home!

36 Calliope { 11.14.09 at 1:13 pm }

sooooooooooo cool!!!!!!
Good lawd, the things you do!
you are just the bee’s knees m’dear.

37 mybumpyjourney { 11.14.09 at 1:17 pm }

Okay- so my first thought was “So they did have fertility treatments!!” LOL! You are such a rock star in my eyes that it is totally plausible that Brad Pitt would pull over for you. 🙂
I am glad you went up there and had a good time. Thank you for being our voice and having the courage to go up there by yourself. I don’t know if we (the ALI community) ever do enough to thank you for doing all you do for us.

38 amy { 11.14.09 at 1:18 pm }

you are just always so cool! I love this! xoxoxo

39 Minta { 11.14.09 at 1:23 pm }

Way, too, cool! What an awesome way to pop your limo cherry. Also, how tall is Paula Zahn? assuming you’re my height (i.e. soopah short) she’d still have to be over six feet to tower over you like that!

40 Another Dreamer { 11.14.09 at 2:09 pm }

AWESOMENESS!!! I can not wait to watch it!

What a cool experience for you too!

41 Opposite of oops { 11.14.09 at 2:19 pm }

I would seriously love for you to get Brad Pitt in a limo so you could …. um, yes, that’s right, ask him lots of questions about his family building journey. And whatnot.

Great story! 🙂

42 IF Crossroads { 11.14.09 at 2:21 pm }

I’m not 100% sure why, but this post made me cry … maybe it’s because I’m a stinkin’ weirdo. Anyway, may I just say that you looked fabulous in those photos. I’m so jealous that you were able to meet Paula Zahn because I love her. And if anyone could represent the IF community on a documentary it’s you, so I CANNOT wait to see it!

43 T { 11.14.09 at 3:11 pm }

OMG – IF Crossroads – I’m crying too. You’re the best Mel – I’m so glad you had this great experience! Hope you’re having fun with your best friend and I so wish you come to Boston or environs to read.

44 monica lemoine { 11.14.09 at 3:28 pm }

WOW – this is awesome, Melissa!

45 Kate (Bee In The Bonnet) { 11.14.09 at 3:39 pm }


I SO KNEW you were an actual, real-life, super-cool, almost-hero kind of person! That is awesome.

Better than that, *you* get to be on the air, speaking from the heart of infertility for all of us on the front lines who are just little, non-famous boring types of people. That is so. frickin’. cool! I am so glad you decided to take the extra hop to Chicago to be on that program in spite of your commitment in Detroit.

And to top it off, you got to ride in a stretch limo! You are lucky! So cool! You brushed shoulders with some famous folks, but somehow I’m far more excited about the fact that you got to ride in a limo!

That is one great limo-cherry-pop story…

(Oh, and I know how you feel about the hesitancy to travel right now. I’m waffling on whether I really want to take a cross-country flight next week, even though it’s a trip to balmy San Diego, with my husband, staying in a great hotel, AND getting to visit one of my best bloggy friends who I’ve never met before, and who I’ve been waiting for the excuse to fly cross-country to meet for a long damn time AND this trip has been planned for almost a year now… And I’m still wondering whether or not this is something I really should do. I mean, I will do it, because I wouldn’t miss it for anything, but I’m still having those nagging thoughts about really not wanting to get on a plane right now. I’m proud of you for doing that and for doing it by yourself. Brave, you are.)

46 Jen { 11.14.09 at 6:24 pm }

Sweeeeet action!

47 Jendeis { 11.14.09 at 6:49 pm }

I am so proud of you, Mel, for battling your fears and doing a great job representing our peeps. You look mahvahlous!

48 Karen { 11.14.09 at 10:00 pm }

I think the real story is better than the Brad Pitt story. 😉

49 loribeth { 11.14.09 at 10:33 pm }

I thought it was totally logical that Brad Pitt would know who you were. After all, as My Bumpy Journey points out above, how else did they get those twins?? Plus, of course, you are totally awesome, why wouldn’t he know you?? : )

Anyway, great story! So glad you took the opportunity, AND wound up having such a great time!

And I’m totally jealous about the limo. I’m pushing 50 & I’ve never been in one either. Even if we could have afforded one (which nobody in those days could), I don’t think there was a limo within at least 50 miles of where I went to high school (although my friend’s mom had an awesome 1976 Lincoln Continental that we used to get to ride in). We were too broke for the wedding. The funeral home offered to send us a limo for Katie’s funeral, but it was such a small funeral, I just didn’t think it was necessary.

50 B { 11.15.09 at 6:54 am }

That is just so very cool. Sometimes great things happen when you are brave. (Sometimes you just have to be brave and that’s all there is to it). But this time…… bravery paid off. Hoorah! That is how it should be.

3 cheers for you.


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