Friday, September 23, 2011

This Too Shall Pass

I let my blog go into disrepair for some time and realized that after reading about abandoned blogs elsewhere, mine was quickly falling into that category. It was eery to come here and see the blank picture images where my child's and father's pictures used to be and not having the technical wherewithal or energy to do much about it. I've always thought of this as my 'infertility blog' and could never quite move beyond that, but quite frankly, I could still wax poetical for a lifetime on this very subject. I am still living it. As others who are not 'fertility challenged' are moving on to their 2nd child, I do not even have the luxury of forming the concept. Life is making that so. A life that is lovely and blessed, but challenging. So, in short, I have been absent not for lack of content, but for lack of emotional energy. People, I'm spent.

We can all pinpoint times in our lives when we have been put to the test, spread too thin, bent almost to the breaking point, and this is one of mine. But unlike other times in my life when this was so, now I have more resources to handle it, both internal and external.  It saves me from meeting that breaking point, but it doesn't necessarily make the ride significantly easier. Luckily, at this point, it is not the relationships in my life that suffer.  For that I am so, so, so grateful. It is purely time and finances and the endless clock that ticks counting down the last minutes of my Mother's life and what is left of my dwindling fertility up against a pocketbook that cannot keep up with the days and months that steal away possibilities. With all of this, it is becoming harder and harder to juggle expectations and priorities. I know Mr. S feels it, too.

We find respite where we can. In the few minutes at the end of the day and in our time with little G, who is just amazing beyond my comprehension. He is so smart and witty and the biggest bright light in our lives.  I know this would all be so much harder without him and I still can't believe my amazing fortune in the addition of him to my world.  I remember in the summer of 2009 driving to a job a town away, placing my hand on my quickly growing belly and crying in joy and disbelief that it was actually happening. He's almost 2 years old, and I still think that way. I am still in awe.  Anything can happen. The story is not over.  I hold onto that hope, just as I did two years ago and boy does it get me through.

I can tell you this much: I have been better, but I have been far worse (and lived to tell about it) and am certain that this too shall pass.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

On God's Plans

In the few times before I was pregnant with my son that I attempted to come out of the 'infertility closet', I was met with some startlingly harsh commentary, but there is one remark that, although spoken some four years ago, still rings crystal clear in my ears,

"Oh, well this is just God's way of preventing more of these kids we work with from being born."

This was two-fold disgusting. You see, I work in special education and to do so, you must see the innate value and beauty in every person, whether they are 'typically' developing or not. This person (who was a special education secretary) not only pompously assumed that she had a direct line into God's intentions and how those played out in my life, but she revealed her true colors as to what she thought of the very children her position served on a daily basis.

My response? Nothing. Silence. And then I walked away.

Quite frankly, I was too stunned to speak. I mean, I felt like it was the equivolent of someone just squatting down in the middle of the room and taking a leak. You just don't do that in public, you just don't say that to someone, so when it happens, you're just...stunned.

I wish I could walk back in time for that moment. I wish it, but then I wonder, what would I have done differently? Launched into an equally ignorant dialogue, arguing points that might have appealed to logic which the audience would have continued fully lacking? Or would my response have made her think a little harder before opening her mouth again to me, or to someone like me? Could the right words have saved someone else grief in the future?

Regardless of where your beliefs stand, whether you believe God has a hand in everything or whether you believe he/she does not exist, no one is all knowing. No one has a direct line into any organized plan (if there is one) this universe (or God) has, whether that's to spare the world the birth of more children who do not fit her version of the 'master race' (seriously, doesn't this thinking sound nazi-esque?) or to make sure that naughty tattoo yielding, margarita-drinking people such as myself do not reproduce.

So, if this was said to you, what would have been your response? Even with the 20/20 vision that comes from looking back in time, I'm still stumped...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Roller Coaster

After standing back and letting some time separate me and my myth submission blog entry, one thing became clear to me. I did not portay the full aspects of my pregnancy or even parenthood, most likely because in doing so, I might not have driven my points home in the way I intended. I wanted to illustrate to readers that my particular pregnancy experience did not happen after infertility but existed alongside it.  I wanted to let people know that in the aftermath of treatment and loss, my pregnancy and subsequent parenting were not all puppy dogs and kittens and ice cream cones. That neither of them made infertility disappear. But at the expense of possibily stealing some of the drama that might have helped these points along, I can assure you that if any point in time in my life has ever been filled with the wonder and merriment of puppy dogs and kittens and ice cream cones, this has been it.  Right where I am now.

That's not to say that I misled anyone. Everything I typed in that submission was real, but in the interest of persuasion, I made a few ommissions. 

That is, this very moment, despite all its disasters, has made me the happiest I have ever been.  The same was true for my pregnancy, in that despite all of the white-knuckling, heart-pounding moments I sat fearing the worst, the hope for the best still lived in me when I had thought it gone.  Of course, that time was punctuated with anxiety, but that left for long enough periods of time where all was right in the world, when my dream was within perfect reach. And I can still smile to myself when remembering those moments and a warmth comes over me, one that I may never get back, but the memories are plenty.

And today, its even more so. My world sometimes feels like its crumbling down around me. Mr. S is still battling whatever it is he has, my Mother is in extremely poor health and difficult to deal with, my job has been pink slipped, medical bills are mounting, a chance at #2 is slipping farther and farther away, I can't keep up with the pace of life, and yet, my little boy's face, his sweet smile is more than enough balm to heal this open sore. I can forget everything outside my door when he runs to me after work, yelling, "Mama mama mama!" 

If anything, my life now echoes prefectly what infertility often is for all of us: a roller coaster.  Yes, there are heartbreaking lows, but its finding a way to focus on the highs that will keep us afloat. And let me tell you, I may be getting a headache from trying to focus this hard, but its better than losing my place.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Bust an Infertility Myth Blog Challenge: Pregnancy and Parenthood Resolve Infertility? I Think Not…

*This blog entry is part of a public education campaign through RESOLVE to help celebrate National Infertility Awareness Week, held April 24-30 this year.  The 'Bust an Infertility Myth Blog Challenge' seeks to ask, "What is the biggest infertility myth and how has it effected your life or the life of your friends and family members?" The following is my answer:

Had you attended my baby shower, witnessing my round belly and mile-wide smile, surrounded by blue streamers, or had you been at the hospital when my son was born pink and screaming, I appeared as any expectant or new mother would have.  I talked about nursery patterns and breast pumps and pregnancy symptoms as if it were second nature, as if it were just something that happens for everyone, but I had a secret.  I knew it didn't happen for everyone, and I knew that well.  That belly of mine was hard-won.  After many years of trying to conceive and undergoing fertility treatment, I can thankfully say that my dream of becoming a mother has been realized as I am the parent of a beautiful toddler boy via IVF. Yes, from the outside looking in, my infertility appears fully resolved, doesn't it? I won the prize, my backyard is littered with toys and the family Christmas card is complete with a kid. But, I ask you to look more closely, for the fight for that prize has altered me in ways I will never be able to describe.

Infertility was never an isolated event in my life, I know that now.  It was with me all that time, well beyond the first positive pregnancy test, through my entire pregnancy.  It was with me when I sat shaking before every obstetrician's appointment, wondering if that heartbeat might prove elusive. It was with me contemplating how to return an already assembled crib or how to bring myself to put another needle into my abdomen if my hard-won dream suddenly slipped away again. It was with me as I pretended to complain about morning sickness, but secretly delighted in it, knowing it likely meant he might actually stay. And it is with me today knowing that my son may never have a sibling. 

Infertility is a thief for if you are lucky enough to finally be with child, it is with a trepidation that leaves you at first whispering your good news rather than shouting it from the rooftops as you might have done years before it trampled your heart, leaving the pregnancy journal empty for fear of jinxing your immense fortune.  As I walked around with my full belly, growing with life, I would find isolated moments when I would feel like a fraud, as if I had tricked the general public into thinking that I was like any other.  But I wasn't. And quite frankly, I still don't feel that I am.

You see, infertility taught me to expect the fall because after months and years of tests and doctors visits and hormones and needles and even after all that, "I'm sorry, you're not pregnant", and living in a medical existence as a patient and not just expecting the bottom to fall out, but actually seeing it happen time and time again, infertility has become an echo that has colored everything. 

I know intellectually that being infertile was never a reflection of who I am or what I deserve, but it still shook the core of how I feel about my body, my femininity, myself, beyond conception and pregnancy. When I was overdue with my son and eventually induced, I silently blamed this on my body being 'too stupid' to know what to do. When I struggled to breastfeed and after many, many lactation consultants eventually had to plead defeat and go the way of formula, it felt like another cruel blow made by infertility.  It was the failure of my body to do what should have been innate, what every other woman around me seemed to be doing with ease. And now, after almost a year-and-a-half after my son's birth, our savings have been depleted and I am faced with a small slice of time during which assisted reproduction will work. But because of money, I may not get the chance to add to my family again.  My choices are depleting with every day that passes.  I still resent the control it has over my life. Infertility never seems to leave my doorstep. 

Even participating in something as benign as a Mother's group, I look around and wonder, are you one of us? Have you been in the trenches I know so well? Do any of you know the sting of failure month-after-month? The burn of a one-inch needle in your flesh driven by your husband night-after-night? Do any of you still cringe inside when you hear pregnancy announcements, even after having your own child? My questions are often answered quickly as talk of having a second or a third is passed around haphazardly, and I know that someone even close to my shoes wouldn't discuss it in this way.  I still search for my IF sisters, knowing that at the end of the day, only they will not be driven away by my innermost thoughts, the wounds that still lay open.

But for all the bad it has given me, infertility has matched it with good. I know it seems unlikely with everything I mentioned above, but I have found surprising resources inside myself I otherwise would have never been aware of: resilience, persistence, empathy, sisterhood, gratitude.  A chance to know what I was capable of. A chance to stand beside others and fight.  A chance to experience a feeling beyond grateful, beyond blessed.  Infertility has literally changed the lens of how I see the world, for better, for worse. For both. And well beyond conception and parenthood.  Make no mistake.  Even after claiming my 'prize', infertility is something that will always be a part of who I am, in my heart, in every breath I take, and when I hold my child, no matter how far I 'appear' to walk away from it.

Want to get better educated on infertility?

Learn more about the basics of infertility here.
Learn more about National Infertility Awareness Week, April, 24-April 30, 2011 here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Well, Hello There, ICLW

Hello fair ICLWers and ALI bloggers,

This is literally the first time in two years I've participated in ICLW, mostly because (enter excuses) life has gotten the best of me. Life lately has included my ever-rambunctious toddler (my IVF babe) and Mr. S (who is in the hospital currently. Though stable, he has unexplained GI symptoms and severe weight loss that they can't figure out). We have quite a few other things on our plate, but these two are the highlights (um, one of them being a lowlight) most recently.

While my IF 'resume' can be seen on the sidebar down below, I'll give you a brief history. Mr. S and I tried for two years to conceive before seeking out medical advice when we were diagnosed with male factor infertility (low count, motility). After three more years of treatment, including clomid, 7 IUIs, and a miscarriage, we finally went the IVF/ICSI route and found ourselves immensely fortunate to have our son in November of 2009 (17 months).  We still have two frozen embryos, but time is running out.  We are now facing elevated FSH and have been told that if we want a #2, we better move quick, but in the wake of the financial ramifications of TTC #1 and now Mr. S' health issues, our family building future is uncertain.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

PETA's Tasteless Campaign Mocking IFers

Please read more at Hannah Wept, Sarah Laughed regarding PETA's tasteless campaign mocking National Infertility Awareness Week and IFers and please sign the petition (link is at the top of Keiko's post) expressing your outrage. In the meantime, this is a snippet of the very brief two cents I added to my petition:

"As someone who is an animal lover and has historically been supportive of your organization, I am outraged and disgusted by your current campaign. I have suffered with infertility for over seven years and am saddened that millions of Americans who are undergoing heartbreak in the midst of their efforts to build their family are being mocked. We already face public silencing and stigma and had no need to be kicked while already down. Unless you can publically apologize, I can no longer call myself a supporter."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

So Much for Anonymity...

Just a few months back, I was steadfast in my decision to not post any recent pictures of baby G for the world to see (or rather, toddler G!), but I guess my being hellbent on taking RESOLVE's pledge to not be silent about infertility REALLY conflicts with this goal.

Exhibit A:

I know. It's almost comical that we're on TV again. How did this happen? I mean, surely we're not anything unique or special in the world of infertility. We're shall I put this? Media whores, lol.

If you'll recall our Good Morning America appearance from last year, the same doctor who treated us was on that program as well. At that time, it was Good Morning America who initially contacted us as a result of Mr. S' blog and eventually they decided to include our doctor. This time around, it was our local news station on NBC who contacted our clinic regarding their 'shared risk' program and when they needed some patients to interview, my doctor contacted me as she knows we're certainly not camera-averse.  Haha.

Yeah, maybe it's not the most informative piece and quite frankly, it was inaccurate several times (for example, I did not purchase a package of 6 IVFs, but 3 fresh and 3 frozen, however I know they're simplifying it for the general public, so I'll stop splitting hairs), but damn if my little miracle guy wasn't an adorable little ham. 

And, oh my God, could I have said, 'ya know' more? I think I had an entire sentence composed of it. I'm sure speech and drama teachers everywhere cringed, leaving me to ask, "my God, in the hour of footage, why did they choose THAT moment?" (probably because I said 'ya know' constantly anyways)

In other news, FIF is still alive and well! (see below) Despite my intensive recruitment, however, it is limited now to a group of my real-life IF friends and not the expansive cohort of ladies from around the country I had originally hoped for, but nevertheless we are going to have TOO much fun. I'll be sure to post pictures of the ovary headband!

Also, I'm thinking of starting a peer-led support group in my county as one does not exist and I may beg, borrow and steal from more family members for #2. More on that to come!