Saturday, May 16, 2009

Opening the Doors: Coming out of the Infertility Closet

I've long dreamed of what my 'coming out' would look like. Coming out of the infertility closet, that is. I have always known it would happen sooner or later as I feel a real responsibility to the IF community and future couples who will face IF to share at least part of my story. I mean, it's ridiculous that IF is still such a taboo or rather now a sensationalized subject when 1 in 8 couples have REAL stories to share (that do not involve 8 offspring at once). But I've run into some obstacles in conceiving of such a plan.

First, how could I possibly convey the depth and breadth of the IF experience, the pain and the ups and downs to someone who has never stepped near it? How could my descriptions not sound over-dramatic and yet under-dramatic at the same time? Then there's the issue with how much to tell. Now that we will hopefully be welcoming our IVF/ICSI baby into the world this November, how much of this story belongs to him? Should I respect his privacy and allow him the choice to share the story of his conception? I wonder whether those who remain ignorant despite my best attempts will think of him first as a product of IVF and second as a child. So many variables to consider, and yet still I feel a driving force to throw open the closet doors.

While some of my closest friends and family members know of our IF, most of them do not. I can easily count those in the know on less than two hands. While in the process of treatment, I didn't think it would be very helpful to have any more noses poking where they didn't need to be and quite frankly I never trusted that ignorant comments wouldn't change my relationship with them. I only told those who I knew would respond with tactful and supportive comments or rather, those who I was close enough to know that a silly comment here and there would not destroy our relationship. Now that I'm not actively involved in treatment, I feel the day is nearing when more will hear about our struggles and the fact that we are not alone.

I'm still in the planning stages, but I've considered several different formats for the 'outing'. First, I have another personal blog (where I rarely write, my last entry was in January), that I know some of my friends and acquaintances do read from time to time. There is no way to go.ogle me and find it so I know that the only ones on it have been through invitation only. I've thought about a post briefly describing our journey (no exact treatment details, just length of time and alluding to an 'involved' journey) with links to a few informative Resolve articles, an anonymously written excerpt, and the infertility awareness project video that illustrates the experience much better than I ever could. On the other hand, I've also thought of doing the same only through email in order to 'contain' and have more control over who my viewing audience would be, but then that would defeat the purpose of disseminating information to the general public.

I once approached 'coming out' in an even more public way. You see, L.ifetime was recruiting couples undergoing IVF at my clinic for a documentary and I readily signed up for it. The purpose was to illustrate the 'real' story of infertility. I thought, hey if I'm going to come out, it might as well be on national TV, right? (ha, I'll take my 15 minutes any way you slice them!) I was fully prepared to have a camera follow me into my retrieval and transfer and through the aftermath of a possible BFN because I thought that if I knew I would fail in describing the experience to others, I thought that showing would be far more effective. Despite being in a series of lengthy talks with the documentary makers, they informed me that the project was on hold indefinitely, although personally I find it suspicious that they said this after I sent them my picture, ha!

So, yes I'm torn, but one day, when I feel the time is right, I'll come out. I'll come out for my infertile sisters and brothers who are still walking the path to parenthood, for those who have walked in the past and most importantly, for those who will find themselves on it in the future. I'm realizing very clearly one of the reasons why I was made to walk it myself and soon it'll be time to fulfill that.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Saving Sanity

I finally broke down and registered on B.aby c.enter. Having forgotten that I had registered this time last year, the system indicated that a login with my address already existed, so I took a guess at the password and immediately jumped to a screen that falsely, and more importantly, cruelly marked a time line that stopped last June. At the top of the screen, your child's age is marked. I never did go in and change it after we lost our bean. B.aby C.enter was a place in my mind I thought I would never return to. My child, had he or she survived, would have been 4 months old. That knocked the wind out of my temporarily confident sails. Instead of trying to figure their system out and removing this information, I promptly logged out and created another account. One for my rainbow baby.

To quell my weekly and regularly scheduled bout of insanity this time around, my new OB gave me ANOTHER ultrasound a few days ago during a routine check-up. And do you know what I learned from that ultrasound? I learned the following:

  • Word has likely spread via my chart and possible office chatter that I'm one of the insane ones.
  • My OB rocks. He is generous with the 'sanity' check ultrasounds, given my continuing status of slightly insane.
  • I have a really narrow pelvis and I better have a baby that is not much over 6 1/2 pounds. Seriously, if you knew me, this narrow pelvis thing would be a shock because I am a true pear-shaped girl who always considered herself to have 'child birthing' hips. Turns out, all that width was not my bone structure but my junk in the trunk.
  • Gender can be determined as early as 13 weeks, 3 days. Really.
  • And on that note, we're having a BOY!! I was shocked when I saw the boy parts as clear as day. Of course, nothing is 100%, but my doc said he'd bet money and although I'm sure the dude has money to spare, I'll go with him on this.
So, yes, many awesome things were learned in what did prove to be a sanity saving check-up. For today, I'm at the top of the roller coaster.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Quick! Act Fast!

I would come up with a clever little competition, but I can't think of anything and quite frankly, there isn't much time before these babies expire!

What I'm talking about is some free meds one of my friend's friends no longer needs (I think I am only about 2 degrees of separation from every infertile in the Bay Area!). If you're in need of the following, email me at redrivershel at gmail dot com:

Full cycle of menopur (Bravelle brand) that will expire 7/2009.
If you know anyone who can use it and their insurance does not pay for it, I am happy to let them have it.
They cost about $2K without insurance.

More info on it:

have 12 unopened boxes with 5 vials of 75 IU menopur in each box.

I also have 3 vials in an open box.

Not sure what a 'full cycle' is referring to in terms of IUs, but I can find out. But in the mean time, being the middle man for this exchange is the least I can do after what Tara and Nikki did for me. (wish I had left overs myself. Well, I do...if anyone needs 3 estrogen pills and a few soggy suppositories, lol)

The 'Mommy' Club...*BARF*

With each step of this journey through infertility, I am never quite prepared for my reaction to what eventually lies around the corner. The same is true for this infertile pregnancy. We have recently 'come out of the closet' about our pregnancy to most people (not infertility as I'm fairly certain I might still strangle someone for saying something completely ignorant). First, I was amazed that rather than feeling complete joy over finally revealing why I haven't participated in my usual booze fest at important parties, I felt like I was...lying.

Blood tests, ultrasounds (many, many ultrasounds): how much more evidence do I need to prove that this is real? And yet still I have walked around feeling as if I wasn't sure how I was going to cover up this enormous lie once November comes. On top of that, I discovered something that I've heard spoken of, but have never truly grasped until I experienced it: the instant inclusion to the 'Mommy' club. People who wouldn't have given me the time of day before are now somehow my self-appointed best friends. And it PISSES me off.

Almost every fertile woman over child bearing age would swim through shark infested waters to get to a pregnant chick on the other side just so they can talk birthing plans, breast feeding and crib choices. How I longed for this inclusion before and through no fault of my own, I stood on the outside looking in for years, wondering what it would be like once I got 'inside'. Now that I'm here (well, somewhat), I resent it. Although I longed for motherhood and toiled for my yet-to-be children as much as any Mother would do, I was never considered until I was "successful".

Today, as I sat in the OB's office surrounded by pregnant women and their partners, they all fell into a conversation: "Do you know the sex?", "when are you due?", and so on. Of course I was automatically included. I looked across the waiting room at a few women without their partners who were likely not pregnant and knowing that the OB also specializes in less intrusive IF treatment (diagnosis, IUIs, etc.), I wondered whether they were some of my infertile sisters. I noticed that one of them was staring downward as the happy pregnant chatter proceeded and I immediately resented 'the Mommy club' even more and found myself unknowingly fiddling with my infertility awareness necklace.

It's like this stupid exclusive clique in high school for girls who can only afford a certain brand of jeans. It is not based on deserving or merit, merely on whether you're lucky enough to come from a family with enough money to purchase this item. And if you just happen to scrape up enough to buy a pair one day, they all of a sudden invite you to all of their parties. You find yourself on the inside, but look around and realize that all of your girlfriends who you've left behind and are still working hard at gathering enough money just to buy one pair of jeans are far more deserving of this inclusion than any of these new friends and you suddenly begin to feel less enthusiastic about the whole 'instant inclusion'.

Perhaps it's a flawed analogy, but in many ways, it's how I feel. It's a combination of survivor's guilt, loyalty to my infertile sisters who are still struggling, and fear of embracing this new stage. I am not consciously trying to deny myself any joy in our little one, but moving from one land to the next is just not an option yet. I'll say it again: pregnancy after infertility and loss compared to 'fertile' experiences will never be the same. And yet still, after 5 years of hell, I wouldn't trade where I've been and most of all, where I'm going.