Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I Need a Drink

So...did some bloodwork. It turns out I now am the proud owner of a shiny new elevated FSH diagnosis.


Doc specifically instructed us that he would not advise waiting more than a year or two for #2, so my feeling that the clock is ticking was right on. Problem is:

A. We have no money for treatment after the feds raped us this year, we bought a house, and we're still paying for #1. (at least not the treatment we need) and I don't foresee us stumbling on any 'spare' cash in the mean time.
B. And...surprise! Mr. S is not sure he even wants a second.

So, that stiff drink down my gullet may have to come MUCH sooner than FIF.

Again, FUCK infertility.

Monday, December 20, 2010

To Throw Yourself into a Group of Random People...well, it's weird, and kinda great. Trust me on this.

So we have this little FIF 2011 going on, but a few of you (no, many of you) may be thinking, "ummm, yeah. I'm not going to show up alone to a group of random women in a city/state far from home!" to which I would have to say, I don't blame you. We are an unknown quantity and to throw yourself into such unknowns is a risk not for the faint of heart. 

But trust me, we know each other better than you would think.

And trust me further when I say, this is a risk worth taking.

Yet even if you choose not to go or simply cannot join us in Vegas, I am hoping that you will take the leap and find others like us out there because in doing so it has quite simply saved my life.

Dramatic, yes. True, very.

I remember showing up to my first Open Path (an offshoot of RESOLVE) meeting over 2 1/2 years ago. Given my almost religiously zealous practice of punctuality, I was naturally the first one to arrive, and I sat in a tiny office in downtown San Francisco with my eyes glued to the adoption and RE brochures along the wall, feeling broken, even ashamed, and wondering which of these routes would eventually lead me to what I sought. I had been TTC for over four years and in that time, I had uttered only a few syllables to my husband of the devastating vice grip infertility had on my heart, otherwise no one knew. Four years of silence feeling locked in a fertile world, hiding my dirty secret, so you can imagine that sitting in that office I was a bottle stuffed to the core. To add to that, I had just experienced a miscarriage two weeks before, my first real chance at Motherhood given and taken away. Sitting there I had no idea how raw I was or how truly desperate I was to find others like me, but I knew I was drawn to this group and that somehow, I needed them if I wanted to keep my sanity intact.

Only three of us showed. That's not to say that there are only three infertiles in the San Francisco Bay Area, but at that time, there were only three women who could gather the courage and the need to find each other. And find each other we did. What happened in that group was magical. The first five minutes were spent sobbing. I mean, open the flood gates, 'where the hell did this come from?', 'oh my God I'm not alone' sobbing.  And then the stories. And none of it was awkward. We fit.  And when it was done, I hoped that the other two ladies would find their way back as I knew I would because we had a connection, perhaps even beyond infertility.

Throughout the months ahead, we did find our way back. And then there were others who found us as well. And we came together outside of the groups and formed a sisterhood I've written about previously. I can assure you that that sisterhood is not only still going strong, but still growing, including other women with the same need of camaraderie. While not all meetings were quite as powerful, they were always valuable.

That's really the short version of the story, but the point is, it all happened because I trekked myself to a place of unknowns. While not quite shy, it still takes me awhile to gather enough courage to throw myself into groups of strangers, especially when the reason for meeting is not as lighthearted as merely seeking friendship.  But what made it easier is that I needed to find someone who understood. I just simply could not carry on in isolation any longer while shouldering infertility.  Something so immense cannot be dealt with alone.

So, if you have considered FIF 2011, know that you will be met with open arms, but if you're not quite ready for that, try the place of unknowns just once. You might walk out with something much more than you had ever anticipated.

Monday, December 13, 2010

More FIF 2011

Hi ladies! I'm all booked for Las Vegas (FIF 2011) and hoping to drum up more IF sisterhood interest. If you think you might like to join us, please let me know at redrivershel at gmail dot com and I will get you hooked up with more information. You are also welcome to repost this information on IF forums and websites!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

FIF 2011!! March 18-20, 2011

Hi all!

For the few of you that are still sticking around (which is amazing considering my overwhelming absence) or for those of you who have just happened upon this, I am here to invite you to the ever fabulous FIF (f$#* infertility) 2011!!  This is a fan-frickin-tastic event where IF ladies will get together March 18-20, 2011 in fabulous (and always notorious) Las Vegas, Nevada to completely indulge until they forget what cervical mucous or a progesterone shot in the ass even is.  Personally, I think it'll take quite a few margaritas to accomplish this for me, but I believe I'm up to the challenge.  And I believe that in doing so, I will be giving Jimmy Buffett a run for his money.

And truly, I invite all ladies from the ALI blogoshpere to join us.

Yeah, sorry, it's ladies only for now gentleman, because what fun would these guys be with the DHs in tote??:

 (Lol...the irony is that my DH, Mr. S, located this image for me)

Ok, I confess, FIF 2011 looks sort of like a pseudo bachelorette party. But after all the shit we've been through, I think it's safe to say that we could use a few stiff drinks down our gullet. And perhaps a few laughable male strippers to gyrate in our direction because I've never seen male strippers before and I think it would be high-larious.

And don't be surprised if I show up on the Vegas strip come FIF weekend with a pair of ovaries attached to a headband (with a few cocktail monkeys thrown in for good measure), because this is just a different type of celebration. It's a celebration of survival and sisterhood and camaraderie and 'F infertility because I will not let it get the best of me or steal my enjoyment in life!!'  And I guarantee it's going to be fabulous and healing and just all around AWESOME!! And that at the beginning of each night, we will toast 'f%$* inferility'!! And at the end of each night, we won't be able to remember why the hell we're even wearing ovaries on our heads!! (OK, no worries, I will not make you wear ovaries on your head---it will be strictly voluntary)

So with that, I invite all IF ladies. Whether you are newly diagnosed and have not been through treatment, whether you are in the throes of treatment, whether you have a kid or two at home, whether you have chosen to live child free, whether you are in the beginning stages of adoption or are newly paper pregnant, whether you have no idea where you are, or anywhere in between all that I've mentioned (or even a combination of the above), I invite you to enjoy the partnership and connection of those who 'get you' much more than many do.  There is already an amazing group of IF ladies who have committed to this and they alone are with the trip out. So if IF has found a place in your life, I know you could use a place to unwind. Let the ladies coming to FIF 2011 help you do just that!

If you're seriously interested in joining us, please let me know at redrivershel at gmail dot com. Everyone is coordinating (ie paying for) their own travel and lodging arrangements, but I want to make sure that we all keep in touch.

Seriously...DO IT!!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

F* You, Infertility

I've spent almost the last year (more if you count pregnancy) floating in a state of happy non-treatment. I cannot tell you how freeing and normalizing it felt to distance myself from anything that resembled a needle or a clinic waiting room or stirrups or two week waits so that when I sat in front of my RE today, I was surprised to be so completely reminded.

I'm infertile. Oh, yeah. I almost forgot.

I mean, I didn't really almost forget, but the sick feeling of dysfunction, the overwhelming costs and treatment plans, the slippery grip on hope feeling like I may be getting back on this treadmill for nothing, well, it all came back again.  

And suddenly my plans to organize Fuck Infertility Vegas 2011 (see below, especially if you're interested in joining us) took on a new meaning, new life. This visit breathed new fire into my hatred for infertility and all that it has robbed from me and my bloggy/real life friends. I was reminded that this is what it feels like to be infertile. It was nice to pretend that it didn't exist for a moment, but this afternoon was my return.  I remembered life before my dream came true and although logic may convince others that we have a shot at a second child given the success of our first IVF, the years before little G dominate and convince me that it's likely all for naught and at once I'm defeated again.

Damn you, infertility. No, fuck you infertility.

Don't get me wrong. I am not defeated in the way I once was. I am over the top blessed with Little G, but this post is not about what is but about the memories and the mark they left on my heart. And the mark they continue to carve into the hearts of those I care about. My years of infertility taught me to think in such a specific, cautious, and even negative way.  And it is such a wretched feeling to sit in that chair again. 

You're probably wondering what brought us back to the clinic. #2? Well, yes, but not yet. I had no intentions of returning so soon (and trust me, I feel that almost 2 years is quite soon), but we recently met our high deductible on our new insurance and diagnostics are covered 80% until December 31st, so this is just about getting that over with to get more bang for our buck for future use.  I'm not sure when that will be. We have two frozens--1 shot before we must return to discussion of a possible fresh and I recently learned that my Mother started menopause in her late 30's, so as far as I'm concerned, that clock truly is ticking.

In the mean time, I invite all of you pomegranate string-wearing, infertility-fighting lovely ladies to join me and my infertility sisterhood peeps in Vegas this Spring. We haven't nailed down a date yet, but late March is looking likely. Hate infertility? Let's toast! Loathe big needles full of progesterone in your bum? Put a few dollar bills in that Australian stripper guys thong.
Yeah, it's going to be that kind of trip. And you, my friend, are invited.**

**(more details to come)

PS For those that have requested access to my private blog...I'm sorry! I'm a spaz! I totally lost the login. I'll find it somewhere. I could use that therapy hour right about now...

Friday, October 15, 2010

I am breaking the silence as 1364 on October 15th

iamtheface.org is a project that brings together those who have experienced miscarriage, infant loss and still birth to break the silence regarding these often taboo subjects in honor of today, October 15th, pregnancy and infant loss awareness day. Please light a candle at 7 PM tonight to remember all of us who have been touched by loss. I will do so in honor of my friends, bloggy and real life, and in honor of my angel baby, due 1/6/09. I will never forget that date.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Still Alive...and kicking!

Yes, it's true. I still live, albeit in a very busy and usually exhausted state, but I am very much still here and keeping up with most people's journeys in my reader.  I'm just a pitiful commenter.  Oh, and how do you like my latest comments? That's right. You probably didn't know it, but I'm big in the Chinese porn community.  I'm a multi-faceted lady over here. Infertility, Chinese porn. They go hand-in-hand, really.

I have a gazillion things I could moan and whine and bitch and complain about, but at the same time, I have just as many if not more things to be thankful for (the title of this post being one of them).  I have always thought of myself as someone whose luck has never existed on a middle ground. I am either immensly lucky or immensly unlucky.  And that's where I am right now. As I enjoy the aspects of my life that were brought to me through amazing fortune (husband, baby, health, friends, family), I am suffering through other elements that are so very opposite of these (but I won't list them as I promised I would not moan and whine and bitch and complain). That's my life in a nutshell. No happy mediums for this girl, but I suppose if that's how I get the extreme highs, then I'll make my way through the lows somehow.

Lately I've been finding myself on my clinic's and RESOLVE's facebook pages more often than I find myself on friend's pages, which made me realize I need to return here.  I feel like there is just so much work to be done in the fight for infertility education, support and medical coverage and for so long I have felt the need to be a part of that fight.  I just wonder how I might accomplish this. I have thought about doing a peer led support group with others and I have also thought about volunteering for RESOLVE, but between my baby and work and my Mother and a possible move and dental work (and, ya know, actually attempting to have real human contact with my husband and friends--oh, and sleep), I am at such a loss for time that its just something that must be put on the back burner for now.  But I keep it in my heart constantly and know that one day I will be involved in some way.

And for some reason I've been reading about others trying for #2 lately, but I certainly don't feel as if this influx of discussion is a sign that the time is near for me. I suppose I am torn, but not incredibly so. On one hand I feel the clock is ticking. None of us are getting any younger. As I age, I also pay embie storage fees that add up over time. However, on the much larger hand, I can't begin to imagine approaching treatment this soon. I feel like I'm still reeling from the years of treatment that I endured and just now beginning to enjoy the fact that my body is my own.  There have been no needle marks on this body for over a year and for that I feel spoiled.  We also have no idea where we'll land as far as where to live (same town, different house), are still paying for our first IVF, and quite frankly having a baby is hard work. Doing treatment and/or being pregnant in concert with baby raising sounds like a nightmare to me.

And most importantly, this is G's time to be a baby. I want that time to be untouched-to be all his own, to be smothered with all the love and attention he can muster.  At this point in time, I would not want my pursuit for something that may never happen to interfere.  So obviously my mind is made up, for now. But then again, the clock is still ticking...

And yet, even with that question of 'when' lingering in my mind again, I am, for the first time in my life, living for today. For this moment. And damn it feels good.

Monday, May 17, 2010

6 Months Later

**Kids mentioned.**

It's been ages since I've blogged about Baby G. And despite the drama that has filled up my blogging as of late, he is still the central focus of my life. And needless to say, he's growing like a weed...a very plump, round weed. :) Chubby baby rolls? Check. Chipmunk cheeks that look like he's smuggling walnuts? Check. Clothing that's has surpassed most 9-12 month sizes at only 6 months old? Check.  A lovely little man that often laughs to the point of almost hyperventilating and stuffs everything into that little mouth of his? Check, check.

So here we are 6 months from the day G was born. Though I remember the feelings I felt before and during pregnancy with startling clarity-the longing to meet him, the deep hope for his safe entry into this world, it still seems that a thousand lifetimes have passed between this time and that, especially with all that has come to pass in just six month's time. I am tired from the trials that I have seen lately (all of which have had nothing to do with G), but simultaneously G has left me exhilarated. All of my heart's desires came to me when when I first held him and never before have I awakened so consistently everyday in awe of my life. It is what I imagined, and more. It isn't anything I imagined, either. But it is, quite simply, a miracle.

One of the biggest regrets I've had has been my lack of documenting his milestones. It hadn't dawned on me how much he has changed until I started watching a video of him as a 3-week-old newborn the other day. I was wondering whose kid I was watching, but at the time taking the footage seemed so mundane. What was once a fellow with a floppy little bobble-head and newborn squeaks is now a giggling, smiling, squealing, sturdy guy that 'talks' up a storm.  He loves imitating raspberries and sticks out his tongue constantly and as of just recently has sprouted his first tooth. Strangely enough while he has not yet mastered or even cared for rolling over, he's been sitting up unassisted since 4 months old and does so with a posture much better than any I've ever had. He started solids a few weeks ago and while it was a slow start (he had the mechanics down, just not the pleasure for solid food), he's certainly coming around.

While I don't feel comfortable sharing G's pictures outside of my password protected blog (which is ironic, I know, considering I gladly gallivanted around on national TV courtesy of GMA), I am happy to share that he definitely got the best of us in both personality and looks. He is fiercely independent (he must control the spoon!) and has the best sense of humor.  He can laugh so easily and uncontrollably and it is always the most breathtaking set of sights and sounds. G is also quite a people watcher and despite his mood, when in public, he is always content in just sitting back. In fact, I thought he was going to get whiplash this afternoon at the pediatrician's office. He couldn't pick out who he wanted to watch! While he has my coloring, he has more of Mr. S's features. He is quite simply the most beautiful creature I have ever seen.

To be quite honest, there was a day not too long ago (during pregnancy) when I didn't believe that I would actually have a six month old. To have such luck didn't seem at all feasible, but now that I am here and I am blessed with such a charming, beautiful, bright little man, I have nothing more to ask from the world. All my debts are settled.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mother's Day

On Sunday, I'll be thinking about Mothers who have been lucky enough to bring their little ones home, those who said goodbye too soon, and those still waiting, who have fought just as hard if not harder for their children as any Mother out there. It is irrelevent that your children have not yet found their way home. This day still belongs to you.

 And, of course, I will be thanking my lucky stars that my wait came to an end last year. It is still bizarre to me that I can call myself a Mother and it feels natural, commonplace when once upon a time I thought that perhaps I might feel like a fraud in saying it as it had been witheld from me for so long. When this shift took place, I'll never know, but I sank right into it. To call myself 'mommy' feels right and comfortable. After preparing for this role my entire life, I'm here and more than grateful. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What If?

Given that the title of my blog is all about the big 'ifs' in life (and especially my big 'if), I found Stirrup Queen's Project IF fitting for me, like a well-worn shoe. I have mulled over the possibilities of different outcomes both in the present and the future so many times over that that well-worn shoe no longer has a sole. In fact I found this project so incredibly difficult simply because I had to narrow it down. My mind is full of what ifs.  But the one that stood out for me the clearest was one that I am still living.

As many of you know, I lost my Father in February. While my husband and uncle were there in the hospital to help me make the big decisions-whether to continue life saving measures or not, I was alone in that there were no other siblings there to shoulder the same burden. Surrounded by people at his service, I ultimately was the only one who made arrangements, the only one to utter the word 'Dad' on that day. So, it got me to thinking about my son.

What if my son, as possibly an only child for good, is left in the same shoes I was in just a few months ago- standing alongside others during my and my husband's passing, but ultimately alone?

I am an only child also as a result of infertility, conceived also after 5 years, so I well know what it's like to be surrounded by loved ones at such a time in life but to not have a single person who is truly standing anywhere near my shoes, who shares my history, my roots, parented by the same people. Given some of the complications of my childhood and now my position with my parents later in life, I carry a weight that is unique to me alone and I have honestly many times resented that there was never another shoulder to help carry it. What if my son also resents this?

I am truly part of the sandwich generation-caring for a new baby as I look after my disabled Mother and it's exhausting.  While I will do my best to avoid creating the same pitfalls for my son that I've recently stumbled over, I wonder: What if he is the only one who can care for us in our elder years? What if he is the only one to make the hard decisions as I reach the end of my days? What if he is the only one standing there in my hospital room wishing he had just one sibling standing beside him?

What if he is the only one?

I will never question how immensly lucky I am that he is here with us. I could have just as easily asked the question: what if I lived in a time when ART didn't exist? I can't begin to imagine that alternate reality. Well, I guess I could; I would just have to imagine life before he existed and yet still there was the possibility.  But now that he is here, I look out over my experience as an only child and ache to think that he might find a table of three at Thanksgiving just as lonely as I did, that he might create an imaginary sibling as I did, that he might resent the quiet in his house and all of his unshared toys as I did. These things spell luxuries to some, but it always spelled loneliness for me.

Although I am never under the delusion that just because you have a sibling means you'll be the best of buddies, but to have someone out there in the world who shares a similar history must be of some comfort. I want him to have that. Perhaps even as an only child he will, for I was never surrounded by family, even extended, and I will make sure he is. But just the possibility alone that he might be the only one saddens me for him...and me. And although nowhere near the sadness the 'what if I never have even one child' gave me, it is still painful enough to remind me that infertility is still alive and breathing in my house.

And yet, what if he is not the only one?

Once upon a time, I questioned whether I would ever have a child. Doubted it, even. And it happened. Beyond my wildest dreams and after many years of treatment, it happened. My son is proof for me that despite dashed hope, despite doubts, miracles do occur in this world. Sometimes we just take a longer, harder path to find them. So what if I do get a second miracle? Yes, the odds are still low, but they're still there.  I now believe in it more because I have seen what dreams coming true look like. My son is hope restored for me.  And if he is an only child for good? So be it. I'll still count myself among the lucky. The 'holy s%$& I just won the friggin' lottery' lucky, and that's quite enough for me.

For more info on infertility and infertility awareness week, go to Resolve's website and learn more!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Letter to the Fertile World

(I will be posting this on my regular family blog and facebook for the fertile world to see!)

In light of National Infertility Awareness week (April 24th-May 1st), I wanted an opportunity to describe what infertility is to those who have been lucky enough to walk outside its shadow; what it is like when every fiber of your body has ached for a child for years on end only to realize that it may always remain a dream unfulfilled. My words will most likely seem over-dramatic and yet will still underplay what infertility is to the millions of people who have experienced it.

What Infertility is...

Infertility is the deafening quiet of an empty house, the hollow 'extra' room that has echoed with a silence only your heart can hear.
Infertility is combing over your family tree and wondering whether your branch will end with you.
Infertility is walking past a children's clothing store and strollers, seeing a mother with her baby, hearing the song of children's laughter, all with your heart in your throat.
Infertility is not being able to plan or even know what the future may hold, turning it all into 'if' rather than 'when'.
Infertility is the family picture you get in the mail at Christmas and the knowledge that if you sent one out, all you would see is who is missing.
Infertility is the death of what could have been, and what may never be, ushering a grief you must re-experience. Every. Single. Month.
Infertility is a box of used needles, a bruised abdomen, an emptied bank account. And two weeks later, despite all that, it is yet another single line on the test stick.
Infertility is the cold rush of immense guilt as you cry tears of sadness rather than joy over a loved one's pregnancy.
Infertility is avoiding get-togethers, holidays-it is your life on hold so that you may not have to walk into another unexpected announcement or mask the utter devastation life keeps handing you.
Infertility is exhausting.
Infertility is innocence lost as you now learn to always expect the next fall.
Infertility is the deepest understanding that life is not fair.
Infertility is your heart's desire always on hold.
Infertility is the same longing others have-to feed, love and nurture your child, to feel their breath on your cheek, hear their cry in the next room, to see them grow and be a part of the world, and to know that all of this may never take place.
Infertility is not a sisterhood I signed up for, but nevertheless one that gave me amazing friendships with some of the strongest women I've ever met, ones who are still standing, still fighting.
Infertility is a silent loss, one that is so rarely recognized for what it is.
Infertility is NOT a choice.
Infertility is a theif 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, leaving the pregnancy journal empty for fear of jinxing your immense fortune.
Infertility is a crisis I lived through for almost 5 years that in the end made me stronger than what I was before, more understanding. Infertility made me a better friend, wife, and now, mother.
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.

And yet still, infertility is something I would have lived through a thousand times over to bring my baby boy home.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Back Story

There was unfortunately a back story to my Dad's service, one that threatened to overshadow the day. I posted about it on my password protected blog.  If you haven't already gotten a link to that, email me at redrivershel at gmail dot com.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Fond Farewell

I said my final farewell to my Father who we laid to rest at a National VA cemetery yesterday. It was a very small affair as my Father, despite his unquenchable thirst for social contact with acquaintances, had unfortunately alienated himself from closer friends and family in the last dozen or so years. Nevertheless, I didn't feel as if it took away from the moments that we all shared to say goodbye.

I had to say that the Air Force honor guard that opened my Father's service was breathtaking.  Two of the soldiers did a flag fold while another played taps on a bugle in the distance. Most eyes were filled with tears.  At the finale, one of the soldiers presented me with the flag. This may sound a bit cheesy, but during that moment my heart was so full of pride for my country and for my Father and for the young, nervous soldiers standing before me. At once I felt lucky to be American (not that I hadn't before, despite our marred reputation worldwide). I know my Father loved this country and it was nothing less than an honorable tribute to a wonderful man.

My Father had requested no funeral, so instead I led the way in telling a synopsis of his life story and myriad stories from friends and family who couldn't make it all the while I stood behind a triad podium decorated with pictures, flowers, belt buckles and his gorgeous urn.  Mr. S added a few stories before everyone congregated at the front. In short, it was as beautiful of a short service as I could have planned.

Most people followed us back to our house about 40 minutes away where we served beer and English food (bangers and mash) as a tribute to my Father's love for England and his time stationed there (and his English heritage).  I spent much of those first moments letting G meet family and friends, showing a video tribute I made, and telling stories with my Uncle (dad's brother) who is the last surviving sibling of 13 (and no, that's not a typo and obviously someone wasn't infertile).  All in all, it was a perfect, cloudless spring day, a day my Father would have loved. It was a good day.  It was a day of tears and stories and laughter and memories and good times. It was a day I will never forget.

Farewell Daddy. I hope you are nothing less than honored by our farewell. Until we meet again...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Straddling the Fence

In reading someone else's blog detailing 'one year ago our ICSI baby was conceived', I realized that it's been over a month since G's one year ICSI conception anniversary...one year since he was created. I had always looked forward to posting about it, to celebrating it, but it came in the midst of my Dad's hospitalization and just days before he passed away. I also neglected to take G's 3 month picture at that time as well.  All of this is understandable, but leaves me with a sadness that time is passing all too quickly and as a result of life's stressors, many moments seem to be slipping through my fingers all too easily.

It seems just yesterday that G was sitting in a petrie dish as one of my 'rockstars'.  And yet, it seems simultaneously light years away. The pain of treatment and living IF on a day-to-day basis is both distant and fresh. My mind and heart and focus are so filled with new motherhood, that sometimes I forget all it took to get here and then I read over my old blog entries, talk to my IF sisters and recall with sharp lazer point detail every emotion that flooded me as the nurse read my negative beta with a matter-of-factness that still sickens me. I am straddling this world and that and now I truly believe that it can be done.

The healing can begin, but will never be done. After our Good Morning America appearance, a surprising thing happened. While I braced myself for some silly, senseless comments, in turn I found myself in three different situations where not only did people start talking about their friend's experiences with infertility (without any of that, "and then they got pregnant right after they adopted" garbage), but they more notably started talking about miscarriage. Sadly, almost every single woman in every small group I spoke with had a personal story to share. But it seemed almost cathartic for each and every one of them and they all concluded that it was too hushed of a topic. And in sharing my own story, I found it more difficult to speak than I had anticipated.  I found that during the interview as well. No matter how much my attention may be diverted, no matter how far away from treatment I walk, it is still a part of me, living and breathing. But it makes me hold my beautiful child that much tighter knowing that if I hadn't have fought, I would never have been so blessed.

Monday, March 22, 2010

New Blog: Password Protected

I have been meaning to blog for awhile now, but between work and G and so many other life events, I simply have not had the time. There's also the lingering feeling that this blog is not as anonymous as I'd like. I mean, of course you all know my name now, but I'm not talking about being known in blogger land or even being known on national TV, but that perhaps real life friends or family may have found me here, which makes me clam up. So, in the mean time, I've started another corner of the blogosphere to commence emotional spillage, but most posts will be password protected. I've written the first entry and man, it feels like I just had a great vent session with a therapist (but it was free!).

I welcome you to email me at redrivershel at gmail dot com to get your very own password, that is, if you fall under one of these categories:

  • Either you are a real life IF friend and/or monkey sister
  • Or you have an identifiable blog that I can go onto and read all about your own exploits.
Hope to see some of you there!

**Oh, and I will still maintain this blog, but will have more of an IF focus. The other blog is just for general uncensored spillage, mostly of the non-IF variety.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

5 vials M.enopur available!!

Sorry for the MIA, but life has been, simply put, chaotic...and not always in a good way. Of course the chaos named G is always good, even when it's sorta bad. :)

So before I return to emotional spillage via blog, I wanted to offer 5 vials of 75 iu of M.enopur I came across this afternoon. They expire in June and while I'd love to say I will one day pursue #2, I'm not nearly masochistic enough to see that happen anytime soon.  Email me at redrivershel at gmail dot com if you'd like to put it to good use. 

First come, first served!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Good Morning America

In case you missed it when it aired at the butt crack of dawn Saturday morning, here it is!

Overall, I'm really pleased on how it came out.  No horrific out of context editing that I could pinpoint, which is always a good thing.  (of course, I am disappointed they didn't have their airbrusher on hand :) Let me know what you think!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Don't Worry About Me

As I watch the clock, I see that it is just 4 days shy since my journey as a Fatherless child began. Since my Father took his last breath.  While I had over a week to prepare for this farewell or perhaps even years in all honesty, I realize that it could have just as well been a century and I never would have been at a place where I was ready.

It began when my Mother found my Father, who was first diagnosed with emphysema and placed on oxygen in 1997, unresponsive a few weeks ago.  From there, we spent hours in the ICU watching him breathe with the help of a ventilator only to learn that on that day, the day before his 75th birthday, he was diagnosed with pneumonia and his lungs were collecting fluid. For the first few days in the hospital, he was mostly unresponsive, mumbling unintelligably. As you might imagine, oxygen deprivation to the brain can make for significant confusion, especially in the elderly, and during my Father's hospital stay, this comes as bit of an understatement. At times he was grabbing at the air, threatening people (which is COMPLETELY out of character for him) and making odd statements.  But after he came off the ventilator, there were a few statements he made that were crystal clear, one of which was,

"Don't worry about me. I've lived a good life."

He knew.  All along, during equal moments of pure confusion and muted lucidity, all along he knew that his body, having fought so long and hard, was ready to hang up the gloves. I initially was made to face some tough decisions regarding the end of his life, but my Dad, in the few moments of clarity he had, took the decision out of my hands and let me know he was ready. And after he reiterated this, he told me to go home, get some rest, and be with my baby.  So, I did. And he left this earth soon after. 
 And quite frankly, while I ache with sadness, I am at the same time relieved. He was tired towards the end, robbed of any quality of life and frequently spoke of a longing to move on.  He did so peacefully, knowing he was loved. I could only hope the same for all others.

But he is far from gone. So much of the world around me and so much of the memories speak of him, whisper that he is still here with me. How could he be gone when they are not?

I recall a moment a few years ago. I was looking at a picture I had just taken of my parents out in front of their house and was thinking that while it felt like it was the 'same old' at the time, that I would one day look back at it as the past, as a time that would seem so distant and that I would ache from the memory. I already do as it is never to be again.

My Daddy is...

Paint speckled on whites and paint brushes soaking in a jar of water in the kitchen. (he was a house painter)
"You deserve a beer!" after he came home from work.
Taking my girlfriends and I to theme parks and concerts.
Arms, deepened into copper after a day's work in the summer sun, and decorated with a tattoo of faded air force wings.
Roller coaster rides in open air.
Baby poop jokes told in a thousand different ways depending on what we were eating.
Classic country playing through static on an 8 track, a stack of old cassette tapes on his desk.
A gleaming solid wood box brimming with lovingly collected coins.
A 1984 Dodge Pickup truck sitting out front.
A belt buckle from the local country music station.
Colorful stories of the Air Force, from Fort Bayne, Georgia to England.
A soft heart for animals he tried to hide from most others.
And most of all, a love for me that I never once questioned.

Daddy, you will be missed more than words will ever begin to describe.  At last, peace is yours for the keeping now.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Well, for goodness sakes...Nervermind!!

Postponed again! 

It looks like GMA will not be airing our MFI piece this Sunday after all. I think that the next time they tell us an air date, I'm not letting people know until the evening before! 

Friday, February 26, 2010

GMA Appearance Back On

Sunday at 7 AM...tune in to Good Morning America to see Mr. S and I chatting it up about MFI.

I've had some big, awful things happen lately that have prevented me from updating, but eventually I'll be back on as usual. In the mean time, I'm just crossing my fingers that I didn't say anything too silly! (like accidentally call it in vitro insemination, haha! or talk about them 'implanting' our embryos!)

Friday, February 12, 2010

GMA Postponed

So, it turns out our Good Morning America showing will be postponed due to Clinton's surgery. Poo!  It's taken a lot to prepare myself to wince and groan at my post baby butt filling up the screen, but alas, I must do it all over again next week (as the piece will likely air next Saturday).  I know it's been a year of madness for those in public life, but can the celebrities and politicians please have an uneventful next week? I need to get this waiting over with!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


There are a number of revelations or rather, discoveries I've made since G was born.  Being that he is essentially my first foray into babies, I never predicted the way I would think of him and how it would change the way I look at the world.  It should go without saying that I adore G. I love him deeply and madly and well beyond what I thought possible.  I study his every expression with wonder, every detail, from the pattern of his eyebrows and the fine layer of blond fuzz along his jaw to his tiny fingernails.  His every sigh is heart melting. All he need to do to gain my adoration is breathe and yet he does so much more and when he does, my heart leaps.  I know that all of you feel or will feel this way about your child, but it never dawned on me how much my love for him would make me think of other children. All children. Simply, every child ever born on earth should be adored in this way, but sadly, not all are.

The fact that this is the first time I truly grasped this, despite the fact that my job is children and especially disadvantaged children, is surprising to me.  Sure, my heart has been tugged at so many times in the duration of my short career, but this is especially so now. The fact that a parent would even fathom not bothering to show up to a child's school meeting or worse yet, neglect their most basic needs (especially emotional) is beyond my comprehension. No matter how many times I face it, I will never understand.

Another discovery I've made since G was born is how miraculous it is that we all started out in the same way. Once upon a time, each and every one of us was that tadpole I saw on the ultrasound screen and later, we were all once that screaming, pooping and completely helpless little being who is no bigger than a football.  School age children are my forte, so anything before the walking/talking and mostly independent thought never REALLY crossed my mind, so as I watch G grow and I see him stumble through one milestone to the next, I am in awe.  It's amazing that most of us acquire language and mobility because frankly learning that looks like really hard work. I should know. After a short session of play and learning to roll on his side, my kid is fast asleep, snoring away the morning (let's hope he snores a little longer!--nevermind, his baby telepathy just set in and I caught a glimpse of eyeball!).

I guess overall what's amazing to me is that this one child has made me look at an entire world full of people differently.  Tragedies seem more tragic, triumphs seem more miraculous.  I experience others' pain more deeply.  I now wonder when will I be able to watch the news without tearing up? But honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

More IF Spokespeople in the Media

Good for Celine Dion in coming forward and discussing IF, especially given how hard that is while being in the midst of treatment.  I can't imagine relinquishing that much privacy during that time.  Here's hoping that one more person stepping forward will pull the taboo on IF down another notch.

(however, I must add that I find it a little ironic that the article on the cover of People magazine is entitled 'my private heartbreak'. Sweetie, it's not so private anymore!)

Monday, February 8, 2010

GMA recapped

You know you're infertile when...

A nationally televised program shows up at your house to tape and in the course of the process you find out your RE will be showing up to be interviewed as well. You discover you're more excited to see your RE than be taped for Good Morning America. Anyhow, I digress...

(Mr. S, me, and G with our amazing RE, Dr. H!)

(pardon me for the way I'm allowing my poor sleeping child's head to flop back!)

The day started promptly at 10 AM and to be quite honest, I walked into it without any preconceptions and partly wondering if it was a practical joke. So imagine my surprise when my entire house was suddenly filled with camera equipment. It certainly made the experience more real for me.

We began filming almost immediately upon the camera crew's arrival and started out with shots of Mr. S and I walking G around the marina near our house in his stroller. While it had been pouring non-stop rain for days on end and was slated to continue, the day of the shooting was not only dry, but the sun was out, boasting an almost cloudless sunny sky. We couldn't believe our luck.

Because of course so many of the shots are staged in TV land (giving me a very different perspective on reality TV), there were certainly times when I felt silly in front of the camera, but all in all, it was a fun, albeit long experience (especially considering that the 8 hours of filming will produce a segment approximately 3 1/2 minutes in length). They got shots of us sitting on a bench near our house, changing G, feeding G, putting him down for a nap, getting ready, blogging, and a final shot of us solemnly walking hand-in-hand without G, and then finally being joined by G, meant to be symbolic of our journey. Although contrived, it still jarred something in me. In fact, I was surprised that after all this time, after this many years of facing IF and processing it ad nauseum with so many people, that I still get choked up when discussing everything that's come to pass, especially when it involves our little miracle.

Then our interview came and although the actual correspondent is not present (their questions are read but then they fill in the other part in NY), I was surprised to find myself nervous and even tongue tied at times. As I sit here recalling some of my answers, I'm praying for the miracle of good editing.

During the interview, I was asked to describe the emotions that accompany riding the road of infertility and as I began, I realized the task at hand was completely out of my reach. In fact, it is so far out of the realm of language, that, as I've said before, it felt as if I was both over-dramatizing and under-dramatizing it. But I did give a one word description: HELL. Ok, not the most eloquent response, I'll admit, but I personally think it's pretty accurate. I think it took those in the room who were unfamiliar with infertility aback as it was so dramatic, especially since I sort of blurted it out without much thought, but I meant it. I went on trying to describe the last 5 or so years and felt as if I was doing a huge disservice to the depth and pain of the experience, so forgive me if they show that part and I haven't really been the best IF spokesperson. I tried!

Overall, the show focused primarily on male factor infertility and a few days before, the producer had asked me what my diagnosis was. To be quite honest, I didn't know and while my medical records had always described only male factor, I kind of assumed that I contributed to the equation. I'm embarrassed to say that after this many years I finally asked my doctor my diagnosis for the first time and was surprised to learn that I didn't have one. We are only male factor. Does this make me fertile? Hell to the no. As I've said before, WE are infertile. Once you have a life partner, you are only as fertile as they are.

Another question that was asked that left me dumbfounded was somewhere along the lines of whether we would do it all over again in the same manner (especially given that we took the least invasive routes to the very end). The final answer was, 'yes' and then my RE, who was standing off on the sidelines, added a beautiful point. Had we gotten pregnant 5 years ago, it would not have been G. So, yes, I don't believe I would have done anything differently. This was the road I took to the little boy I was meant to have all along and this is what I think of for all IFers struggling through their journey and what got me through ours.

Instead of documenting everything that was discussed during the course of the 2 hour long interview taping, I think I'll instead respond to the comments that actually make it into the final cut, especially if they come across the wrong way and I have some explaining to do! (you never know until the final edit!) I do want to add that my RE was amazing and eloquent and somehow was able to encapsulate IVF and ICSI in layman's terms, so that no one will be left confused, fertile and infertile alike.

And to leave you, here's a picture that comes full circle. In it, I was at the Good Morning America studios in NYC as an audience member (2006) pumped full of Clomid and just one week shy from our first IUI:

**Our segment actually airs on the weekend edition this Saturday, February 13th. Check your local listings for times (it's usually REALLY early, as in butt crack of dawn early)**

Friday, February 5, 2010


I am typing this as GMA is filming...omg indeed. They're getting a shot of us blogging since part of the show is about infertility blogging. It's one of many shots they've gotten. What an interesting (and all day!) experience so far that I can't wait to share. We gave a shout out to the ALI blogging community...hopefully they'll not edit that out!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Could My Dreams of Becoming an Infertility Rockstar be Coming True?

You'll notice that some of my posts have either been heavily edited or deleted altogether. What once was my haven to spill about anyone or anything I wanted will likely disappear next week, making way for a more public and less anonymous forum...and I'm completely OK with it. Why?

Because we're going to be on Good Morning America next week talking about infertility, people!

Talk about REALLY coming out of the closet! I guess we figure go big, or go home.

We're not completely sure when it will be aired (and I'm fairly certain it will be on the weekend edition), but it should be sometime next week and when we find out, we'll let everyone and their Grandmother know. The focus is more specifically on male infertility and was prompted by a brief interview Mr. S provided to Conceive magazine awhile back. We just found out about this yesterday and after finding out that they'll be shooting at our house, you better believe I've morphed into a crazy cleaning lady and, 'oh my God I'm still wearing maternity clothes, I better get real people clothes' lady. Also, 'damn why couldn't this have happened AFTER I lost the baby weight?' lady.

Oh, and my real name is not Shelby, and although I considered just blogging under my real name after this, I think I'll maintain it. I'd like to think of Shelby as my infertility warrior name, kind of like Beyonce and her Sasha Fierce alter ego, except in real life and while using my real name, we're still infertile!

So stay tuned and we'll let you know the who, what, where and when. We already know the why!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New Year, New Me...Again.

My weight loss history is almost as involved and convoluted as my IF treatment history (although personally I would much rather be overweight than infertile-losing weight is cheaper and easier than IVF!). Let's just face it, I could put a yo-yo to shame...or Oprah. Yeah, me and Oprah are totally weight loss soul mates.

It started after getting married. Previous to that I had never been considered overweight, but I can assure you that I have NEVER been accused of being a beanpole. When Mr. S and I married, I was a size 6 (of course, that was after the ever famous 'starve yourself two months before the wedding' diet). Within 2 years I added a 1 in the tens place of that size number. There were several times I lost 10 pounds here, 10 pounds there, but it wasn't until New Years of 2006 that I realized my quick climb up to a final size 22 was my call to Jesus (especially as I learned how it would effect my fertility). Over the next year and a half, I busted my ass and was back down to a 6 (which translated to 90+ pounds). Truly though, maintenance is much harder than weight loss and the following years certainly proved that.

After having lost that weight, I promised myself that I would not let myself slip again, but then pregnancy happened and moreover, I really, really let it happen. In fact, I gained 10-15 pounds in my first pregnancy alone, one that lasted only 10 weeks. Of course, the grief of loss also added to that. Then, my IVF and my subsequent pregnancy with G came around and I happily basked in the idea of flooding my beloved child with as many calories as he could muster. I'm not exactly certain what my final weight gain was, but if I had to take a guess, I would say that upon entering the hospital to deliver, I was probably close to 65 pounds heavier than I was walking into the transfer.

If there's one thing I'm better at than weight loss, it's weight gain. Wouldn't you say?

Surprisingly, I had textbook perfect blood pressure and no gestational diabetes to speak of during my pregnancy, so with that knowledge, I made a date with the local ice cream parlor almost nightly. So here I sit with the aftermath (praying the little one stays asleep for just 5 more minutes--let me finish this blog at least!) 35 pounds away from my pre-IVF weight and 45 pounds away from a more comfortable weight, one that I can at least live with. I've been a bad girl and penance is due.

I know, people hardly ever stick to New Year's resolutions involving weight loss, but somehow it has worked for me. That and the fact that I need to somehow squeeze my meaty carcass into a bathing suit come June and also have lofty aspirations to become a minor league MILF. Ok, maybe not that last part, but in the very least, to become healthier and set a better example for my little one.

Will I make it to my goal? Well, as my Mom used to say, if you want something badly enough, it'll happen. Just as with every other time, I want this badly. Unlike infertility, this is within my control and if my yo-yo history has taught me anything, it is the difference between my feelings as someone who is obese versus someone who is not. I'll take a helping of the latter, please.