10

One Lovely Blog Award :-)

Phew, all that NIAW stuff is done. It turned out being a little stressful for me and not that satisfying, if you read my last post. Life goes on though. πŸ™‚ Oh, there were a couple things I was going to mention about my appointment with Dr. Kwak-Kim last week that I forgot about. 1) She struggled with infertility herself! and 2) She said (possibly) that my immune system could be attacking my ovaries and/or the hormones for producing eggs and follicles. Immune treatment might help me produce more eggies – and bettter quality ones, at that! She said not to get my hopes up though, because sometimes Diminished Ovarian Reserve happens to young people for no apparent reason and usually there’s nothing that can help it. But wouldn’t that be something!!

Thank you to Adrift on a dandelion breeze for this award. πŸ˜€ Please stop over and check out her story. She is quite an amazing woman. xo

The Rules:

  • Share who gave you this award to you with a link back to their blog (above).
  • Write down 7 random facts about yourself.
  • Give this award to 15 other bloggers.
  • Let them know they’ve won.
  • Pop the award on your blog.

7 random facts about me…

  • My new favorite show is Six Feet Under. I recently began watching it through Netflix. Can’t believe I never watched it before. I’m a big Dexter fan, too (watched Dexter before ever watching Six Feet Under), so it’s kind of strange seeing Michael C. Hall in a different role. He’s a great actor…and it helps that he’s cute. πŸ˜‰ I get addicted to tv shows and end up watching every season, every episode in a short period of time.
  • I grew up in Amish country, but no I’m not Amish. My great-grandparents were Mennonites though. Have you ever eaten Amish food? Mmmm. I loved living in the country. I live in a pretty big city now, and it’s cool…but to raise a family, I’d like to move out to the country where it’s peaceful.
  • I’ve never had a broken bone. Up until my recent Laparascopic surgery, I had never had anything serious happen or been in the hospital – or even been to the ER (Oh, except for my tattoo that was infected 1 month prior to that surgery).
  • My hair was actually way curlier than it is now, when I was younger. Can you imagine? It was nearly an Afro puff back then. I used to straighten it all the time because kids called me poodle! And it used to be naturally blonde – and I mean totally blonde.
  • I love animals. I want more, but we already have 3 cats. I keep looking at pets online all the time though. I love craigslist.org and pet-finder.com. It’s fun to look πŸ™‚ I totally treat my kitties like they’re my babies. They are good cats though. Very well-behaved. I can’t stand leaving them when we go out of town, which isn’t very often anyway. I’ve grown more attached to them since we began TTC. (Andy is the same way towards them -it’s cute).
  • I loooove coffee — with caffeine, but it’s bad for me 😦 I especially love hazelnut creamer.
  • I used to travel around the country and see rock bands. My hippie Dad took me to my first festival when I was about 13. I was, and always will be, a hippie at heart. πŸ™‚ I used to always dress in hippie clothing and act a bit more wild and silly. I mean, it’s still me…I’m just less care-free. I have conformed and become more mainstream. I’m older now – turning 30 this year EEK! I can’t do it with my job and responsibilities.

As for 15 blogs to give this award to….I don’t think I have that many! I’d like to give this to my top commenters πŸ˜€ Also, I’d love to hear 7 random facts about all of you πŸ˜€

Here’s a pic of me and my BFF from about 10-11 years ago…I can’t remember what festival it was. I think we were in West Virginia.

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5

It doesn’t end here.

Today is the last day of National Infertility Awareness Week. Unfortunately, for those who suffer from infertility, it doesn’t end here. This is something we have to deal with on a daily basis. Month after month, 365 days a year, year after year. With each new person we tell about our disease, we either cringe at what they say or find comfort in their support. We have enough burdens to bear. I think it’s up to you, as friends and family, to use these tools we’ve provided this week to educate yourself. Find ways to support us, give us a shoulder to cry on, pray for us, think about what you say & how you say it, and remind us that you care. Even little things make a big difference. We will appreciate it so much, I promise.

Thank you so much to everyone who has participated this week, showed support, acknowledged my many Facebook and/or blog posts, and made an effort to understand & learn about infertility. I actually have 2 Facebook profiles. One is my “regular” Facebook profile, with friends in real life, family, coworkers, high school and college classmates, acquaintances, etc. The other is my “TTC” Facebook profile, with mostly people I know from twoweekwait.com (for privacy). Although, I have added a few choice friends from real life who understand infertility and don’t mind me talking about super private things like EWCM/BD/Pee sticks/etc (LOL). I used to have a public “TTC” page, but I removed it & prefer to keep things a little more low-key now. If you would like to be added to my private profile, let me know. πŸ™‚

The girls on my “TTC” Facebook profile have been amazing at showing their support for the cause. Some of them aren’t infertile, but they are very understanding and supportive. Love you! I love my bloggy buddies, too! You guys rock! πŸ˜€ Thank you all for your awesomeness.

I’m pretty disappointed and hurt by the lack of support from people from my “regular” Facebook profile though. I only had 6 people acknowledge my posts. SIX – that’s adding up the TOTAL of likes/comments for ALL of my posts. I guess that’s better than none. I felt kind of defeated and like the time and energy I put into my posts were sort of a waste. I was hoping to make more of an impact and do something important for the cause. My goal was to reach just a FEW more people – maybe people who haven’t heard much about infertility. I wanted more people to support the Family Act of 2011, which seriously only takes a couple minutes to do. I shouldn’t have set my expectations too high (even though I wasn’t asking for much).

I will try not to take it personally. It’s just that after living in this dreadful infertility hell for over 3 years now….I thought more people that I care about would be interested in what’s going on with me or how they can help. People in real life that I can connect with in person!! I’m letting them in – letting them read all of my thoughts and feelings here on this blog. Even if my family and friends in real life don’t care about NIAW, don’t agree with fertility treatments, or are unsure of what to say – they can at least acknowledge my journey and show ME support. ME as a person, going through something difficult. I even provided resources on HOW they can support me. If there was something important to them, it would in turn be important to me because I care about them. Maybe some of them aren’t too happy with me or don’t feel close to me because I let infertility interfere with many of my relationships…I’m sorry, I really am…I’m trying to work on that currently. This is a way we could bond though. Anyway yes, I’m a little bit offended. It will pass though, and we’ll go on like we always have. Of course I still care for them, I’m just a little upset at the moment and needed to vent πŸ™‚

The important links once again:

  • Resolve.org: This site offers support to infertile couples, but it also provides resources & info for EVERYONE (not just infertile couple, but also family and friends)

  • Infertility Etiquette: This is a list of things you should or should NOT say to infertile people & ways you can support them.

  • Myths and Facts: Things you might not know about infertility and nice tidbits that clear up the misinformation out there.

  • Infertility 101: The basic facts about infertility.

  • The Family Act of 2011: This only takes a couple of minutes to do. It can help us afford fertility treatments. Here is my post about it – I added direct links to the Senators and Representatives.

7

Ever wondered what to say (or what not to say) to your infertile friend?

I am completely open with everyone about what I’ve been through. I actually recommend sharing your story with other — if and when you feel comfortable doing so. People may surprise you with how supportive and kind they can be. Some people though, as well-meaning as they are, come up with the most ridiculous things to say. It can really hurt…even when you know they don’t mean to cause harm. I feel that, if people were open and shared their feelings about infertility, it might help others become more sensitive and aware of what is hurtful and what is supportive. I know that many things surrounding infertility are private, so that is completely understandable. It has to be on your comfort level. No one should be embarrassed, feel guilty, or suffer in silence though.

Here is an awesome list of things to say – and NOT say to those suffering from infertility. I picked out the ones that apply most to me. Feel free to print this off and share it with others. For the entire list click here and more info, visit Resolve.org.

**I hope no one will feel bad or guilty for saying something wrong to an infertile couple. Infertility is such a touchy subject that most people don’t know what’s right/wrong to say. I can’t say I really blame people, when they have no idea. (Except for the complete idiots who say CRUDE things).

Infertility Etiquette

Chances are, you know someone who is struggling with infertility. More than seven million people of childbearing age in the United States experience infertility. Yet, as a society, we are woefully uninformed about how to best provide emotional support for our loved ones during this painful time.

Infertility is, indeed, a very painful struggle. The pain is similar to the grief over losing a loved one, but it is unique because it is a recurring grief. When a loved one dies, he isn’t coming back. There is no hope that he will come back from the dead. You must work through the stages of grief, accept that you will never see this person again, and move on with your life.

The grief of infertility is not so cut and dry. Infertile people grieve the loss of the baby that they may never know. They grieve the loss of that baby who would have had mommy’s nose and daddy’s eyes. But, each month, there is the hope that maybe that baby will be conceived after all. No matter how hard they try to prepare themselves for bad news, they still hope that this month will be different. Then, the bad news comes again, and the grief washes over the infertile couple anew. This process happens month after month, year after year. It is like having a deep cut that keeps getting opened right when it starts to heal.

As the couple moves into infertility treatments, the pain increases while the bank account depletes. The tests are invasive and embarrassing to both parties, and you feel like the doctor has taken over your bedroom. And for all of this discomfort, you pay a lot of money.

A couple will eventually resolve the infertility problem in one of three ways:

They will eventually conceive a baby.

They will stop the infertility treatments and choose to live without children.

They will find an alternative way to parent, such as by adopting a child or becoming a foster parent.

Reaching a resolution can take years, so your infertile loved ones need your emotional support during this journey. Most people don’t know what to say, so they wind up saying the wrong thing, which only makes the journey so much harder for their loved ones. Knowing what not to say is half of the battle to providing support.

Don’t Tell Them to Relax

Everyone knows someone who had trouble conceiving but then finally became pregnant once she “relaxed.” Couples who are able to conceive after a few months of “relaxing” are not infertile. By definition, a couple is not diagnosed as “infertile” until they have tried unsuccessfully to become pregnant for a full year. In fact, most infertility specialists will not treat a couple for infertility until they have tried to become pregnant for a year. This year weeds out the people who aren’t infertile but just need to “relax.” Those that remain are truly infertile.

Comments such as “just relax” or “try going on a cruise” create even more stress for the infertile couple, particularly the woman. The woman feels like she is doing something wrong when, in fact, there is a good chance that there is a physical problem preventing her from becoming pregnant. <—– This one resonates with me.

Don’t Minimize the Problem

Failure to conceive a baby is a very painful journey. Infertile couples are surrounded by families with children. These couples watch their friends give birth to two or three children, and they watch those children grow while the couple goes home to the silence of an empty house. These couples see all of the joy that a child brings into someone’s life, and they feel the emptiness of not being able to experience the same joy.

Comments like, “Just enjoy being able to sleep late . . . .travel . . etc.,” do not offer comfort. Instead, these comments make infertile people feel like you are minimizing their pain. You wouldn’t tell somebody whose parent just died to be thankful that he no longer has to buy Father’s Day or Mother’s Day cards. Losing that one obligation doesn’t even begin to compensate for the incredible loss of losing a parent. In the same vein, being able to sleep late or travel does not provide comfort to somebody who desperately wants a child. <—- Another one that I hear A LOT.

Don’t Say There Are Worse Things That Could Happen

Along the same lines, don’t tell your friend that there are worse things that she could be going through. Who is the final authority on what is the “worst” thing that could happen to someone? Is it going through a divorce? Watching a loved one die? Getting raped? Losing a job?

Different people react to different life experiences in different ways. To someone who has trained his whole life for the Olympics, the “worst” thing might be experiencing an injury the week before the event. To someone who has walked away from her career to become a stay-at-home wife for 40 years, watching her husband leave her for a younger woman might be the “worst” thing. And, to a woman whose sole goal in life has been to love and nurture a child, infertility may indeed be the “worst” thing that could happen.

People wouldn’t dream of telling someone whose parent just died, “It could be worse: both of your parents could be dead.” Such a comment would be considered cruel rather than comforting. In the same vein, don’t tell your friend that she could be going through worse things than infertility.

Don’t Say They Aren’t Meant to Be Parents

One of the cruelest things anyone ever said to me is, “Maybe God doesn’t intend for you to be a mother.” How incredibly insensitive to imply that I would be such a bad mother that God felt the need to divinely sterilize me. If God were in the business of divinely sterilizing women, don’t you think he would prevent the pregnancies that end in abortions? Or wouldn’t he sterilize the women who wind up neglecting and abusing their children? Even if you aren’t religious, the “maybe it’s not meant to be” comments are not comforting. Infertility is a medical condition, not a punishment from God or Mother Nature.

Don’t Be Crude

It is appalling that I even have to include this paragraph, but some of you need to hear this-Don’t make crude jokes about your friend’s vulnerable position. Crude comments like “I’ll donate the sperm” or “Make sure the doctor uses your sperm for the insemination” are not funny, and they only irritate your friends.

Don’t Complain About Your Pregnancy (**This one I’m pretty good at dealing with…I mean there will always be complaining to SOME degree – which is understandable. It’s the over-the-top complaining that bothers me.)

This message is for pregnant women-Just being around you is painful for your infertile friends. Seeing your belly grow is a constant reminder of what your infertile friend cannot have. Unless an infertile women plans to spend her life in a cave, she has to find a way to interact with pregnant women. However, there are things you can do as her friend to make it easier.

The number one rule is DON’T COMPLAIN ABOUT YOUR PREGNANCY. I understand from my friends that, when you are pregnant, your hormones are going crazy and you experience a lot of discomfort, such as queasiness, stretch marks, and fatigue. You have every right to vent about the discomforts to any one else in your life, but don’t put your infertile friend in the position of comforting you.

Your infertile friend would give anything to experience the discomforts you are enduring because those discomforts come from a baby growing inside of you. When I heard a pregnant woman complain about morning sickness, I would think, “I’d gladly throw up for nine straight months if it meant I could have a baby.” When a pregnant woman would complain about her weight gain, I would think, “I would cut off my arm if I could be in your shoes.”

Stay sensitive to your infertile friend’s emotions, and give her the leeway that she needs to be happy for you while she cries for herself. If she can’t bring herself to hold your new baby, give her time. She isn’t rejecting you or your new baby; she is just trying to work her way through her pain to show sincere joy for you. The fact that she is willing to endure such pain in order to celebrate your new baby with you speaks volumes about how much your friendship means to her.

Don’t Treat Them Like They Are Ignorant

For some reason, some people seem to think that infertility causes a person to become unrealistic about the responsibilities of parenthood. I don’t follow the logic, but several people told me that I wouldn’t ache for a baby so much if I appreciated how much responsibility was involved in parenting.

Let’s face it-no one can fully appreciate the responsibilities involved in parenting until they are, themselves, parents. That is true whether you successfully conceived after one month or after 10 years. The length of time you spend waiting for that baby does not factor in to your appreciation of responsibility. If anything, people who have been trying to become pregnant longer have had more time to think about those responsibilities. They have also probably been around lots of babies as their friends started their families.

Perhaps part of what fuels this perception is that infertile couples have a longer time to “dream” about what being a parent will be like. Like every other couple, we have our fantasies-my child will sleep through the night, would never have a tantrum in public, and will always eat his vegetables. Let us have our fantasies. Those fantasies are some of the few parent-to-be perks that we have-let us have them. You can give us your knowing looks when we discover the truth later.

Don’t Push Adoption (Yet)

Adoption is a wonderful way for infertile people to become parents. However, the couple needs to work through many issues before they will be ready to make an adoption decision. Before they can make the decision to love a “stranger’s baby,” they must first grieve the loss of that baby with Daddy’s eyes and Mommy’s nose. Adoption social workers recognize the importance of the grieving process. Grieving the loss of the biological child they will never have.

You do, indeed, need to grieve this loss before you are ready to start the adoption process. The adoption process is very long and expensive, and it is not an easy road. So, the couple needs to be very sure that they can let go of the hope of a biological child and that they can love an adopted baby. This takes time, and some couples are never able to reach this point. If your friend cannot love a baby that isn’t her “own,” then adoption isn’t the right decision for her, and it is certainly not what is best for the baby.

Mentioning adoption in passing can be a comfort to some couples. (The only words that ever offered me comfort were from my sister, who said, “Whether through pregnancy or adoption, you will be a mother one day.”) However, “pushing” the issue can frustrate your friend. So, mention the idea in passing if it seems appropriate, and then drop it. When your friend is ready to talk about adoption, she will raise the issue herself.

So, what can you say to your infertile friends? Unless you say “I am giving you this baby,” there is nothing you can say that will erase their pain. So, take that pressure off of yourself. It isn’t your job to erase their pain, but there is a lot you can do to lesson the load. Here are a few ideas.

Let Them Know That You Care

The best thing you can do is let your infertile friends know that you care. Send them cards. Let them cry on your shoulder. If they are religious, let them know you are praying for them. Offer the same support you would offer a friend who has lost a loved one. Just knowing they can count on you to be there for them lightens the load and lets them know that they aren’t going through this alone.

Remember Them on Mother’s Day

With all of the activity on Mother’s Day, people tend to forget about women who cannot become mothers. Mother’s Day is an incredibly painful time for infertile women. You cannot get away from it-There are ads on the TV, posters at the stores, church sermons devoted to celebrating motherhood, and all of the plans for celebrating with your own mother and mother-in-law.

Remember your infertile friends on Mother’s Day, and send them a card to let them know you are thinking of them. They will appreciate knowing that you haven’t “forgotten” them.

18

Don’t ignore [our struggles with] infertility

The theme of NIAW (National Infertility Awareness Week) is “Don’t ignore infertility”.

  • Don’t ignore the signs of infertility.
  • Don’t ignore each other.
  • Don’t ignore people with infertility.
  • Don’t ignore the pain.

A lot of people don’t realize what we actually go through and what our daily struggles are like. I don’t blame anyone because not many people talk about it. Especially the gritty details. Let’s not ignore it anymore though. It’s not fun making a baby. The fun has been taken away from us. Living with infertility is painful, disappointing, time-consuming, and expensive. Infertility affects our relationships, bank accounts, sex lives, physical and emotional well-being, jobs, and the ability to lead a normal life. This is very personal, but I’m not embarrassed….I’d like to give you an in-depth and very truthful peek into my life over the past couple years…

  • 40 or more visits to see a specialist (Reproductive Endocrinologist). For a year and a half, I traveled a 4-hour round trip almost every single month (usually twice a month) to see my doctor. I even had to travel tout of state to see one of my specialists.
  • 20 + blood draws. At least on one occasion, I had 22 vials of blood taken at once. My arms have been bruised like a junkie, and my veins might not last.
  • Approximately 20 times, I’ve had my legs in the stirrups and had vaginal ultrasounds. Any privacy or modesty I had is gone.
  • 1 HSG (hysterosalpingogram). This is a procedure done to visualize the uterus and fallopian tubes, to check for blockages or abnormalities. It’s basically a very uncomfortable X-Ray. It can feel quite painful to have the dye injected into a place where it’s not supposed to be, along with a catheter poking up into my uterus.

  • 1 Laparoscopic surgery. This surgery is done to check for abnormalities in the tissue and structure of the uterus and to repair whatever is found. They went in through my belly button, as well as a spot around my pelvic bone. They found a lot wrong, and had to remove/repair quite a few things. I woke up in the worst pain of my life, even with all of the drugs. I had to be given IV morphine a couple of times, but it only dulled the pain. I felt sick and in pain for several days. I was barely able to eat, sleep, or move. I still have scars.
  • 5 years off of birth control, over 3 years of trying to conceive, 20 or more cycles trying naturally with no treatment, 9 cycles with Clomid (oral fertility drug), 7 expensive injectible cycles (lots of shots), and 4 cycles with Femara (another oral drug). I’ve also taken Dexamethasone (an oral steroid), progesterone (vaginal suppositories), hcg injections, estrogen tablets, and Lovenox injections (a blood thinner) several times. The side effects are not fun at all. Hot flashes, headaches, bloating, mood swings, a bruised, nasty looking belly where the injections go, increased appetite = weight gain, and signs that mimic pregnancy (which really messes with your head).

  • About 8 supplements/vitamins taken everyday. Sometimes it feels like I live on pills and other drugs.
  • 6 inseminations. This is a procedure called IUI (Intrauterine insemination) where a sperm sample is provided by my husband and injected via catheter into my cervix. I never imagined such a clinical, sterile way to try to make a baby. Talk about sucking the romance out of your sex life and baby-making.
  • 2 attempts with IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization). No, it doesn’t always work on the first or even 2nd try. Sometimes it doesn’t work at all, for certain people. This procedure is even more clinical and unnatural than IUI. Eggs are retrieved from my ovaries, placed in a petri dish, and fertilized with my husband’s sperm sample. The egg retrieval process is quite painful. Imagine a needle sticking your ovaries over and over, then having them feel humungous, swollen, and painful for a week. The doctors watch for the fertilized eggs to grow into embryos, then implant them back into the uterus. It is a lengthy, extremely expensive process with lots of heavy duty fertility drugs. Emotionally, hormonally, and physically – it’s pure torture, especially if it doesn’t work.
  • 9 early miscarriages (or “chemical pregnancies”). I’ve never seen a baby via ultrasound, experienced hearing the heartbeat, or made it far enough to know what it’s actually like to be pregnant. Early losses are quite devastating though. To get so close to experiencing my dream of motherhood, and then to have it swiftly taken away from me…it hurts. There’s no comfort in knowing I can “get pregnant” when there’s not any reason to think that I will “stay pregnant”.

  • I’ve missed a lot of work. I nearly got fired from one position, but I quickly found another position with different hours to accommodate all of my doctor appointments. I didn’t make as much money though. Currently, I’m in another new position, with better pay and hours, where my boss is very supportive and lenient with my situation (thank God).
  • We’ve spent thousands of dollars. I don’t even want to tally it all up and tell you. IVF alone is about $15,000 a pop. My insurance covers a small portion, but I’m still trying to pay off some of the testing and procedures I’ve had. We have sacrificed so much. We still rent our home because it’s impossible for us to become homeowners right now.

This is the truth, and this is what I live with. This is NOT unique to me, nor is my journey any worse than other people struggling with infertility. My relationships are lacking. I don’t feel like socializing much of the time. My husband suffers, too. Everyone has what I don’t have – kids. I feel fat and uncomfortable. It’s difficult to get out of bed and go to work everyday. Sometimes it’s hard to concentrate and be motivated with everything going on.

It goes on and on, with no end in sight. How would you feel, all pumped up on hormones and having miscarriages and extreme disappointments all the time? Even so, I carry on with HOPE. I do my best to take breaks and try to relax. I pick myself up (with the help of my amazing support system) and keep going. My strength and faith waiver at times but gets me through. I have so much love already for my future child(ren) that I will continue on and do whatever it takes.

From Resolve.org: Infertility 101 & About NIAW (National Infertility Awareness Week)