Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Trouble With Never

Something amazing happens when women get together and support each other, and today is no different. To celebrate National Infertility Awareness Week, and to launch Justine Brooks Froelker's new book The Mother of Second Chances on April 17th, I am participating in her blog tour. Five weeks of 25 women sharing their stories surrounding infertility and loss. Together we are educating and inspiring others to come out of the shadows of infertility, and know they are supported and loved.

Yesterday on her blog, Jessica shared her story, today I'm sharing mine, and tomorrow you can check out Meaghan's post at My Beautiful Crazy. Please participate by sharing these posts! Share your stories with the hashtags: #NAIW #infertility and #EverUpward.

                 Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 15.27.25

Without further ado, here's my post for today:

I’ve spent a good deal of my life speaking and thinking in absolutes. Yes and no. Black and white. Never and forever. This thing or that thing. It’s just how I’m built.

Sometimes this quality is helpful. For example, as a teen when I was rapidly falling in love with every single male in my high school, my tendency toward absolute thinking was helpful. Does this guy in the Nike hat that I fell in love with in 3rd period even know who I am? Nope. Well, then it’s not meant to be. On to the next. At other times, absolutes can be a problem. Husband is late coming home from work? Well, clearly he has been in a car accident and is lying dead on the side of the road. You can see the issues this type of thinking can create.

Okay, so what does this have to do with infertility? Trust me, I’m getting there.
When I graduated college and began my journey into true adulthood, there were things I was absolutely dead sure about. One of them was family planning. The resolute part of myself decided that I would A) be married by age 26 and B) have at least two of children, maybe even three if my body bounced back, by the age of 31. (No, I wasn’t vain at all.) In retrospect, the arrogance of this whole “plan” still infuriates me. The fact that I thought I had any control of any of the items on the checklist is sickening to me. But, you know what they say about hindsight.
Anyways, this whole egotistical I-am-in-control-of-my-life family plan thing was reliant upon one thing: marrying my high school boyfriend. I’ll let you guess if that worked out. Spoiler alert: It did not work out.
So there I was, 26.8 years old and hit with the realization that my high school boyfriend was not, in fact, marriage (or father) material. I had a dilemma. The clock on my absolute, dead set, never-going-back family plan was going to run out. I was back at the starting gate.
I began to re-evaluate all of the things I was so absolutely sure about. I clearly was not going to hit my marriage goal, and by association, my child plan was looking bleak as well. Thankfully, I met my husband and we were engaged and married within seven months (that’s another story, and it’s a good one so look for that one of these days). My husband had two children of his own, so I became a stepmother at the age of 27. AHA! My child plan was back on track! Yes, a little amended because they weren’t biologically mine, but no biggie, I could still have one of my own easily.
And then life said let me just stop you right there.
The reality of infertility hit at 30. And it hit hard. Not only was I infertile, but the doctors didn’t – and still don’t – know why I couldn’t get pregnant. We began treatments at age 30, so if all went well, I could still have a baby by 31 and stick to my plan.
Somewhere deep inside, the absolute part of my brain was beginning to deteriorate. It was still holding strong, but the walls were weakening.
One other thing I am sad to admit to you is the absolute certitude that I believed I would never, ever, ever, go through IVF. Not even when we began fertility treatments did this conviction change in my mind. IVF was a weird, science-y thing that rich people did when they turned 45 and still wanted kids they couldn’t have naturally. I would never need that. Some injections and pills would take care of everything. Okay and maybe if the pills didn’t work I’d consider that whole turkey baster IUI thing. But why even think about that? Things would never get that far.
Never.
And once again, life said hold my beer and watch this.
Three years, two failed IUI’s, a rapidly dwindling bank account, 33 candles on my birthday cake, and still no baby. No more certainty. I was free falling into an abyss that I couldn’t escape.
“Never” had taken on a whole new meaning. Rather than thinking about all things I would never do to have a baby, I was thinking of all the things I absolutely would do to make it happen. Life had, in the immortal words of Missy Elliott, put my thing down flipped it and reversed it. And in the end, the part of me who would never ever go through IVf...went through IVF.
This is the trouble with absolutes. The trouble with never. This life and this universe really aren’t interested in what you’ve decided you will never and can’t ever do. At the end of the day, never is always possible, and we short change ourselves when we decide it isn't. We limit our potential and our progress. No, I didn’t enjoy the process of Clomid and IUI’s and injections and tests and IVF. But…I also wouldn’t have met amazing doctors, nurses, accountants, pharmacists and some of my best friends if I hadn’t gone through it. I wouldn’t have my son if I kept firm to my never. I wouldn’t have met others just like me and just like you. 
As an infertile who has come out the other side, I am done with never. I am done with telling anyone, including myself, what can never happen. And yes, I know there are those of you out there who truly are not able to have children of your own, or even through adoption or fostering. I still encourage you to rid yourselves of never, because we simply do not know where life is going to take us next. It could be somewhere we didn't expect.
Lastly, despite my good-bye to never, let’s not kid ourselves, I’m still a black and white kinda gal, so the draw toward absolutes is still there for me. I choose to feed it in a different form. I am all about the always. I will always be there for those who need me, and I will always advocate for the infertility and infant loss community. I will always be there for my friends, even if they are still stuck in their never.
Always.
XOXO,










Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Poop on the Stoop

No need to protect your heart today, I'm steering clear of infertility and bringing you one of my greatest hits from my personal blog of yesteryear. I randomly thought about this particular story this morning and decided to share it with you because A) I'm not feeling well and new content is too much for me today. Also, B) I love this story. So enjoy!


Today I'm watching TV working from home, about to enjoy my heaping-helping-of-boring salad lunch. There's a knock at the door.

A quick check outside confirms the Fed Ex truck is outside my house. YES! A work package I requested has finally arrived! I open my door and step onto the porch, planning to kiss the delivery man. Instead I see this.

Whoa, dude. What did I do to deserve this from Fed Ex? I mean, I haven't seen the poop on a stoop prank since 1992. 

"Hey," I call to delivery man who is no longer getting a $25.00 bonus at Christmas. "What's this about?"

"Your package is actually out here by the garage," the man points behind him as he half-jogs back to his truck. "I decided to stay off the porch." he warns. "That raccoon must've gotten sick on your porch."

Um, what? I nod my head like I totally get what he's talking about (I do that a lot) and start to head back inside.

"Just so you know, it's also all over your the stairs," Fed Ex man says. He gives a little wave, puts the truck in drive and is gone.

I walk over to our front stoop, and see this...




WHAT IN THE NAME OF CHRIST ON A BICYCLE.


I hear a small noise that sounds like gragle-gurdlakc and it all suddenly becomes clear. Because right there, just to the right of the steps - is a raccoon. A totally scared (I'm assuming shitless) raccoon.

I decide he is a boy.

His eyes are wide and terrified. He's shaking like a blizzard is ripping his little body to shreds. I react lik a rational adult and instantly begin to sob. What do I do? Any raccoon that has made this much of a mess and isn't running scared from a human is either:

a) sick.

b) really sick

c) dying right in front of me and ohmygod I will never get over it if I hear a death rattle

I run back into the house and grab my phone to call my husband. He must've forgiven me for falling asleep at 8:15 last night because he answers right away. I inform him of what's happening and that I'm thinking of picking the raccoon up, wrapping it in swaddling clothes and feeding it some orange juice.

He tells me not to touch it and call Animal Control ASAP.

Cool, cuz I totally have that number on speed dial.

I hang up, stand there on my porch, continue to cry, and coo at the racoon, "it's going to be okay, little baby! Kimmy is going to get you taken care of. I won't let anybody hurt you, no I won't!"

(I will admit I also added, "it's okay that you took a poo poo on the steps. I know your tummy hurts, baby. Don't be embarrassed." Because, look, shitting yourself is humiliating, human or no.)

Anyways.

You would think there would be a general number to dial in the unlikely event a wild animal appears on your front steps with an explosive case of diarrhea. Well there's not.

When it's all said and done, I call five different numbers and all five inform me that yes, they will remove wild animals for $150-$220 depending on the size of animal and amount of force required for it to be removed. Let's just back the hell on up, a minute. Why do we need force to remove a raccoon that just needs a roll of Charmin Ultra Soft and some Pepto? Who are these sick people?

I am thisclose to calling 911 which will result in a leaked recording of my hysteria going viral on YouTube, when I look across the street and see my neighbor. He is also a cop. I ignore the fact that I'm in pajama pants and call him over.

Neighbor Cop is not one to be trifled with. He's bald and washes his car three times a week and therefore I assume he is also a badass. He wastes no time, hops on his cell and is all, "Dispatch, this is Officer Blah Blah and we have a potential rabid raccoon in Sector 9.654 of the suburbs."

But get this - even Neighbor Cop has to go through five different numbers to find the appropriate people to come get this poor animal. Shouldn't the correct animal control number be easy? Like 444 or something?

Meanwhile, Rork is still shitting himself.

(Yes, I named the raccoon. Shut up.)

The Neighborhood & Community Services Department for Animal Health & Public Safety (there's the problem right there. With a name like that, how can I expect them to have an easy phone number?) tells Neighbor Cop they will be by within the hour. In the meantime, don't bother Rork and don't touch him.

Neighbor Cop goes back into his house and I stay out on the porch to talk to Rork and keep him calm. I also completely forget his tummy problem and lovingly toss him some dry cat food in case he's hungry.

I won't lie to you. I sing to him. The only song I can think of is Michael Jackson's "You Are Not Alone." Rork's big brown eyes tell me he appreciates the gesture. Either that or they're telling me to leave him alone because he has some more crapping to do. It's a toss up, really.

Twenty minutes later the cavalry arrives. Rork is put into a safety cage in the Animal Control officer's truck. I'm told Rork probably just ate something that made him feel sick and very disoriented. They will monitor his behavior over the next few hours and if he is deemed safe, they will re-release him back into the woods.

(I'm also told to clean up the dry cat food in my yard unless I want more wild animals showing up on my front porch.)


In the end, I wave good-bye to Rork and am glad that he's going to be okay. 

I don't know why Rork decided to poo poo and vomit all over my front porch and find solace there. Maybe he knew what a lover of animals I am and that I'd find a way to make him safe, even if it meant calling every number in the tri-state area. Maybe he wanted to inspire me to write a catchy phrase that will help people remember the Animal Control phone number. I'll never really know the whole story.

Maybe it was fate. Maybe it was nothing. Maybe it happened to me because I'm a blogger and I reach (a few) people through this medium. And maybe just telling my story will help one or two other people to know what to do if this happens to them. 

Either way, I'm going to do my part. If you live in the Kansas City area, and a wild animal is injured or lurking around your house, don't waste your time on a worthless Google search. Call 816.839.2947 to reach the Animal Health & Public Safety office. 

Don't try and help Rork the Raccoon or Sophie the Snake or Bingo the Batshit Bear by yourself. Just be there for them in the best way you can. They'll appreciate it.

Now I'm off to clean up Rork's smelly mess. And I really don't mind.




XOXO,




Monday, February 27, 2017

Cuz you gotta have friends...but in one location



Is anyone still here? I mean, if you are, God bless you because you are LOYAL AS HELL. It's been a long time since I have posted. Like, longer than Cersei's hair used to be on Game of Thrones.

(Do you guys watch that show? Holy crap, it's good. But I'm getting off subject.)



Anyways, I've been going through a bit of a mid-30's crisis. I have too much stuff to discuss and many stories I want to share, but way too many avenues available to discuss them. There's just no consistency. 

Let me back up because that probably made zero sense.

Life ebbs and flows, as do the "stuffs" that make it up. I've always had a desire to share those stuffs. Maybe you aren't aware, but I have a total of three blogs that I've created and contributed to somewhat consistently over the years. The very first was a personal blog that I began nine years ago. I put my last name in the title like a moron and began to share very personal stories and anecdotes from my newly married life, my childhood, and everything in between. It was legit like therapy. Since I needed readers and Twitter was still a fetus, I opted to share the blog with every single living person in my life, including family members. Needless to say it was a decision that I regretted almost instantly. Apparently people do not like it when you tell stories about them - even if they are hilarious. 

(For the record, if anyone wants to write stories about me that are hilarious, bring. it. on. No one laughs at me harder than me.)

So after I had had enough "oh my God, why did you make me look so stupid in your blog?!" emails to last me forever, I let that lifestyle blog shrivel up and all but die. (But I'd be lying if I said I don't miss it like crazy. More on that in a minute.)


Next up was an anonymous blog creation that I co-founded with the help of my friend Tracy. We wanted to share our experiences and frustrations as stepmoms, so we developed www.redheadedstepmoms.com. We even bought the official web address so we didn't have to tack "blogspot" onto it. How pro is that?? We expected we'd be on Ellen within months. It didn't happen, but we connected with amazing stepmoms across the globe and shared experiences, stories, and laughs.

And then I decided I wanted to be a mother. But fate decided otherwise and made me an infertile. And for a talker like myself, it was difficult, because announcing "hey, did you know my blood results this month indicated I ovulated?" isn't well received at parties.

So I started this blog. Obviously you know that because you're reading it. It is the nearest and closest to my heart. In the same vein as the stepmomming blog, I made the initial decision to keep it real by keeping it real anonymous. But about a year in, I kicked it out of the closet and decided to own these very personal stories. Because what is this life even worth if you aren't owning what you go through? Going "public" with the blog was scary as hell, but never once have I regretted it.

What does this have to do with anything? 


Well to put it plainly - I have stories. Stories about infertility, stories about being a stepmom, and stories about my life as a girl who got huge boobs in 8th grade and once made diarrhea in her pants at a National Monument in Wyoming. These stories are all worth telling (in my opinion, anyway), and my readers seem to agree that they are stories worth reading. And so, the other morning while noticing how awful my dental floss smells after I use it, I had a random thought. Why do all of these stories have to be compartmentalized into three separate blogs? Do they really need to be?

Look, sometimes I wake up at 3:00 AM with a deep thought on how to be a better stepmom. Then one day in the middle of ordering a Chai Tea Latte with #skimmilkpleaseorIwillcutyou, I'll recall the most amazing story from when I was 15 and decided to start a wear-your-watch-on-your-ankle trend. Later in the week, I might remember a moment in my infertility journey that made me smile. The overarching theme here is that these are stories and thoughts that I want to share with my people. And that's the problem. All my people are in three separate places.

The long and short of it is, these are all my life experiences. And many of them have probably happened to you, too. Except pooping at a National Monument. I think that one is just me.


I once heard a pod-caster who was giving blog advice say, "find a super small niche and stick with it." I fully get what she was saying. Except I can't do it. I can't just talk about why my ovaries don't want to produce a kid on their own. I can't only discuss my stupid ex-boyfriend who once knocked his teeth out with a broomstick on Valentine's Day (yes, it happened). I can't solely whine and rejoice about being a stepmom. 

Life doesn't happen in carefully curated segments

Just call me Dr. Seuss. I am here and there and everywhere and eating green eggs and ham with feet in my shoes, steering myself in any direction I choose. I am all of these crazy things at all times of the day, and knowing me and reading about me means knowing and reading about all of me.

Do you dig?

Are you still there?

I'm going to do something that sounds like a financial adviser's worse nightmare. I am going to un-diversify. Or de-diversify. I am going to combine, coalesce, conjoin, mingle and blend. All three blogs down into one. Just one.

From here on out, please find me here and only here at www.saltinthewomb.blogspot.com. Yes, it's listed as an infertility blog. But you will find that this blog contains stories from all walks of my *super interesting life. My fertility journey. My childhood. My husband. My marriage. My family. My job. My stepkids. My pets. My son. 


(That's a lot of "my's". I might have narcissistic personality disorder. Noted.)

Please feel free to follow along with me. You can even tell your friends. And yes, this blog is hardly anonymous. Because really, if I tell a funny story about you, it's because you did something funny. It's a compliment. 


(Also. I say curse words. The bad ones. So maybe don't read at work. Or do, I don't know your life.)

The final benefit of this culminating of blogs is that it culminates social media as well. Let's keep it simple. Email me at saltinthewomb@gmail.com. You can find me on Facebook here. Here I am being unfunny on Twitter. I'm not on the Gram yet with my blog because why, really. This seems like an adequate amount of coverage for now.

Lastly, I adore email and connecting with readers and other bloggers so please shoot me a note. About anything. Let me know if you wish I would discuss something that will help you stay sane. Nothing is off limits. Except cooking tips; my skills don't go further than ruining perfectly good chicken thighs.

We're all in this together!

XOXO,








*super interesting =  mildly interesting

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Cutting the Digital Cord: Why It's a Good Idea for Infertiles to Step Away From Social Media

The election is over and the holidays are on their way. A time for tradition, egg nog, and aggravating posts on social media:
  • Sooooo blessed to find out we are expecting our 4th child in January! Guess that super birth control pill didn't work after all. LOL!
  • Ugh, I hate being pregnant. Someone kill me. #notplanned #16andpregnant #MTV #selfie
  • Why would anyone ever adopt? I mean, there are so many precious babies out there that need homes! #adoption #IVFisaSin

Look, we all do it. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, blogs - it's how we stay connected. It's a convenient and voyeuristic way of seeing what is going on with friends and family and even perfect strangers across the globe.

But it can drive you crazy.

When I was in the throes of my fertility treatments, I often found myself tangled in the trap of social media. I'd be waiting for my umpteenth blood workup and hop quickly on my phone to keep occupied. I'd be happily reading ridiculous political posts and the occasional rant about bad customer service from a carpet cleaner, and BAM, there it would be. Pictures of my cousin's brand new baby. Mocking me. Laughing at me.

                                                     

It's enough to drive anyone batshit, yo. Unfortunately for infertiles, we're already halfway to crazy, so it basically drives us straight to the nut house in our bathrobe and curlers.

And so, after many hours of debating and thinking, I finally decided to do it. I suspended my Facebook account for three months. At the outset I was concerned about missing all the engagement announcements and "Happy Holidays from the Murphys!" photos that were sure to be abundant during that time. But in retrospect, it was exactly what I needed to do.

So if you're an infertile and you can't take one more post about Sally Jo and her kid having green diarrhea, allow me to bestow on you the 5 reasons you need to let social media go for awhile.

1) It's distracting you from what's important

You, my friend, have protocols and schedules to follow. You have medications to take and happy thoughts to be thinking. And while it's lovely to see that your best friend is pregnant for the third time, it isn't doing you any favors. It's taking your eye off the proverbial ball (the ball being a baby). Instead of focusing on your own pregnancy journey, you're now having the "WHY NOT ME??!!!" conversation in your head.

                 

Instead of logging on to Instagram, step away and go for a walk. Hell, eat a banana. Or, if you refuse to delete these apps altogether, considering hiding those people you know that are pregnant or just had a baby (trust me, I won't mind). Focus on yourself and your journey.

2) It's making you grumpy

How many times has your RE told you that keeping a positive attitude and a light heart is vital to the fertility process? Every time you see a post about a baby, your heart clenches. You plaster on a smile and pretend it's all good. Your body knows better. It can feel the tension and the anger.. It knows the reason you're snapping at your barista for failing to make a non-fat latte isn't because it's early in the morning. It's because your insides and your mind are in pain.

Your body is smart. It knows when you're lying to yourself.

3) Deleting social media might just improve your social life

Can you imagine how awesome your friends will think you are when you send them an email or a text to tell them happy birthday rather than a Facebook post? Or if you actually call them to see how the first day of their new job went? #friendoftheyear

When I first suspended my Facebook account, I didn't tell anyone I was leaving, I just went. Over the next few days, several people emailed or texted me asking why I'd dropped off Facebook. I explained that it was getting to be a bit much for me and I needed a break. And you know what? Not much changed. The people that I truly enjoyed following started to email me or text me more often. I didn't miss much of anything (especially those awesome political posts from random family members I barely speak to anyway). 

I found that if something was vitlaly important, and a person was special to me, they found a way to communicate their news. And I didn't risk a mental breakdown in order to hear about it.

4) Your husband/partner will feel special again

I am so guilty of checking my stupid social media when Hubs and I are eating. What a terrible, atrocious, rude habit. But guess what? Once I deleted those apps, I had nothing to "check" anymore. I just had him. One night at dinner he actually said, "Hmmm, something's different. Oh, I know. You haven't looked at your phone once."

We were suddenly having complete conversations without stealing glances at our devices. I felt more connected to him than ever. And really, when you're going through infertility stuff, feeling connected to the father of the child you're hoping to create is kind of a big deal. Attention must be paid.

5) No accidental advertisements

Twitter and Facebook and Google are smart to a fault. So if you've ever written an update mentioning the word "pregnant", chances are those sites think you're preggers. Subsequently, you will start to see ads for bottles, diapers and baby clothes in your Facebook feed or off to the side of your Gchat. These sites aren't trying to hurt you, but it's still a knife to the gut when you see an ads for 30% diapers.


                                

By unplugging those social media outlets, you once again start to take control of what you see. Remember, you can't scroll into an advertisement for breast pumps on Facebook if you AREN'T ON FACEBOOK.

*****

Bottom line- I'm not saying leave Facebook and Twitter and Instagram forever. Maybe keep one and ditch the others. I maintained a relationship with my Instagram the entire time I dumped Facebook and that worked for me. But protect your heart. Clean out the clutter that is keeping you from focusing 100% on making a baby. This is one of the most important things in your life and you don't want something as stupid as a tweet impeding your focus. After some time has passed and you feel like you can handle a rant about "Synthetic Babies" from your Aunt Ethel, consider coming back. 

And in the meantime...don't give up cool infertility blogs. :)

XOXO friends,






Friday, November 11, 2016

G Force: My Encounter with Celebrity Infertility Hero, Giuliana Rancic

Everyone seems to have a story about an A-list celebrity encounter. Your mom saw Oprah buying a hideous scarf at Hermes in Chicago. Your best friend totally stood next to that guy from Mr. Robot at Whole Foods in LA last summer. And your gynecologist went to high school with Paul Rudd's Mom.


But me? I have no celebrity story. No quirky tale I can whip out at an awkward Thanksgiving moment when the convo turns political. No cute story to tell strangers when our elevator gets stuck. Nothing. Nada.

Until now.

Amazingly enough, my A-list celebrity encounter happened last night, and in the process managed to make my whole infertility journey come full circle. I never even saw it coming. Let's back up.

A few weeks ago, I got a flyer in the mail that Giuliana Rancic was coming to Kansas City. You know Giuliana Rancic. She was the anchor for E! News forever, has her own wine and clothing line, and is married to the winner of the very first "The Apprentice", Bill Rancic. Oh, and she kicked breast cancer's ass and never has a bad hair day. She's basically a superhero.

The flyer said she was coming to town as the guest speaker for North Kansas City Hospital. They were promoting Club W, an organization that supports women through Wisdom and Wellness. (Go here to join Club W; it's amazing. And free. SCORE!)

Anyway, I saw the flyer and hyperventilated, then immediately texted my good friend and radio DJ extraordinaire, Jenny Matthews. I asked Jenny to be my date to this event because, let's be honest, Giuliana is our Holy Grail. If we were creating a celebrity squad, Giuliana would be President and CEO. Not just because she's pretty and has killer style (though those qualifications certainly don't hurt), but because of what she has done for the infertility community.

You see, Jenny and I are IVF warriors. Our three children (Jenny has 2, I have 1) are the result of countless hours of crying, testing, poking, prodding, wondering and waiting. Jenny's story is hers to tell, and you can read all about mine here on this blog, but the bottom line is, we have Giuliana in common. Giuliana went through the IF and surrogacy process for her son, Duke. She shared her story, and not just as a quick anecdote in a "10 Things You Didn't Know About Giuliana" glossy magazine story. Oh no. Giuliana and her husband Bill filmed her journey - from injections to conceptions - on their reality show, "Giuliana and Bill."

Big deal, you say. They had a reality show. Of course she told her story for ratings. 

Um, no.

Not even on my best day as an infertile did I ever wake up and think, "Damn, it'd be so great if there were a camera in my face right now." At no point did I stare at my swollen belly, rock hard with fluid and 26 eggs that would be retrieved in the most painful process ever and think, "This would be so fun for 854,000 peeps to watch. Sign me up!"

Infertility is pain. It is ugly. It is more tears than you knew your body could produce. It wreaks havoc on a marriage. And more than anything, infertility is the epitome of uncertainty. For Giuliana to tell her story without the guarantee of a happy ending is a) brave b) kind of insane and c) something to be celebrated. Besides, Giuliana was already a celebrity without the infertility angle. She could have easily just produced Duke at a press junket one day and said, "Oh, that baby? Yes, that's my son. Let's talk about my clothing line now." 

Instead, she made the decision to open her life, her marriage, and her journey (including breast cancer, eventually) to millions of women. Women like me who were watching her on television in the midst of our own failing fertility cycles. Women like me who watched her go to Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine in Denver and  thought, "Maybe they can help me, too." 

Because of Giuliana's story, I was inspired to not give up. I was inspired to walk away from my current RE, pick up the phone and call CCRM. Because of her I traveled 622 miles from home to a place that I feel put just as much effort into me as they did Giuliana. 

Lastly, because of Giuliana Rancic, almost two years ago, I was inspired to do something I never planned to do. I took a deep breath, singed into Instagram and Facebook, and shared a link to this very blog. No more hiding. I detailed the good, bad, and ugly of trying to get pregnant. The curse words, the sleepless nights, and my own seemingly endless uncertainty.

And like Giuliana, I was overwhelmed with the response. Friends emailed that were going through their first IVF cycle. People I hadn't spoken to in years reached out to ask about a medication or a procedure. I heard sad stories of miscarriages and failed IUI's. I heard happy stories about twins and triplets. I listened to stories of cautious hope and dwindling optimism. Some of those stories are still ongoing to this day. 

And so I knew I had to jump on the chance to see the person that helped me get to this point.

So, back to my celebrity encounter. Because my dear friend Jenny is in radio, she was able to secure an interview with Giuliana prior to her speech. I was so happy for Jenny. She was going to meet our hero and I was going to live through her vicariously. Maybe she'd get me an autograph.

And then Jenny said I could come along.

And I died and the story ended.

No, not really, but close. 

Last night Jenny, myself, and our friend Shaylee (who also idolizes Giuliana) found ourselves in a small conference room at the Embassy Suites. And there, less than 15' away, was Giuliana, answering questions from several journalists in Kansas City. We were the last to go.

Jenny could have easily just sat me in a corner and been like, "Kim, you stay here and be quiet like a good girl, please." But she took my hand, stood me up and said, "You have earned the right to tell this woman what she means to you. You're coming with me."

And just like that, we sat down with our hero, Guliana Rancic. (Can I just tell you that Giuliana actually got up and rearranged the lighting so we'd all look better? The woman is a beast.) She smiled at us, a small black eye from a bounce house incident with her son peeking out from beneath her expertly applied makeup. And then she said, "Okay, let's do this!"

I think I wet my pants.

Jenny, being the pro she is, asked wonderfully poignant and professional questions. I, on the other hand, instantly morphed into Tommy Boy with my pretty little pet.

                                         


I fumbled words, made weird faces, and at one point practically leapt across the table to shove a picture of my son in Giuliana's face. Of course, she was completely gracious and as you'll see, handled my ridiculousness with the utmost poise. She was sweet, attentive, and charismatic. All the things she is on TV, she is in real life.

As Jenny and I say now, it was one of the top 5 moments of our lives.

Let me reiterate that this wasn't about her being a celebrity. Sure, that part was fun. At the end of the day, this was about her being a celebrity that put her voice and her platform to good. To talk openly about something that as recently as even 5 years ago was considered "taboo". In some places, it still is. But because of this amazing woman, I felt strong enough to tell my friends, family and clients what I was going through.

So, Giuliana, thank you. Thank you for handling my questions with a smile, for not running away after glimpsing my insanity, and for helping to make my son a reality. I owe you more than you'll ever know. 

A-list celebrity story? Level: Pro

Here's the taped interview, courtesy of Jenny and SheKCLifestyle:


      


Here's me and G (with her expert lighting arrangement):

                                        




And here's the picture I showed her of my son and my very handsome hubby:




XOXO,


Friday, October 7, 2016

Underplayed: Why My Son Didn't Get A First Year Birthday Party, and Why I'm Okay With It

My son turned 1 last weekend.


That's already a big deal in itself, considering it took us 4 years to get pregnant, and when we finally did, it was because of the miracle of IVF. (You can read more about that all over this blog).

So you might imagine that as his first birthday approached, I got more and more excited to throw a huge bash, celebrating his entrance into this world. 

And you'd be wrong.

I first noticed my lack of excitement about this rapidly approaching event about three months ago right after we celebrated his 9 month birthday. (And by celebrated, I mean I took a picture and put it on Instagram). I was, of course, ecstatic that Hubs and I had kept our son living and breathing this long with no noticeable  long-term defects from accidentally letting him walk headfirst into the dining room table. He was happy, healthy, and smiling. 

But a few days later, a friend asked me a very innocent question over lunch and I almost had a heart attack.

"Is there going to be a theme for his birthday party?" my friend asked politely as I felt my $12 salad slither down my throat. "I mean, I know you call him Bubbles sometimes. Maybe that would be fun? Who will be invited?"

On the outside I acted cool and calm. But on the inside?

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HOW had I not thought of this yet?  How on earth had something as big as planning how to celebrate THE DAY HE WAS BORN not even entered my thoughts?

I'll tell you why. 

Because I'm tired.

Because my whole life is this kid right now. 

Almost every waking thought I have is consumed with him. When I'm with him I'm thinking about him, and when I'm not with him I'm thinking about him. At work I can turn down the volume on the thoughts (because paychecks are nice and I love my job), but he's always there. Always. And when I bring him home from day care, my world goes like this:

Hold him, dress him, feed him, love him, talk about him, take pictures of him, change him, wash him, dry him, rock him, laugh with him, laugh at him, entertain him.

On repeat.

I'm not complaining. I'm really not. This is what I love. I love that I was lucky enough to have all of my energy consumed by this little person that my husband and I and a doctor and medical staff and technology created. I love that I smell him even when he's nowhere near me. I love that I can walk through Target and hear a baby cry 8 aisles down and not worry because I know that it's a diaper change cry and not a hurt cry. I love that I can say "no thanks" to a dinner  or party because it's bath night and nothing is more important. That's what this little man has done for me. And it is fantastic.

But there is just no more room.

There is no more room in my brain for planning a party. Or even buying gifts. Or making a cake. I simply cannot do it. 

Kudos to every one of you moms and dads that can do more. In all sincereity. Bravo! Brava! Bellisima! From the bottom of my heart, I am flabbergasted. I'm thrilled that you can make it happen. But I'm in a different camp. The camp that doesn't have the damn energy to hand-create Sesame Street veggie trays. Adorable as they are.


The idea of filling non-GMO, latex free balloons or carefully creating handsewn give-away bags made from organic burlap makes me break out in hives. At the end of the day, all I could manage was to give our son a gift (es, one), sing happy birthday, let him eat some sugary cake, and call it good.

And so we did.

Want to know something else? We didn't even wrap his gift. It was in a brown Amazon Prime box. I bet it was covered in germs. I didn't care. Because my son was sitting in front of me. There. Right there. I could touch his chubby hands without asking for permission. I could stroke his soft hair and admire the way it looks perfect in the autumn sun. I coudl kiss him and kiss him until he pushed me away with a stubborn "NO!" that used to be adorable. The fact that I could do all of those things is the gift. 

He won't remember. He won't recall if we toasted with $100 bottles of champagne or sipped a sort-of-expired glass of milk as we watched him eat cake. He won't remember gifts. He won't look back and regret that there weren't more party favors or that there wasn't a pinata in the shape of Elmo. 

But he will see the photos someday, and he will watch the video footage. And maybe he will hear my voice waver as his father and I sing him "Happy Birthday" for the very first time. He might even see the tears forming in my eyes as I watch him gleefully squish that first handful of yellow cake in his tiny fists.

I remember as a teenager watching "Steel Magnolias" and loving the scene at the end where little Jackson has his 1 year old birthday.

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That's what I wanted for my son and our family. Singing. Cheesy grins. Obsessive photo taking. (And no hats.)

And that's what exactly we got.


XO,



Thursday, September 15, 2016

Show Me the Money: The True Cost of Inertility By Someone Who Lived It

A few weeks ago, my husband and I hit a milestone. With the magic of automated checking account withdrawal, we made the final payment on our IVF loan.

Exactly 11 months to the day after our son was born.

Yes, that's right. We finished paying for the conception of our son 21 months after he was actually conceived.


Can I be honest with you? There are a litany of books/blogs/opinions out there that do a frankly sh*t job of preparing potential parents for the real cost of infertility.

Folks, it is real, legit money. And it is insanity.

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Many articles I have read cover fertility costs by keeping it real. Real vague. For example, if you Google "fertility cost", this is the first thing that pops up:

The average cost of in vitro fertilization in the U.S. is currently about $11,000 to$12,000. General infertility treatments such as ovarian stimulation plus intrauterine insemination, IUI are significantly less expensive than in vitro fertilization. However they are also significantly less effective.

If I had read this when I was starting treatments, I would have though, "Well hell, that's not too bad. I mean, yeah, it's some money, but that's totally doable!"

Unfortunately, that dollar amount is insanely misleading. It's like telling a pregnant woman, "Childbirth can be mildly uncomfortable. Check with your doctor to see if Ibuprofen can help you manage the pain."

I mean, c'mon. Let's get real here.

*Warning: the remainder of this post can be triggering. Protect your heart if you aren't in a place to hear about the yuckies of fertility*

It's true that in vitro on its own might cost $11,000-$12,000. But friends, there are so many steps to go through before you're even thinking about knocking on the IVF door. Let's check them off, shall we? 

Before you get to IVF you must experience (and pay for) the following:
  •  Unprotected sex for at least a year. That means a year of ovulation kits, pregnancy tests, extra vitamins that you find on Google, and random book purchases explaining why you aren't getting pregnant.
  • Visit an infertility specialist once you hit the year mark. A consultation may be covered by insurance, but then you have to actually have the baseline tests done on you and your spouse. Get ready to shell out a few hundred for that.
  • Next steps after baseline tests usually involve some sort of medication. Clomid, Letrozole, Femara. These bad boys aren't available at the Cheapo Depot (that store doesn't actually exist -but maybe it should). Many times insurance doesn't want to help pay.
  • Take steps to increase your chances for a baby. Maybe it's a special diet (cha-ching), maybe it's weight loss (hello, gym membership). Maybe it's to stop drinking alcohol and caffeine, which doesn't cost money, but might cost you some of your sanity.
  • After ovulation drugs and specialty diets don't work, you're onto more tests. Saline Hysterosonograms, HSG, Uterine Biopsy (OMG, pray you don't have this one). These can be hundreds of dollars each. And don't count on your insurance for them. They'll probably laugh at you.
  • If it's determined you have endometriosis, or you have cysts, there's a chance you might need surgery in order to move onto the next step. I didn't experience this, so I can't give you cost info or insurance coverage, but just know the possibility is there.
  • IUI is likely next. Here's where you're into 4-digit costs, depending on what drugs you're taking. Not to mention the ultrasounds/sonograms to keep an eye on those developing follicles.
  • Only one IUI? Not so fast, kiddo. Your doc will probably want you to do a few rounds, explaining that this is a lesser cost than moving straight onto IVF. So there go a few thousand more.
  • Ovulation medications, surgeries and IUI's are a no go. Now it's on to IVF. And now you can look at shelling out $10,000-$12,000. But really more like $15,000.

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In an effort to be fully transparent, I will share that when it was all said and done, grand totals to conceive and keep our little bundle of joy viable for nine months, landed somewhere between the $20,000-$22,000 mark. Insurance ended covered around $2,000 of it.

And that was only one round of IVF.

Which made me feel like I was doing this.

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I'm not sharing this to dissuade you from starting fertility treatments. And I'm not trying to scare you. Becoming a mom this way wasn't pleasant, but it was totally worth it. I simply want to help prepare you.

I hope you are fortunate and get pregnant early on. But if like many of us, you find yourself two years in without a pregnancy, it is vitally important to sit down with your partner and decide how much you are willing to spend to move forward. 

Infertility is a gamble, and just like at the poker table, you have to know ahead of time the dollar amount that will mean it's time to walk away.

I am one of the lucky ones. My husband and I have good jobs and a little savings. We have lovely and supportive parents who helped us with the costs of hotels when we were in Colorado. We got pregnant after one round of IVF. But we also had to get a loan from the bank. A big loan. And the payments started before the positive pregnancy test. Talk about unsettling. Writing a check every month to pay off a loan that might not even result in a baby. It's the worst.

I hope every one of you gets your bundle of love. I send good baby juju to each and every one of you. I don't want anyone to ever give up. But sometimes reality is just a big, fat, bee-otch. I want your eyes to be fully open going into that reality.

Be good to yourself, be good to your partner, and keep fighting for the baby you want and deserve. Just don't end up in Chapter 11 trying to do it.

XOXO, my beautiful friends.