life, love, and maybe babies

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. :)



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:





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.

                                      Image result for steel magnolias born on the fourth of july

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.



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.



Thursday, August 4, 2016

Bravo! How One Television Network is Changing the Public's Understanding of Infertility



Confession: I dig reality television. Don't judge.


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It started as just a way to blow off steam, a fun little escape into other people's problems. Over the years though, I have come to realize that yes, I truly enjoy it. The (usually manufactured) drama, the silliness, the pretty people in 5" stilettos throwing wine on each other. It's all very, very good.


Way to make me a lifelong viewer, Andy Cohen.

While I typically enjoy reality TV for its entertainment value only, I am recently discovering that it is more topical in my life than I ever could have imagined. Currently on the Bravo network alone, there are several infertility stories being told. My fave's are:


Flipping Out: Jeff Lewis and his partner Gage are pregnant through IVF/Surrogacy. Meanwhile, Jenni is hoping for a successful IUI experience to become pregnant with her second child.

Real Housewives of Orange CountyHousewife Meghan King Edmonds is utilizing IVF to become pregnant due to her husband Jimmy having had a vasectomy years ago. In addition, Meghan's cast mate Heather Dubrow went through IVF for three of her four children, and discusses her experience very openly on the show and her podcast, "Heather Dubrow's World."

I know you're all like, psuedo-celebrities having fertility treatments? Please. Why should I care?


I care. And I think you should too.


For one thing, look how far we've come. This side of 10 year ago, if you saw anything relating to infertility on prime time, it was a rose-colored glasses, punch-line driven version. Remember when Phoebe used IVF to get pregnant with her brother's triplets on "Friends"? She had the transfer, took a pregnancy test 5 hours later and had a positive result. Voila!


                                     


Cuz that happens.


While I'm grateful that shows like"Friends" brought infertility to the forefront, the reality (pun intended) is that a sitcom was never going to gain any real empathy from its target audience. Infertility was always just going to be an obscure plot device that resolved itself in 22 minutes so the main character could start wearing cute maternity clothes (that you could purchase right now) and joke about how she felt fat in a size 4.


The introduction of reality television is beginning to change that landscape. Yes it's still through the lens of an ultra affluent, magazine-glossy reality, but at least it's being represented. And if you think about it, infertility is the ultimate in guaranteed drama, which is what reality shows need. The sufferer can promise screen time of pain, suffering, and uncertainty. That's TV gold.


In a recent episode of "Real Housewives of Orange County", we watched as Meghan King Edmonds stood in front of a mirror, pinched a (nearly invisible) piece of fat on her stomach and injected herself for the first time with her IVF medication. It took her over 10 minutes to get the courage to do it.


                                


As an IVF survivor, I was instantly transported right back to my first injection over Thanksgiving weekend of 2014. As I watched Meghan's eyes fill with tears of happiness when it was over and she had done it, I felt mine well up too. In subsequent episodes, you hear Meghan discuss her stomach painfully bloating as the eggs grew, the agitation and raging hormones she's feeling - all of it. It's real, raw, and very necessary that people see how this works.


That doesn't mean it's all rainbows and puppies, though.


                                             


I do have a teeny, itty bitty problem with Meghan documenting her IVF journey through the lens of infertility. After all, infertility is a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse. In Meghan's case, her husband had a voluntary vasectomy years ago and therefore Meghan must use her own eggs and his frozen sperm to create a baby. 


Am I splitting hairs? Or cutting my nose off to spite my face? Probably. But still. The biggest issue I have in the portrayal of Meghan's journey is this.  


She didn't go through the hell that many women and men do to discover her infertility in the first place. 


Meghan knew from Jump Street that IVF would be her path to pregnancy. So to say she struggled with infertility  feels at best inaccurate and at worst a little exploitative. It downplays the emotional heartache that one must typically go through before even thinking of going the IVF route. (Unless there is more to the story than she is sharing, in which case, I would rethink my statement.


That doesn't mean I don't feel for her or am less proud of her. IVF is a tough, tough deal. And from what I've seen on the show, Meghan is basically going through it on her own, as her husband doesn't seem to show a great deal of interest in the process. I'm simply not a fan of her using the word "infertility" to describe her experience. 


But I'm just judging from behind the safe space of my computer and TV screen. I'd welcome a conversation with her, because in the end, she is bringing a very difficult and emotional experience to the masses, and for that I appreciate and love her for sharing.


Moving on...

Meanwhile, can I just say how much I love Jeff Lewis and his partner Gage going the surrogacy route to achieve their baby?
Watching Jeff and Gage give their specimens, choose their surrogate, and eventually wait to hear the results from the embryo transfer make me as weepy as the day I first heard we were pregnant.

When Jeff's bestie, Jenni, holds her legs up to her ears after an IUI, willing that sperm to get on up there and do its thing...I am transported back to my IUI. Sitting in a cold gown. Waiting. Wishing. All in the hopes that this time would be different.


So the net is, reality TV is making me a Crybaby McWeepy. But it's all good. If nothing else, infertility is getting exposure, however imperfect that exposure may be. After all, these are hundreds of hours of footage cut down to 42 minutes. But this format is giving people a small glimpse into the life of an infertile, and if that can create a little more understanding and empathy, I'm all for it.


I don't know if Jeff and Gage's baby will make it. I don't know that Jenni will ever get pregnant with her second baby. Maybe things will work out, and perhaps they won't. Maybe one of these stories will end with adoption, or a couple giving up altogether. But it's all being told. In HD quality.


And for now, I'm okay with that. It can only get better from here.


Let me know if you want any of my input, Andy Cohen. I'm always around.

XOXO,










Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Close to the Chest: Why Infertiles Don't Always Talk About Their Jouney

I get a lot of questions about my infertility journey (and for the record, I love getting questions). They usually range from "how long did it take before you went to the doctor?" to "how much did the medication injections hurt to take?" But every now and again, I get a question that's a little more difficult to answer. 

"Why are you just now sharing your story?"


Since I "came out" on Facebook, I have been so pleased with how many friends/colleagues/acquaintances have reached out to me to share their stories. It makes us all feel better and stronger knowing that someone else has gone through the same thing. They understand how difficult it is to publicly state what you're going through. But when someone who isn't in the infertility world asks me why I took so long to share (or why I did my blog anonymously at first), I sometimes find it difficult to explain.


But I'll try. Here are the top reasons (I feel) that women and their partners are too afraid or too intimidated to tell what they are experiencing.


1. It's not easy to admit


I've discussed this before, but even saying aloud "I think we might have a conception problem" is not easy to do. For one year or more, you and your partner have been having a great time trying for a baby - but after the 9 or 10 month mark, you start to truly wonder, could something be wrong? If you're like me, you went ahead and shared with your friends, family and dentist that you were trying for a baby, acting under the assumption that it would take three months max. So now, everyone stares at your belly every time they see you, or pays close attention to what drink you order on Saturday night. To admit to yourself and potentially a lot of other people that you might need help getting on the baby train is a huge downer. It takes the wind out of your sails, the air out of your balloon...you get what I'm saying.


2. You don't want to jump the gun


Once you've admitted to yourself that you need assistance getting knocked up, that's just the beginning. You still have to find a doctor, assess your health and your cycle, figure out what insurance covers - it's overwhelming and not something that you feel like screaming from the rooftops. Besides, maybe there's a quick fix, right? If you thought you had cancer, wouldn't you first rule out a nasty cold or the flu? You wouldn't go around telling people "I'm pretty sure I have cancer" without info to back that up. Same with infertility. There are a lot of tests to go through before you are truly considered an infertile. 

3. Fear of backlash/judgment


When I was about eight months into fertility treatments, we were nearing the point where IVF was clearly going to have to be the next option. I was feeling overwhelmed and wanting some support and thought about posting something on social media about my struggle. But randomly, two days later, I saw something on Facebook that was posted by a relative. It wasn't aimed at me, but as we all know, Facebook statuses go to everyone on your friends list...and that included me. This relative has very strong feelings about adoption and babies and I knew that. I just wasn't prepared.





Like I said, it wasn't specifically aimed at me, but it didn't matter. I was feeling vulnerable and scared about what we were facing, and this felt like a knife straight through the heart. I deleted my Facebook two weeks later for a period of two months. In addition, any inkling I had of sharing my story went right out the window. How many other people felt this way that I wasn't aware of? Who would I potentially offend by admitting we were considering IVF? It was certainly a deterrent to telling anyone else outside of my close circle.


A lot of infertile's face this. Religion, personal opinion, ignorance...people can be very quick to judge and throw down their opinions without thinking about how it affects the person going through it. 


4. We heard what you said about us or someone like us


This is basically a continuation of #3, and it happens more than you think. You're sitting in the break room, minding your business and pondering whether your most recent check to the fertility clinic is going to bounce, when you hear Carl from accounting say to the copy repair guy, "Did you know they're giving some chick on the 3rd floor two weeks off so she can go make some fancy shmancy science baby? I guess they're paying like, 40 grand to get pregnant. Hell, she can have one of my kids!"


Maybe Carl wasn't even talking about you. Maybe that chic on the third floor is someone you've never even met. Who cares? People throw their opinions around about things like IVF and infertility without stopping to think about who might be listening - and hurting. It's just one of those subjects that the general public isn't familiar with unless they've read an Octomom story. The education level surrounding infertility is super low...ironically, because not a lot of women talk about it. It's a vicious cycle - and round and round we go.


Keep in mind this is also true for infertiles who have dealt with miscarriage or still births. For some reason, the general consensus is you can have three days to recover physically and then, like, get over it. I mean, you were only 8 weeks. It's not like it's a big deal.


Wrong-o. Until you've walked in those shoes, shut your face.


5. We're afraid to jinx it


You will never meet a group of people as superstitious and paranoid as infertiles. Every cramp is a sign. Every song that comes on the radio with the word "baby" in it is a sign. Every billboard is a sign (literally and figuratively). We take it all very, very seriously. So it should come as no surprise that when it comes to our treatments, we don't want everyone to know. Even if we have that gut feeling that this time it's going to work, we're terrified that even whispering that little layer of hope out loud can make the whole house of cards come crashing down around us. Is it logical? No. Do we care? Not really. It's survival. And so we sit quietly, scouring the internet for signs that pregnancy occurred this month, freaking out every second of every day. But we don't dare tell you what we're doing. Because dammit, you might jinx it, and we just can't risk it.


So if you have a friend that's finally admitted to you that she is having a hard time getting pregnant, be honored. We don't usually tell many people unless we're sure we can get the support we need from you. Listen to our story, tell us it sucks and then offer to get us the biggest decaf mocha frappucino money can buy. What do you get out of it? A fantastic friend. Not to brag, but infertiles really do make the best buds. We're super patient, we rarely complain, and since we usually can't drink alcohol we can be your DD for the night. Win win for everyone.

XOXO,





Friday, July 1, 2016

you poke the mama bear, you get your arm ripped off



NEWSFLASH: I am not a perfect person. I make mistakes, I goof up, and I admit when I do.

However, I will not be bullied. Ever.

A few weeks ago I wrote this blog post about the mom whose son got into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. I defended her as a mom myself, who often worries that I might look away for just a moment and see my child harmed. I also defended her as an empathetic person, not just as a parent. I chose to believe she was a good mom, who had a strange twist of fate befall her and her family. 

From the 1200 words that I wrote, I have recently been called out for like, 28 of them. In the original blog post, I said:

"For those that aren't parents, let me just inform you. Kids are smart. as. hell. They know when a parent is distracted and they take full advantage. Can we offer a little kindness to this mom whose son is laying in a hospital bed and whom she had to watch be dragged by a 400-pound (innocent yes, but still 400-pound) gorilla? Can we have some compassion, for f*ck's sake?"

Several weeks have gone by since this blog, and last night I was surprised to find a comment on the post from a fellow infertile Twitter friend that read:

" 'For those of you who aren't parents'. What are those of us who aren't parents, fucking retards? Of course the Mommy Mafia came to that woman's defense because parents today are never accountable for anything."

                


                   
First of all - I'm reasonable. I write a public blog and spoke about a controversial subject. Surely there are going to be differences in opinion. However, this comment was uncalled for. To come in guns hot and use the phrase "fucking retards" is NOT okay. It is childish and belittling and demeaning to a group of (amazing) people who aren't here to defend themselves against your BS. Already you're not okay in my book if you are using phrases like this to make a point.

Secondly, my Dad always used to say, "engage your brain before you engage your mouth." This person would have been wise to heed that advise. If you want to comment on an opinion you disagree with, do it like an adult. Because guess what? On some level, the comment was correct. In hindsight, I should have worded that portion of my blog better. 

What I actually meant to say was that people who don't spend a lot of time with children may not realize how just crafty they can be. I shouldn't have said "those that aren't parents", because that's inaccurate. There are many people, parents or not, who don't realize how quick and crafty kids can be. (I used to be one of them.) But instead of making a point, the comment made this person look like a douche noodle.

But it didn't end there. 

In a maddening tornado of verbal diarrhea, this person then accused me of ignoring the infertility and childless community since having my son.  

                                         

Let's just break that down:

Unless you are monitoring my activity on Twitter (which is freaking scary), how can you possibly know who I am interacting with and who I am ignoring? Right, you can't.

Also, this is Twitter. I have a living, breathing, active life in the infertility community in the real world. I have friends struggling with infertility, all of whom I would drop anything for if it meant making them feel supported. I have offered my eggs to friends who cannot have children. I have offered my support to anyone and everyone I come in contact with. You, sir, have no right to judge my activity level in the infertility community. 

How dare you.

I love all my infertile friends on Twitter. I love my infertile friends who have become mothers and fathers that I've met on Twitter. I even love hot heads who  get brave behind a keyboard that are on Twitter.

That's right, I still love you. You clearly know not what you do. You are hurting and you are sad and you are angry, and you are lashing out. I forgive you.

To wrap up, my blog is not always going to be about infertility. I've made that clear by blogging about everything from ex boyfriends who give terrible gifts to gorillas. So, if you're coming to my blog expecting every post to pertain directly to you, you are in the wrong place. If you are looking for support specific to those that are not able to have children, there are places where you can get that. I am not obligated to provide it for you.

I am still going to proudly post pictures of my child. I am still going to post about the struggles I faced when I was infertile. I am going to post about the times I still wake up, covered in sweat, terrified that my child isn't real. That he is still just a wish and a dream and a "maybe someday". This blog is not about you. 

I am hear to offer my support to anyone who needs it. You can email me, comment on my blog, or reach out to me on Twitter and Facebook. I am here for you. I just can't be here for you in a way that you choose and dictate. Because that's like, communism. 

XO to all of you, fertile or not. 


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What a Zoo: My Unasked-For Take on Harambe and the Little Boy That Could


I'm taking a minute away from the infertility world to talk about the Cincinnati zoo incident from the weekend. I feel like we need to discuss this.

I don't usually take a stance on controversial issues because I typically have friends and family with their feet firmly cemented on both sides of whatever topic is trending. But something about this particular issue stuck with me.

First of all, I am a huge animal rights activist. Cecil the Lion being shot absolutely gutted me. I hate puppy mills. I think Pit Bulls are lovely creatures who are misunderstood and raised by the wrong people. I don't like to kill Lady Bugs. I would never wear real fur and I've tried 29 times to become a vegetarian. (I'm still working on that one. Bacon, people. Bacon.)

However...

This was a child's life. An innocent little four year old boy who was doing what four year old boys do. Crawling, playing, testing boundaries. He managed to, according to the zoo, get "under a rail, through wires and over A MOAT wall to get into the enclosure."

Ya'll, he Mission Impossible'd himself in there. (The CIA should maybe recruit him after this hubbaloo dies down.) He wanted in and he was going to find a way to do it.

Reports have varied, but it sounds like at the beginning of the incident, the gorilla wasn't interested in harming the boy. Until the crowd got involved and understandably started to freak out. Then it agitated the gorilla and he became more violent, as the video shows. 

(Also, what kind of asshole takes a video of this happening? More on that later.)

All this aside, the fact remains, that little boy was probably going to be killed. Was the gorilla doing what gorillas do? Yes, it is a wild animal. Does that mean zoo should have sat by and let the little boy die? No. This was a total and complete freak accident that probably wouldn't happen again if you tried to recreate it three million times. 

What bothers me the most is the public outcry toward the mom of this child. I don't know her, and I don't know her story, but let me tell you a little story about me this weekend. 

My son is eight months old. He's essentially immobile, except when he's in his walker that he loves more than me. While cooking lunch on Sunday, I opened the pantry door to get out some bread. As I shut the door, I notice it was resisting. I thought maybe one of the hinges was broken. It never occurred to me that in the 2.3 seconds I had the pantry door open, my son had waddled over in his walker and stuck his meaty little fingers in the opening of the door swing. I HAD NEARLY CLOSED THE PANTRY DOOR ON MY SON'S FINGERS.

Incidentally, he's fine. There were tears and for a solid twenty minutes, I contemplated hurling myself off a bridge while screaming, "I'm a terrible mother!" on the way down. The fact that the one thing I love more than anything was hurt because of me was almost too much. And this was just some bruised fingers.

What if I had been that mom at the zoo? What if my squirrely little son had wandered off while I took a moment to ogle at the splendor of an amazing animal in front of me? 

Well, apparently you aren't allowed to do that in this world. The mom from the zoo has become a villain by the peanut gallery of nincompoops. Apparently she should have a leash or string around her child at all times. Because that's not weird or anything. 

Look, I get it. People think she was being negligent because that's an easy dart to throw. I, on the other hand, tend to err on the side of humanity and believe that she thought her kid was right next to her. For those that aren't parents, let me just inform you. Kids are smart. as. hell. They know when a parent is distracted and they take full advantage. Can we offer a little kindness to this mom whose son is laying in a hospital bed and whom she had to watch be dragged by a 400-pound (innocent yes, but still 400-pound) gorilla? Can we have some compassion, for f*ck's sake?

And now, the gorilla. My heart aches that Harambe is gone. This is by and large my main problem with zoos to begin with. We take wild animals and put them in enclosures so we can stare and laugh at them when they throw their poop at us. Then we're surprised when something unexpected happens and the animals act accordingly to their nature?

DID NO ONE READ CHAOS THEORY BY IAN MALCOM?

There's loads of outrage about whether a tranquilizer should have been tried first, but as I understand it, tranquilizers can take time and cause extreme agitation. The zoo had no way of knowing what the gorilla was getting ready to do, nor did they have time to sit around and think about what the Twittersphere would think. They had to act. 

And that sucks. The whole situation is a gigantic hurricane of suck.

I'm so torn. As a mother, I want the zoo (or amusement park, or Chuck E Cheese or Sky Zone) to do whatever they have to do to keep my son safe, even if he is being a little asshole. On the other hand, I know this gorilla  did nothing wrong. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and none of it was by his own choosing. He is dead because we feel the need to capture him and watch him for our own personal pleasure. But at the end of all of this, with the crap circumstances being what they were, I don't feel the  zoo was wrong. My heart breaks for the zookeeper that had to fire the shot. He didn't take that job hoping to get the chance to kill an endangered, beautiful, amazing creature. And yet, here we are. There is no cut and dry answer. There is a lot of drilling down into the nitty gritty that could potentially be explored. But that won't happen. It's easier to call the mom a piece of trash, the zoo trigger happy and the kid a brat.

Welcome to the human race.

I feel like this, along with other stories like fatal gun shootings, will fade into the background as the next news cycle comes in. And that makes me sad. Harambe is gone, but the boy is alive. A little boy who didn't understand the implications of what he did will reap the repercussions of this for a long time to come.

As for the mom in this story, I hope she's the innocent I'm making her out to be. I hope it doesn't turn out that she's a terrible mother who leaves her kid in a hot car while she runs in to the post office to mail a letter. I hope she doesn't sue the zoo. I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt, because I hope someone would give it to me. I hope my daycare provider sees my child's swollen fingers today and knows that life happened yesterday. Messy, sucky, painful life.

Lastly, you better believe I'm not blaming the walker company or the hinge company for my son's injury. And he will still play in his walker. I'm not going to wrap him in plastic bubble wrap. 

Yet. 

Be kind to each other. Be kind to animals. And be kind to yourself.

XOXO,



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