Monday, March 28, 2011

Random thought of the day

I thought of a new word for infertiles: pregnancy virgins.

That's all.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The "soft" costs of infertility

It's tax season and all of the deductions and exemptions, like number of children and child tax credits, stick out like a sore thumb - another slam to the infertiles. I think that "attempts at having children" or "number of tried children (i.e. embryos)" should count for something, but alas they do not.

Sure I've spent more than I care to think about on fertility treatments, acupuncture, the many, many prescriptions, OPKs, HPTs, and other "hard" expenses. But, what about the "soft" costs?

I'm talking about the gallons of ice cream, Oreos, bottles of wine and margaritas. I can also add massages for stress, expensive purses bought as retail therapy, and interventional vacations to the tally.

While I'm at it, I can include therapy sessions, anti-depressants, minutes on my cell phone venting to my family and friends and days that I've taken off work to "re-group."

Adding all that up over a six-year period starts to be quite a big number. And, don't forget the cost of the loss of a dream, but that's a whole other story.

What am I forgetting or what "soft" costs have you incurred?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Perhaps I should clean more often

I bought my car back in 2004 - a Honda Pilot with 4-wheel drive. We bought it specifically because we were moving to Montreal and needed a snow-worthy vehicle and because we thought that we'd soon be filling it with bundles of joy (at the time, it was one of the safer SUVs on the market).

Fast forward to 2011 and I still have my car, but the only "kids" that grace it have four legs, and don't use car seats. Instead of having crushed cheerios scattered in crevices and sticky fingerprints on the doors, I have a lot of shedded yellow dog hair and noseprints on the windows.

Anyway, I only do a deep cleaning of my car about twice a year - once in the spring and once in the fall. And, as gross as it may sound, I have never cleaned out the contents of the console between the front seats. Today was the day.

In it, I found three decks of cards (from playing Rummy with my grandmother before she had a stroke last year), countless small bottles of hand lotion eternally encrusted with goop, hand sanitizer, a few water bottle caps and several old receipts (one dated 2006) and other miscellaneous notions - those things hold a lot more than you might think. And, at the very bottom laying among a permanent marker and a couple of corroding AAA batteries, were my old alcohol wipes and an unused and still packaged syringe from my IVF days.

What's strange is that I don't remember putting them there, and I'm wondering where the vial for the follistem or Ovidrel was (maybe it was in a cooler that's still wedged under my seat -- I didn't get that far in the cleaning process).

However, it was a reminder of how tethered I was to my meds and doctor's office - to the point of outfitting my car with the needed supplies. Perhaps I was afraid of veering off course and being lost for days without my meds or in a traffic jam and unable to be at home in time to do my carefully scheduled shot.

Again, for some reason, I have no recollection of putting that stuff in there. Maybe I blocked it from my memory for a reason.

Ever found your old fertility stuff somewhere strange - or even years later?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Puking and Pooing and Up All Night - My pets make me feel like a mom

I wrote a post similar to this last May when my dog ate rat poison. I was a nervous wreck, but remained cool, calm, and collected, calling the emergency vet and Animal Poison Control. Waiting up with her all night, listening to her breathe while she slept on the pillow next to me. She ended up being totally fine, and it shook my nerves to the core, but what really stunned me was how in control I was about the whole situation. I truly felt like a mom during those few days until I knew she'd be alright.

The stomach flu is running its vengence around town - my colleages have been out of the office taking care of their children who are up all night vomiting, nursing them with cold compresses and Gatorade. They come back to work, eyes bleary and downing coffee to keep alert.

When my darling yellow labs were not so darling a few weeks ago, I experienced the same thing. They found a way into the closet where we keep the dog food, and ate about 20 pounds of kibble. Their stomachs were noticeably larger and I was terrified that they'd get Bloat, a dangerous condition dogs can get from eating too much or too fast. And, so went a night of getting up every two hours to take them out to poo, and worrying about their intestinal track.

And, although we raced out the door to the backyard for their relief, we still found some unsavory piles in our brand new carpet pile.

On top of that, one of our cats (or perhaps more than one of them), vomited on our brand new chair. As I'm sure other moms can attest, thank goodness for ScotchGuard.

And, although we thought the closet and the food was secure. We were wrong. A day later was round two of pooping puppies.

So, after 48 hours of cleaning up my pets' bodily fluids, and being up for two straight nights, I know what it's like to be a sleep-deprived, poo and puke-cleaning mom.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The right way to invite an infertile to a baby shower

I'm probably preaching to the choir with this one, but perhaps you can cut it and send it to pregnant friends to avoid any akwardness on the topic of baby showers; for infertiles they feel more like monsoons.

It seems that there is often a lot of debate on this topic - infertiles who are very sensitive to fertile friends and fertile friends who think we're hypersensitive about baby showers. And, maybe we are, but I think for good reason.

I certainly don't expect my friends who are moms to tiptoe around me about their pregnancies, avoid telling stories about their kids, or not send me a picture of their cuties (Christmas cards of just kids not included), but showers can be a volatile emotional grenade for some of us who have been trying for years (or even those just starting) to bring a child into our lives.

One of my good friends is pregnant with her first baby, and I am very, very happy for her and her husband. Actually, I wrote a post about her a few months ago because of her wonderful way of telling me she was pregnant - sensitive and more concerned about how I would handle it rather than showing any of her own over-excitement about being a mom.

Given how she handled her pregnancy announcement, I'm not surprised that she was so thoughtful about my invitation to her shower which is in a few weeks. She acknowledged that she knew it would be very difficult for me to attend and that she would completely understand if I didn't want to attend, remembering her own discomfort at showers when she was trying to get pregnant.

Here's what she did right:
1. Showed honesty and candor by acknowledging that it could be hard for me to attend
2. Showed sympathy and empathy
3. Gave me an out with no questions
4. Showed true friendship and selflessness

And, what she didn't realize, is that I wouldn't miss this shower for the world. Trust me, I've given my fair share of lame excuses of why I can't attend other showers (apparently, I go out of town a lot). While I know it won't be easy, I want to celebrate her precious gift with her and her closest friends and family. Yes, I love my friend, but the way she approached me honestly and with great sensitivity, made me love her all the more.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hocus Pocus, Fertility Incantations and Other Pregnancy Magic - excerpt from book

I’ve been a little bit superstitious since I was a kid. Ever the athlete, I had lucky socks that I would wear for basketball games; lucky underwear (no, not that kind of lucky underwear—I was a kid) that I would wear on the days I had volleyball games or math tests; and a lucky pre-track meet meal of a Pizza Hut personal cheese pizza, which I was convinced made me run faster.

These illogical ways disappeared for the most part during college and in my twenties. My only momentary lapse was when we were trying to sell our first house. I bought a plastic statue of St. Joseph, the Catholic patron saint of home and family, and planted him in the ground upside down next to our “For Sale” sign. Then you’re supposed to say a prayer to him every day for nine days and your house should sell more quickly. So, maybe it’s more religious than superstitious, but you get the idea. Anyway, Nick and I tried this method and it worked. So I wonder if I should do something similar to promote the growth of a babe in the womb. Maybe I should plant a small statue of a Kokopelli, the Native American fertility deity.

Psychotic Pre-baby Shopping
Since I originally thought it would only take a few months to get pregnant, six months maximum, I started buying cute unisex onesies, d├ęcor for the nursery, and other baby belongings. We’d buy baby souvenirs while we were on vacation, too. When I started the hard core fertility treatments, I went into overdrive (maybe it was the fertility drugs), buying even more infant equipment because I was convinced that it would work, and I’d soon need Diaper Genies and teething toys. After three ovulation induction treatments didn’t work and the first IVF didn’t take, I started reverting back to those old superstitious ways, and wondered if buying all the baby stuff was actually inhibiting my ability to get pregnant. So, I went cold turkey and stopped the shopping spree. You would’ve thought I was trying to get off smack; I’d get the shakes when I’d pass a Gymboree.

So, I haven’t bought any baby-related stuff for more than two years, except for shower gifts for friends, which is incredibly hard to do (Note to other infertiles: Buy and send gifts on-line; it’s a much easier pill to swallow). What’s worse is that, apparently, my self-imposed, superstitious moratorium on buying peanut paraphernalia hasn’t worked anyway (no baby(ies)), yet I still can’t force myself to walk into a Pottery Barn Kids.

Back to invoking the saints. My best friend gave me a pendant of St. Gerard, the patron saint of fertility. He’s neatly tucked away in my change purse, but I’m wondering if I should wear him around my waist, lest that be sacrilegious. Also, I’m not sure why the patron saint of fertility is a man, but I know that God has his reasons. I’ve also prayed to the patron saint of little children, the patron saint of miracles, and the patron saint of fertile fields. One girlfriend recommended saying a prayer to St. Polycarp (the patron saint against earaches and dysentery) since he probably isn’t as busy as the more popular saints. I also found another potential heavenly helper – St. Mary of the Fertile Rock. So far, no divine intervention, though.

Anyway, at some point along the path to procreation with no success, you start to get pretty frustrated. For some couples this happens sooner than others, but after five or six months of trying, many start searching for new ideas to make that magical big belly appear. So far, I’ve been told loads of advice, including which sexual positions are best for pregnancy (these tend not to be the most fun for women, of course, and result in levels of discomfort that I really didn’t think could be achieved), and what to do post-coitus, including prop my feet on big pillows for at least an hour, or stand on my head. And, as odd as these recommendations sound, they actually worked for some of my friends.

In my research, I found that women received positive pregnancy test results from simple measures such as good luck charms, lighting votives at church, meditating to calm and prepare the uterus and/or sperm, and rubbing the belly a certain way to send in positive energy. I have tried them all and they didn’t work for me.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tiger moms, helicopter moms, what about the non-moms?

You can't open a newspaper or turn on the TV without hearing the big tiger mom versus "compassionate" mother debate these days. And, there's still a lot of discussion over the helicopter moms hovering over their children to the point of ridiculousness. Plus, there are soccer moms, working moms, freaky pageant moms, the list goes on. People love to categorize types of parenting.

I say: What about the non-moms? Not the women who gave birth, but are far from being a mothering figure in their child's life, but those of us who long to have children, who have tried harder than most to become parents, yet it continues to allude us.

Heck - I'd be happy if someone called me a tiger mom these days. Being a tiger mom is better than not being a mom at all. Am I bitter? Maybe a bit, but at least I recognize it and it's for a good reason.