Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Flat Stomach

I walked into my ob/gyn’s office this morning for my annual exam, and every woman, and I mean every woman, was noticeably pregnant. I felt like such an outsider with my neatly tucked in camisole and fitted jacket over my flat stomach. I could over hear the fertility-blessed asking each other when they were due and what sex the baby was, while I sat and answered work emails on my blackberry, never looking up. Truly, it was almost comical to see the sheer number of bloated bellies. I guess nine months ago it was the middle of winter – makes sense.

The other thing that I had to laugh at was when my gyn asked me if I was using any type of birth control. Yeah, that stopped happening about five years ago, and apparently I never needed it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Putting it all out there

(This is not me on the cover!) I'm going to contradict myself within this post. Let me explain. Just call me Dr. Jekyll/Mrs. Hyde, (or Dr. Gonal/Mrs. Screwed-Up-Insides), though I don't know which side is my secret self and which one is my "putting my infertility out there self."

For some reason, I've kept my profile private on my blog, not disclosing my identity. Originally, that was because when I started my blog, it was following our journey of working with a gestational carrier and we only told a few people about the fact that we were doing that. As many of my fellow infertiles can attest, we didn't want to have to give daily updates to friends and family following her progress (or lack thereof).

Flash forward a bit. Our trial with our "Nest" didn't work, and yet I remained anonymous.

In the meantime, I agreed to do an interview with a local magazine reporter about my quest to find the lighter side of infertility and how writing about it has been cathartic. The article came out this month, and I'm officially the face of infertility for Indianapolis. No hiding it anymore!

All in all, I was pretty pleased with how the article turned out. The irony of the whole thing is that the article just below my "INFERTILITY" header, is about, of course, "HEALTHY PREGNANCY". I showed my grandmother the magazine, and she only saw my photo and the word pregnancy and, bless her sweet heart, she thought it was my way of telling her I was pregnant.

I just laughed and said, "No grandmother. My article is the one on infertility." She smiled and said, "Oh that's right dear, you can't have babies."

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Uteri or Uteruses - Either way, I've got two

You know how when you have a work retreat, one of the first things a facilitator does is tell you to go around a table and say something unique about yourself? Mine is usually that I speak Japanese or that I've tried out to be on Jeopardy (but not smart enough to actually be on TV), but what I'd love to say is that I have two uteruses. Seriously, I’m not kidding. I have a bicornuate uterus, which is basically one uterus split into two.

As a result of my duo utero, I always thought this would give me double the chance of getting pregnant. I always thought that God had blessed me with more than enough of the proper equipment to get pregnant at the drop of a hat – or simply forgetting a condom or birth control pills. After all, in some countries having two uteruses makes you a fertility goddess. One would think that I have an ultra-reproductive capacity, but alas I don't, and it's some kind of bizarre joke that only now I can laugh about.

Not only do I have the two wombs, but I also only have one kidney. Seems that there wasn't room for both two because I had so many reproductive pieces. Luckily, my single congenital kidney hasn't made an impact on my life at all - it was only discovered about six years ago. My uni-kidney takes good care of me though, even though I wasn't very nice to it in college.

Just a little background on my funky anatomy.

Friday, August 21, 2009

By the numbers

Since this is an ICWL week, I thought I’d give an overview of our journey to bring a bio and non-bio baby into our lives by the numbers. Here goes in some kind of semblance of order:
36 years of age
12 years of marriage
5 years trying to conceive
61 cycles trying to conceive
611 pre-natal vitamins
55 ovulation detection tests
16 pregnancy tests
23 blood draws and ultrasounds
Tens of thousands of dollars (I’m too scared about the actual number that I won’t disclose it)
3 ovulation induction cycles
66 fertility drug injections
22 eggs
3 IVF transfers
10 embryos
0 pregnancies
1 embryo transfer to an amazing gestational carrier
16 times fingerprinted
1 21-month old boy waiting for his parents in Vietnam
124 pages of adoption dossier
410 days waiting for matched baby in Vietnam
Scores of family and friends who give constant love support and love
500 (at least) incidents of hilarity and humor from dealing with infertility
1 awesome husband, without whom I would have gone crazy
That just about sums it up.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Love Shack, Baby

Never underestimate the benefit of a break – any kind of break. In the world of those of us trying to conceive, it’s usually a break from counting days or taking time off from an IUI or IVF cycle.

Jack Bauer and I have had quite a challenging summer on the road to adding a baby to our family-- with our last two embryos not sticking in our gestational carrier and continued bad news from Vietnam where our darling boy is waiting.

So, we took a brief vacation last week, and it was exactly what we needed. I feel recharged and refreshed. It’s amazing what a few days in a bed and breakfast in a quaint town with the one you love most in the world can do for the soul. That, pounds of French fries and ice cream, and naps in a hammock help, too.

All the mushy stuff aside, I discovered another thing that melted away some of the stress of trying to add a baby (and I would add that it’s also something that could take away most any type of tension): Doing something completely out of character.

I experienced it first hand over the weekend. There was a concert at a waterfront park, so we decided to sit and enjoy the music, beautiful weather and scenery. The band was actually playing karaoke songs and people from the audience would pick there song and sing with the band.

Now, I have been known to belt out Irene Cara’s “What a Feeling” or “Fame” and at our own wedding two of my closest friends and I got the band to let us sing “Love Shack,” but these incidents were under the influence of a few cocktails, and would never under sober circumstances.

I have no idea what got over me. Perhaps it was the state of extreme relaxation I was in or that the breeze off the lake actually had some kind of chemical in it that altered my mind. No matter, I told Jack Bauer, that I, too, was going to sing. He encouraged me, but I think he was shocked and stunned when I approached the stage after a gentleman who sang a mean Johnny Cash.

So, in front of a crowd of about 250 Michigans, I sang the Kate Pierson part of “Love Shack,” shimmied my hips and smiled as I looked out into the crowd. It was exhilarating.

Applause followed my act and several people told me “good job” as I made my way back to my seat. It was thrilling.

I highly recommend doing something out of the ordinary to break away from the routine of infertility woes or any other stressor. You may not have to do something as dramatic as jumping out of a plane or singing in front of a crowd, but stepping into a different skin can banish your worries. And, it’s worth it, even if it’s just for a minute.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hand me an umbrella. There are too many showers

You wouldn’t think a baby shower could be an emotionally-charged topic, but you would if you’re infertile. I have been to no less than 30 baby showers over the past eight or nine years, including several that I have hosted myself. I know many fertility-challenged women who have a difficult time attending showers, feigning illness at the last minute or conjuring up some other excuse in order to avoid it. Some of them don’t even say that they’ll attend to begin with. I get it. I really do.

But, I also honestly believe in the concept of adoring the mom-to-be with gifts for her and the little one still in utero, and I’m typically happy to attend these blessed events. But what about those of us who have tried harder than most to get pregnant, and still can’t conceive? Why not us? Shouldn’t we be allowed one day in the sun and showered with gifts, too? .

There was a great Sex in the City episode where Carrie Bradshaw, frustrated by all the wedding and baby showers that she has to attend while single and child-free, decides to register for a pair of Manolo Blahniks – and ends up getting them from a friend who was so consumed by her own “childful” world of three kids and a husband that she forgets what it’s like to be in Carrie’s shoes (literally).

I think Carrie was on to something. In my humble opinion, I think we fertility-challenged deserve a brunch in our honor filled with gifts of spa treatments and too-expensive shoes for our extraordinary efforts. Maybe that’s a bit extreme, but think about a little of this injustice for a moment.

Whomever said, “To the victor go the spoils” had it right, I guess. But, I think valiant efforts to procreate should be celebrated, too.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Case of the Bitters

I started writing a posting tonight and read it to Jack Bauer and he said, "Wow, that sounds pretty bitter." I don't want to be or sound bitter, so I promptly deleted it.

It seems like if I were going to be bitter, it would have happened years ago, and not now, but I'm not going to argue with my emotions tonight.

The good news is that Jack and I are going to take a few days off next week and have a little rest and relaxation. I can't wait. In fact, I'm so excited, that I'm having a hard time concentrating at work - and we don't leave until Wednesday.

I think that a nice little break will recharge my soul and mind.

If anyone has ideas other than a vacation on how to get rid of the bitters, let me know. Perhaps I just need to indulge in some sweets.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

To Bac Lieu with Love

As I've lamented and written many times, we've been waiting since last July to get our little boy from Vietnam.

Many of these children, including our Nate, are approaching their 2nd birthdays and we have learned that the orphanage is not giving them solid foods. If solid food isn't introduced soon, they may not learn how to chew. Now, a group of the parents and volunteers are planning trips to aid in the care of these 21 babies at their orphanage.

I hate to use my blog as a place to ask for money, but in the case of our little boy and the other children who have loving families waiting for them in the States, I'll make an exception.

All of the parents are paying their way, but we need donations in order to take care of the flights and room and board for the volunteers.

Even if you can just spare $5, we and the 21 other families waiting for their babies (now toddlers) would be so grateful. Hopefully, we'll have enough people to stay in Vietnam until we can bring them home. I'm planning on going in early November.

Check out the poster boy of the day - Nate the Great, our little sweet pea.

Even $5 would be a huge help for our cause.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Peat and Repeat

This morning at Church I bumped into an acquaintance I haven’t talked to in a while. She had a baby recently so I asked her how she was doing. She answered and then asked me how my baby was doing, and I told her that we hadn’t gotten our little boy from Vietnam yet. She was stunned. I guess it’s been almost a year since I’ve seen her, so she just thought (like we did) that we’d have our sweet pea by now.

So I had to replay the 2-minute shpeal that I now have down to a science about how we can’t get the local police chief to sign off on the documentation for these now toddlers who have parents waiting for them in the States.

I understand that people are curious about what’s going on with our adoption. I mean, I’ve only been talking about it for the last 3 and a half years. But, it gets exhausting explaining what’s going on and responding to questions that I don’t necessarily have the answers to.

And, on the off moment when it’s not on my mind, and someone asks, it just brings up feelings of frustration and heartbreak.

I thought I’d be used to it by now, but it doesn’t get an easier telling the story.