Sunday, November 13, 2011

Wishing my life a-way-ay

I've wanted a child of my own for more than seven years. Over that time, I feel like most of it has been counting in some way or another -- counting days of my cycle, counting the days until I could have a feriltized egg implanted, counting the days until paperwork gets cleared for our adoption, counting how many kids my friends have had over that time period (you don't want to know the number), counting missed birthdays and Christmases of our adopted son, counting, counting, counting.

I've never been someone who wants to wish her life away. I have always been one to live my life to the fullest. However, when it has come to trying to build a family, it seems that it's an impossibility. I have been wishing more than 2,300 days away in hopes that the next morrow would be the one when I would become a mom.

It's not that I haven't done important, fun and worthwhile things over the course of that time; but the 7/10s of a decade has been in a limbo of sorts.

Waiting and waiting and waiting to get pregnant or bring our son home. To say that I've been patient is an understatement. Infertiles and waiting parents are some of the most patient people I've ever known, but sometimes it can reek havoc on even the most sane or tolerant. But, I really hope that they haven't put other parts of their life on hold.

It can be overwhelming and hard to get out of this purgatory. But, my guess is that it will be well worth the wait.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Some OB/GYNs need sensitivity training

Yesterday, I had the unfortunate experience of having my annual GYN exam. And, it wasn't for the reason you might think. As an infertile, I've had my hoo-haw looked at and poked at more times than most women twice my age. So, clearly I don't mind the exam.

What I do mind, however, is the following:

1. As soon as I sit down in the waiting room, I come face to face with a very cute and very pregnant gal across the way, who proceeds to rub her belly, stand up, walk around and make sure that everyone is noticing how uncomfortable she is.

2. I have major bones to pick with my doctor's office scale. I swear it's at least 15 pounds heavy.

3. The fact that the medical technical asked me what birth control I'm on. Really...

4. The fact that my doctor asked me what birth control I'm on. When I told her it was impossible for me to get pregnant, she actually argued with me a little bit. Note that this is not my fertility doc, just my GYN. "It could happen, Lu." Again, really?

5. That my doctor, who just came back to work after having her second child, complained to me about how difficult it is to parent two children almost the entire time she was in the exam room. Really?

It took all I had not to make a snarky remark about how she should just thank her lucky stars that she has been able to give birth to two healthy kids because some of us have never and will never be able to.

I would like to propose that at OB/GYN offices, any women who are pregnancy virgins or have challenges childbearing, should have bright yellow stickers on their files folders or a flag on the electronic medical record that indicates that we are infertile. I think that would eliminate a lot of unnecessary questioning and awkward answers. Better yet, I would be happy to do some sensitivity training for these docs with a lack of appropriate bedside manner. Truly, it's not that hard. Instead of asking us about birth control and getting pregnant, just discuss the weather or how lovely our cervixes are.

And, visibly pregnant ladies, please don't parade that belly right in front of me.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pent Up Parenting

When you're closing in on 39 years of age and you want a child, but have never had one, the need to parent can become overwhelming. Since I started trying to have a baby almost seven years ago, that's a lot of mothering that I've needed to get out of my system. At least, that's where I find myself right now.

Sure, I consider myself an excellent mother to my adopted son, who still isn't here. I have never given up on getting him home and spend hours working with our attorney and Senator staffers, strategizing, doing paperwork, praying, worrying and dreaming about his future.

But, I need to be childrearing in person. My poor dogs and cats are treated as though they are my tots walking around on four legs. When they get in trouble, I send them to time outs and I also restrict their TV and computer time. (Note: this doesn't seem to affect their behavior much).

When I talk to friends or colleagues about their kids, it's all I can do to not give out my own parenting advice. A work friend was telling me how he didn't want his kids to focus on just one sport or activity just yet. He wanted to give them an opportunity to try lots of different things before settling on just playing baseball or the clarinet. I really wanted tell him that I thought that was a good idea and that I hope to do that with our own child. But, I think that would just be weird.

In Church, it's all I can do to not scold unruly or loud kids, and the same is true when I'm in Target and see a kid whining about wanting a toy and stomping his feet.

Conversely, I not only want to parent kids, but I want to give advice to their moms and dads. When I see kids not strapped in seat belts, I roll my window down and give the "parent" a piece of my mind. The same is true when I see a mom buying four boxes of the sugariest cereal on the market to feed to her crew (this happened just last week).

I am not saying I will be a perfect parent by any means, but the desire I have is palpitable right now. It's all bottled up and it has very few places to be expended. I'm like a dormant volcano whose top is about to blow.

My dogs don't understand what I mean when I ask them to put their toys back in their box and they're pretty good about eating everything on their plates.

So if you see me coming toward you or your kid you might want to watch out. I just might tell you to put your kid's hood up and wipe the milk mustache off his face.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I found video tape in the closet

It seems that more often than not, I run across some random piece of paraphinalia from my fertility treatment days. It has something to do with me not cleaning out Usually, it's an old ovulation detection test or an expired box of icky progesterone cream. However, I got quite the eyeful when cleaning out a closet which hadn't been touched in years.

I found several video tapes (yes, for a video cassette recorder, so you know it was years ago). No, these weren't those kind of videos, though I think I may have preferred that to what I found. In addition to some old tapes of me playing volleyball in college ('cause you know that those are going to be viewed again), I found one that listed my fertility doctor's name, my name, and the date 06/05/04. Yep, it was a video of my surgery when I had some tumors and adhesions removed from my uterus, that for some bizarre reason, we kept.

Why the heck did we keep that of all things? And, why did I leave the hospital with this odd momento? Was it to remind myself that I had a kickass laproscopy? To add to a future child's baby book as the beginning of our conception process? To be completely grossed out at will?

Perhaps it was the residual effect of my anethesia that led me to put it in my purse to bring home?

Whatever the reason, it was quite a flashback to the days when "trying" was still fun, when I didn't know I would have issues conceiving, and when I still had hope. On June 5, 2004, I was completely clueless about the seven-year hellish journey that we've been on to bring a child into our family.

I'm sure now they give you a DVD or jump drive with video of your insides.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Frequent flier miles junkie

Sorry that I've been a bit MIA lately, but the adoption stuff continues to be an emotional nightmare that I can't even coherently explain. Anyway, back to regular programming...

I used to fly for work pretty often and I even worked for an airline for a while, and that's when it began -- a subtle, but definite desire to accumulate as many frequent flier miles as possible. Jack Bauer and I love, love, love to travel, so acquiring kilometer after kilometer only fed into our "fix." I still know my FF#s for two different airlines by heart (those along with the phone # of my fertility clinic, which I haven't dialed in more than two years, but I often can't remember how old I am).

When we were going through our fertility treatments, the only and I mean only, redeeming factor was that we put most of the expenses on my credit card which turned points into miles in my frequent filer account. I got at least one "free" round-trip out of it, too.

Once a junkie, always a junkie, I guess. You'd think if I was going to crave something, it would be horse urine and estrogen after the years of being on the stuff. But, no, my frequent flier addiction hasn't gone away. I recently signed up to be a participant in on-line market research - I get emails and go through a series of questions and get rewarded with miles. It's a pretty easy way to rack them up.

So, I'm running through a number of questions the other day asking about health issues - narcolepsy - nope; diabetes - negative; cancer, sinusitis, epilepsy, foot fungus - no, no, no and no. Three pages of various conditions and I'm just running down the "no" column when I came to a screeching halt: INFERTILITY. Guess I didn't think of infertility as a "health issue" (although I am well aware that it is the inability for my body to do something that should be natural); Rather I look at it as something that plays emotional havoc with me on a daily basis.

If I have to answer a "yes" about having infertility, and I do that proud and standing tall, at least I can get a little closer to a ticket to Hawaii for it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Nauseated, but not 'cause I'm pregnant

Seriously, if one more Facebook friend posts a "so excited about school starting"; "I can't believe little Suzy is in the third grade"; "saw my baby off on the bus" or "I'm going to miss the lazy summer days," I may just puke.

My lil' ol' barren uterus and bitter lil' brain just can't take one more status update like that. I think I need to retaliate, but with what kind of comment? Something subtly snarky would be good. Perhaps I should mention that instead of buying school supplies, I bought a sweet pair of red patent-leather wedges; that instead of going to meet my kid's teacher, I went to the hot new restaurant in town; that instead of prying my kid out of bed in the morning, I got a few more minutes in at the gym.

Yep, you got it. Really I'm just a wee bit jealous. Damn fertiles. If only I could pry my way from Facebook for the next week or so, I could probably put myself out of my misery. Yeah, like that will happen.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Me vs. Octomom....Yeah, I think I could take her

So, although most of yesterday's news was drowned out by some small, insignificant debt ceiling so-called resolution (I kid), there was one bit of information that I ran across that made me forget about the fact that the U.S. almost defaulted on loans and cratered into an even worse economic outlook (yes, I am Debbie Downer):

The Octomom is going to get in a boxing ring. And they're looking for another woman to face off with her.

Seriously, where can I sign up to fight? I'd pay some pretty big bucks to get a good swing at that pouty-lipped mug. And, no I'm really not a violent person, it's just people like her bring out the meanie in me. I probably have a good 40 pounds on her. I guess it really wouldn't be much of a fight. But, I think I'd have fun.

After all that I and all other infertiles have done to responsibly have a child, and her idiot fertility "doc" knocks her up with eight embryos. Now, she's using this pseudo-celebrity status, which is totally undeserved, to get her 15-minutes of fame back, and make some money.

Actually, I think an infertile vs. super-fertile would be a fight a lot of pregnancy virgins would like to see, especially since her hyper-productive uterus was used in an irresponsible way. Imagine all of the angst that we could get out. I think it could be a money-making venture - just like a kissing booth. Pay a buck and get a free swing.

I'm really starting to like this idea.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My three-year gestation period

I kept procrastinating writing this post because I keep thinking that if I don’t write it, it won’t be true. Well, it is. Last week, marked the third anniversary of the day that we were matched with our precious little boy who is still stuck in a hellhole of an orphanage in Southern Vietnam. He was 7 months old when we first learned about him and saw the picture of him with his shock of black hair and full cheeks, and it was the second time in life I experienced love at first sight. He's now 42 months old, and he's still not home with us.

So, instead of just morning sickness, I have a never-ending nausea in the pit of my stomach with worry about how he's doing - if he's hungry, thirsty or in need of the comfort of a parent's arms. I would trade this never-ending paper pregnancy for swollen ankles that would rival a rhinosaurus, stretch marks that never disappeared and hemorroids hanging down to my knees if it meant my son would be home tomorrow.

This time last year when I wrote a similar post, I likened the wait to the time frame it takes for the elephant to gestate (the longest pregnancy for a mammal: two years); however, it seems that not only could I have given birth to a pachyderm, but also a manatee. Thirty-six months -- in which time I could've also given birth to 2.8 children.

I have felt the nesting urges big time lately - had the carpets cleaned and painted two doors and floor boards, and I'm so itching to go buy 3T clothes, toddler toys and sippy cups. But, I won't because I don't dare jinx getting him home before he grows out of more PJs and T-shirts that I've bought him.

Although I have never conceived, I can only imagine that my wait is something like the last four weeks of pregnancy, when you're so eager to meet your child you can barely stand it and every day that passes feels like a month.

I just hope my water is about to break.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Going to the dogs

Blood work, ultrasounds and constant doctor's appointments - such is the life of an infertile woman going through fertility treatments - or such is the life of a pedigreed dog trying to conceive.

My girlfriend has one of the top dogs in the country (in her breed) and she decided to have a litter of puppies this summer. I had no idea that it was quite such a procedure. I mean dogs are well known for getting busy in the backyard and ending up pregnant.

Not this dog - since a dog can't tell you when she feels like she's ovulating and it's a bitch (pardon the pun) trying to get them to pee on an OPK stick, multiple vet visits for blood work and ultrasounds are done so that they can identify her peak fertile days and have her hook up with the stud dog.

My friend's dog's mother was also going through her "fertility identification" at the same time, but instead of the traditional method of trying doggie style, she was artificially inseminated.

Then, the waiting period. I guess you have to wait a full 30 days to know whether or not a canine is knocked up, though my girlfriend said that she was pretty sure her gal was since she seemed horomonal. More blood work and ultrasounds confirmed it (again, chasing your dog around a yard with a HPT could prove quite challenging.)

It seemed quite bizarre to me that I was following this lovely dog's progress in getting pregnant since part of if so closely matched when I was doing timed intercourse cycles.

The biggest difference is that she got pregnant x 6 or 7 and I never did.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Rude Awakening

Last week while doing some last-minute Father's Day shopping at one of my favorite retail establishments, I was rudely awakened out of my sickly stupor.

I was fighting a sinus infection, but had to get out and pick up a few things. As I was on cold medicine, some details are foggy, but others are crystal clear.

For some reason while the cashier was checking me out, she mentioned the fact that she had two teenagers, (it had to be the Sudafed talking and not me. Seriously, why did I engage a discussion with this person?), and stupid me said that she looked too young to have children that age.

She said, "Yeah, and I'm going to be a grandma in November. My 18-year old son's girlfriend is pregnant. I just turned 38."

My jaw dropped right there on the check-out counter and I found myself speechless. I told her that I was six months older than she was and that I didn't even have kids (well, I didn't want to explain my adopted son in Vietnam).

She didn't find it that strange at all and continued to tell me details that made me ill - "Well, at least I'm not the girl's mom. She'll be the one that has to take care of the kid." Lovely. Another episode of Teen Mom just waiting to happen.

I took my purchase and numbly walked out the door, shaking my head and once again questioning why it's been so damn hard for me (and other good, responsible women) to be a mom.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Don't forget about the waiting dads

Throughout the many, many years of trying to conceive and fertility treatments, most of the support from family and friends was for me, even though Jack Bauer was hurting, too. I don't think it was intentional, but as wanna-be moms, we usually get the emotional support and the wanna-be dads just get a hardy pat on the back. That's wrong.

It's happened throughout our adoption process, too. That's three years of the same thing. Now, most men can be tough nuts to crack emotionally, but even a "you doing OK?" can go a long, long way.

Father's Day won't be easy again. I think this is the 6th or 7th one where we totally expected to have bio babies or our darling adopted son with us. And, I know that Jack will feel will no different than how I felt on Mother's Day. It sucks. I wish I was with my little boy making daddy breakfast in bed, going for a hike and wrapping up the day with a barbeque.

This year the pain might be eased a bit thanks to my amazingly thoughtful 12-year old niece. She's spending the week with us and has declared tomorrow "Uncle's Day" and wants to do something special with her Uncle Jack. She thinks it's a crime that her fun uncle doesn't get his own day. This is the same sweet girl who had a "Best Aunt Ever Day" for me three years ago when she thought it was a travesty that I didn't have a day of my own. What a kid!

Besides, Jack Bauer is more of a dad than most. His commitment to our little boy trapped in Vietnam is incredible - engaging Senators, writing letters and briefing books, organizing paperwork, making calls, etc. He is tireless in the fight for our Nate and has done more than many fathers ever do for their kids.

Props, too, to the waiting dads who give us infertiles shots in our rear ends, buy us ice cream when we're moody and don't care when we put on weight and have acne break outs from all of the fertility drugs. And, don't forget all of the masturbating into plastic cups - guess it's not as fun as it seems.

It's hard to say "Happy Father's Day" to all of the trying-to-be-dads because it probably won't be too joyous, mostly bittersweet. Go out and do something fun and know that you're not alone.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I really should clean out the medicine cabinet more often

On occasion, I run across an errant piece of my trying to conceive days. Usually, it throws me into a bit of a tailspin downward - remembering how I was hopeful, the pain of loss and the rampant mood swings. Ahhh... those were the days. Today, not so much, thank goodness, though it did make me wonder why I don't clean out the cabinet more often.

While looking for some antihistimines for hubby's allergies (which I never found), I ran across several half-used prescriptions (most of which had expired months ago), some multi-vitamins that expired in 2009, cough drops that were oozing out of their wrappers, some spray for my old dog's sore leg that was dated 2005, and cat treats that I think have petrified.

And, amid the Tums, Tylenol, Fish Oil and dog ear cleaner, at the very back of the cabinet, I found two syringes, seven injection pen caps, 17 gauze pads (why do we need 3"x3" gauze pads for pin-prick sized injection spots?), 24 alcohol wipes (which I will keep), and the package insert for my Gonal Pen, which I must've read a dozen times based on is crinkled state. At the time, I was obsessed with what wacky side effects I might get, and I did end up hyperstimulating, so it was with good reason that I was so familiar with the information. I think I am going to toss it in the grill while I cook my tilapia tonight.

Almost any time I clean something out - linen closet or bathroom drawers, I run across one of my old "friends." At what point do these crappy reminders cease from being in my house? I guess I should do a top to bottom cleaning and rid my home of infertility paraphenalia. Of course, the likelihood of that is slim to none, so I guess I'll just have to deal with the consequences the next time.

Luckily for me, I have a nice glass of savignon blanc to get me through the tossing of the syringes and pen toppers -- too bad I don't have my little red biohazard container anymore.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Where for art thou, period?

FYI - this post definitely enters the realm of way too much info.

I've stopped being diligent about counting days in between periods. What I used to track with military precision has now been cast off to something that I just guess at. As long as I have one at some point during the month, I don't even think about it because I know I'm not going to get pregnant.

However, last weekend, the last one of the month, I realized that I hadn't seen my "friend" in May. Hmmmm... I thought, "Surely this infertile, who's been trying for more than six years by both medical and traditional methods isn't pregnant... but what if?" Even my husband gave me a quizzical look when I mentioned it to him.

So, rather than immediately running out and buying an HPT, I stewed for a couple days, wondering if a miracle had happened. Of course, as you know, a lot of times, the pre-menstrual symptoms can be similiar to early pregnancy - sore boobs, moody, light abdominal cramping and bloating.

Of course, not to be "disappointed," my period showed up just late enough to tease me.

Then, I had an epiphany. Why do I still have to have my period? I determined that since I was 12 and a half, the only months that I haven't had one, were the three months that I was on Lupron. Why should we infertiles continued to be tortured by this unwelcome event each month (especially now that OB tampons are off the market, which is a whole other rant I have. Those were the best!)?!?

Having our little "friend" show up once a month or whenever she decides to is just another reminder that we can't get pregnant. I think that infertiles should get a pass to not have periods any more, especially if they're technically not trying to have a baby any more.

Damn you, uterus!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I had a dream

My darling hubby hates when I recount my dreams to him, so now I will subject you, loyal readers, to them.

I'm not talking about our day dreams and hopes, rather the ones that occur while you're in a nice REM.

As I'm sure many infertiles can relate, I have had countless dreams about being pregnant, giving birth, and having a newborn. And, they're pretty graphic - I remember feeling like an in utero baby was kicking me (perhaps it was my Mexican dinner), having a baby shower, and the smell of a hospital. Sucks when you wake up and find out none of those actually happened.

And I read somewhere that when you're on your period, sometimes cramps make you dream about being in labor - have had that happen, too. Weird, but true.

One of my most memorable dreams was years ago and was definitely foreshadowing. I dreamt that I gave birth and when the nurse handed me my baby for the first time, I looked down and it was an Asian infant (my husband is not Asian, and in fact, he is blond with blue eyes). Little did I know that I'd be pinning all of my hopes and dreams on my toddler son from Vietnam (I dream about him at least every other night and waking up from those is torture) and that I'm still waiting for him to come home.

One of my favorite dreams of all time for its sheer absurdity and probably has some very interesting meanings behind it was just a month or two before my wedding (and it has nothing to do with infertility). I had a dream that my bridesmaids wore red, plaid nightgowns with eyelet lace around the collar and sleeves (if you're near my age, you remember wearing something similar as a kid - very Laura Ingalls Wilder) instead of beautiful plum dresses, and were carrying a bunch of bananas instead of a bouquet of flowers. Try dissecting that one!

Ever have any weird TTC or pregnancy dreams?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Who wants a book? Tell me your wacky pregnancy trick

My goal for this blog (most of the time) is to point out the absurd, funny and outrageous things that happens as you go through the crappy-ass infertility journey.

As many of you know, I wrote a book, The Inadequate Conception, in order to make lemons into lemonade (with vodka, that sweet tea vodka is even better). It was both cathartic and it was also something that I wanted to share with other pregnancy virgins who've gone through similar experiences, and perhaps never looked at all of the treatments, injections, hare-brained ideas, and other stuff in a humorous light.

So, here's the deal. Leave a comment with the wackiest thing you ever did or tried to get pregnant (whether it worked or not), and I'll pick a random comment and the craziest one and send both a copy of my book.

Can't wait to see some of these, and note that this info could be used for book #2!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Shut the frick up, fertiles

Borrowing a line from one of my very favorite Web sites, I'd just like to give a shout out to all of the fertiles who say stupid and insensitive things to those of us who either:
1. Can't have children due to infertility
2. Decide not to have children at all.

While deciding what wonderful words of wisdom to opine about today, I immediately sat up straight on the couch (as opposed to lounging comfortably), when I read the following FaceBook post from a friend of mine who decided not to have children: quite irritated today when a random lady at yoga incessently debated my very personal decision not to have children like our 30 second relationship entitled her to make life choices for me...

Apparently my friend, who is a huge dog lover and rescuer, and Ms. Have-a-baby-or-your-life-is-meaningless were talking about caring for canines, and the Babymaker told her that people who have pets are good with children. Excuse me lady, but have you heard of Michael Vick?

She went on to tell my dogophile pal that she "seriously needs to reconsider having children" because once she has them she "will realize that my world is now incomplete and unfulfilling."

Ahem... Excuse me Ruiner-of-friend's-Zen-from-yoga, but I beg to differ. Firstly, my girlfriend's decision not to have kids is none of your effing business. That's a highly personal decision that you just stomped all over. What if she told you that should stop breeding so that no more idiots were entering society?

Second of all, there are millions of us who can't conceive, can't get our adoptions to move forward, can't afford more fertility treatments and/or adoption, and can't bear to continue trying to have our hearts broken.

I have news for Ms. Asshat. I bet I lead a more full life without children than she does with, and I know my amazing girlfriend does. I won't tick off a list of accomplishments or things in my life that I'm happy about, but I could and it would probably kick hers in the tail.

Zip your lip and mind your own beeswax.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Why going to the dentist reminds me of my childlessness

Sometimes it's the oddest places that make me think about my childlessness - not the traditional McDonald's playland, school yard, church or Dugger house (19 and Counting), rather Home Depot (dad and son picking out tools); veterinarian's (little girl with new kitten) and this week, it was at the dentist's.

My dentist's office is pretty high tech as teeth doctor's offices go - flat screen TVs with the latest software tracking my records, X-rays of my chompers, etc.

I went to get my teeth cleaned, as I do pretty religiously every six months. Yes, while my uterus doesn't cooperate at all, my insisors, bicuspids, and molars are in fairly pristine condition (I'd rather trade some cavities and root canals for my non-functional womb).

Up on the big ol' 42" flat TV, showed an out-of-date version of my medical history, which said that I was "undergoing fertility treatments." I didn't have the nerve to tell them to remove it from my history. So, once again, I relived that period of my life a bit while I had the hygenist's hands in my mouth. And, since I didn't tell them otherwise, I'll just have to see it again in November when I go back.

The other thing that just kills me is that since I only go every six months, every appointment is just another reminder that I don't have a child (my son from Vietnam or a biobaby) yet. For the last five years, each time I schedule my next cleaning, I have thought, "I bet I have a baby/my son before I am back to see Dr. P." And, thus far, that hasn't happened.

Perhaps I'll try the nitrous oxide next time to make it more fun.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A quick funny because I am in a really rotten mood

Adoption stuff is not going well...but we will prevail. It truly stuns and appauls me how our own government could leave hungry three-year olds in a mold-infested orphanage. So, I'm not in a very good writing mode right now.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a little funny with you, since that helps me laugh instead of cry.

One of my girlfriends who went through a few IUI rounds, said that she often wondered if those of us who've been through vials and vials of fertility meds will glow in the dark one of these days.

If anyone starts illuminating, please let me know.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Get out your armor infertiles!

It's no surprise that most of us infertiles have issues with certain holidays, and some are much harder than others. For me, Mother's Day is an off-the-charts stinker of a day.

In our multi-media centered world, I can't turn on the TV without seeing a commercial for flowers, jewelry or cards for Mom; email promotions are touting sales for gifts for moms; and even the Twittersphere is getting into the act. Facebook is safe...for now, but that will change this weekend. We might want to go dark on Facebook on Sunday to save ourselves from seeing all of the happy messages for moms.

And, I know that if I go to the grocery or pharmacy, I am sure to be met with "Happy Mother's Day" from well-intentioned clerks. It's happened before and they feel like barbs instead of good wishes.

It's a double-edged sword; on one hand, I want to celebrate the mothers in my life: my mom, sister, grandmother, aunts, and friends. But, on the other, it's just another very blantant reminder of the fact that I won't be getting a crayon-drawn card or burnt pancakes (that is, unless my dogs and cats surprise me this year).

I already have a plan to combat my emotions of that day, which is sure to be tough. I'm going horseback riding.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A royal huh?-what?

Hard to escape all of the media coverage of the Royal Wedding festivities, but I almost rear-ended a car while listening to NPR yesterday morning. Tina Brown, Newsweek's editor in chief, said that expectations for Kate Middleton were that she "breed" - yes, that was the term used. She said that she should breed soon and have several offspring.

My first thought was - "oh - have I just been transported in a time machine back to the 1850's when that was a princess'/queen's sole responsibility to produce heirs (preferably sons)?" and, as an infertile, my second thought was, "what if this poor lass has trouble conceiving?" I can't imagine the pressure she's under anyway; let alone the fact that the whole world may be waiting for a quick pregnancy announcement.

You might remember that the Princess Masako of Japan waited a long time to have a child - she resisted the pressure and expectation that she would quickly give birth to a child and waited eight years after marrying.

I know it's not easy for any of us pregnancy virgins, but at least we're not in the spotlight trying to conceive heir apparents to a throne.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Stressing me out

In recognition of National Infertility Awareness Week, I wanted to devote a post to Resolve's Bust an Infertility Myth theme. I'm busting the myth that not having children isn't stressful. I hear parents complain all of the time about their kids making them crazy because they drew on the walls with markers, puked in their bed, shoved a pickle up their nose, forgot about their science project until the night before it was due; the list goes on and on...

However, the stress of not being a parent or trying to become one is also incredibly daunting, and I think much worse.

As my pregnancy virgins and I know, the stress of not being able to conceive can overtake your life - your relationships with your spouse, your family and friends, your finances, and your dreams. Don't forget the stress on your body, mind and spirit (perhaps that's part two of this post).

Your marriage:
I've never been close to the brink of divorce, but I know of infertile couples who have (and some who have even split up). When trying to conceive completely consumes your life, it consumes your marriage, too. Being tethered to the doctor's office, being told when to have sex, hormonal outbursts from fertility drugs, and blame games on why she can't conceive are enough to rock the strongest marriage. Add to all of this, the fact that the one person who completely understands what you're going through, is going through the same horrible thing. Ugh, even writing all of this is stressing me out.

Your family and friends:
Relationships with family and friends can also change dramatically when you're dealing with infertility. There always seems to be a teenage second cousin who gets pregnant or a hyper-fertile friend who "wasn't even trying" to bring up a lot of resentment and bitterness. And, as much as we try for this not to happen, it can just be inevitable. Heap on the sometimes insensitive, but well-intentioned "advice" that we're sometimes given about "not stressing", "just adopting" and "trying a conceptionmoon", and it's enough to drive friendships apart. And, when you're the only friend at brunch who doesn't have a "birthing story", you can find yourself jealous of episiotomies and C-sections. I've seen several posts along these lines around the infertile blogosphere. Tension-filled rooms at family gatherings asking "when are you going to start having kids?" can also result in a moratorium on Sunday dinners at the in-laws.

Your finances
Fertility treatments, adoption home studies, background checks, and attorney fees, and the countless bottles of wine and retail therapy can set your finances into a tailspin. Do you put a new roof on your house with a leaking ceiling or do an IVF cycle? Put brakes on your car or buy a round of follistims? Take out a loan to get pregnant? I know of women who've had yard sales, just to pay for an IUI. Truly, thinking about the money we've spent on fertility treatments makes me a little sick to my stomach (would do it all over again, but still very stressful!).

Your dreams
If you've gone through fertility treatments, the process to adopt or other family building methods and no child comes into your life, there is the definite and heart-breaking loss of a dream. You may find yourself wandering about the 4-bedroom house that you bought to fill with children or aimlessly driving around in your SUV with a third row of seats - empty. I mourn things like Saturday morning pancakes made by daddy, fun at the zoo, running through my neighborhood with a jog stroller - dreams I've had since the day I met my husband. And, that can be the most stressful feeling of all.

So, as difficult as parenting may be, I'd take the stress of being a mom over the stress of not any minute of any day.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Multiplying like rabbits... or not at all

Easter is quickly approaching. A time for resurrection, rebirth and reflection. Of course, where does my warped little mind go? Sex and infertility. Here's why? The focus on eggs and rabbits(see last Easter's post on that topic). Of course, my problem wasn't the eggs (I belted out 23 of them at my retrieval), my issue seemed to be the basket that couldn't hold them.

The Easter Bunny also offers an oddly relevant connotation for infertility, too because of the fact that... well, rabbits are known for rocking conception.

Back in the days when we were in the middle of ovulation induction cycles, fertility drugs and even before all of that, our multiplication efforts would've made the bunnies proud, except that they never resulted in anything, except a lot of fun, but then that changed and it became a chore.

I think only infertiles or those trying really hard to get pregnant know what I mean. I think sometimes we give men a little too much credit for wanting sex 24-7, especially when I've heard things (not just from my husband, but relayed from other pregnancy virgins) like:

"You mean we have to do it tonight, too?"
"Do I have to take anything other than my boxers off?"
"No foreplay? Score!"
"We have to make it quick; I have a flight to catch."

What ironically funny words have come out of your hubby's mouth when you were deep in the "traditional" baby-making process?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

URGENT: Need your help to get our son home

I usually don't air my frustrations and details of our challenge to get our son home from Vietnam, but I need your help, if you'd be so willing. I'd like to ask you to send the following letter to your two Senators as soon as possible. Our little boy and fifteen other children's lives are worth it.

Dear Senator X,

We are friends of a family with a 3-year old son, Nate, who is imprisoned in an orphanage in Vietnam. Neither the U.S. Department of State nor the Vietnamese government have taken any positive steps to help Nate get home to a loving family in the U.S. instead of a horrific life in an orphanage. We ask that you vote “no” on Ambassador Nominee David Shear’s confirmation until he has an actionable and clear path to help get Nate and 15 other children home.

As a voter and constituent, I continue to be outraged by the way families in the US (loving families who want to love and care for children) are taken advantage of by not only foreign governments but also our own. Our leaders should take this issue seriously and work toward immediate resolve for Nate and the children of Bac Lieu, Vietnam, that could be in loving homes today.

Thank you so much. You have the power to save the lives of not just Nate, but the other children being held up by politics and paper work.

Can't thank you enough!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Childless not by choice

As much as I try to make light of infertility and find some humor in it, many of us will never have children - borne by us or anyone else. And, quite simply that sucks.

I actually think that there isn't enough support or awareness for those of us who never have children, not by choice (full disclosure: not my term). I've been to Resolve meetings and to their Web site, and I believe that they have a definite message of hope, which isn't necessarily bad, but I think some reality checks are necessary, too. They also stress different options for building your family, but I haven't seen much for those of us who may never have that option (we are still desperately waiting for our now 40-month old son in Vietnam).

After years of being womb warriors with no success, many of us are emotionally, physically and financially exhausted, and using a gestational carrier, adopting and fostering isn't an option any more. So, we become childless, not by our own choice, but by other difficult circumstances.

I have recently become acquainted with two amazing women, who also fit that far-from-ideal description, Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos and Lisa Manterfield. They have both written incredible books detailing their experiences of infertility and their decisions not to be mothers.

Lisa's book, I'm Taking My Eggs and Going Home is a beautifully woven, but raw and honest tale of her journey through infertility and making it out on the "other side" - that is, the one where she decides not to be a mom. I plan to write a proper review of it later this week.

I'm only a few chapters in to Pamela's book, Silent Sorority, but I am riveted.

I highly recommend them to anyone who's made the painful decision not to be a mom, for whatever reason.

I'll be writing more on this topic over the next week or two. There are more of us out there than you might realize.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Infertiles are good at defense

Leave it to me to think up an infertility tie in to the NCAA basketball finals. This year's finals are exceptionally exciting because Butler is my and my husband's "adopted" team. We live one mile from the school and have been going to games since we moved to the area almost nine years ago. And, Indiana's very own Notre Dame women will be in the finals in Indy on Tuesday. So, go Hoosier hoops!

I jokingly, but also somewhat seriously called working with our gestational carrier a "Hail Mary" shot. Nine embryos didn't get me pregnant and we had two left, which were implanted in her, our "last second" attempt, which bounced off the rim. We failed to win that game.

Here's an excerpt from the book that further describes a friend of my sister’s experienced secondary infertility and likened her quest to getting pregnant with a second child to playing basketball:

Since I was ten years old, my father had great aspirations for me to be a basketball player. Through hours of practice, I would dribble between chairs, run suicides (sprinting the lines of the court—brutal) and shoot from painted X’s on the concrete. The only problem was that I was never that great at basketball. Although my father would draw me intricate plays, the only thing I really could do well was play defense. I’d wave my arms in front of the offensive player. Through the years, I refined my defensive skills; I used every body part I could muster to block opponents, pick off opponents, and occasionally knock them down. I rarely had less than three fouls per game. My dad loved the energy, the gusto, and the overall fight for the ball. What does basketball have to do with having a baby? Everything. Defense is so engrained in my psyche that my hubby’s sperm are no match for the block outs, the picks, and the overall “you’re outta here.” No matter what position my husband tries, he just can’t get his sperm past my “shut-down” defense. I asked my doctor for an allergy test. Could I be allergic to his sperm? Do I just envision his sperm as the other team and knock them down before they get close? The doctor never gave me an allergy test. He told me his job was just to help my husband’s sperm get closer to a scoring position. Maybe I should have told him I was the best defender on my team. I guess it doesn’t matter. The doctor says he’s helping us get the sperm in scoring position, my husband is shooting the shot up, but our egg and sperm don’t realize they’re on the same team. For the time being, we’re playing a lot of basketball, with no scores.

Go bulldogs and Irish!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

An unbelievable conception

While running with a former infertile friend this morning (she's now a mom to a darling 2-year old), she shared a story with me that almost stopped me in my Asics.

Some friends of hers, a lesbian couple, just announced that they were expecting. One woman of the couple was able to get pregnant with a friend's sperm in a cup and a turkey baster (yes, literally one that you might use at Thanksgiving)- at home. Yes, really. Good for them, but quite frankly the "ease" of her conception almost blows me away.

After vials and vials of fertility drugs, intervential medicine, IVFs, 11 embryos and a gestational carrier, I couldn't even get a beta reading of 1.

In other news, I attended my first baby shower in almost three years this morning. And, I survived unscathed. I'm sure there are plenty of people who don't know why that's a big deal, but my fellow pregnancy virgins get it.

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.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Only infertiles...

Only infertiles...

Are excited that we feel pukey and nauseated post IVF or IUI

Curse toliet paper

Can easily pick out our ovaries and follicles on an ultrasound with no training

Are thrilled when our breasts are engorged and veiny

Can track our cycles with the precision of a military operation

Can give ourselves an injection of horse urine blindfolded

Tear up in Target when we see "My First Christmas" onesies and peanut-sized Halloween costumes

Have our REs on speed dial

Feel a bitter twinge when we hear pregnancy announcements

Call our pets furbabies for lack of the "real" thing

Have sex on doctor's orders

I'm missing a ton of things. What else?

Monday, February 21, 2011

What I have in common with female pandas - revisited

This is a post from over the summer that I thought was pretty appropos because of the birth of a new panda at Zoo Atlanta a few months ago. Jack Black was on Good Morning America last week with the cute little bugger.

This was my last weekend in China, and we were able to go do something that I've wanted to do since I first arrived eight months ago - visit a Giant Panda reserve in the western part of the country.

So, off we flew 1,800 km to Chengdu, the gateway to Tibet and the home of one of the largest panda breeding and research centers in the world.

And, while visiting this amazing place, I discovered that female pandas and infertiles have something in common - difficulty getting pregnant.

Pandas in the wild only number 1,600, which is why there is such an emphasis at this center and others to determine good ways to help them procreate. When there is such a small number in the wild, your number of mates is less than desirable, too.

Not only that, but they only have sex about once a year. And, to make matters worse, a panda's anatomy doesn't help either. According to the Giant Panda Museum, a male panda has a rather small penis and the female has a long vagina. (No, I'm not kidding. This was actually written in English on one of the signs in the museum. Thank goodness there wasn't an accompanying diagram.) So, conception the old-fashioned way is a bit difficult.

Researchers have become expert semen collectors (and no, I don't want to know how) and use artificial insemination to get the females pregnant using a "frozen straw" method, sounds appealing, no?

And, even by using the medical intervention, the chances of conception are relatively low, though when they do, 45% result in twins. Oh, and the researchers use the panda's urine to do a pregnancy test, just like us, (though I doubt that they can take a HPT by themselves and they probably don't obsess looking for a faint light for 30 minutes after the 3 minutes is up, either.)

So, we infertiles can share our misery with the darling black and white gentle bears.

Those babies are worth it, too.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

You tried what?

Check out this piece that ran on - it's 10 bizarre ways to try to get pregnant, submitted by yours truly.

Ever tried any of these crazy methods? Chime in, please.

1. The gravity method: Putting your rear end up on a pillow, putting your legs over your head, or standing on your head post-coitus.

2. Invoking your fertility god of choice: Lots of options here ranging from St. Gerard, the Catholic Patron Saint of Motherhood (not sure why it’s a man), to Kokopelli, the Native American fertility deity, to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of fertility, to Aditi, the Hindu goddess of fertility.

3. Feng shui: Putting a ceramic elephant on either side of the bedroom door; another suggestion is to place dragon statues in the bedroom next to the man’s side of the bed so that some oomph is added to his sperm.

4. Spoonful of syrup: Downing a teaspoon of cough syrup every day for a week before ovulation thins out cervical mucus and makes it easier for the sperm to swim their way to the egg.

5. Sipping sludge: Drinking one teaspoon of 100 percent Grade B maple syrup (Aunt Jemima’s apparently isn’t good enough) and one teaspoon of 100 percent cocoa powder mixed in a cup of coffee first thing after waking ... for two to three months (at least according to the woman who worked at the health food store. And yes, it tastes like the bottom of the Mississippi River).

6. The use of technology:, which claims it “uses unique algorithms and patent pending technology to shade fertility charts to predict ovulation and indicate fertility.” Other software programs include Cycle Watch and Ovulation-Predict, but there are dozens of them.

7. Counting on crystals: For the earth goddesses among us, placing crystals like rose quartz, moss agate, carnelian, garnet, and smoky quartz on your uterus, ovaries, thighs, and the center of your pubic bone is said to enhance fertility.

8. Hungarian mineral baths: In Budapest, there are healing mineral waters flowing underground. They are said to soothe arthritis and even help fertility. I tried that bad boy out -- just had to stomach a bunch of hairy women (myself included), a rotten-egg sulfuric smell, and lukewarm, yellowish water.

9. Steaming the hooha method: Chai-yok, or a vaginal steam bath. Fourteen different herbs are seeped like tea, and the daring woman sits on a stool with an opening so that the steam can penetrate the gynecologic regions and increase fertility.

10. Traditional Chinese medicine: A TCM specialist swears by taking Wu Ling Zhi, which is the fecal matter of a flying squirrel; yes, popping pills of flying squirrel poo!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Reliving an infertility breakdown

Yesterday, I met one of my dearest friends in the world for lunch at our local historical society; it's also a lovely facility for a wedding reception.

My beautiful friend's soup was too spicy and she ran to the restroom to get a Kleenex. As I sat noshing on my quiche and watching her walk back from the hallway, a flasback of epic proportions washed over me.

Four years ago, we attended a wedding reception of a co-worker of my husband's at the same place. I was going through my first or second ovulation induction, doing two follistim shots a day. I had gained a few pounds, except that I really didn't notice it until I went to put on my dress for the wedding -- less than an hour before we had to leave. It spanned across my rear end with no wiggle room at all and I felt like a sausage in a casing, ready to burst at the seams. I rummaged through my closet and, with the help of one of those slimming, spandex, bike shorts contraptions and a dress that had always been a little loose, managed to make myself somewhat presentable.

We were having a nice time at the wedding and I was only mildly self-conscious about my dress. Darling husband reassured me that I looked great. Enter the bathroom mirror.

I went to the bathroom and when I came out to wash my hands I was horrified at how I looked in the mirror. My gut was sticking out in the dress and it was definitely too tight in the rear. I broke out in tears at the sight (and I'm sure all of those hormones didn't help either). Unfortunately, one of my husband's colleague's wives, came in at the height of my despair. Not wanting her to think that I was a complete freak show (notice I said "complete"), I divulged that I was doing fertility treatments which made me fat and moody. She empathized, gave me a hug, and wiped my tears. Still, I was mortified.

And, rounding out my top three infertility breakdowns:
- a rest stop in Northern Indiana where I also discovered that my rear end had filled out my skirt way too much for public display (and for my personal comfort - I couldn't sit down in it), and that I'd have to find an alternative outfit before meeting friends for dinner in Chicago that evening
- 90 minutes later, the same day, raging out of control in a Bloomingdale's dressing room, not only lamenting over how enormous my backside was, but also the ridiculous price of a skirt that I would probably never wear again (and I haven't); I'm pretty sure that the mother and daughter in the dressing room next to me ran out in their underwear for fear of what I might do next.

Of course, there are too many times to count when I have cried my eyes out in the comfort of my own home or car. Church is another big place for these outbursts.

Where's the worst/most public/unique place that you've had an infertility breakdown?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Don't waste a snow day

Ice, ice, baby. Snow day!

So, not only does TV viewership increase dramatically during weather- induced home stays, but internet usage rockets and hot chocolate consumption is off the charts.

And, there's one more popular thing to do when snowed in - that's right, sex. There are statistics that show a rise in birth rates following snow days. Makes sense - cuddling in front of the fireplace, trying to stay warm by canoodling in bed -- so I'll be curious to see if a bunch of babies are born in 40 weeks. Remind me in December.

Oh and before I forget, if you would like to give birth on 11-11-11, try to conceive around Valentine's Day - or for my IF peeps, try your IVF transfers, FETs, or IUIs, then, too!

However, for infertiles like me, we can do it til our hearts are content (hehe) and it wouldn't result in a bun in the oven, although it does help stave off the cold.

So, stay in and get busy, whether it results in a baby boom or not.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

When is enough, enough?

For infertiles, this is something that after the second or third IVF - sometimes sooner and sometimes later - becomes something that completely occupies our mind. When have we given it everything we have to get pregnant?

Excerpt from The Inadequate Conception:
I’ve never been a quitter. I’ve always believed that if you work hard enough and put your mind to something, almost anything is achievable. In every other life pursuit that I’ve had, this theory has, for the most part, been accurate. But that’s not how it works in the infertility world. It’s a dimension where just because you flushed your birth control pills, have sex when you’re ovulating, or you get a major head start by having five day old embryos implanted, doesn’t mean you’ll get pregnant.
But, if you’ve been going through this stuff long enough, at some point, you may decide that it’s time to throw in the towel (or time to burn your menstrual cycle charts in the fireplace). There are plenty of reasons:
• Your frustration level is causing you to resemble the Wicked Witch of the West (“I’ll get you my little preggies, and your little diaper bag, too.”)
• You’re near financial ruin
• You’ve filled a landfill with ovulation test sticks and negative pregnancy tests
• Your age is now closer to that of a grandmother than a first-time mom
• You’ve achieved what some might consider “stalker status” with your fertility doctor
• It’s too hard to keep hoping and praying, only for a negative home pregnancy test or single-digit beta level to blow that dream to shreds

I know there are tons more. What didn't I list?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I'm moving to Hollywood

Ahh...the Oscar nominations were announced this morning. Big deal, right? Typically, I'd say no, but not this year (OK, I do admit that it is to me since I'll once again be able to see Colin Firth in a tux. Can you say "dreamy"?)

Of course, when "the latest accessory on the red carpet is a baby bump!" the Academy Awards take on a whole new meaning.

Yes, that was a direct quote that I heard someone on E! say during their Red Carpet show during the Golden Globes as if a big belly is a Harry Winston million dollar necklace or the new Jimmy Choo's. Besides the fact that I have a real problem with someone calling a pregnancy an accessory (what does that say to young impressionable girls or us infertiles who have tried to get pregnant with all our might?), what the heck is up with all the movie stars with buns in the oven?

As many young actresses and pseudo celebrities have shown us, they don't always make the best decisions. So, why the sudden need to give birth?

I mean what's in the Evian that these celebs are drinking? Does the smog and traffic in LA encourage fertility? Does Botox and collagen actually mimic follistims and Femora? Or, is there some underground fertility doctor using unorthodox methods to get these waify girls knocked up? Whatever "it" is, I want to know about it.

Though in thinking about how much money I've spent trying to get pregnant, I could have just as easily stuffed a pillow in a pair of granny panties and bought a vintage Valentino with some awesome duds. Heck, I probably could've even afforded to pay Ryan Reynolds to walk me down the crimson rug with what I've paid in fertility treatments.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My stint as a surrogate (yes, you read that correctly)

I've decided to become a surrogate. What?! You say. Has she had a uterus replacement surgery or some other wild treatment? And, why oh why is she being a surrogate for someone else instead of carrying a baby for her self?

Well, friends. It's because I have just become an alcohol surrogate for a friend who is pregnant. My warped or funny sense of humor (depending on how you see it) thought of this earlier this week. Two of my girlfriends and I meet for what are usually called Winey Wednesdays once a month and we split a bottle of wine (at a great restaurant that has them 50% off those nights). Anyway, since she can't drink, I designated myself as her alcohol surrogate.

I'm not a lush by any stretch of the imagination. One frozen margarita at our favorite cheap Mexican restaurant usually has me out and drooling on the couch by 8:30. But, I will sacrifice my body for her and any time she she wants a glass of wine, she can call me and I'll happily partake on her behalf.

I'd also be happy to become a surrogate of other things for pregnant people: a sushi surrogate, soft cheese surrogate, coffee/caffeine surrogate, deli meat surrogate (though I really only like turkey), and a flying in your last trimester surrogate (depending on where you want to go)...

I draw the line at becoming someone's litter box cleaner surrogate though.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I KNEW I was on to something

It's no secret that I have tried very hard to find humor in this crazy journey called infertility. For me, it has been an invaluable activity in order to stay somewhat sane over the last several years.

And, apparently, science is proving that I'm on to something. Researchers in Israel studied a group of women going through IVF and they tested the hypothesis that laughter, a "natural non-stressor" could help women get pregnant more easily. See article. And, it worked.

Of course, in this study, they sent in clowns to the hospital on transfer days. I am not a fan of clowns in the least, nor are most women of child-bearing age that I know. I'd much, much rather watch Modern Family or How I Met Your Mother to get my giggle on.

And, I'd be remiss if I didn't recommend my funny, funny book, The Inadequate Conception, as an option for laughing that embryo into place.

I'm eager to see where this new research is headed. Can you imagine waking up to Jack Black or Ricky Gervais at the foot of your bed? Sure beats more progesterone gel up the ying-yang or sticking your feet over your head.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Stork parking for moms to be

My sweet sister came up with the idea for this blog post because of this picture she took. She thinks that I should be able to park there.
It says: "Stork Parking For New Mothers & Mothers to Be"

Besides the fact that I wouldn't do it just because I know that a waddling mom should totally be able to get a few steps closer to the door, and my fat rear needs to walk farther, would I be in violation if I parked here? I think not, as I am a mom to our son in Vietnam. He may not be with me in person, but he is in spirit, (though I pray he's walking hand-in-hand with me from the car to the grocery and soon).

It makes me think...what is the definition of a "mom to be"? Is it someone who has just started trying to conceive? A young girl who will be a mom in 20+ years? A woman waiting on her adoption? Someone who wishes like hell that one day a small fry will call her "mommy" even though that hasn't happen yet? Obviously, one "with child" counts, but what about all of the rest?

Clearly, "mother to be" has multiple meanings, and there's not one that's more correct than another. However, I have a feeling that this establishment probably meant "parking for one who is currently gestating a human life somewhere between embryo and infant." Still, I'd love to argue my case with some zit-faced kid wrangling shopping carts who tried to stop me from parking there. See blog post All of the crap without the benefit about my three-month prego-looking belly -- maybe I wouldn't get stopped, after all.

Before you know it, lazy women across the country are going to be stuffing their shirts with pillows just to get a prized parking spot.

Besides, it looks like the stork is carrying a bagette and not a baby. With the obesity epidemic in the U.S. perhaps that's what they mean instead.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Back to the book

Last night was The Inadequate Conception's official debut at a book launch party. So, now all of my family and friends will read about some of the most intimate details of my life from scheduling sex to a strip tease in a hospital room. Not sure that I will be able to look at my boss in the eye tomorrow, but hopefully, it's for a good cause.

Truly, the reason I put all of this “out there” is to help other couples who have difficulties getting pregnant. And, if I can make one person laugh after all of the tears, I think telling you about my vaginal ultrasounds and sex on a schedule was worth it.

I'm working on a book signing in the Louisville area at a really cool local book store. The kind proprietor wrote a lovely piece about The Inadequate Conception.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Out with the old

The birth of a new year symbolizes the ability to have a fresh start and reflect on your goals and dreams. In many cases, it also involves putting your head into a toilet, eating boiled cabbage with a dime in it, and watching some football.

It's also a good time to clean - whether it's detoxifying all of the sugar and treats from your body or going through your closet. Again, another way to re-energize and feel anew for the upcoming year.

Guess what I'm tossing out this January 2? A big box of Crinone progesterone gel. I've had a box in a bathroom drawer where I've stored all of my pre-pregnancy supplies for the last few years. It's the last TTC thing left since I stopped using ovulation prediction kits and all of my OIs and IVFs didn't work. And the last batch of HPTs that I bought were for a photo shoot.

I'm not really sure why I've saved it for this long. Sure I tend to save things I'll never use again like 12-year old utility bills and a pair of bike shorts that I wore in college, but I think there was something else holding me back from chucking this in the garbage. Perhaps hope? Perhaps the thought that someone else could use it (shit, this stuff is like $75 a box)? Perhaps getting rid of my last TTC item symbolized more than just giving me some more drawer space?

But, the expiration date is 01/2011 and I don't want to hang on to it any longer. Plus, it gives me major credit with my hubby for actually throwing something away.

Besides, I just went to Ulta and could use the room in that drawer for the bags of make up, hair products and face cleansers. If I can't get pregnant, at least I'm going to look good.

I thought about some ceremonious act to get rid of it - like playing "Pomp and Circumstance" as if it's some kind of graduation or burning it in a type of funeral pyre.

Instead, I simply smashed it down on top of some coffee grounds and cat litter. Maybe that's more appropriate anyway.