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.