How has Infertility Changed You? Listen Up! #NIAW

listen up

I was asked this question yesterday…

How has infertility changed you and how you live your life?

It stopped me in my tracks. It takes a brave person to ask that question and I think an even braver person to answer it. So, Listen up!

I thought the words would flow from me like a waterfall of knowledge on the topic of infertility and trying to conceive. I feel like an expert with years of experience and I’m practically a walking science experiment for how to make a baby. But instead of words, my heart jumped to the answer before my head could and I responded with tears. Infertility and the winding journey of trying to find my way to baby has been a life altering experience. It has changed me at my core. I view the creation of a baby as a miracle that always feels out of reach. I’ve been teased by this gift of life in my own belly only to have it stripped away from me. Three times. Infertility is not just about finding alternative ways to conceive or finding alternative paths to parenthood. It is a test of will, a test of relationships, a test of stamina and a test of faith. Infertility will school you on courage, bravery and resilience. Infertility strips you of financial freedom, emotional stability, physical strength, and the ability to freely enjoy the sight, sounds and touch of a baby that is not your own. Infertility creates anxiety, exhaustion, anger, blame, grief, fear and trauma. It stops you from attending baby showers, shopping for onesies for a friend, walking through the baby section of department store, or commenting on a pregnancy announcement on social media. And, infertility asks a lot of nagging, annoying, irritating, painful questions…

Do you mind carrying a high credit card debt? How many credit cards do you have? We’ll have to max those out.
Do you have any savings? I’ll need that too.
Would you like to take out a loan?
You don’t really need to drink wine do you?
Can you give up caffeine, just for me?
What do you think of these stirrups? They look comfy right?
Do you want to do IUI or skip it and go straight to IVF?
Do you have good veins? I’m going to need access to those. Think of me as your favorite vampire. It’s going to be that kind of relationship.
What do you think of needles? Do they scare you? You’re gonna have to get over that.
Can I put this ultrasound wand in your vagina? Can I do that another 100 times?
Do you mind adding biohazard containers to your master bedroom décor?
Isn’t pineapple core delicious?
I know you love to drown your sorrows in comfort food, but would you mind giving up gluten?
Would you please lose some weight?
Are you working out?
Would you like to see an ultrasound of your ovaries and uterine lining? I can’t find your left ovary. Where is your left ovary?
Oh, you are looking for a sperm donor and egg donor? What color hair, eyes, height, weight, education, hobbies, religious background and medical history do you want? I’m going to have to ask you about another 50 characteristics so please think this through.
Are you relaxed? You need to relax.
Do you want to meet the egg donor?
Have you considered adoption?
Would you like to work with a surrogate?
Have you met with your doctor, your cycle coordinator, your nurse, your therapist, your acupuncturist, your naturopath, your personal trainer, and your dietician?
Do you do yoga? C’mon, show me some downward dog.
Do you meditate? I think you should meditate.
Do you have a support group? You’re gonna need that too.
What was the date of your last period?
Do you have normal cycles? How many days are your cycles?
How much do you weigh? Have you gained weight recently?
Do you feel like giving up?
Do you hate me? It feels like you hate me.
Do you still love your husband?
Do you still want to have a baby?
Are you sure you want to have a baby? Cause this is just going to keep getting harder.
How many boxes of home pregnancy tests do you have in your bathroom cupboard?
Do you see a second line? I think I see a faint second line. Nope, just kidding, that was just a line of false hope.
Will you give up sugar for me? Pretty please?
Are you still having sex with your husband? How’s your sex life?
I know you just had a miscarriage but do you think you’ll try again? When will that be? The clocks ticking ya know.
OMG, is it your birthday? Are you getting too old for this?
You look bloated, are you bloated? Seriously, you look 4 months pregnant.
This is when you realize infertility can be a total asshole.

But there’s still more…Infertility has made me fear my own birthday, dread another Christmas, made me heartbroken over the photo of a child and an Easter bunny, and has left me lost in tears and depression on Mother’s Day. I have changed my career plans, given up on extravagant vacations, spent thousands of dollars on IVF, donor egg IVF, medications and embryo transfers, and have feared the loss of my marriage. I have said “No” to friends and family so many times because I didn’t have the energy for a fun activity on top of all of my doctor appointments, side effects from hormone injections or emotional exhaustion from another failed cycle or from a miscarriage. I have faced a grief so deep and so intense, I thought it would swallow me whole and never give me back my light. I have hung by my fingertips on the edge of the giving up cliff so many times and have nearly slipped away…but I have learned this…Someone always reaches down for my hands and pulls me back up.

And somehow, hope keeps me standing and love keeps me walking toward my dream. If you keep your eyes open and your heart beating, the journey through infertility happens to be filled with as many gifts as there are pitfalls.

Infertility has convinced me take care of my body and my mind. Infertility has persuaded me to live in the moment. Infertility has taught me to love more deeply, to be vulnerable, and to share my story without fear. Infertility has enabled me to enjoy the small, happy, fleeting moments. Infertility has given me the ability to see beauty everywhere I turn. Infertility has shown me how to have a much deeper compassion for others. Infertility has brought me the most amazing, supportive, loving friendships. Infertility lead me to pregnancy three times and while this left me with a total of five angel babies, it has given me a love so profound that in every challenge and every painful moment, I have this beautiful love that lives within my soul. Infertility has been my teacher to live a full life, to appreciate everything that I have and to never take the miracle of pregnancy for granted. Infertility has changed my life, but made me realize it is not my life. Infertility has altered me, but it has not taken me. Because of infertility, I am beautiful, I am resilient, I am more loving, I am courageous and I am more Me.

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GIVE THANKS: #GivingTuesday

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The Resolve.org #GivingTuesday topic for November is “Give Thanks”  What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving season? For this topic, I’m re-posting a previous blog post titled:  Thankful, Making Jaxon which I wrote last year on Thanksgiving day.

If you would like to get involved with the #GivingTuesday campaign with Resolve.org, please check out my previous post for details:  Resolve Giving Tuesday Campaign

Baby announceP1160849_edited-1

Thankful, Making Jaxon

It’s a different Thanksgiving today. No plans, no travel, no getting together with family. I think I may watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade and bake something made out of pumpkin and enjoy the sounds and smells of my husband cooking turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes. It will just be a day for us. With the events of this week, I didn’t have it in me to put on a brave face and a smile to visit with anyone. It feels better to stay home without any pressure or schedule, plus the dog is happily snoozing next to me. While I sit here watching the pre-show of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, I’m reminded of Thanksgiving from two years ago. It was just the beginning of making Jaxon. The 2012 holiday season was our first round of IVF. We launched into the process as soon as we had returned from our honeymoon and not long after celebrating the new year of 2013, we found out it worked on our first try. I was pregnant! Could we really be this lucky? Our first try and it worked? It was incredibly exciting but then so quickly coupled with a random health event that clouded the enjoyment through the first six weeks of the pregnancy. Two days after the embryo transfer I had unusual breast changes that first appeared to be an infection. I went to an urgent care clinic and was treated with antibiotics. Nothing changed. For the next six weeks I went back and forth between my OB/GYN, a breast surgeon and an infectious disease specialist. Since I could not have a mammogram, it was harder to determine a diagnosis or quickly rule out various concerns. We kept trying different antibiotics for a while, with my doctors still leaning toward treating an infection. No change. Then there were scarier possibilities that would not only risk my pregnancy, but my life. The next step was a biopsy where we hoped to eliminate the worst of the possibilities. But now the worst of the possibilities was all I could think about. After six weeks terrified of what this could be, we finally had an answer. It was simply benign, and random, and unexplainable. All those weeks of doctor appointments, and worry, and stress, and the distraction from bonding with my pregnancy was finally over. And I was fine. The relief I felt when my doctor called me on a Friday night to tell me I was ok was a wonderful moment and such a huge relief. I could feel my whole body rejecting the claws of tension that had held on so tightly for those long weeks. And I was so thankful. I could finally just enjoy this pregnancy and focus on this new little life. Now, it was just normal pregnancy doctor appointments and ultrasounds. My favorite, at approximately 11 weeks where we got to see so much detail of our growing baby and his cute little movements. At about 13 weeks we announced our pregnancy to everyone. EVERYONE. We enclosed the photo attached to this post in our wedding thank you cards. A photo to quickly spread happiness to everyone nearest and dearest to us. However, the joy of sharing the news and the relief of transitioning to my second trimester of pregnancy was so cruelly short-lived. I started having problems right after 13 weeks and by 15 weeks he was gone. At the end of it all, with only a few ounces of perfection resting on my chest, I have never felt anything heavier sinking so deeply into my heart. The most precious, beautiful face I had ever seen. A cute little button nose and the littlest fingers and toes. And while my mind was still in shock in that horrific moment, I knew I had been given the biggest love I had ever known. Today I am thankful that I can still see his face and still feel that love from our baby named Jaxon. I know that for all that was so painfully stripped away from us that day, the love still remains. And when my husband speaks his name in heartfelt memory, I am thankful.

Photo by CJE

RESOLVE: #GivingTuesday Campaign

Giving Tuesday 2015 Banner

In case you would like to get involved, check out the #GivingTuesday Campaign with Resolve.org

Please visit their website for other social media participation (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram)

Copied from Resolve.org for the #GivingTuesday Campaign (for Bloggers):

“This year, on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, RESOLVE will be part of a call to action that will help make history: #GivingTuesday. Taking place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday will harness the power of social media to create a national movement around the holidays dedicated to giving, similar to how Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become days that are synonymous with holiday shopping.

Starting in October, we need you to help us count down the days until #GivingTuesday to build momentum for the December 1st event. We ask you to post content on your blog about #GivingTuesday, your infertility journey, and the role that RESOLVE has played. Here are our monthly themes:

  • October – RESOLVE to Give Voice: During this month, we want you to tell your infertility story. The month of October is dedicated to spreading awareness about the disease of infertility and its impact on your life.
  • November – RESOLVE to Give Thanks: This month, we want to express our thanks to those who give their time and support to RESOLVE and the infertility community. What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving season? This is your opportunity to express your gratitude.
  • December – RESOLVE to Give Hope: As we kick off the giving season, celebrate #GivingTuesday and promote this global event. We encourage people to Give Hope to others by making a donation to RESOLVE to help us support, educate and advocate for the millions of women and men living with infertility.

Here’s how you can get involved.

  1. Write and publish your #GivingTuesday blog post.
  2. Send an email with the name of your blog and URL to info@resolve.org.
  3. Receive a special #GivingTuesday badge for your blog. Promote your blog post on social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Post about your #GivingTuesday blog submissions using #GivingTuesdayRESOLVE. #GivingTuesday blog posts emailed to us will be added to a #GivingTuesday blogroll webpage on the resolve.org website and will be promoted by RESOLVE on its social media platforms.”