Friday, August 31, 2012

When the Car Window Has No Stick Figures

When I got pregnant the first time, I was very hesitant about getting my hopes up too much.  Having just gone through almost a year of treatments for my cancer I was not sure that I was going to be able to carry the baby to term.  I was afraid that my uterus was too scarred from the surgeries.  I did however want to celebrate in a small way the news that we had just gotten and continue to hope. 

You always see the little stick figure families on the back window of people’s cars with the husband, wife, kids and pets.  I wanted that.  I wanted the “perfect” little stick figure family.  So to celebrate our news I ran out and bought a sheet of the University of Tennessee family clings.  I was so excited and looked at that adorable little baby with a big T on its bib and just smiled.  I know it seems like such a silly purchase, but it was the perfect gift for me.  I wanted a “perfect” little family and those little clings represented my deepest desire.  It’s been just over 20 months and that window is still empty.  Two more times I felt that excitement of finally getting my stick figure family on my car to have it taken away. 

About 7 years ago G and I bought a bigger house, 2 “family” cars and began to plan for the family that was surely coming.  Yet that nursery is still empty.  So how do you live with the disappointments that come with infertility?  How do you deal with the roller coaster of emotions that follows a loss?   How do you keep hope when you keep getting knocked down?

G and I have struggled with this on and off over the last 4 years.  Sometimes my hope overflows and I know that I am going to conceive a healthy baby and carry that baby to term.  Then there are days that I am in true despair that we will be a family of 2 forever.  I am human and those feelings come and go.  There are times that I question my faith…I don’t see how anyone in our situation wouldn’t.  The truth is that I always come back and I know that God will provide us the family that we long for.  The reality is that it just might not be the way we think.  My family may not be biological, but it will be MY FAMILY!!!

I am so blessed to have the most amazing support group.  I have a husband that has experienced and seen more than he ever should have and has not left my side a single time.  I have doctors that believe in us having our own biological child and who are doing everything they can to give us our family. I have a family that supports and loves us no matter what.  I have a pastor that goes out of her way to make time for us and give us the spiritual support and reminders that we need to hold on to that hope and faith.  Last, but not least, I have friends that deal with my tears, rants and my periodic bouts of seclusion while still daring to stop by and bring us dinner!  That is how I deal with the pain and losses.

(2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV)  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Guest Post - Missed Due Dates

Guys are notoriously bad at missing important dates.  I like to think that I make out better than most when it comes to ensuring that I’ve remembered C’s birthday or our anniversary for example.  One date that I missed was the expected due date of the first child we lost to miscarriage.  This was not because of any forgetfulness, but because I never thought to mark it as a special date.  Like many men, I tend to bury any unpleasant feelings deep down where I don’t have to look at them.  For me, after the initial shock of the miscarriage and the immediate “dealing” with it, I went to work at entombing the feelings.  Over the next few weeks and months, I would try to be there for C when she needed to talk about the miscarriage, but I’d never actually open up my feelings.  You see, I had “dealt” with what I needed to deal with and that was that. 

Over time, we spoke less about the miscarriage.  C did not bring it up and I of course never would.  Finally, we hit a week where it was obvious that the topic was heavy on C’s heart.  I was at a loss.  She had been “fine” for so long, I couldn’t figure out why it had risen up in her again.  When I finally pinned her down to what was going on, she simply said, “Our baby should have been born yesterday.”  I physically and emotionally recoiled in an instant.  It was like a fist in my gut.  In that one statement, C had unearthed all of my carefully interred feelings and laid them bare before me.  We cried.  At the time, through the emotional mess, an angry thought appeared.  I could not understand WHY C would have marked down the date and dwelled on it.  Following that, even if she needed to know it, WHY would she hit me with it?  I understand now, that this was no conscious action for her as it would be for me.  For her, the moment she became pregnant, a set of information became as important to her as breathing.  The baby’s due date was simply a piece of information in that set.
So, men, learn from my mistake.  (The not marking the date thing, I know none of us are going to stop burying our feelings based on some blog post.)  I’m not saying you need to send flowers, or take her for a long weekend somewhere, just be aware that as that time draws near; your wife is going to need the supportive shoulder not the clueless wonder.
Ladies, if you are in this situation, first off, I am so sorry for your loss.  I can only hope my words will help you understand why your husband doesn’t understand your feelings about the due date.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Proper Miscarriage Etiquette

During the last few weeks our openness about our issues has allowed several others to open up about their own situations and have requested that we provide some guidance on proper etiquette after a miscarriage.  I have decided to break it down into 2 sections…Support Is and Support is Not.

Support IS:
  • Acknowledging the loss – Though it may be hard for you to understand, a miscarriage is a loss and is the equivalent of the death of a loved one.  A pregnant woman has already bonded with that baby and it is a death! 
  • Expressing your Sympathy from a distance – Sending an email or a card can go a long way.  It let’s the couple know that you care without them having to physically face a crowd. 
  • Listening – If she (they) want to talk be ready to listen quietly and attentively.  Don’t try and answer their questions they are generally rhetorical.  Remember that it takes courage to share those feelings and they might be relieved to lessen the burden by talking to you.
  • Sitting in Silence – Remind her (them) that it is OK to not talk at all.  Be there for them and sit in silence with them if that’s what they need.  Sometimes gestures can say much more than words.
  • Offering to help – Anyone who is grieving after a miscarriage is usually struggling with just getting through the day.  I can tell you that my household barely functioned after my miscarriages.  It looked like a tornado came through and we basically ate junk for about 4 weeks.  Offer to bring a meal, clean the house or take the children for a while if they have more.
  • Allowing them to Grieve – Give them time.  A couple who has experienced the loss of a child is not going to be back to normal quickly.  Allow them to take the time they need to be alone, to avoid get-togethers and deal with their loss on their own time frame.

Support is NOT:

  • Fixing it!!! You can not take the pain away from a grieving couple!
  • Avoid using clich├ęs like "It was God's will" or "You've already had one healthy child." This does not provide any comfort to someone grieving the loss of their child and is just insensitive!
  • Do not tell her that her miscarriage was "a blessing in disguise" and she probably lost the baby because it wasn't healthy.  No woman will believe that it was better to have never known her baby because it “may” have been unhealthy!
  • Do not suggest she can always have another baby.  No future baby will ever “replace” the one that was lost.  You also have no way of knowing if she will be able to get pregnant again or carry another child to term.
I received the following email from a friend of mine, Meredith Renuart, who wanted to share a little of her own experience. 

When I had a baby die due to chromosomal disease, I had people say "It's just nature's way of ensuring more normal babies." I also had a Dr tell me: "You realize this is what was best for your baby." Another Dr. said, "Everything happened just like we said it would. My condolences."  Wow. None of these comments were even remotely helpful. Sometimes I think Dr.'s need classes on bedside manner.  This disease would not even have caused my daughter to be mentally challenged. I'm in awe of the things people and doctors say sometimes.

You want to know what people who've had a miscarriage or stillbirth want to hear? "I'm sorry for your loss and I'm praying for you."  That's it. Give me a target card to go shopping, give me a hug or bring me dinner. Send a card. Keep your casual thoughts about "nature's way" to yourself. Remember that I am grieving and there is nothing you can say to make the pain ease after a stillbirth or a miscarriage. Be a friend --or at least be a thoughtful acquaintance.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Miscarriage –Kept in a Shroud of Silence!

I have recently gotten some requests and questions involving miscarriages.  This was a very hard thing for me to write about for many reasons but most of all having experienced 2 miscarriages and a chemical pregnancy myself it was difficult for me to relive those experiences.  I contemplated for a very long time if I wanted to write about this and if so how much did I want to say.  Then I came to the conclusion that this is more common than people realize, 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage, and yet it is still very hush-hush. 

Most everyone knows someone (no matter how many degrees of separation) who has experienced a miscarriage.  I am not really sure what the stigma is when it comes to miscarriage, but with me personally it was shame!  I felt like my body had betrayed me and I was to blame for losing my babies.  I was afraid people would judge me or pick me apart as to what I did that would have caused me to miscarry.  I was sure it was my fault and everyone would know that.  After having almost every test under the sun we have since learned that we are basically victims of the 1 in 5 and we have gotten the short end of the stick.  There is no known reason for my losses.

 “How do you deal with having a miscarriage?”  - With my first miscarriage we did not really take time to breathe because of my cancer we were kind of on a short time frame.  So we basically jumped right back in when we were given the OK to try again.  I don’t think that we really ever grieved that loss until my 2nd miscarriage a few months ago.  Thankfully Dr. L referred us to a psychologist to help us deal with this most recent loss.  After talking to Dr. M the flood gates just opened up and the feelings and fears from both losses came pouring out.  I was really struggling with the loss and feeling guilty. I felt shame, sadness, emptiness and pain.  My psychologist told us that everything we were feeling was completely normal because we suffered a loss…a death and we were grieving.   It has taken a lot of time, counseling and prayers but we are finally able to move forward.  These pains and feelings will never go away but they will lesson over time.

 “How do you try again after a miscarriage?”  -  That is a hard question to answer.  I don’t think that there is a set time frame of when it’s OK to try again.  It really depends on the emotions and feelings of both you and your spouse.  For me this last one was much harder to move past and we really had to take the time.  We needed to meet with our psychologist and decompress from the loss.  We went back and forth umpteen times deciding that we were ready and then we would go to back to not being ready.  So now it’s time and we have decided to move forward, but the fears of having another miscarriage are very real.  We still believe that our desire to have a child out-weighs those fears and that is how we are able to try again.

Because we have received so many questions about this topic, I am doing 2 posts that will address all the requests for more info.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Better “Icebreaker” Choices

After my last post I received a couple of requests for “better icebreakers” when it comes to meeting new people.  Quite honestly, those old go-to icebreakers are not really a good choice for several reasons; not just because of people going through infertility.  There are single people who may feel the same way about the “Are you married?” question.  Then of course, the “Do you have kids?” question can be hurtful to more than just infertiles…what about parents who lost a child? 

So what are some better suggestions when it comes to those getting to know someone questions?   G and I discussed this at length and were trying to figure out the best way to address those old-fashioned icebreakers.  We decided years ago, when all of our infertility and miscarriage woes started, that we would be extra aware of how our opening questions would affect those we were meeting.  We came up with what we feel is one of the best icebreakers for meeting a new person or couple…”Tell us about your family.”  This gives the individual or couple the ability to say as little or as much as they want about their specific situation.  Perhaps a single person would say something about their parents and being an only child or their siblings; giving you the understanding that there is not a significant other in the picture.  It also allows couples to say as little or as much about their family or lack of having children as they wish.

There are several other questions that have nothing to do with the more intimate part of someone’s life.  Some of our favorite “getting to know you” questions are:
  • Where did you grow up?
  • What do you do for a living?
  • Did you go to college?  What was your major?
  • What do you like to do for fun?
Just remember that you can easily get to know someone better without digging into the truly personal part of their life.  If you hit it off you may have the opportunity to get into the more personal questions later in your relationship.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Why are you waiting so long to start a family?

This was another suggestion from a dear friend of what to write. It is one of those questions that can hit harder than you realize.

Children or the lack there of seems to be the “go-to” question for people when they first meet someone.  Are you married?  Do you have kids?  These seem like such harmless questions but they can be triggers for couples going through infertility.  I think for a lot of us we have become accustomed to the precursor questions.  Do you have kids tends to lead to more in depth probing questions like “Why are you waiting so long to start a family?”  That question seems to hit a little harder for me than the first.  It is just a reminder of all the struggles we have gone through over the years and that there is still no little bundle of joy to show for it.

I know that G and I were just as guilty as anyone else over the years when it came to those icebreaker questions.  I can remember asking one of my now dearest friends, before I knew that they had fertility issues, if she had kids…and of course followed it up with “Why Not?”  I was mortified as we grew closer to learn that she was experiencing infertility and those feelings were more than doubled when G and I realized that we were infertile.

I can tell you for sure that having experienced infertility and the pain of all the probing questions that I will never use those “go-to icebreakers” again!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Am I Going to be in Your Blog?

First I have to say that I am absolutely thrilled that people are reading our blog especially since I was wondering if I really had anything that people would be interested in hearing.   Your support has been overwhelming!  However, I have to say that 2 of the funniest things that I have been hearing about the new blog are, “Are you going to put this in your blog?” or “Am I the one that said that on your blog?” 

Yes, my posts are very real and I have gotten a lot of “inspiration” for them from things people have actually said to us as well as friends who have experienced infertility or miscarriage.  No, that does not necessarily mean that you were the “one” that said it. 

I am writing this blog for 3 reasons: 
·         As a form of therapy for myself and G.
·         To help others who have gone or are going through similar situations .
·         To allow friends and loved ones to understand what someone going through infertility or miscarriage is feeling and needs. 

I hope that those things come across in my writing.   I have really enjoyed sharing my thoughts and rants with everyone.  Going forward just to prevent any further questions or confusion…Yes, you are the one that said it!  ;)

Friday, August 24, 2012

When Infertility Kills the Mood!

I was recently asked to talk about a topic that I know can be very sensitive for anyone going through infertility.  G and I discussed it and decided we are going to hit it head on and give you our 2 cents worth.  So here we go!
Infertility can definitely put a strain on even the strongest of marriages for many reasons including finances, stress of the procedures and intimacy.  Today we are going to talk about intimacy.  For those of us who are less than fertile myrtles we have to time everything and I do mean everything when it comes to conception.  The calendar is covered with days that you must abstain, days you must have intercourse,  normal “female” days…so that leaves what, about 4 days a month that you can be spontaneous!  Quite honestly all those things can really kill the mood.
Fertility treatments can make the process of having a child seem so clinical and intrusive.  The beauty that you imagined when conceiving your child is thrown out the window with the intimacy and romance.  I can remember when we moved on to more invasive treatments and I was sitting in Dr. L’s office before my first IUI procedure bawling my eyes out.  When he asked me what was wrong I was barely able to get the words out, “You are NOT supposed to be involved in this part of the conception!”  Writing this now I can laugh because we are SO FAR past the self-consciousness and humility involved with infertility!!!
Even if you are not going through fertility treatments those stresses are still evident and can still dampen those spontaneous extra-curricular activities.  We become so focused on trying to conceive that I think we forget the reasons for wanting the child.  We forget the person that we fell so deeply in love with that we wanted to create another being with them.  Every once in a while it is important to step back and just relax and take a break from trying to conceive.  Take a month and rekindle some of the romance with your spouse!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Are You Sure You Chose the Right Doctor? Because…

I recently attended a support group meeting and during the introductions it appeared that several of the women had all seen a particular doctor at some point during the fertility process and had some real “horror” stories.  This really got me thinking about this and my own infertility journey. 

I know first hand what it is like to have someone question your choice of doctor because of things they have read on the internet, heard from other friends or what they think is the best course of action for you.  First of all no one likes to be questioned when it comes to their choice of medical team and no one really wants to hear all the scary stories you have heard about other doctors.  I do believe that it is imperative to find the doctor that works best for you and your spouse and do your research before choosing a doctor.  Talking to people who have seen the doctor you are considering is a good idea, but don’t listen to the second hand gossip from others.

I did not originally choose my doctor.  He was sort of a package deal with my Oncologist.  I did not really know if I would even make it past the cancer phase of my journey to see a Reproductive Endocrinologist let alone be able to even start fertility treatments again.  Don’t get me wrong I researched the mess out of him before I agreed to continue with him!  I am however, VERY BLESSED to have Dr. L as my RE.  He is an absolutely amazing doctor and I can not imagine being on this journey with anyone else. My personality is not exactly what you would call up-tight and Dr. L has this ability to know exactly what I need each visit.  He can laugh and joke around with me on my good days and comfort me on my bad.  He is honest, caring and dedicated to do whatever he can to make me a mother.  I could not have made a better decision when I chose Dr. L and thank God everyday for him!

I encourage you to do your research when choosing a doctor and if you are not comfortable with him/her when you have your first visit then it is OK to find the doctor that works best for you.  Infertility is stressful enough without adding a doctor that doesn’t meet your needs into the mix!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Trying to Eliminate the “Why?”

Infertility is riddled with “Whys?”  Why can't I get pregnant? Why did I have a miscarriage? Why can any irresponsible 16 year old girl get pregnant and I can't? Why is something that seems so simple for others so hard for me?  Quite honestly what it all comes down to is…Why me?

I often fall into the “Why me?” trap and it is one of the hardest things for me to understand during infertility or a miscarriage.  In life we all go through trials and sometimes those trials seem to be more than we can bear, so we rely on God to hold us and help us through the trials.  And yet, I don’t know how anyone could lose a child and not have at least a few questions for God.  For one, if God loves us, then why do we have to suffer?  G and I have come to the conclusion that trying to learn the “whys” of God is going to do nothing but drive us crazy.  For now, it is our goal to keep Faith and know that God WILL complete our family, however that may be! 

These words are far easier said than done.  I want to continue to have Hope and Faith, but there are days that I am doing good just to get myself out of bed and go to work.  Those are the days that I really struggle with the “Whys” and have to rely on the strength of G, friends and family to get me through.  I am very blessed to have a large support group that is happy to deal with me and my emotional outbursts!  I have continued to cling to a bible verse that has also given me comfort and strength to continue this journey.  (Hebrews 11:1 NIV) Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Most Infertile Woman in America!

Like many infertile women I am often unable to avoid my own thoughts of being pregnant or more to the point, my lack thereof!!!  No matter how hard I try I can’t shake these thoughts…I am sure it has nothing to do with starting fertility treatments again.   Since the beginning of our “unproductive reproduction” I have felt like the most infertile woman in America.

The other night while G and I were out, one of my “other personalities” began to rant about all my fears of trying again, having another miscarriage and never having children.  Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Everywhere I looked I saw a pregnant woman or a new baby.  I swear I saw like 12 women who were pregnant...OK maybe it was only 3, but still.  Then we get home and turn on the TV to see a show where a teenage girl was pregnant and didn’t want her baby.  Follow that up by checking out Facebook and seeing that everyone I know is pregnant with like their 14th child.  Some days I feel like no matter where I go or what I do there are babies and pregnancy everywhere and I can't run away from it fast enough! I must be the most infertile woman in America!

If pregnancy was an actual track event I would be in last place.  In fact I am pretty sure I would have been lapped several times at this point.  It seems like everyone is on their second and third babies while I have yet to carry my first child to term.  After all the treatments we have been through and how precise the timing has to be to conceive it is absolutely amazing to me that anyone can get pregnant.  After seeing how easy it is for so many women to conceive, the Giant Green Monster of jealously settles in.  I know jealousy is ugly and it makes me into a person that I don’t want to be.  It is a part of me and I wish I could walk away from those feelings everyday!  Unfortunately, I experience these feelings on a regular basis; whenever I see a pregnant woman or new mother.

The fact is, it’s hard, very hard to not be jealous while going through infertility!  This is something I struggle with daily.  I know that one day these feelings will pass, but in the mean time I will continue to do what I need to keep my sanity and pray that others will understand if I turn down those invites to baby showers, find somewhere urgent I need to be when you pull out pictures of your newborn niece or excuse myself from a cute story about your little one!!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

It’s Kick-Off Time in the Fertility Bowl (can you tell I am ready for football?)

Well it’s that time again.  I met with my favorite Doctor today and we are kicking off our next round of fertility treatments.   It has been about 6 weeks since we suffered our last miscarriage.  After a lot of crying, depression, counseling and prayer we are finally ready to begin trying to conceive again (or as ready as we can be).  Don’t get me wrong we are still scared of having another miscarriage while at the same time afraid of not getting pregnant at all.  Our desire to grow our family out-weighs those fears.  The emotions involved in the fertility game are brutal!

So as we begin the rollercoaster ride of fertility induced personality disorders, stress and fears we will try our best to focus on our diaphragmatic breathing and just relax so we can get pregnant!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Guest Post – Five more things not to say to people suffering from infertility or miscarriage and Five you should.

When C asked me to read through her top 10, I got to the end and said, “They’re great but you missed…”  It sounded like a great opportunity for my first guest post.  Here are five more things you should never say to people suffering from infertility or miscarriage and five you should. 
  1. Follow up questions to “Do you have kids” – This one is just good common sense for any person that ever answers “No” to the do you have kids questions, which by the way is pretty bad as far as ice breakers go.  You never know what their situation is.  Take a hint and leave it alone.  Things like, “Why not”, “Do you just not want kids”, and my favorite, “Oh, is there something wrong with one of you?” are just uncalled for.  See C’s earlier post for a good way to shut down these questions before they start.
  2. What caused the miscarriage? – This question is so far out of bounds for me, I can barely think about it.  It has many forms like, “Do you think x caused the miscarriage?” and “Did you do x, because I’ve heard that it could cause miscarriage?”  Do me a favor and try to envision any scenario where this question could help your friend through their pain.
  3. How are you holding up? – This question ranks from not so bad to terrible in my book depending on the situation.  If I’m in a one on one scenario where we are talking about the situation, sure it’s fine to ask.  If we’re standing in the middle of a crowded room, it just isn’t.  Best case I’m going to lie and say “ok” or “fine”, worst case I’m going to tell you what’s really going on which is never fun to do with people all around. 
  4. The head tilted frown of pity – Ok, so it’s not strictly a question but it is often accompanied with one of the questions on the list, usually “How are you holding up” especially in the crowded room scenario.  This one is all about context for me.  If we are sitting alone and I’m venting out all of my feelings, it is natural and completely appropriate.  If I’m in the middle of a conversation about sports with someone else and you walk up with the pity face, you have just sent me from holding up pretty well to the center of my pain, thanks for that.
  5. Do you know if it was a boy or girl? – Oh my God, why would you ask that?  No one asked me this; it was passed on from a friend that had suffered an early term miscarriage.  I can only imagine the pain on her face when she heard it.
Here are some better things to say, in my opinion at least.  Commenters, what do you think?
  1. “I don’t know why this is happening, but I do know that we will get you through it.” – A perfect replacement for C’s number one, “God has a plan.”
  2. “I know things are tough, is there a specific prayer I could be saying for you?” – This is a good all-around question that allows the person to go as specific or general as they fell comfortable.
  3. “How can I help you through this?” – Another good multi-situational question.
  4. “I have a friend that went through something similar; would you like me to introduce them to you?” – Much better than the friend’s, boyfriend’s, cousin’s horror story you were going to tell.
  5. “Can I come over and mow your yard so you don’t have to worry about it?” – Ok, that one is on here solely because I hate mowing the yard, but you get the picture.

Friday, August 17, 2012

My Friend’s Boyfriend’s Cousin Almost Died...

Why on earth do people feel that it is important to tell me that your friend’s boyfriend’s cousin almost died while going through fertility treatments?  Yes, that is very helpful to tell me a terrifying story about a freak incident that someone had while going through the same procedures as me!  There is literally a list of things that people should never say to someone experiencing infertility or miscarriage. 
Here's My Top 10:
  1. God has a plan. – Unless you are privy to the inner workings of God’s plan I do not need to be reminded of his plans for my life.
  2. Just relax and you will get pregnant. – Though relaxation is important during treatments for your own sanity it is not the reason that a woman is infertile!  Besides, she might just punch you!
  3. Why don’t you just adopt? – Because adoption is not like going to Target and just “buying” a baby.  As anyone who has adopted or is going through the process now can attest the stresses involved with adoption are just as great as infertility. 
  4. How much is this costing you? – Uhm…none of your damn business!  Oh, wait, are you offering to pay for it?  No, then yeah, none of your damn business!
  5. Pregnant yet? Where are you in the process? – If and when she is ready to tell you she will.  Your continued asking is not helpful to an already stressful situation.
  6. It could be worse – Really?  How do you know?  For a couple who wants children there is nothing worse and to be fair you don’t know exactly what they have been through.
  7. Are you sure you chose the best doctor? – Unless your opinion is asked for…do not question their choice of medical team.
  8. Think of all the fun things you can do without children. – If they didn’t really want children do you really think they would be spending all their time and money on trying to have a child?
  9. When my friend couldn’t get pregnant… – No one wants to hear what worked for other people or what you read on the internet.  Everyone’s situation is unique and theirs alone!
  10. Don’t you think you’ve done enough? – A couple experiencing infertility or a loss will determine on their own (or perhaps with the help of a medical professional) when enough is enough!
So what’s left to do and say? Plenty! A note that you’re thinking of them, a shoulder to cry on and an open supportive ear (when they are ready) go a long way.  The bottom line is that nothing you say or do can fix it or make better.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Just Relax and You’ll Get Pregnant!

How many times have you heard, “If you just relax then you will get pregnant?”   Whew…thanks so much for sharing that little tidbit!  How come the man that I have paid thousands of dollars and has a medical degree with a specialty in infertility didn’t tell me that to begin with?  I know that people really want to be helpful and feel that they HAVE to say something, but sometimes it is better just to keep your mouth shut.  Amongst all us “infertiles” this piece of advice has really just become part of the running list of jokes that we all know by heart.  Here is the problem, on the outside it is funny, but for most women struggling with infertility it really hits home.  Being told that simply relaxing will allow you to conceive can feel like someone has added a 10,000lb weight onto an already overloaded back. If only it were that simple! 
I’ve tried yoga, bending and twisting myself into fun shapes, diaphragmatic breathing, candles and music soundscapes frantically trying to relax.  When the entire time I am thinking, relax… OK, relax…No; really relax…I SAID RELAX DAMN IT!!!  Now I am right back to being stressed only sore and short of breath. 
Though I am sure that some sort of relaxation can be helpful in keeping you calm during fertility treatments it is not the reason you are infertile!  So yes do yoga, but only do the poses that feel soothing and calming to you. Listen to whatever music you like…sing it at the top of your lungs and just enjoy the time.  Watch a silly movie with your husband while holding each other in silence.  The best thing we can do during infertility is to embrace any moment that gives you the smallest bit of happiness!!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

“God has a Plan”

I ‘m sure everyone going through infertility, miscarriage or the adoption process has received the frequent, well-intentioned but extremely insensitive “advice.”  If we all sit down for a minute we can rattle off about a dozen, but the most painful to me are “God has a plan” and “Maybe God never meant for you to have children.”  I don’t know about you, but it’s good to know that someone has an idea of what God’s plans are.  I personally think it’s rude that they know God’s plan and won’t share it with me. 
Why do people feel that it is helpful to tell someone going through infertility and loss that what they are experiencing is because God has a plan?  Really?  Is that supposed to comfort me?  After my last miscarriage that was/is the last thing I wanted to hear. In my mind, there was no reason that this should be happening to me…again! The funny thing is that these same people would have never said to me when I was diagnosed with cancer “God has a plan and maybe He never meant for you to survive."   Now that I am infertile people feel that I am just supposed to move on with my life.  Oh, you don’t or can’t have kids, just enjoy it.

Being a believer what do I think the point of our journey through cancer, infertility and miscarriage is for?  I cannot even pretend to know the plans of God but I can tell you what I have learned and gained through all of these experiences.  My relationship with G is stronger, closer and has a love deeper than I could have ever imagined.  I think God has given us the strength, courage, compassion and hope to get back up and face the world after each trial. 

I don’t believe that God meant for us to be childless.  I believe that we are in this valley to build a desire, a thirst for a child so strong and so deep that we could love ANY child that comes into our lives.  I know that one way or another we will be parents and because of our infertility the joy that awaits us will be greater than anything I could imagine! (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Multiple Personalities of Infertility

Any woman dealing with infertility or a miscarriage knows the heartache and pain involved.  Every man going through infertility or miscarriage with his wife knows the “multiple personalities” involved!  (I am sure G is shaking his head fervently as he reads this post!)   Let me explain what I mean by multiple personalities?  You know, one day you are fine and can almost forget your treatments or loss and then in a blink of an eye you are depressed, crying and feeling hopeless!

I am the epitome of infertility induced personality disorders and you never know which one of me you are going to get these days.   I can start the day refreshed, happy and relaxed and then…BAM, I do a complete 180 and am crying uncontrollably!  The smallest thing can send me into a downward spiral and G has no clue what has triggered the meltdown.  After this most recent loss my swings are far more prevalent than when I am just going through fertility treatments.  The last week has been like a scene from Fatal Attraction and G has been a total trooper.  I started with I don’t know that I can go through more treatments and a possible loss to we are going to start adopting now to we are never having children and then back to fertility treatments.  Throw in some hysterical crying and undecipherable mumbling and that makes for a fun week!

Just know that all those feelings you are having are normal and they will come and go, but eventually they will fade and there will be more good than bad.  I for one am so blessed to have such an amazing man walking with me through this journey and at times carrying me when I can’t walk on my own.   I encourage you to look for the positive and know God works for the good in all things the next time you are in the midst of those infertility struggles. (Philippians 1:6 ESV) And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Put it in a Box, Close the Lid and Forget it for a While!

Couples who experience miscarriage have few moments where they don’t have some sort of reminder that they are childless; whether it is a commercial with an adorable little chubby cheeked baby, the insensitive or oblivious comment from a stranger or the pitiful look from friends and loved ones.  We hope and pray for a pregnancy and to lose it later is devastating.  We have to actually experience grief to be able to move forward.  We must feel the pain and the sadness that comes with the loss and face the reality of what we have lost. So how do you find peace or joy during the grieving process?

It is imperative that couples communicate with each other and be mindful that they are on this journey together.  It’s OK to tell your spouse that you need to put it in a box, close the lid and forget about it for a while.  Make those moments happen and share them with each other.  Find something mindless to watch on TV, dive into a book that can take you away, watch a silly light hearted movie or go out on a date (choose a place that is child free).  You may not be able to shut it down for a long period of time, but take any time you can and enjoy being with each other.

Though you will survive the loss it is not something you will ever forget or never revisit.  It is a major part of what defines your life story.  Just remember that you are not alone and remember the blessing you have in your partner.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Get Out of My Uterus...and Stay Out!!!

G and I had a very long week and just wanted to go to dinner and relax.  Then it happened...we were blindsided by the "baby police". We walked into the restaurant and I tell the hostess, " Two please" to which she replies, "Do you need a children's menu?". Why yes, I do need a children's menu for the 6'1" man standing beside me!  Better yet perhaps I could take one for the child that is curled up inside my purse napping!  What do you say when you are hit with those out of the blue questions about children?  What do you do when the socially acceptable ice breaker is "Do you have kids?"  How do you handle those stupid or invasive questions? 

It seems like in today's society people feel entitled to intrude into our lives purely for the purpose of their own curiosity or satisfaction.  So how do you  keep people out of your uterus?  My best answer actually came from a dear friend, who has no kids, no infertility issues and is not trying to have kids.  She said to answer that dreaded question of " Do you have kids?" with "Unfortunately, no".  Even for the dense this response allows people to have the answer to their question with the understanding there is obviously something there and let it go.  G & I had the opportunity to use this at a party a few weeks ago.  It worked great!  The person totally got the hint and moved on.  I encourage you the next time you are asked if you have kids to give it a try!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Why Don’t You Just Adopt?

Oh by all means…I never thought of that.  Why don’t we just adopt?  I guess all those helpful supporters that feel like they have to say something just assume that you can run down to your nearest Target (or if you are high end…Macy’s) and buy the cutest little baby in what ever size or color your heart desires.  The adoption process can be just as overwhelming and stressful as fertility treatments.  You can’t just “Buy” a baby.

Adoption has so many variables and decisions that have to be made you can not make that decision lightly.  First you have to decide are you emotionally and mentally ready to adopt?  Can you accept and love a child that is not biologically yours or is racially or culturally different?  Do both spouses agree that adoption is a good way to grow your family?  Once you have made those decisions then you have to decide whether you want to do a domestic or a foreign adoption…both of which have their own pros and cons.   Deciding to adopt makes your lives an open book and the home study dives deep down into your private lives.  So the question, “Why don’t you just adopt?” is not as simple as it sounds.

Don’t be discouraged though, adoption is an amazing resource and can be a fantastic way to expand your family.  Don’t let the paperwork and home study deter you.  Just prepare yourself for the process.  See a counselor or join a support group that can help you review all of your options, answer those questions and walk you through the decision of deciding if adoption is right for you.  Check out some of the available resources…

And next time you are given the helpful suggestion of “Why don’t you just adopt?”   Simply respond with, “Because the cat is allergic!”

Thursday, August 9, 2012

SHHH…We’re Infertile!

Infertility has always been taboo to talk about outside of your marriage and doctor.  Which is ironic since it's something that plagues millions of people everyday.  So why is it such a secret?  I know personally I feel that I am responsible and ashamed.  I struggle everyday desperately wanting something so beautiful and it not happening.  G and I have been struggling with infertility for well over 4 years now.  I have always kept “my secret” to a limited number of people because of my own feelings and fears of being judged by society.  So why am I talking about it now?

Over the last 4 years I have struggled with feeling alone and wanting someone to talk or just vent to.  I wanted to know that all those feelings (rational or irrational) were normal and that other women were just as “crazy” as I was.  I wanted to hear stories of couples in the same situations as G and I and know we weren’t the only ones on this journey.  I was too afraid to get out of my own comfort zone and talk about that dreaded word…INFERTILITY!!!  But now I know that I can break through those walls of secrecy and shame and share my story.  My life’s mission is to be a mom.  This has been my only true ambition since I was a teenage girl babysitting the neighbor’s kids.  Through this blog I will show the trials and triumphs that we go through in our journey to build our family.  I will share where we are in the process of building our family, the stupid things that come out of people’s mouths when it comes to infertility as well as my faith while on this path.  I hope that I can shed light on this growing epidemic in a funny, faithful and heartfelt way! 

Stick around because you never know what is going to come out of my mouth!!!