Friday, April 29, 2011

Myth: Children Come When You're Not Stressed

If the first year of trying was all fun and games (which for most women is not the case), then the diagnosis of infertility during the second year will surely get the stress hormones surging. It was about two years into this stressful trying when much to my relief, I found out I was pregnant with E.  I thought, "Ah, Finally. What great timing...he's going to arrive at just the right time in my husband's medical school training." Little did I know that the nine months I carried E and the months that followed his delivery would be a "series of unfortunate events" as we would later refer to them in our Christmas letter.

We were living an ocean away from all our families as my husband began medical school in Israel. The stormy events started when we heard about three American tourists who had been severely burned in a fire and were hospitalized at the medical center near the medical school. They had no cell phones and no way to contact their families so I spent days running back and forth between our apartment and the hospital bringing them food, computers, phones, and a little love and encouragement.

After weeks in the burn unit caring for these unfortunate tourists, my husband and I got a 5:00 a.m. phone call from my sister-in-law in the States saying that my husband's parents had been seriously injured in a plane crash. A mere twelve hours later, we were on-board a flight back to the States with no assurance they would still be alive when we arrived. Six hours into the thirteen hour flight, my husband began having severe lower back pain. It was a kidney stone. His first one ever. I could only stand in the galley of the plane and watch - white as a sheet and probably near dehydration myself - as my husband writhed in pain.  After hours of labor-esque pain, without pain meds, he passed the stone. Upon landing, we rushed him straight to the ER at the very same hospital where my in-laws were being prepped for emergency surgery. Over the next six weeks, I took care of them in the hospital and later at a rehab facility before finally joining them in their transition back home. I was somewhere into my second trimester by this time. And I remember driving to see my family and feeling little E move for the first highlight in the midst of a lot of chaos.

My husband flew back to Israel and began taking make up exams for the exam period he had missed....while also trying to begin an entire new semester of 2nd year med school courses. He was in over his head in so many ways and continued to have kidney stones that would appear at the most inopportune times, like the night before an exam.

The weekend I arrived back in Israel, I had such severe abdominal pain that I had to go to the ER. After lots of blood work, ultrasounds, and prodding they diagnosed me with acute pancreatitis... which itself was a freak diagnosis since I was young, healthy, and not an alcoholic. The doctors wanted to admit me to the hospital, but after 8 hours in the ER I only wanted to go home. I begged and pleaded and eventually convinced the doctors to let me tough out the recovery at home. And although I got to recover at home, the insurance nightmare that followed created more stress than I would have experienced if I had just stayed the night in a hospital bed.

Finally, after nine trying months, our little bundle of joy arrived. BUT he didn't enter the world until I had endured 23 hours of grueling one-minute-apart contractions (20 of those hours at home without an epidural) followed by another 3 hours of extremely difficult pushing before E arrived. As I held his little warm body in my arms I thought to myself, "Well, so much for perfect timing." The book of Ecclesiastes says there is a time to be born and a time to die...but it doesn't promise ANYTHING about it being a happy, stress-free time!

Four weeks later, I had just gotten the hang of breastfeeding when a fire broke out in our apartment, leaving my poor husband hospitalized for smoke inhalation. 24 hours later, I was in the same hospital with appendicitis and an emergency appendectomy. That was the breaking point for the hubby, who had to withdraw from his 2nd year of med school. Again, not exactly what I would call perfect timing. In fact, I was pretty sure at this point, that I had given birth to the perfect baby in a world that was absolutely falling apart around me! We ended up with a total of 8 ER visits in under one year.

Of course, I love my son with all that is in me and I would take him in a time of serenity or in the eye of the storm. He is wonderful even when the timing is not. One thing I learned through all of this is how little control I have in life and in my family planning. Whatever control I feel I have, is often just an illusion. My period came back when E was 3 months old, and I again bought into a popular fertility myth: that once you've had one successful pregnancy, the next one will come naturally and easily.

We began trying again when E was 6 months old. As I write this, it's been 4 years since I got pregnant with E and still no more pregnancies. We're now facing IVF as soon as we can scrap together the funds. I obviously don't need to brace myself for having children one year apart, or stress about not being able to nurse my babies for a solid year because of impending pregnancy. No, I'll take children whenever and however they may come to our family.

It's only been a couple weeks since I broke my silence and entered the world of infertility bloggers. If you would also like to raise awareness about infertility myths and learn more about National Infertility Awareness Week check out Resolve's website here. And for a basic understanding of infertility click here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Teetering on the Balance Beam

There are a lot of lessons to learn down the path of infertility, but one in particular has allowed me to live with greater freedom emotionally.


My husband and I have always taken the position that infertility cannot rule our life. This is more complicated than one might think. Not only do you have the ever-ticking biological clock in the form of your menstrual cycle monthly, there are also lots of reminders throughout the month. And if you're doing treatment, then you have blood work that has to happen on certain days of your cycle, injections, ultrasounds, etc. etc. NOT to mention, trying to time your intimate moments around ovulation or for sperm tests and IUIs. It all becomes very complicated and VERY much on your mind....daily. The harder you try not to think about it, the more it won't leave your thoughts!

In a lot of ways, doing nothing to treat infertility and just waiting for a miracle, is easier. I've done both. There have been many months that I couldn't do anything due to financial restraints, insurance, moving etc. I personally find both doing "nothing" and doing "something" to be difficult in different ways. So I'm not claiming in this post to have arrived at perfect balance, but we have learned to make decisions apart from my infertility. We try to see the big picture in any given situation and do what's best for everyone involved, regardless of the state of my womb.

I had been looking forward to getting some more answers this month, but thanks to my period arriving when it does, I'm going to have to skip all the tests this cycle. This month, I'm going to take care of my emotional health first by doing some travel to see family and friends and attending a seminar called FOCUS. I know very little about it, so I'll have to fill in details later. What I do know, is that this opportunity was handed to me and I decided the timing was perfect to take it. I've made similar decisions over the last 3 years of "trying," whether it was to travel to see family, be a bridesmaid in my cousin's wedding, or take care of moving happens. We try not to bend over backwards and do anything extraordinary that would make our life more stressful in the already stressful process of making a baby.

I've read similar thoughts from other infertility bloggers. Some point out the need to look at all aspects of making your life healthy and not develop tunnel vision about your infertility. If I consume myself with trying to make something happen without taking the time to savor all aspects of my life, I'll lose some of my sanity along this journey.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Burkas and Bikinis

Emotional basket case.
An open book.
Wearing your feelings on the outside.

All the above phrases have been used to describe me and boyfriends in my past have used my "free expression of emotion" as a grounds for ending the relationship. The best description yet, came to me last week through my sister who reported how my parents had described me: "Kaitlin wears an emotional bikini." At first, I was just slightly offended until I told my husband who laughed and said, "Wow, that's so true!" Then, I was a little more offended... until he said, "Honey, I would rather you wear a bikini than a wear a costume like most of the world. You are true to yourself and you share from your heart." Since my husband was in a previous relationship with a girl who was an emotional vault, he appreciates being aware of everything I'm thinking and feeling. It's not always pretty, but it's real.

Even though sharing my personal life with friends and family has always come naturally to me, sharing my infertility story has been one of the toughest transparency tests yet. The first week I started blogging, I felt nauseous every day just knowing that one of the tenderest areas of my heart was out there for the world to read. I was sharing this struggle with a close friend who happens to be the polar-opposite of me in her level of "sharing." She said, "Well, if you wear an emotional bikini then I wear an emotional burka." We both started laughing, but I started thinking. You know, there's room in the world for both. As I read through other fertility blogs, I, myself, was shocked at just how much detail some people share. Then there are some blogs that are 100% anonymous.

I grew up as a full-blown extravert in an immediate family of introverts and an extended family who kept their feelings private. I was often asked to stop talking and just be quiet for a few minutes. My sisters must have thought my emotional roller coaster of the teen years put me pretty close to nut-so. And there were moments, I admit, that I probably was teetering on the edge of "emotionally disturbed." With age, comes wisdom, right? I've learned over time with whom to share and what to share....and most importantly I've learned to put virtual duct tape on my mouth during that time of the month! There is a time and place for everything.

This is my time to share about infertility and this is the place to get some of those details and emotions recorded for posterity! What I believe is important in everyone's emotional health, is that they find someone and someway to express their true thoughts and feelings. Like my friend who is very private, she has found the outlet she needs in a mother, husband, close friend. She doesn't need everyone in her world, knowing every detail of her life, to feel happy and free. What I believe is unhealthy is when people hide their emotions, don't confide in anyone, and project an image of themselves that is not their reality. This is the costume analogy. 

Be real. Be vulnerable. Be free. I have found people in my life that I can trust with some of the deepest, darkest, and most beautiful parts of my heart, but my husband and my God get ALL of me...the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Infertility Bloggers-It's a large community


I have had a very intense week so I haven't had time to get any thoughts into writing. Tonight I took the time to explore the greater world of infertility/motherhood/child loss bloggers. It's truly amazing and inspiring. I stumbled upon this published writer's blog and the list she creates each year of best blogs in this arena. I'm sharing this list with you to give you a spring board to do your own exploration on the topic and read the amazing stories of so many women out there!

I. am. inspired.

Another Reason to Reject PETA


This blog about PETA using National Infertility Awareness Week, to give away a free vasectomy, is another reason to reject PETA's position on animal and human rights.

"I do not think it is wrong to thoughtfully and gratefully use animals for human needs. I do think it is morally wrong to use the suffering of fellow humans to advertise a misanthropic cynical giveaway which doesn’t even help animals."

If You Just Relax, It Will Happen...Or Not.

Just When Couple Finally Stops Stressing
There are so many things I want to say here, but I'll just let the humor soak in. How many times is a couple trying to conceive told that they just need to relax and stop "trying"? So many times that most couples never share their journey with infertility. :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

I'm a sprinter not a marathoner...or am I?

Heart thumping, hands shaking, butterflies swirling in my stomach as I watched the elite women athletes run by in the Boston marathon this morning. I was in total awe. I was pulling for Kara Goucher who finished 5th today (picture of her running through finish line). She finished 3rd the last time we lived in Boston in 2009, but in the meantime she had a baby... and today she beat her previous best marathon time! I read an interview with her and she said she was running until the day she delivered her baby boy...even that very day! BUT, it's clear from her interviews that motherhood is way more exciting and dear to her heart than running. She said she was more excited about his two little teeth coming through than this race. I hope the video I took turns out okay but I was trembling and screaming, "GO KARA, GOOOOOO!"

I've always wanted to be some kind of athlete. My scoliosis and the 4 years spent in a full-torso, body brace, sorta sealed the deal on my physical limitations. I do physical therapy now just to keep up with a normal lifestyle and chase Ethan around the park. In my heart, I'm a sprinter. I ran two, 10 K races in Israel...and whenever I saw the finish line, no matter how exhausted I was, I just sprinted...I couldn't help it! Watching them today made me want to fly like the wind! This week I've been thinking about how I was created to be a sprinter more naturally than a long distance runner- in every aspect of my life. And, yet, God in His wisdom has called me to develop the endurance, patience, and discipline needed to be a marathoner in a couple key areas. 1) my husband's long trek through a MD/PhD and 2) my infertility and journey to grow our family.

"Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

Do you see that? God doesn't want me to "lack anything." I'm feeling the love. I can endure a lot of things, even very painful things--for a short period of time. My labor with Ethan was 26 hours. At about 20 hours, I wondered if I would survive it, not because of the extremely painful, 1-min-apart contractions...but because they lasted for a day! Had he come in 3-12 hours, I would have still had something left in me. The ONLY thing left in me when he arrived was the most intense relief I'd ever felt and some adrenaline...everything else was exhaustion! Hmmm...I bet the winners today felt similar emotions! So, yes, in a strange sort of way, I've done my 26.2!

I don't like when the finish line is nowhere in sight. However, just as the "dash" between the dates on a tombstone tell the REAL story, so does the season we walk through SLOWLY. Today I saw a t-shirt that said, "Just a walk in the park." hahahahaha. Not to dismiss the pain of our struggles, but there is a certain strength of character that comes when we're able to savor the sprints and the marathons, when we focus on making the dash between the beginning of our life and the end of it, really count.

"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Romans 5:4-5

Before last year, I had never run in my life. I was inspired by a dear friend who was training for a marathon as a complete non-runner. She had never done a race in her life but felt compelled to train for a marathon! She listened to God throughout her training and she ran as much as He directed....and she did it. She ran a marathon as her first race! So I was inspired and decided to start running as an outlet for my frustrations and a way to keep my body fit for the day when I would carry another baby. Running was therapeutic going into my second year of "trying." I would run along the Mediterranean and think and pray and sometimes get mad at my body. I pushed myself harder when I got mad at what wasn't working right! When I started doing treatment last summer, my ovaries hurt so much I had to drastically cut back on my running. And then I dropped it completely when we moved back to the States.

But now in this season of reflecting, I see how God is preparing me both for the sprints and the marathons of life...and I feel stronger...I feel like God's little athlete...I'm on His team and He's cheering me on as I stumble, sometimes fall, and sometimes smoothly sail along.  I'm learning to enjoy different paces and the different scenery along the way. Go Kait GOOOOO!!!!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tick Tock Goes the Clock

Timing...God's timing...our timing. Time. Outside of time. Constrained by time. Waiting on the right time. What is the right time? Do we get to choose the time? Who is in control of time? Timing.

If you've ever waited on anything in your life...and if you're a breathing human being, you have...time is like the heart beat of life, and yet, like our own heart beat, we have very little control over it. What control we do have, I sometimes wonder if it is more illusion than reality. We all want to feel in control and we certainly try our hardest to manipulate the constraints of time, but do we really succeed?

I realize there are women reading my blog that don't believe in God. I can only talk about my experiences through my own filters. God has never been so strangely absent and so vividly present in my life as He has been in the area of my fertility. I like this Beth Moore definition of Providence: "As times when God trumps your perfectly good plan with one of His own...then seems to disappear from it. He's right there and He's there right. He is never more present than when He is strangely absent."

I believe in a God who is bigger than time and yet works within and without it. I believe He doesn't waste time while I'm waiting. I believe He's behind the scenes orchestrating everything in my life to accomplish His greater purposes. I'm not afraid of this because I know that He is good. Do I understand how he works and why I have to wait? No.

Beth says, "I don't know exactly how God perfects plans that seem so bleak to us in process, but these two things I do know: He never takes His eyes off of us or off the clock ticking over us." He is hard at work in your life, and the same eye that is on the sparrow is on the wristwatch."

"God created time, and no human can take it from Him or use it against Him. Time is significant to God mostly because His children who are temporarily bound by its tenets are significant to God. Every man-scheduled date subjected upon one of his children is written, not just on a doctor's calendar...It is written on God' that time is God's alone to give."

Tick tock... tick tock. Resting in His peace and trusting that He is well aware of my biological clock.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"You're late...but you're also pregnant!"

Our culture lives in the "now" and most of us don't enjoy reviewing our personal history. What I'm learning in blogging our story of the last 6 years, is that it reminds me of all the ways God has been faithful in our life. I'm more thankful looking back then I was in the moment. Not only is April a national campaigning month to bring awareness to infertility, it is also the month we're celebrating Passover. God did a mighty act in bringing His children out of Egypt and He has done some mighty things in my life too. So I'm remembering and retelling. I encourage you to do the same!

And funny I should mention Passover because that's where I left off with yesterday's blog. It was Passover break 4 years ago (and 2 years into our marriage) that we flew home to the States and enjoyed a week vacation with our families. We met up with some dear, dear friends from Kansas City and we shared with them our desire for a child. They prayed over me and asked God to open my womb. That week, our first miracle happened...although, I wouldn't know for a couple more weeks! We got back to Israel and I prepared from my next ObGyn appointment where I would start taking medication to induce ovulation. It may not seem like a long time to be trying, but medically speaking, if you have been trying to conceive for a year, you can seek treatment. We actually waited almost two years because I wanted to be conservative in seeking treatment for a number of reasons.

The day of my doctor's appointment, I was running errands in Haifa, I remember exactly the spot I was driving when I thought to myself, "I'll just go home and take a pregnancy test because my period was supposed to start today and it hasn't yet." It was day 28 of my cycle. So when I got home, I peed on the stick and nothing line. I began chastising myself for taking ANOTHER unnecessary test, "Kaitlin, why can't you be you just wasted $10.00 for nothing!" I went back into the bathroom where I had left the stick on the floor. I looked down and there was the faintest 2nd line...I almost had to imagine it! BUT I quickly got on the computer and googled "faint line on pregnancy test." When I learned that this was positive, I called David who had a rather awkward reaction because he was surrounded by classmates. He said, "Really? Okay, I'll come right home!"

We rushed to our doctor's appt., walked in late with test in hand, and the doctor looked at me and said, "You're late." I just handed her the test and she said, "You're also pregnant!" She smiled and said, "See, all it takes is a little faith." We were sooooo excited, we didn't wait a day to start telling our closest friends. I waited till Mother's Day in May to tell my mom and mother-in-law. Thus began our journey with our little peanut. And a month later, my best friend got pregnant with her son as well. We had taken several walks down the coast of the Mediterranean, dreaming about starting our families. I had already been trying for a year when we met, and she had come to Israel newly married. We were VERY excited to be sharing the miracle of pregnancy together!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It All Started When Two People Fell In Love

Today I begin the story, from the beginning. I'm one of those women, nearly extinct now, that always dreamed of being a mother. I wanted 8 children and I wanted to wear high heeled shoes every day and go, "tap, tap, click" down a spiral staircase. :)  We romantize much of motherhood as little girls but those hours spent playing with our dolls, is also great preparation for the future. I nursed my baby dolls, and why not? Every mom around me was nursing their real babies in my Mom's LLL support group. I even went through a phase where I begged my parents for a monkey because I so badly wanted to have a creature that I could put in diapers! I even dreamed about carrying my crying monkey to the nursery in church to tend to his needs. When the monkey idea was shot down, I decided that I just needed to pray with all my might...with that little mustard seed of faith, that my doll would turn into a real baby--overnight. I tucked my little doll in her cradle and went to bed asking God to make her into a real baby...and totally believing that He could and He would. I remember running down the stairs to check on her the next morning only to see her little china face, unchanged. I think I said something like, "that's okay God--sigh--I'll still love her and you." I was crazy about mothering and a little type A even then...I wrote out chore-list for my kids and assigned the duties that it would take to keep a home with 8 kids organized and happy. My sisters called me "fertile Mertile" because I was a little on the hormonal side of balanced.

Then I met David. On a road trip with friends, I remember a conversation about family size. Both of us thought it peculiar that we had both thought 8 was the perfect number since we weren't even dating at the time. Fast forward to our marriage. We did what most modern couples do before getting married, research the various options for contraception and I even tried taking an oral contraceptive for about a month. Eating soda crackers and sipping on sprite all day was not my idea of a fun honeymoon so I ditched the pills. Then we tried a monitor from the UK. Basically, you pee on a stick for about a week of the month and it gives you a red light for days you are fertile and green for when you're in the clear. About three months into our marriage we decided to be "open" to whenever God would give us children. Now, mind you...this was counter to popular counsel for newly weds..."It's nice to have at least a year to focus on your marriage and build a stronger foundation" and "medical school is extremely demanding, perhaps you'll want to wait until David is done with his schooling." We both braced ourselves for having children back-to-back.

I want to bust a myth today....a myth particularly popular in the Christian community. The myth goes like this: IF you trust God fully with your fertility/family planning (by doing nothing to prevent pregnancy), you will end up with a large family. Part of the reason this is the prevalent idea is because people with large families have been out spoken about not using birth control and just "trusting God" with the timing. I'm hear to say, you can trust God with the timing and end up with anywhere from 0-20 kids!! And by the way, trusting God doesn't mean there is no planning involved or decision making about contraception. More on that later.

One year into our marriage I was really starting to wonder why I wasn't getting pregnant and I was fervently praying for "all the children you want us to have, no more and no less." Going into the second year, it was a real ache and something that pained me every day. When we moved to Israel, I was overwhelmed by all the young pregnant girls. It seemed like I had landed in the land flowing with milk and honey and babies! My empty womb was crying. I finally starting asking myself the hard questions, questions that I encourage every woman to ask herself. "What is the purpose of my marriage?" "What is the purpose of my life?" "What will I do if I never have kids?" "What will my marriage look like if I never have children?" Most of us don't want to go there...we tell ourselves that it will happen eventually, we just need to be patient and have a little more faith. But I personally have found, that when I answered those questions, it opened a door to greater peace and contentment...and it added depth to my marriage, my relationship with God, and my self-awareness. There would be a whole new identity crisis, after E was born, that God was preparing me for even then.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Secondary Infertility-Families come in Size 3

April 24-30th  is National Infertility Awareness Week so I guess it's fitting that I decided to come out with our story now.

One advocacy group I have started to loosely follow is 
"1 in 8 women and men are diagnosed with infertility. RESOLVE and the infertility community are busting myths and telling truths about the most popular public myths and misconceptions about the disease of infertility and the different ways people build their families."

This month I've committed to myself to tell my story by blogging a bit of it every day. Today I want to talk about secondary infertility. Definition from Resolve website: "Secondary infertility is defined as the inability to become pregnant, or to carry a pregnancy to term, following the birth of one or more biological children. The birth of the first child does not involve any assisted reproductive technologies or fertility medications."

Although Ethan was conceived after 2 years of "trying" (I never saw a specialist to be diagnosed with anything), he still came about naturally without the help of drugs or treatment.  The first diagnoses I received was after another 2 years of trying after my periods returned....this diagnoses was "secondary infertility."  I'll tell more of that story in another blog.

My point today is that I have a child and I'm deeply grateful to be a Mom, a gift that some of my friends are still waiting for. I don't want anyone reading this blog to think, for a second, that I'm unaware of how blessed I am. I'm totally aware and totally thankful. However, because of our inability to get pregnant when we desire, I have a bit of an inside look at infertility and because my story is less painful than some, I feel that I can bring awareness to a very touchy subject. This blog is for all women who desire children but are unable to conceive naturally or in the timing and way they would desire.

I think Resolve's website sums up my experience pretty well so I'm just going to copy it here...

"The emotional experience of secondary infertility often is a compilation of the distressing feelings of anger, grief, depression, isolation, guilt, jealousy, self-blame, and being out of control. You may feel guilty for experiencing normal grief and worry about how your current emotional state will affect your existing child. The powerlessness to produce a sibling for the existing child often produces feelings of sorrow, as does the inability to perpetuate the parenting role. You may feel distant from friends as those who were a great source of support when parenting the first child are now linked to sensations of pain and jealously."

"Sadly, couples with secondary infertility tend to receive less social support from others than couples who have primary infertility because the infertility is unacknowledged, the pain associated with infertility is invisible as the couple has a child, and there is no concrete loss in the family. In addition, couples experiencing secondary infertility may be recipients of criticism by others who think they should be grateful for one child and that it is foolish to go to extremes to increase family size. Of course, a couple can be extraordinarily thankful for their existing child and still long for more children."

"Unlike in primary infertility, couples who experience secondary infertility already have a child's needs and welfare to consider.... In addition to helping the existing child appreciate the parents' emotions, parents must help the child identify his own experiences and feelings.  Guilt about not providing the existing child with a sibling is a common experience of couples suffering from secondary infertility, as they feel they are failing their child. Many couples idealize the sibling relationship by believing the siblings would be emotionally close. Of course, there is no guarantee about any sibling relationship, and the existing child should not be burdened by the loss of this idealized relationship. It is crucial for parents to acknowledge and mourn the loss and then to legitimize the existing family. Families come in all shapes and sizes, even size three."

"It is a cruel irony that the more positively parents feel about parenting, the more painful is their experience of secondary infertility. Many parents have expressed ambivalent feelings about their child growing up because they fear they will never re-experience the pleasure of the early years. In addition, parents may become overly protective and attentive to their existing child. In the face of loss, parents want to hang on to what they have and love. Of course, these parental feelings must be kept in balance with the growing child's needs for separation and independence."

The "cruel irony" has been one of the hardest parts for me. I LOVE BEING A MOM. Ethan has only increased my desire for children. Even after a 26 hour labor and very difficult delivery, I was ready to do it all over again when I held his warm little body for the first time. I have found that the 2 years of trying for Ethan were easier than the 2 years of trying for our second. It's been in this 3rd year that I've found the most peace and contentment. I know women who ache for each child and have a difficult wait...and they have 3+ kids. When you are out of control and you don't know if, or when, you can conceive, there is grief and pain to acknowledge. I had an expectation... and even other people told me that once I had Ethan, the next one would come faster. I had the increased desire for more because I was having such a wonderful time with him. These factors make secondary infertility painful and unique. Primary infertility is a whole other dimension of painful emotions that I won't attempt to give voice too. My friends that have waited nearly a decade for a child, are in a whole other category in my mind. But all I can do, is try to bring awareness and sensitivity with my story...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My Top 10 List of Actual Conversations (and the replies in my head)

Some people have complimented my writing. I am not a writer. My spelling is atrocious--if not for the saving grace of the spell checker; my punctuation doesn't follow any rule book and my sentences run-on as testimony to the fact that I'm a talker, not a writer. I can talk. I type the conversation I'm having in my head. What I type, is what I think. Occasionally I throw in some periods, commas, and semi-colons just for the heck of it. Don't ask me to write formally or follow any sort of grammar or punctuation rules, and don't ask me to stay within the confines a certain writing style. This is a one style kind of girl...."conversational." period.

I am also a type A personality list-maker, so I can write a list.

Top 10 Things You Should Refrain From Saying to Any Couple--With or Without Children:

1) "So, don't you think it's about time to think about starting a family." (thank you, we've been MORE than thinking about it for YEARS now)
2) "Don't you think he needs a little brother or sister?"  (thank you, If he NEEDS it, then my God will surely provide it.)
3) "You know, this is why it's good for children to have they can learn how to share. ;)" (thank you, I try to teach my child to share with me and his friends...I'll try harder)
4) "Maybe you just need some more time with your husband" (NEVER, EVER, EVER infer that a couple isn't having quality or quantity in their sex life. STAY AWAY from their sex life. Thank you rude person, you have no idea, and I guarantee you don't want to know, how often we try to a make a baby)
5) (to husbands) Try to refrain from saying that you "enjoy the practice"...your precious wife stopped enjoying "the practice" 3 months into trying to conceive...maybe even 3 days in.
6) all time favorite...."Ya'll better get busy working on number 14 cuz you wouldn't want your in-laws to have an odd number of grand-kids, now would ya?!" (Speechless, I was utterly speechless)
7) "Don't you want more kids? When are you going to start thinking about #2?" (thank you, I started thinking about #2 miracle when I was carrying #1 miracle)
8) "You know, you don't have forever, it's good to have children when you're young and you can keep up with their energy level." (thank you. I quit being able to go down a slide years before my biological clock started running out...but I do manage to play on the floor from time to time...I'll keep up with my exercise video)
9) "How many kids do you want?" 8. "Oh my, that would be really hard to travel with that many and you wouldn't be able to give them nice things." (thank you. I've had enough travel for a lifetime. Why don't you get off the couch yourself?)
10) (Dedicated to my friends that have had 4 kids in the span of 5 years) "Are you trying to keep up with the Dugger family? You know there are natural methods of birth control if you're scared of taking drugs." (thank you. Just stop now. Those women are more blessed than you know...I would love to be barefoot and pregnant for 10 solid years. God bless them as they struggle through each day, pouring out their lives for the sake of bringing light, love, and hope into this world.)

And lest you think I'm being too harsh. I have been guilty of asking too many questions....until those questions were directed at my empty womb. We all learn different social graces at different times in our's a chance to learn a few more.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Awareness Breeds Sensitivity

Yesterday I broke my silence. Today I woke up with laryngitis. Funny, right?! Actually, I woke up with both physical and emotional laryngitis. The first thought as I was waking was, "Oh my...ouch...I really put myself out there!" Then I lay in bed thinking about all the private messages I got from girlfriends struggling in silence, and I remembered why my own struggle pushed me to the brink of spilling my guts to everyone. One friend wrote, "I feel so ashamed as if something is wrong with me... at the same time, I don't want people to feel sorry for me either." --Sigh--It is for women such as these that I've started this blog.

You see, my story is not unique or's pretty ordinary in my opinion. I know people who have waited 10 years and a whole lifetime for children. I have friends that have lost multiple pregnancies and friends that have lost babies and children. This fall, I prayed for a 28 year old who died after a miscarriage at 20 weeks pregnant with twins....3 lives we're lost in the span of a week. Their pain and their journey is beyond my comprehension.

Today was the Walker Live for Today event in Brentwood TN. I've been following the blog of this young mother for a couple months now. After giving birth to a stillborn baby girl in December, she was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer which had also spread to her liver. She has a story.
I am just a voice. I am a voice of infertility and more specifically, secondary infertility. I am a voice of women around the globe that ache for children. I don't care if you've been trying for 3 months or 30 years, I sympathize with you. Most of us can find someone with a story much more difficult than our own and most of the time we're thankful for our problems and wouldn't ask for the burdens of others. But each person has the right, and the need, to feel the pain they feel and express it in the way they need to express it.  I'm here to say that if you shed tears because you long for a child, there are many other women who will cry with you. And I'm hear to let the people on the "outside" of infertility know that this is a painful journey and they can be supportive and sensitive to a couple's pain.

Today was a GREAT day. I enjoyed my family. We "park hopped" around Boston and we ate Mexican for lunch and Nepalese food for dinner. I prayed for Sarah Walker and I wore the T-shirt for their run, and I thanked God again that her battle with cancer has taught me to savor my life. Ethan is sitting beside me on the couch in his footie-pjs and he's fallen asleep on my shoulder. I believe in miracles and I hope for more kids. One of the reasons I never shared our struggle is that I was afraid that I would get pregnant the second I did open up and then look stupid. I'm not afraid anymore. I want to be a voice that raises awareness of a tough subject and brings sensitivity to the women who so desperately need it. Today, two different people asked me if we wanted more kids. They got more than they wanted to hear I'm sure...."Yes, I do. I want all the children that God will give me."

Friday, April 8, 2011

Breaking My Silence

All day long I've felt frozen in time while the world kept moving around me. I wish my insides were frozen. I wish my biological clock would stop ticking and just wait for our entire life to catch up with it! Today was opening day for the Red Sox. I nervously ate my breakfast and coffee, took Ethan to my friend's house and then excitedly walked 20 minutes down Brookline Ave. to the Brigham Women's Hospital. I could hear the excitement in the stadium behind me, but my mind was not on a ballgame. I called my Mom who was already at work; then called my dad to ask him to pray. I choked back the tears telling him that I couldn't believe I was about to have my first appointment. I've been waiting for this day for 3 years. I've been waiting for insurance for 8 months since we got back to the States. I've been clockwork, I wait every 28 days.

I've also been waiting to share my story and secretly planning never to break my silence, to only go down this path with a very small group of people in the know. But something inside me resist everything about keeping this part of my life private. I will change the names of friends and doctors but I won't change mine. I will walk this out in naked humility.  It has formed my character in the last 6 years and will forever be a part of my life whether I like it or not. It is a topic that most women shy away from discussing, much like the topic of breast cancer 50 years ago. Now women come out in droves to show their support of those fighting cancer and we all proudly sport pink ribbons for the cause. Not with this topic. This topic is still shrouded in shame, especially in religious communities. And I'm tired. I'm tired of women feeling ashamed for something they have very little, to zero, control over and I'm tired of feeling alone. I'm not "coming out of this closet of infertility" today because I need to feel supported or because I need an audience. I'm sharing my story to bring hope and awareness to a topic that is often misunderstood and almost always kept private.  Sure, you're handed names of social workers, support groups, websites and mental health classes...but only once you're so deep in that you've probably learned to cope on your own anyway.  Maybe you had a sympathetic girlfriend or mom or husband, but maybe you didn't. For all those sisters out there that wish to remain silent, I understand.

The topic of creating a family is a private matter, but the medical condition of infertility needs some light shined on it! I'm not asking you to speak. I'm just hoping that through my experience you will feel the courage to share what you need to share, when you need to share it, with the people that you love. I hope that as one woman throws off the cloak of silence, others will feel the freedom of sharing our common sorrows and joys. In the past, I've tried to reach out to those who I thought would understand and was misunderstood instead.  This blog will open me up to all kinds of criticism and judgment. I've protected my fragile, broken heart for years now. I'm no longer afraid. This is my story. I make no apologies. The decisions my husband I  will make are our own. Each person knows their own pain and each person has their own story. I'm not asking for opinions, I'm not hoping for support. I'm just sharing my journey and facing my fears.

I've found that there are so many moments that are surreal. I can tell you the moment I found out I was pregnant with Ethan (the very day I had an appointment to pursue treatment), the moment my best friend told me she was expecting her second (we had our first together), the moment I watched that precious life come into the world, the moment I started injections when Ethan was 2 1/2 years old, the moment I was told there was no more to do, that the next step was IVF, and then the moment today when the doctor said, "Have you heard of premature ovarian failure?"

You may not know me, but for those that do, you know that all I've ever wanted is to be a mom. I didn't want a polished career, shoot, I didn't even think I needed a husband. But I knew I needed, and desired more than anything on earth, to be a mom. God graciously gave me a husband so perfectly suited for me, and a child that I think is pretty near perfection too. And then He gave me reproductive organs that stopped working in my 20s. And I don't know why. David and I both talked about how many kids we wanted when we got married and we both had always thought 8 was the perfect number. We laughed that we shared that number in common.

Today I cry. I cry that the 8 kids I've always dreamed of are no where in sight . Please understand that God has been so good to me. I will share ALL of His goodness…. how I've learned to truly live for each and every wonderful moment of this life, how deeply grateful I am for my husband and child and my very life. I will share how I've learned to hope and learned to surrender it all. I will talk about waiting well and God renewing strength as we wait. But today is my 24 hours to feel overwhelmed with grief and frustrated with my body and our situation. Today is a crying day. I'll laugh about hanging upside down, and about fertility treatment scenes in movies where "turkey basting" is discussed, and the times I've laid on a table with my legs up in stirrups and chatted away with a girlfriend on the phone like artificial insemination was a walk in the park and something I could surely multi-task through. I've laughed, but not today.

Today, I was told that my insurance will cover $5000 of the treatment that I need, but we'll have to pay at least $10,500 out-of-pocket…and that's just for one cycle, one chance at pregnancy. Today the doctor told me I don't have 10 years to wait. I don't have time to relax and just see if a miracle happens. I don't have time for my husband to reach his earning potential so we can afford to treat my medical condition. I turned 30 last month and some would argue I look like I'm still 20, but my blood work, my insides look like I'm 40. Today I'm totally overwhelmed. Tomorrow I'll be thankful for the amazing care I'm receiving, for insurance that will cover even a part of fertility treatment, and most of all for the miracle I have in my 3 year old son. But today, I will cry. Today I will cry when he tells me, "I think she needs a friend" (referring to his new pet fish). He wants a friend. Every night he tells me that he needs a friend in his room. And we pray and tonight we will pray. We will pray for a miracle and we will pray for the wisdom to use the medical resources in the way that God desires. And I will cry.