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How many words is a video worth?

April 30, 2010

Read Keiko’s blog for the full story on her brilliant video.

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What if? (pt. 2)

April 29, 2010

National Infertility Awareness Week is on the down side of the hill, but there is still so much to say while I have a banner under which to be more than a normal infertility fighter.

When I was choosing my What If? prompt, I sailed right past one question that just didn’t fit me: “What if I never get to do all the things I’ve put on hold in my life for ‘once I get pregnant’?”

I looked right over the prompt because I didn’t think anything had been put on hold. We’re still living. We’re still doing things. We’re renovating our kitchen, for crying out loud!

But wait.

Cortney wrote her own What If entry on this prompt, and what she said made me slap my forehead.

I lost my job on our first medicated cycle, and instead of switching CAREERS, I starting caring for a friend’s daughter. It was a great opportunity for me and my friend. Her wee one would get to stay at home, and I wouldn’t have to deal with office stress and restrictions while hormonally cycling my brains out.

It’s great, and I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have a more accommodating work environment, but I thought for sure by now that I’d be preparing for my own child and thinking about what steps I’d soon take when I can return to work and make a career switch.

The time away from working on a career was/is supposed to only be a small blip on the radar of my life.

That blip gets bigger each month. It’s practically a bloop.

My career isn’t where the “on hold” stops.

Rob and I haven’t traveled to visit family or friends in our hometown/state (or elsewhere) because Rob’s vacation time is reserved for doctor visits and time at home with a (not-yet-conceived) baby; travel money is paying for meds and copays; and we have to be in town on essential cycle days.

My wardrobe is dwindling of fresh-looking, not over-worn clothes, but I refuse to buy new clothes because what if this cycle is it? What if I’ll need maternity clothes soon and then have wasted money on new clothes I might never wear enough to make the purchase worth it?

All these things completely escaped my brain because these rationalizations have become my new normal. I’ve become accustomed to making “What if this cycle is it?” rule my decisions. How did infertility put my life on hold without me even realizing it? Why are our lives a broken record of “maybe this cycle?”

Infertility. It sucks. Pass it on.

117/365

April 28, 2010

Moooooooooooo(n)

‘Taking Charge of Your Fertility,’ by Toni Weschler, MPH

April 28, 2010

Taking Charge of Your Fertility. TCOYF. If you’ve been on TheBump.com, it’s a sure bet that those letters have been bouncing around your head like a bee in a bottle.

If you’re unfamiliar with TCOYF, be patient and hear me out.

It’s National Infertility Awareness Week, and one of my main concerns with calling attention to this devastating subject is education.

I was raised in an average family and was educated in public school. If you’re anything like me, your education regarding the female reproductive system more or less pretty much fizzled out after that one week of Sex Ed. I think, for me, that was in fifth grade. I was 10.

I knew the basics. The ovaries release eggs. If you have sex, sperm can and will meet the egg, which then creates a baby that will grow and then come peacefully out of your vagina to the sound of a choir of angels.

OK, I admit I exaggerated that last part. I’ve never experienced childbirth, but I know enough that the picture that was painted of it back in the day was a whole lot more pleasant and happy and definitely did not include the word “episiotomy.”

Back to my education.

If you don’t have sex, your body will shed the lining it built in anticipation of a baby, and you will bleed. Don’t worry. You can still swim. You can still play with your friends. You can still go to school. Take some Midol, strap on a heating pad and feel free to be a bitch that week.

Easy peasy, right? I thought so.

I got my first period the week before I turned 12 and just went with the, um, flow. I never paid attention to when I should expect things to happen, but I had been warned that week in fifth grade that we shouldn’t expect to have regular cycles at first.

So I didn’t worry.

I got to age 17 and thought it was a little odd that, almost six years later, I still wasn’t at all regular. I was forever surprised by my period, and it was UGLY. I’ll spare you the southern details, but the rest of my body HATED periods. I’d feel weak and feverish and sick to my stomach. I’d shake uncontrollably. It was awful. Inspired by my cousin who had to see a gynecologist for ovarian cysts, I decided maybe I should see someone about this maybe-every-three-months period problem.

“Don’t worry about it. Here, take these birth control pills. They’ll make your cycles regular,” said the gynocologist.

Great! Thanks!

So I started the pill, and WOW! It worked! My cycles were regular, painless, easy peasy – just like I was told they should be.

Fast forward to age 24, when I meet some fabulous women who are way ahead of me in the baby-thoughts game, and my brain starts to grab onto key information like a magnet. You don’t have real cycles on birth control. You don’t really get a period. It’s all a fallacy.

Weird, but whatever. That was then, this is now. And maybe my doctor meant that the birth control would regulate me once I stopped taking it. That’s possible, right? (It actually is, but …)

Fast forward another year and a half. I’ve learned so much more and start to get worried. I don’t think my body ever functioned correctly, and it likely isn’t something the pill would fix. Maybe I should stop birth control and see what’s wrong. Maybe I need to learn more about what’s going on.

And that’s about the time a good friend, who had fought infertility and walked away with some horrible battle wounds but also a beautiful, thriving pregnancy, handed over her copy of TCOYF with instructions to read it.

So I did.

Wow. Did you know that discharge is actually cervical mucus that is essential to carrying the sperm into the uterus? Did you know it changes throughout the cycle and acts as a sperm taxi when your body is bursting forth an egg and doesn’t waste time creating it during not-fertile times? And holy moly! My temperature changes through my cycle, too?

The female body is a GENIUS! Why did I never know this?

Not only did the book finally give me a proper, thorough lesson in the female reproductive system, it pointed me in the direction of what my problem as a teen could have been – what it could be when I finally ditched the birth control.

The book covers everything from an in-depth lesson of how our bodies (should) work to how to avoid or achieve pregnancy to potential health conditions to menopause.

It’s usually recommended to women want to take a more active role in the trying-to-conceive obsession and to those who are having issues.

It’s so much more than a how-to-get-pregnant guide, though, and it should be required reading for all women. We should all have been properly taught about our bodies when the gears fired up in those formative years.

Maybe fertility will never be an issue for you. Maybe your reproductive system will function in the normal way we were taught in grade school. Maybe you’ll never have ovarian cysts or endometriosis, fibroids or cervical issues.

You can choose to leave such knowledge as arbitrary, useless crap you’ll learn about if you ever need it, or you can be proactive and learn about it before you encounter an issue and be that much more armed to face what challenges you.

I suggest the latter. I wish I had learned much sooner. Maybe I would have been diagnosed with PCOS 15 years ago and had it under control by the time I wanted kids. Maybe I wouldn’t be battling infertility.

If you can do something to avoid those questions, why wouldn’t you take charge?

116/365

April 27, 2010

TCOYF. Essential reading for all women. I shall blog about it tomorrow.

113/, 114/, 115/365 – playing ketchup

April 26, 2010

My paint pants

Coat #1 – DUNZO!

Infertility’s Common Thread connects me with countless others.
Celebrate National Infertility Awareness Week and spread the word. Kill the ignorance.

What if?

April 26, 2010

In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week (April 24-May 1), the Stirrup Queen herself, Melissa Ford, in collaboration with Resolve has come up with Project IF. The first part has come and gone, but the second part, a collection of What If entries across blogland, is upon us. Here is my contribution:

What if I never let go of the resentment at and jealousy of the women who got to do this the “normal” way and who never experienced pregnancy loss?

Hmm. I chose to grab one of the “What if” prompts from Melissa’s site, but none of them quite fit me. Instead, I need to put my own spin on a question that relates to a Major Problem with The Infertiles.

I’ll just go ahead and put it out there: I’m not jealous of women/couples/family who conceive children the “normal” way, and I certainly don’t resent their healthy reproductive systems.

Some people do. I’m just not one of them.

Now, before you pat me on the back and say, “Way to not be a Bitter Infertile (95 percent of the time),” let me stop you and say I feel like a fraud because I haven’t been so negatively affected by my struggles.

I feel like I don’t care enough.

I feel like I don’t belong among my fellow Infertiles.

I have nothing to contribute at the Curse You Fertile Myrtle bonfires, so I just sit off to the side, twiddling my thumbs and trying to blend in but still be part of the crowd.

I’m kidding about that, but I know some of you probably think Bitter Infertiles have started their own hate group complete with uniforms, a motto, a secret handshake and hazing rituals that include making Fertile Myrtles feel guilty because of something they can’t control.

It isn’t true (or I haven’t been invited), and it’s because of that last bit I just wrote.

They can’t control their Fertile Myrtle status anymore than I can control my Infertile Turtle (is there a name for us?) status.

I’m not jealous of their reproductive health, their beautiful children, their happiness. They inspire me. They keep my head grounded and my spirit soaring. I am, after all, working to join them in their happy status as parents of living, growing, thriving children.

How can I be angry or resentful when my number one goal right now is to be just like them?

Don’t get me wrong. The jealousy sets in sometimes. It’s just different from what I hear so many of my infertile peers spouting off about. What gets my Green Monster riled up?

“You can CHART your cycles?”

“What’s progesterone?”

“What does RE stand for?”

“I could NEVER learn so much about the human body without an MD after my name.”

“I could NEVER give myself injections.”

“Cervical mucus? EWWWWWW!”

My jealousy is a fickle bitch. On one hand, I am beyond grateful that I have come to know my body so well. On the other, I’d like some sort of reward for going above and beyond the reproduction-education level of nearly everyone I know – you know, sex ed in, ohhhh, THE FIFTH GRADE.

Of course, the entire reason I’ve learned so much (and continue to learn and learn and learn) is so Rob and I will be rewarded with new people in our current family of two (plus two angel babies, two cats and a dog). But for right now, I think an honorary doctorate would be a nice pat on the back for all I’ve done that all my Fertile Myrtle friends have not.

Now for my positive what if, somewhat the same as my initial spinoff of the prompt:

What if I had never been forced to learn so much about human reproduction and infertility?

Would I be able to finally understand better friends of mine who have faced or are still currently battling infertility? Probably not. I don’t know for sure if I am a better friend to them, but I do know that I have given them one more person they know they can turn to who they won’t need to question from where their sympathy comes.

Would I know all that extra information about the human body? Most likely, no. While I sometimes resent that I am one of the few who feel driven to learn about such things, it’s a good feeling to know my brain is helping myself. It’s an even better feeling to know that my brain could help others – family, friends or strangers.

Infertility does not discriminate. It can affect anyone and everyone, even those who feel they might have missed the unlucky election by having one or more uneventful conceptions and pregnancies.

If my knowledge and my experience can help one person formerly ignorant to the battle against infertility, I’ll gladly carry that weight in my noggin. And maybe it’ll increase my jealousy-free time percentage to 99 percent of the time.

For a great article discussion infertility etiquette, check out IF COMM 101. Visit Resolve for more information on National Infertility Awareness Week. Visit Stirrup Queens to read more experiences from participants of Project IF.

Most importantly, spread the word and help make infertility a more accepted battle.