Sunday, April 21, 2013

Happy (?) NIAW!

It's that time again: National Infertility Awareness Week!  For those not in the know about NIAW, it's all about breaking the silence of infertility & advocating for the infertile community.  You can find more info on Resolve: The National Infertility Association's website.

If memory serves, this is the 3rd NIAW I am participating in.  If you would've told me back when I 1st heard of Resolve almost 4 years ago that I would still be sitting on the childless side of the fence I'd have thought you were crazy.  Now, if you were to tell me the next treatment cycle would actually result in a take home baby, I'd call you nuts.  

So what keeps me going?  Some days, I don't know.  Every so often, I seriously think about just throwing in the towel & saying "fuck it.": no more treatments, learn to live child free, albeit not by choice.  All the time, money & mental energy I have expelled fighting infertility seems like such a waste.

But then I remember I am not alone in this.  There's my husband, who makes me crazy but really is a great guy; he deserves to be a dad.  There's (some) of my family who may not "get it" but know how long this road has been & want to see me succeed in my quest.  And I'd be remiss if I did not give a shout out to my infertile interwebs friends who have been my rock; I hope they can say the same about me.

I am not alone.  1 in 8 couples experiences infertility of some sort.  Every time I think of how long my journey has been & how many failed cycles we have done I get slightly jealous of those who have gotten their take home babies after just a few IUIs or one IVF.  But then I remember this is not a pissing contest & there are those far more battle scarred than I: those who have gone through donor egg or sperm cycles with no success, those who have had failed adoption matches, etc.  

Every infertile's story is unique & should be shared.  So if you're not "out of the closet" when it comes to your infertility, I invite you to use NIAW as an opportunity to step into the light.  You have nothing to be ashamed of & everything to be gained by being your own best advocate.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Another year older & none the wiser

I had a birthday over the weekend.  I am now 34: officially 1 year away from being considered AMA (advanced maternal age).  I've never thought of 34 or 35 as being especially old, but honestly, this birthday depressed the hell out of me.  Part of it was probably the cold, pouring rain we had all day; it didn't exactly elevate the mood.  I mean, plenty of people have kids at 35 & beyond with no issues.  But I am not one of those people; I wasn't one of those people when we first TTC at the relatively young age of 29.  I thought I'd be done with child bearing by around 35 or 36, having 3 or 4 kids.  Now, I am pleading with the universe for just 1 by that age, if I'm lucky. 

At this point almost everything is a reminder of how long we've been in this war.  I find myself becoming more & more like that old curmudgeon who stands on the front lawn & yells @ everyone who drives by to slow down.  Well not literally, but my tolerance level for people in general has almost completely disappeared.  I roll me eyes almost constantly.  I purposely go out @ odd hours so I don't have to deal with others.  The snark level is @ an all time high.  It's more & more challenging to keep my sense of humor & by extension my sense of self. 

Oh well.  At least I got to have cake.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

RIP, Dr. Edwards

Today, the man who is credited with inventing IVF, for which he eventually won the Nobel Prize, died at the age of 87 after battling dementia for several years.  If it wasn't for the work of Dr Edwards & his associates, there would be approximately 5 million less humans on earth & thus several million people who would never have become parents.

Having been a part of the infertile community for several years now, I have seen numerous internet friends become parents thanks to IVF.  I have also had IRL friends who have gone through IVF to become parents.  I remember the 1st IVF baby I met who is actually a triplet from her parents' 4th IVF; she is now 11.  Little did I know back then the path my life would take into that of Aldous Huxley's fertilizing room in 'Brave New World' 

But even with this technology available, here I sit, along with so many others, for whom IVF has not produced a child to hold in my arms.  It is not the magic bullet so many fertile people think it is.  And yet, so many of us journey on, cycle after cycle, because it is our only hope.  Dr. Roberts himself never gave up hope: he began his research on what would become IVF in earnest in the late 1960s & stayed with it for nine years before yielding a live birth.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Minorities & infertility

Long, but very much worth watching:

Some thoughts:

While I may not be black, I am considered by some to be a minority due to my heritage, but "look white" to most.  Where I live, there are many people who are "mixed" in the way I am, so it's not something I think a lot about.  However, when I lived in the Midwest, my maiden name was ethnic enough for people to want to put me in a box I didn't necessarily identify with.  I was told "You don't look Latino" on several occasions & it made me wonder what someone like me is supposed to look like (which is a whole other post).

However, my husband is a minority (within a minority in the country of his birth; which is yet a whole other post) with skin that is darker than a good many African American people.  It is not uncommon for him to be asked what he is exactly.  Again, not "black", but as a Dravidian Indian from a backwards caste he also does not fit easily into your standard racial box in the US where Asian can mean anything from someone from Japan to someone from Sri Lanka & everywhere in between.

Being in an inter racial as well as inter religious marriage without the challenge of infertility is still very hard for people to accept.  My doc (even though she's not in practice right now I still consider her to be "my RE") was herself a minority in a minority to the Nth degree (she was Indian by heritage, raised in South America, married to an American Jew, who was herself infertile).  She "got it", by which I mean she understood all the crap (sociological, biological & psychological) we are dealing with.  We are so lucky to have known her.  So many of my fellow infertiles do not have docs with her kind of cultural competance.

In the 3 infertility we have been through with over twenty doctors practicing between them, I can only recall seeing 1 black female RE.  No black male REs anywhere.  And no black nurses, male or female, for that matter.  Between the 3 clinics, there were 3 "Asian" docs: 1 Indian male doc, 1 female Chinese doc & my RE who you could also count as Latino too I guess, though I never asked what she identified as.  I should do that next time I see her.  Yes, the inner anthropologist never truly goes away!  


My doc appeared (to me) to see a lot of Indians; whenever we'd go for an appointment, there was always an Indian couple in the waiting area.  And we don't live in an area with an overwhelming amount of Indians (we live in the suburbs of a large urban area in New England).  They probably went to her because of the cultural affinity.  I don't recall seeing many Indians at the other practices; sure, there were some, but not in the sheer #s she had.

Just going on memory, about 75% of the docs were white males, the majority of whom I am going to assume never experienced infertility firsthand because outside of my infertile doc, I've never heard any of them mention it.  How, then, can they truly empathize with their patients?  And if they are infertile, then why not share that?  I understand the whole self disclosure thing & don't think they have to share their whole "war story" from the beginning, but how else are we to break down the silence of infertility if those treating us won't talk about it?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Planning so often leads to disappointment

Normally I don't steal someone's blog posts, but I felt compelled to copy & paste this verbatim:

There is a baby in my head. He’s the one that I thought I would have someday. His name is Oliver, though my husband and I call him Ollie. I’m not quite sure why the baby of my dream is a boy, but he is. And over the past few months, I’ve begun the process of saying goodbye to this future child, the one that I’ll never get to have. I’ve grieved for him. Now, like with any other loss, it’s time to get rid of all his stuff.
Over the years, as my husband and I have been trying to conceive, I’ve collected quite a collection of “For Future Baby” paraphernalia. I have Beatrix Potter themed nursery decor, some that I’ve bought and some that I’ve actually made. I have a plethora of baby clothes that I simply couldn’t resist and got on sale. I have baby blankets and small toys that I bought, pretending that I would use them for future baby shower gifts but knowing that I didn’t want to give them away. And finally, I have gifts given to me during my last pregnancy, before we realized it was ectopic and had to remove it.
All in all, we have a tub full of baby stuff. It’s a tub for Oliver, my imaginary never-to-be child. And even if we should decide to adopt an infant at some point in time in the future, I’m just not sure that I’ll feel right passing these things along to another child.
It is time to say goodbye to Oliver, to my idea of him. To do that, I know that I need to let go of all the stuff I’ve saved for him. I need to say goodbye to the clothes and the toys and the nursery I thought he would inhabit one day.
Trying to find the best way to let go of all this stuff, and subsequently, the baby I bought them for, has proven more difficult than I imagined. Throwing them away feels callous and wasteful. Giving them to someone else feels like handing my heart over to another person. It makes me worried that I’ll always get emotional every time I see that child. They’ll be wearing a onesie or playing with a stuffed giraffe that I thought I would need to use for my own child, and I’ll just start crying over someone else’s kid. I don’t want to be that lady.
Donating my baby gear feels like the safest, most thoughtful way of saying goodbye to everything. I won’t have to run into my own clothes and blankets at unsuspecting moments. I’ll know that it helps a family who needs it. I can feel some sort of good about such a sad ending.
Donating makes the most sense. I’m 99.9% positive that in the next few weeks, I’ll take my tub of broken dreams and donate it to another family that will have a use for it. But I have a sad feeling that I’ll be crying on the car ride, struggling to say goodbye to everything those clothes and blankets mean to me.
Getting rid of all this stuff is the next step in saying goodbye to Oliver, to the child I always believed that I would have. I know that it’s necessary. I know that it will go to help someone else. I still don’t think I’ll make it through with dry eyes.
I see myself in this post in the not too distant future.  The closer our (theoretical) FET cycle with Nemo comes, the more frightened I become of a BFN or miscarriage.  Nemo is safely frozen which means I can still hang on to the baby stuff I do have, which is merely decorations for a nursery.  It's not fair to keep him/her frozen forever just so I can hang onto the 1 shred of hope I have; this I know.  Of course we could always do another IVF, but if 1-3 didn't work, why would a 4th?  But then again why would I have bought the elephant print a few weeks ago if there wasn't a teensy, tiny bit of a thought in my head I could actually become a mother?

The lone piece of clothing I bought a few years ago because it was a penguin onesie on clearance I gave to my sister. Penguins & pandas are kind of mascots among my infertile friends, which is why I bought it.  I kept it in the dresser in our spare bedroom (a.k.a. "still not a nursery") & every once in a while I would take out a sari to wear to temple & see it.  Then one day, I just took it & put it in a plastic grocery bag to give to her because she has a kid & I may never.  I've never seen my nephew wear it & at this point he's too big for it.  But someday she will have more kids.  And my child will never wear that adorable little onesie.