9

Insensitivity or Ignorance?

I will admit that I put a lot of people in awkward positions by being very open about infertility, but I was often met with comments that, while probably well-intentioned, were shortsighted and hurtful. I suspect these comments were born out of ignorance to the realities of infertility, rather than insensitivity. All the same, I was ready to shake my friends and family after the words left their mouths. As I know that many people who have experience with infertility have also heard seemingly insensitive comments, I thought I’d share some of my most memorable. Most of these took place over Facebook so I was actually able to get the verbatim transcript.

1) Friend: Maybe some little baby out there needs you ..whatever is meant to be will be. But you will be a mom one way or another! Believe me…I’d skip being pregnant! Not so fun lol

My response: Sometimes I do wonder if maybe we can’t have a biological baby because I have the capacity to love (100% love) a baby who isn’t related to me, or even the same race as me. But we still have to try biologically for our own curiosity if nothing else. I really do want to experience pregnancy. I know you say it’s not fun. But I want to know what it’s like to pee on a stick and actually see a positive, to see an ultrasound, to feel a kick, and to even experience the pains of labor and delivery. If I can’t experience that, I will still love my child, but I will grieve the loss of experience.

2) (immediately after discussing the roller coaster of emotions involved in infertility and waiting for IVF) Oh and (name removed) is pregnant!

3) I can always send you (my daughter), those darn teenage girls.

4) You aren’t getting any younger. (How apt since it turned out that I have DOR.)

What are some of your “favorites”?

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2

M.I.A.

Sorry I haven’t posted in awhile. I just spent the week in the Mayan Riviera and leading up to that, I had a ton of work to finish up. I hope to post more regularly now, but I’ll also be playing catch up since the vacation put me a week behind at work. For now, I’ll just say that the trip was great! Lots of relaxation and laughs with friends. The bride looked stunning and put so much work into the details of the wedding. It was a fabulous wedding!

0

Stagette Shenanigans

Two Saturdays ago, I hopped in my car with a bride-to-be and two bridesmaids and headed to the quaint mountain town of Canmore, Alberta. We met up with several other lovely ladies. We were ready to party in style and celebrate our friend’s impending nuptials (note: a stagette = a bachelorette; apparently this term is not used in the US though). We stayed at a beautiful lodge, went for a great dinner, and played games while indulging in some adult beverages before heading out to a bar with a live band. I was in charge of the games and jello shots. I decided to turn to Pinterest to try a few of the many, many things I have pinned. Here are some pics of the jello shots and one of the games I made because I’m kinda proud.

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Lemon and pink lemonade jello shots served in lemon rinds (source)

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Cinnamon heart (i.e., fireball with cherry jello) shots and champagne jello shots (they no longer make sparkling white grape jello so I made my own from frozen white grape juice, club soda, and Knox gelatin – source)

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He said/She said – circle the mustache if you think the groom gave that answer and the bra if you think the bride gave the answer. I did a lot of hunting for clip art and formatting.

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The next day we headed into Canmore to get breakfast and a street was blocked off for a little winter carnival

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Kids were cross-country skiing and being pulled in sleds along the street. So cute!

1

A Friend of a Friend

One of my oldest friends knows about my fertility struggles and our IVF plans (with me you basically just have to know my name for me to tell you what’s up, so of course she knows!) and she told me that she is close with two people who have gone through IVF. She gave me the email address for one of those people and my friend’s friend and I talked on the phone this past Sunday. At first I didn’t know how I would start the conversation because I had so many questions but I didn’t want to come off like I was interrogating her. Luckily we quickly found a rhythm and the conversation flowed naturally. She lives in my hometown and went to a different clinic than I’ll be going to, but it was nice to be able to connect with someone who actually knows someone I know (made it more real and tangible if that makes sense). This woman originally sought out help with conception for MFI and tubal issues, but came to find out she’s a poor responder. Her cycle was cancelled but she had a gut feeling that she wanted to continue, so she spoke to her RE and he was game (someone other than her RE had been the one to cancel her). She only had 3 (maybe 4 ) eggs retrieved, two of which were mature. One embryo survived and turned into her son, who is now three months old. She encouraged me to trust my gut and advocate for what I want. She also told me a bit about the adoption process in New Brunswick and I have to say I am so glad I’m not facing adoption there because the wait is so long and it seems like bureaucracy really gets in the way. Our conversation ended quickly because she had company coming, but I felt better after talking to her. I had started to doubt that first time IVF success was even possible with DOR. It may not be the norm, but she’s proof that it can happen and even a cycle that looks hopeless can turn out to be the one.

3

What does 2013 have in store?

I was just reading Waiting to Expand. Cassie has inspired me in the past (100th Post) and she managed it again. I have been so stuck in my fear, anger, and despair, that it is hard to truly look forward to positive things outside of TTC. That is partially due to feelings of guilt whenever I feel momentarily happy or excited. I feel like if I say I’m good, or truly feel good, then it’s a sign that I don’t want a baby badly enough or I’m not committed to infertility treatment enough. I know that’s irrational though because I should try to find ways to stay happy and positive in all of this mess. So in the spirit of Cassie, I am going to list some things I am looking forward to in 2013:

  • My friend’s stagette (and possibly having one of my best friends come stay with us so that she can attend the stagette)
  • My friend’s wedding in Mexico – I love weddings and winter vacations have been a must for J and I since we got married.
  • Two of our friends, and their daughter (whom I’ve met, but J hasn’t), said they’d like to come visit us this spring.
  • J’s annual general meeting in Jasper, AB (it rotates between Jasper, Banff, and Lake Louise). I have never been to Jasper and now that I know some of the other wives and J’s coworkers, I think that the fancy dinner and ball they have each year will be a lot of fun.
  • My 4th wedding anniversary. Even if we only do something simple like dinner or a movie, I like having a night to celebrate our marriage and reflect on our wedding day. I am excited to be reaching our 5th year before too long (seems like a milestone).
  • My 30th birthday. If I could be so lucky to be pregnant when I turn 30, then it’ll be amazing! If I’m not, there will be some sadness over turning 30 before I am a mother. However, a friend and I have been dreaming about just maybe going to Disney World (we both LOVE it!) if I’m not pregnant and we’re between IVF rounds.
  • Halloween – I love it! Maybe we’ll even get dressed up and go to/have a party this year. I miss costumes!
  • Christmas – it’s one of my favorite times of year. I hope we’ll have a baby or one on the way to celebrate, but even if we don’t, I can’t help but get into the holiday spirit.
  • I am also looking forward to starting IVF. I’m not happy that we need to do it or that we’re limited in the number of times we can try, but if it’s our best chance, I want to get it started.
11

Aftermath

I wanted to write this post awhile ago, but work was crazy busy leading up to the holidays, and then I was busy with Christmas preparations and celebrations, and then my parents visited for a week. Also, I was too emotionally drained and stunned to write for awhile. Warning, there are a lot of thoughts going through my head to catch up on, so this is going to be a long one.

After getting my diagnosis of Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR), I broke down sobbing at least once a day for several days, maybe even a week. Several words popped into my head to describe how I was feeling: devastated, grief-stricken, demoralized, marginalized, hopeless, crushed, guilty, barren. I felt a lot of guilt because if J had married someone else, he could likely have children with no hassle or financial strain.  His parents would have another biological grandchild. I feel horrible that we are in this situation because of me. I feel like I am potentially robbing J of the chance to be a biological father. J, however, was nothing but supportive. He told me not to be “silly” and that he would marry me all over again even if he knew this was the future. He said I didn’t sign up for diabetes either, but to me it’s not the same. He can manage his diabetes and continue to live a full life. It causes some changes to my life, but not overly so. My DOR is life changing for both of us and there may not be a way around it.

The part I am most upset about is the thought of never getting to experience pregnancy (e.g., seeing my belly grow, shopping for maternity clothes, hearing our baby’s heartbeat, seeing him or her on the ultrasound, wondering what the sex would be, feeling the baby move and kick, talking to my belly and knowing there really is a baby in there), labor and delivery (I know it would be painful, but I don’t want to be robbed of the experience), and, most importantly, the feeling of holding my baby for the first time that people try to describe but can’t because it needs to be experienced. That instant feeling of the most intense love possible.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that being pregnant and delivering our baby is more important to me than my genetic connection to the baby. So I started thinking about and looking into donor eggs. Apparently women with DOR have great success with donor eggs because the issue isn’t about our capability to carry a child. Even though there are many benefits to living in Canada, easy access to egg donation is not one of them. Since 1994, it has been illegal to buy eggs. Therefore, it looks like most people seeking donor eggs buy eggs from the US (or even travel to the US to do their IVF) or another country. That would definitely rack the price up even more and there are probably a ton of hoops to jump through. There is, of course, the option of having someone donate eggs to you directly, but I could never ask someone I know for that. First off, that person would have to take injectable hormones, which is not fun for both the needle and side effect factors (and I have friends who keep their bodies very pure, so I am sure they’d be out of the question). Second, the donor would be giving up one of her eggs which means that a) if all went well, she’d have a genetic child out there (not just out there, but raised by a friend – this might be easier for some and harder for others) that she would not raise and b) what if the donor decided to have more kids but then she was short on eggs at that point. So while I would gladly accept an egg donation, I could never ask anyone for it.

As time went on, I started feeling less despair and more hope. I once again was in a place where I could start looking forward to the future and a game plan. At that point, adoption felt more viable again. Yes, I want to experience pregnancy, but really it’s being a mother and seeing J as a father that matter most. And I know we would love a child who comes to us by adoption and we would make sure any child of ours knows how loved they are. I know it would be different, for us and the child, but I know our love would be as strong for a biological or adopted child. J and I had a really good talk over dinner one night about adoption. He’s totally on board with it and is open to exploring both domestic and international options.  I asked him what his family would think if we had a child of another race (although my major concern would be the effect of transracial adoption on our child(ren)). His family are good people, but they aren’t the most educated or politically correct (a bit hick/redneck in their speech, even though there’s no malice behind it). J’s instant response was that he didn’t care. Basically, he let me know that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, we’re having a child one way or another and we will love and accept our child no matter what color he or she is. At the same time, he said he was sure his family would love and accept our child, as they were none too thrilled about his brother’s girlfriend getting pregnant and now they are so completely in love with our niece (and they aren’t too happy about the second baby due in March, but I know they’ll love him just the same).

To backtrack a bit, a day or two after we heard the news, I was looking through my internet history, trying to find a site I had been on and accidentally closed. I noticed that a few of my blog entries, including old ones, had been opened the day before. I asked J about it and he told me that he wasn’t trying to snoop, but he had read some of my blog (including my post about the diagnosis). J never showed interest in reading my blog before and I wasn’t exactly hiding it from him, so instead of feeling like he was snooping, I felt touched that he had read some of it. I asked what he thought and he told me that he cried. He hadn’t shown me the depths of his emotions in regards to the diagnosis and our struggle, but knowing that he wanted to know more about what I was thinking and feeling and that he let himself release his emotions while reading my blog meant a lot to me.

The more I talk about an emotional situation, the more it helps me  process through it. I appreciate questions from friends (e.g., just checking in on how I’m doing, asking about my RE appointments, asking questions about the IVF process, asking about what exactly DOR means, etc.). The more I talk about it the more I can take a practical, proactive approach to it rather than letting all my fears and grief absolutely consume me. For the most part, my friends have been super supportive. One friend called me after I told her the news and I could feel the love and compassion in her voice. I know that my heart was broken for her due to something that occurred in her life and I know that she loves me enough to feel the same for me in this situation. Another friend replied to the email I sent her and, again, I could feel the love and empathy coming through. The words of my friends made me choke up because it meant so much to have friends who care about me enough to feel a bit of my pain on my behalf and to want to be able to heal it, even though they can’t. At the same time, I have felt a bit let down by some friends. One friend never even wrote me back and another seems at a loss for what to say (I sense awkwardness in her messages to me). Another friend tries to be supportive, but as she’s pregnant (and rightfully wrapped up in that), it’s hard for me to feel truly supported by her (e.g., I’ll say something about how I’m feeling and she’ll follow it up with how she felt the baby kick).

In talking to my mom about DOR, she said she thinks it probably runs in her family. She wanted 4 kids, but only had me (pregnant at 32, gave birth at 33). My maternal grandmother had a stillborn daughter and then my mother. My maternal grandmother’s mother only had 2 children back in the day of no birth control and large families. I always thought I had to have all my kids by 32/33 because of my mom, but I never thought I’d be faced with this reality at 29.

Some other random bits and pieces: my acupuncturist “dropped” me. She said that she couldn’t really do anything for me right now and that it would be good for me to take a break. She said she could help with the side effects of the injectables and before and after egg transfer. I felt like it was one more nail in my coffin, like I must be so bad that she no longer sees the point in trying to help. I still like her and I will go back during IVF because the research really supports that it helps with IVF, but in that moment I felt abandoned. The night of our diagnosis or maybe the one after, J and I had sex – really loud sex. It wasn’t about trying to conceive, it was just about needing my husband. I needed to reaffirm life and to be physically close to him. In the last couple of days I’ve been thinking about how I need to get my life back in other ways too. I have become more materialistic and so self-absorbed. Everything came back to TTC and I was trying to fill the void I felt with material things. I want to start scrapbooking, thinking about other things, asking my friends more about themselves (and so on) again.

Each day gets a bit easier and at this point I’m counting down to my RE appointment on Jan. 15 and getting things in motion. But I still have my moments. I found it hard when a coworker (who saw me bawling right after I got my diagnosis) talked about me having kids like it was a given (it just reminded me that I may not be able to do what so many take for granted as a given). I found myself getting weepy after some drinks on Christmas night (worst Christmas present was my period, which started on Christmas day!). I ended up bawling after the New Year’s countdown. I am happy to see 2012 go and I hope that 2013 is our year, but the idea that all of 2012 passed with so much hope and disappointment and that I’m starting 2013 as an uphill battle was just too much in that moment. I am sure there will be many more moments where I break down and think of how unfair this is, but right now I am trying to hope and look forward.

5

The Tortoise or the Hare?

A friend of mine from grad school just excitedly told me that she and her husband are starting to TTC this month. She is excited, understandably so. I am happy for her, but I also feel a sense of dread. I feel like she’s bound to get pregnant before me and, although she has been married only one year less than and is a year older than me and fully deserving of being a mother, it just doesn’t feel fair. I felt dread because I feel that I will undoubtedly have to prepare myself for her pregnancy announcement before I even get my positive pee stick. This may not happen, but given my track record  and the fact that she’s a fresh start, it just feels inevitable. I’m not getting super down about it, but I couldn’t feel super excited for her either. I replied to her text with a text saying good luck, but had she seen my face she would have seen self-pity cross it. Having just gotten my period today and going through cramps (a literally painful reminder of my empty womb) made it harder to receive the news. I doubt my friend would expect or understand my reaction because she recently asked me if it wasn’t too early to be worrying about infertility. I hope she has better luck than me. As hard as it will be to hear about her pregnancy news if I’m not pregnant, I will be happy for her and I don’t wish infertility on anyone.