Saturday, August 29, 2015

My story is important too

Recently I was introduced to a reporter for a nationally published women's magazine who is planning to write a story on women who battled infertility but end their journey without children. She wanted to profile a few women in her story and was reaching out to a few people.  I'll be honest, I was scared shitless when I sent her the small blurb about our story and a couple of pictures of myself because, let's face it, if chosen I would go from being relatively anonymous in an obscure corner of the blogosphere to having my name and possibly picture published in a national women's magazine.  But I thought to myself "announcing" my infertility in a national publication would be pretty badass.

The reporter was very upfront that she was gathering blurbs from multiple women and then she planned to take everything to her editor and decide how to proceed from there and that sending her a short blurb was by no means a guarantee that my story would be published.  I knew from the beginning that my story was a long shot to be published. I wasn't chosen to be profiled.  To be clear, I'm not upset or hurt, not even a little bit.  And I'm not surprised.   Lets face it, the goal of a women's magazine is to sell issues, and sensational headlines sell magazines.  Mine headline isn't sensational at all.  In fact, "Infertile Woman Doesn't Pursue Treatment But Still Grieves That She Will Never Have Children" is probably a headline better suited for The Onion than a women's magazine.

Catchy headline or not, I think my story is important to share.  I think that there are a whole lot of women (couples) that fall into the same category as me (and my husband), couples who are infertile but don't or can't seek treatment.  For us there wasn't any one particular reason that we didn't do IVF.  It just felt like the right decision for us.  We went as far as we were willing to go and were willing to accept any consequences as a result of our decision.  We were on the same page from the start.  There wasn't even much discussion.  We just knew it wasn't for us.  This isn't to say it wasn't hard because it was gut wrenching.

Other couples have religious objections to IVF.  Catholicism comes immediately to mind.  Others have ethical issues with IVF.  What to do with any frozen embryos is a question that many are faced with.  Gender screening.  Genetic testing. It's a whole can of worms.  There are no easy answers and there are no universally correct answers.  The right answer is what is right for the couple.

For many couples, the cost of IVF is insurmountable.  Not everybody of reproductive age has a spare $15-20 grand laying around to pay for a medical treatment that, best case, has a 70% failure rate.  In fact I would guess that many people don't have that much laying around without tapping into home equity or retirement.  I'll never forget after we received our infertility diagnosis we were ushered into a room to talk to the IVF nurse and then to another room to talk with the financial manager (notice how I said ushered, at no point were we asked if we wanted to talk to these people, but we were reeling from the news we'd just received and couldn't say no).  The finance manager was talking about paying for IVF and gave us a brochure about financing IVF through a specific company.  Since my sarcasm often comes out at times such as these I remember saying something to the effect of "yeah, that's probably at a 25% interest rate too" to which the finance manager replied "actually I think it's only around 22%."  Now I'm no economist or accountant but that sure seems like predatory lending to me.

But the point is that there are a lot of people who don't or can't pursue advanced fertility treatments.  It doesn't mean that the couple didn't try hard enough.  It doesn't mean that they didn't want it bad enough.  It doesn't mean that it was God's will.  Or that they wouldn't have made great parents.  They are good enough.  They did want it enough.  They would have been awesome parents.  And God (if such a being actually exists) doesn't have a damn thing to do with fertility (or infertility).

At the end of the day I'm grateful to have been given the opportunity to correspond with the reporter.  Doing so took me far out of my comfort zone.  But you know what?  The sky didn't fall.  The training wheels came off of the bike and I didn't wreck.  I grew.  I don't know what this means going forward. On one hand I feel like maybe I have found my voice (or at least my confidence) but on the other hand I don't think I'm ready for an infertility coming out party.  But what I know for certain is that my story is important too.

Monday, August 24, 2015

One year blogaversary

Cheesy, but seems to fit.
Photo Credit: my Facebook newsfeed
I started this blog one year ago today, mainly because I had a lot of "stuff" that I needed to get off of my chest.  Blogging appealed to me for two main reasons: first, there seemed to be a small but extremely supportive community; and second because of accountability-I knew that I couldn't hide behind my grief, fear, anxiety, whatever, if I had a blog.

A year later I can confirm that, while still small, this community is so very supportive and has welcomed me with open arms.  A year later I can also confirm that knowing that people read my words has been a source of accountability, because it forces me to deal with the tough stuff.

When I started this blog, I did it for me.  I figured that a few people might stumble across it eventually, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would get 12,836 page views from all over the world.  I never dreamt that I would get 100, or 1000, or 10,000.  This blows my mind.

My writing isn't the greatest and most of my posts have multiple typos, but this is partially by design. For the most part I sit and write and punch "publish" without much editing because sometimes I second guess myself.  I worry if people will judge me or think I'm crazy or whatever.  So before I lose the courage, I post.  It's what I need to do right now.  Maybe at some point I'll get past this, and if not, that's ok.

I'm really terrible with this sentimental stuff.  Writing it out has been so difficult but so cathartic.  I've grown so much in those 92 posts.  All 624 comments have been read and most responded to.  It means so much to know that people cared about me enough to read my posts and make a comment.  I do not have words to adequately express my gratitude.

Since starting this blog, my husband and I survived our first holiday season knowing that we'd never have our own kids and it turned out to be wonderful, I survived the pregnancies of two sisters and the births of two nieces, I suffered a painful casualty of infertility when I lost a really good friend, I made the impossible decision to get an IUD, I survived Mothers' Day and Father's Day, I turned another year older and celebrated my first birthday where I new for sure there wouldn't be a pregnancy or baby by my next birthday, and so many things in between.

I sense that there's going to be a few rough months ahead with my sister's recent pregnancy announcement so I will really need this space.  I'm so much stronger and in a better place than I was this time last year, and this is in no small part to every person who reads this blog.

Friday, August 21, 2015

And then there was me

I found out one sister was pregnant last summer.  My niece was born in early February.

I found out another sister was pregnant last fall.  My niece was born in early June.

I found out today that my third sister is pregnant.  Due in February.  It wasn't unexpected.  I'm happy for her (them).  It wasn't easy for them to conceive.  It took two years and several IUIs.

Thankfully I do not have any more sisters (or brothers).

I'm taking it hard.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Brain dump

There are so many things I want to write about right now but spare time evades me so I will just do a brain dump, complete with bullet points.

  • Over the weekend I read New York Times article titled A Grief So Deep It Won't Die (article link).  The title alone attracted me to the article because, lets face it, I (and presumably most of the readers of this blog) have a bit of experience with grief.  As it turns out, the article was about Complicated Grief.  I've heard the descriptor used in this community and I assumed that someone in our community came up with this term and really it did seem to fit because our grief is so complicated and so unlike anything that most people will ever experience.  I didn't feel the need to do anymore research before the weekend when I read the article but as it turns out this syndrome first began to be described in the 1990s and is actually a pretty well researched.  I actually had a longer post planned on this topic, and maybe I'll still write it, but I wanted to post the article because I can't see any extra time coming my way for a couple of weeks.
  • My dog had to get six stitches in his ear last week.  Even though he had to be put under anesthesia to get the stitches, he was completely unbothered by the whole thing.  I wish I had his attitude.
  • We had to drop a substantial sum of money at the mechanic to fix my car.  I very much would have preferred to spend that money on something more fun (e.g., a vacation).
  • Each year the university that I work at has a ceremony to welcome the incoming freshman before the start of the new semester, and that ceremony was yesterday.  Part of me was struck by the fact that I'll have a chance to have direct contact with and potentially impact the lives of about 10% of the matriculating class, but the rest of me was hit by the realization that I'll never get to drop my child of at college.  Ouch.
  • I realized that I forgot to do my July reading post so I'm going to wait until the end of August and do a combined July/August reading post.  :)
  • My one year blogoversary is rapidly approaching.  Hard to believe it's been (almost) a year!  
  • Fight Song by Rachel Platten has been a really meaningful song to me lately.  The video is quite cheesy, but I love the song!  Have a listen: 

I hope you are having a fabulous week!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Reserved parking?

Are you freaking kidding me?  I've heard of these spots but have never seen one before today.  I laughed so hard at the absurdity of this sign.  I mean really.  Who thinks these things up?

I swear to god that if this spot is ever open at a time when I happen to be at the mall I will park in it as a small act of civil disobedience.  I dare someone to question me.

As seen at my local shopping mall.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

A list of names

Earlier today I was looking for an old file on my computer when I came across a completely unrelated document titled "names.docx."  Curious about what it was I opened it up and then realized in approximately a second exactly what it was.  Years ago, back in the early days of TTC when we assumed I'd get pregnant easily, we sat down and came up with a list of baby names that we both liked.  The "names.docx" document was our list.

I wasn't expecting to find this.  Honestly I had forgotten all about it until I opened it up.  It's hard to describe how it made me feel.  Something less than a kick to the stomach but something more than an ouch.  The list brought back all kinds of happy memories.  When we sat down to come up with the list, we were some combination of giddy with excitement about starting our own family and and scared shitless of bringing our own tiny human into the world.  Not surprisingly it brought up some really sad feelings too.

I dragged the file to the trash, immediately regretted it, and then dragged it back to the old folder it was in where it will remain indefinitely.  I pulled it out and kept it because I realized that the silly list of names is the closest we ever got our own baby.  So much love was put into that list.  So much hope for the future.  It wasn't for nothing.  It wasn't a waste of time.  It's ok to hold on to this memory.  Those names were for our baby, our baby just never came to fruition.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Who will be there for us?

Who is going to be there for me when I get old?  This is a question that's not new to this community.  We've all wrote about it or at least thought about it.  I've thought about it a lot too.  The last five days have provided the occasion to think a lot about it.

We were at my in-law's house on Saturday when I got a text from my mom asking if I could call her as soon as possible, which isn't my mom's style at all, so I knew something was up.  My dad had a heart attack.  Luckily, at least at that point, it appeared to be a pretty minor heart attack.  She called again on Sunday morning after meeting with the cardiologist and the plan was for him to have a heart catheterization on Monday

After taking with hubs, the plan we devised was to return home to our house on Sunday afternoon (our original plan) and then I would leave early on Monday morning to drive to my hometown to be with my mom.  One sister had a meeting that she couldn't miss, another sister just started a new job in July so she couldn't miss the day of work, and my youngest sister is a stay at home mom to three kids and didn't have a babysitter.  I'm glad it worked out that I could be there, but there is some irony in the fact that I live 150 miles away from my parents and in a different state but all three of my sisters reside in the same county as our parents.  I was thankful to have the ability to rearrange my schedule to be there.

He had the heart cath on Monday, they found a 99% blockage in a really challenging place, cleared it, and placed a stent in his artery.  The heart attack was quite a bit more significant than the blood tests indicated, but with some minor diet and lifestyle changes and some medication, he should be just fine for a long time to come.  He was able to go home on Tuesday evening, but was told he shouldn't really do strenuous physical activity for at least two weeks, which is extremely hard for a 62 year old man who has worked every day for the better part of the last 50 years.  Between this and my mom's breast cancer scare in June/July, I think I'm maxed out in the "parental health crisis" stress category.  I'm so grateful because they were both lucky, our family was lucky.  Hopefully both will be healthy for a long time to come!

My dad's heart attack and me making sure to be there to support my mom made the reality of not having children hit me pretty hard.  If hubs ever has a major health crisis, who is going to drop everything and rush to be with me?  If I ever have a health crisis, who is going to drop everything and rush to be with hubs?  We have nieces and nephews, sure, and while we have a great relationship with all of them, we're not particularly close with any of them and they all live in a different state, so we're not going to be able to count on them.  It's a lonely feeling.  I feel the need to plan for this, but how does one even plan for the unknown?

It is times like this where the weight of infertility is crushing.  It is times like this that make me question decisions that we made.  I'll get through this just like I always do.  Tomorrow is a new day and it will be better.  I have so many things to be thankful for.