Thursday, September 30, 2010

Keep Swimming!

IVF is very stressful. It is stressful on the body, mind and soul. Sometimes, it just gets to you. Sometimes you become truly overwhelmed, sad and almost paralyzed by the stress of it all. IVF takes a toll on every aspect of your life. I became truly overwhelmed by it all this past weekend. It has already taken me weeks to prep for my upcoming IVF procedure and I still have weeks to go before the procedure itself. I have had to line up my insurance company, doctors, embryologists and genetic labs. This all takes a lot of time and can be very frustrating.

This past Saturday, I lost it with complete strangers on the telephone. I had been fighting with my mail order pharmacy for WEEKS to get this one drug that I needed to start physically prepping for my IVF. If I didn't get this drug on the day that I needed it, I couldn't do my IVF this month and all of the work I have done to get everyone on the same page these past weeks would be for nothing. I called every day, two or three times a day, and talked to people who would assure me that it was coming the next day. The next day would come with no delivery and I would call them only to find out there were more glitches on their part.

Last Friday, after weeks of trying to get this medicine, I was told that I needed to stay in my house the entire next day so I could sign for my meds when they arrived. I wisely contacted the on call pharmacist the next morning because I was not going to wait all day just to have the meds not show up--again. I finally got someone on the phone and they told me it had not been shipped out as promised and it would not be coming. Over these past weeks I had try reasoning with this pharmacy, shouting, demanding to speak with managers, all that I had left was tears and hysterical sobs. Didn’t these people know how hard this process is without their added aggravation? Didn’t they appreciate what was at stake? Finally they were apologetic about the whole situation and they eventually transferred my prescription to another pharmacy, who was able to deliver my meds by the next business day.

On Saturday, after I got off the phone with this pharmacy, I did what many people do when they are dealing with intense frustration, I turned to facebook to vent. “All insurance companies and mail order pharmacies, in particular Curascript, can suck it!” was my status for the rest of the weekend. Was it the most mature thing to write? No. Did it feel good to write it? Yes. I received tons of comments supporting me in my frustrations. The best of which was from a student I used to work when she was in high school, who we will call Jody.

Jody was one of the kids I will never forget. She still is and always was the most gentle soul. She was shy, kind, thoughtful and had huge aspirations to change the world, even in the 8th grade. Jody also dealt with severe depression. She couldn’t see how beautiful, wonderful and valuable she was, no matter how many times I told her and I told her at least four times a day as her counselor. There were some days I know Jody did not want to exist anymore. There were some days I anxiously came into school praying that I would see her. But Jody made it into school every day. Jody saw many therapists, took her meds like she was supposed to and kept checking in with me. Jody continued to exist, and not only did Jody exist, but she thrived. Through participating in every community service project she could and being a loving presence to all who met her, Jody certainly changed the world. She continues to do so as a college student and is participating this weekend in Samaritans 5k event to raise money for suicide awareness.

I am so proud of Jody. I don’t usually make a habit of being facebook friends with my former students, but Jody is one of the exceptions. In reading my frustrated facebook status this weekend, Jody responded, “Keep Swimming!” I had to laugh immediately recognizing this quote from the movie “Finding Nemo.” The idea of continuing on in the face of adversity is a theme throughout this Disney classic, as Nemo's father tries to find his son with the help of his lovable friend Dory.

So I am going to “Keep Swimming.” Through the stress, the emotional and hormonal ups and downs, the injections, the doctors appointments, the set backs, the medications, the exhaustion. Jody kept swimming after all and this week she inspires me to do the same.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mini-Vacations from Infertility

Last weekend my family and I went on a short vacation to the beach to unwind and relax. My third and final IVF is rapidly approaching, so it was very necessary for me to take the time to be in the present moment, enjoying the beauty of nature and all of the little treasures life has to offer. I was so happy to take a break from thinking about my infertility treatments, and I was actually able to remain stress free and unburdened during my whole time away. The morning we were to go back home, I sadly said goodbye to the ocean. I realized on my vacation that there were ways I could “take mini-vacations” that would provide temporary stress relief as I navigate another difficult path on my journey.

1. Drinking a glass of wine, or a margarita, or some other tasty adult beverage. When struggling with infertility, being able to have a drink is the equivalent of “No Sally, you don’t win the car, but hey, you win our take home version of the game show!” No one really wants the crappy board game, but at least it is something. Clearly, I would like to be pregnant and therefore not be able to drink, but since I am not with child, yes I will have a margarita on the rocks with salt. ( Obviously, this is not a good option if you struggle with addiction--the social worker in me had to clarify this).

2. Doing something crazy. My husband and I weren’t sure what we would do for our 4th wedding anniversary. We were really depressed because we had thought for sure that we would be pregnant by that time. We knew we had a difficult autumn approaching, filled with doctors, fertility treatments and surgery. We decided to do something that we never would have done if we were pregnant or if we had kids. We spent the day at trapeze school. It was crazy and awesome. We will never forget it.

3. Being around nature. Whether I am sitting on a bench taking in the river view, or walking on a trail alongside the duck pond, I find peace and comfort in running water. I like to be by the water and feel its healing presence, especially on my tougher days. I feel spiritually rejuvenated in these spots. Being by the water reminds me that I am a small part of a greater universe, and I find that comforting.

4. Watching a fun movie. For people struggling with infertility, it is sometimes hard to find a movie that is relaxing. For instance, “Knocked Up“, a seemingly hilarious movie about a couple who accidentally gets pregnant, could be excruciating for someone who is having trouble conceiving. This past weekend I found a great movie to watch that was hilarious and not at all thought provoking or stressful; “Date Night” with Steve Carrell and Tina Fey. It made me laugh and took me away from my troubles for a little while.

5. Doing something to benefit others. Helping other people feels good. It is a beneficial distraction from your own troubles. After my failed IVF with embryo biopsies last year, I thought I had hit bottom. Then a few months later, I had an unexpected pregnancy and then went through my fourth miscarriage in less than a year. I was feeling really low and quite lost, looking for meaning and purpose. I eventually started writing, and I noticed that my writing had themes of peace and service. Eventually, was born, devoted to teaching preschoolers to love the environment, each other and themselves. With the site, I hope to make the world a little bit brighter. It brings me comfort to have created meaning and purpose when I was experiencing overwhelming feelings of sadness and emptiness.

These are some of the "mini-vacations" I take to escape from the stress of trying to conceive and of coping with the inevitable difficulties. Everyone has their small joys in life, whether they are exercise, reading a book, listening to music, eating a fabulous meal or getting away. I look forward to hearing about what brings you joy and relief from stress.
With Love,
and Happiness,

Sunday, September 5, 2010

So, when are YOU going to have a baby? Why that question should be illegal.

I am not sure how the question, “When are you guys going to have kids?” or “When are you guys going to have another baby?” became a casual, innocent question to ask. If I knew, I would turn back time to that moment and thwart any attempts to make those questions socially acceptable. As with many things in life, what appears innocent and friendly to some, is actually painful and hurtful to others. It is never okay to ask anyone those two questions or questions like those.

While my husband and I were desperately trying to conceive our little one, people would ask us all the time the dreaded question, “So, when are you guys having kids?” We had been married for four years before we got pregnant with our little one, unbeknownst to most, almost half of that time was spent trying to conceive. I suppose to the outside world it seemed odd that we hadn’t started a family yet. Simply hearing the question always brought me pain and heartache. There were certain times when hearing it was especially excruciating, like after my surgery for endometriosis or after my first failed IUI (see “Our Journey” post).

I never knew how to handle that question. Was I really supposed to tell cousin Frankie that I see once a year my whole sordid tale of infertility? Did my husband’s co-worker’s wife really want to know about my ovarian cysts at the annual office holiday party? Probably not. These people thought they were just making simple conversation. Then there were those closer relatives and friends who felt like they were doing me a favor by asking. They went on to explain how my husband and I would make amazing parents. They sometimes went further by saying how they could not wait to see what our kids would look like. (just put a knife in my already broken heart and twist it some more)

Once my husband and I had our daughter, I thought the days of awkward questions were over. Then after my daughter turned six months, coincidentally when we started trying to conceive again unsuccessfully, the awkward questions returned and still haunt me today. Most of our closer relatives and friends now know of our difficulties in trying to conceive and have stopped asking. But the people in our lives who are not aware of our struggles say things like, “So isn‘t it time for another one? Your daughter needs a sibling you know. She can’t be an only child.” I find that after all of the miscarriages I have had since my daughter‘s birth, I have a lot less patience for these questions. These questions do not make me sad anymore. They now make me angry. How dare these people ask such questions? Don’t they know how inappropriate these questions are?

What I eventually remind myself is that these people truly do not know inappropriate these questions are. A recent article in Self magazine reported that, “One in eight American couples will experience infertility, and 1.1 million women will undergo treatment this year. That most won’t talk about it makes it that much more painful: A recent survey of infertility patients reveals that 61 percent hide the struggle to get pregnant from friends and family.” Most of the time, I do not feel like educating people about how horrible their questions make me feel. It never seems like the time nor the place. I also hold back from responding to these questions with something equally inappropriate such as, “Yeah, we had hoped that our last four pregnancies had not ended in miscarriage, so we could in fact provide a sibling for our daughter. Thanks for asking”

My husband always has a knack for taking the “high road” in most situations. When he is asked about our intentions of having more children he always replies longingly, “I sure hope so.” Not the answer a person expects mind you, but it is enough to drop the topic of future family building and make the interrogator think a little.