Monday, January 5, 2009

Dorky Dream

Okay, so I almost didn't document this, but I thought 'why not?'. I've already shared (most of) my thoughts, feelings, and emotions, no matter how pitiful, amusing, or embarrassing they were... what's one more?

Only this one probably takes the cake, as they say. So, here goes. (And it's okay to laugh - I did at one point.)

I blame it all on that 20/20 television show. I watched it last Friday night. It was called "Extreme Motherhood" or something like that. A portion of the show focused on women who wanted to be mothers, but never got the chance. These women carry around a (for lack of a better word) doll, as if it were a child.

In their defense, the doll looks very life-like (I think they are called 're-borns'), but it is just a doll. Regardless, these women diaper, dress, hold and cuddle these dolls. They take them out shopping, push them in strollers, strap them in car seats, and the list goes on.

Truthfully, I think it's a little odd, but who am I to judge how someone copes with sadness and loss? Especially after what happened later that night. This is where it gets ridiculous.

So 20/20 and its feature on "Extreme Motherhood" concludes and I head off to bed. That night, I had a dream...

I was talking with Ryan (I'm not sure where we were), and out of the corner of my eye, I see my cat (you read that right: my cat) running by, doing flips, rolling on the ground, trying to get my attention. I just ignore him, as Ryan and I are deep in conversation.

At the same time, I am hearing a voice calling "Mama, hey, look over here!" "Look over here, Mama!" I ignore that too, figuring it is some kid nearby calling to his mom. (Do you see where I am going with this???)

Soon, however, I realize it is Cosmo (yes, my cat) calling to me.

I start to sob. Was it because I discovered my cat could talk - thereby guaranteeing I would qualify for a spot on 'stupid pet tricks' and get to meet David Letterman???

No. It was because I was so desperate to be called a mother, it didn't matter who (or what) was saying it. To hear it felt so good, I couldn't contain myself.

Luckily, I woke up at that point. Very confused, slightly embarrassed, and feeling pretty pathetic. At least now I can laugh at it!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Rules

I appreciate your support and comments. Please read these rules before participating:

Don't Tell Me to Relax
By definition, a couple is not diagnosed as "infertile" until they have tried unsuccessfully to become pregnant for a full year. In fact, most infertility specialists will not treat a couple for infertility until they have tried to become pregnant for a year. This year weeds out the people who aren't infertile but just need to "relax." Those that remain are truly infertile.
Comments such as "just relax" or "try going on a cruise" create even more stress for the infertile couple, particularly the woman. The woman feels like she is doing something wrong when, in fact, there is a good chance that there is a physical problem preventing her from becoming pregnant.

Don't Minimize the Problem
Comments like, "Just enjoy being able to sleep late . . . .travel . . etc.," do not offer comfort. Instead, these comments make infertile people feel like you are minimizing their pain. You wouldn't tell somebody whose parent just died to be thankful that he no longer has to buy Father's Day or Mother's Day cards. Losing that one obligation doesn't even begin to compensate for the incredible loss of losing a parent. In the same vein, being able to sleep late or travel does not provide comfort to somebody who desperately wants a child.

Don't Say There Are Worse Things That Could Happen
Along the same lines, don't tell your friend that there are worse things that she could be going through. Who is the final authority on what is the "worst" thing that could happen to someone? Is it going through a divorce? Watching a loved one die? Getting raped? Losing a job?Different people react to different life experiences in different ways.
People wouldn't dream of telling someone whose parent just died, "It could be worse: both of your parents could be dead." Such a comment would be considered cruel rather than comforting. In the same vein, don't tell your friend that she could be going through worse things than infertility.

Don't Say We Aren't Meant to Be Parents
One of the cruelest things anyone could say is, "Maybe God doesn't intend for you to be a mother." How incredibly insensitive to imply that I would be such a bad mother that God felt the need to divinely sterilize me. If God were in the business of divinely sterilizing women, don't you think he would prevent the pregnancies that end in abortions? Or wouldn't he sterilize the women who wind up neglecting and abusing their children? Even if you aren't religious, the "maybe it's not meant to be" comments are not comforting. Infertility is a medical condition, not a punishment from God or Mother Nature.

Don't Ask Why We Aren't Trying IVF
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a method in which the woman harvests multiple eggs, which are then combined with the man's sperm in a petri dish. This is the method that can produce multiple births. People frequently ask, "Why don't you just try IVF?" in the same casual tone they would use to ask, "Why don't you try shopping at another store?"
IVF is Expensive with Low Odds
IVF is Physically Taxing
IVF Raises Ethical Issues

Don't Offer Unsolicited Opinions If/When We Try IVF
On the flip side of the coin, don't offer unsolicited advice to your friends who do choose to try IVF. For many couples, IVF is the only way they will ever give birth to a baby. This is a huge decision for them to make, for all of the reasons outlined above.

Don't Play Doctor
Infertility is a complicated problem to diagnose, and reading an article or book on infertility will not make you an "expert" on the subject. Let your friends work with their doctor to diagnose and treat the problem. Your friends probably already know more about the causes and solutions of infertility than you will ever know.

Don't Be Crude
It is appalling that I even have to include this paragraph, but some of you need to hear this-Don't make crude jokes about your friend's vulnerable position. Crude comments like "I'll donate the sperm" or "Make sure the doctor uses your sperm for the insemination" are not funny, and they only irritate your friends.

Don't Complain About Your Pregnancy
DON'T COMPLAIN ABOUT YOUR PREGNANCY. I understand from my friends that, when you are pregnant, your hormones are going crazy and you experience a lot of discomfort, such as queasiness, stretch marks, and fatigue. You have every right to vent about the discomforts to any one else in your life, but don't put your infertile friend in the position of comforting you. The fact that she is willing to be a part of this time in your life, despite her pain, speaks volumes about how much your friendship means to her.

Don't Treat Me Like I Am Ignorant
Let's face it-no one can fully appreciate the responsibilities involved in parenting until they are, themselves, parents. That is true whether you successfully conceived after one month or after 10 years. The length of time you spend waiting for that baby does not factor in to your appreciation of responsibility. Perhaps part of what fuels this perception is that infertile couples have a longer time to "dream" about what being a parent will be like. Like every other couple, we have our fantasies-my child will sleep through the night, would never have a tantrum in public, and will always eat his vegetables. Let us have our fantasies. Those fantasies are some of the few parent-to-be perks that we have-let us have them. You can give us your knowing looks when we discover the truth later.

Don't Gossip About My Condition
Infertility treatments are very private and embarrassing, which is why many couples choose to undergo these treatments in secret. Men especially are very sensitive to letting people know about infertility testing, such as sperm counts. Gossiping about infertility is not usually done in a malicious manner. The gossipers are usually well-meaning people who are only trying to find out more about infertility so they can help their loved ones.

Don't Push Adoption, Foster Care, or any other option
The couple needs to work through many issues before they will be ready to make an adoption/foster care decision. Before they can make the decision to love a "stranger's baby," they must first grieve the loss of that baby with Daddy's eyes and Mommy's nose. The adoption process is very long and expensive, and it is not an easy road. So, the couple needs to be very sure that they can let go of the hope of a biological child and that they can love an adopted baby. This takes time, and some couples are never able to reach this point. If your friend cannot love a baby that isn't her "own," then adoption isn't the right decision for her, and it is certainly not what is best for the baby.

For FAQ about my stance on various treatment options, see this blog post.

For the complete article referenced in the paragraphs above, see this posting.