Wednesday, April 21, 2010

One of the Best Feelings

I think one of the best feelings in the world is when you are holding and feeding a baby and you spend the entire time just looking at each other. I got to experience that on Monday when I took care of a 4 month old baby boy. It had been a long time since I had held a baby (years!), much less fed one. I’ve been trying to steer clear of them, for a number of reasons, but mainly because it felt like people with babies were always trying to force them on me. I didn’t like that. Also, I was afraid to hold them because of the feelings I knew would come… the sadness and longing.

This time, I was able to hold this baby boy because I wanted to, not because someone was trying to make me. It was just him and I rocking in my big recliner. The house was quiet. No one was there asking me questions or trying not to make it awkward. I didn’t have to put on a show. I just held him for a long time until he fell asleep.

I already miss that feeling. I can’t imagine how much stronger it must be when you are sharing it with your own child.

I AM Tough!

The other day, my boss was teasing me, as he loves to do so often. I take it very well, and occasionally dish it back. As the morning went on, and the teasing persisted, he made the comment, “You’re not very tough. So-and-so is tougher than you.”

I thought about this statement, “You’re not very tough”, for several days after.

Although he was just teasing me, I began to think about this comment in a much deeper sense.

I AM tough. I am tougher than most people around me realize.

And you are too.

As we look around at our fellow co-workers, friends, family and strangers, we have no idea what struggles they are dealing with. Sometimes, people are more open about their problems, but other times they keep their trails to themselves.

For example, anyone who reads this blog, or is close to me, knows about my struggle with infertility. But they don’t know the other things I have dealt with over these past 7 years, whether they are professional, personal, or spiritual.

We see someone on a daily or weekly basis, and we think we know them. But we may not really know them at all. We could label someone as ‘tough’, and discredit another as ‘weak’, and we could be completely backwards.

We are promised we will not be given more than we can handle. For some people, a certain trail is all they could take. It completely turns their world upside-down, and makes them question everything they’ve ever been sure of before. But someone else could take on that trial along with 3 others, and still smile at the end of the day.

It is not up to us to determine who is ‘tough’. It is up to us to BE tough, and to rest comfortably in that knowledge, despite how others may perceive us.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Decisions and Research

Lately, I have been listening to the Creating a Family podcast. In a recent show, they discussed the topic of writing out a plan for infertility treatment. This really resonated with me, as I (obviously) love to plan things!

Seriously though, as Ryan and I venture into the ‘fertility treatment’ world, I think it is a great idea that we first sit down and write a few things out. Seems right now, when we are clear-headed, hormone-free, and not wrapped up in the process, it is a good time to talk about some of the tough decisions and get on the same page.

For example, in a brief 30 second conversation with Ryan a few days ago, I found out that he would lean towards IVF before pursuing adoption. I had recently come to that conclusion for myself as well, although we hadn’t talked about it. As far as both of us knew, we thought the other would prefer adoption first, because that has always been how we talked about it. Funny that we each made that change individually.

So lately, I have been researching what some of these tough decisions will be and trying to get my thoughts together about how we’d approach them. Now that we’ve added IVF to the table, there are many more decisions to think about.

The following is a perfect example of why I want to think about these things ahead of time…

What do you do with ‘leftover’ frozen embryos?

In researching this, I was surprised to discover that most people did not think about this issue prior to pursuing IVF. I can understand why. At this point, you have tried for years to conceive, so not only is the thought of the procedure actually working hard to believe, you can’t even imagine that there would be embryos remaining after all is said and done.

That being said, I am trying to learn from others’ difficulties, and discuss with Ryan ahead of time how we might approach this. I consider embryos to be life, so I feel I need to have a plan for them before I ‘create’ them. As Ryan and I talk about our fertility treatment plan, I imagine we are going to set certain guidelines that will help in avoiding this situation, but should we get there anyway, I want us to be on the same page.

Here are the options available for frozen embryos, as it sits now. If you know of anything else, please pass that information along.

1. Continue having children until all embryos are gone: This is ideal, but sometimes not always an option, especially if many eggs were fertilized and children came quickly. It is not uncommon for women to have 20+ embryos in frozen storage. I hope to avoid this scenario by forming some guidelines, as mentioned above.

2. Thaw and dispose: Exactly as it sounds. The lab will thaw the embryos to room temperature for about an hour. They die on their own, and the ‘straws’ they are held in are disposed of into a biohazard waste container. Some parents collect the straws and will perhaps bury them in a special place.

3. Donating to research: In this situation, the embryos are used to try to find medical advances in a variety of fields, stem-cell research being one of the most discussed.

4. Compassionate Transfer: This is a newer idea in which the embryos are transferred to the mother without the necessary preparation for pregnancy to occur. While it might be possible that a pregnancy could result, it is very unlikely, and the embryos die inside the mother’s body.

5. Embryo adoption: This process is similar to a live adoption. ‘Donating’ parents choose a waiting couple and the adoption process flows accordingly. The adoption can be ‘open’ or ‘closed’.

6. Store indefinitely: Couples pay the storage fee each year, and leave embryos as is. Put more bluntly, this is deciding not to decide. At some point, the parents would pass away, leaving the next generation to decide what to do with these embryos at that time.

There are a couple options that sound okay and some I’d never do. This is why it is so important to talk about this ahead of time. I’ve heard women talk about the decisions they made ‘in the heat of the moment’, that they later regret. For example, one mother spoke of agreeing to fertilize all 30 eggs that were retrieved during her 'fresh' IVF cycle. She was desperate to begin her family, and without stopping to think about it, she simply went according to her doctor's recommendation. Four children later, she sat wondering what to do with the 23 embryos that remained.

Although I can’t guarantee that I won’t end up making spontaneous and emotional decisions at some point, I’d like to prevent it as much as possible by facing these questions now. I have a few other tough issues that I’m researching (minimal stimulation for IUIs, “natural” IVF cycles, etc). Through these discussions with Ryan and a lot of prayer, I hope to have a basic plan for how we’d like our treatment might flow by our May doctor’s appointment.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dreams of a Baby

Published by: A.D. Mariano

Our arms are empty. Our souls are tired.
Our hearts are heavy and faith feels old.
The world sees us as selfish, too
For we desire a child to hold.

We've read the books and heard opinions
And endured the loss of hope,
While those around us have the nerve
To advise us how to cope.

We've seen the pros and followed charge
We've thought we'd never do,
And yet the crib stays empty
And we feel empty too.

I don't know where this road goes
As we treat it with much fears
That we will wind up heartbroken
With a cradle full of tears.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Oh, my gosh, it’s actually happening!

I called Dr. Synn’s office today and made an appointment for a consultation. It has been three years since the surgery, four years since I began fertility treatments, and six whole years since I saw Dr. Synn the first time for testing.

The last seven years have been a long, hard road. The most difficult part by far has been these last three years, dealing with depression and feeling stagnant.

We will see how the consultation goes, but as of now we are on track to begin a medicated IUI cycle in August.


Monday, April 12, 2010

The Ramblings of an 'Older' Infertile

Once I passed age 30, I found myself instantly concerned with a few issues...

First, I could now hear the clock ticking. Not like I hadn't heard it before, but I immediately felt this "countdown to 35" begin.

At the age of 35, a pregnant woman is usually assigned to a specialist automatically. Why? Because she is considered a geriatric pregnancy.

SERIOUSLY? A GERIATRIC pregnancy??? Really, with our modern-day advances, we can't figure out a better term for an older mother?

Plus, the medical community takes every opportunity to remind you about all the risks that are associated with 'older mothers'. Thanks.

Way to bring a girl down.

Not that I would mind being pregnant at 35. I would be over the moon. I would proudly take that geriatric pregnancy label and wear it on my forehead if I needed to.

But nevertheless, I hear the countdown. And it's not pretty.

Another issue I have is with the way that others judge the infertile community. Especially the 'older' infertiles. (I have to say, that in this instance, I am mainly referring to the Mormon community... whom I love... for the most part...)

I know, I know, I'm still young. Blah, blah, blah.

But I am now in my 30's. And many people tend to look at women who have infertility issues in their 30s and think that we 'brought this on ourselves' by waiting too long to pursue a family. We put our careers / travel / money / fun first and now that we are ready for a family we 'waited too long'.

What people don't realize is that many of these 'older infertiles' didn't wait. And even if they did, who are we to judge?

However, *I* started trying to begin my family when I was 23!

How ironic that if I had gotten pregnant right away at age 23, some would have thought I was 'too young'. But now that I will be in my 30s when I become a mom, others would call me an 'older mother'.

Which brings me to my last gripe (for tonight): When I do become a mom at 31 or 32 or 38, will I have anything, anything in common with the new 21-year-old moms at church? Will the age difference be blaring in my face, or will our new-motherness bridge the age gap?

So many questions tonight, but not a lot of answers. Sigh.

And life goes on...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

You've Come A Long Way, Baby!

I did not cry this Easter weekend. Not one tear. Even when I:
  • spent nearly the entire day at home by myself.
  • had no one to teach the true Easter story to.
  • read Facebook postings about all the Easter Egg hunts going on and the cute Easter outfits that my friends' kids wore.
  • had no Easter basket to prepare because there was no one to give it to.
  • listened to Church Conference that included many talks on parenting, with one talk focused entirely on motherhood.
  • had no reason to get up at the crack of dawn and hide eggs.

Instead, I:

  • spent hours and hours preparing and executing a fundraiser for my Young Women so they can all attend Girls' Camp at little/no cost to them.
  • listened to Church Conference and took away from it those things that matter to me right now.
  • made a lemon cake for my family to enjoy.
  • spent all day sewing skirts for my nieces.
  • said lots of little prayers throughout the day.
  • bought a couple favorite Easter candies and ate them all myself.

Compared to the Easters in years past, I felt I made it through this one quite well! No pity parties. When I felt one coming on, I just tried to change my thinking. I concentrated on serving others, while doing little things for myself too. I tried to think about the true meaning of Easter, and how it pertained to me.

I wonder if someday, when Easter has become the fun and chaotic madness it is when you have children, I will look back at this Easter with fond memories. The Easter I spent all alone. Interesting thought.