Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Keep your head up.

This is a good one.  An infertility diagnosis is not only sad, it can be humiliating.  Something that comes so easily for what seems like all of your friends and family makes you feel like you should be embarrassed.  In reality, it does make it hard for a lot of people to relate and empathize with what you are going through, but that is no reason to be ashamed.  I've said this before, but it's one of the best things my mother ever said to me through this journey...You wouldn't be angry at yourself if you developed cancer.  You did not ask for this, but you have to accept it.  The sooner you realize that you have a disease, and it is something you have to deal with, then the more energy you can put toward resolving it.  

As for the heels, well, at my height [in the area of 5 feet above the ground], they are practically considered orthopedic. So yes, I wear heels a lot, even to my reproductive endocrinology appointments.  I know you may feel sad, want to put on sweats, and hide yourself in an over-sized hoodie, but I urge you not to.  You, not your husband or significant other, ultimately has to continue taking care of yourself.  Sometimes just going through the motions of putting on your war paint (what my daddy calls make-up) and your cute little outfit makes you feel sassy and battle-field ready. Even when you thought there was no way on earth you could feel that way!  From the MK school of counseling, there is a lot to be said for "Fakin' it 'til you make it!".  I certainly must encourage you, as you pursue fertility treatments, to keep a list in your mind of all of the things you have going for you and go over it every day.  I, personally, am thinking about making a poster and tacking it on my ceiling so I see it as soon as I wake up.  A list by the bed would work, dry erase marker on your mirror, I'm sure if you pinter-stalked around long enough you could find some totes cute ideas! 

I digress...don't forget what being dressed up does for you.  It's easy to be intimidated by a doctor with an alphabet soup behind his or her name of credentials.  Don't be intimidated.  Remember the doctor is on your team, and you are the team captain. So if it takes being dressed up to give you the confidence to speak with him or her, then definitely go for it!

Speaking of doctors and standards, let's talk about them.  Unless you live in a large urban area you may not even have a fertility clinic in your hometown.  Heck, I do live in a larger city with a teaching hospital, yet the closest clinic that does IVF cycles consistently is over an hour and a half away.  So, I urge you to start doing your research.  It may be that your problems can be resolved with medication prescribed by your regular OB/GYN, or it is a reasonable starting place for your given diagnosis.  If they are willing to do the monitoring and IUIs, make sure you find out what their protocol is and what they would do if you ovulate on a weekend. Also, don't be afraid to ask what their success rate is. If they are flexible, have someone willing to come in on off hours to perform the IUI, and have a decent amount of success with IUI's with people diagnostically similar to you, then by all means go for it and save yourself a commute.  That being said, you are probably going to be hard pressed to find a regular OB/GYN who does all of that.

When you start pursuing fertility treatments it is an investment, especially with IVF.  You deserve to know that your money is being well spent.  I encourage you to use resources like the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies (SART) published success rates.  Every IVF cycle is going to tell you more about your diagnosis.  So go back to this site often with your new information.  You can sort the data by your age group and diagnosis.  If there is a clinic within a reasonable amount of driving distance that has better results for your given set of conditions...get your hiney over there!  ESPECIALLY note that there are probably plenty of clinics that have just as good results as Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM) and Sher Institute of Reproductive Medicine (SIRM).  In fact, my little clinic in East Tennessee has better stats in some areas than Dr. Schoolcraft at CCRM.  You will probably be quite surprised at the number of clinics that do have as strong of stats as CCRM.  

So you bet the first thing BJ and I do is check out the new data when we are ready to resume our efforts before we make the first call to a fertillity clinic for an appointment.  As much as I love the Fertility Center, Pat, and Dr. D, another doctor may be having better results from a slightly different protocol that he has experience performing.  Another mark of a good clinic is that your choices will be supported, even if it means finding a new doctor.  I already know I have Dr. D's blessing to try somewhere else.  Ultimately, he wants the same thing as BJ and I very much do...a baby of our own.  

In Summary:

1.  I hope you never have to make these decisions.
2.  I hope if you find yourself in this situation, you never forget the blessings you already have.
3.  I hope you find a caring physician that you can work well with and a caring staff who is equipped to meet your needs both in experience and success rates.

Peace, Love and Keep That Chin Up, Lady!


Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Less-than-Optimal Fertile Christian

I haven't tackled how infertility effects or doesn't affect my spiritual beliefs, but I have had enough people attempt to explain my infertility away through their own beliefs, that I thought I deserved a turn.  I apologize if I offend anyone with this post even though no one has ever apologized to BJ or me for forcing their beliefs on us, or for telling us what God is trying to "do" to us.  I will never truly understand what it is about infertility that makes other people feel they get to give advice and judge our choices when it is something they've never dealt with.  It's a disease just like cancer is a disease.  Most tactful people don't go around the cancer ward telling the patients they don't have cancer because they do such and such.  It is EXACTLY the same thing!

That being said, this is my attempt to explain, through my own words how infertility has had an impact on me.  I am no biblical expert, and would never claim to be.  I'm not even attempting to debate anything with anyone.  I just want to take the chance to explain my thoughts and feelings on this matter through my spiritual perspective.

I am a proud "Cradle Episcopalian" and still consider myself one. Outside of church, I grew up in a very fundamentalist-rich environment and was frequently asked if Episcopalian was "even Christian".  Yes, it is....You remember Henry the 8th from World History?
That's us!!!  We were right there with Martin Luther breaking off from the Roman Catholic church.  Grant it,  the motives might have been slightly different, but none of us is Jesus Christ.  Am I wrong?  Anyway, if we are anything, we are tolerant.  This is probably the single most thing I enjoy about my church.  Our patrons are so diverse, and I feel very privileged to be part of that.  We are truly practitioners of the Golden Rule and "Judge not lest ye be judged." What all Episcopalians have in common is our Worship at the Episcopal Church which is a "creedal" church (See Nicene Creed) unlike most of the "confessional" churches that surround us in the Bible Belt.  Think of it as leading by example rather than words.  Let me reiterate I'm not saying confessional is wrong, it's just not what the Episcopal Church is.  I know some fine people that belong to confessional churches.  (But I know some that are annoying as sin, too!  I might even know an annoying Episcopalian or two...)  Episcopalians would never, ever say that our denomination (or religion, for that matter) is right or superior to yours.  Our "dogma" is simply the Apostle's Creed, and we NEVER add to this.  This is how the Conservatives in the front right pew of our church get along with Liberals sitting in the front left pew across the aisle.  

As for my faith and infertility, it is simple.  I have faith.  I know that I was made perfect in God's image even with infertility, just like my uncle who died of cancer was made perfect.  So I know that God did not "give", "cause", or "punish" me with infertility.  It is simply an unhappy circumstance that I must face during what I will one day look back on as a brief period of time of my life here on Earth.  If God just willy-nilly, "giveth and taketh away", and everyone who prayed for anything got it, there wouldn't be much point or need for religion would there?  For what reason would we have to sin if we had everything? 

I most frequently hear, "It's just not God's time for you."  Well, he sure picked a bad time for all the high school students I worked with that got pregnant.  Conceiving as a consequence of rape doesn't seem like an opportune moment, either.  For that matter, we as Christians are all really here because of a pregnancy with an extraordinary amount of bad timing for a young, unmarried virgin. What about when I or anyone miscarried(s)?  Are you saying that God made a mistake?  "It's your time. No wait, I changed my mind." I'm not honoring a debate on how a miscarriage wouldn't count as a "mistake" if you argue that life begins at conception.  God doesn't make mistakes, and I truly believe that.  God blessed me with this life, and I am working much harder at appreciating the one I am blessed with because I am realizing how truly blessed I am.

I simply pray for strength.  I pray to hold steadfast to my faith during this dogfight, to let God do His work through me as I face this battle, and to live up to my potential as a Child of God.  In a recent post I said something to the affect that God knew what He was doing in reference to me not having a child, yet.  This is simply my perspective on the current situation.  I don't really believe that God will "give" or "not give" me a child. I may or may not be blessed with a child, and yes I see that as different.  To be blessed with something is to have it as part of your journey on Earth.  We as humans will never understand everything we are blessed with as not all blessings seem "good".  Think about those that were martyred. I wouldn't call their lives happy, but they were certainly blessed. Yet, God blessed us with the means to endure the hardships and be humble, grateful, charitable and respectful of others during the good times, too.

The other one we get a lot is, "Maybe this is God telling you to adopt."  Did God tell you not to adopt?  This is such a personal decision, and I am grateful to have this option.  It is but just one option out of many that BJ and I have.  I am willing to share that we are talking to people who have adopted and are learning about their experiences, but we are also learning about other options as well.  So, my honest response to that is, 'No, I've not felt a call from God to adopt at this point nor have I felt a call to not adopt.'  The only call about our spawning journey I've felt recently, was from my husband when he said we've had enough for the time being.

I am proudly saying, that my journey with infertility has only strengthened my beliefs.  I'm finding happiness in life with what I have now.  I can honestly say that I truly have learned to appreciate what I have in the past year.  I thought I did a year ago, but, alas, no I didn't.  I had the idea, but now I got it I am getting it (definitely a process!!!). It's so much nicer to wake up knowing that I already have more than enough things in my life to wake up happy for. I believe that I am a loved child of God no matter what I face in this life, and that's why the Devil says, "Aw, crap!" when I get up each morning.  

Peace, Love, And Also With You,

Mary Katherine Roberts

PS. It would also be hasty of me, as a pierced, tattooed, sinning Episcopalian, to end this without saying, "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You!"

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I don't know where I'm going, but I promise it won't be boring!

OK, so for a while now I've been thinking what should I do with this blog while we are on a baby-making hiatus? (Well, at least by artifcial means *wink, wink*.)  I've been looking at some blog challenges, but let's face it...I've blogged about long metal objects being shoved up my cervix.  I think we are a little beyond an acrostic for M-A-R-Y at this point.  Nor do I think anyone cares that my last meal if I were on death row would be Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup heated up by my mama.  (Nobody does it like my mama does it.)

I finally got a Pinterest account (I know, I'm always late to the scene. Story of my life!) Anyway, I'm obsessed. There is so much stuff and so many good ideas.  Even cooler, RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, has it's own pinterest board with a lot of inspirational sayings and ideas that really hit home to the infertile-minded.  So, with all this inspiration, I came up with my own idea for a blog challenge...because once in a blue-freaking-moon I get all creative and such...

I've decided on a pinterest blogging challenge.  Pick a pin and talk about it!  Why is it significant?  How will it help BJ and/or I on our journey to parenthood? Some may be really short, and I think that is ok...some are totally random....I'm not sure how a picture of Damask cloth inspires a blogpost, but we'll work through the details of all that mumbo-jumbo later.  I'm just going to start with one of my boards and pick a pin.  Easy enough, right?  So here I go...

My mother has always said that I am, "certainly never boring", and I've accepted that this is probably my fate.  I will never quietly fit in with norms, even when I want to.  However, I always thought I knew where I was going, what I was doing, when I was doing it, how I was going to get there and what it would look like when I got there.  If infertility has taught me anything, it's that I do not have a %&*#ing clue!

As someone who tends toward the obsessive-compulsive personality type*, letting go seemed impossible.  It took a lot of change, and stripping away of all my plans to realize how much better life is when you just live it for this moment.  If there is any advice I can give to a fellow fertilly-challenged (I just made that word up because I'm amazing, and I can do that) person, it would be to just let go.  It's super scary, but it can let you live again and have a lot of fun, too. 

Letting go is not easy, but it does not mean quitting. It means just letting go of the idea of friskiness in bed sans the pill equals a baby. You and I, we just don't have that option. That does not mean we will never be parents (unless you make that choice). It does not mean you will never get to be a mother, father, co-parent, it just means that we have a different road to take. You can flagellate yourself for being on that road like I did, but, speaking from experience, it does not help. So now I'm choosing to strut down Infertility Lane with my pink sparkly pumps,

my head held high, and with BJ at my side in his bright pink bow tie.   

Letting go enables you to live your life in this moment, even when things seem impossible, beyond unfair, and make no sense what-so-ever.  Letting go has enabled me to not be bitter towards my friends who have beautiful babies.  It enables me to attend baby showers without ruining them for my friends.  I celebrate every conception, because I know how much of a miracle it really is.  I pray that my friends who are struggling get to their miracle before I do, because no one deserves this pain.  I have accepted that I have no clue when I will get to join my friends in Club Mama, and that is totally fine.  What they probably do not know, though, is that I'm studying them.  From every announcement to maternity picture and whatever other good ideas...I'm storing them away, because when it is my turn, it's going to be epic (Is epic still cool to say?...Whatever, it is if I said it!) My child is going to get the benefit of learning from some classy ladies as they figure out what works and what doesn't.  I am humble enough to appreciate that, and look forward to their help and guidance one day. 

Like I said, I'm clueless as to the how, when and what is going to make it happen.  I've let go of all of that and held on to the dream.  You know that saying...something about obstacles being in the way, or only seeing the obstacles when that is what you focus on, or somehow they, like, disappear or whatever if you keep your eye on the ball...err, well, you get the point...  All, I've got is a dream, and a rough sketch, and for now that is all I need.  It's time for me to let things fall in place at their appropriate time and not force it. I may be amazing, but I'm no god.  And however the plan unfolds, I promise it won't be boring!

Peace, Love, and Epic Non-Boringness,

*This is actually Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, but I prefer to use the term type because, I feel like it shouldn't be a disorder to have high standards! ;)