Thursday, May 6, 2010

Party time.

I have to admit I have been in such a place of self pity lately. Getting the word that we are not eligible for our clinic's new money back program is confirmation that the doctors who know our case the best, and were still offering platitudes of hope do not think that we are a good bet. Every little morsel of bad news seems to compound my feeling of loss and deepen my pathetic need for some recognition and a good pity party. I just feel so alone. I do not know that this is actually true right now, but my brain is telling me that the rest of the world has moved on, and that my family members, who were informed of the IVF and the failure, did not give me what I needed or wanted, because they can't read my mind and are unwilling or too uncomfortable to ask. They either think it isn't a big deal, or they just don't think of it at all and it is nearly killing me.

Strangely, this ungracious, dank place has led me to some deep thinking about what other situations create terrible lonely holes for the women I know. I cry and occasionally feel so much pain because of the death of my embryos, which is compounded in my sick head by the fact that no one but me would consider that a significant or true loss and how angry I am that no one thinks to send flowers. (This to be expected from a family that did not even offer condolences, nor send flowers to our mutual brother in law when his father died unexpectedly of a heart attack, is truly proof that I am being unrealistic right now - pack of selfish heathens. And YES, I am in a very ugly place right now, and yes I will be deleting this last part as soon as I regain control of my beating heart and brain)

You know who else never gets flowers? People who go through divorces. And I am only starting to scratch the surface in understanding how terrible and awful that pain is. I am thinking of my really nice, really awesome neighbor who I barely talk to and who I have awkwardly skirted around the issue of her husband leaving. The few things I have said have likely been inadequate or maybe even unintentionally hurtful. Truthfully, I have just been way too wrapped up in my own life and business and stew to acknowledge hers. And maybe that would actually be a kind thing to do. Literally the least I could do. As I was lying in bed simmering, I knew she very well could have be doing the exact same thing. Feeling so lonely and unrecognized and horribly sad. And I felt so driven to use this crap for some greater good. To not let it eat my soul. To let it deepen my sympathy, and more importantly, my awareness of others.
Have any of you had need for this kind of horrendous pity party? I would love to hear about your reasons. I really don't want to miss one more invisible invitation to anyone's.

How to be good friends with an infertile

I found the most wonderful blog today with wonderful posts and great comments. I flat out stole the following from this new blog I love. It is somewhat of a lengthy read, but just so dead on. Here is the link to the great blog if it is better to read it there.

How to be Good Friends with an Infertile

I have quite a few ‘normal’ friends (i.e. not infertile) who read this blog. (I am so far out the closet it is frightening, even my brother and ex flirts read this blog). Imagine how confusing most of the lingo must be for them. Anyhow. Back to the point of this post. One of those friends said to me “I wish you would write about how to be a good friend to an infertile person”. Which is really sweet of her and shows she has already passed one of the requirements. So I started thinking about writing a post on this and realized what a hard task this is. How do you become a Good Friend to an Infertile?

Firstly, I have to say that this being a Good Friend to an Infertile is not an easy job at all. It is a job with fluid parameters, a thankless job sometimes and one where it might appear that no matter how hard you try, you never seem to get it right. There are times when you will be extremely busy and the job is very demanding. There are other times where you will benched, forced to sit on the outside looking in. There is not often any logic in this change of demand. Be aware of the volatility of work pressure when applying for this job. It is not a decision to be taken lightly.

Secondly, there is not a universal job description, and worst of all, your job duties will change over time. There is not a universal job description because Infertiles come in different flavors. True, one can categorize these flavors to some extent, but variations will always exist. Your eternal optimist / newbie / completely uninvolved infertile doesn’t need too much in the way of special friendship; they believe the problem is temporary and will get resolved soon. They don’t feel broken, different or an outcast. Your longer term / highly involved infertile is a very tricky beast, and is one to be handled with great caution and protective gloves (for you, not her). This person feels alienated from society and carries great pain and angst in their souls. They might not show it all the time, but there is a very sensitive, raw spot in their souls that is easily bruised. Then you get the older timers, who’ve been doing this so long it just becomes part of who they are. These infertiles have gone through the great angst and intense pain of the ‘dark years’ and have come out realizing that while infertility is shit, it is not all consuming. And instead of crying, they laugh. Because infertility is actually a comedy of errors, sometimes.

Infertiles tend to move through these stages at different pace. Which makes it very hard being a Good Friend to an Infertile, because the type of friendship involved is so different at each stage. It is very very hard being a Good Friend to someone stuck in the dark stage of infertility. It is a very painful place for an infertile to be. There is no hope, just a great deep dark sense of despair. You feel totally alienated from the rest of the world and you are consumed by your situation. Every thing hurts, and every thing has the power to hurt you. Your world shrinks to the world of infertility and you fight tooth and nail to protect the fragile hold you have on sanity. The best advice I can give to a Good Friend at this stage is to offer friendship and support, from a distance. Say things like “I am here for you if you want to talk, or not talk, or drink, or swear, or shop. But if you don’t want to that’s perfectly ok. I’ll be here waiting for you when YOU are ready to come out the cave”. If you can bare it, hang in there, your friendship should return to some semblance of its previous form once your Infertile has worked her way through her dark despair. It has nothing to do with you or you ability to friend, it has every thing to do with her coping with the horrible reality of her situation.

Being a Good Friend to the eternal optimist or the good-humored veteran is a lot easier, with these few survival tips.

1. Good Friends never judge. Remember that unless you’ve walked in the person’s shoes, you can’t say “well I would never….do IVF/terminate a pg/spend so much money on ART etc” To be honest, who likes judgmental people any way.
2. Good Friends will educate themselves about what their Infertile is going through. HUGE proviso: see point 3 before putting any thing into action. Read up about infertility so that you get a high-level understanding of the intricacies involved. Know little things like eggs are retrieved, then fertilized and they become embryos. Then the embryos are put back. Just small things so that when your infertile does share some of her world with you, you will understand. I think this shows commitment to the friendship.
3. However. Do not willy nilly offer advice, or hot off the press latest research about a fantastic new procedure that is sure to work. Remember the stuff they write about in your local woman’s magazine is stuff that your Infertile did in Infertility 101. Been there, failed that. ICSI is not a new procedure, I promise. And yes, we have heard of taking cough syrup to increase cervical mucous. Oh, and for my Aunt, yes I have heard of lying with my legs in the air after having sex. Unfortunately, I have PCO and don’t ovulate so I could be lying with my legs in the air doing bicycle movements till the cows come home and all the sperm are going to do is mill around confused asking where the %$#$ the egg is, bemoaning the fact that this has been a useless trip out and they might as well have had a wank. Which goes back to Point 2. Educate yourself about your friend’s diagnosis so that you can avoid offering pointless advice. And please, what ever you do, never, ever be so stupid as to say “just relax”. Would you say to a cancer patient “just relax”? Would you say to someone who can’t see “just relax”? Of course you wouldn’t. Plus you have to know that “just relaxing” will not change the medical diagnosis that is causing your friends infertility. Because of course you’ve done enough reading to carry on an intelligent conversation, if your Infertile decides to engage you in one.
4. Platitudes. Never ever offer platitudes. This is a totally selfish act any way because all platitudes do is make you feel better and the Infertile feel worse. Saying “maybe you are not meant to have children” is an incredibly stupid thing to say. You wouldn’t say to a diabetic “maybe you weren’t meant to have insulin etc”. Infertility is a medical condition. Not some factor in the universe’s bigger plan for the Infertile. Similar to “its God will”. How do you know? You have a direct connection or what? How about “are you sure you want kids?” lovingly looking at your own screaming kids. No dear, I am spending thousands and enduring physical, emotional and mental anguish just because I am obscenely stupid. Or “you can have mine”. Now that’s an incredibly stupid thing to say. What kind of mother are you to give her kids away? Oh you were only joking? What was the funny part? That I don’t have my own kids? Sorry, but I am not getting the joke? Call me stupid. In addition, please don’t tell me about your friend/cousin/co-worker who got pg naturally after 8 years of trying. It doesn’t make me feel better, it depresses me. Good for her. It’s got nothing to do with my situation.
5. The tricky one. Announcing pregnancies / baby showers / births and other kid things. The best advice I can give here is trust the Infertile to know what she can or can’t handle. Don’t hide things from her, but respect it when she says to you “I don’t think I am going to be able to handle that”. Your Infertile knows when her good days and bad days are, and what she can or can’t handle. But do invite her, give her the choice of saying no. And then respect her to know that sometimes she needs to protect her own fragile soul more than she needs to fulfill social obligations.
6. The level of involvement. Infertiles differ in the level of involvement they engage their Good Friends in. Some, like me, are pretty open about the whole thing. Every Friend and their Mother knows when I am going in for ER, ET or whatever. Other people prefer to keep their infertility private. Find out what your Infertile prefers and operate at the level she feels comfortable with.
7. Which brings to me to my final point. If you don’t know how to act, ask. I love that my friends ask me how I want them to act around me. They also know that if they ask the question “how is it going with your treatment” I will either tell them or I will say “irritating, I don’t want to talk about it now”. They totally respect that and don’t push. I have great friends.

There have been many articles written on the web about what to say and not to say to an Infertile, how the family should act etc. I wont go into those. If you are a Good Friend you will have done a little surfing and read those things anyway. Besides, this post is already way too long.

To end off, if you decide to accept the job of Good Friend to an Infertile, I applaud you. Because it is not an easy job. It really isn’t. As I have said, it’s a pretty thankless job and one in which your job description is so fluid that what is required today is wrong tomorrow. I thank those of my Good Friends who have stuck around so long with me. I know it hasn’t been easy. I appreciate your friendship, I really do.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010


I don't know how many weirdos have told us we "deserve" a baby. It's being pitched like leather seats in new car. Or a Snickers.
The latest one to pitch this idea was my reproductive endocrinologist. She said "adoption is not straight forward" And I appreciated her saying that, because the "you deserve a baby" comment is paralleled in crazy only by the "why not just adopt" line. No person who has ever adopted would use the word "just" to describe one part of it: emotional, financial, or otherwise. Doctor could have just left things at that and the converstion wouldn't have been so Twin Peaks-ish. But she has to continue on to inform us that we are such a nice couple, and have been through so much, and though there are kids in state custody, they have problems, so we really just deserve a baby, and there is an agency in town that does place babies.
Apparently nice "deserving" people should get babies, and other, less deserving people have to settle for used kids and fabric seats in their cars.

Back to the drawing board

I am so lost right now. I always have a game plan, and a back-up plan, and a sense of where I am ultimately headed, but not right now.
I woke up several weeks ago with something that I lost a few years ago: a biological drive. I literally woke up, and stayed in bed for the first time in years thinking "I wonder what a daughter would look like? I REALLY want to know. I think I should try to get the hypothetical daughter here". And there it was - the urgency to try again. And again and again if necessary. Without warning I have morphed into the genetically desperate woman I never thought I would be.
So a few obstacles still stand in my way, such as same bad eggs, poor embryos, sticky ovary, and ultimately, where to get the moola.
Two months after my IVF a money-back program was instituted. Hindsight can make you crazy. Basically if I had waited until after April, I could have been in the money back program, and though I still would have likely endured a BFN, I would have about a $9000 refund to wipe my tears. I don't like people who say money doesn't matter (in this case my husband who I proceeded to lecture on the economics of having a baby.) Yes, fools of the world, money actually does matter a lot. Because guess what? If you blow it all on a poor attempt - you have nothing to spend on a second attempt. I was a lot more eloquent and passionate and crabby, but everyone gets the gist. Can money buy you happiness - not exactly, but I have yet to figure out a free way to bring humans into this world, and until that happens, I will care a lot about the $$. If you disagree with me, please put your money where you mouth is. I will send you my address.
So back to the drawing board for me. I have had a consultation with a couple other clinics and doctors in my area, I have applied for the money back program and was denied, (now I have a black mark in my history), I have been checking out foreign travel options, and other spots in the US. Nothing feels good. It's all very costly and no one option is a clear winner. I wonder if I am just running away from the good feeling I had about fostering due to my fear of fostering.