Monday, May 28, 2012

Lifelines - A Tribute

Since I began writing about my struggles and my observations born out of this experience, I have wanted to take a moment to properly thank the angels in my life who have supported me through it all - those people who held me up when all I wanted to do was collapse, curl up in a ball and shut out the entire world.  But it is truly harder than I ever imagined putting into words the gratitude I feel in my heart.

We have been relatively open with our close friends and family from the beginning of our journey.  And so the support has mirrored each progressive step and setback.  At first I didn't think much of it - friends and family are naturally going to take an interest in such a life event, right? But the more I think about it, the more I realize and appreciate what a miraculous and uncommon thing it is for a cousin to check in, unsolicited, because of genuine interest in the latest update; or to be able to turn to a co-worker for a shoulder to cry on (after having already covered for you for weeks of acupuncture and ultrasound appointments); or to have parents who will drop everything just so you won't have to be alone after receiving the worst news of your life.

I believe it is human nature to take for granted the so-called "support system" when one really hasn't had it all too hard in life.  I did. But I also KNOW that I would have crumbled, melted, fallen irreparably apart these past couple months without the insulation these people created for me.  I've said it before, and perhaps it's getting old, but this has been the darkest, most incomprehensible time of my life.  But it has also been one of the most valuable - I have learned so much about myself (Body, Mind, Soul) and my husband and this incredible gift called marriage, but also about how remarkably good people are. I look back through Facebook and text messages, and I'm brought to tears by the words and in-between sentiments words can't quite handle.  I realize I have been lucky even in my un-luck.

To my amazing friends - thank you for taking a genuine interest in my personal life - for not asking how things are going simply because it's what you're "supposed" to do.  Thank you for letting me vent, for letting me go into those "TMI" details, for understanding my need to find space for the magnitude of my grief even when I could not.

To my co-workers - see above paragraph - and thank you for being my back-up, for your flexibility in allowing me the flexibility to do what I've needed to do for myself at each step. Thank you for assuring me it's OK if I need to leave early for one of my seemingly endless appointments and that I shouldn't feel guilty for the mental health day to refocus following my personal tragedy.  Thank you for reminding me that this support continues into the next chapter, wherever that may take us.

To my family - thank you for your tact; thank you for reaching out; thank you for your encouragement and love.

To my parents - thank you for knowing how and when I needed you (as you ever have), for reminding me of the kind of parent I am striving to become, for reminding me that I am still your child no matter how adult my problems may be and that I will always need my mom and dad.

To my husband - I could go on and on about having a partner who shares this burden, these frustrations, this mix of grief and hope - but some things are even too sacred for a blog.  You know my heart, and that is just between us.
It is not enough - words and promises can never be for what you all have given - but you have my love and my assurance to be the co-worker, distant relative, friend, daughter, sister or wife you all deserve.  And you have my promise that when our sorrow turns to joy, you will be the first people to share that with us too.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Forays in Alternative Medicine

I’m not one to shy away from new experiences.  I’ve lived in Europe and I’ve been skydiving – twice. And all of my recent experience has been nothing if not foreign waters for me. Not that I would have chosen this, but it is what it is and I’ve certainly learned from it.  What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right? And amid all the negativity, I’ve found several silver linings (don’t worry, I’ve got plenty more clichés in the wings) – alternative medicine being one of those.

When my OB/GYN laid it straight that she could do nothing more for me, and it was time to consider options in the fertility-specialist realm (i.e. aggressive treatment insurance companies consider elective – another topic for another day), my husband and I made a conscious decision to jump in, come what may.  Shortly before that, I had already decided we needed a new approach anyway.

All of this drove me to the magical land of Google, and I stumbled upon the website for Blossom Clinic (shameless plug alert).  Blossom is a little, soothing oasis above a Whole Foods in North Portland.  I had already heard good things about acupuncture, and Blossom’s website emphasized a focus on infertility and women’s health.  To top it off, the testimonials and the owner’s personal story spoke deeply to me of a place that just might turn out to be a perfect fit. I thought, “What the heck – I’ll try anything at this point.”  Well, I’m hooked.

I cannot say definitively that acupuncture is why I conceived, as I simultaneously underwent the hormone treatment through Oregon Fertility Institute (another enthusiastic plug).  I do know acupuncture treatment definitely helped my work through the side- and after-effects of the miscarriage. And here is what I know absolutely – I’ve unquestioningly benefited spiritually and mentally from acupuncture at Blossom Clinic.  And I believe that is a BIG part of this battle. My acupuncturist is more than just the person who sticks a bunch of needles in me every week - she's become a sort of therapist, an objective confidant who lets me vent whatever I am feeling on a given day. To simply take an hour each week just for me – to focus inwardly and process whatever energies happen to be surrounding and permeating me on that day, and then to have those energies corrected through a centuries-old practice, is an incredibly healing experience.  The science of it is all a little over my head, but it feels right.

And Blossom has been more than just acupuncture to me (they offer a number of holistic services).  It’s been a new way of looking at and thinking about my condition.  Treatments I would never have considered. In addition to the weekly acupuncture, I’ve had several consultations with a naturopathic doctor who focuses on hormonal conditions – pretty much exactly what I needed.  In talking to her, I learned basically that my metabolism is broken – it’s not like everyone else’s – and as a result, it inhibits normal hormone balances in my body thereby affecting my ability to normally ovulate, the heart of my infertility.  I’ve heard time and again that a “healthy” weight exponentially increases a woman’s ability to conceive, but I’ve never read or heard a reasonable explanation for this or anything more than blanket, generic tips on how to accomplish that goal.  Helpful, right?

Now, I’ve been overweight most of my life.  This was the first time any medical professional has told me it’s essentially beyond my control – it’s not my fault.  What a weight (no pun intended) off my mind and shoulders.  What a liberating thought. “No, Weight Watchers and other low-fat, low-calorie programs will not work for you long term.  (Might explain why I so easily regained the 40 pounds I’d lost struggling through Weight Watchers.) You should be eating a high-protein, high-saturated-fat diet – want a snack, eat some bacon. (Huh?) And no sugar – not even fruit.”  But wait, that’s not what popular health science has been broadcasting to the world and beating over our heads through endless ads and Oprah spin-offs for years…Thus began the diet overhaul.  And in the first two weeks, I lost about 10 pounds.  I went on hiatus since becoming pregnant, followed by two weeks of self-indulgence after my miscarriage.  But I’m beginning to get back on track, and I’m excited to see the effect – both on my weight and fertility – with a good 2+ months behind me before starting hormone injections again.

All of this is to illustrate again how my life has been turned upside down in a few months’ time, but I am now a strong believer in looking at a medical problem in a holistic way. And I am beyond grateful for the team of practitioners who have helped guide me on this journey so far – my OB/GYN and fertility doctor, but also my acupuncturist and naturopath. What a gift to have compassionate and talented women like these working to support women like me. To the skeptics, I say keep an open mind if you can. You never know what might change your perceptions and your life.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hindsight is 20/20

At 18 years old, it’s hard to envision the You of 8 to 10 years down the road.  It’s even harder to put your mind into that place where you are married, (settled down, as it were) and ready to start a family.  At 18 years old, you’re definitely thinking about the future – college, career – but “future” at 18 doesn’t go much past that.

What I knew at 18, though, might have saved me a lot of struggle and heartache at 28.  Looking back over the course of my own post-pubescent physical development, it’s obvious to me that I have, in all likelihood, been suffering with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) since puberty, at least.  Here is what I KNEW at 18:  I had been overweight my whole life; I had way more facial hair than a girl should have, even a girl of Eastern European descent; and I did not have regular menstrual cycles.  Now, the first two symptoms were pretty devastating to the teenage me.  Kids are bullied for a single physical anomaly enough, but to have two hard-to-hide blemishes?  Let’s just say I faced my share of teasing.  So needless to say, missing a couple periods here and there was not foremost in my mind. 

I distinctly remember the conversation I had with my mom when I did first bring up my erratic cycles.  I remember her telling me that I should go see our doctor to make sure there wasn’t anything seriously wrong because, while it seemed like just an inconvenience now, someday I might want children, and what if whatever was wrong with me affected my ability to do so?  Kids, listen to your mothers. 

So I did go to the doctor, and she did a routine “female” exam and tested my hormone levels, but didn’t find anything alarming – my testosterone was very slightly elevated (hint, hint).  She hypothesized that I might have PCOS, and put me on birth control.  No further examination needed.  Case closed in my mind and hers.  On the surface, I can see that this seems like a very rational and medically sound plan for an 18-year-old girl.  But from where I sit today, it seems like a very short-sighted plan. Obviously, it was not that doctor’s obligation to assume the 10-year plan of an indignant teenager might include children and counsel me accordingly. But, oh, how I wish she had, at that point in time, had the foresight of my mother.  How I wish any doctor I’d seen prior to my fertility specialist possessed that precaution.  My current primary care provider simply counseled me to lose weight – try Weight Watchers, a lot of people find it successful.  My OB/GYN took more specific steps, but I didn’t have my first ultrasound until I started seeing a fertility specialist, despite that being the clearest method for definitively determining if one has PCOS.  And no one told me how to address the root metabolic issues surrounding PCOS until I consulted with a naturopathic doctor at my acupuncture clinic (details to come later on the marvels of alternative medicine).

I want to be clear about this:  I do not blame these doctors for not thinking for me.  That is not their responsibility. While it is very easy to start down that road, it is not fair and it is not reality. But here is what I urge all physicians, and parents for that matter, of young girls: Try to think long-term for these girls because they most likely cannot do it for themselves.  It is simply a function of being a teenager – we’ve all been in that self-absorbed and near-sighted state. 

And here is the conundrum that goes around and around in my head today: if I had gotten some kind of counseling or caution, would I have taken it seriously?  Sure, I brushed off my mom thinking how I didn’t really want kids anyway.  Would I have been different if I had gotten the same advice from a medical professional? Would I have researched PCOS or taken steps to address it?  Probably not.  But who’s to say there isn’t a girl out there who would, given the right nudge?  If my experiences can be a cautionary tale for even one eventual mother-to-be, I would be satisfied. 

So, with all of that out of my head and onto the page, here’s the low-down on PCOS.  Here are the signs women of child-bearing age and parents of daughters of child-bearing age should consider.  PLEASE take these signs seriously.  Even beyond fertility, it is essential to know as soon as possible if you have PCOS – one of the common long-term effects of the condition is Type 2 diabetes later in life.
  • Obesity/overweight and/or the difficulty to lose weight on traditional diets (that’s like 50% of the population, I know.)
  • Excessive body hair, especially around the face and neck
  • Irregular and missed menstrual cycles – for me, I’m lucky if I naturally have more than 4 periods a year, and these have no rhyme or reason.  Also, prolonged periods can also be a sign of anovulation.
  • Acne
If you are or you know someone with some of these signs, seek medical advice now, before you get to the point of trying to have a child.  If nothing else, you won’t be stonewalled when it simply isn’t happening.  And ideally, you will learn a great deal about your body and you will learn how you can fight the condition ahead of time.  Just in case. It may be just an inconvenience now, but it could be the source of a great deal of anguish and expense later.  And I ‘m not talking about just money.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

This is a tough one for me. Six weeks ago, I was very much looking forward to May 13, planning to fudge the rules just a bit (because I was pregnant and who's going to tell a pregnant woman no?) and taking part in my special Mothers-To-Be Day alongside my own wonderful mother and beautiful friends celebrating their very first and most special Mother’s Day.

I’ve risen out of the dark place that surrounded me just a couple weeks ago. But I know my wound is still fresh. I know this because, despite my indifference to the empty, opportunistic advertising with which our TVs and radios and “Current Resident” mailers have been inundating us, I cried a couple days ago for the first time since emerging from that dark place. In response to an ad that snuck up and knocked the wind (strength) out of me. 
I don’t even know what the product or company was – Gerber, Huggies, something of the like – but it presented pairs of beautiful infants and their glowing young mothers interacting in the simplest routines – a fresh diaper, bath time, tiny toes receiving butterfly kisses. Those small moments in which an eternal bond is forged. And in that thirty-second interruption, I was reminded of the excitement I had felt just a little while ago at the thought of being able to participate in Mother’s Day not just as a daughter this year, but as an expectant mother anticipating all of those moments that lay ahead. It reminded me that I still feel that hole in my heart. It did what any good ad is meant to do – it made me long for the product it was selling. Some Don Draper somewhere did his job all too well and probably doesn’t even have a clue.

I had an epiphany a few months ago that sums up my entire (in)fertility odyssey – I am a childless mother. A simple idea riddled with complexities only the infertile can understand. I know there are thousands of us going through this paradox. And I know we have all felt very helpless and alone, with each repeated disappointment not knowing if we can survive the next one to come our way. I know there are good days and there are bad days, and then there are bad days when we feel guilty for considering them bad.

Which is where I stand now: guilty for losing the joy of a very important day – a day when all children can take time to be as grateful to their mothers as they should be year-round. To love and pamper the woman who has given more of herself to her children than to herself and asks nothing in return but the wonder of motherhood and all that implies. But here’s the other side: it is, in great part, because of my amazing mother that I so want the chance to be in her shoes one day, why it hurts so bad not to be able to grow, nurture and support my own child the way she has me, and why I am all the more appreciative of a chance to honor my mom and all the moms like her. All of the moms who know what a gift they have and who have taken that responsibility seriously.

But while I deal with the confusion of emotions Mother’s Day evokes for me, I am overcome with delight for my sweet friends who will be celebrating their first Mother’s Day tomorrow (you know who you are). I see the happiness and unbridled love your new little people bring to your lives. And I see the comfort and love you, as their mothers, bring to those instantly trusting, miraculous tiny humans. Please know I share your joy – I do – and I celebrate you.

And so I say Happy Mother’s Day to all of the very deserving, loving, giving mothers out there, especially those in my own life. But I also say Happy Mother’s Day to all the other mothers, who I know are feeling this same bittersweetness in their own hearts – those mothers still waiting for their children.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

17, 18, 19+ Kids and Counting and Other Travesties Brought to You by TLC

And to wrap-up my trilogy of exasperation, what is with the Duggars? 

Actually, what has happened to The “Learning” Channel? Now known as TLC because its previous name would be deceptive, TLC lays out for its viewers the whole human experience in weekly installments and endless reruns: weddings of the designer-dress, polygamist or gypsy variety; toddlers prancing around while their horrifying repressed mothers vicariously live out their beauty-pageant fantasies; various lifestyle anomalies from hoarding to weird addictions and sexual tastes; death experienced through the eyes of the Long-Island Medium. Oh, and also cupcakes and bakers with mafia undertones. Oye.

And, of course, babies – and babies, and more babies. A Baby Story, Make Room for Multiples, Baby’s First Day, Pregnant at 70 (think about THAT one for a minute) – these are a few of your viewing options. But the fan favorite seems to be 19 Kids and Counting. I admit I have watched about an episode and a half of 19 Kids and Counting. Maybe it was only 18 Kids at that time. And I admit that’s about all I’ve watched of it, so maybe my perspective is limited. But at what point do you say, “OK, I think my family’s big enough now.  My oldest grandchild is younger than my youngest child and I’m pregnant at the same time as my daughter (maybe it’s daughter-in-law). Maybe this isn’t the healthiest situation for my children.” I feel like I’m beating a dead horse, but the same resentments creep in as when I think about the Octomom. She actually has FEWER children than Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar. 

While it seems the Duggars do provide their children with a loving and nurturing home (no bitterness there), I can’t help wonder if part of this ever-expanding family is driven by the TLC spotlight. At some point, don’t those children start to feel like just a number, adding up to little more than justification for greenlighting another season? I just don’t understand why someone deserves a television show simply for their ability to procreate.  What does that say about those of us who can’t do that? Maybe nothing. Maybe everything. What is the “learning” to be done here? I’m honestly curious – can anyone clue me in – do the Duggars have a platform, a cause they champion in exchange for their celebrity?  They seem like the kind of people who might.  I could respect them a lot more for that.

With as much as I find wrong with the family itself, it is TLC that is really the villain here. Can the channel formerly focused on learning redeem itself? Looking at TLC’s website, I am surprised to see listed in their programming “A Conception Story,” dedicated to following the journeys of several couples with varying circumstances as they try to have a baby.  Highlighting infertility and conception options seems to be a part of this. Kudos TLC. This is what I’m talking about – let’s show the other, less-explored side of creating a family. Maybe this show will help lift infertility out of the shadows. While we’re at it, let’s throw in “An Adoption Story.”

Oh wait, turns out this is just a web series. That precious TV space remains reserved for those tiara-attired toddlers, gypsy brides, and THREE shows featuring the Cake Boss. Does anyone else miss the days of Trading Spaces?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Today's "Trending Article" on Facebook: Jessica Simpson Gives Birth

And now for Part 2.

Jessica Simpson. Jessica Alba. Mariah Carey. Beyoncé. Snooki (*shudder*). Every time I look at MSN or turn on Good Morning America or check out at Fred Meyer, it seems another celebrity has been sighted displaying a baby bump or is on the verge of giving birth…as America holds its collective breath in feverish anticipation.  Maybe we just can’t wait to hear what life-scarring, idiotic name with which given celebrity will curse their child. 

Why is America obsessed with celebrity pregnancy? OK, maybe that’s not fair – why are the American MEDIA and some Americans obsessed with celebrity pregnancy? (I have faith that many of my fellow countrymen and women have better things to do.) But how trivial and demeaning on so many levels.  It may seem petty, but this phenomenon, which only seems to be growing, really gets under my skin.  It’s another example of the decline of the American media.  When I see multiple magazine covers in one check-out line with headlines speculating when William and Kate will conceive (my God, it’s already been a whole year since they were married?), I know there’s something wrong.  Also, I bet I don’t have to tell you who William and Kate are – there’s definitely something wrong.

Would I be so bothered if I had not had to struggle so much to have a child of my own? Perhaps not.  It is another reminder – ever-present it seems – that one more subpopulation is flourishing and can have what I have so far been denied.  The infertile couple suffers in silence while the world gushes over Surie Cruise and Apple (Paltrow) Martin.  I shouldn’t know these names!

Now, on the subject of celebrity adoption, I have mixed feelings.  On the one hand, I do believe there is a legitimate humanitarian effort going on here, even if it’s actually a side-effect of attention seeking.  And it’s made adoption chic – acceptable and admirable on another level.  But the average American couple cannot expect the same red carpet treatment as Madonna or the Jolie-Pitt crew.  And I worry that as popular as these people have made international adoption, domestic adoption may suffer for it. Regardless, I do admire and commend ANY couple who takes a child in need into their family, home and hearts.

Given our situation, Jeff and I have very seriously considered the many sides of adoption.  We feel very strongly that it is something in our future as a family, no matter what happens after our next and last round of fertility treatment – whether it happens sooner or later remains to be seen.  Check back in a few months.

But I’m straying from the topic at hand.  Here’s the thing – celebrities get paid thousands of dollars – HUNDREDS of thousands – for pictures of their babies. B- and C-list reality TV stars are legitimized with the hits received online or the sales of these magazines featuring bundles of joy.  Food for thought:  It nauseates me to think of the symbiotic perversion of celebrities using their children to make money – money they don’t need, by the way – and the entertainment media who drool over the prestige of being the first to publish the photos. Will someone please stop the madness?

I know it’s probably fruitless to try and analyze and rationalize the feeding frenzy that occurs if an actress or female pop star has an unflattering photo that could possibly hint at pregnancy.  I suppose the bottom line for me is we could be focusing on the miracles of everyday women, or giving a voice to infertility.  Does anyone know off hand of any celebrity woman who’s struggled to get pregnant?  Who’s faced miscarriage? What about her courage and potential to inspire or reinforce the strength of those of us without a public platform?  Now that’s a headline at which I wouldn’t cringe.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Random Thought of the Day

Watching sea lions bob up and down on the current, gently riding the waves to the ocean, reminds me just how little control we tiny humans have.  A thought that should be unsettling, but instead gives me perspective and peace of mind. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

And now, a word about Nadya Suleman

I intend to discuss my thoughts on the American pop culture obsession with celebrity pregnancies at another time.  But consider this post the first installment of a three-part series I like to think of as “Cheapening the Miracle of Life – What Are We Becoming?”

I was disgusted, as I’m sure many Americans were, when I first heard about the now infamous Nadya “Octomom” Suleman giving birth to eight babies…using in vitro fertilization…after already having six children.  Where do you even begin?

This scenario conjures up, among other things, questions on the ethics of fertility treatment – who is this genius doctor who allowed her to a) go through with in vitro despite already having what most people consider a large family, and b) implanting so many eggs (he implanted 12, folks)?  Talk about giving a bad name to in vitro and to the millions of doctors who genuinely help childless couples. It also makes you wonder what Suleman’s true motives were here…she was in debt – did she think the notoriety she gained would secure her financial situation so she could take care of her family, or was she simply greedy and fame-hungry? Perhaps she has a mental illness – can one be addicted to having children (a word about ___ Kids and Counting in another post)? 

These questions can go on and on, but underlying them all I can’t help think that Suleman’s situation is, more than anything, a slap in the face to the millions of women facing infertility who ask nothing more than the tiniest bit of luck in conceiving and giving birth to one miracle child. 

Also, that bitterness I talked about in my last post?  Here’s what I mean.  In a 2011 interview with In Touch (and captured on audio tape, no less), Suleman stated, “I hate babies, they disgust me…Obviously, I love them – but I absolutely wish I had not had them.” Now, take the source material for what you will, and who knows what the full context is here, but if this is a true sentiment…holy hell, let me adopt a couple of her poor children.
And now, in other news, three years down the road and after learning Suleman accepts public assistance for her family of 14, is about $1 million in debt, has already posed topless and touted animal spaying and neutering (the very definition of irony) for money, we hear the latest coming from the Octomom: she’s filing for bankruptcy and is “not opposed” to appearing in an adult film.  But only if there’s no touching involved.  Given her previous experience, maybe she thinks she’ll get pregnant again. 

Also, just a side note – she was unemployed and living with her mother, already in debt, when she started this last round of IVF treatment.  Who paid for this? My husband and I have emptied our savings accounts and lived considerably scaled-back lives just to afford the first round of our treatment, which is about half the cost of IVF, by the way.  And now we’re saving up for the second-coming of the Great Savings Account Drain because our insurance will not pay a dime of our fertility treatment.  

It really boggles the mind.  One of the strongest feelings we have experienced as a couple dealing with infertility is the overwhelming sense of unfairness. How can someone dubbed “Octomom” be given the gift of parenthood when we, who genuinely have the tools and the drive to provide a healthy and wholesome home to a child, have been denied this? This may be an extreme example, but it is an example of the ever-present reminder from the American pop culture machine of this injustice. 

And to top it all off, Suleman is a media outlet’s dream come true – maybe not celebrated, per se, but certainly, infamously, a curiosity that feeds off its own quest to extend those precious 15 minutes.  So the more attention she craves, the more she slides from her previously stated moral convictions (won’t take public assistance, won’t do porn), the more the media eats it all up and gives her that notoriety, essentially validating her actions.  And we’re not just talking about here – first news article to pop up after a Google search of “octomom”?  Forbes magazine.  Sigh…

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Diving In

Do pregnant women have a sixth sense, a more in-tuned internal barometer? I’m sitting here looking at a note from a fortune cookie I ate about six weeks ago: “The coming months shall bring winds of change in your life.” I distinctly remember how my heart sank for the briefest moment when I first read that – I knew I should not have kept it then.  It seemed to cancel out the other fortune I’ve had taped to my computer monitor for the past year or so: “Something wonderful is about to happen to you.”

I held on to the latter thinking eventually it would be true – of course, in my mind the only thing that would qualify as “wonderful” would be my child firmly planted and growing in my womb.  And on March 7, 2012, I received the news that finally gave credibility to that worn slip of paper I had clung to all those months.  That was one of the happiest days of my life.  So quickly followed by “winds of change” to bring me the greatest heartache of my life.

Why have I not written of this experience until now?  The nightmare began a month ago.  Well, now I believe my spirit is finally ready to accept and examine what my wounded heart wouldn’t let it these past weeks.   I realize now that the pressure to be in control and take responsibility for the creation of life is an impossible thing to grasp.  That is something I cannot take on.

I know now the tiny embryo that was so hard won was not meant to be the physical vessel to house my baby’s life and soul.  And I understand that I am a mother with a love deeper than can be expressed in words, and how my child comes to me matters not. I will continue fighting until that precious life is safe in my arms.

Words carry so much emotion and weight.  Fertility. Infertility. Pregnant. MISCARRIAGE. And in one moment, a word can become your reality – or all-consuming existence. And the funny thing is, life continues all around you even when you want nothing more than to command Time to stand still while you wrap your head around your new place in the world.  But you have to adapt – isn’t that what we humans do best?  You must learn to somehow slip back into that ever-moving world from whence you were so rudely dislodged and merge your new reality with that of the oblivious life around you.  Can you do it seamlessly? I know I did not.  Can anyone? I would say no, and I cry tears of empathy for the woman who feels she must do so or else face one more layer of failure.

Am I bitter?

Do you love and nurture your children? Do you give to them before thinking of yourself? Do you understand the gift you have been given and cherish it above all? I am not bitter.

For those who neglect, abuse, resent, discard and take for granted, you do not deserve the life that’s been placed in your hands.  I am bitter.

So what have I learned? It’s not a question I’ve coherently considered until this point.  I know these things have rattled around in my consciousness (and subconsciousness), but can I sort through them?
  • My husband longs for a child as deeply as I do, and it’s made me love him in a whole new way.  He is also my rock.
  • I am not alone – as many women as I know who have beautiful children and haven’t felt the sting – the crushing blow – of miscarriage, I know at least as many who have.  And I grieve with them.
  • I am an inspiration and symbol of strength to those around me.  This one truly blew me away.  
  • Life is a precious and fragile miracle – sure, we’ve heard it expressed countless times in countless ways, but how many of us really understand what that means?
  • Abortion is NOT comparable to miscarriage.  Especially miscarriage after the soul-sucking frustration of infertility.  I don’t care what your argument is – you will never convince me otherwise after what I have experienced these two long years.  To each her own – I have not stood in your shoes nor you in mine – but leave me in peace about this, and I’ll do the same for you.
  • I am strong but I am not unbreakable.  And once broken, I can be put back together again…and then broken again.  (Yes, humans are indeed adaptable.)
  • Having something I’ve wanted so desperately dangled in front of me and then ripped from my grasp is infuriating and humbling beyond all measure, but it has magnified and enriched the many amazing experiences, people and facets of my life all the more.  What I do not have has given me an appreciation and respect for what I do have that I can’t quite explain.
  • Words of comfort and support, while they may not seem very useful to the speaker, are much better spoken than held back.  Thank you my dear, dear friends.
  • It’s pointless to ask why. I was not meant to understand everything that happens to me.  There exist mysteries in life, and one of our greatest challenges as the curious, analytic beings we are is to just go with the flow.  Let it be.
  • Now on the other side, I still see beauty in the world.  I feared I would forever be disenchanted, but the darkness is lifting – slowly but steadily – and life will be fully illuminated once again.
  • This could happen again.  But if it does, I will have my definitive answer – a message so clear it might as well be screamed at me from all sides – there is a child out there who needs the love and devotion that only my husband and I can offer, and we will give that child – our child – a home and family, and that child will give us the greatest joy of our lives.
  • I will heal.
  • I will be happy again.
This is not the end.

Let's Start from the Beginning

Forrest Gump was wrong. Life is not like a box of chocolates.  Life is a roller coaster. 

I’ve frequently turned to the written word for therapy, to help me process an overwhelming experience or deal with overwhelming emotions, good or bad. But it has been a while, and that is ironic considering I’m going through the most overwhelming experience of my life.

But first, the down-and-dirty details.

If you know my husband or me well, you know what we’ve been going through lately.  We have been trying to have a baby for about two years now, but I have a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), a VERY common female infertility problem that can be tackled a number of ways.  Well, we’ve tried many of those ways, and at the beginning of this year we broke down and started seeing a fertility specialist. I also have been undergoing regular acupuncture treatment and met with a naturopathic doctor to overhaul my diet in relation to my condition.

After completing a round of treatment involving daily hormone injections and artificial insemination, I got pregnant.  But it was not meant to be.  The embryo stopped developing at 5 ½ weeks, and I recently miscarried.

This blog is my therapy.  It is extremely personal and could be too much information in some cases for some (you are forewarned), but it is my outlet.  And it is also my hope that if there is someone else out there going through something similar, it can be a reminder that you are not alone no matter how isolated you feel.  Believe me, I’ve been there.