Saturday, December 8, 2012

You're kidding! Medical clown increases pregnancy rates with IVF

A study of 229 Israeli women undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to treat infertility found that a 15-minute visit from a trained “medical clown” immediately after the embryos were placed in the womb increased the chance of pregnancy to 36%, compared with 20% for women whose embryo transfer was comedy-free.

Read more by clicking here. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Why does it hurt so much?

I found this online article and really related to what it was saying and how it explained the loss that infertility creates. I am speaking again when I return home to South Florida and am in the midst of IVF #5. I am therefore busy "thinking" about infertility again. Hope this article ministers to you.

Study by Sandra Glahn

A couple sat to eat lunch with me after I had spoken at an infertility symposium. As we began to talk, I asked the wife, “When you grieve over your infertility, what is your greatest loss?”

She didn’t have to think about her answer. “It’s the loss of a dream; my heart’s desire is to have my husband’s child and raise it together.”

I turned to the husband and addressed him. “And you?”

He looked at her, then back at me. After hesitating a moment, he spoke to her gently, and stroked her arm, “Don’t take this wrong, honey, but…” Then he looked at me. “It’s the loss of my wife—she is not the same woman I married. Infertility is really taking a toll on us.”

“You’re normal,” I assured them. After enduring a decade of infertility treatment that included multiple pregnancy losses, three failed adoptions, and an ectopic pregnancy, my husband and I had talked to numerous couples. And I recognized their stress, which—though different in each couple’s case—was still a normal response to an abnormal experience.

Infertility is hard stuff. In fact, “The depression and anxiety experienced by infertile women are equivalent to that in women suffering from a terminal illness,” says Alice Domar, Ph.D., director of the Mind/Body Center for Women’s Health in Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School .

Why is it so difficult? We’re not talking about buying a new living room set here. We’re talking about having a child—someone who will throw her arms around you, even throw up on you. The idea of conceiving child as the product of two people’s love is a precious dream, and a deep longing. Thus, what a comfort it often is for couples to discover Proverbs 30:16, which tells us that a “barren womb” is among four things on earth that are never satisfied. The intense desire to have children is part of the way God structured the world. The drive, the longing, that “unsatisfied” feeling—these are part of the design.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Love Compels

No matter how far away I feel from my years of infertility, videos like this one featuring my online friend Stacy who is in this video, choke me up every time.

I have been having a rough time emotionally lately. I imagine it is mostly (those darned) hormones. Thinking about going home for Christmas. Going back to Minnesota. Doing IVF again. Struggling a bit. A bit down. Not sure I am ready to be "waiting" again.

For those of you waiting for children or a spouse or a salvation or deliverance, cling to God. He's present. He never changes. He loves you.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Guest Blogger: IVF Boosters

I have been having more and more people contact me. They want to know if they can write a guest post for my blog. The answer is, yes you can. I welcome guest contributors. You can email me at wendi@wendikitsteiner.com with your story of choice and a photo of yourself. Any topic that does not contradict my personal convictions is welcome.
 
The following post is by Catie Keeler. I do not know Catie personally but she contacted me to see if I would welcome a post dealing with ways to improve IVF success rates. Sounded great to me! 
 
While I believe that no matter what you do, infertility treatments may not work for you ... or despite everything you don't do, they do work, I never think it hurts to be thinking of how to be as healthy as possible before you begin a treatment cycle. I personally used acupuncture with one of my cycles and found it very helpful -- even though the result was not in our favor. Lowering stress and eating well are never bad things, even if they don't produce the desired outcome.
 
I am including this article now because JB and I are actually preparing to return for our embryos in December. I am not emotionally ready to write more about this yet ... but stay tuned. I am definitely beginning to think about the things I actually can control and do to keep myself at my healthiest as we prepare to give these little babies a chance at life. Hard to believe it has been nearly five years since our fourth failed IVF attempt. Even harder to believe we are going to do it again.
 
Natural Ways to Enhance the Success of IVF
In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is often the measure of last resort for women struggling to get pregnant naturally, many times offering the last chance to have a baby of their own. It is also an involved process that is very expensive and doesn't offer any guarantee of success.
 
The process is already emotionally fraught, and the chance of failure can make it even harder. Fortunately, there are some natural ways to help improve the chances of success. Though there are never any guarantees, these natural methods may be able to help improve your odds with IVF:
 
Reduce Dietary Toxins: Common dietary toxins like alcohol, caffeine, food preservatives and additives, and xenoestrogens (estrogens found in plants and chemicals) can disrupt hormonal balance and make it more difficult for you to conceive. Reducing or eliminating these toxins from your diet may improve your chances of becoming pregnant.
 
Reduce Stress: Stress from your job, your relationship, your financial status, and even your attempts to become pregnant can also disrupt your hormonal balance and make it more difficult for you to become pregnant. Undergoing IVF often adds to your stress levels, making it more difficult to find ways to relax. However, activities such as meditation, acupuncture, or even just spending time with family and friends can help you counteract that stress and heal your body.
 
Exercise More: Exercise not only helps to reduce stress, but it also helps to increase "feel  good" hormones that improve mood and wellness. Exercise also helps to strengthen your body and improve circulation, helping to enhance the overall functioning of all the systems in your body. All of these benefits enhance your fertility, making your chances of conception through IVF better.
 
Sleep More: You need at least 8 or 9 hours of sleep each night in order for your body to rest and restore itself. Lack of sleep contributes to increased stress levels and an overall reduction in your body's efficiency. Many of your internal systems begin to break down, including digestion, metabolism, and fertility. Making sure you are getting at least the minimum amount of sleep each night -- and more if you need it -- can improve your chances of conception.
 
Increase Healthy Eating: Not only should you be eliminating harmful substances from your diet, but you should also be increasing the healthy foods and nutrients included in your diet. Ensuring that you get the right vitamins and nutrients in your diet -- such as B vitamins, magnesium, and others -- can help you to improve your fertility. Though there are many supplements you can take to ensure you are consuming enough of the vitamins most closely tied to fertility, simply eating a healthy diet that is loaded with fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains will be enough to improve your health and your fertility.
 

When you are grappling with infertility, it may seem like nothing you do can make a difference. You may have struggled for years, and IVF is your last chance at having a baby yourself. However, following these tips may be able to improve your fertility and increase your chances of success.
Catie Keeler is the primary researcher and writer for mortgagerates.info. Her most recent accomplishments include graduating from the University of North Carolina in Chapel with a degree in business and communications. Her currect for for the site involves: jumbo mortgage rates and mortgage rates florida.



Friday, October 5, 2012

Headed to Germamy (and the reason why)

Connie's arrival could not have come at a more perfect time. I am going to be taking the rotator, with Abigail, to Ramstein Germany very soon. (As always, I don't give exact dates on my blog.) I will actually be going back to Landstuhl hospital, where I had Abigail over a year ago, to get a specialized ultrasound done that they do not do on the island.

The reason: IVF #5.

I wasn't sure I was going to write about this on my blog. But I guess I am. I just decided to about four seconds ago. It's on my mind. And when something is on my mind, I write about it. Avoiding writing about what is on my mind is almost painful to me. I think that's why my blog is so honest (and sometimes vulnerable.) I have to say what is there.

And right now, what is there is IVF.

IVF. Again. Our fifth try with IVF to be exact. We are going back for our embryos in December.

So to answer the questions I can picture floating around on the back of your tongue.

Why now? Well why not. When is it a good time? No time like the present. In short, I am 35. Not getting any younger. We don't like having them "in limbo." So we decided to go for it. In the end, we just feel the Lord saying, "GO!" and so we shall go.

Will it work this time? No idea. No one can know. No one can know whether my issue, previously, was something related to our embryos or whether it was something within my body that has now corrected itself. In speaking with Dr. Coddington, who was my doctor for most of my infertility journey and who is still at Mayo, my embryos look "excellent." This was confusing to me because I had been under the impression, previously, that they were not very good. But he said he is not sure where I got that information from. That he feels that they look great. He felt confident that our chances of this working were as good as anyone's and there was no telling whether our previous failures would be repeated.

Can you deliver on the island? No. Just like Turkey. I'd have to leave the island for delivery. Not something I enjoyed the first time. Not something I'd want to do the second time. But who even knows if I'll get to that point.

Are you actually ready to add another child to your brood? No. Not really if I am honest. I had three kids three and under. Now I have three kids four and under. I don't feel quite ready. But we have Connie here. I am 35 (which is considered 'advanced maternal age.') We are fully committed to those embryos. We feel we must not forget about them. We are following the Lord's leading.

How many embryos will you transfer? The answer is: 2. Protocol has changed since I went in for my first four IVF's, the last of which was in the summer of 2007. They will dethaw all 7 of our remaining embryos and attempt to get them to grow further outside of my womb but in the lab. Some may die. Some may live. But these embryos, because they are fully developed, have a better life expectancy inside the womb. So Dr. Coddington recommended transferring no more than 2. Not 3 like I did during our last try with IVF. So two I will do. Any embryos past the number 2, can be refrozen for another try at a later date.

How do you feel? Am I nervous? Yes. But this time, not so much about it not working but about the memories. Going back to that clinic. Going back in that ultrasound room. In the operating room. Blood work. Ultrasounds. I'm not really afraid this time of it working or not working. We have three children, and if this is all the family I have, it's a great amount of family for me. But I just don't want to think about that dark place I was in for five years. I don't want to remember all the tears.

In infertility circles, a negative is referred to as BFN "big fat negative." I started thinking about what our infertility entailed and the best I could come up with was:
  1. 8 months trying before seeing doctors due to no ovulation -- BFN x 8 (although these didn't result in a phone call to be told the cold, hard facts.)
  2. 3 failed attempts to ovulate on clomid -- BFN x 3
  3. 2 negative IUIs (artificial inseminations) -- BFN x 2
  4. 2 cancelled IUI's -- BFN x 2
  5. 1 year on metformin but no other treatments (ovulated twice) -- BFN x 2
  6. 1 cancelled IUI/permitted to try on our own -- BFN x 1
  7. 4 IVF transfers -- BFN x 4
So that equals 22 times total ... 14 times that we had to have someone call us and tell us (or we found out ourselves) that things did not work. I also thought I would try to estimate how many pills, shots, and doctors appointments this was but quite honestly, I do not even know how to begin to calculate those numbers. I'll just say that from the best I can estimate, I have probably had upwards of one hundred internal ultrasounds. But that is such a crazy guess. I have no earthly idea.

But it's time. We've been on the phone with Mayo quite a bit in the last two weeks getting all the details established. There's lots to figure out. For now I know that I have to get some fancy ultrasound done before I go, and they don't do it on the island. So to Germany I go. I will take Abigail and leave the boys here simply to split up some of the love (aka "responsibility") a bit. I know I will get to see and stay with Shane & Linda (and their doggie Bonnie) in Germany. What a gift that will be.

We are currently planning on doing the transfer this winter. The military gives any family who does "two continuous overseas assignments" (in our case Turkey and now the Azores) up to 30 days of paid time off. They pay to fly us back to our "home of record" and they allow JB to use his vacation days to go.

So we will fly to South Florida as a family, spend a week, and then JB and I will leave the kids with family in South Florida and go to Rochester, Minnesota for the trasnfer (and get to see old friends like Ron & Ebby, Dave & Lesley, and Jake & Rana), and then we will return to South Florida to spend Christmas before flying back to the island.

I will keep you posted ... of course. Mostly I ask you just to pray for my emotional well-being during this journey. Again, not for the result, but just for the memories of a darker time that I have no choice but to revisit.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Infertility & Media

"I had tried and failed and failed," she said. "Every woman who has been through all those ups and downs knows the depression that comes with it. So the way it just happened with Sunday was like, 'What?' The percentages were so low. It is the miracle in my life." -- Nicole Kidman


Sunday, September 23, 2012

On Infertile ground

"Odds are you know someone suffering from infertility, and odds are, they haven't told you. Help break the silence."

I sat and watched this video on infertility and cried. C.S. John, the Producer of an independent documentary about infertility, contacted me and asked if I'd watch the video. If I liked it, would I blog about it.

I did more than that. I made a contribution and gave him my total support. You can watch the trailer for the intended movie by clicking here. I encourage you to watch the video yourself. It was incredibly moving, and I found myself instantly returned to the dark place I spent five years wading through.

I find myself unworthy of the three beautiful miracles that are now apart of my life. Despite the fact that I am no longer treading the murkiness of infertility, those of you who read my blog know that I plan to make infertility and adoption a part of my life for every breath I have remaining.

I encourage you to join or like their facebook page by clicking here.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

To my Grieving Friend

I am so sorry. I have not experienced the exact pain you are currently living through. I can't say, "I understand." But I do know pain. I know how it feels to watch everyone else living a life that you can only dream of. And I know right now life has dealt you a really stinky hand. You feel that life is unfair. You never saw it going this way. You had other plans. You think about what has happened, and you feel your stomach sink. When you wake up in the morning, you have a few seconds before reality sets in. A few seconds before you realize that, in fact, your dream is not the nightmare. Your reality is the nightmare.

You love the Lord. You call Him Father. You grew up following His commands. Sure, you're not perfect. But you're a lot more perfect than other people. You did things the way God said. And despite all that, you are facing news that feels heavier than anyone should be asked to bear. It threatens to suffocate you. It catches in your throat. It overcomes you in places you'd never imagine. The grocery store. The post office. During a commercial. As you lay in bed at night. In a moment that should be happy. But instead all you can feel is sadness. Sadness or nothing at all.

You know it could be worse. Of course it could. It can always be worse. Yes, there are people who are dealing with much more. And you feel guilty about that. You feel guilty about being so sad. You want to let this roll over you. You want it to not mean so much. You want it to not hurt so bad. But it does. It hurts really bad. How can you spend the rest of your life with this pain always a part of your history? You wonder if you will always feel this way. Will every moment always feel this layer of sadness?

I don't have the answers. And to attempt to give them would not be helpful. So instead, I want to tell you what I do know.

I know that this pain will always be a part of you. This pain will always be in your history. But this hurt will not always hurt as badly as it does right now. The Lord will help you find reason. You will never want to relive this pain, but you will be able to say that the pain was good for you. It helped you. It matured you. It grew you. It made you the person you are.

And not only will this pain help you, but this pain will help others. Every time someone confides in you about their hurt, you will able to understand them. You will relate. You will have compassion. You will have the words (or lack thereof) that are exactly what they need in their moment of pain. You will be their friend. You will be exactly what they need.

This hurts. Bad. But dear friend, I promise you that the Lord is with you. He sees your pain. He feels your pain. And He will put purpose into your pain. I promise you that someday, you will look back. You will not want to go back to this place. But you will not hurt the same. You will feel better. Your pain will not suffocate you anymore. You will make peace. You will have peace.

I once had a friend who had faced a fierce blow. When we next saw each other, significant time had passed. As we walked along the beach eating ice cream and sharing about our lives, I asked her how she was. And she said to me, "I knew I'd be sort of happy again. But I thought I would be faking it. I really didn't believe I could find happiness again. Not happiness that was real and more than just lip service."

But she had. God had brought her back to a place of peace. The sadness will always be part of her. But now it is a part of her past ... not her present.

I cannot tell you how long this pain will last. But I can tell you that joy will come in the morning. Tell the Lord how you feel. Confide in Him. Be honest. Yell. Scream. Beg. Plead. Weep. But don't stop loving Him. Fight bitterness. And fight to praise. Remember, God is who He is, no matter where you are.

And know that I am praying for you. I will pray for you now. I will pray for you on your good days. And on your bad days. And on the days in between.

I love you friend. God and I both love you. And we are here for you. Lean on us. We can take it. Let's grieve and let's praise Him in this storm ... together.



P.S. Click here to listen to a song that has been my theme verse during my darkest days: Casting Crowns: Praise You in this Storm. To read this post on my original blog, click here.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Child Who Was Never Born

JB saw this on Facebook and sent it to me. I immediately thought of my friends who have lost their children before they got to meet them on this earth. I immediately thought of the eleven embryos that we lost during our IVF journey.

Friday, August 31, 2012

China Shoes

I have very few items on my "get-out-of-my-house-if-there-is-a-fire" list. The quilt our friend in Florida, Rachel, made us for our wedding. Some photo albums. A cross JB made me while we were dating with our names on it. A scarf Hatice made me.

And these shoes. 


The story behind them is not unfamiliar to regular readers. In 2007, just after we had suffered our fourth failed IVF result -- just after we had decided to adopt a daughter from China. We received a gift from an online friend. You can see a picture of the shoes, as they arrived in my mail box by clicking here: Our "China" shoes.

Fast forward. We have two boys. We make the difficult and very painful decision to withdraw our Dossier from China due to increasing wait times and increasing costs. To not adopt China. To not bring the daughter we always pictured being in our family ... home.
I sent the shoes to a friend who was having a daughter. Her name was Rachel too -- but a different Rachel from the one who made the quilt. I told her to keep them. That I couldn't use them anymore. That I couldn't even see them anymore. They made me sad. Not that we weren't going to have a daughter. I didn't care about that at all. But that pulling out of China made me feel, in a sense, that we were losing a child.
And I couldn't be reminded of that.
But then, a surprise. We were pregnant again. And this time it was a girl. And my friend sent the shoes back to me. She had kept them!
And now, Abigail wears them. She's almost outgrown them. But they remind me, in one moment, of God's providence. Of his amazing ways. Of His ways not being our ways.
And while I was always be a bit sad when I think back on the China adoption that wasn't meant to be, I have realized that Abigail's presence is the presence of the daughter that HE  always planned for us to have.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Dumbo

I remember watching Dumbo as a kid. I cried because it was sad. Sad because Dumbo's mommy missed her son, and he couldn't be with her.

And then I watched Dumbo as a grown-up. And I cried again. I cried because it was sad. I was still sad because Dumbo's mommy missed him. But mainly I cried at another part. You know when the stork was bringing all the animals their babies? Dumbo's mommy watched as all the animals got babies. But she didn't get one. She was sad. And I was sad for her. Because I knew how it feels.

Today I am 35. Most of my friends have children in school. My cousin Sarah, who got pregnant with her son Tyler the year JB and I thought we'd start having kids, had a son in 2003. My Isaac didn't join us for another five years. I was Dumbo's Mommy. I was watching everyone else have their babies. And wondering when the stork would bring my little miracle.

But He did. Not the stork. But my heavenly Father. His timing is unbelievably perfect. I wouldn't change anything. I wouldn't change the person I am because of all that pain. I wouldn't change the compassion I have. And I definitely wouldn't change the exact children we have. I never thought I'd say I'm glad for the pain. But I am. I'm actually ... thankful. Thankful for the experience. And thankful the stork brought my babies a little later than everyone else.


Friday, August 24, 2012

My Testimony

I received an email from a friend going through infertility treatments right now. I often have many women that I am connected with via Hannah's Prayer, email, or in-person. This friend had read these words in a devotional and she shared it with me. I was so blessed to read these words. I often wonder who I am right now. What is my mission? I don't feel like I really fit in with mom groups. I feel like I will always be slightly different. And yet, obviously, I am no longer a part of infertility cycles, technically speaking. This email from my friend reminded me that my testimony is part of who I am. Infertility and adoption are my passions. They always will be.
*****

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Have you ever read a really good book? I mean a really good book? One that you can’t put down? You envision what every character looks like, what they sound like when they speak, and even how they walk. You feel like you know them! When you get so engrossed in the story you block the outside work and immerse yourself in the story line. There’s nothing quite like a really good book!
Did you know you are an author? That’s right! Sign your name at the bottom of the page, for you, my friend, are a writer! What are you writing? You’re writing your testimony.

Infertility can really take a toll on your life. It can consume every waking moment, every thought, every interaction. You may find that you are surviving trials that you never would have imagined you were strong enough to conquer. How has God worked in your life? How is God working? Who are the characters in your saga--people who have said really stupid things, or those who wrap their arms around you and understand? Have you learned things about God through your battle with infertility that you never had even considered before? Maybe you found yourself searching Scriptures for answers--and actually found them! Infertile couples have to figure out new ways to communicate and make decisions. Who knew when you stood at that altar that day that you’d have to make decisions like how many embryos to freeze or where the money would come from for all your medications? So many twists and turns in the plot!

Infertility changes you. When you’re in the midst of the battle you cannot see how you are better for it. It helps when someone who has been there understands what you feel, and shares with you how they coped and survived. Do you realize you can be that someone to another person? One day, infertility will be a part of your past, and not your every waking moment. You’re learning things now in infertility’s classroom that you never even considered before. Every trial you face, every month you survive, you are writing your testimony. Every time you pick yourself up and face another month, you’ve written another part of your testimony. You pray and ask God to help you--and He does. There’s another chapter. Another story to tell of how God provided again.

Someone needs to read your story. Someone somewhere is going to need to hear how she is not alone in her battle, and that someone with a similar struggle has survived. You may be in the midst of your fight today, but one day, your story can encourage someone else. Maybe you can see how, maybe not yet. But the day will come when someone new to infertility will look to you for answers. Your story may just be what gets them through that month, or that day.

When you share your story of how God sustained you through trials, you are lining up beautifully with Scripture. Comforting someone else with the comfort you received. Telling someone else, “I know it’s hard. This is what helped me,” is being the hand of Jesus extended.

Perhaps your story is not ready yet. It will be. One day, God can use your story to heal the wounds of someone else. Maybe today, you need the healing. Wherever you find yourself, know that God is working and moving. And writing your testimony with you.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Teaching the Public

As church let out on that Sunday morning and the lobby began filling with people, I smiled across the room as another couple we knew began maneuvering toward us through the crowd. When they reached us, we exchanged hugs as the wife took my arm and pulled me to the side. “Did John tell you?” she asked, excitement and life and joy spilling out from behind her eyes.

I glanced at my husband and watched as a wave of panic spread onto his face. I don’t even remember the rest of what the woman said to me. I just remember trying to look happy. I remember trying not to cry. I remember that all-too-familiar lump growing in the back of my throat.

My husband apologized on the way to the car for the oversight. He had gotten the announcement through the husband. He had meant to tell me. He had forgotten. I nodded. Being prepared for it would have helped. But it wouldn’t have changed the fact that we were still childless - that five years of infertility treatments had left us no closer to the children we always thought we would have. That even though that couple were newlyweds, they were going to have a child.

And we weren’t.

During the years we spent begging, yearning, praying, crying for a child, there were many moments like the one in that church lobby. Moments where I felt my heart breaking when someone said something that reminded me of the losses we had faced.

“I had so wished we could have babysat each other’s children,” one friend said days before she delivered. “Have you thought about adoption?” another asked as their three children played by our feet. “I had a friend who drank this tea,” another woman told me, tucking a piece of paper littered with a scary sounding concoction into my jacket pocket. “Relaxing,” was the key for us, another friend whispered. “Have you thought about taking a weekend away?”

Their well-intentioned words flowed easy off their tongues as they pierced my heart. “You are so young.” “Just be patient.” “Maybe it isn’t meant to be.” Or the husband who, after having a daughter through their first IUI told me, “I so hope this happens for you because there is nothing better than being a parent.”

Ouch.

I would always manage a smile and a polite nod. Sometimes even a few words of thanks would tumble out. But always, when I got home and climbed under my blankets, the tears would come. I would grieve. I would cry.

But always, I would remind myself that these friends and acquaintances, and yes, sometimes even strangers, were not trying to hurt me. It was important that I reminded myself that their intentions were pure. Sure, there was the occasional person who may not have had my best interest at heart, but for the most part, people are good. They are trying. They don’t know what to say. And so sometimes they say something they shouldn’t.

My way of combating this ignorance was to educate people. I started a blog. I told people our story. I wrote posts explaining what you should and shouldn’t say to a woman dealing with infertility. I helped start a Support Group at our church. I encouraged people walking alongside someone going through infertility to use me as a sounding board. I realized that I couldn’t expect people to say the right thing if they didn’t know what the right thing was to say.

If you are in the midst of infertility, you have no doubt found yourself at the receiving end of hard-to-hear words and missed-their-mark comments. I hope you too will remember that people want to help. It is WE, the infertile, who have to teach them how.

Friday, August 10, 2012

'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

There was a point in my life that I would sing this hymn ,and boom it with all my heart (or boom it quietly with all my heart as not to ruin it for those around me) Trust Jesus? Of course I trusted Jesus. Who wouldn’t?

And all my life, I thought I did trust in the Lord. The Lord was great! He had given me two loving parents, a loving spouse, a roof over my head, a Christian school to attend, athletic abilities that paid for college, fantastic friends, great churches, good health, every job I had applied for. Nothing bad had ever really happened to me.
Of course I trusted Him.

The fact is, trust is easy when your life is going as planned. But when life isn’t going the way you drew it up? How do you trust him then? Trust Him? Well, sort of. I mean, I want to trust Him, but why is He choosing to do things this way? Why doesn't He do them my way? Why did He allow that to happen? He defeated sin.

Infertility shook my trust to the core.

In my case, it was looking around me and questioning all the people God had given a child to instead of giving one to me. Recently it was a little Brazilian baby thrown in the river in a plastic bag. (She survived and people were soon lining up to adopt her.) Mothers having abortions. Teenage mothers. Abusive parents. "Wait!" I screamed at the TV or at the Lord. "Here I am! Give me those babies! Bless me with a pregnancy! I want those children!" Those were moments when I looked to the Lord and said, "Lord, I'm not sure I do trust You. Do you know what you are doing?"

Two and a half years into my infertility journey, a new woman joined us one evening for our quarterly support group meeting. As we listened to her voice her trust issues out loud, another woman with twins from embryo adoption spoke up. "I know what God was thinking. If I wouldn't have travelled the road I traveled, I wouldn't have these two boys -- and these are my boys."

As I was driving home that night, I had the moment I had wanted since this battle had begun. I somehow, finally, trusted the Lord. Or at least understood what that meant. I have been trying so hard -- every step of this journey, but that night I could honestly sing this song and mean it. I realized that while the Lord didn't cause this pain, he was using it every day.

Romans 8:28-31 says: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to HIS purpose." (NIV) Wait a minute! If not for infertility, I wouldn't have met this woman that night. If my friend with the twins hadn't hadn’t struggled to conceive, she wouldn't have her twins. If not for infertility, what would my faith be?

I don't think, prior to infertility, I would be able to understand when a friend told me they were questioning their faith or grieving a disappointment -- whatever it may be. But now, because of infertility, I understand.
Wendi, trust Me. I've got your best interest in mind. I didn't cause this, but I will use this in your life. When you look back, you will understand, either on earth or in heaven, why things happened the way they did. Trust Me.

Two and a half more years would pass. Five years and more infertility treatments than one person should ever attempt. I am not saying that during that time I did not waver again in my faith or in my trust. I did. Often. But I was able to remember that no matter how my story played out, the Lord had my soul -- my future -- in the palm of my hand. And I could trust that.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Malpractice

I felt incredibly satisfied to read this story online: 'Octomom' Doctor Loses License .

Dr. Michael Kamrava implanted TWELVE embryos into Nadya Sulemen. The result was octuplets. The article linked above states: "National guidelines issued by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine specify that no more than two embryos are to be used for in vitro treatments for a healthy woman under 35, the AP reported. Suleman was less than 35 years old at the time of her fertility treatments."

To put this into perspective, I did invitro four times. The first, second, and third times, Mayo Clinic put two embryos back in. Only after three failed attempts did they agree to increase that number to three embryos.

"According to Louis Keith, M.D. and Donald Keith, M.B.A. in Multiple Birth: Epidemiology, Perinatal Outcomes and Long Term Sequelae, 'all multiple pregnancies are high risk' and those risks increase with the number of infants in a given pregnancy. There is an inherent higher frequency of pre-term labor and low birthweight for all multiples, and with that comes a host of raised chances for health problems."*

According to the website of Parents of Multiple Births Association of Canada, it is estimated that ''Overall 15-17% of multiple births result from infertility treatments, however, it is estimated that 60% of triplets, 90% of quadruplets and 99% of quintuplets result from these treatments."

The fact that a doctor would implant twelve embryos in a woman who had previously conceived via invitro is an atrocity! It is careless. It is terrible. And I think the fact that he lost his license is commendable and necessary. Twelve embryos is horrific. I cannot begin to list the adjectives that describe this act by a member of the medical community.

Details from this post came from the following source: click here.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Beth Moore and Infertility

While working through Beth Moore's Breaking Free Bible Study, I was touched to discover that she was going to devote an entire day to infertility in this study. I wanted to take the opportunity to summarize some of what I learned during this study for those of you who haven't take it before.

Every little girl has at least four main dreams:
  1. To be a bride
  2. To be beautiful
  3. To be fruitful
  4. To live happily ever after
Of course, for those of you have been following my blog for any significant portion of the six years I have been writing, you know what my focus is going to be on. Number 3 it is.

Beth Moore actually writes: "Without a doubt, some of the unhappiest women I've ever known have been those who wanted children and were unable to have them." She goes on to say that Shame is Satan's game and that her friends dealing with infertility have asked themselves questions like "Why me? Why my husband? What did I do to deserve this? Is this my punishment for sex before marriage? Is this my punishment for having an abortion? Would I have been such a terrible mother? ..."

Beth goes on to make four fantastic points regarding barenness:
  1. Barrenness does not imply sinfulness. Here she uses a scripture from Luke 1:5-7. How I travelled the infertile road without ever seeing this scripture, I have no idea. In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old. This was incredibly powerful to me! Elizabeth and John were walking with the Lord and barren. There was no sin that caused this.
  2. Hearts not surrendered to God can seldom be trusted. Beth Moore writes that, "Until we surrender our hopes and dreams to Christ, we really have very little way of knowing what would fulfill us." She goes on to explain that if we are relying on a circumstance to make ourselves happy, we may end up bankrupt. Unhappiness is not solved by any one thing (marriage, baby, job, etc.)
  3. God created every life to be fruitful. Beth Moore encourages us to remember that the dream of being fruitful is more than just one of physical offspring. I do believe this is true. I believe we are called to the widows and orphans. We are called beyond what our womb can bear.
  4. I believe our girlish dream to have babies represent even more than the obvious. I love the way she explains this. She writes: "[Dreams] represent a desire to have fruitful lives, to invest ourselves in something that matters. Something that affects. Something that grows. It not, wouldn't God be cruel to allow any woman to dream of children yet disable her to have them? I don't believe God allows surrendered hearts to continue to long for things He will not ultimately grant in one way or another. Our disappointment with God is often the result of our small thinking."
Another thing Beth Moore mentioned that I never really thought of, is that one day, all of us will be barren. In other words, I will reach an age (soon in my case) that I will not be able to physically have children anymore. Am I to assume that at this point my fruitfulness ends? So true!***

I have been thinking about this. One day my boys will not need me. It's hard to believe that now. But they will lead their own lives. In my case, I feel lead to be a mother for a long time. We see ourselves adopting for many years to come. What about you? How will you continue to be fruitful when the time for physical fruit has passed?***

... just a few notes to share with you that ministered to me. I hope you find something in these words that minister to you.

***A note which might be helpful if you are thinking of doing the study. I did find that Beth Moore (and other women in our group agreed) trivialized infertility in the sense that she felt that it could be "replaced" by a role of a spiritual mom. I decided not to focus on this in my outline here on the blog and instead just focus from what I did take. That being said, there was quite a bit that I had to leave behind that just wasn't accurate.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Infertility in Turkey

I continue to be blessed by the presence of women in my life travelling the road I have previously travelled. I say blessed because their presence reminds me that our own journey through so many difficult years of infertility had reason. It had purpose. They may think for me for standing along side them, but truly, I find I have so much to thank them for. While I was blessed with many people who stood alongside me despite not knowing at all what infertility felt like, the people who can minister best in the darkness are the people who have been in that darkness and know all too perfectly what it feels like. It isn't pain that can ever be explained.

So many women have said to me, "Wendi, I watched you go through it. I felt for you. But I didn't get it until I did it myself." That is very true. Just like I cannot understand the loss of a child, the loss of a parent, the grief of a divorce -- so only those who have walked this road can truly understand the devastation of being barren.

Two of the women that I journeyed with lived on Base with me in Turkey. There is no REI (Reproductive Endocrinology) department on Incirlik. In fact, if you remember, there isn't even an OB department (thus my departure to Germany in June). These friends were having to traverse the world of a Turkish REI Clinic -- a whole new ball game! I was honored to accompany two of my friends to their appointments at a Turkish REI facility.
Never, ever, did I think I'd find myself in an infertility clinic in Turkey of all places!

A few things jumped out at me during my first appointment:
  • There is definitely a language barrier. There is one doctor who speaks very good English, but even that English is accompanied by a thick accent that can make deciphering difficult at times. But how blessed these ladies are for this one English-speaking doctor. Attaining a translator can take up to two weeks of paperwork. Not really possible when you are playing a spur-of-the-minute game like IUI and IVF. There is also a gal who speaks English who works at the front desk. However, despite how kind she is, I have to wonder what defines something as being able to speak English. Her definition is a stretch!
  • The Clinic is sparse, as is most Turkish architecture, but very clean, and very comfortable. The one major difference was that on our tour of the facilities, we noted you were to remove your shoes prior to going into the operating room. This was how it was in Nigeria too. There continues to be more of an emphasis on feet than hands when it comes to germs.
  • The cost is incredibly less than that in the USA. One round of IVF in the USA runs approximately 10,000USD. One round here in Turkey, closer to 3,000USD. Quite a big difference.
  • Childlessness and the desire to fix this issue is a problem everywhere -- around the world. This is a country that looks lightly on abortion and uses it as a means of birth control. People often only have 1 or 2 children with many years inbetween. And yet the desire to have a child is overwhelming, suffocating, and real enough to fund this many floor building in down-town Adana where people who make only $10,000 a year are spending $3,000 of that in trying to have a baby. Adoption is also not done here. It is very rare. I often do not even tell people I am adopting here. They view me as some sort of angel who did a favor to someone. Oh how untrue that is!
  • The lingo and protocol is nearly identical to my years doing IUI and IVF. I was amazed at how quickly all the words and phrases came spinning back into my head. Every word he was using. Every phrase. I knew these phrases. I knew these words. I lived these words. Being able to speak the lingo, to understand the lingo, is incredibly helpful when living this journey.
Take the time today to thank the Lord for the resources you have at your disposal on this journey. And remember that not all women have these. I remember, when we did a mission trip in Nigeria, women coming in who had not conceived. And there was nothing that could be done. They were helpless -- with no medical intervention possibly. Praise the Lord for our great country and the knowledge he has given men and women to help us.

Friday, July 13, 2012

What would I tell infertile me?

I got an email from a friend dealing with infertility today. She asked me a question.

"If you could go back in time and tell infertile Wendi one thing, what would it be?"

It's funny she asked that. It's a question I've thought about many times. And I've formulated many different answers.

But here's the one that resonates most within me.

I would tell myself to try my hardest to enjoy my life. To try to embrace where I am at currently instead of wishing the months and years to speed ahead until our next treatment or the next holiday that maybe I would be a mom. I would tell myself to sleep in as often as I could. I would tell myself to take more naps. Lie in bed and watch movies and don't get up just for the sheer relaxation of lying around Wendi! I would tell myself to go on as many dates with my husband as I could. Go for runs whenever you want Wendi. Take long walks in the park for no reason at all. Travel. Travel. Travel some more. Volunteer. Embrace your hobbies. Sit on the kitchen counter and drink a coke and stay up way too late talking with a girlfriend. Don't worry so much about becoming a mom. Try to remember that God doesn't promise us tomorrow. Children won't solve your fears of being alone Wendi. And then travel some more gosh darn it!

There's more. But you get the general idea.

I think we have this idea that if we "just get married" or if we "just have kids" or if we "just get this job" or if we "could just pay off this debt" or ... well, the list could go on and on, that then things will be perfect.

But they won't. We will never arrive. There will always be something we are seeking. There will always be sadness and disappointments. Only a relationship with our Heavenly Father can bring us the complete peace we think a certain thing will.

When we pulled away from the hospital with little two-day-old Isaac strapped into his car seat on May 9, 2008 ... with the lawyer and nurse waving at us and feeling like we had no idea what we were doing ... I realized that I was now, nearly officially, a mom. (His five month court hearing would solidify it.) But I didn't really feel different. Something could happen to Isaac the next day. Something could happen to all of us on the way home. Isaac was the child we always hoped to have. But he was not the answer to the hole in our life we often try to fill with things other than Christ.

I pray for those of you today praying for answer to your prayers. For many of you it is a child. For others of you it is something else. A spouse. A job. Reconciliation.

Whatever it is, I hope I can encourage you with three main tidbits of hope:

1. Embrace, as best you can, where you are today.
2. Believe that miracles are possible.
3. Remember that only Christ will bring you the peace you seek.

I always seem to have a group of about 5-10 women in my life that are in my "infertility group" of the moment. Women that I am watching walk the walk I walked just a few years ago. Please know that you are at the forefront of my mind all the time. Really. I am thinking of you by name while I write this. When I see you. When I email you. When I talk to you. I am thinking of you. I am wanting to fix it. And I am praying for the answer to your prayer.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Growing thru Grief

Whenever I have a free (rare) moment, I continue to work on making my blog into a book that I can get a hard copy of. This means reading a lot of past entries. I am still back on the first years of my blog: 2005-2006.

How ironic is it that on that day, November 26, 2010, I stumbled upon an entry from November 26, 2006? Four years to the day.

We had just suffered another failed IVF. I don't even remember which number that one was. And I had just been forced, emotionally, to leave a church service that was especially painful. After sobbing in a Target parking lot with my husband who was helpless to stop my pain or his, I went home and read this passage from a tiny little book I had that comforted me during those days: Good Grief.


Back then, four years ago to the day, I was inspired by the preface of the book. Now I look back and compare what I read then to what I feel now, on the "other side" of that valley.

  • We come out of our grief experience at a slightly higher level of maturity than before. Me? More mature! Absolutely. I am a better parent. I am a better wife. I am a more compassionate individual. I grew in leaps and bounds during that long and dark five years of my life. I wouldn't use the word "slightly." I grew incredibly. I will never look at life the same. I will never assume there is not someone hurting. I don't take my kids for granted. I understand the miracle that life is.
  • We come out of our grief as deeper persons because we have been down in the depths of despair and know what it is like. Prior to dealing with infertility, I never understood why people questioned their faith. I struggled to recognize why someone could be mad at God. I didn't understand pain. I had a "just-world" mentality. Today I have a mentality that understands that sometimes life doesn't follow the path we thought it would. The question is: what do we plan to do with the course our life takes?
  • We come out of it stronger, for we have had to learn how to use our spiritual muscles to climb the rugged mountain trails. You can't live through grief and not come out of it stronger. Not getting what you want forces you to truly rely on the Lord. I often say that while on our 2007 mission trip to Nigeria I became inspired to see how these people lived their faith. I realized that they lived their faith because faith was all they had to live. We, in America, take so much for granted. We have so much and we demand so much. When all you have is God by having what you want pulled out from under you, you became a stronger person. Spiritually e
  • We come out of it better able to help others. We have walked through the valley of the shadow of grief. We can understand. In the midst of our infertility journey, I stood by a close friend during her divorce and realized that I could relate to her pain because I had experienced my own loss. I knew what the depths felt like and knew how to be in the depths with someone else.
As always, I have about a half dozen women in my life right now that I am watching travel the infertile road. I am so sorry you are on this road. I pray that in the midst of this grief, you see the goodness. You see the growth. You see what I couldn't see until now, four years later. Bless you friends.

And thank you those of you who stood along side me during those days of grief. For those of you who have been with me for the entirety of my journey, would you mind sharing what you learned watching me go through this journey in the comments? Or maybe just a memory from my journey? I'm sure it would minister to me and the people who read this entry with grief present at this moment.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Blog Reader Question: Husband support

I recently had another question written in the comments on my blog. It is important to note that I am in no way an expert on these things. I am answering this question with just the limited amount of knowledge I have. It may not be worth much, but here it is anyhow. :)

I have a question for you. Sorry to bring up the infertility subject again but I don't have anyone else to ask: I've never tried to keep my feelings from my husband, I'm pretty much 'wear my heart on my sleeve' but after trying for over 2 years I feel like he's tainted to the whole baby thing. Let me rephrase that, not tainted like he doesn't want one he does, but a little callous to my emotions of wanting a child. It's super hard to be around pregnant people. I try to explain this to him and he sympathizes but I don't think he knows how to react. I know he's trying but honestly I don't feel the support and sympathy enough. I know that sounds super selfish but its true. No one else knows we're going through this so I need extra support from him b/c I feel like I'm silently suffering sometimes in public. Yes, I've told him this. My question IS: How did you try and express your feelings to your husband without sounding like a broken record or complaining? Thank you!

So first of all, I read your question to my husband. It is important for me to mention that my husband is a much more talkative guy than the average male. He will sit and talk for long periods of time (and will even initiate the topics on many occasions!) That being said, when I read this question to my husband his immediate response was, "I know exactly how that guy is feeling."

It's just the truth of it. I have yet to meet a couple that the husband was taking the infertility journey harder than the wife. I am yet to meet a couple that has the husband leave a baby shower in tears. Or a husband that has to be hit at the right moment with a pregnancy announcement. We women take infertility much harder than men. There's just no way around it.

Early on in our infertility journey, my husband and I had a conversation outside a friends' house. I remember that it was cold and there was a foot of snow on the ground. I was trying, yet again, to get him to understand why infertility hurt me so badly. I remember that this was the night he finally seemed to "get it" (at least more than he had). And I remember how I got him to see it.

I used a word picture. I painted a picture of him being told that he had to drop out of medical school (which was thing that he was, at that time, the most passionate about). I told him that he had to sit and watch his classmates finish school while he just waited to find out if they were going to let him back in to school or not. He could try to pursue other dreams while he waited, but there was no telling when the call would come that he was in or not. I told him that he may even get a call saying he was in only to receive a follow-up call that they had changed their mind. Or they may call and tell him that they were going to think about it for a few weeks before letting him know.

This worked for JB. I remember him saying that while he still didn't think I should take things as hard as I did, it made a bit more sense to him. Of course, as the years and procedures piled on top of us, John joined me more and more in our grieving process. As his desire and frustrations increased, we met more and more in the middle. In the end, he never reached my level of grief over our inability to conceive. But he definitely came closer. If you could find that thing your husband is the most passionate about and try to compare your infertility journey to him losing the ability to participate in that passion, maybe he can see it a bit more. He has to see it as you see it, somehow.

My second piece of advice is to find support aside from your husband. I, personally, suggest that people confide in a few close friends. In my case, I made the decision to "tell everyone" as my heart was so hurt and I just needed people to know.

However, if you choose to not find support "in the real world" than I really recommend you find that support online, where you can remain a bit more anonymous. I truly believe that the support I received through "girlfriends" was a key ingredient of releasing my husband from the burden of being my sole form of support. He is not able to completely relate. He is not a female. And only having one person for support is too much for anyone in any situation. They get burned out!

Here is a link to a past blog I did featuring online resources for infertility. I always especially recommend the following two links.
Hannah's Prayer, especially, was a HUGE source of encouragement to me during the years we dealt with infertility. Many of the women I am connected to online and who comment on this blog, were gals I met through this site. What I especially like about this Board is that it has "sections" of infertility. For instance, women struggling with infertility who have no children can go to a certain section for support. If you have a child and are struggling with secondary infertility, there is a separate section. And if you have been dealing with primary infertility for over four years (as I was), you could enter a long-term primary infertility section. There are also sections for adoption and pregnancy and multiples and other things that may occur after your journey moves into another direction.

I think you will find that support from other women will be a key ingredient in your husband not feeling overwhelmed or frustrated by how often you want to talk about things. If something hurt me or was hard on me, I would confide in a friend online or a friend in the real world. I then did not need my husband to provide me with the support I had already received. It was amazingly helpful.

Feel free to email me personally (wendi@wendkitsteiner.com) if you just need one person to talk to. Sometimes one person is all it takes. I hope this helps a bit.

Friday, June 22, 2012

How Comforters are Created

Sunday evening, my friend Becky (two failed IVF's before moving onto adoption) joined our family and Isaac's birth grandmother, Joni, for dinner. As dinner concluded, the three of us gals found ourselves sitting around the dinner table talking about infertility and pregnancy loss. Both Joan, Becky, and I have each travelled (and are travelling) a lengthy and hard road to parenthood. It was wonderful to be able to talk with two kindred spirits about a topic so close to my heart.

Joan had shared a devotional passage with me from one of Charles Stanley's publications early on in her visit to Eglin. I have found many scriptures that have brought me comfort in the course of our journey to parenthood, but I don't remember ever having read this scripture:

2 Cor 1:3-4 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."

How have I missed these verses for all these years?!

I can vividly remember walking out of a public restroom stall during an especially painful time of our infertility journey. I don't remember exactly where I was or exactly which bad news we had just received. But I do remember shutting that bathroom stall door, putting my face in my hands, and sobbing. I remember telling the Lord, "That's it! That's enough pain! I now feel like I have experienced enough pain to understand it and provide understanding to others."

Looking back, I can now see that I didn't possibly have enough understanding to relate to the plight of others on this journey. God needed me to have more. He needed me to really go into the valley so that I could truly understand the hurt people feel when they are there. Being in the valley is horrible. It hurts so badly. But he needed me to be there so I could understand what it felt like.

That pain has allowed me not only to be there for new friends like Becky as they travel the road we just travelled. It is a pain that transcends infertility and moves into many other realms. I remember the divorce of another dear friend. As I sat in my living room crying with her, I remember feeling like I understood exactly what it felt like to have a dream ripped out from underneath you. She had so many thoughts and plans and hopes for her life. What did she do with those dreams that would never come true? I didn't understand what divorce felt like. But I did understand what the loss of a dream and the grief that accompanies that loss feels like. That I understood.

Here is the devotional in its entirety. I pray it ministers to you as it has to me.

Job asked a challenging question in his time of suffering: "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" (Job 2:10). Even hardship has a place in the Lord's plan.

During a particularly painful time in my life, I decided that I ought to glean something from my distress. That decision allowed the Lord to open up a well of compassion in my heart that I often dip from to comfort those facing similar trials.

I found great solace in Paul's words about God, who "comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction" (2 Cor 1:4). Think about the kind of people you seek out when you feel hurt. You want someone who has felt your pain, right? A person who's walked the path we find ourselves on can understand our suffering and provide wise counsel. According to the apostle, passing through a "valley experience" prepares us to be a blessing and encouragement to those who must go through something similar later. What's required is that we accept the adversity He has placed in our way and choose to learn from the situation.

God is the Lord and Master of our life, and He therefore has the right to use us as comforters and encouragers to those in our sphere of influence. As His servants, we must be willing to receive whatever training is necessary to complete His will, even when it hurts. Do not waste your suffering! Instead, use it to bring glory to the Lord.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Hallmark Rejects (infertility-style)

I stole these from another blog I read: Life and Love in the Petri Dish. These are not my personal property. They just made me smile.

This picture (above) really resonated with me. Even today, with two biological children, I find that hearing someone is pregnant comes at me from two sides. Some are wholehearted. I am genuinely happy. But others are just tinged with envy. I can't help but thinking, "Why couldn't it be that easy for everyone?" or "Why did I have to travel such a difficult road?" I also can do this when people have an easy delivery. Why did I have to get so sick and storknest in Germany and have an appendicitis while pregnant? But all of these thoughts are just feeling "woe is me!" I have watched the Lord healing my heart more and more and I am now able to be genuinely happy for others. I also know that my story can cause that for other people too. Ex. why couldn't I get pregnant, twice, naturally?
And here are a few others that just made smile. "Hallmark Rejects" as Mo calls them on her blog.



Monday, May 21, 2012

Gone Too Soon

As I mentioned in a previous post, Daughtry came to Incirlik last week. Afterwards, JB sent me the lyrics to a new song by the group. It was written after the birth of Daughtry's twins, as he imagined never having gotten the chance to meet them.

I want to preface this post by telling you that this song may be too difficult to watch/read for those of you who have lost a child. JB and I were both incredibly moved by the lyrics and the meaning behind the song. Check out the lyrics below:

Gone Too Soon lyrics

today could've been the day
that you blow out your candles
make a wish as you close your eyes
today could've been the day
everybody was laughin'
instead i just sit here and cry
who would you be?
what would you look like
when you looked at me for the very first time?
today could've been the next day of the rest of your life

not a day goes by that i don't think of you
i'm always asking why this crazy world had to lose
such a ray of light we never knew
gone too soon, yeah

would you have been president?
or a painter, an author or sing like your mother
one thing is evident
would've given all i had
would've loved ya like no other
who would you be?
what would you look like?
would you have my smile and her eyes?
today could've been the next day of the rest of your life

not a day goes by that i don't think of you
i'm always asking why this crazy world had to lose
such a ray of light we never knew
gone too soon, yeah

not a day goes by, oh
i'm always asking why, oh

not a day goes by that i don't think of you
i'm always asking why this crazy world had to lose
such a beautiful life we never knew
gone too soon
you were gone too soon, yeah

Being as we experienced many minutes after Elijah's birth when we thought we would never get to see him grow up, this song particularly touched us. It also touched us in thinking about the 11 embryos that we lost during our IVF journey. 

I think of my many friends who lost children. How do we possibly make sense of this sadness? So many others of you who have faced the loss of children too son.

This post is for all of you. 

This moving, grief-wracked ballad about a child never born was sparked by the birth of twins to Chris Daughtry. At one point during the writing session, the frontman had to walk out to collect himself. "The song is about realizing that today could have been the day that someone would be blowing out the candles," he said. "It just hit me pretty hard. I remember playing the demo for my brother and I turned around and he was bawling. I didn't realize that my brother's wife had suffered a miscarriage years before. It was a pretty emotional moment."

Chris Daughtry wrote the song with San Francisco songwriter Michael Busbee. You can listen to it by clicking here.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Financing Infertility & Adoption

I recently stumbled across the following radio interview with financial guru Dave Ramsey. How to Adopt Without Debt. You can read about the interview by clicking here. You can listen to the interview by clicking here.

He is talking to Julie Gumm, author of the book: Adopt Without Debt: Creative Ways to Cover the Cost of Adoption.

I absolutely LOVE Dave Ramsey. He helped my husband I get completely debt free. We are huge fans of Financial Peace and the debt snowball idea. There are many other financial gurus, all with the same basic message: live debt free.

I found this intereview to be right up my alley. I definitely want to get Julie Gumm's book. I do believe that while adoption costs are high, there are a lot of resources and avenues that can be employed to adopt without going into significant debt -- thus one of the reasons we founded Because of Isaac.

Be forewarned. Dave is speaking to people wanting to adopt a child to "help the world." Not people adopting due to childlessness. to adopt a child. I found his response a tad on the callous side, and therefore attempted to do some research on Dave's take on infertility debt -- something that my husband and I were forced to enter into when we were doing infertility treatments.

I did some research on Dave Ramsey's website and found his take on financing infertility treatments or considering adoption. I thought that during these calls, Dave did an incredible job showing compassion and empathy for individuals having to make these difficult decisions.
  • A debt before adopt?  Question: Sharon and her husband make $90,000 a year with several thousand dollars in debt. They are considering infertility treatments. What does Dave say about starting a family while in debt?
  • Pause the debt snowball for infertility treatments?  Question: Eric in Wisconsin and his wife are down to two debts they’re paying off. They’re approaching their five-year anniversary and want to start a family. They want to consider some fertility treatments making $50,000 a year. Is it okay to pause the debt snowball for this?
  • Heart Wrenching Story  Question: Robin is incorporating fertility planning with Dave's financial planning. Insurance pays for most of the fertility planning and they pay their 20% with cash. They have $2,000 left in their fertility budget. She is 39 and feels "under the gun" personally and financially. Dave gives her a disclaimer and offers his best advice.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Our story on video

Here's a video featuring our story in twenty minutes. Our dear friend Linda put this together for us. It will eventually be linked from my main website: www.wendikitsteiner.com. It tells the story of our infertility and adoption journey in our own words. I hope you enjoy it. I'd love to hear what you think of it. We eventually hope to edit it more and put together a smaller version as well. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

I would die for that -- Kellie Coffey



I originally posted this Kellie Coffey video on on my daily blog on June 28, 2007. I have never seen one item so perfectly capture my heart as this video did. If you are anything like JB and I were the first time we watched this, you probably want to make sure you have some privacy. It's quite emotional.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Kite Runner

This post originally ran on my blog on October 29, 2006. I remember how incredibly poignant and meaningful it was to me at the time -- for a male writer to write about infertility and capture it so perfectly really touched me. 

I just finished a fantastic book. At JB's 30th surprise party this past January, I asked everyone who wanted to bring a gift, to bring their favorite book! I, honestly, was thrilled with this idea, and will probably do it again in the future. John got some great books and has read many of them. He has yet to read The Kite Runner, a gift from our friends Tia and her fiancee' Rob. However, I am now done with it. I wish I wasn't. I wish the characters were still moving forward. I wish I could continue to look into their lives. There are so many things I still want to see them do.

Now let me preface this glowing recommendation by telling you that this is not a light-hearted read. It is a very deep and moving book about a young Muslim boy growing up in Afghanistan during the last peaceful days of the monarchy, just before his country's revolution and its invasion by Russian forces. Written by Khaled Hosseini, he himself grew up in Afghanistan during the era that the book is set. He paints an amazing picture of a beautiful country torn apart by war.

It is also a mature read with very mature themes. The language is not too bad which I was thankful for, but the subject matter is very mature and definitely not for everyone. This was borderline "too deep" for me.

That being said, let me just say that Monday evening while JB was on call I laid in bed as 9:00 turned to 10 and 10 to 11 and 11 pushed its way toward midnight trying as hard as I could to get to a stopping point in this book -- a spot that I felt comfortable leaving the characters at until I could pick them up again. I finally did stop only to pick it up the next day during my lunch break and flip pages feverishly, attempting to finish before I had to return to work. It is actually completely irresistible. The characters are so beautifully painted and the descriptions so vivid that you keep forgetting this is not a biography -- forgetting that it is simply a piece of historical fiction. It is amazing, and if you can handle a deep, sad, and moving read, then give this a try.

WARNING! SPOILER AHEAD!


Okay, so if you plan to read the book, I'd suggest you stop reading this post immediately. I want to discuss a section of this book that really moved me due to its connection to infertility. This spoiler will not ruin the book but is definitely not preferable.

Midway through the book, the young couple, Amir and Soraya get married. As the years of their marriage ticked by, I immediately knew where this was going. Time to have the kids. I groaned a little internally knowing that yet again another couple would decide to try and "presto!" have a baby just like they tell you it happens in your health class in high school. Could anyone paint a realistic picture? That sometimes it doesn't happen like that?

I shouldn't have doubted this author's ability to paint a picture with the real world painted all over it. He painted the truth. That ometimes "Presto" isn't a magic word.

So I include a passage here. This passage so amazing represented what infertility is like in a few quick pages. It was quite breathtaking and emotional for me to read.

So I read:

That was the year that Soraya and I began trying to have a child.

The idea of fatherhood unleashed a swirl of emotions in me. I found it frightening, invigorating, daunting, and exhilarating all at the same time. What sort of father would I make, I wondered. I wanted to be just like Baba and I wanted to be nothing like him.

But a year passed and nothing happened. With each cycle of blood, Soraya grew more frustrated, more impatient, more irritable. By then, her mother's initially sublte hints had become over, as in "Kho dega!" So! "When am I going to sing alahoo for my little nawasa?" Her father, ever the Pashtun, never made any queries -- doing so meant alluding to a sexual act between his daughter and a man, even if the man in question had been married to her for over four years. But his eyes perked up when his wife teased us about a baby.

"Sometimes, it takes a while," I told Soraya one night.

"A year isn't a while, Amir!" she said, in a terse voice so unlike her. "Something's wrong. I know it."

"Then let's see a doctor."

Dr. Rosen, a round-bellied man with a plump face and small even teeth, spoke with a faint Eastern European accent, something remotely Slavic. He had a passion for trains -- his office was littered with books about the history of railroads, model locomotives, paintings of trains trundling on the tracks through green hills and over bridges. A sign above his desk read, LIFE IS A TRAIN, GET ON BOARD.

He laid out a plan for us. I'd get checked first. "Men are easy," he said, fingers tapping on his mahogany desk. "A man's plumbing is like his mind: simple, very few surprises. You ladies, on the other hand ... well, God put a lot of thought into making you." I wondered if he fed that bit about plumbing to all of his couples.

"Lucky us," Soraya said.

Dr. Rosen laughed. It fell a few notches short of genuine. He gave me a lab slip and a plastic jar, handed Soraya a request for some routine blood tests. We shook hands. "Welcome aboard," he said, as he showed us out.

***

I passed with flying colors.

The next few months were a blur of tests on Soraya: Basal body temperatures, blood tests for every conceivable hormone, urine tests, something called a "Cervical Mucus Test," ultrasounds, more blood tests, and more urine tests. Soraya underwent a procedure called a hysteroscopy -- Dr. Rosen inserted a telescope into Soraya's uterus and took a look around. He found nothing. "The plumbing's clear," he announced, snapping off his latex gloves. I wished he'd stop calling it that -- we weren't bathrooms. When the tests were over, he explained that he couldn't explain why we couldn't have kids. And, apparently, that wasn't so unusual. It was called "Unexplained infertility."

Then came the treatment phase. We tried a drug called Clomiphene, and hMG, a series of shots which Soraya gave to herself. When these failed, Dr. Rosen advised in vitro fertilization. We received a polite letter from our HMO, wishing us the best of luck, regretting they couldn't cover the cost.

We used the advance I had received for my novel to pay for it. IVF proved lengthy, meticulous, frustrating, and ultimately unsuccessful. After months of sitting in waiting rooms, reading magazines like Good Housekeeping and Reader's Digest, after endless paper gowns and cold, sterile exam rooms lit by fluorescent lights, the repeated humiliation of discussing every detail of our sex life with a total stranger, the injections and probes and specimen collections, we went back to Dr. Rosen and his trains.

He sat across from us, tapped his desk with his fingers, and used the word "adoption" for the first time.


Soraya cried all the way home.

Soraya broke the news to her parents the weekend after our last visit with Dr. Rosen. We were sitting on picnic chairs in the Taheris' backyard, grilling out and sipping yogart dogh. It was an early evening in March 1991. Her mother had watered the roses and her new honeysuckles, and their fragrance mixed with the smell of cooking fish. Twice already, she had reached across the chair to caress Soraya's hair and say, "God knows best, bachem. Maybe it wasn't meant to be."

Soraya kept looking down at her hands. She was tired, I knew, tired of it all.

A few months later, we used the advance for my second novel and placed a down payment on a pretty, two-bedroom Victorian house in San Francisco's Bernal Heights. Sometimes, Soraya sleeping next to me, I lay in bed and listened to the screen door swinging open and shut with the breeze, to the crickets chirping in the yard. And I could almost feel the emptiness of Soraya's womb, like it was a living, breathing thing. It had seeped into our marriage, that emptiness, into our laughs, and our lovemaking. And late at night, in the darkness of our room, I'd feel it rising from Soraya and settling between us. Sleeping between us. Like a newborn child. 

(To read more ... buy the book. Or borrow it from me!)