Thursday, January 15, 2015

What's Your Idol Published

Another one of my infertility pieces was featured on Bethany Christian Service's website. 

I wrote the piece "What's Your Idol?" right before our forth try with IVF -- the last cycle we would do before throwing in the towel on biological children. 

Bethany advertised this piece by writing:

Wendi Kitsteiner----a frequent writer for Stepping Stones----asks the following question: "Can you identify something you can't live without?" This is a must-read article for refocusing on what is important in life during the New Year.

To see some of the other pieces I have written on the topic of infertility that have been published, click on the links below:

To My Grieving Friend
What Would I Tell Infertile Me
Talking to a Friend Who is Experiencing Infertility
Breaking Your Good News ... To Your Infertile Friend

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

More Media Attention

I don't know who Jaime King is before this article on, but I am instantly a huge fan. I have been saying and saying (and saying some more) how I wished that celebrities would be more forth coming in their infertility battles. Instead of "miraculously" having a baby at 44 years old, why not share the journey you took to get there? 

Well Jaime King did. She discusses miscarriage, infertility, and post-partum depression. She also shares how the instant she became a mother, she did not have the "amazing moment" that some moms did. She even discusses a very difficult pregnancy and labor.

Bravo! We need more women who keep it real and tell it like it is so that NO ONE feels alone!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Bobbie Thomas on pregnancy after IVF: Grateful, cautious and a little guilty

I could have written this post myself. So closely echoes everything I have ever felt, thought, or experienced on this incredibly bumpy roller coaster. I'm also sad to admit that I sometimes feel a twinge of "happiness" when I see another IVF'er experience the intense morning sickness that I did. Just to feel that I'm not the only one is nice!

Click here to read this article in its entirety. I'm so thankful for this media figure in sharing her story. It is so important to keep the experience of infertility from becoming silent ever again!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

I could have a baby but she could not

By: Tammy
To read this post in its original format, please click here. 
I dedicate this post to all my friends who were having babies and more babies while I couldn't have any. A letter written from your perspective to your infertile friends.
And to those who are still waiting, I encourage you to especially read the bold words ... may they give you a strength you didn't know you had.
My husband and I met and married pretty quickly.  Our first date was January 3rd and we were married by December 12th.  So I guess it was no surprise when we found out we were pregnant that March following our wedding; we liked to work quick!
We were making plans to attend our wonderful cousin’s wedding in Northern California and decided we should make a little romantic weekend out of it and spend a few days in Wine Country as well.  We were completely surprised when I woke up the day before our trip to a positive + sign on a little white stick. But oh so excited!
I think I was especially excited because it is what I had dreamed of since a little girl!  Meeting and marrying Prince Charming.  Having a cute little baby with him and becoming the dearest of words: “Mommy.”  Our excitement overflowed and so did the planning. I am pretty sure Babies R Us saw me weekly if not more…..  Multiple baby showers in the various states I had lived in were planned.  A nursery was designed and set up.  Name books were underlined, dog eared and highlighted.  It was all I could talk about and think about.  I breathed baby all day.
When I was about 28 weeks pregnant we visited one of those 3D Ultrasound picture studios.  With my bare belly sticking up, and friends and family on Skype, thanks to state-of-the-art technology we were able to see our little boy’s chubby cheeks and tiny fists floating through his watery home in my womb.  Of course I cried.  Such a beautiful experience!
The next morning, as soon as I hit my office chair, I emailed out to all my friends, family and co-workers the ultrasound pictures of our beautiful baby boy.  Immediately emails and texts came rolling back in saying how cute he was and how they couldn’t wait to meet him!  And my cup overflowed.
But what I didn’t know was there was a woman I had made cry.  I didn’t know she had been trying for 4 years to get pregnant.  I didn’t know she had multiple in vitro fertilization attempts that didn’t work.  I didn’t know she had 6 miscarriages that she had grieved through in the past few years.  I didn’t know that my baby pictures I rejoiced over and emailed to her just broke her heart because I could have a baby but she could not.
Days later I was told of her sad news through a friend.  I was asked, per her request, not to mention my pregnancy and baby around her nor to send out any more pictures.  And, even though I saw her almost daily, I was to not mention my pregnancy whatsoever. And I am ashamed to say I got angry. Here I was, in the happiest time of my life, and I needed to be quiet.  I needed to hold my joy.  And I felt cheated.  Cheated out of the joy of my pregnancy.
But what I didn’t realize at the time was she felt the same way: she felt cheated out of the joy of being pregnant.  She felt robbed of the chance to have life growing in her womb and being called mom.  She was heartbroken.  And I had just added to her grief.
Years later, I am now pregnant with baby #3.  I have been blessed to have had no complications or real issues with any of my pregnancies.  And yet I feel overwhelmed most days to have 2 toddlers and a newborn on the way.  I get frustrated when I can’t get into the shower because my daughter won’t let me put her down.  I get frazzled when I can’t make a meal because my son is screaming every time I walk into the kitchen because he wants to do puzzles NOW.  I get emotional because I still never get to sleep through the night.
And yet I know that same woman, whose heart I broke, would ache for these moments.  She would give anything to feel this wanted or needed as a mother.  She would happily embrace all the child issues I take for granted.
I was thinking about Hannah in 1 Samuel chapter 1.  She was loved dearly by her husband and yet mocked by her husband’s other wife, Peninnah, because Hannah did not have a child.  Hannah was taunted and teased.  I can only imagine she felt inadequate in her role as a “wife” to produce but more so her heart was in anguish to hold the gift of a child in her arms.  And she had a woman close to her, her husband’s other wife, constantly emphasize Hannah’s lack of a child to her face.
You see what I’ve come to understand is that infertility is mostly a silent grief.  Just as I had, there are women who have dreamed since they were little girls about having a baby…. and then they have come to the shocking truth their “happily ever after” may never come.  Many people don’t discuss their attempts to get pregnant or their inability to conceive.  Instead they keep trying over and over, month after month, quietly in sorrow for what they might never have.  Hope followed by discouragement.  Faith succumbed to fear.
I will never know what those who deal with infertility face.  Until we reach Eternity, we may never know why someone who wants such a precious gift will never be able to have it. But what I can say to my friend whose heart I broke, and all the other women and couples who have bravely faced infertility for years is this:
You are courageous.  You are full of hope and strong.  Your heart is filled with a compassion and desire I will never experience to the same extent; however, I pray I will learn from your gifts of patience and trust.  I am sorry for not being sensitive to your needs.  I am sorry for the all the times I have whined and complained about my child’s sleep issues or toddler problems instead of recognizing each and every moment as a gift from God.  I am sorry if all my stories of motherhood and baby-life have come across as painful jabs to your heartfelt desires.  I am sorry for not understanding your pain and grieving with you instead of jealously wanting my joys to be more important than your sorrows.  I am sorry for not holding your hand, praying with you, hugging your neck, and telling you you don’t have to be silent in your struggle; you are not alone.  I will promise to learn from your brave heart to hope and trust and keep on believing in God even though you don’t understand His ways.  I promise I won’t take for granted the gift of my children as I learn from you each and every day what a blessing they are.
Friends, especially mommies, I encourage you today….. you may not know if someone is dealing with infertility.  They may keep quiet in their struggle.  But let’s not be like Peninnah who took jabs and taunted what she had over Hannah.  We may not ever intentionally mean to discourage anyone but let us pray for discernment to whether or not our words and actions may hurt our friends who are like Hannah.  Instead let’s offer loving hands of hope, faith and encouragement to our sisters and friends who bravely persevere on.
This friend that I had hurt with my ultrasound photos….  despite my foolish heart and frustrations against her, the day she met my infant son for the first time, she swept him up in her arms, held him close, began to speak and sing soft words of endearment to him.  And I can tell you it was one of the most beautiful moments I have ever seen.  For a woman so filled with pain, to show my son so much affection, made me repent of my hurtful spirit and hope somehow my son brought her joy… if even for that moment.

Friday, January 9, 2015

You exist because I yearned

I yearned for you.

I begged. 
I pleaded. 
I cried. 
I prayed. 
I sobbed. 
I grieved.

I met with any doctor who would listen. I gave myself shots. Your Daddy gave me shots. I was probed.  I was tested. I went to more appointments than I could count.

We did ultrasounds and blood draws and procedures and more ultrasounds.

We conferred and conferenced and discussed and researched and educated ourselves.

They said Clomid. We did that three times.
Three times it didn't work.

They said artificial insemination. We did that five times.
Five times it didn't work.

Then they said in vitro fertilization. We tried that four times.
Four times it didn't work.

If they said to try it, we found the money, and we tried it. We borrowed it. We scrimped for it. We gave up anything we could for it.

We did all this for you.

But still you didn't come.

We passed our fifth anniversary. Our seventh. Our ninth.

Still infertile.
Still childless.

I wanted you so badly that some days I felt like my heart could break from the desire -- form how much I yearned to hold someone I hadn't ever met.

I pictured you. 
I dreamed of you. 
I thought of you. 
I longed for you.

And so we kept pressing. Kept trying. Kept pushing. Kept hoping. Kept yearning for YOU.

Invitro? One more time?
Yes. One more.

The very last time we tried IVF, two tiny embryos were dropped into my womb. The ultrasound tech whispered, "Two little shooting stars," as the camera watched you and your sibling glide into my womb.

More waiting.
More dreaming.
More hoping.
More yearning.

And if we were honest, we would have said that we didn't believe we would ever meet you.

Today, you are here and you are 15 months old and you have long brown hair and big blue eyes and a personality that constantly tells us you will not let the world tell you who you are.

Today, you are climbing and putting fistfuls of food into your mouth and smearing spaghetti in your hair and saying new words every chance you can. You are giving huge hugs and saying, "Na!" when you plant a kiss on our cheek. You are starting to run and read books and ...

I love you.
I yearned for you.
I never gave up on you.
And because of that desire and a really cool God

I am your mom.

You exist because I yearned.

And I yearned because I loved you before I knew you.

And now I know you.

And I love you Hannah Joy.

It's a pleasure to meet you.

It's a pleasure to be your Mommy.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Often Silenced, and Left Out, Parts of Our Infertility Stories

A great article by Justin Brooks Froelker. To read the article as it originally appeared, please click here. 

Infertility and IVF are finally beginning to gain some attention in the media; as more and more celebrities own their stories of conceiving their families through IVF and/or surrogacy, The Today Show portraying a couple throughout the entire process of consultation, injections and pregnancy and the incredible story of Ashley and Tysonand their four miracles.
I am encouraged and proud that the veil of silenced shame is beginning to lift. Especially in the stories that tell more than the traditional stories of infertility. Like the story of just keeping trying, as if we all have endless resources, thank you Bobbie Thomas for breaking this silence. And, like the story of the only happy ending being with children, thank you Aisha Tyler for breaking this silence.
We must continue to break this silence. It is only through talking about our stories that we will be able to embrace it all. Through this embracing we will be able to practice our recovery no matter what our version of the happy ending is. This is how we own all the parts of our story. This is ever upward.
So here they are, the parts of our infertility stories that are often silenced and left out. 
  • It only works about 30 percent of the time.
  • It's expensive, very expensive. And most insurance policies do not cover it.
  • It's painful; injections, vaginal ultrasounds with stimulated ovaries and swollen follicles, hot flashes, weight gain.
  • It's a great way to make sex the least romantic and most planned out part of your relationship.
  • A baby isn't the only way to find wholeness and happiness.
  • You can meet some amazing women through the online or in person support groups, message boards and blogs.
  • It ONLY works about 30 percent of the time.
  • It doesn't always end with a baby.
  • Sometimes it ends with two.
  • Or three.
  • Or eight.
  • Or none.
  • There are couples it is never going to work for.
  • It's painful; the Clomid crazy train and it's beyond up and down roller coaster mood swings.
  • It's okay to stop.
  • It's even okay to stop before you get the baby.
  • It's healthy and healing to talk about it; to talk about all sides of it and all the possibilities and outcomes.
  • You may feel the time crunch pressure to start the next round as "your eggs are dying by the second."
  • The message of "just keep trying, it will work" feels invalidating, unrealistic, shaming and denying to many of our realities.
  • It's SUPER expensive.
  • You may have to make emotional and financial life altering decisions immediately after you just lost a dream (embryo, baby) and are actively grieving.
  • You or your partner may discover you have a phobia to needles and are quite the fainter.
  • You may never feel panic quite like the panic you feel when you realize that your last chance didn't work.
  • You will feel that breath stealing, throw up panic and sadness. And yet, it can also come with a sense of bittersweet freedom of at least knowing something and having an answer. Even though it was not the something we so wished and hoped for.
  • You will wait, a lot. In waiting rooms for procedures, for appointments and consults, and therefore find the funniest and weirdest things on YouTube to help pass the time and lighten the suffocating pressure of the process.
  • You will endure the wait of the tortuous and infamous two-week wait, probably several times.
  • You will experience moments of unadulterated belly laughter.
  • You will experience moments of sheer terror.
  • You may have moments of gut wrenching breath stealing loss.
  • And you will have moments of jubilant soul completion joy...
  • It might work.
  • It might not work.
  • It's okay to stop.
  • It's okay to keep going.
  • You will eventually find and conceive your chosen family.
  • Every family looks different, and yet, is complete just the same.
  • Either way you'll need to choose change and recovery, and do the work to be okay.
  • Because it will be okay.
  • Because, it is worth it, baby or not.
  • And, because you can find your own ever upward within the journey and in owning your story. In this journey we will find and grow more love, acceptance and understanding, more fertility compassion, for the many ways a family is made.