Archive for the ‘Infertility In The Movies etc.’ Category
October 24, 2014 | By: Liz | Filed under: adoption, Age and Infertility, Deadly Silence, Egg Donation, Faith and Infertility, Gestational Carrier, infertility in the media, Infertility In The Movies etc., Infertility on Television, IVF, Peace to Parenthood, Personal Musings, Recurrent Pregnancy Loss, Surrogacy, The Infertility Survival Handbook, The Journey to Parenthood, Thinking Out Loud, Third-Party Assisted Reproduction, Treatment, Uncategorized, visualization
I’m back (after a blogging break) and I’m mad. Very mad. I am mad at doctors, mad at the media, mad at the reproductive community, mad, mad, mad! Why am I mad you ask?
It took me awhile to figure it out, which makes me even . . . madder! Okay I know that’s not a real word but you get my point . . . I think it’s been building up inside me for . . . oh about 15 years. Because 15 years ago (give or take a few years) I was officially LABELLED as INFERTILE. It is not a nice label. It is not a label anyone ever wants. And yet there it is. A LABEL in my medical chart.
It’s like having a huge tattoo on my forehead that screams to doctors and the world:
INFERTILE: WILL NEED HIGH-TECH EXPENSIVE MEDICAL TREATMENT TO EVER HAVE A CHANCE TO CONCEIVE AND CARRY A CHILD.
This is a label which makes your doctor look at you differently. A label which makes YOU look at YOU differently. A label which makes you look at your partner differently, and makes your partner look at you differently.
The LABEL stuck with me for over 15 years. And indeed, after years of IVF those labels became so convincing to everyone, and I mean everyone, that no one believed there was any hope for me. It was like getting put into a closed box which doctors didn’t even want to try to open.
I listened to doctors, and nurses, and even friends, as they recounted the statistical UNlikelihood that I would conceive and carry a baby, as the statistics of the likelihood of what I wanted more than anything, became smaller and smaller, and smaller. I let them convince me it was impossible.
The list of reasons they gave me was huge. Insurmountably huge. And so I believed them when they told me I wouldn’t conceive. I believed them when they gave me diagnosis after diagnosis. I didn’t question their opinions or their conclusions. I didn’t challenge my own belief in the power of my mind, the power of my body, the power of ME!
I BOUGHT IT ALL HOOK LINE AND SINKER!
And that’s why I am mad.
I let them compartmentalize me.
I let them put me in a box with a label and give up on me.
I let ME give up on ME.
Today there are countless ways to build a family. IUI, IVF, IVF with donor egg, IVF with donor sperm, IVF with egg and sperm donor, embryo donation, gestational surrogacy (with any of the aforementioned IVF combinations), traditional surrogacy, domestic newborn adoption, foster-care adoption, international adoption; and there are more options than what I have mentioned. It is a colorful and beautiful world filled with reproductive and family building options. I live and breathe it every day as I help others move toward their dream of building a family. But I couldn’t see any of it for myself. All I could see was that tattoo staring back at me in my bathroom mirror every morning.
I read when magazines and newspapers attributed the label to countless celebrities, the media’s whispered words of shame and failure . . . [insert celebrity name here] can’t get pregnant] . . . she’s INFERTILE. But I didn’t believe it for them. I believed they would (or will) prove the label was wrong. Prove the media was wrong. I believed that others could defy that label which defined me.
God I hate that word. I hate the feelings it brings out in me. Feelings of failure, sadness, desperation, and now anger. But I am not angry that I am infertile. I am angry that I gave up on myself. But then something happened. Something that wasn’t supposed to happen . . . not to me, not to someone with all those LABELS. Something extraordinary happened that caused me to challenge my doctors’ assumptions, that caused me to look at the LABEL tattooed on my forehead and ask:
IS IT REALLY TRUE?
AM I REALLY INFERTILE?
And then I realized it isn’t impossible. Nothing is impossible. In fact everything is POSSIBLE. And with that realization my entire world changed. My longheld beliefs about myself and my infertility CHANGED. Everything I feel and believe about what I have lived through for well over 15 years, what I tell my clients, how I look at the community and industry in which I work, has shifted. I suffered for over 15 years for no reason. There was always hope. I just wouldn’t let myself see it. But I see it now. I see HOPE everywhere, for everyone, even for ME. No one really knows who is infertile. Not even your doctor. Nothing anyone tells you has to be true. Not unless you believe it’s true.
My point is this:
Do NOT let your doctor get you down.
Do NOT let your doctor dismiss you.
Do NOT buy into the label(s).
Do NOT believe statistics.
PLEASE DO NOT BELIEVE STATISTICS.
I have finally realized that everything and anything is possible. Because it is.
ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE!
It will happen to you in the perfect time, and in the perfect way. But you do not have to suffer while you wait. Do not do what I did. Do not buy into the labels. Do not give up or give in.
Instead of choosing the mindset of infertility, choose the mindset of belief. Choose the mindset of knowing that your time will come. Accept, believe, and KNOW that everything and anything . . . and I mean ANYTHING . . . is POSSIBLE.
Because it IS.
And I know this because after 15 years of living with the label, and living with the tattoo on my forehead, something happened which proved everyone wrong about everything. I now know that
I AM NOT INFERTILE
My body is
and so is
The painful silence of recurrent pregnancy loss and stillbirth. A first hand perspective and perhaps finally, a voice.
February 15, 2013 | By: Liz | Filed under: Current Affairs, Deadly Silence, Faith and Infertility, infertility in the media, Infertility In The Movies etc., Infertility on Television, IVF, Miscarriage, Peace to Parenthood, Personal Musings, Recurrent Pregnancy Loss, Stillbirth, The Journey to Parenthood, Thinking Out Loud, Third-Party Assisted Reproduction
The shrowd of silence around stillbirth and pregnancy loss finally is being lifted. Someone is making a documentary about miscarriage, recurrent pregnancy loss, and stillbirth. This morning I watched the trailer of “Still” a documentary devoted to raising awareness of the pain of the loss of a pregnancy, a child born too soon, or a stillbirth. I think “Still” may focus more on stillbirth or pre-term delivery, but some of the articles I read as I researched its production indicated that the documentary intends to address recurrent pregnancy loss and/or miscarriage more than is touched upon in this trailer.
As I watched the trailer I was reminded of a long call I had with a new client this week. It is rare that I have a client who has a similar background to my own experience with infertility. Like me she has experienced 12 unexplained pregnancy losses (although I sort of stopped counting about a year ago when I went through it again . . . something about hitting the number 13 and I really decided it didn’t matter how many I had, I have had enough, one is enough). Only in addition to experiencing a number of first term (non-chemical) pregnancy losses, my new client also lost pregnancies in the second trimester and near the beginning of the third trimester. We had a lengthy conversation about how isolating it is, how lonely it is, how there is no person other than your partner or spouse who “gets it” (and even then sometimes perhaps they don’t totally get it because it isn’t their body), and how the silence that surrounds pregnancy loss can engulf one’s life, one’s existence. Our call also reminded me of a blog I posted about a gravestone I once saw that marked the death of fetus. As I commented in that blog, it wasn’t a pro-life stunt. It was a family who had been given permission not only to mark the death of their baby while in utero (or loss of their pregnancy) but to recognize all those other families that have suffered the same pain. In silence.
Reproductive medicine has provided so many advances to assist infertile couples in achieving their dreamed of family but recurrent pregnancy loss remains largely unexplained. While theories abound, there are far too many of us who don’t know why this happens to us, repeatedly. Reproductive medicine and reproductive law now give us the option of having our biological child carried by someone who is likely to deliver that child when we can’t. Indeed, the option to use a surrogate after experiencing pregnancy loss is perhaps the driving force behind at least half of my clients who come to me to assist them with legal agreements as they begin their journey using a surrogate. As is the case with the call and the client I just mentioned.
As many of you know, in the absence of an explanation of why my babies die, I was too frightened that a surrogate might lose my child. I couldn’t ask another woman to risk experiencing the pain I have dealt with so many times. Adoption was always something my husband and I had wanted to pursue so when we were faced with the [dreaded] conversation where our doctor told us we were out of options other than surrogacy or adoption, it was a no-brainer for us. It was going to be adoption. And as one of the women in the trailer for “Still” points out, I wouldn’t turn back the clock or make different decisions; because without those pregnancy losses I wouldn’t be parenting the two beautiful children I have now. I cannot imagine a life without these particular little souls in it. It seems like a heartbreaking price to pay but as I told my new client, one day when this is all over and you are holding your baby in your arms, it will make sense and you will know that but for all that came before (all 12 of those horrendously difficult pregnancy losses) this little baby wouldn’t be yours.
But as she journeys toward that day where she hopefully does feel that sense of peace and gratitude for the child in her arms, she is left with a huge void. She has no one to talk to. I had no one to talk to. Even my best IVF friends didn’t understand how I felt. Excuse me: how I FEEL. I still feel pain on a day that one of my longtime friend’s celebrates, the day she heard the heartbeat of each of the babies she was carrying. I don’t begrudge her that joy. I celebrate with her. But for me, inside, it always is a reminder of the miscarriage that I experienced just a few days earlier. My client and I share a special bond, one of knowing what each carries inside her and the thoughts that creep into our mind throughout the day. Thoughts that largely go un-shared with anyone.
Will “Still” do justice to this topic, to this diagnosis, to the countless women and men who have endured the loss of a life growing inside them or one that came into the world far too early to survive? I think so. I hope so. Because I would like nothing more than for women like me who are going through what I went through, women like my new client, to have a voice in the reproductive community. To have doctors pay attention to our kind of infertility. To have better resources and support groups. To just plain have a voice to express their pain. Amazing options for family building notwithstanding, the pain associated with recurrent pregnancy loss, miscarriage, and stillbirth shouldn’t continue to be shrouded in silence.
And so today I thank the people behind this documentary entitled “Still”. THANK YOU for initiating a dialogue that is long overdue.
And one final note, to all those physicians who have dedicated their careers to exploring the mystery of recurrent pregnancy loss . . . THANK YOU.
If you would like to watch the trailer click here
May 26, 2011 | By: Liz | Filed under: adoption, In the News, Infertility In The Movies etc., Infertility on Television, IVF, Peace to Parenthood, Personal Musings, The Journey to Parenthood, The Two Week Wait Care Package, Thinking Out Loud, Third-Party Assisted Reproduction, visualization
I have periodically blogged about how Hollywood portrays infertility, but I have never really focused on how Hollywood or television portrays parenthood. There are tons of great movies and t.v. shows about parenting, but there isn’t a ton that really addresses the transition people go through when they become parents: The Leap from Infertility to Parenthood. Granted there are fantastic movies like Juno that really capture aspects of adoption, but until now I haven’t really seen a movie or t.v. show that helped me understand (even as Monday Morning QB) what the transition — the Leap — is like. I am always “warning” my clients to be prepared for life with baby, but I previously have not had anything I could tell them to watch which accurately represented or characterized the Leap.
Well that has all changed. Last weekend I was watching a movie with my DH (Dear Husband). He had rented the film and I had agreed to watch it (despite an initial lack of interest) because the main character was played by Katherine Heigl, who is as we know, an adoptive mom. Not only do I love her films in general but I always am willing to watch a movie where the actor is in real life a parent through ART (assisted reproductive technologies) or adoption. And I am especially interested if the film involves parenting or the formation of a family. Putting aside a desire to escape my life and enjoy the movie, I always wonder whether the actor’s personal experiences with infertility, ART or adoption will influence his or her choices as an actor.
To be honest, when DH proposed watching this film I had no idea what it was about. I was inclined to pass as I had a vague recollection that the film had not been a tremendous success at the box office. But when I heard that Katherine Heigl (who ranks #2 behind J.A. as one of my favorite female actresses) was one of the lead actors, I caved. And what a good decision that turned out to be!
The movie in question is “Life as We Know It” starring KH and Josh Duhamel (JD). You can check out a trailer at http://lifeasweknowitmovie.warnerbros.com/dvd/
In this movie KH and JD play the close friends of a couple who pass away, and who name KH/JD as their baby’s legal guardians. Romantic comedy aside, the movie is a fantastic and very realistic portrayal of the Leap, and how the relationship between the parents can change. As I was watching this movie, both my DH and I were struck by how much the movie reminded us of what it was like to suddenly go from being wanna-be parents to BOOM being parents.
I think the movie really resonated for me because I am an adoptive parent who had very little notice of our pending adoption and I had never really focused on what it would be like to be a parent (let’s face it I spent the entire time wanting a baby and never realistically envisioned what it would be like to have the baby and be a mom). Once the movie really gets past the characters’ acceptance that they are now parents, there are some very insightful moments about the reality of being a parent and how different that reality is from your expectations. Whether or not you take a baby care class as part of your adoption plan, I highly recommend this film because I think that it really shows you — and in a humorous, light-hearted manner — what you are in for when someone hands you that baby! From changing that first poopy diaper, to installing baby gates and midnight runs to the pediatrician, I think that Life as We Know It is a great primer for prospective parents through adoption or assisted reproductive technologies like gestational surrogacy.
Most people who have gone through infertility tend to have blinders on about the reality of parenting. Whether you only have 24 hours notice or ten months to prepare for your baby’s arrival, this film has some very poignant moments about what the transition feels like and what surprising issues parenting can present us with. Best of all it’s fun to watch. It is a surprisingly good romantic comedy, Josh Duhamel is total eye candy (and I won’t hold it against my DH that he thinks Katherine is eye candy too), and it’s sweet, has a happy ending and all that stuff. So if you are on your way to parenthood after experiencing medical or social infertility, I think this movie is a Must See.
And not to totally discredit my intelligence, my DS (Dear Son) has turned me on to SpongeBob SqaurePants. I had the unexpected pleasure this week (while cleaning up a child’s puke) of watching an episode of SpongeBob involving a baby scallop and SpongeBob’s experiences as a new parent. This episode of SpongeBob presents a similarly hysterical and informative perspective of what the Leap is like to being a full time SAHM. I can’t remember the title of the episode off the top of my head (I will check the DVR and post the name of the episode if I can find it), but suffice it to say that I could relate to SpongeBob’s adjustment to caring for a baby all day and all night while Patrick (his best friend) goes off to work every day as they simulate and satirize what its like to be new parents.
I totally and completely remember that in the beginning of my “maternity leave” I had a rough time. By Wednesday night when DH walked through the door, I was an exhausted mess. Thursday night, when DH returned from work and walked-in the door, I handed over DS and went upstairs to have a good exhausted-woman-cry-in-the-shower. By Friday night, I was prepared for the hand-off at the door, and upon hand-off I bolted out of the house to have coffee at Starbucks (decaf of course b/c I was breastfeeding).
So what am I getting at? “Life as we know it” as parents is very different from life as we know it while waiting for the Stork. I don’t really care whether or not you are taking baby care classes or infant CPR (although I think both are excellent ideas) because the reality of life as a new parent is vastly different than anything we can ever learn in school. As infertile prospective parents we tend to be so focused on our goal of becoming parents that we lose sight of what we are in for when we are parents. It is a transition the likes of which you just can’t understand until you are living it and why I call it the Leap. Life As we Know It and even (surprisingly) Master SpongeBob, have nailed it on the head and I highly recommend watching them (when I find out the title of that SpongeBob episode, I will post it and maybe you can find it somewhere and watch it). Both are totally and completely worth watching.
p.s. please note that I am not complaining about being a parent. I love every minute of this crazy, full-catastrophe life I am living! I want more kids and my attitude now is much more about enjoying and being mindful of the joy in this experience. I am just saying that these movies can help prepare you for the full-catastrophe aspect of parenting.
p.p.s. If you have any other movies that you think are good to watch as prospective parents, post them here. Maybe we can start a list of “Movies to Watch During the Wait”!!
January 18, 2011 | By: Liz | Filed under: Check This Out, Current Affairs, Faith and Infertility, In the News, Infertility In The Movies etc., Infertility on Television, IVF, Personal Musings, Recurrent Pregnancy Loss, Thinking Out Loud, Treatment
I’ve said it before and I cannot believe I am saying it again. Why is having a miscarriage something people pretend never happened? Or worse, why are people judged so harshly after having had a miscarriage for not embracing any subsequent pregnancy and being a little bit cautious and tentative about the whole thing?
Yesterday I read an article on some random website announcing that a celebrity had just announced she was pregnant. The article was extremely critical of the fact that she had waited until the 6th month to announce her pregnancy, and commented that it may have been due to the fact that she had suffered a prior miscarriage. It then went on to discuss all sorts of celebrity pregnancy issues. But it was about the third article I have seen recently commenting on a celebrity’s miscarriage. None of the articles were supportive, not even for the one celebrity that was openly going through fertility treatment and then lost a baby. Any miscarriage at any time in pregnancy is awful. As many of you know my final infertility diagnosis was unexplained pregnancy loss (which has since been explained). I had 5 IVF miscarriages (including a pregnancy that started as twins), and I don’t want to tell you how many more I have had on top of that because at some point you just have to stop counting and cope. I have blogged about at least one of them.
I have always been open about my miscarriages and my pregnancies. I am one of those “put it out there” kind of people. But a lot of people choose not to share early pregnancies. They instead choose to wait to make an announcement when they are sure that the pregnancy is viable or the fetus is otherwise healthy. Everyone does it their own way. And as this is a very personal subject, I was offended that this article “accused” this celebrity of failing to disclose her pregnancy earlier. MYOB!
Miscarriage is poorly understood on so many levels. I will blog about the medical aspects later, but for today let’s address the emotional component. I may have blogged about this before but someone recently commented to me that 20 years ago no one even talked about this. My grandmother’s generation suffered in complete silence, often not even sharing the loss of a pregnancy with their spouse!! The fact that we are beginning to talk openly about miscarriage is a huge leap forward.
Did you know that among the fertile population only 20% of all conceptions result in a live birth? That number decreases with age. With so many women choosing to build their families later in life, whether they conceive on their own or with some form of medical assistance, their chances of experiencing a pregnancy loss are much higher. Doctor’s often warn patients who are over 35 not to get excited about a pregnancy until they see a heartbeat on ultrasound because the risk of miscarriage is so high. NOvary™ or not, miscarriage is devastating.
If you ask me, all these women need support, information, and the ability to discuss their grief in whatever manner is most appropriate for them and to do so without criticism! But the fact remains that most people still won’t even admit they had a miscarriage. The entire first trimester of pregnancy is shrouded in secrecy and thus any resulting miscarriage is as well. It is not a personal failure to lose a baby. It is an overwhelming emotional experience whether you are six weeks or six months pregnant. I think people should be able to talk about miscarriage — I think people need to be better educated about pregnancy loss but as noted that is a subject for a different blog post — and not have it be considered something shameful or even worse, “no skin off your nose dear, you were only 7 weeks pregnant, get over it”.
Is it the fear of being shamed that causes us to hide our miscarriages as was true for my grandmother and her generation? Is it the need for privacy and the accompanying silence during the first trimester that causes the secrecy? Or is it the fear of the “just get over it” response that people don’t discuss this topic?
Well, I am going to discuss this topic. I think I have enough experience to have some insight into the emotional aspects of pregnancy loss and I’ve done a ton of research on the topic, both for The Infertility Survival Handbook, my own personal curiosity and now for the revised and updated version of my book.
My final comment of the day is this. Whether we choose to grieve in silence or in public, please don’t attack us for our choice in so doing; you need to understand that it is a tremendous blow to every woman (not to mention her partner) who experiences a pregnancy loss. If you know someone who has shared this information with you, BE SUPPORTIVE.
I was dropping my son off at school recently and there is church nearby where I had parked my car. Alongside the church is a beautiful garden and in that garden there was a headstone that caught my attention. It was a headstone with the picture of a baby in-utero and it was dedicated to all the unborn children in the world. The headstone had the name of a baby who died in utero at about 5 month’s gestation. It wasn’t some pro-life stunt; this was a real headstone for a real fetus who died leaving a family devastated.
If I can do it, I will try and post a picture of the headstone (without the family’s name). I would like to thank that family for putting that headstone there and for the church for allowing it, because I now have a place to go and lay flowers on my “bad” days. Because frankly, my girlfriends don’t get it. This headstone gives me an outlet, a place that recognizes what I and so many others have been through.
And for those of you who have experienced a pregnancy loss you have my empathy and a giant cyber hug. To that celebrity who just announced her pregnancy at 6 months, you have my congratulations. To that cyber author, I can’t post what I think about you, but I do hope that you never have to endure what so many of us have been through.
January 14, 2011 | By: Liz | Filed under: Announcements, Check This Out, Current Affairs, Egg Donation, I'm Just Another Angry Infertile Woman, In the News, Infertility In The Movies etc., IVF, Personal Musings, Thinking Out Loud, Third-Party Assisted Reproduction
I know I haven’t been blogging very much and I know I keep promising that I will. Honestly, I have been trying to determine what type of “voice” I want my blog to have. Do I want to be a voice of comfort, reassurance and peace of mind, do I want to discuss topics that are highly relevant and even personal to me with respect to infertility as I am an infertility warrior, or do I want to speak as an expert in my field and educate people. I suppose I could find a way to do all three and I haven’t yet found the right “pitch” (just continuing the voice metaphor here folks) to launch some knew blogs. And I think I found it.
I try and stay out of highly controversial discussions in my industry and to avoid taking sides unless I feel passionately about the issue. Sometimes blogging backfires (ala Sarah Palin’s recent “hit list” and the resulting death of 15 people). But I have come across another of those issues that MUST be discussed, so I am hereby entering into the foray and it’s along the lines of my “what was Brooke Shields thinking” blogs.
Let’s get real for a moment and turn to a movie reel about egg donation.
I today learned that the “documentary” Eggsploitation was announced to have been nominated as best documentary. When I read this on FaceBook this morning I almost vomitted. For those of you who haven’t seen it . . . and please don’t see it if you are considering either becoming an egg donor or using an egg donor to build a family . . . it is highly inaccurate and inflammatory. Please understand that I am trying to be nice.
The movie is an attempt by right wing, pro-life. Christian conservatives to reveal the “real world of egg donation”. And Honey, it doesn’t. It serves one purpose only, to promote an anti-IVF anti-egg donation agenda. And in my mind it isn’t a documentary unless you are basing your documentary on something with a substantial amount of truth or accuracy. A documentary by one definition is the “creative treatment of actuality”. I will agree to the creative part with respect to this film, but not the actuality part (with one caveat, I will agree that egg donation exists as a means to build a family). Another definition says that a documentary presents the facts with little or no additions. Isn’t it a failure to present the facts if you only present one side, or one statistically insignificant, rare and otherwise atypical aspect of something, i.e. ONE fact when there are many facts to be discussed?
This film is based on untruths, inaccuracies, mythical stories, and an agenda. It veils itself as a documentary in order to lend some false sense of “truth” to the movie’s topic, the exploitation of egg donors and recipient families all to the benefit of the massive money generating industry of reproductive medicine.
The reproductive industry has responded many times in opposition to the film, as have many of my colleagues (for example, here is another blog on the topic http://weblog.prospectivefamilies.com/2011/01/13/what-more-is-there-to-say-about-eggsploitation/ ). I think it’s pretty much a universal sentiment in my world, both professional and personal, that this movie has nothing to do with reality and is serving to mislead the general public about a viable and very successful means of family building, egg donation.
I really think it has gotten to the point that the movie is now exploiting itself for its own financial benefit. They are now twisting all the negative media attention into an argument that if they weren’t so “right” about the industry that there wouldn’t be so many defensive and anti-Eggsploitation blogs/articles/reviews. It’s kind of like the old saying “you know you’ve done something right if they’re shooting at you!” And they are using that to drive more people into movie theaters.
Well I don’t think they’ve done anything right, I am disgusted by the MOVIE, and I am disgusted that anyone would think it was worthy of the title “best” in anything. I haven’t spoken out before because I didn’t want to further publicize this movie and thus encourage people to watch it — even if it is to see how wrong it is.
And for the love of all that is sacred about the word FAMILY, I respectfully request that the movie industry get a grip and get real. Don’t endorse this movie. Many a Hollywood family has been created through the gift of egg donation. Do you really want to slap your egg donor in the face like that? By promoting, endorsing, and casting something that she did to help you have a baby and a family, in such a negative, illicit and patronizing light?
I’m not saying the world of reproductive medicine is perfect. I have some bones to pick with things that happen in the world in which work. And I will cut the producers of this movie and Hollywood some slack and say that if you are going to focus on the very creative aspects of the use of truth to create a dialog (albeit the wrong dialog) then okay maybe this is a documentary. But it’s a documentary that I refuse to endorse on any level.
Someone can, and should, do a better job at looking at the gifts that third party assisted reproduction are giving to infertile families.
Blech Blech Blech.