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Five Hundred Twenty Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes – How do you measure your life in infertility treatment?

March 26, 2015 | By: | Filed under: Deadly Silence, Egg Donation, Faith and Infertility, Infertility Awareness, infertility in the media, IVF, Miscarriage, National Infertility Awareness, Peace to Parenthood, Personal Musings, Recurrent Pregnancy Loss, The Journey to Parenthood, Thinking Out Loud, Third-Party Assisted Reproduction, Treatment, Uncategorized, visualization

 

Five Hundred Twenty Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes

How do you measure your life in infertility treatment?

How do you measure a day, or a year?

 

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred tests
Five hundred twenty five thousand moments, oh dear
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred dollars
How do you measure, measure an IVF year?

In daylights, in sunsets
In phone calls, in cups of coffee
In inches, in pounds, in needles, in surgery
In five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year of infertility?

How about love for the baby you’re creating?
How about love for the people helping you conceive?
How about love for your partner or a friend?
Measure in love

Cycles of love
Cycles of love

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred blood draws
Five hundred twenty five thousand follicles to count
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred heartbeats
How do you measure the life of an infertile woman or a man?

In diagnoses that she learned
Or in times that he cried
In money they lost or the day the baby died?

It’s time now, to sing out
Though the story never ends
Let’s celebrate
Remember a year in the life of our infertile friends

Remember to love
Oh, you got to, you got to remember to love
Remember to love
You know that love is a gift from up above
Remember to love
Share love, give love, spread love
Measure in love
Measure, measure your infertility in love

Cycles of love
Cycles of love
Measure your infertility, measure your life in love

Inspired By Rent — Seasons Of Love, Lyrics

 

 

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The Risk of Choosing The Mindset of Infertility

October 24, 2014 | By: | 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?

Good Question.

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.

INFERTILE  

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.

INFERTILE 

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

I am

POWERFUL

My body is 

POWERFUL

and so is

YOURS!

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Adoption friendliness at its best. How one nurse blew me away and changed how I think about adoption placements.

October 18, 2013 | By: | Filed under: adoption, Faith and Infertility, Peace to Parenthood, Personal Musings, The Journey to Parenthood, Thinking Out Loud, visualization

Adoption is a complex world.  As anyone who is going through the process, or who has gone through the process knows, the legal issues are complicated, the emotional issues are highly charged — about as charged as a scene from the Wile E. Coyote cartoon, where he gets blown-up by accident from the mega tons of TNT he has left to detonate in the path of the Road Runner —  and everyone is walking on pins and needles.  And my description does not begin to adequately address the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of birth parents.   I am NOT comparing birth parents or adoptive parents to the Road Runner or Wile E. Coyote, I am just pointing out that there is a lot of powerful emotional stuff going on in the midst of an adoption, most especially the time around the baby is placed in the arms of the adoptive parents, and the fact that the tension and emotionally charged nature of many adoption situations remind me (on an emotional level) of this cartoon.

Due the highly charged nature of this particular time in the adoption process, many adoptive parents emotionally hold themselves at arm’s length from their new baby until they are told that the legal process is complete and/or that birth parents’ parental rights are terminated.  The time at which birth parent rights get terminated varies from state to state and varies whether you are working with an agency or an attorney.  Indeed the adoptive parents involvement at or around the time of the baby’s birth often varies tremendously based on whether you are working with an agency or an attorney, and even more so among agencies.  Every attorney and agency has their own way of trying to protect everyone’s emotions during what I am going to call the Wile E. Coyote Phase of the adoption process, the period of time after the baby is born and before birth parents’ rights have been terminated and when the baby is “placed” with its** forever family.  It doesn’t mean that I think this time period often results in the detonation of emotional TNT, indeed it is my experience that the vast, vast majority of situations work out after a baby is born.  Some don’t, as I can personally attest to, but most and I repeat MOST do work out and a new [adoptive] family is born.

As an adoptive mother I have always felt that the Wile E. Coyote Phase is perhaps the hardest part of the adoption process.  Not so much because a birth mother can choose to parent during this last and final phase of the adoption process (just as we think we are getting to the proverbial finish line) but because so many of our hopes and dreams have to give way to legal procedures, agency procedures, hospital procedures, adoptive triad dynamics, and it’s just not how we envisioned what it would be like to become a parent.  We have faced this reality for a long time before Wile E. Coyote comes along, but those feelings and dreams tend to creep more to the surface when you are surrendering everything to a process that is almost wholly outside your control.  The only thing in your control is how you react and respond to what is going on around you, and how you choose to feel about it.  However, both from personal and professional experience it is my practice to advise my clients that this is a difficult time period and to try and walk into the placement phase, or Wile E. Coyote Phase, with an open but guarded heart.  And more importantly to let go of all of your expectations of how you think becoming a parent “should” be and do your best to surrender to the process, to Wile E. Coyote.

Yet, a recent experience has set my opinions, thoughts, feelings and my future advice to clients, on it’s HEAD.  I have learned that I have been looking at it the wrong way and thus depriving not only myself of certain experiences, but those of people who look to me for advice and counsel.  One person has totally shifted my perspective of the Wile E. Coyote Phase.

What happened?  Great question.

Approaching the end of the Wile E. Coyote Phase, an adoptive couple** was getting ready for their baby to be discharged from the hospital.  The birth parents had signed all of their legal consents to the adoption and although they were not yet legally binding under the laws of this particular state, as the birth parents still needed to appear before a Judge and agree to the adoption and the termination of their parental rights,  it was time for the adoptive parents** to take the baby “home” to their hotel to wait out the remainder of the Road Runner’s race and the Wile E. Coyote Phase.  After carefully dressing the baby and getting it** settled into its car seat, the adoptive dad** was sent to the parking lot to get the car.  Adoptive mom**, after finishing packing up their belongings, reached to get the baby and the car seat, preparing to walk out of the hospital and get in the car to go to the hotel.  As she scooped up the car seat the nurse came in and asked adoptive mom what she was doing.  Of course adoptive mom’s heart stopped; she immediately began worrying that Wile E. Coyote had just detonated some or all of his TNT.  With her heart in her throat, adoptive mom calmly turned to the nurse and said she had been instructed be her attorney and the pediatrician that they could go to their hotel with the baby, she believed she had signed all the necessary paperwork, and inquired if there was some kind of a problem.  Indeed there was said this nurse, at which point the nurse asked the adoptive mom what gave her the right to walk out of the hospital with the baby?  Confused, the adoptive mom asked the nurse what she meant.

The nurse — being extremely emotionally intelligent and adoption friendly, and my current heroine — explained that: “NO NEW MOTHER WALKS out of this hospital.  Please wait while I get you a wheelchair.”

Now I don’t know about any of you other infertile ladies or adoptive moms but one of my personal dreams has always involved being wheeled out of the hospital holding my baby in my arms.  I still cry at scenes like the one in the movie “Marley and Me” where Jennifer Aniston’s character is holding their new baby girl in her arms in a wheelchair while Owen Wilson’s character video tapes the scene.  I never got that experience and while I wouldn’t change a thing in my life, you know I am honest about this stuff and it makes me sad that there are certain dreams that I have had to let go of along my journey to parenthood.  Heck, I was jealous when I walked along side our birth mother after we were discharged from the hospital as she was the one in the wheelchair holding the baby in the car seat, not me.  Never mind the fact that she was holding my hand so that we were walking together.  I wanted to be the one in the wheelchair and I had to accept that I wasn’t, and I probably was never going to experience that particular dream.  I don’t think I am alone in harboring this little secret that one of the things I had dreamed about while growing up was that wheelchair ride.  And that wheelchair ride is not something adoptive mothers get to experience.  Or so I previously thought, believed and experienced.

Back to the hospital, adoptive mom argues with the nurse that she didn’t give birth to the baby and didn’t need the wheelchair; she was “only” the adoptive mother, certainly the hospital must need the wheelchair for someone else?  But the nurse wouldn’t relent.  She didn’t care a wit about adoptive mom’s “labor experience”, or lack thereof.  The nurse was very clear with adoptive mom that regardless of the circumstances by which she was becoming a mother adoptive mom was THE MOM, and as a MOM, a NEW MOM, she was to be discharged just like any other new mother;  ALL NEW MOTHERS get discharged in a wheelchair.  They continued to discuss this issue until the nurse brought everything to a head and asked adoptive mom: “don’t you want to be discharged in a wheelchair like any other mother would be?  Don’t you want that experience for yourself?”  Crying, adoptive mom admitted she would love to be discharged in a wheelchair.  At which point the nurse instructed that MOM had better get a hold of DAD so he could video record their exiting the hospital with MOM holding the baby in its car seat in the wheelchair.

The point was not lost on me nor was it lost on adoptive mom.  We are all new mothers no matter how our babies come to us and we are entitled to have our dreams come true regardless of the manner in which we become parents.  The fact that this nurse understood the grieving process adoptive mother’s often go through, and the importance of our dreams, is a testament to her education and experience.  Perhaps she herself adopted, or she knows someone who has, or even more to her credit perhaps she just understands how important are some of the images women hold of the milestones of our lives and recognize that without that wheelchair ride we may be reminded — even if it’s on some small level in comparison to the joy and gratitude in our hearts — that our path didn’t take the turns we expected.  Whatever the reason, this nurse got me thinking about how important moments like that are, especially during the Wile E. Coyote Phase, and how much of a celebration we are missing by giving so much power to that cartoon of a coyote.

That wheelchair ride brought profound joy and a sense of celebration to adoptive mom and adoptive dad, and may well provide something even larger than that to the baby.  As that baby grows up and asks to hear its adoption story, that baby will get to see an image that all of its “bio-baby” friends probably get/got to see.  But I am not just talking about mom and dad leaving the hospital in the wheelchair carefully holding that car seat, I am talking about the utter joy, bliss and excitement on mom’s and dad’s faces as they left the hospital.  To be able to see that excitement — which existed long before the baby’s birth — and the pure joy the baby’s parents were experiencing as they brought their new baby home, helps that baby/child understand how much it was wanted and how much love its parents’ hold in their hearts.  Other aspects of our children’s adoption story will express those emotions, but a picture truly says a thousand words, and videos even more so.  In this case I think that video probably is one of the most valued and treasured pieces of their journey to parenthood.

There are so many levels on which that wheelchair ride takes my breath away.  I long to meet this nurse and thank her, not only for what she did for these adoptive parents but for what she has done for their family, for me, and for the new approach I am beginning to take to the Wile E. Coyote Phase of the adoption process.

I am curious to know how many other adoptive parents have been given this wheelchair ride.  If you have, please post something in reply to this blog or email me privately (Liz@storklawyer.com).  If you wish you had that wheelchair ride, and are as moved as I am by what this nurse did, please let me know that too.  And if you want to have that wheelchair ride  ASK FOR IT.  Because as that nurse said, every new mother deserves to leave the hospital in a wheelchair (assuming that is what the new mother wants).  I recognize that not all adoptions are going to provide circumstances that enable an adoptive mom to have that wheelchair ride, but in those circumstances that do permit it, this nurse has taught me even more about all the nuances involved in the fact that biology alone doesn’t make a family, and a new understanding that we are not as powerless as we may feel, that we don’t have to give up all of our dreams, all of the time.

My final thought or comment of this blog is to all of the nurses in all of the maternity wards who are involved with or helping an adoptive family, if you don’t or can’t offer that wheelchair ride, please consider the thoughts and feelings identified in this blog and consider changing or working to change things so that more of us new moms get that wheelchair ride.

Because we deserve to have that experience.

 

** general terms have been used in this blog on purpose to help identify roles in the adoption process and emotions related thereto, but without any intent to devalue or belittle the roles of the people who enter into adoption plans every day.



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The Burning Pain of Infertility

April 1, 2013 | By: | Filed under: Deadly Silence, Faith and Infertility, I'm Just Another Angry Infertile Woman, Personal Musings, The Journey to Parenthood, Thinking Out Loud, Uncategorized, visualization

Infertility brings with it many kinds of pain.  The pain of an empty uterus could be used as the catch-all category for the pain we infertile folk feel, but really it can and should be broken down into more palatable and discussable categories. I don’t know about you, but I find that whole empty uterus thing to be a bit patronizing (although true).  So let’s explore the burning pains of infertility, those that are momentary and those that haunt us sometimes years after we ended treatment, those that come and go along with our menstrual cycle, and those that blindside us when we have failed to read The Infertility Survival Handbook and obtain a first hand account of whatever procedure you are undergoing.  I mean let’s face, I have been THERE, and I have done THAT.  All of THAT.  And I get the pain.  Even now.

There is the pain of daily injections (momentary) and from transvaginal ultrasound wands (slightly longer than momentary but nonetheless uncomfortable when one’s ovaries are the size of large oranges and someone is poking at them). There is the unbearable pain of a hysterosalpinogram when you have blocked fallopian tubes (or a sadistic doctor who tries to open your fallopian tubes without advance warning — and for what it’s worth the advance warning just would have made it worse).  And the devastating pain which follows a miscarriage.

There is pain, before, during and after fertility treatment and there is no getting around it.  There is no getting around the pain of a miscarriage, but the lessons we learn from it can make the pain more bearable.  (And for what its worth I think “the lessons we learn from it” also is a bit patronizing.  My apologies but I couldn’t find another way of describing what I want to talk about).

Even in the early days of trying to conceive — the pre-IVF days — there is pain.  The pain in the arse of taking your temperature every dang morning (thankfully the pain isn’t actually in your arse now that they have these wonderful digital thermometers which can help chart your basal body temperature).  And of course there is the pain of toilet paper.

What say you?  The pain of toilet paper?  Indeed my friend.  The pain from toilet paper burn, or TPB for short.  TPB is brought on by the obsessive compulsive mentality that we sometimes wander into when our period is due and we are trying to make a baby.  Any color on that toilet paper might be a telltale sign of our impending motherhood so you don’t want to miss it.  There might even be diagnostic value to the color which would help your doctor determine if there is something going on, or going wrong with your menstrual cycle.  So, for those of us who tend to wander into OCD territory (who me??), TPB can become a real hazard.  And as I recently discovered, it can become a hazard even when you aren’t trying to make a baby.

Now, the average woman going to the bathroom does not wipe obsessively, nor does she pay much attention to the process, technique or results involved in use of TP.  Such is not the case for a woman going through infertility treatment.  There is a significant amount of attention paid to the process, there are several different techniques for wiping (all of which are designed to reassure the crazed woman in the loo that she is not getting her period), and the results are quite obviously, critical.  Many a woman has called a friend or perhaps even a nurse to discuss the details of a particular swipe of TP and the medical analysis or conclusion that should be drawn therefrom.  Stop laughing or rolling your eyes.  This is serious.  When you have lost all control over your reproductive capabilities and you are going through emotionally and physically challenging medical procedures, the littlest sign that something has gone wrong (or perhaps gone right if it’s implantation spotting) has tremendous potential impact on your life.  In the absence of HPT’s, TP becomes a valid and useful substitute for self-monitoring during the post ovulatory or post embryo transfer phase of a cycle.

Why are we discussing TPB as one of the many representations of the pain of infertility? Well recently I had the displeasure of being reminded about it, but not under the circumstances you might think.  Rather, I experienced TPB out of fear that I was going into menopause.  Now let’s be clear.  I am not in menopause, nor am I perimenopausal (well I suppose Dr. C might argue otherwise simply by virtue of my advanced maternal age).  But as the window begins to close on my access to fertility treatments, and as I continue to wrestle with thoughts of going back for one last try, the thought of menopause is, well, frightening.  It’s one thing to have lost the ability to independently reproduce and/or carry to term due to infertility (i.e. without Dr. C).  It’s another thing to have my entire reproductive system close up shop and move to Miami.

Now the rational part of my brain understands that the last several months of my personal life have been subject to profound and extreme stress.  I have always prided myself on the fact that my menstrual cycle is regular to a fault.  The only time I have ever been late, I was pregnant.   But there is always a first time for everything, and so a couple of months ago I missed a month.  Then another month.  I didn’t need to take an HPT because I knew I hadn’t ovulated (let’s just say that after TTC for 7 years some habits die hard, especially if you are a fan of Toni Weschler).  My sane brain was telling me that the reason I hadn’t ovulated was from stress.  My OCD, however, kicked-in into high gear and I was rapidly becoming obsessed by the fear that my days being of “reproductive age” were dwindling. And the longer I went without a visit from Aunt Flow, the more the OCD took over.  How ironic. TPB brought on not by the fear that I wasn’t pregnant (and the hope that I was) but rather that I was in menopause.  Despite repeated attempts at convincing myself I was overreacting, I kept making trips to the loo and quite quickly (haven forgotten good TP technique) I had a significant case of TPB.

I finally decided I needed to decompress and meditate.  So I did. I meditated, I did yoga, I slept, and I paid more attention to eating things other than Snicker’s bars.  And I ovulated.  Or so I thought.  Going by the fertility bible written by Toni Weschler the signs were clear.  But I wasn’t 100% sure.  And so, 11 days after my suspected ovulation I was back rolling through TP, making extra trips to CVS to buy an emergency six pack of TP, and this time relearning my TP technique.  And yet I still felt the burn.  And finally, when I could stand the TPB no more, she arrived.  Precisely 14 days after the day that I thought I had ovulated (and let me extend my never ending thanks to Toni Weschler for teaching me so much about my ovulatory cycle).

I write this neither because this experience with TPB has led me to once again revisit the status of my own family building and a continued longing for another child, nor because I am working through my fears of the inevitability of menopause and that one day my reproductive years will come to a close (although technically the fact that the NOvary has put a “closed-gone fishin’ sign” on the front door does not mean I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant with some medical assistance), but because I was so struck by the way infertility and the quirky little habits and tricks we use to cope with it — TPB — endure.  TPB also is symbolic of the loss of control and fear that we live with when we are infertile.

In the end, I am grateful for that recent opportunity to experience TPB.  It is helping me work through those last remaining “what-if” thoughts which linger after you move on, after you stop treatment without a baby in your belly.  But it also reminded me of how many women are out there running the race to the loo and counting the days until they can take an HPT or get their blood drawn for their beta.  I am glad I had my little TPB encounter because it has once again helped me connect with my clients and understand what they are going through.

For everything unwanted (a negative pregnancy test), there is something wanted (a positive pregnancy test).  For every swipe of TP that remains spotless we need to remember to focus on the spotlessness in front of us and even glory in it, be excited by it, by the expectation of it; and not give in to the fear of the appearance of a spot on another swipe of TP and/or the end of a dream whether for that month or longer.  In the face of a spotted or soaked piece of TP we need to try and remind ourselves to stay focused on the day when we find out we will go months without worrying about TPB or better yet, no longer care.  My somewhat random fear of menopause has served to remind me that all of this, including menopause, is meaningless. Instead of looking at the burning pains of infertility as a negative, at TPB as a negative, I am instead looking for all the positives they reveal.  Without all those trips to the loo, I wouldn’t be here today, with the career I have, the family I have, and without the intense sense of inner peace that my recent bought of TPB has brought to my my life.  Yes the pain of infertility burns.  But through the ashes left behind after the burning subsides, there is birth, or in my case, a rebirth.

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How art imitates and informs our life as prospective parents.

May 26, 2011 | By: | 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”!!

 



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