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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 painful silence of recurrent pregnancy loss and stillbirth. A first hand perspective and perhaps finally, a voice.

February 15, 2013 | By: | 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 

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A Book on Adoption By Emily Giffin — and i’m too scared to read it!

July 30, 2012 | By: | Filed under: adoption

Everyone who knows me, really knows me, knows I am sucker for all things Emily Giffin (I mean we have sooo much in common . . . you do know I said that tongue in cheek right?  although the similarities in our lives, associate in a big law firm turned author of best selling book . . . although admittedly she’s had slightly better publishing success than I), and that I like Danielle Steel too.  There I have outed myself.  Chic lit and romance novels are my thing.

But Emily Giffin’s new book, Where we Belong, has adoption and reunion of birth mother and adoptee as it it’s theme.  I respect Ms. Giffin tremendously.  She did a fantastic job addressing infertility and child bearing in Baby Proof as noted in a previous blog; and I understand from discussions with colleagues that Ms. Giffin interviewed reproductive lawyers and perhaps other professionals in the world of ART in order to properly address issues of infertility in Baby Proof.  So I’m guessing that she probably did a really good job researching adoption and is nothing but politically correct, sensitive and thoughtful when writing about this very delicate topic.  (If it’s okay by you, I’m just going to call her Emily.  She is after all my soul sister.)  I see on Emily’s FaceBook page that people are asking her if she will do a sequel so it must be good.  But are any of those people who are asking for a sequel part of an adoption triad or an adoption professional????

I have read so many books and articles that are written by people with good intentions but nonetheless totally botch the job when it comes to adoption language and/or addressing the emotions and feelings that come up for people in adoption triads.  I won’t mention the titles here — why bad mouth a book you might enjoy — but I have had to put a couple of them down and just agree to disagree with the author.  Anyone who knows me also knows that once I start a book I HAVE to finish it no matter how bad or boring is the tombe.  I am that anal that I will force myself, yes force myself, to finish something I hate.  Even on a beach on a vacation, I will force myself to gut through the last few pages of a book which I think is really awful.  So I am very careful these days about what I will read.  Knowing that I am committed from start to finish I only can choose books that I feel will truly entertain or enlighten.  And thus, I do my research and read reviews and blogs (and FaceBook pages) to see what people think.  So far, Where We Belong gets amazing reviews.  And yet, I won’t download it to my tablet or buy it  . . . what’s up with that?

I guess I am really afraid that Emily will hurt me or bring up emotions that I would rather not face.  I am after all, an adoptive mother and one who feels very strongly about the use of positive adoption language and who wishes that adoption came without bittersweet feelings or even shall we say, threatening feelings.  I worry about legislation that will open adoption records that currently are sealed and thus create a greater potential for dramas like the one portrayed in Where We Belong to unfold for my friends.  (btw, I “get” both sides of the argument to open adoption records, and while I have my own opinion on this topic I do respect those who don’t share it, so please don’t spam me on this particular topic, I leave this up to legislators and their constituents to figure out whether it’s right or wrong, good or bad).

I also really care about the birth mothers I have represented and knowing what they go through, I can only imagine how they would feel — especially those who wanted a closed adoption or less contact with the adoptive family — if one day the child they placed for adoption knocked on their proverbial door.

And please let’s also be clear, I hate the term “gave up for adoption” . . . this term runs rampant throughout reviews of Emily’s book so I am worried she uses it IN the book.  Please remember that this is a decision someone makes and it is NOT an easy decision for anyone.  Birth mothers have “placed” their child for adoption, a term which hopefully is more respectful of their decision to enter into an adoption, as opposed to “gave up” or “give away” which makes it sound like babies are a commodity and birth mothers don’t care about what happens to their baby.  “Gee, I think I’ll just give this baby away today . . . ”  I think NOT.  I hate this terminology and while I never know what is right or wrong and often worry about what words I use with my own clients and in my family, I really don’t think this one particular term is respectful to birth mothers.

And as I have recently discovered it’s not even politically correct to call my clients who are considering making an adoption plan for their baby, a birth mother.  These women now request or prefer to be called “emoms”.  An emom is a woman who is expecting a baby and is considering placing her baby for adoption.  I would strongly suspect that emoms don’t consider what they are thinking about doing (emphasis here on thinking) to be “giving up” or “giving away” . . .  This is such a highly charged issue with advocates for both terms that I suspect just by talking about this language I am going to get a ton of hate email.

And I have already upset myself thinking about adoption language and whether Emily used it appropriately . . . As a result of my discussion of terminology I have relived allot of what my own family, and our adoption triads, have gone through, as well as some of the adoptions my office has handled . . . I can’t even write a blog about this topic without getting myself upset and disjointed, so how am I going to do reading this book?  And I HAVE to finish it if I start it . . . And yes, I know that’s ridiculous and nutty and if I don’t like a book I should put it down, but that’s just not ME people.  I am nothing if not thorough (and loyal) right through to the end.

F*&^k.  I love Emily’s work and I feel I have a professional obligation to read and review this book.  And yet I am scared sh!tless at the thought of reading it.  But read it I must.  Right? Wrong?

Crap.  What to do . . . stay tuned.

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Why does Jennifer Aniston’s quest to be a mother inspire me so?

August 19, 2010 | By: | Filed under: Current Affairs, Egg Donation, Faith and Infertility, In the News, Infertility In The Movies etc., Peace to Parenthood, Personal Musings, The Journey to Parenthood, Thinking Out Loud, Uncategorized, visualization

Everyone knows that I am fan of Jennifer’s.  I actually probably wouldn’t be married to my DH if it wasn’t for some advice her mom gave me a long time ago.  But seriously, Jennifer is an extraordinary woman in all respects, and from my perspective even more so for the way she is approaching her quest to be a mom.

At 41, most of know that Jennifer is likely to be facing some fertility issues (although with her health conscious lifestyle and yoga-bod maybe she’s found the way to turn back time, she sure looks it anyway!).  While most of us would be doing a little freak-out dance now, and panicking about the ticking time bomb that are our ovaries, Ms. Aniston seems anything but panicked.  In fact, she seems rather Zen about it all.  And that is exactly my point and what inspires me.

First, the woman KNOWS she is going to be a mom.  One way or another the woman has total and complete faith that she will become a mom.  Rather than spiraling into depression (as I did and many of us do), Jennifer has seemed to have found a way to let go and TRUST.  This is, I think, the gateway to success.

I really truly believe that it is when you completely accept and embrace the concept that you will be a mother, no matter what and no matter how (IUI, IVF, IVF donor egg, gestational surrogacy, adoption, whatever is your path), that fertility treatments have the highest success rates.  Study after study shows that the mind-body connection cannot and should not be ignored.  Women who are able to be in the place that Jennifer Aniston seems to be in, are the women who are more likely to succeed with fertility treatments.  It’s fact not fiction.  I know — as does JA — that she’s got an edge on success that I wish more of my friends and clients had: The inner-knowingness of the inevitability of their impending state of motherhood.

Another thing that I think sets her apart from many of us (and I include myself in this group when I was in the first 4 or 5 years of treatment), is that by all media accounts, she seems fairly open to many different paths to parenthood.  I am not privy to her conversations with her BFF’s but I am guessing that there isn’t much she isn’t considering about how she’s going to become a mom.  That too puts her on the fast track to “mommydom”.  Not all of us can be as enlightened and confident as she is, and I am not saying that she doesn’t have her moments of . . . doubt  . . . but I really think that the confidence and openness that Jennifer Aniston is talking about whenever she is interviewed about becoming a mom is something that tells me it ain’t gonna be long before she’s announcing the arrival or the impending arrival of a little baby Aniston.

And for what its worth, I think she’s a fantastic role model for every woman, single or married, over the age of 35 who’s trying to become a mom.

ASSUME IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN, AND IT WILL.

p.s. and when you can’t totally assume it will happen, fake it, fake it until you make-it  . . . because that’s another sure fire way to get your mommy-Zen fire burning.

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What do you want Mother’s Day to be like when you are a mom?

May 7, 2010 | By: | Filed under: Peace to Parenthood, visualization

You are probably being inundated with blog posts right now, and articles about how to cope with Mother’s Day while you’re waiting to become a mother.  The last Mother’s Day I spent before I became a mother, I spent it at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Puerto Rico where Charlie took me for the weekend right before our next IVF cycle started.  I spent the weekend doing my Lupron injections and drinking Pina Coladas and beer by the pool (sorry Dr. Chung, I know you said no alcohol!! oops).  Charlie went hiking.  Neither of us was in much mood to deal with the holiday so we escaped.  I got pregnant with twins that IVF cycle and shortly after miscarrying the pregnancy decided to adopt.  What I didn’t know then that I know now is that there is a far more productive means of escaping.  Instead of drowning your sorrows or hiding, visualize how you want Mother’s Day to be when you are a mom.

Charlie keeps asking me what I want to do this Mother’s Day.  I don’t know.  Breakfast in bed brought on a tray by my little boy sounds too cliche.  And the kitchen will just be a disaster that I get to clean up.  Instead, I have been visualizing future mother’s days and trying to create a rich memory for this year.  I am trying to create the perfect Mother’s Day in my head.

I asked for a trip to the gardening store and extra hands in our garden so that I can plant things that grow.  I want to celebrate this year’s Mother’s Day by making the earth rich and fertile and creating life that I can look at outside the kitchen window when I am doing dishes later this summer and be reminded of Mother’s Day.  I am trying to decide what flowers and plants I want to put in.

Mother’s Day has different meanings to all of us.  It is an especially painful holiday when your womb and arms are empty, when your power to reproduce or be a mother is in someone else’s hands.  But you do have power to visualize what it will be like when you are a mother and in so doing, by creating every detail down to the smells and textures, to the exhaustion you will feel at the thought of cleaning up the mother’s day mess in the kitchen, you help speed your way to its manifestation.  Create your future mother’s day and write it down.  Live it in your head.  Don’t for a second doubt it will be real.  The flowers this year are only a start for me.  I need to visualize more Mother’s days, with more babies.  Where will I be then, what flowers will I be planting?

And you know what, as I am writing this, I remember that my first Mother’s Day as a mother, I planted a rose bush in the garden of the house we were renting.  I had made a promise to myself before my very first IVF cycle that I would thank the earth and plant something to remember that time in my life.  I totally forgot about that.  WOW.   Maybe this is my way of celebrating.  But clearly, that promise has been realized.  Yours will be too.  And mine will be again.

So, what does your perfect Mother’s day look like?

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