Please note on your readers that I have a new blog: http://nowaystosayit.com.

If you have any questions, you can email me at katieschaber (at) gmail.com.

Thank you for all of your support over the years! xo

Sunday, October 31, 2010

mom, me, and halloween

My mom hates Halloween.

I don't know why. She's always felt this way. But she never let on to this fact when we were kids. She was super mom. She was the mom who spent weeks helping my brother and I plan (and sometimes make) our costumes. Sewing, coloring, hair, makeup, fake blood. Whatever we wanted to be, she made it happen. As we grew older and Halloween became a night we spent with our friends rather than our family, Mom's "excitement" over the holiday dwindled to a dull roar. She still handed out candy and helped us put together our costumes, but it was during this time of my life when I realized that Halloween was simply not her favorite day of the year.

Me? I loved Halloween. This day was exciting when I was a kid. I could be whatever I wanted to be - (though I deeply regret the year I wanted to be a pink crayon). When I got into high school and college, Halloween was always a valid excuse for a party with close friends. And when Joey and I got engaged and started talking about children, I imagined walking down a sidewalk with other moms, admiring the different costumes and discussing trivial matters like how long it took to put the outfit together or how many times our child changed his or her mind about what to dress up as.

No offense to my mom, but I don't want to hate Halloween. I don't want to be the only woman in the neighborhood who has no face to paint, no tiny hand to hold while trick-or-treating, and no candy to sort through at the end of the night. And I don't want my mom to be the miserable lady who hates this day. I want her to be the grandma who helps me sew my child's costume together. I want her to help me be the super mom that she was on this holiday when I was growing up. Halloween shouldn't be over for her. She should have to endure years more of everything that comes with this day - and so should I.

Instead, tonight, I sit at home in my pajamas. I take deep, shallow breaths through the pain of my cyst and cramps, munch on candy, and think about how different my life could be. Meanwhile, my mom sits at home, porch light off, most likely drinking a glass of wine on her couch - both of us eager to put this holiday behind us.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

virtual reality

The Washington Post published an interesting article the other day about infertility and Facebook. I don't think I've ever talked about Facebook on my blog, but it's something I've talked about with members of this community privately and it's an oft-discussed topic in our Resolve support group meetings.

I love living in the year 2010 - the technology age. I think, most of the time, the fact that our world is a smaller place is a good thing. It helps us to know that we are not the only ones struggling. It helps us to feel less vulnerable. It helps others to understand that infertility is real, and it is an important issue. And, of course, no one can ignore the medical opportunities available thanks to technology. There are more family-building options at our disposal now than ever before. I think I can say with certainty that for many of you who've been blessed with children, your blessing may not exist if you didn't live in an age where (almost) anything is possible.

But there are downfalls to constantly being connected. The line that once existed between work and personal hours is now blurry. Web site headlines around the globe feature a small news story of little importance. And the ultrasound photos and weekly status updates of your cousin's pregnancy - which, ten years ago, you would never see or read - are now "top news" on your Facebook feed.

Of course, we know that this action isn't intentional. No one is sitting at home thinking, "I can't wait to post pictures of my big, pregnant belly and upset all of my friends who can't have children." (At least, we hope no one is thinking that.) But the unexpectedness of it is still painful. We aren't the only ones who suffer from Facebook frustrations. As The Post pointed out, "Chronically single people may envy friends' wedding pictures, for instance, and those who've lost a spouse can feel overwhelmed by friends' wedding anniversary announcements." Much like the woman who has lost her husband reading a status update about a friend's wedding anniversary, imagine what it would feel like to log on to Facebook and see someone complaining about their weight gain during pregnancy or the sleepless nights with their newborn baby - just days after losing your own child. Unfortunately, some of you don't have to imagine what that agony feels like. You've experienced it first hand.

The virtual world presents a new challenge to how we handle - or don't handle - sensitivity. It's one thing to tell a friend that you feel uncomfortable over the constant baby talk when the two of you are together. It's another thing to tell a friend that their Facebook posts make you uncomfortable. Unlike with in-person communication, the etiquette for virtual communication is fuzzy. When someone posts a status or a photo, he or she is posting it in his or her space. The only way in which they are bringing it into your space is through your virtual connection. If that person were not on your friends’ list, you wouldn't have access to that information.

So, while I get that there are painful aspects to social networking in regards to infertility, I don't think we can place the blame on the information provider. We choose to log on and stay connected with that person. By choosing to interact with the pregnant woman or the new mom, we are choosing to open ourselves up to the possibility of a painful post or photo - one that will remind us of what we've yet to achieve or what we've lost.

Facebook and I go through stages. There are moments when I don't feel compelled to click the "hide" button, and then there are times when I've deactivated my account for a period of time - afraid that one more photo of a smiling baby will send me into some hormonally induced breakdown. And there have been instances, though rare, that I've deleted people. In these cases, the friendship had already fizzled.

This isn't to say that the solution is to remove these people from our friends' list, delete our profiles, or cut these individuals out of our lives all together (though you may feel some or all of these steps are necessary, and that's okay). It's just to say that we have to protect ourselves. As much as I would love Facebook to create a message warning me of new "baby" posts before I log in, I know that I am my only filter. Forget baby showers and holiday parties - Facebook is what self-preservation is all about. This virtual reminder is something we encounter every day, and we must find a way to cope. Whether this means doing something as small as limiting our time on social networking sites or doing something as drastic as ending a friendship, our sanity is at stake.

At least someone is finally recognizing it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

a post about giving up

I hope you haven't given up.

This is what my inbox screamed at me last Thursday afternoon.

Okay, so my inbox didn't scream at me. Nor did it write that message. But someone did, and I never knew that I could analyze six words so much.

What is that supposed to mean? Why doesn't she want me to give up? Have I given up? 

The truth is, all of these thoughts (and more) went through my mind as I stared at that message. I know it wasn't intended to be hurtful, but it sort of was. It made me feel . . . well, like I was a failure.

In a way, we are failures. We never succeeded in making a baby, and we never exhausted our options. I have that feeling of letdown every single day. Sometimes I need no reminders. Sometimes my reminder is going through my reader and seeing how many women have babies or are in their final stages of pregnancy - women who I started this journey with nearly two and a half years ago. 

And sometimes, my reminders are messages like the one above. They are reminders that I am not the only one who is disappointed. My husband is disappointed that he is not a father. My mom is disappointed that she is not a grandmother. Reminders like these expand my feeling of letdown beyond my own broken heart. They make me realize that this failure to succeed has let down others, too. 

I can deal with letting myself down, for the most part. What I can't deal with is letting down others. I can deal with accepting my fate. What I can't deal with is people thinking that I've given up. 

Putting it like that makes it so negative, so final. I'm not a quitter. I don't give up.

But would it be so wrong if I did?

Monday, October 25, 2010

checking in

First, I just wanted to say thank you all for the sweet comments and good thoughts. I'm still alive. I have moments of slight improvement, and moments when I feel as though my balloon of an ovary is about to burst. I called to check in with my RE on Thursday, and they called me to check in on Friday. Basically, there is nothing we can do unless the pain gets worse again. If it does, I'm probably looking at surgery. For now, it's all still "wait and see." Right now, I'm waiting for AF to arrive. She will determine when my ultrasound is. My ultrasound will determine whether the fluid is still there. And whether the fluid is still there will determine what exactly happens next.

So, for now, I'm here. I'm taking it easy. And I'm hashing out a blog post or two for the week.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

my letter to the hospital

To Whom it May Concern:

On Tuesday, October 19, 2010, I visited Express Family Clinic around 6 pm after experiencing sudden and severe abdominal pain. When an x-ray showed a mass on my left side - stretching from my ovary upward into my chest - the clinic advised me to seek immediate medical attention at an emergency room. I arrived at Florida Hospital East at approximately 7:30 pm, and I gave the ER staff the note from urgent care. I waited for over three hours. Finally, sometime between 10:30 and 11 pm, I opted to leave after I was told for the third time by a staff member that they didn't know when I would or could be seen.

The mass was blood and fluid from an ovarian cyst that had ruptured - a cyst caused by my endometriosis (of which I informed the ER staff) and a cyst that was disrupting my bowels. Had the cyst contained more blood, I would have needed surgery. If the cyst was large enough, I could have lost my ovary. But "could have" and "would have" shouldn't matter here. Ultimately, I should never have waited three hours in such excruciating pain. Florida Hospital East advertises a 60-minute or less emergency room wait. Your marketing and public relations department should consider discontinuing this campaign. While I was checked in within 60 minutes of my arrival, I never saw a doctor. In fact, as I was leaving, they were calling back a patient who arrived at the hospital one hour before I did. Another patient, who was brought in via ambulance after being hit by a car, was still sitting in a wheelchair in the waiting room - ice on his knee, his arms covered in dried blood.

My experience with emergency rooms in this area is limited. My only other emergency care visit occurred with my husband last year, when I took him to Dr. Phillips Hospital for what we later learned was a kidney stone. We were in and out in less than three hours. So, in the time that it took for me to bleed internally in your waiting room, Orlando Health treated and released my husband for a much more minor issue.

I think it's safe to say that my experience was less than pleasant. In the future, when it comes to my urgent health, I will not choose Florida Hospital - and I will encourage others to do the same. My reproductive endocrinologist, who diagnosed the rupture, told me I was incredibly lucky this time. I don't think I'm willing to trust Florida Hospital with a "next time."

Sincerely,

Your worst fucking nightmare (Not really. But I wish.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

the last 28 hours

Yesterday at 4:30 pm: Sudden, intense, incredibly sharp pain in my left ovary - unlike the dull, throbbing pain from the past couple of weeks. I'd just been helping a coworker set up for an event when it happened. I couldn't breathe. I was doubled over and holding back tears. The pain radiated through my abdomen and chest.

5:30 pm: Clock out time, and I'm still in pain. I decide to head straight to urgent care.

6 pm: Check in at urgent care. They get me right back and (shocker!) insist on a pregnancy test. Negative. The doctor decides to take a chest x-ray of my abdomen. The doc sees a large "sack" stretching from my left ovary up into my chest. She tells me to get to an emergency room. It's possibly the sac is air, and that I have an obstructed bowel.

6:45 pm: Meet Joey at home and head to the hospital.

7:30 pm: At the hospital. Checked in. Let the waiting commence.

8 pm: Waiting.

9 pm: Waiting.

10 pm: Waiting.

Sometime between 10:30 and 11 pm: The hospital staff tells Joey, in his final visit to the registration desk, that they don't know when they can see me. The guy sitting next to the desk, who was brought in about 20-30 minutes after I was via ambulance, tells Joey he was HIT BY A CAR. He's been bleeding in the ER for over two hours and hasn't been seen.

We both tell the ER staff to go fuck themselves and leave.

8 am: After a night of minimal sleep, the pain is slowly improving. Still unconvinced that this is a bowel issue, I decide to call my RE.

11:30 am: The nurse calls me back. I have an appointment for 1:45 pm.

1:45 pm: Vital signs taken. High BP, high pulse, and a fever. RE listens to my bowel signs. Minimal, he says, but he doesn't think that's it either. Time for the ultrasound.

SURPRISE.

Ruptured ovarian cyst. Luckily, I had minimal internal bleeding. Doc's orders: no spicy foods, no greasy foods, and no strenuous activity. I will report to the hospital immediately if my fever increases, if my pain increases, or if I have trouble pooping. (Ha!) I must call tomorrow and give him an update, regardless, and he'll see me back on CD 5, 6, or 7 to see if the fluid is gone . . . and to see if the fluid he saw toward my right ovary is endo related.

Morals of this story? Don't be a jackass like me and ignore your pain. Go with your gut instinct. And, if you live in Orlando, never go to Florida Hospital East.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

hostile uterus

These are the words that Meredith Grey said over and over again during last week's episode of Grey's Anatomy.

I knew I'd hate how they would handle their bandwagon-jumping infertility subplot. I knew it before this season began. In the final episode of last season, Meredith finds out she's pregnant, then promptly miscarries while Derek undergoes a life-saving surgery after he is shot by a disgruntled widower of a former patient. Did you follow that? In equally dramatic fashion, someone in the OR says, "Meredith, you're bleeding." Because, uh, you know miscarrying always means gushing blood out of your vagina for all to see. Meredith replies, calmly, "I'm having a miscarriage." Because, also, you would know you are having one immediately. And you'd be calm about it. That was that. The season ended.

Obviously, the topic continued into this season, and I told several people after the premiere that I "wouldn't be surprised" if they used the miscarriage as a way to work infertility into the storyline. After all, I'd read somewhere that one of the show's creators experienced IF. Not to mention the fact that IF has become an incredibly popular topic as of late in popular media - books, TV, and movies. So, imagine my lack of surprise when the preview for last week's show displayed Meredith and Derek sitting in an OB's office. Despite the two weeks plus of shows building on my DVR, I skipped right to Grey's, curious to see how they would handle this situation.

At the beginning of the show, we sit inside of Meredith's OB's office when she and Derek learn that she suffers from a hostile uterus. She then parades around the hospital repeating this phrase throughout the episode. The closing scene shows Mere and Derek in bed at the end of the day, and Derek gives a "poetic" speech:

"Here's what we're gonna do. No more doctors, no more labs. You and I, we have a lot of sex. Maybe we make a baby, maybe we don't. Maybe you get Alzheimer's, maybe you don't. Just screw the odds, screw science. Let's just live. Whatever happens, happens. Me and you. Okay?"

Seriously? Let's rewind:

Issue #1: No doctor in his or her right fucking mind would ever tell a patient that she has a hostile uterus. That's not a diagnosis. Hostile cervical mucus, maybe. But not uterus. I'm going to give the writers of this show the benefit of the doubt and assume that they were referring to natural killer cells. Maybe?

Issue #2: If in fact the writers were referring to natural killer cells, this diagnosis would not 1) come at an OB's office or 2) come several months after suffering only one miscarriage. Either the writers skipped a few steps (like, uh, years and other losses) or they have no clue how this process works. I think I'm leaning toward option two.

Issue #3: Who walks around saying, "I have a hostile uterus" as if it's like having a migraine or a backache? Meredith is incredibly blase about the entire thing, and so are the rest of the characters. As if it's no big deal. As if it's a joke. Okay, so maybe some people act this way when they are diagnosed. But no one I know. Did any of you react this way?

Issue #4: Derek's monologue at the end has multiple issues. First, this sounds like something a person would say after YEARS of doctor's visits and labs. Not after one appointment earlier that day! It's not a "snap your fingers and it's over" thing. It's a "let's sit down and discuss this and come to a conclusion over some time" thing. Also, can we please NOT stereotype the "whatever happens, happens" bit? I fear how this will end: they let go of the baby dream and magically get pregnant. I get enough of that bullshit fairytale in my personal life. Can Grey's not make it any worse? The last thing any of us in this community need is, "Well, it happened for Meredith and Derek . . ."

Wake up and smell the roses, writers. This isn't how infertility works, and you clearly didn't do your research. What you are doing is perpetuating rumors and putting new, false information into the world about the ALI community - as if we didn't have enough of that going around. Rather than pulling shit out of your ass, perhaps you could have done a little Web browsing, read some blogs, and talked to a fertility doctor. Find out what it's like to go through something like this.

Instead, you've just made your show even more of a joke than it already is for a community of people who are tired of being the punchline.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

bzzzz...

Here it is, folks: a real, live blog post. Something I've been trying to do for nearly two weeks, but life keeps getting in the way.

A lot has happened in the last couple of weeks. First, I left my job. My last day was on Tuesday, October 5. I took off Wednesday through Friday of that week. Luckily, Joey had off that Wednesday and had a doctor's appointment on Friday - we were able to spend two fun days together, aside from the weekend. I caught up on schoolwork, shopped for new work clothes, spent time with friends, and shared quality time with Danica.

I started my new job on Monday, October 11. So far, I like it a lot. I enjoy going to work, and the people I work with are wonderful. Everyone is so nice and helpful. I'll be busy for a while - a lot of what's on my plate is clean-up duty. This position hasn't been filled in quite some time, and there is catching up to do. It's good, though. The work isn't stressful, I love learning new things, and it makes the days go by fast.

Outside of work? Well, that's a different story. It's not only fast, but it's also incredibly stressful. I had my big midterm due yesterday, and next week I have three more papers due: one on Sunday, one on Monday, and one on Wednesday. This weekend didn't help me catch up, either. We had a trip planned to Atlanta to see my brother. Despite all of the schoolwork on my plate, we had a great time. We watched Georgia Tech beat Middle Tennessee State, and my brother gave us a tour of the campus. Joey and my mom had been there before, but this was my first time. It's crazy to me that a school can exist in the middle of a major city the way GT does.

Everything else is on the back burner. It's not just blogging. My DVR list is filling quickly, and my floors are collecting dust. I think things should be better after this weekend. Does anyone have a few extra non-working hours in the day to spare? I could certainly use them. I'm a busy bee.

Friday, October 15, 2010

october 15

October 15 is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. 

Visit www.iamtheface.org to learn more about resources for women and families. And please take a moment to remember the 2,000 babies whose hearts will stop beating today as a result of miscarriage, stillbirth, and neonatal death.

To the moms in this community who have lost their babies: You, especially, are in my heart on this day.

Monday, October 11, 2010

it's just me

I'm here. 
I'm good.
I enjoyed my time off.
I enjoyed my first day of the new job.
My left ovary hurts fucking bad.
My acupuncturist can't fix it.
I'm bad at commenting and blogging.
I'm going to continue to be bad at commenting and blogging: 
Because I have an 8,000 word midterm this week.
But I'm reading when I can. 
I'll post when I can.
I'm not gone for good.

Promise.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

dreams in reality

When I was in college, I had this idea in my head that I would go off to New York City and be a big-shot editor in the publishing industry. My first step was to get a job at a top publishing house out of college. I did that. Granted, it wasn't in the division or city I'd hoped for, but it was still with one of the big six. I would stay there and work my way to the top before leaving to become a full-time writer and compose my first best-selling novel. (I had a large imagination in college.)

Then, I was diagnosed with infertility.

Something changed that day and in the weeks and months that followed. I realized work wasn't everything, and being on top of the world was not going to stop me from wanting a baby. No amount of power in my job would heal the pain in my heart or in my womb. I knew that I wasn't cut out to be top dog. And I wasn't cut out to write fiction. Every time I sat down to write, all I could think about was my empty uterus.

I became a different person through the infertility process, and slowly, I began to realize my true dream: motherhood. Gone are the grandiose images of me walking the streets of New York, manuscript in hand. In its place are dreams of me working at a university or a museum or a library and coming home to the words, "Hi, mom."

So, today, I say good-bye to my past. I say good-bye to publishing - at least for now. I say good-bye to the girl who wanted to be an editor and best-selling novelist. I say hello to the woman who still wants to work, but who also wants to raise a child . . .  and write a book about infertility. Okay, so maybe the big imagination part of me is still the same. But being on top of the world has changed. Because I know there aren't bestselling books and a corporate career waiting for me. Instead, it's a baby.

And I'll do whatever it takes to get to that peak.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

wake me up when 2010 ends

Today is October 2, 2010. There are 90 days remaining in the year 2010.

You begin the year by saying, "This is it. This is the year I'm going to beat IF." You resolve that this is the year you will get pregnant. This is the year you will end the roller coaster. This may even be the year you bring your baby home.

And then, in the blink of an eye, it's all gone. Another year and still an empty womb.

I remember standing in my mom's kitchen, champagne in hand. I toasted my mom and my husband, and I watched the ball drop in Times Square through misty eyes. This will be the year, I thought.

It wasn't.

I tried. I tried to be positive. I tried to be hopeful. I tried surgery. I tried new drugs. I tried a new doctor. I tried to fight.

Then, with nearly half the year under my belt, I boarded a plane to New York and left my hopes and dreams sitting in an airport bathroom at Orlando International Airport. I'd had enough. I threw in the towel. Maybe I was a stupid, fucking quitter. Or maybe this was the step I needed to save my sanity.

Some days, I'm still unsure.

There are 90 days left before the New Year, and though I'm willing to say that this year was a little better than last, I'm still eager to give 2010 to finger - gone are my dreams, gone is part of my breast, and gone is yet another piece of my heart that I fear I'll never recover.

I hope that these next 90 days fly by. The less time spent enduring commercials about baby's first Christmas and another holiday season as the lonely infertile, the better off I will be. Because at the end, on day #90, I can plaster a genuine smile across my face, raise my glass, regain my confidence, and say, "Fuck you, infertility. THIS will be the year I get my miracle."

And maybe this time, I'll be right.