Wednesday, April 27, 2011

i can't get no

Satisfaction.

When you want something that someone else has, odds are they want something that you have just as badly if not more than the thing you want in their life. Not that you want their LIFE. You just want whatever part of their life you think is perfect. Take all of us, for instance. We all want babies, correct? Children we can raise and love as our own. Your best friend has a baby. Why can't you? But the reality is that your best friend might be looking at your house, your marriage, your relationship with family, your job, etc. and saying, "Why can't I have that?"

I've never gotten what I wanted. Ever. Good things don't happen to me. But it's funny that, when they do, I still am not satisfied. I am the worrier, as Joey calls me. I worry about a million things. I look for hidden meanings. I wait for the other shoe to drop. This is me. This is what I do. My fear with the other shoe dropping only multiplied by a trillion after doctors told me I was infertile. I learned to anticipate the bad and become pleasantly surprised when the pendulum swung the other way. (Which, let's face it: instances of this are rare for me.)

What I'm trying to say is that there's a part of me who might always be negative - or maybe a realist? Okay, no. Just . . . negative. When something good happens, my first reaction is either, "Why me?" or "What's the catch?" or "What in the absolute hell is going to happen NOW? Because surely this means something terrible is coming next."

Am I the only person like this? Am I the only person who simply cannot grasp situations and move forward? There are so many nights when I just wish that I could turn my brain OFF and let it rest. The wheels are constantly turning (worrying), and I get sick of it. How can I learn to let things go and let things happen the way that they are meant to happen? How can I learn to live and let the universe take control - let life ebb and flow on its own?

(My apologizes for being vague and scatterbrained with this post, but it's how my mind feels at the moment.)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

the truth about resolution

There seems to be a misconception among outsiders that, once you have set on a certain path to motherhood – such as adoption – or once you have a child, you are no longer infertile. You are no longer in pain. That you perhaps you should consider getting over it.

Some people have negatively portrayed this idea onto me since we made the decision to adopt. As if there should have been this magic switch when we decided that made me go from "infertile" to "expectant mother." There are those who simply do not understand why I still struggle. I see this same expectation weigh heavily on a lot to women who are pregnant or who have a young child (or children) after infertility.

The myth is that having resolution suddenly makes everything better. However, the reality is that the diagnosis never goes away, and neither do the feelings that come with it.

Infertility is not the cockroach in the corner that you spray with Raid, flush down the toilet, and forget about five minutes later. Infertility is the cockroach infestation that you cannot seem to get rid of. Every time you kill one, another appears. And even if and when that day comes, the day when the last insect is finally gone, the memory of the shit you went through is what lives in your mind forever. You cannot escape it.

This is not to say that, for your entire life, you will live and breathe the disease, but there will always be reminders of it. There is the child in line at the grocery store, who is about the same age as the baby who died in your womb would be. There is the tightness you feel in your chest when your girlfriends talk about how they cannot stand the thought of another child, when you would give the sun and the moon to provide a sibling for your own. There is the sadness you feel when you sit in the waiting room at the gynecologist's office and you know that your belly will never look that way.

Even worse are the physical reminders: the doctor's visits, the pain, and, for some, cancer, radical surgeries, and other unimaginable experiences. All of this emphasizes where you have been and where you are or are not going. It is part of your life, whether you want it there or not. Letting it consume you is inevitable at points, but throwing it on the street corner and driving off is impossible.

RESOLVE's name is symbolic of this idea of resolving ones infertility – the point at which we achieve parenthood, regardless of the path we choose. However, people must understand that peace does not always come with a decision or with a resolution. There is no magic switch. There is no sudden transformation. There is no such thing as "getting over it." There is no such thing as a cure.

In some ways, I am writing this for others. To educate outsiders that finding or achieving a resolution to infertility does not always mean closure. Yet, I am also writing this for myself.

We made the decision to adopt back in the fall, and a couple of months ago, we made our first nursery purchase. That purchase - a beautiful decal that will one day adorn the wall of our child's nursery - sits in a closet. Most days, I feel good about the idea of starting the nursery before the baby arrives. I feel like it is the beginning of my healing process.

But for every good day I experience, there is a bad day. There is a day when someone or something sets me into a tailspin of grief. It is at those times when I must remind myself that there is no rush to decorate.

There is no rush to heal.

For more information on National Infertility Awareness Week, please visit http://www.resolve.org/takecharge. Also, take a few moments to learn about infertility at http://www.resolve.org/infertility101.

Monday, April 18, 2011

it happened

I had to go to the ER this morning.

Actually, I didn't need to go. But Joey made an executive decision and booted my ass out the door and into the car.

Luckily, this ER experience was nothing like the one I had in October. We went to a different hospital. I got a bed (in a private room!) right away. But not everything was different from October.

It was another rupture. This time is was a follicle . . . on my RIGHT ovary.

Yes. That nurse practitioner from my gynecologist's office? The one who swore I needed to be tested for IC, a BLADDER condition? She gets the Darwin award, and she also got a nice voicemail message when I was released from the hospital earlier this afternoon. (No, really. I was nice, considering the circumstances.)

I'm supposed to hear back from the doctor tomorrow about switching my treatment plan, since this one is obviously not working. He was out today. I'll stay with him for now, mostly because I don't want to see a seventh doctor in three years about my lady parts, but I made perfectly clear in my call to that office that I expect an apology AND better treatment next time I come to them in pain.

I managed to laugh a lot today - despite everything - but I'd be lying if I told you I felt good inside. I don't.

At the beginning of the year, I was so depressed. I didn't think I could get any lower. But I don't think I've felt as low as I do in this moment. No one understands. I have no friends to talk to. It feels like I'm going to slip under the waves at any second and sink to the bottom.

HOW can I fight this and still manage to stay afloat?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

here we go again

Earlier this week, I started cramping. Odd for a girl who isn't supposed to get her period anymore, but I figured that it was just my body thinking it was time for AF (even though it's been about 3 months since my last real period).

Then, the cramps became a sharp, single cramp - like a stabbing pain in the center of my uterus. It would last for no more than 30 seconds to a minute, and then I'd be perfectly fine again.

I called the nurse yesterday morning. My doctor was booked solid and couldn't see me. First, she suggested the ER. Then, she said that the nurse practitioner had an opening. She said, "Let's get you in with her, and I know she will want you to have another ultrasound at the hospital."

In hindsight, I wish I'd gone to the ER.

I waited for an hour to see the NP. When she came in and did her internal exam, I flinched slightly when she pressed my bladder.

"Does this hurt?" she asked.
"Not really. Just the entire area 'down there' is sore," I replied.

She had me get dressed and when she returned, she came back with a survey . . . about my bladder.

Are you fucking kidding me?

"With pelvic pain this soon after surgery, I'm thinking you may have something else going on, like interstitial cystitis. It's a bladder condition..."

Wait, so now you think I suddenly have some chronic bladder conditions because I’ve been having what feels like contractions in my uterus for three days? Even though I don't feel like I have to pee all the time? Even though I don't ever (EVER) get up in the middle of the night to pee? Even though I only pee 7-10 times a day, not 30-60?

And now you want me to come into your office on a random Wednesday and get dye shot into my bladder because maybe or maybe not I have this condition because, truly, you people have NO FUCKING CLUE what to do about my body – just like everyone else?

I'm beginning to think that, when I come into a doctor's office and tell them about a new pain, they have this jar sitting at the nurse's station full of pieces of paper with different diseases on it. The doctor goes over to the jar each time and pulls out a new piece of paper.

"Well, maybe it's THIS!"

The worst part of it all is, as I'm crying (after I told this woman there is no way it's my bladder, I'm not coming back in to do that crazy test, and I'm certainly not taking any bladder relief medication in the meantime), the NP is talking to my actual doctor in the hall who is saying, "It can't be a cyst this soon after surgery."

I never said it was a motherfucking cyst. I actually said it was NOT a cyst. It feels nothing like a cyst! I SAID it was a sudden, stabbing cramp at the top of my uterus.

She came back in and saw me crying, and she apologized that I am in pain.

"I'm not in pain," I said. "I'm frustrated."

She told me to call back Monday and let them know if I've decided about the bladder test. (Uh, no.) She also gave me a choice to move to step two in my medication plan - meaning switch out the pills for the shot.

I don't think I'm doing that, either.

Instead, I'm going to continue the pills. I'm going to go to the ER if the pain returns. And, when I go back in June for the follow-up with my doctor, I'm going to tell him that the reason why I never called or came back after yesterday. It's because I left there feeling like I do with ever other doctor I've ever seen: more frustrated, less answers.

I can honestly say that I left there yesterday feeling more broken than I’ve felt in a long, long time. Not only am I tired of fighting the ignorance, but I am completely finished with trying to fight my body.

I give up.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

21 guns

Mel's post today about PETA brought out feelings that I've been reflecting on throughout this controversy:

I'm tired of fighting.

I'm not tired of fighting the disease, per se, though the thought of no more hot flashes and no longer having to spread my legs on an exam table more than once a year does make me smile.

No. I'm tired of fighting FOR the disease. I'm sick and tired of fighting against the ignorance of others. It is largest piece of baggage I carry on this journey. It is what weighs me down. As I commented on Mel's post, every time it seems as though our community makes headway in trying to educate the public about infertility, there's someone waiting to knock us back down again. Why must we always be the ones who end up with the bloodied, scraped knees?

Will there ever be a time on this road when we are the ones without the skinned knees and tears that follow?

I never defended myself as a kid. Ever. I firmly glued my ass in a corner, and I watched. I watched as other kids fought and stood up for themselves and what they believed in. And when people would say nasty things to me or push my buttons, I never pushed back. I took it like a champ in the moment; after the moment, I cried loud, large, painful tears into my pillow at night.

Infertility changed everything for me, and I've been wracking my brain this entire week to try and figure it WHY. WHY did one diagnosis change my entire attitude toward these situations? Why did I feel as though it was suddenly time to stand up and insert my freckled nose into every situation that offended me or hurt my feelings?

Sticks and stones never hurt my bones. Words did, a little. But taking away my womanhood ruined me.

No, I couldn't just sit there and take it anymore. I had to fight. I had to fight to explain to people why I was hurting. Why they hurt me. Why society hurt me. Why my body failed me. Why infertility should be considered a disease. Why I deserved to be a mom. And the list goes on.

If it wasn't about deserving the same treatment, it was about deserving special treatment. It was about wanting respect, sympathy, understanding, and courtesy. It was about wanting everything that infertility took away from me, and it was about wanting it back tenfold. It was about taking all of this anger and this hatred that I felt toward myself and my situation and spinning it into something better.

But is it better? Is it better if we are the only ones who fight for ourselves? Is it better if we constantly have to relive the heartbreak of our diagnosis or our loss? Is it better if we are the only ones in a crowded room who are screaming our heads off, and no one even turns around to look? Is it better if we are the only ones who are lying on the gravel, bruised and broken?

As I write this, I'm listening to Green Day's 21 Guns and thinking about how utterly fucking appropriate this song is for this situation.

Do you know what's worth fighting for?
When it's not worth dying for?
Does it take your breath away
And you feel yourself suffocating?

Does the pain weigh out the pride?
And you look for a place to hide?
Did someone break your heart inside?
You're in ruins


Someone did break my heart. It was infertility. I've been fighting it ever since.

And I'm exhausted.

It's time that others fight for us, with us.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

updates on PETA

PETA responded to my letter today with a (tragic) form letter:

Dear Ms. __________,

Thank you for contacting PETA about our contest offering a free vasectomy. We apologize if our contest has offended you as it was not our intent. We meant no offense, especially to those who are struggling to conceive. Please know that there are many people who wish to be sterilized—it’s those people that we’re aiming to reach. To learn more about this contest, please go to http://www.PETA.org/features/win-a-vasectomy-from-peta.aspx.

Since the best way to prevent animal companions from having unwanted litters is to spay and neuter them, a kind PETA member offered to cover the cost of a vasectomy for one compassionate man who wants to get himself “snipped” just like his furry friend. While humans can manage their reproductive urges and make informed choices, dogs and cats can’t—we must take responsibility for them. In addition, men are often particularly reluctant to neuter male dogs—a ridiculous hesitation given that Fido won’t notice the change and will be healthier for it.

PETA’s purpose is to stop animal suffering, and we use all available opportunities to reach millions of people with powerful messages. We have found that people do pay more attention to our more provocative actions, and we consider the public’s attention to be extremely important. Sometimes this requires tactics—like naked marches and eye catching contests—that some people find outrageous or even rude, but part of our job is to grab people’s attention and even shock them in order to initiate discussion, debate, questioning of the status quo, and, of course, action. The current situation is critical for billions of animals, and our goal is to make the public think about the issues.

We know that this offer might raise a few eyebrows, but in doing so it will also raise awareness by generating the kind of media coverage of the cat and dog overpopulation crisis that money could never buy. Please know that in addition to our more outrageous actions, PETA also educates the public about the need to spay and neuter through pamphlets, billboards, letters to the editor, ads, articles, public demonstrations, and humane education in schools. We also put our words into action: PETA’s three mobile spay-and-neuter clinics have performed tens of thousands of low-cost and free sterilizations in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. Since starting our first mobile clinic in 2001, we have sterilized more than 67,000 animals, including 10,500 in 2010 alone.

Unfortunately, getting the animal rights message to the public is not always easy and straightforward. Unlike our opposition, which is mostly composed of wealthy industries and corporations, PETA must rely on getting free “advertising” through media coverage. We often do outrageous things to get the word out about animal abuse, because sadly, the media usually do not consider the facts alone interesting enough to cover. Colorful and controversial gimmicks, on the other hand—like activists’ stripping to “bare skin rather than wear skin”—consistently grab headlines, thereby bringing the animal rights message to audiences around the country and, often, the world. After PETA publicized our “State of the Union Undress,” for example, we were rated the number one “mover” on Yahoo’s search engine, meaning that PETA received the greatest percentage increase of terms searched that day.

PETA is a leader in creating buzz to support our cause, but we aren’t alone in recognizing its value. According to Brett Gosper, former CEO of Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper, an advertising firm which created a controversial anti-racism campaign, “If your communication is selling a cause, then shock tactics may not just be an option, they may be essential. Budgets on cause-related work are so low that it is imperative for the media to relay your communication and multiply its visibility. Media won’t do this out of the goodness of their hearts. The more controversial the advertising, the more space it will get.”

We wish that that weren’t the case. We would much prefer to do things without the gimmicks—if only it worked. We’d like nothing better than to be able to show the media videos of factory farms, fur farms, and animals in laboratories and have them find it newsworthy enough to cover. But they don’t. However, when we attach a gimmick, that very same animal abuse ends up in newspapers and on televisions nationwide. Experience has taught us that provocative and controversial campaigns make the difference between keeping important yet depressing subjects invisible and having them widely seen. The alternative is to be ignored in the torrent of tabloid-style stories that dominate the popular press.

As you know, PETA works very hard to prevent the births of puppies and kittens that will end up abandoned in animal shelters or struggling to survive on the streets. Breeding, both purposeful and accidental, is responsible for the euthanasia of millions of these loving companions each year. Sterilization is both the easiest and the most effective means available of ensuring animals’ happiness and safety. Male animals who have been neutered are far less likely to roam far from home or fight. Neutering greatly diminishes and possibly eliminates reproductive urges (which are not the same in dogs as they are in humans). In addition, these animals will never get testicular cancer and run less risk of contracting prostate disease. Female animals who have been spayed avoid the trauma of giving birth and will no longer go into heat.

Consider the fate of the millions of unwanted animals whose parents were never spayed and neutered. Born into a hostile world, they are caged among strangers at animal shelters or, worse, abandoned on the sides of roads. They are run over by cars and attacked by other animals. They are infected with painful, contagious, and deadly diseases. Those unlucky enough to run into cruel humans are often drowned, beaten with baseball bats, suffocated in plastic bags, stabbed, shot, starved, set on fire, used as bait, and tortured in countless other ways. And the saddest tragedy of all is that before they meet some gruesome death, they reproduce, and the cycle of animal suffering continues.

To learn more about issues that affect animal companions, please visit http://www.PETA.org/issues/companion-animals/default.aspx. To make a donation in support of PETA’s campaigns to stop the animal overpopulation crisis, please go to http://www.PETA.org/donate.

Thank you again for contacting us and for the opportunity to share our thoughts. We apologize for having offended you as it was not our intent.

Sincerest,
HollyAnne Dame
Membership Correspondent
PETA Foundation
757.962.8246
HollyAnneD@petaf.org

----------

My response:

Ms. Dame,

I appreciate the five seconds it took you to copy and paste this form letter into an email and hit reply. What a pathetic excuse for an apology. It is one thing to use shock value to entice people to go to your website and donate to your cause. It is a completely different story when you offend a group of people with a disease in doing so. Let me ask: would you have dared to offend cancer patients? Would you have dared to make light of those facing diseases like AIDS or cerebral palsy or autism? No. You chose infertility because you assumed that our community would lie down and take this abuse. Guess what, Ms. Dame: I am not lying down. I am not taking this abuse. You have just managed to piss off a group of men and women who value a sense of community more than anything else in the fight against their disease - and who have the hormonal rage to continue the fight against your organization for a very, very long time.

Let me explain something about infertility. Infertility is completely unrelated to having a vasectomy. A vasectomy is a procedure done voluntarily to ensure that someone does not procreate. Infertility is a DISEASE of the reproductive system. No one with infertility has vasectomies to "celebrate" infertility awareness, because there is absolutely nothing about infertility that is voluntary. No one chooses this disease; it chooses us. I am appalled that you would relate the two in any way, and in doing so you have displayed the same ignorance that organizations like RESOLVE are trying to prevent during National Infertility Awareness Week.

On behalf of the infertile community, I do not accept this apology. Perhaps the most laughable part of your entire letter is that you have the audacity to suggest I donate to PETA. The only organization I will make a donation to at this time is RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. I suggest your group do the same, and I urge you to remove any language that mentions infertility or National Infertility Awareness Week from your website. Until then, I will continue to share with my family, friends, blog readers, colleagues, and others about the insensitive practices of your organization.

Sincerely,
Katie

----------

Their response to my response:

Dear Ms. __________,

Please let me once again apologize for having offended you with this contest. It was not meant as a personal attack on anyone, and offense was not something that we had intended. We consider this a chance to discuss animal overpopulation, the need to spay and neuter dogs and cats, and the impact of human overpopulation on the environment.

PETA’s purpose is to stop animal suffering, and we use all available opportunities to reach millions of people with powerful messages. We have found that people do pay more attention to our more provocative actions, and we consider the public’s attention to be extremely important. Sometimes this requires tactics—like naked marches, colorful ad campaigns, and graphic images—that some people find outrageous or even rude. Part of our job is to grab people’s attention and even shock them in order to initiate discussion, debate, questioning of the status quo, and, of course, action. The current situation is critical for billions of animals, and our goal is to make the public think about the issues, something that cannot be accomplished if the public is unaware of the crisis at hand.

Unfortunately, getting the animal rights message to the public is not always easy and straightforward. PETA must rely on getting free “advertising” through media coverage. We often do outrageous things to get the word out about animal abuse, because sadly, the media usually do not consider the facts alone interesting enough to cover. Colorful and controversial gimmicks, on the other hand—like activists’ stripping to “bare skin rather than wear skin” or hosting a contest offering a free vasectomy—consistently grab headlines, thereby bringing the animal rights message to audiences around the country and, often, the world. After PETA publicized our “State of the Union Undress,” for example, we were rated the number one “mover” on Yahoo’s search engine, meaning that PETA received the greatest percentage increase of terms searched that day.

A lot of men have entered the contest, and there is great interest in it. The cost of a vasectomy is not cheap, and not everyone wants to reproduce. Having one’s own child may be a compelling urge, but it isn’t helpful to act on all our urges, no matter how strong. The issue is not whether one is infertile but whether it is responsible to keep adding people to a planet whose resources are already being stretched. In America, most people eat well, have a roof over their heads, and buy gasoline, but in much of the rest of the world, people are starving, forests are disappearing, and water is running out, and it seems a moral conundrum for some of us to be spending thousands of dollars trying to reproduce ourselves when there are homeless children, including some with disabilities, who want for homes.

As I have previously mentioned, in the past, PETA has engaged in a number of controversial campaigns in order to gain attention to various animal rights issues. Such controversial campaigns have included Got (Breast) Cancer?, which highlighted that “nutritional factors” were contributors to one-third of cancer related deaths in the United States; a KKK ad, which displays the American Kennel Club’s promotion of “breedism” and the idea that dogs with “pure” bloodlines are superior to other loveable dogs; Ink Not Mink ads, which feature a number of celebrities posing nude; and more.

PETA is a leader in creating buzz to support our cause, but we aren’t alone in recognizing its value. According to Brett Gosper, former CEO of Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper, an advertising firm which created a controversial anti-racism campaign, “If your communication is selling a cause, then shock tactics may not just be an option, they may be essential. Budgets on cause-related work are so low that it is imperative for the media to relay your communication and multiply its visibility. Media won’t do this out of the goodness of their hearts. The more controversial the advertising, the more space it will get.”

Thank you again for giving us the chance to explain the thoughts behind our tactics. And truly, Ms. __________, I am sorry if we have offended you with this campaign but know it is not a personal attack on you or those individuals who suffer from infertility.

Sincerest regards,
HollyAnne Dame
Membership Correspondent
PETA Foundation
757.962.8246
HollyAnneD@petaf.org

----------

Ms. Dame,

Instead of taking the five seconds to copy and paste the same email to me that you sent to every other person you offended by this contest, perhaps you could take that five seconds and show you are legitimately sorry by removing the reference. Or, maybe, you could take five seconds and read RESOLVE's response (see attached).

Take it down. We will not stop until you do.

Sincerely,
Katie

----------

Ms. __________,

PETA appreciates any and all feedback—including comments, criticisms, and ideas. Please know that yours have been passed along, along with the press release, to the appropriate staff members.

Please know that we do respect your opinion on this matter and let me take the time to express, once again, how truly sorry we are for having offended you with our most recent campaign. I hope that my prior correspondence has at least addressed some of your concerns with the thoughts behind our actions, but I also understand that you do not necessarily agree.

Even among those of us who care about animals and share similar goals, there will always come a time when opinions differ—including the way in which we call attention to animal suffering and the overpopulation crisis.

Thank you again for taking the time to share with us your concerns.

Sincerely,
HollyAnne Dame
Membership Correspondent
PETA Foundation
757.962.8246
HollyAnneD@petaf.org

----------

Ms. Dame,

These are not my concerns. These are facts. You are exploiting a group of people who have a disease for the benefit of what? Of getting one man and one dog neutered? Congratulations. In the wake of this stunt, you have managed to alienate and offend an entire group of men and women - many of whom previously supported your cause. The truth is, you are not sorry. You knew this would cause an uproar. Did you envision hurting feelings in the process? Did you imagine offending the individuals and partners who work tirelessly day in and day out fighting this disease?

I realize that you simply do not understand. Your views are probably similar to that of Ms. Newkirk, who is quoted as saying:

"I’m not only uninterested in having children. I am opposed to having children. Having a purebred human baby is like having a purebred dog; it is nothing but vanity, human vanity." (New Yorker Magazine, April 2003)

However, your personal vendettas against children gives your group no right to trample on the hearts of those who deal with real medical issues like endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometrial or ovarian cancer, varicocele, testicular cancer, unexplained infertility, etc. Or to offend the lesbian and gay couples who so desperately want to be parents, but society constrains the means by which they can achieve that goal. Or to cause pain to the single man or woman who dreams of raising a child but cannot do so with a partner - or choose not to do so with a partner. I will state again what I stated in my second email: it is not likely that you would treat those going through cancer, AIDS, or other, more "prominent" diseases in a similar fashion.

Nor would you pretend to be an expert in those illnesses, just as I do not pretend to be an expert in animal rights. The quote, "including the way in which we call attention to animal suffering and the overpopulation crisis," disturbs me. You are crossing the line from human to animal and back again. Choose which group you are going to represent, Ms. Dame. And if you decide to take up advocating ways to prevent the HUMAN overpopulation crisis, I suggest you start by educating yourself on infertility and the HUMAN suffering that comes with it.

Take it down. We refuse to stop until you do.

Sincerely,
Katie

----------

If you have not already done so, please write to PETA and ask them to take down the infertility/National Infertility Awareness Week references from their website, and sign the petition. Show PETA we won't back down until we get the treatment (and apology) that we deserve.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

when i'm angry, you get two posts in one day

Please go read this and write your letter to PETA now. I already wrote my own:

Dear Ms. Newkirk,

As someone who suffers from infertility, I was outraged and saddened to read about PETA's latest campaign, Win a Vasectomy from PETA! While I respect the fact that you are continuing efforts to ensure that individuals spay and neuter their pets, I'm outraged at how you launched this campaign at the expense of those humans who are plagued with a disease.

You state that the purpose of this contest is to "honor" National Infertility Awareness Week, which occurs later this month. Instead, it serves as a giant slap in the face to the men and women who are infertile without choice. We are a community of individuals who are used to receiving inappropriate, offensive comments from the public - from those who could not possibly understand what it must feel like to be told you may never be a parent. However, these comments cut far deeper when they come from an advertising campaign of a major nonprofit organization. I had no idea that it was PETA's stance to undermine and bash other philanthropic groups in a quest to promote their own policies.

Did you research infertility before launching this campaign? If you had, you would know that one in every eight people experiences this disease. You currently have approximately 300 employees at PETA. Statistically, nearly 40 of them suffer from infertility. Tell me: did you consult with your entire organization before you launched this contest to ensure that what you are promoting did not offend one of your employees? Better yet: did you consult with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, the group responsible for National Infertility Awareness Week, to see if this type of contest would be appropriate to coincide with NIAW? I am going to guess that the answer to both of these questions is no.

I have lived with this disease for nearly three years, and I wish I had any kind of choice in my reproductive story. Instead, my "choices" came at the hands of a disease that I never asked for. I am extremely proud to call myself a RESOLVE volunteer: helping other men and women try to cope with the physical, mental, and emotional side effects of infertility. People who turn to RESOLVE often turn to us because they cannot talk openly about their struggles, for fear of ridicule. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that the group doing the bullying would be a group who also speaks for those without a voice.

Do us all a favor and remove the contest. And in the future, stick with what you know - animals. Leave the infertile humans out of it.

Sincerely,
Katie

a missing gift

Tomorrow is my birthday, and there is something about turning another year older without being a mom that makes me sad.

I should be happy. We are on a great path to motherhood. I have a fabulous husband, wonderful family and friends, a good job, an awesome dog, a roof over my head, and food on the table.

None of this, though, can make up for the piece of me that's still missing.

Of all the milestones I come across each year, this should be the easiest to deal with. Soon, we will all suffer through Mother's Day commercials, followed shortly after by Father's Day ads. Then we get a break from the madness until late fall, when kid's Halloween costumes and Christmas decorations come out and slap us in the face. There's nothing like watching a tiny child rip up and drool all over wrapping paper that makes us want to crawl in a hole and hibernate until January 1.

Yet there's something personal about this time of year that is especially difficult for me. Maybe it's the fact that my birthday, Joey's birthday, and our anniversary - both of our wedding and trying to have a baby - are all so close together that I can feel the time slipping from under us with more force. Maybe it's because both of us are getting older, taking away valuable years in a life that is never guaranteed to last for long. Mostly, I think it's because I lack the one gift that I've wanted so desperately. I can sit there and politely respond with, "A gift card to ______" when friends and family ask what I'd like for my birthday. Truthfully, that is not what I would like at all. What I want can't be placed in a greeting card or opened over birthday cake.

I know: just as I should be happy on my birthday because I have a wonderful life, I should be happy with the presents I receive. And I am.

But none of these gifts can take away the painful reminder of the gift I've not yet unwrapped - the one that's still out there, waiting for me to claim it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

i'm not laughing

Today is April Fools Day.

I've always hated this day. There's something about practical jokes makes me cringe. It could be because I'm generally a gullible person. I don't enjoy plastic spiders on my desk or fake snakes by the door.

And I certainly don't enjoy the ever-popular joke of, "I'm pregnant." There's nothing funny about being pregnant. Or not being pregnant.

That joke isn't funny to the receivers of that message who've recently suffered a miscarriage or who are battling infertility. It's not funny to those who are busy worrying whether their baby will be alive on your next ultrasound or those feeling sadness and relief over a negative beta that means their baby is gone but that they can finally try to get pregnant again. There's nothing funny about losing a twin, getting horrible news after an NT scan, going through a disrupted adoption, or the pain of an ectopic pregnancy - all things I've watched friends endure.

And there's nothing funny about the fact that, when the practical jokester actually DOES get pregnant, she will be THAT bitch. The one who whines incessantly about how much she hates the morning sickness or how much weight she's gained (while the rest of us listen in and secretly want to punch her square in her nose).

So if you're thinking about posting an "I'm pregnant!" Facebook status today to get some laughs, and some much-needed attention for your pathetic soul, please think twice about the people on the other end of that joke. Because I guarantee they aren't laughing.

Neither am I.