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

Monday, August 29, 2011

differences

Growing up, I was the freak with red hair. And glasses. I was the "dork" who many people picked on. Sure, I have a small group of close friends. But, in general, I was often picked out and pointed out for my different hair color. Because of this, I spend years hating my hair. When I say hate, I mean hate. I wanted nothing more than to dye my hair blonde or brown and call it a day. My mom would have none of that. There was no way that hair dye was touching my head so long as I was under her roof.

Ironically, when I went to college, the concept of dying my hair faded away. Instead of jumping right into a hairdresser's chair, I jumped into a tattoo chair and got my first ink (that's an entirely different blog post). But I no longer had this burning desire to be like everyone else. In fact, I was beginning to like having red hair. Women would complement me when I went to get my hair cut, saying things like, "I would DIE to have your hair color" or "I wish they could bottle up that shade of red." Guys complemented, too. There was something satisfying about being different.

When doctors first diagnosed me with infertility, I knew that it would change everything. I, like most other women with infertility, spent months - years - wishing that I were just like everyone else. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to snap my fingers and have a child? Wouldn't it be nice to have a "little mistake"?

Somewhere along the way, I began to realize that being different wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I listened as women talked about how much they hated being pregnant, and I felt relief that it wasn't me saying those things. I listened when parents complained about how irritating their children were, and I wondered if they knew how good they had it.

Being different didn't need to mean being an outcast. It meant that I would always have an alternate perspective. In some ways, it might mean being more appreciative of what it means to be a mom. But in others, I think it might mean understanding that motherhood should not be the only thing that defines you - much like infertility. I view motherhood much differently than I used to because I AM different. It's times like now that I'm grateful for those experiences as a child, for being teased about my hair color. It's helps me to accept the fact that, in many aspects of my life, I simply won't be "just like" everyone else. It helps me to appreciate the uniqueness of me, of my situation.

I now embrace being "a ginger." Being a ginger prepared me for a lifetime of being different.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

it would be our luck

On Monday night, I came home to a house that was 84 degrees.

Now I keep the air high compared to most people to save energy. I usually set the thermostat between 78-79, keep the blinds shut, and keep the ceiling fans running. If you don't in Florida, your energy bill will be astronomical. But I knew even 84 was high for us. Especially when the temp was still set for 79.

Turns out we had a leak in one of the coils in the air handler. $1,000 of our money at the most inconvenient time: when we are about to go on vacation and have homestudy fees to pay. It could be worse. The part could not have been covered under warranty - which, laugh with me here, expires in exactly one week. The leak could have been in the unit itself, which would mean we need an entire new unit.

I have to laugh. Because this IS the sort of thing that happens to us. It still sucks. Royally.

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In better news:
  • My prolactin levels are down. I have another blood draw tomorrow morning to check them again. Hoping they continue to drop! All of the blood work they ran on my thyroid also came back normal, so we've ruled out any issues there.
  • My MIL and FIL have graciously offered to buy our nursery furniture. I never got around to reordering the crib, so this is excellent news. They'll be buying us a crib and a changing table. The first official "gifts" for the baby.
  • It looks like my courses for the fall semester will be easier than previous semesters, and I only have classes one night a week (on Mondays). I can't believe I'm one more semester away from graduating. I feel like I just started yesterday.
  • The paperwork is almost complete. I realize I keep writing this, but I mean it this time. We only have four pages left of the self study and the employer verifications to complete, which means it could be in the mail in the next week. AH!
What's going on in every else's world?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

my thoughts about the RESOLVE Hope Award

I've tried to formulate my thoughts on winning this year's Hope Award for Best Blog for weeks, but they haven't come together for me as well as I wanted them to. Bear with me while I try to work my way through this.

Winning this award feels surreal to me. If you told me when I started this blog that I would be where I am today, I would have told you that you're a big. fat. liar. This is not how I saw things turning out when I began writing. In fact, here's a small glimpse of what I thought my life would look like today, back then:

I thought we would still be living in Nashville, or maybe in New York. I would still be working in publishing. And we would have a child who today would be somewhere in the two-year-old range.

Well, none of that happened. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Infertility has taught me a lot about myself, about others, and about life in general. One of these lessons is that things tend to happen on a different timeline and in a different way than you expect them. For someone who has never been very good at practicing patience, this concept is difficult. For someone who tends to lean on the "Type A"/control freak side of her brain, it's nearly impossible.

But here I am. It's 3.5 years after we started trying to have a baby, and I am still not a mom. Most of the people who started this journey with me are. There are even a few who are on baby #2. And while I realize there are those who have tried far longer or who have been through more procedures, being childless after 3.5 years has been incredibly challenging for me. I've had to find ways to cope with this. Volunteering with RESOLVE was one of them, and the other was this blog.

With both, I feel like I'm doing what I love. Yet, it's the helping people through this that motivates me the most. Even in the moments when I feel like I am the last person standing, which there are many of those moments, I feel GOOD about even offering one line of sane advice to someone who is losing their mind in all of this. I could write about anything. I've written for as long as I can remember. I can't draw. I'm not a painter or a photographer. I'm not a crafty person who can sew and knit and quilt. Writing is what I do. Writing is why I've always done. It just was a coincidence that this was the way I ended up coping and helping others.

It's easy for me to sit here and tell you that I would trade this award for motherhood any day. And don't think I haven't thought it - more than once. The truth is, I don't know that I would. I want to be a mom, yes. But part of me is starting to understand that maybe there is a bigger plan in all of this. Maybe this is always how things were supposed to go. Me writing about uteruses and vaginas and people actually reading it and relating. (If you had told me this back then, I probably would have called you a liar. Again.)

One of my favorite books is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I have a line from that book tattooed on my back. It says, "The mistakes I've made are dead to me. But I can't take back the things I never did." I can't look back on this journey and wonder if things had worked out differently if we had done this instead of that. Or look back and say, "I wish..." Thinking about what could have been doesn't help me. I'm starting to come to terms with this idea of embracing the experience.

For someone who planned on things turning out a certain way for so long, this is not a simple process for me to sort through. For years, I heard, "Everything happens for a reason." It's still a shitty thing to say to someone who is going through infertility, and I'd probably give someone the death stare if they said it to my face even now. But maybe things do happen for a reason. Maybe this is all part of some weird plan that I don't understand. It's still a bit of a mystery to me, and it may always be.

Right now, though, I will just be thankful. And I will accept this award graciously on behalf of anyone who has ever been in our shoes. May we all be winners in the end, regardless of where our journeys take us.

Monday, August 15, 2011

rising above the scandal

The Theresa Erickson scandal is everywhere, and - quite frankly - I'm still a little speechless about it. (Case in point: it took me three days to write this post. That rarely happens with something I'm so passionate about.) It's hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that someone in this community, a community that is so close and secure, could violate us at such an unbelievable level.

In case you've been out of touch, Theresa Erickson - well known reproductive lawyer, an infertility "friend" and advocate - plead guilty last week for her role in a baby-selling scheme that made her $70,000 richer.

I could go on for days about why I'm angry. It's natural to feel betrayed by this - especially for those who knew and worked with these women personally. When you trust someone with a part of your life that is as important as a child, and that trust is broken, how else can you cope? Mel and Keiko both wrote excellent posts in the hours after the story broke, and I think both touched on all of the emotions we (as a community) feel because of this story.

Theresa's website is now down. Her radio show is no longer in existence. Many members of the community have been surprisingly silent on their former advocate turned criminal. But the media? The media has been anything but silent. And in a world where the media is already so turned against the infertile community, I worry.

I worry that people who don't know any better will view this story and see nothing but baby-hungry infertiles - as is (unfortunately) often the case in stories of people who so desperately want to become parents. I worry that this will set us back in the progress we've made in surrogacy and adoption laws and the public acceptance of both as ways to become parents after infertility. I worry about how we will rise above such a hurtful "black eye" to this community, from someone many of us trusted so dearly.

While Theresa and others will likely pay for their actions with prison time, there are millions of others who will also be forced to pay the price. The parents, children, and surrogates directly involved, of course. I cannot begin to imagine that coping process. How do you begin to tell a child how he or she came to be? How do you accept deceit as a parent? How do accept the use and abuse of your body as a surrogate? How do you sort through all of these feelings and move past them? Or can you?

We will pay, too. In a world that is already leery of "alternative" family-building options, we will experience the increased scrutiny that inevitably follows such a large scandal. We already have experienced this. The question is, how does our community rise above it? How do we move forward? Our obstacles may not be as great as those who directly suffered in this scandal, but they do exist. And we can't simply ignore them.

I'm not sure where or how we begin with this, or who it should come from. I just know that now, more than ever, we need to remain solid as a community. This hurts many of us - some more than others - and we need to be there to help one another and to help our community heal. It's easy to stay angry and hurt. It's harder to move forward, to let everyone know that we will not back down. It's harder to defend than it is to give up. If anyone knows that best, it's us. If anyone knows how to move past defeat and disappointment, it's us.

Rising above is our specialty. Let's show the world how we do it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

missing my focus

My attention span is limited these days. I can barely focus on something for more than five minutes. When that happens, it becomes extremely difficult for me to write a blog post with substance or do anything that remotely involves me thinking for an extended period of time.

So I don't know how much blogging you'll get from me this week (good blogging, at least). But I do have a few updates:

Joey and I had our physicals done yesterday morning for home study paperwork. I've been seeing my GP for 14 years. He knows all about our struggles to conceive, and he was excited to hear about our adoption plans. Both of us had to get tetanus shots. Wow, I forgot how sore those things make your arm! Other than that, it was an easy visit and he wrote nice things about us from a personal standpoint on the medical form.

The stock market is not making me a happy person these days. We planned on withdrawing the money from Joey's 401k at the end of the year to help us cover some adoption related expenses. We have most of the money we need for the adoption itself in a money market account. (I say "most of" because the expenses can fluctuate depending on the situation.) But we wanted to use the money from Joey's 401k to help pad our regular savings account a little more for the weeks I would be out of work without pay. Unfortunately, we've lost some money this week. Not much compared to some, but it still made a nice little dent. I'm torn between riding this out and just taking the money now. Thoughts from those of you who are way better at this financial stuff than me?

The trip to New York to the Night of Hope is booked. I leave exactly one month from today. I still plan on writing a post about the win. I have about half of it written and saved... see what I mean about my attention span? It's coming. I promise.

Okay, so that was more than five minutes. But that's about all I can spit out for now.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

can i ask a personal question?

WHY are people so obsessed with getting me pregnant?

Since we discovered the "issues" with my pituitary gland, I've lost count of how many times I've heard, "So . . . does this mean you can get pregnant?" Or, the number of times I've heard stories about women getting their prolactin levels regulated and then getting knocked up.

Don't worry. I'm not mad if you're one of the dozens of people who've asked me this or if you're one of the women who has shared her experience. I'm just curious as to why people care so much.

Because, the truth is, I don't care.

No really. I don't. Just to satisfy the masses, though: Yes, it has crossed my mind that there is a possibility of getting pregnant. No, we are not pursuing pregnancy. I don't necessarily think that it's anyone's business why, but I'm going to write about it anyway.

I'm not opposed to getting pregnant down the road, if it's even possible. Yes, regulating my prolactin levels would probably increase our chances. Unfortunately, there are plenty of other factors to think about. For one, there are still male factor issues. While they aren't extreme, they aren't great, either. We would still need to do a minimum of IUIs to get pregnant. For another, I'm not ready to embark on the physical journey required of me for more fertility treatments. I went through three surgeries in 13 months. I put so much medication in my body, I don't look or feel like the same person I used to. Then, there's time. Wasting more time putting my body through IUIs, putting Joey through more testing . . . it's not worth it, because there is still no guarantee. If it doesn't work, we'll be right back to where we are now.

But mostly, and this is the #1 reason for not trying to get pregnant: it doesn't matter how I become a mom at this point.

I know it's not meant to come across this way, but asking me if I'm going to try and get pregnant or offering up pregnancy success stories makes me feel like people don't view adoption as a "real" way of becoming a mom. Or that all I ever wanted in the first place was to be pregnant. That's not true. All I ever wanted were kids, and now all I care about is having ONE child. Whether that child comes out of me or is dropped off on my doorstep by some mysterious stork doesn't make a difference. I learned a long time ago that I could be a mom any way I want. (Hell, I'm technically a mom now to a furry, 12-pound diva of a miniature dachshund.) And this, adoption, is the way I want to be a mom.

Being a mom isn't about carrying a child. It's about caring for a child. I know I've written that dozens of times before, but it's worth repeating here. Did I envision this path when I first set out to become a parent? No. I didn't look at Joey at the beginning of this and say, "Hey! Let's adopt a baby." I said, "Hey! Let's try and have a baby." Along the way, our path changed. I've embraced that path.

I only wish other people would, too.