Thursday, March 29, 2012

it's almost here

No, people, not summer. National Infertility Awareness Week is less than a month away, beginning on April 22! It's my favorite week of the year, and I write that with complete sincerity. NIAW is the one time where infertility lives in the spotlight. It's our time to shine. It's our time to stand up and share the truth about this disease.

This year's theme is "Don't ignore." Those of us who've experienced infertility know first-hand how dangerous ignoring can be - whether it's the physical consequences of ignoring the signs of infertility or the emotional consequences of ignoring someone who suffers from it. Let's use this opportunity to force others not to ignore us or this disease.

How You Can Participate

You can visit RESOLVE's website to learn about all the ways to support NIAW, but in the meantime, here are just a few:

1. Blog about it! We, as bloggers, are crucial to getting the word out about infertility. Including your blog in this initiative will also put you in the running for the Night of Hope award. You might recognize last year's winner on the website. :)

2. Attend Advocacy Day. Advocacy Day is on Wednesday, April 25, and it's important to attend this year more than ever as we're trying to get our Congressional leaders to support the Infertility Tax Credit.

3. Walk in the Walk of Hope. Saturday, April 28, a Walk of Hope will be held in Atlanta, GA. This event aims to bring awareness to the disease and to raise money for RESOLVE.

4. Share Your Story. Whether you choose to do it through your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or RESOLVE, sharing your story is important. Sharing provides a sense of relief from what you're experiencing, it shows others who are battling infertility that they are not alone, and it helps outsiders understand what we are going through.

Sharing is what NIAW is about, and I hope each and every one of you find a way to participate.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

where i'm at now

I'd be lying if I wrote that I was over it already. I'm not over it already. I probably won't be over it for a few days. I'm just going to let myself ride out on this anger/sadness train until it ends, because I figure if I force myself to be happy and get over it when I'm NOT over it, no one is winning.

Everyone has been supportive, though I have to admit, I'm a little sick of hearing "this just wasn't your time/baby." Is that all anyone knows what to say? YES, I know it's not our time or our baby. Thank you for the reminder.

(Okay, angry and hormonal rant is now over.)

The positives in this? We still don't have any negative comments about our profile - or at least none that either the agency or attorney are telling us. We're revisiting our application with the agency to be more open to certain drug exposures and medical issues, now that we've become more familiar with certain things after this situation. We are also now with two organization. Double the exposure, right?

We both realize that we have to be more patient. You'd think we would have that down by now after four years of infertility. But I'm also realizing that we need to be more aggressive. I can't be passive with our agency anymore. If you count me emailing them last night, I've only contacted them twice in almost five months. This doesn't mean I'm going to be up their asses, but I'm certainly going to be more proactive with them.

Everyone needs to know we're still here. We're still waiting. We're still eager to be parents.

So, who wants to help me with this? Who wants to help us get our names out there? There are three ways you can help us do this:

1. Like and share our adoption Facebook page.

2. Share this blog.


3. Promote our IndieGoGo site (the widget is also on the right-hand column of this page). The campaign ends in 10 days, but I will most likely need to restart it, as we did not hit our goal.

That's it. That's all I've got as far as putting myself out there. Now? I'm going to retreat back into grieving. I'm sure I'll be good as new in just a few days.

Thanks for all the love. We both appreciate it more than you know.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

i'm not calling it an update (updated)

Because there isn't much of an update to give. The paralegal is showing our profile and two others to the mom today, and she expects her to make a decision today. I'm not sure why she expects a decision today. Regardless, they expect to update us tomorrow with a decision.

I'm having a hard time balancing my emotions right now. I go back and forth between optimism and realism. My anxiety was high yesterday, but I feel calm today. I keep telling myself that there's nothing we can do about it. It's out of our control.

We'll see if that same sense of calm is still present tomorrow.

Now I'll call it an update: She didn't choose us.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

keeping things interesting

The last 24 hours have been a whirlwind.

Yesterday, I learned about an adoption situation with an attorney here in Florida. I'd already heard good things about him from a few PAPs, so I was interested in reading more about the expectant mother. I don't want to disclose details about the situation, but I will say that our concerns surrounded a medical issue. I immediately began contacting everyone I knew who might be able to help us answer our questions, in addition to researching in medical journals and reading adoption message boards on my own. We decided, after much consideration, that we would present our profile. This also meant that we would be signing with this attorney. We'll still be working with the initial agency we chose, but working with two organizations will simply increase our chances of an expectant mother choosing us. The attorney's office is visiting with the mother on Tuesday, and they'll be showing our profile then.

In the midst of all this, I found out that I do in fact need to have sinus surgery. My ENT said my scans weren't the worst he's ever seen, but they certainly weren't the best. He highly recommended the surgery because he thinks it will be the best long-term solution. I'm having my nose busted open on April 25, just three days after I finish school. It's not fun, but I also agree that it will help me.

There is never a dull moment in our lives. That's for sure.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

when nightmares become realities

There are times when I sit back, look at the world around me, and I ask, "Do I want to raise a child in this?"

By now, most of you know about Trayvon Martin. We live about 30 miles south of where the shooting occurred, so Joey and I first heard about it when the headlines read something about a neighborhood watch leader shooting a suspicious teen. In the days and weeks that followed, and as the story unraveled, we all learned that this wasn't the most accurate depiction of what happened. We also watched as the story began to spread. Between Friday and today, I've seen more people outside of this area post about Trayvon Martin on Twitter and Facebook than those who are local.

While we always seem to end up in the spotlight (Casey Anthony, Michelle Parker, and now Trayvon Martin), the Orlando area isn't any worse than other cities as far as crime goes. Sure there are murders like any other major metropolitan area, but much of it is gang or drug related and these activities are only common in certain areas of town. We're a racially diverse city and one that is generally accepting of others who have different backgrounds than our own.

Yet, like everywhere, some people aren't as accepting. As much as I would like to believe that Florida is not the South, it is. It's a state filled with good ol' boys and its laws allow you to carry a gun and shoot that gun virtually anywhere – so long that you can prove you were "standing your ground," which is what the shooter is essentially arguing.

Martin was a 17-year-old, unarmed child who weighed approximately 140 pounds. George Zimmerman is a 28-year-old, armed man who weighs approximately 250 pounds. It was never about self-defense. Zimmerman could have easily subdued Martin if Martin had come after him.

But that most likely never happened.

There is enough to worry about as a parent. It starts even before your child is born. As that child gets older, I imagine the fears a parent has for their child not only change, but they increase. Because when a child is a child, you can still protect them. But when that child goes out into the world on his or her own, how do you shield them from the dangers, and the dangerous people, around them?

You can't, and that scares the shit out of me.

I am sad that, in 2012, we are still judging people by the color of their skin. It upsets me to think of how different the events might have played out if Zimmerman had followed police instructions, or if he had not owned a gun. Or if Trayvon had been white. I am heartbroken for Trayvon Martin's family, and I'm terrified for other families whose children's lives might be at stake because they look, dress, or act different.

Trayvon "Tray" Martin was a superior student athlete who excelled in math. He wanted to major in engineering, and he went to aviation school part time because he dreamed of becoming a pilot someday. He enjoyed building model cars and airplanes, and according to his teachers, was always smiling. He was shot walking back to his father's fiance's house after buying Skittles and a can of iced tea. You can hear his cry for help on the 911 tapes, just before a shot rings out. Over 1,000 people attended his funeral on March 3. This kid was smart. He was loved. And he was taken far too soon.

This event is a wake-up call in many ways, none of which are positive. I think our community and our country will be talking about this for a long time.

They should be.

Monday, March 19, 2012

life since vacation . . .

. . . has been overwhelming.

The day after vacation, I had two doctor's appointments. The first was with my ENT. I'm pretty sure I blogged about it, but I first went to see an ENT back in January after I'd had several sinus infections within a six-month period. The ENT found a large polyp in my left nostril, and he placed me on antibiotics and steroids to try and shrink the polyp and get rid of any lingering infection.

Instead of an "all clear" at this appointment, I had more polyps! They were smaller than the original, too, which gave the doc a chance to see that I also had a deviated septum. This prompted him to write me a script for a CT scan, which I had done on Thursday (already do we see how much easier of a process this was than my mammogram?!). My official follow-up isn't until this Thursday, but Joey and I already took a sneak peek at my scan, and both of us bet money that he'll need to operate on my sinuses. My airways are obviously blocked, and I have a ton of sinus build-up. While I'm disappointed that 2012 won't be a surgery-free year after two years in a row of getting cut open, everyone - even my mom - raves about how much better I'll feel afterward. No more sinus infections, no more breathing issues at night. So, in a way, I'm kind of hoping he goes up there and cleans things out.

Appointment #2 was my first visit with the breast surgeon. I knew this would be a good, thorough appointment, because I went to see the same woman who operated on my mom's cancer over ten years ago. We met with her in the office first to review all of my scans and history, then she took me into the exam room for an ultrasound. I didn't think that the ultrasound would show anything because the two previous ones hadn't. But she did see the lump. The bad news? The lump doesn't have smooth edges (which is usually a sign that it's a cyst or some other kind of benign/harmless growth) and it's too close to the surface and small to biopsy. The good news, though, is that I don't need surgery on this. She just wants me back in six month to see if it's progressed. Honestly, I'm at peace with both appointments - even with the possibility of needing sinus surgery, because I know it would only benefit me in the long run.

Beyond my appointments, I've been swamped with my last month of school. I've been so distracted, I've yet to make a follow-up appointment with my RE about my prolactin levels and going back on birth control. Ah! As for my blogging absence, I'm hoping to finish some posts up this week that I've been working on neglecting for a while now. If I don't finish at least one other post this week, I'm giving all of you permission to come over and kick me into high gear.

Seriously. Don't let me slack!

Friday, March 16, 2012

DC vacation

I'm finally sitting down to write. This isn't going to be the most exciting blog post. I'm burnt out. It's been a rough week. I have about a month left of grad school, by then, I am pretty sure my brain will be mush. So, here it goes: the recap of our trip.

We left Friday morning, and got to DC around 9:30 am. We dropped the bags off at the hotel (the Hotel Palomar, which I highly recommend), got lost for a moment, then ended up at Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe in DuPont Circle for breakfast. From here, we hopped on the metro and spent the rest of the morning/midday at Arlington. This was my second time visiting the cemetery, and if you've never been, I highly recommend it. You can spend an entire day there and still not see everything. An absolute must is the Changing of the Guard ceremony. If it doesn't move you to chills, there's something wrong with you!

We checked into the hotel, napped, then headed over to Chinatown to eat dinner. When we got off the metro, we were stopped from crossing the street almost immediately. Within about two minutes, DC police had the road shut down and Secret Service was flying overhead in helicopters with sniper rifles aimed below. What the hell was going on?

Uh, the PRESIDENT drove by. That's what was going on. He had his window rolled down and waved at us! I almost died. Of course, it all happened so fast, we barely had time to take photos. Joey managed to snap one photo of the President's limo.

Needless to say, I was giddy the rest of the night. I've never been so close to a president before! We had a great meal at Matchbox Chinatown, and then walked the very long trek over to see some of the sights at night.

The next day, we spent the morning at the Newseum - another must see in DC. I could have spent all day here. They have some fantastic, interactive exhibits. It's one of the few places that you have to pay to get into, but it was well worth the money. After the Newseum, we walked back to see the sights during the day, including the Vietnam Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.

We were so exhausted after all the walking that we didn't do much at night except EAT and DRINK, first at the hotel, then at Marvin DC. The downside of consuming all that wine was my inability to see the chair in the hotel room after stumbling back from the bathroom. It was my little toe versus the chair leg, and the chair leg won. Result? Tears and a broken pinky toe for Katie. (I still can't wear close-toed shoes at this point.)

Saturday was rough because of my toe. We hobbled around the National Museum of American History and the National Museum of Natural History in the morning until I simply couldn't walk anymore. Then, we hobbled over to a great local bar, Penn Quarter Sports Tavern, to watch Florida (my alma mater) and Kentucky (Joey's favorite team) play in the SEC basketball tournament. My foot was thankful for the two hours of rest at the bar and the bloody mary to take a little bit of the edge off the pain.

After a quick mid-afternoon nap, we decided to cancel dinner plans. We had reservations at a nice seafood restaurant, but it was across town and I couldn't wear sneakers. And there was no way my foot could have made it into my heeled boots. Instead, we walked across the street and had a great Italian dinner at Vento, and then went back to the hotel to watch a movie (Crazy, Stupid, Love - so cute!) and crash early.

Sunday was our departure day, but it was also the day I was looking forward to: brunch with my very best IF friends! While I packed up our things at the hotel room, Joey ran down to the ATM to get cash out for my cab rides to and from brunch. It was then we realized our cards were shut down. We found out once we returned home that the bank placed a freeze on them because of recent ATM fraud in the area. Overall, we spend about four hours on the phone trying to get the issue resolved. Joey works at the bank, and he called everyone he could think of. Even his boss, a vice president, couldn't release the hold. It just kept going right back on our cards! It was the most stressful situation I've ever been in: stuck in a different city, hundreds of miles from home, with very little cash and no working cards.

I tried not to let it ruin my day, but it resulted in me not getting to spend as much time as I would have liked with my friends. The time we did get to spend together was great! We had an incredible brunch on the water at Sequoia, and we talked and joked as if we'd all been doing this for years. I wish I had a chance to spend more time with them on my trip. My vow is to get up to Philly in the next year to see my family and to have a reunion with these amazing ladies!

Overall, I'd say the trip was a success. We even got a chance to see some of the cherry blossoms in bloom, thanks to the warmer than usual weather. The card situation did put a damper on things, though. (The bank did apologize, and because of Joey's boss's status, they are looking at different policy and communication changes to ensure this type of thing doesn't happen again.) The one theme on this trip? We both kept saying how we hoped this was our last child-free vacation. Only time will tell, I guess.

More to come in a post tomorrow about my post-trip doctor's appointments, and explain why it's looking increasingly likely that I will need a surgery this year after all.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

she's baaaccckkk

We got back from vacation on Sunday, but things have been a little hectic since then with doctor's appointments, school, and work - hence the lack of updates. While I type away at a post about everything that's happened in the last week, why not share what's been going on in YOUR world? Did I miss anything big?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

take five

In just two days, we are on a plane to DC for the long weekend. I'm a little disappointed that we didn't get selected to go on the White House tour (not enough notice), but I'm very excited that I finally get to meet my amazing blogger/IF friends: Kelly, Marybeth, Mic, and Rita.

I'm also excited to finally get a break. With just one month left of grad school, the work has been never ending. That said (or written), I'll also be taking a break from blogging while we're away. I need to take full advantage of this opportunity and decompress. I'll be back next Monday with a full report on our trip. Until then . . .

Sunday, March 4, 2012

the perpetual 2WW

As we close in on the 4-month mark in our time on the waiting list, I have to say this. Having experienced both the 2-week wait in trying to get pregnant MANY times and now having experienced almost a half a year of waiting in the adoption process, the adoption wait is proving to be much more difficult.

Sometimes, it's torture.

With treatments, it was a constant cycle. Yes, I'd wait for two weeks and the end result was always negative, but at least I could be hopeful again in the two weeks that followed the negative. With adoption, there is nothing to lift you back up (unless you get a phone call). There's not a room full of doctors encouraging you - yes, this could be your month! Things look awesome! There's just . . . silence.

With treatments, you KNOW what your odds are. You know how the situation looks. You know how many eggs, or chances, you have. With adoption, you have no idea what's going on behind the scenes. You pay a shitload of money to sit there and hope that the agency is doing its job and working as hard as possible to put you out there in hopes that someone will choose you.

With treatments, you're constantly doing something. If it's not charting and temping, it's going in for scans and blood work. It's taking pills, giving yourself shots, timing, or monitoring your diet. With adoption, there's nothing to keep you busy. There's no regimen to follow. You're just out there on your own - floating. As much as I look forward to graduating with my master's degree at the end of next month, I fear what will happen when I don't have homework to fill my free time.

With treatments, as much as I wasn't in control, I felt more in control than I do now. Taking those pills and giving myself those shots MADE me in control. Now, I'm helpless. And for someone who craves order, this is a difficult feeling to swallow. Not only was I able to have some control over the process, I was also able to control what came next. Like many infertility patients, I was always researching the next "fork in the road" - the next step in the process. Now there is no next step. This is it. The end of the road. It's this or child-free living. If something happens, we're scammed out of money or we fork out too much in birth mother expenses for a failed adoption, that's it for us. There's nothing left to plan for.

I think the worst part, though, is the loneliness. I never felt completely alone when we were going through infertility treatments. There were dozens of women, whether on blogs, on Twitter, or in person, going through cycles at the exact same time. We would over analyze symptoms, bitch about pregnancies, and provide each other with the much-needed support that a negative beta requires.

And now? Well, most of those women are busy with babies and toddlers. Occasionally, there's a "new round" of infertiles, and then even they get pregnant. There are very few people going through the adoption process alongside us. It can be an isolating feeling. A feeling that will probably exist for the remainder of this wait.

However long this wait lasts.

Disclaimer: I'm not undermining the difficulty of waiting during IF treatments. I'm simply writing about my own, personal experience and emotions.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

it's not just about sex

The war against women in Washington raged on this week, and at the center of the debate was birth control. I'm sure that, by now, you've all heard the sound clip of Rush Limbaugh calling a Georgetown law student a slut and the backlash that ensued. But let's back up for a second, because I need to address this question that's been bothering me throughout this debate: Since when did birth control become just about sex?

Yes, a majority of American women do use birth control to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. I haven't forgotten the days of waiting in line at my college's clinic for that $10-a-month pack of little yellow pills. (Call me a slut if you'd like, but I was only "dating" the man I ended up marrying. Turns out, I could have saved a ton of money on these pills if I'd have known I was infertile.)

After college and marriage, birth control pills took on a different meaning for me. When my sister-in-law was diagnosed with cervical cancer a couple of years ago, birth control was no longer optional for her. It was part of a drug regimen necessary to keep doctors from having to give her a hysterectomy at the ripe young age of 28.

Then it became necessary for me, too. We still don't know exactly what causes my left ovary to produce cysts. What we do know is that it's a combination of birth control and medication to lower my prolactin that keeps the cysts at bay. I'm on a hiatus from the pills for six months while my RE experiments with my hormone levels, but a typical month of medication costs me $60: $30 for my Dostinex and another $30 for my birth control. I am very lucky to be able to afford this. I am also very lucky that my company allows the coverage of both of these medications.

What would happen if I couldn't afford the birth control pills, or if my employer did not cover them (making me unable to afford them at full cost)?

Eventually, in the next six months, my cysts would most likely return. I would be in constant pain. I would not be allowed to do things that normal, healthy people consider everyday activities: lift boxes or books at work, walk briskly (or participate in any more strenuous exercise). Even sex would be off limits, should a cyst grow big enough to potentially rupture. If a cyst ruptured, I could bleed internally to the point of infection, putting me in the hospital for days - a visit I wouldn't be able to afford. I could require surgery, and a third surgery equals the loss of my left ovary - which, in turn, equals four to six weeks of recovery time.

For me, birth control is preventive care, but it's not preventing pregnancy. It's preventing a situation that would cost my insurance company, (potentially) the government, and me more money should my employer's insurance not cover the costs.

This is part of the point that Sandra Fluke tried to make in her testimony. Instead, the only point heard was the one about SEX. Casting aside the ridiculous notion that college-aged women can't have sex (and yet college-aged men are revered for how many women they take back to their dorm rooms), the women whose reproductive organs are riddled with cancer, endometriosis, cysts, and even the women who are using birth control to help them conceive (see: IVF patients) are somehow lost in the media hype and the controversy of one commentator.

I don't believe for a second that Limbaugh thinks Ms. Fluke is a slut. So why did he say it? For shock value. Limbaugh is getting exactly what he wanted out of this situation. Instead of people focusing their attention on the debate at hand, they are focusing on his crude remarks. Yes, what he said was wrong. Beyond wrong, and he is a coward for saying such an awful thing. But he'll never take responsibility for his actions. Maybe he'll apologize, maybe not. At this point, who would believe him? I'm even willing to bet that he doesn't care about losing advertisers for his programming because of it. To focus this on Limbaugh is to play right into his hands.

The best thing we as women can do to respond is keep moving forward. We keep fighting for the rights that we deserve, whether it's the right to use birth control to prevent pregnancy or to prevent a serious disease. We keep speaking up so that our country's leaders can hear our voices. We let them know that this is important and why it's important. We do exactly what Sandra Fluke is doing now: we stand up and we don't back down.

Friday, March 2, 2012

dear anonymous commenters

I am so disgusted by your recent outbreak of negativity, not only on my blog, but on others. Everyone has their own opinion on infertility and/or adoption. That's fine. But enough with writing things that are completely untrue and, in some cases, incredibly offensive. What set me over the edge? The person who implied on my previous post that Snooki behaves the way she does because she's adopted.

Believe me, I'm the first person to stand up and defend the right to free speech. But guess what. This is my blog, which means that I have the freedom to censor your speech.

I never thought I would have to do this, but from this point forward, I will delete any profane or offensive comments toward IFers, adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoptees. If it comes down to it, I'll place the comment moderation on. What I won't have is people spewing their hatred and lies all over my blog. You want to be an asshole? You want to talk about how awful you think adopted kids grow up to be or how you think infertile people are whiny assholes? Then go start a blog about it.

Until then, stay the hell off mine.