Monday, September 30, 2013

"unsticking"

The older we get, the more comfortable we get.

We get set in our ways. We aren't willing to try new things. We don't want to embark on new adventures. We do things, not because we want to do them, but because they are "safe" to do.

We take the same path to work every day because we know the end result. We know exactly how much time it will take us to get from point A to point B, with or without traffic. We eat at the same restaurants because we know the quality of the food we are going to get. We live a life much like Groundhog Day.

We get stuck. And once we get stuck, it's hard to get un-stuck. It's hard to remember what it's like to let go. I'm guilty of it. Terribly so. Hence this blog post. I've been deep in thought lately, worrying about big changes that may be in our future instead of looking forward to the new possibilities. It's time I push my worrying ways aside and begin looking at life with a new filter.

Therefore, I'm challenging myself to step out of my comfort zone at least once a day for the next month - and hopefully beyond. It could be something as small as saying "hi" to a person I don't know in the break room. It could be taking a new route to work. It could even be something as ridiculous as dancing in the rain.

Whatever the case, it's time to step out of my shell and start challenging myself.

You're more than welcome to join me.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

shoulds and should nots

In case you missed it, yet another article on the emotional aspects of infertility hit the web yesterday.

I agree with many of author Jody Madeira's points about the misconceptions cast on the emotions one goes through during infertility. Anger. Desperation. Vulnerability. These are just a few of the many "feelings" we endure that are often misunderstood by the general public. Madeira counters that, "In reality, the lived experience of these emotions is highly complex and nuanced, and many purportedly 'toxic' emotions actually play positive roles and are critical to successful coping processes."

I think this is incredibly true for me and for so many others I know who have worked their way through this disease. Personally, I'm grateful for enduring these emotions. I think they helped me grow as a person and enabled me to become an advocate for myself and my disease. I also think that they allowed me to properly grieve the "loss" of my fertility, particularly when it came time for us to decide between adoption and child-free living. However, I also recognize that this doesn't speak for every person affected by infertility - and I think that we see this in the emotions displayed by the first commenter. Every single one of us has a different experience with this disease. You and I could have the exact same journey. We could go through the same medical procedures at the same time, with the same results, and resolve our journey in the exact same way. But our experiences, our feelings, could be drastically different.

Anger did spur me to action with treatment for a while, but not forever. I hit a wall after my fourth IUI, and I knew that I was emotionally taxed. I couldn't endure any more medical intervention. Even when we revisited the idea of IVF several months later, the thought of being on another RE's table made me sick to my stomach. My rage and depression DIDN'T "coexist with hopefulness, optimism, gratitude, and even apathy" for a good period of time, and I hated when people tried to convince me otherwise. It made me feel as if my emotions were completely invalid.

For all intents and purpose, I was irretrievably broken.

Eventually, I did pull myself up by my bootstraps (with the help of my RESOLVE support group and many of my family members and friends) and I moved forward. It took a long time, therapy, and medication. It's still sometimes a process, trying to reclaim myself. I think I've done a decent job at this, but I know many more who haven't been able to bounce back. They can't. For one reason or another, infertility has destroyed them. I've watched this disease break people, marriages, careers, and dreams. I've seen the beyond-the-limits desperation that this disease can inflict upon its sufferers.

What's the point I'm trying to make?

That we aren't required or predestined to come out of this a certain way. That we are all entitled to feel our own emotions and use them in whatever way that we please. That we don't have to be advocates if we don't want to be. There's no right or wrong way to cope with this. Whatever you feel, whatever emotions overcome you - they are all valid. Sometimes you can pull through them, and sometimes you can't. Sometimes you can use them as stepping stones, and sometimes they are so painful that you can't use them at all. You can only allow yourself to feel them. And that is as important, if not more so, than putting a positive spin on every negative point.

To those who've used the negativity to do something positive, kudos to you. But for those who haven't - for those who cannot embrace the desperation, like "Chewie" - that's okay, too. You don't need to be "more" or "less" anything. Just be you.

Friday, September 20, 2013

one step at a time

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a walker.

Sort of.

K took her first steps a few weeks ago. We were so excited. We waited around with our phones in our hands for two days, trying to get her to do it again so that we could catch it on film. We finally did, and we were convinced that this was the "beginning of the end." That soon, we would have one energetic little girl running around the house.

Only that hasn't exactly been the case. She'll stand on her own and take a few steps here and there, but most she still enjoys scooting across the floor from point A to point B.

At first, I was a little concerned. Was there something wrong?

But then I remembered my child's personality. She is, for lack of a better word, stubborn. She's always been this way, even as a tiny baby but more so now that she's becoming a toddler. Independent. Full of attitude. I think that she just knows what she wants to do, and she'll do it on her own terms. I confirmed this yesterday with the pediatrician's office (on an unrelated check-up for a short-lived virus). We'll just have to wait for the full-time walking. She can do it, and she'll let us know when she's ready for it.

Until then, she'll continue to wreak havoc around the house on all fours. Which is absolutely fine with me. :)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

fantasy land

There was an excellent op-ed in the New York Times this morning about the "magical thinking" of infertility treatments. If you haven't seen it yet, go check it out. The authors wrote very eloquently about the reality of infertility treatments, and it hit very close to home for me. It also brought my mind back to the post that I wrote several weeks ago regarding the release of the latest infertility statistics - specifically my last point about the evolution of science.

We can't deny the strides we've made with science and technology in every aspect of health. In fact, just yesterday I watched a video about an app that cardiologists are using to monitor patients' heart rates. All you do is place your thumbs at particular points on an special iPhone case that connects to the app, and it instantly registers your heart rate and pulse. Amazing, right?

But science and technology aren't cures - at least not for everything (yet). We haven't yet found a solution to bringing down cancer rates. There is no cure for AIDS. Hell, it's 2013 and we still have to endure sadistic, expensive tests like MRIs and mammograms to help diagnose injuries and diseases. We've come a long way, but we aren't nearly where we need, or want, to be.

This goes for infertility, too. The most recent scientific "breakthrough" in reproductive medicine is using time-lapse photos to help aid REs in choosing the best embryos, a practice that other areas of medicine have been using for years. Less than half of IVF cycles performed worldwide are unsuccessful. Far less than half. We still have individuals and couples who are in the category of "unexplained" infertility - about 30 percent. We're a long way from using the term "implant" instead of "transfer."

We stopped treatment before enduring IVF. There were a number of reasons for this, but the largest deciding factor was the physical one. Did I want to put my body under the amount of stress that an IVF cycle requires, for a less than 40 percent chance of working? The answer was: hell no. The authors of the op-ed say it best: "Ending our treatments was one of the bravest decisions we ever made, and we did it to preserve what little remained of our shattered selves, our strained relationships and our depleted bank accounts."

Ending treatment isn't for everyone. Some people want to exhaust every possible avenue, and I respect that. However, I also value throwing in the towel. It isn't giving up. It's not a sign of weakness. In fact, it's the exact opposite of that. It's the essence of strength. It's making the choice to do what's best for you and your family. It's about recognizing what your limit is and sticking to that.

And it's not about turning your cheek to medical intervention. (I also think it's incredibly important to attend conferences such as the one mentioned in the article to stay abreast of the changes and challenges with treatment.) Instead, it's about understanding that medical intervention can only take you so far. There's only so much that doctors and scientists can do.

For now, at least.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

12 years

It was a busy day today, and I didn't have as much computer time as I wanted to write about 9/11. Instead, I thought I would post photos that I've taken at Ground Zero over the years.

2002

2002

2010

2011 (the 10th anniversary)


Note the similarities between this photo and the one that I took in 2002. Both were outside of St. Paul's Chapel:

2013

Never forget.

Friday, September 6, 2013

i still weep

A close friend of mine texted me earlier this week to thank me for still supporting and understanding those who are still waiting for their miracles. She said that she appreciated the fact that I still felt the emotional pain.

I appreciate it, too.

I won't pretend like it's the same pain it was prior to becoming a mom. It doesn't even come close, but I'm glad it's still there. It's is a reminder that everything that everything we went through is real. It's a reminder that there is no cure for our disease. And it's a reminder of what a miracle it is for us to be parents.

It doesn't hold me back. It allows me to push forward. Even though I still weep, it gives me strength. It prepares me for everything that's still to come for us - and everything that's yet to come for others. It's the catalyst for everything I do, everything I fight for, and everything I hope for.

Infertility isn't something I wish on anyone, but I'm personally thankful for this journey. This pain. I will carry it in my heart forever.

And I'm okay with that.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

on the move

It feels like it's been years since I last blogged.

In reality, it's been a week, which is still a long time for me. We spent the holiday weekend on a much-needed mini vacation to visit Joey's sister in Tennessee. It was K's first time on an airplane, and she did quite well. We only had one minor tantrum at the end of the return flight, and I think it was due to the air pressure. Otherwise, she slept for most of the trip up and back.

Our return home was marked with exhaustion and anticipation: Four days before we left on our trip, we put the house on the market.

This might come as a surprise to some, but it's something that we've been discussing for months now. We purchased our townhouse at the bottom of the market, as a foreclosure, and we've watched as home prices have shot up in our area over the last 3.5 years since we moved in. They reached a new high in the last month or two, and we figured we may as well try to strike while the iron is hot. It's been on the market for a week now, and we've had three inquiries and one showing, so we're getting steady interest. We'll see how the next several weeks play out.

Regardless, I think there are big things coming this way.