PLEASE NOTE: If you are struggling with infertility or are currently trying to conceive and you DON'T want to read about my pregnancy (which I totally understand), I recommend starting at the beginning of the blog (March 2010) and reading from there. I find out I'm pregnant in June 2011 so there is a lot of trying to conceive posts in between that you might find funny, helpful or relatable. Wishing you all the luck in the world!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

My Period Is More like a Statement

Oh, the blog posts I had in my mind to write the last month or so. It drives me crazy that I had a lovely little post in mind for Halloween, my birthday and Thanksgiving… but all of those occasions have come and gone. It would be silly to write about them now. It would be as if a celebrity news show reported today that Liberace was gay. Ummm, dude… that’s old news.
So, I’ll just share with you what is going on in my life right now. As many of you know, in July, I switched jobs. My new job is in the infertility world where I answer phone calls, receive emails and respond to general inquiries all across the United States related to matters of the uterus (as well as other reproductive parts). My primary goal is to help match people with reproductive endocrinologists in their area that might be able to help them. For example: let’s say you have PCOS, have insurance and live in New Jersey. I would find you a doctor or two that’s in your neighborhood that accepts your insurance and specializes in PCOS. I consider myself almost a matchmaker… an eHarmony of sorts… between person and doctor. When you make an ideal match, it’s incredibly rewarding.

Along the way though, I’ve been asked a series of general questions that reminds me how much people don’t know when it comes to trying to conceive. There was a study done in Australia that said that only 13 percent could correctly answer which days of their menstrual cycle they were fertile, even though 68 percent said they believed they had accurately timed sex in their attempts to conceive naturally. Of course, I expect the, “How do you use an ovulation prediction kit?” question but below are examples of questions I wouldn’t have even imagined anyone would ask:
“Is it possible to just put one sperm in me? I don’t want to have twins.”

“I don’t want to go to the doctors. If I put my sperm in a cup, can someone just look at it and tell me if it looks ok?”
“I’m having trouble getting pregnant. Do I need utility treatment?”

“I didn’t get my period this week. Do you know if I’m pregnant?”
“What’s the difference between Arti-ficial insemination and just ficial?”

And my favorite because it really was way out there…
“My female dog had sex. Could she be pregnant?”

I resisted the urge to ask if his dog used protection or not.

In addition to the unexpected questions I receive, I get a range of people asking about Gender Selection, Egg Freezing, teenagers who have actually been trying to get pregnant (I attempt to send them to their room but that doesn’t seem to work) and in some cases, super lovely people who just don’t even know how to start the process or if they need help. No matter the issue, the question, the concern and even the age, everyone is, for the most part, extremely nice and just want what anyone wants: to have a family.
It took me three years to get pregnant and it was my third IVF that brought me my now 10 month old son. Because of my job and hearing some incredible stories (it STILL amazes me what some women, men and couples have gone through), I know how lucky I am to have a child. There were times when I sincerely thought it would never happen that there is literally a moment every day when I look at him and think, “I can’t believe he’s mine.” Truly. I still worry I’m in that episode of DALLAS from many years ago when a character wakes up and it turns out it was all a dream.

The thing is, talking to all of these people; there are times when I’ve wished I could have a second child. Truth be told, I always thought I’d have a little girl. I have a huge Barbie collection, a dollhouse, a love of make-up and princess dresses (rest assured that I stopped wearing the princess dresses after the age of 8). I used to joke that unless my son ends up becoming a drag queen, we will not be sharing any of these experiences together.
The infertile in me always yells at myself though and says, “You have one. You didn’t even think you’d get that far. You should be grateful and shut the hell up.” I’ve felt that way for a long time – I’m lucky to have one.

And then a thought hit me a week or so ago that pissed me off.
No one ever tells a fertile person, “Be happy you have one.” Fertile people can turn to each other and say, “What do you think? Do you want maybe a third kid? Let’s start trying tonight.” And then they are typically pregnant within a few months.

I’m not saying I hate fertile people for this. Am I blindly jealous? Sure. But my point is why do they get to have as many kids as they want while infertiles should just be happy for what they get? Why can’t we be deeply appreciative for having what we have but still want to expand our families? Why do we lose that right?
The thing is that despite wanting a second child, despite working in the infertility industry and despite the dream of having a daughter, I don’t think it will ever happen. Forget for a moment that I don’t think we could afford treatment again, I don’t think we could even afford a second child!

Plus, quite honestly, I don’t know if I could go through another three years of infertility. The financial strain, the physical strain, the emotional strain were all consuming. I’m still working on feeling normal again. I’ve lost my “baby weight” but now I still have the “IVF weight” ahead of me.
I also don’t know if I’d want to put my marriage through that again either. Even when you have a healthy relationship and support and love each other, it’s difficult not to let “trying to conceive sex”, hormone injections and the rollercoaster ride of infertility get to you.

So even though I don’t think a second child is in the cards for me, I still reserve the right to be upset about it.
Right now, I have my period… and as the title of this blog says, it’s less a period more than it is a statement. Whenever Aunt Flo comes to town, I now try to reconcile that odds are that I will never again say that its cycle day 1, that I need to call a doctor, that I shouldn’t hope or wonder how this cycle will go. I’m 39 years old; I have bad eggs and limited finances. Unless it happens on its own through a series of miracles, it’s never going to happen. I need to accept that.

The good news is that I can take my experience and my sincere overwhelming empathy and use it to help those who seek my assistance. I certainly don’t have all the answers but if I can help in any small way to possibly be a part of someone else’s happy ending, then that will be my new reward.
For now, as always, I’m wishing all of YOU hope and humor. No matter what each of our situations are, we ALL could use both!
 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Me - The Failure

I don’t have a middle name. I never did. If I gave myself one though these days, it would be “failure”. That’s how I’ve been feeling these days. I’ve been disappointing pretty much everyone in my life… including myself.

Well, I should amend that. I FEEL like I’m disappointing everyone in my life. If they were called to testify for this blog (wouldn’t that be fun?), I can be objective enough to realize that they may disagree with me. It may all be my imagination that I totally suck. I can recognize that. However, it doesn’t change how I feel these days.

I have a new job/career, a new baby and it’s a whole new world I’m living in. I think of my life several years ago (which was much like SEX AND THE CITY without the need for penicillin) and I’m overwhelmed with how much has changed. I was thinner, I could take naps when I wanted to, my job was comfortably boring, I had a lot of time to ponder my life choices and my biggest concern was should I stay in on Sunday and watch PRETTY WOMAN for the 100th time or go to brunch with my gay best friend.

These days, I work an average of 10 hours a day, naps are a thing of the past (as is sleeping all the way through the night), my ass is so big that I feel like it’s following me, I’m constantly lamenting over whether or not I should sleep train my son, I’m behind on my emails, on phone calls and every second of every day is filled with something I have to do, should do or am forgetting to do.

It’s not that I’m complaining. It’s a good life. I just haven’t figured out how to handle it yet. Every day I’m learning something new, worried I’m screwing something up and in a continual state of confusion. It’s like being terminally stuck in a David Lynch film.
And let’s take a moment and discuss my sex drive, shall we? I dare say it’s not so much a “drive” as much as it is “parked” and collecting tickets. It started when “trying to conceive sex” became a chore and has been one big complication all the way to today when I’m not only too tired to have relations but I could not feel less sexy these days. So, it’s official. I’m calling time of death on my sexiness.  Mark the time on your watch.
My therapy appointments are early in the morning before work and since I’m often sleep deprived, I tend to oversleep and am late for them. Then, instead of talking about my life, my therapist makes our entire session about analyzing why I was late to therapy. Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar and an alarm clock in just not enough lady.
I have friends who I haven’t been able to find the time to speak to, bills I should pay, two missing credit cards (I know they are somewhere) and any goals I’ve ever had to be a super mom who power walks early in the morning, who takes her child to music class on the weekends and still finds time to throw dinner parties has gone down the toilet I haven’t had time to clean.
On more than a few occasions, because of the long hours at work, I have missed seeing my son before he goes to sleep. My husband has become a master of solo dinner and bath time with baby and he’s even nice enough not to be pissed at me for missing the routine.
One night recently, exhausted and frustrated that I once again missed spending time with my son, I came home, picked him up from his crib, held him in the glider while he slept and I cried. I worked so hard to have him. Do I spend enough time with him? Am I able to appreciate all of the little moments with such a full plate? Does he know that one of the main reasons I work so hard is to make a better life for him? Is there a way to explain that to a baby???
On the surface, everyone seems understanding (well, except for my therapist). People know I have an 8 month old, a new career I care about and that I’m doing my best. I just can’t go on like this though. My best, in my opinion, is crap. I’m always running behind, I'm always apologizing for something, I can’t lose weight, I miss quality time with my husband (both sexual and non-sexual time) and even though I spend as much time with my son as possible, I can’t help but feel like it’s simply not enough. I wish I was Wonder Woman. I wish there was an app on my phone to help. I wish that when I woke up in the mornings, I didn’t always have an upset stomach when I think to myself, “Ok. You’ve REALLY got to try to make progress today. Seriously.”
Like any situation in life, I always try to maintain a sense of humor and a sense of hope. All of us, our lives as they are now, will not stay like this. It’s always ever changing and we can only try to keep up with each change and enjoy it. I just can’t figure out how to. I’m lost and my GPS is looking at me and shrugging her shoulders.
Right now, I’m sitting on my living room couch, fighting a cold while my husband and son sleep in the other room. This is a VERY rare occasion to sit down and write a blog… or sit at all… or even breathe… or pretty much do anything. I had hoped that this quiet moment would bring some answers but it hasn’t.  The only thing I can think of that may help me handle all of these changes is more caffeine. Lots and lots more caffeine.
I’m sure I’ll figure it out eventually. I've worked too hard and too long to get to this point. I went through years of infertility treatment to have a beautiful son and I have used my experience with infertility to have a new career helping others with their treatment. I’m proud of that. Now, if I could manage my time better, get more sleep, have more energy, drop 50 pounds, find millions of extra dollars somewhere and have a real date night with my husband, that would be f*cking awesome.
I’m working on it. Stay tuned...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

My Big Fat Full Plate

I wish I could go back to times in my life when I thought I was busy and apologize. “I’m so sorry,” I’d say. “I misjudged you.” Right now, I don’t just have a full plate. I have an overloaded buffet platter and there isn’t even room for the smallest olive.

At present, I have an almost 7 month old baby (who is teething and waking up often in the middle of the night to make clear how he feels about teething) and I have embarked an entirely new career working with Fertility Authority. I also, by the way, really need to lose about 40 pounds. Each issue: New baby, new job, fat ass – could on its own be a full-time project. Still though, I do try to squeeze in exercise (does worrying count as cardio?), eat healthy (well, mostly), be a good and attentive mom (it’s 3am and you’re teeth hurt? Please… do go on!) and be the best damn worker I can be while learning everything on the fly.  So, it goes without saying that I’ve missed having the time to write on the blog.

Let me give you a quick example of a recent incident that best illustrates the state of both my brain and my household. This past Friday, I came home after a long week and an even longer day. The nanny, Aggie, who is a lovely, sweet and quiet older woman, was sterilizing the bottles while my husband was getting MJ undressed for his bath. Aggie wished us a happy weekend and then left. So I went into the bathroom to prepare the bath. I looked and saw there was a big pile of poop in the toilet. I immediately lectured my husband on remembering to flush and he came out on the defense claiming that he didn’t remember even pooping that day. This lead to a 15 minute debate of us trying to recall who pooped last. Just as we became convinced that we each were in fact the poop culprit, I got a call from Aggie all upset. “Jay… I’m so sorry. I did something terrible. I used the bathroom and forgot to flush.” She was mortified but we were relieved to know we hadn’t lost our minds.

Actually, to be fair, after 7 months of parenthood, we kept calling it “poopies”. Yes. I asked my husband if he made poopies. I’m not proud.

It is without exaggeration when I say that going through infertility has sincerely helped me during this crazy time. As I’ve mentioned before on my blog, when I was cycling or going through one of my, “Why the f*ck can’t I get pregnant” depressions, my daily morning motto was, “What do I need to do stay sane today?” There is something about a full plate that can overwhelm you but if you try to remember that you’re doing your best and getting through it, it can be calming. That’s really all we can do – our best.

And really, even though I’m exhausted and behind on everything, I am happy. Through my new job, I have met several people who are desperate to get pregnant and I do what I can to be comforting and helpful.  I find this incredibly rewarding.  I also find myself thinking of them while I hold my son at night. There was one person I spoke to who had truly been through more than any woman should bear and later that evening, as my son fell asleep on my chest (as many a man has done), I thought, “I hope one day, she will hold a baby in her arms like I am now.

Even though I was genuine in thinking this, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the time one of my friends who was getting married, sent another friend and I, who were very much single at that time, a card that said, “I hope you will one day know the happiness I feel.” Truth be told – the letter pissed me off. Extra truth be told – I actually put the card in a frying pan and set it on fire. If memory serves, someone had dumped me earlier that week and my engaged friend’s mere happiness made me feel like a failure. Although I don’t recommend setting things on fire, it did make me feel better.

I mention this because as much as I know my plate is full, it is full for good reason. I don’t ever want to lose sight of that gratitude or where I came from. At the same time though, I would never want my current happiness to be seen as hurtful. It’s a fine line and I’m still not sure how to walk it. Again though, I guess I can only do my best.

So please believe when I say that even though I’m not blogging as much anymore, I am here, I do care and I’m thinking of all of you. Truly. In the meantime, I hope that between now and my next post, I will have lost some weight, gained some more sleep, continue to excel at my job and for the love of god, remember whether or not I’ve pooped.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Are You There Universe? It's Me, Jay.

Oprah once said, “The universe speaks to us, always, first in whispers.” She said that the more we ignore it, the louder it gets. When I first heard this quote, I thought to myself, “If only that were actually true.” I wouldn’t say the universe ignores me or that I necessarily ignore it. I would describe our relationship more like the one you have with a distant aunt. You know you’re related, you say hi and smile at each other at the occasional family function but for the most part, you just assume they are mostly busy with other people.

In the last couple of months though, I have come to believe a bit more in this quote. I say “a bit” simply because I’ll always be a snarky pessimist at heart. Hey - I am what I am.

If you’ve been reading my blog for quite some time, you would know that in addition to my years of stand-up comedy and my freelance writing, I have a job that I’ve always described here as simply a “day job”. It’s not my career or my passion. Its primary function has mainly been to pay the bills, get insurance and steal free pens when I need them. Oh, Uniball Signo 207… you bring out the thief in me!

I have been at my current “day job” for awhile now. It’s a very stable job (read: slightly boring) and with the exception of its many benefits, the greatest asset truly has been the people I work with. In terms of co-workers, I’ve sincerely been overwhelmingly blessed. They make the fact that I don’t really care for what I’m doing bearable.

Regular readers of my blog also know that a few years back, since I told my boss about my infertility issues, things haven’t been ideal. I was hoping including him in on my struggle would make him more understanding of my occasional doctor appointments but instead, he heard the word ‘ovary’ and much like a woodland creature, he panicked and ran away. OK, not literally ran away but at the very least, he used the wheels on his chair and rolled away from me slowly.

Even during my pregnancy, he wrote in my review that I had been late time to time. He neglected to mention that the reason I was late was to see my OB/GYN. Then, a week before I was to return from maternity leave, he emailed me that he was giving some of my work to a co-worker. His explanation was that he wanted to make sure he had as much coverage as possible and now that I had lost my flexibility (read: something came out of my uterus), he wanted to have extra back up in place.

In my last post, I had mentioned that having something so positive in your life tends to shine a spotlight on the things that kind of suck. After the years of trying to get pregnant and especially the moments where there were no answers and it seemed hopeless, the fact that we did manage to kick infertility’s ass and have an adorable son is a great accomplishment. You may think this is overdramatic but there are times when I even feel like, “I went through extensive fertility treatments and not only did I have a baby, but I held on to my sanity too.” To me, it isn’t just that I had a baby, which of course means the world to me, but it really is that I didn’t become a total crazy person who stands on a street corner somewhere screaming about the government.

This is one of the reasons I still talk about infertility so much. IT. IS. F*CKING. HARD. So few understand or relate and for every helpful, positive comment you get, you still receive ten stupid comments (i.e. “Have you thought about using your brother-in-law’s sperm?”) When I connect with someone who is going through an IVF cycle, or who can’t afford medication, or who has had a miscarriage, I sincerely care and want to help. Although I don’t know or relate to every scenario, I know the pain of disappointment, the feelings of failure, isolation and the fear that this is never going to end.

In the last couple of months, I’ve been thinking about all of this and asking myself, “What do I want to do with my life?” The infertility experience, the people I’ve met, this blog and my journey have all left an indelible impression on me. To continue spending eight hours a day, five days a week on something that doesn’t excite me and where my boss treats me like less like I’ve had a baby and more like I’ve had a head trauma is something I can’t ignore.

So, after much debate, a whole lot of discussion, many a conversation with my therapist, my husband and my gay best friend (everyone should have one), I have officially accepted a full-time position with Fertility Authority (http://www.fertilityauthority.com/). I hope to bring my humor, empathy and the free pens I stole from my current job to the role.

Truth be told, this is a big career change for me and I’m going to miss seeing my current co-workers on a daily basis more than I could ever possibly say. If I wanted to, I could have stayed at my current job till I retired. It’s safe and despite the weirdness with my boss, I do believe he would have either eventually gotten over it or I would have simply gotten better at ignoring him. The thing is though that when I think of Oprah’s quote, it does seem like the universe has been pushing me in this direction. Fertility Authority’s overall objective is something that I’m passionate about and it’s something I feel I could bring a lot to.

One of the things that have amazed me the most about this turn of events is I always believed that when you had children, you took fewer risks. You have people depending on you and you don’t want to screw around with your livelihood. What I didn’t expect was that my son actually has motivated me to take more risks. Of course I don’t mean bungee jumping off a crumbling bridge, eating raw eggs on a daily basis or taking your life savings and gambling it away recklessly. I’m speaking more of calculated risks that could offer rewards beyond what you have now. I want to do better because not only do I want the best life for him as possible, but I want him to have a mother who does something for a living that makes her happy. As my mom has always said, “A happy mother is a good mother.

Mind you, I don’t mean to imply that working for the Fertility Authority is a huge risk. Of the staff I have met so far, they are phenomenal, hard working, smart, motivated, caring women and this is a tremendous opportunity that offers a whole different set of benefits. Still, in this economy, switching jobs can be scary and leaving the job you know so well can be intimidating. I am excited though and I hope to not only make the team at Fertility Authority proud, but all of you proud as well.

So, hopefully, the universe is doing right by me and I’m doing right by listening to it. In the meantime, I ask you to please wish me luck and let me know if you need any pens. I have a feeling a few extra ones may fall into my purse when I leave.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hopeless or Hopeful

I often get emails asking my opinion on different matters relating to infertility. I’m always honored that people want to hear my thoughts on any topic as lord knows my mother-in-law doesn’t.

Recently, I received an email from someone who has a friend who is currently having major fertility issues. She didn’t specify the details. She just said that her friend was spending thousands of dollars on infertility treatments, that they haven’t had any success and she wanted to sit her friend down and tell her that it was time to “let it go”. The writer asked what I thought.

Short of writing back, “Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!”, I told her that under no circumstances should she ever tell her friend to let it go, give up or move on. Of course, I don’t know all the details but I DO know that if you’re trying to have a baby and you're having a difficult time with it, it’s for you, your doctor and your partner to decide when enough is enough.

I should note that although this person didn’t tell me whether or not she herself had children, I can’t help but suspect that she not only does, but that she most likely didn’t have any issues getting pregnant. Otherwise, she wouldn’t even consider having this chat with her friend. No one should ever tell anyone else to give up hope.
I’ve often joked that I’m in an abusive relationship with hope. Hope has been known to f*ck people over and it’s also been known to drive people towards their goal. It's a tricky thing and I still have yet to totally make peace with it.

This all makes me think about a series of unique anniversaries I’ve had recently. On Memorial Day last year, it was the transfer for my third in vitro and on June 10th, 2011, I found out I was pregnant. This year, in honor of these two occasions, I took a moment, held my son and made sure to fully appreciate how far I’ve come and how very grateful I am.

It’s humbling to look at MJ and remember all that we went through to get him. It’s also down right overwhelming to think of him as a little 8-cell embryo; the only one that survived out of thirteen eggs. Last year, right before they did the transfer, they showed me a picture. I looked at it and asked the doctor, “Since I only have one, do you think we should have done assisted hatching?” He answered, “Not with an embryo this perfect.” At the time, I had such little hope that I didn’t think much of that statement. Now that it’s a year later though, I can’t help but agree. He was a perfect embryo… and now, he’s a perfect little baby I’m able to hug and kiss (which I do often).

My husband calls MJ the human equivalent of Prozac. He is truly a smiley, giggly guy that easily can make a whole room of people laugh. I think of the people my husband and I were last year during that third cycle. We spent a lot of time in separate rooms depressed. We were hopeless, isolated and at odds with whether or not we could afford or even bear doing any more infertility treatments. These days, things are just so different. We’re usually all in the same room, together, laughing and deeply appreciative that we finally have the child we dreamed of. It sounds disgustingly corny but I honestly think that at least twice a day, one of us will turn to the other and say, “Can you believe this? We have a son!” He is our miracle.

I’ve gotten a few emails asking why I still write about infertility when I could be writing about being a new mom. After my experience, they go hand in hand. I am a new mom after struggling to get pregnant. I can’t speak for everyone but for me personally, like it or not, infertility has effected how I am as a mother. I don’t believe I would have been as patient or as “in the moment” if it wasn’t for our fertility issues. I would have taken it more for granted, I would have complained more about the lack of sleep and I wouldn’t have fully appreciated how freaking lucky I am to have this sweet baby in my arms.

It’s fitting that I was asked to be a judge for the Sher Institutes, “I Believe” Video Contest (click here) The winner of this contest would win a free IVF Cycle. If you have a moment, I urge you to check out some of the videos as they range from inspirational to heartbreaking to hopeful. I spent two nights just watching them all and it reminded me once again that hope can be both torturous and motivating. It also reminded me how many people's arms are still empty. I related and remembered so much of what many of the couples shared and it pained me to the core that I can't do more for them. They should be applauded for sharing their stories. If this were a fair and just world, they should also all have babies.

In these videos, you see first hand accounts of what hell so many have gone through but here they still are: ready to try again. This is why I believe that those who deal with infertility don’t get the respect they deserve. There are no promises or guarantees. There is only a whole lot of hope. Hope that this time, it could work. That's a strength worthy of deep respect.

Today, for a myriad of reason, I’m actually a little down and maybe it shows in this blog posting. My day job has been an uber bummer lately and since I'm a writer at heart (here's a piece by the way I wrote for Fertility Authority called, "Get Out of My Womb": Click here), I’ve been shopping a book around on infertility only to be told time and time again that the topic of infertility is too depressing. It kills me that there are countless books on the holocaust but somehow, the topic of trying to get pregnant is considered unworthy of a book topic. (Note: I don’t mean to compare my uterus to the holocaust but hopefully, you get my meaning).

Having my son has changed me in many ways. One of the most noteworthy is that since something so positive has entered my life, it makes all the negative less tolerable. I don’t want to spend my days doing something I don’t enjoy. I’d rather make my life more meaningful and somehow, in some way, contribute something real to the infertility world as it's become something I deeply care about. It's an issue that's dismissed, ignored, swept under the rug and often misunderstood. If I could spend my time changing that, I really would want to. I just don't know how yet. Especially when people keep telling you infertility is too sad. And here I always thought I made it funny. Well, bearable at least...

I did have a thought earlier today though that, believe it or not, ties all of this (hope, work, infertility, etc.) together. I was thinking about what I’m going to do with the rest of my life when I thought, “I don’t know if I have faith in the future, but I have faith in me.” I've thought this before and I'm always happy to remember it because it's true. Whether it’s your job, getting pregnant, your marriage or anything you’re unsure of – that is the bottom line. You need to have hope in you. No one knows how things will go but you know yourself and you have to believe that you’ll know what to do, the right path to choose, when to keep going, when to give up or what you ultimately want. Perhaps a cautious form of hope… but hope nonetheless.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

M.O.M.: Masters of Maternal (For ALL Women)

Whether you’re a mother, you are working towards being a mother, you have a mother or you are one sexy mother-f*cker, I’m wishing you a happy mother’s day and I thank you for stopping by the blog.

Although this is the third post I’ve written on Mother’s Day, it’s my first Mother’s Day that I’m actually a mother (which is something I quite often never thought I would be.) The first post I wrote was entitled, “Happy Non-Mother's Day!” (here’s the link
) and the second was called, “Mothering Myself” (here’s the link). For this year though, I’ve been debating what I wanted to write about.

For fun, I looked up “mother” in the dictionary and one of the definitions that was listed was one I had never noticed before. It was, “A term of address for a female parent or a woman having or regarded as having the status, function, or authority of a female parent.” I liked the sound of that. To me, it says that although you may not have physically given birth to a child, you are maternal and someone thinks of you as a mother to them.

This made me think of one of my long-term friends, Susan. She never had any children and even though she is around my mother’s age, I wouldn’t describe our friendship as a mother/daughter one. If anything (and I’m not saying this to get on her good side), in my mind, I think of her and I as the same age.

In addition to our friendship, I have often referred to her as, “My Fairy Godmother”. Our relationship, her endless support, her overwhelming generosity and love when I needed it the most, has definitely carved out a special part for her in my heart. That’s why, in my mind, when I read, “regarded as having the status…”, I can’t help but think of her. She has a unique, unconventional mother-like role in my life in the sense that she’s nurturing, thoughtful, giving and her affection is unconditional. It also helps that she shares the same sick sense of humor as me. That’s always a huge plus.

I also think of my amazing, strong and exceedingly fun friend, “CGD” (which is what she goes by on her blog which you can find here. C, as I’ll call her for short, also holds a special place in my heart. She has endured more than anyone should ever have to in her journey to be a mom. She has suffered through numerous fertility treatments, one loss at 15 weeks and at present, she does not yet have children.

When I think of her though, I think of her as a mother. Actually, if I had to categorize her, it would be as, “A mother waiting to happen.” I know in my heart, she WILL be a mother some day whether it’s through adoption, donor eggs or some other method. C is a determined, giving, exceedingly loving woman. She too provided a tremendous amount of support when I needed it and although I know it could not have been easy for her when I was pregnant, she was always honest with me about her feelings (when she needed space from me and when she was ok with seeing me). I deeply respected that she found her own way to acknowledge her own limits while still managing to be a part of my experience. She also has a damn fun sense of humor too. Any child under any circumstance would be lucky to have her in their lives and again, I don’t know if I could ever explain why but I just know in my heart that there is a child waiting for her.

Last year, literally on Mother’s Day, I started estrogen patches in preparation for my third IVF cycle. This year, I’m holding the baby that cycle produced. When I reminded my own mother of that this morning, how little hope I had last year starting that cycle and how much has changed, we both started to cry. My poor son looked at us both with an expression of, “Jeez ladies! What the hell are you so upset about???” Little does he know that not only were we crying about him but that it was happy tears. And how nice is it that I got to share that moment with my mom this morning on Mother’s Day? I mean, seriously. What a difference a year makes.

Now that I’m actually a mother myself, I see more than ever that there are all different kinds of maternal. There are step-mom’s, mother-in-law’s, a loving older sister, aunt or friend or your mother. Although this day is still tremendously difficult for those who want to experience pregnancy and/or being a mother in some form or another to a baby, I can’t help but feel that it isn’t just about the physical aspects of being a mom… it’s about a feeling. And really, when I think about the infertility community, I’ve never met a more nurturing, loving group.

So, as my very first sentence of this blog says, no matter who you are, your circumstances or where you’re at in your journey, I am sending you my love today and I hope and pray from the bottom of my heart that by this time next year, we’ll all be in an even happier place.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Womb And Board

In the last week of my maternity leave, I was on a New York City subway with MJ securely fastened in his second hand baby Bjorn. I had a quick errand to run and I decided to bring him along with me. I was wearing old maternity black pants (pulled up so high, I could have used it as a bra), a nursing black tank top (with one snap unhooked and a big spit up stain down the front), a black cardigan (also with spit up on it), no make-up, bags under my eyes and my hair in a very half-hearted disheveled bun. My son, although adorable, was dead asleep, snoring, his mouth gaping open and drool coming out of the corner.

Sitting across from me on the train was another woman who was carrying her baby in an intricate origami-like cloth that was no doubt made from the silk of more than a million wild spiders. Her outfit was impeccable, her make-up was flawless, her hair was in a well carefully put together braid and she was even wearing heels. Her daughter had a huge bright pink bow in her hair and an even bigger smile on her face. They both flirted with all the passengers on the subway and I could clearly tell was dazzling even the most hardened New Yorkers with their sheer fabulousnesses. If this had been a “Cutest Mommy and Baby Contest on the F Train”, we definitely would have lost. C'est la vie…

This little snapshot on the subway basically describes the majority of my maternity leave. MJ and I hanging out together, bonding, trying to balance it all and not doing pretty much anything as perfectly as we would have liked. Ultimately though, we got to our destination and we had our own kind of fun (even if we weren’t the most attractive looking that particular day).

Also, thanks to breastfeeding, the personalities of my boobs emerged while I was on leave. My left one is always full, cooperative and ready to go. My right is a little bitch who is often difficult and temperamental. Since MJ started out in the NICU, they gave him a pacifier early on, then started him with a bottle and THEN, let me breast feed (which is opposite of how the recommend) so he is very much nipple confused. He does show mild interest in my breasts but only to be topped off or for a quick snack. When he really wants to eat, he clearly prefers the bottle. I know this because whenever I attempt to breastfeed when he’s starving, he gives me a look like, “Lady… put your breast away. I’m in no mood to work that hard.” If and when I push the issue, he actually starts to cry and the prospect of my chest. I should mention that I had an ex-boyfriend do something similar in college (still not sure why) but when it’s your son who gets upset at having to deal with your boobs, it’s really not a good feeling. So, the pump has become a constant companion these days.

And speaking of pumping, I’d like to share a quick anecdote with you: My mother-in-law visited recently and while I was in the middle of pumping (which is both private and desperately unattractive), my mother-in-law came into my bedroom without knocking and began talking to me about what she was planning to wear that day. To her credit, she did thank me near the end of the conversation for giving her such a beautiful grandchild but this was a moment I would have preferred while NOT expressing milk from my tits.

As for MJ in general, he’s excellent. He’s a very smiley baby and I adore that one of his favorite things to do is to listen to me talk. True – he’s a captive audience but I swear - he seems genuinely interested. We’ll do a repertoire of the bouncy seat, the swing, laying in the crib and watching the mobile but usually by the afternoon, the only thing that entertains him is sitting with me and having me talk to him about one thing or another. He’ll sit and look at me riveted as I talk about even the most boring subjects. Two weeks ago, I was doing my laundry and turned the matching of socks into a romantic comedy about two cotton socks finding each other and falling in love. He stared at me as if I were brilliant story teller. If only I could get his father to do this…

Overall, the three months I had off went quickly and in retrospect, there is still so much I wish I could have done better but it goes quick, it’s intense and let’s face it, I’ve never had a baby before so what the hell did I know? When I think back to my “two week waits” after all of my in vitro’s, I think the third one was the first time I actually handled it the way I wanted to. The first two times, I either stayed home too much that I drove myself crazy or I didn’t stay home enough that I consequently made everyone around me crazy. I supposed this means that I have to take maternity leave three times in order to finally “get it right”. Due to my fertility issues though, that’s not going to happen. Well, unless they let me take it three times for one kid. Oh yeah. My oh-so-understanding boss would love that.

Even with the best advice though, none of it prepares you for the first few months. The only thing I would say is plan on doing NOTHING but being with your baby, accept that your home will remain messy for quite some time, nap whenever you get a chance, email everyone and tell them that if they don’t hear from you, not to take it personally (you would not believe the amount of phone calls, texts, emails I received, all well-intentioned but asking me why they haven’t heard from me) and enjoy the little moments. The thing to know is that like most things in life, motherhood is on the job training.

Today marks my second week back at work and it’s not as bad as I thought. Well, let me amend that: Working in and of itself isn’t that bad. My job however is entirely another matter. On my first day back, my boss and I had a meeting where he basically asked me if I felt I was still able to handle my job now that I have a newborn at home. His point was that he needs someone with flexibility and now that I have to be home by a certain time (and frankly, WANT to be home by a certain time), I wasn’t as flexible. The whole tone of the conversation was like, “I hear you have a uterus and something came out of it. Can you still function as a rational, productive human?” I resisted the urge to tell him, “I’ve had a baby. Not a head trauma.”

Since this conversation, I’m working as I always did and although he treats me like I’m radioactive, I feel confident he’ll get over it. The irony is that going through fertility treatments and working was WAY harder than being a new mom and working. Of course I miss my son and wish I had the financial option to stay home, but we hired a wonderful nanny that I trust (I must tell you how I met her in an upcoming post) and in the end, I don’t have a choice. I have to be here working as I can’t afford not to be. When I was going through fertility treatments however, my body was enduring injections, hormone mood swings and I was often depressed or running to a doctor’s appointment to get follicle counts. I got my job done and done well, but it was a personal struggle for me. Really... my boss doesn’t seem to get that he’s actually getting the best version of me now that I’m a mom as opposed to when I was trying to become a mom. Any which way, he and I have GOT to get past this and work together successfully. We have just had way too many conversations about my womb in the past year. Enough is enough.

Not that long ago, I was laying in bed with MJ. I was holding him, looking at him and we were smiling at each other. I realized that in the same spot I was hanging out with my sweet baby, I had often cried or spent entire weekends sulking over not being able to get pregnant. It means more than I could ever possibly put into words that I’m able to exorcise those negativity memories and replace them with happy, positive ones that include my son. The fact that I have to go back to work, or that I often have spit up on my clothes, or that my mother-in-law likes to chat with me while I’m in compromising positions, or that my right breast is on strike, or that my boss is a anxious about my “new mom status” really means nothing at the end of the day. It’s easy to keep the stupid stuff in perspective when you have a little bald guy at home who finds your stories about socks fascinating.

Lastly, I had mentioned something I’ve been working on called the, “Infertility Sponsor Program” in my last post. I was going to talk about it this week but since it has been a while since I wrote a “What The Hell Is Jay Doing Now” post, I thought I’d put it off for another week. So, please check back as I could use your help and feedback!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Don't Ignore...

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week and the fine people at RESOLVE have challenged Bloggers to write a blog post with the theme of “Don’t Ignore Infertility”. More specifically, we were asked to start our post with, “Don’t Ignore…” and then fill in the blank as it relates to the disease of infertility and the journey to resolution.

Exactly three months ago, I gave birth to a baby boy that I achieved through my third IVF. My husband and I never received a diagnosis (other than, “It sucks to be you.”) and on our last in vitro, we only had one embryo to show for it. I’m proud to say that the one embryo is currently smiling and drooling on his “One Good Egg” onesie.

Those who follow my blog though know that the third in vitro cycle was the one where I had the least amount of hope, the least amount of finances and I dare say the least amount of sanity I had ever had before. When I think of “Don’t Ignore…”, it’s impossible for me to come up with just one thing as a flood of feelings, thoughts and emotions overwhelm me. There are so many aspects to infertility that not only we as a community ignore, but that the rest of the world does too. It all makes me think of my two current favorite quotes. The first not only accurately describes my feelings on my journey through infertility, one that spanned approximately three years, but it also would be my advice to those who are still in the thick of it. It’s, “I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. I’m saying it’s going to be worth it.” The second quote is from RuPaul and is, “My goal is to always come from a place of love ...but sometimes you just have to break it down for a mother*cker.” Amen sister!

The first quote reminds those struggling to get pregnant that although the process can be long, arduous, painful and so many other non-fun adjectives, once you become a mother, it is worth it. It won’t matter if it’s through insemination, in vitro, donor eggs, adoption, etc. If you want to be a mom, although it may not be the way you had hoped or planned, once you hold that child in your arms, it won’t matter. You will be a mom.

The second quote speaks to the rest of the world who asks couples, “When are you going to have kids already?” in front of their families at a relative’s baby shower or random guests at cocktail parties who give such genius unsolicited medical advice like, “Have you had tried having sex and leaving your socks on? That’s what got me pregnant!” Quite often, the “fertile community at large” doesn’t stop and say, “Hmmm. Here’s a couple that don’t have kids and they don’t talk about it. Maybe making comments, giving advice or asking personal questions can be insensitive, rude and hurtful?” 

And even worse, when the “fertile community at large” DOES know you have an issue and tries to comfort you by saying, “Just relax and it will happen…”, that’s when, as RuPaul implies, you need to break it down for them and say, “I realize you heard a story about your sister getting pregnant after she tried acupuncture but different things work for different people. Ultimately, we’re in good hands with our Reproductive Endocrinologist. Thanks anyway for the tip.

Keeping all of this in mind, here is my personal list of what I feel shouldn’t be ignored:

Don’t Ignore that Others Need to be Educated: Infertility is a real medical issue that can’t be pushed aside by some stupid piece of advice. If you confide in someone that you’re having fertility issues and they suggest an herb or that you weren’t meant to have kids, don’t accept that. I’m not saying start arguments with everyone but rather, take a deep breath and look at it as an opportunity to educate. For example, I can’t tell you how many people I had to explain the difference between ‘transferring’ an embryo and ‘implanting’ an embryo or what exactly is ICSI or that suggesting adoption to someone who may not yet be considering it isn't helpful. Because of mine and my husband's willingness to be open, my family and friends have learned so much that they weren't aware of. Just by sharing our story, we are advocates of educating others about infertility. I'm proud and happy to report that when these same family and friends encountered other people who are dealing with infertility (which believe it or not, they all did), they were way more sensitive and informed.

Don’t Ignore Each Other: There is an understanding that infertiles share even without actually having met one another. We know the feelings of disappointment, shame, frustration and heartbreak. You don’t have to feel alone as there are so many out there who understand, relate and can help you with what you’re going through. Whether it’s through a support group, Twitter, a blog or a chat room -- reach out, share and cheer each other on. I also urge you to not play the “Whose Pain is Worse Contest" with one another. It doesn’t matter and it doesn’t help. We all have different experiences, wins and losses but ultimately, we must stick together. After all, how can we expect the world to support us if we can’t support each other?

Don’t Ignore What You’ve Accomplished: There are many who have struggled with infertility and went on to have healthy babies that wouldn’t mind putting it behind them. Although I totally understand this, I don’t feel that way. Infertility was a huge, major part of my life for quite some time. It put my marriage, my body, my checking account and my sense of humor through hell. Yes, I have a baby now but I can never turn my back on those who are still in the trenches nor could I forget what I went through. It doesn’t take away the joy I feel over my son… if anything, it reminds me how much perseverance and patience can pay off. I take great pride in sharing with anyone and everyone that I had a very difficult time getting pregnant but it did happen and I’m so very grateful. To be clear though, even if you’re still working towards starting a family, that doesn’t mean you haven’t accomplished a whole freaking lot. You should be extremely proud of the process you are putting yourself through… which leads me to my next, “Don’t Ignore…”

Don’t Ignore the Strength You Have: No matter where you’re at in the trying to get knocked up rollercoaster, I promise you – you’re stronger than you think. I’ve met so many beyond amazing women who have been through situations and scenarios that I didn’t even know that were possible and they somehow made it through. Find a theme song, indulge in a guilty pleasure, get your nails done, schedule a therapy session and have a romantic dinner out where you DON’T discuss your cervical mucus. Fight the good fight as we all have it within us. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again; women who have infertility issues ARE the Masters of the Uterus. We are superheros who willingly subject ourselves to physical torture, who endure tests and conversations that are truly unpleasant and who keep going in the hopes of fulfilling our dreams of motherhood. We not only all deserve rewards, we all deserve babies.

Don't Ignore the LOGO Channel: I realize this is a slightly silly point but one I feel compelled to make... especially to those who are currently going through a cycle. Each time I did one of my inseminations or an in vitro, the LOGO channel was my best friend during my two week wait. Being that it is considered the "gay channel", there are, for whatever reason, no commercials about pregnancy tests or what's the best diaper. There are no sitcoms or plot lines where someone gets knocked up by being sneezed on or any reality shows about people with 500 kids. There are commericals mainly for plant food and excercise equipment, plus, you can watch one of my favorite shows, RuPaul's Drag Race, where everyone is beautiful with the help of some make-up and duct tape. It is a fun escape that will not only distract you from your follicle count, but it will make you want to run out, buy false eyelashes and dance to some disco.

Don’t Ignore Hope: Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torment of man.” Although this isn’t a light hearted fun quote (I sense Nietzsche was not fun at parties), it was one I thought of often when trying to get pregnant. It’s so hard to hope as we all know that infertility makes no promises. Things don’t always work out. Not everyone gets the happy ending they deserve. However, given our options, it’s better to have hope then to have none at all. I also believe with all of my heart that although things may not be the way we had expected, it doesn’t make it any less rewarding. There may be a conclusion to your journey that isn’t at all what you imagined but that will surpass your wildest dreams. Perhaps in the end, we shouldn’t hope for what we want. We should hope for the best possible outcome… whatever that is.

Lastly, Don’t Ignore the Gift of Humor: Again, regular readers of my blog know how often I employed making jokes to cope. IVF for me stood for “I’m Very Fertile” or “I’m Very Funny” depending on what day it was. When they found I had a uterine polyp, I named him Jackson Polyp and gave him his own Twitter account. Once, I was at a restaurant and the waitress asked me how I wanted my eggs and I told her, “Fertilized and implanted, thank you.” It’s not easy but to make light of the situation is the only way to go. Never ignore an opportunity for a good joke. Your sanity will thank you for it.

During National Infertility Awareness Week, I plan on not only sharing my journey with others through Twitter, Facebook (on both my real life account and my infertility account) and here on my blog, but I’m also working on something I’m very proud of called the “Infertility Sponsorship Program” (check back next week for the details). I will also spend this week trying to find clothes that fit, locate a cream that gets rid of cellulite and preparing to go back to work after maternity leave. NOTE TO SELF: Remember not to burp my fellow co-workers after they eat lunch.

To my regular blog readers, I’m so sorry for being out of touch this last month or so. One of the good things about having to go back to work is I’ll have more time to blog on my lunch hour!

For now, here are two links about National Infertility Awareness Week and Resolve:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Boobs, Babies and Barrenhood

At 3am, when I have spit up in my hair, smell like poop and the baby is looking at me with his big beautiful eyes CLEARLY wide open and not sleeping, I remind myself, “Remember… this is what you wanted. This is what all those infertility treatments were about. This was your dream and here it is!” This simple thought actually restores my patience and I fall in love all over again. Granted, it’s a, “Holy shit – I’m exhausted and may be slightly hallucinating” kind of love… but it’s love all the same!


MJ, by all accounts, is a very good baby. On average, he sleeps two to three hours, wakes up, gets his diaper changed, eats and then for the most part, goes right back to sleep. He can get crabby here and there but even at his worst, he’s more like an old man kvetching that he hasn’t pooped in a while than he is a baby screaming bloody murder. If he could talk, I imagine him saying, “Hey lady… do you have any prunes? I’m backed up and it’s annoying me.” That’s his general tone when he’s fussy. He complains rather than cries. I can respect this as I’m a big fan of complaining. It’s often been a hobby of mine. That and worrying.


During the day, I have “Sophie’s Choice” moments where I have to ask myself, “Ok… do I want to try and have lunch or take a nap?” I simply can’t do both. Often throughout the day, I must decide things like that. Pump or sleep? Call the insurance company or sterilize bottles? Call my therapist or pay bills? More often than not, I end up holding MJ and falling asleep while watching either reruns of The Golden Girls or Sex and The City (it depends if I want my women with estrogen or without). This is the reason I haven’t blogged in a while. I don’t even have time to find out what’s going on with Carrie and Mr. Big lately or who Blanche is sleeping with in today’s episode let alone take a proper pee break. Even now, as I’m typing, I’m pumping with the “hands free bra”. I’m feeling very Madonna circa 1990-something in that cone-shaped bustier while I’m currently typing this. Instead of “Vogueing” though, I’ll just “Vague”. It feels more appropriate to my current mental state.


My father asked me recently if I’ve put "that whole infertility thing" behind me. I love how he said it like it was a fad (i.e. “Infertility! It’s all the rage in Paris!”) I know this is something that many women in my situation blog about. I don’t want to go on about it too much as it really is discussed and debated so often that it seems almost redundant to visit it here. I also discussed it quite a lot during my pregnancy, that I always felt like a “pregnant infertile”, so I’m pretty sure you all know how I feel anyway.


In general though, at least for me, when you spend your life savings on getting pregnant, when you spend almost three years getting negative pregnancy tests while everyone around you gets pregnant after simply sharing a soda with a man, and after going through the hormonal, physical and emotional strain of timed cycles, inseminations and in vitros, you tend not to forget it. I know some women who have gone through what I have that do in fact forget all about it and I admire that. I, however, don’t feel that way. It’s not that I’m a victim of infertility as much as it is, as I mentioned in my very first paragraph, that it gives me a level of gratitude that I wonder if the fertile community at large has. Every poopy diaper, any lack of sleep, any meltdowns, I remember that I never thought I’d even get to do any of this and that immediately puts things in to perspective.  I’m BEYOND proud of what we endured and I’m grateful for where we are at.


I’d like to end today’s blog post with a quick note of appreciation to my breasts. Yes, you read that right. Of all of the many things I’ve learned recently, I’ve really grown to appreciate how awesome boobs are. Men have often said that if they had them, they’d stay at home and play with them all day. For the first time, I truly get that. They often serve as both MJ’s food and as a place for him to rest his head. It’s because of this that my husband and I now refer to my chest as a “Bed and Breakfast for Babies”.  Sincerely – when MJ is at his worst, I just rest him on my chest and he’s quiet and happy within seconds. Since my day job is with all men, I may start considering using this strategy when I return to work. I don’t think my husband will like it but I have no doubt that not only will it shut up whichever male co-worker is being difficult that day but it also may result in me getting a bigger bonus this year.


Until next time… hoping all of YOU are doing wonderfully!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

TOUCHDOWN!

First and foremost, I’m so sorry for the delay in updating the blog. The last week has been a rollercoaster of activity and emotions. HOWEVER, I’m happy to report that MJ is home safe and sound. As you can see from the picture, he went from the lone 8-cell embryo from my third IVF (to review, I had 13 eggs but only ONE embryo to transfer) to the beautiful baby you see next to the photo. It was important to me that the first picture I posted acknowledged infertility and/or IVF in some way as without it, I don’t know if I would have ever been able to hold a baby in my arms. Yaaay modern science!!!


Secondly, after the last sad, scared, worrisome blog posting, I wanted to share with you two little lighter moments in the last week.

1.       The first night we brought MJ home, we had him in the bassinet portion of a Pack-n-Play. My husband, who clearly had other things on his mind what with both of us in the hospital, forgot to get batteries to make the Pack-n-Play vibrate. In a desperate effort, I found one of my vibrators (the Pocket Rocket to be specific, which I highly recommend) and tucked it away in the bassinet. I’m happy to report that it did the trick. I’m even happier to report that my husband, totally mortified by my “MacGyver-like-approach”, made certain to get the D batteries needed the very next morning.

2.       I didn’t realize the nursing pads were supposed to stick to the bra so for a good week, I’ve been sticking them directly to my breast. Lord only knows what the nurses in the NICU thought when they saw this. Although this was NOT how they were intended and although I feel like a total idiot, I do feel I inadvertently stumbled on a new design as sticking them to my breast kept them from slipping. I’m an idiot genius.
The Readers Digest version of the last week goes like this: MJ was officially diagnosed with Persistent Newborn Pulmonary Hypertension. This is defined as the failure of the normal circulatory transition that should occur after birth (you can read more about it here).  He was intubated, given proteins to help build up his lungs, closely monitored and he had both an arterial line and central line put in.

Since I got kicked out of the hospital, we booked the cheapest hotel room nearby and basically went back and forth from the hospital to the hotel. Although the hotel was not anywhere you'd want to steal soap or towels from, it was good for me as I could rest and recover when I needed to but be no more than a five minute walk away so that I could go visit my son whenever possible. It was REALLY F*CKING DIFFICULT to leave without him but I knew he was in good hands and more than anything, I wanted him to be where he could be given the best care.
His progress really started when one night, he peed a whole bunch and MJ’s doctors were super excited about this. They said that was him losing excess fluid from his lungs. Who knew peeing and lungs were at all connected???
Then, the next day, they took him off of the intubation (still giving him oxygen support to be safe) plus they also removed the arterial line. Luckily, he responded well. His respiration, heart rate and blood pressure all started improving so we then saw if he knew how to eat/suck from a bottle. After he passed that test, they removed all breathing support and we tried breastfeeding. Like any man, he was all about the boobs, so they removed the central line, which had been feeding him up until this point. After morning rounds on Sunday, February 5th, we were told we could take him home.

Obviously, there’s more to share but at present, I’m in that whole, “Holy sh*t! I have a baby and I don’t know what the hell I’m doing phase”. Today is actually my first day with him alone and I hope it goes smoothly and doesn’t become something that he needs to talk to his therapist about.

I just want to say again how much I’ve sincerely appreciated all of your thoughtful, encouraging, kind posts and emails during this time. To be honest, I’m a little shell shocked from the past couple of weeks. Weeks? Who am I kidding! YEARS! Infertility, financial strain, emotional strain, a difficult pregnancy, a last minute C-Section and then the baby having to be in the NICU. I’m beginning to think I need an exorcism.

The thing is that you guys have been here with me through it all and for that, I’ll never be able to repay you. You’ve been my virtual form of Prozac and you have found my uterus as challenging and funny as I do. You are my kind of people and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Beautiful Baby. Empty Arms.

I’m absolutely overjoyed and proud to share with you that our baby was born on Friday, January 27th in the early afternoon. He weighs 6 pounds, 9 ounces and I swear to you – he really is beautiful. A perfectly round head that would give Charlie Brown a run for his money, deep blue eyes (from his father), dark brown hair (from his mother) and the meatiest most kissable legs you’ve ever seen. My mother said she’s never seen a baby with such cute knees! Who knew a baby could even be complimented on his knees??? Several of the nurses and doctors have even said that he is an exceptionally handsome baby and when I say, “I’m sure you say that to everyone!”, they promise me they don’t. Even if they are lying, I don’t care. I think he’s gorgeous.

The unfortunate news is that he’s been in the NICU since he was born. I was only able to hold him for approximately 20 seconds before having to hand him over. He’s been in this world for five days now and I haven’t held him again since. I can’t even begin to express how much that has hurt me. I’ve never known such torture.

Despite the fact that the baby was born at 37 weeks and is a good size, his lungs weren’t quite ready for the real world. He can breathe on his own but it’s a lot of work for him. He has both amniotic fluid and air pressure in his lungs so he’s been intubated (which scared the crap out of me but was necessary), he’s been given both medication and a protein to help him build up his lungs, he’s had a central line put in for nourishment (which also scared the crap out of me) and he’s being closely monitored 24/7.
I had hoped that my first post after having my baby would be nothing but a funny, happy one. I do have a few anecdotes from the day he was born as well as some of the events leading up to it but it feels wrong to share them now as the only thing I care about is getting my baby well and back in my arms.
After spending so long trying to get pregnant, many have said to me that infertiles appreciate their baby so much more because they had to work for it. I was also at a baby shower recently of a good friend who got pregnant after struggling as well and I heard a friend of hers say, “It makes sense that after all her struggling to get pregnant, she’s had such an idyllic pregnancy.” Considering those two statements, I can’t help but feel a little pissed off right now. I went through a lot to get pregnant and no one could appreciate or love this baby more than I do and even after all my struggling, I had a fairly difficult pregnancy filled with morning sickness, gestational diabetes, vertigo, a stress fracture, cholestasis and a rushed C-Section. I would have hoped that the universe would have seen it fit to spare me from now having to see my baby hooked up to a million tubes struggling to breathe. I've already learned the 'life isn't fair' lesson. Seriously… can’t any of this ever be easy? Just one part at least? When is enough enough? Yes, it’s a pity party but thanks to my husband who brings me food often, it’s well catered.
I do apologize if that at all seems ungrateful as I truly don’t mean it to be. Every time I see him or get to touch him, the word ‘grateful’ doesn’t even begin to cover what I feel. Nothing is more important to me than him. I have never known I could feel so much love for one little person and the slightest sign from him that he’s ok or that he knows I’m there is one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever known. It’s just that we all have our breaking point to how much strength and humor we can have… and I’m officially close to mine. It’s been a long, crazy road where there have been more than a few times where I’ve had to adjust my sense of what is “normal” and I was hoping to at least have the typical birthing experience where you hold the baby, have him sleep in your hospital room, learn to nurse and bond with your baby while the proud father takes pictures. Instead, I’m bringing people to a room where they see my baby and start to cry because it all looks so scary. I’m alone in my room at night listening to someone else next door comfort their baby. All my pictures of our son, he has a tube coming out of his mouth and he’s sedated. And the worst part, I have to be careful how I even touch him as they don’t want him agitated or it will affect his breathing.
I’ve waited so long for this and dammit, I just want my baby happy, healthy and home.
Many who have known what’s been going on have sent me links, emails, posts and texts about “kangaroo care” and that’s where the mother having skin-to-skin contact helps heal the baby. I just want to say now that BELIEVE ME, that’s not possible in this case. Even though I know people are trying to be helpful, the fact that everyone keeps bringing this up as a possibility just upsets me. The NICU my son is in is considered one of the top ones in the country. They are well aware of this care (which is more for preemies than full term babies) but they have advised me that it would be incredibly difficult especially with the amount of tubes and wires he’s hooked up to monitoring him. Right now, it is what it is and we just have to wait until he turns a corner. As soon as he does, I am going to hold him and probably won’t let him go until he’s off to college.
As of this moment, I’m about to go downstairs and see how he’s doing today. They have begun to lower his oxygen (which is a good sign), they say his lungs are healing and he’s breathing a little calmer so this is all encouraging. That being said though, I’m getting kicked out of the hospital today but he will have to remain here for an indeterminate time. Even though I’m immediately checking into a hotel nearby, I know I will have an emotional breakdown when I leave. Even as I type this, I’m beginning to cry as the thought of leaving without him is almost too much to bear.
So, this isn’t the post I had envisioned but if you’ve been following my blog for a while, this is yet again another challenge I didn’t want or expect but have to deal with. I will post pictures once he’s more presentable and in case you were wondering, we named him Michael Jay (the second name may sound familiar) and from what I’ve been told, all the nurses in the NICU have been calling him M.J. which I think is pretty adorable.
In closing, if you wouldn’t mind, please keep our son in your thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery. It would mean the world to me. And as always, thank you, thank you, thank you for all your love and support. This has been a tough, emotional time and it’s a great comfort to know others are thinking of us.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Son Will Come Out Tomorrow

Tomorrow, on January 27th, we will finally get to see and hold the result of my third in vitro. Two and a half years, five timed cycles, three IUI’s, two failed IVF’s and finally, the third IVF that went from 13 eggs to only one embryo to transfer; in all that time, I never got pregnant and we had little hope. Tomorrow though… the baby we struggled for, dreamed of and wondered if we would ever be able to have, will be here. I seriously need to check my driver’s license as I can’t believe this is actually happening to me.

As I mentioned in my last post, my doctor was concerned that I had Cholestasis and in fact, I do. In these cases, they do not let the pregnancy go more than 37 weeks and I will be 37 weeks EXACTLY tomorrow. My doctor called me this past Monday morning to tell me the diagnosis, to immediately give me medication (Ursodiol for those who are interested) and to discuss our options. She said she could try to induce me on Thursday night but since the baby hasn’t “dropped” and that my cervix is hard and closed (much like my boss), she felt that there was more than a 50% chance that I would end up having a C-section anyway.

After a long conversation, we decided to skip inducing and just schedule a C-section for Friday. My logic was if the odds are we were going to end up there anyway, why torture myself (and possibly the baby) for 24 – 30 hours waiting to see if we could force my body to cooperate. My body has rarely listened to me in the past so why it would start to now is beyond me. Also, if nothing else, this makes me feel less guilty for dropping out of my birthing class.

I realize some of you may not agree with the decision to get a scheduled C-Section and I genuinely respect that. To me, even though the thought of surgery scares the bejesus out of me, given the circumstances, it’s what I feel the most comfortable with. Both my doctor and I agreed that if perhaps the baby seemed more ready to go or if there were any sign from my body that it was at least close to delivering, we’d opt to see what would happen with induction. However, since it seems like my son is perfectly happy where he is and has no intention of leaving anytime soon, and he unfortunately has to, this seemed the way to go. As I said to her before, I don’t need the experience of labor. I just want my baby safe and sound.

Given all of this, we went from thinking we had three weeks to prepare but quickly, it became whittled down to only a matter of days. My gestational diabetes diet and my soft cast immediately went out the window (I’ll just use an ace bandage and sometimes cupcakes can be medicinal) and I began cramming for parenthood. While I watched a DVD on how to breastfeed, washed baby clothes and Googled pediatricians in the area, my husband rushed to put various baby items together and get the car seat installed. It’s simultaneously funny and scary to me that there are things I put away in my changing table that I don’t actually know what they are or understand how I use them yet. I’m trying to comfort myself by remembering that other than diapers, a place to sleep, the car seat and my boobs, I have everything I need.

I’m sure a fertile person would currently be talking all about the nursery, or baby names, or the cute little outfits they have picked out but more than anything, I think I’m just so in awe that I’m having a baby. Years ago, I remember thinking, “The question isn’t if I’ll be a mom. The question is how I’ll be a mom.” Thanks to medical science and a huge amount of luck, that quote turned out to be very true. I may not have gotten here the usual way but I still got here… and I almost can’t believe it.

It’s important to me to add here and now that after my experiences and hearing others experiences, I can never flatly say anything quite like, “Don’t lose hope!” or “It’ll happen for you!” because I know the reality is that things don’t always work out like you expect. I even still contend that “hope” in general can be both a good and evil thing. However, I want to say specifically to those of you who are still struggling to be mom… if there’s anything to be learned from my journey (other than always get a second opinion, remember to talk to your husband about things other than your cervical mucus, bikini waxes are important and don’t use Icy-Hot on your private parts), it’s that even when you don’t have any answers (as we never had a diagnosis nor have we ever found out why we didn’t get pregnant the ol’ fashioned way), even when it seems hopeless and pointless and even when you think it’s impossible, you just never really know.

Ultimately, I’m not saying, “Everything will work out!!! Just relax!!!” What I am saying though is until someone says it’s impossible, there are still options and possibilities. As I said, if you desperately want to be a mom, it’s not if, it’s just how… and I truly, whole-heartedly want that for anyone who knows the pain of infertility. Once you know what that’s like -- how unfair, cruel, taxing and heartless it can be, you never forget. I seriously hold anyone who is still in the thick of it in my heart. It’s impossible for me to overstate how much I mean that.

When I announced that I was finally pregnant (see post here), I talked about how a positive pregnancy test was just “the second level” of my imaginary infertility video game. When I hold my baby tomorrow (who I desperately hope is happy and healthy), I will have reached “the final level” and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for following my story, for continuing to read the blog, for finding my uterus as amusing as I do and for all the supportive comments and emails. I plan to keep writing and sharing both about infertility and life as an IVF Mom (so to speak) and I hope you’ll all be there to share in the next chapter.

So, today may very well be the last day I’m ever pregnant. I know I can’t afford to do IVF again so unless an unexpected miracle happens, this may be it. I’m thinking of even taking a home pregnancy test just to see “Pregnant” one last time. I’m going to get pre-op blood work, spend time with my husband and see if I can quickly teach myself how to swaddle, change a diaper and burp a baby. I promise to check in as soon as I can but for now, as always, I’m sending each one of you love and laughter.