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!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Infertility Intervention

Through my own experience with infertility and now, my job working with those struggling to conceive, I am reminded over and over again, hour by hour, how frustrating and endless it all seems. It’s overwhelming and humbling to think how not being able to have a family can destroy so many aspects of your life. Your finances, your friendships, your self-esteem, your marriage, your physical and mental well-being and your sanity all take serious hits. Some of these hits you bounce back from. Some you don’t right away. Others, you never really do. I will never cease to feel compassion and deep empathy for anyone in the thick of it.

I admire those who have positive attitudes and keep it all in perspective. There are some who have always been open about their issues from start to finish (whereas I waited till I was in a better mental state before speaking so openly about it). They have stamina, they see the bright side, they don’t let their fertility issues stand in the way of their happiness and most importantly, these people are few and far between.

And why am I getting in to all of this? I’m glad you asked.

Lately, there have been a few people that have contacted me with serious fertility concerns. There was a woman who gave birth to a still born at 8 months, then had a series of miscarriages and has never seen a reproductive endocrinologist. She contacted me for assistance and I found her a doctor that specializes in recurrent miscarriages. I had an appointment all set for her when emailed me, “I saw my psychic today and she said that I don’t have any fertility issues so I’m just going to keep trying on my own.

Then, a married couple in their early 40’s, where the wife has hormonal issues and irregular periods told me that they’ve been trying to conceive for 8 years. When I found a doctor for them in their area, the husband wrote me back that they are going on vacation and they are hoping they will get pregnant while on their cruise.

Another woman told me that she has done 8 unmonitored cycles using Clomid and when I tried to explain to her that they only recommend 6 and she really needs to break up her OB/GYN and see an RE, she told me how much she loved her doctor and how good he’s been to her. (I do want to note that some people opt to stay with their OB/GYN because of financial reasons but in the case of this woman, she did have fertility coverage with an RE).

The other night, I was lying in bed and my son (who as you know was the product of my third IVF) started to cry. I went to check on him and he looked up at me, smiled and said, “Mum!” I love that he never went the “Mama” route as he seems to love the end of words. For example, he doesn’t say, “Dada”. He said, “Dad!” with the emphasis on the ‘d’ at the end. He also says the word, “Hot!” really hitting the ‘t’ at the end hard. It cracks him for some reason which in turn cracks me up.  Now, if I could get him to say, “Hot Mum!”, I’d really be pleased.

As I held him, I thought of these patients I’ve mentioned and how much I want to go to their house, sit down with them, hold their hand and stage an “infertility intervention”. I want to beg them to fight hard, get a second opinion, or third, or fourth until they hold their child as I’m holding mine now.

I’ve said it before but many go through infertility, end up having a family and putting it all behind them. I respect and even admire that but that’s just not me. I get deeply upset when I feel like someone hasn’t gotten the care or attention they deserve or when I hear a story of a doctor saying someone is fine and just keep trying when there clearly is a problem. I’ve known two different people who kept having miscarriages and their initial doctors were like, “Oh, it happens! You’re just unlucky!” and eventually, one of them found out she had a serious blood clotting disorder and the other had an implantation issue. I’m happy to report that when they ended up in the hands of different doctors, they both went on to have babies.

Who is reading this right now? Are you someone that has been trying to get pregnant for many years? Are you someone who feels like you’re not getting answers? Or are you not liking the answers you’re getting? Have you suffered losses? Or are you someone who is on the other side with a family but either know someone who is still trying to conceive OR perhaps you’re now working on a new problem that you’re looking to resolve.

What I want to say is I don’t think I was ever someone to look on the bright side nor had the best attitude. I mean, I maintained my sense of humor (lord knows) and hung on to my sanity (barely) but I was definitely someone who let matters of my uterus take over my entire life. I know firsthand that it’s easier to hope that things will work out somehow. That maybe next cycle, somehow, I’ll get pregnant if I pray really hard or maybe I’ll get pregnant while I’m in Disney World or maybe I don’t have a problem and I just need to eat more chocolate.

No one wants to have an IVF. No one wants daily blood work or to be regularly intimately involved in vaginal sonograms. It sucks, it’s not fun and it’s not the way you expected it to be. The fact is though that if you’re not getting pregnant, this is my personal urge to you to fight. Fight hard. See another doctor, get another opinion, be your own advocate and don’t waste time avoiding what may be the very thing that can help. For the love of god – get your big boots on and kick infertility’s ass!

Sometimes our happy endings are not the way we planned or expected them to be but that doesn’t make them any less happy. Sometimes, they even exceed our expectations. I don’t know if I could ever say I’m grateful for what I went through even though so much good came out of it. Truly – infertility in certain aspects actually made my life better (and no, I can’t believe I’m saying that but in some ways, it really is accurate). But it still sucked and there are times I can’t help but wish it never happened.

It did though. And the only thing to do now is to try to make it mean something. Not just to me but to perhaps others as well. If I can spare you the regret of saying years from now, “I wish I started treatment sooner.” Or “I should have done more.”, then I really want to.

Whether it’s a personal issue, an infertility issue or what have you, don’t lie down and let it win. I guess that’s my only point here. If you suspect something is wrong, better to find out now than wait.

Get your cheerleader outfit out, play the Rocky Theme in your head or look in the mirror and say, “I’m awesome, I’m doing the best I can and today, I’m going to continue to fight to get what I want!

In the meantime, please know that whether I know you personally or not, I’m in your corner, standing behind you (well, not physically as that may freak you out), cheering you on. No matter the issue – don’t give up. Please. Don’t. Give. Up.

ADDENDUM: My dear friend on Twitter, @Ms_Infertile, pointed out after reading this post that she did not want my readers to think that I was suggesting that if they choose to stop treatment, I considered them as “giving up”. I’m glad she pointed this out as I would NEVER want anyone to think that was my suggestion.

There is a world of difference between acceptance and giving up. As I said above, “Sometimes our happy endings are not the way we planned or expected them to be but that doesn’t make them any less happy.” If you feel that you want to stop treatment, or that it’s taking too much of a toll on you physically, emotionally or otherwise, then that is exactly that – the ending you feel is the best for you. I have huge respect for those who say, “Enough is enough for me.” That isn’t a failure. It takes courage and strength to let go of something and make way for something else.

This post was more about people who are in the “thick of it” who are still looking for options. It also (in my opinion at least) could also be about any goal you are still in the process of pursuing.

Thank you @Ms_Infertile for making sure I made sure my readers know this… and thank all of you for your feedback, comments and for reading!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Defrosting Hope

As we all know, when dealing with matters of fertility, the word “Hope” can become a four letter word. So whenever I tell anyone to, “Keep hope alive!”, I know firsthand that this is easier said than done. It may entail some CPR, alcohol and some cheesy quotes (which I adore) to keep it going but to me, the bottom line is although hope can be a bit of a bitch, out of all your options (hope, despair, resignation, etc.), I sincerely think it’s the best way to go.

I talk about hope and my infertility experience in an interview I recently did with a Website called, "How They Got Pregnant" (click here to read if you’re interested). It also includes pictures of me and my son which I don’t often share.

And on the note of hope, I recently connected with a lovely woman named “Rebecca”. Rebecca is in need of both help and hope. To give you a brief background, she is Orthodox Jewish and was only two weeks away from her wedding when she unexpectedly suffered a debilitating stroke. She fell to the floor, broke her neck and consequently suffered both spinal cord and brain injuries. Her fiancĂ©, unable to deal with the recent turn of events and her physical state, called off the wedding.

(You can read her full story on ABC News by clicking here).

She is 38 years old, has little to no money and is hoping to freeze her eggs while she continues to recover and eventually, hopefully, meet someone to start a family with but someone who will stand by her no matter what.

Unlike the Roman Catholics (of which I was raised as), the Orthodox Jews are far more supportive of the medical advancements made in the fertility world. As you will see in the article mentioned above, they are even encouraging women to invest in egg freezing. Egg freezing is definitely a growing trend (albeit an expensive one) that can be an invaluable option for those who are in situations similar to Rebecca, or those who are about to go through Cancer treatment or even simply those who haven’t found the person they want to settle down with yet.

I’ve been working Rebecca for about a month or so and as of right now, it looks like we have found a clinic willing to work with her on freezing her eggs at a more reasonable price given her circumstances. However, I’m still hoping to help her raise some money to help cover the costs.

At my job, I talk to people all day every day that ask me the same two questions:

1. How can I have a baby?

2. How can I afford treatment?

Even if you have insurance, sometimes it only covers a certain dollar amount, others only cover IUI’s or certain medications and then there are some that only cover the consult. My point is that when I say I am hoping to help Rebecca, I know there are many of you reading this thinking, “Uhhhh… if you’re helping people raise money, please feel free to send a few bucks my way!” Believe me my friends, I so wish I could.

This reminds me of a homeless man that I see every day on my subway and in a weird way, he’s become a sort of celebrity on the A train. He is a gentle, sweet man that always says the same exact thing every time you see him. He says hello, gives his name and then says, “If you don’t have it, I can understand because I don’t have it either.” The “it” is meaning money.

So, if you’re struggling with infertility, then chances are you’re in no position to help Rebecca. After three years of my own treatment, my Savings Account looks more someone’s age than a nest egg. But I still would like to get the word out as that’s what we do in this community: We try to help whatever way we can.

If you are able to help give in the slightest contribution, please visit:  

If you are not able to, then I ask you to please send Rebecca some hope. I have no doubt that she will send it back to you as well.