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!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Resolve to Know More… And Educate Others


Every year, RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, designates a week to bring awareness to those struggling with infertility. It’s called ‘National Infertility Awareness Week’ (NIAW) and officially starts on Sunday, April 20th and ends on Saturday, April 26th.

While this event brings needed attention to infertility to the public at large for a week, for some, infertility is for a lifetime. That is why when I read this year’s theme, “Resolve to Know More…”, I was particularly inspired.

If you’ve been reading my blog on a regular basis, if you’ve seen some of the pieces I’ve written on various other sites, if you connect with me through my job (which is in the infertility space), or if you simply talk to me for more than ten minutes, you know that infertility issues are something that I’m deeply passionate about year round. I strive to help and support others who fight this heartbreaking and isolating disease as much as I try to inform the public that infertility affects one in eight couples and must not be ignored or dismissed with a, “Just relax and it will happen.”

Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to have children. To be a mother was the most important goal to me. So when I started trying to conceive and nothing was happening, it cut me deeper than I could have ever even imagined. I became a different person. I was depressed, resentful, and felt like a tremendous failure. You never know how often the subject of babies, pregnancy and parenthood come up in every day life until it becomes something you so desperately want and can’t achieve.

My marriage became strained, my friendships suffered, our savings account was depleted and I began to avoid people and situations for fear they would ask me why I hadn’t had children yet. This time in my life was a dark period of endless doctor appointments, blood work, therapy, sonograms, calls to my insurance company, injecting hormones and wondering what I did wrong to deserve this.

To get the diagnosis of “Unexplained Infertility” made me feel even worse. Without any answers, I’d never know when or if this nightmare would end.

Although there were many things that helped me during this period, the biggest most valuable lifesaver was the infertility community itself. They not only empathized, supported me, and cheered me on but quite frankly, they were my best resource in teaching me what I needed to know about infertility treatment.

It was my fertility challenged friends who told me to ice before I did a hormone shot in my stomach, who told me what an autoimmune panel was and among many other tidbits, gave me the single best piece of advice ever: to get a second opinion.

On my third in vitro, when my husband and I were paying out of pocket and money was tight, again, the community came to my rescue. They donated their medications to us. I had one friend while we were at the movies pass me a vial of progesterone in oil, another who gave me her left over boxes of Gonal-F and I even received estrogen patches from a fellow infertile that lived all the way in Ireland.

Much to my surprise, I’m often asked why I still care so deeply about infertility issues since I now have a son. This question astounds me. How could I NOT care???

I have not forgotten for one second what infertility put me through. More importantly, I have not forgotten the community, like RESOLVE, like my fellow bloggers and like my very dear infertility friends on Twitter and Facebook, that helped me. I would never abandon them when in truth, I owe them for so very much.

I know so much more now that I didn’t know back when I started my journey. I know that infertility is a real medical disease. None of us have done anything to deserve it and “just relaxing” will never solve the problem.

I know the best way for friends and family to support someone going through infertility is to just say, “I’m so sorry. What can I do to help?"

I know that you can be an advocate for yourself and find another doctor if you are at all unsure about the treatment you’re currently getting. This is a big deal and YOU are a big deal. If you’re not enthusiastic about your protocol, you take your fabulous uterus somewhere else and get another opinion.

I know just how much the public really doesn’t understand infertility. When I wrote an article recently about thinking before you ask people why then don’t have children, some of the comments showed how uninformed people are. This is why I firmly believe we can educate others in our own way: Whether you join us for National Advocacy Day or whether you privately confide in a friend that you have been diagnosed with this issue, you are making others aware.

I know that it doesn’t have to be IF you become a mom. Sometimes the question just is HOW you become a mom. There are so many options: donor egg, surrogacy, embryo adoption, donor sperm, etc. If you feel comfortable with exploring all of these family building options, then your choices open up.

Finally, I know that living childfree is not giving up. It’s making a choice to put your hope in another part of your life. It’s courageous to acknowledge when you feel this is something you need to move on from.

I’m so grateful to RESOLVE for giving the community an opportunity to draw attention to this condition. I know coming out of the infertility closet isn’t easy so I have sincere respect to those who choose to keep this issue private. However, I do want to say that if myself, RESOLVE or others like me can hold your hand, lift you up (like others did for me) and help you resolve to know more, you have a standing invitation all year round.

To learn more, please visit these links:

http://www.resolve.org/infertility101 (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.)

http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html (About NIAW)

With hope and humor always,

Jay

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The No Baby Shower



It’s on! I’ve got a date, a location and I’m thinking of fun ideas to put in the Goody Bag! What do we think? Maxi pads? Ovulation Prediction kits? Boxes of Chocolates? Soft cheese? Sushi? Any thoughts?

I'm thrilled that many organizations and people are donating items for us to give out to our guests for free. Lord knows when you're going through treatment, you're already paying so damn much for everything else!

I am looking forward to meeting so many of the people I’ve connected with through my job, this blog and of course, Twitter and Facebook. It’s my sincere hope that guests will have fun and find support from one another! If you’d like to attend, there’s still time! Just email me and we’ll get you all set up! Here's the invite:


For reasons that perhaps many of you can relate to, being invited to baby showers when I was in the midst of trying to conceive was both painful and difficult. I would always make my excuses; send an expensive gift and stay home to be depressed in private.

In my very bitter state, I would often think to myself, “Not only do fertile women get a baby but they get a party with presents too! How the hell is that fair???” Mind you – this wasn’t the nicest thought for me to have, but again, I hope some of you can possibly empathize or relate.

That’s when I started joking about having an “Infertility Baby Shower”. In my mind, I felt that if anyone really needed a party with presents, it was those who either were trying to conceive or unable to conceive.

A few of my friends in the infertility community and I started joking about it: What games we would play ('Pin the Tail on the Sperm' as mentioned in my last post), what the decoration theme would be (Barbie or Minnie Mouse), etc.

What started as a painful event for me slowly morphed into something I was “owning” and even making fun of. Some even remarked that it reminded them of the episode where Carrie Bradshaw of Sex & the City was single but decided to register for a new pair of shoes after spending thousands of dollars on other people’s bridal showers, baby showers and weddings.

For years, I volunteered at Gilda's Club. For those of you who don't know, Gilda's Club was named for Gilda Radner, the very funny comedian and one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live who is a bit of a hero of mine. Gilda was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1986 and very sadly, passed away in1989. Gilda’s husband, Gene Wilder and her psychotherapist, Joanna Bull started the Gilda’s Club movement in 1995.

The spirit and humor of Gilda, even when facing Cancer was always present at the club. I also always remember when she did a guest spot on The Gary Shandling Show (See Video Clip by clicking HERE). She had a sense of humor throughout her incredibly difficult struggle. This is something I've thought of often and have been inspired by in my worst moments and it's in the spirit of the work of Gilda's Club that I was modeling the NBS after.

Overall, I’ve received so many wonderful responses from people asking if I could bring the NBS to their neck of the woods, others who have expressed the willingness to travel to the event and several just simply complimenting the humor behind it. It’s been overwhelming and very touching to me.

However, I do want to acknowledge that there have been a few that have expressed being offended by this event. If you know me or have been following my blog for a while now, I sincerely hope you’d know that offending people is never, ever something I set out to do. Although it was just a few, they felt this “No Baby Shower” was making fun of infertility issues in a negative way.

I absolutely respect their feelings, their honesty and applaud them for feeling comfortable enough to share this with me. This is why I did want to mention it here as I’m sure there are others out there who may feel the same way.

Therefore, I want to say that as passionate and excited as I am about the NBS becoming a reality, I do want to extend a very sincere heartfelt apology to anyone who may have been offended. This event is something I sincerely care about and I only had the best of intentions. Although I fully realize not everyone can share my humor and that you can’t please everyone all of the time, I am truly sorry if something I did upset anyone on any level.

There are two things though I will never apologize for: Caring or continuing to be an advocate for those who are dealing with infertility. I know that there are some who go through treatment, have a child and choose to put the world of endless vaginal sonograms, blood work, retrievals, transfers and financial strain behind them. I understand it completely but that’s just not me.

I recently wrote an article on the Huffington Post called, "Your Biological Clock Turns Cuckoo Earlier Than You Think" about educating women that age sadly and annoying can affect their fertility and I’m currently working on a new piece letting the fertile community at large that asking, “When are you doing to have kids?” can be unintentionally hurtful. I’m also exceedingly proud and excited to be a part of Resolve’s National Advocacy Day and will be traveling to Washington D.C. to speak to our elected officials about the needs of so many amazing, loving, fabulous people struggling to build a family.

Yes, my journey has come a long way from when I was avoiding baby showers but no, just because I’ve had a child through IVF does that mean I’ve stopped caring, fighting or trying desperately to bring my sense of humor to infertility.

I mentioned all of this to a personal hero of mine, Carolyn Savage, and she advised, "Just because you had a baby doesn't mean you can no longer advocate for infertility. That would be the equivalent of saying survivors can't advocate for breast cancer." Those words meant so much to me.
For those of you who do understand why I'm doing the No Baby Shower and why I continue to try in my small way to pay back the IF community that helped me so much when I needed them, I sincerely thank you from the very bottom of my heart (and uterus). I do hope that I'll meet you all soon... if not at the NBS or National Advocacy Day, then at some point in the future!

Ultimately, even though we may not always agree or deal with things the same way, I do know we all think infertility is one evil, cruel bitch. No matter our differences, let's always remember to try and support one another as much as we can.

Sending you humor and hugs... as always.
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ADDENDUM: An anonymous person pointed out that I might want to explain why I didn't put this together when I was still "in the trenches". Thank you whoever you are as it's a very good question! The sad truth is I couldn't afford to! All my money was being put towards my fertility treatment. That's why this is exciting for me. Between putting in some of my own money and the very generous team at my job (Fertility Authority), we're putting this together so no one has to pay. It's a free event to again, raise awareness, connect those in the community to one another, hopefully have fun and support each other.