Posts Tagged ‘infertility’
Random question: Do you watch Portlandia? If you don’t, you should. But anyway, more on that later. In Portlandia, a sketch comedy show featuring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, there is a sketch called “Put a Bird On It”, where they play two enthusiastic local art personalities who expound on the wonders of putting a decorative bird on things. Drab old sweatshirt? Put a bird on it! Hideous wall portrait? Put a bird on it! Everything going downhill? Put a bird on it!
While there are various theories about what the phrase means, I like to think that the idea is that when things are at their worst, sometimes you just have to “put a bird on it”, and change your perspective.
As of this year, my job changed their insurance coverage for the second time in three years. This “little” change, wreaked major havoc on my (already stalled) infertility treatments because it meant that they would no longer be covered at the fertility center I was a part of. So needless to say, I panicked a little. The clinic was listed really highly in my area, but staying there meant basically paying out of pocket.
I started to get a little (a lot) freaked out. The tally of obstacles had mounted considerably. I mean, seriously. I was so discouraged after the last appointment, because everything was out of my control. My doctor basically listed out every obstacle we had and kind of left it at that. I couldn’t see an out, other than just to start fundraising, and hope that by the time I’d done what I could to help us raise the money for medications and embryo storage, etc., that The Spouse would have heard something back from urology. Beyond that, the ball was not seemingly in my court.
Fast forward to this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week. For the past two years, I’ve invited some friends in the industry to visit the library where I work, for a panel discussion on building families. I called in representatives who could discuss IVF, adoption, foster care, etc., for an informal and accessible way for people in my community to get information on building their families.
For the second year in a row, I had a great RE on the panel, whom I’d been introduced to through a mutual friend in the infertility community. Her honest, matter-of-fact, and most of all knowledgeable demeanor, combined with her added experience of having dealt with infertility herself for ten years, made her a great addition. In the few moments before this year’s panel, she asked me how things were going with my own journey, since when last we’d seen each other, I was awaiting a follow-up appointment. I told her how stalled I was, and how flatly my RE had told me just that at our last appointment.
She looked at me squarely and said, “Come see me. Call my cellphone. Because this is ridiculous. You just need to get there. You keep getting up to the starting line but you just can’t seem to get there. Call me. It’s a distance, but we will make it work.”
I have to admit, I was a little thrown. I shook it off to prepare for the panel, but I could NOT stop thinking about it. A few weeks prior, my mom and I had hunted down a list of fertility centers that were available under my new insurance. Many of them had been either really far away, or didn’t have the greatest success rates, and I’d filed the list away and retreated into myself. When I got home on this day however, I went and took a look at at the list a little closer and out of allllllllll the clinics that were no longer covered for me, HERS WAS.
After going through a few annoying hoops to get a shiny new referral, I finally got in to see her. The Spouse and I had quite a drive, but when she walked into the office, as she was returning from another procedure, she said, “How was the drive!? I know this was far for you! We’ll do what we can to make this process fast so that you don’t have to do it too often.”
In that quick, 2 minute interaction, she was my favorite person. Because she SAW us. She didn’t see another patient on the roster, or another chart, but she saw US. People. People who had been dealing with this heart-wrenching condition for YEARS, and even in that, she took the time to also see, even after running from god knows where to get there in time for our appointment, that we were people who had driven a distance to see her.
Sitting in her office, I have to admit I was still a little nervous. When last I’d sat across from an RE with my chart, the doctor had basically told me “this is going to suck. Because you have all this crap interfering with each other that is making this whole thing virtually impossible, but here, go talk to the nurse a bit about what it’s all going to cost you and call me when you get that urology stuff worked out.” I was prepared for more bad news, or just a really extensive time line.
And then she started talking.
Now here’s where things got interesting. Nothing in my chart has changed. All the issues there before are still there. But she put a bird on it. She talked with hope, and positivity, and excitement. She was honest about each issue, but didn’t regard any of them as an issue, but rather something we would get through together. As a team.
By the time we left her office that day, we’d completed bloodwork, HAD AN ULTRASOUND, and had a timeline. A DATE. Something we have never, ever made it to before. Every single time that we get started, we run into a brick wall. Lots of stops and starts that never much amount to anything other than hurt feelings and heartache. But for the first time, we saw a lot of hope on the horizon, and had a doctor who had a lot of hope for us.
So all our issues are still what they are, but we’re putting a bird on em.
Things don’t always go as planned.
Sometimes IVF doesn’t work.
Sometimes there are complications.
But sometimes, just sometimes, you gotta put a bird on it anyway.
Sometimes you gotta give yourself hope.
And sometimes, you need a really great doctor, who LISTENS, to help you get the hope you need.
For the record, I never really talk to people about my hall closet. For all of my advocacy, and as much as I’m open about infertility and what it has meant in my life, I very rarely have told people about the things behind that door.
There’s a baby bathtub resting along the inner right wall, with washcloths and a temperature duckie that sit lonely inside of its hollow belly. Blankets with nothing to wrap themselves around lie still and unbothered on the lower bottom shelf. A picture book gift from a friend is kept in it’s original mailer rather than being added it to my bookshelf and sits in a closet organizer where there are also infant clothes with tags hanging from their sleeves and a first Easter dress that was worn once and still smells of baby lotion. Sitting silent on the top shelf, collecting dust and grime as the days go by, are toys that have never been opened.
Sitting at my dining room table, just underneath a chair is a bumbo chair from a friend that I never touch. It’s blended in so well at this point that I often forget it’s there. Kind of like the carseat that sat in the corner for months until we finally got the courage to toss it out. Or the bag of newborn caps that is in the trunk of the car.
Ever so often, I will come across a barrette or headband that slipped through the cracks and just so happened to turn up on an especially hard day. There are also times where I run into that old box of baby bottles that I can’t bring myself to throw away, or a plastic case that used to hold baby wipes that I’ve had to re-appropriate.
The thing about my closet, and my hall, and my bottom drawer, is that they aren’t unique. There are thousands of other closets and drawers and trunks with hidden pockets of delayed hope. So many other people have walked past one onesie too many in a store and decided, “No, I’m gonna buy this in good faith.” Others still have walked down the road towards adoption, and prepared their homes and closets only to be left with the remnants of a dream that fell through their fingertips.
For over 200 days, my husband and I were foster parents to a child who was originally supposed to be our adopted daughter. We cared for her and loved her and encased our life around her in the hopes that fate would see our dedication and reward us.
They were mine, but not mine.
It was like holding our breath every.single.day.
I remember one night at my husband’s job, where I watched a couple pull up in their Mercedes truck. They came to the desk and gave him their keys making small talk about how “The Bulls Game is over, so we’re gonna go pick up the baby”. And my husband and I laughed at the fact that they were giving him that much information.
30 minutes later, they come back down, he carrying the baby carrier, and she carrying the bag while chatting on the phone. And they took their baby, and got into their Mercedes, and drove away to their life. Which may not be perfect. But had so much that I wanted in just that scene.
I wanted so badly to leave work, and pick up my husband, and pick up MY child, and go on with MY life. That’s what I WANT.
Instead, I’d drive to my husband, and we’d worry, and we’d plan, and we’d ponder…then we’d go and pick up someone else’s baby, and drive to our apartment, and we’d eat junk, and we’d worry more.
And I’d get so TIRED of it. Of those moments that didn’t really belong to me.
Of that little girl. Of singing to her, and taking my time with her, and loving her.
For it to not be mine. For me to have to turn her over to someone who didn’t care enough about her to not give her drugs before her first breath.
Seemed like some bullshit to me. And I tried consistently to have grace under pressure.
But it’s still some fucking bullshit.
People so often ask those with infertility why they won’t “just adopt”. They assume that all we want is a baby. And that since there are “sooo many” babies just waiting around for someone to save them, it’s a win-win for us both. And they don’t mean any harm for the most part. They see what could be a means to an end, I guess.
And in that means to an end, they don’t see what happens when it doesn’t work. When you’re holding your breath in the hospital and trying not to get too excited. They don’t see you standing in the hallway of the birthmother’s room, hoping that her visitors aren’t telling her to change her mind. They have no idea how tumultuous it is in your heart when you’re trying to show love to a newborn, and show their birthparents that they haven’t made a bad decision, while not overstepping any invisible boundaries. Or how confusing it is to answer the hospital staff about just who it is you are.
When people tell you to adopt, they don’t know about the feelings of inadequacy when that child is crying, and you aren’t sure if it’s because they know you aren’t their “real” mom. Or how many times you’re left speechless when trying to figure out how to answer medical questions, or fill out paperwork.
They have no idea how fast and intense your very being can plummet when a birthparent tells you that they have decided to parent. Or the fury and sadness that intermingle when they don’t even say it to you directly, but avoid you or simply block you from the hospital room, when just hours, days, months ago they were calling you their new best friend and thanking you for being there. There is no way to understand until you’ve been there that not only is it very easy to love a child whom you did not give birth to, but that when the prospect of being that child’s parent is snatched away, it feels as though your own has died.
And like others who have loved and lost, we mourn. And like so many others who mourn, we hoard those small reminders. Clothes and blankets, and toys, and dreams. Sitting on our shelves, stuffed into our closets, and unforgotten in our hearts.
You are not alone.
My closet is full too.
We’ve all heard our fair share of what goes for “advice” these days. Everything from “Are you sure you’re infertile? Did a doctor tell you that, or are you listening to too many people on the tv?” to “Maybe you’re doing it wrong”, we’ve heard them all. Today’s #NIAW post is a tongue-in-cheek look behind the door of one of the most dreaded by-products of infertility; Advice.
Girl look, I appreciate your support. You seem really committed to helping me “get over this whole infertility thing” as quickly as you can make me, and I appreciate your go-get-em attitude about it all. But here’s the thing, I didn’t really ask you for all that you’re trying to give me. I can appreciate the fact that the earth goddess and the moonlight came together for the bark that you put into your tea that led to your ovaries singing songs and welcoming the dawn that led to you conceiving your fifteen-year-old. I think that’s awesome, and I’m really happy for you and little Shaman. However, all the moonlight and tree bark in the world may not open my Fallopian tubes or clear out my endometriosis, so girl bye.
Friend, I’m sooo very sorry about your head cold. I mean, it sounds like it sucks, and I can only imagine how hard it is to remember to take your antibiotics every day. Man, I remember what that’s like, from the millions of colds I’ve had throughout my life. Because you’re so stressed out, I won’t bother bogging you down with my woe of being on a PCOS induced menstrual cyle from hell, or how I’ve hit day 20 of this one in particular. I mean, you don’t have time to hear all of that, you’re going to need a day off pretty soon if that cold keeps getting you down. But don’t you worry, you go ahead and take that day when you need it! I’ll be here. At work. Bleeding.
Miss Claudine, I really want to thank you for your thoughts on adoption. The idea that you believe something is “wrong” with kids who need to be adopted, was a little odd for me to hear from you. You know, seeing as how that son of yours was actually birthed by your older sister’s youngest daughter. But what do I know? Maybe you’re right and I guess as you say, “black folk don’t do that”. However, considering I’m going through a painful decision process about whether or not adoption is the only option for my family, I really truly don’t need your judgment clouding mine, but thanks for sharing!
Speaking of adoption, Militant Buddy, I’d like for you to cool your heels when heading over to my Facebook inbox demanding that I not be selfish and that I take in one of the thousands of children in need of homes that I’m apparently ignoring. I appreciate your passion, and I ask you, when are you visiting an agency, and how have you raised your $30,000 in fees? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for that. I mean, you seem really touched by the idea of adoption, and I think anyone with this much fervor for it, must be pretty much on their way to doing it themselves right? Or are you only suggesting it to me because it seems to you that I have to? I’d also hope that before you open your home to one of the “thousands” of kids, that you’d take a bit to consider how you plan on telling your new kid that you felt like their only hope and that they were so unwanted that you just had to swoop in and save them. Because they’re not kids, right? They’re consolation prizes and charitable acts. Right? Right.
Sister Odell, it was great talking to you after church today. I want to express to you just how helpful it was for me to hear you say that maybe my faith isn’t strong enough or that I’m not praying right, or that I’m “in God’s way”. I’d really like to hold on to that when next I see someone who has killed their children, or beaten them within an inch of their lives on the news. It will remind me that those women, who are on their way to jail, obviously have much more faith than me, and that the Lord hears them and not me. I’ve been teetering in my faith for a few years now because of this, and I’m glad to know that I’m not wrong, and that God really has forsaken me. Thanks for the help in deciding not to return to church. You really helped me out.
Aunt LuLu, I have always loved your sense of humor. Your sex jokes can still make my dad blush, and you guys grew up together. I can understand why someone as sexually liberated as yourself would think that us changing up what we’ve done in our bedroom over the last 16 years of marriage should be able to get us pregnant, but I’m sorry to say it won’t. Acrobatic tricks and “massage” oils won’t really do much for sperm count issues, and to be honest, your favorite flavored lubricant can actually kill them. But I gotta give it to you though, out of all the other people I’ve talked to about this, I appreciate your sense of humor and openness the most. It helps me to remember to laugh.
Best Friend, I’ve enjoyed sharing this part of my life with you. We’ve been through so much together, that it would really be hard for me to not include you in what are some of the darkest times I’ve had to endure. I want to thank you for always listening to me, and letting me vent about how hard it is for me to climb into those stirrups yet again only to be back at square one a few weeks later. I guess our openness and candor is what makes you feel so comfortable complaining about your aching feet and back to me, or how tired of being pregnant you are. You know, with this being your fourth baby, when I always thought we’d have had our first together and been pregnant besties who gave birth to besties, I guess it’s hard for you to have to let go of that dream, and so you feel the need to include me on every, single, detail of your pregnancy. Rest assured, however, that I really don’t need to know. I don’t actually need to hear your staunch views and jokes about how you wish you could get your husband “fixed” since every time he breathes on you, you get pregnant, and I really don’t give a care to be offered one of your kids every time they’re getting on your nerves around the house. Do you have any idea how much my husband WISHES he could breathe on me? Any thought about how I’d love for a toddler to make a mess of my living room? It’s cool, and we’re cool, and I love you to the moon, but I need you to think when speaking to me these days. I’m more fragile than I let on.
Mom, I want to thank you for simply asking me what you can do. Yours is the best and most welcome thing that’s been said to me throughout this entire ordeal. I am so sorry I haven’t been able to achieve the dreams you have for me, even if it’s been just the basic one of me being happy. I’m grateful that when I need your advice, you know that I’ll ask for it, and that when you give it, you always take care to consider how I’ll feel after our talk. I wish you could teach these other people. LOL
The following is an anonymous submission for The Egg’s 2015 National Infertility Awareness Week Blog Project, #BehindClosedDoors. Most people assume that this is all about babies. Not many people stop to think about what takes place after the babies are born. Does the doubt ever go away? The fear? Not for many.
Here’s another look behind the door.
So everything will be fine once you have that baby. Right? Is what I thought. I think that’s a thought we all have. I’d be super mom and every heartache, depressed mood, crying episode would disappear as quickly as they came. But of course life is never that simple with infertility.
I guess the bottom line is that any experience that has had a life-altering affect, never really leaves you. The fire is gone but the smell is still there.
I guess it was naive of me to think something that held up my life for nearly 10 years would just disappear so easily.
Several thoughts play in my head over and over again on a regular basis. I often have thoughts that people are judging me through a different lens than they do other mothers. It feels as if I have to work harder because I wanted it more than the average woman.
I also live in my head more than I thought I ever would. From time to time I’m questioning if I’m doing everything right. Is the baby’s nose always clean, is he meeting every bench mark or is he he eating healthy enough! I know this is definitely a new mom thing but there is still an element of infertility associated with it.
What’s also frustrating is that all of my good friends kids are grown. So it’s hard for them to relate to me as a new mom. So while we are ecstatic to have our bundle of joy all of our friends kids are off to college.
The other thought is how to continue to build our family. IVF is hard and adoption is expensive. So will our baby be an only child or will we endeavor this difficult path once again??
The above was a submission to the Egg’s 2015 NIAW Project “Behind Closed Doors”. If you would like to submit a post on what goes on behind the scenes of YOUR fertility journey. Please consider sharing a submission by emailing me at Regina@thebrokenbrownegg.org
A few days ago, I witnessed a discussion on FB about people using crowd-funding sites. Most of the comments were based around the idea of people who have taken to posting “Go Fund Me” pages for things that others have deemed frivolous. Pay for me to go to hair school, or help us fund my sister’s babyshower, are some of the topics I’ve seen across my Facebook feed through the last couple of years. For the most part, I tend to ignore the ones that I know I can’t (or won’t) fund. No harm, no foul.
In this discussion however, my spidey senses began to tingle when someone’s response was close to saying that it’s “tacky” to ask others to help “fund your dreams”.
In theory, yeah, okay, I can see that on some level. But then, as with most things, it made me think about those of us in the infertility fight, and how sights like GoFundMe have actually helped some of us do just that. Is growing our families a “dream” that others should scoff at helping us fund?
Crowd-funding sites have helped many couples on the infertility journey find a way that they can allow family and friends who previously felt helpless, assist them on their way. For many, the sites have given them the opportunity to take their own first steps into self-advocacy and find their voice. Even if no one ever clicked the donate button, for a lot of couples, this was their way of boldly announcing just what their years of struggle had entailed, and how hard they’d been trying to work towards it. I’m sure that countless individuals were able to at least send a message of support that was like a drop of water to someone dying of thirst.
Over the past few years, I’ve built up my skills at design. When it was time for me to suck up my pride and work on raising funds for my own IVF, my husband and I decided that the best way for us to do that was to use my designs toward our dream. I am also blessed to live in one of the few states that includes fertility treatment in health insurance. Many times, however, I wonder what I’d do if I didn’t have that skill or that health benefit. How devastated would I be if I had no money to start from scratch, AND no tangible thing to use as a fundraiser?
I can only imagine.
As people continue to exploit these sites for all kinds of reasons, that many will no doubt judge, I’m sure that those who were already debating whether or not they should move forward with fundraising for infertility will decide to go back into the shadows. There is a personal fight that many of us have when financial issues come into play in infertility. It is the fight that whispers, “If you have to raise money to even do this, maybe that says you shouldn’t do this”. We cower behind it, and swallow our sorrow, and retreat into defeat.
I don’t want you to do that. I want you to have a safe space to shout from the rooftops, “I’m struggling, and I would like some help.” Even if you never get a dime, I have always been about empowering others to self-advocate.
Fertility Fundraiser Fridays, will be a weekly promotional kickstart on The Egg, where I will share an idea for a cool Fertility Fundraiser, or a link to one that stands out. We’re in this together, and I hope your dreams come true. Allow me to be your platform, and please, if you can, reach back and help someone else by sharing theirs.
It’s Tuesday. And around here, Tuesdays are RealTalkTuesdays. Today, though, there’s more than just the normal affirmations on my mind. Today, I’m thinking about the five years that have gone past as this blog has grown, and just how monumental it actually is.
Five years ago, when I started my blog, it was out of a desperate need to do something. My husband and I had fought our way blindly through this forest of uncertainty and I’ll just admit, shame, and I just wanted to do SOMETHING that would make me feel less than defeated. I wanted to kick a door open, turn on a light, make the smart-ass comment that would get the classroom talking.
Five years later, I’m proud to say that the door is open and there are people walking through and towards their healing. Not all of us have become parents, and not all of us are done fighting, but all of us have a place and a voice now. A place to shout, and a place to be heard. A place to be quiet, and a comforting silence to wrap us up in.
Five years ago, I was unemployed, uninsured, frustrated, and feeling hopeless. I was barely getting people to visit my blog, let alone comment or even let me know I was making a difference. Five years ago, when I started this blog, all I wanted to do was shout. Five years later, I’m glad to listen.
I don’t take it for granted.
And I don’t want YOU to take it for granted either.
You should know, that five years ago, organizations such as Fertility Within Reach, Fertility For Colored Girls, or A Family Of My Own, did not exist and it was very hard to know where to start. Especially if Resolve felt overwhelming. So many groups have formed in these past few years, that it’s easy to forget how vast of a wasteland it once was.
You should know, that I felt lost in the sea of infertility blogs that I did find, because I saw absolutely no reflection of myself, and that the ONLY fertility related blogs for women of color that I could find, had either stopped being updated, gone in a different direction, or were morphing into parenting blogs.
You should know, that in the past five years, there have been ENORMOUS strides made in the growth of reproductive awareness in general, and attention to infertility in the African-American and minority communities. So many people have responded to me, and told me how valuable this site(or the Facebook page or the Facebook group) mean to them, and it is humbling. To know that people are choosing to allow me to walk with them through the most painful and private ordeal in their lives, is extremely humbling.
You should know that I am grateful.
You should know that I am not done.
What do you need? How can I help? You let me know.
I’ll be here.