Tag: Infertility

Bad Blogger

IMG_1479Well hello there strangers. I know … it’s been a while and I sincerely hope everyone is doing well in the Land of IF, cities in Between and points Beyond.

There is no excuse for not writing on this blog very much. The truth is, I haven’t had much to say in regards to living child-free (NOT by choice). And anything I’ve had to say about things has really been small snippets on my Facebook page about articles I’ve shared.

You see, unlike 15 years ago when I first started this infertility journey (well, actually, it’s been closer to 20 years, now that I think about it … yikes!), there is a lot more media surrounding IF. Seriously … where was all this support when I needed it?!

Social media aside, I’m just truly grateful that it was through the blogosphere that I met many wonderful people going through this infertility journey with me. Most of us have now resolved our infertility journeys; some managed to have biological children of their own either naturally or by way of IVF (one of them had TWINS!), some of them became adoptive parents, and some even became step-parents. And some of them … well, some sort of combination of all of the above!

As for me, I have pretty much resolved the fact that I will never have biological children of my own for these facts:

  • I am over 40 years old
  • I’m pretty sure I’m going into early menopause
  • Adoption for us is way beyond our financial means
  • I am way too exhausted to think of parenting at my age
  • Being over 40, I cannot fathom having to raise a child now and be close to (or even over) 60 by the time they graduate from high school

 

Unfortunately, these facts don’t stop some well-meaning family members from thinking I’m going to have some sort of miraculous conception. (We won’t even go into our recent trip to the Philippines.)

Monasterio de Santa Clara

Monasterio de Santa Clara (click on picture)

 

So what brings me out of my semi-retirement? A damn movie.

But first let me clarify something. While we may have reached the end of our IF journey, this doesn’t mean that some things can slap us in the face and make us fully aware that we are not the norm … that we are quite different than the rest of everyday society.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned to accept that Hubby & I are on a unique path of our own (just like every other person / couple / family is). I’ve gotten used to answering “No” to when new friends, acquaintances, or other professionals ask us if we have any children. And I’m certainly used to and am very comfortable in explaining why we don’t either. I can stand on my own (without crying, to boot!) when discussing infertility and the emotions that a person goes through while traveling on that journey. I can be rational about debating why adoption isn’t for us. I can even easily ask and converse with others about their children without feeling inferior.

But every once in a while, there’s something that happens that can have me contemplating why we chose this Child-Free-Not-By-Choice life. Or has me feeling, once again, that I’m alone in the world of other adults that are parents … and that I can’t possibly know what it’s like to be one of them.

This time it’s a movie … particularly one that is specifically aimed towards motherhood and all the horrible things that occur during parenting a child.

Okay, I get it. Yes … motherhood isn’t always glamorous. In fact, I’d say the only time everyday parenting looks glamorous is on Facebook or Pinterest or Instagram … or any other social media outlet out there. And that’s only after 5 GAZILLION retakes to make it “just perfect.”

IMG_2318But it’s still something that I can’t fully understand.

Because, for being “over-worked, over-committed and exhausted to the point that [these moms are] about to snap” (directly from the plot summary, BTW)? I will never know what it’s like to feel that way. As a Mom, anyway.

And yet … Well, here’s something for all those moms out there:

Those feelings – while not as “ongoing on a daily basis”-type of way – are what those who have experienced / are experiencing infertility go through on a month-to-month basis.

Nothing hits you straight in the gut with a pregnancy test that doesn’t have that second line … and knowing you’ll have to go through the same treatments (-ie- shots, pills, holistic treatments, all of the above) for yet another month.

I know that I will eventually see this movie in the future (because – C’MON! The same writers as “The Hangover”?!). But next weekend, I’ll likely just chill with my Hubby and our four-legged child.

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PS. If you want know where “I’ve” been in social media lately, check out this Instagram account.

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Wanted: Child-Free Infertility Support

I wasn’t planning on posting anything on my blog today; didn’t have anything scheduled to post. In fact, I had other plans to work on another writing project I’ve been working on.

But then I saw something on my Facebook newsfeed in response to a RESOLVE posting. And, well I just had the need to address it on my little corner of the world.

You see, I subscribe to RESOLVE’s fan page so that I can get the latest infertility news that they post on Facebook. It’s been useful in reminding me to vote for my favorite infertility book and my favorite “What If” post from NIAW 2010. And it tends to post articles from their website about various topics dealing with infertility.

Since I’ve subscribed to RESOLVE’s page, I had seen multiple articles in regards to treatment options for Infertility ranging from IUI to IVF; donor eggs/sperm, surrogacy. But never had I seen anything about child-free living … until today.

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You *bet* I "like" this!!

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Which of course, I immediately “liked.”

Of course, that was swiftly followed by the first commenter.

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Name erased to "protect the un-informed" ...

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<sigh>

Sometimes people don’t get it. And what’s sad is that sometimes it’s people within our own Infertility Community.

As I’ve mentioned before, there are reasons why child-free living is right for Hubby & me.  We have deliberately and carefully thought through our other options, including adoption.

It’s so easy for everyone to say “just adopt” when there are thousands of hurdles (both tiny and large) to overcome. It’s financial. It’s emotional. It’s stressful.

I can tell you for myself that I could easily open my heart to a child; easily let a child into my life. But knowing the heartache I’ve experienced from infertility, I just don’t know how much more my mind and body … and quite frankly, my spirit can handle. It’s already been shattered to pieces and glued back together many times over.

It’s a matter of how many more times do I want to put my hand in a pot of boiling water and not know if my hand will be able to grasp onto something … or if I’ll come up empty-handed and burned yet once again.

As if the infertility diagnosis isn’t difficult enough, we’re faced with others who constantly feel as if having children by “whatever means necessary” is more important than simply moving past something that in my heart, I’ve already grieved. It’s like pulling a band-aid off when the wound is just about healed; making it seem to the infertile couple … that has invested a lot of time and energy (not to mention money) we spent on having children … was all for naught.

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Even Ellie & Carl from "UP" decided to live Child-Free after Infertility ...

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I just find it frustrating that even amongst our own Infertility community that there’s a lack of support for those couples trying to decide if a Child-free life is the right choice for them. It’s as if it’s taboo to speak of moving on with your life sans-children.

Even in the RESOLVE Infertility Support Community boards, there are only two communities of which you can choose. One is “Finding a Resolution for Infertility” and the other is “Living After an Infertility Resolution.”

Now when I signed up, I logically chose the latter group. After all, I had found my resolution to live child-free and I wanted to find others that came to that decision as well. Except, well … except when I started to see the message boards, I didn’t spot one single discussion about child-free living after Infertility.

So, okay … then I went to the “Finding a Resolution” community; thinking maybe there might be some discussion about making the decision to live child-free. Nope … struck out there, too.

What frustrates me is that I’ve already felt “different” than the general population by not being able to conceive a child; be a woman in all sense of the world … be able to procreate.** Now that Hubby & I have chosen a less traditional path … it seems as if the pool of couples out there, that are willing to talk or write about this chosen path is much, much smaller. And maybe they are out there in droves, but infertility is no longer the primary focus of their lives.

Maybe I’ll be there at some stage of my life, but right now I’m not. And right now it would be really great to find some other support out there to get through those moments. You know … the ones where I begin to question that decision again? The times where I feel pressured by others to “keep on trying” or “just adopt”?

Yeah, it’d be really good to have that support. In droves. Just like the rest of the general Infertility Community. The same community that helped me feel less isolated when I otherwise felt alone.

And hey … if you stumbled onto this post and are living Child-Free After Infertility and find yourself wanting additional support  out there*** … well, consider this blog or my Facebook page a place where you can hang your hat.

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** And yes, I’m aware that being a woman is not limited to whether or not I can bear children. I’m just using this statement to elicit an example.

*** Because there are resources out there; like Pam’s Silent Sorority site and, in particular her blog, A Fresh Start.

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Related Links:

RESOLVE’s Living Childfree Article

RESOLVE’s Infertility Support Community

Emily’s post about making the decision to live Child-free

Emily’s Thoughts on Adoption

Emily’s Reasons for Living Child-Free After Infertility

Emily’s List of Child-Free After Infertility Bloggers

Emily’s Facebook Page

Infertility Bets On Hold, Part 2

(If you missed Part 1, click here … )

While I’ve pretty much begun to resolve those particular grief issues, there’s still that lack of strength that I feel I need in order to go through the entire adoption process.  Because it takes someone who really has enough strength to climb over the proverbial brick wall getting in the way of having a child. And specifically, I’m talking about all the rules and reg­u­la­tions and inves­ti­ga­tions into your pri­vate lives just to raise a child that is not bio­log­i­cally your own. Quite frankly, I know that I don’t have what it takes to go through that.

Why do I say that? (And Kelly … hopefully, this will help answer the question you posed to me at one time … ) Well first of all, I just know what I’m capable of handling emotionally, and I know that I wouldn’t be able to survive any further disappointment or heartache. Or as my new favorite quote from Pam says:

It got to the point where the potential for more heartbreak was more overwhelming than the glimmer of very small hope.

The second reason I feel as if I have little strength is because I have little confidence that things will come relatively straightforward and simple to us.

Not that I expect adoption to be an easy path. If we did decide to adopt, I have this very strong suspicion that we’d have so many more walls to climb. Give me a chance to explain … and I’d absolutely love to hear what others have to say to contribute to this discussion.

Let’s start off with Domestic Adoption:

  • Hubby & I both Asian American; Filipino American, to be specific.
  • How often do you suppose any Potential Birth Moms (PBM) would look at our dossier and — just by looks alone — think that we’d make great parents when their child will (most likely) not look at all similar to the adoptive couple that they’d hope to raise their child?
  • Or that the PBM might worry that their child would face more barriers having Asian American parents?
  • How often are Asian American babies given up for adoption; especially if the PBM is also Asian or Asian American? Culture dictates that family is important. If the child is not wanted in the immediate family; chances are that there is another family member (aunt, cousin, third uncle twice removed) that is willing to raise the child. Unfortunately, that’s a situation that’s likely never going to happen to us.

Moving onto International Adoption:

  • There are stricter laws and regulations from various countries in effect.
  • Some specific countries, like Russia and Guatemala, have either suspended or have placed holds on any adoptions to the US.
  • Wait time. Even for Filipino adoptions there are certain stipulations on how and when a child can be adopted; when the child can come back to the US with the adopted parents. And quite frankly, I don’t think I can afford the three-year wait in order to adopt a child from my native country.

And finally other, all-encompassing barriers:

  • Age: Let’s face it. Hubby & I are currently pushing 40. And yes, I know that there are couples out there that are raising babies that are much older than us. But there was a reason why Hubby & I started trying to conceive within a year of marriage: I had always seen me as a younger mother; one that wanted to finish having babies before the age of 30. There was a specific reason behind that: my mother and I are exactly 3o years apart in age (sorry Mom!). Growing up (particularly in high school), not only did I deal with a cultural barrier, but I also dealt with a huge generational gap. Both my parents were pre-baby boomer, while I was most definitely a Gen-Xer. Even though after I turned 30, I knew that this was something beyond my control, adopting now — especially as the rules and regs of adoption have gotten more strict — well, it no longer seems prudent for both Hubby & my sake.
  • Energy: Along with age, this is the second biggest concern that I have. And, if I was honest with myself, the flimsiest barrier of all. Because, really this has to do with energy and stamina. It’s one thing to raise a child with the thought in mind that you’ll be young enough to (somewhat) keep up with their needs. It’s quite another thing knowing that I can no longer wake myself up in the morning without hitting the snooze button a dozen times. Would I be able to care for another life if I can barely care for my own? Like I said, flimsy … but I’m just being honest.

I don’t bring up these points to be negative in any way, shape or form. I’m simply stating facts that appear to be the most obvious barriers for our individual case when it comes to adopting a child. And that’s assuming that we would ever go down that route. And, as I said above, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I perceive as barriers.

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As it is, I feel that we’ve already played our game of Infertility Roulette. We’ve already placed all the bets we wanted to at this time in our lives. And we lost that bet. With adoption (or h*ll, even if we ever decided to go through IVF again), I want something I can be sure of … something I can count on.

I hesitate using the word “guarantee” … since nothing in life is ever guaranteed, but after more than ten years of fighting the odds and now facing even greater odds against us (age, finances, etc), Hubby & I opted to get out of the betting pool.

And this is why, at least in my eyes, it’s never as simple to “just adopt.” It’s never easy to go through another round of IVF.

This is why Hubby & I have decided to “cut our loss” … or in this case, “cut the strings” … and live child-free after infertility.

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Related Links:

Cutting The Strings

Infertility Bets On Hold, Part 1

Thoughts on Adoption

Information on Filipino Adoptions

Wiki Info on the Pre-Baby Boom Generation

Wiki Info on Generation X

Infertility Bets On Hold, Part 1

(I guess I need to start off by saying, no … things have definitely not changed in my barren world. And don’t let the title of this post fool you. Apparently I may have “freaked” a couple people out by both the title and the picture below … LOL!)

I’m not a betting person. Which, when you think of the many trips Hubby & I have taken to Vegas, is quite humorous. All those casinos, and the most we played were slots.

I mean, I’ve played poker and blackjack in my college years; but seriously, all bets were based on pennies. Or cigarettes, depending on who you were playing with (<cough> Tim <cough>). But to place actual money that’s more than a dollar (okay, maybe $2 max for a slot machine)? Can’t see myself spending that kind of money.

My odds with these tests were never good

Which, given the odds that Hubby & I were given when we did our one cycle of IVF, makes it ironic. We were given a 51% chance that we’d be successful in our pursuit to become pregnant. We knew the odds were only 1% more on our favor. We had hoped to win this bet — a bet in which we put a boatload of money into the pot — and we lost. And I was devastated.

That’s not to say that I regret ever having done our one cycle of IVF. Because even back then I knew that this was something Hubby & I had to try in order to feel as if we tried everything in our quest to reproduce. I’m just simply saying that the results of that bet, that one IVF cycle, was enough for me to know that I could never place another bet on another IVF cycle ever again.

So yes … the next logical step would be to go for adoption, right?

Except adoption isn’t a simple thing to just “think about.” First, there’s the process of grieving the fact that I can’t have a baby. That alone is nothing simple. That process involves never being able to experience pregnancy. In my case, it involved never being able to see two pink lines in a pregnancy test.  And it involves feeling as if my body’s failed, not only me and my Hubby (especially my husband), but our parents and our siblings. And our siblings children, too.

Then there’s the other part that I needed to grieve; which is outlined in more detail in this recent post. It’s grieving the fact that we will never be able to have our own biological baby.  A child that we could pass our genes to. A child to pass the Filipino traditions we were taught growing up; and finding a way to blend both our American and Filipino sides together. A child to carry on my Hubby’s last name.

And while I’ve pretty much begun to resolve those grief issues, there’s still that lack of strength that I feel I need in order to go through the entire adoption process.  Because it takes someone who really has enough strength to climb over the proverbial brick wall getting in the way of having a child. And specifically, I’m talking about all the rules and reg­u­la­tions and inves­ti­ga­tions into your pri­vate lives just to raise a child that is not bio­log­i­cally your own. Quite frankly, I know that I don’t have what it takes to go through that.

(Part Two continues tomorrow … )

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Related Links:

Thoughts on Adoption

Baby Picture

ADdressing Infertility

Recently, the New York Times wrote an article about a new reality series that TLC began airing strictly on their website. “A Conception Story,” a Web-only show follows the lives of 6 women as they try to conceive over the next seven months. Which, seeing that this is the same network that airs “A Wedding Story” and “A Baby Story,” makes perfect sense.

Meet Kristen, one of the six women in "A Conception Story"

I mean really … what better way to bridge the “gap” between the Wedding Planning and the arrival of a newborn baby by filming a show about Family Planning?

No. Really … I’m not being sarcastic. Even though at first I was hesitant to watch the show, I must admit that curiosity got the best of me. While it’s currently just wrapped up it’s second month of video entries, I’m actually invested in watching these six women’s stories.

For those that were as skeptical (or perhaps jaded?) about watching ecstatic BFP (“big fat positive” … as in a positive pregnancy test) announcements via the web, I’ll spare you the heartache to let you know, as of today, there has been only one person who saw the two pink lines thus far. And it’s a couple that had been been trying to conceive for close to three years.

Which is another thing. Out of the six couples we’re initially introduced to, half of them have been experiencing difficulty trying to conceive. The others that are just “starting” their quest to have a baby (or add another one to their family); well, it would appear that they, too, may be finding out that getting pregnant isn’t quite as easy as the rest of the world makes it seem to be. Or as easy as the proverbial “birds and bees” theory that we were taught in school.

Speaking of the birds and the bees …

About two weeks ago, I stumbled on another article in an Austin** newspaper. It’s this article that led me to this website and the humorous, but spot-on videos about a Bird and a Bee dealing with infertility. If you haven’t watched them, I urge you to do so, if only to empathize with what any infertile couple can encounter.

Both “A Conception Story” and the “Increase Your Chances” vignettes  (also spotlighted in this article in Salon, an award-winning online news and entertainment Web site) are probably one of the first real advertisements highlighting the difficulties in trying to conceive.

The Bird and the Bee

And when I say “advertisements” in relationship to the TLC story, I do mean advertisement. Because although the stories being told in “A Conception Story” are in “real time” (as evidenced by the journals that these women write for the show), the whole she-bang is sponsored by First Response, whose products focus on all aspects of pregnancy planning. And it’s quite evident the moment you click on the TLC website for the show, that they’ve invested a lot of money into advertising their products.

But getting back to these advertising campaigns, it’s quite refreshing to know that there are companies*** out there that are willing to go that in-depth with the emotional side of infertility. Because, face it: thus far, any advertisements for infertility I’ve heard were for Infertility Clinics or Hospital Networks. And it’s typically only a 30- to 60-second spot.

Yeah; that’ll never be enough time to go into depth about the multiple layers of Infertility.

As happy as I am about Infertility getting its fair share of air time, it’s sad to see that other people still may not empathize with what an infertile couple go through both physically and emotionally. All you have to do is look at some of the comments made in regards to such articles that brought these ads to the forefront.

One person commented:

Couldn’t it be that if you can’t get pregnant on your own that it means that god didn’t want you to have kids?

[Duh. Don’t think that I haven’t already thought about that. And oh, by the way … I believe if we’re talking about one G*d, I believe it’s common respect to address him/her formally; not with a lower case “g.” I’m just saying … ]

While another person wrote:

The best way to become a parent is to chose to have your children during your most fertile years, not when you are old.

[Hmm … maybe some of us did choose to become parents when we were supposed to be most fertile? And so what if we started later in life? What does it matter to you?]

And yet another person stated the obvious:

If you can’t have babies, why not just adopt?

[Because clearly adopting a child is such a simple task. And, unlike infertility treatments, there’s no financial or emotional stress involved in the adoption process. NOT!]

But this one … for me, this one is the kicker of them all:

Infertility, especially in developed nations like the US, is probably a good thing. I think it’s reprehensible that big pharma and the medical community is encouraging people to have children.

That last statement is what probably angered me the most. Even more than the “G*d didn’t mean for you to have kids” statement. To me, this statement has the potential to dig deeper than the emotional turmoil an infertile couple can feel. As if feeling like failure for not being able to reproduce wasn’t bad enough … it is statements like that which can strip away any sense of support that an Infertile can turn to outside of the Adoption, Loss & Infertility (ALI) Community.

But that’s my own humble opinion. Because really, when *I* look at both the “Increase Your Chances” advertisement and TLC’s “A Conception Story” Web series, I don’t immediately think about running to the first Infertility Specialist I know. And I don’t make a mad dash to the drug store to pick up more Home Pregnancy Tests.

No. The first thing I think of is that it’s about d*mn time that Infertility is getting its time in the spotlight. Just like Cancer, Diabetes, Coronary Artery Disease … and pretty much every other health condition (Erectile Dysfunction anyone?) has.

Don't you think this 24 & 25 yo newlywed couple deserved to have kids? We started trying about a year after our honeymoon and kept trying for more than 10 years.

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**How much do you love me, Kate? 😛

***EMD Serono, a Massachusetts-based maker of fertility drugs, sponsors the Increase Your Chances campaign)

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Related Links:

TLC’s “A Conception Story

NYTimes Article

Increase Your Chances Website

The Statesman Article (Austin Newspaper)

Salon e-News & Entertainment Article

Other Related Strings

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