Dear Pregnant folks and Parents,

WHO THIS IS FOR:

  • My comrades going through IVF or the adoption process
  • Fertile people who post all over Facebook, all of the time.

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Dear Pregnant Couples and Parents,

I am writing on behalf of my infertile friends and allies. I can say with the utmost certainty that your lackadaisical comments and behavior drives us mad.  So instead of screaming I am going to bestow upon on you a few nuggets of wisdom and hope that you savor every word and let it marinate. This are not to say its not okay to have feelings, what I am saying though is you are privileged. Be aware of your privilege before typing away, while in line at Starbucks, at parties, etc.

STOP AND SAY THANK YOU

Making a baby required you to have sex, tough times. Following the birth of your children you post about how much your life sucks.

Next time your kid shits on the wall, or you haven’t slept all night, stop and look at your baby/kid and say thank you. Give him or her a kiss and appreciate you have the privilege to manage those new experiences.

PREGNANCY SICKNESS

You are sick because there is a living being in your body who is growing. You are beyond privileged. Say thank you to your belly each time you throw up. This may sound insane but I would do anything (and I am) to have that privilege and I know so many women who are in the same boat.

FINANCIAL WOES

Next time you post about how much a kid costs, stop. Go into your kids room, take out a book, snuggle and read together. Having sex to create your kid was free. If finding a nanny is too much for you, we don’t want to hear about it.  You didn’t have to put up 10s of thousands of dollars just to create your baby. Say thank you to your body.

VENT

If you feel the urge to vent, call a friend. Do not blast social media.

Think of it like this, if you had a friend with cancer or diabetes or any other health issue, would you post on Facebook about how tough it is to be healthy? Because infertility is so hush hush people don’t give infertility the same thoughtfulness. “Infertility is a disease that results in the abnormal functioning of the male or female reproductive system. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recognize infertility as a disease.” (Learn more here)

I beg of you to be more thoughtful. You have no idea who is crying when looking at their computer screen. I am just one of millions who are experiencing infertility, be aware of who and how you  are impacting people.

-Annie

 

In case you missed it: Best of Infertility Awareness Week

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

EVERYONE!


Last week was National Infertility Awareness week, the internet was booming with awesome articles about infertility. It was excited to see folks engage in dialogue and feel a little less alone in all of this. Below is some of the best articles I read this past week. I hope you can share continue to spread the word outside of this designated week.

The Loneliness Of Infertility featured in Elle Magazine ->Absolutely beautiful piece- poetic.

The Pain of Infertility Never Goes away featured in Scary Mommy

Why Infertility Awareness Week Should Matter to Moms  featured in Romper

The Tale of the Clueless Resident

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

Everyone

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So there I am, laying with my feet in stir ups. My ultra sound tech had to run out of the room to double check something on my chart. The resident stood across the room silently,  I decided to fill the silence with noise.

I asked her how long she was working at the office and what her speciality was in. I explained my lining, the usual office chatter. She let me know she was going to work in high risk pregnancies and that she appreciated learning more about what she was seeing on the screen.

A few second of silent passed and then…“I wish I could be in your spot?” she said. “What do you mean?” I replied.

“You know, without kids.”

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Immediately my brain malfunctioned.  Is this really happening? Could she really be saying this? I started to believe I was in the twilight zone.

“I am here because my body is failing. I don’t think you want to be in my seat,” I say.

She continues, “Uh I am just so tired. I have 3 kids. I am just so fertile, I just couldn’t stop having them.”

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DEEP BREATHS, DEEP BREATHS

“Sounds like poor planning,” I say. “You did have the option of this thing called, birth control. You should have used it,” I state.

SILENCE//Subject switched.

When I left I began to process what had happened. Was this woman for real? Do I tell the doctor? ::BRAIN SPINNING::

I went home, started working and forgot about the whole thing until surgery. Upon waking up from the anesthesia I saw my doctor and decided to spill the beans. My husband said it went a little something like this:

“Doc, you know the resident? You need to have a chat with her.” I then went through the exchange. He was mortified.

Unfortunately I have heard stories like this from a number of women. Where on earth do people get the idea that saying they got pregnant easily or having kids is annoying would be comforting to women who are struggling to get pregnant? I can not comprehend where this break down in understanding occurs.

Now its a funny story, but WOWEEE at the time!

-ANNIE

TOP 10 THINGS NOT TO SAY TO SOMEONE GOING THROUGH IVF (PART 2)

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

  • My IVF comrade
  • The general public who means well but says all the wrong things

We IVF sisters unfortunately encounter common comments over and over. After a while your ability to see the good in people starts to dwindle because you hear the same asinine comments on repeat. I can say with certainty that if you know someone going through IVF you need to follow a couple steps:

  1. Listen.
  2. Think “Will this response make ______ know I listened?” If the answer is no. DO NOT SAY IT.
  3. Only speak if you have something that is empathetic.

AVOID (in no particular order):

10.“I am friends with another couple who is going through IVF for XXX years and they were so happy for us when we got pregnant. You should be too.”

9. “If you try to adopt, I bet you’ll get pregnant.”

8.“When you start puking when your pregnant, you think why did I do this?”

7. “When your kids are running around your house, you think why did I do this?”

6. “Sleep as much as you can now because you wont be able to when you don’t have a kid.”

5. “I wish I could travel now, but thats over since we have kids.”

4. “It will happen when its supposed to happen.”

3. The obligatory “Just relax. It will happen.”

2. The obligatory “Just stay positive.”

1. Talking about your period or your pregnancy in terms of hormones like we have NO IDEA what hormones do or feel like.

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I LOVE the friends and family guide from Resolve, I recommend emailing it to all of your friends and family as a guide to help them talk to you. It will help depersonalize it and let them know that there are some universal feelings that go into infertility.

-ANNIE

It’s not your fault.

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

  • Women going through IVF
  • Supportive friends of folks going through infertility treatments

 

In February 2014 I was a proactive planner, I went to my gyno and let her know we wanted to make a baby. We decided that I would go off the pill in May. I recall the visit so clearly. She said, “I love that you are responsible and are planning. I wish more people did that.” HA!

In June 2014 I didn’t get my period. In July 2014, I didn’t get my period. I went back to my gyno because this was unusual. Before birth control I ALWAYS got my period. I hopped on my bike, road to the office and entered her room. I sat down and let her know what was going on. She pointed towards my helmet and said, “Is this a new thing?” “What riding a bike? No. I have done spin 3 or more times a week for the past two years,” I replied. She scratched her head and explained I might just be exercising too much. In my gut I knew this wasn’t right. My workout routine hadn’t drastically changed in the months leading up to the summer. I knew that me riding a bike a mile wasn’t what was keeping my period. But it was hard not to doubt myself.

Fast forward to September 2014, I still didn’t have my period. I was put in touch with a fertility doctor through a family friend. I hopped on a call with the doctor and she asked me a few preliminary questions. First up, how much do you weigh? At the time I weighed 117 and I am 5’6. There was a long pause, “That’s probably it, you don’t weigh enough. You should gain 5 pounds.” Mind you, she hadn’t seen me, she was purely going on numbers. Also, at the start of summer when I didn’t have my period, I did weigh 5 more pounds. I know my body very well and I know that when I don’t have estrogen in me (which feels AWESOME) I loose weight much quicker and am able to maintain my weight. My weight was a result of my situation, it was not the CAUSE. I got off the phone feeling like it was my fault.

Throughout this process again and again I have been made to feel that my infertility is my fault. Just a few snippets of the “wisdom” thrown my way:

  • “You just need to relax.”
  • “Well if you were just doing XYZ.”
  • “If you just thought about it less.”
  • “When you stop thinking about it, it will happen.”
  • “If you just ate meat, you would get your period.”

There is always an underlying tone of blame. While all of these statements are made with a hint of innocence, the result is shame.

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Women are made to feel that they SHOULD have control over their fertility. That if we just tweaked this, or did that, this would all go away. If we put women’s health in historical context we can say definitively that women’s bodies are still quite a mystery. This comes from years of not prioritizing women because women were not in positions of power within the medical field. Centuries of biases and misinformation feed into the reasons why women put pressure on themselves.

Turning the voice off in your head that says, “I am doing everything I can and this is not my fault,” becomes increasingly difficult as the meds start being pumped into your body.

I can’t speak for everyone but I know from my experience with friends going through IVF, we are all beating ourselves up… we don’t need another voice telling us what else we could  or should do. My therapist and husband are voices of reason and I am so grateful to them.

I would like to offer some “counter” mantras/bits of wisdom for all of those who struggle keeping the voices at bay. I hope you take them, savor them, hug them, and USE them:

  • From my therapist: ” I have never met ANYONE who wants something so bad and has worked tirelessly for it that wasn’t anxious. That is part of the territory. It has no effect on your ability to become pregnant.”
  • There are thousands upon thousands of vegetarians who have kids. Meat wasn’t what helped them get there. UPDATE: Approximately 31-40% of India is vegetarian. Last I heard they were doing pretty okay with population. In fact word on the street is, they have a lot of people.
  • Emaciated people all over the world have kids, its not your weight.
  • Does everyone who has kids not have any stress? No, its ridiculous to think everyone who got pregnant was cool as a cucumber.
  • From my therapist: “People can handle adversity, but suspended adversity is a whole other beast. It is normal and expected to be angry and anxious.”
  • I am healthy.

It is not our fault. We were dealt a really shitty hand. We did not do anything to cause this.

-Annie

 

Waiting Is the Worst.

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

  • Couples going through IVF

One of the worst things about IVF is the waiting. Life is dictated by dates. In between each set of dates all you can do it wait. This week I have struggled more than ever with the waiting.

I walked into 2016 a heck of a lot calmer about IVF. With each retrieval I took it as it came. I barely wept. I sat back, accepted my circumstances, went to my appointments and went about my day (for the most part). But this week took a toll on me.

This is THE WEEK. Any time now we find out our PGD results.This week is worse than the 2WW. These results will tell us wether or not we will ever have biological children. It will tell me if I will ever get the experience of being pregnant. It will tell us if we will ever get to experience 9 months of exciting anticipation. 

In just one call everything could or could not change. It is eating away at me.

My husband and I have talked a lot about the waiting process in IVF and how its unlike any other circumstance we have expierienced in life. Each date that we wait for is a complete rollercoaster of emotions. Either you are thrilled or devastated, no in-between. The back and forth between polar opposites is wearing.

When I think of BIG life changing events that tend to devastate families, they usually happen within seconds. I have racked my brain to find scenarios that are tragic that require weeks of anticipation. I can only find a few, this is definitely on that list.

I wanted to write something funny, bold or empowering this week but I could not find the energy. It would have been disingenuous to write about working out or the best movies to watch during recovery because waiting has sucked all of my emotions out of my heart. I realize though that many of you are in this same boat. You too are waiting. You are in your 2WW, waiting to hear the news about donors, waiting to find out if you can move forward with your cycle, if your eggs are viable, and the list goes on. While it is still completely unfair to have to wait for ANY of this, know that you are not alone. We are waiting together. Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 11.14.53 PM

Ps- I did stumble upon this fantastic designer who makes cards for women just like us! I wish everyone I knew has this on file because they are perfect. Check her out HERE.

-Annie

Chrissy Teigen is having a girl!

WHO THIS IS FOR:

  • Annoyed IVF patients
  • The general public

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Yesterday on Facebook my trending section notified me that Chrissy Teigen decided to have a girl through genetic testing. The internet exploded, minds were blown, people were pissed.

I am not a Chrissy Teigen fan, in fact all I know about her is that she is married to John Legend and dances awkwardly on that show where people lip sync. I do however know that she and John had to go through IVF. I don’t know why she went through IVF but the reason is irrelevant. She was poked and prodded. I also know that she is one of the few women in media who talk about it and thus I have a lot of respect for her.

I am grabbing my soap box and delivering a message. A message that needs to be said. To all of you who are outwardly judging her or quietly whispering, suck it. Yes, if you genetically test your embryos you are given the choice to select the gender. We were given that option and opted out because it would make it too emotional. Even though we opted out I say good for her.

When you pay thousands of dollars, put your body through war, you get the “option” to pick the gender. Im OH SO SORRY to everyone who was unable to pick the sex of their baby because they were  conceived without assistance. Cry me a river. You kept money in your pocket, took your condom off and had sex, tough times.

When you go through IVF or adoption for that matter, you give up and loose A LOT. You grieve the loss of your body’s ability to function. You grieve that you will never have a kid naturally. You grieve that you may never be pregnant and get the joy of carrying a baby inside of you. You grieve that the way you may become pregnant is by 5 people starring inside your vagina as they put an embryo or two or four in you, your insides hurt, and all you can do is hope you don’t pee on the doctor from your bladder being so full. You grieve the loss of having any sort of a normal sex life with your partner because for weeks on end you are not allowed to be touched.

Picking the gender of the baby is just a small, tiny, minuscule, consolation for the loss you deal with. If you think its weird, take your judgement elsewhere. You don’t have that choice because you don’t need to make that choice. (INSERT WHAT I WANT TO SAY HERE) Stop.

 

-Annie

 

 

A Best Friends Guide to IVF

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

  • Fertile friends of infertile gals/couples

I am not a leper but you wouldn’t know this based on people’s reactions. I get it, I am not the typical “idea” of an IVF patient (but who really is?). I don’t have friends going through IVF because I am one of the first in my group to try and have a baby. Despite the world around me that doesn’t know what to “do” with me, I have learned an awful lot about friendships throughout this process.

I have gained a crystal clear picture of who my friends are and why they are great friends. I had a deep fear that my sad, grumpy self would drive them away. That my inability to make plans would make them move on. However, my friends helped me realize that if they can’t handle my highs and lows, then they aren’t true friends.

I do understand that being in a friendship with someone going through IVF is hard if you don’t relate. Our brains are occupied about 90% of the time with IVF which can be annoying Im sure.

Here is what I know: We all go through shit. Friends don’t make your shit about them. They listen, they care, and they are honest. Laugh together and embrace the challenges together.

WAYS TO SHOW YOU CARE:

Be there for her

She is going to need someone to call and cry with, pick up the phone and take a dog walk.

I will never forget when I learned some horrible news and I called one of my best friends on the phone. She drove over immediately. We walked and I vented. I did not realize that throughout this walk I was cursing like a sailor. Children were within ear shot and I had no idea. After I was calm my dear friend said, “Ill never forget when we walked through the streets, you were cursing at the top of your lungs and children were fearful.” Fond memories 🙂

Check in on her

Ask your friend how she is and do not shy away from asking her how she feels emotionally (not just physically). Ask her how she wants to be approached about transfers, etc. She may not want someone asking constantly (even if it is coming from a good place) if she knows the results or how she is feeling.

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Laugh with her

Her brain is constantly thinking about IVF so a little laugh is a great distraction.

This past weekend one of my best friends took on the duty of giving me my shots while we were away at a conference. While in the Verizon Center  Saturday night, I needed my meds. Have no fear Steph was willing to give them to me anywhere, anytime. There I stood, skirt pulled down- shirt pulled up, in the middle of the bathroom when Steph administered a shot. Upon pulling the syringe out she hollered, “Don’t worry, its just HEROINE!” Folks sneered, we laughed. It was great.

Be flexible

She wants to go on a weekend trip with you or out to dinner, be flexible. Its tough being friends with smart ambitious people because they tend to be planners. While you still have the ability to plan, she doesn’t. Try to keep a few dates open and be okay with moving things around.

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Weekend getaway last May. My friends were super considerate of potential surgery dates.

 

POSTS TO COME:

How to tell her you are pregnant

 

-Annie

5 Ways to Support Your Partner During IVF

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

  • Couples going through IVF
  • Supportive partners

Going through infertility is a lonely experience no matter how great of a community you have. Across the board, the women I meet who are experiencing infertility all note the alienation they feel. In part I think the loneliness comes from the constant reminder of your circumstance because of the physical symptoms you endure. Going to the doctor on an almost daily basis also makes it nearly impossible to forget. You are semi present in conversations because there is always this constant nagging, a whisper that says, “Hey remember, there isn’t something right in your body.”

Its hard to say “I feel lonely” when you have an amazing supportive partner. Unfortunately you are the one experiencing the day-to-day and thus it makes it difficult to connect with your partner about the constant nagging that pervades your thoughts. Because my husband can’t feel what I am feeling we have had a lot of in-depth discussions about how he can be actively involved in the process.  He can’t get ultrasounds for me (wouldn’t that be nice!), he can’t have surgery for me, he can’t take shots for me, BUT he can walk alongside me and help out in little ways. Below are some ways for partners to help support you and take one more thing off of your docket.

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  1. MEDS!
  • Your partner can easily become your pharmacist. Have him or her keep tabs of what you have so you have one less thing to worry about. We use a tracker that comes in handy! We worked together to create it. While it wasn’t the most romantic evening activity it felt good to do it together.
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2. Handle the CIZZASH!
  • If you are coordinating insurance or payment plans, tell your sweetie pie/boo/pumpkin/cutey-patooty to take the reigns and make the calls. Who wants to deal with waiting on the phone?
3. Administer your shots!
  • Who wants to stab themselves?! Let him prep the meds and kindly give you the shots. Sharing this experience helps carve time to laugh and be silly.

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4. Weigh her after a retrieval.

You must be thinking, what the heck? If you over stimulate you have to weigh yourself everyday following a retrieval to ensure that fluid is not leaking into your body. One indicator is rapid weight gain. The fact of the matter is, after a retrieval (no matter who you are) you are going to be bloated and up a few pounds. BUT if you are over stimming you will experience this x10. Its not fun to get on a scale and see an extra 2-3 pounds (each day) for the days following surgery. Avoid the frustration and have him weigh you and record the info. If the doctor needs to be notified because of the number, ask for the info otherwise, who needs to know!

5. Be a good snuggle partner.

Meds slow me down. During the days leading up to a procedure all I want to do is curl into a ball on a couch like a big furry cat. More specifically, the thought of resting my head on my husband brings me great comfort. After surgery, continue the snuggling while binge watching tv shows. Make her protein smoothies (recommended by the doctor to keep you from bloating further) and be cute sloths together.

Although your partner will never fully understand all you are going through because they aren’t being pumped with hormones (which takes a toll on you physically and emotionally) they can provide you support and strength when you need it most. They can listen, encourage, and cry alongside you. 

To my beautiful and kind husband, thank you for always being there.

-Annie

 

The Pineapple Won’t Get You Pregnant.

WHO THIS IS FOR:

  • Women going through IVF (specifically transfers)
  • Partners who want to help their partner remember, they don’t have control in the sweetest kindest way.

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When you begin infertility treatments any sort of “planning” flies out the window. You become beholden to what your body feels like doing from day-to-day. Perhaps one day it doesn’t react to meds and the next, BOOM! Its all a crap shoot and because its all so uncertain you end up in the doctor’s office almost every day (prior to a retrieval). Traveling is out of the window because you have to worry about missing an appointment, something going wrong, giving yourself shots, feeling like shit, etc.

For go-getters like me, this was a very difficult pill to swallow. I LOVE planning. It gives me a road map to my goals, it provides me peace amongst the chaos. Because I had to kick this to the curb my first “round” (2 retrievals and 4 transfers) I focused on what I did think I could control, my body… specifically the food I ate. I read blog after blog about what to eat after a transfer. I learned Brazilian nuts and pineapples were the bees knees and the key to your infertility hopes and dreams. I ate the core of the pineapple and had 3 nuts a day each day during the 2WW.

The truth: it’s all bullshit.

I, like so many of you, wanted to hold onto something, anything…. but the truth of the matter is that piece of pineapple isn’t going to do the trick. The pineapple could help (who really knows) but its not going to be the ultimate decider. I realized then and now this wasnt going to be the case but when you are grasping for anything, you hope every little move you make adds up so that you see the outcomes you want. Ultimately there are so many different factors that go into a successful transfer and there isn’t much you can do (don’t get me started on the people who tell you to just “relax.”)

I bestow onto you the mantras you can use anytime to remind yourself that while you don’t have control you are doing the RIGHT thing.

MANTRAS TO HELP YA COPE WITH CONTROL
  • People who eat blue Doritos have kids.
  • People who do crack get pregnant (makes ya think twice about doubting your lack of kale consumption for the day).
  • People smoke cigarettes while pregnant (right? In this day and age?)
  • People who are malnourished give birth (keeps shit in perspective).
  • If it will ease your mind, DO IT**

*I am not saying don’t eat the pineapple. I am saying, don’t think even for a second that your choices are what caused a failed transfer. My lovely therapist reminded me, “if eating _____ will ease your mind do it, but don’t put all of your eggs in that basket” (paraphrase).

At the end of the day remember, you are one proactive bad ass who is doing EVERYTHING right. You can eat or leave the pineapple, either way you are doing the best you can and that’s all that really matters.

-Annie