Enough mixed metaphors for you? It’s late-ish, I’m tired, that’s the best you’re getting.
Ok, yea, it’s not that late but I’ve got another 5am drive to Dr. Soulpatch staring me in the face tomorrow, so it might as well be 3am. The glamorous life of an infertile – nothing else like it! But before we address that drive, let’s take a moment to celebrate something (for once).
Today I reached my individual fundraising goal for the Walk of Hope. A goal I set five times higher than I did last year. An increase I initiated because last year I raised nearly eight times more than my 2012 goal. I’d like to say I’m proud of myself, I’m thrilled with these achievements, and I’m happy to see hard work pay off, but you know what? That’s casting the spotlight in the totally wrong direction. The curtain call is owed to the amazing women and men in my life – from my oldest high school friends to my IF gals in the computer to my husband’s astounding extended family – who demonstrated by putting pen to check (or, more appropriately, typing credit card number into secure site) that we most certainly aren’t on this journey alone. Taking a 1-mile stroll through a park with some of the bravest and strong women and men you’ll ever meet? That’s the easy part. Caring enough to read my story, to click my link, to acknowledge the validity of infertility as a worthwhile cause, and to help break the silence of infertility? That’s truly amazing.
Meeting the goal has caused a certain thread of thought to start running through my brain. I find myself reevaluating years of deep-seated feelings of isolation and loneliness. No, I don’t think those two emotions will ever be removed from the infertile’s playlist, but two consecutive years of fundraising for this event has got me thinking of how the actions of today might help future generations of infertile women and men mitigate those very real feelings. The loneliness, the “otherness,” of infertility is at its apex in my life whenever I am reminded of the blissful ignorance of the fertile masses. Nothing makes me feel more alone than when I hear women meticulously plan their pregnancies (“Not to close to Christmas or to baby #1’s birthday!”), when the cashier at the grocery store nonchalantly asks if I have children when she spies chicken nuggets in my cart (“Nope, no kids, I just feel like eating like one while I wait out this 2-week Lupron headache”), or when the you-should-know-better nurse at my endocrinologist’s office tells me she has terrible Hashi’s and it never stopped her from having kids and would I like one of hers (“Well isn’t that amazing… for you”). I’m sure if you polled a hundred infertile women and asked them about their hardest moments the vast majority of them would stem from interactions they’ve had with others.
And these others aren’t all hypercompetitive bitches either. They’re often well-meaning grandmothers, small-talking strangers, and otherwise supportive fixtures in your life. What they all have in common is what we as a society largely have in common – they aren’t conditioned to anticipate infertility and they aren’t equipped to address it when it’s present. The result is a total blindspot toward the 1 in 8 (and growing) couples in this country for whom our preconceived notions are most certainly not the norm. Today, it is rare to find someone who truly appreciates the potential heartache of a question like, “When will you have children?” unless they have lived/are living infertility. I still cringe thinking of all the times I asked that totally normal, socially acceptable question of the women in my life before my diagnosis. After 3.5 years of infertility and repeat loss I view this question as as acceptable as asking one’s weight, or, better yet, a man’s dick size. Bonus points for doing it in front of grandma. Truth is, that’s a highly personal question that can be so very loaded. I’ve certainly never been at the front of the line in support of political correctness, but knowing the statistics I know now and experiencing the traumas I have to date, I can’t believe this is a question we still ask unprompted in the lightest of social settings. And we don’t even have to get into the whole “infertility thing” here either. With upwards of 25% of all pregnancies ending in miscarriage according to some studies and with the miscarriage rate higher for first pregnancies, it’s very possible that when you asked recently married cousin Sally at last weekend’s family reunion about her family building plans that she may have just had (or is having) a miscarriage. Just hold back and wait for Sally to bring it up, K?
It often doesn’t get better when/if these questions are answered with honesty (whether on the first or five hundredth time you’ve asked them). Whether the answer is a subtle “We’re trying,” or my typically blunt, “Well, in 3 years I’ve ovulated six times, been pregnant 3, and have 0 live births, pass the gin!” publicly acknowledging infertility comes with its own landmines. So far on this blog I’ve avoided discussions of the typical things the misinformed masses say – the “Just adopts”, the “Go on vacation,” the “Stop stressing,” and the, “I knew a woman who…” stories – because they are so common they’re comical. And, most other IF blogs and resources have covered them ad nauseam already. But, these common reactions to IF further demonstrate how out of touch most of this country is with the realities of human reproduction. As I touched on yesterday, by the time we are grown most of us have some semblance of what to say and how to act when a loved one experiences a loss. Sure, things may not always go smoothly, but most folks generally learn to, you know, not tell the cancer patient “At least you won’t have trouble losing weight with how much that chemo is making you throw up!” Trivializing and diminishing the pain of infertility is a lot easier, though, because most of us aren’t equipped with the words we should say to our infertile loved ones are experiencing emotions far outside our comprehension. (If you want a great resource check out Resolve’s Infertility Etiquette guide!)
Ultimately, this gets me back to what my fundraising success has me pondering. No, raising money for Resolve will never take away the loneliness or isolation of infertility, but I do truly believe that the act of raising this money and the grassroots advocacy and outreach work that it will allow Resolve to do will help to minimize the external factors that directly contribute to those feelings. I notice it in many of my friends and family already. The act of contributing to an organization like Resolve and the experience of having a friend or family member open up about infertility goes a long way toward validating infertility as a cause and a disease akin to so many others of which we are much more familiar.
According to the Lupus Foundation of America, 1.5 million Americans have Lupus, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society reports that just over 47,000 Americans were diagnosed with leukemia last year, and the CDC lists the current HIV infection rate in the United States at approximately 1.1 million. Add all three of those figures together, then add another 4.3 million Americans, and you are about at the current estimated number of women and men – 7 million – experiencing infertility in this country. Given my recent Lupus scare, my aunt’s leukemia, and my college HIV/AIDS awareness group presidency I don’t remotely intend to compare the severity of these conditions to infertility, but the numbers are illustrative. I’ve walked in AIDS walks, I’ve supported my aunt’s participation in multiple leukemia walks, and 50 Walks to End Lupus are being held from Oregon to Florida this calendar year. Did you even know there was a walk in support of infertility awareness? Did you before you or someone you know was diagnosed as infertile?
Now it is officially way past my bedtime but to part deux of my metaphor. Tomorrow I get my third and, hopefully, last probing of the week. Ideally I should get the green light to trigger (aka administer a shot of the pregnancy hormone HCG to initiate ovulation) and then it’s off to the races (well, off to the bedroom). Trigger, ovulate 24-48 hours later, go at it like bunnies, begin different injections (PIO, Lovenox, and HCG boosters), and wait. Oh, and wait a long time because those pesky boosters are surely gonna screw things up. That’s the plan at least.
But, as the now-snoring Mr. But IF asked as he drifted off to dreamland, “What could happen tomorrow and on a scale of 1-10 how bad or good would those possibilities be?” He’s an optimist that one. Trained by the very best of course. His ever hopeful (har, har!) wife. The options are too many to recount, but in 100 words or less.
- Follicles could have stopped growing or substantially slowed again meaning we’re delayed. Sadly, the thing I’m probably more worried about is not the delay but the fact that I’d have to break into another 900IU pen of Gonal to keep stimming.
- Too many follicles may have taken off. I had 8 measurable (>10mm) with 2 nice lead (aka bigger than the rest at 15mm and 14mm) follicles on Wednesday. If any of those 6 felt like catching up to thing 1 and thing 2 I’ll freak a little. I’m not even cool with the idea of going at it with two follicles and risking twins, but more? Ugh, when do you call it quits and regroup for the next round?
- My lining (nice and thick at 9mm on Wednesday) could have thinned out. Unlikely, but with two Clomid miscarriages under my belt and having never had a nice lining before I’m gun-shy.
Now off to prepare for the excitement of tomorrow with my all-too-typical 5 hours of sleep. TGIF, Mr. Wandy, TGIF!