Fertility Musings, Questions & Answers and News

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Do you love someone who is infertile?

If you do, Shari DeGraff Stewart and Julia Fichtner Krahm from the Stewart Institute have written an informative & helpful magazine-style book by that name, which provides insight into what infertility is really like for people who are experiencing it. When Julia first wrote me, I surfed on over to their site and thought, “I can’t wait to read this”. It’s a resource for which there is a real need – parents, friends, siblings & even husbands don’t always know what to do when they know someone who is going through infertility. Aware of this need, I asked my mom to cooperate with me and we co-wrote a page for parents on FertilityStories.

Do you Love someone who is Infertile ($12.95, currently available only in the US) presents real experiences, alongside practical advice for husbands, parents, siblings and friends. In addition, the design is fabulous – using photos, typography, layout, and graphical elements to make the book incredibly appealing. I picked up the book and my first thought was, “I love this!” – and reading it made me happy to see that people were writing the things that I’d felt, from both sides. You can see sample pages of the book here – and you can order the guidebook here.

Want a chance to get my review copy? Leave a comment on this blog post. Want another chance? Tweet about it & let me know. Want a third chance? Write a blog post or even just send people to this one. Good luck!

Drawing will be on Feb 11, 2010.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Infertility Jewelry

fertility-pendant

I recently came across LifeMedals, which was established by a woman who went through many years of infertility and many, many cycles of treatment. Her story is fascinating and I find that I really admire what she’s chosen to do with it – to create jewelry that reflects qualities necessary to get through really difficult times. The fertility hope medal (on the right) is one that I think so many women would love to have… I know I would. It also seems like a great gift for parents to give a daughter or daughter-in-law who is still trying to conceive.

Do you have a piece of jewelry that you connect with your infertility?

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I’m not affiliated with LifeMedals.com and do not receive commissions or any  benefit whatsoever for purchases of jewelry.

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Infertility at a time like this?

"Barren Karen" posted an interesting question that I've thought about myself numerous times. Although she didn't put it this way, this is what I see as the main issue: At what point do you stop being a member of the club, if ever?

Is it at all legitimate for a woman who's currently overdue with her 6th child to hang around infertility blogs as if she has something to contribute?

I spent years trying to get pregnant with Hadas. 8 months into my first marriage, 2 months before I turned 21, I went off the pill and hoped to become pregnant. My period was irregular, so the two-week-wait was often a 4-week-wait, ending always in the same disappointment. I was so convinced that everything was OK that it was only 14 months later that I made my first appointment. And then the tests began. And treatments. There was no internet, no support groups, and no one who really had any idea what I was going through. I went for IUI after IUI and then for IVF. And another IVF. On the 2nd IVF I got lucky. My beta was 2500 at 19dpt (that was the earliest they tested back then, because they gave hCG shots as late as day 8). One (much older) friend had told me that bleeding is common in IVF pregnancies. It didn't really help me not to freak out when I started gushing blood right around 6 weeks... but she was right, everything was OK & I carried Hadas to 42 weeks, when finally I was induced.

I was 24-1/2 when Hadas was born & my chances of getting pregnant hadn't changed. I didn't want her to be an only child and went through 2 more fresh & 1 frozen cycle (which took nearly 18 months) before I became pregnant again. Matan (b) and Lilach (g) were born just after my 27th birthday.

So, I was young and I had 2 healthy pregnancies and 3 healthy kids. How could infertility still possibly affect me?

Well, even with 3 kids in the house & even though their care fell almost entirely on me, from the time M&L were about 6 months old, I felt someone was still missing. The feeling was so strong that no matter what I did, I couldn't shake it. Some months I would fantasize that a miracle happened and that I'd be pregnant. I would try to calculate the odds again and again, but more than 60 cycles later, it still hadn't happened.

I did go back for another IVF cycle. I conceived on the first try, but had a really bad pregnancy that ended around 13 weeks. From the time I started TTC until that miscarriage, 12 years had passed. Twelve years of looking at other people and trying to convince myself that pregnancy-by-sex was not just a myth... years of knowing how fortunate I was to have had successes, but still feeling sad at the loss of a dream. At my inability to determine if/when I would have a child (or another child).

Does what happened after that erase the past? In some ways, it does. I look at pregnant women with a big smile on my face. Seeing mommies with little kids is the most natural thing in the world for me. Any jealousy that I had or difficulty going to birth parties (we don't have baby showers in Israel) is completely gone. I can even honestly say that after, with G-d's help, our baby is born healthy, my family will be complete, that I've 'done the pregnancy thing' and 'the breastfeeding thing' and the 'being a mommy to a baby' thing. I look at my kids and think how lucky they are to have each other and each one is an incredible blessing...

What will stay with me forever is the understanding of what it is like to go through infertility. The uncertainty, the fear of never succeeding, the frustration, the anger, the jealousy... I've also gained experience and knowledge during these years, so although my family may be almost* complete, I hope that I will be able to provide support and information for others who are still at the beginning, with the hopes that they will be writing a similar post someday. And, because I am free of any of the negative emotions that infertility carries with it, I have the luxury of always being purely happy to read other people's good news.

So, in answer to the question... you stay part of the club as long as you have something to contribute to the infertile community. I believe I still do.

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*BTW "any day now" is getting kind of old, since people have been telling me that since late January... Note that I'm actually getting FARTHER from my due date every day.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Yeah, that oughta help...

Here's one of those articles that I really hate... Although they do say some of the right things, like, "The worst thing you can tell a woman who's trying to get pregnant is that she just needs to relax," the overall message is that probably relaxation is a huge step in the right direction.

Can you see the steam coming out of my ears???

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Low, non-doubling betas suck

In my pre-infertile life, I used to think that once you had a positive pregnancy test, it meant you were pregnant. In the 17+ years since that time, I've learned that that's not always the case. Well, you are technically pregnant, but it doesn't necessarily mean you have any chance of getting a baby out of the whole deal.

I'm not talking about the cases in which you have good betas (say 150 on 14 dpo - days past ovulation), but rather the time when you get an iffy 24, when it should be well over 50. So - should you be happy? Is it time to announce it? Not really. The first thing that happens is that you're asked to repeat it 2 days later. And then what happens when you get a 32? It's going up, but it's not doubling. Another repeat... 2 days later. 59. Almost doubled, right? And it can go on and on. Sometimes it's just a 'chemical pregnancy' and sometimes it isn't, but the low, non-doubling beta is rarely a sign of a healthy pregnancy.

Back in November 2001, I had a pregnancy like this. 14dpt - days post transfer - I had 29. 2 days later, it was 34. Then it continued to almost double, to double, etc. And eventually, an embryo appeared on the ultrasound screen - exactly the size it should be, with a beating heart. It kept growing and slowly I started to think that I might end up with a baby after all. (Strangely, I never really looked at the other hormone tests I did, all of which had values that were not normal for pregnancy.) The pregnancy was a mess. I had a big hematoma (blood clot) in my uterus and had periodic bleeding, but the fetus continued to grow. Around 11 weeks, I had the nuchal translucency test & it was fine. About a week later, I was put on complete bed rest because of heavy bleeding that continued to get worse. The doctor said it was just the hematoma finally draining itself. He was wrong. I started to cramp badly and the pregnancy ended right around 13 weeks.

The signs had been there all along - the low beta, the non-doubling beta, bad hormone tests, heavy bleeding, the hematoma (which never got smaller than the fetus)... After all the bleeding and the uncertainty, I must admit that there was a sense of relief that it was finally over.

Frequently when I read other people's miscarriage stories I find myself forgetting that it ever even happened to me. The times when I do remember are actually when I read about the low, non-doubling betas. And then I feel like I don't know what to say. Should I tell the truth? Should I keep my fingers in mittens? Sometimes I want to say - just pray that if it's going to end, that it end quickly - that you don't have to go through 11 weeks of uncertainty & losing blood only to also lose the baby in the end...

Looking at the queries I get for FertilityStories, a lot of women are wondering what happens when the beta is low or doesn't double...

How low was the lowest beta with which you successfully went on to carry a baby? How many days past ovulation / transfer were you? If you ever had a low or non-doubling beta - what would you have wanted to be told?

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Secondary Infertility - Random Thoughts

I've received a few stories about secondary infertility lately and those and blog posts I've read have caused me to think a lot about when you can really feel that infertility no longer effects you - when you can be truly happy at a pregnancy announcement or walk through a store full of baby clothes and just think, "Who could I buy this outfit for?"

At first, I thought that you can 'put infertility behind you' when you've had the magic number of children for you (and, obviously, for each couple this is a different number). After my twins were born (children 2 & 3) I was constantly "missing" #4. I couldn't get that 4th child out of my head no matter how hard I tried. I was truly longing for that baby, very nearly as much as I had longed for my first. True that I knew that my greatest fear of NEVER having a child was no longer relevant, but it didn't make it any easier to want that child so desperately and not be able to have it. So was 4 my magic number? Because of the changes I made in my life (divorce, remarriage) I will never know.

My current thought is that you can 'put infertility behind you' if you fulfil your 'fertility dreams'. Mine were particularly tricky 1)to just 'find out' I was pregnant (no two week wait) and 2) to wheel one baby in a stroller while being very pregnant with another. I am definitely one of the lucky ones, because I got both my wishes. And, of course, it worked, all the things that used to be hard for me aren't any more. I thank God for this often, very often.

What are your 'fertility dreams' and do you think fulfilling them will allow you to put infertility behind you?

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