When You Think Life Will Progress One Way....

And Then Life Happens.....

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Parents joking about giving their kids away? RANT!!!!!

Ok, so I have to rant about this...

Today on Facebook (I am an addict, and not seeking recovery at the moment) a friend of mine posted this status update - 
"is giving away an almost-4-year-old boy. Delivery available. Special consideration for anyone interested in a slightly older model as well, taken as a pair. Serious inquiries only please, references not required."

I have to say, this infuriated me when I first saw it! Why do parents think it is ok to joke about giving their kids away? Don't they realize the gift they have, and that those of us with infertility would give anything to be in their shoes? Why do parents think it is ok to joke like this? How many of you have had parents casually say/ask they'll give you their kids, without realizing the pain they are causing? By the way, this person has 4 children all under the age of 6.

Maybe I am overly sensitive. Sure, parents have the right to kvetch about their kids. But joking about giving them away shouldn't be ok, especially when there are so many people who want to be parents and can't.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

ICLWs: bear with me!

HI ICLWs, thanks for coming to my blog; I just started this last month, and this is my first month to participate with ICLW. Please enjoy reading my posts thus far (since I am a newbie, there are not too many to read yet)!

I do have a few questions, though:

  • How often do you blog? daily? weekly? monthly? whenever you feel like it, even if it means 5 posts one day and then silence for 3 weeks? Do you have a set schedule?
  • So far, I have had 10 replies to my previous most recent post. I noticed that someone posted a question to me. How do I reply to it? Just add a comment? Go to the person's blog and comment there? Try to comment directly under the question rather than after the last posted comment? Long term bloggers, I am asking you! (I used to have a different blog, but it was a different platform and comments were limited). 
Anyway, thanks for being here, and I am looking forward to meeting everyone! 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Babies the documentary... some may call it adorable; I call it torture (I just saw it)

Ok, so I am sitting here for lunch, actually feeling anxious and panicky. Why you ask? Because in an hour and a half I am planning to see the documentary film "Babies"; the film that follows four newborns from different places in the world during their first year of life. Why in the world would someone struggling with infertility and childfree by circumstance subject themselves to this torture? Because that is what it will be. Torture. Plain and simple agony.

(And before I forget, DH called me today because someone brought their 2 year old to the office today. He was upset, and I so hate that this is because of ME. We have this THING - infertility - in our lives because of me. I hate knowing that he is missing so much, now and in the future, because of what I can't give him.)

I am watching the movie because, as a child development specialist, I find the movie professionally interesting. Personally, I think it will feel as if every tooth will be pulled out without Novocain, and then hot sauce forced down my throat. I see this also as a test - can I look beyond my pain to see this professionally? Can I continue in my current career in some way? Will I need to change my focus, or will I have to do something completely different? Can I divorce myself and work in the educational field, knowing I will never have children myself? So, this is my first real test. Here goes; a mid-day matinee and I can leave if it gets too hard.


I survived the movie, and managed to wait until the very end when I then went to the restroom to breakdown. Though, as I write this, I'm trying hard not to cry as I sit outside in a public plaza.

From a professional perspective, the movie was very interesting to me. My background is child development and early childhood, and international education. It was interesting to watch the progression of developmental milestones and parent-child interactions from a cultural, sociological perspective....

But I digress. It was so painful watching the women pregnant in the beginning; I felt ill with jealousy watching those that breastfed. I will admit, I had moments of 'childfree, yes!' when watching babies bawling inconsolably. But what hit me the most, and what tears me up inside, was watching the daily and monthly progression of development and growth. If I do go back to the child development field, I will have the opportunity, at most, to impact many lives but in a very isolated way. I will have at most snapshots of shared experiences from people's life albums. I will miss life's milestones, both large and small, since I will have noone progressing through them to celebrate with (and yes, I am intentionally not including the milestones DH and I can have the two of us, since this is different). I am terrified of the future. I feel empty. Not only because I feel I am missing something, but because I feel a part of me is dead.

As I am writing this sittting outside in this plaza, I see families all around me. Babies in strollers, toddlers playing, families eating together, and I feel like I am outside looking in. I will never belong. As their children get older, and as they mark different things in their lives, I will always be on the outside.  And I don't think I will ever be ok with this.

Time to go home, I think DH and I will need some serious bonding tonight. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Any blood left?

It is recommended that women with POF use HRT - hormone replacement therapy -  as a way to replace the hormones we are missing (estrogen for, among other things, bone health; progesterone to have a monthly bleed for, among other things, uterine health). I was placed on an estrogen patch and oral progesterone, but after 7 months we (me, DH, my therapist) finally realized that the form of progesterone I was on was actually causing my depression to get worse. I realized this because my anti-depressants were finally working but there seemed to be a cycle - 2 weeks I was fine, 2 weeks (when taking progesterone) I felt like I was going out of my mind, 2 weeks fine, and so on.... I felt like I was Jekyll and Hyde! My endo switched my progesterone which helped. However, at my follow-up appointment to make sure this other med was working, my endo was concerned with consistently high estrogen and white cell count.

Thus marked the beginning of 2 months of hell. I went of my HRT for 6 weeks of weekly blood work. Every single POF symptom came back in force, and I swear the only way I kept my sanity was from my anti-depressant. I cried more in front of my DH, the saint, during these 6 weeks than during the 15 years previous we have known each other (DH actually liked seeing me like that, he said it gave him a chance to be the strong one!). The results? Well, my hormones were still doing funky things, but my white cell count continued to stay high.  I was referred to hematology, which at first wanted to do a bone marrow biopsy (freak out!!!!!), but luckily they decided on *more* blood work.

The outcome? Well, blood work is done. I have been back on my HRT for 3 weeks now and am starting to feel normal again (whatever that means). I just heard from my endo that she has the results from hematology - genetic testing was negative, which means no cancer concern (yeah!), and no auto-immune or inflammatory issues (yeah!) either. I need to have my white blood count checked every 6 months to monitor it. So, good news that nothing else is going on; I just might have high white cell count, and it could mean that that is just my normal. Who knows - I always knew I was abnormal.

I am just glad the waiting for test results is over; nerve racking! And, I'm sooo glad to have my estrogen patch back; I felt like a nicotine addict just given a box of nicotine patches - I wanted to plaster them all over my body!  

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Just had a job interview

As I mentioned in a previous post, during the past few years I have been consulting. I had left my full time job as a child development specialist with an Early Head Start program after I learned of my infertility and it just became too hard working with the families and kids. Since I also have a background in training and international education, my consulting focused on evaluating education development projects.

My last contract finished last year, and while I have been contract searching, I have also been evaluating my career options. Do I want to continue consulting? Do I want a full time job? Consulting provides flexibility, I'm my own boss, I get to travel..... but it is so stressful in between contracts. Full time provides stability, and an opportunity to really sink my teeth into projects longer-term..... but I am concerned I'll get bored with the 9-5 routine. Consulting - my contracts have included travel from 5 weeks - 3.5 months away from home at a time, but if my DH and I are thinking about being a family of two, does it make sense being apart for so long? Full time - I am scared about the office politics and socializations; I am terrified of having to see a pregnant coworker day after day after day, listening to her kvetch about her pregnancy woes (I'll trade with you!!!!), and listening to parents talking about their kids..... I don't know if I am strong enough yet to handle it.

As you can see, I am so confused. I continue to apply to both consulting and full time opportunities, and today I had an interview for a full time job. It sounds really interesting, and I would leave consulting if I was offered this position.... but, the though of being in an office environment is nerve racking! Plus, this would be with a very large organization focusing on training and advocacy issues - around young children! I love the organization, but being in such a child-focused, child-friendly environment, can I do that to myself? Am I strong enough to do that? It would give me a chance to continue working in the field of education....

All I can do is wait and see, and continue applying.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The History of Me

So you may ask, "how did I get here?" (cue Talking Heads music). It has been a long road. I think to understand me, you have to understand the health (physical, mental, emotional) journey I have been on. Let me start in 2005 (don't worry, I have a magic time machine that let's me travel back and forth between past and present day, though I haven't quite figured out the future part yet).
It was 2005, and I was 33/34. My husband and I had been using the Pill as birth control for almost 8 years, and we decided to start a family. Prior to that, it never seemed right; just after we first married we spent 27 months serving as Peace Corps volunteers. When we returned home, I went to grad school and DH found a job. After grad school, I worked some, spent 4 months overseas consulting, then came home and worked to pay off my student loans and help towards a mortgage. We bought a house in 2005, and we were ready to start a family. When I stopped the Pill, I didn't get my cycle for more than 4 months - but I didn't think anything of it, I figured my body was readjusting after the Pill, and truth be told I had always been irregular - this was normal for me (so I thought).  Otherwise, I felt great; I and also started using herbal supplements and felt very energetic.  Then in 2006 and 2007 I went each year going 4 months without my cycle. Both times I could have sworn I was pregnant, but doctors kept telling me I wasn't - and peeing on those damn sticks every week, for months straight... you can imagine how insane that could make you.
During those 2 years I felt my health was deteriorating, and at first I was diagnosed with PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome) and was treated as such.  By the summer of 2007, though, my blood work labs indicated something else. I will never forget the call; I was in the hotel lobby where I was attending a professional conference when my Obgyn told me over the phone she suspected I had premature ovarian failure/primary ovarian insufficiency (POF/POI), aka premature menopause, and I should see a reproductive endocrinologist (RE). I was in shock; I was in public; I was at a professional conference with a new coworker who saw my face start to crumble and made the mistake of asking me if I was OK. Needless to say, and embarrassingly so, I bawled all over this girl who I had known for maybe a month? (I think she learned her lesson never to ask again).
When I went to the RE, she didn’t even bother to examine me or do any tests; she looked at my obgyn’s notes and blood work results, she told me I had POF, I had 1%-2% chance of getting pregnant, gave me information on egg donation (the only way I could "really" get pregnant), gave me HRT (hormone replacement therapy), and that was it. The only follow-up I ever got was when I called them to get refills on my HRT. It was an awful experience, and I was made to feel that all she cared about was that I was a prospective cash cow/guinea pig if I signed up to do egg donation. No emotional, mental, physical support. I felt like I was drowning, and didn’t know where to turn. I was also working at a local social service agency at the time, providing training/staff development as a child development specialist for a program working with at-risk families. So, not only had I received news that altered every aspect of my life, I was working in an environment where I had to support teachers and parent educators on how to support parents with the development of their infants/young children. I couldn’t do it anymore.
So, what did I do? When one is threatened there are 2 main common reactions - fight or flight. I flew. Literally. I quit my job. I went into consulting, and worked on short-term international projects. I got to travel in a way I never could have if I had kids. My travels also gave me the opportunity to run from serious conversations, conversations with my husband, with myself. I finally found amazing medical professionals who cared about ME (not how much they could make off treatments), and worked with me to identify the appropriate medications I needed as well as diagnosing me with severe depression. I was numb and depressed for 2 years; now I feel like I have woken up, but now I am angry and raw.  
So where does that leave me now? Finally facing my inner demons, and trying to sort out my feelings. After consulting for 3 years, I am looking for my next contract, yet I am also now in a position of redefining what I want to do – continue consulting? Look for a full-time job that keeps me home with my DH? I will write more about my professional dilemma in a later blog.
For now, though, you know a little bit more about me. This is not a medical blog, so I don’t feel the need to discuss my POF in greater detail, but if you have any questions please let me know and I will address as many questions/comments as I can. I will say there is only about an 8% chance of us becoming spontaneously pregnant, so the only ways we could realistically have children is through adoption or donor egg – neither of which are options (I will probably write about this in a later post, as well).
Please bear with me; I feel like I have so much to write about, but don't know where to start or how to organize my topics. I did warn you in my first post that I am very stream-of-consciousness! 

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Birth of This Blog

As I think about what to write, where to start, how to begin this blog, I figure I should share what made me want to start this blog in the first place; another post will address what I have gone through thus far. Last week, April 24th - May 1st, was National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW).  RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association (www.resolve.org) used the week to advocate and educate for infertility awareness through Project IF. Project IF, in conjunction with “Stirrup Queens” (blogger) asked those with infertility to state their biggest “what ifs” regarding their own infertility on her blog.  For Part 1 of the project, she collected replies on this page: http://www.stirrup-queens.com/2010/04/bloggers-unite-project-if/ . I was so inspired by reading what other women wrote, that I decided to add my own “what if”; my comments are #302. (Since I am late to the party, I will participate in part 2 of the project, http://www.stirrup-queens.com/2010/04/bloggers-unite-project-if-part-two/, in a later blog post).

Seeing so many women post and learning that there were so many women out there blogging and willing to talk about themselves that I decided to do my own form of advocacy. I outed myself as an infertile woman on Facebook. I had posted a few things here and there on FB in the past that I am sure those who were aware enough and paying attention to my posts/notes/status updates could have noticed, and my closest friends knew what I was going through. But during NIAW I decided to challenge myself and posted something every day – a status update, and a link to something (article, someone’s blog entry, video) related to infertility.

I made a few discoveries that week:
  1. The act of researching blogs, etc helped me see that I am not alone. 
  2. The comments I got from my posts – from close friends, acquaintances, former school friends I have since reconnected with, and people I have only “met” in cyberspace – were all supportive and uplifting. 
  3.  I found the process of thinking what to write each day helped me sort through the noise in my head.

At the end of NIAW, I had a few friends ask me if I had ever thought of blogging – and the more I thought about it, the more it started to make sense. You see, if you are reading this, you may think that my blog entries are for you, to give you something to read. In honesty, this blog is for me, very selfishly, so I can hopefully sort through the noise in my head and clear it out so maybe I can start thinking of other things. You are along for the ride. I hope you enjoy the ride, and feel free to ask me any questions – I will try to address them in future posts.

What is my goal for this blog? Maybe I can help other women in my situation. Maybe, hopefully, I can help myself.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

I Decided

Ok, as you can see, I decided on my new blog title. It says so much..... empowering yet allowing for my personal struggles, it sums up my confusion. 

As a friend said when I showed her my blog title choices, "It covers your journey with POF but leaves it open for other topics as well as you see to write them. It is also somehow empowering - as in I am woman hear me roar. Allows you the place to be yourself on all of the important issues in your life as a woman."

So, you will hear me sometimes roar.... sometimes squeak...... but always trying to figure out what I am, where I am, and where I'm going. 

New Blog Title?

Ok, so as I ponder how to start this blog and what I want to write, I realize that the title I chose - Empty Arms Full Heart - well, I don't like it too much. So, my first task is to find a new name (and new url) for this.

My runner ups so far:

  • POF, HRT and Me
  • Empty dreams, new beginnings
  • So, you think you can procreate?
  • Who am I….Again?????
  • Reinventing myself…. Again???
  • I am woman….. right?
Ok, I'm off to meditate (ok, not meditate, but get myself some iced tea) and think over my new title.....