Showing posts with label Family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Family. Show all posts

July 19, 2011

Living with Infertility: Take Two

Sometimes it's hard to believe I've been living with infertility for over two years. The anniversary date of my diagnosis holds some prominence for me each year; it's the rest of the days in between that feel like a blur, emotions from either of the extreme ends of joy and sadness coloring each day a different shade on this spectrum of coping.

As we inch closer to the next steps in our journey, I find myself looking back at some of my first posts, looking to see the ways in which I've grown and changed in these last two years.

I was drawn to this post: Things I Wish I Could Tell People About Grieving My Infertility, first posted in April 2009. I had reposted this list from World of Winks, a former ALI blogger and now special-needs parent. I had written this post just a few weeks after I was diagnosed.

I had posted 10 items from her list and added my own commentary of where I was at that emotional stage as a newly diagnosed infertility patient. I think it's time I circle the wagons back and take a second go at it, this time making it more of my own in the process.

Instead of just wishing I could tell people about just my grieving process this time, now I'm simply just going to tell people what my experience is like with just over 2 years under my belt. Rather than just a broad, generalized list of things, this is now very personal to where I am at this moment in our journey.

Things I Want You to Know About How I Live with Infertility
(version 2.0)

1. You can talk to me about my infertility and how I'm doing. It doesn't matter whether you're a friend, family member, new reader or random internet stranger - stop by, introduce yourself, say hello. Ask me your questions. Understand that I have a right to bristle if your questions or comments are insensitive but I'll do my best to tell you why they might have been inadvertently hurtful.

2. Infertility is now a major part of who I am, but I am not defined by my infertility. I recognize that I live with infertility like any other disease. I'm on hormonal treatment for the lasting health effects of POI and plan to seek treatment to address the fertility effects. I seek fulfillment in my life through a variety of other avenues: volunteering with RESOLVE, writing, the Red Tent Temple, fishing, and a host of other hobbies and interests. In all these things, I am just as much infertile as I am woman, wife, sister, daughter, etc.

3. I'm still grieving. I may not be overt; just because I'm not having daily crying jags doesn't mean that I'm not sad about being infertile sometimes. As I've mentioned in previous posts, getting ready to begin the donor egg process has stirred up some emotions I thought I had put to rest but haven't. Coping with loss is a recurrent emotional process in the infertility experience.

4. Pregnancy and birth announcements are still painful, but not in a lingering, crippling way anymore. I still cry when I get the news that so-and-so is pregnant or that so-and-so just gave birth. I am of course joyful but also insanely - but instantly - jealous. The weight doesn't last for days now; it's a momentary near-Pavlovian response. I cry for a minute or two, I wipe my tears, and I share my congratulations. That said, if you can tell me in an email or leave me a voicemail, I find it better to cope and process later.

5. Just because I talk about infertility all the time, I'm not contagious, I'm not bad luck, and I'm not a downer. I'm just infertile. Has infertility opened my eyes to a level of skepticism and pragmatism I've never encountered before? Absolutely. But just because I "like" (relative term here) to talk about infertility, I'm trying to give voice to a rather silenced disease. Raising awareness about infertility helps me to cope and heal because I know that I'm helping others cope and heal in the process. Ironically enough, it has been that through this experience I have found my life's work.

Homework assignment time.

Head back to some of your first posts on your blog. If you blog about infertility, what stuck out for you? What did you find yourself writing about the most? What's changed since then and how have you grown? Share an old post that's stuck out for you in the comments below and tell us why it resonates with you now.

June 25, 2011

Happy Birthday to My Favorite Niece

Of course, you're my only niece... but still. Uncle Larry and I are so excited to see you grow from the tiny baby we saw on the day you were born into a lovely young woman. I can't believe it's been a year since you were born. I'll see you in just a few hours, but while I'm on the road, I want to share my birthday wishes for you with the whole wide world.

Happy First Birthday Willow!

It's amazing to believe one year ago today you were just a tiny little baby, all swaddled up...



Now look at you:


How absolutely beautiful. Your Mom & Dad make adorable-lookin' babies. 

Watch out boys: we got ourselves a heartbreaker here.

Happiest of many more birthdays to come, Little One!

June 8, 2011

Mommy's Garden

A colleague of mine, a parent through adoption, shared a beautiful story of a friend of hers who decided to tell their child they were conceived using donor gametes. I want to share this with you for two reasons: 1) it's such an original way of disclosing to children about their donor origins and 2) I want to save it somewhere for posterity so that someday I can pull this up and reference it when Larry and I blessed enough to have to tell our own children their origin story.

My friend told me this story a while ago, so my memory is hazy on the details. The main points have stuck with me though, so I'm retelling it now as a short work of creative non-fiction. Names are totally made up; I never knew the names of the folks in the original story as it was told to me.


Mommy's Garden

Photo by Stacie via Flickr.

Rose knew it was time to start telling her young daughter about from where she came and the story of her conception. Rose's daughter, Juniper, was a bright-eyed chatty 4-year-old, curious about the world around her. Juniper wasn't like most other 4-year-olds her age; Juniper was conceived with the help of donor egg. Rose and her husband Sam had struggled for years with infertility; their daughter was their little IVF miracle, with the help of an egg donor. Rose wanted to open the door gently to this deep idea with her daughter, so she decided to tell her about Mommy's Garden.

"Juniper, would you like to plant a garden with Mommy?" Rose asked her daughter one warm spring afternoon.

"Sure!" Juniper replied, her eyes lighting up with excitement. She followed her mother into the kitchen.

Sitting on the table was an empty egg carton, a small pot of soil, a spoon, a cup of water, and a small seed packet. Juniper ran up to the table, her fingers pressed on the edge as she stood on tiptoes to see. "We're going to plant a garden in the kitchen?" she asked, incredulously.

Rose sat down and picked up her daughter, holding her in her lap. "Yup, in fact we're going to plant a whole tiny garden in this egg carton!" She reached for the seeds and handed the packet to Juniper. "If we're going to make a garden, we're going to need some seeds."

"What are seeds?" Juniper asked, examining the picture on the seed packet.

"Seeds are very special," Rose said. "They're like little eggs, but instead of hatching a chicken, they'll grow into plants. These are flower seeds." Rose took the packet and opened it, spilling a few seeds into Juniper's outstretched hand.

Juniper looked down at her hand and then back at her mother with astonishment. "There are flowers inside these?"

Rose smiled at her daughter's inquisitiveness. "Inside everyone one of those little tiny seeds is a beautiful flower. The seed is like a special shell, like an eggshell even. If they're going to grow into big flowers, we'll have to take care of them just right. They need food from the soil and plenty of water to make them grow. Oh, and sunlight; flowers need a little sun too."

"Won't they get a sunburn?" Juniper asked, a note of concern in her voice.

Rose chuckled. "No, they won't get a sunburn but you don't want to give them too much sun. It's a balancing act of making sure they have enough to eat and drink. Let's start by feeding our little seeds." She reached for the empty carton and soil and handed Juniper the spoon.

Juniper began delicately spooning the soil into each cup in the carton. While Juniper was diligently filling each cup, Rose began speaking, softly and gently, almost as if wondering aloud:

"Do you remember how I said the seeds are like little eggs?"

"Mmhm," Juniper nodded.

"Well, you came from a little egg too. Mommies have little eggs inside them and then Daddies have to take special care of them so those little eggs can grow into little girls and boys."

"Mmhm," Juniper said again, distractedly. She began pushing her fingers into the soil, making little divots. Rose began placing seeds one by one in the soil, Juniper quick the cover them with the soil.

"These seeds look thirsty. Let's give them just a little sip of water," Rose said, reaching for the cup. Juniper began gingerly spooning the water over the soil. They were making a delightful mess on the kitchen table.

"Now what?" Juniper said, looking up at her mother with a big smile.

"Now we wait," Rose said as she wrapped up her daughter in a big hug. She placed the egg carton on the windowsill over the kitchen sink.


. . .

Rose checked one more time to make sure Juniper was asleep for her nap. She slept curled up in a tight ball, her breaths slow and even. "Out like a light," she thought.

She walked into the kitchen and took the egg carton from the windowsill. The soil still damp, Rose dug her fingers into one of the small seedling cups. She fished around in the soil, her fingers pinching on the newly planted seed. Still pinching the seed between her fingers, she turned on the tap and rinsed the soil from her hand. With a plink, she dropped the seed down the garbage disposal and placed the carton back on the sill.

. . .

The seeds had begun to sprout in just a few days, Juniper dutifully asking her mother if it was okay to give them something to drink nearly every few hours it seemed. Rose was grateful once they began sprouting that they hadn't drowned them.

On this afternoon, Juniper asked to water the seedlings yet again. When she brought the egg carton to the table, Juniper frowned. "Mommy, I think that seed is broken," she said, pointing to the lone still-barren seedling cup.

Rose felt her breathing quicken and a clenching in her throat. "It's now or never," she thought to herself.

"Huh, look at that. I wonder what happened?" she said calmly, trying not to betray her nervousness.

"Maybe it got sunburned," Juniper said sadly.

"Don't be sad, honey," Rose said reassuringly. "Sometimes seeds don't grow. We can get a new seed though and plant that one instead."

"Okay!" Juniper said cheerfully.

Rose wento to the counter and picked up another packet of seeds. "We don't have any more of the old seeds left from when we planted them. But we have a new packet. And these seeds are special - a very kind woman gave me this packet of seeds."

"A farmer?" Juniper quizzed. "I can't believe how bright she is sometimes," Rose thought. "No, not a farmer. Just a very nice lady who let me have her packet of seeds." She handed the packet to her daughter. Juniper turned the packet over and over in her little hands, studying it carefully.

"That was nice of her," she said.

Rose could feel the air catch in her throat. "Yes, it was very nice of her."

As Juniper began making room for the new seed, Rose began speaking in that same soft voice as before.

"Remember how I said that Mommies have special seeds like little eggs too?"

"Yeah."

"Well, Mommy didn't have very good eggs. And your Daddy took very good care of them but they just wouldn't grow or hatch or become little boys or girls." She paused. Juniper was gently patting the soil with her fingers, listening intently.

"So a very nice lady gave Mommy some of her eggs," she continued, feeling the tears brim at the corners of her eyes. "This very nice lady gave your Mommy some eggs so you could hatch into a beautiful little girl." she paused when Juniper didn't respond. "Do you understand?"

Juniper's brow furrowed, the wheels spinning in her young brain, putting the pieces together. "I think so. I came from a very nice lady's eggs?"

Rose nodded and smiled, unable to speak as she tried to regain composure.

"Did I live in your tummy?"

"You sure did!" Rose said finally, chuckling. "You wouldn't hold still for a second. Mommy barely got to sleep while we waited for you to come out. But you understand that you didn't come from Mommy's eggs, right?"

"Yeah," she said quietly, the notion still clearly processing. "She must have been a really nice lady to give you her eggs. I'm glad she was so nice to you."

Rose scooped her daughter up into a tight hug, the tears flowing freely as she stroked Juniper's head. "She was a very nice lady and it was a really nice thing that she did."

Juniper wriggled back, puzzled by her mother's tears. "Mommy, why are you sad?"

Rose smiled. "I'm not sad honey. Sometimes Mommy cries happy tears. I'm just so happy to have you as my little flower."

Rose hugged her daughter again, tighter this time, knowing there would be many questions in the days and weeks and years to come... but that it was going to be alright.

May 15, 2011

Senator Gillibrand introduces the Family Act of 2011: An Infertility Tax Credit Bill

Photo by Keiko Zoll, from Advocacy Day.
Exciting news folks: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has officially introduced the Family Act into the Senate (S. 965). The Family Act is a bill that creates a tax credit to reimburse individuals for out of pocket expenses for infertility treatment. While the text of the bill has not yet been released (it should be in the next day or two), it is anticipated that the tax credit will provide a lifetime cap of just over $13,000, renewable up to 5 years, and on a 50/50 cost share between taxpayer and government. The Family Act has been modeled after the very successul federal Adoption Tax Credit.

Here's where your help is vital: we need Senate co-sponsors like whoa. RESOLVE has set up a very easy form for you to contact your Senators right at their website. Send an email to your Senators encouraging them to co-sponsor the Family Act here.

Additionally, if we really want to gain traction on Capitol Hill, we also need a House version of this the Family Act. Please consider contacting your Representatives encouraging them to originate the bill on the House side of Congress. Look up your representatives' contact information here. I've drafted a sample letter to your representatives here, so you can copy, paste, and fill in your appropriate information and send it off to your legislators with ease.

I've already reached out to my Congressman, Representative John Tierney. I sent him a follow up email from Advocacy Day today and then posted a comment asking for his support on his Facebook page - he actually responded to my comment, having read my email! Feel free to get creative and check to see if your Senators and Congressfolk are using social media. I would email them first, then follow up on their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts - it can't hurt!

For more information:
  1. Here's a general overview of the Family Act.
  2. Here's a detailed FAQ about the Family Act. 
  3. The Family Act has been endorsed by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.
  4. Make sure to Like EMD Serono's Family Act page on Facebook.
  5. And don't forget to write your Senators!

May 6, 2011

Remember Us on Sunday

Driving in to work this morning, I was listening to one of my favorite public radio stations. For weeks they've been promoting buying flowers for Mothers' Day to help support the radio station; a portion of the costs go directly to fundraising.

I'm not sure what it was this morning, but as I listened to my favorite local radio hosts hawk their fundraising flowers, I had to switch the station over to another. They went on and on about mothers and how children should honor the mothers in their lives. I don't disagree - I'm blessed to have two incredible mothers of my own- one by blood and one by marriage- and a sister who's shown me that she is one tough mama. I am grateful for each one of my aunts. And I cherish my dear friends who are mothers themselves. You all set a high standard for me to rise to one day.

But there was something about the radio hosts this morning that left me reflective and sad, as they played testimonials of folks who've bought flowers in the past for this fundraiser, singing the praises of the mothers in their lives who stayed up late with the kids and did so much. "Buy flowers for the stay-at-home moms to brighten their day," they said (as if somehow being a SAHM was otherwise dreary and draining and not the rich experience I know it to be for many moms).

As I changed the station, I thought to myself, "What about all the women who want nothing more to be moms? What about all the women who, for whatever reason, will never be able to be Hallmark's definition of a mom this Sunday?"

What about all the infertile, the childless not by choice?

What about us?

I hold out hope for myself that somehow, someway, I will parent with my husband. But I know there are so many out there who can't parent, despite many emotionally and financially draining attempts. That once again this year for Mothers' Day, it's just not in the cards. Last year, I wasn't as phased by Mothers' Day; I was more about exploring what Motherhood means to people. This year, well - this year is different. And there was something about driving in to work and listening to their endless pitch for flowers that just struck me differently - and deeply - this year.

Yesterday at Advocacy Day in DC (recap post Monday), Risa Levine, RESOLVE's National Advocacy Co-Chair, delivered the keynote address in the morning to all the attendees. She spoke beautifully at the conclusion of her speech about the "elephant in the room" - Mothers' Day this Sunday - and encouraged us to raise a glass for the work we set out to do that day and for all the Wannabe Moms. Because we've all held onto our dreams and fantasies of being a mom one day, and those dreams are just as important.

So, I'm asking the rest of the Hallmark-card-sending-world to remember us on Sunday.

We may not have stayed up late when the kids wouldn't go to bed. But we've stayed up late worrying about our transfers the next morning. We've stayed up late wondering why the agency hasn't called. Stayed up late wondering "How on earth are we going to pay for this?"

We may not have endured 20 hours of labor and a natural birth. But we've endured countless hours in stirrups, endless rounds of needles and herbal treatments and painful surgeries. And years of silence and shame.

We may not have brought our child to work but we've sacrificed careers to stay in jobs we hate just to maintain specific health insurance coverage, however crappy that coverage might be - but it's better than paying 100% out of pocket.

We may not have sold Girl Scout cookies with our daughters or run Boy Scout canned good drives with our sons, but we buy boxes of Thin Mints and hand over soup and beans to yours every time you ask us to.

We may never have experienced all those incredible moments that define and shape Motherhood...

...and we'd give anything to, just once.

Remember us on Sunday.

March 12, 2011

Japan Earthquake/Tsunami Update

All of these people are okay. From left: my aunt, my uncle, 
me, Larry, and my Obachan (Oct. 2009, Nara, Japan)
Some of you may or may not know I have family in Japan. After many, many long hours, my dad was finally able to reach his brother via Skype around 3PM EST Friday. All of my family in Japan are safe and okay. Thank you to the folks that sent me texts, tweets, and messages of support on Facebook.

My uncle and cousin work in Osaka. They felt the earthquake pretty strongly in Osaka and my uncle's office building was evacuated. That's saying something, considering Osaka is about as far from Tokyo as Philadelphia is to Boston, respectively - a distance of around 250 miles. My aunt and Obachan (grandmother) didn't feel a thing at their home in Nara. (Again, for relative distance, if Osaka was Boston, Nara would be just a bit north of where we live in Salem, about 18 miles).

My other cousin was at work in Tokyo when the earthquake hit. She sent me the following email at about 4PM EST today after we hadn't heard from her:
Hi, Keiko.
Thanks for the email. I'm OK. And all my family members are OK.
It happend around 3pm here in Japan, and I just got home after a long wait around 2am! As you may have already seen or heard, trains started to run and will run all night in Tokyo and that was why I managed to come home.
My phone's still not working, but I managed to communicate with my dad around 4pm once through my cell and he said the earthquare wasn't that bad compared to what happened in Tokyo. 
It was SCARY. I was praying all through the shakes in my office.
Anyhow, things seem a lot worse over in Sendai area....I hope things will get better soon.
Please tell your family we are all OK.
While I'm very lucky and blessed that my family is safe, I know there are many more worrying about their loved ones; NHK was reporting at least 750 missing as of 11PM EST tonight. Google has set up a Crisis Response Page with a People Finder section.

There's not much I can do here from home, so I made a donation to the International Red Cross.

How can you help? Cash donations are really the best lines of support for this kind of disaster relief. There are multiple organizations accepting donations specifically for Japan's earthquake and tsunami relief. Here's a list of organizations accepting donations for disaster relief in Japan.

Thoughts and prayers for the people of Japan.

EDIT: I've added a Donation Button on my sidebar that links directly to the American Red Cross. Here it is below if you'd like to snag it for your own blog, along with the plain text link of where it needs to point:

Link to: http://american.redcross.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ntld_main&s_src=RSG000000000&s_subsrc=RCO_FrontPagePanel

March 8, 2011

Let's Celebrate Women for International Women's Day

Hey everyone... it's International Women's Day. In fact, it's the 100th International Women's Day!

Women.... ROCK. We do! And we roll, we dance, we fall in love, we fall out of love, we climb mountains, we fly in space shuttles, we fight in wars, we run for president, we sing, we write, we knit, we do karate, we cook, we eat, we collect things that make us happy, we have babies, we adopt, we travel the world, we fight for freedom in the streets of Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya, we fight for the freedom of our own bodies in the streets of America, we fight to find the remains of our disappeared relatives in the deserts of Chile, we fight for our government to apologize for the use of Comfort Women at the embassies of Japan, we fight for the right to wear our headscarves in the streets of France.

Women's work is hard, people. And we do it because if we don't, who will?

. . .

At the Red Tent Temple last night, my hands were literally blessed by my friend Honeybee: "It is good work that you do, it is work that must be done. Bless these hands for the work that you do."

As Honeybee reminded us last night, we are each shooting stars. We blaze our own paths of womanhood, each of our experiences unique, valid, and purposeful.

. . .

Women have so much to teach the world (if folks would just listen once in a while!) - we have so much we can teach other, as women. We have so much we can teach each other as infertile women, as mothers, as daughters, as sisters, as aunts, as wives and partners.

There is no tome big enough to hold all of the things I have learned from all of the women in my life.

. . .

In honor of International Women's Day, let's celebrate women and womanhood. Tell me (pick one or all three):

1. What rocks about being a woman?
2. What women's work do you do?
3. Who is a special woman in your life and what is one thing she has taught you?

It's only fair I do the homework assignment, too, so here goes:

What rocks about being a woman?
Women rock because we are fundamentally vessels of creation. This creative power is one that many have tried to squash, take away, or subdue. But when we remember that we are the keepers of that creative power: we are a force to behold.

What women's work do I do?
Certainly not household chores, my heavens I'm a lazy one. But... I make tea. I stop to take pictures of random flowers. I write. I think about all the cool things I'm going to teach my niece and hopefully one day, my own children. I brush my cats and stroke their little furry chins. I cook and boy howdy do I eat. I volunteer. I make short films. I appreciate nature. I travel. I go to the Red Tent. I talk about other women's work.

Who is a special woman in your life and what is one thing she has taught you?
My sister Jasmine is amazing. She's my older sister, a loving wife, a kickass new mom, and quite literally, Teacher of the Year. So it only makes sense that yes, shes's taught me many, many things. I could go on for days about all the things she's taught me, but I'll tell you the one thing that's probably shaped my whole life: my sister taught me to love learning. I only ever did drama club because she used to do theatre crew. I only ever joined chorus because she did color guard. I wrote tragically awful poetry because she did the lit mag and took creative writing. I took French with Madame Venanzi (no matter how much we both hated her) because she took French; I went on the French Club trip to France because she had completed a semester abroad in England. My sister did all these awesome things that cultivated her mind in such creative ways that I learned from her that knowledge, creativity, and reading are profoundly important. So thanks, Sis. Thanks for teaching me that an intelligent mind is a beautiful, powerful thing.

So celebrate with me today for International Women's Day - share your celebrations in the comments!

January 26, 2011

Three Years Ago Today


I took your hand and spoke with purpose:

Matzati et she'ahava nafshi
(I have found him, whom my soul loves)

Three years ago, I remember my veiled perspective:
surrounded by family and song, my excitement lulled
into comtemplative anticipation as the rabbi lead us in niggun
her wordless, haunting melody reaching deep within me
 
In this sacred silk space around my head and face
I knew I would exit a different woman
someone's wife - your wife
my veil lifted as though my world awakened
the first light of our many tomorrows
 
I remember the corners of the red napkin we each clutched with desperation
as our friends and family lifted us high over their shoulders
the Hora playing loudly, everything whirling around us like a carnival ride
 
The feel of your hands as we exchanged rings
the first I had felt your touch all weekend
as you recited words that have echoed across
five thousand years
I felt holy and connected, my soul
rejoicing, relieved
 
gladdened to have found
the one
in whom I
delight
 
. . .
 
What a remarkable three years it has been, and here's to many, many more adventures together.
 
Happy anniversary, love.

January 7, 2011

A little kindness and compassion

...can go a long way.

Photo by Sarah Murray via Flickr.
I sometimes straddle a difficult line with blogging and being public about my identity. Sometimes there are things I am dying to write about here, but I know that even with strategic re-naming of the parties involved, people will recognize themselves and that someone will eventually be hurt by what I write. I practice a high degree of self-censorship in that regard.

But sometimes, when people go out of their way to be so kind and pleasant to you, well, I can't help but write about it. If anything to prove that even though infertile folks have to deal with some of the most asinine but well-intentioned advice, we can also be the recipients of some of the most humbling compassion.

Right before Christmas, my niece began crawling. My sister was so excited and proud of her wee little one- as well she should be! - and wanted to share the good news. On the way home from work, she called me and we were catching up a bit. We would be seeing each other on Christmas Day, so it was more of a "Hi how are ya" conversation. And then my sister got quiet for a minute.

"Everything okay?" I asked.

"Yeah, can I ask you a really stupid, silly question?" she said after a minute.

"Sure. I'll have a stupid, silly answer for you," I teased.

She paused. "How do I know if it's okay to talk about Willow?"

The car was quiet for a minute, the only sound the soft murmur of the highway under my wheels. I thought for a moment. "I suppose you could just ask me, I won't be offended."

My sister went on, "Well it's just that I know you've been in a funk lately and I don't want to babble on about her if you don't want to hear about it. I just don't want to make you upset."

I smiled, deeply touched. "Seriously, you can just ask me. I'll let you know if I don't want to - I'll be honest if it's one of those days."

"Should we have a code word or something?" After a few minutes of debate, we decided that we would refer to Willow in the form of potato products, since her in utero nickname was Spud.

"So... how do you feel about french fries today?" my sister asked.

"Why, they sound delicious! Tell me more," I smiled.

. . .

Not too long after that conversation I was talking with a dear friend, Nicole, online. (PS, totally random shoutout - she is one stellar photographer. Check out her stuff - for seriouses.) Larry and I were heading down to their house for New Year's weekend as part of a very coordinated surprise 30th birthday party for a mutual friend. There were folks coming from all over the country to celebrate our friend's birthday, and sleeping space was at a premium, especially beds. Thankfully we RSVP'd early enough to guarantee a bed of some sort (futon, air mattress, or otherwise) and Nicole was in the lovely position of playing human Tetris trying to figure out where everyone would be sleeping at her house.

Nicole, I should add, is 7½ months pregnant with her second boy. There would also be a recently announced pregnant couple there, as well as another couple with a toddler. We were catching up online when she asked if Larry and I would mind sleeping in the baby's room so the birthday boy (the couple with the toddler) could sleep downstairs in the basement with all of his friends from high school that were coming.

At first I wasn't sure, so I bought myself some time to think about by saying that I'd bring it up with Larry that evening and get back to her. Nicole was very honest, explaining that the baby's room was decorated, painted, and the crib was up, but there was plenty of room for an air mattress on the floor. Given the number of people coming, she had to get creative with the sleeping arrangements.

I thanked her for being so considerate enough to even ask in the first place; it's not that I wouldn't have expected her to ever be so kind, but it was a nice reminder of just how awesome a friend she is to Larry and me. That night I did bring it up with Larry and he said he didn't mind if I didn't. I told him I was on the fence; I was already worried at the potentially baby-centric weekend it could potentially be.

The next morning, a chat window from Nicole popped up. "Problem solved," it said. She had talked it over with our friends coming with the toddler and put them up in the baby's room instead. Larry and I got very lucky and got the quietest, darkest room in the house (our favorite place to sleep when we stay over there). New Year's weekend was a blast, and my "I'm the infertile surrounded by parents and pregnant ladies" fear was overblown. The baby talk was barely non-existent and I had a wonderful time, despite picking up one of the many colds that everyone brought with them.

. .

It's these little moments of compassion that can really go a long way, and that leave me humbled and thankful for the love and support we get. It's nice to feel like sometimes, we're not just floating out on this lonely island throwing bottles of rolled up wishes into the sea: that our friends and family hop into a little canoe, knowing they're headed to an uncomfortable destination but willing to take the ride all the same just to show their support in some way.

What moments of compassion have touched you in your journeys?

December 28, 2010

I survived Snomageddon.

Hope you're all still following along...

. . .

We got close to 19 inches in Salem, MA this weekend. And as a first-time homeowner, I got to shovel my very own driveway with my husband. After 3 hours and almost nowhere to throw the snow because we live on a very narrow one-way street, we managed to get it done. There are 3 six-foot piles of snow on our property: a pile on either side of the driveway on the sidewalk (no way in hell that sidewalk is getting cleared because that's where everyone else threw their snow) and another pile behind our little white picket fence behind the driveway. My shoulder, arm, neck, and back are killing me today.

Afterward? Sledding at Mack Park in gale-force winds. My first attempt down the massive hill? I hit a rock, went airborn, and then rolled the rest of the way down the hill. It was pretty painful. My second run: a lot of fun and very very fast. My third and final run? I probably managed to get up to 30 mph, spun around backwards, and hoped to G-d I didn't take out any of the toddlers trudging through the snow at the bottom (I didn't, and only just barely). Then it was home to the fireplace and homemade chili (my best chili yet, actually).

[insert pictures that I have yet to upload from my camera
of said Snowmageddon here ]

. . .

So... the radio silence for the last two weeks. Yeah, about that.

Remember how I was in a bit of a funk? The funk just got way worse. I don't think I've ever been so gloomy for the holidays before. I think part of it was because I stopped my birth control for two weeks; I was finishing an antibiotic the week I was supposed to start them again, but since we all know the tale about antibiotics and birth control pills, I figured I'd just start them the following week since the penicillin was rendering them useless anyway. Apparently this put my hormones in a tizzy like no other, so I'm just starting to feel normal again.

I had a lovely Christmas with my family, if abbreviated. The plan was to drive down Christmas Eve morning and get Chinese with Larry's family. Then we'd head up to my sister's with my parents and spend Christmas Day with my whole family and my new niece. Sunday we'd tool around, maybe hang out with some friends in the ol' South Jersey, and take our time heading back to MA on Monday, since Larry and I both had the day off.

So... our house was a mess and we decided to leave at the ass crack of dawn Christmas morning and head straight to my sister's. We never did clean Christmas Eve and got Chinese at this place called Fantasy Island that we've passed many a time but never stopped by to eat. We make it to my sister's in 4.5 hours and play with Willow while we wait for my parents to get there. We have a delicious ham dinner, we open lots of presents, and we got to Skype with my Obachan and Uncle Yusan in Japan. And then I checked the weather report for home since Larry mentioned we might get "some snow."

"Some snow" had turned into a blizzard warning and coastal flooding watch, so we stayed for a cup of coffee, said our goodbyes, and got right back into the car and drove back home. We got home at about 12:30am Sunday morning. By the time we woke up on Sunday, it had begun snowing a full two hours earlier than forecasted. The grocery store was a zoo, but we stocked up, came home, and I made chili while Larry baked some skillet cornbread. We lit a fire, we vegged, and Mother Nature dumped 18" of snow overnight.

. . .

No news on baby-making, in that, we have no money to afford anything and the timing just isn't there. I'm kind of sad all the time right now, randomly. It's frustrating because I put on this great show of being an advocate and championing hope to all who read this. But I don't have a pot o'gold at the end of my infertility rainbow. I'm still waiting. I'm still praying. I'm still bitter and sad and jealous and tired.

I know going through donor selection is going to be hard, that going through IVF and hopefully pregnancy and birth will be hard and that parenting an infant is no cakewalk. I get that, should we be blessed enough to have a child, I will not suddenly start pooping unicorns and lollipops and everything will be grand. I know, I know - but I just want to be a mom. I want to make Larry a dad. Forget means, forget funds, let's just get this show on the road.

And right now? Right now I'm just sad all the damn time. My motivation to write has virtually disappeared. I've even found it a struggle to "read" (I use quotes since I'm listening to audiobooks right now), and I find that when I'm listening to a good book, I write better and with more frequency. But even now I've grown weary of dear Simon Vance reading The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. I suppose that's a statement for my entire state of affairs: I've just grown weary period.

Mercury can't get out of retrograde fast enough.

October 5, 2010

Meet Saba & Toro!

Team Zoll has grown this week. I wish I could say it were in human additions, but furbabies are great too!

Say hello to Saba:

And this little dude with Larry is Toro:

We adopted these little lovely boys on Sunday and boy howdy are they a handful. We adopted them from Northeast Animal Rescue, very close to our house. We've been going to the shelter the last few weekends now, telling ourselves we'd wait until our living room was repaired before we adopted cats so they wouldn't chew on exposed wiring and such. And then Saturday, that all went to hell and we decided that we really wanted cats now, so we swung back and laid our eyes on Henry and Hobo (their shelter names) and just couldn't go home without them.

We had to wait until Sunday as we got there a few minutes before they closed on Saturday. I couldn't sleep Saturday night because I was so excited! It was like the night before school. They are 6 months old and were found at 4 weeks in a backyard in Mattapan. They ended up being in foster care for a long time because, like many outdoor strays, they had worms, earmites, and fleas, and developed kitty colds. They'd only been in the shelter maybe 2 weeks, so they are definitely socialized.

We picked their names after a very lengthy discussion Saturday. We wanted to name them something in Japanese, and Larry and I were very amused at the idea of naming them after sushi. Saba means mackerel, a white fish, so that's what we named Henry, the cat with the white belly. Toro means fatty tuna (also, it's delicious) and is a dark red fish, so Hobo, the orange tabby, got that as his new name.

We have them in a safe room (the room that drives me nuts- the craft room/Larry's temp office until the living room and office downstairs are fixed/hopefully nursery in the future) to get them acclimated. It's also for us since we so spontaneously decided to adopt we have to cat-proof the rest of the house. Now, we have a very old house (1791) and the room doesn't really have a lock, and the doors aren't entirely square, so the door doesn't really shut... and of course, they got out last night while I was in the ER (oh, did you like that little gem I threw in there? That's another post) and Larry had to retrieve them. Toro was poking around the laundry area and we're not sure where Saba got to... but once he shook the treat jar, he came running and Larry jerry-rigged them back into the safe room. Once we finish straigtening up and cat-proofing tonight, we'll give them reign of the house (minus the living room) tomorrow night.

Saba and Toro are basically the equivalent of two-year olds: getting into everything, the attention span of gnats, climbing everywhere, pulling and chewing on everything and testing limits. They are quite the handful but very loving, sweet, and both of them have such motors it's hard to believe such tiny creatures can purr that loud!

They're awesome and we love them to death already.

October 2, 2010

Night of Hope Recap

Night of Hope was simply amazing. Held at the very swanky Guastavino's in New York City on Tuesday, September 28, RESOLVE put on one classy gala celebration. Here are my pics from the night.


The lady in red? That's me. That classy lookin' guy in the suit? That's Larry. The fancy lookin' lady in the black pantsuit? My mom Debbie :) And the two other women holding awards in that picture with me? Those would be (from left) Best Blog winner Julie Robichaux, aka, A Little Pregnant and Best Book winner Pamela Tsigdinos, author of Silent Sorority. Oh! And my 1 pic with a celeb: Alisyn Camerota from FOX and Friends Weekend was the emcee for the evening. All the rest of the details after the cut.

Larry and I left bright and early Tuesday morning after making a quick pitstop to Target so I could pick up an evening bag - a girl's gotta have a complete ensemble! We made it to Brooklyn by lunchtime and met up with a friend of ours and had lunch at the famous/omgdelicious Junior's Deli. They are apparently famous for their cheesecake, but sadly, we didn't sample a slice as we were running short on time and we wanted to save room for dinner (more on that deliciousness later). It was great to catch up with Jen who we hadn't seen since her wedding last year and then we were off into the wilds of NYC streets to get to our hotel.

We stayed at the Marriott East Side, made possible only by cashing in all of Larry's Marriott points. It's basically across the street from the Waldorf Astoria, so you can probably guess as to what a nightly rate might be there. We were given the option of a queen bed on a high floor or a king bed on a lower floor. We thought "higher floor, better view" but instead we were looking at the back of the building and thought, hm, let's splurge for that king room. (Oh we were TOTALLY those guests that went up to the first room and changed our minds.) So as we're waiting for a bellhop to key us into our new room, we notice there's a lot of activity on this new floor. When the bellhop lets us in, he says, "I hope you don't mind the Secret Service guy on the terrace next to your room."

Turns out, Vice President Biden was staying in our hotel for the UN Conference this week. That would explain the unusually large amount of NYPD around the hotel and those guys in suits with ear-pieces in the lobby. And yes, there was a guy on the terrace ledge next to our room scoping out everything. Larry has been on a 24 kick lately so he was all like, "It's just like Jack Bauer!" and I replied "Well, Jack Bauer doesn't need to see me get dressed," and I shut the shade. We then made jokes about the no-fly list and bugs in our room as I hustled to get ready.

What I have failed to mention is that I still hadn't finished writing my speech. I had written a draft in the car that Larry thought was nice, but once we were in the hotel and I read it aloud again, this time without the distraction of the radio and traffic, we both realized it was crap and I had to rewrite it. It was 4pm. The event started at 6pm.

Larry insisted that I not memorize it but I was too rushed to try and write the whole thing down, so I ended up typing it as a doc on my iPhone. I know, I know - nerd. I own up to that. Before we left I raised the shade and the Secret Service guy was gone, like a whisper in the night. Cool... and admittedly creepy too.

Then we rushed to get a cab at 4:30 because I figured there would be road closures and rush hour traffic and... we got to Guastavino's in about 10 minutes. I didn't have to be there until 5:20. I proceded to walk around the block practicing my speech and trying to calm my nerves. Finally, at 5pm we went in. When I checked in, I had a lovely bouquet of roses waiting for me from Dr. Lawrence Nelson. He and I have been in touch the last few months and he was scheduled to attend but couldn't at the last minute. It was a really sweet gesture. I was greeted right away by people who knew me by face from my video and as I walked around, I realized that more people there would know me from my video than I would know them... it was a very strange realization and I suddenly felt like I was under a microscope.

As effervescent as I can appear to be in public, it can still be a challenge to mix and mingle for me, especially where the ratio of personal recognition did not favor me in the least. Suddenly, I got VERY nervous for the rest of the night.

I was relieved then, after a quick walkthrough of the stage area upstairs, to see my mom standing with Larry when I came back downstairs. She looked radiant! We got ourselves some cocktails and had a seat. As more folks came in, I said hi to colleagues and finally got to meet several people I had only met online or over the phone - it was great to finally meet these folks in person (like Julie & Pamela). I even managed to stumble a very awkward hello and introduction to Sherri Shepherd, one of the hostesses of The View who was there to accept the Hope Award for Achievement on their behalf that evening. (Her speech, by the way, was hysterical and poignant: "We didn't have insurance so we put the whole IVF cycle on our Amex. Now we have like, 400,000 Sky Miles thanks to our son!")

The evening got underway with a special video message from Guiliana and Bill Rancic as they couldn't be present to accept their award. I had no clue who they were (and still kind of don't because I never watched The Apprentice or E! News) until I looked them up on my phone that night. But apparently, they have a new reality show debuting next Monday on the Style Network that chronicles both their relationship and their infertility journey. In fact, I just watched the teaser trailer online and now I'm all teary-eyed! It looks to be the kind of awareness-building show our community needs right now.

Dinner was delish: flat-iron steak, grilled asparagus, stuffed potatoes, and a delicious salad. And of course: wine. I had to slow down on the cocktails because I hadn't eaten too much and I didn't want to be sloshed when I went to accept my award. (Although, it certainly helped calm my nerves.) At the last minute, I decided to write out my speech and began frantically copying it onto the back of my logistics sheet with the awards order and room layout guide I got when I checked in. Then, it was go time.

I got up one award before mine and waited in the holding area. Jeff Silsbee, Marketing Leader for Merck Pharmaceuticals, would do my introduction. We had a minute to chat before going up and he said it was great to meet me in person after seeing my video. During his intro speech, he mentioned that his team at Merck was very moved by seeing my video. I was floored. I had no idea it had been seen by the Fertility Marketing team of a major pharmaceutical company. They showed a 60 second clip of my video and it was so strange to see a) the video and b) myself on the big screen (two big screens actually). I felt like someone unleashed a whole net of butterflies into my stomach and throat as I was called up to the stage.

Click here to see the full video of my entire award acceptance, including my speech.

The whole 7 minutes from introduction until I came down from the stage felt like a blink. Before I knew it, I was back in my seat hugging my mom and kissing Larry. Afterward we headed to the dessert reception, where I barely ate as person after person came up to me to bestow congratulations and compliments. I am certainly grateful for all of the well wishes; I was just very overwhelmed and VERY out of my element. Thank G-d for Larry- he's a schmoozer by nature- so he helped me work the room and reminded me to hand out my business cards. I got to talk more at length with Jeff; I met Jennifer Redmond of Fertility Authority and we chatted about my possibly writing for them soon; Preya Shivdat, founder of Fertile Dreams, a grant-giving non-profit for couples struggling with IF; and had a very interesting conversation with Dr. Ali Domar of the Domar Mind/Body Center - she's inspired me to seek a second opinion of my diagnosis; I met fellow awardees Renee Whitley and Lee Rubin Collins, both very inspiring women who take advocacy to its highest levels in the US.

I'm sure there were lots and lots more fantastic people that I met, but honestly, the night was such a blur it's hard to remember everyone. If we did meet and forgot to exchange cards, please do feel free to email me, find me on Facebook or Twitter. All those handy links are on my sidebars.

In all, it was a simply gala evening and I enjoyed myself immensely. Thank you so much to RESOLVE for hosting such a wonderful event and for this incredible honor you've bestowed on me. Now I have a very pretty (and very heavy!) crystal award vase to proudly display on one of the four hearths we have in our new home.

...Although, as Julie and I were joking, we might use them for snack storage. Yanno, just eat some M&Ms out of it from time to time.

Larry is convinced Night of Hope is my tipping point. Tipping into what... I'm not sure yet. But I hope it's toward big opportunities, a chance to raise awareness and to continue my advocacy, and hopefully, somewhere soon down this path - towards building our family.

July 30, 2010

If

This Saturday's Torah portion is Eikev. It translates roughly to to "if." Moses continues his last sermon? speech? lesson? I'm not really sure how it's defined. But essentially, it's his last schpiel before the Israelites finally cross over into the Promised Land. Their wandering is drawing to an end.

Pictured left to right: Larry's mom, Larry's sister,
Nan, Larry. Taken at Nan's 90th birthday last year.
Eikev takes on a special significance; it's been a complete Jewish lunar year since Larry's Nan passed away. This Sunday is her grave unveiling. This is a Jewish custom that varies by community; a tombstone is prepared and laid, but it remains covered for a year. It marks the "last" phase of formal Jewish mourning: yahrzeit. (I put last in quotes because we never really stop mourning.) The first two phases are shiva, the first seven days, and then shloshim, the next 30 days. Yahrzeit marks the anniversary. While Nan is always remembered in our hearts every day, we remember her especially on her yahrzeit: a special candle is lit in her memory that burns for 24 hours.

I have always been drawn to the marking of time in Judaism, rather, more specifically: the sanctification of time, how every moment in our lives is sacred, blessed. Because you never know when things can change in a moment, how a life can be hinged upon a single word: ...If.

Mel over at Stirrup Queens had an absolutely haunting post on Monday. Quick summary: she and her entire family could have all been killed in a single moment on the highway in Pennsylvania, caught in those crazy storms that swept through the mid-Atlantic region last weekend. All that separated her family and the inevitable were just a few fractions of a second.

...If.

Those same storms roared through College Park, Maryland. Right over the neighborhood we lived in for three years. Less than a mile from our first apartment, a former colleague of mine from the University of Maryland was killed in those storms. A massive tree fell on her car, killing her instantly. She is being laid to rest tomorrow.

Michelle Humanick was 44, wife and mother of two. I had always respected and admired her graphic design work in the department; I respected her even more when she left the University to spend more time with her family. I only learned through news reports they had adopted their two daughters, their youngest less than a year ago. For some reason, maybe because we hope to be adoptive parents ourselves one day, this just made me so much sadder to hear.

...If.

This weekend is not all death and endings. Tonight we head to my sister's so that I can see Willow for the first time since she was born. It's amazing how much she's grown in a month. More astonishing is the general idea of how much a human body will grow and develop in that time- the body is a wonder, indeed. I am digging this whole Auntie thing.

Close friends of ours have officially announced to the world that they are expecting their second child. We've known for a few weeks now and we are still just as overjoyed for them. She's due in March and we are already excited to get to meet the newest addition to their family.

We're 99% of the way there on the house. The purchase and sale agreement has been completed. We've been approved for the FHA loan. The bank intends to underwrite said loan. Now we're just waiting on some complicated paperwork from the sellers. It's the last hurdle between us and closing on August 12. I am really hoping we make it to closing, otherwise we're going to have to put everything in storage and sleep on some couches. This mortgage/loan thing is driving me nuts. As Larry puts it, it's like the Tuesday before the wedding on Saturday: all you can do is wait.

And so we wait.

. . .

Life, death, and these moments of holiness and santification where we can find them. Each moment hinged upon branches of possibility, pinned only in place by one single little word: if. And these ifs, ticking away like sacred seconds.

If. If. If.

July 28, 2010

A Belly Full of Fire, Part Five: Millions of voices calling for change

This is the fifth and final post of my five-part series on infertility advocacy. Catch up on Part One: Advocate or Abdicate, Part Two: The Wounded Healer, Part Three: Which Direction Do We Swim?, and Part Four: In a Perfect World.

PS: I'm also just over a dozen people shy of 200 followers to this blog. Once I hit 200, I'll do my first giveaway! Click here to follow my blog.

"We know the battle ahead will be long, but always remember that no matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change."
- Barack Obama (NH Primary Concession Speech, 2008)

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
- Maria Robinson


A Belly Full of Fire, Part Five: Millions of voices calling for change

You've felt the fire burning in your belly. You've taken the pledge. You've seen how advocacy can be a source of healing. You've considered the possibility of being a part of a movement, whether you're the lone nut or the first follower. And for a few moments, you could picture why all this hard work is totally worth it.

So... now what?

Reader StolenEggs (aka Fox in the Henhouse) made a great comment on Monday's post about up/downstream approaches to advocacy:

But I wonder how many people are actually a little like deer caught in headlights wondering, "Which way do I go?" In the end they are neither upstream nor down because they are frozen due to the sheer enormity of the situation.

I can totally respect that: Rome wasn't built in a day, throwing starfish back into the sea and all that. Raising awareness and advocating for infertility isn't something you can successfully accomplish in one day. Hell, it might not even be something we can successfully accomplish in a lifetime... but we can try.

My hope is that this series has stirred something within you, inspired you, fueled that fire in your belly. I can't tell you exactly how you can advocate for infertility: everyone finds their own path. Only you know how comfortable you are, what boundaries you are willing to push within yourself, how far you are willing to go.

...but of course I'm not going to abandon you after four posts and leave you with "Go west, young advocate!" I can give you a little nudge on some brainstorming. But the rest is up to you.

Like the post about upstream/downstream work, there's a lot you can do on both the small and larger scales, and even in between. It all depends on your comfort level and time commitment- and those of course can be fluid and change over time. Here are some ideas to get you started with becoming your own infertility advocate:

From the comfort of your living room, you can...

+ Utilize social media: Your blog, Twitter, Facebook... a lot of you are already doing this. Get your message out there. Keep it fresh, unique, engaging. Build readership and followership. Get yourself on blogrolls. Network. Check out my blogroll on the sidebar, or Mel's massive ALI blogroll over at Stirrup Queens to get started. If you're in New England, consider joining the New England Infertility Blogger Network.

+ Visit RESOLVE's website: Recently updated and full of resources. Go explore it and see what it has to offer, whether it's the Pledge, the Center for Infertility Justice, or Project IF - there are lots of great resources for you to get started on a national level in a "from the comfort of your own home" way.

+ Write letters to your legislators: Emailing is great, phone calls are nice too, but when legislators have to actually open a mailed letter, there's a greater chance your words will actually be seen by said legislator. For the cost of a postage stamp (lol, I sound like Sally Struthers) you too can advocate for infertility awareness. This is especially important for states with mandated coverage or those who have pending legislation that threatens or supports infertility causes.

+ Email your friends, family, colleagues: A bit more daring, but just as effective. Tell them what you're going through. Ask for their support, whether emotionally or financially. I am still inspired by Willow at Write, Baby, Repeat, who wrote to her two cousins in April asking them if they'd be willing to donate their eggs. Talk about putting yourself out there. Even though they ultimately said no, what an act of bravery, of awareness building. A request like that doesn't stay locked in the corners of your brain- I'm sure her cousins will be much more sensitive, compassionate people for it. Even in such a small dynamic as one family, awareness is raised and advocacy happens. You have to start somewhere, right? And the ripples will spread out from there... her best friend agreed to donate her eggs two months later.

+ Donate money for infertility awareness/advocacy: I know it's hard to donate in a down economy. We've got a looming first-home purchase hanging over our heads, but I still try to find even a couple of bucks to throw to my important causes. I do it because I figure if I put enough good out into the Universe maybe it'll throw a little back at me. Also, check with your employer to see if they do employee matching for charitable donations. Tada! Double your contribution. Some organizations I'll pitch for your donation: RESOLVE, RESOLVE of New England, Parenthood For Me, and Rachel's Well.

+ Become an "armchair" philanthropist: Take it one step further... Try organizing your own fundraiser via your blog or FB or email. Set a goal. Set a timeline. Ask for donations. Maybe build in some incentives. Even if you only get $10 that's $10 more than you started with and $10 toward an important cause. Success isn't necessarily measured in the amount of what you can raise doing something like this but in the fact that you raised anything at all. Or join a fundraiser already in progress, like reader Sonja has for the A.M.S. Endometriosis Foundation Online Auction. Or how Busted Kate helped a grieving family with DuckFest. Or how Parenthood For Me started her own non-profit that gives grants for adoptive couples! Or how Mrs. Tiye over at Broken Brown Egg is helping to raise awareness about how infertility impacts the African-American community at her first A.H.A. Gala For Infertility Awareness in Chicago in September.

There are lots of bloggers out there who are finding ways to raise awareness, raise funds, and advocate for change. These are just the few I could think off the top of my head, but if you're a reader here and I've missed the amazing advocacy work you're doing such as fundraisers and other things, leave a comment and share with everyone else!

Lastly, I want to talk about Obama's quote above. (I try to keep my politics out of this blog aside from legislative advocacy as it relates to infertility and women's health.) I was WAY late on the will.i.am "Yes We Can" bandwagon, but when I first heard it, it moved me to tears. What's even more amazing is that the lyrics come directly from his concession speech from the New Hampshire primaries, when he lost to Hilary Clinton. It was a pretty big loss, but here we are, addressing him as Mr. President rather than Mr. Senator. I have always found this quote inspiring: even when he was knocked down, Obama still mustered up the strength to keep going. It's a lesson for life.

After 6,350 words devoted to infertility advocacy in this series, it all boils down to this:

1. If we don't advocate for infertility awareness for ourselves, no one will do it for us. We need to step up to the plate as a community.

2. Advocacy serves as a proactive way to heal old wounds and regain a sense of control with a disease that seems to rob so much control from us.

3. Find a way to advocate in a way that feels comfortable to you. Fuel that fire in your belly. Then, when you're ready, push yourself one step further.

4. Remember that infertility advocacy is not a lost cause. Do this for yourself. Do it for your partner. Do it for the 7.3 million people in this country. Do it because it matters and for what all the possibilities of successful advocacy could be. Have hope.

5. Start your advocacy today, from the comfort of your own living room. Just do something and start right now. Commit to change. Be the change, as Gandhi would say.


The time for silence surrounding infertility is over. The time for a positive, open dialogue is long overdue. The time has come for a million voices calling for change.

Will you be one of them?


Photo by Abe Novy via Flickr.

July 6, 2010

Just when you thought you'd seen it all...

We got a package in the mail today, rather unexpectedly. Larry handed me the Christmas decorated box, and we looked at each other quizzically when we saw who it was from: my super Evangelical uncle who made a right ass of himself at his own mother's funeral last month.

We were nervous opening it - I've never received mail from either of my uncles ever. I thought it was either some memento of Granny's that he randomly decided to pass on to us or quite honestly, a New Testament only Bible. You know, because we're Jews.

Oh no. It was neither of these things.

It was a pink onesie and a green jumper. And a card that read, "Welcome to your new baby girl."


Way to go Uncle S, you sent it to the wrong niece. You know, the one who just happens to be unable to have her own children.

I called my mom and she was as speechless as I was. We both agreed that my uncle is just one dumb redneck and to not bat an eyelash at his ignorance. I decided that I will indeed pass the gift on to my sister, but I just can't let this go without some kind of response on my part. This is where I need your help, dear readers: how should I respond?

Do I...

+ write them a thank you note saying, "Thanks for the lovely gift. I'm sure my niece will enjoy these!"

+ write them a thank you note saying, "Thanks for the lovely gift. I'm sure the adopted child we hope to have in the future will enjoy this. Let's hope we're matched with a little girl!"

+ send them a blank donation card to RESOLVE of New England and a copy of RESOLVE's Infertility Etiquette Guide.

+ send them a note with just the URL to my video (or better yet, a DVD of it).

+ send them a picture of my sister and I, with our names clearly labeled and descriptions reading, "Keiko: Can't have children" and "Jasmine: Just had the baby, dipshits."

+ just let it go.

What do you think? Do you have other creative ideas or responses? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

June 28, 2010

Anyone else hear that ticking sound?

EDIT: Thank you to whoever submitted my good news to the LFCA this weekend! Much appreciated :)

Finally home after a crazy busy weekend. We spent Saturday in the hospital with my sister and her husband, oohing and aaahing over my little darling niece and watching the USA v. Ghana game. It was crazy to realize that we were meeting a brand new human being who wasn't even 24 hours old yet! My sister was definitely tired and sore, and my brother-in-law was quite the doting father. They all look so absolutely happy to finally meet the little lady they've been waiting for nine months.

There is infinite joy to be found in a growing family. But then that old green-eyed IF monster rears her ugly head from time to time. In these moments of happiness are also these deep, instinctual longings, something I thought I'd squelched a bit. This highly emotional weekend certainly brought up a lot of emotional baggage from the last year. It's this yo-yo-ing that gets to me more than anything.

Friday, I could hardly sit still. We all knew that my sister was getting induced first thing Friday morning, so we were all waiting patiently for updates. My mom drove up there to meet them at the hospital and offer moral support from the waiting room. I got the phone call when she was induced, when they broke her water, and when she got the epidural. My mom filled me in about about 6pm when it was go time. Larry and I had 3 home tours scheduled for Friday night (and all three were a bust... I don't know if we're too picky or we need to start looking in a different area). I didn't hear anything for two hours; I was starting to get worried. I finally called my mom at about 9pm and she told me the good news: Willow was here, my sister was fine, and I was an Auntie!

At first, relief - I was so glad nothing was wrong. And then excitement - I couldn't wait to meet her this weekend. And then all of that baggage that comes with infertility, all of those feelings I'd thought I'd really worked through and processed. Like every birth announcement, there's a rush of joy followed by this overwhelming jealousy and self-loathing. I got up from where I was sitting and marched into the bathroom, overcome with emotion. Larry followed right behind: "You don't have to hide from me." I cried, I rambled, I was so excited and embarrassed with myself for feeling this range of conflicting emotions. After a few minutes, I was fine. It was just a total emotional overload for a few minutes, but I was worried how I might be at the hospital the next day.

I was fine, actually. Larry was too. We were so happy to meet our niece and so glad to see just how happy Jasmine and Neal were. The only thing that made me uncomfortable was seeing a nurse come in with a needle in hand for some vaccine for my sister. I high-tailed it out of the room: Keiko don't do needles. But it was a lovely visit and the love that filled the room was really just beautiful.

And then, on the ride back to Larry's parents' house... I started hearing it: this incessant ticking in the background of everything. Even though we're pretty much decided on pursuing adoption, it was like my uterus and ovary just started screaming at me: "Baby. Now." This often happens in baby scenarios like showers or after friends announce their pregnancies. As much as I've resolved that yes, I can still be just as much of a woman without experiencing pregnancy or birth, it doesn't mean that my biological clock shuts off. It had been dormant for months now, and all of a sudden my niece's birth wound it right back up again.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing, just frustrating and annoying. I'm daydreaming about names and nursery colors. I see these big round bellies on women walking down the street and think to myself: I would look cute with a little bump like that. I'm thinking about what time of year it would be nice to be four months or nine months' pregnant, or what zodiac sign our baby would be if I were pregnant right now. It's this crazy, hyper-feminine alter ego that crawls up out of the depths of this otherwise confident, assertive woman and starts to henpeck away at my brain. Gah! Enough already!

And yesterday, we went to a wedding of very dear friends of ours. Larry was in the wedding- what a beautiful ceremony and evening. We were surprised at the emphasis on procreation at the ceremony (I think the bride and groom were just as surprised as well!) - there were a few moments where Larry and I exchanged knowing glances at one another. A few of the blessings and wishes for the couple and their future children just landed very differently to our ears. It's a marked difference from Jewish weddings, where wishes for children aren't typically mentioned. Thankfully, a night of libations, dancing, and merriment drowned out that relentless tick tock.

...but in those quiet moments, I can hear it, feel that butterfly in my stomach idyllic hopefulness and excitement, and feel a deep longing in my chest. That Biological Clock - she is one harsh mistress.


Photo by Alvimann via MorgueFile.

Meet my niece!

She's just stunning. Mommy and baby are just fine. Daddy is beaming. And my niece is the cutest newborn ever. And boy howdy does she have a set of lungs on her! Just wanted to post a few pics since we're on the road. We were home for a good friend's wedding as well, so we are whirlwinding back to Boston as I write. In the meantime, soak up the adorableness that is my new niece, Willow!

EDIT: I've put the pics behind the cut for sensitivity. Forgot that BlogPress doesn't include my span=fullpost html. And thanks for stopping by from the LFCA!








- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

June 26, 2010

I'm an Aunt!

My niece Willow was born at 8:40pm on Friday, June 25th. She came in at 7 pounds 3 ounces and 20 inches long. I want to say a huge thank you to all of the people cheering for her online as I tweeted updates like a fiend. We're on our way to fly down and meet her today. Stay tuned for a more detailed post with some pictures this evening! (For those of you wondering, that's Aunt Bea from the Andy Griffith Show.)

June 24, 2010

"And Room to Grow..."

House hunting has come to a stall. We submitted an offer on Tuesday and it was rejected by the seller that same day. Rock on. There's an open house Sunday, so we're waiting to find out if anyone else bites. If no one does, we might submit a new offer, but we're also thinking about walking away if we must.

Walking away is the hardest thing to do when you're house hunting. It's so easy to fall in love: you find the house. You start imagining paint choices, furniture, little knick knacks and lamps and pictures and then you start preemptively filling in the memories you plan to make in each room of your house. But, it's not your house, not yet at least.

We foolishly did all of those things, filling up the pictures in our minds with all of our stuff, with all of that potential. Walking away is going to be so hard from a house we've fallen in love with.

Hunting for a house is the most grown up thing we've ever done in our adult lives. For me, it's unsettled some emotions I thought were put to rest over this last year. It all started when we set up our search parameters: 3 bedroom, 1+ bath. Since Larry works at home, a three-bedroom house makes sense: a master bedroom for us, an office for Larry, and "room to grow."

"Room to grow..." We've defaulted to this phrase at each home tour and open house. And every time I say it, I won't lie: it's tinged with sadness.

I know we'll be parents. I know we'll have a family. And I know we will probably never be able to do it the old-fashioned way, short of a miracle. Even after a year, even after all these positive, hopeful, advocacy-driven posts - it still hurts. It still cuts deep. I wander through these houses and these empty rooms, envisioning nurseries painted in soft pastels and knowing that Team Zoll #3 will never be half of Team Zoll #1 and Team Zoll #2. It doesn't matter. If it did, we'd never consider adoption or IF treatments in the first place.

But just because it doesn't matter doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt sometimes. It's in these rare, unguarded moments these feelings seep in, a heavy air of doubt and sadness.

All of this money we're pouring into buying a home pushes back our family building timeline substantially. I know we'll grow, I know we'll fill that third room. But now we have to wait even longer. Life happens. You make the best decisions you can in each moment. I know I can't live my life wanting for the future or weeping for the past. Life must be lived in the moment. I get that. I know that. Logical Keiko totally understands that 100%.

But damn if it doesn't just knock you down to your knees with worry and hesitation, the wind sucked clear out of your lungs and you find your self clawing at the air just to breathe.

"And room to grow..." This empty room we don't even have yet. This room whose descriptor lingers unresolved, hinting wryly at possibility but laced with uncertainty - hanging uncomfortably, the sentence unfinished and trailing off into the unknown.

I know we'll get there. I know it is going to be a hell of a lot harder and more expensive than we ever thought it would be. I know it's going to take time. I know I have to be strong. I have to be hopeful. I have to be positive. I have to live in the moment. I have to focus on what's in front of me and making it through each day before I can worry about ten tomorrows from now.

But sometimes I need to feel afraid. I need to feel sad. I need to feel like there isn't hope for a few moments, let all of those demons and grief fill the empty room in my head. I let them rush in like banshees and spirits and spectres.

And then I cast them out.

The room is empty, quiet again for a bit, waiting to be filled.


Photo by Christian Kadluba via Flickr.