Showing posts with label Support. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Support. 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 28, 2011

"When I Think, I Must Speak."

Do you not know I am a woman? when I think, I must
speak. Sweet, say on.
(As You Like It, III.ii)

"Pardon me, but I have a few things to say on the matter."
I must express a huge thank you to everyone who commented on my post yesterday about sharing controversial opinions. All this time I've been worried about offending people when the consensus seems to be from everyone: this IS my blog and I shouldn't hold myself back. It's all a matter of tact and approach, which given my mood on any given day could be stellar or disastrous ;)

This is all very timely as I mentioned with JJiraffe's recent post about blog comments and today's assignment for SITS31DBBB. For today's activity, we're supposed to spend time commenting on other blogs and exploring why we leave comments in the first place.

I've realized that I leave comments on other blogs because I've connected in some way with what's been written, whether I can relate to the experience and thoughts shared, am responding to a call to action or call for support, or responding to a question. In a niche that has some incredible Good News posts and some truly heartbreaking Very Bad News posts, I at the very least try to keep up and say a quick Mazel Tov or I'm So Sorry, respectively, at the very least.

I also would love to engage more in the conversation happening ON my blog. If Blogger didn't suck so hard*, I would respond to comments directly in-thread. I tried to do that on my last couple of posts but again, since Blogger suuuuucks the most I can do is comment on my own posts with a lil "@So-and-So" mention, I couldn't really keep up with the comments.

*But you know where you can reply in-thread? WordPress! And that's why I'm moving there folks. Mark your calendars: August 1, 2011 - Hannah Wept, Sarah Laughed is moving to WordPress. Props to Mel, after her frank advice about self-hosting + WP when we met last November and hearing it repeated by many other bloggers since. I'm going the self-hosting route with much trepidation and excitement. I will blog about the big move more after July 1st.

Wait, what exactly does commenting have to do with what I post?

In thinking about why I leave comments, it's allowed me to really think about the comments people left yesterday about whether or not they would be offended, comment or not comment on posts that might be otherwise controversial.

So yes, I'm going to man up and write about all of those things I threw out there yesterday. Bear with me though - I need to plug them into my calendar to really set aside the time to shape them into well-thought out, tactful posts.

But before I let this conversation come to a close, I wanted to highlight a couple of comments that stuck out for me from yesterday's post:

From my dear friend Evedelilah:
We as infertiles understand better than most that life is messy. Its not all happy feelings and smiles. And I believe that since the blog is mine, or in this case yours, that you have a right, and an obligation to share all of it. The good and the bad.
She reminded me of the very title of my blog: Hannah wept, Sarah laughed. The good AND the bad and all the messy in between. That's why I started this blog in the first place, as a safe place to just get it all out there.

From TeamBabyCEO:
I am also of the mindset that I respect your right to an opinion different from mine, because I may learn something, or think about something differently than I once did.
This goes right back to the idea of blogging as a dialogue. If we read nothing but things we agreed with all the time, the blogosphere would be pretty damn boring.

From Esperanza:
Your blog is different because while much of your content is just about your life and what you think and feel, you do put up well-researched educational post about infertility and other topics that are important to you. Does this mean that you can't put up what might be controversial opinion pieces too? I don't think it excludes you from doing so but it might make you think twice before you do it.
Esperanza brings up a great point. While the blog was started solely as a personal emotional outlet, since everything exploded with my video, I feel a genuine commitment to give back to this community in responsible ways.

I say that because when I wrote my post about getting a mammogram, I got called out by a physician who said that I was giving the impression this was standard testing for women with POI. In fact, it was just my doc at the time being an overcautious wackadoo. This physician initially wanted me to remove the post because it sounded like I was giving out bad medical advice for women with POI, but I kept it anyway for a variety of reasons.

Esperanza's comment reminds me of the level of social responsibility that has inadvertently become a very key aspect of my blog.

The next three comments gave me insight on how to approach all this controversy.

From Junebug:
As for my philosophy as a blogger: I don't get controversial very often but when I do I discuss my issue with respect and I don't call people names. I do worry about offending people but I work hard to respond the way I would want people to respond to me if I was on the other side.
From Jonelle:
The worst time was when my best friend (who has her own history with IF and pregnancy loss) was pregnant. There were so many emotions going on with me and I didn't have the heart to click 'publish' because I was afraid of hurting her feelings and jepordizing our friendship. It killed me that I couldn't express myself in my blog. I finally did write a post which I expressed my feelings, but it was so lightly glossed over and not remotely the post that showed all my true feelings.
From Whitney:
I, too, blog publicly with my name and my friends and family follow me -- sometimes that limits me as I'm afraid to post certain things. But, I discovered that instead of just making a blanket statement about things that were hurtful, but rather really explaining it in depth worked.
The takeaway message from all three is context and authenticity. I need to be genuine about the way I feel on these subjects, but I also need to write about them in a way that doesn't alienate people in the process.

And then there was this very humbling comment from reader Mirjam, who runs a Children's Rehabilitation Home in the Ukraine:
I am also afraid offending people and I work in a country you need to be wise, how you express your self. In Ukraine we don't have the freedom to express our selfs.
I had no idea anyone from Ukraine read this blog. I have such an American ethnocentric point of view that I'm always amazed even when someone from Canada leaves a comment ;) Mirjam's comment really made me stop and think about the incredible privilege I have of free speech. It just made me appreciate that privilege I have as an American blogger and maybe I shouldn't be complaining about self-censorship in the first place.

Sometimes, I should write what's in my heart if only for the privilege of writing.

So be on the lookout this summer. I'll talk about why I don't want to be a mom to twins and why life without kids can be actually, quite rad. (I already know my "life without kids" post is going to be centered around five days with a little black and yellow Corvette and copious amounts of oysters, butter fat, and wine.)

I'll try to approach the whole posting about your kids on FB posts with some practical advice and honesty and not sugarcoat the reality of how I feel about it.

And if you're lucky, I'll get to cervical mucus and birth control before the autumn.

Thanks for helping me remain in perspective and for keeping this dialogue going.

June 14, 2011

A Fathers' Day Twitterview with RESOLVE & "I Want to Be a Daddy"

As I mentioned yesterday, even though it's Men's Health Week, we don't often hear the male side of the infertility journey. With Fathers' Day just around the corner, this is especially timely. There are a few elusive male voices out there (emphasis on the few). But the guys who are out there really help to shed some light on what is so often a woman-centric subject.

Take for example, Brittanie's husband Ben, over at Fertilize This! He busted a myth for NIAW about his experience as a man with male-factor infertility. Or Rain's husband at Weathering the Storm - she interviewed him about his experience with male-factor infertility and how it affects their marriage.And then there are awesome guys like my husband, Larry, who wrote a guest post of his perspective of being married to someone with female-factor infertility.

And then there's Alec, over at I Want to Be a Daddy. Are you reading him? You aren't? Well, you should. Alec has become a rising voice in the infertility community from the ever-elusive male perspective. He spells it out exactly right in his blog's description:
My wife JK and I went through a 2 1/2 year odyssey of infertility. It was a painful time. The emotional toll was as real for me as it was for JK. Friends who had survived infertility helped me to cope, and thus I hope that our story will help others.

Now this is the kind of voice we need to hear out there! This Friday, there's a unique opportunity to engage with Alec and RESOLVE, as they host a Twitterview with Alec at 2pm EST. From MyDestinationFamily.org:
On June 17th, leading up to this coming Father’s Day, RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and MyDestinationFamily.org will honor this shared struggle through a personal and informative Twitterview with Alec Ross, blogger at I Want to Be a Daddy and regular contributor at FertilityAuthority. Alec will help to shed light on the all too silent male side of infertility in this one-hour Twitter exchange with executive director of RESOLVE, Barb Collura. He will speak to the two-and-a-half year infertility battle he and his wife faced, and the ups and downs that they continue to face today.


Wait, what's a Twitterview?
It's kind of like a public conversation, but since it's Twitter, it's like having that public conversation in a sea of a million voices. The conversation stands out by using a dedicated hashtag to differentiate this conversation's tweets from all the others. In this case, the dedicated hashtag for the Twitterview is #tvFD (for Father’s Day TwitterView).

How do I follow along?


When is this Twitterview again?
This Friday, June 17th, at 2pm EST. Join in or follow along to hear about the impact that infertility plays on Fathers' Day and the male experience with infertility. I know it's going to be an informative, engaging and emotional conversation. I'm really looking forward to it.

Hope to see folks tweeting and retweeting away on Friday!

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.

June 3, 2011

5 Infertility Books for Great Summer Reads

Welcome to the first of a 5-part* series of infertility book reviews to be published every other Friday this summer! While there are many books about infertility out there, I wanted to highlight a handful of some newer titles and some old classics. These books aren’t exactly beach reads - I imagine folks might look at you funny if you’re reading say, Toni Weschler’s Taking Charge of Your Fertility while sunning in your finest bikini - but they’re quick enough reads packed with great information that you can pick up casually over the summer.

If you’re interested in the full list of infertility books sitting on my shelves at home, head over to my Resources page. *There might be a lil bonus book thrown in there, if you notice the big gap in July below :)

Infertility Summer Reading Series Featured Books
  1. Conquering Infertility by Dr. Ali Domar - (Read the review from June 3)
  2. Inconceivable by Carolyn and Sean Savage - (Read the review from June 17)
  3. Good Eggs: A Memoir by Phoebe Potts (Read the review from July 1)
  4. Silent Sorority by Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos (July 29)
  5. Navigating the Land of If by Melissa Ford (August 12)

Feel free to start reading ahead or wait until after the review goes up. All I ask is that comments stay on topic to the book reviewed that week. So, let's dive right into the first book of the Infertility Summer Reading Series!


Conquering Infertility: Dr. Alice Domar's Mind/Body Guide to Enhancing Fertility and Coping with Infertility by Dr. Alice Domar

Recommended to me by: Melissa Ford, Stirrup Queens

The Review: Read the introduction. I know that sounds totally boring, but trust me: the introduction is totally the book's hook. As I read each line, I starting ticking off notes in the margins, nodding along with all of Dr. Domar's statements about the emotions I have felt in my infertility journey. I started looking around the room for the hidden camera because honestly, it was like I was reading my own journey in someone else's book. And what a book it is.

Conquering Infertility explores the vast spectrum of infertility's impact in our lives, from our marriage to our relationships with our friends and family and even G-d, to our careers and our own dark thoughts. Throughout her exploration, Dr. Domar offers practical tips for surviving the largest and smallest crises along our journey. The focus of these coping skills is centered on the mind/body technique. It's not that we can think and positively wish our problems away (a la The Secret), rather, we can physically induce our bodies into a state of physiological relaxation where our breathing and heart rate have slowed. The belief is then that by reducing our mental stress, we also reduce the physiological stress we place on our bodies. Thus, we live healthier lives.

Dr. Domar leaps fully into this in Chapter 2: A Toolbox Full of Coping Skills. This is by far one of the most valuable chapters of the book. Offering a variety of relaxation methods: from guided imagery to mindfulness techniques - this chapter gives the reader a set of very practical skills they can carry with them for just about any stage of the infertility journey. I especially was fond of the "minis" - little 1-2 minute simple relaxation exercises that have practical application from hearing bad news from the doctor to when someone cuts you off in traffic (which, if you live in MA like I do, is all but normal here). The minis are a must for everyone!

Conquering Infertility also examines the notion of cognitive restructuring: recognizing and acknowledging the bevy of negative thoughts and emotions that cross through our minds, and then taking them apart and examining them for what they are. We might tell ourselves the myth that we are failures or broken, but when you really take that thought apart, you can see that it's nothing more than a myth, that our value as a woman is not determined by our (in)ability to bear children. Dr. Domar weaves the idea of cognitive restructuring throughout the book as we address the thoughts we have as we relate to our spouses, our friends and family, coworkers- even G-d.

I was particularly engaged in the section about Infertility and Your Career. Whether it was the simple advice of making sure to know where the most private bathroom at work is located (so should Aunt Flo arrive, you can cry in comfort) to deciding whether or not to tell your boss, I was rather invested in this section as I prepare to navigate treatment within the next six months. I did feel the section ended with a broader message of "if you can quit your job, do it" - and that didn't sit well with me. It feeds into the larger stereotype that infertility is a rich white woman's problem and well, some of us just don't have the financial luxury to become full-time infertility patients.

The Appendices offer some quick hits on everything from caffeine and herbs to exercise and body weight. They provide readers with a good foundation to encourage further research on those topics that pique their interest. The second appendix lists various resources; while the resources themselves are valuable, their contact information is outdated as the book was last printed in 2004 (e.g., RESOLVE is no longer based in Somerville, MA). I would search for the resources by name on Google first before trying to call any of the phone numbers or sending emails to those listed in the appendices.

Quotable Moment: Wonderfully wise words from Dr. Domar on the value of relaxation (emphasis mine):
“Try to do it every day, but if you miss one day, don’t judge yourself; simply try to do it the next day. Before you begin to develop a relaxation ritual, you must accept on a deep level that you deserve to take twenty minutes out of your day for mental and psychological relaxation. You need it, you have a right to it, and it will benefit your health. Don’t feel guilty about telling your husband or others that you need this time for yourself - after all, it will indirectly benefit those around you.”
Rating:  (out of a possible 5 tasty pomegranates) Conquering Infertility is a really powerful read and still very relevant nearly 10 years after its first publication. To have received 5 tasty pomegranates, I would like to see an updated edition with including updated research and resources since its second printing in 2004. Conquering Infertility is a quick but thorough read with the the acute quality to pick it up and be inspired when you need it at all the stages of your infertility journey.

Food for Further Thought: While Dr. Domar wrote her book in 2002, there's been much research addressing the possible link between stress and infertility. As she notes, infertility breeds a vicious cycle: we're stressed that we can't get pregnant, stress impedes our fertility, we seek treatment, we get stressed about treatment before and afterward, and so on. However, a recent major meta-study just a few months ago claims there is in fact no link between stress and fertility. It's a pendulum game like so may other medical studies: we hear that red wine is good for us one day and bad the next. Cell phones are fine and then the next week, WHO announces they could actually give us cancer. So goes the pendulum for the link between infertility and stress. At the end of the day though, we know that stress does a number of crazy things to the human body, so whether mind/body techniques can help get you pregnant or not, is it all worth it to give you a better quality of (stress-relieved or stress-free) life?

Have you read Conquering Infertility? And what about conflicting recent research on stress and its possible link to infertility - what do you think? Don't forget to come back in two weeks when I review the new memoir, Inconceivable. And if you pick up Conquering Infertility and give it a read, circle back here and share your thoughts on the book!

May 10, 2011

How You Can Help the Atlanta Walk of Hope This Weekend

This Saturday, May 14, RESOLVE is hosting a Walk of Hope in Atlanta, Georgia. So often we say to ourselves, "Where's our walk?" Well... here it is! In addition to being a great fundraiser for the folks at RESOLVE, the Walk of Hope provides a chance to very publicly raise awareness for an otherwise very private disease. It's exactly the kind of event the infertility community needs. And if you're feeling brave enough, Kim over at The Ladies in Waiting Book Club has come up with a very creative way for you to participate without having to even go to Atlanta.

Kim and her team will be walking on Saturday in Atlanta, and they want to walk for you too:

May we walk for you?

My team and I would like to collect names from you (first, or last, or even just your screen name - doesn't matter to us!). On the day of the Walk, we'll take this list of names and write them on our t-shirts before the walk begins. We'd love to represent you along with our own families of two, no matter where you are on your journey. We hope to have our t-shirts completely covered in the names of the many infertile families we wish to represent.
To particpate, simply leave your name (however you wish it to be listed) in a comment to Kim's post about their Walk of Hope project here. Once you've added your name - and I hope you will! - why not consider posting about it on Facebook or Twitter? Here's a sample tweet:

@liwbookclub will walk for me & my #infertility at ATL #WalkofHope. I added my name; will you add yours? http://bit.ly/mqfmhC

You can also help out Kim and her team out by making a donation; see their Ladies in Waiting Team Page for more details. They're only 30% away from their goal of raising $750. It would be amazing if Kim and the Ladies in Waiting Team could have their shirts filled with names, to represent the millions of us living with infertility.

In fact, I'll make this pledge:

If 100 names are added in the comments on Kim's post between now (10am on Wednesday, 5/10) and 10pm Friday night, 5/13: I will donate $50 to the Ladies in Waiting Team for the Walk of Hope. If they reach 500 names or more total, I will donate $100.

If there's anyone willing to match this pledge, let me know in the comments. Be sure to post on your blog, Facebook, and Twitter (hell, you can even just swipe this whole post, I have no shame) to advertise if you'll join me in this pledge.

So, have you left your name for The Ladies in Waiting Walk of Hope Team yet?

May 4, 2011

Gearing Up for Advocacy Day

I've got the shoes - slip-on heels that are uber-comfy. And there's a backup pair of flip flops in my shoulder bag just in case. That's been the #1 piece of advice I've gotten from all of the other bloggers I've asked who have participated in Advocacy Day: make sure you have comfortable shoes.

I'm so. freaking. excited. for tomorrow. After work today, I hop onto a flight down to DC amd then starting bright and early at 7:30am tomorrow, Advocacy Day begins with on-site registration and breakfast. We train from 8am to about 10am, and then it's off to the Senate Office Building. I was thrilled to read on Friday's Advocacy Day update email that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) will speak to our group at 9am before we head out! Rep. Schultz was one of the 20 co-sponsors of the Family Building Act of 2009 and is a vocal supporter of the infertility community. She spoke with members of RESOLVE in support of our community at a Congressional briefing on infertility last April. I am ver yexcited to hear her speak.

I'm nervous about tomorrow.

The other folks I've talked to have all assurred me there's really no reason to be nervous. Larry said it best to me last night, "What's the worst that could happen? They say to you, 'Thanks for sharing your story with me?'" He raises a very salient argument there. But I can't help it; I'm still nervous. Maybe it's more nervous excitement. I know I'll be in the company of over 100 people representing 18 states who will be doing the exact same thing: meeting with legislators and/or their staffers, advocating for infertility awareness and some key action items. And it's not like we'll be unprepared: we have plenty of materials we've been given over the last few weeks, there are resources online, and we'll be getting that last-minute training rally first thing tomorrow morning.

Still... I'm nervous :)

I'll also be really candid here: this whole OBL thing? Makes me nervous about retaliation. As much as I think it's important to release the photos eventually, I'm just praying the White House doesn't decide to drop those today or tomorrow. Like, seriously folks? Can you just wait until the weekend for that? Please? Thanks. It's been a few years since I lived in the DC area, but even when we still had the colored terror threat system, I know how the region gets in times of increased security. I had to put this (slightly irrational) fear out there: name it, own it, and realize that there's not really a whole helluva lot I can do about it.

Tomorrow I'll be speaking with folks on Capitol Hill about three key issues:
  1. Infertility is a disease. I know it seems like such a no-brainer to all of us. Yet, even though WHO and ASRM define infertility as a disease, we haven't gotten that yet from the CDC. More on that further below.
  2. Getting support for a possible Family Tax Credit Bill. Similar to the Adoption Tax Credit, a bill has been drafted (but not proposed officially) that would offer infertility patients a credit of their infertility-related out-of-pocket expenses. It would certainly supplement folks like me who live in a mandated state, but would be a tremendous help to the 35 other states with no infertility mandate. As I will be meeting with Senator Kerry's staff, you better believe I will close the deal on asking him to originate the bill rather that just co-sponsoring, as he's on both the Senate Finance Committee and its Healthcare subcommittee.
  3. Asking our legislators to follow-up with the CDC to inquire about the status of last year's National Action Plan for Infertility. This was a huge step forward for our community: the CDC last year committed to researching and funding a National Action Plan for "an emerging public health priority." (That's how the CDC refers infertility - not as a disease. You can see why issue #1 is important to discuss with legislators.) However, all work has stopped on the Action Plan. We want to get our legislators to commit to pushing the CDC to move forward with their work or to at the very least, find out why work has stopped.
Throw in the mix some highlights of our journey- like the fact that despite the fact that I live in a state that leads the nation in mandated coverage, we're still looking at $15-20K out of pocket - my effervescent charm, and hopefully, a little luck - it looks like it's going to be one amazing day.

I also want to give a very public shout out to both Melissa from Stirrup Queens and Julie from A Little Pregnant: when I asked each of them, they were both very kind to give me some fantastic advice about what to expect tomorrow. They've both really taken a lot of the edge off of the nervousness.

I'll be updating throughout the day on Twitter, so if you're not already following me @miriamshope, that will be the place to read about all of my adventures on Capitol Hill tomorrow. I will of course have a huge update post on Friday with pictures, reflections, and maybe a little video. We'll see how much I can cram in tomorrow and how fast I can edit any footage.

So with that folks, I'm off. If you're going to DC, look for the gal in the dark teal blue shirt and dark grey pants; I'll be wearing a yellow RESOLVE bracelet too. Feel free to come over and say hi - I love to meet folks IRL. For those on the blogosphere, read about my exploits on Twitter tomorrow. And to all: come back Friday and read the recap.

Oh, and wish me luck :)

May 2, 2011

Nat'l Infertility Awareness Week 2011 Highlight Reel

It's hard to believe that National Infertility Awareness Week is already over. What an incredible week it was! I got to meet so many new people and be exposed to so many more blogs and resources out there... it was really just a phenomenal experience. I can't believe how much more involved I was this year and I have to say, it felt great to make those connections to and to offer that kind of support to others.

After such a whirlwind week, I wanted to share some of those moments, blog posts, and other goodies around the web that stood out for me this week. I present to you my personal Highlight Reel for NIAW 2011:

The Blogosphere
Twitter
Other Media

...Now what?
Just because National Infertility Awareness Week is over, it doesn't mean the work is done. The next big thing is Advocacy Day this Thursday. Believe it or not, there is still time to sign up. There are over 100 participants and at least 18 states represented... and there's room for more! Find out how you can participate in Advocacy Day either in DC or in your home state. I'll be going to DC for my very first Advocacy Day; I'm so excited! If you're going, leave me a comment or shoot me an email.

What other awesome things did you come across on the web this week? Share your resources and great NIAW finds in the comments!

April 27, 2011

Dispatches from My Better Half: A Guest Post by My Husband

While I'm happy to take the microphone and do all the talking, I'm stepping off the stage today to shine some light on someone who deserves just as much attention and credit: my fantastic husband, Larry. I'm blessed to have found my soulmate and to have someone who dives head and heart-first into our family-building adventures with me. I hope you'll enjoy his unique take on things as the "elusive male point of view."

. . .

For a long time, Keiko’s been asking me to write a guest post and for a long time – thanks to my unabashed sense of procrastination – I haven’t. I haven’t really known what to say. Keiko has built herself quite the readership and become a fairly prominent fixture in the infertility community. I, like many husbands in our situation, have hung back. I’ve been here to provide my unconditional love and support, but I’ve never felt it was my place to speak out. It wasn’t my body that was having havoc wreaked on it and it wasn’t my body by which I felt betrayed.

I have to say, in some ways, I think Keiko’s diagnosis was, to be cliché, a blessing in disguise. Keiko has always been the one on my arm for business events and at various other gatherings of my peers where the attendance of a spouse who knows no one is absolutely required. It’s brought me a lot of joy over the past year to be on the other side of that coin. When we go to an event for RESOLVE or anything regarding the infertility community, Keiko is the one who is in the spotlight, she is the one who is recognized for the hard work she does for this community and I’m the one on her arm. And although I know the only reason she’s even here is because of a condition she never asked for or wanted, she’s been able to turn that pain into motivation and a directed sense of purpose that I’ve never seen in her before... and for that I’m thankful. She asked me to write about my feelings regarding our whole situation, this curveball that neither of us ever expected. It’s hard to sum that up into a few paragraphs, but her strength through the whole thing has been absolutely inspiring.

When we were at the RESOLVE of New England conference last November, Keiko asked me to attend a session that was specifically for husbands of women who couldn’t conceive on their own. I agreed, begrudgingly, because you know, I’m a man. I don’t need any of that stuff. But I came out of it with two very interesting insights.

First was that I wasn’t alone in my philosophy about the whole situation. From the very beginning, I’ve always told Keiko that to me it didn’t matter how we had a family as long as we had one, and no one could stop us from doing that. I don’t care if a child is 100% genetically ours, 50%, or 0%. Genetics only get you so far in life, and to be honest, between the two of us there are plenty that don’t need to get passed on. What really matters is imparting the knowledge and, dare I say, wisdom of my vast 29 years.

Having a family isn’t about a kid who has my hair (which is receding anyway, thanks to my genes); it’s about raising a child with our values and teaching them to have their own. To my surprise, most of the other guys in the group felt the same way. What’s important is the end result: being a family. I’ve felt that way since day one. So while I feel for Keiko with every cell in my body, her condition has never negatively affected my image of her, because regardless of how it happens we’ll always be able to have that family one way or another. And it will never affect her ability to be the wonderful mother I know she’ll be.

The second thing I came away from that group with was slightly more science-y. The guy who ran the session had done vast amounts of research on the emotional toll this situation takes on the husband. He’s found on average men lag about 3 years behind women in terms of emotional response. Now I don’t think that in a year I’m going to be sitting at my desk one minute and bawling the next. That’s just not how I operate. I bring it up though in hopes that some husbands and wives out there may take some solace in the idea that you may not be responding the same way as the other all the time; just because he’s not there crying next to you doesn’t mean or imply that he’s any less affected or that he doesn’t care. We just run on different timelines. It has never been a factor in my level of support for Keiko. My brain just processes the whole thing a little bit differently.

I don’t really know how to end this. I’ve done my fair share of writing, but never on something that’s so personal. I usually wrap up my articles with a succinct piece of poignant advice, but that doesn’t seem so apropos here. So I’ll just say that I hope a point of view from the other side was a little bit helpful and gives just a peek into what may be going on in the mind of those who care for you the most.

April 20, 2011

National Infertility Awareness Week 2011: What's Happening Around the Blogosphere

APRIL 24 - 30, 2011
National Infertility Awareness Week is literally just around the corner! NIAW stands for so many things in our community: support, empowerment, awareness-raising, hope. In many ways, NIAW is about community and how we strengthen each other in our journeys by raising awareness for our disease.

There are many ways you can get involved with NIAW and I encourage you to participate in ways that you're comfortable. Besides the ever-growing list of NIAW events happening all around the country, I wanted to take a minute to highlight some of the various things happening around the infertility blogosphere and what you can do right from the comfort of your own computer. Whether it's raising awareness via social media, an online book club, writing a blog post or entering a giveaway, there are a variety of ways you can get involved as an infertility blogger. Check out what's out there in the list below!


+ BLOG CARNIVALS

Bust an Infertility Myth: Bloggers Unite!
Sponsored by RESOLVE, bloggers are invited to bust a myth about infertility via a blog post. You can pick from RESOLVE's list of infertility myths or select one of your own. Each participating blog will then be considered for RESOLVE's Night of Hope Award for Best Blog.  Snag a badge and don't forget to add your participating blog post to the list here.

IF We Believe! A Blog Carnival about the Stories and Faces of Infertility
Sponsored by blogger Up, Down and Natural, IF We Believe! is a blog carnival with a mission of tearing down the veil of infertility, and being able to express all the emotions, and daily infertility experience from the highs and lows, and everything in between. IF We Believe! Anything Is Possible... Particpating blogs will be entered into a drawing to win 20 ovulation predictor strips. See Arpita's blog for more info and submit your post online here.

IComLeavWe: April 21-28, 2011
Hosted by blogger Melissa Ford of Stirrup Queens, ICLW is like a blog comment carnival. Bloggers sign up to be added to a list of participating blogs and commit to commenting on at least 5 blogs and returning 1 comment left on their blog each day of ICLW. It's a great way to find new blogs and April's ICLW always lines up with NIAW. Bloggers have until 11:00PM EST on April 21st to sign up for April's ICLW and must add an ICLW badge on their blog. Sign up here.


+ SOCIAL MEDIA AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS

Share Hope (#sharehope) Twitter Campaign
Sponsored by Clear Passage, the Share Hope campaign seeks to raise awareness in 140 characters or less on Twitter during NIAW. Beginning on April 24, tweet your infertility story with hashtag #sharehope. Each day of NIAW, one tweet will be selected as the daily prize winner and will receive a book by a well-respected fertility professional; each of those winners will be entered into a Grand Prize drawing for 20 hours of free hands on infertility treatment at Clear Passage Physical Therapy. See their website for full details.

NIAW Twibbon Campaign
Sponsored by RESOLVE and MyDestinationFamily.org, a Twibbon adds a tiny RESOLVE logo to your Twitter or Facebook profile picture. One simple click can help raise awareness for a disease that affects 1 out of every 8 couples in the United States. Click the link to add your twibbon today!

Download an Infertility Ribbon
Bloggers Whitney and Erick think it's high time the infertility community has their own ribbon- so they've made one to share online! Snag a version for your blog, your Facebook or Twitter profile pictures, or even add to your email signatures. You can really get creative. Check out Whitney and Erick's blog to snag the codes.



+ VIRTUAL BOOK CLUB

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
Sponsored by the Law Offices of Amy Demma, they'll discuss Jodi Picoult's new book: Sing You Home. They invite all of their friends from within the infertility community (both colleagues and those trying to conceive) as well as friends, families and loved ones who want to support those struggling to build a family. Join in the discussions and posts on their Facebook page today!



+ GIVEAWAYS, CONTESTS AND PROMOTIONS

Vote for Parenthood for Me!
You have until 11:59 PST on Friday, April 22nd to vote for Parenthood for Me for the 2011 Leading Moms in Business competition, sponsored by Discover. Parenthood for Me is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to provide financial and emotional support to those building families through adoption or medical intervention. They raise funds to award family-building grants to those living with infertility. You can vote once daily, so do it today, tomorrow and Friday!

Save $5 on The IVF Companion During NIAW
Are you about to undergo your first IVF? Your third IVF cycle? Consider organizing yourself with The IVF Companion, a guided personal organizer with tons of resources for making sense of your IVF cycle. Check back after April 23rd to get the promo code.

Blogger Giveaway
Sponsored by blogger In Due Time, she'll be giving away items every day of NIAW. Check back on her blog for all the details.


*If you're hosting an event like these listed above and would like to be added to this list, send me an email to miriamshope {at} gmail {dot} com.

Soundoff! How will you be participating in National Infertility Awareness Week this year?

April 19, 2011

Calling All Health Activist Bloggers

As some of you know, I'm a member of WEGO Health, a community hub for health activists in all areas of health interests, conditions, and diagnoses. It's a pretty nifty community and I highly recommend it if you're in the health industry in any way. I even won their Vlog Contest last year. They have a lot of neat resources for health activists, including a webinar this Thursday that I'll be "at" online.

Here are all the details:

With Health Activist Panel with Lisa E, Erin B, Jenni P, and Amanda D
Thursday April 21st 8-9pm EST
Sign up here and get all the details

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The webinar is for anyone from seasoned bloggers to blog-readers who want to start their own blog. The webinar will cover the basics of blogging and include more advanced tips and tricks for promoting posts, managing your time, and establishing your blog “voice” and how to raise awareness about your condition through blogging. By signing up you’ll also have a chance to ask specific questions for the Health Activist panel that will be answered during the live Q&A portion of the webinar. You’ll also get access to the archived version of the webinar.

I would highly recommend this for both my newest readers who've just started blogging as well as those of you "old pros" reading this out there. From an infertility standpoint, it should be an engaging session to see how we're crafting our own stories to not only benefit ourselves, but hopefully to benefit others who read our blogs, be they friends, family, fellow bloggers, or just the random visitor from a Google search.

And to end in full disclosure: by posting this on my blog, I’m also being entered for a chance to win $100 or a $100 donation to the health charity of my choice. For more information and to find out how you can participate in this blog contest, click here: WEGO Health Blogger Contest.

April 14, 2011

Talking About POF Today on The Surrogacy Lawyer Radio Show

Do you have one free hour at 11am PST/2pm EST today? Want to know more about premature ovarian failure? Tune in to Theresa Erickson's The Surrogacy Lawyer Radio Program today to hear me and Evelina Sterling from Rachel's Well talk about POF, menstrual health, and share a few insights on this PETA thing.


More info about today's show:

Misconceptions abound about the range and limits of female fertility. Despite concerted infertility education efforts, both the public and young women almost always are shocked to learn that female fertility starts to decline at age 27. But one to four percent of women under 40 will be faced with the even more shocking diagnosis of premature ovarian failure (POF). POF is a loss of ovarian function occurring at too young an age to be considered natural, although premature, menopause. Not only will these young women potentially lose their reproductive capabilities, but they also are at greater risk for heart disease and osteoporosis. A variety of medical conditions can cause POF, but doctors can not always identify one.

On the April 14 episode of The Surrogacy Lawyer: Your Guide to IVF and Third Party Family Building, Theresa Erickson, Esq., will be discussing this rare, but devastating condition with Evelina Weidman Sterling, a highly respected health educator and author, and Keiko Zoll, an infertility blogger who was motivated to become an infertility advocate after her own diagnosis of POF several years ago. The show will air on Thursday, April 14 at 11AM PST/2PM EST on Voice America.

April 10, 2011

PETA Update #5: An Email from PETA President Ingrid Newkirk

Knock me over with a feather this morning when I actually got an email from Ms. Ingrid Newkirk herself:


FROM: "Ingrid Newkirk" [IngridN@peta.org]
TO: Me
DATE: Sun, Apr 10, 2011 at 7:48 AM
SUBJECT: Thank You.
mailed-bypeta.org


Thanks, we will look at that right away.

Also, thank you very much for your adoption of the beautiful cats and for suggesting people help their local shelters. We are not in favor of “no kill” terminology as it leaves the dirty work to the open admission shelters. You might enjoy our other website, helpinganimals.com. We operate three full time spay/neuter clinics for indigent people’s animals, and others who will not or cannot afford full price. It not only does spays/neuters, but helps with fleas, ear cleanings, even surgeries for animals who spend their entire lives chained to a dirt patch or living under a trailer, etc. You may wish to look at and pass on the links of some of the animals who are taken in, that “no kill” shelters will usually not touch as they are not adoptable. Someone has to touch them. We get a lot of criticism for being so “impure” as to do so rather than leave the dirty work to others. Some of the pics are tough to look at...

[Ms. Newkirk included a list of links that I've truncated here for space.]

 . . .

I'll definitely be following up this week to make sure the link/reference has been removed from their Features directing page. EDIT: As of 12PM EST Monday, April 11th, the language has been removed. I can now consider this a complete victory.

We have been heard indeed, from the highest level of PETA.

I'm so incredibly humbled by and proud of this community right now.

More thoughts tomorrow.

A 2nd Open Letter to PETA: Thank You


TO: "Ingrid Newkirk" [IngridN@peta.org]
CC: "Carrie Snider" [CarrieS@peta.org], "HollyAnne Dame" [HollyAnneD@petaf.org], "Tracy Reiman" [TracyR@peta.org], "Dan Mathews" [DanM@peta.org], "Lisa Lange" [LisaL@peta.org]
SUBJECT: A 2nd Open Letter to PETA re: Win a Vasectomy - Thank You
DATE: Sun, Apr 10, 2011 at 2:26 AM


Ingrid E. Newkirk, President
CC: Carrie Snider, Special Projects Coordinator; HollyAnn Dame, Membership Correspondent; Tracy Reiman, Executive Vice President; Dan Mathews, Senior Vice President of Campaigns; Lisa Lange, Senior Vice President of Communications
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
501 Front St.
Norfolk, VA 23510

Dear Ms. Newkirk,

It was recently brought to my attention that PETA has removed all links to National Infertility Awareness Week for your “Win a Vasectomy” campaign. On behalf of the 7.3 million people who cope with the disease of infertility every day:

Thank you.

Thank you for listening to our voices, our emails, our blog posts, our tweets, our website comments, our media coverage, our phone calls and messages, and our petition with 2,200+ signatures. Thank you for listening to your members and supporters who disagreed with this campaign’s tactics. Thank you for listening and hearing the voice of the infertility community. Believe me when I say we are deeply grateful for your decision to retract the association between these two campaigns.

Thank you for recognizing and acknowledging that infertility is not a joke, not a patient community who can be used to promote your organization’s aims at our expense.

I have asked my readers and followers to consider making a contribution to their local animal shelter as a way to say thank you to your organization in the wake of your decision to remove the link to NIAW. I personally will be making a contribution to the Northeast Animal Shelter in honor of this occasion, a no-kill shelter in my community that brought us our two lovely cats Saba and Toro (see picture below).

I do have one final, minute request of a technical note. While the landing page for the “Win a Vasectomy” campaign has removed all mention of NIAW, it appears the directing page under the Features tab still includes the “in honor of” language (http://www.peta.org/features/default.aspx). As someone who has worked with website management before, it appears to be a simple oversight error that this language was listed on this separate page. We would appreciate the immediate removal/updating of this language from the Features page as well if PETA would like to be consistent in honoring its commitment not to further offend our patient community.

Again, I would like to personally thank you, and thank you on behalf of the infertility community for removing the link to your campaign and NIAW.

Respectfully,
~Keiko Zoll
(and Saba & Toro)

Thanks, PETA.

April 9, 2011

PETA Update #4: Victory!

We did it, folks!

PETA has removed all references to National Infertility Awareness Week from their "Win a Vasectomy" campaign. I've closed the petition and we've come in at just over 2,200 signatures in just 3 days. This is an incredible victory for the infertility community.

Check out my vlog below for more information, and stay tuned for my open letter to PETA thanking them for hearing our voice and responding to our concerns.



Feel free to spread the good news!

April 7, 2011

PETA Update #3: Close, But No Cigar

It's been a crazy 48 hours. Let's recap:

First I sent PETA my open letter in response to their "Win a Vasectomy" campaign. Then PETA wrote back... and told me to "just adopt." So I wrote them back again (does this officially make us pen pals?) and they wrote me back again with a non-apology apology.

Then PETA issues a broader non-apology apology on their Facebook page that said, in a nutshell: "We're sorry you got so upset."

So then I posted a petition online at Change.org, urging signers to Tell PETA: Infertility Is Not a Joke. And as of 9PM EST today, 1700+ people think that PETA should formally apologize and immediately remove any link between their campaign and National Infertility Awareness Week.

I think this makes me and PETA BFFs now.

Other important things that have happened in the last 48 hours:

If this wasn't already obvious, the momentum on this campaign has picked up like wildfire. So after all this, how does PETA respond?

By changing "in honor of" NIAW to "during" NIAW.

Click to embiggen.

*golf clap*

Don't be fooled, readers. This isn't the victory we've been after just quite.

What would appear to be a real response is actually just a trollish attempt to appease the masses and probably keep their phones from ringing off the hook.

I've got to hand it to PETA: they rank among the likes of Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church when it comes to walking the line between literal and libel. In sum, I'm honestly impressed at not only how smug PETA is when it comes to engaging with their opposition, but at just how suave their trolling really is. In the battle of David vs. the Goliath, this little blogger is head to head with the pros.

Here's the thing about trolls. They love the attention and the vitriol spewed in the wake of their trolling. They feed on making you angry. That's why apart from this post, I've engaged in nothing but eloquent, well-researched, well-composed dialogue on my end. PETA, for the most part, has done the same, with the exception of telling me that "infertility is justified because the world is overpopulated" and that "as an infertile woman, I should just adopt." In all of my exchanges, I haven't resorted to profanity or name-calling. Believe me: I've been tempted.

But with this little tweak to PETA's campaign website, I'm calling out PETA for what they are: trolls. 

Trolling: an artist's rendition.
I'm not stupid and I know this one campaign has not happened in a vacuum. "Win a Vasectomy" in honor of/during NIAW is not a new tactic; this is merely standard M.O. for these folks. I'm well aware of some of their other controversial campaigns, such as comparing the consumption of meat to the Holocaust. And there's other less overt ways PETA exploits people at the expense of animals: PETA has no problem objectifying women in their ad campaigns.

What's the first rule of the internet? Don't feed the trolls. Here's the thing - I'm confident that PETA went after the infertility community because we're largely silenced; I honestly don't think PETA was expecting a response this vocal. Sometimes you have to feed the trolls - but give them food they don't like, such as solid research and stats, a commitment to no longer contribute to them financially, and mature, well-spoken arguments. If you resort to swearing and name-calling, they've won. You basically have to treat PETA like a small child: speak slowly, clearly, and repeat yourself ad nauseum until they understand. 

By changing "in honor of" to "during" and by issuing apologies that apologize for our reactions and not their actions, PETA is essentially patting us on our heads and hoping we'll go on our merry ways. We can't give in; we have to be relentless. Keep calling and leaving messages. Keep emailing them. Keep sharing the petition with others. Keep tweeting and posting on Facebook. Keep contacting the media (so far only Canada, Ireland and New Zealand have picked up PETA's stunt, but not our response).

If you chip away at a tree long enough, it will eventually fall over. The ball is still in PETA's court to do the right thing, and until then, we need to remind them of that... every day, every hour, every minute.

EDIT: On the flipside, I'd like to recommend Mel's very thoughtful post about this whole fiasco over at Stirrup Queens. It's easy to get caught up in the anger and emotion, but she makes some fantastic points about why this whole thing still matters. It's a nice counterpoint that promotes and encourages thoughtful dialogue about all of this. Check out Why I'm Not Talking about PETA.