Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Interview for ldsinfertility.org

So here are the interview questions and answers for being interviewed by ldsinfertility.org:
How long have you been dealing with infertility?
My husband and I have been struggling with infertility for four years. This struggle has included two miscarriages, thus far. My first miscarriage was after a year and a half of trying, while I was on clomid. The baby had no heartbeat on the ultrasound, and had stopped growing during week six. Though I had a miscarriage, which was difficult, I thought: "Hey I got pregnant, it'll happen again!" So we optimistically continued to try, and try, and...nothing. Finally after a year after our miscarriage, and no pregnancy on clomid, we sought the aid of a Reproductive Endocrinologist at The University of Utah, Reproductive Center. We did a few rounds of IUI's without results, which led us to do IVF. We did our first IVF cycle in May 2010 which resulted in my second miscarriage. We were devastated. What also makes it difficult is that we don't have an answer or diagnosis to explain why I have difficulty getting pregnant and maintaining pregnancy. We have unexplained infertility.
What has been the most hurtful thing someone has said or done? How have you responded?
Oh my goodness, I have a list. I'll try to keep this short and straight to the point. There are eight types of responses I've come across so far. Type 1: The Smug Mom-they brag about how easy it was for them to get pregnant. Type 2: The Joker-they feel uncomfortable, so they try to use humor, but in actuality they are humiliating you with their comments. Type 3: The Blamer: They validate everything bad you have thought about yourself. For instance: "You waited too long." Type 4: The Miserable Parent-they complain how hard it is to be a parent. Type 5: The Know-It-All. They say "Have you tried this or that?" or "You should try this or that." Type 6: God's Messenger- They say "Maybe it's God's way of telling you that you won't have kids and you should adopt." Type 7: Overly Anxious Person-who once you tell them you are struggling with infertility they will constantly check in on you. "Are you feeling okay today?" Type 8: The Innocent Child-in their world, only a mommy, a daddy and brothers and sisters exist. They don't understand and are confused that you don't have children. The most hurtful people I've come across so far have been Type 1, 4, and 6. There is no one or right way to respond because it depends on the situation. Sometimes I keep my mouth shut, while other times if I'm brave enough, I try to educate them about infertility.
What has been the most valuable thing someone has said or done? How have you responded?
Most of the time when I open up to people about our struggle with infertility, all they want to do is offer solutions. "Have you tried this or that?" Which is not helpful. But I have one really good friend who just listens to me. She doesn't judge or offer solutions, she listens and validates me, my fears, and my hopes. The most valuable thing has been having someone who listens.
Where have you found strength? How do you cope?
I find strength and hope through my own mother and my miracle "baby" sister. I am the oldest of four children, three of which she had no trouble getting pregnant with, but after my sister JaNae was born, the doctors found that she had endometriosis. I witnessed my mother struggle eight years following her third child to try to conceive again for a fourth child. Even I, at the age of ten can remember feeling as though someone was missing from our family. When I was ten she had a miscarriage, and finally two years later, and despite the doctors telling her that she wouldn't be able to have anymore children, she got pregnant with my baby sister Jessica. I feel the same way now, struggling with infertility. That someone is missing in our little family. I often will have dreams of a child, in particular a little girl, and being a mom. I try to draw strength due to my belief that the little spirit that is going to join our family is trying to tell me that they are there and waiting to join us too.
Of course the experience of infertility is filled with troubles, what has been the most challenging part of your journey?
I would say the most difficult and challenging part of infertility has been dealing with the roller coaster ride of emotions. Depression and isolation. Hope followed by disappointment, month after month, year after year. Especially when I finally saw a positive pregnancy test, only to find out I lost my babies. It's easy to let yourself finally become numb and lose faith. Women are already emotionally hormonal beings anyway. Add Infertility to your life, and your emotions are exacerbated ten times. One minute I'm fine, and the next minute, some thought or comment can trigger an emotional breakdown. Some days are so difficult that I just want to go home, straight to bed and cry. I recently began seeing a therapist whose been able to help me work through my grief and break down my barriers of fear.
The teachings of the Gospel are centered on families, how have you made sense of infertility within this framework? How have you found a place of belonging when it is easy to feel isolated and so different?
In all honesty, I do feel very isolated at church so it is difficult for me to answer this question. I not only feel isolated at church, but in society in general as well. I have, however found a place of belonging which is with my infertility support group through Resolve.org.
What advice would you give to other couples dealing with infertility?
Reach out and find others going through the same thing. Find a support group! Don't be afraid to open up about your struggle with infertility. Silence only makes it easier to isolate yourself and fall into depression. Talk to each other, and let your spouse know what you need or don't need from them. Take time to listen to what they need. For instance: My husband and I are on different pages when it comes to adoption. He's ready to adopt now, and I am not ready to take that step. We would get in arguments all the time about it. It wasn't until I listened to what his needs were, that I realized he needed to be reassured that I wasn't going to wait till I was 40 years old before I was going to consider adoption. I reassured him that I would do what ever it took to become a mother and that becoming a mother was more important than me becoming pregnant with our own biological child. I told him that I needed him not to pressure me into adoption when I wasn't ready for it. I told him that I know adoption is great and I see the good that comes from it, but seeing that adoption has helped other people doesn't negate the fears I have about adoption. I have to work through those fears before I could be ready to take that step. Even though we had a disagreement, by talking with each other, we are now on the same page, and we understand one another.
What is something you have learned that you would have not learned otherwise?
I've learned that I can not blame myself. I could try to find some lesson to be learned from this trial, but this is life, and part of life is suffering. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. I could torture myself with all of my imperfections and past sins to find a reason why we're struggling with infertility. But that is what Satan would want me to do. I know Satan wants to project his depression on us because he will never be able to have a family of his own. Keeping an eternal perspective is what allows me to see beyond my grief.
Infertility is just one realm of life. What is another realm where you have found joy and great fulfillment?
I try to take care of myself where I can. So I exercise, yoga, swimming, take my dogs on walks. I go get massages periodically. My husband and I like to travel. (when we can afford to.) I also blog about infertility: www.mormonchickwithsoggyeggs.blogspot.com to get my feelings out there.
Is there a scripture or Conference Talk that has been particularly helpful and comforting to you? Which one? Why?
Ironically the Ensign, April 2011 issue recently came out with an article on infertility, by Melissa Merrill called Faith and Infertility. Normally when I get the Ensign in the mail, I flip through the articles and all I see are articles relevant for families with children. Usually it gets set aside with all the other unread Ensigns. This article was exactly what I needed. In all honesty I have lost a lot of faith. It was inspiring to read about other couple's who have struggled with infertility as well and who were so candidly open about their battle with infertility. One woman admitted she felt anger towards God. Another questioned their own personal spirituality and tried to find reason or fault with themselves, for their cause of infertility. I have felt all those feelings. I also try to remind myself that the Bible does not include too many stories about women. But the few women who are mentioned in the Bible are women like Sarah, Rachel, Hannah, and Elizabeth who also struggled with infertility.
Is there a quote that has been inspiring to you?.
"And now as I said concerning faith-faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things: therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true." Alma 32 vs. 21
"41. But that ye have patience, and bear with those afflictions, with a firm hope that ye shall one day rest from your afflictions." Alma 34 vs. 41
How has this adversity changed your marriage? What have you done to strengthen your marriage?
When my husband was going through months and months of unemployment, I saw how it affected him. No matter what I did, I could not help him. I saw him feel as though he had lost his identity. No matter how many resumes he handed out, it was still out of his control. There was only so much he could do. Likewise, going through infertility has been a similar process for me. I've felt as though I've lost my identity as a woman. Despite all the fertility treatments we sought, it is still in God's hands to deliver us a child. We have learned to connect on a deeper level because of these trials and can relate to one another's frustrations.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Support Group

Funny how things line up and fall into place. Or should I say; ironic how things happen which place you in a situation you were meant to be in. I'm talking about the Infertility Support group I'm in. I KNOW I was meant to meet this group of amazing women. Let me tell you, within the span of three months, things have happened to me that I know some supernatural force or guardian angel has led me to.
I think I told you about how I found this group, right? Well, if not I will recap: I was walking my disobedient dogs in my neighborhood, and on my way home I came across a commercial building, literally behind our condos, with the sign on the front door saying "Fertility By Design." I thought "What? A fertility place right behind my house and I never knew it was there." Well I hurried home to go online and check this fertility by design out. All I found was a website, but on this website was a link to the Resolve website. (The National Infertility Association's website.) I'm still not sure what this place is behind my house, but I am so thankful that it led me to Resolve's website, because there was where I found the contact info. for a infertility support group in the Salt Lake area. Ironically, the woman who started this group, just barely formed the group. In fact, this group hadn't even had it's first official meeting yet. (Funny how I found it just as it was starting.) Nothing like this exsisted before, or at least anywhere close to where I live. (Unless I wanted to drive more than an hour away.)
I've only been to two meetings so far, and I'm looking forward to our next meeting tomorrow night. Unfortunately we only meet once a month. Within the first few minutes of our first meeting, I knew I was suppose to be there. For the first time, I felt like I was not alone. That I wasn't the only bunny rabbit who wasn't reproducing like a bunny rabbit. I felt like I could open up about my infertility in a way that I wasn't able to open up before. Like I wasn't going to be judged about what I was saying or thinking because the other women were saying and thinking the same exact things I was.
Soon after our second support group meeting, I was at work, glancing up at our TV on the ceiling, (I work at a dental office.) watching the Today Show. Crock pot recipes!!! So when I had a quick break, I went online to get the recipes, and in the left corner of Today's website, there was a story about a woman, a news reporter, who was breaking the silence about her infertility. She happened to lead a Resolve support group in her city. The Today show was talking about infertility!!!! (Finally!!!) Not only were they talking about infertility, they were talking about the same support group I belonged to! Having the Today show talk about infertility was like People magazine putting and actress who's also struggling with infertility on the front cover. (without a happy ending with a baby.) My co-workers even delighted with me in hearing about the media covering infertility. I didn't have time to look at the video clip at work, but luckily, one of my support group members also saw the clip on the Today show and e-mailed all of us the link. So that was the first thing I did when I got home....I of course posted a comment on the Today show's link. :P
Okay, so you think that would be enough, right? No! Literally a few days later, I get an e-mail from our infertility group leader, saying that our local ABC 4 news wanted to interview our support group! I wasn't sure I would make it because they wanted to start the interview at 5pm...well, I get off work at 4:30...sometimes 5pm. And I would still have to drive down from Ogden to their station in Salt Lake. Luckily, my last patient didn't show up for his appointment at 4pm, so I dashed out of there. And the next thing you know, I'm on the news, talking about infertility along with other members of our support group! This was a great opportunity to break the silence. I know there are other women out there, suffering silently who need to find us and have support. I wasn't afraid of showing my face on TV about this if I knew I would be helping someone else.
So even amongst all of this stuff happening, I am still finding the urge to feed my addiction and try to get pregnant. I'm one of those "lucky" ones who can feel when I ovulate...instead of lucky, I would say with infertility, it's more like I'm "cursed." Because you start to count up how many times you've had sex in the last few days, and think..."Okay, we're covered...4 times. This month, for sure we will get pregnant." or "We've only had sex once in the last few days...just one more try, that will be the icing on the cake." Knowing when you ovulate makes sex torture, miserable, and takes all the fun out of it. I no longer tell my husband if I've ovulated. That is the worst thing on a marriage.
What is worse is the two week wait period. Especially for me. Within a few days after I ovulate, something in my body changes...hormones. Progesterone surge. For me, this means depression starts. Immediately, my feelings of being okay, positive, and content go right out the door. It's like my body knows I've already lost the battle this month, and I still have another two weeks to go before I officially start my period. I literally break down in tears so easily, and question if I need to be on an antidepressant. I've been on them before during school to help with test anxiety. But I get the worst side effects. The reason why I'm blogging tonight was to literally pull myself out of one of my crying spells, panic attack, what ever you want to call it. My poor husband takes the brunt of these. He does pretty well handling me for the most part, but then sometimes he gets frustrated and starts pushing adoption again. Which doesn't help and only makes it worse. He's ready to adopt. I'm not there yet. I don't want to hear a solution, I only want to feel like my feelings are validated. He did make me (buy take-out) dinner for me tonight. Which is just what I need. When I feel this way, the last thing I want to do is make dinner and take care of him or the dogs. I need the nurturing. That's why I'm looking forward to tomorrow's support group meet. I need it.