Thursday, April 28, 2011

Infertility in the Media

The way that infertility is treated in the media has been on my mind a lot lately.  Two of my favorite tv shows are Grey's Anatomy and One Tree Hill (yes, I have a strong tomboy streak, but I also have a strong girly-girl streak).  One Tree Hill has had a storyline about Brooke being infertile for several seasons now, involving her interest in adoption and the effects of her infertility on her relationship with Julian.  The infertility storyline involving Meredith and Derek on Grey's is a lot more recent but has been a lot more powerful for me.

With both shows, the infertility was initially handled as a cut and dried matter.  Brooke was told that she was not pregnant and that in fact she never would be able to become pregnant.  After having a miscarriage, Meredith was told that she has a "hostile uterus."  Treatments were recommended for Meredith, but not for Brooke; in both cases, a real diagnosis was never given.  All in all, the two shows addressed both the mechanics and the reactions related to an infertility diagnosis in a very superficial way.

As the current season progressed, the Grey's writers began handling the topic of Meredith's infertility more deftly.  Both Meredith and Brooke had to cope with having pregnant friends, but Meredith's reactions have seemed a lot more real and likely from what I've experienced and others that I know have experienced.  I was crying during the following clip because it covered so well how I've felt in many situations: jealous, frustrated, not understanding why others can end up by mistake with what we work so hard for, but still caring about the person and not wanting anything to happen to the person.

The part where Meredith attended Callie's baby shower also felt very real and well-done.  I haven't had to do onesie decorating at any showers, but I'm really glad that at work it was the shower I could stay the whole time for that had no games and the one I had clients to see in the middle of that had cutesy games. 

Another thing that rang true for me with Grey's this season was Meredith's reaction to having to stop the cycle of injectible medications because of a side effect of blurred vision.  Most of us aren't likely to be in quite that situation, but almost all of us have had to stop treatments or stop trying for a cycle, whether because of problems with the treatment, inability to afford treatment, or other life factors making it impossible to try for a month.  Having to stop a cycle for any reason is extremely hard, and it's even worse when it's a cycle where you went through a lot to try.  The acupuncture I was doing last summer is nowhere near as bad as getting shots, I'm sure, but I'm bad enough with needles that it was still very hard both physically and emotionally for me.  Having to stop in the middle of a cycle felt like a waste of everything DH and I had put ourselves through to make it happen.

At this point, Grey's is hard to watch, but it's not as hard when they treat the subject as seriously as it deserves to be treated.  I just hope the thing between Christina and Owen on whether or not to have kids doesn't come back up.  Given the content of some of my posts from January, that storyline had me wondering whether I would be able to watch the rest of the season or not.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Another day, another pregnancy announcement AND another baby shower, this one with the game of "guess who's sonogram picture this is."  I am strong.  I can do this.  I am focusing on the pie I made.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bust an Infertility Myth Blog Challenge

Yes, I finally figured out, 8 months later, how to put a title on my posts.  Computers aren't my thing, ok?

To commemorate National Infertility Awareness Week, is sponsoring the Bust an Infertility Myth Blog Challenge.  I chose two related myths to address in the same post, one related to domestic adoption in general and the other related to foster-to-adopt programs. 

Myth: There are many unwanted babies available for domestic adoption.     

Myth: You will eventually be able to adopt the child.

Both of these myths relate to fears that I have about if we need to go the route of adoption.  I'm scared to death of how crushed I would be to get close to being a parent and then for it not to happen.  There's another couple whose blog I follow who have been accepted by an adoption agency and then weren't hearing anything for a long while.  They checked to make sure that they were being considered and that their profile was being shown, and they found out that birth mothers were looking at their profile and not choosing them.  I worry that I/we won't look good enough for a mother to want us to raise their child.  I know that no couple and no family is perfect, but the people that care enough about their baby to go through a reputable agency also care enough to want the best for their child.  There's always going to be someone better than me/us out there, someone who can afford to give their new child the best of everything, someone who did not spend all of whatever savings they were able to gather in order to get into line to be passed over by every mother.  After all, once I'm able to switch to my company's insurance, IVF and other ART will be covered, but adoption will not...

Foster-to-adopt programs have been suggested to me as a more affordable option, and one where people are needed.  I've tended to be at least somewhat resistant to the idea, although I haven't ruled it out for sure.  The biggest reason I've been resistant is because of what I do for a living.  I am, after all, a social worker.  In my current job, I don't work with the foster care system.  I have in previous jobs, however, and the main thing that experience did is strengthen the feeling I came out of grad school with that I never wanted to work in the foster care system.  No, I don't think all DSS workers are bad or incompetent or anything like that.  But I certainly don't want to be a social worker all day and then come home and have to fight with the foster care system on behalf of my own child.  I want home to be, while not easy, at least different from work!  

Another aspect of the foster-to-adopt system came up when I was discussing things with my therapist tonight, though.  With many of the kids I had worked with, I had seen in their histories situations where the parental rights were about to be terminated so the child would be eligible for adoption when the birth parents suddenly tried to get things together so they could get their child back.  Sometimes the parents did get their children back and then lost them again or took them back to DSS and said, "Take them."  Sometimes, the situation dragged on, the parents never did get their act together, and the child did become eligible to be adopted, but a long time and a lot of pain later.  Either way, it's extremely heart-wrenching for the parents that want to adopt.  I don't know that I could do that, become attached to a child and then have that child taken away.  And possibly more than once??  I don't even want to think about that!

So yeah, long story short, adoption is at least as fraught as assisted reproductive technologies.

Basic information about infertility

Background of National Infertility Awareness Week 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What IF I can never just be happy with what I have and stop being angry, bitter, and sad about what I do not (from Cathy)?

This post is a part of Project IF, a collection of infertility-related bloggers exploring their own personal What IFs to mark National Infertility Awareness Week (April 24-30).

This is a What IF that I struggle with every day, multiple times a day.  A What IF that I can't even read without tearing up.  It's a What IF that a number of my friends are sick of me for because they are sick of me bringing them down and bothering them with my problems.  They don't understand why I can't just be happy with what I have and stop being jealous and angry and bitter.

Well, neither do I.  I don't understand why I can't be happy to enjoy other people's kids and give them back to their parents when they start crying or need a diaper change.  I don't understand why I can't be satisfied with mothering and taking care of everyone around me like I used to be.  I don't understand why having a good job and a loving husband and caring friends and helping others doesn't meet my needs and fulfill me anymore.

It's enough for other people.  It used to be enough for me.  I don't understand why it stopped being enough.  Is it my biological clock?  Is it the fact that I thought I was going to get to have it in the foreseeable future rather than in some undefined "someday"?  Is it that I'm actually a selfish brat who starts throwing a hissy fit anytime she doesn't get what she wants when she wants it how she wants it?

Whatever it is, the fact that I haven't been able to get rid of the anger and bitterness and jealousy and sadness and despair is not for lack of trying.  I have been working extremely hard and praying multiple times a day, multiple times an hour sometimes, trying to rid myself of the negative and focus on the positives in my life and in the lives of people I care about.  I have had small successes, moments when I've been able to be genuinely happy for someone, times when I have been able to sincerely pray for people about whom I had been feeling not just envy but bitterness.  I try to recognize and appreciate them, but the message comes from some channels that I'm still so far below what is acceptable for dealing with this that those small successes aren't even worth noticing.

What IF I was able to celebrate myself and feel supported by the people I care about most for the small successes until there are bigger accomplishments to celebrate?

For more information on Project IF, go to:

Basic information about Infertility can be found at:

Background information about National Infertility Awareness Week is available at:

Friday, April 15, 2011

I've realized something recently about the relationship between the image I have of myself and the images others have of me.

I've always had a fairly fragile self-image.  People who know me at all well can tell you that I'm quick to see myself as not worth much and not really good at much of anything.  I tend to emphasize the things that others are better than me at, downplay the importance of the things that I am good at, and not believe that I deserve any recognition that I get.  With words of affirmation being one of my primary Love Languages, words about me doing things well can lift me up, but only temporarily.  Words about me being bad at things or not having qualities that I should have will rip me to pieces in a heartbeat.

One area where this has been shown clearly is in how I see my reactions to the infertility issue.  I had muddled my way through for several months doing the best I could but not really focusing on whether the job I was doing was good or bad.  Then, I got hit with the feedback that I was handling things badly and that I needed to shape up.  I got into therapy, increased my meds, and started this blog.  I could see an improvement in myself, especially given how what I was feeling got worse, but I continued to receive feedback about how awful I was at handling things, culminating with the comments that led to me not writing for several weeks in January and considering killing the blog.

In March, I was shocked when our couples therapist told me that I actually was handling things surprisingly well.  DH also was able to understand that, whether he could get what I was feeling or not, what I was feeling was normal.  With their support, I started to build the beginnings of a more positive set of beliefs about myself and about how I am handling an extremely difficult set of circumstances.

I learned just how fragile these positive thoughts and beliefs were, however, a week and a half ago when a person whose opinion I greatly respect told me that being honest about how I feel is not ok and that the progress that made still leaves me so far below what is acceptable that it is worthless.  I was also told that I am in the process of driving away my friends because they have to come up with a plan for how to tell me their good news in such a way that I don't make a public scene.

DH and I were talking about this in relation to the Johari Window. (For those who are not familiar:  As we were talking, I realized that I felt like I was being told the Facade and Blind Spot areas were mutually exclusive in this case.  The Facade section held the idea that I am handling things about as well as could be expected.  The Blind Spot section held the idea that I'm so bad at handling things that I'm not worth being around.  Those can't both be true.  My natural inclinations, as described above, combined with the fact that I respect this person's opinion and this person told me a lot of people share the Blind Spot view but don't want to tell me.  This led to me thinking that the Blind Spot opinion must be right and that I need to find a way to completely change my brain and personality if I want to keep my friends.

A couple of days ago, a friend sent me a Facebook message telling me about her pregnancy news before she posted it on her news feed.  One of the things she said really touched me and made me feel better about who and how I am.  She said that she appreciated the genuineness and honesty of this blog.  That statement helped me to start picking up a couple more pieces of my self-image and to put back together a little of what had been smashed apart.

Just to make myself clear, I'm NOT writing this as a veiled request for people to stroke my ego or tell me that I'm handling things wonderfully or tell me that I shouldn't change a thing.  I know that I am the only person responsible for my self-esteem.  I'm just sharing where I'm at and one of the things that I am working on.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Ah, April Fools' Day.  I used to enjoy you.  I was never big on playing pranks myself, but that was just because of a combination of lack of creativity and that I suck at lying if people can actually see me.  I've generally enjoyed the pranks played by others, however, whether they dupe me or not. 

This year, however, it's a lot harder.  I've already seen 4 pregnancy "announcements" on FB that I'm pretty sure are fake (this is not counting the guys saying that they themselves are pg, which are still funny, and not counting the real one from one of my cousins).  It's not as much of a punch to the gut as it is when people really are pregnant, but to me it's as Not Funny as a person pretending to have cancer or something.  One would make me scared in case it's true, especially with having friends that have survived cancer and those that have not, but the other is a crushing reminder that for 90% of people, it is a joking matter because they never have to deal with not being able to conceive.  I kinda remember seeing posts like that last year, but at that point I still had hope and so those posts didn't hurt as much as they do this year.

Before people jump all over me, I'm not trying to tell people what pranks they can or can't pull or that they have to change everything they do because of my fragile feelings.  All I'm doing is asking that people use some creativity in their pranks instead of going for that one.  I've seen a couple of really great pranks already this year that didn't have to do with pregnancy, and those are the ones that people will remember down the road anyway.