Thursday, August 15, 2013

What one book do you believe NEEDS to be taught in school?

This post is part of the GRAB(ook) Club, an online book club open to anyone where you can drop in and out as you wish.  However, you do not need to be part of the book club to comment; I'm curious about everyone's opinions.

This month's selection was To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.  I'm guessing that for most people this was a reread, but for me it actually wasn't.  I never had to read it in school and never ended up picking it up after that.  There's a lot of books like that for me.  I've never read anything by J.D. Salinger, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Alice Walker, or any number of other classic authors.  Some, like Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut, I've picked up on my own, but plenty of others I haven't so far.

I'm not sure why To Kill A Mockingbird wasn't part of the curriculum for me.  I don't know if it was because of the use of the n-word throughout, or if they thought it wasn't necessary because we covered other female authors and people writing about race relations or what.  I will say that I would have gladly traded this for Invisible Man with regards to books discussing racism.

I liked the character development and descriptions a lot more in To Kill A Mockingbird, as well as the way that Lee handled people understanding or not understanding Scout.  But also, I find To Kill A Mockingbird much more appropriate for the high school age group with how it handles sexual content.  I suppose at least part of that comes from it being written from the point of view of Scout, with an eight-year-old's understanding of sexual matters.  No matter how or why it was done this way, though, the question of and description of rape was managed delicately enough that I could have handled it in high school and had read worse on my own.  Invisible Man, on the other hand, skeeved me out in high school with the graphic descriptions of the naked women in the Battle Royale scene.  I wasn't ready for it, and I was disturbed by it.  The rest of the book I was just bored by, but I squirmed both mentally and physically when I read that part.  Yes, I believe that assigned reading should broaden our horizons and make us think about things we might not have otherwise.  But I also believe, now that I've read it, that To Kill A Mockingbird would have been a better choice for making students think about the past and what is still here in the present in a new way.

So what do you think is just that important in classic literature that it NEEDS to be taught to students?  And what about that book/play/poem/etc. makes it that important?

After you answer my question, please click over to read the rest of the book club questions for To Kill A Mockingbird. You can get your own copy of To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee at bookstores including Amazon.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

A Prince Among Babies

I've seen a lot of people over the past month, both infertile and not, wanting the world to just shut the heck up about Duchess Catherine and Prince George.  I'm not among them.  This may surprise some people, and it did surprise me a little bit.

Part of it is having always been interested in the British royals, FAR more than in any other celebrity or celebrity-like creature.  I couldn't care less which Kardashian is which and I don't even know who the father of Jennifer Aniston's baby is.  But I was rooting for Catherine to end up with Prince William when she was first on the cover of magazines in the supermarket and when he broke up with her for a while and when she was patiently waiting for an engagement for what seemed like forever.  I have in a box the special in the Washington Post about William and Catherine's wedding.  I did not Tivo the wedding, but I did look for pictures when I got home from work.  I even had a dream before the wedding that she and I became friends.

But part of it is also sympathy.  Even before the wedding, people were speculating on how long it would take her to conceive.  Her. Not how fertile Prince William would be and how long it would take him, but how long it would take her.  And she had to be at least a little scared about that.  After all, she didn't know whether she would be able to conceive.  You can't exactly take the Prince's fiancee out for a test drive to find out!

And as soon as the wedding was over, the pressure was ON.  From the palace, from the media (both legitimate and tabloid), from the public.  Even if she avoided it as much as possible, living out in the country where Prince William was stationed and doing her own grocery shopping, she was aware of it.  She had one job to do and she knew it, and it wasn't even anything under her control.  She could do everything she was supposed to and still not know if she would get pregnant.  I felt bad for her as the months went on, because she didn't just have to worry about herself and William being disappointed, there was the rest of the country to think about.

And if you think about it, by US standards, she and William dealt with infertility.  It took her over one year, basically a year and a half, to conceive.  That's not infertility in the UK, where the cutoff is two years of trying to "earn" the distinction.  But it is here.  When I heard about her being hospitalized with Hyperemesis gravidarum and learned that it was more common when a woman was pregnant with multiples, my first thought was to wonder, since it had been a while since the wedding, if she had seen a fertility specialist and was having twins after IUI or IVF.  Apparently not.

But still, the feelings had to be there for her, whether she qualified for a diagnosis in the UK or not.  When I've felt like less of a woman because of not being able to accomplish the defining aspect of womanhood, she had to deal with not just the expectations of womanhood in general but also of someone married to the heir to the throne.  When I was fielding questions from family members on whether I had any news, she had to field questions from the media.  When I looked down at my stomach and wanted to see a bump that wasn't fat, she had the whole world watching her for a bump.

So I can't begrudge her the attention she's getting from the world.  She's put up with enough to get it.  All the great clothes and jewelry and not having to worry about money don't make up for the worry and stress and heartache any more than they did for Giuliana Rancic or anyone else rich who wants to be a mother.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

The Secret Club that No One Wants to Join

I met Senate candidate Karen Handel at an event yesterday.  At this point, Googling her mostly turns up links about her candidacy and about her having been an executive with the Susan G. Komen Foundation.  However, one thing I had learned about her was what had happened when she ran for governor of Georgia. For those that don't know, Handel lost in a primary runoff to Nathan Deal, and one significant factor in this loss (since she had had a significantly larger percentage in the first election) was Georgia Right to Life throwing their support behind Deal.  One of the reasons they gave?  Handel not taking action to ban IVF.

But there's more to it than that.  Karen is one of us.  She and her husband, Steve, tried, including using treatments, for almost ten years and were not able to become parents.  And for that, GRTL called her a "barren" woman.

Those of you who know me in real life know that I am vehemently pro-life.  However, as I become active in political events in Georgia, I cannot and will not support any organization that wants to take away my ability to create life.  I will continue to support pro-life initiatives that do not interfere with IVF, but I will not support those that do.  Because, like Karen Handel, I have been there.

When I met Karen yesterday, the first thing I did was thank her for standing up for infertiles and explain why it was so important to me that she had.  Karen immediately hugged me and said she was sorry for that as we both teared up.  We understood each other.  We had never met before, but we understood each other immediately because of our membership in that secret club.  We talked about how that word "barren" gets used as an accusation and an epithet.  We talked about how it was hard to find people who could relate.  We didn't need to say the words, because we both understood, but it still helped to say them.  Because at the same time that you never want someone else to be a member of the club, it's still helpful to talk to someone that is.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Hope and Despair

Christy at Searching for our Silver Lining asked me about a comment I made in another post about struggling with the question of hope versus despair.  In his post about infertility, Steve Wiens asserts that it's ok to hope.  But for me, it's not.  For me, having hope just makes the despair worse when I fail, when I am failed by my body.

I've watched The Dark Knight Rises several times recently, and there's something Bane says that captures it for me.  Yes, I'm looking to Bane for philosophy, but it fits.  "There's a reason why this prison is the worst hell on earth... Hope. Every man who has ventured here over the centuries has looked up to the light and imagined climbing to freedom. So easy... So simple... And like shipwrecked men turning to sea water from uncontrollable thirst, many have died trying. I learned here that there can be no true despair without hope. "

That's the danger of hope.  The despair is going to be there no matter what.  But when I still let myself hope before, the fall was worse because it was from a greater height.  The months when I had no hope truly were easier than the ones where I thought something could happen.

I'm glad that other people have hope for me.  It touched me deeply when a friend of mine told me a couple years ago that she would hold my hope for me until I was ready for it.  There are a few other people that I know have hope that I will be a mother someday, and it means the world to me that they do.

But I can't.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Follow Up

For a while I kept only remembering to post the Steve Wiens blog post about infertility either when I wasn't at Facebook or when it was late enough that no one would see it.  I just remembered at a decent hour (yes, so quarter of midnight is a decent hour in my book, 100 plus other people on my friends list agree, so there) and posted, so we'll see what reaction, if any, it gets.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Parenting and Guys and Infertility and the Media

There's a blog post floating around Facebook after HuffPost reprinted it, about the stress of being a parent of small children, even while appreciating it after infertility.  In the post, he says he's going to write a post soon about infertility, and if you follow the link to the original post, he links to his post about infertility.  I'm really happy to see a guy posting about infertility, there's not nearly enough of it.

At the same time, it made me cry, because I'm still struggling with a lot of this, especially the question of hope and despair.

And it also makes me a little mad, because the article on parenting is circulating far and wide, but you know the one about infertility won't.  It'll get more views than it otherwise would because of the reposting, but only from people who bother to go to his blog from HuffPost and from there to the infertility post.  HuffPost didn't bother to link to it, because really, who cares about infertility out there in the wider world?  Not enough people to be worth posting a link for, apparently.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


I wish I didn't dread this day every year.  It was somewhat better this year.  I went for the strategy of avoidance and ignoring, and it actually worked somewhat successfully.  I've been able to tune out most of the commercials and signs and ads, but it's still there.  I still got asked by a waitress Friday night, "are you a mother?"  And when I said no I got the really awkward, "Oh, well, have a happy day anyway."

I'd like to be able to go to church today, but I know that's a trigger for me.  I try to just focus on celebrating the moms in my life, but almost every sermon focuses on how blessed it is to be a mother.  Which I'm not.  And on how life means more when you're a mother.  Which I may never know.

I'm trying to take care of myself today.  I'd like to be able to go to church, but I'm not.  I'm going and doing something fun where I won't run into happy families celebrating together.  And we'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Epic Fail

For the first time ever, RESOLVE put together a scorecard to rank the states (and DC) in how fertility friendly they are.  The rankings were created based on four factors: the insurance mandate climate, the legislative climate, the number of fertility clinics as compared to the number of people dealing with infertility, and the number of RESOLVE support groups.  Before you click on the link, take a guess as to where Georgia is ranked.  I'll wait.

Any guesses?

I talked about this with one of my local friends, who guessed 49th.  In the voice of several game shows, I had to tell that person "LOWER!!"  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Georgia is DEAD LAST in the rankings.

Where is Maryland, you may ask?  Between the mandated IVF coverage and a couple of large clinics, among other factors, Maryland ranks 5th.  Yes, I moved from a state that ended up ranked 5th, where my IVF would have been covered, to the state being pointed out for epic failure.

I still have no idea whether I'll need it, whether it will impact my immediate life which fertility climate I live in.  And no matter what, I'm still happy that I moved here.  But at the same time, I will be looking for what opportunities I can fit in to get involved and advocate, whether it's for myself or for my sisters.

So maybe that's how I'll recognize NIAW, both during the week and after.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Reading through my reading page for the first time in many months, I'm seeing how much I've missed, how many people who I follow have been able to adopt or gotten their BFP or even had their baby, and I'm amazed.  I truly am happy to see that people I've followed and cared about have had their dreams come true while I've been away in the reaches of outer space.

Monday, April 15, 2013

NIAW and Me

Last year at this time, I was preparing blog posts, changing my cover photo on Facebook, posting a poem every day, getting my suit and talking points ready for Advocacy Day.  This year is...different.  And I'm not entirely sure where I fit in.

I just put up one of Keiko's cover photos, one that points to the profile pic and says "Because 1 in 8 is someone you know."  Implying, of course, that the person in the profile pic is infertile.  But am I? I don't know.  After all, the testing all came back normal.  Together with DH, I was infertile.  But I don't know if I, in and of myself, am infertile.  So I don't know if the cover photo applies to me or not.  Looking back at the one I got from her last year, it also says, "Because 1 in 8 is someone you know" but adds "Like me."  So I can't just go back to last year's photo without wondering either.

Yes, I could just let NIAW pass by without notice.  After all, I am in an awkward stage of my infertility-or-lack-thereof journey.  But that feels wrong, too.  It isn't true to the experience that I've had so far, and it isn't true to the experience that people I care about have had or are still in the midst of.  The theme for this year's Bloggers Unite is Join the Movement.  According to the Resolve website, "The goal of this year's Blog Challenge is to bring together bloggers to talk about how you are making the difference in ways large and small in the lives of people with infertility. Topics covered in your blog post can include how you broke the silence of infertility in your life, how you advocated for the infertility community, how you advocated for yourself, or how you created a support community to help you through the infertility journey". 

Every other year, I've had an easy time writing about the theme.  But this year, I don't know what to say.  I probably won't write a post, because I don't know what I've really done.  I guess I'm "joining the movement" by not slinking quietly by and ignoring NIAW.  But anything else?  I dunno.  Last year it was clear, but not anymore.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Infertility: The Musical that's Hard to Conceive

Seriously?!  Seriously!!

I walked into my new coworker's cube today. (Oh, yeah, for those of you who I don't know IRL or haven't caught up with in a while, I've been busy during this hiatus, too...I've moved to Georgia and started a new job in mental health management.)  Anyway, I walked into my new coworker's cube today, and I walked right into hearing a guy singing about having sperm in his pocket.  Apparently, there really is Infertility: The Musical.  Wow, I listen to a LOT of show tunes, and that's still a new one on me!

I guess there's an adaptation of Rule 34 for musicals.