After years of infertility and IVF, we've finally seen light from the other side. I knew it could happen, but certainly didn't think it would be us ... our new life with twins. Gulp.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Dear Everyone ...

A newspaper column forwarded to me from a RESOLVE newsgroup. I think it speaks well to the basics of being a good friend, or even a respectful aquaintance, to an infertile person or couple.

Dear everyone... What to say to a childless couple

First, consider saying nothing at all, says Amy Hibbard, of James City County. Your words of wisdom and comfort may be received as hurtful and insensitive. But if you want to talk about infertility, be prepared to listen, too.

By AMY HIBBARD Daily Press ** May 6, 2007

Dear everyone,

Often, many of you feel the need to ask a childless couple, "When are you planning on having kids?" While that may seem like a harmless question and a natural progression for a married couple, it can also be an extremely painful topic for many people. You never know what someone may be going through.

Please don't make it your mission to ask or chastise childless couples about when and how to have kids. It's really not your business, and odds are they are dealing with emotional issues that you will never understand. It is shocking to discover that as many as 1-in-8 couples in the United States are dealing with infertility. That is a huge number, and chances are great that someone in your life is living with or has previously lived with the heartache that is infertility.

Many couples suffer in silence because it is somewhat of a taboo topic to discuss. If you ask when they plan on having kids, they will put on a smile and give an answer they think you want to hear. They are then likely to walk away and fight back tears. If you are bold enough to ask, you should be prepared for the answer. It may make you uncomfortable to hear about my struggles, but it helps me to get it out and hopefully it will make you -- if you are uncomfortable with the topic -- think before asking someone that very private question again.

This brings me to how to approach, help or treat someone who you know is experiencing infertility.

Please be supportive of your friend. Be there to listen if he or she wants to talk. Offer support if he or she is going through treatments, or help him or her get to and from appointments. If you disagree with the choices a couple has made, it is best to keep those opinions to yourself. There are many options for infertile couples, including medications, procedures, international and domestic adoption, foster care and living child-free. But it is the couple's personal decision.

The best thing to do is to let us determine how much we are comfortable talking about. Don't pry. If we want to open up, we will. But if we want to be left alone, sometimes we need that, too.

Probably the most-hated comment heard by people going through infertility is "Relax, you're too stressed." Many of us have diagnosed medical conditions that are the root cause of our infertility, and no amount of relaxing is going to change that.

Please try not to make comments like, "Maybe this is for the best," "Everything happens for a reason," or "God only gives us what we can handle." You may think comments like this are well meaning, but they are hurtful. Believe me, a person struggling with infertility is already doing enough internal questioning. Infertility and miscarriage can be a very lonely time for people. Everywhere you go, you see babies, children, pregnant women and happy families. There are always situations that remind us of what we don't have. Baby showers, holidays and birthday parties can be very hard for us to attend. Please be understanding if we decline invitations or excuse ourselves early. It is nothing personal against you, it is our way of dealing with our own pain.

What I would like to stress to people who don't have firsthand experience with these situations is: Be sensitive and use good judgment. The best thing you can do for your friend or loved one is to listen. You can't change their situation, but you can be there for them. Showing them you care during this difficult time means the world.

Amy Hibbard, James City County

Monday, May 21, 2007

Doing the Right - or Wrong - Thing

I'm feeling a little bit bad. I am once again considering using my feminine wiles to advance my agenda.

God, that sounds so much more scandalous than it actually is. I've been trying to make more effort, ahm, in the bedroom, lately. I realize that when both of us are more satisfied in that arena, that life simply tends to function more smoothly. And I don't think I'm alone in admitting that the marital bed is not where my interests or energies tend to lie these days. So I took a trip to VS to restock my pathetically depleted lingerie stockpile. I dressed myself up (underneath, you know) before a night out with friends, and all turned out quite well later that evening. I've continued making the effort, and it has been (mostly) smooth sailing in our home.

Back to my agenda. We're not actively searching for a new house, but there is one particular area in which we'd like to live eventually, and homes that have the qualities we want (namely, grass) are few and far between. In driving home from church on Sunday, through our Desired Neighborhood of course, we saw a For Sale sign. On the perfect house.

Of course, it's more than we want to spend right now. Five years down the road, maybe, but today, not so much. But this house, or one like it, probably won't go up for sale any time soon. So, we've set an appointment to go look at it.

And I keep calculating. No, not if we can afford it, the monthly mortgage payments, or if we should even think about it, but how I can best Keep My Man Satisfied (to paraphrase a Cosmo cover line). And if I Keep My Man Satisfied, would it ease the pain of a potentially financially straining situation? And is a Satisfied Man in his dream home going to be satisfied for long?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Obsessions & I Heart TV, Part II

I have serious problems. Serious, in regards to my pocketbook and my time available for doing necessary, but mundane things, like cooking, cleaning and generally keeping up with life.

The first regards clothing and outfitting my children. I do not by any means find it necessary to have them in expensive dress-up clothes every day, not do I find it endearing to put them in preppy, smocked jumpers (which are what all the in-the-k to look like now babies and toddlers around here wear) while gallivanting around the grocery store.

But I do want them to look nice, and more importantly, I want them to look like the BOY and GIRL that they are. Of course, I can tell the difference quite obviously, but I’m tired of asking me about my two sons. MyGirl will get hair eventually, and everything about her is girly, but the adorable mohawk with the curl at the front just throws people off. Go figure.

So, I try to find her clothes that are girly, but not cheesy or princess-themed. And it takes some doing.

Ditto MyBoy. I just haven’t found a lot of little boy’s clothes that I like – most around here seem to emphasize fishing, hunting, baseball or NASCAR. Just not my style. So I hunt and I hunt. And when I find the good stuff, I tend to go, ummm…overboard. The past two days have found me at a local children’s boutique, a children’s catalog company store, and the local ritzy consignment store. I found some goodies, more for her than him. But enough to tide me over for a bit.

On a similar front, to satisfy my children’s clothing obsession with my crafty obsession, I decided that I should make my children some clothes. However, I have big ideas and not so much motivation to actually finish projects.

So, I have a lovely pile of fabrics, one bright A-line dress (all finished), a little boy’s jumper (rather sloppily finished, but finished nonetheless), and a dress that I’ve messed up beyond all compare. Perhaps I’ll try and fix it, or perhaps I’ll just go shopping …

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The next obsession is of course that damned black screen in my basement. I always seem to be behind the curve on popular shows and series. I finally caught on to Sex in the City just as it was about to go off the air, so I spent what seemed like weeks catching up with DVDs. Same idea with Six Feet Under, and I caught up with that with Video on Demand.

In a moment of boredom, which happens so infrequently, J and I happened upon Weeds. Oh. My. God. This show is freakin’ ridiculously awesome. So awesome I missed a committee meeting last night that’s been on my calendar for weeks.

So here I sit, during naptime when I should be washing all those above-mentioned children’s clothes, on Episode 17, Season 2. I think I’ll be quite sad when I’ve actually caught up to real time. And J’s going to be a leeeetle bit mad when he comes home and sees I’ve jumped ahead of him so far.

Monday, May 07, 2007

I Heart TV

I’m not pregnant, I’m not sleepless, and I’m not ill. All the usual suspects for very odd dreams can be counted out. So why the hell did I have a dream about Dav*d Hass*lhoff last night?

Hmm… perhaps I’ve been watching too much Entertainment Tonight / Inside Edition?

It was bizarre beyond description, and involved me and a friend sleeping in a camper. Excuse me, luxury motorhome. DH broke in, frantically telling us that his identical twin was trying to get us, and he was there to protect us. Chaos ensued, and there were two crazy, curly-haired DH’s bouncing off the walls of our motor home.

Unfortunately, I have no great ending to the story, just me waking up in the haze of “What the *(&^#$ was that all about?”

In other television happenings, I caught a brief story on the Today Show about infertility. (Who am I kidding, I didn’t “catch” it. I held off my poor, hungry children’s breakfast until I could satiate my curiosity and the piece was finished.)

Although they didn’t delve deeply into the subject matter, I thought it a nice general-interest sort of piece. They featured a woman who was told she had something like a 3% chance of conceiving, who then went on to miraculously conceive on her own; a woman who chose international adoption, and appeared to be thrilled with what looked like boy-girl twins from Russia perhaps; and a woman who, despite her years and years of struggler with treatments and drugs, was still living child-free.

The last woman brought tears to my eyes, when she spoke of walking into a room full of all her friends and their “forty or fifty children” (that’s certainly how it can feel!), and feeling like there was a big empty space surrounding she and her husband. I knew her feeling quite intimately, and hated to hear her speak so frankly of it for the world to hear, knowing it’s a world that doesn’t really understand.

They interviewed a well-respected RE, I don’t remember his name, and I thought it interesting to note that he didn’t mention male-factor infertility until Meredith Viera brought it up. And I was glad she did, since then he expanded on it a bit.