Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Psychological Impact of Infertility

One of my biggest complaints about my first infertility clinic was the lack of individual care. The compassion scale was set at about a -10. Every time I went there I was seen by a different nurse who I had to explain my situation to, where I was in the process, etc. Nurses play a critical role because a patient is examined by them more than the doctor. I probably could have gone to medical school after my experience. I also did not have my own doctor. There were five in the group and it all depended on who was available that day. This not only included exams but the actual IVF procedures. To me that is just as upsetting as a woman's OB being on vacation when she goes into labor. It is not very helpful to someone who is emotionally unstable and needs support and guidance. I suffered many losses and ups and downs during my infertility care. The people that were supposed to be helping me the most actually ended up contributing signifcantly to my feelings of loss and hopelessness.


This article was taken from the website: http://www.lpnadvancedweb.com/
It is advice to nurses working in the infertility field. If you don't find that your medical professionals are taking this advice, speak up or move on. You need to rely on empathy and personalized attention to get you through infertility.



Couples experiencing infertility seek many different types of treatments. This increases the opportunity for nurses to encounter these patients, making it crucial for nurses to be prepared to address their physical and emotional needs.
Because of the increasing technological advances of infertility treatment, nurses are often more comfortable discussing the technical aspects of care. When nurses put more emphasis on technology, couples may interpret this as insensitive and uncompassionate. To effectively meet the needs of these patients, nurses need to be technically proficient while at the same time able to connect on a personal level.

Nurses must assess the needs of the individual as well as the couple. Individuals experiencing infertility often move through the grieving process. Men and women do this in different ways, which can make decision-making challenging. Some research has shown men are more likely to choose ART for their partner than for themselves. Having a child is often more of a life goal for women, and they are more likely to initiate treatment as well as undergo the risks of experimental and painful treatments.
If treatment has been unsuccessful, couples are faced with the decision to either continue treatments or make other choices. Choices include adoption, either domestic or international, foster care and living child-free. It is important to recognize that all of these options are difficult decisions to make. Couples need to grieve the loss of their own child before they move forward with their decision making. Nurses must be sensitive to the fact that adoption may not be an acceptable choice for some couples and the process to adopt also is not easy.
Additionally, couples who desperately wanted to have children of their own may decide to live child-free after experiencing years of struggles and failures. In any case, couples must be treated with respect and support through their decision-making process. They may have come to peace with their decision and comments that contradict their personal resolution may be psychologically damaging.

Helping Couples Cope

Similar to living with other chronic illnesses, infertility can consume a great deal of physical and emotional energy. You may be in a position to help couples make decisions about how to expend their limited energy.
Some helpful advice may include encouraging couples to conserve energy by turning down invitations to situations that may be difficult for them, such as large family gatherings or events where they may feel uncomfortable if they may be asked about plans for a family. Social withdrawal is common among couples with infertility due to the stress and pain they are experiencing.
One of the best strategies in working with these patients is to offer to listen to their concerns. Although it is tempting to share every positive outcome of others you know who have gone through infertility treatment, try to keep these stories to a minimum.
Couples going through infertility treatment are well aware there are success stories, but they have not yet had this experience. Sharing the success of others can make them feel like more of a failure if they have already had an unsuccessful outcome with a similar treatment. As a nurse, you can explain to infertile couples that others often share these stories because they are uncomfortable and don't know what to say.
Undoubtedly, nurses play pivotal roles in helping address the unique needs of these patients. With an increased understanding of the infertility process, nurses can be better prepared to provide emotional and compassionate support to couples during every stage of their journey.

Stacy L. Lutter is assistant professor of nursing, York College of Pennsylvania, York, PA.
References for this article can be accessed at www.advanceweb.com/lpn.
Click on the References link on the Magazine toolbar.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Endometriosis and Infertility

I found this information on http://www.endometriosis.org/


Endometriosis is one of the most common causes of pelvic pain and infertility in women.
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus (the endometrial stroma and glands, which should only be located inside the uterus) is found elsewhere in the body. Endometriosis lesions can be found anywhere in the pelvic cavity: on the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, and on the pelvic sidewall. Other common sites include the uterosacral ligaments, the cul-de-sac, the Pouch of Douglas, and in the rectal-vaginal septum.

Symptoms:
The most common symptom is pelvic pain. The pain often correlates to the menstrual cycle, but a woman with endometriosis may also experience pain that doesn’t correlate to her cycle. For many women, the pain of endometriosis is so severe and debilitating that it impacts their lives in significant ways.
Endometriosis can also cause scar tissue and adhesions to develop that can distort a woman’s internal anatomy. In advanced stages, internal organs may fuse together, causing a condition known as a "frozen pelvis."
It is estimated that 30-40% of women with endometriosis may not be able to have children.

The most common symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain. The pain often correlates to the menstrual cycle, however a woman with endometriosis may also experience pain at other times during her monthly cycle.
For many women, but not everyone, the pain of endometriosis can unfortunately be so severe and debilitating that it impacts on her life significant ways.
Pain may be felt: before/during/after menstruation, during ovulation, in the bowel during menstruation, when passing urine, during or after sexual intercourse, in the lower back region

Other symptoms may include:
diarrhoea or constipation (in particular in connection with menstruation), abdominal bloating (again, in connection with menstruation), heavy or irregular bleeding fatigue.

The other well known symptom associated with endometriosis is infertility. It is estimated that 30-40% of women with endometriosis are subfertile.


Diagnosing endometriosis

There is no simple test that can be used to diagnose endometriosis. In fact, the only reliable way to definitively diagnose endometriosis is by performing a laparoscopy and to take a biopsy of the tissue. This is what is known as "the golden standard".
However, this is an expensive, invasive proceduce. Furthermore, if the surgeon is not a specialist in endometriosis s/he may not recognise the disease, which can result in a "negative" diagnosis.
There are other tests, which the gynaecologist may perform. These include ultrasound, MRI scans, and gynaecological examinations. None of these can definitively confirm endometriosis (though they can be suggestive of the disease), nor can they definitively dismiss the presence of endometriotic lesions/cysts.
The fact that there is no non-invasive, definitive diagnostic method for endometriosis is as frustrating for clinicians as it is for women with the disease.


Endometriosis and Infertility
by Ros Wood

Overall, women with endometriosis find it harder to become pregnant than women in general. However, little research has been carried out into this topic, so it is not possible to give you an accurate indication of how much endometriosis will affect your fertility.
Nevertheless, studies indicate that women with minimal–mild endometriosis take longer to conceive (become pregnant) and are less likely to conceive than women in general.

It also appears that the more severe the woman’s endometriosis, the more likely it is that she will have difficulty becoming pregnant. Thus, women with moderate–severe endometriosis tend to have more difficulty conceiving than women with minimal–mild endometriosis.

However, it is important to remember that having endometriosis does not automatically mean that you will never have children. Rather, it means that you may have more problems.
Many women with endometriosis have children without difficulty, and many others become pregnant eventually — though it may take time, and may require the help of surgery or assisted reproductive technologies or both.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

There's more to life than IF

This list was taken from another blog-truckdriverswife.blogspot.com

Highlight the ones you have experienced...
I did 51 out of 101. I was surprised.


1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a baby bird
10. Sang/played a solo
11. Got a tattoo
12. Visited Ireland
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Ran a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise (not a long one, but a dinner cruise)
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Driven across the US (coast to coast)
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Gotten flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Made a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Had a dream fulfilled
101. Have/had someone in your life who changed your outlook on life

Monday, December 15, 2008

Fellow Bloggers

Part of my research and marketing has been to read blogs written by individuals that have experience with infertility and/or adoption. I am astounded at the amount of blogs and websites out there covering this topic. There are so many families and couples who have been touched by the disheartening and inconsolable experience of infertility. When I peruse blogs, I read profiles of the blogger, and I read a few of the entries. I wish I had the time to read them all. I often email or comment on these blogs, reaching out to inform others of my not for profit.

It is amazing that so many different people are brought together by the same emotions and reactions to the crisis of infertility.
When I first began my infertility journey, I was too young and naive to know that it was happening to me. We're going back nearly five years. I didn't have a computer at home and wasn't Internet savvy, nor were blogs popular (if they even existed in the format we have now). It would have been great for me to have these blogs to refer to and learn information about infertility. I was all alone in my suffering (along with my loving husband). We were the first to get married in our circle- no one was even thinking of having kids at the time we were struggling to get pregnant. I couldn't even find any books telling a similar story to mine. What I found were books by women who were much older than me trying to fight their biological clocks. As far as I knew my clock hadn't even begun ticking yet- I was barely 26 years old.
My husband and I went through most of our infertility experience with little guidance. The doctors we were referred to did not offer support or great advice; we were just another couple trying to get pregnant, and dammit, they were going to make it happen. I would often hear, you're so young; you will get pregnant, just give it time.

I decided that I need to tell my infertility woes and experiences from the beginning. It will help readers to understand my journey and why I am so passionate about trying to help others. I vowed to make a difference in other people's lives when I found out how poorly I was treated by my medical care professionals. I vowed to try and help people avoid some of the heartache we went through by educating others.

I will try not to drag out my story but tell it in sections from the beginning.
Please look for these entries through out the next couple of weeks.
(the holidays will take up much of my free time)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Recession Confession

The state of the economy is going to make a challenging path of fundraising all the more cumbersome. It's amazing how much can change in a couple of months. I started moving forward with the idea of Parenthood for Me in the summer. I had many lofty ideas for fundraising and getting companies to donate goods and services. I did find several generous people who have helped get the nonprofit up and running and I am very grateful to them- they include, John D'Aurizio, Esquire, Dave Manioci, CPA, and Grindcolor Web Design. They have allowed me to get to this point.
I am reaching out to companies and individuals to donate time and money. I have plans for our first major fundraiser to be in the Spring of 2009. Even though the economy is in recession, people are still suffering through infertility and trying to cope with the immense emotional and financial challenge of having a family. People still want to adopt and are struggling to come up with the funds to do so. Therefore, I will do my best to fulfill the goals I have laid out as President of this not for profit. If the timeline must get stretched out due to the difficulty in raising funds during a recession, I will persevere with the same goal in mind- to provide grant money and emotional support.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thumbs Up

Ever since Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes got pregnant, we never heard about Tom's two older children from his marriage to Nicole Kidman. All the hoopla was about Tom Cruise having a baby with Katie Holmes. No one seemed to care about his two children (who happen to be adopted). I didn't even know their names until recently.
Then, Nicole Kidman married Keith Urban and gets pregnant. I thought she couldn't get pregnant. Nicole went on Oprah a couple of weeks ago to talk about her new movie Australia. She did open up a little bit about her experience with infertility. She had an ectopic pregnancy and a miscarriage,and then they adopted Bella and Connor.
Thank you. I had never heard their names spoken out loud before.
Nicole did not go into much detail about her experiences with infertility but she did call her baby "a miracle." She obviously did not expect to ever get pregnant.
It was nice to see a celebrity, someone who has the ability to reach so many people, be honest about her infertility experiences. J-Lo has not admitted to doing IVF to have her twins. In fact, she made it seem like there is something wrong with people who do ART to have children.
I wish more public figures would talk about their stories of infertility and adoption because it really does help to hear other people's stories- how they coped and how they got through it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thumbs Down

A big thumbs down to the following commercials:

1. The new VW mini van commercial with Brooke Shields- if you haven't seen it... basically it says people are having babies just so they can buy the car. (And, she is supposed to be super sensitive about pregnancy)

2. The Lowe's commercial where the woman calls her mom and says they need to pick out two more names because they are having triplets.

Do you have any thumbs up or thumbs down ads or articles, etc. about infertility and/or adoption?
Those are the latest for me....

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Why Don't You Just Adopt?

I was never very secretive about the fact that I couldn't get pregnant. What was the point? Everyone always asks you when you're going to have kids?, why don't you have any kids?, how many kids do you want to have? At first I would give the lame excuse- "oh, I'm waiting for my older brother to have first crack at it, then I can get all the great handy-me-downs. Then when that excuse became over used, I would say, soon. Finally out of pure anger for all the probing questions, my husband and I would say, well, actually we've been trying for two years. We probably can't conceive a child without medical intervention. After a few of those comments and the questions stopped coming. Thankfully.
However, then there was an entire new line of questions and commenting.
My favorite is, "Why don't you just adopt?"
"Well, geeze Aunt Iris do you have two hours?" First of all, I am not over the fact that I will never be pregnant in my lifetime. I am dealing with the never ending grief of almost a dozen failed attempts at getting pregnant using medication and invasive procedures that have controlled my life for two years. I am dealing with the aftermath of an ectopic pregnancy. I am scared to death of where to begin to adopt a child. Oh, and that little problem of coming up with thirty thousand dollars when we had already spent over $20K to get pregnant.

Adoption is a great alternative for families that cannot have a biological child. But, this resolution does not come quickly, nor should it. There is so much to research and learn about. Which country, agency, age of child? The list goes on and on. And, then come the anxieties. Will we bond with the child? What kind of challenges will the child face after being in an orphanage or foster care for x months or years? I could go on an on.

I understand that people want to say something positive when confronted with a couple's reality. But, dismissing a decision to adopt as an easy alternative just proves that you really can't sympathize with their situation.

If someone mentions to you that they are having trouble conceiving and have gone through x-y-z with no luck, they obviously feel comfortable talking about their situation with you. Think before you speak and try to be comforting instead of offering solutions to the problem. Just know they want an open mind and heart to convey their feelings of sadness and frustration, not advice on what to do. If they do want advice because you know someone who has adopted or gone through IVF, either they will ask, or find a tactful way to work it into the conversation.

You could be someone who could ease some of the burden of a devastating predicament.
If you never had problems conceiving, think of how gut wrenching it must be to lose the ability to plan your own family. The dream of having a baby becomes a long lost vision for many couples. How would that make you feel?

Walk in someone elses shoes for a minute and your perspective will change; it will open your eyes.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Passion=Not for Profit

I am not that different from many people out there who feel strongly about a cause that has affected about their lives. The challenges we face in life are what define us. Some families have experience taking care of a child with cancer; they create a foundation in the name of their child and raise money for cancer research. In my community a woman saw the need to help families who had fallen below the poverty line and could not feed or clothe their families. It started with a clothing drive and ended up being a community venture that hosts 59 families- providing them meals, personal items not covered by food stamps, gifts, household item, etc.


Sometimes these ventures just fall in our laps. That is how I feel. All the pain, grief, and anger I experienced while trying to get pregnant shaped my life forever. Infertility is a part of who I am and will always be. I am an adoptive mom. And, I never thought I would be able to say that.


When I was 26 years old and told that I would need medical intervention to conceive because I had a condition called Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS (and shipped off to an infertility clinic), I had no one to relate to. The first problem was that my husband and I went into this experience with little guidance from my physicians. Because of my age, I was neglected in a way. They saw me as a very young woman of child bearing age. They said that if they gave me the right drugs, I would ovulate, and get pregnant- simple as that.


Well, as you can probably guess, it wasn't as simple as that. It was horrible and heart wrenching; it became an every day struggle that consumed my life for four years. My story is like so many others. I went to an infertility clinic where they may as well have stamped my forehead with a number. It was like a mill, 5 women out the door and 10 in.


I saw such a need for women in their twenties to have a place to turn to. When I visited the bookstore, I found only a few books on infertility and they were either geared towards women near 40 who got married later in life and had trouble conceiving, or there were books about infertility and conceiving through "natural" means (no drugs, exercise, acupuncture).


Where were the books by young women who could not get pregnant? Was I really the only one? Judging by the waiting room at the infertility clinic, I was an anomaly. For the most part, I was at least ten years younger than the patients sharing the seats in the reception area.

Things are different for me now. I am not in my twenties and I am not undergoing infertility treatments any longer. But, I am an adoptive mother who lives with the fact that I cannot get pregnant (well, never say never). Ugh, that's the clincher; talk about leaving things open ended. No one has ever said to me that I will never become pregnant naturally. I know that anything can happen, blah blah. But, the reality is that my husband and I cannot just decide to have a baby and expand our family. Our ability to family plan consists of deciding when and if we want to adopt again.

There are so many people who need help with the life crisis of infertility. If I can contribute in some way, I will feel like my challenges had purpose. I want to offer help to people so that the tremendously profound feelings of solitude I experienced while trying to get pregnant will be put to good use. While my friends were planning their weddings and then planning their baby showers I was living a daily of struggle of humiliating experiences in the doctors office- probing and testing, getting hormone shots, undergoing IVF, living the hell of an ectopic pregnancy- almost losing a body part and going through the devastation of terminating my one and only pregnancy.

Empathy can go a long way. Empathy can change people's lives.

Survey Results

Thank you to all who participated in our first survey. The were approximately 100 participants.
Here are the results of the survey.



Q: Do you know of someone who needs financial assistance for adoption or infertility

Votes- 102 YES- 82% NO- 17%



Q: Do you have experience with infertility and assisted reproductive technology?

Votes- 103 YES- 77% NO- 23%



Q: Are you experiencing infertility right now?

Votes- 105 YES, for a year - 18% YES, for more than 2 yrs- 56% NO- 28%



Q:Are you undergoing infertility treatments right now?
Votes-104 YES- 27% NO- 77%

Q: Does your insurance cover infertility treatments?
Votes- 97 YES, but there are limitations- 31% YES, but only certain treatments- 17%
NO- 55%

Q: Have you paid out of pocket for infertility treatments?
Votes- 97 YES- 68% NO- 31%

Q: Do you think there is a need for financial support to help with the cost of infertility treatments and adoption?
Votes- 101 YES-83% NO- 5% UNSURE- 11%

Q: Are you thinking of adopting or going through adoption right now?
Votes- 95 YES, thinking about it- 31% YES, going through it right now-25% UNSURE- 13% NO- 29%

Q: If yes, do you have plans to pay for your adoption?
Votes-65 YES- 40% PARTIALLY-24% NOT YET- 35%

Q: Do you know of other organizations that offers financial assistance for adoption and/or infertility treatments?
Votes- 92 YES, one- 19% YES, more than one- 18% NO-60%

Q: Do you think this is a worthy cause for donation?
Votes- 39 YES, very- 58% YES, moderately- 10% UNSURE- 25% NO- 5%

Monday, November 10, 2008

Unintentional Stupid Remarks

For those of us infertiles the "stupid remark" category is probably long and somewhat (after a long while) comical.

If you want to analyze the human experience, it is safe to say that fertile people will never understand what it is like to have problems conceiving. But, it is also fair to say that many of them have the best of intentions. Sometimes no matter what is said people just can't win.

Even after stating all of that, I must point out that some comments are just so ridiculous that you want to bop people on the head like they do in those new V8 commercials. "Shoulda had a V8. "
"Shoulda thought before you opened your mouth."

Insensitive comments made to those who cannot conceive make me angry. Infertile couples should not feel like they have to make other peole feel more comfortable. Friends and family need to antyup and ask what they can say or do to help. Yeah, it may be uncomfortable and you may feel like you shouldn't ask questions, but its better than:
A: Saying the wrong thing or
B: Not saying anything at all

What I am trying to say is that we need to face some pretty uncomfortable situations in order to help console loved ones. Life is messy. Grave illness, death, divorce, a sick child, infertility are just some examples of very stressful and difficult challenges we may face in life. Helping someone who is grieving is actually a very simple thing; we just tend to mess it up by over-thinking things.
Simply put, be there, hold a hand, give a hug, say how sorry you are that they are grieving and sad. You don't need to try and "fix" it with words or actions because, guess what, you can't.

If you have no idea how awful it feels not to be able to conceive a child, acknowledge it.
If you have no idea what it is like to miscarry a baby, just be there with a shoulder to cry on and acknowledge the pain.

Acknowledgement is what so many infertile couples need- their feelings of sorrow and grief are valid, their absence from birthday parties and baby showers is not selfish but a way of coping.

For those of you who have experienced one or more of these "stupid remarks" know that you are not alone. My advice is to SPEAK UP. If we don't educate people about their insensitivity, they will never know. And, remember you can do it tactfully.

Aunt Iris twice removed saying "My husband just looked at me and I would get pregnant" might conjure a different reaction than the nosy old lady at the grocery store saying "How much was your kid?" But, ultimately the anger and sadness that develop from these remarks is yours to deal with, so it is up to you to find a way to let it go.
What do they know anyway?

P.S. You may be really curious about a personal example of mine...

When I told someone I was adopting from Korea, their reaction was "You better take that 'Made in Korea' sticker off right away.

Reaction: Chuckles from other people in the room and my quick exit

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Facts About Infertility

The definition of infertility: A couple who has been trying to conceive unsuccessfully for at least one year.
Infertility affects 1 in 6 Americans.

Infertility is a complex and often misunderstood condition. My husband and I were very open with our problems conceiving, using this experience as a means to educate others. However, many couples choose to keep their situation more private. This was our way of coping our struggle to conceive. We learned a lot about infertility, the medical care system, doctors and hospitals in our area, misconceptions by the public and the overall inability for people to understand how infertility affects couples and individuals.

Infertility is a life crisis. Having children is a normal next step for couples after they get married. And, often times loved ones and friends begin asking questions about having a baby soon after the couple return from their honeymoon. When a couple cannot conceive a child and are constantly being bombarded with questions about having a baby, it makes the situation all the more unbearable. When friends and family members start their own families, there is a huge void and one often feels extremely alone and out of the loop. The inability to plan your life is overwhelming and having to consider not having a child is in itself extremely painful. Infertility is not something we plan for. For most people it is a complete surprise.Someone onced described infertility as a "bruise on the soul." I agree with that statement. Years of unsuccessful, invasive and expensive treatments exhausts couples and creates a huge sense of loss. The grief is unbearable at times- the thought of never conceiving a child of your own.If people understood more about what it feels like to go through infertility, it could impact the couple's ability to cope. Maybe there would be less insensitive remarks , less "advice" on how to conceive.

There are many myths about infertility that I would like to combat.

Myth 1: It's easy for most women to get pregnant.While it's true that many woman conceive without difficulty, more than five million people of childbearing age in the United States -- or one in every 10 couples -- have problems with infertility. Certain health conditions and factors, such as age, can affect a woman's ability to conceive. For instance, a healthy 30-year-old woman has about a 20 percent chance of getting pregnant each month; while by age 40, her chances drop to about 5 percent a month. But infertility can affect women of any age, and from any background.

Myth 2: Men don't have infertility problems.About 35 percent of all infertility cases treated in the United States are due to a female problem. But 35 percent (an equal number!) can be traced to a male problem, 20 percent to a problem in both partners, and 10 percent to unknown causes. Also, 1% of the male population is sterile.

Myth 3: Infertility is a psychological -- not physical -- problem.Well-meaning friends and relatives may suggest "infertility is all in your head" or "if you'd stop worrying so much, you'd get pregnant." But in reality, infertility is a disease or condition of the reproductive system and not a psychological disorder. In fact, one or more physical causes are identified in the vast number of infertile couples. So while relaxing, going on vacation, or finding positive ways to de-stress can improve your overall well-being, these lifestyle changes won't solve your infertility problems.

Myth 4: Couples who "work" hard enough at having a baby will eventually get pregnant.New methods of diagnosing and treating infertility have improved many couples' chances of having a baby. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), more than half of all couples who pursue treatment will achieve a successful pregnancy (what about the other half?). It's important to remember that infertility is a medical disease and that problems sometimes remain untreatable no matter how hard a couple "works" at solving them.
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) includes simpler, less invasive procedures and those that are much more complex and costly. The statistics for these procedures are getting better but for a woman under 35 years of age, there is still less than a 50% chance of conception with ART. Every woman and man's situation is different, but simply going to an infertility specialist will not necessarily solve the problem.

Myth 5: Once a couple adopts a child, the woman will become pregnant.This particular myth is not only painful for infertile couples to hear, but it's also untrue. First of all, it suggests that adoption is simply a means to an end (a pregnancy), and not, in and of itself, a valid and wonderful way to form a family.
Secondly, only about 5 percent of couples who do adopt later become pregnant. This success rate is the same for couples who don't adopt and become pregnant without further treatment.
It is easy for us to remember the stories we hear about the couples are could not conceive for years, adopt and then get pregnant. But, what is not mentioned are the millions of couples who never have a biological child, after adopting or otherwise.

Myth 6: Husbands often leave their wives if they're infertile.As stated earlier, infertility is a medical condition that affects both men and women equally. In fact, about 40 percent of the time, the male partner is either the sole or contributing cause of infertility, according to ASRM. While many couples do find the process of infertility testing and treatment rigorous, stressful, and intrusive (not to mention costly), they do get through it -- together. Many partners also find new and deeper ways of relating to each other and discover that their marriage has become even stronger.

Myth 7: Infertile couples will never be happy or fulfilled.Being unable to conceive a much-wanted child (or carry a pregnancy to term) can fill a couple with sadness, grief, anger, despair, and even a sense of personal failure. While it's normal for infertile couples to experience a range of powerful emotions, most people do move through this life crisis successfully and gradually put it into better perspective. For some couples, "moving on" means letting go of their initial dreams of having a baby. Other couples decide to adopt. But in either case, couples do learn that there is life after infertility and find myriad ways to fulfill themselves -- with or without children.

Open your minds and your hearts to this life altering condition. Once someone has experienced infertility, they are changed forever.

The Realities of Adoption

Adoption is a wonderful thing but its origins often stem from hard ship. It is a complex situation of life changing circumstances Most times everyone involved including the birth parents, the adoptive parents, and the children have suffered some sort of loss. That is a reality of adoption.

The birth parent(s) had to make an excruciating decision to give their child a better life. It should be considered a very courageous choice that did not come easily. Birth parents do not forget about the child they gave up for adoption. Many people cannot fathom how a parent can give up their child- there are many reasons that we may not understand in our culture. For example there is still a strong social stigma for unwed mothers in many countries, poverty, ill parents that cannot provide for their children.

The adoptive parents (about 80% of the time) have infertility problems and many times have undergone years of hoping and waiting and paying for expensive infertility treatments all to no avail. The choice to adopt does not come lightly. It is not easy to give up on the hope that a couple can conceive their own child, biologically.

The child has to come to terms with being given up for adoption. They will question why and how and who are their parents. They will struggle in school when told to make a "family tree" for a project. Adopted children usually always appreciate and love the adoptive parents as their own, but they have their own identity crisis' and endless thoughts about the life they would have lived with their biological parents.
There are also those couples who have a biological child but cannot conceive again (this is more common than many people think) and wish to expand their family. Or, they suffered the loss of a child and cannot perceive another pregnancy but choose to adopt a child in need who will in-turn fulfill their lives.

Adoption brings all of these different people together. The terrible loss of giving up your child unfolds into a couple who dream of being a parent more than anything.
However, adoption is not for every couple. Many choose to live child-less lives, happy to be known as "aunt" and "uncle" or some continue infertility treatments or just leave it to fate. But, there are those couples who just want to be a family and love has no boundaries for them.
They come to terms with the idea that they can be a family without a pregnancy.
The adopted child has found a home where his mom and dad fought long and hard to find him or her. And, both the child and the parents are grateful to have found one another.

Adoption and Society

Language and phrases are used in our culture when it comes to adoption. There are many well meaning people who say things that are not only hurtful but insulting. You have to think about adoption in a different frame of mind. Those who have adopted or who have experience with adoption are much more attuned to the etiquette that comes with adoptive families.And, it is important to keep in mind that families with adopted children do not feel any different than those families with all biological children. They don't see themselves as being different because simply put, they are parents. How they became parents doesn't mean a thing.Here are some examples of scenarios that have been know to happen:

1.A woman has both biological children and adoptive children. An acquaintance or even a complete stranger asks," Which ones are yours?" The mother responds to this questions,"Well they're all mine. What do you mean?" People are curious. Adoption is a curious topic for most. The woman simply wanted to know which children were biological and which were adopted. And, there is nothing wrong with asking that question. It is all in how you phrase it.

2. An adoptive family, most likely bi-racial, is grocery shopping and a complete stranger comes up and asks,"How much was your kid?" You can see how this statement can be construed as not only completely rude but very insensitive. The correct answer to this stranger's blatant curiosity is, "Do you mean how much does it cost to adopt a child?"

3. Often times people feel uncomfortable when told that a couple is adopting. They don't know if they are supposed to have the same reaction as if they heard an expectant parent of a pregnancy. There may be light hearted comments about the child's ethnic and national origins. This however, is very hurtful to the adoptive parents. People need to understand that expectant adoptive parents are just as excited and nervous as those waiting to give birth. There is the same joy and exhilaration that goes with waiting to become a parent.

4.Strangers can be very nosy and curious in general when it comes to rearing children. Friends of ours have told us stories about being in public with their biological children and being stared at and given unsolicited advice. When a family is bi-racial and it is obvious that the child is adopted, people can be even more nosy and judgemental by saying some very hurtful and alarming things. For example,"If you were that baby's real mother/father, you could get them to stop crying, fall asleep, etc." I am not making these things up. These are experiences we have heard from other adoptive parents. It is a fact of life. The general public who has no personal experience with adoption (or infertility or many other situations) can be insensitive and uneducated.

The worst part to think about is in the future when the baby becomes a toddler and interacts with other children or understands from adults that they are different. Kids can be very hurtful and as parents we can and will do everything to be open with our child about being adopted and hopefully give them some useful answers to kids curious questions or even nasty remarks. Let's face it, all kids have hardships in school with fitting in or feeling wanted. But, this is something we can actually begin preparing for right now.
How will we answer our child's questions about adoption? How will we react to people when they say rude things? We will educate, we will try to help people understand more about adoption.
It is not rude to ask questions about adoption. People are innately curious. It is important to think twice before posing your question. A different choice of words can make all the difference.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Plan

How will this non-profit succeed?
A charitable non-profit's business plan involves many of the same steps as profit based businesses.

Here are some of my first steps to accomplish:
1. Research, research, research.
  • I need to become knowledgeable of other organizations that may offer the same services. Can I be successful if there are several other non-profits seeking donations for the same causes?
2. Finish my survey.
  • I need to get feedback from the public as to the necessity of this non-profit and it's chance for success.

3. Get incorporated and file for tax-exempt status

  • All donations will be charitable write-offs on donor's tax return

4. Establish a website

5. After finishing business plan, begin soliciting donations and sponsors.

6. Organize fundraising events

7. Marketing and publicity

8. Start accepting applications for grants and...

9. Begin to choose applicants who will be eligible to receive grant money toward their own personal cause. (This may be months away, but it is the ultimate goal to keep me focused.)

The ability for this non-profit to flourish comes from readers like you. Help to spread the word and at some point, maybe you will be able to make a contribution that allows someone to become a parent.

Why a non-profit?

How did I come up with the idea to start a non-profit? Well, it isn't an ingenious idea; it's just that I decided to try and make the time to finally do something to help others. Through my journey of infertility I learned that there was little support for a 26 year old woman. As the years passed and my experiences with infertility treatments and assisted reproductive technology became more and more involved, our pockets were empty and our hearts were broken. I strongly feel that it is such a shame that those who need medical intervention to try and have a biological child cannot get insurance coverage. I know this varies state to state but from my experience, IVF usually is not covered at all. We were able to do six intrauterine inseminations under our insurance with the help of chlomid and then injectable drugs. But, when we had to move on to IVF, it was time to find financing- we were on our own. The cost of our IVF was $9,000 each time. We did not have enough embryos to freeze and do a transfer. We had to start over every single time.
Our decision to end medical intervention was mostly based on my health and the emotional strain on our lives and marriage. But, money was also a factor. We had spent over $20,000 on infertility. And, there was nothing to say that in order to be successful (if that was ever possible) with IVF we wouldn't have to spend another $20K. That being said, we made the conscious decision to end all medical procedures to have a family.
We turned to adoption with a price tag of $25,000 (which is relatively inexpensive for international adoption). There is the federal tax credit which covers about $12,000, but we still had to come up with ALL the money up front without taking out any loans. How is this possible?
Well, we found a way and others do to. But, there is a better alternative.
There should be a place to turn for grant money. Having a family should not be based on financial capabilities. The grief and emotional burden of not being able to conceive a child is exacerbated by the strain and stress of finding money to become parents. It is a reality for those of us in this predicament, but I want to ease some of that stress. I cannot help everybody, but I want to offer hope that there is somewhere to turn to realize someone's dreams of parenthood.

A Little About Me

I have reached out to many different blogs over the weekend that have their own stories to tell about infertility and adoption. I posted comments on many of these blogs that will hopefully allow new people from all over the country to find my blog about starting this non-profit organization.
Welcome, if you are someone who has reached this blog through my attempt at networking.
It is hard to sum up any experience with infertility, but my story is like many others you may know.
We have male and female factor infertility. I have many medical conditions that make conceiving a child naturally nearly impossible and then keeping a pregnancy to full term all the more difficult. We underwent many different kinds of procedures over a three and a half year stint. There are no positive experiences to speak of while undergoing medical intervention.
We finally decided to adopt in March of 2007. Our son just came home in June of this year.
We are parents at last and loving every minute of it.
Infertility can make one seem like they are all alone in their grief. I hope you find solace in reading some of my entries.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Starting a non-profit

Starting a non-profit begins with a passion to help people. My personal experience with infertility and adoption give me the passion needed to help see this through. A vital factor in any non-profits success is its donors. Can I find people and organizations that believe in this cause as much as I do? I believe so.

Adoption and infertility touch everyone's lives in some way, even if it is far removed. Maybe your cousin's wife was adopted or your neighbors daughter underwent IVF successfully. It is important for the public to understand that not everyone can have a family in the "normal" way. Conception and fertility are very difficult for many Americans. Roughly 4 million Americans are going through infertility at this time. Infertility is defined by a couple trying to conceive naturally for at least a year without success (and this can include miscarriage). That is a lot of our fellow Americans.

Adoption often times goes along with infertility. Couples who cannot have biological children, but want to be parents decide to adopt. But, the financial cost is daunting. There is a federal tax credit for adopting, but often times couples need to come up with the money first and then wait for the tax credit (which is about $11,500). And, adoptions for infants, domestic or international often cost at least $20,000.

Many states have limited insurance coverage for infertility treatments. Those couples who need to undergo more extensive procedures are often stopped by the financial burden. It doesn't seem fair. Infertility is a medical condition. It shouldn't stop people from being able to go through the medical community in order to conceive a child.
I am seeking to find out the public's opinion on a cause such as this.
Would you be willing to make a taxable donation to this non-profit? Would you consider paying $150.00 a plate for a kick-off fundraiser to raise capital to get the non-profit going? Money is the underlying necesity to allow non-profits to help their cause.

Success to me means being able to offer grants to people who need financial help to have a family. Success to me means offering social support to individuals and couples going through the difficult experience of infertility and adoption.

To hear about my personal story visit my blog: http://ajanderica.blogspot.com

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Parenthood For Me

This is a non-proft organization being set up to help those undergoing expensive infertility treatments or adoption in order to have a family.
The financial and emotional strain for people going through infertility or the adoption process is enormous. This organization will be a source of social and monetary support. We will also provide educational tools to help those new to the process and to pass onto family and friends to help them understand the challenges of being unable to have a biological child and/or the strenuous adoption process.

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