Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Crescent Moon


 I am linking up with Keiko from the Infertility Voice and Pamela from Silent Sorority to participate in their Open Salon, "To Mom or Not to Mom." They created this to discuss both sides of the motherhood debate from their unique perspectives. Why? To parse out the concerns and vulnerabilities of transition within the ALI (adoption/loss/infertility) community without tripping over political correctness and delicate sensibilities.

Head over to each of their blogs to read some very interesting points of view. 

Below is my contribution to the project.

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I sit here staring at my computer screen because I don't know exactly what to write. I have on pajamas and a thick pair of socks I took from my dad the last time we were at our cottage. It's just after 9PM and I am exhausted. Each day is so full. Raising two young boys sucks the life out of me. I really don't feel like I can ever fit it all in. And there are days when I look around at my house and feel like it oozes filth.

But tonight the vacuuming will have to wait. The clothes will remain in the laundry basket. I need to formulate this post; I have been waiting a long time.

I look down at my belly and it is protruding all of a sudden. I am 17 weeks pregnant and still cannot believe that this is really happening to me- to us. I have known about the pregnancy for 13 weeks, and it is just beginning to seem real. I can finally say the words and not feel like I am speaking of someone else. But often it still feels like an outer-body experience. I have accepted that this is my truth, but my fragile heart and mind teeter on the edge of disbelief.

After 8 1/2 years of battling infertility, I finally got a positive pregnancy test. I will never forget that morning. I called AJ right away and through massive sobs told him the news. I was in my office at work; no one else was there. I called my RE's office and basically shouted in the phone, I'm pregnant!
The secretary put my doctor on the phone. When I heard his kind voice with an accent proclaim, "Oh, Erica, this is such wonderful news," I realized that was just one of some many things I waited over 8 years to experience. Even though I love my second RE (who was my doctor for the majority of my TTC journey), I was never able to experience anything good at their practice. It was all sad and complicated and extremely difficult.

Yesterday at a routine doctor visit, I heard the baby's heart beat for the first time in a month. Immediately after the Doppler touched my abdomen, there it was- strong and loud. Such a pure sound. I haven't cried much since the first week of finding out. But when I hear that sound or see baby on the ultrasound screen, I tear up. S/he's in there growing and thriving. The heart beat is strong. I can already tell s/he is a fighter. Almost like he knows what mommy and daddy have been through.

My OB (having an OB is a triumph in and of itself) said to me," That must be such a great sound after all you have been through."

He has no idea.

We waited until the end of the first trimester to tell people besides our immediate family. And I have waited until this point to write about my pregnancy for several different reasons. I understand completely that my news may be painful for others. I know all too well the bitter sweet tug at the heart upon hearing pregnancy announcements. And the ironic part for me over the past few years is that the pregnancies of women who didn't ever think they would get pregnant were harder for me to deal with. I just kept thinking if a miracle happened for them, why not me? I just could not let go my vision of a pregnancy. For some reason even after Wee came home and we were all so happy, I did not feel like I was done yet. I knew I wouldn't adopt again, but I strongly felt that I would have another child. I just didn't know how.

I haven't been able to write about my pregnancy because I didn't know what to say. We are extremely grateful for this opportunity, but I never imagined I would feel such a vast array of emotions. I spent so much time thinking about getting pregnant, I never had the chance to learn about or understand the actual pregnancy.

One of my first mental challenges was a looming question. Where do I fit in now? I won't be just an adoptive mom because I will have a biological child. I have the awesome opportunity to be an adoptive mother which sets me apart from those who are not adoptive parents. And no matter what the circumstances I will never have the innocence of most during their first pregnancy.  I am pregnant and will get to experience everything that goes with it, but that is where the similarities end. 

I felt somewhat lost and hoped that my place in this community was still in tact. I realize my story may end up differently than I ever imagined, but there will always be one thing that links me to everyone who has experienced infertility. I know and appreciate the toll that infertility can take on a human being. Despite my end result, I will always be infertile. I will never forget having to ask myself what I will do with my life if motherhood isn't part of it. Infertility does not define me, but it is part me forever like my green eyes and silly sense of humor.

 I feel the weight of my 8 1/2 years of IF. But I am trying very hard to live in the moment. No matter what this is my only pregnancy to cherish.Slowly I have come to understand that my realization of a dream can offer hope to others. I have so much perspective to share. And those of you who have been reading my blog for a long time know that I am honest about my feelings. The realities of infertility are too hard to ignore. Over the past few months I have thought of several different posts to write- lessons I am learning now that I am on the "other side." I am working toward gaining even more compassion and will take this chance I have been given to continue working to help others become parents.
In the past few days my stomach has "popped" as they say. Walking by a mirror or window and catching a glimpse of my protruding belly will never occur without a double take. I have to show my brain that my eyes are not playing tricks on me.

Not too long ago I wrote a post about my slim chance of conceiving. I had a Crescent Moon Size Chance of getting pregnant naturally. And I as I wrote then, I guess that was all I needed. Maybe it is all you need as well.



Monday, October 22, 2012

Our First IVF Baby

In the spring I went to the PFM PO Box as I routinely do. I wasn't expecting much to be there as we had just finished up the 2012 gala. I spotted a blue envelope and eagerly opened the card.

As I read the words tears spilled down my cheeks. One of our medical grantees from 2011 had recently given birth to a baby boy. This was the first success (as far as I know) that we celebrated from a grantee who had undergone an ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) procedure.

We have helped a total of 7 couples with ART medical expenses so far (since 2010). With the difficult odds that IF sufferers face when doing IUI or IVF, I know that our grant money helps give people a chance at conception. But it is never a sure thing. These are the people that we have tried to touch base with after receiving the grant. But until now we had never heard back from anyone. This doesn't mean that no one has been successful; but we are left to wonder if they found their way out of IF or are still hoping for their own miracle.

I have been given permission to share with you the testimonial written by Dan and Marybeth about the pregnancy, birth, and young life of their son, Faolan.

Seeing his little face reinforces within me why I chose to devote such a large part of my life to helping those suffering through infertility. It helps me to understand my own difficult journey to parenthood.

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"On the day I was waiting for the results of my last pregnancy test, I started singing "You Are My Sunshine," but by the time I got to, "You'll never know, dear, how much I love you," I was choking back tears. I could barely complete, "Please don't take my sunshine away," and didn't even attempt the part about dreaming and waking up mistaken. To date, my husband, Daniel, and I had been trying to conceive for five years. For the past two, we had completed eleven failed intrauterine inseminations, accompanied by surgeries, monitoring, fertility drugs, Chinese herbs, special diets, acupuncture, Reiki, yoga, Maya abdominal massage, and more. With the costs of in vitro fertilization (IVF) seeming so far beyond our budget, we tried any and every alternative approach that had ever worked for anyone else. But our options were running out. The doctors had suggested that we move on to IVF, which would improve our chances of conceiving, give us more information regarding why our previous attempts had failed, and perhaps help us address any issues discovered along the way.

As many struggling with infertility know, however, IVF procedures and medications can easily cost anywhere between $10- and $20,000, none of it covered by insurance. We couldn't fathom any way for us to afford such expenses, yet we also couldn't picture the devastating possibility of remaining childless forever. Then I learned of Parenthood For Me, which I read like this: Parenthood? For me? Am I really going to get the chance? The name gave us hope that it could happen, and the organization gave us much more. After we shared our story, they granted Daniel and me a significant sum to help us pay for our costs. Amazingly, I received the news only days before we had to make a decision to go ahead with the IVF or not. A couple weeks later, we were completing the procedures. And a couple weeks after that, a little while after I broke down to "You Are My Sunshine," I learned that I was pregnant.

After a blissful pregnancy, our son, Faol├ín, finally arrived on March 2, 2012, a healthy 7 lbs, 1 oz. Our very own miracle. Tonight, when I put him to bed, I sang "You Are My Sunshine" once again, as I do every night. But I have since changed the lyrics to, "And when I woke, dear, there you were. So I raised my head and I cried." Every day, every moment we spend with him, we feel gratitude to all the wonderful and caring people who helped him find his way to us. The members and contributors of Parenthood For Me are at that top of that list.     

Thank you Parenthood For Me!"

- Daniel and Marybeth C.


"We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us."
- Joseph Campbell


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