Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Learning Moments

I thought I might intersperse my typical "infertilty sucks" posts with a few post about some mom stories. I will always start the title with "Learning Moments" so that anyone who doesn't want to read them can skip that post. I thought about calling them "Bad Mother Moments" which might be more accurate, but perhaps that is a bit too strong or at least makes it sound like I am looking for "your doing fine!" comments.

The first installment is . . . . Learning Moments: Setting Boundaries.

I have discovered that I am really bad at setting boundaries. Despite my disgust at seeing fertiles not control their kids or answering their requests with, in essence, "No. No. No. Yes.", I have found that I really struggle with this.

The other day, we were playing chase in a local Sho.pko. It was during the day, the store was practically empty, and I kept an eye out for other shoppers. LB isn't exactly a swift walker so it was pretty easy to contain our play. First I would chase her and then I would say, "You can't catch me!" and she will giggle and try to catch me as I would hide around the next corner.

LB positively LOVES this. She loves to walk just because she can and given our small house a store offers things she can't get either inside (because of size) or outside (lacking in obstacles and/or not lacking in cars).

Alas, all good things must come to an end. I don't want to be too obnoxious (lest there be some other infertiles in the store) so after a few minutes, I grabbed a cart and put LB in it.

LB instantly started crying like her world was ending. I suppose to her, it was. It was heartbreaking. Inside my head was the following conversation:

Heart: Oh, let her play!

Mind: We have shopping to do.

Heart: She was having so much fun. WE were having so much fun. Just this once.

Mind: Oh, ok.

Mind: No, wait! We already said "no". The time to keep playing is past.

Heart: Can't you hear her crying? Do you not see how sad she is? (Heart then tries to control arms and help LB back out of the cart.)

Mind: Must. Be. Strong. It is never going to be easier than this to teach LB that I am in charge. It is ok to put my needs first in this case. In the end, this will be good for both of us.

I am happy to report that LB did not get to run amok again. Eventually, I broke down and took her out of the cart and held her, but did not let her back down to walk around. Perhaps I shouldn't even have held her, but I reasoned it was a fair compromise given that she was overly tired as well as teething.

I honestly had no idea this would be hard for me. I am going to keep reminding myself to be strong (although not authoritarian, I hope) and to keep practicing. I don't want to become some 8 year old's(or God forbid, a teenager's!) personal servant.

If you have kids, did you struggle with this? How have you found a way to balance yours and your child's needs/wants? If you hope to have kids, how do you see yourself setting boundaries and sticking to them?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Reality Or Perception?

Before I get started on this post, I wanted to say thank you to all of the great thoughts and insights in the previous post.

I have recently had an experience that generated much discussion in my family over how dangerous the world really is.

Scene: Neighborhood park 2.5 blocks from my house. I am there with my 9 year old nephew, 4 year old nephew and LB - age 15 months. Unfortunately, our German Shepherd is also there with us after escaping out of the backyard. He is overly excited (because my nephews keep squealing every time he gets close making them great squeaky toys) and keeps running up and down on the play equipment - something he usually avoids. I don't have a leash and have decided the best thing to do is to leave the kids at the park and run home with the dog. I could take LB with me, but she would slow me down a great deal. I decide to leave the 9 year old in charge and tell him I will be less than 5 minutes. The oldest is nervous about being without an adult (and would not have agreed had the dog not been also very scary) so I point out a house across the street where there are obviously some adults home and tell him to run to that house if he gets scared for any reason.

I take the dog home, I am back in less than 5 minutes and everyone is well. I sit on the sidelines while my nephews crawl all over the play equipment for the next 30 minutes and occasionally assist LB in some minor adventures of her own.

Later, I tell my sister (my nephews' mother) about our adventures. She is shocked that I would not only leave a 9 year old in charge of a 4 year old and a 15 monty old, but says she wouldn't have even left her two kids alone in a neighborhood park for 5 minutes.

That starts which is to me a very disturbing conversation. The nine year old isn't even allowed, for example, to hang out in the toy aisle of a Target while she spends 20 minutes shopping. I spend the rest of the day - and on to the next - wondering if A) the world really is so much more dangerous than when were kids and B) how my nephews will cope with the world as they grow up if they continue to be so sheltered.

I don't know what was bothering me more - the thought that my nephews may grow up without the skills they need* or that there really is a boogy-man out to get LB.

Since that conversation, I have done a small amount of research at it appears that violent crime rates are actually lower than when I was a kid. There doesn't seem to be good data about abductions - especially from before 1980, but one fact that is often repeated is that there were 115 "stereotypical" abductions of children in a particular year (1999?). These were cases where a stranger kidnapped a child to murder, assault or keep the child. The other nearly 800,000 cases were abductions by family members, acquaintances (still scary), runaways and throw-aways (abandoned children or children that went missing and the parents didn't report it).

If there were only 115 stranger abductions that would put the likelihood of getting abducted at a little greater than the chance of getting struck by lightning.

Of course, if it happens to you, it doesn't matter what the statistics are. I wonder, though, how careful should we be? Is it crippling for a 9 year old to be afraid of being alone? I remember the first time I walked to the store alone. It was about 10 blocks from home along a very busy street. It was such a proud moment that I remember like it was yesterday. I was 5 years old. Many years later I learned that my father followed me that first time to make sure I was being careful, but I went on to walk even farther to school (I may have been as old as 9) and to ride my bike across town with my 11 year old sister to my grandparents house, among other adventures.

My memory is from the perspective of a child, but I remember our neighborhood being full of children riding bikes, playing games, running from house to house - only to return home at dusk. I don't remember adults doing more than checking in once in awhile. Well, that and feeding us when we got hungry.

I asked a slightly older friend of mine what she would have done in the above scenario. She agreed with me but added her children would have agreed with my sister. She added, "It is the age of paranoia."

What do you think? Are we protecting our children by constant vigilance or are we hurting a generation of children by being so afraid? Is the world really that much more dangerous or is it our perception? How are you raising / planning on raising your children?

*A part of the story I left out in order not to color your initial reaction is that the previous 30 minutes were spent trying to coax the 4 year old out of the coat closet because he missed his mom and the older one out of the bathroom because he couldn't deal with the younger one "having a meltdown".

Monday, September 14, 2009

What's In A Gene?

Not surprisingly, I have thinking about what it means to be genetically related.

The other day I was following LB as she walked down the street and I wondered how things would be different if she were my genetic offspring. I made a mental list: different hair and eye color, different temperament, different personality - in short, a different person. She would also be a different person if one of the other DE embryos implanted instead of her - suddenly that train of thought seemed rather pointless. I don't think I would love her or treat her any differently. The day to day stuff would all be the same. Does it really matter?

Several people who adopted with adult age children have told me, "It doesn't matter at all!" I continue to disagree. Although perhaps I misunderstood. Perhaps these people were trying to tell me that it doesn't matter at all in how you feel about your child and the way you raise them. The "big stuff" would all be the same. I think there is more to it than that. Here are some observations that paint a picture that it does matter.
  • My hairdresser is adopted and has zero interest in ever meeting his birth parents. The hairdresser in the station next to him met her birth family (the mother is not mentally well) at 13 and she loves having them in her life. She said it was great to be surrounded by people who laughed like her and shared so many traits. I wonder why it doesn't matter to him, but it does matter to her.
  • A friend's son had a child with a women my friend didn't like. This was from a short term relationship. She refused to meet her grandchild. When I asked why her answer was, "He doesn't even know if the child is his!" To my friend it was apparently irrelevant that her son had chosen to parent this child. Why is this child not family?
  • Brad has recently reconnected with his niece. She was born to his brother when his brother was 20 and also in a short term relationship. Brad's brother never had a relationship with his daughter and Brad hasn't seen her since he was around 19 and she was a few years old. He has been looking for her as long as I have known him. He finally found her on FB. They met for the first time last weekend. I got to join them for part of the meeting and we had a really nice time. Brad really hopes they will continue to get to know each other. I asked him why it was important. He said, "She is the only family I've got left." (He doesn't get along with the rest of his family.) Why is she family?
  • LB was crying the other day and her eyes appeared green - a shade that was very close to how my eyes look when I have been crying. I could imagine what it would have been like to see my eyes in her. It was a bittersweet moment. It was sweet to imagine sharing our eye color. It was sad to know I would never get to experience it outside of my imagination.
  • A fellow DE blogger has reconnected with her birth father. He told her that he was proud of her. If an unrelated stranger had said that to her it wouldn't have had nearly the impact. Why does it matter if the stranger is your genetic father?
The interesting thing is that when I ask people why it matters or not or why someone is family or not, they often don't have an answer. They try to answer it, but it seems they don't really know themselves. I suppose it is possible that they are trying to protect my feelings, but that is not my belief.

What are your thoughts? What makes someone family? What does it mean to have a genetic connection? Does it matter if the genetic contributor expected to help someone else conceive and not parent (as with donor eggs, donor sperm) compared to a surprise pregnancy where a decision needs to be made whether or not to parent? What questions / thoughts come to your mind when your are musing about genetics?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ready For This?

A friend of mine was thoughtful enough to point out the response to a "question of the week" in a Midwifery Today e-newsletter. I am sure it is obvious that I support homebirth, but this post isn't about that. This is about infertility and the vast amount of ignorance and unhelpful advice.

Please read the question and response below and then send an email.

Q: I have a friend who has been trying to get pregnant for at least two years now, probably three, without success. She is a powerful, healthy, active, spiritual woman. Her husband is a wonderful African dancer and has an individual providing spiritual guidance from Africa who has promised them that the baby will come someday. I am an RN and know the medical definition of infertility. I try to have hope for them but it is hard for me. My friend has had all the infertility tests run and has been told all is okay with her. I do not know about her husband. They cannot afford in vitro fertilization.

My friend has great faith and has, incredibly, not lost hope but I wish I had some information to give her besides the normal medical research on things that could help her get pregnant. I know this is a struggle so many other women deal with too. Any ideas?


A: The advice I give most couples trying to get pregnant is to have sex in places other than their bedroom...have sex in every room in the house! It's a lot of fun and works like a charm.

— Donna Harnett

Before you get too worked up, I understand that this question / answer forum is open to the public and Donna Harnett is likely a reader of the e-newletter and not a staff member of Midwifery Today. Still, I think the person answering the question needs some further advice, don't you?

Please send an email to: mtensubmit@midwiferytoday.com
On the subject line put: Question of the Week
At the top of the email put: RE: The response to the infertility question by Donna Harnett in E-News issue 11-18.

In the body of the email, I suggest you give some good advice to the question. Please be polite. I hope the next prints some of our responses.

Here is mine:

I'm sorry, but if Maira accepts the advice from Donna Harnett, the most likely response is that she will damage her friendship to a point that it may never recover.

I have personally experienced infertility for over seven years. Having sex in every room of the house probably happened in the first year. This wasn't done because it 'works like a charm', but as a way to try to make having sex fun again after months of timed intercourse and having sex when the time is right even if the mood isn't. I suspect the fun part of sex died out years ago.

Here is my answer to the question:

Dear Maira:

My advice is to tell your Friend that you are here to listen any time and as often as needed. Please don't offer advice or stories about how "a friend of mine finally adopted, gave up, got drunk, took a vacation or whatever and got pregnant." Those things do happen, but the stories are told because they are so rare.

After 3 years it is unlikely, although not impossible, for your friend to get pregnant on her own. I hope she will find a way to deal with the financial side of fertility treatments (which have their own set of stresses), but either way she needs friends right now - friends who are willing to listen to her grief and sorrow again and again if necessary. If your friend seems distant, reach out to her. It is easy to pull away from friends who cannot not or will not understand the cycles of grief and hope that come with trying to conceive. It is often easier to isolate oneself from the more "fertile" world than to deal with pregnancy announcements, baby stories and advice that trivializes instead of validating her experience.

You may also want to read some books (or blogs - try starting with Stirrup Queens) to further understand what your friend may be going through. Even try asking her how she is doing or what it is like. If she doesn't want to talk about it, let it go. If she does, it may be just what she needs.

Thank you for wanting to support your friend during what may be the most trying time of her life.


I wonder what the questions / answer might have been like had it been a different medical issue. Below is my dear husband's interpretation:

Q: I have a friend who has been fighting cancer for at least two years now, probably three, without success. She is a powerful, healthy, active, spiritual woman. Her husband is a wonderful African dancer and has an individual providing spiritual guidance from Africa who has promised them that a long life. I am an RN and know the medical definition of cancer. I try to have hope for them but it is hard for me. My friend has had all the tests run and has been told all is okay with her. I do not know about her husband. They cannot afford in chemotherapy.

My friend has great faith and has, incredibly, not lost hope but I wish I had some information to give her besides the normal medical research on things that could help her get better. I know this is a struggle so many other people deal with too. Any ideas?


A: The advice I give most couples trying fighting cancer is to have eat lemons...eat lemons in every room in the house! It's a lot of fun and works like a charm.

— Donna Harnett

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Sound Of Magic

A heartbeat. What a wonderful thing to hear. I have gotten complacent in this pregnancy. LB keeps me sufficiently busy that I don't have time forget to pay attention to this new baby. Unlike LB where I could not believe we would ever have a baby, but still appreciated each moment I was pregnant; now I (all interfering gods look away) expect to have a live baby, but forget to appreciate this moment.

Then yesterday my midwife could not find the heart tones. She wasn't worried, 12 weeks is at the limit of where she can pick up heart tones with the doppler. I wasn't worried and decided that I would not give it any mind share until my next appointment (with the OB) in two weeks. Then I woke up in the middle of the night thinking, "What if this baby dies because I didn't pay attention to it?" I know noticing or not noticing will have no effect at all, but a middle-of-the-night mind doesn't have much reason. I spent some time talking to this little one and telling him I am so glad he is here and how I think he will really like his big sister, etc."

The next morning I felt more rational and felt that everything would be ok. But then I thought I was pregnant with our 3rd IVF and I wasn't. Wouldn't it be just my luck to regain some trust in our ability to go from pregnancy to a baby only to be knocked down again? Perhaps my confidence is unfounded. Maybe the baby is already dead. No, don't think like that - alive or not there is nothing I can do about it, I might as well assume the best and go about my day.

Nah! Let's show up at the OB's office and get a heartbeat! I packed LB into the car, grabbed two egg sandwhiches at a local fast food restaurant (I kid you not, LB can eat nearly an entire sandwhich) and off we went. I called on the way - as soon as they opened- and said I could be there at 9:00. My sister met me there just in case we got bad news. Again, I wasn't really worried, but you just never know.

And then . . .

Ahhhhh . . . heart tones. Magic.

a reminder to be here now. I am pregnant and never will be again. I may not be able to give this experience all the attention I gave the last pregnancy, but I can do better. Especially if it doesn't give LB a sibling, but even it does, I want to know that I appreciated and enjoyed the process as much as possible.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Singing The Blues

Thank you everyone for your support and advice. After reading many comments that basically said, "Why be miserable?", I called my OB to discuss it further.

I told him that I am only really sad about 20-40% of the time, but when I am, it is bad and I am quite miserable (well, for me - not to trivialize the experience people who deal with depression on a daily basis). During those times I want a way out, but then the next morning or later that day I will be feeling better and think that I can just tough it out.

He said that it is not uncommon to feel more sad or get depressed when progesterone drops during pregnancy. This happens naturally around 15 to 16 weeks. It also happened just two weeks ago when I stopped my PIO shots.

His advice is to make it through the next 4 weeks and if my mood doesn't improve, then by all means we can look into a chemical solution. I can do 4 weeks.

I know I was depressed quite a bit with LB well passed the 16 week mark, but as I said, I was also grieving. I am hopeful things will get better. In the meantime lots of walks and chocolate. Hmm . . . I guess I am already using the chemical solution. Nothing like a little self medication with the good stuff.