Category Archives: Infertility

Perfect Moment Monday: Warmer than the Warmest Sunshine

Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than about creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between.

We gather here once a week to engage in mindfulness about something that is right with our world. Everyone is welcome to join. Details on how to participate are at the bottom of this post, complete with bloggy bling.

Please visit the links of the participants at the bottom.


Here’s a perfect moment from my week. I hope you’ll share yours, too.

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DURING my infertility days, this was my theme song.

But shortly AFTER fulfilling my dream of being a mom, I found a new tune I sang triumphantly. It became an anthem I would croon to my children for the first 5 years or so.

I hadn’t heard the song (which my Dad sang to me back in the day) in a long while but it popped up on my iPod while mowing the lawn yesterday (yes! I now mow lawns!).

And because the mower was so loud, I could happily yell sing along with Petula. Here are the lyrics. I’ve bolded the lines that makes it such a triumphant song, when sung to my babies.

My Love
My love is warmer than the warmest sunshine

Softer th
an a sigh.
My love is deeper than the deepest ocean

Wider than the sky.

My love is brighter than the brightest star

That shines every night above

And there is nothing in this world
That can ever change my love

Something happened to my heart the day that I met you
Something that I never felt before
You are always on my mind no matter what I do
And everyday it seems that I want you more

(Chorus)

Once I thought that love was meant for anyone else but me
Once I thought you’d never come my way
Now it only goes to show how wrong we all can be
For now I have to tell you everyday

(Chorus)


Who’d a thunk when I was there that I’d end up here?

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Book Tour: The Land of IF

Like so many others, I am excited to have read and to discuss Navigating the Land of IF: Understanding Infertility and Exploring Your Options as this selection of the Barren Bi+ches Book Brigade.

Why? Two reasons. One: the author is my friend Melissa Ford; and Two: it’s a damn good book. My exile on the island of Infertility and my odyssey back to the mainland would have been much more bearable had I had this straight-talking, informative, humorous and compassionate travel guide.

I endured infertility in solitude and in shame. Little did I know that there were so many others in the same boat. I thought I was the only unlucky one at the time.

People today don’t have to go it alone. There is someone to show them the way, a fabulous guidebook to answer questions, help prepare mentally, physically, emotionally and financially, and to ease anxiety.

Here are my selected questions and answers. For more depth, see my interview with Melissa here.

What is something you wish were covered in the book or what knocked your socks off on how it was explained?
I was amazed at how much WAS covered in such a compact guide. 

The topic I most wish had been available to me during my time on the island was the advice about the hysterosalpingogram. I definitely should have insisted on getting some Vali.um beforehand.

Did you read the book from front to back, or did you turn immediately to a certain chapter? If so, which chapter? Are there any chapters that you purposely avoided?
I opened up to “my” chapter, Chapter 9, right away because it’s about the neighborhood I am most familiar with, The Adoption Option.

I considered just skimming the rest of the book. After all, I was not going to go through any of the other neighborhoods (treatments, donor gametes, living childfree) in this lifetime, so why bother?

But in the skimming, I was drawn in by Mel’s wit and compassion. She’s magnetic. I read every word.

If you are a reader of Melissa’s blog, did you find the book to be a same or different style and why?
Same style, which is why I couldn’t put it down.

Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at Stirrup Queens. You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: Moose, by Stephanie Klein.

The Bad News Island: An Interview With Tour Guide Melissa Ford

In MY day, when people found out they couldn’t have children, they gave up their power to the men in the white coats. We allowed the men in white coats to poke and prod us without completely understanding the whys. We suffered alone, isolated. And we liked it! We loved it!

Today, wussy modern people confronted with infertility will have a much easier time of it, thanks to the recently released book, Navigating the Land of IF: Understanding Infertility and Exploring Your Options. The Land of IF is a guidebook for a place just off the mainland, a place where one in six people find themselves marooned. Author Melissa Ford, has explored every nook and cranny of this formerly insular jungle-of-a-place, and she indulged me in a few questions about her journey to parenthood and to authorhood.

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You decided to become a tour guide for an island where no one wants to go. Huh?
Well, someone had to do it! Actually, there are a lot of really good books out there for infertility, but they were all missing items here and there. I wanted to cover the basics, but also make sure that all of the questions I still had after I put those books down were answered. Such as what happens if you hit a blood vessel during an injection? Or what are the various IVF protocols?

I also wanted one book for everyone: primary, secondary, situational, biological, young, old, single, or married. This doesn’t mean that everyone will love the book because they may hate my writing style, or how inclusive it is, or any other reason. But I wanted the door to be open to everyone who wanted to walk through by using inclusive language, considering a plethora of situations, and including information for everyone in the community.

You call this island the Land of IF. What does IF mean?
IF is the online abbreviation (on bulletin boards and blogs) for infertility, but “if” is also a huge part of infertility. “If” also conveys the uncertainty and leaps of faith one needs to take daily with infertility.

You’ve done a lot of actual travel. What did you look for in a good guide book? And how did you incorporate this into the Land of If?
I looked for consistency between chapters/cities and information I could use. I love Lonely Planet and Let’s Go because they both skip the pictures and essays about the place (well, they contain that in a small amount) and instead use the space to list the important information you need while you’re there, keeping in mind all people and not just a small subsection of the traveling population. They don’t make assumptions about your financial situation or your interests. They just throw it all in there along with a few helpful tips that will help you bypass difficulties while on the road.

Everyone gets off the island eventually, one way or another. What neighborhoods did you hang out in and what was your path off the island?
It’s an interesting question because I had the neighbourhood I lived in (and most of us only own one home), but many neighbourhoods that I visited due to friends or family members living in other spaces. Many of my childhood friends ended up going through infertility with me, and, of course, I met people along the way through Resolve and now blogs.

In addition, I think the way off the island is really an emotional journey. You can have children and still not resolve your infertility or you can stop the family building process and still not resolve your infertility. There is a saying with Resolve that children resolve childlessness, not infertility. And I find that to be very true.

So my path off the island was a lot of self-searching and finding peace with the journey. But my neighbourhoods while on the island (and I’m still living over here because we’re not finished with our family building) were primary infertility and early loss, with our apartment building being the Injectable IUI Cycle Towers.

When did it first strike you to write the Land of If? What was that a-ha moment where you thought, “This must be written?” — was it a sudden or gradual realization?
It actually started out as a very different book — a book for non-infertile men and women to read to understand the infertility experience. I came downstairs one morning and my husband, Josh, was angrily writing a response to an advice columnist. He had followed an intriguing sentence from the “front page” of the online newspaper to read a question about adoption. And her advice was crap. We were talking about it with my parents that night and they said, “well, you can do something about this. You could write something. You’re both writers.”

I started writing that book, but realized after a chapter or two that it wasn’t a good fit. It wasn’t flowing and it didn’t feel comfortable. I switched it to being a book for me, for my community. And that’s when it clicked.

Would this book have come about if not for your blog, Stirrup Queens?
I don’t know. I don’t think so. I guess one thing that makes this book very different from all other infertility books is that it has this living, breathing counterpart — the blog — and the author is completely accessible. I tell you to join a community and vent your frustrations, but then I also participate in said community and make sure you’re welcomed inside by maintaining the blogroll and Lost and Found. I hope people who read the book then step through the fourth wall that sometimes exists between the author and the reader and communicate with me, either through the blog or by emailing or meeting me at a reading.

Why would someone who is NOT experiencing infertility want to pick up this book?
To better understand someone they know who is experiencing infertility. I don’t know how many people who are not experiencing infertility will pick up this book, but that’s okay. The words are there for everyone to use who is experiencing infertility and they can pass them along in conversation with people outside the experience.

How different would your own IF journey have been if you’d had this book?
I probably would have felt less lonely. The exercises in the book I used to make decision and I included one of the real decision webs we made before we started treatments. And I took my sister’s advice to heart a lot and still do in living my life. But I wish I had known about the online community back then. It was small, but still existed. I wish I had known about blogs and read them.

There is a lot of humor in your book. Can you talk about the importance of levity while putzing around on the Isle of If?
If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. And even as you laugh, you’ll still cry. I think it’s important to note that having a sense of humour doesn’t mean that you’ll laugh your way through every insemination or egg retrieval or meeting with the adoption facilitator. It means that you’ll bring whatever levity you can to every situation while also honouring the enormity of the situation.

One time, when we were at the beginning of a very early loss, we stopped at a rest stop while driving and when I saw the blood in my panties, I instinctively took off my glasses and threw them. In this very dirty gas station bathroom. And after I had cried and cried and cried, I realized that I couldn’t see anything without the glasses–especially in the dim bathroom light — and didn’t know where they were outside the stall and feared that I would step on them in my attempt to find them. So I could cry but still see the amusement in having thrown my glasses — the ridiculousness of it all.

What is your marker of success with this book. I mean, how will you know when you’ve accomplished your goal(s) in writing it?
If someone writes me and says that it helped them breathe. That it made anything easier or shed light on something that had been muddled in their brain prior to reading it. If people feel that it is inclusive and respects everyone in the adoption/loss/infertility (ALI) community. I wish it could also speak to those outside the community and hopefully the book is respectful to other members of the adoption triad, doctors, nurses, surrogates. It is hard to write balancing everyone, but if I did so overall, I will think the book is a success.

What other projects are you working on, books or otherwise?
Right now, I’m finishing up a work of fiction. I needed something lighter and less research driven this winter/spring. As I complete that project and release that, I have three more non-fiction ideas that I’m tossing around. It is interesting because at the same time, I thought up four non-fiction projects that sat well with me and four fiction projects. So I would love to weave back and forth between the two — with the heavier topics being balanced by the lighter ones.

You’ve tweeted that you’ve been writing sm.ut. Is writing sm.ut as much fun as writing about timed intercourse and hormone levels?
Oh, timed intercourse wins out every time. There is nothing more joyous than writing about timed intercourse EXCEPT writing about home inseminations.

Give us the sales pitch. Where can we get your book?
Navigating the Land of If has its own website where I post information such as readings and where to purchase the book. You can get it at any bookstore in the US as well as online from sites such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Borders.

This interview originally appeared on BlogCritics.org. Comments here are always welcome (I’m kind of a comment wh.ore); Melissa and I would both appreciate any comments left on BlogCritics, as well.

Book Tour: The Red Tent

The first time I read The Red Tent:

  • I was living in the land in which Part One was set (today’s northern Syria).
  • I was undergoing IVF in isolation, away from family and friends. No internet (gasp!).
  • I was in the midst of producing the K-12 school play, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (that year, it was my most prized creation — I so loved working with those kids on that story).

Anita Diamant’s novel spoke to my soul at that time. I wailed with Rachel about the unfairness of our barrenness, even as I secretly feared being pregnant and giving birth.

Years later, my life looks very different. I have two children, though I have never once been on the bricks. I am back in my homeland, surrounded by family and friends, my village who supports me in parenting. I still do listen to Joseph on occasion.

This time around, I STILL love the book, even though it speaks to me in different ways. While the first reading related to my individual circumstances, this second reading brought out some of the universality of the experience of being female, from a time when the Divine Feminine was receding, even as today She is re-emerging. (One could look at Abraham’s time as the beginning of a long-enduring round of patriarchy. Only now, several millennia later, are we approaching balance in masculine and feminine energies again.)

I specifically loved one line in the book (p. 40), when Leah was on the bricks, assisted by her sisters and the midwife. “Look at the royal throne of sisters you have,” said Inna. I see this sentiment as a metaphor for the ALI community, a royal throne of sisters supporting each other as we bear children, bear loads of varying weights, and bear witness to our stories.

Now for the book group questions.

Women’s relationships to higher power(s) are complicated. Jacob brings with him the one God, but that is not any of the gods of their childhoods. And it is to the gods of her family that Rachel calls with her simple and desperate ultimatum: “Give me children or I will die.” In the context of your own relationship (or lack thereof) to a higher power, do you feel entitled to the same kind of an ultimatum?
There is a scene in The Last Temptation of Christ where a pre-mission Jesus goes into the desert and draws a circle around himself, saying he will not move from the circle until God gives him what he wants — revealment.

Yes, I felt like drawing a circle around myself and giving an ultimatum to God. There was a time when I did think I would die from barrenness. And at the time, that would have been all right with me.

Dinah is awaited and welcomed by all of Jacob’s wives. The one daughter, the one to carry all their stories, all their voices. In the context of the book it is a literary device that allows the author to tell us stories of Jacob’s wives from their own perspectives. But what does it speak of to you? In your own life, have you felt, as Dinah does, a carrier of living memory? Do you feel your own voice to be better protected in the age of the blog, or do you see an enduring need for connection across generations?
I am one of four carriers of living memory in my clan — I am blessed with a mom and sisters who also preserve our family stories. They have better memories than I — I have to write everything down in order to capture. I am the Documentarian of my own stories, but we carry equally our family’s legends and lore.

I had never really thought of connecting across the generations through blogging. But now that I do (think about it), I would hope that my own journey to parenthood, as well as my larger spiritual journey, would speak to someone who may not even be born yet.

For a time uber-fertile Leah and barren Rachel did not speak to each other. “She could not smile at her sister while her own body remained fruitless.” Was there a time in your experience with infertility when you ceased communicating with your fertile friends/relatives. Did something finally bring you together or did you drift apart?
Elektra and I became friends when we were both single. We laughed with and counseled each other as we dated, through heartbreaks and losers.

Finally, I met Roger and Elektra met Rob. Both were the kind of men we’d only dreamed of — upstanding, funny, stable, loyal, lovable and loving. Our weddings took place within a year of each other’s. Roger and I went overseas to teach, Elektra and Rob went to Africa to do the same. We reunited in Denver, eager to begin raising our children together.

Elektra knew of our fertility troubles and was completely sensitive and compassionate. One day, Rob, who worked downtown in an office building near mine — who could not have known the devastating news I’d just received from my RE — burst into my office, erupting with news that was uncontainable. Elektra was pregnant! Isn’t that great!?

Elektra was furious at him for handling the news this way — she had been trying to find the “right” way (is there one?) to help me deal with her feast during my famine. It was impossible to be mad at Rob for doing what any newly expectant father would do — burst at the seams with happy tidings.

I did have to put space between us for awhile. But as it turned out, Tessa was born just a few months later. By the time Elektra gave birth, I was already an old hand at mothering an infant. We re-bonded and remain close friends to this day. Her son and daughter are just a few months younger than my daughter and son. We are certain the four of them will someday marry in a double ceremony and make us happy Grandmothers.

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Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at Stirrup Queens . You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: Navigating the Land of If by Melissa Ford. (Hint: It’s really, really good.)