Saturday, June 18, 2011

Reproductively Challenged

I want to first of all say that God sends blessings to us in ways we never think are possible. As a bit of background, I have been the Women’s Ministry director at our church for the past two years. I have struggled with finding something unique that I could add to the many things our church already does for the members and the community. There are many groups under the Women’s Ministry umbrella that were there before I started and function completely independent of me and my meager budget. Some groups even had their own budgets. I spent many hours trying to figure out what group or event I could plan that someone like me would attend. I’m busy with a husband, friends, family and full-time work. What kind of event would I be willing to drive the 20 minutes out to the church to attend?

It took me a good 18 months to admit that the word infertility applied to us. It took another 3 months of God’s nagging (there has to be a better word) to get me to start the support group that our community needs. I figured that Scott and I were not the only ones who are going through this, but Satan uses isolation, fear, and shame to beat us down and keep us from living the lives God has called us to lead. Our small group, called Third Thursdays, is now 4 months old. I am so blessed to have a group of women who know exactly how I feel. They know the answers to some of my questions. They feel the same longing that I feel and they can articulate it way better than I can. It is good to know that I am not alone. It is also very cool to think that God used me to help these other ladies, even if I add nothing to the mix and they help each other. God is so good.

I continue to be impressed with these women’s resiliency and hope. We share a lot of hard things, but we also share a lot of laughter. I want to share with you a list of things we, the reproductively challenged, want to ban from the general discussion all together. We compiled this list while laughing, but there are some things people say, with all good intentions, which are not helpful and can even be hurtful. Some of these have been said to me and some are things others have heard.

10 Things that the Adopting or Reproductively Challenged Couple Probably Doesn’t Want to Hear

  1. “Just get drunk, you’ll get pregnant.”
  2. “Try going on vacation.”
  3. “You’re young, you have plenty of time.”
  4. So many people are getting pregnant. “It must be in the water!”
  5. “Just take my kids for the night, and then you’ll never want kids again.”
  6. “Just relax, when you stop thinking about it, it will happen.” Fact: Stress is not a significant cause of infertility.
  7. Any complaints about how miserable you are with your pregnancy. You may be uncomfortable, but please count those symptoms or annoyances as opportunities to be thankful for your pregnancy.
  8. For those who are adopting – “Are you just giving up on having your own baby?” Or “Don’t you want your OWN baby?”
  9. “As soon as you adopt you will have one of your own. Chuckle, chuckle.” We know that you may be uncomfortable and not know what to say. But, please don’t say this. The fact is the number of infertile people who get pregnant after pursuing adoption is the same number of infertile people who get pregnant after ending fertility treatments. 5-12% maybe, if the internet can be trusted. The factor of deciding to adopt or adopting a child is not relevant. And who knows, maybe those who conceived after adopting did not have fertility problems to begin with.
  10. “Maybe God is punishing you for something. Have you confessed your sins?”

It was cathartic for us to make this list. I share this with you to help us all make the world a better, more sensitive place. This blog has had 2475 page views, 261 of those in June alone. Now, that may just be my mom and one of our good friends in Scotland, but I am guessing not. Our readers include someone (or people) in Canada, Russia, Ireland, Thailand, Taiwan, Germany, Malaysia, India and Iran. Scott and I hope that our openness can help someone else who may be experiencing something similar.

If you know someone who is reproductively challenged, the best thing to say may be, "I'm sorry you're going through this. I know it's difficult, and I hope things work out for you. Let me know if there's anything I can do." If you are reproductively challenged yourself, we offer that to you.


Monday, June 13, 2011

BOOK REPORT: Freakanomics and Cinderella Ate My Daughter

Freakanomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner and Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein. I’m not sure how many people would put these two books together and on top of that call them both must-read parenting books, but I would and I do. These books came highly recommended after a very interesting debate with some beloved friends. I feel a bit smarter for having read both.

The first is a collaboration between a journalist and an economist. Levitt and Dubner take on issues (among others) such as “Does what you name your child affect his success in life?” “Does the number of books in your home help your child be more successful?” The answer to both turns out to be a surprising “No.” Both are actually indicators (rather than causes) of a child’s socioeconomic status which plays a bigger role than many other factors in a child’s future success. I’m sure the writers did not intend this to be a parenting book, but it presents answers to many issues that parents will care about and actually may make parenting a bit less stressful. BTW, I know I must be the last person in the world to read this book since it came out in 2005.

In the second, Orenstein confronts the princess and pink culture created for girls by juggernaut Disney and others out to market their goods to your daughters. The most interesting part of this book is when she takes a break from hating on Disney, Nickelodeon and Mattel to really explore the reasons (aside from nearly 24/7 marketing campaigns) that girls are so drawn to the whole pretty-pretty-princess thing. Turns out it may have more to do with a developmental period around ages 3-6 when girls (and boys) are trying to understand the permanence of gender, rather than the hypothesis that girls just like pink. She cites studies that are investigating the natural differences between boys and girls. She discusses how same- and cross- gender play helps children develop. I would have liked her to spend more time on discussion of self-esteem development despite the influences of our consumer culture, but maybe she covered that in her first book Schoolgirls.

The book appears thoroughly researched with quite the bibliography, but reads like it was written by an intelligent women who has been driven slightly mad by too many hours of the Disney Channel. The tone of the book fluctuates from militaristic feminist to rational discussion. Feels like it was written fast and not really edited for consistency of tone. But it was good enough that I read it in less than a week, and I would be willing read more of her work.

Neither book is written by a psychologist, but rather by journalists examining problems they see in the world. I feel like Orenstein’s book may be making a mountain out of a mole hill, while Freakanomics does just the opposite.


Monday, June 6, 2011


Last month’s 1-hour talk with the doctor has sparked hours of conversation, hours of thought and maybe a few tears. The doctor told us there was no reason we should not have already had a baby or at least a pregnancy. All the 2000 parts are in working order. Whew. Good news there. I guess. I had kind of hoped that there was some one small thing wrong that we could correct. Maybe hair color? The doc said redheads have a higher propensity of endometriosis. But I am not a natural redhead. If it helps through, I could be a blonde again. Or even a brunette (gasp). Nope. Nothing so simple, because there is nothing wrong.

He gave us two options. IVF and IUI. These options were no surprise. After all Scott used to work there. We know the services they sell. We’ve considered both. IVF is cost prohibitive for us. More importantly we feel called to spend that kind of money adopting a child who is already here. A child who needs our home. IVF may be for some people. Not us. Not right now.

IUI. That is a different story entirely. With insurance and our medical savings account the cost is not so intimidating. The treatment is not so invasive. We’ve decided to do it in the future. But we are not going to tell you when. We don’t want to get your hopes up; because the success rate is low. We don’t want to get our hopes up either. We don’t really want to be disappointed again.

More than 2 years ago we had a positive pregnancy test. We had an OB appointment. But we didn’t have the little flutter on the ultrasound that is a heartbeat. We had gotten excited and told our parents and friends too early. We learned that good news spreads fast, but the bad news does not disseminate so easily or quickly. It is no fun to meet acquaintances who expect you to be 6 months pregnant when you aren’t. The conversation is awkward.

We lay in bed and talked about sharing this with you, the entire world. Scott reminded me of our commitment to being honest about this journey. To crafting a blog that documents the real emotions, the good, the bad, and the vulnerable, of infertility, adoption and building a family. I reminded him about the raw hurt of having to answer follow-up questions from our well-meaning community of friends and family. So here I am writing it, because he is right. The Next Chapter is incomplete if we don’t put it all out there.

Please trust that we will let you know if it is successful. But it will be in our own time. If you don’t hear from us about it in 6 months, you can guess that it probably didn’t work. But maybe, for our sake, please don’t ask.

IUI doesn’t mean that we don’t want to adopt or that we are putting that process on hold. It just means that we are exploring our options for having a biological child. If it works, great. If it works AND we get the call for a baby to adopt, fantastic. Then there will be two (“If we have two, it will be fantastic,” Scott just said over my shoulder, “because then we’ll be four. The Fantastic Four.”).

So in conclusion, we believe in family, in community, in honesty. We believe that we can’t be the only ones going through this. So as hard as it is, as tough as it is to be vulnerable, we are committed to allowing you to be part of this journey. All we ask is that you give us your prayers and well-wishes rather than ask the follow-up question that we may not be ready to answer. Don’t worry we will let you know…