National Infertility Awareness Week #StartAsking

It’s almost National Infertility Awareness Week here in the US, 24-30 April 2016.  I don’t know if there is an equivalence in the UK, Canada, Australia, NZ or wherever you are in the world, but seeing as my blog lives in an international community I believe it should be an International Awareness Week (So doth Dani declares!).  So join us!

Here are some ways you can ALL get involved to help spread awareness of this disease, whether you are infertile or an infertile loved one’s supporter.

Learn more about infertility.  Because knowledge is power.

If you are family or a friend of an infertile loved one then change your facebook profile picture to this.  You can download the picture from here.

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If you are 1 in 8 couples you can change your facebook profile picture to one of these:

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or my favourite…..

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Let people know that infertility is a disease by using the phrase, “the disease of infertility” whenever you talk or write about infertility.

If you don’t know what to say to someone who has infertility, then you can read this article: “25 Things to say (and not to say)” from Resolve.  If you are finding that some friends just don’t understand your infertility and are saying unintentionally hurtful things – share this link with friends and family so you can help them to help you.

Infertility is a couple’s disease, there is a mis-perception that infertility is a woman’s disease, this is not true.  So don’t forget all the men who are affected too.

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So what am I doing for National Infertility Awareness Week?  I have been prepping some microblog posts, one-a-day, on the subject of this year’s theme #StartAsking – I will also be posting on my personal facebook page – eeeeeeek!!!!

I am participating in Miss Conception Coach’s Bloggers Unit Conference!!!!  Watch this space for my article!  You can follow her on wordpress and see all the inspiring articles for the conference, her instagram is @missconceptioncoach – she posts lots of beautiful and inspiring words of wisdom 🙂

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My local infertility support group is running an information desk at our local clinic throughout the week, and I will help man it for a few hours to make people aware of who we are and what the support group does 🙂

As part of Resolve’s Advocacy day some members of my local infertility support group are visiting Washington DC to talk to members of congress about important family building issues.  I can’t go because I have to work (Boooooooo) but they will be taking my letters I have written to our Senators and Congressman with them!

And of course I will be doing all the social media stuff too.

 

OK that’s a lot for now!!!! TTFN!!!

 

The uncertain future of the world

On several occasions in the past Chris has asked me if we really want to bring a child into this uncertain, seemingly doomed, world.  War, terrorism, climate change, disease, famine and so much hatred.  It makes you wonder.  The terrorist attacks in Paris last night were shocking and showed terror in the West at its worst.  The Russian plane blown up most likely by terrorists was utterly cowardly.  The suicide bombers in Beirut who spinelessly killed innocent shoppers.  And the many more countless number of attacks on innocent civilians.  It makes me sick to the stomach today as much as it made me sick to the stomach when I was just about to begin my first year of university in 2001.  Watching that second plane crash into the other twin tower of the World Trade Center, live on TV, I could not believe my own eyes.  And last night hearing the live commentary of the attacks unfold in Paris was no different.

But I do not want to live in fear because then they have succeeded, the terrorists have won.  Like I told a journalist when I was interviewed in a London Train station the day after the 7/7 terrorist attacks – I am not afraid to use the public transport, I won’t be afraid, we should not be afraid. We must unite against terrorism.

I didn’t know when I watched those events unfold on September 11th 2001 that 14 years later I would have deployed three times to Iraq and Afghanistan, worked with countless inspirational commanders and leaders who serve to fight the battle against terrorism and worked on projects that enhance the future security of my friends, family, country and our allied countries.  And so now it is one of the drivers for my choice of career, but I would never have pictured myself in this world in my youth.

War and terrorism isn’t the only thing on my mind about the uncertain future for our children.  Disease, famine and climate change are all up there too on my list of concerns. I might sound a bit dramatic about it all, but it is something I do think about a lot.

So when Chris asks me do I want to bring a child into this world?  I tell him yes.  I say yes because I want my child to be a strong person who contributes something to making this world a better place…and even if I don’t ever have my own child, I will love, cherish and encourage the children of my friends and family to be that strong person…otherwise the terrorists will simply win.

Paris (2)

NaBloPoMo November 2015

Understanding: #YouAreNotAlone, #NIAW, #WeAreNotAlone

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The baby shower

I sit in the corner, quietly observing the group, hoping no one talks to me and asks me how I am.  I’ve been dreading this day for weeks.  I am not really sure what the etiquette of baby showers is.  I’ve learned about wedding, birthday parties, funerals and baptism etiquettes, but as a Brit living in the US, baby showers are new to me.  One thing I do know for sure is that sobbing away in the corner, trying to make sure no one sees is not part of the celebrations.  Why all the tears?  Because this should be my time for my baby shower.  I don’t mean to sound self-centred, but you see we have been trying to conceive for 17 months now.

Like the singleton table set aside at weddings, baby showers should come with a table reserved for infertiles.  After all, 1 in 8 couples of reproductive age could have a seat at this table.

My tears are short lived, of course, as the excitement of adorable ‘mini-me’ baby gifts and funny games take the course of the day.  Our friend who has that beautiful pregnancy glow to her skin, was happy.  So happy.  For me this was all I needed to prevent me from drowning in my own misery and enjoy the party.

Unfortunately, it seemed that not all of us could cope this well.  One of the guests left within 10 minutes of arriving.  She had driven hundreds of miles for the baby shower.  Why would you drive all that way just to stay for 10 minutes?  And so the speculation and rumours started.  My husband interjected with a suggestion “Perhaps she is trying for a baby and found it all too much?”.  We both looked at each other with that ‘knowing’ look.  Sadly, no one in the room bought this excuse, dismissed it and the speculation continued. The departing lady, who I did not know personally, may have been infertile, or perhaps she had some other good reason for leaving the baby shower as quickly as she had arrived.  Statistically, the chances were high that at least two of us at the shower were suffering from infertility. With both my husband and I in the room, it was easy to wonder who else is silently suffering?  If it was this lady, I wish I could have told her:

You are not alone

I would have held her hand, hugged her and told her it’s OK, I understand, we can face this disease together.

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But for some people experiencing infertility, a hug from a stranger will never make the pain and hurt go away.  I know this.  I feel more comfortable on my infertility journey than I ever have been because I discovered a place where hugging strangers is quite a common place. The blogging world.  I have been surprised to discover comfort and understanding from the ‘virtual’ hugs, support, discussion and love from the biggest group of ‘strangers’ I know.  It’s not just strangers that have joined us on our journey, but a small group of family and friends too.  The ability to communicate, open my heart and share my feelings has been a therapy for me.  But not everyone we care about knows of our struggles because it is not easy to talk about.

Please help us on our journey.

As it is infertility awareness week, we are taking a big leap and inviting you to join us on our journey – or more aptly put – the hunt for the great pudding club.  You have been invited because we trust and love you.  We want you to know that this week we will be starting a new chapter in our journey.  Ironically it is National Infertility Awareness Week.

We have been diagnosed with unexplained infertility, it is a surprisingly common diagnosis for about 25% of those with infertility.  To date we have tried three rounds of artificial insemination, known as IUI (Intra Uterine Insemination).  This week has been particularly difficult for us as our final prescribed round of treatment failed.  With each round of treatment the sad news of our failure does not get any easier to digest, rather, the sadness stacks up and our hearts grow heavier.

The IUI procedure summed up

The IUI procedure nicely summed up

We are now at the cross roads stage where we do not know exactly which route we will take: IVF, gestational carrier, adoption or even child-free.  Whichever route we do decide to take, we want you to be there with us.

How you can help us

Opening our hearts about our infertility journey leaves us with open wounds, and the occasional feeling of self-inflicted nausea (wishing it was nausea from pregnancy, of course!).  If you would like to come with us we have some ideas on how to help us through our journey…

  1. Ask us how we are doing, and if we do not to tell you every intricate detail of our treatment, please don’t be offended. Sometimes we just don’t want to talk about it because we have been thinking about it all morning and just stopped thinking about it.
  2. We love hearing stories about how your little one was conceived, especially the funny stories. But please do not tell us that we should try this position, or that method.  After all, I am pretty sure we have tried everything we could possibly google.  Legs up, from behind, on top, downward dog, on holiday, when drunk, herbal tea, with a full moon etc… The chances are slim that we will be able to conceive naturally.
  3. Although telling us about your friend that conceived after X time, with X procedure might seem affirming, everyone with infertility is different and so your story probably won’t apply to our situation. The obstacles each one of us faces will be different and the path we take will be unique.
  4. Please don’t ask us 14 days after our fertility treatment procedure if it worked. If it worked, we will tell you in our own time if we find out I am pregnant (it won’t be long after we find out, I am sure the excitement will be too much!); if it didn’t work, we need some time for ourselves to contemplate our next steps and to just have a big old cry.
  5. We like emails, phone calls, skypes and messages that remind us that there are other things going on in the world. We don’t want to think about infertility and babies all the time.  It can be emotionally exhausting at times.  Send us photos, tell us funny stories or pass on a couple of memes.  Please don’t feel like you are treading on egg shells around us or worry that we are too busy to speak to you.
  6. We also want to hear about your little ones too and would love to be invited to events and parties too, after all we are going to be parents sometime soon too 🙂
  7. Finally, please don’t suggest ‘You can just adopt’ to us. If you look into adoption you will quickly learn that this process is not easy, cheap or free from emotional baggage.  There are no guarantees. The casual statement of ‘you can just adopt’ makes it seem like not being able to conceive isn’t that big of a deal and ironically is often said by people who already have their own children. Such a casual, throw away statement makes the whole process seem like we can simply go to the store and pick the type of baby we want from the range on the shelves.

The list above is specific to us, not everyone who suffers infertility will feel comfortable with what we are suggesting, each couple will deal with it in a different way, so if you know someone else who is going through this you should ask them how you can help.

Regardless of the individual items on people’s lists, one thing we can all do is be cautious, being a little more sensitive and take a little time to think before asking anyone about having children. If you know a couple that has recently married it is easy to ask ‘so when will we hear the pitter patter of tiny feet, eh?’ but what if the couple is struggling to conceive? Such an innocent question and yet it could be devastating. We’re not saying don’t ask questions, just don’t make assumptions. Until we had gone through this experience I would often be the one asking such questions, I only realise now how hurtful those questions could have been.

What else can I do?

Come join us, support National Infertility Awareness Week by adding a twibbon to your facebook profile.  You can follow my blog or facebook page, read the links below to help understand more about infertility.  Share your awareness so that others who quietly suffer do not feel like they are alone.

Thank you for understanding as we go through some challenging decisions and supporting us, giving us hope like you have already, we feel very much loved in the knowledge that we are not alone on our journey.

Dani & Chris X

#WeAre1in8 #YouAreNotAlone #WeAreNotAlone

Facebook: The sad truth of the matter #NIAW, #YouAreNotAlone

Facebook – you kept me awake this morning contemplating giving you up.

I have 423 friends on facebook.

40 of my friends liked this picture of me drinking beer….almost 10%!  That’s pretty high!

Hofbrauhaus in Munich. Mmmm Beer!

Hofbrauhaus in Munich. Mmmm Beer!

The irony being that in this picture, these were not my beers, and I was drinking non-alcoholic beers that night because I’m trying for a baby!

However, only 17 liked this photo and blurb about National Infertility Awareness Week (incidentally only 2 of the 17 were men, I salute you because this is not just about women)….

Did you know that 1 in 8 couples you know may suffer from infertility? Did you know that 1 in 100 births in the US are made possible from Assisted Reproductive Technologies such as IVF? Infertility IS a disease, it is a hidden disease. This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, so please share the message and remember friends ‪#‎YouAreNotAlone‬, ‪#‎WeAreNotAlone‬, ‪#‎NIAW‬

Did you know that 1 in 8 couples you know may suffer from infertility? Did you know that 1 in 100 births in the US are made possible from Assisted Reproductive Technologies such as IVF? Infertility IS a disease, it is a hidden disease. This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, so please share the message and remember friends ‪#‎YouAreNotAlone‬, ‪#‎WeAreNotAlone‬, ‪#‎NIAW‬

So why do I feel judged or failed by sharing this photo and message?  Why do I feel like the number of ‘likes’ is a measure of my success in sharing the message about Infertility Awareness Week?  Maybe people read it, but felt awkward to like it or share it?  Did I make people feel uncomfortable?  Was it not interesting?  Did they know these facts already?  Was it too boring?  Do people not care? Was it not controversial enough?  All these things I wonder….but they are silly.  If I hadn’t posted the picture of me with the beer last week and got so many likes, would 17 ‘likes’ have satisfied me that I had some success in sharing the message?

I have thought about ways to raise awareness.  Before we started this journey, the hunt for the great pudding club, I had no clue about infertility.  I knew it happened, I didn’t know how many people it affected, and how differently it affected people.  The pain and suffering of these people were hidden from me.  It is a personal journey so it shouldn’t have to be shared with me and the whole world, but I feel like I should have been educated in it.  When I was at school and I learnt about conception, the biology behind it, the sex education classes I was unaware of quite how truly each conception is a miracle.  The events that have to occur all in line for conception to be made possible is amazing.  I only learnt about all of this over the last year.

I want to raise awareness so I drafted a blog post as part of the National Infertility Awareness Week blog challenge under the theme of #YouAreNotAlone.  I drafted it last weekend, but I have not posted it yet because the tone of blog will be highly dependent on the outcome of IUI round 3 this week. I have written two versions of the post, the first version is aimed at inviting close friends and family to help us on our journey which is about to get more difficult or, alternatively the second version, announcing to friends and family that we are pregnant in the early stages, as a result of help and assistance from fertility treatment.  I’m still waiting to post my blog.  Here is how it has gone so far…

Sat: 10 DPIUI – I landed back in the US and made Chris drive me to the pharmacy to buy us some of the expensive early pregnancy tests.  I was feeling like I was pregnant 🙂  I took the test and there was the faintest of lines.  I even took apart the test to look closer because the reflection of the plastic made me wonder if I was imagining it.  But could this be the hormones left over from my Ovidrel shot?  I went to bed smiling either way because there was still a chance.

Sun: 11 DPIUI – I took another early pregnancy test.  Nope, nothing, nadda.  Saturday must have been from the Ovidrel.  Why did I take the test so early?  Well, I have never taken a test before my period was due, I was in experimentation mode and thought what the hell.  A sad Dani.  But it is still early and definitely not over til the fat lady sings (AKA Aunt Flow).

Mon: 12 DPIUI – Chris told me not to take a test.  I didn’t.  Chris came home from work sad, he had been thinking about it all day.  I was sad too. It was a sad evening with many hugs.

Tues: 13 DPIUI – I took a cheapy test.  I saw a very very faint line!  Well at least I really thought I did.  Chris took a look at it and told me there was absolutely nothing there.  I didn’t listen to him and went to be with a little smile.  This morning I woke up and looked at it again, he was right, there is nothing there, I was actually hallucinating.

Today Weds: 14 DPIUI…….No testing today.  I will wait for Aunt Flow to arrive.  She is rumbling.  Unless I am sorely mistaken.

Whatever happens, I will be posting my blog challenge for National Infertility Awareness Week very soon. #YouAreNotAlone, #WeAreNotAlone

Infertility Awareness: Sharing our Journey

It’s national infertility awareness week soon, 19-25 April 2015.  The theme is “You’re not alone”.  There is a blogging challenge under this theme which I have been thinking about writing.  I asked Chris if he thought it would be a good idea for us to write a joint blog post under this theme and post it onto our personal facebook pages.  After all, it is the making people aware of infertility week – how better to make people aware than to share our journey so far?  But Chris quickly pointed out that this would be too much to share.  We would get more questions like, “Any news?”, we would be asked about our troubles at times when we just don’t feel like talking about it, we would also get the unintentional insensitive thoughts, ideas and suggestions (a great post about this “Pardon me whilst I burst into flame” I re-blogged here).

This all makes me so sad.  Sad because I feel like we should make people more aware of the statistics (how common it is), the hidden suffering, the variety, complexity of infertility problems and the many options/choices of treatment.

Our journey is getting a bit rocky

Our journey is getting a bit rocky

The infertility journey is a rocky wild path, that will throw all types of extreme weather at us, it’s physically exhausting and mentally draining.  We know the peak is high, we may come across false summits.  Some of us may fall down, some of us may find shortcuts (we always hope to find shortcuts!) and sometimes the path simply becomes longer and windier than we ever imagined.  We can ask directions from the experts along the way, they help us to see the path as a gentle winding pleasant route, but they can rarely help when nature creates that avalanche and cuts you off.  If we have our friends with us, they can help us round and scale the new challenges that pop up…they  don’t need to be there all the time, they can relay it up the mountain with us, but surely we are better off not going it alone?

via ferrata2In some ways this journey reminds me of the play we saw last year, K2.  This is a story of two climbers who scale K2 but come across difficulties in their climb, death is near as they fight for survival together.  The two contemplate the meaning of life, family, friends, God and our existential existence.  Ultimately, if there had been at least one other person with them, they all may have survived.  Is our infertility journey like this?  If there were more than the two of us, if we fall, will it be easier to get up and keep going?  Movies often portray climbers that find themselves like the K2 scenario as egotistical and selfish.  But climbers are misunderstood, climbing is more than adrenaline or ego, big climbs are often an exercise of self examination, a chance to get away from the daily grind. I am not saying that in this case infertility sufferers are like climbers.  But what I do wonder, is that we similarly are misunderstood.  We are misunderstood because no one knows we are out here on our journeys.  Should we make more people aware?  How can we do this?

We are out here on this journey because the top is going to be beautiful, it will be worth it in the end, worth the financial burden, the mental exhaustion, the physical pain.  I’ve heard it is amazing up there.  I just don’t want to be alone.  But I’m not sure we are ready to invite everyone to join us on our journey just yet.

Top of the world

Top of the world