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Oct 28 2014

When Having a Baby Isn’t an Option

By at 11:43 am

I Lost My Womb But I Found A Community

It was a difficult time, the Shabbat before my hysterectomy. Though I had already had a procedure called a uterine ablation, actually losing the organ was more difficult than losing any vestige of fertility. At least with my uterus still in place, I could go to Israel, as I regularly did, and pray and weep at the holy sites. I believed, like Hannah in the Torah, that a miracle was possible.

But on that final Shabbat before my last surgery, all hope was gone. So when a heavily pregnant woman walked into shul, it was more than I could take. I barely made it out the door before I was sobbing. My friends found me weeping on the bathroom floor. Read the rest of this entry →

May 8 2014

As a Mom Who Suffered From Infertility, Mother’s Day is Bittersweet

By at 5:14 pm

Infertility-mother's-day

I’m not going to lie, and I shouldn’t have to. I love Mother’s Day. It’s strictly selfish, and I have no problem with that.

The holiday was never widely celebrated in my house growing up (“we should celebrate mothers every day,” “this is just another Hallmark holiday”), but ever since I became a mother for the first time, I have anticipated the day with a childlike excitement. What craft will my 2-year-old proudly bring home from preschool? I now wonder. What beautiful words will my husband put to paper, to be uncovered one day by our great-grandchildren? And even, Will I get something pretty?

The thing is, it took a lot for me to become a mother, and although it is no longer in the forefront of my mind, occupying every moment of my time the way it once did, I have not forgotten–the tests and treatments, the surgeries and procedures, and perhaps most significantly, the waiting and uncertainty. I went through a total of four IVF cycles for my two gorgeous sons, and I am reminded by my doctors that if I want to have another child, I will need to do IVF again or adopt. I may be a mother, but I still suffer from infertility. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 17 2014

What Not To Say to Your Friend Who is Adopting

By at 7:00 pm

moses

I assume that I get this response more frequently because of my profession, but you would probably be shocked at how frequently I hear, “Just like Moses!” when I tell people that we are in the process of adopting. (Yes, Moses was adopted. Remember, mother places him in basket, daughter of the Pharaoh finds him, Moses’ mother nurses him and then he was raised in the palace as Pharaoh’s grandson before leaving to lead the Jewish people into Israel.)

We have all been there–when we don’t know what to say, we often say the wrong thing (and sometimes, the really wrong thing). And even though it is usually said with the right intentions, a verbal misstep can be not just awkward, but actually very painful. So here is some guidance on what not to say when you hear that someone is adopting: Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 11 2014

When Your Friend is Pregnant, Sometimes it Hurts

By at 2:13 pm

pregnant

“I’ve been reluctant to write this email and I keep putting it off.”

When you are not able to get pregnant and you get an email with that as the opening line, you know exactly what is coming.

“Even though I know you will be happy for us and excited, I know part of you will be sad. So I wanted to give you time to digest this on your own, rather than springing it on you in person. I know you are happy for us. I know that you are happy for so many people. But I also know it’s hard and don’t expect this kind of news to be easy.”

When my friend of 20 years told me she was pregnant, I felt a lot of things, including true happiness for her. But what I felt most was appreciation that she too was navigating her own balancing act. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 4 2014

How Can I Comfort My Friend Struggling with Infertility?

By at 3:37 pm

not-pregnant

It isn’t fair.

I’m old enough to know that life can be unjust, but naïve enough to still be surprised when it happens. A friend of mine is dealing with infertility, and she’s starting treatments now. She had no symptoms. She’s young and healthy and in a solid marriage. She’d be a wonderful mother. It isn’t fair. She’s going to have months of pills, shots, sonograms, doctor visits, spending huge amounts of money, while everyone around us gets pregnant after overindulging in wine.

Once, she once told me that she wanted five children. Now she’s fighting to have one. Of course it could be worse. It could always be worse. But that’s no way to comfort a woman with an empty house. My children are the greatest gifts I’ve ever been given, and my friend just might get stiffed. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 4 2014

A Surprising Antidote to My Infertility Frustration

By at 2:42 pm

pregnancy test with calendar

I had been trying to get pregnant for a year. Twelve months of charting my body’s rhythms, of turning sex from an art into a science; twelve times allowing my hopes to soar and then scraping them (and sometimes myself) off the floor.

I felt like I was beginning to lose my mind. Every pregnant woman on the street was a personal affront, every baby shower invitation an assault. When Britney Spears announced her pregnancy, I ranted about it to anyone who would listen. I organized our schedule around my ovulation and measured upcoming events by what month I would be in if we were successful this time around. I stopped sleeping.

The lack of control was maddening for a control freak like me, but even worse was the waiting. I’m task oriented; if I had to wait around for this pregnancy thing to happen, I needed to feel like I was taking concrete steps that would contribute to our eventual success. Give up caffeine? Done. Track my temperature? Daily. Obsessively check for fertile cervical mucous? More often than I care to admit. Though it put us into a new and scary category of “medical problem,” I was actually relieved when the insurance company finally cleared us to begin fertility treatment, because it meant there would be new action to take and new partners helping us in this seemingly intractable process of getting pregnant. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 29 2014

Secret Pinterest, Open Adoption

By at 10:07 am

pinny

Pinterest, I like you. I really do. But seriously, it took you how long to realize that people wanted (and needed) secret boards?

When I joined Pinterest two years ago, I was in the midst of transitioning out of infertility treatments and into the world of domestic, open adoption. With all due respect to all of our amazing doctors and nurses, infertility treatments are absolutely bananas. It does not matter what you do or don’t do; they are emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially draining.

So, in order to bring some semblance of normalcy to the proceedings, I began to peruse the Pinterest “Kids” category (and of course, immediately found hundreds of things I wanted to create, find, sew, bake, purchase, and remember for when we had children).

The challenge is that only a handful of people knew about the infertility treatments, let alone that we were trying to get pregnant. When we did tell people, it was sad. It felt like a discussion about failure. And there was a lot of crying. Rumors online suggested that secret Pinterest boards were on the way, but in the interim, I worked out a ridiculous two-pronged system which consisted of taking screen shots and emailing links to myself. I did consider starting a second account with a pseudonym, but I didn’t because I knew that one day I would want everything in one place–because one day, I would be a mom. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 8 2014

Infertility is Not a Competition

By at 11:59 am

ivf

I am part of the sisterhood… you know, the one where women undergo blood tests, injections of numerous hormones, one too many pelvic exams…the fertility treatment sisterhood. That was my life for 12 months; month #13 was lucky for us, though! We had IVF and implanted one healthy embryo which developed into our daughter. We were thrilled and are so lucky to now be planning for her 4th birthday.

This past year, however, was difficult again as we were rolling the dice and hoping one of our four frozen embryos would implant. Twelve months of four individual transfers brought only heartache. Our last was the saddest, as I had to listen to the nurse on the phone tell me, “I am so sorry but your embryo did not survive the thaw.”

So, here I am, extra hormones out of my system and finally feeling more normal than I have in the past year… and I feel alone. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 1 2013

After Years of Infertility, I’m Losing My Faith in God

By at 3:33 pm

where was god?

Well, that was a colossal failure. Months of planning, 10s of thousands of dollars, two trips to Cyprus, a really promising early pregnancy–and we have nothing. We have no donor embryos left. Our last cycle resulted in my seventh pregnancy, with fantastic early signs, but I miscarried at six weeks. We’d already been tested for every cause of recurrent loss, and honestly believed the genetically tested donor embryos were the answer.

Apparently not.

What do we do now? Nothing has changed on the adoption front (we are still on the years-long waiting lists for domestic adoption here in Israel, and international adoption remains out of reach financially). We could try a gestational carrier, but both in Israel and abroad the costs and logistical hurdles just seem insurmountable.

For now we wait. We are in shock. We really thought this approach, and this pregnancy, would bring us at least one baby (and possibly a sibling in a few years). Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 22 2013

A Letter to All the Pregnant Women in My Life

By at 3:51 pm

pregnant woman holding belllyIt’s not you, it’s me.

I’m not like your high school boyfriend who heard that phrase in a romantic comedy and repeated it to you just days before taking your best friend to prom. I really mean it. Everything is me. You are wonderful. You are careful with me. You are kind.

I sit, every minute of every day, with the knowledge that I may not be able to have a family, and that even if I am able to have a family through adoption, I may not ever be pregnant, carry a pregnancy to term, give birth, glow, hurt, heal. There are moments, brief and beautiful moments, when I am so in love with my life that I forget about infertility and I feel actual joy. Those moments never happen around you. I can’t forget around you. Back when I had hope, I could find excitement in your growing belly and happy plans. Now, I just don’t know how to. Read the rest of this entry →

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