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Tag Archives: infertility

Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is. Or Something.

6 Aug

Ok folks – I just finished writing this encouraging email to Jjiraffe after her last post. I told her to screw those people. That if she wants to do something she should just do it.

After writing that email I realized what I freaking hypocrite I am. Sometimes I’m so scared of my own shadow I can barely get out of bed let alone pursue stuff I love. And that’s just stupid. So -I have decided to take my own advice.

Let me explain:

I’m a podcast junkie. I love them. I listen to them all the time. I’ve even written here before that I wanted to create my own podcast.

So the truth is I have an idea for one. I’ve had one for a while.

When you search for “infertility” on itunes what you get is a load of Circle and Bloom rip offs and nothing of note.  This is one realm that needs to be taken over by us! Yes! We must rule the airwaves! Or something!

So I’d officially like to announce the launch of “Bitter Infertiles” a weekly podcast hosted by yours truly, and starring…. Well – I hope starring a few of you. 🙂

I want to cover all realms here. So I’d love to break down the cast like this:

  1. An RPLer (that’s me!)
  2. A woman currently beginning to pursue IVF (that’s one of you guys!)
  3. A woman currently beginning to pursue adoption (you again!)
  4. A woman who is parenting after adoption/IVF (guess who that would be – you!)
  5. Other possibilities: Women currently pursuing DE or DS, women choosing to stop treatments and live child free, women pursuing surrogacy.

Whoever wants to be a part of this needs to be willing to go on tangents with me, be a confident talker, and have about an hour a week plus a couple of hours prep time. And please don’t let your insecurities here get in the way. Don’t worry – I’ll talk you through it. You just need to be game.

So? Who’s in? Email me and let’s get this show on the road!

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Group Therapy Th- Um, Friday – Donor Eggs and Banana Hammocks

27 Jul

The Dark Knight Rises beckoned yesterday, but just because it’s Friday that doesn’t mean that we can’t do this, right? So let’s get this show on the road!

Dear Mo and the Group:

We’ve made the decision to go ahead with Egg Donation. Now the next point for us – which country to choose – stay at home, have a mahoosive long wait, but in an environment which maximises the knowledge the child has about where they come from, or go overseas, no wait, but only a limited amount of info about the donor available. Oh what to do! p.s. I prefer anonymous as I don’t want the child to abandon me in the future.  He prefers as much knowledge as possible to help the child know where they have come from.

Thanks,

Flowergirl

 Well, I know I’m no DE expert – so I’m gonna let the commenters cover most of this (DE ladies – speak up!). Here’s my take on it though:

I think you and your husband do need to come to a consensus about how/if to disclose to the child that he/she was conceived via donor egg. That will make your decision a helluva lot easier.  On another note, I do have something else to say: I think you may be exaggerating when you say you “don’t want the child abandon you.” You’re  underestimating the power of nurture. Just like adoptive kids don’t “abandon” their adoptive parents. Give yourself some credit. Biology isn’t everything. I actually think it counts for very little in the big picture.

I think you may be skirting the true issue here: I don’t think you’ve forgiven yourself yet for the failed cycles. I think you may be viewing donor eggs as a failure on your part. I get it – I truly do – not having faith in your body, and as a result in yourself is a terrible place to be, and I’ve been there. Take a deep breath, and work on forgiving yourself. That will make the process a whole lot easier. Ok? Ok.

Dear Mo and the Group,

Since our loss earlier this year, we’ve had a falling out with my husband’s parents.  It took them nearly 3 months to visit after the loss and when they did, they didn’t talk about our baby.  When we showed them items from our baby, they avoided grieving with us and basically just left.  I appreciate that this was upsetting to them.  What’s more upsetting is that after my husband expressed how hurt he was by their reaction, they stopped calling.  They used to call 1x/week.  My husband and I are so hurt by this behaviour.  When my husband has called on special occasions (bless him, because frankly I couldn’t be bothered) they act like there is nothing wrong.  They never acknowledged us on Mother’s/Father’s day or on our due date.  I’m just not sure what to do.  I don’t have the energy to grieve, fight infertility and repair relationships with hurtful people.

 The Broken Daughter-In-Law

Oh, TBDIL- I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. Here’s what sucks about our kind of loss: It’s mostly ours. While it’s physical and tangible to us, not everyone will acknowledge what it truly is: Losing a child. I can’t say that your In-Laws are right here – because they’re certainly not. But my guess is that they don’t know how to treat you guys. Maybe your husband did explain that he was hurt – but did he explain why? Did he describe the pain you’re going through?

It’s up to you whether you want to do this or not, but I know this has helped me when it comes to my relationships: Because our kind of loss is so difficult to understand, if I see that someone close to me doesn’t “get it”, I take the time to explain it. To tell them how I feel. To explain that I gave birth, that I’m a mother with empty arms. I even sometimes tell them exactly what I need from them so they don’t feel helpless in the face of my sadness.

It’s not the right thing to do, but people sometimes step away when they don’t know how to deal. Sometimes you need to help them help you.

What do the rest of you guys think? Am I being too easy on the In-Laws?

Dear Mo and the Group,

Would you recommend club soda or bleach for cleaning tomato sauce out of a macrame?

Thanks,

Banana Hammock

Didn’t I say no cleaning questions? Because my answer would be dish soap and paper towels. That’s officially my answer to every cleaning question. Let me know how that works out for you! 😛

Dear Mo and the Group,

I am having a career dilema. I was accepted into a Masters in Social Work program in NYC and am slated to start this fall. However, in the past year or so I have started to wonder if this is a path I want to pursue and began researching nursing. I have taken a term of prerequisites for a nursing program and got all As. Now I have a month to make the final decision: Stay on the west coast and pursue Nursing (and hope I get into a program next year) or move back to NYC and start the MSW program. Any advice/opinions are apprecieated!

Thanks,

Indecisive in Oregon

Oh that’s a tough one IIO. My question to you would be – what do you love? I have a feeling it’s nursing from what you wrote. If that’s the case, stick to it.

Here’s something I have to remind myself constantly because I tend to forget it: No decision is set in stone. Life paths often go off track, or change courses, and you always have the right to change your mind. Uprooting your life to move to New York for a program that you’re unsure about seems a bit extreme. If you got in once, you will be able to get in again if/when you’re more sure of yourself. For now – pursue your passion.

Dear Mo and the Group,

I have always had a very difficult time having an orgasm, and never through penetration. I have heard about, read about, and have gone in search of the elusive g-spot. My husband even went on a “g spot safari” and no luck. I am wondering if I was born without one. Can anyone tell me a fool proof way to know if I have one or not, and if so, find that bugger?

 – Orgasmically Challenged

Most women can’t have the big O through regular intercourse. That’s a fact. It’s not by any means a failure on your part. So my take on this is – if you can’t have it on the inside, make sure you get it on the outside every single time. I would go for a two step process here.

The first – purchase a toy. I would recommend a pocket rocket. They’re inexpensive, and very Jr. Varsity as far as toys go. Experiment with it on your outer bits. Then once you get a groove on with it on your own, start incorporating it into your bedroom routine. Once that’s down and you’re getting in the groove, I am also a big proponent of the vib.ra.ting co.ck ri.ng. You’ll never go hungry again! Or something!

Ladies – any other insight?

Dear Mo and the Group,

I had infertility, then a son by IVF (3 years ago), then a recent unexpected pregnancy which ended in a 13 week miscarriage (trisomy.) While I had thought I was ok with no more kids (when it wasn’t really possible), having a surprise pregnancy opened up old wounds and I’m struggling now. Problems are- husband doesn’t want more AT ALL and since we both work full-time, and are high stress people, I don’t think our family could handle kid #2 well (should it happen). Also, I’m 37, last m/c from trisomy- so I’m scared of all that happening again. Question- how do I resolve this painful longing in my life when logically, it seems like a no-brainer? My husband is scheduled for vasectomy this fall… so my ‘window’ for trying is coming to a close. (He’s only waiting as it is to make me feel better (should I decide I HAVE to try again!))

– Totally Vacillating and Not Happy About It

Ohhhh- that’s a tough one TVNHAI. First of all, I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. I know as well as anybody that one of the first instincts after a loss is to want to get pregnant again IMMEDIATELY. That is not, however, always the right thing to do. The question is – is your longing for a second child colored by your loss, or was it there all along? If it’s always been there, then you should definitely give it another shot, if your husband is willing to go along with it. If this is colored by the loss, take another month. Take a step back and take care of yourself a bit. That should be your first, second, and third priority right now. As for a second child in that circumstance – maybe. But only when your head is at least partially cleared of that grief.

Dear Mo and the Group,

What are your thoughts or opinion on reconciling a marriage, mid-divorce, with a history of infidelity? My husband and I have been separated for seven months, I filed for a divorce several months ago and have decided (not 100%), that I want my marriage to work. Since the separation, he has been involved with someone else. He has apologized for this and stated he only did it bc he thought we were over. He has since ended things with her and days he’s ready to be committed to being a husband and a father.. Oh, did I mention we have three boys under three and he only saw them a dozen times during our separation. I want to trust him again and I have strong beliefs on the sanctity of marriage but I’m scared. Help!!

– Separated and Confused

Oh SC, this is so hard! If there weren’t kids involved I would unceremoniously say get rid of the excess baggage and move on. I’m sure that you would do the same much more easily if that were the case.

On the other hand, your husband doesn’t seem to really be making an effort here. A good mommy is a happy mommy, and I have a feeling your happiness isn’t really on the top of this guy’s list.

I’m not personally a child of divorce, but I have plenty of friends who have said that in the long run, they are glad their parents separated. I also have some friends who grew up in homes with loveless marriages and have serious commitment issues as a result.

In the end – whatever decision you make – don’t forget that your happiness is key to these kids happiness.

What do you guys think?

Have at it in the comments – tell me where I went terribly wrong!

Give Me Drugs, Woman!

18 Jun

So I went to the RE today. And honestly, I’m not surprised at the outcome.

First – let me confess something: A small part of me was hoping that the date with ole’ wandy today would reveal a 6-week embryo.

Alas, my ute is as empty as the day is long. Or something.

But let’s begin at the beginning.

Allow me to introduce you to Dr. Dexter.

Not this Dexter:

This Dexter:

I’ve never had a lady bits doc that was a woman. I guess I was expecting sunshine and unicorn farts. Dr. Dexter was not that.

She had crazy glasses (hence the nickname), and was very straight faced and analytical. It was only at the end that she actually seemed empathetic. But I’m getting ahead of myself again.

After going through my history for an hour (!) mostly while typing it all on her computer, she pulled out wandy and took a look around. From what she saw, I didn’t ovulate this month at all.

So an hour and 15 minutes into the appointment, after poking around in there, we sat down and got to the heart of it.

I came in there expecting to either beg for clom.id (or something similar) or just have it prescribed.

Alas, Dr. Dexter had other plans.

She looked me in the eye and said: “You’re not going to like what I have to say.”

Ruh-Roh.

I told her to just go ahead and say it. And she did:

“You don’t have a fertility problem. You have a weight problem.”

Yep, you read right folks. I’ve been prescribed a diet.

Honestly? I’m not surprised. I’ve said it here before: I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been. And most of my past irregular cycle issues have been during periods that I was overweight.

Dr. Dexter said this is common with PCOS. Weight loss = regular cycles, weight gain = irregular cycles.

She said that even losing 5% of my current weight will probably jump start my cycle.

She sent me in for some blood tests that I will be getting tomorrow (E2, LH, Progesterone, and a beta just to make completely sure that my 100 pee sticks didn’t lie), and gave me a prescription to jump start AF, after I get the results and talk to her on the phone on Wednesday.

She pointed out that I am dangerously close to being a diabetic according to my latest blood tests, and the more weight I lose before the pregnancy, the better my chances are of avoiding pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes.

Dr. Dexter did offer to do ovulation monitoring for the next few months with mid-cycle ultrasounds and all of those bells and whistles. She said it was unnecessary, but I think this woman has seen enough infertiles to understand my plight and therefore offered it for peace of mind. I’m not sure if I’m going to opt to do that. I’ll have to wait and see how I feel about it. It’s a lot of hassle. I may just opt to chart this cycle and see how that goes. She sympathized with my lack of patience, and my desire to get knocked up ASAP, which was nice.

I look at her hopelessly. “No drugs?”

Nope. No drugs for me. Just a good ole’ fashioned diet.

I’ve been hating on my body so much over the last few months that I haven’t been able to bring myself to diet. I’m sure most of you are aware of this vicious cycle. Hate my body, eat some chocolate to make me feel better, end up feeling worse because I ate that freaking chocolate.

I think that my lack of patience, and unending need to get this show on the road may end up being the swift kick in the butt that I need.

My cousin is a naturopathic dietician. She got a call from me today, and we’ll be meeting once a week starting this Thursday. She’ll be my own private (and free! Yay!) Weight Watchers meeting.

I’m ready to get this show on the road. I’m overdue for another pregnancy. I mean, it’s already been almost 4 months since my last one. This just won’t do.

Oy vey.

On Preggo-phobia

17 Jun

My first year or so on the blogoverse there was one thing I couldn’t quite relate to:  IF bloggers who couldn’t be around pregnant women. I didn’t get the whole “unfollow” thing, the lack of motivation for baby showers, the en-mass abandonment of blogs once pregnancies were announced. It never really bothered me to see other women’s success. I was totally ok with it.

Well boys and girls, it seems the tides have turned in Mo-ville. Yesterday’s fiasco, which I will shortly share with you, pretty much cemented the fact that I am officially preggo-phobic. Congratulate me! I have crossed over to the dark side!

It started getting really bad on our trip to Greece. There was a woman on our flight who I would guess was about 24-28 weeks along. She was thin and gorgeous and had the perfect bump. It infuriated me. She stood next to us on the bus from the plane to the terminal and I could barely contain the bile that rose up just from looking at her.

No reason other than the fact that a. She was pregnant and I wasn’t, and b. the biyatch was flying in her second trimester without a second thought. Next time I get to a second trimester – if that ever happens – I won’t even be able to pee without debating the risk vs. the reward.

From there it got worse. I could ID even the smallest hint of a bump. Shmerson began calling it my super-powered pregdar. By our last night in Greece, we were at a restaurant and I immediately spotted a woman who couldn’t have been more than 12 weeks along, who was not only enjoying a nice dinner in a nice hotel, but was also having a glass of wine with that dinner.

Oh, the rant Shmerson had to endure that night was one for the ages.

Once we got back, I was finding myself staying away from my google reader like the plague. It wasn’t just the women who had my due date that scared me off, it was everyone past the twelve week mark. It was every mention of a bump or nausea.

I was tempted to do a preggo cleanse on my reader until I realized that I loved every single one of these women and wanted a happy outcome for all of them. So I just opted to keep all of them in and merely keep my reading at a minimum for the time being.

Same thing was happening with post-pregnancy parenting blogs I used to read happily. I just couldn’t stomach it any more.

Let’s face it, I’ve become a “veteran” of the ALI blogosphere. Most of the women I started following when I first began blogging have long since moved on to parenting. So my reader has now become a veritable minefield. And let’s not even get into the guilt I feel for not commenting on those blogs any more.

I seriously just can’t take it.

Then last night came the veritable apex of the preggo-phobe craziness that has been my life lately.

I was invited to a birthday party. Now this is all well and good, I’ve been liking parties lately. But this party was for a woman who is part of a circle of friends who I last saw at a wedding when I was 18 weeks with Nadav, and they were cooing excitedly over my growing belly.

I was pretty much dreading going to this party, but I like this chick a lot, and I knew I had to see these people sooner or later.

Merely the prospect of going had me in a nice little grumpy state all evening. Then we showed up. The party was at this public park, so once we parked the car it was a bit of a walk to get there.

And guess what happens on the way?

Someone calls my name – I turn to see it’s an old friend of mine. A really nice woman who I’ve known since we were 15 and who got married about a year ago. She walks toward me with another woman, smiling and waving.

And both of them are sporting 20-week bumps.

This is the first thing I see as I enter the party.

I hug her, congratulate her, and proceed with a quick catch up. Then she walks away. As soon as she does, I quickly greet the birthday girl, and run off to a dark corner to cry.

All in all, a great start to the party.

I have NEVER cried at the sight of a baby bump before. Maybe it was because no one warned me. Maybe it’s just because of the whole impending due date thing.

Whatever it was, I needed a stiff drink to calm myself down enough to make me functional for the rest of the party.

I seriously can’t believe it’s come to this. When did I become this person?

Me no likey.

On the way to the party, the news came on the radio. A really rare species of rhinoceros, that is on the verge of being extinct, gave birth after a year-and-a-half long pregnancy.

Shmerson and I immediately looked at each other. It didn’t need to be said, but I said it anyway: “Maybe everything’s ok and I’ll just be giving birth to a rhino in a few days.”

Shmerson answered: “Well, that would be nice. Though I think you’d probably be a bit bigger if that was the case.”

This is what we’ve come to people. Freakish man-beast births have become the optimistic outcome.

Longest. Pregnancy. Ever!

13 Jun

Exactly two years ago today I got my first BFP.

Since then I’ve joined the blighted ovum club. The D&C club. The ectopic pregnancy club. The repeat pregnancy loss club. The lap surgery club. The missing tube club. The incompetent cervix club. The stillbirth club.

Today, on the two year anniversary of that marvelous BFP, that led to three weeks of anxious joy followed by two years of heartache, I joined the one club I still hadn’t been admitted to: the “I have an RE” club.

The Russian, after all, is a high-risk OB and a Gyno surgeon. He doesn’t do hormones. So I got a referral from him, and an appointment to see my brand spanking new RE this Monday.

This, on the two year anniversary of our first BFP. 9 days before Nadav’s due date.

FML

Or as Shmerson says (and so would Comic Book Guy):

The Grief Still Remains

2 Jan

I have a friend who I’ve known for almost 17 years. We have been close from the time I was a stupid 16 year old, and for some reason he’s stuck around, for which I am eternally grateful. Our friendship isn’t a day-to-day affair, but when we talk, our conversations are always meaningful. He knows me as well as anyone could. As I know him.

I’ve mentioned him here before – Ababaderech. He and his partner of 14 years have started to pursue parenthood using a surrogate and donor eggs. When they were revving up for their first foray into IVF, I felt useful, spending hours waxing philosophical about fert reports, egg retrievals, and transfers. When he needed help navigating the waters of parenthood through ART, I am proud to say that I helped him as much as I possibly could.

When they started the journey, Ababaderech decided to blog about it (the blog is in Hebrew – sorry English speakers that you won’t be able to read his amazing writing). He told me at the time that the blog was inspired by me. I was honored to know this. He writes so beautifully, and I am moved by the fact that I somehow helped bring this man’s amazing words to light.

Two weeks ago, he and his partner were PUPO for the firsttime. Yesterday, we spoke and he told me that their first transfer ended in a chemical pregnancy.

I spent most of our conversation being technical. Talking about beta numbers, chances of success with the type of transfer they opted for, bla bla bla.

But I wasn’t really present in that conversation.

A few minutes before beginning this post, I caught up on Ababaderech’s blog. His latest post talks about the chemical pregnancy, and quotes me as saying that a baby is a baby once the hope of it begins in your heart. And quotes me again as saying that our children are out there, waiting for the right time to come into this world and meet us.

Then Ababaderech writes beautifully, in words far more eloquent than I have ever been able to find for my own losses (I’m paraphrasing while translating): “I drive while my partner nods off to sleep next to me. He opens his eyes every once in a while asking me if we are close to home. I don’t tell him ‘No, it didn’t work and we have to try going home again’. I tell him ‘yes my love, we will be home soon’….”

Reading these words I doubled over in tears and a grief that hasn’t gripped me in months. Grief for their two little embabies that didn’t make it. Grief for my friend, whom I didn’t support enough yesterday when I heard his bad news. Grief for my own babies, which I have been suppressing for months in an effort to make it through this pregnancy.

If it wasn’t so late over here, I would have called Ababaderech immediately and apologized, telling him how I love him, how I’m sorry I wasn’t more connected to him when he told me the news yesterday. But it’s past midnight, and I’m sure he’s asleep. And so instead I’m writing here – knowing that he’ll find this post in his inbox tomorrow morning and he’ll know how much he is loved, always, and how he inspires me to be better.

I have floated through the last three months in mostly a detached haze. I try to be happy. But little things remind me of the fear of loss and the grief that still lay beneath the surface. The panic attack I had last night while worrying about the upcoming scan. The moments in the day sometimes when I run to the doppler just to hear my baby’s heart one more time, just to be sure. Is it any wonder that I barely speak to any of my friends? Post here less and less often? Comment so infrequently on all of your posts? Have mostly meaningless conversations with the people who mean the most to me?

Ababaderech just pulled me back down to earth with an enormous crash. It took his repeating my own words to make me feel this fear and this grief fully once again.

So here I am, doubled over in grief for my three babies, for Ababaderech’s two. For JM’s failed transfer. For Kelly’s. For Marie’s loss. For Courtney’s unimaginable 4. For PM. For SLC. For Starfishkitty. For Esperanza. For MySkyTimes. For Mrs. Brightside. For EmbracingtheRain. For Slowmomma. For Elphaba. For BIBC. For Misfit Mrs. For the Advocat. For St. Elsewhere. For Kristen. For MJ. For ADSchill. For A. For AlexMMR. For Chon. For Missohkay. For thePortofIndecision. For Stinky. For Kristin. For so many more of you that I follow every day. For every one of you who has lost a baby, whether real or fantasized about. Whether embryo, or a follicle, or born too soon or with too many complications.

Pregnancy doesn’t “fix” grief. I am not “better.” I am coasting, trying my best not to let the fear of loss swallow me each and every day. As each and every day I love this baby more and more. I get more attached to the idea of him or her entering our life in June. And with that the fear continues. Statistics may be in our favor, but we here all know how much statistics are worth when we’re on the bad side of them. That is the curse of the ALI community. There isn’t a bad statistic we can’t get behind.

So now I cry and grieve and let myself feel the weight of my losses. For Ababaderech and his beautiful outlook, his amazing peace and acceptance – something which I have always loved and envied him for. For all of the women who I follow, and speak to, and read. For all of the women who come to this blog every day.

I hope our children are all helping each other find their way to us. I hope we get to watch them play together one day.

Lessons of Loss

19 Sep

I’ve found myself leaving the same comment in different variations on a bunch of different blogs lately. It always seems insufficient so I decided to write a blog post. I have a blog, so it seemed fitting. 🙂 Anyway, I apologize in advance for getting all deep and sappy on you guys.

The last couple of months have brought me clarity in a way I never thought was possible. As chaotic as life has been lately, I’ve found myself in a state of relative peace. I think that embracing my desires rather than fighting them has made a huge difference in the way I view things. I want to share some of my newfound perspective with you.

These last 15 months have been filled with heartbreak after heartbreak. I have yet to achieve my dream of becoming a mother. I have yet to carry a baby past 8 weeks.

I’ve always thought of myself as a strong woman. Yet, in this last year I have felt pain beyond pain and my weaknesses have been exposed. That strength I thought I had was not real. It came from a place of emotional detachment. It came from a place of self-delusion and denial.

If there’s one thing that my losses have done, it’s been to force me to look myself in the mirror and find my true strength. They have snapped me out of the bubble that was my reality. In hindsight, that reality was a lie. It was repressed depression and anxiety. It was a lack of confidence and a lack of focus. Having to face down tragedy on such a big scale, having to deal with so much grief in such a short time finally brought all of these repressed emotions to the surface. I have realized that I was never strong. I was a ball of anxiety. I was going through the motions of life rather than living. I was on auto pilot. I spent most of my time in an un-feeling haze, never letting my true emotions break through the surface.

Until they forced their way through because I couldn’t hold them any more. They were too much to bear. I broke into a million pieces over and over again. I had to find a way to put myself back together.

I have spent the last year in a constant existential crisis. Always trying to find meaning, constantly trying to understand the “why” of all of this.

But something has changed in me. I don’t know whether I have that “why” yet. All I know is that I’m finally building myself back up, piece by piece. I am no longer trying to put a roof on a building with no foundation. I now realize that first you need to pour the cement.

Recently, one of my closest friends went through a pretty serious medical scare. She had to have a scan done at a hospital. I immediately volunteered to go with her and hold her hand through it.

A year ago, I may have just emotionally detached. I most definitely wouldn’t have entered a hospital voluntarily. But today, I’ve faced hospitals. I’ve faced scans. They don’t scare me any more. I am stronger, and therefore I could be strong for my friend when she needed me. I realize how much of a blessing that really is.

I’ve found true compassion for others. I have found the peace and fulfillment that comes from helping people who are in pain. I have found that my passion in life is for giving to others, and not creating for myself. I have found out what true love is, through an amazing husband that has held my hand as I fell apart, and stuck around to help me pick up the pieces.

I think that all of us in the ALI community are lucky. As much as life has dealt us a crappy hand, we see the world as it truly is, and we make it through. We don’t operate on auto-pilot. We have known loss and tragedy, and we are stronger for it.

Happiness can’t be appreciated if you haven’t felt pain and despair. Those around us that go through life having not known loss, can’t appreciate what they have as much as we can. We are lucky, because our losses and our grief has come at a relatively early stage in our lives. This means that we can spend the rest of our lives appreciating what we have. This means that after getting through this difficult time we will be able to look around and be grateful. We know what it’s like to be empty, and therefore being full is a reward, not a fact of life that is ignored.

The truth is that everyone will suffer loss at some point in their life. It is inevitable, it is part of what life is. These losses help us re-evaluate who we are, re-focus our goals, and truly appreciate the good things that we have.

This is the blessing of loss and infertility. That this appreciation comes so early for us. We know heartbreak, so our own hearts fill more easily. We know loss, and therefore we know and appreciate love. We have been helped, so we know how to help others.

Even now, with my damaged and scarred body, with all of the grief and pain that this last year has brought me, I can truly say: I am lucky. I am lucky to have had these experiences. I am lucky to have been kicked out of auto-pilot at such a young age, because now I can truly work on leading a fulfilling life. I am lucky to know how fragile life is, so when I finally create a life, I will marvel at the miracle more than I ever thought possible. I am lucky to have been through pain, because now I know how to hold someone else’s hand when they are in pain.

I am lucky. I am grateful. I am humbled.

I may not be whole, but I think I am slowly finding my way toward being content. And that is a gift that most people don’t have. I hope I can continue to embrace it.

Group Therapy Thursday: Friends, Gametes, UTI’s (and sex!)

16 Sep

Another week, another bunch of questions!

Let’s just jump right in, shall we? Oh- and PS- if you didn’t make up a cool nickname in your submission, I made one up for you. And it is most likely lame. Next time I’ll just call you all “Rapier”.

Dear Mo and The Group,

Okay – so a close friend of mine is going to be an Aunt, and her sister is pregnant… I live FAR away from her – and only talk to her once a week for about an hour — and now, at least 15 minutes of that time is spent talking about her sister’s pregnancy… That may not seem like a long time, but seriously, I expect my close friends to know that I really don’t want to hear about all the ins and outs of one of their relatives’ pregnancies. She knows of my struggles, but obviously doesn’t quite get it. Is there a polite way to communicate that I really don’t care and don’t want to hear about it or talk about every week!?

Thanks, 

Far Far Away

Hi There FFA!

Here’s my take on this: I’ve spoken a lot on this blog about the importance (to me at least) of being upfront and honest about infertility and miscarriage. I know a lot of us in the ALI community keep things to ourselves, but I personally think that does more damage than good. The more we can communicate openly and honestly about our struggles, the more awareness we raise. I think this is especially true of our close friends and family. I know that every single one of my close friends (regardless of their fertility status) knows what I’m going through, and is sensitive to it, because I clearly communicate my needs and feelings to them. I think this should be the case with your friend. She is obviously close enough to you that you talk with her weekly, and she knows of your struggles. You can’t really expect a person who hasn’t “been there” to get it right all of the time. The only thing you can do is explain, and then hope they get it right the next time. Honesty is definitely the best policy here. I think that if you broach the subject tactfully, using “I feel” rather than “you did”, making sure to make it about your feelings and not her actions, then there is no reason that she would not take that with love, and be sensitive to it. Keep in mind that she doesn’t know any better, because she hasn’t “been there”, and I’m sure that you explaining it further will make her not only more sensitive to you, but also more sensitive to other IFers she may encounter in the future. If you approach it from a non-accusatory angle, I’m sure it will only contribute to your closeness and create a greater sense of open communication and understanding. Good luck!

Dear Mo and The Group

My husband and I have been trying to conceive for many years now. We have a whole host of problems between us and are using donor gametes in order to build our family at this time. We are comfortable going this route, but our concern is what to say to others. We aren’t ashamed of the route we are taking to build our family, but we don’t want our future child(ren) to have to deal with negativity due to how they were conceived. We could use some advice in handling this topic!

Thanks!

Marvelous Momma To Be

Hi There MMTB!

I personally don’t have experience with this, but I do think that this is less an issue of what others will think, and more an issue of how your future children will perceive themselves. If they feel confident, secure, and loved, then that is what they will portray to the world. These days, there are lots of “unusual” family situations, from same sex parents, to single parents, to adopted children, adopted embryos, and donor-conceived kids. Maybe I’m naive, but acceptance of these things is slowly on the rise. I think that as long as your children feel loved and protected, and are encouraged to share their struggles and feelings with you, they should be fine. I think everyone in the world has a certain sense of “otherness” as a child. Whether you stick out because of your race, your weight, the unusual makeup of your family, or even wearing glasses. The best solution, in my mind, is knowing that you will come home to a safe and loving environment.

Keiko Zoll, one of my favorite bloggers, is considering going the DE route and has some fabulous resources on her site. I especially love this post about how a mother told her daughter that she was conceived via DE. It brought me to tears. If you haven’t checked out her blog, I encourage you to do so.

Those are my two cents. I’d love to hear what everyone else has to say about this!

Okay ladies, I am susceptible to UTIs…

Am I the only one? It’s definitely gotten worse since TTC began. 

I read somewhere that the “pee after sex” thing was a myth – but there are mixed “reviews” about that. Most times I go to sleep right after sex. 

How do you balance UT health (peeing after sex maybe) with TTC (laying down for 30+ mins after sex)?

Thanks,

Urinary Tract Infertile

Hi there UTI!

I’m lucky that I haven’t been plagued much with this. However, I do have a very simple solution for you: Baby Wipes. After all, the stuff that ends up outside of your pipes at the end of the deed won’t magically get in your pipes, so there’s no harm in wiping it away. If you keep a package handy by the bed, it should at least help with the issue.

Anyone else have experience with this?

Dear Mo and The Group,

I really enjoy masturbation.  I also really enjoy sex with my husband, but there’s a part of me that believes the two are not related/not comparable: sex takes more time and more effort; there’s prep-work, there’s clean-up work, there are expectations and many variables.  A moment alone with my vibrator, however, takes five minutes or less, and always accomplishes its clear and simple goal.

When I was young and single and masturbating out of necessity, I always kind of assumed that once I got married, I wouldn’t need to masturbate anymore.  I would have another person to have sex with, as often as I wanted.  And that part of it is true – I do have another person to have sex with as often as I want; my husband NEVER turns me down.  But sometimes, I don’t want sex with another person; I just want sex with myself.  And for this, I wait for a moment when my husband isn’t around, when he’s at work, or even in the shower, so that I can, you know, take care of myself.

My question is, am I crazy?  Am I somehow cheating on my husband with my vibrator, or hurting our sex life by occasionally leaving him out of mine?  Does anyone else see intercourse and a quick self-induced orgasm as two totally different things, or was I right in my younger assumption that once you have a partner, you should be using him for 100% of your fulfillment?

Guilty (Self) Pleasure(er)

You’re crazy. For thinking that there’s even a bit of “cheating” going on here. I strongly believe that you are OBLIGATED to pleasure yourself on occasion. Here’s why: our bodies change. We respond differently to different stimuli at different times. If you don’t know what you like, how can you communicate your needs to your husband? I think it’s important that we know our own body.

Beyond that, sometimes a girl just needs a little release. Sorry to be blunt – but I’m going to venture a guess here: Chances are that when your hubby is in the shower, and you’re getting off with your little friend, he’s rubbing one out. Does that mean he’s cheating? Of course not! So why is what you’re doing any different?

I do think that perhaps the simple act of “hiding” your little vibrating friend may be what’s causing you to feel like you’re deceiving your partner. I don’t know how he’d react to your self-pleasuring, but I would suggest perhaps incorporating the vibrator into your foreplay on occasion. That way, your hubby knows the thing exists, and you may feel a bit less shamed by it all. Some men may feel like you’re hurting their ego by using a sex toy, so tread lightly and carefully, so as not to cause unnecessary conflict. But if he’s open and giving enough in bed, it may be the perfect solution so that you can assuage your guilt about your “little friend.”

If you feel like he may feel threatened by it, then go ahead and leave well enough alone. But don’t feel guilty. Masturbation is a great way to get to know your own needs, not to mention, sometimes a girl just needs a little help to fall asleep!

That’s all for today ladies. Thanks for your questions! I look forward to hearing everyone’s take on things in the comments.

And don’t forget! GTT can’t happen without your questions, so head on over to the launch post to submit yours for next week’s edition!

Group Therapy Thursday – Sex, Marriage, Moving, and Pee-Sticks!

8 Sep

I’ve gotten some awesome messages from you guys. Thanks so much for participating! I couldn’t post all of them today, but I promise that if it’s not posted today, it’ll make it on here soon!

So are we ready…? Here we go (this is exciting)!

Dear Mo and the Group,

Sex is on my mind a lot lately!  The problem is this: I was married for a long time and after getting divorced I hit it off with the first guy I dated and he now lives with me.  But lately I find myself attracted to many men and women and I wish I had dated more before getting into another committed relationship.  I’ve had sex with just two men and although it’s been pretty satisfying I desire more sexual experiences.  My suggestion of having an open relationship did not go over well and I don’t think I want to break up with my sweet boyfriend just to have casual sex.

So tell me, am I missing out on anything by having had so few sexual partners?  How have others handled these feelings?

Thanks for your help,

Practically a Virgin

Hi PAV!

I personally was a bit of a slut in high school, so I can’t talk from experience here (I’ll leave that to everyone in the comments who has been in your shoes). But do allow me to make a suggestion:

Threesome! Seriously. If you feel like you may be a bit into girls, then you should bring up the option of doing a threesome with your partner and another girl. No man in his right mind would say no to that. This way you get to be sexually adventurous without actually opening up the relationship. I’m going to pull from the Dan Savage handbook here and suggest that if you decide to do that, set some very clear boundaries ahead of time for both you and your boyfriend, and make sure that you treat the woman who you bring into the “circle” with you guys with respect, and of course, be very safe about everything.  As Mr. Savage says, monogamy shouldn’t be the death of sexual adventure. I have plenty more to say about this, but I’ll leave it here for now and let the group chime in, and maybe add more later in the comments!

Dear Mo and The Group,

If you have to move in 9 months-ish (husband is finishing college, you never intended to stay where you are now forever), and you’ve narrowed the choice down to three awesome cities, all of which have pros and cons, how do you make the final decision?

This one is from Kristen. I emailed her and asked her for some more info, specifically, what ARE the pros and cons, and what cities are they considering?

Denver/Boulder, CO

Pros: Close to family, easy to move (already live in the same state), friends there, great snowboarding, affordable

Cons: The city itself is the least favorite city, not near the ocean

Seattle, WA

Pros: Beautiful, near water, husband and I both have our best friends there, moderate cost

Cons: Rainy and gray in the winter, has both snowboarding and surfing but both are a drive and not the best quality

Santa Barbara, CA

Pros: Beautiful, beach lifestyle (I’ve lived there before and felt like I was on vacation the whole time), surfing

Cons: Expensive, lived there with my brother who died and afraid I might be sad going back there, have friends there but not as close of friends as in other places

Before I give my take, it’s important to note that Kristen, after a heck of a lot of heartbreak, is 9 weeks pregnant. With twins! Yay Kristen! I’m going to take that into consideration in my answer.

Off the top of my head, I think Santa Barbara should be knocked off the list. Considering this economy, price is definitely an issue, and I think it may be hard on you because of your history there. Not to mention the lack of family/friends.

Which brings me to my real insight here: especially once those little ones come, you’re going to want to have a support system around you. I know you’re only 9 weeks and you have the IF paranoia, so you don’t even want to look that far ahead. But you should, especially since you need to make the decision soon.

I think beyond beaches and weather, you need to have people who you love close to you. Whether it’s close friends or family is not necessarily important, but whichever it is, it will be a huge help.

I’ve heard often that after a woman gives birth, no matter what her age or circumstance, she will instinctively “want her mommy.” I know you’re close with your mom, and you should definitely tick that  box in favor of CO.

But – Seattle is awesome, and it seems like you have a support system there as well.

So I would suggest keeping that in mind, and also thinking about where you want your kids to grow up. Do you want them to be in a family atmosphere? Do you want them to grow up in a really cool city, but farther away from their grandparents? Which is more important to you?

Guys – what do you think? I know a couple of you have lived in these cities – perhaps you have some extra insight?

Hey Mo and the Group,

My husband and I have been together (including dating years) for 8 years.  We have been having difficulties in our intimate area of our life for, well, as long as we have been having sex, but we always felt like we had enough other great things going on that it wasn’t everything.  We have been struggling with IF for 2 years, and had a miscarriage last fall.  For work reasons, we have been apart for about 2 months.  A little over a week ago, he called to tell me he had slept with another woman, a mutual friend who he has known since high school.

   After spending about 48 hours vacillating between hysterics and catatonics, I’ve come to a place of contemplation (aka over-analysis).  He is incredibly apologetic, and been very straight forward about the situation.  I do want to work on this… but I also realize that just because we try to fix this, doesn’t mean we can.

   So after driving three days he is back, and things are a mix of familiar/normal and awkward/strange, trying to figure out what our relationship looks like.  Doing our best to be honest about what we both want and need.  While we plan to pursue counseling, I think we are both a little lost as to what we should do (or not do) right now, and that is where I really just need as much input as I can get.   Specifically I’m trying to wrap my head around the concepts of “love” and “forgiveness” in such an unexpected situation.  How does a couple go about rebuilding the trust?  How do I know we are better, as opposed to me just wishing we were (aka denial)?  How do I know if/when it’s over, and I should stop trying?

Bleeding Tulip

Hi there BT!

Let me start from the end, I don’t think there is anything specific you need to do, except listen to your gut. Do you want him around right now or do you need some time alone? There’s nothing wrong with giving yourself some space. I don’t know if you guys have the capacity to re-build trust, and I don’t know where you would start rebuilding it. I do know that this type of brain-spinny craziness is not good for either of you. I’ve never been in your situation, and I’m sorry you’re going through this. All I know is this: I’ve always trusted my gut. For example, I was in a relationship for 2 years, we were living together, and the second the guy started talking marriage my gut told me to break up with him. I was all alone in a city with no family around and no money, but I moved out, and it was the best decision I ever made. We’re still friends, I introduced him to his wife, and I have Shmerson. I didn’t roll it around in my head, I just listened to my gut. Your gut will never fail you as long as you listen to it without judgement.

Now –  allow me to dwell on something in the first paragraph, that I think is the most telling: You guys have been together since you were 18. And your sex life has always been lacking.

I find this worrisome. I’m not saying great sex is the cornerstone of a marriage, but you guys were 18! That’s hormone city! If it wasn’t hot and heavy then, well, I’m not sure if it really can be.

I know your IF struggle is clouding this, and you’ve got major case of the baby-crazies, which is most likely clouding your objective judgement. I want you to put the baby-crazies aside for a minute ok? Rewind to two years ago before the IF kicked in. If this had happened two years ago, what would you have done?

I think that should be your true answer. Have an honest conversation with yourself about your needs beyond the baby issue. Just put yourself in those 24-year-old shoes and see where they lead you.

Those are my two cents. What do you guys think?

Dear Mo and The Group,

Do other women in the IF/Loss community hoard their pee-sticks?  I’m not talking about stockpiling pregnancy tests for testing, or keeping your positive tests.  I’m talking about keeping every negative test I’ve taken.  They are stashed in the bottom of a drawer. I don’t understand why I do this, but I do.  Nor do I go back and look at them afterwards.  

~Future TLC Special In the Making

Hmmm… Interesting one. First of all, yes, reading HPT’s after the designated time is a really bad idea, so it’s good you don’t do that. I don’t necessarily hoard my BFN’s, but there was a time that I did hoard a couple, and look at them with a serious case of the bitter. They were a good trigger if I needed a good long cry. However, three losses in, I no longer do that. I don’t think it’s weird though. My guess is it happens more often than you’d think.

Any IFer’s out there need their own TLC special as well? “Pee-stick Hoarders – buried alive!” No, wait “Pee-ntervention!” No, that’s Bravo. “Kate plus 8 (thousand pee sticks)!” “Extreme Peesticking!”

I could go on forever. But I won’t. Thank you folks, don’t forget to tip your servers!

That’s all for today! I know there’s plenty of fodder out there for discussion, so comment away!

You guys sent in some awesome questions. Sorry that I couldn’t get to all of them – but keep them coming!

If you want to take part in next week’s Group Therapy Thursday, please head over to the launch post and fill out the handy-dandy form.

More Facebook Action – In Defense of Infertiles

6 Sep

So – for those of you who don’t read Elphie’s blog, please check over there for some context. In short, her very eloquent post about the problem with the so called “breast cancer awareness game” received some pretty nasty comments from some ignorant people. People were calling those of us offended by this game “selfish”. Accusing us of not being able to be happy for our pregnant/mommy friends.

I’ve decided to take this discussion as an opportunity to explain why it is that women with fertility issues have problems with FB pregnancy announcements. And trust me, this has nothing to do with being selfish. In fact – it’s quite the opposite.

In the year and three months since my first pregnancy, I’ve seen pregnancy announcement after pregnancy announcement. I’ve seen birth announcements. I’ve seen pictures of happy mothers and fathers holding their newborns. These have come from my friends and acquaintances. On every one of those announcements I gave a hearty congrats. In some cases, when possible, I went to visit baby and mom in the hospital. In one case, I even spent several days keeping a friend company while she was going crazy, because she was overdue and getting VERY uncomfortable.

I did all of those things happily. I was happy for them.

I was sad for me. Sad because each one of these kids was a potential playmate for my lost children. Sad because I could have had that happy announcement five months ago. And again 3 months ago. And again three months from now. I would be holding on to a huge bump now. Or holding my child. Their happiness is a reminder of my losses. Of my sadness.

So I rejoice with them. But in the privacy of my own home, in front of my computer screen, I have every right to cry. They don’t see my tears. They don’t see my sadness. Some of them, who know my situation, are sensitive enough to acknowledge it and allow me to show them my sadness. But most either don’t know, or, frankly, don’t care. That is their right.

Just like it is my right to cry in the privacy of my own home when I am reminded of my losses by a barrage of happy baby pictures. I don’t complain about those much. I’m sure I’ll be the same when hopefully I bring my own baby home. That is their right. Just as it will be mine some day.

But it’s not my lot in life yet. Now I’m faced with my losses, and nothing more. So yes, a picture of a baby, in certain emotional states will send me off the edge. Other times I’m ok. I don’t comment on their photos and say that they have no right to post them. I “like” them as often as anybody else. Because that is the part I show – the part that is genuinely happy for those newly minted parents.

So why is this stupid meme different? Because it’s cruel. Not only to women in my situation. To every mislead friend and family member. But yes, especially to people suffering from infertility.

Because seeing one pregnancy or birth announcement a week on average is enough. Seeing ten at once, not knowing the true motives behind it, is enough to send anyone in my situation over the edge. That’s a reminder of my losses ten times over. All at once. I didn’t comment on these “announcements” cursing the “new soon-to-be-mommies” out. I took a moment to breathe, and to cry, and braced myself. Ready to congratulate them all.

And then I found out they were fake. Each and every one of them. So all of that emotional turmoil was for nothing. For a stupid meme that is supposedly “to raise breast cancer awareness” but doesn’t send anyone to a foundation. Doesn’t give any helpful information. In fact, it doesn’t even have the word “breast” in it.

I’m not mad at the women who posted it. I’m sure they meant well. I’m sure they did it all in good fun.

But that doesn’t make THE SITUATION any less offensive. It’s not the individual act, but rather the collective effect of it. It did NOTHING for breast cancer awareness. What it did was make 1 in every 16 women cry. Or at least feel a little stinging pain in her chest. It’s the RANDOMNESS of this, and the UNINTENDED cruelty of it that is offensive. It’s the MISGUIDED intentions behind it. That’s what is causing the uproar.

It has nothing to do with my or my fellow infertiles’ “bitterness” or “selfishness”. We did not choose our situation. We are women (and men) desperately wanting to have children, being reminded on a minute-by-minute basis of the failure of our own bodies, and having to put on a strong happy face to the world.

We don’t begrudge our friends their happiness. We mourn our own struggles. We are not “bitter” about our friends’ luck. We are jealous sometimes, yes. But even this is something we don’t share, because we know it’s not our friends’ fault that we are infertile, or having repeat miscarriages.

So we smile. We click on “like”. We congratulate and go to baby showers and attend the bris, and come to the hospital with flowers and chocolate.

But it is our right to mourn our losses quietly when we go home. And it’s our right to be offended and hurt by a barrage of fake pregnancies. Because for us it is a cruel joke. Crueler than it would be for the potential grandmother who sees her daughter’s status and cries tears of joy before finding out it was for “breast cancer awareness”. Or the sister who was offended because she wasn’t told in person of this “pregnancy”. It’s crueler because for us, it stung to begin with. And to find out that it was for nothing makes it sting all the more.

Again – I don’t blame the individuals who posted this. I’m sure they thought nothing of it at the time.

However, I reserve my right to be angry at the collective situation. And that’s not selfish. That’s self-preservation.

Stuff Infertiles Shouldn’t Watch: Teen Mom

3 Sep

It was inevitable I would get to this show sooner or later, wasn’t it? I mean, how can you watch “16 and Pregnant” and NOT watch the spinoff? It’s impossible. So I do. All for you guys! (Ok not really. But at least you guys get a ranty blog post out of it! Yay masochism!)

I’m going to take a bit of a different approach today, and break this down according to the cast of super-moms that are on this show. Ready? Here we go…

Maci

The Drama: Maci had Bentley with Ryan. Ryan and Maci were engaged. Ryan acted like an asshole, so Maci left him. Now she and Ryan share custody.

Mother of the Year Award: Maci met a new guy, and moved two hours away from Ryan in order to be with him. A couple of months later, she decided to move back (how’s that for stability?) and the new guy came right along with her. Ryan has been stepping up and really trying to be a good father, and be respectful of Maci and her new relationship (even going as far as friending Maci’s new guy on FB, and trying to help him get a job). So far she’s reciprocated by laughing him off and denying him visits sporadically. Now Ryan is considering taking her to court. I don’t blame him. Plus – she named her son Bentley. After the car. No, really, she did.

Why she makes me bitter: Maci is now 19. She’s blowing off college, and has already begged Kyle, her new boyfriend, to have another child. Not in the far off future – now. At 19. When they’re both unemployed and she’s considering dropping out of college.

Farrah

The Drama: Farrah’s baby daddy died when she was pregnant with Sofia. Farrah’s parents are a bit overbearing. She and her mom got into a fight after her daughter was born, which landed her mom in jail overnight and having to do community service.

Mother of the Year Award: Oh, where to begin! Yes, the circumstances she and her daughter are in are tragic on the surface, but the truth is, this girl is a spoiled ungrateful brat. She calls her dad “Michael” (and he’s her biological dad), she takes her parents’ help for granted, and she now has decided she wants to get as far away as possible from her parents, despite the fact that they are her primary child care providers. I looked for some clips of her whiny bratty rants, but couldn’t find any because of youtube’s copyright policy. Honestly? Better that you don’t see them. Your ears may start bleeding.

Why she makes me bitter: Again, I don’t even know where to start. So indulge my bullet points:

  • She applied for social security benefits because her baby’s dad passed away. She was pissed when she didn’t get them. Then a week later she took out a loan for about 10,000 dollars so she could get a boob job to “help her modeling career”.
  • To celebrate her Associates Degree, she went and bought a designer dog (isn’t that the epitome of financial responsibility?). Then she hid the dog from her mom. Oh, and she didn’t bother housebreaking the dog. The dog wears a diaper. Yes, you read that right. A diaper.
  • After convincing her parents to fly with her to Arizona to look into whether she wants to move there, Farrah proceeds to spend the two days there acting like an ungrateful brat, as her parents drive her around to look at potential places to live. When she and her mom enter a complete dump of a house, Farrah yells at her mother for disparaging the fact that her daughter wants to move halfway across the country with a two year old and live in a dangerous neighborhood.
  • General conclusion: Everything this girl does seems to be to spite her parents. I’m sure that If her parents were encouraging her to feed her daughter healthy food, she would starve her just to make them mad. She is a spoiled brat, and never considers the best interest of her child.

Amber

You know why this looks like a mug shot? Because it is one.

The Drama: Amber had Leah with a guy named Gary. He’s not perfect, but he seems like an ok guy and for some reason he’s madly in love with her. They lived together, got engaged, and then broke up. Then they got back together again and moved in together again. Then they broke up again. Then they moved in together again. Then they broke up again. Amber is now seeing a guy named Clinton.

Mother of the Year Award: Gary is seriously a victim of spousal abuse. No matter what he does Amber explodes at him. It got so out of hand that Amber hit him. On camera. Recorded for all posterity. Here’s a little taste of it:

CPS got involved and she lost custody of Leah. Amber then moved to yet another house (I believe this was the fourth or fifth in two years) and regained custody. They haven’t shown it on the air yet, but from what I understand she has since been arrested again, and has once again lost custody of her daughter.

Why she makes me bitter: See above. Oh, and it came to the point that she saw her daughter so infrequently that Leah began calling her “Amber” instead of “Mommy”. Again, Leah is two. Amber cries all the time about missing her, yet somehow continues to find herself in jail. That’s appreciating parenthood, isn’t it?

Catelynn (and Tyler) 

**WARNING: I am about to lose all cynicism***

These two are awesome. Seriously.

The Drama: Catelynn and Tyler are actually step-siblings. Catelynn’s mom is married to Tyler’s dad. Tyler’s dad has been in and out of jail his entire life. Catelynn’s mom is just – well, unstable. It seems that Catelynn and Tyler got together because they really had no one to take care of them, so they decided to take care of each other.

Mother of the Year Award (truly deserved): When Catelynn found out that she was pregnant, she and Tyler decided to give their daughter Carly up for adoption, because they didn’t want her growing up in such an unstable environment. Parents on both sides protested. They all insisted Catelynn and Tyler keep the baby. The couple bravely went against their parents’ wishes and gave Carly up in an open adoption. Before having Carly, Catelynn and Tyler were both struggling in school. Now they have both graduated, moved in together, and gotten engaged. Tyler is going to college because he has decided he wants to pursue social work. Catelynn has become a vocal adoption advocate in her community. They always say they are working their butts off to make their lives better so that Carly will be proud of them.

Why she makes me bitter: She doesn’t. Not only did these guys help an infertile couple get their forever family, they have proven their maturity and grace time and time again in this very complicated situation. They are amazing role models. I wish MTV’s casting department would find a few more kids like them. In the history of 16 and Pregnant, this is the only couple that has opted for adoption rather than parenting.

In Conclusion…

Catelynn and Tyler are the only couple still together on this show. They are also one of the few that have managed to further their education. They are slowly building stability into their lives and their initial selfless act has strengthened them. They are poster children for adoption. So what’s my beef? In the 16 and Pregnant world, they are the exceptions, whereas Supermoms like Farrah and Amber are the rule. Some would say that MTV is sending a pro-adoption message through this. I say MTV needs to balance things out a bit with a few more Catelynns and Tylers.

So for every time I coo and tear up at Catelynn and Tyler’s bravery and maturity, I gag at yet another snarky comment from Farrah. I wince at Maci’s tactless approach to co-parenting. I bang my head against the wall at Amber’s abusive behavior.

And I wait with baited breath for their childrens’ tell-all books.

Stuff Infertiles Shouldn’t Watch – Toddlers and Tiaras

28 Aug

Some of you already know about my masochistic, unexplained obsession with 16 and Pregnant. Well folks, my unhealthy obsession with reality TV that makes me crazy has taken a turn for the worse. I have decided to make it an ongoing series.

Yes – I will be watching stupid reality TV that pisses infertiles off so that you don’t have to! Look how I much I sacrifice for you people (ok not really)!

So for my inaugural post I have decided to take on the mother of all reality trash. I’m sure you’re all dying to know what I chose first. Oh, wait – it’s in the title. Oops.

Toddlers and Tiaras!

I discovered this little gem while recovering from my lap surgery. I admit that I marathoned the heck out of it during my almost week of stabby pain hell.

Don’t ask me why. It’s like crack. Only more masochistic than crack.

For those of you who don’t know the premise, Toddlers and Tiaras follows kids as they compete in beauty pageants. Kids and their insane parents (who apparently have money to burn). The competition ranges from newborn babies to teens. But of course, the show wouldn’t be interested in the teens. The oldest contestant I’ve seen so far was I think about 10 years old. Most of the featured kids are around 4-6 years old.

These kids (and yes, there are boys who compete too!) get spray tans, fake teeth (known as “flippers”), and hair pieces. Yes – the boys get spray tans too. There are also swimsuit competitions. Even the 6 month old babies do the swimsuit competitions.

Now here’s the kicker – the kids wear outfits that usually cost upwards of 2000 dollars. Their parents pay entry fees in the hundreds. They stay at hotels. They pay coaches. They build elaborate sets.

All so their kid can walk onto a stage in a rather shabby looking convention hall in bumfrak nowhere and compete for crowns.

The “Ultimate Grand Supreme” (apparently this means the person with the highest overall score in the pageant regardless of age category) will sometimes win cash. But I’ve never seen a prize higher than 1500 bucks. No one breaks even here. Yet all of the parents claim they’re doing this to “invest in their children’s future”.

Here is a list of things they could spend this money on that would truly “invest in their children’s future”:

  1. A college fund
  2. Private School
  3. Museum trips
  4. Tutors to teach them a foreign language.
  5. Violin lessons
  6. Piano lessons
  7. Ballet lessons
  8. Art classes
  9. Karate classes
  10. An internet specialist that will go in and erase all pictures of their dolled-up kids from the web so pedophiles won’t oggle at them, and a google search of them in 15 years won’t keep them from getting a job.
  11. A therapist to undo the damage the parents have done to the kids.
  12. Put the fund in a trust account for a lawyer – they’re going to need it for when their children attempt to file for emancipation.
  13. Give the money to a nice infertile couple who can’t afford treatments.

Ok – the last one doesn’t really involve the kid’s well being, but that would be nice, wouldn’t it?

I think what surprises me most here is just the sheer trashiness of it all. Here is a picture of an “Ultimate Grand Supreme” winner:

Hopefully this will eventually pay for this girl's therapy.

Yeah so apparently they give the money in cash, glue it to a paper plate in the form of a fan, and make the winner pose with it. Is it just me or is that just… Wrong? Cheap? Gross? I don’t know if there is a word to describe this, really. So I’ll make one up: horricheapagusting. That just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

And you know these parents are teaching their kids the right things to do with their money. Check out this girl’s solid education of fiscal responsibility (skip to minute 41:52):

Yes! Cheese dip! You know what? I should invest in cheese dip futures. There’s a market for that, right?

Oh, but this is nothing. Please, meet Makenzie (mangled spelling courtesy of her parents):

Now I don’t know about you – but I have a sinking suspicion that her mother has a whole road planned out for her. A couple more years on Toddlers and Tiaras, then she can move on to America’s Got Talent, be a cast member on The Real World, and finish it all off with a nice emotional arc on Celebrity Rehab. Once she’s out of there, she can probably make a couple of extra bucks shilling out her tell-all book: “From Ni-Ni to Cocaine: How My Mother Ruined My Life”

Speaking of substance abuse – most of these parents are well on their way to educating their children about a healthy lifestyle, evidenced by this little gem:

Hmmmm… She can’t get herself together? Really? Perhaps it’s the constant stream of refined sugar that you keep shoving down her mouth? Just a thought.

PS – they also give their kids Red Bull. I just couldn’t find a clip of that. You’re going to have to trust me on that one.

I could go on for hours, but let me end with…. Drumroll… Eden Wood.

Eden is currently 6 years old. She has now officially “retired” from the pageant circuit. More on that in a second. First, here’s a look at her (and her mother) in action:

Eden’s mother has decided to capitalize on her daughter’s Reality TV fame. At the ripe old age of six, Eden is currently on a mall tour across America singing her “hit” song – Cutie Patootie (as seen on the cheap imitation of The View The Talk).

Note the horrified look on Sharon Osbourne’s face. And this is the woman that is married to a guy who bites heads off of bats and who has raised Kelly Osbourne. ‘Nough said.

I read a blog post not too long ago (sorry – can’t remember where!) about how infertiles sometimes look at parents and feel all superior, and say “I’ll never be like that” only to find out that once they are parents themselves, they make some of the same mistakes.

Here’s what I think is comforting about Toddlers and Tiaras: I can totally feel superior to these parents. I know my feelings are justified. Guilt-free.

Here’s what’s not so comforting: I’m going to have to work to get my kids. Work  really hard. And these parents most likely didn’t. And they’re pretty much abusing them. Which honestly, I’d like to say I find funny, but mostly it just makes me sad.

And perhaps that’s why Infertiles shouldn’t watch it.

(On the other hand, it is a really good target for our hostility. Just sayin’)

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