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Our Journey

2002 Uterine Fibroid Surgery #1

2003 1st consult with an RE, you know, just in case

2003 Got Married (at 37 (me) & 34 (DH) years old)

2003/2004 Naturally conceived pregnancies BFPs #1, #2, & #3 and miscarriages #1, #2, #3

2005 Uterine Fibroid Surgery #2

2005 IVF #1, BFN #1

2005 IUIs #1 and #2, just because, BFN #2 & #3

2005 FET from IVF #1, BFN #4

2006 Exploratory surgery to remove scar tissue from fibroid sugery #2

2006 IVF #2 (w PGD), BFP #4

2006 Emergency cerclage for IC @ 16w6d (5 months + 1 week of complete bed rest at home ensues)

2007 Our son is born @ 38w by scheduled c-section

2007 IVF #3 for baby #2, BFN #5

2007 IVF #4, BFP #5, miscarriage #4

2008 IVF #5, BFP #6, miscarriage #5

2008 IVF #6, BFP #7, miscarriage #6

2008 DE IVF #7, BFN #6

2009 DEFET #8, cancelled, embryos don't thaw

2010 Decide to adopt domestically

12.17.10 Profile is live with our agency

November 2011 Consult with RE re: donated embryo cycle

Early January 2012 Cleared to proceed with deFET

January 2012 Freeze our profile

1.20.12 deFET begins
2.12.12 eSET of one compacted morula
2.22.12 BFN

3.23.12 deFET #2 begins
4.14.12 transfer 3 embryos (1-8 cell, 1-5 cell, 1-4 cell)
4.22.12 + HPT
4.24.12 Beta #1 = 48.4
4.26.12 Beta #2 = 125.7
4.30.12 Beta #3 = 777.8
5.11.12 1st U/S - Singleton!
7.12.12 It's a Boy!
12.26.12 C-section: Baby G is born, 9#5oz, 20.5"

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Me, in my 2nd of two body casts, 1978.  The cast came under my boobs and down to the toes of my left leg.

Me, in my 2nd of two body casts, 1978. The cast came under my boobs and down to the toes of my left leg.

Shitty Thing

People say and do shitty things all the time. Sometimes we, as consumers, get lucky and have the opportunity to do something about the shitty thing that someone has said.

Since Dolce & Gabbana decided to share their views on IVF children, surrogacy, and traditional families with the public, we get the opportunity to show them how we feel (if how we feel is offended and disgusted that they would use their celebrity to call children conceived through IVF “synthetic”, and refer to surrogates as having “wombs for rent” and spewing their hypocritical, anti-gay propaganda by saying “the only family is the traditional one. Life has a natural flow, there are things that should not be changed. One is the family.”) by joining in the boycott of Dolce & Gabbana goods and/or by selling any goods of theirs we have and donating to an infertility organization, or making a donation outright in their names.

I am incensed because the definition of the adjective synthetic is, “(of a substance) made by chemical synthesis, especially to imitate a natural product.” Children, no matter how they are conceived, are not products and those conceived through IVF are not imitations of a natural product. The implication makes me want to vomit.

So, please, consider using your outrage for good in the form of donating (in any amount) to one or more of a number of infertility organizations:

PVED (Parents Via Egg Donation)
RESOLVE (The National Infertility Organization)
ASRM (American Society for Reproductive Medicine)

Synthetic my mother fucking ass.

Be at Rest, Lisa Bonchek Adams

I am saddened by the death of Lisa, someone whose blog I’ve linked to here before and that I’ve followed for over a year. Her writings as she lived with metastatic breast cancer and faced her own death had a profound impact on me.

She often ended her posts with this quote and it is the only fitting thing to say:

“Find a bit of beauty in the world today. Share it.
If you can’t find it, create it.
Some days this may be hard to do. Persevere.”

Wordless Wednesday

Annie are you ok? Are you ok, Annie?  You've been hit by a smooth criminal.

Annie are you ok? Are you ok, Annie? You’ve been hit by a smooth criminal.

S is for Slacker

Writing consistently is a habit, one that I have clearly not cultivated. So much for posting once a week here.

We will be celebrating my older son’s 8th birthday next week. EIGHT. Oh, my love for him is big. He is both infuriatingly stubborn and prone to crying in frustration and charmingly sweet, always ready for a hug or kiss. I know those days are likely numbered so I am always ready when he is. He is maturing and so independent already. He wakes in the morning and dresses in his school uniform before coming out of his room. He makes his own breakfast and clears his plate. He takes his own bath or shower. He comes home from school, gets a snack and immediately starts on his homework. All of this comes from our giving structure to his life early on, when his strong-willedness was apparent. And we all benefit from his adherence to the order of things now.

G is joy. Pure, unbridled joy. Always. I am so fortunate after having my parenting teeth cut on such a handful in my older son, to enjoy the relative ease of parenting G. Our prolonged time together (I returned to work when my older son was 13 mos but have been home with G all of his 26 months) has made him deeply bonded with and connected to me. He is equally a mama’s and a daddy’s boy, his love is fluid for us both, but he is the heart of my heart.

As for me, I am feeling an itch. I would not quite call it a ‘mid-life crisis’ because I am not in crisis, but I am mindful that I have lived more of my life than I likely have left and am hungry to feed so many aspects of myself. I know that there will not be more children for us, but have recently gotten it in my mind that I want another dog. I have scoured the local shelter and petfinder listings. I became attached to one pup so much that I made a two hour trek to see her, twice, taking both boys with me once. Alas, she was too rambunctious a puppy for our home with a toddler. But, it did help me narrow what I think I would like and that is a small-medium, low-shedding, quiet, sweet, female dog. Our dog is getting up in age, having just turned 10 (or, gosh, is it 11, must check) and I don’t want to be without a dog when she passes. My husband, gawd love him, would prefer no more pets but is humoring me in this pursuit. I jokingly said to him that if my mid-life crisis costs us some botox, a tattoo, and a dog, we’ll be well ahead of the game.

And, yes, I said Botox. I had an appointment for today, in fact, but rescheduled it as I have been sick and getting needles in my face was an intolerable thought. I went in for a consultation at a med-spa owned by a plastic surgeon friend of a friend. Just as a color my gray, I am working on maintaining the best of my face. I’d like to reduce/eliminate the laugh lines under around my eyes and Botox seems to be the most effective and economical way to do that. There is another, newer treatment called ultherapy which used heated ultrasound waves to stimulate collagen, but it is quite spendy (just doing 1/3 of my face would be $1,200 vs maybe $200 for Botox). We’ll see how it turns out.

I don’t know, it is certainly a combination of restlessness and a bit of boredom. You know what they say about idle hands. I’ve settled into this life, this routine, of being a SAHM and as I approach the 5 year (death-knell) anniversary of being unemployed, it is harder and harder to even know what kind of work to look for. We need the additional income and with semi-annual property taxes due in April, I am acutely aware of just how much we do, but it has been so hard for me to focus on finding work. Alas, I must.

I have changed my eating and work-out regimen. I joined a group fitness circuit training studio in town that was recommended by a friend and happened to be running a greatly discounted offer so I do that 3 times a week and cardio barre twice/wk. I abandoned the rules and regulations of Trim Healthy Mama (except for the positive changes I’d already embraced) in favor of an alternate day fasting (ADF) program suggested by my doctor. There are many ADFs to choose from (5:2, 4:3, JUDDD (Johnson’s Up Day Down Day), etc) and I’ve settled on JUDDD. I restrict my calories to around 500 on Tuesdays/Thursdays/Sundays and eat sensibly the other four days of the week. In the first two weeks, I’ve lost 5 pounds. Given my myriad underlying conditions: hypothyroidism, peri-menopause, taking ADs), it has been impossible for me to lose weight. I am NOT giving up, though, and hoping the combination of circuit training and fasting will do the trick to get my system moving.

I feel like I have settled into an unsustainable life as a SAHM. I love being home, I do. But I do need to set my sights on earning a living. What to do, what to do (I feel like a broken record in this regard or maybe just a slacker).

On Parenting Two

Here I am, finally, the holy grail of my motherhood dream, parenting two children. This is what we struggled for so long and hard for, come to fruition. Is it what I thought it would be? Is it what I wanted? And where do I put my infertility now that I am here?

Yes, this is what I wanted and what I thought it would be. Truth be told, I would do it again, and again. If we didn’t live in this expensive state. If public school was an option. If I weren’t fast approaching 50, I would do it all over again and have three or four children. I ask myself why all the time, especially now that we are hitting our new normal since G turned two. Quite simply, I love motherhood. It comes naturally to me, it is rewarding, and I’m fulfilled by it. I am no Pinterest or Etsy mom nor am I a home-schooling mom. The monotony of playing Candyland and Go Fish! grate on me. But, my heart is made happy at being called ‘momma’ and ‘mommy’. It has given my life a depth of meaning and purpose like nothing else. Even though I was a successful executive in my pre-children life, who thrived on the business of business and who was the most competitive person in my role, I have found my calling in being a mother.

The thing I dislike the most? The endless bending over to pick stuff up. It is relentless even though I have fairly well trained children (both pick up after themselves or at least help clean-up when asked). Be that as it may, thank gawd for the elasticity of my lower back as I am bending over dozens upon dozens of times a day to pick someone or something up or to clean up a mess or a spill. True, I feel more relaxed in a a clean home and granted I bring some of it on myself as a result, but the near constant picking up about does me in.

Now that G is two, there is a bit of cross-over in what the boys like doing. And, because sharing is a new concept to a 2 year old, it requires a fair amount of refereeing. Mostly, I try to leave it to them to sort out; a 5y9m age difference allows for that, but, even still, there is a lot of “mooooooooooom, I had it first” or “mooooooooom, he won’t let me have a turn”. And, frankly, I love it. What a high class problem to have! To see them together, playing together is everything I wanted and more. There is a rightness about their brotherhood.

I also feel lucky that even though I won’t get to parent a girl, my boys are completely different from each other in temperament, personality, and behavior. Where my older son is Type A, strong-willed, stubborn, whiny and bossy, the baby is easy going, easily distracted, amiable, laid back, totally chill. I feel like I won the motherhood lottery in getting to parent such different kids and it has stretched me in rewarding ways.

We do our fair share of dividing and conquering, given their age difference. G is still napping once/day, smack dab in the middle of the day, so it limits all day family activities. My husband and I each spend alone time with both boys, we do as many family events as we can, but, there are just some things (like going to a kids movie, or taking our older son to golf lessons, or taking G to speech therapy) that we do separately. I know it won’t always be this way and I sort of cherish this time now. I find myself needing a fair amount of alone time (and I’m not sure why that is, but it’s true) and doing some things separately allows for that.

As for where to put my infertility…it is part of who I am and a tribe I identify with. I counsel many friends who are trying to have their first child and it is hugely gratifying. I counsel younger friends on freezing their eggs to give them options well into their future or on how to get pregnant naturally (it is surprising how little even educated women know about trying to conceive having spent most of their adult lives trying not to). Even though I am no longer as active on fertility boards, as a veteran, I do feel a sense of responsibility to remain connected, see others through. I am called to it even more fiercely than I am called to adoptee rights, even though that is something I also feel at least tangentially involved in. I feel like an advocate for both, and I guess I am.

Mostly, I feel like I carry the torch for those newly diagnosed or suffering secondary infertility. I remember being there. It was a full quarter of my life trying to start and complete our family. My heart hurts for those who are waiting for a BFP that sticks, a live birth, a surrogate or birth mother match, an egg donor, the finances to travel abroad or start or continue ART, or whatever it is that is preventing them from becoming a parent right this very moment. It is a sisterhood unlike anything I have ever known and I feel loyal to and protective of it.

Reflecting

Is it only a dream?

Plague of 2015, a 50b50 Fail, Birth Parent News

I am taking my 50 before 50 seriously and wanted to get this posted by last Friday in order to fulfill my #30 entry of posting at least once/wk. At the point I hit publish on my last post, the virus must have already been working its way through my system as by a week ago Saturday, I was expelling the entire contents of my stomach into the toilet. And, by Sunday morning, it was literally coming out of both ends at once and required a lot of maneuvering on my part to NOT make a complete disaster of our bathroom. My first real meal was 3 days ago. I finally feel recovered even if that means that this post is overdue, but that just means two posts this week to catch up. I can do that. Right?

I do have news to share regarding the search for my husband’s birth father (you can read about my finding his birth mother here, here, and here and the search for his birth father here and here). Because I’m tenacious and a bit annoyed at those who don’t want to be found denying who they are or omitting information they have, I decided to send Christmas cards to: my birth mother, my first adoptive father (my mom’s first husband and my deceased brother’s father), my husband’s birth mother, my husband’s younger half-brother, and my husband’s suspected birth father). Our card was a photo card and on the back I more or less wrote that during the holiday season we were thinking of extended family (and to those for whom hearing from us was a first, I included our relationship to them).

A few days ago, I received an anonymous letter (anonymous in that it had no return address and was signed first name only) from a long-time friend of my husband’s birth father. The gist of the letter was to provide confirmation that he was who we thought he was, share pertinent medical information (turns out my husband inherited gout from both his paternal grandfather and biological father and is taking the same preventative medication that his BF takes), and the ages and causes of death of his paternal grandparents. It humbly asked that we refrain from further contact. Both my husband and I took this as the gift of kindness that it was.

For my part, I circled back with Jay, our PI, to provide him with his success and to inquire about half-siblings. He provided the names and birth dates of 4 children, two of which are likely my husband’s cousins and two his younger half-siblings (a brother and a sister). We’ll do nothing with the information for the time being. I am fairly certain that the family, maybe even this man’s current wife, know nothing about the existence of my husband. No good will come of us reaching out. Should his birth father pass away, well, maybe then.

I should also mention that through the twists that the universe takes, I have become quite close to my husband’s birth mother, so much so that I am FB friends with her and so, now, is my husband. It feels right for the both of us and has even been good for my mother-in-law who is also in direct contact with her. A lot of healing has come from finding and knowing her. My MIL is thinking of having an 85th birthday party at the end of this year and if she does, we will go. And, if we go, we will meet my husband’s birth mother, too.

I’ve gotten no response from my birth mother from my last two pieces of correspondence. At this moment and while I have the great desire to find my birth father, I have no idea how to proceed, although I plan to.

G turned 2! TWO! We are approaching 6 months of speech therapy and while there has been a LOT of progress, we have a ways to go to catch him up. I love him in a way I am sure there is no word for. And, not to play favorites, my older son will be 8, EIGHT, in 2 months. At7y9M, he finally lost his first tooth, followed quickly by two others and was quite happy to no longer be the only one in second grade to not have lost a tooth.

Finally, I posted this back in July, 2014, and am happy to report that last night, Wendy Burch gave birth to an 8#8oz baby boy named Brady. I am thrilled about the happy ending to her story and am also thrilled that Bobbie Thomas, Today Show contributor, is 12 weeks pregnant through her 4th IVF and you can see her update here. These public women sharing their experiences with infertility and journey to motherhood is helpful in raising awareness and bringing IF and ART to the fore.

50 before 50

Happy New Year! I hope that however you chose to ring in the new year and flip a page on our annual calendar, that you did so in the manner of your liking.

I am not one for making resolutions. They set me up for failure and self-flagellation. It must be noted and cannot be avoided that my 50th birthday will occur in May, 2016. As I begin the march forward with much anticipation of celebrating a half-century on this planet, there are things that, unless I write them down, turn my limited attention toward them, create a spreadsheet for tracking, and check them off, they simply won’t occur. The busy-ness of life has a way, like water, of seeking its level.

There has been tremendous freedom of mind, heart, and soul in completing our family. And, while I continue to be a supportive and experiential coach for fellow infertiles trying to start or complete their families, that does not take up near the amount of time that my own journey did. I have been encouraged, and this is a post for another time, to start an infertility coaching business. Since my clinic is uninterested (read: cheap) in moving forward with a concierge roll but because it is something I am passionate about and qualified for, it is possible that it is the venture that I will move forward with.

The freedom from not being in the struggle myself has, though, created a bit of inertia in my life. Of course, I am raising young children and their lives are at the center of my own, but I am a multi-demensional woman and want and need to use my talents beyond being a wife and mother. It is in the spirit of self-enrichment, goal setting and attaining, the true desire to maximize this one life I have at a time when I am physically and intellectually still able, that I created a 50 before 50 list. These are things that are important to me, in varying degrees, and I know that in their pursuit my life will be richer and deeper and productive and joyful. I am posting the list here as I need accountability and you, my dear readers, are just the sort to provide it.

IIWII’s 50 before 50
1. Hummingbird tattoo
2. Lose 30#s
3. Maintain weight loss
4. Fully incorporate the THM lifestyle
5. Take a flower arranging class
6. Take piano lessons
7. Take Italian language class
8. Find a new source of income (fertility coach, perhaps, or franchise owner)
9. Become a board member of at least one organization that I’m passionate about
10. Volunteer my time in a meaningful way
11. At least one overnight getaway weekend with DH
12. See JM in person (which may happen in Feb-15)
13. Attend 18 date nights (one/mo from Nov.14-May.16)
14. Attend 18 MNOs (one/mo from Nov.14-May.16)
15. Plan at least one girls overnight getaway
16. Eliminate hangers-on as friends. Acquaintances are one thing; takers masquerading as friends is another)
17. Go to a concert/play/entertainment event
18. Visit a place I’ve never been
19. Go on a family road trip
20. Go whale watching
21. Begin writing draft of memoir
22. Get a piece of writing published or printed or reproduced somewhere
23. Eliminate refined sugar/carbs from diet (See #3)
24. Learn how to take better photos
25. Ride a horse
26. Consult a financial/real estate/estate planner
27. Consult a psychic
28. Visit the cemetery
29. Go to a show taping (Fashion Police, maybe, as I have a contact and love Kathy Griffin)
30. Publish at least one blog post weekly
31. Drink more fluids daily
32. Have my body fat measured
33. Create G’s baby book
34. New haircut/style/color
35. Handwrite letters/notes/cards to friends
36. Resume search for birth father
37. Some form of strenuous physical exercise 5 times/wk (for now that will be CB and P90X)
38. Have more sex
39. Begin a facial rejuvenation routine (consultation set of 1/17/15)
40. Read 1 book/mo
41. Reduce clutter/organize cabinets
42. Review/purge what’s in the boxes in the garage attic
43. Scan meaningful old pictures
44. Sell jewelry that I set aside to sell 4 yrs ago
45. Whiten teeth
46. Make a new friend (in process)
47. Try a new cuisine/food (I have already tried fried dill pickles, but that doesn’t count)
48. Be more present with my boys
49. One random act of kindness a week
50. Prioritize and complete DIY home improvement projects (as money & time permit)

Finally, if you can help me with anything on this list, perhaps you have a skill or a horse, please contact me dolfynstar@gmail.com.

Book Review: Where Have All the Storks Gone (+ Book Giveaway)

Even though this space has taken some detours from being solely infertility focused, the struggle, the cause, and the journey of those diagnosed with infertility continue to be something I am involved with and in. I was approached by the publishers of a new book, “Where Have All the Storks Gone, A His and Hers Guide to Infertility by Michelle & Chris Miller to write a review. I’ve never agreed to review, promote or advertise on this blog, but will admit that the idea of a his/hers guide intrigued me, so I accepted the free book in exchange for providing a review. The thoughts expressed below are solely my own.


I tend to be critical of show segments, articles and books written about infertility, having gone through almost every single aspect of diagnosis and treatment myself.  That said, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed Michelle & Chris Miller’s, Where Have All the Storks Gone, A His and Hers Guide to Infertility.  The book is a candid, factually accurate, humorous and loving portrayal of the couple’s attempts to have a baby, struggles month after to month to conceive, eventual tests and procedures which led to a diagnosis of infertility, and their many treatment attempts from IUI to IVF.

It is written in a back and forth style, from the perspective of both husband and wife, each and every step of the way.  I found this to be particularly refreshing as we don’t always hear the husband’s (or significant others) point of view simultaneously with the woman going through it.  Their style of writing is conversational, with his being more direct and to the point and hers often providing a more in-depth look at what she and they are experiencing.

What comes through is their love for each other, their desire to start a family, their commitment to supporting each other as they navigate each step in the labyrinth that is an infertility diagnosis, and the hope that they come out the other side as parents.  Not only is this their personal account, but it also serves and an Infertility 101 Primer, for those just starting out or for the loved ones of those struggling with infertility who want to better understand the process.  Each test or procedure is accurately defined and there is a glossary of terms at the back of the book which is useful.

Their story does not gloss over the emotional toll that trying to become pregnant month after month takes, nor does it wallow in self-pity.  They persevere in the face of snow white HPTs, high FSH results, a fibroid sighting (and need for surgical removal), having no embryos to freeze following their first transfer, dropping hCG levels after a promising start, a miscarriage, and finding themselves back at square one.

I will not spoil the outcome of their journey here.  I highly recommend the book to anyone having trouble conceiving, or who has been diagnosed with infertility and is starting down their path of treatment, or to their family, friends and loved ones to get a better understanding of what the rigors of treatment mean to and for a couple. It is a quick and easy read packed full of insight, warmth, humor, and love.

If you would like to win a free copy of the book, please leave a comment about what holiday tradition you are most looking forward to by Thursday, 12/18/14 (11:59PM PST) and I will select one winner at random on Friday, 12/19/2014.