Archive | April, 2012

Misconception: Infertility Awareness and the Myth of Multiples

26 Apr

We are inundated with awareness. Pink Kitchenaid mixers, races of all sorts, yellow bracelets. It’s great to see something that affects so many people get so much awareness and the attention is deserved but sadly there are a great number of disorders and diseases for which awareness is lacking. 

Are you aware that infertility has an awareness week? It’s this week –  April 22nd-29th. Have you seen anything on Facebook about it or been asked to post your toenail polish color in a way to get people talking? Probably not. Sadly due to the nature of infertility most people are either ashamed to talk about it or reticent to share their journey for fear of judgement from others. Since infertility deals with sex and reproduction, both considered “inappropriate” topics for conversation in our culture, many who are infertile find it hard to open up to others about their issues. In order to spread some awareness in my own way this week I wanted to blog about an issue that has been weighing on me lately.

When it comes to infertility, especially when dealing with infertility treatment, there are a lot of myths and misunderstandings. One of the biggest misconceptions is that undergoing infertility treatment will always end up with the birth of multiples. While it can not be denied that the use of ovulation stimulating drugs does increase the chance of multiples for many couples, according to studies done by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine approximately 30% of pregnancies resulting from the use of reproductive medicines are multiples. This number includes all multiple pregnancies from twins higher. Spontaneous multiples (those without the use of fertility medications) occur in 1.11% of pregnancies.

Society loves to sensationalize the birth of high order multiples. In North America, this curiosity predates the use or even invention of infertility treatment, so it is nothing new. In 1934, the birth of the Canadian Dionne quintuplets (the spontaneous occurance of five identical embryos) was so shocking the quints were taken from their parents by the government of Ontario and put on display for the public to see. They were visited by approximately 6000 people per day until 1943 when their parents won custody back.  

Fastforward to the 21st century and we are surrounded by stories of women having six babies, eight babies, etc. While much of the rise in the number of high order multiples born can be attributed to the use of fertility medications; it’s important to recoginize that many of these cases are due to mismanagement of care, something that seems to be left out of the stories. Two cases that are great examples of this have recently been on my radar. The first is the extremely well known “Octomom” Nadya Suleman and the second is a woman in Houston who recently gave birth to sextuplets. Both women were profiled by the media simply for giving birth to a large number of children at once…but how did they get to that point?

In the case of the Suleman, an extreme mismanagement of care by her doctor. Since the birth of her octuplets, it has been discovered by the California medical board that Suleman’s doctor transferred tweleve embyos into her uterus during her IVF procedure. The standard protocal for a woman of Suleman’s age is two. The CA medical board revoked her doctor’s medical license but this information was not deemed nearly as sensational or newsworthy; a Google search for the phrase “Suleman Octuplets” garners 1,010,000 results. A search for the name of her doctor nets 139,000 results and the first hit is a link to his still active website, promoting free consultations for IVF.  

In the case of the woman from Houston, it’s the same story just on a much less famous plane. Sextuplets are obviously old news. The woman underwent inter-uterine insemination with six follicles, four more than allowed by most doctors and was seeing a standard OB who had no special training in infertility instead of a specialist. She ended up with six children because all six of the egg follicles she had fertilized. This, like the IVF involving twelve embryos should not have been and under good medical supervision IS not allowed.

Okay, okay so I’ve lectured you on why this stuff happens and why I feel like the view that infertility treatment = instant multiples isn’t a sound theory…but is this still really an issue? Why do we need awareness? The reason I brought up the woman in Houston is two-fold, I wanted to point out why her situation is not a standard infertility protocol but I also wanted to share some of the comments on the article, the thing that really drove me to write this blog in the first place.

“Too many babies at one time. It is time to put these fertility doctors outta business.”

“I’m so disgusted with all these multiple births being glamourized. there is nothing “miraculous” about it. A miracle would be if it NATURALLY happened. I cannot believe a “doctor” would allow 6 eggs while doing an IUI. Can’t wait for their website to turn into a donations site to help support this litter of kids.”

“Fucking fertility drugs should be banned. Too many fucking humans already. Stupid story.”

“Plenty of babies that need adopting.”

These are just a few examples of the comments on the story but it brings home the point that there is still a need for awareness of how infertility treatment works, a need for increased understanding. If you take nothing else away from this, just take a second to pause and think about what you are about to say the next time you hear of someone undergoing infertility treatment or having trouble conceiving. Think about if what you are about to say might be a misconception, think about how much you really know about the issue. The infertility community at large will really appreciate it.

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Having Fun Isn’t Hard When You’ve Got a Library Card!

23 Apr

It’s the end of the semester at school (three weeks and counting!) so my time is divided lately between American Indians, the Civil War, Ireland and various and sundry other sometimes tiring topics. Sadly, this leaves little free time for blogging. I just finished writing a paper and thought since I was already in writing-mode I would pop over to WordPress for a bit.

This weekend was a blast. My mom got married. I have a ton of pictures and fully intend to blog about it later this week once I get them downloaded from my camera.But for now an aside…

Last week a good friend of mine (shout out!) was telling me about her adventures using the library. Because I can be a damn snob I have always been kind of weird about using a library. Of course I have frequently used the university library because please, like I am going to shell out $145 for a copy of The Life and Times of George Washington: Why, No My Teeth Are Not Actually Wooden to cite it twice in a paper; but for every day pleasure reading the library was a no-go. Since I have recently become cheap (see also coupons, use of) and because my friend kept extolling the greatness of this literary resource funded by my tax dollars, I decided to give it go…

…and boy am I glad I did. The Fort Worth Public Library has come a LONG way. Gone are the days of card catalogs and being shushed by a grumpy librarian. Randall, like myself, was a little leery of the library. He is a proud devotee of the Half Price Books clearance section, so I don’t know why as the only real difference here is that he can get books that aren’t a billion years old or super-terrible. Anyway, I digress…We hit up the local branch this evening after work and it was awesome. The building was well designed and clean, the staff was super-friendly, the books I wanted were either on the shelf waiting for me or a few clicks away in my online account and they had, as Randall called it in completely awe, “the 007 technology.” We walked up to the self checkout (see – FW library is where it is at) and scanned my card, were prompted to place our books on the sensor pad and it automatically populated what books we had in seconds, no scanning required. I have to admit, it was pretty much a mind blown moment for us both as 30 minutes prior we were still kind of in the library = sketch camp.

Since the library also has ebooks for my ereader and I like to give my husband crap, I am dubbing this the Summer in Which I Read a Metric Ton of Books While Randall Reads Like Seven, Three of Which Will Probably Be About Dogs. Also, please note that as I am a blogger on the up and up, this review was not paid for by the library, mainly because a) I pay them every month on my taxes and b) I am like the only person on Earth who was unaware of the coolness of the library.

PS: The title of this blog is totally from a late 90’s episode of the PBS show Arthur and I don’t even care how uncool that is.

BFN to BBQ

11 Apr

It’s been 2.5 weeks since I last blogged. I would love to say I had some sort of important thing keeping me from logging into WordPress, but the truth is I was just not feeling the blog vibe. I would apologize, but hey, it’s my blog and I think a 2.5 week break is fine. 🙂

I got a negative pregnancy test this morning. I felt a little off and had some pretty persistent “symptoms” that I couldn’t find record of in the last thirteen months of charting, so I let my hopes raise a little and peed on a stick. Surprisingly the negative took no wind from my sails. I felt good about the day and moved on post-pee cup like it was no big thing. This is major progress for me and illustrates both the purpose and effectiveness of taking a “break” before treatment. Score one for being too lazy to take my temperature every day!

The overall goal of taking a break from the hardcore rigorous form of trying to conceive was to get my mindset into a positive place before undergoing infertility treatment. I can honestly say that I am there. Randall and I have been working hard to save money for treatment and I am happy to say we have enough saved now to do one to two cycles of IUI with injectable medication without taking anything from our savings/e-fund money. The plan is to do treatment cycle one in June, likely beginning mid-month.We initially planned for a May cycle start date, but as I have heard/read online that injectable fertility medications make women into Hulk Smash! emotional bitches, I decided tackling both my raging hormones and my spring semester final exams just didn’t seem like the best plan. So, June it is.

This is an exciting and scary moment for us…we are standing at the crossroads of possible parenthood and our first potential big league TTC failure. My aunt and cousin (among way too many other family members) visited over Easter weekend and I explained the entire feeling of our infertility journey this way: I was once in CVS buying a pregnancy test, a bottle of wine and tampons. The cashier gave me the side eye and I told her that “I was just preparing for all possible outcomes.” This is my exact feeling about treatment at this point. It will work and we will have a child or it won’t and we will pick ourselves up and make a plan for the future.

Speaking of the future, Randall and I discussed the “what if” aspect while at dinner during date night tonight. Making a plan for this is #5 on the Ten Before Treatment and we have decided if this doesn’t work out for us we will be taking a BBQ road trip across Texas; this is a fitting plan as we had just finished growing food babies at Hard Eight BBQ. We share a mutual love for smoky, sweet sauces served with meat smoked to perfection (sounds a little dirty, eh?) and feel like this trip would be both kind to our post-treatment expenditures budget and a tasty good time. I have more than a few BBQ Meccas I have been dying to visit (Franklin, Snow’s, Luling City Market, Southside Market, Kruez Market) and Randall has some special stops he would like to add in (Shiner Brewery mostly…which side note – did you know you can only tour during the week?), I also wouldn’t mind making another attempt at seeing the Marfa Lights and would love to re-visit and camp a night at Big Bend.

Beer and brisket aside, the heart of the matter is that even though this is still a plan in its beginning stages it lets me know that no matter what comes our way this summer we will make it and be stronger for it.