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A Long Time Coming

3 Feb

I haven’t blogged since September 2012. It’s funny to me now that I stopped blogging after my Girl’s Trip to SPI. I remember when the idea for that trip was hatched. It was April of 2012. My girlfriends and I were at a home party smelling little pots of scented wax and buying things we didn’t need as ladies are wont to do at such gatherings. A friend mentioned her milestone birthday coming that September and the possibility of renting a beach house to get away in celebration. I remember the shared buzz of excitement about it and being on the cusp of beginning my first official round of fertility treatment, my optimistic resolve that I would be pregnant on the trip. I laugh at myself now but I remember making the “giant rounded belly” motion and all of my friends smiling and nodding happily, so sure that it would be true for me. As you know, it wasn’t true and I instead used the Girl’s Trip as a salve, fresh off of the disappointment of failed cycles and battered hopes.

What does this have to with blogging? I stopped blogging when things got real, when it got too tough for me to share my life here. Today, the Girl’s Trip seems like another lifetime. I’ve thought about coming back to blogging so often over the last 17 months but it just seemed so daunting to catch up, to explain. I’ve felt like writing out my experience would be too heavy and would make it impossible to have a second blog entry that didn’t feel ridiculous. Mostly, it just seems almost impossible to remember, much less put into words and do justice to everything I want to share. So, I’m not going to. Here’s the last 17 months in photo form:

Fall 2012:

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Winter 2012-2013:

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Spring 2013:

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Summer 2013:

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Fall 2013:

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Winter 2013-2014:

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So, there it is. Even though this was basically a cop-out, I feel lighter somehow. It’s nice just to get it out there. The good, the bad, and the absolutely heartbreaking. I’ll fill in the gaps over time but for now at least, I’m glad to be back.

Finding My Grace Friday

10 Aug

I typed this out but never actually published it on Friday, so it’s a pretend post from the past…enjoy!

1. What is something small that you take for granted each day? Sunglasses. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I recently went without sunglasses for a bit and I realized just how much I love and need them. I have lighter colored eyes and it is impossible for me to drive comfortably without them. So thank you, sunshades!

2. What is something you know you are so lucky to have that others don’t?Randall is extremely handy. This year alone he has laid tile, re-tiled our fireplace and will be beginning the process of laying wood floors tonight. We have a saved so much money just by using his skills and that is a true blessing.

3. What is something you know you need to be more grateful for and need to work on? I am going to write about it next week, but lately I have been hating on myself for gaining back some of the weight I lost when I did my “big” weight loss last year/early this year. I need to work on not only recognizing that some of the weight has come from things beyond my control (i.e. mass amounts of IF treatment hormones) but also being thankful for the fact that I am strong enough to get where I want to be weight wise and have the tools to make this happen…then I need to channel that and actually make it happen.

4. How did you do on being more grateful for your #3 item from last week? I have really worked on living in the now and being thankful for what I have. I think it is working because I have really noticed how much I love my house/car/life in the last couple of weeks. We are so very lucky to have what we do when so many don’t…there is no reason to seek the “next big thing” right now…things are good.

Have a good weekend. :)

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.

Ten Before Treatment

1 Feb

As the fog of being constantly caught up in my inability to conceive a child is lifting, I am starting to think about goals I would like to achieve during the break. We will either start treatment around 4/16 or 5/13, so the end date for these goals will be whichever of those dates we decide. I thought the good ol’ blog would be a good place to post ’em up for accountability:

1) Run a 5k. Spring is prime 5k time, so I would like to get back to the point of running a 5k distance comfortably and do a race. A PR would be fab, but the initial goal will just be to do one. I have a feeling my running fitness is near scratch again but should come back more quickly than if I was just starting out. I see Couch to 5k in my future.

2) Visit all of the wineries within 20 miles of my house. There are quite a few, so I would like to at least do a tasting at each. Viva Vino!

3) Get back into the coupon swing. For awhile using coupons was a real bummer because so many people were inspired by TLC’s Extreme Coupouning to get into it that shelves were always cleared. The novelty seems to have worn off for a lot of people so it makes using the “free money” from the newspaper more fun.

4) As the latter proposed treatment start date falls so nicely in alignment with the end of the Spring 2012 semester, it’s only right to make getting an overall 4.0 a goal.

5) Put together a plan for “what if.”  Unfortunately, the nature of our infertility leaves us only with the choice between IVF and adoption post-IUI cycles; both options in the $15k-$20k range. Due to this, Randall and I have decided that if we have three failed IUI cycles over the summer, we will not seek additional treatment in the foreseeable future. With each IUI cycle only holding a 25% success rate, the “what if” of not conceiving is a real possibility and I would like to have a plan for dealing with that in place. I want to make some vacation plans and set some long-term goals (half marathon anyone?) As crass as it sounds, this plan will be a consolation prize for us. A “thanks for trying!” parting gift, if you will.

6) Dine at least three of the top-rated “nice” restaurants in the Fort Worth area. I would like to enjoy medium-rare steaks, smoked salmon and unpastuerized cheeses to their fullest while not worrying that our restaurant tab is cutting into our diaper budget. There is no time like the present for this.

7) Finish two projects. I have one long term project I would love to round out (family recipe book) and a few I’d like to undertake but in the interest of time two projects in three/four months sounds manageable, especially given the next goal…

8) Finish our on-going flooring/remodel projects. This goal is more one for Randall than for me but I would love to have the new floors done before we start treatment as pregnant lady and fumes from flooring really are not compatable. The kitchen is done except for the sealing of the grout. We still have re-tiling both bathrooms, laying the wood flooring, re-tiling the fireplace and framing the mirrors to go. It looks like we will also have to repaint the living room and kitchen as the new trim is slightly shorter than our old trim, leaving a white border between the existing paint and new trim.

9) Work on both our front and back yards. I would love to shape up our front flower beds and would like to figure out some kind of asthetically pleasing paving stone extension for our backyard patio.

10) Enjoy life. This one is simple. I want to just enjoy the small things and use the next few months as a true relaxation period.

This is what happens when I am alone all weekend.

9 Jan

I was going to post about weight loss today but I started writing out the post and half way through was saying internally “shut up all ready!”, so I know that it needs some work before it becomes blog-worthy. Instead here is a random  list of things I like and dislike right now influenced by a weekend of doing nothing but eating random food and watching TV:

Like 1. Tyson Grilled and Ready Chicken Breasts – While not a fresh from the grill, juicy piece of chicken breast these are an excellent substitute when you need a quick meal. Tonight I cut one into strips and placed it on two corn tortillas with salsa and sour cream. Delicious. Although the instructions say to cook each frozen breast in the microwave for 2.5 minutes; my microwave is really like 4 minutes. Sadly, this resulted in an unappetizing bite of partially cold faux-grilled chicken. Since I couldn’t really put in back in the microwave all taco-ed up, I fed it to Titan instead. He hates tortillas though (it’s kind of strange?) so I only gave him the chicken, of which he was supremely appreciative.

Like 2. “Into the Wild” by LP – This is the song from the Citi commercial in which a woman talks about how she wanted to trade her thank you points in for a rock and is then shown climbing in a breathtakingly beautiful area of Utah. While the commercial screams 1%, in true ironic fashion the artist is so indie she doesn’t sell on iTunes, so you can’t purchase it…even with your Citi card.

Like3. Texas Multi Mama’s – I love me some reality TV, I also love me some multiples and some Texas. This show is the best of all of this. Last night I was watching some random show on WE TV and saw a person who looked really familiar while I was fast-forwarding through a commercial. I rewound and found out that there was a new show about moms in Texas with multiples and one of the girls on the show was a woman with quads whose blog I have read for 5 or so years. I set the DVR to record all episodes and was rewarded with a five episode block this morning. This show is good in that “oh hey, that’s the AAC!” kind of way.

Like 4. Del Monte Fruit Chillers in Cherry Punch Half Pipe – These things are like crack. They are freeze and eat tubes like the old school Pop-Ice we all used to love…just made with fruit juice instead. They aren’t necessarily diet wreckers at only 55 calories but they are kind of nutritionally bankrupt. Since they keep me from scarfing chocolate at 10:30, they are awesome. Speaking of chocolate…

Dislike 1. Fiber One 90 Calorie Brownies – In trying to quell the aforementioned chocolate cravings I thought these might be worth buying (I also had a coupon for them.) Unfortunately, they are barely edible. Think about one of those Little Debbie brownies with the nuts on top and then put it into a food dehydrator for like six hours, then replace the nuts with something called “chocolate flavored pieces” and you have these things. On the commercial they show these people that are having this bangin’ cheesy old person party in the supermarket complete with a disco ball. Obviously Fiber One knows it’s target audience well; old people who need more fiber and are losing their taste buds.

Dislike 2. Lifetime movies – I know this is like being a blasphemer to woman kind but I can’t help it. This dislike does not mean I don’t watch Lifetime movies, that’s not true at all. In fact, I watched the world premier of “High School Girl Moonlights as Hooker” last night. You have no idea which movie I am talking about right now and that is why I dislike Lifetime movies: there are TEN movies with the same premise! “Man Beats His Wife So She Kills Him” came on afterward but ten minutes in I was pretty sure I’d seen it before, so I didn’t watch.

Dislike 3. The fact that Jennifer Anniston never wore a bra the entire time they were shooting Friends – As mentioned previously TBS is in the sweet spot of the Friends series right now and I am watching a lot of it. Just be aware that if “Spot Jennifer Anniston’s Nipples!” was a legitimate drinking game I would probably be dead from alcohol poisioning right now.

Dislike 4. Not having a fourth thing to dislike for this list. Instead, please note that the Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Pita Bread Lean Cuisine is the bomb.

Obligatory First Post

27 Dec

Whether it’s a proposal for work, a giant research paper or the introductory post to a completely self-absorbed blog, I always find the first part of anything the hardest to write.

I am Leslie. I am 26 and married. I am also a full-time student, overweight and infertile. From the viewing perch of December 2011, 2012 seems like it will be a year of big things. The next 12 months will be spent losing 50 pounds, undergoing treatment for infertility and finishing my bachelors degree. The initial intent of this blog is to chronicle those 371 days.