Tag Archives: 2012

Extreme Nerding: Academic Conference Edition

5 Mar

Long before we were trying to conceive and even longer before we knew we were having trouble, I had a curiosity about infertility. The science and the social construct have always fascinated me. Recently, one of the bloggers I have been following since her days of struggling with trying to conceive posted about her son’s sixth birthday, so it’s been awhile. As I have become more involved in historical research this inital curiosity has really blossomed into an area of academic interest.

Last semester I took a course on Disability History. The only major grade in the class was a research paper with the broad topic suggestion of “write about disability.” The professor elaborated by telling us that “anything was fair game as long as she approved.” I thought about my topic for awhile and began some basic research on a few things. I considered writing about autism and the vaccination debate or obesity and the emergence of a new class of weight-induced disabilities but decided that for this paper, I really wanted to follow my heart and my interests and write about infertility. Initally I intended to chronicle the history of infertility and the treatment of the involuntarily childless but as I discussed the paper topic with my professor the idea evolved and I decided to write an argument paper defending the position that infertility should be considered a disability.

The writing process was long and sometimes emotional. I learned so much and found so many more facets of interest that I had expected. I wanted to put everything into this paper and really make it special. Unfortunately, with a 30 page limit, this was not going to be possible and I had to spend a lot of time editing but I was very proud of the end product. I received a near perfect grade and gained a grad school mentor in my professor. This was mid-December.

Fast forward to a Sunday in February. I received an email from my mentor professor asking me to submit my research to an academic conference that she thought would offer a good audience for my work. The deadline for submissions was 5pm the following day, she apologized for the late notice, but the opportunity was a great one and she thougth I should apply. I freaked out a little when I saw that the conference required a 250 word abstract explaining my research. 250 words to tell them about the research I spent four months completing. 250 words to let them know I deserved to be there. 250 words in an abstract…something I had never written. I wrote like a mad woman well into the early morning, editing, making Randall read, trying to convey everything in a little package.

I met with my mentor the next morning. We edited some more, I made changes and I sent it off into the abyss of the online submission site with fingers crossed and low hopes for something put together from 8pm-midnight the night before the deadline on a topic I was sure was of no interest to anyone but me. I spent the next five weeks convincing myself it was a bad idea and preparing myself to get the “we regret to inform you…” form letter. The March 1st notificiation deadline came and went with no word. I was bummed.

On Friday I was standing in a wine shop in Grapevine when my phone alterted me to new school mail. Assuming it was my form letter, I figured a place with tons of wine was as good a place as any to get bad news, so I opened the message. The first line read “the field of applicants was very tough this year and we are...” then nothing. Stupid iPhone delaying the inevitable. I hit “download more” and waited. The rest of the message loaded. “…pleased to let you know that you have been accepted to the conference.” I nearly dropped my phone.

I am proud to announce that I will be presenting my research for the first (an definitely not last) time in my academic career. Later this month I will speak for 12 minutes about my work and respond to questions from the judges and audience for 5 minutes. I am dorkily over the moon and can not wait. In case you are interested, here is the late night abstract in it’s 250 word glory:

Reproductively Disabled: An Examination of Infertility as a Disability, 1990-2008

The ability to easily conceive a biological child is commonly considered an entitlement in the United States but for the ten to fifteen percent of all US citizens of reproductive age diagnosed with infertility this privilege cannot be assumed. Though infertility affects more Americans than breast and colorectal cancers combined, it lacks societal acknowledgement and little support is available for those diagnosed. While the inability to conceive a child has not historically fallen within the societal scope of what is considered a disability, infertility should be considered as such because it renders a person incapable of reproduction, notably classified as a major life function under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA.) This paper therefore explores social perceptions of the involuntarily childless, including morality debates of the use of Assisted Reproductive Technologies such as in-vitro fertilization and embryonic genetic screening; court cases and legislation that have inadvertently begun to define infertility and disability; and the ways in which the exclusion of infertility coverage from group health insurance can result in financial hardship for those diagnosed with infertility and the creation of unnecessary disability for both the mother and her offspring. Viewing infertility as a disability connects to historical scholars’ ongoing efforts to expand the definition of disability while highlighting the social construction of both gender and disability and creating an avenue of societal recognition and change for those diagnosed with infertility.

Where the Light Is

20 Feb

Some things before I update the Ten Before Treatment:

1. Facebook’s new Timeline feature is an absolute beast to update. Since it assumes dates from the time you post things on FB, my wedding date was off by eleven days. I wanted to fix that add the day we got engaged, it literally took an hour. What a freaking beating.

2. The Coldplay station on Spotify is the most chill and awesome station ever. Coldplay, Keane, The Fray, The Killers, John Mayer. Good stuff. Unless you hate slightly whiny male singers, then don’t listen to this station, it might make you break something.

3. I do some of my best thinking while washing my hair. I realized today I stopped losing weight around September of 2011. We had been trying to conceive for 6-7 months and that’s about when the novelty wore off and the bitter set in. I have watched myself make peanut butter cookies, snickerdoodles, pecan cookies, cake and other goodies “for Randall” in the last few months. My baking ability does not mesh well with my inability not to eat my depression about being a barren bitch. More on this another day.

Ten Before Treatment Update:

1) Run a 5k. – I registered for a 5k I really loved last year a few days ago. Since it’s in September, it doesn’t really count though. I am considering the Firefly Run or maybe bringing it full circle and running the first race I ever ran, the Mayfest 5k. If I wasn’t A. a chickenshit and B. scared of being too chunky too run fast enough to not “die” I would totally be down for this one:  Zombies!!

2) Visit all of the wineries within 20 miles of my house. – Yeah, I’ve just been drinking all the wine in a 20 miles radius of my house. I should probably get more organized about my wine-soaked weekends.

3) Get back into the coupon swing. – As of last Sunday, Randall has enough deodorant to fend off smells for the rest of the year. For this we are thankful to the Coupon Gods.

4) Spring 2012 semester 4.0 a goal – I have been kicking ass and taking names this semester. VERY happy about this.

5) Put together a plan for “what if.”  – Three plans exist currently: 1. Train for/run half marathon, 2. Go on 2013 cruise, 3. Visit the Willamette Valley of Oregon with Randall. These things deserve their own post, so that’s all I’ll say for now.

6) Dine at least three of the top-rated “nice” restaurants in the Fort Worth area. – One down, Eddie V’s was awesome. I have decided I am going to go on a lobster bisque bender if treatment doesn’t work out. That stuff is like crack.

7) Finish two projects. – I don’t know that this necessarily counts as a project but I did finally, a year and a half after getting married, print/put wedding photos in the nice silver frame we bought before we got married. Procrastination for the win.

8) Finish our on-going flooring/remodel projects. – Randall finished our kitchen floor! Excuse the quality of these photos, I literally took them on my iPhone and uploaded them like a minute ago.

Our linoleum used to look like this:

Now our ceramic looks like this:

9) Work on both our front and back yards. – Not yet, a spring time goal.

10) Enjoy life – I have really been embracing this one as much as possible. I fall into bed on Sunday nights drained because I am going all weekend with Randall, friends, things to do. It’s a nice but tiring feeling. I’m not the only one feeling it in the house:

Lately any pillow that makes it to the floor around here is Titan Territory. 🙂

So, that’s the current TBT status. I’ll try to make an update every few weeks to the list. It helps to keep me accountable.

In closing, the soundtrack to this post morphed from Coldplay’s channel to John Mayer’s Where the Light Is live album around number two in the update. If you are a fan and haven’t given it a listen, run, don’ t walk to iTunes…it’s really his best work ever.

We Were on a Break!

31 Jan

The Friends love continues. Today Ross and Rachel decided to “take a break” which made for an absolutely perfect lead in to this post.

Randall and I have decided to take a break. After last week’s realization of just how unhappy I’ve become, he came home from a week-long business trip, we talked, I cried and we agreed a break from the rigors of TTC was exactly what I needed. We will to do a treatment cycle in April or May…if we are ready, if not we’ll wait.

I plan to spend the next few months recapturing Leslie. I have become “Leslie who is unable to conceive a child” and that is a person I never wanted to become. I plan to run (the horrors!), drink tons of wine and do whatever strikes my fancy. The thermometer, OPKs and charts have been thrown out the window and I will be enjoying the perks of being “newish-ly” married and childfree with my husband no matter what cycle day it is. I am considering this a reboot. I want to go into infertility treatment with the best possible attitude and the most positive outlook I can muster. I need to be at my strongest level mentally, prepared to deal with the “what ifs” and all possibilities, be they positive or terrible.

This weekend was the first of the reboot. I can honestly say I drank more wine in three days than I have in the last 365. While laughing with my best friend I felt more like myself than I have in months. I realized that while I was close to giving up, I’m not a quitter and could not let infertility beat me. I will beat it.

While the break is a lot about getting my mind right, I also want to take this time to get my body right. First reboot run is tomorrow morning, I am attempting to shake my schedule up completely with an early morning run and a quickie evening workout. Eating right also comes back in full force tomorrow. I gotta get the extra calories for all this wine somewhere.

Since I promised them to you and I know you have been waiting on pins and needles, I will leave you with this fun history fact: The Mayan long calendar officially ends on 12.21.2012. This has caused a huge uproar for those using it to predict the end of the world. Unfortunately for Nat Geo’s “Doomsday Preppers” the Maya stopped using this calendar hundreds of years ago and their short calendar continues on into the foreseeable future. Keep this in mind before deciding to run up your credit cards since “the world is ending anyway.” If you decide to do it anyway, you can’t say didn’t warn you.