Archive for February 4th, 2009

So you all know I’ve been doing these interviews for Ye Olde Fertility Clinic. It’s awfully nervewracking, because it’s SO not me. I put on this big act of being all open and extroverted about this stuff, but truthfully? I never talk about this stuff, ever. Well, that’s not true. I do talk about it – but I don’t talk about it publicly while I’m in the middle of a cycle. I go through a treatment cycle under a shroud of secrecy whenever possible.

And yet, three times now, I have sat in front of a television camera with a reporter in front of me and declared to the greater metropolitan area that I am pursuing fertility treatment right now. And why? Well, because Ye Olde Fertility Clinic asked me to, that’s why. And because putting a face and a voice to infertility is important. It’s all together too easy for society to pretend like infertility is “someone else’s problem” and that it’s one of those things we don’t need to talk about. Or worse, one of those things we should be ashamed to talk about.

In some ways, I’m not the poster child for fertility treatment. I was the aberration – the nightmare outcome – the now-mother to HOMs. But I’m also the survival story, and the mother who came back for more, despite knowing the pain, suffering, and inconvenience of it all. And the mother seeking to do this in a the way most likely to result in the best outcome – a healthy singleton pregnancy – by doing elective Single Embryo Transfers.

Infertility and its treatment is a multi-billion dollar industry, that’s for sure – but when it comes down to it, the industry is in the business of making life. Babies. Building families. Sure, there’s a payout in the end, but they earn it. I’ve been to the other side of infertility and I know it’s worth every bit of the toll the process takes and every penny I (and my insurance company) spent. And I also know that there is no way that I can ever repay the kindness that Ye Olde Fertility Clinic has offered me in helping me to build my family. So when YOFC asked me to do these interviews, of course my answer was yes. (With the condition that the mobile gets hung in Room 1 ASAP – oh you thought I’d forgotten about that, didn’t you? No sirree! I have the memory of… um, whatever it is that has a really good memory – I forget)

I know that I’m a giant pain in the ass. I know that I give my doctors a lot of crap. Do you think I don’t know that they probably could live without hearing about the damn missing mobile in Room 1? Do you think I don’t know that they have far more important things on their plates than dealing with me? Of course I know that. But hey, at least I bring them cookies! (Did I mention I brought cookies today?) The fact that they put up with me despite my… ah… we’ll call them idiosyncracies (what can I say? It’s all part of my charm!)… is what makes me love them so much. There is a reason that I refer people to them time and again (aside from their stellar statistics, their cutting edge medicine, and their convenient locations – that’s all secondary to the fact that they are, simply, good people).

But absolutely none of that is why I’m telling you that I have complete faith that my clinic is way cooler than yours. Do you know why I’m telling you that my clinic is so cool? I’ll tell you why!
Because today I went and interviewed with News Station #3, which meant I had the pleasure of meeting once again with J, Marketing Supervisor Extraordinaire*, which is always great. As I said, I brought cookies. Anywhozit, I got to meet with him and meet a lot more of the behind-the-scenes crew at Ye Olde Fertility Clinic, which is always all kinds of fun. I got to see my nurse (and she got a little more camera time, also, which is always fun for her!). The story isn’t airing until March, but I’ll let you peeps know when it airs. I know, I know, my adoring fans *need* to know, right? Of course right.

Afterward, I came home, a little sad knowing that this was my last interview – not because I’m so keen on putting myself all out there and all (honestly, it really IS tiresome to talk quite so publicly about this rather private subject all the time), but because I realized that I pretty much have no excuse to see J (Marketing Supervisor Extraordinaire) anymore or send him random eccentric emails (well, that’s not quite true… that mobile hasn’t been hung yet. He can’t get rid of me until it’s hung!! bwah hah hah!)

And what should appear at my front door a few hours later?

A beautiful Edible Arrangement from J and the Marketing Team at YOFC:

Now, be honest, have any of you ever received such a cool present from your clinic? I can’t hear you! That’s right. I didn’t think so. So just think about that the next time you’re thinking about where to go for treatment, why don’t you. 🙂

*Note the name change – I previously referred to him as “marketing guy” but (God help me) for some reason I was crazy enough to let him know my blog URL and apparently he actually read it (ohmygosh) and felt a little slighted. Seriously, I mean, if my nurse gets to be “NurseAwesome” and my doctor gets to be SuperDoc and my sonographer gets to be M, Sonographer Extraordinaire… but he’s “marketing guy”… well, he had a point when he pointed out that it sounded kinda cold and creepy. Which he is not. He’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. He suggested TalentAgent, but unless he’s going to get me a suh-weet deal with one of the stations where I get to market myself as a “childcare expert” on account of my large(ish) family, I’m not *quite* convinced that he can market himself as a Talent Agent just yet. Though, he did manage to get me my first three television appearances. Oh wait, that’s not true, in high school, I appeared on tv bunches of times… Hrm. I think I need an agent…

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How do you feel NORMAL?

It was an important question. An innocent question, actually. Posed by a friend of mine over Shabbos dinner last week. It was my fault, really. I had told him that in any given IVF cycle, a woman could be on 10-12 (or more) different medications.

Just as an example, here’s what I took/take:
Baby Aspirin
Birth Control Pills
HCG Injection
Prenatal Vitamin
Progesterone in Oil Injections

Now, I didn’t list out my medications for him, but just at the sound of 10-12 (or more) medications, he was shocked. Visibly shaken. How do you feel NORMAL?

He immediately tried to retract the question, sensing, perhaps, that he may have stepped over a line into territory that was too sensitive. But, honestly? It was an honest question. It was an important question. And it deserved an honest answer.

The truth is, you don’t feel normal. Nothing about this process is normal. And nothing subsequent to this process is normal. A friend of mine who has four children, including a set of 3 year old IVF twin girls is still so completely traumatized by her IVF experience that she can barely remember any of it – she has so completely blocked it out of her mind. She herself is a physician, and so had a deep understanding of the clinical aspects of the process, and yet she has retained nothing of her one IVF cycle because being forced through this emotionally draining experience was too much for her to process. And, in fact, it was the sheer number of medications that pushed her over the edge of sanity with the whole experience. To her, it was taking someone who was, on the surface, a completely healthy human being (save slightly elevated cholesterol in her case), who took no medications in her life and suddenly handing them this enormous box of medication that would become their life for the next month. That aspect alone was so life-changing for her that it seems that she will never be the same, and possibly will never be over the bitterness of the experience.

I, for one, am fascinated by this, as I’ve always been a person who has to take a handful of pills before I go to bed at night, so the boxes full of medication don’t bother me a bit. That being said, there’s nothing normal about giving yourself injections three times a day. There’s nothing normal about any of this, of course. There’s nothing normal about going in for ultrasounds every three days, or every other day, or in some cases (like mine) every day by the end. There’s nothing normal about all the bruises we end up with all over our bodies. On our arms from the blood draws. In our hands from the IVs from the egg retrieval anesthesia. In our stomachs from the subcutaneous injections. In our buttocks from the PIO injections. There’s nothing normal about any of this, is there? How could we possibly feel normal?

Nevermind any of that, he said, if you’re taking all of those medications, sooner or later the side effects have to add up! That’s for darned sure. The debilitating headaches. The hotflashes. The exhaustion. The snippiness. The crankiness. The nausea. The headaches. The weight gain. The weight loss. The headaches. The weepiness. The mood swings. The headaches (have I mentioned how much I hate lupron?). You’re right, my friend, we don’t feel normal. We feel like shit.

And yet, we are expected to lead our normal lives. We are expected to lead our normal lives without letting on to the world that there is anything at all out of the ordinary going on in this very private aspect of our lives. We are expected to sit quietly hoping and praying for a miracle. We go to work each day. We come home each night. We shower, we get dressed, we socialize (if we can). If we already have children, we still have to tend to them, run their carpools, help them with their homework, take care of their appointments, get them to soccer. We are expected to sit at baby showers and smile as if they don’t bother us. We are expected to ooh and aaah at other people’s pregnancy bumps. We are expected to be normal, functioning members of society with all of these hormones injected into us – side effects and all.

Yet, we cannot lead our normal lives. This week alone, I’ve had to cancel three meetings and two lunch dates. Last week I had to keep three people on call for Shabbos to have things arranged so that I had adequate child care and halachically appropriate arrangements for me to go to the clinic should I have to go for retrieval on Shabbos (I did have to go on Shabbos). Things change at the drop of a hat. I had only 48 hours notice to make my arrangements for retrieval on shabbos – a complex set of arrangements to make – and that included moving my entire work schedule around on Friday so that I could go into the office in order to sign all my consent forms ahead of time, since I wouldn’t be able to sign anything on Saturday. This week, I was supposed to have Transfer on Thursday. Then Tuesday. Then Thursday. But maybe Friday. Who knows!

We can’t schedule vacations. Heck, I can’t even schedule lunch with my friend L who wants to take me out for my birthday which was last week.

So, no, my friend, we don’t, and can’t, feel normal. But I thank you for your very honest, and very important, question.

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