If You’ve Got Something Fertile to Say…Please Keep it to Yourself!

I wanted to smack her right in the face. The flight attendant’s snippy, “I’m the mother of 6 children,” comment was enough to put me over the edge. Really? Yes, my child is screaming and doesn’t want to sit in her seat, but knowing that you are a fertile, super-mother with 6 loads of experience is not going to calm my 2 year-old or me for that matter. In fact, using your mother of 6 status is the last thing that any woman in the middle of several failed infertility treatments needs to hear. Why don’t you go take your own seat!

Sorry, to sound hostile, but time and time again the fertile mother either innocently, unknowingly, or even intentionally says something that stings. I do my best to dismiss the innocent and ignorant comments, but sometimes it just gets to be a little too much! So, I thought I would provide those of you blessed with super fertile powers a quick tutorial on what not to say to a woman without kids, someone with known infertility, or any woman you don’t know much about. This isn’t all inclusive…but it is fairly lengthy! For all those who do or have struggled with infertility, feel free to add your suggestions in the comments.

What Not To Say In An Infertile World:

1. When are you planning on starting a family? Hint…Hint? (Please, stop asking!)

2. You know the clock is ticking, right? You aren’t getting any younger. (My ovaries are none of your business)

3. Don’t you guys want kids? (Of course not. Don’t most women despise the idea of motherhood?)

4. Do you have any news (pregnancy implied)? (If I wanted to tell you I would have.)

5. How many kids are you planning on having? (Is that really any of your business?)

6. Do you only want one (said with disbelief)? (If I did what’s wrong with that? But, no, my heart is breaking trying to have another!)

7. It’s about time for another isn’t it? (Thanks for keeping track of our family planning.)

8. Your daughter needs a sibling! (No kidding!)

9. Having one is so much easier. (Not when you have to go through infertility treatments to have another)

10. You should be happy you only have one. (Why don’t you try it?)

11. I can’t believe I’m pregnant again. We weren’t even trying. (It must be amazing to be you!)

12. I wish I weren’t pregnant. (I will gladly take your baby)

13. Being pregnant stinks. (Being infertile sucks!)

14. So, you guys are more focused on your careers, right? (Having a career doesn’t mean you don’t want kids!)

15. As a mom of x number of children, let me tell you…(Please don’t.)

16. Life is so easy when you only have one. Just wait! (I am waiting.)

17. I would never want a test tube baby! Oh, your baby is so cute! (She’s a test tube baby.)

18. Be glad you aren’t pregnant right now! (Seriously?)

19. That’s so nice that you don’t have any kids yet. You can travel and do such fun stuff. Be glad you still have your freedom. (I’d prefer to lose my freedom!)

20. I have a great book on how to get pregnant. (I wrote it.)

21. Have you tried putting your legs over your head? (Yes, for 48 hours at a time.)

22. You need an ovulation kit! (My ovulation is just fine thanks.)

23. I have a list of fertility foods that will get you pregnant in no time. (I’ve tried eating from the Garden of Eden. Fertile foods are no match for incredibly low sperm counts. It’s going to take more than pineapple core.)Beautiful young woman making Yoga exercises on the beach

24. Have you tried essential oils? (I practically drink them. Thank you.)

25. You guys just need a weekend away. (Hmm…pretty sure three days in bed isn’t going to do the trick.)

26. You need to stop stressing. (Stop talking, please. You’re stressing me out!)

27. Why don’t you just adopt? (Why don’t you?)

28. Let me tell you what worked for us. ( I really don’t care.)

29. Can I give you a piece of advice? (As though I can say, “No” without sounding rude)

30. Maybe God has something different for you instead of motherhood. (How consoling!)

31. Dr. Oz says…(Why do I care what a cardio-thoracic surgeon has to say about my fertility?)

32. The power of positive thinking is amazing. Visualize yourself pregnant. (What do you think I’ve been doing for the past 5 years!)

33. I know how you feel. It took us a whole month to get pregnant! (Wow, that must have been hard!)

34. Are you taking your vitamins? Maybe going gluten free, caffeine free, dairy free, soy free, and deodorant free would do the trick. (Am I allowed to eat?)Girls Kissing Mom's Belly

35. Isn’t this like your zillionth time going through IVF? (Thanks for reminding me.)

36. Maybe you should focus on learning to be content with what you do have. Isn’t having one enough? (Isn’t that between me, my spouse, and God?)

37. Infertility treatments are so unnatural (Clearly!)

38. There are worse things in life than infertility. You could actually have a serious medical problem to deal with. (True. That helps me cope how?)

39. Infertility isn’t really a medical problem. Having kids isn’t medically necessary. (Umm, who gave you your honorary medical degree?)

40. That’s nice that you can afford IVF. I hear that’s only for rich people. (It’s called debt. The most cost ineffective way to make a baby.)

41. You are saving yourself a fortune by not having kids. (Actually, I’m spending a fortune trying to have one.)Six pregnant bellies at different stages of pregnancy.

42. If you had more kids you’d understand…(If you had infertility you’d understand).

43. I totally know what you’re going through. My friend had infertility. (How could you possibly know what I’m going through.)

44. You do know how to make a baby right? All it takes is some good old fashioned sex! Do we need to get you a room? (Hmm…baby making can be a little more complicated!)

45. EVERYTHING ELSE EVER SAID

For those of you who are offended by my comments above…I don’t apologize. I have uncomfortably experienced every single comment mentioned above. And, while my real life responses were always gracious, I decided it was time to let off a little steam. Please know that that I don’t hold grudges. So, if I just quoted you in the 45 comments above…know that it has already been forgiven and forgotten.

You don’t have to walk on egg shells around those of us with infertility. We are happy that other babies are being born in the world. We want other people to be blessed with little ones. But, sometimes (most of the time) we do need a little sensitivity. Just think twice before the fertile you makes an overly fertile comment:)

Disclaimer: This article is clearly one sided (from the infertile perspective). It isn’t meant to criticize those with numerous children who are amazing parents with their own set of challenges. Nor is it meant to minimize the challenges of an unexpected pregnancy. Please take it as what it is…a rant from someone in the middle of infertility treatments for an extended period of time.

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What to Expect when Trying to Expect…IVF update from our April Embryo Transfer…

I had been crossing everything before our embryo transfer…fingers, toes, eyes…just about everything except for my legs. These were the last of our frozen embryos. If just one of them stuck we could wave our infertility treatment days goodbye. Only three were remaining, and while the quality wasn’t perfect, they were still little forces to be reckoned with.

I started my progesterone shots (YIKES THOSE ARE BIG NEEDLES), lupron shots, my estrogen patch, my estrogen pills and my routine blood work and ultrasounds. This had just worked several months before. Well…sort of worked. A 5 week pregnancy ending in miscarriage still counts as some sort of progress. It could work again. I had been praying for a miracle. Statistical success rates, odds, likelihood, all inconsequential in the presence of a divine intervention.Happy Family On The Beach. Baby Girl Hugging Her Mother

My typical outlook for infertility treatments has always been cautious optimism. I prepare myself for the worst because it’s so much easier to deal with the disappointment when things don’t work out. Why I decided to change my perspective this last time I’m not sure. For some reason the idea of a changed coping mechanism sounded refreshing. It would work. It was going to work. In spite of the odds it was going to happen. I was going to get pregnant and carry that pregnancy until I had a full-term healthy baby. I was going to have a story of triumph in spite of the odds. This was a simple miracle for God. What reason would he have for denying my request?

The embryo transfer went perfectly. Of the three remaining embryos, two survived the defrosting process. And, of those two, one looked incredibly promising. The catheter slid into place easily and within moments two precious little lifeforms were floating around inside of my uterus. Now came the waiting game. I was hopeful. I was actually incredibly excited. I even felt pregnant. I was tired, moody, hungry and sure that it had worked. I wasn’t cramping, and I wasn’t spotting.

And…I also wasn’t pregnant. Two home pregnancy tests and then a blood draw B-hcg level of less than 1 confirmed that my miracle had not happened. Disappointment has been followed by a firm resolve that there is a reason for everything. I don’t understand it, but instead of letting grief swallow me up (for more than a few weeks), I’m looking forward with hope once again. Since all of our frozen embryos are gone we must start from scratch with a fresh IVF cycle. This journey is far from easy, painless, or inexpensive; but, my desire for another child trumps the obstacles and challenges before me. I refuse to let infertility define me; but I am allowing it to shape me into a stronger woman, full of faith, hope, and love. This may sound trite or contrived, but trust me, this refining process has been neither trite nor contrived.

The struggle with infertility can be all-consuming. It can be and is devastating. I’m not going to sugar coat a horrible diagnosis. However, I can’t let it ruin the beautiful things that I do have in life. Infertility wins if I let it have that hold on me. I refuse to let it win. I am stronger because of it. I am a better mother because of it. I have a deeper respect for other’s pain and suffering because of it. I am learning to let go of the things that are beyond my control because of it. I am trying to make beauty from ashes. Some days I succeed…and for now that’s all I can EXPECT while I’m waiting to EXPECT!

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Women’s Health…answers to some of your most personal questions!

Women’s health topics can sometimes be a little taboo…weight gain, periods, hot flashes, pelvic exams, and vaccines. Last month I was able to touch on all of these topics in an article that I wrote for Indy’s Child Magazine, Dayton Parent Magazine, and Cincinnati Parent Magazine. While each article includes insights from specialists local to that respective city, the main points remain the same. So, if you’re wondering how often you need a pap smear, if you are about to start menopause, if you really need a multivitamin, if vaccines matter, or if your inability to lose weight is normal…check out this link for some straight forward answers!

Indy’s Child May 2015 Top 5 Health Questions Women Wonder About

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When Pregnancy Swelling Becomes Something More…

 

After years of trying to get pregnant, our dream finally came true. God had finally answered our heart wrenching prayers for a baby. Getting pregnant had been the hard part-being pregnant was a breeze in comparison. That is, until everything went wrong.

Because we had conceived with the help of IVF, I was already a paranoid pregnant lady. Even though I followed all of the recommendations, I still feared a miscarriage, a physical deformity, or a genetic anomaly. I had thought of most potential complications, and every little ting or pain alarmed my fragile state of mind. Knowing too much as a physician didn’t help. I reminded myself that it was normal to be overly concerned considering all that we had been through. It wasn’t like getting pregnant was a walk in the park for us. All forces of nature had conspired against us for years. Now that we had finally gotten a positive pregnancy test, I was a little leery that it was too good to be true. But, as months passed and our baby continued to be a perfect patient, the hypochondriac in me started to lessen. I resolved that I was going to have a happy and healthy baby.Love and new life concept. A woman's hands forming a heart symbo

Around 26 weeks of pregnancy, I suffered the worst headache of my life. My husband and I had recently moved states, and I had just established care with a new OB/GYN. I didn’t want to be the annoying patient who called about every little complaint, but when loads of Tylenol and sleep just didn’t cut it, I began to worry. Knowing that headaches can be linked with pregnancy induced hypertension and preeclampsia, I quickly checked my blood pressure. It was normal, but the pain in my head was not. With tears streaming down my cheeks, I asked my husband to call the doctor.

The physician on call recommended that I come into the hospital for blood work, to monitor the baby, and to get me something stronger for the headache. I couldn’t have agreed more. Thankfully, my blood pressure and blood work were fine, the baby was active, and the Percocet took the edge off.

After that episode, pregnancy life returned to normal. My follow-up blood pressures were fine. I hadn’t had another headache, and my only real complaint was the swelling in my feet. By swelling, I mean absolutely NO shoes fit my feet. I questioned, joked, and complained about my elephant feet, but I just assumed that it was part of the beauty of getting pregnant.

Since we had just moved to a new state without any family nearby, I knew that I needed to establish a support system before the baby arrived. This gave me the bright idea to join a Mom’s group while still only 32 weeks pregnant-I like to think outside of the box sometimes! I loved my “Real Mom’s” group from the moment that I met them. They applauded my assertiveness in joining the group while pregnant and welcomed me wholeheartedly. They didn’t, however, welcome my swollen feet! Instead, they insisted that I prop them up and have someone take a look at them. I reassured them all that I had a doctor’s appointment later that day, and that I didn’t have preeclampsia. It was simply swelling from pregnancy. I had noticed just the night before, however, that my glasses seemed a little tighter on my face, and my rings were even tighter than usual. I voiced my concern to my husband but then brushed it off as paranoia.

Fetus 7 Month In The Womb. Visible Head And Arms

At my 32-week prenatal visit, my blood pressure checked out fine. The Ob/GYN examined my belly and listen to the baby’s heartbeat. After measuring my belly, she recommended that we get a quick ultrasound of the baby since I hadn’t grown much since the last visit.

I waddled off to ultrasound, my feet aching with each step. The ultrasound confirmed that my baby’s growth had decreased to the 10th percentile from the 40th. Something was making her very unhappy inside of me. When I returned to the exam room, my doctor asked for a urine sample (which being pregnant I was easily able to give.) She reexamined my feet and decided to confirm my “normal” blood pressure. On recheck, my pressure wasn’t just a little high; it was stroke worthy! My urine dip screamed protein. And, when my doctor asked if I had been seeing any floaters, I dumbly responded that I had been having a weird, spotty kind of dizziness for months, but it seemed to be positional. Duh! Floaters! Wow, sometimes being a physician really doesn’t prepare you to be a good patient.

Within minutes I was loaded into a wheel chair and whisked to the OB floor for overnight observation. I voiced my concern that my mom was coming from Michigan to pick me up and take me back for a wedding shower. My Ob politely but firmly replied, “Emma, you aren’t going anywhere. First we have to make sure that you and the baby are safe.” By the time I made it to the OB floor, my blood pressure was sky-high, my head was pounding, and I was starting to get very scared. The nurse poked and re-poked me to start the IVs for the blood pressure medications and the dreaded magnesium. In what seemed like minutes, I had developed sudden and severe onset preeclampsia.

I called my mom to let her know the change of events. Knowing nothing about preeclampsia, she asked, “Emma, is this serious?” That’s when I broke down sobbing. Yes, it was serious. I was getting sicker by the minute, and I knew that my baby needed to be delivered soon…TOO SOON.

For more about preeclampsia head to The Preeclampsia Foundation or March of Dimes. Both have their annual walks all across the country in May and June. Sign up to raise awareness and support women who have had pregnancy complications, and help prevent complications for others.

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Can a Pregnant Mom Trust Modern Medicine?

Pregnant Woman Belly. Pregnancy Concept

The beauty of medicine is that it can fix most things. No, it’s not perfect, but modern medicine saves countless lives. In addition to saving lives, it dramatically improves the quality of the lives we live. Without modern medicine, my 18 month-old daughter and I would not be here today. After sailing through 32 weeks of a healthy pregnancy, I developed sudden and severe onset preeclampsia. I’m a high achiever, so my body decided it needed to start setting records. My blood pressure soared to stroke high levels. The protein in my urine topped the charts at 12 grams (5 grams is considered severe preeclampsia), and I gained over thirty pounds of fluid, becoming the Michelin man overnight. A simple tap on my arm or leg would send my limbs flying into the air. My nervous system and reflexes were in overdrive. The pounding headache, spotty vision, and abdominal discomfort were icing on the cake.Pregnant woman sitting on sofa looking at her unborn baby's ultr

Overnight, I became one sick mamma to a 3 lb. 2 oz preemie. As soon as my daughter was cut from my belly, she required urgent resuscitation. A tiny tube was placed in her airway, and she was whisked away to the neonatal intensive care unit. It took me two days to even make it up to the NICU to see her. Even then, I was hooked up to IVs, countless medications and could only manage to hold her for a few minutes. Although the textbook answer to treating preeclampsia is to deliver the baby, for some women this doesn’t solve the problem immediately. My blood pressure continued to top the charts, my reflexes remained in hyperactive mode, my mind was very confused, and I was pretty sure I had, or was going to have a stroke. My concerned OB/GYN consulted a cardiologist to manage my unimproved condition. She was amazing. She listened, investigated, and made the necessary changes (mega doses of several blood pressure medications), which eventually helped normalize my blood pressure. But, even she didn’t have all of the answers. It wasn’t until three weeks after I delivered that I was able to cancel home nursing and stop my blood pressure medications.Close up of doctor writing on a medical chart with patient lying

Through this experience I started asking questions about why this was happening. What was the physiology behind this crazy multisystem condition affecting my nervous system, cardiovascular system, kidneys, liver, and reproductive system? What caused preeclampsia? What could I do to prevent it in the future? What was my chance of having it happen again? Why couldn’t we prevent it or at least treat it more effectively? I didn’t like any of the answers that I was hearing or reading. They were all just theories, nothing concrete. This condition, which landed me in the hospital for eight days, forced me to have an emergency c-section at thirty-two weeks, placed my tiny baby in the NICU for nine weeks, and which put me at risk for having high blood pressure and a stroke later in life was still not understood.Care For A Sick Child In The Pediatric Icu

One out of every twelve pregnant women will develop preeclampsia according to data from the Preeclampsia Foundation. One in twelve! I don’t like those odds. How is it possible for a condition that is so common and potentially life threatening to mom and baby to continue to mystify us? We have mapped the human genome. We have eradicated small pox. We can identify breast cancer at its earliest stages, ensuring early treatment and amazing survival rates. Why haven’t we identified the true cause of preeclampsia and developed earlier and more efficient and effective screening tests for this condition? If prevention and earlier identification are not yet possible, then why haven’t we developed more effective treatments that will allow for a continued healthy pregnancy?

I have a fifty percent chance of developing preeclampsia again and at an earlier gestation in future pregnancies. I’m not a fan of my chances. I did everything right during my pregnancy. For goodness sake, I was the crazy lady who gave up all caffeine even though it probably wasn’t necessary. I didn’t drink a single soda, and I verified that every item entering my mouth was pasteurized. I was a paranoid pregnant mama! And, although following all of the recommendations probably prevented me from having other complications, it didn’t protect me from preeclampsia.

In a world where I count on modern medicine to fix most things, I have decided that modern medicine has failed to meet my expectations. Yes, it definitely saved my life and my daughter’s, but not all women are as fortunate as I was. Globally, preeclampsia is listed as one of the leading causes of mother and infant morbidity and mortality (illness and death). Worldwide, the United Nations reports that more than 500,000 women die each year due to pregnancy related causes. In the United States alone, preeclampsia causes 18% of maternal deaths. In short, preeclampsia is a killer.

As with any horrific and life threatening disease, the way to beat it is to study it. Research and clinical studies require interest, money, mental power (the scientists), and patients willing to participate. In most cases, it takes years before the results of clinical trials can be used in every day medicine. With only a short window left for my childbearing years, I’m hoping that new preventions and treatments will be available quickly. In the meantime, I’m doing my best to raise awareness and money, educate other women, and save the lives of women and their future babies (myself included). Join me by putting on your tennis shoes for the Promise Walk for Preeclampsia in your area. Or, take a look at the Preeclampsia Foundation or the March of Dimes for other ways to get involved. Push modern medicine to meet our expectations as women, mothers, and future mothers.

Both March Of Dimes and the Preeclampsia Foundation have their annual walks in May! Head to either of their websites to sign up and get involved.

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