Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Break

I love writing.  I especially love writing about the emotional and wild ride of infertility, and it's the sole reason I chose it for my dissertation topic.

It's a good thing I chose it, because dissertation is in my head nearly all day every day (and probably when I sleep).  Long gone are the days when I lazily get up for my first morning cup o' joe.  Now I abruptly sit up, wipe the glaze from my eyes and shake the haze from my dream-filled head, get my son off to preschool, and think about next dissertation steps.

And think.

And think.

And write notes.

And think.

And research more articles.

And think.

I'll never get bored of writing and learning about infertility, so writing 100+ pages on the topic is actually kind of a good time.

BUT...

It's inherently time-consuming.  Bleh.  You've probably noticed how sparse my posts have been of late, and I'm stoked to say it's because my life is full.  I get to help people all day long in my career, I come home to my family (bipeds and quadrupeds alike), I cook, I laugh, I do dissertation work.  Sometimes I clean.

Sometimes.

Barely.

A touch of OCD in that area would be nice, actually.

At any rate, I'm sad to say that I'll be taking a break from blog-posting for a while.  I will still be around reading and learning about other bloggers' lives and challenges, but I will be unable to comment much and will be totally unable to post updates of my own.

I'm heartily crossing my fingers that I will have finally completed my doctoral journey come December, so I expect to begin posting again in the New Year.

I'm also planning on organizing the junk drawer and vacuuming dust bunnies under the bed. Secondary to blogging, obviously.

Until then, may you be well.  May you be at peace.  And may you navigate these infertility, adoption, and childfree waters with grace (forgiving yourself when you don't).

~Maria

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

ICLW and Daydreams

Welcome ICLWers!  You can find my welcome on the tab at the top.  Short story: I'm a therapist who dealt with infertility for a long time before I said enough to ART and decided to adopt.  Been through the ringer just like you, and I get it.  Welcome!

Shameless promotion:  If you're interested in participating in infertility research (and entering to win one of six $15 Amazon gift cards), please click on the link to the right or the tab at the top to complete my PhD research survey.  Thank you!

Update 6/23: The survey is now closed.  Thanks to all who participated!

______________________________________________________

Last post I wrote about the dreaded Mother's Day fiasco...er....fiesta that most IFers scramble to avoid to whatever degree they can manage.  Understatement: It's a difficult day.  

That said, there are so many fabulous things that one can do on that day (or leading up to it) to help squelch the emotional intensity, and I posted an email that I received from a local infertility/adoption counseling center on just that topic. 

I mentioned that I wasn't sure about #4, which says something about attending a baby care class.  My first response: "WHAT?!"  My next response, "Hmmm..."  

I have a theory.  It starts with a RESOLVE support group I used to attend years ago wherein the facilitator suggested bringing a pregnant woman to the group; someone who had dealt with infertility and was now pregnant.  Her idea was that she wanted attenders to get in that space where this could actually be them.  "Imagine what it would feel like, if this were you," she said.  

I, like most everybody else, resisted the idea right away.  But, we remained open-minded.  Kinda.  

Fast forward many years later, and I'm reading the suggestion of attending a baby care class with thoughtfulness.  How could that possibly help?  Obviously, being around others who have babies or whose babies are imminent (through pregnancy or adoption) does not seem like the infertile's cup of tea.  

Then it struck me -- and this is where I realized I'm seriously owning my hippy self -- It's the Law of Attraction.  It's manifesting.  Most people have heard of The Secret by now; It's one of the most popular books written on the subject.  In very basic terms, universal law says that we attract what we put out.  So, for example, if we put out to the universe, "I am a mom," the universe says, "Okay, let's make that happen."  

So, theoretically, attending a baby care class tells the universe, "I am an expectant mom.  I need to take this class, because my baby will be here soon."  And then the universe moves mountains to make that happen. Does that make sense?  

Okay, so here's where my therapist hat comes on:  Is it really great for one's psyche to get all into the art of manifesting parenthood only to be hurt and disappointed when reality hits?  The answer as usual: It depends.  It depends on who you are, how you view your world, where your thoughts are, how you respond to your thoughts, etc.  There are a million different variables.

If, however, you feel like this might be something you're interested in, check out Flowdreaming.   Flowdreaming is a tool for manifesting that allows you to essentially daydream about what life will be like once you have the thing that you want.  There's even an app (I have no idea what I ever did without my iPhone).  Good stuff.

Going to a baby care class personally seems a bit too intense for one struggling to be a parent.  Sitting in a room with a pregnant woman: Intense.  Dreaming about parenthood?  Hmmm...

I'd love to hear your thoughts about this.  Would you go to a baby care class?  Would you practice flowdreaming or essentially daydream about what life would be like as a parent?  How do you think these things would affect you?

Until next time...

Be well,
~M

Friday, May 10, 2013

More Mother's Day Coping

I received this lovely email the other day from the Infertility and Adoption Counseling Center and knew I had to pass it on.

I'm not sure how I feel about #4, but I understand how it can be helpful for people.  Warning: The Stuck documentary is extremely emotional (even the trailer); be prepared, if you watch it.

I hope you find some of these things helpful for Sunday.



Feeling chicken about Mother's Day? You are not alone.
Mother's Day is difficult if you are struggling with infertility or had a miscarriage or pregnancy loss... are waiting to adopt... placed a child for adoption...are an adopted person thinking about your birth mother.
And unrelated to family building and adoption, Mother's Day may also bring up feelings about difficulties in your relationship with your mother or your child or about having lost your mother or your child.
10 Tips for Coping with Mother's Day 
  1. Avoid restaurants as many give out roses assuming ALL women can handle Mother's Day.
  2. Avoid family gatherings if seeing siblings' pregnancies or children trigger feelings that are too painful.  Keep in mind you won't be missing Mother's Day every year, so it really is OK not to go if it is too much for you this year.  
  3. Social survival tips if you must go to family gatherings - Keep the 'celebration' brief; have a code word with your partner or a friend that you need help changing the topic or to take the proverbial walk around the block.  
  4. If you are dealing with infertility or waiting for a baby through adoption, focus on the fact that you will become a parent if you stick with the process and get the support you need.  Sign up for a baby care class. These classes are uplifting!  IAC Center offers 3 different kinds of baby care classes and private classes are offered as well.
    1. Baby, Toddler and Child Care for Parents through International Adoption - June 2nd in Pennington, NJ
    2. Baby Care for Adoptive Parents of Newborns - August 9th in Montclair NJ
    3. NEW Baby Care for Intended Parents through Gestational SurrogacyMay 18th and September 21st in Montclair NJ
  5. Help children that do not have mothers - This spring there are 2 amazing events posted on the IAC Center Calendar under FYI: Special Events
    1. Attend a benefit at the beach:  The Alliance For Children Foundation is honored to present nationally acclaimed Singer-Songwriter Lori McKenna to benefit homeless Haitian Children at the historic Dreamland Ballroom in Oak Bluffs, MA this July 27 
    2. THIS WEEK you can see the award-winning documentary film STUCK and participate in the movement fostered by  Both Ends Burning, a non-profit dedicated to international adoption reform.  The film tells the stories of four orphans from Haiti, Vietnam and Ethiopia and their heartbreaking struggles to come home to their families. To learn more about how you can help, to view the trailer, purchase theater tickets, or download the film for personal viewing, visit www.stuckdocumentary.com.
      The film is being shown for one day in each of these locations: 
      1. New York City, Thursday May 9, 2013 at the Clearview Chelsea Cinema
      2. Princeton on Saturday May 11,2013 at The Montgomery Theatre 
      3. Cherry Hill, NJ on Mother's Day, May 12th, 2013 at 7 p.m. at AMC Cherry Hill Theater
  6. Take care of your self.  Tend to your own needs and feelings both physically and mentally. Exercise, get enough sleep, eat healthy, relax or make the time to do something you enjoy. Stress begets stress if we don't take care of ourselves.
  7. Have a support system of people that 'get' you and with whom you can be real. This may be friends, family or a support group of like-minded people. See:IAC Center Support groups  Even a small dose of validation can be extremely uplifting. 
  8. You may prefer private counseling to sort out your feelings, improve relationships or choices you are really comfortable with. Sometimes just a few sessions are necessary.
  9. Master Flow time: We all need some activity in which we can literally lose ourselves, stop thinking about our concerns, and just have a good time. I love cycling along the Delaware River, baking, reading or just about anything outdoors when the weather is good. Taking time away from what bothers you can work really well to refresh your perspective.
  10. Tap into your creativity: Writing, art, music, dance, creative movement, drumming, etc. are all ways to access your deeper feelings and ideas. Taking time out for the creative arts may even help you to find solutions to problems and to connect with what is really important to you. Look for our next newsletter in which I will talk all about a brand new IAC Center Program calledThe Creative Circle that I would love to start this summer. My vision is we gather together at the Center - indoors or outdoors depending on weather - and people pursue the creative art of their choice. Sharing the work would be optional as some people would enjoy it and others would prefer to keep their explorations private. Both choices are fine, whatever works for you.  In addition we would bring in specialists to stimulate and teach the participants - memoirist, a yoga teacher, etc. If you are interested please email me directly as I am beginning to assess interest, format, etc.  

Signing off thinking about chickens, my wonderful long-awaited daughter raising hens and a rooster, and that if you are coming to the Center in Pennington and want some fresh as in laid-that-day eggs, let me know that too. We have lots!!
Wishing you all a Happy Mother's Day!



Friday, May 3, 2013

It's Around the Corner...

I was reading through some old posts about that fabulous (eh-hem) holiday that most people in the infertility community have some trouble with:  Mother's Day.

Oh yes...it's back.

Some women struggle, because it is a reminder that they are not yet mothers.  Some women struggle, because they already are mothers and believe they should feel grateful for what they have; the guilt can overshadow the joy.

Partners struggle, because they don't want to see their wives/girlfriends/loves-of-their-life hurting anymore.

I was going to write a whole new post about how to cope with this one day a year, but last year's post is still totally appropriate:  The Holiday You've Been Waiting For (and waiting, and waiting, and waiting)

In short: Be kind to yourself. You deserve it.


Until next time...be well,
~M

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Join the Movement: An Ah-Ha Moment

I remember well the day it happened.

I was sitting on the back patio holding a stick.  His favorite stick.  The lavender was newly blooming, the fragrance enveloping me, and the bees flicked around the purple stalks making a loud buzzing sound impossible to ignore.  I smiled up at the sun knowing that this was a great moment.

I intended to carve his name in that stick and toss it in his favorite lake where he use to dive in and swim after it no matter how far it was thrown.  I always joked that he would swim until he died. 

Bailey was my beautiful, wild yellow lab.  A strong swimmer, an eater of random non-edibles like plastic bottles or underwear that missed the hamper, and a source of daily laughter (or certain expletives when his ever-wagging tail would connect with a shin) .  He was always at the ready when we'd walk in the front door, like he had heard our car a mile away.

Except, of course, the time he ate a whole tray of freshly-baked brownies.  He hid upstairs that day.

Bailey had died the previous winter.  My handsome, funny, crazy, yellow lab was just ten days short of 8 years old.  And I missed him the instant he was gone.

I didn't know of the lesson he would teach several months later as I sat among the lavender.  It's propelled and motivated me in a way in which words fall short of describing.

Briefly: I was finally happy.

That moment was six and a half years post infertility diagnosis with tens of thousands of dollars spent on fertility treatments, raging hormones, a seemingly endless emotional roller coaster, intrusions on my body and mind, and no baby to show for it.

But, as I sat there, "it" happened.  The realization that I was happy.  My ah-ha moment.

"How could this be?" I thought.  I should be sad, discouraged, angry, and, and, and....

Yet, I wasn't.

Why?

Somehow in the mess of infertility and losing Bailey, I realized I had everything I could ever want or need right then.  In that moment.  Happiness is now.  And the more that I want something that I don't presently have, the more unhappy I feel.

Sure, wanting something more...dreaming of something more...craving something more (like parenthood) is normal.  But, I was obsessing, perseverating, and becoming consumed with the ache of not having that thing.  That's where I lost myself.  And my happiness.

When I really thought about what was happening, I was able to trace that shift to sometime the previous November when I really began looking forward to the holidays.  I was always happy about the holidays, but this was more than just reaching my pre-infertility level of happiness.  I was so much more grateful for everything I had.  Even though I didn't have a baby, I had a fabulous husband, awesome animals, a comfy home, and my dream job.  I enjoyed lots of different hobbies and got to help people on a daily basis; some of whom were dealing with the same confusing and overwhelming world of infertility.  I didn't take even one of those things for granted anymore.  Just like not having a baby, any of those things could be gone.  And I didn't know it at the time, but Bailey would be gone in just a few short months.

Because, I'm a researcher and pseudo-academic at heart (Okay, I'm a nerd.  There, I said it), I wondered if this happened to other people.  Could I be the only one?  Is it just me, or was I experiencing this traumatic health crisis and feeling, not only happy, but way more happy than I'd ever been?

No way.  No way!

After digging a bit on Google Scholar, I discovered a phenomenon that had been studied for the past decade or so called posttraumatic growth.  You know what PTSD is, right?  Well, this is the opposite:  When good things happen as a result of trauma. 

I know.  Weird. 

It's the message in that song "Live Like You Were Dying."  You know the one.  Are you humming it yet?  The character in the song is diagnosed with cancer and decides to do all of the things that he ever wanted to do.  He began to make Each. Moment. Count. 

Now, would I ride a bull named Fu Man Chu?  Uh, no.

But, there are a ton of things that I (or any of us) could do in any given moment.  To live in that moment.  To really be present right then and there.

Like throwing a stick for your dog.

Thanks to thoughts of Bailey, I discovered what was happening to me.  And I decided I needed to know more and pass it around.  I began research for my dissertation on infertility and posttraumatic growth, and I began throwing ideas around for this blog. 

Hence, I began Joining the Movement to contribute to the infertility community and to educate outside of it.

It's the crux of this blog to recognize the suffering that people with infertility experience and to highlight that one is not alone and does not have to suffer alone.  I'd like to also highlight that one can be in the gutter and simultaneously look up at the stars and wonder at their beauty.  Suffering does not negate joy.

I'll say it again: Suffering does not negate joy. 

I'm Joining the Movement to contribute that small piece of knowledge that can have a big impact on your life, if you so choose.

I'm happy to say, I took my joy back from infertility.  And it even grew exponentially beyond what it was before I began the wild infertility ride. 

Take that, IF. 

And thank you, Bailey. 

One last thing: I wouldn't know it for another year, but as my "shift" happened that previous November, my son was being born half way across the world.  A Thanksgiving baby.

Coincidence?  I think not.  But, that's another post. 


May boundless joy be yours,
~Maria

Dedicated to my Bailey Boy swimming after sticks somewhere

To learn more about the disease of infertility, please visit this page at RESOLVE (The National Infertility Association).

This post is written in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week 2013 (see badge in sidebar). To learn more about NIAW and the theme "Join the Movement," please click here.

Also for HAWMC's Day 21 prompt:  “The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.” – Mulan  True or False?   I vote true.  Obviously.  :)


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

HAWMC Day 17: Organic Happy Carrots

HAWMC Day 17, here we are!  You can start with day 1 here.

Yesterday's post was a temporary reprieve from HAWMC...just had to say a few words about Boston.


Today's prompt:  Go to wordle.net to create a word cloud or tree from a list of words associated with your condition, blog, or interests.  Post it!

I had way too much fun with this prompt, and I'm kinda diggin' the finished product:



I recently saw an iPhone case with the words Think Happy, Be Happy, and I way dig it.  So, "think" and "happiness" right in the center like that?  Way me.  That, and the fact that the color scheme is called Organic Carrot.

Yup.  Can't go wrong with that.  

Until tomorrow...be well,
~M

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spread Love

I don't watch the news.

I have a tendency to be sensitive to others' emotions, both positive and negative (like most therapists).  Watching the news -- which seems to be endlessly negative -- is, therefore, a big no-no for me.

Who could not, however, watch the events of yesterday?  I'm pained and thinking about the people affected near and far. 

As I was going through my blogroll, I read this post by Katie at From If to When and realized they are precisely my thoughts. 

Even when such awful, dastardly events happen, apart from asking why, I still believe my best response is to spread around more love. 

It's okay to be angry.  It's okay to be sad.  It's okay to question the fundamental characteristics of humankind.  Those things are not mutually exclusive from love.

May you find peace in your day and spread a little (or a lot of) love.

Be well,
~M


Monday, April 15, 2013

HAWMC Day 15: Inspired Happiness



Hello, hello, Day 15!  I've missed the last two days of posts; nonetheless, today's post marks a momentous occasion.  I've met my 13-post goal for this HAWMC!  Wah-hoo!  What's even cooler, is that I plan on participating for the rest of the challenge, and may even add in those two missing posts.  We shall see...


Today's prompt: Comment!  Pick someone else's blog post and write a comment to them.  Write that comment as your post for today and link back to them to let them know you were inspired.

By nature, I am a glass-is-half-full kinda gal.  Lots of current research shows that people can actually be taught this way of thinking, which means it doesn't have to be in your genes.  You can learn how to be happy.  So, anytime I see a blog post, article, FB post, or Tweet that talks about happiness despite adversity, I "like" it.  I like it very, very much.

I found a blog post through KC&Co. who also wrote about happiness here.  The primary post I'd like to highlight is written by Moira entitled "Can We Motivate the World with Happiness? (The one where I refuse to be sad all the time)"  Moira highlights juvenile diabetes; a condition about which I have no clue.  But, the message is absolutely transferable across conditions and emotional struggles.

It's actually the crux of this blog where I write about how one can be stuck in the gutter and still look up at the stars.  Even through suffering, happiness can be present.  One need only choose it.

Here's my comment to Moira:  Hi! I found this post via KC & Co., and I absolutely love the message here. I once had a client who had Type I diabetes (both he and his brother), and when I would conduct family sessions, they would both test in the middle of whatever therapeutic intervention we were conducting at the time. It wasn’t a big deal; just life. To me it was a HUGE deal, but in the other direction…it was very inspiring. :)

Moira asks if we can motivate the world with happiness.  What do you think?  Do you think people are motivated more by the negative or positive in life?  The key word is motivate, of course, and I also think "inspire" is connected to that word.  I'm exceedingly uninspired, for example, by those awful commercials portraying the suffering of animals and begging for your donations (sorry, Sarah McLaughlin), and I'm very inspired by the shows I've seen about animal rehabilitation.  I want to give way more to the latter organization.

What about you?

Until tomorrow...be well,
~M

Friday, April 12, 2013

HAWMC Day 12: Advocate and Breathe

 
Hello to Day 12 of HAWMC.  It's been a great ride so far.

Today's prompt: If you could go back in time and talk to yourself on the day of diagnosis, what would you say?

This one is simple for me: Speak up and be your own advocate!  Upon diagnosis, I'm pretty sure I was a) in denial and b) completely unsure of what to do.  I believed my gyno when he said I didn't need a Reproductive Endocronologist, and that I could take the evil drug Clomid essentially forever.

Wrong.

I didn't seek second or third or fourth opinions.  I just went with the flow of whatever docs told me, because obviously they are they authority of my body, and therefore, know precisely what to do with it.

Wrong.

I would tell myself to not take any doc's word as the word of God and keep seeking opinions for as long as my gut told me I needed to.

Lastly, I'm going to steal from last year's HAWMC and post the following:


Keep Calm and BREATHE EVERY MOMENT Poster

I would (and do!) tell myself this every day.

Until tomorrow....be well,
~M

Thursday, April 11, 2013

HAWMC Day 11: Find Me Gluten Free



Welcome to HAWMC Day 11!  You can start with Day 1 here.

Technology got the best of me today.  My Macbook randomly stopped charging, and the battery is so old that it doesn't hold a charge anymore.  Thus, I was out of a computer for a good 6 hours.  I text my husband, "I think I might die."

And yet, I remember the days when the cool kids all had pagers, and I was not a cool kid.  How did we ever survive without technology?

At any rate, darling Macbook randomly began to charge again.  She needs an Apple visit for sure, but in the meantime, I shall post today's HAWMC Prompt:


Write about your favorite health iPhone app. 

Aside from infertility, I also have a wheat allergy (which is probably connected somehow).  While I don't have to eat completely gluten-free, I love finding foods and restaurants that offer a GF menu, because I can be sure that I won't be eating wheat.  So, my favorite wellness app is Find Me Gluten Free.

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/4/prweb9370128.htm
It's got like a bazillion GF restaurants listed on it in whatever location you are.  I absolutely love it, and it's constantly being updated, so one can never be without GF good eats.  Check it out!

Until tomorrow...be well,
~M

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

HAWMC Day 10: Favorite Picture



Welcome to Day 10 of HAWMC!  You can start with Day 1 here.

Today's prompt for Wordless Wednesday: It's often hard to like pictures of ourselves -- post your favorite picture of yourself.

I happen to have a few favored pictures of myself; not because of how I look in them, but because of the happy moments in which they were taken.  I'll go with this one today:

A little Bailey love


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

HAWMC Day 9: Being Present


It's Day 9 of the HAWMC; you can start with Day 1 here.

Today's prompt:  Patients, what advice or tips do you have for caregivers out there -- professional or otherwise?

Because I'm a caregiver, I have the unique opportunity to be both patient and professional within the fertility world.  Well, not a patient anymore, but a looooong history of being one.  For professionals (including docs, nurses, and staff), my personal tip is to simply be present for your patients.

You may have the education, the knowledge, the stats memorized, etc, but you are not that patient.  Be present when they talk about their concerns and issues, and listen -- really listen -- to what is being said as opposed to throwing out numbers and diagnoses.

Nothing is more powerful than a professional who is totally present for their patients or clients.  Instead of feeling like a number, she/he may actually feel like a person.

Okay....now as a professional therapist, I'd love to ask you guys:  What advice and/or tips do you have for us headshrinkers?

Listening presently...

~M

Monday, April 8, 2013

HAWMC Day 8: If Infertility Were an Animal



It's the second week and Day 8 of HAWMC, and I'm well on my way to my 13-post goal for this year's challenge.  Ya-hoo!

You can start with Day 1 here.


Today's prompt:  If your health condition (or the health condition of a loved one) was an animal, what would it be?  Is it a real animal or make believe?

Infertility and the circumstances surrounding it are like some of the hunting scenes I've seen on National Geographic.  People are like the antelope hanging out at a pond's edge waiting for a fish to swim by.  The antelope just knows a fish will come by any moment now, and that it'll be able to grasp it up quickly.

What the antelope doesn't know is that something is wrong.  A sinister presence lurks in the tall grass behind it.  It's a lion.  The lion is patient.  Seeing its prey, it's going to pounce at just the right moment; just when the antelope thinks it's safe, that nothing terrible is going to happen, the lion will attack.  And not only will it take away the prospect of a fish, but it will damage the antelope badly, if not fully engulf it in its sharp dagger teeth. 



The ubiquitous fear and its all encompassing nature force the antelope to fight or flee.  Other antelope scatter and send messages to the one in danger like, "Tsk, tsk...maybe it was meant to be" or "Just keep running and it'll all be okay" or "Maybe if you turn left quickly..."  All silly placations, but really, what else can they do?

If all works out, the lion will tire and the antelope will live to fish another day.  If all works out even better, the antelope will have gained some knowledge, strength, and courage to carry with it all of the rest of its life. 


Until next time...be well,
~M



Sunday, April 7, 2013

HAWMC Day 7: Ridiculous Cure Headline

Hi everyone!  It's Day 7 of HAWMC, and I am having a ridiculously good time with today's prompt.  If you get sarcasm, you just may get a giggle out of it, too.

You can start with Day 1 of HAWMC here.

Today's prompt:  Share a ludicrous headline or cure. Do a news search and choose a ridiculous headline or proposed cure about your condition and write what you think about it.  Can't find one?  Write your own.

For this prompt, I just had to make up my own ridiculous headline.  Last year (or the year before?), Resolve facilitated a whole blog challenge for busting infertility myths.  You wouldn't believe the ideas that people come up with to help "cure" infertility.  Things like, "Oh just go on vacation" or "Get drunk.  That's what I did" are some of my favorites.  But, the headline below is one that I get all the time.

And you know what? Most of the time it's from my own family!  No matter how often I educate, it just doesn't sink in.  So, hey...why not get a little giggle from it?




Until next time...

~M

Saturday, April 6, 2013

HAWMC Day 6: A Letter to Infertility

Hi all!  It's Day 6 of the HAWMC and an absolutely gorgeous day here on the East Coast (finally!).  Dare I say Spring has arrived?

You can start with Day 1 of HAWMC here.


Today's prompt:  Write a letter to your condition -- what do you want to get off your chest?

I've written a lot about the devastation of infertility.  I've written about the depression, all-encompassing anxiety, difficulty focusing on anything else but one's cycle and various symptoms (Ah! A twinge!  I must be pregnant!), and the baby- and pregnancy-obsession.  So, this letter may come as a surprise.

Dear IF,

Thank you.

(I know, right?)

Because of your initially insidious and, later, your blatant disregard for my emotional well-being, I began to notice how awesome life is.  At first, you threw in my face at any inopportune moment how I didn't have a big round belly and how everybody else on the planet was lucky enough to have children except for me. 

You made me feel that I didn't belong anywhere.  My friends weren't stuck like I was.  My younger and unmarried friends were still partying -- I didn't belong with them either.  You forced me to look daily at what I didn't have and wanted desperately.  Worse, you made me begin to despise my body and feel that I couldn't even control that aspect of my life.  Worse still, you made me feel as if I didn't deserve motherhood.  You were evil.  Plain and simple.

Then...

Something weird happened.  I began to notice the sunshine on my face.  I noticed the smell of freshly-mowed grass and how it felt on my bare feet.  I enjoyed lazy, rainy days on the couch with my dogs, popcorn, and a movie.  I started to run and notice how free I felt.  My body could do that?

Life was awesome.

I giggled with my nieces and nephews.  I cherished wine and conversation with loved ones.  I started writing, and I focused my practice on helping others just like me.  I started dancing again, even if it was only in my living room.

Life was awesome. 

And I started laughing at you.  You were still a part of my life, but you weren't huge.  You stopped being heavy.  You stopped ruling my days.  I had shrunk you.  I won.  

Then something weird happened again.

I realized I owed you.  Yup.  I owed you the feel of sunshine, the grass under my feet, the laughter with loved ones, and all things wonderful in my life.  I know....weird.  But, here's my thinking.

Years ago -- in the midst of your darkness -- I saved this fortune from a fortune cookie.  Who knew a tiny slip of paper could later prove to be so profound?


You see?  You are my shadow.  You will always be with me.  And because of that, life will always be awesome.  Nothing will be taken for granted.

Ever.

So, thank you, IF.  Thank you.

Life is awesome.

And though I wish you'd stay out of others' lives, if you have to intrude on their happiness, I hope your shadows make their lights seem brighter, too.

 ~M


This letter, incidentally, is the crux of my dissertation: Infertility and Posttraumatic Growth.  I know it's possible for positive things to come out of such a life crisis, since it happened to me, but does that happen often?  Take the survey located at the top of the side bar or click on the tab at the top of this page, and help me find out. 

Until next time...be well,
~M

Friday, April 5, 2013

HAWMC Day 5: Thinking BIG!

It's Day 5 of HAWMC....still going strong here.  Wah-hoo!  You can start with Day 1 here.

Today's prompt: If I could do anything as a Health Activist..."  Think big today!  Money/time/physical limitations are no longer an issue.  What is your biggest goal that is now possible?

One of the biggest things that I have always said I'd do, if I won a ton of money, is to open up a grant program for infertility treatments.  Insurance has a looooong way to go before infertility is recognized as a legitimate health issue (thanks to activists who regularly visit Washington, D.C., this is going to change!). 

The cost of treatments is no joke.  People take out loans, sell things, borrow from loved ones, etc., all in the name of dealing with this horrible disease that some insurance companies don't consider a medical issue.  Some plans get around the mandatory state coverage, because it's a "self-insured" plan.  Or they cover peanuts of the total cost of treatment. 

All told, some people spend tens of thousands of dollars for infertility treatments and never have a baby on the other side of said treatments.  Until insurance companies can be sensible and cover all infertility all of the time, my biggest dream is to have a gigantic cushion of money to simply give away to those who don't have coverage, who don't have the means, and who desperately want treatments. 

Imagine what it would be like to not have to ever worry about the funds needed for your medical issue.  How different would life be for you?

Until next time...

Be well,
~M

Thursday, April 4, 2013

HAWMC Day 4: Favorite Things


It's Day 4 of the HAWMC 2013, and I am diggin' the way this is going.  I'm learning a lot and feeling all involved and stuff.

You can start with Day 1 here.

Today's Prompt: Create a "care page" -- a list of your best resources that someone who is newly diagnosed could go to when starting to advocate for themselves or a loved one.

Over the years, I have found a multitude of resources that I pass on like crazy all the time.  These include resources for infertility and adoption as well as mental well-being in general, and I'm adding to it all the time.

I've listed these resources on my main website under a tab labeled "Favorite Things."  Indeed, they are my very favorite:

Maria's Favorite Things

Enjoy!  Until next time...

Be well,
~M

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

HAWMC Day 3: Wordless Wednesday

HAWMC Day 3: Post a picture that symbolizes your condition and your experiences.

You can find Day 1 here.

 
Like a lotus flower that grows out of the mud and blossoms above the muddy water surface, we can rise above our defilements and sufferings of life

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

HAWMC Day 2: Sharing Old Posts

It's Day 2 of the HAWMC.  I'm officially on a roll.  Yay me!

You can start with Day 1 here.   Don't know what the heck I'm talking about?  I'll give the link to you one more time: HAWMC.  Check it out!  Good times to be had.

Today's prompt: Share links to 3-5 of your old posts (or posts from other Health Activists!) that you think will help the newly diagnosed. 

Some of my favorite posts to write involve what I call Infertility Rx's, which you can see on a tab at the top of this pageThe first post actually comes from last year when I wrote in the HAWMC, and it incorporated Resolve's theme for the year: Don't Ignore.  This one is all about not ignoring your feelings (hello!  I'm a therapist).  Infertility can be confusing and all-encompassing.  You don't have to ignore those feelings.

Don't Ignore: Your Feelings 

The second post I'd like to share is actually one of things that I personally learned through the infertility journey.  Infertility became super huge in my life (as is typical with a life crisis).  In the following post, I talk about how to shrink it down.
  
Putting IF In Its Place  

The last is actually an article that I think I've spread around the internet about a million times.  Not knowing how to talk to friends and relatives about what you need when going through infertility is super difficult.  Resolve put out a fan-friggin'-tastic article on just that.

Infertility Etiquette 

I hope this has been helpful!  Until next time...

Be well,
~M   

Monday, April 1, 2013

HAWMC Day 1: Intro

It's April Fool's Day!  Reminds me of a short video I saw recently where the speaker was talking about wisdom.  He said something to the effect of the more wise we get, the more foolish we realize we are.  So, it's really April Wiseperson's Day.

Kinda.

Okay, well for sure it's the first day of the Health Activist's Writer's Month Challenge (#HAWMC), which I love!  Every day for the month of April, I get to write about my health focus: Infertility.  Interested in trying it out?  Go check out the link!


Day 1 prompt: Why HAWMC? This is our third year of the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge – why did you get involved this year? Are you a newbie to #HAWMC or a veteran?

 
I am for sure not a veteran, though this is my second year participating in HAWMC.  Last year, I believe I completed around 12 out of the 30 posts or something ridiculous like that.  Ha!  So, my secret reason for getting involved this year is to beat my "record" from last year.  Go me!

Aside from that vain goal, I love writing about infertility and about the various ways that those struck by the IF wake can help steady their selves again.  It's possible.  I would even posit that it's probable.  Even though it doesn't feel like it very often.

So here we go...off to make it to 13.

I've said it before...nothing like a lofty goal. 

Be well,
~M





 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Disordered or Not -- That is the Question

There was a heated Twitter chat last Wednesday that raised a few questions and really got me thinking.  I'm happy to report that I still have a few brain cells left even after all of that dissertation writing, so I thought I'd think out loud, write about it here, and ask you guys your thoughts.

The topic was right up my alley. Trauma, posttraumatic stress disorder, and posttraumatic growth.  It's my dissertation right there!

Here is where the discussion got heated: Several people made a really great point about the word "disorder."  Reactions to life crises -- depression, anxiety, nightmares, etc. -- are all "normal" symptoms; so why call it a disorder? [normal in quotes, because it was later asked, of course, what is normal]

The DSM-IV (the diagnostic manual for us headshrinkers) states something to the effect of posttraumatic stress becomes a disorder when the symptoms last for more than a month, and clinicians are to specify other things like "acute" or "chronic," etc. 

Now.  I don't consider the DSM the bible for mental health.  I believe that everyone is an individual with a shared human experience, which means, everyone gets to decide what normal is for them.   The manual attempts to make some sense of the human experience and categorize it for general scientific purposes as well as, let's face it, for insurance purposes.

Back to the word disorder.  I understand the negative connotation to the word disorder, of course.  It's inescapable.  But, if one looks at the word as something neutral to describe a thing, it means out of order.  Unless, of course, it's an out of order toilet.  Then it's just out of order.  Digressing...

(I just thought, "That toilet has a disorder."  Haha!)  Digressing again...

Here's what made me think:  If reactions like depression, anxiety, nightmares, flashbacks, and avoidance are all normal reactions to a crisis, why is it called a disorder?  Do you think those things are normal reactions?  Do you think if one has these symptoms for a month or more that it's suddenly a disorder?

Put in terms of infertility:  If you've been dealing with infertility, it's obviously been for longer than a month.  If you've had symptoms of depression, anxiety, nightmares, etc., do you think you have PTSD?  Are your symptoms, in fact, disordered?

Bonus: Do you think something good can ever come of your experience with infertility?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Happy ICLW!

Hi and welcome!  Per my last post, it's been quite a while since I last posted, and I am so happy to be back contributing and reading others' updates, good news, bad news, offering support, etc.  You can read my ICLW welcome here.

_______________________________________


Today's post is pretty simple.  I've written about various ways to cope with infertility.  The stress, anxiety, depression, overwhelming emotion, how to hand people who don't get it, how to handle ridiculous comments, etc. 

So, my question today is:  What would you like help with?  What do you want to know?  What are you currently struggling with?  You can either post here or send me an email: mtrothlpc at gmail dot com, and I will see about writing on your particular topic. 

Lastly, in the general theme of mental health:  Name one thing you are grateful for today.  Notice how you feel.  What if you were to think of 10 things? 

Be well,
~M

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Reset

You know when you're on a roll for a while, and you fall off the proverbial bandwagon?  And you stay fallen for, oh, six months or so?  Um, yeah...that's been my blog-writing style of late.  Who knew the style of non-writing was so powerful -- eh-hem -- or not. 

That is why "Reset" is this post's title.  I am planning on writing quite often again.  Key word: Planning.  You know what they say, right? 

We Plan; God Laughs.  Pretty true, dontchyathink?  As it turns out, the Universe pretty forcefully focused me on my dissertation.  Yup, I kinda want to graduate already (<---serious understatement), so I suppose that was a wise move. 

I'm still working on the dissertation (see survey link on the sidebar, if you're interested in participating).  Nevertheless, we shall see how my plan works out.  Crossing my fingers and hoping I can hang on to that bandwagon, and write my dissertation, and run a business, and be an infertility activist, and, and, and...

Nothing like lofty goals.  

Coming up in the next few months are several blog writing challenges that I loved participating in last year: The Health Activist Writers' Month Challenge, National Infertility Awareness Week, and, of course, the monthly International Comment Leaving Week

I'm excited to get this blog moving again and to start spreading more awareness and information on how to handle infertility, adoption, child-free living, and life after infertility. 

Officially reset.  Be well,
~M