Sunday, May 12, 2013

Nope, Still Not a Mother(s) Day

I hate Mother's Day with a passion. I love my mom. I appreciate her more than words could ever express. I'm happy for women who are mothers. But I hate this day because of what it represents for me and many women like me - childlessness.

Despite all of the progress that women have made in our society there is still a stigma concerning women who aren't moms. We ARE looked at as less of a woman than a mother. We constantly get comments like:

"You don't know what real love is until you're a mom." 
"You wouldn't understand, you're not a parent." 
"Just wait until you're a mom. You don't know what tired is!" 

These types of comments are demeaning. They imply that our life experiences are less valid just because we don't have children. I have definitely been treated like less of an adult because I'm not a mom. It's like some people think that I can never attain true maturity unless I pop out a baby.

Maybe I'll feel differently about Mother's Day someday. But for now the only part of this day that I look forward to is the card that my husband makes for me from our dogs.

For those who have lost their mother, for those who have crappy moms, for those who have lost children, for those who live childfree and for those still waiting - I am thinking of you today.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Adventures in Alternative Medicine - Take 2

The only thing that I personally have ever dealt with that even comes close to being as frustrating as infertility is Crohn's disease. Like with infertility, there are SO MANY unknowns and most treatment options have really awful side effects. It isn't uncommon to deal with a lot of Crohn's symptoms even if the disease isn't active in your body. A lot of times you don't know when the disease is active. Other than unreliable blood tests the only way to confirm a flare is with a colonoscopy or an MRI.

For the past month my symptoms have been showing their ugly head. I don't feel like I am dying or anything but having to run to the bathroom constantly certainly isn't convenient or pleasant. I went to my gastroenterologist and told her about my symptoms. She ordered those lovly blood tests and told me yet again that I need a colonoscopy or MRI. I, once again, said no to the tests. When I had my gallbladder removed in the Fall and subsequently had a bile leak and post-op infection I had several MRIs and a colonosopy. I am not eager to expose my body to more radiation or to have another colonoscopy quite yet (the prep is EXTREMELY unpleasant).

The blood test came back showing that I have some inflammation in my body but of course, this blood test does not tell you where the inflammation is or what is causing it. It could just be from a passing cold for all I know. It could also just be stress. Haha. Not like I have any stress, right? The blood test made my doctor really push for me to have one of these tests done. I get where she is coming from, I really do. But I'm tired of it. I am tired of tests and new medications and doctor's visits. I am not doing another MRI or colonoscopy right now.

So, I am trying to take control of things on my own. This may fail miserably and I may be going back to my doctor begging for one of those tests in a month, but I have to try. I came up with a plan of attack of things that I can do to improve my health. I generally find homeopathic and alternative medicine to be kinda cooky. I have not had great experiences with natural remedies before but I am willing to give some well-researched stuff a try.

No more gluten! I do not have Celiac's disease but I do believe that our society eats a lot more gluten than we were ever intended to. Most of that gluten is in highly refined and processed foods. All that processing is really bad for an already angry tummy. When I was eating gluten free I did notice a difference in how I felt. So I am going back to gluten free!

Kava every evening. A few months ago I discovered a really amazing herbal supplement for stress- kava! I started out using a kava tincture and after a bit I ordered the powdered root so that I could make kava-kava in the traditional way (in a drink form). The traditional preparation of kava did wonders for my stomach. It almosts acts as an anti-spasmodic for my stomach. I did not have the same result with the tincture because it contained alcohol and alcohol is very irritating to the stomach. Less stress is also important when it comes to getting healthy. Stress makes Crohn's worse. So, I am going back to drinking a cup of kava every night.

Iodine tablets. Iodine is a natural anti-inflammatory and there is a lot of science behind its benefit. (FYI- I have also read that it is great for women with endometriosis.) The majority of Americans are iodine deficient, so it certainly can't hurt. If it does what I am hoping it will lessen the inflammation in my stomach and I will have less symptoms.

Hopefully this stuff will do the trick and I will be back to a normal bathroom schedule shortly. I'm just so sick of depending on medications and doctors. I need to try this to empower myself and to at least know that I tried some lifestyle changes and natural options. I'll let you know how it turns out!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Advocacy Day

Today is Resolve's Advocacy Day. It's our advocacy day.

Why does advocacy for the infertility community matter? 

Because there are so many people in our own communities and in Washington that do not know what it is like to only have expensive options like A.R.T. or adoption to build their families.

What are the issues?

  • The Family Act is a bill to create a tax credit for the out-of-pocket expenses associated with IVF and fertility preservation for cancer or other diseases. This act died in the 112th Congress and must be re-introduced in the 113th. Read all about the Family Act here
  • The Women Veterans and Other Healthcare Improvements Act is a bill to improve the reproductive assistance provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs to severely wounded, ill, or injured veterans and their spouses. This bill will provide access to fertility treatment for seriously injured veterans and their spouses, adoption assistance, permanent authority for VA to provide child care, and other elements. Read all about the Women Veterans and Other Healthcare Improvements Act here. 
  • A continuing issue - Personhood legislation. Most personhood resolutions and amendments are worded in a way so as to make it sound like they are anti-abortion. That is SO FAR from what they really are. Personhood legislation aims to define every single fertilized human embryo as a living person, regardless of if it is in the human body or not. Personhood legislation, if passed, makes IVF next to impossible. Learn all about personhood legislation, what it is, and what it is not here. 

How can you advocate for the infertility community?

Call or email your senator or representative and ask them to co-sponsor S 131/ H. R. 958 (Women Veterans and Other Healthcare Improvements Act)! Find your senators here. Find your representatives here.

Educate yourself on current and future personhood legislation so that you can make the best decision in the voting booth and so that you can inform others of what this kind of legislation truly is. Keep up-to-date with personhood legislation here.

For more about Advocacy Day, visit this link:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Blogger Beware

A couple of days ago I posted this article on Twitter. It is a long article, but I highly recommend reading it. It is about a woman who was diagnosed with cancer and started a blog about it. Like us in the infertility community, she found a lot of wonderful support online. The only thing is, not all of that support was 100% genuine. Not one, but THREE of the women she met online claiming to have cancer were FAKING the whole thing.

You are probbaly thinking to yourself,"What the heck?" Well, there is a name for this. Munchausen by Internet syndrome. I don't really know how I feel about it being called a syndrome. It seems more like just being a really lousy human being to me, but I am no doctor. It is mostly women, usually starts in the teens or early 20s and is frequently accompanied by another psychological or personality disorder.

When I posted this article, it really struck a chord with my Twitter followers. My friend, Jenny, wrote a post  about after we talked about on Twitter. Be sure to check out her post too!

It is awful to think that someone you have gone to for support during an incredibly difficult time is lying to you. It is a total breach of trust. The scary part? Our community is ripe for the picking to people like this. Infertility isn't something that shows on the outside. It is easy to fake. It is easy to lie about pregnancy loss, and there are plenty of women that do it. I know of three women off the top of my head who have lied to our community about infertility or miscarriages. Can I prove they are lying? No. Therefore I will not name them, but trust me, they exist. I have one friend who has been a direct victim of one of these people.

I might be a great target for someone with Munchausen by Internet due to how vocal I am about my struggles, but it is worth the risk. I have met so many wonderful people through sharing my experience with infertility. I've had people tell me my story helped them. That makes this worth it.

When you put your life and your struggles on the Internet you run the risk of encountering people like this. Does that mean you shouldn't reach out for support? Absolutely not. It is highly possible that one or more of the women I have become so close to are liars, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to start grilling all of my friends on the details of their struggles. Maybe the support you give will help one of the people who do this. They need help. They are obviously very, very troubled individuals.

There are things that you can look out for to avoid being emotionally defrauded on the Internet.
  • Notice inconsistencies. It's hard to keep up a lie, especially a big one. If there are a ot of inconsistencies in what someone is telling you they might be lying.
  • People with Munchausen by Internet will act almost excited or giddy about a serious downturn in their health. They will be excited about near death experiences, tragedies or hospital visits. This is a universal characteristic in all types of Munchausen disorders.
  • Their "conditions" will take many grave or tragic turns to be followed by miraculous recoveries.
  • They will avoid meeting you in real life, often making up bizarre reasons why they cannot.
  • Does the language they use and the symptoms they give sound like it is being read from a textbook? It might be.
  • They may have multiple online accounts and might be pretending to be multiple people.
  • Go with your gut. If your gut reaction is that something doesn't seem right, go with that and back away from the person you feel uncomfortable about.
It is important to be informed about this sort of thing so that you can protect yourself and your emotions but it is no reason to not seek support. The vast majority of the people in online support communities are wonderful people who will make your journey a lot less lonely.

To learn more about Munchausen by Internet syndrome read these helpful articles:

Monday, May 6, 2013

Birthday Hell

My friends, it is coming. Dah, dah, duuuh! Birthday Hell.

What is Birthday Hell, you ask? Well, my mother is the one who coined the phrase. Birthday Hell is the period from about mid-May to the middle of June. In this short, one month period almost all of our family birthdays are celebrated along with Mother's Day, Father's Day and my parents' wedding anniversary.

The only people in my immediate family that do not have birthdays during this time is my husband and my nephew. Me, my mom, my dad, my brother, my sister-in-law and my niece ALL have birthdays within this four week period. It is INSANITY. For most families, December is the most expensive month because of Christmas. Not in my family!

We have even taken to just doing one big celebration instead of individual birthday parties, the exception to that rule being my very young niece (She is little. She needs fun birthday parties!). Even with our giant celebration we end up having plans every single weekend during this time because of Mother's and Father's Day.

The big joke in the family is that if anyone has a baby from here on out they need to make sure that their birth does not fall in the middle of Birthday Hell. Funny thing about that? If our IVF cycle in August is successful our baby/babies will be born smack-dab in the middle of the chaos. Hahaha! Just imagine how much fun Birthday Hell will be if we get pregnant with twins!!

So, my dear family. I apologize in advance. Sorry - Well, not really sorry. I'd do anything to make this IVF cycle work and have a baby in the middle of Birthday Hell.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Welcome To My Brain

Having an anxiety problem (OCD in my case) is really hard. It's exhausting and self-defeating and it makes me want to scream.

Some days I feel trapped in my own head with my thoughts, and none of those thoughts are positive. Just worries.

Today is one of those days. And it sucks.

It is impossible to adequately explain what it really feels like in my brain right now. My thoughts are all jumbled. I'm irritable and I don't really feel like talking to anyone. Even innocuous things that people say can trigger another set of things to worry about. 

Of course the things I worry about when I'm like this never really make sense. They are things that I cannot change. I wish it was as simple as saying to myself, "Oh, that's an irrational thing to worry about. Stop it." and then going on with my day. It isn't. The more I tell myself NOT to worry about something the worse it seems to get. This is a pretty common characteristic of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Anxiety disorders are pretty misunderstood by the majority of people, and honestly, I'm glad that most people don't get it. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. But it feels very alone at times. And it just sucks.