Pushing Motherhood: The Campaign

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A couple of weeks ago, my lovely friend Diane Mizota invited me to a lunch with an amazing group of writers and bloggers.  We sat on her back patio on a picturesque Los Angeles afternoon and chatted about all things writing, blogging, family, and ice cream.  Because, seriously?  Diane brought in the owner of Nitropod - he makes organic flash frozen ice cream.  It’s insane.  In a good way.  You’ll just have to trust me on this one.

Anyway, the real reason Diane brought us all together was to screen the trailer for an amazing kickstarter campaign called, “Pushing Motherhood”.

“Pushing Motherhood” is the story of two best friends who have quite literally been through absolutely everything together (careers, love, marriage, divorce, love again), including infertility.  The film follows Sybil, 38, and Linda, 45, as they attempt to embark on motherhood.  And while Sybil was lucky enough to bring a healthy baby boy into the world and is now trying for a second, Linda has not been so lucky.

If you’ve spent any time here, you know that I’ve struggled.  You also know that even though I’m 99% sure that my family is complete, that 1% still wakes me from a deep sleep, causing tears to pour down my cheeks as I will myself to feel grateful for what I have:  My children and my life.

You also know that there isn’t anything easy about infertility, and that blame is a useless strategy.

Listening to Linda talk about her struggle as she fought back tears brought so many emotions about my own struggle.  I am one of the lucky ones.  This is what I repeat every time that 1% percent creeps in.  I am one of the lucky ones.  But I remember the pain.  I remember the longing.  I remember the appointments, the losses, and the anxiety.  I remember every single second of what began to feel like lost years.

Here’s something you don’t know about me:  I promised myself that when I got to the other side, I would find a way to help alleviate the isolation that STILL surrounds infertility.  And so I started to write.  I filled page after page after page with every little thing…all of the things that are left unsaid.  I signed with a literary agent.  I revised and revised and revised until my eyes nearly popped out.  And then my proposal was out of my hands.  Editor after editor came back with the same reply:  Incredible story.  Not big enough of a topic. We don’t think we can sell enough copies.

I was heartbroken.  Not because I needed to sell just any book, but because I wanted to do this for all of you.  For those of you struggling now, and for those of you yet to find your way here.

Not big enough.  It’s hard to believe, isn’t it?

So as I sat and watched this trailer, tears streaming down my face, I was struck by a renewed energy.  The book didn’t sell, but this documentary needs to get made.  We need to shout from the rooftops to get more support, more coverage for treatment, and more people talking.  We need to break down these walls right now!

And you can help…

Sybil and Linda started a Kickstarter campaign to raise the necessary funds to cover the cost of post production, music, and various other things that documentaries need.  Watch the trailer.  Pledge whatever you can.  They have seven days left – this documentary has the potential to make a huge difference for everyone struggling with infertility.  And please, pretty please, share this information.  Let’s kickstart this!

Thank you so much for watching…

The Power of Three

I tried to hide out as much as possible.

 

Part of me wanted to be as strong as everyone around me seemed to think I was.  Part of me felt ashamed and embarrassed.  And part of me knew that to tell the story over and over was to experience those gut-wrenching emotions over and over.

 

I wasn’t sure I could handle the pain.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to.

 

And so I tried my best to hide out as much as possible.

 

I went from home to work and back again.  I stopped walking with friends after work.  I ran on my elliptical behind closed doors instead.  I stopped going to parties or dinners…especially when my husband was on tour.  I stuck close to home and watched a little too much TV.

 

I read a lot of chick lit.

 

But a funny thing happened…

 

A couple of my close friends, one who was no stranger to miscarriage and another who just couldn’t stand to watch me slip away, decided that they had no intention of letting me hide out.

 

They called.  A lot.  And while they didn’t always mention miscarriage or infertility, they knew that I needed some space from it, they did let me know that they were right by my side.

 

They listened when I wanted to talk.  They said the right things…the only things you really can say from afar.  They asked other friends about their experiences and got back to me with ideas for different treatments.

 

They cheered me on when I went for my acupuncture appointments and laughed when I shared embarrassing stories after each appointment…as it turns out, it’s really hard to close your eyes and relax when you have little needles threatening to puncture your eyes if you happen to sneeze.

 

They cried on the other end of the phone when the second miscarriage started at almost exactly the same point in the pregnancy as the first.

 

They swore up and down that I didn’t eat something awful or walk too fast or sleep too little.  They reminded me 10,000 times that it wasn’t my fault.

 

They brought books when I needed books and wine when I needed wine.  They supported my Dark Chocolate M&M habit 100% and allowed me to be the third wheel…even when they probably really needed a date night.

 

Even though I still suffered in silence for much of the time and refused to tell another living soul other than them for a very long time…these two friends made the even the hardest days just a little bit easier to bear.

 

They did it simply by being there.

 

And that…is the power of three.

 

Infertility isn’t about hiding out…infertility is about reaching out to someone who understands.

 

This one’s for you Stacey and Stacey – I love you to the moon and back.

Welcome to Clomid and Cabernet!

Welcome to Clomid and Cabernet!  I am so happy that you decided to stop by.

This little community has been on my mind for quite some time.  You can read my story here, but the short version is that my husband and I struggled for many years before we had our two children.  We lost four along the way, the most recent loss at 18 weeks gestation.  Needless to say, it hasn’t been easy.

We know that we are the lucky ones.  We were able to bring our daughter and our son into this world, and we feel grateful for them every single day.

Our infertility journey included many ups and downs, and some very, very absurd moments.  Let’s just say that we tried everything.  Legs in the air for 45 minutes?  Check!  Acupuncture for both of us?  Check!  Trying to get pregnant while on tour with a band?  Check!  Yes, we tried everything.

And don’t forget the importance of that very tasty Cabernet (or Merlot, or Sam Adams, etc.)…

Sometimes you just need to pour a glass...

My husband and I did as most infertiles do along the way…we remained fairly silent.  Other than our families and a few very close friends, we didn’t share the details of our journey.  We were frustrated, ashamed, and alone.  While I did try to join some of the infertility message boards along the way, I never quite found the right place for me.  No one seemed to be talking about the legs in the air thing…forget about the fertility monitor on the tour bus.

I promised myself that when I got to the other side of my journey through infertility, I would create a community for people to connect.  Clomid and Cabernet is for everyone:  The couples undergoing treatment, the friends who don’t know what to say,  and the family members standing helpless on the sidelines.  Clomid and Cabernet is a place where we can all come together to share our journeys, ask some questions, and hopefully find a way to laugh a little.

Features:

The Forums:  The Forums, or message boards, are the place to connect with others, build friendships, and seek support.  I recommend creating a profile and joining a group or two.  This is a great place to share you stories and get to know others traveling the same path.

The Eggfessional:  Located in the Forums, the Eggfessional is the place to vent your frustrations, share your absurd stories, and say the things that you wouldn’t otherwise say.  The Eggfessional is open to guests only, in order to protect your anonymity.  In other words, say anything!

Ask Dr. Marc:  Marc Kalan, M.D. is an infertility specialist in Los Angeles.  He is here to answer your questions and provide some guidance.  Dr. Marc is here for couples struggling with infertility, but he is also here for friends and family members who have questions too!  Send in your concerns and Dr. Marc will give you an answer.

Share Your Story:  Clomid and Cabernet is all about breaking the silence of infertility.  I would love to share your stories here.  Bloggers and non-bloggers are all welcome.  Please send in your submissions so that we can all start breaking the silence together.

This site has been on my mind for many years.  I truly hope to build a positive community where people can share their stories, connect with others, and laugh a little along the way.  Believe me, I know that there isn’t anything even remotely entertaining about infertility.  But I do believe in safety in numbers and sharing our stories.  We have nothing to hide.  We are warriors, and we are all in this together.

What do you say?  Will you fight the good fight with me?  Will you stand up and break the silence?

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The Infertility Wars

We live in a competitive world.  We live in a world where comparisons are constantly being drawn.  We live in a world where people love to pretend otherwise, but often view things as right or wrong.  Shades of grey are generally ignored.  Judgments are made with little to no information.  Opinions are stated whether or not they are wanted.

I suppose it was simply a matter of time.

There is a new trend in the fight against infertility, and it is only making matters worse.

Women are at war with one another.  Women are comparing their journeys and attacking those who they deem to be “less infertile”.  Instead of joining hands and fighting infertility together, women are now fighting each other.

7.3 million Americans are currently waging war against infertility.  To bring it a little closer to home, if you and your partner are out to dinner with 7 other couples, one of those couples is currently experiencing infertility.  That’s a lot of couples.

Despite increasing numbers, infertility remains a taboo subject.  It can stop a conversation in a heartbeat and empty a room in record time.  It can end marriages, friendships, and family relationships.  It can cause some serious emotional damage.

The potential for emotional wreckage and lost relationships often causes couples to suffer in silence.

Infertility can cause anxiety and depression.  It can lead to significant social isolation.  I have experienced all of these along my journey, and then some.

Infertility is alienating.

Why women would choose to turn on each other is beyond comprehension.  Because when everybody fights, everybody loses.

It used to be that infertility message boards and blogs were a safe place to seek comfort.  It used to be that women could reach out to other women on a similar path while remaining anonymous.  It used to be that under the cover of screen names, we would offer words of support and possibly even resources.  It used to be that we were in this together.

But lately there’s been a shift.  Here and there, brave women are coming forward and sharing their journeys.  They are doing it to help others, to convey a message of hope, and to relieve the emotional burden that suffering in silence creates.  They are standing up, using their names, and telling it like it is.

And they are under attack.

What used to be a safe place suddenly feels a lot less safe.

Women who share stories of multiple miscarriages are hearing, “at least you CAN get pregnant” in response.  I assure you, fellow infertility soldiers, there is no comfort in conceiving a child only to have him silently slip away at 6, 8, 10, 12, or even 20 weeks.  I lost one at 9, two at 13, and one at 18 weeks.  I loved them all.  And despite my two incredible children, not a day goes by that I don’t think about that last one…a sweet little baby boy lost in June.  I should be nine months pregnant right now.  I should be decorating one more nursery.  I should be washing and folding tiny clothes.  Instead, I am trying to remain focused on what I have and move on from the longing that threatens to shatter my soul.

My journey has been long and emotionally exhausting.  Excruciating at times. For the first half I heard, “at least you can get pregnant” over and over again.  It felt like tiny daggers of shame were stabbing my soul each time I heard it.  Today I hear, “at least you have your two” or “at least they’re healthy”.  What can I say?  It’s hard to argue with that kind of logic.  But it certainly doesn’t erase the loss(es).

Incidentally, the Center for Disease Control estimates that 11% of couples that have one child go on to experience secondary infertility.

Other women are competing over who has endured more rounds of IVF, who had the worst reactions to the hormones and medications, and who has been trying for the longest amount of time.  People, it seems, would rather be the worst-case scenario (and hopefully get the most social support) than join a growing number of Americans and fight the war together.

I can tell you with certainty that there is no trophy for being the worst case.  After losing my baby boy, and nearly losing my life in the process, I was later told that I was one of two cases like that in the 30 years that my doctor’s practice has been open.  Being a medical mystery doesn’t make me feel any better, and it certainly won’t bring my baby back.

But sharing my story and helping others does add a small ray of sunshine to an otherwise dreary journey.  Receiving email from people who feel just a little bit better knowing that I am here, and fighting both with them and on their behalf, gives me a reason to keep looking forward.

At least once a day I have to remind myself that my journey to conceive and carry to term is likely over, but my journey to help others along the way has only just begun.  Together we can get through this.  Together we can fight for more resources and better insurance coverage.  Together we can move forward.

But if we remain at war with one another, we will all suffer.  We will force couples to remain silent.  We will continue to lose friendships and end marriages.  We will spiral into episodes of anxiety and depression that will undoubtedly affect other areas of our lives.

Because when everybody fights, everybody loses.

Let’s make a pact to fight infertility instead of fighting each other.  Let’s make a pact to listen and empathize, even when it’s hard, and offer the support that we seek in return.  Let’s make a pact to fight this enormous war hand in hand until we get to the end.

How has infertility touched your life?

Note:  This post originally appeared on my other site, Practical Parenting, on September 26, 2011.