Peace Within

"May today there be peace within. 

May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. 

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. 

May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. 

May you be content with yourself just the way you are. 

Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love

It is there for each and every one of us."

I've received this poem via email a few times of the past few years, always at a time when it meant so much to me, so much more than the sender could have ever intended or known. I start my cycle today about a week before I was expecting it. It has me in a slight state of panic because I start BC with this cycle. I thought I had a few more days before the IVF plans were 'for real'. But here we are. We start today. And this perfect poem was waiting for me in my inbox tonight. May I have peace within.

My heart is with my friend StarFishKittyDreams this week. Sending her so much love and comfort and hope. and peace within.


My March IVF Cycle

So, yeah, i don't know why, but this post has been next to impossible to write...

We decided to do a March IVF cycle.

There, I said it, on my blog. I really don't know why it was so hard to write that.

After our last negative IUI we were really disappointed. It really hit us harder than we expected. and so we talked, ML brought it up actually, that we skip ahead to ivf, or at least ask the dr about it. I called and they got in in for an appt the next day.

The plan had been to do 4 iui's before moving forward with ivf. But it turns out that we just can't bring ourselves to have any more negatives than necessary. We needed better odds.

We signed up (and paid 50%) of a two cycle package. Two ivf's plus any fets's. While I am relieved on soem level, I am totally freaked out on another level. This feels like such a HUGE step to be taking. I want it, but it just feels SO overwhelming. I am honestly having a hard time getting my head around it, and thus a hard time actually posting about it here.

I had my pre-ivf ultrasound last week, and totally fell apart at the office visit. ML wasn't able to come with me to the appt, and as I sat there, waiting for the dr, with a paper gown, waiting by myself, for what felt like forever, my mind got the best of me. By the time the dr came in I was in a state of near panic, and started crying as soon as the exam was over. The office staff responded heroically, but it was too late.

At our appt with the IVF nurse this week, the dr came out and informed ML that he was required to attend all future appointments. We have our calendar, the meds start on March 8th, and the ER will be sometime the week of March 17th... is this really for real?

So, yeah, thats what I've been NOT writing about. but I just did. because I am that strong. I can do this. I know I can.


(And due to this new plan I won't be making it to Vegas for the awesome infertile weekend. But I would love, more now than ever, a Central/Northern California meet-up sometime in February. Anyone interested?)

Meet me in Vegas?

I read a blurb on LFCA about a Vegas retreat for infertile ladies that was in the works. I love Vegas and have wanted so desperately to have a chance to meet and spend some time with other ladies who understood this journey. I have dreamt  of organizing such an event myself, but haven't been un to the task. I found my way back to the post  referenced in LFCA that introduced the retreat and had shivers as I read it.

An excerpt from that post by Shelby at The Great Big If says: 
I invite all IF ladies. Whether you are newly diagnosed and have not been through treatment, whether you are in the throes of treatment, whether you have a kid or two at home, whether you have chosen to live child free, whether you are in the beginning stages of adoption or are newly paper pregnant, whether you have no idea where you are, or anywhere in between all that I've mentioned (or even a combination of the above), I invite you to enjoy the partnership and connection of those who 'get you' much more than many do.  There is already an amazing group of IF ladies who have committed to this and they alone are with the trip out. So if IF has found a place in your life, I know you could use a place to unwind. Let the ladies coming to FIF 2011 help you do just that!

If you're seriously interested in joining us, please let me know at redrivershel at gmail dot com. Everyone is coordinating (ie paying for) their own travel and lodging arrangements, but I want to make sure that we all keep in touch.

I immediately emailed her to let her know that I want to come, depending on our treatment timeline, of course. Vegas is a (relatively cheap) direct flight from almost anywhere in the county, and there are so many fine places to stay and be entertained, as well as some world class spa's that I've been wanting to visit. 

Shelby is advertising a ladies weekend, but there is a good chance that ML will join me, since I don't travel by myself so well, and we have a voucher for the Wynn :) My plan is to be pregnant by mid March, so there will be no libations for me, just lots of relaxation by the pool and at the spa.

There are so many of you who I've met online this past year who I feel so close to, who I would give anything to spend a weekend with, talking and sharing beyond the barrier of this computer screen. I know that it is asking a lot, but if it possible, I'd love to extend an invitation to YOU to come along. It would be the highlight of my year (behind my upcoming pregnancy, of course!) to meet you in person. 

Ohhh, I am excited!

Reality TV Junkie

yep, I admit it. I am a reality tv junkie.

Katie wrote a post curiously asking "WHAT on EARTH is the obsession in the IF community with shows like Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant?"

Oh Katie, if only I knew the answer to that question. What I do know is that I do watch both of those shows. (Toddlers and Tierra's is another guilty indulgence.)  I don't know why I watch. I just know that I do. I record them on the dvr and watch them on the nights that I can't fall asleep, and sometimes on the weekends in the morning when I don't want to get out of bed.

I watched the entire first season of 16 and Pregnant the morning before I had to go to a good friends baby shower. I stayed curled up in bed until after the shower had started, watching tyler and caitlen choose adoption for their daughter, with a pillow wet from tears. (and then arrived late to the shower that I also left early from.) After watching Ashley's episode in the second season, I spent a whole day of Christmas break reading her blog.

I've thought long and hard about a response to Katie's question, and can't seem to come up with a good answer.

Maybe it is because these shows make me feel. Maybe because I live vicariously thru them. Maybe because I just want what they have so much. Maybe because they make me cry. Maybe because it reminds me that we all have our struggles and maybe because I feel like having a child when you are not ready is an ironically similar life crisis to being told that you can't have a child when you are ready.

Maybe these are reason why I watch, but none of them really seem very compelling. Most of the comments in response to Katie's post were from ladies who don't watch those shows, so I didn't get any clues there.

I know that I am not the only one who watches. Does anyone else have a better answer?


Bragging is cool, right?

So much for anonymity...  I was featured on the front page of our local Sunday newspaper! (the link will only be active for a limited time only, and then I will reclaim my privacy on this blog, so please don't repost the link or my personal info.) But I couldn't resist sharing!!!

Ironically, it was an article about gender discrimination in the individual insurance market, specifically the exclusion of maternity coverage from most plans. In California, we are celebrating the end of gender discrimination pricing thanks to a new law that went into effect this month. National health care reform will provide the same protection and also require the inclusion of maternity coverage on all insurance plans throughout the county in 2014.

Before we even started trying to conceive, I started researching local OB's, thinking that I would find one who I could start building a relationship with via my annuals. It turned out that my individual insurance plan didn't cover any OB's in my county. I figured that I could just get a different plan, only to discover that most plans excluded maternity coverage. It was apparently a loophole exploited by the individual market. The more questions I asked, the more bizarre the answers got. (There was a state program that would cover maternity costs once I was pregnant, but only if ML and I got divorced...)

I really couldn't understand how it was possible that being a woman could be such an explicit liability.

I ended up getting connected with a lobbyist who worked with the state Commission on the Status of Women and the ACOG. She connected me with a legislator who was sponsoring legislation to close the loophole. I testified on two different occasions to the Assembly Health Committee. This is now the fifth(?) article that I've been quoted in. The issue needed a face and a personal story and essentially adopted me as their human interest story.

It is pretty incredible that this law has passed in California. It took the voices of many, and I am proud that my voice was one of them.

It is also ironic that this is part of my story. I just hope that someday I will have the confidence and strength to add my voice to the infertility awareness and insurance coverage movement.

Until then, I'm on the front page of our local newspaper!!!


Lurking Welcome

I totally missed International Blog Delurking Week, but really like the idea that there is a special effort once a year to encourage silent readers to find their voice. I know that for a long time before I started this blog I read and drew strength from the stories of others without ever leaving a comment behind. It took me a long time to feel strong enough to find my own voice and to be able to join the conversation. The women whose stories I followed but never commented on may never know what they meant to me, but I will be forever grateful to them for allowing me to lurk on their sites. 
Starting this blog was a HUGE step for me in regaining a sense of control over this journey. It gave me a place to share my my thoughts and emotions. and then, when I started receiving comments from other women who understood me, well that was like the most amazing thing ever. I went from feeling so isolated and alone, to feeling like I'd found a place where I was implicitly understood. It was amazing. 

I do love comments. I love receiving them, and I also love giving them. I always try to follow the links back to the blogs of those who comment, but there are a few of you who don't have blog or a way to send you an email from your blogger profile. I love your comments, and would love a way to continue the comment conversation. For anyone who reads silently and isn't comfortable 'publicly' commenting, feel free to email me at

I guess what I really what to say is WELCOME LURKERS! All of you. Any of you. Anyone who finds comfort or strength from my story is welcome here, whether you comment or not.  

And finally, this post wouldn't be complete without 'replying' to a few specific commenters... 

Rebekah - Sorry about your recent negative :(  I really love your comments! Do you have a blog? Your blogger profile says that it is 'not available'... Or would you be comfortable sharing an email address so that I can reply directly to your comments? 

Anonymous - Thanks so much for your recent comment. It was the first anon comment that I've received, and the first time that I actually thought about the silent readers who might be following my story. Your story is pretty incredible. Congratulations on your Twins! 


The Grateful Said

Have you seen Mel's newest community project: The Grateful Said!  I LOVE it!

I knew exactly which comment to submit. I love all of the comments that I've received this past year, (I really, really mean that,) but there was one that really meant so much to me when I received it and has continued to serve as a source of strength and encouragement. 

Thank you again Augusta for the loving supportive words you left for me this summer on my "My Scarlet Pain" post. 

On a related, yet not totally, topic I recently stumbled upon Mel's "How to Leave a Good Comment" post series.  (Part 1, Part 2)

My most wonderful ML often asks me what I'm doing as I sit on the couch with my feet up typing away on my laptop. More often than not I'm commenting. ML now knows all about the special commenting week and also how much I love the comments that I receive. 

Since I love commenting so much and since Mel posed some discussion questions in her Good Comments posts, I am sharing my answers with you. 

What does commenting mean to you Why do you comment?  Hmmm. To be honest, I see comments as a place for me to process what I have read. I read a post and it gets me things, and right there is a space that is inviting me to share those thoughts. So I do it for myself, because writing is such an amazing way to organize my thoughts.  There is an element of giving back too. This online community has given me SO much, and for SO long I took without offering anything back, now I have the strength to pay it forward. And finally, I feel like some of you have become friends, and commenting is kind of like how we chat with each other.

What are your thoughts on new commenters (if they do so thoughtfully) especially those outside your experience (for instance, someone commenting on an adoption post though they’re doing IUIs)? What about long-time commenters leaving simple comfort on a post when their experience is far outside your own?  I love new commenters. I love long-time commenters. Whatever their experience, if they are moved by something that I have written and feel compelled to leave a comment, I welcome it. I know that it is hard sometimes when I'm on a new blog to know exactly what the history is and what the personality of the author is, and I do try to be a bit more careful in what I comment on. My general expectation is that a new commenter will read the summary that I have posted on my sidebar before commenting, so that they know what our diagnosis and treatment plan are. I try to do the same, but sometime there isn't much info to work with. Other times there just aren't any words that express the support that we want to give, and in that case, I think that a very simple "thinking about you" is appropriate to at least let the author know that they have been heard. Almost every comment I've ever read, on my blog or others, has been made with good intentions and deep compassion, and I so appreciate the way that this community supports its members. 

Do you ever close your comment box on a post?  I never have, but I totally reserve the right to do so! :) and I totally respect the choice of anyone to close their comments at any time for any reason. (Same thing goes for deleting comments. This is my space and I wouldn't hesitate for a minute to delete a comment that made me feel uncomfortable.)

Do you feel comfortable commenting on a new blog and what makes you feel like a comment is welcome vs. strangers keep out? After I started writing, there wasn't anything that could stop me. I leave comments on almost every blog I visit - maybe not every post I read. I love the 'conversation'. There is almost always something that the author has said that I can connect with and that gets me thinking about this journey in a new way. I guess that there are times when I am on a blog that has been around for a long time and has its own cadre of "friends" and I hesitate to join the conversation, but I usually get over myself and leave a comment anyway. The thing that really makes me feel 'welcome' is after I leave a comment and the original blogger comes back to my blog and leaves a comment. 

Do you think there should be a timetable for commenting?  nope, no timetable. no pressure. There are days and weeks when I have comments to share, and other times when i just don't. I think that comments should flow like conversation. Sometimes there is something to say and sometimes there isn't, and sometimes there is more to say later. 

Is it ever too late to leave a comment on a post if you don’t close your comment box after a given amount of time?  Oh my gosh, I've left a gazillon comments long after the post was written. I gain so much out of the stories that are shared here and often that includes reading back from the beginning of a blog. When a post hits home for me, I always try to leave a little note, no matter how long ago it was originally posted. 

What do you think about short comments that simply express sorrow or happiness for you?  I love them. I love the feeling of not being alone in my emotions. I love knowing that there are others out there who hear me and who understand. Sometimes the things I share here are not shared anywhere else, and the comments I receive are feedback that let me know I am in good company. 

What is some other advice you would offer on how to leave a good comment?
Compassionate, sincere, relevant, honest. Be those things, and your comments will be amazing and perfect. 

Do you hate the "Captcha" spam deterrent technology? (Mel didn't ask this question but I've been wanting to comment on it, so I'm adding it to the list here.) I HATE those captcha things. I get them wrong all the time and actually lose comments regularly because I am too lame at completing the captcha correctly. I don't have one on my comments and have never received a spam... Are those things really necessary? 

In closing, Three Cheers for Mel and The Grateful Said.  What was YOUR favorite comment from 2010?


The Bank Ad

I came across this commercial the other day and have kept the tab up in my browser since. I think that means that I have to share it, because clearly it means something to me.

(Unfortunately I can't remember whose blog I found it on originally, because I would love to give credit where it is due. If you are reading this, please leave a comment and thank you for sharing this!)

It is a little commercial for a bank that tells the story of a couple trying to conceive. In such a short little clip they do a great job of touching on the emotions of this journey.

On the homefront, ML and I are feeling pretty discouraged after this last failed IUI. On the one hand we realize that we've only had two months of 'trying', but on the other hand if feels like the financial and emotional bleeding just needs to stop already. We met with RE on Thursday to talk about our options, and, well, I need a little time to process everything, but I think that we might be taking a detour from the plan.

I'll be thinking and writing and drinking mimosas today, so another post will be coming soon.


Mimosas, My Friends?

No miracle for us this month. 
So instead of a champagne toast, I’m having a mimosa.
Would you care to join me?
It is what it is, once again.
We are okay. Bummed, but alright. 
The third time is a charm, right?


My Infertility Bookshelf

I introduced the "2011 Book Exchange" earlier this week. I hope that you all consider participating!

There are a few books that I will be keeping on my bookshelf, books that I would highly recommend. If you have any that you'd highly recommend, let me know. I'd love to add them to my collection. I am also starting to think about the books that I will someday share with my child to help us tell them the story of their conception. If you have any suggestions for those books please let me know.

My Favorite Infertility Books 
Navigating the Land of IF by Melissa Fordmy big old stone-soup-of-a-project book

This is my favorite. I've shared it with my mom, my sister, and my bestie. The awesome Melissa Ford covered all of the things that I was struggling with and made me feel that I had a trusted friend to advise me about how to deal with finding myself stranded on the IF island. I got this book before I found Mel and this online community, and I knew that I'd found someone who understood and could help me explain what this experience was like to others. Anyone (infertile of not!) who doesn't yet have this book should buy one ASAP. 

Helping the Stork  (Vercollone, Moss, and Moss c1997)

This is one of only two books that I have found that deals with the choice to use donor insemination. I read it in anticipation that it might be our path to a family, and appreciated all of the different bits of advice it offered. It really helped me start to get my head around DS as an option and what it might mean for us as a family. Now that we are headed down this path, I want to read it again, and see if I can get ML to read it too. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who might be facing this choice.

Mommies, Daddies, Donors, Surrogates (Ehrensaft c2005)

This is the only other book that I have found that is focused exclusively on the issues facing families who grow with the help of others. I didn't like it as much as "Helping the Stork" but it does bring up some good things to think about and consider if this is going to be your path. 

Unsung Lullabies ( Jaffe, Diamond, and Diamond c2005)

It took me a while before I was ready to read this book. But when I was, It gave me some of the tools I needed to explore how I was feeling about this experience and to understand that these feelings are rooted deeply in who I am. I had to take this book in small doses because reading it gave me a lot to think about. It is one that I will keep on my bookself and come back to on occasion as I feel ready to do more inner-work and continue processing the complex emotions that this journey brings with it. 

Whats on your bookshelf that you LOVE?


Why i think i'm pregnant

I am 13 day since my IUI. I love thinking that I could be pregnant. My beta is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

These are the reasons why I think I am pregnant...
  • my boobs are sore/achy
  • my nipples are really sore/hurty (this is not normal for me)
  • my lower back and hips are a little achy
  • i am extra thirsty and i can't drink enough to make my lips not dry
  • i feel lightheaded/dizzy (I attribute this one to the estrogen)
  • my pee smells different
  • i've had just a few mild cramps and twinges
I am feeling good. Looking forward to these next few days of loving my body and my (imaginary?) pregnancy symptoms.

love to all,

A Book Exchange

I had some time over the holiday to get some cleaning done. I now have a pile of things to send away to goodwill, and another pile of things that need to be returned to their home of origin. 

I also have a small pile of books that I'd like to pass along to some of my bloggy friends. I'm thinking that maybe this could become an informal book exchange of sorts. Not a one-to one exchange, just a chance for me to post the books I have to share and others to do the same, and somehow all the books end up with good new homes. 

So if you want to participate, just leave a comment with a link to your "Book Exchange" blog post. I'll update this post to list everyone who is participating with links to your "virtual bookshelf". In your "Book Exchange" blog post be sure to include a link back to this post, a list of the books you have for exchange, and your email address so that interested parties can send you their mailing information. The books on my list are mostly infertility related, but this exchange is not limited to IF books. 

Introducing the most awesome 2011 Book Exchange participants:
1. Foxy
 2. YOU!!!

And now, Here is my Virtual Bookshelf...

What To Do When you Can't Get Pregnant 
(Potter and Hanin c2005)
Rated almost 5 stars with 50 reviews on Amazon.

This is a great book for someone who is just beginning the process and needs a general overview of what might lie ahead of them. It has lots of good information, but is a few years old now. 

(Sterling and Best-Boss c2009)
Rated 5 stars with 4 reviews on Amazon

I was actually a little disappointed with this book. I was expecting more details about the reasonable costs of procedures, how to navigate the billing and insurance codes, and how to negotiate discounts with our clinic.  It has much more general information about budgeting in general.

Overcoming Male Infertility
(Schover and Thomas c2000)
Rated nearly 5 stars with 9 reviews on Amazon

This was one of the first books that I bought when we got out azoos diagnosis. It has some good general information, and helped me form some of our initial questions. It is another good book for someone just starting on the journey of testing.

So if you'd like one of my books, send me an email with your mailing address to And thanks for helping me finnish this clean-put process!


Happy New Year - A look back

When we got married in March of 2004 we were immediately inundated with the next big question - "When are you going to have a baby?". We knew that we weren't yet ready to start a family, not really sure when we would be, but knew that we had to have an answer to this question.

Not so much because it was our plan, but because we knew that the question wouldn't go away until we answered it, we started telling people - "5 years. We'll start our family in 2009." It was awesome. We pulled it off with such confidence that everyone backed off. Five years felt like a ton of time.

We've never used real birth control, because the pill always made me feel sick (and for whatever reason the idea of controlling my hormones like that just kind of freaked me out.) We used condoms for a long time, then sometime in 2005 or 2006 switched to the "pull and pray" method (aka withdrawal.) It worked for us, and while we weren't planning to get pregnant, I think that I was ready, and we both knew that it was a possibility. This method basically put ML in control of determining when the pull the trigger, so to speak.

After a couple of, what I thought at the time were going to be fateful, moments in 2007, we abandoned any method of prevention in January of 2008. I was grateful that we'd 'bought' ourselves this time to privately share the love and excitement. Everyone assumed that we were waiting until 2009 to start trying. I assumed that we would be welcoming a new addition to our family in 2009.

2009 was supposed to be such a great year.

Instead, 2009 started us on our infertility journey. I started a challenging new job. ML remained out of work watching the job market collapse (after losing his job in Nov 2008). We got ML's Azoospermia diagnosis in July, in September my bestie gave birth to little one, then a biopsy showed that there was no sperm production in October, and over Thanksgiving our beloved dog got sick and after a week in the Veterinary ICU we had to say goodbye. It was like we had become a punching bag and life just kept hitting us. I actually walked around holding my breath and physically bracing myself for the next hit.

I counted the hours until 2009 was behind us.

All I asked of 2010 was that the hits stopped coming at us. I didn't expect much. I was in shock from the trauma of 2009 and just needed a break. And all things considered, 2010 offered me just what I needed. I reorganized my support team so that it provided me the strength that I needed. I gained so many new coping skills, and have slowly regained control over my life.

The end of 2010 has brought work for ML (with a few additional projects lining up for 2011) and the chance for us to finally begin actually trying to start our family.  I really do have so much to be grateful for.

We have been able to afford all of the treatment costs we've incurred this year. Which is amazing really since ML was out of work for so long, but somehow we've done it without eating into our savings. Don't get me wrong, it does make me a little sick to see that 25% of our gross income has been spent on infertility treatment, but the stronger feeling is of gratitude. I am beyond grateful that our choices have not been driven by financial restrictions.

My relationship with ML is stronger than ever. I love him more than I ever thought possible. We've been through so much together in these past couple years. The stress of infertility, of male factor infertility, coupled with unemployment definitely qualified for the "worse" portion of our vows!

I have a newfound sense of self. A confidence that I am stronger than I ever gave myself credit for being. This journey is no longer happening to me, it is mine, it is who I am. And while I may not be able to control the things that happen, I can control the way that I frame them.

This is my story to write.

Happy New Year.


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