kind words and irony

I got an email this afternoon from a colleague at work. It seriously made me tear up.

"Foxy … You’ve really been on my mind the last couple of weeks, really ever since you told me about your long awaited success in becoming pregnant.  I could see in your eyes when you shared your news with me just how joyfully anticipated this baby is for you.  I hope with all my heart that your pregnancy proceeds without complication and that you bring a healthy happy baby into the world.  What a wonderful thing for a child, before it is even born, to be so anticipated, wanted and loved.  Please continue to take good care of yourself … you’re looking amazing!"

I don't know this woman particularly well, but I do know that she had had some medical struggles of her own in recent years. I don't know anything about her personal life, if she is married, has kids, or what. I would guess that she is in her early thirties though and wonder if there is a reason why my news has touched her. I know that I need to reply, but I don't have any idea what to say...

Interestingly, I'd asked her boss about his kids - the ones I see in picture frames in his office - sometime last year. He explained that those were his niece and nephew, that he and his wife were not able to have kids. He continued, unprompted by me, to share that they had looked into donor sperm, but never made the decision to proceed, and finally too much time had passed, and it was too late. He was so calm and confident in his explanation, clearly grieving the fact that they had never had kids yet acknowledging that there were options they could have pursued. I listened, but didn't/couldn't reveal our struggle.

He was one of the first people at work who I told about our pregnancy. I did it over the phone because I was afraid that I'd cry. I told him we'd had a long journey to achieve this pregnancy, and that our earlier conversation meant more to me than he could have ever imagined. My voice cracked as I thanked him. He seemed caught off guard, and sincerely touched. 

There has been some internet discussion lately about our need to start talking about infertility more. I find it so ironic that it has only been since we achieved this pregnancy that I have been comfortable revealing our struggle more openly.
PS - ML is still in Vegas with his dad. I flew home on Monday night. After a rocky weekend in the ICU his dad was released to go home Monday night and is doing exceptionally well. The man is amazing.

this and that

Oh my goodness, it is really ICLW again? I totally forgot to sign up this month.

I've written so many posts in my head these past few weeks, but haven't made it to the computer to write anything down. I swear that I've become much more tired in my second trimester than I was in the first. It also feels like I have so many more evening commitments, making for long days.

I think I'll make this a Friday leftovers kind of post, since I really do have so much to catch up on...

First things first, my father in law is really sick. We knew that he had been admitted to the hospital earlier this week because he was having some heart problems. This man is like a medical rockstar though and while we keep close tabs on him when there are medical issues, we don't usually worry. This time was different. ML got a call on Thursday morning from FIL's wife who sounded quite distressed and explained that things were much more serious that FIL had let on. She didn't tell us to come, but it was clear that they were quickly running out of medical options to manage the situation. We immediately got in the car and headed to Vegas. ML's sister received the same call that morning and was on a flight an hour later. Its been a long 30 hours, but FIL is a fighter and has been stable since we arrived. He's in the cardiac ICU heavily sedated but seems to be responding well to the 5 hr surgery he had yesterday (where he flatlined and they had to do CPR to bring him back). ML and his sister stayed at the hospital last night and are there for the night again tonight. ML and his dad are really close and I feel like ML really needs his dad here as he transitions into parenthood.

Because we are camped out in the ICU, I am not in my normal routine and not eating on my normal schedule. Apparently I waited too long between breakfast and lunch today. As we were ordering our lunch my stomach turned and I had to run out of the restaurant to throw up. It was embarrassing, and has left my stomach feeling messed up for the rest of the day. I thought because I made it through the first trimester without tossing my cookies that I was in the clear. No such luck :) (but I am most definitely not complaining :)

We had our 20 week ultrasound on Thursday morning. It was very cool to see the baby again and to know that everything is still looking good. The OB said that the baby is growing on the big side, but that is great as long as I am eating healthy things, which I am. I'd wanted to ask her about home birth with a midwife, but we'd gotten the call from ML's step-mom right before she came into the room, and I was more worried about talking to ML about what was going on with his dad. I really like our OB and wish that we could keep her on our team, so that I can still get the 34 week ultrasound, and as a contingency in case we needed to transfer to the hospital from a home birth. Unfortunately our medical system is not set up to allow for that.

Speaking of homebirth, we met last week with a local homebirth midwife. It felt so right. I can't even remember all of what was discussed, but we talked for about an hour with the MW and her apprentice.  They asked us some questions that led ML to laugh and tell them about our experience to get pregnant. One of the reasons a homebirth feels so right to me is the chance that it gives us to reclaim ownership of this experience. At one point ML asked what kind of supplies we would need for a homebirth, specifically if we would need "one of those tubs". I feel so lucky that he is so open and supportive to these options, that I wouldn't have even thought to bring up. They asked about our expectations for labor and delivery and I realized that so much of my focus has been on the ultimate outcome of holding our child, that I really haven't given much thought to the actual birth. They asked me about my birth fantasy to which I honestly answered that it is simply to end up holding this baby. I told them that I would have had very different answers to these questions five years ago, but so much has changed since then. They felt that we were excellent candidates for homebirth and would love to work with us. We haven't made any decisions, but I think that we are strongly leaning towards the homebirth option.

I got an email today from a new local IF friend who also blogs at She has been through so much, including the death of her premature twins a couple years ago, and just gave IVF another try. She had her beta on Tuesday and I've been waiting anxiously to hear from her. The news is good and she is officially pregnant! I am so excited, and nervous, for her. Please stop by and send some peace and love her way.

I also want to send out a big huge congratulations to Katie at I LOVE her blog, my heart breaks for her journey, and I am so proud of her for winning the 2011 RESOLVE Hope Award for best blog. Go Katie! May this year bring many other wonderful surprises to this awesome lady!


Meeting my Congressman

Dear Barbara Collura, Executive Director - RESOLVE,

I met with Congressman Awesome, and a member of his staff, this morning. We spent about 45 minutes talking in his District Office.
I'd sent him the Infertility 101 Factsheet and Family Act Factsheet in advance of our meeting. He'd had a chance to read thru the material and review it with his chief of staff. He explained that it was unlikely that this legislation would successfully pass through the Senate, since it would set a precedent for other similar bills to follow.
He felt that we would have more success working on advocacy at the state level, or as part of federal health reform, or even as part of federal tax reform efforts that he sees coming in the next 5-10 years.
I asked him about sponsoring similar legislation in the House, and while he supported the concept, he did not think that that a tax credit for any specific medical procedure would be successful.
I shared a little bit about the experience that my husband and I have had trying to build our family. He was empathetic and commented on the fact that people don't talk much about infertility. I explained that a year earlier I would not have been able to sit and have this conversation because I would be crying and incoherent. Besides, I said that people don't normally talk about how they conceived their children as it is a highly personal and private matter. I explained that it was only now that I am 19 weeks pregnant, thanks to the miracles of IVF and a retirement savings account, that I was able to speak about the pain grief and loss of our journey.
He suggested that we could write off medical expenses that exceeded 7.5% of our income. I replied that we'd spent nearly 50% of our gross income on medical expenses last year and appreciated the medical deduction.
At one point in the conversation he used the term "infertility and other exotic diseases". I didn't draw attention specifically to that statement but tried to emphasize the prevalence of infertility. I compared infertility to breast cancer in its prevalence, but reiterated that infertility is usually suffered silently.
He reiterated the suggestion to work on this at a State level, especially considering that we have a progressive insurance commissioner in office now. He also suggested that I lobby my employer, the County, to provide infertility coverage as part of our benefits. My boss is a County Supervisor and he was sure that she could get our coverage expanded. I assured him that I was working with the County on this issue, but that the county contracts with the State CalPers plan and we actually had little local control over the benefits offered.
I also tried to emphasize how lucky my husband and I were to have access to the funds necessary to receive treatment. I explained that most young couples in their 20's and early 30s who are experiencing infertility do not have a savings or retirement account to finance their treatment. I told him that my husband and I have spent $50,000 on testing, diagnosis, and treatment.
Finally we talked a little about the medical side of infertility. I urged him to support additional research in this area. The treatments that we used were not available 10 years ago, and we would have benefited greatly from treatments that will be available 10 years from now. I mentioned the CDC workplan and thanked him for the SART statistics that track IVF success rates. I explained that the costs of infertility could be much better controlled if there were mandates for coverage. In our case we chose to transfer two embryos because our costs would be the same for one or two, however if we had multiples the cost of a high risk pregnancy and NICU care would be borne by our insurance company. The cost of one IVF cycle that limits the number of embryos to transfer would be significantly less than the cost of a baby who requires the NICU.
We also talked a little bit about my work on other political issues, namely fighting for the inclusion on maternity coverage as a basic benefit of all health insurance plans, and my paid work for our local County Supervisor.
There was more to our discussion, but I think that this highlights the most relevant parts. Please feel free to call if you have any questions or would like me to elaborate more.
Thank you again for championing these visits and for providing the materials to facilitate this visit.
I would like to plan a follow up visit to meet with Dave Jones the California State Insurance Commissioner. Is there a chance that a RESOLVE staff or lobbyist would be able to join me for such a meeting?
take care,


Defining Infertility

I joined Mel's newest community project, the Prompt-ly listserve a few weeks back and have really enjoyed the conversation, links to interesting articles, and prompts for post topics. If you have the time, I'd definitely recommend checking it out.

One of the recent topics (Article: Comments on the Childless/Childfull Women Piece in HuffPohas been about the term "infertile" and who should be allowed to claim that definition. I didn't read the article that started the conversation, about a single older woman who wanted children but never had them and claimed that she was situationally infertile. The discussion that followed however has made me feel a little bit uncomfortable. 

If I've learned anything on this journey it has been to have compassion for others. I know what this experience has been like for me, but there is no way that I can fully understand or grasp or judge what this experience is like for others. I may not know someone else's experience, but I do know the pain, the grief, the sadness, the hopelessness, the loss that comes with these types of life-altering experiences. I have a newfound appreciation that compassion is simply the acknowledgement of another's experience. The compassion that I have been so lovingly shown here in this community is beyond incredible - people simply meeting me, without judgement, wherever I was at any point on this journey to offer me encouragement and support. 

I suppose that the Prompt-ly discussion is more theoretical in nature, and on some level necessary, but seems to have an undertone of judgement that lacks the compassion that I associate with this community. In essence the discussion is about who should be allowed to use the term 'infertile', and does the use of that term by certain populations render the term less meaningful for other populations. 

Simply defined infertile is the inability to reproduce.

By this definition the woman in the article would not qualify as infertile, since she may very well be able to reproduce given different circumstances. 

By this definition, I would not qualify as infertile either. Given different circumstances I may very well be able to get pregnant and carry a child naturally. 

I think this is the part that I am having a hard time with in the Prompt-ly thread. I am in deeply in love with and married to the most incredible man. A man who is infertile. Those are my circumstances. WE are unable to conceive naturally... I am unable to carry a child who shares his genetic make-up... How dare anyone imply that his infertility is not my infertility. 

I get it that our experience is different from a couple who has female factor infertility, or a couple who has suffered for far longer than we have... or for that matter a friend who is deeply upset that she is still not pregnant after 6 months of trying, or a military wife who grieves the opportunity to share her bed with her husband for extended periods of time... I get that we all have our own journey. 

Its just that getting into a debate about the definition of a term that is so emotionally charged hits a nerve with me. Language is powerful, and being on the same page is important, especially as Mel points out in the attempt to promote legislation that recognizes infertility as a disease, however I would love to think that somehow we can engage in this conversation in a way that embodies a compassion and lack of judgement that I know is so valued by this community.  


The Diaper Bag Debate

Among the things that I dreamt about during our long journey to become parents was the diaper bag that I would someday own.

Eight years ago when my friend and colleague came down pregnant, she was given the cutest Petunia Pickle Bottom diaperbag. It was gorgeous and decadent. While on the one had I thought it was insane that a mom would carry diapers around in such an expensive dry clean only bag, yet on the other hand I loved the way that she appeared so classy and put together when she carried that bag. When everything in her life was turned upside down as a new mom, she had this one beautiful item that went with her everywhere. I was enamored.

Then two years ago when Bestie was pregnant she was given the most beautiful handmade floral diaper bag. It was such an amazing gift. Bright and cheerful, unique, and so full of personality. She carries it with her everywhere and it always makes me smile when I see it. It also made me long for the day when I would have my own beautiful bag that represented my new role as a mother.

One of the first registry items that I started looking for, as soon as we actually were able to begin cycle treatments was a diaper bag. I have a bookmarked tab with all of the amazing bags that I’ve found. Its like this bag represents so much more than a vehicle to carry supplies. This bag represents the achievement of a dream that I thought I would never experience.

Sounds good right?
So here’s where the debate comes into play...

I’ve been working on our registry, doing the research to figure out what we really need, what we already have, and getting it all posted online so that its ready for distribution. There were a few items that I needed ML to weigh in on, the 521 plan, the dog barrier for the car, and a rug that matched our home decor. And since I assumed that he would not want to carry my beautiful feminine diaper bag, I suggested that he choose a daddy bag for himself.

Oh dear...

Mr Practical simply can not understand why we would possibly need two bags. In his mind a diaper bag is simply a practical vehicle to carry supplies. If he had it his way, we’d use an old backpack.

Generally he is having a hard time with the idea of a registry at all, thinking that we should just wait until the baby gets here and decide then what, if anything, we really need. He is not a ‘stuff’ person, and I suspect feel slightly uncomfortable with the idea of asking people for things.

The issue came up one evening last week after I reviewed the few registry items that I needed his help with. He balked, I got upset but was able to calmly articulate that I’d been working hard on this registry, that I was doing this for us, and that I needed his support. Dutifully, he said the right words to offer his support and the next day set up the 521 account, researched and chose a dog barrier and baby rug, and even selected a daddy diaper bag for the registry.

But the discussion continues... He grilled Bestie last night about her diaper bag, her backup diaper bag, her husbands use of the main bag, and the need/functionality of multiple bags. I hadn’t prepped her for the discussion and so suggests that we simply get a gender-neutral simply functional bag to share. ML got a big smile on his face and declared victory.

Stay tuned as I am sure that this discussion and debate will continue. I am not giving up that easily!

Oh and in case you are interested. I used the Alternative Gift Registry at Search “Baby Askew” to check out the list.

xoxo -


Besties Blessingway

I hosted Besties Blessingway this weekend. It was so beautiful. and felt so different from last time.

I cried at both events. For very different reasons.

The day was beautiful. We gathered outside on a sunny patio surrounded by a private oak forest looking out over a little valley. When I drove up to the house I was greeted by a mama deer and her two fawn.

The guest of honor arrived a little late, which gave me some extra time to set up the chairs, yoga mats, and prepare a special foot bath for the mama.

My mom had helped me prepare a program for the morning. We had special roles for everyone in the circle, with readings, songs, blessings, and sharing.

I felt so good sitting in the sunshine, next to bestie, with so many women I love within my view. We were there to bestow blessings on Bestie as she prepares to welcome her second child, a son. However I felt blessed to be in that space, and to know that, this time, we are on this journey together.

Whereas last time, when we gathered to bless her as she prepared to become a mother, fighting back the tears of sadness had me so choked up that I was unable to speak the love and joy that I none-the-less felt for her. This time, I felt at such peace joyfully sharing my blessings for a healthy pregnancy and birth, telling bestie what an honor it has been to watch her so beautifully mother her daughter, and sharing my joy that we finally get to experience this together.

As hard as it has been to believe that this pregnancy is real, it is moments like yesterday that I am overcome with the reality. For whatever happens, wherever this journey takes us, this is real today. and I am so overcome with gratitude. For being able to experience yesterday in such a warm, joyful, perfect way. For the expressions of joy that others express when they learn of our blessing. For my sweet mama and sister who are so lovingly planning a shower for me. For all of it, I am so grateful.

I thought about what I might like for my blessingway. My mom has been asking me, but it felt too soon to think about it. Lying in the sunshine yesterday, as we finished a guided yoga practice, I thought about the ways that I need our blessing to be about ML and I as a couple, to honor the journey that we've been on together to get here. A blessingway for me will be as much about honoring the transition to motherhood as it is about honoring this experience. I also thought about who I might want with me, and so many of your come to mind. One way or another, I do believe that I will find a way to make that happen, at least symbolically. It felt so good to be able to let these thoughts fill my head.

When Bestie shared her love for me, her compassion for what we've been through, her joy at getting to experience this pregnancy together, her respect for the strength that she sees in me, my heart filled with love and my eyes with tears. How I ever ended up with the friendship and love and respect of someone so amazing as her, well, I feel lucky beyond belief.

It really couldn't have been a more perfect day.

Opening Circle - Grammy J
  • Please join us to create this circle of love and support for B. Let us join hands and together take three deep breaths. 
  • A blessing-way is a ceremony that creates a sacred and safe environment where the mother can explore the challenges and joys that lie before her as she approaches birthing and mothering, surrounded by the most important women in her life she gains a sense of power, confidence, and support that will help her rise to motherhood.
Nurturing the Mother - Foxy
  • Part of our blessingway today includes nurturing the mother by making a comfortable space for B to relax and accept the love and support that we are here today to offer her. As B's family grows and she takes on the new role of nurturing another child, she will be able to call on her own experiences of being nurtured, by her Mother, and all of the other women in her life. A foot bath honors a woman's “own two feet” in which she will have to stand to care for another human being. It definitely soothes the mothers feet to prepare her for a peaceful journey.
  • We’ve prepared a warm foot bath for B. Please help us make her comfortable as she relaxes in this space.  
Opening Song - S
We All Came to Welcome You, We all came to your birth
We all came to welcome you, To welcome you to earth.
And I was there to love you, 
I was there to love you, I was there to love you
And give my body for your quick and easy entrance here
From heaven’s open door
Introductions - A
We will each introduce ourselves and share our connection to B.  As we introduce ourselves we will say the names of our sisters, mothers, grandmothers, and daughters. 
Reading - K
I am a willow tree, strong, yet fluid, graceful.
I can bend with the wind, but my roots are tough, indestructible.
Opening to the birth of my child, is flowing with the wind:
from a soft and gentle breeze, to a stormy gale, 
back to a soft and gentle breeze.
My body is strong, but flexible.
It is my friend, it knows how to open.
I am a friend to my body, eating well, walking, and loving myself.
I shall give birth safely, freely, openly...
among my loved and trusted ones.
I am the willow, flexible, beautiful, resilient,
endowed with the power of surrender
to the wind rustling through my leaves, my branches.
My roots reach deep into mother earth, anchored in her strength
I bring forth life, in joy!
Offering your blessing - Auntie A
This is an opportunity for everyone to share a wish or a blessing for B as her family grows. This is a time to share wisdom, dreams, and wishes with B. As each person offers their blessing, they will give B a symbol of their blessing in the form of a flower. 
Yoga - B
Please join us for a special session of yoga. 
Reading - Auntie L
To Our Children by mary jane paustenbach
These children of ours- so bright and so young, 
will bloom into the flowers of our love for them,
will grow so bright and strong to nurture their own wee ones,
to love and be loved as we are loved and love them, 
until year after year we mingle the generations upon
generations of love.
Closing Circle - Nano G
Before we close this circle today we will take hands and B will pass a squeeze around the circle. As B approaches her delivery, please send her your best thoughts for a calm, productive, and safe delivery.
Closing Song - G
Ancient Mother I hear you calling
Ancient Mother I hear your song
Ancient Mother I hear your laughter
Ancient Mother I taste your tears
Creating a symbol for Baby Boy - Auntie A
We will be welcoming baby boy into the world by decorating unique onsies for him to wear. B's son will be wrapped in our love and affection when he wears the clothes that we decorate today.
Please join us for a light breakfast. 


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