*Written April 28, 2017 – in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week
The hardest thing I’ve ever done was create life. The hardest thing I’ve ever done was create Leif. (To my non-Danish friends, the Nordic name Leif is pronounced Life).
Now that you know the inspiration for our baby boy’s name, I ask you to send out your prayers, wishes and good vibes to the patient souls out there still waiting to start or complete their families. National Infertility Awareness Week – every year, the last week of April – is a week dedicated to them. My people.
Last July, we took home our miracle boy, and what a delight he is. Sometimes I think he knows how hard we fought for him, so he tells himself to be extra cute for us. And yet still. I grieve for those still waiting for their baby. For me, the hardest part of my infertility was not just grappling with the darkness, day in and day out. It was explaining how I felt to others. To the unknowing who didn’t share this struggle.
So here’s what infertility was like, for me. It was homesickness. It was longing. Before I had Leif, I knew Leif. My whole life had been spent preparing to give my heart and soul to a child. When you face infertility, you feel like the universe has played a cruel trick on you. That everyone around you would get the gift of babies, except you. You. You, who wanted it desperately from a very young age. You, who needed a baby like you needed oxygen or water. You. You’re going to have to wait. And maybe, you’re never going to get it.
You have seen your baby, but your baby cannot find its way to you. And you ache, and your arms feel heavy, because they cannot hold the baby that you miss.
That is the heartache I carried that we channeled into something useful. It was the fuel powering us through so many terrifying, zombie-like rounds of endless IVF.
For us, we needed to keep going, always. Even long past the moment when the good doctors and well-intended friends advised us to move on with life. Every needle in my body, every sob-fest into Martin’s arms was part of a process I needed to experience.
Because for me, the only thing worse than waiting and wondering if my baby was going to find me was giving up the search for him.
Infertility is a tough one, guys. It’s not sexy….it’s not rare. It’s not malignant or fatal. It is underfunded and rarely talked about in polite circles. It’s considered by some, somewhat cruelly, a “First World problem.”
But it hurts, and it’s hard.
I’ll always be someone who has or had or still has and will always have infertility.
I just got lucky. I got Leif.
Guilty blogger here! Baby Leif is now 10 months old, so this film is long over-due! My apologies. I put this together in honor of his upcoming birthday, and it felt only right to share it with my amazing blog subscribers.
We named our baby Leif, which is an old Nordic Viking name. The Danish pronunciation is Life. I sort of love that. We tried for many years to create Life, and now Leif is here.
I want to thank you for the love, encouragement and hope you gave me during the most trying time of my life — the hours, weeks, months and years leading up to his birth. THANK YOU FOR WALKING THROUGH THIS JOURNEY WITH US. Thank you for praying for Martin and me. Thank you for supporting and inspiring us. I’m not sure I would have survived and triumphed over my infertility without all of you.
His birth was painful, long and absolutely wonderful, all at once. I basically received everything on the menu that a hospital can or must administer to a laboring mother. At 7.5 cm dilation, I was encouraged to get an epidural, but it took three epidural attempts by three different anesthesiologists for them to get it in the right place. During that trial, I suffered a dural mater puncture, which put me in the high-risk category for a Post-dural-puncture headache (PDPH), caused by a leak in the spinal cord. Sure enough, 4 days after his birth, one day after arriving back home, I got the terrible migraine. The cure for it was another epidural, only this time, it would be a blood patch (using my own blood to patch the holes in my spine that were leaking fluid and causing terrible headache pain). It worked like a charm, and I was better within a few hours.
After laboring for 22 hours, I was rushed into the operating theatre for a level 1-cesarean section. The baby’s heart rate had dropped, I believe to almost nothing. I didn’t get to hold him immediately after birth, as they had to work on him for a little while. Initially, he wasn’t crying or making much sound. I never banked on the c-section, but I was completely on board when they literally RAN me out of my room and down the hall to the OR. I knew they had a good reason to make the call. The team in charge of my care were fantastic, professional and honestly fully committed to saving his life. They treated me with honesty and dignity from beginning to end.
This team watching over me knew how hard we had fought for the pregnancy, so they didn’t take a single chance. In fact, I believe they scurried around, huddling together in a specialists’ “team meeting” many times throughout the 24 hours, always consulting back with me. They knew how sacred this baby was, and they rallied hard to bring him home to us safely.
THANK YOU AGAIN.
(BTW, Leif is the most magical, delicious, chubby and squeezable baby. We couldn’t have lucked out more. He smiles all the time, at everyone. In fact, he’s the kind of baby who smiles first, when he sees a face. Any face. We couldn’t possibly love him more. We are blessed with Leif).
Today, we had an ultra-scan at the hospital. This was our 3rd scan over the last five weeks, and I’m happy to report back with some news.
At the 1-hour anatomy scan that is typically done around Week 20, they found a small issue with the baby’s kidneys. They were too big “or maybe, dilated?”, was what we were told by the sonographer in broken English. At first she thought it was just the left kidney, but it turned out to be both left and right.
She wanted to see us back in 8 days for a re-do ultra-scan by the scanning physician. I went to that appointment on March 16, the same day Martin had to attend to an all-day skiing team-building event in Sweden. So I flew solo, and I’ll admit, that appointment was rough. The doctor was thorough, warm and forthcoming, and meticulously measured his organs while typing away on her computer. When I piped in with a question, she politely said that she would go over everything once she was finished scanning and measuring. “Everything?” I thought.”
She told me, as I wiped the gooey ultrasound-gel off of my belly, that she found two markers for down syndrome. A kidney issue and now, a “bright bowel.” She went on to explain that I could request a CVS or amniocentesis, if I wanted confirmation, to which I interjected that I did not want that, and that I had done a NIPT test (the Harmony Test) back in California during Week 10, and that my results showed a low risk for trisomies of the 13th, 18th or 21st chromosomes (down syndrome). She gave what sounded like a small sigh of relief and said, “Terrific. Definitely no amnio for you, given how much you’ve fought to get here! No need to risk anything.” I couldn’t have agreed more.
She explained that little bub’s kidneys were dilated, showing signs of inflammation and some sort of obstruction in the ureters coming out of the kidneys. They measured much thicker than they should typically measure, which is a sign of inflammation and/or a blockage (I’m paraphrasing). The bright bowel was a soft marker for Cystic Fibrosis. She said they wanted to scan me again in another 3 weeks to check on the baby’s kidneys and bowel.
I left the Obstetrics ward of the hospital, ambled to the main lobby and dialled Martin. He was out of breath, and approximately half-way down a mountain on his snowboard. I told him all the details and measurements that I could remember. And I downplayed my worries, “These things happen. I’m not worried.” (Big lie). Yada yada.
I was concerned he might start crying when all he could muster in response was, “What am I doing here in Sweden?”
I biked home and proceeded to call my dear friend, Tanya, who I decided, I was safe enough to cry to. My anxious tears spilled out, and all I could really get out was that I was deeply afraid my sweet boy might have medical issues when he’s born. He might have kidneys that aren’t right. He might suffer. He might have frequent UTIs. Or much worse. And while these issues seemed fairly treatable, surgical or fixable, I just couldn’t bear the thought of him getting a body and a host of organs that were anything less than perfect. My poor, poor baby.
Tanya was brilliant and calmed me down. I realized in that moment that the mommy-worries can start eve before the Parent-title is even officially given.
I had to trust that my baby would be okay, and that the good doctors who have been treating me would be able to handle just about anything. Throughout this pregnancy, I’ve been immeasurably grateful for the terrific team of professionals who have been monitoring the little guy and me. The staff at the hospital have been so attentive, thorough and kind.
So today, three weeks since that last appointment, feeling guarded but prepared, we returned for a scan during this 25th Week and were met with much better news. Little baby’s right kidney was measuring perfect, the ureters were clear and fluid was passing through (showing no obstruction); the bowel was not bright, and the only minor issue left was a little dilation in his left kidney. We will be scanned at Week 32 to see how it’s faring, but the sonographer says she expects it to be down to a normal level by then.
I think Martin, my sweet, shy husband, could have jumped up and hugged her.
We feel amazing right now. And so darn lucky to have seen this improvement since our last scan. Our little lovebug was active and squirming, and it was a joy to see him on the screen again, as it always is.
Our love for him is beyond…
We are so grateful for your love and support – thank you for sticking with us through this pregnancy!
And now, here is the latest profile snapshot of the Little Prince, taken just today.
…is posting a bump-date photo. Call me a big, fat hypocrite. Just a few weeks back, I was singing a different tune, telling Martin that we were NEVER going to take any photographs of my ever-expanding belly (as it was another ritual of pregnancy I was simply uncomfortable with). Granted, it was a reaction to his suggestion that we take a daily photograph to document this 40-week journey. Um, no? Wait, how about we take an hourly photograph to ensure we are sufficiently obnoxious enough? We can make a Buzzfeed-worthy craptastic time-lapse of 7,000 hours of one pale person’s growing stomach.
No. I just can’t. I can’t handle that stuff.
Then something hit me a few days ago, and I caught a glimpse of my profile as I exited the shower, and I thought to myself, “This might be the only time I have a stomach like this.” This could be it. Will I regret not having photos of this moment, later? Probably.
So now, we are going to take weekly images. And tuck them away somewhere in our memories or iPhones, for us to look at and smile at, way in the future.
I’d like to explore – and I hope you’ll bear with me – why I have such a knee-jerk aversion to things like bump-photos, Facebook updates, baby showers, and other Pinterest-y pregnancy rituals that seem to jazz a lot of pregnant women. They don’t not jazz me…I think it is all very beautiful and positive.
But I’m also a person who is still a bit suspicious of pregnancy, and disinclined to elevate it to this hallowed ground of sacred events in one’s life. For me, it’s a means to a new beginning.
Don’t get me wrong, my gratitude is considerable. And this pregnancy is the most important thing in my life and a necessity for me becoming a mother. But the act of receiving the baby and nurturing him starting day 1 and for a lifetime is the portion I will choose to sanctify. I just don’t know what I’m doing here, being all pregnant. Pregnancy didn’t really want me, for so long, when I ached for her so bad. And now she’s here, and I’m a little pouty. I try to thank her often, for giving me the little boy growing inside me. But I don’t know how to worship her, celebrate her, plaster her effects on my waistline publicly, because there are too many people in my circle of friends who are waiting for her. They’re hurting something fierce. My heart is with them. And with my boy. I’m split in two camps: the infertile community and now the big P one.
Hope both will have me.
I’ve reached the second trimester! This milestone feels tremendously good. I’m currently 14 weeks + 1 day, and last week – at 13 weeks – I had an ultrasound at the hospital where I’ll deliver. The little dude’s heartbeat was strong (we were able to hear it!), and he had his legs up for a good afternoon snooze.
He was nestled in so snugly, the sonographer had to prod him with a few jabs to get him to move (in order to gather all measurements).
We know it’s a ‘he‘ thanks to the Harmony test that I took during week 10 of pregnancy, when I was back home in California. The test concluded that we are at a low risk for Down syndrome, or a trisomy of the 13th or 18th chromosomes.
I’m utterly biased but I think his side-profile looks pretty darn cute in this ultrasound photo. Somebody get this fetus an agent because mama thinks he should model for more ultrasounds pics, with that pert nose and cute pot belly.
So far, the 2nd trimester is treating me very well. The all-day-long nausea and morning sickness that wreaked havoc on my first trimester have eased up, so long as I eat small meals every 2 hours. The baby-bump has moved into my abdominal region, and my mom has lovingly called me chubby, so I’m growing right on schedule.
Thanks for checking in…
On Friday, December 11th, we went to our fertility clinic for our first ultrascan. I was 7 weeks, 2 days and the little peanut was in there, in all its glory, with a good strong heartbeat. The baby measured one day ahead in terms of size.
This scan was a major milestone and seeing the little blueberry on the screen with a fluttering heart, we enjoyed a huge sigh of relief.
We are not out of the woods yet, but our risk of miscarriage just made another substantial drop. According to the data, after finding a heartbeat, the risk drops to less than 5%.
I was given a due date. July 27th, 2016. We are hoping to go one day past, and deliver the child on the 28th, the same day of Nana Nancy’s birthday. It would be the ultimate birthday present for my mom. To be honest, a birthday present she paid for, as my parentals were the generous benefactors of this last round. Round 14. Feels like round 144.
This cycle was a Biggie, for reasons I have not fully elaborated on yet.
You see, it would be our last round using my own eggs. At the end of our failed round #13, my doctor strongly urged us to turn to donor eggs. “You have baaaad quality, I’m afraid. Always have. If you want to have a baby, you should get someone else’s eggs.”
He went over the drill, as I sat frozen, staring into my lap. A bleary-eyed Martin took notes. “There are no donors in Denmark. You’ll need to go to Spain. Call this clinic in Valencia. They are very good. You won’t see pictures of the donor, but they’ll match you by height and hair color.”
The conversation encased me like a thick fog of truth I couldn’t escape. I knew all roads led to this. And yet I couldn’t bear to hear such barefaced facts and figures about some donor database in Spain.
“Dr. Jens, is there any hope in trying one more time? I think I have another round of injections and retrieval in me?”
His graceful reply: “Yes, Camryn. In order for you to look yourself in the mirror in 10 years and say, ‘I did everything I could’ I think you should try with your own eggs. One more time.”
I flew home to California two days later and bawled to my mom, curled up on the toddler-sized sofa in my nephews’ playroom. Mom cried with me. I told her our plan. I would talk to my sisters. All three of them. I would tell them my dilemma. Which they already know all about. I would tell them I had one last attempt in me. And then, with all three of them, I would make the ultimate ask. “Would you ever consider a donation?”
My three sisters are the most inspiring, generous, intelligent and loving women you could ever be lucky enough to know. Each of us are very different. I would be proud and honored for any of them to be the genetic donor of my baby. The oldest is done having children; she would love to give up a round of eggs. The other middle sister is a proud mom of 1, who I hope and pray goes on to have more kids, as she is the Martha Stewart/Mary Poppins of the bunch. The youngest is my mini-me. She is the one I can proudly say I joined in raising. She is my pride and joy. The fact that I needed to ask such a colossal ask of her didn’t sit well with me, because I’ve made it my point in life to protect her. And now, I needed her to save me from the agony of a child-free existence. Like the goddess that she is, she said, “Of course I’ll do that for you, sissie!”
What I am most proud of in this sad and sticky situation is that I have three sisters who jumped up to help. There was no, “It;s kinda weird” or “This is a freakshow” or “I’ll get back to you,” which they would have every right to utter. This is wei-rd. Very, very weird stuff. An Act 3 soap-operatic dramatic turn that none of us ever envisioned for our lives.
But yet, they showed no equivocation. What an army I am lucky enough to have. We decided that Youngest Sister — whose age is so youthful, and in a medical dilemma where the most critical variable driving success is age — was our best option. We decided: total transparency. The kiddo would always know. Everyone would know. The milkman would know. We would pull the wool over no one’s eyes. We decided: to sit on it, deliberate and seek the counsel of a therapist. And we decided: sister’s husband had as big a vote as anyone. We decided: to be practical, and not put all of our eggs in my Youngest Sister’s basket, and that all three would be tested so as to not put all pressure on just one.
And then I returned to Denmark with a plan. The ultimate plan. We knew we had this option right there, a few months in front of us. We knew my clinic was up for one more round.
And we took it on.
And we got lucky. So darn lucky with my own batch of unwell eggs, which held one little fighter.
My biggest fear in dragging my sisters into this mess was not in the DNA-dilemma. I abandoned the need to preserve all of my genetics a while back. It was also not a fear that any of them would feel a claim to the child. That’s not their style. To be loaned 23 chromosomes from any of my sisters would be a gift I would be honored and thrilled to receive. 25% of my genetics would be preserved — as my siblings and I share ~50% of our genetic material (although I suspect youngest sister and I are more likely 75%, as we are practically twins). I know their roots, their characters, strengths and quirks. I love each of them deep down to their core, so any human being they could help create would be a first-rate, rockstar soul.
My reluctance stemmed from my concern that I could be endangering any of my sisters. That 12 days of shots and hormone stimulation, constant ultrascans, speculum-mayhem and egg-retrieval surgery would be too much agony to ask of any person, sister or not. I know the brutality of a round of IVF quite well and for them to donate, they would undergo a round of In-Vitro Fertilization. Their ovaries would enlarge to the size of grapefruits, and they’d have mood swings, bloating, swelling, pain and a polka-dotted belly.
Worse, the remnants of a round could linger on decades past, at each annual mammogram when they recall that time they were put on a very strong hormone protocol.
I just didn’t want to endanger them.
And now, it seems possible I may not have to.
I carry with me so much pride that Martin and I have our tight-knit families in our corner, as we wage this fight.
I give my parents all of the credit for raising their four girls to hold to the belief that we always help each other. Every time. When one of us has a crisis, we all have a crisis. And no challenge is too tricky or unsavory that our entwined hearts and strong spirit of togetherness cannot overcome it.
Thank you, my dear family. This baby is all of ours.
In early November I went through a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET). This was round 8 of IVF, round 14 of ART.
They transferred two blastocysts that we harvested in September — both with delayed growth and average scores. I was given a different post-transfer regime, topping up with two injections of Pregnyl (hCG), first eight hours after transfer, and another five days later. I’ve been on three doses of progesterone a day.
FETs are different than fresh rounds of IVF, as the body is in a more natural, untraumatized state. The body’s ovaries have not been assaulted with an aspirating needle 3 days prior, and therefore, some fertility doctors believe FETs might have as good as if not better outcomes for patients. This was our first FET – as they tend to occur only for women lucky enough to achieve Day-5 blastocysts, something we’ve never had during our first 7 rounds. Everything felt different on this round. My pre-transfer medication was scant – only a few shots and a few scans. “We’re kicking this thing au-naturale” whispered Dr. Jens. I was skeptical at my Danish clinic’s sudden attempt to put me on a Whole-Foods-style-round of IVF. But we’ve tried everything else, so why not?
The morning of my beta-blood test on November 20th, I took a home pregnancy test. It was positive.
That’s weird, we thought.
They must have given us the wrong embryos from the lab. My embryos are bad and wonky and have a less than 5% chance of producing a viable human being.
Oh well, no biggie. We’ll take whatever embryos they’d like to give us. We don’t care whose baby we get, we just want uh baby.
The blood test later that day confirmed it was a positive pregnancy. And it was not just any ol’ beta score — it was a convincing hCG score for 11dp5dt (11 days post 5-day transfer) — 488! Three days later, I retested and it was 1680. My beta is doubling every 40 hours, and I’m right on target. On round 1 of IVF /round 7 of ART, my positive beta test was a mere 60. While a 60 is technically pregnant, it’s more in the realm of a “slow progression pregnant.” We had no idea that the <65 number was an omen of a less-than-ideal pregnancy, as I miscarried at 7.5 weeks.
The risk of a miscarriage is still there, but the odds are better than they were that prior round.
I am overjoyed. Ecstatic. Jumping up and down in my head. I am also: scared $hitless. Skittish. And worried.
But I am trying to enjoy this. I am a little bit P. I will not say the word right now; I don’t want to. I don’t know how to say it. I’ll write later about why I’m so stumped and breathless and unable to admit something to myself, lest it all fall apart. But I recognize that I need to enjoy this.
We broke the streak. That long losing streak we had been on.
So I am being cautiously optimistic. But that unbridled glee that you, dear reader, are probably expecting of me, that will come after the heartbeat scan on December 11th, and after I glide joyfully into my second trimester in January. And then, after I’m holding that little person in my arms. And then, after that person graduates high school.
For now, I am 5 weeks and 2 days a-little-bit P. And Martin asked if we were going to do a home birth. So it’s business as usual, with him making me laugh.
Please, ask me about my fertility.
If you are curious as to why I don’t have children yet, I am happy to share with you why. I am presuming you want to know and will handle maturely the conversation that follows, when I share with you some of my bad news. That I was diagnosed with infertility. That a heaping pile of $hitty circumstances, in concert with 13 rounds of bad luck, have left us with an empty crib at home.
Why say all this now? Because that viral image of the ultrasound-baby making the rounds on social media, beseeching people to not ask women about their baby-making plans, has left me conflicted.
The viral video of Chrissy Teigen – wife of John Legend – pressing audiences not to ask her (or anyone) about their baby-making plans has also left me pained. While I applaud these gorgeous women for tacitly approaching the subject of infertility, and trying to look out for their fellow TTC-struggling sisters, I canâ€™t help but fear that their efforts to silence others erodes progress being made to remove the stigma of infertility, and the shame of struggling to conceive.
Women who deal with fertility-struggles know a lot about shame. I am not pregnant with a baby, but I am expectant with shame. It grows inside me, inch by inch, lasting not 9 months, but years.
I am ashamed that I have broken body. I am ashamed that I cannot give my husband the children he desperately wants. I wear shame for being that ugly person who gives pregnant women dirty looks.
I am so tired of this shame.
BrenÃ© Brown, a leading researcher of sociology, has mined the depths of shame and emerged with nuggets of wisdom worth considering: â€œIf you put shame in a petri dish, it needs three ingredients to grow exponentially:Â secrecy,Â silence, andÂ judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in the petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive.”
Infertility thrives in a context ofÂ secrecyÂ â€“ nobody talks about it, and no one is allowed to ask us about it. It festers in theÂ silence, and yet the whispered voices of terror, trauma, needles poking, ultrasounds prodding, doctors leering, nurses chiding, husbands crying, that rage in our head are anything but silent. But we silence ourselves. And we â€“ we, the struggling â€“ smother ourselves inÂ judgment. We chastise our uncooperative bodies. â€œI am broken. I am incomplete. I am a failure.â€ The one thing I am supposed to do is the one thing I cannot â€“ even with the most miraculous of medical interventions.
Those three things need to be addressed to help shape a new infertility world-order where shame can be rooted out and a fruitful conversation can take its place.
Because infertilityâ€”just like diabetes, cancer, Crohnâ€™s disease and scurvyâ€”is a disease. Women and men who have been given the IFÂ diagnosis have done nothing wrong. They are the one in 10 who wereÂ unlucky. Period. They did not cause this, but all of the silence that pervades the subject of infertility and miscarriage would suggest itâ€™s something we caused, and therefore, should be ashamed of. It is the herpes of reproductive diseases.
I am not dying of this disease physically, but I worry on a daily basis that I could die from the broken heart it has caused. I linger in a constant state of disappointment. But my biggest problem, aside from my empty arms, is my shame. It isÂ notÂ the nosiness of others.
So to confront my shame and no longer make it the star of my personal narrative, I made an active choice not to blame The Curious Person whose question, â€œWhen are you having kids?â€ may trigger a negative thought pattern. That thought pattern is already activated a hundred times a day, every time I see a baby carriage on the street, a diaper ad on TV, or when I come face to face with a pregnant colleague at work. Iâ€™m triggered all of the (damn) time.
The people who think my child-planning is their business are not the problem. Because what if, perhaps, it is their business? When I stand pregnant at 38 weeks, with a protruding belly and an empire-waist belt tied into a sweet bow, I will be their business. Because I will take up twice the space I used to, which will be a conversation topic. So why is my muffin-topped stomach not?
The more I think about it, the more I just donâ€™t understand.
Which is why I feel passionately about working to normalize conversations around infertility.
I would like to see a cataclysmic shift in the way we, as a society, talk about our fertility struggles. But achieving that goal is a tall order. It asks a lot of women who are already shouldering aÂ lot. And it presumes the rest of the world is ready to greet us with their empathy.
If we miscalculate, and are met with the wrong remarks â€“ and there are plenty that you can read aboutÂ hereÂ â€“ we hurt.
BrenÃ© Brown writes: â€œIf we share our shame story with the wrong person, they can easily become one more piece of flying debris in an already dangerous storm.â€
I have an easy guide for simple IF- (infertility) sharing depending on a womanâ€™s comfort level.
HOW TO SHARE your fertilityÂ issues:
- So when are you going to have kids?
Sharing (light version):Â When my luck improves.
- So when are you going to have kids?
Child-free by choice:Â Itâ€™s not for me (smile).
- So when are you going to have kids?
Heavy version:Â We have been trying for [X] years, have done  rounds of fertility treatments and have not succeeded yet. It has been a great sorrow, but I will be a mom one day.
- So when are you going to have kids?
Resolution version:Â We tried diligently and never could. We are rebuilding our lives in a way that is child-free and happy.
Approach 3 is what I share to anyone whom I trust. 15 out of 17 times, Iâ€™ve been met with empathy, love and support. At their core, most people try to not be assholes. At least not to your face.
SoÂ what do we do when met with the â€œwrong replyâ€ from a friend or family member? When disclosing something personal and sacred is met with â€˜flying debrisâ€™? I donâ€™t have easy answers beyond the corny platitudes I may have learned from watchingÂ Frasier. Breathe in, breathe out. Close your eyes. Take a 10-second micro-nap. Or try, like I do, to repeat a mantra.
When my ears buckle to that voice echoing something ignorantÂ orÂ dismissive of my very real experience, I repeat this mantra:
â€œI shared. I was brave. I am stronger now.â€
A good mantra that you can ignite in your head until it warms you from the inside subdues the stings of insensitivity. A mantra, a smile, a change of topic.
And then, I forgive. Because IÂ remember that weâ€™re all just doing the best we can, and I don’t always have the perfect words either.
When you reflect on the conversation later, reach around your shoulder and give yourself a hug. A big, fat pat on the back for being a soldier in spreading awareness about Infertility and throwing yourself on the frontlines for all the women behind us who need us.
Ladies, we are not alone in our struggles. We have each other, and we have a world that is slowly readying itself for us to come out of our shadows, to shed our shame, and receive some comfort and love.
Maybe we should let them help us.
Infertility never been portrayed moreÂ honestly on the silver-screen than in the movie UP.Â It was a smallÂ snippet in a full and delicious movie about true love, grief and rediscovering oneâ€™s appetite for adventure. The opening montage featuring the love story of Carl and Ellie is one of the most gorgeous pieces of storytelling Iâ€™ve ever seen.
Theirs was a rare and indecipherable love â€“ the kind I am lucky enough to have. They do not get to have children. And for 15 haunting seconds, we see how much that fact devastated them. Ellieâ€™s head in her hands, her isolation in the yard, Carlâ€™s efforts to lift her mood. ThatÂ sad gaze into nothing.
Pixar got it right.