Flip the Script: I Will If I Must

Flip the script? What’s that all about? If you haven’t heard, this week, the last full week in April every year in fact, is NIAW: National Infertility Awareness Week. Resolve.org (a great place for all things infertility & family building– resources, advocacy etc) comes up with a specific theme every year for NIAW. This year’s theme is: “Flip the Script”. I can’t accept that. Couldn’t they call it something else? Anything else? I know it’s just me. But see, this is the thing: My guilty pleasure (okay, 1 of 26) is watching Maury.

To sum it up: People want to find out if they’re really the baby-daddy or if their boyfriend is cheating so they think it would be a good idea– I still have no idea why– to find out on national television. Anyway, I adore Maury the host, but in an attempt to sound hip and current, things come out of his mouth that should not come out of any 80 year old’s mouth like: “You accused your man of cheating and now he’s flipped the script. You wouldn’t do him like that, would you?”

RESOLVE likely didn’t expect “Flip the Script” to be as controversial a phrase choice as it’s turned out to be. (The controversy beginning and ending with Maury and me of course.) I think their intention is  to inspire everyone dealing with infertility to be out and proud… maybe not proud… just not ashamed about it: A catalyst to get people suffering in silence to at least talk about it, share, help, and inform those around us within and without the infertility community.

Funny thing is: I’ve always been the biggest in the closet out of the closet infertile person. I mean, I have this blog about my own personal infertility exploits. And I have a book about it. And I’m forever skulking around the support groups talking about it… but with my friends, family, neighbors and coworkers… I really don’t discuss it much and never really did… not even while I was going through treatments.

I’ve never felt shame or embarrassment. It was more: “This is so not at all your business” or “I spend half my day living it, I really don’t feel like spending the other half recounting the first half.”

I’ve always felt strongly that infertility is so personal that you have to do what’s best for you. If you’re honest with yourself and you’re honestly suffering because you’re not sharing what you’re going through with friends, family, the general public., open up, let it out. Expect no particular reaction. They might be supportive. They might be judgmental. They might say a bunch of dumb things. Or a combo platter of all three. Nothing you can do about that. Your only goal should be to share with them what you feel you need to. Screw how they react. That’s their issue, not yours.

I’ve always spoken candidly about my IUI/IVF/FET experiences with others going through it and family of others going through it… but as far as my own family and friends… whatever. I’ve always been wildly inconsistent with the details, I’d make some vague comment like: “Yeah, I’m going back to the doctor today. I’m trying to get pregnant.” Let them think I was sleeping with the doctor. Who cares? Then two days later they’d ask how it went and I’d say: “Fine” and walk away or just act like I didn’t even know what they were referring to. When people at work compared notes behind my back, I’m sure it just sounded like I was making stuff up as I went. I figured that was okay because it was right in line with the treatments themselves: The medical staff  sounded like they were making things up too. I remember the first time the nurse told me in her cheery “no big deal” voice:

“So every night you’re going to pinch your stomach and give yourself an injection subcutaneously.”

I was in a fog: “Wait. Hold up. I’m going to give myself injections? Are you sure? That doesn’t sound right.”

“It’s easy. You dial this pen…”

“I’m sticking myself with a pen? Do you really work here? Don’t take this personally, but is there maybe another nurse I can double-check this with?.. Or a doctor? Or the billing person? She always seems to be around.”

If you’d like more laughs at infertility’s expense, please check out my book- Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman’s Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility. It’s been downloaded by 1000s & is recommended by renowned Reproductive Endocrinologists around the U.S. Available in eBook & paperback. (Amazon / Nook / Kobo) http://laughingisconceivable.com

 

Infertility Season: The Girls of Spring meet The Boys of Summer

The “Infertility Season” has so much in common with Baseball Season.

An infertility season often lasts longer than one three-month-long calendar season just like the “boys of summer” actually start playing baseball in February and finish, if they’re lucky, in October.

During both seasons, there are delays in the game, rain-outs, unforeseen changes to your team’s roster, and maybe health issues that were going to be taken care of when the season was over that just couldn’t wait after all.

You want both seasons to be shorter when things aren’t going well, so you can put it behind you as quickly as possible and look with hope toward next season. But if things are going as you had hoped, you want them to  go on as long as they can… like all the way to the World Series / the World Series of Infertility – a full-term pregnancy.

You enter Fertility Clinic Stadium. There are a lot of people. There’s a lot going on. It’s overwhelming. Your first time up at bat, your ovaries don’t respond well to the treatment, you strike out swinging. Your second time up, they respond better, but not well enough. You ground out. Your third time up, the ovaries respond better, the egg retrieval is done but none of the embryos make it to day 3. Long fly ball– caught at the right field fence. Your fourth time up, you get hit by a pitch. So, okay, you’re physically in pain, angry, exhausted and covered in dirt, but at least this time you made it to 1st base. They did the egg retrieval. They only got out 2 eggs but you’re eager to keep up the positive momentum.

You think about stealing 2nd base but the 1st base IVF coach tells you:

“Not so fast. Stay where you are. We think these might make it to Day 5.”

So you stand firmly on first base, peering over at 2nd base, feeling like it’s miles away instead of just 90 feet, helplessly waiting to be assured that you can finally get there safely. Finally you get the signal from the coach. Run! Run! 2nd base- Day 3- Everything still looking great! Run! Run! 3rd base- Day 5- Everything still looks great! Transfer Done! Rounding third, heading for home.

“Whoa! Not so fast!” Yells the 3rd base IVF coach.

“I thought you said everything looked great and the transfer went well. So why am I still standing here at 3rd base?”

The 3rd base IVF coach explains: “Everything has gone great so far. But you can’t just run home and score. Not just yet. Now you have to stand at 3rd base for two weeks and wait to be told whether you’re going to make it all the way or be left stranded right where you are. and have to start all over again. These games have rules. You can’t just do what’s easiest for you. So for two weeks you stand on third base, whine to the coach, the total stranger playing third base for the other team, and fans in  the bleachers, while you stress eat your hourly $60 delivery of two hot dogs, peanuts and Cracker Jacks that’s in no way included anywhere in your $60,000 of IVF. (That’s one difference between our “seasons”. When there is a lousy, unproductive season, baseball players still get paid handsomely while we still pay handsomely.)

Finally, the 3rd base IVF coach tells you the transfer was a success and you can head toward home. It takes another nine months to reach it, but finally, mercifully… you’re safe!

It’s vital to remember through all of this, how quickly- sometimes seemingly in an instant- events can  completely turn around: In life, in infertility, & in baseball. Things can seem dismal, hopeless, for weeks, months, years. Then all of a sudden life looks so much brighter, you have a healthy newborn, and the Mets are in first place.

If you’d like more laughs at infertility’s expense, come read about my personal IVF adventure. It’s been read by 1000s and recommended by top fertility professionals to their patients to de-stress while dealing with all of the anxiety-producing moments of infertility. Available on Amazon, B & N, & Kobo.  https://www.amazon.com//dp/B007G9X19A/ 

Infertile Women on Spring Break

Hmmm… Spring Break for Infertile Women. We all could really use a Spring Break. Maybe I should pitch the idea to MTV. What’s hotter than watching a group of women in thong bikinis doing shots on the beach at sunset? True, it would be a group of angry, frustrated, infertile women doing hormone shots…

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One Woman’s Desperate Attempt to Inject Spring Spirit into Infertility

One Woman’s Desperate Attempt to Inject Spring Spirit into Infertility.  (Did she have to say: ‘inject’?)

At this time of year, as we approach the Easter and Passover holidays, I’m sure, like me, you can’t help pondering how much this spring holiday season reminds you of your fertility treatments.

“What? Why? What are you talking about? I’ve never thought that even once.”

I mean, take Easter for example. True, infertility doesn’t make us feel resurrected…

“Resurrected? No. That’s not quite the right word. Maybe: “Angry”? “Defeated”? “Pissed?”

Okay… maybe that wasn’t a good example. How about: Infertility reminds us of getting all dressed up and heading to church with the whole family?

“How? It’s more like throwing on a sleeveless T-shirt and baggy sweatpants so the nurse will have easy access to my vein and the doctor will have easy access to… somewhere totally different. And there aren’t enough seats in the waiting room for the whole family and who wants them there anyway? Yeah, I’ll tell you how infertility is like Easter. I feel like I’m the only idiot in the egg hunt still swinging an empty basket!”

Infertility is like spring.

“No it’s not. I keep planting but nothing’s growing. Groundhogs  are morons. Every last one of them. They may be cute rodents but they’re sucky meteorologists.”

Let’s move on, shall we?

Infertility is like Passover where we celebrate Gd liberating us from slavery.

“Hm… liberation from being a slave.  Well let’s see… Every single minute of every single day of my life revolves around doctors, nurses, blood tests, stomach shots, prescriptions, butt shots, appointments, and probing examinations. Nope. Not feeling the liberation. More like: Infertility is like Passover: Everybody tells you what you can eat and what you can’t eat and 99% of what you are supposed to be eating, you would never eat in a million years if you had the choice. More precisely: Infertility is like Passover food: Monotonous, bland, and hard to digest. Yeah yeah… that’s it.”

Well, okay. I guess I see your point. But I can’t end our little discussion on a negative note. So let’s wind this up with a positive thought, shall we?

No matter whether we’re talking about IVF or Easter, or the Passover Seder plate: My wish for you is the same:

“May none of your eggs be filled with Laffy Taffy.”

 

What It’s Really Like…

When you’ve been trying to get pregnant, people can relate to that. Maybe they themselves tried for a month or two and it wasn’t until month four when they finally conceived. Or maybe they got pregnant the first weekend they tried but their sister or best friend wanted to get pregnant as soon as she was married but “struggled” for six months. So whether directly or indirectly, people have lived through that. But then when you move into the neighborhood of: “I’ve been trying for a year or five years or ten years and I’ve been to a Reproductive Endocrinologist, and I’ve had a test to see if my tubes are open and I might have endometriosis or PCOS…” Once you start to get into the mechanics of your innards- what strangers in labs are probing and things that cause you to miss work… most people mentally drift off. Even the ones who are interested and supportive, most of them don’t really understand what you’re talking about. If you’ve ever wanted to tell them what a day in your life as someone trying to get pregnant is really like but you are just too emotionally drained or too private a person to go into it… Well, I have a new essay in Pregnantish Magazine at the link below that might help. In fact, it’s called: “What IVF is Really Like: A Day in the Life”. See if any of it rings a bell.

What IVF Is Really Like: A Day in the Life

And one last thing…

Have you taken a look at my book? Recommended by renowned infertility professionals around the U.S. and abroad. Now available in eBook & paperback. (Amazon/ B & N / Kobo)  https://www.amazon.com//dp/0692950117/

Religion, Infertility, & Humor (Really?)

Do you ever feel awkward around people who you feel you have nothing in common with? Now that I’ve lived in the southern part of the U.S. for more than a decade, I’ve felt a little less weird about it. But having lived in New York– the suburbs and then the city– my entire life, it was quite an adjustment when we first moved here. I remember when we first arrived, it felt like all of the conversations included church, everybody owned a gun, and my husband and I were the only ones who cursed. So here I am, 10+ years later, I’m still me, but the conversations around me startle me a little bit less.  Enter Sarah’s Laughter.

Sarah’s Laughter is a non-profit faith-based infertility+ support organization. Does this look like some place that would want anything to do with me? Turns out, they’ve been around a long time just loving, helping, supporting, & yes, praying for people dealing with infertility & related ordeals. I did a podcast interview on their site. Maybe it’s just me, but despite the name of the organization, religion & humor doesn’t sound like peanut butter & jelly or fish & chips. I was scared to death. Would I be asked “religious” questions? Would I be able to get through it without uttering a profanity? What if I said something that isn’t a profanity to me, but it is to them? I was bound to let something slip in vain. All in all… Come have a listen@ http://podcast.sarahs-laughter.com/episode-59-laughing-is-conceivable-lori-shandle-fox

And if you would like to purchase my book (not riddled with profanity, but certainly containing a few more than in the podcast) Available on Amazon, Kobo, & Nook.  Comments by renowned fertility professionals inside.

Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman’s Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility

https://www.amazon.com//dp/0692950117/

 

 

Infertility & Romance. Romance? What Romance?

One of the way infertility ruins our life is that it’s sneaky. It toys with us emotionally, physically, financially & in every other way but it does it so cleverly, little by little, that we barely notice it’s taken us over completely, body, mind, heart, & soul. The damn thing is a cult. And one of the first aspects of our life that infertility gets its grimy clutches into is our love life. One day you’re walking hand in hand along the sun-kissed beach, the warm breeze of the ocean blowing your hair against his face. The next you’re walking hand in hand into a fluorescent lit examination room, lifting yourself with one hand onto the table and holding your backless gown shut with the other so you won’t flash passersby if it catches the breeze from the a/c . “What the hell just happened?” All of a sudden,just like that, our warm, lovey-dovey, kissy-kissy partnership  has turned into somewhat of a business partnership: “Well we have to have sex by Tuesday. Wednesday of the latest. Ideally if we could meet up on both days… Are you available at 4 on Tuesday and 7:15 on Wednesday? 7:30 after Jeopardy! in the bedroom? That’ll be fine. See you then.”

This week’s post: “Infertility & Romance. Romance? What Romance?” can be found at IRMS Reproductive Medicine at St. Barnabas’ blog– thanks to the lovely Dr.Serena H. Chen who allows me to sully their blog with my two cents.  http://www.sbivf.com/blog/infertility-romance-romance-what-romance/

Please take a look at my very own personal infertility / IVF journey  in my own warped point of view in my book.- Available in paperback & eBook. (Amazon, Kobo, Nook.)

Valentine’s Day: Finally: The Perfect Holiday.

Valentine’s Day is the perfect holiday for people trying to conceive.  I know you think I’m about to go into the importance of rekindling our romance. Yeah yeah… I’ll get to that in a minute. But first and foremost:

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Infertility Groundhog Day

Infertility Groundhog Day is almost upon us. Infertility Groundhog Day is much like regular Groundhog Day. If you’re  not in the U.S. or Canada and are unfamiliar with Groundhog Day, you’re really missing out. Every February 2nd, if this groundhog in Pennsylvania sees his shadow, it is considered a prediction that we will have six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, it means an early spring. Infertility Groundhog Day is similar. If the groundhog sees his shadow, it means six more weeks of infertility. If he doesn’t see his shadow, it means things will be blooming sooner than later. And for most of us, the groundhog feels about as good as a predictor of what we can expect next as just about anything anybody else has told us.

But let’s face it: Most of us who are going or have gone through infertility can relate less to the holiday and more to the Bill Murray movie variety of Groundhog Day.

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IUI, IVF, FET & Other Random Letters

Like most people going through infertility online, when I first read all of the abbreviations in people’s posts, I found it daunting. I mean I knew most of the medical ones: IUI, IVF FET… (I found out about the last one the hard way… by going through it.) But I had to scramble around googling and infiltrating various infertility groups to reveal the hidden meaning behind the conversational abbreviations: BFP, BFN, AF, DH.

Then people started to mix the medical abbreviations and the conversational abbreviations with texting chatter. Continue reading