8.28.2013

How to Support Friends Through Infertility


If you think you don't have friends struggling with fertility, you just don't know the truth... because, trust me, you do. I've had a number of friends face fertility challenges, including a couple of my most favorite people. It sucks, no matter what the issue may be. Some just took longer than they thought to get pregnant, a couple were lucky after taking some drugs to kick start their efforts, and then there are a few who have gone down the road of IVF and more. Some have been successful, others have not. And as my friends struggled I had three healthy pregnancies, one even that was a huge surprise.

I feel the void that they feel as our family has rapidly grown with very little effort. It's incredibly unfair. It makes me sick that it's just luck. Dumb luck. And I'd by lying if I didn't think "why couldn't it be them?" when I found out I was pregnant with A. Seriously.

I've cried when reading text messages about miscarriage and unsuccessful attempts from a friend I know couldn't bear to have to speak the news to me. It's heart breaking. All of it.

People, you never know who might be dealing with fertility issues. So, do me a favor and keep your mouth shut. Don't ask people when they're going to have children (I'm looking at you, nosy old ladies) or go overboard in telling them how amazing it is to have children (trust me, they know).

So, while those are some pretty obvious things that you should not do. Here is a list of ways you can be supportive of friends dealing with infertility:

1. Don't Make Assumptions: It's really easy to make assumptions about what friends who are struggling with fertility issues will and will not want to do with your family. Don't jump to conclusions. An invitation to your child's first birthday party may feel like the worst thing you can subject them to, but extend the invitation with the understanding that you get it if they choose to pass.

2. It's Not About You. Your friends pass on your child's birthday party invitation? Don't want to come to your house for trick-or-treating? Seem a little distant? Get over it. It's not about you.

3. Don't Ask. Don't text every month to check in around ovulation time. Don't ask for an update every time you see her. If they want to discuss it, trust me, it will come up. Ask "how is everything," which is a good way to allow them to talk about the awesome soup they made for dinner last night or pull out a box of tissues and sit down for a heart to heart. You open the door, it's their choice to walk in or close it.

4. Do Tell. You're pregnant? Give them a call and let them know. Find a way to discuss with them before you invite them to the dinner with your 20 closest friends to make a grand announcement. Or just don't do that. I bet your friendship is more important in the long run. And do tell them about things going on with your kids. They're interested in your life and your kids, because they're your friend. Not talking about your own kids is like an elephant walking into the room. Just be thoughtful in how you approach it.

5. Be Positive. Don't ask what they're going to do if they don't end up delivering a child. As long as they are on this road, you're on it too. Let them determine the alternative routes. They already are a family, the same as you... Just minus the minis... for now. They don't need your opinion on their next steps. Unless they ask for it.

I'm no expert. I have no certification. But, I think I'm a pretty good friend and one of my strengths lies in my ability to read people and what they need. So, take my advice or leave it. And, better yet, comment with your own advice.

And, to my friends who have struggled and continue to struggle with fertility, I've never wanted anything as much as I've wanted you to be successful, because I know it's important to you. I hope I'm not a huge idiot in giving advice to others. I hope I've been a good friend to you. And I'm so honored you've held me in confidence and friendship on your journeys.

This post was inspired by The Blossom Method’s You Never Know campaign. My participation is voluntary and I have not received any financial compensation. All thoughts and opinions are my own. The Blossom Method is a therapy practice offering support, community, comfort and hope to women and couples experiencing issues related to infertility, pregnancy loss, genetic complications, pelvic disorders, NICU preemies and postpartum depression. 

Phone: 312.854.0061, email: info@blossommethod.com, website: www.blossommethod.com

8.27.2013

William: Age 5

What other kid is this sweet at the dentist?
Sweet, sweet William is five. FIVE. I can't believe it happened so quickly on one hand. On the other hand, I can't believe our wise boy is only five. William, our old soul, never ceases to amaze me with the witty and smart things that he says every day.

His incredible imagination bounces between super heroes to animals to cars to anything else he comes across with ease. It's difficult to follow his story lines or keep up with his rapid brain. He moves so incredibly fast.

William is idolized by Beckett, his little shadow who repeats everything his big brother says and mimics his every move. This year William asked Beckett if he would like to help him blow out the candle on his cake. He knows just how to melt his brother's heart. And ours. He'll ask Beckett to walk around the house holding hands and pointing out all the silly things he can think of to make his brother laugh.

William is an entertainer at heart. He can mimic any voice or accent and quickly masters a song tune. Nothing makes him happier than making people laugh. On the flip side he also goes straight for dramatic phrases and fake crying over nothing.

"I love you, mom," is something William says at any given time out of nowhere and I know he means it. He is so incredibly loving and open to being affectionate and telling people how much be loves them. Likewise, I've heard him say to his friends at the end of a play date: "I'll never forget you." He wears his heart on his sleeve and enters every day with such openness. Looking into his eyes is like looking into a deep pool of wonder.

William has an imaginary friend named John. John has been a constant in our lives for the last year and he has a pretty detailed back story for him. William is always creating things in his head, including words and their definitions and often elaborate stories.

His teachers always have a story to tell me about something witty William said in class or a deeper understanding of something he had that stood out to them. His verbal abilities and comprehension are astounding. Experiencing him making friends has been wonderful. He values his friends and loves having them.


Learning how to snap his fingers has been a highlight of William's year as has mastering writing his letters, simple addition, and some basic reading. He is moving along slowly in swim lessons and can ride his bike with training wheels.

William is still getting more comfortable with himself physically. He's willing to try more and more, but his clumsiness is hard to conquer. 

William is such a special boy. I feel so lucky to be his mom. Five years have flown by so quickly.



Previous Birthday Posts:

8.21.2013

Hold the Gluten, Pass the Cheese

I love cheese. LOVE IT. I could probably live off of a nice cheese and crackers plate. And wine. A little fig or dried cranberries would be welcome additions.

A few months ago I went through testing due to something they found when my appendix was removed last year. The doctor was convinced I had celiac disease. I spent the next 24 hours on google and realized that he was probably right... And then the blood test came back... Negative.

I was shocked. Shocked and relieved. They told me my results were close enough to consider further testing, but they recommended that I cut gluten from my diet, because I was clearly intolerant. From that conversation I went gluten-free for two months. TWO MONTHS of diligent gluten-free living. It wasn't nearly as hard as it sounds and - if anything - it just made me more aware of all of those things I absentmindedly shove in my mouth in a day. When you reach for a cookie and can't eat it, you actually realize you reached for it in the first place.

Other than some bleu cheeses, thankfully cheese has remained on my menu. It's made me realize that of all food allergies, dairy would for sure by the worst for me. Cutting gluten wasn't the worst thing in the world, but it did actually up my cheese consumption.

Am I completely gluten-free today? No. I had to gluten myself after a couple months of being off the stuff to see if there was a reaction. There really wasn't at first, so I haven't been as diligent about it... But little by little I've noticed ways that I just don't feel as good as I did when it was out of my system. So, I'm going back, but don't feel like I'll be too deprived. Luckily I found a few perfectly good gluten-free crackers to go with all of my cheese.

This post was inspired by The Whole Fromage by Kathe Lison, who traveled to France in search of its artisanal cheeses. Join From Left to Write on August 22 as we discuss The Whole Fromage.  As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

8.07.2013

Creating Our New Home



We bought a new house, but we’re not living in it just yet… Why?

Because of rooms like this…

Nothing says move in ready like coral colored border.
 
And this….

Our foundation needed a little bit of help.
 
Oh, and this is the pile of carpet and draperies we pulled out of the house…

1964 called. It wants its drapes and carpet back.

And we continue to learn new things that keep us from moving in. They’re piling up and so is the cost. My contractor is probably tired of hearing me ask: “How much is that going to cost?!?!” And my parents are kind enough to let us stay with them and pretend it’s no big deal. 

It’s stressful in a way I can’t explain. These aren’t just little issues that keep popping up. We’re dealing with major problems, but luckily everything is fixable. My kids miss their house. W asks every day about his toys and when we’ll get to go home. We’ve avoided play dates with our neighbors because it would just be too hard for W. I drove by the old house the other day to pick some mail up from a neighbor, thinking I was safe with just B and A. And as I turned the corner, passing our old driveway B started yelling “Home. My house! Home!” Our home - the only house our kids have ever known - is no longer ours. The heated floor that made our winter days so cozy, the mural Matt labored over for weeks, the new kitchen that I finally finished all belong to another family now. And we have a house that we don't even live in.

But, here’s the thing, we bought this house because of what it will be, not because of what it is today. We bought this house because I fell in love with it. I could see the house in five, ten years - not in 2013. And that’s why we bought our old house, the house we cried about leaving. I saw the same things in that house, the same potential that I see in this one.

I want my kids to remember this house fondly. I want it to be filled with laughter and fun and warmth (even without a heated floor). We bought it because it was a house that allowed us to put our mark on it. We will have to touch every inch of this house, whether with paint, refinished floors, new windows, appliances, tile… The list is endless. But, this allows us to create our own family home, not step into the choices of someone else.

I hope it all works out the way I envision it. I hope it is everything I feel like my family needs. And, most of all, I hope my kids always feel like this house is their home. I hope they'll come back and visit from whatever part of the country or world they're living and always feel that fullness inside of them.

This post was inspired by the novel This Is Paradise by Kristiana Kahakauwila, a collection of short stories that shares a view of Hawaiians few tourists ever experience - one of Hawaii as home. Join From Left to Write on August 8 as we discuss This Is Paradise.  As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.