Fashion

Spring Favorites

April 28, 2015

I have written about many heavy issues and bared my heart on this website. However, I’m going to happily jump over to a lighter side for a bit. I love fashion, so I’m going to spend more time on that if I can.

Here are some items on my wishlist for spring.

Row One: Dress | Bandeau Bikini | Peasant Dress
Row Two: TopRay-Ban Aviators | Bikini
Row Three: Sonix iPhone Case | Gemma bejeweled sandal | Halogen Denim Jacket
Row Four: Clutch | Romper | Joie Sandals

I snagged the denim jacket because I had been looking for one for a while and I really like this Halogen one. I recently ditched a cheap one I had. The Halogen is so soft and I love the color. It fits just right…not too short or too long. This is such a staple item, so I wanted to get it just right.

This peasant dress is so cute and only $32!  And, the bejeweled sandals by Sole Society are beautiful and a great knockoff to some by Marni.

Infertility, Infertility Advocacy

You are not alone.

April 20, 2015

You are not

To the millions of people struggling with infertility,

You are not alone. I feel qualified to say that to you, after going through infertility and repeat pregnancy loss for eight long years. So many times, I started to feel alone, and even though the numbers dwindled, I would find a new group of women with whom to share my inner-most sorrow and find support.

I feel like there are many things I can’t say to you. I don’t want to be condescending. I don’t want to pander to you. I definitely haven’t forgotten my past and things definitely aren’t filtered through rose-colored glasses now.

I won’t tell you that God has a plan for you.

I won’t show you a photo of my kids and say “See?!? Look — it happened for me.”

I won’t tell you everything happens for a reason.

I won’t say, “Don’t give up.”

I won’t act like I have all the answers for you.

I won’t tell you that everything is going to be fine.

I won’t tell you any of those things, but I will tell you that you really aren’t alone. You might be in your personal sphere of friends, but you can connect in other ways with other people who will understand EXACTLY what you are going through.  It will be such a huge relief to you that someone — anyone — finally just gets it.

I first connected with a few friends that I knew had struggled.  Then, I sought out support online by posting in infertility forums and blogging. I found some of the most silly unhelpful people this way and I found some of my best friends. It’s just like “real life” — you’re not always going to like everyone in your class, that works with you, etc.  I looked for the good people and those that I connected with.

At first, I joined many IVF cycle groups online, but became increasingly left behind as they mostly succeeded rather quickly. I became disheartened, but continued searching out people like me — so I joined a repeat pregnancy loss group and a reproductive immunological issues group and I started a surrogacy group. At that point, there were only a handful of people left that had been waiting as long as me and had such a sordid history, but they were out there and I don’t know what I would have done without them.

I also connected with a group of about 8 ladies on an anonymous forum many years ago. We gelled so well that we eventually became known to one another by name and face and created our own private Facebook group. We have now met in person and meet up yearly. I feel so lucky to have these ladies in my life and can’t believe we met on a random forum. I feel like there’s a stigma associated with connecting online, but there are good, real people on the internet and there’s no shame in finding support any way you can.

Ways to connect:

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I wrote this to kick off National Infertility Awareness Week 2015 in conjunction with RESOLVE.  Learn more about infertility.

Baby Fashion, Ellis & Cole

Easter

April 8, 2015

We had a great Easter this year because we were all healthy for once! We have been sick constantly since C & E started day care in December. We really enjoyed going to church and to brunch with family afterwards. Here are some photos:

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I love this photo. I laugh every time I see it. It’s typical of many of our photos.
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Their outfit details:

Infertility, Infertility Advocacy, Surrogacy

“Synthetic” Children

March 16, 2015

Once again, infertility patients are the subject of harsh judgment and ridicule.  This time from an unlikely source — a pair of gay men who are globally acclaimed fashion designers.

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana of Dolce & Gabbana recently were quoted in The Telegraph saying,

“No chemical offsprings and rented uterus: life has a natural flow, there are things that should not be changed.” Dolce went on that procreation “must be an act of love”, saying: “You are born to a mother and a father – or at least that’s how it should be. I call children of chemistry, synthetic children. Rented uterus, semen chosen from a catalog.”

Say what?

Elton John blasted them on Instagram and he’s calling for a boycott of their brand.

We are talking about MY children — my real-life children — not a concept, not synthetic. Excuse me while I go all mama bear.

I’ve seen people write “Oh, who cares?” about these two buffoons.

I DO! This is not ok. I’m not ok with this. This is ignorance, hate and intolerance. I believe my anger is warranted when it’s righteous anger.

Unfortunately, it didn’t end there. It got personal. I wrote about this on my personal Facebook page last night and a “friend” agreed with D&G.  When we’re talking about strangers and internet trolls, I get mad, upset and indignant; but it’s another thing all together when it comes from a friend. It cuts to the core and it hurts.

This is a perfect example of why I do what I do. I advocate for infertility to try to counteract this kind of ignorance and intolerance, from famous people with a large voice to friends in my personal sphere. These kinds of ignorant comments indicate that we have a long way to go.

I have decided henceforth that I have a ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY for intolerance and hate surrounding infertility treatment and my children. Rather than debate this endlessly on Facebook, I cut it off and unfriended two people. ZERO tolerance. I do my best to educate and have civil discourse, but there is a point of no return and I won’t waste my time unnecessarily.

I will be fighting for infertility advocacy, rights and education for my whole life.  This will never end.

I will do it for me, I will do it for others and most of all, I will do it for my children.

It pains me deeply to think that one day, someone will say something hateful to them about their conception and/or existence. That’s why I’ll keep fighting.  And, when it concerns my children, buckle up people, it’s gonna get bumpy.

First of all, I have a right to treat my disease. It really ends there. There is nothing unnatural about that. I have a diagnosed disease that affects my reproductive ability and I have a right to treat it. If you think that’s unnatural, then do you think heart surgery and chemo are unnatural? Does treating any medical condition suddenly become playing God?

Speaking of God, I personally believe my children are a blessing from God. He sent me an angel and her name is Nicole. One of my friends wrote this on my Facebook page yesterday,

“The basis of that argument assumes that we, as humans, can thwart God’s will for us…and we cannot. I don’t care how important you think you are, you are never more powerful than God. If it is not His will, He will stop it, no question. So to say that those babies aren’t from Him is ridiculous. They are proof of the existence of a loving God.”

D&G said procreation “must be an act of love.”  Are you kidding me? My children were loved for years before they were conceived or named. They were prayed over by many people. My husband and I desperately wanted a child to call our own and went through hell to get there — eight long years of treatments, injections, surgeries, losses and heartache beyond compare. Yet, I pressed on with hope, when my head couldn’t comprehend it, but my heart clung to it.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Many people have “oops” pregnancies.  Some women drink like they’re on fire and smoke like they’re trying to put it out while pregnant. Some children are born out of lust. Why the cheap shot at infertile couples who treat their disease and OBVIOUSLY really want a child?

The “rent a uterus” comment really struck a chord with me as gestational surrogacy is how we built our family. Our surrogate carried our babies because she wanted to help an infertile couple. It was not about money for her. This was an act of love. In my opinion, one of the greatest gifts of love that you could give or receive. And, even if it was a compensated surrogacy, so what? I’m thankful there are women, compensated or not, that will help infertile couples.

I assure you my children are not synthetic. They are indeed real. They are loved to the moon and back. They were conceived out of love.

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#BoycottDolceGabbana

Baby Fashion, Ellis & Cole

Little Loves

March 15, 2015

Here’s some new pics of the kids at a few days shy of 17 months. They are looking so grown-up and are so much fun. *cry*

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These lace high-tops. I die. I want some, too.

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Infertility, Infertility Advocacy

You Need a New Doctor

March 14, 2015

My friend and fellow advocate, Jennifer Rutner, has a new project called You Need a New Doctor, which shares real stories from real women surrounding infertility.  It’s downright ludicrous what some of us have had to endure from doctors, hospitals, office staff, nurses, etc.

We’re tired of it. Infertility is abhorrent enough, doctors don’t need to make it worse.

We’re sharing what’s happened behind the curtain.

I’ve submitted several stories and I’m thankful to have had a really great fertility practice and reproductive endocrinologist, but I haven’t fared as well with hospitals and OBs.

Jen says, “Our diseases our real. The ways in which our medical care has been mishandled is real. The neglect is real. And, it’s not our fault. Yes, we need to continue to speak up. But, I think we also need to start insisting. And, people – doctors – need to start listening.”

Please pop over to You Need a New Doctor, follow along, read some horrifying/heart breaking/hilarious stories about the absolute nonsense medical professionals say to women with infertility. Even better, submit a story!

Infertility

Purple shoes

March 9, 2015

I have been trying to clean out the kids’ closet and make some room.  So, I decided to list some of Ellis’ things on a local yardsale Facebook group.  Everything sold really quick and I made arrangements to meet up with everyone.

I met a woman tonight in a Starbuck’s parking lot to make the trade.

She immediately asked me, “You run the infertility page, right? I recognize you.”

“Yes,” I said.

She then went on to say that she had struggled too and thanked me for doing everything that I do. I was so surprised by this and touched.

But, what this woman didn’t know was that one of the things I sold to her was the very first baby item I ever bought.

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That doesn’t seem very consequential, but for me, buying that little outfit and those little shoes were an outward expression of my hope and faith and something I had dreamed of doing for so long.

It was early on during Nicole’s pregnancy when I bought them. It was a huge leap of faith for me to walk into that Baby Gap, pick out those items, lay them up on the counter and pay for them. All the while, hoping the salesperson wouldn’t be too chatty or too happy because I might just lose it.

Previously, when I had been pregnant, I wouldn’t have even dared look at baby clothes, much less purchase anything. I just couldn’t. Of course, it never worked out for me when I was pregnant, but this time was different. Everything about Nicole, everything about the whole process of surrogacy and the pregnancy was different.  God gave me peace about it and I needed it.

It couldn’t be any more fitting that this new mother, who struggled with infertility as well, bought these little shoes for her daughter. And, the outfit to match is going to a dear friend who battled infertility, too.

This purple outfit and these little shoes are now the infertility baby equivalent of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. May they be worn accompanied by silly giggles and squishy baby rolls and then passed on to another infertility sister.

Infertility, Parenting

Being real

February 17, 2015

A few months ago, a friend made a comment that stuck with me.  I don’t remember her exact words, but something to the effect of “you make making raising twins look easy.” And I don’t want to put words in her mouth, but the feeling I got was that she felt inadequate because of it. All of this in a very light-hearted friendly way. This friend has twins…plus three other children (or more, she fosters)…and most of them have special needs. I think this woman walks on water. Sometimes when I’m having a rough parenting day, I think of her and tell myself to suck it up.

I assured her that was not the case at all. It’s been a challenge. A crazy wonderful one. One that I wholeheartedly signed on for and one that I love, but a challenge nonetheless.

I think she was probably gleaning her take on the situation from Facebook. I post cute pictures of my kids and talk about their firsts, etc.

I couldn’t shake what she said. It kept pinging something, but I couldn’t really figure out what or why. So I let it roll around in my head for several weeks.

First, I realized that I feel that exact same way about seeing others’ lives as they play out across the screen.  The moms that seem to cook every night and come up with elaborate crafts and games and take their babies everywhere. It’s the outside looking in and it’s not a full picture. I know that and try to tell myself that when my own feelings of inadequacy creep in.

And, more introspectively and importantly, I realized that I’m terrified in any way, shape or form to “complain” about my kids. But, I’ve also been afraid to talk about them in general, especially here on my website.

Life with twins is difficult sometimes, but I never feel like it’s ok to say that. So, yea, my life must look rosy on Facebook, for example, because I omit some things.  Like, that poop in the bath tub the other night. Or me flooding the kitchen trying to warm a bottle. Or me losing my mind over never-ending screaming. I haven’t really shared those things.

The other thing I thought about was how while we were expecting, several friends told me that parenting is hard and it is ok not to love every minute. I’m so thankful for them telling me that because I would have beat myself up way worse on difficult days if not for hearing their voices in my head. Maybe there are some moms that have everything figured out, have endless patience and never have a bad day…but, that’s not me. We put too much pressure on ourselves and I’m so thankful that they had the courage to be so honest.

I hate to think I might have contributed somehow to this unrealistic view of motherhood.

This will be a big shock….Wait for it….Because of infertility, I feel incredibly guilty to even hint that parenting is hard. I mean, who am I kidding? Who would think that raising twins would be easy? That’s just not realistic. Parenting IS hard.

It’s like my brother and sister-in-law told me when we were expecting, “Having kids is the most amazing thing you will ever experience and it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do.”  I think they were spot on. Kids are a beautiful package of juxtaposition.

Part of the guilt is just in general. Outside of my closest family and friends, I don’t feel like I can admit there’s anything slightly hard about having two babies. I mean, what kind of terrible person would I be if I did? I prayed for these children for eight long years and now they are here. How dare I even hint of anything less than perfect? And, how dare I be anything less than perfect?  God finally answered my plea and entrusted these two amazing children to me. I begged to become a mom. BEGGED, pleaded, bargained, prayed. And, it’s glorious and spectacular, beyond my wildest dreams.

But, I feel an immense weight to do better and be better because I wanted children so badly. One time, I thought to myself, I bet God is rethinking his decision. I’m a terrible mom. Why did I get to be mom? Oy! Thank goodness I stifled those thoughts. God doesn’t make mistakes and God didn’t want me to think that.

And, the other part of the guilt is survivor’s guilt. Infertility survivor’s guilt. Ahhh….there it is rearing its ugly head again.

I remember when I used to hear people complaining about their kids, I would think to myself, I would give anything to have their problem.

All of those comments, which were innocuous enough, were a knife straight to my heart at the time. Everything from, “Ugh. I can’t believe I can’t have a glass of wine because I’m prego” to “I’ve had it. I’m giving my kid away. Any takers?”  They were obviously joking on that last one…right?…right?

Now I’m a parent and I’m so lucky. I love being a mom. I love talking about all the amazing and wonderful things about my kids, but I want to be able to be honest about some things if I so desire.

I’ve been an open book about my life and my struggle with infertility and now I no longer seem to have a voice in some ways because I’m too guilt-ridden to use it.  Especially in this space to use it at all.  I just don’t talk about them much. What hurts worse? Seeing the magical moments of having kids or hearing someone vent about parenting? Both, but this is my website about me and my family. I have got to get over that, IF I ever have time to write and want to.

Once again, infertility can shove it. I’m done with it messing with my head.

I hereby declare that I’m giving myself permission to be real about my life and about parenting – the good and the not so good.

And, for those that are still struggling to have a child, I’m sorry. I’m sorry in general and I’m sorry if I’m the one with posts that might be a trigger for you. But, I’m just keeping it real. I just want to be a “normal” parent and I’m trying to shed as many of the hurtful layers of infertility that I can.

See ya, infertility guilt.  Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Health & Fitness, Infertility

Tips for dealing with doctors and insurance

November 6, 2014

Several friends have told me about health issues lately and unfortunately I’m not shocked at the poor care they seem to be receiving.  So, I wanted to write about standing up for yourself when it comes to your health.

I have found that you absolutely must be your own advocate when it comes to your health. Don’t feel like you are being difficult.  You’re not — you’re just being smart.

I think we’re forced into thinking that we can’t shop around for doctors, we can’t question diagnoses and that we can’t appeal an insurance decision. YES, we should do all of these things!

It seems crazy to me that if we get a meal that we don’t like at a restaurant, we don’t mind complaining, however if there’s a problem with our doctor or our insurance, we just accept it.

After going through two major health crises all before 35 years old, I have learned a few things.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s a problem big or small, you really have to stand up for yourself to take control of your own health.

Some tips:

  1. If you don’t have the best doctor, just keep looking. If you feel like you’re not getting the answers you need and you’ve tried talking to the doctor about your concerns, find a new doctor. That’s right. Fire your doctor. After our gestational surrogate was pregnant with our twins, she first went to her regular OB.  I didn’t like how they treated me, the mother, on the other side of the state. They wouldn’t budge when I asked to have more frequent ultrasounds because the first trimester was traumatic for me having lost five pregnancies.  They also wouldn’t allow me to be on the phone with her at appointments to listen in.  We got a referral to see a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist, and after we all saw him for the first time, we fell in love with him because he was extremely smart, personable and we just clicked. So, we fired the other doctor. What a 1000% difference between the two doctors. Don’t settle. I have had the absolute crummiest doctors and the absolute best.
  2. Find a specialist. If you have anything other than a cold, you might want to find a specialist.  As you might surmise, I haven’t had great experiences with primary care doctors. I’m sure there are good ones out there though. If you do have a specific problem, don’t you want the best person on the job with lots of specific experience in that area? I certainly do. If you need to see a specialist, ask for recommendations from friends or family. Also beware of doctors that always have the same solution for every problem. They only have one or two tools in their own skill-set, and that will be their recommendation, even if it’s not the best sometimes. Again, if you don’t feel good about any doctor, keep looking. (See next one…)
  3. Second opinion. If you are nervous or unsure about a diagnosis, get a second opinion.  When I was told I needed surgery to break my pelvis in three places, you better believe I got more opinions — three more in fact! And, I had to leave the state to see some of the doctors.  Unfortunately, there aren’t that many peri-acetabular osteotomy surgeons in the U.S.
  4. Research. Do research on the doctors. Do research on your problem, diagnosis or treatment.  Educate yourself so that you can ask better questions. Know what tests to ask for.
  5. List of Questions. Always take a list of questions with you to the doctor.  Otherwise, you’ll forget them or get too nervous. I’m famous for showing up with long lists.
  6. Insurance Appeals. If you get denied by insurance, appeal! Make sure to make a good case and get supporting evidence from your doctors.  Read one of my posts about this.
  7. Give feedback. If you are treated poorly, let the clinic or hospital know.  One time I ended up in the ER after having miscarried and was treated very poorly.  I let them know about it and they were appreciative that I let them know and appalled at how I was treated.  They responded to me immediately.  Read more.
  8. Cell Phone. Make sure to give doctors your cell phone number, so that when they call with results, you might actually get the call instead of the voice mail at home. Nothing is worse than waiting for results and getting a voice mail on a Friday afternoon. Then, you can’t get back in touch and have to sweat it out over the weekend worrying.
  9. Making Appointments. When you need to be seen about something and they make the appointment for 3 months from now, explain that you need to be seen sooner.  Ask to speak to an office manager.  You don’t have to accept every little thing they tell you.  For “well” visits or non serious visits, sure, waiting 3 months is fine.  For other issues, it’s not at all.  I had to deal with this getting appointments for my hip pain.  Also, I’ll never forget that after my 5th miscarriage, I called the doctor’s office to be seen. I knew the routine and knew I had to be checked out. I also was having more problems than usual, but when I called they said they could see me in 4 days! 4 days?!?!  I could bleed out by then.  Read my blog post about this situation.

 

Mexico, Travel

Tulum

November 3, 2014

So, I’m little behind in posting this.  Last month, when we went to Mexico, we went to the Tulum ruins.  We went as part of an all-day (private) tour with Edventure Tours.  They took us early in the morning to beat the heat (not so much) and to beat the crowds (yea!).

We started off great with tickets already purchased and provided for us and no crowds.  Then, we get into the site, and I try to take a picture and my camera is 100% foggy.  We had this trouble off and on during our trip, but never this bad.  So, I was pretty grouchy that I was getting to see such a beautiful place and not able to take pictures.  Some people would say, put the camera down and enjoy the moment.  However, I say, photography IS what I enjoy.  So, I started using the GoPro to take some video instead.

FOGGY PICTURE = BAD!

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Then, magically, after a while, the camera heated up and de-fogged! Thank goodness. So, we doubled back to the gorgeous look-out point on the coast so I could take some stills. But, I was kind of over it at this point, and still didn’t end up taking too many pictures.

The ruins were beautiful and I really enjoyed seeing them.  However, this being my first big outing since my surgery, I didn’t want to overdo it by walking too much.  So, between that and fact that it was hot as blazes, we didn’t tarry too long. I mean, who doesn’t love wearing sunscreen, bug spray, long sleeves and walking around in 100 degrees with no shade?

Of particular note, there was a temple dedicated to Ixchel, the fertility goddess.

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