Saturday, February 16, 2013

As promised: socks

Despite recent drama, I haven't forgotten about the sock exchange. Here's the list:

Elana @ Elana's Musings and KelBel @ Tales from Our Yellow Brick Road

oursoonerchick @ One day at a time and StacyLee @ Conceptionally Challenged

Nickeecoco and Sexy Sadie @ The Sub-Fertile Slut

Teresa F and Non Sequitur Chica

lamenting the lentil and Sadie @ Invincible Spring

And finally, a three way.

Rain @ Weathering Storms and Alicia @ Queen of the Slipstream and Jessah @ Dreaming of Dimples

Ladies, I have an extra special plea: please don't add to my stress-level by not contacting your exchange partner. Most of you I know will not do this, not I occasionally get a couple with each of these exchanges and it breaks my heart. So many women have written me to tell me how much these socks mean to them, so please write me if you want to bow out. No hard feelings if you communicate with me, I promise.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

An apology

Earlier this week, I wrote a post addressing what I perceived as an attack on the Bitter Infertiles. Since Monday, things have fallen apart, resulting in a lot of hard feelings and a fractured group. The past 24 hours. have been spent in tears and trying to retrace my steps as to how everything went so wrong so quickly. Needless to say, there’s been a lot of self-reflection and owning my role in all of this.

I need to start by apologizing directly to Esperanza. I’m sorry that I caused you pain in any way or made you feel that you needed to censor yourself. No one should be made to feel that they are not allowed to have an opinion or share their thoughts with the world. In addition, no one should feel like they are being attacked. For that, I am truly sorry. And I’m sorry if my actions made anyone else feel that way too.

But the thing is, I’m not entirely at fault in this situation. Over the past few weeks, the criticism against the podcast has grown and grown. Granted, I understand that people are excited about what has been happening and want to share their thoughts and opinions on each podcast and how we have been proceeding. But, honestly, there’s been a lot of negativity. To date, outside of an incredibly nasty comment sent directly to us, I’ve watched commentary criticizing us not being appropriate because all the members are pregnant, see critiques about how we address different topics and even watched direct attacks on us personally. And though I’m sure in an ideal world I would be able to brush it off, the truth is that it’s all been too much.

I came to this community over a year ago, seeking support and comradery from others would were also in the trenches. Over the past year, this community has been an amazing source of support during my darker moments. Something that I am incredibly grateful for. But there is a dark side to this community. I’ve watched members viciously attack others, bullying them into silence over something they disagree about. Granted, these events are not constant, but when they happen it’s crushing to watch. And frankly, it’s shameful.

Over the last few days, I’ve felt more and more cornered, with people passing judgment on me and something I’ve worked hard for. Not once has someone taken a step back to consider how it might feel to be picked apart. The comparison of this podcast to the Redbook Infertility Diaries frightened me, making me wonder how long it would be before the mob was banging on my door.

The purpose of my post was to cut all of the grumbling off. What I hoped to address was not that others were wrong but that all the concerns and criticism was being addressed. I hoped to stop the fire from spreading, so to speak.

What happened instead was a backdraft. The end result being the future of this podcast uncertain. Mo and I have talked a lot since then, trying to figure out what needs to be done in order to heal. So far, all we’ve gotten is silence. The damage from this passive aggression has only deepened the wounds and forever fractured trust.

So, as of today, Bitter Infertiles is suspended. The one thing I had hoped to avoid has happened and there is no resolution in sight. In addition, I’ve watched Mo struggle with watching something she’s nurtured and help grow start to die around the anniversary of the loss of her son. I’ve watched people attack her, telling her that she’s lucky to have a dead baby. Something so unbelievably horrible and evil; something I never thought I would bear witness to.

I want to end by thanking those of you who have been a source of support during this time. In the moments where Mo debated deleting everything connecting her to this community, you’re words and wisdom have been what has brought her back from the brink. It’s also forced me to recognize that those that are problematic are in the minimum and that in general people do believe not only in this podcast, but also in us.

For now, I’m planning on stepping away from this space. There is so much healing that needs to happen and I know that it can only begin if I’m not here. To the ones I’ve grown to love like sisters, I promise I won’t be far away. But right now, being in the space is too destructive. There’s too much bad blood. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Winter Sock Exchange

Apparently today was a sunny day in Seattle. Instead of enjoying it (like most sane people would do), I've been stuck indoors attempting to writing a lecture about protein trafficking. I'm completely suck on signal sequences and all the crazy things they do.

Anyway, in an effort to celebrate surviving the holidays as well as the groundhog not seeing his shadow, I'm hosting another sock exchange.

The idea is not my own and those who are not familiar with them should read here and here.  I have added one change to this exchange: it is open to anyone touched by infertility/loss. Though the original idea was to have something interesting to wear while in the stirrups (either as a conversation starter or to keep your feet warm in style) I've come to realize that fertility is not limited to the ability to conceive and carry a pregnancy to term. Far from it, as I'm now met too many who either are still in the trenches or have resolved either through adoption or living without children not by choice or successful treament who live fertile lives. Sometimes far more fertile than those who can easily conceive. So, whether you are newly diagnosed, preparing for treatment, in the thick of treatments, pregnant after IF/loss, parenting after adoption/IF/loss, in the adoption process, made the decision to live without children not by choice, transitioning or simply stuck at the crossroads, this exchange is for you.

Here are the rules:
1) Leave a comment below to let me know if your interested. This exchange is open to anyone who has been touched by IF/miscarriage/infant loss, be it you're currently in treatment, preparing for treatment, recently diagnosed, pregnant after IF/loss, parenting after adoption/IF/loss, pursing adoption, living without children not by choice or even supporting someone dealing with IF.

2) Once you've received your recipient's names, please contact them within 24 hrs. Recipients, please response within 24 hrs too. This is incredibly important so that everyone has all the necessary information. For those who will be difficult to contact, please leave an additional comment with your contact information. I will not publish it, but it will help with making the connections.

3) Socks do NOT need to be handmade. Again, when I originally started doing this, I did it because I'm a crazy knitter who in addition to wanting to give something that was handmade also uses knitting as a form of therapy. Please do not feel that you need to learn to knit, crotchet or sew in order to participate. And there are some amazing sock stores out there.

4) If you can no longer participate in the exchange, please contact me immediately. Yes, life happens and unseen circumstances can require you to focus your energy elsewhere. (Trust me, I get it.) But please don't leave your recipient hanging. I'm more than happy to reassign, as long as I'm aware that you can no longer participate.

Deadline for participation is Saturday February 16th. I'll post a reminder as the deadline comes closer.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Episode 20: living childfree

Before I begin, I realize I forgot to post the link for Episode 19: Fertility 102. Yeah, I'm that out of it. I apologize for not posting sooner.

This week, the Bitter Infertiles tackled an incredibly important yet often misunderstood road of resolution: childfree living. Our guests are two amazing and inspirational women who are helping blaze the trail and educating the public about this choice: Pamela Tsigdinos, author of Silent Sorority and Loribeth who blogs at "The Road Less Traveled."

Ladies, Episode 20 is officially live. Please, regardless of where you are in your journey, go listen.  This episode is probably one of the most powerful and inspirational ones we've done to date. And it's because the message both Loribeth and Pamela bring with them: you are more than the sum of your lady parts. Being able to conceive will not define you as a person (regardless of what society tells you). And fitting into the mold of a nuclear family with 2.5 kids will not equal happiness.

What defines you is how you chose to live your life in the face of the trauma and tragedy that is infertility and loss. What defines you is how you will preserve your family, be it a family of two with your and your partner or any other combination imaginable. For many of us, that will mean making peace that things did not come out exactly the way you wanted. A hard thing to do, as ignoring the pain and drifting is so much easier. But drifting and staying in the same space never results in happy endings. And though change is scary, amazing things can come.

On a personal note, I want to thank Loribeth, Pamela and No Kidding in NZ for teaching me some valuable lessons these last few months. Though I was initially terrified of exploring each of your stories, I'm so glad I did. You have all taught me so much about life and helped me see that though I can't control what happens to me, I can control how I chose to confront each disappointment and moment of pain. You've taught me that from the ashes we can rise like Phoenixes and pursue a life that is full, filled with purpose, happiness and joy. Saying "thank you" is not enough.

Highs and lows

Rough days. Those ones where you wonder why you even rolled out of bed. Yesterday was certainly a rough one, resulting in both Grey and I riding one hell of an emotional rollercoaster.

The groundwork for yesterday's craziness was last week. Classes have started at my institution and your's truly is teaching a brand new course aimed at younger students, resulting in many of my evenings being spent either on writing lectures, quizzes, grading and even managing course logistics. All in all, not a terrible thing, but their first exam is tomorrow, meaning everyone has been a bit stressed.

On top of this, my symptoms disappeared on Friday. The constant nausea I had been fighting for the last few weeks completely vanished and I found I wasn't as tired as I had been. Initially, though I was nervous, I was able to keep the anxiety at bay. But then I did something stupid. In a moment of weakness, I hit Dr. G.oogle and began finding stories about miscarriage and loss. The floodgates where officially open.

By Monday morning I was a wreak. Between work stress, pregnancy stress and home stress (the leak in our roof still haven't been fixed and the idiots who had caused the mess were still trying to gaslight us), it's a wonder I made it through lecture without breaking down. Somehow I managed to keep myself composed as Grey and I drove to the clinic for our ultrasound, repeating to him over and over that I knew I was being ridiculous for worrying. I'm sure I was quite a sight though.

Arriving at the clinic early gave me a chance to sit and meditate. Staring off at Mt. Rainer, I tried to clear my mind of what lay ahead, focusing instead on the exam I still needed to complete and submit that evening. As I continued with mentally writing, I hit a moment where I acknowledged that what I was doing was steeling myself. I was preparing for the ultrasound technician to do a sweep of my uterus and after a moment of silence tell Grey and I the bad news. And that somehow, we would have to walk out of that room and I would have to finish the task that laid in front of me.

So you can only imagine the crippled mess I was when none of that happened.

The ultrasound tech we had is one of my favorites. Warm, kind and a great bedside manner, she completely understood where I was coming from when I told her I no longer had symptoms. Talking me down and acknowledging that it can be scary, she proceeded with the ultrasound and quickly found our Sugar Beat. Heartbeat still very strong and measure 12.5 mm.

And then she moved the wand just slightly and immediately we all took notice. Off to the side of Sugar Beat, in what had previously been an empty second sac, was another embryo. It was hard to get a clear view, based on the angle of the camera, but immediately we saw the familiar flicker of a heart. Initially Grey thought it was simply another angle of Sugar Beat, but when the ultrasound tech brought them up side by side, showing two distinct sacs, all the questions ceased.

At that moment, all I could do was sob.

Later that night, I had an appointment with Dee. We both talked about the events of the day and the rollercoaster I had inflicted upon myself. I told Dee that I didn't know if I could handle another round of it. That after 3 yrs of infertility, loss, despair and grief, that it hurt so much to experience the mania and the depression. There's more though, too. I'm very aware of stress hormones and the effects they have developing fetuses. How flooding the body constantly has negative effects to both mother and child. And I feel that I owe it to these two to do better; to work on finding balance and not allowing things to spiral out of control.

So, last night after I finished writing the exam, I took a mental holiday. I've scheduled breaks into my day, giving me a chance to take walks and observe my surroundings. And I've made a conscious decision to start trusting this process. To believe not only in my doctors and the care they've been providing, but also these two Sugar Beats. Will I slip up? I can guarantee it. But I can't let that stop me from trying to conquer all the bad habits and stress that I've allowed to run my life for so long. Too much is riding on it.
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