Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How RESOLVE Changed my Life


*Resolve to Know More Blog 3 of 7
for National Infertility Awareness Week 2014

Late December, 2010:
I was so excited for my ultrasound. Finally we were pregnant after months of trying!! I was just about to seek the help of a fertility specialist because I couldn’t get pregnant on my own, and then BAM! I was knocked up!

My husband and I went together one cold winter morning before work to the first ultrasound. We were holding hands and beyond excited when the ultrasound tech entered the room and put the wand on my belly. Her silence and seriousness made me nervous. “Is something the matter?” I asked. Emotionless and Vulcan-like, she said, “I will let the doctor come and explain everything.” And she left. My husband and I waited in the darkened exam room for what seemed like an eternity. Finally a doctor came in and said in a cavalier tone (and I still want to kick her in the ass for her egregious bedside manner!), “Your fetus has implanted in your cervix and will not survive. You have to go to the emergency room immediately and get a shot of chemotherapy called methotrexate. You will miscarry at home in a few days.” I asked if I had a choice, and she said in a tone that made me wonder if her blood temp was above 32 degrees, “If you don’t go to the ER now, your cervix will rupture, you will hemorrhage, and probably die. Best case scenario is a complete hysterectomy.”

Well good morning to you too, bitch.

I don’t want to dwell on the doom and gloom of this story, so let me wrap up by saying that after a 12-hour-wait with my amazing husband in the ER, I was given a shot of methotrexate in the ass, we cabbed home, and I spent the next five weeks bleeding so heavily that I went into mild shock one midnight, scaring the crap out of my husband, and was monitored at home on total bed rest to control the bleeding. I obviously lost the baby, but I thankfully made a complete recovery and was able to achieve a successful pregnancy just over a year later, resulting in the live birth of my angel baby, Nicolette Star. She is from the heavens.

OK, that god-awful part of the story is out of the way, but I had to share it because it is what led me to the life-changing night I attended my first RESOLVE Peer-led support group. These groups are confidential, so I am unable to sing the praises of specific women, but I can tell you what I gained from attending these monthly meetings.

I wasn’t expecting much from that first meeting, except to listen to people and hear their stories. I sat silently listening for an hour or more in a café, and the leader gently invited me to share why I was there. She shared her story too, which was a god-awful tale of something like 7 miscarriages and a birth defect, with the happy ending of 3 biological children through surrogacy. A peer-led group means that the person leading the group has been through as much shit if not more than you on your fertility journey. She (or he) is not a doctor or social worker, but someone just like me or you that has lived in the trenches of trying to conceive. 

I shared my traumatic experiences with faces looking back at me that just got it, felt the understanding and empathy in their eyes, and that night was the first step in moving forward in my attempts to become a parent.

I was absolutely terrified of having another miscarriage, especially since mine was particularly traumatic, but I knew if I were to ever have a kid, I needed to go to a reproductive endocrinologist (or “RE” for short.). I was overwhelmed at the amount of REs and trying to decipher their success rates and understand their various approaches to treatment. At the Resolve meetings, the women shared first-hand experiences with various REs in town, discussed the side effects they were experiencing each week from meds, the best and worst fertility acupuncturists in town, helpful herbal supplements, first-hand accounts with IVF, IUI, donor eggs, surrogacy, sperm banks, PCOS, endometriosis, molar pregnancy, age-related infertility, birth defects, financing fertility treatments, various IVF protocols, and more. 

Aside from the tears shed, laughter, and genuine support and concern, the knowledge I gained helped ease my fears. The terrible “unknowns” were becoming known to me through shared experiences, allowing me to realistically see myself moving forward with treatment. Thank GOD for these women, because if it weren’t for them—and especially the leader of this particular group, whom I consider a good friend today—I never would have had the courage to step foot into an RE’s office. That is a big deal. It means I would not have my beautiful daughter here with me today. That means I would not be a mommy if it weren’t for Resolve.

There is so much stigma surrounding infertility and no one wants to talk about it. But if people would talk about it, there would be many more happy, growing families. I thought I knew so much about infertility before I attended a Resolve meeting, but I had many eye-opening moments there. One in particular was realizing that infertility does not segregate. I thought it mostly was an older woman’s issue, but surprisingly, just about every woman in attendance was in their 20s and 30s, with only some in their 40s. The women (and sometimes men) in these groups are diverse in age, race, financial status, and career path. But the common thread that binds us is the desire, that ancient burning fire from deep within, to be somebody’s mommy. And that washes away any differences that could become a chasm in other circumstances. That rare type of uniting is a very special benefit of Resolve.

We have met out for dinner and drinks outside of meetings, and I have joked that we look like a walking Benetton ad. It makes me so happy to see so many different types of women coming together in genuine friendship and support.

I am now a mommy, and so are many of the women I met in the Resolve group a few years ago. We have had playdates in the park with our babies, attended each other’s kids’ birthday parties. We email, text and speak regularly, asking and offering advice about mommy stuff as well as non-mommy stuff.

Resolve has had a direct impact on my life, and I am so grateful to have had the courage to step into that first meeting. I encourage any woman or man with infertility to not suffer in silence any longer. Please contact Resolve and find a peer-led support group in your area. Joining Resolve is one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Resolve Girlfriends—and you know who you are—I love you!

*In support of National Infertility Awareness Week  (and my own healing process), I have hijacked my own cooking blog to come out of the closet and discuss infertility. I hope that these blog entries will help—even if just a little bit— lift the terrible stigma that surrounds this disease. The amazing people involved with the non-profit organization Resolve have supported me every step of the way on this 5-year-long, insane journey. I will always be grateful.

I would be honored if you would help spread awareness by sharing this blog on your Facebook, Twitter or other social media pages!


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