Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Escape to Paradise

To celebrate “our” graduation (like most law school spouses, Duane considers himself an “honorary” graduate by virtue of the fact that he put up with me for the past three years) we decided that a brief jaunt to Key West was in order. “Activities” consisted of lying on the beach, taking naps, drinking mass quantities of champagne cocktails, taking naps, enjoying scrumptious outdoor dinners, reading non-law school related books on the balcony of our bed and breakfast retreat, taking naps, cycling around the island, antiquing, and oh, did I mention taking naps? It was, in short, a most glorious, relaxing and rejuvenating weekend.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Baby Bill(s)

Like any hopeful mother, I occasionally find myself browsing just-for-mommy sites, despite the fact that I am not quite an “official” member of the club yet. Recently, I found a site with a cost-of-raising a child calculator. Neat, right? The page displays a list of “expense” boxes, and I just plug in the year my child will be born, where I live, my annual household income, and whether I want my child to attend public or private college. Then, voila, the calculator spits out a figure reflecting what I will spend in a lifetime raising my child-- with a cute little disclaimer “not to despair” because my income will likely increase over time. Apparently, the figure I should “not be despairing” over is $282,416. Really? That’s it? For an entire lifetime? What a relief! I might as well have two or three. No wait, maybe even a Duggar-style family. 

As someone forced to create my family through infertility treatment, this figure seems quite laughable. $14,560 for the first year? As in, I pay $14,560 over the course of an entire year AND receive all kinds of tangible items in return? I vaguely remember last year forking over 4x that amount, in a matter of seconds, as we handed our clinic a check in exchange for the mere chance of getting pregnant. I can’t help but wonder what a cost-of-making-a-baby-through- infertility-treatment site might look like. Would there even be enough room on the page for the expense boxes? Would the calculator even be able to add that high? And what about the disclaimer? Probably more along the lines of : “Go ahead and jump now. You’re doomed.”

While I certainly don’t begrudge those folks who get to skip right to the baby raising stage (ok, if I'm being completely honest, maybe, sometimes--but just a little), why not level the playing field a little for those of us who can’t seem to graduate from the baby making stage? Well Americans (sorry international blogland friends, this one’s not for you) now is our chance! On May 12, 2011, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the Family Act of 2011, a bill that would provide a tax credit for out-of-pocket infertility treatment costs! Are you jumping up and down yet??? This is SO exciting! However, in order to make this a reality, we ALL (as in you, your family, your friends, your friends-friends--everyone) need to contact our Senators and let them know that we not only support, but desperately NEED this credit. Please take less than two minutes to: Send an email to your U.S. Senators asking them to co-sponsor the Family Act. 

While I feel blessed to have stumbled upon the incredibly unique opportunity to seek treatment in India, the fact is, that regardless of where an individual seeks treatment, and regardless of what type of treatment is sought, the bills quickly begin to add up. For once, I am none to happy to hear of a bill that will actually put money into my pocket, rather than take it out. So if you are too, please take a minute and let your legislators know...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Dear Mom... I Love You (and yes, this is also a test to see how often you read my blog)

Yesterday I graduated law school. As most know, it also happened to be Mother’s Day. Not only did I make it through what is inarguably one of the toughest days of the year for mommy wannabes, I also had one of the most incredible days of my life. (I know, I know, I’m sure racking them up these past two weeks. However, I promise to make up for it this summer as I blog endlessly about the miserably mundane life of a law school graduate studying for the bar.)

About four months ago my mother called and asked for the date of my graduation. I looked online and discovered that it was May 8. I then pulled out a calendar to figure out on what day of the week May 8 would fall. Panic ensued. MOTHERS DAY?!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!? MY special day celebrating something I had worked SO hard for had to fall on the most anxiety-inducing day of the year? A day when all a woman who suffers from infertility wants to do is disable her facebook, hide under the covers and count the hours until it’s over. REALLY?!?! Can’t we please just reschedule? It’s not a large class…really…any other day but THAT one.

Needless to say, the date was set and whether I liked it or not, the day celebrating one of my biggest achievements would be shared with the day that recognizes one of my biggest failures. And yet, it was almost appropriate, as my time in law school was inextricably tied to my infertility. Three years ago, at about the same time I decided that I wanted to return to school, my husband and I decided we wanted to start our family. Like most mid-twenty somethings I was blissfully unaware that life CANNOT be planned and viewed having children like adding another class to my schedule. Having children while I was in school would enable me to stay home with them during the day, go to school at night, and begin a new career right about the time that they were ready to enter preschool. It was SO perfect.

Four months into law school my plans began to crumble. My first pregnancy loss. Then another, and another, and another. Endless fertility treatments. Driving to my clinic at 4 a.m. three times a week-- a FOUR hour round trip-- then working all day and driving downtown for school at night. Planning cycles around exam schedules, planning classes around injection times, planning externships around HCG result days. This was NOT what I had signed up for.  

But rather than focus on what I had not gotten out of the past three years, I decided yesterday that I would focus on what I had gotten out of the past three years and in turn, what I could carry forward with me as I begin this new chapter in my life. I had gained strength, I had gained perspective, and above all, I had gained a newfound appreciation for the phenomenal mother that I have. 

Yesterday was my mother’s special day. But what did she do? She sat through a three hour graduation for ME, threw a party for ME, made a toast to ME, gave presents to ME, and darn if she didn’t even mention the MD word. Like many law school graduates I haven’t exactly decided what I want to “be” after graduation. But I do know this. If given the opportunity to “be” a mother, I can only hope that I will parent with half the sensitivity and empathy of my own mother, and that in turn, my children will love me as I much as I love her. To the greatest mother EVER... I love you.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Everything's Gonna Be Alright

Throughout my life I have been fortune enough to experience a handful of life changing events so memorable that neither the most eloquent writer nor the most skilled photographer could ever begin to capture their essence. Luckily, these experiences are forever embedded in my memory and permanently engraved on my heart; attending Resolve: The National Infertility Association’s Advocacy Day in D.C. this week with over 100 other women (and men) who suffer from the disease of infertility was one of those experiences.

Due to the isolating nature of infertility, women who are going through treatment often form bonds via local support groups or online forums. Having experienced so many disappointments, I have avoided these groups like the plague-- always fearful that eventually everyone except me would get pregnant, and in addition to being the failure amongst all of my “fertile” friends, I would also be the failure amongst all of my “formerly infertile” friends. After a few short moments in D.C., I realized how wrong I was.

First, nobody is ever “formerly infertile.” Many of the women I met had children. Regardless, all bore scars of infertility. Scars not only of lost pregnancies, but of lost marriages, lost jobs and worst of all, lost self-identities-- permanent markings on their lives that may fade with time but will never completely disappear.

Everyone’s story was different. Fifteen IVFs, repetitive adoption scams, seven miscarriages, five failed donor egg cycles, a surrogate who backed out at the last minute… the list was endless. And yet, the women I met were SO similar-- strong, beautiful, accomplished women, who, whether they had successfully built their families or were living childfree, had selflessly taken time out of their lives to come to D.C. and make it different for those who are still chasing their dream of having a family. Those, who like me, are traveling, literally, across the world for treatment because in the US it is just too damn expensive. 

When treatment fails or a pregnancy is lost, it is not the sadness of losing that particular pregnancy that haunts you. It is the raw gripping fear that the next one or the one after that or the one after that will not work-- fear that you will NEVER become the mother you so desperately desire to be. Since attending Advocacy Day, for me, that fear has loosened its grip. After  meeting SO many inspiring women, I just know that regardless of whether I become that mother or not, I will be an advocate for those who want to be, and that despite not having the slightest idea of  how my story will end, I have found peace that eveything’s gonna be alright.