Friday, May 27, 2016

Five Things Friday

Sorry that I didn't blog this week, but after writing so many posts for CIAW, I needed a bit of a break. I'm here for a quick stop by to share some random pictures for your Friday viewing pleasure and I hope to be back next week to show off how awesome the house is looking. Until then though, enjoy Five Things Friday!

1) Dan showed me this little meme last week and it cracked us both up. The longer you look at it, the better it is. Such a happy little turtle.


2) I was given a knitted hat probably almost two years ago from a family friend and I have never worn it. It got buried with a bunch of random things in my closet and I came across it while unpacking and thought to myself, "I could totally rock this". Wouldn't you agree?


3) Two weeks ago we babysat our niece Izzy for a few hours and were responsible for feeding her lunch. Dan suggested eggs and bacon and she of course agreed. I snapped this picture of them dipping their toast in their egg yolks and I thought it was pretty adorable.


4) Ever since Mia turned 3, her shenanigans have diminished. But the other day she pulled one off that had both Dan and I shaking our heads. She had been playing ball with Dan and was a little warm, so to cool off she decided to go lie in the small stream we have in the back yard. Except for the stream is more of a mud puddle right now and she got completely filthy right before bed. Silly dog.


5) Dan and I went on our first picnic of the year on Monday and it was so nice! We enjoyed the beautiful weather and watched the boats go through the locks. We hope to do this more often this summer.


What has everyone else been up to? Care to share some random Friday musings?

Friday, May 20, 2016

CIAW 2016 - Support is Key

It's the last day of Canadian Infertility Awareness Week and I want to close things off by talking about the importance of support. For those of us trudging through the mires of infertility, we need the support of family and friends and strangers in order to make it through.

A friend of mine showed me a little video and I thought it was so perfect. I'm sharing it here so that you can listen to it and hopefully take something from it.



Really, we just need to know we are not alone. That is the most important part. You may not fully understand what we are going through, but we need you to sit with us and say you are sorry. That's it. If you don't know what to say, just leave it with "I'm sorry".

If you are a more practical person and are looking for ways to show your support, here are a few ideas that you can start from.

1) Send a card. It doesn't have to say much, just say that you are thinking of us and are sorry. It's nice to know others care.

2) Make us food or send us a gift card. When we are in the depths of despair (literally), we can't think about much and we don't have much energy to cook. But like everybody, we need sustenance. A home cooked meal, a gift card to a restaurant or even a box of cookies goes a long way.

3) Send flowers. This one can go both ways, I have heard some people don't like flowers, especially after a loss, because they remind them of funerals or are depressing when they die. For me, I love flowers and absolutely adore getting them. So if you know your friend well and know if flowers would be welcomed, feel free to send some over.

4) Listen. We need someone to listen to us without offering advice or talking back (much). We need a sounding board, someone who can soak up our thoughts and feelings and not judge us for them.

5) Pampering is always good. Chances are we feel pretty crappy about ourselves, so sometimes getting out for a pedicure or a haircut or something indulgent hits the spot. Even better if we can get in some girl time during the process.

6) Chocolate. Okay, so this one isn't exactly showing support but for me at least, it is always welcomed. Chocolate really does make me feel better, if only momentarily.

7) Honour our loss. Whether we are grieving the failure of a cycle or the loss of a baby, finding some way to honour this pain can be meaningful. Some people like keepsakes, such as Willow Tree Figurines, or maybe a flower or tree that can be planted in the yard. Some sort of token to commemorate this huge loss can mean a lot to someone.

Those are just a few things that you can do, but remember that I am just one person with different feelings and opinions. Not everyone will feel supported in the same way, so be sure to gauge that person's personality before doing something. If you're in doubt and not sure what to do, I would stick with just saying you're sorry in a card attached to a meal. You can rarely go wrong there.

This post wraps up Canadian Infertility Awareness Week and I hope that you have learned something from all my writings. I choose to share my story and bare my heart for the greater cause of raising awareness and advocating for those who do not feel comfortable sharing. If I have helped just one person see things a little clearer, I have made progress, and that is good.

Thank you for reading and for sharing over this past week, it means a lot to me. Now take what you have learned and put it into practice, because I am sure you know someone who is struggling with infertility and could use some understanding along this journey.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

CIAW 2016 - Friendships Amidst Infertility

Canadian Infertility Awareness Week continues and with each passing day, I'm finding it harder to write posts on the subject. It's a difficult topic to write on and is emotionally draining as well. But since I'm all about advocating and raising awareness, I will do my best to keep trucking along and finish out the week.

Today's subject is tricky, as it talks about friendships and I am by no means an expert on this. I am still trying to figure out how to navigate the waters of friendship as an adult, especially as an adult without children in a sea of families. When you are the only odd ones out, it makes things complicated. Or as one friend put it "The difficulty of what it's like living with infertility in a world where most of our peers have a different life". How true those words are.

As one goes through life, friends come and go, it's a natural thing to happen. But infertility sometimes speeds up the process of losing friends, whether we like it or not. It is hard to maintain friendships when we are at different places in life. Or when it is too painful to be around pregnant bellies or babies/children. Or when we are too wrapped up in our own pain to be there for someone else. Some of these friends just drift away, without any solid reasons for the separation. Other times we discover that a friend wasn't a true friend and they didn't stick with us during our hard times or support us in any way, so we need to cut them off. Other times we just need a break from the friendship, a step back to protect our self from the pain. We may rekindle this friendship down the road but for the present, it is just too hard. And then sometimes, we hit the jackpot and find that one (or more) amazing friend who sticks with us and loves us when we're hard to be loved. Who listens to us whine and vent and complain, who brings us cookies when we find out another cycle has failed, who reminds us that our pain is real and needs to be felt.

Navigating friendships in the tumultuous sea of infertility is hard, but it can be done. There needs to be some give and take on both sides, like all friendships need, and there needs to be lots of understanding and forgiveness. Infertility can strengthen friendships and cross our paths with others who become some of our best friends. Some of my closest friendships have developed over these past 6 years and it is our similar journeys that have brought us together.

For those of you who are the friends of people who are struggling with infertility, I thought I would give you a few words of advice. Although I really don't like using that word, since I don't want you to think I know it all. But these are some things that I know I (and some of my friends) have appreciated over the years.

1) Validate our feelings. What we are going through is real and hard and cuts us to the core. Please don't blow it off as nothing or something that we will "get over". This is a part of us and we need you to accept us as a whole. Tell us you are sorry and that you love us.

2) Come over to our house sometimes. When all of our friends have kids, we find that most of our get togethers happen at their places, due to the fact that it is just easier. Which it totally is and we understand that. But sometimes, it would be nice to be able to host the dinner or games night or whatever, to open up our homes and be the hospitable ones. We don't need (or want) to do it all the time, but the occasional time would mean a lot to us.

3) Make time for girls only gatherings. We like to be able to spend time with just you, whether it's meeting at a coffee house, having a girls night or even escaping for a girls weekend. We need time with just you. And really, I'm sure you would enjoy a break too.

4) Initiate contact from time to time. We feel so lost and alone - like no one would want to be around us (in most moments we don't even want to be around us). Taking the time to text or call or send a card can really help turn an ugly day into a much better day. We often feel like we are on the outside and barging into your full lives, so it's helpful for us to know that we are wanted in your world too.

5) Be the friend you want to be and have. Simply put, be someone who listens, who is their own person, who has their own life (and doesn't tip toe around that fact) but is invested and fully present when they can be. Having an infertile friend means that their feelings of brokenness are triggered by different things than your brokenness. Build a friendship that makes both of you feel whole in and despite of your brokenness.

Like I said, maintaining friendships amidst infertility is hard. But it is possible and with some work and dedication, it has great rewards.

I'm going to end this here, because I'm not really sure what else to say. Before I do though, I want to thank my friend who helped with some of the tips, you know who you are, and I appreciate your input and encouragement. Yours is one of the amazing friendships that has risen out of this infertility mess and I am forever grateful for your patience and love.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

CIAW 2016 - Think First, Then Speak

Today for Canadian Infertility Awareness Week I'm going to share some things people have said to me and other friends struggling with infertility. These are words that can hurt, even without meaning to, and I wanted to share them as some examples of what not to say. This is obviously not a complete list and some of these things are hurtful or offensive to some and not to others. So don't necessarily follow this list to the letter, just keep in mind that words do hurt and you should be careful of what you say when it comes to having children or trying to get pregnant.

Some things not to say...
  • You want kids? Here you can have mine
  • At least you can sleep through the night
  • Do you have any kids? Do you want them?
  • Have you tried <insert method here>
  • It's probably all the toxins you eat
  • Does your husband drink pop/soda - it's probably that...
  • Maybe you're not supposed to have kids
  • You'd make such good parents... you should have kids.
  • Your parents must be disappointed you have a dog and didn't give them grandchildren
  • You're still young, you have plenty of time
  • Do you keep a cellphone in your pocket/purse? It's probably affecting your fertility
  • No kids yet? Better get cracking!
  • You're not trusting God enough
  • At least you know you can get pregnant (after a miscarriage)
  • Well at least it (your miscarriage) happened early, it wasn't actually a baby yet
  • God has a plan!
  • Maybe you should volunteer with children
  • If it's meant to be...
  • You can always adopt
  • At least it is fun trying
  • You look pregnant
  • God works in mysterious ways
  • Maybe you are meant to do something else
  • I know how you feel, we tried for 6 months before we got pregnant
  • My friend got pregnant when...
  • Is it you or your husband?
  • Ah well, I don't even want kids so it wouldn't be a big deal for me
  • I never wanted kids, but I got them
  • At least you have a stepdaughter
  • Just relax and it will happen
  • Everything happens for a reason
  • I know someone who tried for years, they adopted and then got pregnant right away!
So there you have it, some things that have been said that others have found hurtful. Remember that your words, although meant well, don't always come across that way. Sometimes we can just brush it off and chalk it up to not knowing better, but sometimes it cuts deep and stays with us forever.

Once again, I'm not pointing any fingers and please don't worry yourself to death if you have ever been guilty of saying one of these things. We all say things we later regret, no one is perfect. If you want, you can always apologize to your friends for something you may have said or you can just let it slide. This post is more to raise awareness and help you in future situations.

If you have anything to add, please feel free to comment.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

CIAW 2016 - Tell Us Gently

Today for Canadian Infertility Awareness Week I am going to talk about pregnancy announcements and how you can break it to your friends and family dealing with infertility a little more gently.

Finding out someone is pregnant is never easy for those of us dealing with infertility. Sometimes we can take it like a champ and actually congratulate you and sometimes it can be downright devastating. Like shatter our world, our heart literally breaks, we can't breathe kind of devastating. Sometimes we end up ugly crying in the most awkward of places, like work bathrooms, Walmart parking lots or family gatherings. Controlling our emotions when we hear a pregnancy announcement is not an easy task and depending on the day, it can be impossible.

Some pregnancy announcements hurt more than others, and that is okay. If we got married at the same time as someone and they announce they are pregnant, it's hard not to compare our paths and feel left out. If someone is pregnant after one month of trying, it is hard not to be bitter that we've been at this for x amount of years and still haven't succeeded. If someone announces their baby's due date and it lines up with the pregnancy we just lost, it is hard not to completely lose it.

There are a multitude of reasons to find pregnancy announcements hard, but there are also ways that the announcer could be gentle and respectful of those dealing with infertility. This is definitely not a complete list and it will also depend on the person/connection to them, but over the years, these are things that I have appreciated and I wanted to share. I also did ask around to some friends to see if they had anything to add to the list.

1) Tell us privately
Announcing in a big group and completely blindsiding the infertile person is a big no-no. There is a lot of pressure to keep calm and not have a meltdown, which puts lots of extra pain onto the person struggling. Personally, it has always been better if the person has told me alone. And by alone, I don't mean face to face. I mean by a phone call or email/Facebook message. If it's close family, a phone call is appreciated and if it's friends or extended family, an email or Facebook message works well. For me, I like to be able to react how I need to and not have to put on a happy face. I can then respond with well thought out words and cry in private, without making the announcer feel bad.

2) Choose your words carefully
When telling someone you are pregnant, be careful with your words. Saying something like "We are finally pregnant!" after only trying for a few months just hits those going through infertility the wrong way. For some of us, we have been trying for many many years and feel like your few months is nothing. In the same boat, if you are lucky enough to get pregnant quickly, don't rub that in. In fact, don't mention it at all. Don't say "It only took us a month" or "That happened so quickly". I find it really hard to not get bitter when someone continually mentions how easy it is for them to get pregnant.

3) Minimize your social media posts
Pregnancy is exciting and thrilling and deserves to be celebrated. You are allowed to want to share this exciting journey with friends and family and you have every right to do so. But for those of us in the mires of infertility, we can find social media, especially Facebook, hard. It is hard to go on there and see post after post talking about pregnancy and pictures showing cute baby bumps and ultrasound videos. It reminds us that we still don't have the one thing we want so much. What I know some people have done and what I always planned to do if I ever was lucky enough to get pregnant, was create a private Facebook group that you could post all things pregnancy related to. This way you can add family and friends to the group and share to your hearts content. And people who find it too painful to see all these posts don't need to join. I would also like to add that if you do decide to do a general Facebook announcement, it goes a long way to give your infertile friends a heads up before doing so. That way, they can avoid Facebook for a day or two while the general hype dies down.

4) Be wary of timing
There is never actually a good time to hear a pregnancy announcement, so you will never fully win with this one. But if you happen to know that your friend is currently in their two week wait or just got a negative test or it is the due date for a baby they miscarried, maybe wait a few days before sharing your happy news. Another good rule of thumb is don't announce right before bed. It's hard enough to process the news of another pregnancy announcement without being overtired and then unable to sleep because you are too busy crying or raging.

5) Don't wait
I can imagine that it would be hard to tell someone you are pregnant when you know they are dealing with infertility. I know that it must not be pleasant for you either and it's hard to knowingly inflict pain on someone else, even if it is not intended. But I will say this, not telling us because you are scared of hurting us doesn't make it any easier. Word will eventually get out and it will hurt more if we hear the news from someone else, instead of from you. So yes, choose your words and timing carefully, but don't put it off longer than you should. We deserve to know along with everyone else, not weeks or months later. Keeping it a secret will hurt us more in the long run. This doesn't mean you need to tell us immediately, but if you are announcing to the general public, tell us too.

I think that about sums up this post. There may be other ways to announce gently and if you have any advice or input, please feel free to add it in the comment section.

There is no gentle way to announce a pregnancy to an infertile friend or family member, but there are ways to be kind and loving. Just remember that and you will be okay.

Monday, May 16, 2016

CIAW 2016 - Respect Our Decisions

Today is day three of Canadian Infertility Awareness Week and I am back with another post! Since this subject is so near and dear to my heart, I thought it was worth some daily posting. I hope you enjoy reading these posts and are sharing them when you see fit. The whole goal here is to raise awareness and my personal goal is to educate others on how it feels to live with infertility.

This post will talk about decisions and the importance of respecting them. Sharing my infertility journey has had its pros and cons from the get go and while I am happy that we are so open about it, some days I wish we weren't. And want to know why? Because some people don't know how to respect boundaries.

Everyone's infertility journey is similar and different all at once, but I'm sure some of the following can be related to on some level.

1) Respect our decision to not attend baby showers
This is a tough one for those of us on this infertility/loss journey, because these parties are solely focused on the new life that will arrive or has just arrived. While we may be happy for the new mother and excited for the arrival of the baby, attending a party that celebrates this new life may be too much for us. It is not because we would wish the outcome any different, it's because it hits a little too close to home and we need to protect ourselves from some pain. Plus, we don't want to attend and then turn into a blubbering mess in the bathroom and take away from the excitement and happiness of the party. It also needs to be mentioned though, that if we do choose to attend the shower, we should totally get some sort of prize. Kidding, but realize that it is a big step to go to one of these parties and it is usually done out of love. As a rule, I personally don't attend baby showers anymore. If I am close to the mother, I will send a card and a gift separately, but opt out of the party. Sometimes a little note explaining why I am not attending is necessary but since we have been so open about our journey, most people know why I am not there. Whatever we decide to do, respect that decision and don't put pressure on us one way or another. The decision is ours and that is okay.

2) Respect our decision concerning treatments
When we have been on the infertility road for a while, there will come a point when decisions need to be made regarding treatment. Making these decisions can be so hard and take a lot of thought, they are not usually made on a whim. Fertility treatments take time, they take money, they are emotionally and physically draining and they basically consume your life. Everyone needs to make these decisions for themselves and they definitely don't need unsolicited advice. What works for one person, may not work for someone else. One person may choose to do IVF while someone else may decide it's not for them. Hearing the opinions of others on the ethics or expense or whatever of these treatments doesn't help and usually crosses the line of appropriate boundaries. If someone is to the point of treatment, it is usually because everything else hasn't worked. Unless this person asks for your advice or opinions, keep them to yourself. For me, we researched and asked questions and discussed with our doctor what our options were and then made the decision as a couple as to what we felt comfortable with. It is hard enough to make these decisions without someone else weighing in. The decision is ours and that is okay.

3) Respect our decision to stop trying
Deciding to stop trying for a biological child is never made lightly. Never ever ever. It has usually involved sleepless nights, lots of tears, many talks and a whole bunch of doubts. Each couple knows where their limits are and when they need to step back and say enough is enough. You should never ever tell someone differently. If I have opened up to you and confided in you that we are done trying, you shouldn't try to convince me otherwise. Don't tell me that once we stop trying, we will miraculously get pregnant. Don't tell me that if we adopt, our miracle baby will arrive. Don't tell me that if I only tried "this" I would be healed. Don't tell me that stopping trying means I am playing God. Really, don't tell me anything. If you really want to say something, say "that decision must have been really hard to make, I'm thinking of you". That's it, that's all we need. The decision is ours and that is okay.

I'm finding these posts slightly draining to write. It's hard to write what I really feel and put it into words without making me sound like I'm attacking people. So please, if you are reading these posts and are finding yourselves offended, know that is not my intention. I am not singling anyone out or blaming people for things, I'm just trying to share some of my heart and help others learn. Yes, I have used some real life examples but I usually know that the person is coming to me from a good place, with genuine concern. So don't take anything too personally, just take what you can from what I write and remember I write from my heart, which is definitely not a perfect place.

Just please remember to respect our decisions. That is all I ask. Because it's time.


Friday, May 13, 2016

CIAW 2016 - It Will Always Hurt

This is my second post for Canadian Infertility Awareness Week and I wanted to talk a little bit about how there will always be some degree of pain associated with pregnancy announcements and births.

You see, when you go through infertility, it is very hard not to become bitter towards everyone who is getting what you so desperately want. Yes, we all deal with this differently and there are various levels of hurt depending on where you are in your journey, but one thing I know to be true is that it will always affect us in some way. That's just the way it is with something so big, it changes everything.

Let me try and help you relate, as much as you can.

Think of something that you really really want. Maybe this is something that you have always wanted or maybe it is something that has only recently(ish) been brought into your radar. No matter, all you know is that you want it and you plan to get it. You look around and see that most of your friends and family have it, so it must not be that hard to get. And so, you innocently start your journey to attain this much desired dream. At first, you are still very optimistic that it will soon be yours, but as time passes, you begin to wonder if maybe it won't be as easy as you thought it would be to get. Still, you keep working towards it because after all, it is something that you desperately want.

You've now been trying to reach your goal for a while and there may have been a few unexpected bumps along the way. You may have decided you needed help to get it and reached out to professionals to assist you. Asking for help was hard, because you felt like reaching out meant you were incapable of doing this on your own. But you remind yourself that if someone else can help you get this thing you really really want, it will all be worth it. Maybe you got so incredibly close to your goal, only to have it snatched away from you once you felt like it was in your reach. Maybe you blame yourself for losing it too. You may have spent thousands of dollars paying someone to help you get this thing you so desperately desire, only to find out it was all wasted money.

You feel like a failure. You feel left behind and left out. You feel like you are broken. You wonder why you can't have this thing that you want so badly while others seem to be given it even when they don't always want it. You hurt. A lot.

Now, how would you feel in this situation? Would you be bitter? Jealous? Angry? Confused? Sad? Depressed?

You can definitely imagine how it must feel to not be able to get pregnant or stay pregnant. But you have to live through it to know the depths of pain you go through. I know that no matter how much I try to make others understand how it feels, they will never really know unless they are struggling with infertility themselves. And that is okay. It's to be expected really. It's that way for everything, like cancer or divorce or abuse. Unless you live it, you can't fully comprehend its depths.

This post though, is talking about infertility. And I wanted this post to be a reminder to be sensitive when announcing you are pregnant or given birth to a new little miracle. You are allowed to be happy and excited, because it truly is a happy and exciting time. We in the trenches don't expect you to feel any differently. But what we do ask of you is to be sensitive and caring and remember that it hurts us. While we may be putting on a brave face and sharing in your joy, a little part of us is also crying inside. It is fully possible to be happy and sad all at once, we know because we have been there. Just remember that our sadness is justified and validated and it doesn't mean that you and your baby matter any less. It is not an affront to you or to be taken as an insult. You are just getting what we want so badly and so it hurts. This hurt is normal and okay to feel, remember that.

Sometimes we can be brave and happy and congratulate you and other times we need space and time from you. What we need most from others is understanding. Understanding that it hurts and always will. We need to be told that we are being thought of, that you know it must hurt and that you don't hold it against us. We need you to acknowledge us and our pain alongside the happy excited feelings that come with the birth of a new baby.

And so, to wrap up, remember that we will always feel this pain, no matter how much times passes. Remember that we love you and want you to be happy for yourself, but also to acknowledge our pain. Be gentle and sensitive and it will go a long way.

I'm telling you this because my pain matters too. It's not meant to be at the forefront of everyone's minds and the center of attention, but it is also not to be forgotten. There should be open communication about how I feel, instead of hiding it or feeling like I'm a bad person for being sad and jealous.

Because it's time. It's time to talk about things like this.