Monday, January 28, 2013

Is Infertility a Fight or a Loss?

I saw this secret on PostSecret yesterday.

It's had me thinking.

Do I agree with what the person is saying?

Should infertility be referred to a "fight" like cancer?

I'm just going to write down my meandering thoughts about it and give you a warning in advance that I haven't come to any conclusions.

I think cancer is a "fight" because it is often a life and death situation, like a war or battle. To win the fight with cancer, you live. It goes into remission and you are cancer free. Many losses happen along the way, but no one really counts those as long as you live in the end. People lose their body parts, years of their life, health, and money. But in the end, if you live, you won the "fight."

Infertility is not life-threatening. Yes, it threatens my way of life. But it won't kill me. I may lose body parts, years of my life, health, and money, but I am not really at risk to die. And how would win a "fight" against infertility? By becoming pregnant? Naturally? Does it count if it took serious medical intervention to become pregnant? Without that intervention, that person would never get pregnant, so they are still infertile. If you have a baby with medical intervention, did you win? Even though you'll have to go to those extents all over a gain for a second child? Your body isn't better. You didn't overcome just kind of circumvented it. If you are "infertile" and then a couple years down the road you are able to naturally conceive and have a baby (several times), then were you really infertile to begin with? Does adopting a baby win the fight against infertility (I am here to tell you that it does not - adoption is a cure for childlessness, not infertility). So if there is no way to win this "fight," is it really a fight?

But calling infertility a "loss" isn't right either. A loss is something you had and you lose. You lose your belief that you'll be able to have children. You lose your hopes and dreams. But you only halfway lose them. Because you can do things to gain those things. Like medical intervention. When I think of a loss, I think of losing my mom. She died and she is not coming back. I can dream about her. I can think about her. But I can't go to a doctor and see if he can find a way to circumvent her death. The cruel thing about infertility is that it comes with a bit of hope. The lose isn't complete in many cases (some people - those who are sterile - have complete loss). Month after month, there is a twinge of hope. It bubbles up again and again, no matter how hard you try to keep it down. And the devastation of "loss" happens month after month too. So I am not sure infertility can really be called a "loss" either.

Infertility takes fight, that's for sure. Going through that pain every month. Deciding to close your heart to a lifetime worth of dreams or going to a doctor and having your intimate life analyzed on a calendar, taking hormones that make you crazy, torturing your body and heart, all with the slim chance of getting pregnant. It takes a warrior's heart to be able to do that.

So what is infertility? A fight? A loss? A mountain to climb? A disability? I live with it every day and I find it...undefinable.

What are your thoughts on this postcard?

P.S. I had been thinking of the "fight" vs. "loss" on an individual level. When looking at it from a societal level, I do believe infertility should be a "fight" and have more attention. Infertility rates are going up. That is terrifying. Whether that's from some kind of environmental issue, toxicity in food/poor nutrition, genetic mutations, whatever, I don't know. But it is scary. And it isn't very well supported. Very few insurance companies cover infertility expenses - because it's not a health issue, right? Insurance covers Viagra. Because obviously the inability to maintain an erection is seriously devastating to your health and life, but not being able to reproduce doesn't matter.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

I Miss You

My talented husband wrote and recorded this song and then put this wonderful video together.

Friday, January 18, 2013

10 Ways You Can Tell I Am Not a Celebrity

Even though  I am drop-dead sexy enough to be a starlet...

1. I own five pairs of shoes.
2. No one notices if I gain five pounds.
3. I am registered as a Republican and I own a gun
4. I have never eaten quinoa in my life
5. My vacations are in places like Island Park, Idaho, or maybe Las Vegas. I have never been to St. Tropez.
6. I only have 300 followers on Twitter
7. I arguably have the cutest kids ever and no one pays me millions for their pictures. In fact, I post them online for free (but they are so cute, I really could start charging money to look at them)

8. I have to wait in line
9. No one gives me golden, naked figures when I am particularly adept at my job
10. I wear underpants.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Noelle Blowing Raspberries

Raspberries are in season!

It's sure a lot more fun to wake up to this sound in the monitor every morning than crying. So cute. :)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

By Dying, My Mom Is Saving My Life

A month (and an hour and ten minutes) ago my mom died..

I have never gone this long without hearing her voice. I know that seems like a no-brainer, but I have probably gone three weeks without talking to her before. Stretches like that weren't unusual. But never a month.

My mom officially died of a stroke. But there were contributing factors. One of which was an atrial septal defect in her heart--a hole in her heart that allowed blood clots to bypass the normal clot filtration system and go to her brain, thus causing the stroke.

If only the doctors knew about this heart problem before the surgery...

When I learned about this, I silently vowed to myself that I would insist on having my heart thoroughly checked out before having any kind of surgical procedure again.

After Christmas, I had my annual physical. Upon hearing about my mother's death, my physician was very inquisitive about the causes. Because holes in the heart can be genetic, he listened hard to detect a murmur in me. We tried all kinds of positions and activities - sitting down, lying down, up-side-down, jumping up, and crouching down. He did not hear one. Still, just to put my mind at ease, he got me an appointment for an echocardiogram before the new insurance year rolled around.

The next day I went in for an echo and a bubble study. It was interesting in and of itself, but also interesting knowing it was the exact type of test my mother had just a couple of weeks before while she was in the coma.

I didn't get the results back until last Friday.

I have the same defect.

The doctor recommends heart surgery to close it.

I meet with the cardiologist next Monday. I expect his recommendation to be the same. The procedure should be able to be accomplished through a catheter going through an artery--no need to open my chest up or anything.

Justin's a bit of a worried mess about it all. I'm pretty chill about it, though I feel like Edward Bloom from the story Big Fish who saw his own death in the witch's eye. A clot would go to my brain and I would have a stroke, same as my mother...same as my grandmother. But really, now that we know about the heart defect and we can correct it, that scenario is being erased and my end is being rewritten.

Upon learning about my mother's heart and her subsequent stroke as I sat by her side in the hospital, I felt angry at her body. It had betrayed her. It had betrayed us all. It is not an unfamiliar feeling. I felt (and sometimes still feel) that way about my own body that refuses to get pregnant. And now I just discovered another way my body was ready to betray me again.

But a friend said to me that my mom saved my life. I am glad Ryan said that because I hadn't thought of it that way. I suppose she died because it was her time and all that, but her death pushed me to have my heart checked out. Now I will have it fixed and it will never be a worry. And my diagnosis is prompting all my siblings to have their hearts checked in the near future. More lives might be saved. Part of me wonders if she had any say in how she died. And if any part of her spirit knew that her death could prolong her children's lives, I know that should would have chosen to lay down her life.

All I know is that I will not die the same way my mother did. Her death has quite possibly saved my life.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Joci's World 2

I was tucking Joci into bed, anxious to get her settled so I could get on with a child-free evening. I sang three songs, told a story, and all that. As I was getting ready to leave, Joci kept saying, "Mom! Mom. Mo-om."

"What?" I asked, a little exasperated.

"You need to be patient and just lay by me."

How can you resist that? The Big Bang Theory can wait five more minutes.


We were camping and Joci noticed a yellow moon shining through the trees.

"The moon is stuck in the trees!"

"Yes it is."

"We need it get it down!" she said, concerned.

I always think it's best to let kids come up with their own solutions. "How should we do that, Joci?" I asked.

"I know," she said confidently. "I will turn into a cow and then I will jump over the moon."


"Everyone has a bum....And clothes....And a closet."


One morning we were going to go out to breakfast together after I took Noelle to daycare. I explained this to Joci. "I will drop Noelle off and then we'll go."

"No, Mom! You don't drop Noelle!"


Another literal interpretation. One day when picking the girls up at daycare, as always, I told Joci to wait on the sidewalk while I got her sister taken care of.

"Stay here while I put Noelle away in the car."

"No! She is not a toy! You don't put her away!"


We were leaving our ward Halloween party, and Joci was reluctant to go because she was having so much fun. She sat down on the grass and rested her cheeks in her hands (so dramatic!) and said, "Are you kidding me?"

We laughed so hard. We kept asking her the same thing, "Are you kidding me?"

She would say stuff like, "Are you kidding my mom?"

So then Justin asked, "Are you kidding my wife?"

And then Joci retorted, "Are you kidding my life?"

We laughed so hard and that saying has stuck. Now everything is answered with a cheeky, "Are you kidding my life?"


We were driving in the car in the dark. Joci had some books she was trying to read. She asked me to turn the light on. I explained that I couldn't, I needed the light off to drive in the dark. Then she pertinently said, "You ruined my life!" She went on and on about that until a passing car shone it's headlights on her book. Then she was happy (even though the light was only there for a split second). I asked her if I had ruined her life anymore. "No, my life isn't ruined anymore. Just a couple minutes were ruined."


Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Most Difficult Gift I've Ever Bought

I always thought jeans were the hardest thing to shop for. I know better now.

Before my mom's shoulder surgery, she did about all she could to get ready for Christmas, knowing she was going to be without the use of her arm for awhile. She put up the Christmas tree, the stockings, all the other decorations, and bought many of her intended gifts.

She called me a couple of days before her surgery to discuss my kids' Christmas presents. She told me her budget then asked me if I thought she should send money for their bank accounts or if they would like/need presents. She knew they get pretty spoiled by their other grandparents and she wondered if they really needed more stuff or if money in the bank was better. She brought up a fair point, but as I thought about it, I told her that I bet Joci would like to open a gift from her Grandma Normandie. My mom agreed. She told me she didn't have time to shop, so she was going to send a check and would I buy a gift for Joci and put money in Noelle's account? She was in such a hurry to get it all taken care of. I told her not to rush, there was time. She could get the check to me after her surgery. She didn't need to stress herself out about it.

And then my mom died.

While I was in St. George, I kept wondering if I would come back home and find a letter and a check from her. I greedily rifled through my mail when I got home, looking for her familiar writing on an envelope. There was nothing. She had taken my advice and not rushed herself. Not that I wouldn't have cashed the check anyway. I just wanted a last token from her.

I decided I would carry out my mom's Christmas wishes anyway and buy a present for Joci from her. I had no idea what I would buy from her before her death, and I certainly didn't know after her death. I put off the task until the last minute - late afternoon Christmas Eve.

I found myself at Toys R Us, hoping to find the perfect last gift. I sniffed back tears as I wandered the aisles. Do I get something long-lasting and meaningful? Sentimental?Something Joci may not appreciate just yet? Or do I get a fun little gift that Joci will adore and play with right away and be grateful to her grandmother? Something that will soon be outgrown or forgotten?

I finally decided to throw my mom's budget out the window and do one of each - a fun gift and a timeless, sentimental gift. This decision gave me some direction, but still...what do I get for the last gift? It was errand that broke my heart.

But finally I found a set of gifts that I felt was perfect.

First there was this:

A Snoopy snow cone maker. I had the same one when I was a kid. It lasted forever and brought a lot of fun for years and years. The nostalgia of it was perfect. Plus it was on sale, 50% off. Mom *totally* would have approved.

And then this:

A Precious Moments angel figurine holding a candle. A representation of Joci's Angel Grandma lighting the way for her. She instantly knew how special this gift was and holds it with such reverence.

The gifts were perfect. Thanks, Mom, for helping me pick them out. We will treasure them for always.


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