Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Badges of Honor

Pregnancy can definitely wreck havoc on a woman's body.  Some of them involve skin changes -- everything from acne to stretch marks to linea negra to a host of other changes are commonplace in pregnancy. Some are more pronounced than others.  And not every woman will experience the same set of them.

But what they all have in common is that they are all what I consider badges of honor.  Rather than lament about these changes (many of which are temporary), I suggest that we embrace them.  After all, there's really not much we can do about them.

Take stretch marks for example.  There are many products on the market that claim to prevent stretch marks or make them fade if you already have them.  But really, aside from not gaining weight too quickly, there's not a whole lot you can do.  My first pregnancy I religiously slathered my belly with topical Vitamin E oil and I did not end up with any stretch marks.  My second I still did it albeit less often and still no stretch marks.  This time around?  I'm happy if I remember to put lotion on my hands much less my belly.  But still no stretch marks.  A different woman could do the same thing I did in my first pregnancy and end up with a road map of marks.

I treat my c-section scar the same way.  Instead of fighting it, I embrace it and wear it proudly as a badge of honor (even though it's only visible to myself, my husband, and my doctor).  Same with the giant blue veins that have suddenly appeared on my body.  I see them as my body doing it's job, nourishing the life within.  And even though my IVF shots left no visible evidence, I wear those as badges of honor too.  They are marks of what I experienced to create my family.

So ladies, instead of fighting these changes, embrace them. We work hard for our children, and these skin changes are proof of that.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

IVF in the news - Remembering one of the pioneers, Robert Edwards

Yesterday the world lost a great man, one who I owe a great debt of gratitude, even though I had never met him.  See, this special person is the one that essentially made my family (and countless others) possible.  In 1978 (the year I was born, oddly enough), this man, along with a colleague, developed IVF.  They didn't know if it was possible, but they believed in trying to make it happen and miraculously enough, they did.

I obviously am not the only one that thought this was a wonderful development in this field.  Edwards, along with his colleague Dr. Patrick Steptoe, were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2010 (technically the award went to just Edwards as Dr. Steptoe had already died and prizes are not awarded posthumously).  They were criticized for their work, accused of playing God, and at one point, Edwards himself took a step back to make sure this was the right thing to do.  Fortunately he came to the conclusion that it was and his research and advances in the science continued.

So, on behalf of the millions of people he has helped (and will continue to help in the years to come), I thank you.

(For the full article on Dr. Edwards' passing, please click this link from the NY Times.)

Monday, April 1, 2013

April Fools' Day

I've never been a fan of April Fools' Day.  I'm not a prankster by nature and I hate having them played on me.  But I'm not about to ruin anyone else's fun so I always kept the secret or when called upon helped in a prank.  As long as I wasn't the victim (and the prank seemed funny), I thought it was all harmless fun.

That is until I started suffering from infertility.  After all, for women of a certain age, playing the old positive pregnancy test prank is a classic one.  It's easy to do, and if you're a good enough actress can be a really convincing one.  It requires no props unless you want to be really convincing and borrow a real test from a pregnant friend; just the words to shock whatever person you're trying to fool like the unsuspecting spouse/significant other, friend, or family member.

As time went on, this prank, instead of funny, became increasingly painful.  And after years of trying, I started to wonder what would happen if I actually did find out I was pregnant on April 1st.  Would anyone believe me?  Would anyone share in my hard won joy?  Or would they all think it was a prank I was playing?  It was an awful feeling.  Even though I'm relatively a private person, there was a small group of people I was counting on to celebrate with me in that moment.

It also opened my eyes to those around me also suffering from infertility.  I saw how that prank may have caused them pain in the past and it really sealed it for me that I would no longer be a part of it, nor find joy in it.  It was no longer harmless fun.  Instead I would prefer to support my friends in their struggles on this day, just like any other day.  And that is no joke....