Friday, September 3, 2010

Deep Thoughts

So I've really thought about it... A lot... And, to say the comments from that person's page don't bother me would be a lie.  Because, really, who likes to hear trash about themselves.  But, in a day of thinking, I've come to several conclusions.

First, I actually kind of feel sorry for the person.  I read through some of her pages (I know...  Everyone would say that was a waste of my time) and found out that, although she is my age and wants eight kids, she is currently celibate.  That has to be painful.  To want a family but to not be active towards one.  On top of that, I found a few contradictions (like infertility treatments should only be for people who are older or ill and need help conceiving, yet she considers my PCOS not an illness worthy of fertility treatments.)  And this got me thinking.  Most people believe infertility to be something you just move on from.  They dont view it as a disease.  And, therefore, it is easy to say "Just live childless" or "Just adopt" (which, I take offense to because there should never be a "just" in front of adopt, as though it is some substandard option).  But infertility is a problem and should be treated as such.

Would we tell the woman with breast cancer to just "deal" with her misshapen breasts or make harsh comments if she opted for breast augmentation?  Or, if someone lost their hair to alopecia, would we make fun of them for choosing to wear a wig?  Of course not...  Because they are sick and these are valid treatments for their psyches and for what the disease robs of them.

I have Hashimoto's- should I forgo my medication?  PCOS took my menstrual cycle and ovulation away; FSH injections gave me them back.  It is a medication for a disease.  And, yes, I was able to conceive and am grateful for that, but treating a disease is one of the benefits of modern medicine.  I had surgery to correct my IC, which is a physical condition.  Why wouldn't I?  Why wouldn't someone with cataracts have eye surgery?  It's not different.  These are diseases and conditions and their treatments.  Pregnancy doesn't make a difference if you are trying to repair things that are broken in your body.

The writer seems to have a problem with young marriage and people under 35 actively trying to conceive.  I make no apologies for being a young bride.  It was the best decision I ever made.  Her argument is, if it is the real thing, then why not wait a while.  My parents dated for years and divorced after 20.  My best friend waited until she was out of college after several years of dating and divorced after 9.  Waiting doesnt prolong marriage any more than early marriage does.  I've been with Peter since 1998 and I wouldnt change one thing.  The struggles of being married young only strengthened us, as did growing up, in many ways, did.  I'm grateful for that.  As to trying to conceive from the moment of our marriage, we knew we wanted a family and that I would struggle to conceive due to my amenorrhea.  Since we werent sure how long conceiving would take, we started early.  And yes, we dont believe in birth control (another source of contention with the writer).

I was 27 when I met Dr. Lee.  Considering fertility is considered to nose dive around 28, this doesn't seem overly young to me.  I'd accomplished what I wanted professionally and I was ready to be a housewife and stay-at-home mother.  Contrary to the writer's obvious bias against those choices, they are that: my choices.  I choose to stay at home.  It wasn't forced on me, nor should it be forced on anyone.  She diagnosed my illness and prescribed a treatment which worked and found us pregnant.  Unfortunately, my IC was an underlying condition that was left untreated and ended in the loss of our pregnancy.  With my first trimester losses, we dont know the causes because, unfortunately, miscarriages prior to 8 weeks are common and there is a lack of understanding regarding the cause.  It pains me that my IC wasn't treatable until I became pregnant with Bobby and Maya, but I am grateful every day that it was and I was able to carry them as far as I did.

The writer makes a fairly large deal out of my losses and that, perhaps, God was telling me that I shouldnt have biological children.  Wow... To think that all it takes is fertility treatments to circumvent God...  I now know what to do whenever I want to go "one up" on God- medical science!  The God I believe in is more powerful than that; if I werent meant to conceive, then I never would have.  End of story.  We all know people who have undergone serious fertility treatments (and I dont consider medication "serious" fertility treatments) without success.  So, it does happen.  Science cant answer all of our questions or fix all of our illnesses.  But to say that God doesnt want something and our doing it made it possible?  I dont believe that.  And, until she or I talk to God in person, neither of us will know what God can do, cant do, or wants.  If we believe that God is the architect of life, then all life comes from him.  Regardless of whether that conception took place with or without assistance.

Yes, adoption makes you a parent, just like birthing a child does.  And yes, we plan to adopt.  In fact, we were working with an agency.  But, in addition to expensive, our agency required a mandatory waiting period after the birth of a child, so our file had to be put as inactive.  And, although it will be money well spent, the treatment for my PCOS was fully covered by my insurance, which made that option an easier one.  In the end, we are all related anyway and biology means very little.

And, as to waiting a year or however long in between conception, I didnt notice a medical degree or a residency in gynecology and obstetrics after this woman's name, so I think I'll stick with both my RE and OB, who are members of ACOG, and both advised three months after any 12 week pregnancy.  The March of Dimes lists after one menstrual cycle, which seems to be in agreement with both the CDC and ACOG.  They also say that the woman should feel emotionally able to continue.  For some women, this might mean never, and for some, it might mean right away.  My doctors, both, had psych consults with us and decided we were well enough emotionally to continue.  Again, I view their medical expertise with a little more than the grain of salt that I view the opinion of someone who doesn't know me.

The writer also has some opinions regarding my religious beliefs.  Religion and spirituality are personal choices and, while the world will probably never fully agree, to assault the head of one's church (while, at the same time, professing your diehard belief to your own faith) is insulting, and, honestly, a little immature.  But, as the sign on the church I passed yesterday said: "Forgive your enemies: it messes with their heads."

It is clear that this woman has never gone through the loss of a pregnancy, and, God willing, she never will.  But, as countless medical professionals will point out, our children start showing physical characteristics once their features begin forming.  And, any psychologist will tell you, that naming your child, holding your child, and taking as many photos and momentos of your child- REGARDLESS of when they die, will make your grief and your healing easier.  As to why we couldnt baptize our first trimester children.  Unfortunately, due to their embryonic state, there was nothing of their bodies that we could save to bury, cremate or baptize.  In addition, our faith believes that baptism is a sacrament for the living, hence, our our five children who were born alive were given the Rite of (Catholic) Christian Baptism.  As baptized Catholics, our three children who died after baptism were entitled to a funeral or memorial Mass.  Nicholas, Sophia, Alexander, Bobby, and Maya were ALL born in the technical second trimester.  And, until the moment they exited my womb, they were all medically considered fetuses (which is from the 8th week, when the baby exits the embryonic period, to birth).  It is a sad truth that, in spite of all medicine has accomplished, it is impossible to save babies born in the early part of the second trimester.  Yet, that does not negate any short lives that they are possible to have outside the womb.  Yes, eyes may be fused shut and lungs may be incapable of long term breathing.  However, a moment of life is a moment of life, and is something to be celebrated and remembered.

Miscarriage.  Stillbirth.  Infant Death.  It bothers the writer that I differentiate between my miscarried (first trimester) babies and my second trimester babies who passed after their brief lives outside the womb.  She argues that babies born prior to 20 weeks are miscarriages; and, as hard as it is for many of us to accept,  babies born prior to 20 weeks who show no sign of life are not considered stillborn by the medical establishment and are considered miscarried children.  If my babies had passed before birth, it would kill me to think of them as "miscarriages", although it would be medically accurate.  However, due to their circumstances, they are considered to have died in infancy.  Would they have died in spite of medical treatment, sadly yes because their bodies were not equipped for outside of the womb.  But grief isnt measured in timelines or words.  It's measured by love; and not one of us can compare or contrast the grief of another person with our own.  It is too unique to do so.

Friends, we shouldnt judge this woman for her lack of compassion and understanding, or by her ignorance, be cause she doesnt know any better.  We can call her tactless and believe what she is saying is cruel, but, really, do any of us know how we would feel had we not had these experiences ourselves?  We hope that we would be understanding of those around us, but do we really know what we would think inside?  She is putting to words what she feels, the same as many of us.  It hurts because we know the flip side of her writings- what it is like to long for a child and to be faced with losing that child way too soon.

When I met my husband and he explained that his family had special dinners of remembrance on my brother-in-law's birthday and deathday, I found it odd.  I couldnt understand. At one time, I think I may have even told him I found it a little morbid.  I just couldnt understand how healing remembering could be.  He talked to me for hours about how remembering brought solace to his soul.  And, while I wish that none of us had to know how true that is, he's right.  Remembering my children is a light in darkness for me.  I would never wish that away.  I would never stop simply because someone else doesnt understand.  Because, until they have a reason to, they may never be able to.

I dont know why, of all the blogs on life and death, she stumbled upon mine and chose to write about it.  And, it really doesnt matter.  Perhaps by the compassion we show- to each other AND to her- we can give a deeper insight into the world that we live in and the lives we carry on after loss and heartbreak.  Forgiveness isnt easy; but it isnt about the other person.  It's about ourselves and what makes us who we are.

Thank you for jumping to my defense and for your outpouring of support.  Every time I think that my blogging life may be coming to an end, you guys show me what this is all about.  We have choices: we can be quiet in our journeys and struggles, and allow people to believe that miscarriage and loss and infertility are things to be ashamed of.  Our we can be open in our journeys and struggles and let others like us know they are not alone.  That path is not without bumps.  It's not without negative thoughts from others or without fear about what others may think.  But the only way we will ever take the stigma away from grief and infertility is to stand up for ourselves and to not feel shame.  We have nothing to be sorry for.  Our illness doesnt define us.

And the words of others don't either.


Anonymous said...

I did not click on her blog yesterday to read it, since I didn't want to give her the satisfaction of more blog-hits.

I am sorry you had to read something so mean-spirited, and defend yourself, your actions, or your beliefs in any way. You and I have very different thoughts on many of these subjects, but I have never found you to be anything less than kind, supportive, compassionate, and genuinely loving. That you - of all people - should have to deal with someone's meanheartedness makes me want to find her and shake some sense into her.

(actually, it makes me want to pummel her and then curse at her until she retracts anything nasty she said about you. but I suspect you wouldn't approve!)

Truly, I'm glad you're able to walk away from this one - for all that the internet is an incredible source of support, it also seems that it draws wingnuts out in droves to find something to rail against. Sorry you're being railed against. You, and your love for ALL your children, do not deserve it.

Thinking of you.

Sophie said...

Michele. You are just awesome. What a wonderful response to a nasty situation. xxx

Ms. J said...

I was too upset by what you linked to yesterday to comment. I still am. Please don't misinterpret my silence yesterday as lack of caring....i was and continue to be that upset.

what you wrote today .... Perfect. You have such "grace" and are a living example of how to act with grace. As a Catholic I'm sure you know how important of a value that is.


trennia said...

Right on!

Mackenzie's Mommy said...

You did such a great job addressing that. Very mature of you to recognize that if we hadn't experienced it we may feel similarly to the writer. I hope she never has to understand, but maybe she will a little once she has been pregnant and feels that immediate connection with her child. Thinking of you <3

Anonymous said...

I love your heart and your words of forgiveness and wisdom.

But I just have to ask (or make a point), why is it, for people like this woman, that it's ok for someone to seek medical treatment when diagnosed with cancer, RA, diabetes, etc.. and not ok to seek the same medical field for treatment when the diagnosis of IF is given?
If you find out you have cancer (with this woman's thought process) wouldn't that be God's way of telling you that you're meant to die from this illness?

You are so right, someone who has not suffered the same can ever fully understand. I completely understand (from a Christian POV) that forgiveness is not only necessary, but can be very therapeutic--living with hate can destroy your very soul if you let it.
I don't know where her heart is, spiritually speaking, or who her 'god' is. But this I do know: we can all be used as 'tools' by good or by evil. When we choose to listen to that still small voice and help a person in need, say a kind word or just give a hug-for me, that voice is the Holy Spirit and when I do what He asks, then I am allowing myself to be a tool for God. So I wonder if she will ever understand that by writing what she did/does with such ill intent-does she know who's tool she is.....?

Katie said...

I want to know how she even found you? And how you found out she was blogging about you? I mean, I guess it doesn't matter, but gah, it disturbs me to know there is such hate out there and it is looking for innocent people to hurt.

In any case, you continue to amaze me with your strength.

Tina said...

You are wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Michele, you are so wonderful to be so forgiving of this woman. Hopefully she won't ever have to experience loss, but God forbid she does, I hope she remembers what she said to you one day.

By the way, I am truly under the belief that God helps those who help themselves.

quadmom said...

Michele, I am just now reading these posts and am utterly taken aback by this woman's cruel words. I am also in awe of your response, so well-written, well thought out and full of wisdom. I could not have been so compassionate. I am so sorry she hurt you. Your children -- every single one of them -- are precious and their lives deserved and still deserve to be honored and cherished. I can't understand the depth of your grief and the height of your joy that they gave you because I haven't endured what you have, but I know that you are a wonderful mommy to them all and they love you dearly. Your response shows an example to Bobby and Maya of how to treat others during their time on earth. You are amazing. *hugs*

MrsSpock said...

There are so many reasons why infertility is not just about infertility. Anovulatory PCOS that results in long periods without a period actually puts a woman at risk for uterine cancer, as the lining is not shed regularly and can build up.

Insulin resistance and tendency towards abdominal fat puts a woman at risk for diabetes and heart disease. Women with clotting disorders that cause miscarriage should probably not use hormonal contraceptive or HRT after menopause, as they will have a higher risk of stroke.

Achieving a pregnancy can reduce the risk of ovarian and breast cancer in a woman's lifetime. I, for one, love the idea of a reduced ovarian cancer risk!

Tina Pearce said...

I appreciate your grace and forgivness in your post, you are a strong woman, as I don't know if O could do the same!

In my opinion, if she hasn't gone through infertility, a loss, ect. she shouldn't be so opnionated.

Its sad, because she probably is a lost person, who bashes (for lack of a better word), others and their situations makes her feel better about herself.

Catherine W said...

You are a truly beautiful soul Michele. I did read a little more of website as you have as I just wanted to understand why she would have written something so strange and hateful. I didn't consider that I might be somehow doing her a favour by contributing to her traffic.
But I agree, I also felt kind of sorry for her after I'd read a little more. She seems to have a lot of confusing views about reproduction and having children. I was tempted to write her a message about her articles on 'pulling the plug' on preemies (as she so charmingly puts it) but didn't want to add fuel to the fire as she was bound to know where I'd come from. I am still extremely angry about what she had written about you and your sweet children. It actually kept me up that night I was so cross.
You are right, forgiveness isn't easy and understanding isn't easy but we have to try.
I am so grateful for your blog Michele. I found it at a very dark and lonely time of my life, after G passed away, and I used to visit and visit without saying anything. But reading your words and seeing your beautiful children brought me so much comfort when I didn't know what to do. xo

Sunny said...

First, let me give you a ((((hug)))) for what that woman wrote about you. It had to be hurtful, even when it's so obviously ignorant.

Second, you have a wonderful response. You know -- as do all of us who have experience infertility and/or loss -- that she clearly has no understanding of the journey through grief. You do not need to defend yourself to her or anyone else. Keep bloggin', mama, for your own healing and to help others walking the same path.

K said...

Michelle, I think you might have wasted your time in responding to this woman... I read a little more of her website and she clearly has a lot of emotional problems. I don't think you'll open her blind eyes at all, but if it was cathartic for you to write, then good. :) Keep on keepin' on.

Barb said...

You hit on a lot of really good points.

It's always been very frustrating to me that people think you wouldn't be treating the disease underlying infertility. It's frustrating that they don't understand that it's not only not having a baby that is affecting you. Why would NOT having regular cycles be healthy??? Argh. We all know the risks we have with PCOS and other "female" diseases. Diabetes, high cholesterol. etc. sigh.

one-hit_wonder said...

yep, you're preaching to the choir at this end!

i admire your kindness of spirit.

on another note, i wanted to let you know what i did with the clothes (all of which ninja has FULLY outgrown). my dad works in HR with a company that hires a lot of migrant people, most of whom are on the lowest socioeconomic rungs. he will give the items to women and babies who need them. (and believe me, they are in need.) again, thank you so much for your generosity.

Terri Jones said...

Grace under pressure, my friend, that is what you represent. I read the post and it bothered me too. I wanted to ring her neck and say that's my godson you're talking about. The writer was unnecessarily harsh and out of line on so many levels. However, you are correct in your assessment. And your ability to wait and think before you react is commendable. I'm proud to call you my friend and "sister."

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry that there are such rude and heartless people out there ...
I love though, how you address every issue with what she wrote in such a smooth and respectful manner.

Anonymous said...

OMG is really all I know to say about this person. If I followed her way of thinking that maybe Im not supposed to get preg after so many losses then I wouldn't be watching my beautiful baby boy swing peacefully in the baby swing. I thank god for him everyday because I know what a true gift he is. And Allison will always be my daughter and a beautiful daughter who YES did have my nose and not an alien face !! She is more than liekly very unhappy and close minded.

ABD said...

Hey chica - she does not know you, I do - she has no idea how wonderful you are and has a little hate monster inside her body which will eat her alive...and guess what, with a HUGE amount of women out there with infertility issues, the chances are that she will also be one. Neither you are Peter are strange or morbid - everyone greaves and lives in their own way. I can see from the comments in your blog that you have touched so many women's lives - you are a blessing. SOOO, whadda ya gonna do (as they say in Philly) - hopefully when I stop chasing oil spills around the USA, I will get another chance to stop in OR dinner - xo - Annie (B) D