Crossing Over

by Kathy on February 9, 2011 · 10 comments

in Abby, Adoption, Background, Bob, Change, Decisions, Hope, Inspiration, IVF, Memories, Molly, Sean, Transitions

Greetings! I am writing three different versions of this post/note/update in three different places online. Of course one is here on my blog (that you are reading right now) and the other two are for Facebook and our CarePage. For those reading it on Facebook and on our CarePage, it may the first time many of you find out that I have a blog. My blog has never exactly been a secret, but I also have consciously not mentioned it on Facebook or our CarePage because I wasn’t ready.

Today I do feel ready to share. I was inspired in part by an article written for The Huffington Post by Dina Roth Port. It is called Infertility: The Disease We Need to Start Talking About. Earlier today I shared links to it on my Facebook profile and Twitter account (@FourofaKind2009). Having dealt with secondary infertility and pregnancy loss for over 5 years (2004 – 2009), I couldn’t agree more with this article. I do believe that infertility is a disease and something that we don’t need to be afraid to discuss. Reading the article today gave me the final kick in my rear end that I needed to “come out” about my blog once and for all.

A note to those of you who have known about my blog since the beginning or may have found your way here somehow since: Though you have probably heard or read much of what I am about to share before, you might still find reading this post interesting, as it chronicles the journey that brought me to the point of starting this blog four years ago and now a time in my life in which I feel ready to be even more open and honest about what it means to me to have survived secondary infertility and pregnancy loss. I am also going to share the rest of this post in the voice that I used in my “Facebook Note,” so you can see how I presented this to my friends and family members there who may be joining me here for the first time today or in the days to come.

Before I go on about myself and my blog, I want you to know my sincere hope in sharing this with all of you is that any of you out there suffering in silence will know that you are not alone. Likewise, if you have a friend or family member struggling with infertility, please consider inviting them to talk about it with you. Take the opportunity to find out more about their personal experience with infertility and show them that you are ready and willing to listen and to support them on their journey.

As for my blog, I want to give those of you who are finding out about it now, for the first time some background before inviting you to visit me there. My blog is called Four of a Kind (formerly known as Three of a Kind Working on a Full House…) and I began writing/posting on it in April 2007 when Bob and I were getting started with fertility treatments to try to expand our family. At that time our son Sean was 3 1/2 and we had been trying to have another child on our own for almost 3 years. We wanted our children to be close in age and hoped and dreamed of having at least 2, probably 3 or 4 and not more than 6.

When we first started trying to conceive again, when Sean was only 9 months old, we had no idea the journey that we were about to embark on. As many of you know, we were actually able to get pregnant again relatively quickly the second time around. It took us only half of the time to conceive Baby #2 (4 months) as it took us to conceive Sean (8 months) and we were elated! We were due in July 2005 and everything was going just as we had planned…

That is until we discovered that we miscarrying in December 2004. In the year to follow we went on to get pregnant (the baby was due in April 2006) and miscarry again (in August 2005) and then have an interstitial ectopic pregnancy that had to be surgically removed in November 2005 (that baby was due on Father’s Day in June 2006). During the surgery my right tube had to be tied off and essentially was no longer functional. Three pregnancy losses in a year’s time was a lot for us to handle, but we never gave up hope that we would be able to expand our family one day.

We were unable to conceive again on our own over the next year (2006) and eventually we asked to be referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist (a.k.a. fertility specialist). We met with the Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) for the first time in February 2007. After running lots of tests (including blood work and some more invasive procedures) on both Bob and me, our RE concluded that we had a 1 – 2 % chance of conceiving again on our own. He said that we could try Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) with a 5% chance of success or, as he strongly recommended we consider, we could do In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) which he gave us about a 25% success rate for.

Bob and I were overwhelmed after that first consultation, as we didn’t anticipate our RE suggesting that we go straight to IVF without trying anything else first. However, he made his case and we appreciated his reasoning. At the same time we were contemplating IVF, we were also exploring the possibility of adoption. Being a crazy multi-tasker, I actually thought that we could possibly do both at the same time and whichever brought us a child into our life first was “meant to be.”

Bob and I attended an informational session about Adoption at our fertility clinic and learned a great deal about what is involved in both the Domestic and International Adoption processes. We came away with a lot of information to digest and again we were overwhelmed.

The adoption meeting was attended by other couples struggling with primary infertility (meaning they have been unable to conceive or sustain a pregnancy leading to a live birth) or, like us, secondary infertility (the same definition, only it happens after they have given birth to one or more children). A lot of us were surprised to find out that not only do most adoption agencies not recommend that your pursue adoption and fertility treatments at the same time, they don’t allow it. So much for my trying to cover all of our bases at once…

So we had a big decision to make: try to adopt or try IVF. It wasn’t an easy choice for us and we did not take either option lightly. We understood, as much as we were capable of at the time, that there were a lot of pros and cons to each road we could’ve chosen on our journey.

In the end for many reasons, one very significant one being financial, we chose to pursue IVF. Ironically, since IVF is still not mandated for insurance coverage in many states (but it is in Illinois, where we live), in our case (because we had really great insurance coverage) it was actually much cheaper for us to start with IVF, as opposed to trying to adopt (though we certainly left that door open for the future).

In March of 2007 we began our first IVF cycle. We told our immediate families and close friends what we were doing. Many of those we shared our plans with had been very supportive over the previous three years that we had struggled with secondary infertility and pregnancy loss. However, though few people told us directly that they didn’t agree with our choice to try IVF, some of our friends and family members clearly were more vocal and intentional in showing us that they supported us/our decision and wanted to continue to walk with us on our journey to expand our family than others.

So as I began to give myself daily shots, experiencing the many side effects that come with injecting hormones into your body, and making my way to frequent monitoring appointments at our fertility clinic, I soon found out which of our friends and family members were most interested in being kept “in the loop” about our progress (or lack thereof) in trying to expand our family through IVF. I also figured out which ones were willing to receive news and updates from me electronically (mostly via email) and who really preferred to hear how things were going in person or over the phone.

So one day, when I had gotten tired of the frequent phone calls and email correspondence after each appointment or milestone during our first IVF cycle, I sat down at our desktop computer in our office, signed up for a Blogger account and www.chicagobensons.blogspot.com was born!

I knew very little about blogging at the time or even that there was something called “the blogosphere.” I had an “online friend” that was also dealing with secondary infertility who had started a blog the previous year. My friend and her husband had started IVF about six months before us and she would post details about her cycles and their experience on her blog. I noticed how my friend got support from some of her family and friends through blogging, especially when they would “comment” on her blog posts. As a newbie, following my friend’s blog and also participating in discussion forums on www.ivfconnections.com were my two greatest sources of support and practical information about IVF. It didn’t take me long to realize how physically draining, emotionally overwhelming and yet also very exciting IVF could be. As Bob and I embarked on our first IVF cycle, we felt the most optimism about being able to have another child that we had experienced in a LONG TIME.

So after setting up my account on Blogger and coming up with the “blogspot” web address (I chose to combine the city we live in with our last name), all that was left to do was name my blog and start posting. I chose the name “Three of a Kind Working on a Full House…” as a takeoff on the Garth Brooks song “Two of a Kind Working on a Full House,” to try to be a bit cute and clever while representing Bob, Sean and my hopes and dreams to add to our family.

I posted on my blog for the first time on April 10, 2007 and you could say “the rest history.” Except after I had been blogging regularly for a few months some new people, other than the family and friends that I had chosen to tell about my blog, started to find their way there and interact with me. This happened in part because my friend added me to her “blog roll” (list of blogs that she reads/follows).

I will never forget the first time that someone I didn’t know “in real life” (IRL) commented on my blog. This woman and her husband were also struggling with infertility and she was reaching out to give me support. I wasn’t sure what to think at first, but soon realized that she was also probably hoping to receive some care and concern in return on her journey to build her family. So I followed the link in the comment she left to her “profile” and from there followed another link to her blog where I had to opportunity to comment for the first time on someone’s blog that I didn’t know IRL. Definitely an “A-ha!” moment in my life and a whole new world opened to me… THE BLOGOSPHERE!

There is a lot more to the story of the evolution of my blog and if and when you chose to make your way over there, you can observe it yourself if you want to go back and explore. However, in effort to try to wrap up this marathon update, I want to do my best to explain why I am crossing over now, after almost 4 years of keeping my blog separate from many parts of and people in my life.

I am crossing over in effort to once again try to raise awareness about a subject and a reality that for so many, I believe too many, is considered taboo. Infertility, pregnancy loss and neonatal death are sadly very common in our world today, but unless you or a loved one have been touched by any or all of them, we rarely hear or talk much about them. This makes living with and through them very painful and lonely for those affected by them.

Though I have always been fairly open here on Facebook about the fact that Bob and struggled to expand our family, for the most part I have chosen to focus on what is going on in our life at the present time. I didn’t feel it was necessary to get into the details of our history with secondary infertility and pregnant loss when there is plenty to share about in status updates and pictures of our life and family now.

So that’s my story and if you are still with me after all that, I appreciate more than ever your time, patience and openness to what I have shared here today. I do most genuinely invite you to cross over with me to “Four of a Kind” to get to know me in even more candid and hopefully also insightful ways.

I am not sure yet how much I will choose to share about my blog here, now that I have told you about it. However, now you know a place that you can find me in those spaces between my status updates, picture posting and article sharing here.

Thank you, as always, for reading, for abiding with me, for your care, concern, support, kind words, thoughts and prayers. I am grateful that our paths have crossed in this life and that we have been able to reconnect (if it had been awhile) or stay connected in part due to our relationship as friends here on Facebook.

May God bless you and your family today and always. I hope to see you “on the other side!”

Once again, to those of you who have been with me all along, or for any amount of time, here on my blog, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I will be forever grateful that you have walked with me and my family on this journey to expand our family and I look forward to continuing along this path together.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jess February 9, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Oooh, bold!! I'm glad you're sharing, your story all around is good for people to hear. Lots of stuff people experience in silence in it, you know? Not even just infertility in particular!

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2 Jan February 9, 2011 at 2:22 pm

This is so wonderful. I did the same thing when my mom was dying and it was so therapeutic and also served the purpose of letting my friends and family know what was going on if the chose to want to know.

You have been through a lot, but you have been blessed. You are a strong lady and one that I truly admire. Thanks for sharing.

Jan

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3 It is what it is February 9, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Congratulations for crossing over (something I am so not ready to do, yet).

More importantly, thank you for posting Dina's informed piece. I have made it my FB status and will like to it from my blog, too.

WE must be the advocates for change and bring Infertility out of the closet.

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4 loribeth February 9, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Kathy, you've always been one of my favourite bloggers, and I admire you even more for "coming out" in this way to your family & friends. (That WAS a great article!)

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5 Meg February 9, 2011 at 11:25 pm

Kathleeney,

I posted on your facebook post and your CarePage about how glad I am that you are crossing over. I don't need to post here about how many people you've helped with your blog–they already know as you've helped many of them.

You have really supported us with our adoption journey and, though, our paths are slightly different, I've learned so much from your posts.

Tonight I happened to notice your link on this homepage to the video you made honoring Molly. I hadn't watched it for awhile so I viewed it again. And, of course, I now have tears running down my cheeks.

What a beautiful, heartfelt tribute to our Molly. I can't imagine how hard that must have been to create as you were still grieving her loss. I suppose it also must have been therapeutic.

I'd recommend your friends new to this blog view the video–with Kleenex in hand. 🙂

Thank you for all your support.

Love,
Meg (Kath's sister and Molly's Godmother)

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6 Knock knock - it's cancer! February 10, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Kathy,

What a big bold step, especially after this many years. I think it's great that you have chosen this as the time you were ready to combine the two worlds.

I know from personal experience that sometimes, the blogosphere is the safe haven, the place where you can be yourself, but not have anyone necessarily know you in real life. Over time, and years (and 3 blogs later) I have met many of my fellow bloggers too… and have melted those into real life friendships too 🙂

You have touched many people,

Michelle

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7 Kathy February 10, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Jess – Thank you! I totally agree that too many people experience difficult times in their lives in silence. I wish and hope that more people would choose to be more open about the trials they face in life to help us all become more educated, empathetic and supportive. As I have shared here before, one of the many things I have learned from our journey through secondary infertility and pregnancy loss is to try to be more sensative and understanding with others overall, no matter what challenges they are facing. As the saying goes, "be kinder than necessary, as everyone is fighting some kind of battle."

Jan – Thank you! I am glad to hear that you blogged during the end of your mom's life and that it was both healing for you and helpful for those of your friends and family members to stay informed. I would love to read it sometime if you would be willing to share the link. I tried to click through to your profile and Blogger said it was private. Thank you, as always, for your kind and thoughtful words. I agree that though I have faced a lot of challenges, I am very blessed. I count having you in my life, as both a mentor and friend over the years, one of my many blessings.

ISWIS – Thank you for your congrats! I totally respect you not being ready (yet). It took me a LONG time to get to this point and as I was posting on Facebook, CarePages and here one right after another, I was hoping and praying that I would not regret doing this. So far, so good… I am glad you also really liked Dina's piece! I have read a lot of articles about infertility over the years and was so impressed with this one. I agree that we need to be advocates for the change we want to see. I do hope that by the time our children are trying to have children that infertility will be more widely accepted, understood and supported.

Loribeth – WOW! The feeling is mutual and your words mean so much to me! Thank you for commenting here consistantly over the years. I really appreciate what you share and your support. One of my resolutions going forward, starting with this post (and possibly going back to older ones) is to get back to acknowledging those who take the time to comment here on my blog. I also want to get back into a routine of regularly reading (and commenting on) my favorite blogs (such as yours) and finding new ones to visit and support.

Meg – I love that you commented on all three of my posts! That was so sweet of you sister. Thank you, as always, for your kind words, support and encouragement. I am glad that we have been able to be here for each other during both of our struggles and celebrations trying to build our families. Thank you also watching the video again that I made in Molly's honor and memory. It was therapeutic for me to make it and continues to help me work through my grief and heal each time I see it.

Michelle – Thank you for your kind words and validation. I didn't realize that you had blogged before. You are a great writer and express yourself so well, that I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Though we haven't known each other long, I continue to be amazed by how in the midst of everything you are going through that you manage to take time to comment here on my and other's blogs, as well as reply to many of the comments that you receive on yours. You are truly an inspiration to me.

Well, this reply post is probably almost as long as my original post… But I wanted to take time to thank each of you for commenting on this post that I was very anxious about sharing with "the world." Getting all of your feedback and support after "coming out" about my blog yesterday was so validating and I really appreciate you and all those who may not have taken the time to comment, but are cheering me on in their minds and hearts.

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8 Steph February 10, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Hi! I stumbled upon your blog tonight and just wanted to say thank you for sharing your story! I read the article in the Huffington Post as well, and was also inspired to speak out about my journey with IF. My journey is actually just starting, but the more people talk about IF the more power we all have. Thanks again and Im sorry for the losses you have had and congratulate you on the miracles you've been given.

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9 Alison February 10, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Thank you for sharing!

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10 Kathy February 11, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Steph – You are welcome and nice to meet you! I am glad that the article spoke to you as well and inspired you to share more openly about your IF experience. I wish you the best at this stage of your journey and appreciate your kind words. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

You are welcome Alison! Thank you for reading and for your support throughout our journey.

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