fertility

Let Me Shut Up for Once: Philip Cottraux: A Guy Goin' Thru It All

I’ll introduce you to Philip in a sec. I just wanted to say: Women dealing with infertility publicly torment themselves and each other with the torture that is Mother's Day. But what about the men and Father's Day? Do we think that just because they're not publicly announcing their anguish they don't feel it? Or is this just a woman's view of what a man is feeling? Are they all like my husband whom I begged and pleaded to "let out all of his bottled up emotions" to which he replied following my ten minute-long tirade: "What are you even talking about"? Here’s Philip. He’s a guy. He’s going through it all. Let him tell you what he’s feeling. What do you need me for?

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The Horror-Comedy of Infertility

By Philip Cottraux

I met Lori on Twitter when her book on infertility randomly showed up in my feed.  She’s asked me to contribute some thoughts for her Father’s Day blog.  Because as you may know, women talk all about this stuff but we men are notorious for staying hush-hush about it.  Or as she said in her blog dedicated to me, “acting like it doesn’t bother us.”

So trying to break my usual act, here’s our story, such as it is.

My wife (Beth) and I met online.  She was a young widow.  Well, sort of.  Her fiancé had died tragically a few months before their wedding.  It was four years before she was ready to date again.  I’m originally from Atlanta, and she is a North Carolina native.

We were both 26 when we got married.  We were so excited about having kids, we already had four baby names picked out!  Two boys, two girls.  I’m an only child, so I couldn’t wait to have a big family to make up for my lonely childhood.  I’m also the last Cottraux.  So if I never have kids, my family name is going extinct forever.  Maybe I should be placed on the endangered species list?

Beth is the youngest of four, but she was still as enthusiastic as I was!  We didn’t wait too long, maybe less than a year.  People had already started asking if we were trying.  Back then, we would answer by looking at each other and giggling like idiots.

When talking about infertility, I usually start by asking “You know what the worst part is?”  Then after explaining the worst part, I’ll follow up with “But you know what the worst worst part is?”  Before long, I’ve described everything we’ve gone through for the past eight years, and all of it is the “worst part.”

I had a common condition among men called a varicocele, an enlarged vein in my…nether-regions…that can cause low sperm count.  The doctor told us to keep trying for a year, and if we still hadn’t conceived, I might need to think about surgery.

The following year got very awkward as people started asking why we didn’t have kids yet.  We were still trying to keep hush-hush about my condition, so we would just give a generic shrug and say “Who knows?  Maybe soon!”

A funny thing I observed was that people automatically assume that the husband doesn’t want kids.  As time kept passing, my mom would tell me that women from our church gossip circle were wondering “I wonder why Philip doesn’t want any kids?  Poor Beth.  She’s probably begging!”  As if I’m Daffy Duck trying to shoot the approaching stork out of the sky with a shotgun and rigging the house with booby traps.

Despicable!

The doctor determined I needed surgery.  I found out that my grandfather had had the same condition and had the operation before my mother was born.  Over the phone, he told me to prepare for my balls to swell up as big as golf balls.  I thought, nah.  He had his surgery back in the olden days, when they bopped people on the head with a mallet for anesthetic and used rusty bone saws.  Turns out he was right.

I tend to be curious by nature, which did me no favors.  The night before the operation, I was glued to YouTube watching videos of “varicole-ectomies” that involved a “laparoscopic ligations along the spermatic chord.”  Or something.  Not exactly what I needed to see, since I’m a bit squeamish.

“They’re going to do that to me?  No!  Don’t cut it!  Don’t…ack, he cut it!  I can feel it already!”

Early the following afternoon, I was wheeled into the OR.  They put the mask on me, I looked up at the anesthetic dripping through the IV bag…and then next thing I know, I was waking up in an upright position, feeling like I’d been hit by a truck.  Beth was worried to death since I hadn’t eaten all day.  As I opened my eyes, groaning “Wha…happened…?” the first thing I saw was an apple being shoved into my face to my wife’s voice saying “Eat this apple!  Hurry!”  I thought I’d died during surgery and gone to apple heaven.  It didn’t matter, because they had forgotten to administer the proper amount of anti-nausea medication, so as soon as my mangled body was wheeled to the car I barfed it all back up.

But, at least it was over.  A week-long recovery, and a follow-up sperm count, and I was good.  Ready for action.  Locked and loaded.  Look out, Beth, cause I’m about to put a baby in you!  After about two years of trying, we’re going to make it now!  The first time we tried was like playing with a loaded gun.

And…it still didn’t happen.  Weeks passed.  They turned into months, which turned into more years.

About 3-4 years into our marriage, the people (most of whom still didn’t know about my surgery) asking about when we were having kids reached a fever pitch.  Then it sort of waned.  Obviously, my parents know.  But all the family/friends/coworkers/church members started asking less and less.  Now, they act weird around us, like walking on eggshells.  Do we have an incurable disease now, or something?

Doctors have determined that since my surgery, Beth must be the reason we can’t get pregnant.  But unfortunately, that’s as far as we’ve gotten.  We were very fortunate that the insurance covered my operation; but they refuse to touch testing, artificial insemination, or IVF.  These things can cost a fortune (and I’ve contacted my company’s benefits department begging on bended knee for help), so we’re stuck for now

As a result, Beth has sought natural treatments.  Over the years, this has gotten ridiculous.  Everything from slathering castor oil on her stomach, to acupuncture and getting her tailbone cracked by the chiropractor, to doing weird nightly belly massage rituals, to a medicine cabinet filled with dandelion extract and whatever else miracle cure for infertility she can find on the internet.  You can’t make this stuff up.  And as of yet, none of it has worked.

The only people who ask anymore are random acquaintances.  For example, the dental hygienist when I’m getting my teeth cleaned.  Or a fired coworker I run into that I haven’t seen since the wedding.  I call it the “dreaded question” now.  It’s almost like they’re flirting with you.  Their eyes get big, they bat their eyelashes, then give you a sneaky smile.  It’s like they’re prodding for some kind of major secret.  Then, in a low voice so no one will hear, they whisper, “So?  Have you guys…talked about…maybe…just maybe…starting a family???”

Instead of beating around the bush, now I just croak “Infertile.”  It’s amazing how fast their demeanor changes to wide-eyed horror.  “Oh!  I’m so sorry!  I shouldn’t have asked!  Oh, I’m such a horrible person!  Please forgive me!”  I have to reassure them that it’s okay while they beat themselves up.  Then it’s time for an awkward subject-change!

Anyway, as you can imagine, it’s difficult to pinpoint what exactly is the “worst part” of all this.  It could be how I feel like we’ve let so many people down that were excited about us having kids.  It could be the horrible combination of guilt-jealousy-trying-to-be-happy-for other couples that announce they’re expecting.  It could be how fast time is flying by, and how hopeless it makes you feel as the years sift through your fingers, like grains of sand.  Or how you picture what your kids are going to look like, and fantasize about pushing them in backyard tire swings and holding their hands while they ride a bike for the first time or take them to their first day of school and read them bedtime stories. The fantasies that are ripped away from you every day by cold hard reality.

Or the fear that you might be slowly turning into your crazy aunt who never had kids.  You know the who I’m talking about; we all have one.  The one who sends out Christmas cards every year with pictures of her bichon-frises sitting in Santa’s lap.

But instead of focusing on what hurts the most, let me describe what helps the most; meeting other people such as Lori who have been through this and knows exactly how we feel.  Especially if they can put a humorous spin on what has otherwise been life’s most crushing disappointment. 

Philip Cottraux is a Pentecostal Christian Blogger, Bible Teacher, Writer for Jesus and Husband. http://www.depthsofpentecost.com/

**Update: A new doctor recently diagnosed Philip’s wife, Beth, with a thyroid issue and they are optimistic. .

**Please continue reading for more Father’s Day / Male-oriented posts… And if you’d like to get more laughs at infertility’s expense, please subscribe to my newsletter and check-out my books @ http://laughingisconceivable.com

Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman’s Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility

Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman’s Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility

Laughing IS Conceivable No Matter How Many You’re Carrying: Insanity in its Infancy

Laughing IS Conceivable No Matter How Many You’re Carrying: Insanity in its Infancy

Expert Advice from a Therapist: For Men & The Women Who... Oh Whatever

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Helen Adrienne is a well-respected therapist in NYC who specializes in individuals and couples dealing with infertility.So what you'll be getting from her today will be tried and true sound advice unlike the smart-ass remarks you typically get from me. She talks about both men who have their own fertility issues as well as men dealing with an infertile wife who's turned into a nutjob. (I don't think Helen actually uses the word "nutjob", but, as many of us know from personal experience, that's exactly what you turn into.)

NEWS MEN CAN USE

by Helen Adrienne, LCSW, BCD

Making your way through an infertility struggle is an ordeal in so many ways.  The emotional component of the journey tops the list.

Men – there are two little factoids to consider:

First, it’s no secret that women are generally freer to feel and express their emotions than men.  You may be at the mercy of the cultural scuttlebutt that emotions in men are looked upon as   weakness.  But, Father’s Day is a reminder that you are not a parent yet either.  On top of that, if the difficulty in conception is due to male factor, you may be in a tangle based upon a failure to separate fertility from masculinity.

Despite what you may be feeling yourself, you still may feel obliged to take a posture of strength for the sake of your partner.  Every crisis is an opportunity and you now have an opportunity to free yourself from what might be an emotional prison so you can be there for yourself as well as your wife.

Second, whether you can claim your right to experience your upset or not, news you can certainly use has to do with how to feel more at ease with the emotions of your spouse if you are feeling unqualified in this realm. This may be especially true if she seems inconsolable and wants you to “fix” not only the conception issue, but also perhaps a financial issue, a who-to-tell- or-not-tell issue, and so much more.

How can you find relief from the many demands?  Let’s take a peek at what might be your history.  See if this resonates:  As a small child, did you have a mother who was often frantic or tearful about situations?  Did you intuitively sense that your mother specifically demanded that you “fix” her upset?  If so, you would have been tossed into a place of panic and helplessness. A small child cannot make mommy’s life better.

If this was your history and you have not “worked it through,” then as an adult, you would be vulnerable to and maybe avoidant of anyone who is overwrought emotionally.  It would become an unconscious reflex for you to want to remove yourself from those early imprinted feelings of panic and helplessness.

Now, if your wife, like any wife in a quest for a baby, is thrashing around with her emotional reaction to all-things-infertility, you may unwittingly be tossed into this ancient place, without either of you realizing what’s happening, creating distance when what you need is closeness.

When I explain this to men, women or couples, I watch the tension release like air from a balloon.  Why wouldn’t you feel triggered, wanting to literally or figuratively run away, get annoyed, judge or scold?  Here you are again, feeling the pressure to fix a problem as if you are back in that untenable place of your childhood.

Compassion needs to go in both directions.  You each have every right to expect understanding from each other and you both have an opportunity to develop coping strategies that take the needs and emotions of each of you into consideration.

Words are unsatisfactory when seeking to fix this issue – now!  Simple words can matter, if you say, for instance, “I know how hard this is. It’s hard for me, too. We’ll get through this.  Let me just hold you.”  For now, living with uncertainty is a bane.

What is called for—feeling and showing a strong connection, determination to make it through, and love, may not seem sufficient, but it is.  The only real and satisfactory fix is coming home with your baby.

The infertility journey has its own timetable.  It gets resolved as it can.  Meanwhile, you both need to keep your love for each other at the center of this story.  Love thrives best in truth – the   truth of both of you.

Helen Adrienne

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Helen Adrienne has been the go-to professional for over three decades for women who are struggling with infertility.

As a seasoned psychotherapist, trained in mind/body therapy and clinical hypnotherapy, Helen is uniquely qualified to teach field-tested, effective techniques for managing stress, rediscovering inner strength and resources and reclaiming control on this journey. Her best-selling book: On Fertile Ground: Healing Infertility. https://www.amazon.com//dp/1452853754

And while you're on Amazon anyway, you may as well check out my book: Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman’s Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility. It’s the meek, unassuming one down below that Helen’s book is towering over trying to intimidate.. https://www.amazon.com//dp/B007G9X19A/,

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June is: "Thank You for Not Being a Schmuck" Month

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Every time I visited my 84 year old father in Florida, I couldn't help noticing that he spent much more time talking with women in his community than men. Finally I decided to ask him why that was: "Well, the wives are all very nice." He said. "But their husbands are a bunch of schmucks."

So while many reading this may not be in a position to, or at all interested in, celebrating Father's Day this year, I propose an alternate holiday:

"Thank You for Not Being a Schmuck" Month.

Sometimes we’re so busy crying, kvetching and freaking out about this whole infertility crappola that we don’t realize how upset, angry, & frustrated our spouse/ partner/ husband/ willing participant really is. Or that he might dread Father’s Day as much as you dreaded Mother’s Day. That’s why this Laughing IS Conceivable blog here is going to be filled with posts about him and for him all month.

Your spouse/partner/husband/willing participant/ happy ejaculator --whatever he is-- probably does some things that irritate you. That's normal, of course. And yet, even with those small annoyances, minor aggravations and colossal pet peeves that drive you up a fkn wall... He's the one, the only one, you've hand-picked to have romantic calendar-induced copulation with and to father your future children. You know you wouldn't have your eggs in a freezer, snuggling together for warmth with anyone else's sperm.

So he's not perfect...

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I would have to say that all of the stereotypical bad habits that we accuse most men of having... well, that's pretty much me: 

1) I watch every ballgame I can. If I can’t get it on TV, I’ll stream it on my phone…and I’ll yell at the players, managers, umpires and announcers.

2) I have road rage.

3) I easily fit curse words in as nouns, verbs or adjectives in any sentence.

4) I scratch whatever itches no matter where I am or who is looking.

And I'm not the neatest person. Some couples have problems in the bedroom. We have problems in the kitchen. He doesn't like the way I rinse stuff off. I rinse it off so it looks fine to me... but not to him. Then if I rinse it off adequately, I shouldn't have left it in the sink. Also, if the dishwasher has clean dishes in it, apparently that's my cue to empty it out. I'm aware that we usually have clean dishes in the cabinets. I just never knew (or cared) how they got there. And then we have a peanut butter issue.

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A common breakfast for me includes sticking a teaspoon into the peanut butter and eating it...and repeating this action... three times... every morning. A serving size is a tablespoon. Sure I could dip one tablespoon once instead of one teaspoon three times, but my way just feels like a bigger breakfast. After watching my husband for months stand there saying: “Ugh”, “Nasty” and putting his hand in front of his eyes, I finally took the hint and got my own private jar of peanut butter to slobber into every morning. Incredible. Of all the things my husband's seen me put into my mouth in the past 15 years, he thinks my peanut butter spoon is the most disgusting. Go figure.

Thanks a lot for stopping by! I hope you feel even just a little bit better than you did when you got here. Please stay tuned all this month for more humor posts, articles etc specifically about him and for him. And if you’d like more laughs at infertility’s expense, please subscribe to my newsletter and check out my literature (okay— books). http://laughingisconceivable.com

Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman’s Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility

Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman’s Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility

Laughing IS Conceivable No Matter How Many You’re Carrying: Insanity in its Infancy

Laughing IS Conceivable No Matter How Many You’re Carrying: Insanity in its Infancy

Mother's Day Living in The Land of What Ifs

The Land of Infertility is sometimes referred to as: The Land of If. (As in Melissa Ford's Book: http://www.melissafordauthor.com/navigating-the-land-of-if/) In the weeks approaching Mother's Day, we modify it further to: "The Land of 'What Ifs'. "

Those who are going through infertility are typically pretty spectacular at conjuring up "What Ifs" at record speed. But hey, the blasted holiday known as Mother's Day is set to take place in four days. How many "What Ifs" can one woman with an infertile body but incredibly fertile mind possibly create in her head in a mere four days?

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Some quick calculations here: 270 per minute, x 60 minutes in an hour x 24 hours in a day, carry the 6, divide by my BMI... Got it. The average woman going through infertility can create 8,626,509 "what if" thoughts in four days. And how many are positive thoughts? Quick calculations here... Carry the 4. Subtract my zip code. Divide by my BMI again. Okay, the answer is "zero". I took a poll (just don't look for it online) and compiled our top Mother's Day infertility what ifs in the list below followed by my dollar store advice.

What IF:

...I run into someone I know on Mother's Day and they say: "Happy Mother's Day"?

If they don't know you don't have kids, you can't be that kind of close to them. So who gives a…..? Say "You too!"... even if it's a guy... and keep on walkin'. The last thing you want to do is have an actual conversation with this person.

What IF:

...I don’t feel up to going to my mother’s for Mother’s Day but I feel pressured by my family?

Drink herbal tea and hear Deepak Chopra's voice in your head until the feeling passes. Later, you can call your mother from the spa, the gym or the inside of a pint of Ben & Jerry’s to wish her a happy day.

What IF:

. ...I actually go out with my family for Mother's Day like every other year and everyone starts asking me when I'm going to become a mother already?

All of the following are acceptable answers: "I don't think now's the right time to discuss it." "I'd rather not talk about it." "I'll tell you later" and then just don't, or my favorite::…………………… (That space represents the bit where you just walk away and leave them standing there..)

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What IF:

...I feel depressed the whole day?

See "Ben & Jerry’s" comment above.

The point is: Just like there's no wrong way to eat a Reese's peanut butter cup (and I truly believe that with all my heart and soul- like how Oprah always asks: "What do you know for sure?" That's what I know for sure.), there's no wrong way to spend Mother's Day. The only obligation is to yourself. If you want to go out and feed your body and soul at the beach or hiking in the woods or at a spa, great. If you want to hide from the world and be depressed... uh...am I wrong or isn't that what guilty pleasures were invented for?: Reading your back issues of US magazine, bubble baths, manicures, watching a Real Housewives of Everywhere marathon or using only curse words for 12 straight hours... This weekend... it's up to you... it's all about you.

Thanks a lot for stopping by! I hope you feel even just a little bit better (about Mother’s Day especially) than you did when you got here. If you would like more laughs at infertility’s expense, please consider signing up for my newsletter and taking a look at my books. (Both books are recommended by renowned infertility doctors and OB / GYNs): The first is all about my bout with infertility & IVF. The 2nd deals with IVF & the “aftermath” (namely high-risk pregnancy & caring for many newborns simultaneously.) http://laughingisconceivable.com

Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman’s Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility:

Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman’s Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility:

Laughing IS Conceivable No Matter How Many You’re Carrying: Insanity in its Infancy

Laughing IS Conceivable No Matter How Many You’re Carrying: Insanity in its Infancy

Women Who REALLY Make Infertile Women MAD

Okay, it's true. A LOT of women make infertile women mad. And, let's face it, what almost all of those other women have in common is that they're fertile when we're not. Maybe it's our hormones from everything we shoot into our stomachs, butts, or anywhere else on a daily basis. Maybe it's just the exhaustion. We're so worn down from all of this crap. Whatever it is, people get on our nerves like never before.

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Infertile women have to deal with other women inviting us to baby showers, and to go baby clothes shopping. Infertile women endure stupid advice on how to get pregnant: "If you take a cruise to Portugal... I got pregnant on a cruise to Portugal."  And insensitive comments disguised as spiritual comfort:: "If it's meant to happen..." 

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But when I was going through it, the hardest thing for me to suck up was dumb people who got pregnant so easily. And even worse, irresponsible people who not only weren't they trying to get pregnant, they just as soon not.  

 First the clueless: 

They don't know how they got pregnant, when they got pregnant, why they keep getting pregnant and sometimes, occasionally-- They don't even know that they are pregnant.

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One day she's trying on shoes at the shoe store and just happens to look down and see a little face in the little rectangular shoe mirror. And she exits the store in search of a whole different kind of pump than what she had intended when she entered twenty minutes before.

But back then, clueless women who got pregnant easily only made my eyes roll. Irresponsible women who got pregnant easily made me wretch repeatedly. Two words:

Maury anyone?

For those of you who aren't up on your daytime TV because you're dead set on doing something productive during working hours: A Maury show staple: Women get DNA tests done on an ex-husband, an ex-boyfriend, a boyfriend's son, a mother-in-law's husband, a husband's twin, an ex-boyfriend's boyfriend,  the guy who sat next to her at church --or all of the above--to confirm her child's paternity. 

Here's a direct transcript from the show, or something I'm making up as I go... You be the judge.

"Miss A" is seventeen and has four kids with four baby-daddy. All of them have their respective daddy name. I'm not sure which is the most irresponsible part: Having all of those kids at such an immature age, having four different baby-daddy, or saddling all four kids with the same name and then calling all of them, even the girls, "Junior".

********

"Miss B" is twenty-four and has a husband. He is even a possible contender to be the baby-daddy. Hoo ha.

So are eight others guys: A few of his cousins and a few of their friends who happened to stop by at the family barbecue on that fateful late summer afternoon...leaving them all to rethink the true meaning of the "labor day weekend"... and to ponder if, perhaps, the grill should be the only thing turned on and heated up during it.       

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"Miss C" has been stalking poor David for two years trying to get him to pay up for his child. There she is on TV calling him a bastard and belittling his little body parts.

Where does a young lady learn such behavior? Oh, wait, there's her mother sitting next to her calling David a c*** sucker into the camera.

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And naturally, when Maury and his official DNA report finally get a word in edgewise, David is officially declared to be not the baby-daddy. 

So, irresponsible "Miss C" has been barking up the wrong guy's little tree for two years, while her child has gotten two years older and the real baby-daddy, with a two year head start, has probably made his way over the border into Mexico, Canada, or Indiana.   

I didn't know those people. I was ashamed of myself for judging them by a TV show. But when I was dealing with infertility, I had such a tough time looking at the guests without forming some serious opinions. Maybe it was jealousy. Maybe it was the hormones. Maybe I should have just stopped watching. If only it wasn't so damn entertaining. And, I'm thinking I'm not alone. It's been on the air for 27 years. 

***

Thanks a lot for stopping by! Has my buffoonery made you feel just a little bit better during this trying time? I really hope so. Please consider subscribing to my infrequent blog newsletter at the bottom of the home page and to get more laughs at infertility's expense, come read about my own personal fkd up journey in my little book: Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman's Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility. It's recommended by world renowned infertility professionals and can be found on this website under "Books": (Duh)     

  

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The Walmart Minute Infertility Clinic: Could You Imagine?

(This post was originally, well, posted in October. I've jumped on the reboot wagon while I put together my brand spanking new website. Enjoy... & stay tuned!)  

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"The Walmart Minute Infertility Clinic" I admit. There are several disturbing elements in that title.  I will calm some of your fears right here by saying this post won't have much to do with the ongoing fashion show at Walmart. You don't need me for that. You have your own eyes and YouTube. Although, I do think the mentality when we're getting dressed to go to a fertility clinic is similar as to when we're going to Walmart:

"Who cares what I wear to Walmart? At least half of the shoppers will look worse."

"Who cares what I wear to the fertility clinic? Ten minutes into the visit, I'll be in a backless couture hospital gown with my ass hanging out."

So, dressing for infertility success or Walmart success notwithstanding-- Walmart has eye centers. So why not fertility centers? The best part would be that they could run them just like they run their seasonal items. In and out. No delays. Fast and furious. Bathing suits are gone in June. School supplies are done in July and on to the  Halloween candy because you know everyone wants to get a jump on their Halloween candy buying. I'm sure that August bag of candy is just laying around the house unopened waiting for October. (I wonder how many people actually finish the candy on the way home and turn around and head back to the store. I mean, it's August. You can't take a chance on it melting in the trunk.)

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Well, why not a Walmart Minute Infertility Clinic? In and out. No delays. Fast and furious. No waiting ten days for your first consultation. No waiting until next month to try the next procedure. No two week wait to find out if you're pregnant. Here's the schedule at the Walmart Minute Infertility Clinic:

Monday 8am: First and only appointment. You say "hi" to Dr. Total Stranger and tell her everything you can think of about your menstrual cycle and your sex life, editing out only the parts about the whipped cream and the crack in the windshield. While you're chatting, a nurse takes blood out of your arm and sperm out of your spouse and then tosses away her latex gloves and goes to lunch. You then proceed onto the examination table behind the curtain. The doctor directs you to open up and say "aaah". You ask how everything looks. You probe her mind. She probes everything on that diagram in sixth grade Health class. You swallow a handful of fertility drugs that your spouse picked up at the pharmacy while you're on the table as the doctor stares at your ovaries to see if the pills have taken effect. She decides you need IUI. She uses something from Housewares to shoot your spouse's sperm up north. You leave the Walmart Minute Infertility Clinic, go to Subway next door and have a sandwich then return to the clinic. If you're still not pregnant, the doctor does an egg retrieval, sprinkles in some of the spouse's sperm for IVF and then sends the combo into your uterus. Now is the hard part: The 2hw: The two hour wait. You get a flu shot. You go into the pharmacy area, kick off your shoes and stand on Dr. Scholl's machine. You peruse the trial size aisle. You could take your blood pressure if Walmart hadn't replaced the machine with a garbage can last year. (A simple matter of priorities.) You buy some non-perishable comfort food and return to the clinic. Success! You're pregnant! You'll return next week to buy maternity clothes, pick up your "It's a boy/girl!" cake at the bakery, and stop in at the Walmart Ob/Gyn to deliver the baby on your way out.

Hey...Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you had a few laughs while  you were here. If you'd like more laughs at infertility's expense, please sign on to my newsletter and and check out my little book in the menu: Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman's Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility. 

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Mother's Day for Women with Infertile Bodies & Fertile Minds

The Land of Infertility is sometimes referred to as: The Land of If. On Mother's Day, we modify it further to: "The Land of 'What Ifs'. "

How did you handle the "Mother's Day What Ifs" this year?

Those who are going through infertility are typically pretty spectacular at conjuring up "What Ifs" at record speed. But really,  how many Mother's Day "What Ifs" can one woman with an infertile body but incredibly fertile mind create in her head?

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Some quick calculations here: 270 per minute, x 60 minutes in an hour x 24 hours in a day, carry the 6, divide by my BMI... Got it. The average woman going through infertility can create 8,626,509 "what if" thoughts in two weeks. And how many are positive thoughts? Quick calculations here... Carry the 4. Subtract my zip code. Divide by my BMI again. Okay, the answer is "zero".

What IF:

1. ...I run into someone I know on Mother's Day and they say: "Happy Mother's Day"?

If they don't know you don't have kids, you can't be that kind of close to them. So screw 'em: Say "You too!"... even if it's a guy... and keep on walkin'. The last thing you want to do is have an actual conversation with this person.

2.  ...I feel pressured by my family to go to my mother's for Mother's Day?

Drink herbal tea and hear Deepak Chopra's voice in your head until the feeling passes. Later, you can call your mother from the spa, the gym or the inside of a pint of Edy's cookies and cream to wish her a happy day.

3. ...I actually go out with my family for Mother's Day like every other year and everyone starts asking me when I'm going to become a mother already?

All of the following are acceptable answers: "I don't think now's the right time to discuss it." "I'd rather not talk about it." And if they still persist: "I'll tell you later" and then just don't, or my favorite: "None of your fucking business. Will you people let it go already?"

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4. ...I feel depressed the whole day?

See "Edy's" comment above.

The point is: Just like there's no wrong way to eat a Reese's peanut butter cup (and I truly believe that with all my heart and soul- like how Oprah always asks: "What do you know for sure?" That's what I know for sure.), there's no wrong way to spend Mother's Day. The only obligation is to yourself. If you want to go out and feed your body and soul at the beach or hiking in the woods or at a spa, great. If you want to hide from the world and be depressed... uh...am I wrong or isn't that what guilty pleasures were invented for?: Reading your back issues of US magazine, bubble baths, manicures, watching a Real Housewives of Anywhere marathon or using only curse words for 12 straight hours... This weekend... it's up to you... it's all about you.  And I'm talking as an expert here. Between the time I lost my mom to the time I got finally pregnant, there were count 'em- 19 Mother's Days. So for once I know what I'm talking about here. Hang in there! xo

And if you'd like some more laughs at infertility's expense... -please consider my book: Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman's Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility. It's recommended by renowned fertility professionals around the U.S. and subscribing to my not-ridiculously-frequent newsletter-- both are on the home page.

 

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Laughing IS Conceivable: Not Just for Infertility Anymore

(The original "Ted Talks")

"It all started at a 5000 watt radio station in Fresno California." Of course this is Ted Baxter's story on The Mary Tyler Moore Show not my story but this is what I feel like I'm about to tell you. Laughing IS Conceivable started while I was struggling to get pregnant as a way for me to get my frenetic ramblings out of my head and onto paper where they luckily evolved into a book instead of one very long, incoherent suicide note. I've known since I was little that I saw things in life at an angle. (This coming from a girl who barely limbo-ed her way under the geometry bar before it crushed her trachea.) Maybe it's just me mentally and emotionally removing myself from situations that I can't handle or understand. Maybe it's self-preservation. Maybe it's denial. All I know is my mind has always gone into joke mode at seemingly the most inappropriate times. (Speaking of The Mary Tyler Moore Show- See the "Chuckles Bites the Dust" episode. That would be me- wisecracking at a funeral.)

Like just yesterday, a friend posted that her ex, her children's father, had died. So I'm scrolling down and everyone's sending their condolences and prayers and then I notice one post from one of her neighbors I guess: "I know this is a bad time, but if you're done with my step ladder, could I please have it back?" Obviously this particular ridiculousness wasn't just in my head. All I could think of was: "We're talking a step ladder here. So he's not looking to save a cat on a roof or anything. He's looking to make himself three feet taller." I felt like replying: "Yeah, now may not be the best time for her. Don't you have a kitchen chair you could stand on?"

So, realizing that everyone's mind doesn't go astray like mine does in times of crisis, I wrote that Laughing IS Conceivable book for others going through infertility who actually just try to deal with their problems without mocking them, hoping that my mocking and sarcasm might help.

From there, I started this Laughing IS Conceivable blog to further help others and to help sell the damn book. So now what? The whole theme of almost everything I've written over the years to me has always been: Laughing IS Conceivable... and Humor Heals.  With that in mind, I'm now looking to branch out into other areas besides infertility. Don't get me wrong (or like they say on the Maury show: "Don't get me twisted!") 12 1/2 years and 3 kids later, infertility is still and will always be a part of my life and my writing. But I'm exploring other topics that interest me and are, in my opinion, as equally worthy of mocking and sarcasm as infertility. What do all of these topics have in common? They're all extremely stressful seasons in a person's life. And they're times that many many people have to deal with in a course of a lifetime--and they're all things I've personally gone through like: Living below the poverty line, losing your parents, raising multiples, having a dead-end job (or several), relocating, anxiety issues, dieting and exercising...  No. No heartrending stories of abuse or neglect. Just stresses that I've been through in the course of my life so far... How about in your life so far? Anything sound familiar? Ring a bell? Anything?

Everything in Laughing IS Conceivable world is being revamped to reflect the shift. In the coming months, I will have a brand new website, a new book, audio-book versions, and a podcast where I can publicly interview renowned professionals and ask them personal questions that nobody ever asks them.

"Would you still be a fertility doctor if it paid $40,000 a year?" (Would that be wrong?--  It's one thing to read my words, but what a treat it will be for you to hear my actual voice. It's soothing  melodic, and uplifting: Like a hybrid of Deepak Chopra,  the Little Mermaid, and Joy Behar.)

I will keep posting here regularly while it's all in the works. I really appreciate all of your support. I hope you will come along with me on this Laughing IS Conceivable adventure... (For updates, please join my list of subscribers: http://laughingisconceivable.com- top of home page)

Current Books in the Laughing IS Conceivable Series on Amazon, B & N, & Kobo:

Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman's Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility.

La Risa ES Concebible. (Spanish Version of Infertility Book) 

Laughing IS Conceivable: From End of School to Back-to-School- I love my kids. I love my kids. I LOVE my kids.   

Flip the Script: I Will If I Must

Flip the script? What's that all about? If you haven't heard, this week, the last full week in April every year in fact, is NIAW: National Infertility Awareness Week. Resolve.org (a great place for all things infertility & family building-- resources, advocacy etc) comes up with a specific theme every year for NIAW. This year's theme is: "Flip the Script". I can't accept that. Couldn't they call it something else? Anything else? I know it's just me. But see, this is the thing: My guilty pleasure (okay, 1 of 26) is watching Maury.

To sum it up: People want to find out if they're really the baby-daddy or if their boyfriend is cheating so they think it would be a good idea-- I still have no idea why-- to find out on national television. Anyway, I adore Maury the host, but in an attempt to sound hip and current, things come out of his mouth that should not come out of any 80 year old's mouth like: "You accused your man of cheating and now he's flipped the script. You wouldn't do him like that, would you?"

RESOLVE likely didn't expect "Flip the Script" to be as controversial a phrase choice as it's turned out to be. (The controversy beginning and ending with Maury and me of course.) I think their intention is  to inspire everyone dealing with infertility to be out and proud... maybe not proud... just not ashamed about it: A catalyst to get people suffering in silence to at least talk about it, share, help, and inform those around us within and without the infertility community.

Funny thing is: I've always been the biggest in the closet out of the closet infertile person. I mean, I have this blog about my own personal infertility exploits. And I have a book about it. And I'm forever skulking around the support groups talking about it... but with my friends, family, neighbors and coworkers... I really don't discuss it much and never really did... not even while I was going through treatments.

I've never felt shame or embarrassment. It was more: "This is so not at all your business" or "I spend half my day living it, I really don't feel like spending the other half recounting the first half."

I've always felt strongly that infertility is so personal that you have to do what's best for you. If you're honest with yourself and you're honestly suffering because you're not sharing what you're going through with friends, family, the general public., open up, let it out. Expect no particular reaction. They might be supportive. They might be judgmental. They might say a bunch of dumb things. Or a combo platter of all three. Nothing you can do about that. Your only goal should be to share with them what you feel you need to. Screw how they react. That's their issue, not yours.

I've always spoken candidly about my IUI/IVF/FET experiences with others going through it and family of others going through it... but as far as my own family and friends... whatever. I've always been wildly inconsistent with the details, I'd make some vague comment like: "Yeah, I'm going back to the doctor today. I'm trying to get pregnant." Let them think I was sleeping with the doctor. Who cares? Then two days later they'd ask how it went and I'd say: "Fine" and walk away or just act like I didn't even know what they were referring to. When people at work compared notes behind my back, I'm sure it just sounded like I was making stuff up as I went. I figured that was okay because it was right in line with the treatments themselves: The medical staff  sounded like they were making things up too. I remember the first time the nurse told me in her cheery "no big deal" voice:

"So every night you're going to pinch your stomach and give yourself an injection subcutaneously."

I was in a fog: "Wait. Hold up. I'm going to give myself injections? Are you sure? That doesn't sound right."

"It's easy. You dial this pen..."

"I'm sticking myself with a pen? Do you really work here? Don't take this personally, but is there maybe another nurse I can double-check this with?.. Or a doctor? Or the billing person? She always seems to be around."

If you'd like more laughs at infertility's expense, please check out my book- Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman's Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility. It's been downloaded by 1000s & is recommended by renowned Reproductive Endocrinologists around the U.S. Available in eBook & paperback. (Amazon / Nook / Kobo) http://laughingisconceivable.com /Amazon: https://www.amazon.com//dp/0692950117/

 

Infertile Women on Spring Break

Hmmm... Spring Break for Infertile Women. We all could really use a Spring Break. Maybe I should pitch the idea to MTV. What's hotter than watching a group of women in thong bikinis doing shots on the beach at sunset? True, it would be a group of angry, frustrated, infertile women doing hormone shots...

MTV would never air it. They'd be out of business in hours. Clearly women going through fertility treatments desperately need a crazy, wild, college-esque Spring Break. It would just be too disturbing to televise... All of us...thousands of us...living together... every day... all day...in one big alcohol-free sorority house: The Delta Gamma Gametes. How long do you think it would be before our "House of Fun" became a "Fun House"...like at a carnival? Or do I mean "House of Horrors"?

I think everything would start out all warm and fuzzy and chummy and supportive. Ah, but how long before we would lose that lovin' feeling and devolve into "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Hormones?"

And let's see what's on the week's agenda, shall we?

Day 1:  So who's bringing what to the pity party? 

"You people just don't understand what I'm going through! I know that you're all going through it too. That's my point! If you know what I'm going through, then why don't you understand that I just want all of you to go away and leave me in peace so I can go through what I'm going through by myself?! All I ask, is that for the time the thousands of us are living together in this house that you respect my personal space. I feel so alone. You people just don't understand."

Day 2: Spring Break Work Out: Let's Get Critical...Critical...

"The only thing I hate more than people going on and on about their kids in front of me, is when a bunch of infertile women go on and on about how much they hate when other people talk about their kids in front of them, in front of me!"

Day 3:  A Little Unhealthy Competition Among Total Strangers aka: Offering Less Support than a Dollar Store Bra.

"I know it's horrible that you've been going through this for two years...and I do feel for you...I really do...but I've been going through this for two and a half years!"

"Two and a half years?! OMG. If I have to go through this for another six months I'll kill myself!"

"Thanks a lot! I've been going through this for five years."

And how about a few hands of Progesterone Poker?:  

"Really? Well, I've been going through this for six years AND I've had two surgeries and three IUI's."

"Well, I had an IUD before I had four IUI's, one IVF and an FET. They drained my entire IRA! Did you have your IRA drained?!"

Day 4: You know the fun is on the wane when housekeeping becomes a top priority.

"And if you guys are going to throw baby dust at each other, which I think is great...I'm of course all for it...who wouldn't be?... could you at least clean it up when you're done? I'm sure I'm not the only one here who knows how to use a vacuum!"

While we women would be roughing it with very limited access to technology- namely a single red phone each... A hotline to our fertility doctors for "emergency" questions...

Our spouses/boyfriends/lovers/partners would be on Spring Break too in a separate wing of the house. Way over there. Just them, air conditioning, big screen TVs, a 24 hour open bar, pool tables, putting green, stocked refrigerators, two toilets each, and, most importantly... sound-proof walls.

Valentine's Day: Finally: The Perfect Holiday.

Valentine's Day is the perfect holiday for people trying to conceive.  I know you think I'm about to go into the importance of rekindling our romance. Yeah yeah... I'll get to that in a minute. But first and foremost:

Most of us have cringed at some time or other during our infertility adventure just at the thought of holidays. Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, Thanksgiving... whatever you celebrate, wherever you celebrate it, most holidays include children in your face: They are in relatives' phone galleries, old fashioned photographs, albums, or even worse... in person. At some point during the course of the holiday, you know some oblivious-to-your-pain person is going to shove some form of a child in your face. But not on Valentine's Day. Valentine's Day is the one day everyone is trying to abandon their kids... drop them off... leave them somewhere... so they, the parents, can be alone. That's the beauty of the day: If you're trying to conceive and you go out to a romantic  dinner at an elegant restaurant on Valentine's Day and somebody brings a small child... it's the one evening of the year when everybody around you is irritated too. There is camaraderie in the restaurant. We are not alone for once. Everyone in the restaurant exhales an angry huff simultaneously. We give that couple and their plus one dirty looks in unison. Everyone is outraged at their insensitivity... not just us. That is the incredible power of Valentine's Day...

And then, yes, there is that re-kindling aspect of it too. No, we don't have to wait until February 14th to be romantic and proclaim our love. A sexy, sultry, lovey-dovey spontaneous moment can happen any time, anywhere: Like when we are getting a butt shot in the bathroom:

"Hey... I like the way you stuck that needle in there... Same time tomorrow?"

Or at the doctor's office, as he's about to enter the donation room with his  plastic cup:

"You know that see-thru nighty I have hanging in our bedroom closet with the tags still on it?... Just something to think about while you're in there... No no... not the price on the sleeve... think higher up... or lower down."

Or when you have prepared a beautiful candle-light dinner for two at home:

"How about we feed each other flax seeds,  pumpkin seeds, and lean meats? And then we can move over to the couch to have our milk instead of coffee, wine, or beer. You know there's nothing sexier to me than strong bones."

Let's face it: Valentine's Day is a dopey holiday and a perfect excuse to put down the vials and the pens and the calendars and go somewhere together that doesn't smell like antiseptic for a change.

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Thanks for stopping by! I hope you feel just a little bit better than you did when you got here. If you'd like more laughs at infertility's expense- take a look at my own Infertility / IVF /FET "adventure" recommended by top fertility professionals across the U.S. -Available on Amazon / Nook / Kobo  https://www.amazon.com//dp/0692950117/

https://www.amazon.com//dp/0692950117/

 

Expect to have Holiday Expectations

So you think you dread the holidays this year because you're dealing with infertility? How about before you were dealing with infertility? I truly believe that many many people- those with normally functioning reproductive systems included- either dread or at least would rather not go to these family soirees and there's one main reason: Expectations: Either we fear that our holiday gatherings won't live up to what we expect. Or, even worse: They will.

Approaching holidays fill us with expectation: Expectations to be happy, to celebrate, to be around family, to skip down memory lane, all of us together, hand in hand.

So here we have on perfumed stationery our dainty, holiday expectation list, engraved in gold calligraphy. And on the other side, scribbled in leaky pen with a mayonnaise stain on it, is our real expectation list.

We expect that everyone will get together. We expect that most don't want to be there. We expect that most are for one of four very good reasons or a combination thereof: 1) They couldn't get out of it. 2) Free food 3) Free alcohol 4) They don't want to be the person who's talked about behind their back.

We expect that at least one person will say something about himself that he shouldn't have and at least two people will say something about someone else that they shouldn't have.

We expect some cousin to tell you how well he's doing in his business even though everyone present, even the kids, know it's bullshit.

We expect your aunt to continue the charade of how well her kid is doing and everyone else to be thinking: "Does she really not know he's a loser?"

We expect some to over-drink and all to over-eat. And we expect that some of the ones who over-drink, will somehow find a way to over-drink even if there's no alcohol served.

We expect all the food will be great while we're sitting within earshot of the person who made it and most of the food will stink when we all talk about it on the drive home in between popping Tums.

And we expect at least one person in each vehicle to put in the request:

"Remind me not to do this again next year."

But those with infertility issues also expect scrutiny and being judged and being made to feel uncomfortable:

Personal questions, embarrassing questions, extremely "not-anybody's-business" questions.

And I'm here to remind you that, while all of their baby plumbing may be functioning correctly, (although you might not be so sure when you see what they were capable of producing), your dear relatives have plenty they don't want to talk about either:

So, remember:

Don't ask  your cousin Brian why he's 42 and still living in his bedroom at home with the New Kids on the Block posters on his wall.

Don't ask your uncle Steve why he was on the news hiding his face.

Don't ask your sister-in-law Brenda why she lives in a mansion and drives a BMW to the food stamp office.

Don't ask your brother-in-law Sam how he failed his driving test four times and his GED three times.

Don't ask your mother-in-law why every time she makes her "special-family recipe" stuffing, there's always an empty Stove Top box in the garbage.

Don't ask your second cousin Bill why he spends his days collecting disability and training for an Ironman triathlon.

And the ultimate goal for the family festivities: After the whole debacle is over, be that person in the car who says:

"Remind me not to do this again next year".......

And then put it down as #1 on your New Year Resolutions' list.

Thanks a lot for taking time during this busy season to stop by! I hope you feel even just a little bit better than when you first got here.  My eBook is now available in paperback too. So if you want to have a copy for when you could use a laugh during your infertility travels, or you're tired of the waiting room magazines.. (That's Chapter 6, by the way) Or want to give as a gift to someone in your life who just doesn't get what you're going through.  https://www.amazon.com//0692950117/  

 

 

Infertility at Work- at the Company Holiday Party

"My Co-Workers are like Family" office-of-angry-people

Why do people think that's a good thing? So you're telling me that you get on each other's nerves, push each other's buttons, talk behind each other's backs, and hold eternal grudges?

Mercifully, most of our extended real family, the ones with whom we spend holidays, are people we don't see that often. So whatever idiocies are said at the big family gathering.:

"I really think you should start having children. You're not getting any younger."

Or our response:

"I really think you should stop talking. You're not getting any smarter."

...are said and then we all get into our respective cars, gripe to anyone unfortunate enough to be trapped in the vehicle with us for the long & getting-longer-by-the-minute-ride-home, or a BFF on the other end of the hands-free. Then we rehash the emotional leftovers in our minds and to our spouses for the next 12 months. It's different after the company holiday event.

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Infertility at Work: The Company Holiday Party: (Gd help us all... everyone.)

If someone you've confided in at work about your infertility starts gabbing at the big celebration, maybe after confusing the open bar with the buffet two or twelve times, or maybe you yourself imbibed more than you should have and, mistaking catty coworkers for friends, sailed your own secrets down the River Rum... unlike with your family, you won't have to deal with the backlash until.....Not next Thanksgiving. Not next Christmas..... Monday.

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And since a juicy bit of gossip is often the best holiday bonus people can bring home nowadays- Any seeds of "news" employees start spreading at the holiday party 2017 (assuming they even remember the holiday party 2017) will grow and flourish until New Year's Day... 2019. When finally you'll be able to get up off the hot seat because at least one of the following will have taken place:

  1. You'll be pregnant (yeah!) and they'll switch from discussing how infertile you were to how fat you are.
  2. You'll be a parent and they'll switch to discussing how much time you're taking off.
  3. People will finally have grown as tired of your infertility as you have.
  4. A fair number of employees at the December 2017 holiday party won't even be at the December 2018 holiday party because those holiday parties are only for company employees: Something which, for one reason or other, many will no longer be a year later. Of course, the most likely thing to occur to get you off the hot seat:
  5. Something new and way more delicious than your humdrum infertility will emerge at the party as the new reigning scandal:

A good old-fashioned boisterous, public cursing out; The manager feeding appetizers to the assistant manager from her cleavage; The CFO going to get her coat to leave and throwing up in the cloak room window... The possibilities are endless.

(I really appreciate you taking time at this busy time of year to stop by. I hope you feel even just a little bit better than you did when you got here. If you'd like more laughter at infertility's expense, please check out my book above- now available in eBook & paperback: Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman's Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility. (Recommended by renowned infertility professionals) https://www.amazon.com//dp/0692950117)

 

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Down the F'n Tubes: Interview with the Authors

Quick Note: My eBook is now (finally, mercifully) in paperback.  Regular price- $9.99 USD. New launch price through November- $8.49

The eBook is also on sale this month. Usually $4.99/now $3.99. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0692950117

(Contact me directly for orders of 5 books or more-I'll hook ya up.) Now back to our regularly scheduled blog.

So I started chatting with someone online who had written a new book called: Down the F'n Tubes: An Ode to Fertility Futility.  I'm really big on titles. I love a good play on words and phrases and can't think of one that would better sum up the feelings of anxiety and frustration of infertility than that one. (Is it too late to change my book title?) Unlike most infertility books, this one isn't written by a medical professional or "the woman" but "the couple". I cyber sat down with "the couple", Tom and Virginia Hanada for an interview.

Down the F'n Tubes: an ode to fertility futility by [Hanada, Virginia and Tom]

Available in eBook & Paperback on Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com//dp/B076YXQ2TV

LSF (That's me): A lot of people find it helpful to write out their thoughts when they're dealing with infertility but most of them just go under their covers with a syringe and scratch their angst into notepads they stole from the doctor's office. Why a book?

VH - In general, we’re private people, but we also try to be honest and open. A few years ago, we went out for lunch with some friends. Someone asked if we had any travel plans and we responded that we couldn’t really plan anything because the infertility treatments made things so unpredictable. As soon as we said that, one of our friends completely dropped out of the conversation and didn’t say more than two words for the rest of the afternoon. We found out later that she and her husband were about to start their first round of IVF. Apparently she really wanted to talk to us about it, but she didn’t feel comfortable. And that’s unfortunate. We could have supported each other. At that moment, we knew we wanted to start a conversation.

LSF: How long have you been dealing with infertility? So, what made you pick this time to write about it?

 VH- Four years. It seems like forever to us, but we know people who have struggled with infertility for much longer. I felt the need to CREATE something to make up for the fact I couldn’t procreate. Writing creatively gave me a sense of control and purpose. I got to control the narrative, and it felt great to define infertility—instead of being defined by infertility.

LSF: Tom, the vast majority of non-medical infertility books are written by women. Did you get roped into this or was this all your idea? 

TH: I was more than glad to be a partner in all of it. Virginia was enduring 98% of the awfulness of the experience (my 2% was having to masturbate into a cup at 7 am in a sterile hospital room without lubricant or porn; and for that I shall always be a martyr!).

LSF: Yeah, yeah, we all know what your 2% was. Boy, you people have to spell out everything.

TH: Just because of biological realities I wasn’t able to be the equal partner during infertility that I strive to be in all other areas of our lives. The least I could do was be an equal partner in a project that brought us both joy and expression.

LSF: "The least I could do"?... Virginia, are you telling him what to say? My husband has never put those 5 words together... Moving on... How did this collaboration work? Did you write the book together or did each of you come up with material independently and then compared notes?

TH- We’d walk the dog at night and decompress about the day, how we were feeling and what we wanted to say in the book.

(LSF: This is actually Tom and Virginia walking the dog.)

 

TH: ...And then we’d both write different sections of the story and come together and compare our work. Virginia is a college professor, and she approaches all problems with a scientific mind. So when we started composing the rhymes in anapestic tetrameter (aka the “Dr. Seuss meter”), the only way she could wrap her head around it was to create an Excel spreadsheet where she broke down each line by syllable and stress. I’m sure Dr. Seuss is rolling in his grave at the thought of us composing poetry in Excel spreadsheets, but we’re very happy with how the rhymes turned out!

LSF: Really? Those fricken little boxes drive me nuts.... Yeah, where did that Seuss-like rhyme pseudo children's book idea come from? I mean it's not like a normal game of word association: Syringe, nurse, blood, Seuss! I mean, what the hell?

TH - We came up with the rough idea together while driving back from an IUI appointment. But the thing was, we didn’t actually get the IUI because the doctor didn’t like the looks of the ultrasound – it looked like there might be polyps in the uterine lining, but could only be confirmed with a different kind of ultrasound, which couldn’t be done that day (and would be another couple hundred bucks). Virginia was really frustrated on that drive home. I commented that I envisioned the polyp as some mean old lady who lived on the uterine lining and was shouting at all the kids passing by to “Stay off my lawn!!!” Virginia laughed at that. And it was good to hear Virginia laugh. We decided at that moment that we were going to find some fun, imaginative way to tell the infertility story. Our good friend, Amanda is a talented artist. She really added a lot with her illustrations.

LSF: There's a lot of raw emotion in this little book. A lot of yelling and some cursing and even a few sexual positions mentioned. (One I had to ask my husband what it was. He said: "You know when I want some and you want to watch a TV show and we compromise? That's what that is.") Anyhow... Did you set out to give a good, honest, form of venting that we can all relate to or did it just evolve into that?

TH - I don’t think we would have ever finished it if it weren’t an honest expression of how we felt. We were angry. We were frustrated. We were annoyed. We were ashamed. I’m not sure we could write an infertility book that didn’t contain those emotions.  We wanted to do it in a way that was both relatable to those who are familiar with the experience, and accessible to those who aren’t. Something that you can hand to your best friend, or your mother-in-law, or a young couple who just hit their first road block in the process. Hand it to them and say “Read this. And then let’s talk.”

LSF: Wait... Whoa... Your mother-in-law? I mean, you've got that sexual position that I didn't know had a name and you said the "M" word just a few minutes ago, and the "F" word's in the title...

TH - EVERYONE we know has been invited to read this! In fact, the book’s cover is going to be the image on our Christmas cards this year. Many of our elderly aunts will now know that we have a book about infertility on Amazon… even if they don’t know that “Amazon” is more than a jungle in South America.

LSF: Or a very large warrior woman.

TH: Right. One of our intentions in writing this book was to “come out” to our family and friends. We wanted to express our frustration to them, but to do it in a fun, entertaining way. It’s a narrow target to hit (serious yet whimsical), but the response from everyone we love has been amazing.

VH: The most amazing thing has been how many friends have seen our book and then reached out to personally share their own infertility struggles with us! These are friends whose Facebook pages are plastered with photos of their beautiful children. I never knew the anguish they went through to have those children. Everyone seems to fight infertility alone, and it’s not right that something so emotionally and physically draining is also so lonely and isolating.

TH: I think it’s been great. The more we can get other people to accept infertility without stigma, the easier it’s been for us to accept it too.

LSF: Thanks a lot you guys for taking time to chat... And for you know, only saying "masturbate" once.

Down the F'n Tubes: an ode to fertility futility by Tom and Virginia Hanada. https://www.amazon.com//dp/B076YXQ2TV -

 

 

Infertility Writing is as bad as Infertility Living

People love to say that history repeats itself. I don't love to say it, but I'm living proof. (In about 3 minutes, you'll find out why I've lately grown to hate the word "proof"'s guts.) I went through my own infertility adventure a while ago. Suddenly I find myself going through it again... without really going through it.

I dealt with trying to get pregnant naturally for a year after we got married. Call me old fashioned, but it never occurred to me to try a year before we got married. I imagine it would have been a bad idea anyway since I only met my husband ten months before we got married. Anyhoo...

Once I called a fertility clinic and they heard that I was almost 41, they sent an ambulance to my house with sirens blaring to escort me to my first appointment. In fact, because of my elderliness, everything about my treatments was kind of aggressive and at warp speed.. like them tossing in 4 embryos at each transfer. So this is why I started writing it all down- to unclog my brain. Anybody who goes through fertility treatments knows how overwhelming it is to go from your regular life to one that routinely includes blood tests, hormones, injections and a million other weird and scary things... and then mine was also sped up. The belief was that I didn't have years- maybe not even months- to get pregnant, so it was pressure on pressure. I spent most days in a hormone-induced pressure cooker: Every hour or so I would take a break from crying just so I could make time for freaking out. So I started jotting down notes and creating Word documents in an attempt to center myself like how my fellow psychopaths were given basket weaving classes and adult coloring books in prison. (I also made sure my computer screen was always clean so I could see my husband's reflection should he ever come up behind me with a scarf or a knife.)

Okay, now we're years later. I'm in the menopause zone and I've decided to make those notes which became an eBook into a paperback. More hormones and more pressure. Years have gone by and once again, I'm a human hand grenade. This time, instead of needles, doctors, and meds, it's margins, proofs, and fonts. Writing about infertility back then helped my infertility stress but it's not doing a thing for my publishing stress. Once again, you can set your clock by my meltdowns. (This past weekend we set the clocks back one hour leaving me plenty of time to squeeze in an extra meltdown.)

"The spacing isn't right! Why does the cover look like that?! It's too many pages! It's not enough pages! Is it getting hot in here or is it just me? What's a mirror margin?! How do I embed a font?! Hey, did you hear the one about the font that was embed with the margin?"

My poor husband: Oktoberfest ended and Nutfest is still in full (mood) swing.

****

The eBook is on sale ($3.99 USD) for November (Amazon, Nook, & Kobo). The paperback will be available also at a special price on Amazon & Createspace in a week or two- (And, depending on how it goes, the last page will either be a lovely comment by Dr. Spencer Richlin- from RMA Connecticut or my suicide note.)    https://www.amazon.com//dp/B007G9X19A/

 

If Walmart had a Fertility Clinic

 

"If Walmart had a fertility clinic" I admit. There are several disturbing elements in that title.  I will calm some of your fears right here by saying this post won't have much to do with the ongoing fashion show at Walmart. You don't need me. You have your own eyes and YouTube for that. Although, I do think the mentality when we're getting dressed to go to a fertility clinic is similar as to when we're going to Walmart:

"Who cares what I wear to Walmart? At least half of the shoppers will look worse."

"Who cares what I wear to the fertility clinic? Ten minutes into the visit, I'll be in a backless couture hospital gown with my ass hanging out."

So, dressing for infertility or Walmart success notwithstanding-- Walmart has eye centers. So why not fertility centers? The best part would be that they could run them just like they run their seasonal items. In and out. No delays. Fast and furious. Bathing suits are gone in June. School supplies are done in July and on to the  Halloween candy because you know everyone wants to get a jump on their Halloween candy buying. I'm sure that August bag of candy is just laying around the house unopened waiting for October. (I wonder how many people actually finish the candy on the way home and turn around and head back to the store. I mean, it's August. You can't take a chance on it melting in the trunk.)

Well, why not a fertility clinic at Walmart? In and out. No delays. Fast and furious. No waiting ten days for your first consultation. No waiting until next month to try the next procedure. No two week wait to find out if you're pregnant. Here's the schedule at Walmart's Minute Fertility Clinic:

Monday 8am: First and only appointment. You say "hi" to Dr. Total Stranger and tell her everything you can think of about your menstrual cycle and your sex life, editing out only the parts about the whipped cream and the crack in the windshield. While you're chatting, a nurse takes blood out of your arm and sperm out of your spouse and then tosses away her latex gloves and goes to lunch. You then proceed onto the examination table behind the curtain. The doctor directs you to open up and say "aaah". You ask how everything looks. You probe her mind. She probes everything on that diagram in sixth grade Health class. You swallow a handful of fertility drugs that your spouse picked up at the pharmacy while you're on the table as the doctor stares at your ovaries to see if the pills have taken effect. She decides you need IUI. She uses something from Housewares to shoot your spouse's sperm up north. You leave the Minute Fertility Clinic, go to Subway next door and have a sandwich then return to the clinic. If you're still not pregnant, the doctor does an egg retrieval, sprinkles in some of the spouse's sperm for IVF and then sends the combo into your uterus. Now is the hard part: The 2hw: The two hour wait. You get a flu shot. You go into the pharmacy area, kick off your shoes and stand on Dr. Scholl's machine. You peruse the trial size aisle. You could take your blood pressure if Walmart hadn't replaced the machine with a garbage can last year. (A simple matter of priorities.) You buy some non-perishable comfort food and return to the clinic. Success! You're pregnant! You'll return next week to buy maternity clothes, pick up your "It's a boy/girl!" cake at the bakery, and stop in at the Walmart Ob/Gyn to deliver the baby on your way out.

Hey...Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you had a few laughs while  you were here. If you'd like more laughs at infertility's expense, please sign on to my newsletter http://laughingisconceivable.com (top) and check out my little book: Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman's Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility. (It's been downloaded by 1000s & is recommended by top fertility professionals around the U.S.) Available on all Amazons, Nook, & Kobo & in Spanish as La Risa ES Concebible.   https://www.amazon.com//dp/B007G9X19A/

 

 

"It's Infertility, Charlie Brown!" - A Holiday Classic

Every year at this time, it is a tradition to re-post this. 50% nostalgic tradition. 50% lazy tradition. But a tradition nonetheless. Hope you enjoy it! xo 

I've never hidden the fact that I love the autumn and every corny thing associated with it: Football (not the least bit corny), Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (cool with many corny parts), fall foliage.

So in the past, I've written about going through infertility later in life ("The Autumn of My Fertility") and spooky infertility stories for Halloween.

I can't see what could possibly be left to write about that's autumn-related except, of course the obvious: Charlie Brown.

peanuts-gang-dancing

This long lost Charles M. Schulz classic, "It's Infertility Charlie Brown!" was shown on TV for years in between the Halloween and Thanksgiving specials. I can't believe you haven't seen it.

I'm not ridiculous enough to suggest that Lucy Van Pelt grew up and battled infertility. With that attitude of hers, likely the only men who would even talk to her would be chiropractors and orthopedists looking for an explanation as to why their patients are in such terrible shape. Namely: Charlie Brown for ailments caused by decades of her pulling away that damn football and Schroeder being hunched over the piano to avoid looking at her shamelessly flirting with him. Then again there are lots of men who seem to adore crabby women: Remember Bridezillas?

Here's the episode in its entirety. It takes place in the classroom. Hope you don't have a Peanuts allergy. (ar ar ar):

I present to you: "It's Infertility, Charlie Brown!"

charlie-brown-at-his-desk

Teacher: Today, boys and girls we are going to be discussing "Infertility". (Peanuts Translation: "Wa wa wa wa wa").

I know that several of your parents have had fertility treatments. Can any of you tell me if they were successful? ("Wa wa wa wa wa wa wa?")

Marcie: I got a sister.

Violet: I got a brother.

Franklin: I got boy/girl twins.

Charlie Brown: I got a rock.

Peppermint Patty: Good one Chuck.

Teacher: There can be many reasons for a couple's infertility: Weight, medical issues, low sperm count, age. As for your parents... I think being invisible is the likely cause. (Wa wa wa wa wa wa wa wa wa wa)

Charlie Brown: Ma'am? Could you tell me ma'am?

Teacher: What is it now, Charlie Brown? ("Wa wa wa wa wa?!")

Charlie Brown: Ma'am if we were created in 1950, how are we only somewhere around eight years old?

Teacher: Have your parents ever mentioned freezing their embryos, Charlie Brown? (Wa wa wa wa wa wa wa?)

Charlie Brown: The thing is Ma'am- Do we even have parents? What I mean is, Ma'am: Don't we kind of live by ourselves? Like when Linus stays out all night in the pumpkin patch every Halloween waiting for the Great Pumpkin, his sister Lucy always goes out to get him in the middle of the night and she's not that much older than he is. And I've been wearing the same shirt for over sixty years. And my little sister Sally's hair has just kind of been stuck like that forever and none of us can get it down. And Pig-Pen hasn't taken a bath once through eleven presidential administrations. And Peppermint Patty wears her open-toed sandals outside all year long, even in the Valentine's Day special and that's in February. And Linus' blanket has NEVER been washed. And Marcie hasn't been to an optometrist since 1968. And Snoopy eats turkey on Thanksgiving with his bird friend Woodstock and nobody ever tells him how wrong that is. And nobody's ever told Schroeder to sit up straight while he's playing the piano. And Lucy takes money for giving psychiatric advice without a license and nobody ever tells her how wrong that is either.

Lucy: You Block Head!

Charlie Brown: Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh

(Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope you're feeling a little bit better than when you got here! Please consider subscribing to my newsletter and/or checking out my eBook: It's been downloaded by thousands of infertility patients & professionals. (Their reviews in "Look Inside" on Amazon. Also available on Nook & Kobo y en Espanol- La Risa ES Concebible.)  http://laughingisconceivable.com) subscriber sign up at top.

https://www.amazon.com//dp/B007G9X19A/

 

When a Roll in the Hay, Becomes a Hayride

Infertility: When a roll in the hay becomes a hayride. I hope you're not nearly as sick of my autumn analogies yet as I am. But I can't seem to stop myself. I'll admit I get carried away for some reason at this time of year. I get sucked into every delicious piece of snacky crap on the shelf just because it´s added "pumpkin spice" or "spooky" to its normal name. When most people are overcome by addiction, they see red. I see orange. I'm hoping I'll be able to squelch my latest urge: To trick-or-treat this year dressed as Dorothy. Nobody wants to see a woman my age in gingham unless she's swinging her partner round and round in a barn. Speaking of hay... and infertility...

You decide you want to have a baby. You figure it's just going to take a few simple rolls in the hay and then you'll get pregnant. After all, you've heard the song your whole life: "First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes you driving an embarrassingly sensible minivan." So then week after week, month after month, you two roll in that hay and all you have to show for it is a lot of sweaty hay lodged in various parts of your person. So you get yourself up, dust yourself off... and climb aboard the infertility hayride.

"Move all the way to the front and scooch together."

You guys aren't alone anymore. The hayride is crowded. Dozens, hundreds, thousands are on the ride with you. Some wear scrubs or white lab coats - an odd fashion choice for a bumpy jaunt through the woods. But most look like they shopped where you did: At the overwhelmed and disheveled mess boutique at Neiman Marcus.

There will be no rolls in this hay. Oh no, we can't have that. All of this hay is neatly packaged. The lab coats will tell you where to sit, when to sit-- when to touch the hay-- when not to touch the hay.

"And while you're sitting there enjoying the ride, we'll go into the hen house and collect some eggs and... no no, shoo rooster shoo... we're not quite ready for you yet. Just hold your horses... and your plastic cup."

The ride will go up hills, into ditches, scrape bottom on a rock or two, smell like manure, and pass your car that's been patiently waiting for you in the parking lot, several times. You'll get rocked from side to side, you'll lean on each other so you don't fall overboard backwards, then you´ll catch the woman next to you so she doesn't fall overboard backwards ... and all the while a bunch of the lab coats will be steady on their feet, calmly walking up and down the ride. Unlike the polite folks at the food court, they will be taking samples... from every naked female arm crease they can get their little latex hands on.

And most of all, they'll try to keep you focused on the needles that go into your tummy and your tush so you'll stop believing that you're only hope is to get down on your hands and knees and find one in the haystack.

***

I'm exhausted. This is what happens when a city girl tries to speak "farm"... If you'd like more laughs at infertility's expense (without a single fall reference), please sign on to my not-overly-frequent newsletter and check out my eBook which will also be available in paperback this month-- On all Amazons, Nook, & Kobo. (En Español: La Risa ES Concebible)  https://www.amazon.com//dp/B007G9X19A/

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Corn Maze of Infertility

   

Corn mazes: They're one of my favorite parts of Fall. Even though most of them feel a tad gyppy rip-offish and my husband Lloyd and I are notoriously horrible at them. It's our annual tradition. The sweet smell of corn. The sweet sound of wives yelling at the back of their husbands' heads: "Will you wave the damn flag already and get us out of here?!" Every year we go to the same corn maze. It's carved out the same way. We get lost in all the same places. Last year, there had been a lot of storms. The maze was so depleted, I was towering over the stalks. And as you can imagine, at 5'2 1/4", I don't get that many towering opportunities. Regardless, it still took us a good hour and a half to navigate our way out. Sure, we could see the exit clearly. We just couldn't figure out how to get there without intervention- divine or otherwise... Hm... Sounds familiar...

I wish the first day I set foot into a fertility clinic, somebody had said: "Welcome! Have you ever been in a corn maze? Oh good. Well, going through infertility is just like that."

And then I could have said: "Do you mean that I'm going to pay you a ton of money to feel frustrated, disoriented, totally lost, and like my husband is of no help at all?"

"Great! You understand!"

When you first get into the corn maze we go to, you notice the entrance is right next to the exit. Just like when you're trying to get pregnant (get your mind out of the gutter).. what I mean is-- we all think "Hey, it's September. We'll have a June baby!" "It's so simple. I see the end. It's right there. I can practically touch it."

But what we don't see coming with either the corn maze or trying to get pregnant, is that for many of us there are all kinds of twists and turns and running into a lot of dead ends en route to that exit. (You'd think we would have had a hint of the difficulties ahead at least at the corn maze. I mean, the fkn thing has "maze" in its name.)

So we head into the trying to conceive maze innocently enough, skipping merrily hand in hand, eagerly following the pink and blue ribbons straight ahead. Then we take a pregnancy test. That can't be right. Then we take another pregnancy test. That can't be right either. We hit a detour in the road. There is no more straight ahead. We head right into ovulation tests, fertility diet books, and unsolicited advice that nobody asked for or solicited. Then we take another pregnancy test or two or six. Negative. We realize that we've gone in a circle: We're back where we were before we hit the detour.

So we head left this time. The ribbons are green. Our friendly neighborhood OB/GYN gives us some fertility drugs to try. Dead end. Turn around. Follow the green ribbons in that direction. Reproductive Endocrinologist tries IUI. Following the green ribbons. Following the green ribbons. It's the exit! I see the exit! Ah, fk, it's not the exit. It's the entrance again. I knew it looked familiar. We're starting all over again. Another go at IUI. Following the green ribbons. Follow follow follow follow... Follow the green ribbons and we're about to arrive... it's... it's...  the damn entrance again! Well, just for the heck of it, let's try this same exact dead end path twice more... just to be sure it's not the right way. The ribbons are red now. We're not even in the green zone anymore. Then we somehow end up at IVF. Nope. Still red. Should we just wave the damn flag and give up already? Wait, what's this little path? Have we tried it before? Maybe. I don't know. I'm so turned around.  FET (frozen embryo transfer)? Let's just go there. I'm exhausted. I'm irritable. I'm desperate to get the hell out of this maze already. The exit! Unbelievably, miraculously it really is the way out!

In both the corn maze and the conception maze, patience and perseverance do pay off. And, at least for one of them... it doesn't hurt to smuggle in a pair of hedge clippers.

**************

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Hurricane IVF- Just Another Storm to Weather

Hurricanes & IVF: The similarities are endless. It looks like Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, Katia... the whole gang will mercifully spare our area. Last year, we weren't quite as lucky with good ol' Matthew, the bastard. I dedicate this post from last October to those caught in the devastation of these hurricanes  and / or the horrors of September 11, 2001... and as always... the suckiness of infertility. Whoever came up with the idea of building houses in North Carolina that run solely on electrical power must have been out of their minds....  So here I am in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, sitting in my dark bedroom for the second day, staring at my TV, not watching my football game that, according to my blank clock on the cable box, started without me, waiting for a team of strangers lurking somewhere out there in the night to flip a switch, duck tape a wire hanger to a post or super glue something so I could get on with my life.

 

What if what they're doing doesn't work and they have to start all over again? What if the person working on my case, isn't the right one for my situation and doesn't know what they're doing? What if what they think is the problem turns out not to be the problem at all? What if this goes on for a really long time? What if everyone else around me has their situation resolved and I'm the only one left? Am I supposed to go on with my life as usual as though everything was normal? How can I still go to work, get along with my husband, deal with my friends,  deal with my family (who are a trying group to begin with), have fun, laugh like nothing's wrong... when I'm so emotionally and physically tired and it feels like my whole life is turned upside down?

Waaaaait a minute. This feels eerily familiar.

Didn't I feel just like this while I was going through infertility? Hurricane IVF. I remember it well. 

My Time in The Bathroom:

Hurricane Matthew: My electrical blackout:

Can't flush the toilet. The water comes from a pump that runs on electricity.

Feeling around in the dark to make sure the lid's not down, the seat's not up, and all of my parts are where I've always been led to believe they are. The term "Personal Hygiene" has become highly subjective.

Hurricane IVF: My emotional blackout:

  1. Checking to see if there's any sign of life in my underwear: "Hello? Any unsettling fluids of any amount, shape or color down there?"
  2. Having to pee with a pregnancy test in my hand.  50% of the pee on my hand. 50% on the stick. In my overwrought, hormone-induced state, I invent Pee-on-a-Stick, coming soon to a State Fair near you.

The Detours

My Hurricane Matthew electrical blackout: I head to work. Can't go that way, the traffic lights are out and the road is closed. The detour sign takes me to the left. A tree is down. The detour sign takes me to the right. The road is flooded. The detour sign takes me to the left. I drive and drive and drive. No more detours... or detour signs. Where the hell am I?

My Hurricane IVF emotional blackout: I head to work. But first I have to take a detour twelve miles out of the way to the doctors' office for blood tests. Detour over to the histeralalalagososososososogram (HSG for short) test to see if my Fallopian tubes are blocked causing a detour to surgery and/or IVF. Fallopian roads are open and clear. Headed straight to IUI. Didn't work. U-turned back to where I started and went down the same road again. Didn't work. U-turned back to where I started and went down the same road again. Didn't work. U-turned back to where I started and went down the same road again. Didn't work. Took detour to the left and headed toward IVF. Didn't work. Took detour to the right toward the freezer and then a quick left to a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET). Success. Finally got to where I was going.

And the moral of the story is: No matter what blackout we're in the midst of, the lights always come back on eventually.

And that light can lead you to all you've been wishing for. Some days that's the family of your dreams. And some days it's a toilet that flushes.

Thanks for stopping by! I truly hope you feel a little bit better than you did when you first got here. If you'd like more laughs at infertility's expense, please consider subscribing to my monthly newsletter and/or looking at my eBook above. It's been downloaded & recommended by 1000s struggling with infertility as well as top fertility experts around the world. (Comments in "Look Inside") Available on all Amazons, Kobo, & Nook.(newsletter- sign-up at top): http://laughingisconceivable.com  eBook:  https://www.amazon.com//dp/B007G9X19A/

 

 

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