Wednesday, February 10, 2016

In all honesty


Recently I’ve been feeling a growing need to express some of my thoughts about an issue that impacts more people than you might think. Infertility. Infertility fucking sucks. Trying to have kids is such a personal journey and one that just doesn’t seem to be talked about openly because it’s so personal.  But not talking about it creates so much unbearable isolation and loneliness for those who are struggling through it. So here I am. Talking about it.

For those of you who are dealing with infertility issues and who can’t stand to hear another “happy ending” story, I can assure you, this is not one of them. As a woman who’s going through the brutal struggles of infertility, I can say in all honesty that I really don’t know if we’re ever going to be successful in having a child.  So for anyone out there who is going through this too, don’t worry, this is not a story with a ‘and we’re finally pregnant’ ending.

I thought it would be good to share what people really shouldn’t say to a woman who may or may not be thinking of, or is currently in the process of trying to conceive. I can tell you that it is not helpful hearing stories about how couples have tried for years and years, invested thousands of dollars into trying to get pregnant, then somehow, miraculously they get pregnant after they just stop trying.  It is also not helpful hearing “well enjoy the ‘trying’ part!” Or, “have you tried changing your diet?” Or, “it will happen when it happens”.  “At least” statements are not super supportive either. Trust me, these are not useful. What IS useful is just listening. Empathizing. Not judging. And just being supportive.

You know when I first saw James in the ICU after his accident, one of the first things I thought was that I CAN’T lose him.  We never even had the chance to have kids! I thought if he had to die and we had kids, at least I would still have a part of him with me. I guess that’s why I’m struggling so much with the fact that I can’t seem to have kids. 

For a lot of people with CF, facing the fact that we may die prematurely is a reality. I’m too practical not to think about how this disease will likely be what kills me. I know. This just got real heavy. Sorry. I don’t mean it to seem like I’m having a pity party for myself.  I guess I just thought that if we had kids, then at least there would be a part of me left behind in this world.


Please don’t feel sorry for me. That’s never the point of putting my thoughts out there for everyone to read. I just hope that by putting this shit that’s been floating around my brain out there, maybe it will create less loneliness and less isolation for others who might be going through the same thing.  And in doing so, if I can find the same type of release I have often felt from past blog posts, hopefully I’ll find my way to feeling more peaceful. I should also say that this journey is my husbands and mine alone. It’s not the same as others who may have very different opinions and experiences. These are just my thoughts.

Going through the process of trying to conceive is incredibly personal. For us, even deciding we wanted to become parents was a painstakingly and well thought out process of weighing the benefits against the potential sacrifices since, well we’re not your average couple. We struggled with this decision for so long because we know what a great responsibility it is to become parents and we’ve already got baggage that we would never want a child to have to deal with. I know full well that my health will probably suffer if and when I become a mother. And James’ ability to handle stressful and overwhelming situations has definitely changed since his accident. But, we were (and are) willing to make all the sacrifices you make when becoming a parent because of the simple fact that - we want to have kids. I’ve wanted to be a mother my whole life.

When we did finally decide to take the parental plunge, I knew it wouldn’t be straightforward since fertility and CF don’t mix terribly well together. So I knew I shouldn’t expect an easy fertility road ahead.

Surrogacy seemed, and still does seem, like the most practical and responsible option since there’s always a good chance I’d be put on antibiotics that would potentially harm a fetus. Pregnancy would also be pretty hard on my health, which has already been pretty up and down for the past 5 years. But I could deal with that. Not having the pregnancy experience was a definite bummer, but I want to be a mom. I want to be a healthy mom, so if that’s my ticket, then I’ll take the surrogacy route any day. It’s also helped that I have truly amazing people my life who have offered their uterus to me. So although it’s not my first choice, it’s the option I’m taking and I feel incredibly fortunate to have this be a choice that I get to make. So having made that decision, although it took us a long time to get there, we were on our way to IVF since that’s what is necessary when using a surrogate.  

Before our first attempt I had no doubts that IVF would work. I had no reason to think that my eggs were poor quality and in low quantities. I thought that for woman my age who happen to be using a surrogate, why shouldn’t IVF work? I mean, when you do IVF you usually get multiple babies right!?  Reality check. Things are not always what you see portrayed on television. One womans fertility journey is usually completely different than another’s.

I’ll spare you the details of where our fertility issues lie but I will say to any woman out there, single or not, if you have even the slightest desire to have children at some point down the road, get the blood test that tells you how your egg reserve is doing. Just so you know. If someone had told me when I was younger that at 32 years old I would have few and poor quality eggs I would have never believed them. But at least I would have had the opportunity to freeze any eggs I had.

After five years of wanting and trying for a baby, I am left with feelings of not being good enough, being inadequate as a woman and that my body has let me down. I know in the grand scheme of things, this problem is not that relevant or worthy of problems. But I’m just so tired of feeling like my body is letting me down.  And I have to wonder; am I not supposed to be a Mom? 

There are times when I’m filled with such overwhelming sadness deep down in the pit of my stomach. Every time I see a happy pregnant woman walk by or hear of a pregnancy announcement or see those cute little baby pictures on Facebook, my heart shatters a little more.  Don’t get me wrong. I don’t in any way blame parents for posting those adorable photos. I’d brag like crazy if I had a kid! Look out Facebook world, here’s my beautiful child! I mean of course I’d post photos of my kid on Facebook. It’s not even really about that. It's just a reminder of the fact that despite our best efforts, we are not even close to having a child. I’m so envious of those that seem to have everything they ever wanted. But envy never gets you anywhere does it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m incredibly grateful for everything I have in my life. I think I would have lost it a long time ago if I didn’t have the perspective I have. But infertility is harder than I ever thought possible. How presumptuous and arrogant of me to think that fertility was never going to be an issue.

It’s ok though. I’m fine. We still have options. I should know by now that the plan I had for my life may not come to be a reality. In the meantime, I will use what this experience is teaching me and continue to be grateful for what I have. A supportive husband, an amazing family, and thoughtful and encouraging friends. AND a dog that farts like a trucker but has the best personality!



Thursday, April 23, 2015

At Least I'm not Giving Birth in a Tree!

When things get bad, you never think about the possibility of things actually getting worse. Is it our natural narcissism? Our feeling of entitlement because of the society we live in? Why do we feel we have the right to health and happiness?  Why should I feel that things couldn’t possibly get worse? I’ve been through so much already!? Right? I don’t know. It’s a way of coping I guess. It sounds so egotistical when you see it in front of you though doesn’t it? Fairytale thinking that’s possibly only resolved by a good dose of perspective.

I remember watching Michael J. Fox being interviewed on a talk show. He was talking about his kids and the importance of maintaining perspective. He told this story of a woman in Mozambique whose village flooded. She was pregnant and about to give birth so, to save her baby she climbed a tree and gave birth. Apparently whenever his kids would come to him with a complaint, he would start with, “A woman gave birth in a tree, whatd’ya got?” - in hopes of reminding them to keep things in perspective.
It’s a good reminder for us all I suppose. But, let’s be honest. There are times when life is just relentless and your ability to keep things in perspective isn’t as easy.

I’m writing today, not to be judged, not for sympathy or to have people feel sorry for me. That’s just not the person I am. The reason I’m writing, after all this time, is to help get myself out of this discouraged, frustrated, plain and simple shitty feeling. And I’m sharing this, maybe because it will be the perspective someone else needs, maybe because it might help others understand where I’m at and what I’m going through. And ya, maybe I just need some positive feedback, encouragement, love, support and kindness. I’ll admit it.

I haven’t been able to breathe properly for 4 weeks. I mean really, I haven’t been able to breathe properly for the passed 5 years but at least there have been times in the passed 5 years when I could literally climb a (small) mountain (ok fine, it was more like a steep hill then an actual mountain) without feeling short of breath. And that is an amazing feeling. It was only three months ago that my lung functions were in the low 80’s, which is amazing for me! They haven’t been that high in years! My lung functions are much lower at the moment, which is not a new experience for me. But this time feels very different.

March was an awful month. I lost my greatest source of stability. That person was my Grandfather. He was this solid, supportive and incredibly caring man who was like the tree trunk of the family. He was 92, lived an incredible life full of amazing moments of fun, travel, laughter, kids, grandkids, great-grandkids and absolute unconditional love from his wife, family and friends. No matter how old someone is when they die or how they go, it’s just fucking brutal for those who loved them.

During my grieving, my husband and I got some pretty devastating news from the fertility clinic we’ve been going to. It’s no secret that James and I want kids and have been pursuing it for about 4 years. I won’t go into details because it’s an extremely personal experience, but it felt like a huge weight had been added to this month of torment. Then because I wasn’t sleeping well, was stressed and anxious and wearing myself out, I was put on IV antibiotics because my lungs were starting to suffer. At the same time, I caught a cold, which made things exponentially worse, and I ended up in hospital two weeks later with a raging lung infection and pneumonia. If you know me at all, you know how much I hate being in hospital. Having to sleep in a 1 star hotel bed (at best), eating food that literally smells like vomit (well let’s face it, I don’t eat hospital food period), being leashed to an IV pole, having small irritating tubes up your nose (for the oxygen), all while my eyebrows get totally out of control and my hair gets greasier by the second. AND, hearing about other peoples bowel movements outside my room! I’m not joking! There is a nurse and a patient right outside my room talking about the patients BM’s!! Get me outta here!!

CF is such a sucky disease to have. There are moments that are so scary for people with CF. For me, those moments are: talking about transplant for the first time; having to get a vascular access port surgically implanted because the need for IV antibiotics is too frequent for PICC lines anymore; when the antibiotics you’ve relied on your whole life to fight lung infections start to become ineffective; and when you have to go on Oxygen because your lungs are not working well enough to Oxygenate themselves. I always knew my CF would progress and my lungs would eventually decline, but when it happens, it feels so much worse than you could have ever imagined.

These are moments when keeping perspective and thinking about that woman giving birth in a tree is just not as easy to remember. I guess I said that already though didn’t I.

I’ve never hated CF more than I do right at this moment. It’s the reason why I can’t have children. It’s the reason why I can’t work. It’s the reason why I can’t see my nieces and nephews anytime I want. It’s the reason my husband and I fight sometimes. And most recently and importantly, it’s the reason why I will not be able to be with my sister for the most important day of her life… the day she becomes a mother. Fuck you CF. Yup. I said it.

But look what I’m doing. I’m bitching and complaining about how shitty things are for me right now when in reality, it actually could be or get worse. Like I said at the beginning, when things are really bad, you just can’t imagine how things could get worse. But they could. And they might. (And they already they did). Which is why I’m reminding myself, through writing, talking to my husband, my family and friends, and thinking about that poor woman giving birth in a tree(!); that it is so important to be grateful for what you have at this very moment. There could be someone reading this that is in worse shape than I am and wishing they were in my position.

I’ve given myself permission to cry, whine, bitch and complain for a period of time, but after that’s out of my system, it’s time to get back to my old self, and be positive and appreciative. Or at least be ok with reality.

There are people all over the world who are having a worse day than I am. And yes there are people all over the world who are having a better day than I am. But I’m learning to be ok with wherever I fit in the middle of that. Learning to be comfortable with the feeling of not being able to breathe is a challenge, but I can do it. I can do this. There will be moments where I am filled with intense anger, frustration and pure hatred for my disease, but that’s ok. Because you know the old cheesy saying, ‘tomorrow is a new day’. So if I can just get through today, even just the next 10 minutes, there is potential for change. Not being able to breathe is really shitty and uncomfortable and it feels like your whole world is falling right on top of your chest. But giving birth in a tree can’t be any easier! And on the plus side, I’m catching up on a shit load of Netflix!


Before I sign off, I’d like to take a moment to thank my family and friends that have taken time out of their busy schedules to come and lift my spirits, bring me food despite my uncooperative appetite, help me with whatever I need help with and for distracting me during moments of despair. I have the best family and friends anyone could ever ask for. Thank you to those who have emailed me kind and honest words of encouragement. Thank you to my husband James who has probably been the most patient with me during this unruly journey back to health. I am so lucky to have such wonderful people in my life. And to my Sister who is one of the most amazing woman I know, you are going to be such an incredible Mom to that little baby of yours. And thank you for waiting as long as you possibly could for me to try and get there. Love Love Love.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Jewellery Therapy



I’ve been making jewellery for a while now and have found that tapping into my creative side has allowed me to cope in new ways. It is my daily escape from the realities of living with Cystic Fibrosis.
A few weekends ago I had the opportunity to share a table with my Dad at the Sointula Winterfest craft fair. I sold my jewellery and my dad sold his amazing woodwork. We called ourselves the “Dad and Daughter Crafts” table and had a great time getting to know the locals and learning the ins and outs of selling at a craft fair. 
I’ve always known that Sointula is a special community as some of my extended family has lived there all my life. I grew up visiting Sointula often and have fond memories getting into mischief with cousins at past Winterfests. Being able to be a part of the craft fair this year was incredible and something I truly enjoyed. A special thanks to my cousin Carmen for allowing my Dad and I to have a table!
I’m grateful I’ve found something to keep my hands busy while doing physiotherapy and inhaled meds and have really loved the process of creating.
Thank you so much to those who have supported me throughout this venture and a huge thank you to those who have purchased my jewellery. You are the ones who allow me to escape my daily realities.
Since the holiday season is fast approaching, I thought I’d add some new pieces. Prices start at $15 and go up from there depending on the piece. If you’re interested, feel free to email me at: kimwood81@gmail.com


  
Russian blue leaf



Leaf earrings



Kaprina Sparkle




Cathy set in gold


Cathy necklace in silver


Rainbow Moonstone set



Christine in gold



Blue Sparrow set


Lady in Black set


Opalite Trio



Blue Tone Crystal Pocahontas



Pink Tone Crystal Pocahontas


Rose


Silver Tree


Peruvian Opal leaf set


Silver Winnifred 


Pocahontas part deux


Kate earring and necklace set

 




Cathy earrings in gold




The set below is a special piece I made for the Campbell River Christmas raffle. If you'd like the chance to win this set, raffle tickets are available through Chris Black. She can be reached via email at: chrisblack@shaw.ca