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1/11/2009

Guest Blog Post: Kelly Damron's Journey With Infertility - Author Of "Tiny Toes: A Couple's Journey Through Infertility, Prematurity, and Depression"

Meet Kelly Damron.



I am a fan of Kelly's blog Twin Peas Blog And Podcast and I asked her if she would be so kind as to write a guest blog post for my blog. She kindly agreed to guest blog and here is her thorough, in-depth, and compassionate article. I am thrilled to share it here.

Here is some information about Kelly taken from her blog profile:

Kelly Damron survived infertility only to experience the premature birth of her twin daughters. She rebuilt her marriage that had been on the brink of ending in divorce all because of infertility. In her blog she talks about infertility and much more.

Below is Kelly Damron's guest post. I'm honored to have her guest blog here!

Many women who have endometriosis struggle with infertility. For purposes of full-disclosure, I've never had endometriosis. I cannot imagine the pain you feel each month nor can I relate to the stress that disease places on your body. However, I can relate to your desire to have a baby and how infertility can compound the challenges you already face.

Quickly I'll share my story. My husband was diagnosed with male factor infertility (he had poor sperm). We had tried to conceive spontaneously for 12 months before both of us went to the doctor for testing. I underwent every possible test to determine if I had blockages, endometriosis, lesions in my uterus, etc. You name it and I was tested for it. With male factor infertility, as with endometriosis, your options for getting pregnant can be limited. In our case, the best option was in vitro fertilization with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) -- which is where they manually inject the sperm into an egg because the sperm isn't able to fertilize the egg on its own. We were lucky and conceived using IVF/ICSI. We thought we were really lucky when we found out it was twins. After all, many women I meet tell me how they want twins or that they wanted twins. However, my twin pregnancy ended early at 30 weeks gestation. My girls were only 2.5 pounds each. They spent 7 weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. One of my daughters had a preemie disease and had a life saving surgery when she was only 4 weeks old. Today my girls are healthy and happy. They don't seem to have any long-term consequences of their prematurity. We are lucky and truly blessed for the gift we have been given. Thank goodness for medical advances - they got us pregnant, kept us pregnant and kept our girls alive until they could survive the outside world on their own.

Now onto the real reason for this post. Jeanne asked me to write a post about infertility for her readers. I'm honored that she trusted me with this subject and gracious she asked me to be a guest blogger.

As challenging as it is for people to understand what endometriosis is, it's even more challenging for them to comprehend infertility. Many people consider infertility to be a lifestyle choice. The comments can be cruel: it's natural selection, you weren't meant to have kids, etc. However, infertility is a disease. It is a disease of the reproductive system and can impact both men and women. When you look at the underlying causes of infertility you can pinpoint the disease (except for unexplained infertility which is about 15 percent of all infertility cases). Medical reasons for infertility include, but are not limited to, endometriosis, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), male Varicocele, etc. Male factor accounts for about 30-35 percent of infertility and 55 percent is female or combo male/female factor. No matter the reason, infertility is stressful, sad, private, and lonely.

When a woman is diagnosed with cancer or heart disease she talks freely about her diagnosis and receives compassion from friends, family, co-workers, etc. People understand cancer and heart disease. These are also deadly diseases that if not treated can kill you. This is not the case with infertility. If you are diagnosed with infertility it is very unlikely that you face death. However, you might feel dead inside. I did. I wanted a child more than I wanted to live another day without one. Some of you can probably relate. Some of you might think that I was a little dramatic. Each of us handles our crises differently and this should be okay.

What do you do, though, if you want a baby yet you're faced with female and/or male factor infertility? My advice is to start looking for answers to your questions. You may not even know what your questions are, that is okay too. There are a ton of resources for you. Here is a short list:

InterNational Council on Infertility Information Dissemination, Inc. (INCIID)

RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association

American Fertility Association

Fertility LifeLines

Fertility Today Magazine: "America's Leading Expert in Reproductive Medicine"

About.com: A source for infertility information and discussion forums

My Fertility Plan: Not sure where to start? Contact My Fertility Plan to save money and time before you start your journey

Infertility is complicated by the stigma faced by both men and women. For a man, sperm production can be associated with his manliness. Same logic can be true for women and being pregnant/having a baby. Other issues are the political and/or religious argument against fertility treatments. As you may know the Vatican recently voiced their opposition to assisted reproduction, especially IVF. If you are Catholic this may put you in an awkward place in your family building journey. And I haven't even explored the cost of family building, whether its fertility treatments or adoption, it's expensive and more often than not there's no health insurance coverage...

To end this post I'm offering a few tricks that I learned along the way. Some of these I didn't practice and some I did.

1. Infertility is a couple's disease. It doesn't just impact you, even if you're the one with the medical issue. You are both in this together. My husband and I didn't take this approach initially and our relationship suffered because of it.

2. Communicate often with your partner. This is something my husband and I didn't do well. We made a lot of assumptions about what the other person wanted, and we were often wrong. It created a lot of conflict and almost led to divorce. Be open and honest. It will serve your relationship better in the long run.

3. Tell your friends and family members what you are going through. Often women will tell me this backfires on them. They are often disappointed with the lack of support they receive once they tell all. My logic is that when you let them know you learn who can support you and who cannot. It's always good to find the shoulder you can lean on as it may not be the one you were expecting it to be. I expected my friends who had gone through infertility to be my greatest supporters; instead it ended up being my friends with children. My infertile friends wanted to move on and forget once they got pregnant. They were no help at all, who knew? When those you love are not supportive I think it's because they don't understand the disease or how it makes you feel. Use this as an opportunity to educate them. Point them to websites or blogs they can read. They'll come around eventually and if they don't there is a lesson to be learned here too.

4. Do your own research. Before and after your doctor appointments educate yourself on the terminology, options, etc. My husband and I did this when we got our first set of results and it helped prepare us for discussions with the Reproductive Endocrinologist. It was nice to be able to talk with the doctor and understand the terms he used. It was comforting to know that the information he provided was similar to what we had read.

5. Ask a lot of questions. Whether you seek referrals from others who have been there, done that or ask your doctors/nurses question, make sure every question you have gets answered.

To the readers of Jeanne's blog, I'm offering you one of my two ebooks, free, which are generally only available to subscribers of my blog.

Send Kelly an email at info [at] twinpeas [dot] com and she’ll send you a copy.

Choose from:

A. 30 Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Infertility and Treatments

B. Managing Your Relationships and Your Sanity During Infertility


Best of luck to you on your journey to build your family.

Kelly Damron
Author of "Tiny Toes: A Couple's Journey Through Infertility, Prematurity, and Depression"
Blog: www.Twinpeas.com/wordpress.

This article was posted by Jeanne via "Jeanne's Endo Blog" at www.endendoat.blogspot.com.

6 comments:

Yaya said...

Jeanne,
Thank you for always posting such useful information and finding the best guest bloggers!

Kelly,
Thank you for sharing your story. My husband and I (as you know) are the throws of infertility. It is a hard road because it takes a toll on every aspect of life. It's one of those things that people have no comprehension of if they have not experienced it personally. The marital stress is probably hurting us the most. And the monthly highs and lows are near unbearable at times.
I know there is a rainbow in my future, but when in the midst of infertility, it is near impossible to see it.
Love your blog.
Alicia/Yaya

Jeanne said...

Alicia,
Thank you for being you!!!

Kelly,
Thank you so much for writing this amazing post!! It will help so many people. I appreciate you listing so many resources but also giving your personal story to help others. You are a special lady!! :)

Jeanne

Jannie said...

"you weren't meant to have kids," I certainly got that comment from more than one person and it was the most depressing one to me.

All I can say about this guest-post is it was very well-written, through and compassionate. I hope a lot of people get to read this!

Thanks again, Jeanne for finding another gem of a person to post.

Jeanne said...

Jannie,

It is incredibly unfortunate that people make such hurtful, insensitive remarks to women who are experiencing infertility and/or miscarriage.

It boggles my mind that people can be so clueless. I just don't understand it.

If people feel awkward and don't know what to say, they would be better off to just say nothing at all!

I think sometimes people say idiotic things because they get tongue-tied and these hurtful phrases have become cliches after so many people have said them to so many women for so many years.

Alicia (aka Yaya) wrote a fantastic post awhile back called:

"Things Not To Say After A Miscarriage":

Here is the link to the article:

http://yayastuff.blogspot.com/2008/09/things-not-to-say-after-miscarriage.html

I just cannot comprehend how or why anyone would say such a thing to you!

I agree that Kelly's post was fantastic! She really wrote a comprehensive post that combines a great explanation of how things impacted her and her husband plus that great list of links to resources!

I'm so pleased with the amount of information she packed into that post! I hope a lot of people get to read it too!

I was really pleased that Kelly graciously agreed to write this post.

Her blog is great:

"Twin Peas Blog & Podcast - Infertility and Premature Birth resources and experience"

http://twinpeas.com/wordpress/

Kelly is also the author of a book called:

"Tiny Toes: A Couple's Journey through Infertility, Prematurity, and Depression"

I'm happy that she was able to write this guest blog post.

Have a fantastic day!

Jeanne

Tigger :) said...

Thank You for your sweet comments on my blog! ♥ Hugs :)

Jeanne said...

Tigger,

Thank you for stopping by!

Jeanne ♥

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