monthly theme, June 2013: “looking back” post listing

The PAIL Monthly Theme listing is up!

Thank you all for your submissions! Below are the posts for the June 2013 Monthly Theme topic, “Looking Back.” We asked you to take a look where you were this time last year, two years ago, or more. What has changed in your life? How have you changed as a person? Read on and see what these PAIL Bloggers had to say!

Contributing Bloggers:

  1. Kalyn @ The Kasun Family, “Looking Back“– A quick look back on the past 5 Junes and how much has changed!
  2. Delenn @ Slaying, Blogging, Whatever…, “Looking Back“– Going back through posts before, during and after my infertility. About life in general and specific.
  3. Amanda @ My Life in a Nutshell, “Looking Back“– June is a month of reflection– looking back at what IF and loss has stolen and the perspective it has given me.
  4. Emma @ Emma in Mommyland, “Looking Back“– A look back at June 2010 – June 2013.
  5. Jess @ It’s Just a Box of Rain, “How Has Life Changed?“– So much has changed the past few Junes, from doubt and pain to hope and mommy hood… but there are still a few curves ahead and I find myself wondering what future Junes have in store.
  6. J o s e y @ My Cheap Version of Therapy, “Looking Back“– No wonder the ALI journey is hard to understand from the outside. Looking back over a quick snapshot of my journey the past four years, it seems so “easy”– but I know it was anything but when we were in the middle of it!
  7. Slese1014 @ Mommyhood After Fertility Frustration, “Looking Back…“– A trip down memory lane from engagement to pregnancy number 2 filled with ups and downs and all arounds…
  8. Esperanza @ Stumbling Gracefully, “Looking Back“– A look back at the mountains and valleys that have marked the landscape of our family-building experience.
  9. Cablearms, “Landslide“– An excerpt: “… There comes a point in one’s life when everything seems to fit… to fall into place. Around this time last year, life seemed to be filled with confusion, instability and haze. This year, I feel more alive than I’ve ever been, more loved than I’ve ever felt, more needed than I could ever be, and more present in my life. I am here in the now– happy, healthy, whole.”
  10. Megan @ My New Journey with Being a Mom After Infertility and Battling My Weight, “Another Spin Around the Sun“– The next step in our journey, becoming parents after IF, dealing with PCOS and my continuous battle with my weight.”
  11. Amanda @ Reading Each Page, “What a Difference a Year Makes“– My journey toward a baby had just begun in June 2011, it was at the height of difficulty in June of 2012, and in June of 2013. From hopeful to depressed to unbelievably lucky, all in the course of 3 Junes. What a difference a year makes.
  12. UncommonNonsense1, “Looking Back“– A look at four Junes, and how much my life has changed.
  13. Kacey @ Recipe for a Baby, “Looking back…“– From marriage to completing our family– the last six years.
  14. Sharon @ Conception Misconceptions, “PAIL Monthly Theme Post“– A reflection on what I was doing around this time the past six years.

If you are still writing your post, or these posts inspire you, link up in the comments. Additional posts will be added through the end of the week, so check back in to see if any new posts pop up, and feel free to leave some general comments on the topic below.

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the very bad time – my struggle with PPD after infertility and loss

This post was originally published on my personal blog Little Chicken Nuggets – please check back there to read the comments from other women who went through this or offered their kind words. This post is about my struggle with postpartum depression (PPD) after the birth of my first son. Postpartum depression (and anxiety) is a very real mental health condition and is more than “just the baby blues”. It is something that is not widely discussed in society in general and in the ALI community specifically (at least, it seems that way to me*). I am cross-posting here at PAIL in the hopes that maybe you or someone you know can benefit. I appreciate your sensitivity and understanding.

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I have alluded to The Very Bad Time here and there, but so far have not really discussed it “publicly” beyond saying that it happened. I am not sure why I am ready to talk about it now, but I am. Maybe it will help someone to recognize that they need to ask for some help, and that it is OKAY to do so. Maybe it is because I am having such a different experience this time. The difference between that postpartum period and this one is like night and day. That was a very dark, and lonely time. This one is not. Beyond the usual frustrations and exhaustion, I am fine. Yes, I am sure.

I am.

I know what to look for and so does BJB. I am not afraid to ask for support or talk about my feelings. This time. Last time was very different indeed. On top of what I was feeling (which I will talk about below) I felt a paralyzing SHAME and incredibly crushing GUILT. I finally had the baby I had fought (and lost) for. He was born healthy and beautiful after a textbook pregnancy. What kind of terrible, horrible, ungrateful, undeserving person was I? At least I HAD a baby.

And so, because platitudes are not helpful, I said nothing. To anybody.

After about 4 months, my husband realized that I wasn’t sleeping, eating, or taking care of myself. I had repeated graphic visions of terrible things happening to my baby, and eventually stopped leaving the house as a result. I wouldn’t even go out front to the mailbox.  My emotions were extreme. I was no longer able to function. My husband took me to the emergency room.

I recently wrote an article for PAIL
 discussing a study related to genetic markers for PPD. While I was writing, I went searching for a link to a list of symptoms of PPD in “plain mama English” fromPostpartum Progress to include in the post. I gave them a quick scan and then had myself a good cry. I saw the person that I was in that list, and it made me sad for her. And for me. I’m going to go through their list with you (all italics below – emphasis mine) and tell you what it was like for me. Maybe it was, or is, like that for you or someone you know. But before I start, we’re going to have a Good Will Hunting moment here where I tell you this:

It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.

This is what is was like (keeping in mind that everybody has these thoughts from time to time, but with PPD they are relentless, for more than 2 weeks and significantly impair your ability to function normally):

You feel overwhelmed.  Not like “hey, this new mom thing is hard.”  More like “I can’t do this and I’m never going to be able to do this.”  You feel like you just can’t handle being a mother.  In fact, you may be wondering whether you should have become a mother in the first place.

YES. With a side of “maybe I went through infertility and had those miscarriages for a reason.” Maybe I don’t deserve to have children because I obviously do not have what it takes. The universe was trying to tell me what a shitty mother I would be, but I used science to do it anyway and now I was being punished. I thought that my colicky, high needs infant cried so much because I was the worst mother a child could have.

You feel guilty because you believe you should be handling new motherhood better than this.  You feel like your baby deserves better.  You worry whether your baby can tell that you feel so bad, or that you are crying so much, or that you don’t feel the happiness or connection that you thought you would.  You may wonder whether your baby would be better off without you.

You don’t feel bonded to your baby.  You’re not having that mythical mommy bliss that you see on TV or read about in magazines. Not everyone with PPD feels this way, but many do.

I kept waiting for that “as soon as you see your baby, you’ll feel a love you never knew existed” feeling and it didn’t come. I LOVED my baby, but I didn’t the The Feeling you are “supposed” to get.  I would have walked through fire for him, but at the same time, I felt nothing. Nothing. The absence of feeling. I worry to this day that I’ve screwed up our bond for LIFE because of this. I work very, very hard to form and maintain a special connection to HGB. I love him with everything I have, but it didn’t come “naturally.”

You feel irritated or angry. You have no patience. Everything annoys you.  You feel resentment toward your baby, or your partner, or your friends who don’t have babies. You feel out-of-control rage.

You feel nothing. Emptiness and numbness. You are just going through the motions.

You feel sadness to the depths of your soul. You can’t stop crying, even when there’s no real reason to be crying.

You feel hopeless, like this situation will never ever get better. You feel weak and defective, like a failure.

When I read the four points above last week, I felt punched in the gut. This was *exactly* my experience.  The RAGE. The SADNESS. The NOTHING. The eternity of each and every moment because it would be like this FOREVER.

You can’t sleep when the baby sleeps, nor can you sleep at any other time. Or maybe you can fall asleep, but you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep no matter how tired you are.  Or maybe all you can do is sleep and you can’t seem to stay awake to get the most basic things done.  Whichever it is, your sleeping is completely screwed up and it’s not just because you have a newborn.

You can’t concentrate. You can’t focus. You can’t think of the words you want to say. You can’t remember what you were supposed to do. You can’t make a decision. You feel like you’re in a fog.

I think that at one point, I hadn’t been asleep for the better part of three weeks. I was only eating because I had to feed the baby.  I think that this physical manifestation is when BJB really started to believe that something was wrong. That this wasn’t normal new mother/new life stuff. My thoughts we both muddled and racing such that I would just trail off when I was talking.

You might be having thoughts of running away and leaving your family behind. Or you’ve thought of driving off the road, or taking too many pills, or finding some other way to end this misery.

In my case, I just wanted to go to sleep and not wake up. To be very clear, I did not want to die, I just wanted to sleep. I wanted to crawl into my bed and close my eyes and just do that forever. I wanted silence.

You know something is wrong. You may not know you have a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, but you know the way you are feeling is NOT right. You think you’ve “gone crazy”.

You are afraid that if you reach out for help people will judge you. Or that your baby will be taken away.

I knew I was in a bad way, but I also thought I deserved it. I thought that I deserved to feel this way because I felt shitty after getting what I wanted. I felt as though I couldn’t say anything because “At least (I) have a baby!” and “But you have a beautiful baby!” and “Just be grateful!” and “It’s just the baby blues.” I felt an overwhelming fear that my baby would cry in public and they would know what a terrible mother I am. If I told anyone how I was feeling, they would come and take my child away.

Rationally, cognitively, I knew the above things were not true. But when you are suffering from a mental illness, you are not rational. You need help.

I am profoundly grateful that the doctor I saw the hospital took me seriously. Our family health team swooped in right away and got me the help I needed. Within 24 hours I had a social worker, a psychiatrist, and a mental health nurse. There were detailed discussions (that actually included me) about medications that would allow me to continue breastfeeding, but were a necessity in my case. I went to a support group for 4 hours every Wednesday morning for 3 months. I saw the social worker every week. The nurse came to my house every few days for a few weeks until I got my feet back under me. But still, I was ashamed. Horribly, irrationally ashamed. I admitted some things to some people, but everything to nobody. Not even BJB. If I didn’t tell you, it is because I was ashamed. Regardless of what it should have been, I felt so much shame, I couldn’t tell you.

This isn’t all of it. There are some things I don’t think I want to discuss because there are some places that are too painful to revisit. And mercifully, there are many things I can remember only with the faintest of reality. I am myself again, but believe me when I tell you that I was broken. Believe me when I tell you that I am whole again.

If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the above, or in this list of symptoms of postpartum depression/anxiety/OCD, please, ask for help. You need it. You deserve it. You will get it. You will get better.

It’s not your fault.

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*Recently, I have come across the following posts or had them shared with me as a result of writing the above post. I know there is more out there and I wish I could have found it when I desperately needed it. If you have written about PPD, post adoption depression syndrome (PADS) or prenatal depression and would like to share, please link up in the comments below.

When PPD Strikes – Bohemian Transplant (also check out her posts on prenatal depression “Floundering” and “Turning Over a New Leaf“)

PADS – From IF to When

The Dark, Dirty Secret of Prenatal Depression – The Infertility Voice

the monday snapshot – Jess

Jess of It’s just a box of Rain is going to open up the week for us with her contribution to the The Monday Snapshot – an evolution of the MMM feature, meant to bring the PAIL blogroll to life by giving its members a chance to feature themselves and make new connections. 

If you would like to be featured on The Monday Snapshot, please sign-up here!

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V is the light of my life. She is my 14.5 month old daughter. I recently made the transition from full-time mom with a baby in day care to a SAHM. This is not without its sacrifices, but I was unwilling to make the sacrifices required of me working in a stressful career and not getting to spend enough time with the daughter I had waited 7 long years for… it was an adjustment but I am pretty happy about it. Most excitingly, V just started walking! It’s been so much fun but wow, pretty tiring too.

Despite the belt-tightening due to my SAHM status, we lucked into some vacations recently (for little to no many) which has been awesome, as I always wanted to travel with my child. We went to the Outer Banks first, where V frolicked in the sand and waves. And last week, we went to Disneyland and had so much fun, it truly is magical, especially as a parent…especially because I was so often doubtful (in the past) I’d get to see the joy of a child watching a parade, hugging Pluto, and riding on Peter Pan… So my snapshot for this week is from our recent trip.

I am in the middle of trying to figure out more about who I am these days, beyond infertile… beyond a recurrent loss mama… beyond an adoptive mama… beyond someone with endometriosis… come stop by any time if you’d like to connect or learn more about my journey! All are welcome!

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Now, get to know a little more about Jess with her answers to the Monday Snapshot “5 Questions”:

1) How long have you been blogging and how did you get started?

I started by blogging about IF and loss experiences and then IVF… and now adoption! I have
been blogging for about 4 years. I started just by writing about my feelings but stayed
for the company.

2) Tell us a little about your ALI journey and your family (3-4 sentences):

We TTC for 6 years then moved to domestic adoption. We tried 10+ IUIs and 4
IVFs and lost 4  babies along the way. We are now proud parents to a daughter
we adopted as a newborn, and in an open adoption and oh I just became a SAHM.

3) What makes you unique in the blogging world? (e.g. special talent, rare diagnosis, life experience)?

I am a recurrent pregnancy loss sister and an open adoption mama
– both of which are a little on the rarer side.

4) One word to describe yourself: 

open

5) What blog or website (IF or not) would you recommend to others? Why?

Buzzfeed!   There’s always a quick bit of humor or news centralized for a busy mama
and they have a great app. (and sometimes recipes too!)

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As always, we want to see your Monday Snapshot as well, so please comment below with a link to your post– and of course, go visit Jess at It’s Just a Box of RainIf you would like to be featured on The Monday Snapshot, please sign-up here!

Share. Visit. Read. Comment. Support.

monthly theme, June 2013 – “looking back”

While it may be a bit of a delicate term for what so many of us have been through, our experiences through infertility, adoption and loss are often referred to as a “journey.” Journeys can travel winding roads with surprise pit stops, departures from the chosen path, or maybe hard straight lines that barrel on stubbornly towards a clear goal.

Where has your journey brought you? Where have you been?

This June marks the one-year anniversary of PAIL. As a website, we remember what we were doing a year ago, but what about all of us as its individual readers?

I know where I was a year ago. I had two six-month-olds and was preoccupied with moving them from our bed to their cribs, starting solid foods, and preparing to live with my parents for most of the summer while my husband studied for the bar (yikes!). This June, we’re trying to KEEP one of our rambunctious toddlers in her crib at night, she’s starting to reject foods that she loved last year, and my husband is concurrently job-hunting and taking on his own clients in the meantime. TWO years ago, though… that was a trip. I was a few months pregnant and simultaneously thrilled and freaking out. And the year before that I was losing hope that it would ever happen.

A lot can change in just a few years, can’t it?

This month’s monthly theme topic is “Looking Back.” What were you doing last June, or two, three, four or more Junes ago? How about when you started your blog? We’ve all been on our own individual journeys all along, but journeys look different when you measure where you are now against specific points in your past.

So jump in and share with us: how has your life changed?

Fill in the form below to submit a post from your blog and share your experiences with us! Posts are due by next Thursday, June 27th at midnight and the listing will be posted on Friday, June 28th.

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It takes balls…

This is part two of our two-part feature on male factor infertility issues. Yesterday I shared an article about what it’s like for men dealing with infertility. (Click here to catch up.) Today, my husband is guest posting to give us his personal take on it. We hope you’ll enjoy and share your thoughts with us.

They are THE symbol of virility. And, for the man who really wants to make a “statement” about his manhood, he can even hang a pair from his truck bumper. Regardless of what that statement might be (that’s a blog post for another board/time), as a man who has struggled with male-factor infertility (MFI), I find the truck nut statement, regardless of what it might be, confusing. Do the balls really make the man? If so, what does that mean for a man who may be struggling to “do his part” in conceiving a child? What I’ve learned on my journey with MFI is that it’s not the circumference of one’s testicles that makes the man, but the size of his… I’m getting ahead of myself.

First, a little about my story.

It was December of 2010, Chandra and I had been married for two and a half years when we miscarried. Yes, “we.” We miscarried after months of preparations, procedures and counseling with a fertility specialist. We. Nothing can prepare you to “be a man” in the midst of a miscarriage. I’ll never forget that night: running to Walgreen’s and buying multiple pregnancy tests to “make sure” that it wasn’t a misreading; sitting in the hall as Chandra took the tests; barging in when she started bawling; and, holding her as we cried in each other’s arms on the bathroom floor.

I wish I could wax eloquently about the emotions that led to my decision to get tested. The fact of the matter is that I couldn’t bear to see my wife so heartbroken again. I had to do something. And, that something was making sure I was “doing my part.” After several “complete” examinations (and I mean complete—in 21 years when I turn 50, I’ll know exactly what to expect), it was determined that I had varicoceles that were overheating “the boys.” Surgery was the only option: a same-day surgery with a small incision just below the belt line. February of 2011 I had the surgery. I had to be horizontal for a week and no “heavy-lifting” for a week after that. Since I work in a very public setting, and I was out for two weeks, news quickly spread about me being “laid up.” And, though this was a private matter, the rumors became very public. People were spreading unflattering rumors about my balls. Seriously, I’m a pastor not a porn star. It was strange that otherwise great people felt it their responsibility to provide commentary on something they knew nothing about. The rumors were embarrassing and spread quickly. Nevertheless, I stayed quiet and let the rumors circulate and run their course without saying much of anything. But, I shouldn’t have. I should have said something then, but I didn’t. So, I’m going to say it now…

Male factor infertility doesn’t make you less of a man.

Manhood is not defined by the circumference (or the productivity) of the testicles hanging between your legs (or from the bumper of your truck!). The true measure of a man is his ability to see the truth of a situation and do something about it.

Male factor infertility is a real issue that we (especially men) can’t ignore. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine:

“about one-third of infertility can be attributed to male alone factors.”[i]

It’s a common issue. By saying and doing nothing, we are diminishing our manhood. Denying the truth of a situation doesn’t help anyone. Let me be clear: being open about and dealing with male factor infertility will “take a lot of balls.” It takes courage to talk about, find answers to, and go through treatments (if there are any) for MFI; but, in the end, it’ll make us all better men.

Male factor infertility isn’t easy to talk about. I know that. This is really the first time in three years that I’ve written or spoken so openly about it. I know, statistically, I’m not alone on this journey, but there aren’t many other men who are willing to talk about male factor infertility. “It takes balls” to tell your story. I’ve found and shared mine. Will you?

What’s your story?


Has male-factor infertility affected or influenced the way you understand manhood?

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daddy unicornChandra is a Mom and Foster Mom. She holds a Master’s degree in Theology and is particularly interested in the theology of infertility. Chandra’s husband has *balls* and she is so crazy in love with him it’s not even funny. She occasionally attempts to make sense of all those things, and more, over at her blog, MetholicBlog. She also shares embarrassing stories about her husband and unicorns, because yeah, he’s so manly he plays toy unicorns with his daughter, Stella, and they have magical adventures together.


[i] “Men’s Health: Male Factor Infertility” at OSU.edu <http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/patientcare/healthcare_services/mens_health/male_factor_infertility/Pages/index.aspx> Accessed June 19, 2013.

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