Monthly Archives: August 2011

Mad-Eye Moody’s Advice For the Next Time (And There Will Be A Next Time)

Thanks everyone for your help. I think together we have crafted a tighter, more persuasive letter.

But, I should have taken action earlier. I was not vigilant enough.

The problem? Turns out, you have to send a letter to the editor within 7 days of the article’s publication. Sigh. And Doh.

However, I’m sure unfortunately that there will be a next time: in fact, we know what they are working on.

And when there is, I’ll revise and send a new letter ASAP. So, please keep me posted if you see an article on ALI in the New York Times. Together, we’ll be ready.

CONSTANT VIGILANCE!!!!

——-
To the Editor:

After reading the latest New York Times article about infertility (The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy, August 10, 2011), I have to ask, why does your coverage seems to only focus on the fringes of this subject?

This was the latest of many articles* to suggest only the wealthiest of citizens suffer from this disease, and that “typical” infertility patients are over 40, use surrogates and/or donor eggs.

One in eight couples in the U.S. suffer from infertility. Infertility affects people of all reproduction ages and incomes. And in reality, fewer than 3% of infertility patients need advanced reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization (IVF).
I invite you to look at the bigger picture and speak with Americans of ALL ages and incomes who are struggling with infertility. People like Courtney Cheng, who has to seek answers beyond her family doctor after her fourth miscarriage. Or Keiko Zoll, diagnosed with premature ovarian failure at age 26.

Jjiraffe
Main Street, USA

All statistics on infertility provided by Resolve. Please go to http://www.resolve.org for more information.

Articles referred to:
India Nutures Business of Surrogate Motherhood 3/10/2008


Her Body, My Baby 11/28/2008

Payment Offers to Egg Donors Prompts Scrutiny (5/11/2010)

Meet the Twiblings (12/29/2010)

An American Family: Mom, Sperm Donor, Lover, Child (6/19/2011)

The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy (8/10/2011)

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Filed under Infertility, writing

My Letter to the Editor of The New York Times

I needed some good guidelines for writing my letter to the editor of The New York Times. I have never written a letter to the editor of any publication. So I decided to seek tips from, er, The New York Times. Here is their own take on what they look for.

In short, be succinct and engaging. Make your case in 150 words. Use facts.

I read a bunch of letters that have been published. Interestingly, unless I’m missing something, I didn’t see any letters published about THAT ARTICLE.

OK. So here’s my take:

To the Editor:

After reading the latest New York Times article about infertility (The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy, August 10, 2011), I am puzzled why your coverage seems to focus on the fringes and boundaries of this subject.

One in eight couples in the U.S. suffer from infertility. Infertility affects people of all reproduction ages and incomes.

If you read the published articles about infertility in The New York Times, you would think that only the very wealthy suffer from the disease. Patients you have profiled include: a 46 year old woman using donor eggs, a woman with multiple homes who pursues many treatments and finally settles on surrogacy, a woman has “twiblings” after using two different surrogates and donor eggs.

These are by no means the TYPICAL infertility patients who walk through the doors of hundreds of offices of reproductive endocrinologists each year. In reality, fewer than 3% of infertility patients need advanced reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization (IVF).

I would invite you to look at the bigger picture. Speak with people struggling with infertility of ALL ages and income.

Jirraffe,
Main Street, USA

Obviously I had to trim the focus and detail in order to make the letter fit the 150 word parameter (and I can’t get it under 180 words).

What do YOU think? Please let me know in the comments.

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Filed under Infertility, writing

Pretty Flowers!

I am really sad and tired. But today I got to go to my MIL’s magnificent garden, spruced up for a garden tour. I think I have talked about what an overachiever my MIL is, but this particular event was so huge and important that a motherf-ing bus of TOURISTS (some of them were from FRANCE!) showed up to see her 3/4 acre of paradise on earth.

Here’s some photos from my phone that can barely do it justice.

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Are You Infertile? The New York Times Thinks You are Rich and Whimsical

I want to dedicate this post to my father. Tonight he lies in a hospital bed suffering from complications as a result of a cancer surgery. My father had a long career as an intrepid, truth-seeking journalist, in a golden age of newspaper journalism. I flatter myself that he would like this post.

My dad, with his grandson.

Also, many thanks to Keiko, Mel and Esperanza.

Ah, the Grey Lady. Bastion of objectivity. Lately I have been wondering, though: what is UP with The New York Times and their coverage of infertility?

Let me start by saying that I respect most of the reporting that The New York Times does: we need their investigative journalism here and abroad and no one else can bring that to the table right now.

But The New York Times has consistently published articles that marginalize those who are going through infertility.

Bold statement, I know. Do I think The New York Times is intentionally doing this? I don’t know the answer to that. But here’s what I do know:

One in eight people suffer from infertility. Infertility effects people of all reproduction ages and incomes and those who are in their twenties are increasingly being afflicted. Those going through infertility suffer from similar levels of stress as those suffering from cancer. (For more facts about infertility, go to Resolve.) It is a devastating disease: that’s right, a disease. Yet to criticize and scoff at those who suffer from it is common.

All this most of us in the ALI (Adoption, Loss and Infertility) community know. Mel says we preach to each other and we need to turn the message outward. Keiko says we can only be heard if we keep talking, and talk loud enough in large numbers. I couldn’t agree with them more.

Back to The New York Times: the style/life section often runs stories about people undergoing infertility treatments. I have read hundreds of blogs about infertility. The vast majority of these are written by people who often have to postpone treatments because they can’t afford them, or who are unable to foot the incredible expense of adoption (for those who like to say, “Just Adopt”, know that adoptions often cost more than $30,000) and this is really, really sad.

If you read the articles about infertility in The New York Times, you would think that only the very wealthy (and whimsical, but we’ll get to that later) suffer from the disease. Patients profiled: a 46 year old woman using donor eggs who already has multiple children reducing twins, a woman with multiple homes, pictured with her baby and baby nurse (!), who pursues many treatments and finally settles on surrogacy, a woman has “twiblings” after using two different surrogates and donor eggs.

These are by no means the TYPICAL infertility patients who walk through the doors of hundreds of offices of reproductive endocrinologists each year. But you would not know this from reading The New York Times.

Other stories featured in The New York Times: the high cost of twin pregnancies (warning of the dangers of pre-maturity associated with twins!), multiples lead to dangerous pregnancies, how women should “lower stress” as a way to battle infertility (in other words, just relax!) and articles about “fertility tourism”.

When The New York Times covers infertility, there is almost always either an exotic angle featuring a wealthy person or, choice. Here’s where we get to the controversial issues like reducing twins, what to do with embryos. The subjects considering “choices” are treated as whimsical at best.

“Things would have been different if we were 15 years younger or if we hadn’t had children already or if we were more financially secure,” she said later. (From “The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy”, 8/10/2011)

And:

“It just never felt right,” Mr. Stansel said. “We prayed many nights. A lot of sleepless nights. Originally we thought we might do the reduction. We chose to carry all six and, we believe, let God do what he’s going to do.” (From “Painful Choices With Fertility Treatment That Leads to the Most Dangerous Pregnancies”, 10/12/2009)

Here’s the thing: The New York Times spends almost all of its considerable resources on the extreme edges of infertility, the boundaries of treatments. But for the vast majority of us suffering from the disease, we’re just in the weeds. Suffering from miscarriages. Taking Clomid. Saving for IUIs and IVFs or adoptions. Fighting with insurance companies. Advocating for a tax credit for fertility treatments. We are a significant percentage of the American public and we are not represented or accurately portrayed in The New York Times.

I don’t know how we can change this: maybe the hundreds/thousands of ALI bloggers could retweet this article and ask The New York Times to write an article about Family Act of 2011, S 965, which would offer a tax credit for the out-of-pocket expenses associated with infertility medical treatment? Instead of the next article featuring the wife of a billionaire hellbent on genetically engineering her children, could they focus on Bodega Bliss, who has suffered from her fourth miscarriage and has to seek answers beyond her family doctor? Or Keiko, diagnosed with premature ovarian failure at age 26, who is pondering difficult and expensive choices beyond her means? Or Dresden, who detailed her difficult voyage to become a mother while caregiving for her grandmother? Or Smart One, whose past history with infertility motivated her efforts to be a gestational surrogate? Or why not write about Broken Brown Egg, a group that is become a rising voice advocating for infertility awareness in the African American community. THESE are the heartbreaking and inspiring tales of infertility that are untold. And happen every day, to people you know.

What ideas do YOU have for telling the real story of infertility to the public? Are there other media outlets covering infertility more accurately? Are we doomed to being misunderstood?

Addendum:

I don’t have access to Lexis Nexis, but these are the articles I found about infertility in The New York Times in the last four years. The headlines are indicative enough of the intention of the articles in most cases, I believe.

Lowering Odds of Multiple Births (2/19/2008)
India Nutures Business of Surrogate Motherhood 3/10/2008
A positive article! After Years of Fertility Treatments, Facing Life Without Children 6/10/2008
Her Body, My Baby 11/28/2008
Birth of Octuplets Puts Focus on Fertility Clinics (2/11/2009)
Picture Emerging on Genetic Risks of IVF (2/17/2009)
The Trouble With Twin Births (10/11/2009)
Grievous Choice on Risky Path to Parenthood (10/11/2009)
Payment Offers to Egg Donors Prompts Scrutiny (5/11/2010)
Meet the Twiblings (12/29/2010)
An American Family: Mom, Sperm Donor, Lover, Child (6/19/2011)
The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy (8/10/2011)

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Filed under Family, Infertility

Bizzaro Summer

I am a planner. I like to plot every move, execute my days with the certainty of knowing my decisions will lead to an outcome directly of my choosing.

I knew EXACTLY how my summer would play out this year.

Remember that episode of “Seinfeld” where everything is backwards? It was called “Bizzaro Jerry”. In the episode, everyone does the opposite of what they normally do: shiftless Kramer gets a job, Elaine finds new friends just like the gang, but opposite. (They are all nice and caring instead of selfish and silly.) The Bizzaro concept comes from a Superman comic book. According to Wikipedia, this particular comic book features “Superman’s exact opposite, who lives in the backwards Bizarro world. Up is down; down is up. He says “Hello” when he leaves, “Goodbye” when he arrives.”

I lived a summer in Bizzaro World.

In the real world:

– Darcy would spend two weeks in Europe. My brother would fly out to help me out for part of that time.
– I chose to not go to BlogHer, instead allocating our financial resources to a trip to Austin with my whole family. My kids would get to visit with my parents, who they have not seen in almost a year.
– I would have jumpstarted The Pomegranate Society.

In my Bizzaro summer:

– Darcy had to cancel his trip, and I went to Europe, instead, in his place, solo. My brother flew out to help Darcy with the kids.
– Our family trip to Austin was cancelled and instead of everyone meeting up in Austin, my brother and I flew there, drove 16 hours and helped my Mom while my Dad had cancer surgery.
– I did not jumpstart The Pomegranate Society.

In the Real summer:

– I would have not spent a minute away from my children.
– My parents would have had a treasured visit with the grandchildren they rarely see.
– Everything would have progressed on schedule, with little spontaneity.

In Bizzaro summer:

– I spent two weeks (!) away from the kids.
– I hung out with my beloved London friends, in London.
– I took a road trip with my brother, eating food from BBQ dives, Tex-mex places, singing Foster the People lyrics. I laughed so hard I could hardly drive as I listened to his story of the concert he put together for Matt and Kim in two days which featured a buddy’s first (and last) performance as “Mr Hand” – he played samples of obscure dialogue like “I smell a rat” over techno beats – and Caged Match to the Death. Matt and Kim are a Brooklyn hipster duo who sing about life and love in the big city, so to say that the audience and concert were a mismatch would be an understatement.

Thinking of these experiences, I shake my head and wonder if I somehow dreamed up the whole thing. But I didn’t and I have to admit that Bizarro Summer was kind of good for me. There was an escapist element to it all. Me, the SAHM who is all about routine, was shaken out of it by external forces beyond my control.

I am sad that my kids didn’t see their grandparents in person, but we did a Facetime call with my them and to my Dad that meant a tremendous amount. It sucks that we lost almost all of the money on the rental house and our flights were non-refundable. But this weekend, with the money we did get back from the rental, we drove down to Monterey and stayed one night in a hotel with the kids. And it was really fun.

My dad is right. Life is lived better when you are as the bamboo, who can flow where the wind blows.

I think the song below is the soundtrack for Bizarro Summer.

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Filed under Discovering joy, Family, Fear