So Wrong on So Many Levels

tantekFirst Response, that purveyor of hope and warm fuzzy images of normal fertile ladies, has a new product on the market that tests a woman’s fertility.  Apparently, it “accurately” measures your Day 3 FSH giving you a picture of the quality and quantity of your eggs.  I’m not going to address the fact that FSH is in some circles considered to be an inexact measurement of a woman’s egg quality (note that I didn’t say fertility – a woman can have the eggs of an 18 year old and still be unable to get pregnant due to other issues such as tubal blockage, uterine abnormalities, hormonal issues, etc) nor am I going to address what I consider to be First Response’s blatant use of this product to freak women the f*ck out and make them think that if they have a high FSH, they are permanently screwed. 

No, I’m going to address how they have marketed this scare tactic because it is a real smack to those of us who are fertility challenged.  They have put together a commercial for which I was not able to find a link, but that has been transcribed here

artnooseMy blood started to simmer at the first line, “The moment we pass from womanhood to motherhood, we cross a threshold“.  At least it could be read to include women who become mothers through adoption or even women who provide additional parenting as aunts, etc.  But, what is this magic threshold? Does that mean that you cannot be a mother and a woman?  Or, is it like the field in Iowa where you walk into the corn never to be seen again? What of those women who cannot be mothers or choose not to? Are we left behind in womanhood never to cross this magic Rubicon?

If only that were the top of the mountain.  Instead, it was only the tip of the infuriating ice berg. Here is the real blood boiler line:

Fertility is a woman’s most sacred birthright.”  What. The. F*ck.  Are you shitting me?  If this is the case, then I’ve been totally cheated!  I want my money back!  I’m going to call my parents and tell them that they really screwed this one up. 

 I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around how ridiculously awful this is.  It’s as if the most important thing that a woman’s most prized possession is her ability to reproduce, to repopulate the species.  (Notice that there is no mention of man’s most sacred birthright (or as the commentary so eloquently put it, “[s]trangely, I never see Viagra commercials arguing that knocking people up is a man’s most sacred birthright.” That would be sexist, right?)).  And, what of those of us who are infertile? We apparently lack that most sacred of birthrights, and have little else that can be nearly as important as this. We are, in essence, lesser people because of it.  Is it really necessary to beat on infertile women to sell a product?  Have we reached that low?

As unbelievably an eye-roll inducing a statement as it is, I know in my heart that my fertility, or lack thereof, is not a measure of me anymore than it is a sacred birthright.  I cringe at the word birthright anyway because it has so many connotations of people getting things that they have done nothing to deserve, although, frankly, I’ve thought this about quite a few fertile ladies in my day, so many they aren’t that far from the mark.  No, fertility is no more a sacred birthright than expecting that you will have blonde hair or blue eyes.  First and foremost, it is a choice, one of many that women get to exercise now that we have moved out of the Dark Ages.  Women can be mothers, but, they can choose not to be and still have fulfilling, non-spinsterly lives. 

So, shame on First Response for trying to repackage fertility into something that should be seen by women as a thing that they are entitled to or, by extension, must exercise.  

images: upper left – tantek; bottom right – artnoose, both used through Creative Commons.

I’m Special

In my visit with Dr. Salsa today to go over the bloodwork that I had for immune testing and the Clo.mid Challenge, I learned that I am truly ‘special’ although not for behavioral issues.  I’m special because I am in the 1% of recurrent miscarriers who have chromosomally abnormal embyros but neither partner has a chromosomal abnormality. 1 percent. I’m shocked that the percentage is so low.  I had really thought it was more prevelant than that.  Can you imagine if I played the lottery with these odds and my luck?  I could be a millionaire several times over. 

On the other side of the statistics, though, I still have a 76% chance of actually having a living, screaming, squalling infant at the end of a nine month tunnel.  As I told Dr. Salsa, it is literally inconceivable to me right now that this would happen.  He knows of what I speak – he and his wife had three miscarriages in a row before number 4 stuck. 

Other good news: no immune issues and a nice, normal FSH.  Smack me, though, for wanting something definitive – preferably curable – as to why I cannot carry a child to term (other than bad luck). 

We’re on track for an IVF in March 2009.  It seems far away, but I know it will be here before I blink. I hope I’m ready by then.

Step Away from Dr. Google. That’s an Order!

Dr. Google and I go way back.  He’s seen me through some pretty tough times – when I found out my tubes were blocked, when I wondered if it was normal for G to hump other Golden – and whenever I have a question that is either too pressing or too embarrassing to ask a real human being (or both), I turn to him. 

01135546100When I got my Day 4 FSH and estradiol results today, I of course plugged them in.  Big mistake.

First, I should say that my FSH was 7.1 and my estradiol was 81. The FSH is fine, it’s the estradiol that started me on a panic.  I unwisely clicked on … actual studies involving Day 3 estradiol levels that are over 75.  There were dark discussions of low egg yield for retrieval and no pregnancies.  Not what I needed to read. Mind you, one study is 12 years old.

And, never mind that in my one IVF, I had 12 eggs retrieved, 9 of which fertilized and developed.  Oh, no. All I could focus on was that damn number.  By 3pm, I was in quite a lather.

I turned to Dr. Silber’s book for some well-written guidance on whether or not I should truly freak out.  He didn’t disappoint – not only should I not worry, but I should be more focused on having an antral follicle scan!  I then consoled myself remebering that when I went in for my Day 4 ultrasound, there were lots of little pearls on the girls, so chances are I have a pretty good reserve.

But, I still cannot shake what I read in those damn articles.  I will definitely bring those up with Dr. Salsa when I meet with him in two weeks (!) and will content myself with the knowledge that if it was truly awful, they would have called me before I went in. 

So I am faced with a choice: I can either obsess and panic over this for a long time, likely without reason, or I can let it go and enjoy the fact that I have some beautiful little follies thanks to Clomid and Mr. X and I are taking every opportunity to bombard those beauties with lots of troops. 

Which do you think I’ll choose?