Your birthday present to me

NIAW 2014

Today is my 33rd birthday, and I’m asking you for a present.

You see, it’s also the last day of National Infertility Awareness Week.  And I’m hoping that I’m hoping that 33 of my friends will take two minutes to write their Senators and their Representative and ask them to support the Family Act.

Aside from purchasing our house, tackling infertility has been the biggest financial commitment we’ve ever made.  Many people don’t realize that only 15 states have laws requiring infertility coverage. Even the term “coverage” is misleading, because in some states (like California), insurance companies are required to offer coverage, but employers are not required to make it a part of their insurance package for their workers. In other words, companies aren’t required to accept infertility coverage for their employees, even though the insurance companies have to offer it.  

My own insurance covers nothing related to infertility diagnosis or treatment, so we’ve paid for everything out-of-pocket.  The federal tax code offers a medical deduction for expenses that go beyond 10% of your adjusted gross income, but that’s only for people whose expenses exceed 10% in a single calendar year. If you have a big bill in November and a big bill in February, you can’t deduct them both in the same tax year.

Last year The Family Act of 2013 was introduced in the Senate and the House.  This bill would provide a tax credit for out-of-pocket expenses for IVF and fertility preservation treatments starting with the first dollar spent.  It must pass by December 2014 to become a law.  

So, if you want to give me a gift for my birthday, please click on the links below to send a pre-written email to your two Senators and your State Representative.

Many couples facing infertility are forced to choose between their dream of parenthood and financial stability.  Consequently, parenthood after infertility is often only achieved by the wealthy.  

Odds are I’m not the only person you know who deals with infertility.  It affects 1 in 8 couples, but many people keep it a secret.  If you take the time to send an email today, you’ll most likely be helping several other friends or loved ones- not just me.  

So, happy birthday to me and thank you for the gifts!

I’m “Coming Out”

I’ve been silent on this blog for awhile because I’ve been feeling like there was nothing I could share.

Many of you use your personal blogs as places to share picture of their kids, but I don’t have kids (more on this in a second…), so I have no cute photos or funny anecdotes.   Some of you use your blog to review the books you’re reading or to talk about what God and life have been teaching you.  But the books I’ve been reading lately felt too private and too personal to reveal.

You see, we have been trying to have a child for almost two years now.  About a year ago, we went to a fertility specialist and discovered some physical issues which are making it difficult for us to conceive.  I’ll spare you the details, but we’ve been through 8 months of very difficult and very expensive treatments, and they’ve all failed.

Through it all, I’ve been reading books like The Infertility Companion, When Empty Arms Become a Heavy Burden, Inconceivable, and Zita West’s Guide to Infertility & Conception.  So you can understand why I haven’t been doing any book reviews…

Our family and close friends know what’s going on, and many of Tom’s friends know.  I, however, have been purposely keeping it a secret from most of my friends, for many reasons.  (If you’re interested in hearing the details, I have been blogging about my journey semi-anonymously at Amateur Nester. Oddly enough, it’s easier for me to talk about this with strangers than with friends).

But we’re starting more aggressive treatment after the New Year, and I know it’s going to get harder to keep this to ourselves.  I also want to start talking about it because I want to get past the shame, embarrassment, and taboo associated with it.

I’m not going to turn this blog into a place where I talk a lot about our infertility.  I’ll save that for other blog.  But I do want to stop feeling so restricted in what I write here.  So the secret is out- at least on this blog.

One thing… If you are friends with me on Facebook, please do not mention our situation there.  Only a handful of people read this blog, so it feels more private than Facebook (even though I know that’s technically not true).  I’m “coming out” in stages, and Facebook will be the last place I talk publicly about it (if I ever do).

Please don’t feel pity for us.  God has sustained us through this, and I know the outcome is in His hands.  If you want to support us, you can do so by praying for us, and by not taking it personally if I decline invitations to baby showers or events where lots of small children are present.  I welcome words of support, but I do ask that you refrain from offering advice such as “Just relax and it will happen,” or “Maybe you should just adopt.”  As well-meaning as these comments are, they sting.

One thing about infertility is that you often find out that other people have secretly experienced it as well.  So if you are currently experiencing something similar or have been through infertility (meaning you know what a “RE” or “IUI/IVF” are), please feel free to reach out.  I would love to connect with friends who have been on a similar journey.

Thanks for hanging in there and reading this very long post!