National Adoption Month
November is National Adoption Month.
For today, I’ll start with my story about adoption.
Although I believe that my life and family ended up being just what they were supposed to be, one of the few profound, resounding regrets that I have is how I looked at adoption while I was in the midst of chaos of understanding infertility.
Common Adoption Fears
I’ve shared before on this blog about my fears about adoption but I’m going to do it again. These were the most common ones, the ones I was willing to admit:
- That I wouldn’t love the baby as much as I would had it been “mine”
- That my family wouldn’t accept the baby
- That the birthmother/father would take the baby away from me
- That my child wouldn’t truly love me as his/her mother
- That I would have to accept another family when my child grew up and searched for their “real” (biological) family
- That it would cost $100,000 and take three years to get a child
- That the mother had done awful things during the pregnancy and the child would be permanently damaged
- That the genetic background would be a nightmare in terms of disease
- That the baby would look nothing like me and we wouldn’t feel a connection with one another
- That I would still feel the hurt and pain from infertility
I’m going to ask a few of my fabulous adoption friends, professionals in the field and parents of adopted children to “debunk” the fears that I listed above. Or, if not debunk, then at least address. I’m fairly certain that I am neither the first nor the last person to have had those fears.
Looking back, seeing my list with new eyes, I see the common denominator.
This child wouldn’t truly be mine. I’d be a glorified babysitter until the child could grow up enough to find his/her real parents. Underneath everything else, my fears were based on lack of connection.
I see now that I underestimated myself. What I didn’t see then was my own strength and emotional depth. I didn’t recognize those things then.
I do now.
I am strong and resilient.
And infertility and fertility treatment forged those things into my very soul.
Adoption wasn’t a door that I felt I could open because of my perception of myself. That I wasn’t enough. Infertility and fertility treatment contributed to those feelings as well. That I was damaged. That I wasn’t able to do what women were created to do. That there was something wrong with me.
Infertility made me feel broken.
And ultimately, infertility made me feel whole.
Recognizing A Family Building Possibility
Let's talk more about adoption this month and year-round. It’s a family building possibility that could be an option for you.
You may not know that you are strong enough.
But I’ve met you. Every time I look in the mirror, I see a reflection back of you.
You’re strong enough, brave enough, and whole enough.
Thanks for reflecting those things back to me.
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The Winter Solstice and Finding Your Light
"There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it."
- Edith Wharton
Soon, we will experience the shortest day and the longest night -- the winter solstice.
More darkness than light.
A lot of us are afraid of the dark. Even those of us who don't admit it.
Being in the dark throws off our sense of balance. From time to time in Fertile Yoga class, we do balancing poses with our eyes closed. It is astonishing to people that coming onto their toes, raising their arms to the sky with their eyes closed is so challenging.
Being in the dark challenges all of our senses. Our eyes strain to see what they cannot see, our ears become more alert, our skin tingles with every change in the stream of air around us. Our sense of smell becomes more acute.
Our intiution also comes alive in the dark.
We hear, see, smell, and feel things that we could not see with the light shining in.
Darkness is not evil, nor bad, nor our enemy. Darkness is a place where we are invited to rest, to find quiet and stillness.
It's a place where our heart can open more calmly and more completely. We feel, rather than see. We can listen to our hearts because there is nothing distracting to look at with our eyes.
There are subtle shifts in our thinking when we sit quietly in darkness. When we deliberately close our eyes and look inside, we do not see darkness, we see ourselves.
We see the reflection of our truest self, which shines brightly.
Our heart reminds us of this as well.
After the darkest day, longest night, light comes back in.
Soon, the day will be longer, the night will be shorter.
Soon, we turn towards spring.
Winter solstice, welcome the darkness.
We will find a path together through the darkness.
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Often when patients come to the office for their first infertility visit
there is a lot of fear and apprehension. Some patients will even delay coming to see a reproductive endocrinologist
out of fear or anxiety. In talking to patients, it seems that this apprehension has two parts; the first is that we will find something terribly wrong with them, and the second is fear that they will have to endure a series of invasive procedures. These fears are normal; we all have a fear of the unknown, especially when it comes to our health.
There is good news, news that can help allay these fears. Almost all couples have a fertility diagnosis that is amenable to available treatments. In approximately 80% of new patients we will start with the simplest fertility treatment plan. In fact overall in our practice we do twice as many IUI (intrauterine insemination) cycles as IVF (in vitro fertilization) cycles. Very few patients need to utilize in-vitro fertilization as a first-line infertility treatment cycle.
Generally our first fertility treatment is utilizing clomid which involves taking a pill for 5 days, and having 2 ultrasounds with blood testing. Only one injection is needed to trigger ovulation, this is a small injection much like an insulin shot and is most often given in our office by a physician or nurse. In most cases we recommend an IUI in order to help increase the chance for a pregnancy to occur. This is a very simple fertility procedure with generally no more discomfort than a pap smear. It requires a ten minute office visit and patients are generally allowed to have normal activity that day.
If more extensive treatment is required, RMACT (Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut) has many resources to help you. Extensive teaching is provided to guide you through the infertility process, including medications and appointments. Every patient has a primary nurse to walk them through every step of the process. We also have resources to help deal with fear and anxiety, such as yoga, acupuncture, and professionally led support groups. You will never be left out on your own.
If you are experiencing fertility problems, take that first step on your family building journey and make an appointment with a Reproductive Endocrinologist. Remember the phrase, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained" can apply here. While fear and anxiety can make that first step of infertility treatment difficult, we are here to help you reach your ultimate gain; a family of your own.
Dr. Cynthia Murdock is a staff physician and a fertility specialist in Reproductive Medicine at RMA. She is board-certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.
Dr. Murdock earned a BA in biology at Cornell University and an MD at Creighton University School of Medicine where she graduated magna cum laude. She completed her residency at Creighton University Medical Center where she was named Berlex Best Teaching Resident. In 2003 she completed a fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the National Institutes of Health.
An experienced researcher, Dr. Murdock has contributed to numerous peer-reviewed studies and presented at several of the most prestigious conferences in the field of reproductive medicine. The focus of much of her research has been on estrogen receptors, hypothalamic neuron function, and precocious puberty.
Dr. Murdock is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, as well as a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Dr. Murdock was previously an assistant clinical professor at Creighton University School of Medicine and a staff physician with Reproductive Health Specialists at Nebraska Methodist Hospital. She has also served as an Assistant Professor of OB-GYN at the National Naval Medical Center and Walter Reed Army Medical Center.