Guest blog by Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo, a freelance writer, public speaker, infertility/women’s rights advocate, former stand-up comic, author of the blog, ‘The 2 Week Wait’, and proud IVF Mom.
My infertility blog changed my life. No really, that’s not an exaggeration. It changed almost every aspect of my life. I began my blog in March 2010, right as we were beginning our first IVF cycle. I had already gone through timed cycles, three rounds of inseminations and now, we were pulling out the “big guns”. In this case, the big guns were needles. I remember that up until this point, I kept thinking, “It’s not going to come to IVF… it won’t come to that.” Like IVF was the worst possible thing that could happen.
When the doctor finally sat me down and said, “I think we should move on to in vitro fertilization.”, I was shocked. When he explained to me the process, I was even more shocked. I genuinely had no idea how they retrieved the eggs. I sincerely thought it was through the stomach. When they said they stuck a needle IN your vagina, I thought he was teasing. IVF doesn’t need a metaphor. It’s as bad as someone sticking needles in your va-jay-jay. Who would pay to do that? Clearly people desperate to have children. That’s who.
As I processed everything, I quickly assessed I had the three h’s: Humor, hormones and horror. I needed to take that and find an outlet. That’s when I signed up for Blogspot and began writing my blog, The 2 Week Wait and I shared everything: The hope of the first IVF cycle, the disappointment of it failing, the fear of no more insurance coverage, the effort to get into a clinical trial, the fun of injecting myself with a mystery hormone, the end of my now second failed IVF cycle, the unexpected uterine polyp, the second opinion, the third opinion, the pre-retrieval bikini waxes, the painful conversations with my husband, the secret fears, the ups, the downs and saving up for my now third IVF. One of the most amazing things of all is how many readers of my blog donated medication their medication to me for my final IVF as I was depleted of all coverage and finances at that point. Eventually, I was able to share on my blog that my final IVF was the one that was successful.
I say my blog changed my life though NOT because I ended up having a son. And yes, it’s true that I ended up changing my career because of my blog. I also ended up become a fierce infertility and women’s health advocate through connections I made through the blog AND I ended up meeting people who I never would have met without it. I couldn’t be more grateful for all the above. More than anything though, my blog and writing in general HAS KEPT ME SANE and that was a game changer for me when I needed it the most.
The blog became my safe space to just write what was in my head and get it out on paper (well, virtual paper but still). It was online so yes, it was more of a public safe place, but those who read it were mostly others like me. They could relate and would offer tremendous support and understanding on a level like no others. There were also a few “fertile folk” who came by who were empathetic and lovely which was kind of adorable too. I remember on my last cycle, I received an email from an office of women who said they had been following along and were rooting for me which was adorable. It warms my heart to think of my infertility diary being talked about by a bunch of administrative professionals around the water cooler. Still, whoever read it or not, I was writing mostly for me to cope with the many overwhelming thoughts and fears in my head. I honestly think writing kept my brain from exploding with worry overload.
When you’re trying to conceive, or going through insemination or IVF or really, any stressful situation; any type of journaling, whether it’s blogging, a diary, public or private can help clarify what you’re experiencing. Especially when it comes to our unpredictable reproductive organs — it’s difficult to know how your next cycle will go or how or when your story will reach a resolution. To be able to write things down can help us process all the complicated emotions we’re feeling. We can try to create a strategy to whatever we’re dealing with in that moment or set goals to getting through that day, week, etc. or do things like make a list of ways we can practice self-care, write a fun top ten list of ways hormone shots suck just to make us laugh or write how we’re going to get through our friend’s baby shower. It may not even have to make sense. We can just write and write and write stream of consciousness to potentially at the end of it, translate our deepest fears even to ourselves. Or we may look at it and be like, “Whoa. I’m glad I wrote that out so I can go focus on something else for a while!”
Let me put it to you this way: Have you ever spoken to a good friend about a situation and as you’re saying something, you have a realization about the topic AS you’re saying it? Journaling can have that same effect. All of those rollercoasters of emotions that come from trying to have a family and it not going as planned, then throwing financial concerns about affording the treatment on top of it and mixing in hormones shots can create a whirlwind of thoughts, concerns, fears and worries. While meditating, exercising, therapy and/or punching a bag can all help, writing it out can too (plus, writing is free). It’s like talking to that good friend… but YOU are the friend.
What’s nice is you have options. You can create a blog and connect with others who relate to whatever your story is (trust me, someone out there CAN relate) or you can buy a pen and fancy diary and start writing out your own private diary at home. You can type it out in a private Word document or share it with a friend you trust through a Google document. The goal is doing what you feel comfortable with in a way that helps you take those thoughts out of your head and on to either real or online paper.
As for me, I continue to blog/write. While my journey has reached a resolution, aside from the fact that it continues to keep me (mostly) sane, infertility is still an issue many need support and education on. I do believe journaling, writing, sharing our stories (even if it’s just educating one person, relative, friend) IS mightier than the sword as it raises awareness. So, whether it’s an article on Circle + Bloom or in our personal notebooks, let’s pick up our pens and write. You never know where it may lead!
Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo is a freelance writer, public speaker, infertility/women’s rights advocate, former stand-up comic, author of the blog, ‘The 2 Week Wait’, and proud IVF Mom. Her articles have been featured on the Huffington Post, ScaryMommy, Time Magazine, Pregnantish (to name just a few) and as an infertility subject matter expert, she has been interviewed on news outlets such as CNN, NPR and BBC where she has demonstrated her ability to make even reproductive issues fun and educational. She also volunteers for various organizations including the Alliance for Fertility Preservation, Resolve, the National Infertility Association, March of Dimes and Gilda’s Club. You can follow her on Twitter at @the2weekwait or on Instagram at @jennjaypal.