April 23, 2013

rainy with a chance of baby: my TEDxCoMo talk

Let's end the silent struggle.

"It's a surprisingly little known fact: 15% of couples are infertile, and 25-40% of detected pregnancies are miscarried. But no one talks about these things. Until now. In this talk, 3-time cancer survivor Kara DeFrias shares her story of love, loss, and the struggles that go along with trying to conceive a child. And how a positive attitude (and sometimes wildly inappropriate humor) got her through it all." - synopsis from TEDx YouTube channel


My original life to-do list sounded something like this: go to college, find a job, move out of New Jersey, get married, and have kids. I breezed through most of this  graduated from a well respected liberal arts college with a degree in English and theatre, found work as a training analyst, moved to San Diego, and married a guy I’d met on a plane.

The having kids part, though, never quite played out the way it does in movies, where, at the mere drop of a hat or quick sneeze, you get pregnant. I mean, let’s face it: as women, we spend our 20s praying we get our period, then we spend our 30s hoping we don’t.

March 3, 2013

signing off, but sticking around

I had cancer. It didn't have me. (Well, they haven't
found one that'll kill me yet.) Source.
As you may have noticed, postings have been more sparse than my barren uterus around here. That's because, while 2012 has been a huge year of changes for me (including a wonderfully fantastic opportunity to serve my country as a member of the first class of White House Presidential Innovation Fellows), there's no news on the baby front.

While kids are in my future, for now those 6 kidscicles are chilling on ice. I'm not closing the site down, because it still fulfills the original intent: to tell a story, so that others going through cancer, IVF, and surrogacy may stumble upon here and don't feel so alone, and to encourage women to feel like it's okay to talk about their struggles on the road to having kids.

Thanks to everyone who's commented, emailed, and shown support over the years. It's been very rewarding to hear from folks who feel like they can talk about their fertility struggles now. And it's not just women — one dad sent me a note saying he was inspired to start a support group for dads whose wives had miscarried.

Kicked cancer's ass 3 times and still
smiling. Take THAT, cancer!
Why I did this blog, and what I've experienced

Why we need to talk about infertility
More of my friends - and their friends - have not been able to conceive easily. The weird part is, I never knew about this until I shared my issues with PCOS with them. Why don't we, as women, talk about these things more? Is it because of shame? A stigma that we aren't supposed to talk about it? Well EFF that!

Rainy with a chance of baby
While I've been tackling the cancer and IVF procedure with humor and a positive attitude, in the past 8 weeks there have been a few occasions when the general suckiness of it all sets in for a moment. Today was one of those days.

Cancer 3 times and hysterectomy at 34? On gratitude
My original life to-do list: go to college, find a job, move out of New Jersey, get married, have kids. Oh, and travel. Lots. As you can see, a hysterectomy at 34 years old definitely wasn't included. And "get cancer - three times" didn't make the cut either, but apparently I'm extra blessed in that department.

Giving a TEDx talk on IVF and the struggles of conceiving
Given at TEDxCoMo 2013, I pretty much summed up the whole of this blog, and the message it's trying to convey, in 14 minutes.

Keep on keeping on

For those of you struggling out there, still trying, or exploring other options: May the odds be ever in your favor. (YES! Cheesy teen novel and surprisingly good movie adaptation FTW!)

Much love,
Kara xoxo

ps: Here's a pep talk, in case you need one, by the wonderfully awesome Kid President.

June 17, 2012

happy father's day!

To all those lucky men out there who are fathers and dads, may you have a spectacular father's day!

Here's my Dad and I sitting on the bridge at Cinderella's Castle on my first trip to Walt Disney World, circa 1977.

April 15, 2012

a different kind of custody battle: who gets the embryos in a divorce?

Petri dish, meet embryos. Photo: Source.
A little over 2 years ago, in January of 2010, I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. While the gynecological oncologist wanted to perform surgery right away, my immediate instinct was not to save myself, but to save my future kids. Fertility preservation, a term I'd never heard of until then, came into our lives. Fertility preservation is used mainly by cancer patients who, when faced chemo or another issue that will limit their fertility, freeze their sperm or eggs for future use.

Thankfully, through modern technology and low interest rates on three loans, IVF worked out as an option for us. I put off the hysterectomy two and half months in order to go though the IVF regimen of pokes and prods, drugs and intravaginal ultrasounds. Rather than just freeze my eggs, we decided to fertilize them with my husband's sperm. We ended up with 6 viable embryos, or kidscicles as I like to call them.

April 12, 2012

hysterectomy and cancer: a look back 2 years later

Photo: Michelle Zive.
Two years ago at right this very moment, the Big HMO gynecological oncologist was performing a full hysterectomy on me. I was 34 years young, and up until the second I went under, I thought hysterectomies only happened to old(er) women. Surely not to young women, ones who haven't had the chance to bear their own children yet.

A lot has happened in the past two years, and I learned so much about myself, and the life I want to live.

There are a lot of women like me out there going through this, too

But we don't talk about it, because it supposedly only happens to older women. Which is why this site exists and includes guest posts from people going through cancer battles. We absolutely should be talking about these things, and not just cancer, but miscarriages, fertility struggles, and other issues that are historically taboo. By talking about them, whether online or in person, we remove the stigma and create a system of support for each other.

April 3, 2012

new eff cancer tees available (a g-rated version, too!)

They're back! After a long hiatus and issues with Cafe Press (still never got my commission...but whatever...), you can now buy your "F*ck cancer" shirts once again.

I received feedback from friends who are mommies who wanted to support the cause but apparently can't run around wearing the word "f*ck" across their breasts all day.

So I thought about it and came up with the "Fuzzy caterpillar" concept. (My scar from the most recent cancer looked like a fuzzy caterpillar, and the first two letters of each word, f and c, correspond nicely with "F*ck cancer.")

So you're supporting the cause and spreading the word - when someone asks, "What's fuzzy caterpillar mean?" you can tell them!