April 24, 2011

meeting elizabeth banks and a simple "thank you"

Me with my new BFF Elizabeth Banks.
A few weeks ago I went to a San Diego Magazine "Taste of Hollywood" event at Ben Bridge Jewelers in UTC. Imagine my surprise upon arrival to see that the guest of honor on hand was none other than Elizabeth Banks.

While most of you know her from 30 Rock, Scrubs, and Zack and Miri Make a Porno, I admire her for one of her lesser known roles: a real-life, new mom who unapologetically used a surrogate to have her beautiful baby boy, Felix.

On her blog she writes, "I have been very fortunate in life both professionally and personally."

Speaking about infertility, she goes on to say, "The one true hurdle I've faced in life is that I have a broken belly. After years of trying to get pregnant, exploring the range of fertility treatments, all unsuccessful, our journey led us to gestational surrogacy: we make a "baby cake" and bake it in another woman's 'oven.'"

Banks chatting with reporters at the event.
Her framing and straightforward directness are a welcome, stark contrast to many women of a certain age and celebrity who aren't open about their fertility issues...which I discussed when Celine Dion spoke about her struggles.

I took this unexpected, happy opportunity to thank her in person. I told her how much I appreciated her openness about her surrogate and conceiving her child, and how much it meant to me.

She said, "Everybody's got their own journey to having a kid, and there's no wrong one."
I shared the short version of our story, and she immediately asked if I was okay now. I told her I was, and she said, "That's the most important thing."

Bonus silly pic, pre-iPhone steadiness.
As we begin National Infertility Awareness Week, I'm grateful for this platform to talk about these issues and raise awareness in my own community of friends and family. While there are 7.3 million women dealing with infertility, at times it's easy to feel alone.

With each kick ass woman like Elizabeth Banks who comes forward and shares their stories publicly, it makes the world of IVF, fertility, and infertility feels a little less small.

Now, on to the most pressing question: do you give paper or wood as a gift during this week? I always get confused on anniversary and celebratory gifts.

All photos mine.

April 12, 2011

hysterectomy: a look back 1 year later

Classy Gary Larson comic where the lady's carrying
the eggs, and the chicken's carrying a baby.
One year ago today, I was high as a kite on lovely, lovely Percocet. Lucid, to be sure, but definitely floating on a couple of clouds that may or may not been shaped like unicorns farting glitter.

One year ago, I went under the knife to cut out the cancer, and any chance I had of bearing my own children. Uterine cancer stole my womb, and I decided to have the doctor take out my ovaries while he was in there (might as well donate them so someone can get some good out of it).

Being spayed definitely wasn't on my to-do list for 2010, but life happens and I did my best to roll with the punches. So what's happened in the last 525,600 minutes?
  • I discovered just how strong my husband is. I often joke how I found the perfect man: he loves to cook, clean and do laundry. Truth be told, there's no way in hell I could've gotten through any of this without him. Back off ladies, he's taken. At least until I get a cancer that finally figures out how to kill me...then you can have him. I've told him when I'm gone he should definitely find a Sugar Momma.
  • We found a surrogate to carry our kidscicles, then lost her; then found another one, then lost her; then found our third one in the most unlikely of all places...but that's a story to be told on another day, for it's a gloriously wonderful one.
  • Turns out it wasn't enough to have cancer once in 2010: in December I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma on my left foot. (Insert My Left Foot jokes here...everyone else is.) That's the second time I've gotten that, for those of you playing along at home. I'm now in the 3-time cancer survivor club. (I think with this go-round I'm now VP of PR for the club.) My reaction when my dermatologist called was, as expected, profanity-lane. Good news is we got it all.

Happy picture drawn for me by a college pal's daughter.
Funny thing is (and oh, there are a lot of funny things about getting cancer, trust me) this experience has opened a lot of doors for me. I feel like there's a purpose to me getting the word out about fertility preservation.

This summer I'll be talking to girls in grades 7-12 about oncofertility at the San Diego Science Alliance BE WiSE Summer Academy then potentially speaking in front of the California State Assembly when they consider a law requiring health insurance companies to cover fertility preservation. (BigHMO, who I'm with, doesn't cover it, so we're up to our eyeballs in medical bill. You can read about the true cost of IVF, fertility preservation, and surrogate fees.)

Overall, it's been an interesting year, to say the least. I'm looking forward to this time next year (hopefully) being caught up in the excitement of expecting our first child.

In the meantime, I'm just going to continue to find the humor in all of this and make fun of friends who, unlike me, can't drink during pregnancy, and have to go through the pain of childbirth.

Suckas, get a surrogate!