What’s My Lucky Number?

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What’s my lucky number? I wondered as I walked in the Hospital For Special Surgery for procedure number 27.

I was greeted like I had walked into the fictional bar “Cheers.” Nurses and doctors shouted my name as I made my way to curtain number four. Waiting for me there were gown, cap, grippy socks and a chance at greater pain relief.

The only downside to my homecoming were repeated requests for me to take a pregnancy test. Three times I nicely replied that a wasn’t necessary. The fourth time I choked back tears and said I can’t get pregnant. It hasn’t been possible for me; that’s when the nurses finally got it.

During my hour long wait, I swallowed Ativan. It calmed my fears about the torture I was going to endure while strapped to a table with my face in a hole and my naked butt and back exposed to a room full of people, many who don’t ever introduce themselves.

When I stepped into the operating room, my mind was quiet. I prayed and focused on what was waiting for me when the procedure was over like possibly walking longer without my cane, dancing and slipping on a pair of high heels for the first time in three years. The sight of radiation suits on the doctors and nurses, cold rush from the iodine cleaning my back, burning from the lidocaine coating my nerves and the turns of the table to provide better fluoroscope/X-Ray images didn’t take me out of the meditative state I’d achieved.

Before I knew it I was in recovery dealing with an allergic reaction, weakness and tingling in my leg and foot, and soreness in my lower back. But, I was determined to go home to start healing. So I took Benadryl, waited an hour and walked out of the building using my cane with my mother hopefully that my future steps will be easier and less painful.

#spoonies #backpain #chronicpain #chronicillness #autoimmunedisease #invisibleillness #hss #igg4 #infertility #meditation

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How Do I Face My Greatest Fear? Being Childless

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“You’re running out of time,” said my OB/GYN following my latest exam. Does she think I don’t know my own age? I wondered.

“The last time we talked, we discussed that this is the best time for you to get pregnant,” she continued. “So what’s going on?”

It took me a moment to process the gravity of what my doctor was saying. I felt my stomach drop and tears begin to form as I thought about how my greatest dream was slipping away. I’ve always wanted kids. In fact, I can’t imagine my life without any. Yet, time is passing by and I’m not closer to motherhood.

I cleared my head and responded, “I understand. At this point, I may have to proceed on my own.”

“Well, I hope that’s not the case. In the meantime, I think you need to talk to a high risk doctor about your autoimmune condition to see how it would affect you during a pregnancy. Right now, your blood work looks good, you’re at a great weight and your exam was perfect. However, I’ve never had a patient like you. Do you know of anyone else with IGG4-RD that’s had a baby?”

“No and neither has my rheumatologist. All I know is my body overreacts to any virus, incision or changes of any sort. It might not be kind to a fetus. Combined with my PCOS, bringing a child to term won’t be easy.”

“Ever consider a surrogate?”

I want to see and feel my child growing just like other women, I thought. But, I replied, “I don’t know that I could afford that.”

“A lot of people have success with crowdfunding. I think you have a unique story that would resonate.”

“I’ll think about it,” I muttered. But, I thought, I don’t want to beg people to support me. No matter how large my medical bills have gotten over the years, I’ve always tried to pay them myself. I can’t expect strangers to care about my struggles.

I slowly got dressed and contemplated the reality that I may never have children of my own.

I thought, I never imagined surviving all of my medical struggles to end up without a family; with no one to love or care for me as I age. I paid hundreds of thousands of dollars  to survive surgeries, procedures or a lymphoma scare because I thought the best years of my life were yet to come. But, now I have to face the fact that with every passing day I get closer to having to face my greatest fear that I will be childless; that the future I envisioned will not come to fruition.

How am I going to face this? I wondered.  I suppose like every other obstacle in my life: think, plan, pray and never give up. 

 

 

 

Am I Too Poor To Be A Mom?

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There is an ever present ache in my heart that can’t be filled by being an aunt or a god mother. I thought caring for someone else’s child, getting to guide them as they grow up, would stop me for yearning for my own children. But, it hasn’t.


I’ve been told since my early twenties that motherhood wouldn’t come easy to me. One glimmer of hope, in college, made me think that perhaps the doctor was wrong. Yet, years then decades passed and I discovered it was me that was wrong. I soon learned the hemorrhagic and ovarian cysts that had caused me to nearly bleed to death on several occasions were caused by PCOS, polycystic ovary syndrome; this condition was likely the reason I had not become a mother.


When I learned more about my problem, I immediately sought treatment. I went to an endocrinologist and started taking drugs to regulate my cycle. I thought it would just be a matter of time before there was a bundle of joy in my arms. But, my partner, at the time decided he didn’t want children. So I waited and waited, choosing not to force someone I loved to become a parent if they didn’t want to be.


For a while, thoughts of having a child faded to the background while my journalism and writing careers became a priority. But, every baby shower I attended, child I saw in the grocery store or visit with my god child or nephew brought the desire to be a mother flooding back. Eventually, I made my feelings known to my boyfriend and he made it clear that I, and my wishes, we’re not a good fit for him.


Years went by and before I knew it I was over forty. Ironically, ever person I dated, including the one who claimed he didn’t want kids, went on to have children. Meantime, my infertility problems had reached a critical stage. I soon discovered that I may not be able to become a mom because my age and my condition made unlikely. The only chance I had was taking extreme measures to get pregnant and I can’t afford them.


I went to a fertility doctor and tried the minimally invasive things and medications covered by insurance, however, those didn’t work. I downloaded an app to track my cycle, bought ovulation kits, took my temperature and turned being intimate into a chore rather than a joy. Still nothing happened. So, I looked into IUI and IVF but both procedures are only partially paid for through my insurance; that means somehow I’d have to scrap together hundreds to try either of these methods. Add to that the cap my plan has on expenses and it became clear that I would quickly run out financial help. It wouldn’t be long before I’d be buried under thousands in debt. And, there is no guarantee these processes would even work.


I considered my best option to have a child would be to get a surrogate. Yet, I asked but no one I know was willing or able to carry my baby. Even if I had found someone, the cost of using a surrogate is not covered by insurance. I began to panic, wondering how or if I could ever come up with the tens of thousands of dollars needed to have a baby? Then, I saw the announcement that a surrogate helped Tyra Banks become a mother and IVF helped Chrissy Teigen and John Legend get pregnant; it gave me hope that having a bundle of joy despite infertility obstacles is possible. My joy was short-lived. It hit. Those people have the financial resources to try everything that I can’t so maybe, the reality is I’m too poor to become a mom. I pray I’m wrong.


Originally published in the Huffington Post on 3/7/2016: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nika-c-beamon/am-i-too-poor-to-become-a_b_9400576.html

Coping With the Monthly Reminder that I’m Not a Mom

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Cramping, bloating, a craving for salt and excessive fatigue let me know a week in advance that, once again, I’ve failed to become a mother. I try to ignore those symptoms, often hoping against all odds that they’re early signs of pregnancy. My denial wanes as I watch the countdown on my fertility app, telling me my cycle should start in just a few days.

Still, that moment when I look down and see the pale red stains on my toilet tissue, I convince myself it is just implantation blood. But within hours, it becomes clear that that’s not true; that’s when I burst into tears. Usually, I place one hand over my mouth as I cry silently in the bathroom for a few minutes. Sometimes, I stop and pray, then question why God won’t allow me to become a mom. I whisper, Have I not suffered enough? You saddled me with an autoimmune disease and PCOS — am I supposed to take this, too?

On days when I have to go to work, I strip down, hop in the shower and try to hide my tears with the beating of the water from the shower. I often scrub my body free from any trace of blood. When I finally feel satisfied that I’m cleansed of negative thoughts and traces of my failure, I get out of the tub and get dressed like it’s any other day.

Yet, over the course of the day, my disappointment grows. By 7:30, when I get home at night, all I can do is hug myself and try to sleep so the next day comes soon, hastening the end of my nightmare.

If my cycle starts on the weekend, I climb right back into bed after I clean myself up. I just lie flat on my back, staring at the ceiling, as warm, moist tears stream off the side of my face and onto my satin pillowcase. My thoughts always go to what I could’ve done differently — if I should’ve taken more vitamins, watched my temperature more closely, if my app is wrong. Overwhelmed, I shut my eyes, trying to imagine the day I will wake up to a positive test.

Two days into my emotional hell, anger sets in. Sometimes I push on my stomach, trying to push the blood out. Every once in a while, I pound on my gut and scream. Mostly, I rub my midsection and pray that God will take pity on me and allow me to do what seems so easy for most women — that is, give birth to a child.

Day four, as very little evidence remains of my inadequate reproductive system, I program the dates of my cycle into my app so it can begin a countdown to the next ovulation and fertility period. I talk myself out of giving up by reminding myself why having a child is so important to me: sharing love, my life and helping shape the future of someone. When I’m done, I’m ready to book another appointment with a fertility specialist. Then, I talk to the one friend I have who I know is going through a similar struggle; we commiserate about our pain. Somehow, only this heart-to-heart makes me feel less alone.

*** Article originally published in the Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nika-c-beamon/coping-with-the-monthly-reminder-that-im-not-a-mom_b_8538668.html

New Huffpost Blog Post: Why I Won’t Give Up Trying to Conceive

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The sight of chubby little cheeks, toes and tummies always stir up my maternal instinct. I’ve often thought I’d be fine if I never marry but not if I don’t have a baby. Yet, doctors have told me, since my mid-twenties that my PCOS and autoimmune condition, may make it impossible for me to give birth to a child.

I almost proved them wrong once. I was pregnant for almost five months right before my 20th birthday. But, my body let go of the child.  The devastation of that day still haunts me. In fact, I frequently think about how old my son or daughter would be now. Every time that thought crossed my mind, I sink into a depression and wonder: why can’t I do something so basic as to have a child? How can I get rid of my yearning for a child so the pain will stop? Thankfully, as the years have gone I worry less about the answers to questions and focus more on desire to be a mother.

To reads the rest of the article, click on the link below:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nika-c-beamon/baby-maybe_b_8215406.html

About the author:

Nika C. Beamon is a journalist working in New York.  She is the author of the memoir, Misdiagnosed: The Search for Dr. House, about her 17 year journey to find the right medical diagnosis while balancing a relationship and career.

In 2009, Chicago Review Press published her first non-fiction book, I Didn’t Work This Hard Just to Get Married.  She is also the author of two mystery novels, Dark Recesses and Eyewitness.

#infertility #autoimmune #women #health #motherhood @ChrissyTeigen @TyraBanks #fablifeshow