Addicted to infertility? / Jody the chimpanzee

For the past couple of years, my reading and writing time has  been mostly spoken for. Not very often have I allowed myself to read or write something that doesn’t relate in some way to infertility. I have basically been on call for IF, like a paramedic. But in the past couple of days since we chose our donor and I ordered my medications, I have found myself increasingly drawn to the NYX and NPR, history and science and fiction. It’s not that I had cut those things out of my life entirely, but they certainly weren’t the first thing I would go to in my non-working hours.

Oh my god—I think I have been addicted to infertility! To your blogs, to my blog, to research and preparation and chat boards and forums. Infertility has become a giant part of my identity. Who was I before? What interested me? Why do I find it difficult to sustain interest in other topics?

Even now, as I am relaxing my grip a little and drifting to the NYX more often, I will hear the tiny voice of my blog calling out to me as I’m reading something otherworldly about gold being created by the collision of stars. Which is exactly why I am typing this to you now.

I’m fascinated by the play-by-play. It is all I’ve got, for now, and it is all I know.

But maybe it’s not just healthy fasciation. Maybe it’s also unhealthy clinging. Maybe it’s both or neither and just simply is.

Even though I’ve been reading the paper more often in recent days, it seems I usually end up clicking my way down a path to a story that includes at least something about reproduction. This happened last night, and I wound up knocked breathless by a story about a chimpanzee who was used in Hepatitis vaccine research, and whose purpose was to be a breeder—she had baby after baby throughout her life, but those babies were always taken from her within 24 hours and used in Hepatitis research. The image of what she looked like before she went to the animal sanctuary (where she was given the name Jody) haunts me.


At the sanctuary, a kind worker there, Jennifer Whitaker, connects with her (I have this desperate kind of silly urge to write to Ms. Whitaker and personally thank her) and cares for her. Jody definitely begins to look healthier, grows a shiny coat of black hair. But Jody also looks vacant. She wears in her movements and expressions a lifetime of trauma. I felt so grateful to Jody—she and all those babies she gave birth to helped us humans learn more about something that will protect our health. But oh! How perverse of us humans to do that to her! To take her babies away from her, year after year. Can you imagine? …

Right. Yes, we can. We can imagine all too well. I know it is not exactly the same, I know what she has gone through is worse, but after having felt hope for life growing in me and having that taken away many times now, I felt deep and personal empathy for her.

Ms. Whitaker says that at the sanctuary, Jody is nurturing with the other chimps. She finally gets the opportunity to be nurturing! She also says that Jody and the other chimpanzees, through their growth and changes, have taught her so much about forgiveness. The capacity to forgive after having been through so much.

I’ll write more on this later (have to get to work) but I wanted to at least begin to explore this…this way in which I always find myself in this territory…the circling back and back, the obsession, the feeling out the corners of my identity…

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  1. It does become obsession. I was telling my therapist last week, “You don’t even know me. You only know this warped little sliver of me because this monster problem has taken over my life.” Now that you’re on your way to a resolution, you have to figure out what you used to think about all the time, right? I get it. I feel like I don’t even recognize myself anymore.

    • Yes, that is it exactly—trying to remember, to re-inhabit my old skin, to think about what I used to think about! What was it??

      I’m looking at my collage pieces right now (I like to work in mixed media) and all I want to do is make “happy” art, not “real” art. I want to make something that will make me smile—I did not use to be this way, when it came to my art, at all. Art was not therapy, art was art. But I’ve been hurt so much, and am going through such a big-deal thing, I just want to soothe myself. This is just one example of how I’ve changed.

      Maybe that little sliver of you isn’t just warped but is also kind of awesome. After all, we’re now warriors of sorts. At least that’s how I like to look at it. (But this could just be me wanting to soothe myself again…)

  2. Oh my god, that chimpanzee is heartbreaking. And I don’t enjoy primates. I actually teared up thinking about her many losses and how they have affected her… And, yeah. I am completely unable to have a conversation without it veering into infertility. I read a book recently that is really good and has some great exercises for you and your husband/partner to do to navigate infertility, relationship intact (“Love and Infertility” by Kristen Magnacca). There was a section where they agreed to have one night a week where they did NOT discuss infertility. I realized I DON’T THINK I COULD DO THIS IF I TRIED. Like you, it is seeped into me and I have a really hard time seeing anything that is not through the lens of infertility. I’d like to try it, but it’s awfully hard when you’re kind of in the middle of things! I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing though to have this experience change the way you see things, read things, experience things. It’s not all good, though, either. I am excited for your next steps, excited that the Baby Train has left the station (paperwork in! first hurdles cleared!) and hopefully you can move on to experiencing pregnancy and parenting after infertility with this DE cycle. And, what is NYX? NPR is my friend (except when there is irresponsible reporting on egg-freezing that makes me want to throw things at my radio) but I don’t know this NYX you speak of!

    • Oh–I often abbreviate New York Times = NYX. (: I used to work in magazines and we sometimes did that (instead of NYT). Thank you for the book rec, yes! That looks helpful. And thank you for the congrats. I am looking forward to a time when IF tendrils aren’t woven through my brain matter like fast-growing ivy!

      • Ohhh, that makes sense. Clever, x=times. :) I don’t love all of the book, but I did some of the exercises with my husband and it was eye-opening and interesting, although I won’t go as far as to say “fun.” Worth a look…

  3. Jennifer Whitaker

     /  November 25, 2013

    I must thank YOU for sharing Jody’s story. Heartbreaking, indeed; however, I am so grateful that she has been given a second chance at life. It is through wonderful advocates such as you that we are able to continue to care for her and provide her with a safe and loving home. I would love to tell you about the other chimpanzees’ histories too. Feel free to contact me!

    • Oh my goodness, what a surprise! The wonders of the blogosphere, I actually get to fulfill my desire and personally thank you for being the kind, generous, loving human being that you are and connecting with Jody and the other chimpanzees, helping them with a happy ending! Your work is so important. I think a lot of my readers, women suffering from infertility and pregnancy loss, connected to Jody’s grief—and her beautiful resurrection. I’d love to hear more about the other chimps. Will contact you for sure. (I’m at


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  • About Me

    Me: 41
    DH: 38

    Fertility issue:
    Recurrent Pregnancy Loss
    6 pregnancy losses
    All early
    5 with my own eggs
    1 with donor egg

    Abnormal embryos

    Factor V Leiden heterozygous
    MTHFR heterozygous

    AFC: 2 - 12
    AMH: 0.2
    FSH: 6.8
    E2: 40
    LH: 2.8


    April 2011 -
    Natural conception, first try. Blighted ovum (gestational sac only). D&C to remove products of conception at 9 weeks.

    Oct 2011 -
    Natural conception, first try. Blighted ovum (gestational sac & yolk sac). Took Cytotec to induce miscarriage at 9 weeks. PTSD, depression, anxiety, insomnia, night terrors followed.

    Winter 2012 -
    Two rounds of Femara/Clomid + IUIs at Columbia and RS of NY. The idea: to produce more eggs and increase chances of catching a good one. BFNs.

    April 2012 -
    Natural conception, first try. Ultrasound showed activity in the uterus, but no complete sac. Diagnosed with "missed abortion." Natural miscarriage at 5 weeks.

    June 2012 -
    Conception after 7 mg Femara for 5 days + IUI. Diagnosed with chemical pregnancy. Natural miscarriage at 4.5 weeks.

    August 2012 -
    Natural conception, without trying. Chemical pregnancy and natural miscarriage at 5 weeks.

    October 2012 -
    ODWU at Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM).

    January 2013 -
    IVF with Dr. Schoolcraft.
    Straight Antagonist protocol

    What he predicted:
    I will produce 11 eggs
    Good chance 1 will be normal
    30% chance 2 will be normal
    Transfer 1, then a 45% chance of success
    Transfer 2, then a 65% chance of success

    What happened:
    7 follicles stimulated
    6 mature eggs retrieved
    2 died during ICSI
    4 fertilized
    3 out of 4 embryos CCS-tested
    All abnormal

    Aug/Sept 2013-
    Frozen Donor Egg IVF at Reproductive Biology Associates (RBA)
    What Dr. Shapiro predicted:
    6 or 7 will fertilize
    1 we will transfer
    1 - 3 we will freeze

    Protocol: Lupron, Vivelle patches, Crinone

    8 frozen eggs from donor thawed
    6 fertilized
    1 Day-5 Grade A XBbb blastocyst transferred
    1 Day-5 Grade A EBbb blastocyst frozen
    1 Day-6 Grade A XBbb blastocyst frozen

    September 13, 2013: Pregnant

    Prenatal vitamins & baby aspirin,
    Vivelle patches & Crinone

    Beta #1: 171
    Beta #2: 706
    Beta #3: 7,437

    6 w 3 d: measured 6 w 1 d
    FHR: 80 bpm
    Fetus did not grow
    7 w: FHR 121 bpm
    8 w: heart stopped
    9 w: D and C

    Test results: We lost a normal karyotype male for unexplained reasons

    Quit stressful job
    Anti-inflammation diet
    Gluten-free diet
    Vit D, DHA/EPA
    Therapy/energy work
    Creative Visualization
    Art Therapy

    March 14, 2014:
    Double FET at RBA
    1 Day-5 Grade A EBbb blastocyst
    1 Day-6 Grade A XBbb blastocyst

    March 24, 2014:

    Prenatals, baby aspirin, Folgard, Vivelle, Crinone, Lovenox

    Beta #1: 295
    Beta #2: 942
    Beta #3: 12,153

    1 fetus implanted

    Measured on track

    Fetal heart rate:
    7 wk: 127 bpm, 8wk:159 bpm, 9wk: 172 bpm

    Due date: Dec, 4 2014!

    NatureMade (USP Seal) Prenatals and 4000 Vit D3
    Baby aspirin
    40 mg Lovenox
    DHA and EPA
    Folgard 2.2

    Born: One perfect baby boy 12.4.14

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