Since I can remember I have loved dogs — all shapes, sizes, genders — any canine with a cold wet nose, warm heart and pleading eyes speaks to my spirit in a way that few humans can. In my childhood home we always had a dog or two lying about, usually on my bed at night, tucked into my belly, my arms looped around its neck. Despite my face being bitten by a Husky that took umbrage at my 3-year-old self poking my finger into its ear canal, I have been smitten with all things dog-esque. As soon as I could afford a dog after college, I got a Samoyed who loved to run away, then watch me race after her. She, smiling, always loping ahead a few hundred feet; me, panting and swearing my way toward her. And so it has continued the last 23 years. A bone-shaped sign hangs in my office that reads, “The dog hair is free,” as most days I wander around with a patina of dog hair stuck on my clothes.
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Fertility Chick Chat
The fertility journey does not have to be spent isolated and lonely. This blog is intended to support fertility patients and the people they love with factual, upbeat information — pulled from relevant medical articles, the many thousands of fertility patient interactions I have had over the years (anonymously presented), and bits and pieces of my own very long, circuitous road to parenthood.
It is an honor to be a blogger for FertilityAuthority, as well as to be included in the vast sisterhood of those affected by infertility.
Traci Shahan, RN, CNS, WHNP-BC, Doctor of Nursing, is a women’s health nurse practitioner at Albrecht Women’s Care in Englewood, Colorado. Dr. Shahan graduated from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. She enjoys working with women of all ages. Her subspecialty is reproductive endocrinology.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.
I'm unable to ignore the gift that God gave me, so I'm going to sing.
—Lisa Nicole Larsen
As I pen these words, I do so in my living room, tucked away in a window seat that is swaddled in heavy folds of taupe, silk drapes. This haven of mine is a few steps from the commotion of the family room and kitchen, but with my noise-canceling headphones, it would take a seven on the Richter Scale to get my attention, despite that my almost-15-year-old twin daughters, conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF), are currently trying their hands with some concoction that includes fondant. I can only imagine the mess — flour trails here and there, sugary utensils on the cabinet, measuring cups cast asunder. It is a lazy Sunday afternoon in the Colorado foothills where I live. One of my Labs lies near, her toes twitching as she dreams her doggy dreams. I smell something sweet and yeasty wafting in from the kitchen. It snowed a bit last night, which made my trail run this morning fun and challenging. I sit in my seat. I write, today, about fertility and that we should not ignore our inner wisdom, our Inner Wise Woman. Had I, I certainly would not have become a mother, though it was a herky-jerky, scary, messy journey to get here.
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.
—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Last week after their embryo transfer, I sat with a patient whom we will call Letty and her husband whom we will call Sam. Letty was resting on the table, snuggled under a light blanket, before they would make the long drive back home. Letty’s eyes are the color of good dark chocolate; they hover in her face like twin full moons. Her hair is a mane of ebony and she is Mensa-smart, but I doubt that she has ever inquired about joining due to her modesty. Letty and Sam should start their own chapter of Mensa, knowing them as I do.
And your very flesh shall be a great poem.
– Walt Whitman
There has been a tragedy here today — it was revealed to me that I am parenting completely hormonal teenaged daughters. Even though Hannah and Taylor will turn 15 next month, I was virtually certain that I had escaped most of the horrible dynamics typical of the age. Maybe, because of my epic struggle with fertility, which meted Sisyphean torture for years on end, a higher being was rewarding us with chill kids. Or maybe Hannah and Taylor had both been thoughtful, spiritually rich, eternally obliging and funny — essentially highly-evolved young women — in reciprocity for the good I have tried to seed in life. Maybe the cosmos had finally granted me a pass, that I would get off easy during their teenage years. No matter the cause, I always flexed my ego’s muscles when a mom or teacher would praise my twins’ kindness, patience and respect. Whew, I thought, there really is some merit in karma and the beatitudes. My loved ones and I paid a huge price upfront with fertility treatments and now I’m on cruise control. Parenting teenagers is actually a breeze.
That was yesterday.
As I write this, my family and I are in Vail, where the snow is wretched, but the convivial mood in town is celebratory and upbeat. The Vail valley is the kind of place where you can eat a leisurely breakfast, exchange names, handshakes and gossip with your laid back server, Greg, leave, then remember halfway down the valley that you got so engrossed in trading stories that you forgot to pay. After you turned around and went back and paid, Greg was nonplussed, wiping tables and said, "Don't worry, happens all the time. Everyone always comes back." I love this in my native state.
After breakfast, we ambled through the village and poked around the shops. There were families everywhere speaking various languages, dressed according to the norm of the country or region from which they hail. Although I've had a great time, this afternoon i took some much needed time by myself to sit with a sort of melancholy that had been creeping up on me. I decided to swim laps because being in the water helps me sort things out, as if the pristine pool settles my angst and helps me to discern better.