The Daily News

LFCA Latest Issue: Friday, September 25, 2009.

Latest Post on BlogHer: Parenting after Infertility.

My Status: Fed Josh's almonds to the squirrels. They needed them very badly.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

More from Friday

It's hard to update here because the Internet connections are terrible. Major fail, Sheraton. And I apologize for any type-os because it is loud and crazy and chaotic here and I'm finding myself becoming fried as the conference continues.

So I left off at last night. After lunch and the Op-Ed session (I still have to upload my notes from that), I went upstairs and got dressed because…I had to be ready for the keynote. You’ll see what I read below, but the night before I flew to Chicago, I decided to wear part of the costume. The bottom part.

So I grabbed the boots, grabbed a pair of stockings, and then went looking for the bottom part of the outfit which was the black garter contraption. I took apart three drawers, took the drawers out of the dresser to check if it had fallen over the back of a drawer, and finally found them in a random bag in my closet. Five years since I last wore them.

Eden Kennedy introducing the Community Keynote

Speaking at the podium

My head, huge on the television screen

Showing some garter action

The Community Keynote group

I read my piece at the community keynote and that video will be available soon online. You can read the edited version of the post below. And then we went to the cocktail party and met all these cool bloggers and even got a seated massage.

Cecily and Dana

Me and Ask Moxie

I swung through some parties and I have to admit this—last year, I grabbed no swag. I didn’t even venture really into the Expo Hall and I turned down bags when they were offered. And this year, I started down this road and now (Io as my witness this morning), I have become a maniac. I went back to one place and got three versions of the same toy for Baby Fred. I took freakin’ Mary Kay make-up—I don’t even wear make-up. So I waited in line last night and got some bags of stuff (a tiara, which the ChickieNob is excited to wear). And then I got to the real stuff.

I got to meet Mommy Wants Vodka, Apron Strings for Emily, and Who Shot My Stork! Aunt Becky had to leave, but Emily and Io and I went out for dinner/dessert. It was such an amazing time. First of all, they’re hysterically funny. And I cried meeting Io (I got to meet Emily at lunch so I got all my tears over then). I mean, she’s Io! And she’s wonderful. And we had a great time.

Emily, Me, Io, and Becky

I got back to the hotel and collapsed and woke up early to have breakfast and I met Dave Lieberman in the hallway and had my picture taken with him. Io found me and we walked around the Expo Hall, taking more swag. And then dropped it off and went to a session that I thought would be about something else, but gave me more ideas along the line of group Kirtsying to get our posts into the general community. Give me a few days to gather my thoughts on it and get it going in mid-August.

Me and Dave

Lookey here, I'm signing my book this afternoon

But here is what I read for the community keynote...

The Community Keynote Piece:

Loss is inherent in infertility--the negative beta at the end of the cycle, diminishing hope, forgoing opportunities. Mixed in with the loss is the physical pain and the emotional embarrassment. The financial holes and constant anxiety. And, of course, shwanking off in public.

When my husband, Josh, would complain about the donation rooms, I would lift up my shirt to show him my bruised belly. How could he ever compare rubbing one out with nightly injections?

And then I took a field trip to the donation rooms and listened to the nurses discussing the viscosity of a semen sample on the other side of the thin wall and I had a newfound appreciation for my husband's prowess to zone in on an image of breasts (always my own, always my own) and get the job done despite the andrologist crooning "Careless Whisper" in his office, three feet away.

On the morning of our first IUI, we drove to the clinic, bleary-eyed from lack of coffee and somewhat anxious to see if this next step would work. When he was called back to the room, he seemed a little surprised that I was coming with him.

"I think you wait here," he said.

"I'm coming back for moral support," I said to the nurse. "If that's okay."

"Fine," the squat, German woman barked. She paused outside of tiny room that contained a barcalounger, magazine rack, television set, and a sink counter containing a sealed collection vial.

She looked at me suspiciously and reminded me three times in quick succession that in order for it to be a clean specimen, I could not use my mouth.

"I will not use my mouth," I promised. "I'll be very quiet. I won't touch anything. I'll just read one of the magazines."

"No mouth," she repeated a final time, picking up the sealed donation vial and slamming it down on the counter as a final reminder of her wrath should my lips creep close to anything that is currently under her domain.

And this is what babymaking at the clinic is like. Someone else is conducting your intimacy and someone else is setting the time. And frankly, someone else is doing the job. It can be sobering, stilling to think about how much this process is out of your hands, the wonder removed, the love vacuumed out of it in the quest for a clean specimen. But that was why I was there. I was taking back the porn.

"I don't know if I can perform if you're going to be watching," my husband admitted.

"Oh, I'm not going to be watching," I said.

And that is when I stripped off the oversized grey sweatshirt and wide-legged jeans to reveal a black merry widow-like contraption with garters and thigh-high black stockings peeking out over knee-high boots. I unhooked my barrette and let my hair tumble down past my shoulders. "I'm Hilde," I breathed.

"Hilde?" my husband asked unsteadily. "Like your great uncle's girlfriend?"

Which wasn't the reaction I had been hoping for. I had sort of assumed that the outfit would cause immediate schwangage--that he'd have to dive for the collection cup in slow motion to catch the stream of semen shooting out just from the mere site of his wife parading in front of him in material that was black and shimmery and see-through.

"I'm Hilde," I said, shaking my ass a bit in his face as I leaned over to check out the porn in the magazine rack. I should have gone for the slow reveal. "Perhaps we should get to know each other," I murmured, trying to look at him through my lashes without getting a headache. "I have a lot of secrets."

"Really, Hilde? Secrets," Josh said, not really making any motions that would get us out of this room.

"Lots of secrets," I moaned. "Here's the first one. Why don't you just get your donation vial ready and we can begin."

"Mel," he said gently. "I think you're beautiful in that. Hot. I wish you'd actually wear something like that at home. But...I love you. I want to make this baby with you."

For him, it wasn't about what was lost. It wasn't about everything that came before or even this moment itself. It was about looking forward, thinking about what we were creating together. It didn't matter if it took place at home or in an office or in the single-stall Starbucks bathroom--the end result would be the same. Parenthood. A child.

That is how we tuned out the conversation happening on the other side of that door; the whore and the madonna, sitting on the floor, holding his knees just so I could feel connected in some way to the experience. My eyes averted, a quiet connection, a return to the continuous mantra chanted by the heart, "could this be our chance could this be our chance couldthisbeourchance".

All to the tune of "Careless Whisper."


Dora said...

What a hilarious and touching post.

Beautiful Mess said...

If I heard you tell this story, I know I wouldn't be able to hold back the tears. I'm barely holding them back right now! it's a beautiful/touching story.

Mrs. Gamgee said...

Ok, so I'm sitting here on the couch with my Beloved, catching up on all your BlogHer excitment, and I get to your speech. I think to myself, "Yay! Mel included her speech" (I know, the simplest things excite small minds)... so I'm reading and chuckling to myself, distracting my Beloved from his football game. I'm reading, I'm chuckling, and then I'm bawling. Thank you for sharing your journey with us, Mel.

Lorza said...

Oh Mel. You are awesome. Who else can make us laugh, groan, cry and smile all in the span of one post. Well said..p.s. I LOVE garter shot.

too cute!

Carrie said...

Very honest, moving and funny. I have no doubt that everyone there was touched by it and could relate on some level. I tried to talk to my DH about it and he REALLY couldn't even have me involved at all. What a strange and wondrous process some of us go through to conceive.

Grab some more swag!!

loribeth said...

Now I know why you packed the Hilde boots. : ) I can't believe you told that story at Blog Her!! Would have LOVED to be in the audience to see/hear the reaction!!

And I am so jealous you got to have lunch with Emily, Io and Becky. Love reading all their blogs!

Kymberli said...

I remember when you posted this story the first time here on Stirrup Queens. I loved it then, and I love it even more now that you've used it for your community keynote speech. LOVE the picture of you in your garters!

Anonymous said...

heehee- that story reminds me of my husband's first "date" with the collection cup. We were very fortunate that it was just for analysis- and we were able to "collect" at home.... I can't for the life of me imagine having to do it in the office- hearing all the background noise.

Your husband is brave and wonderful- and I'm glad you shared this story with us!!

Tash said...

You rock Mel. You just Rock.

If you run out of huggin', give some to people from me, woulda?

angie said...

Is it okay that I both laughed and cried at this post? Wishing i could have heard you tell this story.

E said...

Awesome post and it could not have come at a better time as my husband and I are preparing for IUI.

'Murgdan' said...

I remember reading this when you posted it originally. I love that you used this, it sums up the entire story of infertility in just a few paragraphs.


Lavender Luz said...

This would have made the entire conference for me.

Only with the Hilde boots, though.

Anonymous said...

Love. It.

Love. You.

calliope said...

I remember when you first posted this and I still have the same reaction: laughing and then crying. It still gets me and I am so glad you read it.

And SOOOOO excited that you got to met so many awesome people!!!

Seriously proud of you, sweetie.
(& go you for getting some swag! It's what conferences are FOR. I am growing weary of reading posts all anti-swag. Do these people not get excited at free melons at whole foods?!! um. I do. SWAG!!!)

K said...

Beautiful speech. ♥

Mic said...

I don't think I had the privilege of reading this when you first posted. However, it's beautiful (and funny) and it is a wonderful representation of what IF is.
On the eve of our own IUI collection experience I find it particularly relevant :)
Thanks for sharing your speech.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting such a touching story. My DH loves to tell his 'collection room' story - only everyone that is aware of our journey has already heard it. He'll appreciate this too.

Kristin said...

Oh how wonderful. You are such a brilliant spokeswoman for this community.

Bea said...

I've read that before, and it's good enough to read again (and possibly again in the future - just so you know). Very touching, and also quite funny.


Panamahat said...

Another reason that I feel good about nominating you for a blogging award! Go here to check it out:

LJ said...

You really are amazing. And even if you have the giant head of Mel (Like The Giant Head of Brian Williams on The Daily Show) you aren't butt...too much ;)

Kathy said...

I too remember you sharing this story on your blog before and reading/being touched by it then. So cool you shared it (complete with part of your costume) for your keynote! Glad you are having such a great time at Blogher and having fun collecting swag! It was so great to meet you on Friday! Safe travels home. (((HUGS)))

Chickenpig said...

When we conceived the twins my husband was actually bumped from the wanky room to my RE's office. I wish I could have been there to give support, to at least be in the same room with him, but I was being prepped for egg retrieval. I have often thought looking at my children that they were conceived without us even being in the same room...but at least they are here. Thanks for this moving post.

Paz said...

I love this story. When I read it when you originally posted it, I was roaring, so funny, so moving.

(I live so close to the RE's that I could bring the sample from home. Um, no one ever told me no mouth. I mean, I thought that is what to do, you know make it happen. Geez. Well, it worked for us anyway...right up until the mc.)

love the garter. Did you get roarin' laughter from your talk, standing ovation? Can't wait to see it when posted.

luna said...

I love this story -- full of joy and humor, and so telling. it makes me laugh and cry each time.

Clare said...

Amazing speech! Very moving too. We had our own drama at the donation clinic but opposite from what you had, the nurse wanted me to go in with my hubbie - as it is unseemly in this society for a man to do the ol knuckle shuffle.

KS said...

What a great depiction of how it really is! I laughed, I cried, I connected with your experience. I've been there! Thank you for voicing (so well) what we all go through!

Jennifer said...

Awesome post!!

Dana said...

It was so, SO good to see you this weekend. And your keynote piece was fantastic. Especially the garter flash. LOVE it.

Amy said...

I hope you enjoyed my hometown.

I loved your story - funny, touching, and realistic.

areyoukiddingme said...

Wonderful! I bet you rocked the house...

jodifur said...

I thought your keynote was lovely.

And I still totally think we went to high school together.

Or something.

Karen MEG said...

Boots and garter were totally hot.

And your post touched me like none of the others did. They were all brilliant, but yours shone that extra bit for me. For me, your reading was one of the highlights of BlogHer.

Thank you, and I'm so glad that I got a chance to meet you!

Gemini Girl said...

Hi Melissa,

It was wonderful meeting you after your keynote speech on friday. You did an amazing job describing what us IF's feel.

I will be tagging that photo of us on facebook to show eden!

IdleMindOfBeth said...

Thank you for sharing this with us again, and for sharing it with a much, much larger audience outside of our little community. It's so touching, and so... REAL

please, PLEASE do a post letting us know what - if any - reactions you got!

Magpie said...

Such a great post, and your delivery was perfect.

Kami's Khlopchyk said...

I love this! You are a your aunt! HA! Wish I could have been there to hear you live in person. Maybe next year.

Also priceless that you wore the outfit under, great touch!

Kami's Khlopchyk said...

Oh and I meant at BlogHer...not, you know. I am not a creepy stalker, I swear. I just came from Karen Meg's post. Honest!

Xbox4NappyRash said...

Wonderful post.

Good for you!

Piccinigirl said...

I remember reading that post the first time and reading it again...well that's why you're you..AMAZING.

no one can make me feel so many emotions in one post. But that's why I love you.

Flying Monkeys said...

I think I've read this before, could I have? It's wonderful to read it again because it's so...on.

Your garter picture is sassy!

Joanne said...

All I could think when reading this - and imagining you giving this as a speech - is how brave you are. I am in awe! Thank you for sharing, Mel.

Io said...

Somebody just came and commented on my blog that after seeing my pictures on your blog they were amazed at how INCREDIBLY TALL I am.
I wonder if I should tell her that you guys are all just very very short? Or should I tell people that I am in fact 6'5"?