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Looking back on my struggles with infertility, one of the biggest sore spots was not the infertility itself; rather, it was the crappy comments made by people whom meant well apparently missed the day in Kindergarten when we discussed being sensitive to others’ feelings. With that in mind I’ve compiled my top 10 things you should never say to someone trying to conceive or dealing with infertility. I should also mention all of these were said to me while struggling with infertility (some multiple times) and only 60% of my commentary below was stated to the person in response to their comments.

1.       “I wish I had that problem; my husband looks at me and suddenly I’m pregnant.“

 

Good for you. Hopefully that isn’t the issue with his mistress as well.

 

2.       “Just relax; you aren’t pregnant because you’re putting too much pressure on yourself.”

 

Too much pressure? I’m feeling more pressure dealing with your condescending BS than I am with infertility. Going to a spa isn’t going to cause me to get pregnant. Just relax and maybe you won’t be an idiot any longer; oh wait…

 

3.       “Why don’t you just adopt?” or “Once you adopt you’ll have a baby.”

 

Yes, because children up for adoption that have already gone through more then enough at their young age should be chosen as a substitute for a biological child. It’s also amazing that adopting someone else’s child will miraculously cause my husband’s sperm and my egg to finally work together in a way they haven’t been able to do for years. That must be one smart adopted baby—quick, get that kid a turban and a 900 number because they are psychic.

 

4.       “You need to be patient; if God wants you to have a baby, He’ll bless you with one” or the variation “Everything happens for a reason.”

 

You are absolutely right; there IS a reason why I’m going to slap you. Also, unless God called you personally and told you that He doesn’t want me to have babies shut it. Do you also tell people with cancer to be patient and that everything happens for a reason? I didn't think so. 

 

5.       “You need to try (insert crappy advice that doesn’t work any way and they learned via their cousin’s best friend’s pastor’s great-aunt).”

 

No, your great-grandmother was not right—putting an ice pack on your husband’s genitals, drinking cough syrup before sex or having sex during the daytime does not increase your chances of getting pregnant. It’s amazing how everyone has a totally effective idea but all the fertility doctors whom specialize in this field say it’s all crap.

 

6.       “You can have mine!”

 

I’m pretty sure I don’t want the child of someone who’s that insensitive—after all they are genetically pre-disposed to being like them. Pass on that one but thanks for being so incredibly ungrateful for something I’m dying to have more than anything in the world.

 

7.       “Well at least you don’t (insert bitter mom comment)…” or “Enjoy this time while you still have it.”

 

You’re absolutely right—I’d rather take a week vacation than have a child for life. Idiot.

 

8.       “I totally understand; it took me two months to get pregnant.”

 

I have to say this is one that hurt me more than any of the others. I spent years of my life, nights crying and pleading with God, lots of time spent being poked and prodded by doctors and money to try and get pregnant. But sure, your two months of trying is totally the same thing.

 

9.       “Are you pregnant yet?”

 

“Are you still an insensitive jerk face?” I’m sorry but when/if I get pregnant I don’t want you anywhere in a 30-mile radius of me or that child.

 

10.   “You just need to have more sex.”

 

You know, I’d never thought about having sex in order to get pregnant. I thought it involved everything else BUT sex. Thanks for the tip.

 

 

 

These comments were stated in a joking manner--please don't take them seriously.

Don’t get me wrong: I absolutely love Facebook. Especially living across the country from where I spent my entire childhood, Facebook has been fantastic for finding people that I never thought I’d ever hear from again didn’t need to hear from ever again. Here are a few tips on things you may want to avoid in order not to alienate your entire friends list or in some cases, get you into serious trouble:

1.       Posting photos of you doing something illegal. I couldn’t care less that you like to smoke weed with your friends in your dorm room, but it’s still a crime. Ask students from UW La Crosse, whom were cited for underage drinking after posting pictures of themselves at a party. If you want to do it I can’t stop you—but friends shouldn’t let friends do stupid crap and post it on Facebook.

 

2.       Writing on someone’s wall instead of privately. I really don’t need to know that you are so not friends with so-and-so anymore because they flirted with your boyfriend and borrowed your favorite shirt without ever giving it back. Seriously, if I wanted to watch idiots go at it I’d either turn on Jerry Springer or hangout at the only bar back in my hometown.

 

3.       Using your status update to fight/breakup/discuss how bad your life is/etc. Unfortunately, rather than just ringing someone on the phone and saying “I’m mad at you for….” I’ve noticed recently that people are using their statuses to post obscure posts about how someone “let them down” or “isn’t who they thought they were.” Leave the passive-aggressive behavior for people who’ve perfected it (such as myself). What happened to people being up front and honest instead of using a large-scale social network to get “back” at someone for deleting their DVR of “The X Factor?”

 

In the same vein, if you and your significant other break up you shouldn’t be allowed to login to Facebook for at least a month. When you post how much you love them and your life wouldn’t be the same without them and then exactly two days later you change your relationship status to “single” and post about how they are a loser and you are so much better without them, you look like a moron. How can I take someone seriously that apparently thinks they are in an episode of (insert title of basically any show on ABC Family or CW)? PS—there’s a 90% chance that two days later you’ll be posting again about how you are back together and can’t live without them. The only thing worse than reading this garbage on my newsfeed is then seeing music videos to songs like “All By Myself” popup afterwards and captioned as “your new theme song.”

  

4.       Over share. One of the biggest issues with Facebook. No, I don’t need to know that you went from the dry cleaner, to the gym, to the grocery store (to buy eggs), to the mall (to buy a red shirt, four pairs of skinny jeans and a green tank top), to McDonald’s to get a cheeseburger and sweet tea to home. Sounds silly reading this, doesn’t it? It’s even sillier when you know the person that felt I needed this information has never spoken to me in real life, ever. They went to high school with me and felt the need to add me as a friend in an attempt to show the world how “popular” they truly are.

 

On the subject of over share—how about the really graphic/intense over share. No, I don’t need to read your status updates of how your labor is going, I haven’t seen or spoken to you in 10+ years. No, I also don’t need to know that you are going to boil the placenta and eat it with your family. I don’t watch Animal Planet for a reason, thank you very much.

 

5.       Inviting me to feed your zombie, harvest your farm, kill your rival mob. Please for the love of all that’s holy stop asking me EVERY SINGLE DAY to do all of the above mentioned (and more)! I firmly believe that one of the best additions Facebook ever made was the ability to remove people from your newsfeed and block application requests. I used to get 70-100 of these daily.

 

6.       Ask to be re-friended after being deleted/people who take it personally when you delete them. Because apparently you didn’t get the message loud and clear last time. There was someone I deleted because every post was racist, disgusting and very biased. I deleted them rather than continue seeing this rubbish and within an hour the person had noticed and resent another friend request. This winter I’m going through my entire friends list and if I can’t remember the last time I spoke with the person they’re gone. I did this once before and deleted someone who refused to talk to me because of it (mission accomplished on that one).  

 

7.       Ppl wh tlk lk dis. Vowels, proper spelling…they are all our friends. I think this speaks for itself.

 

8.       People who try to act like their lives are perfect. We know it isn’t. You can post all you want about how your husband is the best, your house is the best, your kid, what have you—we all know it’s a lie. The entire point of Facebook is vanity and pride: let me show you how awesome I am and then I’ll look to see how lame the rest of you are. That’s why it’s so successful; it understands that humans are narcissistic in nature and need to feel they are at least adequate if not better than everyone else. We can all see behind the veil; after all, if life was absolutely wonderful why would you be wasting precious moments of it trying to sell all 898 of your closest “friends” on the thought?

 

 

It’s a joke. No matter what I say I’m going to anger someone; if that someone is you it’s most likely that it’s because you’ve committed one or more of these faux pas.

October 15th – 22nd is Homelessness Awareness Week here in Milwaukee. The goal is to raise awareness of the plight of homelessness in Milwaukee as well as garner support (via volunteering/donations/etc.) towards the agencies in Milwaukee that are invested in helping people whom often times are unable to make their voices heard. Here’s the agenda for the week—I encourage you all to check out one of the events, try the food stamp challenge and think about donating either your time or some items to one of these great causes.

 

Homelessness Awareness Week

October 2011

 

Saturday, Oct. 15th

Feeling Artsy? Attend the grand opening of the art exhibit: Homeless is Not My Name. This exhibit aims to personalize the issue, dispel stereotypes, inspire involvement and educate on the reality of homelessness in Milwaukee. Held at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, from 6:00 -9:00pm.

Sunday, Oct. 16th

Take the Hunger Task Force Food Stamp Challenge! From Oct. 27th through Nov. 3rd, people can attempt to live for one week on the average food stamp allotment -- $31.50 a week / $4.50 a day / $1.50 a meal. Visit www.hungertaskforce.org for more information.

Monday, Oct. 17th

Sock it to me! Help provide new socks for homeless MPS students! Collection barrels will be available at the front and back entrances to the MPS Administration building, located at 5225 W. Vliet Street.

Tuesday, Oct. 18th

Veteran Food Pantry in need of Volunteers! The Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative operates a food pantry for homeless and low-income veterans Tuesday mornings from 8:00 – 10:00am. Located at 5500 W. Greenfield Avenue in St. John’s Lutheran Church. Ask for Dennis Johnson.

Ever wonder what it’s like to live on the street? The documentary Lost Angels: My Life on Skid Row explores the lives of a few residents in Los Angeles who are part of the ten to twelve thousand homeless residents that make up Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. Screening will take place at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Merill Hall from 7:00 – 8:30, and will be followed by a short panel Q&A session.

Wednesday, Oct. 19th

Divine Intervention Cold Weather Ministry To The Homeless is in need of your assistance! They are in need of coffee/dry creamer/sugar, socks, toilet paper, dry cereal, paper towel, napkins, peanut butter/jelly, or monetary donations to purchase these items. They also are looking for people to volunteer as overnight hosts! Donations can be taken to Tippecanoe Church: 125 Saveland Avenue in BayView. Contact Pastor Karen if you’re interested in volunteering at 414-481-4680.

Thursday, Oct. 20th

Volunteers needed for the 2nd Annual Project Homeless Connect! This year’s event will be held at the Marquette Alumni Memorial Union from 10am – 3pm. The event will consist of a Resource Fair, Health Screenings, Legal Consults, Haircuts, and more! Email mphcvolunteer@gmail.com to sign up, or contact Kari at 414-379-1213.

 

Friday, Oct. 21st

Help Repairers of the Breach with winter items! They are looking for fall jackets and coats (adult sizes, M/F), blankets, warm clothing, and hygiene items. They are also in need of a high-low physical therapy table. Donations can be dropped off at their center at 1335 W. Vliet Street, Milwaukee from 7am – 4pm, Monday through Saturday.

The Gathering needs volunteers! Help volunteer at a meal site for their breakfast program or preparing produce. For more information, contact Kasia Drake-Hames at 414-272-4122.

Saturday, Oct. 22nd

Volunteers are needed for “Invest in a Vet” and “Fill the Helmet”! Volunteers will attend a helmet at various locations throughout Milwaukee to collect donations for these programs which assist veterans. Please visit www.veteransemploymentalliance.org to fill out the volunteer form.

 

I was reading JS Online yesterday when this article popped up in the newsfeed. I was rather appalled by a few things in this article.

Homeless man struck by county bus is identified

By Gitte Laasby of the Journal Sentinel

Oct. 13, 2011 | The Milwaukee County medical examiner's office has identified the homeless man who was run over by a county bus Wednesday evening as Michael Glenn Altman, 48.

Altman was struck by the Route 57 bus north of the intersection of N. Water St. north of E. Michigan St. about 6:30 p.m., police said. He was alive when the bus struck him and he died from multiple blunt force injuries, the medical examiner's office said in a news release Thursday.

The report says the bus turned onto N. Water St. and the driver felt a bump. Neither the driver nor the passengers on the bus saw what happened, and there were no witnesses to the accident outside of the bus, the report said.

Altman suffered multiple traumatic injuries, including fractures to his ribs, sternum, pelvis and legs, the report said.

The medical examiner's office said Altman was an alcoholic.


1.       The victim was labeled simply as “homeless” in the previous article before they we able to identify him by name. I find this highly disrespectful. Had I been the victim would they have identified me as “a homeowner”? Doubtful. Why should he being homeless encapsulate everything about him? I being a mom or a resident of Bayview or Irish American doesn’t encapsulate everything about me. His homelessness doesn’t have anything to do with him being hit by this bus. Being on a street when a bus drives by could be anyone; it has absolutely nothing to do with being homeless.

2.      The last sentence of this article states that the victim was “an alcoholic”. Again, did this have something to do with the accident? If it does, say so—tell us he was intoxicated and slipped off the curb or wandered into the street. This little tidbit shouldn’t be in this article if it’s not relevant. I’d love to know if I’d been the victim would they have ended the article with “the victim was addicted to Kit Kat bars”? Highly unlikely.

I’ve had a long-standing issue with the way homeless individuals are portrayed in the media. It adds to the stigma and helps create even more fear in the hearts of people within the community in regards to the way they view the homeless. This is one of our most vulnerable populations; the media should be shedding light on the issues facing this population and how we can help—not perpetuating biases and the stigma against an already poorly viewed population.

 

Homelessness Awareness Week begins tomorrow in Milwaukee. For a full list of events/ways to help please check out my previous entry.

fundraising, parenting,

The hard sell

We’ve all been there as kids and once your child is school aged you’ll be there again: the dreaded fundraising sales. Girl Scout cookies, candy bars, wrapping paper, popcorn; you name it, our children will sell it. Now, it’s pretty well known that all these items are ridiculously overpriced (in order for the school to make like $0.20 off of every dollar sold), but we also know our family and co-workers can easily be guilted into buying them. By the way, if you know me, you know you could show up at my office any day around 1:30 and even if your candy bar was $10, I’d buy it. So, any-way, it’s a rite of passage for all children, and actually most children (at least the ones I know) get super excited about the prospect of beating their friends and being the champion (after all, they could win a cheap $10 bike after selling $500 worth of overpriced generic candy bars).

Before I was a parent, I hated these things. I remember looking at a wrapping paper order form once and realizing that out of the $30 I was going to spend, only $5 of it was actually going to the school. I asked if I could just sign a check for $30 over to the school, but then, the student wouldn’t get credit for the sale. I was ready to just to buy this child a bicycle as a prize just for not making me buy the crazy expensive wrapping paper and prove a point.

Now that I’m a parent I’m annoyed at this system—but not the sales itself; rather, the lazy parents who only take it to work and send out an e-mail or leave it in the break room for people to sign up. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that we live in a time where children can’t really go door-to-door and peddle their items to perfect strangers (although I will say I find irony in us not allowing them to do this while allowing them to take candy from said strangers on Halloween). In any case, I find some lessons to be learned in at least taking them to houses of family and friends and making them perform their “sales pitch.” 1. It teaches them that if they want something, they need to work for it. I understand that as a parent we’re doing most of the work—driving them to these places, calling ahead to make sure they are home, etc.; but our children should have to put out effort as well. If we simply just take the forms and drop them off at work the only lesson learned is that mom or dad will handle it. 2. Children can use these times to learn how to be polite and respectful when dealing with adults. They learn to ring the doorbell, wait patiently, say hello and talk to a grownup—a lesson they will use time and time again when dealing with teachers, administrators, coaches, friend’s parents, neighbors, etc. 3. They will learn that it’s more than just selling things. We as parents can make sure they tell people and that they themselves understand that this isn’t just to sell something—it’s to help their troop go to camp, or the school get new computers, etc. I’ve noticed that when children understand that it’s for something positive they are even more excited to sell—because there is a purpose. Children are little balls of energy and excitement just waiting for something to be involved in.

I will be the first to say that I wish our schools never had to do these things—I wish they had all the funding they could ever need, but that simply is not the case. So before you take these forms to work, take the time to make your children learn a few positive lessons along the way. 

Has anyone else seen this? Documentary photographer James Mollison decided to help a children’s charity raise awareness of how children around the world are suffering from poverty. He didn’t want to show the “typical” visualizations of poverty stricken children (think commercials where you can sponsor a child for $9.95 a month). He felt that children’s bedrooms really say a lot about children and the sort of lives they lead. This led to him photographing more than 200 children, over 50 of whom made their way into his book, “Where Children Sleep”.  

I have to say, it was rather eye-opening- particularly the first two children when compared to each other. It says something about our culture, our lifestyles and our parenting in relation to the rest of the world. I found, it very interesting that Jaime, (slide 10) whom I would assume comes from the wealthiest family out of the 19 children in the slide show, has a rather plain, what we’d call an average, children’s bedroom. Some of the places these children sleep (which aren’t all bedrooms) are absolutely heartbreaking. When I think about all of the time, money and love I’ve carefully invested in creating a bedroom that is an oasis for my daughter, it just feels so wrong when you see what other children, just like her call “home”. 

 I grew up in a small town in California that was very much a “melting pot” kind of place in the sense that no one really identified with their ethnic background; rather, we were all just Caucasians, mainly upper middle class, mostly of Protestant background. Basically everyone was a WASP and we all did the typical celebrations, holidays, etc. There were a few exceptions: we have a rather large population of people from a Portuguese background, so there is a Portuguese association and festival each year; we also have a large Hispanic/Latino population and there are celebrations of that culture as well. So other than that there wasn’t much in the way of ethnic celebration and influence on our town and childhoods—except, of course, in my family.

I’m Irish American. My family is extremely proud of our background and as far back as I can remember, we always celebrated who we were and where we came from. My grandfather tells some great stories about our family that have been passed down through the years and I still love hearing them at almost thirty years old. Although we were proud to be Irish we really had no community in our area; nobody else seemed to be Irish (except for St. Patrick’s Day when EVERYONE would claim Irish ancestry).

I married a guy that’s 50% Irish (I, of course, never let him forgot about that other 50%). He’s from Milwaukee and has always grown up with a large Irish American population—but he really never celebrated his heritage other than learning about it from his dad. So when Rory came along I wanted her to know and love where she’s come from and what her ancestors endured to get us to where we are today. One of my absolutely favorite things about Milwaukee is how so many ethnicities are celebrated. Whether through festivals, neighborhoods, or ethnic clubs—it’s amazing how much of the world you can learn about through all of these opportunities.

There’s something to be said about not merely being a “melting pot,” but rather, taking pride in whom you are and teaching others about your culture. I feel like often times this thought of a “melting pot” is a thought of losing everything culturally or ethnically that makes you who you are.

With that said, Rory is in one of the best locations (outside of Ireland) to learn about and embrace her heritage. Irish dancing, hurling, Gaelic language classes, Gaelic music, the Irish Cultural Heritage Center and all it has to offer--my little Irish girl will be able to experience things I dreamed of being able to do when my Papa would tell me about where I came from. The best part? It’s not just for Irish individuals—Milwaukee has similar opportunities for several ethnic backgrounds and if they don’t have anything for yours, why not start your own? How can our children get to where they are going without knowing where they came from? 

 I grew up in a very small town in California. In a lot of ways it’s the idyllic location for parents to raise their children: no crime, no gangs, great schools, everyone knew everyone, etc. Under that mirage of the “American Dream” lurked a problem most of suburbia has had since the beginning: teenage boredom. Teenage boredom due to not being near any large towns with things to do when added to an upper middle class white existence will always lead to trouble. In my town’s case it led to ridiculous amounts of underage drinking, drug use and promiscuous sex.

To help combat the alcohol and drug use our county had a program called “Friday Night Live” which was meant to empower students as leaders and help educate their peers on the ills of these types of behaviors. In my small town this program was ran by a woman named Lynne. As I mentioned, we all knew each other. I knew Lynne my whole life because of her daughter, Casey. Casey and I went from preschool through high school together (which was the case with most of the kids I knew), her dad was my soccer coach in Junior High; we both swam on the swim team; etc. Casey was very actively involved in Friday Night Live, helping to create an event at my high school called “Every 15 Minutes” which helped give a visual effect that every 15 minutes in this country someone dies from an alcohol related collision. One way to show us the harsh reality was throughout an entire school day, every 15 minutes a student would be “killed”, taken out of the classroom, their obituary read and a headstone created in our quad area—a visual reminder that I remember more than 10 years later. In this exercise, Casey “died” in the middle of a class I shared with her. I distinctly remember when her “obituary” was read out loud to the class, because I remember thinking I couldn’t imagine what that would be like if it was actually real.

There was no way I could have known it was going to become true.

Casey was killed March 13th, 2003 (seven months short of her 21st birthday), when an 18 year old drunk driver drifted into her lane at 90 miles per hour hitting a bus before slamming into Casey’s Honda Civic and killing her. Casey was driving home from college to celebrate her mom’s birthday.

Casey would be turning 29 this month. From what I knew of her growing up, I can only assume that she’d be married, teaching school, possibly with a baby. Not only was Casey’s life cut tragically short; her family would never be the same. The life Casey’s parents had worked years for her to have was gone, replaced with memories of their beautiful daughter and pain knowing that drunk driving, the issue Casey and her mom had worked tirelessly to end, was the cause of her death.

Now this event in and of itself could be enough to cause parents to lose their minds, shut down from the rest of society and never deal with life again. This wasn’t the case with Casey’s parents. Lynne and her husband, Reed, continued to fight. Because of their determination, TRACE (Target Responsibility for Alcohol Connected Emergencies) was developed in California. TRACE is a protocol for officers investigating alcohol-related incidents involving under-aged drinkers to identify the source of the alcohol and notify the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control if the alcohol came from a business with an ABC license. Casey’s Pledge was also created—a program in which students sign a pledge stating they will never drive or get into a car with someone intoxicated. The high school students learn about Casey’s life; some even view the mangled remains of her car in order to drive home how serious this issue truly is. Reed and Lynne are taking this love they have for their daughter that will never get to live the life she should have lived and channel it into trying to make sure no other parents have to go through the torture they’ve had to endure.

A little more than nine months after Casey’s death, Lynne and Reed lost their son, Kyle, at the age of sixteen in a car accident. 

When we marry we say “till death do us part,” in parenthood that simply is not the case. Parents love their children in a way so profoundly deep and true that it simply cannot break or be moved. I’m not a huge parenting-book reader, but I was told about and have been reading this book called “Grace Based Parenting” and it defines a parent’s love for their child as “Love is the commitment of my will to your needs and best interests, regardless of the cost.” The love of parents like Reed and Lynne transcends death; it causes them to care deeply about the lives of other children and realize that although they will never see Casey or Kyle again in this life, the love they have for both of them and the rest of the their family will sustain them. It’s the only thing that makes sense in an unfair and sometimes dark world.

Happy Birthday Casey; you’d be so proud of the people your parents are and the legacy your life and being has carried on. I hope that I can love my daughter the way your parents always loved you (and still do).