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Dear Twin Kids, One of You is “Extra” According to the Atlantic

Eeny meeny miny moe
One of you is extra though
Fertility treatments made it so
The Atlantic told me
to pick the very best one
and you are not it

A tiny favour, all magazines.  When you are talking about human beings, unless you are referencing the phrase “the heir and the spare” when speaking about historical land and title arrangements, please refrain from calling certain people “extra.”  It’s a little offensive and reeks of eugenics.

Now specifically to the Atlantic:

Your title “There Really Are So Many More Twins Now” has a golly gee willikers aspect to the phrasing, one that makes the average American scratch their head and say, “Woo wee!  That’s a lot of twins.  I sure do wonder what made this twin dump in the population.”

Here’s the thing.  You call these humans “extra” because there is an increase in the twin rate.  But do we call years “extra” because we’ve increased the average life span?  Do we call all those additional murders “extra” since we’ve had an increase in gun-related deaths?  Where is that headline?  “The Gun Effect: How the US Got Millions of Extra (!) Deaths.”  No, we don’t.  Because we don’t hold collective disdain for assisted family building.  Whereas socially, there is more reverence and protection given to guns than there is to building families.  Unless someone is trying to stop themselves from building a family.  Politicians like to get involved then.

The author, Alexis C Madrigal, plays super-sleuth, finding the definitive reason for the increased twin rate: fertility treatments.  He is absolutely certain of this.  Better medical care hasn’t increased the live twin rate, even though we now have many more options for ensuring that twins live than we did twenty years ago.  Environmental factors are not increasing twinning.  The only reasons he gives is old ladies and their old ovaries and young ladies and their rabid love of fertility treatments.

Believe me, finger-pointing-without-actually-addressing-the-clear-solution-to-this-problem Atlantic, we all want to solve the issue of multiple births when it comes to fertility treatments.  There is a simple step American lawmakers could take that would greatly reduce the number of multiple births, lowering the risks and medical costs associated with multiple births — if you really want to address this problem and not just whine about it:

Mandate that insurance needs to cover fertility treatments.

Many more people would opt for eSET (elective single embryo transfer) if the costs of IVF weren’t astronomical, encouraging women to increase their possible success rates by transferring more than one embryo.  Many more people would opt for closer monitoring with lower-end fertility drugs such as Clomid if the full cost for monitoring wasn’t passed along to the patient, cycle after cycle after cycle.  Many more people would take a slower and more conservative route, even with the emotional costs, if the financial costs weren’t such a burden on the family.  Mandate insurance coverage and eSET except in doctor-decided cases, and you will see a twin rate that mirrors that of other countries that provide fertility treatments to patients who need it.

So… instead of just pointing out the problem, you are a news source, Atlantic.  Why don’t you continue the story and state the solution?

Awaiting your next article covering insurance mandates.

P.S. Madrigal: you’d sound a lot more knowledgeable if you used the correct term — “transfer” — rather than the impossible term — “implant” — when referring to IVF.

April 18, 2014   6 Comments

490th Friday Blog Roundup

So I was about to start out this post by telling you that I was deleting Candy Crush from my mobile device. I’ve definitely slowed down in my playing. (I’m on level 421, so not making a lot of forward progress anymore.)  But moreover, I haven’t been able to have it sync with Facebook for a week or so.  This means that even if I pass a level on one device, it won’t update my progress anywhere else.  And I can’t send my friend tickets nor ask for people to send me tickets when I get to the end of an episode.

I looked online to see if anyone else was having this problem, and though I couldn’t find anyone else talking about it on Twitter, there were plenty of bulletin boards that spoke about this problem.  The two suggestions were logging into Facebook via the settings on the phone (vs. just downloading the app and signing in there) or deleting and reinstalling the app.

The first one was a no-go.  If you read the TOS and see what you are granting Facebook once you log in via your settings, you would revoke that privilege so quickly from them that Zuckerberg’s head would spin.  There is no game — not even Candy Crush — that would entice me to give Facebook that sort of access on my phone.

And the second one begged the question: if I was deleting the app, why would I reinstall it?  Why wouldn’t I just delete the app and go about the rest of my life, Candy Crush-free?

So I opened this post box to write the Roundup, and I paused to dramatically delete the app.  And then, like a junkie, I decided to reinstall just to see if it worked (and then I could always delete again).  It did.  It worked.  My device connected via Facebook, and took me back to where I had been on the map before the problem cropped up.

Deleting Candy Crush is like burning the bridge to a semi-dysfunctional friendship.  Yes, it would emotionally cocoon me to not have access ever again to the Crush.  But just as I sometimes like to get coffee with an old friend, not to rekindle the friendship back to a daily basis but to touch base with the past, I sort of like seeing that app on the phone, knowing I can sneak in a round or two before bed if I choose.  If I choose.  Because you no longer have a choke-hold on my life, King.com.  Well, you do.  But I pretend you don’t.



Esperanza told me about a LARP that fans created online where you can enroll in Hogwarts and take online classes.  It’s like University of Phoenix for the magical world.

Yes, I am enrolling.  Yes, I am going to complete all the course work.  Yes, I am going to talk about it incessantly.  Yes, the twins enrolled too which means, like Hermione, I need to help them with their homework.  Yes, I am going to neglect things like basic hygiene and eating in order to fit more Harry Potter in my life.


Who is joining me?


And now the blogs…

But first, second helpings of the posts that appeared in the open comment thread last week.  In order to read the description before clicking over, please return to the open thread:

  • Mday” (Because We’ll Figure it Out)

Okay, now my choices this week.

Inconceivable is at the start of a pregnancy, deep in the waiting zone from beta to beta as she tries to discern what her spotting means.  She pulls in a quote from the Princess Bride that so perfectly sums up the feeling that hangs over an infertile person’s head during pregnancy.  A perfect post, though I’m hoping that like the Dread Pirate Roberts, nothing comes of the threat.

Life as I Know It has a post about her seventh blogoversary.  While she’s started and given up on many things in life, she keeps coming back to her blog, year after year.  She says it best with this simple thought, “I blog because it frees me to just be and feel.”  Hells yeah, and happy blogoversary.

Anabegins also has a post about blogging. (You know I’m a sucker for blogging about blogging!  And the fact that she named it “Meta” made me swoon.)  It’s about finding the energy to do the hard work of writing when you aren’t forced to do the hard work of writing.  And all the things she gets out of blogging in return.

Lastly, Mona Darling has a post about never being too old to try something new.  To quote the teens these days, YOLO, and this blog post embraces that idea of not waiting or making excuses to take a risk.  She writes, “Why is 40 too old to change careers? Or, 45 in my case. Don’t you don’t deserve better from life then spending a majority of your day doing something you don’t enjoy?”  The post is a rallying cry for figuring out what you want to try, and then doing it.

The roundup to the Roundup: I fixed Candy Crush… crap.  I AM ENROLLING IN HOGWARTS!  And lots of great posts to read.  So what did you find this week?  Please use a permalink to the blog post (written between April 11th and April 18th) and not the blog’s main url. Not understanding why I’m asking you what you found this week?  Read the original open thread post here.

April 18, 2014   2 Comments

Birth and Death: Chelsea Clinton to Gabriel Garcia Márquez

I got two CNN alerts on the heels of one another, attached to each other in Gmail like mating dragonflies.  Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.  And seconds later, Gabriel Garcia Márquez is dead.

My favourite Márquez story is a popular one: “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings.”  I used to teach it to my students; use it as a space to discuss humanity.  How people can be both wonderful and terrible, brilliant and stupid, all at the same time.

I think I’ll read it to the twins tonight.

April 17, 2014   7 Comments

American Greetings Wants You to Know That Dads Suck… Until Father’s Day

Parenting is hard. You are responsible for another human being, 24/7. There are no sick days, no vacation days. (Unless you have child care, though even when you’re not there, you’re still technically responsible for this other person’s life.) When you sign on to parent, you have to parent regardless of whatever else is happening in your life. So I get it. It’s hard.

American Greetings, the card company, put out a “viral” video* showing hapless people applying for a job with no pay or breaks. The people are dumbfounded. How can this be? And then — gotcha! — the job turns out to be motherhood. Yes, motherhood is the toughest job in the world. I know that because the video is called “World’s Toughest Job” so you know that it has to be 100% factually true in order to be on the Internet.

I watched this video with Josh, bouncing up and down on the sofa as the punchline unfolded, and I started shouting out the other half of that message, the one given to men on a daily basis in the country. DADS SUCK. Just bring home the bacon and then go back to being remote and out-of-touch with your feelings in your little man cave while we women do the REAL work of raising children. Maaaaaaaaaaybe, if you’re lucky, we’ll let you babysit your own kids. But other than that, suck it, Dads, because even American Greetings doesn’t think you do jack shit.

Oh… wait… until June when it’s Father’s Day and they want us to buy cards for that holiday. Then I’m sure we’ll have another viral video to thank dads for all they do.

So Dads, you only suck and are worthless for another 2 months. Then we’ll acknowledge you.

But until then, American Greetings just wants you to know that you do not hold the position of toughest job. That goes to mothers. Until May 12th.

A side note to my dad: Thank you for the amazing job you do — STILL — in raising me. I am, in a large part, who I am thanks to you.

A side note to Josh: The fact that you would contemplate a V.F.D. tattoo shows just how far you would go to say in no uncertain terms to your kids that anything they love is loved by you too because you want to see the world through their eyes. There is no one I would want to parent with more than you. You are an amazing partner in all of this craziness.

A side note to American Greetings: I get it. It’s easy to market to certain niches — such as mothers — and much harder to market to an amorphous one such as “women.” But there are a shit-ton of us who are not mothers or who are mothers and do not want to be marketed to like this every May. We don’t need to create a hierarchy, we don’t need to label things the “toughest,” and we certainly don’t need to be walked through emotional hoops like a dog doing tricks in order to be sold cards. Diversifying would help you to sell more cards rather than alienating a base. So… please… stop. By which I mean, stop the endless Mother’s Day ads and try thinking through the myriad situations that people find themselves in where a card would be gratefully appreciated.

* I love it when news sites describe a video on YouTube as a “viral” video. How, pray tell, does one go about creating a “viral” video? Do they mean a video that unintentionally went viral? They do know that you can’t choose whether or not a video spreads from eyes to eyes. Though making people angry or making people cry are two very good ways to get your message out there to a lot of people in a very manipulative manner.

April 16, 2014   22 Comments

Are You Infertile Enough?

This will be a hard post to read.  I’d appreciate it if you’d read through to the bottom.

April 15th usually is National Infertility Awareness Day, though next week begins National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW).  Resolve has asked bloggers to write on the theme “Resolve to know…”  Actually, their theme is “Resolve to know more…” but I dropped the “more” because judging by the comment section that accompanies articles about infertility, many people have no knowledge when it comes to infertility.  And in an Alice in Wonderland paradox fit for a tea party, you can’t really take “more” when you have nothing to begin with.  So I’m just going to help people “Resolve to know,” full stop.

I decided to tackle a topic not on their list, which is “Resolve to know inclusivity.”  This is a very uncomfortable topic, but I also think it’s an important one because we’re a thin-skinned group for good reason based on our interactions with the larger world.  We know how it feels to be misunderstood by those clowns who frequent the comment section (I’ve been looking for a chance to use the term “clowns” in a blog post and I’ve found it!), but it feels ten times worse when the sense of exclusion or dismissiveness comes internally, either by perception, insinuation, direct words, or silence.

I direct this resolution both at individuals and also at organizations: those that are in place to educate or aid those with infertility.  I’m directing this at clinics and agencies.  I’m directing this at bloggers and non-bloggers. And I am directing this at myself.

Cracked.com had an honest post about fan communities that hits close to home because the description applied to the comic book/gaming/indie music communities has also been discussed in regards to the ALI community:

All of the groups to which I claim allegiance are “outsider” communities that espouse a culture of inclusiveness, support, and non-judgment and depend on constant influxes of new members in order to continue existing, yet at some point the fans of these communities decided it was up to them to prevent new people from joining them at all costs. And even if you’ve been a member for years, your fellow Hellboy and Modest Mouse enthusiasts are waiting for the first sign of weakness to swoop in and boot you straight out the door.

I would argue that we’re not really the booting sort.  We’re more of the cold freeze or the ignore or the not listening sort.  I own that.  You need to own it too.  I’m not saying we do it on purpose, but we do it inadvertently, and the effect of this is for people to feel excluded.  We have adoptive parents who not only have to convince outsiders to use positive adoption language, but they need to convince insiders too.  I’ve read posts by people living child-free after infertility who feel as if they’re invisible, forgotten members of the community at large, and posts by those parenting after infertility who feel as if they’ve been dropped like a hot potato.  There are those of us who still feel very comfortable and supported by this community, but if there is even one person who feels as if they’re getting the message that they no longer belong, then that is one person too many.

So far in this post, I’ve put the blame on others for a person’s discomfort, but I think — as the fan community has found — that it’s up to ourselves as to whether we paint the whole of the community with the brush presented by a few non-inclusive apples.  I’ve found a lot of assholes in the geek world, but I’ve also found some of the most amazing, wonderful, fun people.  People who introduce me to really cool things and make me excited to open my email or feed reader.  And I’ve found the same in the ALI community.  Fewer assholes, though some still exist.  I don’t allow them to define the community for me.  Instead, I mentally nudge their antics out of the way the best I can, still support the people themselves the best I can, and generally hope that they will change with time and positive interactions.  They’re sort of like that crazy family member that you can’t completely dismiss from the whole but you also don’t need to engage with if doing so is a drain.

I want to apologize for any time my words have made you feel excluded.  We’re allowed to hold differing opinions, and I can’t own the times we’ve disagreed.  I once had a person write me to tell me that she feels excluded on my blog because of my inclusivity; because I include people she hates and therefore make her feel excluded because she can’t be in this space without encountering those people she hates.  And… uh… that’s not something I can apologize for.  But the times when I’ve chosen the wrong word or stated something in a way that offended you; those are the things I can apologize for and promise that I will always try to do better if you communicate respectfully with me and explain how my word choice or ideology hurt your feelings.  Respectful is key: communicating privately with someone who has upset you, keeping your tone in check and refraining from name calling is respectful.  Calling them out in a blog post or complaining about them publicly is not.

Hopefully, we can all extend that promise to one another.  It makes for a better, stronger community.

Everyone — yes, even the assholes — belong in the ALI community.  If you’ve been diagnosed as infertile, fit the diagnostic definition for infertile even though you haven’t been formally diagnosed yet, worry that you’re headed in the direction of being diagnosed, or belong to any of the tangential communities that require assistance in family building due to situational infertility, you belong in the ALI community.  You belong here regardless of which path you use to build — or not build — your family.  You belong here whether you’re still grappling with your infertility, or whether you’ve resolved it.  You belong here whether you’re childless/child-free or parenting.  You belong here if your child is no longer alive; from chemical pregnancies to neonatal death.  We’re a big community, at least, in my eyes.

And that is the point too; that we all define community based on our own terms when it comes to inclusivity.  And you may choose to define the community differently than I do.  But if you choose to use the term “ALI community,” that is a term that I coined back in 2008 in this embarrassing post, and it has a very large but concrete definition: adoption, loss, infertility.  I don’t give you permission to take that term and twist it to exclude.  Make up your own word if you want to do that.

I specifically made it enormous and general so it would include everyone on the blogroll.  Every single situation or diagnosis on the blogroll fits into one of those three options.  Every single person on that blogroll has their foot in one of the three rings in this venn diagram, and some stand in all three circles.  By which I mean that of course you are more than a single word, but with those three words and keeping a broad definition for all three words, every single person can be included.  The trick is making everyone feel included as well as having the person including his or herself.

That definition — coining the term “ALI community” — was meant to remove everything that makes our individual diagnoses and situations unique and differentiating and instead bring us all together as a single entity working toward mutual support and understanding so it can extend to the outer world.  The term is not about focusing on donor gametes or surrogacy or adoption or IVF or living child-free or parenting… it is to boil away all of those other words we use to describe our place in this community and look at the few things we have in common.  Because we’ll find that the emotional landscape is often shared even if the characters moving over that landscape are different.

If you use my term, I’d appreciate it if you also used the meaning behind it.


I’ll end with a thank you to go with my apology.  Thank you for the inclusivity.  Thank you to everyone who has included me over the years.  Thank you to everyone who includes others.  I’ve long refused to be a leader, but I have no problem if you see me as a hub, a pollinator bringing people and ideas together.  So thank you to everyone who has come here, participated in the comment section or with a project, and then jumped off this hub to find others via the blogroll or the comment section to connect with, taking the threads of the web with you to help with our cohesiveness.

Thank you to everyone who has inserted their ideas into the conversation, who has pointed out our mistakes so we can do better, and who has actively stuck around to make the community a better place.  When we’re at our best, we are pretty damn good.  And as someone who travels widely across the blogosphere due to her job, there are few places on the Internet that are this close-knit and supportive, sharing information and hugs to help each other get through managing the chronic nature of infertility.

If nothing else, this year, resolve to be inclusive.  And if you’re additionally inclined, I’d love to hear what you resolve to have people know for NIAW.

April 15, 2014   22 Comments

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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