The Fertility Mentor
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|Posted on June 8, 2016 at 10:58 AM||comments (55)|
I wanted to refer back to my post from 2/17/14, entitled "A View From the Other Side." Again, not to boast or brag about my daughter in any way. Merely to point out how the fertility challenges we all faced, or are facing now, never really go away. However your journey ends, this experience somehow weaves its way into your life now, however many years after the fact. I have come to accept it as sort of an old friend at this point. Without the years of struggles and pain, I never would have gotten to this point.
So here we are, 6 1/2 years out from when my daughter was born. She's in first grade now, loosing teeth, excelling in school, participating in dance/gymnastics/swimming/ Girl Scouts, navigating friendships and trying to understand the world around her. She is officially the age it took for us to have her. It is completely mind-blowing to me that in all this time, THIS moment is what marks the totality of time and effort and money and tests and procedures and disappointments and everything that led up to her existence.
When you are IN IT, focused on achieving your goal of parenthood, whether you are just beginning your journey, or are years into it, you can't see beyond where you are. How can you possibly imagine something that is completely and utterly out of your control? How can you predict the outcome when you are still unsure of what your options are? It's impossible. So, you put your game face on, full steam ahead, putting one foot in front of the other and do whatever you need to in order to forge ahead. One day at a time. One test at a time. One procedure at a time. And slowly but surely, you make progress.
The important thing is not to get too far ahead of yourself. Stay focused on the here and now. The things IN your control. Decisions that you need to make - with or without a partner. Each step and decision will get you moving forward, somehow, even if it feels like you are on the edge of a cliff, looking down. Rely on your faith that whatever is meant to happen, will. And it will all be worth it in the end. I promise.
In the meantime, I want to stress how important it is to take care of yourself at this time, especially.
1) PHYSICALLY...if you're up for physical activity, go for it (naturally, check with your doctor first). If not, listen to your body and take care of it accordingly.
2) MENTALLY...if you work, sometimes diving into work is a great distraction. If you are able to carve out time in your day to "check out" and shut your mind down for a while, I highly recommend that.
3) EMOTIONALLY...a good cry is never anything to dismiss. It's healing and cleansing, and clears out space in your heart for something else.
4) SPIRITUALLY...maybe take a walk and be in nature. Or if you're near a beach, go sit by the water. Or visit an animal shelter. Or go volunteer with underprivileged kids. Or go visit a nursing home. Something to take yourself out of your own situation and be somewhere that is bigger than yourself. It really helps to put things into perspective, at a time when you really need a clear perspective.
Lastly, my friends, know that no matter what, you are not alone. Whether you have tons of people around you to support you, or not, all it takes is a smile from a stranger, or someone offering you a seat on the bus, or a fellow patient sitting next to you in a doctor's waiting room, to know that you are not alone. I am pulling for you from afar. I am praying for you that you can find the strength and fortitude to keep going. To see this through to the end, and hope that whatever happens, you find peace and fulfillment. I'm here if you need me.
|Posted on January 5, 2015 at 2:20 PM||comments (42)|
There is so much emphasis on having a first child, that no one really talks much about the ones that follow. What if you had the easiest time conceiving, carrying & having your first child? What if you thought conceiving, carrying & having a second or third child would be just as easy as the first? What if you were wrong?
The term is called "secondary infertility." And, apparently, it is a common problem. Often times, people who have a relatively easy time having their first child, now run into challenges trying for additional children.
Check out this informative article from Parenting Magazine, on secondary infertility.
|Posted on July 16, 2014 at 2:38 PM||comments (35)|
I recently read an article in The Examiner, which talks about a link between a "widely-used ingredient in sunscreen, to an increased risk of endometriosis in some women."
Please read on for more information. I never knew, did you?
|Posted on February 17, 2014 at 2:59 PM||comments (30)|
On a personal note, my husband & I spent 6 long, daunting, scary, devastating, and exhausting years trying to have my daughter. Our miracle baby is now 4 years old and is the absolute joy of our lives. I say this, not to throw salt in an already painful wound for those of you visiting this blog, but because I had a profound thought the other day, which made me so sad, all these years later.
My daughter is still 2 YEARS away from how long it took for us to have her. The past 4 years have flown by, no doubt. But when you're on the path of infertility, and it literally takes over every pore of your being, you can't help but to measure life events against the time it takes to have a child. Even now, 4 years later.
I don't know if you ever move past all that it takes to have a child, when you are faced with such immense challenges. For those who have children so easily & effortlessly, I doubt they think much about it, except to recall happy memories about their pregnancy and/or birth. However, when you experience infertility, there is little to be happy about, in the face of so much uncertainty, disappointments and pain.
If you are lucky enough to wind up with a live birth at the end of your ordeal, I applaud you for going the distance and seeing it through. If you had to change your plans along the way and went down the road of adoption, surrogate, sperm or egg donor instead, you are among my heroes. It just goes to show how committed you are to becoming a parent, and the lengths you will go through to accomplish just that. Bravo.
I am here to say that even when the light shines brightly upon us, there is something quite humbling about looking back with gratitude for all that infertility gave you. Stay strong, keep your chin up, and most importantly, don't give up.
|Posted on January 27, 2014 at 11:57 AM||comments (24)|
Here's a recent article from Tricia Romano of The Daily Beast on the myths about women getting pregnant later in life. Some interesting information. Check it out.
|Posted on August 31, 2013 at 4:03 PM||comments (28)|
I know, it sounds so simple. But if you think about the fact that each of you came together from 2 totally different backgrounds, upbringings, history, family values, dynamics, religions (even if the same), and more. It's a wonder how couples get along under normal circumstances!
Now factor in the topic of having a baby into the equation. If you're a couple who has no problem, congratulations. If you are not, chances are you have different opinions about how to go down the daunting road of infertility. Maybe one of you is committed to having your own biological child, no matter what is involved. Maybe your partner has always wanted to adopt. Maybe one of you is quick to pursue a donor egg or sperm. Maybe your partner wants nothing to do with that.
Whatever combination of opinions, feelings and desires you and your partner have, it will never work if you try to force your "way" onto your partner. If you are both completely opposed to each other's way of proceeding, it's not like you can compromise between trying to have a biological child and adopting. At some point, you must pick an option and go with it. There are many points of compromise once you are both on the same page about which avenue you will go down.
If you decide to adopt, the decision about whether to look internationally or domestically. What race the child can be. What religion, if it matters to one or both of you. What physical attributes the child has, and on and on. So many more decisions to make at every turning point.
The most important thing is to get on the same page first about how to have a child at all. Those wrinkles are not ones that can be ironed out later on, as this journey puts an enormous amount of stress and pressure on the most compatible couples. Go slow, get help, and lean on each other whenever possible. Most importantly, keep your eye on the ball....together.
|Posted on July 23, 2013 at 11:20 PM||comments (19)|
Why does one of the most painful processes in life have to also have a stigma attached to it as well? As if anyone ASKED for it. As if anyone WANTED to go through it. As if anyone wouldn't give a limb to NOT have to deal with it (ok, maybe that's a bit dramatic...but you know what I mean).
Anyone dealing with infertility most likely knows what I'm talking about when I mention "the stigma." That 'yeesh' expression people have on their face when learning that you're struggling with having a child on your own. Instant judgment. Instant pity. Instant 'I-don't-know-what-the-hell-to-say-to-you-next' awkwardness.
Well, perhaps you can find SOME comfort in knowing that the statistics don't lie. 1 out of every 8 people are infertile. I don't mean those people who just need to "relax and go on vacation...it'll happen naturally." I mean the people who actually ARE infertile and need intervention from a reproductive endocrinologist. Stat. Think about it....1 in 8 people. So if you are gathered together in a group of 8 friends, one of you is infertile (just for a second, let's not assume it is you). Sit around your holiday table and scan 8 women of childbearing age, seated near you. One of them is infertile (same assumption, if you'll indulge me for another moment).
My point is that you're not as freaky as you might feel. Yes, infertility is one of the most unnatural processes ever. No joke. But, doesn't it give you SOME comfort in knowing that you're not alone? That people in your life may be dealing with it too, even if they aren't yet ready to talk about it?
It takes a brave person to push past the stigma, own their journey, and be the hope that others can lean on in times of difficulty. I guarantee you that once you know that your situation is helping others, suddenly your struggles have meaning. And suddenly you can take the focus off you for just a moment, to wish someone else the courage you found. That is how we can push past the stigma. Bravo!
|Posted on March 6, 2013 at 2:01 AM||comments (38)|
So, you've been diagnosed with infertility, which suddenly feels like a blow to your gut. What do you mean I can't get pregnant, on my own, right away? Maybe your fertility treatments start off slowly with ovulation predictor kits and temperature charting. Or perhaps you kick it up a notch & your reproductive endocrinologist recommends intrauterine insemination (IUI) treatments. Maybe you're including injectable and/or oral medications. You might have moved on to IVF as well.
Whatever your course of treatment, there will come a time when then question comes up....how do you know when to stop? If you're lucky enough to produce a baby at the end and have a "live birth," congratulations!!! It will all have been worth it and now you have your little miracle. Enjoy every minute of it.
But what if you don't? What if you're endlessly trying and not having success? What if your partner wants to stop, but you want to keep going? What if you want to adopt and your partner wants no part of it? Whatever the scenario is for you, it is likely that at some point, you will hit a wall and have to answer the dreaded question of what to do next.
I will always say that it is imperative to have a back-up plan, no matter how far you plan to pursue infertility treatments. Come up with a Plan B, in case you need to abandon Plan A at any point along the way. This way, you have an option AND you don't need to waste more time. You can hit the ground running and not miss a beat.
If all else fails and you have exhausted all of your options, it's time to check in with one more person...yourself. Have you done EVERYTHING you possibly can so you can sleep at night, knowing you've turned over every stone? Have you exhausted whatever money you allocated for this purpose, only to conclude that there is no more available? Has your biological clock told you that your age is too much of a risk factor and to quit while you're ahead?
Whatever questions you can answer for yourself, I suggest you get comfortable with whatever amount of time, money, energy, etc. you've put forth before you call it quits. Grieve and mourn whatever you need to, but make sure you don't look back with regrets. Only you can decide when to close the book on this chapter and move on with your life. With, or without, children. Trust your gut.
|Posted on January 10, 2013 at 12:14 PM||comments (56)|
A moat, per Dictionary.com, is a deep, wide trench, usually filled with water, surrounding the rampart of a fortified place, as a town or a castle.
Some people, when going through infertility, need to seclude themselves while undergoing their journey to parenthood. These are the people who will only share information as they feel others in their life need to know. So, they create an emotional "moat" as they undergo their treatments. This oftentimes doesn't bode well with the people being shut out, but it is not your responsibility to make them comfortable. You need to focus on you right now.
Conversely, there are others going through infertility, who can't share enough with the people closest to them. These are the people who try & fit all of the supportive people in their life into their proverbial life boat, in order to get through the process. The more support, the better.
Whichever group you fall into, recognize that it is in YOUR control to invite or dis-invite anyone to help you through this journey. If you have an overbearing mother (or mother-in-law), a nosy sister who gossips, a competitive friend who has to "one up" you....whatever the kinds of people in your life, YOU decide who gets to ride this wave with you or not.
Maybe you are the type who has everyone in your life boat in every other area of your life, but now that you're undergoing fertility treatments, you need to create a moat of self-protection, in order to survive everything. Or vice versa. Whatever your situation, know that this is an area where you DO have control. Infertility is by nature out of your complete control, so gaining control wherever you can, is paramount.
Focus on the task at hand. Become a parent, or not, however you need to. If there are people in your life who will be there at the end, they will need to learn to let you call the shots on your way there.
|Posted on October 4, 2012 at 3:18 AM||comments (69)|
So you begin the journey of infertility. No matter which direction you are heading towards, whether you are undergoing IUI, fertility drugs, sperm/egg donors, IVF, blood issues, ovulation issues, PCOS, etc., chances are you are dealing with an insane amount of stress that you never expected, nor know how to handle, in many cases.
In every day life, people have their beliefs about psychotherapy. Maybe you are all for it, but maybe you're not. No judgments either way, but in this bubble of life called infertility, I pose the option of seeking counseling as a necessary life raft to help you navigate your path towards parenthood. Depending on your health insurance benefits, some insurance companies pay for a certain number of visits per year, or a portion of it. Whatever it is, I implore you to at least look into it.
Look for a therapist who specializes in infertility. Go on RESOLVE'S web site (the leading national association that provides timely, compassionate support and information to people who are experiencing infertility and increases awareness of infertility issues through public education and advocacy) at www.resolve.org. Google specialists in your area. Ask your doctor. Chances are pretty high that your doctor's office has a therapist on staff to help you deal with the stress, or can refer you to someone.
In my case, my fertility doctor's office had an entire department of mental health professionals to help patients deal with the struggles of infertility. Think about it: several staff members were dedicated entirely to help patients deal with the process. Doesn't that say something about how incredibly hard this journey is, to provide an entire department of professionals to patients? In my experience, no other medical specialty offers such a service in-house. I highly recommend taking advantage, if your clinic offers it.
Why carry the burden alone, if you don't have to? Reach out and get help. That's what they are there for, to help you manage the fears, the anxiety, the stress, the overwhelming feelings that accompany every step along the way. No one judges you. No one pities you. They are just there to help you. In my opinion, let them.