The Gift of Children
What are you hoping to find this holiday season? An end to fertility treatment with the best gift ever?
Is it a gift that you can unwrap? A gift that you can be surprised and delighted by?
Gifts come in packages that are most unusual and unexpected.
The last several days of warm weather were a gift to me. Yes, I know, they shouldn't have been warm; it's snow season. Does that mean I shouldn't have enjoyed the balminess in the air? Being able to move around outside without being bundled up, without hiding every bit of exposed skin, was a pleasure that I had not anticipated and that I enjoyed thoroughly.
I considered it a gift.
The Meaning of Giving
I'm a word nerd. May be silly, nonetheless, true. Here's the dictionary defintion of gift:
1: a notable capacity, talent, or endowment
2: something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation
3: the act, right, or power of giving
In this season, number two pops out at me first. The piece that warms my heart as a reminder of giving in a loving way, is "without compensation".
It's not about what I get back. Or what I get first. It's about what I give or what I receive without "compensation".
Gifts are not all bought and paid for; some are offerings of time and energy. Making food, doing an errand, doing someone else's chore; these are all gifts that cannot be unwrapped yet are enjoyed as meaningful expressions of love.
Did you notice that love is not mentioned in that definition?
Yet, that's what makes a gift most meaningful. The emotion with which it is chosen and delivered and the feelings it evokes in the person who receives it.
Without love, a gift has very little lasting meaning. It's just an object. It's not real, even if it can light up and do all kinds of extraordinary things.
A beloved children's book, The Velveteen Rabbit, says it best:
“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'
'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.
'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'
To Become A Parent: Waiting for a Child
For most of you reading this blog, that is the real point, isn't it? What we're hoping for? To become real, become most alive, in the role that we are yearning for: to become a parent.
The real gift would be to love a child in a way that makes us real, in the way that we want to become real. To love so truly and completely that sometimes it even hurts, because we don't mind.
That is the gift many of us are still hoping for; to love a child and to become parents.
Until that happens, we become real in our quest, through our pain and disappointments. You are already real through your love for a child that has yet to be.
So we will wait. Together. For that child.
May you find that gift soon.
Follow Lisa on Google+
Gratitude from the RMA CT Fertility Team
It's been four years since the PathtoFertility blog started. From the very first year, on special occasions, we collected the thoughts and sentiments of the Reproductive Medicine Associates of CT fertility team members to share with you.
This Thanksgiving, we celebrate the fourth anniversary of PathtoFertility and we continue the tradition of sharing what each one of us is grateful for.
For me, that one is easy. I'm grateful for you, my readers, sharers and inspirers.
Read on to hear from the other members of the RMACT team.
And Happy Thanksgiving ~Lisa Rosenthal
Thanksgiving Thoughts and Love
I am thankful for my Mother and her unconditional love. No matter how difficult her day was she saw beauty in her life. She taught me the importance of listening and learning and I am thankful for all that I do learn from my patients and co-workers every day.
I’m grateful for my family, friends, and the men and women who serve our country!
I am thankful for my girls. Their infectious laughter makes me smile. They are the best of friends and that relationship with each other is what I am most thankful for.
I am thankful for my family including my furry boy, Jake, and his unconditional love. I am thankful for my friends and all the wonderful times we share. I am thankful for all the great people that I work with and their help throughout the year. I am especially thankful to the RMA patients that I have had the good fortune to meet-please know that you are truly an inspiration to me. Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
I am thankful for my wonderful family and friends. I have truly been given a blessed life and hope that I can give back some of the joy I have received. Thanksgiving should be every day!
Today and every day I am thankful for my family, health and everything I have been blessed with….
I am thankful to work with great people that touch many lives and bring happiness to many families…
I am thankful for being able to say I love my job!
I am thankful for life, family, friends and my many blessings! I am also grateful for laughter because it fills me with joy and love it makes me feel what is means to truly be alive!
I am thankful for each beautiful new day when I awake and that I am healthy to enjoy each day. I’m thankful for the love and support of my family and that they too are healthy. I’m thankful for having a wonderful medical office to work for and with.
I’m grateful for my DVR which allows me to record my TV shows to watch without commercials. I’m grateful for the Empire Szechuan restaurant which delivers and gets the food to you within 20 min. I’m grateful for my home which greets me with warmth every time I walk in. And I’m grateful for my family who loves me, supports me, protects me and encourages me.
2013 has been a challenging year – so I am most thankful for getting through it stronger and more patient than before and grateful for what I have learned along the way. I am hoping for all of us to have a more peaceful and joyous year ahead.
I am also grateful for the more lighthearted and enjoyable moments and whimsical discoveries I made this year – the eggplant frites at The Little Pub, dancing in the kitchen with my son to 80’s dance music, swimming with dolphins, renewed love of all things Andy Cohen, tank tops from Yummie Tummie, Dark Chocolate almond milk, and my Laura Mercier Caviar eye liner sticks.
i am grateful for my family, good health, great friends, and for a job I love that feels meaningful.
Shaun Williams, MD
I am grateful for the opportunity and trust given to me to help provide care for the individuals I see, and I am grateful for everyone at RMA who helps make that care as successful as possible.
Also for many other things: those that teach us and our families, the wonderful new office we have in Trumbull, and the recognition that just being in the here and now is an amazing thing—just to name a few.
I’m thankful for everyday things in life that bring delight, relaxation, and peace to the day.
I am most thankful for the team who gave me my beautiful twin daughters through RMA and for the support I received. I am also thankful for being able to “pay it forward: for others who are going through treatment and I am able to share my experience to help make their journey less stressful. Also thankful for my family who is extremely supportive who taught me to never give up amongst other life lessons. Last but not least, I am thankful for a wonderful husband that stands by my side through the toughest times.
Mark Leondires, MD
I am grateful and honored for the opportunity to work in such a wonderful field, with such wonderful colleagues, and with patients on their fertility journeys. While not everything works out in life how we want, working through the peaks and valleys is what living is truly about. I am thankful that I am always able to keep hope on the horizon as my guide.
I am thankful for life… Waking up every day and having the energy to work, so I would be able to provide for all my kids as a single parent… I am thankful for working for a great place and helping others create a family…
I am reminded every day to be grateful for what I have (even through the struggles) I am able to go home to those smiling faces who depend on me to lead them in the right direction in life… I am thankful for my kids who made me who I am today…
I am thankful for my children, my family, and my dog who takes Prozac (literally).
On the shallow side, I am thankful for my fireplace, The Grinch, and my Vitamix blender.
I am also thankful that the people I work with make me laugh all the time.
I am thankful for my husband, children and my grandchildren, who are all a joy.
I am greatful for my position with RMA!
I am blessed to have my daughter who just made High Honors with her (7) A’s and (2) B’s
I am thankful that I found a doctor and my daughter’s physical pain is easing up
I am grateful for my health..the ability to get up and get out into the world every day is heaven. I recently had a scare with corneal abrasions which made so thankful for the ability to see and to function.
I am thankful for my beautiful children who wouldn’t be here if not for what we do every day. I am thankful for what I had to endure in order to get them in my arms as that gave me the courage I never knew I had and that it ultimately put me on the path I travel today with RMA. (I didn’t mean for that to rhyme, lol)
I am grateful for my husband and family. Through all the struggles I have had, their constant support helps me to be a stronger person.
Spencer Richlin, MD
I am thankful for working with such a talented reproductive staff. Their talent and expertise helps our patients become pregnant and makes my job easy and successful
I am thankful for my amazing husband and wonderful family. Without them, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. They give me so much strength, happiness, love and support. I just feel so blessed to have them in my life. They are what truly matters to me.
I am thankful first and foremost for my health, and the health of my family. I am grateful for all the blessings in my life; a loving husband, the family I always dreamed of, a warm roof over my head, friends that care for me, the opportunity to work in a field where I am a small part of a team making a difference in people’s lives. I am also thankful that although things haven’t always been the way I have planned in life I have the support network and capacity to hope for a better tomorrow.
This Thanksgiving I am thankful for my loving family. We are all very busy between work, school, and sports and it’s very easy to get lost in our crazy lives. Taking the time to think of my family truly makes me feel loved
I am grateful that I have options; that I am free to make choices.
Being a woman.
Conversations that make me think and the people I have them with
My wrinkles because they are evidence of my laughter and wisdom throughout the years
Love, and that I am loved
The taste and smell of coffee. Also, my new favorite smell…Expresso candles
A great pedicure
The kindness of strangers
Surviving storms of 2013
The hard times: Because they've made me stronger and wiser, and the good times even better.
Friends I've yet to make: I look forward to meeting them! Hmm, I wonder who they'll be.
I’m grateful for all of the disappointments, failures and tragedies that I’ve survived in my lifetime. They are proof that there is no obstacle I can’t overcome and that as long as my feet are pointed in the right direction, all I need to do is keep walking.
Joshua Hurwitz, MD
Reproductive Medicine shows us the best and worst of times for our patients. I am always thankful that the worst times are followed by the best, and that our patients trust our team enough to help them through their medical and personal journeys to help build their families.
Lisa Rosenthal's Google+
A Thanksgiving Offering to Fertility Patients
PathtoFertility is a team effort. A Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut team effort. Here's a blog by one of our most beloved team members, Nurse Practioner, Monica Moore. One of the most read blogs in the last four years was a blog that she wrote about how it felt to be "on the other end of the negative pregnancy test phone call". Today's blog is about gratitude. Me, I'm grateful for Monica for putting together her thoughts in such an eloquent and poignant way to share with us all. ~Lisa Rosenthal
It’s Thanksgiving week, and I was speaking to one of my sweet and beautiful patients who had just been told that she had no normal embryos to transfer post Comprehensive Chromosome Screening (CCS) cycle.
Of course, we were both upset at the results, but, true to her character, she accepted the results graciously, even taking the time during this difficult and emotionally charged conversation to thank me and Dr. Hurwitz for our role in her care. Unbelievable that she would think of us when our role lately seems to be only that of harbinger of bad news.
First, a little background. (She was asked and gave permission for me to share her story anonymously.) She married late in life, not finding her true partner until she was 39.They quickly realized that they would need help creating their family, so she came in for her initial consult at age 40. Luckily, she was able to achieve a pregnancy as a result of an IVF cycle, and her little boy is now almost 2 and the center of their busy lives.
Knowing that she wanted more children, she returned to see us at age 42, and was told that she “had the ovaries of a younger woman,” that is, she had many follicles and blood markers that indicate good ovarian function. She completed her first IVF cycle with CCS and it was found that she had no normal embryos. She wanted to do another cycle right away, but it was financially a challenge as her insurance was not covering any of these cycles due to her age. She was able to ask for a loan from a family member, and completed another cycle, where the embryos made never made it to the blastocyst stage and were unable to be biopsied. The most recent cycle was only able to occur as a result of her taking out a loan against her 401k in order to finance it and, as stated above, no normal embryos.
Apparently her “younger” ovaries were deceiving us. They looked younger by clinical markers but were not making good quality, chromosomally normal embryos.
What next? This is a smart lady in the medical field, able to easily understand the language of fertility treatment. Dr Hurwitz has reviewed all of the stats and the numbers with her, she knows the chance of achieving a healthy pregnancy with her own eggs is low and, at this point, she and her husband do not want to utilize donor eggs.
Problem is that she is a person, not a compilation of numbers and statistics. An amazing, giving person with feelings and desires who is also a great mom. She deserves to have another baby. We discussed her options and she realizes that if she went to a bank to ask for money for an investment, that her “rate of return” would be low in this case. But what is the risk of not trying? How do you quantify that? Would she always wonder “what if?” It’s just money, right? What about the fact that she is using money that she would be using for her existing family (college funds, home repairs) to finance the potential for another child. How does she reconcile that in her decision-making process?
At the end of our conversation she asked me the question, “What would you do if you were me? If I was your sister or your friend”? I actually consider her a friend, we have known each other a few years, shared feelings and thoughts and my suggestions are important to her decision-making. I can hear her pain and understand that she doesn’t feel that her family is complete, but I also know the financial and emotional investment that she has made for the past 2 years and see the toll this is taking on her.
I told her that I honestly didn’t know (not helpful, I realize). I can’t possibly know what it feels like to have to make this kind of decision, but what I do know is how it feels to be inadequate. All my years of experience and degrees from school haven’t prepared me to make her dream come true. What I can do, though, and what I plan to do, is to help her through this process, regardless of outcome.
It takes courage to open up and share feelings and experiences.
I will admit that even if we are not experiencing your exact experience, we share your sense of helplessness.
So this message is a tribute to her and others like her who let us into their lives and invite us to be part of their very personal journeys.
We are grateful.
~Monica Moore MSN, RNC
Thanksgiving thoughts, during the days before the holiday.
Preparations are in full swing. Travel arrangements are also being commenced or coordinated, whether driving, flying or picking people up.
Cooking or meal planning has started and shopping for ingredients is obvious when you walk into any grocery store.
Expectations are high. We are to be thankful, grateful, happy, content.
Uh, huh. Except for when we're not.
Infertility and Gratitude
Today's blog is about infertility and gratitude and thanksgiving.
So many of us experiencing infertility do feel gratitude about so many things. I know this because I get to speak to so many of you.
Here's what I've heard lately, from you, about gratitude and thanksgiving, in your voices:
- "I'm grateful for the strength and foundation of my marriage"
- "I'm grateful for the support and help my friends have given me"
- "Every single day, I find things that bring me joy"
- "I'm so thankful for my job, which is so fulfilling"
- "The support that I feel from my family holds me up"
- "How interesting to see where support comes from, unexpected people who understand what I'm going through"
- "I love noticing the things that make other people smile"
- "Music brings me joy, even on the worst days"
- "Knowing that my husband is there for me, means everything"
- "I know that a child will enter my life, one way or another"
- "My faith sustains me"
- "I'm so grateful for the medical care and attention that I get from my doctors and medical staff"
- "Infertility has deepened many relationships for me, including the one with myself. Who knew I had the strength to go through fertility treatment, with shots, and medication and more?
Just little tidbits that I have gotten from all of you. You may recognize your words or your sentiments. Or you may be inspired by someone else's words and thoughts.
Thanksgiving is a time of hope and expectation.
That can be a lot tougher to create than a Thanksgiving dinner.
Would you please tell me what you're grateful for this Thanksgiving?
Lisa Rosenthal's Google+
What RMACT's Infertility Doctor Asked and Why I Listened
How many shopping days are there until Christmas? Dr. Leondires, RMACT's Medical Director and lead infertility doctor, asked that question the other day. It was in context with how fast time it flying; that the summer is almost half over already. Still it was a shock to think about Christmas, cold weather, and snow, while in sandals and a short-sleeved dress.
I was reading about thankfulness this morning as part of my meditation routine. It was an older book; the term more commonly used these days is gratitude. Reading about thankfulness brought me back to Dr. Leondires' question the other day. In quickly looking up the definitions, thankfulness and gratitude are very closely related. Both are connected to the idea of appreciating a benefit that is recieved.
Love that idea.
Seeing the Benefits of Fertility Treatment
With infertility and being in fertility treatment, benefits recieved are abounding. There are so many moments of things going just right. So many positive indications that conception will occur and that a pregnancy will be healthy and to term. Do you see it that way? Is it possible to shift your gaze and notice those possibilities?
I've decided to start a new count down. Instead of counting down to the holiday season, full of gift giving and receiving, I'm going to count down to Thanksgiving instead.
120 days until Thanksgiving. November 28 this year.
I have a challenge for you. How about waking up every morning and writing down one thing you are grateful for? Starting my day that way is very appealing. Especially when the alternative could be feeling anxious about what needs to get done for the day.
Infertility is a challenge that can be met in many ways. One possibility is fear. Another is grief. Yet another is anxiety. There is that possibility that we meet it with thankfulness. Thankful for all the tiniest and mightiest of things that have allowed us to come to a place where we are considering children in our lives.
I had a hard day yesterday. Just did.
I looked up at the sky, saw the sun, the clouds, the shifting between them. The simple movement in the sky made me smile.
Found a way to be thankful. For a smile.
Thanks Dr. Leondires for the reminder to countdown to gift giving. Whether it's the holiday season or, for me, Thanksgiving. The benefit that I received by hearing about the Christmas season was a deeper appreciation of these:
- summer weather
- open windows
- lighter clothes
- the smell of the earth after it rains
- thunder storms
- the ocean
- cool breezes
- hot sun
- lying on the grass
- skys that stay lit until late in the evening
- dinner on the porch
- breakfast on the front steps
Thankfulness--appreciation of benefits received.
Lisa Rosenthal's Google+
I give thanks
I find those places within myself
that fill and overflow with light and hope
My heart brings attention to those places that feel dark
filled with dread
I open myself to gratitude
for the moment I have right here
I turn my face towards the blessings that I experience every moment
Waking, breathing, moving, thinking, hearing, seeing
My senses remind me that I am alive
I am grateful to have today to live
I am grateful that you are here with me
I am thinking of you
Holding space for you
Keeping my inner ear open to your pain
and your joy
Remember that you are not alone
I am here for you
We are unrepeatable beings
There has never been a living being precisely like you before, nor will there ever be again
We are here for a purpose and a reason
When we open our hearts, we discover our inner teachers
We find our purpose and we live into it
I give thanks for you
And I remember:
You are beautiful
You are gracious
You are strong
You are smart
You are capable
You are healthy
You are whole and complete
We give thanks together, for this day, to breathe, to live, to love
We--those of us who have undergone fertility treatment--know what you have to give up.
It's a long list.
It starts with giving up your dreams of how you conceive, how to tell your family, the joy of seeing the little stick turn the right color and/or shape.
It proceeds from there to giving up your privacy, coffee, liquor and more.
Today, this blog is about the treats that you get from infertility and being in fertility treatment.
You get to be sober from not drinking alcohol--seeing the gorgeous, glorious greens of this spring with wide, open eyes; feeling the gentle caress of the breeze and the sweet, subtle smell of phlox and lilacs--with nothing between you and the experience in front of you.
You get to be calmer from not having caffeine jitters. You get to experience what it feels like to be tired when you are tired and wide awake when you are wide awake with less artificial stimulants. Sleeping will become easier as you settle into the more natural rythmms of your body.
Experience the greens, reds, oranges, and yellows of your food as you make healthier food choices. It's strawberry season! What a glorious red, what an unbelievable taste. It makes processed sugar just plain silly.
There's the opportunity of getting to know your partner, friends, family and even your work colleagues in a more intimate, genuine way, as you share what you're comfortable with about your fertility experience. You will be surprised at who is comforting, who offers tender and helpful advice and who can listen quietly and lovingly.
Use this experience, that you did not choose and did not want, to learn about your boundries. Find out what the term privacy means to you and how to enforce it in ways that keep your heart and mind open to compassionate support. Learn more about yourself than you ever thought you would, as you see yourself navigate sadness, disappointment and hope and elation.
It's Friday. It's gorgeous out. Stunning. The greens of spring this year make the shades of fall look tired. Look up, look out, and bring it back in. It will light you up from the inside out.
I'm focusing on gratitude today.
Balance yesterday. Gratitude today.
I'm grateful to look out my window, beyond the broken treem from our last major storm, and enjoy the misty light that is the world in this moment. Grateful to hear the shower on, listening to my husband murmur to the cat that he so adores.
I'm grateful for my fabulous job at RMACT. Oh, yes, so incredibly grateful. I do work that I love and feel passionate about and I get to work with a team of people that I adore. No exaggeration. Robin, Greg, Tally, Alicia, you guys especially. I work with doctors that I respect and admire. Dr's Leondires, Richlin, Hurwitz, and Murdock. And it just spreads out from there. Our clinical staff, our lab staff, our finance staff, our MA's, our administrative staff. Very full of gratitude for all of you this morning.
Check out Dr. Richlin on channel 12, he rocked the interview, because he was genuine and compassionate.
I feel very grateful for Fertile Yoga and the women who show up. They talk, laugh, question, make great suggestions.
You are my heroes!
Remember the mantra we listened to last night during Fertile Yoga~
I am beautiful,
I am blissful,
I am bountiful,
Yes, indeed. Full of gratitude this morning.
Gratitude is the heart's memory- French proverb
I would rather be able to appreciate things I can not have than to have things I am not able to appreciate- Elbert Hubbard
Two quotes about being grateful for today. I couldn't pick just one so I'm giving you both. In honor of it being Friday.That way you can pick the one that resonates for you.
While I've always know the phrase TGIF, until today, I have never appreciated it quite so much.
Because today, I'm so unbelievably grateful it's Friday.
I'm grateful for my infertility, today and last night. If it weren't for my experiences with infertility, I would not have had the honor and privilage of sharing Fertile Yoga with the very special and dynamic women who came to class tonight. I would not have the life I have right now, if it weren't for infertility.
I'm over the top grateful my husband is home and will be for the weekend. I'm grateful for his strength, grace, sense of humor and his presence. I'm grateful that he came home last night, exhausted, physically sore and still had it in him to fix the fuse box and go back outside in the rain for the dental floss.
I'm grateful for the people that I have in my life. I'm grateful to be as healthy as I am.
I'm grateful to do work that I believe in and that means so much to me.
I'm grateful for the ability to love the way that I do. With my full heart. Irregardless of whether I should, I do.
I'm grateful for my wonderful colleagues that always offer help and a smile. That truly work as a team, helping and supporting each other as well as all the men and women who are struggling to conceive. I have mentioned it before, but it's overdue, RMACT is a family that I feel grateful and blessed to have in my life at this time.
I'm grateful for my mother and my sisters, who drive me simply crazy, keep me anchored and grounded and are alive to do so.
I'm grateful that right this minute, I do not hear any rain!
I am grateful for those friends in my life who are there in real ways. Who I can tell the truth to, who I can answer honestly. I'm grateful that they see all of me, the good, the bad and the reallly awful and love me anyway.
I'm grateful for those in my heart, in my past, because I do remember. And I do believe that gratitude is the heart's memory. I appreciate those no longer actively in my life. And I miss some of them tremendously.
My heart remembers.
And I am grateful for the love. For I am truly loved.
What are you grateful for?
If I had a child at 26, when I first started trying to conceive, things would have been different. Without infertility, what would have been?
I would be divorced. I am quite sure that my marriage, so young, would not have survived the stress of raising a child.
I would not be living in the gorgeous, green, vibrant, perfectly suited home that I am living in now. Not this one, anyway.
I would not know Julianne, Julie, Pam, my "close every restaurant, talk about everything under the sun" friends.
I would not be part of a food co op that has quietly been in existence for over 18 years, creating less waste in our environment.
I would not have the neighbor/friend/yogi from down the street, Lisa. The one you could call in the middle of the night and not think twice if it was an emergency.
There are other children in my life, that I would not know. Other dear friends, Kath, especially and all of the family I know through her, that would not have been experienced.
I would not be able to meditate in the morning, reveling in the birds calling and the outrageous green of the spring.
My second home, YogaSpace would not be such an integral part of who I am, nor the students who I have come to consider family.
I would not be working with RMACT, with people that I respect and like, doing work that I am proud of every day of my life.
I would not have had the experience of my sisters and Mother standing by me every step of the way, no matter what.
I know that my life would have been full in other ways.
But it would not have been this life.
Which I cherish and am so grateful for.
Would I have chosen infertility?
I understand that it has helped shape my character, my choices and my life.
For that, I am grateful.