Treating Infertility and Harm Reduction - What Habits Can You Change?
Infertility is a pain in the a**. Let's just agree that's true. It's not fun or what you would choose. We give up a lot when it comes to dealing with infertility. Intimacy, privacy, spontaneity and more. Below is a short list of what we talked about last night, that had to be given up for fertility treatment.
No coffee. No cigarettes. No recreational drugs. No artificial sweeteners. Not too much sugar. Not over exercising. No sex for a while after a transfer. No gluten for some of us. No dairy for others. No white flour for most of us.
That's a lot of nots. A LOT.
We know that those are all good things to give up. We all know that giving those things up wil make us healthier. We also know that most people, most women, don't have to give up those things to become pregnant. And it's frustrating. Because we give those things up and we add fertility treatment and it still doesn't work nearly as fast or as easily as we would like. At least most of the time.
Our Fertile Yoga Guilty Pleasures
Last night in Fertile Yoga, we made a list of treats. Delicious, wonderful, non-caloric treats. No guilt (not too much guilt) treats.
Here are a few:
- US magazine (you know who you are!)
- Decaff coffee
- TeenMom 2 television series (I am NOT making this up)
- Gum chewing
- Reading of any kind
- Bubble baths with candles
- Hikes in the wood
- Cuddling our animals
- Declining invitations to plan baby showers
Giving Up Our Bad Habits for Harm Reduction
Then we talked about habits. Specifically "bad" habits. What we'd like to give up or change. A dear friend from long ago wrote about a program called harm reduction. It's an alternative to giving something up entirely or all at once. Harm reduction asks you to look at a behavior, see what's the most destructive and see how you can take it down a whole bunch of levels. (This is me, paraphrasing Harm Reduction. For specifics, if you are interested, please look here.)
What would that mean?
It might mean eating less chocolate, not giving it up entirely. Smoking less cigarattes or using a patch to quit. It might mean adding decaff coffee to regular coffee and switching over gradually. It might mean a hike in the woods instead of a half marathon.
Harm Reduction is a wonderful way of easing off things, if you can do it.
Last night, we all made an agreement of what we would change or shift for the week. We decided to reconvene next week and see how we did.
Except for me. I couldn't think of a bad habit that I wanted to shift or stop. I had no problem coming up with extra treats though, my heart and mind can think of endless treats. So I had some extra work to do last night and this morning. It came to me that one of my bad habits is procrastination or avoidance. Not a big surprise to those who know or live with me. So I found a committment to shift after all.
My committment for the next week, to talk about with the others, is to clean my house forty five minutes a day. Shifting away from avoiding cleaning all together or feeling and trying to do it all at once.
Time to clean house.
We've all made our commitments to shifting behavior for the next week.
Anyone want to join us?
A Fertility Story: Heart Disease History and Going Red for Women
I'm wearing red today, allied with Go Red for Women. It's a color that I look fairly dreadful in.
I'm wearing it anyway.
It's not Valentine's Day. I'm not dressed up for Halloween, (although you could be forgiven for thinking so).
I'm wearing red today because it's a day to bring awareness to heart disease for women. A day to bring awareness to fighting heart disease in women.
It's a subject that's near and dear to my heart. As close as infertility is and that's saying a lot.
Infertility was an unexpected grief and loss. One that I shouldn't have expected, at 26 years old. Most of us don't expect infertility at 26. Or 30. Or 35. Or even 40. Some of us don't know when to expect infertility.
I know at 26, I didn't expect it. It was a most unwelcome surprise.
Heart Disease Awareness
Heart disease, on the other hand, I was raised to expect. My uncle was one of the first people in the United States to have a quadruple bypass. He was in his early 40's. My paternal grandmother died of a massive heart attack in her late 40's.
I grew up with an understanding of heart disease. It's part of my family history in a way that infertility was most certainly not. My mother had three children in less than five years, starting when she was 23. No infertility there.
Heart disease was present in my home; awareness grew there as I got older. When I grew up, margarine was considered a wonderful substitution for butter and was eagerly embraced as heart healthy. These days we know about trans fatty acids and most of us eschew margarine in favor of other much heart-healthier choices.
We ate a lot of salads, fruits and chicken in my family and not a lot of red meat. It was a very conscious decision on my mother's part, not to add to the genetic load already weighted against my father's favor. I envied how my friends and their families ate, when I was a guest in their homes.
These days, I eat the way my mother brought me up and don't envy anyone their food choices.
These days, infertility and heart disease are both part of my family history. Heart disease is part of my history, my genetic code. I eat in a healthy way, I exercise regularly, and I try and sleep enough. These are the pieces that I can address. I can't change my DNA but I can do everything possible to avoid adding to the possibility of heart disease in myself.
Infertility is also part of my personal history. When I give my medical history these days, it's a significant piece; the medications that I used, the surgeries I underwent, the pregnancy losses that I experienced.
National Wear Red Day and Heart Disease Prevention
Today, I will wear red, for heart disease. I will do more than participate in National Wear Red Day, though; I will eat the way my mother taught me. I will celebrate my food by eating the colors of the rainbow. I will exercise my heart, through aerobic exercise, even when I don't feel like it. I will decrease my stress through my practice of yoga, every morning, rain or shine, tired or not. I will protect myself from heart disease, in all the ways that are possible.
I don't know what I could have done differently about preventing my own infertility. I do know that my continuing to be involved in fertility awareness is my calling. Helping anyone avoid infertility or helping make their path to creating their families shorter and less painful is where my passion lives.
I grew up expecting and actively avoiding heart disease.
I didn't know that infertility would find its way in and stay so long. I didn't know that.
And now it's my most significant health history.
Today I wear red to honor my family history. My grandmother, my uncle, my cousins and my father, who died too young. Of a heart attack.
My first family history. Before infertility found its way home.
Keeping up appearances?
What does that mean when it comes to infertility?
Think teeth, eyes, exercise, food, heart and more. We have this one physical body in which to move around our lives with, just the one. It has a lot of pieces and parts that need tender, loving care.
If you are focusing on infertility and fertility treatment, you may be neglecting the rest of you.
All of you matters. Every single piece that adds up to you as a whole.
Take care of all of you by making and going to the appointments that keep all of you healthy.
Do the following, not necessarily in this order. You know what needs to be done first.
The thing you feel most guilt about neglecting?
Get that one off your list first and feel the relief!
- Your eyes checked
- Your teeth cleaned
- Speak with a nutritionist
- Complete physical
- Any other specialists that are indicated, including dermatologists, cardiologists, and more. The specialists that you need to see to keep your physical self in the best health possible.
- Get yourself exercising, in or out of the gym
Fertility treatment takes a lot of focus and attention. But we are not made up simply of our reproductive organs and our ability to have a baby.
Take care of all of you. You deserve it.
I’m catching up this summer.
Not on my reading.
Not with old friends.
With my health.
I’m going to the dentist.
Go to the gym.
That’s my list.
Your list may be very different. (Although we all need to visit the dentist.)
Still, most likely, you have a list.
Is there something that you are neglecting because you are in fertility treatment?
Some maintenance that you should be more diligent about, but aren’t being because of the demands of infertility?
It can feel like enough, just dealing with your fertility specialist. Enough to go for fertility monitoring or uterine or sperm testing.
It can feel like enough, during an IUI (intrauterine insemination) or IVF (in vitro fertilization) cycle to monitor the medications, ultrasounds and blood draws.
Still, there’s that list. Nagging at you.
Take a moment and pay attention.
Catch up. Make these other appointments. Go for a walk.
You are a whole person.
Take care of yourself.
All of you.
Happy Thanksgiving to our patients and patients everywhere from the staff of Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut!!!!
Happy Thanksgiving to all of our wonderful patients! Let us all be thankful for all the wonderful things that we have and hopeful for all the wonderful things that our future will bring.
Thanksgiving is a time for family. We are all part of a family with hopes and dreams. As we walk together with friends and family we must be thankful for what we have with a hopeful eye to the future. To all of our patients (extended family) I wish you the best this day and hope you do reach your dreams in the future. Or (touch the sky in the future)
I am thankful for life, family and friends.
I am thankful for family, friends, and magnificent co-workers.
I am very thankful for a wonderful 2010; a seamless wedding, wonderful in-laws, great job, and amazingly supportive friends and family.
I am thankful for the opportunity to be able to slow down a little and share a wonderful meal with busy family and friends.
On Thanksgiving we have to savour the people we are around and celebrating with. Be in the here an now and enjoy the moment of the holiday. We all deserve to have fun on Thanksgiving. Be Mindful, which means to focus and enjoy the little things - smell of the turkey, or the baking of a pie, or your company.
I am thankful for my family and both our grandchildren and especially for our rmact ivf grandson!
I’m grateful for my wonderful father and boyfriend, without them I’d be nowhere in life. I am also grateful for this new job I was blessed with. Amazing co-workers, patients. Couldn’t get any better than this!
I am thankful for working in such a great place with such amazing people to be able to help our patients achieve wonderful families.
I am so thankful for the love, support and encouragement of my family and friends (and, on a lighter note, I am also thankful for Glee (my favorite!) and my IPAD). Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
I am so very grateful for another amazing year of wonderful memories from families, friends and of course our patients at RMACT.
I am very Thankful for 2 girls that started of as co-workers and have become family to me. I am also thankful for having amazing kids and a husband.
I am thankful for friends, family and good health.
I'm thankful for my families, both at home & work. And for our patients getting pregnant and knowing that we have a small part in their success & happiness. Happy Thanksgiving,
I am thankful for the health of my children.
I am thankful for having the opportunity to care for patients that are trying to expand their family.I am thankful for my family.I am thankful that my sister is cancer free after 5 years. I have so much more to be thankful for, the list goes on and on
I am very thankful for a very supportive husband, family and friends. As I too desire to become a mom and this is the time when it becomes a little sadden for me personally since I have brother who has 2 babies, Devon who is 14mths, and Chase who is now 12weeks. The reason I’m so thankful is for the simple fact my family tries to incorporate me into their little lives. I love all of my nieces and nephews as my own, but I look very forward to the day when I give birth to a healthy baby in whom my husband and I can just simple adore. I just don’t give up hope…
I’m grateful for: HOUSE on Mondays; GLEE on Tuesdays; HUMAN TARGET on Wednesdays; FRINGE on Thursdays; and Simon works on Fridays…
I am thankful for my wonderful family, friends, and co workers who have supported me and have always been there. I am thankful for hellos and smiles I’m able to share with everyone each day! Happy Thanksgiving!
I am thankful for my family and health.
I am very grateful to work with such a caring, dedicated team of people at RMA. I am also grateful that my own struggle with nfertility paved the way for me to have such a rewarding career. Lastly, I am so grateful to the couples who let me share their fertility journey, and who never cease to amaze me with their strength and perseverance to become parents.
With the many obstacles that may have happened in my life, I am grateful to overcome challenges and succeed by choosing to be happy and joyful for the moment.
This time of year makes me think of all that I am thankful for which of course includes my family & health, but I am also so grateful for the kindness of strangers and generousity of their hearts time and again.
I am thankful for my Patients. As I share my knowledge, I end every visit with a greater understanding and professional growth- from my patient discussions. Also, my mother was a great role model. She showed me how optimizing her health through healthy eating, spiritual growth, and physical fitness helped her face her daily life mental and physical challenges. I am thankful for the opportunity of working with a wonderful RMA team of doctors and staff who support my nutrition / wellness passion and offer excellent, comprehensive reproductive healthcare.
I am thankful for my wonderful family,good health and for my JOB! Happy Thanksgiving to all!!
I am grateful to have such great people to work with!
To all the RMACT patients I am thankful for the opportunity to know so many of you and be a part of you journey. Wishing you peace on this Thanksgiving and success in the year ahead!
I'm thankful for my patients, who teach me something new about hope every day.