Infertility Support: The Most & Least Helpful Things to Say About Pregnancy
It's an oldie, but goodie. Unfortunately, some things don't change when it comes to dealing with infertility support. At least, not much. The places we get bombarded by pregnancy anouncements have expanded to social media. That wasn't true five years ago or ten years ago. These days there are very few places to escape hearing and seeing pregnancy news. Facebook these days even has ultrasounds of friends pregnancies. If you could use a little help about what to ask your friends and families to avoid saying, read on. There's something here for you, I guarantee it.
If you having been reading this blog for over a year, the below lists will be unfamiliar to you. If you've read it, maybe now is the time to comment on it, or add to it!
In Fertile Yoga this past weekend, we discussed things that our friends, family and colleagues say that are unhelpful and things that are helpful. I figured now was a good time to reprint this as many of had not seen it. Below is a list similar to what my best friend and I formulated 20 years ago, 17 years ago, 10 years ago, 2 years ago. I remember copying the list and handing it to family members, whether in the words below or in a slightly different form.
Infertile Support: 5 Most Helpful Things to Say
... from a family member or friend | 5 cosas más útil que decir-de un familiar o amigo
I am here to listen, I won't judge or suggest or offer help. I'll just listen. (Estoy aquí para escuchar, no voy a juzgar o sugerir u ofrecer ayuda. Voy a escuchar.)
Whatever you choose to share with me will be kept in the strictest confidence. (Lo que usted decide compartir conmigo se mantendrá en la más estricta confidencialidad.)
I'm here for you no matter what. (Estoy aquí para ustedes, no importa qué.)
I will not pry or ask too many questions. (No voy a curiosear o hacer demasiadas preguntas.)
If you would like some company at the doctor, I will be there for you. (Si desea alguna compañía en el Dr. estaré allí para usted.)
Infertility Support: 10 Things Never to Say
10 cosas que nunca decir
Things happen for a reason. (Las cosas suceden por una razón.)
Maybe God doesn't mean for you to have children. (Tal vez Dios no significa para usted tener hijos.)
Relax and take a vacation, you'll get pregnant! (Relajarse y tomar unas vacaciones, usted quedar embarazada!)
Adopt a baby, and then you'll have your own baby! (Adoptar un bebé, y entonces tendrá su propio bebé!)
You're lucky, you won't have to get huge or be up in the middle of the night. (Tienes suerte, usted no tendrá que conseguir enormes, o estar en medio de la noche.)
Not everyone is meant to have children. (No todo el mundo tiene la intención de tener hijos.)
Be grateful for what you do have. (Sea agradecido por lo que tienen.)
I'll give you one of mine! (Te daré uno de los míos!)
Have puppies, they're easier. (Los cachorros tienen, son más fáciles.)
Have you tried this-treatment-this-doctor-this-herb, I heard it worked for so and so. (¿Has probado este tratamiento-esta-médico-esta hierba, he oído que trabajó para esto y lo otro.)
10 Things I Wish I Could Say About Getting Pregnant
10 Cosas que me gustaría poder decir que en quedar embarazada.
1. I wish I could be fat and pregnant. (Ojalá pudiera ser gorda y embarazada.)
2. I wish I could be exhausted from nursing and being up all night. (Me gustaría poder estar agotada a partir de la enfermería y está toda la noche.)
3. I wish I could celebrate Mother's Day as a Mother. (Me gustaría poder celebrar el Día de las Madres como una Madre.)
4. I wish that I could have a child the old fashioned way. (Ojalá que yo pudiera tener un hijo a la manera antigua.)
5. I wish that I could attend my best friends' baby showers and their children's birthday parties without crying. (Ojalá que yo pudiera asistir duchas de mis mejores amigos 'bebé y los partidos de cumpleaños de sus hijos sin llorar.)
6. I wish everyone could understand how incredibly sad I feel. (Ojalá todo el mundo podía entender cómo me siento increíblemente triste.)
7. I wish I could do the things that I know make me feel better. (Me gustaría poder hacer las cosas que sé que me sienta mejor.)
8. I wish I didn't have to miss work/social engagements/family functions because I need to be at the doctors. (Me gustaría no tener que faltar al trabajo / compromisos sociales / funciones de la familia, porque tengo que estar en el de los médicos.)
9. I wish I didn't have to have to experience another birthday or New Year's without a child. (Me gustaría no tener a la experiencia de otro cumpleaños o Año Nuevo sin un niño.)
10. I wish my nurse would call and tell me that I'm finally pregnant. (Me gustaría que mi enfermera llamada y me dicen que por fin estoy embarazada.)
Thank you to Carrie Van Steen for revising this list and getting it translated. Carrie is also THE person responsible for putting together our Ladies-Night-Out evenings in Danbury and Norwalk. I love our dedicated staff!
What would you like to add? What did we leave out? Come on, you must have a suggestion!
Top 10 Fertility Health Do's and Don'ts
Too much information.
In the guise of giving as much fertility health information as possible, to be as thorough and comprehensive as I can be, evidently for some of you, I may be confusing. PathtoFertility, the blog you are currently reading has recently celebrated it's third birthday. Five blogs a week, fifty two weeks a year, times three; there's a lot of information here.
For those of you out there who would like to know the basic things to do and not do, it can be overwhelming. So, pared down, if you are not in fertility treatment or seeing a board certified reproductive endocrinologist and simply want the benefit of being as fertility healthy as possible, then here are the basics. If you become interested in any of the items listed, there are blogs on this site that will go in the why's, why not's, and other details.
Sleep a minimum of seven hours a night
Take a good prenatal vitamin with folic acid
Excercise mindfully. Walk, don't run. Yoga, yes, not hot yoga
Eat a healthy diet, with plenty of colorful vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, fruit, good oils
Drink plenty of healthy, non-caffeinated, non soda fluids
These are your bare minimums. Think of it as your foundation. There are many other ways to enhance your health and improve how you are feeling. Without these foundational elements, nothing else that you will do will have a lot of efficacy.
These Are Only Suggestions to Help You Get Pregnant
Having a cup of coffee or a glass of wine will not mean that you will never become pregnant. Or even that you will not become pregnant during the cycle in which you have those things. Nor will having a cookie or a bowl of ice cream. These things, after all, are not birth control. They will not create a miscarriage or an unhealthy embryo or fetus.
These are suggestions for you to be able to use as ways to create that stable foundation for a healthy pregnancy and baby. These are suggestions for you to become a healthier person, which is the foundation for a healthy pregnancy and baby.
We are all human beings. We all do the best that we can. Even with these foundation items, there will be times when you indulge. Forgive yourself and move on. In other words, do the best that you can. Be mindful.
Fertility Treatment and Adopting the Fertile GPS Mindset
Two days ago, I wrote about my first experience with a GPS. Making four right turns in a row. Which is a square circle. Yes, square circle. Coming back to exactly where I started in the first place. Not what we were looking to do that day. Not what I was looking to do in fertility treatment either. Regardless of my movements, attempts, fertility treatment protocols, ending up with a negative pregnancy test or ending up where I started, was absolutely not what I was looking to do.
My relationship with my own GPS was much more instructional. Her name is Cheryl. Cheryl Eunice (thank you Dr. Mark Leondires, for her middle name), to be exact. I love Cheryl. Probably much more than one should love an inanimate object. But I don't see her as an inanimate object. I see her, at the basest level as my co-pilot. I see her as my patient friend.
My Mixed Emotions About Cheryl Eunice
I used to find her really annoying. I don't even like to say that out loud anymore because it feels like an emotional betrayal. What I used to find annoying, repeating "recalculating," every time I missed a turn or even when I deliberately chose a different direction or street because I knew part of the way, became an object lesson. The specific definition of "object" courtesy of Merriam Webster Dictionary, is stirring an emotion.
One emotion that is stirred by Cheryl's ceaseless and enduring ability to recalculate is envy. I am envious that without anger, irritation or frustration, Cheryl is able to re-navigate to get to the end result, to arrive at the stated destination. She is calm. Each and every time, she is calm and unflustered. Regardless if I am sitting there swearing because I missed a turn or got stuck in a wrong lane and was unable to exit, Cheryl offers an alternative on how to arrive at my destination.
Calmly. Cheryl always offers her advice calmly. Two things that I envy about Cheryl is her calm and her eye on the goal. She doesn't get frustrated or angry at me that I misunderstood or ignored her directions. She also doesn't just give up in the middle. She is relentless, and insistent on arriving at the destination that I asked her to find.
My GPS Possess a Sense of Serenity That I Wish I Had While Undergoing Fertility Treatment
Serene, as defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary, is marked by or suggestive of utter calm and unruffled repose or quietude. Cheryl Eunice is serene. She reassesses the situation when a different direction has been taken and continues, calmly and serenely, to help me find my way to the destination of my choice. She doesn’t take the time and energy to complain, moan, whine, or argue about why something changed or got in the way (like I do). She doesn’t look to blame someone (like I do).
She doesn’t tell me or even imply that I am stupid, unworthy, arrogant or just plain annoying for not following her suggested route. Each time I make a detour, she accommodates my decision and continues to suggest a way for me to arrive at the destination that I set out to find. She never gets angry that I have ignored her or been unable to follow her directions. Serenely, she offers another option. And she finds her way to the destination.
Ultimately, this inanimate object (sorry Cheryl Eunice), has become my role model. She is who I would like to be when I grow up. I would have liked that serenity when I was in fertility treatment and all ways seemed to lead to walls. I would have liked to have navigated fertility protocols, accepting the changes more gracefully and understanding the necessity of having to make different plans.
I would like Cheryl Eunice’s serenity. I would like her ability to keep her eye on the destination. I would like her patience. I would like her kindness. I am grateful to have such a wonderful role model. Now, if I could just get her to tell me what she says in Liam Neeson’s voice, I would be all set.
Using a GPS is Like Undergoing Fertility Treatment
The first time I used a GPS (Global Positioning System) was in Boston. My best friend, Pamela, and I were attempting to drive to Boston IVF. We were the Executive Director and Assistant Executive Director of The American Fertility Association at the time. We had taken the train up to Boston for the meeting and then rented a car. At the time, GPS's were very new and uncommon to have in a rental car.
Neither one of us knew the city of Boston from a hole in the wall. We were inexperienced at that time with traveling, but we were not intimidated by new things or new places. And Boston was an American city, so how hard could it be to navigate? We were both very experienced New York City drivers. We were confident. So off we went.
Rented the car. Looked at a traditional map to get a vague idea of where we were going and found the car. If you have a GPS now, consider that the one we had was probably first generation GPS. And I do mean first. This trip was easily 15 years ago. Think big, clunky, not that easy to operate. We laughed ourselves silly figuring out how to enter the address and all other pertinent information. A conservative estimate of time would be twenty minutes to a half hour. Yep, we were laughing. We were also early so didn't feel the pressure of time.
Twenty minutes later, we're pulling away from the curb, confident that the GPS would guide us, which we were very grateful for as we had no real clue as to where we were going. And unlike NYC, Boston is barely on a grid system, with so many exceptions that there were no understandable rules about which way streets went or what to expect next.
First direction from the GPS. Make a right turn. OK, so far, so good. We made a right. Next direction from the GPS. Make a right turn. OK. Made a right turn. End of block, next direction, make a right turn. OK, done. End of that block, next direction, make a right turn. OK. Got it? Yeah, we ended up exactly where we started.
We're going to skip the conversation about why we listened to directions to put us in exactly the same place we started. That's another story, for another day. This was my introduction to using a GPS. Not the most auspicious beginning. An interesting phenomenon for that point in my life. Moving ahead, step by step and ending up right where you started.
Negative Pregnancy Tests Felt Like I Was Driving in Circles
Fertility treatment certainly felt like that. No matter what I did. Negative pregnancy test. After a while I stopped caring about the scenary looked like on the way. I stopped caring about the good news and the bad news. All I noticed was that I kept ending up in the same place. Negative pregnancy test. Or just to mix it up, positive pregnancy test one day, only to have a loss several weeks later. Either way, it was painful and frustrating. Either way, it was ending up exactly in the same place. Negative pregnancy test. At the beginning.
My fertility treatment felt like my first experience with a GPS. Only it wasn't nearly as funny or silly. I was much more attached to the outcome of fertility treatment than getting to a business appointment. Which leads me back to the title of today's blog. I want to be a Fertile GPS. Read tomorrow to find out why. Bet you have an idea or two all ready though.
Everything you have wanted is coming true.
Everything is going well. You've seen a heartbeat. You have gone from seeing and being treated by your reproductive endocrinologist to making an appointment with an obstetrician who will see you until your baby is delivered.
Perhaps you feel overjoyed.
It can be challenging to go from a practice where you may have seen or spoken to a medical staff person several times a week to having an apointment once a month for just a few minutes.
You may even feel that you need to see a high risk obstetrian because of infertility and fertility treatment. Actually fertility treatment does not automatically put you into a high risk category. Unless you have a specific medical condition or advanced maternal age or a history of pregnancy loss, you do not need to see a high risk specialist. And so you will be seeing someone only a few minutes once or twice a month at most, at least in the beginning.
You will feel new and different things. You will feel pulling and twinges and you may even see slight or heavy staining or bleeding.
When do you call your doctor and when is it unecessary?
If you are worried, you call your doctor, especially when it comes to seeing any blood.
If it's not on that level, and still you're worried, and you're convinced that it's normal, what do you do?
Call a friend who's been through a pregnancy. Preferably a friend who's gone through fertility treatment and knows that your concern is based on the level of difficulty that you went through to become pregnant.
Read the pregnancy books.
Put it into perspective.
Simply put, because it was difficult to become pregnant does not mean that the pregnancy is high risk or will be difficult. That's the good news.
The other good news is that not every ache and pain or even blood means that the pregnancy is in danger or will end.
A lot of good news.
You are pregnant.
It's going well.
This is the walking out of the dark tunnel into the light.
Allow fertility treatment to receed behind you.
Your new mantra.
"I'm pregnant and it's going well. I'm ok and so is my baby."
What a great mantra.
Ensuring the Health of Expectant
Mother & Baby
This seminar will discuss the key components of a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy including appropriate maternal weight gain, physical activity, essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, environmental toxins and risks, and food safety. Common concerns such as diet, lifestyle, morning sickness, constipation, anemia, gestational diabetes and hypertension will be addressed.
NEW Location: RMACT Danbury Office*, 67 Sand Pit Road, Danbury
Dates: Monday Jan 30th
Monday March 12th
Monday May 7th
Times: All classes start at 4:30 – 6:00
Both partners are welcome to attend.
Kindly RSVP to Carrie at 203-731-2520, ext 289, space is limited
These medically based seminars are considered part of your treatment plan and will be billed through your insurance. Please bring your
co-pay, if applicable. Patients who have high deductible plans will be billed through their insurance.
*Seminars are also scheduled at RMA Norwalk.
See website events calendar. www.RMACT.com
For current RMACT Patients Only
It looked like this for a little while.
Not long though.
This fall, the east coast has had a heavy duty dose of winter. Many of us without power, some of us for many days. Historic amounts of snowfall on October 29, which has changed the look of where we live, because of the loss of many, many trees.
Now, we've had balmy, warm weather for the last several days.
It's downright weird.
So what's next?
And what does this remind me of?
Fertile Yoga last night, we talked a little bit about the dratted two week wait. That is a polite way of putting it.
You've done all the work. Timing everything, coordinating everything, receiving phone calls with instructions, injections, ultrasounds, possibly retrievals and transfers.
And now you wait for pregnancy results.
Not really all that much to do.
Except feel completely obsessed about the answer to something that you simply have to wait to know.
Not so simple to wait.
Not so simple to sit in your own place and wait.
And nothing that you can really do to affect the outcome.
You can eat right, sleep right, make healthy decisions, yes.
And please do.
And beyond those important, daily decisions, you still have to wait.
We can distract and entertain ourselves.
Those things help.
We can also observe and acknowledge what we are feeling.
Sometimes that frees us up to move on to other feelings.
Me? I'm going to a concert this evening an hour away. It starts at 11:11, to celebrate the date today!
A little crazy, yes.
But maybe a little crazy, unpredictable is what we need once in a while.
You are not waiting alone.
It’s not true that everyone in the world is pregnant.
It’s not even true that every single person you know is pregnant.
But doesn’t it feel that way?
Doesn’t it seem like you can’t take a walk without seeing a pregnant lady or a newborn in a stroller?
The office is not safe. Every other moment someone is announcing that they are pregnant, usually followed by baby showers and such.
Facebook is very unsafe. Not only do you read announcements of pregnancies, you get to see the earliest ever ultrasounds. Yes, really.
Family functions can be hazardous. Especially when they are big and your family haven’t been together in a few months. Almost without a doubt, someone’s been waiting for everyone to be in one place to make “the announcement”.
I remember very clearly cringing when friends would call after not speaking to them for a while. I could have written the script. “We wanted to make sure that we were the ones to break the good news.”
So yeah, it seems like everyone around you is pregnant or getting pregnant or getting over pregnant.
Carrie Van Steen and I have been co-hosting Ladies Night In for Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut for almost two years now.
We created Ladies Night In as a safe place for all of you struggling with infertility, fertility treatment and all the isolation and distress that come along with it.
Thank goodness, many of you become pregnant and leave the group. Yes, thank goodness for great pregnancy rates, successful pregnancies, healthy babies.
But it’s hard, too, on everyone when there’s a pregnancy in the group. Everyone is happy, sad, jealous, hopeful and more. It’s a safe place, yes. A place to escape other’s pregnancies.
But it’s also a place where we’re hoping and praying and trying for pregnancy.
So we continue to support each other by continuing to be honest.
And honestly? It’s hard when one of us becomes pregnant.
It is hard.
We’ll get through it together.
My inspiration for today:
Commit yourself to a dream...Nobody who tries to do something great but fails is a total failure. Why? Because they can always rest assured that they succeeded in life's most important battle- they defeated the fear of trying.~ Robert H. Schuller
Your dream is a family. Your dream is a baby. Your dream is to have a child in your life, in your lap. Your dream is to defeat infertility, soundly.
The trying can be exhausting, relentless even. The trying amidst your friends and family members getting pregnant can be devestating, emotionally.
The trying, in the face of failed cycles, cancelled cycles and bad news can be almost impossible.
And yet, so many of us persevere. Because it is the trying that allows us to succeed. It's the trying that gives us a chance to succeed.
Without trying, there is nothing.
Without dreaming, there is no possibility of trying.
We want our families. We yearn for them. Need them. Actively seek them.
We try and try and try again.
And simply the trying makes us powerful. Whether we change directions in our path and foster a child, adopt a child, welcome a child in from another part of our lives, the trying makes us successful.
We are active, powerful men and women. We try and we fail and we think we are failures. We are not. We are powerful. We are strong enough to try again, even hearing how our sadness or disappointment or frustration makes us weak.
Those things do not make us weak. They make us human. They make us stronger, more compassionate, more powerful.
Those emotions allow us to try again, with hope, with our dream tucked safely into our hearts and minds.
There is nothing about all of you that I do not admire. Including your darker thoughts, your worst fears, your biggest and angriest feelings.
You are trying. And that makes you powerful, strong and capable.
How big does it have to be for you feel happy or successful?
I love the wisdom that I hear from the women around me.
Struggling with infertility, all of them, and finding their coping methods.
One of my most challenging, which I’m hearing a lot of lately, (think that’s coincidental?), is acknowledging each accomplishment.
Or each step in the journey.
Finding a sense of happiness or relief in your FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) being in an acceptable range.
Seeing the follicles (eggs) growing as you were hoping.
Finding that giving yourself your first injection actually wasn’t quite as awful as you thought it was going to be.
Having your retrieval go as scheduled and not having to re-explain to your coworkers another absence.
These things are not a positive pregnancy test.
Nor are they a baby in your arms.
They are powerful, moment by moment, accomplishments on the road to that pregnancy and that baby.
Thank you, all of you, for the great reminders.
One moment at a time, find the richness of these accomplishments.