Thinking About Infertility? How Often?
Conservatively, how often do you think about infertility and fertility treatment?
Here are your choices. Remember, please don’t exaggerate!
A. Once a day
B. Once a week
C. Once a month
D. Once an hour
E. Once a minute
F. Every time the phone rings
G. Every Thanksgiving (and every other holiday, including Election Day, Veterans' Day, New Year's Eve, etc.)
H. On your birthday
I. Every time you see a baby
J. Every time the sun goes down
K. At lunchtime
L. When you have a doctor’s appointment
M. When a family member or friend asks you about when you are having kids
N. When you read an article about fertility treatments or doctors
O. When you hear an ad on the radio for a fertility program in your area
P. When you see an ad in your local magazine or newspaper
Q. When a friend announces a pregnancy
R. When you see an ultrasound of a pregnancy on Facebook
S. When you get your period. Again.
T. When you don’t get your period. Again.
U. When you are given unsolicited advice by a well meaning (?) person regarding your family building
V. The moment you wake up
W. The moment before you go to sleep
X. When you are planning your vacation time
Y. When you are preparing a financial budget
Z. All of the above
Hmmm. Chances are men and women will answer quite differently. If you have a partner, regardless of their gender, have them take the test too. See how your answers line up. It can give you some insight into why you don’t always seem or feel like you’re on the same page.
Do Others Understand If Fertility Treatment Has Infiltrated Your Life?
If you’re willing to risk a little, allow yourself to be vulnerable, hand your answers to one or more people who you expected to support you and who haven’t done as well as you had hoped. Maybe it will give them some insight into how thoroughly infertility and fertility treatment has infiltrated into your daily rhythm of life.
By the way, if you answered any of those with a resounding yes, you are not alone. I know that you’ve heard that before. Sometimes, the answer will be Z, all of the above.
Sometimes the answer will be A, once a day.
And sometimes it will be something or all that come in between.
We get it. If you have a chance, let me know some of your answers, maybe I’d be a safe person to try them out on.
I’d love to hear from you.
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No Baby Yet this Holiday Season? Bah Humbug.
It’s serious list making season. I make lists for one very simple reason. I cannot remember everything that I need or think I need to do. So I write them down and I check my list often. Always very interesting to see what is left undone, day after day, until one day, that item no longer even appears on the list.
Making lists while in the midst of infertility or fertility treatment can look a little bizarre. One that appears often; inject myself. Hmm. Bet that doesn’t pop up too often on a “normal” person’s list. Go to the fertility program three times a week. Before work. Nope, that may be a little out of the ordinary too.
So while we are on the subject of lists, here are a few of my favorite’s for the holidays when there are no children in your home yet. When you are still waiting and hoping and working towards having your babies, holidays can be tough.
See what you like on this list. Add to it if you like and, if you have a great idea that is not here, email it to me privately at FertileYoga@gmail.com. No information of yours will be published anywhere, promise.
Holiday Season Survival Guide: A Starter List
Here's my starter list that could be part of a holiday season survival guide. A few ideas to bring a smile to your life. Favorite things to do during the holidays that do NOT include children:
- Drive/Walk to see Holiday lights. The bigger, brighter, the better. The flashier. My favorites tend to be the ones lit up, that you can see from two miles away.
- Cozy fires, hot tea/chocolate/glass of wine, book, cat/dog, spouse/partner (or not!)
- Good or bad holiday movies, (a favorite, I will admit it here, "Love Actually")
- Going to see a movie in the theatre, R-rated, no children! (mainly)
- Prepare a special meal. Better yet, BUY a special meal that someone else has prepared. Eat it on the best china that you own, with your special flatware. Use your prettiest candles and wine glasses (even if you are drinking water). Find a scruptuous desert; it's the holidays, a treat is in order. Take your time and enjoy what you have created.
- Sleep in. Spend the day in your pajamas.
- Don't answer the phone.
- Stay off the computer. Or, stay on it the entire day.
- Baths are always wonderful. Add candles, lovely music, something nice to drink and a soft covered book. (Soft covered is important, trust me, dropping a hard covered book in the water kinda stinks.)
- Go for a run/walk/stroll. Dress warmly, look carefully, breathe deeply.
- Do a photography session. Pick up your camera/phone and look for interesting images. Go close in on a flower or a vase or even a piece of fabric. Or, take the camera/phone outside.
- I almost forgot yoga!!! Practice at home, do sun salutations (Suriya Namascar), or go to a class.
These are the things that I like to do when I have some free time and it's all mine to spend the way I want. It's almost like having money to spend any way you want.
Spend it mindfully. It's a precious commodity, time.
How do you want to spend it?
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Holiday Season Infertility Support
Trying to find a balance between ho ho ho and bah humbug during the holiday season?
There are those that say, “Don’t let infertility steal your joy and your holiday rituals. Continue with your lives and enjoy what there is to enjoy. Be grateful for what there is to be grateful for.” Ho ho ho.
There are those that say, “Enough all ready. Enough of the relentless holiday cards with babies and children. Enough of trying to make lemon cake out of lemons. Just enough.“ Bah humbug.
Me? I swung wildly between the two extremes. There was no middle ground. I was either out in the midst of things, raising a glass in cheer or hiding under the blankets with my dog and a good (ok, crappy) book.
There’s certainly room for both. Ho ho ho. And bah humbug.
Some things you may treasure even more dearly while you’re still waiting and hoping for your children. Like treasuring time with your own parents or siblings. Or even your nieces and nephews. Putting decorations up or making special holiday foods may feel even more important without other things that you have been hoping for and dreaming of. Maybe you feel even more grateful for people that you love and cherish in your life, that you can still hug and hold them. Still spend time with them.
It’s more than ok to have a bah humbug side too. Maybe we could even see it as a healthy retreat. One where you take care of yourself, before you take care of family and friends. Where you put yourself on your own list as important and relevant. That might mean skipping a party or two and opting for a quiet evening at home. That deep breath in, slowing down, could make bah humbug a lot closer to ho ho ho.
Balancing Fertility Ho Ho Ho's and Bah Humbug's
The balance between fertility ho ho ho's and bah humbug could be as crystal clear as knowing that either way your mood swings, it’s really ok. Isn’t it really?
Making a choice may hurt someone. This is a truth. A truth.
Making a choice not to hurt someone might hurt you. That is a truth as well.
If going to the party, gathering or celebration will hurt you, I ask you to please consider that as seriously as you will consider the not going that will hurt someone else. You are as important as everyone else you are considering.
What a concept. You are as important as everyone else you are considering.
I like that.
Perhaps that’s the balancing point between ho ho ho and bah humbug.
You. As an important part of the equation.
Not just you as pleasing someone else. Even someone else that is really important to you.
You are as important as everyone else you are considering.
That seems like a sane, healthy place in which to make a decision.
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Holiday Support Through the Season
This is a very personal blog, based on what is helpful to me, the places I go when I feel stress or anxiety. They are probably not identical to how you cope or where you find holiday support through the season, and yet some may seem very familiar.
Getting clear with what I am doing as opposed to what I could be doing is a way for me to see through the murkiness. I have choices, it's reassuring to remember that.
I don't know if this will be helpful to you or not. Maybe you need to make your own lists, see where the things are that trigger you and how to release in a healthy (or not so healthy) way.
Coping with Holiday Stress
The holiday season is in full swing. Some of what goes on is so loving and fun and full of joy. And some of it is just plain hard, holiday stress. Especially if you are dealing with not being pregnant. Again. Or fertility treatment cycle failed. Again.
Maybe not every coping method has to be healthy. At least not every day, occasion or minute.
Ten ways that I punish myself during the holiday season:
- I eat too much of too many wrong foods - including drinking alcohol and caffeine
- I stay longer than I am comfortable at social events
- I don’t exercise
- I make too many plans and don’t plan enough down time
- I don’t attend yoga classes
- I stay up too late and get up too early
- I don’t read
- I don’t pray and meditate regularly
- I don’t pay attention to how I am feeling and therefore can’t respect my feelings
- I endure rather than enjoy the holiday season
Ten ways that I support myself during the holiday season:
- I appreciate my loved ones
- I make phone calls to people I don’t normally speak with
- I put on my pajamas and stay in them for hours past what is normally socially acceptable
- I cook and clean in spurts
- I look at the physical beauty of the world
- I watch good movies
- I listen to those around me and let them in
- I hear my heart beating and my breath coming in and out
- I actively work towards finding light in my life
- I get up. I move a muscle, change a thought
Ten things I COULD do to support myself during the holiday season:
- Take a walk every morning
- Go to yoga class twice a week
- Pray and meditate
- Paint, draw, weave, knit
- Go to sleep by 11 pm every night
- Embrace the loving relationships in my life
- Spend time with my beloveds
- Make social contact regularly with supportive and loving people
- Have fun. Plan fun. Laugh more often.
Stress Reduction - Remember Choices
It's easy to get caught up in the season, for good and for bad. It's equally as easy to forget that we can make choices for stress reduction.
I'm going out for a walk. That's my choice.
As is my writing to you.
Maybe your choices would be helpful to someone else.
Could you share them with us?
If you do write to me, it does not post automatically. I can post your choices and stress reduction ideas anonymously.
Make a choice to share, I'd love to hear from you.
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Fertility and Holiday Meditation Ideas from Tesa Baum
I promised you guest bloggers. And here's our first, Tesa Baum. A great way to start, by offering some help with the holidays and the craziness that we sometimes get into. Especially challenging for those of us in fertility treatment or sad that we are still without our babies.
Read beneath her blog post for her official bio and her beautiful picture.
Meanwhile, here are her thoughtful and very helpful suggestions for the holiday season.
The Holiday Smackdown: Mindfulness vs. The Monkey Mind
Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose and non-judgmentally--in the present moment as if your life depended on it. Because it does, actually.
The Monkey Mind is a way to describe the agitated, easily distracted and incessantly moving behavior of ordinary human consciousness.
I have a confession. Even as a practitioner of holistic wellness and healing, I succumb to the monkey mind. I find that my mind is often wandering and thinking about my To Do List, going over my daily activities and plans for tomorrow, or replaying moments from the past. Yes, just like you, I find it is difficult for me to sustain focus, appreciate, and absorb the present moment, whether that moment feels pleasant or challenging.
Ironically, the Holiday Season, the time of year that gives us the most frequent and meaningful reasons to remain in the moment, is also the most favorable arena for The Monkey Mind to dominate our thinking. As our holiday season responsibilities escalate, we can become overwhelmed, sad, frustrated, lonely, scared and depressed, especially if we are feeling the loss of fertility, and so we struggle to attain balance. All bets are placed on The Monkey Mind.
This holiday season, together, let's shift the odds in favor of Mindfulness. Neither you nor I can simply stop thinking. But, by practicing a quick mindful meditation technique, we can become less attached to our thoughts and less swayed by every passing emotion.
What does this mean for grief, loss, sadness, and feelings of isolation during this holiday time? We don't want to feel trapped and consumed by these feelings. Unfortunately we begin to fear these feelings so much and then all we want to do is "move on". Mindfulness reminds us that pain and sorrow, like all else, is not permanent.
Does this mean that disturbing feelings will go away completely? And stay away? Of course not. But it does mean that they will change shape and form, they will ebb and flow, some days won't be great and some days you will start to smile. It means that our grief, like everything else, is only temporary. Once we accept this, even if only on a rational level, some of the need to avoid our grief starts to diminish. We can stop believing it is permanent, even when we feel it will last forever. Instead of battling your feelings, let them stay with you and treat them compassionately. Once you learn to stop looking at your negative feelings as a taboo, they can start to dissolve. Accept uncertainty and try to allow it to coexist with who you are. You will be pleasantly surprised how fleeting and impermanent these feelings can be. It takes a lot practice. Here's how you can start!
Tesa's Seven Minute Monkey Mind Smackdown Meditation
I am pretty sure that I am the first holistic healing practitioner to leverage WrestleMania terminology in a meditation technique! But, we all truly wrestle with this beast day in and day out. And, even though this technique doesn't require a lot of muscle, I want you to feel powerful in its defeat. Here are four simple steps to follow:
1. Find a quiet place and set a timer for 7 minutes.
2. Close your eyes, and establish a point of focus-your natural breath moving in and out.
3. When your mind wanders, don't be critical of yourself. Allow the thoughts to come and go and gently bring yourself back to your point of focus.
4. When we start to get really heavy and all we want to do is run away, that’s when to simply say to the thoughts, “hello, I see you, welcome”.
After completing this exercise, I feel extremely focused and I am able to really enjoy the moment. I am going to commit to this meditation practice each and every day during this holiday season. I hope that you commit too, both to practicing and to feeling more present.
In the New Year I will circle back on this topic and let you know the impact of my meditation. And, in the meantime, feel free to reach out to me and let me know your experience with this holiday survival tip.
Tesa Baum, R.M., CHT
Tesa is a Reiki Master Healer and Certified Hypnotherapy Practitioner.
Tesa is passionate about natural healing and helping people live their lives to the fullest.
Her goal is to help people experience inner peace, purpose, and inspiration. She is a member of the International Association of Reiki Professional (IARP) and has studied energy work, healing and meditation. She practices in Westport & Ridgefield, CT and Mt. Kisco, NY. Tesa works with individuals of all ages, groups, and facilitates workshops.
The Center for Health and Healing Wellness Center
Westport Hypnosis Group
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Fertility Events - Reminders
SingleMomstoBe Event this Sunday, a social gathering and educational event for Single Women Pursuing Parenthood (or seriously considering it), featuring RMACT’s Surgical Director, Dr. Spencer Richlin and Lisa Schuman, LCSW (RMACT’s Director of Mental Health Services).
Also this Sunday, discover your options this upcoming weekend at the 10th Annual NY Men Having Babies 2014 Surrogacy Seminar & Gay Parenting Expo. RMACT’s Medical Director, Dr. Mark Leondires will be attending, along with some of our GayParentstoBe team members. You can schedule a private consultation with Dr. Leondires.
One more minor housekeeping item - NO FERTILE YOGA TONIGHT IN BETHEL. Please check RMACT's calendar of events for the next several weeks for Fertile Yoga as some classes will not be meeting.
Onto the blog for today, here at PathtoFertility.
Halloween and Infertility - Trick or Treat?
Traditionally a child-based holiday that involves tricks and treats.
There’s the kicker of infertility, fertility treatment and trying to conceive.
There’s sweetness in trying to have a baby. Anticipatory feelings of delight in seeing the line on the pregnancy test turn the right color, realizing that you are on your way to expanding your family, knowing the reaction of when you announce the news to your friends and family.
Maybe this is a moment you’ve waited for since you were very little or maybe it’s been a relatively new realization that you would like to become a parent. Either way, there is often giddiness, excitement and a touch or more of apprehension about the dramatic changes that will occur in your life.
But you’re ready. You want it. You arrange your life to accommodate this new, important life phase.
That’s the treat. When it happens easily, it’s a treat. You float on cloud nine. Or you’re sick as a dog. Either way, you are on your way.
And here’s the trick. Sometimes it does not work that way. Sometimes the anticipation turns scary, not even wanting to hope, for fear that the disappointment of not becoming pregnant, AGAIN, will flood your senses and emotions. Will devastate you, at least briefly.
I’ve been experiencing a lot of treats and lot of tricks lately through the women that I get to know through Ladies Night In and Fertile Yoga. Through many of you, through this blog.
Many successful pregnancies and babies. Absolutely heartwarming and affirming to see pictures, get to visit and see families blooming. I can’t tell you how much it means to each of us here at RMACT to get the pictures of your babies when they are born and to be updated. We love it. I love it.
Tricks again though, are so very painful. There really needs to be a new word for infertility, pregnancy loss pain and ending fertility treatment. Painful just doesn’t cover it. While we are not personally experiencing it, we do feel it. We feel your pain. Your loss.
We grieve with you.
The trick of having the struggle of infertility, making the decision to seek help, go through fertility testing and treatment and not having it work is, as I said, beyond words. Some of us accept it as part of our lives and are able to treat it one day at a time, without being pulled into the tidal waves.
Sometimes, it’s just too much. Just one crushing disappointment too many.
How many people out there stop fertility treatment even if there is a possibility of being successful the next time? Through sheer exhaustion, physically, emotionally and even financially, there are those that say, “enough is enough”.
Is there a treat at the door closing and another opening? Is it donor egg/sperm? Is it surrogacy? Is it fostering a child? Adoption? Is it choosing childfree living?
Is there a treat simply for making a decision, even if it’s one that you in no way, ever wanted to make? Is that even a decision or just simply something you were forced into, had no choice at all about.
Today, whether you are enjoying the treats of fertility treatment or grieving the tricks, we are here for you. We care.
Please let us know how you are doing. We’re going to explore all those questions that I’ve asked, together. You are not alone in this. That, I promise. That, I can guarantee. That is one treat upon which you can depend.
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Memorial Day Heroes - My Thanks
It’s a short week this week.
There are many holidays that fall on Monday. Holidays that we celebrate.
Yesterday, Memorial Day, was a day where we honor rather than celebrate.
There were so many pictures, so many stories of our soldiers yesterday. I was touched, saddened, inspired and ultimately humbled, by so many of them.
The picture that I am sharing with you today is one that I took. Driving through Newtown recently, yes, Newtown CT, I detoured off the main road. I don't know why. It was a beautiful day and the lilacs were just starting to bloom and the daffodils were almost past their finest. And I came across a field of flags at a local church. I stopped. Of course I did. I closed my eyes and said a blessing. I felt the quiet in the spring day. I felt the honor and committment in the soldiers that the flags represented. And I share the picture with you here today. Because the picture was of our heroes.
There have been so many heroes in our past. Heroes that gave their lives because that’s what soldiers do. Heroes that we know about. That are personal to us.
I read about soldiers that gave their lives from all different aspects of our lives; parents, children, friends, lovers. Personal stories that touched each and every one of us.
My Memorial Day Story
My Memorial Day story is a about a soldier who sat by his mother’s side yesterday. Quietly holding watch as she is slipping away. He continues to be a soldier, putting aside his own fears and desires to do what he knows is the right thing to do.
Watching over his mother and helping her through the next phase of her life.
He’s my hero.
Thank you to all the heroes out there. Thank you to all the families out there who have lost someone they loved; you are heroes too.
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How to Build Hope - Happy Valentine's Day
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Martin Luther King, Jr. - My Hero
Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of my heroes. I know a lot of people out there admire him and even revere him; to me, he is a hero.
I list him on the top of my hero list.
He inspires me daily in the work that I do. Here are a few reasons why:
- He supported all people to be all that they could be; in a free and open society
- He worked from a place of strength, love and peace
- He was a non-violent man who stood tall, never stooping to vilify those he disagreed with
- He used his words to improve understanding, to make what he was saying clear and then even more clear
- He was unafraid
I work in and for a community that I love and have utmost respect for; the infertile community. I see daily how people are exhausted, ashamed, beaten down and humiliated by an infertility diagnosis. I see how they feel less than other people because of the often temporary inability to conceive and carry a pregnancy to term. I see how they (we) hide from the people we love and trust most; not sharing what we are going through or minimizing it.
Fertility Inspiration from Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. probably had no idea or inkling that he would provide fertility inspiration; that he would inspire someone whose life goal is to support men and women through infertility. That’s another reason that he is my hero; how far reaching his words and actions have been.
There were many times when Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke for his community; that is his legacy, his words and actions. That is who he was, a powerful spokesperson against deliberate and non-specific racism.
There have been many times where I have deliberated whether or not to speak; and then, what to say and how to say it. Martin Luther King, Jr. comes into my mind on occasions where there is something of importance that needs to be said, where being an advocate is more than listening in a loving way; where it means saying things that will be unpopular but are real. I think of him when I am speaking for my community. I think of him when a reader asks me what she can share with her mother who had four children, one after another and does not understand what she is going through. I think of him when I read research reports and sigh with relief that there is no causal link between fertility treatment and cancer. I think of him when I write about how it feels to be alone, reminding you that you are not alone.
Community Support on MLK Day
He is a hero of mine. I’m not entirely sure how he would feel about my using him and his words and actions to support my community. Perhaps he wouldn’t approve. Perhaps he would be upset about it.
One of the reasons that Martin Luther King, Jr. has withstood the test of time as a hero, nationally, internationally and in my heart? He has inspired me to grow from his efforts and, through that growth, I have learned how to effectively fight and support my community.
While he might not agree with my fight, nor support my cause, I have absolutely no doubt in my heart that he would respect my passion, commitment and actions to support this community that I love.
MLK Day, I will light a candle. I will say a prayer.
And I will say thank you.
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Photo: Flickr Creative Commons, AlvesFamily, Martin Luther King Memorial
New Year's Resolutions
Today is the day for intentions. And declarations. New Year's Resolutions.
We make huge statements on what we will do for the entire year.
Usually they have to do with things that we can barely do one day at a time or even, sometimes, one meal or hour at a time. Usually our intentions are about habits that we desperately want to change or think we should change or things we wish were different and that we would change if we could.
The crazy thing is that we think if we say it, especially out loud to enough people, that our declaration alone will be enough to change things. As if simply saying it will make it come true. The gyms are packed in January with people who have made New Year’s resolutions. They are crowded in February. They are back to normal in March with the people who make a commitment to exercise every day, not for an entire year.
One thing I know about infertility and fertility treatment is that if being determined and focused were enough, board certified reproductive endocrinologists would be out of work.
Fertility Treatment is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Mark Leondires, Medical Director of Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT), talks about fertility treatment being a marathon, not a sprint. Luckily, that turns out not to be true, very often. At least in as much that so often, one can and does get pregnant on the first fertility treatment cycle. What he is referring to, of course, is that so often men and women are trying for quite some time before they ever walk into his office. Hence, marathon, not sprint. If you have been trying on your own for any amount of time, then you are already exhausted by the time you walk into his office. Maybe you feel like you’ve already run several races, as hard and fast as you possibly can.
The thing about a marathon is that just like a sprint, you have to do it one step at a time. In a sprint, you are moving much faster, usually with more effort. In a marathon, you know you will be out there for several hours, just for the race itself. There is no expectation that in fifteen or thirty minutes you will be finished. The training is a whole other issue though.
If I look at a new year’s resolution as a marathon, in that I would like to accomplish my goal for one solid year (secretly hoping of course that I will have retrained myself not to do, or to do, something astonishing) and allow that each day I am in training, somehow that feels manageable. At least to me. Each day, I have to achieve my goal. Not for an entire year. Just for that one single day. That breaks my goal into the steps I would have to take to run that marathon. That gives the training needed.
I can’t run a marathon tomorrow. But I do know that if I run today, let’s say three tenths of a mile on my five mile walk, that I’ve started my marathon. Because then tomorrow I could run a half of a mile. And Friday, perhaps a bit more. And on Saturday, I might not run at all, because that’s how training works. I know that with training, I could run a marathon in about five months. Barring injury, and not very fast, I could run a marathon in May or June.
With Life, As With Fertility: the Smallest Pieces First
And I know something else too. I will not be able to run a marathon without taking that smallest piece first. Three tents of a mile is about the distance between two telephone poles. Doesn’t look a bit like the 26.2 miles that a marathon is, all big and glorious. In fact, three tenths of a mile looks a bit silly maybe. Still and all, it’s where I would need to start. And without starting, there would be no marathon ever.
I like Dr. Leondires’ analogy with the marathon. It allows us to break things down into smaller pieces, knowing that is how it has to work.
First step on your marathon to become pregnant - Ask yourself these questions: have you been trying for more than one year to become pregnant and you’re under the age or 35? Or six months of trying over the age of 35?
Next - Understand that if you have been trying to become pregnant and have so far been unable to that there is help out there so that you can have the family you are dreaming of.
Finally – make an appointment! You do not have to do this alone. In fact, you may be unable to do this alone. So far, it has not worked. Get some help. See a board certified reproductive endocrinologist who specializes in helping conception along. Take the time and effort to succeed by having professionals guiding and supporting you each step of the way.
New Year’s resolutions are a great idea. They are a great way to reflect your desires and dreams and announce them to the universe.
Then do the footwork, so to speak. Do those New Year resolutions, one piece at a time, each day.
We are here to help. Please let us.
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