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.
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.
Lisa Rosenthal's Google+
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+
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 and Canadian Thanksgiving)
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.
Lisa Rosenthal's Google+
Struggling with Infertility
A common scenario when we are struggling with infertility is that we feel alone; we feel that no one truly understands the magnitude of what we are going through. We withdraw from friends and family because their concern, although well meaning, is frequently hurtful or intrusive. Even when our friends and family say precisely the right thing, at the right time and drop the subject the moment that you ask them to, we still experience pain. It makes holidays, get togethers, even simple conversations a strain where once it was easy and comfortable.
Peer Support Group Privileges
I feel honored to help facilitate a peer support group where we laugh, cry, help, support and educate one another. I’m very thankful and grateful for this group of women who show up, lay it on the line and tell it like it is. Relationships are formed and valuable bonds are made in these groups. Why can we tell strangers things that we cringe about sharing with those who love us?
Simple, really. We understand. We get it. Who else really does get what it’s like to go to friends for an evening and have to disappear into the bathroom? Together, I mean, your partner and yourself. LOL. Who else understands that it makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time? Who else understands that there’s a part of you that hopes your friends think that you are having hot sex in the bathroom, not getting a shot in your derriere? Who else understands that your vacation is being postponed because you’re in the middle of a cycle? Who else understands what it’s like to get one more birth announcement, one more whispered “I’m pregnant”? Who else understands our younger sisters conceiving and having children and our hearts full for them and breaking for ourselves?
Cultivating Gratitude: Make Your Own List
So for those of us who get it, here’s my list of things that infertility makes me grateful for, in case feeling grateful feels like a really big stretch, or even impossible:
- Ovulating each month
- Front desk person at your fertility clinic smiling at you
- Getting your period regularly
- Have insurance coverage for fertility treatment
- Have veins that cooperate in getting blood drawn
- Struggling with PCOS and finding ways to minimize the impact
- Getting a positive pregnancy test
- Able to face the emotional roller coaster that is infertility treatment
- Fertile Yoga
- Are healthy and young enough to be able to consider fertility treatment
- Producing enough follicles to go through In Vitro Fertilization
- Able to do IUI’s (Intra uterine inseminations) with a high probability of success
- Have the financial resources to continue treatment even without insurance coverage
- Professional therapists who have the ability to make us see things differently, espcially our feelings
- Nurses who are approachable and compassionate
- A fertility program where you are treated as a whole person and not a walking diagnosis
- Getting your period after three or four months
- Ultrasound showing a heartbeat
- A painless transfer
- A nutritionist that is not judgemental, but really really helpful
- A retrieval that goes smoothly and easily
- Live in a day and age where third party reproductive technology is available
- Can compare one fertility specialist (board certified reproductive endocrinologist) to another and pick one who is the best fit
- Having access to complementary programs that enhance your chances of conception
- Not strangling your friend/family member/co-worker/boss/partner/waitress who asks yet again when you are going to have a baby
- Live in a state where it’s mandated that infertility is covered by insurance
- Passion tea
- Able to turn to a partner for help and support
- Ultrasound showing a sac
- Feeling hope that this time the cycle will work and there will be a baby at the end of the rainbow
What goes on your list? Share your ideas in the comments and we'll build a new list together. I’m grateful to you, my community, my group who gets it--for reading, for commenting, for caring.
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+
Celebrating Our Lives, During Infertility, and Everyday
July 10, 2013. My sister just called to wish me a happy anniversary plus one month.
I love that. I was married 29 years and one month ago. What a great thing to celebrate.
Who’s to say what is worth celebrating and what isn’t?
You. Me. Everyone.
We all get to decide what is worth celebrating.
The Dalai Lama celebrates every morning that he wakes up. That’s what he celebrates: that he wakes up. He doesn’t wait for other, bigger, flashier miracles in his day. Doesn’t need for his meditation to reveal deep, life changing thoughts. Nope, he is content to celebrate simply waking up.
There isn’t anything else that you can celebrate if you don’t wake up.
Infertility Is A Hard Hit
Infertility is a hard hit. There is no doubt about it. Infertility knocks us on our butts emotionally and makes it really hard to get up sometimes. There were mornings when upon waking, all I wanted to do was pull the covers over my head and refuse to engage in my life. Anything rather than the routine of fertility treatment, medications, injections, ultrasounds, etc.
Anything. Staying in bed was a very pleasant alternative.
What happens if upon waking instead of feeling celebratory, you feel dread for what lies ahead of you in your day?
Can I just say, it sucks.
Finding the Antidotes
My antidote, what works for me on those days where the weight of my life feels heavy and uncomfortable, is to meditate. I pray too. Actually, I pray first and get my own self out of my way and then I meditate. Prayer is a touchy subject. Respectfully I would ask you to consider that prayer does not have to be done in a religious way, rather in a spiritual way. Prayer can simply be making a list of what you need help with; acknowledging that you need help.
Meditation is breathing into open space that you create with quiet. Very often, lots of different thoughts rush in to distract you from that quiet. That’s ok. We practice and it becomes quieter. We find through regular practice that we become quieter. Like anything else, we practice and it becomes easier.
Celebrating a moment in your day can change everything. Celebrating a moment every hour can shift deep seated feelings. Taking the time to celebrate is a gift that you can offer yourself. It allows you to turn your face to what you can appreciate.
Me, I’m going to celebrate today. Twenty-nine years and one month. Wow. That’s a lot of marriage. That’s a lot to celebrate.
Thanks to my sister, Laura Ellen Rosenthal, for the loving reminder.
Lisa Rosenthal's Google+
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.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Inauguration Day Reflections
I have a slender book that has been in my possession for over 12 years.
It's title: "Why We Can't Wait," by Martin Luther King, Jr. It was written in 1963.
I got it because I like to read what a person has to say. Not what someone else says about what they say. What they say, themselves.
It feels almost miraculous when I sit here, reading the book, to read some of these words. MLK asks the question, "why did the civil rights movement leap forward in 1963?" He answered the question in a way that startled me, as I sit here in 2013.
The Presidential Inauguration and MLK Day
And even more startling as we all prepare for President Barack Obama to be sworn in as President of the United States of America. Today, of all days, on the day we celebrate MLK.
It was because it marked the 100 year anniversary of the emancipation proclamation. It was the centenial anniversary. Haunting, as this year, we are fifty years past when MLK wrote this book.
What, I wonder, would he think about the progress for the Negro people? We no longer use that terminology, of course, but that is the word that he uses in 1963, in this astounding book. What other changes would he see, that he would appreciate or be saddened by?
I'd like to think that he'd appreciate our country voting in Barack Obama, not once, but twice, even with so many problems facing our country, many of which have been blamed on the President.
It seems like the best way to understand a person, is to hear what they have to say. Without an intermediary. So, without further ado, I'll share some of what Dr. Martin Luther King said, in his own words.
The Words of Dr. Martin Luther King
"In 1963, the Negro, who had realized for many years that he was not truly free, awoke from a stupor of inaction with the cold dash of realization that 1963 meant one hundred years after Lincoln gave his autograph to the cause of freedom.
The milestone of the centennial of emancipation gave the Negro a reason to act--a reason so simple and obvious that he almost had to step back to see it.
Simple logic made it painfully clear that if this centennial were to be meaningful, it must be observed not as a celebration, but rather as a commemoration of the one moment in the country's history when a bold, brave start had been made, and a rededication to the obvious fact that urgent business was at hand- the resumption of that noble journey toward the goals reflected in the preamble to the Constitution, the Constitution itself, the Bill of Rights and the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.
Yet not all of these forces conjoined could have brought about the massive and largely bloodless Revolution of 1963 if there had not ben at hand a philosophy and a method worthy of its goals. Nonvioloent direct action did not originate in America but it found its natural home in this land where refusal to cooperate with injustice was an ancient and honorable tradition and where Christian forgiveness was written into the minds and hearts of good men. Tested in Montgomery during the winter of 1955-56, and toughened throughout the South in the eight ensuing years, non-violent resistance had become, by 1963, the logical force in the greatest mass-action crusade for freedom that has ever occurred in American history.
Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals. Both a practical and a moral answer to the Negro's cry for justice, nonviolent direct action proved that it could win victories without losing wars, and so became the triumphant tactic of the Negro Revolution of 1963."
Thirteen Amendment-Abolishes slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime.
Fourteenth Amendment-Defines citizenship, contains the Privileges or Immunities Clause, the Due Process Clause, the Equal Protection Clause, and deals with post-Civil War issues.
Fifteenth Amendment- Prohibits the denial of suffrage based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
What Dr. King's Words Mean Today
Powerful words, written by a powerful man. What do they mean to us today, with our battles? We are looking at violence, the right to bear arms, the right to personal freedoms and safety.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s words stand strong. 50 years later, they mean something, to the situation and problems we are creating in our country.
Powerful words from a powerful man.
And so we celebrate his birth and his life.
A New Approach to New Year's Resolutions
Happy New Year.
Or as a one of my nearest and dearest, beloved friends said, "Happy New Day".
We put a lot of pressure on ourselves with new years resolutions.
We expect to be able to accomplish what we set out to do.
Infertility is a real kick in the pants when it comes to that, isn't it?
We do everything possible right and it still doesn't work. With the best fertility doctors, right diagnosis, perfect medications and great support, it still doesn't always work.
At least not in the fertility treatment cycle that we expect it or want it to.
When Does Fertility Treatment Work?
Fertility treatment seems to work when we least expect it to.
Cycles that seem destined to end badly, end instead with a positive pregnancy test. Often, we go into a cycle feeling defeated and discouraged and it's the one that is successful.
I wonder why things work like that.
I attended a yoga retreat yesterday to bring in the New Year and release the old one.
Thank you Yogaspace for hosting such a glorious event. With love and appreciation to Glenn Tucker and Natasha Raymond for designing a wonderful day and holding such compassionate, loving and fun space for all who attended.
At one point, we extended a hand behind us in Warrior Two to acknowledge the past. To honor our past as being part of us, not something that we can release in an amnesia-type way. We don't forget our past, we don't release our past, but we certainly and absolutely can forgive ourselves and others and move into our future in a lighter and healthier way.
Our other hand was extended in front of us, reaching towards the future. Our heart and torso was grounded firmly in the present.
I'm so glad I went to yoga yesterday.
With respect to my future? I'm excited.
I'm excited about what I know is in store, what I've planned out and put into place.
I have to admit to feeling even more excited about things that will happen in this next year that I can barely imagine.
Things that will delight.
Many things that will amuse.
Some things that will make me laugh so hard I will have tears running down my face.
I will see things this coming year that will make me stand still and admire.
Friends that I know and friends that I have not met yet.
And so many ordinary things that make a day, a year, a life, full and happy.
Watching my cat attack the dog, lovingly.
Hearing the birds and feeding them on top of the snow.
Watering the plants that are over thirty-five years old, from my husband's grandmother.
Sitting in front of the fire, writing to you.
So, yes, I have a few New Year's Resolutions. I like making them. I like thinking about what's important to me for the future. But this year, I'm kinda content with Happy New Day resolutions.
Today, I will take a walk in the snow with my faithful, happy and healthy dog. Today, I will call my sisters. Today, I will get back into the swing of things from the holidays.
Today, I will release my expectations to have everything the way I would like it and recognize that it is all just as it should be.
Happy New Day everyone.
Fertility Team Shares More Messages from the Heart
"It is amid times of tragedy like we have seen these past few weeks, that we must all come together and pray for those who have suffered such painful loss.
In spite of these difficult times we will be celebrating this holiday with joy in our hearts because we get to spend it with our families and we hope you do the same." CR
"Our hearts our deeply saddened by the Newtown tragedy. Such a horrendous, unthinkable crime committed during the holiday season. A time of love and cheer ruined by a senseless act. Although our hearts our heavy at this time, we must keep the Holiday spirit alive. Keep it alive for our children and family. This act will not and should not deter us from losing hope that things will get better in the future.
Im still thinking but am I writing too much. Please let me know thanks. I know I have a few punctuation and grammatical errors I will correct those when I am done." LG
This horrible tragedy took the life of 6 year old Allison a daughter of a fellow nurse/friend of mine as well as 19 other beautiful children and their teachers. I walk today with a heavy heart and pray that these families can find peace during this difficult time in their life.
Rest in peace baby you left too soon!! BA
"Happy Holidays, My wish for 2013 is that your hopes and dreams are realized in the new year." JP
"Wishing you the joy of family, the gift of friends and the best of everything this holiday season and for the New Year." RK
"My wish for us all:
That the pain and grief lessen with the passage of time.
That these beautiful little souls and these very brave and honorable protectors never be forgotten.
May the love for all those we have lost give us the strength to go on and encourage us to live all of our tomorrows with peace, faith and hope in our hearts." LP
"In the coming year, the world needs to be more compassionate to each other. It has been a tough 2012, I hope that 2013 is easier and safer." SR
"Sending warm Holiday wishing and healthy wishes for the New Year to everyone." TZ