Reducing Infertility Stress With Meditation
Labor Day Weekend.
The perfect weekend for doing a lot or very little. The unofficial end of summer, felt in the sudden cooler temperatures in the morning and seen in the brief glimpses of orange in the leaves.
Resting or working. If you are in the middle of an infertility treatment cycle, there is no absolute rest time. Even when we are on hold, whether on medications or off, we are busy.
Busy in our minds. Often going around and around in circles.
We often get advice to relax. To forget about fertility treatment cycles. To let it go. To focus on something else. A favorite, “take a vacation”. Generally speaking? That advice makes us some combination of enraged, amused, indignant and just plain exasperated. Because really, all of those ideas on how to be can feel impossible.
What if they weren’t the worst ideas ever? Or even impossible?
Yoga for Infertility
One moment at a time is all we need to focus on. There are tools to help, that really do help. They help us let go of our busy brains, one moment at a time. Yoga has always done it for me. I always, always, always feel better after yoga. Sometimes I don’t like getting there. Sometimes I don’t even like being in the class. Occasionally, not often, I even look at the clock while I’m in class. Yet, still at the end, I’m glad to have been there. I always feel lighter and brighter, more centered and more grounded as well.
One thing that I hold onto in my busy brain is that quiet, even with my mind chattering, is still restorative. And that practicing quiet, promotes less chatter. Who of us wouldn’t like less chatter in our minds? Who wouldn’t like to come back to the same subject or some aspect of the subject less often?
Face it. Who among us would not prefer to have infertility invade our thoughts as often as they do?
Maybe you don’t think about it more than you would like. If that is true, please share your secret with us. Because most of us think about it a lot. A lot, a lot. And more.
If you think about infertility, fertility treatment cycles, the pregnancy rates for IUI’s, the sperm count and motility, the side effects of the medication, the timing of the medications, how often you need to go in for ultrasounds, whether to share your information with your boss, how many cycles it will take to become pregnant and more, then it is very possible that your brain is on overdrive. Going around and around in circles.
And the best advice ever is to quiet it down a bit. And that advice is still easier to say than to do. At least without help and tools it is.
Infertility Advice: Meditation
Here’s a helpful hint for this weekend.
- Try several minutes of sitting quietly.
- Set an alarm so you don’t focus on when you’re supposed to stop.
- Find a place in your home that is relatively free of distractions.
- Turn your phone off or put it away.
- Find a comfortable way of sitting. Take a few minutes to make sure that you are comfortable.
- Perhaps read something first that is inspirational to you.
- Close your eyes.
- Keep them closed until the alarm rings.
- Observe your thoughts but don’t feel that you need to hang onto them.
- Don’t worry about using this time to solve the world’s problems. Or even your own.
- Each time that you find yourself wrapped up in thinking, bring your attention to your breath.
- Repeat the word, in your mind, exhale as you exhale.
- Repeat the word inhale, in your mind, as you inhale.
- Whenever other thoughts intrude, bring your attention back to your breath.
- When the alarm rings, turn it off and write down one thing that you can find to be grateful for. Even if it’s the tiniest thing, like being grateful that meditation is over.
- Go on about the rest of your day.
- Repeat the next morning or if you’re feeling ambitious, try this several times a day.
Know that even if you feel like you’re not doing it right, that your brain is busy the entire time, that you are receiving the benefit of meditation. We’ll look into this more next week.
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Finding Peace Through Labor Day Weekend & the Back-to-School Rush
We all mark and take notice of New Year's. Whether it’s celebrating on December 31st/January 1st or another holiday that turns you from one to the next.
Or whether it’s Labor Day weekend. The unofficial end of the summer and beginning of the school year. If you are waiting for your family, for your babies to come, Labor Day can be tough. Seeing the school buses, the back-to-school sales, pictures of other people’s children in new clothes with bright smiles, can be more than tough. It can feel like the perfect reason to dive headfirst under the covers and stay there.
Most of you are too mature, too emotionally healthy to do that. I wasn’t like that. I did quite a few nosedives back into bed while I was in fertility treatment. Avoiding Labor Day was not an option. I was a teacher so there was no avoiding the back-to-school images or ducking away from the feelings of something brand new beginning.
Back-to-School Fertility Blues
I was able to touch those feelings as well, sometimes. Sometimes it did occur to me that perhaps a brand new season, unmarred by IUI or IVF failure, was just exactly what my husband and I needed. I enjoyed going back to school and meeting my new students and their parents. I yearned to be one of them, letting their children go, feeling hopeful for them to have a wonderful experience in the new school year.
Sitting with a class full of children kept me grounded in how children really are, really behave. I had very few romantic images of the perfect baby or child, although of course, MY child would never misbehave. Hmmm. Maybe I had a few romantic ideas about my child.
Sometimes I would look out at my flock of children, sitting and doing their work, or listening enrapt to a story that they had heard a thousand times and wonder. What would my child look like? Be like? Would they be more like the child in the front row? Or the one half hiding behind their friends? Would they be the one with their hand up first or the one who knew the answer but didn’t want or need to share it with the class and the teacher?
Teaching children made infertility easier in some ways and harder in other ways. I loved being with the kids. It kept me firmly grounded on a moment to moment basis, which kept my overactive brain from the thoughts of fertility treatment while I was with my class. The harder part came from falling in love with these littler human beings and wondering if I would ever be a mommy to someone like them.
It was always the not knowing that was the hardest.
Finding Inspiration & Peace
The brightest moments of hope came from the children as well. Helping and watching them learn new things that they had never done before. Observing them, willing to fail, willing to pick themselves up, try again and again and again. Often with little resentment that they hadn’t gotten it the first or thirty-first time.
They inspired me.
I let their hopeful attitude towards life and learning fill me up. It turned the corners of my mouth up, lifted my heart from despair and fear. Their smiles brightened me. When I thanked their parents at the end of the day, I could see the parents questioning smiles back at me. I never explained to them how having their children helped me through my days and made those days so much brighter. Still I thanked them.
A favorite memory. Watching my class of first graders on the playground, simply running as a group. Swooping here and there, in unison, shifting without any formal organization. Feeling the full joy of their bodies and hearts. Transforming their running into soaring.
Like a flock of birds.
I’ve always found peace in watching birds.
Find your peace this Labor Day. If it’s diving into bed and staying there, so be it. If it’s turning your face to the sun with the corners of your mouth slightly lifted, so much the better.
May the fall season bring all of your dreams and hopes to fruition, like a late harvest.
Infertility Diagnoses and Peer Support Groups
We all feel pain about infertility and fertility treatment. Modify that; most of us, at some point or another, do feel frustration, disappointment, fear and/or upset at one point or another after we realize that becoming pregnant and staying pregnant to deliver our baby is not coming easily.
Whether conception is elusive because of ovulation, uterine, tubal, male factor, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), endometriosis, diminished ovarian reserve or unexplained problems, the feelings are very similar and mainly, we get past the differences and see where we meet on common ground, especially in peer support groups.
I have spent decades proclaiming that pain is pain is pain is pain. What the reasons are, don’t really matter. If you have experienced pain, then you have the capacity to be empathetic because you know what pain feels like. The specific details don’t get in the way of relating to the other person or cause.
Why then does getting a group of people together who are experiencing similar problems work so well about finding support?
Because it’s comforting to speak with and be heard by others that truly get “it”. The specific “it” that you are hurting over. Peer support groups and professionally led support groups are an emotional relief because there is a group of someone’s who are addressing your flavor of pain, so to speak.
I have not been an advocate of separating out for specific reasons when it comes to infertility. Look back at my original list of reasons on why infertility is occurring. None of those specific problems prevent us from hearing about another’s pain about not conceiving. We don’t generally feel jealous or envious about another’s pain. Not generally. There are almost always sparks of “I wish” in groups. “I wish I had better health insurance; I wish I had started trying to conceive earlier; I wish I had a better support system; I wish I had more money for treatment.” There’s almost always a moment during a group where a participant feels that way. It does not seem to get in the way of offering and accepting support from one another. Even the acknowledgment of those feelings create an atmosphere of honesty that encourages digging deeper and offering more in a loving and genuine way.
Lately, there is an exception to this list of infertility diagnoses that has caused more of a rift than any others that I listed.
The Divide Between Secondary and Primary Infertility
That exception is secondary infertility. (Informal secondary infertility definition - having a child whether or not through fertility treatment and trying for another child.) My personal bias is that I have wanted to keep those women in our groups. That theirs is also a different “flavor” of pain, but pain nonetheless, requite with very specific aspects. And for the five years that Carrie Van Steen and I have run Ladies Night In, through Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT), we have excluded no one. Everyone has been welcome.
Mainly, that has worked over the years. Right now, it’s working less well.
The big, white elephant in the room with secondary infertility is this: there is a big, gaping chasm between “mommy” and “not mommy”. The fear that is present with those with primary infertility is that they will never be mommy.
Their reality is that they are not yet mommy’s. And their fear is that their dreams will not come true to become mommy’s. I know. I felt that. It is not an irrational fear either, unfortunately. Fertility treatment does not work for every single man or woman who seeks to have a child.
Not being a mommy is not the fear with those hoping for their next child. I am not in any way diminishing the pain that secondary infertility patients feel. Their hopes and dreams about having their precious babies have a sibling. Having the painful questions, often from that child, about why there is no baby brother or sister and that there might not be one. Being around other mommy’s and their pregnant bellies with no escape because you have a child in pre-school and absolutely have to be there. It can be awful. Painful. Hurtful. Please believe me when I say that I get it. It’s the reason that I didn’t want to separate people with secondary and primary infertility to begin with, many years ago.
And still. We recognize the privileges that our secondary infertility patients have. Holding their child. Putting them to bed. Singing a lullaby. Wiping away tears when necessary. Seeing them smile when they see you.
They are mommy’s.
Those of us with primary infertility are not. The resentment between members is more poignant and pointed when that is the dividing line rather than having a different diagnosis.
The conversations are different when you are already a mommy. The concerns are different. The pain has a different flavor. We want mommy’s to be able to discuss what they need to discuss. We just don’t want to do it at the expense of the women in the group who have not become mommy’s yet.
I’m rethinking my stance on this. Carrie and I are considering new models. It may very well be that we, RMACT, offer more specific groups so that discussions can happen more freely and openly.
Tell me. What do you think?
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Fertility Medical Monday
Taking stock for Medical Monday, there are basic assumptions that we make about our bodily functions.
1. We breathe and our hearts beat
2. We sleep
3. We eat
4. We drink
5. We eliminate food and water (we pee, we poop)
6. We make babies
Our bodies are human bodies. Sometimes there are glitches (little problems or difficulties in operating properly) to any of those basic functions. And there are so many other functions that our bodies perform that we are not aware of on a moment by moment basis. We tend to notice a glitch in any of those listed above though. Why? Because they all have one thing in common. They all call our attention.
If not sated, they call our attention more urgently. If we are not breathing or our hearts are beating irregularly, for the most part, you will know it. You will be uncomfortable or unable to behave in a normal way in your life. When we don't sleep enough, we are exhausted. We don't perform basic tasks well and our memories and our patience is often much more limited. We are short tempered. Number three is easy, isn't it? If we don't eat, we become hungry. Very simple. And our bodies have a fail safe system of dealing with that. If we don't eat, we become more hungry. That cycle continues until we feed ourselves. There is no other way to manage hunger for any long amount of time. Eventually hunger wins out or we cannot survive. True of drinking fluids as well. More true of fluids actually. We, as humans, can go far longer without food than we can go without water. True too of fluids that the sensation of thirst, becomes more and more intense until we satisfy ourselves by drinking. That urge to drink becomes stronger and stronger. It does not fade. We eliminate bodily waste. We pee. We poop. We all know what those urges feel like. Enough said. You get it. We all need to pee and poop.
Making Babies - Something More Complicated
Then we come to making babies. Now this one is a little more complicated in some senses. On the one hand, it not a physiological need that we feel from the moment that we are born. The other functions on that list are present from the moment that we are born. Babies come with the ability to signify those needs from day one by crying. Those are the things that we check on if a baby is crying. We don't check and see if the biological need/desire is operating when an infant is crying. And yet. We do understand that the urge to procreate is one of the strongest instincts that we have. Right up there with the others on that list. Please notice. Having a great career is not on that list. Owning our own homes is not on that list. Traveling to new places; not on that list. Having babies is on that list because it is a biological function and need/desire. There are sociological, familial, societal, historical and even anthropological pressures that spur that need/desire on as well. Of that there is no doubt at all. Still first there is a biological urge present in most human beings.
Unlike the other items on this list, this one is not present in every single human being. No judgment on those who don't have it. It's just that unlike those other things, one can live childfree, without conceiving and rearing a child. But please stop for a moment. I've led you down a path and taken you off the central point. Here we come back to the point. Most human beings have and want to fulfill that urge/desire/need to procreate. Most of us have that in common. Just as we have all those other bodily functions and needs in common. (And many other bodily functions that don't cry out for attention in the same way.) Whether you live in or are from any of the four continents, regardless of your economic reality or your gender or your sexual identity, we have this in common. Most of us have that desire to procreate. So is it a hope, desire, urge, need or fundamental core instinct? Here are a few elementary definitions to perhaps help us figure this one out.
Hope - want something to happen or be the case. What we wish for.
Desire - a strong feeling to have something or wishing for something to happen.
Urge - strong desire or impulse.
Instinct - an innate, typically fixed pattern of behavior in response to certain stimuli.
Need - require (something) because it is essential or necessary.
Is it significant to understand what this urge/desire/need is? Is it simply ok to know that it exists without worrying about the whys? In my opinion? No. We as a society communicate a certain amount by talking. So language is more than significant or important, it's vital to understanding one another. And I never want to hear our desire/needs/instincts trivialized. I would like the conversation to shift away from "wanting" a baby to all of us understanding, deep down, that it is much more than that. That it is on the list of our most basic human functions that at a certain time in our lives will call our attention as strongly as our thirst and our hunger. If you are feeling that desire, that urge, that HOPE, then please know this. Even if you are struggling with infertility, something is working just the way it should be. Your instincts and urges are right in line with the rest of the human race. Maybe you need help. Don't we all, at some time or another? Isn't that why we are here? To help one another? That's my sole purpose for being here, writing to you. Thanks for listening.
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How to Make Fertility Treatment Decisions
Our wonderful new addition to the Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT) team, Lisa Schuman, has shared some thoughts about how to make decisions while in fertility treatment.
Her thoughtful blog just might be a place to start to shift your thinking from being desire-centered to healthy-centered. You'll know what I mean when you read it. Enjoy. ~Lisa Rosenthal
Another way to look at fertility treatment, it may be wise to think twice…
The process of going through infertility treatment is often difficult. In fact, we know that it can be incredibly stressful and even depressing. When we are in a stressed or depressed state it is hard to think clearly.
When we are stressed we often turn to things that will make us feel better or will quickly reduce our stressors. We may eat that extra piece of cake, have more to drink or skip exercise. We can also skip our appointments with our primary care physician because one more medical appointment is too much. Or we stop or delay fertility treatment. This is all understandable and of course we need to have room to be human and not judge ourselves. However, we can attempt to be thoughtful about our decisions by asking ourselves one important question: “What is in my best interest?”
This question is complicated. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we do what we feel, it doesn’t necessarily mean do what we “think” we need to do and it doesn’t necessarily mean we push ourselves harder, although it can mean any of these things. Confused? Lets look at our decision making from a different lens. Our goal can be to make the choice that requires us to think about our needs, our desires, our relationships and our long and short-term goals.
This requires us to pause and often make a collaborative plan with our partners. A plan that will explore all roads before making a decision. Therefore, if our doctor says it would make sense to try again and our partners want us to try right away but we are tired and want a break we need to consider that. But the thinking doesn’t stop there. If it’s a quiet time at work so we can get to appointments more easily than usual and we are concerned about our biological clock, we must consider that too.
Each element carries different weight. So if our partner has a strong feeling about moving forward, that carries a lot of weight. If we have many pregnant friends and we feel pressured to catch up then that would carry less weight--not in terms of acknowledging our feelings but in terms of taking action. Sometimes, in the moment, it is hard to distinguish the important from what feels urgent or immediate. It’s also hard to have respect for our feelings but not necessarily act on them. Yet if we are truly going to make good and thoughtful decisions about our choices then we need to think about what is in our best interest.
This process does not have to happen alone. We have a great team of social workers to help you talk things through and a great nutritionist, acupuncturists and Fertile Yoga teacher to help with stress reduction and the improvement of your overall health. We know that when we feel better it’s easier to have the peace of mind to work things through.
Ultimately, thinking twice by really thinking through our decisions is the best we can expect from ourselves. At the very least we know we can end each day having completed the goal of being the star player on our own team. There are very few right answers but if we think through our decisions we can be clear about the answers that are right for us.
SuperSperm - A New Phrase Coined at Ladies Night In
A new phrase coined last night at Ladies Night In. Said with a sense of humor. With a sense of irony. With a definite sense of affection.
It’s said by the men in some of our lives when they find out their sperm count is just fine. Better than fine. Super even. I wonder if any semen analysis count has ever really said that. Super sperm.
How come these normally rather sensitive men, who really love us don’t get it?
How come they don’t get when they proudly announce they are in possession of SuperSperm, that we then feel the finger pointing right at us about whose fault it is that we are not conceiving? We know they aren’t necessarily saying that. But if they have SuperSperm, then whose fault is it?
It’s not that we’re not happy for them or that we wished that the results were different. It’s just that if they’re ok, then even if a fertility doctor can’t find the problem with us, we still know it’s us. Because it’s not them. They are in possession of SuperSperm.
I kind of like it. SuperSperm.
Shouldn’t we have an equivalent for our eggs? A few ideas:
- Wonder eggs
- Eggs Supreme
- Excellent Egg
I don’t really think any of them have the same ring that SuperSperm has, maybe that’s why many men have come up with that phrase independently of one another. They are rightly relieved and even proud to know that their fertility is intact. We’re happy for them. Really, we are.
Unexplained Infertility and Relief from Guilt
We just still don’t want it to be us. And especially with unexplained infertility, we really don’t know what tiny, little piece of ours doesn’t quite fit with some tiny, little, indecipherable piece of theirs. We don’t know who it is exactly when all the testing comes back that everything is fine. SuperSperm and Excellent Egg still sometimes don’t create a pregnancy or a baby that emerges nine months later.
Very frustrating. Yes, maybe it seems like there should be relief in knowing that nothing major is wrong. And there is. We don’t want anything to be wrong, yet with no answers as to what’s wrong, there’s a feeling that there’s less that can be done because there’s nothing to fix.
Is it comforting that with an IVF cycle so many potential small problems are bypassed? That problems that can’t be detected won’t matter because the cycle is being handled, one step at a time?
I don’t know. Maybe all this is comforting in some moments and not in others. Maybe we can be happy when SuperSperm is elated that there’s no detectable problem with him without immediately blaming ourselves.
It’s great when there’s one less problem to worry about. No doubt about it.
I just wish it didn’t immediately make us point the finger at ourselves.
The compassion we would show our partners if SuperSperm turned out to be SubFertileSperm could be the same compassion we could show ourselves if the problem does lie with us.
If we were half as kind and considerate to ourselves as we are to our partners, friends, colleagues and family members, we would be far better off.
Don’t you deserve that? Don’t we all deserve that?
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Infertility Treatment - My Mantra
There is not one way to do things. There is not one way to do things. There is not one way to do things.
It’s my new mantra when I want things done exactly the way that I want them done, in exactly the time that I want them done in, for exactly as long as I want them done for.
I believe I know the best way to do things. Sometimes I’m right. And sometimes I’m not.
I wanted to micromanage everything about my fertility treatment. I wanted to know every measurement of every endometrial lining or follicle, every level of every blood draw for every hormone level.
Anything that the doctor knew, I wanted to know.
What to Consider While Trying to Conceive?
Big problem there was that I didn’t have the training to put what I was told into an understandable context. Often it seemed that I knew just enough to get myself into big trouble. Trouble emotionally because everything felt so much larger, scarier and more dire. I knew enough to understand when things weren’t quite right but not enough to know how much it could or would affect my fertility treatment or my possibility of conceiving.
It was like reading the package on the medications.
Oh, yes, I read them. Every single line. Despite only understanding, truly understanding, about a tenth of what I was reading.
What? Did you think you were the only one? Not a chance.
I read about the side effects, the contraindications, every study or trial where it was mentioned.
It was a wonder that I had time for anything else.
In the end, did it raise or lower my anxiety? Did I learn something that I needed to know?
What I read created a list of questions for my doctors and it gave me an opportunity to find out what had significance and what did not. It gave me a chance to let my doctors know what my concerns, worries and hopes were. It gave me a chance to hear answers that were either soothing or alarming and investigate further to make sure that I was making decisions that I was comfortable with and could live with.
Still, I come back to my mantra.
There is not one way to do things.
Making Individual Choices During Fertility Treatment
We all get to make our individual choices. We all have to live with ourselves. We make decisions and it’s ok if it’s vastly different than someone else’s. It doesn’t make them right and you wrong and it doesn’t make you right and them wrong.
With infertility and fertility treatment, you have to live in your own skin and respect your own timeframe. Someone else may skip IUI’s and go straight to IVF (in vitro fertilization). They have their reasons. Reasons that they may not choose to share or even understand well enough to verbalize. Reasons that would not apply to you in your life circumstances.
There is not one way to do things.
Even with fertility treatment.
Or maybe, if you are honoring yourself as a whole person, maybe especially with infertility treatment.
With any decision that you make, count on us to be here for you.
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Fertility Nutritionist Carolyn Gundell
Fertility Nutritionist Carolyn Gundell
on the RMACT team may be the single most responsible person for creating lifestyle changes in our patients. In a non-judgmental, non-restrictive way, Carolyn gently guides men and women with healthy food plans, discussions about body composition, and blood work results. She has helped our patients and non-patients as well in avoiding stages of diabetes and has successfully guided them to weight loss, thus making the attempt to become pregnant safer with a greater chance for success.
She is a tireless advocate of fertility patients.
And just to prove my point about her understanding that men and women in the midst of fertility treatment want to continue to eat delicious food, voila. Here are two recipes that are "Carolyn" approved. In fact she was kind enough to share these recipes with the entire RMACT team.
With no guilt, Bon Appetite!
Delicious Recipes for Fertility Friendly Foods
Greek Yogurt Pancakes
These are amazing and quick to make. The texture is somewhat like a crepe.
6 oz of your favorite greek yogurt
½ cup flour (I use whole grain white flour- also called white whole wheat)
1 tsp baking soda
1. Stir yogurt until well blended. Place 6 oz in bowl. Crack egg over yogurt and stir to combine. No problem if there is a few lumps.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking soda.
3. Pour yogurt/egg mixture into the bowl with flour and baking soda. Stir to combine. The batter will be extremely thick.
4. Spoon the batter onto a sprayed griddle or pan. NOT TOO HOT!. Flip the pancake once they start to bubble a bit on the surface.
Makes about 8 small pancakes.
Serve with fresh strawberries and or more yogurt.
1. For lower calorie and lower cholesterol/fat – use nonfat yogurt and / or 2 egg whites instead of 1 whole egg.
2. Batch ahead and toast on another day
Pumpkin, Carrot, Greek yogurt Muffins
Source: Adapted from the The Looneyspoons Collection
◦ 1-1/4 cups whole grain white flour
◦ 1/4 cup wheat germ
◦ ¼ cup whole wheat flour
◦ 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (*see note at bottom if you don’t have this)
◦ 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
◦ 1 tsp baking soda
◦ 1/2 tsp salt
◦ 1 cup pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
◦ 1/2 cup plain low-fat greek yogurt
◦ 1/3 - 1/2 cup honey
◦ 1/4 cup canola oil
◦ 1 egg
◦ 1 tsp vanilla
◦ 1 cup grated carrots
◦ Optional - 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans or sunflower seeds
*how to make pumpkin pie spice: 1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp each ground ginger and nutmeg
◦ Preheat oven to 375 F. prep 12-cup muffin pan muffin liners
◦ In a large bowl, combine flour, wheat germ, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
◦ In a medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, yogurt, honey, oil, egg and vanilla. Stir in carrots. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir using a wooden spoon just until moistened. Fold in seeds and / or nuts. Batter will be thick.
◦ Divide batter evenly among 12 muffin cups. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
With over 20 years of nutrition experience, Carolyn has a special interest in helping women with conditions that affect fertility, including insulin resistance, diabetes Type1/Type 2, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), lipid disorders, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, underweight and overweight concerns. Carolyn earned her M.S. in Nutrition from Columbia University and completed her undergraduate studies in Biology/Nutrition at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven. She is trained as a Research Associate in Clinical Skills Training, and is certified in HIPAA, CPR, First Aid and Food Safety & Sanitation. Previously, Carolyn worked at Pediatric Endocrine & Diabetes Specialists, The Center for Advanced Pediatrics, both in Norwalk and at Yale University Medical Center’s Obesity, Diabetes, PCOS Clinic and The Yale Fertility Center.
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Fertility Specialists' Glossary Available
The RMACT (Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut) website has features that you may not be aware of, including a glossary of terms that can help you decipher what you may need to know about your fertility treatment or diagnosis.
Our glossary of terms has been written primarily by our fertility specialists (board certified reproductive endocrinologists), and occasionally by other members of our clinical team here at RMACT.
If there is a term that you are unfamiliar with in regards to your fertility or your infertility treatment cycles or protocol, I’m certain that you can find it here. If not, please do let me know and I will ask one of the RMACT physicians to write a definition for you. It's certainly a lot easier to go through fertility treatment when you understand the language.
Good reading ~ Lisa Rosenthal
Infertility Definition: Terms Made Simple
Corpus Luteum: A special gland that forms from the ovulated follicle in the ovary. It produces progesterone during the second half of the menstrual cycle which is necessary to prepare the uterine lining for implantation. It also supports early pregnancies by secreting the necessary hormones until the placenta becomes fully functional between 8-10 weeks of gestation.
Cyst: A fluid filled structure. Cysts may be found anywhere in the body, but in reproductive medicine we primarily refer to them in the ovaries. Ovarian cysts may be normal or abnormal depending on the circumstances. Often they are just follicles that have not been fully reabsorbed from previous menstrual or treatment cycles. They are very common in both natural and stimulated cycles.
Fibroids: Overgrowth of the muscular tissue of the uterus. Fibroids are typically knotty masses of benign muscle tissue that can distort the shape and function of the uterus. They are typically classified in to three categories: sub-mucosal, intramural and serosal. Sub-mucosal fibroids are found in the uterine cavity and impair implantation. They need to be removed in order to conceive. Intramural fibroids are problematic when they become severely enlarged or impinge on the uterine cavity. Sub-serosal fibroids generally are left alone during fertility treatments.
Follicle: A fluid-filled pocket in the ovary that houses the microscopic egg. Each ovary has many follicles within it. Follicles start out extremely small and then grow larger under the influence of hormones (and the medications that mimic these hormones). Follicles are lined with granulosa cells which produce estrogen and nourish the oocyte (egg). Each Follicle contains a single oocyte.
Polyp: An overgrowth of the glandular surface of the endometrium. Polyps are often removed by hysteroscopic surgery to remove any impediments to implantation.
See more infertility definitions in RMACT's glossary of terms.
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Infertility Exhaustion Explained by Ladies Night In
Infertility can be exhausting.
Not the physical treatments. No, fatigue is not really a side effect of any of the fertility medications or procedures.
Here’s a short list on what our women from last night’s “Ladies Night In” report on being exhausting:
1. Tracking your period
2. Receiving a rather large box of IVF medications and figuring out when to use what and how (even with a teach class that explains it and even with a step by step video on the patient portal)
3. Determining how much coffee is safe to drink
4. Determining how and when it’s ok to have a glass of wine . . .
- A cookie
- A very rigorous workout
- A long, hot bath
- A plane trip
- Cleaning the cat’s litter box
- A diet soda
5. Making sure that any information that you are reading on the internet is reliable and not hysterical or biased based on the author’s very specific agenda
6. Determining what supplements are safe and effective to take, which aren’t
7. Does XXX (insert almost any activity) compromise a fertility treatment cycle?
8. Having to focus on all these things, plus doctor’s appointments and phone calls, medications to take and to stop taking, AND not focusing on conceiving almost every single moment of your life.
Focus on Infertility (No, Wait, Don't)
Yes, exhausting is the word, isn’t it? Our women last night especially had a good laugh over the last one. Make sure that you track every bite of food that you put in your mouth because it can make a difference, but depending on your infertility diagnosis, not THAT big a difference. Change your entire life; what you eat, how much you exercise and how, when and where and if you take vacations, with whom you share your confidences and more.
Yes, definitely then also, please, don’t focus on your infertility.
After a respectable amount of time.
Are you kidding me? (Insert anything that fits well for you before the word “kidding”).
Right. Change your entire life so that you maximize your chances to become pregnant but don’t focus on your fertility.
That’s the most exhausting part, really.
In case it is at all helpful, I’d like to make a suggestion.
How to Take a Break: A Shortlist
Give yourself a rest. A break. A nap. A run. A yoga class. A movie. A trashy book.
Just give yourself a break.
Even if no one else is and you are in the middle of treatment.
Take a five minute or five hour break.
Stick your head deeply into the sand and know that it actually will be ok.
Suggestions out there about how to effectively take a break that will not make you fold in half with guilt?
My short list continues with a funny movie, a pedicure, a good book, a podcast of “wait, wait, don’t tell me” (laugh until you cry), a craft.
I would love to hear your ideas on what to do when I am ready for a break.
After all, it is Friday.
Tonight Fertile Yoga in Bethel, CT at the beautiful Yogaspace. From 6-7:15 p.m. Open to the public, as always.
Maybe that’s your break, right there.
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