Trying to Become Pregnant - Nope, It's Not All About the Medications
A needle in a haystack. That’s what I felt like I was searching for while I was trying to become pregnant.
Mainly, it felt impossible after a while. Granted, I was in fertility treatment for a long time and, with each successive “failure,” I lost a certain amount of hope that it would ever work. If you looked inside me, you could probably see the faith diminishing, literally leaking out of the pores of my skin.
My possibilities of pregnancy were about 22%. At that time (a very, very long time ago), I was very young, twenty-six, and those were the highest pregnancy success rates around. They roughly equalled those of a “normally fertile couple” trying to conceive on their own.
22% didn’t feel high. Or lucky. Or even possible. They felt like a needle in a haystack.
How do you even go about finding a needle in a haystack? I supposed it had to do with being methodical. Making sure to take one step at a time and to make sure, while doing so that, it was the right step, in the right direction.
Pulling each piece of hay and putting it aside. Pulling the next piece out and laying it down.
Creating a new pile, with known answers. There was no needle; no pregnancy, no possibility in that pile. It was empty.
Next piece of hay. Next test. Next ultrasound. Next piece of information. A rather exhausting process. Done one piece at a time, though, manageable. It was not always easy to look up and see the huge pile in front of me, so I simply didn’t look up. Before I knew it, years had passed.
When you consider all the things that need to occur at the right time, in the right amount, in the right sequence, it’s amazing anyone ever gets pregnant. And so I kept trying.
Time and Painful Perseverance
I kept looking for that needle in the haystack, head down; kept processing what was in front of me. Rarely did I lift my head and see the bigger picture. It was mainly looking at the next step and taking it, slowly and methodically. Sometimes painfully.
Rarely did I notice what I was giving up. By not looking up, I operated with a myopic view. When I did take that furtive glance around, it was scary. Time was passing me by. I was no longer twenty-six. I had gotten older. Everyone had. My job had changed, my family experienced other losses and life was not what it had been when I started.
The needle in the haystack was more and more elusive.
When I looked up though, I realized what I had been unable to see before.
The pile was smaller.
Much, much smaller.
And so I kept hunting.
Until I was done.
And when I was done, I was done.
Needle or no needle, I was done.
The whole world opened up to me, in all its sweetness and light.
I left that pile of hay, with the needle unfound and turned towards the rest of my life.
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Pregnancy Wait and See Days
The dreaded two week wait is no longer that.
With in vitro fertilization (IVF), it used to be that there were two weeks after the transfer of embryos to just wait and see about the outcome. In other words, two weeks to hope, notice every single little twinge in your body, receive more baby announcements and generally try to carry on with your life before a reliable pregnancy test could be done to say yes or no to a successful fertility treatment cycle.
These days, with embryos being transferred more commonly at day 5, there are really only ten days that you have to wait to find out about pregnancy.
To be honest, I’m not even quite sure of the math here. I know that embryos are being transferred to the woman’s uterus later, with the embryo older. I know because of this that the wait for the pregnancy test is a shorter time. If you need a more clinical or scientific description, please let me know and I’ll ask one of our fertility doctors. It’s not exactly the point of this blog; still I don’t want to confuse anyone out there.
Counting Down While Trying to Conceive
Whether it's two weeks or ten days, it can feel like forever when you are waiting and hoping, trying to conceive. It feels like time has slowed way down. While everything else is at normal speed, minutes can pass and feel like hours. You look at the clock and it can’t possibly be that time. It must be later. Yet it’s not.
Productivity can be way off during this waiting time. Your focus can be off or it can be micro-directed. It’s pretty typical to feel distracted and off-kilter. It may be the first time you’re wondering what is happening in your body.
You know that embryos that were dividing and “growing” were transferred back into your body. Are they still? It’s hard not to wonder. Perhaps you say a prayer or blessing for the embryo to continue to divide. Perhaps you just try to ignore the whole thing.
There is no one right way to get through this time period. I’ve written blogs before on suggestions on what to do while waiting that include funny movies, bad books, etc. Here you can find my pep talk on waiting, waiting, and more waiting! and many more here on the two week wait as well as a bounty of weekend ideas.
Some of us dive into it, some of us swim as fast as we can in the other direction.
A New Vision for the Two Week Wait
Here’s a new vision for the two week wait, inspired by a loved one and a blog he wrote from India on Buddhism and Facebook. Quite the combination, hmm?
My vision. Floating on my back in water that is neither too cold nor too warm. Comfortable and satisfying. Effortlessly floating with my arms soft by my sides, palms up. Eyes closed, looking softly inward, not for answers, just content to breathe into my own inner landscape. A soft sun on my face, the light coming in through my closed eyelids, brightening my every cell. The quiet movement of the water in harmony with my breath. I float, no more striving or doing or resisting.
I don’t wait. Or distract. I simply float.
If that’s not possible for you as you wait, then please picture me floating. Perhaps reach out a tentative hand. I will hold on. I am waiting with you.
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RMACT Joins RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association® to Observe National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW)
Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT) and RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association (NIAW) will recognize the twenty-fifth Anniversary of National Infertility Awareness Week®, April 20 through April 26, joining millions of women and men fighting the disease of infertility, healthcare professionals, psychologists, and other thought leaders to promote greater awareness about infertility.
RESOLVE works to improve the lives of women and men living with infertility. One in eight U.S. couples of childbearing age is diagnosed with infertility. RESOLVE addresses this public health issue by providing community to these women and men, connecting them with others who can help, empowering them to find resolution and giving voice to their demands for access to all family building options.
Creating Awareness About Infertility
"Education and awareness are our most powerful tools against infertility," says Dr. Spencer Richlin, an RMACT reproductive endocrinologist who will be participating in RESOLVE's Advocacy Day on May 7, 2014 in Washington, DC. "Through NIAW and Advocacy Day, we are creating awareness about infertility among Congress and anyone who plans to have a family. After all, even patients who are otherwise healthy can struggle with infertility."
Throughout the year, RMACT helps educate patients about healthy pregnancies and their fertility through individual medical care, seminars, workshops and written materials. During NIAW, RMACT is hosting several free fertility events in Connecticut.
Connecticut Fertility Events
- Fertility Yoga, 5:45 – 7:00 p.m., Trumbull Office (115 Technology Drive, Suite C200)
- Ladies Night In, 6:45 – 8:00 p.m., Trumbull Office (115 Technology Drive, Suite C200)
- Fertile Yoga, 5:45 – 7:00 p.m., Norwalk Office (20 Glover Avenue)
- Prenatal Yoga, 7:15 – 8:15 p.m., Norwalk Office (20 Glover Avenue)
- Fertile Yoga, 6:00 – 7:15 p.m., YogaSpace in Brookfield (777 Federal Road)
- Fertile Meal Planning, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m., Norwalk Office (20 Glover Avenue)
"The theme of National Infertility Awareness Week® is 'Resolve to know more,' and RESOLVE is delighted to work with practices and organizations across the country to call attention to the disease of infertility," said Barbara Collura, RESOLVE's President/CEO. "This is a wonderful week when our community comes together to rally around the cause of infertility."
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Infertility Springs Into Ladies Night In Support Group
I’m a weather person. I believe we can learn most of our life’s lessons through the weather. One of the things that I constantly and persistently rail against is the idea of ugly or perfect weather. Sort of like the idea of an ugly or perfect life.
It’s not that I think that into every life a little rain should fall. It should and it will. I just don’t love thinking in clichés. And sometimes it’s impossible to enjoy or appreciate that metaphorical rain. Perhaps it’s just easier for me to understand the necessity of rain, wind and even snow than it is to understand a disease like infertility.
Disease. Dis-ease. Maybe it’s written right into the word. We sit in dis-ease with infertility. Discomfort. Like the metaphorical rain that falls into our lives. It is so clear to me to see the relationship between the rain today, which is falling lightly but still persistently and the burst of colorful joy in the natural world around us that is spring revealing itself.
Do I see as clearly the abundance that sitting in a disease offers us? The revealing of our truest character, perhaps? The strength that we never knew that we had? The ability to be kind even when we are in despair? I am far more shortsighted with infertility.
Ladies Night In - Infertility Support Group
Luckily, I have had an ever changing group of women for the last many years to remind me. They have different names and faces and still, they are each their own unique selves. They are the women that Carrie Van Steen and I are so honored to be with in Ladies Night In. They have names and faces and lovely and loving personalities.
Carrie Van Steen and I are often along for the ride in these groups. We meet three times a month; once in Norwalk, once in Danbury and once in Trumbull. Each meeting has its own different flavor and texture. Each group has its own sense of humor.
What each group has in common is friendship. Love. Laughter. Honesty. Integrity.
They support each other through understanding how a fertility cycle works. How a medication is injected. Through the fear of the first injection and the possible side effects. They lend a sympathetic ear when another bombardment of birth announcements has passed someone’s way. They offer suggestions on how to handle yet one more baby shower invitation. They hold each other’s hands through the wait to see how a fertility cycle will turn out and the progression of a precious pregnancy.
The bonds that these very special women have are the result of the metaphorical rain. They raise our spirits, as well as their own. They remind Carrie and me how helpful and inspiring it is to come together and share our experiences.
They are special women indeed.
Thursday night, we meet in Norwalk. An extraordinary occurrence in each and every Ladies Night In group is the ability for the group to expand to include the newcomer who joins us. She’s usually easy to identify. She’s the one sitting quietly, looking like she’d like to disappear in the talkative group of friends.
And that is just when magic occurs. Someone reaches out to her. Asks her name. Welcomes her in. Introduces her around to the other women who are chattering around her. So the group expands their loveliness and liveliness to yet another woman who needs support and friendly companionship.
These days, Carrie and I just trust that it will happen. It will invariably happen as one or the other of us is walking over to bring her into the group. It almost always happens before we reach her. Our Ladies Night In wonderwomen expand to include someone who needs to be there.
For Carrie and I? Ladies Night In is the result of the metaphorical rain. The disease revealing itself in all it’s healthy and brilliant glory.
We all invite you to come join us. It’s a special place, just for you. Come find some comfort. A laugh. A place where you will find empathy but not pity.
Come join us and find a friend.
April 17, Thursday, Norwalk at 20 Glover Avenue, after Fertile Yoga, from 6:45-8:00. April 23, Wednesday, Trumbull at 115 Technology Drive, after Fertile Yoga, from 6:45-8:00.
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Casting Light on Infertility Struggles
Infertility struggles tend to make us go underground, makes us feel less alive, less awake, less whole. Perhaps infertility could be described as the winter season, everything going inwards, hibernating, seemingly dead. Love is always present--regardless of the season, though--and as we move forward into warmth, love has the chance to emerge more fully.
The Moon Phases and Easter, Passover and Ramadan
It's Spring, a time of rebirth, new growth, Passover and Easter. Ramadan, arguably the most significant observance of the Muslim year, begins in late June this year. All of these observances are based on many things, the moon phases being the most important, which they all have in common. The length of each month in the Jewish calendar ranges between 29 to 30 days, according to the lunar cycles, although the solar calendar dictates the amount of months in a year. Passover comes on the same day every year, the fifteenth day of Nissan. Ramadan is based strictly on when the sliver of the new moon is seen. Easter comes on the first Sunday after the full moon, following the vernal equinox.
We know that the moon has a powerful effect on the earth, just as the earth has a powerful effect on the moon. The moon stabilizes the earth and prevents dramatic movement in the poles. The moon also is mainly responsible for the tides in our ocean as it rotates around us, taking it's time, about a month. The earth exerts gravity and keeps the moon orbiting around us.
And so we have a full moon tonight, whether it is raining or not, it is full. The first night of Passover Seder is tonight after sundown, after the first three stars would be able to be seen. In Israel, there is one Seder at the beginning of Passover; in the United States, many Jewish families create two Seders to ensure that one has observed on the correct day, given the international timeline.
Family Craziness and Emerging Into Spring
In my crazy family, of course it's made sense in the past to have three Passover Seders. We've celebrated the first night and the next night with friends and extended family, and the way the hoiday fell in prior years, we came together on Saturday, between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, for the "family" Seder. Because, really, it is all about family. And our families have very different shapes and forms.
A family can look so many different ways. In my family alone, we have families that include biological parents, stepparents, single parents, non-parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, childfree by choice, and more. None of the children seem particularly confused or upset by the coming together of family, some of whom they only see once or twice a year. It's apparent that for all of my family's craziness (and there is plenty), the acceptance of family is spreading to the next generation.
It comes down to love, I think. Not the moon, not even which, if any, religions you observe or have faith in. But love. And where there is love, there is family.
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Gratitude is the heart's memory ~French proverb
I would rather be able to appreciate things I can not have than to have things I am not able to appreciate ~Elbert Hubbard
Two quotes about being grateful for today. I couldn't pick just one so I'm giving you both.
In honor of it being Friday. That way you can pick the one that resonates for you.
While I've always know the phrase TGIF, until today, I have never appreciated it quite so much.
Because today, I'm so unbelievably grateful it's Friday.
Understanding Infertility and Cultivating Gratitude
I'm grateful for my experiences in understanding infertility, today and last night. If it weren't for my experiences with infertility, I would not have the honor and privilage of sharing Fertile Yoga with the very special and dynamic women who come to class. I would not have the life I have right now, if it weren't for infertility.
I'm grateful for my husband. For his strength, grace, sense of humor and his presence. I remember things like the night he came home, exhausted, physically sore and still had it in him to fix the fuse box and go back outside in the rain for the dental floss.
I'm grateful for the people that I have in my life. I'm grateful to be as healthy as I am.
I'm grateful to do work that I believe in and that means so much to me.
I'm grateful for the ability to love the way that I do. With my full heart. Regardless of whether I should, I do.
I'm grateful for my wonderful colleagues that offer help and a smile. That truly work as a team, helping and supporting each other as well as all the men and women who are struggling to conceive. I have mentioned it before, but it's overdue, the RMACT team is a family that I feel grateful and blessed to have in my life at this time.
I'm grateful for my family.
I'm grateful that right this minute, I do not hear any rain!
I am grateful for those friends in my life who are there in real ways. Who I can tell the truth to, who I can answer honestly. I'm grateful that they see all of me, the good, the bad and the reallly awful and love me anyway.
I'm grateful for those in my heart, in my past, because I do remember. And I do believe that gratitude is the heart's memory. I appreciate those no longer actively in my life. And I miss some of them tremendously.
My heart remembers.
And I am grateful for the love. For I am truly loved.
What are you grateful for today?
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Stamford Hospital Fairfield County Women's Expo
The Stamford Hospital Fairfield County Women's Expo is coming up April 26 - 27, 2014 at the Stamford Plaza Hotel in Stamford, CT. This fifth annual event will feature free health screenings by Stamford Hospital staff as well as 250 unique vendors, prize giveaways, pet adoption and a whole lot more. Even celebrities from "Dancing With The Stars" will be present on Saturday from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Women's Health Event in April
RMACT is an exhibitor at this event and, as a result, we're able to offer a $5.00 off admission coupon, which can be printed and clipped from the image below. If you attend, please stop by our table and say hello!
Dates: April 26, 2014 and April 27, 2014
Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: $10 Regular ($5 with printed coupon), children 12 and under are free
Location: Stamford Plaza Hotel, 2701 Summer Street
Free indoor parking.
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Free CT Fertility Testing at RMA Stamford
Ever wonder how fertile you are? Ever worry about how you may not be as fertile as you would like to be? Even if you’re not interested in having babies yet, you may want to know that you can when you want to. A simple blood test can give you a lot of information that you don’t currently have.
This week, at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT), we are offering this test in our Stamford office for free. We want you to know what your fertility possibilities are so that you can include that information in your life planning.
The testing is free. What do you have to lose? Perhaps feelings of stress or worry about waiting to plan your family.
Please register for this event now.
Fertility Seminar and Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Test
A blood test is now able to tell women, more easily than ever before, about their potential to become pregnant. This blood test, known as Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH), helps doctors determine your chances of becoming pregnant now and in the future.What is Your Ovarian Reserve?
FREE testing is now available from RMA of Connecticut! There will be a brief presentation and a blood test. (You can take the test while on the birth control pill or at any time during your menstrual cycle.)
Our doctors and nurses will be present to discuss how AMH testing can indicate reproductive health. Participants will receive a call from an RMACT clinical staff member with test results within 10 business days.
Please join us! Registration is recommended. Get the information you need to plan for your future family.
Date: Thursday April 10, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
Location: 1290 Summer Street, Suite 3200, Stamford, CT 06950
Light refreshments will be included.
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Fertility Program FAQs for Trying to Conceive
Dr. Mark Leondires, Medical Director of our fertility program at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT), uses the term "subfertile". Not only is a lot more user-friendly than "infertile", it turns out to be a whole lot more accurate. Infertile would truly mean not to bother trying, it's not going to work. Subfertile means that there are may be a problem in becoming pregnant but there are also ways to overcome those problems.
Otherwise, no one would ever get pregnant in fertility treatment and, luckily, that is not the case.
It may be that you are trying on your own at home. If so, please read below to make sure that you are optimizing your chances of conceiving.
After all, timing isn't everything. But with fertility, infertility and especially subfertility, it's an awful lot.
These questions and answers and many more are questions that we are asked over and over again at RMACT and that have been answered either by our board certified reproductive endocrinologists or other specialized clinical staff. There are other questions in our FAQ section, which focuses on Infertility Answers and Pregnancy FAQs. And if there's a question that you have that is not there, please ask me. I'll find out the answer for you ~Lisa Rosenthal
At what time of the month is a woman fertile?
The most fertile time of a woman’s cycle is just before or the of day ovulation. Ovulation usually occurs two weeks before a period starts, so it is necessary to count backwards from the anticipated start of the next period in order to find the most fertile time.
Take the number of days in the usual cycle (from the beginning of one period to the beginning of the next) and subtract 14. For example, a woman with a 32-day period would likely ovulate around day 18 (32-14=18), while a woman with a 28-day cycle would ovulate around day 14 (28-14=14). We recommend every other day intercourse around the day of ovulation. That would mean days 12, 14 and 16 for women with 28 days cycles.
It is best to have intercourse before ovulation rather than afterwards, so a woman who ovulates on day 14 would have a good chance of conceiving if she has intercourse on either day 13 or 14. For women with irregular cycles you can extend the period of every other day sexual relations.
Alternatively, women with irregular cycles may want to use an ovulation predictor kit, which can be purchased over the counter at most local pharmacies. This involves testing your urine around the time of ovulation using a detector stick, which give you a visual reading. Additionally, there are electronic monitors which detect ovulation by tracking two hormones (estrogen and luteinizing hormone) starting with urine testing on day one of your menstrual cycle. The methods that utilize urine predictor sticks or urine ovulation detector machines are usually highly sensitive, accurate, and reliable.
How can a woman tell if she ovulates?
The simple, inexpensive way of finding out the approximate time of your ovulation is to take your basal temperature (that is, your body temperature at rest) every morning and record it on a chart. You can buy a Basal Body Thermometer at your local drug store. Save all your charts so you can review them with your doctor. Three or four months of charting should be adequate. If your temperature goes up after the middle of your menstrual month you likely do ovulate. In general you ovulate about two days prior to the temperature rise.
How often should you have intercourse?
It is a good idea to have intercourse every other day around the time you ovulate. Remember, every woman is different, and may not ovulate exactly on “Day 14.” And, just because you ovulated on “Day 14″ this month, doesn’t mean you will next month. It is preferable to have intercourse every other day rather than every day so that sufficient sperm will be available. To increase your chances of the egg becoming fertilized, do not douche or use lubricants immediately before having intercourse.
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Infertility Struggles: Taking A New Look
While you are in the midst of whatever you may be in the midst of, challenge yourself to take a look at the world through a different lens. Whether your struggle is about infertility or another health/life problem, here are a few suggestions for a new lens:
Maybe one of these words, actions, speak to you. Try them out by saying them each out loud. Which of them appeals to your heart?
These words are presented to you as verbs. They are actions. Put them on, try them out. My uncle wears his beloved’s sunglasses and sees the world through his eyes. What a lovely tribute.
I surround myself with friends who live life in a playful, fun way, so today, I chose laugh.
It spoke to me gently and then drew me back when I finished writing and creating the list.
Which one are you bringing in and letting you find something just a little different?
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