Archive for December, 2015
By Tracey Minella
December 31st, 2015 at 9:12 pm
Well, it’s the end of another year. If you’re not pregnant yet and desperately want to be, it is a time of frustration, despair, and sadness…especially if you’ve suffered miscarriages, losses, or failed IVF cycles.
But with the New Year comes new hope for a better outcome. Right? For that baby dream to come true. Right?
I said, “Right?”
Listen, I’ve been there. I used to have lots of hope at New Years. It was what got me through the special empty-armed pain of the holiday season with its nosy questions and its focus on the magic of children I didn’t yet have. But as several years rolled on with no baby in sight (as in 6 years and 6 IVF cycles), hope got hard to hold on to.
I got tired of hearing…from people who never had the right words…that I should have hope. I got tired of complying with that standard order. Tired of simply hoping I’d have a baby this year. I started feeling lame saying “I hope this year will be the year we finally have that baby” to those rude enough to ask. Part of me actually stopped believing. All I could think of on New Year’s Day was that if I didn’t conceive by March, I’d still not be a mom by next New Year’s! (Yes, I was that patient!) Hope began to feel like a wimpy and useless emotion that mocked me as the ball dropped.
Nothing underscores the maddening lack of control over your own body and your life that is the very definition of infertility quite like the passing of another year. The frustration can render you helpless and hopeless. The idea that whether or not you will become parents lies not in your own hands but in the skilled hands of a doctor (and your ability to afford those treatments) makes it hard to face each new day, much less a new year full of those days.
Then I realized this: Hope needs some help to survive. You must help it, because it’s one of two things you need. The other thing is an action plan.
Hope is what will get you out of bed each morning, and the steps of the plan are what you will focus on once you do get out of bed. How can you take back some control over your fertility? Is there something you can work on to improve your chances of success or something you can do to help finance the treatment? Sit down and figure out what the obstacles are and then try to make realistic plans to overcome them. Make actual steps to reach the goals and then take each step one at a time. The progress will help keep your hope alive. Even if you can’t fix everything, it’s worth trying to improve what you can.
Consider these as brainstorming starters:
- Weight loss or gain
- Stop smoking and drinking
- Eat healthier or organic if you can and try fertility-friendly foods
- Exercise and/or meditate
- Get checkups for fertility/general doctor/dental
- Complete routine scans and exams like mammograms and colonoscopies
- Consolidate debt if possible
- Investigate grants and loans for fertility treatment
- Financial checkup: New job possible? Salary raise due? Second job possible?
- Mental health checkup: Could you benefit from free or paid/private or group counseling or infertility support groups online?
- Holistic options: Ask your doctor about complementary holistic options to enhance fertility, like acupuncture, Reiki, or supplements
- Consider (or reconsider) a different family-building option like IVF with donor egg/sperm or embryo donation, surrogacy or a gestational carrier, or adoption.
As the New Year rolls in, take some time to reflect on what you do have in terms of supportive partners and family and friends, and what you can do to increase your chances that 2016 will be the best year yet. And keep that hope alive.
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Do you see New Year’s as mostly a new start and with hope, or is it a time of sadness for what is not yet here?
By Tracey Minella
December 27th, 2015 at 6:15 pm
I’m giving you a New Year’s resolution. You’ll thank me for it later.
I know why most of you don’t keep a journal. I missed out on the very beginning of my own story for the same reason… because you wish, hope, believe, or pray…that it won’t really become “a journey”. You assume it’ll be resolved fast… that next month will be the lucky one… and you will just get on with your life. That infertility will be just a little speed bump… instead of a potentially long and bumpy road. So you don’t write about it.
The thing is, even if it isn’t long, it’s important to write down what you’re going through because it’s probably the biggest and most important thing you’ve ever gone through. So if you haven’t already started one, your resolution will be to start a journal now.
1. Memory Fades: Even though you have committed every little detail about your failed cycles and the numbers and grades of frozen embryos to memory, those memories are going to fade. Especially if the journey lingers on… and the details about cycle 2 and 4 start to blend. Trust me on that one. You should have a place to look back on it all someday. And you will want to look back. Trust me on that, too. While you are living it, you can’t appreciate how strong you are. That only comes from hindsight.
2. It is Therapeutic: It’s another place to vent, and for those who hold everything in, it may be the only place to vent. And venting helps reduce stress. Reducing stress may help you conceive. It’s a good cycle.
3. It is Part of History: Your infertility journey, however long it may be, is taking place alongside history itself. Keeping a journal forces you to connect with today’s important news and events, when everything else about battling infertility could otherwise send you into self-imposed isolation. I’ll explain:
My own infertility journal chronicles what is arguably the most important day in U.S. history during my adult lifetime…September 11, 2011. I was newly-pregnant with my son, barely pregnant actually, after IVF cycle #7. And I was working as a medical assistant at Long Island IVF. Emotions poured onto the page about how we frantically tried to reach our patients who worked in Manhattan, how we inseminated a tearful woman who went on to conceive twins on that day, and how I worried about the world I was bring this baby into. I love that I have that story to share with my kids. Would I have remembered it anyway? Sure. But other less dramatic stories would have been lost. And having it in writing makes it like our own little family history textbook.
Maybe your story would be woven into events like the election of our next President, the passing and/or possible repeal of Common Core, the legalization of gay marriage, the eventual passing of the Family Act, effects of yet un-named hurricanes and blizzards, terrorist acts, or other historical events, good and bad, yet to unfold. Those events that people look back on and ask: “Where were you when…..happened?”
I know it’s hard to write it down. It’s hard enough to just live it. But do it as best you can. Daily. Weekly. Monthly. Even occasionally. The babies you’re working on having will consider it a gift someday. And when they pull the “History is stupid!” line, you’ll be ready.
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Do/Did you keep a journal? Do you have any stories to share about what you were doing…infertility-wise…on historically significant dates?
By Tracey Minella
December 20th, 2015 at 10:50 am
There’s been a post going around in social media that “as you get older your Christmas list gets shorter and the things you really want can’t be bought.”
For the majority of Americans, the materialistic part of Christmas begins innocently at birth, with the creation of mile-long “Wish Lists” for Santa and the often repeated question of “What do you want from Santa?”
It takes time and wisdom before many finally grow up to realize that we can celebrate in moderation. That we can focus less on getting… and more on giving to others in need. That nothing we can buy is more valuable than people and the ties that bind us.
Sometimes, it can take a major life setback or loss to reset our holiday priorities. Something like losing a loved one. Or not being able to have a baby.
Those suffering from infertility want only one thing for Christmas. And for many, we’ve been asking and waiting for it for more than one year.
We have no Christmas wish list worth sharing. We don’t care if you buy us a sweater or gift card or nothing at all. What we want can’t be bought from a store. It’s hard for us to celebrate at all, especially if surrounded by children that remind us of what we don’t yet have. It doesn’t mean we don’t love them…we certainly prove that by the torturous toy shopping we do for them with our hearts in our throats, as we wonder how we got on the perpetual naughty list.
And while empty arms are justification to be a Grinch, we also struggle with an inner battle. We know that the only important thing we want can’t be bought. We’ve outgrown the materialistic. Yet for many, we can’t afford the fertility treatment we need in order to make that Christmas wish come true. It sounds awkward to say it but frankly, we need money. We need money… in order to get the priceless gift.
But, can you ask for it?
Obviously it depends on your relationships and whether you’ve come out to them about your infertility. If you haven’t and would like to, we can help you do so either by a one click on social media tell-the-world post or by giving you the scripts to start those hard face-to-face conversations. Holidays can be a good time to come out, especially if prompted by the usual nosy questions about when you’re finally going to have a baby. But you don’t want a scene at the dinner table. You want to be prepared. Please visit the Long Island IVF website or the Coming Out Infertile Day Facebook page for more info on how to come out.
If directly asking your parents or siblings to contribute to your fertility fund instead of buying you a traditional present isn’t something you’re comfortable with, you can consider setting up an internet fundraiser for your fertility treatment. It’s a less direct request for help and a way to come out about your situation. You may be surprised at the generosity of friends, family and even strangers.
You should also explore the many grant programs available at Long Island IVF to see if you qualify for financial awards to pay for your IVF treatment. http://bit.ly/1PjAQY4
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If asked, would you request financial help for treatment instead of a present? Have you applied for an IVF grant?
By Tracey Minella
December 14th, 2015 at 1:59 pm
Plenty of people love their pets. But no one loves them like those suffering from infertility. When you’re longing for a baby to hold, that four-legged furry thing becomes your “fur-baby”.
Many couples’ pets help get them through the infertility journey. While they are not babies, of course, they definitely help fill the void. They are soft and warm and needy. They offer unconditional love and tons of kisses. And many even tolerate being dressed up for holiday pictures.
At this time of year, it can be particularly hard to handle the onslaught of baby photo holiday cards from friends and family. So last year we decided to create a diversion and give you all a chance to celebrate the adorable fur-babies in your life by holding a fun photo contest.
Want to show off your pet(s)? Send us a photo of your fur-babies. They can be dressed up for a holiday… or not. Upload the photo in the comments section of this post on our Facebook page anytime from now until 5:00 pm EST on December 21, 2015. That’s one week, so get snapping!!!
[We’re required to post a bunch of rules despite the simplicity of the contest, but don’t let the obligatory legalese dampen your enthusiasm to enter your fur-baby! But do read the rules at the bottom of this post in their entirety (sorry!)]
We will randomly select three (3) fur-baby photos, using random.org (or a similar automated random selection system) and announce the selections on December 22, 2015. Each of the three (3) Fur-babies will receive a $50.00 Petco Gift Card!
You do not need to be a patient. You can only enter once. You do not have to “like” our Facebook page in order to enter (but we’d love it if you did!) Remember the selections are by an automated computer system, it is not a judged contest.*
So go on and grab that camera! We can’t wait to see your adorable fur-babies.
NOW HERE ARE THE OFFICIAL CONTEST RULES:
Long Island IVF 2015 Furbabies Contest Rules
CONTEST RULES: We’re looking for your best photos of your furbabies! Whether they’re dressed up, doing something funny, or just plain being cute, post your photo in the comments below and you could win a $50 gift card to Petco!
*Only provide photos for which you own the rights (i.e. you took it). By submitting a photo, you represent that you own the rights to it, and consent to Long Island IVF’s public usage of your photo on their website and social media channels. There will be no compensation for use but photo credit will be provided. This contest is no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
1. Eligibility: Contest open to anyone over the age of 18 with a Facebook account. Employees of Long Island IVF (the “Sponsor”), its advertising or promotion agencies, parent companies, service providers, agents, officers, subsidiaries or affiliates, or any other persons or entities directly associated with the Contest (collectively, the “Contest Entities”) and members of the immediate families of and/or persons living in the same household as such persons, are ineligible to enter the Contest. Contest is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws. This Contest is void where prohibited.
2. How to Enter: To enter, submit a photo that you have taken of your furbaby on the Long Island IVF Facebook page. There is a limit of one entry per household. Prior contest winners may enter again, but must submit a new photo. No responsibility is assumed for late, lost, damaged incomplete, illegible, or misdirected submissions. No responsibility is assumed for technical, hardware, software or other online entry malfunctions of any kind or unavailable network connections, or failed, incorrect, incomplete, inaccurate, garbled or delayed electronic communications caused by the sender, or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Contest which may limit the ability to participate, or by any human error which may occur in the processing of the submission. If for any reasons (including infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other cause beyond the control of the Sponsor, which corrupts or affects the administration, security, fairness, integrity, or proper conduct of the Contest), the Contest is not capable of being conducted as described in these Official Rules, Sponsor shall have the right, at its sole discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Contest with no obligations of any kind to entrants.
3. Requirements of Entries: Each entry must be the original work of the entrant, and must not infringe upon the copyrights, trademarks, rights of privacy, publicity or other intellectual property or other rights of any person or entity. If the entry contains any material or elements that are not owned by the entrant, and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, the entrant is responsible for obtaining, before submission of the entry, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the use and exhibition of the entry by Sponsor in the manner set forth in these Official Rules, including without limitation, name and likeness permissions from any person who appears in or is identifiable in the entry (or their parents or legal guardians if such persons are minors). Sponsor reserves the right to request proof of these permissions in a form acceptable to Sponsor from any entrant at any time. Failure to provide such proof may, if requested, render entry null and void. Entrant understands that Sponsor has no obligation to display, publish, or otherwise include the entry in any Sponsor publication or Website. By submitting an entry, entrant warrants and represents that he/she, on his/her own behalf and on behalf of any children or legal wards of the entrant, if any, depicted in the entry, and any persons appearing or who are identifiable in the entry (or their parents or legal guardians if such persons are minors), consent to the submission and use of the entry in the Contest and to its use as otherwise set forth herein. By submitting your entry, you agree that your entry conforms to these Official Rules and that Sponsor, in its sole discretion, may disqualify your entry for any reason, including if it determines, in its sole discretion, that your entry fails to conform to these Official Rules in any way or otherwise contains unacceptable content as determined by Sponsor, in its sole discretion. By submitting your entry, entrants grant to Sponsor and its parent companies and affiliates an unlimited, transferable, exclusive license to use their entry/photograph on Facebook, in editorial publications, advertising material, for promotional purposes, on websites or in any other media form whatsoever that Sponsor may choose without further compensation unless otherwise prohibited by law. By submitting your entry, you agree to assume all liability for and indemnify and hold harmless Sponsor, Facebook, and each of their respective parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, employees, contractors and agents from any and all claims arising out of the publication or use of your entry, including without limitation any failure of your entry to comply with these Official Rules or any representations being made by you herein.
4. Judging: Winners will be selected randomly using a random number generator in conjunction with a list of entrants organized in chronological order of submission date. Winners will be announced on the Long Island IVF Facebook page on or by December 22, 2015. It is the entrant’s responsibility to check the Facebook page for this announcement, and follow the provided instructions for claiming the prize. Failure to do so within 10 days will result in forfeiture of the prize.
5. Prizes: Three (3) winners will be chosen to receive one (1) $50 gift card to Petco.
6. General Conditions: By participating in the Contest, each entrant agrees to release, indemnify and hold harmless Sponsor, Facebook, and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, employees, contractors and agents from any and all liability for injuries and damages sustained in connection with participation in the Contest and publication of winner’s photo. By accepting a prize, each winner grants to Sponsor and its parent companies and affiliates the right to use his or her name, likeness, image, voice, testimonial and/or biographical information, as well as the name, likeness, image, voice, testimonial and/or biographical information of any children appearing in the entry, in advertising and promotion in all media without further compensation or permission, except where prohibited by law.
Sponsor of this Contest is Long Island IVF (Sponsor) 8 Corporate Center Drive, Melville, NY 11747. This Contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
* Hey did we mention that this contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook and each entrant or participant completely releases Facebook from any and all claims??
And if you’re not too tired to keep reading…
LONG ISLAND IVF was nominated BEST IN VITRO FERTILITY PRACTICE in the Long Island Press’s “Best of Long Island 2016″ contest. If you’d like to vote to help us win… and keep our title from last year… you can vote once per day from now through Dec 15 here:
Photo credit: our good friend Liz and her taco dog, Minion
By David Kreiner MD
December 13th, 2015 at 12:31 pm
As the year winds down and you reflect on the past, and make resolution for the future, it pays to consider an annual fertility screening.
Some of you may be well into treatment already, but others may just be starting out with their family-building plans…or may be putting off starting a family or adding to their family.
It may be wise to have a baseline or annual fertility screening done, just to help rule out identifiable and underlying fertility problems you may already have and are unaware of. Armed with the knowledge a screening gives you, you can make a more informed decision about how long you may want to wait before beginning or resuming your family building plan.
Dr. Kreiner explains what a fertility screening usually means:
Fertility screening starts with a blood test to check the levels of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), estradiol and AMH (antimullerian hormone). The FSH and estradiol must be measured on the second or third day of your period. The granulosa cells of the ovarian follicles produce estradiol and AMH. The fewer the follicles there are in the ovaries the lower the AMH level. It will also mean that less estradiol is produced as well as a protein called inhibin. Both inhibin and estradiol decrease FSH production. The lower the inhibin and estradiol the higher the FSH as is seen in diminished ovarian reserve. The higher the estradiol or inhibin levels are then the lower the FSH. Estradiol may be elevated especially in the presence of an ovarian cyst even with failing ovaries that are only able to produce minimal inhibin. However, the high estradiol reduces the FSH to deceptively normal appearing levels. If not for the cyst generating excess estradiol, the FSH would be high in failing ovaries due to low inhibin production. This is why it is important to get an estradiol level at the same time as the FSH and early in the cycle when it is likely that the estradiol level is low in order to get an accurate reading of FSH.
The next step is a vaginal ultrasound to count the number of antral follicles in both ovaries. Antral follicles are a good indicator of the reserve of eggs remaining in the ovary. In general, fertility specialists like to see at least a total of eight antral follicles for the two ovaries. Between nine and twelve might be considered a borderline antral follicle count.
As you start to screen annually for your fertility, what you and your doctor are looking for is a dramatic shift in values from one year to the next.
What Does the Screen Indicate?
A positive screen showing evidence of potentially diminishing fertility is an alarm that should produce a call to action. When a woman is aware that she may be running out of time to reproduce she can take the family-planning reins and make informed decisions. The goal of fertility screening is to help you and every woman of childbearing years make the choices that can help protect and optimize your fertility.
Due to advancements in assisted reproductive technologies, younger women who may not be ready to start their families yet for social, financial or other reasons, can now freeze their eggs for future use if needed. This technology is available at Long Island IVF. If you are interested in egg-freezing for your own use or for donating to another woman, please contact our Program Coordinator, Vicky Loveland, RN in the Melville office.
Although none of these tests is in and of themselves an absolute predictor of your ability to get pregnant, when one or more come back in the abnormal range, it is highly suggestive of ovarian compromise. It deserves further scrutiny. That’s when it makes sense to have a discussion with your gynecologist or fertility specialist. Bear in mind, the “normal” range is quite broad. But when an “abnormal” flare goes off, you want to check it out.
It’s important to remember that fertility is more than your ovaries. If you have risk factors for blocked fallopian tubes such as a history of previous pelvic infection, or if your partner has potentially abnormal sperm, then other tests are in order.
Regardless of the nature or severity of the problems, today, with Assisted Reproductive Technology there is a highly effective treatment available for you.
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Did you put off a fertility screening… and end up regretting it? If so, what advice do you have for other women who may be doing the same thing?
By Tracey Minella
December 10th, 2015 at 10:01 pm
It’s heating up. The holiday countdown is on. Stress is rising. And then, there’s infertility to push you off the cliff you’re precariously clinging to.
You know significant, constant stress is only making things worse for you and may possibly undermine your chances of conceiving. So how can you help yourself lower the level during these next difficult weeks of holiday festivities…without breaking the bank?
- Breathe. Better yet, carve some quiet time for yourself and go sit in the dark somewhere safe and just meditate a bit. Think good thoughts, but if you have to cry it out first, then so be it. Release that tension. Take in the silence and listen to your breathing. Let it go. Just 20 minutes would do it, but go longer if you can. This can also be done in a candlelit bubble bath if that’s more your style.
- Consider coming out infertile. If you’ve kept your infertility a secret from friends and family, the holidays may be a good time to relieve yourself of that burden by telling all or some of them what you’re going through. Chances are they may even suspect it already. If you are ready to tell the world, you can do it with one click on social media. See Long Island IVF’s Coming Out Infertile Day Facebook page for simple instructions on how to upload a photo onto a custom graphic to share on social media. Or if you want to tell just a few people and don’t know how to begin, visit the website for sample scripts to help you start those hard face-to-face conversations.
- Reconnect with your partner. You know you draw strength from each other, but sometimes the daily grind of the infertility battle can make you lose sight of what an awesome team you two make. Make a date night…home or out. Celebrate what you have and remind yourselves…say it out loud…what great parents you are going to be one day. Imagine 2016 will be your year…it can’t hurt your chances to believe.
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How are you handling the holiday stress this season? Any other tips to add?
December 6th, 2015 at 6:43 pm
We all blow up sometimes from the hormones and stress of fertility treatments. Some people sure have a knack for animated story-telling. This classic is one from a patient of Dr. Kreiner’s*:
“I’m racing a 40 foot sailboat in 25 to 30 NNW winds yesterday out of Manhasset Bay. Gear was breaking, sails ripping, we broached twice….nearly did a “death roll” (when the boat gets knocked down and the tip of the mast nearly hits the water). A competitor had a man overboard; the USCG and NCPD were involved with another boat in distress. It was insane. The adrenaline is pumping, the testosterone is flowing and I walk in the door 12 hours after I left and there is Gina.
She is sitting on the couch watching reruns of 90210. I just spent 10 hours engaged in manly man activity in conditions that no one intentionally goes out in and I am hyped to share it with my wife. But nooooo she is on the edge of her seat fully engrossed in a show that went off the air 12 freaking years ago….she knows what happens. Her man just returns from the sea and she cant be bothered, I lose it….I get nuts….she yells back and then without notice gets all weepy.
Suddenly, as quickly as the tears came, they are gone and she is glaring at me with a look that bores right through me and in a voice similar to Linda Blair’s (just as her head does a 360 in The Exorcist) says, “I took 15 *&% &^%$ pills today and 12 of them went in my @#&! vagina, where they still are and I feel like a G*D damn gumball machine….let me put just one in your *@#!% penis.
Man, I spun on my heels thinking, “Why couldn’t that have been me who went overboard?”
This is one husband’s story about living with a woman on hormones. It is not always this dramatic but the stress can be very difficult for a couple and many relationships benefit from professional support when going through fertility treatments.
Imagine dealing with the stress, frustrations and cyclic disappointment couples feel when trying unsuccessfully to start a family. Add to this that your wife is being pumped up with hormones that have the potential to lower her threshold of rationality and sanity. Outbursts of anger directed at especially those closest to them are very common.
Under normal circumstances most of us can control our reactions without letting our emotions get in the way. Hormones can greatly diminish our ability to control our behavior when circumstances become tense and stressful. Hormones have even been used as a defense in murder cases.
My recommendation is to get rid of any guns in the house and not respond to apparent emotional outbursts. This should pass when the cycle is completed and the hormones have faded from the system.
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So, what’s YOUR best “blow-up” story? Come on. Confess.
* See Dr. Kreiner’s book Journey to the Crib for this and other interesting stories and infertility information.