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Archive for the ‘Bina Benisch’ tag

Surviving The Two Week Wait for Your Pregnancy Result

By Bina Benisch, MS, RN

February 8th, 2014 at 10:28 pm

 

credit Petr Kratochvil/publicdomainpictures.net

 

It seems interminable. 

 

You’ve finally made it through your IVF stimulation. You’ve survived your injections and all those early morning monitoring visits…not to mention being poked and prodded for blood and vaginal ultrasounds. You’ve undergone your retrieval procedure, sweated out the fertilization results, and here it is – the day of your embryo transfer.  Or, if you’re doing IUI, you’ve made it through your insemination.

 

What a relief!  You can finally relax…. NOT so fast!

 

The next 10-14 days can seem like an eternity when you’re waiting for your pregnancy result.

 

Your emotions may ride that roller coaster … slow ascending hope, with glimmers of joy at the prospect that this time you actually may be pregnant … only to be violently interrupted by thunderous pangs of fear that this may not have worked, and then falling into despair.

 

How do you regulate your feelings and create a sense of balance so that you’re not held hostage by every emotion and negative thought that grips you?  Here is your mission for the next 10-14 days, should you choose to accept it:

 

·        Create a list of leisure activities that you and your partner have always enjoyed doing, and set a plan into action.  Yes, there are jobs and responsibilities, but schedule some “special” time together for these activities… whether it’s watching movies together, outdoor activities, date nights, music, or working together on a project that embodies a sense of satisfaction.  Not only does this help keep your relationship close – which in itself is emotionally enriching – but it may distract your attention and maintain some perspective on your life so that you are not feverishly focused on your fertility status.

 

·        Talk to your partner about your feelings.  There are no pat solutions which will stop your anxiety. However, making room for all feelings – even the darker ones – and knowing you will get through it as you ride this wave, will relieve the stress of suppressing these feelings. This will also keep the lines of communication open between you and your partner. 

 

·        Restructure your thoughts! This is not to advise Pollyanna or positive thinking.  Let’s face it, the last thing you need is to be told to “be positive” or “relax.” It’s extremely difficult to feel “positive” when you’re struggling with infertility.  However, take a moment to look at the thoughts you are telling yourself – the thoughts that are causing your fear and anxiety to escalate: “I know I’m not pregnant.”  “It probably didn’t work this time.” “What if it doesn’t work this time?” “What if I never become pregnant?”   These thoughts and statements are not etched in truth, and are only fear-based. Better thoughts… which may be equally true, but are not fear based…are: “I could very well be pregnant.” “The possibility that I will become pregnant is just as much a reality.”  Don’t fear that allowing yourself to entertain these hopeful thoughts will cause greater disappointment from a negative result. You will be disappointed or devastated either way, whether you’ve been fearful, anxious, and negative, or you’ve had the perspective that you may very well become pregnant.  Here is a mental framework that is absolutely realistic, true, and can go a long way to helping you maintain peace of mind:  “I am doing everything in my power to become pregnant, and therefore, I can emotionally let go for now, and leave this in the hands of (God, the universe, my doctors).” 

 

·        Selectively avoid situations that you know will trigger your fear or anxiety.   Learn to say “NO”.  People will forgive you for not attending a family function, social event, or any situation where you find pregnant people, or people with babies, or people who will ask you when you are going to have children.  YOU come first at this time in your life. YOUR emotional health takes precedence. 

 

·        Nurture yourself. Whatever that means for you. Massage, Reiki, reading, movies, shopping, yoga (not hot yoga), — what do you find to be a relaxing, self-nurturing activity?

 

·        Remember proper breathing. Slow, deep breathing will cause a physiological reversal of the body’s stress response.  This will reduce anxiety and stress.  Learn to practice breath work every day.

 

In essence, have compassion for yourself.  Talk about your feelings with your partner.  If you find it difficult to restructure your thoughts, practice the mantra that you have done everything in your power, and now it’s time to let go.  This takes practice, but you can do it if you take on this mission for self-balance, peace of mind, and equilibrium. 

 

 

Photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=14919&picture=your-are-late

 

 

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Grieving Lost Embryo Siblings

By Tracey Minella

January 7th, 2014 at 9:51 am

 

image: anankkml/freedigitalphotos.net

 

Is it common for those born through IVF to grow up to grieve their “sibling embryos” that were not born…either because they were never transferred or because they failed to survive the transfer or at some point thereafter?

As an IVF mom, I was intrigued by an article I read this week in LifeNews.com* about a woman who grieves her lost embryo siblings. The woman complained that no one understands her overwhelming grief… including her own parents… and that there are no appropriate support groups for IVF children who feel like she does. Will my IVF children feel this way someday? Is there anything I can do to prevent that from happening?

I wonder how many IVF children suffer from this grief and guilt. If given a name, would we call it “Survivor Embryo Syndrome”? Does it occur more often in only children born through IVF…children who may be longing for a sibling? Or is it extremely rare and that’s why support groups don’t seem to exist?

There are countless grown women and men who were conceived long ago through this miracle technology and could possibly be struggling with such feelings.

These adults were conceived before today’s recommended single or double embryo transfers…probably back when four embryo transfers were the norm. Imagine being the only one out of four embryos that survived?  Wouldn’t it seem natural to often wonder “Why only me?”

Then again, sometimes all four embryos survived. In past decades, selective embryo reduction was often used in high order multiple pregnancies. A difficult and personal decision (and a controversial topic not without its own risks) selective reduction may be used to reduce the number of a high order multiple pregnancy, from quadruplets to twins or from triplets to a singleton, for example. It’s hard to imagine the conflicted feelings some of the surviving children of such cases might experience.

Why am I here and they are not?

Hopefully, IVF parents who may understandably be blinded to the plight of their lost embryos by their extreme thankfulness for the one that did survive will be mindful that their miracle may grow up with some survivor guilt issues.

If my own IVF daughter shares these feelings with me someday, I will certainly acknowledge them and help her process them in the same way we’ve always discussed how she came into this world. Age-appropriate information shared in many open discussions that always focus on our determination to have a baby and how very much we loved her even before she was born. I tell her that it was fate that she was the one we were meant to have at that given time, even if it’s sad that so many other embryos with the potential for life did not come to be. I tell her there is a reason she is here and to live her life to the fullest, use her talents, be happy, be charitable, and do good things. And if she still needed more help than I could give her, I’d encourage her to talk with a professional counselor with experience in infertility-related issues, such as Long Island IVF’s Bina Benisch, MS, RN. http://www.longislandivf.com/mind_body.cfm

* * * * * * * * ** * ** * **

What do you think about this survivor guilt issue? How would you comfort your IVF child or what would you do to prevent them from feeling any guilt over being survivors?

 

* http://bit.ly/1dLdiHM

photo credit: anankkml/ http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/agree-terms.php?id=100140080

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Long Island IVF’s Complete Mind Body Program

By Bina Benisch, MS, RN

December 27th, 2013 at 3:02 pm

 

image courtesy of david Castillo dominici/freedigital photos.net


Since many may still be reeling from the emotions and stress of the holidays, it’s a good time to remind you of Long Island IVF’s many supportive counselors on staff, and to call your attention to the Mind Body Program and its benefits.

Bina Benisch is a Registered Professional Nurse and a psychotherapist with an M.S. in Mental Health Counseling. She did her Mind Body Medicine training at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, Harvard Medical School.

Bina is the support group coordinator, patient advocate, and stress management psychotherapist for Long Island IVF, working with both female and male patients. Her groups are wildly popular, and she always has room for more.

Bina explains the Long Island IVF Mind Body Program and its benefits for those couples trying to conceive:

 

Life changes.  You’ve had your intentions, your hopes, and your dreams of where life would take you.  What you may not have envisioned is suddenly being a member of the population that struggles with infertility.  Being diagnosed with infertility – for any reason – “unexplained,” male factor, or female factor, can feel like a lonely, isolating experience for many reasons.  The fact is that most women never expected to be in this position, and this is often one of the most stressful times in a woman’s life.  Feelings of anxiety, depression, isolation, and anger can be overwhelming during infertility.  Often, anger masks the feelings of loss experienced month after month of trying to conceive without success. Infertility impacts on one’s marriage, self-esteem, sexual relationship, family, friends, job, and financial security. 

Our Mind Body Program provides a space where you can relax, a place where you are free to express whatever it is you are feeling … a sacred circle of connection and support.  I have been told by women who have participated in the Mind Body Support Group that they experience a huge relief by connecting with other women who really “get it,” who understand these unique feelings. During the sessions, I take part of the time to teach Mind Body methods to elicit the relaxation response (emotional and physiological relaxation).  In this way, you can learn to practice these methods on your own on a daily basis

 

 

In our Mind Body support group, patients experience the opportunity to share information, feelings, or their own personal stories. You may be surprised to see how your support can help others or you may be relieved to hear others experiencing the same type of thoughts and feelings as you experience. Often, the supportive nature of this group, and the connection that develops between members, fosters a healing process.
Feelings of isolation, anger, and stress are slowly relieved. Our Mind Body program focuses on symptom reduction and developing a sense of control over one’s life by utilizing Mind Body strategies and interventions which elicit the relaxation response. The relaxation response is actually a physical state that counteracts the stress response. You can think of it as the physiological opposite of the body’s stress response. We cannot be stressed and relaxed at the same time.

Therefore when a person elicits the relaxation response, the body’s stress response is halted, stress hormones diminish.  It is important to understand fertility holistically. Your mind and body work together, not separately. Therefore your thoughts have a direct effect on your physiology. When you are experiencing stress, your brain releases stress hormones. These stress hormones function in many ways. One of the stress hormones, cortisol, has been documented to interfere with the release of the reproductive hormones, GnRH (gonadatropin releasing hormone), LH (luteinizing hormone), FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), estrogen, and progesterone. In fact, severe enough stress can completely inhibit the reproductive system. Cortisol levels have also been linked to very early pregnancy loss. For this reason, it has been found extremely helpful when treating infertility, to include mind body strategies which help to alleviate the stress responses which may inhibit fertility.

All mind body methods ultimately cause the breathing to become deeper and slower. This causes stress responses such as heart rate, metabolic rate, and blood pressure to decrease. The way in which you are taught to elicit the relaxation response is through methods such as: breath focus, guided visual imagery, muscle relaxation and learned mindfulness, and meditation. Awareness of the mind body connection allows us to use our minds to make changes in our physiology. This holistic treatment – combining bio-medical science with mind body medicine deals with the treatment of the whole individual rather than looking only at the physical aspect.  The fact is, body and mind work together.

Let’s not forget the men. Men often feel uncertain about the ‘right’ way to support their partners, and don’t realize how they themselves are affected. We now offer our “Just For Guys Group.” In sharing how infertility affects the men, their relationships, and each man’s deepest sense of self, these men gain insight, and experience support during what can be an isolating and difficult time.

We invite and encourage you to take advantage of this unique area of support provided by The Mind Body Program at Long Island IVF.

photos credit: David Castillo Dominici

 

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Infertility and Twisted Thoughts

By Tracey Minella

June 7th, 2013 at 9:52 pm

 

image courtesy of freedigital photos.net

Do you ever wonder if other infertile women think the way you do? I’m talking about those really crazy, twisted thoughts we sometimes feel. The ones we don’t speak out loud.

You know the ones.

The thoughts that would prompt a knowing nod (or howls of laughter) from other infertiles…and condemnation from the rest of society. 

On your lowest days, could you relate to any of these scenarios (tongue-in-cheek, of course!):

·         Tell me you haven’t imagined peeling the stick figure families off those minivans? Would you spare the pets or just leave the couple standing alone?

·         Do you always call out to the mother when you see a kid’s “binky” go missing in a public place? Or do you sometimes let the inattentive mom learn a lesson?

·         Ever bought a sort of ugly baby outfit…or a Diaper genie… for a baby or shower gift because the thought of 235+ dirty diapers crammed into the nursery corner would bring you a shred of comfort during an unbearably painful event?

·         Have you ever been in such a bad mood that, instead of mustering a smile, you actually kind of “stared down” a baby when its mom wasn’t looking…and it cried? And you didn’t feel guilty?

·         Ever want to (or actually) “unfriend” someone on Facebook for posting too many pregnancy updates, maternity photos, or baby pictures?

If you related to any of the above scenarios…or have your own list…it doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you human. Occasional jealous or angry thoughts are common when you’re infertile.

But if the ache of empty arms or the depression and frustration of infertility is significantly interfering with your ability to get through your daily responsibilities, you may need a little help coping. Consider an infertility support group led by peers or professionals.

Anyone interested in Long Island IVF’s professionally-run support groups and counseling sessions should contact Bina Benisch, M.S., R.N. at binabenisch@gmail.com. Bina counsels both women and men in separate support groups as they navigate their infertility journeys. All are welcome to join, even if you are not yet a Long Island IVF patient. You can read more about Long Island IVF’s Mind-Body Program and counseling services here. http://bit.ly/16Kn5go

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Did you ever think any of the above thoughts? Or do you have others to share? Have you tried Bina’s support groups, and if so, what did you think?

Photo Credit: Stuart Miles and http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Younger_Women_g57-Young_Girl_Thinking_p54803.html

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Long Island IVF’s National Infertility Awareness Week Events

By Tracey Minella

April 15th, 2013 at 3:47 pm

 

Long Island IVF is pleased to offer an exciting series of seminars for National Infertility Awareness Week 2013. The five (5) seminars in our “Evenings of Education” series will be packed with information on many areas of interest to those trying to conceive. Each event will be led by a different expert at Long Island IVF.

All seminars, which will run for approximately two hours, will take place at our beautiful, centrally-located Melville offices at 8 Corporate Center Drive, Suite 101, Melville, New York and start at 6:30 pm. (Please note the one exception is “The Complete IVF Donor Egg Program” which starts at 7:00 pm). Refreshments will be served at all events. Pre-registration is encouraged.

These seminars are designed to answer all the questions you may have no matter where you are along your journey to parenthood. Maybe you know… or suspect… that you’re suffering from PCOS and worry about its impact on your fertility. Or maybe you’ve been trying to conceive and have been unable to get pregnant, or have suffered from recurrent miscarriages, and think it might be time to move on to an infertility specialist. Maybe you need help dealing with the stress of infertility itself, as well as the financial stress it can bring. Maybe you’re considering getting a second opinion or are questioning the whether the fit is right with your current reproductive endocrinologist.

Take the next step. Come to one…or all…of our seminars. Get a feel for the personal touch we bring to infertility treatment and see what makes our program different from those hospital-based programs that treat you like a number.

Long Island IVF …celebrating our 25th anniversary this year…is the first successful IVF program on Long Island. We brought Long Island its first IVF baby, its first FET baby, and its first donor egg baby. Come meet us during National Infertility Awareness Week. We’ll be looking forward to seeing you.

Here is the Seminar Schedule:

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.: “The Complete IVF Donor Egg Program”  

Kicking off NIAW early is the first of five seminars in our “Evenings of Education Series”. Presented by a panel of Long Island IVF doctors and staff (Donor Egg Program Director, Dr. Steven Brenner, Donor Egg Clinical Nurse Coordinator, Vicky Loveland, R.N., and Aviva Zigelman, LCSW) this educational seminar, including a slide show, will discuss why a woman may need donor eggs to conceive. The psychological aspects of being an egg donor or recipient will also be discussed. The entire donor egg program and its various processes will be reviewed, including what sets Long Island IVF’s donor egg program apart from others. The discussion will feature a previously successful recipient who used the donor egg program, as a guest speaker. There is no waiting list for egg donors at Long Island IVF. To register for this FREE seminar, Email: victorial@longislandivf.com or call 877-838-BABY or 631-752-0606. Location: Long Island IVF, 8 Corporate Center Dr., Suite 101, Melville, NY 11747

 

Monday, April 22, 2013 at 6:30 p.m.: “Trying to Conceive: The Complete Fertility Workup”   The second of five seminars in our NIAW “Evenings of Education” Series. Presented by Long Island IVF’s Dr. David Kreiner, this educational seminar will help interested people determine when it’s time to see a Reproductive Endocrinologist for assistance in conceiving. Dr. Kreiner will also explain the tests and procedures they may expect as part of a complete fertility evaluation and the full range of available treatment options to maximize the chances for conception. Dr. Kreiner will hold a Q&A session afterwards where attendees may ask him public, or private, questions. Pick the brain of Long Island’s IVF “pioneer” reproductive endocrinologist at the practice that brought Long Island its first IVF baby, first FET baby, and first donor egg baby. Refreshments will be served. To register for this FREE seminar or any of the others we are offering nightly this week, Email: lmontello@liivf.com or call 877-838-BABY or 631-752-0606. Location: Long Island IVF, 8 Corporate Center Dr., Suite 101, Melville, NY 11747

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 6:30 pm: “The Mind-Body Program: Use Your Mind to Help You Conceive” Presented by Long Island IVF’s Bina Benisch, R.N., this third seminar in our series will explain how stress hormones, anxiety, and depression physiologically affect the body and how it is crucial to break this cycle to increase your chance to conceive. Relaxation strategies of the Mind-Body program are taught in small, intimate group settings and include breath work, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, focused mindfulness, and more. Once learned, you can use these coping strategies daily at home. Meet Bina and see if becoming part of this sacred circle of support is right for you.  Refreshments will be served. To register for this FREE seminar or any of the others we are offering nightly this week, Email: lmontello@liivf.com or call 877-838-BABY or 631-752-0606. Location: Long Island IVF, 8 Corporate Center Dr., Suite 101, Melville, NY 11747

Wednesday, April 24, 2013 6:30 pm: “Conceiving With PCOS” Presented by Long Island IVF’s Dr. Michael Zinger, this educational seminar, the fourth in our NIAW “Evenings of Education” series will address the most common hormonal disorders of reproductive age women: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. PCOS symptoms vary but the most common are acne, weight gain, extra hair on the face and body, thinning of hair on the scalp, irregular periods and infertility. The most common cause of PCOS is glucose intolerance. Dr. Zinger will discuss the treatment options for PCOS which can not only assist women attempting to conceive, but can help control their symptoms and may prevent long-term health problems. If you are one of the 7% of all women who suffer from this hormonal disorder, you won’t want to miss this seminar. Refreshments will be served. To register for this FREE seminar or any of the others we are offering nightly this week, Email: lmontello@liivf.com or call 877-838-BABY or 631-752-0606. Location: Long Island IVF, 8 Corporate Center Dr., Suite 101, Melville, NY 11747

Thursday, April 25, 2013 6:30 pm: “Fertility and Financial Options” Presented by Long Island IVF’s financial counselor, Chris Graffeo, this educational seminar, the fifth in our NIAW “Evenings of Education” series, will help you navigate the maze of health insurance and infertility treatment. You’ll learn how to find out what, if any, insurance benefits you may have for fertility treatment and how to find a participating reproductive endocrinologist. Chris will also discuss how to apply for Department of Health (DOH) IVF grants, how an IVF Refund Program works, and how a case rate plan can help make fertility treatment more affordable to self-pay patients. If the financial aspect of fertility care has you confused, this night is for you.  Refreshments will be served. To register for this FREE seminar or any of the others we are offering nightly this week, Email: lmontello@liivf.com or call 877-838-BABY or 631-752-0606. Location: Long Island IVF, 8 Corporate Center Dr., Suite 101, Melville, NY 11747

* * * * * ** * * * * * * * *

Which of these do YOU plan to attend? If there is a topic you’d like covered that you’re not sure fits in to one of the planned discussions, please comment below, or email lmontello@liivf.com with your question and we will forward it to one of the doctors. Or just come to one of the seminars and ask the doctor privately.

 

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Our Complete Mind Body Program

By Bina Benisch, MS, RN

January 23rd, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Life changes.  You’ve had your intentions, your hopes, and your dreams of where life would take you.  What you may not have envisioned is suddenly being a member of the population that struggles with infertility.  Being diagnosed with infertility – for any reason – “unexplained,” male factor, or female factor, can feel like a lonely, isolating experience for many reasons.  The fact is that most women never expected to be in this position, and this is often one of the most stressful times in a woman’s life.  Feelings of anxiety, depression, isolation, and anger can be overwhelming during infertility.  Often, anger masks the feelings of loss experienced month after month of trying to conceive without success. Infertility impacts on one’s marriage, self-esteem, sexual relationship, family, friends, job, and financial security.

Our Mind Body Program provides a space where you can relax, a place where you are free to express whatever it is you are feeling … a sacred circle of connection and support.  I have been told by women who have participated in the Mind Body Support Group that they experience a huge relief by connecting with other women who really “get it,” who understand these unique feelings. During the sessions, I take part of the time to teach Mind Body methods to elicit the relaxation response (emotional and physiological relaxation).  In this way, you can learn to practice these methods on your own on a daily basis.

In our Mind Body support group, patients experience the opportunity to share information, feelings, or their own personal stories. You may be surprised to see how your support can help others or you may be relieved to hear others experiencing the same type of thoughts and feelings as you experience. Often, the supportive nature of this group, and the connection that develops between members, fosters a healing process.
Feelings of isolation, anger, and stress are slowly relieved. Our Mind Body program focuses on symptom reduction and developing a sense of control over one’s life by utilizing Mind Body strategies and interventions which elicit the relaxation response. The relaxation response is actually a physical state that counteracts the stress response. You can think of it as the physiological opposite of the body’s stress response. We cannot be stressed and relaxed at the same time.
Therefore when a person elicits the relaxation response, the body’s stress response is halted, stress hormones diminish.  It is important to understand fertility holistically. Your mind and body work together, not separately. Therefore your thoughts have a direct effect on your physiology. When you are experiencing stress, your brain releases stress hormones. These stress hormones function in many ways. One of the stress hormones, cortisol, has been documented to interfere with the release of the reproductive hormones, GnRH (gonadatropin releasing hormone), LH (luteinizing hormone), FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), estrogen, and progesterone. In fact, severe enough stress can completely inhibit the reproductive system. Cortisol levels have also been linked to very early pregnancy loss. For this reason, it has been found extremely helpful when treating infertility, to include mind body strategies which help to alleviate the stress responses which may inhibit fertility.

All mind body methods ultimately cause the breathing to become deeper and slower. This causes stress responses such as heart rate, metabolic rate, and blood pressure to decrease. The way in which you are taught to elicit the relaxation response is through methods such as: breath focus, guided visual imagery, muscle relaxation and learned mindfulness, and meditation. Awareness of the mind body connection allows us to use our minds to make changes in our physiology. This holistic treatment – combining bio-medical science with mind body medicine deals with the treatment of the whole individual rather than looking only at the physical aspect.  The fact is, body and mind work together.

Let’s not forget the men. Men often feel uncertain about the ‘right’ way to support their partners, and don’t realize how they themselves are affected. We now offer our “Just For Guys Group.” In sharing how infertility affects the men, their relationships, and each man’s deepest sense of self, these men gain insight, and experience support during what can be an isolating and difficult time.

We invite and encourage you to take advantage of this unique area of support provided by The Mind Body Program at Long Island IVF.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Ever consider putting the power of the Mind-Body program to work for you?

 

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Linking Traumatic Stress of Infertility and Hurricane Sandy

By Bina Benisch, MS, RN

November 15th, 2012 at 6:40 pm

credit: david castillo dominici/freedigitalphotos.net

If you’ve been struggling to conceive unsuccessfully, you know what it is to experience feelings of loss of control over your life and your body.  We live in a society which teaches us if we take the right steps, follow our dream, or do the work, we will produce the desired result. While it is true that our lives evolve and grow based on our attempts to attain certain goals, our true sense of safety and security is based on the most fundamental of needs being met.  These needs, for most of us, have been taken for granted: shelter, food, water, plumbing, heat, as well as the freedom to choose the way in which we spend our days.

In the same way, the lifelong vision that so many of us hold as we grow into adulthood – marriage and creating a family, are long held expectations that we take for granted. When we are suddenly faced with a new reality – that conception may not come as expected – our world, our life, as we had envisioned it, feels completely shaken to the core.  This is experienced as an emotional loss of the vision and identity we’ve known.

Now compound the feelings of emotional loss, and loss of control due to infertility with having lived through a hurricane of disaster proportions. Experiencing the loss of our very basic sense of safety due to flooding, loss of electricity, and natural wreckage of neighborhoods, has left many of us completely bereft — through experiencing at least a glimmer of our true vulnerability and lack of control. Even if we were not affected as seriously as others, this heightened sense of vulnerability produces a chronic underlying emotional trauma, as we grapple for ways to challenge or change the current reality and create a sense of emotional or physical stability. This trauma is manifested by physiological stress due to a chronic and persistent anxiety reaction. In turn, this stress causes changes in the body which may cause illness in the long run, as well as interfere with the ability to conceive.

How do you manage this anxiety? What can you do to help cope with this stress?

At Long Island IVF, we provide stress management and emotional support as part of our Mind Body Program in small group sessions for women, as well as a separate support group just for men.

Some tips for alleviating anxiety:

 

  • Cultivate breath awareness for 10 to 20 minutes by focusing on your inhalation and exhalation, as well as the nanosecond pause between each.
  • Allow your in-breath to be deep, and your out-breath to be slow and a touch longer than the in-breath.
  • Focusing on those things you DO have control over at this time – such as preparation and tasks toward your goals – can reinforce your sense of empowerment while, at the same time, allowing you to let go of the attachment to control those matters which are not in your control.
  • Creating distractions through leisure activities, writing, reading, art, music, games, social activities, or any number of ways, can be healthy coping skills which help us to decrease physical anxiety and quiet the anxious mind.

For more information on our Mind Body Program and support, please contact Bina Benisch, M.S., R.N. binabenisch@gmail.com or call 631-397-0096.

 

 

 

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Infertility Podcast Series: Journey to the Crib: Chapter 26: Alternative Therapies and Holistic Medicine

By David Kreiner MD

September 7th, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Welcome to the Journey to the CribPodcast.  We will have a blog discussion each week with each chapter.  This podcast covers Chapter Twenty-Six: Alternative Therapies and Holistic Medicine. You, the listener, are invited to ask questions and make comments.  You can access the podcast here: http://podcast.longislandivf.com/?p=130

Alternative Therapies and Holistic Medicine

This chapter was written by our in house Mind-Body specialist, Bina Benisch.  She follows the popular Mind-Body program at Boston IVF that was shown in studies to improve pregnancy rates. 

The Mind-Body program at Long Island IVF focuses on symptom reduction and developing a sense of control over one’s life by utilizing Mind-Body strategies and interventions which elicit the relaxation response.   This counteracts the stress of a fertility cycle.  As a result, the body’s stress response is halted and hormones diminish.  Stress responses such as heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate decrease.  The way in which you are taught to elicit the relaxation response is through methods such as: breath focus, guided vision, imagery, muscle relaxation and learned mindfulness and meditation. 

We work with “cognitive restructuring” which is examining our negative thoughts.  We learn to understand where there is distortion and reframe our thoughts positively and realistically.  In so doing we can change those negative thoughts and alleviate the anxiety attached to them. 

Awareness of the Mind-Body connection allows us to use our mind to make changes in our physiology.  This holistic treatment combining medical science with Mind-Body medicine deals with the treatment of the whole individual rather than looking only at the physical aspect. 

Used as an adjunct, not only do we expect Mind-Body treatment help you cope with the stress of the fertility process but improve your chances of success as well. 

* * * * * * **  * * * *

Was this helpful in answering your questions about alternative therapies and holistic medicine like the Mind-Body connection? Do you have an experience with the Mind-Body program you’d like to share? 

Please share your thoughts about this podcast here. And ask any questions.

 

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Is Multi-Tasking or Sleep Deprivation Affecting Your Fertility Efforts?

By Tracey Minella

July 16th, 2012 at 12:03 pm

If you are TTC, especially with medical intervention, chances are you’re totally overwhelmed. You may be struggling emotionally. Or juggling extra jobs to finance your treatments. Or both.

Maybe you keep extra busy to avoid focusing on the baby you don’t yet have or to avoid having to say “Yes” to another baby shower invitation. Maybe you don’t know how to say “No”, so you are beyond depressed by attending an endless string of baby-centered affairs for everyone else but you. Maybe you stay in simply because there’s no room for a vacation when there’s an IUI or IVF cycle draining your finances.

Those with secondary infertility are trying not to neglect the needs of one child as they focus on expanding their family, all while living in fertility limbo. Often unsupported by friends after having had baby success… and shunned by jealous primary infertility patients who may see their quest for a second child as greedy…secondary infertility patients may find themselves thrust into “justification mode” at any moment. Why should they have to explain that as much as they are grateful for one child, that they would love another one?

Well, banging at this keyboard on only two hours sleep (and having pulled an all-nighter two nights ago for the first time since my college days in the old millennium), I am acutely aware of the toll thatmy style of “extreme multi-tasking” takes on the body. Especially as we age. I’d need an IV of caffeine to make a difference today.

This is really not good. There are so many bodily functions that you mess with when you deprive yourself of sleep. I was a maniac back when I was TTC. Worked like a dog at three different jobs and only had 2 days off per month, every other Sunday. Obviously I was escaping from something. Or trying to. Looking back now, I wonder what role that crazy schedule may have had in the length of my journey.

How many of you are out there TTC, but doing too many tasks in your day?  

Maybe a good guideline to follow is to ask yourself: “Would I be doing all this stuff at this pace if I were pregnant?”

Hey Superwoman! I urge you to STOP and re-evaluate your to-do list. Now. Please knock-off whatever tasks you can afford to for the benefit of your health and conception efforts. Get some rest. Maybe do some meditation. Better yet, give Long Island IVF’s Bina Benisch a call to learn about how the Mind/Body Program and therapy sessions may help you through this difficult time http://www.longislandivf.com/mind_body.cfm.

Do not make me come after you with a block of Kryptonite!

If you never sleep, you’ll never dream. And if you don’t dream, how can your dreams come true? 

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Confession time: Name one (or 10) things you did this week that you know you shouldn’t have done because it pushed you too far mentally, emotionally, physically or financially?  Fess up. Did you forget, lose, or break something because you were rushing or too tired and not “on your game”? And let us know how many hours you sleep each night and if you feel it’s enough, too little, or too much.

 

Photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=15614&picture=headache

 

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Surviving the Two Week Wait for Your Pregnancy Result

By Bina Benisch, MS, RN

June 22nd, 2012 at 9:26 pm

It seems interminable. 

You’ve finally made it through your IVF stimulation. You’ve survived your injections and all those early morning monitoring visits…not to mention being poked and prodded for blood and vaginal ultrasounds. You’ve undergone your retrieval procedure, sweated out the fertilization results, and here it is – the day of your embryo transfer.  Or, if you’re doing IUI, you’ve made it through your insemination. 

What a relief!  You can finally relax…. NOT so fast!

The next 10-14 days can seem like an eternity when you’re waiting for your pregnancy result. 

Your emotions may ride that roller coaster … slow ascending hope, with glimmers of joy at the prospect that this time you actually may be pregnant … only to be violently interrupted by thunderous pangs of fear that this may not have worked, and then falling into despair. 

How do you regulate your feelings and create a sense of balance so that you’re not held hostage by every emotion and negative thought that grips you?  Here is your mission for the next 10-14 days, should you choose to accept it: 

1.  Create a list of leisure activities that you and your partner have always enjoyed doing, and set a plan into action.  Yes, there are jobs and responsibilities, but schedule some “special” time together for these activities… whether it’s watching movies together, outdoor activities, date nights, music, or working together on a project that embodies a sense of satisfaction.  Not only does this help keep your relationship close – which in itself is emotionally enriching – but it may distract your attention and maintain some perspective on your life so that you are not feverishly focused on your fertility status.

2.  Talk to your partner about your feelings.  There are no pat solutions which will stop your anxiety. However, making room for all feelings – even the darker ones – and knowing you will get through it as you ride this wave, will relieve the stress of suppressing these feelings. This will also keep the lines of communication open between you and your partner. 

3.  Restructure your thoughts! This is not to advise Pollyanna or positive thinking.  Let’s face it, the last thing you need is to be told to “be positive” or “relax.” It’s extremely difficult to feel “positive” when you’re struggling with infertility.  However, take a moment to look at the thoughts you are telling yourself – the thoughts that are causing your fear and anxiety to escalate: “I know I’m not pregnant.”  “It probably didn’t work this time.” “What if it doesn’t work this time?” “What if I never become pregnant?”   These thoughts and statements are not etched in truth, and are only fear-based. Better thoughts… which may be equally true, but are not fear based…are: “I could very well be pregnant.” “The possibility that I will become pregnant is just as much a reality.”  Don’t fear that allowing yourself to entertain these hopeful thoughts will cause greater disappointment from a negative result. You will be disappointed or devastated either way, whether you’ve been fearful, anxious, and negative, or you’ve had the perspective that you may very well become pregnant.  Here is a mental framework that is absolutely realistic, true, and can go a long way to helping you maintain peace of mind:  “I am doing everything in my power to become pregnant, and therefore, I can emotionally let go for now, and leave this in the hands of (God, the universe, my doctors).”

4.  Selectively avoid situations that you know will trigger your fear or anxiety.   Learn to say “NO”.  People will forgive you for not attending a family function, social event, or any situation where you find pregnant people, or people with babies, or people who will ask you when you are going to have children.  YOU come first at this time in your life. YOUR emotional health takes precedence. 

5.  Nurture yourself. Whatever that means for you. Massage, Reiki, reading, movies, shopping, yoga (not hot yoga), — what do you find to be a relaxing, self-nurturing activity?

6.  Remember proper breathing. Slow, deep breathing will cause a physiological reversal of the body’s stress response.  This will reduce anxiety and stress.  Learn to practice breath work every day. 

In essence, have compassion for yourself.  Talk about your feelings with your partner.  If you find it difficult to restructure your thoughts, practice the mantra that you have done everything in your power, and now it’s time to let go.  This takes practice, but you can do it if you take on this mission for self-balance, peace of mind, and equilibrium.

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Let me know if you’ve tried any of these tips…or if you have others to add. 

Photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=14919&picture=your-are-late

 

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