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Archive for the ‘coping with infertility’ tag

Surviving Mother’s Day When Infertile

By Tracey Minella

May 12th, 2018 at 9:44 pm

image courtesy of witthaya phonsawat at freedigitalphotos.net

Surviving Mother’s Day when struggling with infertility is the pits. No way to sugarcoat it. Mother’s Day is the hardest day of the year for those longing to be mothers.

So, what are you going to do this year?

If you have a close relationship with your own mother and she is still living, she might be able to cheer you up a bit. But even she won’t be able to make it “all better” like she used to. It’s just not that simple. And if she’s gone, that’s a really black hole—it’s so hard to be both motherless and childless on Mother’s Day and living with the unsettled feeling of having no connection to a parent or a child.

Of course, being in the company of a mother or mother-in-law who pushes your “baby buttons” isn’t a picnic either.

And being a mother who has suffered a miscarriage, stillbirth, or other infant or child loss is an unspeakable pain only those strong women will ever understand. If you know one of them, resist the urge to avoid what feels awkward and mention her lost angel by name–it will help her in some small way to know her baby hasn’t been forgotten.

On the hardest day of the year, it’s important to do whatever you want and not to be guilted, shamed, or coerced to be in the company of people who will make the day even a drop harder on your hurting heart.

Whether you’re a mother through resolving your infertility journey, a bereaved mother, a mother-to-be, or a mother-in-waiting, you ARE a mother. The day is yours; mark the day as you see fit.

One nice idea might be to plant a tree or a garden dedicated to your child or future child. Something you could watch grow over the years. Something you could explain the significance of to any future children and use as a backdrop for those milestone pictures they grow.

Here’s a mind trick for the day, or for any day: If you are currently on an infertility journey, believe you will ultimately have a happy resolution – – not because it’s guaranteed, but because it’s very possible and positivity can only help.

This is tough advice and it isn’t meant for Mother’s Day but try not to let your sadness and frustration keep you from enjoying some moments of the present. Because the future is coming and regardless of how your journey ends, you can’t get this time back. And you may look back and have regrets on how your life was “on hold” for so long, wishing you only knew back then that it was eventually going to work out somehow. So, trust that the future will be bright and make the best of these times. Hopefully, you will be right. And hopefully, next Mother’s Day will be different.

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Flip the Script and Banish the Closets Beyond NIAW 2018

By Tracey Minella

May 4th, 2018 at 10:44 am

image: shutterstock

How do heterosexuals and LGBT members experience infertility? There are two different “scripts” for those suffering from infertility. One for heterosexual couples and the other for the LGBT community. Both can play out like horror movies for those unfortunate enough to be cast.

National Infertility Awareness Week (“NIAW”) was the brainchild of Resolve, The National Infertility Association. Each year the week– generally celebrated during the last week of April–has a different theme. The theme for 2018 was #FlipTheScript. As its name suggests, NIAW was created to recognize and support people suffering from infertility and to raise awareness of a disease that affects 1 in 8 couples.

In addition to raising awareness of infertility and supporting those suffering, NIAW is designed to mobilize forces to advocate for change and to get people talking—beyond just one week each year– so that the stigma associated with infertility can disappear and those suffering don’t need to add shame to the list of other emotions and fears that infertility already brings.

The International Committee for Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ICMART) defines infertility as “a disease characterized by the failure to establish a clinical pregnancy after 12 months of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse or due to an impairment of a person’s capacity to reproduce either as an individual or with his/her partner,” (emphasis added), according to the Resolve website*. The latter part of the definition was added only after years of advocacy by the LGBT community and its allies to expand the definition so it would be relevant, beneficial, and inclusive of the LGBT community which sought medical coverage for infertility treatment.

So, if infertility is defined differently for LGBTs and heterosexuals, how is the NIAW experience similar or different for both groups?

When infertility statistics are cited, the phrase “1 in 8” is a likely reference to heterosexual couples. For the vast majority of the LGBT community—including all lesbians and all gay men– it would be “8 in 8”. That’s because they (and many transsexuals) cannot get pregnant or get someone pregnant without the use of assisted reproductive technologies like intrauterine inseminations (IUIs), in-vitro fertilization (IVF), donor sperm, donor eggs, and/or gestational carriers.

For heterosexuals, the painful infertility stigma they experience is often born from feelings of failure and inadequacy upon learning that one partner or the other (or both) has a medical condition, problem, or disease that makes them unable to achieve or maintain a pregnancy as a couple. Society expects a heterosexual couple to be able to produce a baby the “old-fashioned way” so when they can’t, they often feel shame.

Looking at it that way, LGBT couples should be free of the stigma. Society doesn’t yet place the same expectation on LGBT couples to reproduce. For most, their infertility is simply due to a need to obtain the missing biological piece – – eggs or sperm – – to create a baby within the LGBT union. Not the same shame here. Society recognizes that LGBT couples are infertile by biological necessity. So, for those LGBT couples not further burdened with a specific infertility-causing disease or condition (like male factor infertility or poor egg quality or uterine fibroids) or an unexplained infertility diagnosis, society doesn’t place the same expectation of procreation on the union or the same stigma of shame and failure.

In fact, sometimes the opposite is true. Some haters oppose the LGBT’s pursuit of biological parenthood. Instead of fighting a social stigma of shame like heterosexuals, the LGBT community fights ignorance, intolerance, and prejudice of those who fail to recognize that all people regardless of sexual orientation have the right to become parents.

Social stigmas drive guilt, shame, fear, anger, and frustration. If we truly want to “flip the script” as National Infertility Awareness Week’s theme encourages us to do in 2018, we need to acknowledge the words, emotions, and actions that have been written into our “scripts” to date and change them.

To the heterosexuals, society’s harsh script (including certain religious influences) reads that you have what it takes as a couple to make a baby. We expect you to procreate. You should be able to do this without help. What kind of a man can’t get his wife pregnant? What is your worth as a woman if you can’t be a mother? So, when you can’t get pregnant, the message is “What’s wrong with you? We don’t understand you or support you or sympathize with you.” Couples who can’t procreate often feel like failures and feel shame or guilt. So, they don’t speak. They keep their struggles secret and suffer in silence due to this stigma.

To the LGBT community, the horrible script is a different version of the cold shoulder. It sometimes reads, (including certain religious influences) that even though you have the legal right to marry, we don’t recognize your union as one meant for procreation or parenthood. Your union isn’t “natural” so you can’t and shouldn’t become biological parents. Kids need a mommy and a daddy. “What’s wrong with you? We don’t understand you, support you or sympathize with you.”  LGBT couples, accustomed to haters and frankly tired from fighting for the right to everything, just want what most people want–the same rights to have a biological child if they so choose.

To this, we say #FlipTheScript.

To this we say, banish the closets. The LGBT community didn’t come out of the closet to go back inside…and they’re not going to leave their suffering heterosexual friends in there alone.  They haven’t fought so many battles for so long just to stop now. They have the right to marry. They’ve changed the definition of infertility to include the LGBT community. And armed with a definition that includes all people, the LGBT community and its heterosexual friends will continue the fight for compassionate, quality, accessible, affordable healthcare and insurance coverage for the assisted reproductive technologies necessary to overcome this barrier to parenthood.

In order to banish closets in which infertile LGBT and heterosexuals hide, we all need to step up the advocacy efforts and show society we’re loud, we’re proud, we all have a right to be parents and we all have a right to affordably access the medical technology to get us there. That’s when acceptance may eventually happen and stigmas may end. That’s when the only thing hiding in closets will be those clothes you swear you’re going to fit in again someday.

If you are interested in LGBT family-building, Long Island IVF has decades of experience helping the community become parents.  Please contact us today for more information or to schedule an initial consultation.

We are proud to partner with the LGBT Network to provide information, education, support, and access to the most advanced traditional and holistic assisted reproductive technologies. All while understanding, respecting, and being sensitive to the unique needs of the LGBT community.

And we are excited to again be a major sponsor of Pridefest this June!

In addition to Pridefest festivities, Long Island IVF and the LGBT Network will be offering our popular Building Families in the LGBT Community seminar on Thursday June 21, 2018 from 6:00-8:00pm at the Long Island IVF Melville office. It’s a free, casual, and informative session that addresses everything you would ever need to know about how you can become a parent through assisted reproductive technologies. All are welcome. No need to be a patient. Just click the link above to preregister now.

This year, Long Island IVF is celebrating a milestone–our 30th anniversary. If you are ready for parenthood, we would love the opportunity to assist you with your own milestone. Please follow us on Facebook or Twitter for info on our upcoming free events.

 

* https://resolve.org/infertility-101/what-is-infertility/

 

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Goodbye Shame: Losing the Stigma of Infertility Workshop

By Tracey Minella

May 3rd, 2018 at 2:20 pm

Let’s talk about the stress, shame, and stigma of infertility. No, really, let’s talk about it.

When a couple cannot conceive without assisted reproductive technology, they often feel guilt and shame. Society sends a message that procreation should happen without assisted reproductive technology. And those who can’t get pregnant the old-fashioned way often feel like failures. Their shame often forces them to suffer in silence, hoping this month will be the month. Hoping no one will ever have to know they had a problem conceiving.

Overwhelmed, many infertile couples throw themselves into their treatment. They go through the hectic schedule of sonograms, lab work, and injections. They deal with the financial burdens, the insurance headaches, and the job stress. But they don’t realize that keeping the secret and the toll it places on their mind and body may be detrimental. And nobody needs another obstacle to conceiving.

The stigma of infertility is real. It is completely unwarranted, of course, but that doesn’t change the fact that it exists in society and it impacts countless infertile couples who are struggling on so many levels: physically, mentally, financially, emotionally, and socially.

Unburden yourself tonight. Long Island IVF is offering a free workshop hosted by our infertility specialist counselor Bina Benisch, MS, RN in our Melville office on “Losing the Stigma of Infertility”. All are welcome, no need to be a patient to attend. Preregister here.

Past attendees often say they were a bit hesitant to come in but were so happy they took the chance. There’s never any pressure to join the discussion.

Imagine being in a room with a small group of people who are struggling and feeling so much of what you are going through right now. The in-law pressures, juggling work and treatment, the endless baby showers, the jealousy and fear and frustration. Imagine being with others who also only have each other to confide in, but now having the chance to unload—the chance to process those emotions and unburden yourself with the help of a caring specialist. What an amazing opportunity for healing. In fact, many past attendees were so comfortable by the end of the session that they stayed connected and lasting friendships were formed.

Nobody understands. Nobody other than those who are walking in your stirrups and the skilled professionals who help you along the way.

Let’s heal tonight. Please join us for a transformative experience.

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Long Island IVF Nutrition for Fertility Workshop

By Tracey Minella

April 19th, 2018 at 8:11 am

 

Drive right past those golden arches and get yourself over to Long Island IVF for a fun, free event on “Nutrition for Fertility” on Tuesday, April 24 at 6:30 PM. Learn how nutrition impacts fertility and find out how your diet may be sabotaging your ability to conceive.

Register here for this nutrition event and several other National Infertility Awareness Week events on yoga, acupuncture, and losing the stigma of infertility. All #NIAW events are free and all are welcome–no need to be a patient to attend. But preregistration is required to claim your spot.

Infertility is hard and the stress understandably sends many toward comfort food. Unfortunately, many comfort foods aren’t healthy and a poor diet can negatively impact your fertility. In fact, some common diets may increase your likelihood of infertility by as much as 85%! So, put down that milkshake and greasy fries and learn about great-tasting, healthy-eating options that may work for– instead of against– your fertility.

Break the vicious cycle and get some control over your fertility back by learning how important good nutrition is in the infertility battle. There isn’t a lot we can control when getting pregnant requires assisted reproductive technologies like IVF or IUI, but we are in control of what and how we eat. So, let’s take advantage of it.

Why not come down to this fun and free nutrition workshop led by certified holistic health coach, Renée Barbis, and learn what to eat when you’re trying to conceive and how proper nutrition can help you maintain a healthy pregnancy and nourish your growing baby.

This event is the first in a series of four events celebrating National Infertility Awareness Week 2018 at Long Island IVF.

Register now to claim your spot for what will surely be a fun and informative evening. Bring your partner or a friend or come alone. All are welcome. Adults only. You will leave feeling inspired and empowered to enhance your own fertility through proper nutrition.

We hope to see you there!

 

 

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Safeguarding Frozen Embryos, Eggs, and Sperm at Long Island IVF

By admin

April 9th, 2018 at 3:27 pm

 

Liquid nitrogen cryogenic tank

At Long Island IVF, we understand from a clinical standpoint what you went through to create your frozen embryos. Several of us here are also IVF patients–some with our own embryos in the same freezers as yours. So, on a personal level, we really understand how worried you may have been after hearing about two recent and unprecedented storage tank incidents at fertility clinics in Ohio and California.

To point out that over the past 30 years nationwide, such tank malfunctions have been extremely rare does little to comfort those patients who were unfortunate enough to have suffered such heartbreaking losses. So, let me tell you about the measures that we employ at Long Island IVF to safeguard your frozen embryos.

Your frozen embryos (and frozen eggs and sperm) are guarded 24/7 by multi-level security systems designed to safeguard them from dangerous temperature fluctuations. Our cryopreservation tanks have double alarm systems which monitor both the temperature within the tanks as well as the level of liquid nitrogen (used as the coolant).

The alarm system is active 24/7 and if there is an issue not only sounds in the lab, but also sends alerts to our lab director or designated on-call lab personnel, so someone is always informed about the status of the cryogenic tanks. The alarm systems have both battery as well as generator back-up systems.

In addition to this high-tech, double alarm security system, each tank in our IVF Lab is also visually monitored by lab personnel (an embryologist or an andrologist) every day, including weekends. Finally, the cryopreservation tanks and their backup and monitoring systems, as well as the IVF Laboratory itself, undergo routine and rigorous inspections for third party accreditation organizations in accordance with industry standards.

If you are a patient and have any further questions or concerns, we encourage you to contact the office directly for more information.

 

 

 

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April Fool’s Day Pregnancy Jokes are NOT Funny

By Tracey Minella

March 31st, 2018 at 1:01 pm

image: gratisography-ryan mcguire

This year, Easter and April Fool’s Day fall on the same day. So maybe there’s some hope that Easter will draw attention away from April Fool’s Day which, despite being insignificant, has traditionally been a minefield for those suffering from infertility.

What should be a harmless day of dodging innocent pranks always turns ugly with the inevitable April Fool’s Day prank post: “I’m pregnant”.

Just. Stop. Now.

It’s not only soooooo last year (and the year before that… and the year before that) but it’s not even believable or funny anymore. In fact, it never was. It’s simply hurtful to those who can’t have children. And we are not oversensitive. Infertility is no joke. It’s a disease. Would you joke about having another serious disease? Of course not.

So how about you think before typing that lame joke this year?

Think about all the infertile couples who suffer every day of the year as their newsfeeds are bombarded by countless legit pregnancy announcements, baby pictures, and other kid-related posts. We’re already going to struggle with  all the cute Easter bonnet babies and egg hunts tomorrow.

Give us a break. Better yet, post something that is actually laugh-out-loud funny. Lord knows, we could use a momentary diversion from the pain with a rare and honest belly laugh.

Don’t be the Fool on April 1st.

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Are you bothered by April Fool’s Day pregnancy pranks? How do you respond?

 

 

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Don’t Miss Long Island IVF’s Free Donor Egg Seminar

By Tracey Minella

March 19th, 2018 at 12:13 pm

Let’s face it. Having a baby using donor eggs is just not most people’s first choice. The vast majority of women understandably want a baby with a genetic connection to both them and their partner. So, it can be hard to get past the fear that a donor egg baby may not feel like it’s really yours. And there are so many questions about the process itself and what life is like afterwards. Questions only a mom who used donor eggs can really answer.

That’s why if you are considering using an egg donor to start your family, you should come to Long Island IVF’s free “New Beginnings Through Donor Egg” seminar tomorrow night, March 20, 2018 at our Melville office, from 7:00-9:30 pm. Pre-register here now. You will not only meet our compassionate and experienced Donor Egg Team, but you’ll get to meet one of our many successful and happy donor egg recipient moms. Bring your partner or a friend or come alone. We’re waiting to meet you.

One of our recipient moms is going to share her story of how she was able to become a mom because of our donor egg program. She’s going to tell you the challenges she faced, how she came to accept the idea of using an egg donor, and what life is like now that she is a mother.

She’s going to answer all those questions you have right now, because it wasn’t so long ago that she was in your shoes and had the very same questions and concerns.

We understand that if you are considering donor eggs, you are likely at a difficult crossroads in your fertility journey–one that was likely arrived at after a long, hard road of treatments and sometimes devastating losses. You’re probably on the fence. A bit hesitant.

Come down and get those questions answered, even if you think you aren’t ready to act on the information just yet. Hear a success story. Learn if using young, healthy eggs might be the missing piece for your IVF success. Get educated and empowered about this powerful family-building option.

Women whose eggs have been compromised by advanced age, premature ovarian failure, failed IVF treatment, cancer, or poor egg quality should consider donor egg therapy. Decades of happy moms agree that using donor eggs was the best decision they ever made and many wish they’d come around to the idea sooner. In addition, gay men wanting biological children also need the help of an egg donor.

Victoria Loveland, RN & Donor Egg Nursing Coordinator, Aviva Zigelman, LCSW & Donor Egg Program Director, and Long Island IVF partner and reproductive endocrinologist Steven Brenner, MD will all be there to answer your questions. You can even speak to them privately if you’re more comfortable.

Long Island IVF offers several different egg donation options, including:

  • Sole Recipient Fresh Egg Donation,
  • Shared Recipient Fresh Egg Donation, and
  • Frozen Egg Donation.

Each option offers its own unique benefits, costs, and other considerations. We have young, healthy, pre-screened, anonymous egg donors representing multiple ethnicities ready to help build your family. Or you can use a known donor if you prefer.

This seminar is generally intimate, low-key and not overly-crowded.

Location: Long Island IVF 8 Corporate Center Drive, Suite 101, Melville, NY

Date: Tuesday March 20, 2018

Time: 7:00 pm- 9:30 pm

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Will you be there? If you’d like to attend but can’t, please call anyway and ask for Vicky Loveland, so we can make other arrangements to help you.

 

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Will You Conceive in the Year of the Dog?

By Tracey Minella

February 17th, 2018 at 7:22 pm

image courtesy of 9comeback at freedigitalphotos.net

The celebration of Chinese New Year has begun. Out with the Year of the Rooster. Welcome the Year of the Dog. You don’t have to be Chinese to appreciate the richness of that culture’s traditions and the mystique of the Chinese methods of enhancing fertility.

In addition to being a pioneer in cutting-edge Western medicine and assisted reproductive technologies like IVF, Long Island IVF offers fertility acupuncture to its interested patients. This inexpensive, complementary holistic therapy is a hallmark of ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine (“TCM”) and is administered by our own Dr. David Kreiner–Long Island’s first reproductive endocrinologist who is also a certified acupuncturist.

Want to learn more about how fertility acupuncture might influence your ability to conceive? Register here for our free upcoming Fertility Acupuncture Seminar on March 29, 2018 at the Long Island IVF Melville office.

The Chinese zodiac consists of a cycle of 12 years, with each year being named for a different animal, and supposedly bestowing upon those born in that year certain characteristics which are similar to the traits of the featured animal.

Children born in the Year of the Dog are said to be loyal above all else. They are also honest, popular, give good and helpful advice, but can be worried and anxious, too. Of course, having a healthy baby any day of any year is likely all that really matters to most.

A Chinese co-worker enlightened me years ago about some Chinese New Year’s traditions, and since many involve luck and good fortune, it’s no wonder people—especially those experiencing infertility– might want to get in on the celebrations, which last a couple weeks.

On New Year’s Eve, the Chinese often celebrate by eating dumplings called “jiaozi”, which translates literally to “sleep together and have sons” according to http://www.theholidayspot.com. They also sweep out the house from top to bottom with a broom and give it a good cleaning. It symbolizes the sweeping away of all the bad luck of the past year so the good luck can enter.

On New Year’s Day, celebrants wear something red. It’s the color of good luck and symbolic of wealth. Elders often give children red envelopes with money inside on Chinese New Year. (And wouldn’t you know—there’s an app for that.) Maybe you can break out a red envelope, start a new tradition, and get your relatives to contribute to the IVF fund.

Tradition dictates that you put away the knives…this is good advice for hormonal women anyway. Using knives and scissors at this time symbolizes the “cutting off” of the good luck and is an omen of bad luck in the year to come. Finger foods today.

My point is that you don’t have to be Chinese to embrace some of the Chinese culture and have some fun. Wear red. Try your hand at jiaozi from an internet recipe—or order Chinese take-out and help a local business start its year of good fortune! Surround yourself with the richness of red and gold. Sweep out that old bad luck and embrace the new year that waits.

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Do you celebrate Chinese New Year or follow any other cultural traditions with fertility-related traditions? Would you like to learn about fertility acupuncture?

 

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Infertility and Anti-Valentine’s Day

By Tracey Minella

February 14th, 2018 at 5:30 pm

image: gratisography.com-ryan mcguire

Ugh. Valentine’s Day…another rough day for many infertile couples.

Sure you can have a romantic night alone. But there’s all kinds of stress with tonight’s “expectations”. Don’t you want to scream “I really just want a snotty, crying, feverish baby to keep me up all night!”?

Frankly, there’s been enough alone time—maybe years of it. It’s time for a bunch of kids to ruin all that. Hello, universe? We’re still waiting!

Then there’s your friends. The ones with kids (which is basically ALL of them, right?) who complain how they don’t want to stay home with their little ones and can’t wait until the sitter arrives tonight so they can toast each other over a peaceful candlelight meal. That’s rough–especially when you’d give anything to have a baby hanging on your neck as you pay the Dominos delivery guy.

You can’t win. You don’t have the kids– yet. And the emotional and financial stresses of infertility take the romance out of your time alone.

So, what do you do if you don’t want to do the traditional Valentine’s Day stuff?

Why not take VD to the extreme and get all silly about it? Over-do it. Do the candy, the flowers, the candles, the rose petals, the satin sheets…the whole, cheesy cliché of it. And then laugh at yourselves. You know the laugh I’m talking about. “Your” laugh. It’s that special thing between you where one can just look at the other and you laugh uncontrollably. You could both use it.

Or do the opposite. Anti-Valentine’s Day. Defy it. No card or gift. No succumbing to the pressure of Hallmark’s holiday. Save a rose garden somewhere by rejecting flowers.

Need inspiration on how to practice extreme defiance of all things traditionally Valentine-y?

  • Skip the primp and be the low-key version of yourself.
  • Run 80 errands for the benefit of people other than yourself.
  • Have that annual GYN exam that’s overdue. It’s the easiest day to get an appointment. Who needs a card when you can have a prescription for a mammogram and a sonogram?
  • Hit the golden arches for lunch. Because nothing says Valentine’s like a Big Mac meal. Go on, supersize it.
  • The Finale: Invite your mother-in-law for dinner.

Bet your day’s looking better already. No need to thank me.

Seriously, just make it whatever you and your partner need it to be today. Don’t succumb to society’s pressures about how you should look, act, or behave. Play it up– or down. But do take a moment to be thankful for each other to lean on during these hard days. Don’t ever downplay that.

And have faith.

Because maybe next year, you’ll be greeting that Dominos guy with a baby hanging on your neck. (How’s that for extra cheese?)

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So, what are YOUR Valentine’s Day plans?

 

 

 

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Groundhog’s Day–The Infertility Movie

By Tracey Minella

February 2nd, 2018 at 2:04 pm

image: wpclipart.com

Groundhog’s Day for infertility patients is about more than just pulling a sleeping rodent out of a hole to find out the forecast. Infertility patients relate more to Groundhog’s Day, the Movie. Remember how Bill Murray’s character was trapped reliving Groundhog’s Day all over again? Every. Single. Day? And how he desperately tried to tweak things each day in order change the outcome and finally get the thing he wanted that was always just out of his reach?

Well, that’s essentially the life of the infertility patient on their journey—especially if the baby quest is dragging out like a long, dreary winter with no hope of spring in sight. Day after day of blood work, ultrasounds, injections that blend into each other. And a frustrating hell of repetitive negative pee sticks month after disappointing month.

So, if you need extra support, Long Island IVF offers it. Our innovative Mind-Body Program, which includes group and individual counseling, may help you cope.

Or register here and come down for our free “Rekindling the Romance in the Face of Infertility” workshop on February 8th. All are welcome—no need to be a patient.

Here on Long Island for the second straight year, two local groundhogs can’t seem to agree on whether we’re going to have to suffer through more ugliness or be blessed with an early spring.

So, what do we do?

We have faith that the outcome we wish for is going to be the one we actually get. And we look forward to the morning when we will wake up from this difficult repetitiveness to a new day where the shadow of infertility is no longer in sight.

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