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Archive for the ‘infertility journey’ tag

A Time Travel Exercise for the Infertile

By Tracey Minella

December 8th, 2013 at 11:08 pm


credit: Boains Cho Joo Young/

During my infertility journey, I always looked back. Usually with regrets or second-guessing. I’d criticize myself for decisions we made which seemed best at the time… and probably were best…even though the outcome wasn’t what we’d hoped. I questioned everything, including the timing of cycles and the numbers of embryos transferred, sometimes wishing for more and other times wishing for less. In short, I beat myself up.

Maybe you do that, too? If so, you need to stop.

Nothing is more counter-productive than being a “Monday morning quarterback”. And the cliché of hindsight being 20/20 is very true in infertility. Try to remember that every failure or setback is a lesson that you and your doctor will learn from to make different and better choices for your future treatment.

The holiday season is so difficult and each year the holiday marketing seems to start earlier and get more aggressive. Faces of children are in commercials and print ads wherever you turn. Maybe you’re receiving “wish lists” for nieces and nephews and the thought of walking into Toys R Us  and faking your way through Christmas makes you ill.

Need a mental break?

Here’s a little trick I’ve used when overwhelmed or depressed and since it’s National Time Travel Day, it’s the perfect time to share it:

Escape the present and fast forward to the future for a few moments. Find a quiet place and put on some soft, relaxing music…or have total silence…whichever you prefer. Be sure you won’t be interrupted. Steal at least a half hour for yourself. Close your eyes and imagine a future point in time, maybe next holiday season. Really allow yourself to see the family you dream of, whether it’s your first baby or an addition you long for to make you feel complete.

It’s important to imagine all the details. First, picture the child. Will it be a boy, a girl, or both? Blonde or dark hair? (This is your fantasy, so let go and embrace it.) Now, take yourself through traditions you dream of starting or sharing. Will you cut down a tree? Visit someone special? Send a photo holiday card? Bake cookies? Buy a Hess truck or holiday Barbie? What are your plans? How will your life change?

Yes, this may be hard. But it can be helpful. So much of infertility is beyond our control that just making these plans in your head…or in a journal…can make them seem that much closer to coming true. At least it did for me. And if you allow yourself to see your dreams and write them down year-round as they cross your mind, your holiday “to-do” list will already be written for the year your dream does come true.

Here’s hoping that those still on their journeys will find resolution in 2014.

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What holiday tradition are you looking forward to starting or sharing?



Photo credit: Boians Cho Joo Young/



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Infertility and the Cruelty of June

By Tracey Minella

June 14th, 2013 at 10:10 pm


image courtesy of free digital

June is such a busy month. And baby showers top most infertile women’s list of annoyances in June. Of course, Father’s Day is really awful, too. But there are other irritating celebrations as well this month.

Weddings can trigger flashbacks to our own “big day’…that happy time of promise, innocence, and planning out how our “happily ever after” would unfold. Before infertility…like a villain in a fairy tale… reared its ugly head and ruined it all.

And depending on how old you are, how long you’ve been on the journey, and how many losses you’ve suffered, there’s the annoyance of graduations.

They’d have been graduating high school this month. My twins.

I was sure that after two failed IVF cycles, the third time was the charm. I’d lost my mom that February and was sure that with her watching over me things would work out this time. It was the day after Christmas in 1994 and I was finally pregnant. Very pregnant, actually. The kind of super pregnant that you know even before your blood is drawn.

An astronomical second beta and crowded sonogram revealed three embryos had implanted from this GIFT/ET cycle in which four eggs and some sperm were placed into my open tube during a laparoscopic retrieval and an additional three embryos were transferred back a couple days later. [Remember protocols and success rates were very different back then!] One baby failed to develop a heartbeat, leaving me with twins.

But complications arose and I needed emergency surgery. I kept telling myself the pregnancy would be okay. Two weeks later, I lost the pregnancy. And all hope for quite some time. It took me three more IVFs before I finally had my daughter in 1998.

But I still remember them. My twins. With the 9-5-95 due date. I would have occasionally thought of their milestones even if I didn’t know a woman whose son was born that week. A boy, now 18, who I’ve watched like some sad, distant stalker as he lived a childhood my own twins never saw.

Perhaps you too have had an actual loss and mourn a kindergarten or middle school graduation. You may even grieve like this over a potential loss due to failed IUI or IVF cycles…since at some point during the two week wait we all calculate what our due date would be if the cycle worked. The negative beta merely starts the clock ticking for us to mark stolen milestones and mourn that potential life.

Can we just skip to July now?

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What do you think is the worst part of June?

Do you mourn an actual loss or a potential loss?

photo credit anekono and



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Are “Child-less” and “Child-free” Living the Same?

By Tracey Minella

December 7th, 2012 at 12:07 pm

As a writer, I can see how other writers might use them interchangeably. But the infertile woman in me knows the difference. And it’s huge.

My infertility battle lasted several years, taking 6 fresh IVF cycles and many setbacks and losses before my daughter was born. My son came from my 7th fresh IVF.

Part of working through each lost cycle involved dealing with the nagging fear that… no matter how hard we fought, or where we found the money, or what we were willing to suffer through, or how long we were willing to wait…we could end up without a child. For us, that meant being childless.

And that thought was unbearable. Unacceptable.

In fact, the possibility of ending up childless after such a long, hard battle was a thought I could only allow to enter my mind for the briefest of moments. I pushed it away quickly, even forcefully, for fear that entertaining it for any length of time might make it real. My doctor didn’t sugar-coat the situation: I had only a 10% chance of conceiving…and that was with IVF.

I remember as cycles failed, agonizing over the decision of whether to repeat IVF or if it was time to consider adoption. While I was open to adoption, I stubbornly clung to the desire to carry my own biological child for longer than many others in my situation might. Although I didn’t feel any particular sense of “control” in doing IVF, I just personally felt more proactive doing IVF than waiting and hoping we’d be chosen for adoption. That was just me. I was so impatient.

I faced my bleak prognosis and my life in general, with blinders on… never believing I wouldn’t be a mom someday. Somehow. I would not be childless.

My desire to have a child was all-consuming. Those years robbed me of my usual self, leaving a bitter, oversensitive, judgmental woman behind. It was hard to be truly happy for those blessed with fertility, especially if they complained about anything. I couldn’t even respect the decision of those couples who actually chose not to have children. Without even knowing their reasons, I stereotyped them as self-centered and cold, preferring to indulge in the fine things without enough love in their hearts to share with a child. And I’d just about melt-down whenever there was news of babies being abandoned, beaten, or killed. (Still do.)

To go through life without parenting a child would simply be… less of a life. It would be child-less. I felt that way. And I imagine all infertile people in treatment do. Why else would we subject ourselves to all that we do to try to conceive? The ultrasounds, blood work and procedures. The plastic cups. So if at the end of our individual journeys, our arms are still empty, it is likely because an insurmountable obstacle has forced a child-less life upon us. Not because we suddenly chose to live a life without children.

Child-free people are the complete opposite of infertile people. While we often can’t wrap our heads around it, they have decided that they don’t want to have children. They want to live a life that is…free of children. That doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t like children; they just don’t want to parent them. The lack of a baby in their arms is by choice. It’s a preference that could be based on many different considerations. Hard as it can be at times, we should try to respect that choice, keeping in mind the ideal that all babies should be loved and wanted as desperately as we want to have them.

Child-free people with no regrets don’t feel a void in their lives. Child-less people likely always will.

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Do you think the terms “child-free” and “child-less” are interchangeable? Most of us understandably feel jealous at times when we see pregnant people. But how do you feel about those who presumably can have children, but purposely choose not to?


Photo credit: Petr Kratochvil Public domain pictures


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Discoveries Along Your Infertility Journey

By Tracey Minella

October 8th, 2012 at 2:12 pm

image courtesy of nuttakit/free

Today, celebrate the day Columbus discovered America.

Imagine starting out on a journey on uncharted waters… a handful of nervous strangers in the same boat. As you’re leaving shore, almost everyone on the dock thinks you’re crazy, or at a minimum, doesn’t understand your need to go on this adventure. Time passes with no end in sight as you plod along fighting bouts of nausea and depression. Then, the journey gets really long. Your patience grows thin. Mutiny crosses your mind.

Hey, I didn’t sign up for this!

Come to think of it, you don’t need to imagine this scenario…you’re in the same boat. Well, a similar boat. Sure, you don’t have to worry about scurvy (thanks, pre-natals!) but navigating those IM needles is no picnic. Walk the plank or take Clomid? Tough call.

When you’re diagnosed with infertility, your life veers off the path you thought it’d take. And a new journey begins. It could be relatively quick and inexpensive or it could steal years from your life and be so emotionally, physically, and financially challenging that you just want to jump overboard.

But there are discoveries along the way, though we don’t always realize the lessons until looking back years later. Those experiences shape us into who we are meant to be, and show us what we are made of. They test relationships and build friendships. Some people face unspeakable losses and others unimaginable joy.

And, like Columbus, we don’t always end up where we thought we would at the outset.

But the journey does end for all of us, whether it’s with a biological baby… a baby through donor egg, donor sperm, donor embryos… a baby through surrogacy or a gestational carrier… a baby through adoption… or even a decision to live child-free.

And the place you land is a place of new beginnings.

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Was/Is your infertility journey longer than you thought? What have you discovered as a result of your infertility journey?


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Channel Your Inner Columbus

By Tracey Minella

October 10th, 2011 at 9:38 am


Bet you never realized how much you have in common with Christopher Columbus.

Think about it. You’re hanging out, having a good life. But something is missing. You’re different from the rest. You’ve got a yearning that won’t go away. People are talking about you.

You believe in your dream.

You need to take this long and scary journey. You don’t know where it will lead, but your dream is at the other end. Can you feel it?

It is going to be costly… draining you emotionally, physically and financially. But not going forward is simply not an option.

And finally, after struggling and holding on to hope for longer than you ever imagined you could, the dream appears over the next horizon.

Today, as we celebrate Columbus Day, I wish you a safe and speedy journey to the new land of parenthood. And I promise, when you finally arrive, it will be all you ever dreamed it would be.

And for those of you who don’t happen to have a King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to finance your voyage, check out ECF’s grant programs and innovative package discount plans… and our fun contests as well.

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Has your infertility journey been longer than you thought it’d be? What has been the hardest part of it? What has been the greatest lesson from it?

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