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Archive for the ‘Infertility Support’ tag

Infertile on Valentine’s Day

By Tracey Minella

February 14th, 2017 at 12:13 pm

 

image credit: OZphotography/ freedigitalphotos.net


Most holidays are hard on those struggling with infertility, but Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be one of them. It’s one of the few holidays that are focused on couples, not children. You’re expected to be alone as a couple…no family gatherings to endure.

While a fancy dinner, candy, roses, or even diamonds can’t substitute for the gift you really want to give or receive from your partner today, try not to focus on the baby quest for just this one day…or at least for a good part of it…and instead focus on your partner.

Battling infertility can make you lose sight of pretty much everything else. It can make you understandably cranky and depressed. And it can make you take your loved ones…especially your partner…for granted.

If you’ve fallen into that rut, today is the perfect day to change things. Start by stealing a moment and clearing your mind of everything else. Then, make a list of five things you love about your partner. If you need help getting started, think about how he/she is right beside you in this battle. What have you weathered together already? Remember how much he/she can make you laugh or the special inside jokes only you two share?(Consider telling your partner you’re doing this and ask them to do the same so you can exchange lists over dinner tonight or wait until you’re together tonight and make the lists together.)

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to cost a lot, especially when financing infertility treatments. If you do want to go out, kick back and enjoy yourself knowing that most places will be child-free tonight.

Of course, a great Valentine’s Day doesn’t need to cost anything at all. A quiet and simple dinner at home may be all you need to spiritually reconnect. Candles and the right companion can make even mac and cheese incredibly romantic. And those lists of what you love about each other will be treasured keepsakes to look back on later. Trust me.

And having walked many miles in your shoes let me tell you a little secret…

Infertility can be a gift. A twisted kind of gift on nobody’s wish list, of course. But it’s a gift that is often not realized until after the battle is won. If it doesn’t break your marriage, infertility can make your love stronger than you ever imagined it could be. Every tear and painful loss or setback can be cement for your union. Many infertile couples look back and feel that if they got through infertility together, they can handle anything else the future may throw at them. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, as they say.

So this is a night to give thanks for…and celebrate… your soul mate and your union. Focus on that. Reconnect. It will strengthen you for when you resume the battle again tomorrow.

Now, pencils ready…

 

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How do you celebrate your love when battling infertility?

 

 

photo credit: OZphotography/freedigitalphotos.net

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Tips to Surviving Another Infertile New Year’s Eve

By Tracey Minella

December 29th, 2016 at 11:38 am

 

photo credit: Ambro/freedigitalphotos.net


And so we move on toward yet another new year. Another supposed-to-be Happy New Year.

Holidays aren’t happy when you’re trying to conceive. They just aren’t. And sticking the word “happy” on them only adds to the stress. Isn’t it enough to have to face another year without a baby? Now you have to be “happy” too?

The passing of time is unsettling and the countdown to midnight on New Year’s Eve can be panic-inducing in a way that’s hard to describe.  It’s like the world sees a regular clock and infertiles see a biological one. Clocks and other reminders of the passage of time are not welcome to many infertiles. How many of us have morphed into hermit couples over time? There is actually a pattern to it.

One year, you’re typical party-goers hoisting champagne at some big, loud gathering and confidently proclaiming to all within earshot “This year is the year we’re having a baby!”

Time passes. It’s New Year’s Eve again. The crowd you’re celebrating with has dwindled to a few close friends or family and the scene is more low-key. You trade in the bubbly for an alcohol-free toast because you’re doing everything you can to make that baby wish come true and maybe, just maybe, you’re even pregnant right now. You no longer say out loud that “This is the year”. You’re still hopeful, but uneasiness dampens your party spirit.

More time passes. It’s just the two of you now. You don’t want to be out with others. Maybe you’ve suffered losses or are frustrated by financial roadblocks to necessary fertility treatment. You’re depressed and are simply too exhausted to pretend you’re happy…especially when surrounded by people who don’t understand your totally understandable depression. You’re tired of saying “This will be the year” only to find another year goes by and you’re making the same wish over and over. Maybe you’re kicking yourself over all the years you did say it out loud or are just consumed with the thought that if you don’t get pregnant by March, you won’t have a baby in 2017 at all. Time is twisting your mind and manipulating each moment. You’re hope is dangerously depleted and you officially loathe New Year’s with all its shallow celebratory nonsense. Prolonged infertility has stolen your happiness.

It’s okay. It really is okay not to be happy on New Year’s. There are plenty of people who are down or are fearful of what lies ahead.

But it is not okay to lose hope. You need to keep hope alive. Nourish whatever bit is left. Breathe life back into it. Even if there is only a glimmer remaining.  Find a way. Because your dream needs hope…and more…in order to come true. Depending on your circumstances, it may also need some combination of action, money and/or a miracle to come true.

So, from someone who ushered in about a decade of consecutive frustrating infertile New Year’s here’s some advice on how to make the best of a tough night.

  • Don’t think of yourselves as alone.  Remind yourself of why you chose and love this person and reconnect. Realize the power couple you are. You’ve been blessed with each other to get through this journey and, hard as it is, it’s making you stronger. When you finally do have a child, you will be ready for anything life throws your way. Take the night to make a written plan for 2017. What is the next step going to be? What do you need to get there? And how will you get it? Real steps. In writing. Make the plan.

 

  • Acknowledge the elephant in the room…the baby that is not here yet. Instead of focusing on what’s missing, why not play a game? Similar to the movie “The Odd Life of Timothy Green”, you and your partner can brainstorm on the character traits you imagine your future baby will have. Boy or girl? Good at soccer or music? Quiet or loud? And so on. Positive visualization can do wonders. If you write it all down, safeguard it to look back on someday.

 

  • Offer to babysit. For those up to it emotionally (and it’s okay not to be), consider offering to babysit for a friend’s baby or children overnight. You get a real taste of parenting and you get to help out a friend who may want to go out. When you have your own baby, maybe they’ll return the favor!

 

  • Have a plan for an outing. If you are venturing out into the fertile, celebratory world you need a plan. If you’re with people who know you are trying, tell them up front that the topic is off limits tonight. If not, try to have a planned response ready for any possible nosy comments so you are not caught off guard. Have a secret “signal” with your partner that means “It’s time to leave…NOW!” Preparation is the best defense.

Wherever you are, kiss at the stroke of midnight. It’s the best way to enter the New Year. And it’s bound to fill your heart with hope.

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What are your plans and tips for New Year’s Eve?

 

 

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Hating the Waiting of Infertility

By Tracey Minella

December 24th, 2016 at 9:37 pm

 

 

photo credit: Ambro/freedigitalphotos.net


I was never very patient and infertility only made that worse.

At the risk of sounding like a spoiled child, I wanted what I wanted—a baby. And I wanted it, well, now. Actually, more like yesterday.

Why should I have to wait? I already did all those things I planned to do before starting a family. School. Career. Marriage. Wild newlywed life. Travel. House. Got off birth control and onto prenatal vitamins. Ditched the booze, briefs, fast food, hot tubs–basically all the fun stuff.

The pre-parenthood bucket list has been checked off.  Hello, Universe? Let’s go already.

The winter holidays always make the impatience worse. Not my year to buy a Baby’s First Christmas ornament. Not my turn to drop a wailing infant into the lap of a creepy mall Santa. Not my moment to see two lines on the stick.

Just not my time. Again.

There’s the two week wait. Waiting on lines in stores. Waiting in the doctor’s office. Waiting for the ball to drop on another New Year’s without the baby. Again.

I’m sorry you have to wait. And I’m sorry your wait is longer than you expected—longer than you ever imagined. I know how hard it is to wait because my own wait took several years.

But I also know how worth the wait it can– and hopefully will–be once it’s finally over.

Wishing you peace and patience during once of the hardest weeks of waiting for your dreams to come true.

 

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The 12 Pains of Christmas and Infertility

By Tracey Minella

December 5th, 2016 at 9:36 am

 

image credit: james barker/free digital photos.net

There’s a funny Christmas song that parodies “The Twelve Days of Christmas” called “The 12 Pains of Christmas”, by Bob Rivers. It starts out calm and as the verses go on repetitively, the frustration escalates. My favorite parts are the lines about rigging up the lights (“One goes out, they ALL GO OUT!”), facing my in-laws (“She’s a witch, I hate her!”) and sending Christmas cards (“I don’t even KNOW half these people!”).

But when you’re suffering from infertility, the holiday season is particularly hard and just about everything having to do with it is frustrating. It’s hard to be festive at office parties when that water you’re drinking is sure to prompt smirks or comments about the pregnancy your co-workers think you must be hiding. Maybe you don’t feel like decorating a tree or attending a cookie swap. The idea of facing the toy stores for the kids in your life’s wish list is simply daunting.

And don’t get me started on the cards. The photo cards. The perfect little baby photo cards. The deluge of pictures of families that flood the mailbox. Every. Single. Day. It hurts to receive them. And it hurts to have to send your own out without a baby photo on it—again.

And it hurts to feel guilt and sadness over feeling how you’re feeling.

So in a small attempt at levity, I propose the following song—an anthem if you will—“The 12 Pains of Christmas with Infertility”, set to the same tune as The 12 Days of Christmas:

Here goes:

The first pain of Christmas with Infertility is…

1-    Hiding Your Infertility;

2-    Pregnancy announcements;

3-    Nosy in-laws’ questions;

4-    Specimen collection;

5-    FIVE GRAND IN MEDS!!!

6-    Facing Toys R Us®;

7-    Booze-free office parties;

8-    One line on the pee stick;

9-    Photo cards with babies;

10- Daily injections;

11- Hiding blood work bruises;

12- Aunt Flo comes to visit.

I’m offering you hope and humor, strength and peace this holiday season.

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What would you add to the list?

 

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The Reveal: A “Coming Out Infertile” Day Workshop Event

By Tracey Minella

November 4th, 2016 at 1:30 pm


Long Island IVF is proud to sponsor the second annual “Coming Out Infertile” Day on November 17, 2016 and The Reveal: a special pre-holiday season workshop for those suffering in silence from infertility.

Infertility is a devastating disease that affects 1 out of every 8 couples. In addition to the pain and fear that comes with this diagnosis, many couples feel the unwarranted stigma of shame and guilt. Consequently, they keep their infertility a secret—even from their family and closest friends.

They are often afraid…or don’t know how… to tell their families and friends (or their employers) that they are having trouble getting or staying pregnant and need treatment. So they suffer in silence. Often for many months or years.

Coming Out Infertile Day (andThe Reveal workshop) was conceived to encourage those suffering from infertility to “come out” to their families, friends, and/or employers if they feel ready to do so… and to help them with the tools they need to do so. And most importantly, to come out in a way that feels right for them.

The holiday season, with its focus on children and families, is a particularly hard time for infertile folks who are easy targets for nagging personal questions about baby-making plans.

What we wouldn’t give to have a pregnancy test kit with two lines on it.  

Coming Out Infertile Day…seven months after National Infertility Awareness Week in April and right before the stress of the winter holidays…is a timely public reminder of the pain of infertility and a chance for those suffering to come out and get support.

Long Island IVF is offering a The Reveal—a free Coming-Out Infertile Workshop on November 17, 2016 from 6:30-8 pm at its offices at 8 Corporate Center Drive, Melville, New York. Led by our own Mind-Body medicine expert and psychologist, Bina Benisch, MS, RN, who specializes in counseling infertility patients, attendees will be given the support they need to come out infertile in a manner that’s right for them. In addition to this free group counseling, attendees will receive sample scripts and template letters to customize to help them. Are you ready to tell just your parents? Or your best friend? The whole family? Need to know how to break it to your boss? We can help. All are welcome. The workshop is free but pre-registration is required,  so register here:  http://bit.ly/therevealCOI2016.

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. So, for those ready to fully and publicly come out, Workshop attendees will be able to be part of Coming Out Infertile Day’s social media campaign where you can easily upload and share your photo with the official #Comingoutinfertile hashtag and graphic on various social media platforms by using the easy and free app, PicStitch. You do not have to be a Long Island IVF patient to participate. All are welcome and encouraged to be part of this empowering event!

Or be with us virtually!! Those unable to attend can use the #ComingOutInfertile social media PicStich app instructions coming soon. So, like our Long Island IVF Facebook page and/or the Coming Out Infertile Day page to stay on top of this movement.

It’s time to end the stigma of infertility. It’s time to unburden yourself from the added weight of this secret and get the support you need. It’s time to #comeoutinfertile. Join us in person or on social media on 11-17. Be part of the movement no matter where you are in your infertility journey.

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What is holding you back from coming out infertile? Are you ready to join the #comingoutinfertile movement?

 

 

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Back to School Infertility Blues

By Tracey Minella

September 6th, 2016 at 9:08 am

 

Image credit: Gualberto107/freedigitalphotos.net


Infertile folks are warned to stay off social media today. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are exploding all day in announcement of the beginning of the school year for the majority of schools on Long Island.  This is probably the hardest “non-holiday” day of the year for those struggling with fertility.

If you go out this morning—driving to work or taking a jog—the corners will be dotted with children of all ages. The cute little ones with the adorable matching backpacks and lunch boxes will just tear at your heartstrings. Even the sulking, brooding teens with their faces in their phones are better than…nothing. And that’s why it’s hard to be out today—because it puts your struggle right there in your face.

Yet hiding inside doesn’t work if you go online. The deluge of first-day photos and videos began at 6:00 am and will go on all day as parents will post the after school pics, too. Pics of the first day chocolate chip cookies awaiting the bus home- something you dream of baking one day.

Worse than seeing the wistful moments and posts are the ones by the complainers—who are already out in full force. Complaints about Common Core and the amount of homework. Complaints of how early the kids have to get up in the morning. Complaints about taxiing the kids to all their after school activities. Gripes by women who’ve forgotten or never realized how lucky they are to be moms. And all you can think of is how you can’t wait until it’s your turn to do all these things.

Here are a few things to get through back-to-school:

  • Do your best to avoid social media today (and the next few days as other districts open)
  • Try altering your commute to avoid certain streets at certain times
  • Avoid parents or co-workers who complain about back-to-school
  • Turn the pain around and fill a backpack or two with school supplies to donate to a local school or shelter.

And remember that your turn to stalk the school bus as it takes your precious cargo to kindergarten may be coming soon.

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What’s the hardest part of back-to-school for you? Do you have any tips on handling the challenges?

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IVF and the State of the World Today

By Tracey Minella

July 11th, 2016 at 9:23 pm

 

image: StuartMiles/freedigitalphotos.net


It seems everywhere you turn there are pregnant women. It’s a difficult but universal reality for those TTC. In the quest to have a baby, it’s easy to get tunnel vision about everything else going on around us. The focus is on the steps needed to have that baby: the treatment and tests, the insurance and injections, the drugs and dates of importance. The rest of the world spins past in a blur in our peripheral vision.

But sometimes, events happen that shake us out of our baby zone and bring the outside world into focus…into ugly focus.

Lately, every time we turn on the news, there is another mass tragedy… more unrest. Threats against us from evil abroad… and worse…from evil within. The recent Dallas police incident is the latest in a string of frightening events.

Watching the news brought me back to 9/11…when I was a few weeks pregnant with my IVF baby. I vividly remember the clear, blue sky that morning and thinking to myself when the reality sunk in: what kind of world am I bringing this baby into?

Maybe you are thinking the same thing now if you’re pregnant. Or maybe you’re questioning having children at all.

If you need help sorting through your feelings, Bina Benisch, MS, RN, is Long Island IVF’s caring psychologist. Bina is specially-trained in helping those battling infertility and can help you sort through your feelings—whether you are currently a patient or not. She offers individual and group therapy sessions. Some lasting friendships have been formed in her popular groups.

It’s been almost 15 years since I asked myself that question and I can say without hesitation that at the end of the ugliest days, a baby to love makes all the difference. Yes, there’s fear for the future when looking at the world outside. But when looking inside, into those little faces, there is love and hope, too. These babies we’re moving mountains to create… and that we understandably will raise with the fiercest degree of over-protection imaginable… may be the hope for a better future. We need them. The world needs them.

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Do current events ever cause you to question your decision to bring a baby into the world?

 

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Infertile? You’ll Need the Strength of Ten Grinches… Plus Two

By Tracey Minella

March 2nd, 2016 at 6:22 pm

photo credit: T.Minella

 

Today is Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Just hearing his name calls to mind our favorite childhood books with their catchy rhymes and quirky characters. Green Eggs and Ham. The Cat in the Hat. And countless others.

 

My personal favorite, the Grinch, was also a TV movie back in the day. I remember my parents checking the TV Guide for the Christmas TV specials. There were no TiVos, DVRs, DVDs, or even video tapes back then. If you missed a special, you had to wait until the next year to see it again. Imagine that? But it made us appreciate the magic of these childhood stories even more.

 

So what does Dr. Seuss have to do with infertility, you wonder?

 

Well, it just so happens that one of his books, Oh, the Places You’ll Go speaks directly to the infertile soul, as evidenced by  the following few excerpts:

 

“…And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.”

“You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?”

 

“… And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on…”

 

However, no tribute to Dr. Seuss would be complete without mentioning a fabulous book adapted from his work, similarly entitled Oh, Baby, the Places You’ll Go!  It’s specifically intended to be read to your baby in utero during your pregnancy. It is a great way for your developing baby to get used to your and your partner’s voice. Be sure to pick this one up before or right after that positive test.

 

Here’s another tip: If you can handle it emotionally, consider occasionally buying and putting away some other classic children’s books. It’s a positive step you can take in a journey that you have little control over.

 

By the time your Thing 1 and Thing 2 arrive, you could have a nice collection.

 

I’ll give you a positive send-off, with a final excerpt from Oh The Places You’ll Go:

 

So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

 

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What is your favorite Dr. Seuss book? Do you collect books or anything else while TTC?

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Long Island IVF-WINNER: Best in Vitro Fertility Practice 2015 AND 2016

It is with humble yet excited hearts that we announce that Long Island IVF was voted the Best In Vitro Fertility Practice in the Best Of Long Island 2015 contest…two years in a row!

The doctors, nurses, embryologists, and the rest of the Long Island IVF staff are so proud of this honor and so thankful to every one of you who took the time to vote. From the moms juggling LIIVF babies… to the dads coaching LIIVF teens…to the parents sending LIIVF adults off to college or down the aisles… to the LIIVF patients still on their journeys to parenthood who are confident in the care they’re receiving…we thank you all.

We love what we’ve gotten to do every day more than 28 years…build families. If you are having trouble conceiving, please call us. Many of our nurses and staff were also our patients, so we really do understand what you’re going through. And we’d like to help. 631-752-0606.

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Resuscitating Hope When Infertile on New Year’s

By Tracey Minella

December 31st, 2015 at 9:12 pm

 

photo credit: Anoop Krishnan/ freedigitalphotos.net


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?

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3 Tips for Reducing Holiday Stress of Infertility

By Tracey Minella

December 10th, 2015 at 10:01 pm

 

photo credit: Stuart Miles/ freedigitalphotos.net


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?

 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?

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