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The Role of Luck in Infertility

By Tracey Minella

March 17th, 2014 at 11:44 am


credit: Gualberto107/

Shamrocks are the symbol for the luck of the Irish. And a four-leaf clover is the luckiest. But if you’re reading this, chances are you are suffering from infertility. And feeling quite unlucky.

The connection between luck and fertility goes way back. Can you remember a time before you’d give your right arm to get pregnant? I’m talking waaay back when a pregnancy would have been an unwelcome surprise. Maybe, like Rizzo in Grease, you too dodged a bullet. A false alarm. You felt lucky.

Then your situation changed and you were ready to start a family. You stopped birth control and wondered how quickly you’d conceive. What did you figure? Maybe a month or two?  If you were lucky.

But it didn’t happen for you. Your family and friends got pregnant easily though. They were lucky.

This “luck” obsession follows you everywhere. Even into the IVF clinic. So you sit in the waiting room with all the other so-called unlucky ones. And you notice some of the same faces during morning blood work and sonos. You are cycle-mates with these women. You know some of you will succeed and some will not this cycle. Maybe you even silently torture yourself… playing a game in your head trying to figure out the odds. Who looks older or less healthy? Oh, that one with the stroller will obviously succeed. Wait, did that older woman say she’s using donor eggs? (Like I said…it’s torture.) And you wonder …who will be the lucky ones?

In the spirit of the luck of the Irish, I offer you this hope:

Though you may enter the IVF clinic feeling unlucky, every single patient who comes in is in a position for their luck to change. You are taking the steps to change your luck simply by being there.

So remember that as you sit waiting. (And if you have lucky charms with you, hey that couldn’t hurt either.)

Some patients’ luck changes after a simple office procedure, hormonal therapy, or surgery. Others may find luck with IUIs or IVF.  IVF success rates continue to rise due to skilled doctors and better technology, but there will always be some element of luck involved. How else can you explain the picture perfect, highest-graded, double embryo transfer not resulting in a pregnancy or the less promising, lower-graded, single embryo transfer scoring a solid positive beta?

There’s an expression for good luck in infertility circles…it’s called “baby dust”. And people all over the blogosphere wish “baby dust” on those trying to conceive. Since I personally loathe that expression…and everyone deserves alittle luck of the Irish today…I will send out my own Irish fertility blessing to all ye lassies:

May there be a baby in that pot at the end of your rainbow. Well, not instead of the gold—more like nestled on top of it. Lord knows you deserve the gold, too. (Besides, a baby in an empty pot is just creepy.)

Oh, and may the rain stop soon so you can find it.

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What lucky charms or lucky traditions do you have or do on your fertility journey?


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Infertility and Lucky Charms

By Tracey Minella

March 16th, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Another holiday to negotiate this weekend: St. Patrick’s Day.

Well, it’s a festive party day that you don’t have to celebrate or spend with family… a big plus for some folks. And it certainly, refreshingly doesn’t have a kiddie theme… though checking out a local parade is bound to overwhelm you with little girl and boy scouts. Heck, it’s a night where a good part of the country…Irish or wannabes…gets downright hammered.

So what are you going to do? If you’re a cycling infertility patient, you’ll likely resist the urge to drown your TTC sorrows in a pint of green beer, sacrificing the party for the benefit of the potential life you’re trying to create. There’s no shame in being sober on St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, think of being the designated driver as the most responsible thing you can do. Great training for all the parental responsibility and sacrifice that’s hopefully coming your way soon.

So what about all that “luck o’ the Irish” stuff? As a half-Irish lass myself, and one who did my share of IVFs before having success, I thought it was a farce. A scam. If I was really lucky, I wouldn’t have needed IVF to conceive. I wouldn’t have needed any help at all. And, might I add, I would have had a pot o’ gold to finance it all. But no…

Are there lucky charms for fertility? Google that phrase and you’ll find more symbols associated with good luck and fertility than you can shake a shillelagh at! There are frogs, acorns, and of course, eggs. You can buy statues and jewelry of these and other symbols. I once bought a cheap pewter Chinese fertility symbol on a thin black leather necklace. Couldn’t hurt, right? Today, there are fertility jewelry sites that make beautiful handmade items, like Hoping Waiting Believing.

I actually did have a lucky charm. It was a gift from a casual friend from work who was moving out of state and knew of my infertility secret. She gave me a pretty mirrored compact with a little cameo angel on top…for luck. I had it with me when I finally had my IVF success. After my angel was born, I tucked it away, figuring I’d give it to her one day and tell her its special story.

But a few years later, I had a co-worker who was TTC and moving to Florida. I thought of my lucky compact and everything suddenly became clear. I told her the story and gave it to her on the following condition: She was to use it as long as she needed it and then pass it along to someone else who was TTC, with the same instructions.

This compact is making its way all over America, leaving little angels in its wake.

Now that’s worth doing a jig over.

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Have you given or received a lucky charm? What is it and what is the story behind it?

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