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“Happy Easter. We’re Infertile”: Kicking off National Infertility Awareness Week with Easter Survival Advice

By Tracey Minella

April 20th, 2014 at 11:56 am

 

credit: stock images/free digital photos.net


Like most holidays with a focus on children, Easter can be hard on the infertile. No baskets to fill or cute outfits with little bonnets to buy. And well-meaning but annoying family nagging you as to why.

National Infertility Awareness Week starts today. Maybe it’s the perfect day. If you haven’t shared your struggle with your family or friends and you’re leaning towards doing so, today could be the day. After all, you’ll be together. And someone is bound to throw the annoying baby question out there. Again.

Take control. At a loss for how to start? Here’s a script that works both as a response if you are put on the spot, or as an opening if you don’t want to wait: “Anyone know what today is? It’s the start of National Infertility Awareness Week. [Pause a second for effect]. And we want you to know we’ve been struggling for some time.”

No script needed after that. Expect some to be shocked, while others will say they suspected something was wrong. Some will ask questions. Remember, just because they ask a question, doesn’t mean you have to answer. Share what you want and if you don’t want to say more, just say “We’d rather not get into details right now, but just wanted you all to know where we’re at and hope you’ll be supportive.” Releasing the burden of “the secret” is empowering. Of course, only you know your family best and on rare occasions, the support you seek doesn’t follow. But in most cases, couples who open up about their infertility don’t regret doing so. 

Regardless of whether you spread awareness today… and in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week… Long Island IVF has a special treat this week for those trying to conceive. A free gourmet dinner and cooking demonstration, featuring fertility-friendly foods! Yes, it is free. Please join us for “Fun in the Fertile Kitchen” this Thursday night, April 24 in Islip.

Who couldn’t use a fun night out being catered to by a professional chef among a crowd that gets exactly what you’re going through? Registration is required, attendance is limited, and we have to give the chef a final headcount soon so don’t delay. You do not have to be a Long Island IVF patient to attend. The event details are available here: http://bit.ly/1pRhSan

Give yourself a treat this Easter. Call or email to register today. binabenisch@gmail.com or (516) 398-5248.

 

 

How do you handle Easter? Will we see you on Thursday night?

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Long Island IVF Celebrates National Infertility Awareness Week with a Fun Fertile Cooking Event!

By Tracey Minella

March 26th, 2014 at 11:00 am

 

Move over, Emeril! Long Island IVF is “kickin’ it up a notch” for National Infertility Awareness Week this year with an offer you can’t refuse.

If you’ve been trying to conceive without success and could use a fun night out with other women in the same boat, this invitation is for you. And you do not even have to be a Long Island IVF patient to attend.

Be our guest for an evening of fun in the fertility kitchen with chef-lecturer, Patricia Bove at the quaint Long Island Cooking Café and Tea Room, 454 Main Street, Islip, New York, on Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 7:00 pm.

Experience the thrill of a live cooking demonstration while learning how you may improve your chances of conceiving. Savor the intoxicating aromas and treat your taste buds to a gourmet, sit-down, multi-course dinner of fertility-friendly foods. Kick back and let a professional chef entertain and serve you! You’ll walk away from this fabulous feast knowing how to optimize your chances of conceiving and take back some control over your fertility.

Did you know that what you eat…or don’t eat…can affect your fertility? Are you aware that science has proven that both men and women can improve their reproductive health by eating certain foods? Well, Long Island IVF is raising awareness of infertility in a fun and novel way this NIAW with an event designed to entertain as well as educate.

Understandably, an event like this is bound to fill up quickly. Seating is limited and pre-registration is required. Please RSVP immediately to reserve your spot by contacting our patient advocate, Bina Benisch at 516-398-5248 or binabenisch@gmail.com.  Please do not call the Long Island IVF office or Chef Bove directly. Don’t delay, call today.

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Do you know any… or have some favorite… fertile foods? Will we see YOU at this fun event???

 

 

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The Role of Luck in Infertility

By Tracey Minella

March 17th, 2014 at 11:44 am

 

credit: Gualberto107/freedigitalphotos.net


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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Acupuncture: What’s the Point?

By David Kreiner MD

March 12th, 2014 at 3:29 am

 

image courtesy of stuartmiles/freedigitalphotos.net

I have previously mentioned the conundrum facing a Western-trained physician embarking on the study of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  It is part of our nature after a lifetime of scientific training to explain natural phenomena such as health and illness in ways that have been documented with physical evidence. 

The basic physiology on which TCM is constructed has no corresponding physical support that can be seen or measured…a requirement that scientific thinkers rely on to reassure ourselves about the validity and rationale of a proposed theory or treatment.

Instead, it feels to me as I study TCM that I am memorizing random “facts” with corresponding syndromes and treatments.  For now, I must push myself to continue my studies unconcerned that these basics I am committing to memory are not supported by any physical evidence other than the stories of successful therapies.  It is premature for me to pass judgment for as they say, “the proof is in the pudding”. 

In fact, as a practicing reproductive endocrinologist I have seen patients with poor ovarian function or previous failed pregnancies succeed in their child-building endeavors after acupuncture intervention is added as an adjunct to their fertility treatments. 

For this reason, I persevere to learn as much as possible because despite my own admission that TCM is difficult for me to accept as “scientific truths” I believe that it offers potential advantage to my patients as they go through their Western fertility therapies.

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How important to you is the science…or measurable physical evidence…behind an infertility therapy? Can you take a leap of faith and hope “the proof is in the pudding”?

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Acupuncture: What’s the Point?

By David Kreiner MD

March 11th, 2014 at 8:22 pm

 

image courtesy of stuart miles/free digital photos.net

I have previously mentioned the conundrum facing a Western-trained physician embarking on the study of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  It is part of our nature after a lifetime of scientific training to explain natural phenomena such as health and illness in ways that have been documented with physical evidence. 

The basic physiology on which TCM is constructed has no corresponding physical support that can be seen or measured…a requirement that scientific thinkers rely on to reassure ourselves about the validity and rationale of a proposed theory or treatment.

Instead, it feels to me as I study TCM that I am memorizing random “facts” with corresponding syndromes and treatments.  For now, I must push myself to continue my studies unconcerned that these basics I am committing to memory are not supported by any physical evidence other than the stories of successful therapies.  It is premature for me to pass judgment for as they say, “the proof is in the pudding”. 

In fact, as a practicing reproductive endocrinologist I have seen patients with poor ovarian function or previous failed pregnancies succeed in their child-building endeavors after acupuncture intervention is added as an adjunct to their fertility treatments. 

For this reason, I persevere to learn as much as possible because despite my own admission that TCM is difficult for me to accept as “scientific truths” I believe that it offers potential advantage to my patients as they go through their Western fertility therapies.

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How important to you is the science…or measurable physical evidence…behind an infertility therapy? Can you take a leap of faith and hope “the proof is in the pudding”?

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Infertility, Sacrifice, and Deprivation

By Tracey Minella

March 7th, 2014 at 4:27 pm

 

credit: magesticimagery/freedigitalphotos.net

As if not being able to have children when you wanted them… without medical intervention and the expense of it…weren’t bad enough, infertility is fraught with other kinds of sacrifice and deprivation.

So, I had this epiphany while lamenting my barely two day old decision to give up chocolate for Lent. I got to thinking about all the things infertile women and men give up in the quest for parenthood. Things they enjoy that may not be good for their pre-conception health or that of the baby they’re trying to conceive. Things they must give up for months, or even years… certainly much longer than the 40 days of Lent. (Boy, I feel shame now about the chocolate thing.)

These deprivations and sacrifices, well, it’s like adding insult to injury.

I’m not talking about smoking, street drugs, or any of those obviously taboo habits you should check “no” to on the new patient questionnaires. Science has offered up boatloads of undisputed proof of the harm of these practices on unborn children. If having a healthy baby and living long enough to watch it grow up isn’t motivation to quit doing these things, than nothing is. What I’m talking about are the vices many of us indulge in on an occasional basis that make us happy.

Remember couples vacations before the diagnosis? The ones you never enjoyed because you secretly wanted to be at Disney on a two hour line for the Dumbo ride with a frustrated, crying toddler. Here’s what I remember about those exotic island trips:

  • Let’s sit at the poolside bar and sip frozen margaritas all day. No can do. Alcohol.
  • Let’s soak in the hot tub and let the bubbles lift our spirits. Nope. Kills sperm.
  • Let’s whoosh down the giant waterslide at the water park and play like children again. Can you say atomic wedgie? Sorry, but pool water forced into the vagina at speeds of 120 mph is not advisable.
  • Hey Stud, model me that new bathing suit. No can do. Tight, tiny Speedos are hazardous to “the boys”. And so on. And so on…

Then, more deprivation as the costs of fertility treatment forces many patients to forgo vacations altogether. Besides, even if there is money, there’s no time available. All vacation time is saved to be used for fertility treatments.

It is no wonder infertile couples are stressed. On top of not having children yet, they have no fun and no time to really relax and indulge. And the longer this deprivation goes on, the more depressed the couple will get.

So, what’s a couple to do?

When deprivation becomes more than you can stand, consider a quick switch of strategy to moderation. If you’re taking a break from treatment, ask your doctor if you can have a real margarita if a virgin margarita doesn’t do it for you. Strut in that Speedo for just awhile. Maybe even dip into the hot tub if the doc says your man’s got time to “rebuild”. Or lock those ankles and go for the waterslide!

Even if it sometimes seems like the day will never come, the odds are that someday your kid will puke on you after riding that elephant ride (or you will puke on yourself after riding It’s a Small World 18 times). So until then, try to enjoy the couple’s time you have and when deprivation gets to you, consider moderation to get you through. Or talk to a professional counselor from our group who specializes in helping couples suffering from infertility. http://www.longislandivf.com/mind_body.cfm

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What is the hardest thing you’ve given up during your journey to parenthood?

Photo credit: majesticimagery/http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/agree-terms-alternative.php

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Infertility is Like the Oscars

By Tracey Minella

March 3rd, 2014 at 10:32 am

 

photo credit: Ellen DeGeneres


Extra attention was paid to the pregnant woman. Cruel jokes were rampant. There were more losers than winners. It ran longer than planned.

So if you tuned in to the Academy Awards last night for a little distraction from your infertility journey and found yourself less entertained than you expected, maybe you subconsciously sensed these odd parallels.

Like most of America, I love Ellen. I also feel that laughter is the best medicine. But I couldn’t help but notice how the audience started to squirm when the “good-natured ribbing” began. By the time she roasted Liza Minelli with that male impersonator barb and then hammered home Jennifer Lawrence’s latest trip on the red carpet, it seemed that every actor…while smiling and laughing nervously…felt like a sitting duck. Would the next light-hearted joke be aimed at their personal perceived short-coming and expose or humiliate them? If so, will they be able to take it graciously and smile through their pain or embarrassment? How often has this happened to infertile folks in social situations like holiday gatherings or baby showers?

And isn’t it funny (actually no, it’s not) that although there were a few pregnant women proudly showing off their bumps on the red carpet, that the very pregnant Kerry Washington got showered with all the attention? And a coveted slice of pizza. Not much different than in real life…except of course in real life, they’re literally everywhere! Remember the days when pregnant women hid their bellies under ugly frocks and we infertiles could at least pretend they weren’t pregnant? (Me neither.)

And who didn’t feel bad for the losers? Ellen even had consolation prizes. After all, they worked so hard, invested their hearts and souls, and dreamed their whole lives for this all-important goal. Would this be their only chance at the dream? If they lost would they ever get back here again? They came so close and things were looking good.

Yet for every winner, there were four or five others who went home empty-handed. Who can’t relate to that level of disappointment? Who hasn’t crumbled to the bathroom floor at some point along this journey to the crib?

The Oscars ran longer than planned. And cost more than expected because of that. Doesn’t that sound familiar, too? Whoever expected their family-building to take this long…or frankly, to cost anything? Time is no friend to the infertile.

Maybe in the Oscar world, where a gold statue is the prize, it really is an honor “just to be nominated”. But nominations just don’t cut it in infertility. We’re going for the take-home baby. And thankfully, with continuing advances in assisted reproductive technology, the odds of winning get better every day.

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What was the best/worst part of the Oscars?

Photo credit: Ellen DeGeneres

 

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The Nominee for Best Supporting Role is…

By David Kreiner MD

February 28th, 2014 at 4:21 pm

 

credit: Danilo Rizzuti/freedigitalphotos.net


In honor of the 2014 Academy Awards this weekend…and in the Long Island IVF tradition of posting something “Just for Guys” on the last day of the month…here’s the perfect post. Life is what you make it…and so is IVF, guys. You can be as involved or detached as you choose. So choose involved. Not just because it’s the right thing, but because if you choke at the big moment, you may just be forgiven.

Dr. Kreiner says:

Many husbands complain that they feel left out of the whole IVF process as all the attention and care is apparently directed towards the woman. If anything they may feel that at best they can show up for the retrieval at which time they are expected to donate their sperm on demand. If you should fail at this then all the money, time, hope and efforts were wasted all because you choked when you could not even perform this one “simple” step. I have not witnessed the terror and horrors of war but I have seen the devastation resulting from an IVF cycle failed as a result of a husband’s inability to collect a specimen. Relationships often do not survive in the wake of such a disappointment. Talk about performing under pressure, there is more at stake in the collection room than pitching in the World Series. Husbands and male partners view IVF from a different perspective than their wives. They are not the ones being injected with hormones; commuting to the physician’s office frequently over a two week span for blood tests and vaginal ultrasounds and undergoing a transvaginal needle aspiration procedure. At least women are involved in the entire process, speak with and see the IVF staff regularly and understand what they are doing and are deeply invested emotionally and physically in this experience. So what is a husband to do?

 

Get Involved 

Those couples that appear to deal best with the stress of IVF are ones that do it together. Many husbands learn to give their wives the injections. It helps involve them in the efforts and give them some degree of control over the process. They can relate better to what their wives are doing and take pride that they are contributing towards the common goal of achieving the baby. When possible, husbands should accompany their wives to the doctor visits. They can interact with the staff, get questions answered and obtain a better understanding of what is going on. This not only makes women feel like their husbands are supportive but is helpful in getting accurate information and directions. Both of these things are so important that in a husband’s absence I would recommend that a surrogate such as a friend, sister, or mother be there if he cannot be. Support from him and others help diminish the level of stress and especially if it comes from the husband helps to solidify their relationship. Husbands should accompany their wives to the embryo transfer. This can be a highly emotional procedure. Your embryo/s is being placed in the womb and at least in that moment many women feel as if they are pregnant. Life may be starting here and it is wonderful for a husband to share this moment with his wife. Perhaps he may keep the Petri dish as a keepsake as the “baby’s first crib”.  It is an experience a couple is not likely to forget as their first time together as a family. With regards to the pressure of performing to provide the specimen at the time of the retrieval, I would recommend that a husband freeze a specimen collected on a previous day when he does not have the intense pressure of having to produce at that moment or else. Having the insurance of a back-up frozen specimen takes much of the pressure off at the time of retrieval making it that much easier to produce a fresh specimen. There are strategies that can be planned for special circumstances including arranging for assistance from your wife and using collection condoms so that the specimen can be collected during intercourse. Depending on the program these alternatives may be available.

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Do you agree that the man should be more involved or would you prefer not to be? Why or why not?

photo credit: Danillo Rizzuti

 

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Infertility and the Only Child Syndrome

By Tracey Minella

February 24th, 2014 at 6:18 pm

 

photo credit: David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalphotos.net


The only thing as annoying as being nagged about when you are going to have a baby is…being nagged about when you are going to have another baby. This is a problem for both fertile and infertile folks.

Believe it or not, people will nag you about having a second child even when they know you had fertility treatments to have the first one. It happened to me. It’s as if having the first one resolved your underlying medically-based infertility issues (not so, in most cases). Or they’re clueless as to how expensive that first baby may have been to achieve. Or…brace yourself…they think only children are unhappy without a sibling.

There are two concepts of happiness to consider. The only child’s and the parents’.

I happen to be an only child and can offer my own experience to consider as merely one only child’s view. I never felt like a “lonely only” growing up, and if I was missing something, I didn’t know it. I had plenty of friends on the block, almost all who fought with their siblings and claimed to envy me having none.

Maybe I just focused on the positives of being the only one. My own room, my parents’ full attention, and at the risk of sounding spoiled, everything pretty much my way. Surely, having only one child eases the financial burden of braces, activities, college tuition, and wedding expenses. That’s a good thing. Of course I know now, from having two IVF children, that there is a special bond between siblings, but I didn’t know that as a kid, so I didn’t miss it. I was truly happy and so were my parents, who always convincingly claimed they only wanted one child.

But for every only child or its parents who are happy as a family of three, there are others who feel incomplete. We’ve all seen little ones begging for a little brother or sister, but it’s hard to tell if they really want one or they see that their friends have one. But when it’s parents who want… but can’t have…another child, it’s particularly heart-breaking. Sometimes the first child came naturally, but secondary infertility is preventing having another one. Other times, the firstborn came from assisted reproductive technologies like IVF or IUI.

Regardless, it is painful. And misunderstood.

Unfortunately, once you have one baby, any sympathy you might get from society in general over the fact that you can’t have another one basically vanishes. Even other infertile women may not support you once you become a mother. You don’t fit in with the IVF patients who are trying for their first baby. A stroller in the IVF clinic waiting room may draw a look by a childless patient that says “You’re not one of us. You have one. You’re so lucky. Be happy. Go away.”

In our hearts we know this reaction is wrong. Women should be able to have as many children as they wish and be encouraged to do so by others. But people…especially hormonal women longing for motherhood…are entitled to their feelings, too. And the IVF waiting room represents one of the few sanctuaries they can feel safe from encountering a newborn or toddler. Confronted by you and your adorable baby, irrational thoughts flood in: If you grab all that good “positive beta” karma, will my pregnancy test be the negative one? Yes, it’s irrational, but it’s very real in that moment.

Can you be happy with one child? That’s about as personal a question as there is.

Many bargain with the universe for just one baby and are truly happy with just one. Others may have one and be ecstatic, yet try for another as a welcome and “bonus” addition. For others, the longing for additional children is as strong as it was when trying for the first. The “right” way is whatever is right for you.

However you feel, it’s nice to know that research indicates that only children are, in fact, happy. Plus, they are becoming more common every day as women are having children later. For interesting stats and details, go to http://huff.to/1k4FmHL.

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Do you feel strongly about how many children it would take to make you happy? Has that number changed as your infertility journey continued?

 

Photo credit: David Castillo Dominici http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/agree-terms.php?id=10064554

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

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Infertility Olympics: 5 Things You Have In Common With the Olympians

By Tracey Minella

February 10th, 2014 at 1:47 pm

 

public domain image source: defense.gov


Ever been mistaken for an Olympic athlete? You could be.

No, I’m not accusing you of wearing an ugly Christmas sweater that just happens to look like Team USA’s Opening Ceremonies uniform. And though you could be as ripped as a downhill skier or figure skater… chances are pretty good that you’re built kind of average.

So, you might be surprised to learn that you have five things in common with these elite athletes:

1.      Determination. You are determined to have a child. Not taking “no” for an answer. You know you want it desperately and are willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to get it. Financially, emotionally, physically.

 

2.      Focus. You have your eye on the prize. At all times. You know the steps you need to take each day, maybe each hour, and nothing will get in your way from taking them. Stay the course.

 

3.      Courage. You overcome the often overwhelming obstacles. You may have failed at some point along the road, but you got back up. No time for fear. Bring the next challenge. You are not backing down.

 

4.      Stamina. It’s been a long road. Harder than you originally thought. Maybe you’ve suffered setbacks or been broken.  You’ve been hurt or failed. You’ve taken breaks, but you re-grouped and came back stronger. The road bent but the journey continued. You brushed yourself off and got back on course. Even when no one would have thought less of you if you had quit.

 

5.      The Dream. You live it daily. It dictates all you do from the moment you wake until you go to bed. It manifests itself in tasks and thoughts woven into your daily schedule. It’s the routine you live by. The necessary grind. The pain required for the gain. The sacrifice you’re willing to make. You close your eyes and envision it coming true.

 

Are you really any different than an Olympic athlete? Sure, you don’t have the same arenas, anthems, or medals. Your arena is a hospital. Your national anthem is a lullaby. You’re striving for something far more valuable than gold–you’re going for the pink or the blue. And you’ve got heart.

No one has more heart, fights harder, or deserves to be on the cover of a Wheaties box more than you. So keep following that dream.

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Did your infertility journey take longer than you expected when it began? If so, how did you find the strength to continue and did you surprise yourself?

 

 

 

 

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