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Archive for the ‘stress and infertility’ tag

Infertile in Springtime

By Tracey Minella

March 19th, 2013 at 5:36 pm

image courtesy of Ambro/free digital

Worn down by winter and overwhelmed by infertility’s challenges? You’re not alone. But spring is coming tomorrow…at least on the calendar if not by the forecast. It’s time to change things up a bit.

When I ask other infertile couples what the most frustrating thing about infertility is, lack of control is one of the most popular answers. Lack of control over your dreams, your life, and your body. The longer you live under this frustration, the greater the chance you’ll feel stressed or depressed. Your “fuse” gets shorter and the littlest thing that upsets your routine can…understandably…throw you off. Even last week’s time change—one hour lost— may’ve affected your routine and added to your exhaustion and crankiness for days!

Why not turn it all back around to your benefit?

Take control over a small block of time. Make a change for the better and take back some control this spring. Just a bit.

Imagine committing to even one small change in your day…one that you choose. One that you want. One that you… control.

No need to be drastic or crazy or set a lofty goal you can’t reach (which will defeat the purpose here). Pick something do-able and fun that is just for you. If it happens to have an added fertility-boosting benefit, all the better. But the main goal is that you feel better, either physically or emotionally, or both. And that you feel more in control of your life.

Here are a few examples of little things you can consider:

  • Drink more water. You will feel and look better and the health benefits are countless.
  • Reduce stress and get organized with a “To Do” list before bed. You’ll sleep better knowing your next day is planned out and you haven’t forgotten something. Then, spend 15 minutes on your most important task first thing in the morning if you can, so you start off feeling more in control.
  • Exercise for just 10 minutes each day. If that seems like root canal, just pick something fun that makes you move. Anything. Dance like Elaine from Seinfeld (just close the blinds first)!
  • Take 10 minutes to keep a daily gratitude journal or… if you’re feeling particularly peeved…then make it a venting journal. Either way, you will have an outlet for your feelings and you’ll feel better afterwards.
  • Sleep more. Take a power nap at lunchtime of you’re feeling tired or treat yourself to an early turn-in at bedtime. Even 30 minutes would feel indulgent. Trust me.
  • Meditate. It could be in a fertile yoga class or just grabbing 15 minutes of quiet, uninterrupted “you” time on your den floor (or outside if it ever warms up again).

What kind of big impact could these small changes make for you?

How about committing to one of them…or some other change that works for you? Want accountability? Post your commitment right here if that’ll help you keep it. Just say the word and I’ll crack that whip to keep you motivated…and I’ll be your biggest cheerleader when you stick with it. Let’s see what a difference a small change that you control can make in your life in 30 days.

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You in?


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Is This Stress Making Me Look Fat?

By Tracey Minella and David Kreiner MD

June 22nd, 2011 at 12:09 am

We’ve all got ‘em. Stories of when we blew up at our guys. I don’t mean just normal arguing. I’m talking about ripping him a new one. And he may not even have deserved it this time. But it was those damn hormones…

Dr. Kreiner of East Coast Fertility shares another tale:

I’m racing a 40 foot sailboat in 25 to 30 NNW winds yesterday out of Manhasset Bay. Gear was breaking, sails ripping, we broached twice….nearly did a “death roll” (when the boat gets knocked down and the tip of the mast nearly hits the water). A competitor had a man overboard; the USCG and NCPD were involved with another boat in distress. It was insane. The adrenaline is pumping, the testosterone is flowing and I walk in the door 12 hours after I left and there is Gina.

She is sitting on the couch watching reruns of 90210. I just spent 10 hours engaged in manly man activity in conditions that no one intentionally goes out in and I am hyped to share it with my wife. But nooooo she is on the edge of her seat fully engrossed in a show that went off the air 12 freaking years ago….she knows what happens. Her man just returns from the sea and she cant be bothered, I lose it….I get nuts….she yells back and then without notice gets all weepy.

Suddenly, as quickly as the tears came, they are gone and she is glaring at me with a look that bores right through me and in a voice similar to Linda Blair’s (just as her head does a 360 in The Exorcist) says, “I took 15 *&% &^%$ pills today and 12 of them went in my @#&! vagina, where they still are and I feel like a G*D damn gumball machine….let me put just one in your *@#!% penis.

Man, I spun on my heels thinking, “Why couldn’t that have been me who went overboard?”

This is one husband’s story about living with a woman on hormones. It is not always this dramatic but the stress can be very difficult for a couple and many relationships benefit from professional support when going through fertility treatments.

Imagine dealing with the stress, frustrations and cyclic disappointment couples feel when trying unsuccessfully to start a family. Add to this that your wife is being pumped up with hormones that have the potential to lower her threshold of rationality and sanity. Outbursts of anger directed at especially those closest to them are very common.

Under normal circumstances most of us can control our reactions without letting our emotions get in the way. Hormones can greatly diminish our ability to control our behavior when circumstances become tense and stressful. Hormones have even been used as a defense in murder cases.

My recommendation is to get rid of any guns in the house and not respond to apparent emotional outbursts. This should pass when the cycle is completed and the hormones have faded from the system.

If not…?

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So, what’s YOUR best “blow-up” story? Come on. Confess.

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Are You Ready for Your IVF Results Phone Call?

By Tracey Minella

June 15th, 2011 at 1:32 am

So much is riding on it. It may be the one and only chance you’re taking at ART. Or the last shot after a long journey of less aggressive treatments. Or something in between.

Whatever your situation, the stakes couldn’t be higher emotionally, physically or financially.

The drugs are costly and worrisome despite what the studies say about their safety. The juggling of job or home obligations to accommodate the demands of sonos and labwork is time-consuming and stressful. Even the guesswork on when to have sex… so its not too close to the retrieval, yet not too distant so as to render the big day’s sample “stale”…is taxing.

And as hard as it is to take it each month when you realize you didn’t get pregnant again, there is no period more heart-breaking than the one that comes after the draining experience of a failed IVF. And there’s no other experience where an average couple can blow through their life savings in a single month or put themselves so far into debt that it may take them several years to repay. All on a gamble for a prize that is ultimately out of their control to obtain.

Yet the odds of IVF success are getting higher every day. And it’s precisely that fact that brings hope to every patient every time they do IVF…even when their personal situation reduces the odds in their case. No matter what, IVF gives you more hope than any non-IVF month. And during the long two week wait for results, hope can make you read those confusing signs and symptoms as being pregnant instead of not pregnant. It can even make you believe you could still be pregnant (which you can be) if bleeding has begun. IVF hope persists until the dreaded phone call kills it…instantly.

So when it fails, it’s beyond devastating. It’s important to be prepared for your results call.

I’ve actually done IVF seven times. No cryo cycles. Two negatives. A very positive that ultimately went very negative. Two more negatives. Two positives. In the beginning, we made sure we were together staring at the phone waiting for it to ring on results day. Perhaps we became jaded, or just less flexible with time off from work, but over time we weren’t as obsessed about being together for the call. 

So, I’ve gotten negative results with Adam and negative results alone; I got our first positive result (which ended badly) with Adam. I got our last two positive results without him but in such cool ways. One result was at the end of my very first day working for Dr. Kreiner as a medical assistant and he called me in to the office to tell me in person. So amazing! And the other result, four years later, I also got on the job, but this time I was the first to see it come over the fax from the lab!

For me, being alone for the call was probably more preferable, especially after negative results calls. But I’m weird that way. I came to expect a negative result just a bit more than I did at first, and I wanted to be able to fall apart completely if it was negative, without feeling even the teeniest bit that I had to hold it together at all so as not to further upset Adam. Plus I had dreamed up cute ways to tell him the news if it was positive…you know, the way normal women get to do when their husbands least expect it. If he was with me for the call, there went my cutesy surprise. Though being together for the first positive was a truly beautiful moment.

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Are you prepared for your IVF results call? Where will you be? Will you be together? If not, how do you plan to share the news? If you’ve already done IVF, what did you do and what, if anything, would you do differently in a future cycle?

And if you want to do IVF, have you entered our contest to win a FREE Micro-IVF cycle?! It’s so easy. Just tell us the most shocking horrid thing some insensitive jerk said to you about being infertile. See the blog post from June 6th to enter.

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Stop the Infertility Insanity!

By Tracey Minella

February 17th, 2011 at 12:00 am

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Are you doing that with your infertility treatment? Are you gearing up for your 15th IUI?  If so, maybe it’s time to shake things up a bit. Maybe move on to a new approach or technique. Time to stop the insanity.

Listen, if any one is entitled to be crazy, it’s a woman struggling with infertility. The fear of possibly not being able to have a biological child and the frustration over the lack of control and the costs associated with infertility treatment is maddening. And let’s not even talk about the havoc the friggin drugs wreak…

Your infertility journey is a series of steps, each one moving you further along to the goal of a healthy pregnancy. The key is not to spend too much time on one level if you are not successful. Be willing to move forward. You must face that at some point, the basal thermometer and ovulation kit goes in the drawer. Clomid may give way to injectables. Repeated IUIs without success should lead to IVF. And repeated IVF failures should lead to changes in the IVF protocol. Stop doing the same thing over and over.

So, how do you know when to move on?

First, you need to educate yourself on the medical aspects of your infertility treatment. Listen to and understand your diagnosis. Ask questions and do some research. Know your options and your odds for success doing each type of possible procedure. Don’t be afraid to talk to your fertility doctor. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard patients say they freeze up or forget to ask their questions. Or that they just blindly do as they are told. You won’t offend the doctor by asking questions. And if you do, he’s the wrong doctor. Think things out, write down questions, and take notes when you meet with the doctor. Remember, you are a team.

Second, you should understand the financial aspects of infertility treatment. Learn about what your insurance plan will or will not cover as far as medication and treatment options. Ask your clinic about grants to help off-set expenses. Do this early as there may be a waiting list. Reputable clinics will have billing and grant specialists who can help you navigate this frustrating and stressful part of the process. And less stress is best. You don’t want to waste your entire infertility budget on 12 IUI’s and have nothing left for IVF, with its higher cost, but higher success rates. It’s easy to say “just one more cycle” and then lose track of how fast time and money has flown.

Next, have a heart to heart talk with your partner. Better yet, have many. Keep the communication lines open about what you both want as a couple. One of you may want to move at a faster pace than the other or may be against even doing certain procedures. Plus, feelings change from cycle to cycle, so keep talking to each other. The last thing you need is for you to run out of the emotional or financial stamina before even getting to IVF. Take advantage of your practice’s support groups.

Finally, you need decide if you’re even in the right infertility practice. That’s a tough one because it’s unbearably hard to face the fact that you may’ve chosen the wrong clinic to begin with. And to admit that you wasted precious time and money. But if you don’t face that hard truth, and you stay there, things will likely only get worse.

(Next week, I will address the things to consider when choosing the right infertility practice, so be sure to check back!)

Are you an active partner in your infertility plan? Do you have tips to share for fellow patients who are reluctant to speak up? Or do you think the doctor knows best and the patient should just listen?

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