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Archive for the ‘stress of infertility’ tag

Infertility, Lucky Charms, and St. Patrick’s Day

By Tracey Minella

March 11th, 2017 at 10:32 pm

 

image: wpclipart


 

Let’s raise a glass to one of the few holidays that’s not focused on children!

 

Other than spotting those little scouts at a local parade, St. Patrick’s Day—or night—is a time where a good part of the country…legit Irish or wannabes…gets downright hammered. (Not that we advocate that or anything…wink, wink.)

 

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. Hey, there’s no shame in being sober on St. Patrick’s Day! Be the responsible designated driver–it’s great training for all the parental responsibility and sacrifice that might be just over the rainbow for you.

 

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. C’mon, if I was really lucky, I wouldn’t have needed IVF to conceive. And, might I add, I’d have had a pot o’ gold to finance it all. But, nooo.

 

Do YOU believe in lucky charms for fertility?

 

There are 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 many fertility jewelry sites that make beautiful handmade items if you’re open about the struggle.

 

I also had 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 my girl one day and tell her its special story.

 

But a few years later, I had a co-worker who was TTC and was 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 travelling compact is touching lives and spreading love and luck throughout our sisterhood.

 

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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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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Infertile People Have a Dream

By Tracey Minella

January 16th, 2017 at 6:01 pm

image credit: David Castillo Dominici/ freedigitalphotos.net

 

As Americans celebrate the late, great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we usually remember his most famous quotation from his 1963 speech for racial equality.

 

“I Have a Dream…”

 

Those trying to conceive a baby live by these same words. They are the mantra of the suffering, infertile woman.

 

To be clear, infertility is not on the same “life-and-death” level as the civil rights movement.  Yet there is no mistaking the parallels that do exist between the passion MLK Jr. felt for his cause and the passion infertile women feel for their quest for motherhood.

 

When you are infertile, you are ever-aware of a different unfairness and inequality in the world. How fertile couples take their fertility for granted. How others have what you’ve been denied. You suffer unimaginable pain and despair at what is effectively a denial of your right to the pursuit of happiness. And you passionately dream your dream…of a day when you will hold a baby in your arms.

 

MLK Jr.’s peaceful protesting of the injustices of segregation and racial inequality ultimately changed a nation. But for the infertile woman, there is no protest that can make that dream of motherhood come true. Sure, we can and must demand the government do more to help infertile women… such continually advocating for legislation mandating more comprehensive medical insurance for infertility treatment. But ultimately, your plight is based on individual circumstance, not oppression by others. New legislation may help financially, but it alone won’t guarantee you get pregnant. So how do you deal with the frustration over the situation? How do you keep your dream alive?

 

Dr. King…a spiritual man and motivational speaker…gave us more than that one famous quote.  Here’s another one, which speaks to the heart of the infertile woman:

 

“Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

 

So when you remember the courage of this great man, think about becoming an advocate for political change that will advance the cause for infertile women. Keep the faith.

 

And never give up on your dream.

 

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How do you keep your dream alive? What’s the biggest obstacle?

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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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Will IVF Children Grieve Their Lost Embryo Siblings?

By Tracey Minella

November 26th, 2016 at 8:49 pm

 

image credit: davidcastillodominici/ free digitalphotos.net


Is it common for those born through IVF to grow up to grieve their “sibling embryos” that were not born…either because they were never transferred or because they failed to survive the transfer or at some point thereafter?

As an IVF mom, an article I read about a woman who grieves her lost embryo siblings really got me thinking. The woman complained that no one understands her overwhelming grief… including her own parents… and that there are no appropriate support groups for IVF children who feel like she does. Will my IVF children feel this way someday? Is there anything I can do to prevent that from happening?

I wonder how many IVF children suffer from this grief and guilt. If given a name, would we call it “Survivor Embryo Syndrome”? Does it occur more often in only children born through IVF…children who may be longing for a sibling? Or is it extremely rare and that’s why support groups don’t seem to exist?

There are countless grown women and men who were conceived long ago through this miracle technology and could possibly be struggling with such feelings.

These adults were conceived before today’s recommended single or double embryo transfers…probably back when four embryo transfers were the norm. Imagine being the only one out of four embryos that survived?  Wouldn’t it seem natural to often wonder “Why only me?”

Then again, sometimes all four embryos survived. In past decades, selective embryo reduction was often used in high order multiple pregnancies. A difficult and personal decision (and a controversial topic not without its own risks) selective reduction may be used to reduce the number of a high order multiple pregnancy, from quadruplets to twins or from triplets to a singleton, for example. It’s hard to imagine the conflicted feelings some of the surviving children of such cases might experience.

Why am I here and they are not?

Hopefully, IVF parents who may understandably be blinded to the plight of their lost embryos by their extreme thankfulness for the one that did survive will be mindful that their miracle may grow up with some survivor guilt issues.

If my own IVF daughter shares these feelings with me someday, I will certainly acknowledge them and help her process them in the same way we’ve always discussed how she came into this world. Age-appropriate information shared in many open discussions that always focus on our determination to have a baby and how very much we loved her even before she was born.

I’d tell her that it was fate that she was the one we were meant to have at that given time, even if it’s sad that so many other embryos with the potential for life did not come to be. I’d tell her there is a reason she is here and to live her life to the fullest, use her talents, be happy, be charitable, and do good things. And if she still needed more help than I could give her, I’d encourage her to talk with a professional counselor with experience in infertility-related issues, such as Long Island IVF’s Mind-Body Program specialist, Bina Benisch, MS, RN.

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What do you think about this survivor guilt issue? How would you comfort your IVF child or what would you do to prevent them from feeling any guilt over being survivors?

 

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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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Forging Friendships in Long Island IVF’s Support Groups

By Tracey Minella

July 30th, 2016 at 4:00 pm

 

image credit: nenetus/ freedigitalphotos.net


When you’re diagnosed with a life-altering disease, you find out who your true friends really are. And sometimes, life brings new friends your way…friends to celebrate each day…especially today, which is Friendship Day.

Infertility is a disease that affects 1 in every 8 couples. Yet despite all the advances in assisted reproductive technologies since the birth of the world’s first IVF baby 38 years ago this week, an infertility diagnosis still carries a social stigma. It makes many sufferers reluctant to share their secret—even with those closest to them.

One of the hardest parts about infertility is waiting– sometimes for years– and watching all your friends and family getting pregnant, again and again. Being a good friend to them means being happy for them—or at least faking it well. Besides, your day will likely come and you want them to be happy for you when it does.

If you are lucky—really lucky—you will find a true friend to support you along this journey. One who knows how to listen, when to be quiet, what to say and more importantly what not to say. One who is the best cheerleader, hand-holder, and advocate. One who knows how to console you, cheer you up, pamper you, and get you to try again. The soul-mate kind of friend who never tires of hearing you complain about infertility or cry over the pain it inflicts—or at least never shows it. The friend who has your back through it all.

Sometimes this may be a sister, friend, or co-worker. Sometimes it may be someone else who is also suffering from (or had suffered) from infertility. Some amazing, life-long friendships have been forged in Long Island IVF’s support groups with women who met as struggling infertiles and went on to become parents. Call the office or email our caring counselor at BinaBenisch@gmail.com if you’d like more information.

Who do you want to celebrate?

Why not give that BFF a big “shout out” right here—or privately—and let them know you’d be lost without them. Got a picture of you together? Post it!

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What has your special friend done or said to make your infertility journey a little easier to bear? Or what do you wish your friends would do—or not do—that would help you?

 

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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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Stop April Fool’s Day Pregnancy Jokes

By Tracey Minella

March 30th, 2016 at 6:45 am

 

image credit: nenetus/freedigitalphotos.net


Even a holiday as insignificant as April Fool’s Day has become a minefield for the infertile.

What should be a harmless day of dodging innocent pranks always turns ugly with the inevitable April Fool’s Day prank post: “I’m pregnant”.

Just. Stop. Now.

It’s not only soooooo last year (and the year before that… and the year before that) but it’s not even believable or funny anymore. In fact, it never was. It’s simply hurtful to those who can’t have children. And we are not oversensitive. Infertility is no joke. It’s a disease. Would you joke about having cancer? Of course not.

So how about you think before typing that lame joke this year? Think about all the infertile couples who suffer every day of the year as their newsfeeds are bombarded by countless legit pregnancy announcements, baby pictures, and other kid-related posts.

Give us a break. Better yet, post something that is actually laugh-out-loud funny. Lord knows, we could use a momentary diversion from the pain with a rare and honest belly laugh.

Don’t be the Fool this April 1st.

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Are you bothered by April Fool’s Day pregnancy pranks? How do you respond?

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