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Archive for the ‘stress of infertility’ tag

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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In the “IVF Oscars”, the Nominee for Best Supporting Role is…

By David Kreiner MD

February 2nd, 2016 at 6:54 pm

 

image courtesy of wpclipart.com


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, 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 helps 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?

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Infertility and Powerball Dreams

By Tracey Minella

January 12th, 2016 at 3:19 pm

 

Photo credit: Mister GC/ freedigitalphotos.net


If I had $100 for every infertile woman or couple out there who is dreaming that the Powerball win could fund their fertility treatment, well… I’d be almost as rich as the eventual lucky winner.

Imagine what you’d do with that record-crushing fortune. You could aggressively pursue your fertility treatment, including some options that might currently be out of your financial reach. You could pursue adoption, or maybe surrogacy. Even do it all simultaneously! Imagine not having the financial stress on top of the stress of trying to conceive.

If I couldn’t claim the big prize, here’s what I’d like to say to the billionaire Powerball Winner:

You’ve just won more money than one person could spend in a lifetime and I’m sure you want to do some good in this world. After you have taken care of yourself and your friends and family, and are considering how to spend and invest the rest, please think of the infertile people who need your help and start a charitable foundation to help them become parents.

Yachts, trips, mansions, sports teams…they are all great fun and smart investments of time and money. But answering prayers and creating life? That’s truly priceless stuff. And fate has granted you the extraordinary means to do just that. Look at your parents. Look at your children. That kind of love is at stake. Please use your power to grow it.

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What would you do if you won? How would it affect your infertility journey and your future plans?

 

 

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Treating International Fertility Patients

By David Kreiner MD

January 7th, 2016 at 12:43 pm

 

Credit: WpClipart.com (public domain photo)


My wife says I don’t show my emotions enough.  Perhaps this is a flaw in my character. However, as a reproductive endocrinologist whether it is in the midst of surgery or under the gun of treating a patient from far-away lands like Sicily or Mongolia…keeping my cool has its benefits.

With international travel very much in the news lately, it made me think of my experiences treating international patients for infertility. And the added stress and honor that comes with being chosen for the job.

The patient from Taormina, Italy had already gone through gonadotropin/IUI cycles without success in Italy.  The wife barely spoke English. She was very nervous, not just because of her fertility challenge, but being so far from home and not being able to communicate well added greatly to her angst.  For me, a patient’s anxiety level is something that I am very sensitive to, and it could raise my own stress level…which it did.  However, add to that the fact that this couple left their home, lives and jobs to come all the way here for an IVF attempt that– if it failed– would require yet another transatlantic flight and additional weeks away from their normal lives.

I suppose distance plays into the potential stress factor since another patient– from Mongolia– who came to me at Long Island IVF was travelling, according to my astute Long Island sense of geography…from the opposite end of the world.  Yes, even for an unemotional seasoned infertility specialist like myself, I have to admit my heart pounds a little stronger in these situations.

Like for all my patients, I prefer to oversee their care personally and if possible perform their procedures even though I have complete confidence in the exceptional abilities of my partners.  I think patients like to see their own doctors that they have bonded with and trusted during the preceding weeks and months.

The intervening 10-14 days of nail biting time is rough for patient and doctor alike.  Fortunately, my Mongolian patient had the most beautiful baby from her first attempt and my patients from Taormina who I have become very friendly with, now have two of the most gorgeous children from two separate embryo transfers three years apart.

I guess sometimes I do let my emotions get the best of me…when I look at the baby pictures remembering all that I have been through with my patients including when I injected the embryos that we all saw as a drop of fluid in the uterus on the ultrasound machine…I still get choked up.

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Have you travelled out of state or the country (or would you ever consider it) for medical care? If so, why, and how far would you be willing to go? Do you have any fears of travelling related to contracting infection or disease?

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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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