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Archive for the ‘surviving infertility’ tag

Infertile Again on New Year’s Eve

By Tracey A. Minella

December 31st, 2014 at 2:17 pm

 

credit: stuart miles/ freedigitalphotos.net


I know exactly what you want to do with that noise maker.

No one would blame you either.

When you’re battling infertility, the last thing most people want to do is party. Unless you’re determined to forget reality for a few hours, who wants to spend money we don’t have dressing up for some rip-off celebration where you’re crowded into a ballroom full of strangers, with bad food, bargain booze, and loud tacky music while fertile friends complain about what the babysitter is costing them?

Truth is…I never liked New Year’s Eve. I hate high heels…and am not really fond of strangers either. My well-done steak never arrives until the ball is dropping. And the group rendition of Sweet Caroline just doesn’t have the same old lure. You may have your own reasons to hate big New Year’s Eve celebrations. Reasons in addition to the obvious one…

Facing the passing of time, coupled with infertility, is a mood killer.

Here’s the best advice I’ve got: Boycott it! Yes, treat New Year’s Eve like any other night. Be a rebel and go to bed at 10. Or maybe have a romantic dinner before turning in early. Unlike many of the recent holidays, this is one where you can actually avoid family. And you can avoid the holiday itself, too…as long as you turn over the calendar the next morning. This might be best if 2014 was a particularly rough year full of losses.

Want to see people? Keep it small…with only those who truly support you…so you don’t find yourself having to fake a fun time or dodging questions about finally having a baby in 2015. A few close friends, great food and drinks, some funny board games or a good movie. Low-key.

Of course, if you do go out big time and some drunk asks if that’s a noise maker in your pocket or you’re just happy to see them, you know what to do.

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How do you feel about New Year’s Eve? A time to celebrate wildly? A time for quiet, casual fun? A night to hide under the covers?

What do you plan to do?

 

 

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Thanks, Mariano, for the “Mo”-ments You Gave Us (and the Journey We Shared)

By Tracey Minella

September 30th, 2013 at 6:48 pm

 

credit: wiki free public domain

 

You don’t have to be a sports fan to appreciate what’s been going on in major league baseball this week. The regular baseball season just ended amidst a host of emotional moments surrounding the retirement of long-time superstar Yankees relief pitcher, Mariano “Mo” Rivera, who made his major league debut in May, 1995. It’s been a while since I penned a “Just for Guys” post at the end of the month, and this “Mo”-ment demands attention.

Married to a diehard Yankees fan and unable to escape the Mariano frenzy even if I wanted to, I watched in awe as Rivera’s personal life and professional stats were highlighted. An extremely poor boy who first played baseball using a milk carton for a glove, Mariano has quietly invested tons of his own money in a namesake foundation that’s building schools and starting programs designed to improve life back in his native Panama and elsewhere. He is a humble man and still married to his childhood sweetheart. And as the All-Time Saves record holder he is a pitching legend, destined for first ballot induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Of all the stats and milestones that were rattled off, one leaped out at me. Although he didn’t start a major league game until 1995, he signed as a free amateur agent with the Yankees in 1990. That’s when I started trying to conceive. He’s been in baseball all the years I’ve been infertile…and for as long as you’ve been trying to conceive, too. In fact, today’s youngest infertility patients probably can’t remember a time when Mariano wasn’t pitching for the Yankees. So I’m joining in the farewell tributes with this light-hearted comparison of our respective “careers”.

Mariano’s journey with the Yankees, like my infertility journey, officially started years before anyone knew about it. He spent the 5 years after signing in relative obscurity; I spent a few years trying to conceive without medical intervention and unbeknownst to anyone else. His big league career began as a starter. Mine as an IUIer.

He moved on to relief pitching in 1996 and I moved on to IVF in 1993 and over our long careers we both racked up impressive records:

His all-time post-season ERA of 0.70 over a 19 year career is legendary. But my 7 fresh IVFs over 9 years and my all-time ECA (Earned Cryo Average) of 0.028 is nothing to sneeze at. His “most strikeouts by a Yankee reliever in a single season” record of 130 is impressive, but doesn’t hold a candle to the number of my follicles that struck out. He never got to play center field. I never got to have a FET (frozen embryo transfer). He emerged from the bullpen to Metallica’s “Enter the Sandman”. I emerged from my retrievals to Garth Brook’s “Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House”.

He had 18 consecutive seasons with at least one save. I had 7 consecutive cycles with at least one embryo. His pitching talent was a “gift from God”. My third cycle was a G.I.F.T from Dr. Kreiner. He never hit a triple. I had one double that was almost a triple. We were both MVPs …him the “Most Valuable Player” and me the “Most Victorious Patient”. And we were both on the disabled list with a groin strain in 1998 and 2002… though mine was due to childbirth. He was the three time “Delivery Man of the Year”. I was a two time “Delivery Woman of the Year”. We both received rocking chairs at the end of our careers, but his…made from broken bats…was much cooler.

He had longevity and consistency. So did I.

We’ll never see another Mariano, much less one with a two decade career. And fortunately, advances in reproductive technology have made long infertility journeys like mine just as rare. So, Mo and I will quietly take our respective places in the records books and watch as the next generation takes the field. And we will cheer you all on.

May your journey be a quick one. And may you bring home as many championship rings as you’ve been dreaming of.

Congratulations, Mariano on your retirement. Thanks for providing many in the infertility community some much-needed “Mo-ments” of entertainment…and distraction… during some difficult times over the past 19 years.

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How long have you been on your infertility journey? Do sports help distract from or relieve the stress of infertility for you or your partner?

 

Stat Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mariano_Rivera

http://www.northjersey.com/sports/196249831_Mariano_Rivera_s_career_highlights.html?page=all

Photo credit: Public Domain Orig released by BuickCenturyDriver http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:New_Yankee_Stadium.JPG

 

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Infertility: 4 Tips for Surviving the Back-to-School Blues

By Tracey Minella

September 7th, 2013 at 9:20 pm

 

 

image courtesy of anankkml/free digital photos.com

When you’re trying to conceive, it seems that everywhere you look, everyone is pregnant. Except you.

This week and next across Long Island, this emotional overload worsens as children return to school. After three months away in summer camps or out of sight in backyard pools, the little monsters come screeching out to the curb in full force.

Millions of them…or so it seems. They’re on every corner. Giggling at the bus-stop with their new outfits and backpacks full of crayons and glue sticks while their moms chat over morning coffee. Yellow buses seem to outnumber regular cars. It’s almost too much to bear.

Here are 4 tips on how to get through this transition:

1. Avoidance. If it’s possible, don’t go out for the half-hour or so that kids are waiting at the bus-stop. Leave a little earlier or later.

2. Treat yourself to something special. Whatever your budget, there is surely something that would brighten your day. Some trinket, manicure, massage, coffee on the beach? Infertility has deprived you. So indulge.

3. Do something to enhance your health or your odds of conceiving. It could be anything from re-committing to that gym membership now that summer’s over, taking yoga or doing something meditative, clearing your mind with a daily walk, sleeping longer, eating better, quitting a bad habit. Check out Long Island IVF’s Mind-Body Program offerings to get support and relieve the stress of infertility http://www.longislandivf.com/mind_body.cfm

4. Turn a negative into a positive. If you are tired of having to wait for your day to finally buy a child back-to-school clothes and school supplies…don’t. Gather your courage, walk into the nearest Walmart or Target and open your heart to a child that can’t afford such necessities. Your local social services department or school district would gladly accept donations of loaded backpacks, lunch boxes, and new clothes on behalf of needy children. Be an angel. It’ll make you feel better.

With any luck, you’ll be an overprotective parent secretly following your precious cargo’s school bus to school very soon.

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How do you get through the back-to-school blues? Any tips to share?

 

Photo credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/agree-terms.php?id=10047172 anankkmi

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The Hole

By Tracey Minella

June 18th, 2012 at 9:23 pm

 

I’m emotional today. I got to relive my personal IVF experience today during a video shoot for an upcoming LIIVF video. The highs and lows of several years.

Maybe you are emotional, too.

You may be emotional from medications, from opening a baby shower invitation, from an insensitive comment, or from yet another negative pregnancy test. I’ve been there. I spent years there.

I call those years “The Hole”.

I didn’t realize at the time… as I was living the day to day, minute to minute hell of infertility…that it was the hole that it in fact became. I was too busy surviving it all.

It’s a survivor’s thing, I guess. When a major life crisis like cancer or autism or infertility hits, it plucks you out of the regular world and dumps you into another place. A dark and scary place full of uncertainty and fear and broken dreams.

A hole.

I wish I could spare you. I wish I could guarantee that happy ending, that light at the end of the tunnel. But I can only hope that the hole is not too deep. That it doesn’t steal too much of your life, as it did mine. That another hole won’t follow.

Fortunately, we all will see an end to our infertility journeys. Some journeys are long, others short. But they all do end. You won’t be in treatment TTC for 20 years (though it may feel that way). It may end with a baby that’s genetically connected, or not, or, in some cases it may end without a baby. Happily, advances in assisted reproductive technology make the last scenario less likely.

My point is that there are things you are not doing, not enjoying right now because your happiness…or unhappiness…is controlled by your infertility. It’s understandable to tell yourself you’ll do those things soon… right after you get pregnant. And to protect your heart by thinking this will be the month it happens. But when it doesn’t (again), you can lose sight of the time that is actually passing. You’re putting the rest of your life on hold. And life is passing you by like the blur in your peripheral vision.

Reclaim it. It takes effort not to allow infertility to pull you into the hole. Herculean effort, at times. I didn’t have the insight. I didn’t have someone who’d walked in my shoes to tell me about the hole. But I’m telling you, though.

Because whenever… and however… it is that you do eventually get out of the hole, you will look back and wonder where those months or years went. And no matter how happy you are to have that miracle baby, and how worthwhile you feel the whole journey was, you can’t get that time back. Trust me… it’s no fun to admit I can’t remember anything fun between 1992- 1998.

It’s summer and social calendars are active. Please resist the urge to say “no” to all of the social outings and events. Skip those that are too difficult, of course, but don’t deny or isolate yourself so much that you slip away completely. Make memories you can share with your future children.

Defy the hole.

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Has your journey been a hole? When did you realize that?  If you were able to defy the hole, how did you do it?

 

Photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/hledej.php?hleda=black+hole

 

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Being An Infertility Survivor

By Pamela Madsen

May 24th, 2010 at 7:30 am

Yesterday my sister in law had surgery for cancer. The surgeons cut her from her chin to her arm pit. This was her second surgery. Next there will be chemo and in six months they will do her other side. She is grateful to have her vocal cords and to be able to speak. My sister struggles with the after math of breast cancer.  There are so many kinds of personal courage. Watching her in a Japanese Bath House allowing herself to be seen naked with a body that people struggle to not stare at – because it frightens them. That they too could become a person that struggles with cancer. There are so many ways that people get to really touch their own well of personal courage.  The ways that we get to touch that brave part of ourselves is quite endless.

Infertility is a disease that affects people from all races, professions and economic levels. We struggle to do what others think “comes naturally.” We desire to be a part of a community which often centers on family and children. We too, would like told hold our infant among adoring relatives, push our strollers down the avenue, and see simple wonders of the world through the eyes of our child. We want what most people in America and indeed, around the world value the most in their lives…a family.

Often, we feel set apart of the daily rituals of our community. Something as commonplace as a family gathering, a baby’s Bris or Christening or even how we choose to spend a Saturday afternoon, can be yet another line of division between ourselves and our fertile friends and family. I would like to take a minute, acknowledge those of you who are reading this, and have been affected by infertility  – for  your personal courage..

But it is only in my life time, that infertility has come out of the closet. For the television shows and print media, one would think that infertility is a very public issue these days. But today, the media, if not us, have come out of the closet. We only have to turn on the television or open a magazine to see the personal dramas of infertility played out through the eyes of a script writer, reporter or producer. It might be encouraging for you to know, despite the coverage, that on average, the infertile as a group spend less than three years in treatment and most of us leave treatment with biological connected children.

Much has been said about the patient perspective of the perfect infertility physician. In doing my reading on the topic, I read a wonderful joke that has been used to describe the doctor/patient relationship. Angels in heaven were all lined up in the cafeteria waiting to be served dinner. Suddenly, a conspicuous angel appeared wearing a white lab coat and a stethoscope, who started pushing his way to the front of the line. A new angel turned to an older one and asked, “Why in heaven would an angel act like that?” The senior angel shrugged his shoulders and responded, “Oh, that’s just G-d. Sometimes He likes to play doctor!”

What this joke plays to is the public perception of the physician as G-d. But we often do not discuss the qualities of the perfect patient, except of course the advantages of youth and having infertility as part of your health care package! Using this example of the heavens, an image can also be made of the patient as an angel, who allows herself to be pushed aside and quietly suffers. Interestingly, the word patient comes from the Latin word, “pati”, meaning “to suffer.” In fact, the adjective patient is defined as “bearing pains and trials calmly or without complaint.” The implication is that a patient must suffer silently like an angel.

I was never a silent angel. I was not a perfect patient either. But I gradually learned to be an effective patient. This transformation became about as I gradually figured out that I did not have to be a victim of infertility. I could be a survivor.

I think that the first step in surviving, is that we as patients in infertility have an especially difficult time dismissing the image of “The Doctor as G-d”. After all, especially in the treatment of infertility, the doctor can be seen as the giver of life. And let’s face it, we hang on every word. But to be an effective patient, we must learn to see the doctor that cares for us as a person with special skills instead of a G-d like figure. Only then, when we feel less intimidated, can we communicate more naturally with our doctor.

Effective patients approach infertility as a couple’s problem (when there is a partner!). Even when only one half of the couple has been identified as having the medical condition, it does not mean that both halves are not affected by the disease of infertility. The infertility work up, evaluation, and treatment is handled so much more effectively when both members of the couple participate in the office visits and have an understanding of the tests and procedures they have to go through. A couple who approaches infertility as a unit and shares the involvement in their treatment, is better able to support each other and make better decisions about their treatment and options. Remember when you try to divide an elephant in half, you have a mess, not two small elephants. In order for us to get through this we have to communicate and support each other with this elephant and not go off in different directions.

To be a survivor, we have to learn to ask questions about their treatment. Ask your physician direct questions about treatment shortcomings, alternative tests and therapies. For example, Is age a factor in this success rate? Will it hurt? How much will it hurt? What are the complications? What are the benefits of this treatment over others? It can be helpful to come prepared with your questions written down. To be an effective patient, you need to fully understand your tests and treatments in order to follow directions properly.

Survivors tell the doctor when he or she is failing them. This is probably the hardest thing for patients to do. I think we all have this fantasy, that if our “doctor really, really likes us” and we are “very good patients”, our doctor will try harder to get us pregnant. Communicating to a physician when we are unhappy about how we are being treated or the way our treatment is going can be very intimidating. It may one day happen, while you are in treatment, that you get upset about how certain procedures were handled or how you were handled while going through the procedure.

The emotional pain from such incidences can dig deeply when you are chronically in treatment and feel like so much depends on each cycle. These feelings can ultimately affect the doctor/patient relationship. But your doctor cannot be held responsible without first being made aware of how you feel and then being allowed the opportunity to respond. The doctor/patient relationship in infertility treatment is an intense one. And as in any relationship, both the positive and negative issues that occur need to be discussed and not avoided. Sometimes when we have been in treatment with a physician for an extended period of time without a pregnancy everybody gets frustrated, including the doctor! We can feel as if our doctor does not see us anymore. At times like these it can really help to schedule a sit down consultation when you can be sure your doctor has reviewed your treatment and you have her undivided attention.

Survivors understands that they have to be their own best advocate and seek education on both the medical and emotional aspects of infertility. The fact that you are reading this blog… tells me that you are a survivor. The professionals that take care of us, will probably tell you that infertility patients are probably most medically versed of all patients. However, we may overlook information about the feelings brought on by our infertility. A good way to begin is to check out the resources that I have listed in this blog and the links section. Check out our support groups or try reading about the emotional aspects of infertility. Infertility is one of the most stressful life crises you are likely to ever experience.

Infertility can shake the core of your being. But try to remember that while infertility is stressful, the feelings of stress are normal and expected, but not permanent. I promise you, you will not feel the way you feel today, forever. However, while we are in treatment and daily dealing with the pain of infertility, we need to find ways to cope and come out of this experience a whole person.

Check out the The East Coast Fertility community message boards or the various educational and support groups that exist in our community such as RESOLVE. Trying yoga, meditation, and exercise can also be helpful. I know it’s hard, and I couldn’t always do it, but try not to give up your life while you are going through this. Try not to let the stress of infertility isolate you. If you can find an infertility buddy through the message boards, or being friendly with other patients in the waiting room – this can be a life saver. Who else will listen to how many follicles you produced and the condition of uterine lining for hours on end?

The patient who is a survivor who have learned to take an active role in the medical team, interpret success rates, is an educated consumer, gets emotional support in order to gain insight and encouragement for our personal choices, and sometimes, the effective patient has to know when it is time to stop being a patient.

Take one step towards leaving being a victim behind. Try being an active participant in the treatment process rather than a passive recipient of medical intervention. Make contingency plans with your doctor and spouse, what will we do if this treatment option or adoption plan does not work out. Remember, patients who are able to see the physician as a person, not a deity, don’t have to act like angels sitting silently in the wings.

It is has been said that the measure of success is how we handle the journey rather than its actual outcome. I know what you want. I wish for all of you the same thing you are wishing for yourselves – a healthy baby.

But try to not let the achievement of this goal be the only measure of your success. While you are riding the infertility roller coaster, try taking control of the moment and feel the success in just that. .

Through this experience, that you never wanted; through the tears and frustration, you and your partner will grow in a positive way. Maybe in a way you can’t even see yet. And your love and strength for each other will tighten like a vine on a tree.

I believe in your strength and your courage. I have sat where you are sitting today. I have felt like the floor was opening beneath my feet, and my biggest accomplishment for the moment was that I was breathing. You will come through this. And you will write your own individual “happily ever after”. I hold out my hand to you and wish you a short journey.

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