October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and October 15th is designated as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. The pain of stillbirth and miscarriage are not something to “get over.” Parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends have to live with the reality of loss. Today on this Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, hold all in your hearts who are in grief. I hold those who grieve in my heart, and the precious babies we remember today.

#October15th #PregnancyandInfantLossAwareness

#Stillbirth #Miscarriage #pregnancy


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Infertility turns your life on its head. This is especially true of people who label themselves as planners or control freaks. Unfortunately, there seem to be a lot of control freaks and planners in the world of infertility treatment.

I really am not sure why this is so. There is nothing about the world that we can control, really. We can’t control the weather but maybe we can control the type of clothing that we put on. We can maybe control the type of food we put in our mouths. We can control how fast or slow we drive. You can control which clinic you work with. But when it comes to the big stuff, like a medical problem like infertility, we cannot control it at all. We can only control our approach to it.

Infertility treatment is physically, emotionally, socially, and financially challenging, as you well know. One of my patients called infertility, “controlled chaos. It is a lot of juggling.” All of the required medical appointments wreck your work life. The timing of an IUI or IVF cycle wreck your personal life. So what you do? You try to control other things. You go to the gym to work off the anxiety and try to control your body, because the hormones you are adding weight to your adorable body. You go to acupuncture and maybe take herbs. You quit caffeine and alcohol. You figure out how to eat “right” or perfectly.  I have wondered if planners take on the strict regimens of infertility treatment as a good thing or not so good thing. After all, it is something that can actually be planned. Another patient said, “Infertility feels like one too many things. It is so much to take track of.  Which times to take medicines. Which doses. Which days to be at the clinic.”

Control freaks are trying to control anything and everything, as a way to tamp down anxiety. In my experience this is the case prior to a diagnosis of infertility. The codes words “I am a worrier” are often my clue that I am working with someone who calls themselves a planner. Often this goes back to childhood. It is code for anxiety. The uncertainty of infertility sets up all kinds of “what if’s” that are beyond our control.  What if I get pregnant just in time for the family cruise to South America? What if I lose the baby? What if my boss doesn’t appreciate my working less? What if I drink too much coffee? What if I never get pregnant? And then there are always the coulda/woulda/shoulda’s.  Control freaks look for something—or someone—to control.  But control is a myth.  You can make as many plans as you want. Life has a way of happening right under our nose.

I feel for you. I really do. Humans look for answers and certainty. Medical problems like infertility offer question marks and uncertainty. I have learned over the course of my life that I don’t know nothin’ about nothin’ and that flowing works better than controlling or planning.  What I know, in truth, is that the only thing we can control is ourselves. Yeah, that sucks but it’s real.

Let me share something with you that is very helpful during anxious times. Break down time into 15 minute blocks. Most of us can control our lives in 15 minute blocks. When you get to the end of that time block, start the next 15 minute block.

You can plan, perhaps, for the next 30 minutes or hour or day, but don’t get too far out ahead of yourself, because anxiety is waiting to say hello and kick you in the behind. Meditation can help, too, but I think that moving meditation maybe works better for somebody who is anxious. Walking slowly, and I mean slowly, while you just observe your thoughts or physical sensations without judgment can be very helpful. Step by step.  Just like life.  Another way of moving meditation can just be to sway slowly back and forth and just letting things be.

So be aware of what you can actually can and cannot control.  Make plans as long as you know that plans are just a thing, not something that may come to pass. I’ll tell you personally that when you let go of the need to control your world, things ease up. It may seem counterintuitive but it’s true. And the 15 minute time block idea may change your world for the better…

#NAIW #ListenUp

 


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I have noticed that fertility clinics are not chatty places.  I also hear many of my patients talking about why they don’t talk about infertility with others.  Why is that?

I think it’s infertility shame.

Maybe you already know what I’m talking about. Suffering in silence. Keeping your head down. Not telling other people in your life about the fertility struggles you are having because you are embarrassed. Feeling that there is something wrong with you. Learning through others’ stupid comments that it’s not worth trying to talk about it.  Infertility shame tells you that you are a failure because getting and staying pregnant are not happening in the way that you were promised.  That you are different. You are living in a bait and switch world.  We have all been told that you get pregnant any and every time you have intercourse.  Well, that story happens for some people, I suppose.  But if that was true of everybody all the time, the Earth would be groaning with the weight of trillions of people.

I’ve been there.

I never understood my reproductive “stuff” because doctors told me that everything was normal. Before I really even understood what intuition was, I knew that my reproductive stuff was NOT working correctly. Getting a period and bleeding for weeks and then nothing; repeat. Terrible cramps. Menstrual migraines.  You get the picture. It didn’t make any sense at all. And then…I tried to get pregnant.

My husband and I were told to use a basal body temperature thermometer and chart my cycle. Let’s cut to the chase, shall we: there was no obvious ovulation. Ovulation kits were expensive and the 14th day of my cycle was as crazy as any other day. I detested BBT thermometers. I remember my ritual with my husband of cursing them and throwing them in the garbage. By some miracle we were able to get pregnant, even with wonky ovaries.  And then… I tried to stay pregnant.

What I found out ultimately was that the bottom segment of my uterus doesn’t work when it has too much baby in it. My uterus was not meant to be pregnant, not really. Aha, maybe that was what my intuition was about!  I felt like a failure for not having a body that would make things easy and for putting a baby at risk unintentionally. It took me some therapy and some compassion for myself to learn that my wacko uterus and wonky ovaries were beyond my control. I have learned that my uterus may have been “defective”, but I sure as hell am not.

And you are not defective or a failure either. You have some intuition about your body, too. Something isn’t working, or maybe something isn’t working for your partner. That is nothing to be ashamed of. It is beyond your control. It is something to work on, or work through, or work with. That may be with a fertility clinic or an adoption agency.

Shame is personal. It’s the shitty things we tell ourselves about ourselves. You sure wouldn’t say shitty things about your neighbor’s body, right? For other people you have a sense of conscience and compassion. You are kind and empathetic (hopefully) and you offer to listen.

Here’s the thing: for you to listen, somebody has to speak. Now let’s turn that around so that you can start to beat down your infertility shame.

For other people to listen, you’ve gotta talk.  You’ve gotta let it out into the sunshine. Shame is the shadow in our lives. You have to talk back to your infertility shame and beat it by letting it out. Sometimes that is talking with family or friends or colleagues at work. Unfortunately, that may or may not end up being a good idea, depending on the often dumb responses from other people from other people. Going to a Resolve meeting near you or online can be a lifesaver. Facebook groups, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are great places to talk with other people, too.

www.bigstockphoto.com

You are not alone! One in eight couples in the United States struggle with infertility. In Canada, it is one in six couples.

It’s time to work with your Self. Please stop saying shitty things about yourself and your body. Stop apologizing, or explaining, or justifying the fact that you are struggling with infertility. This is a physical, medical problem, just like cancer or thyroid disease. You did not bring this on. With help and compassion, you may be able to beat it.

So listen up. The best way to beat infertility shame is to do it together. You and your Self.  You and me. You and Resolve. During this National Infertility Awareness Week, April 23-29, 2017, let’s work together.

Let’s. Beat. Infertility. Shame. Together.  #NIAW #ListenUp


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Listen up!  It’s National Infertility Awareness Week, a week that is so important in my life and the lives of my beautiful patients.  This year’s theme, “Listen Up!” is a call to action for a multitude of interested parties:

  • For people struggling with infertility, it is a call to do what must be done, to treat infertility sooner rather than later. Avoid regrets by taking action.  It is also imperative to talk openly about the physical, emotional, and financial difficulties that come with crappiness of infertility. Together, we can beat infertility shame! #ListenUp
  • For couples struggling with infertility, get on the same page about what to do. This may mean getting to a specially-trained therapist who understands the emotional rollercoaster and medical issues of infertility.  You can find me and other therapists through the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.   Or you can talk with me in the office or online on videoconference.  Your relationship will be strengthened by working together.  #ListenUp
  • For people who love someone with infertility, it is a call to action to learn and listen with a full heart, not to offer quick fixes or religious advice. Ask your friend or family member how they are.  Hug them when they cry. Drive your loved one to an appointment.  #ListenUp
  • For OB/GYNs, it is a call to action to refer patients to fertility clinics quickly, especially if they are close to or older than 40. When your patients get pregnant with the appropriate fertility treatment, they will come back to you, with a grateful heart. #ListenUp
  • For fertility doctors and OB/GYN’s, it is a call to action to refer your patients to Resolve and to specially-trained therapists before they are crying in your office. Thinking about your patients in a holistic way will buy you a lot of brownie points with your patients. #ListenUp
  • For insurance companies, it is a call to action to change the ways in which you disenfranchise your subscribers from receiving the MEDICAL treatment they need and deserve. It’s 2017.  Infertility is not a desirable treatment, it is an illness process requiring medical treatment.  Here’s the truth: Fertility treatment doesn’t cost you that much. It is worth gold to your subscribers.  #ListenUp
  • For legislators, it is a call to action to recognize that reproduction and parenting happen in many ways. Enact laws to recognize and support gestational surrogacy and to update parentage laws that recognize parenting through gestational surrogacy.  #ListenUp

We humans do best when we have a purpose and take action.  Listen Up!  It’s National Infertility Awareness Week.  #NIAW


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I am writing this blog post on the day after the 2016 election. Many are attempting to understand the mystery of the unexplained. The unexplainable unexpected. Living in the no word zone. Mystery defies reason. The difficulty with the unexplained is that there are no ready answers, right now, when you need them.

Many of you live with the unexplained every day. There are no answers for the infertility diagnosis that you live with. Your baby has died unexpectedly and nothing makes sense about anything. You or someone you love is diagnosed with cancer.  In the spirit of offering balance and healing, I offer 5 tips for living with the mystery of the unexplained:

  1. Bathe yourself in compassion and love. Have it for yourself.  You hurt.  You are confused and frightened.  Love this person.  And offer it to others, even if you are not sure you have it for yourself.  We have been doing a lot of hugging today at Partners in Healing of Minneapolis, colleagues and clients. Connect with others from your best place.  I don’t have words for that right now but you will know what it is for you.
  2. Allow yourself to grieve before you look for answers and options.  There will be some clarity about something at some point.  For now, mourn your loss but hold on to your dreams.  Let the world stop spinning for a few minutes and just mourn.
  3.  Acknowledge your fears.  Actually, acknowledge all of your feelings, whatever they are.  It may help to express your fears to those you trust.  However, be selective about who you express your fears and other feelings to.  Look for comfort from people that you trust. Avoid people, for now, who either bring more questions or no empathy. This is not the time to hope that “that person” will come around and give you what you need. You don’t need to be pooh-poohed, or fixed, or pitied, or “adviced” by others.  Just ask them to listen.  If that’s not possible, thank them and move on to someone who can just connect with you.
  4. Gently release the idea of control. Really.  The mystery of the unexplained is just beyond your and my control.  Just ride the wave of unexplainable stuff while keeping your head above water.  Ride the roller coaster with your seatbelt attached tight and hold on. You’re not sure where you are going yet.  Just hold on to yourself. It’s okay to turn off social media and the news. You do have control about that.  And your reactions to what you come across.  I understand that your reactions may not always be pretty.
  5. Understand, truly, that the sun comes out every day and that every day is an opportunity to find something new. Sometimes that new thing will be painful. Sometimes that thing will be to learn to be still, just to explore the feelings and thoughts you have. Sometimes the answer will arrive in the most unexpected way or the most unexpected person. Always, always, look to love and compassion for your answers.

Love to you all, always,  Debbie


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Infertility takes over your life.  How can you get to the clinic before your big presentation today? Is today ovulation day?  Did you do your injection at the right time in the right dosage?  Will your spouse be home from the work trip in time to give a semen sample? How many BBB’s (Big Bellies and Babies) are you going to see at the grocery today?  How many blogs can you read today about infertility?  How sick of infertility are you?

Infertility takes over your mind, too.  It is very hard not to think about.  I bet you know what day of the cycle you are on.  I remember how confused and angry I was every month when I wasn’t ovulating but my doctor kept pooh-poohing my concerns and my intuition.  I could not stop thinking about it, only to be told that I was obsessing, not to worry, and to relax.

I know what you are going through.  I am sorry that you hurt and you are scared that the hurt won’t ever end.

Until that moment when the pregnancy test is positive.

No way!

Could this be happening?

Do another few tests at home.  They are still positive!  What does this mean?! Everybody says that you should feel happy about a positive result, right?

Not when you have been trying for months or years.

When you have been in the infertility trenches and you are now pregnant, you are in what I call a

Prove It Pregnancy

Yes, that’s right.  A Prove It Pregnancy.  Yeah, yeah, other people stay pregnant and have babies. Could that be possible?

Infertility tells you, “Hold on there, honey. This can’t possibly work out well.”  It’s the Too Good To Be True Factor.  But this could be real.  Truly.  Really.

When you get pregnant after months—or years—of undergoing fertility treatment, there is shock, disbelief, and excitement.  Shhhhhh!  Don’t jinx it!  That first ultrasound can scare the jeepers out of you.  But it might be real.  You may not really believe it until the next ultrasound.  Maybe not.  Maybe later.  Am I pregnant?  Prove it.

Transferring your care from the fertility clinic to an OB/GYN or midwife care can be disorienting and even frightening.  This means that your pregnancy is continuing, despite your fear.  Can this really be happening?  Yes.  I know that you may have had a close relationship with the fertility clinic doctors and nurses.  You can learn to trust a clinic that can help you deliver a baby.

Really?!  Yes.  It is possible.

And there may come a time when you consider investing in the pregnancy and a baby, but fear still may remain.  Superstition is normal in a Prove It Pregnancy.  Others want to invest in baby stuff.  No. Thanks.  Maybe. Later.  It is okay to put things off.

As one gentleman recently said to me, “I may think about investing in the pregnancy when we get to 26 or 27 weeks.  When it seems real.”  And a woman I know thought it might be okay to peek at Pinterest.  Sure.  For just a moment.  And honestly, it may not seem real until a baby is warm and squawking in your arms.  That’s okay.

 

It’s a Prove It Pregnancy.   

 

 


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