40 Ways Infertility and Covid-19 are too much alike (we hates them both, precious)

  • Infertility and Covid-19 are scary medical conditions.
  • You may or may not have symptoms.
  • You don’t know how you got it or how to get rid of it.
  • Now everyone is on the rollercoaster.
  • Your friends and family may downplay your concerns.
  • Everybody doesn’t know what to do.
  • Read more…

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Are You THAT Girl Now?

It is not unusual that women will tell me, “I never wanted to be THAT girl.”

Have you ended up being THAT girl? How you feel about that? Who is THAT girl?

Is she the one who fears pity from others?

Is she the one with a medical problem but she blames herself?

Is she the one who is grieving her baby and her dreams?

Is she the one who feels judged by others and, in turn, judges others?

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Fertility Drugs and the “F” Word

Let’s uncover a truth about fertility treatment: fertility drugs make a lot of people feel crazy, anxious, angry, and out of control. They can cause people to cry for hours over nothing.  It’s not just because you tend to be anxious or a planner.  It’s a thing, even if your doctor says it’s not. Fertility drugs and the “F” word belong in the same sentence.  Can I get an amen? Let your “F” word fly!

As one of my clients said during one of our sessions, “Don’t mind me. I need to put on a fresh estrogen patch. What fresh hell is this?”  She described asmorgasbord of feelings on this and her other fertility medications. “So. Many. F*cking. Feelings.” she said, as she put the patch on her belly. She was serving up “F” word realness.  While her descriptions were making us both hysterical—this adorable human being can curse like the crew on a Navy ship—we were having a serious discussion.  The drugs negatively affected her work, her ability to think, her ability to sleep, and her ability to have a civil conversation with her husband and her clinic. She did not recognize herself at times. “I feel sad, crappy, and bloated, with nothing to show for it,” she added.

I was able to assure her that I had known her before and after she started fertility drugs and the “F” word was not nearly as prevalent before she started her meds. I also assured her, because she was really worried about this, that she was not losing her mind and she would re-find her real self when she was finished with the drugs, when she was pregnant, when she delivered, and when she was living her real life again.After the battles and wars of fertility treatment were behind her.

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Hurry Up and Wait on Your Infertility Journey

I wrote this post at the Atlanta Airport on the way to my favorite beach.

I ran through the huge Atlanta airport, which is like the Olympics of travel, and got to the gate with just enough time to spare. I had the opportunity to be bumped for a nice amount of money, so I sat.

And waited. For about six hours.

A lot of life is about hurry up and wait.

I think about this every time I listen to Tom Petty’s “The Waiting”

The waiting is the hardest part.
Every day you see one more card.
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart.
The waiting is the hardest part.

In the infertility treatment world, there’s a great deal of hurry up and wait.

Waiting to see if you get pregnant on your own and stay pregnant.

Waiting to get scheduled for your initial consult with a doctor to talk about why this is happening.

Waiting to stop crying so you can digest and process the information you just received.

Waiting to come up with the money to pursue treatment.

Waiting to get scheduled for procedures, from a little bit to the biggy of IVF.

Waiting to find helpers in a sperm or egg donor, or donor embryos, or a gestational surrogate.

Waiting to proceed once you’ve found your helpers.

Waiting to see if you feel anything after each try. Are you pregnant? Is this different? Or is this just progesterone messing with your mind and body?

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Want more fertility compassion and less “just relax?”  Me, too!  I want to share with you this excellent blog post, “Please Just Stop Trying to Make It Better – Part 1” by Justine Brooks Froelker on her website Ever Upward.  Justine has been surveying women about the dumb, irritating, stupid things that people say to those who are struggling with infertility. She talks eloquently about the lack of “fertility compassion.”  Justine chronicles her journey through infertility and surrogacy in her new book Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Own a Childfree Life.  The book is out on October 1st.

As Justine says on her website, “If you found this post enjoyable, inspiring, helpful, hopeful, interesting or even infuriating  ;), please take the time and the chance to share it through your social media! More shares means more eyes, means more people helped and the message heard on a wider scale. Thank you”.

Yes, please share with others!  We can all educate others to have more fertility compassion.  

 

Please Just Stop Trying to Make It Better – Part 1

Because you can’t, sometimes things just can’t be fixed

by Justine Brooks Froelker, LPC

I’m sad.

Just cheer up, it will be okay!

I’m anxious.

Just take a deep breath and calm down.

I’m angry.

Just count to 10 or walk away.

We’re having trouble getting pregnant.

Just adopt! Just relax! Just stopping trying!

We think these above statements are empathy. But, really they are pity filled sympathetic responses to provide that quick fix; our attempt to try to make it better.

It seems like empathy skills are missing for a lot of us. We aren’t taught how to be empathic and, I think, we even sometimes think we would rather have sympathy than empathy.

Sympathy is I feel for you; pity.

Empathy is I feel with you; I get it.

A think a major confusion is that we are mistaken in thinking that we must have gone through the exact same instance in order to have empathy. But that just isn’t how it works. In order to be empathetic we simply need to be able to understand and know what it feels like to feel the feeling that someone is experiencing. As Brené Brown states in The Daring Way™ curriculum, if you have ever experienced guilt, sadness, anger, disappointment, etc. then you are equipped for empathy.

So we all (outside of the extreme sociopath, read the Underwood’s from House of Cards) are able to show empathy and yet we are so quick to just fix it coming from a place of sympathy.

When we hear someone is in struggle we want to take away the pain, we want to make it better, we want to fix it.

Why?

We cannot stand discomfort.

We don’t like to feel sad or mad or disappointed ourselves, let alone to be with someone we care about in their sadness or anger or disappointment.

We don’t want someone we love, hell even a complete stranger, to feel this discomfort either. But, really it’s more about our struggle sit with them through it.

So, we try to fix it with a quick solution, a just stop talking about it.

And when we do this we minimize and invalidate; even if it does come from a place of love.

Practicing empathy means being willing to sit with someone in their discomfort. It means being willing to just be with someone maybe not saying a single word. It means simply saying, that is so hard, that sucks, I can’t imagine, ugh.

Compassion

This is where I birthed fertility compassion.

The world needs a whole lot more compassion in every area. But through my work in Ever Upward, fertility seems to be one of the biggest areas.

Why?

Because everyone has an opinion on family planning and it is assumed that everyone wants, needs and is able to make a family.

When in reality, this can’t be further from the truth.

My #fertilitycompassion survey had three questions:

What are some of the most difficult/insensitive statements or questions you have received in regards to your family planning?
How did you respond? And why?
What could have been a better way for the question to be asked?

The survey was anonymous and was answered by both men and women and by both people with and without children, fertile and infertile, and some childfree by choice, chance or circumstance.

Unfortunately, the results were not surprising to me as this has been my life, especially for the last years since we tried to have kids with a surrogate and are now accepting a childfree life.

Question #1 – The minimizing, invalidating, simple fix questions

These fell into 11 categories.

God’s plan.
Just adopt.
Getting pregnant is so easy.
Just relax.
But you’re the lucky one.
Parenting is the only purpose.
Empathy versus sympathy.
Easy solution.
You’ll change your mind.
Point the finger and blame.
Family planning.

1. God’s plan – reading these statements made my heart ache and my eyes sting with tears.

“You’re just not being faithful enough. You aren’t praying the right healing prayers. It’s just not in His plan for you to be a mom. God doesn’t think you’re financially ready to be a parent. It’s just not meant to be.”

2. Just adopt – these still spark some anger in me, mostly at the lack of understanding.

“Just adopt. Why don’t you just foster? There are so many minority kids who need good homes. Don’t you think you should save a child before having any more of your own?”

3. Getting pregnant is so easy – obviously not: 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility and 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage.

“You’re so young, you have so much time. You’re next! A lot of women miscarry! You were so early!”

4. Just relax – if only it were this simple for all of us.

“Just relax. Go on vacation. Have a margarita. Just don’t think about it.”

5. But you’re the lucky one – the one upper, I have it so much worse.

“You have it so easy without kids. You don’t need time off work, you don’t have kids waiting for you at home. Oh, I’m a terrible mother, you can have my kids. You can borrow mine any time.”

6. Parenting is the only purpose – if this is true I’m screwed.

“You aren’t a parent, you wouldn’t understand. But kids is the only purpose we have in life. Who will take care of you when you are old? But, having kids is the only way to really feel love.”

7. Empathy versus sympathy – your pity does nothing for me and only leaves me feeling even more alone.

“I feel for sorry for you. Oh, I am so glad we never struggled, I can’t imagine.”

8. Easy solution – there are a millions way to make a family, none of them easy.

“Have you tried this? Or that? $15,000 isn’t that much money, just do IVF. My friend had that too, she got pregnant just fine. Just try again. I’ll carry for you.”

9. You’ll change your mind – we each have our own path, allow everyone to own theirs even if it is different than yours.

“But how do you know you won’t want kids later in life? You can always just adopt later on.”

10. Point the finger and blame – this feels so damning.

“Is he shooting blanks? What’s wrong with you? Who’s fault is it? There must have been something wrong with it.”

11. Family planning – everyone has an opinion they must share or could this just be a bid for connection?

“Everyone assumes we have 3 because we stopped trying.”

“You must want a girl or aren’t you glad you didn’t have a girl?! (We have three boys and our little girl is in heaven).”

“When are you having another?”

“Be thankful for the one healthy child you have.”

“You don’t want them too far apart! (we’ve had three miscarriages after our first)”

“You should really try for a girl next time. (we have two boys; we have lost three female babies).”

“Shouldn’t you just be happy with the two you have.”

“You don’t want to be too old.”

“Was she an accident? (she is five years younger than her brothers).”

Before I move on to writing about questions 2 and 3, I will let these settle in some.

Are we all just being too sensitive?

Perhaps.

But as someone who has struggled to do the very thing that many of us believe we were put on earth to do, be a parent, these questions and statements cut like a knife.

They hurt.

They invalidate the painful journey we have been on.

They minimize the paths before us.

And, even though I sincerely believe they come from love (and curiosity), I also know they come from ignorance and comparison.

So for now, think before you speak and watch your tone, you honestly have no idea what the person on the other side of your words has gone through; the pain they have suffered, the losses they have endured and the struggles of their daily lives.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”—Rev. John Watson

“Including you.”—Glennon Melton

Don’t make your words added pain.

And, in part 2 I will share how people respond to these questions and statements. But, mostly I will focus on what we all really want and need to hear instead.

Compassion. Empathy. Hope.

Ever upward.


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It’s Infertility Support Friday.  What’s on your mind today?  I’ll be glad to answer your questions about surviving the infertility journey.

Infertility Support Friday2


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