3 Tips for Staying Together While Navigating Infertility

By Amanda Hofbauer MA, AMFT

Infertility can wreak havoc on a relationship. Trying to get pregnant may begin as an exciting journey to bring a new life into the world together, but it can quickly become a steep climb filled with painful procedures, blame, shame, difficult decisions, and financial burdens. At some point you may look over and no longer recognize your climbing partner.
Here are 3 tips for maintaining your relationship with your partner while you climb:
1. Acknowledge your losses: The path of infertility is fraught with loss and grief in many forms. Disenfranchised grief happens when we experience a loss that is not socially recognized. For instance, there are not funerals for miscarried babies or sympathy cards for unsuccessful IVF attempts. Not only are these losses not formally recognized, they are often not even spoken. Couples suffer silently, often without the support of their friends and family. Anticipatory grief happens when we begin to grieve the seemingly impending loss. We begin to think we will never have a biological baby, and we start to grieve in preparation for that loss.
Take time to acknowledge these losses as a couple. Share your grief with your
partner (even if your experiences of grief are different) and find ways to mourn
together. This may mean creating your own ritual to mark a loss.
2. Act as a team: Don’t let infertility become one person’s problem or responsibility.
Share the logistical burdens like scheduling appointments as much as possible. Go
to appointments together whenever you can, even if the appointment is only
medically “for” one of you. Try to be together when you receive results of tests or
procedures – even if it’s through a conference call – so that one person doesn’t have
to be the bearer of heavy news. Be curious about your partner’s experiences that
may differ from yours, such as how it felt to go through a certain medical procedure
or what kind of emotions they are experiencing each step of the way.
3. Create infertility-free spaces: Infertility can easily engulf an entire relationship.
Go on a date night where you’re not allowed to talk about anything infertility related. Rediscover activities you used to enjoy that have fallen by the wayside since you starting dealing with infertility. Reclaim your sex life by taking a short break from baby-making sex by only having sex at times when fertilization cannot occur. Infertility does not have to define your relationship.
The climb is exhausting, unpredictable, and may or may not end with a successful pregnancy. But by prioritizing your relationship amidst the chaos, you can ensure that you will still be together when the journey ends.
 
Couples therapy can also be a helpful resource while navigating infertility. Contact me to set up an appointment and start the process today. I can be reached at amanda@relationshipreality312.com or 312-857-6270. Amanda is a Couple and Family Therapist at a private practice in downtown Chicago. She specializes in helping couples who have experienced or are currently experiencing infertility. Find out more at amandahofbauermft.com.
 Resources: Diamond, R., Kezur, D., Meyers, M., Scharf, C., & Weinshel, M. (1999). Couple therapy for infertility. New York, NY:
The Guilford Press.; Humphrey, K. (2009). Counseling strategies for loss and grief. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.

Living in the Present: It is so difficult because all I can think about is EVERYTHING else!

By Melissa Hinshaw

Living in the present is no easy task, especially when what we want so badly is in the future. Whether it’s having a baby, buying a house, losing ten pounds, or landing a new job it often feels like life is in front us. It lies in the future. On the same token, we miss the present when we ponder and beat ourselves up for decisions or mistakes we have made in the past. How much time do you spend replaying a decision with, “I should have, why did I, I can’t believe I…” So what does that say about today, the now, the present moment? The present and who we are in the moment are lost.

What does it mean to live in the present moment and why is it important? To live in the present moment your awareness is centered on the here and now. There is no worrying about what comes in the future or obsessing over the past. You are living as life is happening around you and in you. Being present or mindful has many benefits that you may not know about. Being mindful can make a relationship more meaningful and intimate. When you are truly listening to someone (being truly present while they speak), not thinking of what you’ll say or do next or why you shouldn’t have spent that money yesterday, you connect. When you are present with someone you are listening, making eye contact and sensing physical clues. All these things increase intimacy. Living in the moment can have an effect on your emotional well-being. When you live in the present you are experiencing life as complete. Life is more satisfying and therefore you can be more peaceful and ultimately happier. Does worrying about what’s happening in three days make you feel good or satisfied? No. It takes an emotional tow on your mind and your body. When you live in the moment you may find yourself doing things in a smarter way without any effort. If you are being mindful you would take a dirty dish and put it into the dish washer or wash it immediately and put it away instead of tossing it in the sink with lots of other dirty dishes. Both take about the same amount of effort but one creates a life of tidiness. It’s done so no worrying about when you will be doing it and no knocking yourself in the future for leaving a big mess. Being present can help you become better at sex. Not obsessing over body image, the towels on the floor, or how badly you want a raise, keeps your mind focused on the real physical and emotional sensations that go along with great sex, and that is truly sexy. Being present when you eat can actually make your food taste better. Honing in on the flavors and textures and the fabulous smells is something most of don’t do on a regular basis. Think about this next time you sit down to dinner. Be there. Smell and taste and savor your meal. It is a completely different experience than simply eating for eating sake.

Becoming mindful will take some practice. You’ll need to become aware in all that you do. You will need to let the worry voice take a vacation and the regretful voice retire. You will notice what triggers both voices and just the noticing part alone will take you closer to living in the moment. Breath. When your mind winds up in some non-present direction take a deep breath. Remind yourself of the another way to be.

I think Buddha says it just beautifully…

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”

Get started by trying with one of our FREE events or try yoga !

The Egg Freezing Solution

There has never been a better time to be a woman. In the age of the #MeToo movement, more promising women in leadership roles, and the modern day revolution for women empowerment has provided options for women that in previous generations never dreamed possible. For many, the idea of freezing one’s eggs for use at a later time is growing from unthinkable option to a remarkable thing to do for one’s self. Egg freezing improvements and technology provides women with options that did not exist for their mothers and grandmothers.

The egg freezing solution pauses the biological clock for women and has gained in popularity, with major organizations and companies providing as part of their employment package. The egg freezing procedure is becoming more affordable with new startup companies like Future Family or Nest Egg Fertility providing fertility-focused assistance to address how patients can afford the treatments. However, it is still a big decision so let’s break down the advantages of freezing eggs.

FACT: Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have in their lifetime. From around one million at birth, that number decreases to 300,000 around the age puberty begins. The number of eggs each woman has decreases as she ages and significantly drops around 35 years old for the average woman.

SOLUTION: Egg freezing can collect and save eggs from a women’s cycle that would otherwise be lost and freeze them in time to preserve her biological age for a greater chance of pregnancy at a later time. Eggs that are not fertilized during the ovulation cycle will dissolve and be resorbed into your body. More women will freeze their eggs in their mid to late-twenties, which is recommended by fertility specialists for optimal results. Women in early to mid-thirties are the second most common age group. Both of these age groups are better options than freezers in the past mostly in their late-30s or early-40s where pregnancy significantly declines.

FACT: There is a growing amount of women pursuing advance education and careers pushing back the timeline for women to start their families. Equally, dating methods have shifted in the social era and world of social media and swiping apps.

SOLUTION: Motivation for egg freezing can also be social in nature, such as when a woman chooses to delay pregnancy in order to advance her career or because she has not found the right partner. There is not one simple reason why women choose to freeze their eggs. Reasons for egg freezing can vary widely, including medical, social or other personal motivations. In cases in which women might freeze their eggs for fertility preservation medical reasons include a recent cancer diagnosis or a family history of cancer, endometriosis, and early menopause.

A study published in 2015 concluded that the majority of women who choose to freeze eggs in the absence of presenting medical conditions, do so because they are single and are hoping to buy time in their search for a suitable partner (Stoop et. al 2015).

FACT: Egg freezing is more complicated than freezing sperm, but has improved tremendously in recent years moving away from “slow freezing” the older way of cryopreservation to “vitrification” the newer egg freezing method approved by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) in late 2012.

SOLUTION: The published literature regarding the limitations and potential benefits of these techniques, as of 2015, there seems to be a general consensus in the scientific community that vitrification is the better of the two methods. Most IVF centers nowadays have adopted vitrification as the standard method for cryopreserving eggs, but this is a good question to ask your clinic.

To start an egg freezing process, the physicians will order a fertility wellness check. The evaluation includes a blood test for Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH test) to predict how many eggs you have left and vaginal ultrasound known as antral follicle count (AFC test) to analyze the number of possible follicles that could grow. When women become an officially an “egg freezer” they are equipped with their own little safe-deposit box of DNA until family-building fits their timeline.

The concept of egg freezing can be misconstrued in the media or portrayed as desperate act of what baby-hungry women are doing, but after interviewing over 75 women who have electively undergone egg freezing it is remarkable how similar each journey of these women actually take. There is some natural fear or anxiety associated with pre-egg freezing people considering the technology, like assuming that the entire procedure only exists to frighten women and cause undue stress about their fertility and the time they “have left” to build their family, but after each women finished their freezing procedure not a single person regrets making the choice.

Curious about egg freezing? Want to learn more? Join our #EggClub community and hear what real-life current egg freezers are saying about cryopreservation. I encourage you to visit eggsperience.com website for your girlfriend’s guide and one-stop shop for all things egg freezing. Then don’t forget to listen to the Eggology Club podcast to hear the modern day journey to parenthood of people who have used fertility preservation options as Season 2 launches Spring 2018.

ABOUT VALERIE LANDIS

Valerie Landis has been working in women’s health field for the last decade. Her medical career experiences and passion for helping women merged when she founded her educational website eggsperience.com . She focuses on guiding women of any reproductive age through the complex and challenging paths of fertility decisions. Valerie compliments the Eggsperience website by hosting a fertility podcast called Eggology Club to change the conversation around cryopreservation and egg freezing. Valerie provides non-bias and fact-based information to empower women to feel inspired, brave, and act progressively to take control of their future families and protect their fertility. She speaks openly about her own personal egg freezing experience and family planning decisions along with highlighting a collection of first-hand accounts from other women’s fertility journeys.

Learn more and keep up with Valerie Landis ’s visit her social pages @valeriedlandis | @eggsperiences | @EggologyClub and websites eggsperience.com and EggologyClub .com.

Learn more about how about holistic health options can support egg quality including supplements , acupuncture , massage , nutrition , and yoga .

Yes, You should eliminate the “shoulds” when trying to get pregnant.

Here’s how.

When we decide it is time to get pregnant, there’s no shortage of information of how to go about it. And if it takes longer than expected, or we run into a medical diagnosis that puts us into the infertility category, the list just grows.

On one hand, this can be helpful. There are lots of avenues and resources to get you to baby.

On the other hand, the list can be overwhelming, conflicting, and stressful.

Maybe you’ve been there. I know I was, and when most of my clients first come to me they have feelings of exhaustion, disappointment, and failure.

Have you found yourself saying or thinking any of these?:

  • “I am doing everything “right,” but nothing seems to be working.”
  • “It didn’t work because I ate or drank <insert “bad for fertility” food or drink here>. I feel so guilty.”
  • “I spent hours last night researching and now I’m more confused than ever.”

When we lose track of the big vision of parenthood and who we are in our pursuit to pregnancy, we begin to micromanage ourselves and our process. We start to live in a place of constant questioning and unknown. We keep doing and going and checking boxes in the hope that one of them might be the ONE thing that will unlock a successful pregnancy.

Take heart, sister. There is a better way.

You can find the combination of tactics, support, resources, and treatments that work for you. You will know when you’ve found it because it will feel empowering, not stressful. You will feel energized, not depleted. Your plan will give you hope and purpose, not leave you feeling empty.

Sound good? Here’s an exercise I do with my clients to identify which aspects of their fertility plans truly help them – and which ones they are doing simply because they feel they “should.”

You will need a pen, at least 3 sheets of paper, and a highlighter, marker, or pen with a different ink color than your main writing tool. (If you’d like a template, download it here .)

(1) Write it all down:

On your first sheet of paper, make a list of everything you are doing, have tried, or are considering trying to do to conceive. Be very honest with yourself about the true purpose or intent behind all of your actions. If there’s a little bit of you that thinks/hopes/prays that a particular action will help you become pregnant – write it down. It counts.

Score each of the items on your list (scale of 1 – 10) on how empowered, energized, and hopeful it makes you feel.

(2) Identify your mama values:

Imagine yourself as a mother. What lessons do you most want to teach your child? What values do you hope to share? What do you need in order to become her? Not just the physical parts, but the emotional and spiritual needs, too. In a separate list, write down a few words that describe the mother you want to be.

(3) Categorize:

Create a chart with three columns: Mind, Body, Heart. Categorize all of your activities from your first list according to which element they fill up for you. You can have activities that fit into more than one column.

Next, review the list of words or values describing the mother you wish to be. Circle the activities that most help you fulfill this wish.

(4) Evaluate:

Look at each column. Which seem off balance? What might you be able to put down or pick up in order to bring more eveness to the three elements: Mind, Body, Heart (or Spirit)?

Then, review where your highest scoring tasks fall. If you add up the scores in each column, are they roughly the same? Do you have a column that is low? High? Do you have several low scoring tasks or a few really high ones? What do you make of this?

How many activities are circled, indicating they align with your values for motherhood? How can those be enhanced or prioritized?

(5) Make a plan:

Based on your evaluation, which new way of looking at your plan makes the most sense for you – aiming for balance between mind/body/heart; by “score” of which make you feel most empowered and hopeful; or alignment with your motherhood values? Perhaps they all line up similarly to paint a clear picture. If not, that’s ok. Choose the organization method that seems most appealing and comfortable for right now.

Identify 1 – 2 adjustments you can make right now that will help shift your plan into the new alignment. Commit to them for a short period of time (1 – 2 weeks is great). Resist the urge to change more than a couple of things right away.

6) Revisit and adjust as needed:

Keep your lists and check in with yourself at the end of your trial period to see how you’re feeling. Go through your new list and give yourself a score between 1 – 10 of how empowered, energized, and hopeful you feel because of each activity in your plan. Compare your new score to the scores you gave yourself at the beginning of the exercise. How have things changed?

If you aren’t yet feeling more energized, hopeful, or in control, review your chart again and see what else can be tweaked. If you chose one organization method – balance, values, or score, consider looking at your chart from a different one. Ask yourself if you are holding on to some “shoulds”. How can you let them go?

This may be an ongoing exercise, but if you stick with it and stay true to what is really serving you, it will help make your path easier. If you feel stuck, ask a partner, friend, coach, or practitioner for their input.

Yes, infertility is stressful. Yes, you can do many, many, things to improve your fertility and reduce stress. I encourage you to consciously evaluate all you are doing. Give yourself the gift of a plan that empowers, energizes, and fills you with hope.

Erin McDaniel is a six-time IVF “survivor” and now mom to two boys. As a fertility coach, she helps women improve their fertility process by identifying and reducing stress points, creating balanced fertility plans, and implementing positive mindset strategies. To learn more, visit MyFertilityCoach.com .

Get proven strategies to improve your fertility journey with the Fresh Start Program from My Fertility Coach. An 8-week course, the Fresh Start Program focuses on key aspects of your fertility experience with group discussion and support to transform your family building experience. The group dynamic will connect you with women in a similar situation and give you the opportunity to build relationships, camaraderie, and support. Pulling Down the Moon readers get $30 off enrollment; use offer code PDTM30. Learn more and apply to join here. https://myfertilitycoach.co m/fresh-start

Is Prenatal Yoga Right for You?

by Kellie Greene, RYT

I recently attended a presentation where the speaker said that “infertility treatments are a full-time job”. She went on to elaborate about the doctors appointments, injections, daily lab draws, ultrasounds, testing, and then with integrated holistic care you may also have acupuncture, massage, and nutritional therapy on top of that. You may feel overwhelmed and over-scheduled thinking, “How can I possibly add another thing–and is it really worth it?”

Whether you have struggled with infertility and loss to get here or found us after getting your positive test, attending a prenatal yoga class can seem like a luxury. Below I will outline 5 ways prenatal yoga can benefit your pregnancy, as well as birth, and outline what you may expect from a class at PDtM.

1. A sense of community.

Outside of your care providers office, and maybe a childbirth education class there isn’t a lot of opportunities to meet a room full of pregnant women who are pregnant at the same time. With ObGYN care protocols and products changing so quickly it can feel comforting to be around other women who are pregnant at the same time. Being with other parents who have experienced loss or struggled with fertility concerns can help with what can sometimes be a lonely path feel not so isolating.

2. Ease physical discomforts of pregnancy.

Between gaining 15-45 pounds in nine months, your organs being displaced by a rapidly growing uterus, your pelvis widening and expanding, and cartilage in your body softening ( just to name a few pregnancy changes) you are bound to feel some physical discomforts. Prenatal yoga is a gentle and safe way to ease discomfort, and learn strategies that can make your pregnancy more comfortable. Prenatal yoga has been shown to help nausea, decrease pelvic and low back pain, help ease carpal tunnel, headaches, and shortness of breath.

3. Build the connection to baby.

Women who have experienced a pregnancy loss, or used fertility treatment often report difficulty feeling connected to the pregnancy/baby. With guided meditation practices, and visualization parents can feel more connected to the baby, and the pregnancy.

4. Improve sleep

Disruptions in sleep affect every parent to be at some point in the pregnancy. Finding ways to relax, self soothe, and calm down can help. The Mayo clinic even cites improvement in sleep as one of the benefits to prenatal yoga.

5. Prepare for birth

Regardless of your birth choices prenatal yoga can prepare you to labor more comfortably, push more effectively, and recover more easily, and quickly. The breathing techniques, and upright positions can help if you are desiring an unmedicated birth. The strengthening and pelivic floor poses can be beneficial for both a surgical or vaginal birth.

Regardless of why you are choosing to attend a prenatal yoga class, odds are you will likely leave feeling physically, and mentally better. Please join us for the next drop-in class on Wednesday, May 16th at 6pm and/or the next session of the Prenatal Yoga Series beginning on Saturday, May 19th at 10:30am in Chicago . Questions? Let us help at: 312-321-0004.

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