Tag Archives: ICSI

Lefty or Righty

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Pic via seltzergoods.com

With infertility sometimes you don’t know what direction you’re going in and/or you’re being pulled in a million different directions. You don’t know which way to turn, left or right.

Lately, I’ve been connecting with so many women on social media who are courageous enough to share their infertility. Sometimes reading these makes me feel guilty because so many journeys are longer and harder than ours. That’s when I had an “aha” moment about our particular story and began to look at it through a different lense.

Now stick with me, but I’m visualizing a successful pregnancy/IVF/IUI as the middle ground. To the left is the journey to get there and to the right is the point past the initial positive test result or completion of IVF or IUI.

For all of us, the IUI or IVF is relatively the same-a conglomerate of injections, bloodwork, procedures, monitoring, doctors appointments, and waiting. Some might get more side effects. Some might suffer from Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHHS). Your trigger shot or protocol may differ.  Yet, they all remotely resemble one another.

Our struggles, however, tend to vary greatly. Even if two women are suffering from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) their journeys could look drastically different. Many of us infertility warriors struggle with infertility to the “left” or before we get to the point of IUI/IVF/conceiving some way; while others find their difficulty after, either with failed cycles, chemical pregnancies, miscarriages, etc.

In our case, obviously, the bulk of our infertility fight took place to the left.  Us “lefties” might have to endure months, even years, of struggle to get to the point where IUI and IVF are even a possibility.  For example, my husband needed to remain on medication for almost two years before IVF was in the cards and, even then [right up to his TESE procedure and my egg retrieval] we didn’t know if we’d make it to the point of having viable sperm for fertilization.  Our extreme highs and extreme lows came before the initial BFP.  The waiting and longing, tears and angst occurred prior to our IVF cycle.   However the culmination of our struggle was the point in which our little Mikie “stuck” and , thanks be to God, stayed.  The IVF and entire pregnancy were smooth sailing for us and as some might say, we were finally on the other side of infertility.

“Righties” have a different experience.  They might get diagnosed with infertility and move forward with an IUI or IVF cycle within a couple of months.  It all might seem like a blink of the eye, and before they know it they are Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise [PUPO].  That is, until the otherwise comes.  Maybe the cycle failed.  Maybe their beta confirms a positive pregnancy, but there’s no heartbeat at the 6 or 8-week ultrasound.  Maybe this keeps happening time after time after time.  Just like “lefties”, it’s not the injections and procedures that are the most painful for “righties”. It’s the roller coaster of emotions that’s associated with the ecstasy of hearing “You’re pregnant,” only to hear “I’m sorry for your loss.”

As a “lefty”, I cannot fathom the heartache that failed cycles and miscarriages must incur.  It makes me feel so fortunate, and almost embarrassed in some respect, to ‘wallow’ in my struggle.

What I’m trying to get to is the realization that infertility is not a battle.  Whatever your story is, first time success or multiple failed attempts, months or years, “lefty” or “righty” is really irregardless.  Infertility is a struggle and the struggle is real.

While all of our circumstances and experiences differ, “lefties” and “righties” are still one in the same.  We all cringe at the thought of hearing another pregnancy announcement.  We all “trick” ourselves into believing we’re pregnant, even when it’s nearly impossible.  We all yearn to rest a newborn on our chest and hear a little voice coo “Mama” for the first time.  We all could write a book on trying to conceive and could pass a phlebotomist test with flying colors.  We all cry and we all pick ourselves back up, with a little help along the way.  We all have the same common goal: to carry, love, and raise a child of our own.

When 3 Become 1 and 1 Makes 3


Sounds like some mathematics problem, eh? Math is not my thang by any means, but when it came to fertility, probability mattered. By the point of transfer, I think we were both in so much shock that we actually made it that far, that the thought of three embryos didn’t even phase us. To boot, Dr. Lavy and his staff had gotten us that far that we weren’t going to doubt his recommendations then…or ever.

Recently, I have seen a lot of posts regarding transferring one or two embryos and I have received some outreach on the matter as well. The truth is it all comes down to numberscircumstancenumbers~ well I guess both.  In the end your circumstance relates to your numbers, right?  If you have 11 frosties (frozen embryo babies)  then chances are your doctor is going to suggest transferring one.  If you’re on your third round of IVF, with only a handful of embryos left to spare, they’ll probably recommend using two.  If you’re us, everyone’s so dumbfounded how you even have embryos they say screw it, transfer them all.  Just kidding…sort of.  I mean our circumstances and our numbers were grim.  At the day of transfer we had 3 embryos quality enough to use.  Basically there was nothing left and it was a miracle in and of itself that we had gotten the two handfuls or so of sperm to even attempt IVF with ICSI at all.  Moreso, we were open, maybe even hopeful, to the idea of having twins.

While I had envisioned transferring 2 embryos on a day 5 transfer, that was not the case.  See, I couldn’t help myself.  I was still planning it all out.  Getting the call that we would be doing a day 3 transfer threw me off more than the idea of transferring three embryos.  Strange, right?  But as the doctor sat in front of us, scribbling as he usually did, he flat out said, “You won’t be having triplets.”  He knew our circumstances.  His recommendation was transferring three to get two or even just that “one”-it was the best probability.

That “one”.  If only you could see him morning, noon, and night like I do.  He is something special.  My husband has recently been joking that he thinks the doctor added a little something to the embryo because being this cute and perfect couldn’t possibly be from just us.  He amazes me each day as he combines words and “talks” about things we did the days before.  He’s loving and affectionate, wild and sassy all- in-one.  As his second birthday approaches, he’s a combination of that little infant that relied on me for everything and this autonomy-aspiring, mini spitfire who says “No, mommy” when I try to help him from tipping over the cereal bowl.  He’s our “one” that was chosen just for us to protect, teach, raise, and adore.  He’s the “one” who made us a family.

So as we dabble with the notion of turning 3 into 4, I get a lot of questions about if we try for another, will we have to do IVF again.  Yes, we most certainly will and more likely than not my husband will have to have the TESE surgery again as well.  We are not that infertile couple that had to do IVF the first time and then, as fate should have it, wound up pregnant naturally the second time.  I sometimes envision it, but then am reminded of the circumstance.  What’s the probability of getting this lucky twice?!

The Waiting Place

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Last week, I was reading Dr. Seuss’s “Oh The Places You’ll Go” for the umpteenth time when it came to me. As I read the words, “…headed, I fear, towards a most useless place. The Waiting Place…” I couldn’t help but think of all the waiting involved in infertility. For me, the chronic waiting, was one of, if not the hardest part of our battle with infertility.

Waiting for a doctor’s appointment. Waiting for bloodwork results. Waiting for AF to come and waiting for AF to stop coming. Waiting for positive OPK’s and then waiting for Big Fat Positives (BFP’s). Waiting for answers. Waiting for insurance approvals and waiting for meds to arrive. Waiting to start your first injection and waiting for your first monitoring appointment. Waiting for meds to work. Waiting for good news, bad news, any news. Waiting to trigger and waiting for retrieval day. Waiting for an embie update. Waiting for transfer day and implantation. Waiting for Beta Day after the most dreadful wait…dun dun dun…the two week wait (TWW).

It’s hard to do anything or think of anything else when you’re in the waiting place.  It’s like being in limbo, unsure of your fate.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again~ if it were guaranteed that after all the waiting, you’d receive your greatest gift, then it wouldn’t be so bad.  However, unfortunately, that’s not how it often works.  Sometimes there’s more waiting.

Waiting for the go-ahead to start another cycle.  Waiting to save more money.  Waiting to hear a heartbeat that may or may not come.  Waiting to make it to the safe zone or waiting to get your rainbow baby.

It can be a most useless place for sure.  I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t get sucked into the uselessness of The Waiting Place.  Unfortunately, when you have nothing left to do but wait, your mind doesn’t stop.  You replay scenario after scenario~the good, the bad, the ugly.  You read, Google, cry, Google and have a hard time thinking of anything else when you’re in The Waiting Place.  All that can wear you down and cause you to fall in a slump…and “un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”

It wasn’t until our TWW when I finally realized that this could be my final Waiting Place and that it didn’t always need to be a useless place.  My husband and I made a pact to avoid googling and not take a single pregnancy test before Beta.  It wasn’t an easy feat by any means, but I’d recommend it to any of you in or approaching your TWW.  It wasn’t until then that I realized the waiting period could actually be used in a productive way too.

Afterall, it is also in the waiting place that you’re getting one step closer.  It’s a time to reflect and a time to breathe again.  It can be a time to try new things and cross some items off your bucket list.  It can be a time to reconnect and refocus on what matters most. It’s a time that will eventually shape you into the parent you’ll become because during that waiting you’ll learn a lot.  You’ll learn about patience and perseverance which will make you a better mother.  You’ll learn about yourself and your partner and most of all, life.  Because life is not always easy and “bang-ups and hang-ups will happen to you.”

So try as much as you can to make The Waiting Place as useful as possible.  When you’re finding that difficult, as you often will, look here for support and always remember:

“Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying, You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing.”

Once you survive The Waiting Place that is infertility…

“Kid, you’ll move mountains.”

How to Hurt an Infertile Couple in 10 Ways

imageRemember that awesome Kate Hudson chick flick, How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days?! This is your guide to not turning off an infertile couple by avoiding doing/saying at least these ten things. Now most of my readers know me, so as you’re reading this I know what you’re thinking.  Oh My God! Did I say that to her? Is she referring to me? No, no, no. In fact, I’ve probably said or done some of these things on the list myself. It is just that part of discussing infertility is promoting awareness, so people know how to avoid what can be hurtful and what to say to offer support.

1. “Just relax…it’ll happen when you stop trying.”

This may have been the case for 1 in 235,578,428 couples, but for us there’s zero sperm so I can’t relax. If you’re offering, I’ll take the bottle of wine, but you can keep the advice.

Really advice is not something that the infertile couple is looking for unless it’s coming from a doctor or another couple who struggled with infertility. Instead offering support by saying something like “I don’t know much about infertility, but I’m here if you ever want to talk about it” (over wine of course) would be the most comforting.

2. “My husband just looks at me and I get pregnant.”

That’s great for you Mrs. Fertile Myrtle and Mr. Super Sperm, but comments like that make us feel less female and male. It makes us feel inadequate and disappointed in ourselves.

I know it’s life that some things come easier for others, but be sensitive to those who might be having a tougher go at it. Saying something along the lines of “That wasn’t our experience. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to have to wait to get pregnant when you want it so badly” would be nice to hear.

3. “Have you gone to the doctor?”

Jeez…no, I have a masters and sixth year degree, but I didn’t think of that. Seriously, countless people asked me that and while I’m sure it was just par for the course, there’s a better way. You could gently ask, “Where are you in your infertility journey, if you don’t mind me asking?” Chances are most couples won’t mind and if they’re saying they’re infertile, chances are even greater that they’ve been to the doctor’s.

4. “Why don’t you do that turkey baster thing or Petri dish thing?”

I’m exaggerating now. Most people don’t use those terms, but the truth is most people have a vague sense of what IUI and IVF are. They assume that’s the cure-all. For us, IVF wasn’t even an option for over a year and a half, as is the case for many couples. Even then, IUI and IVF cycles may not work the first time, so the couple may have attempted interventions already without success.

Really the best thing to support an infertile couple would be reading up on IUI and IVF to get a brief sense of what they are. All it takes is a quick Google search. That way when your friend or family member would like to chat about their upcoming cycle you could understand better what they’re going through.

5.  “Why don’t you just adopt?”

Adoption is one of the greatest and most selfless things someone can do for a child.  While it is also an amazing option, especially for an infertile couple, it may not be the avenue they’re pursuing (at least at this point in time).

Adoption also comes with lots of emotional and financial turmoil and is not a simple process.  Just like with IVF, to assume adoption nullifies infertility is ignorant.  People who think this is the “cure” for infertility aren’t acknowledging all the facets.

Its easy to say “Why don’t you…?” when you’re not in that position.  So ask yourself what you would do if you were infertile.  To what end would you go to?  Would you exhaust all options before adopting?  Would you spend your life’s savings on fertility treatments? More likely than not, you’re probably saying I don’t know.

6.  “Who’s problem is it?”

This is a really personal question, but I’m sure if you talk to an infertile couple, they’ve heard it more than once.  Usually people ask because they might have known another woman or man with a similar experience.  However, this is really up to the couple themselves to divulge if they so choose.  Furthermore, whether it is the female or male with the infertility issue, it really doesn’t matter.  In the end, both of them are in pain and struggling.

I remember asking my husband what he wanted our blanket statement to be in the beginning.  As time went on, he became more open about the major issue for us being male factor.  In my opinion, it’d be best to stay clear of any question of this sort.  If the couple feels comfortable enough, they’ll tell you.

7.  Ignoring It

When you’ve been married for a certain amount of time or when you hit a certain age, babies and pregnancy tend to come up in conversations.  When you’re the infertile couple and these topics come up, you feel like crawling in a hole.  Either the conversation comes to an awkward halt when someone realizes you’re at the table or you discreetly dip out to the ladie’s room (or to do a shot of Fireball) as fast as you can say IVF.

Other times, it can feel like there’s an elephant in the room that everyone is avoiding.  Sometimes it may not even be the case, just your own over sensitivity about the situation.

There were many times, when I wished someone would’ve just acknowledged it, rather than avoiding it.  I didn’t want to have a pity party so I wouldn’t be the one to just start the discussion about our struggles.  However, if someone asked, I was full-disclosure and it felt good-really good  actually to get it out there on the table.  It would also open up the opportunity on subsequent occasions for friends and family to ask about our last appointment or what step we were at in our journey.

I’m sure it’s just as uncomfortable for ‘outsiders’ as it is for the infertile couple themselves.  But there’s a delicate way in which a couple’s infertility can be acknowledged, but, yet, not define them.  Sensitive sentiments, such as “I know you had said you started trying in June.  Is everything going okay?” would be a nice way to ease into the dialogue.  If a couple is not ready to disclose any information, you can catch the drift.

Infertility is an invisible hurt.  So when it goes left unsaid, it can sometimes worsen the wound.

8.  Dismissing the Possibility of Prengancy

For me, it got to the point where I felt as if people had even dismissed the notion of me becoming pregnant as a real possibility.   This may or may not have been the case.  Again, it may very well have been my own hypersensitivity.  It usually wasn’t even something someone said.  It was more often an uncensored look, as if I caught them off-guard by saying my name and pregnancy in the same sentence.

These types of instances usually occurred with people who were obviously very familiar with our infertility and therefore in our close circle.  They’d present themselves at times when I would say “Well I might be pregnant then, so…”

It’s hard enough not to give up on yourselves when you’re faced with significant issues trying-to-conceive.  Then to see others uncertain of your destiny can be even more discouraging.  Try to stay positive for the infertile couple.  Even just your sense of hope can be enough to get them in the right mindset.

9.  Complaining About Being Pregnant

I’m sorry, but it can’t be left unsaid.  I know that kankles, back pain and sleepless nights associated with pregnancy aren’t always a joyride.  And of course a right of passage of being pregnant is being able to whine enough that you “earn” yourself a foot rub or carton of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream…or both.  But as a woman sitting there yearning for nothing more than to not be able to see her own feet, complaints about the sheer miracle of being able to grow another life are painful.  They’re equivalent to being punched in the stomach…again, and again, and again.

Go on and complain to those who have been there, but be cogniscente of your “audience”.  If there’s a woman struggling to get pregnant, wait until later.  Better yet, let her presence remind you of the blessing it is to be able to conceive and carry a child.

The women who struggle and still complain about pregnancy leave me baffled.

10.  “We had issues with our first-it took us like four months to get pregnant.”

Comparing your typical trying-to-conceive timeline with someone who actually is diagnosed with infertility is inconsiderate.  First, get your facts straight.  Only about 60% of couples TTC actually get pregnant within the first three months.  It takes many six months and after a year it can be defined as infertility.

To be honest, at times I’m hesitant to discuss my struggle when there are so many couples who endure years and years of infertility and don’t even end up with the outcome I’ve been given.  There are so many women who’ve undergone cycles upon cycles, who have seen positive pregnancy tests only to see lost heartbeats.

While people try to show empathy in different ways, saying you know what an infertile couple has gone through when you conceived  within the average time frame can undermine what infertility truly entails.  It can be hurtful and downright engraging.  Every infertility journey is different from diagnosis to treatment to outcome.  Trying to compare struggles is pointless; trying to offer support by saying “I remember how stressful having my first was without any infertility issues.  I cannot fathom what you must be feeling.” would be priceless.

 

It Takes A Village

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They say it takes a village to raise a child and while that is true, in the realm of infertility it also takes a village to get you that child. Lately, I have been receiving more and more local outreach, which I am so extremely pleased by. Afterall, providing local support was why I created this blog in the first place. So I thought I’d share our “village” with you since word of mouth is the best advertisement.

1.  Women’s Health Associates, LLC New Haven & North Branford, CT 👉🏻 http://www.wha-newhaven.com/home.php (FYI: website is under construction, but you can at least find their contact information)

In prior posts, I’ve discussed how phenomenal this midwife group is.  They’re just that good that I can’t help but reiterate it time and time again.  My OBGYN group consists of four fabulous midwives, one of whom, Debbie Cibelli, actually delivered me almost 32 years ago!  Given that she basically watched me grow up, she was very familiar with my case history and therefore was proactive in determining the cause of my irregular menstural cycles.  Not only did I appreciate that and all the time saved, but she was also quick to refer us to a fertility specialist.

Some of you may be thinking midwife group~sounds a little earth crunchy and must mean no drugs.  While they do specialize in natural deliveries, I loved their openness to whatever option was most comfortable for each individual patient.  I ended up going completely drug-free but went in with a flexible mindset (AKA whatever I need to get this baby out of me!!!).  They’re ability to naturally make the pain bearable was what helped me through.   They also have great success rates in VBAC’s (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) if that’s something you’re interested in.

Throughout my trying-to-conceive (TTC) journey, pregnancy, birth, post-partum and everywhere in between, these ladies were amazing; not just the midwives, too.  The administrative assistants and nurses go above and beyond as well.  While TTC and during my pregnancy, I had the pleasure of being seen by all four midwives and have nothing but positive things to say.

Of course, Laura Sundstrum, holds a special place in my heart because she delivered my miracle baby boy.  Please, please, please take the time to read Mikie’s birth story if you haven’t yet. 💞  http://onprayersandneedles.org/2016/03/the-birth-story-of-miracle-mikie/

Just like love stories, every birth story is beautiful, but yours is my favorite, Mikie! Plus, you always hear the horror stories so it’s nice to hear a positive one once in awhile!

If that doesn’t convince you, then this will…Not too long ago I was talking to a labor and delivery nurse from Yale.  I was saying how my husband and I were in awe of the labor/delivery and maternity floor nurses and staff after our experience.  She asked who my OBGYN is and when I said Women’s Health Associates, she immediately said, “When the time comes for me to have a baby, I am definitely going to them.”  If that’s not saying they’re the best at what they do, than I don’t know what is!

2.  Yale Urology Center New Haven, CT 👉🏻 http://medicine.yale.edu/urology/

If you take nothing else away from this blog, know that a urologist specializing in male factor infertility IS your Fertility God if the issue is with your husband/boyfriend/fiancé.  Which also leads me to something I’d like to emphasize:  infertility is not always a female “problem”.  In fact, male factor infertility makes up approximately 30% of all infertility cases.

I digress and get back to our Fertility God, Dr. Stanton Honig 👉🏻   http://medicine.yale.edu/urology/doctors/stanton_honig.profile Check him out!  Literally his accreditation and accolades are never- ending.  I remember, when we first received our diagnosis from my OBGYN, no matter what I googled along the lines of top doctor for azoospermia in CT, Dr. Honig kept popping up.

What I personally liked best about Dr. Honig was that he was always positive about the outcome, but realistic about how we would get there.  He set out a timeline and stuck to it almost meticulously.  He was direct, but sensitive to the situation, professional, but humorous in a way that made everything seem less awkward.  The moment I realized how vested he is in his profession, was after my husband’s TESE surgery, maybe 5 minutes into the car ride, he called with the unbelievable news that he had found some viable sperm.  You could tell by his tone of voice that he was genuinely ecstatic for us.

If you’re dealing with male factor infertility and are in CT, you MUST heed my advice and schedule an appointment.  Note, he is in high demand and appointments book pretty far out.

3.  New England Fertility Stamford, Danbury, and Hamden, CT 👉🏻👉🏻👉🏻 http://www.nefertility.com/  

My previous post titled Name or Number http://onprayersandneedles.org/2016/04/name-or-number/ goes into detail about the professionalism and compassion of Dr. Gad Lavy and his staff.   Aside from being able to build a personal relationship with the nurses, I loved how Dr. Lavy explained our infertility scenario.  He really broke it down, usually with some type of drawing or diagram.  I’m a visual learner so I found that to be uber helpful.

In addition, they offer a patient portal  so that your results are literally at your fingertips day or night.   Even though, Dr. Lavy, nurses Jen and Susan, and the rest of the staff see countless couples struggling with infertility, they were not at all de-sensitized to the situation (which I find can often be the case).  Being able to rely on them really relieved some of the stress.  We would always leave our appointments feeling more upbeat than when we had come in,

If you are concerned that you may have infertility issues, New England Fertility often holds free fertility testing and seminars.  Check them out on Facebook to get more information, if this is something you’re interested in.

I believe, wholeheartedly, that had we chosen another fertility group we may have not gotten the results we did the first time around or at all.  Another pro for all of my Male Infertility Warriors, Dr. Lavy and Dr. Honig are buddies so they make a great team.

4.  Craig Kelly & Jackie Kos of Kos Chiropractic North Branford, CT No website available, but you can like and follow them on Facebook  to get more information 👉🏻 https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kos-Chiropractic/183543721708117?fref=ts

I’m actually embarrassed to say that I never got the chance to go and thank Jackie and Craig for all they did to make my IVF cycle a success…the first time!  So hopefully, at least in part, this can be a way to say thank you!

My work wife at the time, who also happens to be a close friend, was literally my therapist throughout my infertility struggle.  She was always a big fan of acupuncture.  Literally, if you told her you needed to quit eating donuts, she’d say, “Why don’t you try acupuncture?”  So after the millionth time of her saying, “I really think you should try acupuncture…I have a great guy,”  I made an appointment.

Both Craig and Jackie were experienced in infertility treatments.  They were very informed and the practice was welcoming.  The waiting room was always jam packed, too, which is always a good sign.  You can read my post, My IVF Tips http://onprayersandneedles.org/2016/04/my-ivf-tips/  Let’s just say, next time we go for an IVF cycle, I will definitely be there.  In fact, maybe I should start now to have some relaxing me-time,

The next two are recommendations for during pregnancy.  I know you’re not there yet and may very well feel like you’ll never get there.  But you will and when you do, I can’t recommend them enough.  They were part of our “village” in a way, too ,so I couldn’t not include them on the list.

5.  Raven’s Wing Yoga Branford, CT  👉🏻👉🏻👉🏻                                                                     http://ravenswingyoga.com/ 

Again, a little on the earth-crunchy side (which of course there is nothing wrong with) but may not appeal to the masses.  Let me tell you though, infertility or not, every pregnant woman should at least give prenatal yoga a shot.

In the beginning, I, like most I’d presume, felt clumsy and foolish trying to hit some of those poses with an ever-growing belly.  However, when it came to strategies for relieving the aches and pains associated with pregnancy, these stretches and techniques were spot-on; more like miracle cures.

I looked forward to my weekly hour of relaxation on Wednesday nights.  After leaving class, I always felt lighter and re-energized.  The real testament to what I learned in prenatal yoga was my natural childbirth.  The knowledgable and experienced instructors taught me how to breathe into the pain and I used these breathing techniques during labor.  They actually worked wonders. Prenatal yoga at Raven’s Wing is a pregnancy must-do as far as I am concerned.

6.  Childbirth and Parenting Education of Greater New Haven 👉🏻 East Haven, CT http://www.childbirtheducationgnh.org/

Again, this does not only pertain to the couple who has overcome infertility.  This is a call to ALL EXPECTANT COUPLES reading and please share.  Even if you’re not in the New Haven area, you really should look into attending.  Honestly, if you’re literally within a 50 mile radius and you don’t take advantage of this course, it would be your first parenting mistake-I swear!

First off, Louise Ward, RNC, MSN, who is part of the Labor and Birth Team at Yale-New Haven Hospital is as hilarious as she is skilled.  My husband says that if she was his teacher in school, he’d be a molecular engineer; I’ve “diagnosed” him with ADD, so the fact that he was able to sit and attend to the two and a half hour sessions once weekly for five-weeks speaks volumes.  We learned more in this course than I could’ve ever imagined, even if I had read 100 books.  Classes were entertaining, informative, and interactive.

Louise was one of my greatest tools during my actual labor and delivery.  She wasn’t there physically, but literally, I could hear her voice playing over in my head.  She provided me with so much valuable instruction that I knew what to expect as I entered active labor, then transitioned.  Her guidance was also another key factor in my ability to endure childbirth sans medication.

Aside from learning all there is that you need to know about childbirth, we took away a lot of other valuable information about the benefits of baby-wearing, dealing with “baby blues”, and infant care.  We opted for the five-week childbirth classes (which also included a tour at Yale-New Haven Hospital) and the Infant CPR class.  They also offer a variety of other classes, such as breastfeeding  and car seat safety.

If you are in the local CT area and have been following, please share with others, especially on social media.  Also, this is just my “village”.  If you had your own “village” that you’d refer someone to, please comment below~I’d love to hear your recommendations!  Most importantly, please if you or someone you know is struggling with infertility, please contact me so I can become part of your “village” to making a baby.

You can contact me on Facebook & Instagram @OnPrayersandNeedles or via e-mail @ onprayersandneedles@gmail.com

DISCLAIMER:  This is in no way, shape, or form a sponsored post and all opinions are 100% mine!

#startasking

imageI am thrilled to be part of Miss.Conceptioncoach’s Bloggers Unite Conference this year in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week and humbled to have been included with such an esteemed group of women. This year’s theme is #startasking and I cannot think of a better theme for me, personally, since this was basically the springboard for my blog, On Prayers & Needles.

During my journey, I couldn’t help but #startasking how, when 1 in every 8 couples struggles with infertility, are there not more local support groups available? I would go to my OBGYN, our fertility doctor, my husband’s urologist, the chiropractor & acupuncturists’ offices and there would be corkboards overflowing with every type of group you could name. Yet, the only one I needed in that moment wasn’t there.

Instead, I would spend countless hours glued to my cell phone or laptop on BabyCentre, What To Expect Before Your Expecting, etc., etc. group boards waiting for any type of a response to the questions I had. Did anyone have success with Tese for Azoospermia? How many months did you take Clomid before becoming pregnant? Did you take birth control pills as part of your IVF protocol? Are these follicle numbers and measurements decent? I’d wait, to hear from someone I knew only by screen name and not face, someone who lived in another country, to answer. I’d wait there praying that I’d get some glimpse of hope that they had been where I was and everything worked out. And while I appreciated any and all of the support I could get across the Internet and anywhere else, I yearned for a “safe place” ~a place where I could sit with women who were or had been in my shoes and we could discuss all of these things face-to-face over coffee at a local Starbucks. It was then that I promised myself, if I were ever to receive my miracle, I would basically Pay-It-Forward by starting a local support group. That is when this blog was basically conceived (no pun intended).

Fast-forward to just about two-months ago when I finally revved up the courage to launch On Prayers and Needles and share my story…

Slowly, I began to hear the stories of others whom I may or may not have known had difficulty getting pregnant and it felt very liberating for all of us to exchange our experiences. Then I even started to receive intermittent questions from readers asking for more information about meds, doctors, recommendations for a successful IFV cycle. However, none of these women (rightfully so) were interested in participating in a local support group, which led me to #startasking a bigger question: How, when 1 in every 8 couples is infertile, is there still such a stigma and sense of shame in not being able to conceive naturally?

For anyone who has been following (thank you) and those of you just tuning in (thank you, also), I’m sure it is pretty evident that I am an open-book. During our journey there was never a time when I didn’t feel comfortable saying that we were struggling with infertility. You might think that is because it was more of my husband’s “problem”, but I also had my own “issues”. It’s just I came at it from a different perspective, which was basically if it’s broke, fix it. If your hip gives out, you replace it. If you have an infection, you take an antibiotic. If you can’t produce sperm, you find a way to. Clearly, there is no shame in our game and of course, I’m making light of all of these situations. They’re not all that easily resolved. But my mentality was and is, just like anything else in life, if it isn’t working, you fix it (failing marriage, dead-end job). And regardless of what anyone’s picture-perfect life appears to be on Instagram, believe me, there’s something they need or have had to “fix”.

While I completely respect anyone’s choice to keep their infertility private, I also find it important to #startasking why? Are you any less deserving of a baby than someone who could conceive without interventions? In a day in age when science is revolutionary, why wouldn’t you use the advancements provided to start or complete your family? Even when religion is a factor, doesn’t your God want you to be a mom? Don’t you think that someday, if you choose, to explain to your child “how they were made” that they’ll realize how much you loved and wanted him or her even before they were born? If someone in your life was struggling with something, wouldn’t you want them to open up so you could be there for them?

One of the most touching responses I’ve received since initiating the blog, was an e-mail from someone who hadn’t shared her story with anyone outside of her immediate circle. She felt inspired, after reading and relating to mine, to share her own with me. I read it, tears streaming down my face, hoping that she could see the beauty in her story that I did. While that wasn’t the initial intent of the blog, in that moment, I realized that it had served its purpose in a different way.

The more we open up and #startasking ourselves and others these tough questions, the more people will become aware of infertility and all it entails. Once more and more people #startasking, the dialogue can begin so that we (both those who have and have not encountered infertility) can better support one another. I shared my story to get the conversation going, so now I must #startasking, will you?

My IVF Tips

 

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Before I even get started here let me give my big, huge DISCLAIMER: I have no medical background in infertility and by no means am I any kind of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Guru. I am quite simply a girl who went through IVF, researched a little, and decided to take a few steps, which may or may not have made my first IVF cycle a success! Many of the tips here have no or limited scientific correlation to a pregnancy subsequent to IVF.  My train of thought, though, was if it wasn’t harmful and had led to a pregnancy for some, than why not give it a shot 💉🎯.

  1. No MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) 

The only restriction I was given from my infertility Doctor was to avoid MSG.  I figured that just meant no Chinese food, which was no biggie for me, but for my husband, would be comparable to going to the electric chair.  Seriously, though, MSG is in a lot more than you’d think.  So once I began the meds, I read every label and made every waitress swear on the Bible that there was no MSG in whatever I was consuming.  Literally, I’d look at a Tic-Tac label just to make sure.  MSG wasn’t going to mess with me.

2.  AAA (Abstaining from Aspertame & Alcohol)

Now this was a little trickier for me than the whole MSG thing and was not something I was told to do.  But AAA is my own little acronym for what I decided to do the month of my cycle and obviously the next 9 months plus!

We all know that Aspertame is not healthy for us, but like anything we shouldn’t have its so damn good.  Not having Splenda in my coffee actually made me give up my cup of joe during my cycle, pregnancy, and the majority of my year nursing.  Let’s just say I’m making up for it now.  Basically, I live off coffee and goldfish these days.

And if you think that was hard, imagine the alcohol part.  I’m not a huge drinker per say.  As one of my BFF’s mom once put it, more of a social drinker and “I’m very social!” 😝  To be quite frank, champagne and I became very well acquainted, especially during my infertility struggles.  Another pregnancy announcement…pop a bottle!  Baby shower…drink the champagne punch bowl dry!  My mantra was is kind of like “Save water, drink champagne. ” 🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼  

I just felt like cleaning out my system and not having the alcohol mix with the meds was the best choice for me.  To be honest the alcohol part was easier than the coffee.

3.  Leave the Avocado, Take the Prosecco                                                                            

I decided to do a little research when it came to the point of moving forward with IVF.  Afterall I was about to inject myself with hormones and wanted to know what impact it was going to have on my body.  I must confess, I use the word research in the loosest sense.  By research, I mean mostly googling.  And good ‘ole Pinterest was flooded with this study (Link 👉🏻http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2168494/Avocado-diet-triples-chance-success-couples-undergoing-IVF.html).  That’s all I needed to read to gather my Big Y coins and shell them out on that bag of avocados.  By the way do you like my play on the Godfather’s “Leave the gun, take the cannoli”?! Nothing like a little mafia humor to keep you going.  Speaking of humor…

4.  Laughter Post-Transfer

I also researched a study that indicated that laughing immediately after transfer increased success rates.  The theory as discussed here 👉🏻 http://healthland.time.com/2011/01/31/youre-kidding-medical-clown-increases-pregnancy-rates-with-ivf/ is basically that the more relaxed a woman is at the point of transfer, the more likely the embryos will implant.

Maybe the age-old saying, “Laughter is the best medicine” is true afterall.  Regardless, I told my husband to gear up and put together a little comedy skit once our little embies were transferred.  Turns out, joke was on me.  All he had to do was tell the nurse I had him inject me with the progesterone, without changing the needle, and we were all on the floor laughing at her reaction.

5.  Acupuncture

I think acupuncture is one of those things you love or hate.  I, admittedly, was skeptical in the beginning, especially because it wasn’t like I was going to treat an ailment or quit smoking.  What I mean by that was, in the midst, I couldn’t tell if it was working or not.  When people ask me my thoughts on acupuncture, my response is always it may or may not have helped, but at least it was about an hour of relaxation each appointment.  That probably helped in and of itself.

If you’re in my neck of the woods, I’d highly recommend Craig at Kos Chiropractic in North Branford, Connectiut.  The chiropractor, Jackie, was also fabulous and uber intuitive which had me intrigued to say the least.  She’d recommend a certain colored panty to bring out my chakras and was very knowledgable about infertility and the IVF process.  They both seemed experienced and were beyond supportive.  At one point, Jackie told me to remember the number 4.  I nearly almost fell out of the car door when I received our embryology report that said 4 out of the 6 mature eggs fertilized.  How’s that for being on point?

6.  Pineapple Core 

This is a pretty common tip.  Having the core of a pineapple supposedly can enhance implantation because of a particular enzyme found specifically in the core.  For me, we cut the pineapple into fifths horizontally and I ate the pineapple and core starting on the day of transfer and four subsequent days.  I love pineapple (especially with Citron vodka 🙊) so it was fine for me.  A pineapple is a traditional symbol of “welcome” so just think of it as a way to welcome the embryos into your uterus. 🍍

7.  R & R

I’m not one to slow down, but when it came to this, I knew I needed rest and relaxation.  My egg retrieval was on a Thursday, so I decided to take Friday off.  We ended up doing a day 3 transfer on Sunday.  While I intended on taking that Monday and Tuesday off, I felt a cold coming on.  I decided to take an extra day that Wednesday.    I spent most of those days on the couch and took full advantage of being waited on.  Even when I went back to work, I tried to not go a million miles per hour like I usually did.  I worked with kids with special needs, many of whom had behavioral problems.  Therefore I was extra cautious as if I were pregnant.  Well I guess I was PUPO (Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise) and luckily the otherwise never happened and I was just…pregnant!

8.  Stay Positive

I know it’s cliche and easy for someone whom IVF worked for the first time, but there’s a power in positivity.  I stayed positive because it was all I could do.  Eleven eggs were retrieved and of those, six were mature enough to fertilize.  As I mentioned before, four of the six fertilized.  At Day 3, there were still four embryos but only three were quality enough to transfer. We transferred all 3, so literally we were at the end of the road with nothing left to freeze.  At that point it was in God’s hands.

In our case, staying positive meant two things:  no googling and no testing before Beta.  Not being able to google meant less symptom spotting, less negative thoughts.  Avoiding taking a pregnancy test before Beta also was key for us.  I wasn’t testing too early and defeated not seeing the second line.

We remained as we had throughout our whole journey, cautiously optimistic.

9.  Pray

This probably should have gone a little higher on the list, but I’ll admit throughout my journey there were many times I was mad at God.  What did I do to You to deserve this?  In the end,  though, all we have is faith.  As I sat there waiting for my husband while he was in surgery, all I had left to do was pray. After our transfer, all there was left to do was pray and, just like positivity, there’s a power in prayer.

Whatever higher power you believe in will give you strength and help you endure the process.  If you’re ever in doubt that there is a God (or whomever you pray to), you’re faith will certainly be restored when you finally welcome your little bundle.  Because pregnancy and new life are nothing short of miracles from above.

I thank God everyday for our baby and this blessed life.  One day when Mikie asks and I have to explain the “special” way he was born, I will be certain to emphasize that God was key in bringing him to us .  Afterall, Michael is “he who is like the Lord”.

10.  Seek Support

There is nothing more reassuring when going through IVF than having someone who has been there.  Whether it be a friend or complete stranger, find that one person who can share their story and guide you along the way.

If you’re approaching or currently undergoing an IVF cycle and have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out.  Even if you just need a positive word, contact me.  I’m available via email at onprayersandneedles@gmail.com or on Instagram and Facebook you can private messgage me @onprayersandneedles.

Positive Vibes & Baby Dust ✌🏼️👶🏼✨