Tag Archives: IVF support

When IVF Is Your Best Route

I jumped a little ahead of myself last time with The Box on Your Doorstep post, but it was appropriate for a few of my gal pals at the time.  The majority of the e-mails and messages I receive, though, are along the lines of “I think were going to have to do IVF…,” “We’re having trouble getting pregnant.  What’s IVF like?” or “My doctor said IVF is our best route…”  But what does that actually mean?  I think I’ve  touched in previous posts primarily on the emotional facets of IVF and less on the physical.  So, I thought it was time, to take a step back and explain, at least from my experience, what IVF entails.

I can’t proceed without reiterating that everyone’s experience with IVF differs from protocol to outcomes.  Yet, I’m sure we’d all agree on one thing:  Regardless of whether you had no symptoms at all or you suffered from the list of them, the physical pain you endure is incomparable to the emotional suffering.  I’d be able to do an IVF cycle every single month for the rest of my life if I had to, if it weren’t for the associated roller coaster of high’s and low’s.  With that said, there is some solace in knowing what to expect and having someone to confide in who has been there before.

When IVF is your best route, or as in our case, your only route, the acronyms start flying at you: IVF, ICSI, HSG, HCG, FSH, ER, DPT, TWW, and my personal favorite, PUPO.  It’s all so much information to process and I feel as though, once you’re at the point, time finally seems to fly until the dreaded wait of course.   I, obviously, am not a doctor or nurse of any kind and was fortunate to have only undergone one IVF cycle.  Therefore, while I’d like to consider myself fairly knowledgable in this area, there is so much I continue to learn by being part of this community.  The following is a generic timeline for an IVF cycle that includes my specific protocol.

Ovarian Suppression  This is the initial step once the month of a cycle has been determined. Different clinics prefer different protocols, but typically the way in which ovarian suppression is achieved depends on your ovarian reserve, or the number of eggs you still have.  This is determined by Day Three blood work (day three of your period) which evaluates your baseline levels of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and estradiol (E2).  There are several means of addressing this based on your baseline results.

Three years ago when I was undergoing IVF, I began by taking birth control pills (BCP) for the month before.  However this is less of a common practice now, unless they’re accompanied with an overlapping use of a GnRH agonist (most commonly, Lupron).  Regardless the purpose is to better regulate your hormone levels, while also minimizing the potential for cysts to develop.  To be completely honest, this is the phase of IVF I’m least familiar with.

Ovarian Stimulation  In infertility lingo, when we say we are beginning stims, this is the start of using hormones(s) which stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple follicles.  Each follicle is fluid-filled and houses an egg.  Ovarian Stimulation begins around day 3 of your menstrual cycle and can range for 8 to 12 days, depending on how you’re responding to the medications.  Common side effects include drowsiness, headaches, fever/chills, joint aches, injection site reactions.  Typically, monitoring begins around the fourth day of stims and occurs every other day, until you get closer to the point of trigger.  The purpose of these frequent visits, which include internal ultrasounds and blood work, is to determine how your body is reacting to the hormones.  Estrogen levels are assessed through the blood work and the follicle quantity and size are recorded.   It is anticipated that at 12-14 millimeters, the follicles will begin to grow at a rate of 2 millimeters per day. The larger the follicle, the closer it is to maturation.  Depending on your results, the medication protocol may be increased or decreased.  In many cases an Antagon is added to suppress premature ovulation.  This is usually administered during the latter half of the stimulation phase.   Once the follicles reach between 16-20 millimeters they are ready for the next step, retrieval.

 

I began taking Estradiol by mouth (0.5 mg once in am/once in pm) and two hormone injections daily around day 3 of my menstrual cycle (February 8, 2014).  My protocol included 150 units of Follistim (FSH) and 75 IU of Menopur (HMG) injections which I had my husband give me around 6 pm every evening.  He had already been injecting himself for almost two years, so I was lucky enough to have a skilled injector.  For this reason, I’m sure, I found the injections to be completely tolerable with only slight burning and minimal bleeding here and there.  My husband would squeeze the injection site (my lower abdomen, below my belly button) and inject on alternating sides.  I never needed to ice the area and had very little bruising.   We did add Ganirelix to the mix, but I can’t recall when and for how long.  I do know that I had Ganirelix leftover.

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I continued on these meds for 10 days before triggering.  Between 7 and 9 follicles were monitored and measured.  The greatest advice given by the nurses was quality over quantity.  I had read so many stories online of women with 20-30 follicles and wondered why my quantity was significantly less.  I’d go on to find out that many of these women hyper ovulated, which from what I’ve heard can be very painful.  Over-stmulation occurs when estradiol levels soar too high, too quickly.  Typically if a women suffers from Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS), the transfer may be postponed to allow the ovaries and lining of the uterus time to get back to normal.

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HCG Trigger  Triggering refers a shot of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) which stimulates the eggs’ release.  Precise timing of triggering is imperative for successful egg retrieval, which occurs within 36 hours of the injection.  This time is crucial as it allows the eggs to go through the final maturation process; without this they’d be incapable to fertilize.

I took the trigger shot, Ovidrel, on February 18, 2014 at 10 pm in the evening.  Like the others, I didn’t experience any side effects.  At this point, the only way I could describe  how I felt was as if I was carrying a fanny pack of golf balls.

Egg Retrieval  For this procedure, you are given intravenous anesthesia because it is considered minimally invasive.  A needle is inserted into each ovary and using an ultrasound to guide them, the doctor is able to aspirate the fluid and egg from the follicle.  It is a fairly quick (20-45 minute) and painless procedure.

My egg retrieval was late morning on February 20, 2014, two days post-trigger.  It was my first time going under and I can only describe it as the best 15-20 minutes of sleep I’ve ever had.  Within no time, I remember waking up and being pushed to the recovery area.  I spent less than a half hour waiting for the anesthesia to wear off and the doctor came in to give us the number of eggs retrieved.  While the nurse had been monitoring between 7 and 9 follicles, 11 eggs were retrieved in total.  We were advised that we would receive a fertilization report the following day via e-mail.

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We also got the green light to begin those oh-so-lovely progesterone shots.  My husband injected me in the bum, alternating sides every time.  They were, by far, the most painful of all the shots, but of course you’ve probably heard by now how I had him stick me with the 18 gauge needle, so that may have traumatized me!

On a serious note, of all the days within my IVF cycle, this was the most stressful.  However, much of that was due to our circumstances.  My husband’s surgery was the morning of my egg retrieval, so you must remember I was going to have the eggs retrieved without knowing for certain if there’d be sperm to use or if the eggs would have to be frozen.  Again, it wasn’t the physicality of the procedure, it was the emotional duress that made that day the most difficult.  Fortunately, they spun the sample extracted during my husband’s surgery and were able to find viable sperm to perform ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection).

Egg Fertilization  The embryologist prepares to fertilize the eggs within hours of the retrieval.  Traditionally, a sperm sample is placed around each egg to allow for natural selection.  With ICSI, a single sperm is injected into each egg.  Fertilization rates with ICSI have been found to be slightly higher.  The following day, the embryologist will notify you with an embryology report that discusses how many eggs were mature enough to fertilize and out of those how many actually did.  The embryos remain incubated until day 3 or 5 depending on when the transfer will occur.

In our case, 6 out of the 11 eggs were mature enough for fertilization.  Out of those 6, using ICSI, 4 fertilized.  We received these results on a Friday, the day after retrieval, and were elated to have even gotten to that point.  The report indicated that we would hear from them again within 1-2 days.

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The next day, Saturday, I received a phone call while working with my husband.  The nurse relayed that all 4 embryos were still progressing; however it appeared that only 3 would be quality enough to transfer.  I had prepared myself for the more common day-5 transfer (at which point the embryos are considered blastocysts), so when she went on to say that we would be transferring the following day, day-3, I was discouraged to say the least.  The decision was made based on the number and quality of the embryos at that point and I was told that they’d best survive in the most natural setting.  Unfortunately, this did not put me at ease and I’d consider this the second most difficult day of our cycle.

Embryo Transfer  This procedure involves placing a flexible catheter  into your cervix to inject the embryos.  The number of embryos is decided prior to or the day of transfer and depends on various factors (e.g. patient’s age, number of previous cycles, quality of the embryos, etc.).  Post-transfer, recovery usually takes about thirty minutes before going home.  Every clinic’s recommendations vary, as you’ll read.  However, research suggests that strict bed-rest is counterproductive, but heavy exercise and intercourse should be avoided.

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Meeting with our doctor beforehand and making a final decision on the number of embryos to transfer was the most difficult part of the transfer.  Our circumstances are not common; nor is the recommendation of transferring three embryos.  However, based on the embryo quality and our openness to twins, the doctor assured us that transferring all three would not result in triplets.

We both dressed for the procedure and entered the surgical room on February 23, 2014 (three days post retrieval).  Within a few minutes, the embryologist knocked on the door and presented a catheter containing our three embabies.  She confirmed our last name and the number of embryos before passing it over to the doctor.  Within minutes, the catheter was inserted and we saw as our three embryos were transferred into the cervix.  It was one of the single-most surreal and magical moments of my life.

Recovery was again less than thirty minutes and I went home to let my embabies stick.  Pineapple core, warm socks, laughter and all for the days that followed.  I took full advantage of having meals made for me and laundry folded, but I did make sure to move around and engage in some activity.  I took an extra third day off, as I felt a cold coming on and since I worked with kids at the time, I did not want it to worsen.  Other than that, and a tug around my belly button here and there, I did not have any symptoms.  Given that early pregnancy symptoms and the onset of your period mimic one another, it’s often hard to differentiate.  Please refer to my TWW Survival Guide for enduring the longest 9-14 days (depending on transfer day and clinic) of your life.  Naturally, I continued Progesterone injections and went in for blood work once during this time.

Beta Day  If implantation occurs, it starts to release the pregnancy hormone, HCG into your bloodstream.  It’s imperative for the most accurate results to wait at least 9 days after a day-3 transfer and 7 days post day-5 transfer to ensure that the HCG trigger is out of your system.  Initial beta numbers can range from single to triple digits depending on length of time since transfer and when implantation occurred.  Regardless, the level should double every 48 hours for a singleton pregnancy and even faster for multiples.

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For us, Beta Day was March 10, 2014  and as it turns out was one of the most cherished days of our lives.  We both went for the blood test together; however I received the call that it was in fact positive with a beta of 816, fourteen days post day-3 transfer.  The second beta, a few days later was over 16,000.

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With such high numbers, we were able to finally breathe.  However, we were far from out of the clear.  Unfortunately, especially with IVF, it becomes hard for you to accept positive news and you remain guarded because you’ve encountered so much disappointment.  It wasn’t until we actually saw a heartbeat at 6 weeks and then got past the 9-10 week safety zone, that we truly acknowledge that we were an IVF first timer success.

As I re-read this post, it is certainly the most dry of my entries to date.    My hope, though, is that it brings some clarity to those who are approaching an IVF cycle or think that IVF might be in their future.  There are many common things about our IVF cycle and many unique parts too.  The fact that we were an IVF success the first time around places us in the minority.  Not a day goes by, where I don’t thank my lucky stars, that after at least 84 injections, over a dozen blood drawings, and more suppositories than I’d like to remember (and that’s just for our IVF cycle and doesn’t include my husband’s shots!), we finally had a child of our own.

Lucky 8

 

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For as long as I can remember, 8 has always been my lucky number. It’s no coincidence that my husband proposed to me on 08.08.06 at 8 something in the evening on a sunset cruise. And just this past Tuesday we celebrated 8 years of marriage. It felt nothing short of lucky this anniversary, as we toasted over Moscow Mules after our first getaway sans baby 🙌🏼 {we both now agree it was long overdue & did us good}.

This post may seem far removed from infertility but in all actuality it’s very much relevant. You see I’m one of those that still believes in the sanctity of marriage. It’s something I dreamt of as little girl and then even more as a smitten teenager. I planned in my head it would happen sometime in my twenties ✔️ to my soulmate ✔️ we would be settled in our careers ✔️ become homeowners ✔️ and then a few years later start our family 🚫 repeat again ~three years later 🚫 and again if it was right 🚫…and live happily ever after.  The more and more I connect with others in the TTC and infertility communities, the more and more I hear how I’m not alone in this so-well-thought-out mentality.  That’s partially why I felt inclined to write this post.  It’s a hard nut to swallow when your life’s plan doesn’t seem to be going as you envisioned; while you’ve been blessed with your significant other, have built your nest, and possibly even have landed your dream job, having to wait to start your family can be devastating.  Moreover, it can impact all the aforementioned positive things you have going on in your life and have already checked off the list.

Eight years of marriage has taught us many things:  commitment, compromise, priorities, communication,    conflict-resolution (all which are still a work in progress 😝).  It’s also important to be one another’s biggest fan, best friend, and better half.  My best gal pals love my “marriage isn’t rainbows and Louis Vuittons,” drunken quote, but truthfully my husband and I always say the key to marriage or any long term relationship is getting through the ruts and falling in love over and over and over again.   There are days, weeks, maybe even months where you’re both ‘meh’.  It may not be anything, just the day-ins and day-outs of life.  Or it may be something tangible like the loss of a job or infertility that causes the rut.

It’s difficult to work past those times and those deadlines in your head telling you you’re almost 30 (or in your 30’s or almost 40-the age is irrelevant) and still childless.  I can recall our fifth anniversary as a poignant moment when the realization that my life’s plan had gone awry.  It had been just shy of a year from our diagnosis. I know a year seems minuscule and in comparison to others TTC journey it is, but if you’ve ever “tried” getting pregnant even just months of seeing one line on sticks, without actually being infertile, can be devastating.  I had imagined at least having one baby by five years of marriage and the evil plague of comparison had gotten the best of me.  Many of our friends who had gotten married around us or even after us were on #1, #2, or even #3 and here we were five years later basically in the same place as we had started.  See, I didn’t realize then how five years of marriage may have been what we needed to indulge in ourselves and evolve as “us”.  We went to Newport and had a nice, romantic getaway, but the infertility was still there and it was heavier to bear than usual.  My husband and I decided to re-new our vows at the same church where JFK and Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis wed.  It was a special and intimate moment that I am glad we chose and have committed to do every five years.  All my prayers, though, didn’t go to us; they went to sending us a child.

Thanks be to Him, we became parents a little over a year later.  Albeit, three years longer than my plan.  In the last couple of years, we have both strived to be the best parents to our little guy, learning and evolving as individuals and as a family more each day.  There has been so much joy and happiness since Mikie’s arrival that I can honestly say these are the best days of our lives. That’s not to say there haven’t been little ruts along the way.  With so much of our emphasis on him, it’s easy to put us to the side.  However this anniversary we are in a different place, or at least I think I am in my head.    This year, the lucky 8, I didn’t find myself squandering in the plan.  It was less about what we’re going to do and more about look what we’ve done.  I wasn’t thinking about where I had planned to be relative to where we are.  I wasn’t analyzing and comparing.  I was there, present in the beauty of what 8 years looks like.

Is baby #2 always in the back of my mind? Of course and I’d be lying to all of you, and more importantly myself if I said I didn’t have a plan (in the vaguest sense you can with IVF) in my head for that.  But after 8 years of marriage {like I’m some veteran lol 🙄} I can at least tell you newlyweds that while the plan may not always go as you had hoped, it can turn out even more beautiful.  Sometimes we focus on those big milestones: the engagement, the wedding, the big 3-0, first baby, 5th wedding anniversary without seeing how important the in-between is.  8 is a seemingly insignificant number, but it feels lucky to me and turned horizontally means infinity, so here’s to us, babe, from our 8th anniversary until forever.

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Round & Role Call

Lately, my biggest concern going for #2 and another IVF cycle is the fear of it not working the first time around. I know we really lucked out with our first IVF cycle being a success and that the odds of this happening are not at all in any of our favor.

I know what an IVF cycle entails. I’m a pro at taking shots (of both kind 😝), have a good sense of what the numbers mean, and have acquired the patience of a saint. However, I don’t know if I’m equipped to deal with a failed cycle. It’s extremely unfortunate that I’ve been surrounded by unsuccessful cycles recently. My hearts go out to you~you know who you are 💞.

While I know all the appropriate things to say when someone is encroaching or in the midst of an IVF cycle , I’m clueless when it comes to cycles that end in a BFN.  Sure from my experience, I know better than to say things like “well at least you have some frozen still” or “it’ll be easier next time around”. I’ve become very cogniscent of my words and what they can evoke. I try not to undermine what has really occurred and I encourage these amazingly strong women to take time and grieve the loss. I note that my heart is aching for them and that I’m praying for them, but I don’t discuss the next step until they bring it up to me. I try not to say things like next time will be better because I don’t know that for sure. I certainly don’t try to figure out why it didn’t take this time, because honestly who the hell knows. I don’t know what it’s like to see a BFP, only to get declining Beta numbers or to get a positive beta, but see an empty sac. Therefore I cannot give these ladies the validation of articulating what they’re feeling. That said, I’m inspired by you ladies who have the bravery, courage, and tenacity to pick yourself up for cycle #2, #3, and so on.

What I do believe, though, is that you probably go into each cycle taking on a different role of sorts. In hopes of bringing some humor to infertility, I introduce you to my IVF Characters {{drumroll, please}}

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Meet Positive Penny. She’s bubbly and full of spirit. It’s most likely her first cycle. So while she loves to chat about being bloated and show off her bruises as badges of honor (which they are, girl 🏅🏅🏅) she is uber excited about all these cycle milestones because it’s one step closer to getting her baby. Positive Penny knows this is her time. She looks for affirmations and signs along the way, but mostly just has a gut feeling that this is going to work.

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Next, I’d like to introduce, Realistic Rachel. Realistic Rachel is probably a left-brainer, good with numbers and stuff. She’s as excited as she is nervous, but goes into every appointment cautiously optimistic. She never loses sight of her end goal, but realizes that the odds of it working the first time around are much less than 50/50. Realistic Rachel has prepared herself imperviously for either outcome: BFP or BFN.

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Have you met my friend, Aloof Alice?  There aren’t many of her kind ’round these parts, but when you come across one it makes you all like 🤔. Aloof Alice, also typically a first time IVFer, sort of knows what’s involved with an IVF cycle. She’s kind of baffled with all the appointments, acronyms, and bloodwork results. She wants a baby just as bad as her other fertility friends, she’d just rather not scour the Internet incessantly for hours on end. Aloof Alice definitely hasn’t researched tirelessly, she kind of just does what she’s told. She has no idea about fertility herb diets, why everyone has pineapples on their IG page 🍍, and thinks to herself wtf is a #TTCtribe?

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This is Scared Sally.  She’s literally scared shitless about everything.  It doesn’t matter if it’s her first or third round of IVF.  Scared Sally is afraid of needles.  She’s too embarrassed to ask questions.  She follows you on social media but only puts generic quotes, enough to make you wonder is she struggling with infertility too?  But Scared Sally is too nervous to tell anyone and is worried they might think less of her.  She’s scared to POAS before beta, but she’s just as sacred not to.  Even when she gets a beta of 816, she’s afraid it’s not high enough.  She worries at each subsequent appointment if there’s still a heartbeat.  She gets through each test, each procedure, each ultrasound beautifully but she’s scared to see how courageous she really is.  Scared Sally, let me be the one to tell you, you’re a heck of a lot braver than most.  You’re an infertility warrior 💪🏼.

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Last but certainly not least, is Drained, Damaged, Drained Debbie. Drained sounds nicer, but let’s face it’s she’s a bit of both and rightfully so. Usually Drained Debbie has been through the ringer. She’s suffered failed IUI’s, multiple losses, and, if that’s not enough, has also maxed out her IVF coverage. Drained Debbie questions her doctor if changes aren’t being made next time because let’s face it, she doesn’t know how much more she can take this shit.   She may be rushing into another cycle without recovering from the last, but just like the rest of her friends, no matter how drained she is, she’s still holding onto that glimmer of hope.

I wanted to get you better acquainted with these ladies to see if you could relate.  Let me know if I’ve forgotten anyone.  I’m sure I must have.  Not only is our circle big, but I presume that we change roles with each round.  I, for example, was the ever-so-popular Postive Penny the first time around.  To be honest, I don’t know if it was because I was so shocked to actually get to that point or what.  I didn’t really give the whole IVF failure much thought because I was too consumed with if we were even going to have sperm to work with.  This may, in some odd way, have been a blessing in disguise.  It also may have been the reason I wasn’t a Realistic Rachel or Scared Sally.

Given that I’m on the “other side of infertility”, and an IVF First-Timer Success you’d probably suspect that I’d remain a Positive Penny.  I don’t know, though, because my emotions and feelings are so different now.  We aren’t there just yet, but even thinking about another IVF cycle I feel much more guarded, more of a Realistic Rachel.  I’m doubtful that we could get this lucky twice.  My husband and I are so blessed and in such a happy place, raising and loving on our son, that I’m literally more scared than Sally to go back to that place.  That place can be so alienating, life-sucking, and dark that the distant memories still haunt me from time to time.  I’d prefer this happy place of changing dirty diapers, family date nights, and 2,461,085 toddler timeouts for a little while longer.  Yet, just like you gals, I know all too well how worth it going back there could be.

TWW Survival Guide

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I can only speak from my experience and what worked for us during the dreaded two week wait. Regardless of how you tackle it, I’m sure we can all agree, though, that it is an uphill battle. It starts off with the euphoria of knowing your embaby(s) are getting comfy cozy and gradually seems to go slower once you digest your last piece of pineapple core. The first week, thus, is bearable, but the second is intolerable. It’s in the second week that you start to symptom spot, that every ache, thought, motion is either a sign that this is your happy ending or you’re greatest fear: a BFN. The second week goes at a snail’s pace and typically involves an influx of pregnancy announcements and pregnancy test commercials that really test all the hormones raging inside of you.

My recommendation is first and foremost do what works for you and your significant other. Remain in that constant state of infertility: cautiously optimistic. Use these as a guideline, rather than an end all be all, because while I was one of the lucky ones I’m not sure how many TWW’s I would’ve been able to tolerate.

🔸 AVOID GOOGLE

Sounds as impossible as surviving the TWW, I know. However Google is like a woman in the TWW’s crack. It is so addicting and so easy to get caught up doing, but gets you nowhere. If you’ve made it to the TWW, then you’ve done all your research. You know what to anticipate. Searching for “specific symptoms 4dp5dt” will give you no concrete answer. All it will do is make your mind play all sorts of crazy tricks on you.

Go ahead, look up cute maternity dress websites and plan your entire baby shower through Pinterest. But please, my dear friend, do yourself a favor and avoid at all costs using Google to “predict” your outcome.

🔸 N O  T E S T I N G before B E T A

Again, a personal choice, but one I strongly recommend. My husband and I made a vow to one another that we would wait until we received our call on Beta Day. It wasn’t easy but I made sure that there weren’t any leftover tests lingering around the house and stuck it out.

From my perspective, testing before Beta can lead to two devastating outcomes. First, with a fresh transfer, your HCG from trigger can still be recognized on a pregnancy test if you test too early. This could give you a false sense of hope that you’re pregnant when it could’ve been the residual hormone in your system.

Second, you could test early and get that BFP that you’ve dreamed of. It could quite possibly be one of the greatest moments of your life all to come crumbling down on Beta day when your number comes back lower than the magic number. In this instance, you typically have to keep going for more bloodwork to see if the number changes. So basically the TWW becomes even longer and more devastating.

In my opinion, testing before Beta is a complete mind fuck. Just like googling, it’s a dominos effect. If you say you’re only going to test at day 8 and then the line is so faint, you’re anxious to test again at day 9, 10 and so on.

🔸 F I L L  Y O U R   S O C I A L
C A L E N D A R

You may have to swap the Pinot for Pellegrino, but make plans. Girls night outs, date nights, or even coffee outings to help give your mind a break are all welcome. They’re great for keeping you on track, maintaining your positivity and sustaining your sanity.

It may help to talk about what you’re going through or you may opt, especially when out with your significant other, to forgo discussing your infertility altogether. Either way it’s a time to feel like yourself, which is easy to lose when on this journey.

🔸 P U R G E or P R O J E C T

In less than 9 months you could potentially be nesting. Why not get a head start?! It’s true what they say-Clean house, clear mind.

It’s important mentally to rid yourself of some of this excess.  Doing so physically can be helpful too.  Reorganize those cabinets you’ve been meaning to for the last 7 months.  Or maybe you can start and actually complete that DIY project you’ve been meaning to tackle.  Either way, they’re both a wonderful strategy for making the time pass while being productive.

🔸 P R A Y

Cliche I know, but I’ve noticed the overwhelming amount of faithful ladies amongst us.  Regardless of how you pray or Who you pray to, prayer or meditation of some sort can be a source  of peace.  If not for yourself, do it for your little embryos that need you in a place of calmness.  It’s also a way to connect with yourself and your embaby(s).  In my experience, the majority of our TTC tribe use prayer as a way to cope with the pain and suffering of infertility.

🔸R E W A R D   Y O U R S E L F

At the point of the TWW, you have done everything possible to make this work. Maybe you’ve done acupuncture, changed your diet, or tried fertility herbs. Maybe you’ve eaten the pineapple core for 5 days or worn socks since transfer day, even if it’s 90 degrees out. Whatever it is you have done, you’ve done it to the best of your ability. Reward yourself for that-a handbag, a daytrip, a good book, a piece of jewelry (obvs my top pic 😝💎).

No matter the outcome this time around, remind yourself that you’ve done everything in your power to make this work.  Know this, honor this, applaud this.  You are a warrior and not everyone can say that.  More importantly, not every child can say that about his or her momma-but yours child-to-be can.

HOPE Award Best Blog Nomination


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I had intended on publishing another post this week, but that’ll have to wait (It’s about the TWW so it only feels appropriate to be prolonged 😝) because On Prayers and Needles has been nominated by RESOLVE as Blog of the Year! Pinch me 🦀! I cannot even begin to believe that I am one of five blogs chosen out of 200 submissions.  What I am even more humbled by is the outpouring of support, shares, and votes to help support my cause. While I’m trying to thank and extend my appreciation to everyone, I know that’s nearly impossible so instead I decided I’d write a post to express my insurmountable gratitude.

Less than a year ago, I set out to launch a blog in hopes that in the near future I’d be able to form a local support group for women in CT struggling with infertility (which is in the works 🙌🏼🙏🏼). There were numerous drafts and a myriad of reasons I came up with as to why it wasn’t the right time. Would anyone read it? How do you even start a blog? // Thanks Google ☺️ // How would I be able to keep up with it while balancing the other facets of my life, especially my little wild one? Why hadn’t someone else done this? Would people pity me? Was sharing our story worth the embarrassment my husband might feel? If I were too raw, would I offend someone I know and love? Would the good outweigh the bad?

Doesn’t it always?! Infertility for sure is proof of that for us. Aside from the encouragement of my husband, there was “that one” glaring, blue-eyed reason why I couldn’t not get our story out there. Afterall, I promised myself, my husband, God, and my not-yet-conceived child that if all this worked, I would Pay-It-Forward as best I could.

To this day, I think there are thank you’s left unsaid and words left unspoken. This blog is my attempt to encapsulate all the gratefulness in my heart for those that were a part of our journey or are now a part of our journey on the other side of infertility. So this is my way of thanking every single doctor, nurse, receptionist, acupuncturist, patient and competent insurance company representative who brought us to where we are today, as a family of three. And beyond to thank my committed family, my circles of friends, those who know us personally and those who don’t, my IG fertility community, and everyone who takes time out of their busy lives to read, even if it’s just a skim or intermittent check-in. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

It was the resounding voice in my head saying “Even if you help just one person it will be worthwhile,” that finally convinced me to hit “Publish” for the first time. That was my goal, to at least be the support for one single individual who was where I had been. This nomination is affirmation that I met my goal and that feels so so good.

This nomination means that not only have I helped one person, but maybe even a handful. It’s proof that just sharing your story can be enough for someone who needs it in that moment. I’ve offered support to people I’ve known personally and others I’ve never met. Unintentionally, I have found that opening up about our struggles has provided me the opportunity to hear about other people’s journeys; sometimes it has allowed these men and women to see the beauty in their own battle that they were too ashamed to acknowldege.

More widespread, I hope that it means that the dialogue is happening, albeit mostly within this small circle of our social media following in the little state of CT. Yet, maybe just maybe, this blog , I hope, has inspired someone to open up about being infertile or given someone the courage to pursue IVF.  Maybe it has given a fertile person a little knowledge about assisted reproduction.  I hope that it’s a reminder that miracles do happen and just because a couple doesn’t have a child, it doesn’t mean they don’t long for one.  I hope it’s that little birdie in your ear, that refrains you from saying “Just relax” to a couple TTC and “Do you want more?”  to that mom fumbling to find ‘nacks at the bottom of her purse.  Moreover, I hope that it’s proof that if you want to change the life of just one person, it can be so much more.

All of the above would not be possible without each and every one of you.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you for voting, liking, and sharing.  Thank you for reading and reassuring me that some of what I’m saying makes sense.  Thank you for taking the time to share and spread my mission.

Helping one person might not change the world, but it could change the world for one person.                               -Anonymous

Infertility and this nomination have changed the world for me 🌍.


 

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.”

The “I” in Infertility


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There’s a very fine line between living with infertility and letting it take over your life.  The quest to have a baby can be consuming.  Compound that with infertility and it’s hard to see life outside of doctor’s appointments, bloodwork, OPK’s, two week waits (TWW) and pregnancy tests.  It can be difficult to not let it overcome you because infertility is a beast.  But I’m here, on the other side, to tell you that it doesn’t need to be your be-all and end-all.

It’s all about finding the balance in life, which can always be extra tricky when you’re dealing with a stressor of some sort.   Sometimes when the topic comes up, you might say “We are trying.” Other days you might feel like giving a 20-minute mini-lesson on your infertility diagnosis.  There are days when it’s just easier to wear a smile and yet other times when you need to let the tears stream down your face to get out a good cry.  Allowing yourself good and bad days helps to keep the balls juggling so to speak.  The moment you go too much one way or too much the other, the balls start to drop.

Much like anything that’s worth fighting for, you will also have to make sacrifices and not just the financial kind.    Infertility tends to plan some days and months {even years} for you because of the intense scheduling, especially when in the midst of an IVF cycle.  However, don’t let it dictate your life.  Don’t waste away your days waiting for that one moment. Do girls nights and spontaneous romantic weekend getaways.  Take on daring adventures, indulge in retail therapy, and pound back way too many shots.  The infertility doesn’t go away but at least life isn’t slipping by either.  Sure there will be times you have to “sit out” or say “Now isn’t a good time,”  but more often then not, the infertility will still be there and those opportunities won’t.  I found (and still find) myself so many times opting out of a bachelorette or putting off a vacation out of fear that a procedure or doctor’s appointment might come up.  But it’s important to remember, infertility causes you to make enough sacrifices, so do yourself a favor-you deserve it.

That’s not to say it’s easy, nor will there be times that you can’t help but fall victim to letting infertility get the best of you.  At those times, remember:

The “I” in infertility does not stand for identity. Infertility does not define who I am. It does not encompass all of me. Rather, it is just part of my story, as is being a daughter, sister, friend, wife, speech-pathologist, and so fortunately, a mother.

Since initiating this blog, I’ve had so many people, even my own dad, remark that they knew we were having issues but didn’t realize that it was that bad.  That’s because I didn’t want infertility to define me and I still don’t.  Even though I’ve overcome it, infertility is and always will be part of me.  As part of my story, I’m inclined to share it to help others.  So while the “I” in infertility doesn’t stand for my identity, I think I’ll let it stand for impact.  It has made a profound impact on the individual and, more importantly, the  mommy I have become.  I hope that, through this blog and a support group, I can use my infertility journey to make an impact.

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!