Recognizing Trauma within infertility

Its not just the treatments that cause trauma there are many more aspects with infertility that are trauma based and in this post we explore them.

My last post was almost 6 months ago. I was pretty good on writing and being on top of it, but after the last IVF transfer didn’t work I got pretty shook up and angry. All the meditations and Vypassana Silent retreats didn’t help me. We do need to recognize the fact that there is trauma with infertility – the in ability to be fertile on our own.

1. RE-TRAUMA. There is a double edge sword of telling the world your story. 

When you are open to the world about your story you keep retelling it and re-traumitizing yourself. Do you recognize that this is the case? Every time you tell your story, your emotions, feelings and memories that are stored in your body come up and you feel like you are in the moment. Its like victims of abuse who need to retell their story over an over and over again. Whenever I had to retell my story of all the things I’ve done toeither a friend or a professional, I could feel my brain and my body sinking into that trauma part of my brain. I felt like I was reliving parts of everything. When I’m not talking about it, I’m fine, as soon as I need to launch into the story of “what is going on” then its like my brain retreats back to those centres. I know it affects me, re-telling my story over and over again, as the effects afterwards cause me to feel angry and completely triggered by the situation. This is one traumatizing aspect of infertility.

2. MONEY – Lets face it, money in itself is traumatizing, how do we get more money, how do we pay the bills on a every day basis, now add how you are going go pay for a baby. 

Its such a traumatic thing, you think you are paying into something ($25,000 Canadian) and are expecting a return, but there maybe no return on your investment. This shakes me every time I think about it. I have better chances at a Casino. This is a big traumatizing aspect of infertility. THIS has the ability to split couples.

3. THE STORIES OF HOPE 

These I hate the most.

Somehow I get on the topic of fertility with a person and they lay their hand on me very sincerely, look me in the eye with what *they* think is empathy and the usual story tells of some tragic fertility version and then a miracle happens. It usually sound like this, “I know my neighbour who tried for 6 years. She  plus she had endometriosis and cancer as a child and they told her she was infertile and she got pregnant. If she did it then you can too”. The flash with of anger when I hear these types of stories as I find them LACKING EMPATHY. Its like being hit open handed in the face. Its not hope. Its a bunch of bullshit where the message behind the “hopeful bullshit story” is that I shouldn’t worry, my problems are not that bad and a miracle will happen. This is honestly traumatizing because the question that comes to mind is, what did THEY DO that I’m not doing?

Even if that person had fertility issues is telling me the story, I don’t care, your story of hope isn’t my story so telling me your story of “HOPE” thinking you are helping me, please stop, its not. Period. Even my Social Worker who runs a fertility support group had fertility issues tell me her story doesn’t give me any hope. These stories don’t give me hope because they are not me and my reality. It doesn’t tell me what I could do better.

I’m happy to swap stories and strategies you’ve used, what doctor you saw and what helped you, but don’t tell me, “Don’t worry you’ll get there” just because you’ve crossed to the other side.

Infertility is traumatic. In addition to depression symptoms, it is quite common that couples experiencing infertility will experience anxiety in response to certain situations or triggers (such as seeing pregnant women, pregnancy tests, babies on TV or in person, etc.). They may experience intense emotion around certain times of the month, particularly the times near ovulation and when a period is due.

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4. Random Trauma: A wedding was my trauma trigger

Apart from the usual triggers listed above, the trauma of infertility can come from places we never expected. We were so excited to go to a friend’s wedding, as it was long and anticipated. We had received the invitation in August of 2017 and the wedding was October 2017. I bought a very beautiful dress, planned the outfit and off we drove to another city for 4 hours to attend this wedding.

Of course the wedding was perfect. It was small, quaint and very family oriented. The parents of the bride were there and I was looking forward to dancing the night way in my comfy shoes, that is, until…..

THE MOMENT.

We were sitting at the back of the small reception room at a round table all facing the front listening to the speeches. The first set of parents went up and spoke and then the second parents went up and said beautiful things about their child and showed a video of childhood photos. It was so moving and sweet. I felt my brain shift and crack. I tried shaking it off by going to the washroom but it was too late.

Till this day I can feel this black veil that came out of nowhere and knocked me off my feet. The thought lit up in my mind like a shinny ad on New York’s Times Square with the letters spelling: You may never experience this. This this day so many months later those 4 words sting. And I was done. Cold Play’s lyrics from the song “Fix You” became my mind’s background music and the tears just came streaming down my face…..Its like loosing something you cannot replace. I could even hear the voice of the main singer Chris Martin whining those words into my ears. My energy just became off and all I wanted to do was crawl underneath that round table with the white table cloth and hide. I smiled so politely at my friend the bride and lied straight to her face when she came up to me later asking if I’m Ok. Holding my tears I lied through my teeth and said, “I was incredibly moved by the speeches”. Lie. Lie. Lie. The rest of the night I pretended to dance and forcibly remove that veil off of me, but it didn’t happen. As I retell this story, I’m right there. The trauma of the moment is right there with me.

Triggers can seem unrelated or random but still have a profound effect on the emotional reaction of the people going through this difficult situation. For many, infertility feels like riding an emotional roller coaster of anticipation, worry, sadness, grief, and anger.

When someone is experiencing infertility, negative beliefs about one’s inadequacyor defectiveness may come up.

5. The trauma of “it is free for everyone else, so why not me?”. 

Its in those moments that you least expect that bring up the trauma of not just about your body, but about everything around it. Not accepting your diagnosis, not being able to bring yourself to go to another acupuncture treatment. The unwillingness to change your diet or do anything else that would require you to change your lifestyle. This brings so much resentment towards the whole thing. Its supposed to be free so why am I forced to pay for it. Why should I stop eating sugar? Why I need to change everything when “crack babies” are still being born.

Denying that there is anything wrong. Just stuffing it down deeper. I have a hard time accepting that there is something wrong with me just because my diagnosis says so. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with me thats why I want this to be free and on my own terms. This lack of being able to use my body and have it function the way its supposed to filters through on other parts. The inadequacy. The feeling of failure. The feeling of being stuck. Its everything my life. I feel stuck in a job I can’t quit till I find something else but I can’t find a job because I don’t feel adequate so I look for a low paying customer service job. I don’t believe I will achieve financial success beyond my small little goal, because why, I don’t deserve it. It just filters through. Denying grief.

6. The Trauma of the advice: Change your mindset

The worst advice I have ever received was believe it and it will happen. Well I don’t believe that I can’ actually get pregnant and the story of “Hope” (see above) isn’t helping. Then I think, maybe I don’t want any this family and baby business, but immediately my

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body signals to me that is a lie. A way of self preservation of the fact that nothing has happened. A way for me to preserve some mental sanity. If my mindset was to be on point then it would have happened last year between May and August. My belief was strong. How many times have a I heard just stop thinking about it. I have stopped thinking about it and it still hasn’t happened.

It is hard to believe that my body is actually able to have a pregnancy when in the last 5 years it never once did. Read that again. NEVER EVER EVER. 

7. The Trauma of a “Past life”. 

This one gets me going because it doesn’t actually solve anything. A spiritual guru comes to you and says they know the problem and it comes from a past life. I believe in reincarnation but saying that I had a problem in the past life and now I have to fix the past life in order to create life is complete bullshit. There is nothing that I can do in present current life to go back and  talk to ‘said past life’ and tell it to move on and get going. It putting blame on things so beyond reach and human possibility. I just have no words for this type of thing.

8. Your partner’s trauma

Your partner has trauma except he may not express it. I have tried to get hubby to express it but its so deeply repressed that it a cork I’m having a hard time uncorking. It affect him. Its like us walking through the Green Living Show and him stopping and looking at baby clothes. Its not that we both get up and think about it all the time, but this thing, shows up in different ways. Pregnant women, strollers, Toys R Us, children or  other objects don’t seem to move us, but a simple piece of clothing does. It moves him.

Final thoughts.

I may just add to the list about but my point is that that I have recognized that the trauma of infertility stops at the fertility clinic. Even when you stop going or someone says to you ‘take a break’ (I’ve been on a break for the last 6 months) it doesn’t go away. Its a train.

Once you get on the fertility train, destination, “Baby/Family”, its very difficulty to get off it before you make it to the destination.  Eva Braveheart.


When you try your best but you don’t succeed
When you get what you want but not what you need
When you feel so tired but you can’t sleep
Stuck in reverse
When the tears come streaming down your face
‘Cause you lose something you can’t replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
What could it be worse?
Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you
But high up above or down below
When you are too in love to let it show
Oh but if you never try you’ll never know
Just what you’re worth
Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you
Tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you cannot replace
oh and tears come streaming down your face
And I
Tears streaming down your face
I promise you I will learn from all my mistakes
oh and the tears streaming down your face
And I
Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you
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How to make a difference in a life

The original is written by “Loren Eiseley” in 1969  – “The Star Thrower” is a part of a 16-page essay of the same name by.
“While walking along a beach, an elderly gentleman saw someone in the distance leaning down, picking something up and throwing it into the ocean.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, picking up starfish one by one and tossing each one gently back into the water.

He came closer still and called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

The old man smiled, and said, “I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”

To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the elderly observer commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

The young man listened politely. Then he bent down, picked up another starfish, threw it into the back into the ocean past the breaking waves and said, “It made a difference for that one.”
“Chi Mai” by Ennio Morricone – is one of the most beautiful modern piece of music I know. Written in 1971 … and it was used in the film “Maddalena” the same year. Famous it became through being used in “The Professional” (1981 film). Chi Mai is Italian and means whoever.

Just like this story … whoever that wants to can make a difference.

 

How I became grateful for my infertility

Note: This post has been in draft for four months because it was hard to let it go.

Gratitude and infertility are not words that are used together in the same sentence.

Infertility is more often described as:

“A struggle”
“a flight”,
“overcoming”,
“obsession”,
“a battle”,
“over exposing”,
“stressing”,
“despair”
“loss”

Not exactly positive words that can get a women & couple to an empowered mindset

These are words that couples use to describe infertility. These words are more often used together in various combinations in a sentence but gratitude and infertility….nope, not so much. It has taken me some time to get here, to this space of gratitude. It’s a humbling place to be. The hardest part of infertility is letting go of expectations. There is only one outcome: the one thing is certain, the uncertainty. I am grateful for this dance with infertility, it has made me be introspective and re-caliber my life perspective. It has and will make me a better parent and person. Another experience on my life path.

 Home, "a deep sense of peace". 

It’s Tuesday, my current favourite day of the week, it’s the 6 week support group time with Amira Posner and I’m late. I email Amira and let her know that I’m running late, but for whatever reason, a sense of peace washes over me as soon as I click, “send”.  A brilliant yellow light washes over me. It feels like I am my soul and my soul feels my skin from the inside. I don’t think I’ve ever been so peaceful through this whole thing process as I am now. I hear the clock ticking, my mind yelling at me to get up and go already, “Oh, shut up in there monkey brain, my soul and I are having a moment of deep Universal connection”.

When I’m quiet enough and I let my mind settle, I hear the whispers of my soul. I know the Universe has my back and will still have my back when I’m in the depths of diapers or taking the different route, being a couple with no kids. At the beginning of this year, it was different, as I crashed and burned through a mental health crisis  due to not being to take the emotional ride the fertility world. I’m here now, on the other side. I don’t feel the need to rush towards anything, I don’t feel I need to fulfill anyone’s expectations.

I hear a voice saying, you are going to be OK, you are enough, your Spirit baby is with you, just believe this and know that your body can conceive a healthy baby. I hold on that knowing whatever the outcome, I’m still safe and I’m still going to be me.

Thank you. I am grateful.

The support group, “We’ve got this”. 

Since I’m late, I decide to take my car and drive through the streets of Toronto. I don’t know what has happened to me but the colours in the city so much brighter than they did.  I notice the little things on my drive I didn’t notice before. Was this cafe here on this corner last week? The city is awakening into a new season and I am awakening with it. I can sense the new beginnings, this week has been a good week. The last two before this I was a mess trying to find my sense of purpose in life questioning every single part of my life, asking “WHY” and “WHAT“. As I pass by the Second Cup coffee in the lobby on my way to the group, I round the corner to the elevator, I hear another whisper, “let go, ‘we’ve got this”, except there is no one there next to me whispering this to me. I feel a deep sense of peace just wash over me.

I AM THAT that I AM.

I grateful for my infertility as it has allowed me to go even deeper and become more connected. I am reminded again, that 50% of what I do is my mindset and the other 50% is up to something greater than science.

I am grateful for this experience of infertility as it has taught me compassion towards myself and other women. I see women with children in a different light. I look at their child and smile – I wonder, what has she been through to hold that child in her arms? Instead of judging her and the choice of having a child like I used to in my twenties and early thirties, I am grateful for this new perspective. I have softened. My values have changed. I used to feel sorry for women who had children and couldn’t comprehend why they would ‘that’ to themselves, now, I see that one in six couples had to really commit fully to make the choice to introduce a new life into the world.

Life. We have one in a 15 million chance to make it. For those two cells to connect, yet, somehow they don’t always do.
The universe has your back

 

The Clinic

I am grateful to the Clinic and all the staff. When I hit rock bottom, I stopped all fertility treatment for two months and I took the time to heal and love myself. I can’t stress enough how much I needed to find myself during those two months and regain my balance.  I finally put fertility as one of the many slots of just everyday life. It’s so important to do that because fertility treatments become your life.

I am not my diagnosis and I am not a uterus to be treated.

I am whole and complete.

I am grateful to find people who take the time to help you take another step forward
After the two month hiatus, I was able to walk into the clinic without having a panic attack. The first time after a long time, when the ladies who took my blood didn’t struggle to find the vein. I had tried to switch clinics and found out a ton of information about the Ontario funded IVF. In the very end, the person who I communicated with who was helping me transfer clinics said something that made a big difference for me., “you are in good hands, they really do care there at your clinic. Go do your embryo transfer, and if doesn’t work out after two times, call me then, but I don’t think you’ll be calling me”.

This is how I ended up staying with my clinic. I do finally feel safe here at this clinic. I feel like a human and more than just a treatment. Its so key to trust the people who are helping you create life.

My mindset is different.

balance 2

My two months clinic free, mental health declutter

During my two months ‘off’, I had to face the state of affairs of my relationship, my career, and everything in between. I was faced with the question, “what do I want from life” and “what is my purpose”. I even faced the question of do I actually want a family and what do I value more. How far am I willing to with fertility treatments before I say stop. Am I actually really willing to adopt and why? Am I willing to share this journey with a surrogate? I stepped back and forth between deciding if “mother” is a role I want to take on, or is it that I’m following someone else’s dreams and expectations.

 

Quiet mind

What Infertility has taught me

I see my infertility as a time and space where I am able to explore myself and who I am.

The fundamental question of, “what is my purpose”, “what is my calling”, “who am I” is something that I have been working through while regaining my sense of balance in the four quadrants (health, wealth, spirituality, and relationship). My world was rocked off balance as soon as I entered my job and from the moment I left of my leave, it’s been work to get myself back to who I am. I had to hit the darkest place of depression, anxiety, and panic attacks because of infertility to regain my voice and be strong enough to walk away. The whole month of April was a loss in the sense of confusion and thrashing. I kept asking myself the question, “what do I want?”. I had to face myself and see that one of the reasons of ‘desperation’ was that I wanted to leave where I worked so desperately I was willing to change my life and use a child as a legit excuse. That was one of the stories running in my head. That is not a space to bring a child into, my Spirit baby wants to be wanted and to be loved. That is why when I chose to continue being off work and being unpaid. I had chosen me and my family over an organization. This post has been in draft for four months.

I can’t tell you how raw this is writing this, and I hope that this blog is not found by my organization, but it circles back to, what choices do we make in life to get away from something we don’t want? What if I chose what I do want and be willing to cut cords from anything and everyone who is trying to take my energy away. Actively choosing to live and choosing change.

When I let go of the idea of the next big job and just really focused on why I would want to get up in the morning, I realized that all of these side businesses are meaningless and not useful. I actually love working with people and students who have a disability. I want to get them to work.

Infertily has taught me how to be a parent because from what I know, it’s not a walk in the park. But because I’ve had to reassess who I am, and what I want, as well as what is important to me, I know that while I may be knocked off my feet, I will have something to land on.

I know I would like to do some more personal development, which is why I will be working with a transition coach, Jessie Herald.


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The dirty secret of infertility.

The dirty secret of infertility is the massive effect it has on our whole well-being and the shame. If there’s one thing I know for sure is that being diagnosed with and struggling with infertility can bring up a whole slew of unwanted negative emotions. One of the toughest to deal with is SHAME. When we try to conceive, and bear our own biological children and have difficulty, we may start to think thoughts such as “I’m no good. My body is busted or what will my parents and friends think if I get IVF? What if I’m barren?” It can be debilitating or freeing, depending on your perspective.

Debilitating because we can sink deep into the hole of despair that there is something wrong.

Freeing, because we can see it as an opportunity and be grateful we have the medicine to do IVF and fertility treatments. This science is about 30 years old, which is younger than me. The first ever IVF was doing in the late 70’s, Isn’t it amazing how far we have come that we can actually safely freeze embryos?!

We need to get on camera and TV and talk not about just egg quality, we need to talk about shame, mental health, depression, anxiety and all of these things that are and can be true with infertility. I don’t understand why this not happening. I hear the main doctor of Anova speaking on the breakfast program what we need to do to increase our chances of getting pregnant, and love for her speak about the impact fertility has on mental health and see fertility treatments as a gift!

I am not ashamed of not being able to conceive on my own. For whatever reason, there is a block and I’m working on myself through personal development, grounding myself, reminding myself who I am to be able to bring forth a life that will be completely reliant on me.

To have a positive conception, we need to actually be able to receive. I don’t know what the magical formula is but by dismissing mental health with fertility treatments is dismissing the rest of the person. I imagine a chicken walking around without a head.

From my support group, I know from the stories of 11 other women that none of the clinics that they attend check-in with the women and ask them to participate in any mind-body or counseling. This, in my opinion, is so key would alleviate so much pain from the process. I also know that it takes time to warm up to a donor egg, donor sperm, and surrogacy. It took me two years to warm up to IVF and there is not shame in that. Everything in its due process.

We need the tools that no one has taught us to cope with constant grieving and uncertainty. We need to learn how to re-balance and put fertility into one box of our life and not make it our entire life. I understand how it can get to be a runaway train but we are the conductors of the train and can choose our speed or even choose to stop. Look at the roses and flowers growing by the side of the tracks, aren’t they just beautiful?

Stop being ashamed of your “lacking” and see it as an opportunity to learn about you. See it as an opportunity to grow. Look at it from a point of view of empowering and just how much more you will love that baby or your life without the baby because you took that time to step into a big challenge, a challenge you didn’t ask for but now it’s here. Either way it’s courageous.

You will know, that whatever you are faced with in life can be no greater than this, the act of creating life. What matters is how we choose to look and think about this journey.

Harry Potter metaphor: Sirius Black tells Harry

“You’re not a bad person. You’re a very good person who bad things have happened to. We’ve all got both good light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” We ALL experience shame in our lives, thus it behooves all of us to learn to manage it well. Instead of thinking of ourselves as bad or defective people, think of yourself as a hero of your own life, on your own hero’s journey, remembering that vulnerability and love are the truest marks of courage.

“Shame is a social concept – it happens between people – it also heals best between people. A social wound needs a social balm, and empathy is that balm. Self-compassion is key because when we’re able to be gentle with ourselves in the midst of shame, we’re more likely to reach out, connect and experience empathy.”
Brene Brown Daring Greatly.

I will continue to advocate for patients and be the fertility doula. I will continue to be vulnerable and face everything full on – for all those who are not ready to come out of the closet.

The only thing that is certain is uncertainty with infertility.

Embrace what is certain, you are a beautiful person with the tremendous capacity to love. Take a moment and love yourself.

Step into the process and be fully part of it. Talk about it. Tell everyone. You’ll be so surprised that every 6th person you talk to will have the same story as you. Not only are you healing yourself but the person who you are speaking to.

I want people to know that there is NO shame is seeking mental health support. It has saved me. There is no shame in having fertility challenges.

If I had not spoken out and used my voice then I would have not been able to make a change for other patients.

I’m grateful for the pain because we need the darkness to get to the light. But we also need the tool to know how to get past the darkness & any shame.

I am your fertility doula. I will speak for you till you are ready.

You are loved.

 

 

Fertility, Vulnerability & embryo transfer

Listen to Husband talking about his thoughts about the Embryo Transfer

Vulnerability and fear

From the moment the date for the embryo transfer was set ten days ago, I have attempted on more than on occasion to post to social media that this is what we were about to do. I’ve written and deleted various phrases and sentences that would allow me to click and post. It’s interesting to me, that even I, who is so incredibly open about this, in an effort to educate, balked at the idea of really letting that much vulnerability out. There are three embryos have been frozen since December of 2016. We had chosen the strongest one to be unfrozen and thawed to be transferred first. Yet, the idea of publicly either celebrating or grieving, so in the moment, made me pause and face the fear of vulnerability like never before. Perhaps this is what someone else goes through who doesn’t talk about their fertility journey to their closest people because they are afraid of showing their vulnerability and that can be very scary.

My Why

Why do I bear all and bear witness to what happens behind the closed doors of a fertility clinic so publicly? It’s because there are others who don’t and won’t for whatever personal reason talk about this topic. Whether it being, shame, guilt, self-blame, or other reasons, they need to know there are others. Today as we said goodbye to the support group , we all said how powerful and empowering it was to be in a group where we could share similar stories. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, IVF, the whole process is a whole body-mind process. Read that again, it’s a process. It’s not just someone, a friend of a friend “doing IVF”, it’s me, sharing. You may know me, or are getting to know me; here I am and thank you for coming for the ride along with me as I ride the journey.

The IVF infertility secret desire

I kept hoping that bottle of wine and one romantic sexy night (while relaxing) will do the trick, but this has not happened despite my best-laid plans and intentions. I would love to have just one person in the bedroom with me, and that is my Husband, but instead, I have a goddam orgy. From the moment this started, I’ve had to re-do me and learn some lessons about myself in the true preparation of parenthood, which may God have mercy, is also a crapshoot.

I’m having sex with 7 people at once

orgy

With the rawness of these procedures the sexiness of it all the simple act of sex or love making is stripped to a needle, an ultrasound wand, an ultrasound technician, the doctor, at least three nurses, the embryologist (plus his assistants) and the acupuncturist. This is the modern day baby. I’m making a baby with all these people. We are all in the orgy together. They are all in the bedroom with me. I don’t even mention the security guard in the lobby of the building, maintenance folks and so on. Every time we try again to have a child, all of us people get together and do it together. No less than 7 people have been intimate with the vag, sometimes three at the same time. I would say I have so many people looking at my reproductive parts that I don’t even blink when I’m told I have to take my pants down.

I was talking to someone on the phone and they said, “maybe you will get pregnant on your own”, my mind couldn’t even process that could happen. Someone needs to teach me how that actually happens. You mean it just happens?

As we head into the first ever embryo transfer I’ve been told my organs look fantastic, the shape of my uterus is ethereal, there are no cysts and I have been told by quite a few people that I look different (perhaps there is a glow to me?) or maybe that’s just the relaxed not stressed look? I’m taking this to mean that now is my time. 

What does an embryo transfer mean?

It means there already is a growing baby in a lab that is 5 days old and is about 300 divided cells, from the two cells, the egg, and the sperm. This baby has already survived and is alive and thriving. The only thing science doesn’t understand is why an embryo will attach and thrive or why it won’t.

 5 day year old embryo

Meet Elmo above

What I needed to do to prepare:

I’m taking been taking estrogen hormones twice a day, sticking them up my, um, my, right that thing. After 10 days, an ultrasound and blood work to check if the uterine lining is looking good and if it looks good I get crionone progesterone suppositories to stick up in um, ya, that thing. God, how many things must I stick up there?! This continued for 7 days till transfer day (in between I’m going to go for acupuncture) 

The day of the transfer

I had to have a full bladder for the procedure. Like an almost bursting bladder. The kind of bladder that you need to go pee but can wait. I had Patricia and Husband with me on the day of the transfer. I also had Seya there (remember her from IVF retrieval?) to do the acupuncture and to take care of us. She knows where everything is in the clinic and she was there earlier to prepare the room. I had asked her to choose a room that was different from the IVF retrieval as the retrieval was dramatic. Seya was amazing. She needs to be part of the process for every patient. We all need to be taken care of, just like Doula. She allows us to be in the moment and not think about the details. This needs to be part of all clinics everywhere. She brought me a nice warm blanket and put in the acupuncture needles. At one point she asked me where do you feel a blockage in your body. I scanned and felt a blockage in my throat and around the diaphragm. Seya went to the top of my forehead, touched a point and I felt like I was floating. I felt like I had sunk into my skin three layers down. Amazing. I put on my Tara Brach and got everyone to leave.

Soon after Seya came back, Husband and Patrica all suited up to go the operation room.

I was met by the embryologist, the doctor, the ultrasound tech, Husband and Patricia – we all there to have one big massive love making, baby-making session. A full out love orgy. I had to confirm my name and sign away. Dr. B, then put in a tube-like thing again up the vag, and then down the tube came the embryo with a flash of white on the ultrasound. All done in about 10 minutes. Lol, just as long as quickie 🙂 All professionals satisfied, they all left and Patrica plus husband and I, in full stirrups waited in the room for 15 minutes taking my mind off that I desperately needed to go pee. One nice thing they did in that room, was when I look up at the ceiling, there is a picture of the sky and clouds. So relaxing.

Finally, 15 minutes was up and ran with butt exposed to the washroom to relieve the pressure from the bladder. Ahhhhh……

Back to the hands of Seya for more acupuncture, lunch for some gnocchi and home. Far less drama than the retrieval. Now let the two week wait Hotel California begin.

That’s the medical process. That is the first 50%.

Now the actual mental emotions and mental spiritual prep. 

Don’t want to get attached to the outcome which is so hard. It’s like you can hope but not hope too much. I am feeling good. There is a fine line between craving, aversion and just letting go. I think right now I’m in the middle of these two.

I’ve been listening to Tara Brach meditations and as well some hypnosis.

Someone, please tell me if you prepared this much if you go pregnant naturally?

The likelihood of a transfer actually working is 40% up to 70% with the embryo glue.

In my support group, I know two women who did transfers, one did 2 and the other did 4 and none of them worked. We just found out that another did another transfer and it also didn’t work. 

There is nothing more I can do to increase my chances, maybe eat less dairy and refined sugar.

Medical interventions for the embryo transfer:

What the medical clinic is doing on their side is “assistive hatching” which means assisting the egg to hatch by applying a small laser to the shell so it literally hatches. They are also using this new thing called “Embryo Glue”. This helps with the embryo to stick to the uterine wall and actually implant.

Once they transfer, it’s up to God and the embryo glue to make things work, oh yes and the embryo deciding it wants to push through and grow further.

We then do two-week wait, meaning we wait two weeks to see the results.

And then it’s another 6 weeks of taking more progesterone and hoping for no miscarriage.

There is nothing more to do. 

To book an appointment with Seya please click here:
647.808.9156 www.channelhealth.ca


Please click here to know more about the journey and be able to ask me questions.

Please help the message come out by commenting on this post or any post in this blog.

“You should’ve asked” A pictorial on women’s mental load and the work they do

Just to change it up this week, lets talk about women’s mental load. While the fertility community is wrapped up in creating babies, the conversation that should be started at the same time and reviewed is what happens to women after the babes are here. When I went to a naturopath three years ago to look into why I’m not getting pregnant, I was intrigued that she started the conversation of, “why do you want to have children, is this because you want to or because you are supposed to do”. While a controversial question, and probably many women would be taken aback [‘why are you asking this just fix me and not question my motivation] I think it’s a valid question and so needed.

It took me ten long years to get to the answer of “yes, this is for me”, but still in my dark days wrapped up in the scope of fertility treatments, I asked myself who is this really for and if I’m fulfilling some need or just doing it because that’s what family wants?

I do look at this cartoon and hope for the best. I don’t know if I could go through another round of treatment and my head is coming around to the fact that I think I would be Ok with one genetic offspring and are open to adopting an older child, like a teen.

The workload for women never does stop.

I am grateful right now that I don’t have a care in the world and sometimes imagine what it would mean to take care of another human being 24/7. My body tells me that I think I could do one, but more then one would be overwhelming.

Let’s make sure to discuss expectations we have of each other as a couple before the baby come or before even the pregnancy. After all, if my big thing is balance and good mental health, then setting up expectations beforehand would save a lot of arguments and meltdowns.

I hope that with the looming embryo transfer that is coming up Husband and I can take a look at this cartoon below and have a very good deep conversation.

Please make sure to comment below about your thoughts. Feedback is always appreciated!

Emma

Here is the english version of my now famous “Fallait demander” !

Thanks Una from unadtranslation.com for the translation 🙂

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Infertility support groups spot the good vs the bad ones

Change your mindset to change your outcome. 

I’m highly critical of support groups that allow patients to stay in suffering mode, in my mind, support groups should help patients move forward, beyond their suffering. I have a low tolerance for bullshit. I have visited and participated in two support groups. Here is how to spot a good one vs. a bad one.

Experience Support group one: December 2016

We sit in a circle in the clinic under florescent lights. Each woman staring at their phone and playing with it. There is no eye contact, not even a laugh, occasionally someone takes out a kleenex and daps away the tears from their eyes. It’s silent and incredibly awkward. We are gathered here today to spill our guts out and sit in the stillness and the emptiness of sadness and suffering.

I’m here because I’m curious as to what other women have gone through and hope to find a group as well as a facilitator that doesn’t allow me to sit in my bullshit and suffering as well as the stories my mind has created but to help me move me forward.

The facilitator checks the clock for the fifteenth time waiting for the hand to strike 5:30 pm to get the session started. She tries small talk, the weather, the rain, the what movie have you seen lately, all to get one-word answers from women that seem they would rather be everywhere but there.

Finally, the clock strikes the magical number of 5:30 pm, the facilitator clears her throat and opens the floor with a booming cracked voice, “how is everyone doing today”. Panic arises, the women dart their eyes to the floor, all hoping they won’t be picked first, all hoping the person next to them will just blurt something out.

A wee voice speaks out, “I’ll go first”, says Daria (not her real name) a wave of relief hits the women thanking their lucky stars that for that brief moment, they don’t need to talk or share, even though eventually they know they will need to. After all, isn’t that why they came to the group, for support and to find compassion for their suffering?

Daria talks, her face looks incredibly stressed and her whole body looks like it’s about to crumble. Daria tells us her story and at the end she says, “I’m so proud of myself, I declared that I won’t go to family gatherings anymore, I won’t go to baby showers anymore and that I most certainly won’t step into a Babys’R’Us anymore”. She has lost three pregnancies to miscarriages and is waiting to find out if her final embryo would take.Tears

The women turn to look at Daria, nod their heads and silently compare their own story to hers. You can see in their eyes, either relief that they are better off than her, or feel worse because of being more down the rabbit hole of fertility.

The facilitator says nothing, encouraging Daria to just to keep going and be “in the moment”, in my mind, encouraging her suffering. No one moves when Daria starts sobbing uncontrollably, the eyes of the women just darting towards the lights. Perhaps they are looking for God up there? The kleenex box is thrown towards her direction and she picks out one tissue at a time.

This continues, the same thing, “copy and paste” for six other women sitting on those Tiffany blue couches. I’m getting more drained by the second of it, my soul fighting to not get sucked into their stories. The empath in me, seeing there is more to their fertility journey than they are aware of.


Quiet mindHow to spot a bad support group? When the facilitator allows participants to wallow.

What I’m trying to get across here is that this group was all about wallowing in their pain and being a victim in this journey. Trust me I’ve been here. I have been here and have had to allow myself to grieve, but at some point, I needed a kick in the ass to move forward. I need someone to get me out of the mud puddle so I can see that that the pavement right next to me is dry and that it’s really not that bad.


A good support group, take two

The room is silent as I enter, but you can sense the anticipation. We are all new and fresh to the group. Amira is sitting at the top of the table and I find my way to my friend who I met because we were going through the same fertility journey at the same time. We’ve kept in touch with since Sept. 2016, since I started publicly declaring about my fertility challenges. I can feel this support group will be different. I can feel we will be moving forward.

Amira, sits at the head of the brown square table, with that old trusty Kleenex box at the end. She intros herself and lets everyone know, that this group is different, this group is about changing our mindset because with infertility 50% of the journey is a mindset and the other 50% is the medicine and science.

Who are we in this group? It’s an all women’s group of educated professionals with fertility challenges. All on different stages of the journey through fertility. All of them seem to be in their mid-thirties – early forties. We all seem to have come to this group because we were looking for answers and needed a reset or a mind shift. Amira let everyone speak as long as they needed, but immediately gave them something that would help move them forward in their journey, saying, “find joy in the things that brought you joy”,  or “Change your mindset and then change your outcome. 

The goal of the group is to have us leave with our tanks full by the end of the 6 weeks rather than empty. To give us tools so the next time we hit a block, we can cope better. She has said that the people who follow the support group program often go on to get pregnant. Amira says she has many examples of this happening.

I believe her, even though it’s hard to hear without blaming myself that I haven’t done better….that inner judge, always ready to shoot me down faster than I can get up.

Amira says she has countless of stories that support her theory that by practicing mindfulness our mind releases. When we take care of ourselves first, the fertility comes naturally.


What makes a good support group?

First of all, they have a description of what they are trying to achieve, usually, it should be a set of skills that you get at the end of the group. When I asked my medical team to send me a support group that has less BS and more of moving forward, they all scratched their heads and had a hard time coming up with one that would fit me. They even tried to create one because really, there is only one good support group for infertility in ALL OF TORONTO!

Amira’s group which runs for 6 weeks (I’m in the second week) actually had a schedule and a set of outcomes and skills that someone can achieve when following her program. She doesn’t allow people to wallow in their pain but moves them gently along through their puddle of mud, helping them see that if we just stepped to the right or left of the puddle, we would be out of the mud. She challenges us to look at other alternatives and being mindful of our thoughts and words. 

We still check-in at the beginning, but there are processes and a reason for each time we meet with each other. As soon as there is a ‘breakdown’, the facilitator, with empathy, lifts that person up and moves them forward.

Our words that we say, are a reflection of our thoughts. Our thoughts have the power to change what the outcome is.
Eva Braveheart

Because I have really not thought “fertility” since the end of March, my mind is totally not in victim mode. I’m so glad I took this break, as I’m ready for the next step. I’m so glad I listened to my intuition to have taken that break, otherwise I think would have been completely broken by now. It’s even clearer to me now how much everything was about fertility. Every thought, action, word – everything.

This week with Amira, we did mindfulness and meditation. Our homework was to observe ourselves and do a meditation everyday.

Being present and watching my thoughts.

Noticing how my thoughts affect my body

When I started noticing my thoughts, I found that when I had thoughts that were centred around fear (and uncertainty), my body shut down. My throat started constricting and I started to choke.

My Mindful moments and not “mindfull”.

This week I drove my car completely in the present moment. Every time a thought came into my mind, I let it go and watched it float away. I remember every minute of that car ride.

I did a mindful meditation and felt the front of the brain become activated. My whole body just relaxed. Meditation alters your brain’s neuro network and I felt when it was happening. 

I used Gabrielle Bernstein’s’ technique, of breathing in for 3, holding for 5, and releasing for three.

I noticed how grateful I actually am with my fertility journey because all the issues and challenges that are coming up are helping me find myself – who I am as a person and what is my purpose.

My means goal is going to be to do 10 minutes of meditation from now till I get till June.

If I’m going to go for 10 days to silent retreat that is 8 hours of mediating a day, I need to start practicing!

If you need more convincing that meditation isn’t just funky science, Amira came across this article by CNN, “Can you train your brain to make better decisions?” I hope this article would some more incentive to spend at least 5 minutes a day to practice meditation. Actually, the benefits of practicing mindfulness have been confirmed by brain images using MRI.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/09/business/can-you-train-your-brain/


Signing up to Amira’s support group

Amira’s support group:

The desire to have a child could be a physically and emotionally challenging journey for those who are experiencing fertility issues. This 6-week Mind-Body Fertility Program is specifically designed to compliment and support fertility treatment for those who are trying to conceive.

The program will focus on mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques and emotional coping strategies to optimize the physiological and mental well-being of participants. Emphasis will be placed on learning mindfulness-based techniques as well as mutual support within the group through shared experiences in a safe environment. The group is co-facilitated by Amira Posner, MSW, RSW from Healing Infertility (www.healinginfertility.ca)


Resources:

I used to use the app, “Headspace”, but this time I used meditations by  www.tarabrach.com

InFertility and self-care. Sometimes I just need to stop and enjoy my coffee.

I realize that we all just need to sometimes just stop, go for coffee and laugh at the insanity of it all.  I mean, life is insanity. Honestly, don’t we all just need to stop, have a coffee, indulge in the most gluten, dairy, sugar filled pastry ever and go see people who know you better than you know yourself? I have two people like that outside of my usual support network. They happen all do acupuncture. 

Yesterday, I messaged Saviour Stephanie and asked her if she could see me. She has known me for over 8 years from the time I couldn’t walk because my sciatic nerve caused me to stop walking. I don’t think she would like the name I gave her but this is how I feel walking into her room. It’s a sanctuary on the 7th floor in the middle of downtown Toronto. A crazy, taxi, car and pedestrian-filled space. Stephanie used to be on the other side of the street, but then they started to build a condo and blast through the ground. She packed up her bags and moved across the street to an office building, but you wouldn’t know it once you enter her door. A simple massage table, her bookshelf, some relaxing music in the background and Stephanie’s welcoming smile offering the tea of the day. She is the one that saved me when I was down with such bad sciatica that I couldn’t get up and walk. She knows me. She knows more about me than I know about myself.

I wrote her that I would like to see her because I would like to come back home where I don’t associate acupuncture with it being a procedure. She, her room and the massage table bed are my home.

I deliberately kept Stephanie out of the fertility acupuncture rounds because she is my sanctuary. I go there and she just listens. She is just so in tune and knows me so well I don’t need to explain.

She sees my spirit and my soul. When she is working I can feel her sinking deeper between all the layers of my skin and connecting with my being. Can you just feel her magical presence with you right now? She advertises her herself as shiatsu and acupuncture, but that’s just the outside sign. Don’t be fooled by the cover. It took me a while to understand that she is so much more than that but when I got it, wow, was I ever grateful.

What I would really like is for the clinic to take care of me and not just my body, but the other parts of me as well. The SELF. The mental health piece. The part of me that you can’t see. That such an unrealistic expectation but I can dream, right? I need to go find my balance outside of The Clinic. I’m happy when Husband comes with me to the clinic because I think my brain sometimes goes into fight or flight mode at times, especially when I see the nurses who just follows follow directions and don’t think. Can people think for themselves?!

Saviour Stephanie put me on the table and put the needles in.

She calms my nervous system down from the fight/flight response. She just knows what to use and my body just sinks into her table. I repeat my mantra in my head. I’m safe. I’m safe. I can release and be at ease. I’m safe. On cue, my body and mind sink deeply and safely into her hands. Stephanie works diligently away, with movements so small that for someone who would be watching her, wouldn’t know she is doing work. Her Cranial Sacral work and her hands are liquid gold. A gentle soul who knows exactly what to do with every slight muscle movement she knows and understands the psycho-somatic memory my body has stored.

After Stephanie, I head to my favourite coffee shop and have a Cortada with a brownie and a view of Toronto. Today I stopped and sat in my favourite coffee shop and are grateful I have this medical leave so I can take time out as well as see Stephanie last-minute and be writing this out. How I love this view from Rooster Cafe and how much I just love these kinds of memories.

I think of all the people who I have talked to about this journey and that are reading this blog. From China, Saudi Arabia, Poland, South Africa, Kenya, Australia. A subject that crosses all international boarders. With all of this, I hope I have changed some views on IVF and fertility and redefining what a “mother” and a “woman” is. It is not just me bearing a child.

I think of my team of people who I assembled who are helping me on this journey and all of sudden everything is OK.

My personal trainer Calum Shaw says,”There is so much more to us than personal training because there is so much more to you than being out of shape”. He does more than just personal training. He knows there is more to training than working the muscles. He works on the whole being, just like Stephanie.

I put my hands on my heart and thank it for the life it gives me. I feel my breathe and thank it for the gift of life. Oh my gosh, it’s so important to stop.

Today I just needed to breathe and enjoy my coffee.

Today I’m just grateful.

All my love to anyone reading this.

xoxo

 

 

Jackie the movie: The meaning of life

Jackie: What is your criteria for a magnificent life?

Priest: Take control of your mind. We are the only creature on the planet that we can make ourselves miserable or make ourselves euphoric simply by the state of our thoughts.

PRIEST

There comes a time in man’s search for meaning, when one realizes — there are no answers. (beat) When you come to that horrible, unavoidable realization — you accept it. Or you kill yourself. Or you simply stop searching.

I have lived a blessed life. And yet every night when I climb into bed, turn off the lights, and stare into the dark, I wonder…is this all there is? Every soul on this planet does.

And then, when morning comes, we all wake up and make a pot of coffee.

JACKIE (O.S.) Why do we bother?

Jackie catches up to John Jr and picks him up. Twirls him.

PRIEST (O.S.) Because we do. You did this morning, and you will again tomorrow.

Jackie stops to watch her laughing children.

PRIEST (O.S.) God, in his infinite wisdom, has made sure…it is just enough for us.

Quote taken from “Jackie the movie”, script and link located below. 

Jackie Movie


I posted this script quote from the script, as its right in line what I’ve been writing about with mental health and fertility. I love the subtle little things (about kids) that are written into the script. I know that we are on the only ones that can change our reality by choosing how we look at situation. There are many angles that can be taken. Its choosing which angle I look at it. Having moved through a “mini” breakdown in past two weeks, (more in next post) I can see how hard it also it can be to move and change my point of view. Its taken great effort and following my intuition.

Some More Inspiration that helped me move forward:

Tony Robbins and Oprah

http://www.oprah.com/video_embed.html?article_id=64700