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Archive for February, 2010

This is probably one of the hardest decisions a couple going through infertility has to face.  When do you decide to get more aggressive with treatments and how far are you willing to go?

There are many factors that go into this decision process and the number one would be your age.  The older you are the more aggressive you might want to be considering since time is a factor and these treatments do take some time just to get them started.  Another important factor would be diagnosis, if there is one yet.  Many times it takes going through more aggressive treatments to figure out exactly what is going on but also depending on your diagnosis it can determine whether you would be a good candidate or not.  Don’t waste months being in denial of your situation and not getting your standard tests completed. Too many times couples wait and then find out it might have been a simple fix or maybe it is not but at least they know the answer.

The next factor would be financial, and given most insurance companies cover little infertility costs this is something to take into account.  I firmly believe this should be treated like any other disease and women should get coverage on treatments within reason.  There is no need to put a 40 year old through 3 IUI’s before she can try IVF meanwhile wasting another 3-4 months and possible more loss. But that is the state of our affairs currently.

Of course the treatments are extensive and mentally challenging, but with the right support systems and coping skills you can manage it.  I highly recommend getting all the support lined up from the beginning of deciding to go down this journey.

Sit down with your spouse and have an honest conversation about what each person wants out of the process. How long are you both willing to do this? How much money are you willing to spend?  How far will you go medically?  Would you do IVF, surrogate, donor eggs, adopt ect?  Before you rule out anything, get the facts to make an educated decision.  Every option won’t be right for every couple, but it’s important to either get united on your stance or compromise.  You can’t do this alone, you need each other to support and cheer you on to the next level. It is taxing on the relationship and can be more so if you aren’t in agreement on the timeline or treatment plan.

Most of all have faith and believe it can happen. I have seen the impossible happen!

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So, you may be asking, what does mindfulness got to do with it and how is it supposed to help my situation?  Great question and this just dawned on me the other day while I gave a mind and body talk for Resolve.

Here’s some definitions of mindfulness:

Mindfulness, a deceptively simple way of relating to experience, has long been used to lessen the sting of life’s difficulties, especially those that are seemingly self-imposed. “a moment-by-moment awareness” Mindfulness lies at the heart of Buddhist psychology. Mindfulness is a skill that allows us to be less reactive to what is happening in the moment. It is a way of relating to ALL experience-positive, negative, and neutral-so that our overall level of suffering is reduced and our sense of well-being increases.
So whether you are going through this journey or not Mindfulness is a great tool to deal with suffering and pain in all areas of life. It just so happens that there has been a lot of research done on what helps women and couples go through this infertility journey and Mindfulness is one technique or practice that is getting a lot of attention.
I have to admit I wasn’t very mindful prior to my infertility journey, but now I embrace the moments I have and it has helped me tremendously in dealing with all challenges in life.  Usually whatever is happening NOW is ok and we can handle. So if you can get out of your head chatter, out of the what if’s and the should of, would of, and could of…then you will be better off.  And in the end isn’t happiness what we are all looking for?
What are examples of Mindlessness?

-rushing through activies without being attentive to them
-breaking or spilling things because of inattention
-failing to notice subtle feelings of physical tension or discomfort
-forgetting a person’s name as soon as we have heard it
-being preoccupied with the furture or past
-snacking without being aware of eating
The more we stray from the present the more we suffer. Mindfulness can help us to step out of our conditioning and see things freshly- to see the rose it is. This is why most professionally lead infertility support groups incorporate Mindfulness practices into their groups.
We are re-starting our group here in the next 2 weeks, but new members are always welcome to come along during the ongoing group to get started.  We don’t want you to have to wait to get support.

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Infertility involves grief and loss whether it is a profound distinct loss at the onset of treatment or a gradual accumulation of losses over time.  The losses of infertility may involve the loss of individual and/or couple’s health, physical and psychological well-being, life goals, status, prestige, self-confidence, and assumption of fertility, loss of privacy and control of one’s body, and anticipatory grief at the possibility of being childless.  Infertility may typically involve grief responses such as shock, disbelief, anger, blame, shame, and guilt, while over time, feelings of loss of control, dimished self-esteem, chronic bereavement, anxiety, and depression may persist.

It has even been suggested that infertility is a disenfranchised grief in that infertility is a loss that can lead to intense grief, although others may not recognize it or perceive it as minor.  This is a different kind of grief because the lost relationship has no legitimacy, is socially unrecognized or unacknowledged.  The griever is typically not recognized as having suffered a loss and justified in grieving.  This makes this type of grief as a more complicated bereavement because the usual supports that facilitate grieving and the healing process are absent.  Infertility may be so socially unacceptable that the same of the diagnosis, treatments for it, and/or family-building alternatives may lead the infertile couple to keep his or her losses hidden to minimize social stigma.

Given all of this it is critical that you don’t wait until you can barely move through your day to get support.  In fact I believe it is important once you realize that you are on this journey to seek out a qualified infertility counselor/therapist and a support group to deal with the process.  This journey can be the hardest thing a couple will go through in their life and it doesn’t have to be done alone, nor should it.  Because it is hard for others to grasp the pain you are dealing with I do encourage you to get further support.  Resolve.org is a great place to start to find clinicians and groups in your local area.  Here in Oakland, CA we have support groups, workshops, and individual work. Contact me for further information at amoreena@gmail.com.

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