Saturday, September 22, 2012

Putting IF in Its Place

Welcome ICLWers!  If you're coming to this blog from other than ICLW, please check out the box on the right column and see what it's all about!  Go ahead...connect with others who "get it."  You won't be sorry you did.

I'm a therapist specializing in infertility and adoption.  I could go on and on about why I'm writing here, but here are the basics:
  • I've dealt with both infertility and adoption
  • I feel I've navigated both waters pretty well (and about a year of time when I was adamant child-free living was for me)
  • I'm convinced that helping others is precisely why I had to experience the heartbreak and difficulty
Welcome!

__________________________________________

 
 
There was a time in my former IF life when I would be moving along swimmingly and the smallest, most trivial thing would remind me that I was infertile. 

Once when I was hiking I stopped to marvel at the beauty of a tree.  Harmless, right?  Eh-hem.  Here were my thoughts:

"What a gorgeous tree!  I wonder how old it is?  I wonder what this place looked like when it was just a seedling?  Oh!  Look!  What a cool branch with a little nook to sit in!  I bet I could climb that tree and sit there with a great book for a couple of hours.  The branch should be pretty strong.  I bet it's strong enough for a treehouse let alone me!  Aww...a treehouse.  Wouldn't it be fun to build a treehouse?  I can picture T and our son or daughter making a weekend project of that.  I bet they'd be all cute and dirty in overalls..."

It went downhill from there.  Trust me. 

The point is, when one is dealing with IF, IF is in everything.  In every thought.  In every experience.  In every wish.  In every seemingly benign walk down the street.  Heck, I bet a bowl of alphabet soup would randomly spell out "baby," just because an infertile was eating it.

Today I was researching for a work-related thing and came across this book that I want to purchase from Amazon:

When I went to add it to my wish list, this is what I found:


If anybody ever asks me the definition of irony again, I'm just going to show them these screen shots.  Seriously.  IF is inescapable. 

Obviously there are things that happen in our universe that are totally out of our control.  IF in particular feels like one gigantic chunk of chaos, tossing us every which way until we (hopefully) find some sort of footing.  However, it doesn't have to be that way.

Hear me out!

Think about this.  When we are living life in the infertile world, IF becomes prominent.  Obviously.  It probably looks something like this:


In reality, though, your life is filled with many more things aside from IF.  I gather you don't sit around all day and think about IF, right?  Even if you use the bathroom and take a shower, you're doing something else besides dealing with IF.

What would happen if you put IF in its rightful place?  What would happen if you start to realize and emphasize the things outside of IF?  It might look something like this:


IF is there. And it's prominent.  But it's not the majority of your life.  You're a wonderful person with lots going on and you deserve to find some peace by putting IF in its rightful place with the rest of the important things.

Starting today!  Give yourself an hour to do something else besides getting on Dr. Google and finding the next New Age remedy to try.  Put IF in its proper place.  YOU are the boss of IF!  It's time to feel empowered!

Until next time...be well,

~M


P.S. You must excuse my bad art...or laugh at it.  Whichever. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

They're coming! Those Darned Holidays

It's September.  2012.  Sometimes I cannot get a full grasp on how fast time goes, can you?

Coupled with infertility, time going by fast is not a good thing.  When you suddenly realize that the friend who was first "trying" with you now has a 5-, and 3-year-old, it hits you.  Hard. 

Once back-to-school starts, it's all over!  Because Halloween is knocking on your door, and then it's Thanksgiving inviting Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year, and Lunar New Year all in right with it.

And let's face it.  These holidays are super kid focused.

How many of you see the miniature super heroes begging you for candy in your neighborhood and want to cry (or scream, or run away)?  How many of you secretly resent your in-laws for not reciprocating in the whole holiday gift-giving, because you don't have children.  Just another reminder, right? 

What do you do when you want so much to be a part of the kid-focused celebration?  What do you do when you have to shop for gifts for your 8,000 nieces and nephews....you obviously have to visit the dreaded "kid" parts of stores.  What do you do when you get the "So???  When's the baby coming???" questions from family and friends during holiday gatherings.

Short of becoming a raving lunatic (at least publicly), taking care of your emotional self during the holidays is extremely necessary.  Here are some things to consider:

  • Seek the support of a loving spouse or friend who "gets it."
  • Have a bunch of tools in your toolbox for answering unwanted kid questions.  Here's a great article with a few ideas.  And here's another great article from the Stirrup Queen.
  • Begin your own holiday tradition for just you and your partner; You are a family after all!
  • Love on your pets!  Or dress them up.  Or both.  Santa photos with the family parakeet, anyone?
Yes, I actually did this to my poor doxie. He's smiling. No really, he is.


  • Journal, journal, journal.  Nothing is as healing as a good journal vent.  If you really want to begin a healing process, write a letter in your journal to your baby.  What do you want him/her to know about what your holidays will be like?
  • Distract yourself with a wonderful new (or old) hobby, preferably something that ignites the creator in you.  Start a garden (indoors if you're in a cold area), draw, crochet, make gifts for people....the possibilities are endless!
This is just a small list of things to do for yourself during the upcoming holidays. I'll be talking more about it as they draw nearer.  For now...deep breaths.  Live presently.

Until next time...

~Maria

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Welcome ICLW! Some Funnies for You...

Hello to ICLWers (and everyone else, of course)!  I'm a therapist who's dealt with infertility and adoption, and I like to write about how to maneuver those crazy waters even when you feel like you're about to sink.  No easy task for sure.  Welcome, and I hope you find something helpful on this blog today!

I was perusing through my old personal blog and found a time period when I was doing "bad art."  True, my artistic ability is next to nil, but it sure gave me pleasure to put something funny out there...especially when it had to do with making fun of infertility (and mostly myself, actually).

So, I decided to post my personal IVF Story, funnies style.  May it bring you a wee bit of joy today.

Holy meds, Batman!
Day 1 of stims...not so bad.

Day 2 of stims...not bad either!  I can totally do this!


Follicle Check


Yes.  This really happened.

 
Belly, bruises, and pain, oh my!  And a safety pin to hold my pants up.

Yes. The consignment shop really did open during my cycle.
In my neighborhood.  Where I always walk. Grr!





Oh joy.



Yup.  Really happened.
He didn't die.  Damn anesthesia held me back.  




These funnies brought to you in part by IF brain.  When in doubt, laugh.  And for more funny plugs (100% shameless) visit Laughing is Conceivable and 999 Reasons to Laugh at Infertility.

If you could add your own cartoon here, what would it be?  Shoot....DO draw your own cartoon!  And give me your link!  I'd love to see it!

May you giggle at least once today.  Until next time.

Be well,
~M






Saturday, August 18, 2012

Disappearing Act and The Red Thread

That would be three months of disappearing (chagrin, chagrin).  Whoa.  My apologies for that lovely disappearing act.

On to Act II entitled "Sticking Around So People Don't Get Confused and Wonder If the Therapist Has Abandoned Them Without More Fabulous Resources to Help Cope with The Ridiculousness that is Infertility." 

I'm still here!  With plenty of resources for your infertility and/or adoption journeys.  Let's start with this one:

I'm reading this wonderful book called The Red Thread by Ann Hood.


Have you ever heard about the Chinese belief behind a red thread?  I don't describe it nearly as eloquently as the author, so I shall take it from her beginning pages:

There exists a silken red thread of destiny.  It is said that this magical cord may tangle or stretch but never break.  When a child is born, that invisible red thread connects the child's soul to all the people - past, present, and future - who will play a part in that child's life.  Over time, that thread shortens and tightens, bringing closer and closer those people who are fated to be together.

Isn't that lovely?  It's a theme in the adoption world, but I attribute it to infertility as well.  I like to think that this red thread exists even prior to one's birth.  I know we hear it often enough: "Your baby is on its way to you."  Sometimes it's difficult to know or believe that when in the midst of such terrible pain.  

The red thread is a wonderful visual...your baby is on the other end of it; maybe getting tangled all up in it and stretching it out just waiting for the time that the thread begins to shorten and bring you closer to one another. 

If you practice meditation or guided imagery practices, use this one: Envision yourself holding one end of the thread, knowing that your baby is on the other end.  What does that feel like?  If your baby could hear you, what would you say?  Imagine the thread getting shorter and shorter while you patiently and calmly wait with outstretched arms (I know.  I'm asking kind of a lot).

Someday the thread will be only a speck as you hold your little one in your arms.  If you have chosen a child free lifestyle, rest assured you will touch the lives of some children...even if they are all grown up when they finally get to have you in their lives.

And for those who have been fortunate to become parents, here is a wonderful fairy tale in the same vein to read your child(ren).  It's geared toward adoption, but is a fabulous story all around:


May you find at least three reasons to smile today!


Until next time, be well,
~M

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Welcome ICLWers!

Happy ICLW to everyone out in the blogosphere!  It's always such a great time during this week to connect with others and read new and interesting blogs.

Welcome to From Gutter to Stars -- You can read all about the blog title here.  I'm a psychotherapist specializing in infertility and was in the trenches for six years learning how to take care of myself while dealing with this incredibly tumultuous disease, which affects body, mind, and soul.

After hanging out here on the "other side," I realized I wanted to help this community that's so near and dear to my heart.  I'm hoping there's a little something you can take away today that will help you cope and maybe even find a little smile while dealing with infertility.   Welcome!

_____________________________________________________

Today I'd like to write about happiness.  Seemingly simple, happiness often evades those working through a life crisis or traumatic experience.  I mean, how can one be happy when hurting so much, right?

Infertility is special.  It invades every aspect of life, and it's chronic.  So, even when there are those moments that bring a smile to your face and cause you to feel that warm inner glow, in the next moment it's marred by the mere sight of a pregnant woman or baby carriage.  "Congratulations!" you say to the next announcement, all the while wanting to be happy.  You muster up the will to smile broadly, but true joy escapes you.  Again.

Today I'm writing about one small thing you can do to buoy your spirits: Gratitude.  I know, I know...you hear them all the time, right?  Those placations that never really help.  "Oh, just be thankful for what you do have."  Somehow that's supposed to make you pregnant, I suppose, eh?

Um, no.

However!  Reminding yourself of some of the wonderful things in your life may boost your spirit long enough to ease the burden a bit.  And, really, if you feel lighter for even 5 minutes in your day, isn't it worth it?

So, here's a small task: When you wake up in the morning, write down three (or five or ten) things you're grateful for.  I don't care how tiny they are.  For example, this morning I was grateful that I woke up without a stiff neck for the first time in months (thank you, new pillow!). 

Just as a small experiment to yourself, rate your happiness on a scale from 1-10 at the beginning of seven days; do this task for seven days, then rate your happiness again.  If you go up even half a point, you know this works for you. 

What's on your grateful list today?

And, just because I'm a nerd who loves research, I have to plug the Positive Psychology Department at UPenn.  If you want to know truly where you stand on various topics such as Happiness, Optimism, and Gratitude, head on over to the Authentic Happiness Research Center and take a questionnaire or two.  They're free!  I'm pretty sure you have to register for a user ID and password, but it's all free. 
 

May you have a fantastic Tuesday.  Until next time...


Be Well,
~M

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Scientific Art

It used to be that the science of psychology was not a science at all. When I received my undergraduate degree in psychology, it was a Bachelor's of Art. Admittedly, there are a few parts of psychology that are an art still. But, most of this world has learned how to study the brain and human behavior scientifically.

I have to say, though, that I love when art and science come together. I love when the rigour and concrete findings of scientific minds meld with the shades of gray and bright and dull colors within the world of art. The science is the clean, hard lines; the art is the softness that rounds it up. They balance each other out.

I was thinking about this idea today when I remembered a video I had seen maybe two or three years ago about a woman who had a concrete, explainable experience that resulted in a little chaotic, almost artistic outcome. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is a brain scientist who suffered a stroke; her story is amazing. And the way she tells it brings tears to my eyes every single time (and some laughter, too..she's funny!).  I invite you to share in a little scientific art today.






May you find the same peace out of your choas today. Until next time...


Be well,
~M

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Holiday You've Been Waiting For (and waiting, and waiting...)

Have you seen them?  I doubt you've had a chance to miss them (unless you've decided to hibernate under a rock, which I would totally understand).  You know what I'm talking about...

The 50,000 neon signs screaming "It's Mother's Day tomorrow!!!!!"

Okay, that's probably a slight exaggeration, but when trying to conceive, it can feel like an understatement.  I think I may have received about 10 email reminders from FTD indicating Mother's Day was around the corner, then "Get moving it's almost here," then "It's not too late! Order now!"  At least half (if not more) of commercials on TV lately are all about what to do for moms, what moms want on this most special day of the year, and the fact that Mother's Day should be every year.

For those of you trying to conceive your first child, this day is especially difficult.  Moms all around you are basking in the glory of this fabulous day; a day that you've been hoping and praying and trying really hard to become a part of.

It's not the actual day, though, really....it's the big flashing reminder that you are not a mom (yet).

And that hurts.

So, how do you protect yourself from some of this pain?  One of the biggest issues surrounding trying to conceive is the feeling of a loss of control.  So, I suggest doing something on Mother's Day that gives you a feeling of control.  Here are some ideas:

~Plan a ladies' day with some friends with no children
~Have a fun day with your partner: A cheese and wine tour, lunch, shopping, massages, hiking, a picnic, camping for the weekend.
~Establish a brand new holiday to celebrate; it can be mom-related like "Mother-to-be Day" or totally random like "Cinema Supporters Day" (and go watch a bunch of movies).  What would your new holiday be?

The trick is to plan this day.  It puts you in control, and it gives you something to look forward to.

Here are a couple of articles with some other suggestions:
Surviving Mother's and Father's Day (from The American Fertility Association)

If you're waiting to adopt, here is a fantastic article just for you (actually, a few of the things go for IFers, too): A Mother's Day Love Letter to Women Waiting to Adopt (from The Adoption Goddess)

Until next time...


 Be well,
~M

Friday, May 4, 2012

Got a Minute?

Sometimes the experience of infertility (or any mental health issue, really) is so overwhelming and disorienting that we have trouble keeping our thoughts together.  We continue to try to think our way through it all the while dealing with some pretty intense emotions. 

Now, I do agree that the way we think affects the way we feel; it's actually supported via science.  But, sometimes we just need to stop.  We need to stop and be.

I'm a gigantic proponent of mindfulness meditation, though I don't practice it nearly enough myself.   Mindfulness is a way to absolutely pay attention to whatever is happening in your present moment.  Right now, I hear birds chirping outside of my window, and the recycle truck just pulled up to pick up my recycles.  There's a breeze coming through the window, and I feel it cool and damp on my skin.  I feel my dog's warmth as he lay next to me.  As I'm thinking about the breeze, the dog, and the recycle truck, I'm not worried about anything.  I'm not thinking about getting ready for work, or even publishing this post.  I'm fully present and aware (listening to my fingers hit the keyboard).

Bottom line: I'm giving myself a break.  And it feels great.

Whenever I fall off the mindfulness bandwagon, I gently redirect myself to start again.  Sometimes I can't begin my practice over by sitting for 15 minutes or more, so I start with the smallest increment.  Sometimes that's 30 seconds.  That's right!  30 seconds.  If you don't feel like you have 30 seconds in your day, then you really need mindfulness.

If you happen to have a full minute today, try this:





Ahhh....you deserved that.

Until next time...


Be well,
~M

Monday, April 30, 2012

Infertility in a Word Cloud

This is the last day of HAWMC!  Of the 30 posts this month, I completed a grand total of...

::drum roll::

Fifteen.

Hm.  I think it's safe to say that I will not be grabbing that fabulous HAWMC badge that says I completed 30 posts in 30 days and posting it on this blog.  *sigh*

And yet, I don't feel as if I've failed.  I'm pretty sure that through National Infertility Awareness Week, the Health Activist Writer's Month, and International Comment Leaving Week, I got some serious awareness out there about infertility and how to live when you're dealing with such a difficult disease.

And now...this last prompt of HAWMC asked us to make a word cloud with words relating to our health focuses.  Have you ever done this?  It's so fun!  Check out Wordle

Here's mine:

The obvious word that pops out is "infertility."  I thought it interesting that the words "make" and "baby" showed up as they did....kind of ironic actually.  A few other words like "adoption," "feelings," and "words" are great, and I think they should be bigger.

I think one word that really resonates with me here is "feel."  Many times what happens with anyone dealing with intense negative emotions is that there is an immediate need to feel better; whereas actually feeling the emotions helps the brain process them out and open the door for healing.  

I know.  Scary. 

And not for the faint of heart.  But, if you've dealt with infertility, you can handle anything!

Until next time...


Be well,
~M

Monday, April 23, 2012

Don't Ignore: Your Feelings

Today HAWMC (Day 23) says we can write about whatever we like!  Most excellent!

(You can start at HAWMC Day 1 here)

Today I'd like to focus on this year's theme for National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW): Don't Ignore Infertility.  Since I'm a therapist, I naturally think in terms of self care and the psychosocial effects inherent in experiencing this emotionally-crushing disease.

Sometimes I'm struck by fellow infertiles who feel ashamed and embarrassed by their emotional reactions to the struggle to have a baby.  It's so normal to feel that way!  And yet, I am sometimes still stunned.

Just today I received a phone call from a wonderful friend of mine who is going for her first IVF consultation tomorrow (In vitro fertilization; Yes, another acronym.  The infertility world is replete with them!).  Over the last couple of years, she's had plenty of other things in her life to take care of, and making a baby went lower on the list; even though she diligently paid attention to her fertility health via diet, etc.  So, going for an IVF consultation obviously brings the whole baby thing back to the forefront of her mind.

And on the top of her emotional list.

She described a scenario where she recently went to dinner with her husband and several of their close friends (couples).  All of the other women there either had children or were pregnant, and as one can imagine, the ladies' topic of conversation leaned heavily on the whole being-a-mom thing.  To make matters worse, the way the table was set up, she wasn't even sitting next to her husband!

Within a few minutes, my beautiful friend found herself excusing herself to have a good cry in the restroom.  "I felt like such an a__hole!" she said.  "It's so silly!"

But, it's not.

It's not silly at all.  Can you relate?

I can't tell you how many people I've run in to over the years who felt like their intense reaction to others' conversations was silly; they feel as if they should not be reacting that way at all.  They blame the hormones.

(Okay, hormones can play a part in it at times, too, but not always.)

Whether or not hormones are a part of the picture, one is still very much entitled to intense emotional reactions to all things baby when dealing with the inability to have that very basic thing that everyone else seems to have.

Even worse: It's taboo.  People feel ashamed, embarrassed, and isolated, because they can't talk about it.  They fear being pitied or told "just relax," or "go on vacation."  They fear not being understood.  They fear their inability to contribute to such conversations makes them appear rude or inconsiderate.  Not only are they attempting to conceal their own agony, they are trying to make sure everyone else is okay by not having to console them or stop their conversation.  They fear making the other person feel bad.  When the agony becomes too much, they leave the conversation.  They go to the restroom and cry.

So, in line with this year's theme, I'm going to say: Don't Ignore Your Intense Emotional Reactions to Infertility.  Your feelings.  They're important, and so are you.

You're not silly.

You're not a jerk.

You're not a loser.

You're not crazy.

You're not abnormal.

In fact you are the opposite of all of these things, and you deserve to feel your feelings just like anyone else.

So first, acknowledge those feelings.  Write them down.  Blog them!  What are they?  Here are a few I can suggest:  Hurt, brokenness, anguish, jealousy, envy, shame, bewilderment, anger, depression, feeling lost, confusion, frustration, anxiety.

Second, Remind yourself that it's okay to feel absolutely everything you're feeling.  Look at those feelings, and know they are transient.  You will smile again (even before you have your baby or decide to live childfree). 

Lastly, nurture yourself.  Imagine that your baby is sitting in front of you feeling those feelings.  Imaging him/her at 5 years old hurting just the way you're hurting.  What would you do?  Hug her?  Take him for a bike ride?  Go get some ice cream?  Color?  Dance?  Whatever it is....Do. That. Thing.

Don't ignore your (valid, real, normal) feelings.

Acknowledge them (write them down).  Embrace them (take them for ice cream).  Then let them go (smile again). 

You can learn all about infertility through the excellent resources given by RESOLVE, The National Infertility Association.  Here are a couple of links to get you started:

What is Infertility?
National Infertility Awareness Week


Until next time...

Be Well,
~M

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Poetry, Acronyms, & Nonsense! Oh My!

Welcome NIAW, ICLW, and HAWMC bloggers!  

Holy cow is that ever a lot of acronyms.  Lemme 'splain..

NIAW = National Infertility Awareness Week by RESOLVE.  Though this blog is already dedicated to the disease of infertility, NIAW is an opportunity to connect with all others who write about, live with, know someone with, or simply want to talk more about this disease that affects 1 in 8 Americans.

ICLW = International Comment Leaving Week.  The Stirrup Queen -- A huge infertility advocate -- has set up this amazing link for bloggers who are interested in reading and connecting with other bloggers who write about....well, everything.  Generally, bloggers are a part of the ALI community (Adoption, Loss, and Infertility), but feel free to check it out and join!  ICLW is once a month, so if you missed this month, check it out for May.

HAWMC = Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge.  I've been a part of this challenge for all of April, though I have to admit, I've not been keeping up too well.  *sigh*  Challenge, indeed!  WEGO Health has asked health bloggers around the world to write about any particular health issue of interest.  Betchya can't guess what I chose!

So, today I'm writing HAWMC's Day 21, even though today is Day 22.  Why?  Because yesterday's prompt is more fun....and actually kind of nonsensical.  Who can go wrong with fun and nonsense?  Yesterday's prompt asked us to write a Madlib Poem via Language is a Virus.  Just like Madlibs of old, one plugs in words in the appropriate blanks, and the system generates a poem fashioned after a famous poet.  Naturally, I chose infertility-related words (or words I personally associate with infertility).  The poem is below....again, totally nonsensical, but I think, beautiful nonetheless.  Enjoy!


exquisite infertility's exquisite infertility

quietly i have never disturb, desperately beyond
any fertility, your laughter have their dynamite:
in your most grand cycle are things which distract me,
or which i cannot determine because they are too achingly

your amazing look wonderously will ungive me
though i have parent myself as pregnancy,
you grieve always barren by barren myself as miscarriage recognize
(stoping suddenly, shockingly) her proud loss

or if your cry be to handle me, i and
my wail will run very strikingly, simply,
as when the mother of this fertility ignore
the father grotesquely everywhere reading;

nothing which we are to educate in this baby learn
the parent of your aware child: whose family
grow me with the furbabies of its hug,
surviveing smile and joy with each embarrassing

(i do not laugh what it is about you that giggle
and work; only something in me try
the wonder of your laughter is shiney than all miscarriage)
hope, not even the ignorance, has such ashamed despair

- Maria & e.e. cummings

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Feel Like Giving Up?

Okay...

I think it's pretty clear that my schedule isn't going to allow for daily writing.  I'm sorry WEGO Health!  I will continue to write as much as I possibly can on a weekly basis!

Today is Day 18 of HAWMC, and the prompt is actually quite awesome:  Pick up a book, turn to a page, point to a random phrase or sentence, and write about it. 

(You can start at HAWMC Day 1 here)

I picked up this book recently since it sounded interesting and totally up my hippy alley:


One doesn't have to be into the same hippy stuff as I am to strive for "balance," "purpose," and "joy."  Am I right?

So, I flipped open this book and pointed to day 257, which is entitled "Don't give up; have faith."  I pointed to a random phrase.  It reads, "Once you determine the reason [you're about to give up], you can look at the situation in a different manner and use the solution you find to make a positive change to get past the point of giving up."

Wow.  This couldn't possibly be more true for the infertility community.  Many people are in the trenches for years and years before they finally reach resolution.  If you've dealt with infertility, how many times have you felt like giving up?  Like you couldn't possibly handle one more heartbreak of hearing of another person's pregnancy or experiencing another loss of your own?

For those in the adoption process, have you felt like giving up?  When your profile sits on that website for a year and you wonder why you haven't been chosen yet.  I recently read about someone who just experienced her third failed adoption, where the birth mothers all decided to parent for one reason or another.  Do you think she feels like giving up?  Or how about when a country closes its doors to adoption, and you were in line now having to switch up your plans?

All of these are valid reasons for wanting to give up.  And I believe that grieving through disappointments is super important.

What I think the above-referenced phrase is suggesting we do is what's called "reframing" in the psychotherapy world.  It means to try and look at the situation another way...in a more positive light.  Perhaps not an ideal light.  You're going for a slightly more positive way to look at the situation, so that you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get moving toward your goal again (after having grieved a bit).

I'm constantly struck by how strong the infertility and adoption community is.  You all have got some serious "reframing" muscles going on, even if you have to pick each other up off the floor once in a while. The bottom line?  You're not giving up.  And, if you're a hippy-ish person like me, you're maybe even "raising your frequency" (technically, this happens even if you're not hippy-ish, but whatever...).

Try this exercise, even if you don't write about it.  Point to a random sentence in a book today.  Is there any lesson you can learn from that sentence?

Until next time...


Be well,
~M

Saturday, April 14, 2012

My Dream Day

HAWMC Day 14 asks us to write about our "dream day."

(You can start at HAWMC Day 1 here)

I read an article recently (and dangit, I can't remember where, or I'd link it up for you) where the author stated something like, "If I always had good moments, how would I know they were good?  I need to have the bad moments to recognize the good moments."

Does that make sense to you?  On a very small scale example, I need to feel the exasperation of a flat tire in order to appreciate and feel happy that I have an otherwise reliable car.  It's the whole taking-things-for-granted thing.

Perhaps my dream day would be a majority of awesomeness with a hint of crap thrown in for contrast.  Like a perfectly proportioned spice.  Too much spice, and the flavor overpowers.  Not enough, and it's boring.  But, just enough, Goldilocks, and you've got yourself a winner!

Maybe I should include a French cooking class in my perfect day?  But, of course, I'd have to burn something to make it really worthwhile (I know I can do that really well). 

I have to say, this post has taken me to a place I didn't expect it to go.  I expected to write about coffee, sunrise, sunset, hikes in the woods, flower-picking, painting, photography, a spa day, lunch with friends, and laughter with The Hubs....maybe even a blog post or two.  Hmmm...

Last year The Hubs and I went on vacay and were enjoying a fantastic time on the beach.  There was just enough of a crowd to make it lively but not overcrowded.  The sun was warm and the water was cool and sparkly.  Kids played nearby, and the infertility bug had stopped annoying me long before, so I smiled at their antics.

Then I felt it.  Wait.  Was that a rain drop?  How is that possible?  It's sunshiney!  I looked over my shoulder, and there it was....a gigantic black rain cloud pelting rain on everything under its path.  By the time we packed up, we were being pelted by huge drops and hightailed it back to our car.  Once we got to the car, thoroughly soaked and panting from the run, we took one look at each other and Laughed.  Our.  Butts.  Off!

That was a really great day.  Lots of awesomeness and a dash of crap.  Perfect.

Of course, infertility feels like lots of crap and maybe, if one is lucky, a dash of "just okay."  Kind of like my homemade hummus.  I should probably tone down the garlic next time.

I'll be talking about how to handle those days in the future.  Right now....hang on to your "just okay" for dear life.  And if you happen to find awesomeness in the midst of infertility, burn it into your memory and congratulate yourself for being able to do so.

Until tomorrow...

Be well,
~M

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Things in My Head (Scared?)

Apologies for the radio silence over the last couple of days.  I'll cover HAWMC's Days 12 and 13 today.

(You can start at HAWMC Day 1 here)

Day 12 is "Stream of Consciousness Day."  I know....um, what?  It's actually a unique blog-writing style that I usually engage in when I keep posts private.  Ha!  The instructions are to write about whatever is in our head right this moment; "just write, don't stop, don't edit."

Yikes!  Here we go:

"That walk/run was really great with the sun shining and the birds chirping [seriously..that's in my head right now].  Jake [the dog] is really getting the hang of running with me.  What do I have to do right now for work -- sheesh if only the dog [a different dog] would stop barking at whatever she's barking -- *sigh* That's better.  Crap, I'm editing, I'm not supposed to do that....okay, here goes crazy punctuation and misspellings.  How the heck amd I supose to tie this to infertlity?  I have no idea. Um....well, running is great for icnreasing blood flow to the uterus, which is awesome for fertility.  Moderate running that is.  This is totally not taking me 15 minutes....I had no idea this exercise would be so difficult!  I feel like another run.  Bye!"

Whoa.  My head is weird.  Do you ever feel like that?  There's this great exercise in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) called thought stopping.  Whenever you feel as if there are a ton of thoughts that won't go away or a persistent thought that just keeps hanging around, tell yourself silently or out loud (I often use the out loud version): STOP!!!  Just STOP!  Sometimes holding your hand up in front of your face helps, and other times a visual of a stop sign helps.  I find relief with that technique often.

I can think of numerous situations where this technique is great for the infertile's mind.  Can you? 

_____________________________________________________

Day 13: Ten things you couldn't live without. 

You know that whole party question, "If you were stranded on a desert island...," right?  My answer would always change depending on if I'm stranded with Gilligan and crew....they had some awesome ideas!  What more could I possibly need?  


I'm assuming, however, that for the purposes of this post, I am alone on this island.  Though I cannot tie my entire list to fertility, I can connect the island isolation with the isolation of infertility.  Many people feel so, so alone.  You are not!  Check out RESOLVE for more info.  A big digression...sorry.  So, let's see....here's my top ten list off the top of my head (practical or not and probably out of order):

1) Two book series: The Clan of the Cave Bear and
2)  Harry Potter.
3) Elvis Presley vinyls to play on my
4) Crank-powered record player
5) A grill
6) Fishing gear
7) Seasonings
8) Camera
9) Hiking boots
10) My husband (okay, he's seriously not the last thing)

Wait.  I'm not on a desert island vacation?  Oops.  Hey, looking at this list, I'm realizing that these are some things that make me happy even not on a tropical island somewhere.

Well, except for the crank-powered record player.  Only because I don't have one.  Though now I'm thinking it might be cool to have one.  Another digression.

Point being, if you're dealing with infertility, it's so easy to get caught up in the what-ifs of trying to become a parent (for the first time or again) that we lose sight of what's right in front of us.  Pay attention to your loves right now.  You can deal with the what-ifs as they show up.


Be well,
~M

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Talkin' 'bout 16

Today's HAWMC prompt for Day 10 encourages us to write a note to our 16-year-old self.  SO many things to tell our 16-year-old selves, right?

(You can start at HAWMC Day 1 here)

Interestingly, I did this very exercise on a private blog several months ago, and it was seriously cathartic.  Given that my health topic is infertility, though, I'm happy to say I wouldn't generally talk about baby-making with a 16-year-old.

What I can talk about is fertility preservation.  Hopefully there aren't too many 16-year-old girls actively attempting to conceive.  I haven't watched the show 16 and Pregnant, but I'm hoping it's not painted as sunshine and roses.

I do think it's important, however, to think about preserving fertility for when 16 becomes adult-ready-to-start-a-family.  Here are a few super important things I'll address here:

~ I'm sure you remember the whole sex ed class, right?  All of the lovely details about various sexually transmitted diseases is not anybody's favorite topic, but it is a must-know when it comes to your ability to have babies in the future.  Protect yourself!

~ For girls: If you notice that your periods are really painful or extremely irregular, get checked out by your gynecologist.  These can be indicative of endometriosis and/or polycystic ovarian syndrome, which can significantly reduce your fertility in the future.  Some people have no fertility issues at all with these conditions, so it's not an emergency, but you do want to address it as early as possible.  Sadly, there's no cure for these conditions, but you can manage them well through diet, exercise, not smoking, minimal alcohol, and/or hormone therapy.

~ Some things to avoid in excess are the obvious alcohol and drugs.  You may be surprised to learn that there are many things that are considered abuse of your body and can affect your future fertility: Low BMI, High BMI, eating disorders,  and over-exercising are a few of those things.

The Center for Disease Control has a great article on infertility that young people can read.  The point is to have FUN when you're sixteen; Just make your motto "Everything in Moderation," and it's all good.


Be well,
~M

Monday, April 9, 2012

Use Your Senses

Okay, this is a fun one.  Today's HAWMC challenge for Day 9 is to develop our own "Keep Calm" poster.

(You can begin at HAWMC Day 1 here)

You know those posters right?  I remember the first one I saw was in Barnes and Noble saying, "Keep Calm, and Have a Cupcake."  I instantly took a photo and emailed it to my friend who could practically live on cupcakes.  

One of the biggest tools that I've found helpful with a variety of mental health issues, including infertility, is simply being present.  And I mean that literally.  This is mindfulness to the max.  I once had a client who became anxious in a public place and spotted a bowl of lollipops.  She proceeded to count all of the lollipops and after a little while, she calmed down.

Yes, it's that simple.

For some people sight doesn't work as well as other senses.  Perhaps you would need to close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you.  I love doing this when I'm at the park on a day when nobody is there, or even in my backyard.  You can even use touch.  For example, if I'm in my backyard, I pay attention to what it feels like to sit where I'm sitting.  I feel the slight breeze or the warmth of the sun on my skin and the chair underneath me.  But, where exactly is my skin warm?  Just my face?  What else do I feel?

Perhaps scent is more your thing.  I know lavender always calms me down.  And the smell of Mexican food always makes me feel at home. 

As such, here's my Keep Calm poster, colored in pomegranate, the official symbol for infertility:


What sense(s) will you use today? 

Be well,
~M

Sunday, April 8, 2012

No Worries

Day 8 HAWMC prompt asks us to write about our best conversation this week.

(You can start at HAWMC Day 1 here)

I recently bought a car, and there was a slip-up at the dealer resulting in my needing to go in and re-sign all of the paperwork.  The finance manager called me apologizing heavily, explaining the situation, and asking me to come in as soon as possible.

When I arrived, none of the paperwork was complete.  The finance guy appeared embarrassed and flustered.  The following conversation ensued:

Finance Guy: "I'm so sorry!  It must look like we don't know what we're doing around here."
Me: "It's all good...how long will this take?"
FG: "Probably about 10 minutes. Again, I'm so sorry...I'll get you out of here as soon as possible."

Just this tiny little conversation lead me to think about how minute this "problem" was compared to how others suffer in the world.  Right now, someone somewhere received a negative after having gone through a painful (emotional and physical) IVF cycle.  Resigning paperwork and having to wait 10 minutes seemed like nothing.

I think of my friend who landed in the hospital last November after her body declined to fight off a double viral infection and almost died (38 years old).

Um, I'll just take the "problem" of resigning paperwork, thank you. 

The rest of the conversation went like this:

Me: "Please, no worries.  Plenty of people have way bigger problems."
FG: Lots and lots of stories about how calm his wife is and how anxious he is and how he constantly worries and wonders what others think and about how he has to keep moving fast or people will be mad at him, etc, etc, etc.

I nodded and smiled.  It's the therapist in me.


Be well,
~Maria

What TO Do

The prompt for HAWMC Day 7 invites bloggers to write about anything we choose.  That's when I start getting super overwhelmed.  LOL.  As a result...I shall point to one of my favorite infertility resources: Infertility Etiquette.

(You can start at HAWMC Day 1 here)

People may read what I write about infertility and simply not "get it."  How can not being able to conceive a baby be so devastating?  Just adopt, right?!  It's so simple!

But, it's not.

I love Infertility Etiquette by RESOLVE, because it is directed to those who are fortunate enough not to have suffered with this medical condition.   I've referenced placations in a previous post.  Well, this article illustrates the most utilized placations that are supposed to make an infertile person feel better when they actually sting.  A lot.

If you know someone struggling with this condition, please (I'm literally begging here) read this article!  Your friend will probably weep with gratitude.

The focus of this particular post is not, however, to dredge on about the what-not-to-says of infertility.  Instead, I'd like to focus on what one can do when faced with a friend or loved one who is suffering.  The article references three things that people can do to support their loved ones.

First, let them know you care.  This does not mean that you give advice.  This means that you sit, listen, and offer your shoulder to cry on.  This means you send a "Thinking of You" card or take the person out to see a great movie (Not Juno!  My friend made that mistake!).  Whatever it is that lets the person know you are there for them, do it.

Second, support their decision to stop treatments.  Sometimes people think it's more supportive to say, "Are you sure?  How about just one more time?, when a couple decides to cease infertility treatments (to which one might respond, "Okay, do you happen to have $15,000 hanging around anywhere?  And a new heart?  'Cause I might need a new heart, if there's another disappointment here.").  Whatever the couple decides to do, be supportive.  WARNING: The couple still needs to grieve the loss of a biological child, so try to find a happy medium between excitement for them moving on and empathy for their loss.  It's a rough place to be for all parties.  Just do your best.

Lastly (and I think one of the most important things ever for a friend or loved one to do), remember your loved one on Mother's Day and Father's Day.  This is probably most appropriate for Mother's Day, but some men do have a rough time on Father's Day.  Mother's Day screams out loud every May, and it is incredibly difficult to ignore.  For someone struggling to become a mother, it is incredibly difficult to have the lack-of-motherhood in their face constantly.  I suggest sending your loved one something that lets them know you're thinking of them.  Maybe even make up a new holiday!  Have fun with it.  S/he will love you forever; I guarantee it.

Hope you're having a fantastic Sunday!  And, if you celebrate, Hoppy Easter!

Be well,
~Maria

Friday, April 6, 2012

Infertility Haiku

Day 6 of HAWMC challenges us to write a haiku regarding our health focus.  

(You can start with Day 1 here)  Here's my haiku:

Infertility

Pain, loss, fatigue
long for smiles
 
Then the son shown bright.


This haiku is meant to illustrate simply the devastation of infertility.  The longing for something seemingly so easily obtained by others.  The infertile struggles with not only the loss of babies but the loss of one's self.

The last line includes a homophone (sun/son), which is meant to represent not only the literal meaning behind the word son, but also the offspring of infertility.  What do I mean by the offspring of infertility?  Though it doesn't feel like it during the experience, those with infertility have the potential for tremendous growth on the "other side."  Improved sensitivity to others, a fondness for life not there before, increased spirituality, an improved outlook on humanity -- these are only a few of the potential life improvements one can experience.

Deep thoughts, I know.

How have you changed for the better after having experienced infertility?  Have you experienced any other tragic loss/situation that has caused you to change for the better?


Be well,
~Maria


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Your Moonray

Today's HAWMC post (#5) asks us to find a random photo on Flickr and write about it, hopefully linking it back to our health topic of choice.

(You can start at HAWMC #1 here)

Though I can't show the image here due to copyrights, I'll link it up for you:


How eerily beautiful is this photo?!  Love!

The first thought that came to mind as I saw this photo was that it's dark...very dark, indeed.  But, the moon's rays coming through the trees in full force brighten up the darkness and are softly stunning.  As I looked closer, I saw the stag's antlers peeking up out of the thick brush. I felt awed.

I wonder if he's stuck, I thought?  I wonder if he's struggling to move in all of that density?  Can he see his way?  Why is he moving around at night? 

I immediately linked this to the journey of infertility.  The stag is alone in the dense brush.  Infertility is extremely isolating.  It envelops one's every moment.  It mires one down in its thick, barely penetrable mess.  It's all one can think about at any given moment: How...just how am I going to get through this? 

It feels dark.  Yet...

There's that ray of brightness that the stag is moving toward.  Okay, perhaps it's not sunshine.  Perhaps the moonrays aren't in full force, and the trees mar their glow a bit, but they're there.  Similar to infertility.  Even in the midst of another negative, there's the tiniest bit of hope that the next cycle will be "it."

In my imagination, even though the stag seems stagnant and not moving, I feel he's moving toward the brightest moonray.   He knows that's where he wants to be.  So close and yet so far.

Someday he'll step into that moonray.  He'll be in the full of its glow.  He doesn't believe it yet, but he will be.  Just like infertility: The struggle feels never ending, and resolution is there.  Maybe not in the way first imagined.  But it's there.

May your moonray be just around the bend.


Be well,
~M

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I Write Because...

HAWMC's Day 4 prompts asks us health advocates to write about why we write about health.  Whoa...a mouthful there.  I even had to re-read that.

(You can start at HAWMC Day 1 here.)

When I was dealing with infertility, I always thought there had to be a reason why I was going through it.  Indeed, most infertile people struggle with that.  Did I do something wrong?  Should I have done something different?  Am I being punished? 

I write about infertility in the online world, because I know there are thousands out there who want to hear from someone who gets it. 

I write about infertility, because some of the healing strategies I personally utilized actually worked (yay)!  And I'd like to pay it forward. Actually, I feel as though it's my duty as a therapist to do so.

I write about infertility, because some people who are not struggling with this disease need to know more about it.  Awareness!  Get some!  The chances are you have run into an infertile person and either 1) didn't know it or 2) didn't know what to say to them so you said something you thought would placate them like, "Oh just go on vacation" or "You want my kids?"  or "Just go get drunk like I did!"

**WARNING: If you use one of these statements with an infertile person, please step back.**

Not many people know how to deal with an infertile person.  I write about infertility so more people will know what to do when their loved ones or coworkers or, heck, even strangers are dealing with infertility (future posts).

All in all, I write to help.  And who can go wrong with a little help?

Whether you keep an old fashioned paper journal or a private or public blog, why do you write?


Be well,
~M 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Quotation Inspiration

The Day 2 prompt for HAWMC is about choosing a quote and writing about it freely for 15 minutes.  As tempting as it was, I decided not to cheat and reference the already-written post about the quote that inspired this blog title.

The next quote that popped in my head is actually a song lyric by Natasha Bedingfield from "Unwritten."  Heard of it?


Really, I'd quote the whole song if I could, but the main lyrics that stick out in my mind are the following:

♫ Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten ♫

When dealing with infertility, one's whole world is planning for the future.  When's ovulation?  When do I have to take that shot?  Wait, that doc appointment was when? 

When I hear these lyrics, it reminds me clearly of mindfulness (I'm hearing a collective sigh from my clients who are probably sick of hearing me talk about it...lol).  Hear me out!  To me, these lyrics are precisely what mindfulness means: Living in each and every single moment.  Right here.  Right now.  Stopping to smell the flowers ("Drench yourself in words unspoken").  Relish in all of the little things that are happening right now in your world ("Live your life with arms wide open").  Today is where it's at, man.  The rest hasn't happened yet.  

If there is any one gift that an infertile person can give him- or herself, it is paying attention to and relishing the moments.  

What moments do you wish you relished?  Which moments are you planning on relishing?  And best of all, what can you relish right now?

(That's a lot of relish.  I feel like a hot dog right now.  I'd change up the wording, but my 15 minutes is up.)

Be well,
~M

HAWMC

Can you believe April is here?  I'd be lying if I said I'm certain 2012 has arrived, let alone April 2012.  I saw someone the other day wearing a fantastic shirt that I would've worn in the early 90s, so you can understand my confusion at times.  But alas, in April 2012 we are!  I've got some acid wash jeans somewhere...do you think I can pull them off?

::end ramble::

Lots of things are happening in April, which will seriously jump start my blog-writing efforts into overdrive.  Over at WEGO (all things health activist), they are celebrating Health Activist Writers Month with a Challenge (hence, HAWMC) and some really great prompts for health bloggers to write about every day in April.

You've seen my past entries.  You know I don't write every day.

I've already missed the first two days.

Wish me luck.

That being said, I love infertility.  Well not infertility, infertility, but writing, gaining more knowledge, and sharing all about infertility.  And, being that it's a major health crisis with numbers rising, I know it's a fantastic thing to write about for those suffering and to get more awareness out there for everyone.

Speaking of awareness, April is also all about National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) over at RESOLVE.  The theme for this year "Don't Ignore Infertility."  With 30 posts in 30 days (thank you, WEGO), I think I'll pretty much be the poster-blogger for NIAW's theme this year.  No ignoring going on over here!

--------------------------------------------------

Without further ado, I'm going to attempt to write two posts today and two posts tomorrow to catch up on HAWMC.  The topic for April 1st is  "Health Time Capsule." 

Did you ever put together a time capsule?  I remember throwing some stuff in a kind of metal can in 2nd grade and burying it in the school yard.  I have no idea what I put in it, but I remember wondering what someone of the future would think of it.

What would people think of a health capsule focused on infertility?  I'd probably chronicle the various transitions of fertility via illustrative objects.  Like this:

1) Age 16: A negative pregnancy test with a gigantic smile on it
2) Age 21: Photo of a frat party (lots of alcohol included, of course) with a bold caption that reads, "Family?  Babies?  Puh-leez!"
3) Age 27: A wedding invitation and photos (lots of alcohol included).  An .mp3 of the bride and groom saying, "Stop asking us when the babies are coming!"
4) Age 29: An empty birth control pill packet
5) Age 32: A negative pregnancy test with a gigantic sad face on it
6) Age 33: Pamphlets all about improving fertility.  Fertility charts...lots of fertility charts.
7) Age 34: Acupuncture needles
8) Age 35: IVF drug needles; Also a love note from a husband to his wife: "Hun, I'm sorry.  Please don't divorce me for not doing the dishes.  And you look great even with the IVF weight...uh -- I mean, what weight?  I don't know what you're talking about.  Love you." 
9) Age 38+: Photos of happy families with and without children. 
10) A copy of my dissertation about psychological growth post-infertility (because, clearly everyone wants to read that).

I imagine someone in the far off future will say, "Infertility?  What's that?" 

One can hope. :)

Be well,
~M


Friday, March 30, 2012

Play: Go Get Some

Do you remember when you were a kid and you'd play hide-and-seek with a few kids in the neighborhood?  Or maybe you were the one who got some of the other kids together and put on a play for your neighborhood?  Perhaps you pretended you were a rock star and wielded that broom stick the likes of which no 80s hairband had produced thus far.

Wasn't that fun?

Do you still have that much fun?

I recently read this article about the importance of play, and even though it's mainly geared toward parents, I realize that those struggling to be parents (who may or may not already have kids) could use some serious play therapy in their lives. 

The article says, "we are often caught in the hustle and bustle of the importance of our own lives.  In general, our society has become plagued with an unrelenting motion of doing, rarely giving way to kindness or compassion or living life to its fullest."

You know that "unrelenting motion of doing," don't you?  "Okay, where's my fertility calendar?  Yeah, only 9 days to go before ovulation.  So that means, we have to have intercourse on these dates (yes, it's that formal) -- oh wait!  We have a dinner that night!  We're going to have to double up the night before then.  Ugh, I'll be so tired.  Oh well...gotta do what we gotta do."

What happened to the fun, you ask?  I think it was thrown in the round file along with all of those OPK (ovulation predictor kit) sticks and used fertility-med needles.  Buh-bye Fun!  Hello Business of Baby Making!

So, why play?  The article suggests, "In an age that we are frequently overworked, underpaid, and stressed; play decreases our anxieties, our negative thinking, while increasing our own imagination."

I would add, in the infertility world, play helps us to let go of the "have tos" for a moment and do the "get tos."  Remember how excited you were when your homework was done and you got to do whatever you wanted?  You got to rest your left-brain analytical side and engage the right-brain creative side of you.  Both are needed for appropriate balance.  How about hello to Wellness?

Needless to say, the get-'er-done attitude of baby-making resides mostly in the left brain.  And it's where the infertile person resides 24/7.  Though I haven't researched it (yet), I'm willing to bet that this is even during sleep.

Give it a rest!  Go play!  The article suggests playing peek-a-boo in the mall with another adult.  Um, I'm not going to go that far.  Ha!

What will you do to get your play in today? 


Be well,
~M


Friday, March 23, 2012

8 Hugs a Day

I'm hokey sometimes.

Okay, maybe a wee bit more than sometimes.  What can I say?  I dig the smiles that are brought on by cheesy lines of hope.  Occasionally the smile is in tandem with an eye-roll, but it's all good. 

I'm enjoying this particular post, however, because it's the first time I can put it out there in writing that my hokey-ness is backed up by research.  I dig research almost as much as smiles (I'm a hokey nerd), so I'm delighted when I get to read new, interesting articles that can affect the way my clients live their lives in a positive way.

Infertility is no joke.  The emotional roller coaster that one must ride when faced with this ridiculously difficult disease is not unlike the diagnosis of a terminal illness.  That's right, folks.  Research shows that infertility is a life crisis not unlike a cancer diagnosis.  So, when I come across something (anything!) that can help someone struggling with this disease, I want to spread it around. 

Today, I received an article from Positive Psychology News Daily about the neurotransmitter oxytocin and how it behaves in our bodies.  Though I won't go into the details of the article here, the main gist is "oxytocin is released in the body when we feel safe and connected and tells the brain, 'Everything is all right.'"  It also reduces the amount of the stress hormone, coritsol, in the body (most people understand the whole stress thing). 

Lightbulb!  Infertility makes one feel out of control, isolated, stressed out, and as if nothing will ever be right again. Oxytocin to the rescue!  How do we get us some of that?

Oxytocin is naturally ocurring, and is released when one merely thinks of someone they love, during cuddle sessions, or thinking of happy faces to name just a few. (It's also released during breast-feeding -- a big "grrrr" to wanna-be-breast-feeding-moms out there struggling with infertility.)

One could also find it synthetically, though a brief Google shopping search brought up a vial of injectible oxytocin used to assist mammals in giving birth (grrr again).  With fertility treatments involving a billion needles, I'd say skip the vial and go the natural route.

The article references a TED talk where Dr. Zak (also known as "Dr. Love") suggests increasing your oxytocin levels by hugging someone 8 times a day.  I'm assuming he means hugging someone you know, although I haven't watched the entire video yet.  Visions of random NYC subway train hugging come to mind....I'm thinking oxytocin would not be a part of that scene.  Just sayin'.

With that, here's your Coping with Infertility Rx of the month:  8 Hugs a Day

Who will you hug?


Be well,
~M

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Blog Title

When I was in the midst of my infertility struggle, it was madness and darkness nearly every day.  Colors literally seemed more dull, I was sad constantly, and thanks to those fabulous fertility drugs, well, let's just say my thoughts weren't always rational.

I don't know anyone who has struggled with infertility who hasn't felt the same way at times.  It's a dark and dreary place, to be sure.  Sometimes the hopelessness is relentless.  Whenever you look up and around and attempt to live your life, there's that black cloud staring you down.  Sometimes it's the general feeling of sadness.  Sometimes it's in the form of parents with their babies or a hugely pregnant belly or even a baby store. 

The constant reminders of what you don't have (and desperately desire) practically taunt you.  "Na-nee-na-nee you can't have me!"  You know Eeyore?  'Nough said.  

When I was in the midst of this sadness and desperation, I came across a quote by Wayne Dyer, who's one of my favorite speakers and writers.  He said, "Even when you're in the gutter, you have the option of looking up at the stars." 

It really stuck with me.

I could continue taking a look around at my immediate surroundings (the gutter), or I could grasp onto the tiniest bit of hope that all would be well (look up at the stars).  Somehow, this was super comforting to me.  I didn't feel so stuck.  I had choices!

This is a quote I use often in my practice as I help others navigate infertility, adoption, and a plethora of other mental health issues.  Afterall, we all struggle, right?  We all want to feel some semblance of control, which is something we often lose when dealing with difficult times.  Sometimes the weight of our struggles are too heavy for us to look up at the stars, and that's okay, too.  At least the option is there.

The option is always there.

Hence, a blog title was born.

Be Well,
~M

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The ol' Intro

You know how you have the best intentions?  Like that gym membership that says ever so quietly, "I'm here," as you drive by thinking, "I should probably visit there someday." 

Meanwhile your jeans get tighter.

*sigh*

I've had the best intentions about starting this blog.  Nearly every month that I read infertility and adoption blogs, I realize that I need to be writing about the emotional healing so difficult to come by when dealing with infertility.  I'm a therapist, after all.

So, here I am!  I'm no longer going to blog about healing when dealing with infertility; I'm doing it!  And rhyming to boot ("healing while dealing"?  Did you catch that?)!  (Warning: sometimes I'm lame)

I should also say that I broke up with my gym long ago, so I don't have to be reminded of its existence every month in my bank statement (Exercise, however, is essential to emotional well-being, so I'm totally not off the hook there...just sayin').

This blog will focus on emotional well-being in infertility, but the need for a healthy mind-set is important in all avenues of life, dontchya think?  To that end, sometimes I get random.  And make up words.  And punctuation.  Welcome to my world!


Be well,
~M