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Tips for Coping with Infertility and Finding Support

Infertility: it’s more common than we all think and for those who are dealing with it, it can be devastating. The pressure to have a family, for many people, is intense, and when it seems like that’s not possible, it seems inevitable that grief, depression, and frustration would be just a few of the emotions someone would experience. Many women struggle to feel truly happy for friends and loved ones when they announce a pregnancy, knowing that they are having trouble conceiving. Infertility, though common, is often kept quiet, for fear of bringing up a “sore” subject for someone.

Those who are experiencing it can feel very alone.  You’re not alone, though—and that’s something you’ve probably heard over and over. It’s true. Coping with infertility can be extremely difficult, but thankfully, there are methods and resources that can ease the pain, stress, and disappointment.
Don’t Blame Yourself
As with not being alone, you’ve likely been told, time and again, not to blame yourself.  However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hear it yet again. It’s easy to try and pinpoint all the things you’re doing wrong—

Are you eating the wrong things?
Or not sleeping enough?
What about stress? Is being stressed about infertility exacerbating the problem?

There are a million ways to blame yourself for being unable to conceive, and it’s important to resist doing so. Instead, try and feel centered in the moment – focus on what’s happening now, rather than what has already happened. Try and zero in on looking forward to the ways you can manage infertility, rather than criticizing yourself for being unable to get pregnant.
Set Realistic Expectations
If you’re struggling to conceive, it’s important to work with your partner to set realistic expectations of what you’ll do—will […]

A Parent’s Manual for NICU Admissions

Nowadays, we are able to Google everything, or at least find a book that gives us more information about what we’re going through in life.  As women become pregnant, they and their partners often turn to the Internet, reference books and even apps on their smartphones and tablets to guide them through each step of the process.  These resources can provide a lot of great information regarding what to expect throughout the pregnancy and delivery—if everything goes smoothly. But what do you do when things don’t go quite as you had planned or hoped, and your baby is admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)?
Online Resources: Incomplete NICU Parent Support
The bulk of the resources available only give guidance for pregnancies that go completely according to plan—the “ideal” pregnancy. What they don’t often tell you about are the various things that can go wrong—then again, it might be best that way, so as to not worry expectant mothers. That said, how many women plan on being put on bed rest, or developing preeclampsia during pregnancy? How many think they’ll have placenta previa or a premature delivery?  These resources often touch lightly on these topics and very briefly discuss the NICU.  Did you know that all babies born before 37 weeks are considered premature?  And that generally, all babies born before 35 weeks are automatically admitted to the NICU?
Neonatal ICU: Now What?
Premature delivery is stressful, and a baby’s admission to NICU is sometimes just the beginning of the roller coaster of emotions that some parents will experience.  There is first the excitement of meeting your little one, followed by the inevitable fear for the baby’s medical status and prognosis. New parents may then feel separation […]

Coping with the Loss of a Pregnancy

With the struggle that many women have to go through in order to conceive a baby, even more devastating than that can be pregnancy loss. Losing a pregnancy can cause feelings of depression, inadequacy, despair and anxiety—you may find yourself wondering if you’ll be able to get pregnant again, and if you do, how long you’ll have to worry about a repeated loss. Coping with this type of loss can be very difficult and are too often internalized. These complex situations can lead to feeling overstressed, which can cause its own host of problems.

While coping with hardships such as infertility, the loss of a pregnancy or stillbirth can be very tough, it’s important to remember you are not alone. Infertility support groups and pregnancy loss counseling can help you get through the hard times and move onward to keep trying for pregnancy and growing your family.
Feelings You May Experience After a Loss
There are a range of different feelings you may experience after losing a pregnancy. Anger or resentment, particularly toward your body for “betraying” you, is extremely common, as is feeling guilty, as if the cause of losing the pregnancy was something you did that could have been prevented. If you become pregnant again, there are other issues you may experience, such as not trusting the pregnancy to carry to term, or being afraid to bond or become attached to your child until you are certain the pregnancy is viable through the end.

These emotions can drain the joy out of your life and make you feel hopeless and depressed, unable to get through the day at times. Again, it’s essential to know that you are not alone and that there are loss support groups […]

The Power of Hope: Conceiving After Pregnancy or Baby Loss

I cannot speak to the biology or chemistry behind it, and I will not attempt to try, but the common refrain I hear from patients who are trying to conceive after a loss of a baby is that each month, it just doesn’t happen. Maybe they had a pregnancy loss at 10 weeks, maybe it was a full-term baby loss, or maybe it was a fetal anomaly that was lethal and they had to end the pregnancy. Either way, they’re ready for a baby now, but it just won’t happen.
Fertility Treatment
These patients often consult with fertility doctors. They take medication to stimulate their egg production, or they start the “fertility diet” of foods said to boost fertility like beans, pineapple and specific herbs. But in the end, months pass and nothing happens.

Then I have my fertility patients. Transfers get cancelled, not enough embryos are high enough quality to implant, chemical pregnancies come and go, and still, no positive pregnancy test.
Grief & Loss Counseling
What can I say to them? How can I keep hope alive? I start with the truth—the good news is that they have proven that they are able to conceive. That’s huge! Until there are three consecutive losses, most OBs will not initiate any testing as that is still within the range of “normal.” But no one in this situation wants to hear that what they’re going through is “normal” and that all they need to do is simply go home and try to get pregnant. For this reason, pregnancy loss counseling, infertility support groups, and loss of a baby support groups in Chicago are plentiful. Women aren’t alone in their struggles with conception and the grief felt by their loss.

And what […]

Signs of Postpartum Depression and What You Can Do

Giving birth is a powerful experience, bringing with it a rollercoaster of emotions that range from intense excitement to fear, joy to anxiety. Some new mothers, however, may experience some other, more unexpected emotions—depression and sadness.  While the “baby blues” are not uncommon, and include feelings of sadness, mood swings, and crying spells, when these symptoms are intense or last more than two weeks, they may be signs of postpartum depression or anxiety. If you think you may be experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety, it’s important to know that you’re not alone and that there are things that you can do to help get your life back to “normal.”
What Are the Signs of PPD?
With the fluctuation of hormones that comes with giving birth to your new baby, it’s common to experience mood changes or have difficulty sleeping or concentrating. These symptoms, which may only last a day or two, are referred to as the “baby blues,” and balance out not long after giving birth. For some women, though, those symptoms intensify and last longer, eventually interfering with their ability to take care of their baby or get through everyday activities. It can be difficult to distinguish what might be simple hormone changes versus what could be part of a larger issue, but if you know the symptoms of postpartum depression, you’ve already taken the first step.

Knowing what signs to look for can help you determine when to seek treatment for postpartum depression. Combined with feelings of sadness, postpartum depression can be characterized by symptoms including:

Severe mood swings
Loss of appetite
Overwhelming tiredness and fatigue
Intense irritability or anger
Insomnia
Feelings of guilt, shame, or inadequacy
Loss of interest in sex
Withdrawal from family and friends
Difficulty bonding with your baby
Thoughts of harming […]

The 33rd Chapter – Coping with IVF, Complicated Genetic Testing & Pregnancy Loss

A regular at the Blossom Method with his Wife Mandy, Creative Director and new Author Justin Winget shares the final entry, “Lessons Learned,” of his forthcoming book, The Thirty Third Chapter. Documenting the couple’s journey back from harrowing 20 and 38 week pregnancy losses, the narrative began on July 12th 2013:  Justin’s 33rd birthday and exactly one year after they celebrated a positive pregnancy test for their later stillborn son Carter. Setting a pre-defined ending date just before the clock turned to his 34th birthday, Justin picked-up writing just as the couple stood on the verge of another go at their dreams of parenthood. With hopes of pregnancy after loss via IVF layered with complicated genetic testing for the same rare genetic condition which plagued their first pregnancy: PGS and PGD

Written as a form of self-therapy for coping with pregnancy losses, Justin shares the culmination of his efforts surrounding IVF and genetic testing in “Lessons Learned” – the first complete entry revealed to readers. Follow along on Facebook and the Blossom Method Blog for more excerpts, and keep on the lookout for the book release sometime in 2015!

The Final Entry:

As I laid restlessly in bed watching the clock on my nightstand slowly tick towards midnight, I rewound back through all the bittersweet memories that culminated in the 33rd chapter of my life. It was not a particularly great year with more valleys than peaks, but I acknowledge it was one I needed to endure. While it tested every last ounce of my resolve, it was the only path that led to that next unrelenting chapter as a Father…

When I started writing 365 days ago, I thought this would be a completely different story. Sitting on the […]

Unexpected Tragedies On My Reproductive Journey: You Never Know

~By Aviva Cohen, LCSW & Co-Founder of The Blossom Method

When I tell people I work with women and couples struggling with infertility, loss, postpartum depression and other tragic scenarios during their reproductive journeys, I almost always get the same questions: How can you do something like that every day? Isn’t it depressing? My response never wavers. Providing support to women and couples is my professional calling and I am inspired by my clients each and every day.

Perhaps part of the reason I’m drawn to this work is because I straddle both worlds. I had my first three children with ease. I wanted to get pregnant, and poof, it happened. My pregnancies were relatively normal and the deliveries easy. Then I rolled the dice again and discovered just how lucky I’d been.

During my eighteenth week of pregnancy, I found out the baby inside of me had died. In an instant, my hopes and dreams for that unborn baby were dashed. I felt blindsided, confused, shocked and terrified. My doctor sent me to specialists, and then washed his hands of me. I was no longer a patient he wanted to treat. During this vulnerable time, I became lost in a maze of hospitals, doctors and nurses. I felt afraid and very much alone.

In my mind, I decided that if I got pregnant again before my due date, the pain deep inside of me would disappear. I quickly conceived again, but this time, at my nine-week checkup, the baby had no heartbeat. That was it for me. I had nowhere to go, no one to talk to, and no one who understood how I felt. When I tried to talk about the loss with friends or family, they told […]

There Must Be Something Wrong With Me

It’s the right time in your life to get pregnant.  You have found the partner of your dreams, your job is secure, you are in the best shape of your life, and  frankly, you have run out of excuses! It is now or never. Then it happens-maybe quicker or slower than you had expected. That nice pink line or positive sign-depending on which test you bought-and how many times you took it to confirm your suspicions. You guys did it! You are a smashing success-now you are pregnant!
You are so excited you don’t know how you will keep this secret until you are out of the first trimester, but you do! You tell your sister, best friend, and Mom, but even you have your limits! OK-you tell your friend at work too because she can tell immediately that you are not yourself. You go to the doctor and all signs are great. Pregnancy looks good-you are on your way! The coast is clear and you start screaming it from the rooftops! The secret is out-you are going to have a baby!

Then-the world as you know it changes forever…your water breaks at 19 weeks, tests show your baby is incompatible with life, one doctor visit there is no heartbeat-whatever the circumstances of your loss-you are experiencing one and there is nothing you can do to change it. You wish you could rewind the clock-noticed a problem-called the doctor and told him/her about it. How could this be happening? It never happened to any of my friends. Why me? It is just not fair.

The truth is-shame on your friends and everyone you know. Loss is as much a part and possibility of pregnancy as lice is […]