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Coping with Fertility Issues – Supportive Tips

Fertility issues: it’s something that is more common than you may think, but something that people often don’t talk about for fear of over-sharing, or appearing vulnerable or “broken.” The double-edged sword of this complex situation, though, is that often, people find it helpful to share their experiences with fertility complications, to discuss their struggles with people who have gone through similar issues. Coping with fertility issues isn’t something you have to do on your own. Here at the Blossom Method, we have a few tips for people who are trying to cope with infertility that can help make things easier on you.
Spend Time on Non-Pregnancy Activities
It’s easy to get wrapped up in baby-related activities. Whether you have friends or family members having babies, or you keep getting invited to baby showers and just need a break, remember that it’s okay to decline an invite if you don’t feel comfortable to attend. Struggles with infertility can feel magnified when you have to spend time with people who had no trouble conceiving, so don’t feel bad if you need to sit some parties or gatherings out.

It’s important to also spend time doing things you like, rather than devoting all of your free time to things like researching ways to get pregnant or stressing out by Googling all the potential things that you think could be keeping you from conceiving. Take time to take care of yourself and enjoy your hobbies; pursue your interests—though it’s easier said than done, trying to get your mind off of the problems can help a bit.
Get Infertility Support from Friends, Family and Counselors
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it can help to open up to those around you. Letting […]

One Size Does Not Fit All: Coping with Pregnancy Anxiety After Loss

The majority of women I work with come to me because something happened to them during a previous pregnancy that resulted in some type of baby or pregnancy loss. Now, they are pregnant again—anxious and frightened. The formula they had put in place last time will not work for them now. I’ll hear things like, “I adore my OB, but going back into that waiting room, seeing the receptionist, hearing those phones ring sends me into a panic,” “The second bank of elevators in that building is where I was when the call came in,” or, “The ultrasound room has too many bad memories for me.”
New OB/GYN with a New Pregnancy
For many of these women, they want a fresh start. They want a new office, a new doctor, and in some cases, a new hospital altogether. Their OB may have graduated at the top of their class from Harvard or Princeton, but to these women, it’s a bad feeling, a foreboding premonition, a bad omen to return. I tell them that there are no rules—it is up to them to make the decision that feels right. One patient told me that after she became pregnant again and went to several visits at her old OB’s office, the OB told her that seeing how painful it was for this patient to return to the “scene of the crime” each month for her checkups was too hard to watch. The OB told the patient to switch to another doctor, and to return once the baby was born. That is exactly what the patient did—that OB clearly cared about her patient.
Extra Medical Care to Avoid Pregnancy Loss
I have other patients who decide that being seen by a […]

Fertility Friends: Finding Support through Shared Experiences

At the Blossom Method, we are proud to inspire those who struggle with infertility issues to seek the support that they need and deserve. One of the groups we refer our patients to is Shine: A Light on Fertility. Today, we have a guest post from Katie O’Connor, the founder of Shine, about what the program strives to accomplish.
Friendship and Advocacy
By: Katie O’Connor, Founder, Shine: A Light On Fertility

When you are going through a hard time, a good friend is what you need most.  It helps if the friend has experienced a similar struggle as you, and that is where Fertility Friends comes in—a new mentor program by Shine: A Light on Fertility.  Fertility Friends is a matching system that pairs a new member with someone who has successfully completed their fertility journey.  This program provides one-on-one support that can help with the day-to-day stresses of fertility treatments, and acts as a supplement to group sessions.  It allows the new member a chance to ask personal questions and get support from someone who has experienced similar challenges.  Fertility Friends can lend support and guidance to help new members navigate fertility treatment procedures as well as talk through options.  Mentors are sensitive to the new member’s journey, because they can closely relate to their experience.

Being your own advocate is important when going through any life challenge, but combining that with knowledge and awareness creates empowerment.  Shine puts a focus on early education and taking a proactive approach to one’s fertility health through their Advocacy Initiative.  Every woman knows that when they turn 40, it means the start of mammograms, and we are taught even earlier to start performing self-breast exams.  However, there is nothing like […]

Abrupt Endings, New Beginnings: Coping with Pregnancy Loss

At the Blossom Method, we feature real-life stories from some of the people we have worked with and helped. This week, we feature a story from a former patient of ours who had difficulty with pregnancy loss and turned to the Blossom Method support system for help coping with the frustration, anxiety, and nerves that are inevitable when one becomes pregnant again after losing a pregnancy. Often, patients find comfort from stories of others’ experiences coping with loss as well as in sharing their own stories. 
Babies, Loss and the Future
When I was four years old, I asked my mom, “How do you become a mother?” She thought about it for a minute, and then she said, “You just put your heart into it.” So, at the ripe old age of four, I set for myself the ultimate goal of my life: Eventually I would “put my heart into it” and become a mother.

Three days before my tenth birthday, my mom went in for her 20-week ultrasound and discovered that my baby brother had died. It stopped me in my tracks, essentially ending my childhood at the exact moment my dad told me. How could a baby die before it was born? How could there just be no reason? What other tragic horrors awaited me in life? We were all sad, but I took it the hardest. I always imagined him as with us, as part of our family. I think of him each year on his due date—how old would he be now? When people asked me if I had siblings, I responded that I had a sister and also a brother who was in heaven. Mom told me not to mention my brother–people […]

Asking Pregnancy Questions: Do You Really Need to Know?

It breaks my heart–week after week, I meet with clients who are struggling with getting pregnant, a recent loss, or maybe a new pregnancy after previous losses. They’re making progress, but are suddenly completely derailed by a simple (yet unnecessary) question or comment from a stranger. I’d believe more often than not, the stranger has no ill intention by commenting or asking a question, but I would like to challenge everyone to consider what others may be going through that you don’t know about before speaking up. Just think: how often you have asked, or have heard someone ask, “When are you due?” or  “Are you guys trying to get pregnant?” or comment on someone’s cute baby bump?
The Importance of Consideration
Recently, I had a client (we’ll call her “Sarah”) who had just delivered her baby at 37 weeks, but the baby passed away shortly after birth.  Although Sarah was prepared prenatally for the loss of her daughter, the grief and overwhelming sadness was a lot for her and her husband to handle.  Two weeks after losing her baby girl, she decided she needed to face the world again and went to the grocery store. In a mere 30 minute trip, Sarah was approached by two strangers who made seemingly benign, yet very hurtful comments, given the situation.  The first asked when she was due – she was two weeks postpartum, so she naturally still had a “bump,” but she sadly did not have the baby.   After tearfully walking away from that stranger, she tried to summon the courage to get through her shopping list.  Then, as she was paying for her groceries, the cashier said, “Oh, I love your little bump – enjoy the […]

Pregnancy Termination Support for Genetic Testing and Complex Medical Diagnoses

I could barely understand what she was saying on the phone. Finally, her husband took the phone from her and spoke on her behalf.  “Jane Doe” had been given the all clear at her 19 week checkup and thought that everything was going fine with her pregnancy. However, a mix up at the lab confirmed that their baby had a severe heart defect along with chromosomal abnormalities.

Jane’s experience with her OB was less than stellar. Both she and her husband were recent transplants to the United States, and noted that where they come from, there is no such thing as changing doctors depending on new issues and needs—one doctor manages everything and all decisions go through that doctor. She felt, after the complex medical diagnosis, that her OB was rushing her out of the practice once it was realized that the baby would not make it to delivery and that the pregnancy would be terminated. She felt alone, isolated. Her OB gave her a phone number to call regarding what she should do next, then stepped out of the equation. He also gave Jane my phone number.
After the Testing and Diagnosis
In the state of Illinois, a pregnancy can legally be terminated under 24 weeks. Twenty-four weeks is the magic number; after that a patient looking to terminate would need to leave the state and travel elsewhere. Jane understood that time was not on her side.

Fortunately, I was able to help Jane navigate through the maze of doctors and providers who do this type of work and don’t make the patient feel even worse about their decision. Initially, Jane was not told that she had the option to have surgery where she would be put […]

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 […]