The Tale of the Clueless Resident

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

Everyone

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So there I am, laying with my feet in stir ups. My ultra sound tech had to run out of the room to double check something on my chart. The resident stood across the room silently,  I decided to fill the silence with noise.

I asked her how long she was working at the office and what her speciality was in. I explained my lining, the usual office chatter. She let me know she was going to work in high risk pregnancies and that she appreciated learning more about what she was seeing on the screen.

A few second of silent passed and then…“I wish I could be in your spot?” she said. “What do you mean?” I replied.

“You know, without kids.”

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Immediately my brain malfunctioned.  Is this really happening? Could she really be saying this? I started to believe I was in the twilight zone.

“I am here because my body is failing. I don’t think you want to be in my seat,” I say.

She continues, “Uh I am just so tired. I have 3 kids. I am just so fertile, I just couldn’t stop having them.”

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DEEP BREATHS, DEEP BREATHS

“Sounds like poor planning,” I say. “You did have the option of this thing called, birth control. You should have used it,” I state.

SILENCE//Subject switched.

When I left I began to process what had happened. Was this woman for real? Do I tell the doctor? ::BRAIN SPINNING::

I went home, started working and forgot about the whole thing until surgery. Upon waking up from the anesthesia I saw my doctor and decided to spill the beans. My husband said it went a little something like this:

“Doc, you know the resident? You need to have a chat with her.” I then went through the exchange. He was mortified.

Unfortunately I have heard stories like this from a number of women. Where on earth do people get the idea that saying they got pregnant easily or having kids is annoying would be comforting to women who are struggling to get pregnant? I can not comprehend where this break down in understanding occurs.

Now its a funny story, but WOWEEE at the time!

-ANNIE

Start Traveling: See ya later IVF

WHO THIS IS FOR:

Couples going through infertility treatments

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When you start infertility treatments you lose all control. Control of your body, mind, and schedule. For a long while this included travel however I bring to you a few full proof tips for taking back some control through travel. I hope these tips and tricks help bring a little bit of control back in your life and a bit of liberation.

Since January I have had 3 procedures, I have travelled out-of-state three times. I am leaving on a jet plane tonight and have another procedure a week from today. I also have a girls weekend planned in May. I am proof this is feasible!

WHEN TO SCHEDULE TRIPS

I am not talking big 2 week trips here. While we do have one planned for later in the year, if you do not want to delay treatment, big trips may be out of the picture for a bit. Three day trips are completely feasible.

  • Find out when your doctor does transfers.
    • My doctor does transfers on Thursdays. I schedule trips on Fridays if I know a transfer is in the works. I schedule trips after transfers Friday evenings through Mondays. With this schedule I do not have to worry about pushing myself too hard.
  • Give yourself wiggle room
    • Schedule 2 or so weeks in advanced, do not get ahead of yourself and do months ahead of time unless you are okay with potentially delaying a round.
  • Know your cycle
    • Once you get into the groove of treatments you tend to figure out when you will get your period, how many days on meds before transfer, etc. Use this knowledge to your advantage.

TRAVELING WITH MEDS

I traveled in February with ALL of my shots and here is what I learned, TSA could care less about having a bag full of needles. I took a ton of precautions and none of it mattered. BUT to be safe, here is what you need to do to travel with meds:

  • Make a list of all of your meds days in advanced so that you don’t have to worry and stress. Check them off the night before when you pack. Recheck the next morning.
  • Have your doctor write you a note stating its okay you have needles.
  • Tell the TSA agent you have medication.
  • PRE PLAN! Go through what you have days in advanced so that if you need  refills while you are away, you have them taken care of beforehand.
  • Put all of your meds in your carry on. You don’t want to leave the fate of your meds up to airline staff.

SCHEDULING YOUR PROCEDURES

If you are in my boat you presume you are having transfers for ever and ever. Thus, I know the drill at this point.

How to prep:

  • Tell your doctor your dates in advanced. Write to him/her in email to verify. Have coordinators verify. Stay on top of this.
  • If you are doing a transfer it may be as simple as just moving your check in appointments
    • For example my doctor likes to do lining check-ins on Fridays, instead I have moved them to Thursdays, no one seems to care.
  • You can manipulate your period if need be.
    • If things need to be delayed a week, this may be feasible. Of course consult your doctor. Last year I knew there was no way I could do a transfer when my body wanted, we were able to push things off by a week and it all worked out (the procedure happened… of course I didn’t get pregnant).

HOW TO PAY FOR YOUR TRIP

Let’s be real, you are not swimming in cash because well… you are reading this blog.

  • Sign up for a credit card with rewards (specifically travel)
    • We have a Southwest card, it has been awesome
  • Charge all of your IVF expenses to your account, before you know it you will have a  ton of points- turn this lemon into lemonade
    • IVF has paid for 6 round trip tickets and counting

I can’t live your life thinking, “when I am pregnant.” It was a hard pill to swallow but the reality of it is I  may never get there and so I must live my life with the understanding that I can’t plan to be pregnant. I do know that I will be a mom, but that may not happen from my own body. And thus, living life as if it were “normal” is all I can do.

-Annie

Mayan Uterine/Abdominal Massage

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:
  • Women starting infertility treatments
  • Women who are going to transfer an embryo
  • Women who are doing IUIs
  • Women who are struggling to get pregnant and are trying natural remedies

When I first realized something was wrong, I texted my mom my concern. Her name is “ma” in my phone. Instead of it going to her, the text on accident went to my friend Mary (who is Mexican). The text sparked a conversation and she mentioned Mayan massage. She told me her family members swear by it and have gone to small villages in Mexico whenever there was a fertility issue. Fast forward  to my IVF group and my leader mentions that she went to get a Mayan massage before her successful transfer. It sparked a curiosity in me and I made some moves and got one! Below is the who, what, where, and why of Mayan Abdominal Massage.

WHAT/WHY

Mayan abdominal/uterine massage is an ancient technique that helps move the uterus back into place and increase blood flow. Most women’s uterus is tilted one way or another from all sorts of reasons. The way you stand, how you sleep, injuries… you name it. There is no direct link to a tilted uterus to infertility. The way I see it though, there is no harm in getting things back in line. More than just aligning organs, the massage is supposed to help get blood moving.

In Mayan culture, the uterus is the center of the body and where emotions are kept. This is similar to the eastern cultures and a lot of the Mayan philosophies align to the ancient Chinese thoughts (same stuff talked about in acupuncture).

In addition to the massage the therapist also provided me a number of options to try afterwards. This included: a vaginal steam (yep!), castor oil pack, daily massage routine, and uterine meditation cd. The vaginal steam (which apparently Gwyneth Paltrow is into but with crazy technology) is meant to help clear out any old “junk.” You do this before the transfer. I didn’t have time to do it but it didn’t sound too tough. The castor oil also has to be done before a transfer. Once again, didn’t have time due to travel.

I did however maintain the daily routine. She taught a step-by-step massage. It was super interesting because I now know where my uterus is and how to identify it when pressing my abdomen. After the transfer the routine changes because you don’t want to move the uterus. You do continue a light routine to help blood flow after transfer.

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WHO

There are practitioners who are trained under other folks who have been trained in this form of massage. The massage therapist I worked with lived in South America for a while to learn the technique.

I was incredibly happy with my massage therapist because she offered me the option of an additional half hour to learn the techniques. She sat with me and explained the reasoning and purpose behind each move. She even gave me a massage ball for my neck and glutes!

WHERE

I researched Mayan Uterine Massage and read reviews of different practitioners. Most of the reviews I read mostly talked about the effects the massage had on their bowel movements (another reason people get this massage) but overall it sounded like she was a great listener and was considerate. She was indeed both of those things.

She also gave me follow up documents that included additional things to try. I took each thing with a grain of salt and kept the mindset of, “If it doesn’t hurt, why not try it.”

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THE VERDICT

I have no idea if it worked (I guess we can speculate when we the 2WW is over). I do know my lining was great but I could not say definitively it was because of the massage since I was already on my estrogen in preparation for a transfer.  The only “cost” was financial and thus I say go for it. Worse case, you get a great massage and time to chill out.

-Annie

It’s not your fault.

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

  • Women going through IVF
  • Supportive friends of folks going through infertility treatments

 

In February 2014 I was a proactive planner, I went to my gyno and let her know we wanted to make a baby. We decided that I would go off the pill in May. I recall the visit so clearly. She said, “I love that you are responsible and are planning. I wish more people did that.” HA!

In June 2014 I didn’t get my period. In July 2014, I didn’t get my period. I went back to my gyno because this was unusual. Before birth control I ALWAYS got my period. I hopped on my bike, road to the office and entered her room. I sat down and let her know what was going on. She pointed towards my helmet and said, “Is this a new thing?” “What riding a bike? No. I have done spin 3 or more times a week for the past two years,” I replied. She scratched her head and explained I might just be exercising too much. In my gut I knew this wasn’t right. My workout routine hadn’t drastically changed in the months leading up to the summer. I knew that me riding a bike a mile wasn’t what was keeping my period. But it was hard not to doubt myself.

Fast forward to September 2014, I still didn’t have my period. I was put in touch with a fertility doctor through a family friend. I hopped on a call with the doctor and she asked me a few preliminary questions. First up, how much do you weigh? At the time I weighed 117 and I am 5’6. There was a long pause, “That’s probably it, you don’t weigh enough. You should gain 5 pounds.” Mind you, she hadn’t seen me, she was purely going on numbers. Also, at the start of summer when I didn’t have my period, I did weigh 5 more pounds. I know my body very well and I know that when I don’t have estrogen in me (which feels AWESOME) I loose weight much quicker and am able to maintain my weight. My weight was a result of my situation, it was not the CAUSE. I got off the phone feeling like it was my fault.

Throughout this process again and again I have been made to feel that my infertility is my fault. Just a few snippets of the “wisdom” thrown my way:

  • “You just need to relax.”
  • “Well if you were just doing XYZ.”
  • “If you just thought about it less.”
  • “When you stop thinking about it, it will happen.”
  • “If you just ate meat, you would get your period.”

There is always an underlying tone of blame. While all of these statements are made with a hint of innocence, the result is shame.

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Women are made to feel that they SHOULD have control over their fertility. That if we just tweaked this, or did that, this would all go away. If we put women’s health in historical context we can say definitively that women’s bodies are still quite a mystery. This comes from years of not prioritizing women because women were not in positions of power within the medical field. Centuries of biases and misinformation feed into the reasons why women put pressure on themselves.

Turning the voice off in your head that says, “I am doing everything I can and this is not my fault,” becomes increasingly difficult as the meds start being pumped into your body.

I can’t speak for everyone but I know from my experience with friends going through IVF, we are all beating ourselves up… we don’t need another voice telling us what else we could  or should do. My therapist and husband are voices of reason and I am so grateful to them.

I would like to offer some “counter” mantras/bits of wisdom for all of those who struggle keeping the voices at bay. I hope you take them, savor them, hug them, and USE them:

  • From my therapist: ” I have never met ANYONE who wants something so bad and has worked tirelessly for it that wasn’t anxious. That is part of the territory. It has no effect on your ability to become pregnant.”
  • There are thousands upon thousands of vegetarians who have kids. Meat wasn’t what helped them get there. UPDATE: Approximately 31-40% of India is vegetarian. Last I heard they were doing pretty okay with population. In fact word on the street is, they have a lot of people.
  • Emaciated people all over the world have kids, its not your weight.
  • Does everyone who has kids not have any stress? No, its ridiculous to think everyone who got pregnant was cool as a cucumber.
  • From my therapist: “People can handle adversity, but suspended adversity is a whole other beast. It is normal and expected to be angry and anxious.”
  • I am healthy.

It is not our fault. We were dealt a really shitty hand. We did not do anything to cause this.

-Annie

 

TOP 10 things NOT to say to someone going through IVF

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:
  • Friends and family of Infertile couples
  • Infertile couples who totally get this post
  • TOP 10 Things not to Say to Infertile Women (or Men):

10. “Me not getting _______________ (insert dog, clothes, anything really) is like me not being able to have a baby!”

9. “You have to just let your body do its thing.”

8. “When your baby is crying in the middle of the night you will think, why did I want this?”

7. “Are you eating well? Maybe it’s that!”

6. “Get used to feeling this terrible, thats what having kids is like.”

5. “You gained weight? Well get used to that!” — NOTE: VERY DIFFERENT BECAUSE YOU HAVE A CHILD, PRETTY WORTH THE EXTRA LBS.

4. “It’s just not the right time. It will happen when its the right time.”

3. “I really think people’s thoughts control their bodies.”

2. “I dont know what’s wrong, I mean someone could sneeze on me and I would get pregnant.”

1. “Just be positive.”

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A fantastic article (Not Everything Happens for a Reason: The Magic Words to Say When Everything is Going Wrong) about empathy  hits on many of the reasons why these are the WRONG things to say. You  can read it HERE. Be a good friend and read the the article.

While the “be positive” advice is coming from a good place, it is still hurtful. The underlying issues with these are: they are privileged, they suggest it’s your fault, they are just plain insensitive. DON’T DO IT.

As the article says, “Instead, the most powerful thing you can do is acknowledge. To literally say the words: I acknowledge your pain. I’m here with you. Note that I said with you, not for you. For implies that you’re going to do something. That’s not for you to enact. But to stand with your loved one, to suffer with them, to do everything but something is incredibly powerful.”

-Annie