Surrender: A Fertility Success Story (In Honor of Mother's Day!)

Written by Lindsey Lederer, Guest Blogger

It’s true what they say – so much can change in a year. One year ago today I was two days away from my embryo transfer and I was full of hope, but my heart was guarded. I had been on this road before and both times I hit roadblocks. This time felt different. I had a different protocol and a different mindset. I had chosen a word to be my theme for 2018. My word of was “surrender”; To let things be as they may, and I took this to heart going into transfer day.

The journey of infertility for me was about letting go of the lack of control. I sought to let go of things out of my control and tried to focus on those things I could to help me gain confidence. One of the things I could control from the very beginning were the doctors that I chose to work with and the team I chose to help me on my journey.

Being in the Bay Area, I am fortunate to have so many great practices around me to choose from. I wanted to find the right one for me, however, and my advice to anyone looking to start or restart this journey is to make sure you’ve done your research – after all, your future children depend on it. I called around to a variety of clinics and described to the teams what I was looking for and, I think because I was able to articulate what I knew would be best for me, they matched me with the perfect doctor to accompany me on this journey.

I narrowed down the clinics by using the following websites and I would recommend them to anyone embarking on a fertility journey:  https://www.sart.org/which is helpful to see the success rates of the clinics, and https://www.fertilityiq.com/  which provides helpful reviews of clinics/doctors from patients as well as a variety of resources and articles about the infertility world.

I had met with other doctors before and wasn’t satisfied until I met with Dr. Reid. Dr. Reid was a good fit for me because she had the ability to be direct and at the same time deliver information in a practical yet sensitive way. She also was a great fit for me because she didn’t stand by a one size fits all protocol which I really appreciated.  My advice to anyone going through this journey is to find your Dr. Reid. She’s one of my favorite people in the world, not only because she helped me get my beautiful little girl, but because she never lost hope and never stopped putting the pieces of my puzzle together. It’s easy to lose hope on this journey. It’s easy to want to throw in the towel. I was on the roller coaster for many years and experiences two miscarriages and 4 canceled FET cycles. I can remember being frantic and asking what else I could do, and Dr. Reid was always there to lay out the new plan of action and provide comfort.

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 At one point I was considering if I should go through another IVF cycle to make new embryos (I had 5 frozen at the time) and she said something to me that I will never forget. “I know it’s hard to see in the future Lindsey, but I see baby showers. I see the family you have always wanted; you have 5 beautiful embryos and I feel confident that we (I love how she always said ‘we’) can get you pregnant. If we get to a place where we need to make new embryos – we will. But for now, we aren’t there yet.”

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When I interviewed clinics, this is exactly the kind of care I was looking for. Yes, I wanted a clinic that had great numbers and results on paper, but I wanted to work with a doctor that personalized my journey and provided optimism and assurance when the road got hard and that is what Dr. Reid did.

I just saw Dr. Reid last week and was able to introduce her to my daughter and it was hard to fight back the tears. My double rainbow baby was meeting the person who helped get her to us. A year later I would have never imagined being where I am today. I am beyond grateful and don’t take anything for granted.  Find your Dr. Reid; it helps make the journey a little less daunting and when they can take the grey out of your saddest days to help clear the sky, it makes the journey more bearable.

Resiliency and Infertility: NIAW 2019

Spring is a time for renewal, rebirth, hope, and strength for many; but for those struggling with infertility, it is a reminder that another year has come full circle with no baby. Most folks experiencing infertility have been in a process of trying to conceive for several years, and this time can be a painful reminder of new life that they long for, but do not have.

My personal struggle and many of the clients I see in my practice, express how this time is yet another painful anniversary of yet another year gone by. They often say: “All these other people are on their second baby, third baby and moving forward... and I just feel so stuck...”

This experience is so normal! And, reflecting on my own process, and well as those of my clients, it feels important to express, that even amidst the struggle, pain, grief, heartbreak, and other challenging aspects of navigating infertility…. this truly can be a time for cultivating a healthy perspective on resilience, persistence, hope, and faith.

If this applies to you, just as this is a time of reminders that yet another year has gone by, it is also a ripe time to reflect on how far you have come. This is a time to examine the thought trains in your mind and ask -- is this really true? Or is this the anxiety, the what ifs, telling you it is never going to happen?

It is a time to look back and use hindsight to show yourself how you really do have a tremendous capacity to get through a lot of really challenging things and come out on the other side.

If this resonates with your story, pause here. Take a few moments to go through a practice I use with myself and with my clients.

Start by taking a few deep breaths. Close your eyes if it helps you drop in.

The first step is acknowledgment.

Notice where you are in this moment in your journey while reading this blog post. Notice what feelings and emotions are alive in your body. Stay with this for a minute or so, simply being with where you are, even if it feels uncomfortable. It’s ok to feel. To feel sad, broken, or jealous…..Observe all that comes up.

Next, embrace.

Embrace the courage to sit with these and all feelings that arise. See if you can honor that it is acceptable to be where you are, no matter what is present. Notice your coping style - numbing, shoving down or out, going from 0 to 100….see if you can embrace it all, whatever coping mechanism or emotion is there. Embrace even negative thinking. Don't do anything with it. Just give it grace. See yourself, just honoring what is.

Walk through.

Now is the time to take a step in a direction that is nurturing, nourishing, and healthy. Now is the time to notice the thinking patterns and to choose hope through the eyes of disappointment. Now is the moment to choose to let go of ‘what if’ fearful thinking. Now is the moment to choose to acknowledge, embrace and walk through the perspective of despair.

Easier said than done. I know…I really do.

So to get even more practical, in this moment you have the power to choose a more logical line of thinking, which really does alter so much mentally, emotionally, and physiologically. So in this moment, here are some ideas to help you pivot: pick an affirmation to use, write it down, and repeat it to yourself for a few minutes. Tune in and ask yourself what self care you need in this moment. Decide to put on an uplifting podcast. Call a friend and receive support. Ask your higher power for guidance.

It only takes one step, then another, and before you know it you are gaining momentum on the path towards restoration, renewed hope, and thriver thinking. This is the key to building resilience and the ability to overcome. To welcome in courage, perseverance, and support. To engage physical, emotional, sexual, spiritual and financial self care. You really can practice gratitude while grieving.

You are not alone…. Just like we discuss in our support group - any type of family building can feel isolating and lonely, especially when there is a struggle. So if this applies to your journey this Spring, see if you can pause for a few minutes to do the above exercise and take a step towards renewal.

And most importantly, remember you are not alone. You do not have to feel this way…..If there is someone you know personally who has struggled or might have struggled, take the risk to reach out and connect. If you are not currently working with a therapist or coach, take the step to find someone with experience helping clients through their fertility challenges. Also check out the work being done for this years National Infertility Awareness Week; there are so many resources to help you navigate what can be a tumultuous journey.

I wish you all some beautiful moments enjoying the sunshine and fresh growth this Spring. If navigating infertility is a part of your life at this moment, even amidst some painful reminders, I want to affirm to you that there are so many reasons to hope. And that there is so much more to be revealed.

TICK TOCK……Check Your Fertility Clock!

INFERTILITY is a disease that affects millions of Americans, and the numbers are rising each year. 1 out of 8 couples will be diagnosed this year. If you are under 35, Infertility is the inability to conceive a child after one year of unprotected sexual intercourse. If you are over 35, it is the inability to conceive after six months of unprotected intercourse. Infertility is also the inability to carry a pregnancy to term, so persons who have had recurrent miscarriages or who have lost a child by stillbirth are struggling with this disease as well.  Infertility is shared equally, 30% male factor and 30% female factor. The other 40% is a combination male/female factor and “unexplained” infertility after all tests fail to explain the problem.

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The Impact of Infertility on Women’s Mental Health

Infertility is a disease that affects millions of Americans, and the numbers are rising each year. For women under the age of 35 years, infertility is defined as the inability to conceive a child after 1 year of unprotected sexual intercourse. For women aged 35−40 years, it is defined as inability to conceive after 6 months of unprotected intercourse. For women over the age of 40 years, it is the inability to conceive after 3 months of unprotected intercourse. Infertility is also the inability to carry a pregnancy to term, such as in cases of recurrent pregnancy loss. The cause of infertility is shared equally by both sexes; 30% is male-factor infertility and 30% is female-factor infertility. The remaining 40% of cases are caused by a combination of male and female factors or are “unexplained” infertility, in which all tests fail to identify a cause.

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