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Embarking on the Infertility Rollercoaster

roller_coaster
An Interview with Julie Pierce

click to listen

Have you been trying for a baby for a while now, and you’re now having to seek alternative methods to conceive successfully?

Have you been going down the road of IUI’s and IVF’s and still on that rollercoaster journey?

Have you experienced loss during your journey – with miscarriage in early stage or even late stage of pregnancy?

Wherever you are on this journey, it’s becoming commonly known that there are few things everyone experiences:

  • obsession with the fertility process
  • loss of balance with self, life and partnerships
  • a seeking for supporting the body and mind through alternative therapies
  • a confusion on which choices to make and when

and so much more…

In this interview, I’ll be sharing what to expect through this journey in much more detail and informaiton on how best to support yourself during your experience.  I’ll also share about my journey of heartache and success, and what I know you can do differently to feel whole, balanced, and healthy on your journey.

Please share this with anyone you think might also be interested.

Talk to you soon!

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You’re Not Alone – Small Groups and Workshops

group_feetDo you feel like a freak?

Let me assure you, although your body is not doing what you expected it should do — and most likely what you had been actively preventing it from doing for many years — you are in good company. Knowing that fact and connecting with others who are experiencing similar frustrations and disappointments can go a long way to keeping your sanity in residence.

It’s old news that reducing stress is one of the most important things to do when you’re trying to conceive or heal in any way. But it’s also well-known that the very message “stress less” is like saying, “don’t imagine Super Man flying.”  Too late!

What if you could be part of a group that wasn’t just set up for complaining and commiserating, but provided acknowledgement of your painful reality as well as proven ways to relieve that pain?

Because I know the value and strength that you can draw from being a part of such a community, I am putting together small groups and workshops specifically for women who are facing or who have faced fertility challenges. These are small groups specifically for women like you and me.

If you’d like more information about these opportunities, please contact me to let me know which of the following small groups interest you:

  • Repeatedly trying to conceive with no conception
  • Compounding grief due to repeated miscarriage
  • Compounding grief due to late term demise

I’ll send you details as I get a feel for how many are interested and where most of us are located. And if you like being able to participate in a group remotely, there will be opportunity for that as well. So for all the details, let me know who you are and how I can reach you.

Fertility Journey Survey: Findings

Many women would have liked the support of a fertility coach from the beginning of the fertility journey and believe it would have reduced much confusion, fear, frustration, overwhelm, and the slide toward depression.

In February 2012, I began surveying women about their experience with the pursuit of parenthood and the fertility challenges that came up for them. By the end of March, I closed the survey so that I could take some time to organize and reflect on what participants had shared with me.

Depending on the ability to coordinate schedules and each woman’s desired level of participation, some surveys were conducted on the phone, in person, or via an electronic form. Much of the survey content is derived from the story-telling of each journey, but there were some yes/no and categorized-answer questions as well.

While each journey is significantly unique, there are some very clear common threads, the most obvious one being the focused, driving desire to become a parent. This focus is usually directed toward becoming pregnant, but sometimes intended parents find themselves making choices from a menu they had never considered part of their palette.

Here are some of the highlights:

93% of survey respondents have had, are having, or plan to have fertility treatments of one kind or another. Treatments are defined as actions on the physical body to enhance chances of conception and delivery. These actions may include acupuncture, herbs, dietary changes, application of oral or injectable medications or hormones, medical investigative procedures, and surgeries.

67% of participants who are no longer trying to conceive and deliver their first child said they would have liked the support of a fertility coach during their fertility journey. Many sought out support from online forums and friends who had also experienced challenges. Many expressed an interest in a managed and directed support group for women specifically going through same treatment protocols provided by fertility clinics. Many also believed that having the support of a fertility coach from the beginning of the journey would have reduced much confusion, fear, frustration, overwhelm, and the slide toward depression.

On average, women tried for 3 or more years before actually conceiving and carrying to term or giving up on the idea of carrying their own baby. This includes women experiencing secondary infertility as well as those trying to have their first baby.

It surprised me that only 17% of the women I surveyed were considering adoption or had found adoption to be the right answer for them. Those who have adopted are consistently and markedly passionate about their choice, and they generally feel moved to encourage others to include this option on their list of possibilities.

In general, the use of donor eggs and the option of surrogacy were not included in the vision of possibilities even when I asked the question directly. The idea of donor eggs evoked sadness at the thought that they would not be part of the makeup of their child. Some women were turned off by the cost of these two options, which is interesting in light of the fact that almost 20% would consider adoption even with it’s high cost. However, it is informative to remember that foster-to-adopt programs greatly reduce the cost.

94% of the women I surveyed responded that they experienced a couple or all of the following feelings: failure; disappointment; betrayal.

67% of the participants believe they would make different choices if they were to rewind and start over. The most popular changes mentioned include:

~ Moving forward with life goals and activities instead of putting life on hold while trying to conceive
~ Letting the desire to be a parent affect them sooner rather than waiting for the “right” time
~ Discontinuing relationships that got in the way of pursuing the desire to become parents
~ Getting clear on the desire to be parents and seeking help sooner
~ Pursuing satisfying information and answers, no longer tolerating unanswered questions and confusion

Although there are plenty of other larger, more clinical and academic surveys done in this area, I wanted to do my own query into the things that struck me personally as important considerations. The questions I created were initially sparked from reflecting on my own fertility challenges and the desire to have a fuller understanding of the vast range of experiences encountered on this path. I have learned so much by connecting with the survey participants and their stories, and I know that the quality of the service I can provide has improved as a result of this expanded perspective.  Thank you to everyone who contributed and participated.

If you are interested in sharing your fertility journey story with me — whether you’re just beginning, are in the middle of it, or have moved on — I would love to hear from you. Please contact me in any of the ways mentioned on my Contact Page. If you have comments or thoughts about the results I’ve presented here, please share in the comments thread below the post.

Have you been the partner, friend, or relative of someone facing fertility challenges? I’d love to hear your observations of their journey too. Please contact me using any of the ways presented on my Contact Page.

I look forward to hearing from you and thanks for reading.

Fertility Awareness: Am I Infertile?

Graphic courtesy of RESOLVE niaw page

April hosts National Infertility Awareness Week. What exactly are we talking about here? As a general rule, the medical community considers a couple to be infertile if they have not been able to conceive after one year of regularly trying without contraception. If a woman is 35 or older, six months without a conception under these circumstances gets her this charming label.

I disagree with this classification. Infertile means you can’t conceive. While there may be challenges and obstacles in the way to achieving conception, simply the result of no conception without further investigation does not lead to the condemning classification of infertility, in my humble opinion.

New science is finding that the widely held belief that at birth we get all the eggs we’ll ever have as a female is being dismantled. We are also learning that there are in fact actions we can take pre-menopause to still influence the quality of our eggs.

In the meantime, the CDC and other sources indicate that approximately 12% or 1 in 8 face the challenges of infertility. Well, to be accurate, these sources actually declare these women and couples to actually be infertile. Just because you haven’t conceived for a year or more of trying, doesn’t mean you ultimately can’t. And beyond that, none of this means you can’t one day still become a parent.

If you are concerned that you might be infertile, start asking a lot of questions. Start with other women who are moms. I bet you’ll find more women than you thought had a challenge or two to overcome before they joined the Mommy Club. Get some testing done. If you’re primary care doctor won’t help you out, find a specialist in your area. If you are hearing answers you don’t like and you still have questions, go for another opinion. There are a lot of things that can get in the way — physical and emotional — when it comes to conception. And, thankfully, there are many ways to remove these obstacles and a variety of options that support your desire to become a parent.

Do you have fertility concerns? If so, are you taking action around these concerns? What do you think about the medical definition of infertility? Please comment below. I always love to hear from you.

Coach Louise and Coach Julie

Dear blog reader,

Coach Louise began this blog with the intention that it be a place to share stories, ask questions, get support in a safe place of understanding and compassion, as well as a source for information on the topic of infertility, miscarriage, treatments etc. I am so excited to be taking over the administration of the blog and continuing on the mission of supporting you on your unique fertility journey. If you’d like to know more about me and what I offer, please click About Julie or visit Whole Vision Coaching. I’m so glad you’re here. Most importantly, I really want you to understand that you are not alone and this part of your adventure does not define who you are.

Having experienced the frustrations of unexplained infertility personally, I recognize that the experience can be isolating when the people around you don’t necessarily understand what you are going through. It is also often the first crisis couples come up against where there is really no control over the outcome. I want to connect with you and give you as much support as possible to lead a life full of joy and balance no matter the outcome of your pursuit of parenthood. I can also help to guide you and propose different alternatives that you might not have considered yet from a purely objective point of view.

Ultimately, I can offer you a space like a comfy sofa that you can fall into to feel comforted and reassured and so much more while on this unexpectedly challenging journey.

With love,
Coach Julie