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The decision of trying to conceive during chronic illness

(written by contributing writer Jessica)

All of my life I dreamed having a large family. I must have been sheltered because I never once remember hearing things like ‘miscarriage’, ‘PCOS’, or ‘chronic illness’. I thought if you wanted a baby, you would have one.

My bubble of security was busted after my first miscarriage. My feelings were all over the place, but fear of never having a child ranked high up in my list of worries.

A few years down the road, I also never imagined I’d have to weigh my health into the equation about the decision of trying to conceive.

the decision of trying ton conceive during chronic illness

The decision to wait until I’m healthier has been a heart breaking one, that included a lot of prayer and conversations with my husband. It is a joint decision that we pray is the right one at this time. Our hearts are ready to try but my body is not.

Chronic illness, in many cases is a delicate balance from day-to-day depending on the condition. A delicate balance that pregnancy can completely offset.

How do you decide if it is the right time to try to conceive when you are managing a chronic health condition?

 Here is a brief list that helped me to logically see the answer that was right for us.

Prayer. 

Prayer is the first step that our family uses when making a decision.

What does your doctor say?

While I don’t think your doctor is the end all be all in making this decision, they should have an educated opinion on how your condition is going to effect a pregnancy and your baby. They may also have helpful things to do to get your body ready to try to conceive. The other great thing about doctors in this situation is they do not have the same person feelings invested and can give you a logical look at things.

How would your illness effect a pregnancy?

Some times the chronic illness itself until controlled can negatively impact a pregnancy and the baby. Or, will the supplements or medications you need daily have an effect on the pregnancy or baby while in the uterus? These are two things to heavily factor into the process of deciding if it is the right time to try to conceive.

How do you feel?

If you are in mid flair or experiencing a lot of symptoms, how would a pregnancy effect that? I know in my heart right now that a pregnancy would add a very large burden to my already very taxed body. I would be short-changing a new little life and depleting myself of already scarce resources.

What is your time line for healing?

What if by waiting a few months your body can be more fully loaded and healed to take on the burden of a pregnancy? It’s good to have a goal and then prepare the body for pregnancy.

There are so many things to weigh when making a the decision to try to conceive while you are manage a chronic health issue. It’s even more tough when your heart is already longing for a child. However, taking the time to heal and get your body in shape is only going to help pave the way for a healthier you and pregnancy.

What are some of the things that you had to consider when making the decision of trying to conceive during a chronic illness?

 

 

 

Dreaming of babies: the realities of infertility

(Written by contributing writer Natasha)

dreaming of babies

I was in the shower when I realized that I was having a baby. I didn’t even know I was pregnant, but it was obvious that I was giving birth. I screamed for my husband to come take me to the ER. No one answered. I kept screaming for help until finally my mom showed up.

By then I had a teeny, tiny baby boy. He had dark hair and the same chin that all my brothers and I have, very defined with a little dimple in it. He was breathing but I knew he wouldn’t be for long.

But instead of helping me get out to the van, my mom started gathering all these strange children together. Eight of them, to be exact. I stood there, holding this tiny little baby who was turning blue, and watching them all come down the stairs. I was crying and BEGGING Mom to just stick them in the van and she gave me this disgusted look and said, “Now, Tasha, we can’t take them until we get them all dressed and buckled into their seats.” I must have looked shocked because she added, “I can’t believe how selfish you’re being. What’s the point of saving one baby if you’re not going to take proper care of all the rest?”

I sat right down, rocked this itty bitty blue baby, and cried and cried.

The good news? My mother would never, ever, in a million years, be that horrible. The bad news? It was all a dream and I don’t really have a baby boy with dark hair and my chin.

And to be honest, my first thought on waking up had nothing to do with how terrible my mother had been in this dream. It had everything to do with feeling sad and empty because it wasn’t real and I didn’t have a baby or the hope of one. 

I’ve had so many dreams over the years about babies. Sometimes I wake up crying. Sometimes I just lay there, trying so hard to fall back asleep and continue the dream. Sometimes they are horrible and involve me not being able to save a baby or accidentally hurting one. Sometimes they are lovely,  like the time I was finally adopting this beautiful Ethiopian boy.

For a long time it made me angry. After the dream wore off and I was done feeling empty or lost or fearful, I would get so mad at God. I wanted to shake my fist at Him. I can exert some control over my waking thoughts, but what in the world am I suppose to do with dreams? 

I’ve learned since then that dreaming about babies while dealing with infertility is completely normal. People have shared all kinds of dreams with me. Sometimes sweet (those few delusional minutes of rocking a baby that you think is yours) sometimes horrible (the ones where the baby dies or someone in your family does something out of character) and sometimes even funny (like the time I dreamed that Walmart started carrying babies at greatly reduced prices).

In dealing with these (often undesired) dreams, I’ve found three helpful responses:

1. Pray.
God’s shoulders are big enough to carry any of the hurts that rush through our minds. He can handle our pain, our anger, our insecurities. So, when I wake up after a dream that leaves my heart heavy and empty– the best response is to talk to the only true source of comfort, Jesus.

2. Laugh.
Sometimes the best medicine is simply to laugh. I mean, seriously, can you imagine Wal-mart carrying babies at greatly reduced prices? (I must have been reading too much on adoption costs at that point!)

3. Share
Telling your spouse your dream can help tremendously.  It may also free him to share his own dreams with you. I’ve also been known to call up a friend, or my mother, the morning after a dream that keeps plaguing my mind, and sharing it with them. I’ve found that just talking about it– reminding my heart and mind that it was just a dream can be helpful.

What about you? Have you experienced any “infertility dreams”? 

How to reduce stress with time management

This morning I spent twenty minutes in front of my calendar, iPhone at my side beeping and carrying on, my inbox open in front of me and I got to work creating my week.

Did you hear the special word in there?  Creating.  Just say it for a second:  c-r-e-a-t-i-n-g.

Every week we get the privilege to create our week because we have a say in how it will go.  We have a say as to how we spend our time.

If you would have asked me that a year ago I would have blown you off.  At that time I was addicted to and completely run by the three friends I mentioned above: iPhone calling to me like a ship lost at sea, my inbox barking at me for attention, and my calendar telling that I just didn’t have enough time.

It was exhausting.

Worn out woman accounting in the living room

There was no fun in it.  Things fell through the cracks all the time: forgetting about client appointments because I either forgot to enter them while answering an email, my google calendar hadn’t refreshed so didn’t save the new event, returning phone calls, running errands, sending things back to school with the kids and the myriad of other things I can’t think to put in here because I’ve already forgotten them.

And then I feel like a jerk.  Like pulling my hair out because it makes me feel unreliable when I forget things. And the result of that is more stress.  Which makes me think there really is no extra time. And then I am a jerk and my life is ruled by several different colored blocks in my day.

Until I tried something different.  I gave up resisting my schedule.

And saw miracles so exciting I have to share:

Miracle #1:

I created spending five minutes at the beginning of the week confirming my appointments for the week, fewer clients forgot their times and I had double checked on my end so there were fewer mistakes over here.

Miracle #2:

I took my nine colored categories and slimmed them down to five.  Family, paid client time, personal time, editorial calendar and self-care.  That’s all there really is in my life.  Clearly defined time with my husband/our girls and family, time with paying clients, personal development time (Higher Brain Living sessions, work with Landmark, tapping), editorial calendar time (writing, development, inbox), and self-care (exercise, acupuncture,massage/chiropractic, reading/writing, retreat).

Miracle #3:

I hired a virtual assistant eight weeks before the time I allotted.  We did a two-hour productivity session that got me clear on where I’m spending my time and where I need to spend my time.  We cleaned up my laundry lists and set to work a course of action that gets results.

Miracle #4:

I have waaaaay more time to freely spend doing everything I love.  And I have more time to do those things that need to get done (laundry, cooking,  housekeeping, errands) because I can clearly see where I have open blocks of time.

Miracle #5:

I feel very little stress compared to last year at this time.  I sleep better (and longer). I break out less.  I see more clients than ever before. When I am with our kids I’m actually present to their needs.  My gut checks me far more often than before, letting me know right in the moment if I am doing what I said I would or what I know should get done.

My ultimate new ninja strategy is structure.  I feared and resisted structure (insert toddler throwing a tantrum) because it felt so restrictive.  When I began to implement, I could feel the pull towards I Don’t Want To, yet the pull toward Your Life is Craving This won.

woman standing in sun

Structure bought me freedom.

So create for yourself a structure, and consider that by doing that you are creating your life.  Reach out to those around you who are in alignment with that and get the accountability you want to live the best life you have.

 

Infertility’s Identity

“You’re here to see the doctor about your infertility, right?” The nurse asked a seemingly casual question, but deep inside me it stung. It hurt. It burned my spirit with a searing brand of bitterness. It was the first time I had been labeled “infertile.” Up to that point my doctor visits had been pretty normal, except that we were having a hard time getting pregnant. And because my husband and I were both healthy, my doctor had not been too worried about our inability to conceive.

But this visit, it wasn’t about routine tests and checkups. We were there because we still were not pregnant. And the nurse was right: we were there to see the doctor about our infertility.

That diagnosis, that label brings with it a crazy mess of emotions, doesn’t it? In a way there was a sense of relief: our doctor made a diagnosis and we would finally get on track to finding answers and making a plan. But on the other hand, there was a deep sense of loss and grief: something was wrong and we didn’t know what. Everything about making a baby, starting a family was unknown to us. How long would it take? How much money would we spend? Would we ever conceive a child? How would we tell our parents?

For me, the label of infertility became my identity. It wasn’t just a diagnosis, it became who I was.

And infertility has so many identities:

…fear

…grief

…unanswered questions

…waiting

…the unknown

…needles

…doctor visits

…broken dreams

…tests, tests, and more tests

…heartbreak

And while these all describe the journey of infertility, there is one important aspect that we must never forget: HOPE.

When the days ahead are dark and filled with grief and questions and the unknown, we must hold onto the fact that our journey is one of hope. Unwavering, resilient hope.

So often our focus is on the painful, frustrating parts of infertility. So often we hone in on all of what we don’t have, and we fail to realize the driving force behind our journey – the passion that keeps us going – HOPE. And we have it in spades.

Infertility is many things. But most importantly, infertility is hope.

I want to share this printable with you today, feel free to download and print it – maybe it will encourage you as much as it has encouraged me.

Infertility IsWhat does infertility mean to you? How do you hold onto hope?

How to get along with your partner while trying to conceive

How to get along with your partner while trying to conceive

Making a baby should be fun.

You’re in love, you want to grow your family, you get to have sex.

Unfortunately this scenario can turn into the opposite pretty quickly.

You’re disagreeing, you’re not talking and you only have sex when required.

 

If you are shifting into this second scenario, know that you are not alone.

With the existing stress of work deadlines, finances and family, throwing a long, uncertain waiting game of challenged fertility into the mix can create a new level of stress.

Here’s a few things I see and what you can do about it.

1.   Imbalance of effort

Often the woman feels she is putting in way more time and energy than her partner.   She is probably right.  Frankly it is usually the woman doing the research, trying new foods, going through medical tests.

Solution:  There are ways your partner can contribute that can make you feel more supported.  For instance he can agree to ask you how you are feeling or what you are learning.  He can agree to take X supplement and stop eating Y food.

It’s important to have a conversation about what you request from each other in supportive, non-aggressive way.

 

2.  Different philosophies

Often the female wants a more natural approach and her partner wants things to be more medical.  Or maybe the female partner is ready to try an egg or sperm donor, but the male partner refuses.

Solution:  When you don’t see eye to eye, one solution is to create a timeline of what you are wiling to try until when.  You may agree to stay the natural course three more months before trying IUI, or maybe allow six months before considering a donor.

It’s important to not constantly reevaluate these timelines.  You may decide to change your mind, but constantly reconsidering a decision causes stress.

 

3.   Your sex life is suffering

This is an area where the male partner often gets resentful.  He feels as if you only want to have sex when you’re ovulating, and may feel you only care about his sperm.

Solution:  You both will enjoy sex more when you spend time trying new things or focusing on connecting instead of the fact that you just ovulated.

It’s important to remember that your connection to your partner is why you want to have a baby.  Keeping that connection strong now is as important as ever.  Dealing with infertility is not easy, but learning to work together through the hard times is a valuable skill.

 

 

What has helped you and your partner keep the love alive through thick and thin?

 

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