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Pregnancy Not Your Thing? You’re Not Alone

 I’m 34 weeks pregnant with Baby #1, and it’s taken me an hour to get the first sentence of this story typed. I blame the restless legs, heartburn, aggressive kicking, baby brain, aching lower back, tiny feet stuck under my ribs and grumbling stomach all caused by this 5 pound tiny human squished in my uterus. While I’m not ungrateful and I don’t love my unborn child any less than other women, I’m going to be honest and admit that I don’t love being pregnant. Gasp!

 Over the years I’ve heard many of my friends gush about their pregnancy and about how magnificent each step was and how beautiful they felt. They loved it! Perhaps you have a few friends like that? The ones who talk about how thick and shiny their hair is, the glow of their skin, how each kick they feel is the most earth shattering feeling they have ever felt and how their sex life is better than ever.  If you are one of those women, congratulations! I say, Bulls..t.

 After a battle with infertility and a severe case of ovarian hyper stimulation (a rare side effect of fertility drugs) my husband and I were fortunate to get pregnant! Besides the physical pain of getting pregnant, there was emotional pain.  I started the pregnancy carrying twins and by the end of the first trimester only one remained. Doctors call it a “vanishing twin”, in non-doctor terms I miscarried one of our babies. 

The Tao of Gratitude

My yoga teacher is hung up on gratitude. Got something good going on? Show gratitude! Got something bad going on? Show gratitude! She focuses on opening our hips and expanding our hearts because “open hips = happy heart.” And a happy heart is a grateful one.

After a stretchy sequence to eke open our hips more — more — MORE — the instructor closed our practice with this quote during savasana, the pose of total relaxation at the end of class:

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.

— Melody Beattie

Those words led to big emotions on my mat.

My journey through infertility and adoption flashed before my eyes. My sickly, failure-of-a-body has evolved into something I love, both in the way it looks and functions. The dark days during which I nearly lost the will to live were juxtaposed with the brilliant light I found in an online infertility community. My empty arms and longing heart gave way to a fantastically full home — basketballs, laundry, toys and the two children who leave those things all over. Everyday chaos is balanced by the calm stillness I find when I draw my attention solely to the space on my mat.

Yin yangIn my mind’s eye were a thousand tao symbols, each one symbolizing the duality of yin/yang becoming the unity of The Tao.

  • Day + night = a day
  • Good + evil = humanity
  • Passionate Democrats + passionate Republicans = Americans
  • Broken + forgiveness = wholeness
  • An Infertile + a superfertile  = open adoption
  • Self-loathing + self love = me

It was bliss. I felt gratitude for every single thread in the tapestry that is my life.

May your November be full of things to be grateful for.

Images: LavenderLuz.com and digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Lori blogs from metro-Denver at LavenderLuz.com. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, written with her daughter’s birth mom, will be published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2013.

Embracing the Chaos of IVF Part 6: One Journey Ends, Another Begins

It’s now time for us to end our infertility journey and move on to this new one that will add another member to the Stone family. This new journey includes getting rid of the boxes of girl clothes and figuring out where to put all of that important stuff I’ve stashed in the baby room’s closet, formerly known as our guest bedroom. Like most journeys, we’ve had a few bumps in the road and luckily, our bumps have been minor so far.

We recently found out we’re having a boy. Finally, more testosterone to balance out all of the female hormones in our house! A sense of relief has come over Barry knowing he’ll have another dude to share the “boy smell” burden with in the family now. We have a male dog, but he doesn’t really count since he’s neutered. Of course, Maya originally preferred to have a little sister to dress up the moment it came out of the womb, but she is coming around to having a little brother. At 24 weeks, most of my fear has subsided, with a few panic moments here and there.

Some aspects of my pregnancy are similar to what I experienced with Maya – the insatiable cravings for watermelon and queso dip, nighttime back pain and the exhaustive quest to find the perfect nursing bra. But some things aren’t, like how

Embracing the Chaos of IVF Part 5: Our W.T.F. Moment and Amazing News!

A few weeks after the failed IVF attempt, it was time to prepare for round two. After we got Nancy home from rehab, we agreed we needed a family vacation before we tried again. We hadn’t been to Florida in a few years so we decided it was time to head south and visit family and friends. The vacation also included a full day at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, a day at Sea World and a trip to the beach. We were able to put our infertility struggles behind us and relish in the present moment, which is what we needed to do for ourselves and Maya. It’s a good thing we did or we would have missed out on some great memories, like watching Maya give Peter Pan directions to her house.

After a week of fun, it was time to head home to Denver. We would be home in time for Memorial Day and I was looking forward to the long weekend. As the plane took off, I started to feel a little queasy. I didn’t think much of it because I hadn’t flown in a while and thought I was just out of practice. After we got home, I still couldn’t shake the feeling and began to think I had caught a stomach bug. After all, we just spent a week using public restrooms, touching theme park handlebars and exposing ourselves to airplane germs. A stomach bug makes sense, right?

On Memorial Day, I still felt nauseous and a crazy thought came to me. Maybe I was pregnant. Of course, my next thought was, there’s no way I could be pregnant.

Embracing the Chaos of IVF Part 4: Finding Positive Ways to Cope

Our first IVF attempt failed and it was now time to prepare for our second attempt. Before that happened, I had to mentally prepare myself to try again. As a self-proclaimed control freak and non-practicing Catholic, I knew it would not be easy for me to just have faith that things would work out as they should. I needed to be strong enough to handle what was to come – baby or no baby – and I couldn’t do it alone and couldn’t expect my family to manage my stress either.

After the miscarriage last spring, I searched for ways to manage the stress in positive ways as I knew infertility treatments would be an emotional rollercoaster for my family and me. I searched for alternative methods instead the typical ones like psychotherapy, prescription medications and lots of alcohol. I felt I would have to take plenty of medications while trying to get pregnant that I didn’t want to add more to the mix. I also wanted to find options that didn’t break the bank either.

Here are three methods that have helped me manage all of the ups and downs of my infertility journey:

Embracing the Chaos of IVF Part 3: Learning to have a little faith

When I got home from the PRSA Western District Conference that Monday night, my husband Barry was awake in the den and the door to my mother-in-law’s apartment downstairs was still open. Usually, her door is shut by this time of night, but since Barry was still awake I didn’t think anything of it. I went upstairs and got ready for bed. Within seconds, my smile vanished as I heard Barry yell my name. I ran downstairs to find out what was wrong, but couldn’t find Barry. I heard my name again and quickly realized it was coming from Nancy’s place. As I turned the corner of her stairs, I saw Barry standing over Nancy who was immobile on the floor.

She explained that she tripped over her magazine rack and fell on her hip. Watching her lay there in pain while we waited for the ambulance was one of the scariest things I’ve ever experienced. It was like staring at my own mortality. Even though my dad died when he was fairly young, his rapid deterioration from cancer seemed so rare to me that it didn’t put mortality in the forefront. But, this was different. This was an accident that could happen to anyone, at anytime.

In typical fashion, I remained

Embracing the Chaos of IVF: The Game Plan

After surgery to remove the ectopic pregnancy in early January, we laid out our game plan for our first attempt at IVF. I like calling it a game plan as much as Dr. Swanson does because it makes the process feel more like a game of flag football rather than just a legs-in-stirrups marathon, like a competition of sorts (me, competitive? Never!) It also makes me feel like we have a team of cheerleaders nearby to keep our spirits high. I imagine our Conceptions team dressed up in uniforms with shirts that say “Go Team Stone” on the front in blue waving pom-poms and yelling, “V-I-C-T-O-R-Y! Hold that V!” You can picture that too, right?

The plan was to first check my resting follicle count and AMH levels (aka ovarian reserve of quality, healthy baby-making follicles) after two menstrual cycles post-surgery. All was well there. Next, we had our 4-hour consultation to learn how the art of love-making and the science of baby-making would join forces to help us get pregnant. During the consultation, we quickly realized that we were no longer waiting for the prime ovulation time to show up on a pee stick. Instead, each step would be methodical, from when to start on birth control, where to inject the medications and when to get ultrasounds to check the follicle count. They gave us a color-coded calendar so we could keep track of everything. Clearly, they’ve done this before.

I also had to have more legs-in-stirrups tests like a sonohysterogram, Doppler ultrasound and a trial transfer to ensure my girly parts were up-to-snuff and Doc could find the right spot for the egg when it was time. The trial transfer was the most painful, not because of the process, but because I had to drink a bunch of water prior to the procedure and couldn’t pee until it was over. That was fun, really. And why is it when you have to pee all you can think about is a running waterfall?

Then it was time to get my medications. Our insurance company had approved the IVF attempt a while back so getting approvals for the meds should have been super easy, right? Not in our case. It took two weeks and daily stalking calls for Conceptions to get the green light to order the meds. During this time, our refrigerator and garage door decided to break so I had to juggle work, insurance company phone call stalking, repairmen visits and run the household since Barry was out of town. I kept thinking this was all a test of my will so I kept plugging on.

Finally, on Friday, March 9, the box of meds came. Typically, when I think of meds, I think of an orange plastic bottle with a white cap. For IVF, the box looked like I ordered several pairs of shoes and they all shipped together. I opened the box, and pulled out the first box of meds, then the second, then the third…I thought I would never get the bottom. It was kinda like Christmas except instead of shiny gifts, I got syringes and boxes of meds containing little glass bottles of powdered stuff and sterile water. The only mix up was a missing ice pack for one of the meds, but the pharmacy sent me an overnight package with a new bottle secured in an ice pack. A minor setback, but it didn’t mess up our timing.

On Saturday morning after I got the last bottle, I laid it all out on our dining room table, which seats six. I kept waiting for the DEA to show up at my door and demand a raid of our house. Thank goodness that didn’t happen, my house was a mess. I went in for a final ultrasound to ensure my lining was thin and my estrogen levels were low later that day as well. On Sunday, I got a message from the nurse informing me that “everything looks perfect” and “Congratulations, you’re on your way!”

Things felt good, things felt right. We had our game plan. I was to start the shots on Monday, March 12, one grouping in the morning and one at night. I had practiced giving myself the shots in the abdomen so I wasn’t worried about hurting myself. I even had a PRSA Western District Conference event that night, but I was prepared with the shots ever so cleverly concealed in my purse. I’m a master multi-tasker and really wanted to see my fellow PRSA Coloradoans. Yep, our game had begun, and hopefully we would only have to play four quarters with no overtime in order to win.

Dana Stone is a public relations consultant specializing in healthcare communications. She lives in Highlands Ranch with her husband, 5-year-old daughter, mother-in-law and two golden retrievers. She is currently seeking infertility treatments at Conceptions Reproductive Specialists of Colorado.

A Denver mom’s journey with infertility and IVF

I’m a Southerner-turned-mountain-lover living in South Denver and recently, I’ve been dealing with infertility . It’s more common than I ever thought and I now understand why it’s so hard on women and families. I’ve decided to share my story with the Mile High Mamas in hopes it will help others who are going through the same thing, and we can share a laugh or two along the way.

Here’s my story.

Barry and I got married in Atlanta in 2004, and we decided to hold off on having children for a year because

Assess, Ask and Act: How You Can Support Someone Through Loss and Transition

Trying to support a friend or family member while they are going through a major life transition can be a very helpless feeling.  We don’t know what to do, what to say, or how to act.  Are we being supportive enough?  Are we too much “in their business”?  I haven’t heard from her in awhile…does that mean she wants me to leave her alone?

My “major life transition” happened four years ago when I became a widow.  Since then, I have realized that the need for support doesn’t just happen when someone dies:  Divorce, job loss, infertility…so many things can completely change the scope or our lives.  And in fact, that’s what loss is:  Losing the life you thought you were going to have.

If someone you know struggles with fertility

Because infertility strikes 1 in 6 couples who are trying to conceive, chances are you know or will know someone struggling to get through it. Maybe you even are one.

I am. Or I was a decade ago. I went through the shame and pain of infertility in isolation. Little did I know that there were millions of women in the same boat who could have helped guide my way.

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