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Keep Calm and Carry On

Guest blog by Smita Parikh, MD, founder of The Fertility Advisor.

As a fertility coach, one of the most common questions I get asked is “how do I remain calm when dealing with the stress of infertility?” It is well know that one of the reasons infertility is so challenging is because couples feel they have no sense of control over the situation. But, I have good news – handling the stress of it all IS completely in your control. Below are a few practical tactics that I have found to be the most effective with my clients.

1) The daily ritual

Each day, give yourself 10-15 minutes to ACTIVELY think about and voice your true feelings about what is happening during your journey. Perhaps you need to cry, or perhaps you are frustrated that the nurse had to stick you three times to draw your blood at the fertility clinic, or you are feeling intense jealousy towards a friend who just announced their pregnancy. Don’t judge yourself or your feelings – just let them surface. When the time is up, it is time to let go. Envision putting all of these thoughts and emotions into a balloon and releasing it into the sky. With some practice, you will begin to free yourself from these burdening feelings and eventually feel much lighter over time.

2) Do something for others

Sometimes we get so caught up in our own lives that we forget that one of the best ways to feel better is to actually do something nice for other people. We are all dealing with our own challenges in life. Reach out to an old friend by sending them a fun gift/package, do something for your parents (my mom is always asking me to help her clean out the garage!), volunteer at a local organization. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, but just something you know will put a smile on someone else’s face. By giving yourself to others you will be the one to reap the benefits.

3) Fake it till you make it

If you want to be stress free and happy, then just start acting that way. See what happens. Spoiler alert: you will actually BE happy and stress free. Give it a go.

4) Move your body

I know you have heard this one before but that’s because it works. Put on some music and dance (I am not embarrassed to admit that 90’s pop music really puts me in a great mood). Go for a walk. Drop in a fun gym class. Do whatever it takes, but get your body moving everyday. Remember, as Elle Woods said in Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.”

I want to hear from you too! Please share your tips and tricks to dealing with the stress of infertility.

Keep Calm and Carry OnDr. Parikh received her MD from Tufts School of Medicine in Boston and trained in Internal Medicine. She also completed a fellowship in Clinical Innovation where she learned about the best ways to use technology to activate and engage patients in their own healthcare. On a personal level, she struggled with infertility and explored numerous treatments including both natural and medical therapies to get pregnant. As The Fertility Advisor, Dr Parikh uses her personal experience and medical expertise to help clients navigate the system, understand what all of their potential treatment options are, and provide ongoing emotional support.

Please visit www.thefertilityadvisor.com or email info@thefertilityadvisor.com for more information.

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Happy weekend, Ladies!

We’re so happy to share this wonderful success story from Linda – a 43 year old woman who used our programs to FINALLY get pregnant with her second child naturally.

By using our Natural Cycle for Fertility Program to alleviate her stress around trying to conceive, and tapping into the amazing power of the mind + body connection, Linda experienced the wonderful results that we hope for – for each and every one of our C + B community members.

Thank you so much for opening your heart and sharing your story, Linda. It’s truly a gift and an inspiration to see strength and courage like yours.

Hi Amy,

I just wanted to get in touch to say thank you!

After nearly 2 years of trying to conceive, including 2 rounds of IVF, one of which resulted in a pregnancy only to later miscarry, I had almost given up on ever getting pregnant again (I already had a little boy born in 2011). At 42 my chances were slim and the stress of trying to get pregnant was now starting to affect not only my relationship with my husband but also with my precious son.

After a negative result from my last frozen embryo early last year I decided to stop ‘trying’ for a few months. Time to let my body recover before I embarked on a search to find a different clinic for my last attempt at IVF (I had always said I would stop at 3). In this time ‘off’ I was going to stop everything I was doing to conceive – Chinese herbs, Acupuncture, ovulation kits and ‘timed’ sex with my husband.

A Miracle at 43 – Linda’s TTC Success Story

My relaxation started with a well-needed deep tissue massage and reflexology session. As the therapist asked me why I was there and why I had ticked ‘stressed’ on my consultation sheet, I broke down. I was so emotional it all came pouring out, my desperation to conceive and my stress at trying. The therapist was amazing, she told me that I had conceived before and that my body knew how to do it again, I just needed to relax and let it! I then had the most amazing massage and reflexology session that seemed to release so much of the tension I was carrying.

When I got home I decided to look for relaxation/ meditation recordings online to continue my quest for de-stressing, and that’s when I came across Circle and Bloom….

Everything I read was inspiring and gave me hope that I could do things naturally. I started to listen to your Natural Cycle for Fertility Program every night. I’m not sure I necessarily thought it would help me to conceive but I did believe it would help me relax.

A month passed, a month since the last failed IVF. With completely irregular periods I no longer had a cycle I could rely on but weirdly I felt pregnant. I didn’t say anything to my husband, as I didn’t really believe it could be true…. Then 4 days after my 43rd birthday, I did a pregnancy test and found out that I WAS PREGNANT! I couldn’t wait to show my husband! After all these years we’d done it – and 100% naturally! My body did know what to do!

The pregnancy was stressful, after trying for so long and the earlier miscarriage I was nervous throughout, but then on Christmas Eve our son was born and 7 blissful months later I still can’t believe it really happened.

I truly believe Circle + Bloom was instrumental for me to conceive, I’m only sorry that I didn’t come across you guys sooner!! Thank you again.

Linda

With love + gratitude ~
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The fertility journey presents us with many challenges, but it also gives us the opportunity to celebrate our strength and embrace each step forward with a confident and happy heart.

We’re continuing on with our special Fertility Circle Series and for this month’s post, we asked our resident joy-maker and soul-shaker Rosanne Austin to share her top 3 tips for feeling empowered during all aspects of the journey.

Rosanne Austin, creator of frommaybetobaby.com, is a fertility journey coach who combines lessons learned on her own fertility journey, with Co-Active Coaching principles, and tactical skills honed during her 10 years as a “force of nature” trial attorney, to provide parenthood hopefuls with the tools they need to create a fertility journey they love.

You may know Rosanne from Circle + Bloom’s secret Infertility Support Circle on Facebook. Rosanne acts as a moderator for the group and she has been instrumental in making the community a warm, accepting, informative, and just plain wonderful space. (If you’d like to join, just email us at amy@circlebloom.com!)

3 Tips/Strategies for Living Your Fertility Journey With Confidence

The Fertility Circle - Rosanne Austin

1) Be Clear About Who You Are

A turbulent experience with fertility can be a bitter cocktail of heartbreak, self-doubt, and fear. We feel frustrated, confused, and inadequate. It doesn’t help that we can feel overwhelmed by information, advice, and guidance coming from all directions. At a time when we are most vulnerable, how can we be sure about ourselves, and our choices?

Get crystal clear on your values.

Make a list of what they are. Truth? Compassion? Financial responsibility? Your values are an infallible compass. Leading from your values empowers you to make the best medical, financial, and journey defining decisions for you. Others may not understand or approve of them, but that’s OK. Your journey = your values. Stay true to you.

2) Choose Your Support System Wisely

Infertility is a subject that still puts many people on edge. It’s intimate and can be shrouded in shame. As much as our family and friends may love us, our struggle with fertility is something they may or may not ever understand. They may say or do things that cause us pain. Forgive them. Open your heart to the possibility that the support you desire may come from a different source.

Invite those who are genuinely positive, non-judgmental, and have lived this experience into your journey. Surround yourself with people who will consistently support you in pushing past any limiting beliefs you may have. Being seen, heard, and accepted for our truth is an undeniably powerful confidence boost.

3) Decide To Love Your Life No Matter What

What if you knew you were going to love your life no matter what? Would your heart sing with confidence? Would you spend less time agonizing during the two-week wait? Stop comparing yourself to other women? Reduce the crushing pressure you put on yourself?

Making this decision can change your life. It is the gift of acceptance and boundless hope that only we can give ourselves. It takes the power away from the current circumstances of your fertility and places it squarely where it belongs…in your hands. Let it keep you focused on a simple, but pivotal truth: You are more than your fertility. Choosing this mindset created a miracle in my life. It has empowered the women I have coached all over the world. Explore how it can work for you.

Rosanne Austin helps women living with fertility issues find clarity, confidence, and fulfillment, so they can love their lives, no matter what. Having spent years struggling with her own fertility during her career as a Deputy District Attorney, Rosanne has a unique understanding of the impact this experience can have on professional women. Drawing upon the practices that changed her life and her specialized training as a coach, Rosanne has mentored women all over the world using her bold, transformative, and creative style. Rosanne’s clients move beyond fear and frustration into joy, success and freedom. Rosanne’s work has been featured by Fertility Authority, the Fertility Revolution Podcast, and she has served as a commentator on KCBS and KSRO radio in the San Francisco Bay Area. To learn more about Rosanne and her work, visit www.frommaybetobaby.com

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When you Google “infertility” or “how to get pregnant” the flood of results on topics from LH, to FSH, ovulation, progesterone, temperature, and pituitary glands can be so overwhelming and technical that you’re left feeling anxious from reading all the things you should be doing, and completely exhausted by trying to decipher medical jargon.

All of the facts and figures are hard to understand, and it was even more difficult to see how exactly they are meant to help you conceive. So when I was on my fertility journey, I started looking for a solution that made sense to me.

As I researched and dug deeper for answers, I realized that guided visualization and the ability to tap into the power of the mind+body connection was the missing puzzle piece I’d been looking for.

Guided Visualization for Fertility

A robust (and ever-growing) body of research shows what meditation and relaxation can accomplish in our brains and how it connects with all facets of our bodies.

Scientists and doctors around the globe are finally catching on to the centuries old methods of how millions have approached a wonderful way of living, interacting and simply being.

Building on the principles of meditation and relaxation, this research demonstrates why visualization works. Here’s how – as we use our imagination to “see” a desired outcome – our subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between what we are imagining (which is why our perception or beliefs make such a huge difference in our health – look no further than the Placebo effect) and what we are physically seeing with our two eyes.

Through our subconscious, signals from those visualizations are sent to our cells. The cellular membrane lets in those signals, and viola, we change our cells!

When you enter a deeply relaxed and fully present state of visualization, as our programs are intended to help you do, you allow your subconscious mind to do the work and to take full control of the power it has to change what happens within your physical body.

The guided visualization techniques that we use in our programs tap into the power of the mind+body connection in 2 ways:

  • They provide a relaxing, yet powerful way to alleviate stress and to help you maintain a more positive and accepting outlook on your fertility journey
  • AND, they put the power of your subconscious to work by helping you to imagine what success would look like on your journey and conveying those messages on a cellular level

Do you see the amazing potential?!

With love + gratitude ~
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Finding your thing during fertility treatment can feel like a burden, but really it’s a wonderful opportunity to find new ways to be a happier healthier version of YOU.

Whether it’s taking yoga classes, meditating, doing weekly acupuncture sessions, or a starting a new and empowering exercise routine, there are many different practices that help to strengthen the mind + body connection and increase chances of conception.

Even with so many great options for practices that alleviate stress and tap into your mind+body potential, the fertility journey can feel draining and it’s not uncommon to hit a fertility self-care rut.

Down dog might not be doing it for you anymore, or maybe you can’t stop thinking about your grocery list during meditation.

Slumps happen, but here are 2 creative mind + body practices that can spice up your routine and increase your chances for success while TTC!

Qigong

Qigong (pronounced chee-KUNG) is “a form of exercise similar to tai chi, but with fewer movements” that helps channel positive energy through meditative movement.1

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Qigong boosts energy levels, helps improve sleep quality, and strengthens the mind + body connection through subtle, repetitive movements.

As with practices like acupuncture and reiki, the idea behind qigong is to clear out “blockages” – whether they be emotional, spiritual, physical, or mental.

By performing simple motions repeatedly for a period of time blockages are released and energy is allowed to flow freely throughout the body.

The open, positive, and calm feelings that follow qigong practice create an optimal mind + body state for women who are trying to conceive.

Art Therapy

“Art Therapy is a form of expressive therapy that uses creative expression and art materials to identify and explore emotions.”2

Art therapy has been used to treat people coping with loss and grief for a long time and a recent study conducted by reproductive specialist Dr. Ed Hughes highlighted the effectiveness of art therapy, specifically for women experiencing infertility.

After completing weekly art projects, participants reported significant reductions in feelings of depression and hopelessness, and an increased sense of overall well-being , stress reduction, and improved self esteem.

One of the best things about art therapy is that it’s accessible to everyone (even those of us who can’t draw a snowman ?).

It can really involve anything that allows you to explore what’s happening inside by physically creating something – from quilting, to scrapbooking, to adult coloring books (here’s a great one) – it’s all about channeling your energy into something that you enjoy and do with your hands.

1 http://www.chatelaine.com/health/four-alternative-fertility-treatments-to-help-you-conceive/
2 http://www.yinstill.com/blog/art-therapy-mental-health-fertility

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We’ve got an amazing gift for you.

But first….what’s better than the summer? Am I right?

I’m looking forward to some #majorrelaxing this weekend to celebrate the 4th of July, and I hope you can take some time and enjoy it with good friends and family. I will be hopefully on a boat the entire time in the middle of a beautiful lake surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Our gift to you this summer is to give you the one simple step of stress reduction and getting your feelings under control during #TTC. We get so busy trying to do EVERYTHING that it’s hard to slow down and truly unwind. And you know what makes that even harder? – the added stress and emotional toll of dealing with infertility struggles.

Our gift is this…

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We’re offering an amazing 25% OFF discount (enter code summersale25 at checkout) that I hope encourages you to make the decision to download our guided fertility meditations and get started on creating a fertility journey that you love.

Embrace the power of the mind + body connection, live each day fully and with gratitude, and take greater control over your fertility and your state of mind!

With love + gratitude ~
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5 Great Summer Reads

My favorite season has officially arrived and I’m ready to get my summer reading on! One of my favorite things to do in the summertime is to crack open a book in the sunshine (preferably with my toes in the sand).

There are so many wonderful reads out right now – so where to begin?! If you don’t have time to browse for articles on your iPad or peruse the shelves at the bookstore, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered!

Here are a few of my favorite picks for the summer, including some great oldie-but-goodie Circle + Bloom blog posts that I really love –

Summer Reads

10 Steps to Improving Myself By 1% Every Day
I had so much fun writing this blog post. The tips that I share for taking action and creating your best life have been so invaluable for me personally – give them a try and let us know what works for you!

The Whole Life Fertility Plan by Kyra Phillips
This book is so wonderfully informative for women during any phase of the fertility journey. From planning for a family down the road to knowing exactly what to expect during fertility treatments, Kyra’s book is one of the best new fertility resources out there.

Power in Practice: Our 6 Favorite Fertility-Friendly Yoga Poses
Yoga’s amazing effects are beneficial for everyone, but they are especially helpful for women who are trying to conceive. Roll out a mat and find your bliss with our favorite restorative poses.

True or False – Our Thoughts Impact Our Reproductive Health
Want to know exactly how the mind+body connection works? Check out this informative post that breaks down the science and shows how visualization has the power to change our bodies and our lives.

Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin
“Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life.” – but how do we change them?! In the latest release from the New York Times best-selling author of The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin shows us how to ditch habits that don’t work for us and to master routines that make us happier and healthier.

What else would you recommend for summer reading?

With love + gratitude
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Guest blog by Sarah Ross of Thumos Health Center.

If you are struggling with infertility, you are not alone. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) notes that 10.9% of women of reproductive age have trouble conceiving and carrying a baby to term. Modern medicine, most notably in vitro fertilization (IVF) can dramatically boost your chances for conception, but it is expensive and complicated, and not always a success. For those seeking a natural method to improve fertility, either alone or in tandem with IVF or other treatments, acupuncture is a scientifically proven choice.

An acupuncture session begins with a thorough evaluation of your current physical and emotional health. Your acupuncturist will then work with you to design a comprehensive 3 to 6 month plan that includes compassionate counseling, Chinese herbal remedies, and nutritional evaluation, as well as regular acupuncture sessions. If desired, he or she will also work with your medical doctor to develop a holistic treatment plan. Whether used alone or in combination with other treatments, here are 5 ways acupuncture can boost fertility.

5 Ways Acupuncture Can Boost Fertility

1.Improves the flow of Qi
According to traditional Eastern thought, Qi is the life force or vitality that forms the essence of all living things. It normally flows freely throughout the body, stimulating its natural healing processes and creating optimum wellness. However, the stressors of modern life can cause Qi to become blocked, preventing it from serving this important function. By inserting thin needles at specific points on the body, an acupuncturist can unblock the Qi and encourage it to flow in a direction that supports the reproductive system and encourages the creation of life.

2. Reduces stress
Whether or not you believe in Qi, science has shown that acupuncture has a powerful effect on the brain’s chemicals. It encourages the release of powerful feel-good hormones known as endorphins, which can help with relaxation and an overall feeling of well being. The female reproductive hormones are extremely sensitive to stress, and bringing the brain to a more relaxed state can help balance the complicated mix of hormones that conception requires.

3. Boosts male fertility
Acupuncture is not just for female fertility. Especially when used as part of a holistic treatment plan that also includes Chinese herbs and supplements, acupuncture can assist men with a wide range of fertility issues. Whether you struggle with sperm motility or sperm count, difficulties with libido, or any other fertility-related concerns, a licensed acupuncturist can develop a comprehensive treatment plan designed to help you father children. When trying to conceive, it is important for both partners to be in the best possible physical and emotional health, so assessment is recommended even if no specific issues have been diagnosed.

4. Supports IVF
If you choose in vitro fertilization, acupuncture can play an important supportive role. Acupuncture treatments prepare the body for pregnancy, reduce contractions in the uterus, and help to create the relaxed environment necessary for successful implantation. Many top IVF specialists actively suggest that their patients seek fertility acupuncture as part of an integrative approach, and fertility acupuncturists are happy to work with medical doctors to develop a comprehensive approach to fertility treatment.

5. Lowers the risks of miscarriage
After you conceive, acupuncture can help to support both you and your developing baby. Most miscarriages occur during the critical first 12 weeks of pregnancy, making it important to continue acupuncture during this time. Acupuncture helps your body adapt to its newly pregnant state, regulates vital functions such as ovarian and thyroid health, and ensures an optimum environment for your growing fetus.
Many women continue acupuncture throughout their pregnancies, as it has been shown to be safe and effective in coping with the unpleasant side effects such as morning sickness and back pain. It can even assist with labor difficulties such as delayed onset and even breech babies.

Located in Pacific Palisades, with satellite clinics in Santa Monica and West Hollywood, Thumos Health Center offers patients exceptional personalized care. If you are ready to take the first steps toward a more integrative approach to your health care, we invite you to phone 310-428-1215 to schedule an appointment at any of our Los Angeles locations. Our highly knowledgeable and friendly staff will be happy to answer any questions or concerns you might have.

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If you or a loved one is struggling with infertility, you understand the frustration, fear, and devastation associated with failing to conceive.

Month after month you fall deeper into despair with the realization that, yet again, you were unable to make a baby. “After all,” you think, “we were designed for this. Women have been doing this for thousands of years- so why can’t I?”

I am here to tell you that you can. And I have the opportunity to share some amazing resources with you so that you can fulfill your true fertility potential.

There’s enormous power in the mind + body connection and tapping into that innate power enables us to change our health and well-being.

Free Conscious Conception Telesummit

One of my colleagues, Elisabeth Manning, Founder of Fertile Living and author of Secret Life of Fertility, has gathered the premier experts in the fertility community to share the secrets for unlocking our body’s power and taking fertility to a whole new level.

Last week, I spoke at the Conscious Conception Telesummit: Bridging the Science, Spirit and Art of a Fertile Life to Awaken Your Divine Human Potential. There are still 5 more wonderful days to listen in and learn from amazing speakers such as Bruce Lipton, Bernie Siegel, Lissa Rankin, Heidi Brockmyre and many more.

I’m inviting you to join in the Conscious Conception Telesummit for free!

During this unique experience you’ll discover:

  • Not just the scientific, but the debilitating emotional issues that can block our creative potential as well
  • How to begin seeing the magic inside your journey as more than baby making, but also as a spiritual path
  • How and why conscious conception makes us better parents
  • Why we must reach beyond the quality of our eggs and into the quality of our life
  • That conception should be (and can be) aligned and effortless, not from force or struggle
  • and so much more…

You deserve a solution that can make fertility a beautiful and sacred journey, so please join us and create the life that you’ve always wanted.

With love + gratitude ~
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Ladies!

We are over the moon with this pregnant with PCOS success story and as always, a testament to the extreme power of our mind-body connection.

She focused on the particular special sessions of our PCOS program that focus on regulating insulin and androgen programs in particular.

I just love these stories that not only prove our innate capability of healing, but such a strong example of the power of the human spirit.

Hi Joanne,

I have been in touch before when I purchased your IUI meditations. Last year we tried 3 IUI treatments, none of which were successful. We were told IVF was our next step. I felt the hormones had messed me up a bit, and was not keen to go the IVF route at that point – from both a physical and emotional perspective. To support my body naturally, I had to do all I could to reduce my insulin (and some of the excess androgens).

I found your PCOS meditations online and downloaded them – even though I don’t actually have PCOS, I thought the insulin and androgen sessions would be good for me. Turns out they were! 

Yesterday, I got two lines on my pregnancy test and a positive blood test result! I cannot believe after 3 years of trying and endless disappointment and heartache, that I am finally able to do my own two-line tango!

I know you help countless women through what is really the worst time of their lives sometimes, and I wanted to thank you for the help and comfort you and your program have given me on my road to becoming pregnant.

Thank you, your guidance and support really got me through!

- Michelle

Having PCOS and getting pregnant is possible ladies!!

Click here to learn more about our PCOS for Fertility programs.

With love and gratitude,
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In the latest installment of our special blog series, The Fertility Circle, we asked fertility expert Mindy Berkson of Lotus Blossom Consulting to share her insights into the most important strategies for women on their fertility journey.

Mindy works with men and women around the country, taking into consideration clients’ emotional, physical and financial infertility issues and orchestrating nationwide teams of multidisciplinary unbiased professionals to accomplish a treatment cycle. Most importantly, as a result of her own fertility struggles, Mindy provides an insider’s approach to the often-challenging roadblocks present in conquering infertility.

Mindy Berkson: Three Expert Tips for A Successful Fertility Journey

CB_mindyberksonTip #1

Know When It’s Time to Seek Out a Reproductive Endocrinologist
Conception is not always immediate especially for women who consciously choose to delay childbearing. Delayed childbearing seems to be the largest culprit of infertility. In fact, by the time a woman reaches 30 years of age, over 90 percent of her eggs have been depleted. If you are older than 33, and have been trying to conceive for longer than six months, it is a good idea to seek an opinion and a diagnostic workup from a Reproductive Endocrinologist.

Tip #2

Set Parameters and Have a Back-Up Plan
Having trouble getting pregnant can be mentally exhausting, and undergoing infertility treatment is stressful and demanding both physically and financially. In my experience, it is essential to set parameters for treatment options, have realistic expectations of a given treatment, and most importantly, have a back-up plan in place in the event that there is a failed cycle. Knowing what your financial reserve will allow can help you set the course of treatment. Speaking with your partner, sharing common goals for the course of treatment, and listening and being sensitive to each other’s thoughts and feelings is also very important and helps to relieve some stress during the process.

Tip #3

Become Your Own Best Advocate
The most important piece of advice from both a personal and a professional standpoint is to become your own best advocate. It is often difficult to know what questions to ask and it can be overwhelming to seek the best resources for an infertility cycle. This often requires an insider’s approach to the industry. Engaging an Infertility Consultant is an important first step to becoming your own best advocate and savvy consumer, especially when treatment involves egg donation and surrogacy. A qualified Infertility Consultant should provide clients with targeted questions specific to their diagnosis, identify resources to suit individual criteria, and secure a team of unbiased multi-disciplinary professionals to increase the chances of successfully accomplishing the client’s family building goals. Ultimately, being your own best advocate will help maximize chances of success and minimize financial expenditure.

Mindy Berkson is an infertility consultant with more than ten years of helping intended parents. She founded her consultancy, Lotus Blossom Consulting, after she had her own experience with infertility and felt a total absence of resources to help her navigate the complicated process or even just help her know the right questions to ask. Now considered an expert in the industry, Mindy has been that resource for thousands of intended parents; gay men, lesbian couples, heterosexual couples and both single men and women. More than 700 babies have been born as a result of Mindy’s resources, knowledge and experience. For more information about Mindy and her work, visit www.LotusBlossomConsulting.com.

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Trying to conceive can be such a special time in your life. But, when it isn’t happening as quickly, or as easily as you had hoped, the stress and fear can understandably become overwhelming. With each passing month, the anxiety can start consuming your thoughts, leaving you frustrated and hopeless.

This is a painful, often misunderstood aspect of trying to conceive. Only those that have struggled through it really understand what it is like, and it is a truth that very few speak openly about.

So what can you do to deal with this unique stress and fear?

We are very excited to offer you a wonderful opportunity to explore this important question with someone that is an active part of the Circle + Bloom community, and uniquely suited to help you find the answers that can change the course of your journey, Rosanne Austin.

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Rosanne is a coach that helps women who are living with fertility issues find clarity, confidence, and fulfillment, so they can love their lives, no matter what. A former trial attorney, Rosanne had a long, personal struggle with fertility. She helps women move beyond their fear and frustration, clearing a path to a hopeful, joyous, and complete life, now. Rosanne’s work has touched the lives of women all over the world. She is the creator of www.frommaybetobaby.com and is passionate about motivating and inspiring women on the journey to building the family of their dreams.

We simply love Rosanne’s work and are pleased to invite you to the complimentary teleclass she is doing for Circle + Bloom community members:

The 5 Secrets To Beating Stress & Fear When Trying To Conceive

During this insightful and informative class, she will be sharing:

  • The single most important step you can take to stop allowing fertility issues to create chaos in your life.
  • A simple truth (which few talk about) regarding this journey that absolutely sets us up for feeling like a failure (no matter what we do.)
  • The one thing you can do TODAY to start freeing yourself from the grip of fear and frustration.
  • The big mistake you might be making on a daily basis that will keep you feeling hopeless, AND
  • The missing piece of the puzzle that can change the way you approach your journey, and ultimately your life, forever.

Once you learn “the secrets,” you will be able to take immediate action in your life to create your own path to freedom from a life bound by stress and fear.

Rosanne will also share a very exciting collaboration with Circle + Bloom that we know you are going to love!

To sign up for the complimentary class, Click Here.

With love and gratitude,
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My husband and I created our daughter Sammy the good old-fashioned way. A year later, while all my girlfriends were getting pregnant with their second and third children, I was undergoing an infertility incursion, an incursion that took me into the depths of despair. At that time, I was grasping for a miracle. But here’s the thing about grasping: it comes from a place of desperation, anxiety and fear.  And here’s the thing about miracles: when we are grasping, we often do not have the wisdom to perceive miracles even when they are unfolding right in front of our eyes.

This is a story about a miracle named Sammy, and the greatest lesson secondary infertility taught me. It taught me that not everything in life unfolds as we expect or desire, and that each any every experience can teach us a lot and carry great meaning. Don’t get me wrong; while I was going through the experience, I didn’t see the value of a lesson. It is only now, with the pain behind me, that I can articulate this feeling.

Our daughter Sammy came into this world with great ease. When she was born it felt like we experienced a miracle, and now she has grown into an amazing little girl.

CB_amiraI am so grateful for Sammy, but I wanted her to have a sibling. I always wanted a big family. I had come from one. It was so easy to conceive her but when we started trying for our second child, things were far from easy. What had changed with our fertility?

When Sammy was just over one, we were told that my husband has a vericocele (a big bulging vein in his scrotum) that would likely affect his sperm quality. With a DNA fragmentation of higher than 20%, we were told IVF with ICSI was our best option. My husband was going to have surgery to remove the vericocele and I knew that the process would require healing time. Who wanted to wait? Certainly not me; I wanted it now. After four unsuccessful in-utero inseminations, we proceeded to our first IVF cycle. We put back two embryos.

The two week wait was difficult. I was on edge to put it mildly. The first few days I tried to take it real easy. In the second week, I put my hands up in the air and surrendered. I had done all I could and now all that was left to do was hope and pray.

Just when I was certain our IVF cycle failed, we found out that it worked, and it worked very well. On March 13, 2010, I gave birth to a set of boy/girl twins.

My story is one of hope with a happy ending. I have used my story to inspire others who may be struggling on their own fertility journey. My experience has shaped my life as a mother and as a professional. I knew when I was going through my fertility struggle, that one day I wanted to help others along their fertility journey. When the twins were only six months, I started a mind body fertility support group to help connect women coping with infertility.

Today, I run the Mind Body Fertility Group at Mt. Sinai Fertility Hospital in Toronto. I have a private practice geared specifically toward women and couples who are trying to conceive. In hindsight, secondary infertility was a tremendous gift to me in so many ways so that despite my anxieties and concerns back when I was trying to conceive, I wouldn’t change my experience for anything.

Amira Posner is Healing Infertility’s lead clinician. She is a professional therapist with both a Bachelor and Masters Degrees in Social Work from the University of Manitoba.  Amira has unique mind body training – she is a certified hypnotherapist and is a Fertile Body Method Practitioner. She runs Mind Body Fertility Groups at Mt. Sinai Hospital.

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Give me a bookshelf full of self-improvement or self-help books and I can spend hours if not days sitting in one place, devouring the tips and tricks to living the most successful life possible.

What’s the latest ten tips to being happy? What’s the life hack that will make all my problems go away?

Which is all nice and dandy, and without this discovery process, you won’t get very far.

But, I believe there comes a time when you need to stop doing all this reading, analyzing and listening to others. You need to stop learning and start doing?—?or at least have the scales tip towards the latter. Because what happens is that the reading and learning becomes a crutch. The crutch is the Steven Pressfield’s “Resistance” defined. We want to look at the shiny new book / idea / life lesson, versus looking inward and making tough decisions and taking action.

CB_steps_improve_myselfOverall objective: 1% per day. If you grow by 1% per day, the math works out to be that you are completely transformed in something like 3 months. It’s the power of exponents.

This is where I am now in my life. It’s time to start taking massive action and improving myself 1% per day. Here’s how:

Define your schedule.
Have a strict routine that you follow for maximum productivity. It’s okay to break it every now and then, but there is freedom in not having to make decisions. Productivity follows as a result. Schedule creative time in the morning. Do the heavy lifting before noon.

Realize the fear.
Fear is the absolute killer of creativity, productivity and it’s downright exhausting. Being mindful of that resistance you feel when doing something difficult is the first step to labeling the fear.

What to do when feeling overwhelmed.
If fear is the wicked witch of the east, then feeling overwhelmed is the wicked witch of the west. Let’s douse her with water and get control again. Break things down in micro-components and celebrate the wins.

Say no to the crappy people.
Acknowledge the crappy people in your life. They have a surprising ability to suck the air of you. Stand your ground. Say no to that terrible feeling of being judged. Breathe and let it go. Feel sorry for them. Pretend they will die soon and feel sorry for them (spoiler alert…we are all going to die soon).

Say yes to joy.
This is a huge area for improvement! Eureka. Every single day, see the beauty in life. See the moments that make up this wonderful thing we call the universe. Know that miracles exist and expect them. When you expect them, they come by the dozens.

Surround yourself with only things that bring you joy.
Read the book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” again. Discard. Edit your life by ridding yourself of clutter. Say thank you to the beautiful things that surround you as a result. There is energy in everything.

Seek ways to help others.
Every single day, try to find someone you can help. Not in a condescending way, but in a genuine outreach, want to help, kind of a way. Even if it’s just a simple smile.

Exercise the idea muscle.
If James Altucher has said it once, he’s said it a thousand times. He truly believes this is one of the keys to success. And I’m starting to agree with him. In “Choose Yourself” he talks about coming up with ideas…10 per day…on any subject or question so that your brain will start to sweat after idea 6 or 7. My last 10 ideas list was for a friend’s business. I’m certain that most of them are bad ideas, but the point is not to have all of them good ideas, the point is to exercise the muscle. After six months, I will graduate to an “idea machine.” Stay tuned!

Align with your values play-list.

I was recently asked what my top five values are. An important self-reflection that I recommend for anyone. I ask myself now, however, is whether or not I actually live up to those values every day. I will challenge myself accordingly.

Rinse and repeat.
This list may or may not get me to my goal of becoming a better person in three months. And, I know for a fact that even six months ago, this list would have been different. The idea is to take stock of your progress, reorient and charge on.

UPDATE: THE 11TH AND PROBABLY MOST IMPORTANT STEP OF ALL

Authenticity.
“I’m not for everyone. And neither are you.”?—?David Leddick

With love and gratitude,

signatureweb

 

 

 

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This month, opt to change one product with fewer chemicals.

The last thing I want to do is change my skin products or skin routine.

First of all, I have all that I need at this point. I can’t imagine how it would be to completely change it, try new products and see what I like.

Besides, I have the same basic routine each and every day (with the goal of getting out of the door as quickly as possible).

I use a very simple facial cleanser on my skin in the morning and I wear a light moisturizer. I apply a little bit of makeup (and always lipstick because it makes me feel refreshed) and I’m ready to start my day!

I don’t spend a lot of money on expensive treatments or “miraculous” night products. A splash of water at the end of the day is about the extent of my nighttime beauty regimen.

Although it’s simple, I like my beauty routine and I probably would have stuck with it forever – I’m set in my ways ?

But then I discovered Beautycounter. They are making a bold move and really highlighting the fact that many mass-produced skincare products are full of toxic chemicals.

I started to learn more and more about how potentially harmful all of the products I have been using since I was a teenager could be to my body. But replacing all of them felt SO daunting and it would be expensive, for sure.

BUT….
And this is a HUGE BUT (and yes, my butt is also huge).

What if my skin care routine is making me sick? Like, really really sick? Like opening me up to the possibilities for cancer or other endocrine issues (I’ve already dealt with infertility…). Here I am eating a plant-based diet and exercising like a fiend to stay healthy and live a long happy life, and what if this is more harmful than anything else?

What Beautycounter offers in my humble opinion of this fast-growing company, are not just excellent products, but also awareness and therefore empowerment to make better decisions.

I think of my growing teenager and tween daughters – these are the kinds of make up and skin care products that I would like them to use, and I know I need to set a good example!

So, I made a pact with myself.

Every month, I will replace one of my products with a Beautycounter product. This month, I will be replacing my concealer, with this one. Next month I will replace my eyeliner, and the month after that, I will be replacing my foundation. It will be simple, and painless.

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And if I don’t like it? Their return policy is awesome. 60 days.

This way, I don’t break the bank, but I make steps towards completely changing over to a safer, cleaner skin care routine. And within about one year, I will have a cabinet full of products that I can feel good about using.

Join me?

We’d love to hear the great ways that you’re working to keep chemicals out of your skin care routine! What products will you replace this month?

With love and gratitude,

signatureweb

 

 

 

P.s. Circle + Bloom partnered with Beautycounter. You can too. Learn more here.

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Sometimes the best way to take the stress out of the fertility journey is to connect with others, and one great way to do that is to share a good laugh! We’re building on our special Fertility Circle Series and talking with some of the leading personalities in the fertility field to gather tips, support, and insights on how to stay calm, feel empowered, and maintain positivity during all aspects of the journey.

For the third installment of this special series, we sat down with funny lady Stephanie Jackson – writer, star, and producer of “Does This Baby Make Me Look Fat?” a comedic scripted series chronicling the “magical” path to motherhood.

Stephanie and her husband are currently trying to get pregnant. She is a huge Circle + Bloom fan and a member of our TTC community.

CB_stephaniejacksonWe asked her: If you could only give three tips or strategies for women on the fertility journey, what would they be?

Stephanie Jackson: 3 Tips for Staying Sane, Happy, and Humourous While Trying to Conceive

1. Try Every Fertility Aid You Want

Once you finally decide, “It’s officially time to start trying,” an extensive fertility world is revealed that you were probably not aware of before. Ovulation tests, fertility diets, basal thermometers, soft-cups (don’t get me started…) An overwhelming number of options are at your disposal that promise to help you get your baby – ASAP!

I say try them all. Seriously. Get it out of your system. If you are anything like me, you don’t want people to accuse you of not giving it your best shot. And getting pregnant requires serious strategy if you are at it long enough. So don’t feel badly that you spent $50 of ovulation tests “just to be extra sure” or that you’d rather give a fertility diet a try before heading to the doctor for a Clomid prescription.

The fertility journey can be such an overwhelming process because so much of what you are doing is listening to other’s advice (friends, doctors, psychics) and at the same time trying to listen to your own body and make sense of what feels right to you.

So if you want to skip right to IVF after 3 months of trying – DO IT! Or if you want to not drink alcohol for 4 months straight and then one night crack open a beer without having to explain yourself to your confused husband – GO FOR IT! At the end of the day you are the only one who knows what’s right for you and how you will feel when you get a positive or negative pregnancy test.

Try what you want to try and trust yourself. You’ll know if and when it’s time to change course. And the best part of trying a variety of fertility aids is you can shut anyone up with a “YES!” as soon as they ask, “Have you by any chance tried…?”

2. This Isn’t A Baby Race

For some reason we have this weird ability to turn everything into a competition in “The Race of Life”, often with people we love the most. Promotions, getting married, buying a house, etc. For reasons unknown we have this intense urge not to “fall behind.”

This is especially true when it comes to having kids. Suddenly the friends who were married after you are having their second baby, and you are of course happy for them, but I mean, come on, where’s the fire and oh by the way what pre-natals are you taking?!?

Don’t let the timing of your future baby’s arrival steal your sanity. This is not a race. Nobody wants to hear “it will happen when it’s supposed to happen,” but has that ever really been bad advice?

There are so many times in my life I’ve wanted something to happen so badly I could scream (i.e. why did I never find Mr. Right when I was living in NYC?) But looking back I’m thrilled it unfolded in a completely unexpected way (i.e. because Mr. Right was living in Los Angeles!)

You have to live the life that is happening right now – baby or no baby. You’ll never get this time back and it’s better to enjoy it instead of wishing for it to be different. And life is not the race that we build it up to be.

We all move at different paces and in the big scheme of things it doesn’t matter if your child and your best friend’s child don’t happen to be the same age. Maybe her baby will be old enough to babysit yours when the time comes. Score!

3. Keep Your Sense of Humor

Oof. More clichéd advice I know. However it’s soooooo important!

Much like not getting caught up in the “Baby Race” finding the humor in your fertility journey is going to help you preserve your sanity. Seriously.

Before I started trying to get pregnant I always sensed that the topic of fertility was very secretive and serious (and to be completely honest, probably a little sad.) Imagine my surprise when I found out that it was also a comedy gold mine (which quickly lead me to creating my show “Does This Baby Make Me Look Fat?”).

Sure, there have been frustrating moments. But my husband and I have also laughed A LOT in the past year and a half. And if it takes you awhile to conceive, I guarantee you will find a friend (probably a new one) who would love nothing more than to split a bottle of wine and talk about cervical mucus or what “Sex Week” looks like in her household.

Fertility doesn’t have to be a solemn subject. It’s just a part of life and there’s only so much you can control. But what is in your control is approaching the matter with a sense of humor and lightness.

There will be challenging moments for sure, but it’s better if those are the exception and not the rule. Besides, it’s probably best to hone your sense of humor now. Because after hearing the horror stories of motherhood – we’re all gonna need it!

Stephanie Jackson is a writer, actor and producer living in Los Angeles.  She is the creator and star of the digital show, “Does This Baby Make Me Look Fat?”, a comedic scripted series chronicling the “magical” path to motherhood.  Stephanie also guest blogs and her humor pieces have been featured on Mommyish, The New Hollywood and Ms. In The Biz.  Stephanie has acted on a number of television shows as well, including Up All Night, Chuck and Incredible Crew.  To see her work, you can subscribe to Stephanie’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/msstephjacksontv.

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Hi! My name is Ally and I’m the social media gal here at Circle + Bloom. Some of you may know me through Circle + Bloom’s secret Facebook group, or through our customer service department.

I wanted to write this blog post after I made some healthy changes to my diet and realized how applicable some of the new habits and lessons I learned would be to members of our Circle + Bloom community.

I tried out a program called the Whole30 and it truly changed my life. Here are just a few of the FANTASTIC side effects that I experienced:

  • Through the roof energy levels that gave me the giddy-up I needed to start a new strength training routine
  • Sleeping like a baby and not needing 4 cups of coffee to “wake up” in the morning
  • Reduced inflammation (less aches and pains!)
  • Gaining back long-lost self confidence as I PROVED TO MYSELF that I could break my unhealthy habits and develop lasting, healthy ones

Dallas and Melissa Hartwig created the program and it focuses on eating only REAL, WHOLESOME FOODS for 30 days.

CB_whole30

You can learn all about the ins and outs of the Whole30 here, but I’ve boiled it down to 3 important takeaways that would benefit ANYONE looking to make some healthy changes to their diet, especially women who are trying to conceive –

  1. Eat whole, unprocessed foods.
    In past blog posts, we’ve stressed the importance of quality protein, like meat, seafood, poultry, and eggs; nutrition-packed vegetables and fruits, like leafy greens, pumpkin, beets, and berries; and healthy fats, like olive oil as part of a balanced diet for women who are trying to conceive.

    These types of foods contain vital nutrients like iron and zinc – along with other goodies like calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 – which help maintain healthy hormone levels in the body, strengthen your immune system, and can even improve ovulatory function.

    When you build your plate around nutritious foods like quality protein and fiber-rich veggies, there’s less room for the bad stuff. You feel more satiated by eating these wholesome foods, as opposed to filling up on processed carbohydrates that don’t provide lasting fuel for your body (and can make your hormone and energy levels yo-yo all over the place).

  2. As Melissa and Dallas say, “Slay your sugar dragon!”
    One of the Whole30 rules that makes many folks want to run for the hills is “Do not consume added sugar of any kind, real or artificial.” I know that it seems drastic, but I can honestly say that cutting sugar out, 100% and cold turkey, was easier than any attempts at sugar “moderation” I’ve ever made.

    Sugars contain no real nutritional value and cutting them out has an automatic bonus – you won’t consume the additional calories that many sugary foods contain. This can be hugely helpful for maintaining a healthy body weight – which has been proven to promote fertility.

  3. You are capable of anything for 30 days!
    I think that part of the reason that many of us don’t make big changes is that we are afraid to fail. That’s certainly how I felt when I faced my diet overhaul, and it wasn’t until I completed this program – 30 days and no cheating! – that I realized, the key is BELIEVING THAT YOU CAN SUCCEED!

    Simply make the decision that you are going to improve your habits and then DO IT! You can do anything for 30 days! I know it seems daunting, and I will admit it’s not always easy, but the juice is totally worth the squeeze.

    Be kind to yourself and commit to taking charge of your health. It may inspire you to tackle other wellness goals and will give you a greater sense of control over your health and fertility.

Do I have your attention? Want to learn more about the Whole30? Melissa and Dallas’s book It Starts With Food is the best place to start! They are also releasing a new book later this month, so stay tuned!

Try it out and let us know how you do!

Happy eating –
Ally

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Sometimes I receive an email from y’all that hits me deep to the core.

This one comes from Renae. And no, she did not have the greatest of news. Her last and final IVF failed, and they have decided to end their journey. She shared with me extreme sorrow and pain with this decision.

There are no words, really – except to express the courage to confront and work through one of life’s most challenging moments.

CB_powerconnection

She talked about how our programs were recommended to her husband, and written on a crumbled piece of paper were the words “circleandbloom.” He said to her, this will help us connect with each other.

They would then lay in bed together before going to sleep and listen to each day’s sessions. Together.

I think life’s blessing is learning and sharing with one another. The ability to connect through our stories… I would LOVE to hear your stories… so after reading this one, will you share yours? Simply comment below and let the words flow. I promise it will be cathartic process for you – and if you don’t want us to share it – no problem. I’m thinking a book – like a Chicken Soup for the Soul type book would be a terrific on for the IF community.

Thank you Renae, your courage to share, your courage to be vulnerable, your courage to learn and lean with others is such a wonderful example. Here is her email, slightly edited by us just for clarity:

Dear Joanne,

I hope you are having a wonderful day! It has taken me some time to heal but I have been wanting to write you for a while now.

My IVF failed again. The reason for writing to you is I want to let you know, again, how much you have helped me. A little background if I may….. My only biological child, Shawn 7, is a child from a broken and abusive marriage. I am so proud of the fact that I had the strength to leave because I hear so many do not!

My son was only 1 years old when I became a single mom. I NEVER thought I would re marry. I did a year later to a wonderful, smart, caring and kind man. No questions asked, he has played the roll of Shawn’s dad.

About a year into the marriage, 5 years now, we decided to have our own family. Shawn was so easy to conceive, I was 32 years old at the time. One year went by…nothing. We tried Chlomid, got pregnant but it was a tubal pregnancy and I lost my first tube. After that, we tried IVF.

It was insane and I could not believe that we could not get pregnant, it failed. Then I got pregnant on my own, it failed. Second round of IVF…failed. At that point, 1 year ago, we lost all hope, I got pregnant the very next month but to once again learn it is in my tube and I lost that one as well.

Four years, a ton of blood, sweat and tears and I am now a 40 year old woman with no tubes. I looked at my husband and I said one more time. This was last November.

I did ask him to please get us some help. He went to a wonderful therapist and came back with excitement and hope. But…this is where you come into play. He had written down on a crumbled piece of paper, like a man…ha, circleandbloom.

He said this will connect us…this will help me understand and help you get through this journey. I have to say….your recordings exceeded ALL of my expectations.

Every night before bed we would lay and listen to the recording. It connected us, it saved me from loosing my mind. I thought for sure this was it, I will be pregnant. Well, sadly, very sadly, it did not work. I found out Christmas day and cried for a month straight. So I got rid of the sonogram I had kept by my bedside, said a prayer and listened to your recording. I don’t know which one I hit but it discussed how much of a selfless act I was performing. Hearing that reminded me there are others in the world that struggle and I have done something amazing. I then cried a bit more and erased your program. I miss it, I got used to it!

I want to tell you what you do is simply amazing! I am sure the stories and hard work is difficult at times but like circleandbloom tells us that we are performing a selfless task…so are you!

I thank you in advance for reading my e-mail. It is helping me with closure. Although I would try again, we have exceeded our limit on what we will spend. I have difficult nights and cringe whenever I see a new baby or a pregnant mom. I feel everyone around me gets to be pregnant but me. Currently my best friend and sister in law is pregnant.

You don’t know me but you helped me strive, fail and heal. I hope it is rewarding! I will never be the same not being able to give my husband his own child, but for the rest of my life I will think of a difficult journey and a tragedy that you helped me overcome! I wish you all the best!

All my gratitude,

Renae

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Maybe you are like me and you are taking a greater interest in learning about the various chemicals in our everyday products. What exactly is in my facial moisturizer? What are parabens and do I need to worry?

For sure, it’s all very very confusing, and I think the various manufacturers want us to be confused.

CB_beauty

But, when I read the following facts, I sat up and took notice and began to think differently about what I put on my body (our largest organ!):

  • The United States has not passed a federal law to regulate the ingredients used in personal care products since 1938.
  • The European Union has spent the past two decades banning or restricting more than 1,300 ingredients, the US has only banned 11 to date.

Wait, what?

And then we found out about Beautycounter.

By the way, we are definitely not into touting other companies, but I really felt compelled, especially when there is mounting evidence of skincare chemicals interfering with our fertility and the delicate balancing of our hormones.

Beautycounter has taken it upon themselves to ban over 1400 chemicals from ever entering their formulas. Without sacrificing quality and effectiveness, they have developed an entire product line of personal care products that are beautiful, high-quality and enjoyable to use.

Check out this video to learn more:

And here is a link to their bestsellers. I am starting to use their lipsticks, and I can tell you how velvety they are, do not smell funny and stay put for a long time!

We would love to hear your thoughts on Beautycounter and any other ways that you’re working towards using products that are safer for your body.

With love + gratitude,
signatureweb



*POST UPDATE*
In our desire to be as transparent as possible (and quite frankly we should have addressed this from the get-go) is that yes, given our newfound love for not only WHAT this company represents but the products they have poured their heart and soul into, we decided to become an affiliate for them! We are so proud of this new relationship and it’s something that anyone can do! Let us know if you have any questions as we can help steer you in the right direction on becoming a consultant. Thanks for your understanding as we should have said this upfront!

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Sometimes the best way to take the stress out of the fertility journey is to connect with others. We’re building on our special Fertility Circle Series and talking with some of the leading personalities in the fertility field to gather tips, support, and insights on how to stay calm and feel empowered during all aspects of the journey.

For this part of our series, we sat down with Elizabeth Higgins Clark to discuss how women who want families, but are not yet ready to TTC, can plan for and take charge of their fertility future.

Elizabeth Higgins Clark has positioned herself as a passionate and informed voice in favor of women freezing their eggs at a young age. Having just been featured on CBS Evening News and on Buzzfeed’s 12 Reasons I Froze My Eggs Before My 30th Birthday, Elizabeth has shared her story and spoken out about her decision to freeze her eggs at age 29 in order to take control of her biological clock while pursuing her booming acting career.

Interview with Elizabeth Higgins Clark

Planning for Baby: The Single Most Important Strategy for My Fertility Journey and How I’m Helping Other Women Take Charge of Their Reproductive Future

CB_elizabethclarkIf you could only give three tips or strategies for women embarking on their fertility journey, what would they be?

“I don’t really have three top tips – I just have one. I think the biggest thing you can do is to educate yourself, and for older women to be educating their daughters, and doctors (gynecologists) to be educating young women.

I think that many women would make different choices if they had all of the proper information and I don’t think young women are getting it in any formal setting. From the beginning, if you’re well educated on the subject of fertility, you’re going to make informed choices that reflect that education.”

What do you hope to achieve by sharing your own experience with young women?

“Part of why I’m talking about all of this in such a public way is that I couldn’t find myself in any of the examples out there. I couldn’t find anyone under 30 who was talking about having frozen their eggs.

I have been speaking a lot about this in the past few months and that’s what I’d really like to do a lot more of – go to college campuses and grad schools and talk to women who are at the age when they should be learning about their fertility. I’d really like to raise more awareness that way.”

How has your decision to freeze your eggs changed your outlook and emotions towards your own fertility journey?

“When I froze my eggs I spent so much of 29 thinking about this decision, that when it was over and my eggs were frozen, I told myself I was going to give myself a full year of not thinking about it – no worrying and no trying to predict the future. I still have two more months before that year is up. So I’m going to make good on that promise to myself.

I’m not a success story yet, because I don’t have a baby from my frozen eggs. I don’t want a baby right now. But I do feel a real sense of calm and ease and an ability to not be so worried about the future. I’m really calm about it.”

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We have some exciting news at Circle+Bloom! The Circle + Bloom blog is now featured on Alltop – a search engine and customizable news source where you can find out the latest happenings in a certain area of interest or create your very own “online magazine rack.”

Alltop collects headlines from the latest and greatest sites and blogs on the web that cover a specific topic. Then they group these collections into individual web pages.

For example, when you search the term “infertility” on Alltop’s homepage, the system pulls together a slew of breaking news and information – including blog posts from sites you can trust and Circle+Bloom!

CB_Alltop

You can also set up a personalized Alltop account. There’s a super helpful tutorial on their website to walk you through it:
http://alltop.com/myalltop-tutorial/

Whether you are on your fertility journey, looking for PCOS support, or interested in general women’s health, we hope that this new feature makes it easier for you to gather information you can trust.

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Guest Blog by Elizabeth Leaphart.

Looking for the answers outside us is a hard habit to kick, and even now I find I need reminding from time to time. Years ago I was in the middle of a complete life renovation; I left an unhealthy marriage and started over completely. I left no stone unturned looking for how to navigate the storm, only to find in books I read, websites I scoured, and with gifted practitioners I worked with that the answers were already inside me. And they were right. The process would have been one hundred times easier (and less expensive!) if I had looked within first instead of waiting for the answer to arrive in another package on my doorstep.

What is Hypnosis?

I am thrilled to see hypnotherapy becoming more and more mainstream. From fiction to stage hypnosis, the impression is individuals don’t remember, can’t move, and do and say anything while in hypnosis. As a society we often see it as magical and maybe even a little scary. Except for the magic of how wonderful it feels, these beliefs are thankfully not true.

Our brain is organized in different ‘departments’. Our conscious mind houses our short-term memory, reasoning, will power, judgment, self-discipline, and analysis. Our subconscious mind stores our long-term memory, emotions, imagination, and creativity and is the majority of our functioning. These departments work together to take care of our health and wellbeing.

So what happens when we want to make changes in our lives? When we turn to our analytical mind to manifest goals for our body and life, we are met repeatedly with frustration because it is our subconscious mind that speaks the language of our body. Our body rapidly responds to feelings and imagery. This is why our mouth waters when we picture our favorite food, why we cringe when we imagine a bug crawling on our arm, and why our stomach flutters when we see the person we love.

Hypnosis is a peaceful, creative, and productive state of inner absorption. It is a natural human ability, and a powerful tool for change (Gilligan, 1997). In fact, you are already an expert! We are in and out of this state as much as fifty times an hour. Hypnosis is complete focus in our subconscious mind: our feelings, imagination, and memories. You’ll often find yourself in this state when driving, exercising, praying, watching TV or a movie, listening to music and guided imagery, meditating, having a conversation with a friend, and too many more to count. A hallmark of the hypnotic state is time distortion. When driving and imagining how our day will unfold, we often arrive at our destination without remembering how we got there. Hypnosis is this state of being, and hypnotherapy is utilizing this state for positive change and therapeutic healing.

How Hypnotherapy Supports Fertility

With our busy schedules today, we often give away all we have to family, work, and community. Our only time to replenish becomes collapsing in bed after a long day. This lifestyle causes our bodies to be in “fight or flight” mode, when our sympathetic nervous system is dominant to give us stamina in stressful situations. Our body gives our heart and muscles the majority of our energy. While this serves an important purpose, what happens when we experience it for prolonged periods of time? Our body becomes out of balance, and the parts of us not critical for survival, such the reproductive system, receive less energy. Reproduction is placed on the back burner until our senses indicate our environment is ‘safe’ again pregnancy. You can imagine how this works against us!

As soon as we are in this state, we engage our parasympathetic nervous system, stopping the ‘fight or flight’ mode and bringing full attention back to reproduction. This alone begins to place us in a healthy fertile state, as hypnotherapists Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer and Lynsi Eastburn describe in their powerful fertility methods.

Hypnotherapy supports you in reaching your healthiest, best self by healing and balancing all the beautiful and important parts of you. You also begin to have greater awareness of your intuition and the ‘answers’ to difficult questions you once searched for. You will be amazed to find all you are capable of when your mind and body are working as one.

Alice Domar, PhD completed two studies to demonstrate the positive effects of hypnotherapy for fertility. Her first study published in 1999 by the Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association found 42% of 132 women with infertility conceived within six months when participating in a mind-body program. Her second study in 2000, published by Fertility and Sterility, found 55% of women who met regularly for mind-body therapy conceived, while 20% of the control group not participating conceived. Not only is hypnotherapy successful, but it also has a wonderful side effect of overall wellness.

Use Your Imagination

Write yourself a prescription to play and have fun in the privacy of your own imagination, the doorway to manifesting what you desire in your life. You can do this anytime, anywhere. It’s free, natural, simple, healthy, and gentle. For example, as you fall asleep at night, take several deep breaths in and out. Close your eyes, and as you drift, create a place in your mind that you can go that is just yours. In this place, you can vividly imagine all you dream of as if it has already occurred. Allow it to be real with what you see, feel, hear, smell, and taste. Perhaps you imagine your fertilized egg snuggling safely in your womb. You may like to hold your baby and notice how your baby feels in your arms. Allow all that feels just right for you to be real in this special place.

This is the secret. This is the key. The answers you seek and path to your goal are already inside you. Watch what unfolds as you empower yourself from within!

Find Support

Visit these sites to learn more and find hypnotherapists in your area, as well as wonderful resources you can use at home, just like Circle+Bloom!

Be sure to visit Circle+Bloom’s mind-body programs at http://www.circlebloom.com/get-started

The National Guild of Hypnotists Registry https://ngh.net/referrals/request-form

Hypnotherapists certified in Hypnofertility® http://www.hypnofertility.com/HF_Therapists.html

Hypnotherapists certified in The Fertile Body Method® http://www.thefertilebody.com/FBMTherapists/Index

CB_elizabethWith fourteen years of experience in counseling, social service, educational guidance, biological research, and hypnotism, Elizabeth combines professional expertise with her personal experience of successfully reclaiming her power, reshaping her life, and embracing her purpose and helps women do the same. Elizabeth holds a Master of Education in Community Counseling from Clemson University and is a Nationally Certified Counselor. She trained with two internationally acclaimed schools of hypnotherapy, the Alternative Practitioner Academy of Illinois and the Eastburn Institute of Colorado. Her passion and purpose is supporting women, and she specializes in Hypnotherapist Lynsi Eastburn’s powerful Hypnofertility® and Hypnobirth® practices. When not working for the University of South Carolina School of Medicine and in her private practice, Bloom Hypnosis Center, you’ll find Elizabeth running, writing, traveling, and enjoying her beloved family. You may reach Elizabeth by visiting www.bloomsc.com.

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Sometimes the best way to take the stress out of conception is to connect with others. We’re broadening our circle and talking with some of the leading personalities in the fertility field to gather tips, support, and insights on how to stay calm and conceive.

Helen Adrienne: The Three Most Important Strategies for Dealing with the Emotional Pain of Infertility

CB_helenHelen Adrienne, LCSW, BCD, is the best-selling author of On Fertile Ground: Healing Infertility. She has been a psychotherapist in general private practice since 1979 with a specialty in working with people dealing with infertility.

Helen uses her training in mind/body therapy and clinical hypnotherapy to provide powerful stress reduction strategies to individuals, couples and classes that she runs for NYU Fertility Center.

We asked her: If you could only give three tips or strategies for dealing with the emotional pain of infertility, what would they be?

Without question, the number one strategy for dealing with the emotional pain of infertility has a statistically significant correlation with rates of pregnancy!* Do I have your attention? It is the approach to coping that takes us under the turbulence created by stress. When we are stressed, our bodies walk the planet, but our minds fly off into outer space. Making a u-turn and coming back to our inner space matters!!

  1. The first way to get under the turbulence is to really, really recognize that our breath as a tranquilizer is not just a cliché. Right now, prove to yourself that you can sink down into your body with one—just one—long slow deep inhalation and luxurious exhalation. See what I mean? You can claim this respite any time you become aware of needing it.
  2. If one breath can take us under the turbulence, how can we prolong the positive impact on the body and mind of the breath as a tranquilizer, and by so doing break the spasm of stress? An easy way is with a guided visualization. There are many CDs on the market. Some are directly oriented around breathing and others distract us, allowing the breath to ungrip by taking us on a journey.
  3. Third, if you’re up for taking responsibility for holding your attention on the breath while preventing your mind from driving you bonkers, you can develop the skill of coordinating your breath with saying a pleasant word in your mind every time you exhale, or saying half of a phrase on the inhalation and the other half on the exhalation—over and over. This is called the Relaxation Response™ and it is an effective, field-tested method of diving under the turbulence. It is a skill well worth the practice it takes to master.

Making that u-turn is effective because you allow self-care to trump the frenzy of stress. Resistance to finding the discipline to practicing these strategies is normal. But when there’s so much at stake, this investment could make a big difference.

Beyond work in her practice, Helen presents at national and international conferences and runs two-day training workshops for mental health professionals seeking expertise in infertility. You can learn more about Helen and obtain a wealth of free information on her site at www.mind-body-unity.com.

*Nathalie Rappoport-Hubschman, et al, “Letting Go Coping is Associated with Successful IVF Treatment Outcome,” Fertility and Sterility 92, 4 (2009): 1384 – 1388.

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You may have guessed that practicing yoga is one of our favorite ways to relax here at Circle + Bloom.

Beyond the physical benefits that yoga provides (like improved flexibility, strength, and balance) there’s an incredible sense of mental and spiritual well-being that comes along with yoga practice.

Yoga’s amazing effects are beneficial for everyone, but they are especially helpful for women who are trying to conceive.

The yoga gurus at Gaiam do a wonderful job of explaining why:

Yoga tones and nourishes your reproductive organs by systematically squeezing and then releasing them, which encourages them to function optimally. And it gives you a way to stay connected to your body at a time when it can feel like you’re not on the same page…But the most important thing yoga can do for you when you’re trying to have a baby is help you calm the stress response.

There are many different types of yoga practice, but for women who are trying to get pregnant, gentle restorative yoga is generally the best bet.

A wonderful aspect of this relaxing, straightforward type of yoga is that ANYONE can do it!

With just 5 to 10 minutes a day, you can tap into yoga’s transformative powers – and we’ve chosen 6 of our favorite fertility-friendly poses to get you started.

So, roll out your mat and get your “OM” on!

Goddess Pose (also called Reclining Bound Angle Pose)

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This relaxing pose opens the hips and pelvis and promotes deep relaxation. If you experience any back pain during this pose, you can use a bolster or rolled blanket under the spine for extra support.

Seated Spinal Twist Pose

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Do you carry tension in your back and neck? This pose is for YOU! This simple twist helps with spinal mobility and allows for the release of tension in the back and shoulders by opening the chest.

Cobra Pose

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Cobra is wonderful for alleviating lower back pain, and it opens up the ribcage for deep breathing. This pose is also great for posture, strengthening the abdominal and buttock muscles, and stimulating blood flow to the reproductive organs.

Butterfly Pose

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This pose gives a deep stretch to the thighs, knees, and groin and it improves hip flexibility. Butterfly pose is also recommended for women after they become pregnant, as consistent practice strengthens the muscles a woman uses during childbirth.

Bridge Pose

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Bridge pose is a one hit wonder! From tension, to back pain, to fatigue – it covers all the bases. It’s wonderfully restorative and energizing, and helps promote healthy circulation.

Savasana (or Corpse Pose)

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The ultimate in stress relief, Savasana encourages total relaxation and tranquil sleep. If you need extra support in your lower back, place a rolled blanket or bolster under the knees.


If you are using our programs, think of your yoga practice as a continuation of the work you’re doing to strengthen your mind + body connection.

Put your meditative powers to good use during your practice and try to hold the feelings of calm and rejuvenation with you throughout the day.

If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of yoga for fertility, check out this awesome guest blog post that delves deeper into the power of practice.

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How is your start to the New Year going? I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling more than a little relieved that the holidays are behind us. We can all take a nice deep, cleansing breath and get back to normalcy!

As you embrace the calm of settling into a routine again, it’s a great time to ask yourself this question:

How Do I Want To Live My Fertility Journey in 2015?

It’s a powerful, perhaps difficult question to answer. It can be hard to know where to even begin. Here’s the good news. You don’t have to try and answer it alone!

At Circle + Bloom we are pleased and excited to present you with a fantastic opportunity to explore this question with the guidance of Rosanne Austin, Fertility Journey Coach. Wife, attorney, infertility survivor, and expert coach, Rosanne brings a bold and unique approach to serving women longing to conceive.

You may know Rosanne from Circle + Bloom’s secret Infertility Support Circle on Facebook. Rosanne acts as a moderator for the group and she has been instrumental in making the community a warm, accepting, informative, and just plain wonderful space.

The women she has worked with absolutely love her – and we do too! Here’s your chance to be a part of her powerful, wholehearted work.

During her Love Your Life + Love Your Journey™ Online Retreat, Rosanne will share the 5 cornerstones of a life + journey well lived.

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As part of this 5 week online retreat you will share in exclusive access to a private membership site, powerful exercises, weekly group coaching calls, and receive generous love and support from other courageous women that will empower you to:

  • Stop being a hostage to fear and “what ifs,”
  • Say goodbye to fertility shame,
  • Walk your unique journey in the embrace of authenticity,
  • Strengthen your relationship with your partner,
  • Leave sadness or jealousy toward someone else’s baby joy in the dust,
  • Care for yourself in glorious new ways,
  • Rejuvenate your creativity,
  • and lay a firm foundation for a life + journey you love NOW.

Those sharing in the retreat will also receive fabulous bonuses including:

  • An exclusive discount on Circle + Bloom programs, and
  • Access to special, additional resources that will help you bring clarity + focus to your fertility journey!

As a treasured Circle + Bloom fan, you will receive special pricing on your enrollment in this one of a kind retreat!

Participation is extremely limited, so learn more and reserve your spot TODAY, by clicking here.

With love and gratitude,
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Our Favorite Blog Posts from 2014

2014 was a fantastic year for Circle + Bloom. We put in lots of hard work to make our programs even better, heard amazing testimonials from women around the world, taken new initiatives to develop a more robust and supportive community, and shared information to inform and inspire you!

This past week I’ve had a chance to look back and thoughtfully reflect on our accomplishments over the past year – One of the most fun parts of that process has been going through our 2014 blog posts.

We’ve covered so many wonderful topics and I encourage you to take a trip back into the archives with me!

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Here are some of my favorite posts from the last year. Pull up a blanket and a cup of tea!

I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I did! What were your favorite Circle + Bloom blogs this year?

Warm wishes,
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The start of the New Year is full promise and opportunity. It’s a chance to start fresh and also to look back on the past year and reflect – to see what we’ve accomplished and what needs more work.

Last year my big resolution was to DECLUTTER! Using my own advice :) I worked diligently all year to minimize the clutter in my mind and reserve my energy for the things that count – things that bring me joy, strengthen my relationships, and give me with a deeper sense of self.

I’m proud of myself for the efforts I made to promote order and calm in my life, but looking ahead to 2015 there are still a few areas where I know I can improve.

So here are my 5 resolutions for a fantastic 2015 – I’m keeping it short and simple this year and I suggest you do the same with your own resolutions!

  1. Unplug and reconnect – Why is this so hard?! I’m not a big TV person, but I am definitely guilty of checking my email (and phone…) around bedtime. This year, my goal is to shut down all email by 7pm. The detrimental effects of screen time on sleep are proven, and experts suggest powering down all screens at least 30 minutes before bed. I find that I need more than 30 minutes to wind down at night, so I’m making a conscious effort to spend my evenings connecting with friends and family face-to-face, or doing something relaxing that I enjoy.
  2. Nourish a passion – Remember those things that you loved to do as a child that you simply “don’t have time for” now? Make time for them! Whether it’s taking a photography workshop, learning to rock climb, or starting your own blog, carve out a chunk of time each week to do an something that brings you childlike delight! These “play” activities help us to deepen our connections to others and to ourselves, cultivate healing, and reduce anxiety.* I’m nourishing my passion for writing this year by writing a book! Stay tuned for more details!
  3. Move more during the day – I recently took up CrossFit and man is it a tough (but amazing!) workout. Even though I try to devote time each day for purposeful exercise, there are a lot of great tricks to keep moving throughout the day – like taking a 15 minute walk in the afternoon, building a makeshift standing desk, or doing some relaxing stretches before bed. Here are some other great get-moving suggestions from Reader’s Digest.
  4. Get outside – This goes hand in hand with my third resolution! I’ve always been a lover of the outdoors – spending time outside evokes these amazing feelings of restoration and tranquility that reach deep down into my bones. Fresh air, sunshine (Vitamin D!) and wind on my face bring an extraordinary feeling of calm connectedness with the universe and I hope to capture many more of these special moments in 2015.
  5. Spend mindfully – If money stresses you out, you are not alone! According to the American Psychological Association, finances are a major source of anxiety for around 80% of men and women in the US. I’m certainly one of these statistics. This year my family and I are all making the resolution to spend mindfully – to fully embrace a “less is more” mindset, focus on quality not quantity, and to donate gently used items when we purchase replacements. Here’s a great article via CNN on mindful spending if you’d like to learn more.

I hope that these resolutions inspire you to make some positive changes in your own life for 2015. Remember to make any goals for the New Year realistic and attainable and check in with yourself every month to see how you’re doing – you’ll feel amazing when you find yourself making progress! Please feel free to share below your 2015 resolutions!

All my best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year –

With love and gratitude,
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*PsychCentral, Margarita Tartakovsky M.S.

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Camille Preston is an expert psychologist, speaker, and consultant for businesses and individuals on ways to live a happier, more productive life.

Her belief in embracing your full potential through self-awareness and tapping into innate emotional intelligence was put to the test when infertility took her on a physical and mental rollercoaster.

Camille delivered a heartfelt, witty, and perceptive TED Talk on her infertility journey this past summer.

She touches on the challenges inherent in trying to conceive and offers some incredibly poignant insights for confronting those challenges.

At the most basic level, Camille simply does a great job of explaining the infertility journey and specifically IVF.

During various points in her talk, she describes how incredibly lonely the infertility journey can be and how difficult it is to convey the confusing thoughts and complex feelings that are a part of process to others.

No matter how well intentioned, in many cases friends and family simply don’t get it. If this is the case for you and you’re simply too drained to try and explain yourself, ask your loved-ones to watch Camille’s talk.

She provides all of the information – technical and personal – in a warm and approachable way. Let her explain so you don’t have to.

Beyond Camille’s clarification of IVF treatment and other aspects of infertility, she delves deep into the emotional chaos that ensues when a person is pushed “beyond terror’s edge.”

“Terror’s edge,” as Camille describes, is the place far beyond the reaches of your comfort zone, where you succumb to your greatest fears. Camille recounts her own experience within this space – of relinquishing control and willingly entering an emotional free-fall.

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As scary as it sounds, Camille points out that amazing things can happen when you fully give into your fears and confront what you feel without judgment or boundaries.

She reminds us that surrendering control and letting yourself go over terror’s edge is “not about giving up on what you want. It’s about going after that dream in a new way, with a new type of agility and persistence – being open to possibilities and new ways of how you could achieve (your goal).”

By approaching our fears in this extraordinarily vulnerable way, we open ourselves up to a world of new possibilities – a depth of yearning, sorrow, flexibility, sadness, and joy that we may never have known existed.

Camille stepped into the unknown and truly allowed herself to feel – everything. She developed a fuller sense of self and after a trying pregnancy, delivered a healthy happy baby boy.

Camille’s dream of being mom came true. Although this dream may not come true for everyone, remember that the infertility journey has brought us all to “terror’s edge.” We are not alone in our fears, and we are not alone in our joys.

I encourage you to watch the full talk and hope that you find strength in Camille’s bravery and commitment to her dream.

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Guest Blog by Sarah Clark, health coach and author of the book Fabulously Fertile – Supercharge your Fertility Naturally.

Did you know that what you eat directly impacts your fertility? If you have PCOS it is important to minimize your sugar and refined carbohydrates (such as those yummy cookies, cakes and holiday goodies). Did you know that if you have endometriosis that sugar and dairy could worsen your symptoms? What about low ovarian reserve? Did you know that inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy and sugar might contribute to this condition? What about unexplained infertility? This can be a baffling diagnosis, with no clear path of where to start. The first place to look is what you are placing on your fork every day. Does this sound too simplistic? Or maybe it sounds way too hard?

Here are some tips to survive the holidays and keep your fertility on track:

Plan Ahead

  • You already know this, but it’s always better to eat some food at home first, so you don’t arrive ravenous. You don’t want to start noshing on the first delectable treat you find, only to find your willpower gone before you started.
  • You can also call the host and offer to bring a dish that you can eat. This takes the pressure off the host and you don’t have to worry about finding a healthy option.

Liquids

  • We all know it, when trying to conceive, it’s best to minimize your alcohol. If you absolutely must indulge, try adding sparkling water to your drink or drink only half the amount.
  • Enjoy a glass of sparking water with lemon. If you need a sweet treat, pop in a few drops of stevia and some frozen berries.

Soup/Salad

  • It’s always better to start your meal with a salad. Instead of cutting out your favorite foods for good, crowd out the less healthy stuff with more greens. When you are stuffed with healthy veggies, it’s hard to binge on the dessert table!
  • Watch out for the salad dressing as it can be loaded with sugar. If you can, opt to bring your own oil and vinegar dressing. It is totally worth it!
  • Soups are filling and a great start to any meal, but can be loaded with cream. Opt instead for a broth based soup.

Main Meal

  • According to the Harvard Nurses Health Study (Harvard University conducted an 8 years study of more than 18,000 nurses) when you get more of your protein from plants and less from animals you improve your chances of getting pregnant.
  • Try the vegetarian option, but make sure it is not loaded with cheese, as dairy can be inflammatory for your body. If you want the animal protein go for the fish, lean turkey or chicken.
  • Load up half your plate with veggies, one quarter of your plate with starches (always whole grains) and the remainder with lean protein.

Dessert

  • Is dessert your vice? Does your meal not feel complete unless you have a slice of cake or something sweet? If this sounds familiar, its time to bring awareness to your habits around dessert and sweet treats.
  • Make sure you are consuming enough protein. This will help with cravings for the sugary stuff.
  • Pile your plate with fruit. Opt for the low glycemic index kind, such as berries, apples or pears. Tropical fruits such as melon and pineapple are too sweet and can spike your blood sugar.
  • Offer to bring a dessert that is sweetened with honey, maple syrup or stevia. Stevia is 300 times sweeter than sugar and will not spike blood sugar. This is important if you have PCOS.
  • Skip the dessert tray. Maybe you are not even hungry. You could be lonely or bored. Have a great conversation with someone you haven’t spoken with all year. Connection has the power to transform your mood!

If some of this seems way too extreme for you, start with small steps. Don’t beat yourself up. If you slip up, don’t give up! Be kind to yourself. Infertility can be overwhelming enough. Remember though, this is one area, where you have control. As you begin fueling your body with healthy nutritious food, it lifts your energy and your mood. Don’t underestimate the small steps you take each day with your diet and the impact it has on your fertility.

How To Eat During The Holidays To Improve Your FertilityWhen Sarah Clark was 28 years old, she received a diagnosis of premature ovarian failure. She accepted the diagnosis and had both her children through in vitro fertilization. Years later she realized the root cause of her infertility was a food intolerance. As a graduate from McMaster University, a certified life coach with accreditation from the International Coaches Federation and a health coach with training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, she is deeply passionate about helping couples supercharge their fertility naturally. She is the author of the book Fabulously Fertile – Supercharge your Fertility Naturally. She offers the Fabulously Fertile 4-week meal plan to boost your fertility and Fabulously Fertile 3 month coaching program to help prepare your body for conception by learning which foods will boost your fertility and which foods may harm your fertility. When she is not testing gluten-free and dairy-free recipes in her kitchen, she loves spending time with her husband and two children.

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The holidays are a festive time of year, full of hustle and bustle, family events, good food and good friends.

It can be a time of great joy, but for those struggling with infertility the constant stream of messages and images depicting the picture-perfect holiday can be a not so subtle reminder of what we want, but don’t have.

Many people get the holiday blues, but there are some truly effective ways to cope and to help you enjoy this special time of year.

Infertility and Holiday

Being prepared for what lies ahead is incredibly important and there are a few wonderful strategies for ensuring that your holiday season is a time filled with love, kindness, and joy ——

1. Surround yourself with good people who support you and are sensitive to what you are going through.

Do things that you enjoy with people that make you feel loved.

Don’t feel guilty about saying no to holiday gatherings or events that you know will make you feel uncomfortable or sad and instead focus your energy on the people and activities that encourage your happiness and wellness.

2. Find joy in doing kind and generous things for others.

Doing something nice for someone else is a surefire way to take your mind off of your holiday blues and to show the people around you that you appreciate the extra support they have given you along your journey.

3. Ask for help when you need it.

The holidays can be overwhelming on their own, but when you add the emotional strain of infertility it’s easy to become completely consumed in feelings of anxiety and helplessness.

Seeing a professional counselor and addressing your feelings in a safe and supportive space can truly help to alleviate some of this strain and help you to refocus your energy on the people and traditions that bring you joy.

4. Stick to healthy habits.

Between shopping for the perfect gift, attending a slew of holiday gatherings, and managing family commitments, it’s easy to let healthy routines slip.

Lack of time and energy make it difficult to care for ourselves in the ways that we know we should. Don’t beat yourself up for breaking your healthy habits for a few holiday indulgences, but be sure to mitigate splurges with more moderate choices, too.

5. Create new traditions.

This advice is often given to families who have recently lost a loved one, and when you are dealing with infertility or miscarriage, it’s also very important not to get trapped in holiday routines that are simply too painful during such a difficult time in life.

Traditions that used to bring joy can feel empty and meaningless. If you’re struggling with these emotions, make it a priority to establish new traditions and give yourself the permission to break with holiday routines that you don’t find fulfilling.

6. Let yourself feel…All of it.

Facing your fears and anxieties head on and with an open and non-judgmental mindset is crucial to overcoming those fears and moving forward.

The frustration and stress associated with infertility can be even more acute during a time of year so centered on families, and particularly children. If you feel yourself becoming increasingly depressed or resentful, take a step back and ask yourself “What am I feeling?” and “Why am I feeling this way?”

Acknowledge and give credit to the answers to those questions– your feelings are valid and important, and by acknowledging and respecting them you can grow from painful and scary experiences in a way that brings you closer to inner peace.

7. Know that you are not alone.

The holidays are a difficult time for a lot of people. It feels very isolating when everyone around you seems to be having a wonderful time and you’re doing all you can just to keep it together.

Just know that things are not always as lovely as they seem, and that the holidays are tough for a lot of people for a number of different reasons. There is a silver lining to this in that it provides an opportunity to reach out to others who may be struggling and to support one another.

We encourage you to join our Circle + Bloom PRIVATE Infertility Support Circle Group on Facebook, and for you to know that you will always find support from us and the amazing community that has grown from this group. To join the group, simply email amy@circlebloom.com and ask to be added.

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There comes a point, usually around December 15th or so that I finally start getting into the holiday spirit. And then it hits me like a warm blanket. That cozy feeling that everything seems right in the world.

I remember living in New York City and getting this feeling. There is nothing like walking around the streets of New York with the hustle and bustle of city life, with the extra excitement of the season making everything sparkle a bit more than usual. A beautiful thing.

But until then? Not so much.

Before December 15th, there is just a lot more stress than usual. More demands on your time, more to-dos on your list, more things to remember. And don’t forget about the additional financial commitments and decisions going on as well.

And on top of all of this? The stress and struggle of infertility… and what that means for you. In fact, last year we wrote The Tiny Guide to Holiday Sanity to provide you with one more tool in your toolbox.

So, we thought we would extend an early gift to you… A special holiday discount of not 10%, not 20% – but a whopping 25% that we hope helps you make the decision to download and get started with on your new journey of taking greater control over your fertility…and more importantly…your state of mind!

Because there is no better investment – or gift that we can make but to ourselves!

Hurry as the coupon will expire on December 15th!

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With love + gratitude –
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Are You Really in Control?

Guest Blog by Katie Ryan, a Fertility Coach, guiding couples through pregnancy preparation and fertility solutions.

They say becoming pregnant is the ultimate act of letting go. But what if you’re not good at letting go? What if you prefer to be in control?

I see so many clients who are super-organized about having a baby. They’ve researched it out the wazoo and whatever is worth doing, they’ve done it. They’re on top of the vitamins (practitioner prescribed of course), they take their temperature every morning and know when they ovulate, they schedule sex in their calendars and keep their partner on track.

They eat well, exercise and do all the right things. They’re in control of every variable that can be controlled to help bring on that big fat positive.

But it comes at a price.

When we think we’re in control we can actually be getting in our own way. The illusion of control makes us think we’re being useful but many of my clients use it to distract themselves from the real reason they haven’t conceived yet.

Keeping busy with all the doing means no time for feeling all those emotions under the surface. Those emotions are the reason your baby hasn’t come through, not because you forgot your multivitamin yesterday or accidentally drank real coffee instead of decaf.

The real skill comes not in being organized and in control, but in having the courage to look into your heart and face your fears, then feel your way through your emotions to the other side.

Imagine yourself behind the wheel of a car. You have somewhere important to be but looking ahead, all you can see is a line of traffic. Looking in your rear vision mirror you see more of the same. You’re almost stationery, in danger of being overtaken by the proverbial tortoise.

Imagine yourself gripping the steering wheel and feel the tension in your hands and arms, trying to move your car forward with the power of your mind. Feel your posture, upright with impatience.Your breathing is shallow and your chest feels tight. All you can think is “what the heck is the delay? Why me? Why now? Can we please just get on with it?” Aargh the frustration!

If you had to describe how you feel in that car in one word, would it be stressed? You might have planned your route and done all the right things to keep your car clean and well-maintained but that hasn’t helped you avoid this traffic jam.

What if you took your hands off the wheel for a moment and let them fall into your lap. Take your next breath in deeper than the last. Let your shoulders drop away from your ears.

Could you be here for a reason? What if you’re not quite ready to arrive at your destination, or what if the delay allows time for something undesirable to be moved out of your path? Be open to knowing why things are taking so long.

Being in control takes a heck of a lot of brainpower, energy and resources. The constant planning, what if-ing and organizing is exhausting and stressful, and of course stress is the number one enemy of conception.

Stress comes from being in your head but making a baby comes from being in your body, trusting your intuitive gut instincts and feeling complete faith in yourself deep in your heart.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still up to you to prepare yourself physically by eating well, doing some exercise and so on, but let that preparation come from a place of calm assuredness rather than frantic worry. Let your heart and intuition give you the guidance that your head can then put into practice.

Prepare then let go. Take your hands off the wheel and let the universe take control.

Are You Really in Control? - Katie RyanKatie Ryan is a Fertility Coach, guiding couples through pregnancy preparation and fertility solutions. She believes in a world where babies choose their parents, your body is your best friend, and intuition is golden. When she’s not bringing parents and babies together, you can find her tending to kale in her backyard, meditating with a cat on her lap, or making healthier versions of her favorite desserts. www.beforethebedroom.com


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Not Easily Dispelled

Last month, I wrote a blog post on journaling after receiving some pointed questions about my journaling process from a member of our Circle+Bloom community.

Journaling, writing, and self expression have been on my mind ever since, and I thought it would be a great time to share a personal experience that shows exactly how powerful these practices can be and the broader themes that they bring to light.

A few months ago my sister started writing a blog Not Easily Dispelled when she made a huge decision to quit her job after 30 years.

It’s been a great way for me to relive some family nostalgia through her stories and pictures, but beyond that I couldn’t help but notice a couple of things about it that highlight some great qualities we can all strive for.

First, the courage to try something new. It doesn’t matter if it’s only your family, a group of friends, the whole Internet, or just yourself as a witness.

Try something new and different if you feel like it, even if you’re nervous about what might happen or what others might think. She even tags certain posts with “something new” to highlight the way she is challenging herself.

If you put yourself out there you might just finding yourself having a lot of fun doing something you never would have imagined yourself doing!

Not Easily Dispelled Blog

Second, forcing yourself out of your comfort zone. I love this post where she states openly that blogging was outside her comfort zone when she first started, and it still is.

But taking on something outside of your comfort zone let’s you overcome some of the fears that may have been holding you back, and that’s a pretty great accomplishment. Finally, the positive impact writing can have. My sister called it ‘having a conversation with yourself.”

When you sit down to write it allows you to express yourself in a way that’s different from how you might communicate on a day-to-day basis.

Writing can help you work through tough emotions, express something that you wouldn’t talk about normally, or simply to share some joy and laughter with others.

I urge you to experience these benefits for yourself! Whether sitting down with a new journal or creating a personal blog, take the first step in reaping the rewards of writing for YOU today.

With love and gratitude,
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Guest Blog by Vickie Barnes, co-founder of BabyHopes.com.

The journey to parenthood encompasses the full spectrum of emotions. At the start, everything is exciting and hopeful. You are full of dreams of how your future is going to bloom and how you will soon have a brand new baby in your arms. As the journey unfolds, this hopefulness can slowly diminish and be replaced with sadness and frustration if the positive pregnancy test remains elusive. This is what inspired Vickie Barnes to found BabyHopes.com.

About Vickie Barnes and BabyHopes:

Babyhopes.com was a natural progression from a labor of love, literally. In 1996, I moved to England, from New Jersey, to be with my soon-to-be husband, Steve. While living there, we had our daughter, Jennifer. Her labor was amazing and I started a website called The Labor of Love to tell everyone about our home water birth. That website blossomed into a thriving supportive community of people, who were trying to get pregnant or were parents of young children. It became apparent that many people were spending a fortune on ovulation and pregnancy tests month after month. We knew there had to be a more cost-effective alternative. When BabyHopes opened in 2001, we sold low cost, reliable pregnancy tests and ovulation tests. As the years passed, we grew and changed. On the personal front, we moved back to the United States and added two wonderful sons to our family. On the business front, Babyhopes.com continued to grow and change too, still selling low cost tests, but now also selling many different herbal products that will help you optimize your chances of getting pregnant naturally.

The BabyHopes Philosophy

As online shoppers ourselves, we greatly value good customer service. Sometimes, it is hard to come by in the impersonal world of ecommerce. We like being able to help our customers find the right product for their needs. One husband and wife team called our office many times, over a two week period, asking for clarification about what products would be the most helpful for the wife. They shared their struggle with us, in detail, and, sadly, the fertility doctors had given them no hope of conceiving on their own. They refused to accept that prognosis and came to us, looking for hope and advice. We were able to suggest some natural supplements that would be helpful. The best part of this journey was when they called back, about 2 months later, to thank us for our help because they were able to get pregnant on their own! Businesses typically do not want their customers to go away, but in our case, we would much rather you achieve your dreams then come back month after disheartening month. Our hope is that won’t see you again, until you start trying for baby number two!

Products To Help You Achieve Your Dream

When BabyHopes was first “born”, we were really focusing on providing the high quality, low cost tests. The amazing ladies, on our message board, were spending a fortune on buying ovulation and pregnancy tests at the drug store, month after month. Our focus expanded, over time, to include herbal supplements that helped to increase overall reproductive health. It was at this point that we felt that we were able to really offer value to the couples trying to get pregnant. I have always been a fan of natural approaches to achieving health. Being able to offer this natural option, to the trying to conceive community, fit right in with my life philosophy. Sometimes your reproductive system just needs a bit of a tune up to optimize the hormones that lead to a successful pregnancy. An added benefit of using the herbs is that both women and men can use them. As women, we are a little more tolerant to doctors having access to our private parts. Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 10.05.10 AMMen are, typically, more resistant to having issues surrounding their family jewels scrutinized. The herbs provide a non-threatening way for them to try and deal with fertility issues they might have with their sperm. The herbs don’t guarantee success, but if you have an imbalance in your system, they are a great first step in correcting that. Provide your body with the hormonal balance it needs in order to get pregnant, and the chances of having that baby increases. We have had many couples come back and say that they finally succeeded in conceiving after trying the herbs, and sometimes, this is after they had doctors, unsuccessfully, involved. We love those types of stories!

Adding A Little Hope to Every Order

We would love to be able to wave a magic baby wand to help our customers reach their goal of getting pregnant. It is heartbreaking to watch the emotional struggle that many have in achieving their dream of holding their newborn baby in their arms. Included in every order is a complimentary packet of baby dust. It is a reminder for you to not lose sight of your dream. We want you to know that we are right there with you and hoping you achieve your dream soon.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 10.01.06 AMVickie Barnes is the co-founder of BabyHopes.com, an online retailer of herbal fertility treatments. Based in Morrisville, NC, Vickie and her husband, Steve, work to keep the hope of having a baby alive. In her free time, Vickie spends time with her kids and likes to sneak away and read a good book every now and then. Want to ask Vickie a question? You can find her on twitter, facebook, or send an email.

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Keeping a journal is a powerful tool for relieving stress, providing clarity of thoughts and emotions, and helping to achieve greater inner harmony.

A member of the Circle + Bloom community recently reached out to us because she wanted to tap into these amazing benefits, but wondered, “Where do I begin?” Her question made me realize that we need to do a better job of laying the groundwork for this incredible daily practice!

5 Simple Steps For Reenergizing Your Journaling Practice

Journaling is a very personal process…and one size shouldn’t fit all. In other words, you might try a few different avenues or methods to find what works best for you.

And most importantly, there is no right or wrong way to do this! Like meditation, there is evidence to support the theory that repetition and consistency are much more important than the amount of time spent on mindfulness and reflection activities. More than trying to feel that you need to do a long and involved journal entry, just try to take 5 minutes a day and make it a habit.

When you sit down to write, ask yourself a simple question – “How am I feeling today?” – and then set your timer for 5 minutes, and start writing! Be truthful, brutal, honest and open.

Allow yourself to express the full range of emotions that you feel without shame, embarrassment, or any other self-regulating thoughts. Allow your reactions to come in loud and clear, and be the witnesser and recorder of those thoughts.

Something truly amazing happens when you do this!

You provide yourself with a safe zone of reflection and you start to realize there are two of you – the thinking and emotional mind, and the witnesser of those thoughts and emotions. Becoming more aligned with the witnesser of those thoughts and emotions is the key to finding peace within. Buddhists call this “enlightenment.”

So, let me summarize in five simple steps for how to make the most of your journaling experience each and everyday:

  1. Make it a daily, but short, habit (5 minutes).
  2. Get yourself a journal that feels good in your hands…something that you will feel a physical connection with. HomeGoods or TJMaxx actually have a great selection and they are cheap! But if you don’t have a journal yet, use what you have. Don’t let that become a barrier to getting started today!
  3. Create a calming ritual around your journaling time. Sit down in a quiet place, maybe have a cup of tea, or light a soothing candle.
  4. Ask yourself the simple question “What am I feeling today?”
  5. Set a timer for 5 minutes and write whatever comes to mind! Do not self-regulate or pass judgment on your thoughts and feelings – just be open and honest.

We recently wrote this blog post about keeping a gratitude journal, which is also very helpful!

Tell us about your tips for journaling (or favorite place to get a journal) in the comments or on our Facebook page.

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Circle + Bloom is so pleased to introduce the C + B Infertility Support Circle, a private Facebook group created to serve women living with infertility.

Living with infertility can leave you feeling isolated, with no one to talk to, who really understands this reality.

Rest assured that you don’t have to walk this journey alone. In the Infertility Support Circle, we know exactly what this is like.

We are a group of women dedicated to learning, helping, and supporting each other on the journey to building a family. In this group we will share our stories, be inspired, find hope, discover kinship, and take joyous, positive action in our journeys.

Circle+Bloom’s Infertility Support Circle is truly unique. Our community is rich with experience, insight, and thoughtful leadership. In fact, our group is moderated by Rosanne Austin, creator of www.frommaybetobaby.com.

Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 9.43.39 PMExpert coach, attorney, writer, wife, and infertility survivor, Rosanne Austin combines lessons learned on her own fertility journey with tactical skills honed during her 10 years as a “force of nature” trial attorney, to provide parenthood hopefuls with the tools they need to create a path to parenthood in the face of infertility. Rosanne has been a featured blogger on fertilityauthority.com, Circle+Bloom, Heartfelt Egg Donation, and can be heard on the Fertility Revolution Podcast. Click here to learn more about Rosanne.

Rosanne will pose powerful questions, foster great conversations, and stoke the fire of authentic community.

Join our private Infertility Support Circle group on Facebook by sending an email to amy@circlebloom.com and we’ll make you a member. The group is TOP SECRET so that no one on Facebook will see that you’ve joined the group, nor can they see our posts! You are welcome to invite others by email once you are a member.

Joining the Infertility Support Circle now means that you will get 2 fantastic bonuses:

  1. Get the first 5 sessions of the Circle+Bloom Natural Cycle program for free, AND
  2. Get your exclusive invitation to exciting special events that Circle+Bloom and Rosanne Austin will be hosting starting in November!

We are excited and honored to share this with you and to share in your journey.

Join hands with us. Be a part of our circle.

With love & gratitude, –
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Managing the Costs of Infertility

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Do you ever feel overwhelmed with the mounting costs of infertility treatments? For many couples, the financial strain associated with trying to conceive is an uphill battle in itself! Fortunately, our friends at Fertility Within Reach are doing some wonderful work and providing expertise on how to ask your insurance company to cover health care related to infertility.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 1.22.40 PMDavina Fankhauser, president of Fertility Within Reach, was recently interviewed for an article in MONEY Magazine called “Waiting for Baby. $55,000 and Counting,” which chronicles the family-building journey of Carrie and Dan Zampich (read the full story and see a video of the couple here). Along with Atlanta-based financial planner Lee Baker, Fankhauser offers the following suggestions to Carrie and Dan for working with their insurance company and saving money throughout their infertility journey:

  1. Press for more coverage from your insurance company.
    “You have to be your own advocate,” says Fankhauser. Review your insurance policy carefully and discuss exactly what is covered with your benefits specialist. Discuss ways to maximize your coverage and identify negotiating points that you can leverage with the insurance company.
  2. Appeal for reimbursement.
    Treatment for the same condition may be covered by insurance if it’s characterized as a medical problem but not covered if infertility is cited as the reason for care, says Fankhauser. Be sure to take advantage of these situations and petition your insurance company to cover any treatments or procedures for symptoms that could be attributed to other medical conditions.
  3. Melt the plastic.
    Credit card bills can rack up quickly for couples undergoing infertility treatment. Baker suggests designating a monthly amount that you are comfortable with to pay down credit card debts. Identify credit cards with the highest interest rate and pay those down first.
  4. Be stingier.
    Sit down and log monthly expenses and spending. Look for areas where you may be spending in excess and create a reasonable budget that allows you to devote more income to paying off debts and saving for the future.
  5. Get priorities straight.
    Baker says that the Zampich’s No. 1 goal should be to build an emergency fund that would cover at least six months’ worth of their expenses.  This includes budgeting for a contribution to their retirement account and keeping an eye toward future costs associated with parenthood, such as childcare, and life/disability insurance.

For more information on how to cut costs during infertility treatment, please read this additional article (where Fankhauser is also featured), or click here for a full list of infertility and finance resources.

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After months of sharing, learning, and growing together as a community, our Pay It Forward Fertility Summer Challenge is drawing to a close. We received so many touching and thoughtful responses from all of you throughout the course of our summer challenges and we are thrilled to announce that we had 282 total pay it forward actions!

We came so close to meeting our 300 actions goal, and we want to give back by paying it fertility forward to you! As a thank you for your participation, we invite all of our fans and customers to use the special code payfertilityforward20 (expires 9/25) to receive a special 20% off discount on any Circle+Bloom program! Also congratulations to Cindy and Turinese for winning our flash giveaway in July, and to Laurence, Julie, and Brittany for winning an entire line of our downloads FREE!

Our supportive community is stronger than ever and we hope to grow the fertility circle beyond this campaign by continuing to share good things and encouraging fertility to bloom! Thank you again for sharing your experiences and opening your hearts.

With love and gratitude,

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SAN DIEGO, CALIF. (June 13, 2014) – Natural Baby Pros, Hullabaloo, and Reproductive Wellness present the 5th annual Natural Family Fair, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The Natural Baby Fair, Fertility Expo and Hullabaloo Family Music Festival combine for a fun-filled day of learning and entertainment, when all three events come together under one tent!

Your Natural Baby Fair
The fair answers all your pregnancy, birth, and health questions, while showcasing a variety of vendors, demonstrations and products to fit all lifestyle choices.

  • Keynote: Peggy O’Mara, former editor of Mothering Magazine – “How It Really Is: The Truth About the Early Years of Parenting”
  • Karen Brody, founder of Bold Tranquility, a fatigue management system – “Be Good to Yourself: Embrace the Healing Powers of Rest to Tame the Overwhelm”

Fertility Expo
Brought to you by Reproductive Wellness, this semi-private area is a great resource for couples seeking support in conception and natural alternatives. Attendees will have a chance to speak privately, at no charge, with the physicians and experts at the expo. Speakers include:

Hullabaloo Family Music Festival
Head into the Paddock to boogie on the grass and enjoy several music acts throughout the day. Hullabaloo will play for two sets, and we’ll also enjoy the performances of Randy Kaplan, The Hollow Trees, Kathryn Cloward and Melissa Green. Several family-friendly vendors and activities will be in this area as well to allow your kids to channel their inner-monkey and inner-artist.

The Breastfeeding Lounge returns with The Dad’s Lounge, and Free Community Clinic is making their debut.

The fair will be broadcasted live via New Mommy Media. Live interviews and demonstrations of speakers, sponsors and talented pros who will be at the fair. No matter where in the world you live, enjoy an inside view of the expertise and cutting edge support that the fair offers – live on the day of the event.

Due to huge support from several key sponsors, this family event is made very affordable to the families of San Diego. Key sponsors include: Nature’s Whisper Yoga, home of hot mama yoga, BabyHawk, San Diego Breastfeeding Center, New Mommy Media.com, Gymboree Play & Music, Kid Ventures, Basic Training for New Dads and Good Vibrations Family Chiropractic.

The fair is 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 14. Tickets are $10 for adults and children are $7. Tickets may be purchased in advance or at the door. Goodie bags will be given to the first 250 families. Family Packs and VIP packages available for pre-sale, including a Babyhawk carrier and other full-sized products.

For more information on the event, visit www.naturalfamilyfair.com, www.sandiegofertilityexpo.com, call (760) 689-2229 or email amy@naturalfamilyfair.com. And follow the fair on Facebook and Twitter as well.

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I cannot lie. Stress consumes me. Yup, the creator of *relaxation programs* is a stress-monger.

There are nights that I lie in bed, staring at the ceiling amidst a personal hurricane of regret, worry and general negativity. It usually surrounds a situation of dealing with others in my life… or a sudden life event that alters my perception of the future.

I know you know what I mean, because these are the emotions that shaped MY life while trying to conceive.

And, our programs provide a huge antidote to it…and of course, that is a shameless plug here in our blog for our programs, but, I am so very proud of our offerings and I will not apologize for that.

However, the in-between times when you aren’t listening to them, and you go back on auto-pilot, this is when the monster (even when you think he is asleep) will roar back to life in an instant and bite you in the ass.

CB_calmSo, here are my eight ways of dealing with it. First and foremost – and lately – my method of control is using a mantra… so hence, that is first on my list…

  1. Mantra.
    This is a life-changing habit. I guarantee it. This is what I’ve done: I take 10 – 15 minutes to take a simple walk outside. And while I step, I either say “thank you” “thank you” thank you” or “I love myself” “I love myself,” “I love myself” over and over again (see steps 7 and 8 below as well). It’s a powerful way to reprogram your brain such that when you encounter negative emotions, you will begin to catch yourself and say your mantra again. More on this in the coming months, I promise. It’s a game-changer.
  2. Breathe.
    Deep breathing is a great way to lower stress and you can practice it just about anywhere. Close your eyes and take ten deep, cleansing breaths. Shift your attention from your mind to your body by focusing on filling your chest and belly with air on each inhale and the sensation of release that comes with every exhale. Take as many breaths as you need until you feel your heart rate slowing down and your tension easing.
  3. Practice positive self-talk.
    It’s easy to slip into negative self-talk when we are feeling depressed, anxious, or overwhelmed, but remember to be gentle with yourself. Push negative thoughts aside and embrace your positive inner voice. Imagine yourself as a child, feeling lonely or afraid – what would you say to your child-self to help calm their fears and remind them they are loved? A simple, “It’s okay” might be all it takes to make you feel more centered and peaceful. Adopt these reassuring thoughts as your personal mantras and repeat them to yourself throughout the day.

  4. Meditate.
    Meditation goes hand in hand with many of the other tools on this list and is a wonderful way of increasing awareness and acceptance. Mindfulness meditation is a particularly helpful technique that expands on deep breathing exercises by focusing more deeply on the rhythm of your breath and letting thoughts and emotions pass over you without judgment. Acknowledge and respect the feelings that come to you during your meditations and clear your mind by intentionally allowing them to float away. For more information on meditation check out Ken Myer’s guest post Finding Time to Meditate: Keeping Yourself Healthy.
  5. Sleep.
    Anxiety is exhausting! It drains us mentally and physically and oftentimes disrupts our sleep patterns. If you find yourself having a hard time sleeping or falling asleep, you may need to adjust your routine. Try a cup of herbal tea, power down all screens at least an hour before bedtime, or do a few restorative yoga poses before hitting the sheets – it may take a little experimenting to find what works for you, but the benefits of a good night’s sleep are worth it. Check out Joanne’s post Waking Up Feeling Refreshed – It’s Possible! for more sleep tips.
  6. Create a support system – and use it!
    Fill your life with people that accept you for who you are, encourage you, and bring you joy. We all need help sometimes, and when someone really cares about you, it isn’t a chore to lend a hand. Just remember that your support system wants you to be happy and healthy, and they would probably do anything to help get you there.
  7. Walk it out.
    Exercise has many stress-busting benefits. The Mayo Clinic concludes that exercise increases feel-good endorphins, acts as meditation in motion, and improves your mood by giving you confidence and a sense of command over your body. You don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy these benefits – whether its walking, gardening, swimming or yoga – just pick an activity that you enjoy and make time for it everyday.

  8. Express gratitude.
    Every single day, identify the simple things in life that bring you joy and express gratitude for them. Whether it be the rays of morning sun, or your best friend’s belly laugh – whatever makes you stop and enjoy the moment. What else brings you happiness throughout your day? Try to become more aware of your inner state of being and make a commitment to yourself to manifest more positivity in your life.

And now your turn. What methods of control do you use to help keep stress at bay? Please share…I want to hear from you!

With love & gratitude –
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It’s time for our fourth Pay it Forward Fertility Summer Challenge. Please join us in this final push to pay fertility forward and we will pay it forward to you!

Here’s how it works:

Challenge #4: CELEBRATE BREAKTHROUGHS

This spring I received a touching and inspirational story from a woman named Ashley. Ashley and her fiancé had been trying to conceive for 2 years. They suffered through an early miscarriage and then became pregnant again in the fall of last year. After their initial loss, Ashley was wrought with worry and fear throughout her first trimester and at week 16, the couple was given heartbreaking news – their seemingly healthy son was diagnosed with Trisomy 13, a fatal genetic disorder. His heart and brain were not able to keep up with the growing demands of his body and he passed a week later. Ashley was induced and able to hold her baby boy Noah to say goodbye.

Ashley was consumed by grief after the devastating loss of her son. Trying to conceive again was the only way that she felt she could move forward. Ashley discovered the Circle+Bloom website and was inspired by the testimonials of women who became pregnant and gave birth to healthy babies, even after traumatic experiences like hers. She stretched her household budget and purchased our programs with the hope that someday, she too would have one of those success stories to share.

Ashley is now in her second trimester of pregnancy and attributes her newfound calm, confidence, and happiness to the support provided by Circle+Bloom’s programs. In her message to me, Ashley said, “I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate you designing these programs and making them available to women on so many different paths in their journey to conceive. I truly think your fertility programs are the secret to reviving the hope of women who have been beat down by the negative test month after month.”

Ashley’s story struck me at the core. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for our ability to support and nurture women like Ashley along their sometimes-harrowing fertility journeys – but I also felt that I could do more. Ashley inspired me to start “paying it forward” by personally donating $50 to Make a Wish Foundation each time we receive a message like hers. By making these donations, I hope to inspire others to spread joy and gratitude by giving back in whatever ways they can.

Dates: August 26 – September 9

How YOU Pay it Forward:

Here are the ways you can CELEBRATE BREAKTHROUGHS:

  1. Share your breakthrough story with Joanne and the community via social or email. Share how you made a significant change to your outlook on how you think about your family journey or how you experienced success as a result of that shift in perspective. Share on Facebook or Twitter, or email me personally at joanne@circlebloom.com if you prefer to share your experience anonymously.
  2. We’ll share “Breakthrough” inspirations for you to pass on. Circle+Bloom will be sharing special “Breakthrough” devotions with you over the next few weeks via our social channels. Share a devotion that resonates with you to help inspire others.

How WE Pay it Forward:

For every ‘good news’ message shared, I will donate $50 to the Make a Wish Foundation. All those who share their breakthrough story through Twitter, Facebook,
or email are entered to win our entire line of downloads FREE. Please be sure to tag anything you share on social – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – with #payfertilityforward so we can track your participation!

Every person who pays it forward is eligible to win!

That’s not all.

If we reach 300 total pay it forward actions throughout the course of the campaign, we’ll continue to Pay it Forward and share a special 20% off discount with all our fans and customers.

We are already over halfway to reaching our goal, so please share your breakthrough and success stories to help us make it to 300 pay it forward actions!

With love + gratitude –
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Guest Blog by Jessica Rutzick, Founder of Premium Egg Donation, Inc.

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When I was unceremoniously dumped by my long-term boyfriend at the age of thirty-five, I had to find a way out of my heartbreak. Yes, I was upset about losing the guy, but I was altogether heartbroken about losing the chance to have a traditional family. I was terrified that I would wind up a workaholic, single and childless – the modern day version of a spinster. I needed a plan “B.” So I promised myself that if I was still single when I turned 40, I would go ahead and have a baby as a single mom by choice.

Five short years later, I found myself still single and at a fertility clinic, checkbook in hand. Five minutes into the ultrasound, the doctor was shaking his head, frowning. “This doesn’t look good,” he said. A more elaborate and even less glamorous hormone test proved that I was not fertile. “Premature ovarian failure,” the doctor said, looking at the wall behind me. I argued with him. “But I look young, and I act young and I am really healthy and fit- look at me!” The doctor shook his head and said: “Your ovaries didn’t get the memo. You need an egg donor.”

I had heard about egg donors before because my friend used one to have her baby at the age of forty five. Other than that, I knew nothing about what is now known as “third party reproductive medicine.” I considered my options. It is very difficult to adopt as a single mother. The wait is quite long. In open adoptions, the biological parent(s) choose the adoptive parent. I did not have it in me to interview for someone else’s baby.

I considered the egg donor option. I would have control over the pregnancy, but what if my baby grew into a 6 foot tall blonde, while I am a 5’0” brunette? “Would she still be my baby,” I wondered.

Type “A” and goal oriented, I was not going to let a little infertility get in my way. Within weeks I had scanned hundreds, if not thousands, of on-line egg donor profiles. I narrowed it down to five young women and showed their profiles to my two best girlfriends. We voted and chose “Donor No. 35561.” Arrangements were made, agency fees paid, and lengthy contracts signed and notarized. Travel plans were set.

The whole experience was extremely stressful. Was the egg donor really who she said she was? Was the agency ripping me off? Did my doctor know what he was doing? Plagued by nagging doubts and anxiety, I got on the plane to La Jolla.

The waiting room at the doctor’s office was small and crowded with young women, and American and foreign couples both gay and straight. Within a few minutes, Dr. Smotrich ushered me into his office. Photographs of the doctor’s wife and children filled his book shelves. I sunk into his low, leather couch. “I want twins,” I said. He smiled, and said “ok.”

Dr. Smotrich reassured me that my donor was “lovely.” I tried not to ask too many questions about this woman- who I had never met, but who was giving me the gift of a baby (or two). I knew only a few things about her. I had her general medical history, her hair and eye color, height and weight. I knew she ran triathlons. She was in graduate school. She was married. She has a twin sister. She had donated six times already to other families. She resembles me.

I was scheduled to have the embryos transferred to my uterus on Sunday, Mother’s Day. “Auspicious,” said my best friend.

Jittery with nerves, bruised from injections and amazed the logistics had all worked out, I was ushered into a small, dimly lit examination room. The procedure was short and painless. The embryologist had selected three of the best looking embryos from the batch. He gave me photographs of them. They looked like three, sepia-toned cookies. I looked at the photos a long time. “Will this be my baby?” I asked myself again.

As it turned out, I had one baby boy. He has brown hair, brown eyes and a terrific smile. And rest assured, he is my baby.

Not a day goes by when I do not have gratitude for my egg donor. I still have never met her. I don’t know her name, or if she still runs triathlons or if she is still married. Her gift transcends all of those details because my egg donor gave me my baby.

Rutzick-18HighResJessica Rutzick founded Premium Egg Donation, Inc., an egg donor agency specializing in matching intended parents with academically credentialed egg donors. She also is a trial lawyer and single mom by choice. She and her son, Solomon, live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

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August is here and it’s time to issue a new call to action for our Pay It Forward Fertility Summer Challenge. Please continue to help us pay fertility forward by joining in our third challenge and we’ll pay it forward to you!

Here’s how it works:

Challenge #3: GROWING THE CIRCLE

Your outpouring of support over the course of our first two challenges is an inspiration to us all here at Circle+Bloom. Those who have shared their experiences, advice and testimonials have strengthened and uplifted our community. We ask you to build on this momentum by helping us to build a special community and to keep the dialogue going!

Dates: August 5 – August 22

How YOU Pay it Forward:

Here are the ways you can GROW THE CIRCLE:

1.     Help us to build a special online Circle+Bloom community.

While there are a few wonderful online infertility communities out there, we often find ourselves disappointed in the level of support provided by many of the groups we come across. Sometimes these groups become a negative free-for-all, leaving many members feeling hurt and alone. However, we see great potential in creating an online infertility community that is effectively moderated, provides professional expertise, and focuses on positive action. We would love your help in creating such a space! Please help us to do so by sharing feedback about your experience with online infertility groups and your suggestions for ways that Circle+Bloom can make build the strongest, most supportive online family possible. Whether it be a weekly live Q&A session with me, or guest posts on special topics, we are eager to hear what YOU want so we do this right!

2.     Share as a parent.

Has someone shared a piece of advice with you that greatly impacted your fertility journey or experience as a new parent?  Give back by sharing your knowledge with the Circle+Bloom community. Pass along words of wisdom and support for the conception journey, pregnancy or parenthood via Twitter, Facebook, or email.

As with our other challenges, we understand the sensitive nature of sharing such personal experiences, but feel that it is important to foster an open dialogue around our common bond. If you would like to contribute, but would prefer to do so in a less public way, I encourage you to email me personally at joanne@circlebloom.com so we can share your experience anonymously.

How WE Pay it Forward:

 All those who give feedback for building our special community, share one of our graphics, or share advice and support through Twitter, Facebook, or email are entered to win our entire line of downloads FREE. Please be sure to tag anything you share on social – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – with #payfertilityforward so we can track your participation!

Every person who pays it forward by growing our circle is eligible to win!

That’s not all.

We want to really make our circle grow so we’ve set a collective goal for our Pay it Forward Fertility Summer Challenge.

If we reach 300 total pay it forward actions throughout the course of the campaign, we’ll continue to Pay it Forward and share a special 20% off discount with all our fans and customers.

We look forward to learning together with you through this new and exciting community experience.

With love + gratitude –

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Circle+Bloom's Favorite Summer Reading Blog Posts

Summer is in full swing here in North Carolina! The sun is shining and everywhere I look, the world is in full bloom.

There are so many wonderful things to see and do during the summer months, but one of my favorite warm weather pastimes has always been finding a quiet spot in the shade and diving into a great book.

While I love a good novel, I also see my summertime reading sessions as a nice time to learn something new that I can share with you! With this in mind, I picked five of my favorite Circle & Bloom blog posts for your “summer reading.”

These blog posts provide insights and inspiration for every step of your conception journey and provide you with the tools you need to embrace and nurture your mind + body connection. I hope that you enjoy this summer reading and are able to incorporate these teachings into your daily life all year long!

Three Powerful Steps to Get In Control Over Your Fertility
Trying to conceive can be so emotionally taxing that we can feel like we are spinning out of control. But we can take ownership of our fertility by managing stress effectively and quieting our anxious minds. The three tools that I share in this post enable you to do just that, by reflecting on and accepting the things that are out of our hands and embracing the power in the choices that we can make.

Why Does Nutrition Matter?
Good nutrition is essential for healthy bodies, but it is especially important for women who are trying to get pregnant. Striving to have good nutrition in your life is a worthwhile dedication and even if your fertility seems to be unaffected by your diet, there are at least 4 great reasons nutrition still matters for you.

Mind + Body – Simple Mind + Body Exercise
This post describes the process for a simple visualization technique that leaves you feeling calm and with your mind and body in tune. By repeating the mantra “I have the power over my body to bring it back to its natural state of balance,” this basic exercise increases our awareness of innate healing powers within and helps to bring serenity, and balance to your body just by having your brain take a the lead for a bit.

Fitness – The Key to Conception
Summer is a wonderful time to rekindle your love of the outdoors and to get active! Fitness plays a huge role in achieving optimal hormonal balance for women who are trying to conceive, increasing libido, and helps to build core muscle strength to
prepare a woman’s body for the physical strains of pregnancy.

How to Become Open to Life
This guest post by Leo Baubuta of ZenHabits celebrates the concept of “openness” and allowing yourself to experience life fully and completely. With an open heart, we are able to practice acceptance without judgment and to find joy no matter what comes our way.

With love & gratitude,
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cb_challenge2

The Pay It Forward Fertility Summer is under way! Help us pay fertility forward by joining in the second challenge and we’ll pay it forward to you.

Here’s how it works:

Challenge #2: REFER & REVIEW

Building a supportive community surrounding the fertility journey is of utmost importance to us. In order to strengthen our circle and to provide you with the best possible resources, we ask you to share your experiences, advice, and feedback with us and with each other.

Dates: July 21 – August 4

How YOU Pay it Forward:

There are the ways you can REFER & REVIEW:

  1. Review your experience with Circle+Bloom.
    Share how our programs have impacted your fertility journey with other members of our community by posting to our Facebook or Twitter accounts, or by emailing us.

    We fully understand the sensitive nature of sharing such personal experiences, but feel that it is important to build an open community around our common bond. If you would like to provide a testimonial, but would prefer to do so in a less public way, I encourage you to email me personally at joanne@circlebloom.com so we can share your experience anonymously.

  2. Refer a friend.
    Do you know someone who is trying to improve her health, well-being, fertility, and energy level? Share the power of the mind-body connection with a friend through our Circle+Bloom referral program. With every referral, you earn 15% cash and can share a 15% off coupon with friends!

    Get started by clicking here!

Please be sure to tag anything you share on social – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – with #payfertilityforward so we can track your participation!

How WE Pay it Forward:

Anyone who shares a review of their Circle+Bloom experience will receive a special discount code for 15% off and anyone who refers a friend receives a special bonus of 20% off their next purchase!

Every person who pays it forward – by sharing their testimonial – or sharing the Circle+Bloom love with a friend – will receive these special offers!

That’s not all.

We want to really make our circle grow so we’ve set a collective goal for our Pay it Forward Fertility Summer Challenge.

If we reach 300 total pay it forward actions throughout the course of the campaign, we’ll continue to Pay it Forward and share a special 20% off discount with all our fans and customers.

Let’s keep the momentum going and all pass fertility on this summer!

With love + gratitude,
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Through the Heart

Guest blog post by Karen Kelly of Through the Heart.

1398100912My name is Dr. Karen Kelly and in February 2013, my husband and I lost our daughter at 20 weeks. It was a devastating experience and we quickly learned of the lack of resources available to those who have suffered pregnancy loss.

We believe everyone should have the support and information necessary to deal with this difficult situation. As a result, Through the Heart was born.

Through the Heart is a national 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to educate and support anyone experiencing a pregnancy loss either directly or indirectly. Our organization provides a community and a glimpse of light in your darkest hour. One of the most important things to know following a pregnancy loss of any type is that you are not alone!

Dealing with a loss, and subsequently trying to conceive again, can be very difficult emotionally. Grieve in whatever way makes sense for YOU. Take as much time as you need and do not let others rush you.

Do not feel guilty, ashamed, or that you did something wrong. Don’t be afraid to ask people for specific help or, if you’re not sure what you need, it’s ok to vocalize that too.

Even if you have your spouse, family members, or friends to lean on, it may still be helpful to find another outlet for your emotions as you travel through this journey. Consider putting your thoughts into writing, either privately in a journal or publicly (Through the Heart offers the chance to share your story on our website or chronicle the ongoing process on our blog). You may also want to consider joining TTH’s discussion forum where you can anonymously connect with others who have experienced pregnancy loss. Also, talking with a counselor or therapist may be helpful in sorting through emotions.

Some people are ready to begin trying to conceive very quickly after a loss but for many others, it takes time. There’s no rule that says you have to start again when you’re cleared physically by your doctor – you also need to be mentally and emotionally ready. Some women never really feel ready again but know that if they want a child, they have to try. Understand that whatever you’re feeling is normal and ok, there is no right or wrong answer.

Trying to conceive after a loss can be a very isolating process. It is often a more emotional journey than it was before and it’s easy to have the mindset that because pregnancy happened once, it will naturally happen again. While this is the case for some women, many others struggle to conceive again for a variety of reasons. It’s important to remember that your body can change after a loss, especially during those first few cycles so you may not have the same patterns as before. Even if your cycle occurs like clockwork, it’s a good idea to go back to basics such as charting, taking your temperature, and testing for ovulation. You may be surprised to find “a new normal.”

Additionally, recurrent pregnancy loss is much more common than people are led to believe. Because it’s not talked about much, we don’t often hear the stories and so someone faced with multiple losses can easily feel alone or that there is something wrong with them. Whatever you are going through, whatever your challenges and struggles, remember that someone else has been there. It’s important to find an outlet for your emotions and a source of information and support such as that offered by Through the Heart. Go ahead and ask questions, ask for advice, vent about your frustrations, whatever you need to do to make it through.

Just remember that you are not alone!

Connect with Through the Heart:
Website: www.throughtheheart.org
Twitter: @Through_Heart
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Through-the-Heart/186644458155328
Blog: http://www.throughtheheart.org/wordpress/
Discussion forum: http://throughtheheart1.proboards.com/

headshotDr. Karen J. Kelly is a Texas resident and New Jersey native who loves sports, music, traveling, baking, and her 2 cats, Smokey & Plinko. In March 2013, she co-founded the nonprofit organization Through the Heart with her husband, Sean. Following the loss of their daughter at 20 weeks, the couple recognized the lack of resources available to them as well as a lack of understanding by others on how to react to the situation. It is their hope that through this organization, pregnancy loss can become a topic that is more openly discussed, acknowledged, and understood.

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cb_challenge1

The Pay It Forward Fertility Summer starts today! Help us pay fertility forward by joining in the first challenge and we’ll pay it forward to you.

Here’s how it works:

Challenge #1: SHARE

We believe there is great power in sharing in the journey to fertility. We don’t conceive alone or parent alone – or struggle alone – so to keep the circle going this month simply help us share support, advice, and feedback.

Dates: July 3 – 20

How YOU Pay it Forward:

There are three ways you can SHARE:

  1. Share some feedback with us. Take our brief survey (click here) and let us know how we can better support you.
  2. Share a shoulder. Look for our quotes of support on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Simply like, share, comment, pin, or retweet to help pass them on.
  3. Share a kind word. Tell us – and others! – what advice helped get you through. Share some advice on Facebook, Twitter or via Email.

Please be sure to tag anything you share on social – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – with #payfertilityforward so we can track your entry!

How WE Pay it Forward:

We’ll pick three winners and give away three FREE downloads for you AND three FREE downloads to share!

Every person who pays it forward – by filling out a survey, sharing – or commenting on – a support quote or passing along advice – will be automatically entered to win.

That’s not all.

We want to really make our circle grow so we’ve set a collective goal for our Pay it Forward Fertility Summer Challenge.

If we reach 300 total pay it forward actions throughout the course of the campaign, we’ll continue to Pay it Forward and share a special 20% off discount with all our fans and customers.

Ready to begin? Let’s all pass fertility on!

With love + gratitude,
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Circle and Bloom began from a very personal place. Having experienced my own struggles with fertility, I set out to help others conceive and in a way, I started a circle. Over time, that circle grew. Our community grew. The web of support grew. And the fertility rates grew. The number of successful births grew. (And grew!) We’ve kept circling – growing – to this day and we don’t plan to stop!

The path to conception – and even throughout parenthood – is not one we travel alone. It’s dotted with kind gestures, small moments of support, and little actions along the way. (From people we know, and also from those we don’t know.) The journey is a shared one, and frequently, one good moment leads to another.

CB_fertilitycircle2We’re calling these connections “The Fertility Circle.” And we want to keep it going strong. We want to honor the part we all play in supporting one another, in encouraging fertility to bloom.

We’ve decided to spend the summer paying fertility forward. Whether you are on the journey to conception, in the middle of pregnancy, or enjoying parenthood, we all have something to share. We’re kick-starting a Pay it Forward Fertility Summer Challenge to pass the good things on and we invite you to join us.

Stay tuned each week to our Facebook page, blog and Twitter account for the Pay it Forward Fertility Summer Challenge and help the fertility circle carry on and on and on…

With love + gratitude,
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Leafy greens and dark green vegetables are an excellent source of folate (or folic acid), an essential B vitamin that supports healthy pregnancy in a number of ways. During the beginning stages of pregnancy, folate supports fetal brain development by preventing neural tube defects that can cause spina bifida and anencephaly. Folate also contributes to optimizing sperm production, promotes routine ova production, and aids in the creation of healthy red blood cells.

The Centers for Disease Control suggests that women who are trying to conceive consume at least 400mg of the B vitamin daily. Luckily, there are numerous ways to enjoy greens and incorporate other folate-rich foods such as lentils, asparagus, beets, beans, and broccoli into your diet.

Let's Get Leafy - Six Delicious Ways to Add Folate to Your Days

Here are six tasty ideas:

  1. Tear pieces of kale, sprinkle them with olive oil and kosher salt, and roast on high for crunchy kale crisps.
  2. Throw a handful of chopped romaine lettuce into the blender with the ingredients for your favorite fruit smoothie.
  3. Sauté cooked lentils with olive oil, shallots and lemon for a filling side dish (or mix in some roasted veggies for a healthy lunch!)
  4. Stir-fry baby bok choy with garlic, soy sauce, ginger, and a drizzle of sesame oil (For a spicy kick, sprinkle in red pepper flakes)
  5. Toss baby spinach and sautéed mushrooms with hot whole wheat pasta or brown rice and pesto for a quick and easy dinner.
  6. Coat asparagus spears with olive oil, salt and pepper, and grill over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Drizzle the cooked asparagus with balsamic vinegar.

For more tips on healthy eating, check out our two part series Best Diets for Fertility – The Top 13 “Super” Foods – Part 1 and Best Diets for Fertility – The Top 13 “Super” Foods – Part 2.

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Guest Blog by Rosanne Austin, founder of Maybe to Baby.

It’s no mystery that fertility treatment is often a budget crushing expense. (Goodbye vacations, adieu disposable income!) As if that wasn’t bad enough, it’s an expense that comes at a time when you are likely feeling broken, defeated, and even desperate, after trying for months, or even years for a child of your own.  This insidious, highly combustable combination of a high price tag and soul searing emotion can be a recipe for disaster if you don’t have your wits about you.

When starting on the fertility journey, most of us really haven’t considered in concrete terms exactly what we are willing to spend. Why? Because in some ways it’s like trying to answer the unanswerable. Seriously. “How much are you willing to spend in order to have a baby of your own in your arms?” Whose heart didn’t immediately shout, “a million, billion, trillion dollars!?”

Talking about money, particularly if you and your partner have “differing” philosophies can be as appealing as deep vein thrombosis, but it’s a conversation you need to have pronto!

Treatment-Budget-2

Here are some considerations to get the ball rolling:

1) How Much Money Do We Really Have?

This question isn’t about what you think you make per year or what your gross salary is. What I’m asking is more bare bones, nitty-gritty than that. I want you to think about how much money, after taxes, basic living expenses, car payments, student loans, credit cards, insurance, and other monthly expenses do you really have? What do you have in savings, investments, or otherwise? Having a clear understanding of your true net worth and your liabilities will put “how much CAN I spend” into perspective real fast.

2) Do We Have a Written Monthly Budget?

You may already have a perfectly organized, down to the penny written monthly budget that would be the envy of any self respecting bean counter–if so, high five! BUT, if you are like my husband and I were when we started on this path, we  scoffed at the idea of a written budget, deludedly thinking that we were so innately organized that the exercise of writing it all down was a waste of our precious time. How wrong we were.

When the roller coaster started rolling, it felt like we were shoveling cash out the window of our car at 70 miles an hour.  Everyone’s hand was out!  This is exactly why having a written monthly budget and knowing precisely where every dollar is going is essential.  When you are dropping loads of cash on fertility treatment, have control of your monthly expenses! Plan where you can save extra cash to stock pile for your fertility treatment war chest.

Don’t have any idea where to begin with starting a written budget?  Google it.

3) Do We Know EXACTLY How Much the Treatment Will Cost?

You must be certain that you know exactly what the treatment plan you have selected is going to cost. The sticker price from the doctor may not include medications and add on services.  For example, if you have elected to do IVF, the cost of the procedure at the clinic may be X dollars, but:

  • What is the cost of the injectables and medications you will need to order from a specialty pharmacy?
  • How much will ICSI or assisted hatching add?
  • How much will it cost to freeze any embryos you may have after the procedure?
  • What about acupuncture or other alternative treatments to supplement efficacy?

There could be a myriad of other considerations, but the bottom line is you must know the bottom line.  No scary surprises to sucker punch your pocketbook!

Keep in mind: this cost could possibly be multiplied several times over, if you need to repeat the procedure.

4) Does Our Insurance Offer Coverage For Any of Our Procedures?

You may actually be one of the lucky few that has health care coverage that will cover fertility procedures.  If so, awesome!  If you are like many of us in states like California, you are likely going to pay out of pocket.  BUT, here is where you need to contact your health plan–they may cover at least some of the prescriptions needed for the treatment, such as pain killers, Clomid, and antibiotics required prior to the procedure.  That may not feel like much, but when you are spending thousands, any little bit helps.  Ask questions!

5) How Much Are We Willing to Spend or Afford?

Again, in theory we’d probably all be willing to spend an infinite amount of money to have a baby, BUT that is neither realistic, nor sensible, so when starting to answer this question, take a deep breath and for heaven’s sake be REAL.

To illustrate the point, let’s say that you make $75K per year and you are looking at doing IVF, which with drugs can cost roughly anywhere from $12,000 to $20,000 (this is just an approximation–plug in your own numbers) depending on the state you live in and the protocol your doctor recommends.  If you have additional specialized procedures like ICSI, assisted hatching, or are using donor eggs, the fees can be even more.  Do you have the money to cover these costs today?  What percentage of your income are you willing to spend?  You may be great with your money and have a healthy nest egg upon which to draw, but how much of that are you willing to spend on treatment?

Now, I didn’t just ask how much you are willing to spend, but also how much you are willing to afford.  Depending on where you are in your journey, you may not have all of the money you need or the luxury of time to wait to save it.  There are more than a few companies who are in the business of financing fertility treatment and that may or may not be an option for you depending on your comfort level with acquiring debt.  That necessitates the question, am I willing to go into debt to for fertility treatment?  In answering that question, refer back to considerations #1 and #2.  Can you really afford to go into debt?

How much are you willing to spend, when there are absolutely no guarantees you will end up with a baby in your arms?  I suggest that you come up with a reasonable “finish line number” for yourselves–a number where you and your partner agree you will stop, because you could end up spending into oblivion! Don’t make other fantastic options like adoption out of reach because you didn’t have the foresight of an FLN!

6) Will We Have Money For Other Options?

As I touched on in consideration #5, if you don’t set a limit for fertility treatment, it could complicate or delay your foray into other options, if the treatment doesn’t turn out the way you hoped.  Private adoptions can be expensive. Surrogacy can be astronomical.  If you plan ahead and have your wits about you, planning for these options can be a breeze, but not doing so can detrimentally delay a change of course on the road to baby.

7) How Will Our Choices Effect Our Financial Plan When Our Baby Comes?

It makes me sad how many couples don’t think about how their spending on fertility treatment will effect their quality of life when their baby does come.  Using the hypothetical $75K from consideration #5, how will having $150K in fertility treatment debt on top of your mortgage, credit card bills, car payments, and monthly living costs, effect your way of life?  Seriously.  If you are making ends meet, but don’t have a lot of leeway, what are you going to do when you have depleted your savings and have incurred a mountain of debt on top of that? Don’t be short sighted!

Being a good parent starts way before getting that positive pregnancy test.  It starts with being financially healthy, so that you can not only feed your family, but enjoy those precious moments you have longed and prayed for.  Having to take on a second job, or living in constant fear because you have no savings will rob you of that!

Bottom Line:  Ask yourself these questions!  Use common sense. If you need financial counseling, GET IT.  Doing things the From Maybe To Baby way is all about defining your own journey and making choices that are right for you.  Love on your relationship and future family by having a clear financial plan for your journey!

Bankrolling Fertility Treatment: No Sucker Punches AllowedRosanne Austin, creator of frommaybetobaby.com, is a fertility journey mentor who combines lessons learned on her own fertility journey, with Co-Active Coaching principles, and tactical skills honed during her 10 years as a “force of nature” trial attorney, to provide parenthood hopefuls with the tools they need to tame the fertility treatment beast. Featured as a guest and commentator on KCBS and KSRO radio in the San Francisco Bay Area, Rosanne empowers her clients with proven strategies to avoid heartbreaking pitfalls, safeguard their relationships, and prevent financial foolishness, all while creating a path to a luscious life they love. By popular demand, Rosanne will be producing a webinar series starting on July 2, 2014, and will launch a sanity saving, no stone unturned, online fertility journey boot camp. In the few hours when she’s not mentoring, writing, or speaking, Rosanne is a Paris loving, Downton Abbey crazed, food and wine fanatical, woman madly in love with her husband. Rosanne gives back by serving on the executive board for Verity, an organization committed to providing resources to survivors of sexual assault and human trafficking.

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