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Welcome to the Circle+Bloom Blog
Next week is National Infertility Awareness Week. It’s a time every year that we celebrate the strength of the infertility community, work toward educating and spreading awareness about the disease, and lend extra support to those on their fertility journey.
Resolve, The National Infertility Association, started NIAW nearly 30 years ago and each year they’ve nourished discussions around a certain aspect of infertility. This year’s theme is #StartAsking, and we encourage you to do just that –
Every day people with infertility are asking questions. “Why me?” “How can we afford this?” “Why don’t you understand?” National Infertility Awareness Week® is not only an opportunity to raise awareness about this disease, but also motivate all that are touched by infertility to commit to the cause.
What will YOU #StartAsking? Use all your social networks, your platforms, and tell anyone ready to listen. Tell them you’re ready to #startasking the tough questions.
We’ll be sharing our #StartAsking questions all next week on Circle + Bloom’s Facebook and Twitter pages, and as our gift to anyone on their journey, we’re offering 20% off all Circle + Bloom products through May 18! Simply enter coupon code NIAW20 at checkout.
Please join us in supporting this wonderful initiative.
With love + gratitude ~
Guest blog by Sarah Prater, L.Ac., Founder and Acupuncturist of Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture.
If you find yourself sitting in the waiting room of the fertility clinic, you’re probably wondering if you’re doing all you can to help your cycle be a success. You might have heard about some women adding acupuncture to their treatment cycles or even considered it yourself.
Acupuncture is a safe and effective way to increase your chances of conception and can be combined with IVF, IUI, and other fertility treatments. Many fertility clinics are even starting to offer acupuncture in-house! If you aren’t so lucky as to have such a clinic nearby, this article is for you!
At our clinic, Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture, we specialize in combining acupuncture and fertility treatments. We see many benefits to this approach such as:
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Decreased medication side effects
- Improved egg quality and quantity
- Increased thickness and quality of the endometrial lining
- Improved pregnancy and live birth rates
- Prevention and reduction of uterine contractions
- Decreased chance of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy
- Encouragement of embryo implantation
- Hormone regulation
Adding acupuncture to your already complicated fertility treatment schedule can seem like a daunting task, but luckily there is help! Read below for a few tips we’ve learned on how to best incorporate the two treatments:
- Try to find a fertility specialist in your area. An acupuncturist who specializes in fertility will be familiar with the type of treatment you are undergoing and may have even worked with your doctor. They will usually have flexible scheduling to allow for last minute changes in your treatment and even have extended availability for pre and post embryo transfer appointments.
- Call before your treatment starts. While acupuncture can be started at any point during a treatment cycle, many acupuncturists have protocols they use for each type of cycle. So calling a month or so before your cycle begins can allow you to plan for your appointments. At the Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture, we often recommend treatments in the weeks before your cycle, but most of our protocols begin when the cycle starts.
- Keep communication open. Make sure your acupuncturist knows of any changes or problems that come up during your cycle. This can help us better time your appointments and allow us the opportunity to help treat side effects and issues, all to help your cycle become a success.
- Continue treatment during pregnancy. Assuming your treatment is a success, (fingers crossed!) acupuncture can be safely used to support a healthy pregnancy for you and your developing baby. We strongly recommend treatment during the first trimester, as this is the time when most miscarriages occur. It can also help alleviate morning sickness, fatigue, stress, and other symptoms. Many women will continue treatment throughout their pregnancies!
- Let your acupuncturist know your treatment results: We are very passionate about our trade and feel the highs and lows right along with you. So, please let us know how your cycle turns out! And we always welcome little ones for a visit!
Sarah Prater, L.Ac. is the founder and acupuncturist at the Tennessee Center for Reproductive Acupuncture in Knoxville, TN. Sarah combines her diverse background to offer a safe, effective, and integrative approach to families experiencing fertility challenges. More information can be found on their website.
Happy Spring! The season of new life is upon us and as the flowers blossom, the grass turns green, and the birds start chirping, I find myself ready to embrace nature’s abundant energy and spirit of rejuvenation.
My intentions, however, are often thwarted by another thing that comes along with Spring – the beginning of calendar chaos!
From events with family and friends, to business travel, to juggling the extra-curricular activities of two very busy adolescent girls, my Spring Zen doesn’t stick around for long.
I try my best to savor little moments of tranquility when I’m able, and to carry the feelings of calm and refreshment that they bring me throughout my day.
Here are a few of my favorite, sneaky ways to squeeze in a few more moments of relaxation each and every day:
- Make the bed. Making the bed helps set a positive tone for the day and gives me a little morning quiet-time to reflect and relax before jumping into the hustle and bustle. This simple habit makes me feel like I’m starting the day off neat, tidy, and prepared (even if my to-do list is a mile long and there’s unfolded laundry piling up in the corner).
- Take a walk around the block after lunch. A 5-minute afternoon stroll can be as revitalizing as a cup of coffee (and it’s a lot better for you!). While you’re walking, try to quiet your mind by thinking about one thing that you were proud to accomplish so far in the day. Focusing on this positive energy you feel much more relaxed as you tackle the afternoon.
- Meditate! This one really shouldn’t surprise you as one of my favorite ways to grab a few moments of peace?. Sit in your favorite comfy chair, put on some relaxing music or your favorite Circle + Bloom program and close your eyes. Focus on your breathing and let the music or words wash over you. Embrace relaxation as your only task.
- Write in a journal. Journaling can feel a bit daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. 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 a timer for 5 minutes, and start writing! Be truthful, brutal, honest and open.
- Unplug. I mean it – no cell phones, no computers, no TV. Period. Numerous studies have shown the impact of screen time on the brain, and I’d argue that periods of NON-screen time are just as impactful. Instead of scanning your phone at night to “wind down,” adopt screen-free hobbies like reading, coloring, playing cards, or gardening. Even if you only have a few minutes, activities like these help us relax by tuning out all the noise and letting your brain focus gently on the what’s in front of you.
How do you sneak moments of Zen into your day? I’d love to hear from you.
With love + gratitude ~
Happy Friday, All!
In my mind, there’s no better way to end the week than with a story that brings hope, inspiration, and light into our hearts.
Sandra’s story does just that. Read on to hear the heartfelt story of Sandra’s journey with secondary infertility and how she tapped into the power of her mind + body connection, and finally became pregnant with her second child at the age of 41.
Here’s my story:
I was married when I was 23 but we knew we weren’t ready to start a family right away. A couple of years later my husband decided that he didn’t want any children. I tried to resign myself to not being a mom, but it was tough. I ended up having a cancer scare with a suspicious ovarian cyst when I was 27. It turned out to be nothing, but it brought up a lot of questions about my fertility and the kind of life I wanted. We divorced two years later after months of couples counseling. I knew that I wanted a family, he knew he didn’t. Besides that, I came to the conclusion that he wasn’t the right match for me for a variety of other reasons.
I met and fell in love with my current husband 5 years later. We started trying 6 years ago when I was 35. We were healthy, active and in our mid-thirties. We got our first positive pregnancy test on our very first month trying. We were elated. Sadly, it turned out to be an ectopic pregnancy. I needed surgery but they were able to save my ovary and tube. Doubt took hold after that experience. Getting subsequently worse prognoses with every fertility consultation, we questioned whether we would ever become parents. We believed every word of what we were told: low morphology, low AFC, high FSH, blocked tubes, etc. I was told that I’d start menopause within 2 or 3 years. That was in 2010 when I was 36. We opted for IVF after a year and a half of trying on our own and our son was born in 2011 from our first round.
Now for the next chapter: We’ve had 4 failed IVF’s, one chemical pregnancy and one miscarriage since the birth of our son. I wanted so desperately to become pregnant again and to give birth to another baby, but I had lost the optimism I felt when we had first started trying. I believed every word that those well-meaning doctors had said and although I hoped and prayed, I realize now that I didn’t really believe it could happen. I wasn’t confident. I didn’t trust my body. I was emotionally detached from my body. Don’t get me wrong. I did all the right things. I ate well. I took supplements. I started acupuncture. I exercised (although not as much as I could have.) But still, I felt something was missing. I felt it had something to do with the mind-body connection. After a miscarriage at 12 weeks I became quite severely depressed and desperate. I sought professional help but I still felt detached and that I was missing out on my life, my son’s life, my marriage and my friendships.
Before our last round of IVF (which I knew would be my last since we couldn’t afford any more) I happened to get an email about the Fertility Focus Telesummit hosted by Sarah Holland, which would be starting right around the start of my cycle. I signed up and listened religiously during the many drives to and back from the fertility clinic (2.5 hours each way). I heard so many inspiring stories. I FINALLY felt that I wasn’t alone. There was a whole community out there to offer support through my fertility journey. The one thing that stood out to me was that nearly everyone who shared their story had a poor prognosis or one or more miscarriages, yet for many, after a change in attitude or after dealing with a certain emotional issue, they finally had a successful pregnancy.
I did EFT to let go of my age-related fears, I reconnected with my womb, I visualized myself covered in a glowing waterfall of light and I slowly began to trust my body again. I asked myself lots of questions I hadn’t contemplated before. I looked at my relationships, my perspective on my fertility journey and on my life in general. I tried to change the way I was seeing my fertility experience, the way I was experiencing the journey. I realized that I could be an exception to my prognosis…
Unfortunately my IVF cycle did not result in pregnancy, but the egg quality and sperm quality improvement over our previous cycles were incredibly encouraging. I was sure it had something to do with my change in attitude which was also incidentally rubbing off on my husband. I was suddenly very optimistic that it could work naturally. I didn’t feel as impatient. I felt that my baby would arrive when it was ready.
I heard an interview with Joanne from the 2010 Telesummit and I decided to purchase the Circle + Bloom’s Natural Cycle for Fertility Program. I added these to the visualizations I was already using. I can’t say I was completely zen, but I was definitely more at peace than I had been in years.
I truly believe that the Circle + Bloom guided meditations, in conjunction with the others I was listening to, changed my physiology as well as my state of mind.
The very next cycle, a few weeks after my 41st birthday, I got a positive pregnancy test and I am 100% certain it’s due to the mind-body work that I had done. I’m now at 27 weeks and baby’s doing great. I still have to deal with the fear of loss but I use the visualizations to get me through.
It’s strange how the mind-body connection is often one of the last things we look at. We seem to only look at it when we’ve run out of other options. Yet, it’s the least expensive and least invasive thing we can do. Plus I feel it’s made me a better mom to my son and a better partner to my husband. Guided visualizations are so easy to do. I recommend them to anyone, wherever they may be on their fertility journey.
After 3 years and 40 cycles trying for our second child we got a positive pregnancy test less than two months after starting visualizations and mind-body work…my first cycle using the Circle + Bloom Natural Cycle Program.
Thank you Circle & Bloom!!
Thank YOU, Sandra – for opening your heart to us and sharing about your journey.
With love + gratitude ~
If you could improve your everyday experiences by taking one small step, would you take it?
What if that one step took only a few minutes of your day? Imagine what you could achieve…
Circle + Bloom has been helping women tap into the immense power of the mind + body connection for years – whether to provide support on the fertility journey, achieve greater happiness and health in the face of a cancer diagnosis, or simply sleep better and have more energy – we create, share, laugh, cry, dream and try to make a difference every day.
Now we’re using the same impactful mind + body techniques to help you become your best self. We’re thrilled to introduce four new Circle + Bloom programs designed to, empower, invigorate, balance, and bring more joy to your life.
Join us on an amazing voyage toward creating your best life with these powerful guided meditations:
Positive Thinking and Mindfulness Program
Living life to its fullest begins with a simple act of staying mindful in the present moment.
Reach Your Life Goals
A new life for a new you, established through new habits and using the power of the subconscious to make these changes a constant reality.
Body Detox Program
Use the mind-body connection to visualize a cleansing and detoxification of your entire body.
Stay at the top of your game with healthy processing of stress.
Ladies, we are so happy to share this wonderful story with you! Late last year, we heard from an amazing Circle+Bloom-er named Maureen. Maureen used our PCOS for Fertility Program, and after a year of infertility struggles, became pregnant with her son in just 2 months of using the program!
In December of last year I sent you a message thanking you because I had just taken a test and found out I was pregnant.
My husband and I had been dealing with infertility for about a year. I had made lifestyle changes but nothing seemed to be working. We were going to start Clomid in January. I heard about Circle + Bloom from PCOS Diva. I loved the idea of using my body’s intentions and my mind to help heal myself. I started your PCOS for Fertility Program in November. I finally felt like I had some control. It was the only change I made.
On December 30th I found out I was having a baby. He is 2 months old now.
I also used your Healthy Pregnancy series. I found it incredibly helpful. It helped me manage my anxiety that we wouldn’t hear a heartbeat at the next appointment or that I’d wake up and find out I’d miscarried. Despite having gestational diabetes my pregnancy and baby were healthy and he was carried to term. I know that your system helped.
My husband and I plan to start trying again in a year and your programs will once again play a large role.
We would be honored for you to use our story and our son’s photo. Being able to read the stories of others helped me so much and we have told a lot of people about your programs and they should be celebrated.
With love + gratitude ~
When my husband and I were trying (and failing) to get pregnant, we came up against difficulties and strains that tested and stretched our relationship beyond what we ever imagined.
Like other #TTC couples, we were thrown into a whirlwind of stress, disappointment, and heartache, during a time in life that’s meant to be filled with joy, excitement, and the feeling of utmost intimacy – that incredibly special togetherness that comes from creating a life.
There were so many things that we learned about each other, about ourselves, and about our relationship as we navigated the winding and bumpy road of our fertility journey. Now, after much heartache, and eventually two beautiful daughters, I can say that I have never loved my husband and soul mate more deeply.
In both my own experience and from the countless stories of courage, vulnerability, and love that I’ve heard from you, our amazing community, I’ve learned that despite its immense challenges, infertility has the power to bring couples together.
But to get there, both partners have to be willing to open up, stare infertility straight in the face, and let it all in.
Women are often afraid to share the depth of their feelings when coping with infertility and it can make the experience feel even more isolating. Don’t be scared to open up to your partner and take the time to discover your own truth – it’s tough to be honest if you don’t learn to dig deep and figure out what you’re truly feeling in the first place.
Take good care of yourself.
Infertility takes a heavy toll, so it is an important time to look inward and take the time to connect with yourself. If you don’t face the inner fear and sadness, you’ll have a harder time letting go of it and embracing happiness within and with your partner. Be gentle with yourself and make sure that you are attending to all of your needs – emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental. Give yourself permission to put your needs first and for your partner to do the same. Be open with one another about how that looks.
Build a support network beyond one another.
There are certain aspects of the fertility journey that your partner simply may not be able to understand or connect with, and it’s a two way street. Allow yourself and your partner the space to strengthen outside relationships. Tap into a full range of loving and compassionate supporters – whether friends, family, counselors, or support groups – and accept that you both have limitations (and that’s okay).
Look for opportunity.
This might be the toughest part, but it’s also where there’s the most to gain. When we talk about the power of connection and how infertility can create deeper connection, the story of one of our community members, Renae, stands out in my mind – She shared about how our programs were recommended to her husband, and written on a crumbled piece of paper with 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. That’s the power of connection.
What tools have helped you to keep your relationship strong during your fertility journey? We hope you share your story with us.
With love + gratitude ~
Guest Blog by Phil Druce, Founder of Ovulation Calendar.
In order to truly understand ovulation, you must first have a basic understanding of the menstrual cycle.
Where ovulation falls in the menstrual cycle
There is no mistaking when you get your menstrual period. So, identifying the start of your cycle is easy. It is the first day of your menstrual period. Ovulation usually occurs 12 to 16 days before your next period.
Your actual fertile window will depend on a few things, including the length of your cycle. Your fertile window is only six days per cycle. The five days before ovulation and the day of ovulation.
The first part of your cycle, from menstruation to ovulation, is called the follicular phase. The phase after ovulation until the day before your next period is called the luteal phase. The follicular phase length can vary from cycle to cycle, but the luteal phase length is usually constant. Because normal cycles can vary from 21 to 35 days, it can be hard to know when you are going to ovulate based on cycle length alone. Other things, like stress, can impact your cycle too. So it’s good to know the signs of ovulation to be sure you can identify your fertile window.
The many symptoms of ovulation
There are many potential symptoms of ovulation, but not every woman experiences them all. Still, there are common symptoms that almost any woman can use to identify their fertile window.
Cervical Mucus – As your body’s hormone levels increase in preparation for ovulation, you will notice some changes in your cervical mucus. When you are not fertile, it will be dry or absent. When you are just starting to enter your fertile window, it will become sticky. When ovulation is imminent, your cervical mucus will be a creamy texture. And when you are finally at your most fertile, cervical mucus will resemble egg whites in consistency and texture.
SHOW – Cervical positioning also plays a role in your fertility. If you can feel your cervix as Soft, High, Open and Wet (SHOW), you are at your most fertile. When you are not in your fertile period, your cervix will be feel, low, closed and dry.
Other signs – As your body is preparing to ovulate, many changes may occur. You may experience spotting, heightened senses, ovulation pain, increased sexual desire or more. Click here to learn about all of the symptoms.
Other ways to detect ovulation
If you are having trouble checking for cervical changes and other symptoms, or if you want another way to identify ovulation, consider the follow methods:
Charting Basal Body Temperature (BBT) – Your BBT is your body’s lowest temperature, usually attained during sleep. Take your temperature with an accurate thermometer as soon as you wake up every day (before even sitting up). Due to hormones, your BBT changes during your cycle. Before ovulation when estrogen levels are high, your BBT remains low. After ovulation when progesterone levels are high, your BBT rises by about 0.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Your temperature will remain elevated until your cycle ends.
Ovulation Prediction Kit (OPK) – These over-the-counter kits test your urine for an increase of luteinizing hormone (LH). When you see a positive result, your body is preparing to ovulate. These tests are very accurate, but it is also the most expensive way to track ovulation.
Saliva Ferning – This less-common way of predicting ovulation involves saliva and a microscope. Under a microscope, you will notice a ferning, or snowflake, pattern when you are preparing to ovulate.
Phil Druce launched OvulationCalendar.com after a personal family battle to get pregnant, Ovulation Calendar aims to provide the necessary tools and educational resources for those couples hoping to achieve a safe and healthy pregnancy.
I love the turn of the year because it feels like a chance to wipe the slate clean and dream big with fresh energy and optimism. It’s a time to examine where we’ve been over the past 12 months, and to get revved up about our hopes and goals for the future.
As I reflect on my own journey over the past year, I feel proud of everything that we have accomplished at C+B as a community and of the efforts that I’ve made to personally improve myself throughout the year.
I’m always looking for ways to make life better – whether in self help books, life hack articles, etc. – but in order to really create positive change, there comes a point where you have to tune out the noise, start doing, and see what works for you.
So here’s what I’ve learned in the doing – 3 key habits rise to the top for my growth and happiness. They’ve truly made a world of difference in my life, and I hope that they have the same profound impact on yours:
- Simplify, simplify, simplify.
Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, changed my life. In her book, Kondo shares her insights for evaluating the usefulness of possessions, but I’d argue that her system also works for streamlining habits and relationships:
“The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: ‘Does this spark joy?’ If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it. This is not only the simplest but also the most accurate yardstick by which to judge.”
I not only applied Kondo’s advice to my garage and my closet, I went on a purging spree of epic proportions, determined to focus only on what brings me happiness in life and to leave the rest behind. And the results have been blowing my mind, let me tell you! In simplifying each part of my life, I’ve found contentment and happiness that I didn’t know was possible.
- Do a few random acts of kindness to keep you things in perspective.
Kindness is so powerful because it redirects our thoughts and energy from ourselves to others. Flex your empathy muscle and make someone’s day just for the hell of it. Not only will it make you feel really good, it also helps to give you perspective and to remind us that what goes around comes around – from giving up your seat on a busy train to an elderly person, to inviting a new work colleague to lunch or paying the toll for the person behind you – every act of kindness, no matter how small, makes an impact.
Need some kindness inspiration? We love this list from Buzzfeed.
- Become better 1% per day. Changing your life involves making mini decisions constantly.
Last year I wrote a blog post called 10 Steps to Improving Myself By 1% Every Day, and I can’t express enough how this approach has positively impacted me. Here’s how the 1% rule can change your life: Overall objective: improve x,y,z habit or behavior by 1% each 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.
Set goals that you want to reach in the next 3 months and then start making the magic happen, bit by bit! Don’t let fear paralyze you as you move outside of your comfort zone to reach your goals – define them clearly and celebrate your micro-victories. Each step of the way is leading you toward a happier version of yourself. Take pride in your accomplishments, and keep chugging along until you get exactly what you want.
What other habits or tips have helped you find greater happiness?
With love + gratitude ~
Happy New Year, all! How was your holiday season? What are you most excited about for 2016?
I’ve been on vacation with my family in NYC this past week and I’ve had some great time to reflect on the wonderful things that we’ve accomplished in 2015 – from the incredible growth of our secret Facebook Group, The C + B Infertility Support Circle, to the successful launch of our Healing from Cancer Program – there’s much to feel grateful for as the year comes to an end.
But, in reflecting on 2015, the thing that brings the most joy to my heart is knowing how much amazing support, energy, and light has come from YOU, our incredible community of Circle + Bloomers.
There is nothing more rewarding and encouraging than hearing how our programs have changed your lives. You’ve changed ours, too! Your stories of strength, perseverance, and love are what get us out of bed each and every day. You inspire us to continue working to make making Circle + Bloom the best it can be.
We thank you for opening your hearts to us, and we hope that hearing others’ stories of encouragement and success will bring you the same immense hope and happiness that it brings us.
Here are a few of the amazing Circle + Bloom success stories from 2015:
“Your recordings exceeded ALL of my expectations. Every night before bed my husband and I would lay and listen to the recordings. It connected us, it saved me from loosing my mind. 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 Circle + Bloom tells us that we are performing a selfless task…so are you! You don’t know me but you helped me strive, fail and heal. For the rest of my life I will think of a difficult journey that you helped me overcome!” ~ Renae, Natural Cycle for Fertility Program
“It is difficult to put into words just how much the Circle + Bloom Healing From Cancer program helped me, Joanne. I was diagnosed with cancer seven years ago, for the second time. I had two young children, one child in middle school, and I was paralyzed with anxiety. Circle + Bloom’s meditation helped me immensely during this time. I looked forward to the end of the day when I could lie down and drift away to a safe, calm place. I found the guided meditation to be incredibly empowering and I believe it really helped me to beat my cancer. I also think that the background music and guided meditation used are superior to other meditation programs I have tried. Nothing was jarring, everything seemed to flow and create a great sense of peace and well-being.”~ Kristen, Healing from Cancer Program
“Thank you so much!!! Your IVF relaxation and meditation CD’s worked (again)! The first time we got pregnant using them was in 2013 (that was our 3rd IVF attempt), and now we just got pregnant a second time using them. Looking forward to listen to your pregnancy program! :)”~Maria, IVF & IUI Program
“I very rarely give this sort of feedback but I just have to thank you for this wonderful program and informative emails. I’m still on my TTC journey and currently trying ovulation induction injections to help with my PCOS. I was at first hesitant to spend the $60 on the PCOS audio program, but then I realized how little that was in comparison to the hundreds and thousands of dollars already spent on doctors appointments, medical bills and medication costs! Regardless of the outcome (although I’m feeling more positive than ever!) this program has helped so much with my stress levels and given me such a clear understanding of what’s happening in my body every step of the way. I can’t wait to email you (soon!) to give you my great news – I’m finally confident that one way, one day it will happen and I can visualize it without worrying. Thanks again!”~ Katrina, PCOS for Fertility Program
“I am writing to share with you my success story. I purchased the fertility meditation after going through a miscarriage and used it for only one cycle. It turns out I got my BFP today! I loved the program and it helped me relax and let go of my anxieties so well. Now, I need to move on to the healthy pregnancy meditations to help keep me calm and positive for this pregnancy to hold on.”~ Melissa, Natural Cycle for Fertility Program
We look forward to hearing more of your good news in 2016! Cheers to a year of health and happiness!
With love + gratitude ~
Guest Blog by By Staci Swiderski, Co-Founder of Family Source Consultants.
I have helped to screen countless surrogates over the years and have even used a surrogate to complete my own family. If you’re considering becoming or using a surrogate, there are some important facts to consider before you make the decision:
- Understand the difference between a traditional and gestational surrogate. One of the most common misconceptions that I often hear about being a surrogate is that she will be genetically-related to the child. Traditional surrogates utilize their own genetics (i.e. their own eggs), while gestational surrogacy – which is the only type of surrogacy we provide at Family Source Consultants – sees the embryo created with either the intended mother’s genetics or an egg donor; or in some circumstances, a donated embryo could be utilized.
- Understand the surrogacy laws where the surrogate resides. The current legal landscape for surrogacy across the USA is inconsistent, with surrogacy laws differing between states. It’s important that the surrogate delivers in a state where the intended parents’ and surrogate’s legal rights are protected. Some of the best states for this legal protection include Illinois, Florida, California, Nevada, Arkansas and Connecticut. Some of the less surrogacy-friendly states include New York, Michigan, Washington, Nebraska and New Jersey. I can’t stress enough the importance of working with an attorney who specializes in reproductive law (a good surrogacy agency will be able to recommend attorneys to clients) and having a legal direct agreement in place prior to the surrogate beginning inject-able medications.
- Surrogates need to have at least one child of their own to be accepted. This is one of our requirements of surrogates at Family Source Consultants. When I first told my friends and family I was planning to complete my family by having a child through surrogacy, a few of them were fearful that the surrogate might want to keep the child. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is that surrogates already have their own children. They sign up to the process to help make baby dreams come true for other people. All surrogates should be comfortable with the fact that if any complications arise, they are content with their family should they not be able to have additional children of their own in the future.
- Surrogates need to be comfortable with the medication protocol. For example, all of the surrogate’s previous pregnancy and delivery records will need to be obtained prior to the matching process and the surrogate may need to have inject-able medications at the beginning of the pregnancy. Most fertility medication will be discontinued around the tenth week or so of pregnancy.
- Understand that the surrogacy journey is a group effort. The decision to become a surrogate affects not only the surrogate, but the surrogate’s family too, and they should be part of and support the journey. Surrogates can expect the intended parents to often be actively involved in the process – they’re usually typically excited to be included in the pregnancy and delivery. I have an abundance of love and appreciate for my surrogate family. I feel extremely blessed that they gave me the most special gift in the world – my son. It’s also useful to know that the matching process between surrogates and intended parents is a mutual decision. Surrogates share their expectations of their intended parents and vice versa before both parties are matched.
Staci Swiderski is Co-Founder of Family Source Consultants, one of North America’s leading surrogacy agencies based in Illinois and Florida. She has extensively researched Gestational Surrogacy for over 13 years and is a member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.Staci and her husband completed their family through surrogacy and she has also been an egg donor twice.
Believe. Visualize. Heal. – Whether conquering infertility, recovering from painful loss, or facing incredibly taxing treatments from a cancer diagnosis – the path that enables us to heal and transform starts with these three steps.
We believe deeply that nurturing the mind + body connection through each of these actions is the key to unlocking our body’s immense potential for physical, emotional, and spiritual self-healing.
What happens when we are able to harness this innate healing power is that we undergo a transformation – we emerge with wings and the will to take flight. We chose the Hummingbird as the symbol for our Healing from Cancer program because it so beautifully illustrates this resilience and strength:
“The Hummingbird symbolizes great courage, determination, flexibility, and adaptability. It is only a few ounces in weight, yet has the courage of a lion. Hummingbird is a totem of fearlessness, and represents lightness of being.” 1
So how do all of these pieces work in harmony to promote real healing? The answer is Guided Imagery. Dr. Bernie Siegel describes guided visualization and meditation as “powerful tools to help you be aware of your true needs and then make them happen. Seeing what you want in your mind’s eye helps convince your unconscious that it’s possible, and that helps create an atmosphere of healing and hope.”
How Exactly Does Guided Imagery Work?
- The Placebo Effect – As you probably know, the placebo effect is what happens when some people who are given a pill with an inactive ingredient get better because they think they are taking a real medication. The mind acts as a powerful commander with the rest of our body and positive belief plays a part in the positive outcome. Even though our lungs, heart, immune system or blood flow doesn’t actually speak in words, there is a very intricate and impactful way in which the body communicates within. The mind, including our emotions and belief system, plays an enormous role in this.
- When you visualize, you believe, and when you believe, you heal. Connected and intertwined with the placebo effect, belief in what your body is capable of can instill real change from within. The mind’s eye, which is not capable of discerning when you are visualizing something versus actually experiencing something, acts as the conduit and base level of response and communication within the body. Very simply, if you see a juicy piece of fruit that you are about to bit into, you will begin to salivate. If you simply imagine that same piece of fruit, you will also begin to salivate. It’s the same theory. Visualization versus actually experiencing something is the same thing. You can communicate and tell your body to do certain things by visualizing.
- It certainly can’t hurt, and it feels good to be doing everything you can to help in times of extraordinary difficulty. Helping yourself by taking action takes you out of the victim mentality and puts into you a state of empowerment. Endorphins, or happy chemicals, will flood the system as you take action and send “live” messages to your body that help boost your immune system. This fact alone is a great reason to practice meditation and visualization.
How has guided imagery helped you to heal and what other tools have you found useful along your healing journey?
With love + gratitude ~
Guest Blog by Dr. Jill Hechtman, an OB/GYN and the Medical Director of Tampa Obstetrics, Florida’s leading medical center for women, Tampa Florida.
If you or a friend has ever had a miscarriage, you know how heartbreaking it can be. But if you’re like many women, you’re probably not aware that what you don’t know about miscarriages can be harmful to your health and healing process.
Unfortunately, despite our share-everything culture, miscarriages are still a taboo subject, even among family and friends. This shroud of silence and secrecy often leaves women isolated and in the dark about one of the most devastating experiences in their lives.
What’s worse, many women blame themselves for their miscarriage. A recent survey in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology found that among those affected by a miscarriage:
- 47% said they felt guilty
- 41% said they felt like they did something wrong
- 28% reported feeling ashamed
- 38% said they felt like they could have prevented it somehow
Although each person has a unique way of coping, knowing the truth about miscarriages in general – and yours in particular – could help with your emotional healing. It’s time to bust some myths and bring the facts about miscarriages out into the open.
Myth: Miscarriages are rare (the survey cited found that 55% of both men and women believed that miscarriage happened in only 5% or fewer of all pregnancies).
Fact: Miscarriages happen in up to 25% of all known pregnancies.
Between 750,000 and 1 million U.S. women have a miscarriage each year. The risk increases with age, for example: between the ages of 20-30 the risk is 9-17%, at age 35 the risk is 20%, age 40 is 40% and at age 45 the risk is as high as 80%.
Myth: Miscarriage is caused by a stressful event or lifting a heavy object.
Fact: The great majority of miscarriages happen because of medical or genetic reasons, and not because of stress or heavy lifting.
About 60 percent of miscarriages occur because of a missing or extra chromosome in the fetus that prevents a baby from developing normally. These abnormalities are usually not inherited and typically happen by chance. They are not caused by anything that either of the parents did or did not do before or during the pregnancy.
Myth: My doctor can’t tell me what caused my miscarriage.
Fact: New tests are better (and faster) at identifying chromosomal abnormalities in fetal tissue, if a chromosomal abnormality was the cause.
Most of the respondents in the Obstetrics & Gynecology survey were not told what might have caused the miscarriage. Some were told, “It just happens,” or “we don’t know.”
But today it’s easy to find out if your miscarriage was caused by a chromosomal abnormality on losses as early as 6 weeks. The Anora™ miscarriage test from Natera provides a collection kit for your doctor and results are received in about a week.
Knowing the reason for your miscarriage may help you begin to heal and possibly avoid other costly and time-consuming medical tests. Testing can also help you to plan your next steps. If you have had more than one miscarriage, and a chromosome abnormality was found, special In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatments with Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) may be an option.
Myth: It’s best to just forget about my miscarriage and not worry about why it happened.
Fact: Knowledge can bring peace of mind and help you prepare for the future.
The vast majority of survey participants (88%) said they’d want to know the cause of their miscarriage. The study also found that this knowledge can help women let go of the notion that they had somehow caused the loss. Another survey found that 95% of patients who had chromosome analysis for a miscarriage were glad they had the test done.
Even if your miscarriage was due to a chromosome abnormality, your chance of having a chromosome problem in another pregnancy is low. In fact, between 50% and 80% of women with recurring miscarriages eventually have a successful pregnancy.
Dr. Jill Hechtman is the Medical Director of Tampa Obstetrics and the Chairman of Obstetrics and Gynecology at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital in Tampa. She is the past Chairman of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Brandon Regional Hospital and served on the hospital’s Board of Trustees for 2 years. She is a frequent face in local media as “Dr. Jill” and currently is the obstetrics and gynecology expert for “Daytime,” a nationally syndicated talk show. Jill was also recently appointed as a member of the Florida House of Representatives Medicaid Low Income Pool Council. She is also featured in various videos about pregnancy.
Can you believe how quickly the holiday crept up? I probably say that every year, but it’s always the same – autumn flies by in the blink of an eye and before you know it you’re sitting down to carve the turkey and planning how to navigate the many events and festivities of the season.
There’s excitement around this special time of year – warm reminders to take some quiet moments and reflect on what we are truly grateful for, reconnecting with family and friends that we don’t often see, and dreaming about the exciting possibilities that next year may bring.
In the midst of these wonderful things, this time of year that can be really hard and one when many of us could use some extra support – to remind us to be gentle with ourselves if we’re missing those we’ve lost, to help us stay positive after a tough round of chemo, or to help us keep our sh*t together during the two week wait.
But we love you and we want to help make your holiday season the best it can possibly be! So, we’re extending an early gift to you… A special holiday discount of not 10%, not 20% – but an amazing 25% that we hope helps you make the decision to download and get started with on your new journey of tapping into the amazing power of your mind + body connection. Simply enter coupon code Holidays25 at checkout (expires December 15th).
Start your journey now and give yourself the gift of peace of mind.
With love + gratitude ~
PS – Feel free to check out more of our favorite holiday resources on the Circle + Bloom blog:
- The Tiny Guide to Holiday Sanity
- Seven Ideas to Make This Holiday Awesome
- How To Eat During The Holidays To Improve Your Fertility
Guest Blog by Robyn Srigley, www.thehormonediva.com
A thorough knowledge of your menstrual cycle is important if you want to conceive naturally. Using a natural method like FAM or Fertility Awareness Method to track your cycles can help you pin point problems in your cycle as well as when you are fertile.
Hormones + Fertility
Estrogen is the dominant hormone in the first half of your menstrual cycle, and is linked with FSH or Follicle Stimulating Hormone. Both of these hormones help your body to mature a follicle to release an egg when you ovulate. Estrogen also starts to build up the lining and blood flow of your uterus to potentially implant a fertilized egg.
Progesterone is the dominant hormone in the second half of your menstrual cycle, and is linked with LH or Luteinizing Hormone. A surge of LH is what indicates that you have ovulated, and are primed for baby-making. The egg then needs progesterone to be high in order to finish making your uterus comfy for a fertilized egg, and to sustain pregnancy if it should happen. This is often where women have problems, not having a good LH surge coupled with low progesterone. This can lead to miscarriage, as well as other hormonal problems like PMS, irregular cycles and menstrual pain.
One of the main ideas that the Fertility Awareness Method of conception promotes is that ovulation is one of three main fertility signals, and can indicate the overall health of your cycle. If you begin to chart your cycles using FAM and by taking your Basal Body Temperature (BBT), you will notice ovulation happen when your temperature spikes about a half a degree and stays high.
- No shift = Imbalanced Hormones
- Post-ovulatory (Luteal) Phase less than 12 days = Imbalanced LH + Progesterone
Natural Fertility + Hormone Helpers
One of the things I really love about hormone awareness and FAM or similar methods is that you can easily detect health problems. As an example, if you have been very stressed, you may notice that ovulation occurs later, not at all or your temperatures are constantly jumping around. Once you have the basics of this figured out, there are many natural remedies to help. The nutrients listed below can be taken as supplements, or you can fill your diet with foods full of these nutrients. Herbs can be taken as capsules or tincture.
- Vitex – To balance LH and progesterone from the pituitary gland in your brain
- Black Cohosh – Helpful for balancing estrogen and healthy ovulation
- Dong Quai – Overall a great reproductive tonic
- Ginseng – To support your adrenal glands during stress (a major cause of infertility) and increase libido
- Vitamin C – To balance progesterone and reduce inflammation
- CoQ10 – To increase the health of your eggs, and to provide anti-oxidant action
- Inositol – A member of the B vitamin family, helpful for women with PCOS who are trying to conceive
- Vitamin B5 + B6 – Both will balance mood + stress, and B6 promotes healthy progesterone levels
- Folate – To prevent birth defects which develop very early in pregnancy, and reduce risk of miscarriage
Robyn Srigley is The Hormone Diva, a women’s holistic health coach. Robyn’s own journey with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) jumpstarted her passion for helping women replace their anxieties with joy to open possibility in their lives and break free of hormonal imbalance. Robyn is the creator of Cramp Tea and Hot Flash Tea, is a regular contributor to Be Prepared Period.com and is featured on MindBodyGreen. www.thehormonediva.com
It’s been an exciting and emotional month at Circle + Bloom, with the release of our new Healing from Cancer Program.
We’ve received a wonderful response from our online community, and the entire Circle + Bloom team feels incredibly honored and humbled by the amazing outpouring of support we’ve experienced.
I wanted to share with you an early testimonial about the program.
One of my dearest friends, Colleen, was diagnosed with rectal cancer this year. She used our Healing from Cancer Program during the course of her treatment, and here’s what she had to say:
When dealing with a diagnosis of cancer, it can sometimes feel as if you have lost all control over everything – your life and even over your own body. That overwhelming feeling completely changed for me when I began listening to the Circle + Bloom Cancer program. The visualizations helped me to both relax and focus on the positive aspects of the treatments. For example, instead of viewing chemotherapy as a medicine that would make me sick or lose my hair, I began to see it as a “positive force” that was going to help my body beat cancer and heal. I suddenly felt empowered – that I could help myself during this process. What an amazing feeling that was to realize that my attitude and my actions made a difference in the treatment of my cancer. Circle + Bloom gave me back that power. As a result, I was able to get through my treatments with minimal side effects.
Another of the amazing benefits I found from listening to the program, was the effect it had on me even in the moments when I wasn’t listening. There were many times, while I was receiving treatments, or not feeling my best, when I would find myself bringing to mind certain visualizations or instructions from the program. I was able to relax and focus on these images and help bring myself to a better, calmer place.
Your programs are what kept me grounded throughout my treatment and I am so thankful to have them as an integral part of my cancer treatment.
Thank you Circle + Bloom!
We hope that you will continue to support us in this new space and share the news about Healing from Cancer program with anyone in your life who may be battling this disease.
Want to learn more? Experience the power of this incredible program with our complimentary Cancer Relaxation Download.
With love + gratitude ~
With the weather getting a bit more brisk, the leaves turning beautiful colors, and pumpkin spice “everything,” no matter where we turn, there can be no question that it’s Fall.
While this time of year can be positively magical, it can also be a time of stress for those of us on the fertility journey.
In a matter of weeks we will find ourselves reconnecting with friends and family, and beginning end of the year celebrations with co-workers and others that are important in our lives. For many of us, as much as we love this time of year, it can also present itself as a virtual minefield of:
- Annoying and painful (though well meaning) questions,
- Cringe-worthy comments
- Endless reminders of the families we long for, but don’t quite have…yet
- Moments when we get stuck in fear and “what –ifs, and
- Myriad other situations that leave us wishing it was January 2nd already!
So, what can we do?
Having lived this journey myself and helping women all over the world through this time of year, it is clear that reclaiming your confidence and joy this time of year comes down to three foundational elements:
1) Making the decision to feel more confidence and joy this season.
Notice here my emphasis on the word decision. This is not merely a preference. It’s you taking a stand for you. Chances are that you are working hard (perhaps harder than you ever have) toward your dream of having the family you desire. That is worthy of acknowledgment and respect. Show yourself both, by giving yourself permission and deciding to live this holiday season differently. This time of year we tend to give so much of ourselves to others. It’s time for you to be on the receiving end!
2) Easy (and fun) tools for making it happen.
This is where it’s easy to get stuck in the “how.” Sometimes we find ourselves at a complete loss for where to begin with feeling more confident and joyful as we move through this time of year and the journey. Going back to books or lectures that may have inspired us in the past can be very helpful. If you want some fresh tools and inspiration, check out my Love Your Journey: Holiday Rescue Group Coaching Intensive, which is specifically designed to give you great tools and strategies for navigating this time of year with more confidence and joy! Focus on finding tools that truly resonate with you.
3) Unwavering support and accountability along the way.
This is where the rubber hits the road. It’s one thing to make a decision and get your hands on great tools, but the missing piece is far too often the follow through. Now, more than ever is when you need the right support. Make a point to ask for what you need! If your friends and family are increasingly busy with their own lives, this can be a great time to broaden your support network. My Love Your Journey: Holiday Rescue Group Coaching Intensive is designed to be there for you. Inspirational, powerful, and fun, Holiday Rescue can be your “soft place to fall.” No matter how you choose to get the support you need to live this holiday season in a whole new way, make sure you create a safe place for you to just “be.”
As you move through this time of year, make a concerted effort to be certain that you don’t get lost in the mix. It could make all the difference in the world, and rejuvenate your holiday spirit!
Click here to learn more about Love Your Journey: Holiday Rescue Group Coaching Intensive.
Rosanne Austin helps professional women who are struggling with fertility move beyond fear and frustration into boundless confidence, so they can love their lives, no matter what. Having spent years struggling with her own fertility while she was a successful trial lawyer, Rosanne knows exactly how difficult this experience can be. During that time, Rosanne discovered powerful strategies that transformed her life and the course of her journey forever. Using those tools and her specialized training as a coach, Rosanne has powerfully mentored women all over the world in her bold, authentic, and creative style. Rosanne’s clients find confidence at a time when they need it most. Rosanne is masterful at creating a safe space for meaningful discussion that can evoke transformation. Rosanne is a proud member of the International Coach Federation and the California State Bar. To learn more about Rosanne and her work, visit www.frommaybetobaby.com
Are you or a loved one coping with a cancer diagnosis?
With the American Cancer Society predicting over 1.6 million new cancer cases in 2015*, it’s a sobering fact that most of our lives will be touched by the disease.
The inspiration for creating these programs designed specifically for cancer comes from a very near and dear place for me. Both of my parents have died of the disease – my father with a brain tumor, and my mother of stomach cancer – when I was 12 and 25 respectively.
They both died young – too young – and I firmly believe that had they integrated a more wholesome approach to their physical and emotional health, things could have been different.
My personal experience with cancer propelled me to act and to help those battling the disease in the best way I knew how.
With a myriad of compassionate experts at my side, I created our Healing from Cancer Program – to not only help your body find the balance it needs for self-healing but also to unlock your potential to live life fearlessly each and every day.
Our Healing from Cancer Program is appropriate for anyone with cancer, and at any stage. The program uses relaxing guided imagery for each phase of cancer treatment and recovery – including sessions for chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, immunotherapy, and angiogenesis – as well as supportive programs so people simply have confidence and optimism during all aspects of their treatment.
What Can You Expect?
- Miracles may happen my friend! Allowing yourself the belief that this system can work, and along with your treatment cycles, that complete healing can occur
- Greater feelings of control over your body, your cancer, and various treatment options
- Improvement in overall feelings of optimism coupled with stress reduction
- Improved self-care that comes about from feelings of optimism and greater levels of control
- Higher levels of feeling mindful and grateful for each minute, each hour, each day, each week and each year
- Shedding feelings of regret, anger and helplessness
Praise for our Healing from Cancer Program:
“When dealing with a diagnosis of cancer, it can sometimes feel as if you have lost all control over everything – your life and even over your own body. That overwhelming feeling completely changed for me when I began listening to the Circle + Bloom Cancer program. The visualizations helped me to both relax and focus on the positive aspects of the treatments. For example, instead of viewing chemotherapy as a medicine that would make me sick or lose my hair, I began to see it as a “positive force” that was going to help my body beat cancer and to heal. I suddenly felt empowered – that I could help myself during this process. What an amazing feeling that was to realize that my attitude and my actions made a difference in the treatment of my cancer. Circle + Bloom gave me back that power. As a result, I was able to get through my treatments with minimal side effects. ” ~ Colleen
We’re honored to support to the cancer community in a very special way and we so appreciate your love and encouragement as we embark on this new journey of growth, happiness, and healing.
Experience this amazing program for yourself. Click here for our Free Cancer Visualization Download.
With love + gratitude ~
PS – The CD version of this program will be available shortly, so stay tuned to our social media channels for updates!
New England area Circle + Bloom-ers: don’t miss your chance to be a part of this amazing event. Join Resolve New England and show how strong the IF community is and that infertility is a disease that needs and deserves attention.
Gain inspiration and strength from “Why I Walk” by Kerri Kivolowitz –
Infertility (IF) is a diagnosis that carries with it loss, isolation, guilt, doubt, depression, and surprisingly, hope; the ever-twinkling hope that this time it will be different.
Six years ago, my husband and I decided we were ready to start a family. Little did we know the journey it would become: the heartbreak and tears, the painful and invasive tests and procedures, the doctors and medical bills, and finally our own two little miracles.
I first came to RESOLVE through their local support groups and online resources, and now I volunteer with RESOLVE New England as a support group leader. It is painful to relive my own IF memories, as I support others who are still fighting in the trenches. However, it is also a joy and a gift to be able to show another human being that he/she is not alone; that actually their feelings and fears are shared and understood; and that someone is here to listen to you, without judgment, no matter how dark a place you are in.
So, why do I walk?
I walk to remember the journey that brought me my amazing family. I walk because I am proud to be an IF survivor, and, most importantly, I walk for those who are still waiting and hoping.”
Visit the event homepage for more information! Early registration is now closed, but walk-ins are welcome!
How excited are you for fall?! Cool crisp nights, the beauty of the changing leaves, and pumpkin EVERYTHING! Can you tell what my favorite season is? 🙂
But we are excited about more than just the change in weather here at Circle + Bloom, and we are honored to share some truly special news with you –
Next month we will launch a groundbreaking new program for Cancer Treatment and Recovery.
This program will serve a community that is as near and dear to our hearts as our amazing infertility and women’s health warriors, and we are so honored to grow the Circle + Bloom family in this incredibly meaningful way.
We are making this as open as possible for anyone with cancer, and at any stage. There will be nine pre / during / post programs for just chemotherapy, six programs dedicated towards radiation, and sessions on surgery, immunotherapy, and angiogenesis – as well as supportive programs so people simply have confidence and optimism during all aspects of treatment and recovery.
To celebrate this new chapter for Circle + Bloom and to spread the excitement and love as wide as we can, we’re offering 20% off all of our programs through October 15! Simply enter coupon code Bloom20 at checkout.
Stay tuned in the coming month as we embark on this new journey. We so look forward to sharing this powerful and inspirational program with you.
With love + gratitude ~
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.
Dr. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org!)
3 Tips/Strategies for Living Your Fertility Journey With Confidence
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
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.
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 ~
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 (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
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 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.
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…
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 ~
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 –
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
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.
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.
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.
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 ~
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.
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!
Having PCOS and getting pregnant is possible ladies!!
With love and gratitude,
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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,
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.
I 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.
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.
Overall 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
“I’m not for everyone. And neither are you.”?—?David Leddick
With love and gratitude,
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.
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.
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.
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,
P.s. Circle + Bloom partnered with Beautycounter. You can too. Learn more here.
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.
We 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.
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.
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 –
- 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).
- 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.
- 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 –
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.
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:
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,
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.
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.
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,
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!
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
If 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.”
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!
You can also set up a personalized Alltop account. There’s a super helpful tutorial on their website to walk you through it:
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.
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!
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!
With 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.
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
Helen 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!!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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)
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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,
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!
Here are some of my favorite posts from the last year. Pull up a blanket and a cup of tea!
- 8 Powerful Ways I Stay Calm Through Any Situation
From the stress-monger herself! I share 8 tips for keeping stress at bay.
- Trying to Conceive After Age 40
At Circle + Bloom, we hear from many women over 40 that are trying to conceive. So is it possible for women over 40 to conceive naturally? Heck yeah!
- 4 Ways to Restore Your Energy
Was one of your New Year’s resolutions to amp up your energy and achieve better overall wellness? Check this post out for few ideas to jumpstart your routine!
- 5 Stages to Starting the Month off with a Positive Attitude after a BFN (Big Fat Negative)
This post has some great words of wisdom from our friend Melody Mccabe over at Essential Mums. Melody frames the experience of going through a BFN with the Kübler-Ross Model of 5 stages of grief, and I provide tips for maintaining positivity and embracing new possibilities during this difficult time.
- Managing the Costs of Infertility
Our friend Davina Fankhauser offers guidance for managing finances during along the fertility journey.
- Dealing With The Unexpected
In the infamous words of Forrest Gump’s Mama, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Tell me about it, Forrest. Here’s how to deal.
I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I did! What were your favorite Circle + Bloom blogs this year?
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!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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,
*PsychCentral, Margarita Tartakovsky M.S.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
When 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.
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.
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 email@example.com and ask to be added.