Simply page down for our chronological blog postings, or click on the categories to read what we have to say:
Welcome to the Circle+Bloom Blog
Leafy greens and dark green vegetables are an excellent source of folate (or folic acid), an essential B vitamin that supports healthy pregnancy in a number of ways. During the beginning stages of pregnancy, folate supports fetal brain development by preventing neural tube defects that can cause spina bifida and anencephaly. Folate also contributes to optimizing sperm production, promotes routine ova production, and aids in the creation of healthy red blood cells.
The Centers for Disease Control suggests that women who are trying to conceive consume at least 400mg of the B vitamin daily. Luckily, there are numerous ways to enjoy greens and incorporate other folate-rich foods such as lentils, asparagus, beets, beans, and broccoli into your diet.
Here are six tasty ideas:
- Tear pieces of kale, sprinkle them with olive oil and kosher salt, and roast on high for crunchy kale crisps.
- Throw a handful of chopped romaine lettuce into the blender with the ingredients for your favorite fruit smoothie.
- Sauté cooked lentils with olive oil, shallots and lemon for a filling side dish (or mix in some roasted veggies for a healthy lunch!)
- Stir-fry baby bok choy with garlic, soy sauce, ginger, and a drizzle of sesame oil (For a spicy kick, sprinkle in red pepper flakes)
- Toss baby spinach and sautéed mushrooms with hot whole wheat pasta or brown rice and pesto for a quick and easy dinner.
- Coat asparagus spears with olive oil, salt and pepper, and grill over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Drizzle the cooked asparagus with balsamic vinegar.
For more tips on healthy eating, check out our two part series Best Diets for Fertility – The Top 13 “Super” Foods – Part 1 and Best Diets for Fertility – The Top 13 “Super” Foods – Part 2.
Guest Blog by Rosanne Austin, founder of Maybe to Baby.
It’s no mystery that fertility treatment is often a budget crushing expense. (Goodbye vacations, adieu disposable income!) As if that wasn’t bad enough, it’s an expense that comes at a time when you are likely feeling broken, defeated, and even desperate, after trying for months, or even years for a child of your own. This insidious, highly combustable combination of a high price tag and soul searing emotion can be a recipe for disaster if you don’t have your wits about you.
When starting on the fertility journey, most of us really haven’t considered in concrete terms exactly what we are willing to spend. Why? Because in some ways it’s like trying to answer the unanswerable. Seriously. “How much are you willing to spend in order to have a baby of your own in your arms?” Whose heart didn’t immediately shout, “a million, billion, trillion dollars!?”
Talking about money, particularly if you and your partner have “differing” philosophies can be as appealing as deep vein thrombosis, but it’s a conversation you need to have pronto!
Here are some considerations to get the ball rolling:
1) How Much Money Do We Really Have?
This question isn’t about what you think you make per year or what your gross salary is. What I’m asking is more bare bones, nitty-gritty than that. I want you to think about how much money, after taxes, basic living expenses, car payments, student loans, credit cards, insurance, and other monthly expenses do you really have? What do you have in savings, investments, or otherwise? Having a clear understanding of your true net worth and your liabilities will put “how much CAN I spend” into perspective real fast.
2) Do We Have a Written Monthly Budget?
You may already have a perfectly organized, down to the penny written monthly budget that would be the envy of any self respecting bean counter–if so, high five! BUT, if you are like my husband and I were when we started on this path, we scoffed at the idea of a written budget, deludedly thinking that we were so innately organized that the exercise of writing it all down was a waste of our precious time. How wrong we were.
When the roller coaster started rolling, it felt like we were shoveling cash out the window of our car at 70 miles an hour. Everyone’s hand was out! This is exactly why having a written monthly budget and knowing precisely where every dollar is going is essential. When you are dropping loads of cash on fertility treatment, have control of your monthly expenses! Plan where you can save extra cash to stock pile for your fertility treatment war chest.
Don’t have any idea where to begin with starting a written budget? Google it.
3) Do We Know EXACTLY How Much the Treatment Will Cost?
You must be certain that you know exactly what the treatment plan you have selected is going to cost. The sticker price from the doctor may not include medications and add on services. For example, if you have elected to do IVF, the cost of the procedure at the clinic may be X dollars, but:
- What is the cost of the injectables and medications you will need to order from a specialty pharmacy?
- How much will ICSI or assisted hatching add?
- How much will it cost to freeze any embryos you may have after the procedure?
- What about acupuncture or other alternative treatments to supplement efficacy?
There could be a myriad of other considerations, but the bottom line is you must know the bottom line. No scary surprises to sucker punch your pocketbook!
Keep in mind: this cost could possibly be multiplied several times over, if you need to repeat the procedure.
4) Does Our Insurance Offer Coverage For Any of Our Procedures?
You may actually be one of the lucky few that has health care coverage that will cover fertility procedures. If so, awesome! If you are like many of us in states like California, you are likely going to pay out of pocket. BUT, here is where you need to contact your health plan–they may cover at least some of the prescriptions needed for the treatment, such as pain killers, Clomid, and antibiotics required prior to the procedure. That may not feel like much, but when you are spending thousands, any little bit helps. Ask questions!
5) How Much Are We Willing to Spend or Afford?
Again, in theory we’d probably all be willing to spend an infinite amount of money to have a baby, BUT that is neither realistic, nor sensible, so when starting to answer this question, take a deep breath and for heaven’s sake be REAL.
To illustrate the point, let’s say that you make $75K per year and you are looking at doing IVF, which with drugs can cost roughly anywhere from $12,000 to $20,000 (this is just an approximation–plug in your own numbers) depending on the state you live in and the protocol your doctor recommends. If you have additional specialized procedures like ICSI, assisted hatching, or are using donor eggs, the fees can be even more. Do you have the money to cover these costs today? What percentage of your income are you willing to spend? You may be great with your money and have a healthy nest egg upon which to draw, but how much of that are you willing to spend on treatment?
Now, I didn’t just ask how much you are willing to spend, but also how much you are willing to afford. Depending on where you are in your journey, you may not have all of the money you need or the luxury of time to wait to save it. There are more than a few companies who are in the business of financing fertility treatment and that may or may not be an option for you depending on your comfort level with acquiring debt. That necessitates the question, am I willing to go into debt to for fertility treatment? In answering that question, refer back to considerations #1 and #2. Can you really afford to go into debt?
How much are you willing to spend, when there are absolutely no guarantees you will end up with a baby in your arms? I suggest that you come up with a reasonable “finish line number” for yourselves–a number where you and your partner agree you will stop, because you could end up spending into oblivion! Don’t make other fantastic options like adoption out of reach because you didn’t have the foresight of an FLN!
6) Will We Have Money For Other Options?
As I touched on in consideration #5, if you don’t set a limit for fertility treatment, it could complicate or delay your foray into other options, if the treatment doesn’t turn out the way you hoped. Private adoptions can be expensive. Surrogacy can be astronomical. If you plan ahead and have your wits about you, planning for these options can be a breeze, but not doing so can detrimentally delay a change of course on the road to baby.
7) How Will Our Choices Effect Our Financial Plan When Our Baby Comes?
It makes me sad how many couples don’t think about how their spending on fertility treatment will effect their quality of life when their baby does come. Using the hypothetical $75K from consideration #5, how will having $150K in fertility treatment debt on top of your mortgage, credit card bills, car payments, and monthly living costs, effect your way of life? Seriously. If you are making ends meet, but don’t have a lot of leeway, what are you going to do when you have depleted your savings and have incurred a mountain of debt on top of that? Don’t be short sighted!
Being a good parent starts way before getting that positive pregnancy test. It starts with being financially healthy, so that you can not only feed your family, but enjoy those precious moments you have longed and prayed for. Having to take on a second job, or living in constant fear because you have no savings will rob you of that!
Bottom Line: Ask yourself these questions! Use common sense. If you need financial counseling, GET IT. Doing things the From Maybe To Baby way is all about defining your own journey and making choices that are right for you. Love on your relationship and future family by having a clear financial plan for your journey!
Rosanne Austin, creator of frommaybetobaby.com, is a fertility journey mentor who combines lessons learned on her own fertility journey, with Co-Active Coaching principles, and tactical skills honed during her 10 years as a “force of nature” trial attorney, to provide parenthood hopefuls with the tools they need to tame the fertility treatment beast. Featured as a guest and commentator on KCBS and KSRO radio in the San Francisco Bay Area, Rosanne empowers her clients with proven strategies to avoid heartbreaking pitfalls, safeguard their relationships, and prevent financial foolishness, all while creating a path to a luscious life they love. By popular demand, Rosanne will be producing a webinar series starting on July 2, 2014, and will launch a sanity saving, no stone unturned, online fertility journey boot camp. In the few hours when she’s not mentoring, writing, or speaking, Rosanne is a Paris loving, Downton Abbey crazed, food and wine fanatical, woman madly in love with her husband. Rosanne gives back by serving on the executive board for Verity, an organization committed to providing resources to survivors of sexual assault and human trafficking.
I hear from a number of women who are over 40 and wondering if our programs can help them to achieve their dream of having a baby. In fact, we recently received a call on our customer service line from a kind woman who inquired about our pregnancy program. After answering her questions about it she opened up to us to share her incredible story, and I want to share it with you today:
At 47 years of age, and with an 8 year-old who had been conceived through IVF, I decided to try the Circle + Bloom Natural Cycle Program. A few weeks later, I happened to go to my OB for my annual exam. I had been late for my period and told the doctor as such, thinking that maybe I was pre-menopausal. To my delight and amazement, my doctor told me that I was in my early stages of pregnancy. If this could happen for me, I am hopeful for other women in their 40s who wish to become pregnant naturally!
So is it possible for women over 40 to conceive naturally? Heck yeah! Here’s some more wonderful feedback we’ve received from other women who were over 40 and trying to conceive and found that our Circle + Bloom programs helped them on their journey:
Please shoot me an email or comment below if you have any experience you want to share with others regarding age and trying to conceive. And as always I look forward to hearing from you with your questions, comments, and stories of hope.
Guest Blog by Julie Chang, founder and host of Fertility Revolution.
Have you heard about the new Fertility Revolution? The podcast will feature many respected fertility doctors, complementary fertility practitioners, attorneys, infertility advocates, published authors, health & wellness experts, and more…including yours truly!
About Julie Chang and Fertility Revolution:
Hi, I’m Julie Chang, founder and host of Fertility Revolution. I’m a licensed acupuncturist and natural fertility expert with an acupuncture practice in San Diego. I have 15 years experience in using Chinese Medicine including acupuncture, herbs, supplements, and nutrition to help women and men grow their families. I’m particularly passionate about blending the best of modern medicine with the wisdom of holistic medicines to provide a comprehensive treatment plan for those I’m helping. Under my supervision, hundreds of babies have been born and I hope with Fertility Revolution we can make that millions!
As Benjamin Franklin said so effectively, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. That’s what this is all about for me.
So I created Fertility Revolution, a 5 day a week podcast, hosted by myself, interviewing fertility experts and educators. We share our experience and valuable tips to help you get pregnant. Fertility Revolution hosts respected fertility doctors, complementary fertility practitioners, attorneys, infertility advocates, published authors, health & wellness experts, and more. Join me on a journey with my spotlighted guests, highlighting common stumbling blocks and misconceptions which might make it more difficult for you to conceive. Of course, we provide tips and resources to help you overcome these potential hurdles.
Fertility Revolution is all about inspiring YOU on YOUR fertility journey. We know that by hearing common stumbling blocks, misconceptions, and proactive fertility action tips, you can realize your dream to growing a family and take inspired ACTION!
- To listen to the podcast anywhere/anytime, download the iTunes Podcast app or Stitcher Radio for Podcasts app. Search “Fertility Revolution” and subscribe.
Subscribe on iTunes
Subscribe on Stitcher
- To read more on the show www.FertilityRevolution.com
- Follow along on Twitter @FertilityRevoln
- Like me on Facebook
Anyone who is battling infertility and undergoing IVF treatment knows that there are loads of options when it comes to selecting complementary treatments and therapies. There are diets, exercises, mind body options, acupuncture, acupressure, massage, yoga, herbal remedies and so much more.
With all these options, deciding on a complementary treatment can feel just as overwhelming as struggling with infertility. It can be pretty hard to find your thing.
As you consider complementary treatments consider this advice from The IVF Journal,
“Do What Feels Right. As you go through IVF treatment you are likely to come across loads of different types of tips, advice, and complementary therapy options. As you encounter and consider these things, always remember that while there are plenty of experts out there, there is only one expert on you. Make sure you listen to your heart and your body throughout the entire process. Whether it is a new diet, a new mind-body technique, advice on how much you should exercise, or what vitamins to take, if something you are doing doesn’t feel right, honor that feeling. Know that while it may have worked great for someone else, that doesn’t mean it is right for you.” – The IVF Journal
The reason I give this advice is because I spent quite a few years trying to find my thing when it came to supporting my IVF treatment.
To help myself sort things out I decided to look at the world of complementary treatments for IVF as one where I could be adventurous and try new things. I was saddled with the ever present waiting that is a side effect of infertility treatment so this new world also provided me with something positive to focus on while I endured the many waiting periods that go hand in hand with extended IVF treatment.
I developed a little mantra: Explore, research, discover. And armed with that mantra I jumped in and started trying things out.
I started with what I felt would be a no brainer for me: Yoga. I already knew that practicing Yoga had so many amazing benefits for both mind and body and my (limited) experiences with the practice thus far had been really positive. I couldn’t wait to get started and signed up for an awesome local Yoga for Fertility class. After a few weeks I was really bummed to learn that my body was not quite where my mind was when it came to yoga. Surprisingly it just didn’t feel right. So back to the drawing board I went.
(Side note: I know and work with so many wonderful yoga instructors, acupuncture and other practitioners who are doing wonderful things for people going through infertility so please don’t take these anecdotes as a reason not to try yoga or acupuncture or any other practice – the whole point is to find what works for you, not me.)
Next I tried and initially loved acupuncture. There are so many great reasons to do acupuncture – studies abound on its benefits and there are loads of wonderful practitioners and centers that specialize in fertility and IVF related acupuncture. Many of the women I have cycled with swear by it. But, in the end, when I really considered all the elements of extended treatment it just wasn’t a sustainable practice for me.
So I moved on, determined to find my thing.
I tried reiki and massage – good but not exactly what I felt I was looking for. I dabbled in herbal supplements and diet changes, that wasn’t my thing either. And then one day my therapist suggested meditation.
As a fairly hyper (ok, very), Type A, who really doesn’t like sitting still, I was pretty skeptical about meditation. But, I was in experimentation mode so I figured it couldn’t hurt to try.
What do you know, meditating felt pretty good. Unfamiliar, definitely. A bit uncomfortable at first but mostly just, really good. And calming. Wow. I would have never guessed. So I decided to try it on for a while. And much to my surprise, it stuck.
I think finally found my thing.
As I continued with the practice I came to realize that meditation worked for me on so many levels. For one thing, the length and timing of the practice was right up my alley – really flexible. No travel required, no appointments to keep.
More importantly meditation helped me to slow down and relax my mind and my body. This led to me becoming more self-aware and was the catalyst to so much positive change in the way I handled my infertility. Finally, and more simply put, I was less stressed. I felt calmer, more balanced and therefore stronger than I had in so long.
Hooray! I definitely found my thing!
If you haven’t tried mediation yet, absolutely give it a try and check out my Mindfulness and Self-Awareness pin-board. If it isn’t your thing, don’t worry. Just keep exploring and your thing will eventually reveal itself.
If you are on the fence about trying complementary therapies consider the following from The IVF Journal, Chapter13: Don’t Go it Alone: Complementary Therapies and A Support Network.
“Complementary therapies are a great form of support for IVF patients and can greatly enhance your experience. They can help you to reduce stress and feel more relaxed and can improve your physical and emotional health as well. They also provide positive ways to pass the time during a cycle, especially during waiting periods. Some popular options include mind and body programs, yoga, meditation and visualization, acupuncture and massage. If you are employing or interested in exploring these or other options, start by asking your clinic and other contacts for information and referrals, or use the organizations and contacts in your support network to search for practitioners in your area. You can also turn to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. This is a United States government resource and a good place to research your options. Their information can be found at http://www.nccam.nih.gov.
No matter what type of practice you are considering, most therapies have different styles, pricing, and practitioners available. To get the most out of any treatment, you should feel comfortable with all aspects of the program, including price, location, schedule, and instructor or technician. It is important to note that complementary therapies can provide great benefits for some, but if a certain practice is not your cup of tea, then you should not feel compelled to use it. If you are doing something that you don’t enjoy, the stress of stress relief can ironically do more harm than good. You should only do what you feel comfortable with, and if that does not include complementary therapies, then you should not feel obligated to pursue them.” – The IVF Journal
Stephanie Fry is an advocate, volunteer and respected member of the local and national professional community serving those with infertility. A former marketing executive turned professional infertility patient, her work in infertility advocacy began in 2010 as a Board Member and the Marketing Chair for RESOLVE New England, the largest regional infertility organization in the country. Currently she is the Director of Corporate Partnerships for RESOLVE New England and continues to volunteer as an Infertility Peer Discussion Group leader in Massachusetts, a role she has enjoyed for many years. She created The IVF Journal as a personal coping mechanism based on her own experience with extensive fertility treatments and hopes to educate, empower and comfort women who are building families through IVF and other infertility treatments.
Guest Blog by Ken Myers.
Although nutrition is a vital component to keeping yourself healthy, relaxing your body through meditation could be almost as important. The mind can do a great deal for your physical form, and practicing methods of meditation can make an impact in ways you never thought before. What’s more, you don’t have to dedicate hours per day trying to unlock the secrets of the Universe.
Stress – Stress can cause a wide range of physical problems within your body. While many people focus on the aspect of it affecting your heart, it can also cause problems conceiving as well as carrying a child. Stress can affect both men and women and make it difficult for either to assist in pregnancy. Meditation can help reduce your stress levels which can help your plans for conception as well as help in:
- Weight control
- Mental focus
- Various physical pains
- Stomach and digestive problems
- And a plethora of other physical needs
Brain Fitness – Without proper rest and diet, the mind can have a much harder time processing information. Your brain needs a certain balance in order to be more efficient when it comes to thinking. While meditation can provide a method to help your mind relax, it still needs proper nutritional care in order to provide clarity of thought. Keeping your brain fit can make the use of meditation that much more efficient. If you try to meditate while fighting fatigue, you’ll wind up putting yourself to sleep. Depending on the situation, this could be your ultimate goal.
Finding the Time – While there are many different ways you can meditate, everyone has specific methods that are perfect for themselves. Some will sit in the lotus position on the floor of a quiet room. Others may find solace in a shower with the lights off. Some still will take five to ten minutes sitting in the office at their desk concentrating on breathing techniques. Regardless of your lifestyle, there is a method that will fit. You just need to find one that works best for you and the daily schedule.
Active Meditation – Not all meditation techniques require a silent place to sit with your eyes closed. In fact, you may be practicing methods of meditation right now without realizing. After a hard day, some people will vigorously clean the home in order to find peace. This gives the person a chance to think about situations while keeping the body occupied. Others may go for a jog. In most cases of active meditation the key component is physical movement. This could be a result of an increased flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. As mentioned above, the health of the brain will impact your life whether it is thought processing or maintaining your physical form.
Proper meditation techniques can be more effective for maintaining mental stability than prescription drugs. It costs you nothing and has no side effects to worry about. In fact, your entire body can benefit from meditating more often. While this method of focusing your mind can help you relax, it may not be an instant cure of infertility. It can, however, be used as a method to reduce your stress levels in order to rule out stress as a cause for the inability to conceive.
Ken Myers is a father of three and passionate about great childcare. He’s always looking for ways to help families find the support they need to live fuller, richer lives. Find out more about expert childcare by checking out @go_nannies on Twitter.
Please join me in congratulating Celeste G., the winner of our 30 Days of Fertility campaign! She’ll receive our entire product line of downloads for participating and helping to support all women on the fertility journey.
I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to every single one of you who participated. It was an amazing response, and it showed me how wonderful and powerful this community can be.
When we come together to share our tips, insights, concerns and support we really create a powerful resource that makes a positive difference in people’s lives. How cool is that?!
So to thank all of you for participating and being such an amazing community, please use the code THANKYOU25 (expires May 6, 2014) to receive 25% off any of our products during National Infertility Awareness Week.
Just because our 30 Day Campaign is over doesn’t mean you have to stop sharing! Continue to join us on our Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest page to keep the conversation going. We will continue to post our tips, insights, and questions and hope you will continue to join us.
With love + gratitude,
Guest Blog by Stephanie Fry, author of The IVF Journal book.
Back in 2009, I was lucky enough to help the folks at Circle + Bloom as they developed their IVF/IUI Mind-Body Program by giving them a patients perspective on an IVF cycle. Since then their product has helped thousands of women and I hope my guest blog, How and Why to Build a Support Network during Infertility Treatment, will too.
After my first round of IVF resulted in an early pregnancy loss I was at a very low point in my already distinguished infertility career. It was then that I realized I needed some support. And quick.
So I did what I do best. I made a plan. A plan to get myself some much needed help.
As I researched my options I immediately started to feel better. I was thrilled and uplifted to learn that there were individuals, organizations, websites and businesses dedicated to infertility education and support. Finally, I didn’t feel so alone, so isolated.
After some initial research, my first step was to call my fertility clinic and talk to my nurse. I felt really comfortable with her and she seemed like a good place to start. When she got on the line I blurted out a simple statement and asked a simple question.
“I’m really struggling. Where can I get some support?”
Not very eloquent and certainly not the easiest thing I have ever done but I am so glad I took that first step. It was the beginning of my healing process and without it I’m not sure I could have continued with treatment.
She referred me to a therapist who specialized in fertility. What a relief it was to find someone who fully understood the process of infertility treatment without my having to explain everything! My therapist helped me identify and work through the incredibly complex range of emotions that infertility can bring and she also introduced me to RESOLVE and The American Fertility Association, two wonderful non-profit resources that I still rely on today. I began attending a peer support group and with the help of my healthcare providers, non-profits, organizations, on-line resources, individuals and some great books I found everything I needed to educate myself about my situation.
It took some time but within a few months I had surrounded myself with a network of people, organizations and information sources that supported, educated, comforted and understood me. With all this support I began to really understand my diagnosis, my treatment and what my options were for coping with it all.
Understanding brought comfort. Comfort was followed by strength. When I had regained my strength I knew I had successfully created a support network and I can’t imagine having gone through the next few years of fighting infertility without it. It is the one thing that I universally recommend to anyone battling infertility.
Here is a bit more on why and how to build a support network,
“THE IVF PROCESS is not always easy, and having access to your own personal support network is a great way to stay positive, informed, and connected during your treatment. It is also a great comfort to know you have go-to resources when you are faced with difficulties, whether it’s a small bump in the road or a larger emotional or physical crisis… As you consider your options, keep in mind that your support network should provide you with resources that not only educate and inform but also help you feel connected and comforted while you go through treatment. Strong resources help offer emotional relief by providing opportunities for you to soothe yourself in whatever way you are most comfortable with.
They also help you:
- Explore and vent your feelings—including unsettling ones
- Learn and gather information
- Make decisions—both large and small
- Develop coping skills
- Mourn loss and celebrate success
- Relax physically and emotionally”
Excerpt from The IVF Journal, Chapter 13: Don’t Go It Alone: Complementary Therapies and A Support Network.
No matter what stage of the infertility journey you are in or what type of family building you are pursing going through infertility alone is never a good idea. I encourage you to try creating your own support network. As you do so just keep in mind that every person who experiences infertility is unique and has different needs. Your network should reflect your needs, likes and personality. Also, it doesn’t need to be huge and complicated just jotting down a few resources, even if you never need them can’t hurt and might be just what you need if you find yourself needing some extra support.
Stephanie Fry is an advocate, volunteer and respected member of the local and national professional community serving those with infertility. A former marketing executive turned professional infertility patient, her work in infertility advocacy began in 2010 as a Board Member and the Marketing Chair for RESOLVE New England, the largest regional infertility organization in the country. Currently she is the Director of Corporate Partnerships for RESOLVE New England and continues to volunteer as an Infertility Peer Discussion Group leader in Massachusetts, a role she has enjoyed for many years. She created The IVF Journal as a personal coping mechanism based on her own experience with extensive fertility treatments and hopes to educate, empower and comfort women who are building families through IVF and other infertility treatments.
Guest Blog by Suzanne Hanna, a Licensed Psychotherapist, Holistic Health Practitioner, Spiritual Coach, Writer, and Inspirational Speaker.
It can happen in a moment, usually after a life-changing realization or event. Everything goes dark. The air in your body gets sucked from your lungs. A lead ball crashes into your core, leaving you weak. Your throat constricts and your body begins to sweat. Your heart races. Your temples pound. We have all been there.
I can remember this happening to me a few times in my life. Something completely unexpected happens. You get a devastating phone call; you’re counting on people and no one shows up; you wake up from a lie and realize just how shaky the ground you’ve been standing on is. These moments send you reeling down the rabbit hole into the deep dark abyss.
You think you’ll never recover from whatever it is, but most of us do eventually. Once we have regained equilibrium, we look back and wonder how we got from there to here, and then we swear that we will NEVER go back there again.
Yet we do that, too. You see, that is the evolution of life. Pain is often the catalyst for periods of intense growth, when we are ready to shed the old, but are not yet ready to embrace the new. Pain is perhaps the defining characteristic when we are thrashing about in the murky waters of denial, shame, fear, anger, and doubt until we regain the strength to swim to the nearest shore.
The times I have spent in the rabbit hole have been scary as well as painful. I will admit that I have wanted to run, hide or find anything just to make it stop. I have prayed that I would fall asleep and wake up to the realization that it was all just a dream. The truth is, there is no way around it. We can temporarily avoid it but it will always come back until either the lesson is learned or we have been awakened from a deep sleep. It would be nice if growth could come in prettier packages and with detailed instruction manuals to follow, and at times it does. But if you are anything like me, with a stubborn streak, then there are times when the Universe has no other choice but to bring the hammer down. Not to punish us, but to awaken us.
EVERY time I have been in the darkness, I have learned something new — about myself and about the lessons I have come to this life to learn. I have gained more insight into my deeper truth and have brought healing to my core wounds. I have learned to reach out and ask for support so I do not drown in the pain. And once I have climbed out of the rabbit hole, I see the enormous gifts that I received from my time there.
I am not going to lie and say I look forward to these periods of painful growth, but I will say that they no longer frighten me as they once did. You see I have gotten the tools and resources that I have needed to see in the dark. My faith, my purpose, my truth, and my courage have been loyal companions. There are moments that I forget that they are there, but before long I am reminded again.
We will NEVER be able to outrun the darkness. The more we run, the more painful the process. It will inevitably find us lurking behind some tree or hiding underneath the bed. We eventually have to face it.
Wouldn’t it be great if you knew what to do when it comes knocking at your door?
What if you could befriend it so that you can learn quickly what it has come to teach you?
What if you no longer had to constantly fear the day that it will find you so that you can live FULLY in the present?
Suzanne Hanna is a Licensed Psychotherapist, Holistic Health Practitioner, Spiritual Coach, Writer, and Inspirational Speaker. She has helped hundreds of men and women move through their fear and pain as a way to live a more Inspired Life. Suzanne believes that it is up to the mid-lifers and beyond to come out from the shadows of their own fear, pain and shame in order to be the way – showers for the younger generations.
“I am on a mission to remove the stigma around fear, pain and shame. I want to teach others about the importance of the journey into darkness in order to reclaim their power and true selves. I believe it is the ONLY way to get to personal freedom. Several years ago I went on my own version of The Wilderness Walk when I hiked across the United States with my golden retriever Grace. It changed my life.”
I’ve found another book to add to my list of recommended reading related to fertility! Rebecca Fett’s It Starts With The Egg is an important read, and one I am happy to see getting such positive feedback.
Circle+Bloom is grounded in science. The development of our mind-body programs was done in collaboration with the professional medical community who have provided guidance and counsel throughout their creation. The desire to create these programs in the first place stemmed from the fact that over the past few decades the effectiveness of guided imagery / visualization, along with the negative impacts of stress on fertility, have been established by numerous research findings.
Still, it is sometimes hard to find robust research that scientifically explores infertility that crosses over into every-day knowledge and practice. That’s why it is so refreshing to read It Starts with the Egg. The book presents a reasoned and balanced review of the latest science linking environmental factors to reduced fertility and other health problems.
One of the most interesting findings in the book relate to nutrition. If you’ve read our blog you may have seen that we really believe that nutrition can have a huge impact on your fertility. It’s good to see this backed up by science, especially since current fertility advice related to nutrition is lacking. The book describes research published in the Journal of Fertility and Sterility finding that women following a Mediterranean diet before their IVF cycle had a 40% higher chance of becoming pregnant, along with some other really interesting studies related to nutrition and fertility that you may not have heard about.
That’s why Rebecca’s book is so important in my eyes. It raises awareness, in an easy-to-read, approachable way, so that more people are aware of the scientific evidence linking environmental factors to reduced fertility and health problems.
The true beauty of the book is that it compliments the thorough overview of the current scientific research with easy-to follow, practical changes you can make in your everyday life. Small, simple changes in life can have big impacts! We truly believe that here at Circle+Bloom, and Rebecca’s book brings this to light in a powerful way.
I want you all to be able to read it, so head over to our sister site YourFertilityDeals where we are currently offering a deal on the book. I would love it if after you go and read the book, you come back here and share in the comments what changes you made as a result.
Guest Blog by Cheretta A Clerkley, a strategic marketing health care professional for Hormone Health Network. She has worked for over 10 years in direct patient education focusing on hormone health.
Being pregnant affects a lot more than your body. The outward signs of expecting a baby become more apparent over time, but the emotional and psychological ones are easier to hide. As a result, many pregnant women are taken by surprise by how much their emotions change during the course of those nine months. Knowing that you’re about to become a mother is enough to heighten anyone’s emotions, but there’s more to it than that. As soon as you become pregnant, hormones in your body go into overdrive and can dramatically impact how you feel. By keeping a few things in mind, you’ll be able to emerge on the other side with your mental well-being intact.
Common Hormonal Changes During Pregnancy
Sometimes, just knowing which hormones are flaring up and how they’re affecting you can help you deal with them more effectively. Dozens of hormones spring into action when you’re pregnant, but three are of particular interest:
- Progesterone: This hormone helps to ensure that the baby grows normally. However, it is also responsible for making you feel sore and bloated, and it can cause upset stomachs and make your breasts exceedingly tender and painful. Coping with these symptoms is enough to make anyone feel moody.
- HCG: Human chorionic gonadotropin kicks in very early in pregnancy, and it aids in the production of progesterone. It’s also largely responsible for the morning sickness and feelings of fatigue that tend to plague expectant mothers at this stage.
- Estrogen: The primary purpose of this hormone is to prepare the placenta so that the growing baby can stay nourished and healthy. It is believed that estrogen is mostly the cause of heightened emotions and mood swings that many pregnant women experience.
Tips for Dealing with Pregnancy Hormones
As you can see, the hormones that make you feel less-than-great while pregnant all serve important purposes, so suppressing them isn’t an option. There are ways to minimize the impact they have on your state of mind, though:
- Find ways to relieve stress: It’s natural to feel like you’re running out of time and that you need to accomplish as much as possible before the baby arrives. However, that’s also a good way to end up feeling more overwhelmed than ever. Make a point of carving out time to engage in stress-relieving activities. Exercise and meditation are great for this, but simple things like getting enough sleep and eating right help a lot too.
- Take it easy: There’s no such thing as being completely, 100 percent prepared for a baby. Don’t overdo it. Once your bundle of joy arrives, the days of having time for yourself will be gone for the near future. Be kind to yourself, and set aside plenty of time for naps, baths, trips to the spa and other pampering activities.
- Bond with your partner: The more support you get while pregnant, the better you’ll ultimately feel. Don’t be afraid to lean on your partner as you go through the whirlwind of emotions that you’re bound to experience. If you are single, turn to friends, relatives and other loved ones for support.
- Have fun: Hormonal changes can make you feel less than enthusiastic about doing the fun things you usually enjoy. You will probably have to force yourself to go out and have fun, but try to do so at least a few times per month. Once you’re out there doing fun things, you’ll be glad you made yourself go.
- Talk it out: Now is not the time to try to be the strong, silent type. Most people are perfectly understanding about the emotional toll that pregnancy takes, so use that to your advantage by talking about how you feel as often as possible. After all, a problem shared is a problem halved!
Know when to Get Help
Pregnancy hormones can make you feel like a completely different person, and they’re never much fun to endure. With that being said, some women experience more severe symptoms. It’s important to know when to get help. If you feel excessively anxious or depressed, talk to your doctor. Similarly, let your doctor know if you experience mild to moderate depression or anxiety that lasts longer than two weeks. About 10 percent of pregnant women experience depression, and there are ways to treat it.
The vast majority of pregnant women get through their pregnancies without going through too much turmoil. As stressful as dealing with pregnancy hormones may be, it’s a fact of life. It may seem like you’ll be pregnant and feel this way forever, but the baby will arrive before you know it. In the meantime, go easy on yourself and seek help if your symptoms become too overwhelming.
Hello! My name is Meagan. Some of you may already know me if you are a Circle+Bloom partner since I help work with our wonderful affiliates and partners. If not–hi! It’s nice to ‘meet’ you I also do some of the blog writing here. I’m going to take advantage of that and use this post to share a little with you about a recent trip I went on.
I just got back from a trip to Istanbul, Turkey (my first voyage across the Atlantic!) After over 10 hours of flying I felt like I had traveled to a different world, and the city is certainly different from my hometown of Boston, as well as my current residence of Washington, DC. More surprising than the differences, however, were the many similarities I saw. Here are just a few.
1. People love good food and drinks.
The food and drinks might be different (doner kebabs and turkish coffee in Istanbul’s case) but just about anywhere people like sitting down to a great meal with their friends and family. [Side note–fresh squeezed pomegranate juice is amazing and it might be the thing I’m going to miss most about Istanbul!]
2. History brings people together.
While the Freedom Trail in Boston and the National Monuments in DC are much much younger than sites like the Basilica Cistern, the Blue Mosque and the Ayasofya, sites that tell a story about our past are always a draw for people. (One huge realization related to this is just how young the United States is. The First Great Church in Istanbul, the predecessor to the Ayasofya, was built in the year 360!)
3. Getting be out in nature is a shared joy.
I was struck by the similarity between the views of families and friends walking along the Bosphorus and enjoying the sun in the numerous parks along the water with views of people running and strolling along the Charles River in Boston and the Tidal Basin in DC. Give people some sunshine and a green space and it’s pretty much a guarantee you’ll see smiles, no matter where you are.
The world is a big place, but when you see how much we all hold in common it doesn’t seem quite so big as before. I hope one day I’ll get to go back to Istanbul. There is so much to see and experience and I only got to scratch the surface while I was there.
So, where have your travels brought you, and have you noticed any similarities or differences between where you’re from and where you visited?
This April, in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, we’re launching a “30 Days of Fertility” campaign to support all women embarking on the fertility journey and we hope you’ll join us!
We’ve always believed in the power of mind + body awareness as it pertains to fertility. Our programs help explore the connection between stress and hormone balance and ultimate fertility, and so this month we’ll be offering up some of our best insights.
Over the course of the next 30 days we’ll be sharing 30 thoughts, meditations, and tips to help you create an optimal mind + body connection. We’ll make it easy to nurture yourself and find support for your fertility journey.
Help us build a community of fertility support.
At the end of the 30 days, we’ll be giving away an entire product line of our Circle + Bloom downloads free.
We’ll randomly pick a winner and announce who it is on May 12th.
We look forward to supporting the journey to conceive and to sharing conversations with you.
With love and gratitude,
I have to apologize right off the bat to those of you who may still have snow on the ground, but spring seems to have sprung in North Carolina and I could not be more happy!
Whenever the seasons change I get excited to spend some time in my kitchen. New ingredients that arrive with spring mean we get to brighten up and revamp our meal line-up with fresh tastes and local ingredients.
As I’ve been looking at some new recipes to try this spring it reminded me that we haven’t featured any fertility recipes on the blog in quite some time (although we are constantly sharing new recipes on our pinterest board!) So, without further ado, here’s a blog post featuring some delicious soups that just happen to be great for fertility as well.
When it comes to the best foods to eat to increase your chances of getting pregnant, seek out whole foods packed with iron from plants. Spinach, beans, pumpkin, tomatoes, and beets all appear to promote fertility and help boost your overall health. Why not enjoy them in a delicious soup?
Here are our Four Favorite Fertility-Friendly Soups:
Beets belong to the same family as chard and spinach and have amazing blood cleansing powers. Their high content of iron regenerates and reactivates the red blood cells and supplies fresh oxygen to the body, helping rid your body of unwanted toxins and opening it up to things you do want (like a baby!). The flavor of this soup is as rich as its color.
For an easy boost of iron, mix some pumpkin seeds into your yogurt or trail mix or sprinkle on top of ice cream. If you have a little time, we recommend this recipe. This seven ingredient, two-step soup will fill the house with great smells and fill you with satisfying nutrients.
Beans are a magical food when it comes to fertility. Rich in vegetable protein, they are the perfect ingredient for your diet and this delicious soup. Trust us, it’s so easy and delicious you won’t miss the meat!
Sun-Dried Tomatoes also pack in the iron and pair nicely with roasted red peppers. Soak them to rehydrate before cooking in the soap and you’ll soak in tomato’s cancer-reducing properties as well as iron.
What recipes are you excited to make in the upcoming weeks? Are you trying something new? Have any old favorites that you can share with us? Post below or on our FaceBook page to share. I can’t wait to try out the recipes you suggest!
Guest blog by Sandra Mills.
Fertility struggles can feel like you’re stuck on a hamster wheel in a cage you did not choose. Couples undergoing fertility treatments suddenly feel like they no longer have control of the most intimate parts of their bodies and their relationship, and it is stressful. That stress adversely affects fertility, which creates more stress, and more problems, and the wheel continues to spin, as you go nowhere.
Yoga has many forms of practice developed over centuries. With care for the unique issues of fertility, yoga has proven to be a very good way to provide both a woman and her partner with effective tools for controlling their approach to the stress in both body and mind. Many respected fertility experts are suggesting fertility yoga classes for patients. While it will not solve all fertility problems, it will help give the perspective needed to face them.
According to the NYU Fertility Center, “Yoga for Fertility is a safe, gentle practice inspired by Hatha Yoga with a focus on deep relaxation, guided visualization and breathing to trigger the relaxation response.” A class for Fertility Yoga can tone and strengthen the body, but it also is designed to increase blood flow to the reproductive organs, decrease tension in the pelvic and hip region, and affect cortisol levels by teaching you how to control your reactions to stress.
More than exercise results from sharing a class with others in the same struggle. Realizing you are not the only one to feel trapped by infertility is encouraging as you learn together how to quiet your thoughts. The Colorado Center For Reproductive Medicine states, “Yoga is increasingly recommended for people trying to conceive, both because it helps relieve stress that can accompany fertility challenges and because the many therapeutic benefits may enhance fertility.”
Experts caution that not every fertility issue is going to be solved by holistic technique, and some yoga poses can actually create more problems. For instance, excessive twisting can cause ovaries swollen by fertility treatments to torque. It is important that the yoga class be designed for the specific limitations of the body during this time. Overall, an appropriate approach to yoga for fertility is highly recommended. When looking for yoga classes in your area, be sure to mention the fact that you are interested in fertility yoga and discuss any concerns you have with your instructor.
Yoga classes for fertility are not billed as support groups, but in many ways that is exactly what is accomplished. You meet others experiencing the same struggles, and realize you are not alone in this situation. They are not guarantees of fertility, but they restore your peace of mind and give you the skills to control your reaction to this stressful situation.
Many couples find that doing yoga together helps them to connect with each other outside the “got to get pregnant” pressure their fertility treatments put on the relationship. Activities together, learning new things and enjoying each other’s company, are welcome additions to their lifestyle.
Travel can be one of the best ways to learn new things and enjoy life together. Some couples have enjoyed traveling together to one of many excellent yoga retreats for a long weekend. One such place, if you can take the time to go, is to the birthplace of Yoga in Rishikesh, India, which has a lot to offer yogis at all levels.
The important thing is realizing that there are ways to confront the stresses of infertility with positive actions. It is difficult to feel trapped in that cage, running on a wheel that may seem endless, but fertility yoga can give you the key to freedom.
Sandra Mills is a freelance health and travel writer. She enjoys coming up with topics that benefit people’s health. She recently discovered the many health benefits of practicing yoga.
1. In vitro maturation (IVM)
With traditional IVF, patients typically inject themselves with hormone medications for eight to 10 days to stimulate the ovaries into producing multiple eggs for fertilization. But hormone injections aren’t always the best choice for PCOS patients because they have an increased risk for ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) – a condition that causes the ovaries to become swollen and painful.
Instead, a new better option might be in-vitro maturation. With in vitro maturation (IVM) eggs are removed from the ovaries and are collected when they are still immature. They are then matured in the laboratory before being fertilized.
Because the eggs are immature when they are collected you don’t need to take as many drugs before the eggs can be collected like with conventional IVF. In addition, women with PCOS are good candidates for this procedure because they have many immature follicles which lead to lots of little immature eggs.
The treatment is still considered experimental, so it’s not covered by insurance. Neway Fertility hopes to change that with an ongoing IVM study that has shown success rates of 80 percent so far. For more information or to enroll in the study, visit NewayFertility.com.
With clomiphene citrate, the most commonly used agent for ovulation induction in women with PCOS, only about half the women who ovulate end up having babies. So scientists have been focusing on new ways to improve fertility in women with PCOS.
The Wall Street Journal recently published an article looking at these new developments. They write, “Dr. Eisenberg, Penn State’s Dr. Legro and the Reproductive Medicine Network have been running a clinical trial to improve fertility. In a presentation to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in October, they showed that early results indicate a medication called letrozole, a drug commonly used for in vitro fertilization, appears to result in more live births than clomiphene.”
To read more visit the article here. In addition to covering new developments it also provides some good facts and figures about PCOS.
PCOS Diva is a great resource for the latest PCOS news, and she recently shared some exciting new research. She spotlighted Dr. Antonio Simone Laganà, who has been conducting studies around the supplement inositol. Inositol is a naturally occurring substance produced in the human body that belongs to the vitamin B complex group. It is a precursor to a number of ”signaling molecules” that essentially tell cells how to behave.
According to the article there are nine different types of inositol that are found naturally in many foods such as fruits, nuts and beans. Of the nine different types of inositol, two have insulin-sensitizing capabilities: myo-inositol and d-chiro-inositol.
Dr. Lagana told PCOS Diva, “According to our recent data analysis, both the isoforms of inositol are effective in improving ovarian function and metabolism in patients with PCOS, although myo-inositol showed the most marked effect on the metabolic profile, whereas D-chiro-inositol reduced hyperandrogenism better.”
You can read a summary of his findings, as well as check out all the wonderful resources PCOS Diva has to offer, at the site.
Guest Blog by Natalie on behalf of The London Egg Bank.
Becoming an egg donor is an altruistic affair. Many women choose to become egg donors so that they can give the gift of parenthood to those couples who have embarked upon the difficult and emotional journey of trying to conceive.
Some women may have had a close friend or relative who has experienced the trauma of infertility and wish to prevent others from going through the same emotionally draining experience, whilst others donate their eggs out of the goodness of their own hearts. Whatever their reasons, these women have undergone the egg donation process with the same motive in mind; to help childless couples.
The egg donation process allows those women whose ovaries do not produce enough healthy eggs, to become pregnant using donated eggs. By donating your eggs, you can offer infertile women a life-changing gift: the gift of a child and the chance to become a mother.
As an egg donor, you’re likely to experience feelings of goodwill. Why? You will know that you’ve helped couples to overcome infertility as well as grant them the greatest happiness of all: parenthood. As an egg donor, you can play a significant part in helping a loving couple make their family complete.
Why do Women Donate Their Eggs?
Satisfaction and happiness are the two key elements that tend to give women the desire to become egg donors. They feel these emotions due to the fact that they are able to help struggling women to begin or expand their family.
Egg donors are often family members or friends of those who are unable to conceive naturally. However, in most cases, the donors who work through clinics are matched up with individuals or couples that they previously did not know.
Research has revealed that 68% of women stated that helping somebody was their number one reason for donating their eggs. Of this same group that was surveyed, 100% of the egg donors reported that they would donate their eggs again.
Whilst the egg donation process can be a bit of an emotional roller coaster, being an egg donor is a wonderful and exciting experience at every step. Knowing you are going to change lives for the better is a heart-warming feeling.
How Can Egg Donation Help?
The egg donation process is able to help two different types of women to give birth to a child: those who don’t have eggs fit for conceiving, and those who unfortunately have no eggs at all.
Early menopause is the main reason that causes a woman not to have eggs fit for conceiving. This sometimes occurs around fifteen or twenty years before it would normally happen. If a woman begins her menopause when she is still very young and she has not yet had a child, she will not be able to have one without the egg donation process. Epidemiological studies have revealed that 5% of women develop this condition which is much more than people anticipate.
The cause of this is usually medical for those who have no eggs. For example, some women have to have their ovaries removed because of a tumor, once they have recovered these women still cannot have their own children unless they use eggs donated from another woman.
Do you wish to help women who are unable to conceive? You can, by becoming an egg donor. The London Egg Bank is the UK’s first egg donor clinic with the aim of encouraging people to donate eggs. For more information, call 0207 563 4306 today and learn more about the egg donation process.
Yesterday afternoon I found myself becoming really sluggish. In fact, while driving home I got so sleepy that I needed to pull over and rest my eyes a bit. A bit embarrassing to have to admit that!
It got me thinking about energy and how we all struggle with maintaining our energy levels throughout the day. When I’m dragging and feel completely drained, I need things that are easy to do that have instant impact on re-energizing myself.
I know I can’t be the only one who feels like they need ways to restore their energy, so I figured I would share with you the practices that consistently help me to re-energize.
They’re simple, easy to do, and immediately have an effect.
- More (and better) sleep
One of the best ways to increase your energy is to jump-start it with some physical activity such as walking. I find that even if I stand up and do a short amount of movement, such as 10-15 minutes of yoga, it instantly gives me a boost.
I’ve also been doing CrossFit recently, which is a lot more intense, but boy do I feel great (although usually sore!) afterward.
On a physical level moving and stretching brings in more nutrients and oxygen to your body since nitric oxide is released from the linings of arteries to allow blood vessels to move blood more freely.
Integrating gentle movement, such as walking, stretching, restorative yoga, and similar activities can allow you to regain energy in your body and life and connect more fully with your body and self. Try out different types of movement and see what feels right for your body.
When it comes to increasing energy, food is one of the quickest and effective natural remedies. Especially during that dreaded 2 pm slump, I reach for a glass of water (or Green tea) and a high protein snack to give me a boost of energy to get through the rest of my day.
One hidden cause of fatigue is dehydration. It’s something that many of us don’t immediately think of, so if you’re feeling a little sluggish drink a glass of water and it may give you the boost you really need.
Snacks made up of high-quality protein, such as nuts and greek yoghurt, as well as lots of fruits and vegetables and 100-percent whole grains, end up giving you way more energy than snacks made up of simple sugars and carbs. Here’s a list of high-protein, portable snacks that I usually turn to. I also find that the physical act of munching on something crunchy, such as an apple dipped in peanut butter, keeps me more alert.
(Side note: If you usually turn to coffee for an energy boost, try green tea instead. It actually has one-third the caffeine of black tea, but it’s been shown to yield the same level of energy and attentiveness with more even levels than the ups and downs associated with other caffeinated drinks. Plus its full of polyphenols, which are chemicals with potent antioxidant properties.)
By meditate I mean even just taking 5 minutes on your own somewhere where you can sit and take some deep breaths. Feel your breath move inside your body and notice how it makes your body feel. With each inhalation and exhalation, feel your breath extend further into your body (until it feels like every cell in your whole body is breathing). Then enjoy that feeling of energy flowing within your body.
Even better, when you’re feeling sluggish listen to the Energy for Empowerment program. The program will guide your brain on a journey inside your body so it can help direct the body to find balance, health and energy. Each session is about 20 minutes long so you can take a quick break to regroup, re-energize, and then go take on your day!
I am also known to find a place to take a power nap during the day as well. In fact, this is a surprising habit of some of the mos well-known super productive people in the business world. Finding a space to be alone can be challenging, but reclining in your car seat, setting my phone alarm for 15 minutes, works wonders!
This one may seem obvious, but its so important I had to include it! Sleep has the ultimate restorative powers and you need it for your hormonal balance. Sleep is fundamental to our health, levels of stress, and energy to accomplish our goals.
We’re just not doing enough of it. Not only that, but we often don’t get the quality of sleep we need. I’ve definitively had those nights were I wake up throughout the night because my mind won’t shut off!
Eight high-quality hours a day will make a huge difference. If you have trouble falling asleep, you may need to change your sleep practices and approach to falling asleep. That’s why there is a special session just for better sleep in the Energy for Empowerment program. Give it a listen tonight and see what immediate impacts it can have!
So how about you? What do you do when you’re tired that quickly and easily boosts you energy? Please share in the comments below so we can all try your tips!
We’ve been doing a lot of reading while we wait for warm weather to arrive and wanted to share some recommendations for books that are wonderful resources for dealing with infertility. There are plenty of good ones out there, so be sure to check our ‘books we love‘ page for more recommendations, as well as our blog for guest posts from authors and highlights from any new book we come across that we think you’ll like.
by Melissa Ford
Author of the extremely successful blog Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters, Melissa Ford presents readers with a guide for navigating the complex world of infertility. The Land of If got its name not only because “IF” is the abbreviation for “infertility” in the online world, but also because there are so many “ifs” inherent in being here. No stranger to the Land of If herself, Ford shares her hard-earned knowledge and insights, helping couples struggling with infertility understand the lingo, learn the details doctors tend to leave out, and keep their emotional sanity despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Navigating the Land of If gives the nitty-gritty on injections, rejections, biting your tongue during happy parent-to-be conversations, and trying not to cry over baby shower invitations. With chapters that include how-to’s for same-sex couples, and present adoption or remaining child-free as plausible alternatives, Ford tells you exactly what you need to know, from one infertile to another.
by Helen Adrienne
Infertility is a bio-psycho-socio-spiritual crisis affecting 7.3 million couples. Unlike acute crises, this one can take years to resolve, straining life which feels on permanent hold. Men and women suffer terribly with their longing for a child. With Helen Adrienne’s book, On Fertile Ground: Healing Infertility in hand, readers will learn how to turn the tables on this unwanted change and ride the infertility wave rather than be swamped by it. Each chapter ends with easy-to-learn exercises that foster coping skills including hypnosis and other mechanisms that have a statistically significant association with rates of pregnancy. The words of former patients support the effectiveness of Helen’s mind/body interventions and not only show readers that it is possible to cope effectively, but that it is also possible to “gain from the pain.” On Fertile Ground goes beyond other books of its kind by teaching how to manage the ego states like anger or negativity that escalate when we are faced with adversity. This is a get-back-in control book and a growth-from-adversity book that is comprehensive in its scope. It is relieving to know that these shock-absorbing methods can make the ongoing challenge manageable. Those who are struggling with infertility, those who want to understand them, or physicians and therapists who serve this population will benefit from the guidance provided in these pages.
by Candace B. Pert
Why do we feel the way we feel? How do our thoughts and emotions affect our health? Are our bodies and minds distinct from each other or do they function together as parts of an interconnected system? Candace Pert provides startling and decisive answers to these and other challenging questions that scientists and philosophers have pondered for centuries. Her pioneering research on how the chemicals inside our bodies form a dynamic information network, linking mind and body, is not only provocative, it is revolutionary. By establishing the biomolecular basis for our emotions and explaining these new scientific developments in a clear and accessible way, Pert empowers us to understand ourselves, our feelings, and the connection between our minds and our bodies — body-minds — in ways we could never possibly have imagined before. Molecules of Emotion is a landmark work, full of insight and wisdom and possessing that rare power to change the way we see the world and ourselves.
Please share your own book recommendations in the comments!
How are you doing? Be honest, you can tell me if you’re feeling like crap. I won’t judge!
In fact, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to deal with the really crummy emotions that surround that time of the month where you have a BFN (Big Fat Negative). Not an easy time.
Thinking about the crazy range of emotions that you encounter at this time, I realized that in the week of getting your period you go through similar steps to grief, commonly referred to as the Kübler-Ross model of “five stages of grief”. I found this awesome blog post from Melody Mccabe over at Essential Mums that I thought captured the experience perfectly.
Here is how she describes her experience with the 5 stages of grief surrounding a BFN.
- Denial: According to Kübler-Ross “I feel fine.”; “This can’t be happening, not to me.”
- Anger: According to Kübler-Ross “Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; ‘”Who is to blame?”
- Bargaining: According to Kübler-Ross: “I’ll do anything”, “I will give my life savings if…”
- Depression: According to Kübler-Ross: “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”
- Acceptance: According to Kübler-Ross: “It’s going to be okay.”
In trying to conceive speak: “I am fine, this wasn’t the month, but that is ok, next month will be the month”. Or “So the home pregnancy test was negative, that is ok, maybe the blood test will be accurate, those store-bought things can’t be that good.”
In trying to conceive speak: All of the above and “Are you kidding me? I went for acupuncture every week, I had a good ovulation, we timed things perfectly? Why is this not happening?” and in some misplaced anger at pretty much anything and everything. In my absolute frustration, I found myself blaming [my partner], which is not logical (or fair) at all.
I sometimes get angry if I hear people complaining about being pregnant at this point. Again, illogical and unfair, because every person’s reality and journey is different, but it stings to hear when you are battling to get pregnant.
In trying to conceive speak: Preaching to the choir Kübler-Ross! In my case, I start thinking – “Maybe it is something I am eating? Maybe if I stop eating dairy and sugar totally that will help? Maybe it is because [my partner] is exercising every day, could that be negatively impacting his sperm? Is it the chocolate I ate? Was it that day I had two coffees instead of one? Maybe if I don’t drink coffee at all? Maybe we should both go on a stricter diet?”
“Maybe if we (insert pretty much anything here) it will happen this month.”
In trying to conceive speak: … I had this terrible fear: what if we go through years of this? What if we wake up five years down the track and at that point realize it was never going to happen and we have invested years of our lives into something that was never going to happen? Do we go through the torture? Or do call it quits now? Do I need to start accepting that being a mother is not on the cards for me? I know it sounds irrational, but you do start wondering. The truth is, no one can tell how many months/years you are going to go through this.
In trying to conceive speak: As the hormones get back to normal (when taking Clomiphene, I find it is the second week of the cycle) you are better able to get things back into perspective.
You count your blessings, you spend time with your partner-finding and connecting with each other again- in my case, I thank God that I have a treatment plan, I rationalize that I will only be 29 in March, there is time, there is support, there is hope.”
What I think is so helpful about this realization is that regaining a positive attitude after a BFN is a process. You don’t need to force yourself to smile right afterwards, and you don’t need to feel guilty for feeling absolutely crumby.
Take the time to go through these stages of grief. The important thing is that as you work your way through the stages, you end up at the “It’s going to be okay” part.
Journal, talk with others, meditate–do whatever you have to do to help yourself work through these stages of emotion and find what you are grateful for and what keeps you going. One option is to listen to our Happy Mind and Healthy Body program as a way to focus on regaining balance and positivity and to get out of your funk.
You are not alone. If you need to connect with people you know will get it, comment below and talk with others. Rant and rage and ask questions and talk about what keeps you hopeful or share how you got through it.
For some more tips related to healing and dealing with negative emotions check out my previous posts, Healing Of the Heart, How to Work Through Negative Thoughts While Visualizing and The Surprising Side Effect to Feeling Like Sh*t. I think they provide useful ideas for dealing with a BFN.
I would love to hear from you about how you manage to keep a positive attitude after a BFN.
Guest Blog by Lindsay Agne, founder of Full Circle.
There has been alot of talk about VULNERABILITY lately. Brene Brown and her TED talk brought a spot light to that word and it spread like wildfire. SHAME is another biggie. Why is there such a stigma around infertility? IS it that despite the numbers showing that 35% of infertility is male related, 35% unexplained and 30% female related, it is still thought of as mostly a women’s problem? Why can’t we tell our families, our co-workers our friends we have known since grade school? Why do too few women and men utilize infertility support groups? Because there is no pink ribbon for the broken uterus. There is no national banding together, three day walk to raise money, sweatshirts, hats, water bottles or commercials of women smiling and holding hands.
Infertility is silent. And with that silence comes so much suffering. We are taught not to tell anyone of a pregnancy until at least 12 weeks just in case we lose it. We allow ourselves approximately ten minutes of rejoicing before we rein it in and focus on worrying about/goggling every side cramp and hiccup. We do this mostly by ourselves so that we don’t have to make anyone feel badly for asking, if we do have a miscarriage. WHAT? Didn’t you just experience a horrible loss? Shouldn’t people, all people, be compassionate about that? Shouldn’t people be able to look you in the eye and say, “I am so sorry”? Every woman who has walked into my office has been weighed down by carrying the responsibility for “the infertility”, whether anyone expressly told them to or not.
Women come in twisted in knots. They are holding everything in so tightly you could bounce a quarter off their backs. We work on off- loading. We work on letting go. We work on unclenching fists and breathing, which is hard to do when your heart is in your throat! Slowly.. they begin to tell people. One person at a time and the person often whispers…”me too”. Lasting connections are forged. Vulnerability means letting yourself be truly seen by another. It means being brave when you least want to be.
Allow yourself a day where you just stay in bed with the curtains closed and then GET UP. Call a friend, make a date for tea or a walk. Do yoga. Seriously, do not worry about the fact that you do not have the most recent Lulu Lemon top! Get in that yoga studio with other people and begin to thaw. Allow someone into the deep, dark, corners of your grief. You will see you are not alone.
Lindsay Agne, LICSW, developed Full Circle after working as a social worker for many years in the fields of surrogacy, infertility and medical social work. Lindsay spent five years at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston as a medical social worker and covered OBGYN units as well as post -partum and NICU support. Lindsay also worked for six years for Circle Surrogacy, a full service surrogacy and egg donation program in Boston. Full Circle began as a way for Lindsay to begin to help people on an individual basis. Lindsay listens to each individual story and develops an action plan to begin to address many of the issues right away. Lindsay uses a systemic approach to therapy that involves: talk therapy, coaching, nutritional assessment, and exercise evaluation as well as referrals to psychiatrists, acupuncturists and new mother groups.
Contributed by freelance writer.
While some women can conceive without any problems, others are not so lucky. Those in the latter group can attest to the frustration and disappointment associated with trying different procedures to no avail. Not surprisingly, the stress of being unable to conceive often worsens the situation.
Female hormone imbalance
Doctors have recently discovered that having female hormone imbalance significantly affects a woman’s ability to conceive. Hormones are chemical messengers in the body whose main duties include regulating the reproductive system and influencing other processes in the body.
The primary sex hormones in women are estrogen and progesterone. These two are mainly produced by the ovaries although other body tissues supply small amounts. In healthy women, estrogen and progesterone exist in proper amounts and ratios, helping to maintain reproductive health.
Female hormone imbalance occurs when the delicate balance between these two hormones is altered. This can be due to a variety of causes, including endocrine disorders, drug use (including oral contraceptives and cancer medicines), perimenopause and other lifestyle factors such as sleep deprivation, stress, poor diet, obesity and lack of exercise.
Since both estrogen and progesterone play a key role in regulating a woman’s menstrual cycle, a hormonal imbalance directly affects her fertility. This then makes it hard for her to conceive. In most cases, female hormone imbalance can be treated using medication supplemented by changes in the woman’s diet and overall lifestyle.
Nowadays, medical practitioners are raising awareness on the important role that fitness plays in achieving optimal hormone balance in the body. The simplest way to keep fit is through exercising. Regular exercise is especially invaluable for overweight or obese women. This is because keeping fit helps the body to break down and burn excess fat, allowing a woman to achieve her ideal weight and balancing her female hormones in the process.
Additionally, exercising boosts the woman’s libido, increasing her chances of conceiving. As she sheds more weight, she becomes more confident and happy with her appearance. Exercises also trigger the release of endorphins in the body. These are special chemicals that assist in combating stress and aiding relaxation, both crucial components when it comes to conception.
Furthermore, a fitness routine strengthens core body muscles, helping it to get ready for the strains of pregnancy, labor and delivery. This means that a fit woman is less likely to develop complications during pregnancy and while giving birth. In order to reap the most benefit, women are advised to incorporate a variety of exercises into their daily schedules.
A fitness regime has to be complemented with a balanced diet. Women who are having trouble conceiving need to cut back on refined carbohydrates and sugars. These unhealthy foods provide empty calories and increase harmful cholesterol in the body. They should be replaced with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and vegetable proteins. Dairy products such as cheese, whole milk and cream ought to be taken in moderation.
In addition to keeping fit, women who are trying to conceive need to avoid alcohol and smoking, as these substances often have a negative impact on their fertility.
Well another snow storm is suppose to hit Charlotte this week, but that’s not putting a damper on my day. Why? Because of these two wonderful success stories I received recently. I wanted to share them with you because they filled me with hope and joy when I read them. We all need a little encouragement, so here’s your daily dose!
The first one is from McKenzie. She says,
I just wanted to share my good news with you. I have been using your programs for the past year going through infertility treatments. I used the IUI/IVF program for 4 IUI’s (all of which failed unfortunately) and my first IVF cycle last month, which resulted in a BFP!!! I am so excited and in shock actually. I am almost 5 weeks pregnant so it’s really early but I’m so relieved. I just wanted to tell you the program helped me relax and visualize what was happening during my IVF and was a great source of comfort to me during the cycle as well as for retrieval and transfer. Thank you for making this program.
Congratulations McKenzie, and thank you so much for sharing your story with us.
I KNOW that your program was the thing that made the difference for me in helping me to conceive. Stress has always had a huge impact in my life, and I had this gut feeling to give your program a try, and I am not even kidding, it worked the first cycle.
I really love your program and have recommended it to all my ttc friends. I am now 12 weeks pregnant, and I can’t believe it! It took us over two years. Thank you so much, and I just wanted you to know.
We are so happy for you Valerie!
If you have a success story to share, please comment below so your story can give hope and inspiration to our community. We would all love to hear from you! And please email me if you have any questions, thoughts, or if I can help with anything.
Guest blog by Smita Parikh, MD, founder of The Fertility Advisor.
Just two years ago, I sat in a corner at my nephew’s first birthday party with a fake smile plastered on my face as kids buzzed by me and a sing along was taking place. What should have been a fun and happy occasion was a reminder to me that it was exactly one year since my husband and I had been trying to get pregnant. For most, this wouldn’t have been a big deal, but as a physician, I knew that if we were unsuccessful after one year of trying, it meant the dreaded diagnosis of “infertility.”
Unfortunately, the “what if” scenarios quickly filled my mind and my anxiety and sadness overtook my ability to be rational about our situation. From my medical training, I knew there could potentially be a gazillion blood tests, scans and injection medications ahead of us. I was completely paralyzed at the thought of it. To make things worse, both my husband and I were working 80 hours a week. How and when would we find the time to figure this all out?
Our journey to parenthood certainly took a lot longer than I had hoped for. Between finding the right reproductive endocrinologist (we saw about 4 docs) and researching what our best treatment options were it was incredibly overwhelming, time consuming, and emotionally exhausting. Each month it seemed like I was just throwing my money away and trying something different from changing my diet, to purchasing supplements and fertility herbs, to having consultations with doctors across the country. As I read through blogs and forums on infertility, it was clear to me that many others were just as confused as I was.
Looking back, I would have given anything to have a trusted source provide me with both emotional support and an unbiased idea of ALL of the potential treatment options for us (i.e. what types of things actually work?) A guide who could save me the time and effort of sifting through all of the information we received from our doctors, alternative healthcare providers, and the Internet. And thus, the idea of “The Fertility Advisor” was born. I quickly realized that I had the skillset to be that person for others – with the combination of my medical background and all of the research I had done from my personal experience, I could help clients access, comprehend and process all of the relevant information to tackle infertility.
As a fertility coach, I work with clients by breaking down the entire experience – from educating them about tools that can help them cope emotionally and deal with stress (such as the C+B programs) to providing a personalized roadmap of potential scientifically valid alternative and medical treatment options so that clients can regain a sense of control and feel ready and prepared to take on this challenging journey.
Since fertility coaching is a relatively new concept, I invite potential clients to learn more by contacting me for a complimentary coaching session.
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.
Guest Blog by Melissa Hubbard.
As your beloved baby bump grows, you’re getting closer and closer to the arrival of your dear little one. As your baby grows, however, so do back aches and pain in the pelvic area, joints and ligaments. No matter what kind of shape you’re in, the excess weight of pregnancy can create muscle tension and lower back pressure because of your curving spine. Gaiam Life explains that because of significant growth in one central area (the uterus), your body becomes unbalanced, which can cause discomfort and strain on the neck, shoulders and back muscles.
Although it may be a low-grade back pain, an understanding and healthy response can provide a sense of control over the condition. Appropriate exercise designed to support a sensitive area can enhance your well-being. If you don’t already have an exercise regimen, start exercising regularly to help relieve pain, promote proper alignment and strengthen you body. You can find many helpful exercise, diet and overall healthy lifestyle tips at Laser Spine Institute’s wellness blog.
Stretching and yoga postures can help stabilize joints and provide pain relief. Keep in mind to always move cautiously and slowly to prevent injury. Also, check with your doctor before performing the following yoga sequence by FitSugar.
- Wide-legged forward bend: Stand with feet three to four feet apart, and fold over at the hips while breathing. Hold onto your elbows, and let your torso hang to loosen tight hips and hamstrings.
- Kneeling hamstring stretch: Sit on one leg’s shin, and straighten out the other leg. While keeping hips square, reach for your straightened leg and hold five breaths for hamstring isolation; alternate.
- Butterfly: Release tension in tight hips by sitting on the floor with bent knees, and touch your feet together. Breath five times, and fold forward for a deep stretch.
- Pigeon: Open the hips from butterfly, and extend one leg behind you. Pull the heel of your bent leg in toward the pelvis. Keep breathing with your torso lifted, or stretch over the bent leg.
Kegel exercises are pelvic floor muscle contractions that strengthen the muscles, support the uterus and bladder and even help with an easier birth. To do a Kegel, tighten the muscles around your vagina like you’re trying to stop the flow of urine while going to the bathroom. Hold while counting to four, release and repeat for a total of 10 times. Baby Center recommends doing three to four sets of Kegels about three times a day.
The squat position improves pelvic flexibility and strengthens your thighs. Yoga instructor Hilaria Baldwin also recommends the squatting pose because it can help with a smooth delivery by strengthening the lower body and abdomen, opening the birth canal and preventing tearing. With your feet hips-distance apart and toes facing outward, bend your knees and lower into a squat position. Form a prayer position with your hands, and place elbows on the inner thighs. Pull shoulder blades together, and sit tall with a lifted chest and relaxed shoulders while deeply inhaling and exhaling 10 times. Then push legs to a rising position and repeat.
Melissa Hubbard dedicated herself to living an active, healthy lifestyle eight years ago, and she’s never felt better. She writes health and wellness articles for a number of blogs.
Whoa is it cold here! Don’t I live in the south? Certainly doesn’t feel like it…but I suppose comparatively to some parts of the country, it’s downright balmy here. We actually got some a bit of snow in North Carolina, which is on its third day of staying on the ground. So bizarre!
Of course, this meant two very unexpected snow days with no school for my girls – which of course they were beyond excited about. While the bump in our routine was the fun kind, it got me thinking about how we deal with the unexpected–the fun and the not so fun.
The reason unexpected change can be so difficult is because its completely outside our control. Suddenly you’re forced into a new situation where you’re not sure what to do and you’ve had no time to plan. It can be stressful, and that’s why many of us say “I don’t like change.”
But change, even the difficult and unexpected kind, doesn’t have to be feared. Here are 3 tips that I find work for me when all of a sudden something in my life has changed and I have to adapt.
1. Don’t panic, and don’t act quickly.
Of course you’re going to feel some strong emotions when facing unexpected change. But rather than panic, make yourself recognize that these feelings are temporary and will not be your long-term feelings. Be still, and don’t make any quick decisions.
Allow your mind to process things. Unless its an emergency situation you don’t need to make important decisions before you’ve had time to process your initial emotions, so be patient and wait until the first onslaught of emotions have passed.
2. Now, prepare and move forward.
Change catches us by surprise, so it appears bad. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Now that you know change has happened, start preparing for actually dealing with it.
I’ve found that it can be very empowering to go about it by acting as if you were creating the change yourself. If this was all part of your plan, what would you do? How would you do it? This will help clarify things and remove that element of doubt that comes with having to react to the unexpected.
3. Look for the opportunity.
Once you’ve had time to think about and process your situation, look deeper. Instead of viewing unexpected change as a setback or undesirable challenge, re-frame and ask empowering questions like these:
“What else will this allow me to do?”
“Where is the potential value in this new situation?”
“What will it take of me to get around this setback? Who can I become?”
I’m fully confident that even when setbacks happen, they are not forever. How you deal with unexpected changes, however, can set you up for a future of successes. Embrace change, uncertainties and the unexpected as a way to grow.
I won’t lie, I still find dealing with unexpected change a struggle. But the tips above have worked for me, and I would love to hear from you about how you deal with the unexpected so I can have more strategies to use. Email me or comment below to let me know!
And as always, I would love to hear from you if you have any questions or would like to share anything going on in your life right now.
Guest Blog by Tanya Selvaratnam, author of ‘The Big Lie’.
I got the idea for The Big Lie after my third miscarriage at the age of 40 in fall 2011. I wrote the book that I wished I could have read then. In the book, I explore many Big Lies. The Big Lie is that we can do things on our own timetables. The Big Lie is that we can manipulate evolution. The Big Lie is that we don’t need feminism anymore.
Frustrated not so much by the lack of information but by the conflicting messages in the media, I wanted to explore how delaying motherhood intersects with science, feminism, evolution, popular culture, female friendships, global economics, and more. When I started writing, I had no idea how my own situation would evolve, and I was completely unprepared for the logistical and emotional roller coaster my life would become. The book is part memoir and part manifesto. I offer my personal story to connect to while presenting up-to-date research, interviews with experts and women around the country, action items for the future, and a comprehensive list of resources.
In this excerpt of Chapter 4, I introduce you to the moment I stepped for the first time into a fertility center. I hope that the experiences and thoughts I recount resonate with many of you. When I began pursuing treatment, I turned to Circle + Bloom and Your Fertility Deals. I joined the mailing list, and in spring 2012, I downloaded the Discover Your Mind Body Power podcast. By winter 2013, after it was clear that my original plans were not working out, after dealing with cancer, surgery, and marriage issues on top of the failed pregnancies and fertility treatments, I was downloading the Healing and Recovery podcast.
When I walked into the Fertility Center at Massachusetts General Hospital on September 7, 2011—just a week after my third D&C—I was stuck in a continuum of loss. The first pregnancy had brought me joy then heartbreak. The second and third ones were accompanied by fear, which I suppressed until my anxiety was ultimately proven justified. One miscarriage felt like a disappointment; three felt like a curse. I began to mull over the mistakes I had made in my life and wonder if past or even occasional transgressions had resulted in my not being able to carry a baby to term.
All my life, I’ve put one foot in front of the other and prepared for various possible futures. I’ve seen the options and kept going with which- ever one became most real. What I’ve done is not as important as what I will do. But maybe what I’ve done is preventing me from having a child. Becoming a mother was a role I shirked throughout my childhood, teens, and twenties. Then I met Jay, and motherhood seemed desirable and fun because I had a partner I wanted to have a child with.
Now Jay and I were sitting in the office of Dr. Irene Souter as a couple with fertility problems. Dr. McGaraghan, my ob/gyn, had warned me that the biggest obstacle to having a successful pregnancy would be my age. Why had I waited so long to see a specialist? Why hadn’t my previous doctors referred me to one earlier? In a survey conducted by Merck (the pharmaceutical giant) and RESOLVE (the national infertility association) of fifty-seven participants, 91 percent of those seeing a fertility specialist wished that they had gone earlier.1
I remember the feeling of heaviness between Jay and me that day. We were in the world of infertility now. Our courtship and marriage had been so exciting and full of love, but the failed pregnancies came soon into our union and kept coming. A 2010 SELF magazine article on breaking the silence around infertility quoted a man named Jack who was pursuing fertility treatments with his wife: “It’s almost impossible to convey what it’s like to people who haven’t gone through it. There’s a feeling of despair and loss that you just can’t quantify. So much weight is on the line, so many questions about genetics and identity and what it means to pass that down—or not.”2
Is it worth trying so hard to have a child? What are Jay and I missing out on now by focusing so much on our fertility? Will he still love me if I don’t have a child? How do I find the words to talk to him about this?
When Jay and I walked into the waiting room on September 7, everyone looked depressed. There was no art on the walls. I wished they would make these places look more happy. In her office, Dr. Souter told me that because it was so soon after my miscarriage, I would have to wait until my period returned to begin the recurrent miscarriage tests. Jay would have to be tested as well, and we set up his blood work and semen analysis appointments for later that week.
Did I really want to be a mother? And why does it feel like we have to jump through so many hoops to become one? Wouldn’t it be great and logical if there were more support systems (like universal insurance coverage for fertility treatments) in place for those of us going through the process of having children and more support systems (like subsidized childcare) for those who are already parents?
At one point I had a free subscription to Good Housekeeping, and I actually read every issue. Ellen DeGeneres was on the October 2011 cover. I really like Ellen, so I immediately opened the magazine. In it was an article called “Crisis Control” by Mark Matousek, which began with boilerplate suggestions like acknowledging your pain, dialectical thinking, deep breathing, and yoga; but it ended with the concept of “Focus on Faith”— that the ability to turn one’s confusion over to a higher power and to find solace in psalms is a boon when the chips are down.
My pondering got me thinking about the problems women face in confronting their realities. Too often, they are expected to tough it out or turn to faith. Believing will help you have that child. Believing will ease your burden. I will live the life that I have been given.
But this is fatalism, I thought. If you believe that, then you might as well believe that babies are dropped down chimneys.
Those years of failing to become a mother had given me time to think hard about what I wanted. They had also sparked an intense desire for . . . I don’t know, success at having a child. Now, I want so much to have a child that I will be destroyed if it doesn’t work out.
Today, I’m still on the Circle + Bloom mailing list because I consider myself a survivor, part of a community, and I believe it’s good to stay informed about the topics that Circle + Bloom covers. At the moment, one year out from the endpoint of the book, I am still healing, but after working on the book, I have found fulfillment in ways I couldn’t have imagined when I started writing it.
In the Discover Your Mind Body Power podcast, Joanne Verkuilen tells us, “The brain is one of the most powerful tools for health that you have.” I hope my book arms women, and men, with better information so that they feel like they can make better choices. I want people to share their stories, strategize for their goals, and advocate for a better future. I wrote the book to be a conversation-starter and policy-changer.
A great compliment is when readers tell me that they felt like they were on the journey with me and that they find the book unexpectedly uplifting. I also love it when they tell me that the book opens their minds and impacts their decisions. I hope you enjoy the excerpt and thank you for reading! I would love to hear from you, so please send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tanya Selvaratnam is a writer, an actor, a producer, and an activist. She has produced work by Chiara Clemente, Catherine Gund, Mickalene Thomas, and Carrie Mae Weems; and has performed with The Wooster Group and The Builders Association. She is also the Communications & Special Projects Officer for the Rubell Family Collection. As an activist, she has worked with the Ms. Foundation for Women, the Third Wave Foundation, the NGO Forum on Women, and the World Health Organization. Her book The Big Lie: Motherhood, Feminism, and the Reality of the Biological Clock is available worldwide. For more info, please visit tanyaturnsup.com
Guest Blog by Nancy Parker.
When it comes to command of your body, your diet plays a very important role. The adage, “You are what you eat” is true in every sense of the statement. Everything you put into your body is used in order to be as healthy or as unfit as you want. Even fertility can be increased by eating the right kinds of foods. This isn’t saying that eating well will allow you to have triplets, but it will increase your chances of having a baby with your partner.
Proteins – Consuming more lean proteins can help your body develop the necessary components for having a baby. Those rich in omega-3 fatty acids not only improve your physical health, but they can help in ovulation as well as sperm production. In addition, try getting your proteins from alternative sources such as plants. Some of these could include:
- Virtually any fish, but salmon is the most common
- Lean Beef
- Grass-fed Cow Dairy Products
- Wild rice
One way to look at the situation is: the healthier you are, the healthier your baby will become. Don’t over eat the above foods, but make sure you include them in your diet.
Zinc – Foods heavy in zinc have been found to be greatly beneficial to both men and women in order to increase fertility. Foods heavy in this mineral can provide a great boost in the chances of becoming pregnant. Coincidentally, many of these foods are also present for other aspects of health:
- Seafood: Various seafood are high in zinc, but three ounces of oysters can provide you with more than four times of what you need in a day. However, not all fish are beneficial when trying to conceive. Some fish can be very dangerous when consumed by women who are pregnant or who are trying to conceive due to high levels of mercury. Mercury can stay in your system for up to a year, so steer clear of mercury filled fish.
- Lean Beef: As well as providing a great source of iron, lean beef can help build your levels of zinc.
- Spinach: Although it’s healthier for you cooked, raw spinach can provide a great deal of nutritional value.
- Chocolate: While you may not think it’s healthy, the proper servings of chocolate can provide a great deal of value to a healthy body. Many professionals believe it’s in the top 10 for foods containing zinc.
- Mushrooms: Adding mushrooms to your meals can increase various aspects of your health. They can be a great source of zinc as well as other minerals and vitamins.
Antioxidants – Increasing your intake of antioxidants can help reduce physical ailments as well as help prepare your body for fertility. Many illnesses can prevent you from conceiving during peak ovulation periods. Eating foods such as berries, oranges, and other fruits will not only help keep you in prime condition, but they can also improve the quality of sperm in order to help fertilization. The more healthy the male is, the more healthy his sperm is. This is especially true for foods that are rich in vitamin C.
Being overweight can be detrimental to conceiving a child. Eating healthier is a prime component of maintaining a proper weight for yourself as well as helping you conceive a child. Provide an ideal environment for your baby in the womb. Your body will be its home for the next nine months.
Nancy Parker is a regular contributor to www.enannysource.com and she loves to write about wide range of subjects like health, Parenting, Child Care, Babysitting, nanny background check tips etc. You can reach her @ nancy.parker015 @ gmail.com
Image from LiveLiving.org
“All healing is first a healing of the heart.” – Carl Townsend
I hope all is well and your new year is off to a great start! Do you have anything you want to share with me? Any questions, concerns, or stories? Please do email me and let me know.
This time of year always makes me think of renewal and re-energizing. A fresh new year deserves a fresh new start, right? But a lot of the time we carry emotional wounds from previous experiences that we might not even be aware we are still holding onto, and that makes the process of renewing yourself pretty difficult.
So, in order to really get the year off to a good start I invite you to try to following exercise with me.
1. Find a quite moment to sit or lay down by yourself. Let your mind wander, and as it does don’t try to redirect it away from any negative thoughts or remembering bad experiences. Recognize those thoughts, and let them take place.
Take time to acknowledge any pain or sadness. Don’t rush to move away from the uncomfortable feelings. Give yourself space to feel.
2. Once you recognize any pain you may be holding on to, be kind to yourself. Don’t judge yourself for having this wound. You wouldn’t judge someone for having a scar on their body, right? Don’t judge yourself for having emotional scars.
Try to treat yourself as you would treat others, because we are often much kinder to others then we are to ourselves. If someone else were feeling how you feel, what would you say to them? This is also what you should say to yourself.
Feeling good, and being happy are not the only experiences worth having. All experiences have value. Once you find the value it is a lot easier to move on with a lighter heart and a more renewed soul.
Please let me know if doing the above exercise helped you at all, and if it did what are you planning to tackle now that you are renewed and re-energized?
When Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel stated that, “We must not see any person as an abstraction. Instead, we must see in every person a universe with its own secrets, with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish, and with some measure of triumph,” he could have also added, “with its own physical responses,” as no two people react exactly the same way to any situation – emotionally or physically. And this too is the case with infertility treatment.
There are numerous reasons why a woman may be infertile. To fulfill the dream of parenthood, science has discovered many different methods to improve the chances of becoming pregnant by addressing the specific causes of the infertility. However, with every infertility treatment you have both the intended consequences or rather physical changes to the body that will allow you to become pregnant as well as other not unintended consequences but rather unavoidable consequences that may occur as part of the treatment.
We are all aware of the fact that the human body is a complex machine where everything has its purpose. Its parts do not act independently, and the optimal operation of the body as a whole is dependent on every organ playing its part (pardon the pun) as designed. Mess with one part of this complex jigsaw puzzle and you affect every part. It follows from this that when looking to influence the body during fertility treatment, there will more than likely be physical changes.
Causes of Infertility, Treatments and Physical Effects
Causes of infertility in women can be broadly categorized as follows:
- Problems associated with ovulating
- Blocked or damaged tubes
- Unexplained infertility
Treatments for these causes include drugs that stimulate that release of hormones needed to cause ovulation, drugs that lower blood sugar levels, as well as other types of hormones.
Physical effects from infertility treatments include:
- Enlarged ovaries and abdominal discomfort
- Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, increased abdominal gas, or shortness of breath
- Hot flashes
- Blurred vision
- Breast tenderness
- Hair loss
- Lactic acidosis which can ultimately be fatal but is very rare
Physical changes following surgery to unblock or fix damaged tubes are limited to the area of the operation. Similarly, the effects from procedures to treat endometriosis and insemination are limited to the area on which the surgical procedure is performed and cramping respectively.
Achieving the dream of parenthood by undergoing infertility treatment does not come easy – and that is even before the pregnancy. All the effects mentioned above affect women to a different extent. The physical changes may not be comfortable or fun but they are rarely life-threatening and the reward at the end of a successful process will more than compensate for any discomfort.
One of my New Years resolutions is to declutter. If you’re anything like me, your in constant battle with clutter. Seriously, where does all that stuff come from?? If you need help figuring out how to win the clutter battle, I recommend checking out Zen Habit’s 15 Great Decluttering Tips.
But here’s something you may not have thought of. Decluttering your mind is just as important as decluttering your space. Just like your shelves, your closest and your cabinets seem to inexplicably fill up with stuff, so does your mind. The world of stresses and worries and errands and projects that we must all endure prevents our mind from finding calm and balance.
Luckily for us, Zen Habits also has a helpful list for how to go about decluttering your mind so you can allow it to relax and bloom Here are their 15 tips (I’ve shortened them a bit, be sure to check out their site for the list in its entirety).
1. Breathe. So simple, and yet so effective. Take a few deep breaths, and then for a few minutes, just focus on your breathing. Concentrate on your breathing as it comes into your body, and then as it goes out. It has a calming effect, especially if you continue to return your focus to your breath when your mind strays. It also allows other thoughts to just float away. (Note: some people might call this meditation, but that word scares some people off, so we’re just going to call it breathing.)
2. Write it down. If you have a bunch of things on your mind, it helps to get them on paper and off your mind…This keeps your head from being filled with everything you need to do and remember.
3. Identify the essential. This one is practically a mantra here at Zen Habits…because it’s crucial to everything I write about: if you want to simplify or declutter, the first step is identifying what is most important. In this case, identify what is most important in your life, and what’s most important for you to focus on right now. Make a short list for each of these things.
4. Eliminate. Now that you’ve identified the essential, you can identify what’s not essential. What things in your life are not truly necessary or important to you? What are you thinking about right now that’s not on your short list? By eliminating as many of these things as possible, you can get a bunch of junk off your mind.
5. Journal. Similar to “write it down” above, but with a little more depth. Journaling (whether it’s in a paper journal or online doesn’t matter) helps you explore different areas of your life that you don’t think about much. And this exploration might allow you to find some things on your mind that you didn’t realize were there, some things that can be eliminated or pursued. And just getting these thoughts into some kind of a journal is a way of getting them out of your mind as well.
6. Rethink your sleep. Sometimes we aren’t getting enough sleep, or our sleeping patterns aren’t ideal. I’m not saying that you should change your sleeping patterns, but sometimes it can do wonders. And if you don’t give it some thought, you won’t realize how much your sleep (or lack thereof) is affecting you.
7. Take a walk. Getting outside and doing some kind of physical activity is a great way to get stuff off your mind. I like to run or do yardwork, but whatever you do doesn’t matter. Spending some physical energy clears the mind.
8. Watch less TV. For me, television doesn’t relax me, although it might seem that vegging in front of the TV is good for relaxation. TV fills your head with noise, without the redeeming qualities of music or reading or good conversation. Watch less TV, and you’ll notice your mind begin to quieten.
9. Get in touch with nature. Similar to “take a walk” above, but without the bustle of activity. I like to go somewhere with water … the ocean, a river, a lake, even just a man-made fountain if nothing else is available. Or watching rain does the trick for me too. Somehow this can be calming and focusing at the same time.
10. Do less. Take your to-do list and cross off half the things on it. Just pick a few things to get done today, and focus on those. Let the rest go away. If you do less, you’ll have less on your mind.
11. Go slower. Seems kinda weird, I know, but walking and talking and working and driving slower can make a very big difference. It’s kind of like you’re saying, “I’m not willing to rush through life, no matter what artificial time demands others are putting on me. I want to take it at my pace.” And as a result, your mind is less harried as well.
12. Let go. Worrying about something? Angry about somebody? Frustrated? Harboring a grudge? While these are all natural emotions and thoughts, none of them are really necessary. See if you can let go of them. More difficult than it sounds, I know, but it’s worth the effort.
13. Declutter your surroundings. I’ve mentioned this before, but decluttering my desk or my home have a way of calming me. Having a lot of stuff around you is just visual clutter — it occupies part of your mind, even if you don’t realize it.
14. Single-task. Multi-tasking, for the most part, is a good way to fill your mind with a lot of activity without a lot of productivity or happiness as a result. Instead, try to single-task — just focus on one task at a time. Clear away everything else, until you’re done with that task. Then focus on the next task, and so on.
15. Get a load off. Sometimes it can make a huge difference to unload our troubles on another human being. If you have a significant other or a best friend or a close family member or coworker … unload your thoughts on them. And listen to them, to return the favor. Sure, it’s just talk … but it can make a huge difference to your mental sanity.
What are your favorite ways to declutter your mind? Share in the comments!
Guest Blog by Michelle Ramone, a write-from-home blogger and mother of three from New England.
Relax! You can do this. Millions of women before you have received in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to conceive their children. Sure, there are going to be some things that are new to you and a bit scary. You’ll be getting pregnant through science rather than the natural way, so there’s bound to be some things you don’t understand. Don’t worry. Whatever medicine you’re taking, procedure you’re having, or symptom you’re experiencing, some woman somewhere has shared the same experience. If you’re going through IVF for the first time and are nervous about it, here are three tips to keep you cool as a cucumber (and being relaxed is good for the baby, too!).
1. Plan Ahead for the Costs
IVF is expensive. No one is disputing that at all. If you’re just starting out on the road to doing IVF, you probably know about the main costs already. Most fertility clinics offer package deals that include all or parts of the IVF procedure. However, these packages almost never include medications, and there may be some other extra costs along the way, too. Anesthesia for the egg retrieval procedure, assisted hatching of eggs, intro-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), and other things like that can greatly add to the overall cost.
When you say yes to doing IVF, make sure you get a breakdown of the cost of everything from your fertility clinic, and ask if financial help is available for any of it. Some medicines have discount programs based on income, like Compassionate Care. You’ll be able to plan your budget for the whole procedure better this way, without any financial surprises coming up mid-way through that could throw your whole pregnancy plan off schedule.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Never have something done to you that you don’t understand. Ask questions as they come to you (and they will come). If you’re concerned about the risks of a certain procedure or medicine, if you want to know your real chance of getting pregnant the first try with IVF based on the clinic’s percentages, or even if you just want to know what a certain term means, ask. Ask your nurse or doctor while you’re at the clinic and call to speak with your IVF coordinator on the phone if a question comes to you when you’re not there. You’ll feel more empowered and in control of the procedure and much more at ease about the whole thing if you’re completely informed about everything you’re doing. Fertility clinic personnel are used to answering questions of all sorts, so don’t be shy about asking about things as often as you desire.
3. Learn the Symptoms of Your Medications and of Pregnancy
You’re going to be on a lot of medications for a couple of months. These medications are to get your body ready for pregnancy. A lot of them are hormone-based or manipulate your own hormones. Side effects are not uncommon. In fact, they are to be expected. For example, the medication you take to suppress ovulation until your scheduled egg retrieval can cause hot flashes like those experienced in menopause. Once your embryos are made and transferred to your womb, there’s a two week wait until you can take a pregnancy test. However, you may experience pregnancy symptoms before then. Learn these symptoms and other common conditions associated with your medications and pregnancy, and do your research. Staying informed will make you more prepared for each new experience.
Guest Blog by Elizabeth Reed, a freelance writer and a resident blogger at Liveinnanny.org.
One thing I have struggled with throughout my life is the idea of being perfect. I always tried to do everything perfectly, be everything to everyone, and just have a perfect life. Unfortunately, many things in my life did not cooperate with my idea of perfection. My menstrual cycle, my fertility level, and even my age when I got married were less than perfect.
However as I have matured through these difficulties I discovered something. Something my husband really helped me with. When we first met and were dating he would always apologize to me for not being perfect.
“But you are perfect,” I would tell him, “Perfect for me!”
After a few times of saying that, and after sticking with him long enough through the hard times, he finally believed me. But I also learned to listen to myself. It wasn’t my IDEA of perfection that mattered. It was what WORKED for me.
I never imagined being as old as I was when I got married. I never imagined marrying a man like I did. But now I can’t imagine anyone else ever taking his place and I know I would not have been ready for marriage before then.
The same idea holds true for my difficulties in having children. I was always frustrated by my irregular menstrual cycles and other physical complications. However when I found out that it interfered with my ability to have children on my ‘perfect’ schedule I was livid. I had a plan to stick to and my body was not cooperating with me! How dare it?
For a long time I struggled and stressed and made myself sick over my obsession with having children. We tried everything we could afford to try to no success. Finally I gave into the idea that I may have to just adopt a baby. I was tired of trying and even more tired of failing.
I cycled into a deep depression. Everything felt hopeless to me. If I couldn’t be perfect, if my life couldn’t be perfect, than what was the point of it all? Looking back it seems overly dramatic but you can’t help feeling what you feel.
I eventually got some professional help and learned to change my thinking. By becoming aware of the negative thoughts that constantly hounded me for not being perfect I was able to replace them with reminders to keep me going. Two things really helped me a lot.
“You are loved.”
“There is nothing to fear.”
Fear of imperfection, fear of losing the love of my husband and family, fear of never having the child I dreamed of all kept me in a state of panic. During this time my menstrual cycle was more messed up than it had been since I was a teenager. However when I finally began to think in a healthy way my body began to act in a healthy way.
I am not saying that everything magically got better from one day to the next. It didn’t. It took time and many changes for things to get better in my life. But it all started with thinking healthy.
From my thoughts came actions. I let go of the frantic pace I was holding on to. I took time to do things I enjoyed rather than things to impress other people or to make my life look perfect. I rested more, laughed more, slept more.
I even started traveling and seeing new things. I did not disregard my desire for a child, that was still there, but I focused on enjoying my life as it was. I did not need to have a child to have the perfect life for me.
That’s what I really discovered. That you CAN have the perfect life. For you. It may not be the world’s version of perfection. It may even have deliberate imperfections, but if it works for you and you are living your life instead of fighting it then you are on a healthy path.
Eventually I did have a child and discovered that I was happier to have a baby now than I would have ever been if it had all been easy. If I had never had to grow up and understand that I needed to let go of my idea of perfection than I would not be able to have the life I love with my child now. I can be a better mother, a better spouse and a better friend by letting go of perfect and embracing life.
Elizabeth Reed is a freelance writer and a resident blogger at Liveinnanny.org. She particularly enjoys writing about parenting, childcare, health and wellness. In addition, she is an expert consultant on issues related to household management and kids.
I have heard from so many of you about how Circle + Bloom has had a positive impact on your life and how you look forward to listening to our programs. I can not tell you how much these words of encouragement mean to me! I sincerely thank you for this.
We at Circle + Bloom would like to express our gratitude to you with our NEW Referral Program that just got way better and where everyone wins.
Sign up for our referral program today to receive your special link and then spread the love! As a big old thank you all your friends will get a 35% holiday discount (coupon expires 12/31/2013) on any of our programs and you will receive a cash payment equal to 15% of any purchase made by people who use your link. Exciting, right? Just our little thanks to you for all of the support you give us.
Start spreading the love today with your friends by sharing your link by email or on any of your social networks! Click here to sign up.
What is it about this time of year that brings out the best and the worst in us? For me, the best has been sharing the undeniable sense of Christmas cheer and spirit, decorating the house, getting the tree, moving “Buddy” every night (our Elf on the Shelf), etc.
The worst in me is this sense of the clock ticking louder and louder with each passing day. I absolutely hate that feeling!
Last weekend, it seemed we were running around without a minute to spare, but amongst it all, I was completely overtaken with the strongest creative urge to make these mini-Christmas trees, decorating them for each kid with all of their little trinkets, toys, colorful ribbon and mini lights. It felt like I was throwing caution to the wind in spending time making these as these were NOT on the to-do list.
But it felt SO GOOD.
I think to keep our sanity, let’s remember this important lesson: Find time for yourself. For me at that odd point in time, I needed to create those trees, and I am so happy I did.
Another way to keep our sanity? Why laughter, of course!
So, let me turn the blog over to our fav funny gal in the infertility world, Naomi over at 999 Reasons to Laugh at Infertility. She is the master at providing funny posts around the holidays for those TTC. So I hope you enjoy and that this puts a smile on your face.
#638 On the First Day of (Infertile) Christmas…
“On the first day of Infertile Christmas, my true love gave to me
male factor infertility.
On the second day of Infertile Christmas, my doctor sent to me
a bill for our failed fertility.
On the third day of Infertile Christmas, my mother said to me,
“Why aren’t you pregnant yet? We have a fertile family tree.”
On the fourth day of Infertile Christmas, cousin Sally said to me
She’ll announce her latest pregnancy after dessert and tea.
On the fifth day of Infertile Christmas, Aunt Bess offered her advice
“Just relax and it will happen” was her very helpful vice.
On the sixth day of Infertile Christmas, my period said to me
“I’m showing up on Christmas Day with evilness and glee.”
On the seventh day of Infertile Christmas, your little sister sang a tune
she is now three months pregnant from her honeymoon.
On the eighth day of Infertile Christmas, PCOS said to you,
“You won’t see ovulation until 2022.”
On the ninth day of Infertile Christmas, my mother said to me
“My friend’s daughter got pregnant after drinking some special tea.”
On the tenth day of Infertile Christmas, my fertility nurse said to me
“we’re closed during the holidays but you still owe us a fee.”
On the eleventh day of Infertile Christmas, your mother-in-law began to wave
“please make me a grandmother before I’m in the grave.”
On the twelfth day of Infertile Christmas, hope said to believe
that one day it will happen and you will conceive.
Whether you celebrate Christmas/Kwanzaa/Chanukah or Festivus, don’t let infertility ruin another holiday for you. You’ve wasted too many tears and too many special moments already. It’s time to celebrate your life right now.”
It’s suppose to be the most wonderful time of the year, but let’s not kid ourselves. It can also be the most stressful. Protect your sanity this holiday season with our simple guide!
1. Keep it simple
This is the time to be brutally honest with yourself. Is it really feasible (or healthy) for you to throw a holiday party for 50 people, attend 6 other holiday themed events, and run the office secret Santa while trying to buy gifts for everyone on your list? Probably not.
Don’t over-do it. Stick to doing one or two of your absolutely favorite or necessary tasks, and use the time you would have spent trying to accomplish everything else to spend some quality time having fun with those you love.
2. Find an outlet
Intrusive questioning from well-meaning family members can be incredibly stressful and painful, especially for those TTC. Have an outlet prepared so that when the inevitable happens you have a go-to method to defuse the situation.
Have a friend on speed dial, or a signal to your partner, so you can be sure to have someone who understands that you can vent to or talk with whenever you need an escape. Or simply allow yourself to remove yourself from a situation without feeling guilty about it. Take care of yourself, even if it means leaving the party to stand in the bathroom for a few minutes and take some deep breathes, or telling someone honestly you would rather not talk about it.
3. Me time
No matter how hectic your holidays are, take 15 minutes each and every day for yourself. It can be when you wake up, at any point in the day when your feeling especially stressed, or right before bed.
For those 15 minutes do whatever works best for you to recharge. Spend it meditating and relaxing. Spend it praying and truly connecting to the spirit of the season. Spend it thinking about all that you have to give thanks for. You’ll enjoy the benefits of relaxation and carry that renewed energy with you throughout your day.
Do you have any tips that help you stay sane during the holidays? Please share with us in the comments below. Here’s wishing you a wonderful and healthy holiday season!
“Thanksgiving is more than eating, Chuck. Those early Pilgrims were thankful for what had happened to them, and we should be thankful, too. We should just be thankful for being together. I think that’s what they mean by ‘Thanksgiving,’ Charlie Brown.” – Marcie
A lot can change in 3 years, but there are always things to be grateful for. Last week we shared our original 50 Things We’re Grateful For list from a few years ago, and this week we each wanted to share 10 things we’re thankful for right at this moment. It was a great way to explore how the blessings in our life have changed and grown. I always find it eye opening to sit down and realize the wonderful things we have in our life. I encourage you to take a few minutes after reading and share your own list of the things you are thankful for at this moment in the comments below!
Joanne’s Top 10
1. My family
2. My health and my family’s health
3. For this quote (my mantra): “I am the hole in the flute that God’s breath moves through…listen to this music.” ~ Hafiz
4. My journal
5. Making the decision to move to North Carolina (I finally feel “home”)
6. The gratitude we receive from our Circle+Bloom customers
7. CrossFit and pushing myself physically
8. My spiritual and self-development advisory group: Ekhart Tolle and Brene Brown
9. The growing ability within myself to choose love over fear
10. Family movie nights and having dinner with my family
Sue’s Top 10
1. Tucker – our new puppy
2. My health and my family’s health
3. Friday night date night with my husband
4. My ability to surrender to God and let him lead the way
5. The beautiful sunset
6. The crisp fall days of New England
7. My son’s successful transition to college
8. My daughter’s infectious high-energy, happy attitude
9. My ability to work from home
10. And last but not least – Circle + Bloom!
The programs make great gifts for women who lead or want to lead a healthy life or who are trying to conceive. The discount also makes it a good time to buy one of our programs for your personal list.
To receive the discount simply use the discount code Holidays35 at time of checkout to receive 35% off on your entire order!
This deal is only for a limited time, so take advantage of it now! Plus, our programs should qualify for FSA (flexible spending account) reimbursement. FSA programs are spend it or lose it so you need to spend before the end of the year.
There is a Program For All The Women On Your List:
Energy for Empowerment Program
Know someone that is having trouble sleeping or would like more energy to get them through the day? This program is the perfect gift. Four unique mind-body guided visualizations that take you inside your body to help improve key components of energy; metabolism, endocrine circulation and sleep.
Happy Mind + Healthy Body Program
A 21-day program that taps into the power of your mind-body intelligence to empower better health, reduce stress, and create new wellness habits that will change your life forever. The perfect way to head into 2014.
Natural Cycle for Fertility Program
Start today to feel in greater control over your fertility success. This program includes 28 unique guided meditations – one for every day in your cycle- to support you in communicating with your body and tapping into your innate ability to create.
Prepare your body and your mind for a successful advanced medicated cycle. This program was designed to be listened to during your medicated cycle and includes 18 unique guided meditations to help produce the healthiest eggs possible, special sessions for the trigger/egg extraction, transfer procedure and getting you through two week-wait.
PCOS of Health Program
PCOS for Health is for those wishing to address the symptoms of PCOS using guided visualization, including insulin sensitivity and reduction, weight-loss, reduction of male androgens to minimize excessive hair growth, healthy circulation and reduction of depression.
Healthy Pregnancy and Delivery
NEWLY Expanded! An essential addition to your prenatal toolkit for a healthy pregnancy and fearless delivery with a program designed for each week of your first trimester and monthly thereafter. Our program gives you 15 minutes per day to use proven mind-body techniques to reduce stress and best balance and prepare your body throughout your entire pregnancy. A special session to use during delivery is also included in this program.
Be sure to check out all of our other programs as well! Our warmest wishes are with you this holiday season.
In gearing up for the Thanksgiving holiday we wanted to revisit one of our favorite holiday posts from a few years ago, our original 50 Things We Are Grateful For. Next week we’ll share some brand new things we’re thankful for. We thought it would be fun to see the progression of the wonderful things we gain in life with the passing of time. So read below, share your own list, and be sure to come back next week to see how our lists have changed
“Thanksgiving is more than eating, Chuck. Those early Pilgrims were thankful for what had happened to them, and we should be thankful, too. We should just be thankful for being together. I think that’s what they mean by ‘Thanksgiving,’ Charlie Brown.” – Marcie
There is lots of advice for the TTC community on how to deal through the holidays. How to navigate those questions from family members, asking you..and asking you…about when you plan on having children. Even worse, when they offer “well-meaning” advice.
Our suggestion is actually simple. Rather than being reactionary, try to think about the fact that this advice or questioning – unless you are dealing with a true sociopath – is most likely coming from a good place in their hearts. Try not to dwell so much on the conversation, but rise above and see the conversation from a different place. A place of love and trust – that those family members or friends truly do want the best for you. Draw from them all of that good energy and try to enjoy yourself.
Thanksgiving is actually my favorite holiday because it helps us to think of all of the things in our live that we should be grateful for. Sue and I both took the time to write our top 25…this is a personal list for each of us. Of course yours would be different. What is your top 25?
Joanne’s Top 25
1. My husband and soul-mate who supports me in every way possible
2. My healthy and happy children
6. A place where we relax, love and call home
7. The chance to create a company that is helping others in profound ways
8. My community
9. Books (and the library, where they let you take a stack of books for FREE)
10. The internet
11. Photography and the art of capturing memories
12. Our dog that brings my hubby and kids such joy
13. The changing seasons
14. The change in my attitude about exercising my body
15. Journaling and honing my writing skills
16. My 20/20 eyesight
17. Meditation and expressing gratitude
18. Netflix and Pandora
19. The help that we have received as a company from so many brilliant people
20. A great glass of wine
21. Crockpot dinner on a Sunday afternoon
22. Health of my family – now and continuing on
23. Challenges in life that has made me who I am
24. Our country, and the rising tide of the economy (we can dream, too!)
25. Helping others
Sue’s Top 25
1. My Friday night date night with my husband and my martini
2. Snuggling with my 4 year old
3. Hearing my 16 year old laugh
4. Circle + Bloom and the ability to have a job that does not feel like a job
5. My Faith which gets me through all that life brings
6. My Family and knowing no matter what they will accept me just as I am
7. My Health, and the health of my family
8. My Friends who don’t let me get away with saying “I am too busy”
9. The great outdoors, there is nothing better than a great hike in the woods
10. My sun filled office
11. My gas fireplace that I thought I could never like
12. That my stress comes from my every day life, not lack of food, shelter or political unrest
13. My Neighborhood
14. My book club
15. Food TV Network
16. The smell of a Christmas tree
17. My spin class and spin instructor who pushes me to my limits
18. Sunsets (sunrises are too early for me to enjoy!)
19. My comfy bed
20. DVR – what would I do without being able to fast forward through all the commercials
21. My i-phone
22. Knowing God is right by my side during the tough times of my life
23. My favorite pair of jeans, they never fail me no matter the occasion
24. Music – almost any kind!
YOUR TURN!! Please share…
Guest Blog by Dr. Bradley Miller, a Reproductive Endocrinologist.
Couples who are having difficulty conceiving go through an emotional rollercoaster. Generally, the woman is the one that initiates a conversation with her OB/GYN or primary care doctor stating her concerns. While some couples having been trying to conceive for several months or even years, others may only have been trying for one or two months and get worried that something might be wrong.
What To Bring To The Appointment
When an appointment with a fertility doctor is scheduled, it is recommended that you prepare the following:
- Detailed information regarding your medical history
- Lists and details of your medications, supplements, and vitamins
- Questions that you have regarding the fertility treatment process
It is important to note that women in their twenties have a 20-25 percent chance of conceiving each month and by the time the woman reaches age 35 it drops to less than 10 percent. While age does play a factor in your chance of success you can see that there is a high likelihood that it may take more than one or two months to conceive. Unfortunately, it may not happen as quickly as the couple may want.
Generally, the rule most reproductive endocrinologists follow is if the patient is under 35 years of age and has been trying to conceive for a year or more then they may want to schedule an appointment with a specialist. If the patient is 35 years of age or older and has been trying to conceive the time frame for encouraging an appointment with a specialist is at or near six months. Of course, if a woman is having other issues, such as a recent miscarriage or miscarriages, that would prompt a visit much sooner.
Dr. Bradley Miller is a Reproductive Endocrinologist who has been in practice for 18 years. Throughout his career over 2,000 babies have been born as a result of his care. He is the Managing Partner at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Michigan, one of the leading fertility centers in Michigan. Learn more about Dr. Miller and follow his blog to discover more answers to your infertility needs and questions.
It has always been my dream to start my own company. In many ways Circle + Bloom has been my third baby as I have loved it since the beginning when the idea for mind-body visualization programs for fertility came to me like a bolt of lightening. Just like anything that you love, you focus on it, nurture it, help it grow and hope it succeeds.
And it has…in so many incredible ways…the most important of course being the daily feedback we receive from women like you.
I have heard from so many of you about how Circle + Bloom has had a positive impact on your life and how you look forward to listening to our programs, and I can not tell you how much these words of encouragement mean to me! I sincerely thank you for this.
To help Circle + Bloom grow and continue to spread the mind-body revolution (wahoo!) to more and more people, we need you more than ever. So in addition to the amazing support you’ve already given me, I would like to ask you a favor.
If Circle + Bloom has had a positive impact on your life, would you please consider telling some of your friends about us?
If you want to introduce your friends to Circle + Bloom — if you think my blog, our free downloads for Fertility Relaxation or Healing and Recovery, or one of our health or fertility programs will help them — head over to our Tell-A-Friend Program and send them an e-mail (with your note) telling them about Circle + Bloom and how to get 15% off on their first order. I’ll make sure to include your name so they know who to thank.
It’s as simple as that. Fill out the Tell-A-Friend Program form and as a big old thank you all your friends will get a 15% discount on any of our programs and you will be entered to win a $100 American Express gift card!
So hurry and tell as many friends as you can. You will get an entry for EVERY friend you tell. Just our little thanks for spreadin’ the love!
With love and gratitude,
Guest Blog by Maria Peterson, an early education specialist who writes about advocating for head start schools.
The average birth in the U.S. costs $30,000, reports the Washington Post, but you could pay even more if you need a C-section, or if your pregnancy includes complications. If you don’t have insurance, that figure might as well be a million dollars. Before you decide to wait and visit the doctor when your baby is ready to come into the world, consider this reminder from womenshealth.gov: babies who don’t receive prenatal care are around three times more likely to have a low birth weight, and five times more likely to die than babies who do receive adequate and proper prenatal care. You and the child growing inside you need medical care, and several insurance options are available for you and your unborn baby.
Call a Pregnancy Center
Call your local pregnancy center, and share your dilemma. They’re experienced and have resources to guide you. Several options available could include a low-fee doctor or clinic. Center workers can also help you apply for medical assistance. With these resources, you and your baby are more likely to stay healthy.
Visit Planned Parenthood
With an emphasis on reproductive health, Planned Parenthood in some communities provides medical services for pregnant women like you. Find a location near you, then call to discuss your medical options, and receive advice about how to finance your prenatal care.
Apply for Medicaid
Forty percent of U.S. births are covered by Medicaid. You may qualify for the program, too, and can receive free or low-cost medical treatment for both you and your baby. Contact your local Department of Welfare for an application. On it, you’ll need to verify your:
- Household size
Contact a Doctor
Even without insurance, your doctor may have prenatal care resources available for you. Because you’ll be visiting him or her at least once a month, call the office closest to you, and discuss your financial situation. Available resources may include:
- Discounted prenatal testing and blood work
- Reduced labor and delivery charges
- Payment plans
Consider a Midwife
Obstetricians are doctors who specialize in pregnancy and delivery. Likewise, WebMD lists Certified Professional Midwives, Certified Nurse Midwives, Direct-Entry Midwives, and Lay Midwives as professionally trained prenatal and delivery providers. Typically, midwives spend more time with patients during prenatal visits and don’t charge as much as obstetricians do. When you call a local midwife to set up the initial consultation, talk about your financial situation. A payment plan can be arranged to cover the costs of your prenatal care and delivery.
Investigate Life Insurance
Your term or whole life insurance policy won’t pay for your birthing experience. It will, however, ensure your child is taken care of financially if something would happen to you. A life insurance company helps you plan for disasters, as it offers financial resources your new child.
Apply for WIC
Women, Infants and Children, better known as WIC, provides healthcare referrals and nutritional assistance to your growing baby before and after birth. While this program isn’t insurance that could pay for your baby’s birth, it does provide whole grains, dairy, protein, and cheese that help you and your baby stay healthy. When you’re healthy, your pregnancy is more likely to proceed normally and cost less.
The Affordable Care Act
If you decide to participate in a new Affordable Care Act plan, there are many benefits for women. These new plans allow you to see an ob-gyn without a referral from another doctor and all new plans will cover maternity care. Insurance providers can no longer charge women more for insurance than men and can’t deny you for pre-existing conditions that pertain to the female gender, such as a Cesarean section, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Women also have other healthcare benefits added, such as depression screenings, domestic violence help and coverage for a mammogram every two years, according to ObamaCareFacts.com.
Uh oh. Halloween is right around the corner, and that means an abundance of Halloween candy. Whether you’re stoking up on candy for trick-or-treaters or tempted by bargain priced candy right after Halloween, there’s going to be lots of chocolaty sugary yummy temptations. I tend to overindulge this time of year, and as a result I get sluggish.
I’ve noticed that for me when I start munching on way too many candy bars my motivation nosedives. I don’t know if its because the sugar makes my energy levels drop like crazy or if its a psychological thing, but just when I probably need to be hitting the gym the most my motivation to throw on the sneakers and get out there disappears.
The single most important thing for me to guarantee I don’t give into my sugar induced laziness has been making exercise a habit in my life. It took a while, but I’ve made exercise a habit that I see as an essential and non-negotiable part of my self-care.
It’s not just a another box on my checklist of tasks to get done for the day, because let’s be honest–lots of those boxes don’t get checked off! Things come up, priorities get re-arranged throughout the day and often exercise time is the first thing to get sacrificed when it feels like you don’t have enough time in the day.
Not so when its a habit…you just do it no matter what. Your morning shower isn’t a task on your to-do list, right? it’s just something you do as a part of getting ready for your day. Exercise should be the same way.
Zen Habits (one of my favorite sites!) put together a list of 38 great tips from people for how they successfully made exercise a habit. Here are 10 of my favorite pieces of advice from the list.
- Stop looking at it as a habit and instead as a lifestyle and an important part of my self-care.
- Crank up your favorite music! I often see suggested play lists for workouts, but just listen to what excites you. It will get you moving. ~Jen Zeman
- No one ever regrets working out. Is there anything else in the world you can do, and know 100% you won’t regret it?
- This is the one that’s helped the most: I’ve made a point to really, really, REALLY notice how much better I feel now that I exercise regularly; I’m sleeping better, my mood is better, I’m much less sluggish. It took about 3-4 weeks to see it, but it’s helped a lot. ~Polly
- Do it in the morning, habits are much easier to establish in the morning, the triggers are much more dependable (finish cup of coffee – put on gym shorts). Morning triggers are always there and the day has not polluted your plans yet.
- Fixed a time of the day that HAS to be the workout time. Cleared away tasks around that time to make sure I don’t get stuck with something else. ~Elle Kaiye
- Mentally preparing myself during the day for the evening workout helped. Mental preparation was important to prevent talking myself out of workout on the pretext of being “”exhausted”” or having “”more important stuff to do””. ~Elle Kaiye
- I exercise every single day. Every. Single. Day. That’s my secret. I don’t give myself the choice of whether to exercise or not. Every time that you give yourself a choice, you give yourself the opportunity to decide not to do something. ~Mark Cancellieri
- Make it into a game or do it as a social activity with a friend. The more enjoyable it is the likelier you are to continue it. ~Matthew
- Focus on effort: Set yourself goals around effort, not around results. ~Chiranth
Making exercise a habit isn’t necessarily about losing weight or looking skinny. I truly believe that regular exercise keeps you well balanced and healthy, mind and body. So check out the whole list and find which ones speak to you the most. Send me an email and let me know what has worked for you and share your own tips for everyone by commenting below.
With love + gratitude,
Creating a ritual around body awareness is like a mini vacation for our nervous system. Focusing for even a minute each day on being aware of our bodies can make a huge impact on our health.
The correlation between meditation/prayer and health is undeniable. You can come at it from different directions. There are many styles of meditation and prayer as well. You can get specific with a guided meditation, or simple with just a mantra. The mantra could be one word or phrase. It could be a traditional vedic mantra or it could be something really fun like “My Body Rocks” or perhaps even more specific “my feet are strong and carry me far”. The action of appreciating anything your body provides for you sends an amazing message internally. The main thing is to quiet the mind and focus on the abundance in our lives. Sometimes when we think about prayer we think about praying for something, but really this is not about asking for something, it is about being thankful for all that we have. The act of being aware of and dwelling on our many blessings is like a magnet for good things. The more we recognize what we have the more our body can feel abundant and ready to do more and receive more.
Acupuncture can provide a forced respite as well. Most people find acupuncture to be extremely relaxing. On occasion it can become agitating or the fear of the needles is just too much to bear. In my practice I have found that most people who have an existing meditation practice will find that they can tap into a new level of awareness while on the acupuncture table. Often it can be a sense of floating or expansiveness. The time spent on the table away from the chatter and noise of everyday life can be priceless in our crazy lives. One of the wonderful things about acupuncture is that most of the side effects are good! Often people will come in for one thing and over the following weeks experience amazing side effects, like better sleep, less irritability, and more energy. These may not have been the main goal, but acupuncture has a way of balancing out the body in ways that we may not have been able to put into words.
Yoga has become very popular in the west over the last ten years or so. However, many of us have a very skewed vision about who should do it and what you should look like and be able to do before you start. There are as many ways to practice yoga as there are people on earth. We each bring our own element to the practice no matter the style of yoga we choose to practice. Each body will stretch differently and move differently. One person may have shoulder problems another may have knee problems. There are variations and ways of moving for every body type, condition and mental capacity! Yoga is like moving meditation; it can be vigorous or slow, full of yogic philosophy or simply be poses. Becoming aware and intimate with the way our body moves and feels is an integral step along the pathway towards a healthy future.
It is easy to never try anything new, but I encourage you to try something new today. Take 30 seconds to listen to your breath, stretch and touch your toes or get online and see who does acupuncture in your area. Right now stretch your arms over your head and thank your spine for holding your head on! I bet your body wants more- stretch again! Listen to your body, thank your body, and nourish it mentally and physically. Pay it back for all it does, and it will do its best for you.
Jodie Cope inspires women to take control of their lives and overcome fertility issues by achieving optimal emotional and physical wellness — preparing the mind and body to attain and sustain pregnancy. Whether her clients are looking to become healthier for a pregnancy down the road, or have been struggling to conceive, she works with them to develop a plan that suits their needs. Some women choose to focus on a natural pregnancy, while others consider medical interventions such as in vitro fertilization. In either case, Jodie’s programs incorporate a full range of treatments to promote fertility and reduce stress and other barriers to good reproductive health, including acupuncture, nutrition, yoga, meditation, and lifestyle coaching. Getting people excited about health is always her focus.
Guest Blog by Jennifer Nahon, a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist in Chicago, IL.
Chinese herbs have been used for centuries to help boost fertility. I have been an herbalist for many years and have helped many women get pregnant with herbs. The problem I find the most is that women will come in with an arsenal of supplements and herbs that they are taking just because they read somewhere that this would help with infertility when in fact what they are taking is making their infertility worse.
For example, I had a patient who had been having frequent miscarriages and was clearing having signs of high estrogen and low progesterone. She came to me taking a tea that was branded for infertility and Vitamin E. I asked her why she was taking these and she said because she read somewhere that this was good for infertility. I explained to her that the items she was taking were for women who are running low estrogen, so she was actually making her infertility worse. I took her off of those items and put her on the multivitamin for her body type (which was Opal/Hourglass) and also put her on Nuan Gong Yun Zi Pian (which helps elevate progesterone levels) and progesterone cream. She was finally able to hold on to her pregnancy and now has twins.
Some women come in with infertility problems because they have thyroid problems. These women will be treated differently than those with other hormone imbalances. For this reason I highly urge women who want to get pregnant to select supplements that cater to their specific needs. You can find out more signs and symptoms of your specific fertility issues at Multishapers.
Don’t miss out on two great discounts from Multishapers on our YourFertilityDeals site. Sweet deal!
Upon graduating the Culinary Institute of America, Jennifer Nahon became a chef and cooked gourmet food for ten years. Throughout that time she became extremely interested in Eastern philosophy and healing as she cured pains she was having in her legs with acupuncture and herbs. Her interest in this field lead her to the Midwest College of Oriental Medicine in Chicago, IL where she received her degree in Oriental Medicine. She has helped many patients heal naturally with herbs and is working on doing more scientific research on natural medicine. She is dedicated to educating the public on their health and treating each patient as an individual. Jennifer currently works out of a holistic clinic located nearby Chicago Chinatown where she treats many women with fertility and hormonal balance issues through diet and natural supplements.
Are you as happy as me with the coming of Fall? Even with the crazy holidays peeking around the corner, I am loving my pumpkins, my mums and a cute handmade wooden witch that stands proudly in my front yard (made with love by my hubby).
And for whatever reason, all this seasonal change made me think to share with you one of my all-time fav books that, for over 15 years now, you will find in a prime spot on my bookshelf.
The book is called “Wherever You Go, There Your Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life“. Jon Kabat-Zinn is the author, and he provides one of the most accessible and mind-opening explorations of living fully in the moment without judgment. It totally changed the way I practice mindfulness and renewed my view on life.
To Kabat-Zinn, meditation is important because it brings about a state of “mindfulness.” Mindfulness is all about “being” rather than “doing”. You pay attention to the moment rather than the past, the future, or the many distractions of our crazy, busy lives. Often this is easier said then done.
I’ve found that when you are first starting out the idea of ‘mindfulness’ sounds pretty unattainable. It sounds like something spiritual that only the most devote monks can achieve. Or some people give it a try and quickly get frustrated with how their mind wanders and give up.
What I love about this book is that it provides wonderful descriptions of different meditative practices and what they can do for the practitioner, and it also gives you the tools to actually do mindfulness. It makes learning meditation remarkably easy and appealing, and ‘demystifies” it so that it is totally applicable to our real every-day lives.
What’s your favorite book on mindfulness or meditation? I would love to read some more great books, so please share with me or better yet, go comment below so everyone can benefit from your suggestions!
And remember, I’m here if you have any questions or simple want to let me know how you’re doing. I love hearing from you.
With love + gratitude,
We’ve talked a lot about how your diet can have a huge impact on your health and fertility. And while it all sounds well and good, sometimes making a long-term change like improving your diet can seem overwhelming or too hard to maintain. But that doesn’t have to be the case.
Even the smallest changes for the better add up to make a whole lot of difference. Take these 3 easy (really, I mean it, they’re not hard!) steps to change your diet and improve your health today.
Choose the right carbohydrates.
Simple carbs, like sugar and flour, are quickly absorbed by the body’s digestive system. That’s when you get the dreaded “carb overload”. Your body releases huge amounts of insulin to combat the overload and you feel like a bloated, tired mess. Not cool, so you want to eat these in moderation.
Complex carbs, on the other hand, are slowly digested by the body. They include whole-grain flour, hearty vegetables, oats, and unprocessed grains like brown rice. These foods are usually higher in vitamins and other nutrients that are beneficial to the body, and they are higher in fiber which will keep you feeling full.
Simply choose wheat or brown bread instead of white bread, whole wheat pasta instead of “normal” pasta, or even replace that side of mashed potatoes with a side of mashed sweet potatoes. You’ll be upping your nutritional intake while avoiding the negative effects of simple cards. It’s an easy switch but can make a big difference in your diet!
Adopt a healthy attitude towards food.
What are your eating habits like? Do you eat more when you’re stressed? Do you obsessively limit what you eat in order to feel like you’re in control? Sometimes we have an unhealthy relationship to food and we don’t even know it.
See food as sustenance. Food shouldn’t be about your weight, it should be about making you feel great. Try to evaluate food in terms of what it can do to keep your body healthy. Ask yourself if what you’re about to put in your mouth is good for you, and if it will help your body function as it was designed to.
Simply start asking the question “Will this help my body be at its best?” before you eat and you’ll be well on your way to choosing nutritious, wholesome foods.
Have you ever noticed how out of whack the proportions are at restaurants? It’s crazy! Do a little research to see what proper portion sizes are, and then make sure your plate at home looks nice and balanced. Don’t over-consume any one food. Instead, try to vary your diet so that you eat a little bit of everything in a moderate amount.
Some people might be great at giving up meat, sugar, or other foods cold turkey. However, most of us are likely to give it up for awhile, then break down and binge. Avoid this deprivation-binge cycle by allowing yourself to have small indulgences.
It may sound cliche to say “everything in moderation”, but its so true! You can’t realistically expect yourself to survive on kale salads alone forever. Where’s the joy in that? Indulge and enjoy in your favorite things–but in moderation. You’ll savor that chocolate even more when its something special you get to look forward to.
Have you successfully changed your diet? Are you currently in the process of trying to eat healthier? Let us know what helps you and what your experience has been in the comments below.
I hope all is well. How are you feeling today?
If you’re feeling happy, sad, frustrated, tired, hopeful or anything else, I bet there is one thing you can do right at this moment. Think of something you are thankful for.
Good job! You may not know it, but you just gave yourself a psychological and physical boost.
Over the past decade research has identified the great social, psychological, and physical health benefits that come from giving thanks. Benefits including better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, and more happiness. And over and over again I’ve seen how one practice in particular can help us really reap those benefits.
A gratitude journal.
Studies have traced a range of impressive benefits to the simple act of writing down the things for which we’re grateful. And doing so is straightforward. You simply record things you’ve experienced in the past week or so for which you’re grateful. Keep the entries brief. Even just a single sentence will do, and they can range from the mundane such as having a cup of coffee in the morning to the fundamental, like the support of family, or even the personal, like your favorite band.
University of California, Berkley consulted with Robert Emmons, a leading expert on the science of gratitude, to suggest these research-based tips for reaping the greatest psychological rewards from your gratitude journal, and I think they’re worth sharing.
- “Don’t just go through the motions. Research by psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky and others suggests that journaling is more effective if you first make the conscious decision to become happier and more grateful. “Motivation to become happier plays a role in the efficacy of journaling,” says Emmons.
- Go for depth over breadth. Elaborating in detail about a particular thing for which you’re grateful carries more benefits than a superficial list of many things.
- Get personal. Focusing on people to whom you are grateful has more of an impact than focusing on things for which you are grateful.
- Try subtraction, not just addition. One effective way of stimulating gratitude is to reflect on what your life would be like without certain blessings, rather than just tallying up all those good things.
- Savor surprises. Try to record events that were unexpected or surprising, as these tend to elicit stronger levels of gratitude.
- Don’t overdo it. Writing occasionally (once or twice per week) is more beneficial than daily journaling. In fact, one study by Lyubomirsky and her colleagues found that people who wrote in their gratitude journals once a week for six weeks reported boosts in happiness afterward; people who wrote three times per week didn’t. “We adapt to positive events quickly, especially if we constantly focus on them,” says Emmons. “It seems counterintuitive, but it is how the mind works.”’
When it comes down to it, keeping a gratitude journal is really about forcing ourselves to pay attention to the good things in life we’d otherwise take for granted. It’s easy to overlook the regular sources of goodness in our lives if we don’t make ourselves pay attention.
Sometimes with the craziness of life and constantly rushing around I forget to take a moment, breath, and reflect on the good in my life. Then when I finally get around to making myself journal I’m amazed at all of the things that have happened recently that I didn’t give a second thought to at the time but that I am incredibly grateful for.
And the beautiful thing is there is no one right way to do this. You can write in the morning or before you go to bed, in a fancy journal or on a notepad. The important thing is just to establish the habit of paying attention to goodness in people, things, and events that bring a little joy to your life.
So let’s start now. What are you thankful for? Let me know by sharing it with the Circle+Bloom community by commenting below.
With love + gratitude,
Guest Blog by Marcela De Vivo.
It seems unfair that our bodies can betray us so badly with symptoms like acne, weight gain, hair on our faces, depression and infertility. Recently, a friend of mine was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and I’ve been with her through the entire process, and let me tell you, it can be quite overwhelming.
Doctor-prescribed hormones and other PCOS treatments can sometimes have many side effects, plus they don’t always deal with every issue connected with PCOS. Luckily, I’ve discovered a few natural treatments for PCOS.
First Of All, What Is PCOS?
If you’ve been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, you should really take the time to fully understand it. I know that when I go to the doctor, I’m so consumed with fear about my diagnosis that I often forget to ask the right questions or even listen to what the doctor is saying.
PCOS is a hormonal disorder that is common in both adult and adolescent women that are at the reproductive age. Although medical professionals have yet to figure out what causes PCOS, they do know that the imbalance of hormones can cause cysts on the ovaries. It can also lead to diabetes, due to the buildup of insulin resistance. Heart disease is also associated with a PCOS diagnosis.
How Can I Tell If I Have PCOS?
There are many symptoms that, when combined together, can hint towards a possible PCOS diagnosis. The biggest symptom that can point toward PCOS is irregular periods. Many women with PCOS have only a few periods a year; some even don’t get periods at all. Other symptoms include weight gain, trouble losing weight, acne, thinning hair, facial hair, infertility and depression.
If your family has a history of PCOS, as my friend’s does, your chances of having it are much higher, which is why you should get a full medical history from your family. If any of the women from either side of your family have had PCOS and you have some of the symptoms, you should consult a doctor right away.
What Can The Doctors Do For Me?
When a doctor tests you for PCOS, they should be looking at the hormone and testosterone levels in your blood work. In order to see the ovarian cysts, many doctors recommend a transvaginal ultrasound examination. Trust me, it sounds scarier than it is. Although the ultrasound can be slightly uncomfortable, it can discover any overgrowth in the uterine lining.
In order to treat PCOS, doctors will often suggest surgery and medication in order to regulate your menstrual cycle, which can help those who are trying to get pregnant.
So, Are There Really Natural Remedies for PCOS?
Indeed, there are several natural remedies you can try in order to reduce your PCOS symptoms. A healthy diet that is focused on heart-healthy foods is a good way to start. While making these dietary changes, you might also want to cut out coffee, soda, alcohol and smoking, as these can exacerbate your PCOS symptoms. Since PCOS inhibits insulin levels, you can ensure that your blood sugar is balanced by eating 3 square meals a day and exercising on a regular basis.
Lowering your stress levels plays a large part in dealing with PCOS symptoms. Personally, my friend and I like to take a spa day once a month. There, we can get a massages, which promote better circulation, and feel pampered with a manicure and pedicure. At the end of the day, we feel so much better and, best of all, she sees results in her health. Other women I know with PCOS have seen positive results with yoga, meditation and getting a few extra hours of sleep.
If you have been diagnosed with PCOS, you can minimize the symptoms you experience by making a few simple lifestyle changes. We’ve all heard that exercise and a healthy diet can lead to an overall better quality of life, and if you have a certain health condition, this saying applies to you now more than ever before.
Marcela De Vivo is a writer for Bellezza, a Miami spa, as well as a mother of three and yoga enthusiast. She is always there for her friends when they are in need and she tries to help others with their health conditions as much as possible. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter today!
I hope things are going well for you. Is there anything I can do for you? Do you have any questions for me or any stories you want to share?
I often mention the importance of being mindful and how it is the key to defeating negative thoughts and living in the stress-free moment. But I realize that it’s not always clear how to learn to be mindful of your thoughts when you’re not used to doing so.
Well the answer is actually pretty simple: you practice being mindful of your thoughts through meditation.
Meditation is an amazing skill to have which will help you throughout all aspects of your life. At its essence it is practicing mindful observing. Its just you and your thoughts and the present moment, and it’s a habit you can build by practicing everyday.
Don’t worry, it doesn’t require burning incense and hiking to the top of a mountain to be one with nature (although that doesn’t sound so bad, huh?)
In fact, one of the easiest ways to get more meditation in your live is by listening to your Circle + Bloom program. All of our programs are a great way to meditate and incorporate meditation and mindfulness as a regular part of your day. If you’re listening to them once a day you are already off to a great start with making meditation a habit.
There are a few more things you can do to make sure you really nail this whole meditation thing. The best instructions for how to build the meditation habit that I’ve come across are from Leo Babauta at Zenhabits.net.
Here are his simple steps to incorporate meditation as a regular part of your day.
- Commit to just 2 minutes a day. Start simply if you want the habit to stick. You can do it for 5 minutes if you feel good about it, but all you’re committing to is 2 minutes each day.
- Pick a time and trigger. Not an exact time of day, but a general time, like morning when you wake up, or during your lunch hour. The trigger should be something you already do regularly, like drink your first cup of coffee, brush your teeth, have lunch, or arrive home from work.
- Find a quiet spot. Sometimes early morning is best, before others in your house might be awake and making lots of noise. Others might find a spot in a park or on the beach or some other soothing setting. It really doesn’t matter where — as long as you can sit without being bothered for a few minutes. A few people walking by your park bench is fine.
- Sit comfortably. Don’t fuss too much about how you sit, what you wear, what you sit on, etc…Any cushion or pillow will do, and some people can sit on a bare floor comfortably.
- Focus on your breath. As you breathe in, follow your breath in through your nostrils, then into your throat, then into your lungs and belly. Sit straight, keep your eyes open but looking at the ground and with a soft focus. If you want to close your eyes, that’s fine. As you breathe out, follow your breath out back into the world. If it helps, count … one breath in, two breath out, three breath in, four breath out … when you get to 10, start over. If you lose track, start over. If you find your mind wandering (and you will), just pay attention to your mind wandering, then bring it gently back to your breath. Repeat this process for the few minutes you meditate. You won’t be very good at it at first, most likely, but you’ll get better with practice.
And that’s it. 2 minutes is simple enough, right?
Try to incorporate 2 minutes of meditation into your day and let me know how it goes! Do you already meditate and have some helpful tips? Let us all know by commenting below.
As always, please email me with your questions and stories.