Monday, May 16, 2011

Yummy Life leaves a bad aftertaste

Anger. Frustration. Betrayal. These words aren't often associated with infertility, but they are the cleanest words I will use to describe how I feel about Holly Amarandei and

In July of last year, I met Holly Amarandei through Resolve: The National Infertility Association's Facebook page. She portrayed herself as being a CPC (Certified Personal Coach), with a mind-body approach to infertility. She offered a 12 week coaching course plus two individual coaching sessions in exchange for blogging about her business. Being one of those desperate, fall-for-anything infertile women, I jumped at the chance to join her group and learn some new ways to cope with infertility.

I should have seen that this group was doomed from the beginning. Our initial contact was in July...there was a lot of back and forth emailing about when the actual group would meet, which was always "soon. how's next week?" I took a "test," and filled out an in intensely personal questionnaire with questions like, "why would/wouldn't a baby want to be born into your household?" and "What do/don't you trust about your spouse?" Then I waited. And waited.

And the group finally October. (And the 'other participants' turned out to be just one other girl.) I wont lie...I did learn a little from the 4 out of 12 sessions we actually had. I learned some new things about fertility foods and stress coping mechanisms....nothing really original or unique...the same info available after a little Bing-ing.

What I also learned is that just because someone labels their self as a professional doesn't make it so. The sessions, which Holly was chronically late and disorganized for, took place over the phone - through a crappy conference call service. There was some kind of time lag, and we were all constantly talking over each other. She advised us she was going to record the sessions and make them available to us on her website...the first 10 minutes of each session was spent with the other girl in the group and I chatting while Holly yelled at her dog...her child...or her husband, while trying to figure out how to start the recording. The sessions were varied in topic, but would always end up focusing on Holly and her own struggles with infertility.

I figured our group was going to crash and burn after our "Bitch Session." This was a session where we were encouraged to get it all out...all of the anger and frustration pent up over our infertility. She told us that during her previous group's session, she had women screaming and cussing, so we should feel free to do the same. What she didn't take into consideration is that not all women are comfortable doing that with virtual strangers. Not to mention the fact that the other girl and I have both been dealing with this for a looong time, so we're kind of past the 'fuck the world' stage. We both aired our grievances without was almost comical the way Holly kept asking, "is that it?"

After that, her communication turned to crap. She stopped returning emails. She stopped returning Facebook messages. After a couple of months, she finally responded to a Facebook post with "I thought you were ignoring me. You never replied to my emails." was SHE who never replied to MY emails. And I haven't heard from her since.

It's become clear to me that the reason she dropped us is because she decided to pursue a different coaching career path. Her website and Facebook pages have changed to reflect a PCOS-diet themed group; no longer the mind-body infertility connection. I guess she realized she was full of shit on that subject; and decided to go with a topic that has more Bing hits and can provide her with a plethora of material. (Just be sure to cite your sources, don't want to get caught up in a Copyright lawsuit!)

I totally get that we were just a part of a test group for her to bounce around ideas and see what works...but she should have just said that from the beginning. And, she certainly should have finished what she started! If you promise 12 weeks, you should deliver 12 weeks. Period.

Part of the reason I'm so (beyond) pissed off about this is that, as an infertile woman herself, she knows firsthand the pain and frustration of dealing with veritable snake-oil salesmen that we infertile gals do...we'll spend anything - try anything - for just a chance that it will work. She knows that, and she took advantage of that.

The one good thing to come out of this "group," at least for me, was meeting the other girl in the group. Our infertility stories are quite similar, and we became fast friends. It's nice to have an ally that really *gets* what I'm going through.

Ladies, as part of an ever-growing community of over-looked and under-treated infertility patients, it's important that we look out for each other. Be careful who you trust with your personal information...and keep your eye out for snake-oil salesmen, or saleswomen.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bust a Fertility Myth: You're Still Young, You Have Plenty of Time!

In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) April 24th-30th, our friends at Resolve have asked the blogosphere to bust some infertility myths!

Bust a Fertility Myth: You're Still Young, You Have Plenty of Time!

Oh, if I only had a nickel for each time I've heard that.

Of course, when I was young - in the maternal sense - I didn't know I would have fertility problems. I thought I had all the time in the world. I got married at 29, and thought I'd be knee deep in babies by now. Not so.

When I went off of birth control pills several years ago, my doctor assured me that after a few months I'd be pregnant. A few months passed, then a few more. A few months turned into a few years. Same doctor, same're young don't worry, you have plenty of time! Take these pills and come back in a few months...

If I had it all to do over again, I would have been careless! I would have stopped using protection and trapped my boyfriend (now husband). Why not? Everybody else does it.

No matter what you hear, time is NOT on your side! If you are planning on starting a family, go see your doctor now and have a few simple tests done. You may find out that you are fertile, and your body is ready to go when your mind is. On the other hand, you may find out that you have a looooong road ahead, like millions of other unlucky women. Either way, it's never too soon to find out!

Learn more about Resolve and NIAW here:

and here:

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bust a Fertility Myth:'ll happen!

In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) April 24th-30th, our friends at Resolve have asked the blogosphere to bust some infertility myths!

Relax, it'll happen! Try not to think about it. Go on a vacation!

My husband and I try to take a trip every summer. We usually start planning at the beginning of the year. Our first question is always, "what if we get pregnant before then?" So we plan our vacation around that thought. Where can we go that will be pregnant-lady friendly? My first choice is always somewhere beachy, while the hubs is happy going anywhere away from long as there is a TV with a sports channel. As our vacation time draws closer, we realize we aren't pregnant...again. Then the plans for our vacation turn into the Let's Make a Baby Trip. This is the trip that it will happen! I can't wait until our child finds out that he or she was conceived in Jamaica...Hawaii...Las Vegas...Jamaica again. We force ourselves to wait a month after vacation to take a pregnancy test...which comes back negative. Always.

If vacationing were the answer to infertility, I wouldn't be writing this post!  Seriously, infertility is the only disease that people seem to think can be cured by a day at the spa or by going on vacation. IT CAN'T.

As April comes to an end...I'm looking forward to our vacation in June. The plane tickets are in hand, the room is booked. This time, I think we'll try to just have fun!

Learn more about Resolve and NIAW here:

and here:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fertility and Stress

I'm a bit behind with my posting...last week the fertility group discussed stress and its effects on fertility.

I've always heard that stress can have adverse effects on the body, but I was surprised to learn about some of the effects it has on fertility. Some of the fertility-stress facts I learned are that stress:

  • Is the most significant block to getting pregnant
  • Disrupts hormone production
  • Can hinder adequate blood-flow to the uterus
  • Can lead to poor follicular quality
  • Negatively effects the FSH test - can result in false results 
 Those of us who are unfortunate enough to be on the infertility roller-coaster know that it is just that...a roller-coaster. There are good days, bad days, and really really bad days. How do you relax when your mind just won't let you? Here are some of the stress-relieving techniques we learned about:
  • Create positive affirmations, and recite them daily
  • Think positive
  • Meditate
  • Do deep breathing exercises
  • Create a gratitude journal

So what does all of this mean for me? Well, infertility is extremely stressful in and of itself. And that stress causes more stress which, in turn, causes a chain reaction in my body. I really wish I could turn off the worry like a light switch, but I can't. But I WILL make a concerted effort to deal with my stress head on, rather than keeping it all bottled inside.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fertility Diet

This week in the Fertile Attraction group we discussed...FOOD! Fertile food, that is.

I was surprised to learn that low fat and fat free isn't all it's cracked up to be. I'm so used to suffering through watery skim milk and rubber cheese...but I guess I can learn to like full fat yogurt, cheese, and milk...if I must! *sigh* 

In truth, I'm already on a diet; (aren't I always? I swear, for someone who has been dieting her whole life, how the hell can I still be fat??????) but I'm excited to make some simple changes. My current diet is about 1,000 calories or less a day. For breakfast I have a GNC protein shake (made with skim milk), followed by a banana mid-morning. For lunch, I have another GNC protein shake (made with water) and an apple, or nectarine, or peach. Mid-afternoon I have a serving of high fiber cereal (dry), or a Fiber One bar. Sometimes I'll have another piece of fruit on the way home or before dinner...which is usually a chicken wrap and a salad, or something like that. I've decided to ditch the skim milk and go for organic yogurt with the morning shake, and for the afternoon shake I'm going to add some greens.

I'm debating adding a fertility superfood like maca to my diet too. I had a short two week run with royal jelly....but wasn't aware that people with severe bee allergies shouldn't take royal jelly! That explained my recent asthma attacks, migraines, hives, leg swelling, and dizzyness! My Dr. said I could have died....ooopsie doodle! SO, needless to say, before I add maca or anything else to my diet, I'm going to thoroughly check it out first!

I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Turning 35 as a childless freak

I turned 35 today. The earth was not swallowed by a black hole, I was not struck down by a bolt of lightning, and I didn't wake up with a head full of gray hair. And NO, I didn't expire!

If I thought I had a hard time when I turned 30, I DREADED turning 35. I know that in the scheme of things, 35 is not that old...but in terms of life span, my life is pretty much half over! I can't help but feel a little underwhelmed, and overwhelmed at the same time.

Underwhelmed...this is it? This is my life?

Overwhelmed...I have so much left to do! I haven't accomplished even a fraction of what I intended to accomplish by this age. I saw myself married, with a brood of kids - remember my 18 year plan??? - a happy housewife with a happy husband and a bunch of happy kids....with my 5th or 6th novel, best seller of course; on its way to production. Well, I AM married! Dear husband is a wonderful soulmate, if such things exist. I love him indescribably, and he is the reason I am able to get out of bed on most days, when the depression is a physical pain - not just a mental pain.

I think the main reason I'm having such a hard time with this turning 35 business is due to my fertility issues. I'm now in the "Advanced Maternal Age" category. Our struggles will only get harder from here....any pregnancy is automatically high risk...risk of a baby with chromosomal defects goes to 1:400 My eggs, if I have any left, are now dusty...coughing and sputtering like a '75 Mustang! All of this because I didn't have a baby in my 20's? Or even early 30's????

I've been trying to maintain a healthy level of sanity as this dark day doomed on my horizon. I've been thinking of my friends, and how gracefully (or at least not maniacally) they turned 35. And for some, then 40. 45. Even a few in their 50's. I've been visualizing their grace, and trying to use it as an example for how I should act. But then we come, full circle. The reason for their happiness? KIDS. Kinda hard to be upset about getting older and having dusty eggs when you're already blessed with kids! Advanced Maternal Age doesn't apply to already-moms, no, that's another pain reserved for us barren semi-women! I've had clueless moms say things to me like, "You're 34 and have no kids? What do you do with your time, you must be so relaxed on the weekends!"  Yep, that's me. Mrs. as a cucumber.

It's almost midnight, and I've survived this day! Whew...I can breathe! make it through the next 365 days...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Marketing Mommyhood

Choosy mom's choose Jif.
Kix. Kid tested, mother approved.
Mom's depend on Kool-Aid like kids depend on mom.
Because that's the kind of mom you are. (Kellog's cereal)

Mom, mommy, mother...everywhere I look. I can't even go to the grocery store without a visual assault of what a poor excuse of a woman I am! Will Jif taste just as good if I have no kids? Can I still drink Kool-Aid, even though the kids that depend on me have four legs and tails?

Marketing strategies and slogans have always been an irritant to me, even before my fertility struggles. I've never been the type to buy a product because a 30 second TV spot tells me to, especially because I envision a group of misogynistic men sitting around a table discussing ways to help me have a happy period. Always.

And don't get me started on print ads.