Mind, body, and soul – connection through your fertility journey (during COVID-19)

Explained by: Lori Metz, LCSW, Lori Metz, LCSW, CCM, BC-TMH, Psychotherapist
Category:
From this video you will find out:
  • How to get rid of stress and anxiety during your fertility journey?
  • How to cope and move forward?
  • How to contemplate a situation in order to understand its implications and your own feelings?
  • What do we learn as we begin our journey?
  • Have you considered mindfulness?
  • What do you do to nurture yourself? Do you practice self-care?
     

What are the best tips for a fertility journey during COVID-19 pandemic?

In this webinar, Lori Metz, LCSW, CCM, a therapist, author, and public speaker who has worked in health care for over twenty years in various settings has been discussing how to deal with the struggles with your IVF journey. Lori has provided useful coping tips and how to get through this.

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Questions and Answers from the event

I’m struggling with infertility for the last four years. I’ve tried IVF, which failed. I spent a lot of money. I am so depressed right now, I don’t know what to do, I want to try again, but it’s hard financially.

This is something that so many people go through. I’m not sure what country you’re in, but some fertility organizations do give out grants to allow people to be able to afford their fertility journeys. In the United States, the legislation has changed, it’s very depressing. The things that you could do is to turn to your support system at that point is to look at what other, if any other family building options are available to you. I would suggest consulting with the therapist if the depression is too much, and you find yourself crying all the time or quite a bit and too preoccupied. What you want to do is to just take stock of what you have and try and look towards the future. Sometimes, it’s very hard to do it without a third party. I wish you a lot of luck and please try and consider looking into some of these grants that are offered by some of the organizations.

I am struggling with using the law of attraction. I feel like my negative mindset is stopping me from getting pregnant. Is there any time to this, or maybe I overstress myself? I’m trying to be positive.

It’s very hard to force yourself to do something, so recognizing that that’s how you’re feeling is so important. You don’t want to squelch a negative thought. You want to investigate a negative thought as to why it’s there. When I talk about curiosity and looking at things with curiosity what I mean is kind of examining it, taking it out of yourself and making believe it’s an octagon and looking at all the different sides and trying to understand the multifaceted part of it.

It’s very, very hard to be positive when you’re going through an emotional and physical struggle, that’s also financial. I would suggest that you talk to people who you respect in the field. If that’s your doctor, I don’t know if you’re happy with your reproductive endocrinologist if you’re going to your OB., or even if you have a family doctor who could give you some concrete information to help you that you feel supported by. Very often, the nurses in the office can be that point of contact, and I would encourage you to express your concerns and your fears, so they can then just be discussed because they’re probably no different than other people have had. Being stressed is not a good thing. Does it impact fertility? I am not sure, I mean some people would say yes, some people would say no, but I would say that taking some deep breaths, calming yourself does help you.

Some people turn to acupuncture, some people turn to nutrition, it’s finding that niche, but please try and reach out to people who are nearby, who are professional that you respect where you can ask your questions to and don’t be afraid to ask them. Very often, I suggest to people they write down their questions before they go to their doctor’s office. Don’t be afraid to ask a question you think you should know or a question, that may make you sound as if you’re a little too sad, it’s nothing they haven’t heard before, but they can’t help you if they don’t know that you’re not experiencing it.

I feel the same as the previous lady has mentioned. I feel like I’m battling with a negative mindset. How can I deal with that?

It’s so hard not to have these negative thoughts because you’ve on these journeys for a while and this is the beauty of support groups. I happen to love running support groups because women come together, and they see they’re not alone, and then they’re able to kind of work through how to find these results. I worked with one woman recently, I’ve been working with her for a while, she recently just had her second child through a donor egg and she was one of the women who inspired the book I wrote, it’s such a long, hard journey and you never know how you’re going to have your family. I think the point is just understanding whether or not your family has to be a certain way and just opening yourself up to options. Very often, we have a mindset where we’re not opening ourselves up to options. If there are support groups in your area, I would so encourage you to join them because they’ll allow you to see that all the thoughts that you’re having are similar to others. I don’t even hear what these thoughts are except their negative mindset, and the negative mindset is that when you go through something, you get disappointed time and time again, it’s hard not to have that. If you’re continuing, then you have hope at the bottom of that, and that’s powerful, that’s very, very powerful.

How to deal with stress at work during the already stressful fertility treatment?

That is really hard. I have one person I’m working with, and she didn’t tell her boss because so many people were working from home, so she didn’t tell her boss until I think like 10 weeks before she was about to deliver, it’s very stressful at work. The most important thing is your breath in many ways and trying to remember to come back to it because it’s something that’s constantly with us. Knowing that you’re stressed will allow you to learn a way to take yourself out of the situation, even just for a minute.

That’s why I say just 3-second breaths, if you can remember to try and breathe 3 seconds in, hold it for 3 seconds and 3 and a half seconds out, what that will do is it will calm, it’ll bring your rates down, your respiratory rate, your heart rate down and just the out-breath is the cleansing breath, that is the breath that slows you. If you’re in the middle of a busy workday, if you can get this into practice, it can help you also want, I think, to keep the focus on what your priorities are. Some days, they very well might be work because it’s so stressful and other days it’s going to be the fertility treatment, so it’s a matter of who you communicated to in your office that you’re going through this. If you need to communicate with anybody at all and trying to keep your perspective on what it is that you want.

I know that many women are primary support primary in terms of the financial support in the home today and that adds a lot of stress if the partner and the woman are not working where the woman feels that she could take a day off. Sometimes, it’s secondary infertility, there are children at home that you have to juggle, you want to just be sure that you keep your work in focus but also you take those minutes in those moments to nurture yourself and care for yourself in whatever way you find. It could be for 15 minutes a day, it could be for a few minutes a day, for an hour or so, but if you could get that, it would be helpful. If you could cook more with being in the present, then on a mission to have to cook. If you can maybe take a few minutes extra in the shower, whatever it is that you find relaxing if you could do that. If watching TV is your thing then maybe watch a half an hour show if that will make you feel just a little calmer and take you out of your work mode.

How to deal with stress knowing the fertility clock is ticking?

I’m not sure how old you are. The fertility clock starts ticking the moment you’re born, we’re born with a certain amount of eggs, and that clock just starts going. As we get older, we know that our eggs get a little bit older too, but the important thing to remember is that once you turn 35 or 40, it’s not like you’re going like this and then like this, you’re not, this is a slow progression and if you’re taking the steps that you can to try and get pregnant then you’re doing what you can do. I think that’s the best way of empowering yourself and acknowledging what you’re doing.

If you can find comfort in the doctors that you’re talking to and the information that you’re gathering in the plan that you have for your fertility journey, then that to me, is the most empowering way to deal with the stress. If you’re feeling like you’re not in control, then dealing with the stress, I think becomes very challenging, so I’m hoping that’s a little help for you.

What would your best suggestion to approach FET?

I think that right now, the trend is towards frozen embryo transfer, and so the treatment itself or my approach to any of this is empowering yourself, and I think maybe I should spend a minute just talking about that a little bit more. I just touched on it a few times, the question is, how do you empower yourself, and we all do that differently.

If I go to the doctor and I’m anxious before that doctor’s visit, I will write questions down. I will make sure that I can write down 20 questions sometimes, and some of them I may know the answers to, but I get anxious or nervous, and so I have to ask the question again. That list helps me so that when I walk out, I have the answers that I’m looking for, it empowers me. I think that’s very useful. I think having faith in the people that you go to is very important. Nobody seems to have 100% faith in their fertility doctor, they like them a lot, they think they’re doing a great job, but typically people always have that little question because they’re going on a journey, the journey we’re not sure of the outcome of yet.

If you’re going to go down the road and a frozen embryo transfer then, I would suggest that you have comfort in your thoughts, and if you don’t, then find out where your kind of balance is, what part of that is making you uncomfortable. Is the scale too much on one side versus the other, and so look at that. If the scale is too much on the side of I am too nervous, and I just can’t do it, well then you just need to take a step back and wait and reevaluate maybe, you need to gain more information, or maybe your emotions are getting ahead of you a little bit where you’re thinking to yourself, oh my goodness, what if this doesn’t work? When you haven’t tried this yet, we want to kind of keep in sync with where we’re at, so tapping into empowering yourself, understanding your thoughts and your feelings helps greatly in a situation like this.

How to deal with failures when we don’t have a support system? I am single. I prefer to keep things to myself because it’s even harder when I share those and then fail.

This is so true, and single women going on this journey alone is a changeling. You do want to have at least one person that you can turn to. You do want to have at least one support person if at all possible, and if not, I would strongly recommend that you join a support group.

There are support groups online now, and what I’ve found which makes me so happy is that the women keep in touch some of them keep in touch for years after. There are also organizations for single moms by choice or single women by choice, and that may be international, they can also provide that support. Dealing with failures is hard but keeping your eye on your big picture is where you want to be. If you can keep in mind that you’re doing this to create a family and to build your family, then that will help you, I think, keep going. If you understand the reason for the failures, hopefully, you’re in a category where they have an answer.

If you’re not, then that becomes a little bit harder to understand that unexplained category, but if you’re in a category where they know the answer, then you know what you’re working towards. If it’s unexplained, well then you’re going to be sent down a different path, either way, please empower yourself with questions and understanding what it is. If you get very upset, I want you to try and find a way to be caring to yourself and nurturing to yourself, so you begin to separate what you’re really thinking about, and then those thoughts are what you need to communicate to the people that you’re working with. You don’t need to communicate them to your friends, but you do to the people that are helping you.

I find myself struggling with the thought of success after 12 x IVF’s as so many things went wrong every step of the way. I’ve done a lot of homework. It’s difficult to imagine this working out well. I know it’s all out of our control, but how can I try to accept success without self-fulfilling prophecies of negativity. I’ve done so much research and feel this clinic will be the best chance I’ve had so far.

It’s such a long journey 12 IVFs are so many, and you’ve gone through so much doing this. I understand the struggle emotionally, physically, and financially and if you’re quarantined, it becomes that much more isolating. The piece here though, is that there is hope, it’s just hard to tap into that hope, and I’m sorry if I’m repeating this a little bit, but the self-fulfilling prophecy, I don’t know if I believe in that. I think what happens is, we’re not going down a self-fulfilling prophecy, what we’re doing is we keep going, and the fact that we keep going, like that little brain with the legs, we keep going because we know that we may be able to find our family.

Very often, we don’t know what that family’s going to look like. That family can look just like us, or that family can be a donor egg or a donor sperm or a donor embryo. It could be in countries that allow surrogacy, it could be adoption, there’s always a way to have that family, it’s just identifying which way you’re most comfortable with, and that’s the piece that I’d like you to try and hold on to it. I do believe that you’re holding on to it because you keep going. If you Stoppel, then maybe you would be doing a self-fulfilling prophecy, but you’re not, you’re continuing. I admire that so much, I just would like you to try and tap into it a little bit more.

I have been on this journey for 2.5 years. In this time, I have had a natural ectopic pregnancy and then IVF treatment with failed implantation. It makes my head spinning. There is so much conflicting information out there about what to do and what not to do, and what works best, etc. This causes me anxiety that I may not be doing the right thing, and it feels I have to do a lot of the research myself. Which I feel stops me from finding additional time to do other things to destress. Any suggestions?

I am thinking, you’re googling, I don’t know if you are, or not but I’m thinking that maybe you’re going to the doctor or talking to the nurse practitioner and maybe getting online and starting to Google. We can read a ton of books, we can look into a ton of different things, everybody’s going to have their own opinion and their own approach, and there are so many fertility clinics, so many doctors. There are certain protocols, now there are some that are experimental, there are some that are a little bit more tried. I would encourage you to figure out who the best person for you in your life is to gain this information from and to have that kind of a fluid conversation with them.
When we go through struggles especially, with any kind of medical condition, we’re searching for all kinds of answers.

If we start to read books and we start to look online, we get the information, and it’s that person’s perspective, that person’s study, that person’s opinion, that person’s experience, and what we want to do is we want to find out how that correlates to you and your body, and your journey. The best way to do that is to speak directly to the people that you trust. I do believe in educating yourself, but at a certain point, you are educated. Certain factors are important, and I would encourage you if you’re going to read that, make sure that what you’re reading is from a very trusted and kind of well-recognized author or organization.

The organization I tend to recommend is ASRM, it’s the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, it’s arsrm.org. You have experts there from all over the world who provide information, and there is a patient portal, and they should be able to help with specific information, general information, and knowledge that they share, they also have podcasts there. On my podcast, I only have people who are expert in the fertility field, as opposed to people just give their opinions because you want to impart information that has been pretty standard and well researched and versed. Look into the authors that you’re reading and try and understand where you find your comfort.

What is your suggestion for me? I’m going for my 1st IVF in December. What should be my mindset? How should I relax and connect with this journey

It’s stressful, no matter how you look at it, it’s stressful to go through it the first time because it’s very different. I think a good thing to do is to have faith in the process that you’re going through. Try to recognize that you’re doing this out of love and desire to create a family. You’ve already made the decision to go down the path, taking the medication is scary, the whole process is scary, but you’re doing it to follow your heart and to follow your desire to have a family, and I think if you keep that in mind, then that helps with relaxation. Try and keep perspective on why you’re doing what you’re doing, and I think that that can help. Try and be in the moment as opposed to 3 steps ahead of yourself.

I gave up running going through IVF. After 5 failed attempts, I decided to go back to it to help with stress. Is this having a negative impact?

That’s a medical question that I can’t answer. I think that if you are a runner and you’re in good shape, you can talk to your doctor, and I do not think that they would say no. Maybe, they would, at certain points in the treatment, but typically what I’ve heard is that if you resume the activity that you’ve always done, then it should be okay. If you’re starting something new, then it shouldn’t, but that is a medical question. The key here is that you recognize that you need to be able to get rid of your stress and to relax and somebody who runs to get rid of stress means to me that they need to be physically active to get rid of stress. I want you to think of other physical activities that the doctor tells you that you cannot run that you can do that will get your heartbeat up and get those endorphins going and help you to kind of clear your mind. I encourage you to talk to them and ask them about the running and if not the running, what other types of physical things you can do that will get your heart rate up to that momentum.

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Authors
Lori Metz, LCSW

Lori Metz, LCSW

Lori Metz, LCSW, is a therapist, author, and public speaker who has worked in health care for over twenty years in various settings such as hospitals, home care, health insurance, and patient safety oversight organizations. She is an expert on mental health, how to process and cope with infertility psychologically and emotionally, pursuing third-party reproduction to build your family as well as communication skills, relationship strategies, self-care, nurturing, and more. She encourages curiosity and changing your perspective when going through treatment and using gratitude to cope. Her profound understanding of those providing care, needing care, and paying for care has allowed her to develop successful strategic campaigns and programs across the country.
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Event Moderator
Caroline Kulczycka

Caroline Kulczycka

Caroline Kulczycka is an International Patient Coordinator who has been supporting IVF patients for over 2 years. Always eager to help and provide comprehensive information based on her thorough knowledge and experience whether you are just starting or are in the middle of your IVF journey. She’s a customer care specialist with +10 years of experience, worked also in the tourism industry and dealt with international customers on a daily basis, including working abroad. When she’s not taking care of her customers and patients, you’ll find her travelling, biking, learning new things or spending time outdoors.

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4988 patients’ questions answered by 170 IVF experts during 272 events.