Struggling with Infertility: How to Be Happy

How to be happy when infertile.When struggling with recurrent pregnancy loss, staying happy can be hard. The reminders of one’s failure are never too far – you walk out of your house and there you have it – pregnant ladies and families with children are literally everywhere. You don’t need to even walk out: turn on a TV, read a magazine or browse your Facebook account. There is just no escaping one’s failure to reproduce – babies are EVERYWHERE.

Coming to terms with this huge injustice is an everyday struggle. Below I summarized things that helped me keep my sanity and happiness when going through my infertility struggles.

#1 Realize that being a parent does not guarantee happiness. 

It’s something that my best friend told me and it stuck with me, “Don’t think that everyone who has kids is happy.” When she said it to me, I realized how true that was. I have friends who had children with men who gave them all kinds of trouble when they split up. As single parents, they certainly didn’t have it easy. They were also bound to the same location and couldn’t move where they wanted to due to the fact they had kids with someone they no longer lived with. I also have friends who are staying in not very happy relationships only because there are kids involved. How happy of the life is that? Years spent with someone you are not happy with doesn’t sound much like happiness to me.

#2 Realize that happiness is a choice. 

As humans, we always tend to want things we don’t have. We think that having those things would make us happy. Then when we do get them, we are happy for a little while but then go on to wanting something else that would make us happy. This unfortunate lack of appreciation of what is causes people to never be quite happy. The circumstances will never be perfect for you to be happy – childless or not, you will always have struggles. It’s thus essential to appreciate the blessings of the present and consciously choose to be happy.

#3 Realize that happiness can be found in all kinds of circumstances. 

People who desperately want a baby often fail to realize that there are parents who are very unhappy. There are also childless couples who are extremely happy. Don’t condition your happiness on circumstances: don’t wait for the perfect situation to be happy. Every single day that you are healthy and breathing is a good enough occasion to be happy.

#4 Realize the struggles of being a parent

If only you had a baby, you’d be happy… But the truth is that if you did have a baby, you’d have new and different struggles. Many parents struggle financially or in their personal relationships. They are unhappy about lack of the time they have for themselves and each other. When your kids get sick or get in trouble, you are worried and unhappy.

#5 Realize that statistically speaking, childless couples are actually happier

A recent extensive research on this topic concluded that child-free couples are actually happier than parents. The American Sociological Association found that parents are more likely to be depressed than their childfree counterparts.

It helps me to know that no matter if I end up having my own kids or not, I can be happy as long as I am healthy. I hope you too can find this happiness within.

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Reap the Benefits of Being Childless

Count your blessings, not your problems.As I am writing this article, I am two days after my D&E procedure which took away my hopes of having a baby. Ironically, I am laying on the pool chair next to a pregnant girl my age. I can’t help but feel jealous, angry, and sad. “This could have been me in couple weeks” is running through my head. Unfortunately, the reality is different.

Despite my occasional weak moments, I am all right with the situation. I try to make a lemonade from the lemons I have been given. After weeks of nausea, poor sleep, and inability to focus, I am able to be myself again. I finally don’t have the need to eat constantly, I can cook again (yey!) and the house is cleaner than it has been since the start of my second pregnancy. I am picking up my slack at work and I feel renewed motivation to make something out of my life.  I feel the urge to reap the full benefits of being childless and intend to make the best out of this unfortunate situation. Since being a parent is apparently not in my imminent future (and may never be), I might as well make the best of it.

I have time to better myself and my life. I can travel freely. I don’t need to stress out too much about money. If I need to move, I can easily do so. If I am not happy in a relationship, I don’t need to stay for the sake of a child. I can sleep whenever. I can have sex whenever. I can go out whenever. I can live wherever and with whomever. I am not tied to anything. Having children is a blessing but it indeed affects every aspect of your life. You will never be as worry free as you have once been when you have kids. Yes, you will not experience many things that parents do. BUT you will experience different things. They are not worse; they are just different. Hopefully one day you will go to experience the joys and downfalls of parenting too, but at the present moment when Mother Nature doesn’t allow for it, enjoy the freedom and self-focused and relatively stress-free time.

I still have a lot of hope, because there are many recurrent miscarriages with happy endings. But at this time I know that I can’t have a baby and it makes no sense to revel in it. As I mentioned in my Remember the Big Picture post, it’s important to count the blessings, not your problems. There are worse things that can happen, so while I am relatively healthy, I am determined to make the best of every day and be happy.

My First D&E Experience

Hardships of miscarriageAs mentioned in my last post, I’ve recently underwent my first D&E. It was a first surgery for me as well.

My second pregnancy started out great – I was pretty nauseous since my 5th week (which is usually a good sign), my HCG and progesterone at 5 weeks were awesome, and I have never felt any cramping or had any spotting. I was putting on weight and my belly was growing. Due to all of that, I really believed that the first miscarriage was probably just bad luck and this pregnancy would work out.

I went for the first ultrasound at 9 weeks and didn’t get good news. No heartbeat could be seen, though the tech could find the fetal pole (embryo), gestational sac and yolk sac. She asked me to come again two days later for another scan, but pushed for booking me for D&E that would take place right after the second scan. I felt quite forced into it at first but after reading the horror stories of other women who went through labor pains and ended up in ER when trying to miscarry naturally, I decided to trust the doctor’s advice. I went for another ultrasound two days later. No heartbeat. I was told the baby probably passed recently, around 8 weeks in and that the sac measured at 9 weeks. This differed quite a bit from the conclusions of the tech I had at the first ultrasound, who told me the baby passed at about 6 weeks 3 days and that the sac measured 10 weeks. Either way, they both didn’t see a heartbeat.

Prior to my ultrasound, I was told not to eat or drink anything for 12 hours before the scheduled surgery time. I had to take off all jewelry and not use any skin or hair products, aside from anti-bacterial soap the morning of D&E. I made sure to eat & drink a lot before the cut off time, because I knew I would be starving otherwise. I was pretty hungry anyway but the heaviness of the situation made me forget it.

I was told to be at the hospital 2 hours prior to the surgery. They just went over my medical history, had me sign consent forms, talk to the anesthesiologist, get the basic vital signs tests, get the IV in etc.

I was also offered to send the embryo for genetic testing since this was my second miscarriage but neither the doctor nor the hospital were able to tell me what is the billing code and without it my insurance wouldn’t tell me if they would cover it or not. I couldn’t afford paying thousands of dollars for it, so I decided not to do it. It makes me mad that nobody could tell me how much it would cost me. Perhaps I should have done it regardless, but at the time the doctor said it would most likely show the genetic abnormality, in which case the loss would be most likely a fluke. My friend had it done and they told her in all cases it was abnormality in the fetus, which didn’t pinpoint her to what the issue was anyway (her eggs were sticking together causing recurrent miscarriage). However, if I was to miscarry the third time, I would most definitely send it out.

After the prep was complete, the nurse gave me a “happy medicine” and wheeled me into the operating room. I remember watching the doctor and nurses get everything ready for the surgery. I didn’t even manage to stay awake for the countdown – I drifted away shortly after I was brought in – don’t even know how. The procedure took just about 20 minutes and was performed by my ob/gyn. I felt no pain. Hour and a half later, I started waking up in the post-op room, mostly because I started to feel some cramping. With my eyes still closed, I overheard a nurse talking to someone saying she was surprised they did D&E on me since I was just 9 weeks in. I pretended not to hear it – she thought I was still under anesthesia.  That thought did stuck with me though – I was surprised myself as I read online that this procedure is usually done in the second trimester, but I also read that D&C is now obsolete technique which is getting replaced by vacuum or medical abortion. I chose to trust the doctor, but I must say I do question his decision a lot. It’s the downside of the U.S. healthcare – a lot is done not because it is the best for the patient but because it makes more money. I have learned that over the years.

Aside from very minor cramping, I felt completely normal (at least physically). I was released three hours after the surgery with instructions of no sex, swimming, and bathing until my follow up appointment in two weeks. The day of the surgery and the day after I didn’t bleed almost at all. I had few drops of blood when peeing but that’s all. Even though the doctor prescribed some pain medicine, I didn’t have to take it because I felt no pain.

I will keep you all posted on my follow up appointment. For those who are to go for D&E for the first time, it’s really not as bad as it seems. Perhaps the worst is the psychological aspect of it – knowing your baby is gone. The thought of it did keep me up at night and even though I was sort of like sleeping, I was more thinking about it all. Despite all of that happening, I am staying optimistic – one day I will have a family, whether I am blessed to have my own baby or adopt one. And you will too.

Remember the Big Picture!

Remember the big picture.Today marked the end of my second (unsuccessful) attempt at having a healthy baby. This time the baby was hanging in there longer – the doctor estimates about 8 or so weeks. I had a D&E (my first surgery) done as recommended by my ob/gyn at my 9.5 weeks. More about my D&E experience here. But the reason for this post is not to pity myself, quite the opposite. It’s to put things in a bigger perspective for all of you who are struggling with the recurrent loss. It’s something I realized as I was waiting at the hospital to get the surgery done. Before I get to that, lets differentiate between the feelings of one miscarriage and a recurrent miscarriage….

Remember that time when you were pregnant for the first time? It was such an exciting experience.. What am I having – boy or girl? What will I name my baby? How am I going to tell my partner and parents? What books should I get? What things should I buy? You worry a little (or maybe a lot) but somehow you are still pretty optimistic about carrying your baby to full term. The bad pregnancy news hits you like a tons of bricks. It’s so unfair. So depressing. You cry your eyes out. You are in disbelief. You slowly get back on track, because you are told miscarriages are just so common. It will work out next time – it was a fluke. You move on and try again.

The next pregnancy you are not as excited. You know the reality all too well. You don’t take “we are pregnant!”  or belly shots pictures during the fifth week. I was asked by my ob/gyn upon my pregnancy appointment with #2 how many pregnancy tests I took. I said, “One”. He was pretty surprised. I explained, “Well after my first miscarriage I really don’t get so excited anymore.” Sadly, to keep yourself from getting so hurt, you don’t get your hopes up. You still have hope, but it’s nothing like the first time. The past experience of miscarriage robs you of that initial excitement.

Both recurrent loss and first-time loss are hard. First-time loss throws you in a harsh reality. Second loss robs you of the excitement and takes away a little more hope. But no matter how many losses you have gone through, there will be hope, pain, disappointment, and worry.

But one thing that is extremely important is to keep the big picture in mind. This one single thing to me has been the most helpful in my effort to find strength and move on. We tend to forget it, because it is fairly easy to do when things go wrong. As I was walking through the hospital building today, my friend pointed out a girl sitting in the lobby – her head was shaved, her skin was pale, and she was connected to the IV. She could have been about 14 years old. Sitting at the table, she was chatting and laughing. It was there and then when I realized that being nose deep in my “miscarriage self-pity”, I totally forgot about the big scheme of things.

There are children right this second fighting cancer. There are parents who just lost their kids to sicknesses and tragic accidents. There are people who know their days are numbered. Imagine the strength they find to go on.

So don’t lose your precious time feeling bad about yourself and your life. Don’t complain. Don’t be depressed. Put your past behind you and live in the now. And in the now, I am pretty certain you have a lot more than most people today.  

What to Eat to Decrease Your Risk of Miscarriage

There are tons of articles on foods you should and should not eat during pregnancy. I am not a big fan of those based on the personal opinion as these claims are often misleading and unfounded. To create this visual guide, I used an article that uses research to support the claims. Here is a quick summary of what food you should eat during your pregnancy as much as possible (you’ll especially like #1!):

Food to eat during pregnancy

Happy shopping! xxx

How to Stop Worrying about a Miscarriage

Worried about Miscarriage?  Read this.You received the happy news of being pregnant but can’t stop worrying about all the things that can go wrong. That’s natural, especially for the first pregnancy or after you’ve already experienced a miscarriage. I went through this vicious cycle six months ago and wanted to share things that have helped me get through it:

1. Stop reading

If you are like me, you have done a great deal of research on the topic of miscarriage. You spent hours reading different articles about miscarriage and Google search every possible keyword related to it. It’s good to be educated, but it’s not good to obsess about it. Friend of mine who went through several miscarriages told me to just stop reading about it and when I did, I stopped thinking about it as much and stopped stressing out as much. So for the first trimester, just take your prenatals, limit your exercise to walking & swimming which are safe, eat healthy diet, and see your ob/gyn regularly. There is abundance of scary miscarriage articles and most people can fit just about anything you read. Some people bleed and have cramps but don’t miscarry, some do. In any case, talk about your issues with your ob/gyn but stay away from self diagnosis. Limit your reading and rather spend your time resting (because after the baby comes, there won’t be much of that!)

2. Start writing

Start writing a journal. In early pregnancy most people don’t want to tell others about their pregnancy so talking your feelings over with others is not an option. Write a journal when you feel like you need to get it off your chest. It will help you sort out your thoughts.

3. Write down the good things about the worst-case scenario  

I know it’s hard to see anything good about such a tragedy and loss. Maybe the timing isn’t right, maybe the person you’re with isn’t the right one, maybe the baby wouldn’t be healthy. Have faith that everything is as it should be – everything comes at the right time, so take it easy.  I also remind myself that “Everything happens for a reason” and “God gives his toughest battles to his toughest soldiers”.

4. There is a 99% chance your fears are a waste of time

There are many scary stats about miscarriage and infertility. Among all those I’ve read, here is one that’s worth remembering:  Just 2 percent of pregnant women experience two pregnancy losses in a row, and only about 1 percent have three consecutive pregnancy losses. That’s very large chance to have a successful pregnancy the next time around. And most women who experience more than three miscarriages still go on to have a healthy baby. So even though your miscarriage is not happy news, chances are next time it works out.

5. Get busy doing what you enjoy.

Take your mind off your pregnancy for the first trimester and do the things you enjoy (that don’t hurt the baby of course). Take walks, naps, read, watch comedies, go out to lunches… enjoy alone time, because when the baby is here, there won’t be any for a long time!

Lastly, when negative thoughts creep out on you, tell yourself to stop. At times it gets hard to stay positive but when you notice you’re worrying about miscarriage, tell yourself that negative thoughts won’t help you but hurt you. You have nothing to lose by deciding not to stress out right? So when your fears haunt you, say “I will not stress out over this because stressing out over it won’t help anything.” In fact, some studies say stress makes miscarriage more likely (and some don’t find the link) – either way, stress causes health issues so stay as calm as possible.

I hope these words will at least help some of you feel better. Let me know how you cope with your miscarriage fears – what makes you feel better?

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

You can join in other who are honoring this day on Twitter by sharing your story with the hashtag #IHadAMiscarriage.

If that’s not something you want to join in, remember to light a candle for the baby you never got to meet.

A good article came out today in New York Times you all may enjoy. Click here to read “Saying it Loudly: I Had a Miscarriage” article.