Introducing… Sterling Robinson Tieman

Heyyyyyy… So I thought I should do a quick update since, you know, it has been a YEAR since I last wrote a blog post. I have contemplated on checking in or giving an update because this blog was never intended to be a pregnancy, post pregnancy, or mom blog. It was always a place to share my struggle through infertility. But I guess this blog wouldn’t be complete without the one thing that made this whole, crazy, rollercoaster journey worth it. So without further ado, I would like to introduce you to….

Miss Sterling Robinson Tieman

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Obviously she isn’t a newborn anymore- queue the ugly sad tears. Sterling is now 7 months old and “talking” and moving around like a wild banshee. She has been the sweetest and happiest baby I could have ever of hoped for. She is our little miracle. She is the one that was supposed to be.

So what now?

I feel like I want to write and share more. I want to write about how hard being pregnant was. How crazy, but amazing my labor and delivery were. How hard and rewarding motherhood is, and you know, everything and anything baby and mom related. I do not think this is the blog for that, I don’t know, maybe it is, or maybe it is time to start a new chapter on a different blog. What are your ladies thoughts? What did you do with your blog when and if you succeeded in growing your family? Do you think it is appropriate to blog about babies and motherhood on the same blog? 

Until then here is what I have to say to my fellow warriors, don’t loose hope. Do your research. Educate yourself. Take care of yourself mentally and physically. Pray. Love your partner hard. Keep fighting. The struggle is real. The payoff is priceless.

xoxo Rikki + Family

family photos

 

 

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4 Advances That Make IVF More Successful Than Ever

The world of fertility medicine is on the up and up. Couples dealing with the challenges of infertility can be as stressful as having cancer. Fortunately, the latest advances in in vitro fertilization (IVF) are giving them a better chance than ever of achieving their dreams.

What Is In Vitro Fertilization?

IVF is a medical and surgical approach to conception that involves fertilizing eggs outside a woman’s body. Normally, women produce one egg per monthly menstrual cycle, but IVF requires several eggs to increase the effectiveness of each procedure. To boost egg production, women take a series of medications over the course of two weeks.

Mature eggs are then retrieved during a minor surgical procedure in a physician’s office, and fertilized in the laboratory with the partner’s sperm. After about five days, one or two of the developing embryos are inserted into the woman’s uterus or, more and more these days, biopsied, frozen, and saved for future use.

IVF treats infertility caused by various factors, including damaged or blocked fallopian tubes, male problems (such as low or no sperm count), endometriosis, anatomic abnormality, or unexplained infertility. Increasingly, IVF is being used to preserve fertility (through egg and embryo freezing), as well as to diagnose fertility problems.

Advances in IVF

1. Genetic screening. The most important advances in IVF over the past several years involve embryo biopsy and genetic analysis, which help address the challenge of embryos that look good in the lab, but turn out to be chromosomally abnormal. Having too many or too few chromosomes increases miscarriage rates and the likelihood of problems like Down syndrome.

Traditionally, fertility doctors chose the embryos to place in a woman’s uterus according to a grading system based on their appearance. But even top-rated embryos can turn out to have chromosomal abnormalities. Using new techniques, we can now safely biopsy a few cells from each embryo, send them off for genetic screening, and freeze the embryos while waiting for results.

What we learn allows us to then select only chromosomally normal embryos for transfer, rather than relying on their appearance alone. This reduces the risk of miscarriages by about half.

In addition, couples at risk of having a baby with a genetic disease, such as Tay-Sachs, cystic fibrosis, or sickle-cell anemia, may undergo IVF to have their embryos genetically diagnosed and substantially reduce the odds of transmitting the disease to their children.

2. Single-embryo transfer. Another advantage of chromosomal screening is single-embryo transfer, a method that addresses a major criticism of the fertility industry: multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets, or more). For many years, it was standard practice to transfer two or more embryos at a time to maximize the chance of a successful pregnancy. This led to a rise in women carrying multiples, which increases the risk of serious maternal and fetal complications.

Since genetic screening tells us which embryos are more likely to lead to healthy pregnancies and babies, in many cases we can now select just one chromosomally normal embryo to transfer. Research has shown that even women up to age 42 can achieve an approximate 60 percent pregnancy rate with single-embryo transfer — about the same as with two embryos, but with drastically less risk of twins.

3. Frozen embryos. With the shift to chromosomal screening, embryos are increasingly being frozen and then thawed and transferred in a later monthly cycle. In a recent study published in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, my colleagues and I showed that transferring frozen-thawed embryos to a woman’s uterus during a normal monthly cycle is more likely to result in pregnancy and live birth than fresh embryos placed into a uterus stimulated with fertility drugs.

4. New medications. Another IVF advance involves the medication used to increase the production of eggs and speed their maturation. The traditional means of triggering ovulation is through injections of the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). However, hCG can be problematic for some women, as it sets the stage for ovarian hyperstimulation, a potentially dangerous condition.

As a result, a growing number of fertility centers are moving toward the use of gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist (GnRHa), which stimulates the brain’s own luteinizing hormones (LH). LH is the body’s natural trigger for egg production. It circulates long enough to ripen and prepare the eggs for harvesting, but not enough to activate ovarian hyperstimulation.

A new study has identified another promising therapy that stimulates the body’s own LH. Researchers found that administering the hormone kisspeptin instead of hCG effectively triggers egg maturation while preventing ovarian hyperstimulation in women at high risk for the condition. Before kisspeptin becomes widely available, however, further research is needed to directly compare it with GnRHa.

The Sooner, the Better

As you can see, several exciting developments are enhancing the success of IVF. However, if you have fertility issues, the best thing you can do to increase your chances of getting pregnant and having a child is to seek fertility counseling earlier rather than later. Since you are born with all the eggs you will ever produce, and the egg supply dwindles as you age, the sooner you seek assistance, the more likely a fertility specialist will be able to help you.

 

Source: Tanmoy Mukherjee, MD
Associate Director, Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility,
Mount Sinai Health System;
Co-Director, Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York;
Assistant Clinical Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science,
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

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where have i been?

It has been a little over a month since I have written a blog post or have even checked in on fellow bloggers. The truth is I haven’t really been in the mood to write about what feels like the never ending battle of infertility. I feel like this blog is a blessing, but also a place where I find myself putting too much negative, yet sometimes humorous attention on infertility, instead of sending out positive vibes into the universe like, ” I am fertile!”. So where have I been and what have I been up to?

As I wrote a while ago I started taking Zoloft to help with my lows. No shame here. I freakin love it. I should have started it a year ago. I think I may have been a little too hopeful that it would be a magic pill making everything perfectly perfect. Although it has improved my mood, my motivation, and my emotions, I still have bad days, but they are few and far between and not so low. All in all I would recommend it to anyone who needs a little lift.

My brother in law and sister in law had their new baby in November. A beautiful baby girl named Elle. I don’t know why it was so hard this time around. Maybe because we had been trying to get pregnant before they were even married and now they have two kids under 2 years old. It could also be the fact that I really wanted to have the first girl in the Tieman family. I mean come on they got the first baby! Don’t be selfish! I didn’t go meet her until a week later. I know I am being a little dramatic here, but I was having a hard time processing everything. It took be by surprise how emotional I was about it all since I had been doing so good, but the minute she went into labor I broke down. Anyways it’s all good now and I just think she is the cutest.

We have been going on a lot of mini vacations. We went to Palm Springs to celebrate one of my oldest and dearest friends 30th birthday and surprise engagement! She asked me to be in her wedding next year and I couldn’t be more excited for them.

Earlier this year my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a lumpectomy and went through radiation, which she completed in July and is now breast cancer free. Yippee. Earlier this month though, she was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Unrelated to her breast cancer. It is early stage, but she will have to get a hysterectomy next month and depending on what they find she may have to go through radiation again or chemotherapy. We are praying that they won’t find anything else. I just cannot believe it. Diagnosed with two different kinds of cancer in one year.

I am really trying to get into the Christmas spirit this year since we were out of the country last year for the holidays. Hubs and I got a tree right after Thanksgiving and I decorated the house to the nines. Did I mention that he let me get a pink flawked Christmas Tree? Yes you heard right. A. Pink. Tree. It’s a beaut.

I gave up Facebook… Sort of.

I started meditating daily. I listen to fertility affirmations before I go to sleep at night and sometimes I listen to relaxing meditations during the day to give me more energy or take a break from the chaos. I have found that it has helped put me in a positive mindset. It has helped me to see that I am deserving of happiness.

I am still climbing and we recently went on an outdoor climbing/camping adventure in Joshua Tree. It was sooo muchhhh funnnn! First, I love camping. Second, I love climbing. And Third, my sister and hubs younger brother came along and it was a great time. Joshua Tree has amazing top roping and I have to say I am better outside than in the gym.

All in all I have been a busy girl, but I have also just needed a break from this infertility world. I will be back soon, but until then have the happiest of holidays xoxo

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a little crutch

I have decided to be honest with myself. I need a little help right now.

I have worked hard on trying everything natural first to deal with my anxiety and depression over infertility and everything surrounding it. Using essential oils, meditating, exercise, but it’s just not cutting it. I have been feeling worse and worse this past year and more intensely the past few months. My highs are high and my lows are lower. The lows seem to occupy most of my days, more than the good ones. I do a good job faking it, but inside I am hurting. I am breaking.

I decided to see a therapist and my primary care doctor last week because I seriously thought I was having a nervous breakdown at one point. I was hesitant, but accepting of both their advice to take Zoloft for a while. I hate that my infertility has led to me this. It makes me sad and angry all over again! But, I am for the first time, in a long time, hopeful that getting a little help from my friend Z might help me in big ways. I have had a few friends take Zoloft while they were going through infertility and they both said it worked wonders for them. Zoloft is non habit forming and is easy to wean off of when I feel that I am ready to do so. This anti-depressant is also recommended when trying to conceive because you can continue taking it if you do become pregnant. {in the case that I do become pregnant I am pretty sure I will stop, since my depression is situational}. Zoloft also helps with motivation, anxiety, and not letting things effect you as much. I mean I still want to feel, but I am hoping I won’t feel so intensely. I know Z isn’t a magic pill that is going to make everything rainbows and butterflies. I am just hoping it will make things blue birds and waterfalls 🙂 This is scary to write and admit that I need a little crutch at the moment. If I am going to get better and stay sane in my life, my head, my heart, and my journey, I need to own it. It is ok to have a little help.

Other rituals I have started to help with my mood in conjunction with Zoloft:

-Taking fish oil with DHA, which I have read and heard from a good friend, helps with mood and depression.

-I have started listening to nightly meditations before going to bed to help me relax and fall asleep easier. {thanks Justine for the great advice in your book}

-Opening all my blinds in the morning to let the sunshine in. My doctor told me that starting your day off with a little bit of sunlight helps with happiness all day long.

-Cutting back on the caffeine. Now, I am not a big caffeine drinker, I only have a half a cup in the morning and I may get a Starbucks in the after noon and drink half, but doctor told me I should not be drinking caffeine after 2pm. So I will be giving that up.

-No boozing. Ok maybe I will have a glass of wine here or there. You aren’t really supposed to drink when taking Z, so I am going to try and follow that as good as I can!

-Step up my exercise routine. I am climbing 2 days a week, but I need to be going at least 3 along with cardio. I am hoping Z will help step up my motivation.

Z isn’t an instant fix. It will take a couple weeks to feel its full effects. I am just hoping it will be as my friend put it…”It’s like waking up one morning to the most beautiful sunshiny day, when all you have been seeing for weeks is the biggest thunder storm.”

 

 

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The Loneliness of Grief

Lately I have been noticing that a lot of the lady loves I follow are feeling the same way I am about infertility kicking our asses emotionally. Today Resolve posted a great blog post by The Broken Brown Egg, and I think it pretty much sums up my feelings exactly about loneliness, anger, and grief in regards to infertility. I just adore it. I hope you enjoy as much as I did.

“October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month. During last month’s #MoonshineMeetup, a conference call for the Broken Brown Egg’s Shellshocked Support Group, one participant said something so profound that it really made me stop.  She said, “If someone’s child passes away, they are expected to mourn, and they are allowed to think about it.  Because my child was never “born”, does that mean I should act as though it never happened?  Why don’t I get to think about them?”. 

It was a heartbreaking thought, because it made me really stop and think about how lonely grief really is.  I started to really think about how many women and men we encounter every day who we never suspect to be in mourning.  They are right in the middle of their pain, and we look right through it.

Infertility in and of itself, is an ongoing bereavement.  With every month gone by, you are constantly grieving over your vision for your life, your hope, or your plan for your future. Every single day is a readjustment period.  Every reset and restart is like signing yourself up for the same pain all over again.

And the hardest thing about grieving, the absolute worst thing, is that it feels as though everyone wants you to forget. They will say that it’s because they want you to feel better, but you feel as though what they really want, is for you to not bring them down.  They don’t want to look at your sadness anymore because it is an uncomfortable inconvenience.

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” ― Vicki Harrison

To our credit, most of us do a pretty good job of keeping our sadness to ourselves.  But it crushes you.  Your heart feels like it’s beating out of your chest, and your body does what feels like a double-step.  You think to call or message someone, or just scream “Help Me!!”, but then that overwhelming feeling of loneliness sets in.

You’re not actually alone, but it feels that way.

Because everyone else is over it.  And you just know that when you start laying out your issues, their facial expressions will say, “are you still talking about this?”, or “umm,…isn’t there someone else more qualified to listen to you about this?”.  Everyone else seems to have moved on.  Everyone else can act as though nothing ever happened.

But something did happen.

And it is happening.

And it hurts.

It feels as if everyone wants you to “just” let it go.

And you’re left thinking, “But why do I have to forget?

And, “Why don’t THEY remember?”

You get furious at their impatience.  At their painful indifference.  At the way they treat you as though you want to stay there.  That you want to feel this way.  That you want to be unhappy.

We spend a million hours every week with all types of people.  Laughing, talking, hanging out, working our jobs.  Mundane things.  And most of the time, nobody realizes who is actually broken inside.  I mean, if you can do your job adequately, and you provide enough of a “you” for it not to be so obvious that you aren’t firing on all cylinders, not one person is going to touch your shoulder like in the movies and say, “Really, are you okay?”.

“Grief never ends… But it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith… It is the price of love.”
— Unknown

Wherever you are in your process, it was on my heart to share this simple truth: Grief is lonely, and it often outlasts sympathy, but it is necessary.  Allow yourself to grieve. No matter how you come out of this, or when you reach the ever-elusive “other side” of it, know that it is your right, to remember and reflect and regroup.

Whether it is a child who never took a breath, or one who took far too few.  If it were a dream that never came to light, or a loved one who is no longer with you,…you have the absolute right to remember that it/they mattered.  The condition of your heart, is important.  What it feels like to YOU, is valid.  And what you’re going through, is real.

Take all the time, and love, that you need.  You have my empathy.”

source: thebrokenbrownegg

Take care my friends and know that I too, have so much empathy for you. I am always here to just listen, for a shoulder to cry on, or to have a glass of vino ready to chat. xoxo Rikki

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