Updated: Sep 27
Welcome back to Consider Yourself Hugged! Click here to listen to Episode 146. OR click YouTube below to watch! (***Disclaimer: We provide these notes as a skeleton for the show - nothing fancy 😄)
About Amber Stuehser
I am a Training Coordinator for an Employee Assistance Program, as well as a Virtual Assistant for various companies. I am a writer, editor, dancer, PCOS warrior, and pet lover. My wonderful husband and I have been struggling with infertility for over 5 years, and have run the gamut from naturally conceiving, trying various supplements, to medications and shots, multiple surgeries, IUIs, and IVF. We are hoping and praying one day for our maybe babies to become our actual babies. My goal in sharing my journey is to attempt to reduce stigma around an issue that many suffer in silence about and help others realize, you are not alone, and your feelings are valid.
I currently have a Facebook Group, as well as a blog that I host infrequently, as a safe space for women to come together and support one another on our journeys, whatever shape that takes for you.
Amber's Story and Words of Wisdom (in her own words!)
It's impossible to capture the passion, pain, love, and hope in this woman's voice simply through words. So, below is what Amber wrote for you, but please listen to hear so much more!
1in 6 people worldwide, and 1 in 5 in the USA experience infertility. 1/3 is due to female issues, 1/3 is due to male issues, and 1/3 is due to both and unknown infertility issues.
"First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes children" societal, generational, and religious expectations.
Pressure of everyone the same age in the same phase and can only be friends and have things to talk about if have kids.
Stigma around infertility and miscarriage (less than).
Never shown in media - when it is, it is the horrors of infertility and treatments, or they magically get pregnant in the end
No one knows how to talk to you about it, and will constantly be offering advice of what their cousin's aunt's friend did to get pregnant, not realizing that it is not a matter of not being stressed and more self-care, but medical conditions. You can either snap at them and say their advice is not helpful and then you are the mean one, or you paste on a fake smile and nod.
Even doctors, who should be your advocates, their go-to is "don't stress, lose weight, and go on birth control to balance your hormones"...even if you are trying to actively conceive. Or, "You're still young, what are you worrying about?" It's having to become your own medical expert and advocate.
Having to live double life between the happy put-together face with family, work, friends, since you don't always want to be the Debbie Downer that is obsessing about your infertility, even though you think about it every day. It's awkward and stressful at every family reunion and event, especially if you are more private and not sharing your journey, and the constant asking when are you going to have kids, when will there be cousins for my kids to play with, when will there be grandkids. And, if you have told them, it is the look of pity, and that is the only topic of conversation when you get together, is what's the latest news from the doctor, as if that is the only aspect of your life that matters.
It is the grief and bitterness every holiday and birthday of yet another year has gone by of you not being able to achieve your dreams, another year wasted on your fertility time clock, while seeing all the cute holiday-themed pregnancy announcements and ever and around you on their second or third child, while here you are just wishing for one
No resources or support system, you find very few resources on social media of people that are in the same boat, or you have the hundreds of websites that are trying to get you to buy their herbal supplement that they claim will magically solve your infertility problems. It is constantly sacrificing vacations, paying off debt, and savings, to pay for infertility treatments that have no guarantee of success. It is living your life in two-week, one-month, 9-month increments, since you're afraid to plan anything, on the small chance you might be pregnant. It is living in limbo, waiting for the next stage of your life to happen, and feeling guilty when you are enjoying aspects of life and putting trying for kids on pause.
It is constantly readjusting your dreams and the timeline you envisioned for your family. It is wondering if your spouse would be better off with someone else, and blaming yourself for the infertility problems and additional strain on your marriage and sex life. And, even if you do get pregnant, there is no guarantee you'll actually carry a healthy baby full-term.
If you have suffered a miscarriage, and have been able to have children afterward it is always wondering what to say when people ask how many kids you have. Or, feeling like your secondary infertility struggles aren't as valid, because at least you have one.
What Helps? -Good therapist, that specializes in grief and women's health.
Support groups, online if necessary. -Journaling to get the thoughts out and processed. -Friends that will be there to let you vent and support you no matter what. -Compile a "self-care/grieving/infertility/pick-me-up" playlist to help you process through your emotions. -Try not to blame yourself, or blame your spouse for their biology. -A healthy coping mechanism for each failed cycle, failed treatment, a rough holiday to try and still find happiness and joy in the small things to the grief doesn't overwhelm you. For me, it's sushi, for others, it could be a massage or using fancy bath bombs, or getting a special candle or treat or something. -Allow yourself to feel your feelings. They are valid.
One of my biggest takeaways from Amber is that you are not alone, no matter what! Remember to take care of yourself, connect with others, and most importantly: accept love and love yourself!
Thank you Amber!!
Battling Infertility (Facebook)
Infertility School (Instagram)
Let's Talk Infertility (Instagram)
Infertility Words (Instagram)
Mental Health Resources: National Alliance of Mental Illness
Thanks for joining today! As we’ve always asked in the past, please pass the show link along to your friends and subscribe, download, and review wherever you are listening. If you’re a woman and you haven’t joined our private FB group A Place for Women, please do that now! It’ll be your source of encouragement.
And until next time, Consider Yourself Hugged 😘🤗
The information in this show is not intended to be therapy or to address your individual situation. It is information based on my experiences, opinions, and research. If you need further help, please reach out to one of the resources mentioned in the show notes.
Michelle Kixmiller, MSN, MAE, RN, APN, PMHNP-BC Michelle Kixmiller is a Board Certified
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and Licensed Educator. She works with children and adults with mental health needs including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, ADHD, autism, schizophrenia, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Michelle served as a public school teacher and science department chair for over a decade when a family tragedy pulled her in a different direction. The death of her younger brother after a multiple year battle with depression and alcoholism led her to pursue a career in the mental health field. She went back to school to become a registered nurse graduating and gaining experience as a critical care nurse at a level 1 regional burn center prior to completing a graduate degree to become a mental health nurse practitioner. Her vision is holistic care through teamwork to create a more peaceful school environment for students and staff alike. No one should have to struggle alone. Michelle currently works full time for a non-profit community mental health center at an outpatient clinic and works PRN for an inpatient crisis stabilization unit. When not at work she loves spending time with family, traveling, watching movies (not scary ones), running (slowly), and Crossfit. Contact Michelle at Silver Lining Psychiatric Solutions, 615-378-7713 or email@example.com.
Grace Lichtenstein, MS
I am an award-winning international speaker/trainer, psychotherapist, coach, consultant, and a huge fan of all things nap-related. For over 25 years, I have been working with individuals and corporate teams to improve their health, become more productive, and reduce their stress. Through my training in both Western and Eastern wellness philosophies (including a BA in Psychology, an MS in Counseling Psychology, and certifications in addiction treatment), I truly have a comprehensive view of "what works". In addition, my diverse experience working with thousands of people in all 50 states and in 25 other countries (ranging from native New Yorkers to Native Alaskans and from the FBI to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops), has allowed me to pinpoint some of the universal characteristics of successful individuals and teams.
Through my signature online, on-demand coaching program or with one of my live training or speaking sessions, I provide the tools to help almost every individual and team reach their true potential: healthier, more productive, and less stressed.
Contact Gracey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tami West, PhD Stress and Mental Health Expert Dr. Tami West uses her entertaining and compelling style to shine a new light on how to transform your life and discover solutions to life’s challenges. Her passion stems from a lifelong battle with an anxiety disorder which has uniquely equipped her to teach, encourage, and motivate others.
Tami has worked in a variety of industries including healthcare, school nutrition, corporate sales, and 10 years as a public-school teacher. In 2013 she received her PhD in Human Development, studying the connections among stress, emotions, and identity. She is so passionate about removing the mental health stigma that she recently became a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor.
Dr. West has spoken in 48 states across the US, as well as the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. In any given year, Tami speaks to groups with audiences consisting of anywhere from 100 to 3,000 people.
Her audiences are diverse and include Danbury Federal Prison inmates, teachers, administrative assistants, food service, and senior executives at Social Security Administration.
Dr. West is the author of several successful publications including two books: The Stress Club, Life Without the Monsters and Thrive. She is a mother of eight in a blended family and enjoys reading historical fiction, traveling with her husband Tim and family, and watching The Big Bang Theory.