For 1 in 8 it is not so easy to fall pregnant they instead have to endure rounds of hormone stimulation, injections and so much more.
Cassie Silver is one of those 1 in 8 who is struggling to conceive naturally. While some go down the negative spiral of ‘Why me’ and blaming lots on the universe she has chosen to put a positive spin on her experience and share hers plus many others journeys through her podcast: ‘What To Expect When You’re Injecting‘.
I haven’t created a human yet, but the journey has made me a better one.
“I’m grateful this is happening to me”, are words I never thought I would say when it comes to reflecting on my journey so far in trying to conceive. Why would anyone want to go through the pain, grief and uncertainty that comes with IVF? Is it the need for attention as the woman putting her body and soul through so much? Or the quest for validation that I am working harder that other to become a mother? The truth is, I wouldn’t change the cards I have been dealt because it’s the journey so far has completely changed my outlook on life. I had the fairy-tale picture in my mind when I married my best friend years ago and came off the pill. I started talking about baby names, character traits and even forecasted what horoscope they would be and aligned the moon and starts perfectly. Just like my type A personality, I had planned to fall pregnant after my 30th birthday, soon after our wedding. Fast forward a few years and we’ve had multiple IVF and FET cycles without any success. So- in a nutshell. While we haven’t made a human yet, it’s made me a better one.
Living with PCOS, a high follicle count, the inability to ovulate, blocked tubes and my husband’s poor sperm motility means IVF is our best chance to have a family. I have been no stranger to the world of swaps, smears and stirrups; suffering from abnormal cells and having many laparoscopy procedures since I was 18 years old. But, unlike any challenge or milestone I have faced in life, making a family is the only hurdle I have no control over and feel I am failing at. I have spent more than a decade working in the Australian mediaindustry as a television journalist, producer, presenter and now the owner of a successful production business. I am no stranger to the spotlight as a media identity in Perth and I’ve always made I my mission to life an authentic life. I have interviewed incredible individuals and travelled the world as a journalist, sharing their stories of success and struggle. While I have always been transparent, I never thought I would be sharing my own. If someone tells me I can’t do something, I fight for it even harder; I am a high achiever, I mean we collected 29 eggs at our last collection!
What started as a bruised ego is now a bruised belly, but Iwouldn’t change the cards I have been dealt. This journey has already made me a better friend, daughter, sister, colleague and wife. Ultimately, this is going to make me a better mother. A mother with a deep understanding of the value of empathy and the awareness of other people’s shit instead of suffocating in my own. I have cried through the park on my runs and walks as I fly by prams and mother’s groups feeling alone and lost. But it’s been the ability to change my internal language patterns and recognise self-sabotaging behaviour that’s made all the difference. Instead of wanting to run headfirst into prams and yell “F U”, I look at them and smile and say “that will be me very soon”. Yes, many strangers think I am a little creepy, but I am the only one who can control my emotions attached to infertility. I used to wish there was a different button to click other than “like” as people posted their baby announcements on social media. Maybe a “just a thumbs up” emoji will suffice my level of happiness for this Facebook acquaintance. Once again, there exciting news shouldn’t create a reaction of jealousy or anger, it should fuel hopefulness. I have run out of responses to comments like “everything happens for a reason” or “maybe a holiday will do you both some good.” For anyone who hasn’t experienced infertility, sometimes silence is the best support. One thing I’ve learnt, is I may feel lonely- but I am not alone. Whether it’s an early miscarriage, unsuccessful implantation or the embryo didn’t survive thawing, I have experienced the loss and grief which comes from all of them and I’ve learnt not to measure it.
I have more patience for people in general and take time to listen to their problems instead of finding solutions. Someone wise once told me, “when you’re heard, you start to heal” and I truly believe in the magic behind the phrase. My marriage is stronger than it was when we decided to come off the pill and give natural conception a good crack. We both understand eachothers love language and appreciate what we have more than what we don’t. We have had the Carrie and Big from Sex & The City chat about, “will it just be us two?” and are we ok with that? I now have more honest and open conversations with my family instead of being a hero and projecting a persona of success. Going through IVF and running my own business has taught me the value of balance and priorities, I learnt how to say NO. My friendships have a focus on quality not quantity, a bit like my outlook now at egg collection. I have removed people from my life I probably wouldn’t have had the guts to do a few years ago and created new connections instead. Not only has my rollercoaster ride through infertility been a chance to overcome a horrific fear of needles, but it’s also allowed me to evaluate how I see my own self-worth and esteem as a woman. I have gratitude’s written on my bathroom wall which remind me every day that my body is doing incredible things, the process is incredible, I am worthy, and my journey is remarkable. There is nothing wrong with being your own cheerleader and it gives you a new meaning behind the word empathy too. It’s redefined my definition of failure and allowed me to use my media skills in a completely new light as the host of new podcast “What ToExpect When You’re Injecting”. I wanted to marry my skills and struggle together by producing an authentic and uncensored podcast, “What To Expect When You’re Injecting”, a candid and personal discussion on IVF and infertility. This project is allowing me to turn pain into purpose and fill my life with contribution and connection. So, for those on the journey, try to find the silver lining in it; somewhere, somehow. IVF has made me a better person, and while many would never wish is upon anyone, this is the only time I can truly believe in the saying “everything happens for a reason”, regardless of loss, heartache and pain. While some may say I’ll be able to translate the gratitude I have right now into motherhood; the truth is, I may never be a mother, so for now my greatest achievement is to be a good human regardless of if I make my own or not.
Check out @injecting_to_be_expecting
Written by @cassiesilver
What To Expect When You’re Injecting is available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
The sense of smell is very important. Did you know that this sense often gets affected due to depression? Many observe during pregnancy that their sense of smell heightens often making nausea worse so why is it that many suffer a loss of smell in the postanatal stage due to postnatal depression or other mental illness post baby?
"Personally, my husband did not believe me that my sense of smell had gotten so bad due to my postnatal depression and anxiety. Unfortunately now many smells go unnoticed or the degree of the smell needs to be greater in order to sense it..."
So here is why?
Depression, schizophrenia and seasonal affective disorder all suppress the sense of smell. The olfactory bulbs is the part of the brain that gives us our sense of smell. Researchers have found that the more severely depressed a person was, the smaller their olfactory bulb. Therefore this suggests that depression may cloud, but not damage, a person's sense of smell. The reduced brain response to odours found in depressed persons may be tied to problems in two closely connected parts of the brain that play an important role in processing emotional information and smell, known as the orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala.
The effects were present whether or not an individual was taking antidepressant drugs.
It has also been noted that once the depression has been successfully treated the sense of smell/response to smells returned back to their normal levels.
Right now the role of exercise has taken an even higher priority. Not only are people stuck at home, so they have more time to spare. Secondly, mental health has taken a hit and many are struggling with a range of heightened emotions. Research keeps demonstrating that exercise can help to level out the emotional state and is imperative to copying at this time.
An area parents struggle with is finding the time to exercise - but there are ways to do exercise at home and no matter what age the kids are they can be a party to the activity. Not only is it a great bonding exercise but you are also being a role model in showing that exercise is important for mind and body….
Exercise also helps to increase the rate of postnatal recovery, improves muscle tone, circulation, digestion, mood, sleep patterns and so much more. (The list is endless)
As a result of CO-VID19 gyms and recreational centres have closed resulting in all needing to exercise at home or in their local park. Just because you are at home doesn’t mean you need fancy equipment to get in a resistance workout. By creating a HIIT style workout you can get a whole body, sweat producing workout that can be changed daily to keep motivation high. Ours normally consists of 6-8 exercises. We do 40-45 sec of work and 15 sec rest- with 30 sec recovery at the end of each circuit.
For example a leg focused workout might look like this:
7 exercises: Knee up, Plank, glute bridge, donkey kick, fire extinguisher, grapevine and sumo squat pulse. 45 sec work, 15 sec rest=7:30 one circuit. (2 circuits =15 min, 4 circuits=30 min etc)
People are also struggling to get equipment because demand is high. The other day we saw a kettlebell advertised for $260…Just because you don’t have equipment or can’t buy at this time doesn’t mean you can’t do resistance workouts. Here are some ideas for creative ways to make your own equipment:
- An upside down saucepan can act as a mini step- use it to do toe taps, travelling pushups, around the world, knee up etc
- Filling an old cushion cover with triple bagged sand/potting mix can be a medicine ball substitute- lift above head, slams, press ups- chest, squats with hugging weight, sit up with weight, lunges etc
- Fill a backpack with those extra cans that you now have stockpiled- all sorts of weighted exercises can be done- walking lunges, squats, bicep curls, press, farmers walk, tricep extensions, jump over burpees
- A chair- tricep dips, step ups, mountain climbers
- A bucket filled with water- 1 L = about 1 kg
- Use chalk to draw an agility ladder - great for cardio speed work , jumping, quick feet
Including your children in your workout is also a possibility.
Mindfulness is a process that leads to a mental state characterized by nonjudgmental awareness of the present experiences, such as sensations, thoughts, bodily states, and the environment. It enables us to distance ourselves from our thoughts and feelings without labeling them as good or bad.
Anxiety is the mind and body's reaction to stressful, dangerous, or unfamiliar situations. It's the sense of uneasiness, distress, or dread you feel before a significant event. A certain level of anxiety helps us stay alert and aware, but for those suffering from an anxiety disorder, it feels far from normal - it can be completely debilitating.
An anxious person will report an unreasonable exaggeration of threats, repetitive negative thinking, hyper-arousal, and a strong identification with fear. The fight-or-flight response kicks into overdrive.
By focusing our attention on the present moment, mindfulness counteracts rumination and worrying. Worrying about the future (e.g. I better remember to pay those bills and clean my house this weekend) and ruminating about the past (e.g., I should have done this rather than that) are generally maladaptive thinking processes. Mindfulness can be an important tool for helping us to better focus on the present moment.
Mindfulness helps us reduce anxiety and depression. Mindfulness teaches us how to respond to stress with awareness of what is happening in the present moment, rather than simply acting instinctively, unaware of what emotions or motives may be driving that decision. By teaching awareness for one's physical and mental state in the moment, mindfulness allows for more adaptive reactions to difficult situations.
Beyond Blue states:
“The research tells us that practising mindfulness does have some benefits for mental health wellbeing and for managing depression and anxiety. It is also helpful when it comes to managing some long-term physical conditions, helping the patient to better deal with pain or discomfort.
Many people who practise mindfulness report a number of tangible benefits, such as:
- Improved memory
- Better concentration
- More flexibility in their thinking
- Greater ability to focus
- Less rumination (when the mind gets over chatty!)
- Better stress management
- Higher satisfaction with relationships and quality of life
There has also been some research conducted linking the benefits of turmeric supplements by influencing the neurotransmitter balance in the brain and can be complimentary treatment.
Did you know:
PANDA - Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia supports women, men and families across Australia affected by anxiety and depression during pregnancy and in the first year of parenthood. PANDA operates Australia’s only National Helpline for individuals and their families to recover from perinatal anxiety and depression, a serious illness that affects up to one in five expecting or new mums and one in ten expecting or new dads.
PANDA operates Australia’s only National Helpline that supports families affected by perinatal anxiety and depression and postnatal psychosis. Our daily contact with women, men and families affected by these illnesses gives us extraordinary insight into the complex rollercoaster journey experienced by many expecting and new many parents. We have developed a unique understanding of perinatal mental illness across the country and are committed to sharing this expertise to improve emotional and mental health outcomes for expecting and new parents and their children.
They offer a number of different supports including:
Providing the only National Helpline dedicated to perinatal mental health, PANDA is driven by the lived experience of people affected by perinatal anxiety and depression. PANDA responds to the needs of families across Australia who are expecting a baby or in the first year after the baby’s birth, from major cities to rural and remote areas. The Helpline offers support, information, counselling and referral to expecting and new mothers and fathers and their families and friends. Our team also provides health professionals.
Community Champions Program
PANDA’s Community Champions program is a national network of volunteers who champion PANDA’s mission to support families in a positive transition to early parenthood. Along with raising community awareness about perinatal anxiety and depression, our Community Champions also promote PANDA’s specialist perinatal services and support PANDA’s community fundraising activities.
PANDA National Helpline
(Mon to Fri, 9am - 7.30pm AEST/AEDT)
Call 1300 726 306