Archive | July 2011

Fertility and the path to parenthood

Why does it seem that everyone in the world is pregnant and having babies when you have been trying for years and spend every waking moment thinking about it? I wish I knew. God knows you don’t want to hear the word infertility ever, yet it seems to be on the tip of your tongue and front of your brain constantly.

Nine years ago, when I was 32 and married a few years I thought I could have babies quite easily. Why wouldn’t I, I was young and healthy? Sound familiar? The journey started with my OB whom I had been seeing since I was a teenager. Someone I trusted with my fertility health. Her philosophy with me was, come to me if you don’t get pregnant in 1 year. Needless to say with cycles that varied from 34-49 days using the standard method of ovulation detection was impossible and frustrating. Fast forward to one round of clomid and not even being able to bring my cycle to under 35 days it was scratch that and move on quickly to FSH and insemination. All the standard tests were normal.

The struggle began and so I tried to educate myself on fertility and how to enhance it in any way possible. After two unsuccessful cycles with fertility drugs I made the decision to consult a proven fertility clinic, Connecticut Fertility Associates in Norwalk and Bridgeport. After one cycle resulting in hyperstimulation the suggestion of IVF was made. I was tired and decided to just take a break and keep seeing my acupuncturist to treat my long cycles (possible PCOS) without medical treatments for a while.

I looked for support groups and didn’t find any in the area. However I was anything but private about my fertility health. I found talking with a few friends here and there resulted in finding others who were experiencing or had experienced similar struggles. The support and hope was helpful. Through my fertility journey I went back to school and became a therapist and used my education to help me through the ordeal.

After almost 4 years of trying to get pregnant naturally and with assisted technologies, IVF with acupuncture seemed to be the best combination. This approach resulted in a twin pregnancy and full term birth of healthy boys. Over four years later I can be brought back to that period of time in an instant hearing a story of someone trying to get pregnant or miscarrying.

What I do now in my private practice is help women and their spouses create a fertility plan and increase communication and stress management skills. Starting a support group is another way to help women with stress and create a forum to discuss what only someone who has gone through it can really understand.

What if things are so overwhelming, when do you need help from a professional?

Seek help – ask for a referral from your doctor, look for a therapist on AAMFT website (American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy) http://www.aamft.org, your insurance referral list, EAP (Employee Assistance Program), or clergy. Don’t suffer in silence.

Lenore Pranzo, MA, LMFT is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Redding, CT with a private practice in her home and is a mother of 4 year old twin boys. She works with couples, teens, groups and individuals on issues including substance abuse, fertility, anxiety, depression, marital strain, and stress management.

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Parenting and stress on the marriage

As a mother of twin 4 year old boys and a Marriage and Family Therapist I am constantly trying to evaluate the way I deal with my husband and children. Daily I think ‘is this the best way to handle this?”, “would I be a good example for my kids or clients?,” Well the answer varies depending on the day. We all know as parents that life happens and we do and say things that don’t align with who we think we are or want to be.

The great thing is each new day we can start again and try to align our values with our actions. How am I supposed to that when I spend every minute of the day just trying to put out fires, stop fights, drive kids to activities, feed babies and clean up the inevitable messes that arise with kids, especially multiples? Yeah I know. However you can. It just takes a little upfront planning. Just like sleep training the kids, short term pain to get to long term gain.

So what is the plan Lenore? It varies with the individual, however here are some ideas:

  • Open communication (how to parent as a team, share responsibilities, etc.)
  • Start dating your spouse again (if you are a single parent then get out on your own)
  • Stress reduction activities

Here is a term that is overused ‘open communication’. As in any cliché there is a core of truth here. To me it means taking time, even five to ten minutes a week to discuss where the kids are in terms of development and how you want to work together on parenting them. For instance with babies the plan would be around schedules, food, socializing, how much to expose to other children, grandparents, etc. Toddlers, how much tv, socializing, sleep routine, potty training, etc. And so on. It also means discussing the roles you each have in the family and how they are working for you both.

Honestly we all go through the day and it turns into a week, months, years and wonder how far apart we are from our spouse, significant other or even oneself in terms of how we wanted things to turn out. To stop periodically and do a check in will help to ensure that all things that you and the family are doing are again aligned with your values.

Going on dates again with your spouse will ensure that you retain that connection with the person you chose to have children with and spend your life. Once a week is ideal, yet not completely reasonable for us all. Once a month is critical. Even if it is going for a walk, hike, bike ride, coffee date, lunch, dinner, movie, or whatever you did before family chaos. On a side note there are studies that say if you do something that gets your heart rates up together it bonds you more. For instance, seeing a scary movie together, or going to an amusement park and riding roller coasters. Always worth a try however no scary movies for me thank you.

Now don’t forget to get some ‘me’ time. A little stress reduction activity goes a long way. Anything that gets you to clear your mind and lessen the strain that comes with parenting. One thing I find that works really well for me and my clients is meditation and breathing exercises are amazing at calming the world down around you. Also finding people to talk to like other mothers/fathers (or mothers/fathers of multiples) to get that feeling that you are not alone.

What if you are so stressed and don’t believe that things can get better? Well, sometimes they just do as the kids get older. Sometimes they don’t. When do you need help from a professional?

Seek help – ask for a referral from your doctor, look for a therapist on CTAMFT website (CT Association of Marriage and Family Therapy) http://www.ctamft.org, your insurance referral list, EAP (Employee Assistance Program), or clergy. Don’t suffer in silence.

Lenore Pranzo, MA, LMFT is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Redding, CT with a private practice in her home and is a mother of 4 year old twin boys. She works with couples, teens, groups and individuals on issues including substance abuse, fertility, anxiety, depression, marital strain, and stress management.