Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope

Have you seen this site yet? If not, definitely check it out. Women with all kinds of pregnancy and infant losses - from early miscarriage to SIDS - have come together to share their stories and bring awareness to the issue and to provide support to other women experiencing the same thing.

They're doing a big campaign called "I am the Face" for The National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day on October 15. They're trying to collect the photos of 2,000 women who have lost their babies (again, early miscarriage, late miscarriage, stillbirth, infant loss...anything) to represent the 2,000 women A DAY (a day...can you believe that??). Please help them out by submitting your picture. It literally takes less than a minute! You don't need to write out your story or anything - just the picture!

They're also providing Facebook profile pics that you can use on October 15 (or before) along with suggested statuses. The site also has ways to donate, media kits, and more. I know I'll be using one of their pictures on October 15 and it'd be amazing if we all did the same!

Fertility "Secrets"

Note: The thoughts expressed in this article are not necessarily those of TTCAL. ;)

I was bored at work and Googling "fertility secrets" just to see what would come up, after seeing an ad for a book called "The Way of the Fertile Soul: Ten Ancient Chinese Secrets to Tap into a Woman's Creative Potential." Don't get me wrong; I am trying acupuncture, I to some extent believe in mind over body (though trust me, I 'mind-over-body'ed like crazy and my baby still died), I take herbal supplements....but I also am a firm believer in western medicine. I saw a book at the acupuncturist's that said you could cure any disease (dis-ease, as they called it) with the power of positive thinking, and that every physcial issue has a root mental issue. The example she gave was that she was molested as a child, and developed uterine cancer later in life because she harbored such bad thoughts about her molestation. Um, no. I don't believe my baby died because of my mindset, thankyouverymuch.

So the funny thing is that when I Googled "fertility secrets", the results were things that even the newest newbie to TTCAL knows. OMG, find out when you ovulate! OMG, check your cervical mucus! OMG, take your temp! OMG, have sex before ovulation! OMG, reduce stress! OMG, Vitex! OMG, DON'T DOUCHE. (Um, duh??)

Anyway, it made me realize how seriously all of us on this journey take it. We've educated ourselves to the hilt. We're willing to do virtually anything, and we will research the heck out of anything that we hear about. We're such an amazing group of women. Who else would take hours, days, YEARS of their lives to work towards a singular goal...especially in the midst of failures and setbacks? We don't give up. If something doesn't work, we look for another route. I'm so proud of each and every woman than I've met on this board, and I know it's cliched, but I hope we all have our take-home babies so soon.

Yoga for Fertility?

Yoga: relaxing, stretching, and...good for baby-making? Some people think so!

A woman named Brenda Strong created a yoga program the promotes women's health and fertility. How? It can help lower chronic stress, detoxify the body, and increase blood flow to those organs that are oh-so-important for fertility. Brenda uses a "fertility ball" (a small rubber ball) to stimulate specific areas on the body that she believes are conducive for fertility.

For $25, you can get the DVD and for $40, you can get the ball (shouldn't they come together?).

Don't want to spend all that money? (Though in the grand scheme of things, I guess $65 for something you'll use a lot isn't too bad, considering we spend hundreds on pee sticks we use once! And it certainly can't hurt anything, right?) Check out Brenda's top five yoga positions for Fertility, below!
The best yoga positions to aid fertility have a few key things in common:
-Increase Circulation to the Reproductive Organs
-Balance Hormones
-Reduce Stress
You made have already heard that inversions like headstand and shoulder stand are powerful fertility aids. Those positions didn’t make our list for one simple reason: they should be done with proper supervision. These poses made our list of the five best yoga positions to aid fertility because they don’t need supervision. In fact, they can be done in the safety and privacy of your home.
This pose is one of my favorites and I almost always start my Fertility Yoga classes with this because of it’s ability to soften the internal organs, open the pelvis, unburden the heart and calm the mind. It is sort of a one-stop-shop to get all your needs met! I like to use one or two bolsters, but you can use a bolster and a block, four blankets or a combination of the above to create your own cozy haven for relaxation. Set up a block or bolster for height crosswise. Then lay (for the spine) a bolster or blankets perpendicular to the first. You should have a gentle sloping ramp where the head is highest, then heart, then pelvis on the ground. If you have neck issues, occasionally using blankets instead and rolling the top one under to support your cervical spine feels good. The key is that your torso is supported at an angle, your hips are on the floor and you can lean back, draw your heels in, soles touching, and relax. If your groins are overly tight or loose, you may benefit by a block, or pillow under each knee to soften the groins and support the pelvis in relaxing. If your shoulders are tight, you can elevate the elbows in the same manner with pillows or a block at each elbow. The key is that once you are settled to stay and breathe deeply, allowing the mind to scan the body for tension and release it breath by breath. I also like to infuse the internal organs with white light as you inhale, and allow yourself to release any tightness on the exhale, creating more space internally with each breath. You can stay for 5-15 minutes in this pose for the greatest benefit.
Pigeon pose is one of my personal favorites, because I have tight hips. If your hips are very tight see Reclining half pigeon below as an alternate pose. Double pigeon helps to release stored emotional trauma in the periformis muscle, which guards the gateway of energy in the hips. The hips are the sister hinge to the jaw and when released, tension, emotional pain and chronic holding get released, allowing increased blood flow, and energy to the reproductive organs in the pelvis. Double pigeon is a seated pose where one shin stacks perfectly on top of the other, and creates an equilateral triangle from the shins to the pubic bone.
Feet are flexed, spine long and pubic bone threads back so that the hips can release up and over the bent legs. Breathing is key in honoring your body’s edges of resistance and allowing it to open when it’s ready, establishing trust. You can extend the arms straight in front, with your elbows on the floor and create prayer pose with your hands and place your thumbs at your third eye, fore fingers on the forehead or extend the fingers on the ground and walk the hands out until your arms are straight. Breathe until the discomfort softens, and then change sides, alternating opposite foot on top of knee. Shins parallel.

*There tends to be unexpressed emotion in the hips. If you are in double pigeon you can sit on a bolster and work at simply lifting up through your heart and gently leaning forward. In 1/2 pigeon can you get your ankle to cross your knee? If so, then use the elbow on the knee to gently press it away from you to open the hips. If doing this doesn't help, try sitting in a chair and crossing you ankle over your knee and let gravity take it down to soften the hip. Hinge forward from the hips and breathe.*

Reclining Half Pigeon (thread the needle)

A safer version for the knees is to lay on your back. Hug both knees into your chest. Lower your left foot to the floor and stack your right ankle on top of your left knee. Reach through the center hole and clasp your left shin. Flex the top foot and soften the bottom ankle. Gently pull the leg in to activate the periformis on the right side. Breathe deeply and visualize more space where you feel the tightest. Breathe until it softens. Change sides. Be aware of added unnecessary tension in shoulders, jaw and face, keep breathing deeper to soften any reactions to the sensation. [Obviously you will not be on a island in a koi pond. : ) Make sure you're resting your head on the floor]
According to B.K.S. Iyengar this pose is a blessing to women. It stimulates the abdominals and ovaries.
Sit comfortably on a rug or yoga mat. Draw your heels together in front of your pubic bone, allowing your knees to open outward.
*If your knees won't open fully, this just means your pelvis isn't open yet. For your comfort, you can sit on a blanket or firm pillow to elevate your hips, this will help. [see picture below]*

Close your eyes a moment and tune into your breath. Soften your belly and allow your inhale to fill the space between your belly button and pubic bone, as if you could breathe into your womb. As you exhale draw the belly gently in toward the low back, massaging your internal organs.
Press your feet firmly together to allow your inner groins to stretch as you elongate the spine up and out of the hips. Stay here a few breaths.
As you breathe, your body will soften into the pose. If you feel you can lean forward without collapsing the lower back, extend forward over your heels reaching up through the crown of the head.
Hold onto your feet with your hands, and gently press your knees toward the floor with your elbows. Breathe into the sensation in your hips. Keep your shoulders and face soft.
This pose helps to open the hips and increases circulation in the pelvis, it has been known to help balance irregular menstruation and helps the ovaries to function properly.
This asana stretches the hamstrings and helps the blood to circulate properly in the pelvic region and keeps it healthy.
Sit on your mat or rug, and open your legs wide.
*If your legs won't open fully, this just means your pelvis or hamstrings aren't open yet. For your comfort, you can sit on a blanket or firm pillow to elevate your hips. This will help.*
Flex your feet back toward your face and make sure your feet are straight up and down, perpendicular to the floor. Lift up through your heart and extend your spine on an inhale. With a long spine, slowly walk your hands forward until you feel the first sensation in your groins and hamstrings. Stop here and breathe. Inhaling as if you could breathe into your womb, allowing the belly to soften and swell then exhale drawing your belly in. When you feel the body has opened, walk your fingers forward until your next edge of sensation. Stop and breathe, and then continue. Once you are fully extended (this will be different for every woman), you can slowly rise, lead with the heart and gently shake out your legs.
This Yoga asana (or pose) is beneficial because it helps regulate menstrual flow and also nourishes the ovaries. One of the wonderful benefits of Yoga is it teaches you to respect your journey. It requires that you approach everything as a process. Treat yourself gently as you approach these poses, knowing that mastery doesn't occur overnight. Treat yourself just as gently as you proceed on your path toward parenthood.
This pose is restorative and helps to calm the nervous system and the heart rate. It is powerful for women because of its inversion qualities and ability to focus on the 2nd chakra, which houses the reproductive organs.
Find space at a wall. Place a bolster or thick firm cushion, a couple of inches from the wall. Sit on the cushion and walk your legs up the wall until your hips are level and your back is on the floor. Put one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart or the arms can lay open, creating space in the heart.
This pose is about receiving. Let your breath be soft and deep, allow your mind to quiet and let the pose "do" you. You will feel the circulation in your body shift. Imagine a waterfall starting at your legs, pooling at the hips and slowly spilling down into the heart and the brain. This visual will follow the natural flow of energy as it cultivates a calm nervous system. This pose can be done while you're menstruating as long as the hips are level. This pose has great healing qualities and is a gem for women.
I know what I'll be doing tonight! At the very least, maybe it will help me stretch out (always good for FWP!) and relax a little. :)

The Sex Post

Is baby-making sex - or as we like to call it on TTCAL, FWP - getting boring? Is your partner claiming you only want sex on THOSE days (even though you SWEAR you gave him a BJ two weeks ago!)?

What can you do? Check out this article from Concieve.com on how to keep sex smokin' while you are focused on the, ahem, business at hand.

Read more here!