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Hasidah’s name which means “stork” comes from the Hebrew word hesed, which means loving-kindness. Loving-kindness is showing support when people need it in the way they need it. Loving-kindness is maintaining their dignity while they are in need and in the process of helping them. Loving-kindness is helping them without making them beg for it. 

Every one of these baby crowd funding campaigns is a lost opportunity for the Jewish community to show loving-kindness, something we do so well for many other circumstances. Wanting to have a child is a basic desire that most of us understand without much explanation. Yet, we let people beg: Help me fund a chance to have a baby!

Thanks to the Forward for highlighting this issue. Let us know what you think – if the Jewish community will spend billions on trips to Israel in the name of the birthright, how can we direct support for the birthrate?

 

 

 

 

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So often fertility journeys are marked by the ups and downs in couple’s relationships. Coping with trials can strain even the best of relationships and fertility is far from an exception. Everyone copes differently and will be on different timelines.

What advice has helped you stay connected with your partner during fertility struggles?

Check out this article by one woman who recounts her story and what helped her manage some of the strain in her relationship.

 

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Ever see that headline that addresses a question that’s been nagging at you? When you are struggling with infertility, a lot of things are nagging at you. Is there something I could be doing differently to resolve this? Did I forget to ask a question? Is there a treatment or method I don’t know that could help? And headlines can answer questions – or create questions – you never knew you had.

Here is a sample of some (not all) headlines that came out about a recent study. I took the liberty to highlight what I learned just by reading enough headlines (and share some of my reactions).

  • This over-the-counter painkiller has been linked to male infertility (what is it?!? I have to click, right???)
  • Study Links Ibuprofen with Male Infertility (oh)
  • Study: Ibuprofen may lead to male infertility (may lead?)
  • Ibuprofen use linked to male infertility, study finds (linked or leads?)
  • Ibuprofen linked to Male Infertility in Small Study (how small?)
  • New study suggests ibuprofen could be linked to male infertility (getting vague now)
  • Ibuprofen use may be linked to male infertility (back to links and maybes. But there is a lot of headlines. Maybe there is something here)
  • Taking a lot of ibuprofen could mess with men’s fertility – here’s what you should know (Wait, how much? And what does mess mean?)
  • Regular Ibuprofen Use May Contribute to Male infertility, Study Says (how often is regular?)
  • Daily Ibuprofen usage associated with infertility (that’s pretty regular, but how much? And what is associated? for what kind of infertility? Nothing male here!)
  • Should you worry about new study linking ibuprofen to male infertility? (Why are you asking me this?)
  • Ibuprofen could cause male infertility? (Cause? How come you can’t decide if this is a question or a statement?)

Did you want to click? Did you want to know more? If there is a male involved with your fertility struggles, did it make you think about perhaps switching to acetaminophen? Did you consider past use? Did you wonder if maybe it effects women too?

Here is a question I have for you now: Do you trust your doctor? If you do, tell him or her about any medications you take and ask questions. If the doctor is not sure, ask your doctor where you can learn more. Stay away from the random newspaper or internet site that gives quick quotes about research. Because here is what you really need to know:

  • Infertility is complex
  • There are more causes and possible scenarios for fertility challenges than any one article could ever address
  • It is not your fault. There is rarely a quick “fix”
  • The news is not meant to make you feel better or address your situation. A lot of news is meant to sell, and fear sells
  • The last thing someone experiencing infertility or fertility challenges needs is another reason to worry.

In case you were curious, the study is with 31 men. The test was only for six weeks. The results were not causal and they were reversible. So to the last question, does Ibuprofen cause infertility (was that really a question?). No. Ibuprofen maybe, could be linked to “messing” with men’s fertility if he is taking a lot, daily.

Summary: Talk to your doctor about any medications you and your partner are taking.

And read a good book, have a cup of tea or take a walk outside to give you a break from the stress of reading the news.

 

Update: Ransom paid here (Headline: The truth about ibuprofen and male infertility)

 

 

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New Years Babies

Babies.
 
I’m thinking about babies. I’m seeing babies every day on Facebook. Babies being born to friends and wonderful former Hillel students. Babies being held by older siblings in those adorable posts that make us wish every day with kids was so smiley.
 
I’m also thinking about all the babies that are in people’s hearts and dreams and yet to come into this world.
 
I founded Hasidah four years ago because I had those dreams. I wished so deeply that the Jewish community had some kind of support to help me on my difficult journey toward child-having.
 
I’m lucky that my continuing journey includes children. But my journey continues. Hasidah is dedicated to building awareness about infertility, connecting people to needed resources and providing financial aid for treatment in the Jewish community.
 
If you have kids, take a moment to think about the miracle of that. Even on the hard days, the gift of a child is truly the most priceless gift you will ever get in your entire life. If you struggled to get there, celebrate and know that others are still trying. If you do not have children and want them, know that you are not alone.
 
In the last moments of 2017, please consider making a donation to Hasidah to help build Jewish families. To provide support, remove isolation, and bring financial aid to those who face fertility challenges.
Thanks to those of you who have supported Hasidah in the past, who continue to support Hasidah and who have made the vision of Hasidah a reality.
Warm wishes to you all for a happy and healthy 2018!
Founder
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Traditionally called the Season of Joy, Sukkot is inherently wrapped in fertility. Historically and religiously associated with agriculture, Sukkot is a harvest festival celebrating the fertility of the earth. Living in booths (Sukkot) commemorates the Israelite’s wanderings in the desert. Their temporary and unstable nature also reminds of of how fragile our lives and the world is.

The special reading done for this holiday is from Kohelet, which begins, “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, a time to die…”

Fertility and the fragility are related. Those of us who have experienced fertility challenges know this all too well. But time plays a role as well. Most of it during a fertility journey seems to be spent waiting. A time to wait… and another time to wait. But Kohelet’s perspective can be helpful during fertility challenges. The verses continue that there is “A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Indeed all things under heaven have a time and a purpose. While fertility can feel all consuming, we do have other purposes in life. And time will continue. The message of fragility at this season is also a reminder of what endures. Our choice to laugh or cry endures. Our ability to reach out to another for support when we mourn and to dance when there is joy endures.

So if this Season of Joy seems hard to reach for you, if you are intimately feeling the fragility of the fertility world, remember there is a purpose for you in this world. Feel the enduring presence of your self and your ability to laugh and cry. And if you are mourning, know too that there will be a time to dance.

Always, there will be time.

Chag Sukkot Sameach – Warm wishes for a joyous Sukkot Holiday

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In this very clearly written article, Dr. David Adamson from ARC fertility explains the different genetic tests performed on embryos during in vitro fertilization (IVF).  Many people think that this testing is a guarantee or insurance. It is neither. However, it can be instrumental in improving chances of IVF success and protecting children from deadly and debilitating diseases. Understanding it better is very helpful for the many who can benefit from its use on their IVF journey. Read all about it in his Huffington post article.

 

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When couples struggle with fertility challenges, things can feel more unhinged. We are told by our faith to “go forth and multiply” or that sex on the Sabbath is a mitzvah. The frustration and self-doubt that creeps in when couples try to honor these teachings, and are unable to create new life can be deep. Inherently, there is a sense of shame that many couples experience when they are unable to fulfill their dreams of parenthood, and often times, this struggle is kept silent.

Infertility is not something that a member of a couple ever forgets, especially during their road to parenthood. Seemingly innocuous questions like, “when are you going to have kids?” or “have you tried to just relax?” add salt to an already open wound, despite those that ask them being well-meaning in their intentions. Since reminders of fertility are all around us (in the form children playing, commercials for baby products, and pregnant women) one doesn’t have to go far to feel that twinge of jealousy and longing as well as the reminder of the uncertainty about when it is their time to be parents.

Having a medical professional enter into the sacred space of childbearing changes the dynamic between a couple. An act that was supposed to have occurred in the sacred space of a couple’s bedroom has now shifted to a medical building.  Here is another place where the push and pull between having faith (that things will work out and a baby will be created) and experiencing fear (such as the doubts that can creep in) creates a tension in both individuals and between a couple. Many partners have different coping styles, and when it comes to experiencing something hard, few couples have had the history together to give them insight around what coping together looks like rather than coping separately.  Managing the emotions around infertility call for couples to increase their communication, particularly around what each might need. It also indicates that couples might need to allow for some space for one or both members.

Learning about how, as individuals, we process information can be vital in then teaching our partner.  An example might be a couple where the wife is an externalizer and likes to talk to others when things are hard but who is married to a man that is an internalizer, or someone who likes to keep his feelings close to the vest until he has figured out his next course of action. These are two styles that tend to be exhibited in many couples. The wife might be talking to whomever will listen about their fertility journey, while the husband keeps the information to himself. This can make his wife feel like she is alone within the couple on this journey whereas the husband might feel like his wife is broadcasting something personal to the entire world. Both are correct in their experiences, and through communication and knowing their styles of coping, they can manage their coping styles together while being respectful and responsive to the other’s differing style.

For some couples, struggling with infertility or another unforeseen challenge might turn one member towards their faith while the other member is turned away. Developing outside areas of interests can also be important in coping with the unknown, as a way of distracting and distancing people from the path they are on. Areas of interest can be faith based, sport based, or creatively based as just some arenas that couples might want to explore. Certainly, for many engaging in a variety of mindfulness practices assists with managing feelings of uncertainty. For others, finding a support group or a mental health provider is equally important in dealing with factors beyond one’s own control.

Infertility impacts one in eight couples, and can have a lasting impact on how individuals experience themselves, how a couple connects, and how a couple is able to cope.   Learning strategies to manage the unknown, whether it be faith based, therapy based, or developed on your own enables individuals and couples to have more of a sense of control around an area in their lives that is not within their bounds to always directly change. Additionally, learning how to communicate as a couple about what each individual member’s needs are is a skill that will last well beyond the initial challenge of infertility.

Dr. Julie Bindeman is a member of Hasidah’s healthcare advisory board. She is a reproductive psychologist and co-director of Integrative Therapy of Greater Washington outside of the Nation’s Capital.

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Do Your Research when Choosing Your Fertility Doctor

Treatment for infertility is not only expensive; it is emotionally draining as well. You may have to select a fertility clinic, or you may be referred to one and then have to choose among several different doctors. The right fertility doctor to be your partner throughout this process is one of the most important decisions you can make.

Choosing the doctor who puts you and your partner at ease places you on the best path for a successful pregnancy. Consider the standard things such as IVF success rates, years in practice and location of practice. But then, do some online research on the intangibles that will help make your experience less stressful and more likely to succeed.

To follow are several criteria to consider when doing your research …

Experience
Ask questions about the physician’s experience and success with your age and fertility problems. In similar cases, what solutions does that fertility doctor recommend?

Respect
Your fertility doctor should answer all your questions and not dismiss your concerns or talk down to you. Your fertility doctor should educate you about your fertility and the treatment that will be used because the more you know, the better your chances of success. You should never feel ignored or like “just another patient.”

Availability
It is very likely during this process that you will have a question or worry that does not occur during the regular workday. Does the fertility doctor offer evening or weekend hours? Does he or she give you a personal email or phone number? How quickly will your questions be answered?

Teamwork
There is more than one person who will help make this experience pleasant. Is the receptionist friendly or impersonal? Are the nurses patient and able to answer questions? Are there emotional support services available? How well does everyone get along?

Compassion
Technical knowledge and skill are extremely important, but compassion is one of the keys to achieving a successful outcome. A great physician should be able to respond to the physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual needs of patients. Research has shown that this kind of compassionate, patient-centered care improves patient outcomes and adherence to medical advice.

Choosing a fertility doctor should be done thoughtfully – don’t rush into a decision. Talk to people, read online reviews, and most importantly, ask questions to determine whether you have found the right physician for you.

-Written by Laurence A. Jacobs, M.D

Dr. Jacobs is a reproductive endocrinologist in Chicago and serves on Hasidah’s healthcare advisory board.

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