The International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination, Inc

Special Education: A twenty-four part series on advocacy

Equity Red Stop Sign with Wheel chair and two people

Equity Red Stop Sign with Wheel chair and two people

 

The following is a list of the articles in the advocacy series.

  1. FERPA and Special Education Advocacy: The Gordian Knot Published in the INCIID INsights Newletter January 15, 2015
  2. Organizing Educational Records: How to organize your records. Pulished in the INCIID Insights Newsletter on January 29, 2015
  3. Special Education Advocacy: Strategies Published in the INCIID Insights Newsletter on February, 12, 2015
  4. Special Education Unzipped: How to analyze and come to a conclusion. Published in the INCIID Insights Newsletter on February 26, 2015.
  5. Special Education ESY: It is time to ask for an extended school year! Published in the INCIID Insights Newsletter on March 12, 2015; Web Conference March 18, 2015
  6. Special Education Advocacy Styles: Adversarial or Aggressive  INCIID Insights Newsletter  Web Conference Registration for April 1, 2015
  7. Special Education: What you need to know about What you need to know or Do Not Be Afraid to Invite the Elephant into the Room, April 8, 2015. Listen to the recorded online Workshop - from April 22, 2015 7:30 - 8:30 PM ET
  8. Special Education: April 29, 2015 Newsletter  Meeting Preparation; What you need to know about what you need to know. Online workshop: Register for the May 6 Webinar
  9. Special Education: Webinar on Educational Jargon and How Not to Use It! - June 10, 2015: IEP's are like a box of chocolate. You never know what you're gonna get.
  10. Special Education: Register for the Webinar on Parental Rights July 1 at 7:30PM ET based on the article: Parental Rights and Participation

READ the American Academy of Pediatrics Clinical Report on IDEA

Sign up for the INCIID Insights Advocacy Newsletter  Don't forget to check the INCIID Calendar (under Community).

Ask an Advocate Forum where Brice Palmer will answer your questions.

Tags: 

The Miscarriage Manual: Coping with the Emotional Aspects of Pregnancy Loss by Elizabeth Carney

Miracles and Memories Family-Building Pins

Miracles and Memories Family-Building PinsFourteen years ago I gave birth to a baby girl. Four hours later she died because of an internal malformation that was undetectable during my pregnancy. During my short hospital stay, nurses and doctors seemed to avoid me and my questions. What they did say was about the same as what my friends and family were saying. "You're young. You'll have other babies. Try to forget." 

I didn't want any other baby; I wanted that one! Forget? How could I forget? Instead I was overwhelmed with crushing, breathtaking grief. I remember how empty I felt the day I left the hospital...an empty womb and empty arms. I never really knew her but I missed her and ached for her so desperately. 

Soon after I returned home, everyone acted as if they had already forgotten her, as if they expected me to also. Someone had removed all the baby items I had acquired before coming home, hoping to spare me the pain. Instead, it felt like a further denial of her existence. When I tried to talk about her everyone became very quiet, or changed the subject, or left the room. Friends were very careful not to say anything that might remind me of my experience. Baby shower invitations didn't come in the mail. Birth announcements didn't come in the mail. Many stayed away because they simply did not know what to say. My husband had three days to "get over it" before he was expected back at work. The world kept on spinning as if nothing had happened. I remember thinking that I must have lost my mind. I thought that if my baby had lived for a while, if people had gotten to know and love her, maybe then I would have been given the affirmation to grieve the way I needed to. But I was the only one with any memory of her, the only one who had the chance to love her. I had no one to share that with, not even my husband. Most of his grief was for me and for the dreams we had shared for this child. I felt all alone as I began my mourning. 

Over the years, after much healing, I have had the opportunity to speak with other parents who have had experiences which were similar to mine. As a result of that, and also as a result of my search for answers to all those unanswered questions, I have compiled a list of several "truths and non-truths" concerning the grieving process as it relates to perinatal bereavement. 

This is not intended to be the absolute word on the subject, but rather a gauge for the unexpected emotions felt by parents who have suffered this type of loss. Most of the parents I have spoken to agreed that the uncertainty of their grief was frightening and may have been alleviated had they known what to expect. 

Friends and family may also benefit from reading this over so they might understand the special kinds of pain and emotions involved in this type of loss and allow them to be expressed. 

The Truth Is...

1. The truth ISN'T that you will feel "all better" in a couple of days, or weeks, or even months. 

The truth IS that the days will be filled with an unending ache and the nights will feel one million sad years long for a while. Healing is attained only after the slow necessary progression through the stages of grief and mourning. 

2. The truth isn't that a new pregnancy will help you forget. 

The truth is that, while thoughts of a new pregnancy soon may provide hope, a lost infant deserves to be mourned just as you would have with anyone you loved. Grieving takes a lot of energy and can be both emotionally and physically draining. This could have an impact upon your health during another pregnancy. While the decision to try again is a very individualized one, being pregnant while still actively grieving is very difficult. 

3. The truth isn't that pills or alcohol will dull the pain. 

The truth is that they will merely postpone the reality you must eventually face in order to begin healing. However, if your doctor feels that medication is necessary to help maintain your health, use it intelligently and according to his/her instructions. 

4. The truth isn't that once this is over your life will be the same. 

The truth is that your upside-down world will slowly settle down, hopefully leaving you a more sensitive, compassionate person, better prepared to handle the hard times that everyone must deal with sooner or later. When you consider that you have just experienced one of the worst things that can happen to a family, as you heal you will become aware of how strong you are. 

5. The truth isn't that grieving is morbid, or a sign of weakness or mental instability. 

The truth is that grieving is work that must be done. Now is the appropriate time. Allow yourself the time. Feel it, flow with it. Try not to fight it too often. It will get easier if you expect that it is variable, that some days are better than others. Be patient with yourself. There are no short cuts to healing. The active grieving will be over when all the work is done. 

6. The truth isn't that grief is all-consuming. 

The truth is that in the midst of the most agonizing time of your life, there will be laughter. Don't feel guilty. Laugh if you want to. Just as you must allow yourself the time to grieve, you must also allow yourself the time to laugh. Viewing laughter as part of the healing process, just as overwhelming sadness is now, will make the pain more bearable. 

7. The truth isn't that one person can bear this alone. 

The truth is that while only you can make the choices necessary to return to the mainstream of life a healed person, others in your life are also grieving and are feeling very helpless. As unfair as it may seem, the burden of remaining in contact with family and friends often falls on you. They are afraid to "butt in," or they may be fearful of saying or doing the wrong thing. This makes them feel even more helpless. They need to be told honestly what they can do to help. They don't need to be told, "I'm doing fine" when you're really NOT doing fine. By allowing others to share in your pain and assist you with your needs, you will be comforted and they will feel less helpless. 

 

8. The truth isn't that God must be punishing you for something. 

The truth is that sometimes these things just happen. They have happened to many people before you, and they will happen to many people after you. This was not an act of any God; it was an act of Nature. It isn't fair to blame God, or yourself, or anyone else. Try to understand that it is human nature to look for a place to put the blame, especially when there are so few answers to the question, "Why?" Sometimes there are answers. Most times there are not. Believing that you are being punished will only get in the way of your healing. 

9. The truth isn't that you will be unable to make any choices or decisions during this time. 

The truth is that while major decisions, such as moving or changing jobs, are better off being postponed for now, life goes on. It will be difficult, but decisions dealing with the death of your baby (seeing and naming the baby, arranging and/or attending a religious ritual, taking care of the nursery items you have acquired) are all choices you can make for yourself. Well-meaning people will try to shelter you from the pain of this. However, many of us who have suffered similar losses agree that these first decisions are very important. They help to make the loss real. Our brains filter out much of the pain early on as a way to protect us. Very soon after that, we find ourselves reliving the events over and over, trying to remember everything. This is another way that we acknowledge the loss. Until the loss is real, grieving cannot begin. Being involved at this early time will be a painful experience, but it will help you deal with your grief better as you progress by providing comforting memories of having performed loving, caring acts for your baby. 

10. The truth isn't that you will be delighted to hear that a friend or other loved one has just given birth to a healthy baby. 

The truth is that you may find it very difficult to be around mothers with young babies. You may be hurt, or angry, or jealous. You may wonder why you couldn't have had that joy. You may be resentful, or refuse to see friends with new babies. You may even secretly wish that the same thing would happen to someone else. You want someone to understand how it feels. You may also feel very ashamed that you could wish such things on people you love or care about, or think that you must be a dreadful person. You aren't. You're human, and even the most loving people can react this way when they are actively grieving. If the situations were reversed, your friends would be feeling and thinking the same things you are. Forgive yourself. It's OK. These feelings will eventually go away. 

11. The truth isn't that all marriages survive this difficult time. 

The truth is that sometimes you might blame one another, resent one another, or dislike being with one another. If you find this happening, get help. There are self-help groups available or grief counselors who can help. Don't ignore it or tuck it away assuming it will get better. It won't. Actively grieving people cannot help one another. It is unrealistic, like having two people who were blinded at the same time teach each other Braille. Talking it out with others may help. It might even save your marriage. 

 

12. The truth isn't that eventually you will accept the loss of your baby and forget all about this awful time. 

The truth is that acceptance is a word reserved for the understanding you come to when you've successfully grieved the loss of a parent, or a grandparent, or a beloved older relative. When you lose a child, your whole future has been affected, not your past. No one can really accept that. But there is resolution in the form of healing and learning how to cope. You will survive. Many of us who have gone through this type of grief are afraid we might forget about our babies once we begin to heal. This won't happen. You will always remember your precious baby because successful grieving carves a place in your heart where he or she will live forever.

 

Please visit the INCIID Memorial Gardens

 

Corona Funk

Illustration of snow falling and gingerbread houses, and masked snowman and gingerbread character

Corona Christmas and Chanukah --

 

A Holiday Time Like no Other in our Time. By Helen Adrienne, LCSW, BCD

I've always been a self-starter.  I never lacked for some project to dive into, whether by obligation or by interest.  Until now. 

I've already knitted an afghan blanket for everyone I know and love who can still fog up a mirror.  Yeah, there's the book-club book, staring at me from the coffee table.  Of course, if you wanna eat, there's always the obligatory trip to the supermarket, and from the supermarket to the stove.  That is unless ennui prevails, and then the effort goes into deciding on and dialing for take-out if that's an option in your neck of woods.  And not until the threat of running out of underwear becomes real do I override the ennui and take off for the laundry room. 

So what happened to Self-Starter Me?  And maybe you?

I remember hearing about the pandemic of 1918.  Who woulda thunk that we'd be living through a pandemic in this "advanced" age of miracle medicine in the 'first world' US of A?  But here we are, at the mercy of a microscopic enemy.

Much of life goes on, albeit virtually, which is a boon.  Yet, if you're like me, there's nothing like the real thing.  For instance, I'll be participating in the annual but this year virtual Evolution Conference for mental health practitioners.  Missing will be the meet-and-greet so enjoyed by me and my colleagues who in years past have harkened from all corners of the world. 

What substitutes have been mandated in your world?    

I greet my husband every day with the comment, "Good morning.  It's another Dayday."  While it is true that Suspended Animation shall eventually pass, meanwhile, it's best to be thankful for what we've got: an on-line substitute for the real thing, with colleagues, friends and relatives.    

So.  What would give you a sense that you will survive this pandemic?  Do any of us need to add to, or polish up our coping skills at this time like no other?  There's a saying, "Move a muscle, change a mood."  Perhaps we should invent a Funky Corona Funk dance.  It could become a craze that relieves the craziness you might be feeling.  Imagine -- Zoom parties where everyone is wearing a mask and 'funky-ing' around! 

The holidays can be a mixed bag.  This year, if we respect the request to hunker down with our "pod", the holidays could feel like a wedding without a bride.  Given the socially requested limitations, what could happen if we called upon our creative juices?  How can we make the best of the reality right down to watching a virtual nutcracker, leaving cookies and milk for a Santa who will have to zoom down the chimney via Zoom, or maybe a virtual game of Dreidel? 

Fortunately, at least we have the United States Postal Service.   

I sincerely hope that anyone reading this is healthy, either having dodged the corona bullet or having safely recovered.  

Helen Adrienne, LCSW, BCD

 

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act: What you need to know

Facts About Pregnancy Discrimination
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions constitutes unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII. Women affected by pregnancy or related conditions must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees with similar abilities or limitations.

 

Hiring
An employer cannot refuse to hire a woman because of her pregnancy-related condition as long as she is able to perform the major functions of her job. An employer cannot refuse to hire her because of its prejudices against pregnant workers or the prejudices of co-workers, clients or customers.

 

Pregnancy and Maternity Leave
An employer may not single out pregnancy-related conditions for special procedures to determine an employee's ability to work. However, an employer may use any procedure used to screen other employees' ability to work. For example, if an employer requires its employees to submit a doctor's statement concerning their inability to work before granting leave or paying sick benefits, the employer may require employees affected by pregnancy-related conditions to submit such statements.

 

If an employee is temporarily unable to perform her job due to pregnancy, the employer must treat her the same as any other temporarily disabled employee; for example, by providing modified tasks, alternative assignments, disability leave or leave without pay.

 

Pregnant employees must be permitted to work as long as they are able to perform their jobs. If an employee has been absent from work as a result of a pregnancy related condition and recovers, her employer may not require her to remain on leave until the baby's birth. An employer may not have a rule which prohibits an employee from returning to work for a predetermined length of time after childbirth.

 

Employers must hold open a job for a pregnancy related absence the same length of time jobs are held open for employees on sick or disability leave.

 

Health Insurance
Any health insurance provided by an employer must cover expenses for pregnancy related conditions on the same basis as costs for other medical conditions. Health insurance for expenses arising from abortion is not required, except where the life of the mother is endangered.

 

Pregnancy related expenses should be reimbursed exactly as those incurred for other medical conditions, whether payment is on a fixed basis or a percentage of reasonable and customary charge basis.

The amounts payable by the insurance provider can be limited only to the same extent as costs for other conditions. No additional, increased or larger deductible can be imposed.

Employers must provide the same level of health benefits for spouses of male employees as they do for spouses of female employees.

 

Fringe Benefits
Pregnancy-related benefits cannot be limited to married employees. In an all-female workforce or job classification, benefits must be provided for pregnancy-related conditions if benefits are provided for other medical conditions.

 

If an employer provides any benefits to workers on leave, the employer must provide the same benefits for those on leave for pregnancy-related conditions.

Employees with pregnancy-related disabilities must be treated the same as other temporarily disabled employees for accrual and crediting of seniority, vacation calculation, pay increases and temporary disability benefits.

 

 

See also: How To File A Charge of Employment Discrimination

 

Dealing with the Stress of the Holidays

DEALING WITH THE STRESS OF THE HOLIDAYS

By HELEN ADRIENNE, MSW, ACSW, BCD

 

The stress of the holidays is a topic that has appeared with regularity in articles and newsletters since 1979 when I began working as a psychotherapist with infertility patients.  Rightfully so.  Infertility is demanding and stressful.  The Holidays are demanding and stressful.  And in this case, one plus one equals way more than 2.

It is no longer in dispute that both the mental and physical experiences of stress land in the body.  That’s about the last thing that an infertility patient needs.  Your body is the stage upon which the treatment gets played out.  Being poked and prodded physically evolves very naturally into a mental ordeal for everyone.

This article addresses a big opportunity to turn down the level of stress that comes with the holidays.  That opportunity exists in the marital relationship.

In the best of families, tensions abound at holiday time.  The backdrop for get-togethers may have to do with who expects what, who can’t stand whom, whose house is center stage, whose traditions “win”, who’s impossible to buy presents for and who’s jealous of what.  And of course, a separate and very long thorn is who’ll be there who has babies.  The whos, whose and whats go on ad nauseum.

This does not mean that all families are looney toons.  It does mean that in the most serene of families, things can’t ever be perfect – AND – you are not likely to be in the mood for anyone’s imperfections.  It is a known fact that often, well-meaning people do not know what to say and invariably say the wrong thing, presuming that they even know about your struggle.  And if they don’t know, the secret may be the lesser of two evils, but it still creates additional stress.

The opportunity for any couple lies in the fact that it is critically important to be on the same page when it comes to making decisions about how to handle the holidays.  Infertility may be the first crisis of major proportions that has hit you in the time that you’ve been together.  Any crisis will demand that a person locate his or her coping methods.  It might even put you in a spin if you need better coping mechanisms than you have.  But it is only the rare couple whose coping mechanisms are congruent when a crisis hits.  This does not mean that you aren’t supportive of one another.  Most couples are.  But there is a difference between the support that flows out of compassion for someone you love and working to achieve a united front, which works best, at holiday time especially.

The Chinese character for crisis is a combination of the characters for danger and opportunity.  It may feel dangerous to set a limit to one or both families.  But it is very important for any couple to define their “coupleness.”  As married adults, it is your job and your right to let both families know what boundaries you need for your mutual satisfaction.   It is highly recommended that if you cannot get past the pull back to the whos and whats of your respective families, that you seek the guidance of a therapist with skills in both infertility counseling and family counseling.

Whether on your own or with professional help, if you successfully decide and declare your decisions about the holidays, you set yourselves up to minimize the impact of family/holiday stress on your bodies.  And beyond the logistics of who and what, there exists a further opportunity to nurture the marriage.  Now is the time to explore techniques of mind/body relaxation that you can enjoy together.  Besides being on the same page, feeling loved and understood is palliative and has a positive impact as a stress reducer.

As hectic as the holiday time can be, it would make a difference if you could locate a yoga class designed specifically for couples or a massage class for couples.  Or, this could be a really good time to go to a spa together for a weekend.  By focusing on gaining physical relief from tension, you can break the grip of the aspects of the infertility challenge that land in your bodies.

Furthermore, couples can learn methods of breathing, muscle relaxation, mindfulness meditation and self-hypnosis that go a long way toward breaking the grip of the infertility challenge from the inside out.  These techniques are extremely empowering, at a time when couples tend to feel powerless.

In this society most of us live in a state of red alert, tolerating high levels of stress.  The incidence of stress-induced illness and anxiety has risen dramatically.  As a culture, we need to take better tender-loving care of ourselves, but we tend not to.  So, while there are many who need to learn stress reduction techniques as much as you do, few need to learn them more than you.

Infertility is nasty.  But the silver lining in the clouds is that as a couple, you can and should put your needs front and center.  You need to keep your love alive, for each other and for yourselves.  The best way to do this is to acknowledge the enormous stress involved and take the opportunity to learn to communicate so you can land on the same page.  And then, you can pursue the myriad of techniques available these days which reduce stress on the body and the mind.

 

 

HELEN ADRIENNE, MSW, ACSW, BCD

PSYCHOTHERAPIST

PRACTITIONER OF MIND/BODY MEDICINE

 

 

Saying Goodby to an Icon: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Headshot photo of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
A photo of NPR's Nina Totenberg interviewing Ruth Bader Ginsburg about the movie "On the Basis of Sex"

Protecting Reproductive Rights: “Women’s rights are human rights.”

“The right to family planning is inherent in the right of human dignity.” This quote is announced, articulated, and pronounced in the UN Charter and further reiterated in all international and regional human rights agreements. 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

This week we mourn the passing of one of the most iconic figures dedicated to equal rights. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, though tiny in stature was a giant among those who paved the way and laid the foundation for equality and not just for women.

Family planning is not only a matter of human rights; it is also central to women’s emancipation, decreasing poverty, and achieving forward movement and development.

Early in her career, arguing before the very court on which she would eventually sit, she told the justices that she asked for no favor for her sex – only that men “take their feet off our necks,” quoting abolitionist Sarah Grimké.

The “notorious RBG” as she was affectionately known to many, is often recognized as a champion for women but she saw that gender equality was beneficial not just for women but for everyone; men, women and, families.

So much of who Justice Ginsburg was is encompassed by her creation of foundational principles matching cultural movements to the law – laws that often were not adequate for our times.  Our reproductive rights and laws need to continue to be updated as do our institutions so we can match today's conversations, needs, and family-planning to the laws that protect privacy and personal choice.

Family-Building

Most people think of the Roe V. Wade case as a choice to terminate an unplanned pregnancy, but that decision comprises many more complicated and complex ramifications for family-planning then just “a woman’s right to choose”.

Family-planning in its least demanding form is an extremely personal decision. It’s about when to get pregnant and how many children one might plan for, whether you have the resources to support the child and care for it.  Planning a family for some is also about the “how” we conceive. Having a child involves intimacy. Whether that be with a partner or singly, and it’s a private and personal decision dependent on many factors known often only to the parties involved.

Over almost two decades, I‘ve had the pleasure of coaching and supporting, family-building with those who struggle through reproductive treatment and failure; the sorrow-filled experiences of multiple losses, of stillbirth, genetic challenges, and more. This is personal to me, having survived 7 years of infertility and 4 pregnancy losses myself.
 

A Little IVF History

In July of 1978, Louise Brown was born in Oldham, England. This event was the beginning of IVF (in vitro fertilization) where doctors extract eggs from the ovaries and mix them with sperm in a petri dish or tube to create an embryo. Once the embryo begins to grow, doctors transfer it to the uterus.

Reproductive research pioneers Robert Edwards and Patrick Steptoe were initially criticized but today IVF is the most important method for the treatment of infertility. In 2010 the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to Robert Edwards for the development of in vitro fertilization. In 2018, more than 80,000 babies were born from IVF procedures in the United States alone and more than a million around the world.

The Present Condition of Reproductive Equality

A large void in the fight for human rights now exists in the passing of Justice Ginsburg. As far as reproductive rights go, more than 60% of polled Americans support choice. It would be unconscionable and totally unacceptable to make an appointment to the court that could shift it away from choice when voting has already started in many states and the majority of the population supports privacy and choice.

A photo of NPR's Nina Totenberg interviewing Ruth Bader Ginsburg about the movie "On the Basis of Sex"What’s at Stake?

The Supreme Court hears and decides cases that have broad and sweeping legal, political, and social significance. The opinions issued by the Court will have a substantive impact on society, but more importantly on every one of us - personally.

The right to choose IVF to plan your family in on the ballot alongside healthcare including pre-existing conditions. A shift in the court here could leave millions of people without healthcare during a pandemic.

 

 

If there was ever any hope of getting IVF covered by insurance, this could make all the efforts of many reproductive rights organization null and void.

Whether survivors of sexual violence can get the services they need is on the ballot.

Equality is on the ballot. So much is at stake.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a struggled  as a young attorney and new mother. She faced many obstacles and laid ground-breaking legal precedence in her fight for equal rights changing the way the courts view gender discrimination.

Movie Trailer for: On the Basis of Sex

 

 

 

Photos used under the following Creative Commons license

"Nina Totenberg (NPR) interviews Ruth Bader GinsburgThe Wide Wide World is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

" The Portrait photo: A Beautiful Ruth Bader Ginsburg" by John Mathew Smith & www.celebrity-photos.com is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Avoiding Toxins During Pregnancy

Illustration of 6 different ethnic pregnant women

Pregnancy is what we strive for but with a history of infertility and miscarriage, it can be one of the scariest times in a couple's life. Environmental factors play a big role in the development of the baby. Here are some toxins to avoid and some tips on how to avoid them

Please feel free to share this simple infographic: Avoiding Toxins During Pregnancy. Click each icon to find more information and tips to avoid toxins during pregnancy.

 

 

 

Mental Health and Starting a Family: A Guide

Happy couple looking at a pregnancy test

Mental Health and Starting a Family: A Guide

Starting a family is a life-changing experience which many people aspire to at some point in their life. Having a child truly is a miraculous experience which has the power to change everything, both regarding your life and regarding you as a person.

As with any life-changing event, your mental health may be impacted by the change, as well as being severely compromised if you have trouble starting a family or if you run into problems conceiving the way you had hoped. You may then feel as though you need further tailored support, such as from someone with a masters in mental health counseling.

Perhaps you have always thought that you would like to start a family and are wondering whether now the right time for you is. When making this decision, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you financially able to support a growing family?
  • Is your home equipped for a new baby, such as having the right amount of space and room?
  • How will your career be affected by having a baby? Are you ready to take a career break, or have your job take a back seat for a while?
  • Are you with the right person, or are you mentally ready to raise a child alone if you are considering family options as a single person?

This guide discusses the issues you may face where mental health is concerned, and important steps to consider when starting a family.

Mental Health and Trying for a Baby

Deciding to try for a baby and start a family is a significant step. No matter whether you've always planned for it or whether you've recently decided, it would be natural to feel overwhelmed by such a momentous decision. It's possible that your mental health can therefore be compromised if you feel the pressures, as well as the desperate desire, to start a family.

Although starting a family and trying for a baby is a wonderful thing, it can take a lot of planning, crucial steps and lifestyle changes. It may also take a very long time to conceive. This can easily affect your mindset and mental health if the routine becomes too draining or if you develop anxiety over not being able to conceive as quickly as you would have hoped.

It's important to be as positive and healthy as you can be while trying for a baby. Undue stress on the mind and body may only make it more difficult to naturally conceive or make it difficult to enjoy the process. To make everything easier, consider:

  • Seeking advice regarding how to improve your chances of conceiving
  • Try to avoid treating intimacy as a strict routine and instead try to conceive when you naturally feel ready to try
  • Speak to others about how you're feeling, including your partner if the situation is becoming overwhelming

Trouble with Conceiving: Which Steps to Take

It may be that, after trying to conceive for a significant period, it simply isn't working. This, naturally, can have a detrimental effect on your mental health, as not only are you not achieving the beginning of your new family, but you may also begin to worry why it is not working for you and whether there is any cause for concern health-wise for you and your partner.

In the first instance, it is crucial to speak to a medical professional regarding your trouble conceiving so that you can discuss the possibilities. Tests may need to be carried out, and your next options may need to be explored. This can be a difficult and worrying time which can take a toll on your mental health. Still, it's important to understand that difficulty conceiving in the first instance doesn't mean that you will never be able to start the family that you've been dreaming of. Alongside health and physical attention, you should also seek mental health support if necessary, from those with a masters in mental health counseling.

If you cannot conceive naturally, there are other steps you can take, such as:

  • Adoption
  • IVF treatment
  • Treatment options for infertility
  • Sperm or egg donation
  • Surrogacy

When considering which option may be right for you, be sure to do as much research as possible and gain the relevant medical advice. Taking one of these options, even if it means you can achieve the family you had hoped, can still be overwhelming and upsetting, therefore affecting your mental health.

Support is crucial during this key decision-making, so be sure to check your options from those with a masters in mental health counseling.

Mental Health and Helping Others

If you are a parent who has experienced mental health issues relating to starting a family, or perhaps an individual who has suffered from their mental health following infertility issues and not being able to start a family, maybe you're eager to help others struggling through the same — whether those with general mental health issues or specifically parents who are suffering through mental health concerning conception or raising a child.

There are various avenues to explore if you would like to help others, including seeking a career in counseling and a masters in mental health counseling so that you can support others going through the same journey or any related issues with mental health.

Wanting to start a family and either wanting to be a parent or becoming a parent, naturally means you're a compassionate and caring person who wants to help and care for others (your own child or family), so these are virtues which can be applied to counseling and helping others, too.

Mental Health and Adoption

Adoption can introduce a variety of mental health issues, both for you as a parent, and for an adopted child. For a parent choosing to adopt, it can be a difficult path if you always wanted to conceive naturally. It is a big step in deciding to seek an alternative to raising a family and helping a child who needs to have a home and a family.

Furthermore, it's important to be in a healthy and good mental state when preparing yourself to adopt a child. If your mental health has become compromised due to difficult circumstances around trying to conceive (such as being told that you're infertile), it may be a good idea to take a break and concentrate on your own recovery before adopting. That way, you can be in the healthiest condition to care for a new child. It's, therefore, imperative to seek out support options, such as sessions from a licensed individual with a masters in mental health counseling.

Regarding an adopted child, if they are at an older age when they are adopted, or if you choose to tell your child the truth about their adoption when they reach a certain age, this knowledge can affect their mental health. They may struggle emotionally trying to understand about their birth parents, or why they had to be put up for adoption. Or perhaps the truth may simply be something they struggle with mentally. It may even be the case that an adopted child suffered through difficult circumstance or even trauma, leading to the need for them to be adopted, and this could result in issues later in life.

Your child always has the option of receiving counseling at any age from someone with a masters in mental health counseling.

Mental Health and IVF Treatment

If you've chosen the IVF route, then firstly, it can be expensive, depending on how many attempts of the treatment you need. Therefore, you may experience stress and anxiety relating to your finances when trying to get pregnant through IVF. It's essential to manage your finances properly and plan for the cost of IVF treatment in advance, to have a better understanding and avoid any unwarranted stress.

Furthermore, IVF treatment is never guaranteed to work successfully. This can be extremely traumatic for those parents who had hoped the treatment would work for them. There are other options you can consider as an alternative if IVF treatment is not a success for you, or you can try again with the same treatment. Alongside this, support your mental health during this journey by seeking out services from someone with a masters in mental health counseling.

Mental Health and Your Growing Family

Mental health issues can arise at any time, at any age, in anyone. This means both for you as a parent, and for your growing child. You can never plan for how your child is going to behave, whether in their childhood years or as they develop. You can easily run into difficulty and negativity as a parent if you are worried about your child's behavior or if they are difficult.

Additionally, your child may develop mental health issues of their own as they age. It's important as a parent to know what to look out for in others regarding signs and symptoms of mental health issues such as depression.

In growing children, this could include:

  • Persistent low mood
  • Withdrawing from social situations
  • Disruptive or out-of-control behaviour
  • Speaking of negative or troublesome thoughts
  • Issues with behaviour and mood in other situations, such as school or out in public

There is always support available for parents struggling with their own mental health issues, such as from those with a masters in mental health counseling, or for parents with children who have mental health problems.

Mental Health and Suffering with a Miscarriage

While it is possible to heal and gain support from loved ones and professionals who can help through the process of miscarriage recovery, your own mental health and how you choose to handle the situation is what is most important. Nobody can tell a parent how to act when they have lost a child, and it's important for you to never keep it inside about what you are experiencing.

You may want to speak to other parents who have suffered through the same experience so that you can gain a better understanding and the support you need. Naturally, those who have never experienced the loss of a child will not be able to understand or support you fully — even if those people love you and care about your grief — so it can be very helpful to speak to other parents who know directly how it feels.

Physical, mental and emotional health can be severely impacted following the loss of a child, perhaps even for the rest of your life. The emotional distress and grief experienced by those who suffer from a miscarriage will undoubtedly mean that their mental health is compromised, and they may benefit from the services of a professional with a masters in mental health counseling.

It's important to understand that suffering a miscarriage does not mean that you can never try again for a family or that you will never be able to have a child. Still, it's also important to allow yourself enough time to understand, grieve and heal.

Understanding Postnatal Depression

You can never plan for postnatal depression, and you may think that it would never happen to you, but the truth is, it can arise in any parent following giving birth to their child. What's important to remember if suffering through postnatal depression that is — just with any mental health illness — it is not your fault, and it does not mean that you are any less of a loving parent. After all, having a baby is completely life-changing, which means it can trigger new and overwhelming responses in your mind and body when raising a new child.

The signs of postnatal depression include:

  • Feeling anxious and tearful. While this is natural after giving birth, if these symptoms persist for a long period, such as a month or longer after giving birth, it could be a sign of a large problem
  • Lack of energy and feeling tired
  • Loss of interest in anything
  • Withdrawing from other people, or different situations
  • Worrying thoughts involving your baby, including negative thoughts towards them

Strategies to cope with postnatal depression include:

  • Seeking professional help and support, such as from those with a masters in mental health counseling
  • Being prescribed medication, such as anti-depressants
  • Speaking with loved ones
  • Trying to keep up with a healthy routine, such as exercise and your diet choices
  • Trying to partake in activities which will help you to feel more positive, such as pastimes you've always enjoyed
  • All of the above

Take Away

While the experience of trying for, and raising, a family is rewarding and positive, it's undoubtedly one where many problems can be faced. These problems don't mean that raising a family isn't everything you'd hoped for or that it can't be a success, it simply means that better care and planning may be needed for problems which can arise.

Most importantly, it is your own emotional and mental wellbeing as a parent — as well as that of your child — which needs to be taken into consideration during this important time, and you can always seek support from those with masters in mental health counseling.

5 Ways to Organize Your Team (even if you work remotely!)

Photo of laptop video conferencing

In this era of the ‘new normal’, we’re all having to get used to a new way of working. At first, we were hesitant to get used to it, because things can change so quickly, but now we’re a few months down the line of the global health crisis, and it’s clear that things won’t be going back to ‘normal’ for a very long time.

Times of Change

So, what do businesses do in times of change like what we see now? With around 42% of the American workforce now working from home, how can we keep up with our teams’ needs and our need to know what our employees are up to? Possibly even more vital in these times of mass remote working, how do we ensure that all of our team members feel values for both their skills and for what they bring to the team on a personal level if we can’t meet them in person and say that?

We’ve pulled together five tips to help organize your team, and the best thing is they will work whether your team is remote or office-based, or a mixture of the two.

Make Use of Video

This one is a no brainer really; it’s time your team made use of video. Video calling is, at times like these, the next-best-thing to being with your team in person and now we’ve all been using it a bit more, we’re all much more used to being on camera.

Embrace video, but make sure you put some etiquette guidelines in, especially around muting microphones when you’re not speaking!

Digitize Schedules

Scheduling everyone can be an absolute nightmare. We all know Outlook doesn’t do the best job and trying to keep track of hundreds of Doodle polls s just too time-consuming. Switch your team over to an e-rostering system instead. These systems are designed or organize your team better than you can, from schedules to skills, they are worth their weight in gold!

Group Calls

No one likes a meeting for a meeting’s sake, but when we’re all dispersed across the town or feeling isolated at home, it can be nice to connect with your colleagues in whatever way you can.

Set up a regular group video call (weekly or bi-weekly) that isn’t mandatory to attend, just half an hour to say hi and give each other a little bit of support, because we could all do with it right now.

Celebrate the Wins

Did you have the kind of office culture that would celebrate when someone landed a deal, got a promotion, or your conference was a success? Even if you weren’t that kind of office, now is a great time to start implementing these ideas!

Get a company account with an online gift retailer and get everyone on a Zoom call to celebrate with a bottle of Prosecco; it will mean the world to your team and will help to boost morale.

Why Refusing to Wear a Mask Is Not ADA Protected

A close up photo of a woman wearing a face mask and surgical hair covering
We’re all living through COVID-19 and some of us are more vulnerable than others. I’m hearing more and more accounts of individuals claiming their “access rights” under the ADA are being violated because they refuse to put on a mask.
 

So to set the record straight and as a person who has a child with multiple disabilities, I am going to explain the 99.9% of those who won’t wear a mask are not entitled to accuse businesses of violating the “ADA”.

If a person with a disability is not able to wear a face mask because of their disability, businesses can consider REASONABLE modifications to the face mask policy (so they continue to protect others) but also accommodate the person with the disability. The accommodations enable a person to participate in, or benefit from, the programs offered or goods and services that are provided while not jeopardizing others in the midst of a public health crisis.

A REASONABLE modification means changing the business policies, practices, and /or procedures, IF NEEDED, to provide goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations to an individual with a disability.

The requirement to modify a policy, practice, or procedure does NOT include individuals WITHOUT disabilities, as those without a disability are NOT protected under the ADA. So, when the self-entitled "Karens" OR "Kens" of the world enter a place of business and tell you it is their right not to wear a mask under the ADA, ask this allowed question, “Do you have a disability that prevents you from wearing a mask.”
If they say yes, tell them you are happy to modify your policy to accommodate their shopping. However, there are a multitude of ways to accommodate them (under the ADA) that does not include allowing them to wander throughout the store or business without a face-covering.

Reasonable modifications to the policy of wearing a face mask:
​​​​​​​

  • Allowing a person to wear a scarf, or loose face covering, or FULL-FACE SHIELD instead of a face mask; (If you identify as a person with a disability who cannot wear a face-mask, buy yourself a full-face shield;

  • Allow customers to order online with curbside pick-up or no contact delivery;

  • Allow customers to order by phone with curbside pick-up or no contact delivery in a timely manner;

  • Shop for the customer;

  • Allow a person to wait in their car for an appointment and enter the building when called or texted;

  • Offer appointments by telephone or video calls.

I would bet that most of the anti-wearing face-maskers do not identify as a person with a disability in their place of employment.

The excuse (being a person living with a disability) is a slap in the face toward people who DO live daily with a disability. False claims of disability hurt those with a disability.

The science is clear. Studies show us that viral load peaks in the days before symptoms begin and that speaking is enough to expel virus-carrying droplets. Wearing a mask shows respect for others but also for yourself.

In Summary

What most of these entitled people don't get even if they do have a disability is that their "disability rights" do not outweigh the rights of others; others who may have a compromised immune system or be involved in cancer treatment or live with a vulnerable adult or child. I would urge everyone to think long and hard about personal motivation, acts of kindness to others, and self-respect.

 

Pages