Sunday, November 29, 2009

And the winner is...

InfertileNaomi from 999 reasons to laugh at infertility.

What did she win? A copy of Theresa Miller's book - Making Babies, Personal IVF Stories.

And now for take 2 of another book giveaway - Unsung Lullabies.

Leave a comment on this post by December 12 for your chance to win it. Winner will be announced on or around December 14th.

Good luck!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Off topic - Homeschooling - Science Fair

My absolutely amazing friend, Shez, homeschools her twins. They do the most incredible things - she's got her kids (who are obviously fantastic kids) doing very impressive activities, one of which is participating in a science fair. Go over and read Shez's blog - Homeschooled twins - if you've got an interest in homeschooling!

Here are some of the sponsors of the GUESS Homeschool Science Fair and the young scientists of Hampton Roads!

Green Olive Tree is an internet company based in Portsmouth, Virginia and owned and operated by a homeschooling family. They offer a broad range of internet services, from reliable web hosting to corporate infrastructure solutions and server administration.

SKS Science supplies homeschoolers and other educators with all the science supplies you need to turn your dining room table into a proper laboratory. Browse their site for test tubes, bottles, face masks and other lab supplies and books.

Book Exchange is the largest used bookstore in Eastern Virginia. Unlike most musty and confusing used stores, this one is clean, bright, inviting, and has a huge selection of used homeschool books. There's always an interesting curriculum find on these shelves!

Folkmanis Puppets makes the most delightful animal puppets available outside Santa's workshop. Meet their most unusual creations like llamas, Chinese dragons, ostriches, flying squirrels. Unusual materials create realistic textures, and they all move in very realistic ways. Irresistible.

The Happy Scientist, Robert Krampf, hosts an online wonderland for budding scientists. With online science lessons, experiments to try at home, a science photo of the day, and new content added all the time, you'll love setting your kids loose on this site.

Mad Science is Hampton Roads' premier provider of science enrichment classes for children. Summer classes include "Crazy Chemistry" and a space camp developed with NASA! New homeschool science classes are being offered in Norfolk and VA Beach, with more planned for fall.

Moore Expressions is a homeschool bookstore in Virginia Beach, VA. They sell used and new homeschooling curriculum, host a support group, and publish a newsletter called the Bayith Educator. They are the premier source for homeschooling books in the Hampton Roads area.

Norfolk Karate Academy offers classes in Tang Soo Do (Korean karate) and Gracie Jiu Jitsu (Brazilian grappling and self-defense). With classes for children, teens, and adults, it's a great way for anyone to get in shape and kick things in a socially acceptable way!

Brooks Systems offers standalone software and web applications that check legal compliance in all municipalities in all fifty states, and create truth-in-lending documents for residential lenders. Using Brooks for your automated mortgage compliance, you can be sure your loans are safe.

eScienceLabs creates boxes of joy for science loving homeschoolers. In each kit is a complete science experience -- from individual lessons to full years of high school labs. Hands-on science kits are the answer to your laboratory woes. Everything is in there: test tubes, goggles, and fun.

Mariner's Museum has amazing programs for homeschoolers learning about maritime science, history, and even pirates! Their spring homeschool series features lessons about the Civil War. Visit Mariner's Museum for historical exhibits and educational programming.

Virginia Air and Space Center was host to the homeschool science fair this year, and delivered awesome science classes for homeschoolers from their education department. The VASC is the educator resource center for the NASA Langley Research Center.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Free IVF Cycle & Book Giveaway

It turns out that there are clinics that give away free IVF cycles. Apparently HRC Fertility offered 20 such cycles - each couple had to write an essay of up to 500 words, stating their reasons for wanting to have a child.

Here's one of the stories of a couple who won a free cycle - http://www.dailybulletin.com/ci_13794655.

Want to read more stories? Sign up below for a chance to win a copy of Making Babies: Personal IVF Stories by Theresa Miller. Ms. Miller interviewed people involved in 14 stories of IVF on their way to try to become parents (some were successful, some not). One of the stories discussed "sensing" an unborn baby's thoughts and wishes, which I couldn't get in touch with. Another discussed the decision to stop treatment - an important topic I believe far too few people have written about. Overall, the book was interesting and provided plenty of opportunities to shed tears (mostly joyous ones). Leave a comment below by November 26 for your chance to win it! Tweet this post for another chance (and let me know in the comment that you have).

Coming up soon on FertilityStories Blog:
  • A giveaway for a shopping cart cover from CNS
  • An excerpt from The Stewart Institute's book, "Do You Love Someone Who is Infertile?" - a guide for a spouse, sibling, parent or friend. (They actually sent me a copy it looks fabulous!)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Womb transplants - getting closer?

I just read this article on the BBC News site. They report that British Doctors claim to be closer than ever to being able to transplant a womb, so that a woman could conceive (with the help of IVF), carry one or more pregnancies, deliver by c-section and then have the womb removed. The article raises a number of questions that I found both interesting and relevant.

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

In the news...

I really enjoyed this article by Pamela Tsigdinos -Fertility Industry: Boon and Curse. She wrote it as a response to the article the New York Times ran on Sunday - "The Gift of Life, and Its Price" that I didn't find particularly interesting, but I have heard it drew a lot of comments that people going through infertility found offensive (I do my best to avoid reading them - I have enough stress in my life.)

Monday's New York Times ran an article about multiples & selective reduction that, once again, caused me to think that unmonitored IUI should be a crime (although one of the cases they talk about was monitored and still ended up with high order multiples).

If things are going to change, it should be based on the research that's been done on e-SET - elective single embryo transfer. Having read many journal articles about it and its advantages (I was planning to write a seminar paper about it, but came up with some ethical issues that got in the way), it's clear that guidelines could be written to avoid unnecessary premature births and pregnancies with high-order-multiples that endanger the mother.

The New York Times also has an online presentation about e-SET.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Laptops & reduced spermatogenesis

An article that came up in my news page today quoted Dr. Suzanne Kavic, director of the division of reproductive endocrinology at Loyola University Health System as saying that "...the heat generated from laptops can impact sperm production and development making it difficult to conceive down the road."

Since they didn't quote any research that backed that, I went to check it out. I found this abstract from Human Reproduction where Yefim Sheynkin, Michael Jung, Peter Yoo, David Schulsinger and Eugene Komaroff tested men for scrotal hyperthermia when working on laptops.

They tested 29 volunteers and found that indeed the use of laptops raised the temperature between 2.6-2.8 degrees celsius. Based on the abstract, "scrotal hyperthermia has been identified as a risk factor for male infertility" - so they've shown that laptop computers cause scrotal hyperthermia and since that's a known risk factor for male infertility, it definitely sounds like something even young boys should be made aware of.

I see there are already patent applications and products to help solve this problem.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Cervical Cancer Vaccine Scare

As I was checking the links on my links page, to make sure there weren't any dead ones, I came across this story...

It started like this: Last week, on Sept 28, 2009 , Natalie Morton, a British 14-year-old girl died suddenly, just over an hour after having been given Cervarix, a vaccine against HPV (human papilloma virus) produced by GlaxoSmithKline (see video). 9 other girls reported feeling mildly ill. So GSK quickly recalled all the unused doses in the batch, while an autopsy and investigation began.

Obviously some chose to make the immediate link between the vaccine and her death. But then the autopsy showed that Natalie Morton, in fact, had a large malignant tumor in her heart and lungs. (Though this article claims the autopsy is just a cover-up.)

And then there's the question asked by Deborah Kotz (follow-up post) as to whether if a vaccine did indeed cause a single injury or death - does that deem it unsafe (DK's original post)? (Read the comments too, if you want to be really confused.) It makes sense to me that a vaccine would have to do more good than harm - if we consider 1.4 million girls who were vaccinated, how many of them were likely to die or suffer due to cervical cancer (if they had not been vaccinated)? I'm glad that it seems that Natalie's death was not caused by the vaccine - and I hope that somehow people will get the information needed to make the best decision for their daughters - and not be swayed by a single, terrible coincidence that linked the vaccine with death.

Truly evil - prank pregnancy test

This should be taken off of eBay...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mistakes that should never happen

It should never have happened that doctors transferred the wrong embryos to Carolyn Savage. I feel terrible for her and for her family and some people may think that Paul and Shannon Morell got a good deal - no pregnancy, healthy baby - but I feel terrible for them too. They missed out on experiencing a pregnancy, on being there and able to feel his first kicks and I bet they've also got some guilt about taking the baby (who is biologically theirs) from Sean and Carolyn Savage - even though the mistake wasn't theirs. I have a lot of respect for Sean & Carolyn who decided to continue the pregnancy - I can think of all the reasons why they "had" to, but I can think of a lot of reasons why they might not want to too. I hope the two families will be able to form some kind of relationship that will give both a sense of peace about what happened.

Dr. Grumbles posted an article about Ochsner Hospital (in New Orleans) that was shut down due to "mishandling of frozen embryos". Some of the embryos are mislabeled or missing. Missing I've heard of before - inexcusable and horrible, but not nearly as scary as mislabeled. I can't imagine the 100 families (or so) who are dealing with this news. When I was going through IVF it occurred to me that there could be a mix up, but then I thought, "I'm putting crazy ideas into my head. That's exactly what these people do - keep the embryos labeled correctly so there are no mistakes - and they know how important it is." One would hope...

These recent events make it even more understandable why some people would choose to have the entire process supervised. For many years, orthodox Jews (particularly ultra-orthodox) have had specially-trained supervisors who watch the process from start to finish, making sure there are no mix-ups. This article discusses the cooperation formed between The Jewish Community Council of Montreal (Vaad Ha’ir) and the McGill Reproductive Centre, located at the Royal Victoria Hospital - they've launched a program that strictly adheres to halachah (Jewish Law) while offering the latest technology, including in vitro fertilization (IVF). I bet more and more people, not only Jews, are going to be interested in this type of supervised IVF in the near future.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Book Excerpt - Making Babies by Theresa Miller

From the introduction to Theresa Miller's book - Making Babies - a book about IVF Experiences*

"I was conceived accidentally by a couple of teenagers in the back seat of a 1960s pink Ford Zephyr at the drive-in movies in Adelaide. I don't know what was playing that night, but it obviously didn't capture my parents' attention. Four months later, my Catholic grandparents marched their disgraced children down the aisle...

Except for my grinning father wearing a tight borrowed suit, my 18-year-old mother and the rest of the family looked grim faced in the wedding photos. My parents went on to have my little sister three years later. Their marriage lasted 15 years, which is not a bad track record for a shotgun wedding.

And so it was, that my mother warned me not to make the same mistakes she’d made. “Don’t get married young, see the world, go to university, have a career, have lots of boyfriends before you settle down and most importantly, don’t get pregnant accidentally!”

Dutifully, I followed my mother’s instructions. I went to university and studied journalism, landed a job as a TV reporter, worked in London and Europe for six years, lived with my violinist boyfriend in Switzerland and traveled the world.

When I met my husband-to-be, Stuart Ziegler, in Sydney, I was 31 and ready to settle down. Within a few months, I fell pregnant accidentally. I was excited but Stuart wasn’t so thrilled. Our relationship was still new and he was worried about how he’d support us. My mother’s words were ringing in my head, “Don’t ever make a man marry you because you’re pregnant.” So with a heavy heart, I had a termination. A decision, we both came to deeply regret.

Six months later Stuart and I were married. I threw my contraceptive pill away and we tried in earnest to start a family. Nothing happened after the first year. I wasn’t too worried. I was working as a TV reporter and traveling often. It was probably just bad timing, I told myself. After the second year, I began to worry I’d damaged my fallopian tubes somehow with the termination. Tests revealed everything was fine.

By the third year, the strain was taking its toll on our marriage and I blamed Stuart for ‘making me have an abortion.’ We began to argue more than we were having sex. By the fourth year, family and friends stopped asking about the ‘pitter patter of little feet.’ When I heard about friends falling pregnant easily I’d smile and congratulate them and go home and cry.

I started to investigate IVF but the only books I found were technical manuals and a devastating memoir by a woman who tried unsuccessfully for years and suffered terrible side effects from the drugs.

At first, I stubbornly rejected IVF, saying, “We’ve conceived once naturally, we can do it again!” Instead we spent a fortune on acupuncture, naturopaths, Chinese herbalists, spiritual healers and ayurvedic medicine. By now, my sense of humour was drying up and according to my doctor, so were my eggs.

Around the time of my 37th birthday I met a woman at a party who told me she’d just had twins using IVF. When I told her my age, and that we’d been trying to conceive for five years, she said, “For God’s sake woman, get yourself down to the Baby Factory and get on the IVF program. You’ve got no time to lose!”

So that’s exactly what we did. After talking to the nurses at Sydney IVF, I threw down my visa card and said, “Book us in.” At last I felt like we were doing something proactive. Every morning Stuart would inject me in the bottom and except for one jab, which made me feel like my legs were crawling with ants, I didn’t have any adverse reactions to the drugs.

I didn’t tell anyone at work what we were doing, but every morning I felt buoyed by my secret when I logged on to my computer with the password “Zoë Ziegler.”

Harvest or egg pick-up day was the first anniversary of September 11. As I placed my legs in stirrups and winced while the doctor extracted eggs from my pumped up ovaries with a long needle, I wondered what sort of world I would be bringing a child into. But the human instinct to procreate seems to override logic, good sense and even fear.

My pride at producing the grand total of nineteen eggs ­ as if I was a prize-winning chook ­ was dashed the next day when only three fertilised. I couldn’t help wondering whether my crusty old eggs were to blame or my husband’s lazy sperm.

At Sydney IVF, they grow the fertilised egg for five days until it’s a multi-celled blastocyst, before transferring it into the mother’s womb. It seemed surreal, that while we were at work or out to dinner, our ‘offspring’ were growing in a petri dish in the city.

Every day Stuart would ring the lab to see how ‘the little guys’ were doing. In the meantime, I tried to convince Stuart we should have two embryos, rather than one, transferred to increase my chances, even though our doctor had warned us we could end up with twins. I left a letter on Stuart’s desk headlined: ‘Ten Reasons Why We Should Have Twins’ followed by bullet points. Stuart still laughs about it today and wished he’d kept that paper to remind me whenever I complain what a handful one child is.

As it turned out ­ we didn’t have the twin option. According to the lab, one blastocyst was way out in front as an ‘A’ grade specimen, which meant the cells were dividing rapidly while the other two were growing more slowly. They recommend transferring the good one and freezing the other two as back up. As it turned out, the slower blastocysts stopped dividing and simply disintegrated before they even got to the freezer. I was devastated. The doctor tried to reassure me. “It’s not every day I get to transfer such a good looking blastocyst,” he said.

I’ll never forget looking down the microscope at what we nicknamed, the ‘blasting blastocyst’ that was to become Zoë Ziegler. After the doctor had transferred the fertilised egg into my uterus, I asked him if I should go home and put my legs up, so it wouldn’t fall out. He laughed, “There are women out there who have no idea they have a five-day-old embryo growing inside them and they’re drinking champagne and dancing all night. Now it’s simply up to that embryo whether if wants to become a baby or not.”

Somehow, I found that strangely reassuring. For all its incredible technology, IVF still has to leave room for the magic and mystery of creation.

Zoë is Greek for ‘life’. As I look at my beautiful, bright and bubbly three-year-old daughter, I don’t just marvel at the wonder of IVF; I marvel at the wonder of her and all children.

Why does new life sometimes spring unbidden from a once-off romp in the back of a car and other times refuse to blossom despite years of yearning? My newfound awe sent me on a quest to interview other people who’d also experienced IVF. I sought both men’s and women’s personal stories. As it turned out, it was mostly women who responded. I was touched by their open hearted and candid stories. Together we sat in their kitchens or on their sofas and laughed and wept at their journeys.

Not all the stories in this book have happy endings like mine. Some have given up IVF after years of trying without success; others are still on the treadmill.

After countless miscarriages, one woman finally gave birth to a baby, which tragically died weeks later from a rare congenital disease. Another couple gave birth to twins after a friend donated her eggs, while a mother of three impulsively donated her eggs to a stranger.

Women also tell of enduring personal tragedies in their quest for a child; while one woman mourned her brother’s suicide, another was dumped by her partner in the middle of her IVF cycle. Neither gave up their dreams of becoming mothers.

I also spoke to a remarkable young woman who was the product of one of the earliest IVF programs. At school she was teased and called a ‘test tube baby’, now she’s an ambassador for an infertility network.

Assisted reproductive technology has also made it possible for gays and singles to be parents too. A gay male couple and a single woman in her forties share their stories of baby hunger.

All these memoirs are very different. All display courage, determination, vulnerability, love and proof that the desire for a baby is bigger than us all.

P.S. As I wrote this introduction, my pregnant belly pressed against the desk. After Zoë turned three, we decided not to do IVF again and be content with one child. I gave away the high chair, the pram and my maternity clothes. A month later my hands shook as I held the pregnancy test and looked at the two red lines showing a positive result. Our second daughter, Sienna - the homegrown type, was born in January 2007.

See: www.MakingBabiesIVF.com

*reprinted here with permission from the author

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Life after infertility treatments

There's a great article in Thursday's New York Times - Shelagh Little writes about making the decision to stop fertility treatments and live without children.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Mushrooms anyone?

OK, I realize this is off-topic, but Ohad spotted this in our garden today, growing in the pot with the basil and we have no clue what kind of mushroom it is. Any ideas?

IMG_3237  IMG_3239

And, if I’m already off topic, I welcome you to visit my new blog – http://www.internationalshippingshops.blogspot.com – a listing of online shops that have items for decent prices AND ship worldwide. If you have any ideas for that, feel free to pass them on.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

PCOS, Acupuncture, Surrogacy & Donor Gamete Babies

In this article published by NewsMax (which my dad sent me), they discuss a recent study performed by Elisabet Stener Victorin at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. In it, they studied women diagnosed as having polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

During the study, one group of women with polycystic ovary syndrome received acupuncture regularly for four months. They received a type of acupuncture known as “electro acupuncture”, in which the needles are stimulated with a weak low frequency electric current, similar to that developed during muscular work. A second group of women were provided with heart rate monitors and instructed to exercise at least three times a week. A control group was informed about the importance of exercise and a healthy diet, but was given no other specific instructions.

The results showed more normal menstruation and significantly lower testosterone levels in the group who received acupuncture.

My mom sent me this article (yeah, sounds like I no longer have to do any of my own research) about children born via surrogacy, egg donation and sperm donation. Polly Casey from the Centre for Family Research at Britain's Cambridge University studied nearly 200 families – 128 with children born using assisted reproduction of one of the types mentioned above and 70 conceived without ART. She found that “the family types did not differ in the overall quality of the relationship between mothers and their children and fathers and their children”.

The article also discusses parents’ intentions as to revealing donor and surrogacy issues to their children and what they actually chose to do by the time the children were seven years old.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Infertility Jewelry

fertility-pendant

I recently came across LifeMedals, which was established by a woman who went through many years of infertility and many, many cycles of treatment. Her story is fascinating and I find that I really admire what she’s chosen to do with it – to create jewelry that reflects qualities necessary to get through really difficult times. The fertility hope medal (on the right) is one that I think so many women would love to have… I know I would. It also seems like a great gift for parents to give a daughter or daughter-in-law who is still trying to conceive.

Do you have a piece of jewelry that you connect with your infertility?

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I’m not affiliated with LifeMedals.com and do not receive commissions or any  benefit whatsoever for purchases of jewelry.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Infertility & Lack of Sleep

What's the connection, if any, you ask? I just read this article by Michael J. Breus about a possible link between lack of sleep and impaired fertility. He mentions these points:
  • Sleep's effect on the body's hormonal system - implying that a lack of sleep could hinder regular ovulation.
  • Sleep deprivation's effect on leptin levels, which can also have an impact on ovulation.
  • Insomniacs' higher levels of cortisol and adrenocorticotropic, both of which can suppress healthy cycles.

He quotes this article by Toni Parker that discusses research performed in Boston on women athletes who were given leptin to help resume their menstrual cycles and restore ovarian function. (There's a movie clip and several tips on how to sleep better there too.)

And while I find all of these studies interesting - and their advice good to follow, just for general good health - I think it's still important to say that a lot of cases of infertility can't be solved simply by getting a better night's sleep - on the other hand, you really have nothing to lose...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Infertility in China

CNN ran an article yesterday about infertility in China. When I think about China and babies, my first thought is how awful it must be to be limited to just one baby and how sad it is that some parents feel that having a daughter is some sort of failure… Even with my being so aware of infertility, China wasn’t one of the places I thought about. (Although I have thought about China for a lot of other reasons, including my parents’ multiple trips there – see http://drsavta.com/travelkosher/ for amazing pictures and fascinating information, especially if you keep kosher and are interested in having the best tour guide ever… BTW, they’re going to Vietnam & Cambodia too.) Anyway, I found the article both interesting and surprising… and I’m happy for the couple featured in the article that they ended up having not one but two healthy babies :-)

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I updated my post about tooth gemination and added new pictures.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

More Key & Lock info

I'm discovering that there's a nice community of infertility twitterers. I'm planning to create a directory (sign up in the comments of this post), but so far there haven't been too many sign-ups (1, if I recall correctly). So... I was going through Machon Puah's tweets and found a better article than the one I recently posted - The secret life of sperm is unlocked.

I'm still skeptical of people's willingness to accept results of such a test, if and when it finally exists.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Egg & Sperm - Lock & Key?

I finally opened a twitter account for Fertility Stories (feel free to follow me - http://twitter.com/fertilitystorie) and someone sent me a message asking me if I'd seen this article.

The article mentions Dr. Martin Brinkworth, Dr. David Miller at the University of Leeds and Dr. David Iles (but doesn't mention where -if anywhere- results of the study are being published). It summarizes their findings:

The study researchers have found out a mechanism called lock-and-key mechanism by which reproduction takes place.
In living organisms, sperm and egg cells unite in a distinct way. The sperm cells have keys (genetic signals or codes) and the eggs have locks (genetic signals or codes) and only the most suitable key signal can fit into the lock of an egg.


OK. Sounds interesting, but how does this help, I asked myself... Later in the article comes their explanation:

The scientists could use the newer understanding to develop some test to screen infertile man. This would cut down the failure rate of IVF by 75 percent as filtering out male candidates who can never produce children would become possible.


To this, all I can say is, "Yeah, right". Who's going to take a sperm sample that looks fairly normal and then run it by a lab that stamps a big "FAIL" on the results and decide, "oh, OK, so I'll just never have a biological child"? And what happens if the woman, even just once, got pregnant naturally and, even if it ended in miscarriage, are they really going to accept that his sperm isn't able to fertilize her ova? I just don't believe that a lab test, without ever actually going through the process of IVF is going to convince the average couple...

Now, if these guys could find a way to fix the 'key' mechanism, I'd be the first to say they were on to something...

Friday, July 31, 2009

Volunteer for Israel - Yes. This commercial, no.

Today's Ha'aretz ran a story on an Israeli campaign to encourage volunteering in Israel. It's point is supposed to be that there are a variety of plans available for developing careers, volunteering or studying in Israel (not sure which, I didn't check it out). Ohad pointed the article out to me since the headline was "Rachel Disrobes" and he thought that was pretty funny... and since it starts with an ad that says "Surrogate Mother Available", I had to see it. Here it is:

**was - it was removed from YouTube

So I watched it and watched it again. The article says it shows a good sense of humor and that people like it. First of all, only a little over 6000 people have watched it. Not very successful for a YouTube video. Second, of the 3 people they asked about it, two said they didn't like it.

If I understand correctly, the story is that Rachel hit hard economic times, so she decided to become a surrogate mother, whereas really, she should have just come to Israel. The connection's a little difficult for me. And, being pro-surrogacy (actually, unrelated, I recently discovered that someone I'm in daily contact with had a child through surrogacy after having life-threatening medical issues that prevented her from having another child) it disturbs me that surrogacy is being presented as being such a terrible choice. It almost looks like they wanted to use prostitution, but just took a step back & presented surrogacy in the same light.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Desperation...

Here's a story I received recently from a woman named Jolly, in Uganda. I wonder if anyone can offer her ideas on where to seek help.


I am not sure whether you only receive success stories. I am not yet successful but I would like to share my burden of childlessness. I have been married for ten years. We wanted to have children as soon as possible, so we did not try any family planning method. I became pregnant in the second month after wedding. I immediately developed problems and the doctors found out that I had fibroids. At 5 months I lost the baby. I was then put on many treatments but finally I was operated on to remove the fibroids. I then had 2 more miscarriages. After which I could not conceive anymore.

Scan results revealed that adhesions blocked the tubes. I went for another operation on the tubes still I could not get pregnant. I have since tried IVF twice and failed. I have spent all my savings on trying to have children in vain. I was thinking of trying having a surrogate mother. In Uganda it is socially not acceptable but I would like to go against the odds. The major problem now is money. I have a four year loan that i am paying off because of the last procedures. I do not know what else to do. Could there be a support centre somewhere that can help frustrated parents like us? We would be most grateful.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Getting here...

Just like most people, I watch my site stats (I use statcounter) and there are a few trends that I've noticed:

That Rotten Two Week Wait is the most popular post (by far)
IVM - In Vitro Maturation is drawing a great deal of interest - especially when covered by the media.

The third most popular topic is, surprisingly about donating sperm within the family or to friends. Queries (all from the last 2 or 3 days) include:
  • best friend wife donate sperm
  • brother bil sperm donor
  • legalities of donating sperm to our friend
  • lesbian couple brother's sperm
  • asking a friend to donate sperm
  • brother in law wants my husband's sperm

The post itself has a nice discussion going on in the comments. It's obviously a very complicated subject and its good that people who are considering it are reading up on it first.

Another post that's a little farther down is "Low, non-doubling betas suck". Now, this is especially sad for me, because I was there and it was so bad that I hate for anyone else to have to go through it. That said, I have heard of success stories with both low and with non-doubling betas (though none that I remember that had both).

If you got here through a search, let me know what information you were looking for & I'm pretty sure I can help you find it.

On another note entirely, Pamela Tsigdinos, author of Silent Sorority, posted her story on Fertility Stories. Go over and read it and consider buying her book too. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but I have read many other things she's written and her writing is fantastic.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pearl earrings - win 'em fast...

Go visit http://blogherathome.com/ and check out the great swag...

I'm giving away 10 sets of 5 pairs of genuine freshwater pearl earrings.

Find out how to win them here: http://blogherathome.com/index.php/2009/07/04/infertility-and-earrings/

Good luck!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Confetti Love - By Miriam Zoll

Miriam Zoll wanted to share this short story - Confetti Love - with the readers of FertilityStories. Enjoy!

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Confetti Love
by Miriam Zoll

At the red light I jumped out of the car into the cold December night. We had been fighting these last few weeks. Quibbling was really the right word. Putting our fingers on the small pulses of our life together and offering polite critiques like rabid political pundits during the presidential season.

This evening Michael was pointing out the negative ways I continued to frame the disappointments of my life. He wanted desperately to have a glass half full but I was still half empty.

“I will not paint a smile on my face where one does not exist,” I told him angrily as I slammed the car door.

It was just turning cold enough to see your own breath and he watched as small puffs of white air trailed behind me like the trail of breadcrumbs Hansel left for the woodcutter. But he decided not to follow me. I turned right at the intersection and he turned left.

I watched him drive away then stood still for a moment in my thin leather jacket looking up at the tops of tall sugar maples backlit by the streetlights.

“What am I doing here?” I wondered. We had been so warm and affectionate that morning and now I was standing alone in the cold in the middle of an unknown town. It was truly like a Star Trek episode where Spock and Bones and the Captain are beamed down to some distant planet that is completely alien to them. All of my physical readings looked normal: I could breathe the air, stand on solid ground, place one foot in front of the other and walk all the way to Timbuktu if I wanted to. But inside my emotional compass had lost all of its bearings. I was no longer capable of steering my life or his on an even keel. Now here I was unsure of whether our marriage would make it through to the morning. Over the last few years our love had been shredded like a letter. What we were now experiencing was the confetti of our love; the little bits and pieces that comprise the whole, the little bits that are so disjointed you can’t really tell where we fit together anymore. In the middle of that intersection I realized I could head north, south, east or west. One path could lead to motherhood. One path could lead to divorce. One path could lead to a life of asceticism, like the gaunt and bony holy homeless of India. Which path would I take?
---

Read the rest of the story here.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Twittering infertility

Not only have I recently created a twitter account for Fertility Stories (come follow me here: http://twitter.com/fertilitystorie) but I realize there are quite a few infertility tweets going around.

If you tweet about infertility, leave a comment so that I can both follow you and create a directory of infertility (or fertility) twitterers.

My tweets are about site and story updates, interesting articles and news.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Book Excerpt - Riding the Infertility Roller Coaster

Iris Waichler, who wrote Riding the Infertility Roller Coaster was willing for me to share an excerpt with you. It seems (from what I've read on her site and in reviews) that she's chosen to approach the big picture a little more practically than some others - talking about, for example, how to find a doctor or lawyer and the possibility of deciding to stop pursuing treatment and to remain childless.

Here's the last chapter of the book. Enjoy!
---

SOME FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE RIDE

This summer I took my daughter to an amusement park. We went with a friend who also has a daughter as a result of infertility treatment. We ended up taking a ride on one of those chute roller coasters that ends up splashing in water. Kids my daughter’s age and size were allowed to ride it. I hate roller coasters and haven’t ridden one in over twenty years. We slowly inched our way up and I thought this isn’t so bad. Suddenly we were at the top of a forty foot drop. Our car began falling down the tracks. My heart raced, my anxiety level shot up, and my head throbbed. I had my daughter in a death grip. We made it to the bottom of the ride and hit with a big splash, before gently floating into the stopping point.

My friend and I staggered out of the chute car. We were shaken. Our girls jumped up and screamed, “Let’s do it again and again.” I thought: let’s try another ride (not a roller coaster). There was a giant pirate ship that moved back and forth like a pendulum. We climbed on that, and as it began to rock back and forth, I lost my stomach on the second swing. I closed my eyes praying it would end soon, and hoping that keeping my eyes shut would ease my suffering. It didn’t! My friend and I got off that ride and I looked at her and said, “The things we do for our kids. I’m sure that’s not the last time we’ll do something for them we would never do otherwise.” She nodded and smiled knowingly. It was also somehow comforting to have my friend there with me going through it. She totally understood what I was thinking and feeling without me saying much of anything.

I thought about that day as I began to write this last chapter. There is the obvious parallel of the roller coaster, which I use as a metaphor throughout this book. I thought those rides that day really did mirror infertility treatment for me and many others. I would do something that terrified me, that wreaked havoc on my body and my mind for my child. I would take what I perceived as a personal risk for her. When I knew I couldn’t handle the roller coaster anymore I chose another ride, hoping that different ride would work, and it would please her and end successfully for both of us.

Those of you reading this book will be in many stages along your infertility journey. There will be days when things will go well, when test results are promising, or when you actually learn that you are pregnant. The day may finally come when it is time to leave and go bring home your newly adopted child and start your family. You may get word from your clinic that they have found a donor match for you or that a surrogate has been identified who will help make your dream of becoming a parent come true.

There will also be days where your test results will show that you are not pregnant. And days when you learn the medication you have been taking is not working, and you will have to try something new. Perhaps, you will continue to be unsuccessful at getting pregnant, and your physician won’t be able to identify the reason for your infertility. Maybe you will get to the point where you feel that if you have to undergo one more needle prick you will scream. You may ask yourself what is wrong with you or your partner—or what “bad thing” you did—that you are unable to create a child, no matter how many treatment options you use.

There may also come a day when you and your partner decide to stop infertility treatment and begin your post-treatment life, choosing to live childfree. It may be hard to imagine this day coming, depending on who you are, and where you are in your infertility journey. Not everyone succeeds, but life can have many fruitful outcomes.

All of these scenarios are emotionally charged. Whatever happens to you and your partner as you continue along the path of your infertility treatment, you can be certain you will be forever changed by your infertility experiences. Your relationships with your partner, your family, and your friends will also be impacted by your infertility experience. Your infertility will challenge and perhaps change these boundaries. You will be forced to make difficult decisions along that way that will test you in new ways. Your infertility journey may cause you to question your own instinct and your judgment. It will force you and your partner to look deeply inside yourselves to understand and define your values, religious beliefs, and life choices. By definition, the need to undergo infertility treatment creates a life crisis.

My hope for you is that you also recognize that you do not need to be a passive passenger on this difficult infertility journey. After reading this book, I hope you can and will be able to assume an active role. If you have a doctor that does not seem to be meeting your needs, you can find another one. You can hire an attorney to offer you information and provide you with the legal protection you need as you negotiate surrogate, adoption, or donor arrangements. Remember, you do not need to go through infertility treatment alone. If you are having difficulty coping with the challenges that arise, you can seek counseling on an individual or support group level. There are lots of places to go to get the specific information that you need to make informed decisions along the way. Friends and family can be educated by you and your partner, and if you enable them, they can help you meet your needs as you proceed through your infertility journey.

The surprising part about the challenges of infertility is that facing them can become an empowering experience for you. You will need to arm yourself with the proper tools, knowledge, and support systems. Don’t be afraid to rely on existing support systems or, if necessary, you can help build new support systems to aid you and others to get to where you are going. Allow yourself the flexibility you need to alter your course along the way, as your circumstances change. Your infertility journey may help you achieve a new and greater level of intimacy with your partner, your family, and certain friends. Your ability to overcome the crisis that may occur can strengthen you. You may make new and lifelong friends along the way. You can actively determine if and when your journey comes to an end. Give yourself permission to look at and consider all of the options that are available to you. Take comfort in knowing that the number of treatment options available to you is growing. The technology, science, and research are ongoing, and ever changing. As doctors gain a greater understanding of the realm of infertility, the success rates for infertility treatment are improving. There is no reason to think that this trend won’t continue.

There is no doubt that, wherever and whenever you emerge from your infertility journey, you will be forever changed. There is no way to know the outcome or what it will make of you. You will certainly be changed in ways that you had not considered when you began. The person you become as a result of this experience will be better equipped to deal with other life challenges that will undoubtedly arise in the future. The resiliency of the human spirit, and the potential capacity that we all have to cope with uncertainty and crisis, is something that has never ceased to amaze me in my many years of work as a social worker.

My hope and wish for you is that, wherever your own personal infertility journey ultimately takes you, it is a place you can accept and look forward from. Whatever our outcomes, we all need to find a future direction where we want and choose to go. My wish is that, wherever this leads for you, it ultimately offers you some sense of peace, belonging and fulfillment.

---
Find out more about Iris Waichler's book at her site - Riding the Infertility Roller Coaster

Rainbows for Kate




...for more info.




Post stolen from Bea. (I hope you don't mind.)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Making pita

Ever since we took Abigail to Kibbutz Gezer, where they had an activity that included making pita, I’ve been thinking that I’d like to make pita at home. I’ve done it once in the past and it came out great, but then I lost the recipe and couldn’t find another one that looked worth trying.

 Abigail rolling out the pita Abigail handing the pita to the taboon guy Pita Ruining the pita with chocolate spread. Yuck.

So today, when Ohad said that he preferred I use the outdoor barbeque to make chicken, I figured I’d finally use the cheapo wok we bought and make more pita. (You flip the wok upside down on the barbeque. Works like a charm.) Instead, I ended up finding a recipe that actually recommended you make the pita in the oven and I didn’t feel like standing in front of the barbeque anyway, so I made them in the oven.

IMG_2841

The recipe makes 8. We were able to take 2 to freeze – the others all got eaten straight out of the oven.

The kids kept asking me how you make the pockets. You don’t. They just magically appear :-)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I did hate those IUIs

Forbes published a story a few days ago about a study that tested results of couples who went through either three or six IUI cycles before moving on to IVF. I looked for the original article, which they said was published by Fertility and Sterility, but I wasn't able to find it in their list of articles.

According to the Forbes article, the couples were divided into two groups of 256 (3-cycle program) and 247 (6-cycle program). Couples from both groups who had not yet achieved pregnancy went on to up to six cycles of IVF.

The results were surprising - the average time to pregnancy in the 3-cycle group was eight months whereas it was eleven months in the 6-cycle group. In addition, the couples in the 3-cycle group saved on average over $2600. They explained part of this savings by the fact that more women from the 3-cycle group had singleton births (and births of multiples are more expensive). Overall, 67% of the couples in the 3-cycle group and 61% of the couples in the 6-cycle group ended the study with a baby.

I would be interested to hear why the researchers think that the success rate in the 3-cycle group was higher (if it is statistically significant) - does it have to do with being run down? Do the IUI cycles have a long-term negative effect on the uterine lining?

Monday, June 22, 2009

How much of us is our genes?

In 7th grade in Israel, the kids spend the entire year researching their families. They interview them one-by-one, create family trees, and discuss traditions and recipes handed down from generation to generation. The grand finale is an evening in which everyone prepares a family recipe and brings it to the school and then listen to a whole lot of speeches about what our roots mean to us.

Some of the speeches annoyed me. I know that there's a girl in the 7th grade who was adopted shortly after birth and there could be others, so statements like, "If we don't know our past we will never know our future" just sounded wrong to me. Do adoptees feel that the parents who raised them had no impact on their lives? And how about kids born from sperm or egg donation? How do they feel when they hear things like this? And then we can go to an even simpler example - what about a child who grew up in a single parent home because one parent just walked out one day? (I can think of several readers of this blog who were in that situation.) Does the fact that a parent was far from perfect mean that they don't have a chance to be amazing people?

I realize that schools can't ignore the fact that most children have two pretty-much-OK biological parents, both of whom they have contact with on a regular basis, but is there some way to make everyone feel like they're OK even if they don't know exactly what their genetic heritage is? Thoughts?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Something to do during the 2ww...

Comments are constantly coming in to an old post about the two week wait, reminding me just how awful it really is and how welcome distractions are. Here are two I recommend...

I love gadgets... and even more than I like buying them, I like window shopping, which, these days, means browsing the web.

Ever since my brother introduced me to Deal Extreme, I go there every few days to see what's new (they actually have an RSS feed specifically for this purpose). Today I saw this Sound and Music Activated Spectrum VU Meter EL Visualizer T-shirt:

It's a shirt that has an "EL panel with a Spectrum VU Meter" - meaning the LEDs in the middle of the shirt respond to sound like a graphic equalizer. I read reviews on another site and it seems like people really like it. A really nice thing about DX is that they offer free shipping anywhere in the world. Yup. Free worldwide shipping! I've ordered from them twice now and aside from one order being split in two (one sent immediately, the other a few weeks later), I've been really happy with them. Any item that you buy more than 3 of, check for the bulk discount (it's significant).

Another site with free international shipping (or what they call "free delivery worldwide") that I've heard is really worthwhile (especially if you're out of the US) is Book Depository. They have a feature on their homepage that lets you "watch people shop" - as people buy books, the name of the book and the country are displayed on the map. Cute gimmick :-) I love watching this.

How do you/did you distract yourself during the two week wait? What are your favorite shopping sites?



Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Testing fertility in the comfort of your home

About three years ago, a British company, Fertell released a home fertility test kit for couples - it includes tests for both the man and the woman ($89.99). The men's test was the first home test that shows whether the sperm motility is within the "normally expected levels needed to reach and fertilise the egg". Until then, the most popular home sperm test you could buy was the FertilMarq Male Fertility Sperm Test (also known as PreConceive) ($36.95 & free shipping), but what FertilMarq can tell you is just whether the sperm concentration is above or below 20 million sperm cells per ml. It doesn't tell you anything about the motility. Another test on the market is Micra Sperm Test - At Home Test for Sperm Count and Motility ($79.95) which got mixed reviews on Amazon.

The women's test is an FSH test, which is a good indication of ovarian reserve (i.e., whether the eggs produced are likely to be of good, fertile quality or not). This type of test isn't new - Estroven Menopause Monitor Kit - 2 tests ($18.10 + shipping, currently out of stock) and obviously it's important to pay attention to the sensitivity of the test. ETA - see comment below

I find Fertell's test for men fascinating. I wonder if it will bring around the revolution that they expect - more men will test at home to know if there's a problem. Is the reason that men aren't going to the lab because they're embarassed to carry the sample in (from my experience they usually just palm this off to the woman anyway) or because they're afraid of the results? Maybe it's a combination of the two and the Fertell sperm test will make it just a little bit easier for reluctant men to test themselves.

I do wonder what you do with the results? I guess you go to your fertility specialist (assuming the results are bad) and say, "My Fertell came out lousy." or something like that and then he sends you for a lab test. If the Fertell test comes out good & you end up pursuing fertility treatments anyway, you'll end up having to give a sample somewhere down the line.

I'm glad to see that there's continued work to make the life of those struggling with the first steps of trying to conceive easier. I hope that it will save a lot of couples a lot of time and heartache. They say it can save you up to a year. That's exactly right. If the test is poor, you can go ahead and make an appointment without ever trying to conceive. That does sound cool, at least in retrospect.

Too bad it's such an intimate item, otherwise it might quickly become a popular wedding present.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Endometrial Biopsy & Implantation

A while ago, I read a fascinating article about endometrial
biopsy as a method for improving embryo implantation
with IVF.

While researching connexin43 protein in women going through fertility treatments, Prof. Nava Dekel of the Weizmann Institute, an expert on women's fertility, discovered that after having had an endometrial biopsy (using an instrument called a pipelle), a remarkable number of women (11 out of 12) had become pregnant and given birth to healthy babies! The article goes on to detail several personal experiences (with lots of happy endings :-))

Rehovot's Kaplan hospital has been offering the treatment since 2002 . In their experience of about 1300 cycles, it significantly increased IVF pregnancy rates - 48% pregnancies in the group treated with pipelle & IVF vs. 31% pregnancies in the group who did just IVF.

A clinical trial being perfomed by Dr. Togas Tulandi at the McGill University Health Center in Canada is currently testing this and according to the dates listed, it should be nearing completion. The clinical trial took women without tubal disease, uterine pathology, severe male factor infertility or positive cervical cultures, but did include couples with mild male factor infertility or only a single fallopian tube. In this study, they are comparing the results of IUI with and without endometrial sampling. I'm curious to hear the results.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My twins turned 13!

And 13 means that Matan became a Bar Mitzvah today. We still haven't decided when we'll celebrate his Bar Mitzvah (long story, not for a blog) but his father took him to the Kotel today, where Matan read from the Torah (thanks to my father, who taught him) and then they went on a tour and out for breakfast (brunch?).

Apparently we were sort of, kind of invited, but for many reasons decided not to go. My ex actually called my parents to invite them and they did go - and took pictures.

My 3 older kids (left to right - Matan, Lilach, Hadas)


Matan putting on tefillin.

Matan carrying the Sefer Torah, with my dad behind him.


Matan reading from the Torah.


Congratulations, Matan!!!





Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ultra-orthodox

We live 7 minutes (by car) from Kiryat Sefer, an ultra-orthodox Jewish city. Ohad says its like going overseas and I kind of feel the same way. Before I go, I always make sure to put on a long skirt and a fairly modest top (though not down to my elbows). Things there are like here - it's the same language and mostly the same products, but it's really different too. The shops there sell things that are a lot more practical - and in bulk. You can get 5 white (identical) button-down shirts for about $25, which is great if that's all you wear - and that IS what most of the older boys and men there wear. All the time. And robes (or dressing gowns) whatever you want to call them. They're these hideous things I'd never be seen in (even in the mirror) - black velvety material, with long zippers in the front and all sorts of patterns all over them. The women wear them around the house and they're so modest (yeah, cover you from neck to toe) that they can open the door in them (as long as their heads are covered too). I guess its easier than getting dressed? But the culture there is different too. Outside one of the stores I like (my mom calls it the Israeli version of Kmart) people leave their strollers strewn all over the place (no strollers allowed in). In the mornings, people leave their babies in the strollers at the entrance and the guard at the door asks the main desk to announce on the loudspeaker if one of them is crying. I could never do that...

Generally families there are large. I mean, 4 or 5 kids is ok if you're just starting out - but if you quit there, people might wonder what went wrong. And actually, my only real conversations with ultra-orthodox people in the past few years have been mostly men, who call me and ask for advice. They're usually couples who have been married for 2 or 3 years and are either afraid to admit there may be a real problem or are embarrassed to go see a doctor (which is what I encourage them to do). The pressure, in their community, to have a baby right away is immense. My sister said that after a certain period of time, people stop asking when they're going to have a baby - if a year's gone by and she's not showing, obviously something is wrong... I wonder if they're open enough to talk about it among themselves and to get support. I know that a lot end up getting treatment (I met them in the waiting rooms when I was getting treatment).

I think of their culture as fairly primitive, which is why when my mom sent me this article about an ultra-orthodox rabbi allowing a woman (a widow) to become a surrogate mother, it knocked me out. All I could think was, WOW.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Male Infertility - Gat Goren

As I scanned this morning's paper, I came across a mention of the Gat Goren method for treating varicocele - it was listed as one of Israel's recent important achievements.

Among the differences between the Gat Goren method and traditional treatment of varicocele are the short recovery time and the less painful medical procedure. This article writes:

DURING THE procedure, which is performed under local anesthesia, Goren inserts a catheter through a vein in the upper thigh. The catheter is used to inject a fluid that selectively closes off all the malfunctioning veins, thereby enabling the testicular tissues to recover and begin to produce normal sperm in normal amounts. It takes one to two hours (plus half an hour of rest before going home), and causes virtually no discomfort. Within 48 hours, the patient resumes his normal routine.

"In the conventional procedure, in which men undergo general anesthesia in an operating room, a urological surgeon performs a left high ligation and blockage of the central vein. It takes 20 minutes, but urologists didn't do the right side, or weren't aware of the whole network of bypasses in the system, so in a significant number of cases, it didn't solve the problem," Gat says. But the Gat-Goren catheterization method locates and treats defective blood vessels on both sides and improves oxygen supply necessary for the production of sperm cells.

Apparently, men are coming to Israel from all over the world to have this procedure performed.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Book Excerpt - Delivering Hope

Pamela MacPhee, who wrote the new book Delivering Hope was willing for me to share an excerpt with you. All infertility stories are special to me, but this one is one of those that is really amazing.

Enjoy!
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Delivering Hope—The Extraordinary Journey of a Surrogate Mom

Selfishly there is nothing we would like more than to have you as our surrogate,” Henry and Lauren opened in their letter to me detailing the process.

And while I carefully read through their research on the medical, legal, psychological, and financial hurdles of surrogacy over the next few pages, I had trouble focusing on anything beyond those first few heartfelt words of approval. There in black and white I finally found confirmation that my offer had been received enthusiastically, and that they would welcome the opportunity to take the journey of surrogacy with me! Their endorsement replaced my uncertainty and insecurity with a rush of excitement and relief. The words of my offer no longer floated out in space, but had indeed found somewhere safe to land and stick. They wanted to choose me, to pick me to play in the game.

We are grateful and touched………that you would even consider assisting us in starting a family,” they wrote, closing their letter with a warm thank you.

Indeed, they had found me worthy after all, and the thrill of acceptance buoyed me until I felt like a helium balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, with the strings of reality barely keeping my feet on the ground. While I knew intellectually that there remained quite a bit more researching and analyzing to conduct before making a final decision, emotionally I found it difficult to refrain from taking their hands gently in mine and saying, “Yes! Let’s do it; onward and upward!”

As I read through the articles about other surrogates, analyzed the statistics regarding surrogacy success rates, and scrutinized the fertility clinic information detailing the hurdles I would need to leap and the sacrifices I would need to make, I found myself thinking more about Henry and Lauren than myself. This was not really about me.

Yes, there would be sacrifices on my part for more than a year at least, but, if given my family genetics and barring any unforeseen disaster I realistically could look forward to 90-plus years to live, what would one single year mean really in the grand scheme of things. And, quite honestly, if I were to have my life cut short by some freakish disaster, would I regret the “loss” of that time?

Time for a reality check: Imagining my spirit hovering above my ashes scattered to the winds on some coastal hilltop, I was certain my regrets would be limited to any time I had wasted needlessly worrying, hurrying, and scrubbing clean the darn toilet bowl. For me and my family surrogacy would require some temporary changes, for Henry and Lauren it offered the possibility of the most dramatic change in their lives. And for their baby out there waiting to be born it represented the chance of a lifetime. Literally.

By April we had all engaged in our own share of soul searching and informational discovery regarding moving forward together with surrogacy, and Lauren and Henry had been able to pause for a couple of months to catch their breath after several intense months of anguish and upheaval from Lauren’s battle with cancer.

On Easter weekend they drove down from Los Angeles to join us for a day of egg coloring and repeated egg hunting in the back yard with Kellie (6), Duncan (5) and Lise (2 ½). My children’s enthusiasm for finding bright hidden treats among the branches of apricot trees and the coils of the garden hose proved endless, and was only outweighed by my cousin’s enthusiasm in searching for ever more creative hiding places to test their hunting skills. The kids delighted in the attention from Henry and Lauren that afternoon, and their mounds of brilliant smiles and giggles matched the pile of bright eggs we had colored that morning. While we shared that joyful day, I sensed my cousin’s unspoken vision of a future full of Easter egg hunts and family celebrations in his backyard with his own little ones.

After the kids had been tucked into bed that evening, Robert and I sat down with Henry and Lauren to candidly discuss our thoughts and feelings about embarking together on a voyage of surrogacy. Nervous laughter punctuated our cautious excitement as we poked and prodded each other gently like thorough physicians, probing the health and viability of such an arrangement.

“Do you think this is something you really want to do?” they asked anxiously, seemingly sensitive about overstepping boundaries and asking a cousin to sacrifice too much.

“Yes! I really want to do this for you.” I responded fervently.


“Are you both comfortable with the idea of me carrying your baby?” I asked tentatively.

“Yes, absolutely!” they both agreed wholeheartedly, more at ease embarking on a surrogacy journey with family, where there would perhaps be fewer variables beyond their knowledge or control.

I noticed, though, that Henry and Lauren seemed a little less excited and a little more cautious than Robert and me about the idea of surrogacy. But, I thought, understandably so, since the stakes would be unimaginably high for them. Truthfully, I wanted them to be on-the-edge-of-their-seats excited to validate and justify my generous offer, but at the same time I understood that they might feel the need to guard their feelings in order to protect themselves from the vulnerabilities of their position. Realistically, though surrogacy sounded great in concept, it remained disconcertingly possible that at the end of our proposed venture they would come away without holding a child in their arms, and with nothing to show for all our hopes and efforts.
The odds were not in their favor. Henry and Lauren had to commit to surrogacy knowing that there would be no guarantee of success, and it would take time and courage to believe in the possibility of it all. The time sitting together on the couch and facing each other one on one with our hopes and dreams, though, had encouraged all of us to take that leap of faith.

“Let’s do it,” we agreed.

We chose hope.

There are inevitable risks that accompany any dream, but there is so much sweet possibility, and so we opened our hearts and chose a path that could change all of us.

We chose to dream.

We chose surrogacy.

Reflecting on the reality that the four of us would be joining together to bring a child into the world, we hugged excitedly, marveling at our decision, and for a moment anything seemed possible.

“Are we really going to do this?” Lauren asked hopefully, hardly daring to believe.

It was an intimate moment, not unlike that impulsive flash as a couple when you look into each other’s eyes and throw caution to the wind, allowing your love for each other take you where it may, setting events into motion which might make you parents nine months down the road. We all remained fully clothed sitting on that couch, of course, but our thoughts and hopes and desires laid naked before us, as we chose to take those first steps that would give Henry and Lauren the chance at becoming parents. In that instant we all recognized a flash of the kind of faith, trust and love that would be required to take this intimate journey together.

---
Find out more about Pamela MacPhee's book, Delivering Hope, at http://www.deliveringhopebook.com/.

*posted here with permission from the author.

Friday, April 24, 2009

So far behind... ramblings about being a mom of 6

This past year or so has been really challenging... I have tried to move this blog away from being very personal, since as a mom to 6 kids, I can only imagine how hard it is for a woman who's trying to conceive to feel as if she has anything in common with me.

Sure, I've been there. 3 years of useless waiting, trying and testing; 6 IVFs, including a frozen cycle. Miscarriages with ongoing pregnancy (twice). Late miscarriage (once). But it's the end result that counts and I ended up with 3 healthy IVF kids - much more than most women starting out on their infertility journey even let themselves dream of...

So I haven't blogged (or not much, at least) about all the sleepless nights (last night we were up at least 5x between 12:30 and 6) and about the difficulty of being a work-from-home-mom with a baby, doing freelance work on tight schedules. I haven't mentioned how much I detest tripping on toys and how sometimes I wonder why I got myself into all of this when what I really love is peace and quiet. And time to do things that I want to do.

I'm guessing it's a conflict that many (most?) mothers have. I love my kids. I enjoy certain things - watching them learn new things, reading them stories, talking to them, taking them places (when they can behave nicely), hugging and playing with them... but then there are the things I hate. I hate the mess. I hate the screaming and whining. I hate when kids hit or bite me. I hate when the kids fight. I hate waking up in the middle of the night for kids who are already old enough to sleep through the night. I hate the evening rush of feeding the kids, bathing them, brushing their teeth and trying to get them to stay in their beds. Sometimes I'd just like to have a quiet evening without anyone screaming, crying, whining, biting or fighting. Without having to sweep the floor to get up all the little pieces of peas, tomatoes and rice that are stuck to it. I'd like to sleep in and not feel guilty for letting Ohad wake up for the kids yet again. He'd like to sleep in too.

I try to remind myself to enjoy this time that they're small. And I do, but it's them I enjoy, not this time in my life. There are so many things I feel like I want to do, but can't... and it's frustrating. I can't help but look forward to a time when I'll be able to do more things that will give me a sense of accomplishment.

Ohad and I keep reassuring ourselves, "OK, a year from now some things will be easier." Yirmi will be able to go up the stairs reliably. He won't be putting things in his mouth anymore. He'll start walking (meaning I won't have to walk around carrying him so much). Maybe we'll even be able to leave the little kids with a babysitter - when they're awake - and actually spend some time together before 11pm.

And then I was reading blogs written by people who have real issues... Sick children who require constant care. Babies that don't always survive... and it seems so insignificant to have to listen to 3 hours of screaming in the afternoon. I can even sit there and think that it's far from the worst thing that could happen, but it doesn't make me enjoy it.

Having done this once before (been a mom to 3 little kids), I know it gets better and it gets easier. I enjoy seeing how nicely the older ones (15-1/2 & twins almost 13) are growing and how they are becoming increasingly independent. I love that they can actually help (not that they like to, but they do, on occasion). The little kids(4, 3 & 1) still need one of us to be with them every waking moment. Getting a break from that once in a while, at a time during which I don't need to work, would be a good thing.

It's not 11am yet and I'm falling asleep on the keyboard. Yirmi's sleeping and Nomi's sick (and sleeping) on the couch.

I guess it's time for some coffee and then back to work.

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p.s. I really do love my kids and I feel incredibly fortunate to have them, I just think that the amount of time and effort required for being a father or mother is often misrepresented, even by most parents.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tidbits...

My mom sent me a link to an article about a child born as a result of sperm frozen 22(!) years ago. After discovering he had cancer 22 years ago, doctors recommended that Chris Biblis (then just 16) freeze sperm so that he could have a chance to father a child (or children) in the future. Amazing!

As promised - the top 10 personal care products bought via FertilityStories.com*

PreConceive: A Male Fertility Sperm Test
Early-Detection Pregnancy Tests
FertilAid for Men: Male Fertility Supplement
PreConceive: A Male Fertility Sperm Test
2 Boxes Pre-seed Lubricant & 5 Pregnancy Tests
Ovulation Test Strips (20 and 50)
Fertell-At Home Couples Fertility Screening Kit
Fertile Focus Ovulation Microscope with Free Shipping
Micra Sperm Test - At Home Test for Sperm Count and Motility
Pre-Seed Fertility-Friendly Intimate Moisturizer, 0.14-Ounce Pre-filled Applicators in 6-Count Boxes (Pack of 2)

*Purchases through Amazon help support this site. See the FertilityStories store that includes only products purchased through this site.

What products would you recommend?

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Useful books

Curiosity finally got to me, so I downloaded and checked what books are the ones most often bought by visitors* to FertilityStories. Here are the top 10 (total, 166 copies).

Helping the Stork : The Choices and Challenges of Donor Insemination

The Couple's Guide to In Vitro Fertilization: Everything You Need to Know to Maximize Your Chances of Success

The Infertility Cure : The Ancient Chinese Wellness Program for Getting Pregnant and Having Healthy Babies

Taking Charge of Your Fertility, 10th Anniversary Edition: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health

The Fastest Way To Get Pregnant Naturally

Mommies, Daddies, Donors, Surrogates : Answering Tough Questions and Building Strong Families

Single Mothers by Choice : A Guidebook for Single Women Who Are Considering or Have Chosen Motherhood

Overcoming Male Infertility: Understanding Its Causes and Treatments

IVF: The Wayward Stork--What to Expect, Who to Expect It From, and Surviving It All?

The Mother of All Pregnancy Books: The Ultimate Guide to Conception, Birth, and Everything In Between (U.S. Edition)

To see the full list, check out the new store!

What book(s) did you feel were the most helpful?


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Next up - most-ordered personal care products.

*I see only the name of the book and the price paid, all other details are available only to Amazon.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Downright scary

This article by Gregory Sullivan nearly made me vomit. There are just so many things wrong with it... and I really hope he's wrong about what the law (which I was very much against before reading this) really means.

And, even if he thinks PGD could be abused (it's possible that it can be) does he really think that's reason enough to do away with it?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

High LH level

I got this letter today (edited slightly) and was wondering if anyone has had this experience or has any suggestions:

I am asking a question for my best friend as I really hope she can have a healthy baby soon.

She is 32 years old now and has been trying with her husband for more than 3 years, but has never gotten pregnant. Both she and her husband have been tested
thoroughly but no problem has been found.

They are trying to do in vitro fertilisation but she has raised LH every time even the doctor gave her the drug to lower the LH level. (She said the normal level is 3 but hers is 5.1) Her doctor couldn't tell her why her LH level wasn't effected by the drug, and of course couldn't tell her what might happen if she tries another cycle.

She is very desperate now.........could you please give me some advice?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Gemination or Fusion

When Yirmi's right front top tooth started to come in, I would look at it, wondering exactly how it was going to work itself out. I'd never heard of teeth being abnormal (except for mine that are yellow - both my baby and permanent teeth). It took a few times before I realized that something really wasn't right. It looked like either the tooth is split into a larger tooth and a smaller tooth or that two teeth were coming in fused together - either way, the larger tooth was too small to be a middle tooth and together they're too big to be a middle tooth.


I showed Ohad, who agreed that something was wrong and then, as soon as I got a chance, I called my really good friend (who happens to be my SIL too) who's a dentist. She knew right away what it was - tooth gemination or fusion. She said she'd seen quite a few cases and that the two main issues are that 1) you can't treat the teeth - if they get a cavity you can't fill it and 2) they sometimes don't fall out on their own when the permanent teeth come in & therefore have to be pulled. I read up on it and found that it's not that rare (1 in 200 in general, far less in front teeth) and that it rarely effects permanent teeth.


We realize this is not a big deal at all - more interesting than anything else, I guess.




I just wonder what we're supposed to answer when people ask how many teeth he has ;-)

*Edited Aug 12, 2009*

So many people have come into this blog looking for pictures of tooth gemination and since I have more recent ones, since the tooth finished growing in, I’m putting them up here. Surprisingly, it’s much less noticeable than I thought it would be.

gemination - front tooth split into two teeth gemination - another view

This is what Yirmi thinks about me taking so many pictures of his teeth. Such a cutie :-)Yirmi's feeling about the photoshoot...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Out of surgery

My sister called a little while ago to say that Ephraim Yehoshua is safely out of surgery :-)

I hope he has a speedy recovery! They should be coming home tomorrow.

I thank you all for your prayers :-)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Prayers please

My sister's son, Ephraim Yehoshua (ben Leah Gavriela) was born with PHPV - Persistent Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous - in his left eye. It's a very rare condition (big clinics will usually see about 2 cases a year), which is likely to leave the child with no sight at all in that eye, unless surgery is performed before 11 weeks of age.

His surgery is Tuesday morning (Israel time). Please join me in praying that all goes well!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Implantation vs. Transfer

Yes, I'm still around, still reading quite a few blogs (I even comment sometimes). Many of the last posts I've read have been about how angry women are at the fact that the media (in general) can't get the term right - specifically, they're referring to the Nadia Suleman octoplet story, which is all over the news.

I think that everything that needs to be said has been, but I'll just give my personal take on a few things:

First, any doctor who agreed to transfer as many embryos as s/he did (the current claim is 6) was extremely irresponsible - because I believe that the goal of IVF should be a singleton pregnancy (this from a mother of twins... and has also read studies on eSET and its alternatives and the results of such decisions - and I am very pro eSET for the recommended group - I'm sure I had another post, but I can't find it...)

Second, Ms. Suleman is clearly a masochist because otherwise I can't understand her agreeing to transfer so many embryos. I can understand an "addiction" to being pregnant, giving birth and having a neborn or infant, but the toddler stage is... well... very draining, if you ask me. Especially when you've got a few strong-willed toddlers with a high tolerance for screaming and fighting (not to mention any names from my personal experience). For a long time I could not imagine reaching a point when I would not want another baby. Since Yirmi was born, I feel that our family is complete. I don't think it's a doctor's decision to make, though (when a family is complete, regardless of the circumstances). [To address comments I've read like, "How could anyone treat a woman who already had 6 kids?"]

Third, parents don't always think things through, but after 6 kids, you should know the implications of having more children. Counting on others to support you (if that was her plan) is reason enough not to have another (even "just" one). Again, if that was her plan.

I can't talk about selective reduction because I would have avoided the need to consider it to begin with in her case. (Though admittedly, personally I was just lucky because in 1993, it was common to transfer 4 embryos, which I did - and ended up with one baby. In 1995, I transferred 4, but only one was considered really good enough to transfer - explain fraternal twins? By 2001, I knew enough to transfer 'only' 2.)

And now to the part you've all been waiting for. Implanting or transferring embryos. Clearly the medical term is transfer. It would be nice if the media would use the correct term, but is implanting really wrong? Implant means "to insert in living tissue (as for growth...)" or "to fix or set securely or deeply". And what happens during embryo transfer? The doctor inserts the catheter into the uterine lining and places the embryos there. IN the uterine lining. S/he doesn't just randomly shoot them into the uterus and let them land wherever they please. If that were the case, probably most of them would just immediately fall out, when actuallythe effect is more like super glue. So... in fact, the embryos are literally being implanted into the uterus. Kind of like plants that you put in the ground. Sometimes they take root and sometimes they don't. Getting upset about the terminology seems silly. As if women who've had IVF form some exclusive club... I find the awkward pronunciation of nuclear (nook-you-ler) much more annoying.

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You might also be interested in "How many embryos should I transfer?"