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Celebrating National Dog Day When Infertile

By Tracey Minella

August 26th, 2015 at 8:08 am

 

Me and my furbaby, Dolphie, circa 1994


As the dog days of summer come to an end, what better time to celebrate National Dog Day?

Fertile folks love their canines, no doubt. But no one…and I mean no one…cherishes their pups quite like the infertile do.

Furbabies.

Sometimes the only thing keeping us sane on this difficult journey to parenthood is the unconditional love of our pets. Something to hold and snuggle. Something that relies on us to feed them, play with them, and keep them well.

Something that provides us with a small taste of parenthood while we wait for that human family to form.

Dogs are great listeners…especially when that negative pregnancy test comes in. And they know. They sense what you need. And they are there for you… without any questions to answer or explanations to give. You don’t have to fake it with a dog. And when the baby finally does arrive, they’re protective of it like a big brother or sister would be. They’re your baby’s first best friend.

So be sure to do something special for your dog today for all they do for you. And please share a picture of your furbaby on our social media or blog…even if it’s not a dog!

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Do you have a story about how your dog impacted your fertility journey?

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A Day of Hope 2015

By Tracey Minella

August 19th, 2015 at 5:21 pm

 

photo credit: carlymarie


Losing a baby. Unspeakable pain.

The world will never be the same after losing a baby or child, born alive or still. Or miscarried. The surviving family…parents, siblings, grandparents, and others…embark on a journey of grief over the innocent life that ended too soon. And while life does…must…somehow go on, it’s never truly the same again.

I miscarried IVF twins just before the end of the first trimester. They’d be 20 this fall. On September 5th. You never stop thinking about what they’d be doing today. Even if you’re lucky enough to have other children. And let’s not forget the very real grief over the very many embryos that never made it, either before or after transfer.

Today is a day of healing. It’s a day of hope. It’s a recognition and celebration of all those lives lost. Of lives that mattered…and still matter. Children whose names people awkwardly no longer mention.

Across the world, on a beach in Australia, a woman named CarlyMarie, mourning the loss of her son Christian who was “born sleeping” started a global movement to celebrate all these lives. It’s called a Day of Hope and Project Heal. And it is today, August 19th. I’ve mentioned this in the past. https://www.facebook.com/events/923511941049863/

Participants who’ve lost children create their own personalized “prayer flags” in honor of the babies’ memories. But despite the name, it is not religious in nature and all are welcome to join in. People create their personal flags out of fabric or paper or whatever materials they want…even a simple drawing is fine if they aren’t crafty. The main thing is to be part of this movement, not to win a prize for art. Then, they hang or display them on this date and share photos of their flags so others who are suffering can feel a collective support. This year, it’s estimated that about 17,000 flags were made in the name of healing.

If you’ve suffered a loss, I strongly recommend you check out CarlyMarie’s site or Facebook page, which is full of support by one who walks in your shoes. Not just today, but each day.

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Do you participate in the Day of Hope? Do you have any tips ways to honor the memory of your child?

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Remembering My Mentor, Dr. Howard Jones

By David Kreiner MD

August 12th, 2015 at 1:01 pm

 

 

credit: Newsday


On July 31, 2015, we lost a great man who with his wife Dr. Georgeanna was responsible for so much in our field of IVF and infertility. Personally, for those of us who trained with Dr. Howard Jones Jr., our careers and lives were permanently and monumentally enhanced. We are who we are, we do what we do… and the way we do it… in large part because of Dr. Howard.

 

Dr. Howard was not just America’s IVF pioneer but he performed the first transgender surgeries in the U.S. This was his reasoning. “There was a lot of discussion of the appropriateness of doing it — if it would really solve the problem” of a person’s feeling uncomfortable as a man or woman and wanting to change, he said. But the questions about sex-change surgery were not moral or psychological ones, he said — “not what reaction it would have with the general public but, from a medical point of view, if it would really be helpful.”

 

In 1978, upon retiring to Norfolk to pursue their love of sailing it was reported that the first IVF baby had been born.  The Joneses hadn’t yet finished unpacking when journalists came to their home to interview them about this future Nobel Prize winning event.  Almost as an afterthought…Dr. Jones was asked if IVF could be performed in Norfolk.  In Dr. Howard’s pinpoint precision fashion and with his classic radio announcer voice, he proclaimed that with sufficient funds they could create a successful IVF program in Norfolk.  I have seen a video of this moment and it conjures up images of Babe Ruth promising to hit a home run for that sick boy in the hospital… then pointing to the fence just prior to him knocking one out of the park.

 

My personal history with Dr. Howard began with when I arrived in Norfolk to start my fellowship the day the Jones Institute moved to their new quarters in the summer of 1985.  By then the Institute had established itself through clinical success and teaching as the center of the IVF universe.  I was in awe of these giants in Reproductive Medicine who warmly welcomed me into the fold and graciously extended themselves to instruct me in the Jones Reproductive Medicine ways.  Dr. Howard was the most amazing role model as he could motivate and direct like a general leading his troops to battle.  He liked to say, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link” and he did what he could to insure the integrity of each of those links.  Through his time, efforts and knowledge, Drs. Howard and Georgeanna, Dr. Rosenwaks and others at the Institute trained me and in so doing passed the baton of successful family building to open the first successful IVF program in Long Island.

 

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Long Island IVF Doctors are “Top Docs” Again!

By Tracey Minella

August 9th, 2015 at 8:53 pm

 

(L-R) Dr. Brenner, Dr. Pena, Dr. Kenigsberg, Dr. Kreiner


Long Island IVF is proud to announce that several of its doctors have been included in the Top Doctors on Long Island Guide selected from the 2015 Castle Connolly Guide by Newsday.

Three of its physicians…Daniel Kenigsberg, MD, Steven Brenner, MD, and Joseph Pena, MD… have consistently appeared on the prestigious listing as Reproductive Endocrinologists and were recognized again this year.

All three doctors are consistently humbled by this honor. Doctors do not and cannot pay to appear on this list, but rather are nominated and selected through a peer recognition process, so being named to the Top Docs list is an honor that never gets old for these physicians.

Long Island IVF is proud of all of its physicians, embryologists, nurses and staff for their commitment to its patients and is grateful for the recognition given by Castle Connolly’s Top Doctors Guide honors. But the best reward for a job well done is the satisfaction we get from building families every day and seeing the very real impact our work has on the lives and happiness of our patients.

In an effort to give back to the Long Island community, Long Island IVF sponsors annual infertility fundraisers in which it donates a free IVF cycle as a door prize. Long Island IVF also offers a variety of grants which can provide financial assistance to those seeking infertility treatments, including NYS DOH’s Infertility Demonstration Grant as well as the new Jade Foundation IVF Grant which is exclusively available at Long Island IVF. For more information on grants, patients new to our practice should contact the Long Island New Patient Counselor at (631) 752-0606 and existing patients should speak with their LIIVF Financial Counselor.

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If you could say one thing to your LIIVF doctor OR to someone who was looking for an infertility specialist, what would you say?

 

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Losing Dr. Jones: Mourning a Beloved Stranger

By Tracey Minella

August 3rd, 2015 at 6:34 pm

 

credit: anankkml/ freedigitalphotos.net


How do you mourn a man you never knew? How do you thank a doctor you’ve never met for making you a mom?

Millions of parents and their miracle children and grandchildren are struggling with those feelings after the death last week of Dr. Howard W. Jones, Jr. the pioneer (along with his late wife Dr. Georgeanna Seegar Jones) of in vitro fertilization (IVF) in America. Today’s IVF patients should be mourning him as well.

Imagine how many of us would be living our lives childless without the hope of ever conceiving or creating a biological child? People who need IVF technology include women with blocked tubes, women with poor quality or no eggs, men with male factor infertility, and some members of the LGBT community.

Maybe I felt closer to him because I’ve been lucky enough to hear Dr. Kreiner over the years tell of his days studying under both of the Dr. Joneses at the Jones Institute in Norfolk, VA. It’s mind-blowing to me to imagine my very own doctor training directly with this legendary pioneer duo and then bringing that knowledge here to Long Island.

Reading up on his life, I came across a few unbelievable tidbits about “Dr. Howard’s” incredible life in this interesting New York Times article*:

  1. He was delivered by Dr. J. King Seegar, the man who would become his father-in-law nearly 30 years later.

 

  1. He started to study genital anomalies in the 1950s and helped found the Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic in 1965, which was the first sex-change clinic in an American hospital. He operated on babies with ambiguous genitalia.

 

  1. He was involved in cancer studies while at Johns Hopkins and diagnosed cervical cancer in a black woman named Henrietta Lacks in 1951. Though she died rather quickly from that cancer, biologists continued to use Ms. Lacks’ “immortal” cancer cell line (known as HeLa cells) “which led to breakthroughs in research on the polio vaccine, chemotherapy, cloning, gene mapping and in vitro fertilization.” Some have questioned whether she gave appropriate consent for the use of her cells for research.

 

 

  1. He took up In Vitro Fertilization as a post-retirement career…something he pursued after mandatory retirement from Johns Hopkins at age 65! He was nearly 71 when the first American IVF baby, Elizabeth Carr, was born in 1981.

 

  1. He remained active into his 100s, and published a memoir, In Vitro Fertilization Comes to America: Memoir of a Medical Breakthrough, only 10 months ago.

 

Talk about leaving multiple legacies! But don’t be discouraged. There’s plenty of time for you to mark your own mark on the world. Remember, he didn’t get around to IVF until he retired!

Well, they certainly don’t make men like Dr. Jones anymore. But, thanks to him, Dr. Kreiner and other doctors all over the world continue his legacy and are, in fact, making little men (and little women) every day who could grow up to do great things.

So, on behalf of a grateful nation of your children.. and those who are yet to come… rest easy, Dr. Jones. You’ve certainly earned it.

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If you could tell or ask Dr. Jones one thing, what would it be?

 

*http://nyti.ms/1IJXNjv

 

 

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Shouldn’t Infertility Be Enough Anguish for One Lifetime?

By Tracey Minella

July 25th, 2015 at 10:30 am

photo credit: Corrie Tolliver


When I was battling infertility…for seven long years…there was an ever-present pain that hovered at a level just shy of being too great to get out of bed in the morning.

This smoldering ember that burned in my gut frequently “flared” when fanned by things like failed IVFs, miscarriage, or even bridal showers. There were many times when the pain seemed too much to bear. Times when I’d think to myself that nothing in life could be harder than infertility. Nothing could be worse than the lack of control and the worry over the possibility that (dare I speak it) maybe there would not be a baby at the end of the journey. As I lived it, that’s how I saw it. And no one would have convinced me otherwise.

I remember thinking, as many of you may, that infertility should be enough anguish for one couple to bear in one lifetime. That the resolution of infertility…whether happy or otherwise… should bring a transfer out of the darkness and into a hard-earned lifetime of light. That there should be a freedom from further grief, loss, and pain. That a bubble should forever protect the health, safety, and happiness of the people who took such extraordinary measures to have their babies. This is not to say that these babies are more valuable or more loved than those conceived naturally. It’s just that the parents have already often suffered grief and loss prior to their births. The idea that any harm should befall their children—our children– is incomprehensible.

Doesn’t that seem fair?

But wait. Life is not fair. Oh, how could I have lost sight of the one thing all us infertiles know best? If it were fair, we wouldn’t be infertile in the first place.

If it were fair, no parent would have to bury a child. No matter if that child was conceived naturally or with medical assistance.

When you’re in the business of creating life, the senseless and preventable loss of young lives hits particularly hard.

In the span of a week on Long Island, as a result of two accidents involving alleged drunk/impaired drivers and questionable driver’s judgment, a woman lost her husband and two children in a flaming wreck, and four families lost their young, vibrant, responsible daughters in a limo crash. One of those girls was my cousin.

I’ve been forced to face the fact that there actually are worse things than infertility…and that there are no bubbles to protect anyone’s children from harm. Infertility is without a doubt devastating, but thankfully it may often be overcome. But losing a beloved child can’t be overcome. It’s permanent. And from the anguished sobs of her parents, it’s clear that the depth of that unspeakable grief is bottomless.

Please don’t drink and drive (or text and drive). Slow down. Make better choices.

Every car has someone’s Baby on Board.

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What is the Best Season to be Infertile?

By Tracey Minella

July 17th, 2015 at 9:46 am

 

image courtesy of suat eman/ freedigitalphotos.net


Trick question, I know. There is no good season to be infertile. But is there one that maybe suc…stings… just a bit less? Let’s see:

Spring: Flowers are cheerful and warmer weather is welcome. Plus, you can blame any wayward tears on allergies. But that whole theme of rebirth…whether religious or horticultural…can get rough sometimes. And let’s not forget the hardest day of the year: Mother’s Day. Oh, and the onslaught of dreaded baby shower invitations! Next….

Summer: Beaches and pools and fun in the sun. A season to kick back and relax. Until flying sand from the feet of a thousand minions finds your face and reminds you that your blanket doesn’t have juice boxes, pull-ups, or sand toys. They’re out of school… and in your face… for almost 3 months. Makes you want to put a hit out on Mr. Softee. Next…

Fall: Cool nights, brisk walks, crunchy leaves, and the smell of firepits. Snuggling close as the temperature drops. A time for romance, festivals, and fairs. You survive the back-to-school sales. They’re back in school, so that’s a start…as long as you can navigate the crowded bus-stops that can start your day with a tear. But there’s one day that’s a real terror…Halloween. Not only do you miss the fun of costume shopping, parties, and parading through the neighborhood collecting candy, but you cannot hide. There are thousands of gremlins everywhere. They are coming for you. They won’t be denied. They’re at the door. Don’t even pretend to be asleep. Next…

Winter: The season of hiding. Perfect to hibernate away from people…fertile or otherwise. Big, bulky sweaters bring comfort and hide bruised veins or bloated bellies. Your blue mood doesn’t stand out so much among everyone’s complaining about the cold. But wait. Snow shovels and stimulated ovaries don’t mix. And then there is the holiday season. The Thanksgiving you may not feel thankful. The winter holidays spent filling wish lists for the children of others and dodging difficult personal questions. Facing the New Year. Again. Next…

So clearly there is no season when infertility doesn’t … sting. And the above is just my take on it all. It doesn’t even factor in things like the season your birthday falls in…reminding you in an exaggerated way of your advancing age. Or all the anniversaries of the losses you’ve suffered along the journey so far. Or the vacation you’re not taking so you can save up for treatment. The list goes on and on.

Anything to add to it?

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What are the worst things about each season that makes being infertile even more difficult at that time?

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Donor Egg Recipient Seminar at Long Island IVF

By Tracey Minella

July 10th, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Thinking you might need an egg donor in order to build your family…but have a lot of questions about the process? Then we’ve got the event for you!

On Tuesday, July 14, 2015, at 7:00 pm, Long Island IVF will host a free event that could potentially change the course of your family-building journey. Everything you could ever need to know about egg donation will be covered. It should last about 2 and a half hours.

There are many reasons women ultimately choose to use donor eggs to build their families. Women whose eggs have been compromised by advanced age, cancer treatment, poor general quality, or other factors, have many ways to build a family through the donor egg and donor embryo programs at Long Island IVF. For many of these women, a healthy egg is their only obstacle to pregnancy. Gay men wanting biological children also need donor eggs.

Admittedly, conceiving with donor eggs or embryos is rarely the first choice, but often is an acceptable alternative after weighing many personal physical, emotional, psychological, and financial considerations. Decades of happy moms agree that using donor eggs was the best decision they ever made. In fact, you can ask one yourself at the seminar as one of our successful recipient moms will be on hand to share her experience!

It’s okay if you may not be ready to act on all the information you’ll receive. You won’t be pressured in any way. We’re just here to offer information… and emotional support. So why not come out and just listen to our team discuss the many different egg and embryo donation options?  Victoria Loveland, RN & Donor Egg Nursing Coordinator, Aviva Zigelman, LCSW & Donor Egg Program Director, and Steven Brenner, MD will all be there to answer your questions, privately if you prefer.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised when we tell you about how affordable and stream-lined our programs can be, especially our embryo donation program. And how competitive the success rates can be, as well.

Long Island IVF offers several different egg donation options, including Sole Recipient Fresh Egg Donation, Shared Recipient Fresh Egg Donation, Frozen Egg Donation, and Frozen Embryo Donation cycles. Each option offers its own unique benefits, costs, and other considerations. We have young, healthy, pre-screened egg donors representing multiple ethnicities ready to help you build your family.

Take that first step, even if you’re hesitant. We look forward to seeing you and answering your questions about the exciting option of egg donation. Light refreshments will be served. Bring a friend.

Please RSVP to Debra Mathys at dmathys@longislandivf.com and say you’ll be there, but walk-ins are always welcome. There is no cost to attend.

Location: Long Island IVF 8 Corporate Center Drive, Suite 101, Melville, NY

Date: Tuesday July 14, 2015

Time: 7:00 pm

 

LONG ISLAND IVF: WINNER “BEST IN VITRO FERTILITY PRACTICE” in the Long Island Press’s “Best of Long Island 2015″ contest. We are humbled and excited by the honor! Can we help you build your family as well?

 

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Will you be there? If you’d like to attend but can’t, please call anyway so we can make other arrangements.

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The Male Biologic Drive to Parent

By David Kreiner MD

July 7th, 2015 at 3:01 pm

Photo credit: Valentina, proud wife and mom of Devin and Danny

Fatherhood comes in many different varieties that as a reproductive endocrinologist specializing in family building I see on a regular basis.  Whether the man is involved in a traditional heterosexual relationship or is attempting to build a family with his male partner or by himself, man… like woman… feels a biologic drive to parent.  As such, although adoption is a wonderful way to create a family, surrogacy and egg donation is appealing to male-only prospective parents because it affords them the opportunity to have a biological connection to their baby.

 

There are two types of surrogates: traditional and gestational.  A traditional surrogate supplies her own eggs and carries the baby to term.  Gestational carriers do not supply their own eggs and therefore a separate egg donor is utilized.  Unlike donated sperm, donated eggs require the in vitro fertilization (“IVF”) process involving hormonal stimulation of the female egg donor, monitoring during the 2 weeks of stimulation, and transvaginal egg retrieval which is performed under anesthesia.  Typically, the intended male father supplies the sperm and the fertilized eggs or embryos are placed into the uterus of the gestational surrogate.  Surrogates carry the pregnancy to term then surrender the baby and their parental rights to the father or male couple.  The process involves the use of assisted reproduction attorneys, and/or a donor/surrogacy agency. The entire process including IVF with egg donation, surrogacy, and obstetrical care has a cost that can be insurmountable for many men desiring to start a family, estimated to cost between $125-150,000.

 

There have been a few ways some men have successfully cut this expense.  First of all, the fee agencies charge to supply the donated eggs and the surrogates ranges from $10,000-$40,000 independent of the fee the reproductive attorney charges or the cost of psychological screening.  Some IVF programs will supply these services at a much lower cost.  In addition, these IVF programs have relationships with lesbian partners who may be interested in becoming surrogates after they have completed their own families.  Also, some income-based grants exist for male couples in need of surrogates.

 

Whatever your situation, Long Island IVF has the history, the means, the skills, and the desire to assist you in your family building journey.  We can assist you in finding the best agencies/donors/surrogates, reproductive attorneys and counselors to insure that you have the greatest chance of achieving your goal for the family of your dreams.

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How important is it to you to have a biological child and what is the greatest obstacle to you’re facing/faced in achieving that dream?

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Gay Rights Taking Baby Steps Towards Family Building

By David Kreiner MD

July 3rd, 2015 at 10:13 am

 

photo credit: Sarah Allison Photography


Today, same sex marriage is a constitutional right.

It was a long time coming with much frustration, discrimination and actual blood, sweat and tears but thanks to the recent Supreme Court landmark ruling, equal rights is now protected by the law of the nation.

Now that SCOTUS has declared same sex marriage legal in every state, what affect will that decision have on alternative family building for the LGBT community? And how quickly will any changes be implemented?

Currently, insurance companies require that lesbian couples go through 6-12 cycles of inseminations without offering their insurance benefit because they “have not been proven to be infertile”…hint-you need sperm to make a baby.  Allowing lesbian partners access to their insurance for fertility treatment without first spending thousands of dollars on inseminations to “prove infertility” would seem to be a right that follows from such legislation.

And don’t get me started on the inaccessibility of insurance for fertility for gay male couples. Currently, depending on where they live, they must obtain surrogates who receive about $25,000 as compensation and pay additional $35-60,000 agency and legal fees plus the cost of obstetrical care on top of IVF fees.  This brings the overall cost to an average of approximately $125,000.  Of interest, Apple, Google and some of the other big high tech companies have offered such coverage.

It seems to me that if we recognize that all citizens are equal regardless of sexual orientation that offering equal rights to family building is merely a logical extension of the Supreme Court decision.

Today, we rejoice for the liberating decision regarding gay marriage…tomorrow we work towards equal access to care for family building. In the meantime shall we say we are taking baby steps…

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What changes, if any, in LGBT family-building access/coverage, do you hope will come from the recognition of same-sex marriage? What roadblocks have you faced and how have they affected your family-building?

 

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Long Island IVF-WINNER: Best in Vitro Fertility Practice 2015

It is with humble yet excited hearts that we announce that Long Island IVF was voted the Best In Vitro Fertility Practice in the Best Of Long Island 2015 contest.

The doctors, nurses, embryologists, and the rest of the Long Island IVF staff are so proud of this honor and so thankful to every one of you who took the time to vote. From the moms juggling LIIVF babies… to the dads coaching LIIVF teens…to the parents sending LIIVF adults off to college or down the aisles… to the LIIVF patients still on their journeys to parenthood who are confident in the care they’re receiving…we thank you all.

We love what we’ve gotten to do every day more than 27 years…build families. If you are having trouble conceiving, please call us. Many of our nurses and staff were also our patients, so we really do understand what you’re going through. And we’d like to help.

 

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