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Archive for June, 2011

Infertility and Legal Gay Marriage in New York

By Tracey Minella

June 27th, 2011 at 12:00 am

“Welcome to the 90’s Mr. Baaaaanks,” said the loveable, flamboyant, effeminate wedding planner, Franck, in the smash hit Father of the Bride.

This weekend, after the news that New York voted to legalize gay marriage sank in, I smiled at the thought of so many good friends and family members who could now finally sanctify their unions the way straight couples always could.

I think it’s one of those changes that we all felt was ultimately going to happen, yet was so long in coming, that when we look back on this vote in 20 years, we’ll wonder what took so long. What was the big deal? Why wasn’t it always this way?

I picture my future grandkid (if I live that long since it took me so long to have my IVF kids!) saying “Really? Gays couldn’t marry when you were young, Grandma?”  The way my daughter asked her own Grandmother last night, “Really Nana? Whites couldn’t marry blacks and Catholics didn’t marry Jews?” And if we went far enough back in time, we’d find generations asking “Really? You didn’t have the right to vote, Grammy?” (Let’s hope those grandkids will also ask us “You mean infertility treatment wasn’t covered back then!”)

Change is inevitable. We evolve. Technology progresses. Sometimes decisions need to be made based on nothing more than looking in your heart and doing what your heart says is the right thing. Too often, it doesn’t happen that way. New York looked in its heart this time. Or at least I choose to see it that way.

I am happy to have raised one of the most accepting, loving, teenage Catholic daughters you’d ever meet. And I think kids today are more tolerant overall. Labels of our generation (or our parents’)… blacks, gays, Jews and a host of other often derogatory terms for the rest of society’s melting pot members… don’t even register for my daughter, a fun-loving theater kid with several gay friends. Those realities mean no more to her than hair or eye color.

I can’t wait for the gay wedding showers and celebrations to come! And it’s a perfect time of year. And then, yes then, the babies will follow. And that’s where we come in.

At least the gay population will not now have to suffer an additional 50 years waiting for the technology to help them become parents? East Coast Fertility has been helping gay folks get pregnant for ages already. And we’re waiting for you as soon as you get back from that honeymoon!

Maybe I’ll put on my screenwriter’s cap. I think it’s time to get Martin Short on the phone. Fathers of the Brides will no doubt be coming to the big screen.

“Welcome to the 10’s, Misters Baaaaanks.”

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Do you think New York got it right? Do you …as someone who has been denied your own important dream …sympathize with the gay population? Or do you see a down side to gay marriage? How does it affect you?

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Should You Disclose an Egg or Sperm Donor’s Identity?

By David Kreiner MD, and Tracey Minella

June 24th, 2011 at 12:00 am

Does the child’s right to know outweigh the donor’s right to privacy? If so, what impact may that decision have on future donors’ decisions to donate…or not? What, if any, restrictions should be placed on revealing the donor’s identity to the child?

Dr. Kreiner of East Coast Fertility examines this controversial issue:

It has been my experience as well as that of others in the field that many individuals conceived through gamete donation are curious about their donor and the donor’s other offspring. They may fantasize about their genetic parent and siblings. They are curious if they look like them and have similar behavioral traits. They want to know why their donor donated. They almost ubiquitously are curious to meet their donor whether they may want to have ongoing contact or not. The degree of interest is variable where some may simply be satisfied with a picture and information, others may feel comfortable with maintaining anonymity whereas still others feel a strong desire to physically meet their donor. These feelings typically change over time and may become more significant during certain stages of life, such as at the prospect of an individual starting their own family.

Donor conceived individuals may be looking to fill in the blanks in their identity. Rebecca Hamilton, conceived through donation, wrote in Behind Closed Doors: Moving Beyond Secrecy and Shame, edited by Mikki Morrissette, “It’s not a ‘Dad’ I’m after. I had a wonderful Dad who raised me. I’m not looking for a replacement. Nor, incidentally, is any other donor-conceived person I have ever met….Wanting to understand one’s genetic roots is a unique longing that remains no matter how great life is going on other levels.”

Universally, it appears that those individuals who were conceived through donation do not look at the donor as a parent. The donor does not replace the role of the parent. Instead having an open relationship with a donor can provide answers to questions many donor conceived individuals have about their own identity.

So how do I answer the question, “Should I help my child find her donor?”

Professionals in the field tell us that based on research, developmental theory, and my own clinical experience, that it is best for parents to be honest with their children about their origins. In some cases I may recommend providing them with options for obtaining information about their donor. Although many sperm banks and egg donor agencies only facilitate anonymous donations. Some sperm banks offer the possibility of working with a donor who is willing to be identified to your child any time after your child turns eighteen. The sperm bank stores data and provides it upon request. Your adult child is the only one in control of this information. If she wants identity information, it is available for her. If she does not desire to know her donor’s identity, the information is never revealed.

However, it is most common at least in the Northeast that a definitive plan is not established at the outset for how a donor’s identity would be released. Most programs maintain strict anonymity. There is no guarantee that this information will be available for their child. A third party, which could be an agency, medical office, or attorney must obtain the information, and a formal contract, signed by the donor, must state when and how identity information will be released to the donor conceived individual.

Ultimately, as future parents it is vital to examine your feelings and concerns regarding disclosure of the donor’s identity. Disclosure of the donor’s identity may affect the donor conceived individual and his sense of self. Though the donor does not replace the parent there is potential for creating friction in the relationship. There is also the donor’s family to consider which will also be impacted by revealing one’s identity to the donor conceived individual. One must weigh the potential benefit of satisfying curiosities with the risk of causing harm to the relationship with the individual’s parents as well the risk of causing harm to the donor’s family.

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What do you think?


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Infertility and the Psychic

By Tracey Minella

June 23rd, 2011 at 12:00 am

Desperate times called for desperate measures. And infertile women can be desperate.

How else would you describe trekking into a creepy, pitch-black, off-the-beaten-path, woodsy area and going into a dilapidated house that looked like every good haunted house should…complete with candelabra? All for the purpose of having a psychic reading done by this recluse and her wild-eyed side-kick sister, who doubled as her creepy butler.

I got her name…first name only…from my cousin’s wife, who swore by her. In fact, she was such a believer in this woman’s psychic abilities that she pretty much ran her life by her predictions. Guess she didn’t see the divorce coming… or maybe she did.

So when you call to make the appointment, she only takes your first name (this was before caller ID) and the name of the person who gave you her number. You have to sit quietly in the darkened sunken converted garage under the watchful eye of the mean sister and await your turn. My friend went first, leaving me plenty of time to reflect on how they’d never find my body out here in the boondocks. “Stink-Eye” takes my cash and leads me in and seats me at a dining room table.

While waiting for the gypsy, I spy among the web-fest a grade school wallet-sized picture taped to a dingy china cabinet. The kid looked familiar. Then I realized why. She was the abducted girl from the newspaper who was locked in an underground dungeon…and freed with a psychic’s help.

Holy mother of pearl!

It doesn’t take a body language expert to pick up on my crossed arms. “So you’re suspicious?”

 I quickly unfold my arms and start to fidget. “No,” I lied, wondering where my friend disappeared to. Then I handed over my wedding ring and something that belonged to my departed mom.

She started to tell me all sorts of personal things she could never have known, real specific things that no one else knew. Ambitions…specific ones. Names of people. The hair was standing up on the back of my freakin neck. She saw the twins I lost. Lots of stuff about my mom. I wanted to run away, and yet I couldn’t get enough. It felt like she opened a portal.

Then, she took my hands in hers and warned me not to open my eyes. So I’m thinking of the Wizard of Oz scene where the traveling con man who becomes the Wizard later is rifling through Dorothy’s basket for clues. But she had my hands and Stink-Eye no doubt had my friend captive someplace.

 Now, I’m going to go inside your body.”

“WTF?!” my mind screams. But I’m too scared to move. Or to peek.

This woman’s voice changes as she begins to tell me specifics about my organs. It was winter so no skin or scars were showing. She told me of broken toes, gall stones, a benign pituitary tumor, and knee problems. Then she told me my left ovary was missing. How the hell could she know?!

Once she “exited”, the session was over since it’s apparently very draining for her as she takes on the pains of my ailments temporarily. She told me as I left that I’d have twins again.

We welcomed our daughter three years later. She’d had a “vanishing” twin.

You decide.

[Special greetings to those stopping by through ICLW…Please enter our contest to win a free Micro-IVF cycle. Go to the June 6th Make Us Gasp Post and enter there!]

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Have you ever visited a psychic about your infertility? Please share your story.

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Is This Stress Making Me Look Fat?

By Tracey Minella and David Kreiner MD

June 22nd, 2011 at 12:09 am

We’ve all got ‘em. Stories of when we blew up at our guys. I don’t mean just normal arguing. I’m talking about ripping him a new one. And he may not even have deserved it this time. But it was those damn hormones…

Dr. Kreiner of East Coast Fertility shares another tale:

I’m racing a 40 foot sailboat in 25 to 30 NNW winds yesterday out of Manhasset Bay. Gear was breaking, sails ripping, we broached twice….nearly did a “death roll” (when the boat gets knocked down and the tip of the mast nearly hits the water). A competitor had a man overboard; the USCG and NCPD were involved with another boat in distress. It was insane. The adrenaline is pumping, the testosterone is flowing and I walk in the door 12 hours after I left and there is Gina.

She is sitting on the couch watching reruns of 90210. I just spent 10 hours engaged in manly man activity in conditions that no one intentionally goes out in and I am hyped to share it with my wife. But nooooo she is on the edge of her seat fully engrossed in a show that went off the air 12 freaking years ago….she knows what happens. Her man just returns from the sea and she cant be bothered, I lose it….I get nuts….she yells back and then without notice gets all weepy.

Suddenly, as quickly as the tears came, they are gone and she is glaring at me with a look that bores right through me and in a voice similar to Linda Blair’s (just as her head does a 360 in The Exorcist) says, “I took 15 *&% &^%$ pills today and 12 of them went in my @#&! vagina, where they still are and I feel like a G*D damn gumball machine….let me put just one in your *@#!% penis.

Man, I spun on my heels thinking, “Why couldn’t that have been me who went overboard?”

This is one husband’s story about living with a woman on hormones. It is not always this dramatic but the stress can be very difficult for a couple and many relationships benefit from professional support when going through fertility treatments.

Imagine dealing with the stress, frustrations and cyclic disappointment couples feel when trying unsuccessfully to start a family. Add to this that your wife is being pumped up with hormones that have the potential to lower her threshold of rationality and sanity. Outbursts of anger directed at especially those closest to them are very common.

Under normal circumstances most of us can control our reactions without letting our emotions get in the way. Hormones can greatly diminish our ability to control our behavior when circumstances become tense and stressful. Hormones have even been used as a defense in murder cases.

My recommendation is to get rid of any guns in the house and not respond to apparent emotional outbursts. This should pass when the cycle is completed and the hormones have faded from the system.

If not…?

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So, what’s YOUR best “blow-up” story? Come on. Confess.

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The Injustice of Infertility

By Tracey Minella

June 21st, 2011 at 12:00 am

Imagine the best dad ever. Maybe he’s yours. Maybe you’re lucky and he’s still here to share Father’s Day with. Maybe you just have the memories.

I have the memories, having lost my dad 15 years ago.

And I have a wonderful Father-in-law who has been critically ill for 3 weeks in an ICU. Sunday was Father’s Day and yesterday was his birthday. For a good week, it didn’t look like we’d still have him. Every day is still a gift.

So, I’ve done a lot of thinking about how wrong it is that such a good man should be in this position. I’m convinced that when his time comes, the only thing that would stand between him and sainthood would be the failure to perform a miracle.

He has always taken care of others and sacrificed without complaint. He is always supportive and loving and patient and kind. He never curses and never gives advice unless asked. He is the perfect father and grandfather and friend. He was our rock when were suffering from infertility. He’s one of those optimists. And he smiles and whistles in the morning. He should live to be 120. Then live another 10 years after that because the world is simply a better place with him in it…even with the whistling.

So it’s just wrong that he… such an amazing father… should be so close to dying. Or that any other amazing father should be in a similar spot or should die leaving young children behind.

And then I think about all the hopeful fathers-to-be out there. Maybe your husband is one of them. I know mine was for many years.

Where is the justice in the world?

Why is it that these wonderful men are delayed or denied their chance to be dads when others, many being less qualified or deserving, get women pregnant easily or even unintentionally?  Why are the dads that would take nothing for granted screwed out of fatherhood? Dads who’d have teas parties and cry at their girl’s recital. Fathers who’d coach little league and suffer over homework with their sons. It doesn’t help that we just passed another Father’s Day…

I’m not naïve. I know too well that death and infertility are realities of life. But sometimes…more than others…it’s too much to bear. I’m not asking for rainbows and unicorns, but is some semblance of a normal life too much to ask?

And as if living in our situation is not hard enough to take, must we be surrounded by morons who make us feel even worse about the hand we’ve been dealt?

If you haven’t already done so, enter ECF’s free micro-IVF contest by sharing the worst infertility-related comment ever made to you by an insensitive jerk. Click here:


Think of it this way: Your baby may be a few clicks away.

Or we can just call it “justice”.

Hang in there, Dad. (And you too, dads-to-be.)

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7 Tips to Survive Father’s Day When You’re Infertile

By Tracey Minella

June 17th, 2011 at 12:14 am

We don’t always remember that wanna-be dads are hurting on Father’s Day the way we acknowledge the pain of wanna-be moms. So here’s seven suggestions to help the guys this weekend:

1.  Honor Your Father: If you are lucky enough to still have your father and are close enough geographically, be sure to visit him on Sunday. Sometimes you can get distracted by your own pain and your quest for fatherhood and take your dad being there for granted. Don’t do that. You never know if he will be here next year. And if visiting isn’t possible, be sure to call. Share a favorite memory from childhood. You’ll be glad you did.

2.  Get Proactive:  What can you do today that will help your fertility? Those tight briefs aren’t helping. Switch to boxers. Been meaning to quit smoking, stop drinking, or lose weight? Well, there’s no time like now. How about a long walk for exercise and clearing your mind? Any step you take to live healthier will make you feel better…even on Father’s Day.

3. Consider Charity:  Sometimes helping others less fortunate than we are makes us feel better about our plight and puts things in perspective. Trying to avoid the family barbeque with your 17 nieces and nephews and your 4 pregnant sisters? Why not help at a soup kitchen on Sunday? Or bring some school supplies or toys to a children’s shelter? Good karma never hurts.

4.  Pull the Plug on Procrastination:  What have you put off doing that might be delaying your fertility plan? Is there lab work or other testing you haven’t done? Have you put off the dentist or a medical check-up? Do you need to make vacation time arrangements at work so you can do IVF? And how many times have you tried to tackle the health insurance issues only to put the paperwork down again?

5. Take Care of You:  No one’s feelings are more important than yours and your partner’s. Don’t put yourself in a vulnerable position on Sunday (or any day). Avoid people you know will likely upset you, whether intentionally or unintentionally. You must protect yourself.

6.  Positive Imagery:  Take some time alone to remind yourself of your good qualities and the reasons you are going to make a great father someday. Envision it but don’t dwell to the point of sadness. Write down 3 reasons why you will be superdad someday. Trust that it will be.


7. Enter Our Free Micro-IVF Contest:  If you blew off suggestion #5 and somehow found yourself in the company of a moron who said the most shocking and insensitive thing to you (or your partner) about being infertile, turn those lemons into lemonade! Enter the comment in our June contest and you could win one of 5 great prize packages, plus each of the 5 winners becomes eligible to win the Grand Prize of a free Micro-IVF cycle valued at $3,900.00!! Just go to the June 6th blog post right here on the fertility daily or on ECF’s facebook page from June 6th . It’s so quick and easy!

Last year’s contest winner and her husband are celebrating their first Father’s Day on Sunday. Will YOU celebrate yours next year? Why not increase your chances? (You don’t have to use your real name if you prefer anonymity.)

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What’s a Fertility Doc’s Job?

By David Kreiner, Md

June 16th, 2011 at 12:32 am

Last night I tucked my grandson Jayden into bed. “Saba,” which is Hebrew for grandfather, Jayden said, “What do you do at work?” I thought back to when I first talked to his dad, my son Dan, about the birds and the bees. Well, I thought, I help those in need make babies but how do I explain this to a three year old?

I need to explain that my patients are suffering, some so severely that it affects their marriage, their jobs and often their health. I’m responsible for alleviating their suffering. I share my compassion for their troubles, hoping I may start to develop a bond with them.

I meet with each couple to try to evaluate the presence of any relationship problems. Sometimes these problems are sexual in nature, often related to difficulties with communication and, unfortunately, sometimes include violent behavior on the part of one or both spouses. Working with a program that employs a highly-trained mental health professional and a mind-body team approach helps alleviate stress, works on relationships and helps improve the health of my patients through nutrition, acupuncture and massage, as well as support groups. A healthier, less stressed patient with proper flow of Qi is more likely to conceive with my most advanced scientific infertility treatments available to man.

So I say to Jayden, “Saba is a doctor who helps people become mommies and daddies.” Jayden was not sure he was satisfied. His face frowned. He shrugged his shoulders and raised his arms, palms turned up. “How Saba?” he asked.

“With G-d’s help and the help of all those good dedicated men and women who work with me in the office,” I replied. With that, I looked at my grandson with all the joy and love a grandparent can feel for his grandchild, to which Jayden added, “Can we play another game of Wii?”

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Are You Ready for Your IVF Results Phone Call?

By Tracey Minella

June 15th, 2011 at 1:32 am

So much is riding on it. It may be the one and only chance you’re taking at ART. Or the last shot after a long journey of less aggressive treatments. Or something in between.

Whatever your situation, the stakes couldn’t be higher emotionally, physically or financially.

The drugs are costly and worrisome despite what the studies say about their safety. The juggling of job or home obligations to accommodate the demands of sonos and labwork is time-consuming and stressful. Even the guesswork on when to have sex… so its not too close to the retrieval, yet not too distant so as to render the big day’s sample “stale”…is taxing.

And as hard as it is to take it each month when you realize you didn’t get pregnant again, there is no period more heart-breaking than the one that comes after the draining experience of a failed IVF. And there’s no other experience where an average couple can blow through their life savings in a single month or put themselves so far into debt that it may take them several years to repay. All on a gamble for a prize that is ultimately out of their control to obtain.

Yet the odds of IVF success are getting higher every day. And it’s precisely that fact that brings hope to every patient every time they do IVF…even when their personal situation reduces the odds in their case. No matter what, IVF gives you more hope than any non-IVF month. And during the long two week wait for results, hope can make you read those confusing signs and symptoms as being pregnant instead of not pregnant. It can even make you believe you could still be pregnant (which you can be) if bleeding has begun. IVF hope persists until the dreaded phone call kills it…instantly.

So when it fails, it’s beyond devastating. It’s important to be prepared for your results call.

I’ve actually done IVF seven times. No cryo cycles. Two negatives. A very positive that ultimately went very negative. Two more negatives. Two positives. In the beginning, we made sure we were together staring at the phone waiting for it to ring on results day. Perhaps we became jaded, or just less flexible with time off from work, but over time we weren’t as obsessed about being together for the call. 

So, I’ve gotten negative results with Adam and negative results alone; I got our first positive result (which ended badly) with Adam. I got our last two positive results without him but in such cool ways. One result was at the end of my very first day working for Dr. Kreiner as a medical assistant and he called me in to the office to tell me in person. So amazing! And the other result, four years later, I also got on the job, but this time I was the first to see it come over the fax from the lab!

For me, being alone for the call was probably more preferable, especially after negative results calls. But I’m weird that way. I came to expect a negative result just a bit more than I did at first, and I wanted to be able to fall apart completely if it was negative, without feeling even the teeniest bit that I had to hold it together at all so as not to further upset Adam. Plus I had dreamed up cute ways to tell him the news if it was positive…you know, the way normal women get to do when their husbands least expect it. If he was with me for the call, there went my cutesy surprise. Though being together for the first positive was a truly beautiful moment.

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Are you prepared for your IVF results call? Where will you be? Will you be together? If not, how do you plan to share the news? If you’ve already done IVF, what did you do and what, if anything, would you do differently in a future cycle?

And if you want to do IVF, have you entered our contest to win a FREE Micro-IVF cycle?! It’s so easy. Just tell us the most shocking horrid thing some insensitive jerk said to you about being infertile. See the blog post from June 6th to enter.

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IVF and the Baby’s Sex: To Know or Not to Know?

By Tracey Minella

June 13th, 2011 at 12:58 am

Fertile folks feel pretty strongly one way or the other on this issue. There’s the group that wants to know the sex in advance, so they can pick out the name, paint the nursery blue or pink, and buy all the proper sex-specific gadgets and doodads. One the flip side, there’s the group that likes the surprise in the delivery room.

But what about infertiles?

Not surprisingly, my informal polling shows a split there as well. But for some different and compelling reasons.

Fertiles who want to know the sex are merely curious. Infertiles who want to know are more than curious…they are impatient to the 10th degree. Fertiles may only be waiting nine months, plus a bit of “trying to conceive” time. Infertiles may have been waiting years just to conceive…the idea of waiting another nine months to know the baby’s sex feels like an eternity to them. If they can’t have the baby today, at least they can know what it is today. That’s a step closer, right?

And fertiles have nothing on infertiles when it comes to the baby shopping itch. Once the sex is known, you’d better get out of the infertile’s way as she heads toward Babies R Us. With her dream no longer denied, smart money’s on her to outmuscle any regular fertile mom-to-be for the last functioning baby registry gun.

However, while many of the infertiles who do not want to know the baby’s sex give wanting to be surprised as their reason, there’s another equally compelling reason they don’t want to know: control.

So much of the IVF process is out of the patient’s control. If patients told their friends and families, then everyone knew when the retrieval was, how many eggs fertilized, how many were transferred, how many implanted, etc. They may even have known what day you were getting your results back. The only control patients can regain in a situation like this is to say “No, I am not going to find out what the baby’s sex is!”

There is also generally an understandably greater level of fear and superstition in the case of IVF pregnancies, especially if there have been earlier losses. So the anonymity of the baby’s sex offers a thiny-veiled emotional buffer.

Being a big control freak, I opted for the surprise in the delivery room with both of my IVF babies. Of course, it meant me constantly remembering to remind the doctors and nurses and ultrasound techs, etc not to slip when discussing the developing baby with me. That was not so easy when both pregnancies landed me in the hospital for pre-term labor.

And, even though it’s an intensely personal decision, I still can’t help but put my gentle two cents in whenever the topic comes up. That moment in the delivery room is so monumental when you are both waiting to hear what you had that it can not be described in words. It is so worth the wait…even after such a long journey.

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SO…what do you plan on doing (or what have you done)? Would you want to know or not? Why? Any regrets over your choice?

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The 7th Annual ECF Reunion Picnic Rocked!

By Tracey Minella

June 9th, 2011 at 1:08 am

You came. You ate. You showed off your babies. We melted.

No, seriously. We all really melted. Could it have been any friggin hotter?

Anyway, what struck me about the crowd of parents, grandparents, and sweaty red-faced toddlers was that everyone was beaming. Not a gripe from the group.

Even the kids were sports. Back when I used to draw the patients’ blood each morning, I always shared “the secret”…that IVF babies are perfect. I told them that fertile folks had no trouble getting pregnant, but had little monsters. And I promised that their reward for taking this rough road to parenthood would be that they’d end up with a perfectly angelic baby. And they’d come back to reunions like this one and tell me I was right. (I couldn’t lose…all parents think their monsters are angels! Bahaha!)

Glancing around today, it was like everyone felt a need to be there…to make a pilgrimage. To show gratitude. To show off. To reconnect with the people who made their biggest dreams come true. Just once a year, for two hours, to almost pay respects to the surreal experience of IVF.

To be part of the club. The special sorority. Let me be the first to say that pledging this sorority constitutes “hazing”. We’re talking extraction of blood and bodily fluids here! Not all pledges survive. Not all get in. Only the ones who are lucky and who persevere make it.

So thanks again to all those wonderful parents who braved the heat today to show off our handiwork. It’s days like today that reaffirm why everyone associated with ECF loves being part of creating babies.

And the best part is that next year, there will be even more parents and babies to celebrate. So, here’s hoping that we see YOU there next year!

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