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Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Hanukkah Wishes for the Infertile

By Tracey Minella

December 12th, 2017 at 9:52 am

 

image: digitalart at freedigitalphotos.net


With the festival of lights now underway, everyone at Long Island IVF wishes all those who celebrate it a very Happy Hanukkah.

 

Like many holidays throughout the year, Hanukkah and its traditions can bring both peace and stress to those suffering from infertility.

 

Seeing the little ones squealing as they spin dreidels can be hard to take when all you want is a child of your own. Same thing goes for the gelt collection—chocolate-covered or otherwise. Of course, many of you are anxiously awaiting the day you can pass these rich traditions on to your own children.

 

The stress can even make you over-indulge in the fried-food favorites of the holiday. And no one would blame you if you did. Especially if having a mouthful of latkes is your way to avoid answering Aunt Muriel’s nosy baby questions.

 

For those who are frustrated or losing faith due to the delay in your family-building plan, I hope you’ll draw strength from the Hanukkah story and embrace the light from the candles as they are lit each evening.

 

When you feel you have only enough left in you to go on for one more day, you can.. and will… somehow inexplicably, go on for much longer than you ever thought possible. So, keep the faith.

 

And for many, you will witness a miracle.

 

 

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Could You Use $13,570 to Build Your Family?

By Tracey Minella

November 16th, 2017 at 2:07 pm

 

shutterstock


You wouldn’t want to lose $13,570, would you? Well, if you are even remotely considering adopting a child someday, you need to read on.

Both LGBT and heterosexual couples often turn to adoption to create their families. Some may go straight to adoption. Others may first try Assisted Reproductive Technologies (“ART”) like in vitro fertilization (“IVF”) and then pursue adoption if those attempts fail. And some try both adoption and ART simultaneously, ready to accept whichever brings them a child first.

For ages, adoption was the primary route many LGBT couples took to become parents. Gay men (having no eggs or uterus to work with) had little choice before the advent of donor egg and gestational carriers. Unfortunately, private newborn adoptions historically favored placement with heterosexual couples, often leaving LGBT wannabe parents to seek adoption through the foster care system. Sometimes, to reduce the wait time for placement, they’d be encouraged to consider older or special needs children.

While more open-minded than in the past, some of today’s birth parents still cling to those old prejudices when choosing adoptive parents, holding out for the so-called “traditional” parental unit–a married heterosexual couple– rather than an LGBT couple or single parent.

At Long Island IVF, rapidly-advancing assisted reproductive medical technology has opened many avenues to family-building for LGBT couples who want to have a biological child. Depending on the particular circumstances, these options may include using donor egg, donor sperm, gestational carriers, or reciprocal IVF. These advancements, coupled with hard-fought legal victories for LGBT marital and parental rights, did—and continue to– change the parenting options landscape for members of the LGBT community.

In spite of these the medical and legal developments, adoption is still the choice of many couples. The idea of giving a stable home to a foster child that is waiting for love is preferable to many couples, even those who could pursue or had success with medical options.

But whether you choose adoption or ART to build a family, there are financial concerns and the costs of either option can pose a barrier to many couples. Every financial family-building resource, benefit, insurance, or credit that exists must remain accessible to all who need it. For those who choose to adopt, that means preserving the federal Adoption Tax Credit.

There’s a lot going on in the political and infertile world—some front-burner and other back-burner movements. One of the hottest items in the news right now is the fate of the federal Adoption Tax Credit.

The federal Adoption Tax Credit is available to American families to help off-set the costs of adoption. It applies to all adoptions– private domestic, international, and through foster care.

In a nutshell, it’s a federal tax credit currently capped at $13,570 for qualified adoption expenses, though it is affected by the family’s income and tax liability. According to Resolve, the National Infertility Organization’s website:

  • Families earning over $203,540 may only claim a partial credit
  • Families earning over $243,540 are not entitled to any credit
  • Families adopting a special needs foster child may claim the maximum credit
  • The credit may be used for up to five additional years if there is not enough tax liability to apply the full amount of the credit in the first year, and it’s non-refundable.
  • The government saves an estimated $65,000-$127,000 per child that’s adopted out of long-term foster care.

The federal Adoption Tax Credit made headlines after appearing to be on the chopping block as part of the current administration’s upcoming Tax Reform proposal. This caused adoption and infertility rights advocates and religious organizations to leap into action to save the tax credit. Without it, countless children will remain in foster care because those who want to adopt them will not be able to afford to do so. Further, those pursuing private domestic or international adoptions may not be able to afford to those options without the credit.

Fortunately, the most recent reports from last week indicate that the political tide is turning in favor of saving the Adoption Tax Credit, but all those who believe it should be saved need to step up and support it. Do it for yourself or someone you love. Or just do it for the good of orphans and kind-hearted strangers. If you were adopting a child today, wouldn’t you want that tax credit?

If you’d like to lend your voice to the effort, you can contact your local representatives or join the efforts of RESOLVE–the group that fights tirelessly for the rights of all members of the infertile community. You can check out the political initiative here.

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Are you or would you consider adopting a child? Would losing the Adoption Tax Credit impact your ability or choice to adopt?

 

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You WILL Survive Your IVF Baby Leaving for College or Kindergarten

By Tracey Minella

September 6th, 2017 at 4:52 pm

 

T. Minella


By now, just about all college kids have checked in for the new school year. And the little ones started school yesterday and today on Long Island. So, all across the country there are moms and dads feeling the sting…or rather, the devastation…of saying good-bye to their babies.

But IVF parents have it worse. We love harder.

There, I said it.

It’s not that we are better parents (okay I’m lying because I think we kind of are better), but we love differently. That’s entirely because we faced the frightening reality of never becoming parents. We don’t take parenthood for granted. We worked for it. It’s something the fertile folks won’t ever understand and it doesn’t just disappear after the infertility battle is won. It’s a part of us and is always there. It often manifests itself in over-protectiveness and over-involvement. From triple-checking the baby is still breathing, to fearing sleepovers or letting others watch or drive our kids, to tracking their iPhones and monitoring their social media, the vigilant watch unfolds until one day…poof…they are gone.

First, it’s kindergarten, where you are handing them off to another adult for the better part of the day. It’s not all unicorns, rainbows, and “ready confetti”. Stressing over things like whether they will do well academically, make friends, eat alone, be included at recess, or get bullied is normal. Major stuff.

Blink and you will be dropping them off at the dorm—maybe in another state—and wondering where the heck all the years went? Wasn’t it just yesterday that life was all blood work and sonograms? How did it all fly by so fast? Did I do a good enough job? Is my job over? Are they prepared? How will I make until Parent’s Weekend or Thanksgiving without seeing my baby? I want a do-over!

So, here is the deal…

To the kindergarten parents: You will adjust. And you will be amazed at how your baby learns and grows and makes friends. They are ready, even if you are not. It will be fine. They will come home and tell you about their day at school and you will sit in wonder at this little person you created. And there will still be plenty of hours in the day to hover over them and teach them to navigate their new wonderful world. It’s going to be okay. I promise. (Still need to feel better? Read on for the college version.)

To the college freshman parents: You will adjust. True, when someone told me that a year ago as I sent my first IVF baby off to college in Virginia, I admit that I smiled and nodded politely but I secretly thought to myself “Nope, you’re an idiot.” (Look, those moments of “mom desperation” when your baby is moving 8 hours away can bring out the worst in us. Am I right?)

But really, somehow, life does go on without them home. I know it is unimaginable (and that you’re thinking I’m an idiot). It’s truly unthinkable. And the hole in your heart and life is so big, raw, and real right now. I get that completely. But as they start this next big phase on their own, you will marvel at their ability to juggle it all. Watch in pride as they begin “adulting” based on the foundation you gave them. The schoolwork, activities, eating, even the occasional laundry. All mostly on their own now. They will thrive in the place they feel they belong—which will become a second home to them in time as new friendships bloom.

But they will still need you and they will reach out for advice–and money– so look forward to those moments to come. And with your heart in your throat, keep on them (gently but firmly) about the parties and your expectations of them as they adjust to their newfound freedom. They’ll make the friends who will be their friends for life, and maybe even meet their soulmate. Look forward to seeing them at Parent’s Weekend. You will be amazed at how they’ve grown. And Thanksgiving will have a whole new meaning this year.

I’ve been in your shoes and I know you can do this. You are going to make it. Things are different and sad. Change is hard, but it can be good. And it will be good. Just maybe not today.

So, let them fly. (Really, let go of their foot.)

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With decades of miracles behind us, Long Island IVF parents have sent countless numbers of babies off to school (and some down the aisle!). Feel free to pics of your baby’s back-to-school pics.

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4 Reasons Why Infertiles Are Conflicted About the Solar Eclipse

By Tracey Minella

August 21st, 2017 at 11:19 am

credit: pixabay by hypnoart

There is an uncomfortableness– a conflict– in the hearts of the infertile community when it comes to the solar eclipse. Anything from a nagging fear to a raging paranoia. Why? What is driving these emotions? What is it about the solar eclipse that makes us uneasy?

1.      FOMO: Fear of Missing Out.

If anyone knows FOMO, it’s infertile people. Actually, it’s really the “Missing Out” part that we’re experts in. Regardless, FOMO is driving countless Americans to potentially risk permanent eye damage to view the eclipse.

We are used to missing out, but we don’t like it. So, the conflict over being part of the fun or feeling like an outsider and feeling deprived (yet again) is unsettling.

2.      “Just Relax”

What could go wrong? When we say we’re considering skipping the eclipse-viewing fun, many are met with “the look”. The one that says we’re over-reacting. Oh, it’s safe. Oh, those reports of counterfeit, defective, scratched glasses aren’t true.

Just relax…

Just as we hate to hear those two words with respect to our fertility, we don’t need that lame advice about our eyesight.

What are the odds your safety glasses are unsafe? Hmm. Seeing as we are the 1 in 8 suffering from infertility, do we feel particularly lucky? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

3.      Conflicting opinions are stressing us out.

Do we view it or not? What’s the best or safest way? The so-called safety eclipse glasses from Amazon or the homemade cereal box viewer from You Tube? Or the completely safe but totally boring TV viewing option? We infertiles have enough stressful decisions to filter through about our safety and health, so this eclipse thing doesn’t help.

It’s like us deciding on what’s the right infertility protocol. Clomid, IUI, or IVF? If IVF, what do we add to it? Donor egg? Gestational carrier? Add complementary holistic therapies like acupuncture? Then we have to decide which doctor to use. The wrong decision could have life-altering consequences. No wonder the magnitude of the eclipse-viewing decision makes us uncomfortable.

4.      Bonus stress for IVF parents:

You’re making decisions about your eyes and theirs.

It took so much to have that kid. You dreamed for years of doing cool stuff like this with them. And now it’s here. But you’re worried. Should you be out there with a cereal box viewer with the rest of the neighborhood or outside taking selfie’s donning so-called safety glasses? Or do you cave to your overprotective side and institute a full-blown lock down in the basement playroom for the duration?

The solar eclipse presents tough personal decisions. But regardless of whether you are a concerned parent or still on your infertility journey, or whether you choose to view it or not, here’s a tip to solar eclipse day –make it an outta sight party with moon pies and Sun chips.

How are you spending it?

 

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How to Support an Infertile Man on Father’s Day

By Tracey Minella

June 17th, 2017 at 9:06 am

 

image: tminella


Infertile “dads-in-waiting” are no different when it comes to being infertile on Father’s Day than infertile wannabe moms are on Mother’s Day.

They want a baby.

A daddy’s little girl around whose little finger to be proverbially wrapped. A “mini-me” son to hang out with.

But society doesn’t seem to see his pain… because he is quiet. Maybe even to his wife or partner.

Women are more likely to chat with their sisters or closest girlfriends about their infertility—they cry on each other’s shoulders and talk about treatment—but men just don’t really do that. They don’t open up like that. Women talk. But guys’ group conversations tend to gravitate towards sports or politics—not how they injected their wife with a two-inch needle last night or held her as she cried over another negative pregnancy test.

Many men think they have to be the strong one– because if she sees him crumble, she may unravel herself. How unfair is that? Yet that’s how it is for so many guys and it’s completely understandable, and yes, a bit sexist, how they are willing to take all the pain on their shoulders if it’d shelter her.

Imagine that pressure to be strong and not cry? Imagine the totally unfounded but very real guilt he may feel if the diagnosis is male factor infertility? Or the stress he’s under if they can’t afford infertility treatment because his insurance or his salary doesn’t cover it? Or how he’s keeping the secret and hoping the guys don’t find out and rag on him about specimen collection or awkwardly joke about how they can help get her pregnant.

And don’t think for a minute he’s not aware of the children of other men at the gathering. Especially on Father’s Day. Kids playing catch with their dads. Dads showing pictures from the dance recital.

If his relationship with his own father is a good one, it may help to spend some one-on-one together on Father’s Day focusing on his role as the son. Maybe reflect on what kind of father he plans to be when the time comes for him—what he loved about his dad’s parenting style and what he might do differently.

Most importantly, let him do what he wants. See or be with who he wants and be sure to run interference for him with difficult people when you can. If he wants to be around the nieces or nephews, indulge his wish even if you feel differently. Or be alone together—or let him do his own thing–if that’s what he needs for that day.

And don’t ask him about starting a family. Just don’t. Ever. Especially on Father’s Day.

There is no substitution for a baby on Father’s Day, but you can give him hope for one next year. And if you think he’d benefit from talking it out with a caring infertility specialist, Long Island IVF offers group and individual counseling. Some couples have found a special connection to others who understand what they are going through and have even remained friends after their infertility journeys have resolved.

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What are your plans for Father’s Day?

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Long Island IVF Symposium: How Acupuncture Can Improve IVF Success

By Tracey Minella

January 13th, 2017 at 11:54 pm


With so much riding on the outcome of an IVF cycle—emotionally and financially—savvy patients weigh all their options before jumping into such an important undertaking. There are several options that might be applicable, depending on a patient’s particular case, to “customize” a traditional IVF cycle, including ICSI, PGS/PGD, and other cutting edge medical procedures.

And now, there is something new—and old—that shows promise as well.

It’s an exclusive, yet very affordable, natural therapy that might help increase your chances of conceiving with IVF –even if you’ve had prior unsuccessful cycles. And this ancient, complementary therapy costs less than $200 per IVF cycle.

Long Island IVF… the practice that brought Long Island its first IVF baby, first Donor Egg baby and First baby from a cryopreserved embryo… is pleased to announce another major “first” on Long Island:

We are the first infertility practice with a Reproductive Endocrinologist who is also a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner and a NYS certified medical acupuncturist.

Motivated by a desire to find complementary holistic approaches to enhance today’s best Western medical technologies, Long Island IVF co-founder and REI, Dr. David Kreiner, went back to school to study TCM after over 30 years of making babies.

Dr. Kreiner is now applying that acupuncture training in the IVF procedure room, both pre- and post-IVF transfer–exclusively to all interested Long Island IVF patients. IVF patients… especially those for whom Western medicine alone has not yet produced a baby…may benefit from adding this ancient therapy.

Long Island IVF’s Acupuncture Program is hosting a free symposium with a panel of some of the region’s experts on fertility acupuncture to discuss topics related to improving IVF success with acupuncture.

Start the New Year off right by educating yourself on this topic and the difference it may make in IVF outcomes.

Don’t miss this special program on Thursday, January 19, 2017 from 7:00-8:30 pm at our Melville office at 8 Corporate Center Drive, Melville, New York. The seminar is free, but seating is limited, so pre-registration is required. Preregister here.

Topics:

1- Western Medicine Approach to Infertility – Dr. David Kreiner, MD REI and NYS Certified Medical Acupuncturist, Long Island IVF

2- Improving IVF Success with Acupuncture – James Vitale, LAc,

3- Fertility Acupuncture to Improve Pregnancy Success with Western Fertility Treatments-Theresa Dragotto, Lac

4- Acupuncture, Herbs and Moxibustion to Increase IVF Success- Haoyue Lu, LAc

 

We look forward to seeing you there. Please contact Lindsay Montello, Patient Services, at 631-752-0606 or LMontello@liivf.com with any questions.

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Are you coming to the Acupuncture Symposium?

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Long Island IVF-WINNER: Best in Vitro Fertility Practice 2015 AND 2016

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 and 2016 contest…two years in a row!

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 28 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. 631-752-0606.

 

 

 

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Hating the Waiting of Infertility

By Tracey Minella

December 24th, 2016 at 9:37 pm

 

 

photo credit: Ambro/freedigitalphotos.net


I was never very patient and infertility only made that worse.

At the risk of sounding like a spoiled child, I wanted what I wanted—a baby. And I wanted it, well, now. Actually, more like yesterday.

Why should I have to wait? I already did all those things I planned to do before starting a family. School. Career. Marriage. Wild newlywed life. Travel. House. Got off birth control and onto prenatal vitamins. Ditched the booze, briefs, fast food, hot tubs–basically all the fun stuff.

The pre-parenthood bucket list has been checked off.  Hello, Universe? Let’s go already.

The winter holidays always make the impatience worse. Not my year to buy a Baby’s First Christmas ornament. Not my turn to drop a wailing infant into the lap of a creepy mall Santa. Not my moment to see two lines on the stick.

Just not my time. Again.

There’s the two week wait. Waiting on lines in stores. Waiting in the doctor’s office. Waiting for the ball to drop on another New Year’s without the baby. Again.

I’m sorry you have to wait. And I’m sorry your wait is longer than you expected—longer than you ever imagined. I know how hard it is to wait because my own wait took several years.

But I also know how worth the wait it can– and hopefully will–be once it’s finally over.

Wishing you peace and patience during once of the hardest weeks of waiting for your dreams to come true.

 

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National Coming Out Day and Reproductive Options for the LGBT Community

By Tracey Minella

October 11th, 2016 at 6:29 pm


Long Island IVF has been proudly building families for the LGBT community for decades and we are mindful and supportive of LGBT rights and days of significance to the community.

Today, we mark National Coming Out Day—a day to support the men, women, and gender-fluid among us who are, in some cases, summoning the courage to “come out” to their friends, families, and others and begin to live their lives in an open and true to themselves way. Some of these people are teens, or even younger and sadly, the threats against them from various sources are very real. Laws may change, but people often do not…or at least not as quickly.

Long Island IVF is a long-time friend to the LGBT community, and has partnered with the Long Island’s LGBT Network to present seminars specifically designed to address the unique family-building needs of the LGBT community. The next free seminar will be on October 25, 2016 at the Long Island IVF Melville office. Register here.

Reproductive options for lesbian couples will be discussed including topics such as donor sperm insemination, in vitro fertilization, reciprocal IVF, use of gestational carriers, donor eggs, and more. The limitations and the workup for women wishing to donate eggs and/or carry a pregnancy will be covered. Surrogacy and gestational carriers for gay male couples will also be addressed. In addition, the fertility preservation options available to transgender people prior to transitioning will be covered. The social, legal, financial, and medical issues will be discussed.

If you are…or love…a member of the LGBT community, you won’t want to miss this information–packed seminar.

Long Island recognizes that your needs and rights to parenthood are universal, but that the approach to your care and particular fertility obstacles is unique. Our staff, some of whom are members of– or parents of –the LGBT community themselves, is sensitive to your needs and eager to help you build your family.

You may have come out today. Why not come meet us in two weeks?

If you would like to attend our next seminar, please register here.

 

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A Long Island IVF Rainbow Baby Story

By admin

September 27th, 2016 at 7:36 am

image:wpclipart.com

This beautiful story of light after loss was shared by and printed with the permission of one of our patients, Susan:

“Rainbow Baby is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it does not mean the storm never happened or that the family is still not dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy, and hope”. – Anonymous

 

 

Our storm began April 23,, 2013, when at 23 weeks pregnant, we lost our beautiful twin boys James and Logan. There was no reason, no cause given, just that we lost them. We never got to hear them cry or breathe or hold living babies in our arms. To save me, the doctors took our babies and my uterus, eliminating my chance of ever carrying another baby. When you lose a baby in utero, you don’t get a birth certificate or even a death certificate – in the eyes of the law they never existed.

Leaving the hospital with only their footprints and memory boxes was the worst possible feeling I could have ever imagined. The days, weeks, and months that followed were dark and stormy. Every day we questioned how we could ever go on. Would we ever feel the love and happiness we experienced the day we learned we were pregnant with James and Logan?

I have to believe that our baby boys led us to our rainbows. As sad and distraught as we were, we felt drawn to find another option to complete our dream of becoming parents, of someday hearing the words “mommy” and “daddy”.

Through our fertility clinic, Long Island IVF, we were sent to an agency where we were matched with a surrogate. Little did we know that she would become our angel on Earth – she would bring our rainbow babies to us. Her due date was April 20th, my birthday and almost three years to the date we lost our baby boys.

On March 28, 2016, Alexa Grace and Ashley Hope– our rainbow babies– entered our world and we felt the love and joy we doubted we would ever know. Losing James and Logan was the worst possible storm we will hopefully ever have to weather, but with them watching over us we became a family. As the quote says, the rainbows don’t take away the storm clouds but these little girls make us cherish what we have here on Earth and what we have in Heaven.

In an effort to help others who may be struggling in a similar way, I wanted to share our story–including a piece about the struggles and decisions we made that only people going through similar situations would understand. Our journey to have Ashley and Alexa was not easy – there were many times we wanted to give up, but we always came back to the belief that we were MEANT to be parents.

Our first attempt with our surrogate resulted in a miscarriage – another devastating loss, but we still had embryos remaining so we had those genetically-tested and we had one, genetically normal, male. We did that transfer in April 2015 and it didn’t take. Mark and I took some time to reflect and think of other options – adoption, donor egg, or live childless.

We met with Vicky Loveland, the nurse in charge of the Donor Egg Program at Long Island IVF, and decided the best choice for us would be donor egg. Vicky and her staff were wonderful, they walked us through each step of the process and made me feel like a “mom”. Don’t get me wrong, I did grieve – the loss of ever carrying a child and the loss of ever having a genetic child of my own, but it always came back to knowing I was meant to be a mom and Mark a dad. With Vicky’s help we quickly found a donor that we felt most matched me and the process began. We ended up with four embryos and decided to put two in for transfer.

The moment we held Alexa and Ashley I sighed and smiled – my babies were here and we were finally a family. We have brought the girls in to the clinic to meet all the amazing people that made our girls possible. Mark and I were blessed to find Long Island IVF and all the caring individuals who gave us hope.

-Susan and Mark

 

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Fertility Awareness Opportunities Angelina Jolie Missed

By Tracey Minella

September 20th, 2016 at 10:11 pm

Public Domain Image: courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net/vera kratochvil-wax figures

 

[This post was originally posted in March, 2015. It's being reprinted as a reminder of what we can learn from the health care decisions Angelina Jolie bravely made and shared publicly.]

Actress, director, humanitarian, ambassador, mom of twins, adoptive mom, wife of Brad Pitt. And she’s gorgeous.

What’s not to hate?

Oh, I’m just sort of  kidding. No, really. But despite all the good she does, there will always be haters. People who want her money, her talent, her babies, or her man. Jealousy can do that.

I don’t admire many celebrities… and that’s fine, because their only job is to entertain me, not impress me. But I am impressed with Angelina Jolie. She’s charitable with her time and money and seems pretty grounded for a megastar. And she uses her celebrity for good.

It’s been only two years since Jolie made headlines for undergoing a preventative double mastectomy after testing positive for the BRCA gene mutation… a mutation that significantly increases the lifetime risk of getting breast cancer. At that time, she was open about her decision and used her celebrity to increase breast cancer awareness.

This week, Angelina revealed that she took those preventative measures to the next level. This time, she had both of her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed in the hope of avoiding ovarian cancer…another deadly cancer linked to the same gene mutation. Jolie lost her mom to ovarian cancer and said in a recent New York Times Op Ed piece that she doesn’t want her children to experience the same loss. Her openness is raising awareness of ovarian cancer.

But there is another untold story here, too…a fertility awareness story…and it needs to be heard.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know Jolie has six children. She adopted three children internationally and gave birth to a singleton and a pair of twins. Practically eliminating her risk of getting ovarian cancer is not the only result of her surgery.

The media is reporting that she can no longer have biological children. And Jolie acknowledged how hard her decision would be for a woman who has not completed her family-building. Perhaps because of the size of her family, this point seemed lost on the general public. But it’s not lost on you, is it? This surgery is a big deal. And before others who may not be done with their family-building journeys emulate Jolie and follow her path, some crucial missing information needs to be shared.

In fact, there are three opportunities here to increase fertility awareness and educate the public about advances in the field of reproductive technologies, namely PGD, Egg donation, and Egg-freezing.

First, there’s pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (“PGD”). PGD enables couples who are concerned about passing a life-threatening genetic disease on to their children to have their embryos pre-screened for gene mutations. This screening can only be done in conjunction with an in-vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure, where eggs are retrieved and fertilized in a lab and the resulting embryos can be tested. Then, only those embryos that did not test positive for the mutated gene would be transferred into the uterus…virtually eliminating the chance of passing on that hereditary disease. BRCA is one of the many genes that can be screened through PGD. Long Island IVF offers PGD.

Second, there’s egg donation. If a woman has her ovaries and tubes removed, she cannot thereafter have a biological child…one created using her own eggs… however she may still experience childbirth. If she still has a healthy uterus, it may be possible for her, through IVF, to use eggs from an egg donor and the sperm of her partner or a donor, and have the resulting embryos transferred into her uterus where a pregnancy can implant and grow to term. Long Island IVF’s Donor Egg Program brought Long Island its First donor egg baby decades ago.

Finally, there’s the latest breakthrough in women’s fertility preservation technology: egg freezing. Egg-freezing offers an exception to the egg donor statement above. If… prior to removing her ovaries… a woman undergoes IVF for the purpose of either freezing her retrieved eggs (or freezing the embryos resulting from the fertilization of her retrieved eggs), then instead of needing donor eggs, she would be able to later have her own frozen eggs or embryos thawed and transferred into her uterus in the hope of becoming pregnant with her biological child. Or if her uterus was unsuitable or absent, she could still have a biological child by having someone else carry a pregnancy for her. (Note: Surrogacy and gestational carrier laws vary from state to state.) Long Island IVF has an Egg Freezing Program.

These three fertility awareness opportunities, when coupled with Jolie’s breast cancer and ovarian cancer awareness, will further empower women everywhere to make better medical choices and take charge of their fertility and general health.

Shame on the haters. It’s wonderful that Jolie is open about her health in a way that raises awareness for others. She is a just a mom. A selfless mom who just wants to be there to see her children and future grandchildren grow up.

Is there something wrong with being proactive after tests show you carry a gene that could one day take your life, like it took your mother’s? Are the haters just jealous of her? Is she a hero?

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What do you think? What would you do?

 

 

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