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How Do You Define “Family”?

By Tracey Minella

November 21st, 2011 at 11:05 am

Since we build families every day, it feels right to note that today marks the beginning of National Family Week. It is fittingly placed right around the holiday most closely associated with family…Thanksgiving.

I love Thanksgiving. I love that it is about food, family, and friends. Football featuring the Cowboys and Lions. The Macy’s parade. March of the Wooden Soldiers. No presents or commercialization. No overcrowded places of worship.

Did I mention food and family?

But what is a "family"?

Now I don’t want to give the impression that my holiday is like a Norman Rockwell painting or that my family is like the Cunninghams from Happy Days. We have good times and laughter. And arguments around the table…sometimes started by an insensitive remark by a blow-hard to a hormonal infertile woman.

Every family has a big mouth.

I remember one gathering when we were knowingly TTC and had failed at IVF, and a cousin walked in with her new IVF twins. “The Mouth” remarked: “I’d NEVER spend $10,000.00 to have a baby!” Way to offend two couples at once, loser! She is always good for a jaw dropper. Spending Thanksgiving…or any holiday… with her is as enjoyable as sitting with a wishbone wedged in your throat all night.

I also remember feeling like we weren’t really a “family” because we didn’t have children yet. We were a “couple”. I made a distinction when I shouldn’t have. And in retrospect, that feeling made Thanksgiving harder each year.

I wish someone pointed out to me back then that a couple is a family. I may have rolled my eyes at them, but if they persisted I may have felt better.

So I am telling you now that when a couple comes together to fight infertility, they get a benefit they don’t usually recognize until after their infertility journey is over. They find they’ve built a rock solid foundation upon which to build… as their family grows from a couple to something larger than that. Trust me on that one.


Please enter our Thankfulness Contest. Take some time to reflect on what you have to be thankful for as a result of taking this infertility journey…even if you are still waiting. What have you discovered about yourself, your spouse, your inner strength? We’d love to send you and your spouse out for a $100.00 romantic dinner at Scotto’s Restaurant.

Just you two…no big mouths.

Enter today right here:

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So how do you define “family”?

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7 Survival Tips for Holiday Shopping for Others’ Kids

By Tracey Minella

November 18th, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Well, the stores are already decorated for the holidays, it’s only days before we carve the turkeys, and we’re moments away from the annual onslaught of 24/7 Christmas music on the radio.

Do you see visions of sugar plums? Or are you a Bah-Freakin Humbug kind of person? Maybe a little of both?

There’s no right answer to that one, by the way.

The infertility years were so hard for us.  It took real effort sometimes to be the favorite aunt and uncle. But seriously, Christmas lists for the nieces and nephews brought an almost bi-polar response.

On the one hand, we were like two kids ourselves, tackling Toys R Us with reckless abandon… excited to buy these adorable kids the biggest and most wanted toys on their lists. Then the next hormonal minute, I’d dissolve into tears, cursing the long-listed, greedy brats and reaching for whatever toy had the most pieces and would take the longest time to assemble…as if to punish their fertile parents. Talk about Scrooge.

I’d keep telling myself our day would come to buy toys for our own kids as my heart broke over the Easy Bake Oven and Lego set that would not be under our tree. Again.

Here’s Seven Tips to get through the shopping:

  1. Order toys through online shopping sources instead of going into the stores. Most offer free shipping and some even gift wrap for a fee.

  1. Consider a gift card to a favorite store if the child is older and would appreciate one.

  1. If it’s okay with the parent, and would be enjoyable for the child, consider a gift that involves an outing instead of a toy. Maybe you and the child could share a day at a concert, movie, play, circus, or other event? It may be just the “parenting fix” your heart needs. (Of course, if the kid’s a brat, let the mom take him!)

  1. If you are not superstitious, buy a little something to put away for your future baby. Maybe a small stuffed animal, basic baby toy or rattle, or a book. No one says you have to wait until it gets here to start to spoil it. It may make you feel better.

  1. Buy yourself (or your spouse) a little gift. Reward yourself for braving the toy store crowd with your heavy heart. Try a massage for the added benefit of stress reduction.

  1. Donate a toy to a needy child. Toys for Tots and similar programs are all over during the holiday season. Or check with your local place of worship for suggestions.

  1. Blow off the shopping and enter one or more of our contests!!! (Okay, that was cheap of me, but you really should enter our Thankfulness Contest at OR our Nearly Wordless Wednesday photo caption Contest at

And remember, and believe, that your day will come. Here’s hoping that Easy Bake Oven will be under the tree in 2012.

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How do you get through it? Do you have any tips for holiday shopping for other people’s children? Will you try any of the above tips this year?

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Embryo Screening for Genetic Defects is Available

By Tracey Minella and David Kreiner MD

November 17th, 2011 at 4:15 pm

When IVF first hit the news with the birth of the first “test tube baby” in 1978, people were amazed, but also skeptical, and even a bit frightened. Conservatives and religious objectors went nuts over the idea of creating life outside the womb.

Today, IVF is almost as common as root canal. It’s not science fiction anymore. In fact, at least 4 of the 29 kids in my daughter’s class are IVF babies. There are still opponents, for sure, but the “shock value” of plain ol’ IVF has passed to a great extent.

Yet, scientific advances in the field of reproductive endocrinology and genetics have brought technology and tools to the table that continues to amaze, and sometimes frighten the general public.

Now, pre-implantation screening exists that may dramatically improve IVF success rates in several different patient scenarios.

Dr. David Kreiner, of Long Island IVF and East Coast Fertility, describes this latest amazing development and how it may help IVF success rates soar. And it is now available to Long Island IVF and ECF’s IVF patients! Read on to see if it could benefit you!

As Dr. Kreiner explains:

Pre-embryo genetic screening (PGS) was developed to help weed out embryos containing inherited metabolic disorders and genetic abnormalities prior to implantation. It was thought that PGS could be used to minimize the risk of miscarriage and perhaps even increase live birth rates in older women undergoing IVF .

We have thus far been disappointed in our results obtained using the FISH technique, the procedure performed for PGS for the past decade and a half. But an alternative new technology that was recently developed makes me very excited about PGS once again: Array Comparative Genomic Hybridization (aCGH).

ACGH is a technique actually applied to detect deficiencies and excesses of genetic material in the chromosomes. DNA from a test sample and a normal reference sample are labeled using colored fluorophores that hybridize to several thousand probes. These probes are created from most of the known genes of the genome and placed on a glass slide.

The differential color of the test compared to the normal sample DNA reflects the amount of DNA in the test specimen. It can pick up monosomies, trisomies or significant deletions on an embryo’s chromosomes.

The first baby born from this procedure was in September 2009 to a 41-year old woman. When aCGH is performed on a Blastocyst biopsy, it is effective in screening out mosaicism (mixed cell lines in the same organism). ACGH is 20 percent more sensitive than the best FISH assays with an error rate of two to four percent. Fifty percent of the embryos tested were normal with pregnancy rates exceeding Blast transfers without aCGH screening.

So, who could benefit from using this new technology?

1. Patients with repeat miscarriages can eliminate up to 90 percent of their miscarriages.

2. Older patients who naturally have a higher percentage of genetically abnormal embryos may now screen for and only transfer their normal embryos.

3. Patients who want to maximize their success with a single embryo transfer.

4. Patients who have experienced repeat implantation failure can be screened for genetically abnormal embryos.

This technology is available for about the same cost as the FISH procedure yet, since it is performed on a Blastocyst, it is safer with less effect on the integrity of the embryo and without significant risk of wrongly identifying abnormal embryos. A concern with FISH is that embryos identified as abnormal can actually result in a normal fetus. This risk is practically eliminated with aCGH and is another reason making it more successful.

I expect PGS will now become a commonly-used addition to standard IVF to promote more successful single embryo transfers, improve success in older patients, eliminate miscarriages, and treat patients with repeat implantation failure.

We are approaching a new era in IVF. Brace yourselves for a thrilling ride into IVF’s future.

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What do you think about PGS?

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Nearly Wordless Wednesday Photo Caption Contest

By Tracey Minella

November 16th, 2011 at 10:08 am

Hooray for Wednesday! It’s photo caption time, folks! But first we have to name last week’s winner.

The winner of last week’s photo caption contest is Erintobe! Congrats!

Remember the baby and stuffed ducky duct taped to the wall? Well, Erintobe’s comment “What, I gave the baby her favorite duck!” was just the short, sarcastic remark we thought would be a great caption. So Erintobe, this week, the Starbucks is on us. Please email your address and the words “11-9-11 Duct taped kid caption” to Lindsay at to claim your gift card.

Ready for this week’s challenge?

Give this photo a caption either below on this blog or on our Facebook page. I picked it because Black Friday will be here before we know it.

Best entry winner gets Starbucks on us! It’s a fast, fun and free contest open to anyone, whether infertile or not, and whether a patient of our practice or not.

Either provide your email address with your entry or check back to see if you won and we’ll tell you how to email us so we can mail you your gift card.

Plus, if you “LIKE” us on Facebook at!/ecfertility, we can send you the prize as a Starbuck’s Card e-gift right through Facebook, so you could be sipping your winnings as early as on the day we choose the winner! (And as much as we’d love you to like us on Facebook, it is absolutely not required to either enter or win our contests!)

Enter today!

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The Duggars Do it Again…Baby #20

By Tracey Minella

November 15th, 2011 at 12:00 am

Oh, the range of emotions. Not sure what to do first: close my dropped jaw or stop shaking my head?

Baby #20 is on the way for the Duggars, that famous reality show Christian family.

Part of me’s thinking this is surely a sign of the apocalypse coming. Well, it feels that way to me when I consider how many loving, deserving couples are out there mortgaging their lives away trying to conceive just one baby. It just doesn’t seem fair. It doesn’t seem right. And that’s just my opinion, of course. I’m sure there are tons of folks out there who’d be happy to have 20 kids.

I can’t say what I think constitutes a reasonable, manageable number of children these days, but it just feels to me like 20 is beyond reasonable. Beyond manageable. Especially when they’re being home-schooled. Consider that reality for just a moment. Talk about an overcrowded classroom.

In any event, 20 kids is not anywhere near the “norm”, that’s for sure. That’s why they are newsworthy, reality TV stars. And people can (and do) argue that it’s nobody’s business how many children someone else has.

Still, I’m thinking “Why couldn’t a force in the universe give the Duggars a generous allotment of, say, four kids…and then distribute the remaining baby dust for the other 16 over some other couples who need help?” That has a ring of fairness to it.

But, of course, all is NOT fair in love and fertility.

It brings interesting questions to mind, like:

How can the parents have enough time and love to go around for 20 children?

Is it safe for the mom and baby to keep conceiving at the age of 45 with a uterus that’s been through the ringer after carrying 19 babies?

Is it fair to the older kids to have to care for so many younger ones?

Is having 20 children over time as offensive as the octomom having 8 at once?

Why would someone whose 19th and last baby was born three months prematurely chance another pregnancy?

Are they just following God and are merely devout, loving parents doing things differently than the rest?

Or are they building their family so the ratings don’t drop and so they have fresh content on their promotional website?

Is it okay to profit from having so many children?

And perhaps the biggest question of all:

How do they find the time and energy and desire… with 19 home-schooled kids under foot 24/7… to have sex?

There goes my jaw dropping again…

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What do you think?

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A Winning Combination of Two IVF Practices!

By Tracey A. Minella

November 11th, 2011 at 1:28 am

We have BIG NEWS! East Coast Fertility and Long Island IVF have recently combined practices to serve their patients even better than before! This is good news for our patients.

We understand that you may have concerns, especially during the initial adjustment phase. Please ask whatever questions you have. Most people don’t like change. But rest assured, this blending of two of Long Island’s most successful fertility practices will give the patients of both practices everything they love about their chosen practice…plus access to all of the complementary services of the other practice. It’s a blending of “high tech” and “high touch”…where sleek, state-of-the-art clinical practice meets accessibility, hand-holding, holistic, cutting-edge/alternative medicine. Now you can have it all.

Bet you didn’t know that the directors of both practices founded Long Island IVF…together…nearly a quarter century ago. They were Long Island’s IVF pioneers! But after ten years apart building separate yet somewhat different practices, they’ve realized they’re better together!

Take it from me (who was a patient and worked as a medical assistant for them when they were originally together), this is really wonderful news for today’s infertility patients. You couldn’t ask for a better combination!

Click here for the initial website announcement:

Some of the physicians of the combined practices are pictured above (l to r): Steven Brenner, MD, Joseph Pena, MD, Daniel Kenigsberg, MD, and David Kreiner MD.

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We want to know what you think of this blending of practices and what questions or concerns you may have. Please ask us, so we can put you at ease. Whether you comment here or speak to us in person, we look forward to addressing any concerns.

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Imagine a World Without IVF

By Tracey Minella

November 4th, 2011 at 9:16 am

And things were going along so well.

Studies over decades repeatedly show no link between fertility meds and cancer, easing the minds of many. IVF babies have grown up and had babies of their own without medical intervention. And advances in ART technology have reduced the number of high-risk multiple pregnancies by reducing the need to transfer several embryos in order to achieve a pregnancy. In fact, Single Embryo Transfers (SETs), are the preferred way to go in certain cases.

But if you think the only thing you have left to worry about is how to pay for your infertility treatments… think again.

The very future of IVF may be at risk.

On Election Day, the people of Mississippi will be voting on the Mississippi Personhood Amendment Ballot Measure 26, or MS26 to determine whether a fertilized egg has the full legal rights of a person. What would that mean?

Common methods of birth control will become illegal.

All abortions will become illegal…even in cases of rape and incest…and even when the life of the mother is at stake! Ectopic pregnancy, Ma’am? Been nice knowin’ ya. Sorry. Outrageous, right?

And you know (or might imagine) how devastating suffering a miscarriage is? Well, imagine adding a criminal investigation on top of it to be sure it wasn’t really an illegal abortion!

And are you ready for this: certain types of IVF may become illegal.

This is not some tiny group we’re talking about here. This movement has fierce support in “the most religious state in America”. And this goes much farther than the long- running pro-choice/pro-life debate. So much farther that many pro-lifers, including Roman Catholic bishops and National Right to Life… are opposed to this radical measure.

Frighteningly, the movement is like a wildfire out of control. No high-ranking government officials have opposed it. And the Attorney General supports it.

Can this happen today? How can we prevent this disaster? What impact could this have in other states?

For more information and contact numbers, please go to

Please contact your friends and family in Mississippi and tell them what impact this would have on your life if you lived there and urge them to vote no. Contact your local representatives and let them know you’re opposed to this radical proposed amendment. Perhaps they can convince their colleagues in Mississippi not to support it.

Don’t let November 8th be the day IVF died.


But there is already action being taken on a FEDERAL level to continue this campaign. Politicians in support of this extreme measure are, in effect, trying to legislatively undo the rights afforded to women by Roe v. Wade since the U.S. Supreme Court has not overturned it. But it is not just an attempt to make abortion illegal. By affording a personhood status and rights to a zygote, this legislation could also make forms of IVF illegal! Please let your legislators know that you are against this measure… NOW!

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How do you feel about this issue?



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National Adoption Awareness Month Kicks off with Every Child Deserves a Family Act

By Tracey Minella

November 1st, 2011 at 8:17 pm

The big news to start November’s National Adoption Awareness Month…N.Y. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s Every Child Deserves a Family Act.  Read more on the proposed legislation, including interesting facts, studies, and stats, here:

The proposed law, announced four days ago, would make it illegal for federally-funded or supported adoption or foster care agencies to discriminate against prospective adoptive and foster parents based on gender identity, marital status or sexual orientation.

Currently, thirty-one states practice some form of discrimination against the LGBT population. And this discrimination exists even though studies have shown LGBT parents can provide just a loving and stable a home as heterosexual parents.

This legislation would enable the more than 400,000 children currently in foster care and 107,000 children currently awaiting adoption…who are languishing away in the system… to be more quickly placed in loving homes with loving families, by opening up the prospective parent pool to include the LGBT population.

Really, doesn’t every child deserve a family?

Those less open-minded to the benefits of this legislation may argue that children adopted by LGBT parents may be at risk of increased bullying and discrimination in their communities.

But sadly, children of many different backgrounds are bullied daily, and it is with help and support from their loving parents that they usually survive. Plus, is the potential for bullying any worse than the known increased risks of not being placed in a loving home? Risks like increased chances of early parenthood or incarceration?

The founder of East Coast Fertility has been committed to family-building for the LGBT population for decades and applauded the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in New York for removing a roadblock that made some LBGT couples reluctant to seek fertility treatment to build their families.

This proposed legislation stands for building loving families…something we at ECF do every day.

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How do you feel about this proposed legislation? Do you think it is fair, with benefits that outweigh concerns? If not, what are your primary concerns or reservations?

Have you adopted or fostered a child, and what was your experience?

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Male Fertility Home Test? Move over Pee Stick!

By Tracey Minella

October 31st, 2011 at 11:59 pm

Knock knock.

Who’s there?


Thermos who?

Thermos be a better knock knock joke than this.

Well, I couldn’t just let Knock Knock Joke Day go by without recognizing it somehow. But it’s the last day of the month, so today’s post is all about the guys. So let’s move on to something really interesting.

Dueling pee sticks? Well, not exactly. But one day soon you could conceivably (get it?)  see a man and woman battling each other for bathroom space to take… and await the results of…their own stick-like fertility tests.

We’ve already got ovulation and pregnancy test kits for the ladies. But the latest thing to come down the pregnancy quest pike will be the male “fertility chip”.

Researchers are developing, with the intention of mass-marketing, a male fertility chip which is like a lab on a stick. A drop of male ejaculate onto this chip could test male sperm concentration (count) and sperm movement (motility)…reliably and in the comfort of your own home.

Imagine that, guys? No more embarrassing collection rooms. No more hurried home collections, messy cups, and quick deliveries to labs. Good-bye hand-off of awkward brown lunch bag to smirking nurse.

Now this is still in the early stages, so don’t run out to Walgreen’s just yet for your own kit. And the report did not mention that the test could determine the sperm’s size and shape (morphology), so a standard lab analysis, at least initially, may still be necessary. But 2 out of 3 ain’t bad. What a great development in the field of infertility!

Here’s the link for the details:

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If a home kit did become available to test male fertility as indicated above, would you trust it or would you stick to today’s lab testing? Would the convenience of a home test trump the embarrassment of a lab test?

Anyone want to share a funny (but printable) collection story? (Well, it is knock, knock joke day…) Yeah, I didn’t think so…

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6 Halloween Survival Tips for Infertile Folks

By Tracey Minella

October 28th, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Face it. Halloween without kids…well, bites. And I don’t mean in the neck.

Most of the fertile world misses the boat completely when it comes to sensitivity to our feelings on the holidays.

If we’re really lucky, we get some compassion for Mother’s and Father’s Days…sometimes for Christmas. Thanksgiving and New Year’s? Not really.

Halloween? Fuggedaboutit!

If you’re dreading facing Halloween without a baby dressed like a pea pod, here are some tips to get through the haunted happenings:

  1. Give yourself permission to be depressed, mad, or whatever it is you’re feeling. You don’t have to fake it for anyone. If you are open about your infertility journey, let people know it’s a hard day for you. This is one of those holidays fertile folks are usually clueless about when it comes to how bad we feel.

  1. If 85 bags of candy are not in the budget because you’re saving for fertility treatments, don’t sweat it. Turn the lights down low and pretend you’re not home. What you do in the dark is your business!

  1. If you want to give out treats, but can’t take the heartbreak each time a pack of princesses or ninjas come knocking, leave a big bowl with a “Please Take One” sign outside your door and let them help themselves.

  1. You want children and are still waiting. Why not spend the holiday brightening the day of children who are waiting for parents, or who can’t afford to celebrate Halloween? Contact your local social services department or place of worship and see if there is an orphanage or homeless shelter that could use some candy.

  1. Attend…or host…a “grownups only” Halloween party or dinner. Nothing will cheer you up faster than mummy dogs (hot dogs wrapped and baked in breadstick dough) and jello molds of brains and hearts. (Don’t forget the spiked witch’s brew!) Or go to a spooky play or movie.

  1. If you feel too guilty to do any of the above and are determined to face the parade of masked cherubs, then remember this… your day of ringing doorbells with Buzz Lightyear or Belle in tow is coming.

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How do you get through Halloween? Any tips or traditions?

For those who finally did have their babies….please share your best Halloween pics with us on our Facebook page at!/ecfertility. (Feel free to LIKE our page while you’re there, and then tell all your friends and family to come see your baby’s picture on our Facebook page!)

Or, you can email them to Your success may encourage others.

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