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Archive for the ‘IVF history’ tag

Three Reasons to Keep an Infertility Journal

By Tracey Minella

October 13th, 2013 at 12:39 pm


credit: Simon Howden/

The ASRM …the biggest annual medical conference of infertility professionals…is happening right now in beautiful Boston, Massachusetts. History is being made and discoveries shared in one of the country’s most historic towns.

Imagine the ASRM of bygone days. When decades ago, procedures which are routine today… like embryo cryopreservation and ICSI…were first being studied and proposed. How exciting that the brightest minds in assisted reproductive technology are gathering as we speak and crafting another chapter in the history of IVF.

Which begs the question: What chapter are you on in your personal infertility journey and have you been keeping your own historical journal?

The deafening sound of your collective “no” isn’t surprising. I know why most of you don’t keep the journal. I missed out on the very beginning of my own story for the same reason… because you wish, hope, believe, or pray…that it won’t really become “a journey”. You assume it’ll be resolved fast… that next month will be the lucky one… and you will just get on with your life. That infertility will be just a little speed bump… instead of a potentially long and bumpy road. So you don’t write about it.

Here are 3 reasons to keep and infertility journal:

1. Memory Fades: Even though you have committed every little detail about your failed cycles and the numbers and grades of frozen embryos to memory, those memories are going to fade.  Especially if the journey lingers on… and the details about cycle 2 and 4 start to blend. Trust me on that one. You should have a one place to look back on it all someday. And you will want to look back. Trust me on that, too. While you are living it, you can’t appreciate how strong you are. That only comes from hindsight.

2. It is Therapeutic: It’s another place to vent, and for those who hold it all in, it may be the only place to vent. And venting helps reduce stress. Reducing stress may help you conceive. It’s a good cycle.

3. It is Part of History: Your infertility journey, however long it is or may be, is taking place alongside history itself. Keeping a journal forces you to connect with today’s important news and events, when everything else about battling infertility could otherwise send you into self-imposed isolation. I’ll explain:

My own infertility journal chronicles what is arguably the most important day in U.S. history during my adult lifetime…September 11, 2011. I was newly-pregnant with my son, barely pregnant actually, after IVF cycle #7. And I was working as a medical assistant at Long Island IVF. I wrote about how we frantically tried to reach our patients that worked in NYC, how we inseminated a tearful woman who went on to conceive twins on that day, and how I worried about the world I was bring this baby into. I love that I have that story to share with my kids.

Maybe your story would be woven into events like the election of President Obama, the Boston Marathon bombing, or other historical events, good and bad, yet to unfold. Those events that people look back on and ask: “Where were you when…..happened?”

I know it’s hard to write it down. It’s hard enough to just live it. But do it. The babies you’re working on having will consider it a gift someday.

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Do you keep a journal? Do you have any stories to share about what you were doing…infertility-wise…on historically significant dates?


Photo credit: Simon Howden /




World’s First IVF Baby is 35!

By Tracey Minella

July 25th, 2013 at 10:01 pm


image courtesy of

Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy birthday, dear Louise Brown. Happy Birthday to you.

Many of you are too young to remember where you were 35 years ago today…when news of the birth of the World’s first “test tube” baby hit the stands. Maybe you were playing with Barbies, or maybe you weren’t even born yet. I remember it though.

I was a young teen just learning about reproduction, reading the newspaper in our brown, gold, orange and white classic 70’s kitchen. I remember hearing the sensational, seemingly sci-fi news and thinking it was cool. Dad was intrigued. Mom was mortified.

Little did I know then how important this day in history would be in my own life. And how IVF technology would be the answer to my own dream of becoming a mother some twenty years later.

For the past several years, I recognize Louise Brown’s birthday in some little way. It may be a blog post, or just a moment of reflection on how thankful I am for her mom’s courage way back then. I’ve even had a cupcake or raised a glass on her behalf. It’s my little way of honoring the woman whose birth led to the births of my own children decades later.

Here’s an IVF trivia question in honor of today:

Louise is not the first IVF baby to have her own baby, but Louise is related to the first IVF baby to have her own baby. What is the woman’s name and what is their relationship?

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If you could say anything to Louise Brown’s mother, what would you say?

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IVF Throwback Thursday

By Tracey Minella

March 7th, 2013 at 11:22 pm

Just for kicks, I thought I’d be nostalgic today…and show my age…by telling those still on their infertility journeys what infertility treatment and IVF was like “back in the day”.

“The day” being the early 1990’s.

All patient charts were folders with paper in them. Computers were still the size of a Volkswagen and were only used by the medical billers.

There were no apps to keep track of anything. Girls had a paper calendar and a mercury basal body thermometer to track their cycles or ovulation. That’s because there were no smart phones. In fact, there weren’t cell phones at all yet. The high tech communications device of that time was the pager. Important folks…or those who wanted to look that way…wore them clipped to their belts and when someone was looking for them, it’d vibrate—which sent them running to find the nearest payphone. Yes, payphone. Anyone have a quarter?

We watched injection teaching videos on VHS tapes and then practiced on an orange. Once. If the husband wanted to be involved, that was his only job back then. Well, besides the major genetic contribution. Husbands were not present in the transfer room.

Except for Lupron, every needle needed for IVF was a twelve inch 2-1/2 inch IM syringe. Well, it felt like it was twelve inches…

Retrievals and transfers were only done hospitals, so hours of waiting and paperwork were added to the experience. No convenient, private on-site facilities were available. Blood work was drawn at the hospital on Sunday mornings. So after your sonogram, off you went with a prescription to the lab.

All transfers were Day 3. There were no Blastocyst transfers yet in the early 90’s. Transfers were done without ultrasound guidance and with an empty bladder. You laid there perfectly still in Ambulatory surgery with butt propped up on pillows and your legs elevated for an hour or more as the feeling of pins and needles ate at your feet. You tried not to hit any bumps on the car ride home.

And that was the kind of transfer the lucky ones got. The ones with the easily navigable cervixes.  The unlucky ones had something called a “Jones” transfer, named after America’s famous founding couple of IVF, Drs. Howard and Georgianna Jones, of the Jones Institute in Norfolk, VA. In a Jones transfer, you didn’t lay on your back. Instead, you’d kneel on the gurney with your face mushed into the pillow… and your butt in the air. Can there possibly be another position of greater humiliation?

There was little or no insurance coverage for anything related to infertility, much less IVF. (Some things never change.)


The success rates were low compared to today. With IVF, my odds of conceiving, at under 35, were only 17%. In 2011, the live birth rate per transfer at LIIVF was nearly 60%! See success rates here: And transferring four (4) embryos back was routine. No surprise that there was more high-order multiple births back then.

There were no 3D baby sonograms. And no Facebook to post them on. You had to pick up the corded phone and actually call people to tell them the good news!

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Hearing all this, do you think it’s harder or easier to go through IVF now than it used to be?


Photo credit:


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