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Archive for the ‘Surrogacy’ tag

The Importance of a Soul Mate in IVF

By Tracey Minella

August 3rd, 2012 at 8:13 am

courtesy of Rosen Georgeiev/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I should begin by applauding the single ladies doing IVF. I didn’t do IVF without a partner by my side, but had the circumstances required it, my desire to have a baby would have put me on the IVF road myself as well. I imagine you all having amazing strength simply for undertaking the challenge of single parenting, never mind the lengths you’re going to to make it happen.

But IVF with a partner is obviously very different. It must be… simply by nature of there being a relationship involved.

There’s the issue of blame. There shouldn’t be. But there often is. If one of the pair has the diagnosis, there’s often guilt to deal with. That’s never good for a relationship.

Sometimes, there are the issues of donation and third parties. Donor eggs, donor sperm, donor embryos. Or the need for a gestational carrier or surrogate. More complicated stuff.

There are almost always financial issues unless you are lucky enough to have generous insurance coverage. If your jobs don’t offer infertility insurance, or your employers aren’t supportive of your situation, there can be stress at work…which spills over into the home.

Then there’s the stress of watching other couples have it all. The baby you can’t have without the treatment. The house or vacation you can’t afford because of the treatment. Why you?

Infertility is isolating. It’s just the two of you. It’s like living long-term in that moment of your vows where you said “for better or for worse; in sickness and in health” but never thought the bad stuff would really happen to you.

For me, the lows were so low at times that I didn’t always appreciate my husband’s support while we were going through it. I was too consumed by the details, too worried about failing, too focused on the goal. Not focused enough on the guy at the end of that long needle each night. The one who quietly absorbed the brunt of my hormonal outbursts. The one who held me when the bottom fell out of the world. The one who never questioned my need to try again. And again.

There’s no doubt that infertility is one of the toughest tests of a marriage. Most couples that make it through successfully are surely stronger for it. I feel that most couples who come to the end of their journey together…whether it ends with a biological baby, an adopted baby, or a decision to remain child-free…proudly wear an invisible badge of marital courage.

But I feel for those whose marriages crumble from the strain of infertility. Would they have survived if not for those stresses? Would they have been one of those happy couples who skate through life escaping all real adversity? Or were they doomed anyway, and infertility just happened to be the blow to expose their already weak foundations? It’s hard to say.

Looking back, I wish I’d been better at stopping the world from spinning and re-connecting with my partner along the way. Try to do that. You are the only two who understand what you are going through and what is on the line. What you have to lose…what you have to gain. Don’t lose sight of each other when simply going through the motions of your treatment. Show your gratitude.

All journeys end. Most end happily, though not always the way we imagine happiness will be when we started. Then you get to look back on it years later and laugh at things you never thought you would. And realize you’d never have gotten though it all without your soul mate.

Happy 27th Anniversary to mine.

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What’s the one moment on your journey that you realized you were/were not with your soul mate? What would you tell your soul mate to thank him/her?

 

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Dr. Kreiner’s Letter to the Editor of Newsday

By David Kreiner, MD

July 12th, 2012 at 3:29 pm

credit: wpclipart.com

 

Long Island IVF’s co-founder, Dr. David Kreiner responds to the assertion that in-vitro fertilization, or IVF as it’s known, is a treatment of “last resort”. Here is his letter to the Editor of Newsday published on July 8, 2012:

“ Adrian Peracchio wrote an interesting account of in vitro fertilization, a technology that is now 34 years old ["The future is now," Opinion, July 1]. As stated in the article, IVF is a procedure that was born in a hailstorm of controversy and remains today accountable for 3 percent of all births in the developed nations.

A reason for IVF’s rise in popularity is a tremendous improvement in success rates. As reported in the June 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, live birthrates with IVF approximate natural conception in fertile couples. Also, IVF reaches success rates as high as 80.7 percent for couples using donor eggs after three cycles.

Peracchio points out that the cost of IVF, as much as $15,000 in many centers, is often not covered by health insurance, and that IVF was intended as a “last resort” treatment.

This is a misunderstanding of IVF as an alternative only after the failure of less aggressive treatments — such as inseminations with fertility drugs. Insurance providers cover the drug treatment, which is ironically more expensive. Fertility drug treatments can lead to multiple pregnancies and premature deliveries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we could save $1.1 billion a year if single embryo transfers with IVF were performed instead.

It is a shame that the technology developed by Robert G. Edwards for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine remains available only to a minority of couples and is still not recognized by insurance companies.”

Dr. David Kreiner, Plainview

Editor’s note: The writer is the co-founder of Long Island IVF, an infertility care center.

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We’d love your thoughts here on the blog.

But if you’d like to respond to this article on Newsday.com and reply to the thread of unsympathetic comments, the link to the letter is here: http://bit.ly/NcuEwn (I’m guessing a stress-busting vent session will result for anyone willling to take up the cause!)

 

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Donating Eggs Does Not Appear to Affect Future Fertility

By Tracey Minella

April 14th, 2012 at 8:49 pm

If you…or someone you know…is thinking about donating eggs to help another woman conceive a child, that’s an amazingly generous gift you’re considering giving. Maybe it’s something you’ve already done.

Chances are, somewhere along the way, this thought has crossed your mind:

“If I donate my eggs now, will I be able to get pregnant myself later?”

Well, you’ll be happy to hear that a recent, small study conducted at the Center for Reproductive Medicine in Brussels, Belgium reports that, in the short term, donating eggs does not appear to negatively affect the donor’s ability to conceive in the future. Of course, long term studies are needed. But this is good news for now. Read the full article at Reuters Health: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/12/us-egg-donors-idUSBRE83B1EM20120412

According to the study, led by Dr. Dominic Stoop and just published in Fertility and Sterility in April 2012:

“Of the women that indicated having pursued conception after oocyte donation, 95% (57/60) became pregnant unassisted. Before oocyte donation, 41 women in this cohort had already been trying to conceive, of which 38 had delivered a child and 3 (7.3%) had needed infertility treatment.”

Long Island IVF’s donor egg program, dating back to 1988, is the premier donor egg program on Long Island and has been responsible for the birth of many donor egg babies over nearly a quarter century.

Hopefully, egg donors…past and present…will find comfort in this study’s findings and in the knowledge that Long Island IVF  will continue to report the results of future fertility studies that are of interest to its patients.

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Did you donate eggs or consider donating eggs? Did you ever worry that doing so might affect your ability to conceive later?

Photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=15695&picture=flower-and-pregnant-belly

 

 

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IVF With Donor Embryos Can Be Citizenship Nightmare

By Tracey Minella

March 20th, 2012 at 10:59 pm

 

Here’s a lesson on family building and citizenship:

If a child is born in America, it is an American citizen, whether its parents are American or not.

If a child from abroad is adopted by an American citizen, it’s eligible to become an American citizen.

So, you knew those two facts already? Well, did you know this:

If an American citizen gets pregnant from IVF with donor embryos (donor eggs and donor sperm) and delivers abroad, the child is NOT eligible for citizenship …unless one of the DONORS is American!

And good luck trying to prove that with all the confidentiality regulations surrounding donors.

That’s right…an American woman delivers her [donated embryo IVF] baby outside of America and the baby that emerges from the American’s womb is not an American citizen. If she delivers in America, it is an American citizen because anyone born here is. Or if it was her egg, no problem.  What?

Should all the focus be on the origin of the egg and sperm? Should the uterus from which the baby emerged get equal weight?

Don’t believe this? Well, according to news reports, it happened to a Chicago woman who delivered in Israel. http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2012/03/ivf-insanity-is-your-donor-a-u-s-citizen

We’ve been covering the recent “Personhood Amendment” proposals and how devastating such legislation could be to the future of IVF. Here’s another example of government complicating the lives of IVF patients. And, if an IVF patient affected by this regulation leaves the country and delivers abroad, the citizenship consequences are serious.

So, if you are planning on using donor embryos and want your baby to be an American citizen, stay off that transatlantic flight or world cruise any time after the baby is viable and park your pregnant butt firmly on American soil until the delivery. Or see if you can get acceptable documentation to prove the citizenship of one of the donors before wandering off.

It’d be a real shame if after all you’ve gone through to get pregnant, you end up having a baby who can’t grow up to be the President!

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Did you know this? What do you think of this seemingly bizarre regulation?

Photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=12502&picture=fourth-of-july

 

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The Pope on IVF

By Tracey Minella

March 5th, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Long Island IVF has always been committed to making IVF, IUI, and other assisted reproductive technologies available to people without regard to their religion, race, color, marital status or sexual orientation. As a medical assistant, I witnessed this universal acceptance policy firsthand.

So, when any religious leader, major politician, or celebrity speaks out against IVF, it can be exasperating… especially when the comment comes from one whose own life is so far removed from that of the heartbroken people whom he passes judgment on.

The Pope’s recent condemnation of IVF presumably causes infertile Catholics pain and conflict. Isn’t infertility hard enough without hassles from your religious leaders? Shouldn’t you be able to find comfort in hard times from your chosen religion? One of the all-time most annoying comments people make to infertile couples is that “It’s God’s will”.

Should reproductive endocrinologists be considered arrogant and accused of “taking the place of the Creator”* when they are helping people who desperately want to have a child?

For those who believe, didn’t the Creator send us these gifted doctors and today’s technology??

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We welcome your thoughtful comments on how you feel about the Pope’s position. Has your religion’s position on IVF-related issues (whether Catholic or not) affected your infertility journey? [Emotional, heartfelt responses encouraged, but please refrain from hate-filled replies.]

*You can read more about the Pope’s comments here: http://www.care2.com/causes/pope-condemns-ivf-saying-it-is-arrogant-to-replace-the-will-of-the-creator.html

Photo Credit: Public Domain: http://pattyinglishms.hubpages.com/hub/TOP_10_PEOPLE

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When Reproductive Lawyers Hurt Reproductive Medicine

By Tracey Minella

August 11th, 2011 at 11:35 am


Yesterday was a sad day for the fields of Reproductive Law and Reproductive Medicine as word spread of the apparent fall of one of the most prominent reproductive law attorneys of our day.

According to the Los Angeles Times, California attorney, Theresa M. Erickson, along with two other attorneys, was reportedly involved in a “baby-selling ring”, which in a nutshell allegedly sent young women to the Ukraine to have embryo transfers (using embryos created from donor sperm and donor eggs) and then return pregnant to the US, where attorneys improperly offered the unborn babies to desperate infertile couples for fees in excess of $100,000.00, falsely claiming that the original (fictitious) intended parents backed out of their deal with the pregnant woman. The carriers allegedly received payment of approximately $40,000 per pregnancy. Falsified documents were then filed with the court. Read the Los Angeles Times article here: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/08/san-diego-attorney-pleads-guilty-in-baby-selling-ring.html

What?!

This was a woman who had done much good for the field of Reproductive Law. Everywhere “Reproductive Law” was mentioned, she was there. With her striking good looks and wide internet presence, she was tough to miss.

It’s hard not to get caught up in her fan base, especially when hearing she was an egg donor herself in her youth. Truth is when our paths first virtually crossed this year, I was a little jealous of her. She made me regret not specializing in Reproductive Law myself after law school. It would have been the perfect area for me.

The jealousy ended yesterday.  One of us will certainly remain able to practice law, reproductive or otherwise. The other, after allegedly pleading guilty to wire fraud and facing a possible five year maximum prison term, will most likely not. And in my opinion, should not.

I don’t know what she was thinking. I just know there’s no way to justify it. I wanted to believe she was a fierce crusader whose passion for the cause and desire to make parents of people who couldn’t do so without her input, maybe caused her to, well, overstep. Still wrong, of course. But maybe if her heart was in the right place… Maybe somehow forgiveable… But, no.

It’s not for me to try to put some justifiable spin on her actions. And if the reports are true…and she pled guilty…then there is none. The idea that desperate infertile couples …the wealthy ones or those who may have mortgaged their lives away to come up with these alleged $100,000 + baby “ransoms”… could have been taken advantage of by their own attorney sickens me. It sickens me as an attorney and as an IVF mom. With astronomical sums like that involved, how can anyone think it was not all about the money? It was not passion gone awry.

So once again, reproductive medicine takes a hit in the news. Octomoms, Embryo Mix-ups and now alleged baby-selling rings. And it will pass, like the others. But losers like these set back the Reproductive Medicine movement by their selfish actions. No one will know how many potential gestational carriers, surrogates, and desperate intended parents have been scared away due to this news…due to these indefensible actions.

Hopefully, it will serve as a wake up call to prospective parents who need the services of gestational carriers or surrogates to not only hire a reputable reproductive law attorney, but to have the courage to question “deals” that either seem too good to be true or too expensive to be legitimate, even if coming from an attorney. Truly reputable ones will be happy to explain away your fears or encourage a second opinion. Maybe that “little voice” will prevail over the understandable desperation.

So why does this story bother me so much? Is it the lawyer and abuse of trust thing? The apparently cold, calculated, greed-fueled actions of a former egg donor? Or is it the familiarity factor that makes it so hard to process this news? You see, I personally think the Octomom is an idiot. This, however, was a woman I respected, envied even. She was a Facebook friend who contributed on our page. It just feels like a more personal betrayal, though I know it is not. Clearly, if the reports are true, she thought only of herself.

Power and ego topple influential people daily. Fortunately, the innocent parents involved here will keep their children. And restitution should enable them to actually afford to feed and educate them now. The public will be more aware. At least for now.

People love to hate lawyers. And in the face of these allegations, it’s hard to make a case against that today. The law holds lawyers to a higher moral standard than the rest of the public and when they breach that trust, they not only face the civil and criminal penalties the general public would face, but also often lose their licenses to practice law. So they lose their livelihoods, too. 

I wonder what will become of these attorneys.

Will they lose their licenses to practice? Should they?  When this all blows over will they be remorseful? Does that matter? Will they try to make up for it by using their knowledge, talents, and contacts…in a non-legal capacity… for the good of reproductive medicine? Should they be given that chance? Or should they stay far, far away?

Sadly, with the public’s memory, she will probably run for mayor. And win. Or get a reality show.

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What do you think? If you had the power, what would you do?

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Oprah Finale: No Big Loss to Infertile Women

By Tracey A. Minella

May 25th, 2011 at 12:00 am

Relax Oprah lovers. I’m not saying this larger than life woman did not leave a major imprint (and footprint) on society over the last 25 years. She’s been arguably the most influential and successful American woman on the planet. Her incredible generosity has helped people the world over.

But she hasn’t championed the cause of infertile women during the last quarter century… and she could have. There was so much power and influence and charitable dollars at hand, but the consensus seems to be that the pain of the infertile woman was not high on her agenda.

First, she covered the topic pretty infrequently on her national show over the course of twenty five years. And when she did, I think she often disappointed the infertile women in her audience. What a shame that she squandered the opportunity to spotlight infertility in a productive way to huge audiences of women who would likely have done anything Oprah asked of them…from writing legislators, to considering being egg donors, surrogates or gestational carriers, to well…reading a book on how to be a supportive and sensitive friend to infertile couples.

She’s been called insensitive for glossing over Jenna’s post-IVF miscarriage in “Thirty Something in America”.  And simply naming an episode “Wombs for Rent” shows a lack of respect to surrogates and gestational carriers. It’s cold. 

People remember in a mostly negative way the show about surrogates/ gestational carriers in India, and how Martha Stewart was financing her daughter’s IVF attempts to the tune of $28,000/month. Wow, who couldn’t relate to that? I mean, don’t we all have parents footing our IVF mega bills? Really, Oprah? You probably had every infertile woman in America tuning in for words of wisdom and support, and valuable information on infertility. Who do you think benefited from that segment?

A show on sperm donation failed to include representatives from sperm banks or attorneys representing anonymous donors’ rights. Instead, it presented a one-sided position which heavily favored the right of the offspring to know the donor’s identity over the rights of the donor and recipient for donor anonymity in accordance with the agreement under which the specimen was obtained. The interests of all parties…offspring, donor and recipient…should have been fully examined and given equal importance. But that doesn’t always make for good ratings. I guess its okay to frighten off potential donors by worrying them that the anonymity under which they donate may disappear. Wonder how low the sperm bank supplies plunged after that show?

And I thought her show with Suzy Orman and the Octomom was more like Jerry or Montel. People on internet forums openly and harshly criticized Oprah for what’s been described as bullying a woman of questionable mental capacity. Those who missed it can only imagine how bad it was if the woman most of America thought was vile came out as sympathetic! Some viewers claimed they’d never watch her again after that show. Not that Oprah would miss them.

Maybe Oprah couldn’t help letting down the infertile women. She’s chosen to live child-free, which is fine, of course. She just doesn’t “get” us and our selfless, burning maternal needs. Which is too bad for us, because if she’d been so inclined, she could have really made a difference.

Imagine if she did a show with top REs from all over America, and every audience member was an infertile woman. And then imagine at the end, when they reached under their seats, there’d be a gift certificate for a free IVF cycle. Maybe I missed that episode?

What a difference a free IVF cycle would make in a woman’s life. Better than cars and trips to the Outback, that’s for sure. East Coast Fertility is holding a series of contests right now, in which one woman will win the grand prize of a free Micro-IVF cycle. Imagine doing this on an Oprah-sized scale?

Oprah, if you’re listening, it’s not too late to change the lives of infertile women. You can make this right. We can help.

With your financial support, we’d be happy to set up a scholarship, grant program, or other such fund to benefit infertile women. Just have your people call our people…if we had people.

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How do you think Oprah’s show influenced the interests of infertile women? Did she help them or hurt them or have no effect? Maybe I missed something really great that she did for the infertile population and someone can tell me and I’ll reconsider my opinion of her as a great and charitable woman who fell short in a key area?

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