Posts Tagged ‘biological clock’
September 23, 2010 | By: Liz | Filed under: Age and Infertility, Egg Donation, IVF, The Journey to Parenthood, Thinking Out Loud, Third-Party Assisted Reproduction, Treatment
Most people who know me, know that I am in my mid-early 40’s. Turning 40 wasn’t a big deal for me. I have such a baby face that sometimes I have a hard time getting people to take me seriously. Turning 40 for me was a milestone of maturity I had long waited for. You have to take a woman in her 40’s seriously. If for no other reason than you’ve got the mileage to deserve it. And yes, thanks to amazing strides in modern medicine (not to mention Botox® and Viagra®), people are living longer and are taking the time to enjoy their life; people are doing things later in life and enjoying them with the vigor and spirit of someone fifteen to twenties years younger. No longer are we rushing ala “Mad Men” into marriage and childbearing in our 20’s. Women are taking the time to establish themselves and find the right mate. Forty has thus become to the former Twenty-Somethings, what 30 was to our parents’ generation.
There is a lot more fun to be had and work to be accomplished, praise to be garnished and shopping for hot “Jeggings” (well maybe not for me) to be done in one’s 40’s. The “not your mom’s kind of jeans” have given way to a new look for those of us who are fabulous and 40: long hair and tight jeans are acceptable on a 40 year old woman’s body. No longer are these considered unacceptable for a woman of a “certain age”! No longer does turning 40 qualify you as a “woman of a certain age” and for that matter, neither does turning 50!! As a dear friend of mine recently turned 40 and all her friends gave her a shout-out on Facebook (and yes, someone not yet 40 begged my friend to confirm that 40 is the new 30), it was generally considered among her already 40 friends that turning 40 was a cause for celebration. So yes, my friends, your 40’s are a decade to be embraced and not dreaded.
Except for one small, “eensy weensy” factor of which no woman should ignore and most women to my surprise are unaware of . . . have you met
Who or What is the NOvary? Well, let me fill you in! The NOvary is the any-woman’s ovary who has decided not to cooperate with her plans to become a mother. The NOvary does not care if you’re 30, 35 or 40. She can and does reside in all women of all ages. However, she tends to emerge with more Attitude at or around the time you turn 35. And by the time you turn 40, the NOvary has almost universally decided to take over your reproductive system and your Plan. The NOvary defies what medical science and a good cosmetic dermatologist have allowed us to enjoy — another decade of productivity and passion for all things, most especially those career, clothing or relationship related. Because let’s face it, not every woman is ready to, or wants to have a child, in her 30’s. Indeed, we have been taught to wait and enjoy, and to relish life! And we should!! But then as we turn 40 and we’ve lined all our nice little ducks in a row, or decided we don’t need our ducks to be in a row, and we consider parenting, we come face to face with the not-so-new but seemingly unknown nemesis to pregnancy and motherhood:
The NOvary is the Ovary that says NO to all your carefully defined and created plans. In the world of fertility, or rather infertility, 40 is from the reproductive endocrinologist’s standpoint, the death of your childbearing years. The NOvary has not run a slick social media champagne – in fact it’s quite the opposite – she has been enjoying our ride along with us all the while knowing her little secret, and enjoying her secret power. The NOvary is the Ovary that no longer makes healthy eggs and she is so stealthy and sophisticated that you can actually conceive on your own for a few years as she gains her power and comes into her prime. But even though she hasn’t hit her full capabilities to destroy your dreams (or so you think) her influence over the eggs she releases on your behalf will cause you to miscarry, and miscarry again. Lulled into a false sense of security that your eggs are working because you are getting pregnant, she continues to work her evil spell, pushing you farther and farther into her control.
So powerful is the NOvary that she can continue to elude you into believing that you are still fertile even though you’re 40. So powerful is the NOvary that she can fool even the smartest of reproductive endocrinologists who will look at all your Day-3 data, manage to retrieve some very “healthy” looking eggs from your ovaries, only to find that those fertilized eggs and “beautiful” preembryos don’t turn into the baby you are longing for. The NOvary can place the cleverest of masks on eggs that are on the verge of retiring, and making them look as fabulous as you do in your 40 something glory. But the NOvary knows: your eggs have long since passed their expiration date.
How do I know this? How did I meet the dreaded and feared NOvary? Over hundreds (and I unfortunately mean hundreds) of my clients have battled her, failed to defeat her, and then faced the reality that (whether they are Thirty-Somethings or Forty-Somethings, married, career in place, or otherwise just determined to become a mom), if they want to realize their dreams of becoming pregnant and having a baby that they would need to bypass the NOvary altogether.
Yes, we can defeat the NOvary. You still have options and a powerful weapon to defeat the NOvary; one of those options is donor eggs and your success rate using donor eggs is about 50 to 60 times higher (perhaps more than that) than your chances are of defeating the NOvary. Yes, you read that correctly, success rates for using donor eggs are (at some fertility clinics) close to a 60% live birth rate!
Just as medical science has preserved your beauty and created a body that does not look, act or feel anywhere near 40, it has created a technology that can put the NOvary out of business! But be warned, while 40 is truly the new 30 . . . the NOvary has no intention of catching up with the rest of us, and if you want to have a baby and you haven’t yet decided to TTC or the TTCing isn’t going anywhere, consider the fact that she may be up to her devilish deeds.
Celebrate your age and enjoy your life . . . but please don’t forget she’s out there . . . looming in the shadows and finding new ways to avoid detection by physicians and scientists alike . . . and her name is the NOvary!
p.s. up next, another option for defeating the NOvary . . . stay tuned!
August 19, 2010 | By: Liz | Filed under: Current Affairs, Egg Donation, Faith and Infertility, In the News, Infertility In The Movies etc., Peace to Parenthood, Personal Musings, The Journey to Parenthood, Thinking Out Loud, Uncategorized, visualization
Everyone knows that I am fan of Jennifer’s. I actually probably wouldn’t be married to my DH if it wasn’t for some advice her mom gave me a long time ago. But seriously, Jennifer is an extraordinary woman in all respects, and from my perspective even more so for the way she is approaching her quest to be a mom.
At 41, most of know that Jennifer is likely to be facing some fertility issues (although with her health conscious lifestyle and yoga-bod maybe she’s found the way to turn back time, she sure looks it anyway!). While most of us would be doing a little freak-out dance now, and panicking about the ticking time bomb that are our ovaries, Ms. Aniston seems anything but panicked. In fact, she seems rather Zen about it all. And that is exactly my point and what inspires me.
First, the woman KNOWS she is going to be a mom. One way or another the woman has total and complete faith that she will become a mom. Rather than spiraling into depression (as I did and many of us do), Jennifer has seemed to have found a way to let go and TRUST. This is, I think, the gateway to success.
I really truly believe that it is when you completely accept and embrace the concept that you will be a mother, no matter what and no matter how (IUI, IVF, IVF donor egg, gestational surrogacy, adoption, whatever is your path), that fertility treatments have the highest success rates. Study after study shows that the mind-body connection cannot and should not be ignored. Women who are able to be in the place that Jennifer Aniston seems to be in, are the women who are more likely to succeed with fertility treatments. It’s fact not fiction. I know — as does JA — that she’s got an edge on success that I wish more of my friends and clients had: The inner-knowingness of the inevitability of their impending state of motherhood.
Another thing that I think sets her apart from many of us (and I include myself in this group when I was in the first 4 or 5 years of treatment), is that by all media accounts, she seems fairly open to many different paths to parenthood. I am not privy to her conversations with her BFF’s but I am guessing that there isn’t much she isn’t considering about how she’s going to become a mom. That too puts her on the fast track to “mommydom”. Not all of us can be as enlightened and confident as she is, and I am not saying that she doesn’t have her moments of . . . doubt . . . but I really think that the confidence and openness that Jennifer Aniston is talking about whenever she is interviewed about becoming a mom is something that tells me it ain’t gonna be long before she’s announcing the arrival or the impending arrival of a little baby Aniston.
And for what its worth, I think she’s a fantastic role model for every woman, single or married, over the age of 35 who’s trying to become a mom.
ASSUME IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN, AND IT WILL.
p.s. and when you can’t totally assume it will happen, fake it, fake it until you make-it . . . because that’s another sure fire way to get your mommy-Zen fire burning.
May 13, 2010 | By: Liz | Filed under: Egg Donation, Thoughts on Choosing an Egg Donor
As I get closer to finishing my E-Book on egg donation, I seem to have more and more clients asking me some of the essential nuts and bolts questions about egg donation. It is urging me to write faster and get the first of the three book series finished. In the meantime, I have taken an old article I wrote for the then Hartford Chapter of RESOLVE on egg donation, and modified it for this blog post.
Here’s How One Woman Made Egg Donation Work:
Through the gift(s) provided by an egg donor, many infertile women are now able to experience pregnancy; sharing their thoughts, feelings, blood supply and the sound of their voice with their baby; and to deliver their child into the world. The success rates offered by many egg donation programs are staggering (nearing the 70% mark at most clinics), making this one of the more popular options in modern family building for women with diminished ovarian reserve or other issues of egg quality.
Egg donation is often so successful that you can potentially build your entire family from one egg donation cycle. Of course not every egg donation results in a pregnancy; but more often than not a carefully selected donor not only gets the recipient mother pregnant but there are extra embryos frozen for future family building.
Let us consider Janet, and her experience with egg donation. Janet is in her late thirties and after several failed IVF cycles, Janet’s doctors told her that her best chances for becoming a mother were through egg donation or adoption. Janet wanted to experience pregnancy, and so chose to pursue egg donation.
After doing research, Janet decided to work with an egg donation agency, rather than using her clinic’s in-house program. While some clinics are very flexible, Janet found she had more options when using an egg donation agency. By working with an agency Janet had greater flexibility in choosing her donor, didn’t have to share eggs with another infertile family, and would have greater control over her finances. Because she was on a tight budget, most of the agencies she spoke with encouraged Janet to select a donor who lived near the clinic she would be using, thus avoiding substantial travel expenses. Using an agency, Janet also had a greater selection of donors with compensation rates to fit her budget, compared with the fixed rates offered by most clinics.
One donor Janet considered (we’ll call her Leslie), was twenty-six years old, single, had near perfect SAT scores, attended an Ivy League college, graduated at the top of her class and was attending medical school. Despite Leslie’s outstanding academic credentials (which sometimes result in higher compensation rates) Leslie’s requested compensation was within the middle range of both ASRM’s and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies’ (SART) guidelines for egg donor compensation: $3,000-$7,000 per donation. Leslie also visibly resembled Janet and lived near their fertility clinic thus helping to make the cycle more affordable for Janet and her partner. Leslie seemed like the perfect donor.
Leslie, however, had no “track record” donating eggs. She had never been an egg donor before and didn’t have any children of her own. Although statistically, carefully screened first-time (or “unproven”) donors have the same success rates in helping infertile women/couples achieve pregnancy, Janet was concerned that she would spend money to have Leslie donor undergo the first part of the necessary screening process, only to find out that Leslie was not sufficiently fertile and had been disqualified from being an egg donor.
Janet and her partner were also considering matching with a donor named “Julie”. Julie also was twenty-six, had high SAT scores, had attended college, and had never been an egg donor before. Julie was requesting the same compensation as had Leslie ($5,000) and lived near Janet’s clinic. However, Julie was married, and had two-and-half-year old twins and a one-year old baby. Julie was clearly fertile (she had children) and thus would be more likely to produce healthy eggs, which to Janet and her partner meant she presented a lower risk of being “screened out” by their fertility clinic.
Once Janet and her partner selected Julie as their donor, Janet’s egg donation agency presented them with a list of attorneys to help prepare their egg donation agreement, and it arranged for Julie to be represented by separate counsel in connection with the negotiation and drafting of their agreement. The egg donation agreement is a critical aspect of the egg donation process and all parties should be represented by independent counsel. The egg donation agreement will protect your rights as parents and govern your relationship with your donor for years to come. You should have the right to select your own attorney, one who is an experienced reproductive lawyer.
Each egg donation agreement is unique; some agreements provide for complete disclosure of names and addresses and others are completely anonymous. Whatever your comfort level or that of your donor may be regarding future contact, please consider that your agreement should ensure that you can contact your donor in case of a future medical emergency. Among other things, your egg donation agreement should specify your rights to utilize and/or dispose of the eggs/embryos created from the cycle, require that your donor follow medical directions, address what happens if your donor breaches your agreement or if the cycle needs to be rescheduled for some reason (like a death in the donor’s family), and/or how medical bills are handled if she experiences a complication like ovarian hyper-stimulation.
Within four months of the time Janet initially contacted their egg donation agency, Janet, Julie and their respective partners had negotiated their agreement and their cycle got underway. Julie produced seventeen eggs of which fifteen fertilized. Janet conceived a beautiful baby girl on the first embryo transfer and when Janet’s daughter was about a year-old, Janet and her partner went back and did a frozen embryo transfer; this time conceiving twin girls (it is admittedly rare for a frozen cycle to result in a twin pregnancy but in this case it did)!
 Janet is a combination of several of my clients, a fictitious character created for purposes of this blog to help demonstrate a typical egg donation process from a more “real life” perspective.
 Names have been changed to protect people’s privacy.
 ASRM (The American Society for Reproductive Medicine) and SART are related organizations which, among other things, establish ethical and regulatory guidelines that many clinics and agencies agree to comply with. For more information, visit their websites: #www.ASRM.org# and #www.sart.org#
Tags: biological clock, choosing an egg donor, Donor Compensation, Egg Donation, egg donation agreement, egg donation cycle, Finances, infertility, IVF, Parentage, reproductive attorney, reproductive lawyer
May 4, 2010 | By: Liz | Filed under: Faith and Infertility, Peace to Parenthood, Personal Musings, The Journey to Parenthood, Thinking Out Loud
Today I saw a pregnant woman on my way home from dropping off my son at school. I had been in this really amazing place of feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for my life and my children. I was literally weeping at this vision of a train of school buses leaving his elementary school. I had him in the back seat. This was my dream for years and now I am among those whom I envied. I am a MOM. It was the most beautiful moment and I stopped myself to “appreciate” the appreciation in my heart. I stopped myself to thank the Universe. I looked in the rear view mirror and told my son I loved him. Life was full, rich and I was blessed.
I dropped him off and debated which way to drive home. I opted for the way I came so I might catch a glimpse of those school buses again. I could have chosen a faster route home, and a stop at Starbucks, but I wanted to see those buses and feel that wonderful sense of perfection and rightness again. I wanted to hold onto it for as long as I could. Soon, I knew, the day would interrupt and I would be struggling to find that sense of peace and joy. Maybe I should have taken a right instead of the left and gone to Starbucks. My day sure as hell would have been easier.
Because whammo there she was. She was hugely pregnant. She was wearing a white shirt that barely stretched across her belly. She was big and beautiful and I could see her belly button sticking out from a 1/4 of a mile away. With a sudden intake of breath I went crashing from an emotional space of rightness and calm, free falling my way to the depths of despair. Choose the profane word you like most and insert it here. Mine begins with an “F”.
WHY???? Why does this continue to bug me. Why cannot I get past my need to be pregnant. My life is full and rich, and challenging and amazing and hard and beautiful . . . just as it is intended to be. And yet one siting of a woman filled with the life that I have yet to bear and I turned into a weeping mass of depression. I pulled the car over to watch her for a few moments, turned on the Dixie Chics’ song about infertility, and had a good cry.
I imagine my heartbreak this morning was more real because I recently lost an unexpected pregnancy. I spent a little over a week of my life living in wonder at the miracle of nature and my body that I could conceive at 43 without Lovenox and without donor sperm. According to the ultrasound, I was 5w4d when I found out I was pregnant. I didn’t keep the ultrasound because I didn’t want another reminder. I knew the pregnancy wouldn’t stick. That was too much to ask for. But I did live with this beautiful secret for much longer than I expected to until the inevitable . . . .
Now I am struggling to make sense of this accident. My body is still recovering, and I am sure I am 100% normal in my response to that which I long to have, and see all around me, and all too often. It is Spring and I have always noticed that I see more pregnant women in the Spring. It sucks that so far this experience has been denied to me. I sat in the car praying that one day that the Universe will let me carry a child to term. I also accepted the fact that there is a lot of work and change that I realize I must do if I want to realize my dream (another subject in and of itself).
But what shocks me is that I/we can go from such unbelievable peace, contentment and gratitude to the depths of despair so quickly. This is what infertility brings us. I have been thinking alot about this infertility rollercoaster thing we’re on. I don’t think it’s a roller coaster anymore. I think it’s more like bungy jumping. Every attempt we make at conception or adoption is like diving off a bridge with a seemingly thin rope tethered to your ankle. Will the rope be strong enough to pull us up before we hit the ground? Is it short enough to prevent us from smashing into the ground or will we crash and burn? There is so much faith that goes into that bungy jump, so much strength and bravery that we need in order to let go and try and feel the sensation of falling safely. Or to try and feel the the glory of the wind rushing past our face and facing the risks and fears that the “velcro” won’t stick. My velcro didn’t stick this time and boy did I crash and burn.
But I learned something too. I learned that I don’t want to give up my dream of carrying a child. I’m willing to do the work and face the risks inherent in striving for this as my reality. I learned that I am willing to dive off of the bridge again. In fact, I am craving and longing for that opportunity. I am officially no longer risk adverse and have put nothing but my happiness and the desire to fill each and every one of my dreams — not just being pregnant, but all of what I need and want as a person but have been too afraid to ask for because of what it might mean to the rest of my life, or how it might impact the rest of my life. I decided that my children deserve a happy mother, not just a good mother but one who is happy and fulfilled by all aspects of her life and her being-ness. Indeed, I think now that if I hadn’t had the miscarriage I might have failed to teach my children a valuable lesson: to believe in yourself and your dreams. I discovered I am brave and strong.
I know now with a certainty that words cannot convey that my children came to me out of my faith that I would be a mother; that the events and circumstances in my life have all had meaning both in the way they came to be and because of the time at which they were realized. The Universe plays a roll in everything that happens, there is no coincidence to anything that has happened to me. All of it was part of my own divine inspiration. And with that divine inspiration I will get to a place where I am standing on top of the bridge again waiting to feel the rush of wind, the freedom in the free fall and the unknown, and the joy and terror of staring my demons in the face and waiting to feel the cord tied around my leg catch me as the velcro finally sticks. There is more to my journey through infertility. Of that I am certain. Of the outcome, I am certain in that too.
I have spoken with three clients today. All of whom feel as I do. That the journey seems too hard but that there must be purpose to it. One client left me the most beautiful voice mail last week, thanking me for being a part of her family’s journey and telling me not to give up on my own (she didn’t know about the miscarriage but she must have sensed that I have been depressed and struggling with many different issues in my life and my family). She also said that she knew one thing with certainty, that their journey was enriched by knowing me. I was moved to tears. My experience as a woman, as a lawyer, as an infertility patient are enriched by each of my clients. As I help them with their contracts, with their search for a birth parent, with the daily ups and downs that come on this path, I learn new ways of expressing hope, of finding peace in each moment, of being grateful for what I do have and in renewing my faith in what is possible. I am as grateful for each of my clients as I hope one day they will be (or are) for the work that I do for them. But no one has ever expressed their appreciation or gratitude as she did. I know I am doing exactly what I was intended to do and I would not be doing this work had I not endured 4 IUI’s, 7 attempted (six completed) IVF Cycles, 3 adoptions, and now ten miscarriages. It all had purpose.
This morning as I sat in my car having my cry I wondered why it is so hard (as the Dixie Chics sang so eloquently). Is there is a reason it is so hard? And I realized that there is a reason. It is because it’s part of learning that the process doesn’t have to be hard. I can instead choose to believe in the outcome I want. What is hard is the fact that we don’t allow ourselves to believe in what is possible. And in not believing in what is possible, we prevent it from taking place.
It is not easy to go from the pain and grief I felt this morning to having total and complete faith that my dream will one day be a reality. But if I don’t hold steadfast to that dream and believe in believing, the velcro will never have a chance to stick. These last few months I have discovered a place inside me that is strong and fearless. I know without a doubt that I have the power to create my dreams. I am glad I saw that pregnant woman this morning, and I am glad that I spent time weeping for the child I just lost. But that child is a reminder that my body works, that my dream is alive, and that I am moving closer to it. We are all moving closer to it, as long as we create the vision and believe it will happen, we are moving toward its’ creation. In this case, it’s the creation of our child and/or our family.
It’s okay to have hard days. The hard days make us understand how worthwhile the journey is and make us appreciate the easy days more. Today, I am taking baby steps toward my next baby’s steps. I don’t know when, but I do know it will BE. What I can’t do is allow the hardness of the process overtake the belief in its outcome.
If you too are having a hard day, remember that you’re not alone. And remind yourself to hold onto your dream and to make it more and more vivid every day. Your baby, and mine, are coming. In their own time and their own way. As it is meant to be. I wouldn’t have met all these wonderful men and women if it wasn’t for the way it had to be. I wouldn’t change a thing. Not even the baby that I just lost. S/he taught me an incredible lesson. To have faith in myself.
It may sometimes take baby steps to get through the day, or the week or the month. But each little baby step is one GIANT step closer to the reality you envision. Believe yourself. Believe your dream. Don’t give up.
February 22, 2010 | By: Liz | Filed under: Current Affairs, Infertility In The Movies etc., Thinking Out Loud
okay well maybe not very much. She’s tall, lanky and gorgeous and I am petite, voluptuous and on a good day with a ton of make-up and a professional blow-out some might say I am pretty. LOL! But seriously folks, I do have a bit in common with the queen of the tear-me-up ballad. And that is, we both tried to conceive our sons at the same time (okay, so mine took 7 IVF attemps, 5 miscarriages and an adoption and she only need ONE attempt at IVF), and we both want another baby. Here’s where the comparison gets more real. She’s now unfortunately and horribly had a bunch of miscarriages (I am currently counting 10 but my therapist says I shouldn’t count . . . um yeah right!), and is racing the clock to have another baby, and is rapidly approaching the number if IVF cycles I gutted my way through. Even more in common, can it be? Yes indeed! We both sleep with our 7 year old sons in our bed (and don’t even TRY to flame me on this, I believe in the family bed and I WILL take down any posts that disrespect anyone’s style of doing anything on this blog), and we both relish the days we have left with our little boys being small enough and young enough to snuggle with. Okay, so I am not claiming that I am her evil twin double . . . but I know how she feels and I commend her for going public on the cover of People and I wish her all the success in the world.
And I wish me all the success in the world too. But that is the subject of another blog. (would someone please tell me where the emoticons are in WordPress???).