The Fast Track to Fertility Not Always the Best Track

www.keytoconceive.comThanks to modern day technology and huge advancements in medicine, a woman dealing with infertility issues does not have to give up on the dream of having a baby of her own. Methods such as ovulation drugs, artificial insemination and assisted reproductive technologies allow women to realize the dream of becoming a mother.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States, over 6 million women deal with infertility issues. Experts typically define infertility as “having one year of regular intercourse, two to three times weekly, with regular periods, without achieving pregnancy.”

Many OBGYNs, especially those working as reproductive endocrinologists and other subspecialties of obstetrics, have started putting their patients with fertility issues on a so-called “fast track to fertility.” This fast-track leads straight to in-vitro fertilization, commonly referred to as IVF, many times overlooking simpler, less expensive and more effective methods.

The Institute for Reproductive Health’s website states that IVF is expensive, costing between $8,000 and $9,000 a cycle. Additionally, IVF may not work on the first try and can result in multiples, especially twins and triplets. The success rate for IVF runs between 20 and 50 percent, depending on the age of the mother, as well as the age of the egg.

These reproductive specialists mean well by offering IVF as an immediate solution to a patient’s infertility issues, but these doctors feed on a patient’s insecurities. “Infertility patients are anxious, frustrated and want action,” OBGYN Ron Thompson points out. “IVF only has a success rate of 30 percent, but for them something is better than nothing.”

Additionally, reproductive specialists need to cover the expenses of research, including the costs of the IVF and sperm capacitation laboratory and a PhD embryologist. Dr. Thompson says these costs can reach upwards of $40,000 a month. More IVF treatments mean more money for that practice, helping cover the costs of research and more.

A new infertility product, new on the market in 2012, hopes to change the fast track to fertility by offering an inexpensive, easy and effective solution. ToConceive, developed by an OBGYN using Nobel-prize winning technology, concentrates on sperm capacitation, the process that allows the sperm to fertilize an egg.

Applied directly to the clitoris, ToConceive gives the women the necessary natural lubrication she may lack and provides for optimum survival and function of the sperm, which leads to an increase odds of conception every cycle. Research has found that with 75 percent of women with fertility problems, the main issue is a lack of natural lubrication during intercourse. For those women experiencing a lack of proper lubrication, ToConceive offers an effective solution.

ToConceive offers hope to the millions of women dealing with infertility issues, without fast tracking to expensive options like IVF.

Dealing with the emotions of TTC

couple pregnancy testWhen struggling with trying to conceive, the body and mind can both take a beating. Struggling with infertility issues can bring on feelings of anger, jealousy, failure and fatigue. Unfortunately, the emotions of TTC can become a vicious cycle…you get stressed and upset because you can’t conceive, and the stress and anger can prevent you from conceiving. Fertility Fitness recently featured an article on dealing with the emotions of TTC. The article also delved into the relational tolls TTC can take on a couple, as well as the financial stresses that can come from undergoing lots of expensive infertility treatments.

If you are struggling with TTC, understand that you are not alone! Thankfully, the taboo of TTC is being lifted, with a number of women blogging about their struggles with TTC in an effort to help others in the same situation. I encourage you to check out some of these blogs; the Stirrup Queens has a list of infertility blogs, organized in different categories like surrogacy, general infertility, loss and adoption.

Here are some other suggestions for dealing with the emotions of TTC:

Spend time with your spouse/partner…take time away from work, life and the stresses of TTC to go on a date or a long getaway weekend. Just enjoy each other and resume some normalcy in your lives.

Take care of yourself…Get a massage, pedicure or manicure. Go shopping. Sleep in. Do something you enjoy to recharge your batteries and take some time for yourself.

Find a listening ear…Find a friend who can listen and be a sounding board for your stress. Just talking things through can be a great way to deal with the stress.

Pool Safety

There was a heartbreaking article in Parenting Magazine this month about a family whose 2 year old son drown in their backyard pool. I couldn’t even read the article because I was sick to my stomach after just reading the summary. However, it is important for all of us to know the realities of these types of tragedies in order to help prevent them from happening to us or someone we know. About a week ago the following article was circulating on Face Book and I think it is worth the time for everyone to read! A lot of the information about drowning victims was new to me and may be to you as well. Since over 84% of drownings in children under 5 occur at home (parents magazine) where lifeguards are not present, this article is particularly important. Please read and be safe this summer!

Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning

In many child drownings, adults are nearby but have no idea the victim is dying. Here’s what to look for.

By 

Updated Tuesday, June 4, 2013, at 7:14 AM

A lifeguard keeps watch on opening day of the newly renovated McCarren Park Pool on June 28, 2012, in Brooklyn, New York.

The new captain jumped from the deck, fully dressed, and sprinted through the water. A former lifeguard, he kept his eyes on his victim as he headed straight for the couple swimming between their anchored sportfisher and the beach. “I think he thinks you’re drowning,” the husband said to his wife. They had been splashing each other and she had screamed but now they were just standing, neck-deep on the sand bar. “We’re fine; what is he doing?” she asked, a little annoyed. “We’re fine!” the husband yelled, waving him off, but his captain kept swimming hard. ”Move!” he barked as he sprinted between the stunned owners. Directly behind them, not 10 feet away, their 9-year-old daughter was drowning. Safely above the surface in the arms of the captain, she burst into tears, “Daddy!”

How did this captain know—from 50 feet away—what the father couldn’t recognize from just 10? Drowning is not the violent, splashing call for help that most people expect. The captain was trained to recognize drowning by experts and years of experience. The father, on the other hand, had learned what drowning looks like by watching television. If you spend time on or near the water (hint: that’s all of us) then you should make sure that you and your crew know what to look for whenever people enter the water. Until she cried a tearful, “Daddy,” she hadn’t made a sound. As a former Coast Guard rescue swimmer, I wasn’t surprised at all by this story. Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing, and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for is rarely seen in real life.

The Instinctive Drowning Response—so named by Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D., is what people do to avoid actual or perceived suffocation in the water. And it does not look like most people expect. There is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind. To get an idea of just how quiet and undramatic from the surface drowning can be, consider this: It is the No. 2 cause of accidental death in children, ages 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents)—of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. In some of those drownings, the adult will actually watch the child do it, having no idea it is happening.* Drowning does not look like drowning—Dr. Pia, in an article in the Coast Guard’s On Scene magazine, described the Instinctive Drowning Response like this:

  1. “Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled before speech occurs.
  2. Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.
  3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.
  4. Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.
  5. From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.”

This doesn’t mean that a person that is yelling for help and thrashing isn’t in real trouble—they are experiencing aquatic distress. Not always present before the Instinctive Drowning Response, aquatic distress doesn’t last long—but unlike true drowning, these victims can still assist in their own rescue. They can grab lifelines, throw rings, etc.

Look for these other signs of drowning when persons are in the water:

  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Not using legs—vertical
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
  • Trying to roll over on the back
  • Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder

So if a crew member falls overboard and everything looks OK—don’t be too sure. Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they’re drowning. They may just look like they are treading water and looking up at the deck. One way to be sure? Ask them, “Are you all right?” If they can answer at all—they probably are. If they return a blank stare, you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them. And parents—children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why.

How Old is Too Old? Pregnancy in your 40s

Because of changing ideals in our society and numerous other factors, many women have made the decision to delay have children until later in life. In the past, women started families in their early 20s. Now, it’s more common to see women waiting well into their 30s and even 40s to start having kids. Some women make the decision to not have kids until later, while others don’t have choice, with fertility issues pushing back their baby timetables. In April, actress Halle Berry announced that she was pregnant at 46. Along with discussing Berry’s pregnancy, this article also delved into the logistics of a pregnancy in your 40s.

pregnant_2176694bLet’s take a look at some of the factors for a pregnant woman in her 40s:

Can I even get pregnant at 40?

Yes! Although, for most women, it is difficult. As this ToConceive webpage states, as woman ages, her eggs age as well. At age 20, an average women has 80 percent of chromosomally-normal ova. At age 45, that percentage drops significantly, to just over 2 percent of chromosomally-normal ova. Studies have found that the chance of a woman conceiving on her own (without the help of infertility treatments) is around 0.01 percent.

What can I do to increase my chances of conceiving in my 40s?

Many doctors encourage women in their 40s who want to get pregnant to get help right away. Other options include using donor eggs from a younger donor. Just like younger women, women in their 40s should take prenatal vitamins, get daily moderate exercise and maintain a healthy diet.

What are some risks of pregnancy in my 40s?

Women in their 40s have a higher chance of miscarriage, as well as higher instances of genetic defects such as down syndrome. To help alleviate these risks, pregnant women in their 40s receive high-risk prenatal care and many undergo genetic testing.

A Strong Marriage in All Seasons- Part 2

Look how relaxed we are!

Look how relaxed we are!

I am so glad I didn’t write this blog last week, before my husband and I took a 5 night trip by ourselves to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary. It would have probably been a much different post. On this side of our trip, I feel like I have so much more clarity and confidence in knowing that being away from the kids for even a few nights alone is good for a marriage.

Personally, I gained two very important insights into the benefits of taking time away from the kids to devote soley to your spouse. First, I think we could all use a good reminder that one day our kids are going to grow up and move out (hopefully!) and suddenly you and your spouse are back where you started- just the two of you. That is one reason it is so important to devote time together as a married couple throughout your whole marriage. That time helps you remember why you fell in love, recall what kind of things you enjoy doing together, even dare I say give you practice being just a couple again. It is vital not to loose touch over the years because you have been so distracted by raising kids, pursuing your career, taking care of your home (all good things!). You need to know the person you are married to when the kids are gone, you have retired and are downsizing to a condo. Take that time now to be a couple every chance you get. This will look different for different couples. Some may plan a date night once a month while a sitter stays with the kids, some may plan a date night at home once a week after the kids go to bed, some may have the means to travel together once a year, etc. Whatever works for you, do something for your marriage while the kids are young!

The second insight that I gained such clarity in while we were away is that absence not only makes the heart grow fonder, but makes you count your blessings! Although my husband and I had a great time together (see above! 🙂  ) we also really started to miss the kids and our little oasis in Kentucky while we were away. Since we had a very relaxing week with a break from work, cleaning, cooking, changing diapers and settling sibling rivalries, we feel ready to go with a new energy. I have certainly been a more patient  mother and been more aware of areas I need to work on since we returned. I feel like the rest and the perspective of not having responsibilities with the kids for a week brought me to a place where I realize that I love all of that, I just was getting worn. I don’t know if I can say I missed my 2 year old son throwing shoes at me while I drove, or that I missed my daughter whining without end or that I missed my 7 year old butting heads with me on everything, but I can say that I  realized I would much rather take all of that to have the opportunity to raise and love my kids than to not have any of it at all!

So please, if you have young kids, or even older kids, don’t let the responsibilities of being parents outweigh the responsibility of being a loving couple- everyone will benefit from you taking time to be together!

Necessary or Nice to Have? Registering for Baby

 

After you finally get that BFP (big fat positive!) it’s time to start preparing for baby. I remember the first time my husband and I walked into Babies ‘R Us….talk about overwhelming!! I just kept picking things up and thinking, “what the heck do I do with this??” Thankfully, I had several friends who had been through the baby registering process and gave me some advice and want to pass that advice on to you. Bear in mind, these suggestions are just my opinion; every baby will be different on what exactly they need. Also, baby gear changes so frequently, there were things I got for my son that didn’t even exist three years earlier when I had my daughter!

What do you think is a necessary or nice to have baby item??

Baby Gear Items

Necessary:

Swaddle Me–we used the Hippomatumus brand, but there are several different ones now….the nurses show you how to swaddle in the
hospital, but we could never get Liesl tight enough so we gave up when we got home…a few weeks later we got a Swaddle Me and she slept much
better at night. We kept Gavin swaddled till he was 10 months because it helped him sleep so much better!

Travel Set–we went with the Chicco Cortina Travel System and LOVE it!! The pumpkin seat fits into a base that stays in your vehicle so you just take the pumpkin seat in and out and the pumpkin seat also fits into the stroller. The stoller is very light compared to other stoller systems and can be put up and put down with one hand…very handy when you have a baby in the other.

Car Mirror–attaches to the car seat so you can see the baby in the rearview mirror.

Bouncer–we had two bouncers; one for upstairs and one for down because we used them so much. Both of our babies slept in theirs for a few weeks too!

Pack and play–not only great for traveling, we used ours as a downstairs crib for daytime naps when they were really little.

Baby Monitors–we didn’t have a video monitor for Liesl but got one for Gavin. Ours is just an off-brand and works just fine…we found too
we really like that its rechargeable by just plugging it in, so you’re not spending tons on batteries.

Nice to Have:

Jogger–We got a Jeep jogging stoller because we are both runners. It’s not only nice for running, it’s great for parks, fairs and other areas where the terrain is a little rough.

Umbrella Stroller–Test them out before you buy to make sure you don’t buy one that’s too short and super uncomfortable to walk with. We love ours that has a basket underneath.

Baby Swing–Liesl hated the swing, Gavin loved it. He even slept in it for a few weeks because of his acid reflux. Just depends on the baby.

Baby Sling–I honestly could never figure them out but I’ve seen lots of moms use them. Helps free up your hands while still holding the baby.

Diaper Pail–We hardly ever used ours because the diapers ended up stinking so bad we took them out right away 🙂

Bundle Me or something similar–especially during the winter months, these go over the pumpkin seat and keep baby nice and warm without having to bundle them up in winter coats, etc.

 

 

A Strong Marriage for Different Seasons of Life, Part One

Happy-CoupleThere are seasons of life. Priorities change from one season to another. So what happens when you move from a season of being a married couple without kids, to a couple desperately trying for kids, to a couple with young kids? How do you keep your identity as a couple intact while these changes occur?

Today’s post will be looking at keeping a strong marriage while TTC.

An article by Conceive Magazine Online had a great suggestion for couples trying to conceive. Dealing with infertility can become an all-consuming matter in a marriage which can become overwhelming. To avoid making your marriage all about your attempts to conceive, schedule a 10-20 minute time each day to talk about it- how about an after dinner-walk or a before-bed chat.

Sharon Covington, Director of Psychological Support Services with Shady Grove Fertility offers some creative ways to keep the romance while TTC. She suggests planning time to be intimate with your spouse, rather than waiting for it to be spontaneous- possibly even planning it during a known infertile period so there is no pressure to conceive (shadygrovefertility.com).

Overall, good communication is probably the best way to maintain a strong marriage during a stage of infertility. Dr. Nate Cottle, an assistant professor of human development and family studies at the University of North Texas says that “when couples are struggling to have children, many individuals have strong negative emotions (e.g., frustration, feelings of inadequacy), and couples should communicate openly and share these feelings with each other. “By sharing these feelings, they can begin to empathize with each other, and often, they may reach a new level of intimacy.”

Next week we will look at keeping a strong marriage during the season of raising small children. In the meantime, we would love to hear from you! Do you have any other great advice to help keep a strong marriage while ttc?