While Mother's Day is a celebration of love for many, it is a day of pain and grief for so many more. There are many faces of motherhood, some less obvious then others. There are mothers whose arms are empty; suffering from infertility, miscarriages or the death of a child. The world doesn't recognize them as mothers but they are and always will be.
The recent news that actress Sofia Vergara is facing a lawsuit from her ex-fiancé over the fate of their frozen embryos is shining a light on the embryo freezing process. If a couple separates and fails to agree on what to do with their frozen embryos, a lengthy and emotionally taxing legal battle could ensue. However, if only eggs are frozen over the course of a relationship, and that relationship ends, there is no dispute over who the eggs belong to and who controls their fate.
Jaime you decided to come forward with your personal experiences and give a voice to all of those who found that trying for a baby didn't go as they planned. You didn't have to share this information, but you did. By doing so, you brought awareness to infertility and hope to women all over the world. You've given a ray of hope to those who needed it amidst the flurry of injectable medications, ultrasounds, and doctor appointments. You've brought encouragement to those who went through the "two week wait" with baited breath only to be heartbroken and disappointed.
Last week, Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette tabled a bill that, if passed, will strictly prohibit women over the age of 42 from having access to in vitro fertilization (IVF). While the purpose of the bill, on the surface at least, is to lessen financial strain on the healthcare system, this particular section of the bill doesn't seem to have been included for that purpose. It seems much more likely that what the Quebec government is trying to save is donor eggs, not dollars.
In viewing a recent "health matters" segment where my amazing colleague Dr. Erica Robinson was interviewed regarding ways to improve fertility, it occurred to me that she, myself and the rest of our expert team at the World of my Baby (WOMB) are addressing aspects of fertility every day that are often categorized as "unexplained infertility."
Egg freezing has sparked widespread media interest after Apple and Facebook recently announced they would cover the cost of the fertility procedure up to $20,000. This caused some serious debate. Some interpreted this as the tech giants' way of giving women more of a choice around career and starting a family; others saw this as a chauvinistic attempt to recruit and retain female employees. To further understand why this is such a contentious issue, here is some background information on the procedure and how it applies to Canadians.
The concept of egg donation is novel to many. For most women over 40, it is difficult to conceive. Some undergo infertility treatments with their own eggs but these days, many conceive through the use of an egg donor. Since it is a private matter, most women do not share the struggles of conception, making it a taboo subject. The invention of egg donation as a procedure was revolutionary in terms of helping couples, who for varying reasons would never have had the ability to create a family. Technology will continue to advance, creating new options for families looking for solutions. But in the meantime, we can all help by staying informed and sharing each others' stories in hopes that one day, fertility troubles will be an issue of the past.
Despite the fact that one in six couples in North America has difficulty conceiving, infertility is still something with a lot of stigma attached to it. Few people openly discuss their fertility struggles, and many people experience shame. As an infertility counsellor, I see many women whose identity, body image, and self-esteem erode as they struggle to conceive while, seemingly, everyone else gets pregnant with ease around them.
Once ovulation is over, pregnancy is not possible. Ovulation, when an egg drops from the ovary into the fallopian tubes, occurs once a month roughly 7-10 days prior to a woman's period. To become pregnant, a sperm must meet the egg during this 24-48 hour timeframe. Couples should have sex prior to and during ovulation as sperm can survive in the reproductive tract for 72 hours.
When I finally got married at 37, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get pregnant. But it happened in a flash on our honeymoon and we had a son. I was one of my only friends who openly wanted a second child. So began the trying; a summer of love. Which then turned into a fall of resentment. Now my sister and I are in the waiting cubicle of an IVF suite in downtown Toronto.
Are you and your partner having difficulty conceiving? Do you feel like she isn't the same woman you married? Does she seem obsessed? Emotionally fragile? Always sad? Angry? As an infertility counsellor, one of the things I find myself doing most often with heterosexual couples is reassuring both husbands and their wives that her extreme reaction to infertility is norm.