Cancer. Death. Divorce. Miscarriage. Infertility. What these experiences all have in common is that they make people clam up. People often don't know how to respond, what to say, what to do or how to react. So often, people don't respond. They don't say anything. They don't do anything. They don't react. And that is wrong. Some would argue that everyone is dealing with their own stuff and don't have the bandwidth to take on other people's problems. But if everyone's head is down and people are only worried about themselves, that is a sad and cynical statement about society. Are people really that busy that they can't be supportive of others?
No part of me regrets the decision I made to be an egg donor but I regret how I went about it and the contract I locked myself into. I regret not requesting an open donation. I did not understand the gravity of my decisions. I believed I was mature and now I look back and feel like I was just a kid. That psychological screening, many years ago, had "screened" a version of myself I could no longer relate to. I had no way of knowing that egg donation would impact my life the way it did.
There's much to commend in the new policy; most importantly it covers all forms of infertility, regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation or family status. The problem lies in what has not yet been addressed by the province -- critical issues that surround both publicly and privately funded IVF -- that demand attention.
You can safely assume by the fact that I had four children in five and a half years, that I did not have much difficulty conceiving. However, two of my very best friends struggled for years to get pregnant, so while I would not want to give advice to someone who can't conceive, I do feel qualified to give advice about what do to when your friend can't get pregnant while you can.
Instead of accusing women of prioritizing career over family, perhaps we should acknowledge that it is simply more challenging nowadays for many women to find a life partner during their fertile years. For that reason alone, I applaud companies for providing women with the opportunity to expand their control over their fertility.
Fertility clinics with low or average success rates, and those not in step with the most recent scientific advances, faced a conflict of interest. Their patients would be more likely to become pregnant with the help of their more competent and cutting-edge competitors, but the clinics would be more profitable if they did not direct them there. With this new found insight, I no longer thought of myself as an IVF patient and began to consider myself an IVF consumer.
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.