Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sometimes It's Just Too Much...

I haven’t blogged in awhile and have been pondering why I haven’t been motivated and feeling like I don’t have much to write about. My husband keeps telling me there’s so much to blog about but yet I’ve felt empty. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought knowing that there is a lot going on in the world of infertility and began observing my life and this is what I discovered…

I wake up every morning, get my cup of coffee and begin the ritual – emails consisting of Google Alerts on infertility, egg donation, surrogacy and psychological evaluations. I read blogs and news articles. I check list-servers. From there, I move onto Facebook and view the various articles my Facebook friends have posted. Next its Twitter – often repeats of previously viewed articles. At this point, I begin to re-tweet and re-post articles on Facebook that I have found interesting. Next, I often feel compelled to comment on various articles that others have posted. Soon I am noticing that others are reposting links that I have posted, which is usually validating.

Time out now, have to get the family ready for the day – pack lunches, make breakfast and get everyone off to school.

Next cup of coffee – back to checking emails, various alerts, and viewing new tweets. Now I start talking with donors and surrogates, scoring MMPIs and writing up evaluations on the mental well being of others.

I’m still reading Google alerts, tweets, blogs, Facebook statuses and comments of various links. Everyone has something to say about everything. Information is coming at me from all angles and I can’t seem to stop reading and updating. I have a fear I may miss a ground-breaking story but yet there are only 800 alerts about Sarah Jessica Parker having twins via a surrogate – old news now!

It’s lunchtime – peace and quiet – but I can’t help myself – I have my phone, which allows me to check email, Facebook and Twitter – why can’t I just relax and not check - but it calls to me. So much information and I’m still processing the morning information but on Twitter that’s old news already!

More work in the afternoon and soon I have picked up my kids, done homework and made dinner and gotten everyone off to bed – perhaps one last check on the computer and I’m still processing. How can I possibly come up with any original thoughts – it seems anything I might have thought throughout the day has already been posted or blogged by someone else. I feel ignorant for not having an original thought. Funny that I could feel ignorant when I’ve spent the entire day educating myself? Then, it starts all over again the next day.

When I began working in the field of infertility, it was because of my own experience with infertility. I have always said the greatest lesson I learned from experiencing infertility was learning how to relinquish control over the things I had no control of. I remember the years of wondering why I couldn’t get pregnant or keep a pregnancy. I read a million articles, asked a million questions and drove several doctors insane. If I just had enough knowledge, then I could solve it. Isn’t that what I had learned in college? I’ve learned that didn’t work. I learned to take a lot of deep breaths. I’ve learned that if you get too caught up with information that you may just be missing the life you have in front of you.

To my colleagues, clients and friends, the information will continue to come to us. I will continue to stay current but have learned that perhaps I don’t have too much to say because I’m too busy processing all the information. I’m learning to filter – learning to delete certain alerts, not to respond to every post and comment. It’s okay to skip Twitter once a while – like I learned in my training – if it’s important it will come up again!

I’m going to take the time to enjoy my work, my family and my life. Lesson learned - when there is something important to share – I promise I will. I just did!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Professionals May Have Also Been Affected by SurroGenesis USA or the Michael Charles Company

In reading Andy Vorzimer's blog, Better Safe than Sorry, which I have attached below, I realized that anyone who has received a check from SurroGenesis USA or the Michael Charles Company may be at risk for identity theft. In addition to intended parents, surrogates and egg donors, this group may include individual practitioners such as mental health professionals, attorneys, or physicians. It may also extend to other egg donation/surrogacy agencies as well as labs.

I highly advise anyone affected by this situation to read the post below and take action to protect yourself and your agencies.

Please refer to for ongoing information about this case.

Better To Be Safe Than Sorry
A colleague has passed a long a very troubling concern she has: the possibility that Surrogates, Egg Donors and Intended Parents working with SurroGenesis and/or Michael Charles Financial might be potential candidates for identity theft. I share my friend’s concern given the circumstances and magnitude of the scam that was perpetrated.

As a result, if you ever provided any personal information to SurroGenesis USA or the Michael Charles Company, you may want to seriously consider taking immediate steps to protect your financial credit and protect yourself from identity theft. Among other things, I recommend that you contact the three credit reporting agencies and request in writing that:

They add a consumer alert to your credit file stating: “Do not issue credit without receiving verbal confirmation from this phone number: XXX.XXX.XXXX)”.

They do not change your address or phone number on file without receiving written confirmation from you.

They do not release your credit report to anyone without your express permission.

They provide you with your current credit report so you can assess whether there has been any improper activity.

The three credit reporting agencies are:

Equifax Credit Information Services, Inc
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
Order Report# (800) 685-1111
Fraud # (888) 766-0008

EXPERIAN (formerly TRW)
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013-2104
Order Report# (888) 524-3606 or
Fraud # (888) 397-3742

TransUnion LLC
Consumer Disclosure Center
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022

Furthermore, you may want to consider purchasing Identity Theft Protection. There are several companies like LifeLock that might be able to prevent any misappropriation of your identity and financial data. You can find a listing of other recommended Identity Theft Protection services here.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Psychological Issues Faced by Infertile Couples

The following article presents the many issues that are faced by couples who have been diagnosed with infertility. The issues are many and include loss of control, helplessness, depression, financial loss, and marital discord. Couples often forget the importance of communication and what brought them to the point of wanting to have a child. It is important for couples to remember that they are going through this process together, not individually and that there is support available for them.

The Emotional Complexity of Infertility

MADISON - When a couple is diagnosed with infertility, it can be an unexpected crisis in their lives.

"It's not a challenge most couples expect to face," comments Julianne Zweifel, PhD, clinical psychologist with UW Health's Infertility and Reproductive Endocrinology Program.

The uncertainty of the situation is one of the reasons why fertility challenges are so difficult to manage emotionally. Is there truly a problem? If there is, how do you proceed? When do you stop? How do you manage the social and emotional issues related to infertility?

"You just don't know what the outcome is going to be," Dr. Zweifel says. "And that's the most difficult part of all of this."

Because the outcome is uncertain, couples may actually put off vacations, or not look for new jobs because of the possibility of becoming pregnant. As a result, their lives get put on hold indefinitely.

"It can be easy for couples to become immobilized because of the potential for kids," continues Dr. Zweifel.

People can forget what they enjoy doing because they're so focused on the next treatment, or the next step.

Counseling can help couples identify and discuss the significant emotional issues they face, as well as any different perspective they may hold.

Infertility Doesn't Have to Be Isolating

Infertility affects individuals differently, and each member of the couple can often feel as if he or she is going through it alone.

It is common for women to feel somehow defective because they are having difficulty conceiving naturally.

"A woman will be interacting with a group of women at a party, and inevitably the stories come up about being pregnant, or breast feeding, or giving birth, and suddenly she's no longer a member of the group," explains Dr. Zweifel, illustrating how it can affect women even in an innocuous setting. "She can feel like less of a woman, or somehow defective. Many women even fear for the stability of their marriage because they can't readily bear a child."

Men, according to Dr. Zweifel, often deny their difficulties - perhaps because they feel the need to be the "rock" of the family, or that their wives will somehow do better or be stronger if they don't see their husbands' emotional struggles. And if the cause of the couple's infertility has to do with the male partner, the emotional impact can be significant for the husband.

Both partners may feel as if they have to shield the other from their experiences, faking how they're really doing to protect the other. The problem is that not being honest can end up contributing to a sense of isolation.

Complicating the issue even further is the cost of fertility treatments. Many of the treatments are not covered by insurance, leaving couples to face the difficult decision of when to conclude treatment. And often, couples themselves don't always agree.

"Men often feel they have to be the fiscal manager, and set a limit on just how much they'll spend," says Dr. Zweifel. And, faced with mounting bills, there can be significant differences in how far each person is willing to go.

"It's a classic dilemma," comments Dr. Zweifel. "Just how much time and money is each individual willing to commit to treatment? When faced with treatments, couples can discover they’re on very different pages."

Dr. Zweifel encourages couples to examine such topics as the stability of their marriage, any religious concerns over assisted reproductive treatments, the acceptance of the extended families, the reality that the treatments may not work and the implications of that fact.

Regardless of what treatments patients are undergoing, however, Dr. Zweifel encourages all of them to remember that life is multi-faceted. While the challenges may seem overwhelming, there are a lot of good things going on in every life.

"There are common pitfalls for couples facing fertility challenges," Dr. Zweifel concludes, "and getting through them requires a lot of little steps. But in the end, it really can bring couples together and make their marriages even stronger."

Dr. Zweifel is a member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and serves on the executive board for the Mental Health Professional Group. The Group is helping to establish guidelines for egg donors, gestational carriers and oocyte preservation. UW Health’s Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Program operates within the guidelines established by ASRM.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Risks and Benefits of Egg Donation Reported -Most women expressed satisfaction with process, but long-term data lacking

With all the news focusing on women donating eggs solely for financial gain, it is an interesting study that most donors are motivated by altruism in addition to being financially compensated. I screen several egg donors every week and rarely do I come across a donor who lacks altruism and while they may initially be enticed by they money, once they begin the process and are matched with a recipient, they find it is a much more personal experience!

FRIDAY, Dec. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Women who choose to donate eggs to help infertile couples should know the procedure comes with both psychological and physical risks, the first study to examine the long-term effects of donation shows.

Women also need to know that little data is available to assess whether donating eggs when young has any effect on fertility later in life, experts said.

A new study in the December issue of Fertility and Sterility found that almost one in five women reported lasting psychological effects as a result of egg donation -- some positive and some negative. Some women felt a sense of pride in helping an infertile couple, while others developed concerns about the people who were raising their genetic offspring.

Still, two-thirds of women who donated eggs reported satisfaction with the process, the study found.

"Women need to look at the risk involved very carefully, and pay attention to what they're being told about risks, not just to what they're being offered to do it," said study author Nancy Kenney, an associate professor of psychology and women's studies at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The process of egg donation isn't tightly regulated by the U.S. government, as it is in western European countries and Canada. For example, in the United Kingdom, egg donation is viewed in the same manner as organ donation, and is done without compensation to the woman providing the eggs, according to background information in the study.

To get an idea of what the egg donation process is like for a woman in the United States, the researchers administered questionnaires to 80 women -- average age 30.6 years old when surveyed -- who had donated their eggs at least once. The researchers wanted to know what a woman experiences during the process, and to answer such questions as what motivates a woman to donate, how aware of the risks women are when they donate, and how did they feel about donating their eggs several years after the procedure?

The researchers found that both altruism and money motivated the women to donate their eggs. More than 30 percent of the women surveyed said altruism alone motivated them to donate their eggs, while just under 20 percent were motivated solely by cash. About 40 percent of the women said both altruism and the promise of money motivated them.

The study found that women who donated eggs received an average of about $4,000 each time they donated. Although there isn't a set number of eggs harvested during each donation, Kenney said a typical donation may number in the teens.

When asked about the physical risks of the donation process, many women felt the risks involved were minor, and 20 percent didn't recall being made aware of any physical risks, such as ovarian hyper-stimulation due to hormone injections, or infection. Kenney pointed out that this doesn't necessarily mean the women weren't told of the risks; it may simply be that they didn't recall the risks.

"Often risk is not as meaningful to the young," Kenney said.

Women who reported physical problems with donation cited bloating, pain and cramping, ovarian hyperstimulation, mood changes and irritability, as well as weight gain or loss, as common complaints. Several women contended they had suffered infertility, decreased fertility or damage to their ovaries, the study authors said.

The survey also found that:

Seventy percent of the women donated eggs more than once, with most repeat donors undergoing the procedure two or three times. One woman donated eggs nine times.
Forty-five percent of the women were students when they first donated.
Most of the donations took place in California (23), Massachusetts (seven), New York (seven), Washington (seven) and New Jersey (seven).
Dr. Harry Lieman, medical director of the Montefiore Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Health in New York City, said his clinic's own consent form is about 12 to 13 pages long, and that women are definitely informed of both potential physical and psychological risks.

Both Kenney and Lieman expressed concern that there aren't really any long-term studies on the effects of egg donation on the donor's fertility. And, there aren't likely to be any because the process is generally anonymous in the United States and there is no registry of health information from women who've donated their eggs.

Still, most women who went through the donation process were happy with the experience, the new study found.

Lieman said women donating eggs should know there definitely is a "positive side" to donation, and that these women are doing something special to help infertile couples. "They're bringing a whole world to these couples," he said.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Octomom states she doesn't relish the media attention

On the heels of my last post, Nadya states she is no one special and doesn't relish the media attention.

This is an article from front page of L.A. Times Calendar Section

She can't seem to get enough kids, and media audiences can't seem to get enough of her topsy-turvy life. It's all just so octo-licious.
By Kimi Yoshino, Jessica Garrison and Andrew Blankstein
6:30 PM PST, February 27, 2009
The octo-spectacle just won't go away.

And instead of running from the limelight, Octomom Nadya Suleman and her zany cast of characters have thrust themselves head-on into the circling, hungry maw of the 24/7 cable-radio-Internet-Twitter news cycle.

Suleman's media juggernaut reached new highs this week, starting Monday with her ex-boyfriend, who tearfully went on national TV to demand a paternity test. It continued Tuesday with her father on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," accusing his daughter of being "irresponsible." At one point, questioning his daughter's mental state, asked the talk show queen, "Will you help?" Winfrey told him she would arrange for a mental evaluation if his daughter wanted it.

But it didn't stop there.

Radar unleashed videos online over four days, including tours of the family's cramped house and a "video showdown" between Suleman and her mother. At one point, Angela Suleman called her daughter "obsessive compulsive." Sister programs "Entertainment Tonight" and "The Insider" touted their own "exclusive," also stretching their shared interview out over five days.

Dr. Phil devoted Wednesday and Thursday to octomania -- he now totals five episodes in two weeks -- and managed to curry enough favor with Suleman to become her confidant: When Kaiser Permanente hospital officials questioned her ability to take care of the octuplets, he was the doctor she called in distress.

Never one to shun the media glare, celebrity attorney Gloria Allred entered the fray, offering Suleman a house and 24-hour nursing care for the octuplets. And two porn studios made dueling overtures: Vivid Entertainment offered Suleman up to $1 million to star in a movie, while Pink Visual said it would give her a year's worth of diapers to turn down Vivid.

"You can't point to a TV show right now that has a better plot than Octomom," said Janice Min, editor in chief of Us Weekly, which features Suleman on its current cover with an eight-page spread inside. "We have someone who is living her own national reality show for the cameras. . . . The story has every element that scripted TV would die for. Dysfunctional family. Public feuding with the mother. . . . The plastic surgery. The Angelina Jolie comparisons. . . . Now there's a baby-daddy mystery."

TMZ Managing Editor Harvey Levin is more blunt. "Octomom is crazy. People like crazy. Crazy is more interesting than boring. It's that simple."

Suleman's celebrity status is the product of the round-the-clock news cycle. The messy details of Suleman's family life have propelled her to even greater fame and at least some measure of fortune, rather than making people turn away.

"Lindsay and Britney are not on the front burner, so now we have Nadya," said Howard Bragman, the Hollywood publicist and author of "Where's My Fifteen Minutes?" "It's a pure escapist story. . . . It's a freaky story. And by the way, it happened in Southern California, where every entertainment outlet in the world has a crew."

Suleman's plight has continued to capture the public's imagination, in part because each day has revealed another increasingly wacky twist. Interest in a genuinely rare event, only the second octuplet birth in U.S. history, quickly turned from a legitimate debate over medical ethics into a full-blown tabloid drama.

First, it was revealed that she already had six other children. Then, it turned out she is a single mom on public assistance living in a home being foreclosed on. She used in vitro fertilization to get pregnant with all 14 kids. Her sperm donor remains a mystery, and her elusive Beverly Hills doctor may be the only one still keeping his mouth shut. The uncanny resemblance to Angelina Jolie (the full lips, the growing brood) added another puzzling element. Many have claimed she had plastic surgery to make herself look more like Jolie, a charge she denies.

Even the neighbors are making news. One frustrated, shotgun-wielding resident of Suleman's Whittier block burst out of his home this week shouting at the media congregated outside.

"Just when you think you've had enough of her, another tidbit comes out to keep you hooked," Min said.

Suleman has repeatedly said she doesn't want all the publicity. But it's her -- and her parents -- who have kept the story unfolding.

Instead of shuttering themselves away, the family has agreed to so-called exclusive after exclusive.

"People are always complaining about the paparazzi, but if you really want to keep your life private, you can keep your life private," said Elayne Rapping, a professor of American studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo who specializes in pop culture.

In a world of gossip blogs and YouTube, the public is also helping to keep the story alive.

More than 50 Facebook groups have been formed, pro and con. Bloggers of all types are sounding off. And anyone with an opinion can leave a message in response to one of the many newspaper articles or television segments focusing on Suleman and the octuplets.

Some pop culture experts agree that Suleman has become a lightning rod for people's rage and frustration. But unlike the complex world of finance and bailouts, what Suleman has done is easy to grasp -- if not to understand.

"No one is as angry at Citibank, Merrill Lynch, the problems with Wall Street," Min said. "They are angry at the Octomom."

Some also speculate that Octomom, like Michael Jackson and Paris Hilton before her, are bringing us together.

"This is what you can talk about around the water cooler or in the waiting room of the hospital," Rapping said. "It's what we have in common. It's what we share as a culture now. The interesting thing about celebrity gossip is that if this was 100 years ago, this wouldn't be all over the media. It would be actually the people who lived in her neighborhood. They'd be talking about her plenty. They'd be hating her. But now the whole world is hating her, and she's eating it up."

No matter that she's not a movie star or runway model. Today's celebrities need only do something unusual enough to gain notoriety, Rapping said.

But Suleman said she does not relish the media attention.

"I'm not a celebrity," she told Dr. Phil. "I'm no one special."

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Technically Speaking, You Aren't My Mom*

Came across this post by Joey Lye - 

Wondering what others thoughts were on this

FEB 26, 2009

Technically Speaking, You Aren't My Mom*
Peggy Orenstein (Your Gamete, Myself) and Liza Mundy (Everything Conceivable) pull us more deeply into the issues surrounding Assisted Reproductive Technology. It is evident how much there still is to learn about the processes as well as how quickly ART is modifying the way in which society views and accepts reproduction.

Both Orenstein and Mundy raise and discuss the issue of children knowing their origins. In regards to conception via egg donation, Orenstein points out that “most donor recipients haven’t told their children about their origins, though some researchers argue this trend is reversing” (pg 7). The debate of secrecy comes up many times throughout the article – withholding the truth (that parents had used a donor) from co-workers, friends, and even the children themselves was found to be a common decision. It is also made clear that many parents do inform their children when they are the result of a donor egg and “most children’s responses ranged from neutral to positive” (pg 8). These moral debates about whether to be secretive or open about a child’s origin bring us back to the discussion of rights. Do kids have the right to know their true origin? Do donors have the right to meet the children they helped bring into the world?

In Mundy’s first chapter, she brings up a similar dilemma regarding sperm donation. In many of the sperm donation cases, children grow up without a father figure. Do these children “have the right, or the need, to know the identity of the donor who helped bring him or her into being” (pg 20)? If we believe they do indeed deserve to know their roots, how does this get played out? Should the children grow up with a photo of their donor amongst their possessions, or, when they’re old enough to understand, instead of the ‘birds and the bees’ talk get the ‘sperm bank and egg donor’ chat?

Subsequently, if a child establishes a relationship with the donor, how far should this relationship go? What happens in the cases where donors try to become over involved in the child’s life?

Another issue that caused controversy in my mind is how the desire to nurture is completely overstepping nature. If, as Mundy points out, both men and women who are unable to naturally reproduce can now do so with the help of ART, the fine tuned art of natural selection can in no way follow its course. Men and women alike are passing on their genes despite nature’s resistance. “Almost any man who can afford treatment can be a biological father” (pg 18), many women who otherwise could not give birth are now able, and it seems society as a whole is okay with this. Should there be a concern of possible consequences for dodging the bullets of natural selection?

I have touched on a variety of issues here, mainly, the rights of children to know their origin, to meet or build a relationship with their donor, and the issue of overstepping nature’s boundaries in order to reproduce.

Octomom - Really?

Octomom...hmmm.  It's now been a month since, what's her real name, oh yeah, Nadya Suleman, gave birth to the octuplets and I find myself wondering why she is still in the limelight and what makes her so interesting that she has a nickname.  After all, why is she any different than any other woman who got pregnant and lacked common sense - really, she is a single mom that had six kids already - what was she thinking and do we really care?  

What we should be caring about are the eight little babies in the hospital and their well-being.  We don't hear too much about them or other neglected children like them.  Instead, I hear that Octomom was just offered $1,000,000 to film a porn movie.  Now that will make her the leading candidate for PTA mom, right?

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that society has lost sight of what has happened here.  It seems to me (blogging is about personal opinion, right?) that woman came to her doctor to have more children and no one used their common sense.  Why wasn't she offered professional counseling and if she was and refused, why didn't the doctor or medical staff use their common sense to help this woman and her houseful of children.  If she had been schizophrenic or even a crack addict, would they have allowed her to proceed - I think not.  Why is this any different?