What if I never have kids- Aela Mass

After four years, multiple IVF cycles, three devastating miscarriages, and countless setbacks … Aela’s road to motherhood has been anything but easy. Follow her story on Babble and don’t miss the latest chapter in her journey below.

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What if I don’t ever successfully birth a baby into this world?

After four years of infertility, this is a serious question I’ve been asking myself. When I think about not becoming a mother, I can’t help but feel like a failure. Couple that with the stigma from moms and I feel an immense pressure that I’m not good enough unless I have children.

My baby fever has been in high gear for roughly six years, and I’ve been actively trying to get pregnant and stay pregnant for four years. It’s been a long journey, littered with heartbreak and disappointment and more loss than anyone should have to suffer through. As the months and years continue on without making me a mother, I can’t help but wonder what my life will be like if I don’t ever have children.

When I think of the plight of women like me — childless not by choice — my heart aches for us. What happens if you don’t end up with the one thing you’ve worked so hard for? Will I feel like a failure if I don’t have kids? I’ve committed four years of my life so far to becoming a mom. What if I don’t have children? What if I truly can’t have children? I can try and try and try, but there are women who just can’t have kids. What if I’m one of them?

Infertility itself makes you feel like your body has failed you. And even if all logic tells us that it’s not our fault, it sure does feel like it is. My body is mine. My body cannot do what I want it to do. It is seemingly unable to do what it is supposed to do. Maybe there’s some awful societal misogyny laced in this thinking because surely women are so much more than their bodies, but still — even a liberal feminist lesbian like myself can’t help but feel like I’m broken. Like I’m failing desperately here.

Women who are childless not by choice face incredible pressure from society and, more notably, from other moms who, unwittingly or not, make you feel totally excluded. We expect this from society, right? We expect to be looked at with questioning faces and even judgmental glances that we are grown women without children, as if we’re some broken species all our own, or that we’re part of “what’s wrong with the world today.” But it’s the very real judgment from other mothers that hits us most in the gut.

You just don’t get it until you’re a mom.

Talk to me when you’ve got kids.

Nothing validates your womanhood more than giving birth.

These statements hurt. Some women — not all, but some — know exactly what they’re doing when they say these things. They want our lives to be defined by the accomplishment of having and raising children (and, yes, it IS an accomplishment and certainly one to be proud of), but far too many of these women highlight this part of their lives as a way to showcase their rank. They’re the next-level woman you just ain’t yet. And they love to remind you.

Of course, I recognize that my own views are what trap me in these feelings and notes them as shortcomings. I’ve always been successful, in all I’ve done until now. I work for something and I get it — college, jobs, relationships — you name it. I’ve never worked for something and NOT gotten it. Hard work pays off, right? Isn’t that what we’re taught? How can I feel like anything but a failure if I don’t end up having a baby after all the time and work I’ve put into this?

I don’t have the answers to my own questions, and I don’t know how to find them.

To the Women Struggling with Infertility- Aela Mass

I may not know you, but I know what you’re going through.

You see, we belong to a club no one wants to be part of. It’s a club littered with heartbreak, disappointment, stress, loss, loneliness, and sometimes even secrets.

But it’s also a club made up of warriors — you, me, and the thousands of other women who struggle with infertility.

We are your army.

We may never meet — we may never know each other’s names — but we are with you.

We are with you when you find out, once again, that you aren’t pregnant. When the test reads negative, and tears fall at another failed cycle.

We are with you at the first spots of blood, whether they be from the beginning of a new cycle or another loss.

We are holding you when you cannot speak, when you do not want to get out of bed, and when you do not want to be touched.

We are the strength behind your forced smile when someone unknowingly asks, “So, when are you going to have kids?”

We are there with you when you are questioning what’s next. When you’re wondering how much more you can take, and how much longer you can endure this painful journey. When you worry how you’ll ever survive if you can’t give away all the love that’s in your heart to child someday.

We are there with you when the doctors tell you your options. When the room falls silent at the diagnosis.

Infertility.

You have never felt so alone, but you’re not. Because we are with you.

We know your fear. We know your heart better than almost anyone else.

We are with you at that baby shower — another one that’s not your own. We are with you Saturday morning when your newsfeed is filled with yet another pregnancy announcement. We are with you as you pass the baby section at Target, wondering if you”ll ever be purchasing one of those frilly outfits or teeny tiny sock sets one day.

YOU WILL FORGIVE YOUR BODY FOR FAILING YOU, AND FOR BETRAYING YOU. YOU’LL LEARN HOW TO ONCE AGAIN LOVE HER, I PROMISE.
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Your army stands beside you when you Google the fertility clinics in your area. When you start seriously looking into the adoption process. Or when you visit that sperm bank or egg donation center near you.

And your army is with you when you decide.

To try again.

To take a break.

To move on.

To stand tall.

To fall apart.

To give up.

To give it another go.

To change your mind.

And to do all of those things, again.

And again.

The struggle is a cycle.

And you are a warrior. But don’t miss that army of women who stand not only behind you, but also with you.

We will hold you up when you can’t stand on your own.

And you will, again.

You will amaze yourself by the amount of strength you find within. You will be brave when you take yet another injection, track a new cycle, and start charting your days.

You will forgive your body for failing you, and for betraying you. You’ll learn how to once again love her, I promise.

I know it’s dark and lonely and scary and unfair right now. And I know you feel broken.

Not only have parts of you shattered along the way, but this struggle is changing you.

But, now is the time to pick up those pieces and build up your armor again, girl.

Because you are a warrior, and your army needs you.

8 Unfortunately Common Things People Struggling With Infertility Are Tired Of Hearing

You may not realize it, but you probably know someone who has struggled with infertility.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 12% of women aged 15-44 have impaired fertility.

At LittleThings, we love to write about successful infertility stories — ones about couples who finally are able to have children after years and years of trying.

Unfortunately, not every infertility story ends positively. Many people are never able to have children, even if they pursue fertility treatments and other options.

In the United States, 7.3 million people have used infertility services; that means that even if you think it doesn’t affect anyone you know, you may be wrong.

Not being able to get pregnant is emotionally and mentally (and sometimes physically) challenging for couples, and they may turn to friends and family for support during this time.

If anyone you know is struggling with infertility, it’s important to know what you can say to help them, and what you shouldn’t say.

#1: “Are You Pregnant Yet?”
If you know someone is having a hard time getting pregnant, asking if they’re expecting yet can come off as insensitive.

This is a question they probably ask themselves every single day, and it can be hard to admit to others that no, they still aren’t pregnant.

They’re trying as hard as they can to get pregnant, so they’ll definitely tell you when it happens!

#2: “It Was So Easy For Me To Get Pregnant — I Didn’t Even Mean To!

We all know tons of women who got pregnant accidentally, so it’s not necessary to remind someone who is dealing with infertility that it’s so easy for other people.

Saying something like this may imply that there is something wrong with your friend for not being able to get pregnant.

#3: “You Should See It As A Blessing, Kids Are Hard Work”

If people are trying to get pregnant, chances are they know just how much work kids are.

When people intentionally work on getting pregnant, they’ve usually thought about all the implications having a child has — and they’ve decided it’s absolutely worth it.

#4: “You Should Stop Stressing And Relax, Then It’ll Happen”
When people begin trying to get pregnant, they’re usually relaxed and excited about the prospect of starting a family. It isn’t until later, when it doesn’t happen, that they start to get worried about it.

And stressing over it isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it helps the couple assess the situation appropriately and start to come up with alternate plans.

5. “Why Don’t You Just Adopt?”

Suggesting adoption may seem like a thoughtful thing to do, but it can imply that the couple should just give up on the prospect of getting pregnant altogether.

It’s also important to remember that for many people adoption isn’t a viable option. Even if adopting a child is possible, it’s not the route some people want to go to get to parenthood.

#6: “You Should Get A Dog Instead”
Like children, dogs provide people with unrequited love. They’re a challenge to raise and even cause similar stress for their owners, but they’re not the same.

Dogs are wonderful companions, but to imply that a pet is a suitable replacement for a baby isn’t the most sensitive.

#7: “You Can Have My Kids If You Want!”
ften, people try to deflect the difficult infertility conversation by joking that they’d happily give up their own kids.

It may seem like a harmless joke, but it can make people feel worse about their own situation.

#8: “If It’s Meant To Happen, It Will”
Saying that it’s just “not meant to be” can be incredibly hurtful to someone trying to get pregnant.

You might intend for it to be a kind statement, but it’s often taken to mean that the universe doesn’t want them to have children.

What To Do Instead

Instead of saying these potentially hurtful statements, try to lend an ear. Sometimes all someone needs is a friend to listen to their troubles and provide comfort.

Try to empathize with their situation, and don’t bring up babies and kids when it’s not necessary. If your friend brings up their own infertility issues, try to be compassionate and ask if there’s anything you can do to help or support them. Just explaining that you understand they’re struggling and want to be there for them is often enough.

If you think everyone should understand more about infertility, please SHARE this article with your friends.

A Secondary Infertility Mazel Tov- Jewish Moms

My friend Goldy got married at 19, had her first son at 20 and her second at 21. And now, for 20 years (or, to be more accurate, 240 months), she and her husband have been hoping and praying (and going through treatment after treatment–conventional and alternative) to have another child.
The doctors are mystified by Goldy’s situation. The only thing they know for sure is that everything they’ve tried so far hasn’t worked.
In her close-knit Chassidic community, there is a committee that arranges for women to prepare breakfasts for mothers who have given birth. And Goldy is one of this initiative’s most active volunteers. For years, a few times a month, she has woken up before sunrise to prepare a hot breakfast for her neighbor before she leaves for work at a local cheider, wrapping up the breakfast with ribbons to brighten up her neighbor’s hospital room and day.
One morning I had a chance to see Goldy preparing one of her beautiful breakfast packages, and it was one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever witnessed– to see the uncomplicated joy and care with which Goldy prepared breakfast for another mother whose arms were blessedly full while hers were still empty.
And then, b”H, last week I got such a wonderful Email from Goldy. Subject line: Mazal tov!
So this morning I went to the store to choose out a present for her. For my friend, who for the last 20 years has been waiting to be blessed with another child, year after year, month after month.
And now, b”H, she has been.
With tears in my eyes I wrapped up my present with cellophane and ribbons, a cup that reads: “To Grandma, with Love.”

NOTE HERE- HER DAUGHTER HAD A BABY- HENCE THE MAZEL TOV GRANDMA.

How To Buy A Baby- CJN

How to Buy a Baby is an original CBC television comedy series that premiered on Nov. 13, with the goal of revolutionizing the way people think and talk about infertility.

The 10-episode series is largely drawn from the experiences of its creator, Wendy Litner, a 37-year-old lawyer-turned-writer. The comedy is produced by Litner’s law school colleague, Lauren Corber, who is now the president and producer of LoCo Motion Pictures Inc.

“When Wendy told me about the concept, I wanted to be involved immediately. I know how talented and hilarious she is,” said Corber.

The darkly funny and achingly honest series took two years to complete. Its creators hope it will shatter some of the misconceptions about infertility and in vitro fertilization (IVF).

“Having come from a long line of funny Jewish matriarchs, I tried to channel my infertility heartbreak into a comedy about the subject,” said Litner.
According to the government of Canada, one in six Canadian couples struggles with infertility.

“We are the only comedy about infertility out there and infertility touches everybody. Either you struggle with infertility, or you know somebody that does. It has a broad appeal,” said Corber.

The show is about a 30-something couple, Jane Miller (played by actor Meghan Heffern) and her Jewish husband Charlie Levinson (played by Marc Bendavid), who have given up on making a baby naturally.

Litner is a Toronto Jewish day school alumni who met her husband at Camp Shalom when they were just 11 years old.

“We were best friends. We would spend free swims sitting on the dock, discussing the names of our future children. We had always assumed having a baby would be a matter of our choosing – something we would get to enjoy together when we were ready. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case and, as we tried to have a baby, it became clear that we would need medical assistance, if we were to succeed in becoming biological parents. Luckily, our incredible doctor also happened to be our camp counsellor all those years ago,” said Litner.

She wrote How to Buy a Baby while in the throes of infertility treatments, not knowing if she would ever get to be a mother.
The first episode mirrors the beginning of the journey that Litner and her husband found themselves on.

“It was awkward to find myself bent over our bed, my pants pulled down, waiting for my husband to … inject me with hormones. It was embarrassing, sure, but instead of feeling shame, I felt proud at how we were handling it all together. I decided to create a comedy about that: a husband and wife who love each other and make each other laugh as they go through IVF,” said Litner.

“It was sort of cathartic to get to tell the story. Every time we had another bill at the fertility clinic, it felt like we were trying to buy a baby; hence the title.”

Why write a comedy about something that causes pain and relationship turmoil?
“I made a comedy about the subject because while infertility is heartbreaking, it’s also absurdly funny: from daily transvaginal ultrasounds, to well-meaning friends and family asking if you’re ‘doing it right.’ I’ve seen the humour in infertility. I’ve seen the romance, the ridiculousness and the sheer love of it all, to make a baby in a doctor’s office. I’m hoping to give others going through it a much-deserved laugh and to show a window into the process in a warm way for everyone else,” explained Litner.

In the second episode, the family is gathered at the Shabbat table, sipping chicken soup and discussing ovaries and sperm and whether or not this round of IVF is going to work. Charlie’s family offers help in all the wrong ways.

“It’s awkward conversation and it’s their life,” said Litner.

She concluded by saying that reducing the stigma in the community starts with talking about infertility: “I feel people need support and the more we talk about it, the more we can provide that in the form of laughter.”

How to Survive Working in a Child Related Field- While Battling Infertility- Cece Vandermarks

You know when someone says “if you love your job, it’s not really work”? Well I have the two most amazing jobs in the world! The first is working with children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and their families planning super fun, family outings. For my second “job” I run a small theatre school in my village – we offer summer camps, drama classes, workshops, dance classes etc. Both of these jobs mean that I spend a lot of time with amazing kids and their families. And I love it!

What’s not to love? Watching a child take their first steps on stage, listening to a boy with ASD speak with excitement about what he’s just seen at the museum, watching parents beam with pride as their child speaks their first line, cooks their first meal, bounces on a trampoline for the first time, and so many other reasons. I get to see children and their parents at their best, their happiest, their proudest. It’s a wonderful feeling to be included in these milestones, these magic moments.

And for the longest time I told myself that it was enough. It was enough to have this sideline view of family life. To be there for the tiny moments that feel huge. To be child adjacent.

When I started down this career path it was because I love kids, theatre and outings, and with both jobs being part time it was ideal! The thing I was not ready for however, was the loneliness it would bring out in me. The self doubt and the insecurity. As a theatre teacher or camp leader, who was I to tell a parent something about their child’s behaviour that day? I’m not a parent, what do I know? Sure I’d had classes on those topics and had been teaching for years, but somehow it sorta felt different now. When I was teaching English as a Second Language in my twenties I had all the self confidence that I needed to get along, what was different now? It all boiled down to that fact that in my twenties I wasn’t ready for kids. I knew I wanted them, but it was a “in the future” kind of thing. I was travelling the world, working exciting and all-consuming jobs, going to parties followed by brunches – you know, generally living in the moment. Also, when I was teaching in my twenties, I was much less likely to be asked about my own children. Now I’m at an age where most people assume I am a mother. Just this weekend an amazing father said to me “I thought you would bring your kids this time”. I made some feeble excuse and ushered him onto the waiting boat with his gorgeous family. Then I turned, took a deep breath and had a moment.

Just hearing that question… the one all people who struggle with infertility fear – “do you have kids?”. That one. Those four small, innocent words. The four words that can ruin my day. Figuring out how to answer that has been a struggle for me. I’m sure many people think I could easily just say no, but it really isn’t that easy. It depends on the day – am I coping that day? have I thought about having kids of my own at all? did something super cute just happen and I’m wistfully pining for my own kids in my head? A flurry of things go through my head before I can answer. And “no”, while it may seem like the simplest and easiest answer to many, is not easy for me to say.

So for awhile I started to answer with “No, I’m infertile.” But that was even worse. Seriously, the look on people’s faces – it was like I had wounded them. Like I was being mean, or hurting them. Which in turn made me kinda tetchy, afterall why were they wounded I’m the one who’s infertile! I knew it was concern and care, but it cut too deep; the empowerment I felt saying it was not enough to prepare me for the follow-up conversation.

Time to try another approach. I would answer “Not yet” or “Not right now”, I would pretend I had misheard or had to work on something else and couldn’t talk right then – basically I tried it all. And it all failed. Some worse than others. My hubby jokingly said that when people came up to me and asked “Which one’s yours?” at events, I should look slowly around the room and then answer in an odd voice “I haven’t decided yet”. His dark sense of humour made me laugh, but I can honestly say I never tried that approach!

In then end, I went with “No” or “No we don’t have kids” when most people ask. When I’m ready, or with people who I feel I can open up to, I answer “No, I’m infertile” and we talk, and it’s good.

I suppose as I come to terms with the fact that I will never be a parent, I am finding it easier to talk about. Easier to be honest about. Easier to be child adjacent – and loving every minute of it!
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An Open Letter to the Trying To Conceive Sisterhood- Jessica Melcher

If you’re reading this because it’s addressed to you, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that even though you make it your mission to stay positive and grateful, you wake up every day with an ache in your heart that never seems to go away.

I’m sorry that people can be so unrelenting and naïve about your struggle with infertility.

“When are you having kids?”

“You just need to relax, and it’ll happen!”

“Have you tried tracking your cycle?”

“You should really just adopt.”

“Maybe your body is trying to tell you something.”

I’m sorry that when people are so unrelenting and naïve, you have to calm the lump in your throat before it turns into sobs, the anger in your heart before it turns into rage, and answer with dignity and grace when it feels like all you can muster is something far less becoming.

I’m sorry that you have to walk by that unfinished “guest room” every day and be reminded it was supposed to be a nursery a long time ago.

I’m sorry your relationship has been tested to the limits by everything you’ve had to endure together.

I’m sorry opening every baby shower invitation brings tears to your eyes when it should bring happiness to your heart.

I’m sorry you’ve been unable to make your parents grandparents when you know they’d be the best grandparents ever. I’m sorry you feel guilty because of it.

I’m sorry you have to watch the world go on around you when it feels like your whole world is falling apart.

I’m sorry that the emotional burden is not the only one you carry.

I’m sorry you have to put yourself into debt just to create the family you’ve always dreamed you’d have.

I’m sorry a diaper commercial can make you cry because you’ve held it together just long enough to get through the day without anyone knowing the sadness you carry.

I’m sorry you feel like your body has failed you.

I’m sorry you feel like you’re in this struggle alone.

But you’re not. I’m here with you.

The truth is, you don’t need me to tell you all the reasons why I’m sorry to be a part of this TTC sisterhood — you live it every day. You carry the same heartache and torment that I do. Right now, maybe what you need are all the reasons why I’m not sorry.

I’m not sorry you have learned to love yourself for your strength and courage. This journey is not easy, but you still get up every morning and find your inner strength even when it feels like there is none left.

I’m not sorry you have learned to be vulnerable with those whom you love. Sharing a private struggle like infertility can be terrifying, but vulnerability is not a weakness; it is heroic.

I’m not sorry this struggle will make you an even better mom someday. You have learned patience and compassion and gained a gentleness that can only be created through a heartache like this one.

I’m not sorry that your pain has helped you to find a voice to help others when they feel alone.

I’m not sorry that you’ve found the real meaning of friendship by learning to let some relationships go while growing others that are more fulfilling.

I’m not sorry you have learned how to really be there for your partner when they need you. I’m not sorry you’ve learned to let this heartache bring you closer instead of letting it tear you apart.

I’m not sorry you have had to learn how to put yourself first, placing your own needs before the needs of others.

I’m not sorry you have had to learn how to put all of your faith into something that carries no certainty, no guarantees but have learned to appreciate that there’s always a chance — always.

I’m not sorry that your infertility struggle has forced you to be grateful for all you do have in this life, and I’m not sorry that it’s taught you to appreciate the small things.

I’m not sorry that we’re all in this together.

Hundreds or even thousands of miles apart, we are all living the same story. So even if it’s just for today or even just in this moment, try not to be sorry you are a part of our sisterhood. We are some of the strongest women I know, and we’re all in this together.

Mind Your Own Womb- Nadirah Angail

Somewhere there is a woman: 30, no children. People ask her, “Still no kids?” Her response varies from day to day, but it usually includes forced smiles and restraint.

“Nope, not yet,” she says with a chuckle, muffling her frustration.

“Well, don’t wait forever. That clock is ticking, ya know,” the sage says before departing, happy with herself for imparting such erudite wisdom. The sage leaves. The woman holds her smile. Alone, she cries…

Cries because she’s been pregnant 4 times and miscarried every one. Cries because she started trying for a baby on her wedding night, and that was 5 years ago. Cries because her husband has an ex-wife and she has given him children. Cries because she wants desperately to try in vitro but can’t even afford the deposit. Cries because she’s done in vitro (multiple rounds) and still has no children. Cries because her best friend wouldn’t be a surrogate. “It would be too weird,” she said. Cries because her medication prevents pregnancy. Cries because this issue causes friction in her marriage. Cries because the doctor said she’s fine, but deep inside she knows it’s her. Cries because her husband blames himself, and that guilt makes him a hard person to live with. Cries because all her sisters have children. Cries because one of her sisters didn’t even want children. Cries because her best friend is pregnant. Cries because she got invited to another baby shower. Cries because her mother keeps asking, “Girl, what are you waiting on?” Cries because her in-laws want to be grandparents. Cries because her neighbor has twins and treats them like shit. Cries because 16-year-olds get pregnant without trying. Cries because she’s an amazing aunt. Cries because she’s already picked out names. Cries because there’s an empty room in her house. Cries because there is an empty space in her body. Cries because she has so much to offer. Cries because he’d be a great dad. Cries because she’d be a great mother, but isn’t.

Somewhere else is another woman: 34, five children. People say to her, “Five? Good lord, I hope you’re done!” And then they laugh… because those types of comments are funny. The woman laughs too, but not in earnest. She changes the subject, as she always does, and gives the disrespect a pass. Just another day. Alone, she cries…

Cries because she’s pregnant with another and feels like she has to hide the joy. Cries because she always wanted a big family and doesn’t see why people seem so disturbed by it. Cries because she has no siblings and felt profoundly lonely as a child. Cries because her Granny had 12 and she’d love to be just like her. Cries because she couldn’t imagine life without her children, but people treat her like they’re a punishment. Cries because she doesn’t want to be pitied. Cries because people assume this isn’t what she wanted. Cries because they assume she’s just irresponsible. Cries because they believe she has no say. Cries because she feels misunderstood. Cries because she’s tired of defending her private choices. Cries because she and her husband are perfectly capable of supporting their family but that doesn’t seem to matter. Cries because she’s tired of the “funny” comments. Cries because she minds her own business. Cries because she wishes others would mind theirs. Cries because sometimes she doubts herself and wonders if she should have stopped two kids ago. Cries because others are quick to offer criticism and slow to offer help. Cries because she’s sick of the scrutiny. Cries because she’s not a side show. Cries because people are rude. Cries because so many people seem to have opinions on her private life. Cries because all she wants to do is live in peace.

Another woman: 40, one child. People say to her, “Only one? You never wanted any more?”

“I’m happy with my one,” she says calmly, a rehearsed response she’s given more times than she can count. Quite believable. No one would ever suspect that alone, she cries…

Cries because her one pregnancy was a miracle. Cries because her son still asks for a brother or sister. Cries because she always wanted at least three. Cries because her second pregnancy had to be terminated to save her life. Cries because her doctor says it would be “high-risk.” Cries because she’s struggling to care for the one she has. Cries because sometimes one feels like two. Cries because her husband won’t even entertain the thought of another. Cries because her husband died and she hasn’t found love again. Cries because her family thinks one is enough. Cries because she’s deep into her career and can’t step away. Cries because she feels selfish. Cries because she still hasn’t lost the weight from her from her first pregnancy. Cries because her postpartum depression was so intense. Cries because she can’t imagine going through that again. Cries because she has body issues and pregnancy only exacerbates it. Cries because she still battles bulimia. Cries because she had to have a hysterectomy. Cries because she wants another baby, but can’t have it.

These women are everywhere. They are our neighbors, our friends, our sisters, our co-workers, our cousins. They have no use for our advice or opinions. Their wombs are their own. Let’s respect that.

What Makes a Healthy Egg?- Todays Parent

What are doctors looking for?
Doctors can’t really tell if an egg is high or low quality simply by looking at it. There may be abnormalities, such as discolouration or open spaces in the eggs, but these irregularities may not affect the egg’s ability to be fertilized, says Robert Casper, a fertility specialist at Trio Fertility in Toronto.

All mature eggs are fertilized and the embryos are cultured for five days (until they reach the blastocyst stage). If the embryo makes it to the blastocyst stage, there is an estimated 50/50 chance that it will have normal chromosomes and result in a baby. “What we’re really looking at is how the egg fertilizes and develops into an embryo,” says Casper. “If the embryo implants, it doesn’t really matter what the egg looks like; it means the egg was normal and the quality was okay.”

“The primary determinant of egg quality over the course of a woman’s reproductive life is her chronological age,” says Ari Baratz, a fertility specialist at the Create Fertility Centre in Toronto. As women age, the quality of their eggs diminishes, and so do the chances of getting pregnant without assistance, he says. Typically, the peak of good-quality eggs is around the age of 25, with quality declining after the age of 35.

What matters more: quality or quantity?
Both quality and quantity matter. It’s possible that a woman could have difficulty conceiving if she has a large quantity of poor-quality eggs or a limited number of high-quality eggs. But having a good supply of eggs can be helpful, says Baratz, because having a large quantity usually implies that some eggs will be viable in women under 35. In any given egg population, not all the eggs will be healthy, so it’s good to have a decent number to work with. (Women over 40 may experience egg-quality issues, even if tests show that they have lots of eggs.)

What is ovarian reserve, and how do you test for it?
Ovarian reserve is the technical term for the number of eggs a woman has. A woman’s ovarian reserve is assessed via ultrasound and various hormone tests. One of these hormones tests is for Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH), a hormone that helps indicate if a woman has a lot of eggs or not. The higher the amount of AMH found in a woman, the more eggs she has. “If the AMH is quite low, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the remaining eggs are poor quality,” says Casper. “It doesn’t predict pregnancy. But it does mean that people may run out of eggs early or may not respond well to fertility medications.”

Can you still get pregnant if you have poor egg quality?
As Casper says, it isn’t an all-or-nothing situation. “Usually the percentage of normal eggs decreases over time, but it doesn’t go to zero necessarily until people probably get into the age range of 44 or 45,” he explains.

While there really is no single treatment to improve egg quality, you still have options. “One could move to donor eggs, or eggs from another female, as another treatment for very poor egg quality,” says Baratz, “but that would be after multiple times of treating a woman with her own eggs if all else failed.”

What can affect the quality of an egg?
Smoking, drugs, prolonged exposure to environmental contaminants or pollutants and intense radiation or chemotherapy can lead to a decrease in healthy and normal eggs, as well as a reduction in the number of eggs.

Are there ways to improve the quality of an egg?
Some studies have shown that coenzyme Q10 and vitamin D can help improve the quality of eggs. Coenzyme Q10 increases energy production by mitochondria (the battery of the egg), which increases the likelihood of a good chromosomal makeup for the eggs and boosts the chances of pregnancy, explains Casper. Also, research has linked a vitamin D deficiency with lower pregnancy rates.

What I’d Wish I’d Known Before My IUI- Todays Parent

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What I wish I’d known before my first IUI
From how long it takes to what it feels like, here’s a first-hand primer on IUI.

Jun 21, 2016 Sarah Kelsey 0

When our doctor first suggested that we try intrauterine insemination (IUI), I was actually excited. My husband and I had been trying to conceive for a while without any luck. Our tests turned up relatively normal and we were told that we should be able to conceive, yet month after month, I failed to conceive. The diagnosis was frustratingly vague—unexplained infertility (with potential male factor)—so IUI offered a bit of hope. Here was something that could potentially help us have a child.

IUI is one of the first assisted reproductive technologies typically recommended by a doctor. It’s commonly used when the male partner is experiencing low sperm count or decreased sperm motility, but it can also help those suffering from unexplained infertility, endometriosis or cervical mucus issues and assist same-sex couples. I liked that the procedure is relatively non-invasive: It simply places healthy sperm as close to the Fallopian tubes as possible, giving them a bit of a head start in the race toward the egg.

Like all things to do with infertility, navigating the IUI process was overwhelming. I quickly became emotionally, physically and financially invested in something I didn’t know a whole lot about. I had a ton of questions: What happens? How does it feel? Will it work?

Here’s what I wish I’d known before doing my first IUI.

What happens?
Step 1: The checkup
On Day 3 of my cycle, I did blood tests that checked my hormone levels, and my husband had his sperm analyzed to gauge the concentration, motility and morphology of his little guys. We had two options: a medicated IUI or a natural one. The former involves taking fertility drugs so that more than one follicle (typically two or three) matures and improves the odds of pregnancy; the latter doesn’t involve medication (so only one egg is released). Because it was my first fertility treatment and we didn’t want to do anything too invasive, we chose a natural IUI.

Step 2: Cycle monitoring
I began daily cycle monitoring at my clinic on Day 10. I had to arrive early—between 7 and 8:30 a.m.—for blood work and an internal ultrasound every day for a week. Though I knew the process would give my doctors insight into how my hormone levels and follicles were developing, I couldn’t help but feel like a pincushion. By Day 17, my nurse let me know that a mature follicle was ready to ovulate. (It was about time—I found this gruelling.)

Step 3: Trigger shot
My trigger shot was the first hormone injection I had ever received. I was given the pregnancy hormone hCG, which helps follicles mature and ensures that ovulation occurs within 36 hours. Doctors administer this hormone to help time insemination—they want sperm to be waiting for the mature egg (an egg survives for only 12 to 24 hours post-ovulation, while sperm can live in the Fallopian tubes for days). I don’t mind needles, but I was used to getting them in my arm, not my abdomen. While the trigger shot didn’t hurt, I know I flinched because it felt so weird (my hubby maintains that I took the injection like a boss).

Step 4: Pre-procedure
On Day 18 around 7 a.m., we arrived at the clinic for IUI day. To say that we were nervous is a bit of an understatement—neither of us was sure what to expect. Would the procedure hurt? Would my husband be allowed in the room with me? There was also this great sense of anticipation—we desperately wanted the IUI to work.

I did my usual blood tests and internal ultrasound and my husband produced a semen sample. We were told to return to the clinic around noon—this gave the andrologist time to “wash” his swimmers. (Sperm washing is the procedure that separates the sperm from the semen and weeds out the low-quality “tadpoles.”) To ensure that there is enough sperm available to wash, men are typically asked to abstain from sex or masturbation for two to four days before an IUI. One hour before the procedure, I had to consume one litre of water, as a full bladder helps the doctor guide and angle the catheter into the uterus.

The wait between our early-morning appointment and the procedure was odd. At around 8 a.m., we found ourselves wandering around Toronto with nothing to do for four hours. For a while, we had no idea how to spend our time—it was clear that we both wanted the IUI to be over. We filled up our car with gas, bought groceries and treated ourselves to brunch (an awkward meal spent talking about everything but what we were thinking about). We laugh about the weirdness of it all now.

Step 5: In the ultrasound room
Once back in the ultrasound room, I sat on the exam table and placed my feet in the stirrups. We were shown a vial of my husband’s sperm and asked to acknowledge that the information on the label matched ours. I remember thinking “I sure as hell hope so!” but all I did was laugh out loud. It was such a funny—but important—request. I think I read the information 100 times before saying “Yes.” I was then asked to lie down and the doctor inserted a speculum into my vagina.

Step 6: The insemination
As the technician performed an external ultrasound, the doctor inserted the catheter into my vagina and my cervix. Using the ultrasound screen as her guide (which I watched closely throughout the procedure), she pushed the catheter through the cervical canal and pointed it toward the top of my uterus and right Fallopian tube (the side with the mature follicle). She injected my husband’s sperm through the catheter and into my uterus and advised me to stay seated for a few minutes. The process lasted only about 60 to 90 seconds.