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Jun 5 2012

I’ve Had My Miracle Baby… Now What?

By at 4:03 pm

infertility treatment eggEzra is asleep in his crib. His lips purse and pucker as if he’s sucking on a bottle. He is peaceful, even when he is awake. Awake, he stares at everything, fascinated by his surroundings, and giving smiles as payment for even a moment of attention. When my students ask me for examples of modern day miracles, Ezra is the obvious answer.

We named our son Ezra, Hebrew for help and support, because he is the manifestation of all the help we received in our efforts to become pregnant. We were told it would be next to impossible to conceive on our own. Besides my rampant endometriosis, I have a low reserve of sub-par eggs, and my husband has morphology issues with his sperm. On our third IVF cycle, the doctor retrieved 18 eggs, but only one embryo survived to transfer five days later. Ezra. So yes, Ezra is the obvious answer. He is our miracle baby. But the truth is, my understanding of miracles has changed. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 24 2012

Let’s Talk About “Selective Reduction”

By at 9:59 am

clomid infertility pillsI think that we women support each other in so many ways by sharing our experiences, yet we have done a disservice by not talking honestly about fertility treatments.

I know that I’m not a worst-case scenario. I already have a child. The extent of my problem is that I’m over 40 and I don’t have a lot of time. My tubes are clear, my egg reserve looks good, I ovulate regularly, and my hormone levels are peachy. Plus, my husband’s sperm count is equivalent to 10 non-vegan men (my doctor described his semen as “dynamite”, leaving me to deal with my husband’s hugely inflated ego for days). And yet, we have been trying to get pregnant for almost a year and a half to no avail (five chemical pregnancies and one miscarriage). Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 15 2012

Are Fertility Treatments Tempting Fate?

By at 3:47 pm

specimen cupThe following piece is written by the husband of frequent Kveller contributer Cara Paiuk. Cara has written about the ups and downs of her fertility treatments, and here, Alejandro offers the man’s perspective.

“Do you have the specimen?” the pretty nurse behind the counter asked me. I timidly handed over the plastic jar with my name on it. “Ummm, I noticed that on this form here it says that we weren’t supposed to use lubricant. Uhhh, I didn’t know that. Is the, er, specimen ruined?”

A few moments later, she handed me a new jar and told me that I had to try again. And so, my one contribution to my wife’s fertility treatment I had managed to screw up. I felt embarrassed to be in that office, embarrassed of what I had to do next, and embarrassed that I had somehow let Cara down. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 12 2012

Getting Lucky with IVF

By at 4:27 pm


The following piece is by the husband of Kveller’s contributing editor, Carla Naumburg. Carla has written about her experience with IVF in the past, so we asked Josh for the man’s perspective.

When I was asked to write about in-vitro fertilization (IVF) for Kveller’s Dude Week, I wasn’t sure they’d picked the right person. My recollections of the experience were sort of boring and the entire experience–both times–was overshadowed by the births of our two wonderful girls (now 3.5 and 1.5). It took my wife, Carla, to remind me that our experience was far from normal and that IVF is always easier for the male partner.

IVF is an incredibly complex (and, for the woman, invasive) process. It involves months of hormones, injections, tests, procedures, and the highly skilled hands of numerous medical professionals. It also requires a lot of luck. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 16 2012

Two Daughters, Two Frozen Embryos

By at 4:32 pm

The bill comes every month, and it goes right into the pile, along with the power and cable bills, the mortgage and gas. It gets paid every month, but unlike the other ones, this one always gives me a moment of pause. This bill is from a lab about 10 miles from our house, where we are paying to store two frozen embryos. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 2 2011

Weekly Roundup: 13-pound Baby Jihad, Making an IVF Baby & More

By at 1:41 pm

All the Jewish parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.

infertility doctor's office

– On Slate, one couple’s story of how to make a baby, the IVF way, accompanied by a very telling slideshow. (Slate)

– In Germany, a 13-pound baby was born. He was the 14th child of his 528-pound diabetic 40-year-old mother. But the real crazy part? His name is Jihad. (Babble)

A new study suggests that if you want smarter kids, you should space them at least two years apart. It’s also not such a bad idea if you want any semblance of sanity. (Freakonomics)

– In the New York Times, Jennifer Gilmore offers a beautiful, stirring, and often painful look at her journey to adoption. (NYT)

Here’s a closer look at “extreme parenting,” from pageant moms to football dads. (OWN)

Oct 28 2011

Weekly Roundup: Taking Kids to Occupy Wall Street, Performance Birth & More

By at 12:03 pm

All the Jewish parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.

occupy car seatOccupy Wall Street becomes a family affair, and our own Jordana Horn writes about it. (TODAYMoms)

– Fodder for the next Republican debate? A federal advisory committee is advising that 11- and 12-year-old boys be inoculated for HPV, a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer and other cancers. Since 2006, the CDC has been recommending that girls, ages 11 and 12, receive the vaccination. (The New York Times)

– Orthodox couples struggling with infertility say they face social isolation. (Ynet)

– Children who receive what a Stanford researcher terms “process praise” (“You must have tried really hard”) are more resilient and less risk-averse than their peers who receive “person-based” praise (“You are really smart”), a new study shows. (Motherlode)

– Babble picks its Top 50 Dad Blogs, with Lesbian Dad taking the top spot in the “most groundbreaking” category. The Busy Dad Blog was named “funniest,” and Matt, Liz and Madeline “most confessional.” (Babble)

– Among the things that stay-at-home moms and working moms feel most guilty about: Their messy homes, according to a new report. (The Juggle)

– Off-Broadway, Linda Lavin takes on the “esteem-shrinking” Jewish mother. (The New York Times)

– The performance artist we told you about last week, the one who was planning to give birth before a crowd of gallery-goers, had her baby, inside Brooklyn’s Microscope Gallery. Clearly the mother, Marni Kotak, wasn’t using Kveller’s Jewish Baby Name Finder; she named her nine-pound, two-ounce son Ajax. (The Washington Post)

Happy Challah-ween!

Aug 31 2011

Interviews with Interesting Jews: Melissa Ford

By at 10:16 am

Photo by Mary Gardella

If you or someone you know is struggling with infertility, Melissa Ford is your go-to girl. She’s taken her own experiences with infertility and used it for the greater good–authoring the blog Stirrup Queens, and the book Navigating the Land of If, which offer insight and invaluable resources for anyone struggling with the trying task of trying to conceive. We spoke with her about infertility, the balancing act of a working mother, and of course, her twins!

Resources often offer plenty of physical things you can do to deal with the process of infertility, but what are some emotional tips and tricks that can aid in this difficult time?

I think just honoring the fact that there is an emotional component to infertility can go a long way. So many times we feel guilty for mourning, but infertility is about loss. The loss of a pregnancy, the loss of privacy, the loss of time, the loss of dreams. So giving yourself the space to feel whatever you need to feel is a starting point.

The other advice I always give is to do what you need to do to get through a moment (just as long as you don’t create more problems for yourself along the way). Skipping a cousin’s baby shower may create more problems than solutions, but skipping a co-worker’s shower – if you’re not in a good space to go – is probably fine in the context of self-preservation.

Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 2 2011

Sharing Our Stories of Infertility

By at 11:14 am

I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the recent posts by Cara Paiuk about her attempts to conceive her second child. Cara has written movingly about her positive pregnancy tests, as well as the miscarriage and the possibility of a chemical pregnancy.

Although I’m sure any parent would be touched by Cara’s story, I was particularly moved as my husband and I struggled with infertility. Both of our daughters were conceived with the help of in-vitro fertilization (IVF), and I am all too familiar with the worry, the waiting, the disappointment month after month, the tears, and the hormonal surges (which my husband particularly enjoyed).  But what most impresses me about Cara’s story is that she told it. While she’s going through it.

My husband and I did talk to family and friends about our situation as it was happening, mostly because I needed the support. I was immensely grateful for my friends who had been through it before me, who shared their experiences with invasive testing, freakishly long needles, painful injection sites, and difficult decisions. It was a stressful and scary time for us, as we felt like our dreams of creating a family were very much in question.  Although I have written about our experiences since then, I was in no position to my thoughts on paper as we were going through it.

We were lucky in many ways. We had supportive friends and family, our health insurance paid for the IVF, and most importantly, we now have two healthy children. However, I often lamented the lack of a Jewish community for discussing our experiences, and a Jewish context for understanding what we were going through. I’m not talking about Jewish law–I knew that we would move ahead with IVF regardless of what it had to say. Although I read books and articles online, but what I really wanted was a place where I could share my story, and hear about the experiences of other Jewish women, and find a way to integrate these two parts of my life.

Almost four years later, I have finally found it. Thank you, Cara, for sharing your story. I wish you all the best. And thank you, Kveller, for creating this space for Jewish mothers, regardless of what phase of motherhood we are in. Finally, if anyone reading this wants to talk more about the experience of IVF, please be in touch. I’d love to connect with you.

May 26 2011

I Want to be Pregnant Already

By at 1:03 pm

Time is not on my side to have another child. It wasn’t on my side for the first one, and it certainly isn’t now.

When I met Alex, we discussed my age and knew that if there was going to be a problem conceiving, the only way to find out was to try. I took my temperature, charted diligently, and, surprisingly, got pregnant immediately. We were relieved, shocked, and thrilled.

When our son Aiven was about 5 months old, I stopped nursing at night in hopes of kick starting my ovulation. It took only two weeks to get my period. And then the race began. The temperature taking, symptom analyzing, pregnancy testing, and endless charting and scrutinizing on The hopes and dreams along with the worries and anxieties. Will I have secondary infertility? Will it be possible to conceive again?

I have two friends who are expecting a second child 15 months after their first, and a woman from my play group is going to have“Irish twins.”  I made it into the mommy club, and now I am impatient to join the “let’s have a second child soon after the first” club.

I feel a lot of pressure on me.  If I don’t get pregnant am I not as much as a woman as my peers? And then there’s that look of disappointment I see on my husband’s face when I tell him that we will have to try again next month. And the memory of what it was like growing up an only child.

I desperately want to give Aiven a sibling.  But it is too soon to turn to fertility treatments, so all I can do for now is chart my irregular periods and pray to be blessed a second time.

Two days ago I neared the end of charting my third cycle.  I was five days past the date I expecting my period, experienced no pregnancy symptoms, and every test (which were disturbingly numerous) came back negative. On the other hand, my temperature had not dropped yet, indicating that my period was not on the horizon.

But then I started spotting.  I descended into a foul mood.  No baby this month.  I had convinced myself that after three months of trying, I was supposed to be pregnant, and I had failed. The fact that I was nursing, my hormones had not recalibrated, and my periods were irregular did nothing to assuage my anger, guilt, and fear.

The next day, I was still spotting and my husband asked if I was going to take a test. I said “no.” But 10 minutes later, as the shower steamed up the bathroom, I peed on a stick and put it by the window. I remembered about the test only as I dried off. I looked at in the warm sunlight and saw the faintest of lines. What? Was this some kind of joke?  I had been completely sure I was not pregnant, and after 30 tests this one had a line! I showed it to my husband who assured me I was not hallucinating. I took another test, a different brand, another line. In disbelief, I took a digital test, and it replied without hesitation: “pregnant.”

I took two more tests yesterday and one this morning. All of them confirm I am pregnant.  I am still shocked. And relieved. And grateful beyond measure.

But I am still spotting, so I am also worried. I went for tests today. I have to pause and remind myself this is something I cannot control. I just have to have faith that it will play out the way it is meant to. Only time will tell.


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