Infertility Woes

I spent approximately 15 years of my life trying to create my family. As a good friend notes, “It took more than just dinner and a movie!”

I tried through a variety of methods including the old fashioned way, artificial insemination with Clomid and donor sperm, domestic adoption, international adoption and surrogacy using donor sperm and donor egg. I was fortunate enough to stop my journey there which resulted in two lovely baby boys.

Despite my protracted process, I never went through years of depression, sorrow or regret about my process. I don’t know what enabled me to pursue my children passionately, yet escape sorrow about not yet having them in tow. Interestingly, I did not even tell myself everything will work out in the end.

Early in my journey, I came in contact with several women 15-20 years my senior, who had little to no access to many of the baby making avenues available today. As a result, these women were unfortunately rendered childless. They were denied the baby of their dreams. Each of these women, who I met in shops and boutiques, cried on my shoulder as they told me their story, after I told them mine. I shuttered each time I heard such a story, because I was not through my journey and still didn’t know if I would end up like them, forever an auntie and never a mom.

Somewhere in the middle, I had the chance to participate in a group with women quite a bit my junior, who were frustrated and upset about not getting pregnant, when they wanted to be pregnant. I realized I didn’t really fit in this group because I was not feeling the amount of stress they were experiencing. I felt their distress was totally legitimate, yet still had no answer as to why or how I had been protected from sorrow and seemed to float somewhere else oblivious to this seemingly typical pain while pursuing my goal.

I did have some sense of wasting time and being out of sync with my peers, but it was never something that caused me to fall apart or end up curled up in a ball in my bed. All I can say now is, “Thank God I didn’t have to experience that part.” It would have made it so much harder to rally and move forward in my process.

Since my children have been born, I have become active in a Single Moms By Choice group on Facebook. Through this process, as well as, general discussions with women trying to conceive, I have become even more acutely aware of the strife that goes on when trying to conceive and coming up empty handed over and over again. Our group is highly responsive and champions each other, as well as helps in problem solving when needed. Our group’s focus is not only about getting pregnant and being pregnant and delivering babies, but also about helping each other once the babies have arrived.

The Single Moms By Choice that I’ve come in contact with are strong women who have decided that for one reason or another that it’s high time to move forward and create their families, without a man or a partner to share the journey with. Each one of us decided to have families without spouses or partners. We have all had a strong drive to mother that couldn’t be denied.

Many forces have come into play for those of us who have delayed conception while allowing other goals and dreams to come first. Some of us have not felt ready yet, or simply never found the right partner to embark on such a journey with. Delaying the process has been the outcome which, of course as the years pass by, reduces the chance of success occurring naturally, without some type of intervention. However, today as never before, there are so many more options available to help those who want to have a baby.

Once my children turned 5, I had frozen embryos to deal with. I found someone who was looking to expand her family after difficulty getting pregnant with her own DNA. She desperately wanted a sibling for her young son! Once all the legal documentation was in place, I donated my remaining frozen embryos to her. Despite adequate thawing, the transfer was not a success. The wished for babies would not be born.

Interestingly, my emotional response to donating my frozen embryos was nothing short of heart wrenching, despite the fact that I no longer had the resources nor wear withal to raise more children. Go figure? All I can say is emotions are funny!

It occurs to me now in retrospect that I saved up or postponed all of that angst until the bitter end, when I was giving up my last hold out for a fertile moment. I had two thriving boys, but no girl. Was my baby girl right there amongst those frozen embryos? I come from a larger family with six kids. What held me back from reaching for that last child? I can tell you in one word! Practicality! I already had my boys and they were enough. I was lucky to have two darling ones that call me Mommy. I really didn’t need to upset the apple cart. I didn’t need to spread myself thin. That said, I can tell you with certainty that it did hurt!

What I know is that facing fertility woes on your own is tough. Weathering the storm can be made easier by having someone in your court who cares about you and is ready to hear about all the nuances of the process as you set sail on your journey.

If you are feeling like you’d like to have a fertility coach at your side, reach out to me at Contact Lisa and we can schedule some time together by phone.

All my best,

Lisa

Lisa J Lafave, PHD, MBA, ACC, BCC
CEO & Founder of Coaching Rocks, LLC
The Fertility Coach at Coaching Rocks
A Single Mom By Choice Raising Surrogacy Twin Boys
Written in My Little Brick in University Heights, OH

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I’m Having Total Knee Replacement

Several years ago, my rheumatologist told me that within 10 years time that I would require double knee replacement. Well, the first one will occur within the next week, and will be performed by Dr Peter Brooks at the Cleveland Clinic.

The surgery scares me a bit. They have this “Rapid Recovery” program, with an emphasis on education. Personally, I think they share too much. I nearly ran away and said, “Forget it!” Somehow, I pushed through and am having it done next Thursday.

So what scares me is the notion of a systemic infection causing damage to the unit, necessitating removal. In extremely rare causes, amputation has been the end result. Most people seem to do fine with the procedure, and most seem much more comfortable with the new joint, than their original knee. Our knees wear out and the replacement units do too. The average lifetime of the replacement units is 15 to 20 years, but some people keep them for 30 to 40 years. Holy moly do I ever hope mine lasts a long time.

The other thing that creeps me out is you have to take your advanced directives to the hospital just in case. That’s always unpleasant!

After my back surgery, my doctor, Elena Boruhk, MD, told me that many of her patients are too frightened to do a big surgery like this one. She told me, I was brave! Apparently, it is my bravery that allows me to push through.

Do you have any surgeries that you are putting off? Is there any cost to putting it off? What causes you to put it off? Do you think the surgery is in your best interest? Do you want to have it? What could make it happen for you, if you do indeed want the results that are likely with the surgery? Who needs to help you with this decision?

Best of luck, if you do decide to push forward.

Lisa J Lafave, PhD, MBA, ACC, BCC
CEO & Founder of Coaching Rocks, LLC
The Wellness Coach at Building Better Bodies Rocks
A Single Mom By Choice Raising Surrogacy Twin Boys
Written in My Little Brick in University Heights, Ohio

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The Boys Received a Gift at School and Shared It

The other day Giles said to someone, “You know what I like better than candy?” And when asked, replied with a big goofy grin, “More candy!” Those two lines pretty much sum up Gilie’s feelings about candy. The kid lives for the stuff!

So the other day when their classmate, Atreya, wrapped up a gift for the two of them and presented it to them after school, they both eagerly unwrapped it, with its telltale clue of a lollipop stick peaking through! Giles remarked, “Hey Jarve, we hit the jackpot!”

With one gentle reminder that they might consider sharing their gift, they swiftly gave all but two pieces away to other boys in their kindergarten class, who were waiting for their parents to arrive. Neither one balked, or even considered sneaking a few extra in their pockets. For a mom, who always tells her kids things taste better when you share, it was a proud moment.

Lisa J Lafave, PhD, MBA, ACC, BCC
CEO & Founder of Coaching Rock, LLC
A Single Mom By Choice Raising Surrogacy Twin Boys
Written in My Little Brick in University Heights, Ohio

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Doing Math in the Car

Giles and I are driving home from an appointment, and Jarvie is at home with Abbey our current babysitter

Giles: Mom what is 5 + 5?

Mom: Well, what is 5 + 5?

Giles: 10

Mom: Of course!

Giles: What is 10 + 10?

Mom: I think you know that one. What is 10 + 10 Giles?

Giles: 20

Mom: Very Good!

Giles: Mom what is 100 + 100?

Mom: What do you think 100 + 100 is?

Giles: 200.

Mom: Very nice!

Giles: Mom what is 1000 + 100?

Mom: 1100

Giles: No it isn’t Mom! It’s 100,000.

Mom: No, it really is 1100. You have to be careful what your doing
addition, multiplication or subtraction.

Giles: Mom what is subtraction?

Mom: Subtraction is takeaways!

(Mom holds up five fingers, then holds two down)

Mom: Giles what is 5 takeaway 2?

Giles: 2! Well, I was just improvising, or at least I think I was
improvising!

Lisa J Lafave, PhD, MBA, ACC
CEO & Founder of Coaching Rocks, LLC
Single Mom By Choice Raising Surrogacy Twin Boys
Written in My Little Brick in University Heights, OH

Boys are 5 1/2

Who Would Run the Things, in the Wake of a Medical Crisis?

Lots of things are cooking! I have been experiencing breathlessness and chest pain, so I went to the doctor to get some advice, as to how to proceed. The experience at the doctor’s office was a bit crazy, because on the one hand, I was dressed to attend a party at my sons’ school, after the appointment with the doctor, yet I was packed and ready to go to the hospital, if that’s what my doctor recommended! A girl always has to be prepared!

The EKG, done at the doctor’s office, showed no changes, over the last time I had one, which is a good thing. It may just have been esophageal spasm, which mimics the symptoms of heart attack.

Heck, I stopped some medicine inadvertently, when I was on vacation and started some new supplements, last Friday, around the time I started feeling not quite myself. I believe that resuming that medicine may improve things dramatically. And who knows if any of the supplements are the true culprit.

The new diet, that I am on, calls for plenty of apple cider vinegar, which seems highly acidic, yet people say it cures gastrointestinal reflux disease, which I do suffer from. So I, for one, would like to know what my gastroenterologist thinks about someone with GERD using apple cider vinegar on their salad. Could this be the cause of the chest pain?

The doctor recommended that I have a non-stress stress test, since I can’t do the typical running one. I will relax about all of this, if the non-stress stress test comes back clean!

I made it to the new family party at University School and had a few laughs! I got to skip the hospital entirely! So pleased to have narrowly escaped that one. So happy to be home looking after my boys instead!

You know, these issues are just that much harder to deal with when you are a single mom by choice, without any back-up! I mean heck, had it gone the other way, and the doctor thought I needed to be in the hospital, who would have looked after the boys? My octogenarian parents? The babysitter, who planned today would be her last day, since she is returning to college shortly? One of my brothers? My sister? An old nanny? Who? Who at the drop of a hat, would be available, and knows the house, the animals, the boys and our routine, such that they could ramp up and take over, without much instruction, and run my household? These are the questions that cause real stress.

What back-up plan do you have, when you are down for the count? How would you cover your obligations, if you suddenly had to be hospitalized? Who would man the fort? Have you thought about these issues, or do you prefer to bury your head in the sand, and try to pretend that day will never come? Take a minute right now and review who would carry on, if you were brought to your knees. Be specific. It is important to know who you would call.

Lisa J Lafave, PhD, MBA, ACC, BCC
The Wellness Coach at Building Better Bodies Rocks
CEO & Founder of Coaching Rocks, LLC
One Woman’s Experience Recovering From Medical Challenges
A Single Mom By Choice Raising Surrogacy Twin Boys
Written in My Little Brick in Unicersity Heights, Ohio

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The Non-Stress Stress Test was Normal

Yep, you heard that right! The non-stress stress test was normal! No chest pain or dyspnea were noted during the stress portion of the nuclear stress test. No arrhythmias were produced by the stress portion of the test. The blood pressure response to the pharmacological stress was normal. Normal! normal, normal! Yee-haw doggie!

Now I can stay on Dr Mark Hyman’s Detox Diet, which is fairly Paleo in nature, and not stress over the meat I might consume weekly. If I had substantial changes, I might be looking at Dr. Esselstyn’s No Oil, Plant Based Diet, which if done correctly, promises to prevent and reverse heart disease. Dr. Esselstyn’s approach goes quite a bit beyond simply being vegan.

I’ve been on Dr. Esselstyn’s diet and didn’t get very far, despite following it for 10 months. When I met Dr. Hyman, his comment about my having been vegan was “Hmmm, I’ve known a lot of fat vegans.” My guess is the vegans he knew were not Dr. Esselstyn’s protégés, or were and simply did not follow the instructions very well!

Dr Mark Hyman’s diet, despite its restrictions, is a better fit for my tastes and lifestyle, plus it produces much faster results, in the weight loss department. So for now, armed with my NORMAL nuclear stress test results, I have the green light to continue trekking on the Mark Hyman Detox Diet! Yippee! No interference in my plan!

Have you had any wins lately that are allowing you to pursue your chosen path? Why not jot them down and make a record of them.

Lisa J Lafave, PhD, MBA, ACC
The Wellness Coach from Building Better Bodies Rocks
CEO & Founder of Coaching Rocks, LLC
A Single Mom By Choice Raising Surrogacy Twin Boys
One Woman’s Experience Recovering From Medical Challenges
Written in My Little Brick in University Heights, Ohio

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A Proud Moment

When I pick the boys up from University School, at 2:45 PM in the afternoon, it is common practice for many of the boys and their moms to sit in the grass talking and coloring or having a snack, and then go climb a tree, or play ball. Quite a few of us stay late regularly.

The other day, one of my friends was hanging out with the group. She was approached by two women, and the next thing I knew she was in tears. I really didn’t know what had happened. Two other moms were soothing her, so I thought it best to leave it be, and find out about it later.

My son, Giles, was walking by, and noticed she was crying. Instead of acting like he didn’t notice, or coming to me to ask what happened, he looked her way, caught her eye and said, “Want to play ball? Want a snack?” Everyone burst into hysterics, including the woman who had been crying. He really broke the ice, and changed the tone of what was going on. Judging from the expression on his face, I would say, he was delighted, with his intervention.

My child had chosen not to ignore someone in pain, but chose instead to act, and offer her a bit of kindness, in her moment of despair. I was really proud of him. He had used both kindness and bravery in one small act.

Lisa J Lafave, PhD, MBA, ACC
A Single Mom By Choice Raising Surrogacy Twin Boys
CEO & Founder of Coaching Rocks, LLC
Written in My Little Brick in University Heights, Ohio

Traditional Surrogacy Vs Gestational Surrogacy

Traditional surrogacy came first, then the modified version called gestational surrogacy was developed. Traditional surrogacy occurs when the surrogate not only carriers the baby, but also provides her egg or her DNA to create the baby. This can be accomplished by inseminating the surrogate with the chosen sperm and then the surrogate carrying the baby to term and delivering the baby, after which she surrenders the baby to the intended parent.

In traditional surrogacy, there is no need to take drugs to sync cycles, and no need to grow the embryo outside the uterus in a Petri dish. It is far more akin to a regular pregnancy than gestational surrogacy. In both traditional surrogacy and a typical pregnancy millions of sperm race toward the egg which is making its way down the Fallopian tube or has made its way into the uterus. Once the egg is penetrated by the sperm, it becomes an embryo and begins to divide. It then attempts to implant in the uterine wall, which is filled with blood and ready to sustain the embryo. With luck the embryo will stick and become a fetus and then some nine or ten months later give rise to the birth of a baby.

Overtime, intended parents discovered that there were inherent legal risks to traditional surrogacy. Should the surrogate change her mind, the intended parent could be in quite a legal battle. Despite legal documents, courts have at times ruled in favor of the traditional surrogate. After all, she not only carried the baby but also provided her DNA to create the baby.

This is why gestational surrogacy was created. In gestational surrogacy, the intended parents choose an egg donor, a sperm donor and a surrogate. In this case, the cycles of the egg donor and surrogate are synced hormonally, such that when the eggs are released and ready for extraction from the egg donor, the surrogate’s uterine wall is lining up with blood and will be ready to receive the embryos 5 days later, after they have had a chance to mature a bit.

In gestational surrogacy, their is less risk of the surrogate successfully changing her mind and the courts opting in her favor to take the baby or babies away from the intended parents and give him, her or them to the surrogate. In gestational surrogacy, the court sees the DNA of both the egg and sperm, as belonging to the intended parents. This is why, more often then not, the court awards the baby or babies to the intended parents after a gestational surrogacy. However, there have been rare instances, in which the surrogate has changed her mind and won in court, even in the case of gestational surrogacy.

Most Lawyers today would advise you to engage in gestational surrogacy, but as you can imagine traditional surrogacy could be far less expensive. If you opt for traditional surrogacy, be aware of what you are forsaking.

Which option is right for you? Traditional surrogacy or gestational surrogacy? Make a case for why the option you chose is right for you. Commit those thoughts to writing.

Lisa J Lafave, PhD, MBA, ACC
The Surrogacy Coach at Surrogacy Rocks
CEO & Founder of Coaching Rocks, LLC
A Single Mom By Choice of Surrogacy Twin Boys
Written in My Little Brick in University Heights, Ohio

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Why Would You Let Genetics Stand In Your Way?

I once was invited to participate in a group with a bunch of women, who had trouble conceiving. What was interesting to me was that the women were far more distressed by their experience, than I was about mine and I had been struggling with the issue for far longer!

I wonder if the dynamic that set us apart was the fact that I was single! It seems to me that when you are coupled up, and both want a baby, that you must have either some sense of disappointing your partner, or feeling aggravated with your partner that together the two of you cannot make a baby. Either way, you have some complicated feelings to manage vis a vis your partner. If the problem does not reside clearly with you, you may feel your partner is blocking you from realizing your dream. Similarly, if the problem lies with you, you might feel you are failing your partner and keeping them from experiencing all the joys of parenthood. The sense I got from participating, briefly in this group, was that the very relationship was sometimes threatened, by the fact that the couple could not naturally, or with assistance produce a baby.

What has always been phenomenal to me was that what each of these women wanted more than anything was a baby and a family to fill the void in their lives, yet most of them were absolutely unwilling to try to attempt this process using genetic material, other than their own!

When I lived in New York City, I knew a couple who experienced a similar challenge. They were in love! Bogey were married! Bother had a novice home and a couple of cats and they wanted nothing more than a baby. They tried IVF seven times and failed. They never pursued adoption and it was too early for surrogacy, which might have been prohibitive given their financial resources. Quite frankly, even if they had the finances, they may have had a similar outcome, if they were still unwilling to use alternate DNA. You see, I was never privy to the exact nature of their problem.

Call me daft, but I fail to understand in what way the ladies in my group and the friends from New York City could not understand they could realize their greatest dream, if they simply created a baby that would be theirs, save the genetics. At the end of the day, any one of these folks would have either a bouncing baby boy, or a darling little girl. So what’s the difference how the child comes to be, if all you really want is a baby? The notion still makes me scratch my head.

What I do know, as a result of raising my own children, who do not come from my genetics, is they could not be more mine! People very commonly think they come from me, yet mistake me for their grandmother, owing to my advanced maternal age! The point is we look enough alike that people assume we are have the common genetic ties seen in most families.

The journey is what makes me their mother! The day to dayness of our relationship and all the things I do for them, big and small, is what makes me their mother. Having the honor to be with them through thick and thin, and the joy of watching them grow and change overtime is what makes me their mother. Sharing their laughter and their tears is what makes me their mother. Watching out for them and trying to make sure each day is filled with texture and an appropriate amount of stimulation is what makes me their mother.

My DNA is not the fiber of their being, but my heart is! They are my labor of love. They are my life’s work. Everything I am and all that I will become has everything to do with them. We are family and there is a purpose for all of our actions. Everyday, we are becoming more of who we are meant to be. To be sure, we three were meant to be together! We are bound by the ties of family. My life is richer and better now that they are in it. Although my children arrived when I was nearly fifty, I cannot imagine what it would have been like without them.

So what is holding you back? Are you allowing genetics to get in the way of fulfilling your dreams? What is truly at the root of that for you? What are you afraid of? What’s the bottom line on this one for you? Aren’t we all more alike than different, by the simple virtue of our humanness?

By now, you know the drill. Get out paper and pencil, or grab your mobile phone or iPad and please put your thoughts down in a more formal fashion. What keeps you from leaping forward and creating that baby? Surely, in the case of surrogacy, you can see you have more control over some of the aspects of the genetics your baby is likely to inherit, than is the case in adoption or foster care. What stops you in your tracks? Is it insurmountable? Can you work your way around it? Are you ready to dive in and create that family you have so desperately longed for?

Lisa J Lafave, PhD, MBA, ACC
The Surrogacy Coach at Surrogacy Rocks
CEO & Founder of Coaching Rocks, LLC
A Single Mom By Choice Raising Surrogacy Twin Boys
Written in My Little Brick In a University Heights, Ohio

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Physical Exercise Has Begun!

If you haven’t noticed, I am basically taking you with me on my personal metamorphosis journey. So I have shared that I had back surgery 4 months ago and total knee replacement has been recommended. I am overweight and uncomfortable due to various aches and pains. I have difficulty ambulating and sometimes pay an incredible price for doing so.

Since the surgery, I have been trying to walk a bit each day. I am currently able to walk around the block, which takes 15 to 20 minutes to accomplish. Some days it is quite punishing, other days it’s more enjoyable.

Last week, I started physical therapy which requires me to perform various exercises a few times a day aimed at increasing my core strength to support my back, as well as, improving the strength of my thighs to benefit my recovery after my knee surgery.

Today, I went swimming specifically to exercise and stretch in the water. I did stretched for 1 hour and then swam laps for 20 minutes to get a tad of cardiovascular exercise. Trust me, I wasn’t breaking any records.

It is so good to be exercising, while I am losing weight. It is just the beginning of my journey with exercise. The whole point of these surgeries, this diet and this exercise is, not only to help me to generally feel better in my skin, but also to enable me to walk again and go places with my boys. Always establish your why. Why are you going to such lengths? I am doing all of this in order to be a more fully present parent.

I have felt my world shrinking and folding in on me as I began to lose mobility. Now I am fighting to gain it back! I am building on each step that has gone before to create a better body, one that is able to take on more and engage in meaningful physical activity, so I can have a fulfilled life again.

I am not interested in rotting for the next thirty years and watching the world move around me. I want to be a fully functioning member of what is going on. I want to take the deck I’ve been dealt and maximize my potential. I want to be in service of my body. From this day forward, I want to assist my body in making any and all changes that it needs. Think of JFK and ask not what your body can do for you, but what you can do for your body!

Are there any declarations or proclamations you want to make about your body and what you plan to do for it? Take out a piece of paper or grab your smart phone or tablet and write down, right now, what you are willing to do, in an ongoing way, to help your body become stronger and more fit.

Never forget, Building Better Bodies Rocks!

Lisa J Lafave, PhD, MBA, ACC
The Wellness Coach at Building Better Bodies Rocks
CEO & Founder of Coaching Rocks, LLC
A Single Mom By Choice Raising Surrogacy Twin Boys
Written in My Little Brick in University Heights, Ohio

Leap Into Action!