Year in Review: The Most Inspiring Fertility Stories of 2018
Fertility was all the news in 2018. Huge strides were made this year in lifting the shroud of shame surrounding fertility. You can almost say that doing IVF is now presidential!
Here is my take on the top fertility stories from 2018 that are worth talking about:
Michelle Obama Makes IVF Presidential
The former first lady made history when she spoke openly of her fertility struggles. She suffered a miscarriage. Both of her daughters were conceived through IVF. This was the most important moment for fertility in 2018. In a single interview, she seemed to single-handedly give women of the world permission to own their truth. Women can now hopefully feel more comfortable speaking up and out to share their fertility struggles and stories of conception. She ripped the blanket off of fertility — which has been hiding under it in shame. It’s been a topic most women don’t dare discuss.
Well, hello 2019 — thanks to Michelle Obama fertility talk is out and ready to be heard. Time for all women to talk to each other to heal, feel less alone, and most importantly to find a solution to conceive.
There is no shame in getting your fertility levels checked or getting help! Oh, and for the men out there that may be unsure about putting their sperm in a cup. Just think…the former president did it. So can you. (Insert laughter here.) Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
Gabrielle Union Welcomes A Baby Girl Through Surrogacy
Gabby’s story is one that I hope will motivate anyone that needs to get help, ask questions, and continue on with their fertility journey. As a woman in her late 40s, and in the public eye, Gabby has been very courageous in sharing her path to becoming a mother. For years she’s struggled with countless miscarriages and heartbreak. All of that pain finally came to an end this year when she and husband, Dwyane Wade, welcomed their daughter through surrogacy. A very happy ending, and beginning! A big thanks to Gabrielle for inspiring us all with her story.
IVF turned 40 years old! 5 million babies born and counting
IVF is something that is safe. If you need proof, as of 2018 over 5 Million babies have been born through IVF. Think about that number! A significant percentage of babies in this country are conceived through IVF and this number will continue to rise.
Why? There are several reasons.
We are delaying traditional life milestones like finding a partner, buying a home, and starting a family. We are living longer, but our fertility is not. Given that nature isn’t extending our fertility timeline for us, we have to turn to science and fertility medicine for help. IVF is one of those ways.
In the past 40 years, IVF has been tested and continually refined to give people the best chance at a healthy conception. New developments in genetic testing and screening have improved success rates. In 2018 I’ve been able to help people I otherwise wouldn’t even just five years ago! This refinement in the process resulting in healthy IVF outcomes will only continue.
Tammy Duckworth Becomes First U.S. Senator To Give Birth While In Office
The first Asian-American Senator, a veteran, double amputee, a helicopter pilot, and a mother over the age of 50. If you don’t know Tammy Duckworth that’s your introduction and invitation to learn more. She’s a working mother who has shared her story of doing IVF and paved the way for women and men to talk about maternal care in the U.S. She made headlines earlier this year for bringing her newborn baby to cast a vote on the Senate floor. This is the type of woman we need inspiring us to talk about our fertility journeys (IVF) and to integrate our children into our lives as she has done!
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are Pregnant
When a thirty-seven-year-old woman gets pregnant soon after marriage, people start to wonder, did she do IVF? Meghan Markle’s pregnancy has been an on-going news story, with the latest speculation of her carrying twins. The bottom line is that we don’t know how she got pregnant, but what we can know is more about our OWN fertility. Anyone (yes, you!) can get your TUSHY checked to get an understanding of their fertility health. Depending on what you learn, and your desired family size, then you may need to set up a plan with a fertility specialist. For instance, you may decide to freeze your eggs if you’re starting a family at 37 know that you want more than one baby.
I’m happy to see that news of a royal baby has generated more interest in understanding fertility and letting women know that yes, it is possible to get pregnant past 35, but it doesn’t mean it happens easily or naturally.
Same-sex couple endures over 1600 IVF injections to welcome baby Girl
This photo went viral this year as a same-sex female couple decided to take a unique spin on photographing their daughter with the over 1,600 IVF needles it took to conceive her.
It’s a reminder to be grateful for the love you have and that if you’re struggling with fertility there is a reason to be hopeful just like others before you have been.
The TUSHY Method for Fertility Diagnosis Before Treatment
I try to make fertility easy to understand and testing accessible. There’s enough complicated medical speak to sort through when it comes to our own health.
It came about one night in talking with my husband (the poor guy hears nothing but fertility talk from me). TUSHY as a mnemonic. Tubes, Uterus, Sperm, Hormones, Your Genetic Profile. It’s perfect. It sticks, and it’s been something I’ve been putting (and saying) just about everywhere — t-shirts, bumper stickers, email signatures, and more.
You may laugh, but I’m 100% serious about helping people understand their fertility BEFORE making a fertility diagnosis. It sounds simple enough, and it is. There are affordable tests everyone can do to understand their own fertility health to then create a customized action plan as needed.
Going through treatment without a clear diagnosis is extremely frustrating. Conversely, if you go through treatment with a clear diagnosis then it will likely work for you. It’s a much more peaceful and positive outcome. And who doesn’t want that?!
An Intended Mother & Surrogate Launch A Surrogacy Agency; Delivering Hope LLC
This is one of my favorite inspiring fertility stories of 2018. I have nothing to do with creating Delivering Hope LLC, but I was intimately involved with the story of Mary Kennerly, and her husband Wes, becoming first-time parents.
Delivering Hope is the very first surrogacy agency of its kind where the founders, Mary Kennerly and Catherine Dobbs, have been through the process first-hand and so have built a company that gives others the emotional support they valued.
Mary Kennerly as the intended mother, and Catherine Dobbs as the surrogate carrying twins. The two will forever be connected and now share the journey of building a business together.
Delivering Hope is an agency that is more hands-on than most. Both the intended parents (including the father) and the surrogate are given emotional support. Mary and Catherine are a team who understand all sides of the process for everyone involved. They know it because they were in it, and they want to make sure others feel loved while going through it.
If you want to watch a very touching video of their story please visit their site and learn more.
Mosaic embryos: an invitation and reminder to ask more questions
Testing embryos to see if they’re normal or not has always been a part of my practice. However, they are a murky crystal ball as the technology is not perfect and we sometimes call embryos normal when they could be mosaic.
This is important, so much so, that it made People magazine — a mainstream publication. Why am I telling you this? It’s an invitation to ask your doctor about mosaic embryos. Understand if you can consider using them if needed. I have transferred mosaic embryos and had success. Not every doctor will do this so please ask yours!
It’s worth noting that it is not common that an embryo comes back from the genetic testing mosaic. However, if and when it does, it’s important to ask questions about it and know how you’ll act on that information.
First Baby Carried by Two Women from Invocell Treatment is Born
Invocell is a technology that allows a woman to take medication for eggs to grow. During an egg retrieval procedure, eggs are collected and placed in an intravaginal chamber. This chamber is then loaded with the eggs and sperm and placed in the other woman’s vagina. That chamber is then removed five days later. Embryos are extracted and placed in the other woman’s vagina. Both women are parents and can share in the growth and development of the embryos. Invocell is FDA approved (has been for a while) and I hope it can help a lot of people as it’s lower cost than IVF and over time may show the same success rates as IVF.
Fertility stories on TV and in the Media
The number of more accurate fertility stories in the media (TV shows, documentaries) talking about things so common like fertility and body size is heaven-sent. Fertility is not skin deep. It’s something I say on repeat. Please don’t wait until you’re at a certain body size or something else to get fertility help. It’s very positive to see the real story portrayed in the media and it helps people feel less alone. Fertility can be a struggle for many people and sometimes just knowing that can make you feel better, but more importantly, inspire action.
The Joyce Vargas Visionary Award Ceremony
In May of 2018, I received an award for being a visionary fertility doctor who promotes fertility awareness.
This is a picture of me with one of my dearest friends and former patient, Terri. As a sign of appreciation for helping her have her adorable twin boys she gifted me the URL, www.eggwhisperer.com.
Why the name, Egg Whisperer? Well, watch her speech to learn more about that.
One night at an egg freezing party that I was throwing, a woman came to me and told me that her OBGYN said she was too young and healthy to get her fertility levels checked. The lightbulb went off. Being an egg whisperer means making it incredibly easy for everyone to get their fertility checked. If you’re going to an OBGYN then you’re not too young to get your fertility checked so I made the website exactly about that: making fertility checks easy and accessible for all people.
That’s all for 2018, but…
There’s More Fun to come in 2019 from The Egg Whisperer Show!
I hope whatever you learn from this motivates you to ask more questions. Treat questions as a means for self-empowerment. A means for finding what you need to develop an action plan that’s personal to you. An action plan that will guide you to the greatest gift of all — becoming a parent.
Best wishes as we go into 2019! I look forward to hearing from you for future shows!
You can also catch more of me and topics like this through the Egg Whisperer Show. The episodes are live-streamed on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter and on Wednesdays at 7 PM PST. Subscribe to the podcast too!