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Archive for December, 2007

I was asked to review Cindy Margolis’ new book, Having a Baby…When the Old Fashioned Way Isn’t Working: Hope and Help for Everyone Facing Infertility, and I agreed. For those of you who don’t know, Cindy Margolis is the celebrity spokesperson for RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. While I realize now how crazy it was to agree to read, let alone review, a book with newborn triplets in the house, I did get the book read and I will now attempt to write a coherent review between feedings!

I really wanted to love this book. I think Cindy Margolis has done a lot of good for the world of the infertile myrtle, having been brave enough to talk about something no one talks about in a very public forum (Cindy first came out of the infertility closet on an Entertainment Tonight interview!). Alas, I can’t say that I would recommend this book without some serious reservations. I enjoyed reading Cindy and Guy’s personal tale of their infertility journey, and I wish that had been the true focal point of the book. Had Cindy presented her story, and the other personal stories of other people that she included in the book, and left it at that, I probably would have recommended this book heartily. But she took it a step further and tried to provide insight into the medical procedures one might endure in an infertility workup and treatment as well as insight into the surrogacy and adoption process.

I actually really appreciated Cindy’s insight into the surrogacy process, including advice on how to identify a surrogate agency, identify the important considerations you might have in picking your surrogate, etc. But when it came to the medical information about infertility, the book fell short, in large part because the information was seriously out-dated. It’s clear that Cindy has been writing this book for a long time, and while the information may have been true when she started writing the book, some of it is just plain untrue today (bear in mind that this book is being published in January 2008, so there’s no excuse for outdated information). I’ll give you one glaring example:

There is nothing normal about in vitro fertilization. Amazing, yes, but normal, no. Frankly, you have to ask yourself what normal even means, when more and more people have to turn to IVF to get and stay pregnant. Add to this the very real possibility of multiples with each attempt, and we’re talking the outer edges of norm, people. And here’s why. To maximize the chances you will get, and more important, stay pregnant, doctors have to play the odds. They’re not going to waste their time and your money implanting only one embryo, as good quality as that embryo may be. Unless you absolutely beg them (and even then I’m not sure you would find a doctor to agree), you will typically want to try up to six embryos each time.

Now that doesn’t mean you’ll end up with sextuplets, although there’s always that chance when you play with Mother Nature. Usually, however, despite the implantation of multiple embryos, only the strongest will survive past the first few days leaving you with a much more likely chance of having the one child you are planning for.

So I’ve got a few problems with the medical information in those paragraphs. First of all, Cindy repeatedly mistakes embryo transfer for embryo implantation. I know this may seem minor, but I think it’s a major misconception which does the infertility community a major disservice. If the medical community could actually implant embryos, we’d never need to do more than a single embryo transfer. But that’s not what happens. Doctors transfer embryos to your uterus and hope that at least one implants in the uterine wall. The fact that people believe doctors actually implant embryos, is one of the reasons that the fertile-myrtle community believes that women who end up pregnant with higher order multiples (this is more common with IUI than IVF, by the way) made irresponsible decisions in their fertility treatment, and that’s just not so. That’s problem number 1.

Problem number 2 is that while it may have been true 5 years ago that doctors would want to transfer as many as six embryos, this is no longer the recommended practice for fertility specialists. In fact, studies have shown that transferring multiple embryos does not increase the chance of pregnancy in a given cycle, it merely increases the chance of a multiple pregnancy! While under some circumstances, a doctor may recommend a 4, 5 or 6 embryo transfer, this is no longer the standard of care. Many doctors are considering single embryo transfer protocol for a large number of patients. Again, this may seem minor, but it isn’t. The point is that there was a medical advisor for this book, so my guess is that this portion of the book was written several years ago and was reviewed then, but hasn’t been re-reviewed since.

If this passage were my only problem with the book, I’d be fine. I didn’t particularly care for the writing style, and I found it to be disorganized. I DID appreciate Cindy’s assertion that it is important to take the stigma off of infertility and important to be talking about it publicly. I agree with her wholeheartedly, and for that reason, I think this is an important book. I just think it could have been executed better. That being said, Cindy’s story is compelling and I appreciate having a first-person account of infertility available in mainstream literature. Anywhozit, I think it’s an okay book for someone starting out on their infertility journey, so long as they ignore the medical information in the book. As for someone deeply entrenched in the infertility process… I’m not sure how much they would get out of it, but I’ve been wrong before.

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I was asked to review Cindy Margolis' new book, Having a Baby…When the Old Fashioned Way Isn't Working: Hope and Help for Everyone Facing Infertility, and I agreed. For those of you who don't know, Cindy Margolis is the celebrity spokesperson for RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. While I realize now how crazy it was to agree to read, let alone review, a book with newborn triplets in the house, I did get the book read and I will now attempt to write a coherent review between feedings!

I really wanted to love this book. I think Cindy Margolis has done a lot of good for the world of the infertile myrtle, having been brave enough to talk about something no one talks about in a very public forum (Cindy first came out of the infertility closet on an Entertainment Tonight interview!). Alas, I can't say that I would recommend this book without some serious reservations. I enjoyed reading Cindy and Guy's personal tale of their infertility journey, and I wish that had been the true focal point of the book. Had Cindy presented her story, and the other personal stories of other people that she included in the book, and left it at that, I probably would have recommended this book heartily. But she took it a step further and tried to provide insight into the medical procedures one might endure in an infertility workup and treatment as well as insight into the surrogacy and adoption process.

I actually really appreciated Cindy's insight into the surrogacy process, including advice on how to identify a surrogate agency, identify the important considerations you might have in picking your surrogate, etc. But when it came to the medical information about infertility, the book fell short, in large part because the information was seriously out-dated. It's clear that Cindy has been writing this book for a long time, and while the information may have been true when she started writing the book, some of it is just plain untrue today (bear in mind that this book is being published in January 2008, so there's no excuse for outdated information). I'll give you one glaring example:

There is nothing normal about in vitro fertilization. Amazing, yes, but normal, no. Frankly, you have to ask yourself what normal even means, when more and more people have to turn to IVF to get and stay pregnant. Add to this the very real possibility of multiples with each attempt, and we're talking the outer edges of norm, people. And here's why. To maximize the chances you will get, and more important, stay pregnant, doctors have to play the odds. They're not going to waste their time and your money implanting only one embryo, as good quality as that embryo may be. Unless you absolutely beg them (and even then I'm not sure you would find a doctor to agree), you will typically want to try up to six embryos each time.

Now that doesn't mean you'll end up with sextuplets, although there's always that chance when you play with Mother Nature. Usually, however, despite the implantation of multiple embryos, only the strongest will survive past the first few days leaving you with a much more likely chance of having the one child you are planning for.

So I've got a few problems with the medical information in those paragraphs. First of all, Cindy repeatedly mistakes embryo transfer for embryo implantation. I know this may seem minor, but I think it's a major misconception which does the infertility community a major disservice. If the medical community could actually implant embryos, we'd never need to do more than a single embryo transfer. But that's not what happens. Doctors transfer embryos to your uterus and hope that at least one implants in the uterine wall. The fact that people believe doctors actually implant embryos, is one of the reasons that the fertile-myrtle community believes that women who end up pregnant with higher order multiples (this is more common with IUI than IVF, by the way) made irresponsible decisions in their fertility treatment, and that's just not so. That's problem number 1.

Problem number 2 is that while it may have been true 5 years ago that doctors would want to transfer as many as six embryos, this is no longer the recommended practice for fertility specialists. In fact, studies have shown that transferring multiple embryos does not increase the chance of pregnancy in a given cycle, it merely increases the chance of a multiple pregnancy! While under some circumstances, a doctor may recommend a 4, 5 or 6 embryo transfer, this is no longer the standard of care. Many doctors are considering single embryo transfer protocol for a large number of patients. Again, this may seem minor, but it isn't. The point is that there was a medical advisor for this book, so my guess is that this portion of the book was written several years ago and was reviewed then, but hasn't been re-reviewed since.

If this passage were my only problem with the book, I'd be fine. I didn't particularly care for the writing style, and I found it to be disorganized. I DID appreciate Cindy's assertion that it is important to take the stigma off of infertility and important to be talking about it publicly. I agree with her wholeheartedly, and for that reason, I think this is an important book. I just think it could have been executed better. That being said, Cindy's story is compelling and I appreciate having a first-person account of infertility available in mainstream literature. Anywhozit, I think it's an okay book for someone starting out on their infertility journey, so long as they ignore the medical information in the book. As for someone deeply entrenched in the infertility process… I'm not sure how much they would get out of it, but I've been wrong before.

Read Full Post »

Weight Check

The babies had a weight check yesterday at the pediatrician’s office. They are all growing, but Ellie is definitely still a bit of a worry. My big boy Sam is 7 pounds, 14 ounces. He’s so fat and cute and I love him (note: he’s actually not fat for a normal baby, but compared to where he started? He’s SO fat!). I love looking at him and his squishy cheeks and chubby thighs and thinking, “I did that! I grew that baby!” He is fed only breastmilk and takes 95% of his feedings directly from the breast, and it’s amazing. I grew that baby on the inside and out, and it’s an absolute miracle.

More miraculous was our not-so-little-anymore Abbysaurus. Abby weighed in at 7 pounds, 12 ounces! She’s so huge! Abby was our runt to start and it’s incredible to see how well she’s grown. She, too, receives only breastmilk, though she had extra calories added to hers until yesterday, and she refuses to latch on most of the time so she gets it in a bottle. Still, I did that! I’m growing that baby all by myself!

Ellie is also growing but at a much slower and slightly worrisome rate. She is now 7 pounds exactly. Considering that she used to be a full pound bigger than her sister, it’s astounding that she’s now 3/4 of a pound behind her. She gained only 4 ounces in 11 days (she goes in for more frequent weight checks than the other two). The good news is that her eating has improved somewhat and she hasn’t been on a hunger strike in several days, so hopefully her next weight check will show some improvement. She also gets only breastmilk and takes 95% of her feedings from the breast directly, so I feel good about her, but I have a little bit of guilt that something’s going wrong with her growth. Still, I don’t think it’s me, since Sam is so fat.

The babies are all absolutely delicious with their own personalities and their own ways of getting attention. J is fabulous with them, but having really serious adjustment issues at school. We’re meeting with his teacher next week to talk about some strategies for helping him. Sigh. Hopefully things will improve soon.

Two of my pregnant triplet mama friends have had their babies recently, and I’m just so unbelievably happy for them. I know that the NICU time isn’t the easiest (yes, I still plan to write about that experience at some point), but it will be over soon, I promise!

Read Full Post »

Weight Check

The babies had a weight check yesterday at the pediatrician's office. They are all growing, but Ellie is definitely still a bit of a worry. My big boy Sam is 7 pounds, 14 ounces. He's so fat and cute and I love him (note: he's actually not fat for a normal baby, but compared to where he started? He's SO fat!). I love looking at him and his squishy cheeks and chubby thighs and thinking, "I did that! I grew that baby!" He is fed only breastmilk and takes 95% of his feedings directly from the breast, and it's amazing. I grew that baby on the inside and out, and it's an absolute miracle.

More miraculous was our not-so-little-anymore Abbysaurus. Abby weighed in at 7 pounds, 12 ounces! She's so huge! Abby was our runt to start and it's incredible to see how well she's grown. She, too, receives only breastmilk, though she had extra calories added to hers until yesterday, and she refuses to latch on most of the time so she gets it in a bottle. Still, I did that! I'm growing that baby all by myself!

Ellie is also growing but at a much slower and slightly worrisome rate. She is now 7 pounds exactly. Considering that she used to be a full pound bigger than her sister, it's astounding that she's now 3/4 of a pound behind her. She gained only 4 ounces in 11 days (she goes in for more frequent weight checks than the other two). The good news is that her eating has improved somewhat and she hasn't been on a hunger strike in several days, so hopefully her next weight check will show some improvement. She also gets only breastmilk and takes 95% of her feedings from the breast directly, so I feel good about her, but I have a little bit of guilt that something's going wrong with her growth. Still, I don't think it's me, since Sam is so fat.

The babies are all absolutely delicious with their own personalities and their own ways of getting attention. J is fabulous with them, but having really serious adjustment issues at school. We're meeting with his teacher next week to talk about some strategies for helping him. Sigh. Hopefully things will improve soon.

Two of my pregnant triplet mama friends have had their babies recently, and I'm just so unbelievably happy for them. I know that the NICU time isn't the easiest (yes, I still plan to write about that experience at some point), but it will be over soon, I promise!

Read Full Post »

Some Notes

  • Ellie has my cold. She’s got a sad little cough that goes along with her stuffy nose. Poor baby. I feel really badly for her.
  • The babies all have very distinct personalities, which is astounding. It’s like I’ve got my own little sociology experiment here, since I’ve got three babies all growing up in the same house. It’s difficult not to label them with positive or negative characteristics. I would hate to have them end up with self-fulfilling prophecies (e.g. “Oh s/he’s the fussy one” or “s/he’s the smart one” etc.)
  • I have to go back to work in five weeks. I interviewed for a job last Wednesday and was offered the job on the spot. I’m very depressed about going back to work, but if I have to go back at all, this is a great opportunity. Sigh.
  • We’re coping pretty well, but I find it very difficult to find computer time these days. I haven’t forgotten about any of you!
  • I have lots more to say, but it’s time for bed before the next feeding cycle begins again. Le Sigh.

Read Full Post »

Some Notes

  • Ellie has my cold. She's got a sad little cough that goes along with her stuffy nose. Poor baby. I feel really badly for her.
  • The babies all have very distinct personalities, which is astounding. It's like I've got my own little sociology experiment here, since I've got three babies all growing up in the same house. It's difficult not to label them with positive or negative characteristics. I would hate to have them end up with self-fulfilling prophecies (e.g. "Oh s/he's the fussy one" or "s/he's the smart one" etc.)
  • I have to go back to work in five weeks. I interviewed for a job last Wednesday and was offered the job on the spot. I'm very depressed about going back to work, but if I have to go back at all, this is a great opportunity. Sigh.
  • We're coping pretty well, but I find it very difficult to find computer time these days. I haven't forgotten about any of you!
  • I have lots more to say, but it's time for bed before the next feeding cycle begins again. Le Sigh.

Read Full Post »

Photographic Proof

In trying to get a snapshot to include with my super-cute birth announcements, I got a lot of really cute photos that were less than announcement-worthy. But they were too cute to pass up the opportunity to pass on to the world!

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