Is it time to find another OB-GYN?

If you have ever been very sick or seriously injured, or if someone you love has, you know how critical the doctor/patient relationship is. Your health and well being, your future — perhaps your very life — are in this person’s hands.

This is also true when you are seeing a physician not for an illness or injury, but in an effort to change your life another way: by having a child.

If you are undergoing infertility treatments, like artificial insemination or In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), it’s so very important to see a doctor you trust, and who will communicate with you about everything that’s happening. Does your doctor take the time to fully answer your questions? Does he or she make sure you completely understand what the treatments entail, and how they will affect your body? Is your doctor clear about what you can expect, and your chances for success?

It’s also so important that your doctor is truly qualified to handle your specific case. Just because an OB-GYN offers fertility treatments doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is the right doctor for you.

Some fertility problems are tough to diagnose; it may require a specialist to determine what’s going wrong in your case, and how best to treat it.

If you have been seeing an OB-GYN who does not specialize in fertility problems, and your treatments haven’t been successful after a reasonable number of attempts, you should consider finding a specialist. The average number of attempts at artificial insemination before success is between three and four. How many times have you tried?

Yes, it can be tough to leave a doctor you like and trust — but if he or she is not the right physician to help you, it may be a necessary step.

We understand

We understand how important having a family is. My partner and I tried long years, with much confusion, plenty of doctor’s visits, lots of close calls and our share of heartbreak along the way until we finally had the opportunity to look into our twin babies’ beautiful eyes. We struggled against many odds, but we finally became parents. Believe it or not, no matter how frustrated you are or how difficult your journey has been to this point, you can get through this. There are many options available to you, some of which you might never have considered.

Do the different options seem daunting? Not sure how to approach them? There’s a lot to think about as you consider what path you’ll take while Getting to Baby. Although our book isn’t intended as a substitute for advice from medical professionals and other experts, it will help you to understand you’re not alone in your struggles. We’ve been through it, too, and we hope our personal journey will help in some way to prepare you to make the right choices and ask the right questions. We also hope we can provide a little moral support and some perspective.

Visiting this website shows you are someone who wants to learn as much as you can about what it means to become a parent and how you can get there, no matter who you are or what kind of relationship you’re in. We hope our website and book will help inform you and provide suggestions that could have helped us as we pursued our own path to parenthood.

We are Victoria and Jennifer Collier. As we endeavored to become parents, we tried everything from In-Vitro Fertilization, which resulted in a miscarriage, to several close calls on adoption before finally finding surrogacy, which ended up being the right choice for us. What’s the right choice for you? We can’t say, but we can tell you about our experiences with each option, preparing you for hidden pitfalls and tricky choices you might be faced with along the way. After all, knowledge is power. Being armed with the right knowledge from the outset can save you from missteps, frustration and heartbreak.

If you enjoy what you find on www.GettingtoBaby.com, we recommend checking out our book for a more in-depth look at not only our journey, but what your journey could be.

Support system

Have you ever tried to explain something you just feel in your gut? For many people, it is not an easy process. That said, when you find yourself yearning for something completely life-changing, like a child, taking the bull by the horns and facing your own thoughts, feelings, fears and hopes is an absolutely essential process.

Once you and your partner, if you have one, understand what’s behind your desire to have a child, you can explore other aspects of the concept of parenthood. After all, even though society sets some protocols for who does what, when and how, that might not work for you. Will one of you be a stay-at-home mom? A stay-at-home dad? Perhaps neither of you will stay home, and in that case, childcare should be considered. What can you afford? How will you react to pressure or judgment from others?

Gay, straight or single parent, one child or several, the logistics that must be considered are staggering, even if fertility isn’t an issue. And if getting pregnant is an issue, or is impossible for you and your partner, there’s a whole new universe of questions to be answered and feelings to be explored. What are your thoughts, feelings and attitude toward infertility treatments? In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)? Adoption? Surrogacy?

Although the thought is not one that many prospective parents want to wrap their heads around, you also need to consider your views on children with special needs. Some babies arrive with physical disabilities, while others suffer from developmental problems. Plenty of babies with special needs are already here and in need of adoption into good homes. In other cases, pregnancies are not successful. That’s the last thought any potential family wants to face, but it’s important to remember. Whether you’re planning a pregnancy, an adoption or to conceive through a surrogate, facing these possibilities is just as important as planning a budget and making lifestyle choices.

A good support system, from your partner or spouse to family and friends, can help you think through the details at the outset. People to bounce ideas off of are key, whether it’s a close friend or spouse or someone you rarely see. No matter who it is, having someone you trust and feel completely comfortable sharing with can provide perspective and comfort. This person can join in your joy, but also keep you in check, as you’re dealing with the dizzying prospect of caring for another person.

Where is your head?

Are you really, truly in touch with your feelings? Soul-searching and analysis of the facts on the table are key when approaching the journey to parenthood. Once people find out you want to become parents, they will ask you questions, sometimes very personal questions. If you can’t answer them, that might be a red flag.

How long have you been trying to get pregnant, and how? What methods have you used? And for a more intangible question, what is motivating you to want to have a child? Even if you think you know the answers to those questions, including the last one, which might be the most difficult to answer, revisit them in your mind. Your mindset is a very important part of trying to become a parent, especially if you want to get pregnant rather than pursue another path. The way you cope with stress can directly affect your ability to carry a child.

Negativity won’t help. If you have other children, questions might creep into your mind about why you were able to become pregnant before but can’t now. If you don’t have children already, negativity can take the form of wondering why you can’t seem to have children while everyone else around you can. Either way, getting into a bad head space can have a very real impact on what your body is willing to do.

Calm self-reflection is important. You need to identify why you want to have children right now. If you’re following your urges for the first time, you may never have addressed these questions. If you’ve had other children or tried in the past, you may have — but your answers may have changed as the years marched on. Getting your priorities straight clears the clutter. It allows you get a sharp focus on what you want right now, shaping your decisions and helping you cope with natural stress that can arise in the process.

Don’t just look at what you’re feeling and facing right now. A long-range plan, covering everything from efforts to become pregnant, adopt or use a surrogate; to who will care for your child once he or she arrives, will help eliminate stress along the way. The logistics, from people to finances, can be a little daunting. Better to take them on at the outset than reach a conundrum unexpectedly at an inopportune time.

We can help guide you through some of the questions you might need to ask yourself and some of the obstacles you might face in our book, “Getting To Baby.” If you like what you see at www.GettingToBaby.com, consider picking up the book, in which we share our own journey in hopes of preparing you for yours.

Letting go

Sometimes, the process of getting to baby requires letting go. Letting go of your attachment to one method of becoming a parent can be tough. If you’ve always dreamed of becoming pregnant with your partner, facing the reality that your body, your partner’s body or a combination of the two won’t allow that to happen can be heartbreaking and difficult to accept. The same goes for couples or individuals who have long hoped to become parents through adoption — for some people, the stars just don’t align for a child to enter their lives in that way.

Letting go can be tough, and it can be difficult to realize when it’s time to move on. It’s much like ending a relationship — a process we all know can be messy and painful, and doesn’t always happen as soon as it should. With relationships, all outside observers sometimes realize it’s over long before the parties involved in the relationship reach the same conclusion. In the meantime, it means plenty of pain and frustration for both of them.

The same goes for letting go of one method of becoming parents. When it’s over, it’s over. At a certain point, trying to head down a road that isn’t working only hurts and amps up stress. In the case of attempting to become pregnant or adopt, money also becomes part of the equation.

Approach your effort with eyes wide open. Set a time frame. Decide how long you’re going to work on getting pregnant before you seek professional advice or diagnosis from a fertility specialist. Set a time frame for when you’ll stop trying. Same goes for trying to adopt or using a surrogate. Decide when you’ll start trying, how much you’ll invest and when you’ll walk away.

It might be hard to think about, but there’s an option that many prospective parents don’t talk about at all — not becoming parents. Remember, there are ways to live a happy and fulfilling life without children. At a certain point, your efforts toward getting to baby might become more of a burden than a pursuit. It’s essential to be able to step back and consider what’s happening. Is this best for you, or is it okay to choose to live your life in a different way than you had expected?

At www.GettingtoBaby.com, in the membership section, you can find fertility specialists who discuss the options available and how they assist their patients with determining when it is time to let it go. Do your research, and don’t dismiss alternatives before you fully understand them.

In Touch With Your Feelings

Misgivings? Be honest about them.

I had some friends, a married couple, who were having fertility issues while Jennifer and I were trying to conceive. When they discovered they were unable to get pregnant, like many couples, they began considering their options. And like many couples, they started looking at adopting a child.

The woman was completely comfortable with adoption, and even started to like the sound of it. After all, her body wouldn’t have to go through everything a body endures during pregnancy. Her husband, however, had misgivings. And although those misgivings might offend some readers, they illustrate an important point.

He shared with his wife that he feared he wouldn’t be able to control his anger or frustration as easily without a genetic bond between himself and a child. Although he said it almost as a joke, he wasn’t kidding.

When you’re dealing with infertility, you might feel as though you’d bond with any child, regardless of genetic links. Whether you agree with the husband or not, though, he was right to share that concern with his wife. It’s important for both partners to be all in, no matter what path they’re pursuing.

Adoption Expenses

No matter how much you know about the adoption process, you probably know it isn’t free. Far from it, in fact, no matter what kind of adoption you choose. But who’s paying whom for what, at what points in the process?

In most cases, the lion’s share of the price you pay goes to an adoption agency. Agencies that focus on adoptive parents, some of which are non-profit, can charge anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000, depending on the situation. Agencies that focus more on birth parents’ needs often charge higher fees, ranging from $25,000 to $50,000. The fees you’ll face depend on location and situation. If you use an adoption facilitator to match you with a prospective child, prepare to shell out $3,000 to $12,000. Whether you choose to use a facilitator or not, you’ll still have to pay agency fees.

Depending on the type of adoption you pursue, you might choose to pay some of the birth mother’s expenses, like housing, transportation, childcare for other children, food and medical expenses. While this is a noble gesture, laws actually govern what can and can’t be paid in this way. Work closely with your attorney to determine what, if anything, you’ll cover. Sometimes, these payments can be delivered through the adoption agency. In other cases, you can pay them directly, as long as the court approves.

Those expenses, along with what you’ll pay to cover your own travel and lodging leading up to the birth and immediately following it, can vary widely from adoption to adoption. The same goes for court costs and attorneys’ fees.

How do you cover these costs? That, too, depends on your situation. Some individuals or couples might have savings set aside that make cost less of a concern. For others, family and friends can pitch in and help out, or loans can be sought. Consult with a financial advisor to consider your options, from the front end through the adoption process and in the aftermath. Tax credits can provide financial relief, but you must navigate the deduction process carefully to make sure you’re staying within the bounds of the law. Other expenses, like medical costs, could be deductions if you itemize.

Be sure to set your budget and consider all costs as much as you’re able to from the outset. Of course, no one has a crystal ball, so you can’t know precisely what to expect, but careful planning goes a long way.

Your potential surrogate is looking at you, too

If you’ve decided surrogacy is the right path for you, you have a lot of decisions to make. How do you want to find your surrogate? What kind of relationship do you want with her? How are medical and logistical concerns going to work before, during and after the pregnancy? How will you handle surrogacy costs?

Amid all of those choices, it’s important to remember that you’re not the only one doing the looking. Potential surrogates look at intended parents, too. While every surrogate seeks something different, it seems that most are looking, first and foremost, for a couple that can never have babies without help.

Since there’s no physical way for gay men to have a baby on their own, a lot of surrogates want to help gay couples. Some surrogates seek out Christian couples, often as a way to discreetly say they don’t want to work with a homosexual couple.

Some want very little interaction once the child is born, while others want to be like an extended family member throughout the child’s life.

Be sure to communicate openly with prospective surrogates to make sure every possible aspect of the relationship is addressed up front. After all, it’s a big decision for everyone involved — a life-changing one.

No one wants to think about miscarriage

No matter how you’re trying to conceive, if you become pregnant, there’s a chance you’ll have a miscarriage. It’s an outcome no one wants to think about, but trust me, it happens. We’ve been through it.

Miscarriage is an incredibly difficult process for couples. Also, miscarriage can occur at different stages of the pregnancy. If you are the woman who was carrying the baby, an early miscarriage often happens in the restroom. You are alone. The initial shock and grief happen in solitude, and then the task of telling your partner lies ahead. Your partner wants to support you, but isn’t sure what to say. Strain can develop in the relationship.

Even worse, some couples experience miscarriages after they’ve already told friends and loved ones they’re pregnant. That means well-meaning people are likely to ask how your pregnancy is going. It’s important to figure out a way to answer that question, so you’re not caught off guard.

For couples who have announced their pregnancy, the emotions of loss associated with miscarriage can also be mottled with feelings of embarrassment. Shame and failure are also normal feelings to have. And although moving forward might seem like the best option, simply trying to conceive again does not erase those emotions. It’s important to discuss the possibility of a miscarriage early, so you’re prepared, in at least some small way, to get through the trial — in case it happens to you.

Side effects of infertility treatments

For people who are trying to conceive, infertility treatments can be a miserable process. Shots. Hormones. Fertility drugs. Mood swings. Physical side effects, from headaches to moles. Uncomfortable procedures. Many, many doctor visits.

If you’re the one whose body will be hosting the fertilized egg, you’ll bear the brunt of the physical effects from hormone treatments. If you’re not, you’ll be supporting your partner through a roller coaster ride. Both of you need to know what side effects could surface as you work at getting pregnant. Assess whether or not you’re willing to accept potential side effects, and how you’ll deal with them should they appear, so you won’t be surprised or confused. Not all of them are bad — some women see an increase in libido as a result of hormone treatments. However, many also experience intense mood swings and other strange reactions, like the appearance of moles.

Multiple doctor visits can take an emotional toll, too. Invasive physical examinations are never pleasant. Just sitting in the waiting room with other couples suffering from infertility can make you feel exposed and even discouraged to see the same faces again and again. On the other side of the coin, seeing the same faces in waiting rooms can serve as a much-needed reminder that you’re not alone on your journey.