Another path to Motherhood: I thought not giving birth to my own babies would make me less of a mom

After two kidney transplants and multiple miscarriages, IVF with gestational surrogacy brought Sarah the family she dreamed of

Sarah and Brian Scantamburlo with son Gianluca.

Sarah and Brian Scantamburlo with son Gianluca.

The 2-year-old boy who calls me mommy has big, brown eyes, his dad’s curly Italian hair from his own youth and is a lover of all things Nick Jr.

Many people say children are gifts but Gianluca is so much more than that in many ways – he is the blessing we feared would never be possible.

Being his mom means joining him on his little boy adventures, watching his face light up with wonder when he spots a big truck and giggling with him when he feels Play-Doh in his hands. He is the amazing light at the end of the years-long tunnel of infertility.

And on Tuesday, May 27, Gianluca became a big brother to our newborn son Paolo.

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Keeping Communication Strong During Infertility Struggles

marriage during infertilityBeing ready to have a baby and facing infertility struggles can be a frustrating, challenging time in a couple’s relationships. Infertility is a challenge people face in different ways. No way is necessarily right or wrong. The important thing I tell my patients is to understand and respect your partner’s way — his or her needs, coping mechanisms and communication style — and work together to support each other.

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Is there a link between polyps, breakthrough bleeding and getting pregnant?

ann arbor fertilityThe short answer is that we think pregnancy rates are improved when polyps that are found are removed. If a woman is planning to become pregnant, and we find a polyp as part of a fertility evaluation, we will remove it.

Polyps are on the list of things that can cause breakthrough bleeding during a woman’s cycle. Some other causes of breakthrough bleeding are fibroids and not ovulating regularly or well.

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Trying to get pregnant with a second child

ttcWhether getting pregnant the first time was easy or required assistance, there are many factors that influence your ability to get pregnant a second time.

If you are planning a pregnancy, please remember the importance of prenatal vitamins, eating well, and regular activity.

It is difficult to predict from a prior experience how long it might take you to get pregnant.  Your increased age and changing medical history can be factors. Changes in a woman’s ovaries, uterus, and tubes can make it easier or harder to get pregnant for the second time.

Here are some factors that can impact your ability to conceive:

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If my mom or dad had infertility issues, will I?

The link between family history and fertility

family history blog photoMany patients are curious about whether fertility issues their parents might have struggled with may have a role in their own ability to get pregnant. My answer is always the same: your parents’ issues will not necessarily become yours.

In general, the more you know about your family’s health history, the more your medical team can start using those facts in evaluating your overall health and fertility picture.

There are many possible causes for decreased fertility, including endometriosis, fibroids, premature menopause, polycystic ovary syndrome, low sperm count, underlying conditions, and physical issues.  Some of these – hypothyroidism or polycystic ovary syndrome in particular – do tend to run in families.

Still, patterns of fertility in your family may not predict how easily you will conceive.

We know, for example, that fertility decreases with age. In general, older women have a lower chance of getting pregnant. By the time women are 30 years old, a quarter of them will have issues with fertility. If your mom or sister was trying to conceive around age 40 or later, that could have been the source of her difficulties.

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Talking helps

Infertility may feel isolating, but you aren’t alone

fertility support groupThere isn’t a guidebook that can walk you through the process of coping with infertility.  It is stressful, and often women can add to that stress with blame, self-doubt, and guilt.

As the social worker for the University of Michigan Center for Reproductive Medicine, I provide support to women and couples going through fertility challenges.

It is okay to feel what you’re feeling. You might feel anger, sadness, disappointment, frustration or guilt.

Take care of yourself. If your best friend or sister was going through what you are experiencing, how would you treat her? Would you remind her not to be so hard on herself and to put herself first? Are you doing that for yourself?

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