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Mental Health – Prenatal & Postpartum

Mental Health – Prenatal & Postpartum

· Parenting, Pregnancy · No Comments

I have recently discovered that while there is a big push for mental health resources from both the public and politicians – there are still very few. Its incredibly disappointing and adds to the feeling of “no options” to those who are struggling with their mental health, especially pregnant women & postpartum moms.

Mental health is such a huge part of any person. If your mental health isn’t where it should be, it affects every single other area of your life. From sleep, to how you react, to simply being able to get out of bed in the morning and start your day. Your mental health is you.

Now, as someone who has experienced mental health struggles in the past, I can’t even tell you the endless feeling of hopelessness when you reach out for help and you find none. Or, you do find some…but it will cost you close to $200/hr. Now, I don’t know about you…but my salary in no way equals $200. Not even close! Benefits? Yes, we have benefits. A whopping $300/year. Thats right. 1.5 sessions with a psychologist a year! Typically it takes months of work with a psychologist/psychiatrist to make progress…not a single session. If your benefits cover more, great! Use them! Somehow though, I highly doubt that your benefits cover $4700 worth of therapy sessions. Thats based on going once every 2 weeks for a year at a rate of $180/hr for your psychologits/psychiatrist.

The costs are outrageous (but I understand why those psychs charge those amounts), but the average person being able to afford that doesn’t typically happen. It puts a wonderful resource far out of reach of those who need it.

I recently learned that a local hospital that had an absolutely amazing prenatal/postpartum mental health clinic available has now closed down their services to anyone not birthing at their hospital. There are a bunch of problems with that! It removes choice from a lot of women – where they can birth and not only that, but now it forces women to choose between having a birth they need (think homebirth after a traumatic birth to help heal their mental health trama surrounding that) to getting help with their current mental health status. It makes no sense and yet again, closes more doors to those trying desperately to reach out for help.

I want to encourage anyone needing support to reach out. To anyone & everyone! Friends, family, your doctor, a nurse, heck – a facebook group that can provide you a boost to get through a night if thats what you need! But reach out. Don’t do the trek alone.

There are resources online now as well – online counselling and depression support groups. Do what you need to do! But please, please please…don’t be ashamed. Don’t continue the stigma of mental health.

Pregnancy Changes Everything

· Parenting, Pregnancy · No Comments

I am currently pregnant. This pregnancy, is not a surrogacy, it is a keeper for us. This is baby #4 for us and being pregnant, again, has added humor to our lives.

Pregnancy really truly changes the dynamics of a spousal relationship. For example, my husband who has an awfully funny sense of humor, will ask me if I’m craving “cock”. He’ll have the devilish grin, quirky sparkle in his eye. Of course, being pregnant, my obvious response is “OMG…Yes. You going to order the chicken wings or am I?”

Or the bag of Oreos in the pantry. I have three children & a husband. We don’t do a lot of sweets in the house. If there’s a bag of Oreos, you know they’re going to last about 30 seconds. God help the poor soul who eats the last Oreo. This pregnant mama wants at least one damn oreo out of the pack. I had to haul my big belly into a grocery store just to get those oreos. If mama bear doesn’t get to eat at least one, there will be some serious consequences. Like eating a king size chocolate bar in front of all of them and NOT SHARING.

How do you like them apples kiddo?! That’ll teach you for eating the last Oreo!

Children, while they eat all the good stuff left in the house, they also are much much shorter than I am. Do you know why this is beneficial? They are closer to the floor than I am! Pregnancy seems to remove all grip from my hands and I am forever dropping things. Of courses, the bigger I get, the harder it is to pick stuff up off the floor…and the more things I seemingly drop. Having children has proven to be incredibly useful…they are so sweet & pick things up that I drop – saving us from having to purchase a set of those reacher/grabber things.
Truthfully, I’m grateful though that they are so sweet to help me. Heavens knows, If I sit down to pick up something, this lady isn’t getting back up.

Last but not least, I think my favorite part of pregnancy is hearing my children talk about the baby and their perception of how it all works. We are located in Edmonton, Alberta and in early Sept it began snowing. Very lightly, but there was snow. My youngest, 3, looked outside, gasped, turned to me and very excitedly exclaimed that the baby could come out now because there was snow on the ground! As I had previously explained the baby would come when there was snow on the ground – not expecting her to take it so literally. It gave me quite the chuckle.

When we found out the gender very recently, boy, my son was thrilled he is getting a brother. He seemingly knew from the get go. He never doubted that it was a boy, but his sisters were certain it was a girl. When we broke the news to them, my oldest (daughter) almost cried. Her big heart won over those emotions and she said she would love the baby anyway because she loves babies! My son was smiling ear to ear. “I KNEW IT!” he yelled! He is so happy to not be outnumbered anymore. ūüėĬ† And the youngest. She kind of sat there and tried to process it. Right after supper I showered her and she spent her time in the showering asking me to change it to a girl.

A (My 3yo): Mommy, can you change it to a girl please? I don’t want a boy.
Me: I’m sorry kiddo, its a boy and I can’t change that.
A: But mommy, I asked nicely. I even said please.
Me: *laughing* I know kiddo, I’m really sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. The baby is a boy and I really, really can’t change that.

She was so disappointed. Once baby boy does arrive, I’m sure everyone will be thrilled! Its just how their little brains work and it always has me in wonder. <3

Busy Week? Prep Slow Cooker Freezer Meals!

· Cooking, DIY, Parenting · No Comments

If your home is anything like ours during the week, its chaos. Between my husband and I both working, two kids in school and one child at home (not to mention being pregnant), its really insane most days. I don’t have time to pee, let alone make a nice dinner.

Enter my slow cooker! I have been doing up some slow cooker freezer meals on the weekends to make our weeknights run a bit smoother. I found a months worth of recipes, we chose 7 of our favorites and did them up.

I highly suggest trying a few out!

31 Crockpot Freezer Meals for Busy Weeknights

Guest Post – A Unique Surrogates Perspective

· Guest Post, Parenting, Surrogates · No Comments

Ok. It’s confession time. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m going to share a little secret with you- I’m a little different. Quirky, if you will.

My first experience with surrogacy was the classic Phoebe from “Friends” episode.

Heck, I even tried to be just like her and offered to carry a baby for my brother and his wife. That was a little too odd for him as we aren’t one of those super open understanding families.¬†

“Adoption’ is a term my mother used frequently while my husband and I struggled to become pregnant with our first child. I wasn’t interested. It needed to be ours.¬†

We bore our frustration in silence, privately. The unsolicited advice was truly overwhelming, and completely unwanted.¬†Seriously- why does everyone feel they have the answer?¬†Or that you want to hear what worked for their cousins nephews aunt… or get referred to as the one without their own child. Pity is just as intolerable as the aforementioned advice.

Fast forward a few years and several children later. We knew our family was complete, but I didn’t feel like I was done having babies. My husband loves me and spoils me horribly. He agreed to my surrogacy journey with only one question that was easily answered by another Surrodad.

Connections were made, and rather quickly I had 2 unsuccessful back to back transfers.

Six months after, success! I was pregnant with a modern miracle courtesy of science…I was pregnant with another mans child! Life goal met!

The parents were estatic, yet cautiously optimistic. Modern medicine isn’t perfect, and they knew things could change in an instant.

¬†Pregnancy was relatively easy. I wasn’t ill, and having a little extra fluff on my bones made keeping the precious cargo comfy (and concealed) until my husband and I were ready to share our news with others.

Co workers were told (for safety purposes) and a few close friends… Dude, I really wanted that beer, please stop offering, lol.

Basically we thought we would tell people when questions were asked, probably around the 20 week mark. We had too many people close to us with fertility issues of their own. I wasn’t looking to be a jerk, or do the “look at how amazing and selfless I am” thing. I wanted to give someone the opportunity of parenthood so many take for granted.

A few weeks before delivery we told a few key people, knowing not everyone understands. My parents were in this lot. Not my siblings, not my in laws. Need to know basis. More friends, because, a week before delivery tobogganing is not really a great way to spend an afternoon.

A few people at work noticed, but not many. 

We talked about the general stuff, like how many were already at home, blah blah blah, and then-no, they aren’t excited. It isn’t my husbands. Or mine.¬†

And then the gushing (awkward for me) how amazing! How selfless!¬†Or super awkward “How can you give your baby away?”¬†followed by a simple biology lesson. Education is important. Patience as well.

Some people get it. Some don’t. That’s quite alright.

The parents are beyond happy, and that is what really matters to me.”

РAn ANU Surrogate.  <3

Halloween Cookies!

· DIY, Holidays · No Comments

Halloween is quickly approaching and if your anything like me, you lack in the creativity department.

Have no fear, I’m here to help!

Try these cookies with eyeballs in them, they are sure to be a hit and your kids will think your awesome. ūüôā

Gooey Monster Eye Cookies

 

What is Labor Like?

· Birth, Intended Parents, Parenting · No Comments

I have been obsessed with birth, birthing, pregnancy & babies since as far back as I can remember. One of the first questions I had as a kid was, what does Labor feel like? Why do all these women complain so much? It can’t be *that* bad…they’ve lived through it, so the pain isn’t enough to kill them…so whats the big deal?

I’ll tell you what the big deal is. Those thoughts came from an inexperienced,¬†very naive teenager. My labor experience is two births within a hospital with epidurals for pain management, one midwife-attended home birth with zero drugs and zero interventions and one midwife-attended hospital birth with no drugs for pain management and no interventions.

To summarize, two labors with no pain, two labors with more pain than I would wish on my worst enemy.

So what is Labor like?

I don’t know how to describe it. But I’ll do my best!

If your a first timer, I’m sorry, you might not want to read on. Labor starts off like a walk in a beautiful sunshiny park. You are comfortable, chatty…just kind of annoyed every 10 minutes. Think of it as needing to stop and take a breath every 1o minutes.

**COMMERCIAL BREAK РYou know what labor brings you? A little person who likes to shove their fingers into their own poo in a pull up, while touching everything with their grubby, poopy finers. Thats what you get after all that damn hard work! END OF COMMERCIAL** Now back to your regularly scheduled blog post.

Ok. So your on your walk in the park. Soon, your picking up the pace and your stopping for a breather every 5 min, instead of 10 min. That breather now turns into something you have to focus on. Suddenly, a friend from years ago spots you and walks to chat it up. Its the last thing you want to do, so you start sprinting and they start chasing you…now, not only are you sprinting, but you need to stop every 1-2 min to catch your breath and try with all your might, not to kill your friend thats chasing you. Your legs hurts, your stomach hurts, your pretty sure that parts of you considered highly valuable are on fire…and your not catching a decent break. You sprint for a minute, then you breathe for a minute. The cycle continues until you can no longer think, your ability to function completely halts and the *only* thing going through your mind is either:¬†GIVE ME ALL THE DAMN DRUGS YOU CAN FIND IN THIS ENTIRE HOSPITAL¬†or….I AM NEVER DOING THIS SH*T AGAIN.¬†

The amount of pain the body can withstand without succumbing to death is far beyond what I imagined any human could tolerate. Now, your walk in the park is close to ending. Soon, you see the end of your journey…you can almost touch it….and VOILA! BABY! Your beautiful (or surrogate) baby has arrived and everything you just went through – homicidal thoughts, pain beyond what any human should experience, potentially breaking your partners hand bones…everything – is forgotten. Not joking. It becomes an instant distant memory and the gorgeous eyes staring back, change you. Your life gladly given for theirs, your heart expands with love every time it beats, that little innocent soul in your arms is yours. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, on Earth that compares to the reward waiting for you at the end of your labor journey.

What is labor like? Its like walking (or running) through hell, on a lake of burning charcoals for an undetermined amount of time. Hours or minutes. Sometimes, even days. It sucks.

I’ll be doing it again this March. And hopefully in 2019 for a set of intended parents. I’ll keep doing it as long as I can. Why? Because its worth it.¬†

Kids Add a Whole New Perspective

· Intended Parents, Parenting · No Comments

Having kids has given me pause on so many days. Sometimes that pause ends in laughter and sometimes, that pause ends in tears. Usually for me!

One afternoon I needed groceries. I packed up all three and off to the store we went. On our way into the store, my son (4yo) and oldest daughter (5yo) were having a conversation about cows and milk.

Daughter: Mom, how does milk get to the grocery store?
Son: Well, milk doesn’t come from cows.
Daughter: Yes it does!
Son: How do you know milk comes from cows??
Daughter: Cause their white.

I laughed and laughed. They see life as it is. Its only logical that if cows produce milk, white milk will come from white cows. Thus, chocolate milk from brown cows!

Or how about the time my husband and oldest daughter were cooking together. A good chef typically tastes the spices they use and tastes the food they use them in. It gives your palette a good idea of what your dish will taste like. We use two spices that look identical: Paprika & Cayenne pepper. (See where this is going yet?). My daughter asks to taste the Paprika and my husband ever-so-kindly obliges her innocent request.

In the back of my mind, I had the thought “Make sure she gets the right spice! A mouthful of cayenne would suck.” Sure enough, oldest daughter begins complaining “My tongue is burning! It burns!!” Hubby is disagreeing, “no it doesn’t…paprika doesn’t burn.” He looks at the containers of spices and says “ohhhh cr*p”. Queue the glass of milk, or rather,¬†glasses of milk! The poor girl had a sore tongue for a while and the dad guilt lasted even longer.

Beyond all the crazy moments, funny conversations, we’ve had moments that make my heart swell. My youngest is a mommy’s girl. Through and through. The occasions that she holds my face in her tiny, soft hands. Stares me in the eyes and says “I love you mommy” have my heart in my throat. The preciousness of a little one offering the most sincere message, recognizing her own feelings and giving them a voice…has my heart aflutter. She’s 3. Only three and can put me on cloud 9 in a few words. Its incredibly precious.

Unfortunately, we’ve also had moments that my pause is very much “what were you thinking?!” Today, was one of those days. Between my three and our neighbours oldest, they managed to remove 7 fence posts completely. The neighbours boy thought it would be fun. So he asked my three for help and good friends help, right? Yea…that was a definite WTF moment.

To add to WTF moments, my youngest getting into a vaseline jar makes the list. Big handfuls of vaseline…all over her face & tummy. The standing fans, even her change table got a dose of vaseline! Have you ever tried to clean grease out of a frying pan? Or spilled cooking oil on your stove? Notice how its tough to clean up and becomes difficult to get all of it off? Picture that…but on your toddler, the bathtub, the change table, you get the idea. BTW, dawn & vinegar removes vaseline from the bottom of your bathtub quite nicely.

Even with having learned how to clean up vaseline, a skill I would not survive parenthood without, and being educated by the 5yo on the origins of milk…I wouldn’t trade being a mom for anything. Its beyond challenging some days – lets be real, I live some days in PJ’s and use Pepsi as my energy – but its worth every moment of blood, sweat & tears.

Sleep? I’m Sorry, I Don’t Know What That Is.

As the parent of two toddlers and a 5yo, “sleep” isn’t a word I’m familiar with. Unless its in the sentences of “I got no sleep last night” or “I need 12 hours of sleep!”. I certainly¬†never use it to describe that amazing amount of sleep I got last night. And I used to think I was tired with no kids, working a full time job and then gaming during my free time. HAHAHA. I often have daydreams of going back in time and warning myself of what was to come!

Being a newborn is the first culprit. Newborns have a reputation for sleeping horribly, but there is a good reason for it. Their tiny tummies are the size of a cherry when they’re born. I’d be hungry all the time too if my tummy could only fit a teaspoon of food. Once their tummies finally grow and can hold a fair amount of sustenance…they begin teething. Teething was a nightmare for our family. Lots of crying, very little sleeping. Again, understandable since teething is unbelievably painful!

Even if you make it through the first year of challenges, there is always that odd thing that just happens. Night terrors are a good example of one such thing. Bad dreams don’t help. Lets not forget the nighttime potty training phase and them having accidents at 2am that wakes everyone up. Those are extra fun b/c it requires a bedding change, a wash down of said child & getting everyone back to sleep again. Easier said than done!

Once you get through the first year and the odd things…then you get life changes. Any major change messes with their sleeping. A growth spurt, a cognitive leap, moving homes, starting school, a life event such as adding a sibling, so on and so forth. Their sleep once again, goes out the window! My husband and I went through a couple weeks of hell with our oldest (5yo). She was up so much it was like having a newborn again! We never did figure out why, she was just going through something and we were along for the ride.

IF you get through ALL of the early years, the random things and the life changes…you get the stage of independence. AKA: The tween/teen years. Now your just awake because your worried, not because they don’t sleep through the night.

What can you take away from this? That sleep is not for parents. I have yet to hear a mom or dad describe parenthood “its the best time of your life! You get so much rest & relaxation, you never do anything, you get lots of free time to hang out with friends. Its the best thing ever!” ¬†While I do agree that it is the best thing ever, it is best to enter into parenthood with the expectation that your mattress is going to miss you dearly, and you, it. You may get to redevelop your sleepy relationship in 10 years if your lucky. Maybe 15. Until then, get used to sleeping standing up.