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Kids Add a Whole New Perspective

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.

Life Hacks

· Parenting · No Comments

I’m a mom. You might be a mom or a dad or an alien. Heck, you might be a tiger trying to raise cubs that don’t listen…I have no idea what that feels like! 😉

Being a mom of three has lent me many days that ended in wine. Sometimes, anything to make life easier is worth it. KD 7 days in a row b/c the kids asked? SURE! That totally qualifies as a life hack, right?

To save you some time in your busy home, I scoured the internet and found a few life hacks that will hopefully make your life a bit easier. Whether your taming 1 cub or 6 cubs!

#1. Hang your pouf on your shower hooks. 

#2. To avoid the kids opening, shutting & slamming those darn doors!

OR

#3. Use an old egg carton to hold paint for the kids.
**image source Chaunie Brusie

#4. Child got into the Sharpies…again?

#5. Use color coded stickers on food items in the fridge to identify allergens.
**Image source: Megan Bishop

What are some life hacks you use as a parent?

Birth and All its Wonders!

· Birth, Parenting, Surrogates · No Comments

There are very few topics that I am passionate about, one of the few however, is birth. Birth is one of those many wonders of the human body. Its a miraculous event to witness and an even bigger miracle to experience.

BUT…

Birth is also a physiological event that a lot of women enter into without a vast knowledge base of what to expect. Birth has a reputation for being long, painful and in a hospital. While those expectations of birth are real for many women, they are not the case for everyone.

Birth itself is 80% mental. No, I’m not joking. Having the right support can make all the difference between having a birth you want and having a birth that leaves you struggling mentally.

There are exceptions to every rule and this is no different. Birth comes in many forms – vaginal, cesarean section, breech, all natural, fully medicated…you name it. Each birthing woman has her own definition of the perfect birth. That being said, there are some factors that can dictate the flow of birth, that are over and above labor itself.

First, do your research. Go into your birth with some knowledge behind you. Do you know if you want medication for pain or not? If you don’t, why not? Is it because of risk factors or you simply want to do labor on your own? Do you want oxytocin to be administered at the end of your labor? Do you know what that oxytocin is for? How about the Vitamin K for baby, is that an option you want to allow or deny? Do you know what it is for? If your care provider comes to you with a potential scenario – lets use “failure to progress” – do you know what that actually means? What are your options? What the risks & benefits for you and baby?

While it is impossible to cover every scenario or “what if”, you can follow this acronym to help you through the many potential situations. BRAIN.

Benefits – What are the benefits to you and baby?
Risks – What are the risks to you and baby?
Alternative – Is there an alternative to accomplishing the same goal? vacuum vs. forceps?
Instint – Trust your instinct! You would be surprised that your body knows what its                         doing.
Nothing – You have the full right to do nothing. Maybe revisit the choice later.

Using BRAIN can offer up items for discussion that you maybe had not thought of. Utilize your support system if you have one with you. Spouse, Doula, friend, parent. Its good to have someone to discuss things with and bounce your questions or worries off of.

Second, your care provider and you should be on the same page. Find one who will support your decisions and be open to your questions. One who will help you achieve your goals and most importantly…one that you can trust. Whether it be an obstetrician, midwife or even a GP that specializes in obstetrics.

Last, but not least, support! Having support in the delivery room is essential. Having a woman on the brink of insanity making in-the-moment decisions is somewhat precarious. Having someone level-headed and grounded who can balance out the laboring mom while she both labors and tries to weighs the pros-cons of a decision – can help the mom achieve the labor she wants. A spouse is a wonderful emotional support, a Doula can be that physical/educational support you might want, the Grandma or a close Friend can also be wonderful support. In any case, try to have the support you feel 100% comfortable with in your delivery room. I swear it helps!

Keep in mind, sometimes you can go into birth with all the support in the world, all the knowledge you can possibly have and things will still go sideways. Expectations & birth don’t always go hand in hand, sometimes, its better to go with the mentality “If this happens, awesome! If it doesn’t, I will be ok with it”.

I wish you the absolute best with your birth. If you have had a traumatic birth, please reach out for help to get healing from it! Birth can be magical and every woman deserves to know that.

Heritage Day (Alberta)

· Holidays · No Comments

Today is August 7. The first Monday of August and as such, it has been designated a holiday. It is a Stat holiday in some provinces, but in Alberta, it is considered a general holiday. Businesses have the choice of remaining open or closing for the day and giving staff the day off.

In Edmonton, our famous Heritage Festival is always co-ordinated with August long weekend. Edmonton is filled with a vast array of cultures and the Heritage Festival takes 3 days to celebrate our diversity! The food is always incredible and the presentations each country puts on, are a sneak peek into what each culture is all about. If you can go, its worth it to take in the Heritage Festival.

Calgary has many options for celebrating Heritage Day in Alberta. You can take in Inglewood Sunfest, Heritage Day Festival or Heritage Park Heritage Day! There are many options to celebrating the diversity of Alberta.

Even if you choose to sit back, enjoy the rain (or sunshine if your having any!) and relax…its still a great way to take in a long weekend.

Ask, Don’t Assume!

Yesterday evening I was pondering what todays post might be. I have a guest post I could potentially put up and a few draft posts in waiting…but I had a conversation with a friend and it was a lengthy one. I asked her permission to post about the topic we discussed, its an important one.

ASSUMING.

How many times has someone cancelled an event with you? A playdate? Babysitting services? Was your first thought “Did I say something wrong?” or maybe your first thought was “But why? Am I that hard to be around?”

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: It’s not you!

I’m a mom of three. At any given moment, one of my children is screaming “MOM!”
– He took a toy from me
– She hit me
– He won’t play with me
– She ran over my toes
and so on and so forth. If I’m in the middle of a conversation, in person or through an electronic device, the conversation stops. I’m sure some of my friends have wondered if I have turrets on occasion. There are constant interruptions in a day, and not always from children. Gracious, I’m drowning in laundry, I have to make 3 meals a day for my family, my floors need cleaning and goodness knows I have a family of dust bunnies under all my furniture. Just because our conversation stops, doesn’t mean that I am angry with you. It means I am busy.

The conversation I had last night with my friend revealed that she had made some assumptions that left her thinking I don’t like her. Based purely on body language she interpreted incorrectly and her own assumptions after that. My main question to her was “why didn’t you ask me what I thought?” and it came to light that the reality of my honesty, scared her.

While that fear is so real, honesty is important. It allows a person to grow, make choices, adjust their perspective even. It allows for vulnerability and openness. Most of all, it provides transparency for both sides!

All of these traits are incredibly important for life, they are also of the utmost importance in Surrogacy. Your role might be an egg donor or a surrogate, either way, truthfulness is top priority. The creation of life is at your fingertips!

When intended parents begin their journey’s they already know what they are looking for. If they’re using an egg donor, they already know they want a brunette with green eyes (as an example). Or possibly someone who is shorter, to mimic the height of one parent. They may have entertained the idea of someone with blonde hair instead. Whatever the case, your honesty alters their life.

When it comes to the contract between a surrogate & her intended parents, so much can get lost in translation. 95% of the communication is done via electronic device – computer, cell phone, tablet, etc – and then to add to that, a large portion of the contract information is passed between two lawyers before it ever reaches the surrogate or intended parents. That is a lot of room for assumptions! The more assumptions you make, the bigger a rift that can form. All because someone assumed something. Its best to be honest and simply ask the question that is on your mind. There will always be fear of insulting someone, hurting someones feelings or possibly sounding rude. I’d rather that though, and getting clarification then letting them assume the worst of me! Who knows, they might surprise you and say “Hey! We were wondering the same thing!” and they might have had the same fears of being rude or insulting to you.

At the end of the day, honesty and truthfulness are a better choice than making an assumption. Be confident…ask, don’t assume!

Doulas & Why they are Important! – Guest Post

Catherine Catherall is a Doula who is also a surrogate. She is very experienced as a birth doula and I requested her to write up a guest about Doulas, what they do and why they play such an important role in birth. Please enjoy her insight.

“At the beginning of July my son was in a motorcycle accident. We were taken to see him in the trauma room. Now I have been in our local emergency room a few times with my children over the years. Our last visit there was for a bead up our littlest ones nose. It was no big deal. They explained to use what they were going to do and it was all smooth sailing. For my sons motorcycle accident I felt so incredibly lost and scared. I have not been in a trauma room with anything major before this. There was lots going on and people coming and going using words I didn’t know. I was scared. Then a nurse I know walked in. I burst into tears! Why? Because she was a familiar face to me. As soon as I saw her I felt incredible relief! I knew things were going to be ok. Was she actually going to make things okay? Heck no. But seeing a face in the crowds that I knew and trusted meant so much to me and calmed me right down. I got thinking about that later after all the dust settled. Just by SEEING someone I know, I felt better. She didn’t explain anything to me, she didn’t even stay the whole time. But she did give me a hug, which no one else had done. And I wouldn’t expect nurses to go around randomly hugging people. (though it might be nice!). I would have paid for someone I knew to be right there beside me explaining what is going on. Truly. A trauma doula if you will.

It made me realize that doulas are actually MORE important then I even realized! Usually birth is somewhat predictable. But sometimes things go sideways and the staff do not explain what is going on because they’re busy doing things. As a doula I always ask if the partner understands what is going on. Often if things happen quickly they get scared and maybe don’t even know what questions to ask! That is where I can help. I can usually explain who the people are, who is coming in the room (NICU staff, obstetricians, etc) so at least they know who is in the room. And because I have attended just about 100 births, I can also explain quite often what is going on and help them to ask questions if they need clarification on anything. Having that familiar face in the room can be so reassuring!


So who hires a doula? I have doula-ed for first time moms, fourth time moms, home births, planned cesareans, those who have chosen adoption for their baby, surrogates and many other scenarios. Often the partner is not totally on board for having a doula. I mean why can’t they be the doula? Well I will tell you why. Dads/partners are amazing people! There is no doubt about it but how many of them have been to a birth before? Not many. A doula can explain that when the birthing person says “I am done! I am going home!”, she doesn’t actually want to go home… she is probably in transition and that is a good thing! I often send the partner to rest or get some food if the labour is longer. If there is no partner I can be that sole support to the mom and help her with comfort measures, changing positions and whatever else she may need. I have gone in the operating room in place of the dad a couple of times now where the dad just knew they would not do well in that situation. I have supported surrogates and made sure they were not left all alone once the baby was born and the IPs were with the baby bonding. Basically anyone who is pregnant can benefit from the support of a doula.

What does a doula do? That varies for sure! During pregnancy it’s providing information, getting to know my clients and how they see the birth going, supporting them during labour and delivery with comfort measures, information, things like getting water and extra pillows. Postpartum it’s helping with breastfeeding, helping with local resources, answering questions, etc. There is evidence based information on doulas being a part of someone’s birth team for sure! One dad told me “You don’t know how much you need a doula, until after”. Once you actually experience what we can do to help, then you get it. So if you are expecting or planning a pregnancy, look into doulas!”


“Christine Catherall is a birth doula, postpartum doula, childbirth educator, infant sleep educator, Evidence Based Birth instructor and owner of Central Alberta Doulas. She has been supporting families in Red Deer and Central Alberta since 2012. You can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CentralAlbertaDoulas/ and her website is www.Centralalbertadoulas.com”

Retreats for our Surrogates & Egg Donors

· Egg Donors, Surrogates · No Comments

Being a part of ANU has been so incredibly fun for me! One big perk (well, its a big perk imo) is the retreats offered for the surro’s & egg donors. Every year, there is one for the BC ladies, AB ladies & ON ladies. Typically, they’re done in the Summer. Can you imagine asking pregnant women high on hormones to go on a retreat in -30C weather? while comical maybe, not practical.

This year, the BC retreat is the weekend of Aug 11-13 being hosted in Harrison Hot Springs. It includes an essential oils class AND a meal prepared by a Masterchef Canada finalist! It sounds like so much fun to me.

The AB retreat is the weekend of Aug 25-27 and being hosted in Sylvan Lake. I know the activities being planned will include lots of laughter!

I can’t wait!

The ON retreat is still TBD.

Surro Saturday! – Rylan

Its Surro Saturday again! Please enjoy this guest post that Rylan took the time to write up for us.

 

“It’s hard to pinpoint a beginning of my surrogacy journey. It may have been a book. The fictional book was written from the perspective of a woman who vowed to do something “good” each day for a year.
I loved the idea behind the story, but not the writing execution. It did inspire me. I set out a plan for my own year long social experiment. My plan was to complete 365 random acts of kindness over thr next year. They must, whenever possible, be anonymous and never include the demand or expectation for the recipient to “pay it forward”. It was to be kindness for kindness sake alone.
This social experiment is NOT why I became a surrogate. Yet, this social experiment changed and grew me in all kinds of ways I had not for seen.
When thinking of doing something for someone I no longer considered personal gain. The idea that I was in a place to judge who was “deserving” of kindness and love fled.
So when I rediscovered surrogacy in 2015 my only thought was “I can’t imagine why not”.

Surrogacy is not a call for everyone. I am deeply grateful that I am called to it.

I met my first set of Intended Parents in the early autumn of 2015. At first their mature age was a surprise for me. I was quickly able to see that the number of trips around the sun one takes is in no way related to our hearts desires and ability to love and care for precious life.

A uterine polyp was discovered during my screening process. Routine surgery took care of it perfectly, yet did result in a more stretched out time line than we had hoped for.

Family Day of 2016 I was to board a flight to BC for our embryo transfer procedure. Considering the extremely mild winter we had been experiencing, the snow storm that hit that morning took everyone by surprise. Traffic jams at 4am, delayed flights, over booked flights, cancelled flights, missed flights. My husband and I spent 30 hours in airports trying desperately to make our appointment at the fertility clinic the following morning.
Through the sheer grace of God and the beautiful heart of an unknown, off duty flight attendant we indeed did *just* make our appointment time. It was high stress travel that still did not manage to go as planned for our return trip home.
Two weeks later, breaking the news to C and K that the cycle had failed was incredibly difficult. In all honestly though, none of us were surprised considering the stress.

In April we were able to once again fly to BC for a second embryo transfer. We hit no traffic. The flights were on time. We knew where we were going. The hotel staff were very accommodating. I felt hopeful and positive about this transfer.
And I had reason to! On Mothers day I was able to send C a photo of my blood work confirming the pregnancy!

This was my easiest pregnancy. My morning sickness was ever present, but not crippling like it was with my biological children. I gained no weight but baby kept growing perfectly (when one is married to a pastry chef she often has a few pounds she would be happy to see vanish- as is my case).

Without incessant morning sickness I had more energy this pregnancy than any before. I was able to stay on top of running a home daycare, home schooling both my children and starting up a new business venture from the ground up.

I craved green grapes. Once my husband brought me home red grapes from the grocery store, figuring grapes were grapes. Pregnancy cravings disagreed!! That mistake was not made twice 😉

Having never been a surrogate before I did question how I would *actually* feel about handing over this tiny person to her parents after delivery. I knew how I was called to feel. I knew how I wanted to feel, but I wasn’t sure if it would work out that way.

I loved to keep C and K on top of all new developments. They delighted in new ultrasound photos, or hearing about scent aversions or my food cravings.
The depth of our relationship grew over those months. It was so fascinating to develop this completely unique relationship with people who would be complete strangers to us if I were not growing their daughter.

Due to geographical distance we did not get to meet C and K in person until a few days before my due date. They were warm and happy people who were so excited and nervous about the stage to come.

Labour finally started four days past due in the evening.
Come the morning my husband and I took our children to a family members home for care. Then off we went to the hospital.
Upon arrival I was asked to don a gown and wait to be checked. But, four days past due, baby was done with waiting. She kicked twice. The second time breaking my water. The vomiting was immediate from that point. I was moved into a delivery room and received the blessing of an epidural.
There we sat, for the next six hours, my husband and I with C and K. I was fully dialiated and ready to deliver within moments of receiving my epidural. But since the only OBGYN on staff in the hospital that day was caught up in back to back to back emergency c sections, we waited.
C and K wanted to be in the delivery room, but requested to not watch the delivery. A curtain room divider was the ideal solution.
Baby M was delivered smoothly and without complication. She was immediately brought to her parents for skin on skin contact.

I never felt more powerful in my whole life. I felt strong. And useful. I felt uplifted.
And I felt joy and relief to realize that watching that child be delivered into the arms of already in love parents was not difficult at all. It felt exactly right. It felt like the strongest example of loving ones neighbour as oneself as I could imagine.

And I can hardly wait to do it again.”

Summer Recipes

· Cooking · No Comments

I live in Edmonton, AB, Canada and it is our summertime. My background, is mennonite. I have such fond memories of growing up in a small (lets be real, tiny is more accurate) mennonite town! If there is one thing mennonites know about, its cooking. Cooking & baking. The food is so darn good. Its probably why my hips are rather voluptuous.

One of my favorite mennonite summer recipes is something called Rollkuchen. If you pronounce it in plain english, your saying it wrong. You have to roll the “R” and the “ch” makes a throaty cue sound. It is something that is typically eaten with Watermelon and since its Summer, Watermelon is a very popular meal in our home. Its cool, refreshing and packed with Vitamin C and Iron – both important for kids!  Its essentially a deep fried dough, nothing fancy. You eat the rollkuchen & watermelon together and it tastes absolutely divine.

If you feel inventive, some women stuff the rollkuchen with jams, fruits, chocolate sauce…kind of like making your own elephant ears at home. With leftover Rollkuchen, you can place them in a bag for overnight storing and toast them in the toaster the next morning. Slather them in PB&J and you’ve got yourself an awesome tasting slice of “toast”!

Another summer favorite of my family is a Balsamic Vinaigrette. My husband & kids love salad in the summer. Its both cool and refreshing and chock full of veggies. However, I’m quite picky about my dressings and frankly, finding a good balsamic vinaigrette is not easy. So I make my own! Its thick, tasty, not too sweet or tart and adds that pop of flavor into a greek salad or a simple house salad.

Today, I am sharing both of those recipes with you. I sincerely hope that if you try them, that they are as enjoyable for you and your family as they are to mine. <3

Rollkuchen
3 cups Flour
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Powder
*You will also need milk, egs, margarine & 1 liter oil (veggie, corn, canola..you pick).

Place oil into a large pot & heat up to 375F. Mix flour, salt & baking powder in a bowl. Add 6 tbsp melted margarine. Beat 2 eggs well and put them into a cup (a coffee mug is perfect). Fill the cup up with milk. Add the eggs/milk mixture into the flour. Mix well! Add flour until you reach the desired consistancy (not sticky, but not too firm either). Using a rolling pin, roll out into a thin layer of dough (about 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick). Cut into squares (4″x4″ is a good size). Place cut pieces into the hot oil, brown lightly on both sides. Remove & Enjoy! Some of them may puff up or remain flat.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/2 cup Oil (I use extra virgin olive oil)
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp honey (or corn syrup)
1 tsp Dijon, Honey OR Reg Mustard
1 tsp Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
Salt & Pepper to taste (I use minimal salt and loads of pepper)

Mix all ingredients well and place in a jar/container for storage in the fridge. This vinaigrette usually takes quite a while to seperate. It also tends to be a bit on the thicker side. But super yummy!