Infertility Authors & Experts Interview: Lisa Newton, Amateur Nester Blooger



                                                 Blogger at

Question: How did the creation of your website,, come about?

Answer: I originally intended it to be a blog about my attempts at DIY, crafting, and decorating my home. I quickly realized I wasn’t very good at any of that, and decided to blog about my infertility treatments instead. Luckily for me, the name of the blog lent itself to both DIY and infertility!

Question: What has been the toughest part of your journey?

Answer: The toughest part is how much infertility affects every other area of my life.  Obviously, it takes a huge financial and emotional toll, but it’s also affected other, more surprising areas. For example, I’ve gained some weight since our treatments started, but I’ve resisted buying new clothes because each month I hope I’ll get pregnant. I don’t want to waste good money on clothes that I’ll outgrow during a pregnancy. So, I have very few clothes that fit right now and it’s taken a surprising toll on my self-image. 

Question: You interview other couples who have gone through the infertility rollercoaster. What story has inspired you the most?

Answer: That is almost impossible to answer! Each interview inspires me in different ways depending on their circumstances and stories. However, if I had to choose one, I’d say it’s Candace and Chris from Our MisconceptionThey have been through hell and back, and I was awe-struck by their willingness to have their final IVF cycle documented for MTV. Watching their episode made me realize just how powerful openness and transparency can be, and that’s when I decided to reveal my name on my blog and eventually “come out” on my personal Facebook. 

Question: How has your faith helped you through the trials and tribulations of infertility?

Answer: My faith in God is what keeps me from losing all hope. I don’t believe that God causes bad things to happen to us, but I believe He uses them for good in our lives.  Don’t get me wrong. I question God on a daily basis about why He allows infertility for me and all the other people who struggle with it. I don’t understand. But that’s where faith comes in. Even though I don’t understand, I choose to believe that there’s purpose in what I’m going through and He will ultimately use it for good.

Question: If you had a younger sister go through infertility, what advice would you give her?

Answer: I’d tell her to seek out community. It can be in the form of an in-person support group, an online group, or blogging. I’d encourage her to connect with other people who have been through infertility in whatever way she can. I’ve received so much support and made some amazing online friends through blogging, and I’d encourage her to do something similar. It’s amazing how much it helps to know that other people understand what you’re going through. 


Lisa blogs about her infertility journey and interviews other infertility survivors at  When she’s not blogging, she’s eating Ruffles Reduced Fat Potato Chips, watching The Big Bang Theory reruns, or reading (often all at the same time).  She lives with her husband, Tom, and their orange cat, Hemingway, on the California central coast.




Sleep Authors & Experts Interview: Dana Obleman


Author of The Sleep Sense Program

Question: How did you become a Parenting/ Sleep Consultant?

Answer: It has always been my dream to work with children. To make that dream a reality, I went to college to receive a BA in psychology and an education degree in the late 1990s and then spent a few wonderful years working as a first grade teacher.

Then I got pregnant with my first child, and my life took a detour I didn’t expect! My husband and I suffered from intense sleep deprivation during the first few months of my son’s life as we struggled to deal with his sleep issues and teach him how to get a good night’s sleep. None of the parenting books available seemed to fit our family’s needs… Some were way too harsh and didn’t take the children’s needs and comfort into consideration, while others basically said, “Suck it up, mom and dad, your child’s needs are everything and it doesn’t matter if you don’t get a good night’s sleep!”

Frustrated with the lack of practical advice, I did my own research and developed my own child sleep training program which became the basis of my first book, The Sleep Sense™ Program. 

Question: What is the overall sleep philosophy with the Sleep Sense Program?

Answer: I created The Sleep Sense™ Program because I feel strongly that healthy sleep habits make for healthy children. A well-rested child is curious, energetic, happy, playful, and eager to learn. I am more interested in improving a child’s sleep than preaching a particular sleep philosophy.

While most books and programs dealing with child sleep problems take philosophical stands (based largely around the issue of “crying it out”), I believe that your child’s sleep is more important than my personal views on the subject. That’s why I’ve placed so much emphasis on accommodating different parenting styles within The Sleep Sense™ Program.

My approach to improving your child’s sleep is pretty simple. I’ll give you honest information about WHY sleep is so important for your child’s well-being. I’ll lay out an easy-to-follow, step-by-step plan that lets you make some choices about what is the right approach for your child. And I’ll show you how to measure success.

Question: Are there specific sleep props you recommend parents avoid (or give up) to improve nighttime sleep? 

Answer: A sleep prop is basically anything your child thinks she needs in order for sleep to come. So for example, if a baby is rocked to sleep, then she begins to associate sleep with rocking and will have a very difficult time getting to sleep without it because she doesn’t know how. Sleep props prevent a baby from developing internal strategies for getting themselves to sleep, therefore they tend to wake often looking for assistance. When you begin to teach a baby to sleep well, then all the props you’ve currently used need to go so your baby can begin to learn some strategies that are all her own, and become a great sleeper.

Question: Do you have any advice for those parents like us, with toddlers who were good sleepers as babies, but then suddenly started waking up crying out in the night, climbing into our bed, etc.?

Answer:  There is always a point in a toddler’s life where they begin to push the boundaries around bedtime. I’ve never met a toddler yet, who didn’t develop some sleep challenges at some point. The problem is that it usually throws the parent off, as they are wondering why their child who has slept very well, is suddenly yelling the house down at bedtime. The parent then rushes in wondering what could be wrong and often starts to negotiate. When the toddler realizes that all this fuss gets a reaction, then you can be sure he tires it again and again, and quickly a parent can lose all control over bedtime.

My best advice is that parents understand that boundary pushing is a natural part of a toddler’s development, and that if they remain consistent and firm, the testing blows over fairly quickly. It is also very important to stick to a “one warning, then consequence” rule, so that the child doesn’t endlessly push for negative attention. 

Question: For parents who want one-on-one help, what types of services do you offer?

Answer: There is always the “Do it yourself” guide with video coaching. However, some people like to have a more personal touch so I’ve certified several Sleep Sense Consultants who are on hand and personally trained by me to provide parents with the support and guidance needed to get them to success!


Dana Obleman is the author of The Sleep Sense Program which has been used by more than 32,000 families to get their children sleeping through the night. You can get a free sleep assessment for your child by clicking here or visiting her website at

Twitter: @SleepBabyDana / YouTube:

Child Development Authors & Experts Interview: Lise Eliot, Ph. D., Author of Pink Brain Blue Brain


Author of Pink Brain Blue Brain

Question: We are big fans of your book, What’s Going On In There?, so we were very excited for your new book to be released. What inspired you to write Pink Brain Blue Brain?

Answer: Like many parents, I was fascinated by the differences between my daughter and sons.  But as a neuroscientist, I was curious how these differences are reflected in their brains. And if there are differences between boys’ and girls’ brains, what causes them—nature or nurture? I’ve also always been fascinated by the degree to which our personalities and abilities are shaped by innate factors, such as genes and hormones, versus environment—learning and experiences. Sex differences are a perfect distillation of this question, because there are obviously inborn biological differences between boys and girls, as well as deep differences in the culture boys and girls grow up in. I relished the chance to dig into the actual scientific data on the comparative roles of nature and nurture in creating sex differences in children’s brains and behavior.

Question: If readers were to take away one key lesson from your book, what do you hope it would be?

Answer: That boy-girl differences are not as “hard-wired” as many parents believe. Yes, there are innate differences, but they are more like biases, not absolute preferences or abilities.  And these small differences become magnified through all sorts of influences—marketing, parenting, and especially kid culture itself.   

There is so little we do with our brains that is actually hard-wired.   Most of our abilities, preferences, and even personality traits are shaped through neural plasticity—the brain’s fantastic ability to adapt to whatever culture, peer group, and educational system it is growing up in.  A better way to think about it is that whatever you do with your brain is what it becomes “wired” for.   So any time you see an obvious difference between men and women, or boys and girls, you have to ask yourself: How did they spend their time over the past three or thirty years to make their brains so good (or so bad) at certain skills?  And more importantly, if boys or girls are struggling in a particular area—whether it’s math, reading, or just sitting still in class—how can the right environment and forms of practice help them catch up?

Question: Did anything unexpected come out of your research writing this book?

Answer: Yes. As a biologist, I started out focused on figuring out precisely how boys’ and girls’ brains differ and the role of hormones in creating such differences. But the data just aren’t there! Scientists have identified very few reliable differences between men’s and women’s brains, much less between boys’ and girls’.  So rather than focusing on the “nature” side (for which there is very little evidence) I shifted my emphasis to the “nurture” side of the equation—toward uncovering the many ways in which parents, teachers, and especially children’s own beliefs about gender-appropriate behavior trigger the neuroplasticity that magnifies small initial differences into more troublesome boy-girl gaps.

Question: Which genuine difference surprised you the most?

Answer: The writing gap is much larger than I appreciated—especially when you consider all the great male writers through history. Boys clearly need more attention in this area, and I’ve suggested several ways to do this in the book. I was also frankly surprised that the sex difference in spatial navigation is as large as it is. I love maps and always orient myself in terms of north-south-east-west, so to learn that women, on average, really are poorer at this than men was eye-opening, and makes me all the more determined to use such “direction-speak” when I’m driving my kids—daughter and sons—around town.

On the other hand, I was honestly surprised at how weak the evidence is for hormonal effects on our mood and thinking abilities. While prenatal testosterone has some influence over play behavior and perhaps later sexual orientation, the sex hormones that rise at puberty and remain elevated in adults have surprisingly modest effects on our thinking—except for sex drive, which testosterone elevates in both men and women!

Question: You have two sons and a daughter. Do you think either girls or boys are harder to raise in a gender-balanced way?

Answer: Things have changed a lot for girls; parents’ preaching “you can do anything you want” is paying off, especially in sports and academic achievement. Girls really can do anything these days, and while some still restrict themselves to certain activities (for example, because they see computer programming camp as a “guy” thing), their parents are not usually the ones feeding them such ideas.  We are definitely seeing girls moving into areas they didn’t broach before, like playing hockey, the trombone, or running for student council president.

With boys, it’s harder, because our society is still very homophobic and many people seem to believe that sending a boy to ballet class will make him gay.  So we are freer to raise our daughters along a broader expanse of the gender spectrum, but boys are being painted into an ever-tinier corner as both they and society yields ground to girls.  It takes a community-wide effort to make a difference. In my town, we happen to have a great choral teacher who gets considerable numbers of middle-school boys singing and dancing. But this is just one lucky happenstance of local culture. Most other activities are distressingly gender-segregated, which is bad for both boys and girls.

The only way around this pink-blue barrier is to require kids to engage in certain activities. When I was in middle school, everyone had to take woodworking as part of art class. Nowadays, we let kids choose woodworking versus painting, so guess who ends up in each class? As I argue in the book, we need to reign in some of kids’ choices if we want to reduce the gnawing gaps between boys and girls.

On the other hand, as a mother of a teenaged daughter, if you ask me which sex is harder to raise, regardless of gender issues… well, answering that will just get me into a lot of trouble.


Lise Eliot is Associate Professor of Neuroscience at The Chicago Medical School of Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science. A Chicago native, she received an A.B. degree from Harvard University, a Ph.D. from Columbia University, and did post-doctoral research at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. In addition to teaching and writing, Dr. Eliot lectures widely on children’s brain and gender development. She lives in Lake Bluff, Illinois with her husband and three children. 

Website:  Twitter: @Lise_Eliot

Breaking Down Lahl's Arguments to Ban Surrogacy

Jennifer Lahl is fighting to outlaw surrogacy in the United States. In her new documentary, Breeders: A Sub-Class of Women, she explores the issue of third-party reproduction. However, the documentary is not about the surrogacy industry, which is how the movie is marketed. It is a movie about independent surrogacies gone wrong, without the checks and balances of professional agencies, lawyers, therapists, etc.

Surrogacy is not a worldwide fertility option. It is banned in many countries, and where it is allowed, there are often ethics committees involved in evaluating cases. Several countries will allow altruistic surrogacy, where the carrier is not compensated above and beyond the expenses of pregnancy and delivery. Countries have many reasons for banning surrogacy, one of the chief reasons being the belief that surrogacy commodifies the human body.

I haven't seen Lahl argue the legal uses of a woman's body as a reason for banning surrogacy. Let’s review her main arguments against surrogacy from her recent ABC News Interview:

 1. Surrogacy has become a baby-buying operation by wealthy women.

First, surrogacy is not always a baby-buying operation by wealthy women. Does that happen? Sure. But of the 2,000 U.S. surrogacy cases in a given year, is it 5% of the time? 10%? 25%? To my knowledge, there are no statistics available around the wealth of the couples hiring carriers. I doubt the majority seeking out surrogates are women who want to “buy” their baby to avoid stretch marks or the uncomfortable side effects of pregnancy. I believe this is a very small percentage, just like Lahl’s handful of examples of surrogacy gone wrong versus the thousands of cases where it has gone smoothly.

Most often, surrogacy is sought by couples who cannot have their own children due to infertility. Women who cannot carry a baby to term, for whatever reason, have only one choice outside of adoption, and that is to have a gestational surrogate carry the couple’s child. Surrogacy is very expensive, but you’d likely find many middle-class couples who used their savings in order to bring their biological child, their dream, into this world. Is it fair that less fortunate couples cannot afford surrogacy? Certainly not. Unfortunately, there are many unfair realities for the poor, of which there are way too many in this country. But that is for another discussion.

Same-sex couples also turn to surrogacy to have children that carry on their own genes. In a time where a majority of people in this country finally agree with same-sex marriages, are we now going to ban them from having children?

“Banning gestational carrier surrogacy is a way of saying that certain people shouldn’t have children,” said Barbara Collura, executive director of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association in a Good Morning America interview. “I am not sure that is what our country wants to tell people.”

2. Surrogacy exploits vulnerable women, often those of lesser means.

First, surrogacy is not always for money. Sometimes family members or friends or even neighbors agree to be surrogates. I remember the day my sister volunteered to be a surrogate for my husband and me. We had been trying to conceive for three years, had tried multiple fertility treatments, and had miscarried with our first in vitro. We had unexplained infertility, and if I had not been able to carry a baby to term after a few more tries at in vitro, we would have considered my sister’s offer. 

Not everyone has a volunteer to turn to - and surrogacy is a very big favor to ask of someone. For commercial surrogacy, guidelines published by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine state that a gestational surrogate is “generally compensated for the time and effort involved in fulfilling this role,” and recommends that the compensation be agreed upon in advance and “documented in the contract between the carrier and the intended parents.”

So who are the carriers undertaking pregnancy for money? And are they, in fact, vulnerable women being exploited? Lahl would like everyone to believe this is the case. But again, there are no statistics to back this argument, at least none that I could find. Only hand-picked examples, like those in her documentary.

Professional surrogacy agencies go to great lengths to make sure the carrier is psychologically stable and that all of the parties understand the agreement details before a legal contract is signed. Again, the examples in Breeders were not carried out by professional agencies. And that contributed to many of the surrogacy issues documented in the movie.

The documentary talks about the significant percentage of military wives who become surrogates. One reason for this is because, with their husbands abroad and children of their own at home to care for, there aren’t many other options to bring in the kind of revenue surrogacy can. If you asked the surrogate military wives if they were vulnerable, and/or being exploited, what would they say? Many of those interviewed loved the experience and were grateful for the opportunity.

3. Surrogacy and IVF are damaging to children.

In the ABC News interview, Lahl said she also worries about the “primal wound” when a child is separated from its carrier. What is the primal wound, and does it apply to surrogacy?

The primal wound theory is that those who are adopted carry a scar from being separated from their biological parents. This theory came out of clinical research that showed adopted children often have more psychological issues. But the primal wound theory appears to be just that – a theory.

In an interview with Dr. Charles Nelson, Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and one of the leading experts on how early childhood neglect, abuse, malnutrition, institutionalization, and prenatal environment affects children, Nelson claims, There is no scientific evidence to support the primal wound theory that all adopted people carry a scar from being separated from biological parents. A theory that says just because they were separated from their birthmother leaves a permanent wound is just false on the face of it.”

Even if proof existed for a primal wound, that there is some kind of irreparable broken bond between biological mother and parent, would it apply to surrogacy, where the birth mother has no biological tie to the child? Is it a biological issue or a psychological one?

As to Lahl's claim that surrogacy and IVF are damaging to children, no proof exists to substantiate this damage, other than stories here and there where children were disappointed to find out that they were surrogate children, or where surrogate babies were delivered into the hands of abusive parents. While these are certainly awful situations, they do not represent the masses. They do not substantiate banning surrogacy for all. 

Lahl also worries that children do not have a say. ”It always strikes me that the children are so absent in the discussions,” said Lahl in the interview. While this is certainly true, children NEVER have a say about what family they’re born into. I’m not sure where that argument is meant to go.

Jennifer Lahl’s documentary is just that, a one-sided opinion about the issues she sees in surrogacy. Lahl has written in the past about why surrogacy and in vitro are not Christian concepts. From what I’ve read and watched, I wonder if this all really comes down to her belief that science does not belong in the realm of baby making. That only God should be able to make those decisions. And she is certainly entitled to that opinion. But that is what makes the United States of America a wonderful democracy. Along with Lahl’s entitlement to her opinion, comes the freedom of choice for all of the other women in this country who disagree with her.

I personally do not believe it should be up to Jennifer Lahl, or lawmakers, to say who should or shouldn’t have children. As an infertility warrior, I have to side with the couples who are willing to go to great lengths to have a baby. And I see positives for carriers, even for commercial surrogates, in the right circumstances.

Lahl claims the Unites States is the "Wild West" of surrogacy. I believe consistent regulations around surrogacy throughout the country that protect carriers, the intended parents and the children involved would be ideal. So let's focus on how to improve the surrogacy contract and how to handle any arising disputes, instead of crushing the dreams of couples hoping to bring their baby into this world.

You now have my 2 cents. And that may be exactly what it's worth. But it sure does feel good to get it off my chest.

Infertility Authors & Experts Interview: Justine Froelker, Author of Ever Upward


Author of Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Own a Childfree Life

Question: What inspired you to start the blog, Ever Upward?

Answer: I was honest within my very first post in November 2013. I started Ever Upward, the blog, to build credibility and the platform for the book. Never could I have imagined the life it would grow all on it’s own. The people I have met, the relationships and connections that have grown, the support and love I have felt are simply immeasurable!

Question: Please tell us more about your upcoming book, Ever Upward: Owning My Childfree Life in Our Child Obsessed World.

Answer: Ever Upward is my hopeful story of what I did to change my life for the better after the heartbreaking, devastating and life-long losses of infertility. Ever Upward begins with my incredible story of surviving life through two back surgeries, a year in a body cast and two rounds of IVF with a gestational surrogate. I guide the reader through the strategies I used to overcome the loss of my dream of motherhood and chose to thrive through the ownership and acceptance of my childfree life.

Question: What do you hope readers take away from your story?

Answer: I hope they will be entertained by my life story and, better yet, changed to know that we are all capable of changing and redefining our lives. I hope to start and continue the conversation around breaking the silence of infertility of any kind.

Most of all, I hope to give readers the permission to own all the parts of their story; to accept and even love every version of the happy endings, no matter the loss, trauma or tragedy suffered, especially in infertility treatments.

Question: Do you think your experience as a therapist made the infertility journey easier or harder on you?

Answer: Honestly, both. Easier in that I read, research and know many resources for life improvement, even just beyond the therapeutic theory. But also more difficult in that there were times through my recovery from infertility that I felt like a fraud in fighting my own struggles and in searching for my own recovery. What I know now is that my struggles, my ownership of my fight and my recovery are what make me a great therapist. As I have done my own work I have seen how much more I can give to my clients in helping them through whatever they are facing right now. I also know my struggles and my story of infertility, especially my ending in which many would say can’t be a happy ending, helps me tremendously with understanding others going through the journey, no matter where they are in it or what their result.

Question: What is your favorite piece of advice to give couples dealing with infertility?

Answer: Talk about it and maybe even seek outside professional help. I think to only rely on each other and your medical team is way too much for any relationship to handle. You don’t have to tell everyone in your life and you don’t have to write a public blog or publish a book like I have. But, I think, if we actually break the shamed silence of infertility and own all the parts of our stories, our treatments could have higher success rates, we could get the understanding we so want and need and we will be happier and healthier versions of ourselves, no matter what our happy ending looks like.


Justine Brooks Froelker, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator-Candidate (based on the research of Brené Brown) with a private practice in St. Louis, Missouri. For the last 14 years she has helped her clients achieve success in improving their quality of life as it relates to anxiety, depression, relationships, infertility, addictions, perfectionism, eating and weight issues and common discontent, using a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Solution Focused Therapy.

In addition to her private practice, Ms. Froelker is an adjunct faculty member at Saint Louis Community College, where she teaches General Psychology. She can be seen regularly on the St. Louis KMOV live midday show, Great Day St. Louis. Ms. Froelker contributes to the monthly publication, St. Louis Health & Wellness Magazine, as an expert therapist. She is also currently updating her blog, Ever Upward, about her personal experience with infertility, which can be found at Her book will be available late 2014 or early 2015.

Website: and

Twitter: @JustineFroelker 


Parent Tips: Ailments and Frets

It all started six months ago. All of a sudden, we couldn't get through a day without Sydney (6) saying something hurt. Her throat, her neck, her head, her leg, her foot, her ear, her stomach. You name a body part, it's hurt at some point in the last 180 days!

We took her to the doctor and there doesn't appear to be anything wrong with her medically. She sleeps well, eats (well enough), and gets her exercise. So what do we do now? Is she faking it to get attention? Or does she really feel these ailments. And if so, why?

We've tried to be empathetic, instead of dismissive or frustrated. This can be challenging when you hear the words, "Mommy, my tummy hurts," or "Please take my temperature," for the sixteenth time in less than an hour.

We've provided her non-medicinal options that make sense for the situation - rest, massage, ice pack, etc., etc. Those ideas haven't quelled the ailments, or the complaints.

Sydney is a dweller and it is hard to distract her from what's bothering her or turn her attention to the positive. When this first became "a thing," I researched to see if any other parents had the same issue with their young children. I came across a great forum thread with the following suggestions:

  1. Teach the difference between reasonable worry and dwelling - and how to disrupt the dwelling through activity.
  2. Talk to your toddler about the importance of a positive outlook - that believing one is healthy is a great way to stay healthy.
  3. Tell them to write any negative feelings in a journal that you can review together once a week instead of talking about it constantly.
  4. Set time limits around worrying and fretting, letting them know the rest of the time must be spent doing something else.

I'm hoping with our help, Sydney will realize she does have control over her feelings and what she chooses to think about.

And so we've been trying all of the tactics above. Some days it seems to work (especially that journal idea, even though she's never actually written anything down - just the suggestion stops the whining). 

Suddenly, it's summer and I can't remember hearing one complaint in two weeks. Could it be as simple as Sydney wanting to steal away some of our attention because she doesn't get enough of it when school is in session? Or so busy playing she can't be bothered fretting? We'll see. For now, I'll relish the break from the ailments, and the complaints about them.

Infertility Authors & Experts Interview: Thomas C. Vaughn MD



Question: What inspired you to focus your medical training on infertility?

Answer: I was very interested in Obstetrics and Gynecology in medical school but I became more interested in infertility as I progressed through my OB/GYN education.  I found the practice of infertility to be more intriguing than the practice of obstetrics and gynecology.  I enjoyed the reconstructive surgery required for the practice of infertility more than surgical procedures for general gynecology such as sterilization, hysterectomy, etc.  And, the patients having difficulty conceiving are really engaged in their health care which makes the practice very enjoyable.

Question: What do you typically recommend at the first appointment for a couple who’s been unsuccessful getting pregnant on their own?

Answer: Many social habits can reduce the chance of conceiving.  It is important to identify those habits and encourage changes that are beneficial.  Smoking strongly reduces the chances of conceiving and increases the chance of miscarriage. Smoking should be avoided.  Also, it is important to limit caffeine and alcohol.  These are things that couples can do on their own to maximize their chances of conceiving.  Also, it is a good idea to explain the tests necessary to diagnose the cause of their infertility.  It is important to make a plan for the couples to complete these tests in a short period of time.  After completing the diagnostic tests, it is a good idea to meet with the couple again to discuss the appropriate treatments.  Sometimes there is no identifiable cause for the infertility and the patient is considered to have “unexplained infertility.” Although this diagnosis may sound discouraging to a couple, there are many treatments that can improve their chances of becoming pregnant. 

Question: What is the biggest challenge for you, as a physician, in the infertility field?

Answer: The biggest challenge is encouraging couples to ask for assistance early in their quest to become pregnant.  It is recommended that couples seek advice if they have had 6-12 months of unprotected intercourse and have not conceived.  The age of the egg is one of the most difficult barriers to overcome. Fertility for women begins declining at age 30 -31.  Unfortunately, some patients delay asking for help until they are in their late 30s or early 40s.   

Question: The average success rates for births at fertility clinics have roughly doubled in the past decade. What do you attribute the increased success to?

Answer: Success rates have increased significantly with in vitro fertilization because of improvements in the IVF laboratory environment.  Also, a new procedure for cryopreservation of embryos and oocytes called vitrification has revolutionized the procedure and increased the success rates. Many women are cryopreserving their oocytes prior to treatment for cancer since chemotherapy and/or radiation can destroy the ovary, rendering a woman infertile.  Cryopreservation before treatment gives them hope of being able to become pregnant after completing their cancer treatments.  

Question: We came to almost every appointment with you together, as a team. In your experience, are husbands getting more involved in the infertility process these days than they were in the past?  

Answer: Yes.  After all, at least 40% of the time there are issues with the sperm.  Therefore, it is really important that the husbands attend as many appointments as possible.  Most husbands are interested in accompanying their wives for appointments but their work doesn’t always allow them to be present.  Clearly, husbands are invited to attend all appointments and consultations.


A native of Dallas, Texas, Dr. Vaughn received his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin. He completed his medical school training and residency in Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. He attended Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, for his fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility. Dr. Vaughn was a founder of Austin’s oldest and largest In Vitro Fertilization Program in Central Texas. He has served as the President of the Medical Staff of the Seton Health Care Network. Dr. Vaughn is Board Certified in both Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility.

Learn more about Dr. Vaughn and the Texas Fertility Center at

Lessons Learned: Temper Tantrums

Do you have a strong willed toddler like we do? Up until Sydney was seven months old, she would fuss briefly when she didn’t get her way, but was easily distracted. Then suddenly we experienced her first real temper tantrum – over wanting a popsicle. She was tired, and probably hungry, and started to fuss while we were fixing dinner. It escalated from fussing to a screaming fit when we tried to get her to sit down and have dinner. We let her know that once she ate with us, she could have a popsicle and go outside, but instead she decided to hold onto the freezer door, jump up and down and cry hysterically.

We learned many lessons in that 15 minutes:

  1. Ignoring the tantrum didn’t help at all, but sitting down beside her didn’t seem to help either, nor did carrying her back over to the table to try to get her to eat.
  2. Letting her know that we understood exactly what she wanted did not make her feel any better about the situation.
  3. She can work herself up so much that she throws up (though it appeared to be mostly phlegm).
  4. I wish we’d never let her try a popsicle, or a piece of candy, or a cashew for that matter (she always wants one, but then spits chunks of it out all over the floor), or anything else she pitched a fit over, even though I know that’s only a temporary solution.
  5. And most importantly, she needs to be taken far away from whatever she’s coveting.

As soon as we finished with dinner, Chris took her outside (without a popsicle needless to say), and although she fussed a bit when she came back in, she did not touch the freezer again and was happy as can be by bath time. 

Funny how much easier it is for kids to forget the tirades than it is for their parents.

Lessons Learned Recap: Tantrums will happen. All you can do is ride out the storm and figure out the best approach to shorten their duration.

5 Ideas for Celebrating Father’s Day for the Fertility Challenged

My wife and I barreled through three Mother’s and Father’s Days while we were trying to get pregnant. I decided they should be fun, celebration days instead of the alternative, which was moping around, stewing with frustration by our lack of success.

Here are five ideas for celebrating Father’s Day weekend for the fertility challenged:

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  1. Celebrate with your father, father-in-law or grandfather and make the day about them. Gleefully ignore any comments they may make about having your own kids. 
  2. Choose the antithesis of a Father’s Day celebration. Take your significant other to the movies, followed by a romantic dinner at a fancy restaurant where children are not likely to be out in numbers. Or if they are, act like a child right along with them and join in their merriment.
  3.  Do what other fathers with young kids can’t typically do! See a favorite band. Hop on a plane to watch your favorite baseball team, the College World Series or the NBA Finals. Climb a mountain. Jump out of a plane. Swim with sharks. Okay, maybe that's not such a great idea. But you get the idea.
  4. Borrow a kid for a couple hours (a niece/nephew or friend's kid), pop some popcorn and watch a kids' movie you haven’t seen since you were little. Little Big League, Big, ET, Star Wars, Goonies or any Disney movie.
  5. Call it “Hopeful-Father-To-Be-Day” and celebrate just like the rest of the dads in the world.