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Path To Fertility Blogger Lisa Rosenthal  

Lisa Rosenthal has over twenty-five years of experience in the fertility field, including her current roles as Coordinator of Professional and Patient Communications for RMACT and teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a class designed to support, comfort and enhance men and women's sense of self. Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association, where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director

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The New Normal - Fall TV Review | Surrogacy and More

  
  
  
The New Normal

A Review of The New Normal

By Katlyn Duncan

 

Out of all the new 2012 Fall TV shows, the one that shows a lot of promise is “The New Normal,” airing on Tuesdays at 9:30 PM EST on NBC. The New Normal was created by Ryan Murphy (best known as the creator of Glee and American Horror Story) and Ali Adler.

 

The premise of the show is relevant to our culture today with all the technological advances in reproductive medicine, by way of creating “unconventional” families, hence the name of the show . . . The New Normal. David (played by Justin Bartha, “The Hangover”) and Bryan (played by Andrew Rannells, Broadway, “The Book of Mormon”) are a gay couple living in Los Angeles. They are both very successful; David is a gynecologist and Bryan is a television producer. One day Bryan gets the idea that they could be happier if they were able to have a baby.

Finding a Surrogate Finds Its Way to Primetime

They go through the process of finding a surrogate in Goldie (played by Georgia King, “One Day”), who has just moved to L.A. with her nine-year-old daughter, Shania (played by Bebe Wood), after her husband was caught cheating on her. The four get along perfectly but where is the fun in that? Jane (played by the hilarious Ellen Barkin, “The Big Easy”) is Goldie’s conservative and outspoken grandmother who follows Goldie to L.A. to bring her back home and away from the gay couple. Goldie sticks to her guns to be the surrogate for Bryan and David, forcing both families to live with each other’s quirks.

The New Normal Tops The Fall TV List 

After watching the first episode of The New Normal, I found this show to be at the top of my DVR list. The casting of the show is perfect and I love the banter between all of the characters. My stand-out characters are Jane and Bryan who consistently bump heads on many issues outside of him being gay. NeNe Leakes (Roz Washington on “Glee”) plays Bryan’s personal assistant, Rocky, who is another person that Jane constantly insults, but Rocky is anything but shy and tends to dish it right back. Shania has grown on me in the past few episodes and she is definitely a talented actress who I can only compare to the brilliant young actors from Modern Family. 

 

Overall, this is a refreshing show among the new comedy line-up this year in television. Ryan Murphy has been known to highlight the differences among people and celebrate them, and The New Normal is no exception. If anyone is looking for a unique comedy to tune into or wants to try something new, I highly recommend this show!

The New Normal Review

 


Katlyn joined the RMACT in August 2012 as the Andrology and Endocrinology Supervisor. She has two Bachelors of Science degrees from the University of New Haven in Forensic Science and General Biology. She is so pleased to be a part of the amazing RMACT team!

Surrogacy | Gestational Carriers - A Tribute

  
  
  

Surrogacy and gestational carriers continue to be highlighted in the news with such stories as Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban adding a second daughter to their family, born through a surrogate mother.  And there is the older news about Sir Elton John and David Furnish welcoming a son named Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John, born on Christmas Day via a surrogate in California.

 These are stories of joyful parents.   However, the story behind the story is that of the amazing women who help fulfill the dreams of family buidling for the famous and 'not-so-famous'.   As a reminder of their contributions, we wish to re-publish a popular blog post covered on Path to Fertility that covers the journey of gestational carriers and surrogates.

 

Dr. Mark P. Leondires,  Medical Director and lead physician with Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut discusses gestational surrogacy and gestational carriers:

Are you aware that approximately 15% of the female population who are of reproductive age experiences some trouble having a family? We consider that group of women to be infertile or sub-fertile. Within that population, there are a small segment of women who, for different reasons, are not able to carry a pregnancy even though their egg pool is still viable. There are a wide range of reasons, beginning with medical conditions; destructive diseases of the uterus; and surgical complications which prevent them from being able to carry a pregnancy.   These conditions may pose potential life threatening effects for the potential mother's health if she becomes pregnant. It may also be that her uterus cannot successfully carry a pregnancy without incurring repeat miscarriages.  The choice that this particular group of women has is to use a surrogate (gestational carrier) to have a child. 

Over the past 7 years of assisting couples in starting families, I have been overwhelmed by the incredible human component of women who offer to be gestational carriers or gestation surrogates.  Observing the relationship between a woman helping another woman receive the greatest gift, a child; has been inspiring. The concept of carrying someone else's child has been popularized in the movies and lay press to the degree that women may not realize there is a real, genuine need for this service and not just in Hollywood make-believe.  Women who have children, conceive naturally with good pregnancy outcomes may no longer be able to imagine their lives without their children; but can imagine if they were physically  not able to carry a pregnancy how their lives would be completely different.  And there are women whose only option for children biologically related to them is to use a gestational carrier.  This is different than the usual causes of infertility as they truly have no other medical or treatment choices in the matter of carrying a baby in their own uterus.

Becoming a Surrogate Mother | Gestational Carrier

The process of being a gestational surrogate or gestational carrier involves finding a woman who has had healthy pregnancies; feels she is done having her own children; and would like to participate in the joy of helping another woman have a child for whome there is no option otherwise. The women who need this help, are in some ways forgotten in the infertile population, as most women have a healthy uterus. The women who need to use a gestation carrier often struggle with not only the emotional issues of being unable to carry their own child, but also the additional financial burden and challenge of finding a woman who is willing to do this for them.

RMA of Connecticut's practice recently assisted a couple working through emotional and psychological issues in connection with a gestational carrier.  Having dealt with issues of a disease called fibroids, which destroyed her own uterus, the couple chose the route of a gestational carrier.  Next was the challenge to find a suitable gestational surrogate on physical, medical, and emotional grounds.  Then there are the financial realities of compensating a gestational carrier for their medical bills associated with a pregnancy and for the time and effort the gestational carrier provided carrying the pregnancy.  The cost of a gestational carrier ranges from $15,000-$50,000.  Given all that, the couple found a truly special person who provided the opportunity to give the gift of life and to fill an important role in another family's life. 

The relationship between these two women began in our office and progressed throughout the pregnancy.  The gestational carrier seemed as happy as the genetic parents were to learn of a positive pregnancy test.  On every obstetrical visit, the intended parents accompanied the gestational carrier and progressed through the pregnancy by her side.  Having been pregnant several times before, the gestational carrier lead a normal life as healthy pregnant women do, at times dealing with the concern and anxious tone of the intended mother about whether she should carry groceries up the steps.  An ultrasound screen with movement and dancing.  These moments are unforgettable and built a relationship among the families.  The gestational surrogate had other children who were helped to understand and know the intended parents and were allowed to be part of taking care of the "baby."  In the delivery room, the delivered baby was surrounded by loving people with many emotions. The joy of the birth of a child, joy of finally being able to have a child, the joy of giving of oneself to help someone else have a family, and tears of happiness and relief that this part of the journey was now complete. What a selfless and loving act for a gestational carrier to give up this child they carried for 9 months to parents who never would have known such joy without her incredible efforts.  Stories such as these do not often make it to the press or the movie screen, nonetheless they are real. 

For some women who need a gestational surrogate, this will be the only way to conceive a child biologically connected to either partner. We encourage others to consider becoming a gestational carrier or surrogate to help women and men in the process of having a family. 

Why It Is Important to Consult with a Reproductive Lawyer

What has been in the news recently on Good Morning America and Dateline concerns a woman who gave birth to twins.  She is a gestational carrier who is NOT genetically related to the twins AND the intended parents used both donor sperm and donor egg so NONE of the parties are  genetically related to the twins.  This is HIGHLY unusual.  Adding to the complexity, the twins were delivered in one of the five states that do not recognize contracts between gestational carriers and intended parents.  If you are considering the path of traditional surrogate or gestational carrier, I recommend discussing your options with a reproductive lawyer that can provide the best guidance in these matters.

Invitro Fertilization | IVF

Lastly, there is the magic of in vitro fertilization facilitating family building for other types of couples as well.  Same sex female couples often use IVF where one is the egg donor and one is the gestational carrier using anonymous donor sperm.  Same sex male couples use one partner's sperm and a donor egg and a gestational carrier.  Interestingly, a fair amount of research has been done on children from these new types of families and the children are found to be emotionally and developmentally well - lending support to the concept that love is what makes a family.

Below is related news coverage with Melissa Brisman, a reproductive lawyer and good friend, discussing her personal and professional experiences with surrogates and gestational carriers.  Her surrogate agency specializes in different types of surrogacy and gestational carrier arrangements and has helped hundreds of families in family building with surrogates.

 

Note:  While the terms surrogate and carrier are general terms they should not be used as they are misleading and misunderstood. The proper terms should be as follows:

Traditional Surrogate - When a woman is pregnant with a baby who is genetically linked to her.  That is, that the egg used was her own.  This is very rarely done, given the multiple legal, ethical, and social issues of that genetic link.

Gestational Surrogate or Gestational Carrier- When a woman is pregnant with a baby who IS NOT genetically linked to her.  This process is most frequently utilized when a woman cannot carry a child; her husband's sperm is used to fertilize his wife's egg and the embryo which results are transferred into the gestational carrier's womb/uterus.  This represents a different legal entity than a traditional surrogacy arrangement as the woman giving birth is NOT genetically related to the baby born.

Intended Parents- The couple who intend to care for and raise the child that has been conceived and born.  These are the people who finance the medical care for the fertility treatment cycle, delivery, and compensate the carrier for the 9 months of pregnancy.  These are the couples that are willing to go to extraordinary means to bring a child into their home.

- Dr. Mark P. Leondires,  Medical Director and lead physician with Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut:

Special Relationships of Gestational and Surrogate Carriers on their Fertility Journey

  
  
  

 

Dr. Mark P. Leondires,  Medical Director and lead physician with Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut discusses gestational surrogacy and gestational carriers:

Are you aware that approximately 15% of the female population who are of reproductive age experiences some trouble having a family? We consider that group of women to be infertile or sub-fertile. Within that population, there are a small segment of women who, for different reasons, are not able to carry a pregnancy even though their egg pool is still viable. There are a wide range of reasons, beginning with medical conditions; destructive diseases of the uterus; and surgical complications which prevent them from being able to carry a pregnancy.   These conditions may pose potential life threatening effects for the potential mother's health if she becomes pregnant. It may also be that her uterus cannot successfully carry a pregnancy without incurring repeat miscarriages.  The choice that this particular group of women has is to use a surrogate (gestational carrier) to have a child. 

Over the past 7 years of assisting couples in starting families, I have been overwhelmed by the incredible human component of women who offer to be gestational carriers or gestation surrogates.  Observing the relationship between a woman helping another woman receive the greatest gift, a child; has been inspiring. The concept of carrying someone else's child has been popularized in the movies and lay press to the degree that women may not realize there is a real, genuine need for this service and not just in Hollywood make-believe.  Women who have children, conceive naturally with good pregnancy outcomes may no longer be able to imagine their lives without their children; but can imagine if they were physically  not able to carry a pregnancy how their lives would be completely different.  And there are women whose only option for children biologically related to them is to use a gestational carrier.  This is different than the usual causes of infertility as they truly have no other medical or treatment choices in the matter of carrying a baby in their own uterus.

The process of being a gestational surrogate or gestational carrier involves finding a woman who has had healthy pregnancies; feels she is done having her own children; and would like to participate in the joy of helping another woman have a child for whome there is no option otherwise. The women who need this help, are in some ways forgotten in the infertile population, as most women have a healthy uterus. The women who need to use a gestation carrier often struggle with not only the emotional issues of being unable to carry their own child, but also the additional financial burden and challenge of finding a woman who is willing to do this for them.

RMA of Connecticut's practice recently assisted a couple working through emotional and psychological issues in connection with a gestational carrier.  Having dealt with issues of a disease called fibroids, which destroyed her own uterus, the couple chose the route of a gestational carrier.  Next was the challenge to find a suitable gestational surrogate on physical, medical, and emotional grounds.  Then there are the financial realities of compensating a gestational carrier for their medical bills associated with a pregnancy and for the time and effort the gestational carrier provided carrying the pregnancy.  The cost of a gestational carrier ranges from $15,000-$50,000.  Given all that, the couple found a truly special person who provided the opportunity to give the gift of life and to fill an important role in another family's life. 

The relationship between these two women began in our office and progressed throughout the pregnancy.  The gestational carrier seemed as happy as the genetic parents were to learn of a positive pregnancy test.  On every obstetrical visit, the intended parents accompanied the gestational carrier and progressed through the pregnancy by her side.  Having been pregnant several times before, the gestational carrier lead a normal life as healthy pregnant women do, at times dealing with the concern and anxious tone of the intended mother about whether she should carry groceries up the steps.  An ultrasound screen with movement and dancing.  These moments are unforgettable and built a relationship among the families.  The gestational surrogate had other children who were helped to understand and know the intended parents and were allowed to be part of taking care of the "baby."  In the delivery room, the delivered baby was surrounded by loving people with many emotions. The joy of the birth of a child, joy of finally being able to have a child, the joy of giving of oneself to help someone else have a family, and tears of happiness and relief that this part of the journey was now complete. What a selfless and loving act for a gestational carrier to give up this child they carried for 9 months to parents who never would have known such joy without her incredible efforts.  Stories such as these do not often make it to the press or the movie screen, nonetheless they are real. 

For some women who need a gestational surrogate, this will be the only way to conceive a child biologically connected to either partner. We encourage others to consider becoming a gestational carrier or surrogate to help women and men in the process of having a family. 

What has been in the news recently on Good Morning America and Dateline concerns a woman who gave birth to twins.  She is a gestational carrier who is NOT genetically related to the twins AND the intended parents used both donor sperm and donor egg so NONE of the parties are  genetically related to the twins.  This is HIGHLY unusual.  Adding to the complexity, the twins were delivered in one of the five states that do not recognize contracts between gestational carriers and intended parents.  If you are considering the path of traditional surrogate or gestational carrier, I recommend discussing your options with a reproductive lawyer that can provide the best guidance in these matters.

Lastly, there is the magic of in vitro fertilization facilitating family building for other types of couples as well.  Same sex female couples often use IVF where one is the egg donor and one is the gestational carrier using anonymous donor sperm.  Same sex male couples use one partner's sperm and a donor egg and a gestational carrier.  Interestingly, a fair amount of research has been done on children from these new types of families and the children are found to be emotionally and developmentally well - lending support to the concept that love is what makes a family.

Below is related news coverage with Melissa Brisman, a reproductive lawyer and good friend, discussing her personal and professional experiences with surrogates and gestational carriers.  Her surrogate agency specializes in different types of surrogacy and gestational carrier arrangements and has helped hundreds of families in family building with surrogates.


 

Note:  While the terms surrogate and carrier are general terms they should not be used as they are misleading and misunderstood. The proper terms should be as follows:

Traditional Surrogate - When a woman is pregnant with a baby who is genetically linked to her.  That is, that the egg used was her own.  This is very rarely done, given the multiple legal, ethical, and social issues of that genetic link.

Gestational Surrogate or Gestational Carrier- When a woman is pregnant with a baby who IS NOT genetically linked to her.  This process is most frequently utilized when a woman cannot carry a child; her husband's sperm is used to fertilize his wife's egg and the embryo which results are transferred into the gestational carrier's womb/uterus.  This represents a different legal entity than a traditional surrogacy arrangement as the woman giving birth is NOT genetically related to the baby born.

Intended Parents- The couple who intend to care for and raise the child that has been conceived and born.  These are the people who finance the medical care for the fertility treatment cycle, delivery, and compensate the carrier for the 9 months of pregnancy.  These are the couples that are willing to go to extraordinary means to bring a child into their home.

- Dr. Mark P. Leondires,  Medical Director and lead physician with Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut:

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