Posted in Thursday Thirteen, urbandaddyblog

Thursday Thirteen: The Urban Daddy Answers His Mail. 13 of them.

Something a little new today.

My Thursday Thirteen this week is going to cover the 13 most commonly asked emails that I have received at  I do get a LOT of email and if I had the time, I would love to be able to reply to all of it, and it does take me some time to reply, but I have some left over messages all along the same theme, which I am going to answer here.

Sit tight, get your pen and paper ready – or a Dictaphone if  you have one or even know what it is – and let’s get ready to learn how to reply to tough, challenging emails.  Urban Daddy style.

Thursday Thirteen Autumn

13. Why don’t you blog so much anymore?

Great and most common question.  I do blog as much as before, however, now that I have my own business, a lot of my posts are headed there.  The rest of the post for The Urban Daddy are sitting in my drafts folder.  There is something like 113 of them in there.

Another problem is that as my readership increases I feel some responsibility to actually make sense in my posts.  Gone are the days of 10 readers per day and me writing posts at 1am.  Now I write, edit, review, fact-check, edit then save to drafts.

I’m going to write more… I promise.

You can also find some of my thoughts when I’m too lazy to blog them over at my Facebook page; or on Twitter at  I’m on Tumblr, Google Plus, Pinterest… Everywhere, but those are the main 3.  Please “like” me and add me where possible.  I always add back.

12. Are you affiliated with that big Urban Daddy website in the US?

Nope.  They did ask me, however, to kindly hand over my social media sites which are in the name “Urban Daddy”.  I politely declined since I was blogging as Urban Daddy before they came to be.  So I asked them kindly to hand over ownership of all their social media sites to me.  I never heard back, lol, but soon thereafter all the URLs which were close to mine were scooped up.

Point taken.

I also get a LOT of pitches and product-testing requests but I politely turn them down if they are not something I would not use, or if they are not going to directly benefit you guys – my readership – but I love to get them from local (Canadian) companies because it’s easy for me to toss something onto my Facebook page ( if you have not gone there, go there now and like me.  Please.

11. Why do blog about coffee?

Ohhh.  I love coffee.  But I’m more than just a medium roast kind of guy.  I like adventure, and something different so I’m big into the flavours.  I actually used to test the new flavours at Java Joe’s near my office – a treat for me – which is where I fell in love with Blueberry coffee.  Blueberry coffee, if you didn’t know is huge on the East coast of Canada and in the US, but for some reason has not hit the mainstream here in TO as of yet.

Blueberry is way better than, for example, Raspberry Chocolate coffee, and light-years better than Irish Cream or boring Vanilla Hazelnut.

So now where can you buy this coffee you ask…

Well since you all cannot come over to my house, you will be thrilled to learn that there is an amazing Canadian company called Java Works Coffee( , out of Mississauga, Ontario, and they sell coffee and teas to restaurants, offices and – yay – customers through their factory outlet.  So on Friday I dropped in to this store and was blown away with the selection, the staff and the smell when you first walk into the door.  WOW.

I left with some teas and 1lb bags of the following coffees;

  • Blueberry Bliss
  • French Toast
  • Cinnamon Apple Spice
  • Mint Chocolate Chip

After testing them all I can say that each one is better than the next.

10. Do you really like Wrestling?

Yes.  Like it a lot.  And yes, I know it is fake.  I’ve been watching this male soap opera since I was a boy (which is a really long time ago!)  If you gotta problem with that, come see my and I’ll put you in a headlock, then powerbomb you.  🙂

9. The best Daddy blogs usually are written by Stay at Home Dads (SAHD). Why?

Funny.  I’ve always felt that the SAHM (Stay at home Mom) blogs are the best, and clearly the Dads are right up there now because they are there with the kids and doing the things that many of us do on a daily basis.  I have always said that I felt no one wants to read a blog about kids from a parent who works full-time unless they are able to spend enough time with the kids, or capture a moment, which will make good print.  I just wish I had more time to read these great blogs…

8. Would you consider yourself a parent expert? Why or why not?

I would and only because I have 3 children and after changing many diapers, and being there for feedings, changings, programs, school, school events, I can honestly say that I sacrificed my career to spend time with my kids and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.

7. Where in the world are you?

I’m everywhere!  LOL.  No really.  I’m in Toronto, Ontario. Canada.  A very large, beautiful city in the best country in the world.

6. How Conservative are your views?

Fiscally conservative – Very.

A lot of my other views tend to learn more towards the centre from the left side.  So I feel people should work for their money, and if they use that money to buy things for themselves, others do not have the right to steal from them, however if people are unable to work – really unable to work, that they should be a social network to allow them to live above the poverty line and be able to contribute to society in whatever ways they can,

5. I see you post a lot about IVF. Is it because you used it?

Actually no.  We were fortunate enough to not need IVF, however from a moral and financial perspective, I feel that governments should fund IVF treatments for those families who want it.  The savings to our tax system would be huge and it’s a really nice thing for governments to do while trying to figure out why infertility is on the rise.

4.  What are some other great blogs you can recommend?

I have actually been meaning to prepare a Friday blog post called the “Friday Follow Five” and use that to go to a favourite blog I follow, then read the first post, and use either the comments on that post or the blogroll on the side to go to another blog, then do the same until I have read and summarized 5 posts and provided details in the post.  In the meantime, please visit the blogs in my blogroll.  They’re amazing.

3.  How long have you been blogging and how long will it take me to get readers?

Well, I’ve been blogging since 2004 and to be honest, make sure you do it for love and not for getting famous because it takes a LOT of TLC to get a blog off the ground.  Essentially, you need to not use my blog as the model, because you need to post frequently, read and comment on other blogs often, build relationships with your readers, and write things others want to read.  Having a pretty blog, and nice title, and the proper length articles is also important…

Good luck!

2.  Your posts are too long.  Some are really off-topic.  Why do you do that?

LOL.  I get this a lot.

They are not off-topic for people who come here randomly looking for specific topics.  I do, however, agree that I am long-winded and I try to fix it, but I just can’t.  I talk this way too.  I have to build up the back-story before I get to the point.

Knowing that I blog under the title “The Urban Daddy” as a Dad in urban-Toronto, would you believe that my most popular post ever has to do with the Secret Menu at Starbucks, followed closely by my evaluation of the Canadian Live-In Caregiver Program.

So as I approach 1000 posts, I can honestly say that I get a LOT of views from the Philippines after Canada and the US.  I would NEVER have expected that back on 2004 when I had 10 views a week.

1.  Why are you still blogging?

I don’t really know.  I think I would feel lost without it and when I look back and see my earlier posts I am amazed at some of the things I have gone through since I had kids.  More importantly, and the real reason to keep it going is because as my kids get older (my oldest is 8-years-old) and they start to ask questions or look for stories about when they were young, I know I can pull up a post and let them read the details.  It’s always a good laugh.

Posted in #OHIP4IVF

OMG, We’re infertile? How did that Happen?

Trillium used as the official symbol for the P...
Trillium used as the official symbol for the Province of Ontario. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a member of the Conceivable Dreams blogging team here in Ontario, I pretended for a minute to put myself in an infertile couple’s shoes this family day long-weekend, so I Googled “infertility education in Ontario” and we quite shocked and disappointed by the resources which came up in Infertility education, below.

Notice that while there are many helpful resources on infertility in Ontario, there are none from the Ontario government’s own Ministry of Health.  If the intent of Family Day is to allow families to have a day to spend together then am I wrong to expect the government to also look for ways to help couples become families – through funding of IVF and educating Ontarians about causes of infertility…

Look at what came up in my search before anything from the Ontario government;

The first link belongs to a doctor, Thomas Hannam, and his views on infertility, here.  Do you know how to treat your eggs?  “If you are fortunate, you may already know that you have good quality eggs.  However, if you have reason to doubt the situation, then you may wish to try to “maximize” egg quality. Lifestyle matters: sleep well, quit smoking, and minimize caffeine to one cup of coffee a day.”

As a male, maximizing the quality of a female’s eggs never even occurred to me, however those items Dr. Hannam mentions are common lifestyle choices I think we should all be choosing anyways.  I was just surprised to know they had such an impact and egg quality… Should this not be taught to children in school?

My next hit was an OHIP4IVF post from one of our team members, following that was a link to the expert panel on infertility and adoption.

Then came a link to a London Health Sciences Fertility Ontario site (which is not a government education site, but rather a clinic here in Ontario run by a Doctor who cares about infertility.

After that came a site – not in Ontario – suggesting that infertility be taught in school, and that article can be read here;

I agree with that viewpoint.

Then came another article through the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada and while this site is not currently being updated there are significant resources there.

Still missing is the education platform of the Ontario Government.  Everyone knows that educating people is a less expensive and proactive way to address an issue, rather than waiting 20 or 30 years down the road and having to deal with an epidemic on mass.  Not that this Liberal government is the absolute cause of this problem but they are certainly not helping with the solution by constantly disregarding OHIP funding of IVF treatments for infertile couples who are trying to have children at all ages and in all socio-economic groups.  This government constantly refers to their own education program, however, it must be hidden or by invitation only because I could not find it.

Furthermore, the only Ontario government department with any published opinions on infertility is the Ministry of Child and Youth Services.  At least here they say they are going to on their website; “Infertility is a medical condition that often requires medical treatment. Infertility has wide-reaching consequences for individuals, families and society.”

Simple and too the point.  It continues;

“We believe that all Ontarians should have the opportunity to build a family. Infertility is a medical condition that prevents some Ontarians from doing so. These medical problems often require medical treatment(s) to overcome infertility. Right now in Ontario, one in eight couples is struggling with infertility. One in  six couples has experienced infertility at some point in their lives. Both male and female infertility are on the rise. And many other Ontarians – same-sex and single people and people with illnesses like cancer or HIV – need help to start a family.”

Then the government confirms what many of use feel is a major issue with IVF treatment costs – equal access to everyone;

“Access to assisted reproduction services should be free from any discrimination.  Every year, tens of thousands of Ontarians turn to assisted reproduction and other services like acupuncture and naturopathic medicine to help them conceive. Thousands more never seek help.  People who have experienced fertility problems or who have sought help told us about the barriers they face;

  • It’s difficult to get information: many people didn’t know about the factors that affected their fertility.
  • They are not sure where to go for help. Some facilities and practitioners offering assisted reproduction services are not accredited. Are the treatments safe? Where should they go to get the best care?
  • The procedures are too expensive. Many treatments are beyond the reach of most Ontarians.
  • There isn’t enough emotional support to help them deal with the grief over fertility problems, the stress fertility issues place on relationships or the challenges of treatments.
  • Many people have trouble accessing services because of where they live.
  • For same-sex and single people, and people with HIV, social and legal barriers can keep them from getting the services they need.
  • The fertility needs of young cancer patients are often forgotten by treating cancer specialists.
  • There is still a sense of failure or stigma about infertility that keeps many people silent and in pain.”

While I never would have come to this Ministry for information on infertility, and equality in IVF, I suspect many others would not looking here either.  If this next piece quoted from their website is not a cry to be heard, I don’t know what is;

“Ontario can do better. Ontario must do better. The status quo is not acceptable.  We see a province where all Ontarians have the information they need to protect their fertility, where they are confident that they are receiving safe, high quality care, and where other barriers – such as cost, geography and stigma –  do not keep them from getting the services they need.

To be the best place to create a family, Ontario must act now.

  1. All Ontarians should know how to protect their fertility.
  2. Assisted reproduction services should be safe and meet the highest, evidence-based    standards.
  3. Ontario cannot afford to NOT fund assisted reproduction services.
  4. All Ontarians who could benefit should have access to assisted reproduction services.”

Way to go, Ministry of Youth and Child Services!  Now walk down the hall to the Ministry of Health and give them the link to your website and ask them to get their asses in gear, please.

We already know that knowledge IS power so the more people know about their health, the better they will be able to make informed decisions, not only to improve their health but also to manage their fertility – early enough when there is still time to make changes and see the results of those changes.  We also know that age is one of the most important factors affecting the ability to conceive as couples are waiting until later in life to have children than ever before.

Lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption and the use of some recreational drugs also affect fertility as does being at an unhealthy weight and certain medical treatments.

The Ministry discusses the benefits of “Fertility monitoring” which can assist couples to make informed choices about their fertility, including when to start a family and when to seek help with fertility. It can also facilitate timely referrals to fertility specialists.

“To give people the information they need to protect their fertility and make informed decisions, we recommend:

  • All primary care practitioners, including doctors of naturopathy and traditional Chinese medicine, should be encouraged to make fertility education/counselling a routine part of care for all patients beginning in their 20’s – male and female, in a relationship or single (including those who are not trying to start a family), regardless of sexual orientation.
  • All primary care providers, gynecologists and other specialists should give special consideration to age when diagnosing fertility problems in women beginning at age 28 up to age 30, who have been unable to conceive naturally after one year, and include their male partners in assessments.
  • All primary care providers, gynecologists and other specialists should offer fertility testing/ monitoring to women who are age 30 and older who want to start a family, and their male partners, so as to facilitate timely referrals to fertility specialists.
  • All primary care providers, gynecologists and other specialists should consider a referral to an infertility specialist to women age 30 and older who have been unable to conceive naturally after six months.
  • The government should fund and support the development of clinical practice guidelines for fertility education and monitoring, including an algorithm to assist practitioners in assessing their patients for fertility problems.
  • The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) should continue to fund existing tests for ovarian reserve and semen analysis tests, standardize these tests province-wide, and introduce newer tests that are more accurate and easier to use as they become available and are approved.”

Why should Ontario invest in fertility education and monitoring?  Because many Ontarians are unaware how to protect their fertility. The Ontario government estimates that 1 in 8 Ontarians are struggling with infertility, however many suspect the number is closer to 3 in 8.

For most women, fertility begins declining around age 30 – even for women with healthy lifestyles, because:

  • Every woman is born with all of the eggs she is ever going to have. Each month, for every egg that is released and available for fertilization, many eggs mature and most are absorbed into the body. Most women will ovulate about 400 times in their lifetime.
  • Eggs get older as women age, making conception more difficult and increasing the chance for chromosomal abnormalities, which often causes miscarriage.
  • Many women are not aware of how they can be proactive in protecting their reproductive health.

A man’s fertility are affected by many factors most men usually do not even think twice about, including:

  • Age.
  • Cigarette smoking.
  • Heavy use of alcohol.
  • Use of prescription medications
  • Recreational drug use.
  • Anabolic steroid use.
  • Occupational hazards that expose men to toxins or high temperatures.
  • Treatment for cancer.
  • Any injuries to the testicles or health conditions that affect the male reproductive organs, such as varicocele, vasectomy, impotence, birth defects and autoimmune disorders.

The Ministry of Youth and Child Services realizes how important it is for primary care practitioners to discuss the relevant factors for  infertility with their patients, both men and women.  Ontarians should know how to best protect their  fertility, but also be aware that no amount of prevention can reverse age-related fertility decline.

Back to the one Ministry in the Ontario government that gets it;

“More and early fertility education can help Ontarians to make informed decisions about their reproductive health and childbearing decisions.  Also, the sooner that Ontarians are aware they may have a problem with fertility, the sooner they can be referred for treatment.  The goals of a provincial fertility education and monitoring program should be to ensure that;

  • All Ontarians can receive fertility education.
  • When fertility monitoring indicates a possible problem, Ontarians are referred quickly to a specialist.
  • Health care resources are used wisely.”

All this talk about a fertility / infertility education program, complete with education sounds like there has been nothing put in place as of yet, and this is all still at the planning stage, but just how long does it take to put these measures in place?

Typically, the Ontario government, this one at least, likes to push the onus back to the individual / couple even though we just read about how couples are not aware of their fertility, nor are doctors bringing it up.  So does it make sense then for the government to recommend that;

“One of the best ways for Ontarians to learn about any risks that might affect their fertility is to talk to their family doctor, nurse practitioner, naturopathic doctor  or other primary health care provider. Primary care providers can and should play a key role in fertility education and monitoring. Primary care providers see patients  at all ages.   Women in their teens, 20’s and early 30’s are more likely than men to go for regular check-ups. In 2006, 33% of 28 year-old women saw a family doctor for a general assessment  compared to 13% of 28 year-old and 17% of 35 year-old males.  Family doctors should  be supported in incorporating fertility counselling into routine preventive healthcare.”

Right now in Ontario, (in)fertility is discussed and assessed way too late, far often after several years of failed conceiving.  In addition, couples also need to be given enough time to try to conceive naturally instead of overtaxing the system, because after a year of trying to conceive naturally, about 90% of couples will conceive.

Some takeaways for the Ontario government might be;

  • A fertility monitoring program to provide a measurable timetable for younger Ontarians so they can conceive naturally before being referred to a fertility specialist.
  • As the current OHIP fee schedule allows for physicians to bill for fertility counselling under a common counselling code there should be a distinct billing code number in order to track how many Ontarians are receiving fertility counselling.
  • Address the fact that single heterosexual people, lesbian women and gay men are  less likely than heterosexual couples to receive fertility education and monitoring because like the rest of the population – a proportion of these people will have fertility issues.
  • Research, research, research, because the last Ontario government report was dated October 19th, 2006 and called In Vitro Fertilization and Multiple Pregnancies.  A lot can and has happened in 7-years which needs to be addressed.

So now I’ve gone off and performed a targeted search of the Ontario Government website in search of information from the Ministry of Health regarding their education programs on fertility.  Boy, was I disappointed.

Here is what came up;

“Pulications – In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

Generally, In vitro fertilization (IVF) services consist of:

  1. blood work, ultrasounds and physician procedures (egg retrieval and embryo transfer)
  2. embryology laboratory services.

IVF is not an OHIP insured physician service except in the limited circumstances listed in Regulation 552 under the Health Insurance Act.  It is only insured for the first three treatment cycles where the infertility is due to complete bilateral anatomical fallopian tube blockage that has not resulted from a sterilization procedure. A treatment cycle includes preparation, oocyte retrieval and embryo transfer.

Where IVF is insured (that is, for blocked fallopian tubes), the blood work, ultrasounds and physician procedures are insured in all hospital and non-hospital community based fertility clinics in Ontario.

When insured IVF is provided in hospital (that is, in the Mount Sinai Hospital Reproductive Biology Unit, London Health Sciences Fertility Clinic) or in the Ottawa Fertility Centre, associated embryology services are funded (in addition to the blood work, ultrasounds and physician procedures noted above).  Patients cannot be charged for such services provided in those three facilities.

The ministry does not fund fertility drug costs, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) or costs associated with the freezing and storage of sperm, eggs and embryos, regardless of where insured IVF services are provided.

March 2012″


Thanks Ministry of Health.  Maybe they missed the announcement that “The Government of Ontario has made a commitment to make fertility monitoring available to women earlier in life.”  That announcement came from the Ministry of Youth and Child Services.

So instead of being proactive and helping today’s generation understand fertility, fund IVF where needed and make sure going forward all Ontarians are educated on factors impacting fertility – the government remains silent. Instead of speaking to the medical community to ensure they have the knowledge and availability to counsel people on infertility, this government is going to ignore the warning signs and the unhappy infertile couples in Ontario then end up having to pay for it at the end of the day when it is the least use and the most expensive.  It’s just our tax dollars after all.  The government can simply tax us more or just cut or de-list more services, right?

So to conclude, if you are infertile in Ontario, or want to make sure that you remain fertile, do not bother searching through the Ministry of Health’s website, but instead, head over to the Ministry of Youth and Child Services and follow their guidelines and information aimed at all Ontarians and what they should know to protect their fertility;

1. Education – The Government of Ontario should ensure that all primary care practitioners are educated about fertility and related issues including: the impact of age on fertility, male and female infertility, and the important risk factors that affect fertility; the reproductive needs of non-traditional families; and the complementary services available to enhance fertility or treat infertility.

2. All primary care practitioners – including naturopathic doctors and doctors of traditional Chinese medicine – should make fertility education/counselling a routine part of care for all patients, beginning in their 20’s. This includes males and females, those in a relationship or single (including those who are not trying to start a family), regardless of sexual orientation.

3.  The government should ensure that printed and web-based educational materials are developed and made available to primary care practitioners to share with their patients.

4.  Counselling – The government should adjust OHIP fee schedule to allow physicians to identify counselling services that are provided specifically for infertility so that practitioners can make the time for this in their busy practices and the government can understand how many Ontarians are receiving this information.

5.  Fertility Testing/Monitoring – All primary care providers, obstetrician/gynaecologists or fertility specialists should offer fertility testing/monitoring to:

  • Women age 28 and over who have been unable to conceive naturally after one year without using contraception.
  • Women age 30 and older when they want to start a family (to estimate their ovarian reserve and the need for referral).
  • Women age 30 and older who have been unable to conceive naturally after six months.
  • The male partners of women who are undergoing testing.

and anyone who appears to have a fertility problem should receive a timely referral to a fertility specialist (e.g., women under 30 should be referred after 12 months of trying to conceive naturally without success; women aged 30 and older should be referred after six months).

6.  Clinical practice guidelines – Developed for fertility education and monitoring and include:

  • Guidelines for fertility education.
  • The important risk factors for female and male fertility.
  • An algorithm that could help primary care practitioners assess patients’ risk factors for infertility and the appropriate diagnostic tests to use.
  • Criteria for diagnosing infertility in women and men.
  • Single validated methods for measuring each of: the follicle stimulating hormone, antral follicle count and semen analysis tests to be used across the province.
  • The specific test ranges or thresholds to use to make timely appropriate referrals to specialists.”

If Ontario was doing an effective and proper job of educating all Ontario residents about infertility as they say they are doing, then why do we still have couples struggling with infertility? And where is the evidence they are doing what they claim to be doing?   Would there not be statistics showing a decline in infertility rates?  Then no one would need IVF at all, but we can now clearly see that the Ministry that is in the know is not the Ministry making the decisions.

When can we expect to see that education that the Ministry of Youth and Children Services calls for?  Funding it is the first step to make this right, and here on Family Day in the province of Ontario would have been the appropriate time to announce the long-awaited plan on tackling this issue.

It’s not going to happen.

What are they waiting for?

Posted in #OHIP4IVF

Hope for the New Year, 2013. Fiscal and Social Responsibility: #OHIP4IVF

In my opinion, 2012 was a year of awakening for many.  We came to realize that government meets half our needs, people treat each other with indifference and financially “we” are on the verge of bankruptcy.  In 2012 opportunities were lost when we occupied, worked to rule, or went on strike, while corporations accepted massive loans from government and still gave out multi-million dollar bonuses to the executives who cried poor in the first place.

The Ontario Auditor General’s 2012 annual report flagged a number of wasteful programs, including $25 million on a scrapped electronic Diabetes Registry, and $700 million on a little-known Toronto commuter card, known as PRESTO.  There was also the cancellation of the 2 power plants – the actual cost to cancel both plants is at least $640 million and there was an Ornge scandal, just to name a few.

In Ontario, the politicking is getting worse as is our healthcare.  In order to compensate for this waste, the Ontario Liberals have been slowly using our healthcare system to sweep their mismanagement under the rug.  They put in a user fee, the delisted physiotherapy and chiropractic care, they forced doctors to take less money and it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.

We are not working.

It’s you… Not me.

So in 2013, we need to take a stand.  We need to elect officials who care about people and who can keep finances in check.  We need to micro-manage our elected officials and make sure they do as we require and if not, we must boot them out.  We cannot stand by any longer and allow government to waste our tax dollars on over-priced union wages or buying votes to the detriment of Ontario’s hard-working citizens.   We cannot allow our elected officials to cut healthcare in order to balance a budget that they failed to take care of.  We cannot allow our elected officials to treat people the way they have been treating us any longer.

One very important way for elected officials to accomplish both fiscal responsibility and social responsibility (caring for people) is through the immediate funding of In-Vitro Fertilization.   Funding IVF saves us, the taxpayers, considerable amounts of money and funding IVF sends the message that the government cares about couples who are struggling with infertility.

Did you know that the average cost of an IVF treatment is around $10,000.00.  And did you know that many doctors implant more than one fertilized egg in hopes that one of the batch will result in a pregnancy.  And did you know that if there are multiple babies born, usually prematurely, that not only does this pose a health risk for the mother but also for all of the babies and at the end of the day after hospital care and treatments, the bill to the taxpayer can be as high as $1,000,000.00.  That is $1,000,000.00 per pregnancy, folks.  That cost is covered by OHIP which means by you and I.

In Quebec, however, the government funds IVF treatments, which means infertile couples don’t have to mortgage their financial futures to have children AND with one egg implanted, there is no risk for multiple births and a much lower probability of hospitalization by the mother and the baby which can lead to additional illness and a huge toll on OHIP.

Net result of IVF funding… Considerable reductions in the cost burden on us, the taxpayer.

Infertile couples (hopefully) get the opportunity to be parents and there is no elitism as only the rich can afford the massive IVF bill.

It’s fiscally responsible, which I like.

It’s morally responsible, which I like.

It’s socially responsible, which I also like.

It provides a better, safer, opportunity for couples who really want to be parents to be parents.

So why doesn’t the government do it?

No idea.

So let’s send all the parties this holiday card below with a note to get moving on this issue or start clearing out their desks.  Elections are coming and it’s time to take a stand against government stupidity.  If I hear another politician dismiss this issue by saying that they “studied it and at this point it doesn’t make sense”, I’m going to take names and post them at election time so we’ll know who can safeguard our tax dollars and who shouldn’t ever be in that position again.

Here’s hoping for a better 2013 for all infertile couples.

Feel free to tweet your thoughts using the #OHIP4IVF for those of you in Ontario or who wish to show your support.  If you add the tag #onpoli then that hits the Ontario politics feed as well.

You can also follow Conceivable Dreams @OHIP4IVF on Twitter and on Facebook here.

We can make this happen!

Holiday card - IVF

Posted in #OHIP4IVF

Four Ways Men Can Support Their Spouses During In Vitro Fertilization

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a medical procedure where a woman’s eggs are removed from her ovaries and fertilized in a lab with sperm from her husband, partner or a selected donor.  The embryos created from the fertilization are returned to her uterus, or the uterus of a surrogate mother, in hopes of creating a pregnancy.  The success rate for this procedure for a woman of 35-years-old is between 30-35% assuming that the eggs are fertilized.  If the sperm provider suffers from infertility issues such as low sperm motility or movement, then intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may be necessary.  ICSI is a delicate procedure requiring the lab technician to inject a single sperm into the egg, and is performed at an additional cost.

The cost of IVF varies across Canada, but in Ontario a couple can expect to pay;

Between $4,500 – $7,000 per cycle, $6,000 – $8,150 if ICSI is required and between $2,000 – $7,000 for medication.  Additional costs may include fees for initial consultations and/or registration with the fertility clinic, other recommended services and procedures such as assisted embryo hatching, legal fees for egg, sperm or embryo donor contracts and surrogacy contacts, and other miscellaneous expenses such as travel costs and lodging as needed.

As the model currently exists, IVF is not affordable for everyone.

My good friend Moses and his wife have two wonderful children conceived through IVF.  He described the journey towards becoming a family as stressful, confusing and frustrating at times.  Throughout the process, Moses became a cofacilitator at an infertility support group and he helped encourage men to take an active role in the support group.  He says it’s very important that both members of an infertile couple understand it’s okay to be unsure of what will happen down the road.

Moses also explained that when facing infertility and uncertainty it is very common that both husband and wife feel puzzled.  Getting past the misconception that infertility is primarily a female problem and that separate or together, there should not be any embarrassment that they are unable to conceive.  There is a ton of information available on websites, but the most meaningful information comes through discussions with couples who have experienced, or are experiencing the same issues.

In a previous post, I highlighted how many couples who are unable to conceive first begin to investigate the issue with their doctors and with specialists well before sharing the results with family and friends.  As a result, they endure the frustration of having to answer as to why there do not have children yet, or when they do inform family of their fertility issues, they have to sit through uninformed, yet supportive, comments such as; “it’s going to be all right”, or “relax, and it will all work out”.  Without having time to learn about infertility and IVF those are the most supportive comments many parents and close friends can come up with.

In Moses’ case, he realized there was a plethora of information available online, but having to sort through and decide what was reputable, and applicable to their specific situation was difficult and more specifically, he found that there was very little information available to assist men in dealing with infertility and even less geared towards men surrounding IVF.

Once Moses and his wife found a support group through their hospital, Moses noted what that some couples were very open and engaging, while others preferred to just sit back and listen.  He noted that the men, unless directly engaged, tended to observe more than participate and being the kind of person he is, Moses spoke up during these sessions – asking questions, stating facts and citing sources – which provided a forum for other men in the group to participate more actively.

As a result, Moses was asked to co-facilitate some of these support groups and provide the male perspective in order to assist men in the group to understand what they were feeling and that it was okay to be unsure of what would happen down the road or that their spouses were also puzzled, confused, frustrated, angry, and sad and it was okay if they were too.  I learned that the average number of years that couples are full of stress, blame, resentment and self-doubt is 2.4.

I also learned from Moses that during this period of time in which the woman has to come to grips with the fact that she may not be able to conceive a baby.  The father needs to play a huge part in this life-altering realization beginning with listening and ending with supporting.

Here are the 4 key pillars of support men need to offer during infertility, according to Moses:

1.  Listen – with your eyes and ears.  Don’t wait for your wife to come to you to talk.  Sense when she needs your support, whether it’s just to have you listen or for her to vent at.  You know she’s have a really tough time and it’s the time you need to be hyper aware of her needs.  By failing to step up at this point could cause irreparable damage to the relationship which she may never get over.

2.  Acknowledge that you are not able to sort through this by yourself.  As men, we have this tendency to try to solve problems regardless of whether there is a solution available or if our opinions are needed at that moment.  But there is not a solution available and with infertility being the serious problem that it is – tensions are already high – and our offer of a solution is not helpful.  Instead, we need to seek the help of professionals who deal with infertility and who have first-hand experience with the next steps and we need to speak with them, with others in the same situations and with organizations who are there to assist, in order to make sure that we can learn, educate ourselves and support our wives.

3.  Seek out opportunities to speak with like-minded people.  Briefly touched on in the previous point, you cannot underestimate the importance of speaking with like-minded people who have either gone through this with success or who have not had success as it provides a window into where your mindset could be in six-months, a year, or two-years.  In addition, these couples may have tried something different or picked up a trick or technique which might be beneficial down the road or at the very worst case, these couples may be able to offer up support or hope which can help you down the road as the going gets tough.

4.  Educate yourself – this is huge – give yourself power.  As in every situation, motivated people do their homework and continue to keep up the pace on the current goings-on in every facet of their lives.  In the workplace, they continue to educate themselves because they want to learn more, know more and get a higher degree which can help them get a better position and in life, people who want to stay healthy stay up-to-date on the latest trends and reports.  Researching and learning about infertility, treatments, IVF, risks and rewards helps prepare couples for the decisions they have to make and what their future will look like.

It makes sense that couples who want families so bad that they are willing to give up their bodies and their life savings remain on top of the latest trends in treatment of infertility, drugs, and the side-effects on the woman and the potential babies and on IVF and risks, rewards and expected length of time.

When asked whether or not he felt that each province should cover the cost of IVF treatments in order to reduce the cost to taxpayers of multiple births, Moses adamantly responded that “YES!”  Not only does the funding of IVF reduce the costs to taxpayers but it also helps couples who want children more than anything else in the world not have to lose everything in order to have them.  Having to pay for multiple treatments, without any government intervention, made it perfectly clear to Moses that IVF is not available to everyone and it should be.

In this day and age where society worries about the breakdown in the family unit, it is refreshing to see couples who are trying their hardest to become families knowing the importance of this family unit to them and that their child(ren) would be supported and nurtured through thick and thin.

It makes sense to fund IVF in order to keep premature babies and mommies out of the hospital and keep that costs off the taxpayer.  It also makes sense to help couples who want children more than anything else in the world, try to realize that dream.

Please follow @OHIP4IVF on Twitter or the hashtag #OHIP4IVF to support government funding for IVF.  Help other couples become parents, without the financial burden that comes with infertility.

*I am sharing my story as a member of the Conceivable Dreams blog team, and have been compensated for this post.  Opinions and the words which I have written are all my own.
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Posted in Being Jewish in Toronto, Coffee, Community, Daddy, family, government, health, Life, Thursday Thirteen

Thursday Thirteen – My 13 Most Memorable Posts of my first 900 Posts.

So this is my 900th blog post here at The Urban Daddy.  

A lot has happened in the time it has taken me to write 900 posts here.  3 children, 8 years of marriage, a lot of education and thankfully, my writing has improved too.  I’ve noticed that people actually read stuff I have written and I’ve started a professional tax / management / social media blog which has just over 100 posts on it, so I won’t bore all of you with that kind of yucky stuff here.

This post was actually ready last Monday, but I decided to wait until Thursday so I could capitalize on the Thursday Thirteen theme, but along the way I got my ass thoroughly kicked by a flu which has been slowly rolling through our household.  My son Stewie started with it – received an anti-biotic – and still 5 weeks later coughs like a chain-smoker.  Then my wife and daughter got hit around the same time, Boo had horribly goopy and runny eyes and had trouble sleeping at night.  My wife, the woman who laughs off strep throat, had it and tried to rest where possible but both of them still cough and sniffle 4 weeks later.  

As for me… It killed me.  I’m on day 8, 5 of those days without a voice which has never happened to me before, and for three of those days my head is stuffed and I cannot hear out of my left ear.  It throws off my balance.  But the coughing is the worst and at times I felt like I was going to herniate another disc in my back.  I think my abs might be in better shape after this, to be honest, but I’ve been pretty useless for over a week – fever, chills, sweats, exhausted… I’m so done with being sick.

So instead of letting another day fly by, I am tossing up this post, which is a list of the 13 most memorable posts to me, on this blog.  I hope you will take some time and check back to some of the earlier ones to see how much has changed along the way.

So please sit back, turn the calendar back to 2004, and be prepared to read the 13 most memorable posts to this Urban Daddy of his first 900 posts.

1) This is my first post on this blog.  Have to start somewhere, right.

2) Linus was born and we missed a major world tragedy in the process.  Had to write about it.

3)  The re-birth of my blog and my first angry rant at the TTC and other stupidities.  I got great feedback on this post and it gave me confidence to be myself online, to blog smartly and continue to point out how much I detest stupidity.

4) My first Thursday Thirteen from way back in 2006.  (Loved the templates back then).

5) Owie!!!  Our kitten arrived and back then it seemed like a great introduction to the family.  Now my kids look at that kitten, then look over at the adult-sized cat on the couch and wonder how that happened.  “Did Owie eat that little kitten?”

6) I reposted this speech from the United Nations, an organization I believe is corrupt, useless and anti-Israel and by doing this I pretty much came out as being Jewish – something I had not really done before just because I didn’t feel like fielding comments from bigots and racists.  Since that powerful post, and I hope that you do read this post, I have posted more and more as a means to educate people and to continue to stand up for what is right, just and fair.

7) Child #2 Arrives!  Hello Stewie.

8) First post about me…  I guess in always hiding behind a name, it was easy to never post about myself, but this post changed everything.  Since this post, I even got a name; Warren.

9) I posted about the day I completed my graduate school for my MBA which I started 3 days after Linus was born.  Work… School… Children.  Exhaustion.  It was a great ride, a ton of work and an opportunity to finally leave the government for the private sector.  I owe my wife and family a ton of gratitude for putting up with me studying while at the cottage, late nights at the kitchen table and for being downright cranky and surely during the process.  I also got a ton of A’s and a couple A+’s which I had never achieved before so that was sweet too.

10) This was my first “overheard on a Monday” post where I realized after a couple years that if I arrived at the office before 7:30am, that I could listen to my two neighbours talk about their weekends.  I used to tune them out and get right to work until one day I realized they were talking nonsense, something about double-reverse osmosis, so I called them on it – brought in my wife the chemistry teacher to back me up, and from there I had gems for my blog like no one else.  These are must read posts, as well.

11) The First Urban Daddy Official Canadian Coffee Shop Rankings.  I’m on year 4 currently and have received feedback and Twitter love from all the main chains, Country Style, Starbucks Canada, Java Joes, Tim Hortons and Timothy’s.

12) Boo is born!  Insert huge sigh of relief that this one is a girl, and please book the vasectomy appointment…

13) My absolutely most popular post ever.  On the Ontario election.  My views on this post were 10000% more than any other post, and some of my comments were tweeted along the live election feed of CP24.  I felt engaged.  Now, however, that total mocks me, as I get closer and closer to it, but it will be a long time before I can reach it again.

Thank you for being along for the first 900, and I look forward to many more posts and some great comments and contributions from all of you.

Honourable mentions:

My many posts on the Canadian Live-in Caregiver Program.

My series of posts on IVF, highlighted below for their critical importance in this day and age;