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Conversation with an Infertility Counselor

I'm Ellen Glazer and I'm a clinical social worker and writer who has combined my personal and professional experiences to co-author several books on the various issues surrounding fertility struggles.

I graduated from social work school in the early 1970's, encountered infertility in the late 1970's, became a mom in the early 80's (through adoption and birth) and then focussed my practice on infertility, pregnancy loss, adoption, gamete donation, surrogacy and parenting after infertility.

I meet with individuals, couples and groups and do phone consultations and counseling for people who live at a distance. I have also done a good deal of writing and public speaking in the field of infertility. In addition to articles and essays, I have authored or co-authored seven books, most recent being Having Your Baby Through Egg Donation (co-authored with Dr. Evelina Sterling). The second edition of Having Your Baby Through Egg Donation, also co-authored with Dr. Evelina Sterling, is set for release in June 2013 through Jessica Kingsley Publishers in England.

You can find out more about me here.

Posts

a blog by Ellen Glazer, December 27, 2013

I have a lovely client who has had an incredibly difficult time becoming a mom. She gets pregnant easily but loses each pregnancy somewhere along the way. Her losses include early ones and late ones, an ectopic and a third trimester loss. I’ve heard many painful stories in my decades as an infertility counselor, but hers is among the most challenging. And so it makes me all the sadder to hear her say that one of the hardest parts of her experience is “seeing the mean side of myself.”

I know all too well that it is not a therapist or counselor’s role to talk someone out of their feelings. Still it Is hard to listen to this client, whom I’ll call Melissa, without chiming in and letting her know (loud and clear I’m afraid) that “mean” and negative thoughts are part of the infertility and pregnancy loss experience. One doesn’t have to be a “bad” person to wish that a friend’s pregnancy would simply disappear or to angry when an invitation to a baby shower arrives.

a blog by Ellen Glazer, July 29, 2013

“We did it!” These three words--exclamation point included-- arrived in my email Inbox this week. I was glad to see them but not surprised—I had known that my client, Kathy, was about to have a baby. She had texted me on the way to the hospital when she was in labor. So this blog is not about the news of Kathy’s baby—it’s about the words she chose for her email heading and the meaning here of “We did it!”

First, some background-- Kathy’s baby was born through egg donation. She and her husband struggled for a long time with infertility and ultimately knew they wanted to be parents. Both were open to adoption and to egg donation and chose the latter, as many do, because they wanted the experience of pregnancy.

a blog by Ellen Glazer, July 22, 2013

When a friend told me about the article in July/August Atlantic, “How Long Can You Wait to Have a Baby?” I was skeptical. The gist of the article is that the warnings to women about age related declines in fertility have been over stated and over blown. As a counselor who sees so many women in their 40’s struggling with infertility, I’ve come to believe that age plays a huge role in determining who is fertile and who is not. The question, I guess, is: “what age—when does fertility really decline?”

Author Jean Twenge provides some compelling research indicating that a large percentage of women in their late 30’s are fertile. She adds that the percentage is higher for white women of normal weight. Twenge quotes one study that found that the difference between a 28 year old woman becoming pregnant and a 37 year old is only 4 percentage points. And another that says that 89% of 38 year old women are fertile. So why then have I seen so many women for whom age seems to play such a major role in declining fertility?

a blog by Ellen Glazer, July 15, 2013

When you were thinking about becoming a mother or father, you probably fantasized about what you child would be like. Everybody does. I think that most of the time, partners focus on the traits they like best in themselves and in each other, and imagine a child who combines the best of both of them. After all, it is much easier, exciting and more natural to picture a child with your beautiful eyes and his great hair or your athletic ability and his musical talent than it is to imagine a child who has your anxiety and his stubbornness, your Uncle Fred’s schizophrenia genes and his Aunt Sally’s paranoia. You get the picture.

a blog by Ellen Glazer, July 8, 2013

I just returned from a visit to the maternity floor. I was there to welcome a baby boy that I have “known” in some ways for over a year but who was born only yesterday. When I say that I’ve “known” him, I’m remembering the conversations his mother and I had over several months as she decided whether to try egg donation. I’m recalling when she met her first donor and was floating on air with excitement. And then there was the cycle that failed and the news that her donor, a wonderful person, was infertile. On to another donor, whom my client (and I) liked even more, A successful pregnancy. The news it was a boy. Yesterday an email, “I’m on my way to the hospital!!” And today, Jonah.

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