6 reasons why breastfeeding is essential for your child’s health and survival.


There’s a lot more to breast milk than just being food for babies.

Photo: Reuters

There is nothing in the world that haunts a mother more than her child’s health.

And if all the new mothers are looking for something that can actually help infants fight viruses, lower allergies, improve IQ and ensure fewer trips to the hospital–then the answer is right here.Â

The above mentioned situation can become a reality if you exclusively breastfeed your baby.

Although some women do have a different point of view to offer–according to whom, a low quantity of milk is one major reason why they aren’t huge fans of breastfeeding.

To do its bit in changing the point of view, a new report by WHO has gone on to say that breast milk is the ideal food for newborns and infants as it provides them with almost all the nutrients they need for a healthy development.

It is not only safe but also contains antibodies that help protect infants from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea and pneumonia–the two primary causes of child mortality worldwide.

Paediatricians and obstetricians have in the past too strongly recommended breastfeeding for up to two years for a baby’s better health. It is considered the ideal nutrition for babies as it has a near-perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat–everything your baby needs to grow.

Easily digestible, breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria.

Here are five benefits of breastfeeding according to WebMD.

  1. Breastfeeding lowers your baby’s risk of developing asthma or allergies.
  2. Babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhoea.
  3. According to some studies, breastfeeding has been linked to higher IQ scores among children.
  4. The physical closeness, skin-to-skin touching, and eye contact deepens the bond between a mother and child.
  5. Breastfed infants are more likely to gain the right amount of weight as they grow, rather than becoming overweight.
  6. The AAP says that breastfeeding also plays a role in the prevention of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). It has also been known to lower the risk of diabetes, obesity, and even certain kinds of cancers.

Great Barrier Reef could lose more than a quarter of coral to bleaching within 40 years


Coral bleached white in shallow waters off Lizard Island in the Great Barrier Reef

Coral bleached white in shallow waters off Lizard Island in the Great Barrier Reef

Corals on the Great Barrier Reef developed a protective mechanism that helped them survive past bleaching events, according to a new study.

But more than a quarter of reefs could lose this protective mechanism within 40 years if sea level temperatures rise as little as 0.5 degrees Celsius above present levels, Australian and US scientists report in the journal Science.

Co-author Dr Juan Ortiz, from the University of Queensland, said their analysis of data from the past three decades showed corals were exposed to a “practice run” of gradually warming waters ahead of each bleaching event.

“We found historically in the past 27 years about 70 per cent of the thermal stress events have been characterised by a temperature profile that helps the coral to be ready for when the stress happens,” Dr Ortiz said.

“The water becomes warm enough to send signals into the coral’s metabolic pathways so the coral has a better ability to withstand the bleaching event.”

They found this reduced coral mortality during bleaching by more than 50 per cent.

For the study, which also included scientists from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University (JCU) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration USA, the team collected coral specimens from the Great Barrier Reef and did experimental work to determine the effect of sea surface temperature change.

They then used remote sensing data from the past 27 years to look at historical sea surface temperature patterns on the Great Barrier Reef and climate change modelling to look at future trends.

The study showed there had been 372 thermal stress events, capable of causing bleaching, that occurred across 115 reef areas.

Future thermal stress ‘far more lethal’ for corals

Dr Ortiz said given sea temperatures were steadily rising, it was possible the temperature of the “practice run” could eventually exceed the threshold at which bleaching occurred, switching these events from being protective to becoming increasingly lethal.

He said their work showed with just a 0.5C temperature increase — predicted to happen within 40 years — about 20-30 per cent of reefs would lose this protective mechanism.

With a 2-degree temperature rise, more than 80 per cent of reefs would be directly exposed to bleaching events, he said.

He said reefs that maintained this protective mechanism were likely to withstand the effect of climate change if emissions were reduced.

If emissions were not reduced, maintaining this mechanism would delay the effect of climate change by about 20 years, he added.

Dr Ortiz said the models would be an important management tool for the Great Barrier Reef as it showed reefs lost this protective mechanism at different rates.

“We know even if we reduce emissions there will be different levels of effect of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef and this approach can help identify the reefs that will maintain their protection and should be given priority for further protection.”

Device used to trick cellphones into revealing location raises legal issue, lawmaker says.


Shannon Bream reports on agencies' use of 'stingray' technology
Your cellphone may have been tracked by the government

An electronic device that tricks cellphones into revealing a user’s location is becoming a key weapon for law enforcement in its battle against drug traffickers, terror suspects and other dangerous criminals — but its potential misuse against innocent Americans and the secrecy surrounding which agencies have the devices is of growing concern by civil liberties watchdogs and lawmakers.

Cellular site simulators — known as “StingRay tracking” — basically are fake cell towers that use digital signals to trick a cellphone into revealing its location and other information. Law enforcement typically places the device near the location of a known suspect — but they also have been used at large gatherings such as rallies, where the digital information of hundreds, even thousands, is scooped up.

And while law enforcement agencies turn to the courts for permission to deploy the devices, the requests typically are generic applications called “pen register applications,” which only require the agency to affirm that the device will be used in a criminal investigation, without having to name a specific individual. That legal vagueness is what concerns lawmakers.

“If you can track somebody’s location 24/7, you know the content of their life,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. “I think innocent Americans have a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

Chaffetz last November proposed the Stingray Privacy Act, which would toughen the warrants needed to deploy the devices and make their use without a court order illegal and punishable with a fine or up to 10 years in prison.

Since introducing the bipartisan legislation, Chaffetz said his ongoing investigation into which agencies use StingRay devices and why has yielded few answers.

“It’s still highly secretive,” Chaffetz told FoxNews.com Wednesday. “They’re not very candid about how they’re using them.”

“For instance, the IRS has this technology,” he said. “What in the world are they doing with it? It raises questions as to why they would need to track people as they move around the country.”

Cell site simulators are currently used by 13 federal agencies, including the U.S. Marshals Service and Drug Enforcement Administration, and at least 50 local and state police departments, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Places where the devices are used by local and state police include California, Texas, Minnesota, Florida, Maryland and New York.

Effectively Introducing Climate/Geo-Engineering to the Uninformed.


“Geoengineering”. It sounds like science fiction, but it’s not. It’s happening right above you.

You can easily find articles and debates in which scientists propose to “dim” the sun to slow down climate change, using a technique called “Solar Radiation Management” (SRM). Their concept is to mimic the dimming and cooling effects of a volcanic eruption and existing particulate pollution made by human activity. However, it has been out of the ‘proposal’ stage for quite some time, and even though government officials will not admit it, SRM is already in full-scale operation.

To some, SRM may sound like a viable solution to slowing climate warming, and scientists have repeated how “cheap” it is over and over again. But it comes with a price. In fact, it comes with many

A primary stated goal of the geoengineering programs is to provide a “solar shield” to slow “runaway climate change” by spraying tens of millions of tons of highly toxic metal nano particulates (a nanometer is 1/1,000,000,000 of a meter) into the atmosphere. As a result, these global climate geoengineering programs are radically disrupting natural weather patterns [1], disrupting the hydrological cycle [2] (causing drought in some areas and flooding others)[3], destroying the ozone layer [4], and contaminating the entire planet [5] with the toxic fallout from these atmospheric spraying operations [6].

Climate engineering programs have been fully deployed for many years. There is a mountain of hard science data [7] and film footage [8] to back up these statements of fact.

So how do we stop the spraying?

Introducing Geoengineering to the Uninformed

1. You must get off the bench and show up for the cause

The largest climate change awareness march ever occurred in New York on September 21, 2014. By some estimates as many as 400,000 participated. Unfortunately, not a single anti-geoengineering activist made it to this march in order to help wake up the climate change activists to the climate engineering reality.

Film maker George Barnes (of the Look Up documentary and skyderalert.com) sent out the word for anti-geoengineering activists to show up at a September 2014 march to help distribute climate engineering awareness flyers (supplied by geoengineeringwatch.org) and DVDs (supplied by George Barnes). About 100 activists said they would come and not one showed up to assist George with this effort. Not one.

Cheering from the sidelines won’t get the job done, we all have to get into the trench and help in the fight. Every day each of us can find some way to move the ball forward in regard to raising awareness. Who haven’t you spoken to about this issue? Who haven’t you passed on a flyer or DVD to? When is the next ‘Stop Climate Engineering’ march? Will you be there?

Geoengineering Protest march in Bolona Italy, April 2015
Geoengineering protest march in Bologna Italy, April 2015.

2. Spend Some Time Getting at Least Somewhat “Up to Speed” On the Issue Yourself

It is important to be able to field at least some basic questions about this most dire issue if you are to gain credibility with others. Most people, of any political stripe, do not want to be sprayed like bugs. Most people are at least partially aware that the weather is “off”, that chronic respiratory diseases and countless other related diseases are going off the charts. Most are also aware that weather modification (at least in some form) is real.

Chemtrailing over Saratoga Springs New York 2013A conversation can often be initiated by simply asking someone if they have noticed the weather is unusual or changing? Are they aware of the fact that there are massive global weather modification programs that are not being reported by media?

The terms “geoengineering” and “climate engineering” are important in any conversation on this issue. If a person googles “geoengineering” or “climate engineering”, they will find volumes of scientific articles and reporting. If only the word “chemtrails” is used, disinformation and ‘debunking’ sites and definitions will be the first thing they come to.

Again, know the basics. Geoengineering is shredding the ozone layer, altering the weather patterns, polluting our air, waters and soils.

It is also very important to have some idea of who you are speaking with and what aspect of the geoengineering issue they will be most interested in and affected by. Going too far into the “rabbit hole” is almost always counterproductive, stick to the basic straightforward facts. DON’T discredit the subject at hand by wandering into other issues that are not science based and that do not belong in this discussion.

3. Have Credible Data to Pass On To Others

This is not expensive or difficult. There are a number of tools that can and should be used for this purpose. The documentary “Look Up” is a very effective introduction tool. This film can be ordered at skyderalert.com. An additional tool is the power point presentation Climate Engineering, Weather Warfare and The Collapse of Civilization. This presentation is also available on DVD.

When passing on a DVD, it is much more effective to include an information flyer with it. For only 10 to 20 cents a copy, more or less, very important and compelling data can be passed on. Such a flyer will make it much more likely the DVD will actually get viewed. Flyer examples can be found and downloaded for free atgeoengineeringwatch.org/ads. One of these examples can be used, or new ones can be made. Be sure all data on any flyers is simple, credible, and verifiable. Color glossy two sided information flyers can also be ordered from geoengineeringwatch.org, contact us at the web site.

4. Don’t Point to the Sky and Go Into a Rant, That Only Puts Up Defenses

If people are made uncomfortable, they will only tune out all that you are saying and focus their attention on how to end the conversation. Again, more often than not, lengthy conversations are not productive. As stated above, it only leads to uncomfortable situations for all concerned. A simple (and short) mention of the issue and its major consequences, and the passing on of a flyer with a DVD, can often be the most effective approach. It’s also helpful to mention that the government is not disclosing these programs and mainstream media is not covering the story. If people who are being introduced remain comfortable, they are most likely to examine the information being passed on when they have time in their own home or office.

5. Very Important Contacts Can and Should Be Made with the Internet

There are countless groups, organizations, and individuals that would care if they had any clue about the geoengineering programs. Environmental groups, Alzhiemer’s, autism, ADD, agriculture groups, journalists, etc. Locate such groups and send them a “heads up” email with some credible data attachments. Also, a link or two where they can learn more on the most dire issue of geoengineering. On the home page of geoengineeringwatch.org site is the “flaming arrow link”. This suggested email package of information is already set to go, just find appropriate people and groups to send it to.

geoengineering-flyer-front-final

In a personal encounter, if someone is not receptive, or even argumentative, try to keep your composure. Confrontations only cause people to put up their defenses and they won’t hear a word you say. We are planting seeds of awareness, if done properly, the seeds will sprout. As the climate system continues to unravel (with climate engineering helping to fuel the fire), people will soon enough have no choice but to wake up.

If we all pull together, we can and will soon reach “critical mass” in the effort to expose the on going global geoengineering programs. The decimation being caused to the planet, us, and all life on Earth is immense, it’s up to all of us to stop it. If we can simply reach this tipping point of awareness, the dominos will begin to fall in regard to the climate engineering programs. When the families of those participating in the various aspects of geoengineering realize that they are quite literally killing themselves and their children along with the rest of us, the equation will change. When the larger population realizes they have all been poisoned from the climate engineering, there will be a shock wave around the globe.

People Will Listen

Please, forward this information to everyone you know. We are far beyond the point where we can worry about what people think of us personally. Our planet has no chance if we do not raise awareness and speak out.

In my experience, if you connect with people in a manner they can relate to, they will listen. I recently connected with the head of the Northern California Cattleman’s Association. What was he most interested in knowing? How geoengineering programs are negatively affecting him and his fellow ranchers, reducing rainfall, stunting the growth of native grasses and feed crops due to the toxic contamination and the shredding of the ozone layer (which also harms feed crops). These aspects of the global spraying are very clearly causing very negative impacts to him, so he wanted to know more.

If you learn enough about this issue to inform people how they personally are being affected, given what you specifically know about their concerns and interests, they will listen.

We have the power to expose and stop the ongoing geoengineering insanity if we work together in this all important battle. Make your voice heard.

(We extend our most sincere gratitude to “Reclaim The Planet” for organizing this outstanding event. Our gratitude also goes to all the citizens who helped with the demonstration in Bologna.)

Get informed…

Geoengineering Protest march in Bolona Italy, April 2015If you’re concerned, visit www.skyderalert.com and take a few minutes to view the trailer to the film “Look Up”, a newly released, award winning documentary narrated by William Baldwin. It is an excellent introduction to the ongoing issue of climate engineering / geoengineering.

We have included articles and information that will shine more light on this extremely important issue, one that is radically affecting our planet’s life support systems, and every one of us. Our only goal is that you will review what we have included, and we hope it will motivate your continued investigation of this unregulated – and devastating – climate modification programs that are being conducted globally.

Companies begin planting microchips under employees’ skin.


The technology has been around for some years now, but the use of RFID (radio-frequency identification) chips and other beneath-the-skin implants has only recently become more widespread.

A high-tech office complex in Sweden is now offering tenants’ staff the option of having a small RFID chip implanted in one’s wrist that allows certain functions in the building to be performed with a wave of the hand, such as opening doors and operating photocopiers.

Epicenter office block developers are in support of the implanting program, which is being made available through a Swedish bio-hacking group. The group promotes the use of bio-enhancement technology and predicts a future in which sophisticated implant systems will closely monitor a range of inputs from body sensors while interacting with the “internet of things.”

In other words, we will soon have the option of being physically connected to the Internet as well as to an increasingly widespread network of smart devices.

For many, the idea of having an implant containing personal information inserted under the skin is not a welcome option. Not only is there maybe something creepy about the whole idea to begin with, but the fact is that a lot of us feel our privacy and autonomy has been compromised enough already, without voluntarily becoming walking transmitters of our personal data.

Some predict that one day it won’t be a matter of choice, or that the use of implants and other types of bio-enhancement and connectivity will become so commonplace as to be expected, if not required. The fear is that we will lose our freedom and privacy in the process.

Others welcome the prospect of becoming physically connected to the internet of things, such as the bio-hacking group responsible for the office block’s RFID program.

A BBC News feature profiled Hannes Sjoblad, a bio-hacker who organizes “implant parties” where volunteers are implanted:

He is starting small, aiming to get 100 volunteers signed up in the coming few months, with 50 people already implanted. But his vision is much bigger.

Then will be a 1,000, then 10,000. I am convinced that this technology is here to stay and we will think it nothing strange to have an implant in their hand.

Although the RFID chips being used now are capable of little more than opening doors and operating copiers, the potential is far greater. RFID chips will likely evolve into ever-more sophisticated devices, capable of a wide range of interactions.

Already companies are developing technologies that will go a step beyond the already-familiar “wearable” gadgets — examples include a digital tattoo that can be stamped onto skin and can monitor body functions.

It’s certainly easy to imagine that within a few years there will be dramatic advances regarding what this type of technology can do. And since various types of bodily enhancement — bionic limbs, pacemakers and cosmetic surgery — are already commonplace, it stands to reason that many people will have few if any qualms about implants and other bio-hacking tech.

On the other hand, the idea of a central authority having the advantage of direct connections and access to an individual’s physical body with the potential of monitoring GPS position, heart rate, perhaps even brain waves, is frightening to contemplate.

Most of us have embraced the revolutionary technological advances of the past few decades. We’re more connected than ever before, and even if we don’t all agree that this is necessarily a good thing, very few of us would willingly give up our smartphones at this point.

But perhaps we should be extremely careful about making the leap to cyborg status. Is this truly an inevitable and potentially useful tech advancement or is it a step too far?

The time for debate is now, because the technology is already entering the mainstream. And as with most technological revolutions, once it has happened there is little hope of turning back.

Best Anti-Aging Tips of All Time.


Sure, the arsenal of anti-aging lotions, serums, and creams you’ve got stashed in your medicine cabinet can slow down the aging process and make your skin glow (in fact, we swear by many of them). But when it comes to preventing and fading the fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots that tack years onto your appearance, making smart lifestyle changes is what will really erase years from your face. These 27 anti-aging tips really work, according to research, dermatologists, and beauty experts.

http://www.health.com/beauty/best-anti-aging-tips?xid=socialflow_facebook_health

A Mosquito Saved Her Life: They Thought it Was an Infection and Then This Happened!


This little girl’s leg where it is bitten by a mosquito has become black and swollen. The mother suspected that this is an allergic reaction, but she was still immediately taken to a doctor for detailed examination.

Concerned Hayley Williams (25) took the daughter Connie McCaughey to the doctor when the bite blackened and swollen.

The mother expected the doctor to prescribe only antihistamines, but the girl was sent to the hospital. The girl was diagnosed with the early phase of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

This form of leukemia is very risky and it is of crucial importance that it is diagnosed early – says Connie physician Dr. Mark Velangi

Fortunately, the cancer was diagnosed early, aggressive chemotherapy was given and the results of the treatment were successful.

A Bite from Mosquitto
A Bite from Mosquitto

Only seven months after the diagnosis of the girl, who is now four years old, the cancer is in remission, but doctors expect her to officially be completely healthy in January 2016.

Everything was unreal, we could not believe it – says her mother.

When I was on vacation in Ibiza noticed a bite, I thought it was normal. By the next morning I noticed that the site of the bite blackened. The doctor was great because we were immediately sent to the hospital, and the findings were quickly made.

-He said that the bite blackened due to poor immunity. She was devastated when she heard the words “your daughter has cancer.”

-After we learned the news, we have tried to regain her composure and be positive for Connie’s well being.  She began to lose hair, but she was brave. I think we have more difficult things to endure. She was very happy, I’m so proud of her.

 

What Happens to Your Body After You Stop Working Out


Health experts really emphasize the importance of daily exercise, whether that means lifting weights or power-walking in the park. But while the benefits of exercise are fairly well-established, what people might not realize is that your body undergoes sometroubling chemical changes if you stop working out.

Here are six chemical changes that occur when you stop exercising for a week.

Exercise

1. Your blood sugar increases.

blood sugar

When you have a healthy workout routine, your blood glucose level goes up immediately after you eat a meal and then levels out as your body expends energy. After just five days of skipping the gym, however, your blood sugar level stays high. And, according to The Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, “[i]f you stay sedentary, continuously creeping glucose readings can raise your risk of heart disease and diabetes.”

2. Your muscle volume decreases.

muscle

For every day that you aren’t exercising, you’re taking a toll on your endurance. You’ll find it increasingly hard to keep up with your workout routine, even though you still might keep your muscle tone for the first few days. But after a week, your biceps and quads are going to start to shrink and lose strength; certain muscle types will actually convert due to inaction, from type IIa to type IIx, which fatigues more rapidly, research by Martin Graham, from the University of Copenhagen, as cited by Men’s Health.

3. Your body fat builds.

dog

“Within a week, your muscles lose some of their fat-burning potential and your metabolism slows down,” Men’s Health reports. A study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that college swimmers who took a five-week workout break gained 12 percent fat mass.

4. Your brain takes a hit.

brainGIPHY – GIPHY.COM

If you stop exercising for a week, your brain is going to suffer. While studies focusing on how sloth affects the human brain are limited, we can draw conclusions based on studies of lab rats such as one recently published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity; research found that rats who didn’t move for a week grew fewer new brain cells than healthy, active rats, and they had a harder time completing mazes, too.

5. Your blood pressure increases.

lazy

It doesn’t even take a week for your blood pressure to increase if you stop working out. On days that you don’t exercise, your blood pressure is already higher than on days you remain active. But after a week of indulging in a sedentary lifestyle, your blood vessels constrict and amp up your blood pressure, which can cause damage to your heart and coronary arteries, leaving you at risk of heart attacks, heart disease, and atherosclerosis.

6. You Could Become Depressed

A week-long break in exercise can also have a negative impact on your emotional health. According to a 2006 study conducted at the University of Bethesda, Maryland found that “fatigue and somatic depressive symptoms emerged after 1 week of exercise withdrawal.” However, it’s important to note that subjects in the study were required to stop working out for two weeks, and the researcher who ran the study said she is not sure if the results would apply to those who voluntarily gave up working out.

Research finds germs, not true love, make humans mate for life.


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 The research showed that our natural environment, with factors such as disease spread, “can strongly influence the development of social norms, and in particular our group-oriented judgements.

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 http://www.hindustantimes.com/sex-and-relationships/research-finds-germs-not-true-love-make-humans-mate-for-life/story-fKF5SMr2BIn7RuBm8sR2IN.html?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=fbpost&utm_campaign=sex

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Why Couples Turn to In-Vitro Fertilization, Even When They Can’t Afford It.


The new documentary HAVEABABY follows couples as they give up everything to try and conceive through in-vitro fertilization. Now its filmmaker is coming out about her own infertility.

For most of us, the ability to procreate seems a given, whether we plan to act on it or not, and when we think something is a given, we take it lightly. On April 24th, National Infertility Awareness Week (#NIAW) begins, and people like me will be shouting from Internet rooftops about our most intimate failures in our attempts to have a child. Why would we go public about such private matters, and why does “awareness” matter? That term is thrown around a lot, especially on social media, where we are all subjected daily to perfect strangers spilling their guts for vanity or attention rather than for the public good.

But here’s why you should pay attention during NIAW. Over 7 million Americans are unable to naturally conceive or carry a baby to term, and the majority of them feel vulnerable, isolated, and alone. Chances are you know someone who is struggling with infertility, but you may have no idea how hard it really is for them. Infertility is usually kept secret; it’s about sex, it’s about loss and failure, and bottom line is, it’s a drag. So it’s no surprise that people aren’t clamoring to speak out about it. When we do speak out about it, more often than not, well-meaning friends and family want to solve the problem with quick advice, which only makes matters worse: “Why don’t you just adopt?” and “You just need to relax!” or “Maybe it’s time to move on” are the most common responses. (Here’s a useful guide from our friends at RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association for those of you wondering, well, what the heck am I supposed to say, and why don’t they just adopt?)

Recently, celebrities like Tyra Banks and Chrissy Teigen have been outspoken about their infertility struggles, sometimes at their own peril. Tired of being publicly prodded as to why they didn’t have children, Teigen and Banks “outed” themselves on live television, urging people to “stop asking,” the implication being that the people asking had zero awareness and therefore no sensitivity to the pain these two women endured in their attempts to build a family. I am grateful for their courage in bringing visibility to the issue, but I fear the #StopAsking campaign may give the impression that silence is the solution, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

For the last two years I have been filming a documentary with couples from all across the country who “came out” about their infertility in hopes of winning a contest. Unlike Teigen and Banks, who have the financial means to pursue any path to parenthood that they choose, the people in my film don’t have that same privilege, and they believe that this social media contest is their best hope at having a family. Baring their souls online, they compete for a free round of in vitro fertilization worth thousands of dollars, a procedure most insurance companies do not cover. Critics see this contest as an exploitative marketing ploy, but to my surprise most of the contestants said it was cathartic to “out” themselves, and that their videos helped educate the people closest to them about the reality of their condition. The film, HAVEABABY, premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival on Thursday night, so I’m putting my subjects’ courage to the ultimate test. And, as I promised them, I am “outing” myself, too, now that the film is being released.

Over the last three years, my husband and I have struggled with our own infertility issues, during which he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. I was shocked by my ignorance about my own fertility, and bowled over by the financial and emotional costs of treatment. California, like the majority of the United States, does not mandate infertility health care coverage, even for cancer patients, so our costs were 100 percent out of pocket. It felt like the doctor took over our bedroom and our savings account all at once, and it put an incredible strain on our marriage. Thankfully, my husband’s cancer was treatable, and is in remission. I wish I could say the same about our infertility.
In researching possible financial solutions to our own situation, I came across Sher Fertility’s “I Believe” video journal contest. This competition struck me as a perfectly absurd distillation of the overwhelming world of reproductive medicine in which I now found myself. I knew right away that this was a film I had to make. Working on the project, I’ve met people from diverse racial, cultural, and religious backgrounds who have mortgaged their homes, taken second jobs, moved in with their parents, and even sold livestock in order to pursue medical treatment for their infertility. The one thing we all share is the feeling that this condition is not taken seriously and is often misunderstood.
Many other developed countries consider infertility a legitimate medical condition and offer some level of insurance coverage for IVF, but most American health insurance companies don’t view having a child as a medical necessity, and many won’t even cover testing in search of a diagnosis. At worst, reproductive medicine is seen as a luxury in our culture, a selfish and elective procedure much like plastic surgery, for a stereotypically wealthy patient who waited too long to have children. Never mind that the World Health Organization classified infertility as a legitimate disease in 2009. Looking back on my past insurance claims, I found it noteworthy that multiple knee surgeries to support my amateur athletic pursuits were never audited as a questionable lifestyle choice, but somehow my choice to conceive a child was.
Having dealt with both cancer and infertility in the same stretch, it was a striking comparison for me how supported we felt around the one, and how alone we felt in the other. But just a generation ago, there was a culture of secrecy around cancer, too. Cultural awareness about cancer has grown in leaps and bounds in the last twenty years precisely because people started speaking about it, thanks in part to social media and the Internet. Celebrities spoke out, and average Americans spoke out. Thankfully, there are now vast support networks for cancer patients, and some day, we may even find a cure.
I suspect there may be no “cure” for infertility, but even a small dose of education around this too-often taboo subject could help protect other couples from the grief that my husband and I have faced. Because I took my fertility for granted, when I made the choice to have a family—which was a very hard choice for me to make, and took longer than I expected—I thought the hard part was done. We never had reason to suspect a medical problem, and by the time it was diagnosed, we had to deal with “advanced maternal age” on top of a plummeting sperm count. After several attempts, I got pregnant for the first time last year, and when we heard our first fetal heartbeat, we held our breath, ever hopeful. Unfortunately, at 10 weeks, I had a miscarriage. My husband and I have never experienced a loss this profound, and we still have not completely recovered. There’s no advice or easy fix for this, we just need time to heal, and we will find our own resolution when we are ready.
While I can’t control my fertility, I can use my skills as a filmmaker to try to give voice to the experience of infertile people, and thereby help raise the critical awareness this community needs in order to move the needle on a biased system. The point of speaking out, during NIAW and beyond, is not to complain or get attention, but to try to transform our suffering into some kind of meaningful change, and awareness is the first step in any cultural shift. By humanizing the individual struggles of men and women with a medical need who choose to build a family through IVF but cannot afford it, my goal is to ignite a conversation about the flipside of reproductive choice: the choice to have a child.

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