Lynn Colliar with her "IVF baby" Teagan and husband Glenn
Global TV's weekend news anchor Lynn Colliar shares her fertility story in support of Canadian Infertility Awareness Week
Having a family was always important to Lynn Colliar, so dealing with infertility issues was a frustrating setback for this Vancouver broadcaster. Even with a background in biology, even knowing that at 39 her chances of naturally conceiving were only five per cent, she felt "a little angry" over her complications "when it seemed everyone else just... got pregnant (on their own)."
The biology of reproduction is science, but the process of creating life is emotional and Colliar and her husband, Glenn, felt frustrated and let down that they weren't able to achieve this quickly and easily.
Statistics show that infertility rates are on rise, and that's partly explained by the trend of women delaying starting a family today until they're older. Like Colliar, a lot of Canadian women are putting marriage and family on hold in favour of pursuing a career.
While older women have a harder time conceiving naturally, at least they're in a better position to finance fertility treatments, because they're very expensive.
On average, a single IVF cycle is $4,800, plus medication that can easily triple the final cost. In B.C., while the Medical Services Plan covers most aspects of fertility testing and surgery, it doesn't cover the cost of fertility treatments, including IVF. Colliar and her husband were lucky enough to be able to juggle their finances to afford IVF, but Lynn wearily jokes that their daughter will have to pay for her own university education, since they already spent her college fund just getting her.
But costs and logistics aside, the most difficult challenge Colliar encountered was the lack of conversation and general support for people dealing with infertility issues. While she enthusiastically credits her infertility medical team, headed by Dr. Al Yuzpe at Olive Fertility Centre, as being wholeheartedly supportive and positive, this kind of encouragement was hard to find outside the fertility centre.
As a broadcaster, Colliar is a natural communicator and she wanted to talk about her experiences with IVF. At that time (2010), IVF was still considered a bit of a hush-hush topic and Lynn was stunned to realise no one wanted to acknowledge that couples might be having problems starting a family and might benefit from medical intervention.
The Hollywood Fertility Myth
Part of the problem, laments Colliar, is the myth perpetuated by older Hollywood actresses that pregnancy can happy easily... at any age. In an industry and town where image is king – where actors don't acknowledge the use of Botox, plastic surgery or even dieting – everyone turns a blind eye when an actresses like Gwen Stafani (44), Molly Ringwald (42) and Kelly Preston (47) announce they're pregnant. Whether or not fertility treatments were used, no one even discusses the possibility, which leads the public to think it was all natural.
Teagan: "An IVF Baby!"
Colliar wants to change public attitudes about infertility and get the conversation going in a positive and supportive manner. She's not shy about her own experiences at Olive Fertility Centre and always proudly introduces her three-year old daughter, Teagan, as her "IVF baby!"
Part of the conversation that she wants to have is to remind parents-to-be that "IVF is an aid, not a guarantee." Unfortunately, miscarriages are an inherent risk to IVF – something Colliar experienced herself, once before Teagan was conceived and several times after. She and Glenn aren't sure if they'll try again, since the process is expensive and emotionally exhausting.
All of this, the joys and devastation, are what Colliar wants to share with people. Experiences with infertility and finding the right treatment are highly personal and intimate, but they're not anything to be ashamed of and Colliar hopes that her story will help others to share their own.
To hear more, Lynn Colliar will be moderating two free fertility talks, "Trying to Conceive," in support of Canadian Infertility Awareness Week (May 24 to May 31):
Trying to Conceive, Surrey
Monday May 26th, 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm
Surrey City Centre Library
Trying to Conceive, Vancouver
Wednesday May 28th, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm
UBC Robson Square, 800 Robson Street, Vancouver
To register, please call 604.678.8600.