Yearly Archives

2014

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Dear Santa

December 25, 2014

I am so excited to announce that I am officially a blogger with Fertility Authority! As you probably know by now, I am super passionate about doing with I can to minimize the stigma that surrounds infertility and supporting my sisters who are in the struggle with me.

Fertility Authority is a great resource for infertility information and support. Check out my first entry here! It’s a letter to Santa Claus himself.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Chasing Rainbows

December 3, 2014

It’s hard to believe that another year has almost come and gone. Last year at this time, I was just getting over my second miscarriage and I was filled with so much hope that 2014 would definitely be OUR year. If we didn’t get pregnant on our own we would move to the next step, IVF.  We thought that would most certainly do the trick considering our doctors felt we didn’t even need to do IVF. Welllll 3 painful and expensive IVF rounds later…still nothing. We’ve pretty much exhausted our options on my end. I still take my daily concoction of supplements in hopes that one day my eggs will actually cooperate with me, but other than that…I’m donezo “trying” to get pregnant.

While it has taken time to grieve the idea that I may never grow a child inside of me, I am beyond excited to be an adoptive mama! I feel like this is my calling. So now we just have to find our baby. We would like to find the birthmother on our own, but if that doesn’t happen we’ll sign up with an adoption agency in the new year. (I make sure to emphasize this because for some reason I get a lot of backlash from people who think adoption is our second choice.) Not the case AT ALL. We are open to ANY and EVERY option in becoming parent.

In the meantime, we are making one last effort on the conception end…this time on Gabe’s end. A few years back when we first began trying for kids, (before we knew there was an issue) I had Gabe get a semen analysis test. You know me, crazy and obsessive in most areas of my life, and I just wanted to make sure we were all good in that department. And we were. Gabe’s swimmers tested highly in all areas. Great job guys! With that checked off the list of potential issues, our doctors maintained that I was the problem. It’s my eggs that are misbehaving. My body needs to get “fixed.”

Fast forward to the day we discovered our 3rd round of IVF was a failure. (Ugh, such a horrible day.) Our RE casually threw out something about getting tested for sperm fragmentation. It was actually mentioned as more of an afterthought. Whaaaat? We’d never heard of this fragmentation before? What it is and why hasn’t anyone brought it up before?

Realizing we needed to dig deeper, our wonderful producers at The Doctors got us an appointment at  The Turek Clinic.  Dr. Paul Turek is one of the top urologists in the world specializing in male infertility. We wanted to find out if perhaps Gabe’s sperm was a factor in our infertility despite the fact that he had normal semen analysis results. After a very thorough consultation, Dr. Turek said he was actually impressed that we’re not pregnant. Meaning that ours is a very rare case of infertility. This is an excerpt about us from his website:

“Normal Fertility? When applied to fertility, the word normal is even more vague. Alexis and Gabriel are a couple that came to see me recently for fertility issues. Alexis is young, vibrant and in her early thirties. Gabriel is healthy as an ox and has had “normal” semen analyses for at least 3 straight years, well before they even started trying to conceive. As normal as any couple can be. Despite this, they are not parents yet. In fact, Alexis miscarried twice while trying to conceive at home and since then the couple failed three successive attempts at in vitro fertilization (IVF).” -Dr. Paul Turek, The Turek Clinic

 

So what did we learn from our consultation? Dr. Turek had 3 findings:

#1) Ok, back to the fragmentation. Basically fragmentation is damage to the DNA in sperm. If there is fragmentation, that could be the cause of why we’ve had 2 unexplained miscarriages and difficulty getting pregnant even with IVF. Less than 15% damage usually means you’re ok, 16 to 29% can mean a less rosy outlook, though still pretty good. If more than 30% of the sperm show fragmentation, we’re in trouble. Gabe’s fragmentation level is at 21%. Dr. Turek said Gabe falls in a grey zone. It’s not awful, but it’s not awesome.

#2) Dr. Turek also diagnosed Gabe with a minor case of Varicocele. Varicocele is an elongated vein (down there) that forms in 15% of adolescent boys that are skinny and active…totally my little Gabe. (Dr. Turek does a much better job of explaining Varicocele…obviously.) Connecting the dots, sperm DNA fragmentation rates can be higher in men with varicoceles and fixing the varicocele can lower these rates. “Fixing” the varicocele involves surgery. Yikes, poor guy. I told Gabe that the decision to get the surgery was totally up to him. I could understand if he didn’t want to, I mean who would? But thankfully Gabe decided that surgery is a really viable option to help us create our family. So Gabe’s going under the knife this Friday. Prayers would be much appreciated. 

#3) Finally, Gabe could make a few changes in his lifestyle that could help our fertility chances. It’s kind of ironic because Gabe is one of the healthiest men I know and it’s still not enough.  Essentially he’s supposed to do all the things I’ve been doing for the past 6 months to improve my egg quality. Limited caffeine and alcohol, more antioxidants, Paleo diet, supplements and no hot tubbing (do people still do that?) Oh also, did you know that men should take a prenatal pill as well? Yep! It’s all right here in Dr. Turek’s Essential Beginnings, XY.

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Soooo, we forge ahead. Dr. Turek will perform the Varicocele surgery on Gabe this Friday. Is it the answer to our problems? We don’t know. It may totally fix the sperm fragmentation and we could be pregnant in no time. It also might not have any effect at all. We just don’t know and we won’t know if it made a difference for 3 to 4 months after the surgery. We’re hoping that Gabe’s surgery, combined with the lifestyle changes, combined with my efforts to improve egg quality might just be enough to get us a viable pregnancy.

We are so thankful to be working with Dr. Turek. Not only is he the best in his field, but he is also a huge advocate for male infertility awareness. When a couple has trouble conceiving, the woman usually undergoes a laundry list of tests to pinpoint the problem. The men typically only get a standard semen analysis test, though, which doesn’t really tell the whole story. Why is that? It doesn’t make sense. I wish that we had known all this 2 years ago. Maybe it would have saved us time and money and heartbreak? We had no idea that male infertility could be a concern for us (based on what all of our doctors had told us) and I’m assuming there are lots of couples out there in our same position. If that is you, I hope this helps.

Our time will come soon. Really the only thing I am certain of in this whole mess is that my desire to become a mother is stronger than anything infertility can throw my way. My faith is not broken. I won’t give up. I will always chase rainbows.

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Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Weathering the Storm

November 7, 2014

My heart is heavy. As the seasons change and Fall is upon us (even though it feels more like summer here in LA) I’m reminded how quickly time passes. Wasn’t it just yesterday that my husband and I said our “I Do’s” and crossed over the threshold into marital bliss? So much and so little has happened in 2.5 years. We’ve gotten pregnant twice and lost two babies. We’ve moved once from San Diego to Long Beach and now another move is imminent. We’ve done 3 rounds of IVF, all unsuccessful. I’ve left one job and started 2 others, only to find myself not working again so we can “try harder” to have a baby. I’ve been to numerous baby showers and even thrown a few. I’ve watched my friend’s kids grow and “liked” all the Facebook posts announcing another one is on the way. It’s been 2.5 years that we’ve been weathering this storm and still no baby.

For the past few years I’ve felt this enormous longing…like the feeling you get when you’re in a long distance relationship but a million times worse. Like I’m counting down the minutes till I get to see my baby. I actually miss the babies I do not know. I love someone I’ve never met. If you are a parent imagine this…the child/children that you love so much, that fill up your heart with joy…imagine they are not here. They have never been born. You have never seen their sweet faces or heard them giggle. You can’t squeeze on them or kiss them goodnight. Their hot little cheeks against your shoulder do not exist. You are filled with the feeling of them, but that’s all you have. That is how I feel. September would have been the 1st birthday of the first child we lost. If our second baby had lived, he/she’d be almost 6 months old now.

My desire to be a mother has taken over my life, it’s changed me. I would give anything to be like the majority of you and simply get pregnant after a few months of trying. (Or even be like the rest of you who got pregnant with the help of fertility treatments.) We could have saved thousands of dollars, hundred of tears and 2 and a half years of waiting. But this isn’t a pity party. Everyone struggles with something in life and this is my struggle. I won’t give up. It’s not an option. All we can do is press forward.

Here’s where we’re at:

1) Fragmentation: We are following up on the theory that fragmentation in Gabe’s sperm could be causing a DNA “mishap” thus stopping our fertilized embryos from growing.  We’re waiting on the results of this test, plus we have an appointment to see a urologist. If this is the issue (which our RE thinks it’s definitely not) that could be good news! Most fragmentation issues can be fixed with lifestyle changes or surgery. If that’s the case there’s hope that I can get pregnant someday.

2) Adoption: I’m not gonna lie, after our recent experience with adoption we’re feeling cautious. Once bitten, twice shy. I know there are many people who have WONDERFUL experiences with adoption and say nothing but positive things. We are still pretty hurt after what happened with that sweet baby in Phoenix. I understand that’s just part of it…but it doesn’t make it hurt any less. Our home study is complete (which is half the battle) and we are still planning to adopt, although we haven’t signed up with an agency yet. I don’t know what we’re waiting for exactly. Perhaps I’m waiting for a baby to be placed on our doorstep? Actually every morning when I wake up, I eagerly check my email in hopes that I’ve received a message from a stranger who has heard our story and would like to give us their baby. Is that crazy? Maybe. For some reason I really feel like this is how we’re going to find our baby. So please please think of us if you or someone you know is giving a baby up for adoption.

3) Donor Embryo: Using a donor embryo is a strong consideration for us. A donor embryo actually makes the most sense for a lot of reasons. It is by far the cheapest solution, waaaay less expensive than IVF or adoption. Unlike regular adoption, it would enable us to have control during the pregnancy ie no drugs or drinking. (That was a big problem for us with the last adoption experience…our fear that the baby would have serious health concerns because of the mother’s substance abuse issues.) Also, I get to be pregnant! Yaaay! Maybe it’s the part most women dread about having a baby, but after all this I can tell you I am BEYOND ready for a preggo belly. Sooo this solution seems like it’s our best bet, right? Well, not exactly. My main issue with using a donor embryo right now is that if there’s even a small chance we can get pregnant on our own, then we’re taking up that prime real estate for a year-ish. Maybe seems silly, but I’m just not ready to go there at the moment.

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Hoping to give my sweet nephew a cousin soon.

Let me just say, Gabe and I are prepared to start our family in whichever way God sees fit. All of our options seem viable and with any luck we will FINALLY be parents in 2015. (Eeee! I get goosebumps with the thought!) No matter what happens, though, we will never give up trying to have a biological baby. I would love to experience pregnancy and labor, pass on my DNA and see my husband’s greenish blue eyes on our child. This does NOT mean we love our adopted children any less. Not at all. It just means we will go on trying to create our family in EVERY possible way we can. (Oh and believe me I’ve thought of every way. Kidnapping crosses my mind on a daily basis. Haha, just kidding. But seriously.) Please know that every single decision we’ve made along the way has been painstaking and difficult. We’re just trying to do the right thing for our future baby and our bodies.

Last week an old friend sent this quote to me and I love it. It’s a beautiful thought. 

“Eventually your good luck will seem as incredible and mysterious as your bad. And you’ll ask, did I do something to deserve this? Only this time the question will arise from a sense of overwhelming gratitude, not overwhelming pain. And by the way, the answer is yes. You did do something to deserve this. You had the courage to keep traveling down the precarious road of life. You deserve to be guided. And rewarded.”

My baby is waiting for me. We just have to stay the course.

 

 

 

 

 

Blogs, What We Love

We LOVE Mobile Acu

November 5, 2014

Your RE recommends that you try acupuncture. “It’ll enhance your IVF treatments, ” he says knowingly. Sounds great, but who has time for yet another appointment? Infertility has already taken over your life. Is it even possible to squeeze in one more obligation all while “staying calm.” Don’t move a muscle. Los Angeles Mobile Acupuncture will come to you! Yes, you can actually relax in the comfort of your home while getting acupuncture treatments. WTF talked to LA Mobile Acu about de-stressing, get comfy with needles and a treatment called moxibustion.

WTF: What inspired you to start a “mobile” acupuncture business?

LAMA: I found that the need and want of the house call never left. With my desire to help and enjoyment of travel, it just seemed right. I heard quite a few stories of people almost having a car accident after acupuncture because they were spacey. If you come out to a parking ticket after an amazing treatment, it might feel like you just wasted a treatment. If you’ve ever been hurt before, you know how hard it can be to get around. I found more and more reasons why it made sense to help you at your location.

WTF: Does the decreased stress (from rushing to get to the appointment, driving etc) actually enhance the treatments? 

LAMA: When was the last time driving in traffic made you feel really good? Your body functions and heals the best when you are relaxed and feel safe. Being an aggressive or defensive driver is not relaxing or healing. If you worry about being on time, finding parking or how much time and effort everything takes, you aren’t healing like you should. You are in stress mode and stress mode is about fighting and escaping danger. Los Angeles Mobile Acupuncture destresses your day and maximizes your you time.

WTF: How can acupuncture help in the fertility department?

LAMA: Acupuncture has been administered for reproductive problems since about 1500 BCE.  For the Women, acupuncture and herbal medicine can increase sexual desire and regulate each of the four phases of ovulation. A consistent cycle improves your chances of pregnancy. Treatment also helps with threatened miscarriage, timely labor, and malposition before birthing. For the Man, treatment can increase sexual desire, improve function, and maximize sperm quality and motility.

WTF: What do you say to first timers who are scared of the “big needles?”

LAMA: I don’t like big needles either; they hurt. That’s why I do acupuncture. These are small enough to put at least 10 in one big needle. You have nothing to worry about. Many people barely feel a thing and those that do, report pressure not pain. I like to practice feel good medicine.

WTF: How often do clients trying to conceive need treatments for it to be effective?

LAMA: Cultivating your fertility health and womb wellness could take 3-6 months. It takes time to properly regulate your ovulation cycle, increase follicular output, and improve uterine lining. Maximum benefits of acupuncture can last 72 hours. For best results, I recommend acupuncture fertility treatments two times a week and within a day of IVF transfer.

Herbal medicine is prescribed 2-3 times a day and comes in capsules, pills, powder (for tea), or raw herb packets (for tea). Formulas can change every week.

WTF: What is moxibusiton and how does it help with fertility?

LAMA: You may have used a heat pad during period cramps. Moxibustion is like an herbal heat pad and keeps the “guest palace” warm and inviting. The main herb of moxa is mugwort, which is used for coldness, difficult menstruation, or bleeding with threatened miscarriage. It boosts core temperature, reduces cramps, improves circulation, and nourishes the uterus.

WTF: Is there anything clients can do on their own to make acu treatments more effective?

LAMA: Make sure you breathe and try to keep it fun. The uterus is called the “guest palace” in Chinese medicine. You should cultivate a warm, overly pampered womb of peace, nourishment, and love; somewhere that would feel safe. Eat a little bit at least 2 hours before treatment. Keep your belly, low back and knees covered to improve regular core temperature. I recommend sticking to a schedule that allows for proper rest of 8-9 hours. You should be eating healthy and balanced meals at the same time every day. I recommend meditation to help deal with stress, set your intention, and relax. And don’t forget to Love.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Giving it to God

October 11, 2014

There’s been a change of plans! This is pretty much ALWAYS the case with infertility. Planning is a joke.

Originally we “planned” to do the PGD testing on our Day 5 embryos. If any of them tested normal, we would implant on Day 6. That changed when we got a pretty tough call this morning from our Doctor’s office saying that all 8 of our embies were immature. None of them had reached blastocyst stage which is expected by Day 5. We spoke to the embryologist who said that just in the past few hours 2 of our embies had started to change from Morula (expected on Day 4) to compact, basically starting to change into blastocysts. That is of course promising, but we’ve had this problem before. The embryos don’t mature to blastocysts. In fact last round, they had all arrested (died) by Day 5. My Doctor said that about 30% of the time embryos don’t actually mature until Day 6, so there is still a chance, albeit small, for my little babies.

Soooo this is how we proceed. Wait until tomorrow morning (Day 6) and see if any of the embryos have turned into blastocysts. (Please please please please let that happen! If it does not, then that’s it for us.) BUT if they do, then we’re faced with 2 choices:

1)  Go ahead with the PGD testing to see if there are any normal embryos. If there are, freeze them and transfer next month. This choice gives us peace of mind knowing that when we eventually transfer the embryos, they will be chromosomally normal. The downside is that it also puts any embryos that are actually viable at risk because of all the extra handling.

OR

2) Don’t worry about the PGD testing and transfer the best looking 2 or 3 embryos tomorrow. If any of them are viable, they’ll have a better chance of surviving without undergoing the PGD test and freeze. But the downside to this choice is that I could be implanting a chromosomally abnormal embryo only to later miscarry or never even become pregnant at all.

We’ve decided to call a Hail Mary on this one and transfer the embryos tomorrow. Option #2. It’s a long shot, but it makes the most sense to us. So first up, we gotta get some gorgeous blastocysts tomorrow morning. But of course…it’s all up to God.

We’re having faith that one or more of the embryos will be viable without testing to ensure that.

We’re trusting that these little babies will thrive and grow inside me.

We’re hoping that this is finally our time.

We’re praying for a MIRACLE.

 

 

 

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