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Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Our Double Rainbow

July 19, 2017

•By Kristie Rossi, Guest Blogger

“You’re going to be a big brother!!” I remember saying these words to my 15 month old son, Brady, shortly after getting my positive pregnancy test. I just knew this was the baby brother we had prayed for. I immediately called my mom and sisters and made a “Big Brother” shirt for Brady for our “formal announcement” to the world.

The “Big Brother” shirt. A shirt that would tell our friends and family the great news. A shirt that would sit in my drawer for 4 years as I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it. A shirt that brought back the memories of excitement, followed immediately by grief. And tears.

Almost immediately I began bleeding, and I just knew. A quick trip to the ER to see an empty uterus confirmed this. Then the news this was ectopic. I began the process of an injection and letting my body heal, but a few weeks later, my ectopic pregnancy ruptured. This rupture and emergency surgery changed our plans for giving Brady a brother or sister. For growing our family quickly: 3 boys under 5 years.

Several years before Brady was born, I was diagnosed with Stage IV endometriosis. I also had an ovary that didn’t want to stay where it should. It decided to hide and required a lot of work to get back in it’s right place. At that time, my Doctor had told me that I’d be lucky to get pregnant on my own, but would most likely need to do IVF, as there was too much scar tissue. My ectopic rupture surgery also confirmed this, and that Doctor informed me that my 1 remaining tube was twisted. My 1 remaining tube that was attached to my ovary that refused to stay where it should. However, I decided to try Clomid because what did those doctors know? I was told I wouldn’t get pregnant on my own. And I did. Twice!

6 month, 3 cycles of Clomid. Failed. On to IVF. I had officially been diagnosed with Secondary Infertility. Huh? I had never heard these words. After googling, I found an amazing Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) in Phoenix, Dr. J, and began our adventure into IVF. Injections. Injections. Injections. Two straight weeks of nightly shots, then an additional 2 weeks of PIO shots (ouch!!!) and we were ready for our egg retrieval.

Dr J. was able to retrieve several eggs and 3 days later we decided to transfer 3 embryos. Three?!? We knew they wouldn’t all take (Triplets? No thank you!) but we knew that 1 would grow into a beautiful baby. After the longest two weeks, I went in for my pregnancy test and then Dr. J. called and told me the test was negative. Negative? As in not pregnant? As in not one, out of three embryos, stuck? How? A negative test hadn’t crossed my mind. How could it not work? Wasn’t IVF almost a guarantee to get pregnant? We scheduled our WTF appointment and immediately decided we would try again.

We waited three months and began another round of injections. This round I developed a horrible case of Ovarian HyperStimulation Syndrome. so we decided to freeze our embryos and would transfer them the next month. Walking around looking 3 months pregnant, when I was far from it provided for interesting conversations and trying to cover up what I was going through. The next month, we transferred 2 frozen embryos and again waited. Negative. WTF!?! I got pregnant so easily before hand. How was this not working??

I should also point out, around this time, my mom was losing her battle with Melanoma. I wasn’t sure anymore if I was trying to have a baby for her, or us. I wanted so badly for her to have another grandbaby before she left this Earth.

We chose to switch doctors and our initial consultation with Dr. Z, was scheduled for 2 days after my mom passed. We looked at the calendar and made a tentative plan to do our egg retrieval for January 18. My mom’s birthday was January 17, so I felt this was a sign from her that she was ok. That we were all going to be ok. January quickly came and again we transferred 2 “great looking” embryos.

A few days before my scheduled pregnancy test, I saw a double rainbow on my drive home. Then a neighbor, who didn’t know we had been doing IVF, told me that God had talked to her daughter (8), at church and told her she would need to “help Kristie with her 2 baby girls.” Wow. I knew this was it. I knew both embryos had stuck and we’d be blessed with twin girls. My mom had always joked that Brady would be her only “baby boy” and my other kids would be girls. She knew that my husband and I wanted 3 boys, so I ignored her jokes. Pregnancy test day was here!!! I waited all afternoon to get that confirmation call that “my girls” had stuck! And…Negative. Again. I was now 0-3 on IVF. And the signs? How had all these signs turned into nothing?

I still had 2 frozen embryos, 1 grade A and 1 grade B, at my old RE’s office. Dr Z. said “If you have them, let’s transfer them.” Driving these tiny embryos in this huge chamber was the most nerve wrecking 15 mile drive of my life. By this time, I was already feeling hopeless. I was deflated. I had spent the past 16 months of my life, doing injections, praying and crying. And crying. And crying. So much crying. I tried to remain positive for this last frozen transfer, but it was hard. My heart was broken. I “met” a group of women through The Bump messaging boards that were going through the same thing as me. These women kept me sane over the years during these cycles and cried with me, but were also the biggest supporters.

May 6, 2013
:phone rings:
me: “Hi Dr. Z”
Dr Z: “Hi Kristie. I really wish I had good news for you.”
Me: trying to hold my tears in. “Ok. Should we schedule our follow up appointment?”
Dr Z: “If you want to we can. I think we have run out of options for you. I think you and your husband should explore other options. Your eggs are bad and the odds of you carrying your own pregnancy are slim.”

That was it. Our journey was over. We were one and done. I practiced saying it in the mirror to try and sound convincing when a stranger asked me when we would have baby #2. To try and not let the tears well up whenever this questioned was asked. And let’s face it. It gets asked A LOT.

Secondary Infertility: Two words that prior to January 2012, I had never heard of. Two words that stole so much from me. Two words that pulled me into a such a depression, that I pulled away from my son. Two years. Two years were robbed from my relationship with my son and husband. Two years that I’ll never get back. I only hope Brady doesn’t remember.

And what about those “2 sisters” that God told my neighbor’s daughter she would need to help me out with?

July 22, 2013: While the rest of the world was celebrating the birth of the Royal baby, I was sitting at home in disbelief staring at this. How could this happen? Just 2 ½ short months after I was told to explore other options: Adoption. Surrogacy. 2 ½ short months after my husband and I decided to not talk about anything related to expanding our family until Labor Day. We were exhausted and needed a break. But then this happened.

February 28, 2014: Kallie Angelina was born. Angelina in memory of my mom. My rainbow baby. My miracle.

May 7, 2015: Two years and 1 day after I was told to explore other options. Two years and 1 day after I was told I would never carry my own baby again. Another positive pregnancy test.

December 10, 2015: My birthday present was born. Kelsie Marie.

I am still in disbelief that they are mine. That I went through 16 months of heartache and now have these beautiful blessings. We planned for a family of 5. We wanted 3 boys. I still don’t fully understand why my husband and I had to go through what we did. I do question a lot about my infertility journey. However, for me, my questions all had the same answer – someone, whether it was God, my mom, a little bit of both, had already written out my path to fertility. I will never forget my journey or take my 3 blessings for granted. My heart has ached. My heart has mourned. But with that, my heart is full.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Stay Strong

July 18, 2017

Written by Jennifer Segovia, Guest Blogger

In 2008 we got married and soon after, the kid questions started. At the time I wasn’t ready to be a mom or even attempt at taking on that kind of responsibility. The truth was, I wasn’t sure I wanted kids and I was totally selfish. We liked to come and go as we please, travel, keep a clean house, SLEEP, etc. When people would ask, we simply respond with “someday, we have fur babies for now”.

Well, fast forward to 2011, we finally felt like we were ready to start “trying.” We tried for over a year, then a year later went back and I was put on five rounds of Clomid..…NOTHING! I was depressed, angry, bewildered, and ready to give up! Up until this point we had a good and fun marriage, but now things were starting to get tough. We started to drift apart, barely even talked and would only really have sex when I thought I was ovulating. Neither of us wanted to admit that there was something wrong. Neither of us wanted to be “at fault” for something that should be so natural.

You know when they have the “birds and the bees” talk, no one ever had mentioned INFERTILITY (to me or my husband). So not only did I not know or understand, I never thought that could be us. After many tests for both of us, there was nothing wrong. I started to wonder though, what was wrong with me? What did I do wrong? Why?  I was in a category affectionately called UNEXPLAINED INFERTILITY. Not only did we not know or understand what that meant, I had no way to fix it. This news also took a toll on our marriage, although physically there was nothing wrong, I felt less of a woman and my husband was just not supportive in the way I needed or wanted him to be.

Things got worse before they got better. My husband and I were sleeping in separate bedrooms and now sex was non-existent. It was about this time, when we actually started talking about the “D word”; divorce. It was so hard and I remember thinking to myself, what is the point of staying married when I can’t even have a family. I remember that I felt like it was entirely my fault. I absolutely hated wedding showers, weddings, baby showers, birth announcements, pregnancy announcements, birthdays, holidays and the list goes on. Pretty much if it was a celebration about moving forward in life (as the world does), I avoided it, I shut down, and I hid in my work! Work became the excuse of why I couldn’t or wouldn’t do anything. If I did go out it was seldom and far and few in between.

We continued to “try” off and on for the next year, but it wasn’t until one day I had finally had it. I wanted couples counseling or a divorce! That night my husband and I really sat down and finally had a conversation that we had avoided for years. We decided to go to marriage counseling. I will premise this by saying, marriage counseling only works if you are willing to go and admit there is something wrong or that needs to be fixed, and promise each other that you are going to actively work on making it better. My husband and I really wanted better for ourselves and each other and we made a promise to each other to work for our marriage with counseling. We knew that this was years of issues and wouldn’t be resolved in a session or two. We continued to make counseling and our marriage a priority.

For us, it helped us open up and communicate what we had both feared and most importantly explain that fear to one another so we had an understanding of how the other person was feeling. Turns out we loved each other and had similar fears. I think prior to counseling we knew how to communicate on a surface level but when it came to our feelings neither of us knew how to really dig deep or articulate our feelings to one another. Once we were able to begin to actually communicate we also were able to talk about growing our family again.

We decided to seek help from a fertility specialist. The first specialist didn’t work for us and we had a failed IUI and a miscarriage. Talk about stress, sadness, grief, and a million other emotions. I truly feel that because we had gone thru so many years of trying and were able to learn how to communicate better before fertility treatments it helped us to help each other and cope with our losses. My husband may not have understood exactly what I was going thru but he now knew how to support and be there for me and vice versa. One of things I learned going thru infertility is that its not just me going through the suffering, but my husband to was suffering these loses with me. We decided to take a couple of months off to let my body, our hearts and souls just relax and heal. The best part was that we decided this together and knew it was the best thing for our marriage and us.

Finally we found a fertility specialist and his team who was able to give us more answers. This time before we proceeded with round three we sat down and discussed what we wanted, our goals, how many more times and agreed how these next rounds would proceed. Of course we wanted it to work immediately but it took a few rounds. Round three ended as a failed IUI and we went straight to round four.

Round four IUI was a success and I still remember getting the call and calling my husband and yelling out, “WE ARE PREGNANT!” Neither of us thought round four even worked and suddenly we were planning and anticipating being parents. Unfortunately, this round ended in a miscarriage. I remember the day my baby passed and I just cried and cried. My husband cried and grieved along side me and although we didn’t say much, we knew how we were both feeling. It was a sad time and at the same time we had to make more decisions.

Our marriage had changed and faced many challenges: we got married and enjoyed a few great years together, we were challenged with infertility, we were challenged at the thought of divorce, we have had two failed IUI’s and two miscarriages. Although we have gone thru so many challenges our marriage has survived and we are the lucky ones to have done it and stayed together.

So when it came to round five, we decided to move on and do it immediately. To our surprise round five worked but the biggest shock was when we went for our first ultrasound. At the first ultrasound we not only confirmed the pregnancy, but we also met our TWINS! My pregnancy had its moments but after all our struggles and time that past, I cherish and miss my pregnancy! My husband and I had no idea what we were in for with twins and more challenges came once they were born.

My babies were preemies and went spent three weeks in the NICU and my husband drove us to see them everyday and helped me out since I was recovering from an emergency c-section. Once they got home, not only was I still healing, I was also caring for two babies! Caring for twins is a whole blog in and of it self, but I am sure whether you are a singleton or multiples momma-it is just purely exhausting! No one was sleeping, and well that brought up some issues but I can tell you now we are seven months into this and our marriage has struggled with new babies but in the end we have learned to talk it out and fight fair. Fighting fair means sticking to the challenge at the time and trying to come up with a viable and realistic solution that will work for us four. It has and continues to be challenging but it is all I know and for us it has been worth the time and effort to continue loving and helping each other now as new parents of TWINS.

Blogs, What We Love

The Classiest Broad Around

July 10, 2017

•By Alli Bentz of The Classy Broad, Guest Blogger

Hello, WTF Community! This is Alli from The Classy Broad, where we style interiors and events for clients located anywhere, and with any budget. As a mom of two little ones myself, I know how much we as parents battle the desire to create memorable spaces and celebrations for our families while not putting in so much effort that we lose precious, quality time with our loved ones (we’ve all fallen down the Pinterest rabbit hole and want those hours back, right!?). That’s where I come in! Photo courtesy of Amira Gray Photography.

Whether clients are looking to update a room or plan a fun, memorable party, The Classy Broad offers a range of services from e-design to a la carte styling options to take the work out of your hands while still achieving your desired outcome.
One of my favorite parts in the process begins right away when I create a design board for my clients. This not only helps with seeing the vision, it also serves as a reference for color schemes, décor pieces, etc. I always tell my clients to keep an image of their board on their phone. That way, if they’re out and see something that they may want to purchase, they can always refer to the board. Recently I helped brainstorm, source and style various elements of Grant’s First Birthday celebration. It was such a fun project and I loved seeing the ideas for this celebration come to life. Here’s the board I created for Grant’s Dance Party.

But How? The question I get all the time from friends and clients – regardless of project type – is “How do I pull it all together?”. While putting the pieces together is my favorite thing to do, it’s not everyone’s. So, I’m sharing some of the gems of wisdom I find myself imparting all the time….

Make it Your Own
When it comes to a thoughtful, meaningful celebration, personalization is key. The first thing Grant’s Mama shared with me as we brainstormed Grant’s First was that he loves to dance. That lead to designing a dance party musical theme. This was not only so cute, but it made the party personal and never lost sight of the guest of honor, i.e. the purpose for the celebration! I always get to know my clients before we start a project so that I can be sure we include personal touches.

Here, a client celebrated her twins’ first birthday with an adorable circus theme because, well, life with twins is truly a circus! Photo courtesy of Amy Anderson of Nicole Paulson Photography.

Function First
Before planning anything, I ask clients what they want to get out of their project. Do they need to cater to families with little ones? Are they planning an adults-only intimate dinner party outdoors? We then discuss function. A kid-heavy guest list means there better be something to keep those rugrats entertained. The dinner party should be set up in such a way that guests are encouraged to be outdoors so the host may need to play music and set up drinks and appetizers outside as well. Once functionality is determined, the rest falls into place.

In both the event planning and design world, there are some go-to’s or no-brainers that stand the test of time. When it comes to parties for little ones, I always recommend a bounce house or other entertainment (music, face painting, balloon animals). The cost is usually not too high and it always ends up being worth it.

Little ones love music. Hiring someone to sing is always a great option, especially for a first birthday when some of the guests may be too young for other types of activities. Photo Courtesy of Amira Gray Photography.

Finishing Touches
The devil truly is in the details. However, I also constantly remind clients to focus on quality over quantity. Sometimes having one special statement area or visual moment is enough. It can be as simple as a well-styled dessert table, a decked out bar cart or themed photobooth. Some other small details that go a long way without breaking the bank are personalized cocktail napkins, tissue paper tassels, cake toppers or something as simple as using a printed wrapping paper that matches the theme as a table runner.

A recent client and I crafted up a bright and cheery first birthday that was equal parts boho and preppy. She used a paper-flower decorated tee pee as the photo booth backdrop which made for fantastic photos. Photo Courtesy of Amira Gray Photography.

This dessert table you see behind these sweethearts was no doubt the pièce de résistance of the entire bash. It not only made a statement but it served as a fantastic backdrop as the guests of honor dove into their smash cakes. Photo Courtesy of Amy Anderson of Nicole Paulson Photography

Have Fun!
A party is only as good as its guests and a home is just a house when it’s empty. Remember that always. If you have fun and make sure the others involved are happy and enjoying themselves, the memories will make themselves!
Like what you see? Check out more at The Classy Broad or follow my daily musings on Instagram. I’d love to work together on your next project!

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

What To Do Before You Do… It

July 6, 2017

Written by Dr. Amanda McDonough, Guest Blogger

Healthy moms are without a doubt more likely to have healthy pregnancies. Prioritizing health before conception can lead to improved fertility and less pregnancy complications. Ideally women will have a formal preconception visit with their obstetrician gynecologist.
Healthy Lifestyle
The obesity epidemic has significantly affected women’s reproductive health and pregnancy outcomes. Obesity is associated with multiple chronic diseases, infertility and poor pregnancy outcomes. Obese women are at higher risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. The risk of diabetes in pregnancy, hypertension with preeclampsia, and cesarean section is also increased for obese mothers. Starting a healthy diet and exercise program prior to pregnancy can improve fertility and pregnancy outcomes. Nutrition counseling may be beneficial. Thirty minutes of moderate exercise per day is recommended. Calculating your body mass index can be done easily here


<18.5 Underweight
18.5-24.9 Normal (GOAL)
25-29.9 Overweight
>30 Obese

Substance Use
Tobacco use is associated with infertility and poor pregnancy outcomes. Smoking cessation should be a goal prior to conception. Alcohol use is associated with fetal alcohol syndrome. There is no amount of alcohol considered safe in pregnancy. Opioid dependence is a growing concern in pregnancy. Methadone or Subutex programs are available and considered safer than illicit drug use during pregnancy. Neonatal abstinence syndrome is associated with opioid use during pregnancy.

Vitamin Supplementation
All women of childbearing age should be taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid (400 micrograms). Conditions that impact the fetus’s brain and spinal cord development, known as neural tube defects, can be prevented with adequate folic acid supplementation prior to conception. The neural tube closes approximately six weeks after conception which is typically when most women discover they are pregnant. Therefore, vitamin supplementation should occur prior to conception to have the greatest impact.
Chronic Medical Conditions
Many women are seeking careers that require higher education, which is FANTASTIC, but that means childbearing is typically delayed. As women age they may develop chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Working with your primary care physician to optimize your health before conception is extremely beneficial for mom and baby!
Carrier Screening
Women can choose to have carrier screening prior to pregnancy to determine if they carry genes that can lead to multiple conditions including cystic fibrosis, Tay Sachs, fragile X syndrome and sickle cell disease. This is typically a blood test. If maternal carrier screening is positive the partner can be tested to see if there is a risk of having an affected fetus. The couple can meet with a genetics counselor to discuss their risk and options.
Prioritizing women’s health prior to pregnancy leads to healthier moms and babies!

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

The More Ya Know

June 28, 2017

•By Guest Blogger Suzie Welsh, founder of BINTO

I was working as an IVF and Fertility nurse for Penn Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, working with women who had so many questions about which products to use and what to avoid.

It occurred to me that there was literally no one company looking at women’s health as a life cycle, and then supporting it through meaningful products and knowledge. It was that realization, and my daily work with my patients, that led me to take a leap of faith and start BINTO…Bun In The Oven!

BINTO is a women’s lifestyle brand designed to change the way we look at, and take care of, the lifecycle of women’s health. The company mission is to help us (women) get the safe and effective products we need every month to support our unique health journey. BINTO removes the stress and guesswork out of finding products by creating a personalized suite just for you. The subscriptions range from period and hormonal support, to fertility, pregnancy and now menopause.

As a nurse, I learned how to talk to women and couples about fertility—something our society doesn’t always do very well. I learned how to emotionally support someone whose IVF doctor may be busy with a thousand other patients.

The process and journey can feel very isolating for these women and their partners, and they often don’t know where to find reliable resources. On the one hand, there’s medical literature, which can be difficult to parse. And on the other, a wide range of personal blogs, which can be light on authoritative information. My mission is to occupy that middle space and offer hassle-free access to healthy products, as well as facts grounded in medical science. And that’s what BINTO delivers.

Reproductive health is essential to our overall wellbeing. When is comes to the places we choose to live, the products we use, and the food we eat, it all ties into the health of our reproductive organs.

Until recent years, there was little in the way of research into environmental factors and reproductive health, more importantly, fertility. We now know, thanks to advances in research and much conversation, that the way we live and eat impacts our fertility. This is the case for both women and men.

BINTO supports women’s health journeys with safe and effective products geared toward supporting fertility and reproductive health, including organic cotton tampons, prenatal and regular multivitamins with built-in DHA, probiotics, and feminine wipes. The extensive free online knowledge center includes a streamlined library of reliable online information on topics ranging from ovulation tracking to endometriosis.

BINTO champions the awareness and importance of reproductive health by partnering with people on the journey to optimal reproductive health, conception, and beyond.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

“Just Relax” They Say

June 26, 2017

•By Kathryne Shrewsbury, Guest Blogger

Let’s keep it real, dealing with infertility issues sucks. It is stressful, time consuming and expensive. You are not in control of the outcome even if you do everything right. I know first hand what infertility looks like having gone through two rounds of IVF, one fresh embryo transfer, one frozen embryo transfer, hundreds of injections, 40,000 dollars spent and countless hours at doctors appointments.

My husband and I decided early on in this journey that we would be open and honest about our fertility issues. We didn’t shy away from the fact that we needed help to start our family with the hopes our story may help someone else who is also struggling. I have pretty thick skin and don’t let what others say get me because I believe most people are undertanding, caring and compassionate. But sometimes others also don’t quite understand what you are going through when it comes to infertility. People may make comments that come from a good place, but trying desperately to have a child it can come off as rude, naive or insensitive. In my opinion, here are the top 3 statements never to say to someone who is TTC/going through fertility treatments.

“You guys just need to relax. It will happen when the time is right”
Do not say this to anyone trying to have a child. This statement is the number one thing that makes my blood boil. There was one person in my life who said this to me over and over during the time we were trying to conceive and even after we found out we would have to go through IVF. I just wanted to reach over, shake her and scream that she had no idea what she was talking about. I think people who say this don’t know a lot about infertility. In my case my husband’s low sperm count, not stress, was causing our infertility issues.

“My sister/cousin/friend did XYZ and they got pregnant.”
I don’t care if your sister started meditating or doing yoga and got pregnant or if your friend started eating some special foods or supplements and got pregnant. Those women and their partners did not have fertility issues that required medical intervention. I understand that the person suggesting these activities/products is just trying to help, but it will not help someone who is actually suffering from infertility.

“Do you really need to be doing that?”
This was something that didn’t really bother me at the time, but looking back I find it very annoying that someone would question the medical decisions my husband, my Doctor and I made together. No one would ever choose to have fertility problems and it’s not like I woke up one day and said, “I’m going to do a round of IVF.”  There were tons of doctors appointments, lab tests, blood draws and stressful decisions to get to that point. So yes. I really need to be doing…IUI/IVF/ICSI/PGS testing etc!

Thankfully my infertility struggles have a happy ending. I have a very active 18 month old son, Renner, and another on the way both conceived through IVF. My family would not have been possible without the help of our amazing team of doctors and nurses as well as the support of our family and friends.

If you know someone struggling with infertility be honest and tell them you don’t know what they are going through physically or emotionally but that you are there if they need you. Ask questions and educate yourself. Personally I am always more than happy to answer questions people have about our journey to start our family. It makes me feel so honored when family, friends and even complete strangers open up to me about their fertility issues. Sadly it is so much more common than most people realize and if we’re keeping it real, the best way to get through infertility is if we do it together.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Wishing and Hoping and Thinking and Praying

June 22, 2017

•Written by Sarah Lanning, Guest Blogger

I’m a huge advocate for Adoption. It has been a huge part of my life as I was adopted along with my four other siblings.  I met my husband and on our first date he told me that his father was also adopted. We immediately bonded over that and I knew this was the man I was going to marry. After four years of trying to get pregnant and having three miscarriages, I lost all hope in ever having a baby but that’s where our adoption journey begins.

On a late July afternoon, right after Fourth of July, I was more depressed than I’d ever like to admit. I was almost 27 years old with everything I could ever want in my life but I always knew one thing was missing, A BABY!
As long as I could remember I’ve wanted to be a mom, and it was all I thought about!
“Am I ever going to be pregnant?”
“Will I ever be able to give my husband a baby?”
“When will it be my turn to have a baby?”
All these thoughts ran through my head as I lived my life and everyone else around me was getting pregnant and having babies. And all I could do was fake being happy for them because it was the one thing that I wanted most in my life. I hated going to baby showers and getting those dreaded text messages and phone calls “I’m pregnant.”  You always have to pretend to be happy for them because I mean what else can you say besides “Congratulations!”

Thats when I received a phone call that made my heart skip a beat. A friend that I used to work with called to tell me that one of her friends (a girl I didn’t even know nor had ever met) had a co-worker that was pregnant and wanted to place her baby up for adoption. I knew I trusted “D” with all my heart but trusting a girl I didn’t even know to make me a mother was terrifying to say the least! But I listened to everything she had to say about “L” and waited two hours for my husband to come home from work (it felt like an eternity) to tell him all about this. He was very hesitant and it took a couple days of persuading him.

I then called my parents, they had been down this road before and I needed their advice and support- 5 adoptions and 13 fosterings. I knew I could count on them to help us and guide us through this long journey of adoption.
At this point she was 26 weeks pregnant, so we only had 14 weeks to find an agency, an attorney, and to get a home study done. In addition to buy everything essential for a baby, to get our house baby proofed and a pool safety net. We also only had a little amount of time to come up with a very significant amount of money! To say it was a VERY stressful 14 weeks is an understatement!

Tweleve weeks later our home study still wasn’t complete and I got the call “they are delivering the baby tonight…2 weeks early, due to complications.” I’ve never been so nervous and scared in my life. Here we are waiting to have our home study done and our baby is being born across the country. Luckily, she was born  and our home study was also done on the SAME DAY!  That night we jumped on a plane and flew to the East Coast to go meet our baby!

We got off the plane and drove straight to the hospital in hopes of meeting her. We were rudely greeted by nurses that weren’t open to adoption and very foreign to the idea of the birth mother not taking her own baby home.
One hour of sleep in the waiting room, three hours of sleeping in our car, 30 min drive to our hotel, lunch and a 30 min nap and we were on our way back to the hospital for another try at finally meeting our daughter! We got to the hospital and didn’t know what to expect because we didn’t have any contact with the birth mom her whole pregnancy but to our surprise we were welcomed into her room with a big hug and a smile. She than handed us our daughter, a 5lb 6oz teeny tiny princess!

To our surprise they had named her, we came thinking that we would give her the name that we had come up with the last 3 months we were planning for her (we didn’t know the gender so we had a boy name too). When our social worker told us that they had named her Grace Marie my husband and I burst into tears because we had been in a disagreement over names for three months. My husband had always loved the name Madyson Grace since he was 15 and had to name a baby for a school project. I wanted Madyson Anne because Anne is a very special to me, as it was my grandmothers middle name and she has since passed away. When we heard that they named her that we knew that we wanted to incorporate Grace into her name! So after a day or so of talking about it we decided to happily name our daughter Madyson Grace Anne.
At four days old we got to take our daughter home. When most people would be so ecstatic to finally take their baby home from the hospital, my husband and I were on edge. We still weren’t sure if we were going to be able to parent this tiny, sweet babe or not. By law the birth mother can’t sign papers if she is sent home with medication, so we had to wait four LONG days until she finished her medication and could sign her parental rights away. On day eight at 11am I got the second most amazing phone call of my life “MADYSON IS YOURS FOREVER!” I immediately burst into tears and kissed her all over. We hugged and cried into each other arms and couldn’t believe our dreams were coming true. WE WERE FINALLY PARENTS!

After two weeks on the East Coast we were FINALLY cleared to go home. We couldn’t wait to go home and just enjoy being a family. We also couldn’t wait till Thanksgiving to surprise our family with our daughter! We decided to keep our adoption process a secret from our friends and family because we were scared but most of all we were terrified of getting attached and hurting both sides of our family. All we could do was have faith that this would work out and we could surprise our families with this baby! As Thanksgiving Day came we were very excited for everyone to meet our newest little member of the family!

Adoption has FOREVER changed my life in a way that I could never truly express. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for adoption and my husband and I wouldn’t be parents if it wasn’t for adoption. Adoption is very exhausting, stressful and emotional but also very rewarding! I would do it all again to have my daughter because I am FINALLY A MOM!

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Timing. Is. Everything.

June 20, 2017

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always pictured myself having a big family. Not just 3 or 4 children, I seriously want 10 kids! Even though my two “almost twins” can be a lot to handle and completely test my sanity at times (coffee helps!), I actually still want to have more babies! Ok, ok…so 10 kids is probably a bit outrageous and mainly because logistics…like who’s gonna do all that laundry and would I ever even wash my hair? Gabe and I know that while our family is perfect as it is, it doesn’t feel quite complete yet. So it’s time to start thinking about the next babe and how exactly are we gonna “get it.” The options are naturally (we’ve already agreed no more IVF), another adoption (including foster/adoption) or maybe even both!

First we’re going to try and see if we can’t prove those Doctor’s wrong (again) and get pregnant on our own! That’s why I am so excited about my Ava bracelet. It takes all the guess work out of fertility tracking and will get us on the right course to conception! All I have to do is wear this bracelet at night while I sleep and then sync it to my phone in the morning. No charting temperatures or using those ovulation predictor kits…which by the way I did religiously for about 4 years when we were trying to conceive! Ava makes fertility tracking easy and effortless by charting 9 different body signals and detecting my 5 most fertile days of the month.  I’ve learned that timing is everything and I seriously love my Ava bracelet. Gabe and I are excited and hopeful that we will be able to conceive naturally if that’s God’s plan for us!

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m nervous about this next step. For starters, I’m not even sure that I will be able to get pregnant again and it brings back all those awful infertility feelings. For 4 years we tried everything to start our family and all the loss and disappointment we endured comes flooding back to me. Even though we are technically considered fertile now the scars of infertility are something I will always carry with me.

I also struggle with feelings of guilt about even wanting more kids. I mean, look at me now…I have two beautiful, healthy children! I’m a mom! I have everything I’ve always wanted. And now I want more??? How greedy am I? My heart breaks for the couples who are still waiting on their babes and it just feels wrong to want more kids until they get theirs. Like somehow I’m taking up more than my fair share of the universe’s baby dust.

Although the anxiety and fears I have about starting this process again weigh on my mind, there’s absolutely nothing that’ll stop me from adding to this family. And if I’ve learned anything from the journey to my babies it’s that if you REALLY want to be parent you absolutely will. Do not give up, keep pushing forward, be open to all options and stay the course. I’m guess I better take my own advice …so herrrrrreeeee we go!

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Babe In My Arms, Blogs

What About Dad?

June 18, 2017

•Written by Elizabeth Johnson, Guest Blogger


My husband is a solid, secure and wonderful guy. And when I say solid, I mean solid – 6’3, 250 and bench presses almost 400 lbs (yes, that is a real stat). He is funny, sensitive, a serious planner and the most intuitive person I know. We met at a wedding – very cliché, him a groomsman, me a bridesmaid – and started dating soon after. We loved (and still love) planning trips, entertaining our friends and family and going to the beach. The only thing we didn’t plan for was infertility…

Pat and I were married in August 2012 in Northern California, and while we were excited to start a family, to me there was no rush. I said “let’s be married first” with the idea that being a parent is forever, being a newlywed is temporary. But, after a little convincing from him, we decided to “pull the goalie” the following January. After a couple little bumps, we found out we were pregnant at beginning of August 2013, a few weeks short of our first anniversary! We were surprised and excited to say the least. Unfortunately, it only lasted 7 weeks. I was at work one day and I started to bleed, so I rushed to the emergency room. Pat met me at the ER and I will never forget the look on his face and tears in his eyes before we even saw the doctor. After that horrible ER experience (another story for another time), we went home and mourned. But, we also tried to find the silver lining – we got pregnant really fast, I could get pregnant in general and my OBGYN was super optimistic. So we, how you say, got back in the saddle and…
Nothing. For 2 years. Nothing.
We started how everyone does, having sex every other day during the fertile time, taking temps, using ovulation sticks, the works. We would get excited and hopeful, and then…the two week cycle of optimism and then defeat would come and go. Pat has since commented to me that his least favorite words in the English language became “I’m spotting.” And each time I was disappointed he was there to comfort me and say “next time” or “let’s do this differently” always with a solution and not getting bogged down. We did the rounds of clomid and each time while my hormones were up and down, Pat was there to be supportive and calm – yet a little part of him was dying inside. It was getting harder for him to hide his frustration and sadness and when the last round of clomid prescribed by our Doctor failed, he broke down. Tears and beers in the backyard, this wasn’t happening for us how we thought it would. We were at an impasse – take a break or take it one step further and get help. I wasn’t getting any younger so we decided to get help and researched clinics. After choosing the clinic and having our first round of tests (beyond blood tests) in January 2015, we were resolved that this was going to happen – the clinic will figure out the problem, tell us how to fix it and we’ll be good!
We met with the doctor and the diagnosis didn’t go as planned – unexplained infertility. What? Oh there’s nothing wrong with you, we ran every (massively invasive) test but can’t find anything, your infertility is unexplained. We can’t fix it, because we can’t find the problem. WTF?! (literally people, WTF).

But our doc was positive, all the signs pointed towards yes – high egg count, sperm is shaped right and motile, we were a layup, easy peasy, IUI would do it. The light and excitement came back into Pat’s eyes – hey, we’ll get there, we just needed a little assistance. IUI time – let’s do this! IUI, billed as a simple, painless (turkey baster) procedure. Not so much. Turns out, my cervix was a trickster and the doctor kept missing. As I went through the pain of the catheter being reinserted multiple times, Pat went through the pain of watching me and being helpless. I squeezed his hand hard, but he squeezed right back. I got through it, we took a deep breath and he bought me a milkshake (which became a fertility treatment tradition).
Nothing happened, BFN. Another visit to the clinic, rude receptionists, more tests, another IUI, demanding billing department, another milkshake and no pregnancy. We had one more chance at IUI, so decided to try it and if it didn’t work, IVF it was. Ok, game plan! Pat was pumped, he loves game plans. We went in for the last IUI and low and behold, BFP!!! Finally! We had just bought and started remodeling our house, we had resolved to taking the next step if we needed to so we just kind of let it go and there it was! A positive pregnancy test! We were excited and cautiously optimistic. Monday I was pregnant and according to the blood tests the levels looked great, Wednesday, number went up, trending in the right direction, then Sunday, while sitting at brunch with my family, I got the call. Numbers had dropped and I was going to miscarry or it was probably a chemical pregnancy. We left before the coffee came.
When you hit a wall with something, you hit a wall. Pat was done. Done with the clinic, done with the rude receptionists, done with the financial advisors who had no bedside manner when it came to explaining what it would cost, just done.
We were at another impasse – try another clinic or quit. Pat’s gut told him we should switch clinics, I wasn’t so sure. We sat down with our doctor, who he was also starting to lose faith in, but I still loved and trusted, to discuss IVF. Pat brashly decided to ask her about the other local clinics that we were looking into, and she gave the very diplomatic answer that all of the clinics were fine, just went about things differently. When he asked more pointedly about a clinic we were looking into more closely, she seemed uncomfortable and just said “oh they are great people.” Awkward. We went home, and talked a few things out and then tabled the discussion for a few days. When you are battling infertility, tabling something for even a few days feels like a lifetime. I knew what I wanted to do – stick with our doctor and start IVF – but Pat needed to come to the decision on his own. A few more days went by, clock was ticking, and he said he was ready to take the next step and start IVF. Hurray! We would stay at the clinic, begrudgingly, but with a doctor who all but guaranteed us we would have a baby.
At my first appointment to start the IVF process, my doctor came out to the waiting room and asked me to come back to her office, instead of the receptionist leading me back. All I thought was “this can’t be good.” Well, I was wrong, first good news we had in awhile – she was switching clinics, to the clinic we were considering and wanted to let me know personally, so that no more time could be wasted. I didn’t even go to the rest of the appointment, I called Pat immediately. It was a no brainer, leave the rude, expensive clinic and follow her. Finally a sign! At our first consultation appointment at the new clinic, it was a complete 180 – warm friendly receptionist, a financial advisor who understood the burden of the cost and nurses who brought us snacks into our meeting (snacks!) – and we knew we were in the right place. Pat’s intuition once again was right.
Once we charted a course for meds, and shots and egg retrieval we felt, in a way, like ourselves again. There was a plan with set steps to the desired outcome. We made it as fun as we could, played the song “Shots, shots, shots” every time he would have to stick me with the needle in my stomach (yes, I made him do it), and then do a little celebration after, we were on our way. The first ultrasound showed that all of the follicles looked great! I went in for the egg retrieval on October 23, 2015. I was nervous, but ready. I guess I was so excited as I was going under, I was talking about what kind of Halloween themed dishes and drinks I was going to serve at our annual party (Halloween is my favorite holiday), cracking up the nurses. Pat was there for me when I woke up – funny story, as folks know the dad has to make his “deposit” during the retrieval so that the eggs can be fertilized in a timely manner. Well when he went to the designated room, it was occupied, and for a LONG TIME. He panicked and found a nurse and let her know my procedure should be done momentarily, what should he do?! She led him to a regular bathroom and told him to lock the door. Yikes. And like I said, he was there for me when I woke up, sample safely with the doctor, guy can perform (winky face emoji?). All of this related to me as I was coming off the anesthesia, I chuckled and thought the hard part was over!
The doctor came in and let us know they didn’t get as many eggs as they thought they would, but they got 8 which was still really promising. We felt good about it, they would let us know in 3 days how many fertilized, and then in 5 days which eggs became blastocysts and ready to implant. When we came in on day 5, it was a good news/bad news situation – good news, my uterine lining looked great, we should transfer right away instead of freezing the embryos, bad news, only 3 made it to 5 day blastocyst stage – 2 that looked perfect, had super high “grades” and 1 that was about a B+. She recommended transferring 2, hedge our bets, place all (well almost) our eggs in one basket (overused fertility pun?) so we did it! Watching the transfer I cried, we were so happy, this is the moment where our baby(ies) were starting their journey. We went home on cloud nine, celebrated at our Halloween party (me sneaking mocktails and non alcoholic wine without people catching on) and started talking about babies.
I went in for my blood test 10 days later, but didn’t feel the same high. For some reason, I knew. When we got the call later that day, instead of breaking down, I had to stay strong for Pat. It is pretty hard to get some of the worst news of your life and not be able to melt into a puddle. But, we pick our partners based on what we need and in that moment he needed me to be the solid one, so I was. And for awhile, that was my role. I stayed positive and Pat broke down. As I got more injections, I stayed optimistic and he went blank and numb. After the wrong hormone dosage by a nurse that delayed us another month, sending him into a little spiral, we came to our final chance – my uterus was ready for our final transfer.
Going in to the transfer this time was a bit different. It was our last gamble, back to square one if this didn’t take. We transferred the final embryo, our little B+ fighter, and took a deep breath. At this point, it was no expectations. We had even booked a trip to Belize and Mexico (hello Zika) because we would need a getaway if and when we got the bad news. Our embryo transfer was February 4th, blood test scheduled for February 15th. The weekend of February 12th and 13th I was traveling to San Francisco for work and Sacramento for a friend’s baby shower. I still drank the mocktails and blamed not being able to drink with friends on “hormones” but this time I meant it, I felt different. I told Pat, and now him being the skeptic, he just told me to wait to get the blood test. When I got home Sunday night, I bought a test. Monday morning, I took it and there it was BFP. POSITIVE.



This felt different. I went in to get the blood test and when my doctor called, she said “Could you hear me screaming in excitement all the way from the office?” Numbers were great, 2 days later they more than doubled, 2 days after that, they were off the charts. And we knew it wasn’t twins, one embryo and all, so this was happening!
When we saw the heartbeat at 8 weeks, we both had a milkshake to celebrate (and maybe an In N Out burger too). Telling our families at 11 weeks, on my 35th birthday, was amazing, and our due date was exactly one year after the retrieval – October 23, 2016.

Theodore Hogan Johnson arrived at 7:10pm on October 30, 2016 (yeah he got pretty comfortable in there) and after a stint in the NICU (another story for another time), we have a bubbling, babbling baby boy who is hilarious and because of his mom’s love of Halloween will be stuck with costume parties for his birthday.

They say a mom can forget the pain of childbirth after a while, so that they can have more kids. But what about dad? I have forgotten the pain – of childbirth, of failed tries, of IVF. True, it was a struggle and I know that, but I would do it again. Pat has not forgotten. The pain has stayed with him, and is something we take into consideration when discuss adding to our family. Could he go through it again? I hope that we won’t have to and things will happen naturally, but we will cross that bridge if/when we come to it. Every day I am thankful for my husband and my teammate in this process and parenting our son together has been a dream, messy but I wouldn’t change it for the world. People always talk about the toll infertility takes on moms, and it does, but let’s not forget about dad.
To all the guys out there – struggling, expecting, a new parents or a seasoned professional – you are important in this process, thank you for what you do and Happy Father’s Day.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

A Hole In One. Finally.

June 14, 2017

•By Tamara Van Happen, Guest Blogger

Ohhhh the ugly world of infertility. From the start we knew IVF was our only shot at ever having a biological child. My husband has Cystic Fibrosis. As if that weren’t bad enough, 98% of men with CF are born without a vas deferens (basically it’s like having a vasectomy to begin with!) We had little hope we would be in that 2% as John doesn’t present as a typical CF patient. And we weren’t. So the first step to making Baby Van Happen was to undergo genetic testing. When the results came back that I didn’t carry the gene for CF, I took it as a sign that we were on the right path.

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