Monthly Archives

May 2017

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

The Business of Baby Making

May 30, 2017

By Kristin Carter, Guest Blogger

 

I really haven’t shared this story with many people. Fertility problems are so hard, and I don’t wish them on anyone. I can see how marriages can break up over such devastating news especially if the other partner isn’t supportive. I also think about the people that struggle that don’t have the means to pay for IVF. I still have drugs sitting in my fridge because I just can’t motivate myself to throw them away. I bought them after a morning appointment when they told me it was probably going to be another day but then later that day they decided to trigger me that evening. The drugs expired in 2012 but it’s painful to think about throwing out that kind of money. So I keep it in my fridge, because if it’s in there it’s still worth the $900 or so that I paid for them, right?! For those who struggle with infertility every baby shower, birth announcement, and pregnant person you see is a constant reminder that it’s not you. If I had a dollar for every person who asked when we were going to have a baby, or asks us when we are going to have baby #2 I would be able to pay off all of our fertility loans and maybe afford to have baby #2!

We were married the fall of 2007 at the time we were one of the last couples of our group of friends to get married and of course most everyone already had kids. The year we were married Matt was 37 and I was 32 and we were so excited to finally be married and planned on starting a family right away. After a year of thinking we were going to be pregnant almost every month we had had a conversation with another couple that were married the year before us and were also trying to have a baby. They mentioned that they were going to see a fertility doctor. I remember being surprised that they thought that they needed to seek help. I mentioned it to my husband and I was shocked when he agreed it was time we talk to someone about why we haven’t gotten pregnant. I quickly made a doctors appointment and we went the next week. I really didn’t think anything was wrong I just thought we might get a little “help” to make things happen quicker.

When we heard the news I remember thinking: “this doctor isn’t telling us the truth, he just wants us to spend thousands of dollars with him to do this procedure called IVF because he will make a lot of money”. Basically what I took home from that conversation was if you give me $28,000 I can get you pregnant tomorrow. Without IVF you will never have a baby. I thought this doctor was crazy. Our issue was a low sperm count, but a low sperm count is still in the millions. So in my mind, since it only takes one sperm then there could be one lucky one out of the millions. Well we tried that theory for about a year without a positive pregnancy test. I guess that doctor did know what he was talking about. We also finally told our parents the news. That was one of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had with them. I cried when I told my Mom that I wasn’t sure if we were ever going to have a baby. My parents have always been supportive but they became even more supportive when it came to having a baby. They told me that we needed to do everything that we can do to try and have a baby. They said we weren’t getting any younger and they would do anything they could to help us.
With that news from my parents I decided that maybe we did need to investigate the option of IVF even if it did mean taking out loans. We figured since we had paid off both of our cars and if we could just drive our cars long enough to pay off the IVF loan it would be the same as a car payment. So we tried out a new doctor and loved her right away. We decided to go with an IVF “package” that allowed us a couple of cycles if it didn’t work out the first time.

What many people don’t understand about IVF is the cost of the drugs, they are so expensive!! There are a few states that IVF is covered by insurance (Illinois & Massachusetts are two of them) and Matt is from IL and my Mom’s family is from MA and I seriously considered trying to get a job in both states! But we didn’t have time for that so we picked a package that allowed us 1 live retrieval followed by 2 frozen retrievals and then another live retrieval and 2 frozen if needed.


We started in June of 2011 with an retrieval and transferred two live embryos. We went in for the blood test and anxiously awaited the results. When the doctor finally called us she told us it was definite “maybe”. WHAT?!! I thought that it was a positive or negative not a maybe. I had NEVER heard of that before!! Well, I had a positive HCG count but it was a 21 and they like to see it much higher than that at the first blood test. So they made me come in two days later to see if my counts had doubled. When I went in for my second blood test my counts had doubled, so I was pregnant but they only doubled in the 40’s so they weren’t as high as they would like to see them. So I had to go in two days later and my count had gone down which means miscarriage. At this point devastation set in, but I also just wanted to be done. I wanted to get everything out of my system so we can start over.
Finally, we are able to try another transfer in November of 2010. This time we will try to transfer two frozen embryo’s (this clinic has a great success record for frozen transfers). We are so excited to transfer and are told by the doctor that they are such good quality that he wouldn’t be surprised if they are twins! Of course we are stoked with that news at the transfer and tell our parents how excited we are to hear the results. We are all on pins and needles the day of the blood test and await the call from the doctor. When I finally get the call, we find out that the test is negative. I remember thinking…..”WHAT? YOU ARE KIDDING ME?” What do we do now? The doctor told me that many couples that have been through what we have been through give it a couple of months to relax. Other say: “I signed up for this” and keep going. I remember thinking, “I totally signed up for this”. We told our parents the news and they took it really bad this time. I think this was worse than the miscarriage because they told us the quality of the embryo’s allowed us such a good chance.
So now we are at decision time….we have 1 frozen embryo left to transfer and the doctor tells us that because of the quality that we have to transfer before we do another live cycle. Which makes sense to us financially too because then we don’t have to pay for the drugs to go through another retrieval. But I remember thinking in my head “if this transfer of one embryo is successful it means we will have an only child”. I never in a million years thought I would have an only child. I don’t want my child to be alone; I want him/her to have a sibling so many things run through your head. But you want to have a miracle baby so bad. We transfer one embryo the first week of December 2010 we do things totally different this time, my husband made me eat Mexican instead of Paradise Bakery while on bed rest, we didn’t tell our parents or anyone we did a transfer this time, and our favorite doctor performed the transfer. We didn’t want to jinx ourselves. When our doctor called us, our HCG count was definite and she was so excited to tell us that we were FINALLY pregnant.

So yes, we have a beautiful miracle baby. We decided not to find out what we were having because I can seriously tell you to the date and minute that we conceived. I have pictures of that beautiful embryo. A beautiful amazing girl: Ainsley Marie was born to us on August 30, 2011. But no, we probably won’t be having #2. We are still paying off loans from #1 and needed to buy a bigger house and wanted to have a pool for that sweet girl as she grows up in the heat of Arizona. We couldn’t have another baby in the other house so it was either buy a new house or pay for another baby….but we needed to get a bigger house so bad that there really wasn’t a choice. We have our miracle baby (who is 5!). We have good friends who have children she will be close with, so hopefully she won’t mind being an only child. We are just lucky we have our girl!!! Infertility really puts life into perspective….I have friends that freaked out when they couldn’t get pregnant after a couple of months or didn’t get pregnant when they wanted to….but they didn’t go though this journey and couples that survive this journey know the gift they received

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

The Risk Is Worth The Reward

May 25, 2017

By Brooke Papp, Guest Blogger

I have been a workaholic since I was 14. I was always driven to have a ‘high powered’ career and live in a big city and have a muted gold name plate with a fancy title.  I never played house, I played restaurateur, or journalist or would spend hours creating my own architectural “magazines.”  I put myself through college and landed a creative career in fashion.  Maybe not the cushy fancy title with the name plate, but what girl doesn’t love clothing?

Fast forward a few years…

My first date with my husband we had the full on marriage / kids discussion.  Him coming from a traditional catholic family and myself with my broken childhood, we were pretty sure the memorial day date we had would last as long as the summer.  I told him straight up, my career was number one and I had no desire to get married, have the white picket fence, the 2.5 children.  

And then I ended up liking him, like really liking him.  And something changes when you actually like someone – you see a future with them.  When Andrew proposed, I didn’t have one hesitation and the thought of not having children, was not even in passing.  It was the plan.  The year we got married we went through a ton of changes, we both switched jobs, he started grad school, we moved to LA.  It was a lot, but we got through it and it made us stronger.  We lived in a teeny apartment until we purchased our house a little over three years after getting married.  Everything was falling into place, but we still ‘weren’t ready’ for baby Papp.  We really, really enjoyed traveling.  We liked having the freedom to eat out or buy what we wanted, for ourselves, each other, the house.  We knew we wanted a child, but my work schedule was demanding and I was gone a ton.  He was working 12 hour days.  It just wasn’t time.

But then, unplanned, we got pregnant. I was traveling for work, per the usual, and I felt off. I was exhausted. I was nauseous. I felt bloated.  I wanted only pasta, which is just not the norm for me.  Red wine made me gag – yes, something was definitely wrong.  I was scared to death.

I finished my work trip, came home and immediately took two tests, just to be certain.  Pregnant.  We weren’t ready right?  But then we were, we talked about it all the time.  My husband was elated.  He would go in our guest room and talk about where we would put everything for baby.  It wasn’t planned but it was perfect timing.

We went to the doctor that week – ‘you are definitely pregnant’ the doctor said.  I will never forget my loving, dear husband’s face when she pointed out – what she called – the ‘strong’ heartbeat.  That little sonogram picture immediately went up on the fridge and we couldn’t stop staring at it.  It was happening!  

The next few weeks, I changed my diet, tried (!) to lower my stress level, starting reading the must read books.  I skipped the wine during a wine tasting weekend, I was going to be a mommy!

Then we lost the baby. The perfect baby that we had already named be it a boy or a girl. The baby we weren’t supposed to get our hopes up for but ultimately did. The baby we thought about with everything we did was gone. I had changed my whole life overnight because I wanted to be perfect for this baby.  And now, everything was different, in just seconds.

We went in to see our doctor on a Friday morning, before a scheduled two week vacation. The day was supposed to go something like this: early doctor appointment to see the growth of the little one, both Andrew and I had multiple meetings we were ready for and going to knock out of the park, then dinner out, and hop on a plane to Europe as a last big ‘hurrah’ before we were parents.

But instead, by 8 am, we knew our baby hadn’t grown. The baby was there, and the doctor said the growth should have been ‘monumental’ since the last time we were there, but she couldn’t detect a heartbeat.  I turned to Andrew and whispered ‘I’m sorry’ and he started crying, I was numb.  We rushed through her options because I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.  I left with my head spinning with questions, and nothing could be put into words.

Andrew and I took the day off, something I  N E V E R do (workaholic remember?). We sat in our backyard and cried and talked and yelled a bit and wondered what we did wrong along the way. I questioned everything I did: the large amount of stress I was dealing with at work, the glasses of wine I had prior to knowing I was pregnant, that indulgent Nashville trip…

We didn’t even want to get on our plane to Europe. The trip wouldn’t be the same. The news we were so excited to deliver to our family, was tainted and reversed. We went through that Friday in a thick fog. And ultimately boarded the plane.

Being back now, after the trip, looking back at the pictures, it wasn’t the trip we had planned. There are very few of myself, just me behind the camera, my outfits weren’t planned, I didn’t wear makeup. I wasn’t myself. But, life goes on – not all life, but most. I am still heartbroken. Andrew is still crushed. And the conversations we had over those two weeks will never be forgotten.

But, I know this experience made us stronger as a unit and we are so grateful and blessed that’s the case.  And we now know that we want a baby, so very much, and we know we have to plan for it. And do everything possible to be healthy, loving parents once our time comes.

I know women who have gone through this multiple, multiple times and I actually can’t imagine feeling that pain over and over again. It is indescribable. And shocking how much you love something so quickly.  Unimaginable.  Painful.  Numbing.  Heart wrenching.

What I take away most from this situation – apart from the time being emotionally and physically drained, is that not enough people speak of miscarriage.  I have not been silent, but I notice when you are honest about what is going on or what has happened, people become uncomfortable.

Andrew explained it best:  He was at the bank the day we found out and the teller asked how he was and he responded with a ‘could be better’ and the teller looked at him with no words.  She didn’t know how to respond.  I also have experienced that over the last couple weeks.  Miscarriage is f*cking hard, and talking about it, writing about it as helped, if even a little.  And if we had more knowledge of how often it does happen, maybe people will be more comfortable with discussing it and hearing the truths.  Everyone heals differently of course, but as a community, knowing this happens often and close is comforting, in a sad way.

I just finished the process of everything – just last week.  A D & C, which is way more intense than I thought it would be.  Adding salt to the wound, you may say.  And although the actual surgery helped and I feel I am moving forward, the sadness, emotion and freaking insane hormones are still there.  The doctor said we can start trying again in four weeks, and I am torn.  How on earth do I go through this again?

My husband, always a man of many words says: ‘the risk is worth the reward’ and I agree.  Someday it will be our time, but until then, this just is another chapter in our book.

Babe In My Belly, Blogs

“You’ll glow,” they said…

May 23, 2017

Written by guest blogger, Katelyn Smith

“Have a baby” they said. “You’ll have the pregnancy glow” they said. But what they didn’t say is that the glow doesn’t come alone. It comes with first trimester pimples, second trimester cravings and third trimester insomnia.

As mommies-to-be, we hear so much about the importance of a healthy diet, good sleeping position and exercise routine. We spend countless hours researching proper nutrition, safe workouts and pregnancy pillows. We all know how significant a healthy diet, sleep and exercise are. Not only for the little love you have growing inside of you, but also for you, mommy.

So we got it from here…

Exercise routine? Check

Sleep routine? Check (or working on it)

Healthy diet? Check (orrrr…. also working on it. Darn PB&J cravings)

If we’re so concerned about what goes in our body, shouldn’t we be just as concerned about what goes on it?

How many times have you turned over your favorite bag of chips to see how many calories there are? Or how foreign the ingredients seem? Most of the time, if we can’t pronounce something that our food is made out of, we put it down and head for the fresh produce.

What if we did the same thing with our skin care and makeup? How many ingredients do you think you wouldn’t recognize if you looked at the label? How many could you really pronounce?

What goes in our bodies is just as important as what goes on our bodies – especially during pregnancy.

Whatever we put on our skin is absorbed into the bloodstream, through the placenta and onto our little loves. Woah, right?

Now that we’re in this new mind set, let’s talk.

Think about how many products you put on your body every single day.. from makeup, to moisturizers, to body wash, lotions, toners, cleansers, scrubs, shaving cream.. etc.

Now think about how many ingredients are in each and every one of those products.

How many of them are actually non-toxic and safe?

Skin care companies these days do not seem to care about how toxic their ingredients are to our skin. In my opinion, it is all about quantity, not quality. Our society is uneducated as to how these chemicals, in our favorite make up line, is really affecting the quality of our skin. But that’s not our fault. It’s not our fault that the United States has not passed a major federal law to regulate the safety of ingredients used in beauty and personal care products since 1938 (umm, say what?! yeah, true story).

So what can we do? We can take control! We have the control of what goes in our bodies and what goes on our bodies. Not only can we start making and using homemade skin care, we can change what we are purchasing. There are companies like Beautycounter who make using non-toxic products easy.

Beautycounter is a company dedicated to getting safer products into the hands of everyone. They even have a Never List composed of over 1,500 chemicals they promise to never use in their products.

They have everything you need. Makeup, skin care, shampoo, conditioner, body wash and more. They even have products specifically made for babies and kids. Holla! You know this mommy-to-be is already stalking up on the baby oil!

Taking good care of your skin care is crucial every single day. Before, during and after pregnancy. Our skin is something we look at and care for every day, we should know exactly what is going on it. Who doesn’t want to show off their pregnancy glow toxin free?! As women, when our skin is clear and healthy, we feel better. We feel more confident. Not only is it good for our self-esteem, it is good for our well-being. And more importantly, it is good for your little love’s well-being. 

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Ommmmm your way to fertility

May 17, 2017

By Kristin McGee, Guest Blogger

I moved to New York City from small town Pocatello, Idaho to pursue my love of acting in the early 90’s. I discovered yoga in my acting classes and felt it was the best thing ever for my body, mind and spirit. I graduated NYU and certified to teach yoga as I auditioned and worked as an actress; but soon I realized I really wanted to teach yoga full time.

Yoga has been there for me through all the ups and downs in my life. I don’t know what I would do without yoga, it has helped me stay centered, balanced, flexible, strong and fit. I never realized it could also aid me in getting over an eating disorder, learning to truly love myself, landing a spot on 30 rock (and my actress dreams come around full circle) and get pregnant!
I have always been a late bloomer and didn’t start my period until I was 16 going on 17. I danced all of my life and have always been on the lean side. My periods were irregular and by the time I finally decided to settle down and have babies, my body wasn’t cooperating. I married my husband when I was 37 years old and after two years of trying, we weren’t having any luck.

I started teaching yoga for fertility classes around that time at the Reproductive Medical Associates in Manhattan; and doing research on yoga poses that can enhance fertility. I loved working with so many women in the same boat as myself; and sharing stories with each other so we didn’t feel so alone. Yoga is all about community; and the connections we made were just as important as the poses themselves.

When I turned 39 I had to call in the big guns and I went through a round of IVF. I kept up my yoga practice, went to acupuncture and ate a healthy diet. I fully believe the yoga mindset helped me have such a successful cycle. I had my beautiful baby boy Timothy on July 31, 2013 and three years later I had twin boys that were embryos we had saved from our first round. I feel so very blessed to have three boys after only one treatment. I know not all women have the same luck.

If you’re trying to conceive naturally or using fertility treatments, yoga can truly help in so many ways. Yoga is calming which is exactly what a woman needs when she is trying to get pregnant. Yoga is confidence building, which helps us rely on our self and trust our body to do what it needs to do. Yoga unites the mind and the body so we can really be in touch with what our body needs and treat it with compassion. Yoga is stress reducing and trying to get pregnant with or without meds, can be very stressful. Yoga helps us stay present and in the moment and all we can do is take each breath and each day as it comes. Yoga is low impact and great for opening up the hips and bringing blood flow to the pelvis.

I recently wrote a book Chair Yoga: Sit, Stretch, and Strengthen Your Way to a Happier, Healthier You. In this book are some wonderful chair yoga poses for women to do as they try and conceive. Because it is recommended to take it easy if you’re undergoing fertility treatments, these poses are a great alternative to high impact exercise. You want to avoid deep twists as your ovaries are stimulated; but other than that, all of these poses are safe and effective for balancing out the hormones and helping with stress and anxiety. If you’re trying to conceive naturally, these poses will help open up the pelvic region and bring blood flow down to the genitals. These poses also help us unite our body with our mind so we can feel harmonious and aligned as we envision our body making a beautiful little being.

 

Cat/Cow—Start seated at the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor hip width apart. Inhale arch out of your lower back and open up your chest as you look up to the ceiling. Exhale, curl your spine, pull in your abdominals, and round the back. Continue arching and rounding for 6-8 cycles. This move is great for opening up the pelvic region and getting blood flowing to the lower half of the body. It also releases the chest and upper back and alleviates stress and anxiety

 

Pelvic Circles—Next start circling your hips around in a clockwise direction letting the spine be nice and loose. After 6-8 cycles in one direction, stop and start the counterclockwise circling. I love this exercise for really opening up the hips and lubricating the pelvic floor region. Imagine stirring up fertile energy.

High Altar Side Stretch—After circles, stop and sit up nice and tall. Inhale lift your arms up overhead interlace the fingers and invert the palms to the ceiling. Lift up out of your lower back and exhale over to the right side. Hold for 5 breaths then come up to sit and repeat on the opposite side. The image of an altar overhead is powerful for holding something on it you want to bring in to your life. Stretching to the sides helps open up the lungs and bring in fresh air and positive thoughts.

Ankle to Knee—Sit at the edge of your seat and cross the right ankle above the left knee letting the right knee drop open to the side. Feel a great stretch in the outer hips and feel free to fold forward to make it more intense. Ankle to knee opens up the hips and allows for more blood flow to the lower half of the body.

Pigeon—Pigeon is one of my all time favorites fertility poses, it really opens up the hips and entire lower body. Pigeon also stretches the hips flexors, which are like the fight or flight muscles. When we release the adrenaline built up it helps our bodies relax and conceive. Start with your right outer thigh on the seat with the knee open to the side. Extend the left leg back behind you and press through the ball of the foot. Hold for 5-8 breaths then repeat on the opposite side.

Goddess—Finally end with goddess pose. Start at the edge of your seat and open your legs wider than your hips turning your toes out. Bring your hands together in prayer at your chest. Imagine your body as a vessel for conception; and breathe in to the hips, pelvis, inner thighs and lower abdominals. Hold for 5-8 breaths.

Practice these postures three to five times a week while you are trying to conceive or undergoing fertility treatments. Complimentary alternative medical practices such as yoga are really incredible for helping the process along. I truly believe my yoga practice played such a huge part in building my family and I hope to encourage all women to take the time to be kind to themselves and slow down in order to allow their bodies to make precious little babies.

 

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Dear Infertility

May 16, 2017
By Desiree Fortin, Guest Blogger
Dear Infertility,
I hated you.
You steal dreams. You break hearts. You bring grief.  You consume lives.  You are the reason I couldn’t get pregnant on my own.  You drowned my heart in deep misery from the inability to become a Mother how most women do.  You told me that my body wasn’t good enough.  You may have been a huge part of my story, but you never defined me. And on this day, two years ago, I kicked your ass. I defeated you. I showed you that there is victory in infertility and God finally planted life in my womb.Infertility, there are so many things you brought with you when you entered my life.  It wasn’t just that I couldn’t get pregnant.  You brought me more tears than I ever thought I could shed.  Because of you I laid on my bathroom floor in complete emptiness after countless negative pregnancy tests time and time again.  I had to endure shots, bruises, and all kinds of meds because when you are infertile and you seek fertility treatment for help, that is what you are in for.  You are expensive and exhausting physically, emotionally, and mentally.  Infertility, you drowned my heart in disappointment and agony.  And truthfully, it was pretty painful every time I heard the words “I’m pregnant” from someone other than myself.   And yet, in the midst of all of that-you brought me hope.

As much as I hated you, Infertility, I am also so thankful that you were my story.  You made me strong. Even before I got pregnant, my strength was rising. Not only did I feel like Superwoman after all of those injections, meds, blood draws, doctor visits, etc. but I found strength emotionally, as well. I learned how to be brave and walk our story with faith trusting that God knew every single detail better than I did. I learned how to be courageous as my husband gave me a progesterone shot that hurt like you wouldn’t believe every single night for 2 months so I could get and stay pregnant. Infertility, you taught me that I am never alone in my darkest days. Never did I imagine I would be labeled as infertile. Nor did I imagine that we would seek fertility treatment. However, infertility, it is because of you that I get to be a Mom to Charlize, Sawyer, and Jax. This love that I get to experience with them is absolutely undeniable. It is the greatest feeling in the world and if you weren’t apart of my story, I would be missing out on a truly honorable role as their Mommy. It is because of you that two years ago I found myself lying on a Doctors bed waiting for two precious and perfectly made embryos to be transferred to my womb. Infertility, God used you in in my life to make a platform for my story and reach the hearts of people walking the same pain I was in.  And it is because of you that I have a greater understanding of what hope really is.

Infertility, I don’t hate you, not anymore. God makes beauty out of ashes.  You were my ashes, but God made you beautiful.  If it wasn’t for you-for the extreme heartache you caused me, the lies you told me, the grief you brought my heart over and over again- not only would I not be a Mom to my darling hope triplets, but I can now truly grasp on to how powerful and remarkable it means to have hope in Jesus Christ.  Hope anchors the soul. Hope does not disappoint. Hope is having faith for what seems impossible.  It is trusting God when it feels hopeless. My journey to parenthood was nothing short of hope.  God had every single detail orchestrated from the second He planted the seed of Motherhood in my heart.  Infertility, today, when I really reflect on those years when you were apart of my life, I can only say, Thank you.

Sincerely,

Mama of Hope

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Your Day Will Come

May 15, 2017

“I still remember the days I prayed for the things I have now.” 

Seems like it was just yesterday that I would have done ANYTHING to hold my babies on Mother’s Day. I will never forget how painful it felt to have empty arms when I just knew I was meant to be a Mama. But ya know what? As crazy as it seems, now I am thankful for those days because they shaped me into the Mom (and person) I was always intended to be.

Even when I’ve got two babies who are sick and fussy, I am grateful. When I wake up every hour through the night, I am grateful. When there’s a double meltdown at the grocery store, I am grateful. When my arms are tired and my back is sore from holding a baby all day, I am grateful. When I can’t remember the last time I showered or brushed my teeth, I am grateful. (Yeah…I know, I really gotta do something to keep my hygiene in check!) I will always be grateful because I know that not having a baby is so much more difficult that having one. I know that infertility is so much more exhausting than a baby. And I know that being a mom is one of life’s greatest privileges that some woman are still waiting on.

People always ask me if it’s hard to raise to two babies so close in age and I always say, “Yes, but it’s not nearly as difficult as struggling with infertility.” So thanks infertility for giving me that perspective and the teaching me the power of perseverance.

If  you are in the middle of a struggle, continue to have faith and don’t give up. Your day will come, I promise, and when it does it’ll be even more extraordinary than you can imagine. For reasons I’ll never quite know, I just had to walk that difficult road to find my babies. And for reasons I’ll never question, I’d do it all again. In a heartbeat. And someday you’ll say the exact same thing.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

A Mother’s Day Without Mom

May 12, 2017

By Andrea Robinson, Guest Blogger

It’s another one of those days. A marker. A reminder. A day I feel the emptiness a little more. You see, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, they are all bright flashlights into my heart. They shine on the void I still feel without my Mom. She’s been in Heaven a little over 9 years. You know that saying “time heals all wounds?” Well, I’m not so sure that’s true. Yes, time marches on, people go about living, people forget the dates, but not me.

I think, those of us that have lost someone so dear as our mom, we never get over it. Whether you were 10 years old or 70 years old when she left you, it still brings heavy sadness. The grief bursts still come…like huge tsunami waves. They hit so randomly. No fair warning, ever. Like when our songs come on the radio that we used to obnoxiously sing( think Tom Jones and Diana Ross, those were our jams)! When I wander through Target and see a darling young mom, her kids and her own mother browsing the aisles. When I see pictures on Facebook of mother/daughter trips to fun places, exploring together. When I hear my friends complain about their “annoying, intruding mom.” When I’m riding the struggle bus of adulthood and can’t figure out how to get off. When I’m constantly second guessing my motherhood skills, my wife skills, my friend skills or my job. When I’m unsure of myself, my worth or my talents.

I can’t even tell you what I would give to be able to pick up the phone and hear her say “I love you Annabelle (that was what she called me). What I would give to have one of her famous pep talks. She left me way too soon. I got married without her here, I gave birth to two amazing kids without her here, I have celebrated without her, I have endured heartache without her. I have lived a good portion of my adult life without her. I feel like I need her most now. I find myself rummaging through old boxes and pictures looking for her. To feel her and find her presence in any thing. I stare at my kids searching for her. I thank God everyday for my babies, It’s the one place in which I have found her. Her eyes, her smile and her personality. So much of that has been given to them. They are 4 and 6 years old and are curious and have never ending questions. “Where’s your mom?” “Why did she have to go live in Heaven?” “What did she look like?” “Why was she sick?” I don’t have the best answers for them because I don’t really know why but it opens the door for us to talk about Grandma Connie all the time. It gives me the path to share her because I’ll be damned if they don’t know the amazing, fabulous G-ma that they would have run wild with, eaten junk food with and belly laughed with.

I will continue to trust that all of this is part of the plan. A plan that is greater than mine. He knows best and always will. I know for a concrete fact that God gave me 25 loving years with her and I’m forever grateful for that. The memories she left me with are deeply imprinted into my heart and brain. She was everyone’s friend, the woman that wore a cape under her dress (true super gal) she was the constant encourager, the supporter, the glue that holds it all together woman. Basically, she was everything to me and my brother. So, on days when we celebrate our Moms, I don’t get to shower mine with brunch or gifts. If she were here, I would be making her crispy bacon, hash browns and toast with butter. No eggs, she hated eggs. Coffee too, with cream. She loved her coffee. Oh and black licorice, she so loved that. Yuck, right? But she loved it, so you bet she would be getting it. So instead of all of that, I’ll share her spirit today, tomorrow and all of the days in between. I’ll relish in our time we had. I’ll hug my kids so tightly just for her. I’ll thank God for the women He has put in my life that have lifted me up since the day she left. Today, I’ll smile as I know she is shining down, so brightly. Today, I’ll work to make her proud and If I close my eyes long enough I’ll see her beautiful, perfect smile and I’ll hear her whisper “I love you.” I encourage you to dig deep inside and pull out those sweet memories and share yours with those that matter most. Our memories are the best gifts our Mamas could have ever given us. My deepest love to all of you that are missing yours today.

  

In Memory of Connie Cordrey
June 30, 1958-December 29, 2007

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Keep It Clean

May 9, 2017

By Allyson Owen

Guest Blogger

Being an aesthetician, I’ve always been hyper focused on reading and dissecting ingredient labels but I understand this is not a natural behavior for everyone. When it comes to buying products to use on our babies, we can get so caught up with cute packaging, attractive claims and product scent we don’t think about what is actually IN the bottle. I know this may seem daunting, but it really is important to spend some time reading and getting to know labels because unfortunately – under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act from 1938 – the FDA only regulates 11 ingredients in cosmetics yet there are THOUSANDS in use and being formulated into products we use every day. We need to ask questions and vet the products we choose to purchase for our families as there is very little regulation in cosmetics and it is up to us – parents – to make healthy, informed choices for our family.

Why it matters what we put on baby’s skin

The reason why it matters what we put on baby’s skin is because their immune system is immature and their skin is more permeable, meaning they can absorb more toxins than adults do. That is why safe skin care used during those early years is extra important –  we need to limit exposure to toxic chemicals during the early years of critical development to avoid health issues down the road.

I know this is all kind of scary and overwhelming if you are new to this! I consider myself an informed person but believe me, I am still learning about toxic chemicals every day! To help break it down and make this a little less overwhelming, I am going to give some suggestions on where to start with vetting skin care and what ingredients should be avoided in your children’s products.

 

What ingredients to avoid

Avoid Fragrance/Parfum – One of the biggest offenders is one of the ingredients parents want most in their baby’s skincare – fragrance! Why? Because everybody loves a sweet smelling baby! However, it’s not worth it for the health of your child. Fragrance is actually highly toxic and a single fragrance can contain hundreds of nasty chemicals. So if you read “fragrance” or “parfum” on an ingredient list, put the product back on the shelf! Instead, look for products that only use pure essential oils to create a natural fragrance. This is a much safer option plus pure essential oils contain therapeutic benefits.

Avoid Mineral Oil – Mineral oil is a byproduct of petroleum and there are so many safer, more wholesome options today to moisturize the skin. Look for products that use skin-loving vegetable oils such as coconut oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil and avocado oil. Even better are baby moisturizers that contain fruit and vegetable oils with a high concentration of omega-3 essential fatty acids such as red raspberry seed oil, cranberry seed oil, flax seed oil and chia seed oil. Oils rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids help build up baby’s delicate skin and protect it from daily environmental assault.

Avoid Chemical Sunscreens – Pediatricians typically recommend to avoid sunscreen before 6 months of age and after that, make sure to stick to mineral sunscreens that contain zinc oxide as the “active ingredient” that is located at the top of the ingredient label. This is the safest option. Second best is a combination of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as the active ingredients. Completely avoid sunscreens with ingredients that contain chemical sun filters such as avobenzone, oxybenzone and octisalate. Also, look further down the label to the “inactive ingredients” section and make sure you can understand most of the items listed. If there are a bunch of strange, hard to read ingredients it’s probably not the safest option for your baby.

Avoid Products Containing Water – This is a hard one but the reality is, if a product contains water it needs to be preserved. Period. And the preservative has to be strong enough to fight off bacteria, yeast, fungus and mold. If you do chose to purchase a product with “water” in it, make sure to avoid products containing synthetic harmful preservatives such as parabens and phenoxyethanol. Chose products that contain natural, more gentle preservatives instead. Some popular ones right now are radish root ferment, lactobacillus and herb blends. Something to keep in mind is that you need to use the product up faster if it contains a natural preservative because they don’t hold up as long as their synthetic counterparts do. That should be ok because a product with a three year shelf life is actually kind of gross if you really think about it. Luckily, baby balms and baby oils do not contain water and do not need to be preserved.  Just make sure to avoid the ones with mineral oil and petrolatum!

Last Tip: Do not get caught up with product claims. Just because a label says it’s “natural” or “fragrance free” doesn’t mean the product is safe. It really is important to flip the bottle over and read the ingredient list and make sure you only see words you recognize and can pronounce. If the label is confusing to read, there is most likely questionable – and potentially toxic – chemicals you will want to avoid applying on your baby. And don’t worry; if all of this is just too confusing and overwhelming, there are third party organizations out there that do the vetting for us like Made Safe. Check out their website as every product listed is certified non-toxic!

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Empty Arms on Mother’s Day

May 8, 2017

By Megan Boss, Guest Blogger

For those of us living with infertility, holidays are hard. But Mother’s Day is definitely the most difficult. Honestly I wish I could just wipe the day right off the calendar. I’ve spent what seems like a million years dreaming of being a mom, but instead that dream fades away each and every year. No tiny handprint gifts, no homemade cards, no breakfast in bed for me once again this Mother’s Day.

My husband and I have spent all of our married life trying to make our dream of becoming parents a reality.  It’s something we’ve both wanted since childhood. It was actually one of the things that attracted us to each other, both wanting a big family, a house full of kids. After about 8 months of just “relaxing and seeing what happens” we made an appointment with the OBGYN. She told us to give it 2 more months then she would recommend us to a specialist because of my age. (Insert eye roll here.) So there we were, 10 months and still no sign of Baby Boss. It’s official, we’ve been formally put into the INFERTILITY department.

10 months may not seem that long, but we just knew something was not right. We had an appointment with a specialist. We sat awkwardly in the waiting room trying not to stare at other couples. We tried the horrible clomid pill for a couple of months- nothing but hot flashes, night sweats and tantrums. We did an IUI (Intrauterine insemination)- nothing and plus that was really awkward. After some additional testing we learned that my ovarian reserve is very low. This told us that we should move on to IVF sooner rather than later.

IVF Round 1 we thought was a for sure thing. We were told there is about 50-60% chance of pregnancy with IVF ( I know…why is not 100%?) How do you spend $20,000 and not come home with a baby? We had appointments every other day. The waiting room became more comfortable. We were the “experienced couple” in the waiting room now and had a little fun picking out all the newbies just starting out or watching someone’s husband awkwardly turn in his sperm sample (Dude-we know what’s in the brown bag you are trying to hide in your jacket!). We really got to know all the staff at the infertility clinic…it was starting to be like a second home which…well it’s kinda depressing 🙂

We retrieved 17 eggs, 14 of those eggs were mature and 9 of those eggs fertilized. 3 of those eggs made it to day 5 to freeze. We transferred 1 egg in May (Mother’s day actually- we thought that was a sign) that egg did not implant. We still remember that phone call. We were shocked, so confused and so very sad.


In July we transferred our second egg and…PREGNANT, just in time for my birthday even though that sadly ended in a miscarriage after 8 wonderful weeks of being “parents”. We went through another emotional roller coaster of feeling shocked and so let down. We transferred our 3rd and final embryo in October. The 3rd time was not the charm for us. No implantation took place.

So just like that, we were out of embryos, and we lost a little bit of hope and faith. Parenthood seemed so far away. Going through infertility is a huge rollercoaster ride. You grieve the loss of what could have been, yet you have so much hope, then that hope is taken away from you and ends up returning a little later. The thing is though…you can’t just give up. How do you let go of the thought of not having a baby when that is the one thing you want more than anything in the world?
As another Mother’s Day approaches, the pain is very much real. Infertility is a loss. It’s the loss of a dream, it’s the loss of a family you thought you would have. Yes the handprint gifts, the # 1 Mom mug and the breakfast in bed would be fun but obviously I crave so much more than that. I crave having a little one who depends on me and who needs me, a daughter or son who thinks the world of me. I want the privilege of raising a little human, I want to teach him or her right from wrong, manners, morals, reading and writing. My heart wants all of that.


Although Mother’s Day is another reminder that I am not a mom, I can’t hide under the covers all day. I have to celebrate the ones I love who are moms. I have to keep the hope that one day my babies will come. Instead of crawling in a hole and crying all day, here are 5 ways to Survive Mother’s Day:

1. Celebrate the Moms in your life. Celebrate your Mom,Grandma or bestie who has little ones. Personally, I am so thankful for my mom. She has been with me every step of the way. If this seems to difficult, just send a card or a nice message and let them know you’re thinking of them.
2. Perhaps avoid massages, manicures or spa treatments around Mother’s Day.  This last weekend I got a facial. When it was done, the lady said, “ Happy Mother’s Day. You’re  a mom right?” I could have made that real awkward but I kindly just said thank you. I am a mom to a cat and an angel baby so I will take it, but it’s the assumption that is hard. If you go get any treatments done that weekend, be prepared for a lot of unintentionally hurtful comments.
3. Take a Social Media break. No doubt there will be tons of posts on Facebook, Instagram etc etc of Mother’s Day celebrations. My advice…you just have to stay offline for the day so those posts don’t trigger painful and raw emotions.
4. Keep busy. Do something that makes you happy. Gardening, puzzles, reading, hiking, take a day trip ect. Keep busy so your mind doesn’t overload with negative thoughts.
5. Netflix and Chill. It’s okay to stay home and cuddle up all day. Binge watch your favorite show, shut the windows, turn off the lights, eat junk food and do what you need to do. As my TTC friend always says “there is no rule book for grief.”

Going through infertility on Mother’s Day plain sucks and it’s going to hurt like hell. It’s going to hurt like Christmas hurt, like Easter hurts and so many other days, but I am not alone. I will survive like I always do because I am a warrior and I have hope that one day I will be celebrated on Mother’s Day!

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Adopting Baby Coyer

May 4, 2017

By Kansas Fergen

Guest Blogger

Our adoption story began far before my husband and I met. God began working in my heart my sophomore year of high school and continued to plant seeds for the years to come. Danny knew within the first week of meeting me, that adoption was something I knew God was calling me to. He continued to date me, so I knew he was a keeper.

We were married in June 2007, and that July, Danny helped at a worship conference and it was there that God began to work in His heart. The topic of adoption was brought up by various individuals who God undoubtedly placed there, to begin turning Danny’s heart toward adoption. On July 25, 2007, we started the adoption process.

We took some time to research agencies and choose one out out Boise, ID. We realized that we had a lot to learn about the adoption costs and the funding available, international vs. domestic adoptions, the difference between an open and closed adoptions, potential struggles we could face, and the many details and people involved throughout the process.

One of our biggest concerns was the cost. Domestic vs. International, distance to travel, agency fees, age of child, race of child, number of children, travel expenses, lodging, meals, etc. On average, an adoption can cost anywhere from $30,000-$50,000 for international or domestic adoption (adopting from foster care is often times much less), so we began to pray that God would provide for our every need, our finances included. This was a large price tag, especially for a newly married couple, but we also knew that if this was something He called us to do, he would provide. The sticker shock could not be the determining factor in whether or not we went through with an adoption. As we prayed, we did what we could to work a little extra, save, fund raise, look for financial aid. We didn’t just expect that God would just drop a check on our doorstep.

We kept our process a secret for a few weeks before we were ready to tell our close family and friends. They were so excited for us, but with this excitement came a lot of questions and worry. No one in our family had adopted before, so this was new territory for everyone. We reassured them that this was God’s plan for our family and it could take anywhere from 1-5 years, so this was just the start of our adoption journey. At this time we also shared that we made the decision to adopt from Zambia, Africa. Danny spent a month doing ministry there with orphan children and since then, this placed held a very special spot in his heart. It was also one of our options, so that made our decision easy.

On October 1, 2007, we began our home study with a local social worker. She came to our home several times to determine whether or not we would be suitable candidates for adoption.

Our home study consisted of:
Personal/Family background check- including our upbringing, family members, and key events in our lives
Significant people in our lives
Marriage & Family Relationships
Motivation to adopt
Expectations for the child
Health Background
Parenting & integration of the child into our family
Family Environment
Education, employment & finances (including insurance coverage)
References & criminal background clearances
Summary & social worker’s final recommendation

Over the next 3 months we sought financial assistance, completed background checks and physicals, and finished our adoption paperwork. While looking into options for helping cover the cost of our adoption, we learned there were many AMAZING organizations out there that offered financial grants and other assistance. We began to apply for many of these in hopes that this would help cover costs.

Being a waiting family meant that our adoption profile book would be shown to birth mothers that were interested in having us be the parents of their child. This was exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time. I remember sitting at home thinking, what are they going to think about me? What are they NOT going to like about me? Are they going to like my hobbies? What are they going to think about our families? SO many thoughts ran through my head and knowing that a single picture could be the “make or break” of whether or not they chose us to be the parents of their child was sometimes overwhelming. We tried to keep ourselves busy and not think about it constantly, but it was always on my mind. Even though I knew it could be a LONG road ahead, what expectant mother doesn’t get excited and have high hopes? We continued to be in prayer for our little one and their birth parents as the looked through profile books. We focused on praying for their health and their daily needs during pregnancy. We also prayed that God would walk with them during the decisions they too would have to make through this process.

The call that makes your heart stop. June 20, 2008 my heart stopped. Writing this now, brings tears to my eyes. It’s the day I became a mom. It’s the day I heard, “You have been chosen to be the parents to a 9 month old baby boy from Texas, if you decide to say yes.” (Yes? Is that even a question?!?!) I knew the second I saw our agency’s number show up on my phone, this call meant something. It took us zero seconds to know that we were going to say yes ?, but we did take a few minutes to pray together alone in a bedroom away from my family before calling the agency back with our “official” answer. I will never forget that moment, holding onto my husband & sobbing in his arms as all my dreams were coming true. I felt my heart was going to explode and I could not get to Texas fast enough. It was less than a year after starting the adoption process and we were already chosen? How could this be?

Within 20 minutes after our call, we got an email with ALL of his information along with the most adorable pictures I had ever seen. THIS was OUR son. Because it was a Friday, we had to wait 4 days until we could travel to get him because they needed to get his paperwork in place. It was the LONGEST 4 days of my LIFE!!! How could they tell me I had a son and then expect me to wait 4 days to see him? We had no choice, so instead I went crazy packing and getting everything ready for our trip. Of course this included returning some newborn clothes I purchased (Yes, I purchased baby clothes, what expecting mom doesn’t?) and return them for size 9-12 months. NEVER, did I think I would be doing that. It all felt like a dream, but the best dream! On June 23, we started our drive out to Texas full of every kind of emotion possible. We couldn’t wait!

We knocked on the door and Peggy, the foster mom, came to the door empty handed. SUCH SUSPENSE. Where was he? She introduced herself (all of which was a blur) and walked us to the living room. There he was. Standing alongside a coffee table playing with a toy dinosaur. I’m not even sure what I said or did at this point. Honestly, all I can remember is walking towards him and sitting down on the couch right beside him. Being that he was 9 months old, I didn’t want to scare him. Even though I was now his mother, to him I was a stranger.

What he did next will be forever be ingrained in my mind. He turned, put his hand on my knee, and reached up to be held. My son wanted me to hold him without hesitation. There was NO greater feeling than that. I picked him up and time stood still. I remember his smell, the way he looked at me, and how he sat so calmly on my lap. I knew that God was at work calming both of us, reassuring me that I did not need to worry. I was his mom, FOREVER.

We named our son Coyer James Lony’aa. We wanted to keep his birth name as his second middle name. He was Lony’aa “Lony” for the first 9 months of his life, so we always wanted his birth name to be part of his name and story. We spent hours playing with Coyer on the first day and chatting with his foster mom, Peggy. She told us everything about him. We knew without a doubt that she loved him and we were so grateful. Coyer lived with his birth mom and older sister for 7 1/2 months before going to live with Peggy for the remaining 1 1/2 months.

A few hours after arriving Coyer got hungry so Peggy made him a bottle. This was the first opportunity I had feed him and I was NOT going to pass that up. It was a beautiful moment and God proved once again that He is faithful. Coyer took the bottle from me without any problems and Peggy was shocked. He drank slowly while looking up at me and I stared down at him in awe, taking in the moment. When he was done drinking, he laid his head down on my chest and snuggled. MELT. MY. HEART. It was the first moment I FELT like his mom, like I could care for him in the way only a mother cares for her son.

It was a Friday morning, 4 days after arriving in Texas when I got a call from our agency. They told me all the paperwork went through really quickly and we had clearance to take Coyer HOME. Tears of JOY streamed down my face.

Peggy packed up a few of his things that she wanted him to have along with a few things that came from his birth mother. Then it was time. She asked if she could just have a few minutes alone with him, so we went outside to load up the car. A few minutes later she walked out with him. Tears in her eyes, she handed him to me, hugged us, and said she loved him. It was SO hard to see her tears, but we were so thankful for the love that she gave Coyer until we were able to be his forever family. We will forever be grateful for her. One week from when we got “the call” we were driving home with our 9 month old son. GOD IS GOOD!

When we got home our week was filled with LOTS of guests. Our family and friends could not wait to meet him and we had so much fun experiencing life as a family of three. The only communication we would have with Coyer’s birth-mom would be through letters and pictures sent through the agency, so we wrote her monthly over the next 4 years. During that time she sent us a “When you Wonder Book” that told us more about her and why she chose to place Coyer for adoption. We were so thankful to receive this because we knew that when Coyer got old enough, this would be something he would treasure as it would help answer some of his questions.

Several years later we got a call from the agency in Texas letting us know that they were going to be closing down and we had a few options for continued communication with Coyer’s birth-mom. We could either keep the adoption “closed” and no longer communicate with her in any form, go through another social worker and pay for their services, or if we were comfortable we could have an open adoption where we would exchange information and start communicating openly. We knew immediately we would love to have more of an open adoption with her and found out that she wanted the same. Since then we have emailed, exchanged pictures, and texted regularly. It has been a joy to have her and Coyer’s older sister be a part of our life.

If the color of our skin didn’t tell you that our son was adopted, you would never know. He bonded with us, has never had any attachment issues, and is super affectionate. We are so thankful for this. We know our story could have been so different and we could have faced many other challenges, but God worked through them all. Not a day goes by I don’t thank God for this little man and for choosing me to be his mother. He has the most compassionate heart and I know that’s the work of the Lord. I pray that as he grows up he will always know he is loved by not only our family, but his birth-family as well. I pray he will embrace his story and let God work through his life knowing that God has been with him since day one.

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