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January 2018

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Our Plane Ride: From Infertility to Surrogacy

January 29, 2018

Written by Brittany Ortiz, guest blogger

Often people say “You have to experience it yourself to understand.” And in most cases I tend to disagree. I personally feel that one can understand something without personally going through it. They can relate in some way or put themselves in someone else’s shoes per say. However, there is one situation you have to go through personally to fully comprehend; the loss of a baby. Whether the physical loss or the ability to have your decision to have one ripped from you. Until you have tried and tried for a child that you physically and financially cannot have- until you become pregnant finally after years and years of treatment and are on this amazing plane ride of joy and happiness to suddenly have it ripped from you- pushed out of that airplane without a parachute, you simply just cannot truly understand. Welcome to our plane ride.

Our journey began on in the spring of 2013. My husband and I had been married for a little over a year and we made the decision for me to go off birth control and “see what happens.” When I didn’t fall pregnant that first month, I immediately had this feeling that something was wrong. Call it an intuition, but I literally told Harrison that I felt it wasn’t going to be easy for us.

A month turned to six months, and six months turned to a year. I went to my gynocologist who ran a bunch of blood work and swore I was perfectly healthy. I was put on Femara (a similar drug to Clomid but with less side effects) and we tried that for another six months, adding in Estrogen and Progesterone. Harrison did a semen analysis and his swimmers were almost Olympic athletes. I specifically asked my doctor after researching Google for hours on end if I could possibly have PCOS or Endometriosis. She swore I could not as I had no symptoms of either. I ovulated fine every single month and my periods were regular — every 28 days on the dot. No pain, no fuss. I was young and should just keep trying.

That wasn’t good enough for me. I may have only been 24 but I was beyond ready to be pregnant. So we asked for a recommendation to an RE which lead us to Dr. Homm and Dr. Devine at Fertility and Endocrine Associates. At our consultation, Dr. Homm looked at me and immediately told me that he believed I had Endometriosis. I argued with him assuring him that my doctor told me I could not and that I had no symptoms. He told me that the next steps were to do an HSG test (where they inject dye into your uterine cavity to see if your fallopian tubes are blocked) which would cost Harrison and I $1,000 since we did NOT have infertility coverage. This test would tell Dr. Homm A) my tubes were open or B) my tubes were blocked and either way he would have to then do a laparoscopic surgery to explore and figure out the issue which my insurance WOULD cover. He offered to skip the expensive HSG test and just go straight to the surgery which we chose to do. Why spend $1000 if regardless I’d have to do the laparoscopy? Right?

In April 2015, I had my laparoscopic surgery. Upon waking from the anesthesia, I laughed and told Dr. Homm “See I didn’t have Endometriosis, did I?” Joke was on me. It was stage II Endometriosis! It was one of those moments where I was relieved to finally have an answer to our problem, but terrified there was something was really wrong. I also felt tremendous guilt. It was my fault I couldn’t give my husband a child. It was my body that was failing us. We tried for the following three months naturally (still on Femara for assistance) with big fat negatives each month.

Next steps were IUI. We tried three rounds total. All failed. Big fat failures. Our last attempt would be IVF. We consulted with Dr. Homm and realized it was our absolute best chance, but it was costly. VERY costly. With the help of our family we were able to go forward with our treatment.

I began stems for IVF in November 2015 with my egg retrieval in December. We decided to do PGS testing on our embryos to ensure the quality before we transferred so transfer would have to wait a month until January 19th, 2016. Out of the 12 embryos that we retrieved, 10 fertilized, thanks to ICSI, and only 5 made it to blasts five days later. Out of those 5, we had 3 perfect embryos- 1 boy and 2 girls.

We decided to implant the 2 girls giving us a whopping 46% chance for twins and an over 87% chance of pregnancy. I got my positive pregnancy test just four days after transfer. We were ecstatic! Our first ultrasound showed 2 perfect embryos with heartbeats! We were going to be parents to twin girls. Finally. After 3 years, we were finally pregnant.

I shared our entire journey on Facebook. I documented with pictures and made videos explaining the entire IVF process and each step we took during it. I had so many family and friends following our story. They were just as ecstatic as we were. Each ultrasound we fell more and more in love with our girls. We went out at week 8 and purchased their nursery furniture. I purchased their first onesies and just couldn’t wait for October to get here!

March 3, 2016. Harrison and I argued that morning because he forgot to request off to go with me to our 9 week scan. He felt terrible about it and promised he wouldn’t miss any more. So I went alone. We lived in Louisville, KY but our entire family lived in Dayton, OH, where we are from. I remember that appointment vividly. I was super excited to see the girls looking more like gummy bears than specs. They would have little nubs for arms and legs now. I was so excited!

I remember Dr. Devine beginning the scan and seeing that Baby B was MUCH smaller than Baby A. I said something about it and Dr. Devine smiled and didn’t say anything. But I could see her eyes. I knew something was wrong. I kept saying over and over in my head “It’s okay. You still have Baby A. It’s okay. I know you wanted twins. It’s okay. You still have another baby. It will be okay. You can do this. Losing a twin is common. It’s okay.” Dr. Devine moved on to Baby A. She kept pushing on my lower stomach. Moving the wand around inside, putting pressure on my belly, asking me to move here and there saying “I’m just having trouble seeing clearly.”

Then I said “Baby A grew!” Because Baby A did grow! She was much larger! She looked like a little gummy bear with nubs for arms and legs! Dr. Devine smiled again and removed the wand and gently said “Yes, but unfortunately I cannot find heartbeats on either baby.”

…. I sat up. ….

She explained I was most likely in shock. I was. 100%. This wasn’t happening. It’s just not possible. She explained the process of miscarriage to me. I should start to bleed within the week and if not, I would return to her office and we would schedule a D & C. I just wanted to get out of that office. I couldn’t get dressed and out of that room fast enough.

I made it out the door and halfway down the hall before I fell to the ground. I collapsed and cried. I curled up in a ball and cried in the middle of a hospital hallway with people walking around me. I don’t remember much in that moment. I know someone stopped and tried to console me. I remember pushing them away and standing to search for a restroom, and to that person I am truly sorry. I know you were trying to help me and I appreciate that, but in that moment I just wanted to run away.

I made it to a bathroom and immediately thought I needed to call my boss and tell him I’m working from home. So I did. Thank God he was flying at the time and I could leave a message. I still broke down crying in the middle of it. Then, I called my husband. He answered excited. He wanted to hear all about the girls’ scan. Instead he heard his wife sobbing on the other end. I could only get out “I lost the babies. They don’t have heartbeats.”

I don’t remember anything else of that conversation. I called my mom at work and she answered just as excited as my husband had. I sobbed “They died.” She tried to console me and I just got out “Get here.” My mother, who was 3 hours way, immediately left her job and drove to me. My husband left work and met me at home. My boss called me and told me to take as much time as I needed.

I just laid in my room. For days. I felt like a failure. My body failed me once again. It killed my babies. I had to have done something to kill my girls. It was my fault. I couldn’t give my husband a child. I failed. I felt disgusting. I was carrying two dead babies in my body. I wanted them out. I wanted it to be over. I couldn’t handle it. I hated anyone who tried to tell me “God has his reasons.” That was the WORST thing anyone could say to me. Or “At least you got pregnant.”

Yep. At least I got pregnant. $20,000 down the drain. But at least I got pregnant.

The miscarriage happened 6 days later. Nothing could prepare me for that experience. If you ever have to choose the option for a natural miscarriage or a D &C, do yourself a favor and take the D & C. I started to have contractions like labor. They grew more and more intense as time went on. I bled through my pads, sweats, towels, and sheets on our bed. I screamed through each contraction and arched my back in pain gripping our headboard. My husband felt helpless and watched as I suffered. I felt the need to push so I would go to the bathroom and sit on the toilet. I’ve never seen so much blood in my life. I tried to shower to get it off me, pushing more and watching my tub turn into a horror film. This continued for hours. Finally, I was on the bathroom floor screaming in pain at 4am. Shaking. I had NO energy left. I had been going through this since 8pm the night before. Harrison came to the bathroom and picked me up off the floor and told me that was enough. We were going to the ER.

I bled through a brand new super plus pad and my thick sweats on the 10 min drive to the ER. Blood was pouring from me as we walked into the ER waiting room. As they tried to take my information, I passed out and seized. Later we found out that the girls tissue had gotten stuck and kept my cervix open- causing me to lose all that blood.

We went to my scheduled appointment with my RE at 11am that morning after spending the early hours in the ER. I had passed everything. Dr. Devine called me “strong”. I laughed. She said that we could try again with our remaining embryo in 3 months. But I was still mourning the death of our twin girls who I just ‘ birthed’ hours ago.

Harrison and I talked about what our next steps would be in the next couple of months. We both didn’t want to use our final boy embryo. There was something about losing the girls that were PGS tested and perfect that made me feel uncomfortable putting their brother in and risking that happening all over again. Plus, if I miscarried again we would move to surrogacy and I would have to do another round of IVF to get more embryos anyways. And if I endured another loss, I didn’t know if I would be strong enough to go through that again.

We decided to start from scratch. IVF round 2. We named our girls Hope and Faith because without getting pregnant with them, we wouldn’t have had the faith and hope to continue with the IVF process. My strength was tested majorly during these next couple months before our next round. Our nursery furniture was delivered to our home — for babies we had lost. It sat in our nursery in boxes as we passed it day by day. I had a cousin who was exactly 10 weeks ahead of me in our pregnancies would post bumpdates when I should be posting my weekly bumpdate too. I had to move forward with caution. I would cry at the drop of hat when I saw babies in the grocery store or was asked by a coworker who didn’t see the news of our miscarriage how my pregnancy was going. It was rough. My lowest low.

I began stems again in June 2016. We retrieved 9 eggs this time. I felt defeated. That was worse than our first round. But as the days passed and we got our daily updates, I became more and more encouraged. All 9 fertilized with ICSI. All 9 continued to grow until day 5. We lost only one embryo as 8 had made it to blasts for PGS testing. Out of our 8 blasts, we had 6 that were viable for transfer after PGS — 2 girls and 4 boys.

July 27, 2016. We transferred 2 perfect girl embryos. This time my RE put me on Lovenox as a precaution. I knew I was pregnant again two days past transfer. I had the exact same symptoms I did with Hope and Faith. I broke out all around my chin and mouth, which I NEVER breakout. My pregnancy test was positive again on day four. I went in for my BETA early at 7dp5dt. It was 99!!!! Then it doubled to 210 on 9dp5dt. I requested one more at 13dp5dt and it was 2,488!! I knew I was pregnant with twins again.

On August 12, 2016, we went in for our first ultrasound. There were two perfect gestational sacs. I was terrified. I went in weekly this time for ultrasounds. I was so afraid that history was going to repeat itself. Somehow, we made it to week 8. The same time Hope and Faith’s hearts stopped beating. But this time we still had two healthy babies. Then it was week 10 and I was graduating from our RE! I took it week by week. Each week I grew more confident in my pregnancy. When I made it to 15, I finally relaxed. We were going to have these babies.

Parker Reagan and Emery Kate Ortiz were born at 5 lbs 9 oz and 5 lbs 10 oz on March 28, 2017. They were worth every single heartbreak. Every single penny. Every shot. Everything.

Infertility is one of the hardest things someone can go through. This journey is hard. It forces you to endure pain unlike any other. I wouldn’t wish this journey on my worst enemy. But, it also makes you strong. It makes you one hell of a mother before you even ARE a mother. You fight as hard as you can for just the possibility for a baby. There is no guarantee when you are spending thousands and thousands of dollars on treatments. There is no guarantee when you are giving yourself shots after shots and popping pills after pills that make you literally go hormonally insane. It tests your marriage. It tests your strength. It engulfs your life. It makes you appreciate being a parent SO much when you finally overcome.

I still share and post about infertility continuously. I believe that couples shouldn’t be afraid to share their struggle. I want to be a voice for them. I want to encourage and help them in any way I can. Because I get it. I have been there. My journey brought me to motherhood. Thankfully. However, some cannot get here. They need a little more help. So now… my journey has brought us to Surrogacy. I want to help a couple have what we have. They deserve to experience every single bit of happiness we get to experience. I’m hoping I am approved and will be the perfect fit for my intended parents. I hope that my body will help them bring their beautiful baby into this world and provide them with their dream come true.

I want to help as many couples who are struggling in any way I can — through my voice, being a surrogate, or donating what little I can to help them. I know what it is like to watch everyone else’s dreams come true while knowing yours are slipping further and further away from becoming reality. I know that the woman struggling is strong, but she’s exhausted. I know she is brave and broken all at once. She is me. I am her. We are all in this together. Infertility is a loss. It’s the loss of a dream. It’s the loss of an assumed future. And like any other loss, it too will be grieved. Know that you are allowed to scream. You are allowed to cry. You are allowed to break. But do not, DO NOT give up.

Because when you are pushed out of the plane without a parachute, you realize that you have wings. And one day you will be writing about your plane ride instead of reading about mine.


Babe In My Heart, Blogs

How Infertility Changed My Marriage

January 25, 2018

Written by Nicole Briand, guest blogger

I read a statistic that near 80% of marriages end up in divorce after the loss of a child. I don’t know if this is true or not, but I wouldn’t be surprised. This whole process—infertility, miscarriage, and child loss, is a tough road to travel.

Growing up I had this idea of what life would be like. You get married, buy a house, pop a few kids out, etc.
When I look back at that naivety, I laugh.

After dating for a few years, my husband and I got married after a short engagement in a intimate October wedding. We closed on our first home just a few weeks after the wedding. So far so good, right?

I went off birth control a few months prior to the wedding because we knew we wanted to start a family right away. My husband is 10 years older than me so that was definitely a factor. But more so, I just felt this strong desire that I was meant to be a mom.

After not getting pregnant the first couple months, I became obsessed with trying to conceive. I was charting my cycles, taking my temperature, peeing on every type of stick I could get my hands on, and examining every bodily fluid with a fine tooth comb. As I’m sure most people in this community know, when you are determined to get pregnant, sex can become very not sexy. At least that’s how I felt. It became so transactional. “I’m ovulating so we have to do it X number of times in X number of days.” And afterwards I needed to lay with my legs in the air (as if that actually makes a difference.) Talk about taking the magic out of the honeymoon phase. The more time elapsed that we weren’t getting pregnant, the worse my anxiety got. I became obsessed and desperate to have a baby.

As we started fertility treatments, things only got worse. My husband would often say things like “ I want my wife back.” And he was right. I had become a monster with one goal in mind-a baby. After learning that our fertility issues were my own, I became angry and insecure. I was so angry at my body for letting me down and I took a lot of that anger out on him. In hindsight, I wouldn’t have blamed him if he threw in the towel right there. The man is a saint. I don’t give him nearly enough credit.

Even when I finally got pregnant with our twin boys, my anxiety never let up. Having such a difficult time conceiving and miscarrying just a few months earlier, I had a very difficult time allowing myself to enjoy the pregnancy. I lived in constant fear that something bad would happen. I began to socially isolate myself because I just wanted to stay home and protect my babies. This was especially difficult for my husband because he is, by nature, a very social person.

When we learned that one of our boys, William, passed away, just a few weeks shy of our delivery, our world was rocked. In the moments following when the doctor said the words, “I’m so incredibly sorry, but there is no heartbeat,” I remember thinking about how thankful I was that my husband was by my side. I just wanted him to hold me, which was something I hadn’t wanted in a very long time.

The coming weeks were the most difficult of my life. It was little things like hearing my husband sobbing in the shower, that broke my heart in a way that I can’t even begin to describe. However, as difficult of a road as it was to get to that point, I began to realize that he wanted to start a family just as much as I did.

In grief counseling, we talked often about how men and women grieve the loss of a child differently. And I can imagine that it is very similar in how we deal with the struggle of TTC and infertility. I would often get angry with my husband and accuse him of not caring—about starting a family, about miscarrying, about losing our son, because he wasn’t grieving in the same way I was. But what I have come to realize is that we just express these feelings differently.

This whole journey has changed me. It’s changed my husband. And it has changed our marriage. Some days are good and some are really damn tough. But I’ve learned to hold my husband closer, instead of pushing him away. In an unlucky situation, I have been very lucky to have him by my side.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Learning To Love My Post Baby Body

January 23, 2018

Written by Lauren Bennett, WTF Content Editor

In the years my husband and I dealt with infertility, one of the hardest things to hear were the complaints of pregnant woman, specifically about their beautiful changing bodies. I would cringe every time someone referred to herself as “fat” or commented about the size of her thighs. I vowed that if we ever beat infertility and I was able to carrying our baby, I would NEVER, EVER follow the path many pregnant women take and complain about her weight, aches, and pains.

Then I got pregnant.

In my experience, when you deal with infertility for so many years, you promise yourself you won’t be like the people who openly talked down about their bodies. You feel like if you are blessed enough to be pregnant, you will enjoy every second and be in a constant state of appreciation for the miracle that is pregnancy. You convince yourself that you aren’t allowed to complain because you have been praying and begging for this for nearly five years. The only thing crossing your mind should be how grateful you are.

I found out early on how difficult this would prove to be. My pregnancy with my IVF miracle was relatively uneventful. I had your typical aches and pains with the addition of symphysis pelvis dysfunction, which was for the birds. But other than that, my body did exactly what I had been asking it to for years – growing a life. But not too far into my first trimester, I began to realize that pregnancy is no walk in the park and to my surprise, I started to feel disdain towards the extra weight I was putting on. My already wide hips seem to expand even more. Those thighs of mine showed some new stretch marks. What. Was. Happening.

I dreaded stepping on the scale at each doctor’s appointment. Watching those numbers increase, at sometimes what felt like alarming rates, made my stomach drop each and every time.

Then one Sunday morning at 36 weeks pregnant, it happened. I woke up to find my first stretch mark on my stomach. I cried. I looked in the mirror and just felt huge. I hated how I looked. My face looked puffy, my stomach felt like I was carrying a bowling ball, my thighs seemed to jiggle with more enthusiasm. I felt nothing but disgust for my body and cried.

I did what all women do when they are feeling down – texted my best friend, who listened to me complain and told me to allow myself to feel this way but then “bring it back to center.” She helped to remind me that even though I dealt with infertility doesn’t mean I am not allowed to struggle with pregnancy. Growing a life is hard work and I’m entitled to recognize that, just as much as someone who conceived easily.

With this new clarity, I began to look at my body differently. While it was still different from what I was used to, it had carried me through 5 years of infertility consisting of seeing over 20 medical professionals, numerous invasive tests, 3 rounds of Clomid, 3 rounds of IUIs, 1 surgery to remove endometriosis, 1 round of IVF, hundreds of needles I had to poke myself with, more needles that I trusted my husband to poke me with, and countless tears. Now, it was giving me the gift of creating a life that I had dreamed about. My main focus was no longer how I looked and fitting into society’s definition of a beautiful woman. It was about this fierce and powerful vessel that was doing amazing things. After years of feeling betrayed by my body because I couldn’t conceive, this was a place I never thought I would be and it was so refreshing to not be at battle with myself.

As luck would have it, I went into labor just a week later. Let me tell you, after delivering my son, my appreciation for my body intensified. Look at what it had just done! After bringing Miles home, I vividly remember standing in the mirror looking at the stretch marks on my belly and feeling a pang of sadness and bittersweet longing that my belly was now empty. Those stretch marks were a sign of my long and hard journey into mamahood. Pre-baby Lauren would have looked at those tiger stripes and dreaded beach season, but as I stood there while my husband cuddled our fresh newborn, I couldn’t have been more proud of what my scars represented and looked forward to hopping into a bikini and heading to the beach with my son in tow.

There are days I long to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes and I still wish I could lose an extra 10 pounds, but I’ve come to a place where I’m done punishing my body for what it isn’t and celebrating it for what it is and what it has accomplished. So my thighs may still jiggle, my tummy sports its baby pooch, and I have that ever present flat mom butt. But I also have full arms and an even fuller heart. And that is worth all the stretch marks in the world.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Keeping The Faith For My Miracle

January 18, 2018

Written by Lilly Sharlow, guest blogger

My story isn’t an easy one to share but it taught me a valuable lesson – faith. Every pregnancy is different and has challenges but hopefully my story inspires others to trust in a bigger power and that no matter what, we as mothers will always fight for our children. 

Since I was a little, my biggest dream was to be a mom. I was 25 when I got married and living in Cabo, Mexico as an English preschool teacher, I felt I had everything I ever wanted. As soon as I got married, the first thing I wanted to do was have children and fulfill my dream. So, one try and BAMM! I’m pregnant. The excitement was indescribable but that soon changed. My husband and I decided to wait until after our first appointment to announce the great news. Here we are, two happy newlyweds ready to see our baby but the doctor saw something a little weird in the ultrasound on my left ovary and thought something was off. She told us to come back in a week and to wait to tell our family since she wanted to confirm the baby was indeed ok. I was a tad concerned but I understood. Six weeks into being pregnant, she sent us to another doctor to get a special ultrasound and at this point I knew something was just not right. In a couple of hours, we went back to our OBGYN who told us I need surgery because it’s possibly an ectopic pregnancy and my health is at risk. At this point I wanted to just cry and question why this is happening to me. How am I going to call my parents and give them two announcements: that I was expecting but I needed emergency surgery in another country. Little did I know this was just the beginning of this journey.

On September 22, 2011 I went into surgery. The chances my growing baby would make it are 10% since I had to be cut open as a C-section surgery to get to the ovary in question. The surgery went well and after my recovery I went back to my OBGYN to discuss my pregnancy. I sat at the doctor’s office and my husband held my hand. Then the doctor said “The surgery was successful for the baby. However…” My heart dropped. She said they found cancer and it was very aggressive. I took a minute to digest the news but then she turned to me and said “You need to start treatment and your baby will not make it. You possibly won’t be able to have children.”  

When I heard the news that I wasn’t going to be a mom I felt that my whole world ended. In my head I could deal with cancer but the fact that I can’t have a baby or keep this little human that saved my life was just something I couldn’t bear. I left that office with so much conflicting emotions. Why me? How can I overcome this? I needed to be with family and go back to the States to get other opinions. Four days post recovery, I was back. When I landed, my family was hugged me and showed so much support but no one wanted to say the word “cancer.”

I met with the best Oncologist-OBGYN in the Bay Area, who said I needed to start treatment right away and possibly get an abortion. At that moment, I felt a sense of peace and I strongly said NO. I remember looking at my mom and husband’s face as if I was crazy. I wanted to continue with my pregnancy and I knew I had to fight for this little human and that I had to have faith. I prayed, went to an eastern medicine doctor and followed his instructions, changed my food intake, and did everything I could in my power. 

A couple weeks passed and it was time for some additional tests. The oncologist looked at me and I looked at her holding my tummy and said “I have faith that my test will be lower and I don’t need treatment.” I took the ovarian cancer test (CA125) and had an ultrasound. To my doctor’s surprise, it was indeed lower. The first battle God decided to put in this crazy journey was done. It was a high-risk pregnancy but my baby was ok and I continued my faith to fight for this little human. Little did I know another curveball was going to be thrown my way.


On May 15th, I was ready to meet this baby girl but I felt that something was off. Laying in the hospital bed waiting to meet this miracle baby that I fought against all odds for, I find out that my husband was having an affair. My heart sank and all the emotions caused me to have complications. I was quickly rushed into surgery to have a C-section. I was broken but luckily the baby and I were fine and when I looked at this baby’s face, I knew I had to be strong. I left everything behind at 26 years old with a newborn baby, still dealing with medical issues and starting from scratch as a single mom.

I felt so hopeless I remember just crying out to God and said “I don’t know what your plan is but, you are testing me! My heart is broken and my journey has been hell but you gave me the greatest gift and no matter how much you put me through I will always be in debt to you for giving me the gift of becoming a mom. So whatever it is, my focus will be on this baby girl and showing her how strong her mommy is.” I started working when my sweet baby was only 2 months old and built a career while focusing on becoming the best Mom to my daughter that I could be.

After all of this I do have a happy ending I PROMISE! I met my now husband that took in my daughter as his own. Now I have my beautiful 5-year-old miracle baby and now a gorgeous 19-week-old baby girl with only 1 ovary left and a somewhat “normal” pregnancy with taking cancer screenings every 6 months.

Looking back at my story, I still can’t even believe my journey but one thing I know is somehow through it all I was able to keep my faith and strength with God’s mercy and grace. No pregnancy is easy and everyone is fighting a battle during or after a baby, but we are all strong women and no matter what we overcome it for our babies and faith. 



My Path To The Ultimate Victory

January 16, 2018

Written by Rebekah Venturella, guest blogger

I never imagined that my life would endure such a challenge as this. Life certainly has its share of challenges, but infertility was not something I would have ever imagined facing.

My husband and I have trying to get pregnant for almost four years now. We spent 2017 navigating our way through countless Clomid assisted cycles and four round of IUI, sadly, to no avail. Needless to say, it has been the most trying time of my life.

I’m writing this, we started my first round of stimulation medication in preparation for IVF. With so much anticipation built up around the process and the “big scary shots,” when it begins, it feels as though you’re having an out-of-body experience. It’s both real and surreal at the same time.

You’ve walked a long road up to this point, had your share of utter heartache and shattered hopes, and now it comes down to this moment, as you stand preparing the needle and syringe, diligently cleaning the vile for the allotted fifteen seconds, and you can’t help but think, “Is this going to hurt?” “Am I missing something?” “What am I even doing?!” “Has this really become my new reality!?” And ultimately, at a time when you’d rather it not, the one question always in the back of your mind pesters it’s way forward – “ Will it work this time?”

Regardless, you know you’ve got to try, and you know you will keep trying no matter what, because nothing is worth more. So you summon the courage and gently press the needle in, calm yourself when it begins to burn and the feeling of blacking out washes over you like a wave.

Then, it’s over. You’ve done it. You’ve officially stepped into the world of IVF and attained another small victory. Because, when you’ve come to that place in life where you’re forced by disappointment to dream cautiously and shoulder more than your share of pain, it’s all about those small victories that will one day lead to the ultimate victory and turning point in your life. Anyone who’s gone through a similar experience can no doubt relate. However, in spite of the heartache and lingering doubts, my husband and I both are looking forward to the New Year with the anticipation of new life. So, let it begin!

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Staying Humble and Kind

January 11, 2018

Written By: Tonee Cramer, Guest Blogger

When my husband and I married in November 2013, we knew that we wanted a family right away and were hopeful it would happen in the first year. Due to my previous medical issues as a child, my OB wanted to do some further testing. After over a year of tests, charting cycles, surgery to clear out scar tissue, and four rounds of Letrazole, our OB decided it would be best for us to move on to a fertility specialist.

My husband and I both agreed that wasn’t our path and decided to turn to another way of starting a family. We both were doing research on adoptions without the other one knowing! One day we sat down at the dining room table and decided that adoption is our calling from God. We contacted an agency and figured it would take a couple years to adopt a baby but we were willing to wait to our miracle.

In November 2016, we started the process and finally finished with all the paperwork the following January. Our profile was finally ready! Initially, we had two expectant mothers look at our profile but in the end, we weren’t chosen. It was very hard but we kept saying “Our baby is out there. Just be patient.”

On April 25, 2017, we got a call that our profile was shown to an expectant other due in October and we were one of two couples she narrowed down but she would be making her final decision the following day. However, there was a little more to the story! Her support person was her sister who also was expecting and due May 23 – just a short four weeks away! We couldn’t stop smiling and both said “yes, we will adopt that baby who is due in May.”

The next morning our social workers called and said “Well the October mother has chosen you as well. Is that something you want?” My husband and I both knew it would be very challenging but we accepted both babies! We are fortunate enough to have a wonderful support system and knew these babies were meant to be ours. We met both expectant mothers on May 5 and were so excited we couldn’t hold back the smiles.

Our first baby boy was born May 16. We brought him home when he was just 26 hours old! We continued to attend prenatal appointments for the October baby and he was born October 1. If you do the math, that makes our boys just 4 1/2 months apart! It hasn’t been an easy journey but it’s exactly the journey we have wanted. My husband and I work together to care for the babies, and although we aren’t perfect- we try really hard for them! Our saying throughout our entire infertility and adoption process was- always stay humble and kind.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Postpartum Depression Doesn’t Discriminate

January 9, 2018

Written by Tiffany Johnston, WTF Contributor

It’s not far fetched to imagine that when living and breathing infertility you become obsessed about the possibilities and failures. There is little time or energy in your day to focus on what happens after you have the baby. My heart fluctuated between believing that there would be a baby and not wanting to jinx a potential future pregnancy. After our first infertility blessing was born our world was turned upside down. Our birth went nothing like we had planned, our hospital experience was a complete nightmare, and when I finally got to go home my life long desire to breastfeed was blown into a million tiny pieces just weeks after our journey had started.

Every two hours our little one woke wailing, screaming, and crying of hunger as I battled to successfully breastfeed our miracle. In return, he spit up on every non-washable surface, became a cuddle monster that would only be soothed by my mother, and cried every time something didn’t happen right when he wanted. There were moments that I felt as though I had the world’s worst case of buyer’s remorse but I couldn’t tell anyone about it because we had done just about everything possible to (literally) buy this bundle of joy. And yet I pushed, fought, and struggled to breastfeed and for weeks it felt as though I was slowly killing myself. It was my own fault really. I had this standard set for myself. My mother was a lactation consultant and so I grew up believing that breastfeeding was the only true way. It turns out that while my mother and husband hoped that we would be successful at breastfeeding, in the end no one else really cared when everything started unraveling beneath me. In truth, they just wanted the baby and I to be happy and healthy, and at the three week mark that was far from the truth.

It wasn’t long before I had a complete meltdown from a severe lack of sleep. It was inevitable when we fed every two hours and I pumped after every feed not to mention the compounding stress from our son’s lack of weight gain. There were moments that I looked at him with no emotion whatsoever. By the end of week three, my Fibromyalgia was flaring, our son hadn’t gained enough weight to satisfy the doctors and breastfeeding had become painfully unbearable, not to mention the overwhelming emotions that were spinning in my head. Every time he would cry to be fed I broke down into a sopping tear stained mess, just dreading the pain of breastfeeding and the oncoming exhaustion that would directly follow.

It never occurred to me at the time that I had postpartum depression (PPD). If I even began to think about having PPD, I quickly concluded that I wasn’t allowed to have it after infertility. Yes, I wasn’t allowed because I had begged to be a mother. This little miracle wasn’t an “oops” or even a timely planned addition to our family. He was way overdue by the time he did arrive, so much so that we were convinced that he may never show up at all. So how on earth could I then have the feelings that I was having?

After having an epic breakdown and my mother finally telling the first person in 20 years that they were not to continue breastfeeding, we stopped cold turkey and switched to formula. Putting a cold stop to the 2 hour cycle of feedings, completely sleepless nights, and the inability to let someone else feed him. It wasn’t long before the fog slowly began to lift, emotions began to settle, and I eventually began to recognize that I wasn’t in fact ungrateful. I was your average first time mom, that simply had postpartum depression. Even at the darkest times of our infertility struggle it was hard to imagine that being pregnant wouldn’t just solve all our problems, wants and desires. But truth be told I am not convinced that our infertility struggles ever really go away. Our hearts become tender and bruised from one failed round after another and it can put a sour and long lasting taste in your mouth for years whether you ever conceive or not.

So, if and when, you reach the other side of infertility, please remember that if things don’t go your way and the world is slowly becoming a dark and dreary place, please don’t try and cover up your emotions and fears. Know that just because you fought and paid the price many times over to expand your family, PDD doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t pick and choose based on our experiences and it doesn’t care that you fought and suffered time after time. So if you find yourself overwhelmed with PPD after you finally get your miracle, just breathe. It will be okay and just like with infertility, work on one struggle at a time and know that the overwhelming emotions won’t last forever. In fact one of the hardest parts may in fact be simply admitting to yourself that PPD might just be knocking at your door.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Modern Fertility: Exploring Your Fertility

January 4, 2018

What if you could take a preliminary fertility test for a fraction of the cost? We got to chat with Modern Fertility founders, Afton Vechery and Carly Leahy about the test and how it is helping to pave the way for women to take charge of their fertility, whether they are actively trying for a babe or preparing for the future!

1.Tell us about yourselves? How and why did you come up with the test?

Afton & Carly: (A&C): We started Modern Fertility because we heard a lot of buzz (and panic) about fertility—but we had no idea how it applied to us. You could say the company was ‘born’ from Afton’s experience with traditional fertility testing. She wasn’t ready to have kids anytime soon, so when she learned about simple blood tests that were better predictors of fertility than just age, she decided to do the testing. She found a fertility clinic (there less than 500 in the US), went in to take the tests, and was amazed by what she learned about her reproductive timeline. Finally, real data! She appreciated how powerful this information could be for her–yet the numbers in her results were confusing. Then, she got a bill in the mail for $1500. There had to be a better way. And here we are!

2.The Modern Fertility testing almost sounds too good to be true. How does it work?

A&C: We take the same tests offered in top fertility clinics and bring them to women earlier in life. We designed Modern Fertility so you could get all of the latest and greatest scientific research about fertility without poring through papers – we do that for you! We’ve spent thousands of hours working with the top Reproductive Endocrinologists (RE), OB/GYNS, endocrinologists, and primary care doctors–they’ve reviewed every report–and helped us distill the latest clinical research, national guidelines, and clinic information into easy-to-understand reports. We’re working to create a world where instead of “waiting and seeing,” you can better understand your fertile years and plan accordingly.

To get an idea of how it all works, you can view a demo of the test here!

3. What exactly are you testing for?

A&C: We test between 1 and 9 hormones, depending on your birth control. These hormones map to ovarian reserve (a fancy way of saying “how many eggs you have”), ovulation (the process of releasing an egg), and general body functions that have implications for fertility. We test these hormones through a blood test. Currently we have the option for women to swing by a local Quest Diagnostics for their blood test. Soon, we’ll also have the option for women to take the test at home, with a simple finger-prick test.

4.Can Modern Fertility help women who are struggling with infertility?

A&C: Modern Fertility tests are exclusively intended to be used for wellness monitoring and are not intended to diagnose and treat disease or substitute for any physician’s consultation. If you’re actively trying to have children, we recommend consulting with your doctor on the best treatment plan. We provide an easy way for you to download your Modern Fertility raw results to share with your doctor.

5. What other kind of women will benefit from Modern Fertility?

A&C: We started Modern Fertility for women who are not yet ready for kids, but who want information about what’s going on in their bodies today. We have a way to track almost everything in our lives–steps, cholesterol, bank statements and family trees. Something as formative as fertility shouldn’t be a mystery. Women deserve to have this powerful information–and should be able to track it over time in an easy, affordable way.

6. Where do we purchase a test and how much does it cost?

A&C: You can purchase your test today at The test currently costs $159.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

A Different Sort of Resolution

January 1, 2018

Written By: Erin Zemba, Guest Blogger

New Year’s Resolutions are not something I usually set, since it can be so hard to stick to them. I don’t want to let myself down, so why set a goal I won’t achieve? Well, this year, 2018, is different! I have set a resolution to be as healthy as I can in preparation for IVF. I want a BMI under 30 before I start my first cycle.

So why is this year any different? This year, resolutions will be a lot easier to stick to because I will have more than myself to let down if I don’t stick to it. This year, there is much more at stake.

By far, 2017 was not my favorite year. Aside from normal challenges, like car repairs and settling into my career, I also had my second, third, and fourth unsuccessful pregnancies. The first had been at the end of 2016 — after nearly a decade of contraception, almost as soon as we stopped preventing pregnancy, we saw those wonderful two lines! We were scared but excited. Unfortunately, that first pregnancy turned out to be an ectopic. I was followed closely, and it resolved on its own. At the same time, we also found out I have a Unicornuate Uterus and only one connecting fallopian tube. Once I felt recovered, we began trying again in 2017. Soon after we were pregnant again, but the risk of another ectopic made us nervous. The second pregnancy mirrored the first, and with that we had our second loss.. The odds were increasingly against us. While pregnancy losses are incredibly common, multiple subsequent losses decrease the chances of a successful birth.

But hey, third time’s a charm, right? Nope. That time brought a biochemical pregnancy that briefly got our hopes up with a positive pregnancy test, but was over as swiftly as it started. Finally, to cap off 2017, I was pregnant for the fourth time in just thirteen short months. This one seemed right. My hCG was doubling. I had no pain, and for the first time, no spotting! But of course, with my history, my RE wanted an early ultrasound. We awaited it anxiously with cautious optimism, and at 6 weeks, there was nothing to see in my uterus.

Instead, a faint heartbeat flickered in my only fallopian tube. We were whisked away straight to surgery where my only tube and the pregnancy were removed. Although it was sudden, we had also, in a way, spent the year preparing ourselves. Each pregnancy loss had made us a little surer of what we were facing. In a way, it was a relief that it was no longer a suspicion. The surgery had made it concrete: as of November 2017, we can no longer get pregnant naturally. Fortunately, though, we still have a shot through IVF with the help of an awesome team of doctors, nurses, and scientists. So in our case, it’s going to take a village to make a baby.

Here is where my 2018 resolution comes in. By staying true to my resolution, I am on track to have a BMI under 30 by February, and the plan is to start my first IVF cycle as soon as I reach that goal. I am currently at a BMI of 31.5, so reaching 30 corresponds to losing eight pounds over the next two months. With hard work and devotion, I will achieve that goal. Why did I chose 30 as the magic number? It has a lot to do with what my physician has recommended. She explained how the chances of a successful IVF cycle increase with each point off of the BMI. Furthermore, there is extensive research on the success outcomes of IVF with a healthy weight. In fact, one 2015 study states that:

Higher BMI is also associated with negative outcomes for patients undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF). In a study of 233 IVF cycles, a BMI consistent with being overweight (BMI 25–29.9 kg/m2) or obese (BMI???30 kg/m2) was associated with a lower pregnancy rate (23 % and 22 %, respectively) compared with women of a BMI of 20–22.4 kg/m2 (pregnancy rate- 42 %). Similarly, a BMI of???25 kg/m2 has a lower rate of blastocyst formation compared to women with a BMI of <25 kg/m2 (54.9 versus 43.9 %, p?<?0.007).

We are about to invest significantly into this new adventure of IVF — both financially and emotionally — and I want to do what I can to make the odds of success as high as they can be. We hope for the best possible outcomes and I want my resolution  to set us up for success. That’s why this year’s resolution means so much more.

Here’s my plan to make sure I achieve my resolution and with the support of my physician and my family, I am on my way:

  • My physician and I discussed changes to implement at one of my appointments. I am not using any specific diet plan. I plan to achieve this goal by eating healthy, controlling portion size, eliminating consumption of many processed foods, eliminating alcohol, and adding in moderate restorative exercise. I have been using My Fitness Pal to keep track of my calories. I love the feature at the end of the day where it tells me “if everyday were like today, in five weeks, you’d weigh ____.” It is very motivating and inspires my willpower.  
  • I’m getting moderate exercise through walking for 30 to 60 minutes daily, and our dog, Paisley, absolutely loves this! I am also doing yoga. I have found I really enjoy it and feel regenerated afterwards. I have become a fan of “Yoga with Adriene” which is free on YouTube and I recommend her videos. I have decided on walking and yoga since extreme exercise to the point of exhaustion is actually is associated with poorer IVF outcomes.
  • Finally, we have all but eliminated alcohol consumption, since consuming fewer than four units of alcohol a week is also associated with better IVF outcomes.

So, there you have it. It’s one thing to know that these things are healthier for you, but it’s another thing altogether to hear it in the context of IVF. These small lifestyle changes can have an enormous impact on the likelihood of success with IVF, and that can be an incredible motivator. And the benefits are enough for me to schedule my IVF timeline around. All these healthy steps are an important part of reaching my overall fertility goal for 2018. To have a successful pregnancy is a pretty strong motivator!

Cheers (with sparkling water) to a healthy and happy 2018.

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