Monthly Archives

May 2018

Babe In My Belly, Blogs

Waiting To Expect

May 30, 2018

Written by Amy, guest blogger

As I sit here due to turn 40 in a few months’ time, with my bump bumping into my laptop, half a tub of Ben and Jerry’s on the go and newly washed tiny clothes on the dryer, I think about Mother’s Day and that next year, it’s my turn.

After TTC for four years, never having seen a positive test and two rounds of failed IVF (one ICSI), both privately funded, emptying our savings and filling our credit cards, we were one of the lucky ones. Not only did we receive funding for a NHS cycle, but it was successful, and we even have a frostie on the rocks for round two.

Yet, even though I have a 32-week-old bear cub either shadow boxing  in my belly or tap dancing on my bladder, I still feel that if I let myself relax and enjoy this pregnancy, I’ll tempt fate and I’ll be sent to the back of the queue.

After four years of watching everyone pass you by, being told to just relax or other unhelpful unsolicited advice and hearing stories of someone’s uncle’s dog’s cousin tried this and it worked, it gets to the point when you give up and lose a sense of your own purpose.

What started as a fun little project quickly becomes well, not so much fun. The anger, frustration and emptiness take over, you feel numb most of the time, and you barely recognize the happy, relaxed girl starting back at you in your wedding photos. You can’t remember the last time you laughed and something you always assumed was straightforward and totally natural, suddenly is neither.

I involved my family and close friends from the start. I’m not a huge over-sharer and often am very private in my feelings and emotions, but this was like therapy for me. I needed to talk about it to rationalize it and deal with it. Humour always helped too; stories of progesterone suppositories (#FannyBullets) and appointments with dildo-cam being interrupted by fire alarms, kept both my friends amused and me sane.

I lost some friends along the way, the usual story of either me not being able to deal with their success or them not understanding what I was going through. But at the same time, I gained some new friendships and strengthened existing ones, some that I am thankful for every single day, because I couldn’t have got through it without them.

Infertility never leaves you. When you experience it, you lose a part of you that I don’t ever think you regain fully. Yet, I’m proud of my badge and I wear it with pride. I openly talk about our experiences with anyone who will listen and the fact this baby is an IVF baby just blows my mind every day. The more I talk about it, the more people open up to me with their own experiences and if that means one person feels like they’re less alone then that can only be a good thing.

Looking back on my journey, have I enjoyed this pregnancy so far? If I’m brutally honest, and I feel terrible admitting this because I know how lucky I am to get this far, but I haven’t enjoyed much of it. Since the second line showed on the pregnancy test, I skipped the excited part and moved straight onto months of worry and fear. I still expect to see blood every time I go for a pee, and I’m due to give birth in six weeks. That’s what I mean about infertility never leaving you; you’re thankful, but you still expect the worst because that’s what you’ve become used to.

Around week 25 I started to get the fear about our relationship and how we’ll cope with a third wheel. We’d made it to the second trimester and things were a little rosier for me; I had more energy, I was back exercising and we were taki­­­­­ng a few overseas trips. I felt like I had the cake and I was eating it; I was pregnant, and we were still living our lives to the max. Life was great, the due date was far enough way in the future for it to be something we didn’t have to deal with for a while, but close enough to still feel real. Then, during a bout of insomnia, I suddenly realized that in 15 weeks’ time, everything would change. Our wonderfully selfish life of lie ins, brunches, morning exercise classes, holidays and late nights, will be thrown upside down. And suddenly I realized that what I always thought was the hardest bit (getting pregnant) is only the start.

But now safely ensconced in the third trimester, I’m relaxing a bit more and taking every day as it comes. I still haven’t read any books (ignorance is bliss), but we have started practicing hypnobirthing, a few essentials have been bought and we’re trying to delay over-excited grandparents from buying us gifts.

I still have the occasional freak out about how I’ll keep this tiny thing alive once it’s on the other side and how we’ll survive as a couple. But every evening we tell each other this is one day further than we’ve got before, and we tell our baby it’s also one day closer to meeting them.

Above all, what drives me forward, keeping me positive and focused, is the thought of seeing my husband hold our baby for the first time and the look on his face as he meets the baby I’ve grown to love in my belly. That moment when two become three.

Babe In My Belly, Blogs

Channon Rose: Our Fertility Journey

May 21, 2018

Channon Rose and her husband, Travis Dean, have been trying for their baby since 2015. Through years of surgeries, treatments, and a miscarriage, Channon has been open and documented her journey from day 1 through her vlog.

Their journey is raw and real. And we are grateful for the awareness Channon and Travis are bringing to how infertility affects people’s lives. We’ll let her video do the talking! Watch Channon’s video below to hear about their journey from the start!

For a more in-depth look at where they’ve been and where they are at, be sure to check out Channon’s YouTube channel!

 

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

The Waiting and Waiting and Waiting Game

May 15, 2018

By Rachel Roth, guest blogger

When people would find out that we struggled with infertility, two topics were commonly brought up: fertility treatment options and adoption.

My husband and I came to adoption after exhausting our fertility treatment options financially and emotionally. (If you don’t know my story, you can read about it here). We researched agencies and different types of adoptions. Upon choosing an agency, they told us that domestic adoption has an average wait time of one year whereas international adoption can have anywhere from two to five years depending on the country. Since at the time we went through this process we were childless, we decided on domestic infant adoption.

The process began with a lot of paperwork. 75 pages worth. It felt like being back in school with a TON of homework. Then there were physicals. And clearances. And SIX letters of reference. All of that was before we got to the three interviews, which were two hours each. Once accepted into the program, we had to make something called an adoption profile book. It’s like a digital scrapbook for expectant families to look through to get to know you as a family.

Once that was made, we began to wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Does this sound familiar to anyone who has had fertility treatments? That dreaded “two week wait”? You would think we would be MASTERS at this whole waiting thing after just having gone through all of that. Not so much.

When there is an expectant mother/family we might want to show our profile to, our agency will notify us on a private message board online. We get details about the situation and have about 48 hours to pray and think about whether we are ok with the known aspects of the situation – the expectant mom’s medical history, expectant father information (if available), how involved the expectant mom wants to be in the baby’s life, number of visits per year she desires, etc. If we feel comfortable with the information, we tell the agency it is ok to show the expectant family our profile book. However, if we say yes to showing our profile, we are committing before being chosen. If we show our profile and she chooses us, we are expected to move forward. It’s a lot of pressure to make the right decision in 48 hours.

A few weeks ago, we were notified of an expectant family. It was a difficult decision because there were some things in the medical history that concerned us. We ultimately decided that God wanted us to adopt and that meant trusting Him through the process. So we told the agency it was ok to show the family our profile. A few days later I received a phone call I have not gotten in 6 months of waiting: “The birth mother wants to meet you.”

It was a strange feeling – on the one hand it was thrilling to get this far. To know that we were closer to bringing home a sibling for our son. On the other hand, it brought along a whole host of questions and concerns.

What do I wear? I don’t want to show up in my Sunday best, but I’m certainly not showing up in my yoga pants.

What do I say? There are so many aspects of this that are sensitive. I don’t want to say or ask anything that might offend her, but I also don’t want to be dishonest and misrepresent ourselves.

What do I ask? There are a couple of topics that are off limits because of her specific situation.

How do I act? I can feel awkward in certain social situations and this definitely fits that category. We will be sitting in a room with a woman who has a child that we are hoping she allows us to take home to be a part of our family. Oh, and it won’t be just the three of us. It will be the three of us, her mom, the social worker, the pregnancy counselor, and the intern. Just an awesome circle of awkward.

What do I bring? Our agency suggested bringing a gift to her as a way of saying thank you for meeting us. Problem is, we are not the only couple she is meeting. She hasn’t chosen us and may choose the other couple. This is basically just an interview. The agency suggested flowers or candy, but that isn’t us. (I eventually settled on a homemade “thank you” card and a candle of our favorite scent).

Mind you all of these questions came to mind in the 10 seconds I got off the phone with the social worker. The next few days were spent doing research, talking to the social worker, and praying. In the end, I figured it was likely the expectant mom felt as nervous and awkward as I did!

As it turns out, all my questions were moot. I received another phone call that I haven’t ever gotten before: “The birth mother changed her mind. She only wants to meet the other couple.”

My first reaction was “Why? What did we do? What’s wrong with us?” The answer is nothing. We just are not a fit for this expectant mom. It’s not meant to be. And that’s ok.

And so we continue to wait. Wait for another opportunity. Wait for another phone call. Wait to be chosen. Wait for our child.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

From the Pain a Project Is Born – Nine 16 Designs

May 11, 2018

Written by Shannon Hughes, guest blogger

Once upon a time, my husband and I had the conversation about building our family and after about 2 minutes, we decided that it was time to start trying. Little did we know that it was not going to be as fun and stress free as they make it seem. Flash forward 3 years, and there were still no babies in our house. Something wasn’t right.

After several tests, on both our parts, we were diagnosed with infertility and jumped right into this world filled with appointments, medications, ultrasounds, injections, emotions, a lot of questions and A LOT of waiting. At the time, I was working as a nanny, but the appointments and non-stop feeling like crap (no better way to put it) led me to the life of unemployment. I didn’t mind, because all I wanted to do was sleep.

I had been toying around with the idea to start this side hobby of making t-shirts and selling them, just to give me something to do, but mostly to help distract me from the stress of IVF. Once my job transitioned to ‘stay at home wife’, I took the t-shirt biz a little bit more seriously, and decided that if I was going to do this thing, I was going to do it right.

With that decision, Nine 16 Designs was officially launched as an online apparel shop! 9/16 is the date that my bearded hubs and I had our very first date, so we thought it was fitting for the name of our new venture. Also, it made the logo easy to design and just sounded cool.

The first few months of business were pretty lackluster, but it kept me busy. This was something I needed once we got the results from our first round of IVF…negative. The transfer didn’t work. I was devastated…like, couldn’t breath or stop crying kinda vibes. It was a huge blow to our confidence that IVF was going to work. We never had a doubt in the world that it wouldn’t. To make matters worse, they ran some tests afterwards to see if they could find the reason as to why our embryos didn’t implant. The results were even more devastating than the negative BETA results.

They found cancer in my uterine lining. IVF was off the table for a minimum of 6 months, maybe even more. Now what? What am I supposed to do for 6 months, while we work to get my body clear of cancer cells?

I decided that I wasn’t going to just sit around and mope, so I jumped back into the business but this time, I decided that it needed something more. I wanted to DO something more.

I had been trying to think of an organization that we could team up with, to donate a portion of our proceeds to, but nothing was really clicking for me. I wanted it to be a good one, one that I would have a passion for. I didn’t really want to team up with big companies that wouldn’t directly benefit from our donations.

Then one day it hit me.

I had gotten to know SO many individuals struggling with infertility and the number one topic, or cause of stress during this process was money. The cost of fertility treatments is overwhelmingly high. You could buy a brand new car and pay cash for it, then probably buy a few designer purses or Rolexes on top of that. That’s the kind of money that people are dishing out, just for the CHANCE of having a family of their own.

So that was it. I wasn’t going to work with an organization, or any big companies. I was going to work with individual people, and I was going to work with as many of them as possible.

With that, Project 1:8 was created, and I was SO excited about it. We started asking people to share their stories with us, and spread the word. We would choose a couple, or individual, and work with them for a two week time span spreading the word about their story, sharing their pictures, and just letting the world get to know them. Any order that was placed during that two weeks, a portion of the proceeds goes into a pot for the couple to get. We also opened up a direct donation link, for those that didn’t really see anything in the shop that they liked.

When we started, our list of applicants was about 10-15 people. We are now only a few months into it, and our list has grown to over 100! It is our goal to work with every single one of these warriors, and even though what we donate might not be in the thousands, we know that every little bit helps. We’ve helped pay for entire orders of progesterone, we’ve shared the word with friends and families, resulting in large direct donations, and most importantly, we’ve helped get the word out about infertility.

As my husband and I struggle through our own treatments, it has been a very welcomed task to organize and run Project 1:8. We are thrilled to be able to help others who aren’t fortunate enough to have insurance coverage. We are even more excited that we are getting the word out there. I will continue to spread the word, share the love, encourage and support any and all men and women who are going through this extremely difficult time.

At the time this post is being written, we have donated over $2,000 to our applicants, and it is my hope that that number grows exponentially over the next several months.

<3

Want to win some Nine 16 Design swag of your own? Head on over to our Instagram page for your chance to win!

Babe In My Belly, Blogs

Lessons About Love and Loss

May 2, 2018

Written by Sarah Banks, guest blogger

I’ve often wondered how I would tell this story. Where do you even begin, after 10 years of infertility and loss, when the journey is still underway? I can still vividly remember the first miscarriage – it was 2008 and we had just moved to Colorado Springs. I was doubled over in excruciating pain, crying at work. I didn’t know I was pregnant, so I didn’t know what was wrong, and I remember saying to a coworker, “If I didn’t know better I would think this is what a miscarriage feels like.” When the Doctor told me I was pregnant and that I was having a miscarriage, a flood of emotions and thoughts washed over me. Most of all, I felt desperate for this life that I didn’t even know was there before that moment. I immediately loved this child and longed to meet him or her. Now it was all gone. Weeks of tears, waves of sadness and shock, lots of questions, and a lot of guilt came and went during that time. Miscarriages 2, 3 and 4 are more of a blur.

“I’m sorry, it looks like you’ve just rolled snake eyes too many times,” one of the Doctors said to me. Snake eyes? Really? You’re making a craps reference about my fertility? Do people even say that? Apparently they do because I will never un-hear those words being spoken to me.

Over the course of the next 4 years, I saw 3 different Reproductive Endocrinologists in 2 different states. I had every test they offer administered, and re-administered after another couple of miscarriages, only to be told that I’m perfectly healthy and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with me. Except, of course, for the fact that I couldn’t carry a baby past 9 weeks with no medical explanation of why. I think it might have been easier over those years if there was a reason, some kind of medical diagnosis that I could wrap my head around, undergo treatment for….something.

 

Pregnancy #5 is clear, too clear to forget any of the details, much like pregnancy and baby #1. Baby #5 and baby #6 were twins. I hadn’t taken any fertility drugs or undergone any treatment, but I do have twins that run in my family. I was so excited and so hopeful, but I was also cripplingly terrified. My anxiety and panic over something going wrong was almost suffocating. At my 8 week appointment baby A had a heartbeat but baby B did not. I was crushed, but also hopeful for baby A. A week later during ultrasound, baby A no longer had a heartbeat. During those moments I was so angry with myself and my body. It had failed me, yet again, and I didn’t know how to cope with that. I went through a long period of anger and resentment about why this was happening to me. I questioned my faith. I questioned why others could have children but I couldn’t. I questioned the fairness of it all.

I knew it before I even missed my period. After 5 pregnancies I knew my body so well, I knew I was pregnant days before my period was due. My chest was swollen and tender and it hurt to walk around my house without a bra. That was always my first sign of pregnancy. This time, pregnancy #6 and baby #7, felt different. I was nauseous, incredibly tired and I wasn’t as panicked and anxious every waking second of the day. I had a calm and peace about this pregnancy. That whatever was going to happen, was going to happen, regardless of what I did or didn’t do. I travelled to Peru at 8 weeks and rubbed the water at Machu Picchu on my stomach. I prayed, I begged, I bargained for the life of this child, but I maintained a sense of peace like I hadn’t in the pregnancies before.

I remember sitting at the Doctor’s office at week 38 and begging the Doctor to induce labor. I didn’t trust my body, even though my pregnancy had been fine, and I wanted her out. My beautiful miracle daughter was born on November 6, 2014. I have never loved anything or anyone as much as I loved this little girl.

I wanted more children, but I just didn’t know if it was part of the plan for me, and I was ok with that. I didn’t know how much more loss and fear my heart could take. Even before the positive pregnancy test, I knew I was pregnant with baby #8. We were thrilled and hopeful, and the Doctors assured me that after carrying my daughter to term I should absolutely be able to carry another pregnancy to term. But this was just like babies #1-6. I knew it, because I knew my pregnant body too well, and it was a blessing and a curse. After you’ve had as many miscarriages as I have they will see you before the 8 or 12 week mark, so at the 6 week appointment we could clearly see a baby on the ultrasound but I was measuring behind and there was no heartbeat yet. At the 8 week appointment they confirmed that the baby had stopped growing at 6 weeks 1 day. The inevitable conversation with my Doctor followed, “Would you like to do a D&C or try to miscarry naturally?” I’ve had this conversation too many times and I had become numb to it. We lost baby #8 in October 2017, 9 years after this infertility journey began, almost to the day.

As I write this, 15 weeks pregnant with baby #9, I think about the sweet souls in heaven that I’ll never meet. I wonder whether they were girls or boys, what they would have looked like, what they would have become. I wonder if I will tell my children about their brothers and sisters in heaven. This has been a devastating journey filled with too many tears to count and too much hurt to measure, but it has also taught me more lessons about love and loss than I could have ever imagined. I cherish every waking second with my daughter and am hopeful that I will get to meet baby #9 in October.

Infertility is painful beyond words, but I haven’t lost hope. I lost it at times, but I didn’t lose it forever. If I had given up, I never would have become a Mom, and I know that I was meant to be one, to all 9 of these children.

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