Monthly Archives

June 2018

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

C-Section by Choice

June 22, 2018

Written by Michelle Donati-Grayman, guest blogger

I remember the day we found out we were having twins.

I already knew it, as I had a dream in which my late sister told me she’d watch over my babies, and despite being in a dream state, it was undeniably clear that she used the plural, not the singular noun. My wife, who was the only person I shared the dream with, thought I was crazy. Until the nurse performing my vaginal ultrasound confirmed my premonition.


We were overjoyed to be pregnant with multiples, especially after enduring six months of fertility treatment that wasn’t covered by our insurance as a same-sex couple. But we were equally overwhelmed by the notion, knowing that our lives were about to be turned upside down as first-time parents.

My wife deployed with the Air National Guard about two weeks after that first ultrasound, and wouldn’t return until I was 7 months pregnant. Between her absence, and worrying myself silly about the pregnancy, I didn’t give a single thought about delivery until a doctor at my perinatal practice brought it up to me at about 20 weeks.


“If you can deliver them vaginally, it’s best,” he said.

Over the next several appointments, other doctors, all of whom were male, echoed this point. I started talking to other multiple moms and learned that many who hoped for a vaginal birth ended up delivering one of their twins vaginally and the other via cesarean. I hadn’t made a birth plan at this point, but if I did, recovering from both a vaginal birth and cesarean weren’t in it.

At my next appointment, I saw a female obstetrician at the practice, who also happened to be a twin mom. I asked for her opinion on delivery, not only as a medical professional, but also as a mom of multiples.

“You could be a good candidate for a c-section,” she said.

It was the first time I felt like the decision was my own, and that choosing a c-section wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. After doing my research and weighing the pros and cons with my wife, we decided to deliver the twins via c-section, and would only opt for a vaginal birth if the twins decided to come on their own first. I’m not going to lie, the control freak in me liked the thought of selecting the day and time of birth. I requested to be the first delivery of the morning, so the doctor would be rested and fresh, and that’s exactly what I got.

I wasn’t nervous about the procedure itself, but I also I wasn’t prepared for the responses I’d get when I told other women that I would be delivering via c-section. Most women had an opinion about it, ranging from “I’m so sorry” to “You actually chose that?”

I carried the twins for 38.5 weeks until our scheduled delivery date. I was so anxious to meet the two little people that had grown inside me that the procedure didn’t phase me until I was separated from my wife as I was prepped for surgery. Several minutes passed and as soon as I thought they had forgotten about her in the waiting area, she was ushered in and it was go time. About 15 minutes later, our baby boys emerged into the world three minutes apart. As the medical staff worked to put me back together, I got to enjoy several minutes of skin-to-skin time with our twin boys. After, my wife and the twins were taken to recovery area, and I joined them a few minutes later to resume skin-to-skin and start working on breastfeeding.

I was up walking later that evening, and although the first time getting out of bed was pretty painful, it got easier each time I did it. After being discharged from the hospital I followed doctors orders, taking it easy and getting as much rest as possible, which helped to ensure smooth recovery.


It was such a positive experience that when we got pregnant with our youngest son two years later, I opted to deliver via c-section again. Today I’m a mom to three amazing little boys, and I’m proud of the scar that shows where they left one world and entered another.

I’ve never shared my birth story beyond my close friends and family because of the c-section stigma. And while the procedure isn’t for everyone, it was the perfect birth experience for my family. Having a newborn, or newborns, comes with enough stress. The last thing a mother needs is the added stress that comes with feeling judged by the choices we make during one of the most memorable times of our lives.

I have several mom friends who have shared their amazing home birth stories with me. I’ve been in hospital rooms supporting my sister and dear friend as they delivered their precious miracles into the world. These experiences, combined with my own, has convinced me that however you give birth is beautiful.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Two Faint Lines

June 20, 2018

Written by Makayla Andrus, guest blogger

Two pink lines. That’s it. That’s all I wanted. Until I got them (lightly). Then lost them. Then got them again. Then lost them again. Got them again. Then lost them. Got them. Lost them. Got them. Lost them.

Motherhood was always the end goal for me. I’m a total planner, I can’t help it. I decided that April/May would be a great time to have a child, so that’s what we planned. To our excitement we got pregnant right away. Perfect! We were right on schedule. Until we weren’t. The first signs of trouble came during the middle of a lesson to a group of thirty-three six graders. Not the most ideal time for a break down. Well, one miscarriage isn’t uncommon. Everyone said not to worry, it happens to most people. Well the second, third, fourth, and fifth time came around with the heating pads and muscle relaxing cream never leaving my bedside. I Googled every possible reason and analyzed every time I felt overtired, thirsty, or moody (which was all too often during the Clomid months).

We decided it was finally time to meet with a fertility doctor. We spent the next several weeks doing test after test. Finally we had answers as to why we had so many miscarriages. I have a genetic condition called Balanced Translocation. In simple terms, this mean that two chromosomes break off and switch places, resulting in a miscarriage. There is no cure for this, but odds were if we kept trying we would eventually have a child. It was such a relief to finally know the reason why, but the the percentages were not in our favor. Each time we are able to get pregnant we have an 80% chance of having a miscarriage. The only medical option was to do IVF, with only a 20% chance of having 1 healthy embryo to transfer. Since we needed extra testing to make sure the embryo was healthy, IVF would cost around $19,000 with no refund if it was unsuccessful; nevertheless, we decided to give it a try. Two weeks before we were supposed to make our first down payments for IVF, we found out we were pregnant. To our total surprise we were able to carry that child full term. He is the best thing that has ever happened to us.

I know what it feels like to make a dozen cute pregnancy announcements (but never be able to post them), smile through baby showers, and anxiously await those two minutes before you feel confident enough to check for those two little lines. The bathroom floor can feel like the loneliest place. To the women out there who have your favorite ovulation calculator site, single handedly paid for First Response’s corporate bonuses, and downloaded and deleted too many pregnancy apps to count, please know that you are not alone in this trial.

This is the sole reason why we started Declan Roe. We are a children’s clothing/accessory deal website that gives 15% of our profits to families struggling to pay for IVF, adoption, or surrogacy. We have partnered with a non-profit called Bundled Blessings to give our profit to this year. We hope to be able to give to several different non-profits each year as we grow our business. The late nights of writing emails, ordering product, and shipping orders will all be worth it to bring those precious souls to their parents. It’s what drives me to make this business work and that pay day will be worth more than any check. Too many couples know that the costs of infertility treatments are crippling. We are committed to lessening that financial strain and thanks to you, Declan Roe is fulfilling that commitment.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Finally My Father’s Day

June 14, 2018
Written by Matt Martin, guest blogger

 

In 2016, I married the love of my life and best friend. Like many other couples, we planned on starting a family, sooner rather than later. As soon as we got back from our honeymoon, we decided that now was the time to start trying. After a few months of it not being as easy as Teen Mom makes it seem, my wife spoke with her OB. They did some blood work and ultimately found a mass on her brain, which turned out to be non-cancerous, thank God, but it was keeping her hormones slightly out of whack. Once we got that under control, we continued on our path to create a baby.

A couple of more months go by and no baby, so her OB put her on some fertility medication and gave us a strict super romantic (…………..) regimen for baby making. All was unsuccessful. He suggested that, maybe before upping the dosage for my wife’s medication, that I go get checked just to cross that off the list.

I went to a super sterile and cold office one day to deposit my best baby making formula in a cup, never once thinking about the possibility of the outcome. A couple of days later, I got a call from the doctor. There was no sperm in my semen. The one thing that I had to do in this whole process, and it wasn’t happening. I wasn’t going to have kids. I wasn’t going to be able to give my wife the one thing she had always wanted in life.

We both had a weekend of freaking out and drinking our blues away with friends, and then got right back on the road to getting and/or making children. We found out that I was a carrier for the cystic fibrosis gene which created a mutation that caused me to not develop vas deferens, thus trapping my sperm and not giving them a tunnel out.

BUT, there was good news! After a simple (albeit INCREDIBLY PAINFUL) procedure, we could still have kids! They would need to take sperm out of my testicles with needles (yes, they numbed me, and yes I still felt it, and yes I passed out for a few seconds), take eggs from my wife’s ovaries, and combine them in a lab to make our embryos and then transfer the embryo(s) back.

Our first IVF cycle was unsuccessful. We were devastated.  We had such a long road of “no”, we thought that this was going to be our “yes”. We mourned that negative pregnancy test with anger, sadness, and confusion. We prayed to God and looked for answers that we didn’t quite yet have the answers to. We talked for a while and decided that we would do one more cycle and if that didn’t work, we would take a break. We were emotionally exhausted, and my wife was physically exhausted from all of the fertility medication. Our second cycle, we transferred two embryos with the hopes of at least one sticking.

During the transfer we decided to play “Drunk In Love” by Beyonce. She must’ve rubbed the twin magic off on us, because God answered our prayers and I am now the father to the most amazing twin boys, Jack Carson and Cam Dawson. As long as the nights (and days) are, I can’t help but be thankful that we got this far when so many don’t. I am overwhelmingly blessed to get to be the father of these two boys and I can’t wait to see where God leads them in their life.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Sharing Hope for Success

June 11, 2018
Written by Jen Ward, guest blogger
Hope…

I share this story with a desire to provide hope to all the women (and men) out there in the throws of infertility. To give strength during a time that feels hopeless, lonely, and uncertain. During my struggle, I was desperate to connect with others who were going through what I was. I wanted to hear success stories so I knew there was a chance for me. Often times you read the stats, the heartbreak, and how perfect the stars must align to successfully get pregnant it almost feels hopeless.  So here is my story…When I was 17, I was diagnosed with PCOS. I didn’t think much of it at the time other then I had irregular periods, cramps, and small cysts on my ovaries. As I got older, I learned some of the more serious side effects of PCOS, difficulty getting pregnant being the main one. Even with that I still thought ok, maybe it will take some planning but it should be fine. My husband and I tried for a year before we decided to meet with an infertility specialist.  Age was not on our side as I was just about to turn 35…. (the dreaded cut off age they all talk about).

I remember the first visit feeling so overwhelmed. Questions, upon questions, family history, blood work, ultrasounds, financial discussions, testing for my husband etc…. it seemed impossible, yet I was excited to get the ball rolling. Through our testing, we learned that both myself and my husband were the problem and naturally getting pregnant was close to impossible. So this is where we embarked on our infertility journey.

We started with IUI. I should mention that our insurance did not cover infertility at ALL! So every visit, ultrasound, blood work, and follow up were all out-of-pocket costs. Anyone who has been through infertility knows how many times that actually is! Anyway, that’s why we started with IUI using Clomid. The first time I was so hopeful! I remember after thinking “Omg. I could be pregnant!” Every odd feeling, cramp, body ache made me think “Am I preggo?!” That dreaded two week wait felt like 2 years!

Unfortunately we were unsuccessful. We tried 3 more times but each time was a soul crushing “I’m sorry but you’re not pregnant.” We decided to move onto IVF. Before we began however, we had to decide financially how we could do this. We had already spent so much money and time, and IVF was an entirely different ball game. We decided to take out a loan. They worked directly with my doctor’s office. I’ll never forget the conversation my husband and I had. He sat me down one day and said I know you don’t want to think about this, but we have to decide when to stop. How many times can we afford to do this? IVF is not a sure thing and there might come a point when we have to pull the plug and we need to have this conversation now. I lost it. Realistically he was right, but we hadn’t even started and that was a decision I didn’t want to even have to think about making. I would give up everything to have a baby and my husband knew that. I know now, it was his job to stay level headed about our situation, but in that moment I just felt devastation that he would be willing to walk away from having a baby.

Finally, after getting everything together for the loan we were able to begin. I started to feel hopeful again, until I learned the loan did not cover the medications. Anyone who has done IVF knows how expensive those shots are. I broke down for what seemed like the millionth time since I started this journey. Someone happened to see me in the waiting room and approached me. Her brother’s wife had just finished the process and was currently pregnant and didn’t use most of her medication. They ended up selling $10,000 worth of medication to me for $900. They were my guardian angels!! It just happened to work out it was all the stuff I needed.

We could FINALLY begin. The shots every night, the regular ultrasounds, the blood work, etc. Things were looking good, until one day I ended up in the ER with terrible pains in my sides. Turns out I had an obstructing kidney stone that required me to do lithotripsy to remove it. This was unrelated to anything I was doing for IVF but unfortunately I needed to take care of it before I continued my journey. So everything needed to be put on hold until the kidney stone was removed.  Yet again, more bad news and devastation! It’s such a process to get to this point, and now I have to start all over!!

During the wait, it was hard not to be bitter. With every pregnancy announcement, baby shower, birthday party, I found myself falling deeper into depression. My marriage was stressed, my body was failing on me, I was bloated, fat, tired, and consumed with the fear that I would never be a mother. If one more person asked me when I was going to have kids, I might just lose it completely!  I wanted to join the mom club all my friends were a part of!

Fast forward: Kidney stone removed IVF begins again. Things look good. I’m responding well to the medication. They were able to retrieve 12 eggs, 5 of which made it to the blastocyst phase! As I was preparing for my transfer, I couldn’t help to feel plagued with stories that IVF rarely works the first time. I wanted to be hopeful but also realistic. So much was on the line for me as I did not have much money left for another cycle.  The transfer went well, and they sent me away with a good luck, like it’s that simple, and then we enter the dreaded 2 week wait yet again! Each day was longer than the next.  Looking back now I wonder how I didn’t lose my job. I don’t think I focused at work during the entire time I was trying to have a baby!

About 6 days in I decided screw the rules, I’m taking a pregnancy test. It was negative which I expected it would be. The next day I took another one, and I see a verrrry faint second line. I took pics and sent it to my mom just to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. She saw it too! Each day after, the line got a little bit darker. By the time I went for my blood test, the lines where clear as day. PREGNANT! I knew I couldn’t be excited until test results came back. I’ll never forget that day the doctor called: “Congratulations Jennifer, you’re pregnant!” Words I never thought I would hear! We cried, we laughed, we screamed, we called our parents, and then we panicked!

Those first few weeks, I was a ball of emotions. I know what can happen, as much as I wanted to scream it from the rooftops I knew I had to be cautiously optimistic. I literally would go to the bathroom just to make sure I was still pregnant (As weird as that sounds). I had waited for so long for this, and I was so afraid of something bad happening. I’m so happy to say that it did not! I had a beautiful baby boy named Lucas who is now 3. I also have a beautiful baby boy named Dylan who is currently 10 months old that is also an IVF baby from my frozen embryos. They are the loves of my life!

I tell my story because when I was going through this process, I so desperately wanted to hear the success stories. Like I stated earlier you often hear how rare it is that IVF works on the first time. I’m here as proof that it can. It did for me both times!  I realize how blessed I am, and how rare my story is. My babies are miracles and I know that. I also know that so many people out there that struggle with infertility suffer devastating losses along the way. They feel alone, sad, frustrated, and scared. Each story is unique. Sometimes you just need to know you are not alone.  I did not go through half of what so many amazing women go through, but we all share the same ache for a baby. If this can give even one person just a little hope, then writing this was worth it. Sending all my love to all the women waiting for their miracles! It will happen!

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Fat to Fertile

June 6, 2018

Written by Nicola Salmon, guest blogger

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t on a diet. Every positive thing I did for my health (and there were lots) was a weight loss attempt in disguise.

I started a couch to 5K running program and limped round a couple of 10K running events. I tried a shake replacement diet. I went paleo. I brewed and drank disgusting Chinese herbs.

I could go on but I wont bore you.

My life goal was to lose weight. The amount I wanted to lose varied with my waist size as it seemed the more I tried to lose weight, the bigger I became.

I was diagnosed with PCOS at 16 and told I wouldn’t be able to have kids. After doing some research about PCOS, I found information (I have no idea now how reliables my sources were) that suggested that having PCOS meant you were overweight and that it was very difficult to lose that weight.

So that was my story and it became my identity. I was the fat girl with PCOS who couldn’t lose weight.

The problem with that is that in our society being overweight is unacceptable. Being fat is the worst thing you can be and people make awful judgements about you based on this.

People have laughed in my face on the train. One old man stopped me on the street and told me I would be so pretty if I lost weight. And these incidents are a tiny drop in the ocean compared with other abuse fat women have to deal with on a day to day basis.

I dread to think about the amount of my time and energy I have wasted obsessing about what I “couldn’t” eat, feeling guilty about what I did eat, bingeing because I thought I’d fucked it all up then waking up the next day and doing it all over again.

I’ve never been diagnosed with an eating disorder but I know that this is not a healthy way to think about food. My every waking thought was about food – that and how much I hated my body.

So what changed?

One day I realised that I had a choice. I could waste the rest of my life trying to reach the perfect body or I could bin the scales and do something important with my life.

I started small. I stopped weighing myself and vowed to never weight myself again (2 years and still going strong). That number defined me for far too long.

And now I want to help you. There are a million people out there who want to help you lose weight in order to get pregnant. I’m not one of them.

If you are sick of being told that you can’t get pregnant because you are too fat. If you’ve been told you need to lose weight before you can get any medical support then this is for you.

This is NOT a weight loss program. This is a be healthy, get pregnant and f*ck what anyone else thinks about your size program.

And I know this first hand. I got pregnant with both my healthy happy boys easily whilst I was “morbidly obese”

If this is exactly what you need, sign up for the waitlist here.

Nicola Salmon is a gentle warrior for fertility freedom and a proud, fat feminist.

She supports women to reclaim their health and fertility, regardless of age, size, sexuality or ability, using natural medicine, support and virtual hugs. Every woman should have access to fertility support, no matter where her journey has led her in the past.

Her life mission is to change the way that women are supported when they are creating their families. She wants to give every woman the opportunity to embrace their bodies and fertility, messily and without judgement.

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