Monthly Archives

August 2018

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Hope for the Haps

August 17, 2018

Written by Bethany Hapner

Seven years ago my husband and I tied the knot and eventually as all couples do, we wanted to start a family. We waited a year into our marriage, because when we were first married my mother in law who had Alzheimer’s lived with us. Well, one year turned into two and eventually two turned into three, and so on. My husband is paralyzed from the knees down (he can walk with the assistance of leg braces), so we wondered if that was the reason we were unable to get pregnant naturally. We finally met with a fertility Doctor and after many tests, we were basically told our only option was IVF. After looking at the costs (even with our infertility assistance from my husband’s employer’s insurance) it was just to much!

We ended up pursuing embryo adoption. We did 2 rounds of that and both times we got the dreaded call from the doctor that we weren’t successful. We then turned to adoption. We did fundraising, background checks, a home study, basically the whole nine yards.  Then out of the blue we got a call in September from a friend of a friend who said that she was pregnant and wanted to give us her baby girl who was to be born in January. We were SO excited! We had a pink nursery decorated and even a name picked out, Hope Elizabeth. Two months before our baby Hope was to be born, the birth mom dropped communication with us. After some research we think that she had another couple that she had been working with and had been lying to us the entire time. Our hearts were broken. A few months we turned back to our infertility doctor to pursue IVF because we still had money left over from our infertility assistance through our insurance. Turns out our situation improved and we could now try an IUI instead of an IVF (which is MUCH cheaper!). I had my first IUI and I became pregnant for the first time EVER in my whole life! We were SOOOO excited! However at my 10 week ultrasound, the baby (who my 5 year old niece named Chip) was measuring at 8 weeks and there was no heartbeat to be found. I eventually miscarried. Once again we were heart broken. A few months later, we tried another IUI. Five years to the DAY of when our infertility journey started I found out I was pregnant again!!

I was diagnosed with MTHFR after my miscarriage, so my entire pregnancy my husband had to administer two different types of injections daily. I will NOT miss those bum shots!  Then finally on March 2nd, 2018 our little rainbow baby boy Bryce, named after Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, was born! He is an absolute joy and an answer to SO many prayers.

We have a Facebook group called #hopeforthehaps and an IG tag #hopeforthehaps that many people follow and all have enjoyed following us along on our journey.

 

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

We Share in Grief

August 15, 2018

Written by Taylor Fixler

March 27th 2015. We were going out to dinner to celebrate. We were celebrating for two reasons; we celebrate the 27th of every month to honor the day we met, and I was also expecting our first child. We were full of joy and love and were so at peace with our impending title of parents. My husband parked the car in the lot behind the restaurant, we zipped up our coats, and started to walk through the lot. Ten steps from the car I experienced such a great cramp deep in my stomach and I nearly doubled over. My husband turned his head around looking for me when he realized I was behind him. I faked a smile and said I was coming so he wasn’t alarmed but he knew something was wrong. I assured him I was okay and we should keep walking so I can sit down in the restaurant. With every step was more pain and more cramping, my strides getting shorter and slower. My heart raced in fear. At some point we ended up in the restaurant and were seated, but that part I don’t remember clearly. My mind was wandering. I quickly excused myself to the restroom and rushed into a stall. I already knew there was blood. There was so much blood. I kept wiping thinking I could wipe it away and it would stop but it wasn’t stopping. I cleaned up as best I could and went back to see my husband. He had already ordered for us, and through tears and quick breaths I told him we had to go to the hospital. He threw a bunch of cash on the table which I remember thinking was weird because we never have cash. I had hoped the restaurant would understand there was an emergency but we didn’t see our waitress on the way out. We held hands and tried to tell ourselves that some women have spotting throughout their pregnancies and it’s normal. We tried to convince ourselves I was one of those women. We cried and prayed together. I was evaluated and taken for an ultrasound. The sac was empty, my cervix was opening and I was still actively bleeding. The doctor wanted me to follow up with my OBGYN on Monday if I was still bleeding, but said that if I don’t stop bleeding it was most likely a miscarriage. We went home in silence and went to bed. I got up in the middle of the night and walked across the hall into the baby’s room. I sat alone in the rocking chair, sobbed, and let go of my dreams for this child.

 

The next evening we had tickets to the opera Frida in Detroit. I was still bleeding but I thought it might be nice to go out and try to enjoy the night together. Do you know Frida’s story? She suffered a devastating miscarriage represented in her painting seen above “Henry Ford Hospital, 1932.” I was watching my own experience happen on stage in front of a large audience. I cried in my seat feeling so unbelievably connected to a soul I never knew. In her words, “At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.” I’m sure my story is not much different than yours in the end. We share in grief, in sorrow and in hope of the “what ifs.” We long for motherhood but still despise its unfair timing and exclusivity.

We went on to miscarry again twice before discovering I carried the MTHFR (the initials are very fitting!) gene and needed to be on blood thinners to carry a pregnancy to term. We welcomed our rainbow baby, a son, in February of 2017. He is our best friend and the light of our lives.

To the women still grieving, dreaming and longing for their own bundle please know you are not alone. Childlessness is not a visible illness. Please speak up, share your story and find the support you need.

 

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Our Rainbows After Years of Storms

August 13, 2018
Written by Tiffany Johnston

Storms are often full of turmoil, darkness and in the worst cases can leave us grappling with immense loss. However, no matter the final toll of a storm; when the first ray of light breaks through the clouds, there is always a flash of hope and belief that we are headed towards a better and brighter tomorrow, in those moments we often look for a rainbow. Scientifically, in nature a rainbow appears when light and rain come together in harmony. If you think about it, the same might be said for the concept of a rainbow baby; that is a baby born after a pregnancy or infant loss. These blessings often bring beauty (like a rainbow), relief and renewed hope following a storm.

I will be honest when we were in the midst of infertility treatments I really struggled with adopting the term and the dichotomy of the storm and rainbow happening simultaneously. In our six years of marriage my husband and I have weathered two losses and simultaneously had two beautiful infertility rainbow babies. Our first loss was in conjunction with our first successful IUI pregnancy.  Early on my HCG numbers told us we were pregnant with twins but by the time we went in for our ultrasound our second miracle was already fading. In the end we were blessed with our first beautiful baby boy Kian who was brought earthside in 2014. A little over two years later we started our infertility journey again and failed so many rounds of IUI. Until one day we didn’t, I had started a strict regimen of Young Living oils, supplements and antioxidant drinks 30 days before and all of a sudden I knew we were pregnant. I felt it like I had with Kian, every bone in my body knew that we were pregnant. But before we could even go check in at our fertility clinic, I caught an extremely bad case of the flu and in the blink of an eye it was over. Though I did briefly mention our loss in a personal blog post last year, those who did not follow my posts never knew. The whole situation was exhausting, painful and to top it off confusing. For the first time in two years I was pregnant, and it was all erased in the blink of an eye. To be truthful I wasn’t sure that I could handle another storm, this was our second loss since we had started our infertility journey. That was until a friend from Young Living contacted me, she told me that she truly believed that I needed to do try and do one more round. I am glad she was insistent because we got pregnant again with our second rainbow baby Luca.

By this point it was hard to accept the pregnancy with our son Luca, in truth I felt as though the rainbow simply couldn’t erase the storm. I constantly found a loop playing in my head that by accepting this thriving pregnancy it would somehow eclipse the tragedy of our previous pregnancy losses. With each day of our pregnancy there was a constant echo in my heart that wondered if our rainbow baby would ever make it earth side. There was no turning it off, it filled make days and nights with worry and fear for the unknown. Then one day I had an epiphany that each of our losses were with me everyday; that someday I would be with them again, able to touch their skin, hold their hands and whisper how much I love them in their tiny ears. Until that day, Stephen and I would be blessed enough to have their smiling, beautiful brothers that would be our daily reminders of the beauty and blessings in this world. They would be our miracles, light in the darkest of nights, and our rainbows after years of storms.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

The Long Journey to Luca

August 6, 2018
Written by: Kimberly Shanahan
After losing Reagan it was hard to think of anything else. There’s so much that goes through your head constantly. I wanted to focus on something else and was completely distraught with losing her and not having the child we had planned for. Having a baby was still in the cards and the plan was to try again as soon as possible.
Getting pregnant with Reagan wasn’t easy, but I felt with all the knowledge I had gained it should be easier this time. I mean I could literally write a step by step manual on getting pregnant fast and I even did for someone! I was figuring it would be so soon, like an Irish twins type situation.
I pulled out all the stops, tried every silly product, wives tail, you name it in hopes that I could get pregnant ASAP, but it wasn’t happening. So not only being depressed each day from the traumatic experience we had, also finding some hope in another child also felt lost.
Month after month of more disappointment, I started to think maybe there was something wrong with us. Maybe getting pregnant with Reagan was really a luck of the draw situation and maybe I wasn’t going to be so lucky again.
We decided to get tested at a fertility center to check what was holding us back. The good news was we were fine, but it also still felt disheartening that there wasn’t any reason that I shouldn’t be getting pregnant. It just felt time after time we weren’t getting lucky at the chance. The doctor suggested we try IVF and felt confident that it would work for us. We were desperate and would try anything.
Very few people know that we did that. I hate to say that I was embarrassed to talk about it. I felt  ashamed that my body couldn’t do what it was supposed to and when I needed it to the most. But now I see constantly how many people document their journey of IVF on instagram, celebrities like Chrissy  Teigen have no problem talking about it. I mean it’s just science jumping in to help a biological process!  I’m not trying to create an alien baby or something in a lab, science (and a great doctor) is just putting what needs to be done together for us and then we take it from there.
When the process began in December, I could have started a pharmacy in our house from all the medications and needles I now had. We had a whole table set up with needles, alcohol pads, gauze pads and whatever medication didn’t need to  be refrigerated in the nursery. Each time I had to stick myself with a needle, I was doing it in a baby’s room to motivate myself.
I didn’t know quite how IVF worked, but I sure as hell didn’t know it’s still a long process. Since I have never had chicken pox the doctor highly suggested I get vaccinated for it since if I were to somehow get it while pregnant it would be bad for the baby and me. I received the vaccine from CVS, that’s super fun and confusing for the pharmacist to do! Well I didn’t realize that it’s two vaccines. I would need a second one in four weeks. Things were already taking too long for my liking and I signed off with the doctor, against her wishes, forgoing the second vaccine.
For months I was on a strict schedule of injecting myself twice a day, multiple times in one sitting. You needed to do the injections at specific times, which when working nights required Keith to come to my work where I’d run out to his car and shoot up like an addict. I had to inject myself in the stomach, one which looked like an insulin pen, one like a regular vaccine needle and upper glute which looked like a horse tranquilizer. It was terrifying.
The first time I had to inject into my butt with an 18 gauge needle 1.5 inches long, I had a panic attack. It happened multiple times and each time I had to psych myself up to jab myself in a quick motion. I even had Keith do it a couple of times which was just as scary.
I had to get my blood taken every 2-3 days at 6am before work and if you know me I HATE getting my blood taken. I’m on the verge of fainting or vomiting. I’m the person that needs someone else to drive them to get blood taken. I had so many pokes on my arms I looked like I needed to be rehabilitated.
So the point of the injections and pills is to get your hormones where they need to be and get your body to release multiple eggs. They take your blood constantly to check these levels and find out when you ovulate so you can get the procedure to remove whatever eggs your body has made. For some reason you need to take a month of birth control to get your body on a schedule. So that’s another month added on to this. I believe I made it two weeks and had Keith call the doctor to say I’m not doing another two. In her mind a month is nothing, but the way Keith described it to her is the past 10 months of my life have been a jail sentence and she wanted to add more time on it.
About a week after that the injection of all injections happens one night. The trojan horse of injections that primes you for ovulation and the next day you go in to remove the eggs.
So after three months of all this, at the end of February, I had the scheduled date of going in to get the eggs removed. I had no idea how this was to be done or anything about how it works. I’ll forewarn you now if you ever plan on having this procedure done, go into it not knowing anything like I did. I looked into it later and it’s terrifying. It’s like how you wouldn’t want to watch the Lasik video right before you get your eyes lasered.
From what I read online I thought I was gonna get some laughing gas like at the dentist and badda boom eggs retracted. Not the case. I went to a hospital like setting, was on a gurney with an IV of drugs and gas that LL Cool J style knocks you out. Apparently it’s one of anesthetic situations where you don’t think you’re awake or remember anything, but I had a lot to say about Beyonce. Don’t worry all nice things. I figured I was shit talking her since she just had twins, so I made sure.
I had a terrible cough that concerned them while I was under and therefore they had to wake me up
during the procedure. The doctor said she was just about done and asked me if I wanted to continue
still. Not realizing time had passed or anything had happened I said “Sure, you’re already in there why not”
THERE IS A REASON THEY GIVE YOU DRUGS FOR THIS.
*If you don’t want to hear about how the procedure works, politely skip ahead this next paragraph. *
Excuse my non scientific and graphic vocabulary for it, but to remove the eggs they put a very long
hollow needle inside of your uterus, if you understand the female reproductive system you know the ovaries are diagonal from the uterus and needles are straight, well the needle goes straight though the uterus wall to the ovaries and plucks the eggs like little painful daisies. I was awake for about 3 of these plucks. And to have an idea of how long this whole thing took, I had 29 eggs removed. Apparently my cup (ovaries) overflowth with them.
Now that is a unusually large number, to put in perspective research says 15 is optimal. So that can also cause issues with there being too many and then removing too many, ovaries can hyperstimuate which causes fluid to leak into your abdomen and chest. Usually they would create the embroyos and put one back in a week later. Well because of the chance of hyperstimulation they wanted to hold off on that.
I had to once again, continue injections, medications, birth control and getting blood every couple days. The doctor told me all the eggs worked out and we had 29 embroyos. It’s weird to think I could have 29 potential children just waiting.
I was scheduled St. Patricks day to go in and have one lucky embroyo placed. This procedure is much easier and quicker and only requires you having a very full bladder and only about 4 people looking at your crotch. We were given Luca’s first photo. A thousand timed zoom of an embroyo that I held on to dearly. 
We went to get a blood test two weeks later to confirm everything worked, but I of course took a test myself 7 days later so already knew. I had to get blood again every few days to confirm that the hormones were increasing.
I couldn’t imagine a more exciting and terrifying moment. It was so exciting that everything worked and we finally are  able to start again working toward a family, but this time  around we were no longer naive to everything. We knew  things could change at any moment and I felt unlucky like  there was a good chance they could. Especially when the adoption situation didn’t work out, I started to feel like maybe we were meant to have living children. What an awful thing to think and feeling right? Not something a lot of people think when trying to start a family.
We were able to make it the entire 9 months of Luca without telling anyone besides our immediate family and my work. We were given more doctor’s appointments and specialized ultrasounds and towards the end Non Stress Tests twice a week. We also bought a doppler to listen to his heartbeat ourselves, which was terrifying at first when it was harder to find, but ended up helping in dire times.
You would think listed on every record of mine there would be a big alert “LAST CHILD DIED” but that wasn’t usually the case. I had many times people ask if this was our first or mention other things that you think would be more sensitive to someone whose gone through what we have.
I made it appoint as time went on to be very upfront that this isn’t my first rodeo of pregnancy. I know how it goes and I know the worst of it. And I’ll expect the worst of it, so if someone could hold my hand the entire time that would be great. 
We found out somewhere around 24-28 weeks that I had an velamentous cord insertion. Hearing that anything was different was even more scary. The specialist said this is common and no precautions are needed, but it was one more thing to worry about. It basically means that the umbilical cord goes into the membranes first and not the placenta directly so the vessels are unprotected. Just means he could have laid on the vessels and restricted them, NO BIG DEAL.
I had a scheduled induction that I was able to get done at 38 weeks. Those last few weeks were the worst of all. I made sure to ask at every ultrasound where the umbilical cord was, was it in a safe spot? Was it by his neck? At this time last time everything was great and Reagan still died. There never felt like a safe time.
We drove to the hospital November 20th the same way we did June 6th, 2016. Except this time we were more scared. I got hooked up to the machines the same way I did then and held my breath until I heard a heartbeat. I didn’t feel like I was in the clear until I could see him. It didn’t help that he continued to move and the monitors needed to be placed again continuously. I was less drugged this time, but felt even more in a daze that this was happening. He came out the way any alive baby does.. screaming. I was in shock. I didn’t believe any of this was happening. Keith kept telling me we did it, he was here.
Our rainbow baby Luca was born alive November 21st at 12:14am
“A “rainbow baby” is a baby that is born following a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or infant loss.In the real world, a beautiful and bright rainbow follows a storm and gives hope of things getting better.”
Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Anxiety’s Long Road

August 3, 2018

Written by: Marilena Kalfountzos

I never thought it could happen to me.

How could it when it just happened to my sister? And I already had a 15 month old little girl who was a perfect pregnancy. But it happened.

I was 10 weeks and I went to my first ultrasound. The doctor came in happily and asked me how I was feeling. I told her my morning sickness had slowed down and I had been feeling better.  

She started the ultrasound and from the second she put that thing on me… I knew. There was no heartbeat. She called my baby an “blighted ovum”. How awful is that? I was pregnant for 10 weeks. Loving my baby for 10 whole weeks. I made plans… I dreamed of him. I felt like he was a boy. And I was so sad and ashamed. I was ashamed that my body didn’t do what it was supposed to do. And I’m still sad and disappointed.

It took 7 months of trying so hard to get pregnant again. With the help of fertility drugs of course because when it rains it pours. So I was experiencing infertility issues. How? I had already been pregnant! And I had a little girl! 

And 7 months after the most devastating day of my life.. there it was. A positive pregnancy test. Very faint.. but it was there and it was the scariest day of my whole life. And instant anxiety began. It was so strong that some days I honestly thought I might die. I cried so much the days leading up to my first ultrasound because now I knew that a miscarriage doesn’t discriminate. So what that I’d already had one? So what that my sister and my cousin just had one too? You think it cares you got pregnant using fertility drugs? Nope. But we went to the appointment and I was terrified. When the doctor asked me this time how I was feeling.. I said I didn’t know. Even though morning sickness had hit me full force, it didn’t matter.

And there it was. A heartbeat. A growing baby that was only 8 weeks which was a week behind from what she had hoped for but it was just miscalculation of my ovulation date. Thank god. My ultrasound was instant relief until I got home and realized that I can still lose this baby. So my anxiety continued from one appointment to the next… until 15 weeks when I found out that I had an anterior placenta that blocks most of your baby’s movement as they grow. Ha! I did feel flutters early on and it was so beautiful. But after about 20 weeks I had to work so hard to feel anything… and my anxiety reached the roof at that point. How was I going to get through this for 20 more weeks???

But I did. With the help of my fabulous nurses at the hospital and my weekly NSTs (non stress test) I did it.

And he finally came.. After 3 1/2 hours of labor and right on his due date. I have never felt such relief in my whole life. He was finally here after so long of waiting for him. I felt like I had known him for ages. He was so beautiful and he was everything I had wished for. He was healthy and he was here.

I hoped that my anxiety would end there but postpartum depression and anxiety hit me hard. And I was so scared of losing him.

My rainbow is 5 months now. Healthy, happy and mine. I have never felt so much love and appreciation for my children. And blessed that I they’re even here. I never understood how difficult it could be for people to get pregnant or even carry a pregnancy to term until I had to go through it myself.

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