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A Different Kind of Waiting

January 21, 2019

Written by Stacy Noskowicz, Guest Blogger

Sharing my journey has been the best therapy I could provide myself, so when I was given the opportunity to put it down on paper, I knew I had to do it.  Writing is not my thing, but I knew this would help me and potentially others.

I always thought waiting would be a part of our journey, so I tried to prepare myself and my husband for the waiting game we were bound to be a part of.  Many of the woman in my family have had trouble getting pregnant, so naturally I thought I would be next.

Waiting has been and still is a part of our story, but not in the way we expected.

April 28, 2018, our wedding day!  May 1, 2018, our honeymoon begins!  June 1, 2018, if it’s going to take some time to get pregnant, let’s start trying! And that’s exactly what we did.

That first pregnancy test in June was negative, exactly six days before my period was due (the box says you can test up to 6 days early– who can wait?!).  I took a few more pregnancy tests over the next few days, until I finally saw (read: imagined) a very dull, hardly visible second line. I was pregnant. I woke my husband up at 7:15 on a Sunday morning to share the news with him.  He took one look at that pregnancy test, looked at me and said, “Where do you see a 2nd line?”.  I assured him it would become more visible over the next few days.  In typical male fashion, he gave me a kiss, rolled over and went back to sleep.

Full of emotion I didn’t know what to do with myself and decided to go on a long walk through Central Park.  On that walk, I saw more than a few baby strollers and thought, “that’s going to be me in nine months”. Feelings of happiness, excitement and fear ran through my body.  My husband and I went out for breakfast that morning and discussed baby names, logistics (where in our 700-square-foot apartment is this baby going to sleep?), and how we were going to share the news with our families!  My husband started believing that maybe we were pregnant and the excitement was visible. We returned home and there it was … my monthly visitor. I wasn’t pregnant. That was the first of many cries I have experienced throughout our so far eight month journey.

So, life went on with the “we’ll try again next month” mentality.  Next month came, we tried, and it was time to test. This time I had the self-control to wait to test until the night before my period was due.  It was positive. I was pregnant. I decided to wait to test again the next morning before bringing my husband in to it. I woke up the next morning (let’s be honest, I hadn’t slept) and tested again.  There was a clear second line. I was pregnant.

I had big plans of how I would tell my husband, but when he woke up about 20 minutes later, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut for long enough for him to open his eyes. I had to tell him.  Rather than telling him, I showed him. I showed him that VERY POSITIVE pregnancy test and we celebrated, just the two of us.

My gynecologist is not an obstetrician, but had instructed me to call her after my first missed period, at which point she would bring me in for a confirmation ultrasound and refer me to an OB.  At 4 weeks 3 days pregnant we had our first ultrasound. What we saw on that screen was no bigger than a poppy seed, but it was our baby. We couldn’t be more excited. Each week that followed I went in for another ultrasound and my gynecologist said she would refer me out when we could see/hear a heartbeat.  At our 5 week 3 day and 6 week 3 day appointments our poppy seed looked slightly larger– even more excitement! There was no heartbeat yet, but the ultrasound technician assured us that we would see it the following week, “it’s just early” she said.

After our 6 week 3 day ultrasound, we had a trip planned to visit my family in Florida.  It was early, very early– we hadn’t even heard a heartbeat yet– but I wanted to have the opportunity to tell my family in person.  This was going to be my parent’s first grandchild, my grandma’s first great grandchild and the excitement was palpable.

When we returned to our home in New York City, it was time for our 7 week 3 day ultrasound.  (I should mention that many people have asked why I was getting so many ultrasounds and the honest answer is, I don’t know.  This is what my doctor was recommending and I didn’t think much of it). My husband and I could not wait for that appointment.  We were going to get to see our growing baby and hear its heart beat! It was also at that appointment that I lost all my hope. There was no heartbeat and we were once again told, “it’s still early”, let’s draw some blood and see what those numbers look like”.

I went home that night convinced were having a miscarriage and I cried and cried and cried.  My husband didn’t really understand me jumping to conclusions, but I’ve heard it said before, and it is so true, woman know their bodies.  The fetus was measuring behind based on my last period and there was no heartbeat at 7 weeks 3 days. Google, both your best friend and worst enemy, was pointing to a miscarriage too.  The next day, my phone rang at 9:15pm and it was my doctor. My HCG levels had increased, but not nearly as much as they should have. She was confirming what I already knew, but recommended I have another ultrasound that Monday (4 days later) to confirm what we were suspecting.

We had a wedding to attend that weekend.  We tried to put a smile on our faces, but we were counting down the hours until our appointment on Monday.  It was finally time. I informed the ultrasound technician that we were just there to confirm there was no heartbeat, so she knew she wasn’t breaking the terrible news to us.  Before starting the test, she informed us that she could not tell us anything, but she would bring a radiologist in afterwards to review the results. The ultrasound was taking what felt like forever and the ultrasound technician said “I want to bring the doctor in while I scan you”.  In walked a radiologist who introduced herself to myself and my husband and then became glued to the screen.

The next thing I heard her say plays over and over in my head to this day, “ok, now go to the other one”.  The other one? I sat up as much as one can while undergoing a transvaginal ultrasound and said “I’m sorry, but what did you just say”.  She looked at me and said “I’m thinking you are pregnant with twins, but please let me finish and we will go over everything”.

When the test was finished, she sat me up and the scariest conversation of our lives began.  “What I am seeing on the ultrasound are monochromatic/monoambionic twins, also known as momo twins, or identical twins in the same sac.  This means they are sharing space and nutrients and this is going to be a VERY high risk pregnancy”. She asked for my doctors information so she could call her right away and instructed me to head to my doctor’s office (this ultrasound was completed at an imaging center).  My husband and I Googled during the entire 10-minute talk to my doctor’s office and what we were finding was even scarier than we thought: bed rest in the hospital at 25 weeks, C-section at 32 weeks, cord compression, twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, birth defects, lower than normal survival rate, a long NICU stay.  I didn’t need to read anymore. Again, Google can be your best friend or your worst enemy. At that moment, we were not a big fan of Google.

When we arrived at my doctor’s office, she tried to reassure us and referred us to a high-risk OB.  I could barely get out of her office before I was on the phone making an appointment with the high-risk doctor.  Our appointment was 48 hours later, possibly the longest 48 hours of our lives thus far. I was half excited and half nervous, but 100% ready to make a plan and set us up on the best possible path we could take to TWO healthy babies.  Forty-eight hours finally passed and we were ready for yet another ultrasound. The ultrasound technician did her thing and called in a doctor. The doctor walked in and asked me a few questions, which had me suspicious, and I finally asked (maybe screamed), “what is going on??”.  She informed us there was no heartbeat, or no viable heartbeat at least. A possible 60bpm heartbeat, but not a healthy one. How could this be … Weren’t we just in this same position (with the exception of the possibility of twins) one week ago? Why did I have to be told TWICE that there was no heartbeat?  Why did it feel like we experiencing 2 miscarriages in one week? What do we do now?

The high-risk doctor gave us a few options and told us to sleep on it.  I could be scheduled for a D and C or I could be prescribed a pill that would help my body pass this pregnancy on it’s own.  I didn’t want either of those options, I wanted a baby.

We went home and talked about where to go from here.  The following weekend was Labor Day Weekend, and we decided that I would take the pill at home and give myself the three days to recover, both mentally and physically.  I called my doctor and asked her to prescribe the pill. She called back a day later (Saturday night at 7pm) and informed us she was not satisfied with how the high risk doctor had written her note and was therefore not convinced this was a miscarriage, considering the 60bpm heartbeat they noted.  She wanted to scan me again (?!) before she felt comfortable prescribing. I will never forget how she said it. She said “if you want to terminate this pregnancy I can prescribe, but I recommend you come in for an ultrasound”. If I want to terminate this pregnancy? I want nothing more than for this to be a healthy pregnancy and to hold my baby in 9 months.  I couldn’t shake those words and had to have an ultrasound before proceeding.

It was the Tuesday after Labor Day and I was at my doctor’s office at 7am for yet another ultrasound.  As we suspected, the ultrasound showed no heartbeat and it was clear the fetus had stopped growing. There was a weird sense of relief, like we could finally move on.

My husband and I took that day off of work so I can take the medicine to help pass the pregnancy and he would be by my side the whole time.  I went home and took the first dose and waited, and waited and waited. Four hours later, I was instructed to take a second dose in the slim chance nothing had happened yet (and up to one more dose after that for a total of 3 doses).  So dose 2 went in and we waited and waited and waited. Nothing. Dose 3 went in and we waited and waited and waited. Nothing. I was in contact via text message with my doctor throughout the day and she told me to see what happens overnight.  Nothing.

I went to work the next day and the doctor wanted to see me to confirm it hadn’t passed.  Again, insert Google, which had prepared me for intense cramping and bleeding, none of which I had experienced.  I knew there was no way it had passed. So 2 days later I was in her office for another ultrasound and there was our answer in plain sight on the screen.  She recommended a different medication, followed by the same one I had taken a couple days earlier. FINALLY, on September 7th the pregnancy passed.  It was more than an emotional day.  In fact, I thought I was done crying about it, but here I am crying as I type this.  For me, the mental pain was worse than the physical pain.

My period returned about a month later, and I could not have been more excited.  We could start trying again! However, we were once again told we had to wait. We had to wait for my HCG levels to bottom out before it was safe to start trying.  Weeks went by with many blood draws and my levels were dropping ever so slowly, until couple months later, I finally got that 0 I had been waiting for. We were given the all clear to start trying, and that is exactly what we did.

So here we are, 8 months after this journey began, still waiting for our bundle of joy.  Somehow I have stayed positive through most of this experience. I know our rainbow will come when the time is right, but I never imagined how hard waiting would be.  It was not the kind of waiting I thought we would experience. One thing that has never changed throughout this whole journey has been my belief that whatever happens, it will be WORTH THE WAIT!

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

And Baby Makes Three

November 9, 2018

“When I found out I was pregnant my roommate made a joke that she thought I was and I told her she was crazy. I ran across the street to Walmart grabbed a test, came right back, and it was positive. I could not believe it. So I went to urgent care and had a ultrasound done, and there sure was a little peanut growing in there! 

Not long after becoming pregnant, I also found out that Grant’s bio dad was going away for a while and I already had my two and a half year old daughter Kaydence who I raised by myself.  I was terrified, nervous, scared, and emotional. How could I possibly raise another baby by myself? Was Grant’s bio dad ever going to be around?

My life at the time was a bit chaotic. I was living with a close friend, her husband, and their 5 kids. I just started a new job making $9.00 an hour and had picked up a night job to make extra money to save up and move out. Last but not least, I just started talking to someone new. 

My roommate and I started going over ideas on what I was going to do. No way I could ever go through with an abortion! Only two options left…keep the baby or look into an adoption.” 

-Grant’s Birth Mom, Jessica 

Personally, I talk about adoption all the time because it’s been such a beautiful gift for our entire family. I am always happy to answer adoption questions from other moms at the park, friends on social media, and even strangers in line at the grocery store. But when I talk about adoption or answer these questions, I’m only speaking for myself and my husband…what we went through, how it made us feel and why we chose this path. And that’s just 1/3 of the story.

The whole story belongs to 3 groups of people: Gabe and I as the adoptive parents; Jessica, our birth mom; and most importantly our adoptee, Grant. Our lives are forever joined as immediate members of an adoption family and that’s called the Adoption Triad.

We are so lucky to know our birth mom because that’s not always the case. And we are so lucky to have a great relationship with her…again not always the case. So I’m taking every opportunity to learn more about “Mama Jess” as we affectionately call her, who she was, who she is, and what lead her to us and why! Someday Grant will want answers to the questions and it’s a relief to have them for him.

I feel compelled to share parts of Jess’ story with you all (with her permission) because her voice in our journey is so important. From the first time I spoke to Jess she always made it clear to me that she was giving us Grant because she loves him, not because she doesn’t. Jess put Grant’s needs above her own in the most selfless of all acts. I mean, isn’t that the true definition of a MOTHER?! She is a beacon of light and a solid role model for other birth moms and potential birth moms that may need support in a scary and confusing time. The fact that Jess is so willing and open and honest makes me love her even more. We actually talked about writing a book together someday…ya never know?

I did not give birth to Grant, yet I will always be his Mother. The one who comforts him when he cries, the one who rocks him when he’s sick, the one who soothes him when his heart aches. I also get to see his bright blue eyes shine like the sun when he smiles, hear his infectious giggle fill our home and feel his warm hands reach around my neck for a hug.

Jessica gave me that.

She gave me all of that and more when she entrusted Gabe and I with this precious little life. I will never ever in my whole life be able to repay her or even properly thank her for giving me the gift of Grant.  But what I will do is keep Jessica present in our boy’s heart and mind and soul so that he knows that he always has the love of his TWO moms.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Paying Tribute to the NICU

September 18, 2018

Written by Nadine Bubeck, guest blogger

September is NICU Awareness Month. As I look at my thriving five-year-old first born, I can still vividly remember him arriving 6 weeks early after quite a rough pregnancy. He was born via C-section a perfect 4 pounds 11 ounces– my little doll. I thought I was going to break him, …but babies are resilient.

I’m very thankful our NICU stay didn’t exceed 7 nights- many babies spend weeks and months in the NICU. However, those seven nights did, in fact, take an emotional toll on me.

We’re all under the “social media perception” that pregnancy and birth is supposed to be perfect- just look at Facebook and Instagram…flawless pregnant bellies trace our feed. However, many of us have bumpy journeys to mommyhood; but I’ve learned firsthand: even a bumpy journey can be a beautiful experience.

I’m all about preserving memories, giving back, and honoring my initial crazy path to motherhood. Here are ways NICU families can pay tribute to their experience.

1. Wear it

I was so overcome with the magnitude of motherhood, that I founded Mama B. Designs, a boutique apparel company aimed at stylishly spreading prematurity awareness. I want to teach my boys to find and fulfill a passion, as well as pay it forward; hence, why I created inspirational, playful and meaningful tops with a mission in mind: buy a shirt, believe in miracles. 50% of each item from our Miracle Line benefits March of Dimes, the foundation that funds lifesaving research and programs working to end premature birth. Coupon code NICU10 for 10% off.

 

2. Snuggle it

Recently came across a mom-owned shop that preserves newborn swaddles and clothes- creating snuggly mementos like stuffed animals and pillows out of your beloved baby things. It’s called Stitches by Natalie, and her creations are a great way to “save” all your preemie stuff. I sent her one of Nicholas’ NICU swaddle blankets and a preemie onesie, and she made an adorable stuffed bear (out of the blanket!) wearing his onesie. She also stitched his name, birthday and birth stats on the teddy. Coupon code NICU10 for 10% off.

 

3. Remember it

As moms, we’re all about wearing our child’s name around our neck, whether it be a charm or bar necklace… but instead of a name or initial, consider getting your child’s unique footprint embedded on a 14K white gold, rose gold or yellow gold pendant. Matanai Jewelry makes every piece made to order- with your children’s hand or footprints on the front, and a small text on the back. It’s a lovely way to capture your child’s teeny tiny and super special prints, and wear them on your heart. If you don’t have clear photos of your baby’s footprints, they can send you a print kit. Coupon code NICU10 for 10% off.

 

4. Pay it forward

Join the Twenty-Five and Four movement. Created by a mom of a micro preemie, this non profit creates shirts that fit babies as small as one pound. Become a sewer and help make these sweetly sized shirts that comfortably wrap around wires for NICU babies. And the best part… theshirts are shipped for FREE to NICUs- you can even request them via their website! Put your free time to use, sew, and feel fulfilled knowing a little baby is being cutely clothed, thanks to you.

 

5. Educate yourself, and others

Woombie Med Pods are starting to be adopted at hospitals nationwide, and with your help spreading the word, more hospitals will learn they are available. The Pods are the first and only 360-degree swaddle that works around medical devices for hospitalized infants. The innovative designs allow for every neonate and infant to be swaddled as swaddling provides comfort, flexion, thermoregulation and promotes healthy attachment and improves psychosocial care. Woombie Med Pods hope to reduce trauma from hospitalization. 

 

Nadine Bubeck is a TV personality, fashion designer, author, blogger, and blessed boy mom times three. 

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Dear Baby

September 11, 2018

Written By, Katherine Goodman

Dear Baby,

I thought I had it all figured out. I knew exactly what would happen. After being married for 2 years, we would have you, and then every 18-24 months, I’d have another baby, and we’d complete our family with probably 4 children, before I turned 30 years old. You would have dark hair, your dad’s olive skin, my big smile, light brown eyes, and a butt chin (that your dad and I both have). I was in my young 20’s when I made this plan and didn’t realize, sometimes life doesn’t go the way you think it will.

I remember coming off of birth control around my 2 year anniversary mark, as promised, and assuming I was already pregnant. I cried to your dad, ‘Oh my gosh. I am probably pregnant! What if I am not actually ready for this afterall?!’ And then I was incredibly shocked when I ended up not being pregnant, again and again, and again. That’s okay. I was still young and we weren’t actively trying, so no big deal – I knew it would happen soon enough.

After 1 year of not trying, but not preventing, I grew worried. All of your aunts and uncles, and grandparents, and my cousins, conceived so easily.  I went into my doctor’s office, and was given the basics on when to properly time everything to try to get pregnant. Your dad and I tried that for another year with no pregnancy.

We were a few years in at this point and you still showed no inkling of coming any time soon. I tried every diet. I lost a bunch of weight. I bought all the proper vitamins. I went to the doctor again and this time I had blood work done on me, and we had your dad checked for some things too. Your dad came back fine but I was told my progesterone was a little low. I was instructed to try taking clomid.

I remember swallowing that pill for the first time and having a similar reaction to when I came off birth control years before, ‘I can’t believe it. This pill is going to get pregnant. And on the first month too!’ But it didn’t work. We tried for 3 months with clomid and nothing came of it (except for me being really grumpy, and having a lot of headaches).

The doctor recommended we move onto inuterine insemination (IUI). Okay – so THIS TIME. Definitely this time. I just KNEW it would work on the first try. My hormones were perfect. Dad’s sample was perfect. I had 3 perfectly sized follicles growing. I left the doctors office that day and wrote a letter to you about how the procedure went, etc. etc. And then… not pregnant. We tried a 2nd IUI and still, not even a whisper of a pregnancy. My doctor said there was no reason that I wasn’t getting pregnant and labeled me as UNEXPLAINED INFERTILITY.

At this point, I figured the problem was my doctors office and we consulted with several new doctors (one doctor told me to keep trying IUI’s – fired; another doctor attempted a min-stim IVF but monitored my hormones so poorly that there was no way I could have ever become pregnant – fired). Finally, we found a clinic that we felt confident would help us find you.

We had wonderful family members and friends who helped us save for this expensive treatment. We attempted an IVF through this new clinic. This time, I was not confident like I had been in the past, especially when they told me my embryos were poor quality. 6 years of failed treatments taught me that it hurts too much to get my hopes up. And so this time, especially when I felt no symptoms, I was positive I was NOT pregnant. And then I got the phone call from the doctor’s office. The nurse surprised me when she said, “You’re pregnant!” Tears filled my eyes. Finally. FINALLY. We were going to have our baby. However, my HCG # was low at 21, which wasn’t a great sign. I still felt hopeful, and surprised your dad (even though he knew we’d get the results that day) with a baby onesie. My numbers continued to rise, but over the next couple weeks, I began bleeding. We went in for our 6 week ultrasound, terrified. We could see on the monitor that I had lost the baby. We were crushed. Your dad and I cried into each others arms for many, many nights.

A year passed and my doctor said he suspected I had endometriosis. I went in for surgery to diagnose and clear out scar tissue and the doctor told me, not only did I have endometriosis, but that it was stage 4, all over my insides. He cleared it out and then put me on a drug called Depot Lupron to treat any endometriosis he couldn’t reach. I took the medication for 3 months. We attempted IVF a 2nd time, and were able to fund it thanks to some very kind and generous friends who offered to pay for our medication. Luckily, my egg quality looked so much better. This would be it. All this work. All these years. It came down to this. I waited the 10 days and received the highly anticipated phone call, “You’re pregnant… but your number is low… just like last time.” An HCG over 5 is considered pregnant (though, generally, over 50 is considered a good sign). My number was a 5.1. I begged the nurse to let me quit the meds but she told me to continue. So I did. Maybe we’d receive a miracle. I read of a lot of miracles on the internet. Maybe I’d be so lucky too. My numbers increased for a week, and then plummeted. I miscarried again.

My doctor tested me for a gene mutation MTHFR (which not only did I test positive for, but so did your dad!). We tweaked our vitamins (taking folate instead of folic acid, adding in special b-vitamins, and baby aspirin), and we also tested me for elevated Natural Killer Cells, which I also tested positive for (some say that elevated NKC can cause miscarriage). I didn’t think I could handle another IVF/miscarriage, especially with the hole it was burning in my pocket, but with all these answers, your dad and I said we would give it one last try. At that same time, your dad and I entered an IVF Giveaway and were one of the 7 lucky couples who won. We had to pay for the pricey medication so it took a long time before we were ready to proceed with our final IVF attempt. But we did. We were scared. It had been 9 years of trying to have you. Once again, even after all the attempts to improve egg quality, my egg quality was worse than ever. But we had 1 embryo that fought so hard and it was good enough to transfer (with an additional embryo that was only so-so). The doctor transferred both embryos and once again, we had to wait the dreaded 10 days to see if we were pregnant. I started an intralipid treatment to try to suppress my immunity from miscarriage. The clinic called me on that 10th day and said, “You’re pregnant… but your number is low.” No. No. NO. This time my HCG was at a 38. Better than I’ve ever had, but still low. However, they monitored me for another 2 weeks and my numbers rose beautifully. I hesitantly allowed myself to think, maybe, just maybe, this time it would work.

The morning of our 6 week ultrasound, I began bleeding, as soon as I entered the doctors office. I began hyperventilating and the ultrasound showed a pregnancy, but no heartbeat. I prayed that the bleeding was nothing to worry myself with, but the doctor confirmed, our baby died. Not only had the baby died, but they recommended I do an immediate D&C so that they could take the pregnancy tissue from inside me and test the baby for chromosomal abnormalities (since we had never tested our embryos to see if they were chromosomally normal or not). They worried that if I waited, that I would pass the baby at home, and then I’d never have answers on the health of the baby. I agreed to do the surgery that same day. It was one of the hardest days of my life. At home that night, I sobbed. I had thought it was finally time to grow our family and the reality of knowing it still wasn’t time, crushed me.

We found out later, the baby we lost was a boy, and also chromosomally normal.

So. It’s been 10 years now. Our doctor has recommended we don’t use my eggs for another IVF so we are debating using donor eggs, or trying an embryo adoption, adoption, or foster care. Though we have grieved so much over our losses over the years, we have learned even more that we still want YOU. You weren’t one of the babies we lost, however, you’ve been with us the entire time. I have felt your heart and your spirit surround us, when we have endured some of our saddest moments. One time, during my first yoga class after my miscarriage, in the final pose, I lay down and had my hands resting open beside me and I could have sworn, there was a small hand settled within my hand.

We know you’ll come to us at the right time, and in a specific way. Your story has already begun and you haven’t even been created yet. When you are finally in our arms, I can promise you, it will be the happiest day of our lives. I have no idea what you’ll end up looking like, but I feel confident (this time I really mean it) that I will recognize your heart and spirit when I see you for the first time. Thank you for being with us, and for being patient as we walk this path. The pain of the past, will all be worth it, when we stare into YOUR unique, beautiful face. You’ve taught me that timing is everything, to be kind to others because we’re all fighting a battle, to be patient because good things are coming, and to enjoy each and every day since they are all a gift.

Even still.

You are so totally grounded for making us wait this long. I am kidding, of course. But please come to us soon. I can’t wait to kiss your cheeks, stare into your eyes, give my entire heart to you, and watch you experience life. From now, until my dying day, I will be thinking of you always.

With Love,

Your mama

 

 

 

Learn more about Katherine on her

YouTube Channel 

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Did Someone Say Diaper Duty?

June 15, 2018

Written By, Alexis DelChiaro

I don’t wanna be a bragger, but I’m kind of a diaper changing expert. I mean, if you think about it between Grant and Gigi in the last two years I’ve changed roughly 10,000 diapers.

I think that qualifies me as an expert, right?! So I was pumped when Happy Little Camper Baby gave me some diapers and wipes to try out and now I’m hooked! Let me tell ya why.

First off it’s a monthly subscription box that’s delivered right to my doorstep, saving me time and money. Then the diapers are super soft and comfy but also ultra-absorbent for bigger messes. And most importantly Happy Little Camper Baby products are natural made from soft, gentle and clean ingredients. I’m talking ZERO harmful chemicals go into the stuff that touches my babies precious skin and I feel great knowing I’m giving them the absolute best diapers on the market.

Plus when you’re trying for a baby, ditching all those products with harmful chemicals is an absolute must to increase your fertility! So why not do the same once your precious babe arrives?

Want to try Happy Little Camper Baby for yourself! Use the promo code HLCMOM20 ar check out HERE to get $20 off your first monthly box subscription. That way next time you’re elbow deep in a diaper change, you can think of me.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes

October 25, 2017

Going through the ups and downs of infertility (mainly downs if we’re being honest) is no small feat. So if you’ve got a friend who’s struggling to conceive and you’re wondering should I reach out? The answer is YES! Without a doubt! There’s nothing better than knowing you’re not alone especially when times are tough. A phone call, coffee date or thoughtful little gift may be just what the doctor ordered to brighten her day.

Our friends at our new fav online boutique www.shopbrookelindsay.com put together a comforting, uplifting gift guide for your TTC gal pal because, trust us, she could use a pick me!

 

Whether she’s given up all carbs completely or she’s exclusively eating chocolate these days, food related gifts are always a good idea. Take your favorite comfort food to the next level with this lavender sea salt. 

When in doubt, soak it out! These yummy sugar scrubs in a nice relaxing bubble bath will leave her feeling soft and oh so fresh – plus the scent smells like fresh baked cookies!

Our tassel pom pom throw in rosè is the perfect comfy blanket for the babe who deserves some serious cuddles, couch time and  a Netflix binge session!

 

A cup of tea really does make everything better. Share a consoling cuppa with your Best-Tea

A dream is a wish your heart makes. Package one of our wish gift tags with a hand carved heart shape bowl to remind her that she is loved!

The perfect refresh for a post infertility treatment. A quick spritz of rosewater mist can instantly lift spirits!

Our set of four stemless wine glasses is the perfect ‘Girl, I got you’ gift. Pair with her favorite vino and lotsa girl talk.

 

shopbrookelindsay.com is an online store featuring unique giftables, specialized beauty and delicate jewelry. WTF readers can enjoy 25% off any Shop Brooke Lindsay products! Use code WTF at checkout.

 

 

Babe In My Arms, Blogs, Uncategorized

Understanding Post Partum Depression

August 21, 2017

•By Dr. Kendra Segura, Guest Blogger

The birth of a baby is a time of joy and precious memories. For some women, however, it can be anything but joyous; instead it is filled with self-doubt, and overwhelming guilt.

Unfortunately, it is still shameful, these days, for a mother to admit feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or irritated, following the birth of their child; and they feel too ashamed to ask for help. After all, a “good mother” is expected to be completely selfless, and have no other feelings except joy and love for their child. But with postpartum depression affecting 10% of mothers, it can no longer stay a shameful secret. We have to get the word out, to ensure those good mothers get the help they need.

The importance of awareness
It is encouraging to see more and more celebrities coming out and saying, “Hey! I am having a hard time adjusting, and I need help”; among them are Brook Shields, Kendra Wilkinson, and more recently Chrissy Teigan who stated — “It does not discriminate. I couldn’t control it. And that’s part of the reason it took me so long to speak up.” This is great, because it helps to bring about awareness to the disease. More awareness not only helps patients, but also the medical professional. Physician offices are now becoming more equipped to detect and treat post-partum depression. Most physicians administer a survey at the 6 weeks post-partum visit to screen for depression. On the same note, health care providers are taking more initiative on identifying patients that are feeling overwhelmed, and many schedule closer follow-up, as early as 2 weeks post-partum, instead of only at 6 weeks, depending on their patient’s risk factors. All of this is a great start, but more awareness is needed so that, hopefully, one day, no mother will feel ashamed about asking for help.

What’s normal?
So, is it normal to feel depressed or to have “the blues” after giving birth? Yes, it is. Normal physiologic changes in the mother, after the birth of a child, can simulate symptoms of depression, such as changes in sleep pattern, energy level, or appetite. A benign condition that many are familiar with is postpartum blues, which occurs 2-3 days after childbirth, and resolves within 2 weeks’ time without intervention. And that is one big difference between postpartum depression, and postpartum blues – postpartum blues resolves on its own; so if symptoms last for more than 2 weeks, doctors often begin suspecting postpartum depression.

Symptoms of postpartum depression
Besides feeling depressed, anxious, or upset, mothers suffering from post-partum depression may feel angry with the new baby, their partners, or their other children. They also may: cry for no clear reason; have trouble sleeping, eating, and making choices; question whether they can handle caring for a baby. The manifestations of the disease that make the news, of course, are the extreme cases where the patient harms themselves or the infant due to suicidality or associated psychosis, but these cases are far and few between. Many patients with postpartum depression have debilitating symptoms, but suicide or infanticide is very rare.

How is postpartum depression diagnosed?
Postpartum depression is a clinical diagnosis – meaning there is no fancy, million dollar test for the diagnosis; your doctor may order some lab tests to rule out other possible medical problems, but, really, the diagnosis of postpartum depression is based on the doctor’s careful assessment. Besides asking about some of the above-mentioned manifestations of the disease, physicians will often focus on the timing of symptoms. Postpartum depression can occur up to 1 year after having a baby, but it most commonly starts about 1-3 weeks after childbirth. As mentioned before, symptoms that resolve on their own, within a couple of weeks, are usually of no concern. Besides the timing of symptoms, the severity of symptoms can also help doctors make the diagnosis. Women with postpartum depression can have INTENSE feelings of sadness, anxiety, or despair that prevent them from being able to do their daily tasks. Keeping a log or diary of your symptoms can help your doctor diagnose or rule-out postpartum depression.

What causes postpartum depression?
It is still, unfortunately, not entirely clear what exactly causes postpartum depression (another reason for more awareness!!). What we think right now is that postpartum depression is caused by a combination of factors – “the perfect storm” of a sudden drop in the level of hormones (estrogen and progesterone), combined with common stressors surrounding pregnancy and delivery. One common physiologic stressor that seems to increases the risk of postpartum depression is a lack of sleep. Social stressors also increase the chance for postpartum depression, and these include: a lack of a support system, stressful life event (recent death of loved one, a family illness, etc.), a major lifestyle change (moving to new city, change of job). A history of depression itself is also a risk factor for developing postpartum depression. There is also some evidence that postpartum depression can have a genetic component to it (meaning, some people may inherit a higher risk of developing the disease). As an example, there have been studies that show siblings of postpartum depression patients tend to have a higher chance of getting the disease as well.

What is the treatment?
The very first step of treatment is getting help right when you need it. You do not need to wait for your 6 weeks’ post-partum visit to get help. Even if you don’t think you have a problem, if your significant other or family members are concerned about your mental health, get help ASAP.

Treatment may involve “Talk therapy” (psychotherapy), one-on-one or in a group setting. Others patients may need medication – antidepressants that can help restore the balance of chemicals in the brain to balance mood, or a combination of both.

As with any disease, prevention is the best ‘treatment’. If you have a history of depression or postpartum depression, please, please inform your health care provider. You may be referred to have talk therapy during your prenatal care and if you are on antidepressant, you may be advised to continue your medication.

Additions Resources:

Postpartum Support International

National Women’s Health Information Center

BIO
Dr. Kendra Segura is an obstetric/gynecologist practicing in Southern California. She completed her residency in Rochester, New York. She also has a Masters of Public Health earned at Loma Linda University in Southern California. She has worked for the Los Angeles county health department, where she performed disease surveillance and health education.

Dr. Kendra feels that her God-given purpose extends beyond patients that she encounters in the office, or in the hospital. She desires to reach the women she will not see in the above settings, through various forms of media. Her mission to is inform the uninformed, and misinformed.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

You Asked, Ava Answered

August 14, 2017

After our recent blog post about the Ava Bracelet for tracking fertility, we received a ton of questions about how it all works! So we went straight to the source and sat down with Kate Slagh from Ava to find out why this little blue bracelet is the must have fertility accessory of the season.

WTF: What makes the Ava Bracelet different than ovulation predictor kits?

AVA; The most commonly used ovulation predictor kits use urine to detect a rise in luteinizing hormone (LH). These tests can be helpful you have very regular cycles and already have an idea of the four or five best days to test. It is common for a woman’s cycle to vary by up to seven days each cycle and this makes it challenging to know when to take an LH test. Many women have to take two tests per day for five days or more in order to achieve a positive result. Also, peeing on sticks everyday is inconvenient and messy.

With Ava, women wear the bracelet only at night. While you sleep, Ava tracks 9 physiological parameters. When you wake up, you synch the Ava bracelet to your smart phone and can see insight into your cycle and fertile window. Ava users love that it is easy to use and provides incredible insight in an easy to read graph. Women can get pregnant 6 days per cycle and Ava detects 5.3 of these days with 89% accuracy. Other OPKs are able to detect a 12-48 hours fertile window, at best, and only if you take the test at the right time.

WTF: What is the significance of tracking the 9 different body signals?

AVA: Ava uses clinically tested technology to track changes in the physiological parameters imparted by hormonal variations throughout the cycle. Ava uses these parameters to detect the beginning and end of the fertile window, in real time. To give you a few examples, Ava tracks pulse rate, temperature, sleep quality, sleep quantity and heart rate variability, which is an indicator of physiological stress. In clinical trials we have been able to show the correlation between many of these parameters and specific points in the menstrual cycle. Did you know that your resting pulse rate is significantly increased during your fertile window compared to your menstrual (bleeding) phase? This is one example of how your Ava learns about your body to give you insight into your cycle.

WTF: Is it safe and effective to use Ava while undergoing fertility treatments such as clomid?
Ava: Yes, it is safe to use Ava while taking medications such as clomid. We have not clinically tested Ava in women taking clomid but there is no reason to discontinue using Ava if you begin such a treatment. Anecdotally, we see that women taking follicle stimulating medication have Ava charts with clear fertile windows and ovulatory patterns that are just what you would expect with a normal cycle where ovulation occurred.

WTF: Explain the importance of the 5 fertile days for conception.
AVA: On average women can get pregnant six days per cycle. The best way to conceive is to have intercourse prior to ovulation so when the egg is released (ovulation) the sperm is ready and waiting. Detecting these fertile days and timing intercourse appropriately is the key to successful conception. Ava detects 5.3 fertile days each cycle so couples have a better chance of conceiving. In fact, using Ava doubles your chances of conceiving each month by letting you know when it’s the right time to try.

WTF: Besides trying to conceive, why are women using Ava?
AVA: Many women use Ava to learn about and track their menstrual cycles. A woman’s body goes through amazing changes each cycle and understanding these changes can help women understand their health. Imagine knowing when your migraine headaches will be the worst and planning ahead-Ava can help you do that. Ava also has a pregnancy app that gives you interesting facts about how babies develop week by week. Pregnant women also continue to wear their Ava bracelet at night to continue tracking sleep, pulse rate and more. Ava keeps tracking your body signals, you just wont see a fertile window or expected ovulation.

WTF: What is the success rate of women who wear Ava and are trying to conceive? Do you keep tracks of those numbers?

AVA: We sure do-but we don’t share publically the number of Ava assisted pregnancies. One of the reasons we don’t share this information is because not every woman who gets pregnant using Ava will her news with us. The number of Ava babies, since our product release, is growing and the first Ava babies are now being born. We love nothing more than to celebrate Ava pregnancies and Ava babies!

 

Order your Ava Bracelet HERE and don’t forget to use the discount code ALEXIS to save $20!

 

Blogs, What We Love

Dear Fellow Breastfeeding Mother

July 31, 2017

•By Nadine Bubeck, Guest Blogger for Momsense

Dear Fellow Breastfeeding Mother,

You’re probably reading this at 2am. Or maybe it’s 9 in the morning. Truth is, you’ve lost track of time…you’re always up. You’re exhausted. You just want to sleep. And you feel like no one- especially your husband- understands. But as cliché as it sounds, savor this time.
I know it’s hard. I’ve been there. Twice. And I wish every day I could go back to those sleepless nights snuggling my newborn. Holding his little body on my rocker playing Pandora or singing softly. (He’s the only person who ever liked my voice.) It’s the most intimate mother-child one-on-one time you’ll ever have. Such precious borrowed time, because before you know it, your midnight feeding sessions will be a mere memory.

Beautifully tiring. That’s what I call it.

Breastfeeding is a commitment. A selfless commitment. Whether you do it one months, three months, six months, or over a year, I want to personally applaud you for giving your child a piece of your body. And I say that literally. My boobs are forever lopsided- my right will always be bigger than the left.

Sometimes feedings last minutes. Other times, hours. And then, by occasion, your child will “use you” as a pacifier. Don’t pretend like you don’t know what I’m talking about it. You simply let them fall asleep at the boob so you can rejoice in some quiet, uninterrupted time somewhat alone.

Breastfeeding takes a lot out of you. I remember dozing off during many feedings. Plus, you’re on someone else’s clock. Want to take a shower? Too bad, baby needs to eat. Hungry? Put those snacks on hold until after a full nursing session. Yeah, it’s demanding, but so worth it. As moms, we naturally put our children before ourselves. That’s the amazing thing about motherhood. It teaches us the true meaning of love. Nursing is also stressful.

Like you, I’m sure, I worry day in and day out- is my newborn putting on enough pounds? The concern drove me crazy, that I fed him nearly all day (and all night) long. That’s why I am an advocate for Momsense, an innovative tool that measures how much baby is consuming. Check it out- it might give you sought after peace of mind.

To my fellow nursing moms, even though you’re drained- mentally and physically- remember you are giving your child a gift. You’re also gifting yourself. Did you know breastfeeding burns nearly 500 calories a day? Definitely the coolest diet ever, right?!

I got pregnant with my second son when my first was nine months old, so I quickly weaned before he turned one. Honestly, I cannot remember the very last time I breastfed him, and that really makes me sad. However, I have such memories of that beautiful phase of his life. When nothing else mattered. When it was just me and him. When life was put on hold because he had to eat. If I close my eyes, I can almost feel his preemie body against mine, nursing to the best of his strength and ability. And it’s bitter-sweet, because he’s going on three years old and I’ll never hold his newborn body again.

So hang in there. Tell yourself you are doing a good job, no mater what anyone else says. Take nursing selfies for your eyes only. One day, you’ll want them. And breathe. It’s stressful, but serene. It’s a peaceful experience. Everything else can wait. Savor it.

Sincerely,
A mom of two breastfed babies

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Our Double Rainbow

July 19, 2017

•By Kristie Rossi, Guest Blogger

“You’re going to be a big brother!!” I remember saying these words to my 15 month old son, Brady, shortly after getting my positive pregnancy test. I just knew this was the baby brother we had prayed for. I immediately called my mom and sisters and made a “Big Brother” shirt for Brady for our “formal announcement” to the world.

The “Big Brother” shirt. A shirt that would tell our friends and family the great news. A shirt that would sit in my drawer for 4 years as I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it. A shirt that brought back the memories of excitement, followed immediately by grief. And tears.

Almost immediately I began bleeding, and I just knew. A quick trip to the ER to see an empty uterus confirmed this. Then the news this was ectopic. I began the process of an injection and letting my body heal, but a few weeks later, my ectopic pregnancy ruptured. This rupture and emergency surgery changed our plans for giving Brady a brother or sister. For growing our family quickly: 3 boys under 5 years.

Several years before Brady was born, I was diagnosed with Stage IV endometriosis. I also had an ovary that didn’t want to stay where it should. It decided to hide and required a lot of work to get back in it’s right place. At that time, my Doctor had told me that I’d be lucky to get pregnant on my own, but would most likely need to do IVF, as there was too much scar tissue. My ectopic rupture surgery also confirmed this, and that Doctor informed me that my 1 remaining tube was twisted. My 1 remaining tube that was attached to my ovary that refused to stay where it should. However, I decided to try Clomid because what did those doctors know? I was told I wouldn’t get pregnant on my own. And I did. Twice!

6 month, 3 cycles of Clomid. Failed. On to IVF. I had officially been diagnosed with Secondary Infertility. Huh? I had never heard these words. After googling, I found an amazing Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) in Phoenix, Dr. J, and began our adventure into IVF. Injections. Injections. Injections. Two straight weeks of nightly shots, then an additional 2 weeks of PIO shots (ouch!!!) and we were ready for our egg retrieval.

Dr J. was able to retrieve several eggs and 3 days later we decided to transfer 3 embryos. Three?!? We knew they wouldn’t all take (Triplets? No thank you!) but we knew that 1 would grow into a beautiful baby. After the longest two weeks, I went in for my pregnancy test and then Dr. J. called and told me the test was negative. Negative? As in not pregnant? As in not one, out of three embryos, stuck? How? A negative test hadn’t crossed my mind. How could it not work? Wasn’t IVF almost a guarantee to get pregnant? We scheduled our WTF appointment and immediately decided we would try again.

We waited three months and began another round of injections. This round I developed a horrible case of Ovarian HyperStimulation Syndrome. so we decided to freeze our embryos and would transfer them the next month. Walking around looking 3 months pregnant, when I was far from it provided for interesting conversations and trying to cover up what I was going through. The next month, we transferred 2 frozen embryos and again waited. Negative. WTF!?! I got pregnant so easily before hand. How was this not working??

I should also point out, around this time, my mom was losing her battle with Melanoma. I wasn’t sure anymore if I was trying to have a baby for her, or us. I wanted so badly for her to have another grandbaby before she left this Earth.

We chose to switch doctors and our initial consultation with Dr. Z, was scheduled for 2 days after my mom passed. We looked at the calendar and made a tentative plan to do our egg retrieval for January 18. My mom’s birthday was January 17, so I felt this was a sign from her that she was ok. That we were all going to be ok. January quickly came and again we transferred 2 “great looking” embryos.

A few days before my scheduled pregnancy test, I saw a double rainbow on my drive home. Then a neighbor, who didn’t know we had been doing IVF, told me that God had talked to her daughter (8), at church and told her she would need to “help Kristie with her 2 baby girls.” Wow. I knew this was it. I knew both embryos had stuck and we’d be blessed with twin girls. My mom had always joked that Brady would be her only “baby boy” and my other kids would be girls. She knew that my husband and I wanted 3 boys, so I ignored her jokes. Pregnancy test day was here!!! I waited all afternoon to get that confirmation call that “my girls” had stuck! And…Negative. Again. I was now 0-3 on IVF. And the signs? How had all these signs turned into nothing?

I still had 2 frozen embryos, 1 grade A and 1 grade B, at my old RE’s office. Dr Z. said “If you have them, let’s transfer them.” Driving these tiny embryos in this huge chamber was the most nerve wrecking 15 mile drive of my life. By this time, I was already feeling hopeless. I was deflated. I had spent the past 16 months of my life, doing injections, praying and crying. And crying. And crying. So much crying. I tried to remain positive for this last frozen transfer, but it was hard. My heart was broken. I “met” a group of women through The Bump messaging boards that were going through the same thing as me. These women kept me sane over the years during these cycles and cried with me, but were also the biggest supporters.

May 6, 2013
:phone rings:
me: “Hi Dr. Z”
Dr Z: “Hi Kristie. I really wish I had good news for you.”
Me: trying to hold my tears in. “Ok. Should we schedule our follow up appointment?”
Dr Z: “If you want to we can. I think we have run out of options for you. I think you and your husband should explore other options. Your eggs are bad and the odds of you carrying your own pregnancy are slim.”

That was it. Our journey was over. We were one and done. I practiced saying it in the mirror to try and sound convincing when a stranger asked me when we would have baby #2. To try and not let the tears well up whenever this questioned was asked. And let’s face it. It gets asked A LOT.

Secondary Infertility: Two words that prior to January 2012, I had never heard of. Two words that stole so much from me. Two words that pulled me into a such a depression, that I pulled away from my son. Two years. Two years were robbed from my relationship with my son and husband. Two years that I’ll never get back. I only hope Brady doesn’t remember.

And what about those “2 sisters” that God told my neighbor’s daughter she would need to help me out with?

July 22, 2013: While the rest of the world was celebrating the birth of the Royal baby, I was sitting at home in disbelief staring at this. How could this happen? Just 2 ½ short months after I was told to explore other options: Adoption. Surrogacy. 2 ½ short months after my husband and I decided to not talk about anything related to expanding our family until Labor Day. We were exhausted and needed a break. But then this happened.

February 28, 2014: Kallie Angelina was born. Angelina in memory of my mom. My rainbow baby. My miracle.

May 7, 2015: Two years and 1 day after I was told to explore other options. Two years and 1 day after I was told I would never carry my own baby again. Another positive pregnancy test.

December 10, 2015: My birthday present was born. Kelsie Marie.

I am still in disbelief that they are mine. That I went through 16 months of heartache and now have these beautiful blessings. We planned for a family of 5. We wanted 3 boys. I still don’t fully understand why my husband and I had to go through what we did. I do question a lot about my infertility journey. However, for me, my questions all had the same answer – someone, whether it was God, my mom, a little bit of both, had already written out my path to fertility. I will never forget my journey or take my 3 blessings for granted. My heart has ached. My heart has mourned. But with that, my heart is full.

What The Fertility

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