Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Stay Strong

July 18, 2017

Written by Jennifer Segovia, Guest Blogger

In 2008 we got married and soon after, the kid questions started. At the time I wasn’t ready to be a mom or even attempt at taking on that kind of responsibility. The truth was, I wasn’t sure I wanted kids and I was totally selfish. We liked to come and go as we please, travel, keep a clean house, SLEEP, etc. When people would ask, we simply respond with “someday, we have fur babies for now”.

Well, fast forward to 2011, we finally felt like we were ready to start “trying.” We tried for over a year, then a year later went back and I was put on five rounds of Clomid..…NOTHING! I was depressed, angry, bewildered, and ready to give up! Up until this point we had a good and fun marriage, but now things were starting to get tough. We started to drift apart, barely even talked and would only really have sex when I thought I was ovulating. Neither of us wanted to admit that there was something wrong. Neither of us wanted to be “at fault” for something that should be so natural.

You know when they have the “birds and the bees” talk, no one ever had mentioned INFERTILITY (to me or my husband). So not only did I not know or understand, I never thought that could be us. After many tests for both of us, there was nothing wrong. I started to wonder though, what was wrong with me? What did I do wrong? Why?  I was in a category affectionately called UNEXPLAINED INFERTILITY. Not only did we not know or understand what that meant, I had no way to fix it. This news also took a toll on our marriage, although physically there was nothing wrong, I felt less of a woman and my husband was just not supportive in the way I needed or wanted him to be.

Things got worse before they got better. My husband and I were sleeping in separate bedrooms and now sex was non-existent. It was about this time, when we actually started talking about the “D word”; divorce. It was so hard and I remember thinking to myself, what is the point of staying married when I can’t even have a family. I remember that I felt like it was entirely my fault. I absolutely hated wedding showers, weddings, baby showers, birth announcements, pregnancy announcements, birthdays, holidays and the list goes on. Pretty much if it was a celebration about moving forward in life (as the world does), I avoided it, I shut down, and I hid in my work! Work became the excuse of why I couldn’t or wouldn’t do anything. If I did go out it was seldom and far and few in between.

We continued to “try” off and on for the next year, but it wasn’t until one day I had finally had it. I wanted couples counseling or a divorce! That night my husband and I really sat down and finally had a conversation that we had avoided for years. We decided to go to marriage counseling. I will premise this by saying, marriage counseling only works if you are willing to go and admit there is something wrong or that needs to be fixed, and promise each other that you are going to actively work on making it better. My husband and I really wanted better for ourselves and each other and we made a promise to each other to work for our marriage with counseling. We knew that this was years of issues and wouldn’t be resolved in a session or two. We continued to make counseling and our marriage a priority.

For us, it helped us open up and communicate what we had both feared and most importantly explain that fear to one another so we had an understanding of how the other person was feeling. Turns out we loved each other and had similar fears. I think prior to counseling we knew how to communicate on a surface level but when it came to our feelings neither of us knew how to really dig deep or articulate our feelings to one another. Once we were able to begin to actually communicate we also were able to talk about growing our family again.

We decided to seek help from a fertility specialist. The first specialist didn’t work for us and we had a failed IUI and a miscarriage. Talk about stress, sadness, grief, and a million other emotions. I truly feel that because we had gone thru so many years of trying and were able to learn how to communicate better before fertility treatments it helped us to help each other and cope with our losses. My husband may not have understood exactly what I was going thru but he now knew how to support and be there for me and vice versa. One of things I learned going thru infertility is that its not just me going through the suffering, but my husband to was suffering these loses with me. We decided to take a couple of months off to let my body, our hearts and souls just relax and heal. The best part was that we decided this together and knew it was the best thing for our marriage and us.

Finally we found a fertility specialist and his team who was able to give us more answers. This time before we proceeded with round three we sat down and discussed what we wanted, our goals, how many more times and agreed how these next rounds would proceed. Of course we wanted it to work immediately but it took a few rounds. Round three ended as a failed IUI and we went straight to round four.

Round four IUI was a success and I still remember getting the call and calling my husband and yelling out, “WE ARE PREGNANT!” Neither of us thought round four even worked and suddenly we were planning and anticipating being parents. Unfortunately, this round ended in a miscarriage. I remember the day my baby passed and I just cried and cried. My husband cried and grieved along side me and although we didn’t say much, we knew how we were both feeling. It was a sad time and at the same time we had to make more decisions.

Our marriage had changed and faced many challenges: we got married and enjoyed a few great years together, we were challenged with infertility, we were challenged at the thought of divorce, we have had two failed IUI’s and two miscarriages. Although we have gone thru so many challenges our marriage has survived and we are the lucky ones to have done it and stayed together.

So when it came to round five, we decided to move on and do it immediately. To our surprise round five worked but the biggest shock was when we went for our first ultrasound. At the first ultrasound we not only confirmed the pregnancy, but we also met our TWINS! My pregnancy had its moments but after all our struggles and time that past, I cherish and miss my pregnancy! My husband and I had no idea what we were in for with twins and more challenges came once they were born.

My babies were preemies and went spent three weeks in the NICU and my husband drove us to see them everyday and helped me out since I was recovering from an emergency c-section. Once they got home, not only was I still healing, I was also caring for two babies! Caring for twins is a whole blog in and of it self, but I am sure whether you are a singleton or multiples momma-it is just purely exhausting! No one was sleeping, and well that brought up some issues but I can tell you now we are seven months into this and our marriage has struggled with new babies but in the end we have learned to talk it out and fight fair. Fighting fair means sticking to the challenge at the time and trying to come up with a viable and realistic solution that will work for us four. It has and continues to be challenging but it is all I know and for us it has been worth the time and effort to continue loving and helping each other now as new parents of TWINS.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

What To Do Before You Do… It

July 6, 2017

Written by Dr. Amanda McDonough, Guest Blogger

Healthy moms are without a doubt more likely to have healthy pregnancies. Prioritizing health before conception can lead to improved fertility and less pregnancy complications. Ideally women will have a formal preconception visit with their obstetrician gynecologist.
Healthy Lifestyle
The obesity epidemic has significantly affected women’s reproductive health and pregnancy outcomes. Obesity is associated with multiple chronic diseases, infertility and poor pregnancy outcomes. Obese women are at higher risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. The risk of diabetes in pregnancy, hypertension with preeclampsia, and cesarean section is also increased for obese mothers. Starting a healthy diet and exercise program prior to pregnancy can improve fertility and pregnancy outcomes. Nutrition counseling may be beneficial. Thirty minutes of moderate exercise per day is recommended. Calculating your body mass index can be done easily here


<18.5 Underweight
18.5-24.9 Normal (GOAL)
25-29.9 Overweight
>30 Obese

Substance Use
Tobacco use is associated with infertility and poor pregnancy outcomes. Smoking cessation should be a goal prior to conception. Alcohol use is associated with fetal alcohol syndrome. There is no amount of alcohol considered safe in pregnancy. Opioid dependence is a growing concern in pregnancy. Methadone or Subutex programs are available and considered safer than illicit drug use during pregnancy. Neonatal abstinence syndrome is associated with opioid use during pregnancy.

Vitamin Supplementation
All women of childbearing age should be taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid (400 micrograms). Conditions that impact the fetus’s brain and spinal cord development, known as neural tube defects, can be prevented with adequate folic acid supplementation prior to conception. The neural tube closes approximately six weeks after conception which is typically when most women discover they are pregnant. Therefore, vitamin supplementation should occur prior to conception to have the greatest impact.
Chronic Medical Conditions
Many women are seeking careers that require higher education, which is FANTASTIC, but that means childbearing is typically delayed. As women age they may develop chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Working with your primary care physician to optimize your health before conception is extremely beneficial for mom and baby!
Carrier Screening
Women can choose to have carrier screening prior to pregnancy to determine if they carry genes that can lead to multiple conditions including cystic fibrosis, Tay Sachs, fragile X syndrome and sickle cell disease. This is typically a blood test. If maternal carrier screening is positive the partner can be tested to see if there is a risk of having an affected fetus. The couple can meet with a genetics counselor to discuss their risk and options.
Prioritizing women’s health prior to pregnancy leads to healthier moms and babies!

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Wishing and Hoping and Thinking and Praying

June 22, 2017

•Written by Sarah Lanning, Guest Blogger

I’m a huge advocate for Adoption. It has been a huge part of my life as I was adopted along with my four other siblings.  I met my husband and on our first date he told me that his father was also adopted. We immediately bonded over that and I knew this was the man I was going to marry. After four years of trying to get pregnant and having three miscarriages, I lost all hope in ever having a baby but that’s where our adoption journey begins.

On a late July afternoon, right after Fourth of July, I was more depressed than I’d ever like to admit. I was almost 27 years old with everything I could ever want in my life but I always knew one thing was missing, A BABY!
As long as I could remember I’ve wanted to be a mom, and it was all I thought about!
“Am I ever going to be pregnant?”
“Will I ever be able to give my husband a baby?”
“When will it be my turn to have a baby?”
All these thoughts ran through my head as I lived my life and everyone else around me was getting pregnant and having babies. And all I could do was fake being happy for them because it was the one thing that I wanted most in my life. I hated going to baby showers and getting those dreaded text messages and phone calls “I’m pregnant.”  You always have to pretend to be happy for them because I mean what else can you say besides “Congratulations!”

Thats when I received a phone call that made my heart skip a beat. A friend that I used to work with called to tell me that one of her friends (a girl I didn’t even know nor had ever met) had a co-worker that was pregnant and wanted to place her baby up for adoption. I knew I trusted “D” with all my heart but trusting a girl I didn’t even know to make me a mother was terrifying to say the least! But I listened to everything she had to say about “L” and waited two hours for my husband to come home from work (it felt like an eternity) to tell him all about this. He was very hesitant and it took a couple days of persuading him.

I then called my parents, they had been down this road before and I needed their advice and support- 5 adoptions and 13 fosterings. I knew I could count on them to help us and guide us through this long journey of adoption.
At this point she was 26 weeks pregnant, so we only had 14 weeks to find an agency, an attorney, and to get a home study done. In addition to buy everything essential for a baby, to get our house baby proofed and a pool safety net. We also only had a little amount of time to come up with a very significant amount of money! To say it was a VERY stressful 14 weeks is an understatement!

Tweleve weeks later our home study still wasn’t complete and I got the call “they are delivering the baby tonight…2 weeks early, due to complications.” I’ve never been so nervous and scared in my life. Here we are waiting to have our home study done and our baby is being born across the country. Luckily, she was born  and our home study was also done on the SAME DAY!  That night we jumped on a plane and flew to the East Coast to go meet our baby!

We got off the plane and drove straight to the hospital in hopes of meeting her. We were rudely greeted by nurses that weren’t open to adoption and very foreign to the idea of the birth mother not taking her own baby home.
One hour of sleep in the waiting room, three hours of sleeping in our car, 30 min drive to our hotel, lunch and a 30 min nap and we were on our way back to the hospital for another try at finally meeting our daughter! We got to the hospital and didn’t know what to expect because we didn’t have any contact with the birth mom her whole pregnancy but to our surprise we were welcomed into her room with a big hug and a smile. She than handed us our daughter, a 5lb 6oz teeny tiny princess!

To our surprise they had named her, we came thinking that we would give her the name that we had come up with the last 3 months we were planning for her (we didn’t know the gender so we had a boy name too). When our social worker told us that they had named her Grace Marie my husband and I burst into tears because we had been in a disagreement over names for three months. My husband had always loved the name Madyson Grace since he was 15 and had to name a baby for a school project. I wanted Madyson Anne because Anne is a very special to me, as it was my grandmothers middle name and she has since passed away. When we heard that they named her that we knew that we wanted to incorporate Grace into her name! So after a day or so of talking about it we decided to happily name our daughter Madyson Grace Anne.
At four days old we got to take our daughter home. When most people would be so ecstatic to finally take their baby home from the hospital, my husband and I were on edge. We still weren’t sure if we were going to be able to parent this tiny, sweet babe or not. By law the birth mother can’t sign papers if she is sent home with medication, so we had to wait four LONG days until she finished her medication and could sign her parental rights away. On day eight at 11am I got the second most amazing phone call of my life “MADYSON IS YOURS FOREVER!” I immediately burst into tears and kissed her all over. We hugged and cried into each other arms and couldn’t believe our dreams were coming true. WE WERE FINALLY PARENTS!

After two weeks on the East Coast we were FINALLY cleared to go home. We couldn’t wait to go home and just enjoy being a family. We also couldn’t wait till Thanksgiving to surprise our family with our daughter! We decided to keep our adoption process a secret from our friends and family because we were scared but most of all we were terrified of getting attached and hurting both sides of our family. All we could do was have faith that this would work out and we could surprise our families with this baby! As Thanksgiving Day came we were very excited for everyone to meet our newest little member of the family!

Adoption has FOREVER changed my life in a way that I could never truly express. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for adoption and my husband and I wouldn’t be parents if it wasn’t for adoption. Adoption is very exhausting, stressful and emotional but also very rewarding! I would do it all again to have my daughter because I am FINALLY A MOM!

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

What About Dad?

June 18, 2017

•Written by Elizabeth Johnson, Guest Blogger


My husband is a solid, secure and wonderful guy. And when I say solid, I mean solid – 6’3, 250 and bench presses almost 400 lbs (yes, that is a real stat). He is funny, sensitive, a serious planner and the most intuitive person I know. We met at a wedding – very cliché, him a groomsman, me a bridesmaid – and started dating soon after. We loved (and still love) planning trips, entertaining our friends and family and going to the beach. The only thing we didn’t plan for was infertility…

Pat and I were married in August 2012 in Northern California, and while we were excited to start a family, to me there was no rush. I said “let’s be married first” with the idea that being a parent is forever, being a newlywed is temporary. But, after a little convincing from him, we decided to “pull the goalie” the following January. After a couple little bumps, we found out we were pregnant at beginning of August 2013, a few weeks short of our first anniversary! We were surprised and excited to say the least. Unfortunately, it only lasted 7 weeks. I was at work one day and I started to bleed, so I rushed to the emergency room. Pat met me at the ER and I will never forget the look on his face and tears in his eyes before we even saw the doctor. After that horrible ER experience (another story for another time), we went home and mourned. But, we also tried to find the silver lining – we got pregnant really fast, I could get pregnant in general and my OBGYN was super optimistic. So we, how you say, got back in the saddle and…
Nothing. For 2 years. Nothing.
We started how everyone does, having sex every other day during the fertile time, taking temps, using ovulation sticks, the works. We would get excited and hopeful, and then…the two week cycle of optimism and then defeat would come and go. Pat has since commented to me that his least favorite words in the English language became “I’m spotting.” And each time I was disappointed he was there to comfort me and say “next time” or “let’s do this differently” always with a solution and not getting bogged down. We did the rounds of clomid and each time while my hormones were up and down, Pat was there to be supportive and calm – yet a little part of him was dying inside. It was getting harder for him to hide his frustration and sadness and when the last round of clomid prescribed by our Doctor failed, he broke down. Tears and beers in the backyard, this wasn’t happening for us how we thought it would. We were at an impasse – take a break or take it one step further and get help. I wasn’t getting any younger so we decided to get help and researched clinics. After choosing the clinic and having our first round of tests (beyond blood tests) in January 2015, we were resolved that this was going to happen – the clinic will figure out the problem, tell us how to fix it and we’ll be good!
We met with the doctor and the diagnosis didn’t go as planned – unexplained infertility. What? Oh there’s nothing wrong with you, we ran every (massively invasive) test but can’t find anything, your infertility is unexplained. We can’t fix it, because we can’t find the problem. WTF?! (literally people, WTF).

But our doc was positive, all the signs pointed towards yes – high egg count, sperm is shaped right and motile, we were a layup, easy peasy, IUI would do it. The light and excitement came back into Pat’s eyes – hey, we’ll get there, we just needed a little assistance. IUI time – let’s do this! IUI, billed as a simple, painless (turkey baster) procedure. Not so much. Turns out, my cervix was a trickster and the doctor kept missing. As I went through the pain of the catheter being reinserted multiple times, Pat went through the pain of watching me and being helpless. I squeezed his hand hard, but he squeezed right back. I got through it, we took a deep breath and he bought me a milkshake (which became a fertility treatment tradition).
Nothing happened, BFN. Another visit to the clinic, rude receptionists, more tests, another IUI, demanding billing department, another milkshake and no pregnancy. We had one more chance at IUI, so decided to try it and if it didn’t work, IVF it was. Ok, game plan! Pat was pumped, he loves game plans. We went in for the last IUI and low and behold, BFP!!! Finally! We had just bought and started remodeling our house, we had resolved to taking the next step if we needed to so we just kind of let it go and there it was! A positive pregnancy test! We were excited and cautiously optimistic. Monday I was pregnant and according to the blood tests the levels looked great, Wednesday, number went up, trending in the right direction, then Sunday, while sitting at brunch with my family, I got the call. Numbers had dropped and I was going to miscarry or it was probably a chemical pregnancy. We left before the coffee came.
When you hit a wall with something, you hit a wall. Pat was done. Done with the clinic, done with the rude receptionists, done with the financial advisors who had no bedside manner when it came to explaining what it would cost, just done.
We were at another impasse – try another clinic or quit. Pat’s gut told him we should switch clinics, I wasn’t so sure. We sat down with our doctor, who he was also starting to lose faith in, but I still loved and trusted, to discuss IVF. Pat brashly decided to ask her about the other local clinics that we were looking into, and she gave the very diplomatic answer that all of the clinics were fine, just went about things differently. When he asked more pointedly about a clinic we were looking into more closely, she seemed uncomfortable and just said “oh they are great people.” Awkward. We went home, and talked a few things out and then tabled the discussion for a few days. When you are battling infertility, tabling something for even a few days feels like a lifetime. I knew what I wanted to do – stick with our doctor and start IVF – but Pat needed to come to the decision on his own. A few more days went by, clock was ticking, and he said he was ready to take the next step and start IVF. Hurray! We would stay at the clinic, begrudgingly, but with a doctor who all but guaranteed us we would have a baby.
At my first appointment to start the IVF process, my doctor came out to the waiting room and asked me to come back to her office, instead of the receptionist leading me back. All I thought was “this can’t be good.” Well, I was wrong, first good news we had in awhile – she was switching clinics, to the clinic we were considering and wanted to let me know personally, so that no more time could be wasted. I didn’t even go to the rest of the appointment, I called Pat immediately. It was a no brainer, leave the rude, expensive clinic and follow her. Finally a sign! At our first consultation appointment at the new clinic, it was a complete 180 – warm friendly receptionist, a financial advisor who understood the burden of the cost and nurses who brought us snacks into our meeting (snacks!) – and we knew we were in the right place. Pat’s intuition once again was right.
Once we charted a course for meds, and shots and egg retrieval we felt, in a way, like ourselves again. There was a plan with set steps to the desired outcome. We made it as fun as we could, played the song “Shots, shots, shots” every time he would have to stick me with the needle in my stomach (yes, I made him do it), and then do a little celebration after, we were on our way. The first ultrasound showed that all of the follicles looked great! I went in for the egg retrieval on October 23, 2015. I was nervous, but ready. I guess I was so excited as I was going under, I was talking about what kind of Halloween themed dishes and drinks I was going to serve at our annual party (Halloween is my favorite holiday), cracking up the nurses. Pat was there for me when I woke up – funny story, as folks know the dad has to make his “deposit” during the retrieval so that the eggs can be fertilized in a timely manner. Well when he went to the designated room, it was occupied, and for a LONG TIME. He panicked and found a nurse and let her know my procedure should be done momentarily, what should he do?! She led him to a regular bathroom and told him to lock the door. Yikes. And like I said, he was there for me when I woke up, sample safely with the doctor, guy can perform (winky face emoji?). All of this related to me as I was coming off the anesthesia, I chuckled and thought the hard part was over!
The doctor came in and let us know they didn’t get as many eggs as they thought they would, but they got 8 which was still really promising. We felt good about it, they would let us know in 3 days how many fertilized, and then in 5 days which eggs became blastocysts and ready to implant. When we came in on day 5, it was a good news/bad news situation – good news, my uterine lining looked great, we should transfer right away instead of freezing the embryos, bad news, only 3 made it to 5 day blastocyst stage – 2 that looked perfect, had super high “grades” and 1 that was about a B+. She recommended transferring 2, hedge our bets, place all (well almost) our eggs in one basket (overused fertility pun?) so we did it! Watching the transfer I cried, we were so happy, this is the moment where our baby(ies) were starting their journey. We went home on cloud nine, celebrated at our Halloween party (me sneaking mocktails and non alcoholic wine without people catching on) and started talking about babies.
I went in for my blood test 10 days later, but didn’t feel the same high. For some reason, I knew. When we got the call later that day, instead of breaking down, I had to stay strong for Pat. It is pretty hard to get some of the worst news of your life and not be able to melt into a puddle. But, we pick our partners based on what we need and in that moment he needed me to be the solid one, so I was. And for awhile, that was my role. I stayed positive and Pat broke down. As I got more injections, I stayed optimistic and he went blank and numb. After the wrong hormone dosage by a nurse that delayed us another month, sending him into a little spiral, we came to our final chance – my uterus was ready for our final transfer.
Going in to the transfer this time was a bit different. It was our last gamble, back to square one if this didn’t take. We transferred the final embryo, our little B+ fighter, and took a deep breath. At this point, it was no expectations. We had even booked a trip to Belize and Mexico (hello Zika) because we would need a getaway if and when we got the bad news. Our embryo transfer was February 4th, blood test scheduled for February 15th. The weekend of February 12th and 13th I was traveling to San Francisco for work and Sacramento for a friend’s baby shower. I still drank the mocktails and blamed not being able to drink with friends on “hormones” but this time I meant it, I felt different. I told Pat, and now him being the skeptic, he just told me to wait to get the blood test. When I got home Sunday night, I bought a test. Monday morning, I took it and there it was BFP. POSITIVE.



This felt different. I went in to get the blood test and when my doctor called, she said “Could you hear me screaming in excitement all the way from the office?” Numbers were great, 2 days later they more than doubled, 2 days after that, they were off the charts. And we knew it wasn’t twins, one embryo and all, so this was happening!
When we saw the heartbeat at 8 weeks, we both had a milkshake to celebrate (and maybe an In N Out burger too). Telling our families at 11 weeks, on my 35th birthday, was amazing, and our due date was exactly one year after the retrieval – October 23, 2016.

Theodore Hogan Johnson arrived at 7:10pm on October 30, 2016 (yeah he got pretty comfortable in there) and after a stint in the NICU (another story for another time), we have a bubbling, babbling baby boy who is hilarious and because of his mom’s love of Halloween will be stuck with costume parties for his birthday.

They say a mom can forget the pain of childbirth after a while, so that they can have more kids. But what about dad? I have forgotten the pain – of childbirth, of failed tries, of IVF. True, it was a struggle and I know that, but I would do it again. Pat has not forgotten. The pain has stayed with him, and is something we take into consideration when discuss adding to our family. Could he go through it again? I hope that we won’t have to and things will happen naturally, but we will cross that bridge if/when we come to it. Every day I am thankful for my husband and my teammate in this process and parenting our son together has been a dream, messy but I wouldn’t change it for the world. People always talk about the toll infertility takes on moms, and it does, but let’s not forget about dad.
To all the guys out there – struggling, expecting, a new parents or a seasoned professional – you are important in this process, thank you for what you do and Happy Father’s Day.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

A Hole In One. Finally.

June 14, 2017

•By Tamara Van Happen, Guest Blogger

Ohhhh the ugly world of infertility. From the start we knew IVF was our only shot at ever having a biological child. My husband has Cystic Fibrosis. As if that weren’t bad enough, 98% of men with CF are born without a vas deferens (basically it’s like having a vasectomy to begin with!) We had little hope we would be in that 2% as John doesn’t present as a typical CF patient. And we weren’t. So the first step to making Baby Van Happen was to undergo genetic testing. When the results came back that I didn’t carry the gene for CF, I took it as a sign that we were on the right path.

Continue Reading…

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Adventure Awaits

June 12, 2017
•By Kristi and Ben Graves, Guest Bloggers
The word “adventure” means: an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.  So far that has been the theme of our married life and the best way to describe this most recent journey that we have begun: the path to growing our family through adoption.

We have been married for 10 years, and during that time together we have lived in 3 different countries and traveled to many other places in the world – both on our own and on mission work with our local church. This has allowed us many adventures that we have enjoyed sharing together, making memories as husband and wife that we will never forget.

One of the amazing adventures we have been able to take is to visit Uganda. Kristi had a dream for many years to love on babies in Africa, and shortly after we joined our church, we found out that they partner with the community of Kaihura in Uganda!! God has used these trips to Africa to help change and mold us, and part of our heart is still over there! We have been able to go the last 2 summers and are excited about the opportunity to visit again this June! During our first trip to Uganda, God made it clear to us that He was calling us to adopt a child into our family. During these last 2 years, we have been praying and preparing for this adventure and are excited to have started the adoption process!

For many years we have hoped of getting pregnant and like many of you, we have gone through years of infertility. We have tried the pills, the acupuncture, the ultrasounds, we have shed tears and watched everyone around us become pregnant while we waited and wondered when it would be our turn.

When we started our adventure of life together 10 years ago, we didn’t have any idea of all the things that lay ahead for us. We have seen so many ups and downs, happy times, sad times, and everything in between. God has taught us so much during this journey, and how we can make plans, but it is ultimately His plan that is the best for our life. We are so excited for this next chapter and to see what is waiting for us on this adoption journey.
We are pursuing domestic infant adoption through Bethany Christian Services.  The cost of our adoption will be around $26,000. As a way to help raise funds for our adoption and celebrate this next adventure, we are selling these sweet “adventure awaits” t-shirts!  If you’d like to support us by buying a t-shirt, you can visit here.
We have multiple color choices as well as adult and youth sizes! Please know that every purchase gets us that much closer to bringing our sweet Baby Graves home!
You can also follow our adoption journey on instagram: @babygravesadventure
And if you feel called to contribute financially to our adoption fund, you can do so here.

We are continuing to trust God as we walk through this adventure. We know that adoption is hard and messy and beautiful and we trust that He will provide and use this for His glory! Thanks for following along!

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Some Things Are Worth The Wait

June 8, 2017

By Kristy Koser, Guest Blogger

My husband Nate and I had been trying to conceive for almost 10 years. We tried on and off for over 5 years on our own, tracking my cycles, body temperature, and ovulation. But after no success we decided to make an appointment at the nearest fertility clinic. We started with six rounds of Clomid, which resulted in two pregnancy losses, then moved to four rounds of IUI, which were all unsuccessful, then finally to IVF. We completed 6 fresh rounds and 5 frozen rounds of IVF, resulting in one pregnancy loss, a lot of tears, unsuccessful cycles, and 2 precious frozen embryos. We endured round after round of embryo banking, genetic testing for all our embryos, an endometrium biopsy, laparoscopy, and loads of Viagra (yep, you heard that correctly, it helps with chronically thin uterine lining). By the end of 2015, after our last failed cycle we were exhausted and feeling hopeless. For some unexplained reason, my uterus was unable to sustain life and we couldn’t imagine putting one more embryo back into it after seeing so many not make it through that two week wait. So, we decided to pursue gestational surrogacy, and guess what? It worked.

I could share so many things I learned on our journey to become parents, I often consult with women and couples who are making hard decisions regarding their reproductive health. I’m a full time couples therapist who specializes in fertility counseling for couples, and I know first hand these decisions are multifaceted and ridiculously complex. Most people tend to ask me about the process of surrogacy, what it’s like, how we found our carrier, and what the logistics of such an arrangement. I have had some people email me for what to expect, so I’ll share a bit of what I told them, what I’ve learned along the way living in Virginia, and tips to pursue your own journey if you are lucky enough to experience the beauty of surrogacy.

First, you need to find out what type of surrogacy is right for you. There is traditional surrogacy using her egg or gestational surrogacy using all your gametes. Ours is gestational surrogacy, it’s my egg and my husband’s sperm, an embryo from one of our IVF rounds.

Next you need to consider the cost. Typically online you will see the cost is fairly high, that’s usually because people haven’t started IVF (which is so costly itself)! So, if you already have embryos in storage you are ahead of the game! If you have not started IVF or do not have any embryos, look for a clinic that has a success or refund package deal–so that means after “x” amount of rounds if you are not successful then you get your money back. We did this and our package included 6 fresh rounds and unlimited frozen transfers. This helped big time. Also consider the fact you will pay a surrogate as well. She is the ultimate babysitter, and you are paying for high quality childcare for those precious 9 months! Prices on this range and should be determined between you and your surrogate. This also means you pay all of the medical bills–so plan to pay for co-pays at the doctor, birthing costs, bed rest costs (if she works and has to be on bed rest), and possible maternity leave.

Once you have figured out your finances and the type of surrogate you are looking for, it then becomes a task of finding that special person. There are surrogacy agencies that can help to match you with someone or you can find someone on your own. I would suggest getting the word out to fertility clinics, OBGYNs, and close friends. Sometimes clinics have surrogates they have worked with in the past so it’s always good to let your clinic know first that you would like their help in finding someone. We happened to find someone in our community, which has been ideal for us, but sometimes you have to be open to looking out of state.

Once you’ve found your surrogate, it’s time to look at your state’s laws regarding surrogacy. I would suggest finding a good reproductive attorney very early in the process; your clinic should have recommendations. The first thing your attorney will ask is to check your surrogate’s insurance to make sure she is legally able to use her insurance for surrogacy (DO THIS FIRST)! If she cannot use her insurance, you will probably want to find someone else, only because the cost could be so high out of pocket. But likely it will be good to go! Then once everything is in place, you will create a surrogacy contact that is legally binding. This requires her to find an attorney (at your cost) to prepare and represent her in the process. By law you have to have a contract–this can be a bit of a pain because it’s lengthy and detailed, but this is the one time you want it to be! So if you are considering using your friend, just be prepared for a lot of conversation around worst-case scenarios and all the “what ifs” the contract will include. There may be other laws for your state and sometimes policies of your clinic that include medical screenings for her and her partner along with psychological testing and required counseling in order to proceed.

Once the contracts, counseling, screenings, and legal requirements are complete then your surrogate is ready to prep her body for a frozen embryo transfer (if using a gestational carrier). She will use all of the typical medications for a frozen transfer and everything will proceed like normal. Then when the time is right, transfer happens! My husband and I were both at transfer–it was surreal to see what happened to me so many times happening to someone else. It was crazy to think my baby was floating around in someone else’s uterus, and there was an instant trust this person will take care of it. Thankfully she did, and one of our two embryos found a cozy place to implant and baby K is coming in August! Now, according to the doctors we are a “normal” pregnant couple, minus the fact I’m not pregnant and someone else is carrying our child. But somehow it feels like the most normal part of the last four years. It’s the only thing that makes sense and we are certain this was how it was always supposed to be. Check with your state laws, then find a good reproductive lawyer to check on her insurance. Get that process started first, because legal contracts can take a while. Then your clinic and lawyer will help guide you through the rest.

I know this information feels like a lot, and I won’t lie, it is. But, you already know what it’s like to work hard for this baby. Hang in there, while there are lots of strings to hold, I promise it will be worth the wait.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Oh How Sweet It Is

June 6, 2017

•By Nicole Cole, Guest Blogger

I’m Nicole, wife to Tyler and new mama to Campbell and Crawford. My two babes born 10 weeks apart. Campbell joined our family by adoption and Crawford grew in my belly. There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not immensely grateful to be a mama to not one… but TWO incredible tiny humans! I’m so excited to share a little of our story today. It’s my deepest desire that you will walk away encouraged no matter your season of life.
In the summer of 2014 we started talking about getting pregnant. (Side note: I try to never say “start a family” because that’s something that always hurt for me to hear. We were already a family! Having babies wouldn’t make us a family…the day we got married we became a family. I hope that encourages any of you who are waiting!) Over the next couple of months we started actively trying to conceive. Early on we had the talk about what we would do if we couldn’t get pregnant. Honestly, this thought was completely foreign to me. I really didn’t know anyone personally who struggled to conceive so it seemed so far fetched that we would even discuss it. But, I feel as though this was God’s way of giving us complete peace over our journey very early on and I’m so thankful for that. We decided together that we would pursue very minimal fertility treatments and we would definitely pursue adoption.

Fast forward a little over a year and we had a few rounds of testing. Because of a previous surgery of mine my abdominal area is absolutely covered in scar tissue. We were told that it wasn’t impossible for us to conceive naturally, but it would be a lot harder because of my scar tissue. The next several months after that we decided to go on Clomid for a few cycles. During this time I felt God call us to adoption. I felt the call so strongly and knew that it was something that would be in our near future. My husband wasn’t quite to this point yet so we continued on Clomid and we kept praying about adoption separately.
My body and mind did not respond well to Clomid and one month we decided that if we didn’t get pregnant we would quit all treatments. That next month, my period came. It was probably one of the hardest and best months for me. I took some time away from social media for 6 weeks and dug deep into prayer. It was during this time that I felt the Lord confirming adoption. Within those weeks God was working in my husband’s heart as well and on February 16, 2016 we sent the first email to our adoption consultant!
Over the next few months we dove head first into the adoption process. We quickly started fundraising, did our home study, and worked to get all our ducks in a row so that our profile could be active as soon as possible! Pregnancy was no longer something we were pursuing and the Lord gave us both such closure as we moved into adoption. On May 18, 2016 we got quite the surprise. One line quickly turned to two on a pregnancy test. We were pregnant! We were both surprised but excited and our first conversation was about our adoption. We both we’re 100% certain that we were to continue pursuing adoption. We also knew that it was very likely that we would match by the end of 2016 and with a due date in January, it was incredibly likely our babies would be only a few months apart.

Fast forward to September when we matched with a little boy! He was born on September 18th and we hopped on a plane with all our baby gear anxious to meet our son. I’ll never forget sitting in a hotel lobby in south Florida as our adoption agency worker sat across from us and told us how our son’s first mom had changed her mind and decided not to place. We were going to leave that hotel without a baby. We were both absolutely crushed. I’ve never in my life hurt so deeply. We were confused and grieving and unsure of what the next few months would hold for us.

Within the next few weeks we got a call about another baby. We were hesitant to say yes, but ultimately both felt like we needed to put our yes on the table despite being afraid of another failed match. That was the sweetest “yes” we’ve ever said. On October 23rd, 2016 I became a mama to a tiny 4 pound 11 ounce Hispanic boy who has completely captured our hearts in every single way. And then 10 weeks later, his sister came. Our sweet Crawford Elaine! And just like that, we are parents to two tiny humans. I can’t imagine our lives without either of our babies. Our story isn’t one that I anticipated in any way, but oh how sweet it is!

There are two phrases I’ve heard a thousand times as people have heard our story, “See, you relaxed and it happened!” and “Whenever someone adopts they end up getting pregnant!” Both of these phrases couldn’t be further from the truth and it came incredibly hurtful to hear. The month we conceived was probably the most stressful month we had personally, professionally, and in our adoption. But even if we had the best month of our lives…it still doesn’t change the fact that “relaxing” doesn’t make a baby. It hurts me to know that this comment puts blame on the parents and usually, the mama who so desperately wants to get pregnant. Without realizing it, someone making this comment has just said, “If you would do something differently, you could get pregnant…it’s your fault this isn’t happening.” If you’ve said these words before, I want to compassionately urge you never to say them again. So many times friends and family members mean well but their words still sting. If you know someone struggling to conceive or someone who has conceived after a hard road of infertility, please speak words of encouragement and love over them! It’s truly the best thing that you can do.

If you’re someone who is struggling to conceive, I urge you to respond in grace as you educate! Something that has been so important to me in our journey is to use every single situation to educate others. Instead of always being offended, I can use my words to educate those who might say hurtful words unintentionally. Use your situation to teach others about the language they use and what is helpful and harmful to you as you struggle!

Adoption is also not the cure to infertility. There are many, many families who will adopt and never conceive. Saying “this happens to everyone” is not only false but incredibly hurtful. Adoption should never be viewed as a “fix” for infertility. Adoption has been an incredible blessing in our lives and we cannot imagine life without our sweet son! He is our son. Period. He is not our “adopted son,” even though, yes, he is adopted. He is our son just like our daughter is our daughter. His story just looks differently than hers and we will always, always celebrate their uniqueness in our family! Adoption is hard but it’s been such a treasure in our lives and in our family. Friend who is struggling, I hope that you read this story and see God’s plan unfolding. If we would have conceived naturally right away we wouldn’t have our sweet Campbell. Every single day we struggled was worth it the day he made me a mama. If we would have conceived right away, we wouldn’t have the exact baby that is our biological daughter. She was worth the struggle. Mama who is waiting, God is writing a story for your family that you cannot comprehend. It’s my prayer that you would know that you’re loved by a God who doesn’t make mistakes. By a God who is never late. By a God who understands your pain deeply and who wants to use your waiting for good. Our story is not our story apart from the redemptive work of Jesus and the cross. Because of Jesus we have hope beyond babies and our family. I have hope of a perfect eternity.
If you want to know more about Nicole’s relationship with Jesus or her adoption process or just to chat please email her at

Babe In My Heart, Blogs, What We Love

Protecting The Family Jewels

June 1, 2017
  • By Henry Gardiner, Guest Blogger


Infertility is a struggle no-one should have to go through but sadly it is one that is on the rise. Across the world fertility rates are falling as more and more people fail to conceive.

The physical and emotional strain is felt most often by the woman. But in reality the causes of infertility can be very unclear. It is thought that the reasons behind failing to conceive are actually split evenly between the male and female partners with another 40% being just completely unknown.

There is a big difference between the reproductive system in a man versus a woman. Women are born with all their eggs – about two million – and won’t make any more during their life. Whereas men are constantly producing sperm, millions a day that take three to four months to mature. Both systems have their vulnerabilities.

You might think it is better to be consistently producing sperm than having to rely on a single deposit of eggs from birth. But this leaves sperm and male fertility at the mercy of changes that can cause a real problem.

Some dangers to sperm include lifestyle factors. Men need to take as much care of their bodies as women when trying for a baby. Abstaining from caffeine, alcohol, smoking and other drugs are important, as is keeping physically fit and healthy and avoiding stress. This helps a man’s fertility be in the best condition by maintaining good testosterone levels and healthy sperm.

That might seem like common sense but there are other factors you might not realise that pose a threat to male fertility with its greater sensitivity to the environment. One of these threats occupies a central role in our busy modern day lives and is often kept on us or at least within arm’s reach – our cell phones.

This is especially a problem for men, who often keep their cell in their front pocket or clipped on a belt – right next to where sperm are trying to develop. More and more research is coming out showing how cell phone radiation disrupts the production of sperm , causing damage to its DNA and affecting important factors like sperm motility and viability. Experts have described the effect as being like “cooking” sperm.

So in addition to healthy living and all the other trials of a fertility journey there are new threats to take account of. This one however needs just a bit of education and nifty gadgetry. Education about the risks of cell phones is important and something most people are not aware of. From this awareness came WaveWall, an innovative cell phone case designed to protect a man’s fertility that blocks 85% of cell phone radiation from reaching the body.

There are so many factors with infertility, and even with the wonders of modern medicine many of them are unknown. Male fertility is a delicate balancing act that is unfortunately increasingly under threat so we need to pay more attention and take action that could make all the difference.

Win a WaveWall phone case of your choice by commenting below!


Babe In My Arms, Blogs

The Business of Baby Making

May 30, 2017

By Kristin Carter, Guest Blogger


I really haven’t shared this story with many people. Fertility problems are so hard, and I don’t wish them on anyone. I can see how marriages can break up over such devastating news especially if the other partner isn’t supportive. I also think about the people that struggle that don’t have the means to pay for IVF. I still have drugs sitting in my fridge because I just can’t motivate myself to throw them away. I bought them after a morning appointment when they told me it was probably going to be another day but then later that day they decided to trigger me that evening. The drugs expired in 2012 but it’s painful to think about throwing out that kind of money. So I keep it in my fridge, because if it’s in there it’s still worth the $900 or so that I paid for them, right?! For those who struggle with infertility every baby shower, birth announcement, and pregnant person you see is a constant reminder that it’s not you. If I had a dollar for every person who asked when we were going to have a baby, or asks us when we are going to have baby #2 I would be able to pay off all of our fertility loans and maybe afford to have baby #2!

We were married the fall of 2007 at the time we were one of the last couples of our group of friends to get married and of course most everyone already had kids. The year we were married Matt was 37 and I was 32 and we were so excited to finally be married and planned on starting a family right away. After a year of thinking we were going to be pregnant almost every month we had had a conversation with another couple that were married the year before us and were also trying to have a baby. They mentioned that they were going to see a fertility doctor. I remember being surprised that they thought that they needed to seek help. I mentioned it to my husband and I was shocked when he agreed it was time we talk to someone about why we haven’t gotten pregnant. I quickly made a doctors appointment and we went the next week. I really didn’t think anything was wrong I just thought we might get a little “help” to make things happen quicker.

When we heard the news I remember thinking: “this doctor isn’t telling us the truth, he just wants us to spend thousands of dollars with him to do this procedure called IVF because he will make a lot of money”. Basically what I took home from that conversation was if you give me $28,000 I can get you pregnant tomorrow. Without IVF you will never have a baby. I thought this doctor was crazy. Our issue was a low sperm count, but a low sperm count is still in the millions. So in my mind, since it only takes one sperm then there could be one lucky one out of the millions. Well we tried that theory for about a year without a positive pregnancy test. I guess that doctor did know what he was talking about. We also finally told our parents the news. That was one of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had with them. I cried when I told my Mom that I wasn’t sure if we were ever going to have a baby. My parents have always been supportive but they became even more supportive when it came to having a baby. They told me that we needed to do everything that we can do to try and have a baby. They said we weren’t getting any younger and they would do anything they could to help us.
With that news from my parents I decided that maybe we did need to investigate the option of IVF even if it did mean taking out loans. We figured since we had paid off both of our cars and if we could just drive our cars long enough to pay off the IVF loan it would be the same as a car payment. So we tried out a new doctor and loved her right away. We decided to go with an IVF “package” that allowed us a couple of cycles if it didn’t work out the first time.

What many people don’t understand about IVF is the cost of the drugs, they are so expensive!! There are a few states that IVF is covered by insurance (Illinois & Massachusetts are two of them) and Matt is from IL and my Mom’s family is from MA and I seriously considered trying to get a job in both states! But we didn’t have time for that so we picked a package that allowed us 1 live retrieval followed by 2 frozen retrievals and then another live retrieval and 2 frozen if needed.

We started in June of 2011 with an retrieval and transferred two live embryos. We went in for the blood test and anxiously awaited the results. When the doctor finally called us she told us it was definite “maybe”. WHAT?!! I thought that it was a positive or negative not a maybe. I had NEVER heard of that before!! Well, I had a positive HCG count but it was a 21 and they like to see it much higher than that at the first blood test. So they made me come in two days later to see if my counts had doubled. When I went in for my second blood test my counts had doubled, so I was pregnant but they only doubled in the 40’s so they weren’t as high as they would like to see them. So I had to go in two days later and my count had gone down which means miscarriage. At this point devastation set in, but I also just wanted to be done. I wanted to get everything out of my system so we can start over.
Finally, we are able to try another transfer in November of 2010. This time we will try to transfer two frozen embryo’s (this clinic has a great success record for frozen transfers). We are so excited to transfer and are told by the doctor that they are such good quality that he wouldn’t be surprised if they are twins! Of course we are stoked with that news at the transfer and tell our parents how excited we are to hear the results. We are all on pins and needles the day of the blood test and await the call from the doctor. When I finally get the call, we find out that the test is negative. I remember thinking…..”WHAT? YOU ARE KIDDING ME?” What do we do now? The doctor told me that many couples that have been through what we have been through give it a couple of months to relax. Other say: “I signed up for this” and keep going. I remember thinking, “I totally signed up for this”. We told our parents the news and they took it really bad this time. I think this was worse than the miscarriage because they told us the quality of the embryo’s allowed us such a good chance.
So now we are at decision time….we have 1 frozen embryo left to transfer and the doctor tells us that because of the quality that we have to transfer before we do another live cycle. Which makes sense to us financially too because then we don’t have to pay for the drugs to go through another retrieval. But I remember thinking in my head “if this transfer of one embryo is successful it means we will have an only child”. I never in a million years thought I would have an only child. I don’t want my child to be alone; I want him/her to have a sibling so many things run through your head. But you want to have a miracle baby so bad. We transfer one embryo the first week of December 2010 we do things totally different this time, my husband made me eat Mexican instead of Paradise Bakery while on bed rest, we didn’t tell our parents or anyone we did a transfer this time, and our favorite doctor performed the transfer. We didn’t want to jinx ourselves. When our doctor called us, our HCG count was definite and she was so excited to tell us that we were FINALLY pregnant.

So yes, we have a beautiful miracle baby. We decided not to find out what we were having because I can seriously tell you to the date and minute that we conceived. I have pictures of that beautiful embryo. A beautiful amazing girl: Ainsley Marie was born to us on August 30, 2011. But no, we probably won’t be having #2. We are still paying off loans from #1 and needed to buy a bigger house and wanted to have a pool for that sweet girl as she grows up in the heat of Arizona. We couldn’t have another baby in the other house so it was either buy a new house or pay for another baby….but we needed to get a bigger house so bad that there really wasn’t a choice. We have our miracle baby (who is 5!). We have good friends who have children she will be close with, so hopefully she won’t mind being an only child. We are just lucky we have our girl!!! Infertility really puts life into perspective….I have friends that freaked out when they couldn’t get pregnant after a couple of months or didn’t get pregnant when they wanted to….but they didn’t go though this journey and couples that survive this journey know the gift they received

What The Fertility

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