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Crushed For Adoption

December 6, 2018

Written by Kelly Briscoe, Guest Blogger

Adoption.

There’s so much depth in the word adoption.

I knew from a very young age that adoption was going to be part of my story. I’ve felt crushed for it for a long, long time. The Lord has always had it on my heart and now I know why.

When I was dating my husband, Britt, I told him that adoption was something I knew was in my future and he knew it would be something we would do, we just weren’t sure when. Turns out, the reason the Lord had always crushed my heart for adoption was because that was the way He wanted us to grow each little one that would come into our family. I love that so much. He had prepared my heart for adoption in more ways that I can count and that makes me giddy.

Britt and I decided in April of 2017 to begin the adoption process. We knew going in it would be a few things: expensive, long, trying. We had no idea what it would bring and it still surprises me each day, even after bringing our girl home. I thought I knew, and actually I’m glad with how much I’ve learned.

After a lot of Googling, researching, and calling, we decided a consulting agency (that many had recommended) was the direction we felt lead to take. We felt like that was a huge hurdle to jump.

When we finally got our home study approved – it was such an amazing feeling. We made and completed our profile book that was going to be shown to potential birth families. That was such an emotional process. 16 pages of us. We included a letter to potential expectant mamas and we prayed over each beautiful woman who would hold our book. We wanted her to know she was loved and chosen by the one and only. I can’t imagine having to make such a huge decision for your baby based only on 16 pages from a stranger. The weight of that truth is insane.

So profile book done, paperwork done – it was time to start presenting to potential expectant mamas. After talking with our agency, we were anticipating waiting for a good while before hearing “yes, they chose you.” We were sure it would be a while, so we prepared and fundraised (I could talk about this all day because GOD SHOWED UP). We got our first case the day after we went active. Seeing the email come through lead to a rush of emotions!! We praised God because it felt like we would never get there, but here we were, stalking our emails, praying like crazy, and soaking it all in. People ask me all the time how I knew when it was time to say yes to a case. I actually don’t know. I just felt this feeling. So we said yes. We got a call at 8:30pm from our consultant on a Wednesday night. “Mama C chose you!!!” And then tears and tears and more tears. Freaking out. Then more tears. We were so unbelievably grateful for Eleanor’s birth mother had chosen us to be her parents.

Let me tell you one thing to NEVER take for granted in the adoption process. The amazing birth mama, our Mama C. Think about the gift (no really, sit and think) and tell me they’re not completely and utterly amazing. This beautiful woman read our book and decided we would be the ones to raise her baby. Not only that – she would allow this family to be in the room when her tiny babe came into the world. She would let this family cut the cord from her to her baby. Lord Almighty can only write that story. We’re so crazy in love with Eleanor’s birth mama. God gave us each other. We’re so thankful He did. I could speak about this all day long, friends.

Adoption is truly something else. Something that’s hard to describe but it can be both beautiful and hard for everyone in the triad. There’s only one who could knit such a stunning story and process. One Heavenly Father that would bring two families together. One God that would know this is what our hearts need. Not just a daughter to hold, but a birth mother to love, a community to cherish, and a God to thank and praise each day. It brought us so much further in our faith and I am so in awe of that.

So here’s what I suggest if you’re thinking about the adoption process:

  • Listen. Take the time and really listen to what the Lord is saying.
  • Pray like you’ve never prayed before.
  • Find your people. Trust me when I say that you need people that understand what you’re going through. Even if it’s just one person. Find them. Don’t let them go.
  • If you hear Him say yes, don’t ignore it. Be kinda scared, but listen like it’s your job. Don’t turn Him down. He’ll make it happen – you just need to say yes.
  • Be the light of the Lord in all that you do during the process.

Starting or being in the adoption process can be intimidating, scary, amazing. If you have questions or just need to chat, please feel free to reach out to me. I would be so honored. kellyhallbriscoe@gmail.com.

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Where there is Life, there is Love

November 30, 2018

Written by Sosina, Guest Blogger

There is a reason epidurals exist. Bringing a baby into this world is painful! Not only is there contractions and exhaustion, there is also the ring of fire and the dreaded tearing! Even with an epidural you still must endure a catheter and immense pressure. Bringing a baby into this world is painful! Too bad there’s no “mental epidural” for bringing a baby into the world through infertility or adoption. Now that would be nice! But just like giving birth, even through infertility struggles and adoption pains, once that baby is placed in your arms, you will experience the halo effect. Meaning: all the pain is eclipsed by the relief and joy. At least, that’s how my adoption experience went.

Our story starts with a desire to have children through adoption, but also biologically. Like many other couples, we decided to start with biological children. Well, that didn’t happen. We discovered that I had pelvic floor and fertility issues; and my husband also had fertility issues. We did 6 months of Clomid and Ovidrel therapy and 4 medicated IUIs. Nothing worked. In fact, as our pregnancy tests kept coming up negative, our doctor’s tests were showing that our infertility issues were being resolved. I started ovulating on my own, my cycle became regular, and my husband started producing healthy samples. But even without a specific diagnosis, we weren’t getting pregnant. I remember sitting in prayer, believing God had put adoption on my heart for a reason, and saying to myself “No matter how much money or time we spend on adoption, at the end there is a baby. That’s a promise fertility treatments and timed intercourse can’t make.” (I have to admit, I cringe at that statement now. But I’m just being real y’all!) Thus, we went full speed ahead with adoption.

I met with all the adoptive moms I knew and called all the agencies they referred me to. We went with the agency that had the least amount of fees, the shortest wait time, and the assurance that disrupted adoptions (when the birth mom chooses to parent) were few. (Now, if you’re a part of the adoption community, that last sentence is going to make you cringe. We were not asking the right questions and we paid for it!) We ended up having 3 adoptions fail at that agency in about 6 months. Each one was a unique circumstance and devastating in it’s own way. But the last one opened my eyes that this wasn’t an agency we wanted to be associated with. Not only did they never offer me any care as I was struggling through the adoption losses, but I realized they showed little care to the expectant moms. The last mom who had asked us to adopt her baby had been asking the social workers for help getting on food stamps and getting an ID. They didn’t help her; instead they told her she could probably do that herself. They didn’t teach her about open adoption; instead they asked her if she would be okay not ever seeing her baby again. This mom ended up placing her child with another agency, to a different family. Frustrated with this experience, later that month we attended a support group and heard that the only 2 social workers were leaving and they currently had no plans to bring another social worker on. We left that meeting knowing it was time to move on but didn’t know to where or how to keep our adoption hope alive.

To make a very complicated story a little less complicated, an agency contacted us because they were looking for interracial couples. We were then matched with a baby boy due in May. This was the first match where I really got to enjoy the pregnancy. I got to hear the heart beat and see ultrasounds. I got to name the baby and call him by his name. I texted back and forth with the expectant mom as if she was a friend. But once the baby was born, his mom decided to parent him. She said her whole pregnancy she felt as if she was the surrogate, until she had him, and then she knew she was his mom. I am grateful to have gotten to support this woman through her pregnancy, but my heart was broken. I returned home and decided I was done with adoption. I was totally content being an amazing auntie to my kid’s friends.  So far, motherhood was painful and I determined it was not for me. I wondered if maybe God was protecting children from what a terrible mother I would be. I was hurting. I couldn’t concentrate at work. My memory had become crappy. I was having a hard time sleeping. I lacked all motivation for the future. I googled my symptoms and the consistent result was grief. I was grieving. Meanwhile, our adoption agency put us on the “do not call unless the baby is born and TPR is signed” list. (TPR is termination of parental rights, meaning the birth mom can no longer change her mind. This is usually done 48 hours after birth.)

Six weeks after that 4th disruption, my son was born. I would love to share all of his story of how his first mom found out she was pregnant and what her pregnancy was like and all of her story. But I would rather tell my son first, so it’ll be about 18+ years before I’m writing those things down for the internet to see, if ever. But I’ll tell you my side of the story. I got a call on June 5th about a “white baby boy born yesterday who will need to spend 7-8 weeks in the NICU. Do you want to present to his mom?” I wanted to say no, NO! Because I had told them I was done presenting to expectant moms, I just wanted to get a call saying there was a baby with TPR already signed. But I already loved that little baby and was picturing myself sitting in the NICU for 2 months so I opened my mouth and said “yes”. Well, so did EIGHTEEN other families. I thought it was a long shot that we would get chosen out of 18 other families. But we said yes and I wrote his mom a letter telling her that “where there is life, there is love”; a quote I had seen on a bracelet at Target. Finally after 5 long days, I got a text from our social worker saying that the expectant mom was finally narrowing it down and wanted to ask us a question. So she called us. It was 8 pm on a Sunday evening and the question was “are you ready to meet your son?” I burst into tears of grief and relief. His birth mom burst into tears of grief and relief. We drove 4 hours to the NICU, calling my boss on the way to tell him I wouldn’t be at work the next day or at all for the next 4 months. I got to the NICU and cried and celebrated for an hour with his birth mom. When she left, the nurse put my 3 lb son on my chest. The moment I felt his paper thin skin on my skin, I kid you not, I forgot all about the infertility, the 4 failed adoptions, the unethical agency, and the pain. I forgot it all. The halo effect!

My son is the best thing that ever happened to me. I understand that he came into my family because his first family couldn’t care for him. And I know that’s never God’s original plan. I know that infertility is never God’s original plan, that he desires health for us. But I also believe that redemption trumps brokenness. That when God’s original plans are broken, his redemptive nature makes a way for birth moms, adoptees, and those struggling with infertility to have healing and shalom. His birth mom gave him life. Where there is life, there is love; and we have no shortage of that in our redeemed triad!

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Dear Family and Friends, Part 2

November 26, 2018

Written by Heather, Guest Blogger

Part two in our 3 part series! These journal entries share the ups and downs of the roller coaster that is trying to have a baby when you’re walking the path of infertility. If you are also walking that path, may you be encouraged and know you are not alone.

June 25

We are not pregnant. Thank you for your prayers.

Allen & Heather

Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

July 17

Hello Family and Friends,

Allen and I felt like we needed to update everyone on where we are on this journey.

This past month has been very emotional and challenging for us. The last time we “talked” we found out that our “one” frozen embryo transfer did not work. We just knew this transfer was going to be the “one” –the one to give us our miracle baby. We were shocked and sadden by the news.

We are angry, confused, hurt, and devastated. Yet, somehow we are still trying to remain hopeful and faithful. We have now been trying to start a family for 868 days, yep, that’s what I said… 868 days! It is hard for people to understand what we are going through. Most people just decide, “Hey, let’s have a baby!” and within 10-12 months they have a sweet baby to love.  We are trying hard not to let this consume us, but that is very difficult. Everyday we are somehow reminded that we aren’t yet parents.

And we can’t help but ask ourselves….

Where is He? Doesn’t He hear our prayers?

Why we aren’t good enough?

Why can they have kids and not us?

Did we do something wrong in our past life?

Why do people who abuse and neglect their kids get to have them and we can’t?

Why do we have to go through the emotional, physical, mental, and financial stress?

When will it be our turn?

Are we being punished?

So where does that leave us now?

On June 26, the day after we found out our FET didn’t work; we received a call from Dr. K. We again were told the same thing we heard after our failed fresh transfer, “Everything seems right and we don’t know why you aren’t getting pregnant.”

Dr. K recommended that we try another round of IVF. So, Allen and I made the decision to start the entire process over again. I wanted to get started immediately so that I could do the egg retrieval during the summer, when I’m not stressed out. Dr. K did put us on a little different protocol, upping my doses for some medicines. We will not transfer any embryos after the retrieval like we did in March. We will freeze everything that we get. More studies are now showing that Frozen Transfers are more successful because your body is not so stimulated from the meds taken for the egg retrieval. Allen and I plan to schedule our frozen transfer in October, during my Fall Break.

We went in yesterday for my baseline ultrasound and everything is on track. Meds started today. Allen gets to be a scientist again and mix my meds every morning. I am injecting the needle into my belly morning and night. These aren’t as bad as the hip muscle shots that Allen had to give me for our FET. If all continues on schedule, we will be doing the egg retrieval within the next 10 days or so. That is when I go under anesthesia and they retrieve as many good eggs as they can.

Prayer Request:

  1. That Allen and I can continue to remain hopeful.
  2. That my body continues to cooperate.
  3. That I produce lots of beautiful and big follicles during the egg retrieval.

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers during this emotional journey.

Much Love,

Allen and Heather

Romans 12:12

July 26

Our Egg Retrieval Day!

Specific prayer request:

  1. That the Doctors retrieve lots of healthy eggs.
  2. That those eggs become embryos.
  3. That those embryos grow for several days, get good grades, and are frozen.

Thank you for your prayers,

Allen and Heather

 

July 28

Yesterday’s egg retrieval went fine. Thank you for your prayers and sweet emails, texts, and calls.

The Doctor was able to get eight eggs. And we received a call yesterday afternoon that all eight had matured….which was amazing news!

But as the roller coaster of infertility goes, our call today wasn’t as good. We only have four eggs that fertilized, meaning they are now embryos. Of course, we wanted all eight to fertilize, but we are thankful for these strong four. The embryologist will continue to watch them daily. We pray they divide as they should and that all four of them make it to Day 5 to be frozen!

***Please pray for our embryos***

Thank you,

Allen & Heather

 

August 4

Hello Family and Friends,

Just a recap and update on our egg retrieval from last week–
8 eggs were retrieved
8 matured
4 fertilized, becoming embryos
and
1 made it and is now frozen. It was a Day 5, grade A. (Perfect)

Of course Allen and I wanted 5 or 6 to freeze but we are thankful for our one perfect embryo. Several women go through an egg retrieval and have nothing to freeze.

We plan to transfer during the first of October, over my Fall Break.

Thank you for your constant love and support! This is the hardest thing either one of us have ever experienced. I have learned through this 2 1/2 year journey, that Allen and I can do anything together. We are stronger and closer than most couples because of what we have endured. And no matter what God’s plan is for us, I know He definitely blessed me with the most loving, caring and devoted man out there!

Much Love,
Heather & Allen

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

October 1

Another bump in our road…a BIG bump!

Our transfer has been postponed indefinitely. Over the past several months my body has not had a menstrual cycle. Dr K wants to do the transfer when my body starts cooperating. While this is heartbreaking and frustrating we understand this and want to make sure everything is absolutely perfect for our “last chance embryo.” We will not be doing another IVF retrieval.I have called to request an appointment with him and the earliest we can get in is Dec 2– just another set back for us. It is incredibly difficult for us to remain hopeful or patient with the constant challenges we are faced with.

During our meeting with Dr. K we plan to discuss other options. We are considering using a surrogate. Here we have a perfect embryo but as we know, my body isn’t functioning properly. Not to mention that my body hasn’t accepted the last three good embryos that we have transferred. If you know of someone that feels a calling to be a surrogate please let me know. I would want it to be someone who gets pregnant easily and has carried her babies to term. They will have to go through a psychiatric evaluation, take pills and injections, complete the embryo transfer, and remain on bed rest for three days in a stress free environment. And of course, it would be at the expense of Allen and me. We will have an attorney help with the legal matter.

We are also looking into the adoption process. We have attended a conference and I have had dinner with a friend who has adopted. We aren’t ready to put our name on a list, but we are in the “research” stage.

You have no idea what all goes into surrogacy and adoption. If adoption is God’s plan for us, I’m great with that…but WOW it’s an intense process.

Please continue to pray for our patience while waiting to see what God’s plan is for us.

Much Love,

Heather & Allen

 

November 8

Overwhelmed… That would be the best word to describe how Allen and I are feeling right now. We have been doing lots of research recently as we pursue both surrogacy and adoption.

I have talked with the foremost Tennessee surrogacy attorney in Nashville. She said that finding a surrogate is the most challenging part. With that being said; I have personally “interviewed” a potential surrogate, talked on the phone with another surrogate, met with a girl using a surrogate, and met with another girl due with twins via surrogate next month.

We also met with an adoption attorney. He provided us with valuable information confirming that we will pursue independent (private) adoption rather than using an adoption agency. Independent adoptions can save time, racial preference, less expensive and the possibility of knowing someone who knows the birth mother. His best piece of advice for us is to put the word out there letting people know that we are interested in adopting a baby. Most people get connected to someone by “word of mouth.”

A home study is required for all adoptions. The adoption process is quite grueling. Part (but not all!) of the process includes attending a introduction meeting, a couple interview, personal interviews, 40 page questionnaire, background check, home inspection, references, financial disclosures, compiling a personal portfolio, etc.  Overwhelmed is all I can say!

So you ask how can YOU help us? You can pray for us as we continue our journey for a family. And you can mention to friends, Church, business associates, social media, etc. that you have a friend/couple looking to adopt a baby. (please don’t identify us on social media) Word of mouth is what we need. Thank you!

Allen and Heather

 

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Baby Brother On Deck

November 19, 2018

Written by Kate Starrett, Guest Blogger

 

It was summer of 2015 when my husband and I decided it was time to start a family. We had both had stable jobs, we had paid off our school debt, and had just bought a house with 4 bedrooms that I imagined filling with babies. The timing was just right, in my mind. We actually became pregnant quickly. Only 3-4 months after throwing out the last of my birth control. I was a little surprised but not really… we had planned for this so why wouldn’t it happen easily? Even though we lost that sweet baby to miscarriage at 8 weeks, I wasn’t concerned about conceiving again because surely it would happen quickly like the first time. Except it didn’t.

 

Months went by… and I started to get worried. I bought ovulation tests and found that I wasn’t ovulating most months and I began trying all the supplements, teas, and diet changes I could think of to try and get my hormones rebalanced. Nothing worked. After some episodes of abdominal pain in August of 2016, an ultrasound showed I had a tennis ball size endometrioma on my ovary! This was surgically removed, and surgery confirmed my doctor’s suspicion of endometriosis. The cyst returned 3 months later requiring a second operation. We started trying Clomid and Ovidrel injections to get my ovulation back on track.

 

During the months between surgery, we also began researching adoption agencies. We had talked early on in our marriage about adoption and knew we wanted to at some point, so why not now? We found an agency for domestic infant adoption that we loved in Indianapolis and after four months of background checks, home studies, and paperwork, we were active and expectant mothers would start to be shown our bio. At this point we focused less on my ovulation and conceiving, and were fully committed to adopting. And then, three months later (much sooner than we could have ever hoped), we got the call that we had been chosen! Mama A was 20 weeks along with a baby boy. We were at Wrigley Field, sadly watching our beloved Cubs lose to the Brewers, when they all came and our lives changed forever, turning that day into one of my most favorite days. 

 

 

From the time of our miscarriage in 2015, to being matched with Mama A in summer of 2017, we weathered many other storms. While struggling with infertility, I had to process three of my sisters-in-law announcing pregnancy (some of them twice in that time period!), as well as my father battling lymphoma (and he’s now in remission!), AND my husband’s brain surgery to remove a benign, but dangerously large mass that was discovered just after we finished our adoption paperwork.

Don’t worry, it gets crazier. 

 

Throughout the rest of Mama A’s pregnancy we got to meet her a few times and build a relationship with her. We loved each other immediately. The months flew by. With baby due mid-November, our agency gave the okay to my husband to go on a business trip to Ireland near the end of October. Surely he’ll be back in time right? Do babies come early that often? I bet you can guess what happened. Baby came right in the middle of his trip! I was finally on my way to work the morning of October 25 (after locking myself out of my house at 6am and walking to our neighbors house barefoot and in a robe while it’s 30 degrees out and calling a locksmith to let me back in) when I got a text saying baby was here and I needed to head north with a hospital bag and car seat! I called my husband in a panic who still couldn’t get home for 2 more days, and then my mom who was able to come along and stay in the hospital with me.

 

 

I felt sick while at the hospital. I was nervous, my husband wasn’t with me, and of course Mama A could still make the choice to parent her son.. so I still had to wait until she relinquished her rights. She did, and she and I bonded over those two days. I’ll never forget that time we shared. We took our son, Ian, home where he met his daddy the next day. As it turns out, I still felt sick. No appetite at all. Completely exhausted. Still nerves? Major life adjustment bringing home a newborn? Probably some of that. But also because I was 5 weeks pregnant. We were shocked! We just brought home this baby and we’re already going to have another one?! Baby was due June 2018. They would be 8 months apart. 

Well, Ian was the most chill baby ever, which was a huge blessing to his pregnant mom. And my pregnancy was extremely uneventful (not even morning sickness!) which was a huge blessing when you have a newborn to take care of.  Wes joined our family in June of 2018. Our two miracle boys. 

 

God has allowed many trials in our lives. But He has lavished goodness on us as well. I don’t look back on the last 3 years fondly. I’m certain I’ve shed more tears in the last 3 years than in my entire life. In the last 3 years we struggled to be thankful sometimes. We were angry sometimes. We didn’t trust sometimes. But we still knew God is good. Not good in that He grants our every last wish. This world is broken… people hurt, children get sick, disasters happen. But when things get hard, God has grace for these moments. When it seemed to painful for us to bear one more burden, His grace carried it for us. There is no way we could have handled it on our own. To God be the glory!

 

“For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.” – Psalm 86:5

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Dear Family and Friends

November 16, 2018

Written by Heather, Guest Blogger

Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing a three part series taking a closer look at one couple’s journey to starting their family! These journal entries share the ups and downs of the roller coaster that is trying to have a baby when you’re walking the path of infertility. If you are also walking that path, may you be encouraged and know you are not alone.

January 21

Dear Family and Friends,

Many of you know the infertility struggles that Allen and I have faced for the past two years. We want to bring you up to date and ask for your prayers and support as we move forward on this journey.

We were referred by my OBGYN to a fertility specialists. After our first meeting, they ran several tests on my fallopian tubes and decided to begin with the IUI treatment.

After our 2nd IUI procedure, we were pregnant. We were blessed to have a baby and to see its heartbeat every week for four weeks. We were shocked and confused when we lost our baby at 9 weeks. It was our “graduation day” from the clinic. There are no words to express how you feel after losing a baby. The doctors then had to perform a D & C to remove tissue in my cervix.  We had genetic testing done and discovered that we lost our baby because he or she had too many chromosomes. Dr. K said that was the best news for a horrible situation. It is very common in miscarriages and hopefully that will not happen again.

After waiting three months for my body to recover, we immediately tried with another IUI, feeling hopeful since we had just gotten pregnant. Unfortunately our 3rd and 4th IUIs did not work. We then meet with Dr. K to discuss our next steps. He suggested a Double IUI- a higher more advanced approach. After our 5th and 6th IUIs we still were not pregnant.

This brings you up to date. Because of our 6 failed IUIs and my age we have made the decision to move forward with IVF.

We ask that you please continue to keep us in your prayers. We want more than anything in the world to be parents. Allen and I have prayed so hard for so long that we need others to pray with us and for us. We are struggling with God’s plan and don’t understand why He is putting us through so much emotional, physical, mental and financial heartache. We need help and support from our family and friends. We are an open book and want/need people to ask where we are in our journey. I will continue to keep you updated through email and will ask you to pray for specific things throughout our process.

Much Love,

Allen & Heather

photo by: tatiana

March 2

Well, tomorrow (Tuesday, March 3) is a BIG day!

Allen and I will be at the surgery center at 7:15 a.m. for my egg retrieval.

Prayer request at this time:

  1. That Allen and I can remain calm. The Dr. did prescribe me a Valium for tonight to help me sleep. That was very thoughtful! Allen was wondering why they don’t give the husband one, too.
  2. That the Dr. get lots of beautiful and healthy eggs.
  3. That my eggs fertilize with the sperm and we get some amazing embryos.
  4. That our embryos grow until Day 5 (that’s the best situation). If they are ready at Day 3, they will transfer then.

Much Love,

Allen & Heather

 

March 4

Yesterday’s egg retrieval went well. They put me under, so obviously I don’t remember a thing, except for when the ceiling started to look 3-D.

Dr. K came to see me in the recovery room to tell me that he got out 8 eggs, and he thought 6 were good in size, but we would have to wait to hear from the embryologist on Wednesday (today).

When I got home yesterday, I pretty much slept all day. I did have some pain and discomfort, but nothing unbearable. Dr. A. has been a great caregiver with pills, meals, and loving support!

It was recommended that I stay home today to rest because I may still be sore and uncomfortable. It’s not too bad. I have been anxiously awaiting the embryologist phone call.

SOOOO, the embryologist just called and told me that Dr. K had removed 8 eggs (which we knew), and that 5 were mature. But the better part is that all of my eggs fertilized through ICSI.

Not all eggs will fertilize, so that’s awesome news!!! Now we wait again to see how our fertilized eggs grow.

Prayers are still needed!!! The journey isn’t over yet.

  1. That our precious five eggs continue to grow strong and mighty! And that they make it to Day 5!
  2. That Allen and I can remain calm and stay positive!
  3. That the embryologist is watching our eggs carefully and taking good care of them!

Thank you all for your love, support and prayers! The Lord hears your prayers, and we feel them everyday!

Allen & Heather

 

March 5

Well, The embryologist just called and it was not what we wanted to hear. I’m in tears as I type this and need to understand God’s plans for us. We need prayers now more than ever!

Here’s today’s report on our 5 embryos:

1 embryo- scored a B+ (on an A-D chart). “Good not excellent” according to the embryologist.

1 embryo- scored a B+ (on an A-D chart).  “Good not excellent” according to the embryologist.

1 embryo- is moving slow

1 embryo- is moving slow

1 embryo- is a low grade

So, at this point we have 2 embryos that they will transfer on Day 3, tomorrow.  The Dr. said that they will do better in their own environment at this stage.

Prayers:

  1. That the embryos continue to grow stronger by tomorrow. They could change grades in 24 hrs. So let’s pray for them to stay at a B+, or move up to an A.
  2. That Allen and I can stay calm and hopeful.
  3. That the Dr. performs a good and easy transfer tomorrow.
  4. **** That our two beautiful embryos will stick to my uterus wall and we will begin our family.

Thank you for your prayers.

Allen and Heather

 

 March 6

This morning I woke up with lots of anxiety but felt comfortable once we saw the Dr.

We were told that our 2 embryos both had 8 cells each, which is the best outcome.

One embryo remained a B+ and other dropped to a B-.

Dr. B assured us that our embryos looked healthy and that lots of women have success with Day 3 transfers. The transfer went well and was not painful.

I am now at home on strict bed rest until Monday.  They recommend a stress free environment with laughter.  So Allen has hooked up the DVD player in our bedroom so I can binge on my favorite series, “The Golden Girls.” I have the complete box set.

Thank you for your continued support, prayers, and sweet messages. They have meant so much to us!

We are now in the “dreaded 2 week wait.” We will keep you posted. So no more   daily reports for a while!

Prayer request still needed:

  1. That our two healthy embryos will stick to my uterine wall.
  2. And that we have a healthy baby(s) developing.
  3. That the other two embryos that were rated “slow moving” will continue to grow so that they can be frozen.

Much Love,

Allen & Heather

photo by: cinthia

March 16

Allen and I are not pregnant.

I started bleeding yesterday and called the nurse. She asked that I come in today and have my HCG (pregnancy hormone) tested. Sometimes women can bleed, but still have a positive test.

I received the phone call today around 3:15. I think in my mind I knew this morning that our IVF process didn’t work, but I was in denial. I couldn’t accept it until the phone call came in. The nurse didn’t have any information for me. She just told me that my levels were 0 and at this stage they should be over 500. She said that Dr. K would be calling me this week to discuss our situation.

I’m not sure where we go from here. We do have one frozen embryo. (B+)

Allen and I are angry, confused, hurt, devastated, shocked, pissed, scared…. And so much more right now.

We need your prayers. Prayers for us to stay hopeful and not to lose our faith.

Allen & Heather

 

May 28

And so the journey continues….

After our failed IVF in March Dr. K informed us that all of our stats were above average. He went on to say that unfortunately no Dr. in the world knows what happens to those embryos once that are released into the uterus. All of our reports showed a successful outcome.

Dr. K recommended I wait one month to do our frozen embryo transfer procedure. He believes that our one frozen embryo has the same positive stats as our two fresh embryos. That was good news! So, if we waited one month that would put us doing the transfer at the end of April …and well let’s just say that is a tough “stressful” time for a teacher. So we decided to let our little embryo “chill” in the freezer for another month.

I was instructed to call when my cycle began in May. On May 8, I called the nurse, super pumped about starting the next phase and thinking the transfer would be this week, May 28! To my surprise, I was informed that the lab was closed for the entire month of May! WHAT? The lab closed? For an entire month? How is that possible? So, here we go again, taking a step backwards…the next day I was put on birth control. Talk about a hormonal ride! This now bumped us another month– June!

Yesterday began the next part of our journey. I went in for my baseline ultrasound and blood work for our frozen egg transfer. I started my Estrogen pills today and go back in on June 11 for another ultrasound and blood work. At this point we are watching my uterus lining and trying to thicken it. They are also checking for any cysts.

With all that being said, Allen and I have been on this emotional journey for 27 months. We have had 6 IUIs, one pregnancy with a miscarriage (a year ago June 3), one failed IVF with two fresh embryos, and we are still holding onto our faith. We constantly remind ourselves and each other that God has a plan for us. Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the PLANS I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to PROSPER you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a FUTURE.”

I’m not telling you this so you can feel sorry for us. I’m telling you this because we need your prayers as we continue to move forward in this journey. We want to hear that our family and friends are praying with us.

-Allen and Heather

 

photo by: Nisha

June 16

Thank you all for your sweet and encouraging emails, calls, and texts.  They mean so much to us.

Today was our big day!  We arrived at the Surgery Center at 10am where they took my blood work, checked my vitals, and gave me a Valium.  When Dr. K came in to our room he said that Dr. D (the embryologist) told him that this embryo was going to get us pregnant. He also told us that this embryo looked as good, if not better, than our two fresh embryos. Our frozen embryo was rated a B+ or 4BA.  (4AA is consider perfect)

The transfer went smoothly and Dr. K was very pleased. My uterus was already tilted, which is very helpful. He said only about a 1/3 are naturally positioned that way. So, now I’m on bed rest with the Golden Girls, books, and color sheets. (New studies show that adult coloring relieves stress) Allen is taking good care of me…he’s incredibly patient, loving, and supportive. I thank God for blessing me with such a strong man to stand beside me on this journey.

Please continue to pray that our embryo implants perfectly to my uterine wall.  Please pray that it grows and develops without flaw and that we deliver a healthy baby in the time frame that is needed.

Much Love,

Allen & Heather

Babe In My Arms, Babe In My Belly, Babe In My Heart, Blogs

10 Tips for Navigating Adoption

November 13, 2018

Are you just starting out on your adoption journey? Or know someone who is? It can be an overwhelming thing when you are beginning the process and are looking at mounds of paperwork, a looming home study, and questions (from you and everyone else!)

We have asked some mamas who have walked the path of adoption for their advice to anyone starting an adoption journey and wanted to share some of their tips with you!

10 TIPS FOR NAVIGATING ADOPTION:

  1. COMMUNITY:  “Surround yourself now with a community of people who love you and support your journey—you’ll need that support and encouragement along the way.”
  2. PATIENCE:  “Manage your expectations going in, and prepare yourself to be extremely patient.”
  3. MARRIAGE: “If you have a significant other, try as hard as you can to stay on the same page. This journey is hard on the heart, mind, and body – so communication and support are incredibly important!”
  4. OPENNESS: “Your child’s adoption story is theirs, don’t share with everyone. It’s the child’s to share if they decide. Also – if you are considering an open adoption, think about what openness means for you and your family.”
  5. ORGANIZATION:  “Keep copies of EVERYTHING! Many forms require the same information to be entered, so staying organized and having documentation you’ll need over and over again is imperative.”
  6. EMOTIONS: “Be prepared for a roller coaster of emotions – happy, sad, frustrated, excited and mostly patience! Research your options and research medical issues as much as you are able, so you can prepare as well as possible for the future.”
  7. HOME STUDY: “Home Study’s are a breeze- just complete your paperwork ASAP! Also it’s a great idea to have your finances in place before you go live (or at least have a plan!)  There are lots of great ideas for fundraising out there, too!”
  8. RESEARCH: “Research, research and research some more the agency you want to go with!!! Do not just call the references they give you.  Do as much research as you can, but also trust your gut.”
  9. ENJOY THE JOURNEY: “It’s a journey! This means it can be exciting, scary and bumpy and then back to exciting. Some unexpected turns will arise, so pack your bags for the unexpected.”
  10. BREATHE:  “Take a deep breathe and try to stay as calm as you can! Everything happens for a reason and will lead you to your child.”

If you have any other questions about where to begin on your adoption journey, feel free to reach out!  Adoption is an adventure, and it truly does take a village!

Whether you’re just starting or in the middle of your adoption journey, be sure to follow us on Instagram! There are lots amazing adoptive mamas on Instagram where you’ll find encouragement and a community who truly understands! 

 

 

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Smith, Party of 6

November 7, 2018

Written by Charissa Smith, Guest Blogger

Dozens of times a day I count my children.  One, two, three, four.  One, two, three, four.  One, two, three, four.  And no matter how many times I count those sweet, little people I can never shake the feeling that someone is missing.  Maybe it is a result of all those children that I dreamt up while struggling through infertility or that sweet child that we lost before I even realized I was pregnant or the four boys that we had the honor of caring for while they were in community foster care.  But I just can never shake that feeling that someone is missing; that there is this piece of our family, of my heart out there somewhere.

Some people are meant to be lawyers or nurses or teachers, I was made to be a mother.  I knew it and so did anyone that knew me.  So it was quite the blow four years ago when month after month I didn’t get pregnant.  As a 27 year old newlywed, I just assumed that if we left the possibility open for a few months we would soon be expecting, but that wasn’t what happened for us.  In fact it would take years to get any kind of answers other than. “It will happen when it’s meant to happen.”  After a year of trying, we decided to reevaluate our family plan of having a few children and then completing our family through adoption.  God had made it very clear to me while serving on a missions trip in Africa that we were called to domestic adoption, specifically adoption through foster care (but that’s a whole other story!), so we refocused our efforts to getting licensed to foster and adopt while always leaving the opportunity for a biological child open.

For us foster care was HARD.  Getting into classes that worked with my husband’s work schedule was hard.  Getting our new home to meet our state rules was hard—and expensive.  Having to jump through extra hoops required for licensing was hard.  Waiting was hard.  Having absolutely no control was hard.  Having to say goodbye to a child that we loved and dreamt of a future with was EXCRUCIATING.  I did not believe in love at first sight until the moment that our first foster son was handed to me.  The emotions that I felt in that instant to protect and love him were as fierce as they were overwhelming.  In the eight months to follow we would have a total of four boys fill our home with laughter and joy.  And each time they would leave was a devastating blow.  It was 10,000 times harder than our journey with infertility.  We absolutely love those boys and would take any of them back into our lives in whatever capacity we could at any moment.  They are our sons.

No matter how much I loved my boys I always had the gut feeling that our first-born would be a girl.  To be honest I idolized the experience of being a girl mom with the frilly dresses, cute hairstyles, ballet classes, and mommy/daughter activities.  Then one day scrolling through Facebook I saw a post from a foster mom looking for a forever family for her two young girls.  At that moment we had a one month old and a four month old and we knew that there were relatives working towards getting custody but were in denial that either—let alone both—would be leaving us any time soon so I just scrolled on by.  But I simply couldn’t shake the feeling that I should respond to her post.  And after a day of going back and forth on if I should respond or not I decided to just get a little more information.  Just a couple of days later, we met our daughters for the first time.  Now it would take a couple of months before they would be placed in our care (and one court hearing that sent the case back over a year for our younger daughter because of an error) but they were finally in our lives and it simply felt right.

So here we are with a 4 month old, 12 month old, and a 2 ½ year old when we find out that it is confirmed that the girl’s biological mother is pregnant and due in just a month!  With our foster son’s plan heading towards a kinship placement we said yes to taking the baby and prepared for the best Christmas present ever!!  We brought our son home just two days before Christmas, but we had to say goodbye to our foster son just nine days after that.  We settled in as a family of five with everyone’s case headed towards severance and adoption, but like every other part of our journey to becoming parents it had to blow up in our faces first.

We heard the words no foster parent headed to adoption ever once to hear, “The children’s biological grandmother has a positive home study.  You need to prepare for them to be leaving your care.”  We were heart broken.  Our adoptive placement with a three year case history was being derailed and all we could do was sit back and watch it happen, praying that whatever happened it was truly what was best for the kids.  It was this time of indecision that family friend’s approached my grandparents to see if we would be interested in a private adoption.  Their youngest son’s birth mom was seven months pregnant and looking for a loving home for the baby and through much prayer they had felt lead to us.

I’m sure my husband thought I was insane—everyone else did—but I instantly knew we had to take this baby.  Whether our other three stayed or went in my heart I just knew this was our answer to prayer, our special child.  And my goodness is she ever!!  In August our sweet girl was born via cesarean and I was right there for not only her birth but also for those first snuggles, first bottle, first diaper change, all of it!  In fact I stayed in the hospital with her and her biological mother until we were able to come home.  It was an amazing experience to be there from the moment she was born.  However, her adoption was not a breeze either.  Her biological father refused to sign papers, her biological mother experienced second thoughts, the cost nearly tripled, and her adoption was delayed three months due to a lawyer’s mistake.  But we made it through each hurdle and she was worth it all!

At this same time the judge declared that the other three were safer and better off in our care. After thirteen months we were able to adopt our eldest daughter and then six months later we adopted her two younger siblings, our middle children.  We were licensed on April 17, 2016 and finalized our last two adoptions April 16, 2018 so in exactly two years our family was complete.  It is not how we thought it would happen and was definitely not on our timetable but it was exactly what was always meant to be.  And I will never get over the joy of hearing, “Smith, party of 6.”  That is unless there is a surprise yet in store for us.  A mama can still hope, right?

If you’d like to connect with Charissa, you can find her on Instagram!

Babe In My Arms, Blogs, Uncategorized

Full Hands, Fuller Heart

November 5, 2018

Written by Heather Crockett, Guest Blogger

When I was 13 years old my parents sat me down and told me I would never be able to have kids. At 6 weeks old, after an ultrasound for vomiting, they discovered my uterus and ovaries weren’t attached properly. 34 years ago the doctor decided it would be best to just take them out for risk of cancer because of non-functioning. That is when I learned about adoption.

It became my option. I read articles about it and researched it. I always knew that someday I would have to tell my future spouse.

Then I met Jason. The man of my dreams. The man I had been waiting for all my life. Before we got engaged I sat him down and told him the biggest secret of my life. That I couldn’t ever give him biological children. He grabbed my face and told me it didn’t matter how we had kids. That no matter what they would be ours. I sobbed and that’s when I knew.

We started the adoption process after we got married and got approved June 14th, 2017. After doing lots of research I never felt good or could justify spending $50k with an agency. So we marketed ourselves on social media. We made an instagram page, Facebook page, and profile on adoption.com and posted every day. 5 regular posts about our lives and 1 heartfelt adoption post.

We paid for Facebook promotions $30 every 10 days and promoted one specific post with professional pictures of our family explaining why we were hoping to adopt. We paid for the cheapest profile on adoption.com. We were contacted by a handful of people. Many of which were scammers. Overly dramatic or asking for money right away. We instantly knew to steer clear.

Sept 1 I got a message from a woman on our FB Page. She wanted to talk on the phone. More nervous than I had ever been, we talked for an hour and a half. She then said she wanted us to adopt her baby. We kept chatting over the next month but we couldn’t fully commit because she gave us no proof of pregnancy. No ultrasound with her name on it.

October 2nd we received a message from a woman on adoption.com asking us to meet up here in our home state two days later at a diner. We agreed and she showed up with her mom and she was very pregnant. At the end of breakfast she asked us “if we would adopt her baby and love him forever”. We all sobbed. 3 weeks later we watched as little Andy was born and I was the first to hold him. It was a real miracle.

A few months later I received a phone call from the woman we had previously had to tell no because we never had any proof. She said she didn’t feel good about the family she had chosen after us and knew that this little boy (at the time we didn’t know she was still pregnant or even with a boy) was supposed to be in our family. After many prayers and a lot of faith we flew out with our 2 month old and watched as little Ellis was born and Jason got to cut the cord.

We now have 2 beautiful boys who are 4 months apart. We have open adoptions with both sets of birth parents and they follow me on social media and we also text back and forth.

This past summer we flew Ellis’ oldest biological brother to visit. After just 10 days of staying with us, he asked if he could stay. After talking with his mom, we now have a 13 year old boy living with us and so grateful for the relationship we have with him and his family.

Because everyone always asks us – both of our adoptions from lawyers, social workers, travel, and finalization cost less than $20k for both. We realize and are so thankful for the wonderful blessings we have witnessed this last year. It’s been a crazy year to say the least. But I wouldn’t have it any other way!

If you’d like to connect with Heather, you can find her on Instagram or Facebook!

 

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

After Every Storm Comes a Rainbow

October 30, 2018

Written by Guest Blogger, Kristine Baldacci

In the fall of 2015, I married my college sweetheart and love of my life. Both coming from big Italian families, we knew we wanted to have kids; and lots of them. We had just moved from a box of an apartment in San Francisco to a townhouse in Walnut Creek that had TWO BEDROOMS – that’s huge when you used to literally live on top of one another. One thing that gave me all the butterflies and heart eyes was when we were looking at the townhouse and came across the second bedroom. My husband said, “This will be perfect for the baby’s room since it’s just down the hall from our room.” Say what???

Fast forward a couple months to when we decided it was time for me to finish my birth control pack and not start another so that we could start trying for the family we both wanted. After the first month of really tracking everything, I started to feel a little off and I just shrugged it off and thought “No, not yet, we just started trying.” The day before I was traveling for work, I woke up thinking, “Well I’d like to know now before traveling for a week away from my husband.” Sure enough, I took the test and I saw those two pink lines pop up instantly. “I’M PREGNANT?!?! WHAT?!” I went running downstairs to tell my husband who was in utter disbelief and wanted me to take another test just to be sure. We celebrated just the two of us that day before I had to leave and brainstormed how we would tell our parents, family and friends in the next couple of months. And that we did — the whole ordeal: onesies with ‘you’re gonna be grandparents’, blocks that read ‘the best moms get promoted to Nonni’, sonograms that said “Hi Auntie” and the cherry on top – for my husband’s birthday we had a blind wine tasting party. We started off with sparkling apple cider and as our friends were tasting, smelling, etc. with confused looks because it most definitely was not wine, I shouted, “ya that’s not wine because I’M PREGNANT!”

Two days later at my 13-week appointment, the nurse, while doing an ultrasound, was talking to us about if we were going to find out the sex, had we started to buy anything for the nursery, have we thought of names… when she suddenly stopped. She excused herself quickly and left the room. At that moment, I knew. I knew my whole world was going to come crashing down even before anyone had to tell me. My eyes immediately welled up. The doctor came in, starting doing an ultrasound, then stopped and turned off the monitor. “There is no longer a heartbeat and the baby is measuring the same as 4 weeks ago, showing no signs of growth.” My entire body went cold and numb. I looked at my husband and between silent sobs, whispered, “I’m so sorry”. I felt every emotion in the matter of .5 seconds – I was heartbroken, I was angry, I was devastated, I was in shock…you name it, I felt it. The one thing I have always wanted to be was a mother and I felt like I had failed, not to mention feeling like I had let down the most important person in my life, my husband. He was also so excited to be a father and I wasn’t able to make that happen for him.

The next couple of weeks were a blur. I had not wanted to know the sex of the baby because that would make it even harder than it already was but I did want to know if there was a reason as to why I miscarried. As luck was not in my corner, the reasoning I miscarried was because the baby had Turner’s syndrome…which only occurs in baby girls, so much for not finding out the sex. But my doctor told me that it was all science and nothing I could have done to prevent it. Some silver lining there, doc. Once I was back home and not throwing up from coming off the anesthesia, we had to start letting our loved ones know. You’d think after telling the same story over and over it would get less painful. It didn’t. We went away for the weekend to clear our minds and try to relax except all we did was stay in the house and cry over the loss. Looking back, it is what we needed to help start the healing.

Going back to work was excruciating – I worked at a school…that had a preschool…that had preschool mommies pregnant with number 2 or 3. Not to mention, 3 of my co-workers were pregnant. If it wasn’t at school, it was on my facebook or instagram “First comes love, then comes marriage, then…” or “We are due with #2”. Cute..all of it..cute but I wanted nothing to do with it. Because you see the thing besides how miscarriages aren’t really talked about, is that no one talks about what happens to you after. You can’t immediately start trying again. Your body is not the same as it was prior. Your hormones are all out of whack, there is no way of tracking until your period returns and not to mention the idea of trying again is scary and daunting because you cannot shake the feeling of: “What if it happens again?”

Our one year anniversary was coming up and we were headed to Hawaii where I was supposed to be sporting a cute baby bump but instead everyone else had the same idea and showed up 3-6 months pregnant. I couldn’t escape it. I did my best to shake it off because who wants to be full of depressed and jealous feelings in Hawaii? Once we returned from our trip, I was somewhat back to normal and able to start tracking again. I was doing e v e r y t h i n g to track. I was taking my basal body temperature, I had all the apps, I was taking my prenatals, I was eliminating alcohol and caffeine from my diet, and when my app matched with what my basal body temperature was telling me – we started trying again.

Month one, period returned. I shrugged it off because we had only tried once since the miscarriage. On to the next month. Month two, I got my period again. No thank you Aunt Flo. I threw away the basal thermometer, deleted all of the apps and stopped tracking because clearly it wasn’t working so why would I continue. I started getting those feelings back of being a failure, questioning what was wrong with me and why couldn’t I do this. Everyone else around me was getting pregnant left and right. When was it my turn? I felt jealous, bitter, and angry at everyone – pregnant or not.  Then I felt guilty and like a horrible person for feeling this way. I began to isolate myself from everyone – family, friends, co-workers…all of them. I was no fun to be around, that’s for sure.

After getting rid of all of the things that would help me track, I gave the whole “whatever happens is meant to be” saying a try and just focused on loving my husband and the life we have started together. Fast forward to next month – I was 3 days late. Hmm, too soon to test? I waited because I did not want to see “Not Pregnant” pop up on the test and I figured I’ve failed the past 2 times, mostly likely will be a no this time too. Now I was 5 days late and finally gave in and took a test. “NOT PREGNANT”. I threw the stick across the room and screamed into a sobbing fit on the floor. Why was it so easy for me the first time and yet not happening as quickly this time. I kept telling myself other women were going through this and even worse cases and years of trying and that I shouldn’t be feeling this way. But I HAD conceived and HAD a baby growing in my tummy and in a matter of seconds was gone and that feeling of being a mother to be was taken away from me. I was determined to get that back.

The weekend came and went – and still no period. Great. I went through that whole day counting the days and weeks from my last period. Questioning everything and googling what type of at home pregnancy tests are the most accurate and how common false negatives were. On my way home from work I grabbed yet another test from CVS and decided first thing in the morning if there was no period, I was taking that test. That morning I woke up and rolled towards my husband and said “I’m not pregnant, I just know it.” After getting me into the bathroom to take the test, my husband went downstairs to give me some time to work up the courage. Longest 3 minutes of my life. ::DING:: My timer went off and I crept slowly over to the test, covering my eyes. As I started to let my eyes open I was in complete disbelief. My eyes were deceiving me because I wanted it so badly. I ran downstairs and threw the stick at my husband…”WHAT DO YOU SEE?!” He calmly stated, “Babe…you’re pregnant.” I don’t think I’ve ever hugged another person so tightly. We stood there for awhile embraced and letting tears stream down our faces. But there was a small pit in my stomach. What if I can’t make it past 13 weeks again? I don’t know if I can handle this pain so shortly after finally healing.

Week 14 hit. I was a nervous wreck heading to the doctors. I held my breath the entire ultrasound. “There”, she said. “Right, there is your baby. And that little flicker is the very strong heartbeat. Baby is measuring right on track.” I BURST into tears. I made it past 13 weeks. I wanted to scream it from the rooftops, run home and get to be one of those people who get to exclaim it all over social media. But I also knew, a miscarriage could still happen. Sadly, in a weird way and a little embarrassing to admit, I almost waited for it to happen. I didn’t let myself get fully happy because I was so worried the moment I did, it would all go away. It wasn’t until week 20 where I finally stopped holding my breath and embraced the fact that I was pregnant and allowed myself to be fully happy. I now have the most precious little man, Thomas Joseph – who turned ONE in August. He is the love of my life and I wouldn’t change my story at all.

I wanted to share my story because during that time I didn’t have anyone in the same boat as me to turn to. I was the first out of my friends to get pregnant and go through this. Family members who had experienced this loss were there for me, cause Lord knows no matter how much time has passed it can still cut you down as if it was yesterday, but it still wasn’t the same as going through it with me. I realize that my story is not one that goes on for years of failed attempts and that I am blessed for my sweet baby boy but if I can be a story for another woman to relate to, even if it’s just one, then it was worth it. To all those amazingly strong women out there who are yearning to be a mama – know that you are not alone, know that you have a community to turn to, know that it is okay to feel sad, mad, jealous and hopeless at times, but also know – after every storm, comes a rainbow!

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

The Battle to our Babies

October 28, 2018

Written by Janelle Sarver, Guest Blogger

My husband and I had been married for just under a year. We were in the process of building a new house and I had a great job as a labor and delivery nurse. It seemed like the perfect time to start trying for a baby.  I had stopped my birth control, and the practicing began! I’m not going to lie, after the first month of trying and no pregnancy I was shocked.  I was a healthy 25 year old, why wouldn’t I get pregnant right away? The next few months passed and still nothing. I finally reached out to my OBGYN at work one night. I told her it had been six months of trying and no results. She called me the next day and had me scheduled for a hysterosalpingogram (HSG). She explained to me what the procedure was because I was clueless! Remember, I am an L&D RN, we see the patients when they’re already pregnant! Right away I thought this would be the answer, surely my fallopian tubes would be blocked or something right?! After the procedure was complete, right away the doctor told me everything looked great. I remember walking to the car thinking that’s terrible news! All I wanted was a little blockage that he could clear out and all would be fine, and then the first of many tears started. I called my husband and let him know the results, and informed him that it was now his turn to go get checked out. Of course he wasn’t thrilled, but he went without complaining. Little did we know this was his first of many trips to the doctor. A few days later we learned his results were just fine, so back to the OBGYN I went.

This time she spoke to me about Clomid. Again, I didn’t know much about Clomid other than a fellow coworker had triplets from Clomid. That didn’t scare me, I just wanted a baby so one baby or three babies would be just fine! The first month on Clomid I was pumped, I just knew this would be the answer. I’m pretty sure I was already dreaming about my maternity leave! But then the disappointment came, again.  At this time, I was working night shift and my turn had finally come to move to day shift. I was so excited because again I figured maybe my body was just out of balance because of my weird schedule. I was grasping for anything! Another month or two passed, still no pregnancy. I started talking with another OBGYN about my fertility issues and she had some suggestions that my current OB doctor wasn’t doing. So I switched doctors! Talk about awkward when you see these ladies everyday at work, but I had to do it. From there I still took clomid, but at higher doses, had many ultrasounds to look at my follicles and even did some trigger shots. Nothing, every month passed and still nothing. My doctor could sense the frustration settling in and that is when she referred me to a fertility specialist.

I’m not sure that the reality of our situation had settled in too much at this time.  I knew people had trouble getting pregnant but not at 26! I was too young to be having such issues. Also, 11 years ago I don’t feel like anyone talked about the issues.  A few of my close friends knew we were struggling, but for the most part I kept this a secret. I was embarrassed, I felt something was wrong with me and I just felt so bad for my husband-who by the way was a rock during all of this. He was so supportive, always seemed to lift me up and would constantly remind me that no matter what, we would figure it out.

Our first visit with the fertility doctor is one that I will never forget. They drew what seemed like 10 tubes of blood, I had an ultrasound that seemed to last forever, and then the dreaded consult with Dr. F.  I can remember her telling us that my FSH levels were high, they reflected FSH levels of a 40 year old. That’s when the ugly tears came, I was so embarrassed.  She suggested we could try an IUI, but she didn’t think it would work. We still opted to at least try, because there was a nurse I worked with that had an IUI and it worked so – why not try?  We tried and again no pregnancy, just disappointment.

We knew that IVF was our next step. I can remember having so many ultrasounds, but the one that sticks out the most was the last one before they started to stimulate my ovaries.  Dr. F. was in my uterus looking around and despite the million vaginal ultrasounds that I had in the past, this time they saw something.  At the very top of my uterus there was a septum.  I didn’t know whether to be happy or angry that no one had caught this earlier.  Nonetheless, I had to have surgery before the stimulation of my ovaries began. I had the surgery rather quickly and then the injections and every other day ultrasounds began in order to produce good quality eggs.  This is the part where things got a little tricky. You IVFer’s all know how many doctors appointments are involved in this process, they tell you when to be there, you don’t get to come in when it’s convenient for you.  I had kept my infertility a secret from almost all of my coworkers. At the time I was a fairly private person, I was embarrassed and sad, I didn’t want the whole unit knowing my business. I can specifically remember one older nurse saying “well if you can’t get pregnant on your own then maybe it’s a sign”.  (I was livid, but at the time Iwas too weak and scared to say anything, if she was still here and said it to me now, watch out, I’d let her have it!!). I was able to let my nurse manager in on what was going on, and thankfully she was so understanding. At the time my father was newly diagnosed with cancer so I was able to use him and his doctors appointments as reasons why I was late or why I had to move my shifts around.

We had finally made it to retrieval day, after what seemed like an eternity. I think they retrieved 8 eggs that day and by day 5 we had 3 blastocysts.  I can remember the statistics that that Dr. F. had gone over with us, the success rates of IVF, they weren’t all that great but we were hopeful. Day 5 came and they implanted 2 of the blastocysts and froze our only remaining embryo.  I was a nervous wreck the next few days at work, I wouldn’t lift any patients or push any of our beds. I tried to be as lazy as possible-totally out of my nature.  I will never forget the day they called with the results. I was in a nursing conference with one of my friends who knew about our fertility situation.  Dr. F. told me that my HCG level was 0. I didn’t understand how that could happen.  I left the conference sobbing and I didn’t even tell my friend. I went to work the next day, I had no business being there. I was still a mess.  I remember thinking “Why can’t I get pregnant?”  I think the anger was finally settling in because I started to ask the standard questions; why can drug users get pregnant, teenagers, people in less than ideal situations?  My husband and I did everything right in our minds, it was such an unfair battle.  Clearly I was having a pity party for myself but one day it just clicked in my head. I told myself everyone has their own battle to fight and this was our battle.  At the time, this was an awful battle but I know there are so many worse battles to be fought.

We went through the next few weeks doing what we were told to do as far as prepping for our next transfer.  This time it was going to be our only embryo left, our frozen embryo.  I will never forget the day they implanted her! It was April 20, 2009, and a few days later we found out I was pregnant! It was the best news ever! I had just left the hospital with my dad, and I’ll never forget where I was driving when Dr. F called. I immediately called my husband, we both cried tears of joy. Even today, over 8 years later, it still makes me tear up.  To say I was a nervous wreck during this pregnancy is an understatement.  We kept this pregnancy a secret for many many weeks. The only person we told was my Dad. We were admitting him to hospice and we felt like he needed some good news. I don’t know how much he understood, as the cancer had gone to his brain, but he must’ve know something because he had the biggest smile I had seen in a very long time.  My Dad passed away when I was around 9 weeks pregnant. It was awful, and I was afraid to let myself grieve too much. I was fearful that too much stress and emotion might make me miscarry, I know I’m nuts.  Finally around 19 weeks, the rest of the world knew. I can tell you all, the worry never went away. I was fearful the whole pregnancy that something would happen but I tried to remain positive. On December 30, 2009 at 39 weeks we welcomed a healthy 9lb baby girl! I can’t even describe what we felt but having my husband and my favorite doctor and one of my best friends deliver our miracle was the BEST!!

We always knew that we wanted 2 or 3 kids and close in age but we were so thankful for the one that we had.  I know it sounds crazy but once we were all cleared to resume “business” as usual we did.  We weren’t preventing but if it happened we would’ve been so thankful. Needless to say nothing happened and we found ourselves back at Dr. F’s office. Things went a little smoother this time with IVF, we managed to get 4 blastocysts! On December 20, 2010 they implanted 2 fresh embryos.  I got the phone call a few days later and was told my HGC was low but that there was still something going on, so we jumped on a plane to Colorado and enjoyed a cold Christmas! One of the perks of working in L&D is the ultrasound connection! I can remember being back at work shortly after our daughters first birthday and seeing my OB.  She said “Come in on Saturday and lets do an ultrasound!” So we did! I can remember her exact words “Oh Janelle” – I knew exactly what she meant, I said “It’s twins, isn’t it” she said “yes!” I’m pretty sure my husband said that’s awesome, me, I know I said oh Sh*t!!  This pregnancy was very complicated and I was on bed rest the whole time, but on August 6, 2011 at 35.4 I delivered my healthy 7lb boy and 6.5 lb girl!

For those of you who are still trying for your miracle don’t lose hope! Keep trying whether it’s through IVF, adoption or surrogacy. This process was one of the most trying times for my husband and myself. It was one of the most physically, emotionally exhausting experiences that we had gone through at the time.  As I write this, I am reminded so much of the pain that we went through, the injections (that I couldn’t even do on myself after a while) the ultrasounds, the doctors appointments, the finances. I can’t even begin to explain some of the situations that I had to go through at work while we were trying for a baby. There were days I would just get into my car and cry on my way home. I wish that when I was dealing with my fertility issues I had had a community to talk with. I didn’t know anyone who had been through any of this, I was the first in my group of friends trying for a baby. There is no way I could’ve written this 10 years ago, it would have been way too painful. I will tell you all, after going through all that we have, I am a better nurse. When patients come in and are scared because they are bleeding or because they’re having preterm labor and tell my they were IVF, I fill them in on our story. It’s an instant bond and I know it helps calm them. Those of you still fighting your battle, stay strong, don’t give up, we are all fighting with you!

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