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Don’t Let it Steal Your Joy

March 8, 2019

Written by Amber Reynolds, Guest Blogger

It was a Sunday just like any Sunday. I showed up early to serve at church, grabbed a cup of coffee, and headed to the sound booth. Then someone made a joke. A seemingly off-hand, nonchalant, in-passing joke.

“You think you need coffee now, just wait until you have a baby up all night, I didn’t sleep a wink!”  

It didn’t take much to knock the wind out of me those days, so that little joke, well, it put me right over the edge. I chuckled and continued on my way, but inside I was dying a little.

“I WOULD DO ANYTHING TO BE UP ALL NIGHT WITH A BABY! I WOULD GIVE UP COFFEE FOR A YEAR…FOR A LIFETIME! IF YOU’RE SO CRANKY ABOUT HAVING A BABY WHY DON’T YOU JUST GIVE ME YOURS! WHY IS EVERYONE ALWAYS HAVING BABIES AND THEN COMPLAINING ABOUT THEM! THIS ISN’T FAIR. I MATTER TOO.”

The voice in my head is quite loud and dramatic. But my feelings are valid. It may have taken me three years to realize it, but how I feel mentally is just as valid as how I feel physically. Society puts a ton of weight on parenthood. You become an adult, and then a spouse, but you really level up when you become a parent. Those of us who haven’t leveled up yet don’t deserve coffee because a tiny human is yet to demand every second of our time. Again, loud and dramatic.

But we were doing everything right. The dieting: eat this but not too much and don’t eat that except on Tuesdays. The exercise: run but not too long and lift but not too heavy. The reading: everyone has something to say and why doesn’t anyone agree on the said dieting and exercise? We tried acupuncture, natural supplements, chiropractor visits, essential oils, charting, testing, and we were tired.

Unexplained infertility.

The gross beast of a diagnosis. Nothing to do, yet everything to try. Every different suggestion brings on new (but cautious) hope. Everyone you meet has a story to share about someone they know that tried a thing and the next day they were pregnant. We have tried many of the things. I have yet to become pregnant.

My husband and I are now five years into this painful infertility journey. We have moved multiple times, changed occupations, buried my father, bought a couple of homes, and even became foster parents. All of those things have molded us into who we are, they have altered our identity, and changed our perspective.

I no longer want to throat-punch anyone who makes a joke about babies. I’ve cared for babies who have kept me up all night. I no longer cringe when I see a pregnancy announcement, my joy overflows for my friends. I no longer cry every time I get my period (although sometimes I do because WTF). I no longer kill myself with my diet and exercise, allowing myself a beer with my salad has been lovely grace. But just because our perspective has been altered, does not mean that we have given up. Being called mommy by my precious foster babies is a joy I never knew if I would have. However, it does not take away the longing to carry a child in my womb.

This fertility journey sucks. It sucks the joy out of life, the fun out of sex, the laughter out of jokes. Five years in, I’ve learned it is okay to hate this part of our story, but it isn’t okay to dwell on that hatred. So we find joy. We dwell on the things that don’t suck. We make sex, and eating, and exercise, and massages, and reading less of a chore and more of an adventure. Do you allow the “this-use-to-be-fun-and-now-it-sucks” part of infertility steal your joy?! Don’t let it! Fight the drift! And for goodness sakes, drink coffee whenever you feel like it!

If you’d like to connect with Amber, you can find her on Instagram or her Blog

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Inflammation and Infertility

February 25, 2019

Written by Laura Gilstrap, Guest Blogger

The female body is amazing. We are creatures of resilience. Of elegance. Of beauty.  We carry life, birth life, and provide nutrients for life…all while working full time jobs, running households and hitting the gym. Literally, we are astonishing.

The immune system of a woman also deserves a lot of attention. When you really think about it, our reproductive system has an incomparable capacity to resolve inflammation. Each menstrual cycle, we clear tissue and waste and then quickly regenerates back to base-line.  Only to do it over and over again.

So, lets break down inflammation. There are 2 forms of inflammation – acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is just that, a quick addition of blood flow to the damaged area to promote healing. It is characterized by the presence of white blood cells and phagocytes (immune cells that clear the inflamed area.) Acute inflammation is a natural part of many reproductive process. Hormonal changes resulting in egg maturation, ovulation, and endometrial lining changes all have a normal inflammatory component. 

Chronic inflammation on the other hand, results when the acute immune response remains active. Chronic inflammation can disrupt ovulation, hormone balance, and implantation. Conditions like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, early menopause, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, poor sperm and egg quality, and premature ovarian failure have all been linked to chronic inflammation and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Inflammation is also likely to be associated with other prominent aspects of PCOS including insulin resistance, endothelial dysfunction, and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors. (1).

As a woman battling PCOS, I am no stranger to chronic inflammation reaping havoc in the body. I can still remember being diagnosed.  The OB told me “you will never have children naturally.”  I cried.  Oh, did I cry.  And then…I researched.  I read anything and everything there was to read about PCOS.  It became my life.

Because of PCOS, I battled years of painful infertility treatment. I found myself alienating fertile friends, avoiding events with children and young families, and feeling overcome with anxiety. Having the knowledge and motivation to combat PCOS’s inflammatory properties is how I survived this life-changing syndrome. Honestly, any reproductive concerns that incorporates excess pain suggests the body is experiencing a large amount of inflammation and needs to be addressed personally, medically and/or holistically.

Recently, inflammation has been heavily studied as a fertility challenge because inflammation is a very complex biological response of vascular tissue to a harmful stimuli.  Basically, it means the body is reacting to an irritation, infection, or injury.

One of the most important markers of inflammation is C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is an acute-phase reactant produced by hepatocytes under the stimulatory control of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin (IL)-6 and tumor necrosis factor ? (TNF?) (2). Growing evidence supports the concept that CRP may not be the only marker, but also a mediator of inflammatory processes (3,4).  Investigators at The Center for Human Reproduction, under the leadership of David H. Barad, recently completed a study which demonstrated inflammatory blood markers, CRP and IL-6, had statistically highly significant predictability if elevated with diminished IVF outcomes (pregnancy and live birth rates) and increased miscarriage risk.

Inflammation is both triggered and worsened by stress, lifestyle and diet.  If you’re looking to begin the healing process, holistic and natural therapies are great starting point. Here are a few ideas:

  • Just Relax! (Which is literally the WORST thing you can ever say to an infertile woman). But sadly, it’s true. Chronic stress stimulates the inflammatory response. Try incorporating therapies like yoga, fertility massage, meditation, mind-body programs, nightly baths, aromatherapy, journaling or anything that resonates with you, to reduce stressors in your life.
  • Consume more fresh and raw fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruit and veggies are high in antioxidants and food enzymes, which act as natural anti-inflammatories. Their antioxidants help quench free radicals which run rapid in inflamed bodies. Fresh foods are also alkalizing and detoxifying, helping to remove chemicals like uric acid.
  • Eat More Fat! Yep…I said it…EAT. FAT.  Now, hear me out…

The body needs a healthy balance of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids for multiple reasons such as reproductive health, blood clotting, blood pressure control, and immune function. Excess consumption of Omega-6’s can trigger the body to produce pro-inflammatory chemicals potentially leading to chronic inflammatory diseases. In general, Omega-6’s are pro-inflammatory while Omega-3’s are anti-inflammatory. (5)

Omega-6 fatty acids are found in plant oils such as sunflower, safflower, and corn oils, but they are also present in cereals, corn-fed animal fat, and wholegrain bread.

The fats I recommend eating are Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA), also know as Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids. EPA is the lipid structure our body uses to make beneficial prostaglandins that reduce inflammation.

Rich dietary sources of Omega-3 fatty acids include cold water fish such as salmon, trout, herring, tuna, and cod, and green leafy vegetables, flaxseed, and rapeseed oils. Increase intake of monounsaturated fats from plant foods like avocado, nuts and seeds, and olive oil also help fight inflammation and nourish the reproductive system.

Optimal dietary intakes of the Omega-6’s and Omega-3’s?ratio should be around 1:4?(6).

  • Increase Fiber and Pre & Probiotic Consumption: Kombucha, unprocessed whole grains, legumes, and beans help to regulate insulin levels, metabolize excess estrogen, and pull inflammatory toxins out of the body.
  • Kick Gluten to the Curb! Gluten is a protein found in grains. It’s common in foods such as bread, pasta, pizza, and cereal. Gluten provides no essential nutrients. People who are sensitive to gluten can have symptoms anywhere in the body when partially digested gluten fragments leak from the intestine into the bloodstream. Unlike other proteins, gluten is not completely digested. In some people, the immune system sees gluten as the enemy and will unleash compounds to attack it, causing inflammation in the intestines as well as other organs and tissues.
  • Daily Turmeric (curcumin):?Turmeric contains curcumin, which is widely studied for its therapeutic effects on IL-6, CRP, and TNF-?. One particular study published by the Journal of Reproductive Infertility studied 72 female rats with outcomes showing that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of curcumin on PCOS may be due to its inhibitory effect on expression and levels of TNF-?, serum IL-6 and CRP. (7) Take turmeric or curcumin with a meal containing fats (they’re fat soluble) and be sure to include black pepper extract to boost its absorbability and bioavailability.
  • Proteolytic Enzymes:?Enzymes like trypin, rutin, bromelain, papain, pancreatin, and chymotrypsin are thought to help break down the chemicals involved in inflammation.

Typical acute inflammation is a necessary component for cellular repair during ovulation, menstruation, implantation, and birth. While acute inflammation helps repair your body, chronic inflammation is detrimental to homeostasis and is known to be the root cause of a variety of imbalances in the body.

You can reverse the damaging effects of inflammation on the reproductive system just by making healthier lifestyle choices. Limit alcohol, caffeine, and/or smoking and by eating clean and colorful. An inflammatory response can also be triggered by physical, mental, and emotional stress.  Take a step back and focus on yourself if you have to. Inflammation reduction will not only help your reproductive system, it will help promote a healthier mind, body, and soul for you AND your future baby.

Just remember, your path may be a different one, a slower one, but are on it and your goals can be reached.

References

  1. Ross R. Atherosclerosis–an inflammatory disease. N Engl J Med. 1999;340:115–26

2. Castell JV, Gomez-Lechon MJ, David M, Andus T, Geiger T, Trullenque R, et al. Interleukin-6 is the major regulator of acute phase protein synthesis in adult human hepatocytes. FEBS Lett. 1989;242:237–9

3. Han KH, Hong KH, Park JH, Ko J, Kang DH, Choi KJ, et al. C-reactive protein promotes monocyte chemoattractant protein-1–mediated chemotaxis through upregulating CC chemokine receptor 2 expression in human monocytes. Circulation. 2004;109:2566–71

4. Venugopal SK, Devaraj S, Jialal I. Effect of C-reactive protein on vascular cells: evidence for a proinflammatory, proatherogenic role. Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens. 2005;14:33–7

5. E. Patterson,   R. Wall,  G. F. Fitzgerald,  R. P. Ross, and C. Stanton. Health Implications of High Dietary Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids. J Nutr Metab. 2012; 2012: 539426

6. Calder PC. Polyunsaturated fatty acids, inflammatory processes and inflammatory bowel diseases. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. 2008;52(8):885–897

7. S. Mohammadi, P. Kayedpoor, L. Karimzadeh-Bardei, and M. Nabiuni. The Effect of Curcumin on TNF-?, IL-6 and CRP Expression in a Model of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome as an Inflammation State. J Reprod Infertil. 2017 Oct-Dec; 18(4): 352–360

If you’d like to connect with Laura, you can find her on Instagram and her Nutrition Instagram, as well as Facebook and her Website!

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Renewed Hope

February 19, 2019

Written by Krystle Edelson, Guest Blogger

Our story with secondary infertility includes some of the darkest days of my life.  Many days I wondered when the sun would shine in my heart again, but what I’m hoping to highlight by sharing our story, is that while it was overwhelmingly difficult, and the weeping felt like it lasted for endless evenings – the hope and promise of “joy in the morning” we find in scripture is true.

My husband and I talked early and often about starting our family. Because of a family history and inconsistent cycles, I figured we might have a harder time conceiving. So, we decided together to start “trying” for a family about 2 years into marriage. After months turned into over a year, we were recommended to see a Reproductive Endocrinologist (fertility doc). Once we got up the courage, our Dr. was able to assess things and get us on track to conceive only 3 months after meeting him. Fast forward to today, and we have a precious 5-year-old biological daughter. She is our delight and joy. Now, after all the early days of sleeplessness and sheer exhaustion began to wane, we started talking about continuing to grow our family.

While the months of “trying” stretched on for us, we figured we just needed a little extra help again. Back we went to our doctor, who recommended a procedure that we had gone through before conceiving our daughter. Now just a couple months back into the game, I went through the procedure, and that following month I conceived. We were shocked and thrilled! But that thrill was short-lived after some testing revealed I was expected to miscarry. At that time, I had heard the statistic that 1 in 4 women will miscarry; I had read the countless stories of tear-filled mommas who had gripped their bellies with the hope of life only to see it fade away from reality. I knew that thought is never far from a new momma’s mind, still, we clung to the promises and sought to hold that little life with open hands. And while I tried to prepare my heart for the worst, once the little life inside me slipped away I realized one can never fully prepare for the emotions that come.

After giving my body a little time to heal, we jumped back in with a new plan and renewed hope (if you’ve walked through infertility you know that cycle of excited hope, anticipation during the two-week wait, and disappoint when it doesn’t happen – all too well). Well, four months later we were pregnant again! Then just a few weeks later, on the eve of our 6th wedding anniversary we found ourselves grieving over another child we didn’t get to meet. We hugged our JG a little closer and pressed on, weary but still very hopeful.

Fast forward to the nearly 3-year mark of praying, hoping and waiting, we had completed our 14th (yes, 14!) and final IUI. I know this gives some people early in their wait heart palpitations! BUT before you go and allow your heart to fear, please keep in mind the reason we did so many, is simply because every genetic test, procedure, ultrasound, and (many!) blood tests had come back completely normal. Our doctor always expressed that he believed it would happen again for us, and my husband’s insurance was very comprehensive. Additionally, each cycle was “perfect” medically speaking.

Throughout these exhausting months, and multiple miscarriages we always sought to press on in trusting the Lord’s timing and the wisdom He gave to our doctor. But then came the point, where it was clear my body couldn’t keep up with the physically and emotionally exhaustive treatments. It was our personal decision to not move forward with IVF, and so we made the difficult, but confident decision to stop everything.

It took approximately 1,095 days, achieving pin cushion status, countless negative tests, the mourning of precious lives lost in between, every bit of the Holy Spirit’s help and a whole village of people praying for us, but we finally arrived at a place of peace and acceptance. It was a long season of wrestling, waiting, listening, hoping, and ultimately surrendering. Good, but hard soul-work that has yielded an intimacy with Christ that we wouldn’t trade for the world.

But our story doesn’t end there. When I pause and reflect on where secondary-infertility has brought us today. There’s no denying that the providence of my unfulfilled desire to carry another child brought us to hearts pregnant with the hope of another child who does not share our DNA; yet, was always meant for us and us for him, from the beginning of time. We just arrived home in November with our son from China. That’s right! All the years of heartache weren’t without purpose, they led us straight to our precious son.

Unexplained infertility would have never been our plan to bring us to our son (and it’s not always the answer for everyone walking the same road), but here we are, and I find myself unable to thank God enough for His infinite wisdom and for allowing us this front-row seat to watch Him work in details big and small. 

Now, for those still in the wait, still longing with the worst anticipation to see their wombs and arms filled with life, I only have so many words I can share here, but in case you’re grasping for some hope right now, I wrote a post here to encourage others. If you feel so led, please take a moment to read. You are beautiful sister, and your identity is not wrapped up in being a mother – or not. God is faithful to help you bloom where you are planted right now. Keep pressing on and fighting the fight of faith!

If you’d like to connect with Krystle, you can find her on Instagram or her Blog

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The Broken Road

February 6, 2019

Written by Whitney Ellis, Guest Blogger

My mother reminded me a few years ago about a conversation we had while I was in Nursing School.  I had told her that my dream job would be to work with moms and babies in their homes.  I was fascinated with breastfeeding and wanted to support new moms.  I ultimately fulfilled that dream by working for 10 years as a Public Health Nurse, visiting first-time (mostly young) pregnant moms and their babies in their homes.  I loved my job and as challenging as it was, it was very rewarding.  I did not have children of my own at that time, but I had no doubt that being a mother was in my future.  

10 years ago this February, my husband and I danced our first dance to “God Bless This Broken Road”. The song was fitting for us and how met and ultimately got married.  Little did we know that a few years later as we began trying to start our family that our wedding song would take on a whole new meaning.  

Our journey to having a baby started soon after we got married. I was 33 and he was 35 at the time and we really had no reason to believe that we’d have any trouble getting pregnant. A year went by and then 6 more months before we went to see the Reproductive Endocrinologist my Ob/Gyn referred us to. We sat in a waiting room with one door on the right for those who were already pregnant and another door to the left if you couldn’t get pregnant.  Several tests later and we had a reality check. 

My husband had “very bad” sperm and I had “old eggs”.  Ouch! Is this how healthcare professionals in this field speak to their patients? We moved forward with hope.  Clomid, IUI, two-week waits, clomid, IUI, two-week waits…and over again.  Finally, standing at the nurses’ station reviewing my lab results, our RE declared that I will not be a mother on my own without donor eggs or adoption.

This was not at all what we envisioned our path to parenthood to look like. Needless to say, even though I still loved my work, it soon became difficult being surrounded daily by pregnant women. We did our best to stay positive.  I joined the local RESOLVE support group where I met so many inspiring women. I heard stories of heartbreak and disappointment. I also learned so much about the world of IF. There were so many paths to becoming a parent.

We found a new RE and I went through more tests and procedures.  I most likely had endometriosis.  This new clinic was a breath of fresh air.  The RE was very positive and felt that getting pregnant through IVF with our own eggs and sperm was possible.  I sought out support from other women who had gone through the rigorous schedule of painful injections and blood tests. I found an acupuncturist who specialized in infertility. My husband was supportive and became an expert at IM injections. I was open about our plan and received nothing but love and support from friends and family.  For us, we wanted to assure that we would be cared for emotionally if the outcome was no baby.

The MDs, nurses, embryologist, and anesthesiologists we encountered at the IVF clinic for the retrieval and transfer were so incredibly kind. I will never forget that. We waited for 2 very long weeks to find out if we could possibly be pregnant. We’ll never forget sitting at our favorite breakfast spot in East Sacramento when we received THE phone call from our nurse.  We were pregnant!

Our smart, funny and sweet boy turned 7 this year. Fast forward 2 years later and our attempts to have a second baby began with a failed Frozen Embryo Transfer and a polypectomy.  Then my father suddenly passed away and we were sidetracked with unimaginable grief. Just months later, to our complete surprise, we saw 2 pink lines on a pregnancy test! We were pregnant and it brought much-needed joy to the family, only to turn to another painful loss when I miscarried at 9 weeks. 

We went on to try one last IVF.  We both agreed that if this did not work out, we would feel we gave it our all and we would focus on what we had…Our marriage and our beautiful boy.  When that cycle failed we were crushed at the thought of our son growing up without a sibling.  Our view began to change though as we saw him creating so many friendships.  A child doesn’t necessarily have to have a sibling to be happy.

It was on a cross country flight as I looked over at our family, the 3 of us, and realized it was perfect.  I let go of my desire to have another baby.  When we got home I packed up the baby gear we had saved up and drove it up the hill to a donation center.  I drove away and the tears started streaming down my face.  I called my mom and told her that I donated all our baby gear and I still recall hearing my grandmother’s voice in the background saying “you know she’ll get pregnant now”. 

2 weeks later, on the morning after my 40th birthday celebration…we saw 2 pink lines!  Today we have a beautiful 2 year and a half-year-old girl.  So yes, that “Broken Road” lead us straight to our 2 precious children. My relationship with my husband was only strengthened as we encouraged and comforted each other.  We received unconditional love and support from family and friends. And it has changed how we relate to others who are starting their families. 

I truly believe we all go through difficulties in life so we can be there for each other. I have since continued to fulfill the dream I discussed with my mother years ago.  I have become an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant).  I will never forget the IBCLC that spoke to a room full of us women who went through fertility treatments to get pregnant.  So many of us were unsure if our bodies would create enough breast milk since we had difficulty conceiving.  Some moms were carrying multiples and anticipated some time in the NICU.  We all benefited in different ways from our time with the IBCLC.  Most of what I took away was confidence.  

As an IBCLC, I strive to understand my client’s goals and assist them in identifying and addressing their breastfeeding concerns.  I want to hear about their prenatal history.  I want to hear about their birth experience.  I provide them with evidence based information and tools that empower them to meet their individual feeding goals. I encourage them and let them know that many women who experience IF go on the have long breastfeeding relationships with their babies.  I give them the same compassion I received years ago by the health care professionals that will always be a special part of my family’s story.  Most importantly, I want the women I consult with to walk away feeling confident in their ability to give their babies what they need.

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

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Dear Family and Friends, Part 3

December 17, 2018

Written by Heather, Guest Blogger

Part three 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.

December 22

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is here again. For the past three years, every November, Allen starts asking me what I want for Christmas. And for the past three years I’ve asked for one thing and one thing only… a baby. It appears that Christmas will come and go again without the us expanding our family with a sweet new baby. But I do feel like we’re one step closer with everything that we are doing. I wanted to update you on our fertility issues, surrogacy, and the adoption process.

Allen and I met with Dr K again on December 2. We have had this appointment booked for three months. After talking with him for over an hour, we both left with our heads spinning. He showed us a picture of our one grade A frozen embryo compared to the three embryos (all grade Bs) that we have put in me- lots of visible differences.  Basically Dr. K doesn’t think a surrogate (actually the correct term is “gestational carrier”) is necessary. Dr K thinks that as long as we can get my body where it needs to be that our embryo would do great in me. So that left us with a lot to think about. Before leaving the office Dr. K ran several more tests on me, since they were 2 yrs old.

Yesterday I received a call from the nurse and most of the test results came back within the correct range. All except for my “AMG” which is my egg quality. It has drastically gone down since January. It was 2.2 and it is now 0.5. So I have to start taking two more vitamins for the next three months so we definitely won’t be transferring that frozen embryo into me anytime soon.

Yesterday we met with another fertility Dr. to get a second opinion. We also left there with our heads spinning. Basically he doesn’t believe in “unexplained infertility.” His method involves identifying the problem and then working to correct it. So we are taking his suggestion and I have to start “charting” myself everyday for the next three months. I won’t go into details because you wouldn’t even believe me. The charting is so specific that I have to be trained on it and meet with this lady every two weeks. UGH!!!!!!

Moving right along…

As for the adoption process things have been very busy! Allen and I both had to fill out numerous discussion questions about our life. Honestly, it’s CRAZY! Here are some questions that we had to each answer separately….

– What qualities, values, and character would you like to develop in your children and how would you promote these?

– What significant events or experiences have shaped your personality?

– What were the positive and negative qualities of your family?

– Describe your parent’s relationship to each other both while you were growing up and today.

– What are your main areas of disagreement?  Do you and your spouse agree on spending and saving?

– What role does your physical relationship play in your marriage?

– Have you ever physically/sexually abused a child?

Yep, that’s right. Crazy, huh?!?! It’s absolutely shocking to think there all some people in this world who don’t want children or can’t care for their children or abuse their children, yet they have children (and usually LOTS).  Then there are people like us who would do anything for a child.

We are currently in the process of working on our finances, references are being turned in, criminal background check, fingerprints, and the interview process. Last night we had a two-hour interview as a couple, including a 30-minute video on child-abuse. Our next interview is Monday. This is will be separate interviews and more video training.

We wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

XOXO

A & H

February 20

Okay, y’all. I had to share this story and ask for your prayers. Hopefully you can follow it. I have shortened it, but hopefully you will get as excited as we did/are!

Sunday I decided to clean out my closet (it was a nightmare). I then posted several items on a Facebook resale site. I had a lady wanting to try on two of the tops/tunics. She came over after school on Monday to try them on and while we were chatting she asked if we had kids. (Who does that??? We’d only met three minutes prior to that.) I kindly replied, “No. We are in the adoption process.” She said, “No way! I’m an adoption attorney.” As our conversation continued she realized that she had already been told about our plans to adopt. She had actually received an email last week from one of my current student’s parents. Needless to say, I was shocked! Here I was standing in our guest bedroom talking to an adoption attorney who already knew about us!

Well, it gets even better! She currently has a birth mother, age 28, due June 5! Don’t let this next part freak you out….but she is in jail. We don’t know why…but there she is getting prenatal care and supervision. The attorney asked for a copy of our birth parent letter and will be taking it with her on Wednesday. She will also have two other options for the birth mother to look at.

So, please pray! Pray for this birth mother. Pray that our letter and pictures touch her heart. Pray that she is in good hands at the jail. Please pray that Allen and I can stay hopeful.

We know that God in is control and He knows the plans He has for us.

Love,  Allen and Heather

March 28

I hope you had a wonderful Easter holiday!

I thought I would send an update on where we are. As I mentioned before, Allen and I have been seeing a 2nd opinion fertility specialist, Dr. P.  He recently did a hormone series test on me which included blood work for 3 1/2 weeks (every Mon, Wed, Fri). The results showed that I had low thyroid, low progesterone, and other issues that led him to believe surgery would be beneficial. So, of course, we jumped on it! Surgery was this past Friday and he did four different procedures. It was definitely worth it.

Four findings:

  1. Both Fallopian tubes were partially blocked. Dr. cleared the tubes by expanding them with a wire then flushed with fluids. Typically an open set of tubes would allow 5 lbs of air through them. Mine took 30 lbs to get through.
  2. I did have some endometriosis that he was able to remove. (Tissue that grows on the outside of the uterus.)
  3. My entire abdominal area shows inflammation. Dr. showed Allen and Mom pictures. The area is extremely red and inflamed. (It should be pink) Dr. said this can be corrected with diet and later with medicine.
  4. He removed two cysts.I am just so grateful that they found some problem areas and corrected them.  Hopefully this will help us! I’m pretty sore and uncomfortable now but resting. Dr. H has been amazing!Several of you have asked about our adoption process. I have had several people reach out to me that have heard our story from your shares on Facebook or from friends sending private emails to their contacts about our story. All the women I’ve talked to have adopted and were so positive, encouraging, and uplifting.We are still waiting for a baby whether that be through a birth-mother or biologically. (Or both!) The attorney that came to my house to buy clothes was not able to get to the jail to meet with the birth mother as she had planned. She was going to reschedule and said she would keep me posted. I have not heard anything.Thank you for your continuous love and support.

Allen and Heather

April 8

Today as I was driving home from school I received a phone call from an attorney. This is the attorney that found out about us from one of my current student’s parents and the lady who came to try on clothes I was selling online. Remember as she left our house she said, “This is a God thing.”

Well… It was a God thing. She called to inform us that the birth mother picked us!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, can you believe it??!?! She picked us. She was given three birth letters and she chose us! We are still in shock and trying to process the whole thing.

The birth mother, A, is in her mid-20s and is having a baby boy via C-section on June 8. So I will get to spend my summer vacation with our baby! “It’s a God thing!”

She has asked to meet us, and we want to meet her very much. So our attorneys are finding a time for us to visit her in jail. (It will be my first time ever in a jail!)

Please continue to pray.
Pray for this baby boy.
Pray that he is healthy.
Pray for Mama A.
Pray that she will continue to do what is best for this baby.
Pray for her strength and courage.

Pray for our patience and faith.

Much Love,

Allen and Heather

May 9

Allen and I just left the jail from our first meeting with birth mother, A. Both of our attorneys were present. She seemed at peace with placing this baby. She is concerned about how she will feel after the delivery. She only wants to see the baby after he is born but does not want any other contact while in the hospital. She said she wanted to make sure we would be in the nursery with him. Which I assured her we would be.

Please pray for Mama A and for her to have peace with our meeting and knowing she’s making the best decision for this baby. Please pray for this baby boy. Pray that he is healthy. Please pray that the attorneys can find the father and get him to sign over his rights. Please pray for Allen and me as we anxiously await every single minute of every single day.

Much love,

Allen and Heather

June 2

It has been three years and three months since Allen and I started to grow our family– that’s 1189 days. As you know our journey has been a long and emotional one. With that being said, I can honestly say that Allen and I have grown in our relationship and know that we can pretty much handle anything together.

A BIG thank you to each of you—thank you for your continuous love, prayers, and support throughout it all! Allen and I are in awe of the kindness and compassion we have seen from so many people. It has been so comforting to receive random calls, texts, flowers, and emails from friends and family just letting us know that they are praying and thinking of us.

Baby boy is due in FIVE DAYS.

(the adoption failed, the birth mother was able to give the baby to a friend until she got out of jail)

July 13

Good Morning Family & Friends,

As you know on June 6 we found out that we would not be bringing “baby boy” home. It was beyond devastating for us and still hurts to this day. I find myself thinking about him daily and wondering how he is doing, what he looks like, and what kind of life he will be given. I pray that the Lord watches over him and keeps him safe, happy, and loved.

At the end of our adoption process (June 3) we found out that I was pregnant. It was actually two years to the date that we lost our first baby. For a few days we thought we were going to welcome two babies into this world. We couldn’t believe it! We were blessed with this miracle and prayed that we would one day hold that baby in our arms. On June 15 we lost that baby also. (At six weeks, for reasons unknown)

Allen and I struggle with the Lord’s plan for us. We continue to have faith and hope, even though there are days (or hours) that make it challenging. We know God is good and we are trusting in Him.

We are thankful that the month of June is over!

Which brings us to where we are to date… After much research and consideration, Allen and I have decided to sign with an adoption consulting firm.

Heather and Allen

November 22

Can I be honest?

This time of the year is very hard for me. I mean really hard! I dread the holidays. I know you are probably thinking, “How can Heather not enjoy this time of year?” For the past four years, I have prayed that Allen and I would have a baby to celebrate Christmas with and that has not happened yet. It’s looking like 2016 will come and go without a baby for us.

I know we are waiting on His time.

I know that He has a plan for us.

I know that I am not in control.

I know that I need to be patient.

I know….

But y’all it’s hard. It’s more than hard. It’s exhausting. It’s mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially exhausting.

(Ok, deep breath) Thank you for letting me express my true and raw feelings. Now for an update.

Allen have I have been active with the consultantung firm for three months today. During this time, we have received 46 birth mother profiles. Some profiles are full of details; some have very little information. We are starting to learn that “less could be more.” It is very overwhelming reading 18-22 pages worth of material on a person. Then we struggle with being judgmental. Here we are wanting a baby more than anything, but we are given the choice to present to them or pass. Who are we to judge? We have no idea what type of child we would receive biologically, so why should we be so picky with these birth mothers? All that to say, we have now presented to 7 birth mothers and 6 of them have chosen another family. (yes, heartbreaking to say the least)

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

Dec 12

We are pregnant…no treatments, no meds, nothing but God’s timing! Please pray for our baby!

Dec 18

Tonight we recieved a call and we have matched with a birth mother! Baby Boy due in May!

As many of you know, I have always wanted twins. In high school I wanted to name them McKinsey and MaCaulay. Then in college, it was Taylor and Tyler. Always one boy and one girl. Well the Lord is writing our story and it looks like he’s answering my prayers after all these years…” twiblings.” I can’t wait until we have both of these babies home and in our arms. Allen and I will have an amazing testimony to share of God’s grace and faithfulness.

William was born on May 12 AND Phillips was born on August 23 ….3 months and 16 days apart. We are so blessed and thank the Lord for our “little blessing” and our “little miracle.”

Jeremiah 29:11

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His Faithfulness and Goodness

December 11, 2018

Written by Emily Williams, Guest Blogger

This is a story of God’s goodness and faithfulness.

I found myself pregnant at 15 years old. On December 3, 1997, a beautiful baby girl was brought into the world but her time with me was limited. I’ll never forget those moments in the hospital before her adoptive parents came to take her to her forever home. I was filled with so many emotions but I knew that I was making the best decision.

Fast forward to the year 2006 when I married the man of my dreams. I told him well before we planned to be married about my past and he still chose to marry me! We had many conversations about our hopes, dreams and desires for our new life together which included children down the road. We had been married about six years when we decided that it was time for me to get off of my birth control and see what happened. Three years later, still nothing. We decided to see a fertility doctor just to make sure we were both functioning properly and after a series of labs and a procedure (for me), it was determined that there was no reason we shouldn’t be able to have our own children. We carried on with life but the desire was still in my heart.

2016 was a big year for us. In January, I got a Facebook message from my 18 year old biological daughter saying she wanted to meet me. God is so good!!! {so many great details to share about this}

Also in 2016, my husband and I agreed that God was leading us to become foster parents so we signed up for classes. We finished up classes and less than a month later, we received a call, “It’s a girl!”. They shared many details of this infant’s journey that they thought may discourage us but we just said yes! yes! yes! We had about a week to prepare our home for our first child. Our family and friends rallied around us- painting, rearranging, gathering essential and bringing donations. When the day finally came, we knew it was a day that had be orchestrated by God. Her first name was my husband’s grandmothers name and her middle is my name. There has been nothing easy about this foster care journey but on December 10, 2018, after 939 in foster care, she will finally share our last name.

My biological daughter is engaged and our soon to be adopted daughter will be her flower girl. My life has come full circle. It’s an adoptive story of redemption. I wish I could go back and tell my 15 year old self how good and faithful God is and that it will all be okay.

If you’d like to connect with Emily, you can find her on Instagram or Twitter

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A Heart 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:

  • 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.

You can also find Kelly on Instagram!

 

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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

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