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Finding My Identify Through Infertility

February 27, 2018

Written by Lauren Bennett, WTF Content Editor

For a majority of my life, I considered myself a typical, normal girl who would grow up to be a typical, normal woman. I would go to college, start my career, get married, have a few kids, travel, and grow old with lots of grandbabies by my side.

I never thought much about how I identified myself, because I never had to. When everything about your life seems like nothing out of the ordinary, you don’t spend much time considering how you categorize yourself.

But, then life throws you a curve ball. Your idea of having it all under the roof of a cute house surrounded by a picket white fence vanishes, piece by piece as your dreams to your “happily ever after” fade. That curve ball for me was infertility. The beast of infertility can take the most joyous occasion for others and turn it into your nightmare.

After years and year of living the reality of infertility every single day, I started to consider that part of who I was. I was no longer just Lauren. In my mind, every thing I did, was done by Lauren who is fighting infertility. Lauren became synonymous infertility and sometimes in my mind, it was hard to separate the two. When I checked out at the grocery store, I was a shopper with infertility buying groceries. When I went to work, I did my job all while doing it with infertility. I slowly began to take this horrible diagnosis and I wore it like a badge of honor. I became vocal about our experiences, advocated for better access to treatments, tried to mentor others through it, and barely went a day without bringing it up, let alone thinking about it.

Then, 5 years after we started trying and years of being an “infertility warrior,” I became pregnant after undergoing IVF. Nine months later, I gave birth to the most wonderful human I ever laid eyes on. And just like that, even though I could finally call myself a mother, I felt a little lost, like I didn’t know who I was anymore. For the past half decade, I made it my mission to make sure I was open about our trouble with fertility so others would feel less alone. I commiserated with others who lived in this world of unsuccessful fertility treatments and heartache.

What now? I had my miracle baby, but I felt stuck between two worlds: infertility and motherhood. Throughout my pregnancy, I would still find myself feeling so sad and hopeless even though I carried my sweet baby in my belly. My heart would still ache hard as if I was still waiting for my miracle. I could no longer “identify” with my peers in the infertility community because I had my baby I waited so long for. But I also felt like I didn’t fit in with typical moms because my heart was so scarred by negativity and the fertility treatment process. Even now, I find myself with pangs of sadness even though I hold my son in my arms.

So who I am now that I’m not “Lauren dealing with infertility?” Honestly, I’m still working through that. But I don’t feel like I have to live exclusively in one world or the other. Infertility was part of my life for so long that it isn’t something that I think ever goes away. All the fears, anxieties, and feelings of bitterness, hopelessness, and jealousy are still so fresh in my soul.

And you know what? I hope they never go away. Because of infertility and feeling all the connected emotions so deeply, it also made me who I am. Living with infertility taught me so much: empathy, patience, perseverance, and humor, just to name a few. I sincerely believe I’m a better mother and human because of my experience. I’ll never forget the 5 years it took to get to my son and I want to make sure he knows all about the journey we took to get to him. Infertility is nothing to be ashamed of and by acting like it never happened does a disservice to not only myself, but my support system who was there every step of the way. So I’ll continue to wear it like the badge of honor I once used to.

Getting my happy ending doesn’t mean my infertility story is over. It has just evolved, like I have. Now, I am Lauren, infertility warrior and advocate, who promises to use her story and experiences to fuel change, bring awareness, provide support, and offer comfort to whoever needs it most. Because no one should have to do this alone, whether it is for the first, second, or third time.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

From Hopeless to Hopeful

February 1, 2018

Written by Michelle Hoti, guest blogger

Ever since I was a little girl I dreamt of being a mom. I loved playing the “mom” whenever I would have playdates and I was so close to my mom growing up. I would often tell her how I couldn’t wait to be a mom just like her and how she was the best mom to me. Unfortunately, my mom got very sick with stage four cancer when I was only 5 and passed away when I was 13.

My husband and I were married when I was 28. We started trying to have a baby the day after we got married. After a year of trying, we still had no luck. Everyone around me was getting pregnant and I was so happy for them, but in the inside I was hurting so bad.

In December, we went to a fertility doctor that my husband had found. We instantly felt they were a match to help us on our journey. We first did an HSG, which was horrible! But luckily, my tubes were completely clear so it was onto the next test, which was an MRI. I remember it like it was yesterday. My doctor called me with the results and said I had a bicornuate uterus which means my uterus has two horns and a heart shape, along with a wall inside essentially dividing it. I had a hard time processing what that meant! She said it doesn’t usually cause infertility, but in my case, it might be the cause. So that being said, we couldn’t try the first step of Clomid due to the uterus being in half. She recommended we try 3 rounds of IUI, even though it was only a 5 percent chance, it was worth trying.

We agreed and went on to do the IUI. I did monitoring each morning to check my ovaries and do blood work, then after the IUI, I would wait two week to see if I was pregnant. The call always came at 2:00 p.m. so I’m sure my poor preschool students could tell something was up! On those days my head wasn’t attached because I was so eager to hear and each month it was no after no. It was so mentally, emotionally, and physically painful.

After the 3 unsuccessful rounds, we moved on to IVF. I was so scared, nervous, but also excited. I also decided to see an acupuncture and drank an herbal tea while undergoing IVF, just in case it would help. My husband and I went to take the class to learn how to give me the needles and how the whole process would work. While it was incredibly hard, we prayed and prayed for this to work and grew closer  to one another during this journey that God wanted us to go through together.

On the day of the egg retrieval we got 18 eggs! But what I didn’t realize was that each day, you could would lose the eggs due to them not fertilizing or the embryos would stop progressing. In the end, we had three embryos. We decided to transfer one and anxiously awaited to see if this would be our time.

It was.

We were pregnant! I was so happy, but also so scared. I felt as if it was too good to be true. I only did one round of IVF, but had read stories people going through it 5 times with no success so it was hard to believe that this was real. I couldn’t believe I was so lucky! But, at the same time, I was beyond terrified of losing the baby. I went to my RE very frequent due to my pregnancy being high risk with my bicornuate uterus. There was a chance the baby could come early.

But, I went on to have a healthy and happy pregnancy, and our little Gianna Nicole came only 2 weeks early! We feel so blessed and could not have been more in love.

Infertility is hard and can feel so isolating. But I feel strength from the community of others who have experienced it. The support from friends, family, and even strangers, helps when you are on this journey. I love reading peoples stories because it helps you get through it and to show that you are not alone and that there is hope!

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Our Plane Ride: From Infertility to Surrogacy

January 29, 2018

Written by Brittany Ortiz, guest blogger

Often people say “You have to experience it yourself to understand.” And in most cases I tend to disagree. I personally feel that one can understand something without personally going through it. They can relate in some way or put themselves in someone else’s shoes per say. However, there is one situation you have to go through personally to fully comprehend; the loss of a baby. Whether the physical loss or the ability to have your decision to have one ripped from you. Until you have tried and tried for a child that you physically and financially cannot have- until you become pregnant finally after years and years of treatment and are on this amazing plane ride of joy and happiness to suddenly have it ripped from you- pushed out of that airplane without a parachute, you simply just cannot truly understand. Welcome to our plane ride.

Our journey began on in the spring of 2013. My husband and I had been married for a little over a year and we made the decision for me to go off birth control and “see what happens.” When I didn’t fall pregnant that first month, I immediately had this feeling that something was wrong. Call it an intuition, but I literally told Harrison that I felt it wasn’t going to be easy for us.

A month turned to six months, and six months turned to a year. I went to my gynocologist who ran a bunch of blood work and swore I was perfectly healthy. I was put on Femara (a similar drug to Clomid but with less side effects) and we tried that for another six months, adding in Estrogen and Progesterone. Harrison did a semen analysis and his swimmers were almost Olympic athletes. I specifically asked my doctor after researching Google for hours on end if I could possibly have PCOS or Endometriosis. She swore I could not as I had no symptoms of either. I ovulated fine every single month and my periods were regular — every 28 days on the dot. No pain, no fuss. I was young and should just keep trying.

That wasn’t good enough for me. I may have only been 24 but I was beyond ready to be pregnant. So we asked for a recommendation to an RE which lead us to Dr. Homm and Dr. Devine at Fertility and Endocrine Associates. At our consultation, Dr. Homm looked at me and immediately told me that he believed I had Endometriosis. I argued with him assuring him that my doctor told me I could not and that I had no symptoms. He told me that the next steps were to do an HSG test (where they inject dye into your uterine cavity to see if your fallopian tubes are blocked) which would cost Harrison and I $1,000 since we did NOT have infertility coverage. This test would tell Dr. Homm A) my tubes were open or B) my tubes were blocked and either way he would have to then do a laparoscopic surgery to explore and figure out the issue which my insurance WOULD cover. He offered to skip the expensive HSG test and just go straight to the surgery which we chose to do. Why spend $1000 if regardless I’d have to do the laparoscopy? Right?

In April 2015, I had my laparoscopic surgery. Upon waking from the anesthesia, I laughed and told Dr. Homm “See I didn’t have Endometriosis, did I?” Joke was on me. It was stage II Endometriosis! It was one of those moments where I was relieved to finally have an answer to our problem, but terrified there was something was really wrong. I also felt tremendous guilt. It was my fault I couldn’t give my husband a child. It was my body that was failing us. We tried for the following three months naturally (still on Femara for assistance) with big fat negatives each month.

Next steps were IUI. We tried three rounds total. All failed. Big fat failures. Our last attempt would be IVF. We consulted with Dr. Homm and realized it was our absolute best chance, but it was costly. VERY costly. With the help of our family we were able to go forward with our treatment.

I began stems for IVF in November 2015 with my egg retrieval in December. We decided to do PGS testing on our embryos to ensure the quality before we transferred so transfer would have to wait a month until January 19th, 2016. Out of the 12 embryos that we retrieved, 10 fertilized, thanks to ICSI, and only 5 made it to blasts five days later. Out of those 5, we had 3 perfect embryos- 1 boy and 2 girls.

We decided to implant the 2 girls giving us a whopping 46% chance for twins and an over 87% chance of pregnancy. I got my positive pregnancy test just four days after transfer. We were ecstatic! Our first ultrasound showed 2 perfect embryos with heartbeats! We were going to be parents to twin girls. Finally. After 3 years, we were finally pregnant.

I shared our entire journey on Facebook. I documented with pictures and made videos explaining the entire IVF process and each step we took during it. I had so many family and friends following our story. They were just as ecstatic as we were. Each ultrasound we fell more and more in love with our girls. We went out at week 8 and purchased their nursery furniture. I purchased their first onesies and just couldn’t wait for October to get here!

March 3, 2016. Harrison and I argued that morning because he forgot to request off to go with me to our 9 week scan. He felt terrible about it and promised he wouldn’t miss any more. So I went alone. We lived in Louisville, KY but our entire family lived in Dayton, OH, where we are from. I remember that appointment vividly. I was super excited to see the girls looking more like gummy bears than specs. They would have little nubs for arms and legs now. I was so excited!

I remember Dr. Devine beginning the scan and seeing that Baby B was MUCH smaller than Baby A. I said something about it and Dr. Devine smiled and didn’t say anything. But I could see her eyes. I knew something was wrong. I kept saying over and over in my head “It’s okay. You still have Baby A. It’s okay. I know you wanted twins. It’s okay. You still have another baby. It will be okay. You can do this. Losing a twin is common. It’s okay.” Dr. Devine moved on to Baby A. She kept pushing on my lower stomach. Moving the wand around inside, putting pressure on my belly, asking me to move here and there saying “I’m just having trouble seeing clearly.”

Then I said “Baby A grew!” Because Baby A did grow! She was much larger! She looked like a little gummy bear with nubs for arms and legs! Dr. Devine smiled again and removed the wand and gently said “Yes, but unfortunately I cannot find heartbeats on either baby.”

…. I sat up. ….

She explained I was most likely in shock. I was. 100%. This wasn’t happening. It’s just not possible. She explained the process of miscarriage to me. I should start to bleed within the week and if not, I would return to her office and we would schedule a D & C. I just wanted to get out of that office. I couldn’t get dressed and out of that room fast enough.

I made it out the door and halfway down the hall before I fell to the ground. I collapsed and cried. I curled up in a ball and cried in the middle of a hospital hallway with people walking around me. I don’t remember much in that moment. I know someone stopped and tried to console me. I remember pushing them away and standing to search for a restroom, and to that person I am truly sorry. I know you were trying to help me and I appreciate that, but in that moment I just wanted to run away.

I made it to a bathroom and immediately thought I needed to call my boss and tell him I’m working from home. So I did. Thank God he was flying at the time and I could leave a message. I still broke down crying in the middle of it. Then, I called my husband. He answered excited. He wanted to hear all about the girls’ scan. Instead he heard his wife sobbing on the other end. I could only get out “I lost the babies. They don’t have heartbeats.”

I don’t remember anything else of that conversation. I called my mom at work and she answered just as excited as my husband had. I sobbed “They died.” She tried to console me and I just got out “Get here.” My mother, who was 3 hours way, immediately left her job and drove to me. My husband left work and met me at home. My boss called me and told me to take as much time as I needed.

I just laid in my room. For days. I felt like a failure. My body failed me once again. It killed my babies. I had to have done something to kill my girls. It was my fault. I couldn’t give my husband a child. I failed. I felt disgusting. I was carrying two dead babies in my body. I wanted them out. I wanted it to be over. I couldn’t handle it. I hated anyone who tried to tell me “God has his reasons.” That was the WORST thing anyone could say to me. Or “At least you got pregnant.”

Yep. At least I got pregnant. $20,000 down the drain. But at least I got pregnant.

The miscarriage happened 6 days later. Nothing could prepare me for that experience. If you ever have to choose the option for a natural miscarriage or a D &C, do yourself a favor and take the D & C. I started to have contractions like labor. They grew more and more intense as time went on. I bled through my pads, sweats, towels, and sheets on our bed. I screamed through each contraction and arched my back in pain gripping our headboard. My husband felt helpless and watched as I suffered. I felt the need to push so I would go to the bathroom and sit on the toilet. I’ve never seen so much blood in my life. I tried to shower to get it off me, pushing more and watching my tub turn into a horror film. This continued for hours. Finally, I was on the bathroom floor screaming in pain at 4am. Shaking. I had NO energy left. I had been going through this since 8pm the night before. Harrison came to the bathroom and picked me up off the floor and told me that was enough. We were going to the ER.

I bled through a brand new super plus pad and my thick sweats on the 10 min drive to the ER. Blood was pouring from me as we walked into the ER waiting room. As they tried to take my information, I passed out and seized. Later we found out that the girls tissue had gotten stuck and kept my cervix open- causing me to lose all that blood.

We went to my scheduled appointment with my RE at 11am that morning after spending the early hours in the ER. I had passed everything. Dr. Devine called me “strong”. I laughed. She said that we could try again with our remaining embryo in 3 months. But I was still mourning the death of our twin girls who I just ‘ birthed’ hours ago.

Harrison and I talked about what our next steps would be in the next couple of months. We both didn’t want to use our final boy embryo. There was something about losing the girls that were PGS tested and perfect that made me feel uncomfortable putting their brother in and risking that happening all over again. Plus, if I miscarried again we would move to surrogacy and I would have to do another round of IVF to get more embryos anyways. And if I endured another loss, I didn’t know if I would be strong enough to go through that again.

We decided to start from scratch. IVF round 2. We named our girls Hope and Faith because without getting pregnant with them, we wouldn’t have had the faith and hope to continue with the IVF process. My strength was tested majorly during these next couple months before our next round. Our nursery furniture was delivered to our home — for babies we had lost. It sat in our nursery in boxes as we passed it day by day. I had a cousin who was exactly 10 weeks ahead of me in our pregnancies would post bumpdates when I should be posting my weekly bumpdate too. I had to move forward with caution. I would cry at the drop of hat when I saw babies in the grocery store or was asked by a coworker who didn’t see the news of our miscarriage how my pregnancy was going. It was rough. My lowest low.

I began stems again in June 2016. We retrieved 9 eggs this time. I felt defeated. That was worse than our first round. But as the days passed and we got our daily updates, I became more and more encouraged. All 9 fertilized with ICSI. All 9 continued to grow until day 5. We lost only one embryo as 8 had made it to blasts for PGS testing. Out of our 8 blasts, we had 6 that were viable for transfer after PGS — 2 girls and 4 boys.

July 27, 2016. We transferred 2 perfect girl embryos. This time my RE put me on Lovenox as a precaution. I knew I was pregnant again two days past transfer. I had the exact same symptoms I did with Hope and Faith. I broke out all around my chin and mouth, which I NEVER breakout. My pregnancy test was positive again on day four. I went in for my BETA early at 7dp5dt. It was 99!!!! Then it doubled to 210 on 9dp5dt. I requested one more at 13dp5dt and it was 2,488!! I knew I was pregnant with twins again.

On August 12, 2016, we went in for our first ultrasound. There were two perfect gestational sacs. I was terrified. I went in weekly this time for ultrasounds. I was so afraid that history was going to repeat itself. Somehow, we made it to week 8. The same time Hope and Faith’s hearts stopped beating. But this time we still had two healthy babies. Then it was week 10 and I was graduating from our RE! I took it week by week. Each week I grew more confident in my pregnancy. When I made it to 15, I finally relaxed. We were going to have these babies.

Parker Reagan and Emery Kate Ortiz were born at 5 lbs 9 oz and 5 lbs 10 oz on March 28, 2017. They were worth every single heartbreak. Every single penny. Every shot. Everything.

Infertility is one of the hardest things someone can go through. This journey is hard. It forces you to endure pain unlike any other. I wouldn’t wish this journey on my worst enemy. But, it also makes you strong. It makes you one hell of a mother before you even ARE a mother. You fight as hard as you can for just the possibility for a baby. There is no guarantee when you are spending thousands and thousands of dollars on treatments. There is no guarantee when you are giving yourself shots after shots and popping pills after pills that make you literally go hormonally insane. It tests your marriage. It tests your strength. It engulfs your life. It makes you appreciate being a parent SO much when you finally overcome.

I still share and post about infertility continuously. I believe that couples shouldn’t be afraid to share their struggle. I want to be a voice for them. I want to encourage and help them in any way I can. Because I get it. I have been there. My journey brought me to motherhood. Thankfully. However, some cannot get here. They need a little more help. So now… my journey has brought us to Surrogacy. I want to help a couple have what we have. They deserve to experience every single bit of happiness we get to experience. I’m hoping I am approved and will be the perfect fit for my intended parents. I hope that my body will help them bring their beautiful baby into this world and provide them with their dream come true.

I want to help as many couples who are struggling in any way I can — through my voice, being a surrogate, or donating what little I can to help them. I know what it is like to watch everyone else’s dreams come true while knowing yours are slipping further and further away from becoming reality. I know that the woman struggling is strong, but she’s exhausted. I know she is brave and broken all at once. She is me. I am her. We are all in this together. Infertility is a loss. It’s the loss of a dream. It’s the loss of an assumed future. And like any other loss, it too will be grieved. Know that you are allowed to scream. You are allowed to cry. You are allowed to break. But do not, DO NOT give up.

Because when you are pushed out of the plane without a parachute, you realize that you have wings. And one day you will be writing about your plane ride instead of reading about mine.


Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Learning To Love My Post Baby Body

January 23, 2018

Written by Lauren Bennett, WTF Content Editor

In the years my husband and I dealt with infertility, one of the hardest things to hear were the complaints of pregnant woman, specifically about their beautiful changing bodies. I would cringe every time someone referred to herself as “fat” or commented about the size of her thighs. I vowed that if we ever beat infertility and I was able to carrying our baby, I would NEVER, EVER follow the path many pregnant women take and complain about her weight, aches, and pains.

Then I got pregnant.

In my experience, when you deal with infertility for so many years, you promise yourself you won’t be like the people who openly talked down about their bodies. You feel like if you are blessed enough to be pregnant, you will enjoy every second and be in a constant state of appreciation for the miracle that is pregnancy. You convince yourself that you aren’t allowed to complain because you have been praying and begging for this for nearly five years. The only thing crossing your mind should be how grateful you are.

I found out early on how difficult this would prove to be. My pregnancy with my IVF miracle was relatively uneventful. I had your typical aches and pains with the addition of symphysis pelvis dysfunction, which was for the birds. But other than that, my body did exactly what I had been asking it to for years – growing a life. But not too far into my first trimester, I began to realize that pregnancy is no walk in the park and to my surprise, I started to feel disdain towards the extra weight I was putting on. My already wide hips seem to expand even more. Those thighs of mine showed some new stretch marks. What. Was. Happening.

I dreaded stepping on the scale at each doctor’s appointment. Watching those numbers increase, at sometimes what felt like alarming rates, made my stomach drop each and every time.

Then one Sunday morning at 36 weeks pregnant, it happened. I woke up to find my first stretch mark on my stomach. I cried. I looked in the mirror and just felt huge. I hated how I looked. My face looked puffy, my stomach felt like I was carrying a bowling ball, my thighs seemed to jiggle with more enthusiasm. I felt nothing but disgust for my body and cried.

I did what all women do when they are feeling down – texted my best friend, who listened to me complain and told me to allow myself to feel this way but then “bring it back to center.” She helped to remind me that even though I dealt with infertility doesn’t mean I am not allowed to struggle with pregnancy. Growing a life is hard work and I’m entitled to recognize that, just as much as someone who conceived easily.

With this new clarity, I began to look at my body differently. While it was still different from what I was used to, it had carried me through 5 years of infertility consisting of seeing over 20 medical professionals, numerous invasive tests, 3 rounds of Clomid, 3 rounds of IUIs, 1 surgery to remove endometriosis, 1 round of IVF, hundreds of needles I had to poke myself with, more needles that I trusted my husband to poke me with, and countless tears. Now, it was giving me the gift of creating a life that I had dreamed about. My main focus was no longer how I looked and fitting into society’s definition of a beautiful woman. It was about this fierce and powerful vessel that was doing amazing things. After years of feeling betrayed by my body because I couldn’t conceive, this was a place I never thought I would be and it was so refreshing to not be at battle with myself.

As luck would have it, I went into labor just a week later. Let me tell you, after delivering my son, my appreciation for my body intensified. Look at what it had just done! After bringing Miles home, I vividly remember standing in the mirror looking at the stretch marks on my belly and feeling a pang of sadness and bittersweet longing that my belly was now empty. Those stretch marks were a sign of my long and hard journey into mamahood. Pre-baby Lauren would have looked at those tiger stripes and dreaded beach season, but as I stood there while my husband cuddled our fresh newborn, I couldn’t have been more proud of what my scars represented and looked forward to hopping into a bikini and heading to the beach with my son in tow.

There are days I long to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes and I still wish I could lose an extra 10 pounds, but I’ve come to a place where I’m done punishing my body for what it isn’t and celebrating it for what it is and what it has accomplished. So my thighs may still jiggle, my tummy sports its baby pooch, and I have that ever present flat mom butt. But I also have full arms and an even fuller heart. And that is worth all the stretch marks in the world.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Keeping The Faith For My Miracle

January 18, 2018

Written by Lilly Sharlow, guest blogger

My story isn’t an easy one to share but it taught me a valuable lesson – faith. Every pregnancy is different and has challenges but hopefully my story inspires others to trust in a bigger power and that no matter what, we as mothers will always fight for our children. 

Since I was a little, my biggest dream was to be a mom. I was 25 when I got married and living in Cabo, Mexico as an English preschool teacher, I felt I had everything I ever wanted. As soon as I got married, the first thing I wanted to do was have children and fulfill my dream. So, one try and BAMM! I’m pregnant. The excitement was indescribable but that soon changed. My husband and I decided to wait until after our first appointment to announce the great news. Here we are, two happy newlyweds ready to see our baby but the doctor saw something a little weird in the ultrasound on my left ovary and thought something was off. She told us to come back in a week and to wait to tell our family since she wanted to confirm the baby was indeed ok. I was a tad concerned but I understood. Six weeks into being pregnant, she sent us to another doctor to get a special ultrasound and at this point I knew something was just not right. In a couple of hours, we went back to our OBGYN who told us I need surgery because it’s possibly an ectopic pregnancy and my health is at risk. At this point I wanted to just cry and question why this is happening to me. How am I going to call my parents and give them two announcements: that I was expecting but I needed emergency surgery in another country. Little did I know this was just the beginning of this journey.

On September 22, 2011 I went into surgery. The chances my growing baby would make it are 10% since I had to be cut open as a C-section surgery to get to the ovary in question. The surgery went well and after my recovery I went back to my OBGYN to discuss my pregnancy. I sat at the doctor’s office and my husband held my hand. Then the doctor said “The surgery was successful for the baby. However…” My heart dropped. She said they found cancer and it was very aggressive. I took a minute to digest the news but then she turned to me and said “You need to start treatment and your baby will not make it. You possibly won’t be able to have children.”  

When I heard the news that I wasn’t going to be a mom I felt that my whole world ended. In my head I could deal with cancer but the fact that I can’t have a baby or keep this little human that saved my life was just something I couldn’t bear. I left that office with so much conflicting emotions. Why me? How can I overcome this? I needed to be with family and go back to the States to get other opinions. Four days post recovery, I was back. When I landed, my family was hugged me and showed so much support but no one wanted to say the word “cancer.”

I met with the best Oncologist-OBGYN in the Bay Area, who said I needed to start treatment right away and possibly get an abortion. At that moment, I felt a sense of peace and I strongly said NO. I remember looking at my mom and husband’s face as if I was crazy. I wanted to continue with my pregnancy and I knew I had to fight for this little human and that I had to have faith. I prayed, went to an eastern medicine doctor and followed his instructions, changed my food intake, and did everything I could in my power. 

A couple weeks passed and it was time for some additional tests. The oncologist looked at me and I looked at her holding my tummy and said “I have faith that my test will be lower and I don’t need treatment.” I took the ovarian cancer test (CA125) and had an ultrasound. To my doctor’s surprise, it was indeed lower. The first battle God decided to put in this crazy journey was done. It was a high-risk pregnancy but my baby was ok and I continued my faith to fight for this little human. Little did I know another curveball was going to be thrown my way.


On May 15th, I was ready to meet this baby girl but I felt that something was off. Laying in the hospital bed waiting to meet this miracle baby that I fought against all odds for, I find out that my husband was having an affair. My heart sank and all the emotions caused me to have complications. I was quickly rushed into surgery to have a C-section. I was broken but luckily the baby and I were fine and when I looked at this baby’s face, I knew I had to be strong. I left everything behind at 26 years old with a newborn baby, still dealing with medical issues and starting from scratch as a single mom.

I felt so hopeless I remember just crying out to God and said “I don’t know what your plan is but, you are testing me! My heart is broken and my journey has been hell but you gave me the greatest gift and no matter how much you put me through I will always be in debt to you for giving me the gift of becoming a mom. So whatever it is, my focus will be on this baby girl and showing her how strong her mommy is.” I started working when my sweet baby was only 2 months old and built a career while focusing on becoming the best Mom to my daughter that I could be.

After all of this I do have a happy ending I PROMISE! I met my now husband that took in my daughter as his own. Now I have my beautiful 5-year-old miracle baby and now a gorgeous 19-week-old baby girl with only 1 ovary left and a somewhat “normal” pregnancy with taking cancer screenings every 6 months.

Looking back at my story, I still can’t even believe my journey but one thing I know is somehow through it all I was able to keep my faith and strength with God’s mercy and grace. No pregnancy is easy and everyone is fighting a battle during or after a baby, but we are all strong women and no matter what we overcome it for our babies and faith. 


Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Staying Humble and Kind

January 11, 2018

Written By: Tonee Cramer, Guest Blogger

When my husband and I married in November 2013, we knew that we wanted a family right away and were hopeful it would happen in the first year. Due to my previous medical issues as a child, my OB wanted to do some further testing. After over a year of tests, charting cycles, surgery to clear out scar tissue, and four rounds of Letrazole, our OB decided it would be best for us to move on to a fertility specialist.

My husband and I both agreed that wasn’t our path and decided to turn to another way of starting a family. We both were doing research on adoptions without the other one knowing! One day we sat down at the dining room table and decided that adoption is our calling from God. We contacted an agency and figured it would take a couple years to adopt a baby but we were willing to wait to our miracle.

In November 2016, we started the process and finally finished with all the paperwork the following January. Our profile was finally ready! Initially, we had two expectant mothers look at our profile but in the end, we weren’t chosen. It was very hard but we kept saying “Our baby is out there. Just be patient.”

On April 25, 2017, we got a call that our profile was shown to an expectant other due in October and we were one of two couples she narrowed down but she would be making her final decision the following day. However, there was a little more to the story! Her support person was her sister who also was expecting and due May 23 – just a short four weeks away! We couldn’t stop smiling and both said “yes, we will adopt that baby who is due in May.”

The next morning our social workers called and said “Well the October mother has chosen you as well. Is that something you want?” My husband and I both knew it would be very challenging but we accepted both babies! We are fortunate enough to have a wonderful support system and knew these babies were meant to be ours. We met both expectant mothers on May 5 and were so excited we couldn’t hold back the smiles.

Our first baby boy was born May 16. We brought him home when he was just 26 hours old! We continued to attend prenatal appointments for the October baby and he was born October 1. If you do the math, that makes our boys just 4 1/2 months apart! It hasn’t been an easy journey but it’s exactly the journey we have wanted. My husband and I work together to care for the babies, and although we aren’t perfect- we try really hard for them! Our saying throughout our entire infertility and adoption process was- always stay humble and kind.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Postpartum Depression Doesn’t Discriminate

January 9, 2018

Written by Tiffany Johnston, WTF Contributor

It’s not far fetched to imagine that when living and breathing infertility you become obsessed about the possibilities and failures. There is little time or energy in your day to focus on what happens after you have the baby. My heart fluctuated between believing that there would be a baby and not wanting to jinx a potential future pregnancy. After our first infertility blessing was born our world was turned upside down. Our birth went nothing like we had planned, our hospital experience was a complete nightmare, and when I finally got to go home my life long desire to breastfeed was blown into a million tiny pieces just weeks after our journey had started.

Every two hours our little one woke wailing, screaming, and crying of hunger as I battled to successfully breastfeed our miracle. In return, he spit up on every non-washable surface, became a cuddle monster that would only be soothed by my mother, and cried every time something didn’t happen right when he wanted. There were moments that I felt as though I had the world’s worst case of buyer’s remorse but I couldn’t tell anyone about it because we had done just about everything possible to (literally) buy this bundle of joy. And yet I pushed, fought, and struggled to breastfeed and for weeks it felt as though I was slowly killing myself. It was my own fault really. I had this standard set for myself. My mother was a lactation consultant and so I grew up believing that breastfeeding was the only true way. It turns out that while my mother and husband hoped that we would be successful at breastfeeding, in the end no one else really cared when everything started unraveling beneath me. In truth, they just wanted the baby and I to be happy and healthy, and at the three week mark that was far from the truth.

It wasn’t long before I had a complete meltdown from a severe lack of sleep. It was inevitable when we fed every two hours and I pumped after every feed not to mention the compounding stress from our son’s lack of weight gain. There were moments that I looked at him with no emotion whatsoever. By the end of week three, my Fibromyalgia was flaring, our son hadn’t gained enough weight to satisfy the doctors and breastfeeding had become painfully unbearable, not to mention the overwhelming emotions that were spinning in my head. Every time he would cry to be fed I broke down into a sopping tear stained mess, just dreading the pain of breastfeeding and the oncoming exhaustion that would directly follow.

It never occurred to me at the time that I had postpartum depression (PPD). If I even began to think about having PPD, I quickly concluded that I wasn’t allowed to have it after infertility. Yes, I wasn’t allowed because I had begged to be a mother. This little miracle wasn’t an “oops” or even a timely planned addition to our family. He was way overdue by the time he did arrive, so much so that we were convinced that he may never show up at all. So how on earth could I then have the feelings that I was having?

After having an epic breakdown and my mother finally telling the first person in 20 years that they were not to continue breastfeeding, we stopped cold turkey and switched to formula. Putting a cold stop to the 2 hour cycle of feedings, completely sleepless nights, and the inability to let someone else feed him. It wasn’t long before the fog slowly began to lift, emotions began to settle, and I eventually began to recognize that I wasn’t in fact ungrateful. I was your average first time mom, that simply had postpartum depression. Even at the darkest times of our infertility struggle it was hard to imagine that being pregnant wouldn’t just solve all our problems, wants and desires. But truth be told I am not convinced that our infertility struggles ever really go away. Our hearts become tender and bruised from one failed round after another and it can put a sour and long lasting taste in your mouth for years whether you ever conceive or not.

So, if and when, you reach the other side of infertility, please remember that if things don’t go your way and the world is slowly becoming a dark and dreary place, please don’t try and cover up your emotions and fears. Know that just because you fought and paid the price many times over to expand your family, PDD doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t pick and choose based on our experiences and it doesn’t care that you fought and suffered time after time. So if you find yourself overwhelmed with PPD after you finally get your miracle, just breathe. It will be okay and just like with infertility, work on one struggle at a time and know that the overwhelming emotions won’t last forever. In fact one of the hardest parts may in fact be simply admitting to yourself that PPD might just be knocking at your door.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

When The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year…Isn’t

December 29, 2017

Written by Elena Ridley, guest blogger

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, as the song goes. For many reasons those lyrics are true; being with family, enjoying traditions, partaking in all of the fun and festivities that only happen during this joyous holiday season. But what if you don’t feel joyous? What if you feel like it’s the most awful time of year? For many couples who deal with infertility, this is exactly what the holiday season feels like.

As if infertility was not hard enough, mix in the holidays and you’ve got a cocktail of heartache, sadness, and stress that is tough to overcome.  It can be hard as you sit back wondering if you will ever get to be a parent.  You watch others from a distance; moms, dads, and their children. You get the family Christmas cards, see parents taking their children to visit Santa, and buy gifts for your godchildren, your nieces and nephews, and friends’ kids often with resentment and jealousy.  You muster up enough courage and composure to attend gatherings with family and friends while you watch the happiness on the faces of parents as they watch their children open up gifts never knowing if you will ever get to experience this feeling.  Next to first days of school and other holidays, Christmas is probably the hardest time when you’re going through infertility.

When I think back to my first Christmas as a newlywed in 2011, I was almost certain that I would be pregnant and announcing it with a cute ornament handed out to my parents and in-laws.  I had been married a whole 3 months and I knew I’d be pregnant in an instant after getting married.  Then Christmas rolled around and so did my period and for the 3rd month in a row, I was frustrated & wondering why I wasn’t pregnant yet.  Boy was I naïve.  As time went on and we kept trying, Christmas after Christmas was passing, yet I still wasn’t handing out those announcement ornaments to my family members. I was absolutely clueless as to why I wasn’t pregnant yet 2 years and some minor fertility treatments later.  Little did I know that it would take another 3 years before I would be expecting and 4 years before I’d actually have a baby in my arms at Christmas time.  After a very long journey, we finally get to say that this is our very first year as parents to our miracle Georgia June after 5 years of infertility.

For 5 Christmases we sat in waiting.  We watched our nieces and nephews every year and other family members get pregnant and grow their families (some even through their own infertility struggles) yet here we were, 2 IUI’s, 1 miscarriage, and 6 IVF transfers (3 fresh & 3 frozen) under our belts over the course of 2 years and still no baby.  The final straw for us was our very last fresh IVF cycle in 2015.  Although the cycle started out promising with 16 eggs retrieved and 11 fertilized, by day 5 I only had 2 that were ready for transfer, not even considered blastocysts yet, and 5 more that were still growing but didn’t end up making it.  The day after Christmas I had my beta which was an 8.  It never did rise and that was when we decided to close the book on my eggs (the suspected culprit for about 6 months) and move forward with an egg donor.

The real Christmas miracle for us that years was when a complete stranger who I had only knew through social media reached out to us and offered us her eggs to help us build our family right around the time we found out the cycle had failed.  We decided to take her up on her offer and met her and her family in March of 2016, on June 16th I had my very first donor egg embryo transfer and 11 days later my beta was 967 and I was the most pregnant I had ever been over the course of 5 years.  Our donor is from Georgia which is what we decided we would name our miracle.  Now we are finally able to enjoy our very first Christmas as parents.

But is it possible to cope with those feelings of sadness during the holidays?  I think the answer is yes.  Although this can be such a challenging time of year when going through infertility, it is also a time to remember the blessings that we do have. Remembering that life itself is a gift that we are given every day.  Being thankful for the simplest of things like clean running water, food on our tables, and roofs over our heads. Even incorporating some Christmas activities into your time might lift your spirits. Christmas shopping, donating to a family in need, driving around and looking at Christmas lights, decorating cookies, wrapping presents, listening to Christmas music, and watching Christmas movies were all things that always helped to put me into the Christmas spirit despite our struggles.

There is no doubt that the holidays are hard when you’re going through infertility.  My wish is that no one would ever have to experience the pain and heartache that comes along with infertility, not only during Christmas, but year-round. Infertility is a vicious cycle of uncertainty every single month as you wait for those 2 pink lines that only seems to get worse as time goes on and cycle after cycle continues to fail. I know from firsthand experience the pain that comes along with getting a negative test back after putting your body through ultrasounds and injections: it’s a physical, emotional, and financial burden with no guarantee and it only gets worse during the holiday season. I am here to tell you though that the fight is worth it, and no matter what the outcome of your journey is, as long as you are giving it your all, that is the best you can do. Inevitably, some will end up with children of their own, some will adopt, some will use donor sperm, eggs, or embryos, and some will never have a child. This is the nature of infertility. Remembering all of our blessings and all that life does have to offer is by far the best way to get through the tough times, even when it’s not Christmas time, always count your blessings and always remember that you are not alone.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Adoption Takes a Village

December 27, 2017

Written by Heidi Brubaker, guest blogger

Married in 2005, my husband, Brandon, and I agreed we both wanted 3 children since we came from families with 3 kids each. We also agreed we wanted to wait awhile before having those children, so we could enjoy married life together! Five years later, we began trying to get pregnant. After about a year without success, we started seeing doctors, trying medication, blood work, etc. On February 14th, 2013, my doctor said I had a low ovarian reserve and should look into IVF and possibly egg donors. That was not the best Valentine’s Day, but Brandon was so loving, supportive and never once cast blame!

We did a consult for IVF, but after learning more about the process, the costs, and the odds, we did not feel that was the route for us. But we didn’t give up! I went on an extremely strict diet, one the dietitian claimed would help me conceive. I also found a new doctor for a second opinion. She diagnosed me with endometriosis and after more meds, blood work, sonograms, and test, she figured if we could clean up the endo I would have a great chance at getting pregnant. Good news! In June of 2014, I had a laparoscopy surgery where it was discovered my endo was stage 4! Well the rollercoaster of emotions were back, because now I was given great hopes of getting pregnant within the next year.

We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in the summer of 2010 and still, I was not pregnant. We were going on a great getaway to a tropical island near Tahiti called Mo’orea. Brandon and I decided when we returned home from this trip we would begin looking into adoption!

Neither of us had ever thought we would adopt, although we had been in a community of adoptive families and supported them through local organizations such as God’s Grace Adoption Ministry and Athletes for Adoption. One thing we both felt strongly about was our call to be parents! We just didn’t know how that would happen. We easily decided on private birth adoption since we wanted a newborn and didn’t want to miss a single moment of our child’s life! But we were not sure if we were really suppose to pursue the idea of adoption. One of our pastors, who had fos-adopted 2 kids, told us, “Just go forward and if it sputters and dies, then you know it wasn’t meant to be!” That was great advice to spur us on.

Now that we had our minds and hearts set on the adoption process, we dove in full force! We were referred to a consultant out of Florida, Nicole Witt, with The Adoption Consultancy, who made the process clearer, quicker, easier, and less expensive. We had been quite shocked that private birth adoptions in the US cost as much or more than international adoptions! We did NOT have the funds, but we didn’t let that stop us!

The answers to our questions as to whether or not this was meant to be started to be answered right away. Our first bill due was covered, to the penny, by our yearly tax return and a refund of doctor bills from my surgery!!!
We had friends who had bake sales and gave us all the profit. Our young 10-year-old friend made monster cookies and sold them, raising $1,000 just for our baby! My students (I was teaching 2nd grade, piano lessons and leading a puppet team at the time) participated in a Baby Bottle campaign and raised $1,300. It was so very humbling to accept their donations, but they wanted so badly for us to have a baby and it was more answer to prayers!

Our community is so supportive of adoptions, so our plan to have a dinner/auction was a huge success. Some friends catered the meal and we had silent auction, dessert auction and live auction. My dad was the auctioneer and we sold items like baby quilts, BBQ dinners, airplane rides, a weekend at a beach house, and more, all generously donated and then bought by friends. All in all we raised $19,000 in one night! Talk about being blown away!

We worked on our profile book, home study, agency applications and stacks of paperwork. We had decided not to adopt in our home state of CA because of the 30 days the BirthMom has to change her mind. Instead, Nicole helped us apply in “safe states” where the laws are in favor of the adoptive families. In these states, the BM signs her rights within 12-72 hours after birth. We ended up applying in 3 states at 6 different agencies. We became active in November 2015. The months of December through February seemed to go pretty quickly as we had lots of birth situations emailed to us. We presented to 3 during that time, but were not chosen. Obviously, I was anxious to hold my baby, but I knew if that child was ours, we would have been chosen. There was a real peace in “letting go and letting God!” March and April dragged on because we saw less situations and we started feeling like it was taking forever!

On Mother’s Day, we got an email from Nicole saying there was a BM from Texas who was moving to CA and was connected with a lawyer in southern CA. We talked to her case worker and learned that while the baby would be born in CA, and the BM would have the 30 days to change her mind, there was a law in place where the BM can sign a waiver to those 30 days and her rights would be revoked in 24 hours! That sounded just as good as the safe state laws, so the next day, on my birthday, we presented to her.

On Thursday morning, on my drive to school, I called the caseworker to see if there was any news and she said, “She picked you!!” I was shocked and excited! I called Brandon right away and we decided to keep it under wraps until we could tell our families. That was a hard thing to do! We also learned the BM was having her sonogram the following day to learn the gender. Brandon had the idea of doing a gender reveal for us to learn the sex, so we had the caseworker email my sister, who helped set it up! Brandon ordered pink and blue chalk powder, we went into our friend’s orchard and my sis placed the right color in the box with tannerite (highly explosive). When Brandon shot at the box a huge BLUE cloud of dust exploded! We were having a BOY!

The following Tuesday was an end of the year get together at the school where I taught. I was able to make the announcement that, although I wasn’t coming back next school year, it was because our baby boy would be born the same week school started! Everyone was in tears! Then we posted the pictures and video of our gender reveal to spread the word. Such a long awaited for, happy time!

At the end of July, our birth mother arrived here 3 weeks before the baby was born. It ended up working out perfectly because the doctor wanted her induced Monday morning, August 15th, 2016. When we got her to the hospital and she was all checked in and settled, she began labor on her own! In just 5 hours, our Bentley John was born!

His adoption was finalized on April 19th, 2017 and we have had the most fun being his parents! He has the best personality and now we KNOW this was exactly what God had in store for us all along.

Even as early as a month or two, we could tell he looked a lot like me. People still say “He has your eyes!” or “He’s got your nose.” and they have no idea he was adopted! It’s the coolest thing!

We give God all the glory for letting us be parents to Bentley!

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

What The…? The 24-Year Old Embryo

December 22, 2017
The Scoop:

A 25-year old woman, Tina Gibson, gave birth to her snowbaby that was conceived 24 years earlier. Tina and her husband, Benjamin, struggled with infertility and adopted the frozen embryo through an agency in Tennessee, where they live. The couple went through over 300 profiles of potential embryos to adopt and didn’t learn the “age” of theirs until the day of transfer! How incredible is that?!

Tell Us:

Have you or would you considered embryo adoption? Is the age of an embryo something you would consider when pursuing embryo adoption? Tell us in the comments below!

What The Fertility

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