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Our Double Rainbow

July 19, 2017

•By Kristie Rossi, Guest Blogger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

“Just Relax” They Say

June 26, 2017

•By Kathryne Shrewsbury, Guest Blogger

Let’s keep it real, dealing with infertility issues sucks. It is stressful, time consuming and expensive. You are not in control of the outcome even if you do everything right. I know first hand what infertility looks like having gone through two rounds of IVF, one fresh embryo transfer, one frozen embryo transfer, hundreds of injections, 40,000 dollars spent and countless hours at doctors appointments.

My husband and I decided early on in this journey that we would be open and honest about our fertility issues. We didn’t shy away from the fact that we needed help to start our family with the hopes our story may help someone else who is also struggling. I have pretty thick skin and don’t let what others say get me because I believe most people are undertanding, caring and compassionate. But sometimes others also don’t quite understand what you are going through when it comes to infertility. People may make comments that come from a good place, but trying desperately to have a child it can come off as rude, naive or insensitive. In my opinion, here are the top 3 statements never to say to someone who is TTC/going through fertility treatments.

“You guys just need to relax. It will happen when the time is right”
Do not say this to anyone trying to have a child. This statement is the number one thing that makes my blood boil. There was one person in my life who said this to me over and over during the time we were trying to conceive and even after we found out we would have to go through IVF. I just wanted to reach over, shake her and scream that she had no idea what she was talking about. I think people who say this don’t know a lot about infertility. In my case my husband’s low sperm count, not stress, was causing our infertility issues.

“My sister/cousin/friend did XYZ and they got pregnant.”
I don’t care if your sister started meditating or doing yoga and got pregnant or if your friend started eating some special foods or supplements and got pregnant. Those women and their partners did not have fertility issues that required medical intervention. I understand that the person suggesting these activities/products is just trying to help, but it will not help someone who is actually suffering from infertility.

“Do you really need to be doing that?”
This was something that didn’t really bother me at the time, but looking back I find it very annoying that someone would question the medical decisions my husband, my Doctor and I made together. No one would ever choose to have fertility problems and it’s not like I woke up one day and said, “I’m going to do a round of IVF.”  There were tons of doctors appointments, lab tests, blood draws and stressful decisions to get to that point. So yes. I really need to be doing…IUI/IVF/ICSI/PGS testing etc!

Thankfully my infertility struggles have a happy ending. I have a very active 18 month old son, Renner, and another on the way both conceived through IVF. My family would not have been possible without the help of our amazing team of doctors and nurses as well as the support of our family and friends.

If you know someone struggling with infertility be honest and tell them you don’t know what they are going through physically or emotionally but that you are there if they need you. Ask questions and educate yourself. Personally I am always more than happy to answer questions people have about our journey to start our family. It makes me feel so honored when family, friends and even complete strangers open up to me about their fertility issues. Sadly it is so much more common than most people realize and if we’re keeping it real, the best way to get through infertility is if we do it together.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Wishing and Hoping and Thinking and Praying

June 22, 2017

•Written by Sarah Lanning, Guest Blogger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Timing. Is. Everything.

June 20, 2017

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always pictured myself having a big family. Not just 3 or 4 children, I seriously want 10 kids! Even though my two “almost twins” can be a lot to handle and completely test my sanity at times (coffee helps!), I actually still want to have more babies! Ok, ok…so 10 kids is probably a bit outrageous and mainly because logistics…like who’s gonna do all that laundry and would I ever even wash my hair? Gabe and I know that while our family is perfect as it is, it doesn’t feel quite complete yet. So it’s time to start thinking about the next babe and how exactly are we gonna “get it.” The options are naturally (we’ve already agreed no more IVF), another adoption (including foster/adoption) or maybe even both!

First we’re going to try and see if we can’t prove those Doctor’s wrong (again) and get pregnant on our own! That’s why I am so excited about my Ava bracelet. It takes all the guess work out of fertility tracking and will get us on the right course to conception! All I have to do is wear this bracelet at night while I sleep and then sync it to my phone in the morning. No charting temperatures or using those ovulation predictor kits…which by the way I did religiously for about 4 years when we were trying to conceive! Ava makes fertility tracking easy and effortless by charting 9 different body signals and detecting my 5 most fertile days of the month.  I’ve learned that timing is everything and I seriously love my Ava bracelet. Gabe and I are excited and hopeful that we will be able to conceive naturally if that’s God’s plan for us!

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m nervous about this next step. For starters, I’m not even sure that I will be able to get pregnant again and it brings back all those awful infertility feelings. For 4 years we tried everything to start our family and all the loss and disappointment we endured comes flooding back to me. Even though we are technically considered fertile now the scars of infertility are something I will always carry with me.

I also struggle with feelings of guilt about even wanting more kids. I mean, look at me now…I have two beautiful, healthy children! I’m a mom! I have everything I’ve always wanted. And now I want more??? How greedy am I? My heart breaks for the couples who are still waiting on their babes and it just feels wrong to want more kids until they get theirs. Like somehow I’m taking up more than my fair share of the universe’s baby dust.

Although the anxiety and fears I have about starting this process again weigh on my mind, there’s absolutely nothing that’ll stop me from adding to this family. And if I’ve learned anything from the journey to my babies it’s that if you REALLY want to be parent you absolutely will. Do not give up, keep pushing forward, be open to all options and stay the course. I’m guess I better take my own advice …so herrrrrreeeee we go!

Want to try Ava? Use the discount code ALEXIS for $20 off. Click here!

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

What About Dad?

June 18, 2017

•Written by Elizabeth Johnson, Guest Blogger


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

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

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



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

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

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

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

A Hole In One. Finally.

June 14, 2017

•By Tamara Van Happen, Guest Blogger

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

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Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Oh How Sweet It Is

June 6, 2017

•By Nicole Cole, Guest Blogger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

The Business of Baby Making

May 30, 2017

By Kristin Carter, Guest Blogger


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

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

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

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

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

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

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Dear Infertility

May 16, 2017
By Desiree Fortin, Guest Blogger
Dear Infertility,
I hated you.
You steal dreams. You break hearts. You bring grief.  You consume lives.  You are the reason I couldn’t get pregnant on my own.  You drowned my heart in deep misery from the inability to become a Mother how most women do.  You told me that my body wasn’t good enough.  You may have been a huge part of my story, but you never defined me. And on this day, two years ago, I kicked your ass. I defeated you. I showed you that there is victory in infertility and God finally planted life in my womb.Infertility, there are so many things you brought with you when you entered my life.  It wasn’t just that I couldn’t get pregnant.  You brought me more tears than I ever thought I could shed.  Because of you I laid on my bathroom floor in complete emptiness after countless negative pregnancy tests time and time again.  I had to endure shots, bruises, and all kinds of meds because when you are infertile and you seek fertility treatment for help, that is what you are in for.  You are expensive and exhausting physically, emotionally, and mentally.  Infertility, you drowned my heart in disappointment and agony.  And truthfully, it was pretty painful every time I heard the words “I’m pregnant” from someone other than myself.   And yet, in the midst of all of that-you brought me hope.

As much as I hated you, Infertility, I am also so thankful that you were my story.  You made me strong. Even before I got pregnant, my strength was rising. Not only did I feel like Superwoman after all of those injections, meds, blood draws, doctor visits, etc. but I found strength emotionally, as well. I learned how to be brave and walk our story with faith trusting that God knew every single detail better than I did. I learned how to be courageous as my husband gave me a progesterone shot that hurt like you wouldn’t believe every single night for 2 months so I could get and stay pregnant. Infertility, you taught me that I am never alone in my darkest days. Never did I imagine I would be labeled as infertile. Nor did I imagine that we would seek fertility treatment. However, infertility, it is because of you that I get to be a Mom to Charlize, Sawyer, and Jax. This love that I get to experience with them is absolutely undeniable. It is the greatest feeling in the world and if you weren’t apart of my story, I would be missing out on a truly honorable role as their Mommy. It is because of you that two years ago I found myself lying on a Doctors bed waiting for two precious and perfectly made embryos to be transferred to my womb. Infertility, God used you in in my life to make a platform for my story and reach the hearts of people walking the same pain I was in.  And it is because of you that I have a greater understanding of what hope really is.

Infertility, I don’t hate you, not anymore. God makes beauty out of ashes.  You were my ashes, but God made you beautiful.  If it wasn’t for you-for the extreme heartache you caused me, the lies you told me, the grief you brought my heart over and over again- not only would I not be a Mom to my darling hope triplets, but I can now truly grasp on to how powerful and remarkable it means to have hope in Jesus Christ.  Hope anchors the soul. Hope does not disappoint. Hope is having faith for what seems impossible.  It is trusting God when it feels hopeless. My journey to parenthood was nothing short of hope.  God had every single detail orchestrated from the second He planted the seed of Motherhood in my heart.  Infertility, today, when I really reflect on those years when you were apart of my life, I can only say, Thank you.


Mama of Hope

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Your Day Will Come

May 15, 2017

“I still remember the days I prayed for the things I have now.” 

Seems like it was just yesterday that I would have done ANYTHING to hold my babies on Mother’s Day. I will never forget how painful it felt to have empty arms when I just knew I was meant to be a Mama. But ya know what? As crazy as it seems, now I am thankful for those days because they shaped me into the Mom (and person) I was always intended to be.

Even when I’ve got two babies who are sick and fussy, I am grateful. When I wake up every hour through the night, I am grateful. When there’s a double meltdown at the grocery store, I am grateful. When my arms are tired and my back is sore from holding a baby all day, I am grateful. When I can’t remember the last time I showered or brushed my teeth, I am grateful. (Yeah…I know, I really gotta do something to keep my hygiene in check!) I will always be grateful because I know that not having a baby is so much more difficult that having one. I know that infertility is so much more exhausting than a baby. And I know that being a mom is one of life’s greatest privileges that some woman are still waiting on.

People always ask me if it’s hard to raise to two babies so close in age and I always say, “Yes, but it’s not nearly as difficult as struggling with infertility.” So thanks infertility for giving me that perspective and the teaching me the power of perseverance.

If  you are in the middle of a struggle, continue to have faith and don’t give up. Your day will come, I promise, and when it does it’ll be even more extraordinary than you can imagine. For reasons I’ll never quite know, I just had to walk that difficult road to find my babies. And for reasons I’ll never question, I’d do it all again. In a heartbeat. And someday you’ll say the exact same thing.

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