Fertility warrior Carly Kenihan shares why April is a special month and the latest project that benefits families going through fertility treatments!
When I think of that negative pregnancy test. Heck-hundreds-of negative pregnancy tests – I still feel the sting. And I say hundreds because you better believe I took not one but five each month just to double triple five times confirm the disappointing results. There were lots of tears on our journey. Feelings of failure. But there was also lots of hope! Which I never – ever – let go of! I now have two beautiful babies so believe me when I understand gratitude to its entirety. And this month I’m feeling extra delicate and just extra mushy, all over!!
The month of April has become the month of all the feels. April is National Infertility Awareness Month (well, it really only has a week, but I’m making it a month), and April, is the precious month my little twins were born. There’s no doubt in my mind that the two go hand in hand. I mean, Slater and Zoe weren’t technically due till June, so it’s no coincidence they chose April, more specifically the very first day of National Infertility Awareness Week last year to surprise us! You can read more about our infertility journey here and our birth story here, but today I’m excited to share with you the babies and my first little project!!!
We collaborated with Softsie on a baby capsule that resembles peace, strength and hope – all things Softsie founder Natalie and I found through part 1 of our journeys, that are still ever so present in our hearts while we venture through part 2. The privilege of motherhood! Our life tales are nowhere near how we imagined them, but oh how we hope to always find peace with their perfect imperfections.
Our collaboration embodies all of these things and we’re so excited to share it with you! My babies Slater and Zoe finalized the pattern and together we decided grey and white was the most versatile color combo – it’s gender neutral and works year round! The fabric is THE softest thing you will ever feel! The styles are all practical for both sleeping and playing. Everything is functional for life! We love to wear our palm under the trees at the beach, but we love to cozy up in them under imaginary trees at home just the same 🙂
The clothing ranges from $19-$45 in sizes 0m-6T and you can use code UNDERTHPALM for 15% off any Softsie purchase during the month of April! A portion of proceeds will be donated to Pay it Forward Fertility Foundation to provide fertility treatments to mamas in the making, so they too can sit with their dream, under the palm.
Visit Carly’s blog BunBunBook for more on her journey, and be sure to follow her on Instagram as she shares all her joy love and fun in her latest adventure of motherhood!!
Infertility isn’t a journey anyone should travel alone, and sometimes our biggest supporters are others we haven’t met physically, but have interacted with countless times through social media.
Last month, a sister came to us with a question about what others did to help an embryo stick after a frozen transfer. We posted the question on our Instagram because we knew you would answer the call. You did not disappoint or let this gal down! The responses were so amazing, we wanted to share with the whole community!
Here are some of the highlights:
“…good ole fashion Chinese medicine and acupuncture! Most docs will say no to the herbs but yes to the needles. Best thing I ever did.” – @katiedlwood
“I also agree with acupuncture. I did my doctoral study on acupuncture and embryo transfers.” –@vacay_girl_ali_dnp
“Acupuncture! I did it for 4 weeks prior to transfer then the day before and after transfer.” – @dawnsterzzz
“My acupuncturist gave me a Moxa treatment several days before my transfer.” – @pamelaf77
“I agree about acupuncture! It didn’t help with any medicated cycle but my first FET stuck and I’m 33+ weeks pregnant!” – @kwmcm
Diet and lifestyle:
“I did acupuncture leading up to my transfer, and right before & immediately after the transfer. I ate pineapple (the core) for a few days leading up to my transfer and then a few days after. No caffeine (even chocolate and decaf coffee were cut out sadly) to increase blood flow to the uterus. The Circle & Bloom IVF meditations were great for me, too. My doctor required bed rest the day of the transfer and the day after and I really loved that time to relax and take it easy!” – @vmmayer
Agree with Circle & Bloom meditations and walking helped my mindset too. I did acupuncture along with the transfer and during the TWW.” – @simplywellcoaching
“Circle & Bloom guided meditations! They have them specific for FET and I really think they helped me relax and visualize success.” – @lyndsaysmiles
“I’ve read about a ton of stuff. They say pomegranate juice and Brazil nuts could help.” – @latersbaby0829
“I did a Lupron FET…and it was successful! I also took 30 Viagras that time to help with my lining.” – @mrs.kuddles
I used Viagra for my lining, but just a week and had endometrium scratching.” – @little_beea
What did you do leading up to and during your successful FET cycle? Drop your experience and advice in the comments below! And be on the look out for our next post from WTF sisters around unique ways to raise money for those expensive fertility treatments!
It is important to note that What The Fertility is not a medical website and the content here is in no way a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. You should always consult with your physician or reproduction endocrinologist about your course of treatment, what is best for your body, and address any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
One thing (well, one of the many) that we love about the What The Fertility (WTF) community is the compassion towards others and willingness to share! Whether that means sharing stories, advice, tips, or just joining in on all the feels when someone is celebrating or needs a pick-me-up!
Last month on our Instagram and Facebook pages, we asked you: “What was the best advice you were given while trying for a baby?” And boy, did you answer! Here’s what some of our TTC sisters had to say:
About marriage while TTCing:
“I’ve learned to take the advice with love, no matter what. But in return, I give them the honesty of my journey. I was depressed. I’ve lost friends. But through it all, I lean into the love of my marriage more and more. That’s saved my soul.” – @bloomingwithcare
“Some of the best advice I got was to remember my husband through the process. Trying for a baby can be all consuming and feel very “mechanical.” Even more so when experiencing infertility! Take time for your partner, check in on their feelings, and remember that you are in this together.” – @laurenjbennett
No success on the actual baby making but just keep talking to your significant other…keep good lines of communication open because chances are they are struggling as much if not more than you are. Keep each other close, don’t let not being able to conceive get in between what brought you together in the first place LOVE. – Alexis
On paying attention to your body:
“Be proactive, get your body checked out to see why infertility may be occurring so you don’t over look or not look at important aspects!” – @sexdoccarli
“Listen to your body. It knows what it’s deficient or nutrient rich in and if I can support you and a growing baby.” – @shreeberry
Taking the journey in stride:
“Some of the best advice that I received was try not to put so much stress on the process. Take your meds, relax, get a massage, and leave it in God’s hands. Once I really relaxed and put it all in God’s hand it worked. I was on my last cycle of IUI before IVF. Due later this year.” – @mrsnatvirture
“The best is for someone to listen to you and offer no advice.” – Carrie
“Get a support group and block out all the advice and lean on the ones who offer nothing but love- no advice no nothing but being there. And know your partner is in this too- and they might not reach out but they need a person to lean on too.” – Talia
Do you have TTC advice that you would like to pass on to others looking to start a family? Drop them in the comments below! And be on the look out for our next post from the WTF community around ensuring a successful embryo transfer!
By Tasha Blasi, guest blogger
I did ten rounds of IVF to have my children. Hudson was round two and Mila was round ten.
When I share this party trick of mine, I can tell if someone has also experienced fertility issues by the next question that they ask me.
For those that have not needed fertility treatments to conceive, they ask, “Wow, how much did that cost you (in dollars)?”
For those that needed fertility treatment to conceive, they ask, “Wow, how much did that cost you (in mental health)?”
It cost us tens of thousands of dollars. Maybe $100K? I will never know. I know that we paid out of pocket in full for one round, and then had some insurance covering the other nine rounds, but I am not masochistic, so I carefully avoided adding up the overall total even though I had our IVF bills in one place.
While the financial toll of IVF came and left quickly for each round (like ripping off a band-aid), the emotional toll of IVF came, never left, and just kept growing and changing (like an infected wound that you never uncovered to look at and just kept hidden under a band-aid).
At first, I was cocky. I was doing IVF in NYC. They had to be the best if they are in NYC, right? Also, I was young and healthy, and our fertility issues were due to my husband’s low sperm count so we would have no issues creating tons of healthy embryos, right? Plus, I was successful at anything I worked hard at, so IVF will be the same, right?
Of course, I was wrong about all of those things. Soon, my attitude changed from confident to hopeless. I was not cocky anymore, I was afraid.
Watching round 6,7, 8, and 9 fail, without even a positive pregnancy test, unraveled me. It didn’t make sense. I had been pregnant before, so my body knew what to do, and I didn’t have any known fertility issues.
I was confused and felt lost, but I was not ready to give up. For the last round, I made some hard changes. The first was changing doctors for the fourth time. I also worked on environmental and mindset issues that could be getting in the way of my success.
I am proud of my path and my very pricey children. I don’t have any regrets in my fertility journey. In fact, my only regret in life is not spending the money to see the original cast of Hamilton. 🙂
But I don’t want anyone else to make my mistakes and go through what I did for those years.
For this reason, I left my career and started the FU Project so women can go through their fertility journey so much easier, cheaper, kinder, and quicker than I did. My customized “Method to Motherhood™” for women is simple and streamlined. I focus on the four elements that need to be solid for IVF success rates to get close to 100% (within two embryo transfers)* vs. the average 35% national success rates for IVF.**
The four elements are Science, Environment, Mindset, and Support.
Today, I work with one woman at a time. Soon, my “Method to Motherhood™” will be incorporated into the top fertility clinics around the world. They are already calling, but I am holding off on any partnerships for now. I need more time to just focus on my program. I am just getting started!
If you would like answers to what is stopping you from getting or staying pregnant, please call me so I can help you. I offer complimentary strategy sessions so women can learn what might be the missing link in their fertility journey that will finally make them successful.
I am so grateful and proud to know that soon IVF will focus on more than just the woman’s uterus and ovaries. And all women will go through a kinder, easier, and quicker IVF journey.
I see the future of IVF and ‘it’s finally positive.”
Tasha Blasi (@tashablasi IG, @thetashablasi FB) is a fertility coach and founder of the Fertilitites Unite Project (FU Project). She offers complimentary fertility strategy session for some women considering or doing IVF so please take advantage of this opportunity. You can apply for one at www.tashablasi.com/connect.
*FU Project’s Method to Motherhood success rates based on 100+ women.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.