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The Thyroid – Fertility Connection

October 4, 2018

Written byAlyssa Hustedt, guest blogger

Did you know that 1 in 8 women will experience a thyroid imbalance or disorder in their lifetime?  In addition to those diagnosed, there are many others who do not fit the medical criteria of thyroid disease but will feel the effects of poor thyroid function.  The thyroid gland influences almost every cell in your body and its hormones play a huge role in maintaining health, vitality and even fertility. Today, I am here to share with you the signs and symptoms of a thyroid imbalance, which lab markers to ask your doctor for and what you can do to support your thyroid naturally.  

The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped organ at the front of the neck and its function is to take iodine and other nutrients and convert them into thyroid hormones—thyroxin (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).   Every cell in the body depends on these hormones for regulation of their metabolism. Thyroid hormones regulate body weight and control the rate at which the body produces energy from food thereby directly impacting energy levels.  Hypothyroidism can cause infertility by preventing ovulation and adequate levels are critical in pregnancy because these hormones greatly influence growth and development of a growing baby.

Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism can include feeling sluggish or tired, difficulty losing weight, dry skin, hair loss, constipation, cold sensitivity, lack of sweating, feeling mentally sluggish, depressed, experience a “pins and needles” sensation like when a limb falls asleep, puffiness in the face and/or neck or have loss of the outer 1/3 of the eyebrow.

Not as common–but just as concerning–are the signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism.  These can include increased BMR, weight loss, increased appetite, heat intolerance, hypertensive tendencies, feeling anxious or irritable, difficulty falling asleep, may suffer from rapid or irregular heartbeat, brittle hair, an increased number of bowel movements per day and hyperpigmentation of the skin or flushed skin (a red face).  

Many, if not all, of us have had our TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) tested because many doctors solely rely on TSH to determine if there is a thyroid dysregulation.  TSH is not a thyroid hormone itself—it is the hormone that the pituitary gland uses to signal to the thyroid to release thyroid hormones. Anything below .5 can be considered hyperthyroid and anything above 5.5 hypothyroid depending on the lab you use.  These numbers may be a bit opposite of what you would expect and that is because when your thyroid hormones (T4 and T3) start to get low the pituitary will begin to “yell” at the thyroid gland resulting in higher TSH.  In other words, the pituitary starts to send more TSH to the thyroid to signal it to start releasing more hormones. The opposite is true as well: when thyroid hormones are sufficient or too high in the body, the pituitary will back off sending TSH to the thyroid and the number will drop.  As a functional practitioner, I like to see TSH between 1 and 2. This is a much narrower range than lab range but is generally where a person feels the best. The closer the TSH gets to 3 and beyond, the more you may begin to experience hypothyroid symptoms.

The problem with only testing TSH is that you could be missing some key components in the equation.  For example, your TSH could be perfectly normal (so between 1 and 2) but your T4 and T3 might be out of lab range low and cause hypothyroid symptoms because you are not obtaining adequate amounts of actual active thyroid hormones.  When I run a lab panel, I like to see the full picture. This includes TSH, Total T4, Free T4, Total T3, Free T3, Reverse T3, T3 Uptake and TPO & TGB antibodies. Testing for the TPO & TGB antibodies is important with any thyroid imbalance because this will indicate if you have any thyroid autoimmune (meaning that your body is producing antibodies that attack and destroy the thyroid gland itself).  This is something to be concerned about and supplementing for autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s or Graves ’ disease may look different than only having a thyroid imbalance or insufficiency. The autoimmune component in any system of the body should not be ignored.

SO what can you do to support your thyroid gland?  

  1.  If you have any type of thyroid imbalance, dysregulation or autoimmune, it is crucial that you eliminate all gluten from your diet.  Gluten is like the Devil to your thyroid gland. Besides the fact that gluten is a gateway to leaky gut and other autoimmune conditions, thyroid hormones and gluten molecules look very similar.  Gluten sensitivity can exacerbate an attack on the thyroid and in return Hashimoto’s can set up gluten sensitivity.
  2. Focus on eating a nutrient-dense diet.  Throw out the packaged foods, sugary drinks and drive-thru meals.  Eat to nourish, not deplete your body. Choose whole, well-sourced foods.  Shop on the outer edges of the grocery store and always check labels for added chemicals and preservatives.Specific nutrients to fuel your thyroid include:  Iodine which can be found in sea vegetables. Selenium (which helps turn T4 into active T3) found in well-sourced brazil nuts, fish, eggs, raw dairy and grass-fed meats.  Zinc is in seafood, beef and lamb, pumpkin seeds and mushrooms. Magnesium can be found properly prepared beans and nut, brown rice and green leafy vegetables. Other nutrients to support thyroid include Vitamin C, A, B2, B3 and B12.  You are likely to obtaining these vitamins if you are eating a nutrient-dense, well-sourced diet and if your body is properly digesting. Side note: You can have a pristine diet but if you are not properly digesting and absorbing your nutrient rich foods, you can become deficient.
  3.    Removing toxins.  Toxins will compete with iodine specifically.  Remember that the thyroid’s job is to turn iodine into thyroid hormones.  Certain halogens have a similar structure and will compete with iodine—specifically fluorine, chlorine and bromine.  One of the reasons you may be struggling with an underactive thyroid is that you are not getting acquiring adequate amounts of iodine and in turn your thyroid is displacing iodine with these toxins.  Estrogen dominance is another condition that will affect the thyroid. Also emotional toxins affect the thyroid. Prolonged stress will fatigue the adrenal glands and cause the thyroid to put on its breaks.  This can be any kind of stress—illness, being in a bad relationship, work stress, overuse of caffeine or alcohol, lack of sleep, excessive exercise, prescription drugs, persistent fears, financial stress and more.  Any kind of stress if it becomes chronic can become toxic to your life. Learning how to manage stress is the key.
  4.  Lastly, if you struggle with thyroid issues, I encourage you to find a functional practitioner to work with to help you investigate further into where the root of your imbalances lie.  Is it poor digestion? 20% of your non-active T4 is converted to active T3 in the gut. And 40% of that conversion process happens in the liver so if your liver is not functioning correctly it can prevent that conversion from happening.  Or maybe it is adrenal fatigue or food sensitivities, anemia or heavy metals. Working with someone who can help you support these systems, not just manage them but work towards healing can seriously change your life.

It has changed my life.  I have spent most of my life in a state of extreme fatigue and being able to experience the flip side has been amazing.  Life truly is so different when your body is working the way it was intended too and the opposite is true as well—life can be so crippling if you are facing a chronic illness or if you have a thyroid imbalance.  My heart goes out to you today. Don’t give up. Keep searching, keep seeking, find a practitioner that can give you answers, guidance and direction and move you towards a full and happy life. Doing things naturally is not easy—it takes some determination, disciple and patience but it is WORTH it.  YOU are worth it.

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

August 22: National Rainbow Baby Day

July 31, 2018

What is a rainbow baby? A rainbow baby is a baby that is born after a miscarriage, stillbirth, or passing away of an infant. These babies are the rainbow after the storm.

They are a sign of hope, promise, healing, and remembrance.

Here at What the Fertility, we want to celebrate these precious babes and honor the journey to their arrival. On August 22, we hope you will join us in celebrating the first ever National Rainbow Baby Day!

How can you participate?

We want to see your rainbows! Share the story of your rainbow baby on social media using the hashtag #NationalRainbowBabyDay and honor the rainbow in your life! You can also download the pictures below and use them to spread the word leading up to August 22nd.

Are you still waiting for your rainbow? We hope you will use this day as a reminder of hope and that other have walked in your shoes. This community is waiting and yearning to support you, so please reach out for words of encouragement or advice as your travel your journey.

Buy goodies at our fav shops to help a family bring home their rainbow! We’ve teamed up with some amazing small businesses who are generously donating a portion of their proceeds to Baby Question Foundation, who provides grants to people experiencing infertility. What an awesome way to celebrate and help a fellow infertility warrior! Check out:

Or you can always go directly to Baby Quest Foundation, and donate!

In the days leading up to August 22, we will be sharing stories from those who have weathered the storm and we want to see social media light up with rainbow babies! We want this day to be heard around the world so we can bring awareness to infertility, miscarriages, infant loss, and also the light that we can find after the storm.

Remember: use the hashtag #NationalRainbowBabyDay when sharing pictures and stories of your littles. Or share the images below to bring awareness to the day so others can join in! Be sure to tag us on Instagram at @WhatTheFertility and on Facebook! We can’t wait to celebrate with you!

If you have questions, or would like to collaborate on something special for August 22, please contact us!

 

Babe In My Belly, Blogs

Waiting To Expect

May 30, 2018

Written by Amy, guest blogger

As I sit here due to turn 40 in a few months’ time, with my bump bumping into my laptop, half a tub of Ben and Jerry’s on the go and newly washed tiny clothes on the dryer, I think about Mother’s Day and that next year, it’s my turn.

After TTC for four years, never having seen a positive test and two rounds of failed IVF (one ICSI), both privately funded, emptying our savings and filling our credit cards, we were one of the lucky ones. Not only did we receive funding for a NHS cycle, but it was successful, and we even have a frostie on the rocks for round two.

Yet, even though I have a 32-week-old bear cub either shadow boxing  in my belly or tap dancing on my bladder, I still feel that if I let myself relax and enjoy this pregnancy, I’ll tempt fate and I’ll be sent to the back of the queue.

After four years of watching everyone pass you by, being told to just relax or other unhelpful unsolicited advice and hearing stories of someone’s uncle’s dog’s cousin tried this and it worked, it gets to the point when you give up and lose a sense of your own purpose.

What started as a fun little project quickly becomes well, not so much fun. The anger, frustration and emptiness take over, you feel numb most of the time, and you barely recognize the happy, relaxed girl starting back at you in your wedding photos. You can’t remember the last time you laughed and something you always assumed was straightforward and totally natural, suddenly is neither.

I involved my family and close friends from the start. I’m not a huge over-sharer and often am very private in my feelings and emotions, but this was like therapy for me. I needed to talk about it to rationalize it and deal with it. Humour always helped too; stories of progesterone suppositories (#FannyBullets) and appointments with dildo-cam being interrupted by fire alarms, kept both my friends amused and me sane.

I lost some friends along the way, the usual story of either me not being able to deal with their success or them not understanding what I was going through. But at the same time, I gained some new friendships and strengthened existing ones, some that I am thankful for every single day, because I couldn’t have got through it without them.

Infertility never leaves you. When you experience it, you lose a part of you that I don’t ever think you regain fully. Yet, I’m proud of my badge and I wear it with pride. I openly talk about our experiences with anyone who will listen and the fact this baby is an IVF baby just blows my mind every day. The more I talk about it, the more people open up to me with their own experiences and if that means one person feels like they’re less alone then that can only be a good thing.

Looking back on my journey, have I enjoyed this pregnancy so far? If I’m brutally honest, and I feel terrible admitting this because I know how lucky I am to get this far, but I haven’t enjoyed much of it. Since the second line showed on the pregnancy test, I skipped the excited part and moved straight onto months of worry and fear. I still expect to see blood every time I go for a pee, and I’m due to give birth in six weeks. That’s what I mean about infertility never leaving you; you’re thankful, but you still expect the worst because that’s what you’ve become used to.

Around week 25 I started to get the fear about our relationship and how we’ll cope with a third wheel. We’d made it to the second trimester and things were a little rosier for me; I had more energy, I was back exercising and we were taki­­­­­ng a few overseas trips. I felt like I had the cake and I was eating it; I was pregnant, and we were still living our lives to the max. Life was great, the due date was far enough way in the future for it to be something we didn’t have to deal with for a while, but close enough to still feel real. Then, during a bout of insomnia, I suddenly realized that in 15 weeks’ time, everything would change. Our wonderfully selfish life of lie ins, brunches, morning exercise classes, holidays and late nights, will be thrown upside down. And suddenly I realized that what I always thought was the hardest bit (getting pregnant) is only the start.

But now safely ensconced in the third trimester, I’m relaxing a bit more and taking every day as it comes. I still haven’t read any books (ignorance is bliss), but we have started practicing hypnobirthing, a few essentials have been bought and we’re trying to delay over-excited grandparents from buying us gifts.

I still have the occasional freak out about how I’ll keep this tiny thing alive once it’s on the other side and how we’ll survive as a couple. But every evening we tell each other this is one day further than we’ve got before, and we tell our baby it’s also one day closer to meeting them.

Above all, what drives me forward, keeping me positive and focused, is the thought of seeing my husband hold our baby for the first time and the look on his face as he meets the baby I’ve grown to love in my belly. That moment when two become three.

Babe In My Belly, Blogs

Channon Rose: Our Fertility Journey

May 21, 2018

Channon Rose and her husband, Travis Dean, have been trying for their baby since 2015. Through years of surgeries, treatments, and a miscarriage, Channon has been open and documented her journey from day 1 through her vlog.

Their journey is raw and real. And we are grateful for the awareness Channon and Travis are bringing to how infertility affects people’s lives. We’ll let her video do the talking! Watch Channon’s video below to hear about their journey from the start!

For a more in-depth look at where they’ve been and where they are at, be sure to check out Channon’s YouTube channel!

 

Babe In My Belly, Blogs

Lessons About Love and Loss

May 2, 2018

Written by Sarah Banks, guest blogger

I’ve often wondered how I would tell this story. Where do you even begin, after 10 years of infertility and loss, when the journey is still underway? I can still vividly remember the first miscarriage – it was 2008 and we had just moved to Colorado Springs. I was doubled over in excruciating pain, crying at work. I didn’t know I was pregnant, so I didn’t know what was wrong, and I remember saying to a coworker, “If I didn’t know better I would think this is what a miscarriage feels like.” When the Doctor told me I was pregnant and that I was having a miscarriage, a flood of emotions and thoughts washed over me. Most of all, I felt desperate for this life that I didn’t even know was there before that moment. I immediately loved this child and longed to meet him or her. Now it was all gone. Weeks of tears, waves of sadness and shock, lots of questions, and a lot of guilt came and went during that time. Miscarriages 2, 3 and 4 are more of a blur.

“I’m sorry, it looks like you’ve just rolled snake eyes too many times,” one of the Doctors said to me. Snake eyes? Really? You’re making a craps reference about my fertility? Do people even say that? Apparently they do because I will never un-hear those words being spoken to me.

Over the course of the next 4 years, I saw 3 different Reproductive Endocrinologists in 2 different states. I had every test they offer administered, and re-administered after another couple of miscarriages, only to be told that I’m perfectly healthy and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with me. Except, of course, for the fact that I couldn’t carry a baby past 9 weeks with no medical explanation of why. I think it might have been easier over those years if there was a reason, some kind of medical diagnosis that I could wrap my head around, undergo treatment for….something.

 

Pregnancy #5 is clear, too clear to forget any of the details, much like pregnancy and baby #1. Baby #5 and baby #6 were twins. I hadn’t taken any fertility drugs or undergone any treatment, but I do have twins that run in my family. I was so excited and so hopeful, but I was also cripplingly terrified. My anxiety and panic over something going wrong was almost suffocating. At my 8 week appointment baby A had a heartbeat but baby B did not. I was crushed, but also hopeful for baby A. A week later during ultrasound, baby A no longer had a heartbeat. During those moments I was so angry with myself and my body. It had failed me, yet again, and I didn’t know how to cope with that. I went through a long period of anger and resentment about why this was happening to me. I questioned my faith. I questioned why others could have children but I couldn’t. I questioned the fairness of it all.

I knew it before I even missed my period. After 5 pregnancies I knew my body so well, I knew I was pregnant days before my period was due. My chest was swollen and tender and it hurt to walk around my house without a bra. That was always my first sign of pregnancy. This time, pregnancy #6 and baby #7, felt different. I was nauseous, incredibly tired and I wasn’t as panicked and anxious every waking second of the day. I had a calm and peace about this pregnancy. That whatever was going to happen, was going to happen, regardless of what I did or didn’t do. I travelled to Peru at 8 weeks and rubbed the water at Machu Picchu on my stomach. I prayed, I begged, I bargained for the life of this child, but I maintained a sense of peace like I hadn’t in the pregnancies before.

I remember sitting at the Doctor’s office at week 38 and begging the Doctor to induce labor. I didn’t trust my body, even though my pregnancy had been fine, and I wanted her out. My beautiful miracle daughter was born on November 6, 2014. I have never loved anything or anyone as much as I loved this little girl.

I wanted more children, but I just didn’t know if it was part of the plan for me, and I was ok with that. I didn’t know how much more loss and fear my heart could take. Even before the positive pregnancy test, I knew I was pregnant with baby #8. We were thrilled and hopeful, and the Doctors assured me that after carrying my daughter to term I should absolutely be able to carry another pregnancy to term. But this was just like babies #1-6. I knew it, because I knew my pregnant body too well, and it was a blessing and a curse. After you’ve had as many miscarriages as I have they will see you before the 8 or 12 week mark, so at the 6 week appointment we could clearly see a baby on the ultrasound but I was measuring behind and there was no heartbeat yet. At the 8 week appointment they confirmed that the baby had stopped growing at 6 weeks 1 day. The inevitable conversation with my Doctor followed, “Would you like to do a D&C or try to miscarry naturally?” I’ve had this conversation too many times and I had become numb to it. We lost baby #8 in October 2017, 9 years after this infertility journey began, almost to the day.

As I write this, 15 weeks pregnant with baby #9, I think about the sweet souls in heaven that I’ll never meet. I wonder whether they were girls or boys, what they would have looked like, what they would have become. I wonder if I will tell my children about their brothers and sisters in heaven. This has been a devastating journey filled with too many tears to count and too much hurt to measure, but it has also taught me more lessons about love and loss than I could have ever imagined. I cherish every waking second with my daughter and am hopeful that I will get to meet baby #9 in October.

Infertility is painful beyond words, but I haven’t lost hope. I lost it at times, but I didn’t lose it forever. If I had given up, I never would have become a Mom, and I know that I was meant to be one, to all 9 of these children.

Babe In My Belly, Blogs

Life After Two Pink Lines

April 27, 2018

Written by Megan Elliot, guest blogger

In December 2017, we went into our 4th and final round of IVF; a couple months before I had a laparoscopy to remove a cyst and I ended up having stage 4 endometriosis that was removed during that same surgery. We felt like a weight had been lifted off of us. Finally, this might be the answer to our infertility. We went in to our 4th round of IVF with our heads held a little higher and with a little more hope than the previous rounds. However, we were still protecting our heart as we have been disappointed each round prior.

We had recently completed a home study with an adoption agency. This made us feel like we were ready to take on a new journey if this last IVF round did not work. With this last round of IVF, the plan was to send all of our embryos for genetic testing and do a frozen transfer in February but in the world of infertility, you can’t really have a plan. Your body makes up the rules. After having 12 eggs retrieved and 10 fertilized, we were devastated to hear the news on day 2 that all but 1 embryo had stop growing. Each day we got a call to let us know we may need to come in for a transfer and to stand by. We ended up going in on day 5 to transfer 1 blastocyst – it was this or nothing.

The chances of this working were slim and we knew it. I wanted to protect my heart so I started secretly testing before my beta test. The first day I tested I saw a second line. I fell to my knees and cried in disbelief. Could this really be happening? No way would I tell my husband, I needed to protect his heart and did not want to get his hopes up. So every morning I would quietly unwrap a pregnancy test, look at it and store it away in the bathroom drawer but not before taking a picture and sending to a friend to see if she thought the line was darker then the one before. Even though there were two lines, I questioned it; “What if it was a chemical pregnancy? What if the line is not darker the next time I test, what if my beta numbers are not high enough or do not double?”

I was feeling so many mixed emotions of disbelief and honestly just terrified. My lines did get darker, my betas doubled and we got the official call from our doctor 3 days before Christmas that we were pregnant. Our very own Christmas miracle seemed too good to be true. Unfortunately, pregnancy after infertility is not what you imagined it would be. I always thought, if it could just get pregnant everything would be fine. I would be happy again and my world would be right. Little did I know how stressed and scared I was every single day. The joy I thought I would feel was not there, instead I felt an overwhelming sense of fear. I obsessed over what symptoms I had or should be having. I kept taking pregnancy tests until I was about 8 weeks just to make sure it was still positive. At each ultrasound appointment I could not even look at the screen until someone told me it was okay. I was crying before the Doctor would even come into the room and had multiple breakdowns to my acupuncturist. I constantly counted my heartrate to make sure it was still beating faster than normal (I didn’t even know what my normal was) and I refused to talk about being pregnant, let alone tell anyone, and begged my husband to not get excited. The wait in between appointments destroyed me. It was like I could not even function in the real world because I was so consumed with negative thoughts and fears. I was so angry with my infertility journey. I felt that it had not only robbed me from not only the normalcy of trying to get pregnant but also the joy of finding out I was pregnant. But just with most things, with time, you heal.

As I sit and write this at 19 weeks, feeling flutters of my daughter moving around in my stomach, 1 week shy of our 20 week anatomy scan, I still cry but I cry tears of happiness and gratefulness that we have been blessed with this miracle. We thank God every day for blessing us with this one embryo, which continues to grow strong and beautiful against all odds.

My husband and I have started to feel grateful for our infertility journey. It has made us knowledgeable and we feel good when we use big words and ask the tough questions in front of our OB! It has strengthened our marriage, our faith, and has reminded us to never to take any part of this new chapter for granted. My husband and I lay in bed listening to her heartbeat almost every night. We talk about how she is going to be such a strong little lady who will do amazing things. She is already such a fighter and we are already so proud to be her parents. We have started talking about her nursery and what we need to do to make room in our house for our growing family. We take weekly pregnancy pictures; we read What to Expect When Your Expecting, and talk about my symptoms and what they mean. My friends even set a day for my baby shower. MY BABY SHOWER….what is this world I am living in!? I am living a dream and vision that felt so far away and even not existent for so long.

I am so glad we never gave up and I am so glad we never stopped believing in miracles. Infertility sucks. It is hard and it is life changing. Pregnancy after infertility sucks too and can sometimes be harder or more stressful but as time goes on and you start to feel more secure in your pregnancy, it becomes a dream come true. I still can’t believe I am carrying a miracle, my daughter, my little fighter.

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

From WTF Sisters: Successful Frozen Embryo Transfer Tips and Tricks

April 17, 2018

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:

Image courtesy of American Pregnancy

Acupuncture: 

“…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

Image courtesy of Gaiam

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

Unsuspecting protocols:

“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.

Babe In My Belly, Blogs

When Family Answers The Call: From Sister-In-Law to Gestational Carrier

April 4, 2018

Written by Cammie Heaton, guest blogger

My husband and I began trying to start a family in 2013 when I was 27 and he was 29 and after a year of trying and no results, we made a doctor’s appointment. We were both checked up and down multiple times. I had countless scopes, surgeries, ultrasounds, and labs with no findings. I have been a type 1 diabetic for 22 years and we knew if I were to become pregnant, it would be considered high risk. With clearance from my endocrinologist and nephrologist, I was given a prescription for Clomid and took it for the maximum time with no results. I was ovulated monthly but never had a positive pregnancy test.

We were then referred to a specialist in Wichita, KS; a good four hour drive from our rural hometown of Hugoton. We waited three months to get an appointment and after all the buildup, we left extremely disappointed. Dr. Tatpati felt as if it would be too dangerous for me to try IVF and possibly carry multiples with having a chronic condition.

It was time to discuss next steps: we talked about just enjoying each other, having our dogs as our “kids”and spoiling our nieces and nephews, whom we love as our own. We did an adoption phone consultation and were told to expect the cost to be nearly $50k. In the end, we decided to take it day by day and continue to pray.

About a month later, my husband came home from work and told me that his coworker said his wife would be willing to carry our biological child. I was in complete shock, sure that she didn’t really understand what it would all entail. We met with her and ended up back in Wichita. Fast forward through multiple appointments, labs, contracts with attorneys, social workers etc., and we were ready! I had an egg retrieval and they fertilized 24 eggs. Unfortunately, our carrier’s lining wasn’t materializing and so they had to freeze the 6 embryos that made it to blastocyst and we were told that maybe the next month we could try.

A week later, I was in excruciating pain and vomiting blood. My husband drove me to the ER but I was transferred to a bigger hospital an hour away. My abdomen had swollen and at every extraction point of an egg there was a leaking blood vessel. I had a horrible and severe form of OHSS.

Next thing I know, my already fragile kidneys were shutting down and I was in the back of an ambulance going to Wesley Hospital in Wichita. I had a paracentesis and they drained over two liters from my abdomen. While I have recovered fine, my kidneys will never function as well as they had. We did what we were told was safe and ended up in a very critical state.

Six months later, our carrier’s body was still not responding to the hormones as it should. Her lining would not thicken and had fluid, a cyst, and other concerns. We were told to find another carrier, as if it were that easy!

After some discussion, we made a plan. My husband asked his sister, Tina, who is married to Greg and have three children, and also happen to be our neighbors. We discussed the process over a spaghetti dinner and left their house with hopeful hearts to have a baby again.

We had to begin the legal process, labs, contracts, appointments, etc. all over again. A potential transfer date was scheduled for February 2017, but just like the first carrier, her lining was too thin.

We were frustrated…deja vu.

Eventually we transferred a frozen embryo in April, and nine days later the pregnancy test was negative.

We jumped right back in and transferred again in June, and this time it worked! She was pregnant! We were over the moon. Just a short week later we were told it was an abnormal pregnancy and she ended up having to a have d&c.

Lots of things were unknown after this. Do we try again? Financially, can we try again? Is Tina still willing to try?

We waited till October. This was to be Tina’s last try and we transferred two embryos, On a Sunday evening in November, we saw two pink lines. We cried, we were so excited but also so scared since we had just gotten these results in June, only to be left heartbroken.

The day before Thanksgiving, we saw one baby via ultrasound and there was one heartbeat! I thought I might have a heart attack. I was holding Tina’s hand and realized afterwards how hard I was squeezing her. That Thanksgiving was that much more blessed than I ever could have imagined.

Tina took 10 weeks of progesterone shots and through it all, was so strong. She truly is the most selfless person I know. She has never complained, whined, had a “poor me” attitude, or wanted any praise. She is a trooper, always positive, and I get goosebumps typing this as she is an answer to so many prayers over the last five years.

We found out on Valentine’s Day that we are expecting a baby girl. She is due the beginning of July and her name will be Gracyn Jo Faye, sharing a middle name with both myself (Jo) and Tina (Faye).

I frequently feel like I need to pinch myself as we look at baby cribs, talk about paint colors, and dream about who she will look like. This road has been rough, there have been more bumps and setbacks than times we were happy. Tears of hope, joy and fear. When times were hard and hope seemed dim I relied on our faith, family and friends.

I owe Tina the world and want her to be recognized as my hero. Without her, we would not be able to have a biological child. She is doing this without any large compensation and from the bottom of her heart. A true warrior and friend.

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

From WTF Sisters: The Best TTC Advice

March 27, 2018

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

(Image credit: Scary Mommy)

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

(Image credit: FertilityTips.com)

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!

What The Fertility

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