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A Note For My Littlest Valentine

February 14, 2019

Written by Brooke Papp, WTF Contributor

To my littlest Valentine growing in my belly –

Your daddy and I have been waiting for you for quite some time and we are anxiously awaiting your arrival!

After our two losses of angel babies before you, I can’t say we had given up hope but I can say we were slightly defeated so with every single movement or kick or body slam on my bladder, I am amazed at the strong little girl you are. You are definitely the Rainbow we’ve been waiting for after our storm.

I can’t wait to meet you and see who’s features you have or if it’s the perfect mixture of both of us. I can’t wait to be there for your milestones and hear your fears and dreams and listen to your imagination soar.

I can’t wait to be tested in all the steps of parenthood and to grow together in ways I didn’t know were possible. But for now, just finish cookin’ and we will meet you when you’re ready to make your long awaited debut.

Happy Valentine’s Day to the one who is going to change my life and be my forever Valentine, your daddy and I are already so smitten!

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


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The Broken Road

February 6, 2019

Written by Whitney Ellis, Guest Blogger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Different Kind of Waiting

January 21, 2019

Written by Stacy Noskowicz, Guest Blogger

Sharing my journey has been the best therapy I could provide myself, so when I was given the opportunity to put it down on paper, I knew I had to do it.  Writing is not my thing, but I knew this would help me and potentially others.

I always thought waiting would be a part of our journey, so I tried to prepare myself and my husband for the waiting game we were bound to be a part of.  Many of the woman in my family have had trouble getting pregnant, so naturally I thought I would be next.

Waiting has been and still is a part of our story, but not in the way we expected.

April 28, 2018, our wedding day!  May 1, 2018, our honeymoon begins!  June 1, 2018, if it’s going to take some time to get pregnant, let’s start trying! And that’s exactly what we did.

That first pregnancy test in June was negative, exactly six days before my period was due (the box says you can test up to 6 days early– who can wait?!).  I took a few more pregnancy tests over the next few days, until I finally saw (read: imagined) a very dull, hardly visible second line. I was pregnant. I woke my husband up at 7:15 on a Sunday morning to share the news with him.  He took one look at that pregnancy test, looked at me and said, “Where do you see a 2nd line?”.  I assured him it would become more visible over the next few days.  In typical male fashion, he gave me a kiss, rolled over and went back to sleep.

Full of emotion I didn’t know what to do with myself and decided to go on a long walk through Central Park.  On that walk, I saw more than a few baby strollers and thought, “that’s going to be me in nine months”. Feelings of happiness, excitement and fear ran through my body.  My husband and I went out for breakfast that morning and discussed baby names, logistics (where in our 700-square-foot apartment is this baby going to sleep?), and how we were going to share the news with our families!  My husband started believing that maybe we were pregnant and the excitement was visible. We returned home and there it was … my monthly visitor. I wasn’t pregnant. That was the first of many cries I have experienced throughout our so far eight month journey.

So, life went on with the “we’ll try again next month” mentality.  Next month came, we tried, and it was time to test. This time I had the self-control to wait to test until the night before my period was due.  It was positive. I was pregnant. I decided to wait to test again the next morning before bringing my husband in to it. I woke up the next morning (let’s be honest, I hadn’t slept) and tested again.  There was a clear second line. I was pregnant.

I had big plans of how I would tell my husband, but when he woke up about 20 minutes later, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut for long enough for him to open his eyes. I had to tell him.  Rather than telling him, I showed him. I showed him that VERY POSITIVE pregnancy test and we celebrated, just the two of us.

My gynecologist is not an obstetrician, but had instructed me to call her after my first missed period, at which point she would bring me in for a confirmation ultrasound and refer me to an OB.  At 4 weeks 3 days pregnant we had our first ultrasound. What we saw on that screen was no bigger than a poppy seed, but it was our baby. We couldn’t be more excited. Each week that followed I went in for another ultrasound and my gynecologist said she would refer me out when we could see/hear a heartbeat.  At our 5 week 3 day and 6 week 3 day appointments our poppy seed looked slightly larger– even more excitement! There was no heartbeat yet, but the ultrasound technician assured us that we would see it the following week, “it’s just early” she said.

After our 6 week 3 day ultrasound, we had a trip planned to visit my family in Florida.  It was early, very early– we hadn’t even heard a heartbeat yet– but I wanted to have the opportunity to tell my family in person.  This was going to be my parent’s first grandchild, my grandma’s first great grandchild and the excitement was palpable.

When we returned to our home in New York City, it was time for our 7 week 3 day ultrasound.  (I should mention that many people have asked why I was getting so many ultrasounds and the honest answer is, I don’t know.  This is what my doctor was recommending and I didn’t think much of it). My husband and I could not wait for that appointment.  We were going to get to see our growing baby and hear its heart beat! It was also at that appointment that I lost all my hope. There was no heartbeat and we were once again told, “it’s still early”, let’s draw some blood and see what those numbers look like”.

I went home that night convinced were having a miscarriage and I cried and cried and cried.  My husband didn’t really understand me jumping to conclusions, but I’ve heard it said before, and it is so true, woman know their bodies.  The fetus was measuring behind based on my last period and there was no heartbeat at 7 weeks 3 days. Google, both your best friend and worst enemy, was pointing to a miscarriage too.  The next day, my phone rang at 9:15pm and it was my doctor. My HCG levels had increased, but not nearly as much as they should have. She was confirming what I already knew, but recommended I have another ultrasound that Monday (4 days later) to confirm what we were suspecting.

We had a wedding to attend that weekend.  We tried to put a smile on our faces, but we were counting down the hours until our appointment on Monday.  It was finally time. I informed the ultrasound technician that we were just there to confirm there was no heartbeat, so she knew she wasn’t breaking the terrible news to us.  Before starting the test, she informed us that she could not tell us anything, but she would bring a radiologist in afterwards to review the results. The ultrasound was taking what felt like forever and the ultrasound technician said “I want to bring the doctor in while I scan you”.  In walked a radiologist who introduced herself to myself and my husband and then became glued to the screen.

The next thing I heard her say plays over and over in my head to this day, “ok, now go to the other one”.  The other one? I sat up as much as one can while undergoing a transvaginal ultrasound and said “I’m sorry, but what did you just say”.  She looked at me and said “I’m thinking you are pregnant with twins, but please let me finish and we will go over everything”.

When the test was finished, she sat me up and the scariest conversation of our lives began.  “What I am seeing on the ultrasound are monochromatic/monoambionic twins, also known as momo twins, or identical twins in the same sac.  This means they are sharing space and nutrients and this is going to be a VERY high risk pregnancy”. She asked for my doctors information so she could call her right away and instructed me to head to my doctor’s office (this ultrasound was completed at an imaging center).  My husband and I Googled during the entire 10-minute talk to my doctor’s office and what we were finding was even scarier than we thought: bed rest in the hospital at 25 weeks, C-section at 32 weeks, cord compression, twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, birth defects, lower than normal survival rate, a long NICU stay.  I didn’t need to read anymore. Again, Google can be your best friend or your worst enemy. At that moment, we were not a big fan of Google.

When we arrived at my doctor’s office, she tried to reassure us and referred us to a high-risk OB.  I could barely get out of her office before I was on the phone making an appointment with the high-risk doctor.  Our appointment was 48 hours later, possibly the longest 48 hours of our lives thus far. I was half excited and half nervous, but 100% ready to make a plan and set us up on the best possible path we could take to TWO healthy babies.  Forty-eight hours finally passed and we were ready for yet another ultrasound. The ultrasound technician did her thing and called in a doctor. The doctor walked in and asked me a few questions, which had me suspicious, and I finally asked (maybe screamed), “what is going on??”.  She informed us there was no heartbeat, or no viable heartbeat at least. A possible 60bpm heartbeat, but not a healthy one. How could this be … Weren’t we just in this same position (with the exception of the possibility of twins) one week ago? Why did I have to be told TWICE that there was no heartbeat?  Why did it feel like we experiencing 2 miscarriages in one week? What do we do now?

The high-risk doctor gave us a few options and told us to sleep on it.  I could be scheduled for a D and C or I could be prescribed a pill that would help my body pass this pregnancy on it’s own.  I didn’t want either of those options, I wanted a baby.

We went home and talked about where to go from here.  The following weekend was Labor Day Weekend, and we decided that I would take the pill at home and give myself the three days to recover, both mentally and physically.  I called my doctor and asked her to prescribe the pill. She called back a day later (Saturday night at 7pm) and informed us she was not satisfied with how the high risk doctor had written her note and was therefore not convinced this was a miscarriage, considering the 60bpm heartbeat they noted.  She wanted to scan me again (?!) before she felt comfortable prescribing. I will never forget how she said it. She said “if you want to terminate this pregnancy I can prescribe, but I recommend you come in for an ultrasound”. If I want to terminate this pregnancy? I want nothing more than for this to be a healthy pregnancy and to hold my baby in 9 months.  I couldn’t shake those words and had to have an ultrasound before proceeding.

It was the Tuesday after Labor Day and I was at my doctor’s office at 7am for yet another ultrasound.  As we suspected, the ultrasound showed no heartbeat and it was clear the fetus had stopped growing. There was a weird sense of relief, like we could finally move on.

My husband and I took that day off of work so I can take the medicine to help pass the pregnancy and he would be by my side the whole time.  I went home and took the first dose and waited, and waited and waited. Four hours later, I was instructed to take a second dose in the slim chance nothing had happened yet (and up to one more dose after that for a total of 3 doses).  So dose 2 went in and we waited and waited and waited. Nothing. Dose 3 went in and we waited and waited and waited. Nothing. I was in contact via text message with my doctor throughout the day and she told me to see what happens overnight.  Nothing.

I went to work the next day and the doctor wanted to see me to confirm it hadn’t passed.  Again, insert Google, which had prepared me for intense cramping and bleeding, none of which I had experienced.  I knew there was no way it had passed. So 2 days later I was in her office for another ultrasound and there was our answer in plain sight on the screen.  She recommended a different medication, followed by the same one I had taken a couple days earlier. FINALLY, on September 7th the pregnancy passed.  It was more than an emotional day.  In fact, I thought I was done crying about it, but here I am crying as I type this.  For me, the mental pain was worse than the physical pain.

My period returned about a month later, and I could not have been more excited.  We could start trying again! However, we were once again told we had to wait. We had to wait for my HCG levels to bottom out before it was safe to start trying.  Weeks went by with many blood draws and my levels were dropping ever so slowly, until couple months later, I finally got that 0 I had been waiting for. We were given the all clear to start trying, and that is exactly what we did.

So here we are, 8 months after this journey began, still waiting for our bundle of joy.  Somehow I have stayed positive through most of this experience. I know our rainbow will come when the time is right, but I never imagined how hard waiting would be.  It was not the kind of waiting I thought we would experience. One thing that has never changed throughout this whole journey has been my belief that whatever happens, it will be WORTH THE WAIT!

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Finding Hope for the New Year

January 14, 2019

Written by Kateka Goodman, WTF Contributor

We all sacrifice for motherhood in different ways. For me, for a decade, my sacrifice was in using my money to pay for treatments; the sacrifice came when I put my body through hell with injections, hormones, treatments, miscarriages, weight gain, hair loss; I sacrificed my sanity, and my faith, for a while; I nearly sacrificed my marriage. Last year, when I stepped into my 3rd and final IVF egg retrieval (having already experienced two IVF miscarriages before this), I knew that I had to go into it, sacrificing next-to-everything because if it didn’t work, I hoped I’d be able to look back with no regrets. I called it the ALL HANDS ON DECK cycle. We threw every trick, test, and drug into the mix to make sure all our bases were covered.

And then I got pregnant. My numbers were low but they looked better than they ever had before. At my 6 week heartbeat ultrasound, I was told my baby had died. They did an immediate D&C. In that moment, it felt as though the world had swallowed me whole. I had no more embryos. I was no further to having a child than I was when I started this process 10 years before. If anything, all I was was an empty, but heavier, shell of what I used to be. I was bitter, cynical, judgmental, hopeless, numb, angry, stressed, and coping in unhealthy ways (binging on food and tv). I was unavailable to those I loved; my husband, my family and friends, and even, myself. Infertility had turned me into the worst version of myself. Watching your husband mourn the loss of his babies, something that you’ve failed to force into existence, has a way of extinguishing the light you have inside you. What was my purpose? How could I survive yet another failure? What good was I? How could I ever come to peace knowing I’d never pass on my own genetics?

I was purely and utterly lost.

One night, I talked to my mother and told her what a failure I was. She reassured me I wasn’t and told me I was so strong. I sighed and thought, ‘She has to say that.’

That night, while falling asleep, I recalled the conversation with my mom and my mind turned the tables. In my half-awake state, I was suddenly the mom, and my adult daughter was telling me she had her 3rd miscarriage after giving infertility the fight of her life. I could see her pain. I wanted to fix it. I wanted her to understand she was stronger than she understood. She fought every step of the way, even though she had fear riding on her shoulders the entire time. She was not a failure, she was a warrior. I wish she understood how loved she was. I wished she could love herself.

I wrote my strange half-awake dream down and described it to my husband the next day. He told me, if there were such things as angel babies (past or future), that they’d be proud of what we tried to do. In thinking of my angel babies, I had this yearning that they needed me to stop focusing on growing our family for some time, and instead give myself some much needed care; the same kind of care I’d give to any of my loved ones who needed help.

 

(Here I am a few weeks after my D&C in May of 2018, heavier than I’d ever been before)

 

In the spring of 2018, I made myself the priority. Not baby-making. Not scouring online forums and books for “fix-it’s” to my infertility. I worked on giving myself some serious, much-needed, self-care.

My self-care was focused around: getting therapy right away, feeding my body better, getting more exercising, resting when I needed it, finding healthy ways to cope with my emotions, and having some happy things to look forward to (not baby related).

  • In therapy I learned many life lessons, including the importance of self-validation. No one’s words will ever be enough if you don’t first validate from within.
  • I’ve done restriction diets in the past to lose weight or to try to improve fertility and it didn’t help in either way. My endometriosis had done so much damage that changing my diet now would do nothing to improve my already ruined eggs; also, taking away bread and sugar just leads me to binge (and gain more weight). Instead I focused on portion control. I eat a lot of healthy foods, but I still enjoy “bad” foods (in small portions) so that I never feel deprived.
  • When it came to exercise, I listened purely to my body. I started off with light, low-impact workouts, and with time, my stamina naturally improved. If my body was exhausted, I would take that queue and rest on those days. Other times, I was bursting with energy so I’d use that energy to give more to my workouts.
  • Instead of using food to cope with my feelings I paid attention to my body queues. If I needed to chat, I’d either journal or call a friend; if I felt angry, I’d take it out on my workout (making sure to add PUNCHING BAG to my workouts that day); If I was growing obsessive or feeling crazy, I’d work on a craft, puzzle, or meditation to try to distract myself; when I felt like crying, I allowed the rivers to flow, making sure to never stifle any of my feelings; when I needed perspective I would try to serve others.
  • My husband and I planned a trip to Kauai! We were excited for months leading up to our adventure and it really helped us live more presently, instead of in the past, or future. We had a wonderful time there and are anxiously looking forward to when we can travel again.
  • And! I lost 54 lbs. (I have to give my husband a shout out who has also worked on his health and is down 60 lbs right now too).

Allowing my body to purge of all the hormones, eat healthy foods, workout again, and find happiness in TODAY, did so much for my overall wellbeing.

Crazy enough, I feel closer to being the mother I’d like to be for my future children compared to where I was when I had my short pregnancy last spring.

This year, I have many resolutions I am working towards. My husband and I want to get more tests done before we figure out how to move forward next (donor egg, embryo adoption, foster care, or adoption), we need to continue saving money for whatever baby plan we choose, and I want to continue working on my overall health so that if/when babies come into the picture, I can be a mama they’re proud to call their own.

The thing is, whether you have completed the fight, are in the middle of the fight, are about to start the fight, or maybe are taking a break from the fight, we are all following our hearts and doing our best. You are strong. No matter where you are in your journey, make sure this year to take time for YOU. Give the same love that you’d give to your children, to yourself. From one warrior to another, I am wishing you a very happy, and successful, New Year.

With love,

Kateka

 

If you’d like to connect with Kateka, you can find her on Youtube, Instagram, Weight Loss Instagram, or Email!

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9 Infertility Resolutions for 2019

December 27, 2018

Written by Jessica Hansen, Guest Blogger

I rang in 2017 in my pajamas on my couch. I was recovering from a stomach bug that most of my in-laws had caught (but my husband had somehow avoided, naturally). Still, I was optimistic about the new year. Having tried to get pregnant for six months or so by then, I was confident 2018 would be our year.

I was right – and more so than I even thought. What I had thought was my lightest period ever actually wasn’t, and on December 31st of 2017, I was already pregnant. It would be a few more weeks until a growing hunch prompted me to take a test which would confirm it.

And then, just a couple of days later, I wasn’t. I was just under six weeks, but to say “just” or “only” minimizes my grief. I’ve learned since that we are entitled to our pain, no matter which unique circumstances we face. Still, that loss and infertility as a whole have left me wrestling with some ugly emotions I’m still sorting through.

And, 2018 would bring even more loss for us. As my husband lay his mother to rest in the summer – the second parent he’d lost in 18 months – I couldn’t help but grow angry at the injustice of it all. Weeks prior, my family had to say goodbye to the dog I’d had growing up. Certainly, these losses cannot be compared, but pain is still pain. And it’s been a painful year.

But resolutions can be about looking forward without necessarily “getting over” the past – because we all know infertility and loss aren’t simply gotten over. As I look ahead to 2019, infertility is indeed at the top of my mind. While I may be a bit more jaded than I was back in 2017, I try to look at this year as having made me perhaps a bit wiser – and a hell of a lot stronger. So, here it goes. These are my infertility resolutions for 2019.

  1. Become more vocal.

I mean this in a few different ways. For one, with my doctors and nurses. While I’ve been extremely pleased with my clinic so far and they’ve given me every opportunity to ask questions, I still find myself holding back in fear of sounding stupid or coming across too needy. Enough. I am putting too much on the line to be shy.

I also need to speak up with my husband. He is my biggest supporter, but sometimes I go into “shutdown” mode to avoid talking about the painful stuff. He knows this is when I need to talk most. I’ve always been comfortable sharing my emotions but infertility is a different beast; it’s created feelings and thoughts which I don’t even know how to process. I’m learning how to do my part in opening up, even if it comes out as a jumbled mess.

Finally, I’d like to become more open about infertility everywhere to continue building this conversation and bringing awareness to the challenges that one in eight couples face. My immediate network of friends and family has been outstanding in terms of offering support, but in my experience, many others who are unfamiliar with infertility tend to say the wrong things. I believe it’s because they don’t know what to say – which is because infertility isn’t discussed enough in our society.

  1. Try something new.

On a lighter note, cooking was my “thing” this year. I bought a few healthy cookbooks, learned how to use a pressure cooker, and even tried a couple of meal delivery subscriptions. Channeling my energy into creating something has been very cathartic for me, especially when it feels like the one thing I want to create so badly, I can’t.

What will my new thing be for 2019? I’m not sure yet, but I’m excited to find out. I know distraction isn’t always the healthiest way to handle challenges, but at the same time, I also believe having outlets for creativity and self-exploration are important through this process.

  1. Go on more dates.

Infertility takes up a lot of space in my marriage. We’re doing injections, going for ultrasounds and blood work, and planning for the “what ifs.” To think that I’ll look back on the first few years of my married life and associate it with such stress and heartache is upsetting. In 2019, I’d like to work on creating happy memories and actually dating my husband again. I know it’s unrealistic to think we can be completely carefree, but I do believe there’s room for the pain of not having the family we want yet to coexist alongside joy, love, and lighthearted moments.

  1. Take a vacation.

We’ve taken a couple of vacations while TTC, but all have been slightly marred by the emotional roller coaster of infertility. If a babymoon isn’t in the cards for us, I’d like to plan a trip for a time when we might actually take a break from trying – and purchase trip insurance. You know, just in case.

  1. Take on a realistic workload.

Speaking of breaks, I need to know when to take them at home, too. I’m a freelancer and don’t get vacation days or PTO. On the one hand, this makes me extremely fortunate because I can build my schedule around appointments. On the other hand, I tend to punish myself by playing catch-up until I’m working into wee hours of the night. I realize that this is unhealthy and I’m working on building boundaries into my schedule for 2019.

  1. Unplug occasionally.

Social media is both a blessing and a curse. I have found a few support networks that I absolutely adore, which is the reason I started an Instagram to chronicle my own infertility experiences. At the same time, social media is also a place where you’ll find unexpected baby announcements that knock the wind out of you. And, our community has its share of heartache, too. I absolutely love hearing about the successes of other infertile couples, but I also feel the pain behind their bad news, perhaps too acutely at times. I think taking mini-breaks can be refreshing. Plus, there’s comfort in knowing this wonderful network of strong women will always be here when I’m ready to come back.

  1. Control my self-criticism.

This is something I struggle with daily. It’s bad enough to have the flood of thoughts and feelings that come with infertility: sadness, frustration, anger, jealousy, and impatience. But what’s even worse than these thoughts themselves is the way I judge myself for having them.

I think to myself, I should be more optimistic. Then I counter that by telling myself I shouldn’t get my hopes up. I also feel immense guilt, because my life isn’t bad – by any means. I’m fortunate in more ways than I can count.

But at this point, I’ve become exhausted with judging myself for my own thoughts, and characterizing them as “good” or “bad.” For 2019, I’m going to try this meditative practice instead:

I will not judge my thoughts and feelings. Instead, I will simply let them pass, like cars on a highway.

  1. Nourish my body.

I don’t eat poorly, but there’s definitely room for improvement. Instead of eating a granola bar for breakfast because it’s quick and easy, I’d like to set aside time for three whole meals a day. Some weeks I’m good about this and meal-prep in advance; others, not so much. I’m aiming for consistency in 2019. While I know my diet isn’t the cause for not getting pregnant, I do want to give my body everything it needs to support my someday baby.

Likewise, I’ve put running longish distances on hold for now, and will continue to do so for 2019. Again, I’m not saying running 10+ miles has anything to do with infertility. I’ve always hydrated and listened to my body, and I know there are plenty of endurance athletes who have given birth to healthy babies. But this year, I’m approaching fitness in a way that rewards my body instead of feeling like punishment. Activities like long walks and yoga are good for not just my physical state, but my mental health, too.

  1. Connect with a real-life infertile friend.

As I said before, I have an incredible support network of family and friends, as well as online groups. But I also know how desperately I’m craving a real, human connection with someone who’s been through (or is going through) this.

I wouldn’t wish infertility on anyone in the world. But, going through it with someone else might make it a little less painful. I’d love to have an infertile friend to meet up with over coffee, to laugh (and probably cry) with, to cheer on, and to just talk about all of the absurdities of infertility.

Here’s to hoping we’ll both be drinking decaf.

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Dear Family and Friends, Part 3

December 17, 2018

Written by Heather, Guest Blogger

Part three in our 3 part series! These journal entries share the ups and downs of the roller coaster that is trying to have a baby when you’re walking the path of infertility. If you are also walking that path, may you be encouraged and know you are not alone.

December 22

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

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

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

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

Moving right along…

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

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

– What significant events or experiences have shaped your personality?

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

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

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

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

– Have you ever physically/sexually abused a child?

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

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

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

XOXO

A & H

February 20

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

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

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

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

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

Love,  Allen and Heather

March 28

I hope you had a wonderful Easter holiday!

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

Four findings:

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

Allen and Heather

April 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pray for our patience and faith.

Much Love,

Allen and Heather

May 9

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

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

Much love,

Allen and Heather

June 2

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

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

Baby boy is due in FIVE DAYS.

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

July 13

Good Morning Family & Friends,

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

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

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

We are thankful that the month of June is over!

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

Heather and Allen

November 22

Can I be honest?

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

I know we are waiting on His time.

I know that He has a plan for us.

I know that I am not in control.

I know that I need to be patient.

I know….

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

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

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

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

Dec 12

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

Dec 18

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

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

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

Jeremiah 29:11

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The Big Ugly I Word

December 14, 2018

Written by Ginny Helmer, Guest Blogger

Infertility.

I never thought I would see my name and the big, ugly “I” word in the same sentence. While my struggle has not been as long or as extensive as others, it has been quite the hardship for my husband and I. The past 13 months have been some of the hardest of my life. Infertility is so lonely and painful, and as a woman, most of us feel that childbearing is our purpose. When we can’t fulfill that purpose, we tend to feel like we have no real purpose…like you’re less of a woman because you can’t (which, by the way, is so not true).

When Ben and I decided to start trying to have a baby in November 2017, we had only been married about 6 months, but we knew we wanted kids ASAP. We are in summer camp ministry…we love kids!

By other’s standards, we weren’t “ready”, we weren’t “mature enough”, we “didn’t have our lives together yet” and we “shouldn’t be trying.” So, we kept it to ourselves. And we tried…and we expected it to take a little while.

Three different times in the past 13 months, I had a massive bleeding episode (with decent sized clots) with sudden and sharp pains in my lower back and uterus. Each of those times, we had decided to wait a little longer before taking a pregnancy test, so I wasn’t certain I was pregnant, but I was about 10 days late each time it happened. My OBGYN believes it was either a miscarriage or chemical pregnancy, but we don’t have those answers.

Fast forward to now. It’s been 13 months of TTC, and we have yet to see a positive pregnancy test, and we have yet to figure out what is causing our infertility at its core. It’s been quite the journey.

As we move forward into 2019, I admit, it is hard to have hope. It is hard to be happy for those who are announcing their holiday babies. It is hard to be happy for the ladies who are starting 2019 with a baby in their womb. It hurts me to think that I really, really thought I would either be pregnant right now or already have a baby, in a perfect world. 2019 holds more doctor’s appointments, procedures, treatments, and the unknown.

Resolutions were never quite my thing, but I do think that it is a great idea to set goals for yourself, especially when you’re struggling with something like this. I have a few Bible verses that have really been a comfort to me throughout this time, and which have helped me decide what I want my New Year’s Resolutions to be:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Cor. 3-4

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that He cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” Ecc. 3:11

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32:27

My first resolution is that I will give my fertility to God. I have tried to do that since the beginning, but I know that it is in my nature to try and take it back and fix it. I have put my faith in places it shouldn’t be: the doctors, my husband, myself, etc. The truth is, no one but our Creator Himself can make it so. In Him, I will find my peace, my comfort, my solace, my strength, and my joy (even in the hard seasons). That does not mean that He won’t choose to use people in my life to provide those things as well, but ultimately, it will all come from Him.

My second resolution will be that I want to use my struggles with fertility to help others. 1 in 8 women struggle with infertility. Some for just over a year (like myself), and some for much longer. No matter the length of their struggle, we all need a girlfriend(s) to be honest with. I know, in my personal experience, it can be SO HARD to talk openly about infertility. The first (and only) time I talked of it, I was bashed and not believed. Not a lot of people out there understand the hardship that it is, so we need to help those who struggle with this. Whatever that looks like, I want to be a vessel of God’s use. I strongly believe that part of the reason He gives us trials so that we can minister to others down the road.

And lastly, my third resolution is to enjoy the time I have without children. Yes, I know how crazy that can sound! But, this will be the only time that Ben and I will have as just the two of us (plus our two dogs). Once we are blessed with kids, we can’t go back to this time. I don’t want to get so lost in the fertility struggle that I forget to cherish time with my precious (and dang handsome) man. As much as we can’t wait for the time that we become parents, I want to be intentional about spending quality time with Ben in 2019 (and now!).

Maybe 2019 will be the year I grow a baby inside me. Maybe 2019 is the year we officially enter the foster/adoption realm. Maybe 2019 will be the year we get answers as to why we are struggling to conceive. Maybe 2019 is the year we are just content to be a childless family for a little while longer. I don’t know that the future holds, but I know who holds the future.

If you’d like to connect, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Find me on Instagram and Facebook

I would love to get to know you more and answer any questions you might have! 🙂

 

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His Faithfulness and Goodness

December 11, 2018

Written by Emily Williams, Guest Blogger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dear Family and Friends, Part 2

November 26, 2018

Written by Heather, Guest Blogger

Part two in our 3 part series! These journal entries share the ups and downs of the roller coaster that is trying to have a baby when you’re walking the path of infertility. If you are also walking that path, may you be encouraged and know you are not alone.

June 25

We are not pregnant. Thank you for your prayers.

Allen & Heather

Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

July 17

Hello Family and Friends,

Allen and I felt like we needed to update everyone on where we are on this journey.

This past month has been very emotional and challenging for us. The last time we “talked” we found out that our “one” frozen embryo transfer did not work. We just knew this transfer was going to be the “one” –the one to give us our miracle baby. We were shocked and sadden by the news.

We are angry, confused, hurt, and devastated. Yet, somehow we are still trying to remain hopeful and faithful. We have now been trying to start a family for 868 days, yep, that’s what I said… 868 days! It is hard for people to understand what we are going through. Most people just decide, “Hey, let’s have a baby!” and within 10-12 months they have a sweet baby to love.  We are trying hard not to let this consume us, but that is very difficult. Everyday we are somehow reminded that we aren’t yet parents.

And we can’t help but ask ourselves….

Where is He? Doesn’t He hear our prayers?

Why we aren’t good enough?

Why can they have kids and not us?

Did we do something wrong in our past life?

Why do people who abuse and neglect their kids get to have them and we can’t?

Why do we have to go through the emotional, physical, mental, and financial stress?

When will it be our turn?

Are we being punished?

So where does that leave us now?

On June 26, the day after we found out our FET didn’t work; we received a call from Dr. K. We again were told the same thing we heard after our failed fresh transfer, “Everything seems right and we don’t know why you aren’t getting pregnant.”

Dr. K recommended that we try another round of IVF. So, Allen and I made the decision to start the entire process over again. I wanted to get started immediately so that I could do the egg retrieval during the summer, when I’m not stressed out. Dr. K did put us on a little different protocol, upping my doses for some medicines. We will not transfer any embryos after the retrieval like we did in March. We will freeze everything that we get. More studies are now showing that Frozen Transfers are more successful because your body is not so stimulated from the meds taken for the egg retrieval. Allen and I plan to schedule our frozen transfer in October, during my Fall Break.

We went in yesterday for my baseline ultrasound and everything is on track. Meds started today. Allen gets to be a scientist again and mix my meds every morning. I am injecting the needle into my belly morning and night. These aren’t as bad as the hip muscle shots that Allen had to give me for our FET. If all continues on schedule, we will be doing the egg retrieval within the next 10 days or so. That is when I go under anesthesia and they retrieve as many good eggs as they can.

Prayer Request:

  1. That Allen and I can continue to remain hopeful.
  2. That my body continues to cooperate.
  3. That I produce lots of beautiful and big follicles during the egg retrieval.

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers during this emotional journey.

Much Love,

Allen and Heather

Romans 12:12

July 26

Our Egg Retrieval Day!

Specific prayer request:

  1. That the Doctors retrieve lots of healthy eggs.
  2. That those eggs become embryos.
  3. That those embryos grow for several days, get good grades, and are frozen.

Thank you for your prayers,

Allen and Heather

 

July 28

Yesterday’s egg retrieval went fine. Thank you for your prayers and sweet emails, texts, and calls.

The Doctor was able to get eight eggs. And we received a call yesterday afternoon that all eight had matured….which was amazing news!

But as the roller coaster of infertility goes, our call today wasn’t as good. We only have four eggs that fertilized, meaning they are now embryos. Of course, we wanted all eight to fertilize, but we are thankful for these strong four. The embryologist will continue to watch them daily. We pray they divide as they should and that all four of them make it to Day 5 to be frozen!

***Please pray for our embryos***

Thank you,

Allen & Heather

 

August 4

Hello Family and Friends,

Just a recap and update on our egg retrieval from last week–
8 eggs were retrieved
8 matured
4 fertilized, becoming embryos
and
1 made it and is now frozen. It was a Day 5, grade A. (Perfect)

Of course Allen and I wanted 5 or 6 to freeze but we are thankful for our one perfect embryo. Several women go through an egg retrieval and have nothing to freeze.

We plan to transfer during the first of October, over my Fall Break.

Thank you for your constant love and support! This is the hardest thing either one of us have ever experienced. I have learned through this 2 1/2 year journey, that Allen and I can do anything together. We are stronger and closer than most couples because of what we have endured. And no matter what God’s plan is for us, I know He definitely blessed me with the most loving, caring and devoted man out there!

Much Love,
Heather & Allen

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

October 1

Another bump in our road…a BIG bump!

Our transfer has been postponed indefinitely. Over the past several months my body has not had a menstrual cycle. Dr K wants to do the transfer when my body starts cooperating. While this is heartbreaking and frustrating we understand this and want to make sure everything is absolutely perfect for our “last chance embryo.” We will not be doing another IVF retrieval.I have called to request an appointment with him and the earliest we can get in is Dec 2– just another set back for us. It is incredibly difficult for us to remain hopeful or patient with the constant challenges we are faced with.

During our meeting with Dr. K we plan to discuss other options. We are considering using a surrogate. Here we have a perfect embryo but as we know, my body isn’t functioning properly. Not to mention that my body hasn’t accepted the last three good embryos that we have transferred. If you know of someone that feels a calling to be a surrogate please let me know. I would want it to be someone who gets pregnant easily and has carried her babies to term. They will have to go through a psychiatric evaluation, take pills and injections, complete the embryo transfer, and remain on bed rest for three days in a stress free environment. And of course, it would be at the expense of Allen and me. We will have an attorney help with the legal matter.

We are also looking into the adoption process. We have attended a conference and I have had dinner with a friend who has adopted. We aren’t ready to put our name on a list, but we are in the “research” stage.

You have no idea what all goes into surrogacy and adoption. If adoption is God’s plan for us, I’m great with that…but WOW it’s an intense process.

Please continue to pray for our patience while waiting to see what God’s plan is for us.

Much Love,

Heather & Allen

 

November 8

Overwhelmed… That would be the best word to describe how Allen and I are feeling right now. We have been doing lots of research recently as we pursue both surrogacy and adoption.

I have talked with the foremost Tennessee surrogacy attorney in Nashville. She said that finding a surrogate is the most challenging part. With that being said; I have personally “interviewed” a potential surrogate, talked on the phone with another surrogate, met with a girl using a surrogate, and met with another girl due with twins via surrogate next month.

We also met with an adoption attorney. He provided us with valuable information confirming that we will pursue independent (private) adoption rather than using an adoption agency. Independent adoptions can save time, racial preference, less expensive and the possibility of knowing someone who knows the birth mother. His best piece of advice for us is to put the word out there letting people know that we are interested in adopting a baby. Most people get connected to someone by “word of mouth.”

A home study is required for all adoptions. The adoption process is quite grueling. Part (but not all!) of the process includes attending a introduction meeting, a couple interview, personal interviews, 40 page questionnaire, background check, home inspection, references, financial disclosures, compiling a personal portfolio, etc.  Overwhelmed is all I can say!

So you ask how can YOU help us? You can pray for us as we continue our journey for a family. And you can mention to friends, Church, business associates, social media, etc. that you have a friend/couple looking to adopt a baby. (please don’t identify us on social media) Word of mouth is what we need. Thank you!

Allen and Heather

 

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Baby Brother On Deck

November 19, 2018

Written by Kate Starrett, Guest Blogger

 

It was summer of 2015 when my husband and I decided it was time to start a family. We had both had stable jobs, we had paid off our school debt, and had just bought a house with 4 bedrooms that I imagined filling with babies. The timing was just right, in my mind. We actually became pregnant quickly. Only 3-4 months after throwing out the last of my birth control. I was a little surprised but not really… we had planned for this so why wouldn’t it happen easily? Even though we lost that sweet baby to miscarriage at 8 weeks, I wasn’t concerned about conceiving again because surely it would happen quickly like the first time. Except it didn’t.

 

Months went by… and I started to get worried. I bought ovulation tests and found that I wasn’t ovulating most months and I began trying all the supplements, teas, and diet changes I could think of to try and get my hormones rebalanced. Nothing worked. After some episodes of abdominal pain in August of 2016, an ultrasound showed I had a tennis ball size endometrioma on my ovary! This was surgically removed, and surgery confirmed my doctor’s suspicion of endometriosis. The cyst returned 3 months later requiring a second operation. We started trying Clomid and Ovidrel injections to get my ovulation back on track.

 

During the months between surgery, we also began researching adoption agencies. We had talked early on in our marriage about adoption and knew we wanted to at some point, so why not now? We found an agency for domestic infant adoption that we loved in Indianapolis and after four months of background checks, home studies, and paperwork, we were active and expectant mothers would start to be shown our bio. At this point we focused less on my ovulation and conceiving, and were fully committed to adopting. And then, three months later (much sooner than we could have ever hoped), we got the call that we had been chosen! Mama A was 20 weeks along with a baby boy. We were at Wrigley Field, sadly watching our beloved Cubs lose to the Brewers, when they all came and our lives changed forever, turning that day into one of my most favorite days. 

 

 

From the time of our miscarriage in 2015, to being matched with Mama A in summer of 2017, we weathered many other storms. While struggling with infertility, I had to process three of my sisters-in-law announcing pregnancy (some of them twice in that time period!), as well as my father battling lymphoma (and he’s now in remission!), AND my husband’s brain surgery to remove a benign, but dangerously large mass that was discovered just after we finished our adoption paperwork.

Don’t worry, it gets crazier. 

 

Throughout the rest of Mama A’s pregnancy we got to meet her a few times and build a relationship with her. We loved each other immediately. The months flew by. With baby due mid-November, our agency gave the okay to my husband to go on a business trip to Ireland near the end of October. Surely he’ll be back in time right? Do babies come early that often? I bet you can guess what happened. Baby came right in the middle of his trip! I was finally on my way to work the morning of October 25 (after locking myself out of my house at 6am and walking to our neighbors house barefoot and in a robe while it’s 30 degrees out and calling a locksmith to let me back in) when I got a text saying baby was here and I needed to head north with a hospital bag and car seat! I called my husband in a panic who still couldn’t get home for 2 more days, and then my mom who was able to come along and stay in the hospital with me.

 

 

I felt sick while at the hospital. I was nervous, my husband wasn’t with me, and of course Mama A could still make the choice to parent her son.. so I still had to wait until she relinquished her rights. She did, and she and I bonded over those two days. I’ll never forget that time we shared. We took our son, Ian, home where he met his daddy the next day. As it turns out, I still felt sick. No appetite at all. Completely exhausted. Still nerves? Major life adjustment bringing home a newborn? Probably some of that. But also because I was 5 weeks pregnant. We were shocked! We just brought home this baby and we’re already going to have another one?! Baby was due June 2018. They would be 8 months apart. 

Well, Ian was the most chill baby ever, which was a huge blessing to his pregnant mom. And my pregnancy was extremely uneventful (not even morning sickness!) which was a huge blessing when you have a newborn to take care of.  Wes joined our family in June of 2018. Our two miracle boys. 

 

God has allowed many trials in our lives. But He has lavished goodness on us as well. I don’t look back on the last 3 years fondly. I’m certain I’ve shed more tears in the last 3 years than in my entire life. In the last 3 years we struggled to be thankful sometimes. We were angry sometimes. We didn’t trust sometimes. But we still knew God is good. Not good in that He grants our every last wish. This world is broken… people hurt, children get sick, disasters happen. But when things get hard, God has grace for these moments. When it seemed to painful for us to bear one more burden, His grace carried it for us. There is no way we could have handled it on our own. To God be the glory!

 

“For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.” – Psalm 86:5

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