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What About God?

February 8, 2018

Written by Courtnee East, guest blogger

The deep desire to be a mother has always been deep rooted within me.

As an adoptee, I always wanted to give and provide the nourishment of love to my children through a biological connection I didn’t know growing up. Not born from my mother’s womb, but within her heart has granted me the understanding of selfless love. At a young age, I felt a sense of disconnect from the life I was born into, not understanding why or how I could be just “given away.” Although my parents choose “Open Adoption” , my birth parents were not a constant part of my life. And as a child, I watched my brother and sister’s biological families become a huge part of theirs. My brothers adoption was even aired on the 1990 Special of Adoptions on 48 hours. However, I felt abandoned, not good enough and alone. This developed into issues of detachment, always pushing those away from me. I was never able to cultivate healthy relationships with people in my life.

At the age of 19, I found myself pregnant with my son — alone, scared, and unsure of what life held for me and my baby. I decided that the only way to hold onto my family was to place my child up for adoption. A decision I was very unsure about, but was told it was the best choice I could make, the most selfless choice. With his due date fast approaching, I traveled from Arizona to California to choose an adoptive family for an open adoption.

Fast forward to October 29, 2006, after a very easy labor and delivery, I was holding my son Ayden, with tears rolling down my face. I knew in my heart, I couldn’t let go. I was unable to go through with the adoption, and had to let this beautiful family know. I was selfishly holding on because I couldn’t let my son go through the story of my own life. I chose my son. I chose the hard road. I chose to have people look at me as a teenage mother, who was uneducated and unaware of what it took to be a mother, but honestly, I knew what it was going to take. The one thing I never truly felt due to my own misunderstandings. Love. I had so much love for my son, that I would do anything and everything for him, so I marched on with my head held high. So when the next best thing came around, I attached myself — getting pregnant at 23, in a failed relationship.

2010 is where this story really starts. In May, I was implanted with Mirena, the IUD birth control used to prevent pregnancy. The day it was inserted was the day of our county fair. Just having a baby and breast feeding, I found myself going to the bathroom more than usual, and even had to stop on the way to the fair to use the bathroom on the side of the road. A week later at my follow up appointment, I was told the Mirena had fallen out, so I opted for the NUVA Ring. Between May and December, I had made 2 trips to the emergency room, with excruciating stomach pains, and turned away both times, looked at as though I was seeking medication.

The 3rd time, I told the ER doctor I wasn’t leaving until I knew what was wrong. After blood work and X-rays, it was found that the Mirena had migrated and implanted into my opentum (my stomach lining) requiring emergency surgery for removal. At the time of surgery, my tubes were tied with silicone Filshie Clips. (HELLO! I HAVE SILICONE ALLERGIES!!)

After this I was devastated, I felt scared, and alone, and lost. How could this be? How could I be left without the ability to have children at my own free will, what happens if I get married…..

As years pass, the stomach pain persisted so it was decided that the silicone clips should be removed. I felt if it wasn’t natural and of GOD, then get it out, and the only way my insurance would pay for it was for a exploratory pin surgery. During which, my left tube was cauterized, burned in half with the attempt to be reattached while my right tube was open, functioning as the doctors said. After this trying time, I turned my life over to Christ. With so many questions, the answer I always heard when I asked “Why?” was “The desires of your heart will always be met.”

I emerged deeper into my faith, where doubt turned to hope. My strength was renewed by the Lord. I felt a purpose again — a need to evangelize and to share my story. As I humbly waited on the Lord, the pieces of my life began to fall into place. I met my husband, who didn’t come alone, but with two amazingly perfect children, as did I. We were “Yours & Mine” in real life. Quickly as our love grew we were pregnant, and I mean QUICKLY, I believed he sneezed and conception was done. Out of fear and excitement, we didn’t share the news, and chose to wait until we hit our 2nd trimester.

Sadly, we didn’t make it that far. In May 2017, I was about 11 weeks pregnant to the day when my 30th birthday hit, and on that day, 30 years after I was adopted in love, I started bleeding. Bleeding badly. I knew in my heart that I was being emptied of not only all the faith I had, but of the child I so longed for to have with my husband. What a way to mark my 30th year on earth. My husband and I love and adore our children, and together desire a deeper connection of life together to share in the birth of our own. Month after month, we continue to try. Day after day, we try. Sometimes I feel like a receptacle for my husband, laying on my back, legs held high. Diet changed, month after month, new vitamin after new vitamin no success. My “tubes” tested. Everything seems in order. So we try Fertile Aide. Nothing but excruciating headaches.

So where does one turn next. I am 30, I am healthy and active. But what now?

“Fertility treatments” I tell my husband, that’s our answer! “But what about God? What about God’s promises? God’s word? What do you hear every day in your readings? What about your faith?” This is what my husband tells me to remember. So we pray. Before we invest in monies needed to acquire for the procedures, the time, the gas the missed days at work, we pray. We realized we aren’t alone.

I don’t answer to people, “ LIFE SUCKS! Where has God gone? I’m over worked, emotionally exhausted, and feel like a failure as a wife and human being unable to give my husband a baby.” Instead, I answer, “Life is great. God is good and I am blessed.” I may be gritting my teeth, but I know I am blessed. I have four beautiful kids, a husband who loves and adores me and has patience with the desires of our heart. I am blessed.

So I ask myself every time I feel down and every time I break down, What about GOD, Courtnee? That’s when I look up and realize, really what has he really said. Family isn’t about blood, this I know from my own life. Family is love, support, commitment, and understanding. Family is God. Family is togetherness no matter what and you know you aren’t alone.

I pray for every couple struggling and every woman feeling you are not enough, you are more than enough. Miracles do happen, I know this because I look at myself in the mirror and have realized I am that miracle God created me to be in my life.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

How Infertility Changed My Marriage

January 25, 2018

Written by Nicole Briand, guest blogger

I read a statistic that near 80% of marriages end up in divorce after the loss of a child. I don’t know if this is true or not, but I wouldn’t be surprised. This whole process—infertility, miscarriage, and child loss, is a tough road to travel.

Growing up I had this idea of what life would be like. You get married, buy a house, pop a few kids out, etc.
When I look back at that naivety, I laugh.

After dating for a few years, my husband and I got married after a short engagement in a intimate October wedding. We closed on our first home just a few weeks after the wedding. So far so good, right?

I went off birth control a few months prior to the wedding because we knew we wanted to start a family right away. My husband is 10 years older than me so that was definitely a factor. But more so, I just felt this strong desire that I was meant to be a mom.

After not getting pregnant the first couple months, I became obsessed with trying to conceive. I was charting my cycles, taking my temperature, peeing on every type of stick I could get my hands on, and examining every bodily fluid with a fine tooth comb. As I’m sure most people in this community know, when you are determined to get pregnant, sex can become very not sexy. At least that’s how I felt. It became so transactional. “I’m ovulating so we have to do it X number of times in X number of days.” And afterwards I needed to lay with my legs in the air (as if that actually makes a difference.) Talk about taking the magic out of the honeymoon phase. The more time elapsed that we weren’t getting pregnant, the worse my anxiety got. I became obsessed and desperate to have a baby.

As we started fertility treatments, things only got worse. My husband would often say things like “ I want my wife back.” And he was right. I had become a monster with one goal in mind-a baby. After learning that our fertility issues were my own, I became angry and insecure. I was so angry at my body for letting me down and I took a lot of that anger out on him. In hindsight, I wouldn’t have blamed him if he threw in the towel right there. The man is a saint. I don’t give him nearly enough credit.


Even when I finally got pregnant with our twin boys, my anxiety never let up. Having such a difficult time conceiving and miscarrying just a few months earlier, I had a very difficult time allowing myself to enjoy the pregnancy. I lived in constant fear that something bad would happen. I began to socially isolate myself because I just wanted to stay home and protect my babies. This was especially difficult for my husband because he is, by nature, a very social person.

When we learned that one of our boys, William, passed away, just a few weeks shy of our delivery, our world was rocked. In the moments following when the doctor said the words, “I’m so incredibly sorry, but there is no heartbeat,” I remember thinking about how thankful I was that my husband was by my side. I just wanted him to hold me, which was something I hadn’t wanted in a very long time.

The coming weeks were the most difficult of my life. It was little things like hearing my husband sobbing in the shower, that broke my heart in a way that I can’t even begin to describe. However, as difficult of a road as it was to get to that point, I began to realize that he wanted to start a family just as much as I did.

In grief counseling, we talked often about how men and women grieve the loss of a child differently. And I can imagine that it is very similar in how we deal with the struggle of TTC and infertility. I would often get angry with my husband and accuse him of not caring—about starting a family, about miscarrying, about losing our son, because he wasn’t grieving in the same way I was. But what I have come to realize is that we just express these feelings differently.

This whole journey has changed me. It’s changed my husband. And it has changed our marriage. Some days are good and some are really damn tough. But I’ve learned to hold my husband closer, instead of pushing him away. In an unlucky situation, I have been very lucky to have him by my side.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Modern Fertility: Exploring Your Fertility

January 4, 2018

What if you could take a preliminary fertility test for a fraction of the cost? We got to chat with Modern Fertility founders, Afton Vechery and Carly Leahy about the test and how it is helping to pave the way for women to take charge of their fertility, whether they are actively trying for a babe or preparing for the future!

1.Tell us about yourselves? How and why did you come up with the test?

Afton & Carly: (A&C): We started Modern Fertility because we heard a lot of buzz (and panic) about fertility—but we had no idea how it applied to us. You could say the company was ‘born’ from Afton’s experience with traditional fertility testing. She wasn’t ready to have kids anytime soon, so when she learned about simple blood tests that were better predictors of fertility than just age, she decided to do the testing. She found a fertility clinic (there less than 500 in the US), went in to take the tests, and was amazed by what she learned about her reproductive timeline. Finally, real data! She appreciated how powerful this information could be for her–yet the numbers in her results were confusing. Then, she got a bill in the mail for $1500. There had to be a better way. And here we are!

2.The Modern Fertility testing almost sounds too good to be true. How does it work?

A&C: We take the same tests offered in top fertility clinics and bring them to women earlier in life. We designed Modern Fertility so you could get all of the latest and greatest scientific research about fertility without poring through papers – we do that for you! We’ve spent thousands of hours working with the top Reproductive Endocrinologists (RE), OB/GYNS, endocrinologists, and primary care doctors–they’ve reviewed every report–and helped us distill the latest clinical research, national guidelines, and clinic information into easy-to-understand reports. We’re working to create a world where instead of “waiting and seeing,” you can better understand your fertile years and plan accordingly.

To get an idea of how it all works, you can view a demo of the test here!

3. What exactly are you testing for?

A&C: We test between 1 and 9 hormones, depending on your birth control. These hormones map to ovarian reserve (a fancy way of saying “how many eggs you have”), ovulation (the process of releasing an egg), and general body functions that have implications for fertility. We test these hormones through a blood test. Currently we have the option for women to swing by a local Quest Diagnostics for their blood test. Soon, we’ll also have the option for women to take the test at home, with a simple finger-prick test.

4.Can Modern Fertility help women who are struggling with infertility?

A&C: Modern Fertility tests are exclusively intended to be used for wellness monitoring and are not intended to diagnose and treat disease or substitute for any physician’s consultation. If you’re actively trying to have children, we recommend consulting with your doctor on the best treatment plan. We provide an easy way for you to download your Modern Fertility raw results to share with your doctor.

5. What other kind of women will benefit from Modern Fertility?

A&C: We started Modern Fertility for women who are not yet ready for kids, but who want information about what’s going on in their bodies today. We have a way to track almost everything in our lives–steps, cholesterol, bank statements and family trees. Something as formative as fertility shouldn’t be a mystery. Women deserve to have this powerful information–and should be able to track it over time in an easy, affordable way.

6. Where do we purchase a test and how much does it cost?

A&C: You can purchase your test today at https://modernfertility.com/. The test currently costs $159.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

A Different Sort of Resolution

January 1, 2018

Written By: Erin Zemba, Guest Blogger

New Year’s Resolutions are not something I usually set, since it can be so hard to stick to them. I don’t want to let myself down, so why set a goal I won’t achieve? Well, this year, 2018, is different! I have set a resolution to be as healthy as I can in preparation for IVF. I want a BMI under 30 before I start my first cycle.

So why is this year any different? This year, resolutions will be a lot easier to stick to because I will have more than myself to let down if I don’t stick to it. This year, there is much more at stake.

By far, 2017 was not my favorite year. Aside from normal challenges, like car repairs and settling into my career, I also had my second, third, and fourth unsuccessful pregnancies. The first had been at the end of 2016 — after nearly a decade of contraception, almost as soon as we stopped preventing pregnancy, we saw those wonderful two lines! We were scared but excited. Unfortunately, that first pregnancy turned out to be an ectopic. I was followed closely, and it resolved on its own. At the same time, we also found out I have a Unicornuate Uterus and only one connecting fallopian tube. Once I felt recovered, we began trying again in 2017. Soon after we were pregnant again, but the risk of another ectopic made us nervous. The second pregnancy mirrored the first, and with that we had our second loss.. The odds were increasingly against us. While pregnancy losses are incredibly common, multiple subsequent losses decrease the chances of a successful birth.

But hey, third time’s a charm, right? Nope. That time brought a biochemical pregnancy that briefly got our hopes up with a positive pregnancy test, but was over as swiftly as it started. Finally, to cap off 2017, I was pregnant for the fourth time in just thirteen short months. This one seemed right. My hCG was doubling. I had no pain, and for the first time, no spotting! But of course, with my history, my RE wanted an early ultrasound. We awaited it anxiously with cautious optimism, and at 6 weeks, there was nothing to see in my uterus.

Instead, a faint heartbeat flickered in my only fallopian tube. We were whisked away straight to surgery where my only tube and the pregnancy were removed. Although it was sudden, we had also, in a way, spent the year preparing ourselves. Each pregnancy loss had made us a little surer of what we were facing. In a way, it was a relief that it was no longer a suspicion. The surgery had made it concrete: as of November 2017, we can no longer get pregnant naturally. Fortunately, though, we still have a shot through IVF with the help of an awesome team of doctors, nurses, and scientists. So in our case, it’s going to take a village to make a baby.

Here is where my 2018 resolution comes in. By staying true to my resolution, I am on track to have a BMI under 30 by February, and the plan is to start my first IVF cycle as soon as I reach that goal. I am currently at a BMI of 31.5, so reaching 30 corresponds to losing eight pounds over the next two months. With hard work and devotion, I will achieve that goal. Why did I chose 30 as the magic number? It has a lot to do with what my physician has recommended. She explained how the chances of a successful IVF cycle increase with each point off of the BMI. Furthermore, there is extensive research on the success outcomes of IVF with a healthy weight. In fact, one 2015 study states that:

Higher BMI is also associated with negative outcomes for patients undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF). In a study of 233 IVF cycles, a BMI consistent with being overweight (BMI 25–29.9 kg/m2) or obese (BMI???30 kg/m2) was associated with a lower pregnancy rate (23 % and 22 %, respectively) compared with women of a BMI of 20–22.4 kg/m2 (pregnancy rate- 42 %). Similarly, a BMI of???25 kg/m2 has a lower rate of blastocyst formation compared to women with a BMI of <25 kg/m2 (54.9 versus 43.9 %, p?<?0.007).

We are about to invest significantly into this new adventure of IVF — both financially and emotionally — and I want to do what I can to make the odds of success as high as they can be. We hope for the best possible outcomes and I want my resolution  to set us up for success. That’s why this year’s resolution means so much more.

Here’s my plan to make sure I achieve my resolution and with the support of my physician and my family, I am on my way:

  • My physician and I discussed changes to implement at one of my appointments. I am not using any specific diet plan. I plan to achieve this goal by eating healthy, controlling portion size, eliminating consumption of many processed foods, eliminating alcohol, and adding in moderate restorative exercise. I have been using My Fitness Pal to keep track of my calories. I love the feature at the end of the day where it tells me “if everyday were like today, in five weeks, you’d weigh ____.” It is very motivating and inspires my willpower.  
  • I’m getting moderate exercise through walking for 30 to 60 minutes daily, and our dog, Paisley, absolutely loves this! I am also doing yoga. I have found I really enjoy it and feel regenerated afterwards. I have become a fan of “Yoga with Adriene” which is free on YouTube and I recommend her videos. I have decided on walking and yoga since extreme exercise to the point of exhaustion is actually is associated with poorer IVF outcomes.
  • Finally, we have all but eliminated alcohol consumption, since consuming fewer than four units of alcohol a week is also associated with better IVF outcomes.

So, there you have it. It’s one thing to know that these things are healthier for you, but it’s another thing altogether to hear it in the context of IVF. These small lifestyle changes can have an enormous impact on the likelihood of success with IVF, and that can be an incredible motivator. And the benefits are enough for me to schedule my IVF timeline around. All these healthy steps are an important part of reaching my overall fertility goal for 2018. To have a successful pregnancy is a pretty strong motivator!

Cheers (with sparkling water) to a healthy and happy 2018.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Surviving The Holidays With Infertility

December 14, 2017

Written by Katie O’Rourke, guest blogger

I have a lot of titles in my life and I look forward to the day when I can add “mom” to the following list. My name is Katie and I am a wife, dog mom, daughter, cousin, sister, auntie, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law, friend, and speech pathologist from the Dairy state. My husband and I have been on this insane journey to add to our family for 27 months. I have been through a few holiday seasons with infertility hanging over my head so I wanted to share with you a few tips and tricks for not losing your sh** in front of your loved ones while focusing on your current family and looking forward to the future.

1. SEND THE HOLIDAY CARD

I used to look at holiday cards and think how perfect other people’s families were and that my family wouldn’t be perfect until we had children. But I have more recently learned to appreciate my current family of 3 (yes, including my dog) and know in my heart that someday I will look back and wish I was more grateful for my little tribe. We have made an effort to have our family pictures taken each year and put them into an adorable holiday card for our friends and families to hang proudly on their refrigerators. Send the card. Your family is worth sharing with those you love!

2. START TRADITIONS

Traditions you pass on to your future children start with you and your hubby anyway so why not get a jump start?! Pick out that tree together, hand make ornaments, or watch cheesy Christmas movies for a whole day in your footie PJs. Document the experiences and put them in a book to show your kiddos some day. DO SOMETHING SPECIAL that you and your hubby enjoy and know your future children will love as well!

3. PLAN A DAY OR LITTLE GETAWAY FOR YOU AND HUBBY

Whether it’s a day trip or an AirBnB kind of trip, book it. You and your hubs are going to need some down time after the insanity of the holidays. Take some time to unwind and do something with your little family. Bring the cat or the dog with you. TAKE PICS to document your fun! You will want to show your kids some day 🙂

4. LOOK HOT!

Sometimes I think I will only look complete and beautiful with a baby in my arms. This is another lie I made up in my head! Get your hair did, shellac those nails, buy the new dress, wear heels, meditate, workout, polish that beautiful, very expensive diamond you have from your love; MAKE YOURSELF FEEL BEAUTIFUL! Because you ARE…baby or not.

5. FUN-AUNTIE

Spoil those kiddos in your life. Be the FUNTIE (fun-auntie). Buy them each a little something they will love. It will fill that void of toy shopping for kids around the holidays and you get to see their smiles light up because you thought of them.

6. SPOIL YOUR PET

Every year, I put up a stocking for my fur baby, Tucker. My husband and I go shopping for him and pick out a toy and a treat for him to have on Christmas. It is fun to watch him get so excited about his gifts. Again, document this time. You will want to look back on this and see how much your holidays change year to year.

7. YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF THE CONVERSATION!

This my most important tip for the holidays. If you have been open about your journey thus far, you will have family and friends that ask you about it. Presume good intentions, ALWAYS. They are asking because they care about you and want to be there for you. This mindset will help you keep your cool in times of stress. Answer their questions how you want to. Short answers to avoid follow up questions are okay, if you do it with a smile and a positive spirit. If you want to indulge in the details with someone, that is okay, too. YOU ARE IN CONTROL. If you have been more reserved about your journey, you might have people asking you “when are you going to have kids?” or something along those lines. Again, presume good intentions. They want to see you procreate. That’s a compliment 🙂 Answer how you want. YOU ARE IN CONTROL. “Oh, we are waiting until after our trip.” or “We are working on it!”. Paint a picture you want people to see. Again, you are in control of the conversation!

8. Finally, REFLECT.

You and your hubby (pets too) are a beautiful family unit that have a lot to be thankful for. The fact that you have each other to lean on during the hard times and to celebrate with in good times, is a blessing in itself. Take time to write a list of things you are thankful for or take pictures of those things and make a collage. Hang it up to remind yourself every day of how lucky you are. That is what this time of year is all about. Celebrate your life and look forward to the future!

 

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

4 Reasons To Switch To #FertilityFriendly Body Care

December 12, 2017

Written by Chiemi Rajamahendran, Miss.Conception Coach Founder

When it comes to fertility, what you put on your body is just as important as what you put inside it. Choosing toxin-free skin care that’s safe is critical to ensure you maximize your chances of the healthiest pregnancy possible.

Here are four life changing reasons it’s important, more than ever, to be conscious of what you’re putting on your skin when trying to conceive, especially while experiencing infertility issues. Toxic-free ingredients ensure you’re not exposing yourself to hormone-disrupting chemicals through skin care.

1. We absorb over 60% of the ingredients we put on our skin.
Our skin is the largest organ in our body, and it’s permeable. This means that when we apply something to our skin, it doesn’t just sit on the surface. Rather, it penetrates through the skin and into the blood, where any toxins present in the products can contribute to hormone disruption, lowered immunity, allergies/intolerance’s and toxin overload.

2. Your baby is absorbing what you put on your skin.
If our bodies are absorbing what we put on our skin, it makes sense that our babies are also taking it in. Studies show toxic chemicals are routinely found in the umbilical cords of babies, and when researchers screened for more than 400 chemicals, 287 toxins were detected within the umbilical cord blood of newborns. Of these 287 toxins, 217 were neurotoxins and 208 are known to damage growth development or cause birth defects. The toxins included BPAs and synthetic fragrances found in skin care, cosmetics and personal care products.

3. Toxins in skin care may contribute to infertility.
One of the key ingredients commonly found in skin care products are perfluorinated chemicals, better known as PFC’s. Contact with PFCs has been attributed to causing a variety of infertility issues. Women with higher-than-normal levels of PFC’s have a 60-154% higher risk of infertility than those who have normal levels. PFC’s can also affect male fertility by decreasing the volume, overall health and motility of sperm.

4. Chemicals found in skin care are endocrine disruptor’s.
One of the main reasons toxins in skin care affect fertility is that they mimic natural hormones, creating endocrine disruption and hormonal imbalance. Many of these toxins are termed xenoestrogens as they have the ability to bind to our estrogen receptor sites, disrupting the function of the endocrine system.

Here is a relaxing way to boost your fertility health naturally:

 

Want to nourish your skin with toxic-free skin care? You can win a Renew Body Wash bundle from Bloom Essentials Fertility Body Care + Wellness! To enter, LIKE/FOLLOW Bloom Essentials on Facebook AND Instagram, then tag a friend. Good luck babes!

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Conquering The Unknown

December 7, 2017

Written by Vanessa Tully, guest blogger

As a child of just 6 years old, you clearly don’t comprehend the enormity of having one ovary and fallopian tube removed due to gangrene until twelve years later when you’re 18 and it’s happening yet again. Over the last 15 years, I’ve had a lot of time to ask the “whys”, I’ve been angry and sad, and I have learned how to deal with the menopause (those darn hot flashes!). But nothing worried me more than how I’d tell my future husband that I couldn’t make him the father that I knew he deserved to be quite as easily as others. Luckily, this man has never faltered from my side. Even when the sadness and anxiety kick in, he’s always there to remind me that I’m not completely alone in this journey.

Choosing a donor was probably the hardest thing for us at first. We joined 8 different agency websites to maximize our options and to say that it was strange, is a huge understatement. We spent days that turned into weeks trying to find someone who resembled me, had the same blood type etc., and when it became too much, we had to step away for a bit.

Eventually, the search became easier and after a couple of months, we found and even met our donor! We wanted to thank her for the selfless gift she was bestowing us with and we left that meeting with a great sense of peace, one that we hadn’t felt in a long time. She told us “We are all in this together and we all want the same outcome” and we knew we had made the right choice.

During this process, I’ve gone through feeling so low that shopping for baby shower gifts caused anxiety attacks in the middle of a store and watching Huggies commercials made me break out into tears. But I have also felt excitement during our donor’s retrieval and optimism after our embryos went through genetic testing. I’ve gone through bouts of feeling alone because no one really understands these ups and downs unless they’re in “it”.

All in all, it’s the fear of the unknown that scares my husband and me the most. We have no control over how this story ends (or begins). Yet here we are, 6 days away from our transfer date with embryo #4. We still have so much hope that we will be parents one day, whichever direction this path chooses to take us.

 

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Praying For What Will Be

December 5, 2017

Written by Mary James, guest blogger

My husband, Brandon and I have been together for twelve years, married for 2 of those years. On the first day we met, at ages 18 and 19, we knew we loved each other. We always promised to make each other happy and worked hard to get to this wonderful chapter in our lives. Our plan was to graduate college, get married, buy a house, and then have babies. So far, we have accomplished everything on our list, but are still waiting on the babies.

Last August, I found out I was pregnant. We were so very excited and couldn’t wait to share the news with our family! We had a big family dinner and announced the great news! It was a beautiful moment where everyone cried and hugged! But, the excitement would soon fade.

Weeks later at a doctor’s appointment, blood work had shown my HCG levels were not where they needed to be. A week after that, my levels had declined significantly. My doctor sat down with me and suggested I prepare myself for a “spontaneous abortion”.

I was devastated.

I didn’t know how to tell my husband or my family. On the drive home from the doctor’s office, all I could think about was everyone else. How was my mother going to take it? What about my poor husband? And my sister? I did not take the time to think about myself and process my emotions. I felt like I failed and could not figure out what I did wrong to deserve this. I was so excited to begin this journey of motherhood, and suddenly, it was all gone.

As a nurse, it is our nature to care for others, often forgetting that sometimes we need to be taken care of, too. The next step for me was to get healthy and focus on self-care. I completely changed my diet, lost weight, switched from night shift to day shift, exercised, and started practicing yoga. By making the decision is take care of me, I began to notice the difference in my mind and body and felt great!

Today, Brandon and I are happy and healthy. We have a supportive family and a tremendous love between the both of us. We often pray for a child and wonder where we will be the day we find out we are pregnant. We wonder who our child will look like? who will he or she act like? What will he or she be when they grow up? We can only pray that this child will come when the time is right and know deep in our hearts that one day we will be parents. So for now, we just pray… and consider this time in our life a journey.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Choosing Happiness During Infertility

November 30, 2017

Written by Leah Scriver, guest blogger

“So do you have any kids?” That dreaded question that ALWAYS comes up when you meet new people. Do I go ahead and tell them that my husband and I have been trying for the past 9 years but I have PCOS and have done everything under the moon to try and get pregnant with no luck? Or do I just tell them “maybe someday”? I am an open book and tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve, so I usually tell my story.

It may sound like my story is a depressing one and for a long time, it was. However, a huge epiphany changed that.

Growing up, I never saw myself as a mother. I never played with dolls or played the role of “Mommy” when playing House. I always wanted to fall in love, get married, and of course kids will come….right?

In October 2004, I married my first husband. We tried for one year with no medical help at all. When I wasn’t getting pregnant, we decide it was time to see the fertility specialists at Kaiser. First, we tried Clomid and while I was responding well to it, nothing was happening. As we were about to start the class for injections, our marriage took a nose dive, ending in divorce in 2006.

In 2008. I met THE ONE. He was, and still is, the man of my dreams. We met and got married in 3 months. Hey!…when you know, you know! We’ve been married now for 9 years. About a year into our marriage, we started trying to get pregnant. I just knew that God would bless me this time around because I had married the right man… a man who loves me unconditionally, loves God, his family, and life. And after 3 months of trying, I was pregnant! I cannot tell you how crazy excited I was when I saw those two pink lines show up. I really couldn’t believe it. Felt like a dream. Around 7 weeks along, I started spotting and knew it wasn’t good. The bleeding got heavier and cramps began. My husband and I went to the ER and it was there that I lost the baby. We were so incredibly sad.

As soon as my cycles were normal again, we started trying, but a normal cycle was few and far between. My periods were very absent. At the time, my husband was in the Army and received orders to be deployed to Afghanistan for 9 months. He came home safe and sound and we started trying again. But again, my periods were not normal. When the hubs was honorably discharged from the Army, we moved back to our hometown in Roseville, CA and I decided to go through Kaiser’s fertility clinic again. They diagnosed me with PCOS. We tried everything except IVF and nothing had worked. At this point, I was beyond desperate. Not only that, but I also started to feel like I was being punished. I felt like this so much, that I actually called up everyone I have ever wronged and apologized and hoped that they would forgive me. I asked God to forgive me for not seeing myself as a mother in my childhood and young adult years. Sounds so crazy, but that’s where my mind was at that time.

So, after my husband and I realized that our only option would be IVF, we took the plunge. I’m just glad I don’t have a fear of needles at all, because let me tell you, there is SO much needle sticking! So I gave myself all the injections and the day came for my retrieval. They were able to retrieve many healthy eggs which made me super excited and hopeful. After the eggs were fertilized, we only had 4 that were healthy enough to transfer. Trying to pin point the date of the transfer was very stressful for me because I am a photographer and had a wedding to shoot the day they wanted to transfer. There’s no way I could find a photographer to fill in for me, no way at all. Thankfully, we were able to make it work and two days before the wedding, two embryos were transferred. The other two which weren’t as healthy stayed in the cup so they could keep an eye on them.

Now the awful 2 week wait began. I tried so hard not to read into any symptoms I was having but, as we know, that’s nearly impossible. After the 2 week wait, I got the phone call and the embryos didn’t attach and the other two that they were watching died. I was devastated. We had spent SO MUCH MONEY and now we have no baby and no frozen embryos. And forget about the money, what about my sanity? That’s when my bitterness and anger towards God and the world began. I was angry. SO ANGRY. I put on a front like I was fine and I accepted the cards I had been dealt, but under the surface I was hurting. I stopped going to church, didn’t feel the need to pray at all, and was irritated by every little thing that didn’t go my way. For two years, I was in this horrible bitter state. Finally, about 6 months ago I came to a fork in the road. I realized I could either continue down this path where I’m super unhappy or I can go down the other path of choosing to be happy. I chose happiness and it was like a weight was lifted from my shoulders.

So here I am 36 years old, married to the love of my life, no kids, a dog, and as happy as can be. But remember that epiphany I was talking about? Here it is… this realization has COMPLETELY changed my thinking about my struggle with infertility. I was on the phone with a girlfriend who is pregnant with a baby girl. They just found out that her baby has down syndrome. She was very distraught, sad and scared over this news. I told her that it’s probably natural to have those feelings, but she also needs to know that that baby girl is going to be crazy loved. She is going to bring so much joy to their lives and be such a blessing to them. She then proceeded to tell me that she’s grateful for my trial. At first I didn’t understand and was wondering if I should be offended. She said that she thinks of me often when she’s having a meltdown from her 3 other children and that my trial helps her have more gratitude for her little ones. When she told me this it was like a light came on in a dark room and I could see. If my trial of infertility can help and bless others, then I am happy to go through it. I am happy and grateful that my trial can bless others. If this is my mission while I am here on the earth, then I am happy to do it. With this realization, my life has become so much more simple and filled with so much more gratitude. We all have our trials and some are harder than others. But one thing that I think isn’t thought about much at all is how our hardships can bless others.

So I may not ever have children, or maybe we’ll adopt, or maybe we will or won’t do IVF again. The important thing is that I remain happy. Come what may, I choose to be happy and I hope my story touches and help others who are struggling with infertility.

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

FertileGirl: Empowering Women Through Conversation and Nutrition

November 28, 2017

What The Fertility had the opportunity to interview Allison Kasirer, founder of FertileGirl, a pre-pregnancy nutrition company. We love the mission she is on to empower women by changing the conversation around fertility and focusing on creating and keeping our bodies healthy. (Psst…be sure to read all the way through to get a coupon code for 15% off the FertileGirl superfood nutrition bars)!

1. Thank you so much for taking time to talk to us about FertileGirl! Let’s start at the very beginning: what inspired you to start FertileGirl?

Allison Kasirer (AK): FertileGirl was truly born out my own personal fertility journey. I did a big lifestyle overhaul when trying to get pregnant—including focusing more on my nutrition. I noticed the conventional packaged food I was eating did not have the ideal pre-pregnancy nutrition that I was looking for. So I started making my own snacks at home and bringing them with me to my doctor appointments. I also noticed that there was no consumer brand out there that spoke to the TTC woman in a way that I needed at the time. After some time, I realized I could merge these two concepts into what would become FertileGirl.

2. Tell us about the FertileGirl Superfood Nutrition Bars. What led you to create these bars? What goodness goes into them?

AK: I found that taking control of my nutrition was extremely empowering when going through something that felt very much out of my control. The bars were my attempt at packing the important pre-pregnancy nutrients into a convenient on-the-go snack. I tried to use clean, simple, and real food ingredients in order to get more plant-based protein, omega 3s, iron, and calcium in my diet. When I realized that I wanted to make these into a real product, I gathered input from our advisory board of doctors and nutritionists, and set out to create a “proof-of-concept.” FertileGirl’s superfood nutrition bars are actually very similar to the ones I made for myself, except the ingredients get ground up more finely by large scale machines.

3. We love how FertileGirl encourages women to talk about the F word: fertility. Why is it so important to make conversations about fertility less taboo?

AK: We feel very passionately about changing the fertility conversation. It’s imperative that we work toward making this topic less isolating, stressful, and confusing and more hopeful, rewarding, and empowering. When I started sharing my story with other women, my whole journey changed. I finally had the support that I needed to get to the other side. It also opened my eyes to how common fertility challenges are! When something is stigmatized, it is that much harder to build community. If we can break the stigma and embrace the F word, we’re much more likely to find and give that support to one another.

4. Since starting FertileGirl, how have you seen the conversation around fertility evolve?

AK: It’s been almost a year since we launched the social platforms for FertileGirl. It seems over the past year, we’ve had more celebrities and influencers talking about their own fertility journeys. Because of their wide reach, those statements have a huge impact on breaking the stigma. I’ve also been surprised by how many women reach out to us with questions around fertility. There doesn’t seem to be a good resource out there with accurate, approachable information. We hope to continue to provide informative content written by experts through our social feeds and blog, “Real Talk.”

5. Not only do you create amazing nutrition bars and provide a place of support for those on their fertility journeys, but you “put your money where your mouth is” by giving back a portion of your proceeds to Baby Quest Foundation. Can you tell us a little bit about this partnership?

AK: I met Pam Hirsch, the founder of Baby Quest Foundation, many months before we even had a product. It was also before I found out I was pregnant with twins. She has created an incredible organization that has helped bring over 50 babies into the world. I’ve personally met with some of the Baby Quest recipients and met some of the Baby Quest babies. We try to be as hands on as possible in addition to supporting them financially.

6. What advice do you have for women who are looking struggling with their fertility? Aside from FertileGirl, what other resources would you recommend?

AK: Mother yourself. I realized on my personal journey that I wouldn’t be able to mother a future child until I mothered myself. Self-care is just as important before and after pregnancy as it is when you’re pregnant and growing another human being. It’s hard to recommend specific resources since each person’s journey is unique. Also, different women have different reactions to those resources. For example, some women love acupuncture and find that it reduces stress during the process. Other women find it stressful! Some women want to change out every beauty product and household product to organic. Other women find that process stressful and unnecessary. We provide a lot of these different resources on our social feeds and blog; however, I think it’s important to do what’s right for you and “mother yourself” in whatever forms that takes.

Want to try the FertileGirl nutrition bars for yourself? Use the code WHATTHEFERTILITY at check out to receive 15% off your order! Head on over to the FertileGirl shop here.

What The Fertility

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