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Faith in Endometriosis

October 16, 2017

Written by Cassaundra Escandon, guest blogger

Hi There, My name is Cassaundra, I am 27 years old, married to an amazing man for almost two years, I am a follower of Christ, LOVER of coffee, and spend my days supporting individuals with developmental disabilities and mental health.

As I am sure for a lot of you endo warriors who experienced or are currently experiencing this process- It was tiring, relentless, and painful. In 2011 I had an ectopic pregnancy that was removed (tube and ovaries stayed put at that time). Fast-forward to 2015- my life was not going as planned. As any woman struggling with endometriosis I was in pain beyond functioning daily. I had exhausted all of my resources (GI specialist, upper scope, colonoscopy, family doctor, blood work, ultrasounds, ER visits ect). With all the tests, prodding and poking the only conclusion I got was “there is nothing wrong”. Well, as all you ladies know far to well- I MOST CERTAINLY knew something was definitely not right. I am not going to lie- at this point I was feeling pretty crazy! Mind you, I had always had horrendous periods since the age of 9. That is how it had always been, making it the “norm” for me. This reoccurring pain that I had gotten over many years of my life off and on, had now become 24/7. The pain that I experience other than awful periods where I am in bed for days on high doses on Tordol and Muscle Relaxants is pain along the left side all in to my bowels. The pain is debilitating and no amount of medication takes it away. I have to lie on my left side (as in apply pressure), ride it out and standing intensifies it largely. I was at a loss. I was becoming not well enough to work or function at all in society on a day-to-day basis.

After speaking to my best friend’s mother (whose previous situation seemed to resemble my current) I went to my family doctor and had a referral put in to a gynaecologist. Fast-forward and I got the appointment, went in with my long list of avenues I had already exhausted (colonoscopy, endoscopy, blood work, ultrasounds ect.) and all the results. By the grace of God the doctor didn’t believe it could be endometriosis but agreed to go in and have a look (basically to quiet me up). At this point I was more than ready. I could not continue on living, working, planning a wedding (9 months away), enjoy being newly engaged, or being 25 this way. My surgery date was set for a month, so I waited. I prayed. I felt crazy -“what if there is nothing wrong inside? will this pain ever go away? am I going crazy? is this from all those years I was anorexic? what will people think if there is still nothing medically wrong?” and on my brain spun. The Holy Spirit just kept bringing me back to a place of peace, trust, love, and strength.


My surgery day came and I was terrified. I came out not knowing much until my follow-up appointment two weeks later. I found out I was not crazy, I did in fact have stage 4 endometriosis, adhesions, and a ton of ovarian cysts (one the size of an orange). I had a lot of cysts off and on over the years leading up to this point as well. My ovaries, intestines, and tubes where all stuck together by webs of scar tissue. I began taking continuous birth control for the next 8 months (until the wedding). We were told to consider freezing eggs, chances may not be on our side and that we needed to start trying soon. This was a hard pill to swallow. Both Sean and I have always wanted kids, the devil would try to fill my mind with “you need to start trying now, you’ll never have kids, what if you miss your opportunity”. Sean and I remained focus on Jesus, his will, and trusting that if it is God’s will for us to have a child, it will happen on God’s time. Trying for a child before marriage was not a part of God’s plan for us. Sean and I both knew that and God filled us with faith, strength, hope, patience, and love. God put focusing on preparing for a Christ centered marriage on the priority list, and a child to come.

I was feeling a lot of pain relief from the surgery other than awful periods. I had some days of flaring pain (but not 24/7). Slowly the pain started coming back and within two years the pain was so unbearable that I had to take a sick leave from work for three months until my surgery date arrived. I could not work, sleep, eat, or cope. My surgery date came February 23rd of this year. My fertility specialist went in cleaned up all the endo, adhesions, and removed my right tube (where I had the ectopic in 2011). The pain has most definitely been decreased. PRAISE GOD!! I also strictly follow the endometriosis diet and have been for a while. It’s my life saver. Truly that’s how I keep my pain at bay most of the time. I have made sure to really be strict since this last surgery. One night I was not very strict (a few ciders, and sugar icing) …Let’s just say it took me a week to recover. I find the most relief and can manage my symptoms with being gluten free, dairy free, refine sugar, and soy free. I eat chicken and fish, but not pork, beef or lamb.

I pray for each and every one of you warriors battling this relentless monster ENDO. I write to help myself clear my mind, identify thoughts, feelings and to hopefully be helpful to others going through similar situations. Know that no matter where you are on this journey, that you are not alone and that all of us ENDO SISTERS have each others back. If fighting infertility you also are not alone and what brings me comfort on the darkest and most painful days is that Jesus would never put such a strong desire in our hearts and not fill it. That is a promise and fact. Now the other side of the coin is- Jesus is in control, it is Gods timing, and we must wait. Wait for God to reveal his plan. I know one thing and that is I will be a mom. I don’t know when, or how. I don’t know if Baby E will grow in my belly, or someone else’s. But I do know I will hold Baby E one day.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

The Other F Word

October 5, 2017

Written by Jessie Bradshaw, guest blogger

Fertility Fertility Fertility…. At first this word scared me and consumed my life. I was embarrassed and I didn’t feel comfortable talking about it. All I could think was, why me? However, as time went on I realized I found comfort in sharing my story with people. I was tired of walking around with this secret. This was something real going on with my husband and me and I needed all the support I could get.

My husband and I just celebrated our two year wedding anniversary and these last two years have been one wild roller coaster ride. When I married Chad I gained a bonus child, Caleb. Man did I hit the jack pot with him. He is amazing. After watching Chad with Caleb I knew I couldn’t find a better man to raise a family with.

At first we started the whole not trying not to get pregnant. At about 6 months into this I started charting and doing ovulation predictor test. However, with no luck we were still not pregnant. Once the one year mark hit, it was time to seek help. I reached out to my OBGYN and they started me on clomid. Clomid affects everyone differently, for me it wasn’t so good. It makes me short-tempered, gives me headaches and hot sweats. It has gotten worse the more I take. During this time we did 3 rounds of Clomid and 1 round of Femara. I was reaching a point I felt like a number and not a priority at my doctor’s office. It wasn’t until a friend who had a similar situation and I got to talking. He told me if I was serious about having a baby I should see a specialist. I wasn’t even sure we could afford a fertility specialist. I heard it was expensive and insurance wouldn’t cover it. I felt selfish for wanting this. This could be money we could be saving for Caleb to go to college or take a nice family vacation. I went home that night and talked to Chad and he was on board. I was lucky to have married someone who wanted to have children with me and willing to do whatever it takes. I went ahead and made an appointment with our new doctor.

During these months I’m not going to lie, life was hard. I had many people ask if we’re going to have kids. At first we would tell people we would someday. I didn’t have the nerve to tell them we had been trying and I couldn’t get pregnant. I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me and I was embarrassed. It didn’t help every time I logged on to Facebook someone else was announcing they were pregnant. It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy for friends but I was sad for myself.

Our first appointment was in December and it was intense to say the least. That day they ran tests and went over our whole medical history. Our doctor told us our next step would be surgery. He had us schedule it before we left and I ended up having surgery in February. Over all it went well and wasn’t as bad as I expected. Once I woke up from surgery we found out I had a lot of scar tissue built up on my tubes and ovaries. We are still unsure to why I had scar tissue. My doctor said I could have had an infection when I was younger and was not aware of it. The doctor was able to clear one tube but the other was irrepairable. After I was recovered from surgery we started back on Clomid. The last 5 months we did 5 rounds of Clomid and added the HCG shot and had 2 failed IUI. The disappointment grew each month.Each month hit hard. Not only were we dealing with the Clomid crazies but also stress of marriage and fertility problems. During this time I felt like hardly anyone understood what I was going through. I felt like my world was ending and people just wanted to say nice things like it will work out, its timing, just relax, maybe you should stop trying so hard. When really all I wanted to hear was I know this sucks and it’s not fair. Most people would jump right into what about IVF or adoption. Both of these are definitely options for us. However, when you always dreamed of carrying your own child and the thought you may never get to experience, you don’t say, “Well you can always adopt.” We’re up for IVF. However, we can’t afford it right now. My doctor explains it best that IVF is like buying a brand new truck. The difference when buy a truck you get to drive it off the lot and IVF you aren’t even guaranteed a baby.

Chad and I finally reached a point that we weren’t going to let fertility run our life. We were tired of scheduling our life around our child who wasn’t even here yet. We try and focus our life on the things we can control. Suddenly life got easier for us. We still have our days of sadness and bitterness but this is the life we live and we can’t be sad all the time.

It’s been 5 months since surgery I really thought I would have been pregnant by now. It was finally time my doctor wanted to go back in and perform the HSG test to see if my tube was still open. We found out that both of my tubes were open. I think my doctor was just as surprised as I was. We decided to take a month off from meds. Which Chad was very excited about. He even thanked the doctor.

Here we are now 2 years since we started this whole journey and we’re still praying for our unborn child. I’m not sure what having a baby is going to look like for us or when it’s going to happen. However, I do believe with everything in my heart we will have a child come into our life and be a part of our family one day. We just need a little faith and whole lot of Jesus.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Hope In Waiting

September 26, 2017

Written by Danielle Sedler, Guest Blogger

We’ve been waiting…and trying…and waiting some more. We are coming up on 5 years of trying to get pregnant. Three surgeries, 4 rounds of fertility drug assistance, and 2 rounds of IVF. We’re still waiting.
Throughout these infertile years, the only thing that has helped me through, is hope.
Hope in God to fulfill my yearning to be a mother.
Hope in God to heal my endometriosis.
Hope in God to fill my womb with a miracle baby.
I was pretty ashamed at first, to open up about the fact that we were struggling to conceive. But the moment I shared our struggle, it was so freeing and people have rallied around us in prayer. So many people have shared their own hope stories. And have held our arms up when we just haven’t had the strength.

My husband and I have been together since I was 15 and he was 17. When we first started dating, I had a large cyst on my ovary that had to be removed surgically. That was the beginning of this journey and I didn’t even know it. After we were married in 2010, we waited almost 3 years to start trying to conceive as we were both finishing college.
In April, we had our FET and transferred genetically perfect boy and girl embryos. My heart was guarded this time as our first one failed, hope was my driving force. A week later we got the call that I was pregnant. Every ounce of my body let out the biggest sigh of relief and excitement. This was it, we were finally going to be parents. I had terrible headaches at 1:00 pm every day, sore boobs, exhaustion like I never knew existed…but I loved every single second of it. And that pregnancy glow thing is real y’all, I totally had it.
Two weeks later we went in for our second HCG test to make sure my levels were rising. Sadly, my doctor got on the phone and told me he was sorry that my levels had dropped drastically and I was going to miscarry. I was numb and angry. I begged God to save our babies. I could not accept the news and told my doctor I was staying on my medications and I wanted to come in for an ultrasound to confirm there were no heartbeats. We went in and there was nothing. It is what science calls a Chemical Pregnancy, which I hate the term. I stopped my medications and 5 days later I miscarried.
The hole in my heart from our first failed IVF, just got larger. My dream happened, and then was all of a sudden gone. Why? How? I needed an answer. And this is where I will tell anyone going through fertility treatments, be your own advocate.
Don’t settle for having the same medication and IVF protocol as the gal next to you. Don’t settle with the “I’m sorry, let me know when you are ready to do the next embryo transfer”. Tell the doctor what you want and do your research.
We are going into this next embryo transfer taking charge of our journey and making sure certain tests are done. I’ve asked my doctor to be aggressive. I researched tests that should be done after recurring failed IVF’s and/or miscarriages. I recently had my natural killer cells tested to make sure I did not carry cells that would attack a pregnancy. Thankful that came back negative. Soon I will be having a thrombophilia panel done to make sure I do not have a blood clotting disorder. And after our next embryo transfer, I will have my progesterone levels monitored VERY closely to make sure they do not drop. We learned that progesterone levels are not checked with HCG levels at our fertility clinic.
Be your own advocate. Take charge of your fertility and what you want. Work alongside your doctor to ensure he isn’t missing something. It is a team effort and it is your money and your family you want to create. Even if all of the tests come back negative and all of my levels are normal, it is making this journey a little clearer knowing I am doing everything I can. It would be terrible to always have the “what if” factor alongside this already emotional roller coaster called infertility.
We’ve also started the process of becoming certified foster parents, in hopes of adopting through the foster system! More on that later.
So we continue to hope. Hope in carrying a biological child. Hope that God may already have a child out there for us through the foster system. Hope.
“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” – Hebrews 11:1

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Think Before You Clean

September 20, 2017

Photo: Glamour.com

When I was trying to get pregnant, my body was a TEMPLE. I didn’t drink, ate all of my veggies, got my 8 hours of sleep and didn’t clean the house. Just kidding. Kinda. Researchers have found a link between organophosphate flame retardants (PFRs because that’s a mouthful) and a decreased success rate in IVF patients. Unfortunately PFRs are’t just found in cleaning products. Check out this article and learn more about what exactly PFRs are and how to avoid them other than just not cleaning your toilet. Photo: simplehomemaking.net

And check this out if you’re interested in information about how to clean up your cleaning products (who knew baking soda wore so many hats?).

Babe In My Heart, Blogs, Uncategorized

Hedgehog Healing

September 19, 2017

Written by Nicola Salmon, guest blogger
As I was sat across from my doctor the most unexpected words came out of her mouth, “You’ll never be able to have children.” At 16, I just thought that my irregular periods were down to growing up but after three years and several different investigations, I was given the diagnosis of PCOS (a metabolic and hormonal disorder), given the contraceptive pill and sent on my way.

It’s funny where life takes you, after suffering from PTSD later in life, I had acupuncture and it turned my life. I decided to study acupuncture as it intrigued me so much and as I was studying I learnt about lots of different ways I could look after my body. Not just with medicine, but with food, movement and other natural remedies. Throughout that journey I made tiny shifts and tweaks to my lifestyle, which over time improved my health and menstrual cycles.

My 3 lifestyle tweaks

I switched away from drinking tap water after I found out that it contains small amounts of oestrogen. With my hormones as imbalanced as they were, I decided to help it out by trying to reduce external sources.

This also led me to choosing organic grass fed meat and dairy when I could afford it as cheap cattle and other animals are pumped full of antibiotics and growth hormones which again affect hormones in our bodies.

The third biggest shift I made was reintroducing fat in my diet. I was absolutely shocked to discover that fats are the building blocks of hormones. Being on a low fat diet since I was about 13, it was no wonder that my body struggled to create the right amounts of each hormone. Healthy fats such as dairy, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado and nuts are such a great was to eat healthy and tasty food.

My story has a happy ending.

We had no troubles conceiving our 2 boys despite my constant worry and fear that having children would be so difficult for us.

In the end it was those tiny tweaks and shifts that helped my body heal. It wasn’t a complete diet overhaul. I didn’t suddenly start running marathons.

The problem is that these tweaks won’t work for everyone. We all have unique bodies, environments, histories and mindsets which means that you need to find your own tweaks to your optimal health. Sounds really hard right?

I promise it is really simple. All you have to do is listen.

Your body has all the information. Every sign and symptom is a sign post to tell you where to look. You can start right away by grabbing a pen and paper. Write down:

  • your sleep (when, how much, what was the quality)
  •  your food and drink (no calories counting! What you ate, when you ate and how you feel)
  • your energy throughout the day
  • your mood throughout the day
  • your movement throughout the day
  • where you are in your cycle right now
  • anything else your body is telling you (aches, pains, dizziness, dry skin etc)

Then the fun begins. Over time you’ll start to notice patterns. You’ll notice how your sleep affects your mood, or if you have a coffee after 3 you’re wired til midnight. Maybe you’ll notice that you get bloated 3 hours after eating bread or that when you don’t drink enough water your eyes get sore.

Really get curious about how your body works and you’ll be amazed by what you find. Then you can experiment. Start trying to do things a little different and notice how your body responds.

If you want a quick guide to get started with fertility journaling, you can download my free 7 day nurture fertility journal here.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

To Donor Sperm, Not To Donor Sperm. That Is The Question.

August 31, 2017

Written by Becca Lang, guest blogger

My husband Mike and I met in medic school in 2010. We sat on opposite sides of the classroom, were never placed together in a group scenario and had limited interactions. I was one of three women in a classroom of 25. It wasn’t until almost two years later that we ended up doing our internship for the same ambulance company. I was excited to be working with a familiar face, we finally spent time together outside of the classroom and it was then that our relationship began to grow. We were great friends who would eventually fall in love. I remember we would leave little notes of encouragement for each other in the back of the ambulance for the other person to find at the start of their shift. He was one of the smartest people I knew, his compassion and drive to help others and serve his community was what I loved about him the most. It was after the completion of our internship that we started dating. We spent almost every day together that summer and it was one I will never forget.

Mike and I got married in February of 2015, it was that August that we decided to start trying to grow our family. I always knew I wanted to be a mother and I was excited to think now was the time to make that happen. As a young woman, I had struggled with reproductive issues for years. I was officially diagnosed with endometriosis at the age of 19 after battling my own body for what had seemed like forever. I would frequently develop ovarian cysts, some would pass of their own but others had to be laparoscopically removed. It was at my third and final surgery that my doctor said my left ovary was not functioning properly and was doing more harm than good. They would eventually remove it at the age of 22.
Fast forward to 2016, it had been 7 months of trying and nothing had happened yet. Mike and I decided to make an appointment with my OBGYN but were told we needed to wait until at least a year before we could be seen. Five more months had past, I had spent month after month getting my hopes up every time I would take a test only to ever see one line. Every month came the same emotional rollercoaster. Grief, sadness, blame and confusion as to why this wasn’t happening for us. I was stuck in a state of frustration with my own body. “Just relax”, “It will happen when you stop thinking about it”, “stop trying so hard” were some of the things we would hear repeatedly. A year had past, and we were finally seen by a specialist for our fertility trouble.


One test. A simple semen analysis was all it took to finally get the answer we had spent the last year trying to figure out. I had spent all this time blaming myself and battling my own body just to be told that Mike most likely had some sort of block seeing his count came back at zero. We were referred to a fertility specialist and had an appointment booked within just a few weeks. Unexplained severe male factor infertility was the diagnosis we were given. The staff at our clinic was amazing. Both Mike and I felt like we were finally in the right place. They were welcoming, compassionate and sympathetic to the frustrating year we just had. A plan was put into place at our very first appointment and that is where our journey to parenthood began.
Donor sperm or no donor sperm? Such a fun topic of conversation, am I right? To get that answer Mike would have to undergo a procedure called TESE (Testicular epididymal sperm extraction) I may be biased, but he handled it like a champ. Twenty-four pokes later we left the clinic and patiently waited for our results. Out of the 24 areas they extracted from, 22 had viable sperm. We knew that although we had a long road of IVF in front of us, we could genetically have our own children, and for that we were beyond grateful.

That brings me to today. I am a week into the start of my medications, the injections themselves seem to be getting a little bit easier every day but the symptoms keep growing. Our protocol includes fertilization with ICSI, and PGS screening for a frozen embryo transfer. To be given this opportunity to do IVF has been such a blessing. We are lucky enough to have an amazing support system from our family and friends and to say we are thankful would be an understatement. I hope this brings awareness to those struggling with infertility. Male factor especially, for such a simple test I don’t believe there should be a regulated time frame that you must endure just to get an answer. Infertility is a battle in itself and can be extremely detrimental to some relationships. Let’s speak up, have uncomfortable conversations and make this process easier for those who are struggling. Thank you for taking the time to read about our story. For those of you who are battling infertility, I hope our story gives you encouragement, strength and determination to keep up the fight.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

The Best Laid Plans

August 17, 2017

Written by Rachel Roth, Guest Blogger

Alright, I admit it: I’m a planner. Have been my whole life. I plan my outfits for the week. I plan for a party months in advance. It should come as no shock that I’ve had my life as a mother planned for as long as I can remember and had my kids names picked out since high school (thank goodness my husband loved the names too!)

My husband, Jon, and I married in 2008 and the talk of kids began at our wedding. We played a famous game at our reception called “The Shoe Game” where Jon and I sat back to back, traded shoes and held up the shoe of the person we thought best represented the answer. My brother, who emceed, asked “Which of you is looking forward to having kids more?” We BOTH held up BOTH shoes. See? Excited for kids. However, we wanted to wait until I finished my master’s degree and we moved into a house. Both of those things happened in April 2011. Happening in the same month? That was some sort of sign we were supposed to start trying for kids immediately, right?

I began to calculate when I needed to conceive based on the amount of maternity leave I had. I worked as a teacher and since I would get the summer off, I knew I wanted to have my leave flow right into the summer to maximize my time at home. I had a conversation one day with my mom explaining my thought process behind these conception plans and she held up her hand to stop me.

“How do you know that you’ll get pregnant the first time you try?”

I didn’t have an answer to that and it should have been a warning bell to at least be prepared for that possibility and in our case, eventuality. 8 months into trying for children, we were sent to a fertility doctor for what at the time seemed like just a male factor issue.

My husband needed surgery to fix a varicocele. He healed wonderfully and came back in better shape than before. But we still were having issues. After more tests, they found I was also part of the problem. Apparently, my AMH hormone level was low which meant I had fewer (good) eggs than other women my age. Apparently my biological clock had hit the danger zone early. So that added a new dimension to our problem. And doctors in the same practice couldn’t seem to agree on a plan.

One doctor said we could conceive naturally and just needed help with timing. A second doctor said we had “less than 1% chance of conceiving naturally” and said if I was his daughter, he’d automatically recommend IVF. I was beginning to get frustrated that no one could seem to agree on OUR specific infertility problems and what to do about them. I felt like a science experiment or some number on a chart, instead of a real person trying to conceive a child.

I started with clomid and letrozole (oral stimulating meds), progressed to Follistim (injected stimulating med) then did 4 rounds of IUI. Everything failed, month after month. However, our first IVF in April 2013 was different. The plan was to come to the office two weeks after the IVF transfer for a blood test for pregnancy. I got antsy, took a home test and it turned out positive! Two years of trying and we were finally pregnant!
Well of course out came the plans! I calculated my due date, researched how to decorate the nursery, and even started compiling a guest list for my baby shower. (I know, I know. I can hear you shaking your head. I deserve that)

The fertility clinic continued to monitor my beta numbers and even though they seemed to fluctuate a bit, the doctor told me that the next time I came in, we would be able to hear the baby’s heart beat!

Jon came with me to that next appointment because we both wanted to hear our child’s heart beating for the very first time. So exciting! After the normal blood draw, the ultrasound tech seemed to be moving the wand around a lot and not saying much. After two years of ultrasounds, I knew something was wrong.

Turns out, as the doctor would tell us afterward, there was nothing on the ultrasound. No heartbeat. No baby.

I was DEVASTATED.

I held it together for the rest of the meeting, but when we got to the car, I broke down in tears. My dream was crashing down around me. To go from expecting to see the heartbeat of your child to being told there wasn’t a baby at all was excruciating and confusing. We took some time to regroup and a few months later we did IVF #2 and #3 back to back. Both were failures.

It was in the days, weeks, months that followed that I started to withdraw.

I had been hit with a huge dose of reality. We had been trying for nearly three years. Even three attempts using the most advanced fertility procedure, the one with the highest chance of success, didn’t help us conceive. I started to isolate myself to protect my heart. I replied “no” to every baby shower invitation, including my two nephews. I didn’t want to be the elephant in the room during what was supposed to be a happy time for someone else. I even avoided my friends. I knew I couldn’t be a good friend to them with what I was going through and didn’t want to feel like a burden. I hit rock bottom. All my plans hadn’t worked to get the one thing I’d always dreamed of: children. Was I the failure? Was I being punished for planning? For assuming we would get pregnant quickly?

We took the next 10 months to just be a married couple again. We had one more frozen embryo so we needed to do one more IVF attempt, but with everything we had been through physically (I stuck myself an average of 34 times per IVF cycle) and emotionally (at that point, I had gotten 29 months of negative pregnancy results), we needed a break.

Finally, in September 2014 we did our IVF #4, which we knew financially and emotionally had to be our last. We didn’t have high hopes after all we had been through but the nurses called me after my blood test ecstatic to tell me I was pregnant! We were thrilled.

Unfortunately, our celebration didn’t last long. Same as before, there was no heartbeat. No baby. I miscarried the exact same day I did on the first IVF.

This time, I wasn’t devastated.

I was BROKEN.

We often heard people tell us “just adopt!” And absolutely, it was and is an option. But two important things: 1) we felt we needed to mourn our fertility journey and the biological children we wouldn’t have. We needed to heal. 2) We wanted to be sure we should adopt, not just move forward with it as a last resort. We wanted our hearts to be pure and intentional as it affects a lot of people. We prayed, discussed and decided we were being called to adopt. We were scared, to be honest, as adoption is something neither of us knew a lot about. But sometimes the best things in life are the ones that scare us initially.

After some research, we settled on an adoption agency and chose infant domestic adoption. The adoption process, like the fertility process, is NO. JOKE. It is a ton of stress and is a challenge emotionally and financially, just in very different ways. We got through the mountains of paperwork, the hours of interviews, the classes, the physicals, the clearances, and hours creating a profile.

On December 18, 2015 we officially became available for birth families to connect with us!

On December 19, I found out I was pregnant. Naturally.

Is that your jaw hitting the ground I just heard? Yeah, I can STILL feel mine dislocating from shock. I took two tests because we just didn’t believe it. We made sure to get the ones that have the words instead of the lines because if anyone could screw up reading the results, we figured it would be us.

Despite both tests saying the same thing, we were VERY cautious throughout the first few months, even refusing to say the word “pregnant” aloud to one another. We referred to my pregnancy as “our situation” for the first trimester as we spoke about our future plans. We knew firsthand how quickly pregnancies can change.

But our fears were assuaged. On August 15, 2016, our son Benjamin Shane was born. Healthy, happy, full of life, definitely not part of our plan. No one was more thrilled to be wrong than us.

What about the adoption, you ask? Never fear. We fell in LOVE with adoption and are excited to adopt. Our agency required us to pause and wait until Ben is a year old before “unpausing” our journey. We’ve already started the ball rolling again and are just waiting to meet with our adoption agency to update our home study since a lot has changed in two years.

I often reflect upon what I was supposed to learn from my fertility journey. I never want my experiences to be for nothing so I try to find something to take away from it. I realized that there is so much in this life that is beyond our control. I love to plan, but sometimes plans don’t work out. I can’t control the weather. I can’t control how someone else reacts. I can’t control my fertility. My journey taught me that with so much beyond my control, I could either continue to struggle against it, only to be met with heartache. Or I could find peace in the chaos and learn to enjoy the moments, the life I have because life is fluid and fleeting.

Don’t worry – I haven’t given up my planning ways completely. There’s still a first birthday to plan, after all. And while I do, I’m enjoying every moment until then.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

You Asked, Ava Answered

August 14, 2017

After our recent blog post about the Ava Bracelet for tracking fertility, we received a ton of questions about how it all works! So we went straight to the source and sat down with Kate Slagh from Ava to find out why this little blue bracelet is the must have fertility accessory of the season.

WTF: What makes the Ava Bracelet different than ovulation predictor kits?

AVA; The most commonly used ovulation predictor kits use urine to detect a rise in luteinizing hormone (LH). These tests can be helpful you have very regular cycles and already have an idea of the four or five best days to test. It is common for a woman’s cycle to vary by up to seven days each cycle and this makes it challenging to know when to take an LH test. Many women have to take two tests per day for five days or more in order to achieve a positive result. Also, peeing on sticks everyday is inconvenient and messy.

With Ava, women wear the bracelet only at night. While you sleep, Ava tracks 9 physiological parameters. When you wake up, you synch the Ava bracelet to your smart phone and can see insight into your cycle and fertile window. Ava users love that it is easy to use and provides incredible insight in an easy to read graph. Women can get pregnant 6 days per cycle and Ava detects 5.3 of these days with 89% accuracy. Other OPKs are able to detect a 12-48 hours fertile window, at best, and only if you take the test at the right time.

WTF: What is the significance of tracking the 9 different body signals?

AVA: Ava uses clinically tested technology to track changes in the physiological parameters imparted by hormonal variations throughout the cycle. Ava uses these parameters to detect the beginning and end of the fertile window, in real time. To give you a few examples, Ava tracks pulse rate, temperature, sleep quality, sleep quantity and heart rate variability, which is an indicator of physiological stress. In clinical trials we have been able to show the correlation between many of these parameters and specific points in the menstrual cycle. Did you know that your resting pulse rate is significantly increased during your fertile window compared to your menstrual (bleeding) phase? This is one example of how your Ava learns about your body to give you insight into your cycle.

WTF: Is it safe and effective to use Ava while undergoing fertility treatments such as clomid?
Ava: Yes, it is safe to use Ava while taking medications such as clomid. We have not clinically tested Ava in women taking clomid but there is no reason to discontinue using Ava if you begin such a treatment. Anecdotally, we see that women taking follicle stimulating medication have Ava charts with clear fertile windows and ovulatory patterns that are just what you would expect with a normal cycle where ovulation occurred.

WTF: Explain the importance of the 5 fertile days for conception.
AVA: On average women can get pregnant six days per cycle. The best way to conceive is to have intercourse prior to ovulation so when the egg is released (ovulation) the sperm is ready and waiting. Detecting these fertile days and timing intercourse appropriately is the key to successful conception. Ava detects 5.3 fertile days each cycle so couples have a better chance of conceiving. In fact, using Ava doubles your chances of conceiving each month by letting you know when it’s the right time to try.

WTF: Besides trying to conceive, why are women using Ava?
AVA: Many women use Ava to learn about and track their menstrual cycles. A woman’s body goes through amazing changes each cycle and understanding these changes can help women understand their health. Imagine knowing when your migraine headaches will be the worst and planning ahead-Ava can help you do that. Ava also has a pregnancy app that gives you interesting facts about how babies develop week by week. Pregnant women also continue to wear their Ava bracelet at night to continue tracking sleep, pulse rate and more. Ava keeps tracking your body signals, you just wont see a fertile window or expected ovulation.

WTF: What is the success rate of women who wear Ava and are trying to conceive? Do you keep tracks of those numbers?

AVA: We sure do-but we don’t share publically the number of Ava assisted pregnancies. One of the reasons we don’t share this information is because not every woman who gets pregnant using Ava will her news with us. The number of Ava babies, since our product release, is growing and the first Ava babies are now being born. We love nothing more than to celebrate Ava pregnancies and Ava babies!

 

Order your Ava Bracelet HERE and don’t forget to use the discount code ALEXIS to save $20!

 

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Not Losing Hope

August 10, 2017
  • •Written by Justine Raymond, Guest Blogger

We have been on this rollercoaster of a ride since our daughter was six months old. She is now three. Conceiving our daughter did not come easy, we tried for a year. When she was six month old we decided to start to try again, “because of course it will happen right away,” boy was I wrong. Little did we know it would take us on a crazy ride full lots of down.

After having our daughter, I had to have an emergency surgery to stop the massive amount of bleeding. As a result of having to have this life saving surgery, I am now left with extreme scarring in my uterus. I have had two surgeries and am going to do a third to try to remove more scar tissue and prepare my body for another egg transfer. We have had one failed IUI, two failed IVF cycles and still have not become pregnant.

The hurt and pain is the same and as a woman, you blame yourself. I feel like a failure some days… infertility hurts. It’s real, raw and sometimes you feel alone and blame youself. I think people just assume when you already have a child it doesn’t hurt as much, but it truly does. It is a desire in your heart and despite all efforts you can’t make it happen. Yes we are extremely grateful and blessed to have our daughter. She is the light of our lives and very well might be our only child, we are so so thankful for her. That doesn’t take away the pain and longing for another child, I don’t think that feeling will ever go away. We know God has a plan for our family, but sometimes God’s plans and the plan we have in our head are different. I know one day this will all make sense and finding peace is the key. I still struggle with this but I am getting better, I want to be able to say we tried everything possible.

We will continue to fight this fight of infertility in the hopes we will one day beat it. Hope is the only thing stronger than fear and I always have hope. I don’t know what the future has in store for us, but I do know we’ll all be ok. I alway go back and forth about sharing my story because sometimes infertility can take you to a dark lonely place and it’s a look into your most intimate and personal part of your life. If women didn’t speak out and share their stories with me I would really feel alone. The women of this community are so helpful and they get you, they know the pain you feel.

To you reading this wherever you are in your journey, I pray for you. You are not alone. You will be ok. We all will. A woman from this community once told me a quote once, “when the world says give up, hope whispers try one more time”. I hope this can shed some light that infertility hurts no matter if its your first or second time longing for a child.

 

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Manners That Matter

August 2, 2017

•Written by Katherine McMullen, Guest Blogger
Me: a 32 yr old runner (2 marathons, 8 half marathons, etc etc), former D3 college swimmer, current masters swimmer, leisure bicyclist, yoga lover, gardener, knitter and Whole30 enthusiast.

Husband: a 33 yr old runner (3 marathons, 7 half marathons, etc etc), leisure bicyclist, former D1 college hockey player, current men’s league hockey player, craft beer + whiskey enthusiast.

Overall heath: pretty darn good… so we thought!

So we ventured into this journey with high hopes and lots of quality time together. ?My husband, the eternal optimist, would tell me all the time, “We’ll be fine. It’ll be good. It’ll just take another month.”

And another month.

And another month.

I had done my research. I was temping, charting, reading, cutting BPA out from out life, upping the vitamins, making the hubs (Mike) take vitamins, doing more yoga, drinking less wine…all the right things.

From all that I read, after 6 months, 85% of women should have conceived. Despite only being 31 at the time, I decided to make an appointment with a local fertility clinic.

Side Note: I had changed birth control options from hormonal birth control to an non-hormonal IUD while we were dating and noticed some darker, coarser hair growing on my face, arms, chest, nipples…all the “fun spots” for dark hair. I went to my OB to get blood work done to see if I had PCOS. Their tests said all was good. I went a month later to an endocrinologist to talk again about PCOS, and again her tests were all good. I wasn’t 100% convinced that I was A-OK, so that’s when I decided to see the fertility specialist.

We did the normal blood work and ultrasound. What I learned was wildly fascinating. Despite all the routine blood work for PCOS coming back normal, my AMH levels were OFF THE CHARTS, usually a good indicator of PCOS. Average range is 2-3 ng/mL, mine was 12 ng/mL. My ultrasound also showed that between both ovaries, I had 49 follicles growing. 49! All signs pointed to PCOS. (No male factor!)

After talking it over, my husband and I were ready to start treatment. On Day 1 of my menstrual cycle in October, I called to schedule my first Day 3 appointment. My Day 3 appointment went well, the normal blood work/ultrasound. I get a call later that day, with hopes of starting my medicated cycle, however the nurse told me I was pregnant! …… But I had been bleeding for three days straight?? And I continued to bleed for another day. I went back two days later for another beta test, and levels had dropped. It was a chemical pregnancy.

I wasn’t really sure how to respond at the time. The Doctors and nurses would tell me that they were sorry for the loss of the chemical, and I would awkwardly say, oh it’s fine. It wasn’t until a few months ago, when it dawned on me that I’d have a baby in my arms right now if that one had stuck, that it really started to hurt.

Over the course of the next 6 cycles, we tried Letrozole and Clomid cycles with some FSH, etc. the usual suspects for medicated cycles.

That time was really rough for me with friends. The majority of my friends and my husbands friends are already parents. Some with 3 kids already! I stopped going to events. I stopped texting them. I really isolated myself, building up my walls so I wouldn’t be upset.

However, I did strategically tell some friends of the struggles we were going through. One from each circles of friends, so that if anyone else in the group said, “Where is Katie? Why doesn’t she hang out anymore?” the designated friend would be able to cover for me.

When I learned that there was a National Infertility Awareness Week, I was so excited to hear the other stories and following social media accounts that were focused on women with fertility issues.

During NIAW, I came across an Infertility Etiquette list that I thought was amazing to share with family and friends. We personally have chosen not to tell any family members, as we know how ours can be, but I emailed this list to the designated friends.

I reassured them that none of them had, “broken any of the rules,” but it was more just awareness and helping them, if they have other friends going through it, of things to say and not say, do and not do.

They were all very appreciative of the article and said that they would be there for me if I ever wanted to cry, vent, talk, anything.

Since I’ve sent the list, I’ve really stopped talking about it, because I feel like the weight of the grief of each cycle has lifted, my silence had been broken. My friends have become more respectful of my privacy and they don’t push for any details or updates. They know that I will tell them when it’s time.

I highly recommend this etiquette list for anyone who feels comfortable talking about their struggles. Maybe it would be a great ice breaker for that nosy friend or family member that keeps hounding you for information!

I have been pretty open with my struggles with those who I have told. If anyone were to ask, I would probably tell them. I don’t want this to be a silent struggle.

I’m hoping to be an NIAW advocate next year at work. I work for a medical device company that has some fertility products, so it seems like a natural fit for advocacy. We always do walks and fund raisers for Breast Cancer Awareness, Ovarian Cancer Awareness, so I’m going to start the Infertility Awareness at work.

We are currently in the beginning stages of our first FET cycle. I was able to get three blasts from my first IVF cycle. We are doing PGS testing since with my age, things just don’t seem right with egg quality.

I’m still hopeful that my time will come, but I also still distance myself from moms and pregnant friends.

I’m hoping that anyone reading this that has been silent, will now be able to have the courage to tell a friend and share the etiquette list with others. It’s a great list, well written, and has brought some piece of mind knowing that my friends are aware and not nosy.

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