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Adventure Awaits

June 12, 2017
•By Kristi and Ben Graves, Guest Bloggers
The word “adventure” means: an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.  So far that has been the theme of our married life and the best way to describe this most recent journey that we have begun: the path to growing our family through adoption.

We have been married for 10 years, and during that time together we have lived in 3 different countries and traveled to many other places in the world – both on our own and on mission work with our local church. This has allowed us many adventures that we have enjoyed sharing together, making memories as husband and wife that we will never forget.

One of the amazing adventures we have been able to take is to visit Uganda. Kristi had a dream for many years to love on babies in Africa, and shortly after we joined our church, we found out that they partner with the community of Kaihura in Uganda!! God has used these trips to Africa to help change and mold us, and part of our heart is still over there! We have been able to go the last 2 summers and are excited about the opportunity to visit again this June! During our first trip to Uganda, God made it clear to us that He was calling us to adopt a child into our family. During these last 2 years, we have been praying and preparing for this adventure and are excited to have started the adoption process!

For many years we have hoped of getting pregnant and like many of you, we have gone through years of infertility. We have tried the pills, the acupuncture, the ultrasounds, we have shed tears and watched everyone around us become pregnant while we waited and wondered when it would be our turn.

When we started our adventure of life together 10 years ago, we didn’t have any idea of all the things that lay ahead for us. We have seen so many ups and downs, happy times, sad times, and everything in between. God has taught us so much during this journey, and how we can make plans, but it is ultimately His plan that is the best for our life. We are so excited for this next chapter and to see what is waiting for us on this adoption journey.
We are pursuing domestic infant adoption through Bethany Christian Services.  The cost of our adoption will be around $26,000. As a way to help raise funds for our adoption and celebrate this next adventure, we are selling these sweet “adventure awaits” t-shirts!  If you’d like to support us by buying a t-shirt, you can visit here.
We have multiple color choices as well as adult and youth sizes! Please know that every purchase gets us that much closer to bringing our sweet Baby Graves home!
You can also follow our adoption journey on instagram: @babygravesadventure
And if you feel called to contribute financially to our adoption fund, you can do so here.

We are continuing to trust God as we walk through this adventure. We know that adoption is hard and messy and beautiful and we trust that He will provide and use this for His glory! Thanks for following along!

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Some Things Are Worth The Wait

June 8, 2017

By Kristy Koser, Guest Blogger

My husband Nate and I had been trying to conceive for almost 10 years. We tried on and off for over 5 years on our own, tracking my cycles, body temperature, and ovulation. But after no success we decided to make an appointment at the nearest fertility clinic. We started with six rounds of Clomid, which resulted in two pregnancy losses, then moved to four rounds of IUI, which were all unsuccessful, then finally to IVF. We completed 6 fresh rounds and 5 frozen rounds of IVF, resulting in one pregnancy loss, a lot of tears, unsuccessful cycles, and 2 precious frozen embryos. We endured round after round of embryo banking, genetic testing for all our embryos, an endometrium biopsy, laparoscopy, and loads of Viagra (yep, you heard that correctly, it helps with chronically thin uterine lining). By the end of 2015, after our last failed cycle we were exhausted and feeling hopeless. For some unexplained reason, my uterus was unable to sustain life and we couldn’t imagine putting one more embryo back into it after seeing so many not make it through that two week wait. So, we decided to pursue gestational surrogacy, and guess what? It worked.

I could share so many things I learned on our journey to become parents, I often consult with women and couples who are making hard decisions regarding their reproductive health. I’m a full time couples therapist who specializes in fertility counseling for couples, and I know first hand these decisions are multifaceted and ridiculously complex. Most people tend to ask me about the process of surrogacy, what it’s like, how we found our carrier, and what the logistics of such an arrangement. I have had some people email me for what to expect, so I’ll share a bit of what I told them, what I’ve learned along the way living in Virginia, and tips to pursue your own journey if you are lucky enough to experience the beauty of surrogacy.

First, you need to find out what type of surrogacy is right for you. There is traditional surrogacy using her egg or gestational surrogacy using all your gametes. Ours is gestational surrogacy, it’s my egg and my husband’s sperm, an embryo from one of our IVF rounds.

Next you need to consider the cost. Typically online you will see the cost is fairly high, that’s usually because people haven’t started IVF (which is so costly itself)! So, if you already have embryos in storage you are ahead of the game! If you have not started IVF or do not have any embryos, look for a clinic that has a success or refund package deal–so that means after “x” amount of rounds if you are not successful then you get your money back. We did this and our package included 6 fresh rounds and unlimited frozen transfers. This helped big time. Also consider the fact you will pay a surrogate as well. She is the ultimate babysitter, and you are paying for high quality childcare for those precious 9 months! Prices on this range and should be determined between you and your surrogate. This also means you pay all of the medical bills–so plan to pay for co-pays at the doctor, birthing costs, bed rest costs (if she works and has to be on bed rest), and possible maternity leave.

Once you have figured out your finances and the type of surrogate you are looking for, it then becomes a task of finding that special person. There are surrogacy agencies that can help to match you with someone or you can find someone on your own. I would suggest getting the word out to fertility clinics, OBGYNs, and close friends. Sometimes clinics have surrogates they have worked with in the past so it’s always good to let your clinic know first that you would like their help in finding someone. We happened to find someone in our community, which has been ideal for us, but sometimes you have to be open to looking out of state.

Once you’ve found your surrogate, it’s time to look at your state’s laws regarding surrogacy. I would suggest finding a good reproductive attorney very early in the process; your clinic should have recommendations. The first thing your attorney will ask is to check your surrogate’s insurance to make sure she is legally able to use her insurance for surrogacy (DO THIS FIRST)! If she cannot use her insurance, you will probably want to find someone else, only because the cost could be so high out of pocket. But likely it will be good to go! Then once everything is in place, you will create a surrogacy contact that is legally binding. This requires her to find an attorney (at your cost) to prepare and represent her in the process. By law you have to have a contract–this can be a bit of a pain because it’s lengthy and detailed, but this is the one time you want it to be! So if you are considering using your friend, just be prepared for a lot of conversation around worst-case scenarios and all the “what ifs” the contract will include. There may be other laws for your state and sometimes policies of your clinic that include medical screenings for her and her partner along with psychological testing and required counseling in order to proceed.

Once the contracts, counseling, screenings, and legal requirements are complete then your surrogate is ready to prep her body for a frozen embryo transfer (if using a gestational carrier). She will use all of the typical medications for a frozen transfer and everything will proceed like normal. Then when the time is right, transfer happens! My husband and I were both at transfer–it was surreal to see what happened to me so many times happening to someone else. It was crazy to think my baby was floating around in someone else’s uterus, and there was an instant trust this person will take care of it. Thankfully she did, and one of our two embryos found a cozy place to implant and baby K is coming in August! Now, according to the doctors we are a “normal” pregnant couple, minus the fact I’m not pregnant and someone else is carrying our child. But somehow it feels like the most normal part of the last four years. It’s the only thing that makes sense and we are certain this was how it was always supposed to be. Check with your state laws, then find a good reproductive lawyer to check on her insurance. Get that process started first, because legal contracts can take a while. Then your clinic and lawyer will help guide you through the rest.

I know this information feels like a lot, and I won’t lie, it is. But, you already know what it’s like to work hard for this baby. Hang in there, while there are lots of strings to hold, I promise it will be worth the wait.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs, What We Love

Protecting The Family Jewels

June 1, 2017
  • By Henry Gardiner, Guest Blogger

 

Infertility is a struggle no-one should have to go through but sadly it is one that is on the rise. Across the world fertility rates are falling as more and more people fail to conceive.

The physical and emotional strain is felt most often by the woman. But in reality the causes of infertility can be very unclear. It is thought that the reasons behind failing to conceive are actually split evenly between the male and female partners with another 40% being just completely unknown.

There is a big difference between the reproductive system in a man versus a woman. Women are born with all their eggs – about two million – and won’t make any more during their life. Whereas men are constantly producing sperm, millions a day that take three to four months to mature. Both systems have their vulnerabilities.

You might think it is better to be consistently producing sperm than having to rely on a single deposit of eggs from birth. But this leaves sperm and male fertility at the mercy of changes that can cause a real problem.

Some dangers to sperm include lifestyle factors. Men need to take as much care of their bodies as women when trying for a baby. Abstaining from caffeine, alcohol, smoking and other drugs are important, as is keeping physically fit and healthy and avoiding stress. This helps a man’s fertility be in the best condition by maintaining good testosterone levels and healthy sperm.

That might seem like common sense but there are other factors you might not realise that pose a threat to male fertility with its greater sensitivity to the environment. One of these threats occupies a central role in our busy modern day lives and is often kept on us or at least within arm’s reach – our cell phones.

This is especially a problem for men, who often keep their cell in their front pocket or clipped on a belt – right next to where sperm are trying to develop. More and more research is coming out showing how cell phone radiation disrupts the production of sperm , causing damage to its DNA and affecting important factors like sperm motility and viability. Experts have described the effect as being like “cooking” sperm.

So in addition to healthy living and all the other trials of a fertility journey there are new threats to take account of. This one however needs just a bit of education and nifty gadgetry. Education about the risks of cell phones is important and something most people are not aware of. From this awareness came WaveWall, an innovative cell phone case designed to protect a man’s fertility that blocks 85% of cell phone radiation from reaching the body.

There are so many factors with infertility, and even with the wonders of modern medicine many of them are unknown. Male fertility is a delicate balancing act that is unfortunately increasingly under threat so we need to pay more attention and take action that could make all the difference.

Win a WaveWall phone case of your choice by commenting below!

 

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

The Risk Is Worth The Reward

May 25, 2017

By Brooke Papp, Guest Blogger

I have been a workaholic since I was 14. I was always driven to have a ‘high powered’ career and live in a big city and have a muted gold name plate with a fancy title.  I never played house, I played restaurateur, or journalist or would spend hours creating my own architectural “magazines.”  I put myself through college and landed a creative career in fashion.  Maybe not the cushy fancy title with the name plate, but what girl doesn’t love clothing?

Fast forward a few years…

My first date with my husband we had the full on marriage / kids discussion.  Him coming from a traditional catholic family and myself with my broken childhood, we were pretty sure the memorial day date we had would last as long as the summer.  I told him straight up, my career was number one and I had no desire to get married, have the white picket fence, the 2.5 children.  

And then I ended up liking him, like really liking him.  And something changes when you actually like someone – you see a future with them.  When Andrew proposed, I didn’t have one hesitation and the thought of not having children, was not even in passing.  It was the plan.  The year we got married we went through a ton of changes, we both switched jobs, he started grad school, we moved to LA.  It was a lot, but we got through it and it made us stronger.  We lived in a teeny apartment until we purchased our house a little over three years after getting married.  Everything was falling into place, but we still ‘weren’t ready’ for baby Papp.  We really, really enjoyed traveling.  We liked having the freedom to eat out or buy what we wanted, for ourselves, each other, the house.  We knew we wanted a child, but my work schedule was demanding and I was gone a ton.  He was working 12 hour days.  It just wasn’t time.

But then, unplanned, we got pregnant. I was traveling for work, per the usual, and I felt off. I was exhausted. I was nauseous. I felt bloated.  I wanted only pasta, which is just not the norm for me.  Red wine made me gag – yes, something was definitely wrong.  I was scared to death.

I finished my work trip, came home and immediately took two tests, just to be certain.  Pregnant.  We weren’t ready right?  But then we were, we talked about it all the time.  My husband was elated.  He would go in our guest room and talk about where we would put everything for baby.  It wasn’t planned but it was perfect timing.

We went to the doctor that week – ‘you are definitely pregnant’ the doctor said.  I will never forget my loving, dear husband’s face when she pointed out – what she called – the ‘strong’ heartbeat.  That little sonogram picture immediately went up on the fridge and we couldn’t stop staring at it.  It was happening!  

The next few weeks, I changed my diet, tried (!) to lower my stress level, starting reading the must read books.  I skipped the wine during a wine tasting weekend, I was going to be a mommy!

Then we lost the baby. The perfect baby that we had already named be it a boy or a girl. The baby we weren’t supposed to get our hopes up for but ultimately did. The baby we thought about with everything we did was gone. I had changed my whole life overnight because I wanted to be perfect for this baby.  And now, everything was different, in just seconds.

We went in to see our doctor on a Friday morning, before a scheduled two week vacation. The day was supposed to go something like this: early doctor appointment to see the growth of the little one, both Andrew and I had multiple meetings we were ready for and going to knock out of the park, then dinner out, and hop on a plane to Europe as a last big ‘hurrah’ before we were parents.

But instead, by 8 am, we knew our baby hadn’t grown. The baby was there, and the doctor said the growth should have been ‘monumental’ since the last time we were there, but she couldn’t detect a heartbeat.  I turned to Andrew and whispered ‘I’m sorry’ and he started crying, I was numb.  We rushed through her options because I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.  I left with my head spinning with questions, and nothing could be put into words.

Andrew and I took the day off, something I  N E V E R do (workaholic remember?). We sat in our backyard and cried and talked and yelled a bit and wondered what we did wrong along the way. I questioned everything I did: the large amount of stress I was dealing with at work, the glasses of wine I had prior to knowing I was pregnant, that indulgent Nashville trip…

We didn’t even want to get on our plane to Europe. The trip wouldn’t be the same. The news we were so excited to deliver to our family, was tainted and reversed. We went through that Friday in a thick fog. And ultimately boarded the plane.

Being back now, after the trip, looking back at the pictures, it wasn’t the trip we had planned. There are very few of myself, just me behind the camera, my outfits weren’t planned, I didn’t wear makeup. I wasn’t myself. But, life goes on – not all life, but most. I am still heartbroken. Andrew is still crushed. And the conversations we had over those two weeks will never be forgotten.

But, I know this experience made us stronger as a unit and we are so grateful and blessed that’s the case.  And we now know that we want a baby, so very much, and we know we have to plan for it. And do everything possible to be healthy, loving parents once our time comes.

I know women who have gone through this multiple, multiple times and I actually can’t imagine feeling that pain over and over again. It is indescribable. And shocking how much you love something so quickly.  Unimaginable.  Painful.  Numbing.  Heart wrenching.

What I take away most from this situation – apart from the time being emotionally and physically drained, is that not enough people speak of miscarriage.  I have not been silent, but I notice when you are honest about what is going on or what has happened, people become uncomfortable.

Andrew explained it best:  He was at the bank the day we found out and the teller asked how he was and he responded with a ‘could be better’ and the teller looked at him with no words.  She didn’t know how to respond.  I also have experienced that over the last couple weeks.  Miscarriage is f*cking hard, and talking about it, writing about it as helped, if even a little.  And if we had more knowledge of how often it does happen, maybe people will be more comfortable with discussing it and hearing the truths.  Everyone heals differently of course, but as a community, knowing this happens often and close is comforting, in a sad way.

I just finished the process of everything – just last week.  A D & C, which is way more intense than I thought it would be.  Adding salt to the wound, you may say.  And although the actual surgery helped and I feel I am moving forward, the sadness, emotion and freaking insane hormones are still there.  The doctor said we can start trying again in four weeks, and I am torn.  How on earth do I go through this again?

My husband, always a man of many words says: ‘the risk is worth the reward’ and I agree.  Someday it will be our time, but until then, this just is another chapter in our book.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Ommmmm your way to fertility

May 17, 2017

By Kristin McGee, Guest Blogger

I moved to New York City from small town Pocatello, Idaho to pursue my love of acting in the early 90’s. I discovered yoga in my acting classes and felt it was the best thing ever for my body, mind and spirit. I graduated NYU and certified to teach yoga as I auditioned and worked as an actress; but soon I realized I really wanted to teach yoga full time.

Yoga has been there for me through all the ups and downs in my life. I don’t know what I would do without yoga, it has helped me stay centered, balanced, flexible, strong and fit. I never realized it could also aid me in getting over an eating disorder, learning to truly love myself, landing a spot on 30 rock (and my actress dreams come around full circle) and get pregnant!
I have always been a late bloomer and didn’t start my period until I was 16 going on 17. I danced all of my life and have always been on the lean side. My periods were irregular and by the time I finally decided to settle down and have babies, my body wasn’t cooperating. I married my husband when I was 37 years old and after two years of trying, we weren’t having any luck.

I started teaching yoga for fertility classes around that time at the Reproductive Medical Associates in Manhattan; and doing research on yoga poses that can enhance fertility. I loved working with so many women in the same boat as myself; and sharing stories with each other so we didn’t feel so alone. Yoga is all about community; and the connections we made were just as important as the poses themselves.

When I turned 39 I had to call in the big guns and I went through a round of IVF. I kept up my yoga practice, went to acupuncture and ate a healthy diet. I fully believe the yoga mindset helped me have such a successful cycle. I had my beautiful baby boy Timothy on July 31, 2013 and three years later I had twin boys that were embryos we had saved from our first round. I feel so very blessed to have three boys after only one treatment. I know not all women have the same luck.

If you’re trying to conceive naturally or using fertility treatments, yoga can truly help in so many ways. Yoga is calming which is exactly what a woman needs when she is trying to get pregnant. Yoga is confidence building, which helps us rely on our self and trust our body to do what it needs to do. Yoga unites the mind and the body so we can really be in touch with what our body needs and treat it with compassion. Yoga is stress reducing and trying to get pregnant with or without meds, can be very stressful. Yoga helps us stay present and in the moment and all we can do is take each breath and each day as it comes. Yoga is low impact and great for opening up the hips and bringing blood flow to the pelvis.

I recently wrote a book Chair Yoga: Sit, Stretch, and Strengthen Your Way to a Happier, Healthier You. In this book are some wonderful chair yoga poses for women to do as they try and conceive. Because it is recommended to take it easy if you’re undergoing fertility treatments, these poses are a great alternative to high impact exercise. You want to avoid deep twists as your ovaries are stimulated; but other than that, all of these poses are safe and effective for balancing out the hormones and helping with stress and anxiety. If you’re trying to conceive naturally, these poses will help open up the pelvic region and bring blood flow down to the genitals. These poses also help us unite our body with our mind so we can feel harmonious and aligned as we envision our body making a beautiful little being.

 

Cat/Cow—Start seated at the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor hip width apart. Inhale arch out of your lower back and open up your chest as you look up to the ceiling. Exhale, curl your spine, pull in your abdominals, and round the back. Continue arching and rounding for 6-8 cycles. This move is great for opening up the pelvic region and getting blood flowing to the lower half of the body. It also releases the chest and upper back and alleviates stress and anxiety

 

Pelvic Circles—Next start circling your hips around in a clockwise direction letting the spine be nice and loose. After 6-8 cycles in one direction, stop and start the counterclockwise circling. I love this exercise for really opening up the hips and lubricating the pelvic floor region. Imagine stirring up fertile energy.

High Altar Side Stretch—After circles, stop and sit up nice and tall. Inhale lift your arms up overhead interlace the fingers and invert the palms to the ceiling. Lift up out of your lower back and exhale over to the right side. Hold for 5 breaths then come up to sit and repeat on the opposite side. The image of an altar overhead is powerful for holding something on it you want to bring in to your life. Stretching to the sides helps open up the lungs and bring in fresh air and positive thoughts.

Ankle to Knee—Sit at the edge of your seat and cross the right ankle above the left knee letting the right knee drop open to the side. Feel a great stretch in the outer hips and feel free to fold forward to make it more intense. Ankle to knee opens up the hips and allows for more blood flow to the lower half of the body.

Pigeon—Pigeon is one of my all time favorites fertility poses, it really opens up the hips and entire lower body. Pigeon also stretches the hips flexors, which are like the fight or flight muscles. When we release the adrenaline built up it helps our bodies relax and conceive. Start with your right outer thigh on the seat with the knee open to the side. Extend the left leg back behind you and press through the ball of the foot. Hold for 5-8 breaths then repeat on the opposite side.

Goddess—Finally end with goddess pose. Start at the edge of your seat and open your legs wider than your hips turning your toes out. Bring your hands together in prayer at your chest. Imagine your body as a vessel for conception; and breathe in to the hips, pelvis, inner thighs and lower abdominals. Hold for 5-8 breaths.

Practice these postures three to five times a week while you are trying to conceive or undergoing fertility treatments. Complimentary alternative medical practices such as yoga are really incredible for helping the process along. I truly believe my yoga practice played such a huge part in building my family and I hope to encourage all women to take the time to be kind to themselves and slow down in order to allow their bodies to make precious little babies.

 

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

A Mother’s Day Without Mom

May 12, 2017

By Andrea Robinson, Guest Blogger

It’s another one of those days. A marker. A reminder. A day I feel the emptiness a little more. You see, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, they are all bright flashlights into my heart. They shine on the void I still feel without my Mom. She’s been in Heaven a little over 9 years. You know that saying “time heals all wounds?” Well, I’m not so sure that’s true. Yes, time marches on, people go about living, people forget the dates, but not me.

I think, those of us that have lost someone so dear as our mom, we never get over it. Whether you were 10 years old or 70 years old when she left you, it still brings heavy sadness. The grief bursts still come…like huge tsunami waves. They hit so randomly. No fair warning, ever. Like when our songs come on the radio that we used to obnoxiously sing( think Tom Jones and Diana Ross, those were our jams)! When I wander through Target and see a darling young mom, her kids and her own mother browsing the aisles. When I see pictures on Facebook of mother/daughter trips to fun places, exploring together. When I hear my friends complain about their “annoying, intruding mom.” When I’m riding the struggle bus of adulthood and can’t figure out how to get off. When I’m constantly second guessing my motherhood skills, my wife skills, my friend skills or my job. When I’m unsure of myself, my worth or my talents.

I can’t even tell you what I would give to be able to pick up the phone and hear her say “I love you Annabelle (that was what she called me). What I would give to have one of her famous pep talks. She left me way too soon. I got married without her here, I gave birth to two amazing kids without her here, I have celebrated without her, I have endured heartache without her. I have lived a good portion of my adult life without her. I feel like I need her most now. I find myself rummaging through old boxes and pictures looking for her. To feel her and find her presence in any thing. I stare at my kids searching for her. I thank God everyday for my babies, It’s the one place in which I have found her. Her eyes, her smile and her personality. So much of that has been given to them. They are 4 and 6 years old and are curious and have never ending questions. “Where’s your mom?” “Why did she have to go live in Heaven?” “What did she look like?” “Why was she sick?” I don’t have the best answers for them because I don’t really know why but it opens the door for us to talk about Grandma Connie all the time. It gives me the path to share her because I’ll be damned if they don’t know the amazing, fabulous G-ma that they would have run wild with, eaten junk food with and belly laughed with.

I will continue to trust that all of this is part of the plan. A plan that is greater than mine. He knows best and always will. I know for a concrete fact that God gave me 25 loving years with her and I’m forever grateful for that. The memories she left me with are deeply imprinted into my heart and brain. She was everyone’s friend, the woman that wore a cape under her dress (true super gal) she was the constant encourager, the supporter, the glue that holds it all together woman. Basically, she was everything to me and my brother. So, on days when we celebrate our Moms, I don’t get to shower mine with brunch or gifts. If she were here, I would be making her crispy bacon, hash browns and toast with butter. No eggs, she hated eggs. Coffee too, with cream. She loved her coffee. Oh and black licorice, she so loved that. Yuck, right? But she loved it, so you bet she would be getting it. So instead of all of that, I’ll share her spirit today, tomorrow and all of the days in between. I’ll relish in our time we had. I’ll hug my kids so tightly just for her. I’ll thank God for the women He has put in my life that have lifted me up since the day she left. Today, I’ll smile as I know she is shining down, so brightly. Today, I’ll work to make her proud and If I close my eyes long enough I’ll see her beautiful, perfect smile and I’ll hear her whisper “I love you.” I encourage you to dig deep inside and pull out those sweet memories and share yours with those that matter most. Our memories are the best gifts our Mamas could have ever given us. My deepest love to all of you that are missing yours today.

  

In Memory of Connie Cordrey
June 30, 1958-December 29, 2007

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Empty Arms on Mother’s Day

May 8, 2017

By Megan Boss, Guest Blogger

For those of us living with infertility, holidays are hard. But Mother’s Day is definitely the most difficult. Honestly I wish I could just wipe the day right off the calendar. I’ve spent what seems like a million years dreaming of being a mom, but instead that dream fades away each and every year. No tiny handprint gifts, no homemade cards, no breakfast in bed for me once again this Mother’s Day.

My husband and I have spent all of our married life trying to make our dream of becoming parents a reality.  It’s something we’ve both wanted since childhood. It was actually one of the things that attracted us to each other, both wanting a big family, a house full of kids. After about 8 months of just “relaxing and seeing what happens” we made an appointment with the OBGYN. She told us to give it 2 more months then she would recommend us to a specialist because of my age. (Insert eye roll here.) So there we were, 10 months and still no sign of Baby Boss. It’s official, we’ve been formally put into the INFERTILITY department.

10 months may not seem that long, but we just knew something was not right. We had an appointment with a specialist. We sat awkwardly in the waiting room trying not to stare at other couples. We tried the horrible clomid pill for a couple of months- nothing but hot flashes, night sweats and tantrums. We did an IUI (Intrauterine insemination)- nothing and plus that was really awkward. After some additional testing we learned that my ovarian reserve is very low. This told us that we should move on to IVF sooner rather than later.

IVF Round 1 we thought was a for sure thing. We were told there is about 50-60% chance of pregnancy with IVF ( I know…why is not 100%?) How do you spend $20,000 and not come home with a baby? We had appointments every other day. The waiting room became more comfortable. We were the “experienced couple” in the waiting room now and had a little fun picking out all the newbies just starting out or watching someone’s husband awkwardly turn in his sperm sample (Dude-we know what’s in the brown bag you are trying to hide in your jacket!). We really got to know all the staff at the infertility clinic…it was starting to be like a second home which…well it’s kinda depressing 🙂

We retrieved 17 eggs, 14 of those eggs were mature and 9 of those eggs fertilized. 3 of those eggs made it to day 5 to freeze. We transferred 1 egg in May (Mother’s day actually- we thought that was a sign) that egg did not implant. We still remember that phone call. We were shocked, so confused and so very sad.


In July we transferred our second egg and…PREGNANT, just in time for my birthday even though that sadly ended in a miscarriage after 8 wonderful weeks of being “parents”. We went through another emotional roller coaster of feeling shocked and so let down. We transferred our 3rd and final embryo in October. The 3rd time was not the charm for us. No implantation took place.

So just like that, we were out of embryos, and we lost a little bit of hope and faith. Parenthood seemed so far away. Going through infertility is a huge rollercoaster ride. You grieve the loss of what could have been, yet you have so much hope, then that hope is taken away from you and ends up returning a little later. The thing is though…you can’t just give up. How do you let go of the thought of not having a baby when that is the one thing you want more than anything in the world?
As another Mother’s Day approaches, the pain is very much real. Infertility is a loss. It’s the loss of a dream, it’s the loss of a family you thought you would have. Yes the handprint gifts, the # 1 Mom mug and the breakfast in bed would be fun but obviously I crave so much more than that. I crave having a little one who depends on me and who needs me, a daughter or son who thinks the world of me. I want the privilege of raising a little human, I want to teach him or her right from wrong, manners, morals, reading and writing. My heart wants all of that.


Although Mother’s Day is another reminder that I am not a mom, I can’t hide under the covers all day. I have to celebrate the ones I love who are moms. I have to keep the hope that one day my babies will come. Instead of crawling in a hole and crying all day, here are 5 ways to Survive Mother’s Day:

1. Celebrate the Moms in your life. Celebrate your Mom,Grandma or bestie who has little ones. Personally, I am so thankful for my mom. She has been with me every step of the way. If this seems to difficult, just send a card or a nice message and let them know you’re thinking of them.
2. Perhaps avoid massages, manicures or spa treatments around Mother’s Day.  This last weekend I got a facial. When it was done, the lady said, “ Happy Mother’s Day. You’re  a mom right?” I could have made that real awkward but I kindly just said thank you. I am a mom to a cat and an angel baby so I will take it, but it’s the assumption that is hard. If you go get any treatments done that weekend, be prepared for a lot of unintentionally hurtful comments.
3. Take a Social Media break. No doubt there will be tons of posts on Facebook, Instagram etc etc of Mother’s Day celebrations. My advice…you just have to stay offline for the day so those posts don’t trigger painful and raw emotions.
4. Keep busy. Do something that makes you happy. Gardening, puzzles, reading, hiking, take a day trip ect. Keep busy so your mind doesn’t overload with negative thoughts.
5. Netflix and Chill. It’s okay to stay home and cuddle up all day. Binge watch your favorite show, shut the windows, turn off the lights, eat junk food and do what you need to do. As my TTC friend always says “there is no rule book for grief.”

Going through infertility on Mother’s Day plain sucks and it’s going to hurt like hell. It’s going to hurt like Christmas hurt, like Easter hurts and so many other days, but I am not alone. I will survive like I always do because I am a warrior and I have hope that one day I will be celebrated on Mother’s Day!

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Adopting Baby Coyer

May 4, 2017

By Kansas Fergen

Guest Blogger

Our adoption story began far before my husband and I met. God began working in my heart my sophomore year of high school and continued to plant seeds for the years to come. Danny knew within the first week of meeting me, that adoption was something I knew God was calling me to. He continued to date me, so I knew he was a keeper.

We were married in June 2007, and that July, Danny helped at a worship conference and it was there that God began to work in His heart. The topic of adoption was brought up by various individuals who God undoubtedly placed there, to begin turning Danny’s heart toward adoption. On July 25, 2007, we started the adoption process.

We took some time to research agencies and choose one out out Boise, ID. We realized that we had a lot to learn about the adoption costs and the funding available, international vs. domestic adoptions, the difference between an open and closed adoptions, potential struggles we could face, and the many details and people involved throughout the process.

One of our biggest concerns was the cost. Domestic vs. International, distance to travel, agency fees, age of child, race of child, number of children, travel expenses, lodging, meals, etc. On average, an adoption can cost anywhere from $30,000-$50,000 for international or domestic adoption (adopting from foster care is often times much less), so we began to pray that God would provide for our every need, our finances included. This was a large price tag, especially for a newly married couple, but we also knew that if this was something He called us to do, he would provide. The sticker shock could not be the determining factor in whether or not we went through with an adoption. As we prayed, we did what we could to work a little extra, save, fund raise, look for financial aid. We didn’t just expect that God would just drop a check on our doorstep.

We kept our process a secret for a few weeks before we were ready to tell our close family and friends. They were so excited for us, but with this excitement came a lot of questions and worry. No one in our family had adopted before, so this was new territory for everyone. We reassured them that this was God’s plan for our family and it could take anywhere from 1-5 years, so this was just the start of our adoption journey. At this time we also shared that we made the decision to adopt from Zambia, Africa. Danny spent a month doing ministry there with orphan children and since then, this placed held a very special spot in his heart. It was also one of our options, so that made our decision easy.

On October 1, 2007, we began our home study with a local social worker. She came to our home several times to determine whether or not we would be suitable candidates for adoption.

Our home study consisted of:
Personal/Family background check- including our upbringing, family members, and key events in our lives
Significant people in our lives
Marriage & Family Relationships
Motivation to adopt
Expectations for the child
Health Background
Parenting & integration of the child into our family
Family Environment
Education, employment & finances (including insurance coverage)
References & criminal background clearances
Summary & social worker’s final recommendation

Over the next 3 months we sought financial assistance, completed background checks and physicals, and finished our adoption paperwork. While looking into options for helping cover the cost of our adoption, we learned there were many AMAZING organizations out there that offered financial grants and other assistance. We began to apply for many of these in hopes that this would help cover costs.

Being a waiting family meant that our adoption profile book would be shown to birth mothers that were interested in having us be the parents of their child. This was exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time. I remember sitting at home thinking, what are they going to think about me? What are they NOT going to like about me? Are they going to like my hobbies? What are they going to think about our families? SO many thoughts ran through my head and knowing that a single picture could be the “make or break” of whether or not they chose us to be the parents of their child was sometimes overwhelming. We tried to keep ourselves busy and not think about it constantly, but it was always on my mind. Even though I knew it could be a LONG road ahead, what expectant mother doesn’t get excited and have high hopes? We continued to be in prayer for our little one and their birth parents as the looked through profile books. We focused on praying for their health and their daily needs during pregnancy. We also prayed that God would walk with them during the decisions they too would have to make through this process.

The call that makes your heart stop. June 20, 2008 my heart stopped. Writing this now, brings tears to my eyes. It’s the day I became a mom. It’s the day I heard, “You have been chosen to be the parents to a 9 month old baby boy from Texas, if you decide to say yes.” (Yes? Is that even a question?!?!) I knew the second I saw our agency’s number show up on my phone, this call meant something. It took us zero seconds to know that we were going to say yes ?, but we did take a few minutes to pray together alone in a bedroom away from my family before calling the agency back with our “official” answer. I will never forget that moment, holding onto my husband & sobbing in his arms as all my dreams were coming true. I felt my heart was going to explode and I could not get to Texas fast enough. It was less than a year after starting the adoption process and we were already chosen? How could this be?

Within 20 minutes after our call, we got an email with ALL of his information along with the most adorable pictures I had ever seen. THIS was OUR son. Because it was a Friday, we had to wait 4 days until we could travel to get him because they needed to get his paperwork in place. It was the LONGEST 4 days of my LIFE!!! How could they tell me I had a son and then expect me to wait 4 days to see him? We had no choice, so instead I went crazy packing and getting everything ready for our trip. Of course this included returning some newborn clothes I purchased (Yes, I purchased baby clothes, what expecting mom doesn’t?) and return them for size 9-12 months. NEVER, did I think I would be doing that. It all felt like a dream, but the best dream! On June 23, we started our drive out to Texas full of every kind of emotion possible. We couldn’t wait!

We knocked on the door and Peggy, the foster mom, came to the door empty handed. SUCH SUSPENSE. Where was he? She introduced herself (all of which was a blur) and walked us to the living room. There he was. Standing alongside a coffee table playing with a toy dinosaur. I’m not even sure what I said or did at this point. Honestly, all I can remember is walking towards him and sitting down on the couch right beside him. Being that he was 9 months old, I didn’t want to scare him. Even though I was now his mother, to him I was a stranger.

What he did next will be forever be ingrained in my mind. He turned, put his hand on my knee, and reached up to be held. My son wanted me to hold him without hesitation. There was NO greater feeling than that. I picked him up and time stood still. I remember his smell, the way he looked at me, and how he sat so calmly on my lap. I knew that God was at work calming both of us, reassuring me that I did not need to worry. I was his mom, FOREVER.

We named our son Coyer James Lony’aa. We wanted to keep his birth name as his second middle name. He was Lony’aa “Lony” for the first 9 months of his life, so we always wanted his birth name to be part of his name and story. We spent hours playing with Coyer on the first day and chatting with his foster mom, Peggy. She told us everything about him. We knew without a doubt that she loved him and we were so grateful. Coyer lived with his birth mom and older sister for 7 1/2 months before going to live with Peggy for the remaining 1 1/2 months.

A few hours after arriving Coyer got hungry so Peggy made him a bottle. This was the first opportunity I had feed him and I was NOT going to pass that up. It was a beautiful moment and God proved once again that He is faithful. Coyer took the bottle from me without any problems and Peggy was shocked. He drank slowly while looking up at me and I stared down at him in awe, taking in the moment. When he was done drinking, he laid his head down on my chest and snuggled. MELT. MY. HEART. It was the first moment I FELT like his mom, like I could care for him in the way only a mother cares for her son.

It was a Friday morning, 4 days after arriving in Texas when I got a call from our agency. They told me all the paperwork went through really quickly and we had clearance to take Coyer HOME. Tears of JOY streamed down my face.

Peggy packed up a few of his things that she wanted him to have along with a few things that came from his birth mother. Then it was time. She asked if she could just have a few minutes alone with him, so we went outside to load up the car. A few minutes later she walked out with him. Tears in her eyes, she handed him to me, hugged us, and said she loved him. It was SO hard to see her tears, but we were so thankful for the love that she gave Coyer until we were able to be his forever family. We will forever be grateful for her. One week from when we got “the call” we were driving home with our 9 month old son. GOD IS GOOD!

When we got home our week was filled with LOTS of guests. Our family and friends could not wait to meet him and we had so much fun experiencing life as a family of three. The only communication we would have with Coyer’s birth-mom would be through letters and pictures sent through the agency, so we wrote her monthly over the next 4 years. During that time she sent us a “When you Wonder Book” that told us more about her and why she chose to place Coyer for adoption. We were so thankful to receive this because we knew that when Coyer got old enough, this would be something he would treasure as it would help answer some of his questions.

Several years later we got a call from the agency in Texas letting us know that they were going to be closing down and we had a few options for continued communication with Coyer’s birth-mom. We could either keep the adoption “closed” and no longer communicate with her in any form, go through another social worker and pay for their services, or if we were comfortable we could have an open adoption where we would exchange information and start communicating openly. We knew immediately we would love to have more of an open adoption with her and found out that she wanted the same. Since then we have emailed, exchanged pictures, and texted regularly. It has been a joy to have her and Coyer’s older sister be a part of our life.

If the color of our skin didn’t tell you that our son was adopted, you would never know. He bonded with us, has never had any attachment issues, and is super affectionate. We are so thankful for this. We know our story could have been so different and we could have faced many other challenges, but God worked through them all. Not a day goes by I don’t thank God for this little man and for choosing me to be his mother. He has the most compassionate heart and I know that’s the work of the Lord. I pray that as he grows up he will always know he is loved by not only our family, but his birth-family as well. I pray he will embrace his story and let God work through his life knowing that God has been with him since day one.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

PCO… HUH?

April 25, 2017

So it’s time to go off birth control and expand your family. You’ve got all your ducks in a row… a hot career… check. Taking the stairs, not the elevator… check. Dropped the McDouble, because you know #healthy…check, check. Those ducks haven’t moved and still… nothing. This is an all too common tale in the IF world, but Amanda Fagan is proof that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Amanda (wh0 just happens to be a Doctor) helps us figure out what the heck PCOS is and explains what she did to get her body back on track.  SPOILER ALERT! Amanda is pregnant with not one, but TWO baby boys, due this summer.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome- poorly understood and under diagnosed. But most importantly in my mind, it’s definitely miss-treated.  I was diagnosed with PCOS at the age of 25, after just finishing 4 years of Medical School and learning all about this “disease”.  I was confused, as most other females are when they are initially diagnosed. The biased conception is that all PCOS woman are overweight, diabetic, hairy, and are unable to bear their own children. I’m here to paint a different picture for you, and to give my experience of dealing with PCOS.

The actual medical definition of PCOS is defined by something called the Rotterdam criteria. You need 2 of the following 3 criteria to be diagnosed:

  • Oligo/anovulation (irregular or absent peroids)
  • Hyperandrogenism
    • Clinically- through increased hair growth
    • Biochemical- through blood work showing increased testosterone
  • Polycystic ovaries on ultrasounds

It’s a big misconception that obesity and diabetes is a criteria for PCOS, neither of which I have. I have personally never struggled with weight. I grew up a dancer, and once I got into college I found a love for fitness and staying active. I’ve maintained a BMI around 19-20 most of my entire life and spent 8 years on hormonal birth control pills for control of my hormonal acne.  Little did I know, I was masking a problem that would eventually become noticeable once I stopped the pill in 2015.

Knowing that we wanted to start a family while I was in my Family Medicine residency post- Med School, I stopped the pill in 2015 only to watch the months go by with no bleeding. It took me 8 months before I took the situation in my own hands and decided to seek a different opinion. My OBGYN constantly told me to keep giving it more time, and that it would return on its own, but I knew deep down that 8 months was not normal. It can take 1-3 months for your cycles to return after cessation of a birth control pill, I was almost 3x past that period of “normal”. This is when I decided to seek care of an Infertility Endocrinologist, who performed an ultrasound and lab workup on my very first visit and had my diagnosis that very week. My ultrasound showed 40+ follicles in each ovary, and my labs showed an elevated testosterone level. I actually had met all 3 criteria for PCOS, something I never thought I could actually ever have.

I have a fairly long blog post regarding my infertility journey that you can find here, it’s definitely worth the read if you’re struggling! But one thing I didn’t touch on in my post was the treatment I’ve done to help my PCOS.

  1. Metformin. This has to be prescribed by a physician, and is confusing when you read that it’s a medication for diabetics. Truth be told, PCOS patients typically do have insulin sensitivity, but this does not mean they are diabetic. Insulin is in our bodies to help lower our blood sugar levels. When we have elevated insulin levels, it’s a sign that your body has to work a little harder to lower your sugar compared to the normal individual. Yes, this technically gives you an increased risk of diabetes in the future if you fail to watch your diet, but it by no means makes it a guarantee you’ll get it. High insulin levels signals your body to produce more testosterone, which coincidentally leads to decrease in estrogen levels.  This is where Metformin comes in. Metformin is designed to increase insulin sensitivity, thereby lowering our insulin level over time. Therefore many specialists use Metformin as a first line treatment for PCOS. By decreasing insulin level, decreasing testosterone, and increasing our estrogen- our bodies start to ovulate again and menstrual cycles come back. I’m not saying everyone with PCOS should be on this medication, but it’s considered first line therapy and something that personally helped me regulate cycles.
  2. Diet. It’s all about the lifestyle you choose to live. When I found out about PCOS and the recommendation to try more of a low carb higher fat diet, I did a lot of research before giving it a try. Research shows that healthy monosaturated fats actually help aid in fertility, and following a low carb/higher fat diet results in lower sugar intake. Did you know the American Heart Association recommends a max of 25g of sugar daily for women? I really focused on my sugar intake, consuming only those in natural fruits and veggies. Focusing on a whole foods diet alone is definitely key in my opinion, and I firmly believe it helped regulate my body as a whole to prepare me for conception and pregnancy.
  3. Regular Exercise. Something I always practiced, but I firmly believe increasing your endorphins daily helps significantly with mood and the way you feel. Not to mention, it helps keep your body at a healthy weight! I bounce between Tone it Up, Beach Body, and BBG by Kayla Itsines. I love them all, and I love the variety they all put in my routine.
  4. Educate yourself! This is key. Find forums, talk to your physician, talk with your spouse. Do what you can to educate yourself and those around you, especially if your PCOS is affecting fertility.  Having open communication is key, and your spouse should always be your biggest supporter. I’m so thankful Jason has always been there to listen to my worries, my fears, and support me through all my appointments and struggles.

I hope opening up gives others out there a better insight on PCOS. But most importantly, if you as well are also a PCOS fighter- I want you to realize that it’s not life limiting. I’ve fought it, I’ve worked around it, and found ways to make myself healthier because of it. I’m currently in my second trimester with my first pregnancy, and I couldn’t feel more blessed to be carrying two babies. Learn to love yourself, have the motivation to better yourself, and PCOS won’t seem like such a setback! – Dr. Amanda Fagan

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Girlfriends’ Guide to Diagnosis

April 20, 2017

It was a Tuesday night at 9 pm when I got the email saying my test results were in. Without giving it a second thought, I signed in to review and check them out  before my appointment with my OB/GYN (mistake number one). I read through the results and they all looked as though they were within a normal range except my estradiol, which was flagged abnormal. Naturally, I did what every red blooded, 30 year old, newlywed, ovulation tracking, pregnancy test taking, baby wanting lady would do. I headed straight to Google (oops…mistake numero dos). The first article I came across explained  I had “low ovarian reserve” and that I “may have the best results with IVF and a donor egg”. And this is where I crumbled, googled, crumbled some more, googled some more… you get the point. The more I read, the worse my prognosis got. I was devastated. But I quickly realized sitting in my depression wasn’t going to get me anywhere and  I needed to pull myself up by my bootstraps and do something about it. Granted, everyone is different and what worked for me might not work for the next person. But sitting in bed crying, watching Full House reruns and eating Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream most definitely isn’t going be the magic combination. (Total hypothetical btw, I never did that.)

1.Get Informed

Nope, I don’t mean google. I quickly ditched the internet search engines for Amazon. I bought an array of books that could help educate me on how to deal, how to heal and how to treat. I filled my brain with knowledge as opposed to what Stephanie from Kansas City posted on a infertility forum. The more I read, the more I understood and I was able to come up with a list of questions and concerns for my doctor (heck yea I brought a notebook to my appointment).  One book I highly recommend is, “It Starts with the Egg,” by Rebecca Fett.

2.Talk the Talk (or Don’t)

Some days I would talk, some days I HAD to talk (I may or may not have told total strangers at Target…in the baby section), and some days I couldn’t think about it let alone talk about it. I think the important part is letting your partner, family and friends know where you stand that day. There were mornings I would start the day by telling my husband, “I can’t talk about it today. Let’s see how I am doing tomorrow,” and the next day we would reassess. You are entitled to a day off, but don’t let your day off turn into suppressing your feelings.

3.Take Care of Yourself

I turned my health and well being into my job by coming up with a lifestyle makeover tailored to my diagnosis. I drank the water, ate the greens and my favorite part… got the ZZZs. I tossed the plastic containers, ditched the fragrances and changed my cosmetics. There are so many elements we can’t change as individuals, but I changed the ones I could.

4.Take Control

I needed to find things that made me feel like I had a handle on this. I immediately started acupuncture (per my Doctor’s approval) and began taking a regimen of supplements the acupuncturist recommended. I ordered fertility crystals (hey, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it) and meditated with them for 10 minutes a day and then slept with them under my pillow. I consulted with different Reproductive Endocrinologists throughout the state, coming up with a game plan if we ended up having to go that route. This all gave me a sense of empowerment and made me feel like I can and I will hold my baby at the end of this bumpy road.

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