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A Heart Crushed for Adoption

December 6, 2018

Written by Kelly Briscoe, guest blogger

Adoption.

There’s so much depth in the word adoption.

I knew from a very young age that adoption was going to be part of my story. I’ve felt crushed for it for a long, long time. The Lord has always had it on my heart and now I know why.

When I was dating my husband, Britt, I told him that adoption was something I knew was in my future and he knew it would be something we would do, we just weren’t sure when. Turns out, the reason the Lord had always crushed my heart for adoption was because that was the way He wanted us to grow each little one that would come into our family. I love that so much. He had prepared my heart for adoption in more ways that I can count and that makes me giddy.

Britt and I decided in April of 2017 to begin the adoption process. We knew going in it would be a few things: expensive, long, trying. We had no idea what it would bring and it still surprises me each day, even after bringing our girl home. I thought I knew, and actually I’m glad with how much I’ve learned.

After a lot of Googling, researching, and calling, we decided a consulting agency (that many had recommended) was the direction we felt lead to take. We felt like that was a huge hurdle to jump.

When we finally got our home study approved – it was such an amazing feeling. We made and completed our profile book that was going to be shown to potential birth families. That was such an emotional process. 16 pages of us. We included a letter to potential expectant mamas and we prayed over each beautiful woman who would hold our book. We wanted her to know she was loved and chosen by the one and only. I can’t imagine having to make such a huge decision for your baby based only on 16 pages from a stranger. The weight of that truth is insane.

So profile book done, paperwork done – it was time to start presenting to potential expectant mamas. After talking with our agency, we were anticipating waiting for a good while before hearing “yes, they chose you.” We were sure it would be a while, so we prepared and fundraised (I could talk about this all day because GOD SHOWED UP). We got our first case the day after we went active. Seeing the email come through lead to a rush of emotions!! We praised God because it felt like we would never get there, but here we were, stalking our emails, praying like crazy, and soaking it all in. People ask me all the time how I knew when it was time to say yes to a case. I actually don’t know. I just felt this feeling. So we said yes. We got a call at 8:30pm from our consultant on a Wednesday night. “Mama C chose you!!!” And then tears and tears and more tears. Freaking out. Then more tears. We were so unbelievably grateful for Eleanor’s birth mother had chosen us to be her parents.

Let me tell you one thing to NEVER take for granted in the adoption process. The amazing birth mama, our Mama C. Think about the gift (no really, sit and think) and tell me they’re not completely and utterly amazing. This beautiful woman read our book and decided we would be the ones to raise her baby. Not only that – she would allow this family to be in the room when her tiny babe came into the world. She would let this family cut the cord from her to her baby. Lord Almighty can only write that story. We’re so crazy in love with Eleanor’s birth mama. God gave us each other. We’re so thankful He did. I could speak about this all day long, friends.

Adoption is truly something else. Something that’s hard to describe but it can be both beautiful and hard for everyone in the triad. There’s only one who could knit such a stunning story and process. One Heavenly Father that would bring two families together. One God that would know this is what our hearts need. Not just a daughter to hold, but a birth mother to love, a community to cherish, and a God to thank and praise each day. It brought us so much further in our faith and I am so in awe of that.

So here’s what I suggest if you’re thinking about the adoption process:

  • Take the time and really listen to what the Lord is saying.
  • Pray like you’ve never prayed before.
  • Find your people. Trust me when I say that you need people that understand what you’re going through. Even if it’s just one person. Find them. Don’t let them go.
  • If you hear Him say yes, don’t ignore it. Be kinda scared, but listen like it’s your job. Don’t turn Him down. He’ll make it happen – you just need to say yes.
  • Be the light of the Lord in all that you do during the process.

Starting or being in the adoption process can be intimidating, scary, amazing. If you have questions or just need to chat, please feel free to reach out to me. I would be so honored kellyhallbriscoe@gmail.com.

You can also find Kelly on Instagram!

 

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Dear Family and Friends, Part 2

November 26, 2018

Written by Heather, Guest Blogger

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

June 25

We are not pregnant. Thank you for your prayers.

Allen & Heather

Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

July 17

Hello Family and Friends,

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

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

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

And we can’t help but ask ourselves….

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

Why we aren’t good enough?

Why can they have kids and not us?

Did we do something wrong in our past life?

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

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

When will it be our turn?

Are we being punished?

So where does that leave us now?

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

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

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

Prayer Request:

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

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

Much Love,

Allen and Heather

Romans 12:12

July 26

Our Egg Retrieval Day!

Specific prayer request:

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

Thank you for your prayers,

Allen and Heather

 

July 28

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

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

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

***Please pray for our embryos***

Thank you,

Allen & Heather

 

August 4

Hello Family and Friends,

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

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

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

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

Much Love,
Heather & Allen

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

October 1

Another bump in our road…a BIG bump!

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

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

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

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

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

Much Love,

Heather & Allen

 

November 8

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

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

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

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

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

Allen and Heather

 

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Baby Brother On Deck

November 19, 2018

Written by Kate Starrett, Guest Blogger

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Don’t worry, it gets crazier. 

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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Dear Family and Friends

November 16, 2018

Written by Heather, Guest Blogger

Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing a three part series taking a closer look at one couple’s journey to starting their family! These journal entries share the ups and downs of the roller coaster that is trying to have a baby when you’re walking the path of infertility. If you are also walking that path, may you be encouraged and know you are not alone.

January 21

Dear Family and Friends,

Many of you know the infertility struggles that Allen and I have faced for the past two years. We want to bring you up to date and ask for your prayers and support as we move forward on this journey.

We were referred by my OBGYN to a fertility specialists. After our first meeting, they ran several tests on my fallopian tubes and decided to begin with the IUI treatment.

After our 2nd IUI procedure, we were pregnant. We were blessed to have a baby and to see its heartbeat every week for four weeks. We were shocked and confused when we lost our baby at 9 weeks. It was our “graduation day” from the clinic. There are no words to express how you feel after losing a baby. The doctors then had to perform a D & C to remove tissue in my cervix.  We had genetic testing done and discovered that we lost our baby because he or she had too many chromosomes. Dr. K said that was the best news for a horrible situation. It is very common in miscarriages and hopefully that will not happen again.

After waiting three months for my body to recover, we immediately tried with another IUI, feeling hopeful since we had just gotten pregnant. Unfortunately our 3rd and 4th IUIs did not work. We then meet with Dr. K to discuss our next steps. He suggested a Double IUI- a higher more advanced approach. After our 5th and 6th IUIs we still were not pregnant.

This brings you up to date. Because of our 6 failed IUIs and my age we have made the decision to move forward with IVF.

We ask that you please continue to keep us in your prayers. We want more than anything in the world to be parents. Allen and I have prayed so hard for so long that we need others to pray with us and for us. We are struggling with God’s plan and don’t understand why He is putting us through so much emotional, physical, mental and financial heartache. We need help and support from our family and friends. We are an open book and want/need people to ask where we are in our journey. I will continue to keep you updated through email and will ask you to pray for specific things throughout our process.

Much Love,

Allen & Heather

photo by: tatiana

March 2

Well, tomorrow (Tuesday, March 3) is a BIG day!

Allen and I will be at the surgery center at 7:15 a.m. for my egg retrieval.

Prayer request at this time:

  1. That Allen and I can remain calm. The Dr. did prescribe me a Valium for tonight to help me sleep. That was very thoughtful! Allen was wondering why they don’t give the husband one, too.
  2. That the Dr. get lots of beautiful and healthy eggs.
  3. That my eggs fertilize with the sperm and we get some amazing embryos.
  4. That our embryos grow until Day 5 (that’s the best situation). If they are ready at Day 3, they will transfer then.

Much Love,

Allen & Heather

 

March 4

Yesterday’s egg retrieval went well. They put me under, so obviously I don’t remember a thing, except for when the ceiling started to look 3-D.

Dr. K came to see me in the recovery room to tell me that he got out 8 eggs, and he thought 6 were good in size, but we would have to wait to hear from the embryologist on Wednesday (today).

When I got home yesterday, I pretty much slept all day. I did have some pain and discomfort, but nothing unbearable. Dr. A. has been a great caregiver with pills, meals, and loving support!

It was recommended that I stay home today to rest because I may still be sore and uncomfortable. It’s not too bad. I have been anxiously awaiting the embryologist phone call.

SOOOO, the embryologist just called and told me that Dr. K had removed 8 eggs (which we knew), and that 5 were mature. But the better part is that all of my eggs fertilized through ICSI.

Not all eggs will fertilize, so that’s awesome news!!! Now we wait again to see how our fertilized eggs grow.

Prayers are still needed!!! The journey isn’t over yet.

  1. That our precious five eggs continue to grow strong and mighty! And that they make it to Day 5!
  2. That Allen and I can remain calm and stay positive!
  3. That the embryologist is watching our eggs carefully and taking good care of them!

Thank you all for your love, support and prayers! The Lord hears your prayers, and we feel them everyday!

Allen & Heather

 

March 5

Well, The embryologist just called and it was not what we wanted to hear. I’m in tears as I type this and need to understand God’s plans for us. We need prayers now more than ever!

Here’s today’s report on our 5 embryos:

1 embryo- scored a B+ (on an A-D chart). “Good not excellent” according to the embryologist.

1 embryo- scored a B+ (on an A-D chart).  “Good not excellent” according to the embryologist.

1 embryo- is moving slow

1 embryo- is moving slow

1 embryo- is a low grade

So, at this point we have 2 embryos that they will transfer on Day 3, tomorrow.  The Dr. said that they will do better in their own environment at this stage.

Prayers:

  1. That the embryos continue to grow stronger by tomorrow. They could change grades in 24 hrs. So let’s pray for them to stay at a B+, or move up to an A.
  2. That Allen and I can stay calm and hopeful.
  3. That the Dr. performs a good and easy transfer tomorrow.
  4. **** That our two beautiful embryos will stick to my uterus wall and we will begin our family.

Thank you for your prayers.

Allen and Heather

 

 March 6

This morning I woke up with lots of anxiety but felt comfortable once we saw the Dr.

We were told that our 2 embryos both had 8 cells each, which is the best outcome.

One embryo remained a B+ and other dropped to a B-.

Dr. B assured us that our embryos looked healthy and that lots of women have success with Day 3 transfers. The transfer went well and was not painful.

I am now at home on strict bed rest until Monday.  They recommend a stress free environment with laughter.  So Allen has hooked up the DVD player in our bedroom so I can binge on my favorite series, “The Golden Girls.” I have the complete box set.

Thank you for your continued support, prayers, and sweet messages. They have meant so much to us!

We are now in the “dreaded 2 week wait.” We will keep you posted. So no more   daily reports for a while!

Prayer request still needed:

  1. That our two healthy embryos will stick to my uterine wall.
  2. And that we have a healthy baby(s) developing.
  3. That the other two embryos that were rated “slow moving” will continue to grow so that they can be frozen.

Much Love,

Allen & Heather

photo by: cinthia

March 16

Allen and I are not pregnant.

I started bleeding yesterday and called the nurse. She asked that I come in today and have my HCG (pregnancy hormone) tested. Sometimes women can bleed, but still have a positive test.

I received the phone call today around 3:15. I think in my mind I knew this morning that our IVF process didn’t work, but I was in denial. I couldn’t accept it until the phone call came in. The nurse didn’t have any information for me. She just told me that my levels were 0 and at this stage they should be over 500. She said that Dr. K would be calling me this week to discuss our situation.

I’m not sure where we go from here. We do have one frozen embryo. (B+)

Allen and I are angry, confused, hurt, devastated, shocked, pissed, scared…. And so much more right now.

We need your prayers. Prayers for us to stay hopeful and not to lose our faith.

Allen & Heather

 

May 28

And so the journey continues….

After our failed IVF in March Dr. K informed us that all of our stats were above average. He went on to say that unfortunately no Dr. in the world knows what happens to those embryos once that are released into the uterus. All of our reports showed a successful outcome.

Dr. K recommended I wait one month to do our frozen embryo transfer procedure. He believes that our one frozen embryo has the same positive stats as our two fresh embryos. That was good news! So, if we waited one month that would put us doing the transfer at the end of April …and well let’s just say that is a tough “stressful” time for a teacher. So we decided to let our little embryo “chill” in the freezer for another month.

I was instructed to call when my cycle began in May. On May 8, I called the nurse, super pumped about starting the next phase and thinking the transfer would be this week, May 28! To my surprise, I was informed that the lab was closed for the entire month of May! WHAT? The lab closed? For an entire month? How is that possible? So, here we go again, taking a step backwards…the next day I was put on birth control. Talk about a hormonal ride! This now bumped us another month– June!

Yesterday began the next part of our journey. I went in for my baseline ultrasound and blood work for our frozen egg transfer. I started my Estrogen pills today and go back in on June 11 for another ultrasound and blood work. At this point we are watching my uterus lining and trying to thicken it. They are also checking for any cysts.

With all that being said, Allen and I have been on this emotional journey for 27 months. We have had 6 IUIs, one pregnancy with a miscarriage (a year ago June 3), one failed IVF with two fresh embryos, and we are still holding onto our faith. We constantly remind ourselves and each other that God has a plan for us. Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the PLANS I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to PROSPER you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a FUTURE.”

I’m not telling you this so you can feel sorry for us. I’m telling you this because we need your prayers as we continue to move forward in this journey. We want to hear that our family and friends are praying with us.

-Allen and Heather

 

photo by: Nisha

June 16

Thank you all for your sweet and encouraging emails, calls, and texts.  They mean so much to us.

Today was our big day!  We arrived at the Surgery Center at 10am where they took my blood work, checked my vitals, and gave me a Valium.  When Dr. K came in to our room he said that Dr. D (the embryologist) told him that this embryo was going to get us pregnant. He also told us that this embryo looked as good, if not better, than our two fresh embryos. Our frozen embryo was rated a B+ or 4BA.  (4AA is consider perfect)

The transfer went smoothly and Dr. K was very pleased. My uterus was already tilted, which is very helpful. He said only about a 1/3 are naturally positioned that way. So, now I’m on bed rest with the Golden Girls, books, and color sheets. (New studies show that adult coloring relieves stress) Allen is taking good care of me…he’s incredibly patient, loving, and supportive. I thank God for blessing me with such a strong man to stand beside me on this journey.

Please continue to pray that our embryo implants perfectly to my uterine wall.  Please pray that it grows and develops without flaw and that we deliver a healthy baby in the time frame that is needed.

Much Love,

Allen & Heather

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10 Tips for Navigating Adoption

November 13, 2018

Are you just starting out on your adoption journey? Or know someone who is? It can be an overwhelming thing when you are beginning the process and are looking at mounds of paperwork, a looming home study, and questions (from you and everyone else!)

We have asked some mamas who have walked the path of adoption for their advice to anyone starting an adoption journey and wanted to share some of their tips with you!

10 TIPS FOR NAVIGATING ADOPTION:

  1. COMMUNITY:  “Surround yourself now with a community of people who love you and support your journey—you’ll need that support and encouragement along the way.”
  2. PATIENCE:  “Manage your expectations going in, and prepare yourself to be extremely patient.”
  3. MARRIAGE: “If you have a significant other, try as hard as you can to stay on the same page. This journey is hard on the heart, mind, and body – so communication and support are incredibly important!”
  4. OPENNESS: “Your child’s adoption story is theirs, don’t share with everyone. It’s the child’s to share if they decide. Also – if you are considering an open adoption, think about what openness means for you and your family.”
  5. ORGANIZATION:  “Keep copies of EVERYTHING! Many forms require the same information to be entered, so staying organized and having documentation you’ll need over and over again is imperative.”
  6. EMOTIONS: “Be prepared for a roller coaster of emotions – happy, sad, frustrated, excited and mostly patience! Research your options and research medical issues as much as you are able, so you can prepare as well as possible for the future.”
  7. HOME STUDY: “Home Study’s are a breeze- just complete your paperwork ASAP! Also it’s a great idea to have your finances in place before you go live (or at least have a plan!)  There are lots of great ideas for fundraising out there, too!”
  8. RESEARCH: “Research, research and research some more the agency you want to go with!!! Do not just call the references they give you.  Do as much research as you can, but also trust your gut.”
  9. ENJOY THE JOURNEY: “It’s a journey! This means it can be exciting, scary and bumpy and then back to exciting. Some unexpected turns will arise, so pack your bags for the unexpected.”
  10. BREATHE:  “Take a deep breathe and try to stay as calm as you can! Everything happens for a reason and will lead you to your child.”

If you have any other questions about where to begin on your adoption journey, feel free to reach out!  Adoption is an adventure, and it truly does take a village!

Whether you’re just starting or in the middle of your adoption journey, be sure to follow us on Instagram! There are lots amazing adoptive mamas on Instagram where you’ll find encouragement and a community who truly understands! 

 

 

Babe In My Arms, Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Infertility and the Road to Comedy

October 18, 2018
Written by Meirav Z, guest blogger and creator of “Inconceivable”
I never thought I’d one day talk so much about infertility.  And it would be about me.  And I definitely never would’ve guessed it could be funny.
So first off, blogging isn’t easy for me. I’d much rather stand on a stage in front of lots of people with a bright spotlight on me.  Really.
My name is Meirav (pronounced May-rahv).  I’ve experienced unexplained infertility and unexplained secondary infertility for a total of about 10 years, including hormone shots (for those who aren’t familiar– those are needles, not drinks), countless examination with that overly-evasive and completely unmagical vaginal wand, industrial amounts of lube, awkward IUI’s, surreal IVF, heartbreaking miscarriages, emotions galore, and everything else that’s very familiar to the ttc community— a community which I only became aware of this past year.
Professionally, I’m in theater, so I’m familiar with putting on a happy face and having that show-must-go-on attitude. And maybe now you can better understand how it’s easier for me to stand in front of a crowd and talk about my private parts and mood bungee-jumps than to write a blog about it.  Yes, “you” as in the one reading this.  Hi there. I know for a fact we already have at least one if not many things in common, and that’s so amazing that it’ll just help get me through writing this.
I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and as a young adult and adult, I was very aware pregnancy (you have sex = you get pregnant, it’s in all the books, sex-ed classes, movies, songs….How could anyone imagine it not being so?) When I was actually ready to have kids, I was shocked it didn’t happen immediately after my husband and I stopped using birth control.  It took us a long while to figure out that maybe we had some sort of problem.  Did I take birth control for too long?  Was there something that I missed in Sex Ed?? Nobody around us talked about this as an issue, we didn’t know this was something that affected so many couples.  This was all taking place in Israel, where I live now.  It’s a very family-oriented country, but we never really heard anything about problems while family-making.  We were totally clueless, and it took me a while to get over the embarrassment and shame and guilt and contact a doctor to inquire.  I mean, how were we not doing it right?!  I had a couple of miscarriages during that time as well.  Ugh, that horrible feeling of failure…  The doctor’s response was an immediate “oh, this happens to lots of couples, don’t worry about it” and we were sent to start fertility testing.
All the testing showed that everything was fine and in working order with the both of us, so we got the explanation of “unexplained infertility”— The thing you can’t pinpoint and fix because you don’t know what it is.  So off we went to fertility treatment.  I know, I just made it sound like we were skipping and hopping along with joyous background music. Nope. So how can you treat what you don’t know is malfunctioning? Well, with extra hormones, scheduled sex, and lots of intervention by medical personnel who are also complete strangers, of course!  I know, sounds exactly like a sexy resort vacation.
I remember that we were at this tiny fertility/IVF clinic, it was practically a hallway with a couple of chairs.  I was about to begin fertility treatments towards an IUI, all of this being a completely top secret assignment from anyone besides my husband and me, of course.  The nurse gave me a detailed explanation on how to self-administer the hormone shots with this special kit I was given.  I had to start on the third day of menstruation (“Day 3” later became known as this magical day for anything fertility-related). I listened very carefully, I even took notes.  I was a good student, I was going to ace this thing.  Then, sure enough I started getting my period, and I knew could finally begin the sure-to-work treatment in only 2 days.  But then my period wasn’t really, and something seemed off. I called the clinic and spoke with the nurse.  She had me come in and take another blood test, just to be sure.  Later that day the nurse called, congratulating me that I was pregnant, naturally!  We were amazed and so happy, and I got a speedy graduation from the fertility clinic, I felt like a star student.
My husband and I had our amazing daughter and felt overjoyed.
And then we wanted another child, and there we were “trying” again with no pregnancy.  Why?? This time we knew to go back to the fertility doctor right away.  We were then labeled as having “unexplained secondary infertility”, which is like “Really-Unexplained Infertility” or “Unexplained Infertility: The Revenge”.  We got ready to start treatment once again (well, for the first time, technically), and then I found out how little I knew about fertility treatments. I knew nothing. This time, I was waiting for that Day 3, totally thinking I’ll be pregnant again minutes before administering that first hormone shot.  But not this time.  This time I had to go through with it.  And then some.  So many shots, several failed IUI’s, then IVF. Remember that tiny IVF hallway-clinic I mentioned eariler?  Now it was already a few years after that first visit, and that clinic had expanded to be huge and shiny with nice leather couches and sliding glass doors… So many people going through IVF now.
The hormones and fertility treatments were too much at one point.  It was a huge strain on our family, and on our marriage.  We decided to take a break and just enjoy and appreciate what we have, and our daughter will have to make do without a sibling.  A couple of years later, which was about 2 years ago, I found out I was pregnant. Naturally again, and I found out pretty late in.  But within about a 2 week period we got on an insane fertility roller-coaster: Found out about the pregnancy, heard the heartbeat for the first time, and then didn’t hear a heartbeat. We were shocked, crying, I had to get a D&C.  No words.  But we got through it.
My husband always wanted me to talk about all of this with someone, and I wouldn’t.  I just couldn’t.  But then, after that last crazy roller-coaster loop, I decided to try.  But how??  I started collecting all my thoughts on paper, and when thinking about it, I found lots of comedic moments.  That fertility roller coaster is so surreal at times, it’s funny.  I had figured what worked for me.  So I invited some friends over to my house one night, they didn’t even know what they were coming for.  And there I was, telling them my fertility journey.  What it really means.  Everything you have to do, everything that’s done to you, all the feelings involved.  And being an actress who loves comedy, I presented it to them using characters, songs, and lots of humor. I was so nervous, I think I was sitting down reading from my paper the whole time.
When I was done I was so relieved that I got through it, now everyone could go home and that was that.  But instead, they all started telling me I need to turn this into a real show.  And even more surprising, they stayed over for a long time afterwards, because they all started TALKING.  They started to open up about their own related stories, that other friends in the room didn’t really know about.  And there suddenly was this deeper understanding and connection.  That’s when I knew this was worth exploring.  Because it got people talking about this thing nobody ever really talks about. Honestly and openly. And it got people laughing, too.  It’s like the comedy broke the ice of this taboo.
My husband wasn’t in the room that night, I made him stay in the area near our daughter’s bedroom to make sure she wouldn’t wake up and hear random songs and phrases about vaginas, sex, and other child-inappropriate content.  When everyone eventually left that night, he came up to me and just said he had no clue what that evening was about, he only managed to hear bits and pieces, but he was so proud of me and hugged me.  We stood there hugging for a good long while.  He’s been my biggest fan and best partner from the beginning. Infertility is so hard on men, too.  And yes, I’m crying as I’m typing this.
So fast forward about a year later, I now have a new show (this time it’s a solo show… about my personal stuff… yikes), titled Inconceivable: The Totally True One-Woman Semi-Fertile Quasi-“Musical”.
I have the privilege of performing it on stages big and small, including the National Theatre of Israel, and will be making a U.S. debut this October at the world’s largest solo performance festival, the United Solo Theatre Festival in the heart of New York City’s theater district.  My performance already sold out and I’ve been fortunate to receive an additional show date!  It’s crazy!  But crazy good, because now I’m on a mission to get more people talking about infertility, and laughing, and talking some more.  I’m learning about others who are on this mission in their own way, and it’s great.  More talking will create more awareness, and more awareness will drop that associated stigma, help educate, and make necessary changes or lead to advancements.
I’ve performed this show numerous times by now, essentially telling my story over and over again, and despite all the comedy it’s still very challenging.  But I keep doing it for the sole reason of what happens after each performance.  The live experience with this show is so energetic, it’s completely different from reading something or watching a screen which can be powerful in their own right, and this live energy is even more true for the complex topic of infertility.  The response for the show is amazing.  Some audience members find me after the show and tell me directly.  Most confide how they’ve experienced similar journeys and it’s so good to know they’re not the only ones, some thank me for educating them on what their children or friends are going through or have gone through, some are medical professionals who got some clarity to the patients’ side of things, and some just relate to the show in one form or another.  I’ve learned so much from the whole process of this show, both professionally and personally.
I have this guest book where people can write their thoughts, reactions, etc. after seeing the show, which I love reading after I pack up each performance.  One audience member wrote that people all over the world should see this.  And it’s true, people all over the world are going through the same things other people are, and may not even know it.  Thousands of miles apart feeling lonely but in reality so close.  And all of it boils down to the fact that we can all connect on one if not many levels, just like you and I already have things in common, which I find to be so exciting and empowering. I hope anyone reading this can identify with that.
Babe In My Arms, Babe In My Belly, Babe In My Heart, Blogs

The Thyroid – Fertility Connection

October 4, 2018

Written byAlyssa Hustedt, guest blogger

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

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

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

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

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

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

SO what can you do to support your thyroid gland?  

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

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

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Dear Baby

September 11, 2018

Written By, Katherine Goodman

Dear Baby,

I thought I had it all figured out. I knew exactly what would happen. After being married for 2 years, we would have you, and then every 18-24 months, I’d have another baby, and we’d complete our family with probably 4 children, before I turned 30 years old. You would have dark hair, your dad’s olive skin, my big smile, light brown eyes, and a butt chin (that your dad and I both have). I was in my young 20’s when I made this plan and didn’t realize, sometimes life doesn’t go the way you think it will.

I remember coming off of birth control around my 2 year anniversary mark, as promised, and assuming I was already pregnant. I cried to your dad, ‘Oh my gosh. I am probably pregnant! What if I am not actually ready for this afterall?!’ And then I was incredibly shocked when I ended up not being pregnant, again and again, and again. That’s okay. I was still young and we weren’t actively trying, so no big deal – I knew it would happen soon enough.

After 1 year of not trying, but not preventing, I grew worried. All of your aunts and uncles, and grandparents, and my cousins, conceived so easily.  I went into my doctor’s office, and was given the basics on when to properly time everything to try to get pregnant. Your dad and I tried that for another year with no pregnancy.

We were a few years in at this point and you still showed no inkling of coming any time soon. I tried every diet. I lost a bunch of weight. I bought all the proper vitamins. I went to the doctor again and this time I had blood work done on me, and we had your dad checked for some things too. Your dad came back fine but I was told my progesterone was a little low. I was instructed to try taking clomid.

I remember swallowing that pill for the first time and having a similar reaction to when I came off birth control years before, ‘I can’t believe it. This pill is going to get pregnant. And on the first month too!’ But it didn’t work. We tried for 3 months with clomid and nothing came of it (except for me being really grumpy, and having a lot of headaches).

The doctor recommended we move onto inuterine insemination (IUI). Okay – so THIS TIME. Definitely this time. I just KNEW it would work on the first try. My hormones were perfect. Dad’s sample was perfect. I had 3 perfectly sized follicles growing. I left the doctors office that day and wrote a letter to you about how the procedure went, etc. etc. And then… not pregnant. We tried a 2nd IUI and still, not even a whisper of a pregnancy. My doctor said there was no reason that I wasn’t getting pregnant and labeled me as UNEXPLAINED INFERTILITY.

At this point, I figured the problem was my doctors office and we consulted with several new doctors (one doctor told me to keep trying IUI’s – fired; another doctor attempted a min-stim IVF but monitored my hormones so poorly that there was no way I could have ever become pregnant – fired). Finally, we found a clinic that we felt confident would help us find you.

We had wonderful family members and friends who helped us save for this expensive treatment. We attempted an IVF through this new clinic. This time, I was not confident like I had been in the past, especially when they told me my embryos were poor quality. 6 years of failed treatments taught me that it hurts too much to get my hopes up. And so this time, especially when I felt no symptoms, I was positive I was NOT pregnant. And then I got the phone call from the doctor’s office. The nurse surprised me when she said, “You’re pregnant!” Tears filled my eyes. Finally. FINALLY. We were going to have our baby. However, my HCG # was low at 21, which wasn’t a great sign. I still felt hopeful, and surprised your dad (even though he knew we’d get the results that day) with a baby onesie. My numbers continued to rise, but over the next couple weeks, I began bleeding. We went in for our 6 week ultrasound, terrified. We could see on the monitor that I had lost the baby. We were crushed. Your dad and I cried into each others arms for many, many nights.

A year passed and my doctor said he suspected I had endometriosis. I went in for surgery to diagnose and clear out scar tissue and the doctor told me, not only did I have endometriosis, but that it was stage 4, all over my insides. He cleared it out and then put me on a drug called Depot Lupron to treat any endometriosis he couldn’t reach. I took the medication for 3 months. We attempted IVF a 2nd time, and were able to fund it thanks to some very kind and generous friends who offered to pay for our medication. Luckily, my egg quality looked so much better. This would be it. All this work. All these years. It came down to this. I waited the 10 days and received the highly anticipated phone call, “You’re pregnant… but your number is low… just like last time.” An HCG over 5 is considered pregnant (though, generally, over 50 is considered a good sign). My number was a 5.1. I begged the nurse to let me quit the meds but she told me to continue. So I did. Maybe we’d receive a miracle. I read of a lot of miracles on the internet. Maybe I’d be so lucky too. My numbers increased for a week, and then plummeted. I miscarried again.

My doctor tested me for a gene mutation MTHFR (which not only did I test positive for, but so did your dad!). We tweaked our vitamins (taking folate instead of folic acid, adding in special b-vitamins, and baby aspirin), and we also tested me for elevated Natural Killer Cells, which I also tested positive for (some say that elevated NKC can cause miscarriage). I didn’t think I could handle another IVF/miscarriage, especially with the hole it was burning in my pocket, but with all these answers, your dad and I said we would give it one last try. At that same time, your dad and I entered an IVF Giveaway and were one of the 7 lucky couples who won. We had to pay for the pricey medication so it took a long time before we were ready to proceed with our final IVF attempt. But we did. We were scared. It had been 9 years of trying to have you. Once again, even after all the attempts to improve egg quality, my egg quality was worse than ever. But we had 1 embryo that fought so hard and it was good enough to transfer (with an additional embryo that was only so-so). The doctor transferred both embryos and once again, we had to wait the dreaded 10 days to see if we were pregnant. I started an intralipid treatment to try to suppress my immunity from miscarriage. The clinic called me on that 10th day and said, “You’re pregnant… but your number is low.” No. No. NO. This time my HCG was at a 38. Better than I’ve ever had, but still low. However, they monitored me for another 2 weeks and my numbers rose beautifully. I hesitantly allowed myself to think, maybe, just maybe, this time it would work.

The morning of our 6 week ultrasound, I began bleeding, as soon as I entered the doctors office. I began hyperventilating and the ultrasound showed a pregnancy, but no heartbeat. I prayed that the bleeding was nothing to worry myself with, but the doctor confirmed, our baby died. Not only had the baby died, but they recommended I do an immediate D&C so that they could take the pregnancy tissue from inside me and test the baby for chromosomal abnormalities (since we had never tested our embryos to see if they were chromosomally normal or not). They worried that if I waited, that I would pass the baby at home, and then I’d never have answers on the health of the baby. I agreed to do the surgery that same day. It was one of the hardest days of my life. At home that night, I sobbed. I had thought it was finally time to grow our family and the reality of knowing it still wasn’t time, crushed me.

We found out later, the baby we lost was a boy, and also chromosomally normal.

So. It’s been 10 years now. Our doctor has recommended we don’t use my eggs for another IVF so we are debating using donor eggs, or trying an embryo adoption, adoption, or foster care. Though we have grieved so much over our losses over the years, we have learned even more that we still want YOU. You weren’t one of the babies we lost, however, you’ve been with us the entire time. I have felt your heart and your spirit surround us, when we have endured some of our saddest moments. One time, during my first yoga class after my miscarriage, in the final pose, I lay down and had my hands resting open beside me and I could have sworn, there was a small hand settled within my hand.

We know you’ll come to us at the right time, and in a specific way. Your story has already begun and you haven’t even been created yet. When you are finally in our arms, I can promise you, it will be the happiest day of our lives. I have no idea what you’ll end up looking like, but I feel confident (this time I really mean it) that I will recognize your heart and spirit when I see you for the first time. Thank you for being with us, and for being patient as we walk this path. The pain of the past, will all be worth it, when we stare into YOUR unique, beautiful face. You’ve taught me that timing is everything, to be kind to others because we’re all fighting a battle, to be patient because good things are coming, and to enjoy each and every day since they are all a gift.

Even still.

You are so totally grounded for making us wait this long. I am kidding, of course. But please come to us soon. I can’t wait to kiss your cheeks, stare into your eyes, give my entire heart to you, and watch you experience life. From now, until my dying day, I will be thinking of you always.

With Love,

Your mama

 

 

 

Learn more about Katherine on her

YouTube Channel 

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Timing is Everything: How Ava Helped a Thousand Women

August 24, 2018

It’s true that for some couples, getting pregnant is as easy as one night of fun. But, here’s the dirty little secret that we don’t talk about: It’s not always that easy for everyone because conceiving is really all about timing. No, not only the big picture timing of family and career planning, but also timing in the cycle. When you know your cycle, you can double your chances of conceiving, and Ava’s technology helps women do just that.

Ava recently confirmed that more than 1,000 babies from around the world have been born from women using the company’s cycle tracking Ava bracelet to help them conceive. The first Ava baby, Jace McGee, born in St. George, Utah, was announced in August 2017, and the company’s first “celebrity Ava baby,” Emerson Tolbert (daughter of “The Bachelor/Bachelor in Paradise” stars Jade & Tanner Tolbert) was born last fall.

Using sensor technology, this bracelet can monitor key health measures and determine a woman’s unique fertility window in real time, , all while she simply wears it during sleep. Women sync it with the Ava app in the morning, avoiding the hassles, mess and invasiveness of other fertility tracking methods like ovulation strips and BBT thermometers. The Ava bracelet was proven ,in a recently concluded clinical study at the University Hospital of Zurich, to detect an average of 5.3 fertile days per cycle—in real time—with 89 percent accuracy.

Hear from the women whose journey to motherhood was possible with the help of Ava:

Lauren
Lauren welcomed her baby boy Landon after years of struggling with painful and debilitating endometriosis. Managing this condition was difficult, involving multiple surgeries and the possibility of infertility. She said, “When I thought about getting pregnant originally, I thought you just went to it and you try and you prayed for the best. But with Ava, I got to see that you could see what was happening from your pulse, from your body temperature, from how much sleep you’re getting. I realized that there were so many other components that went into it that I never knew or even thought to know beforehand.”

Briana
Briana, like many women, thought it would be easy to get pregnant. She even says, “My mom always said with her and my dad, the second they tried, the next month she would be pregnant, so I thought it would be the same for us. But, it didn’t really turn out that way.” She adds, “I had been trying all these other things for 11 months unsuccessfully, and the first cycle I use Ava, we become pregnant, finally.” She also found that, “The most important thing I learned about my cycle is that I was ovulating a week outside of when my fertility apps told me when I was ovulating, so that was definitely the biggest and most important factor of all.” Briana welcomed her baby girl Ariana earlier this year.

Jade
Jade, a contestant on the Bachelor, started trying to conceive shortly after getting married but felt like she didn’t quite understand how to approach the process. She found that, “I think one of the biggest misconceptions that I had about trying to conceive and ovulation is that I thought you had about a 48-hour window to get pregnant, and so I thought it was really hard to get pregnant. And using the bracelet, I found out that there are actually five or six days, and that just gave me some relief to know that there is more time that I actually could get pregnant.” After two cycles of using Ava, she was pregnant, and she welcomed her baby girl Emerson last year.

Lindsay
Lindsay, who works for Ava, found that even with all the knowledge of fertility and cycle tracking, there were still bumps along the road. After experiencing a miscarriage, it took another three cycles before she was pregnant. She says “The nice thing about Ava is that there are so many things that are outside of your control when you’re trying, and it can be really stressful. But, I knew that at least the thing I had control over—timing intercourse around ovulation—I had under control, and I could cross that off my list, and that was the thing I didn’t have to worry about.” Lindsay welcomed her baby boy Wyatt in May 2018.

Dafne
Dafne welcomed the first Ava baby in Spain. After trying for months without success, she turned to Ava and was pregnant within in her first cycle. She says, “I can definitely say that the Ava bracelet was my amulet in this process, helping me complete my dreams and never could I have imagined it would be so simple and fast.” She also found that Ava continued to help her during pregnancy, sharing “I continued to wear Ava while I was pregnant because it gave me control, and I could download the charts and share them with medical professionals.” Dafne welcome her baby boy Luca earlier in 2018.

Rebekah
Rebekah welcomed the first Ava baby in the U.K. She found out she was pregnant just before celebrating her 25th birthday, and she says, “My favorite thing about using Ava is that everything is all in one place. You’re not trying to collect all these bits of data separately and then put them all together yourself. You just open up the app, and it’s all there.” She also found that the Aa communities supportive, saying “It’s really nice to speak to other people going through the same things, so you can all obsess about your [Ava] graphs together.” Rebekah welcomed her baby boy Benjamin in March 2018.

Sabrina
Sabrina welcomed the first Ava baby in Switzerland. She began using Ava after her first child was born and was trying for a second child. She says, “I breastfed my firstborn for a long period, which had had a big impact on my cycle. So, when I wanted to get pregnant again, I wanted to avoid any frustration during this process this time around. I really wanted to be sure to use an efficient and recognized cycle tracker.” Sabrina welcomed her baby Noemi earlier this year.

Babe In My Arms, Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Our Rae of Sunshine

August 21, 2018

Written by Kathleen Hedges, guest blogger

If you asked me at age 5 what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would answer quickly and with such pride “a mom!” I grew up with that dream of motherhood forever in my mind. On January 3, 2014, I met the man of my dreams, we quickly decided on forever and both of us wanted a family so when we got married on May 9, 2015, we started trying to grow our family.

I tracked my cycles, read books, followed old wives tales, and we prayed, prayed more, and waited but each month the test was still negative. Each time I took a test my heart broke a little more. I felt so helpless and alone while all my friends were getting married after us and getting pregnant before us. It felt like each month passed so slowly waiting to see if we were pregnant yet.

After about 6 months I knew something was wrong. It felt like such a struggle. My parents and my mom’s parents also had a hard time conceiving. My parents had to take hormones to conceive me and did an IUI for my sister. My grandparents couldn’t conceive so they adopted my aunt and then ended up having 3 biological kids after, so in turn I felt infertility was apart of our story as well. I called my OB-GYN and set up an appointment after about a year of trying. She ran every test she could and they all seemed normal. She then requested a semen analysis and when the results came back, she didn’t quite know how to explain them, so she sent us to a urologist (who probably had the worst bedside manner of any doctor ever!). We went to see the urologist about a week before my birthday and he looked over the results, examined my husband, and told us 100% there was no chance we would have children of our own. He didn’t tell us about IVF but I knew we were meant to be parents. When we left the office I couldn’t believe it I was in shock and then hysterical. I didn’t know what to do.

About a week after I had come to terms with infertility, I called our insurance. I wanted to know about fertility coverage and if there was anything we could do. By some miracle our insurance covered both IVF and IUI at 100%. It was the only thing I needed to hear. I called the doctor’s office who had done the semen analysis and who my OB-GYN has recommended and booked an appointment. I figured I would meet the doctor and see if he was the one for me or if another one might be better. A week later when we drove up to the office with all our test results in hand to show him. I was so terrified. I didn’t know what was about to happen.

But, Dr B was amazing! He looked over our tests. He was honest and genuine and I knew we were right where we were supposed to be. He said there was almost no chance we would ever have children on our own but with invitro fertilization we could. I remember so clearly the tears flooding my eyes because he told us “We will get you your baby”.

Our first round of IVF was set to begin and they sent us the drugs and syringes. Wow -it was overwhelming. I sat in shock when I opened up the box. How could all of this be the way to get our sweet baby? The hormones, the tears, the needles…I hid it all from those around me, except for my husband and a few people no one knew how hard this journey was.

Our egg retrieval was great! They got 19 eggs and 9 were fertilized and made it to day 5! We had 9 embryos! We transferred the best looking one and I had to spend 3 days on bed rest and continue taking the hormones. On November 23, we found out we were pregnant! It was so wild because almost instantly, I was so sick. I could hardly eat, wanted to sleep all the time and remember thinking “How could this be? I’m only 10 days pregnant”.

December 5th we went in for our first ultrasound at 5 weeks pregnant. They could see the sac and the baby growing inside. Everything seemed to be growing correctly and the doctor brushed off my extreme sickness. We went back a week later and the doctor said “There is the baby…and there is another baby!”

I can’t even remember how many cuss words came out of my mouth. I made him check again. “Yes there are two!” The shock was overwhelming. We couldn’t get pregnant and we had transferred one embryo and we were having two babies! Identical twins. I couldn’t get over it. The doctor said sometimes one twin doesn’t make it so we would check again in a week. So we did 7 weeks and our little twins were still there and we got to see their heartbeats. We would have a few more appointments before the fertility doctor would release us back to an OBGYN who specializes in high risk multiple pregnancies to be cared for until our little ones came. The next week we came back and there they were both little twins tucked in tight and hearts beating strong. Dr B was happy our littles were growing and after Christmas we would have one final appointment with him, then we would get to meet our new OB.

Over the holidays we announced to our families we were expecting identical twins due August 3. I was still extremely sick and I lost 12 lbs in a matter of weeks. I was happy our family was finally growing by 2 blessings! I was extremely worried about how they would grow inside me and if I would make it to full term, if they could be healthy. My husband tried reassuring me that everything we be wonderful and our two little blessings would be here before we knew it.

We started our new year in Yosemite talking about how it would be our last one before we had two littles along with. Our next appointment came Jan 6 and for some reason my heart was still worried. The doctor brought up the ultrasound and there were our babies and no heart beats…no movement…no life inside me and I didn’t know. My life came crushing down. How could this happen to us after all the struggles it took us to get here why were we disappointed again? It was surreal leaving the office. How did we come in expecting two miracles and leave with our dreams crushed? Our identical twin girls were now our angels. The lives we had planned for them in our minds were gone. Jan 9 I had a D&C which was the worst thing to ever experience and suddenly it was just us again. No family to grow. I couldn’t stop thinking about the twins.

My husband has got to be the strongest man I know. Everyday my heart broke, everyday I broke down and he picked me up he helped me to find my strength in all this mess. I don’t know how I would have ever made it without him. We lost our two precious baby girls and he carried us and our marriage and protected it with all he is. We still wanted to grow our family and decided to go forward with our IVF journey. In March, we started again with the pills, shots, and the craziness. It only seemed harder this time.

Our second cycle didn’t take and it was another month with a negative test. We scheduled our third cycle we kept praying for our miracle. During the third cycle, we found my husband was being transferred for work and we were moving 300 miles away so during the shots and tears and madness we moved. My husband started a new job and couldn’t come for our transfer so my mom and I drove 300 miles back to Southern California and stayed with one of my best friends. My mom drove me to my transfer and held my hand while we waited. When we finished, we spent the day binge watching tv and laughing. The next day we drove back home, I was so nervous to get my hopes up but when we stopped at a gas station to use the bathroom I bought a scratcher and won! I saved the cash and as we drove home I couldn’t help but have hope. We had moved back to my hometown, we were near our people, this was part of God’s big plan.

A week later on our wedding anniversary we found out our little miracle was coming! It was shocking and hard to feel excited at first. But as the weeks passed and we traveled to appointment after appointment and finally heard the magical sound of her heart beat it got a little easier to believe. We hit 12 weeks we got to go to a regular OBGYN and we got to see her little wiggly body on the ultrasound and it all became real. Our rainbow baby was on the way, after the worst storms we could have ever imagined. As my belly grew so did our joy and excitement. I was sick again but this time I didn’t mind I couldn’t believe I was growing a little human! 19 weeks in, we did genetic testing and our anatomy ultrasound. With our families surrounding us we found out a little girl would be joining our family. My pregnancy was wonderful, I felt stronger and more proud of my body than ever. I was growing a healthy baby girl! I continued running and coaching fitness classes until the day my water broke.

My water broke and I thought our little girl would be here in a hurry. I had carried so small and only gained 12 lbs so I thought our baby girl would pop out tiny and easily. But just like our journey to finally get our baby, fast and easy was not in the plan. I was in for a surprise, this stubborn little girl wasn’t quite ready to make her appearance. After my water broke I endured 39 hours of hard labor, 24 of them completely unmedicated, she was not coming. We got taken in for a C section. To my luck, my OBGYN and the doctor I had nannied for for the last year were the two on call and both got to deliver our miracle. Raegan Kathleen was born at 7:56am January 22 8lbs 1oz and 20.75inches long.

Our rainbow baby girl is here. She is healthy and happy. Each day with her is such a blessing. As I sit here writing this I get to look at our sweet girl, our miracle. This journey was anything but easy but it was worth every shot, every tear, every night I spent awake praying for our baby and I am so glad this helped us to grow together in our marriage and to become the best parents we can be.

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