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The Best Laid Plans

August 17, 2017

Written by Rachel Roth, Guest Blogger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

This time, I wasn’t devastated.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

You Asked, Ava Answered

August 14, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Not Losing Hope

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

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

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

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

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

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


Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Manners That Matter

August 2, 2017

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

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

Overall heath: pretty darn good… so we thought!

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

And another month.

And another month.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Don’t Survive, Thrive

July 25, 2017

•By Tiffany Johnston, Guest Blogger

I realize that stress will never stop being a part of our lives. Let’s be honest, challenges are a not only a regular part of infertility, but also part of life. My husband and I know first hand the stress and challenge that life can bring. We met 17 years ago right before we started high school, though never dated until we were both well into our 20’s. There was never any rush for us, it was all about our individual journeys and if I am honest we we never imagined that growing a family would be difficult let alone heartbreaking.

Now here we are after five years of marriage with thousands of dollars worth of fertility treatments under our belt, basking in the glow of a few miraculous wins because we not only have a 2.5 year old fertility miracle, but are just 13 weeks into our second pregnancy following another long infertility struggle. Looking back I realized that I have faced some staggering realities that I wanted to share with my fellow infertility families.
I know that challenges in fertility seem to increase with each failed round. The financial black hole continues to expand, the possibility of never having more children increases, and the side effects from the medications and hormones become much harder to handle. It’s not only the physiological to psychological challenges of getting pregnant. For us, it’s been wanting to speak out about the struggle without having people look at you with pity. It’s the challenge of attending baby showers and hearing pregnancy announcements without crying. It’s knowing that for better or worse you need to take high doses of hormones as you watch every part of your body change, as the pharmaceuticals rage through your body month after month.

When is comes to marriages, it’s a challenge to know that the person you love the most in the whole world is also the person at the forefront of the hormonal outbreaks, the frustrations and exhaustion. After a time, the hardship of not being able to bear children or not being able to carry a baby to full term begins to takes a toll on its survivors. This can cause communication issues for the couple. For us, my husband has been my rock. He has stood strong as my legs buckled in sadness, pain, and exhaustion, and held me when it felt as though there was no end in sight.
There’s also nothing fun and playful about infertility. It is serious work. Unfortunately for all parties involved, sex starts to become a second or third job. Sex becomes that task that you have to fit into your life somewhere between oral hygiene, toddler tantrums, and your alarm going off at four o’clock in the morning. It’s difficult to separate the marital part of our relationships that want nothing more than to be intimate with our husbands from the exhausted hormone-raging woman that just wants peace, quiet, and a glass of wine. Though I know it is hard to remember, stand strong and know that you won’t always be stuck in a 28 day cycle of hope, exhaustion, loss, and pain.
In junior high and college I was an avid church-goer and believer whom was connected to Young Life, and went on several mission trips with the young adult group I was involved in during college. It was a time when I needed something to believe in and I did whole heartedly; but over time, that changed and I became someone that was afraid to believe in any higher power, afraid to trust, and terrified that I may not have complete control.

Several months ago a friend shared this excerpt from the bible “You were meant to do more than just survive. You were meant to thrive. You were not meant to struggle to make it through the week. You were not meant to be shackled by anxiety, worry, and fear. No, you were meant for so much more. You were meant to live life and to have it more abundantly. ” In all honesty I didn’t realize it when I first saw this excerpt but I truly believe this with my whole heart. With every infertility procedure I implore you to try not to be shackled by worry, fear and stress. Remember to live life abundantly and with hope for your family’s future. Accept these challenges as moments that will simply make you stronger, and hope that they will help us connect with one another who are also engulfed in moments of challenge and heartache. Together, we can encourage one another to dig deep, and continue fighting to remain hopeful, optimistic and have faith in unexpected miracles. After all, what is life if we have no hope for the future?

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Stay Strong

July 18, 2017

Written by Jennifer Segovia, Guest Blogger

In 2008 we got married and soon after, the kid questions started. At the time I wasn’t ready to be a mom or even attempt at taking on that kind of responsibility. The truth was, I wasn’t sure I wanted kids and I was totally selfish. We liked to come and go as we please, travel, keep a clean house, SLEEP, etc. When people would ask, we simply respond with “someday, we have fur babies for now”.

Well, fast forward to 2011, we finally felt like we were ready to start “trying.” We tried for over a year, then a year later went back and I was put on five rounds of Clomid..…NOTHING! I was depressed, angry, bewildered, and ready to give up! Up until this point we had a good and fun marriage, but now things were starting to get tough. We started to drift apart, barely even talked and would only really have sex when I thought I was ovulating. Neither of us wanted to admit that there was something wrong. Neither of us wanted to be “at fault” for something that should be so natural.

You know when they have the “birds and the bees” talk, no one ever had mentioned INFERTILITY (to me or my husband). So not only did I not know or understand, I never thought that could be us. After many tests for both of us, there was nothing wrong. I started to wonder though, what was wrong with me? What did I do wrong? Why?  I was in a category affectionately called UNEXPLAINED INFERTILITY. Not only did we not know or understand what that meant, I had no way to fix it. This news also took a toll on our marriage, although physically there was nothing wrong, I felt less of a woman and my husband was just not supportive in the way I needed or wanted him to be.

Things got worse before they got better. My husband and I were sleeping in separate bedrooms and now sex was non-existent. It was about this time, when we actually started talking about the “D word”; divorce. It was so hard and I remember thinking to myself, what is the point of staying married when I can’t even have a family. I remember that I felt like it was entirely my fault. I absolutely hated wedding showers, weddings, baby showers, birth announcements, pregnancy announcements, birthdays, holidays and the list goes on. Pretty much if it was a celebration about moving forward in life (as the world does), I avoided it, I shut down, and I hid in my work! Work became the excuse of why I couldn’t or wouldn’t do anything. If I did go out it was seldom and far and few in between.

We continued to “try” off and on for the next year, but it wasn’t until one day I had finally had it. I wanted couples counseling or a divorce! That night my husband and I really sat down and finally had a conversation that we had avoided for years. We decided to go to marriage counseling. I will premise this by saying, marriage counseling only works if you are willing to go and admit there is something wrong or that needs to be fixed, and promise each other that you are going to actively work on making it better. My husband and I really wanted better for ourselves and each other and we made a promise to each other to work for our marriage with counseling. We knew that this was years of issues and wouldn’t be resolved in a session or two. We continued to make counseling and our marriage a priority.

For us, it helped us open up and communicate what we had both feared and most importantly explain that fear to one another so we had an understanding of how the other person was feeling. Turns out we loved each other and had similar fears. I think prior to counseling we knew how to communicate on a surface level but when it came to our feelings neither of us knew how to really dig deep or articulate our feelings to one another. Once we were able to begin to actually communicate we also were able to talk about growing our family again.

We decided to seek help from a fertility specialist. The first specialist didn’t work for us and we had a failed IUI and a miscarriage. Talk about stress, sadness, grief, and a million other emotions. I truly feel that because we had gone thru so many years of trying and were able to learn how to communicate better before fertility treatments it helped us to help each other and cope with our losses. My husband may not have understood exactly what I was going thru but he now knew how to support and be there for me and vice versa. One of things I learned going thru infertility is that its not just me going through the suffering, but my husband to was suffering these loses with me. We decided to take a couple of months off to let my body, our hearts and souls just relax and heal. The best part was that we decided this together and knew it was the best thing for our marriage and us.

Finally we found a fertility specialist and his team who was able to give us more answers. This time before we proceeded with round three we sat down and discussed what we wanted, our goals, how many more times and agreed how these next rounds would proceed. Of course we wanted it to work immediately but it took a few rounds. Round three ended as a failed IUI and we went straight to round four.

Round four IUI was a success and I still remember getting the call and calling my husband and yelling out, “WE ARE PREGNANT!” Neither of us thought round four even worked and suddenly we were planning and anticipating being parents. Unfortunately, this round ended in a miscarriage. I remember the day my baby passed and I just cried and cried. My husband cried and grieved along side me and although we didn’t say much, we knew how we were both feeling. It was a sad time and at the same time we had to make more decisions.

Our marriage had changed and faced many challenges: we got married and enjoyed a few great years together, we were challenged with infertility, we were challenged at the thought of divorce, we have had two failed IUI’s and two miscarriages. Although we have gone thru so many challenges our marriage has survived and we are the lucky ones to have done it and stayed together.

So when it came to round five, we decided to move on and do it immediately. To our surprise round five worked but the biggest shock was when we went for our first ultrasound. At the first ultrasound we not only confirmed the pregnancy, but we also met our TWINS! My pregnancy had its moments but after all our struggles and time that past, I cherish and miss my pregnancy! My husband and I had no idea what we were in for with twins and more challenges came once they were born.

My babies were preemies and went spent three weeks in the NICU and my husband drove us to see them everyday and helped me out since I was recovering from an emergency c-section. Once they got home, not only was I still healing, I was also caring for two babies! Caring for twins is a whole blog in and of it self, but I am sure whether you are a singleton or multiples momma-it is just purely exhausting! No one was sleeping, and well that brought up some issues but I can tell you now we are seven months into this and our marriage has struggled with new babies but in the end we have learned to talk it out and fight fair. Fighting fair means sticking to the challenge at the time and trying to come up with a viable and realistic solution that will work for us four. It has and continues to be challenging but it is all I know and for us it has been worth the time and effort to continue loving and helping each other now as new parents of TWINS.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

What To Do Before You Do… It

July 6, 2017

Written by Dr. Amanda McDonough, Guest Blogger

Healthy moms are without a doubt more likely to have healthy pregnancies. Prioritizing health before conception can lead to improved fertility and less pregnancy complications. Ideally women will have a formal preconception visit with their obstetrician gynecologist.
Healthy Lifestyle
The obesity epidemic has significantly affected women’s reproductive health and pregnancy outcomes. Obesity is associated with multiple chronic diseases, infertility and poor pregnancy outcomes. Obese women are at higher risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. The risk of diabetes in pregnancy, hypertension with preeclampsia, and cesarean section is also increased for obese mothers. Starting a healthy diet and exercise program prior to pregnancy can improve fertility and pregnancy outcomes. Nutrition counseling may be beneficial. Thirty minutes of moderate exercise per day is recommended. Calculating your body mass index can be done easily here


<18.5 Underweight
18.5-24.9 Normal (GOAL)
25-29.9 Overweight
>30 Obese

Substance Use
Tobacco use is associated with infertility and poor pregnancy outcomes. Smoking cessation should be a goal prior to conception. Alcohol use is associated with fetal alcohol syndrome. There is no amount of alcohol considered safe in pregnancy. Opioid dependence is a growing concern in pregnancy. Methadone or Subutex programs are available and considered safer than illicit drug use during pregnancy. Neonatal abstinence syndrome is associated with opioid use during pregnancy.

Vitamin Supplementation
All women of childbearing age should be taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid (400 micrograms). Conditions that impact the fetus’s brain and spinal cord development, known as neural tube defects, can be prevented with adequate folic acid supplementation prior to conception. The neural tube closes approximately six weeks after conception which is typically when most women discover they are pregnant. Therefore, vitamin supplementation should occur prior to conception to have the greatest impact.
Chronic Medical Conditions
Many women are seeking careers that require higher education, which is FANTASTIC, but that means childbearing is typically delayed. As women age they may develop chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Working with your primary care physician to optimize your health before conception is extremely beneficial for mom and baby!
Carrier Screening
Women can choose to have carrier screening prior to pregnancy to determine if they carry genes that can lead to multiple conditions including cystic fibrosis, Tay Sachs, fragile X syndrome and sickle cell disease. This is typically a blood test. If maternal carrier screening is positive the partner can be tested to see if there is a risk of having an affected fetus. The couple can meet with a genetics counselor to discuss their risk and options.
Prioritizing women’s health prior to pregnancy leads to healthier moms and babies!

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

The More Ya Know

June 28, 2017

•By Guest Blogger Suzie Welsh, founder of BINTO

I was working as an IVF and Fertility nurse for Penn Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, working with women who had so many questions about which products to use and what to avoid.

It occurred to me that there was literally no one company looking at women’s health as a life cycle, and then supporting it through meaningful products and knowledge. It was that realization, and my daily work with my patients, that led me to take a leap of faith and start BINTO…Bun In The Oven!

BINTO is a women’s lifestyle brand designed to change the way we look at, and take care of, the lifecycle of women’s health. The company mission is to help us (women) get the safe and effective products we need every month to support our unique health journey. BINTO removes the stress and guesswork out of finding products by creating a personalized suite just for you. The subscriptions range from period and hormonal support, to fertility, pregnancy and now menopause.

As a nurse, I learned how to talk to women and couples about fertility—something our society doesn’t always do very well. I learned how to emotionally support someone whose IVF doctor may be busy with a thousand other patients.

The process and journey can feel very isolating for these women and their partners, and they often don’t know where to find reliable resources. On the one hand, there’s medical literature, which can be difficult to parse. And on the other, a wide range of personal blogs, which can be light on authoritative information. My mission is to occupy that middle space and offer hassle-free access to healthy products, as well as facts grounded in medical science. And that’s what BINTO delivers.

Reproductive health is essential to our overall wellbeing. When is comes to the places we choose to live, the products we use, and the food we eat, it all ties into the health of our reproductive organs.

Until recent years, there was little in the way of research into environmental factors and reproductive health, more importantly, fertility. We now know, thanks to advances in research and much conversation, that the way we live and eat impacts our fertility. This is the case for both women and men.

BINTO supports women’s health journeys with safe and effective products geared toward supporting fertility and reproductive health, including organic cotton tampons, prenatal and regular multivitamins with built-in DHA, probiotics, and feminine wipes. The extensive free online knowledge center includes a streamlined library of reliable online information on topics ranging from ovulation tracking to endometriosis.

BINTO champions the awareness and importance of reproductive health by partnering with people on the journey to optimal reproductive health, conception, and beyond.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

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.

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