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Hitting the Unpause Button

July 10, 2018

Written by Stefanie Cargill, guest blogger

I’ve always wanted to be a mother. Not in a way that most women want to be a mother.  I mean deep down, to my very core, it’s what I’ve always wanted to be. To the point that on one of my husband and I’s first dates, I asked him if he wanted kids. I could feel myself falling for him, and if he didn’t want kids as much as I did, there was no point in continuing the relationship. That’s how badly I’ve always wanted children.

Fast forward a few years, and my husband and I decided to take the leap to start a family. We both had great careers, we’d been married a few years, and we’d bought a house. Although it took me convincing my husband we were ready (because let’s be honest, adding another mouth to feed can be terrifying), and everything was in place.

Much to our surprise, we didn’t get pregnant right away.  We’d never known anyone to struggle, so this was all new territory to us. Months went by, my period continued to come, and each negative pregnancy test was like a slap in the face.

After about a year, I decided to pay an extra visit to my gynecologist, Dr. G. I started on a regimen of Femara, Estrogen, and Progesterone, to see if we could kick-start something. Although, my doctor told me if that didn’t work, he had a great colleague who was a reproductive endocrinologist that he would refer me to, if the time came. Several months went by, still nothing. Now the frustration was starting to take its toll. It seemed like everyone around us was getting pregnant without any problems!

I read everything I could on basal body temp, cervical mucus and how it played a role in fertility, soaking in every tidbit I could find about increasing our chances of getting pregnant. At one point, Dr. G recommended an HSG (hysterosalpingogram), which I agreed to. In this procedure (which is usually done in an outpatient radiology department), your physician will insert a soft-tipped catheter through your cervix and into your uterus, filling it with contrast dye.  This procedure is to check for any blockages the patient may have in their fallopian tubes, as well as any uterine abnormalities (polyps, odd shape, etc.). We tried twice to have one done, but at the last minute (both times) my appointment was canceled due to Dr. G having to deliver babies.

About a year into our fertility journey, Dr. G recommended that my husband see a urologist to test for male factor infertility. So my husband did, and then we waited for the call from the urologist. I still remember that call. We had gone to South Padre Island, TX with some friends of ours when Dr. K (my husband’s urologist) called. Based on his exam of my husband and the results from the sperm analysis, my husband had a varicocele (a varicose vein in his scrotum) that was effecting our ability to get pregnant.  Now, most people would be discouraged finding a problem. But I just thought, “Finally!  Something tangible!”  Because you know what comes after a problem? A friggin’ solution! Dr. K’s solution? Surgical intervention.

Wait, what? Whoa, whoa, whoa. We’re not quite there yet, doc.

I took the results to Dr. G, who recommended that we follow up with his colleague that was a reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. R, who was amazing. Our first appointment with him was spent in his office. He had a gigantic oak desk that he sat behind, and big comfy chairs for the people seeking his help. He asked us what our expectations were with this journey, what procedures we were willing to undergo, and what we knew so far.  Basically to make sure we were all on the same page. This journey was going to be tough, but he made sure that we knew that he was on our team.

We brought my husband’s analysis with us. He poured over the results for a few minutes, and very matter-of-factly said that my husband wouldn’t need surgery. He’d gotten couples pregnant before with much worse labs.  Well, if the varicocele wasn’t the problem, what was? Are we really back to square one?  I was so disappointed! I think Dr. R could sense my disappointment, because he was very reassuring.  We would get through this together.

So we started fertility treatments again. We started each cycle with an ultrasound, then went on to Femara, Estrogen, Progesterone, another ultrasound in there somewhere to make sure I was producing mature follicles (which I was). After several months of not getting pregnant, we were labeled with “unexplained fertility”. Everything was working as it should, but nothing was syncing up!

 

During this time, I felt like everyone around us was getting pregnant. Baby showers galore! I remember getting to the point where I didn’t even want to attend them anymore. Those colorful gift bags with bright tissue paper just mocked me. I’d wander the baby aisles, getting gifts for my friends, and feel a gaping hole in the pit of my stomach. It was devastating to me. My dream of becoming a mother, one that we’d been working so hard for, wasn’t even within arms’ reach. Even though our friends were getting pregnant without even trying.

I remember one day in the Spring of 2013 very vividly. I was driving down the highway and one of my dearest friends called me to tell me a bit of news.  Her and her husband were pregnant with their second child.  She was crying. I felt like I was underwater. I could hardly hear what she was saying, only catching bits and pieces.  She was unsure about telling me, because she knew about everything we were going through. I swallowed hard, told her it was okay, and that I was ecstatic for her. I hung up the phone. Even though I was less than two miles from home, I had to pull over. I couldn’t see anymore through the tears. I remember sitting in my car on the side of the highway, my head on the steering wheel, my body wracked with uncontrollable sobs. Why was this so hard for us?!  I spent ten minutes on the side of that highway until I was able to regain my composure and finish the short drive home. To this day, that memory still makes me weep.

Through this journey, I lost faith in God. Like, really lost faith. I grew up in a household where I went to church every Sunday morning, every Sunday evening, and every Wednesday night. On top of going to a week-long camp every summer. My best friends were people I went to church with. Our congregation was a big family—we took care of each other. So when my husband and I struggled to get pregnant, I felt betrayed. I distinctly remember one Sunday morning where I was in our master bath, brushing my teeth. I’m a night shift ER nurse, so to get up even remotely early on a Sunday is difficult for me and rarely happens. I was looking in the mirror, looking at my husband, who was hounding me about going to church, since we actually got up in enough time to go. I shook my head no. I didn’t want to go. “Why?”, he asked me. I didn’t want to answer. Tears filled my eyes.  “What is it?  Why don’t you want to go?”  “BECAUSE I’M FREAKING ANGRY!”  My husband was taken aback by my reaction. “Angry? At me? Why?”  “I’m not angry at you! I’m angry at God! I feel like He’s completely abandoned me!”  My entire life, I’d been completely devoted to God and my relationship with Him. Why would He do this to me? To us? If anyone knew how badly I wanted to be a mother, He did.

So how long would we be willing to put ourselves through all the infertility treatments? Don’t get me wrong, I really loved Dr. R and his nurse. They always made us feel like a part of the family. His office staff, on the other hand (check-in and check-out staff) were absolutely horrendous. On multiple occasions, I would be crying when I left his office. I never could understand how someone who works in an office where women are coming to you because they want to have a baby could be so mean and hateful!  My husband and I decided to take a break from fertility treatments after an encounter with my least-favorite office staff member. I’d scheduled an ultrasound for the beginning of my cycle and when my period came a few days early, I tried to call in to the office to reschedule my ultrasound. The office staff member told me that it was impossible to reschedule. Her response: “It’s not my fault your period started early. There’s nothing I can do.” I don’t know if it was the stress of everything going on, or if it was all the hormones I was on, but that was it for me. I’d had it. I met my husband at work and told him what happened, and he agreed. After almost two years of trying to get pregnant, it was time to take a break.

And, guess what. We got pregnant. Who knew? Our little miracle baby was born on July 26, 2014. Our lives were complete.

After she was born, I didn’t have a period for a long time. In fact, E was about 16 months old.  I didn’t think much of it. I was breastfeeding, after all. I stopped breastfeeding at a year, and didn’t really think about the fact that it took another four months for me to cycle. A few cycles in, I was going to the restroom and had pain so severe in my lower abdomen, that I thought I might pass out. I consulted Dr. Google. I know better. I’ve been an ER nurse for 10 years, a flight nurse for two.  But it was the middle of the night, and I wanted an answer. Endometriosis. I couldn’t have a bowel movement, urinate, or even pass gas without being doubled over in pain.  It all made so much sense!  Our “unexplained infertility”, why I didn’t have a period for so long, the heavy periods. Was it possible, though? I’d never had any symptoms before! I made an appointment with Dr. G to discuss my options. Based on my symptoms, he agreed that it was probably endometriosis. The only way to definitively diagnose it, however, was with an exploratory laparotomy and a D&C. I decided I wasn’t quite ready for that yet, since our chances of getting pregnant would go up immediately following surgery. I didn’t want to have the surgery done twice, so I decided to wait until my husband and I were actually ready to have another baby. However, what I did do was start two different types of birth control to keep my symptoms under control.  And it worked!

Fast-forward a few years, and my husband and I have made the decision to have another baby! We had long discussions about whether we wanted another baby or not. Were we ready to go through this again? The long, sleepless nights, the dirty diapers, the chapped nipples. Especially having to go through the painful possibility of not being able to get pregnant again? Are we ready to go through all that again? I’m going to be honest, it put a strain on our marriage (anyone that has been through this can attest to that). The biggest positive thing we have going for us this time around is that when I get discouraged, I can just look at our miracle angel baby and be content with what we have.

It’s been about six months so far. Two of my coworkers are pregnant, which makes this especially difficult.  Seeing their growing bellies every day makes me a little jealous, let’s be honest. Actually, if we’re being honest, it makes me really freaking jealous. When I discussed this with my husband, he reminded me that we hadn’t been trying very long. While this is true, I think that infertility is something that marks you forever. I don’t feel like we’ve just started trying for baby number two. I feel like we just pressed the “unpause” button from our previous journey. Like we’ve been trying for two years plus six months. It’s so difficult living your life 28 days at a time.  In the six months we’ve been trying, I’ve already gone through 7 pregnancy tests. And each time one of those dang things come back with one pink line, it’s like a fist to the gut.  I hate it. I hate this process. The waiting, the disappointment, the fervent prayers sent up every night so that one day, hopefully, our family will be complete.  Our family may not be complete, but it’s pretty dang perfect the way it is.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Mindful Responses to Mindless Infertility Questions

July 2, 2018

Written by Tiffany Johnston, WTF contributor

For those of us who are unfortunate enough to be fluent in the language of infertility, there are few words, so innocuously strung together, that are more likely to elicit a punch in the face as when we are asked “Are you guys having kids?” or  “Will you be having another?” When you’ve struggled with infertility these types of questions will never be a simple “yes,” or “no.” We are more accustomed to responding with “Maybe.” or “We hope so!” upon which it’s not hard to assume that the answer truly is far more complex and seeped in misery than the poor soul that dared to ask said question ever assumed. Realistically there is a 98% chance that the poor unfortunate soul asking the question at hand has no idea that you have endured months or years of disappointment, and that weekly you face a myriad of doctor appointments, shoot yourself up daily, and that you have come to track every single day of your month. Recently I brought up this topic with my postpartum counselor and wanted to talk about some strategies and “canned responses,” as she called them, that could help keep us on the right side of the law when those dreaded questions are asked:

1)  Take A Deep Breath

Simple enough right? This is probably the most critical part in this interaction, because at this point in the interrogation your heart rate is elevated, pits are sweating and you are suddenly in fight or flight mode.  The first few times you run into this question while struggling to conceive, will be like stubbing your toe; all at once your body will suddenly go rigid and it will feel like you just got the wind knocked out of you. In this moment of complete and utter panic, if you only do one thing, remember to breathe.

2) Remind Yourself That It’s Likely Not An Interrogation

Our society has created pre-formulated ideas on when and how we should reach certain milestones, so when we stray off the ‘typical’ path those around us are bound to become inquisitive. What you must remember is that most people are only mildly concerned about your life choices, so no matter how you answer them it is unlikely that it will have any long term ramifications to their day. So aside from a few follow up questions at most, the annoyance should be short lived and fairly painless once you have a battle strategy in place.

3) Consider Using a canned Response

The goal of this is to keep the conversation within YOUR comfort zone, because you do not owe anyone anything, especially not when it comes to your family and body.  Come up with a short, sweet, and free of excuses response that you and your significant other are comfortable with sharing. The answers can vary slightly to match the circumstances or audience. We like to have one appropriate for work, family and friends. It is up to you to decide how in depth you go with each group of people but for your sanity have some kind of canned response ready for when the questions start flying.

4) Remember That It’s Okay To Have Boundaries

Our society is one that values simplicity, non-controversial topics, and likes to hide from taboo subjects. This type of thinking tends to lead to superficial conversations and naivety. So, though it is difficult, remember that you and your partner are the ones on the rollercoaster of bitter disappointment, painful procedures, and tough choices. You get to decide who gets the front row seat and who gets the seat in the very back. If your choice is not to share any of your journey with anyone, then own that. Make sure it’s your hand on the on/off switch, no one else’s. There will always be someone that could never relate and has no concept of conversational etiquette. Thus, it is your job as a couple to firmly place and uphold your boundaries, for your sanity, relationship and for the sake of our judicial system.

Most importantly remember that you dear one, are powerful beyond measure, and deserve to feel heard during your journey.  Though each of us are different, I encourage you to strive to be vulnerable and connect with other women openly and courageously, strive to root yourself in finding a new more empowered and accepting you. That is capable, and willing to educate others while striving to grow a community full of empathic and enlightened individuals ready to support those facing the rollercoaster of infertility.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

C-Section by Choice

June 22, 2018

Written by Michelle Donati-Grayman, guest blogger

I remember the day we found out we were having twins.

I already knew it, as I had a dream in which my late sister told me she’d watch over my babies, and despite being in a dream state, it was undeniably clear that she used the plural, not the singular noun. My wife, who was the only person I shared the dream with, thought I was crazy. Until the nurse performing my vaginal ultrasound confirmed my premonition.


We were overjoyed to be pregnant with multiples, especially after enduring six months of fertility treatment that wasn’t covered by our insurance as a same-sex couple. But we were equally overwhelmed by the notion, knowing that our lives were about to be turned upside down as first-time parents.

My wife deployed with the Air National Guard about two weeks after that first ultrasound, and wouldn’t return until I was 7 months pregnant. Between her absence, and worrying myself silly about the pregnancy, I didn’t give a single thought about delivery until a doctor at my perinatal practice brought it up to me at about 20 weeks.


“If you can deliver them vaginally, it’s best,” he said.

Over the next several appointments, other doctors, all of whom were male, echoed this point. I started talking to other multiple moms and learned that many who hoped for a vaginal birth ended up delivering one of their twins vaginally and the other via cesarean. I hadn’t made a birth plan at this point, but if I did, recovering from both a vaginal birth and cesarean weren’t in it.

At my next appointment, I saw a female obstetrician at the practice, who also happened to be a twin mom. I asked for her opinion on delivery, not only as a medical professional, but also as a mom of multiples.

“You could be a good candidate for a c-section,” she said.

It was the first time I felt like the decision was my own, and that choosing a c-section wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. After doing my research and weighing the pros and cons with my wife, we decided to deliver the twins via c-section, and would only opt for a vaginal birth if the twins decided to come on their own first. I’m not going to lie, the control freak in me liked the thought of selecting the day and time of birth. I requested to be the first delivery of the morning, so the doctor would be rested and fresh, and that’s exactly what I got.

I wasn’t nervous about the procedure itself, but I also I wasn’t prepared for the responses I’d get when I told other women that I would be delivering via c-section. Most women had an opinion about it, ranging from “I’m so sorry” to “You actually chose that?”

I carried the twins for 38.5 weeks until our scheduled delivery date. I was so anxious to meet the two little people that had grown inside me that the procedure didn’t phase me until I was separated from my wife as I was prepped for surgery. Several minutes passed and as soon as I thought they had forgotten about her in the waiting area, she was ushered in and it was go time. About 15 minutes later, our baby boys emerged into the world three minutes apart. As the medical staff worked to put me back together, I got to enjoy several minutes of skin-to-skin time with our twin boys. After, my wife and the twins were taken to recovery area, and I joined them a few minutes later to resume skin-to-skin and start working on breastfeeding.

I was up walking later that evening, and although the first time getting out of bed was pretty painful, it got easier each time I did it. After being discharged from the hospital I followed doctors orders, taking it easy and getting as much rest as possible, which helped to ensure smooth recovery.


It was such a positive experience that when we got pregnant with our youngest son two years later, I opted to deliver via c-section again. Today I’m a mom to three amazing little boys, and I’m proud of the scar that shows where they left one world and entered another.

I’ve never shared my birth story beyond my close friends and family because of the c-section stigma. And while the procedure isn’t for everyone, it was the perfect birth experience for my family. Having a newborn, or newborns, comes with enough stress. The last thing a mother needs is the added stress that comes with feeling judged by the choices we make during one of the most memorable times of our lives.

I have several mom friends who have shared their amazing home birth stories with me. I’ve been in hospital rooms supporting my sister and dear friend as they delivered their precious miracles into the world. These experiences, combined with my own, has convinced me that however you give birth is beautiful.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Two Faint Lines

June 20, 2018

Written by Makayla Andrus, guest blogger

Two pink lines. That’s it. That’s all I wanted. Until I got them (lightly). Then lost them. Then got them again. Then lost them again. Got them again. Then lost them. Got them. Lost them. Got them. Lost them.

Motherhood was always the end goal for me. I’m a total planner, I can’t help it. I decided that April/May would be a great time to have a child, so that’s what we planned. To our excitement we got pregnant right away. Perfect! We were right on schedule. Until we weren’t. The first signs of trouble came during the middle of a lesson to a group of thirty-three six graders. Not the most ideal time for a break down. Well, one miscarriage isn’t uncommon. Everyone said not to worry, it happens to most people. Well the second, third, fourth, and fifth time came around with the heating pads and muscle relaxing cream never leaving my bedside. I Googled every possible reason and analyzed every time I felt overtired, thirsty, or moody (which was all too often during the Clomid months).

We decided it was finally time to meet with a fertility doctor. We spent the next several weeks doing test after test. Finally we had answers as to why we had so many miscarriages. I have a genetic condition called Balanced Translocation. In simple terms, this mean that two chromosomes break off and switch places, resulting in a miscarriage. There is no cure for this, but odds were if we kept trying we would eventually have a child. It was such a relief to finally know the reason why, but the the percentages were not in our favor. Each time we are able to get pregnant we have an 80% chance of having a miscarriage. The only medical option was to do IVF, with only a 20% chance of having 1 healthy embryo to transfer. Since we needed extra testing to make sure the embryo was healthy, IVF would cost around $19,000 with no refund if it was unsuccessful; nevertheless, we decided to give it a try. Two weeks before we were supposed to make our first down payments for IVF, we found out we were pregnant. To our total surprise we were able to carry that child full term. He is the best thing that has ever happened to us.

I know what it feels like to make a dozen cute pregnancy announcements (but never be able to post them), smile through baby showers, and anxiously await those two minutes before you feel confident enough to check for those two little lines. The bathroom floor can feel like the loneliest place. To the women out there who have your favorite ovulation calculator site, single handedly paid for First Response’s corporate bonuses, and downloaded and deleted too many pregnancy apps to count, please know that you are not alone in this trial.

This is the sole reason why we started Declan Roe. We are a children’s clothing/accessory deal website that gives 15% of our profits to families struggling to pay for IVF, adoption, or surrogacy. We have partnered with a non-profit called Bundled Blessings to give our profit to this year. We hope to be able to give to several different non-profits each year as we grow our business. The late nights of writing emails, ordering product, and shipping orders will all be worth it to bring those precious souls to their parents. It’s what drives me to make this business work and that pay day will be worth more than any check. Too many couples know that the costs of infertility treatments are crippling. We are committed to lessening that financial strain and thanks to you, Declan Roe is fulfilling that commitment.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Did Someone Say Diaper Duty?

June 15, 2018

Written By, Alexis DelChiaro

I don’t wanna be a bragger, but I’m kind of a diaper changing expert. I mean, if you think about it between Grant and Gigi in the last two years I’ve changed roughly 10,000 diapers.

I think that qualifies me as an expert, right?! So I was pumped when Happy Little Camper Baby gave me some diapers and wipes to try out and now I’m hooked! Let me tell ya why.

First off it’s a monthly subscription box that’s delivered right to my doorstep, saving me time and money. Then the diapers are super soft and comfy but also ultra-absorbent for bigger messes. And most importantly Happy Little Camper Baby products are natural made from soft, gentle and clean ingredients. I’m talking ZERO harmful chemicals go into the stuff that touches my babies precious skin and I feel great knowing I’m giving them the absolute best diapers on the market.

Plus when you’re trying for a baby, ditching all those products with harmful chemicals is an absolute must to increase your fertility! So why not do the same once your precious babe arrives?

Want to try Happy Little Camper Baby for yourself! Use the promo code HLCMOM20 ar check out HERE to get $20 off your first monthly box subscription. That way next time you’re elbow deep in a diaper change, you can think of me.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Finally My Father’s Day

June 14, 2018
Written by Matt Martin, guest blogger

 

In 2016, I married the love of my life and best friend. Like many other couples, we planned on starting a family, sooner rather than later. As soon as we got back from our honeymoon, we decided that now was the time to start trying. After a few months of it not being as easy as Teen Mom makes it seem, my wife spoke with her OB. They did some blood work and ultimately found a mass on her brain, which turned out to be non-cancerous, thank God, but it was keeping her hormones slightly out of whack. Once we got that under control, we continued on our path to create a baby.

A couple of more months go by and no baby, so her OB put her on some fertility medication and gave us a strict super romantic (…………..) regimen for baby making. All was unsuccessful. He suggested that, maybe before upping the dosage for my wife’s medication, that I go get checked just to cross that off the list.

I went to a super sterile and cold office one day to deposit my best baby making formula in a cup, never once thinking about the possibility of the outcome. A couple of days later, I got a call from the doctor. There was no sperm in my semen. The one thing that I had to do in this whole process, and it wasn’t happening. I wasn’t going to have kids. I wasn’t going to be able to give my wife the one thing she had always wanted in life.

We both had a weekend of freaking out and drinking our blues away with friends, and then got right back on the road to getting and/or making children. We found out that I was a carrier for the cystic fibrosis gene which created a mutation that caused me to not develop vas deferens, thus trapping my sperm and not giving them a tunnel out.

BUT, there was good news! After a simple (albeit INCREDIBLY PAINFUL) procedure, we could still have kids! They would need to take sperm out of my testicles with needles (yes, they numbed me, and yes I still felt it, and yes I passed out for a few seconds), take eggs from my wife’s ovaries, and combine them in a lab to make our embryos and then transfer the embryo(s) back.

Our first IVF cycle was unsuccessful. We were devastated.  We had such a long road of “no”, we thought that this was going to be our “yes”. We mourned that negative pregnancy test with anger, sadness, and confusion. We prayed to God and looked for answers that we didn’t quite yet have the answers to. We talked for a while and decided that we would do one more cycle and if that didn’t work, we would take a break. We were emotionally exhausted, and my wife was physically exhausted from all of the fertility medication. Our second cycle, we transferred two embryos with the hopes of at least one sticking.

During the transfer we decided to play “Drunk In Love” by Beyonce. She must’ve rubbed the twin magic off on us, because God answered our prayers and I am now the father to the most amazing twin boys, Jack Carson and Cam Dawson. As long as the nights (and days) are, I can’t help but be thankful that we got this far when so many don’t. I am overwhelmingly blessed to get to be the father of these two boys and I can’t wait to see where God leads them in their life.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Sharing Hope for Success

June 11, 2018
Written by Jen Ward, guest blogger
Hope…

I share this story with a desire to provide hope to all the women (and men) out there in the throws of infertility. To give strength during a time that feels hopeless, lonely, and uncertain. During my struggle, I was desperate to connect with others who were going through what I was. I wanted to hear success stories so I knew there was a chance for me. Often times you read the stats, the heartbreak, and how perfect the stars must align to successfully get pregnant it almost feels hopeless.  So here is my story…When I was 17, I was diagnosed with PCOS. I didn’t think much of it at the time other then I had irregular periods, cramps, and small cysts on my ovaries. As I got older, I learned some of the more serious side effects of PCOS, difficulty getting pregnant being the main one. Even with that I still thought ok, maybe it will take some planning but it should be fine. My husband and I tried for a year before we decided to meet with an infertility specialist.  Age was not on our side as I was just about to turn 35…. (the dreaded cut off age they all talk about).

I remember the first visit feeling so overwhelmed. Questions, upon questions, family history, blood work, ultrasounds, financial discussions, testing for my husband etc…. it seemed impossible, yet I was excited to get the ball rolling. Through our testing, we learned that both myself and my husband were the problem and naturally getting pregnant was close to impossible. So this is where we embarked on our infertility journey.

We started with IUI. I should mention that our insurance did not cover infertility at ALL! So every visit, ultrasound, blood work, and follow up were all out-of-pocket costs. Anyone who has been through infertility knows how many times that actually is! Anyway, that’s why we started with IUI using Clomid. The first time I was so hopeful! I remember after thinking “Omg. I could be pregnant!” Every odd feeling, cramp, body ache made me think “Am I preggo?!” That dreaded two week wait felt like 2 years!

Unfortunately we were unsuccessful. We tried 3 more times but each time was a soul crushing “I’m sorry but you’re not pregnant.” We decided to move onto IVF. Before we began however, we had to decide financially how we could do this. We had already spent so much money and time, and IVF was an entirely different ball game. We decided to take out a loan. They worked directly with my doctor’s office. I’ll never forget the conversation my husband and I had. He sat me down one day and said I know you don’t want to think about this, but we have to decide when to stop. How many times can we afford to do this? IVF is not a sure thing and there might come a point when we have to pull the plug and we need to have this conversation now. I lost it. Realistically he was right, but we hadn’t even started and that was a decision I didn’t want to even have to think about making. I would give up everything to have a baby and my husband knew that. I know now, it was his job to stay level headed about our situation, but in that moment I just felt devastation that he would be willing to walk away from having a baby.

Finally, after getting everything together for the loan we were able to begin. I started to feel hopeful again, until I learned the loan did not cover the medications. Anyone who has done IVF knows how expensive those shots are. I broke down for what seemed like the millionth time since I started this journey. Someone happened to see me in the waiting room and approached me. Her brother’s wife had just finished the process and was currently pregnant and didn’t use most of her medication. They ended up selling $10,000 worth of medication to me for $900. They were my guardian angels!! It just happened to work out it was all the stuff I needed.

We could FINALLY begin. The shots every night, the regular ultrasounds, the blood work, etc. Things were looking good, until one day I ended up in the ER with terrible pains in my sides. Turns out I had an obstructing kidney stone that required me to do lithotripsy to remove it. This was unrelated to anything I was doing for IVF but unfortunately I needed to take care of it before I continued my journey. So everything needed to be put on hold until the kidney stone was removed.  Yet again, more bad news and devastation! It’s such a process to get to this point, and now I have to start all over!!

During the wait, it was hard not to be bitter. With every pregnancy announcement, baby shower, birthday party, I found myself falling deeper into depression. My marriage was stressed, my body was failing on me, I was bloated, fat, tired, and consumed with the fear that I would never be a mother. If one more person asked me when I was going to have kids, I might just lose it completely!  I wanted to join the mom club all my friends were a part of!

Fast forward: Kidney stone removed IVF begins again. Things look good. I’m responding well to the medication. They were able to retrieve 12 eggs, 5 of which made it to the blastocyst phase! As I was preparing for my transfer, I couldn’t help to feel plagued with stories that IVF rarely works the first time. I wanted to be hopeful but also realistic. So much was on the line for me as I did not have much money left for another cycle.  The transfer went well, and they sent me away with a good luck, like it’s that simple, and then we enter the dreaded 2 week wait yet again! Each day was longer than the next.  Looking back now I wonder how I didn’t lose my job. I don’t think I focused at work during the entire time I was trying to have a baby!

About 6 days in I decided screw the rules, I’m taking a pregnancy test. It was negative which I expected it would be. The next day I took another one, and I see a verrrry faint second line. I took pics and sent it to my mom just to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. She saw it too! Each day after, the line got a little bit darker. By the time I went for my blood test, the lines where clear as day. PREGNANT! I knew I couldn’t be excited until test results came back. I’ll never forget that day the doctor called: “Congratulations Jennifer, you’re pregnant!” Words I never thought I would hear! We cried, we laughed, we screamed, we called our parents, and then we panicked!

Those first few weeks, I was a ball of emotions. I know what can happen, as much as I wanted to scream it from the rooftops I knew I had to be cautiously optimistic. I literally would go to the bathroom just to make sure I was still pregnant (As weird as that sounds). I had waited for so long for this, and I was so afraid of something bad happening. I’m so happy to say that it did not! I had a beautiful baby boy named Lucas who is now 3. I also have a beautiful baby boy named Dylan who is currently 10 months old that is also an IVF baby from my frozen embryos. They are the loves of my life!

I tell my story because when I was going through this process, I so desperately wanted to hear the success stories. Like I stated earlier you often hear how rare it is that IVF works on the first time. I’m here as proof that it can. It did for me both times!  I realize how blessed I am, and how rare my story is. My babies are miracles and I know that. I also know that so many people out there that struggle with infertility suffer devastating losses along the way. They feel alone, sad, frustrated, and scared. Each story is unique. Sometimes you just need to know you are not alone.  I did not go through half of what so many amazing women go through, but we all share the same ache for a baby. If this can give even one person just a little hope, then writing this was worth it. Sending all my love to all the women waiting for their miracles! It will happen!

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Fat to Fertile

June 6, 2018

Written by Nicola Salmon, guest blogger

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t on a diet. Every positive thing I did for my health (and there were lots) was a weight loss attempt in disguise.

I started a couch to 5K running program and limped round a couple of 10K running events. I tried a shake replacement diet. I went paleo. I brewed and drank disgusting Chinese herbs.

I could go on but I wont bore you.

My life goal was to lose weight. The amount I wanted to lose varied with my waist size as it seemed the more I tried to lose weight, the bigger I became.

I was diagnosed with PCOS at 16 and told I wouldn’t be able to have kids. After doing some research about PCOS, I found information (I have no idea now how reliables my sources were) that suggested that having PCOS meant you were overweight and that it was very difficult to lose that weight.

So that was my story and it became my identity. I was the fat girl with PCOS who couldn’t lose weight.

The problem with that is that in our society being overweight is unacceptable. Being fat is the worst thing you can be and people make awful judgements about you based on this.

People have laughed in my face on the train. One old man stopped me on the street and told me I would be so pretty if I lost weight. And these incidents are a tiny drop in the ocean compared with other abuse fat women have to deal with on a day to day basis.

I dread to think about the amount of my time and energy I have wasted obsessing about what I “couldn’t” eat, feeling guilty about what I did eat, bingeing because I thought I’d fucked it all up then waking up the next day and doing it all over again.

I’ve never been diagnosed with an eating disorder but I know that this is not a healthy way to think about food. My every waking thought was about food – that and how much I hated my body.

So what changed?

One day I realised that I had a choice. I could waste the rest of my life trying to reach the perfect body or I could bin the scales and do something important with my life.

I started small. I stopped weighing myself and vowed to never weight myself again (2 years and still going strong). That number defined me for far too long.

And now I want to help you. There are a million people out there who want to help you lose weight in order to get pregnant. I’m not one of them.

If you are sick of being told that you can’t get pregnant because you are too fat. If you’ve been told you need to lose weight before you can get any medical support then this is for you.

This is NOT a weight loss program. This is a be healthy, get pregnant and f*ck what anyone else thinks about your size program.

And I know this first hand. I got pregnant with both my healthy happy boys easily whilst I was “morbidly obese”

If this is exactly what you need, sign up for the waitlist here.

Nicola Salmon is a gentle warrior for fertility freedom and a proud, fat feminist.

She supports women to reclaim their health and fertility, regardless of age, size, sexuality or ability, using natural medicine, support and virtual hugs. Every woman should have access to fertility support, no matter where her journey has led her in the past.

Her life mission is to change the way that women are supported when they are creating their families. She wants to give every woman the opportunity to embrace their bodies and fertility, messily and without judgement.

Babe In My Belly, Blogs

Waiting To Expect

May 30, 2018

Written by Amy, guest blogger

As I sit here due to turn 40 in a few months’ time, with my bump bumping into my laptop, half a tub of Ben and Jerry’s on the go and newly washed tiny clothes on the dryer, I think about Mother’s Day and that next year, it’s my turn.

After TTC for four years, never having seen a positive test and two rounds of failed IVF (one ICSI), both privately funded, emptying our savings and filling our credit cards, we were one of the lucky ones. Not only did we receive funding for a NHS cycle, but it was successful, and we even have a frostie on the rocks for round two.

Yet, even though I have a 32-week-old bear cub either shadow boxing  in my belly or tap dancing on my bladder, I still feel that if I let myself relax and enjoy this pregnancy, I’ll tempt fate and I’ll be sent to the back of the queue.

After four years of watching everyone pass you by, being told to just relax or other unhelpful unsolicited advice and hearing stories of someone’s uncle’s dog’s cousin tried this and it worked, it gets to the point when you give up and lose a sense of your own purpose.

What started as a fun little project quickly becomes well, not so much fun. The anger, frustration and emptiness take over, you feel numb most of the time, and you barely recognize the happy, relaxed girl starting back at you in your wedding photos. You can’t remember the last time you laughed and something you always assumed was straightforward and totally natural, suddenly is neither.

I involved my family and close friends from the start. I’m not a huge over-sharer and often am very private in my feelings and emotions, but this was like therapy for me. I needed to talk about it to rationalize it and deal with it. Humour always helped too; stories of progesterone suppositories (#FannyBullets) and appointments with dildo-cam being interrupted by fire alarms, kept both my friends amused and me sane.

I lost some friends along the way, the usual story of either me not being able to deal with their success or them not understanding what I was going through. But at the same time, I gained some new friendships and strengthened existing ones, some that I am thankful for every single day, because I couldn’t have got through it without them.

Infertility never leaves you. When you experience it, you lose a part of you that I don’t ever think you regain fully. Yet, I’m proud of my badge and I wear it with pride. I openly talk about our experiences with anyone who will listen and the fact this baby is an IVF baby just blows my mind every day. The more I talk about it, the more people open up to me with their own experiences and if that means one person feels like they’re less alone then that can only be a good thing.

Looking back on my journey, have I enjoyed this pregnancy so far? If I’m brutally honest, and I feel terrible admitting this because I know how lucky I am to get this far, but I haven’t enjoyed much of it. Since the second line showed on the pregnancy test, I skipped the excited part and moved straight onto months of worry and fear. I still expect to see blood every time I go for a pee, and I’m due to give birth in six weeks. That’s what I mean about infertility never leaving you; you’re thankful, but you still expect the worst because that’s what you’ve become used to.

Around week 25 I started to get the fear about our relationship and how we’ll cope with a third wheel. We’d made it to the second trimester and things were a little rosier for me; I had more energy, I was back exercising and we were taki­­­­­ng a few overseas trips. I felt like I had the cake and I was eating it; I was pregnant, and we were still living our lives to the max. Life was great, the due date was far enough way in the future for it to be something we didn’t have to deal with for a while, but close enough to still feel real. Then, during a bout of insomnia, I suddenly realized that in 15 weeks’ time, everything would change. Our wonderfully selfish life of lie ins, brunches, morning exercise classes, holidays and late nights, will be thrown upside down. And suddenly I realized that what I always thought was the hardest bit (getting pregnant) is only the start.

But now safely ensconced in the third trimester, I’m relaxing a bit more and taking every day as it comes. I still haven’t read any books (ignorance is bliss), but we have started practicing hypnobirthing, a few essentials have been bought and we’re trying to delay over-excited grandparents from buying us gifts.

I still have the occasional freak out about how I’ll keep this tiny thing alive once it’s on the other side and how we’ll survive as a couple. But every evening we tell each other this is one day further than we’ve got before, and we tell our baby it’s also one day closer to meeting them.

Above all, what drives me forward, keeping me positive and focused, is the thought of seeing my husband hold our baby for the first time and the look on his face as he meets the baby I’ve grown to love in my belly. That moment when two become three.

Babe In My Belly, Blogs

Channon Rose: Our Fertility Journey

May 21, 2018

Channon Rose and her husband, Travis Dean, have been trying for their baby since 2015. Through years of surgeries, treatments, and a miscarriage, Channon has been open and documented her journey from day 1 through her vlog.

Their journey is raw and real. And we are grateful for the awareness Channon and Travis are bringing to how infertility affects people’s lives. We’ll let her video do the talking! Watch Channon’s video below to hear about their journey from the start!

For a more in-depth look at where they’ve been and where they are at, be sure to check out Channon’s YouTube channel!

 

What The Fertility

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