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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!

 

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

The Waiting and Waiting and Waiting Game

May 15, 2018

By Rachel Roth, guest blogger

When people would find out that we struggled with infertility, two topics were commonly brought up: fertility treatment options and adoption.

My husband and I came to adoption after exhausting our fertility treatment options financially and emotionally. (If you don’t know my story, you can read about it here). We researched agencies and different types of adoptions. Upon choosing an agency, they told us that domestic adoption has an average wait time of one year whereas international adoption can have anywhere from two to five years depending on the country. Since at the time we went through this process we were childless, we decided on domestic infant adoption.

The process began with a lot of paperwork. 75 pages worth. It felt like being back in school with a TON of homework. Then there were physicals. And clearances. And SIX letters of reference. All of that was before we got to the three interviews, which were two hours each. Once accepted into the program, we had to make something called an adoption profile book. It’s like a digital scrapbook for expectant families to look through to get to know you as a family.

Once that was made, we began to wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Does this sound familiar to anyone who has had fertility treatments? That dreaded “two week wait”? You would think we would be MASTERS at this whole waiting thing after just having gone through all of that. Not so much.

When there is an expectant mother/family we might want to show our profile to, our agency will notify us on a private message board online. We get details about the situation and have about 48 hours to pray and think about whether we are ok with the known aspects of the situation – the expectant mom’s medical history, expectant father information (if available), how involved the expectant mom wants to be in the baby’s life, number of visits per year she desires, etc. If we feel comfortable with the information, we tell the agency it is ok to show the expectant family our profile book. However, if we say yes to showing our profile, we are committing before being chosen. If we show our profile and she chooses us, we are expected to move forward. It’s a lot of pressure to make the right decision in 48 hours.

A few weeks ago, we were notified of an expectant family. It was a difficult decision because there were some things in the medical history that concerned us. We ultimately decided that God wanted us to adopt and that meant trusting Him through the process. So we told the agency it was ok to show the family our profile. A few days later I received a phone call I have not gotten in 6 months of waiting: “The birth mother wants to meet you.”

It was a strange feeling – on the one hand it was thrilling to get this far. To know that we were closer to bringing home a sibling for our son. On the other hand, it brought along a whole host of questions and concerns.

What do I wear? I don’t want to show up in my Sunday best, but I’m certainly not showing up in my yoga pants.

What do I say? There are so many aspects of this that are sensitive. I don’t want to say or ask anything that might offend her, but I also don’t want to be dishonest and misrepresent ourselves.

What do I ask? There are a couple of topics that are off limits because of her specific situation.

How do I act? I can feel awkward in certain social situations and this definitely fits that category. We will be sitting in a room with a woman who has a child that we are hoping she allows us to take home to be a part of our family. Oh, and it won’t be just the three of us. It will be the three of us, her mom, the social worker, the pregnancy counselor, and the intern. Just an awesome circle of awkward.

What do I bring? Our agency suggested bringing a gift to her as a way of saying thank you for meeting us. Problem is, we are not the only couple she is meeting. She hasn’t chosen us and may choose the other couple. This is basically just an interview. The agency suggested flowers or candy, but that isn’t us. (I eventually settled on a homemade “thank you” card and a candle of our favorite scent).

Mind you all of these questions came to mind in the 10 seconds I got off the phone with the social worker. The next few days were spent doing research, talking to the social worker, and praying. In the end, I figured it was likely the expectant mom felt as nervous and awkward as I did!

As it turns out, all my questions were moot. I received another phone call that I haven’t ever gotten before: “The birth mother changed her mind. She only wants to meet the other couple.”

My first reaction was “Why? What did we do? What’s wrong with us?” The answer is nothing. We just are not a fit for this expectant mom. It’s not meant to be. And that’s ok.

And so we continue to wait. Wait for another opportunity. Wait for another phone call. Wait to be chosen. Wait for our child.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

From the Pain a Project Is Born – Nine 16 Designs

May 11, 2018

Written by Shannon Hughes, guest blogger

Once upon a time, my husband and I had the conversation about building our family and after about 2 minutes, we decided that it was time to start trying. Little did we know that it was not going to be as fun and stress free as they make it seem. Flash forward 3 years, and there were still no babies in our house. Something wasn’t right.

After several tests, on both our parts, we were diagnosed with infertility and jumped right into this world filled with appointments, medications, ultrasounds, injections, emotions, a lot of questions and A LOT of waiting. At the time, I was working as a nanny, but the appointments and non-stop feeling like crap (no better way to put it) led me to the life of unemployment. I didn’t mind, because all I wanted to do was sleep.

I had been toying around with the idea to start this side hobby of making t-shirts and selling them, just to give me something to do, but mostly to help distract me from the stress of IVF. Once my job transitioned to ‘stay at home wife’, I took the t-shirt biz a little bit more seriously, and decided that if I was going to do this thing, I was going to do it right.

With that decision, Nine 16 Designs was officially launched as an online apparel shop! 9/16 is the date that my bearded hubs and I had our very first date, so we thought it was fitting for the name of our new venture. Also, it made the logo easy to design and just sounded cool.

The first few months of business were pretty lackluster, but it kept me busy. This was something I needed once we got the results from our first round of IVF…negative. The transfer didn’t work. I was devastated…like, couldn’t breath or stop crying kinda vibes. It was a huge blow to our confidence that IVF was going to work. We never had a doubt in the world that it wouldn’t. To make matters worse, they ran some tests afterwards to see if they could find the reason as to why our embryos didn’t implant. The results were even more devastating than the negative BETA results.

They found cancer in my uterine lining. IVF was off the table for a minimum of 6 months, maybe even more. Now what? What am I supposed to do for 6 months, while we work to get my body clear of cancer cells?

I decided that I wasn’t going to just sit around and mope, so I jumped back into the business but this time, I decided that it needed something more. I wanted to DO something more.

I had been trying to think of an organization that we could team up with, to donate a portion of our proceeds to, but nothing was really clicking for me. I wanted it to be a good one, one that I would have a passion for. I didn’t really want to team up with big companies that wouldn’t directly benefit from our donations.

Then one day it hit me.

I had gotten to know SO many individuals struggling with infertility and the number one topic, or cause of stress during this process was money. The cost of fertility treatments is overwhelmingly high. You could buy a brand new car and pay cash for it, then probably buy a few designer purses or Rolexes on top of that. That’s the kind of money that people are dishing out, just for the CHANCE of having a family of their own.

So that was it. I wasn’t going to work with an organization, or any big companies. I was going to work with individual people, and I was going to work with as many of them as possible.

With that, Project 1:8 was created, and I was SO excited about it. We started asking people to share their stories with us, and spread the word. We would choose a couple, or individual, and work with them for a two week time span spreading the word about their story, sharing their pictures, and just letting the world get to know them. Any order that was placed during that two weeks, a portion of the proceeds goes into a pot for the couple to get. We also opened up a direct donation link, for those that didn’t really see anything in the shop that they liked.

When we started, our list of applicants was about 10-15 people. We are now only a few months into it, and our list has grown to over 100! It is our goal to work with every single one of these warriors, and even though what we donate might not be in the thousands, we know that every little bit helps. We’ve helped pay for entire orders of progesterone, we’ve shared the word with friends and families, resulting in large direct donations, and most importantly, we’ve helped get the word out about infertility.

As my husband and I struggle through our own treatments, it has been a very welcomed task to organize and run Project 1:8. We are thrilled to be able to help others who aren’t fortunate enough to have insurance coverage. We are even more excited that we are getting the word out there. I will continue to spread the word, share the love, encourage and support any and all men and women who are going through this extremely difficult time.

At the time this post is being written, we have donated over $2,000 to our applicants, and it is my hope that that number grows exponentially over the next several months.

<3

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Babe In My Belly, Blogs

Lessons About Love and Loss

May 2, 2018

Written by Sarah Banks, guest blogger

I’ve often wondered how I would tell this story. Where do you even begin, after 10 years of infertility and loss, when the journey is still underway? I can still vividly remember the first miscarriage – it was 2008 and we had just moved to Colorado Springs. I was doubled over in excruciating pain, crying at work. I didn’t know I was pregnant, so I didn’t know what was wrong, and I remember saying to a coworker, “If I didn’t know better I would think this is what a miscarriage feels like.” When the Doctor told me I was pregnant and that I was having a miscarriage, a flood of emotions and thoughts washed over me. Most of all, I felt desperate for this life that I didn’t even know was there before that moment. I immediately loved this child and longed to meet him or her. Now it was all gone. Weeks of tears, waves of sadness and shock, lots of questions, and a lot of guilt came and went during that time. Miscarriages 2, 3 and 4 are more of a blur.

“I’m sorry, it looks like you’ve just rolled snake eyes too many times,” one of the Doctors said to me. Snake eyes? Really? You’re making a craps reference about my fertility? Do people even say that? Apparently they do because I will never un-hear those words being spoken to me.

Over the course of the next 4 years, I saw 3 different Reproductive Endocrinologists in 2 different states. I had every test they offer administered, and re-administered after another couple of miscarriages, only to be told that I’m perfectly healthy and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with me. Except, of course, for the fact that I couldn’t carry a baby past 9 weeks with no medical explanation of why. I think it might have been easier over those years if there was a reason, some kind of medical diagnosis that I could wrap my head around, undergo treatment for….something.

 

Pregnancy #5 is clear, too clear to forget any of the details, much like pregnancy and baby #1. Baby #5 and baby #6 were twins. I hadn’t taken any fertility drugs or undergone any treatment, but I do have twins that run in my family. I was so excited and so hopeful, but I was also cripplingly terrified. My anxiety and panic over something going wrong was almost suffocating. At my 8 week appointment baby A had a heartbeat but baby B did not. I was crushed, but also hopeful for baby A. A week later during ultrasound, baby A no longer had a heartbeat. During those moments I was so angry with myself and my body. It had failed me, yet again, and I didn’t know how to cope with that. I went through a long period of anger and resentment about why this was happening to me. I questioned my faith. I questioned why others could have children but I couldn’t. I questioned the fairness of it all.

I knew it before I even missed my period. After 5 pregnancies I knew my body so well, I knew I was pregnant days before my period was due. My chest was swollen and tender and it hurt to walk around my house without a bra. That was always my first sign of pregnancy. This time, pregnancy #6 and baby #7, felt different. I was nauseous, incredibly tired and I wasn’t as panicked and anxious every waking second of the day. I had a calm and peace about this pregnancy. That whatever was going to happen, was going to happen, regardless of what I did or didn’t do. I travelled to Peru at 8 weeks and rubbed the water at Machu Picchu on my stomach. I prayed, I begged, I bargained for the life of this child, but I maintained a sense of peace like I hadn’t in the pregnancies before.

I remember sitting at the Doctor’s office at week 38 and begging the Doctor to induce labor. I didn’t trust my body, even though my pregnancy had been fine, and I wanted her out. My beautiful miracle daughter was born on November 6, 2014. I have never loved anything or anyone as much as I loved this little girl.

I wanted more children, but I just didn’t know if it was part of the plan for me, and I was ok with that. I didn’t know how much more loss and fear my heart could take. Even before the positive pregnancy test, I knew I was pregnant with baby #8. We were thrilled and hopeful, and the Doctors assured me that after carrying my daughter to term I should absolutely be able to carry another pregnancy to term. But this was just like babies #1-6. I knew it, because I knew my pregnant body too well, and it was a blessing and a curse. After you’ve had as many miscarriages as I have they will see you before the 8 or 12 week mark, so at the 6 week appointment we could clearly see a baby on the ultrasound but I was measuring behind and there was no heartbeat yet. At the 8 week appointment they confirmed that the baby had stopped growing at 6 weeks 1 day. The inevitable conversation with my Doctor followed, “Would you like to do a D&C or try to miscarry naturally?” I’ve had this conversation too many times and I had become numb to it. We lost baby #8 in October 2017, 9 years after this infertility journey began, almost to the day.

As I write this, 15 weeks pregnant with baby #9, I think about the sweet souls in heaven that I’ll never meet. I wonder whether they were girls or boys, what they would have looked like, what they would have become. I wonder if I will tell my children about their brothers and sisters in heaven. This has been a devastating journey filled with too many tears to count and too much hurt to measure, but it has also taught me more lessons about love and loss than I could have ever imagined. I cherish every waking second with my daughter and am hopeful that I will get to meet baby #9 in October.

Infertility is painful beyond words, but I haven’t lost hope. I lost it at times, but I didn’t lose it forever. If I had given up, I never would have become a Mom, and I know that I was meant to be one, to all 9 of these children.

What The Fertility

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