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The Big Ugly I Word

December 14, 2018

Written by Ginny Helmer, Guest Blogger

Infertility.

I never thought I would see my name and the big, ugly “I” word in the same sentence. While my struggle has not been as long or as extensive as others, it has been quite the hardship for my husband and I. The past 13 months have been some of the hardest of my life. Infertility is so lonely and painful, and as a woman, most of us feel that childbearing is our purpose. When we can’t fulfill that purpose, we tend to feel like we have no real purpose…like you’re less of a woman because you can’t (which, by the way, is so not true).

When Ben and I decided to start trying to have a baby in November 2017, we had only been married about 6 months, but we knew we wanted kids ASAP. We are in summer camp ministry…we love kids!

By other’s standards, we weren’t “ready”, we weren’t “mature enough”, we “didn’t have our lives together yet” and we “shouldn’t be trying.” So, we kept it to ourselves. And we tried…and we expected it to take a little while.

Three different times in the past 13 months, I had a massive bleeding episode (with decent sized clots) with sudden and sharp pains in my lower back and uterus. Each of those times, we had decided to wait a little longer before taking a pregnancy test, so I wasn’t certain I was pregnant, but I was about 10 days late each time it happened. My OBGYN believes it was either a miscarriage or chemical pregnancy, but we don’t have those answers.

Fast forward to now. It’s been 13 months of TTC, and we have yet to see a positive pregnancy test, and we have yet to figure out what is causing our infertility at its core. It’s been quite the journey.

As we move forward into 2019, I admit, it is hard to have hope. It is hard to be happy for those who are announcing their holiday babies. It is hard to be happy for the ladies who are starting 2019 with a baby in their womb. It hurts me to think that I really, really thought I would either be pregnant right now or already have a baby, in a perfect world. 2019 holds more doctor’s appointments, procedures, treatments, and the unknown.

Resolutions were never quite my thing, but I do think that it is a great idea to set goals for yourself, especially when you’re struggling with something like this. I have a few Bible verses that have really been a comfort to me throughout this time, and which have helped me decide what I want my New Year’s Resolutions to be:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Cor. 3-4

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that He cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” Ecc. 3:11

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32:27

My first resolution is that I will give my fertility to God. I have tried to do that since the beginning, but I know that it is in my nature to try and take it back and fix it. I have put my faith in places it shouldn’t be: the doctors, my husband, myself, etc. The truth is, no one but our Creator Himself can make it so. In Him, I will find my peace, my comfort, my solace, my strength, and my joy (even in the hard seasons). That does not mean that He won’t choose to use people in my life to provide those things as well, but ultimately, it will all come from Him.

My second resolution will be that I want to use my struggles with fertility to help others. 1 in 8 women struggle with infertility. Some for just over a year (like myself), and some for much longer. No matter the length of their struggle, we all need a girlfriend(s) to be honest with. I know, in my personal experience, it can be SO HARD to talk openly about infertility. The first (and only) time I talked of it, I was bashed and not believed. Not a lot of people out there understand the hardship that it is, so we need to help those who struggle with this. Whatever that looks like, I want to be a vessel of God’s use. I strongly believe that part of the reason He gives us trials so that we can minister to others down the road.

And lastly, my third resolution is to enjoy the time I have without children. Yes, I know how crazy that can sound! But, this will be the only time that Ben and I will have as just the two of us (plus our two dogs). Once we are blessed with kids, we can’t go back to this time. I don’t want to get so lost in the fertility struggle that I forget to cherish time with my precious (and dang handsome) man. As much as we can’t wait for the time that we become parents, I want to be intentional about spending quality time with Ben in 2019 (and now!).

Maybe 2019 will be the year I grow a baby inside me. Maybe 2019 is the year we officially enter the foster/adoption realm. Maybe 2019 will be the year we get answers as to why we are struggling to conceive. Maybe 2019 is the year we are just content to be a childless family for a little while longer. I don’t know that the future holds, but I know who holds the future.

If you’d like to connect, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Find me on Instagram and Facebook

I would love to get to know you more and answer any questions you might have! 🙂

 

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His Faithfulness and Goodness

December 11, 2018

Written by Emily Williams, Guest Blogger

This is a story of God’s goodness and faithfulness.

I found myself pregnant at 15 years old. On December 3, 1997, a beautiful baby girl was brought into the world but her time with me was limited. I’ll never forget those moments in the hospital before her adoptive parents came to take her to her forever home. I was filled with so many emotions but I knew that I was making the best decision.

Fast forward to the year 2006 when I married the man of my dreams. I told him well before we planned to be married about my past and he still chose to marry me! We had many conversations about our hopes, dreams and desires for our new life together which included children down the road. We had been married about six years when we decided that it was time for me to get off of my birth control and see what happened. Three years later, still nothing. We decided to see a fertility doctor just to make sure we were both functioning properly and after a series of labs and a procedure (for me), it was determined that there was no reason we shouldn’t be able to have our own children. We carried on with life but the desire was still in my heart.

2016 was a big year for us. In January, I got a Facebook message from my 18 year old biological daughter saying she wanted to meet me. God is so good!!! {so many great details to share about this}

Also in 2016, my husband and I agreed that God was leading us to become foster parents so we signed up for classes. We finished up classes and less than a month later, we received a call, “It’s a girl!”. They shared many details of this infant’s journey that they thought may discourage us but we just said yes! yes! yes! We had about a week to prepare our home for our first child. Our family and friends rallied around us- painting, rearranging, gathering essential and bringing donations. When the day finally came, we knew it was a day that had be orchestrated by God. Her first name was my husband’s grandmothers name and her middle is my name. There has been nothing easy about this foster care journey but on December 10, 2018, after 939 in foster care, she will finally share our last name.

My biological daughter is engaged and our soon to be adopted daughter will be her flower girl. My life has come full circle. It’s an adoptive story of redemption. I wish I could go back and tell my 15 year old self how good and faithful God is and that it will all be okay.

If you’d like to connect with Emily, you can find her on Instagram or Twitter

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A Heart Crushed for Adoption

December 6, 2018

Written by Kelly Briscoe, guest blogger

Adoption.

There’s so much depth in the word adoption.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can also find Kelly on Instagram!

 

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Dear Family and Friends, Part 2

November 26, 2018

Written by Heather, Guest Blogger

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

June 25

We are not pregnant. Thank you for your prayers.

Allen & Heather

Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

July 17

Hello Family and Friends,

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

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

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

And we can’t help but ask ourselves….

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

Why we aren’t good enough?

Why can they have kids and not us?

Did we do something wrong in our past life?

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

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

When will it be our turn?

Are we being punished?

So where does that leave us now?

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

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

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

Prayer Request:

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

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

Much Love,

Allen and Heather

Romans 12:12

July 26

Our Egg Retrieval Day!

Specific prayer request:

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

Thank you for your prayers,

Allen and Heather

 

July 28

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

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

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

***Please pray for our embryos***

Thank you,

Allen & Heather

 

August 4

Hello Family and Friends,

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

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

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

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

Much Love,
Heather & Allen

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

October 1

Another bump in our road…a BIG bump!

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

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

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

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

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

Much Love,

Heather & Allen

 

November 8

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

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

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

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

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

Allen and Heather

 

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Baby Brother On Deck

November 19, 2018

Written by Kate Starrett, Guest Blogger

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Don’t worry, it gets crazier. 

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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Dear Family and Friends

November 16, 2018

Written by Heather, Guest Blogger

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

January 21

Dear Family and Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much Love,

Allen & Heather

photo by: tatiana

March 2

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

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

Prayer request at this time:

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

Much Love,

Allen & Heather

 

March 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allen & Heather

 

March 5

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

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

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

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

1 embryo- is moving slow

1 embryo- is moving slow

1 embryo- is a low grade

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

Prayers:

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

Thank you for your prayers.

Allen and Heather

 

 March 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer request still needed:

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

Much Love,

Allen & Heather

photo by: cinthia

March 16

Allen and I are not pregnant.

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

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

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

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

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

Allen & Heather

 

May 28

And so the journey continues….

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Allen and Heather

 

photo by: Nisha

June 16

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

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

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

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

Much Love,

Allen & Heather

Babe In My Arms, Babe In My Belly, Babe In My Heart, Blogs

10 Tips for Navigating Adoption

November 13, 2018

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

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

10 TIPS FOR NAVIGATING ADOPTION:

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

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

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

 

 

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

And Baby Makes Three

November 9, 2018

“When I found out I was pregnant my roommate made a joke that she thought I was and I told her she was crazy. I ran across the street to Walmart grabbed a test, came right back, and it was positive. I could not believe it. So I went to urgent care and had a ultrasound done, and there sure was a little peanut growing in there! 

Not long after becoming pregnant, I also found out that Grant’s bio dad was going away for a while and I already had my two and a half year old daughter Kaydence who I raised by myself.  I was terrified, nervous, scared, and emotional. How could I possibly raise another baby by myself? Was Grant’s bio dad ever going to be around?

My life at the time was a bit chaotic. I was living with a close friend, her husband, and their 5 kids. I just started a new job making $9.00 an hour and had picked up a night job to make extra money to save up and move out. Last but not least, I just started talking to someone new. 

My roommate and I started going over ideas on what I was going to do. No way I could ever go through with an abortion! Only two options left…keep the baby or look into an adoption.” 

-Grant’s Birth Mom, Jessica 

Personally, I talk about adoption all the time because it’s been such a beautiful gift for our entire family. I am always happy to answer adoption questions from other moms at the park, friends on social media, and even strangers in line at the grocery store. But when I talk about adoption or answer these questions, I’m only speaking for myself and my husband…what we went through, how it made us feel and why we chose this path. And that’s just 1/3 of the story.

The whole story belongs to 3 groups of people: Gabe and I as the adoptive parents; Jessica, our birth mom; and most importantly our adoptee, Grant. Our lives are forever joined as immediate members of an adoption family and that’s called the Adoption Triad.

We are so lucky to know our birth mom because that’s not always the case. And we are so lucky to have a great relationship with her…again not always the case. So I’m taking every opportunity to learn more about “Mama Jess” as we affectionately call her, who she was, who she is, and what lead her to us and why! Someday Grant will want answers to the questions and it’s a relief to have them for him.

I feel compelled to share parts of Jess’ story with you all (with her permission) because her voice in our journey is so important. From the first time I spoke to Jess she always made it clear to me that she was giving us Grant because she loves him, not because she doesn’t. Jess put Grant’s needs above her own in the most selfless of all acts. I mean, isn’t that the true definition of a MOTHER?! She is a beacon of light and a solid role model for other birth moms and potential birth moms that may need support in a scary and confusing time. The fact that Jess is so willing and open and honest makes me love her even more. We actually talked about writing a book together someday…ya never know?

I did not give birth to Grant, yet I will always be his Mother. The one who comforts him when he cries, the one who rocks him when he’s sick, the one who soothes him when his heart aches. I also get to see his bright blue eyes shine like the sun when he smiles, hear his infectious giggle fill our home and feel his warm hands reach around my neck for a hug.

Jessica gave me that.

She gave me all of that and more when she entrusted Gabe and I with this precious little life. I will never ever in my whole life be able to repay her or even properly thank her for giving me the gift of Grant.  But what I will do is keep Jessica present in our boy’s heart and mind and soul so that he knows that he always has the love of his TWO moms.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Smith, Party of 6

November 7, 2018

Written by Charissa Smith, Guest Blogger

Dozens of times a day I count my children.  One, two, three, four.  One, two, three, four.  One, two, three, four.  And no matter how many times I count those sweet, little people I can never shake the feeling that someone is missing.  Maybe it is a result of all those children that I dreamt up while struggling through infertility or that sweet child that we lost before I even realized I was pregnant or the four boys that we had the honor of caring for while they were in community foster care.  But I just can never shake that feeling that someone is missing; that there is this piece of our family, of my heart out there somewhere.

Some people are meant to be lawyers or nurses or teachers, I was made to be a mother.  I knew it and so did anyone that knew me.  So it was quite the blow four years ago when month after month I didn’t get pregnant.  As a 27 year old newlywed, I just assumed that if we left the possibility open for a few months we would soon be expecting, but that wasn’t what happened for us.  In fact it would take years to get any kind of answers other than. “It will happen when it’s meant to happen.”  After a year of trying, we decided to reevaluate our family plan of having a few children and then completing our family through adoption.  God had made it very clear to me while serving on a missions trip in Africa that we were called to domestic adoption, specifically adoption through foster care (but that’s a whole other story!), so we refocused our efforts to getting licensed to foster and adopt while always leaving the opportunity for a biological child open.

For us foster care was HARD.  Getting into classes that worked with my husband’s work schedule was hard.  Getting our new home to meet our state rules was hard—and expensive.  Having to jump through extra hoops required for licensing was hard.  Waiting was hard.  Having absolutely no control was hard.  Having to say goodbye to a child that we loved and dreamt of a future with was EXCRUCIATING.  I did not believe in love at first sight until the moment that our first foster son was handed to me.  The emotions that I felt in that instant to protect and love him were as fierce as they were overwhelming.  In the eight months to follow we would have a total of four boys fill our home with laughter and joy.  And each time they would leave was a devastating blow.  It was 10,000 times harder than our journey with infertility.  We absolutely love those boys and would take any of them back into our lives in whatever capacity we could at any moment.  They are our sons.

No matter how much I loved my boys I always had the gut feeling that our first-born would be a girl.  To be honest I idolized the experience of being a girl mom with the frilly dresses, cute hairstyles, ballet classes, and mommy/daughter activities.  Then one day scrolling through Facebook I saw a post from a foster mom looking for a forever family for her two young girls.  At that moment we had a one month old and a four month old and we knew that there were relatives working towards getting custody but were in denial that either—let alone both—would be leaving us any time soon so I just scrolled on by.  But I simply couldn’t shake the feeling that I should respond to her post.  And after a day of going back and forth on if I should respond or not I decided to just get a little more information.  Just a couple of days later, we met our daughters for the first time.  Now it would take a couple of months before they would be placed in our care (and one court hearing that sent the case back over a year for our younger daughter because of an error) but they were finally in our lives and it simply felt right.

So here we are with a 4 month old, 12 month old, and a 2 ½ year old when we find out that it is confirmed that the girl’s biological mother is pregnant and due in just a month!  With our foster son’s plan heading towards a kinship placement we said yes to taking the baby and prepared for the best Christmas present ever!!  We brought our son home just two days before Christmas, but we had to say goodbye to our foster son just nine days after that.  We settled in as a family of five with everyone’s case headed towards severance and adoption, but like every other part of our journey to becoming parents it had to blow up in our faces first.

We heard the words no foster parent headed to adoption ever once to hear, “The children’s biological grandmother has a positive home study.  You need to prepare for them to be leaving your care.”  We were heart broken.  Our adoptive placement with a three year case history was being derailed and all we could do was sit back and watch it happen, praying that whatever happened it was truly what was best for the kids.  It was this time of indecision that family friend’s approached my grandparents to see if we would be interested in a private adoption.  Their youngest son’s birth mom was seven months pregnant and looking for a loving home for the baby and through much prayer they had felt lead to us.

I’m sure my husband thought I was insane—everyone else did—but I instantly knew we had to take this baby.  Whether our other three stayed or went in my heart I just knew this was our answer to prayer, our special child.  And my goodness is she ever!!  In August our sweet girl was born via cesarean and I was right there for not only her birth but also for those first snuggles, first bottle, first diaper change, all of it!  In fact I stayed in the hospital with her and her biological mother until we were able to come home.  It was an amazing experience to be there from the moment she was born.  However, her adoption was not a breeze either.  Her biological father refused to sign papers, her biological mother experienced second thoughts, the cost nearly tripled, and her adoption was delayed three months due to a lawyer’s mistake.  But we made it through each hurdle and she was worth it all!

At this same time the judge declared that the other three were safer and better off in our care. After thirteen months we were able to adopt our eldest daughter and then six months later we adopted her two younger siblings, our middle children.  We were licensed on April 17, 2016 and finalized our last two adoptions April 16, 2018 so in exactly two years our family was complete.  It is not how we thought it would happen and was definitely not on our timetable but it was exactly what was always meant to be.  And I will never get over the joy of hearing, “Smith, party of 6.”  That is unless there is a surprise yet in store for us.  A mama can still hope, right?

If you’d like to connect with Charissa, you can find her on Instagram!

Babe In My Arms, Blogs, Uncategorized

Full Hands, Fuller Heart

November 5, 2018

Written by Heather Crockett, Guest Blogger

When I was 13 years old my parents sat me down and told me I would never be able to have kids. At 6 weeks old, after an ultrasound for vomiting, they discovered my uterus and ovaries weren’t attached properly. 34 years ago the doctor decided it would be best to just take them out for risk of cancer because of non-functioning. That is when I learned about adoption.

It became my option. I read articles about it and researched it. I always knew that someday I would have to tell my future spouse.

Then I met Jason. The man of my dreams. The man I had been waiting for all my life. Before we got engaged I sat him down and told him the biggest secret of my life. That I couldn’t ever give him biological children. He grabbed my face and told me it didn’t matter how we had kids. That no matter what they would be ours. I sobbed and that’s when I knew.

We started the adoption process after we got married and got approved June 14th, 2017. After doing lots of research I never felt good or could justify spending $50k with an agency. So we marketed ourselves on social media. We made an instagram page, Facebook page, and profile on adoption.com and posted every day. 5 regular posts about our lives and 1 heartfelt adoption post.

We paid for Facebook promotions $30 every 10 days and promoted one specific post with professional pictures of our family explaining why we were hoping to adopt. We paid for the cheapest profile on adoption.com. We were contacted by a handful of people. Many of which were scammers. Overly dramatic or asking for money right away. We instantly knew to steer clear.

Sept 1 I got a message from a woman on our FB Page. She wanted to talk on the phone. More nervous than I had ever been, we talked for an hour and a half. She then said she wanted us to adopt her baby. We kept chatting over the next month but we couldn’t fully commit because she gave us no proof of pregnancy. No ultrasound with her name on it.

October 2nd we received a message from a woman on adoption.com asking us to meet up here in our home state two days later at a diner. We agreed and she showed up with her mom and she was very pregnant. At the end of breakfast she asked us “if we would adopt her baby and love him forever”. We all sobbed. 3 weeks later we watched as little Andy was born and I was the first to hold him. It was a real miracle.

A few months later I received a phone call from the woman we had previously had to tell no because we never had any proof. She said she didn’t feel good about the family she had chosen after us and knew that this little boy (at the time we didn’t know she was still pregnant or even with a boy) was supposed to be in our family. After many prayers and a lot of faith we flew out with our 2 month old and watched as little Ellis was born and Jason got to cut the cord.

We now have 2 beautiful boys who are 4 months apart. We have open adoptions with both sets of birth parents and they follow me on social media and we also text back and forth.

This past summer we flew Ellis’ oldest biological brother to visit. After just 10 days of staying with us, he asked if he could stay. After talking with his mom, we now have a 13 year old boy living with us and so grateful for the relationship we have with him and his family.

Because everyone always asks us – both of our adoptions from lawyers, social workers, travel, and finalization cost less than $20k for both. We realize and are so thankful for the wonderful blessings we have witnessed this last year. It’s been a crazy year to say the least. But I wouldn’t have it any other way!

If you’d like to connect with Heather, you can find her on Instagram or Facebook!

 

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