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Don’t Let it Steal Your Joy

March 8, 2019

Written by Amber Reynolds, Guest Blogger

It was a Sunday just like any Sunday. I showed up early to serve at church, grabbed a cup of coffee, and headed to the sound booth. Then someone made a joke. A seemingly off-hand, nonchalant, in-passing joke.

“You think you need coffee now, just wait until you have a baby up all night, I didn’t sleep a wink!”  

It didn’t take much to knock the wind out of me those days, so that little joke, well, it put me right over the edge. I chuckled and continued on my way, but inside I was dying a little.

“I WOULD DO ANYTHING TO BE UP ALL NIGHT WITH A BABY! I WOULD GIVE UP COFFEE FOR A YEAR…FOR A LIFETIME! IF YOU’RE SO CRANKY ABOUT HAVING A BABY WHY DON’T YOU JUST GIVE ME YOURS! WHY IS EVERYONE ALWAYS HAVING BABIES AND THEN COMPLAINING ABOUT THEM! THIS ISN’T FAIR. I MATTER TOO.”

The voice in my head is quite loud and dramatic. But my feelings are valid. It may have taken me three years to realize it, but how I feel mentally is just as valid as how I feel physically. Society puts a ton of weight on parenthood. You become an adult, and then a spouse, but you really level up when you become a parent. Those of us who haven’t leveled up yet don’t deserve coffee because a tiny human is yet to demand every second of our time. Again, loud and dramatic.

But we were doing everything right. The dieting: eat this but not too much and don’t eat that except on Tuesdays. The exercise: run but not too long and lift but not too heavy. The reading: everyone has something to say and why doesn’t anyone agree on the said dieting and exercise? We tried acupuncture, natural supplements, chiropractor visits, essential oils, charting, testing, and we were tired.

Unexplained infertility.

The gross beast of a diagnosis. Nothing to do, yet everything to try. Every different suggestion brings on new (but cautious) hope. Everyone you meet has a story to share about someone they know that tried a thing and the next day they were pregnant. We have tried many of the things. I have yet to become pregnant.

My husband and I are now five years into this painful infertility journey. We have moved multiple times, changed occupations, buried my father, bought a couple of homes, and even became foster parents. All of those things have molded us into who we are, they have altered our identity, and changed our perspective.

I no longer want to throat-punch anyone who makes a joke about babies. I’ve cared for babies who have kept me up all night. I no longer cringe when I see a pregnancy announcement, my joy overflows for my friends. I no longer cry every time I get my period (although sometimes I do because WTF). I no longer kill myself with my diet and exercise, allowing myself a beer with my salad has been lovely grace. But just because our perspective has been altered, does not mean that we have given up. Being called mommy by my precious foster babies is a joy I never knew if I would have. However, it does not take away the longing to carry a child in my womb.

This fertility journey sucks. It sucks the joy out of life, the fun out of sex, the laughter out of jokes. Five years in, I’ve learned it is okay to hate this part of our story, but it isn’t okay to dwell on that hatred. So we find joy. We dwell on the things that don’t suck. We make sex, and eating, and exercise, and massages, and reading less of a chore and more of an adventure. Do you allow the “this-use-to-be-fun-and-now-it-sucks” part of infertility steal your joy?! Don’t let it! Fight the drift! And for goodness sakes, drink coffee whenever you feel like it!

If you’d like to connect with Amber, you can find her on Instagram or her Blog

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Inflammation and Infertility

February 25, 2019

Written by Laura Gilstrap, Guest Blogger

The female body is amazing. We are creatures of resilience. Of elegance. Of beauty.  We carry life, birth life, and provide nutrients for life…all while working full time jobs, running households and hitting the gym. Literally, we are astonishing.

The immune system of a woman also deserves a lot of attention. When you really think about it, our reproductive system has an incomparable capacity to resolve inflammation. Each menstrual cycle, we clear tissue and waste and then quickly regenerates back to base-line.  Only to do it over and over again.

So, lets break down inflammation. There are 2 forms of inflammation – acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is just that, a quick addition of blood flow to the damaged area to promote healing. It is characterized by the presence of white blood cells and phagocytes (immune cells that clear the inflamed area.) Acute inflammation is a natural part of many reproductive process. Hormonal changes resulting in egg maturation, ovulation, and endometrial lining changes all have a normal inflammatory component. 

Chronic inflammation on the other hand, results when the acute immune response remains active. Chronic inflammation can disrupt ovulation, hormone balance, and implantation. Conditions like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, early menopause, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, poor sperm and egg quality, and premature ovarian failure have all been linked to chronic inflammation and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Inflammation is also likely to be associated with other prominent aspects of PCOS including insulin resistance, endothelial dysfunction, and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors. (1).

As a woman battling PCOS, I am no stranger to chronic inflammation reaping havoc in the body. I can still remember being diagnosed.  The OB told me “you will never have children naturally.”  I cried.  Oh, did I cry.  And then…I researched.  I read anything and everything there was to read about PCOS.  It became my life.

Because of PCOS, I battled years of painful infertility treatment. I found myself alienating fertile friends, avoiding events with children and young families, and feeling overcome with anxiety. Having the knowledge and motivation to combat PCOS’s inflammatory properties is how I survived this life-changing syndrome. Honestly, any reproductive concerns that incorporates excess pain suggests the body is experiencing a large amount of inflammation and needs to be addressed personally, medically and/or holistically.

Recently, inflammation has been heavily studied as a fertility challenge because inflammation is a very complex biological response of vascular tissue to a harmful stimuli.  Basically, it means the body is reacting to an irritation, infection, or injury.

One of the most important markers of inflammation is C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is an acute-phase reactant produced by hepatocytes under the stimulatory control of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin (IL)-6 and tumor necrosis factor ? (TNF?) (2). Growing evidence supports the concept that CRP may not be the only marker, but also a mediator of inflammatory processes (3,4).  Investigators at The Center for Human Reproduction, under the leadership of David H. Barad, recently completed a study which demonstrated inflammatory blood markers, CRP and IL-6, had statistically highly significant predictability if elevated with diminished IVF outcomes (pregnancy and live birth rates) and increased miscarriage risk.

Inflammation is both triggered and worsened by stress, lifestyle and diet.  If you’re looking to begin the healing process, holistic and natural therapies are great starting point. Here are a few ideas:

  • Just Relax! (Which is literally the WORST thing you can ever say to an infertile woman). But sadly, it’s true. Chronic stress stimulates the inflammatory response. Try incorporating therapies like yoga, fertility massage, meditation, mind-body programs, nightly baths, aromatherapy, journaling or anything that resonates with you, to reduce stressors in your life.
  • Consume more fresh and raw fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruit and veggies are high in antioxidants and food enzymes, which act as natural anti-inflammatories. Their antioxidants help quench free radicals which run rapid in inflamed bodies. Fresh foods are also alkalizing and detoxifying, helping to remove chemicals like uric acid.
  • Eat More Fat! Yep…I said it…EAT. FAT.  Now, hear me out…

The body needs a healthy balance of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids for multiple reasons such as reproductive health, blood clotting, blood pressure control, and immune function. Excess consumption of Omega-6’s can trigger the body to produce pro-inflammatory chemicals potentially leading to chronic inflammatory diseases. In general, Omega-6’s are pro-inflammatory while Omega-3’s are anti-inflammatory. (5)

Omega-6 fatty acids are found in plant oils such as sunflower, safflower, and corn oils, but they are also present in cereals, corn-fed animal fat, and wholegrain bread.

The fats I recommend eating are Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA), also know as Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids. EPA is the lipid structure our body uses to make beneficial prostaglandins that reduce inflammation.

Rich dietary sources of Omega-3 fatty acids include cold water fish such as salmon, trout, herring, tuna, and cod, and green leafy vegetables, flaxseed, and rapeseed oils. Increase intake of monounsaturated fats from plant foods like avocado, nuts and seeds, and olive oil also help fight inflammation and nourish the reproductive system.

Optimal dietary intakes of the Omega-6’s and Omega-3’s?ratio should be around 1:4?(6).

  • Increase Fiber and Pre & Probiotic Consumption: Kombucha, unprocessed whole grains, legumes, and beans help to regulate insulin levels, metabolize excess estrogen, and pull inflammatory toxins out of the body.
  • Kick Gluten to the Curb! Gluten is a protein found in grains. It’s common in foods such as bread, pasta, pizza, and cereal. Gluten provides no essential nutrients. People who are sensitive to gluten can have symptoms anywhere in the body when partially digested gluten fragments leak from the intestine into the bloodstream. Unlike other proteins, gluten is not completely digested. In some people, the immune system sees gluten as the enemy and will unleash compounds to attack it, causing inflammation in the intestines as well as other organs and tissues.
  • Daily Turmeric (curcumin):?Turmeric contains curcumin, which is widely studied for its therapeutic effects on IL-6, CRP, and TNF-?. One particular study published by the Journal of Reproductive Infertility studied 72 female rats with outcomes showing that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of curcumin on PCOS may be due to its inhibitory effect on expression and levels of TNF-?, serum IL-6 and CRP. (7) Take turmeric or curcumin with a meal containing fats (they’re fat soluble) and be sure to include black pepper extract to boost its absorbability and bioavailability.
  • Proteolytic Enzymes:?Enzymes like trypin, rutin, bromelain, papain, pancreatin, and chymotrypsin are thought to help break down the chemicals involved in inflammation.

Typical acute inflammation is a necessary component for cellular repair during ovulation, menstruation, implantation, and birth. While acute inflammation helps repair your body, chronic inflammation is detrimental to homeostasis and is known to be the root cause of a variety of imbalances in the body.

You can reverse the damaging effects of inflammation on the reproductive system just by making healthier lifestyle choices. Limit alcohol, caffeine, and/or smoking and by eating clean and colorful. An inflammatory response can also be triggered by physical, mental, and emotional stress.  Take a step back and focus on yourself if you have to. Inflammation reduction will not only help your reproductive system, it will help promote a healthier mind, body, and soul for you AND your future baby.

Just remember, your path may be a different one, a slower one, but are on it and your goals can be reached.

References

  1. Ross R. Atherosclerosis–an inflammatory disease. N Engl J Med. 1999;340:115–26

2. Castell JV, Gomez-Lechon MJ, David M, Andus T, Geiger T, Trullenque R, et al. Interleukin-6 is the major regulator of acute phase protein synthesis in adult human hepatocytes. FEBS Lett. 1989;242:237–9

3. Han KH, Hong KH, Park JH, Ko J, Kang DH, Choi KJ, et al. C-reactive protein promotes monocyte chemoattractant protein-1–mediated chemotaxis through upregulating CC chemokine receptor 2 expression in human monocytes. Circulation. 2004;109:2566–71

4. Venugopal SK, Devaraj S, Jialal I. Effect of C-reactive protein on vascular cells: evidence for a proinflammatory, proatherogenic role. Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens. 2005;14:33–7

5. E. Patterson,   R. Wall,  G. F. Fitzgerald,  R. P. Ross, and C. Stanton. Health Implications of High Dietary Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids. J Nutr Metab. 2012; 2012: 539426

6. Calder PC. Polyunsaturated fatty acids, inflammatory processes and inflammatory bowel diseases. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. 2008;52(8):885–897

7. S. Mohammadi, P. Kayedpoor, L. Karimzadeh-Bardei, and M. Nabiuni. The Effect of Curcumin on TNF-?, IL-6 and CRP Expression in a Model of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome as an Inflammation State. J Reprod Infertil. 2017 Oct-Dec; 18(4): 352–360

If you’d like to connect with Laura, you can find her on Instagram and her Nutrition Instagram, as well as Facebook and her Website!

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A Note For My Littlest Valentine

February 14, 2019

Written by Brooke Papp, WTF Contributor

To my littlest Valentine growing in my belly –

Your daddy and I have been waiting for you for quite some time and we are anxiously awaiting your arrival!

After our two losses of angel babies before you, I can’t say we had given up hope but I can say we were slightly defeated so with every single movement or kick or body slam on my bladder, I am amazed at the strong little girl you are. You are definitely the Rainbow we’ve been waiting for after our storm.

I can’t wait to meet you and see who’s features you have or if it’s the perfect mixture of both of us. I can’t wait to be there for your milestones and hear your fears and dreams and listen to your imagination soar.

I can’t wait to be tested in all the steps of parenthood and to grow together in ways I didn’t know were possible. But for now, just finish cookin’ and we will meet you when you’re ready to make your long awaited debut.

Happy Valentine’s Day to the one who is going to change my life and be my forever Valentine, your daddy and I are already so smitten!

?

If you’d like to connect with Brooke, you can find her over on Instagram


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The Path Less Traveled

February 12, 2019

Written by Marci Thomas, Guest Blogger

Hi Friends! I am excited to share a little bit of my story with you. I am a 37-year-old single and never married lady who is ready to be a mom. I work a full-time job as a paralegal at a large, full-service law firm.  I have worked in the commercial real estate and banking department for almost four years.

When I’m not at work, I am with family and friends, and I am outside as much as I can be. I am family-oriented and would rather spend my Friday nights sitting on my sister’s couch watching Sofia the First with my 2-year-old and 10-month-old nieces than to go out to a crowded restaurant. My enneagram number is 2 with a 3 wing, and my love language is quality time, and I show love by being generous with my time and buying thoughtful gifts just to make someone’s day. I usually don’t care what we’re doing; I just want to be around people, but don’t ask me to eat sushi. I’ve tried that and it was not my favorite meal.

I don’t remember getting my first baby doll, “Christy” (which sounded more like “Fristy” when I said it with my toddler-lisp), but I know I loved her. I loved her so much that she had an identical twin that mom would swap out so she could wash the well-loved cloth-baby doll. I was a mom before I could walk. And then a wonderful person (I don’t know if I know who) gave me a bigger, more life-like doll when my sister was born. I mothered that doll for years. She still sleeps in her cradle in my closet. When I was 8 ½ years old, my youngest sister was born. I traded in my dolls for her. I think it’s safe to say she was my first real baby. And she’ll be 29 years old next week.

Being a mom is the only childhood dream that I still carry with me. I wasn’t the girl who had her wedding planned out before graduating high school, but I had my babies named. I did want marriage, and I still do, but I’ve been a single girl for a very long time, and I’m happy with being single. But not being a mom makes me sad.

There was a restlessness stirring in me a few years ago, but I shoved it aside because I was too busy focusing on my career as a paralegal. Somewhere along the way I convinced myself that the restlessness was career-related, and since the next step up for a paralegal is an attorney, I thought that was what I was supposed to do. I researched what I needed to do to get into law school, and I even took the LSAT. I’m proud of myself for doing it, but I didn’t have peace about going to law school.

Around the time that I was trying to figure out what I was supposed to do next, a friend of mine was promoting the non-profit she founded to support kids in foster care. I paid close attention to the message she was sharing, and the statistics shattered my heart. And then the restlessness came back. I knew that there was more that I could do. I remember telling my dad that I knew I could do more than financially contribute or volunteer, I could open my home. And so, I began to research foster care, particularly the eligibility requirements. I was excited to learn that my singleness did not disqualify me. My plan was to foster kids and eventually adopt.

The further I got in my research, the stronger the desire to adopt a baby grew. I continued to pursue both fostering older kids, and adopting a baby. I even considered embryo adoption. In November 2018, in the heart of Adoption Awareness month, I had a consultation with an embryo adoption agency, and a consultation with an infant adoption agency. That’s when I found out that my plan of fostering kids while waiting to adopt wasn’t going to work, primarily because I did not want to wait the required waiting time, and also because my agency won’t let a person be a part of two programs at the same time.

On November 8, 2018, I made the decision to pursue domestic infant adoption. I didn’t have to pray about it. I just knew. My formal application was accepted not long after that on November 14th, and I am currently waiting for an approved home study, which I hope to have by the end of March.

Becoming a mom by adoption is not what I imagined. I did have plans to adopt one day, but I was going to do that with a husband after we had at least two kids already. Now that I have so much invested in this adoption journey, I can’t see becoming a mom any other way. I have not experienced this level of peace before now; the decision to go back to college in my 30s comes close, but it is not the same type of peace. I just know that this is what I’m supposed to do, and I’m not going to wait until my life looks like my dreams.

I am choosing to be a single mom, and I know that is not a choice that many people understand. I met resistance from some people, but overall, this has been a fun journey and I would never go back.  

If you’d like to connect with Marci, you can read more about her adoption journey here, or find her on Facebook or Instagram

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Taking Back New Years

January 3, 2019

Written by Ashtyn Kalika, Guest Blogger

New years can be a tough journey for the fertility challenged as we reflect on the year that was. The months spent hoping and praying for our arms to be filled, the intense up and down emotional roller coaster, the empty womb.  You can’t help but envision and pray for your dreams to become a reality in the New Year.

I have only been on this journey for two years now. Last New Year’s and Christmas was not a happy time for me. I thought I would be a mom and things were just not leaning that way. Fast forward to now and I’m nowhere closer to the end of this journey. However this year I want it to be a different kind of New Year. I call it taking back “New Years”. I’m taking back the joy that has been stolen this year. I’m taking back the time spent crying and being miserable. I’m taking back control. This journey to motherhood is so out of our control, so I am choosing to spend my energy on things I can control.

My five steps to taking back New Year’s are:

  1. Don’t set deadlines

How many times have you told yourself “I have to get pregnant by my birthday/partner’s birthday” or “by Easter” or “by Christmas”? Let go of these. They put unnecessary pressure on you and emphasize the lack of control you have over the timing of when you will conceive. No one knows how long their journey will be (insert big sigh). We just need to trust that it will all be revealed in His perfect timing.

  1. Don’t play the blame game

Be kind on yourself and your partner. Don’t blame yourself for past actions or hate your body for not functioning the way you want to. Don’t feel that you could have prayed harder or eaten better or had more faith. The negative self-talk is all lies. Don’t believe all the lies and give yourself permission to move on and ignore the lies. Accept the truth instead. The truth is: you are strong, courageous and loved. You are doing the best you can and that is good enough.

  1. Self-Care

Look after yourself. Spend time reading new books, being quiet, meeting new people. Make friends, laugh, and go for a massage or a fresh new haircut. Go for a walk and get some fresh air while enjoying the beauty around you. Spend time doing things with your partner and taking time out to talk and laugh and forget about the journey even for a moment. Try new things together, go on a hike, camp, try a new restaurant, and go on a date night. Just spend time being intentional with each other. Don’t define yourself by your journey. You are more than that. I am not fertility challenged, I am Ashtyn!

  1. Limit the negative words and let go of the jealousy and bitterness

I know it is so difficult not to let feelings of jealousy and hurt creep up when it seems as if a lot of people around you get pregnant so easily. However we just need to be careful as we never know the story in someone else’s journey. The lady you saw in the shops could have fought massive health battles to carry that baby. The woman you walked past could be a surrogate. It’s always harder on us when we hold onto the feelings of jealousy or resentment because we end up being the ones who get hurt not the people we are resenting. Try where you can to replace those negative feelings with positive ones. Replace it with hope. Every day you feel negative or full of resentment or despair replace it with hope. Write down scripture or verses or anything encouraging. Write it on your arm or place it all around your house. Read these anytime you feel you are losing hope.

  1. Keep pushing forward

It’s tough but just keep on moving (as Dory would say: keep on swimming!). Until you choose another option or to give up entirely, keep moving forward. Keep hoping and striving for your hopes. You got this!

I know these are not easy steps to do and I know this journey is tough. My hope is that even one of these steps will make the New Year just a little easier to bear.

Here is to a better, happier, healthier and more positive 2019! May it be the year our prayers are answered and wombs are filled with healthy babies.

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

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Dear Family and Friends, Part 3

December 17, 2018

Written by Heather, Guest Blogger

Part three 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.

December 22

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is here again. For the past three years, every November, Allen starts asking me what I want for Christmas. And for the past three years I’ve asked for one thing and one thing only… a baby. It appears that Christmas will come and go again without the us expanding our family with a sweet new baby. But I do feel like we’re one step closer with everything that we are doing. I wanted to update you on our fertility issues, surrogacy, and the adoption process.

Allen and I met with Dr K again on December 2. We have had this appointment booked for three months. After talking with him for over an hour, we both left with our heads spinning. He showed us a picture of our one grade A frozen embryo compared to the three embryos (all grade Bs) that we have put in me- lots of visible differences.  Basically Dr. K doesn’t think a surrogate (actually the correct term is “gestational carrier”) is necessary. Dr K thinks that as long as we can get my body where it needs to be that our embryo would do great in me. So that left us with a lot to think about. Before leaving the office Dr. K ran several more tests on me, since they were 2 yrs old.

Yesterday I received a call from the nurse and most of the test results came back within the correct range. All except for my “AMG” which is my egg quality. It has drastically gone down since January. It was 2.2 and it is now 0.5. So I have to start taking two more vitamins for the next three months so we definitely won’t be transferring that frozen embryo into me anytime soon.

Yesterday we met with another fertility Dr. to get a second opinion. We also left there with our heads spinning. Basically he doesn’t believe in “unexplained infertility.” His method involves identifying the problem and then working to correct it. So we are taking his suggestion and I have to start “charting” myself everyday for the next three months. I won’t go into details because you wouldn’t even believe me. The charting is so specific that I have to be trained on it and meet with this lady every two weeks. UGH!!!!!!

Moving right along…

As for the adoption process things have been very busy! Allen and I both had to fill out numerous discussion questions about our life. Honestly, it’s CRAZY! Here are some questions that we had to each answer separately….

– What qualities, values, and character would you like to develop in your children and how would you promote these?

– What significant events or experiences have shaped your personality?

– What were the positive and negative qualities of your family?

– Describe your parent’s relationship to each other both while you were growing up and today.

– What are your main areas of disagreement?  Do you and your spouse agree on spending and saving?

– What role does your physical relationship play in your marriage?

– Have you ever physically/sexually abused a child?

Yep, that’s right. Crazy, huh?!?! It’s absolutely shocking to think there all some people in this world who don’t want children or can’t care for their children or abuse their children, yet they have children (and usually LOTS).  Then there are people like us who would do anything for a child.

We are currently in the process of working on our finances, references are being turned in, criminal background check, fingerprints, and the interview process. Last night we had a two-hour interview as a couple, including a 30-minute video on child-abuse. Our next interview is Monday. This is will be separate interviews and more video training.

We wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

XOXO

A & H

February 20

Okay, y’all. I had to share this story and ask for your prayers. Hopefully you can follow it. I have shortened it, but hopefully you will get as excited as we did/are!

Sunday I decided to clean out my closet (it was a nightmare). I then posted several items on a Facebook resale site. I had a lady wanting to try on two of the tops/tunics. She came over after school on Monday to try them on and while we were chatting she asked if we had kids. (Who does that??? We’d only met three minutes prior to that.) I kindly replied, “No. We are in the adoption process.” She said, “No way! I’m an adoption attorney.” As our conversation continued she realized that she had already been told about our plans to adopt. She had actually received an email last week from one of my current student’s parents. Needless to say, I was shocked! Here I was standing in our guest bedroom talking to an adoption attorney who already knew about us!

Well, it gets even better! She currently has a birth mother, age 28, due June 5! Don’t let this next part freak you out….but she is in jail. We don’t know why…but there she is getting prenatal care and supervision. The attorney asked for a copy of our birth parent letter and will be taking it with her on Wednesday. She will also have two other options for the birth mother to look at.

So, please pray! Pray for this birth mother. Pray that our letter and pictures touch her heart. Pray that she is in good hands at the jail. Please pray that Allen and I can stay hopeful.

We know that God in is control and He knows the plans He has for us.

Love,  Allen and Heather

March 28

I hope you had a wonderful Easter holiday!

I thought I would send an update on where we are. As I mentioned before, Allen and I have been seeing a 2nd opinion fertility specialist, Dr. P.  He recently did a hormone series test on me which included blood work for 3 1/2 weeks (every Mon, Wed, Fri). The results showed that I had low thyroid, low progesterone, and other issues that led him to believe surgery would be beneficial. So, of course, we jumped on it! Surgery was this past Friday and he did four different procedures. It was definitely worth it.

Four findings:

  1. Both Fallopian tubes were partially blocked. Dr. cleared the tubes by expanding them with a wire then flushed with fluids. Typically an open set of tubes would allow 5 lbs of air through them. Mine took 30 lbs to get through.
  2. I did have some endometriosis that he was able to remove. (Tissue that grows on the outside of the uterus.)
  3. My entire abdominal area shows inflammation. Dr. showed Allen and Mom pictures. The area is extremely red and inflamed. (It should be pink) Dr. said this can be corrected with diet and later with medicine.
  4. He removed two cysts.I am just so grateful that they found some problem areas and corrected them.  Hopefully this will help us! I’m pretty sore and uncomfortable now but resting. Dr. H has been amazing!Several of you have asked about our adoption process. I have had several people reach out to me that have heard our story from your shares on Facebook or from friends sending private emails to their contacts about our story. All the women I’ve talked to have adopted and were so positive, encouraging, and uplifting.We are still waiting for a baby whether that be through a birth-mother or biologically. (Or both!) The attorney that came to my house to buy clothes was not able to get to the jail to meet with the birth mother as she had planned. She was going to reschedule and said she would keep me posted. I have not heard anything.Thank you for your continuous love and support.

Allen and Heather

April 8

Today as I was driving home from school I received a phone call from an attorney. This is the attorney that found out about us from one of my current student’s parents and the lady who came to try on clothes I was selling online. Remember as she left our house she said, “This is a God thing.”

Well… It was a God thing. She called to inform us that the birth mother picked us!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, can you believe it??!?! She picked us. She was given three birth letters and she chose us! We are still in shock and trying to process the whole thing.

The birth mother, A, is in her mid-20s and is having a baby boy via C-section on June 8. So I will get to spend my summer vacation with our baby! “It’s a God thing!”

She has asked to meet us, and we want to meet her very much. So our attorneys are finding a time for us to visit her in jail. (It will be my first time ever in a jail!)

Please continue to pray.
Pray for this baby boy.
Pray that he is healthy.
Pray for Mama A.
Pray that she will continue to do what is best for this baby.
Pray for her strength and courage.

Pray for our patience and faith.

Much Love,

Allen and Heather

May 9

Allen and I just left the jail from our first meeting with birth mother, A. Both of our attorneys were present. She seemed at peace with placing this baby. She is concerned about how she will feel after the delivery. She only wants to see the baby after he is born but does not want any other contact while in the hospital. She said she wanted to make sure we would be in the nursery with him. Which I assured her we would be.

Please pray for Mama A and for her to have peace with our meeting and knowing she’s making the best decision for this baby. Please pray for this baby boy. Pray that he is healthy. Please pray that the attorneys can find the father and get him to sign over his rights. Please pray for Allen and me as we anxiously await every single minute of every single day.

Much love,

Allen and Heather

June 2

It has been three years and three months since Allen and I started to grow our family– that’s 1189 days. As you know our journey has been a long and emotional one. With that being said, I can honestly say that Allen and I have grown in our relationship and know that we can pretty much handle anything together.

A BIG thank you to each of you—thank you for your continuous love, prayers, and support throughout it all! Allen and I are in awe of the kindness and compassion we have seen from so many people. It has been so comforting to receive random calls, texts, flowers, and emails from friends and family just letting us know that they are praying and thinking of us.

Baby boy is due in FIVE DAYS.

(the adoption failed, the birth mother was able to give the baby to a friend until she got out of jail)

July 13

Good Morning Family & Friends,

As you know on June 6 we found out that we would not be bringing “baby boy” home. It was beyond devastating for us and still hurts to this day. I find myself thinking about him daily and wondering how he is doing, what he looks like, and what kind of life he will be given. I pray that the Lord watches over him and keeps him safe, happy, and loved.

At the end of our adoption process (June 3) we found out that I was pregnant. It was actually two years to the date that we lost our first baby. For a few days we thought we were going to welcome two babies into this world. We couldn’t believe it! We were blessed with this miracle and prayed that we would one day hold that baby in our arms. On June 15 we lost that baby also. (At six weeks, for reasons unknown)

Allen and I struggle with the Lord’s plan for us. We continue to have faith and hope, even though there are days (or hours) that make it challenging. We know God is good and we are trusting in Him.

We are thankful that the month of June is over!

Which brings us to where we are to date… After much research and consideration, Allen and I have decided to sign with an adoption consulting firm.

Heather and Allen

November 22

Can I be honest?

This time of the year is very hard for me. I mean really hard! I dread the holidays. I know you are probably thinking, “How can Heather not enjoy this time of year?” For the past four years, I have prayed that Allen and I would have a baby to celebrate Christmas with and that has not happened yet. It’s looking like 2016 will come and go without a baby for us.

I know we are waiting on His time.

I know that He has a plan for us.

I know that I am not in control.

I know that I need to be patient.

I know….

But y’all it’s hard. It’s more than hard. It’s exhausting. It’s mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially exhausting.

(Ok, deep breath) Thank you for letting me express my true and raw feelings. Now for an update.

Allen have I have been active with the consultantung firm for three months today. During this time, we have received 46 birth mother profiles. Some profiles are full of details; some have very little information. We are starting to learn that “less could be more.” It is very overwhelming reading 18-22 pages worth of material on a person. Then we struggle with being judgmental. Here we are wanting a baby more than anything, but we are given the choice to present to them or pass. Who are we to judge? We have no idea what type of child we would receive biologically, so why should we be so picky with these birth mothers? All that to say, we have now presented to 7 birth mothers and 6 of them have chosen another family. (yes, heartbreaking to say the least)

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

Dec 12

We are pregnant…no treatments, no meds, nothing but God’s timing! Please pray for our baby!

Dec 18

Tonight we recieved a call and we have matched with a birth mother! Baby Boy due in May!

As many of you know, I have always wanted twins. In high school I wanted to name them McKinsey and MaCaulay. Then in college, it was Taylor and Tyler. Always one boy and one girl. Well the Lord is writing our story and it looks like he’s answering my prayers after all these years…” twiblings.” I can’t wait until we have both of these babies home and in our arms. Allen and I will have an amazing testimony to share of God’s grace and faithfulness.

William was born on May 12 AND Phillips was born on August 23 ….3 months and 16 days apart. We are so blessed and thank the Lord for our “little blessing” and our “little miracle.”

Jeremiah 29:11

Uncategorized

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:

  • Listen. 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.

Babe In My Arms, Babe In My Heart, Blogs, Uncategorized

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!

 

Uncategorized

Where there is Life, there is Love

November 30, 2018

Written by Sosina, Guest Blogger

There is a reason epidurals exist. Bringing a baby into this world is painful! Not only is there contractions and exhaustion, there is also the ring of fire and the dreaded tearing! Even with an epidural you still must endure a catheter and immense pressure. Bringing a baby into this world is painful! Too bad there’s no “mental epidural” for bringing a baby into the world through infertility or adoption. Now that would be nice! But just like giving birth, even through infertility struggles and adoption pains, once that baby is placed in your arms, you will experience the halo effect. Meaning: all the pain is eclipsed by the relief and joy. At least, that’s how my adoption experience went.

Our story starts with a desire to have children through adoption, but also biologically. Like many other couples, we decided to start with biological children. Well, that didn’t happen. We discovered that I had pelvic floor and fertility issues; and my husband also had fertility issues. We did 6 months of Clomid and Ovidrel therapy and 4 medicated IUIs. Nothing worked. In fact, as our pregnancy tests kept coming up negative, our doctor’s tests were showing that our infertility issues were being resolved. I started ovulating on my own, my cycle became regular, and my husband started producing healthy samples. But even without a specific diagnosis, we weren’t getting pregnant. I remember sitting in prayer, believing God had put adoption on my heart for a reason, and saying to myself “No matter how much money or time we spend on adoption, at the end there is a baby. That’s a promise fertility treatments and timed intercourse can’t make.” (I have to admit, I cringe at that statement now. But I’m just being real y’all!) Thus, we went full speed ahead with adoption.

I met with all the adoptive moms I knew and called all the agencies they referred me to. We went with the agency that had the least amount of fees, the shortest wait time, and the assurance that disrupted adoptions (when the birth mom chooses to parent) were few. (Now, if you’re a part of the adoption community, that last sentence is going to make you cringe. We were not asking the right questions and we paid for it!) We ended up having 3 adoptions fail at that agency in about 6 months. Each one was a unique circumstance and devastating in it’s own way. But the last one opened my eyes that this wasn’t an agency we wanted to be associated with. Not only did they never offer me any care as I was struggling through the adoption losses, but I realized they showed little care to the expectant moms. The last mom who had asked us to adopt her baby had been asking the social workers for help getting on food stamps and getting an ID. They didn’t help her; instead they told her she could probably do that herself. They didn’t teach her about open adoption; instead they asked her if she would be okay not ever seeing her baby again. This mom ended up placing her child with another agency, to a different family. Frustrated with this experience, later that month we attended a support group and heard that the only 2 social workers were leaving and they currently had no plans to bring another social worker on. We left that meeting knowing it was time to move on but didn’t know to where or how to keep our adoption hope alive.

To make a very complicated story a little less complicated, an agency contacted us because they were looking for interracial couples. We were then matched with a baby boy due in May. This was the first match where I really got to enjoy the pregnancy. I got to hear the heart beat and see ultrasounds. I got to name the baby and call him by his name. I texted back and forth with the expectant mom as if she was a friend. But once the baby was born, his mom decided to parent him. She said her whole pregnancy she felt as if she was the surrogate, until she had him, and then she knew she was his mom. I am grateful to have gotten to support this woman through her pregnancy, but my heart was broken. I returned home and decided I was done with adoption. I was totally content being an amazing auntie to my kid’s friends.  So far, motherhood was painful and I determined it was not for me. I wondered if maybe God was protecting children from what a terrible mother I would be. I was hurting. I couldn’t concentrate at work. My memory had become crappy. I was having a hard time sleeping. I lacked all motivation for the future. I googled my symptoms and the consistent result was grief. I was grieving. Meanwhile, our adoption agency put us on the “do not call unless the baby is born and TPR is signed” list. (TPR is termination of parental rights, meaning the birth mom can no longer change her mind. This is usually done 48 hours after birth.)

Six weeks after that 4th disruption, my son was born. I would love to share all of his story of how his first mom found out she was pregnant and what her pregnancy was like and all of her story. But I would rather tell my son first, so it’ll be about 18+ years before I’m writing those things down for the internet to see, if ever. But I’ll tell you my side of the story. I got a call on June 5th about a “white baby boy born yesterday who will need to spend 7-8 weeks in the NICU. Do you want to present to his mom?” I wanted to say no, NO! Because I had told them I was done presenting to expectant moms, I just wanted to get a call saying there was a baby with TPR already signed. But I already loved that little baby and was picturing myself sitting in the NICU for 2 months so I opened my mouth and said “yes”. Well, so did EIGHTEEN other families. I thought it was a long shot that we would get chosen out of 18 other families. But we said yes and I wrote his mom a letter telling her that “where there is life, there is love”; a quote I had seen on a bracelet at Target. Finally after 5 long days, I got a text from our social worker saying that the expectant mom was finally narrowing it down and wanted to ask us a question. So she called us. It was 8 pm on a Sunday evening and the question was “are you ready to meet your son?” I burst into tears of grief and relief. His birth mom burst into tears of grief and relief. We drove 4 hours to the NICU, calling my boss on the way to tell him I wouldn’t be at work the next day or at all for the next 4 months. I got to the NICU and cried and celebrated for an hour with his birth mom. When she left, the nurse put my 3 lb son on my chest. The moment I felt his paper thin skin on my skin, I kid you not, I forgot all about the infertility, the 4 failed adoptions, the unethical agency, and the pain. I forgot it all. The halo effect!

My son is the best thing that ever happened to me. I understand that he came into my family because his first family couldn’t care for him. And I know that’s never God’s original plan. I know that infertility is never God’s original plan, that he desires health for us. But I also believe that redemption trumps brokenness. That when God’s original plans are broken, his redemptive nature makes a way for birth moms, adoptees, and those struggling with infertility to have healing and shalom. His birth mom gave him life. Where there is life, there is love; and we have no shortage of that in our redeemed triad!

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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