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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!

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

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

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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!

 

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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!

 

Babe In My Heart, Blogs, Uncategorized

Share Your Surrogacy Story!

March 23, 2018

Written by Heather Holden Leddy, guest blogger

I’m a mom and Casting Producer in Los Angeles. I’ve worked on a ton of shows over the last decade which has kept me more than busy! I’ve helped cast everything from Shark Tank to even traveling to Samoa to help with the cast of Survivor a few seasons. It’s been fun and at times not as glamorous as it sounds…but I do get to meet a lot of interesting people and that is what keeps me going. I love hearing people’s stories and it’s always amazing to me how much we all have in common!

My new project has me on an exciting path – I’m working on searching for surrogacy stories with people who used or are planning on using a family member or close friend as a surrogate. This project has become extra special to me because I too have struggled with my own fertility issues. It was a long road for my husband and I and I’m happy to say that at 39, I’m now six months pregnant with our second baby girl!

(Image credit: SimpleSurrogacy.com)

Going through what we’ve been through really gave me a new perspective into the world of trying to get pregnant and made me realize that it’s not that easy for everyone. I have a much greater appreciation for the fertility journey now and know how lucky I am that we were finally able to conceive, not once…but twice.

And now, I’m turn to the What The Fertility community! My hopes are that I can find some inspirational and real stories about the process of gestational surrogacy – from you!

(Image credit: Center for Fertility and Gynecology)

This new docu-series focuses on people that are considering, have undergone, or are currently undergoing the process of gestational surrogacy – from both the prospective of intended mother and the surrogate. A lot of the women I have spoken with have extremely inspirational stories to share about how they have overcome the many obstacles they’ve faced. Family and friendship stories that dispel some of preconceptions of surrogacy are really important and we want to add elements of hope and female empowerment to our storytelling for this project.

So what do you say – will you share your story with us?! Help be the face and voice of hope for so many people who are longing to be parents!

If you have used a family member or close friend as a surrogate and would like to share your inspirational surrogacy journey, please SurrogateStories@gmail.com.

Uncategorized

My Path To The Ultimate Victory

January 16, 2018

Written by Rebekah Venturella, guest blogger

I never imagined that my life would endure such a challenge as this. Life certainly has its share of challenges, but infertility was not something I would have ever imagined facing.

My husband and I have trying to get pregnant for almost four years now. We spent 2017 navigating our way through countless Clomid assisted cycles and four round of IUI, sadly, to no avail. Needless to say, it has been the most trying time of my life.

I’m writing this, we started my first round of stimulation medication in preparation for IVF. With so much anticipation built up around the process and the “big scary shots,” when it begins, it feels as though you’re having an out-of-body experience. It’s both real and surreal at the same time.

You’ve walked a long road up to this point, had your share of utter heartache and shattered hopes, and now it comes down to this moment, as you stand preparing the needle and syringe, diligently cleaning the vile for the allotted fifteen seconds, and you can’t help but think, “Is this going to hurt?” “Am I missing something?” “What am I even doing?!” “Has this really become my new reality!?” And ultimately, at a time when you’d rather it not, the one question always in the back of your mind pesters it’s way forward – “ Will it work this time?”

Regardless, you know you’ve got to try, and you know you will keep trying no matter what, because nothing is worth more. So you summon the courage and gently press the needle in, calm yourself when it begins to burn and the feeling of blacking out washes over you like a wave.

Then, it’s over. You’ve done it. You’ve officially stepped into the world of IVF and attained another small victory. Because, when you’ve come to that place in life where you’re forced by disappointment to dream cautiously and shoulder more than your share of pain, it’s all about those small victories that will one day lead to the ultimate victory and turning point in your life. Anyone who’s gone through a similar experience can no doubt relate. However, in spite of the heartache and lingering doubts, my husband and I both are looking forward to the New Year with the anticipation of new life. So, let it begin!

Babe In My Heart, Blogs, Uncategorized

Hedgehog Healing

September 19, 2017

Written by Nicola Salmon, guest blogger
As I was sat across from my doctor the most unexpected words came out of her mouth, “You’ll never be able to have children.” At 16, I just thought that my irregular periods were down to growing up but after three years and several different investigations, I was given the diagnosis of PCOS (a metabolic and hormonal disorder), given the contraceptive pill and sent on my way.

It’s funny where life takes you, after suffering from PTSD later in life, I had acupuncture and it turned my life. I decided to study acupuncture as it intrigued me so much and as I was studying I learnt about lots of different ways I could look after my body. Not just with medicine, but with food, movement and other natural remedies. Throughout that journey I made tiny shifts and tweaks to my lifestyle, which over time improved my health and menstrual cycles.

My 3 lifestyle tweaks

I switched away from drinking tap water after I found out that it contains small amounts of oestrogen. With my hormones as imbalanced as they were, I decided to help it out by trying to reduce external sources.

This also led me to choosing organic grass fed meat and dairy when I could afford it as cheap cattle and other animals are pumped full of antibiotics and growth hormones which again affect hormones in our bodies.

The third biggest shift I made was reintroducing fat in my diet. I was absolutely shocked to discover that fats are the building blocks of hormones. Being on a low fat diet since I was about 13, it was no wonder that my body struggled to create the right amounts of each hormone. Healthy fats such as dairy, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado and nuts are such a great was to eat healthy and tasty food.

My story has a happy ending.

We had no troubles conceiving our 2 boys despite my constant worry and fear that having children would be so difficult for us.

In the end it was those tiny tweaks and shifts that helped my body heal. It wasn’t a complete diet overhaul. I didn’t suddenly start running marathons.

The problem is that these tweaks won’t work for everyone. We all have unique bodies, environments, histories and mindsets which means that you need to find your own tweaks to your optimal health. Sounds really hard right?

I promise it is really simple. All you have to do is listen.

Your body has all the information. Every sign and symptom is a sign post to tell you where to look. You can start right away by grabbing a pen and paper. Write down:

  • your sleep (when, how much, what was the quality)
  •  your food and drink (no calories counting! What you ate, when you ate and how you feel)
  • your energy throughout the day
  • your mood throughout the day
  • your movement throughout the day
  • where you are in your cycle right now
  • anything else your body is telling you (aches, pains, dizziness, dry skin etc)

Then the fun begins. Over time you’ll start to notice patterns. You’ll notice how your sleep affects your mood, or if you have a coffee after 3 you’re wired til midnight. Maybe you’ll notice that you get bloated 3 hours after eating bread or that when you don’t drink enough water your eyes get sore.

Really get curious about how your body works and you’ll be amazed by what you find. Then you can experiment. Start trying to do things a little different and notice how your body responds.

If you want a quick guide to get started with fertility journaling, you can download my free 7 day nurture fertility journal here.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs, Uncategorized

Understanding Post Partum Depression

August 21, 2017

•By Dr. Kendra Segura, Guest Blogger

The birth of a baby is a time of joy and precious memories. For some women, however, it can be anything but joyous; instead it is filled with self-doubt, and overwhelming guilt.

Unfortunately, it is still shameful, these days, for a mother to admit feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or irritated, following the birth of their child; and they feel too ashamed to ask for help. After all, a “good mother” is expected to be completely selfless, and have no other feelings except joy and love for their child. But with postpartum depression affecting 10% of mothers, it can no longer stay a shameful secret. We have to get the word out, to ensure those good mothers get the help they need.

The importance of awareness
It is encouraging to see more and more celebrities coming out and saying, “Hey! I am having a hard time adjusting, and I need help”; among them are Brook Shields, Kendra Wilkinson, and more recently Chrissy Teigan who stated — “It does not discriminate. I couldn’t control it. And that’s part of the reason it took me so long to speak up.” This is great, because it helps to bring about awareness to the disease. More awareness not only helps patients, but also the medical professional. Physician offices are now becoming more equipped to detect and treat post-partum depression. Most physicians administer a survey at the 6 weeks post-partum visit to screen for depression. On the same note, health care providers are taking more initiative on identifying patients that are feeling overwhelmed, and many schedule closer follow-up, as early as 2 weeks post-partum, instead of only at 6 weeks, depending on their patient’s risk factors. All of this is a great start, but more awareness is needed so that, hopefully, one day, no mother will feel ashamed about asking for help.

What’s normal?
So, is it normal to feel depressed or to have “the blues” after giving birth? Yes, it is. Normal physiologic changes in the mother, after the birth of a child, can simulate symptoms of depression, such as changes in sleep pattern, energy level, or appetite. A benign condition that many are familiar with is postpartum blues, which occurs 2-3 days after childbirth, and resolves within 2 weeks’ time without intervention. And that is one big difference between postpartum depression, and postpartum blues – postpartum blues resolves on its own; so if symptoms last for more than 2 weeks, doctors often begin suspecting postpartum depression.

Symptoms of postpartum depression
Besides feeling depressed, anxious, or upset, mothers suffering from post-partum depression may feel angry with the new baby, their partners, or their other children. They also may: cry for no clear reason; have trouble sleeping, eating, and making choices; question whether they can handle caring for a baby. The manifestations of the disease that make the news, of course, are the extreme cases where the patient harms themselves or the infant due to suicidality or associated psychosis, but these cases are far and few between. Many patients with postpartum depression have debilitating symptoms, but suicide or infanticide is very rare.

How is postpartum depression diagnosed?
Postpartum depression is a clinical diagnosis – meaning there is no fancy, million dollar test for the diagnosis; your doctor may order some lab tests to rule out other possible medical problems, but, really, the diagnosis of postpartum depression is based on the doctor’s careful assessment. Besides asking about some of the above-mentioned manifestations of the disease, physicians will often focus on the timing of symptoms. Postpartum depression can occur up to 1 year after having a baby, but it most commonly starts about 1-3 weeks after childbirth. As mentioned before, symptoms that resolve on their own, within a couple of weeks, are usually of no concern. Besides the timing of symptoms, the severity of symptoms can also help doctors make the diagnosis. Women with postpartum depression can have INTENSE feelings of sadness, anxiety, or despair that prevent them from being able to do their daily tasks. Keeping a log or diary of your symptoms can help your doctor diagnose or rule-out postpartum depression.

What causes postpartum depression?
It is still, unfortunately, not entirely clear what exactly causes postpartum depression (another reason for more awareness!!). What we think right now is that postpartum depression is caused by a combination of factors – “the perfect storm” of a sudden drop in the level of hormones (estrogen and progesterone), combined with common stressors surrounding pregnancy and delivery. One common physiologic stressor that seems to increases the risk of postpartum depression is a lack of sleep. Social stressors also increase the chance for postpartum depression, and these include: a lack of a support system, stressful life event (recent death of loved one, a family illness, etc.), a major lifestyle change (moving to new city, change of job). A history of depression itself is also a risk factor for developing postpartum depression. There is also some evidence that postpartum depression can have a genetic component to it (meaning, some people may inherit a higher risk of developing the disease). As an example, there have been studies that show siblings of postpartum depression patients tend to have a higher chance of getting the disease as well.

What is the treatment?
The very first step of treatment is getting help right when you need it. You do not need to wait for your 6 weeks’ post-partum visit to get help. Even if you don’t think you have a problem, if your significant other or family members are concerned about your mental health, get help ASAP.

Treatment may involve “Talk therapy” (psychotherapy), one-on-one or in a group setting. Others patients may need medication – antidepressants that can help restore the balance of chemicals in the brain to balance mood, or a combination of both.

As with any disease, prevention is the best ‘treatment’. If you have a history of depression or postpartum depression, please, please inform your health care provider. You may be referred to have talk therapy during your prenatal care and if you are on antidepressant, you may be advised to continue your medication.

Additions Resources:

Postpartum Support International

National Women’s Health Information Center

BIO
Dr. Kendra Segura is an obstetric/gynecologist practicing in Southern California. She completed her residency in Rochester, New York. She also has a Masters of Public Health earned at Loma Linda University in Southern California. She has worked for the Los Angeles county health department, where she performed disease surveillance and health education.

Dr. Kendra feels that her God-given purpose extends beyond patients that she encounters in the office, or in the hospital. She desires to reach the women she will not see in the above settings, through various forms of media. Her mission to is inform the uninformed, and misinformed.

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