Monthly Archives

June 2017

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

The More Ya Know

June 28, 2017

•By Guest Blogger Suzie Welsh, founder of BINTO

I was working as an IVF and Fertility nurse for Penn Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, working with women who had so many questions about which products to use and what to avoid.

It occurred to me that there was literally no one company looking at women’s health as a life cycle, and then supporting it through meaningful products and knowledge. It was that realization, and my daily work with my patients, that led me to take a leap of faith and start BINTO…Bun In The Oven!

BINTO is a women’s lifestyle brand designed to change the way we look at, and take care of, the lifecycle of women’s health. The company mission is to help us (women) get the safe and effective products we need every month to support our unique health journey. BINTO removes the stress and guesswork out of finding products by creating a personalized suite just for you. The subscriptions range from period and hormonal support, to fertility, pregnancy and now menopause.

As a nurse, I learned how to talk to women and couples about fertility—something our society doesn’t always do very well. I learned how to emotionally support someone whose IVF doctor may be busy with a thousand other patients.

The process and journey can feel very isolating for these women and their partners, and they often don’t know where to find reliable resources. On the one hand, there’s medical literature, which can be difficult to parse. And on the other, a wide range of personal blogs, which can be light on authoritative information. My mission is to occupy that middle space and offer hassle-free access to healthy products, as well as facts grounded in medical science. And that’s what BINTO delivers.

Reproductive health is essential to our overall wellbeing. When is comes to the places we choose to live, the products we use, and the food we eat, it all ties into the health of our reproductive organs.

Until recent years, there was little in the way of research into environmental factors and reproductive health, more importantly, fertility. We now know, thanks to advances in research and much conversation, that the way we live and eat impacts our fertility. This is the case for both women and men.

BINTO supports women’s health journeys with safe and effective products geared toward supporting fertility and reproductive health, including organic cotton tampons, prenatal and regular multivitamins with built-in DHA, probiotics, and feminine wipes. The extensive free online knowledge center includes a streamlined library of reliable online information on topics ranging from ovulation tracking to endometriosis.

BINTO champions the awareness and importance of reproductive health by partnering with people on the journey to optimal reproductive health, conception, and beyond.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

“Just Relax” They Say

June 26, 2017

•By Kathryne Shrewsbury, Guest Blogger

Let’s keep it real, dealing with infertility issues sucks. It is stressful, time consuming and expensive. You are not in control of the outcome even if you do everything right. I know first hand what infertility looks like having gone through two rounds of IVF, one fresh embryo transfer, one frozen embryo transfer, hundreds of injections, 40,000 dollars spent and countless hours at doctors appointments.

My husband and I decided early on in this journey that we would be open and honest about our fertility issues. We didn’t shy away from the fact that we needed help to start our family with the hopes our story may help someone else who is also struggling. I have pretty thick skin and don’t let what others say get me because I believe most people are undertanding, caring and compassionate. But sometimes others also don’t quite understand what you are going through when it comes to infertility. People may make comments that come from a good place, but trying desperately to have a child it can come off as rude, naive or insensitive. In my opinion, here are the top 3 statements never to say to someone who is TTC/going through fertility treatments.

“You guys just need to relax. It will happen when the time is right”
Do not say this to anyone trying to have a child. This statement is the number one thing that makes my blood boil. There was one person in my life who said this to me over and over during the time we were trying to conceive and even after we found out we would have to go through IVF. I just wanted to reach over, shake her and scream that she had no idea what she was talking about. I think people who say this don’t know a lot about infertility. In my case my husband’s low sperm count, not stress, was causing our infertility issues.

“My sister/cousin/friend did XYZ and they got pregnant.”
I don’t care if your sister started meditating or doing yoga and got pregnant or if your friend started eating some special foods or supplements and got pregnant. Those women and their partners did not have fertility issues that required medical intervention. I understand that the person suggesting these activities/products is just trying to help, but it will not help someone who is actually suffering from infertility.

“Do you really need to be doing that?”
This was something that didn’t really bother me at the time, but looking back I find it very annoying that someone would question the medical decisions my husband, my Doctor and I made together. No one would ever choose to have fertility problems and it’s not like I woke up one day and said, “I’m going to do a round of IVF.”  There were tons of doctors appointments, lab tests, blood draws and stressful decisions to get to that point. So yes. I really need to be doing…IUI/IVF/ICSI/PGS testing etc!

Thankfully my infertility struggles have a happy ending. I have a very active 18 month old son, Renner, and another on the way both conceived through IVF. My family would not have been possible without the help of our amazing team of doctors and nurses as well as the support of our family and friends.

If you know someone struggling with infertility be honest and tell them you don’t know what they are going through physically or emotionally but that you are there if they need you. Ask questions and educate yourself. Personally I am always more than happy to answer questions people have about our journey to start our family. It makes me feel so honored when family, friends and even complete strangers open up to me about their fertility issues. Sadly it is so much more common than most people realize and if we’re keeping it real, the best way to get through infertility is if we do it together.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Wishing and Hoping and Thinking and Praying

June 22, 2017

•Written by Sarah Lanning, Guest Blogger

I’m a huge advocate for Adoption. It has been a huge part of my life as I was adopted along with my four other siblings.  I met my husband and on our first date he told me that his father was also adopted. We immediately bonded over that and I knew this was the man I was going to marry. After four years of trying to get pregnant and having three miscarriages, I lost all hope in ever having a baby but that’s where our adoption journey begins.

On a late July afternoon, right after Fourth of July, I was more depressed than I’d ever like to admit. I was almost 27 years old with everything I could ever want in my life but I always knew one thing was missing, A BABY!
As long as I could remember I’ve wanted to be a mom, and it was all I thought about!
“Am I ever going to be pregnant?”
“Will I ever be able to give my husband a baby?”
“When will it be my turn to have a baby?”
All these thoughts ran through my head as I lived my life and everyone else around me was getting pregnant and having babies. And all I could do was fake being happy for them because it was the one thing that I wanted most in my life. I hated going to baby showers and getting those dreaded text messages and phone calls “I’m pregnant.”  You always have to pretend to be happy for them because I mean what else can you say besides “Congratulations!”

Thats when I received a phone call that made my heart skip a beat. A friend that I used to work with called to tell me that one of her friends (a girl I didn’t even know nor had ever met) had a co-worker that was pregnant and wanted to place her baby up for adoption. I knew I trusted “D” with all my heart but trusting a girl I didn’t even know to make me a mother was terrifying to say the least! But I listened to everything she had to say about “L” and waited two hours for my husband to come home from work (it felt like an eternity) to tell him all about this. He was very hesitant and it took a couple days of persuading him.

I then called my parents, they had been down this road before and I needed their advice and support- 5 adoptions and 13 fosterings. I knew I could count on them to help us and guide us through this long journey of adoption.
At this point she was 26 weeks pregnant, so we only had 14 weeks to find an agency, an attorney, and to get a home study done. In addition to buy everything essential for a baby, to get our house baby proofed and a pool safety net. We also only had a little amount of time to come up with a very significant amount of money! To say it was a VERY stressful 14 weeks is an understatement!

Tweleve weeks later our home study still wasn’t complete and I got the call “they are delivering the baby tonight…2 weeks early, due to complications.” I’ve never been so nervous and scared in my life. Here we are waiting to have our home study done and our baby is being born across the country. Luckily, she was born  and our home study was also done on the SAME DAY!  That night we jumped on a plane and flew to the East Coast to go meet our baby!

We got off the plane and drove straight to the hospital in hopes of meeting her. We were rudely greeted by nurses that weren’t open to adoption and very foreign to the idea of the birth mother not taking her own baby home.
One hour of sleep in the waiting room, three hours of sleeping in our car, 30 min drive to our hotel, lunch and a 30 min nap and we were on our way back to the hospital for another try at finally meeting our daughter! We got to the hospital and didn’t know what to expect because we didn’t have any contact with the birth mom her whole pregnancy but to our surprise we were welcomed into her room with a big hug and a smile. She than handed us our daughter, a 5lb 6oz teeny tiny princess!

To our surprise they had named her, we came thinking that we would give her the name that we had come up with the last 3 months we were planning for her (we didn’t know the gender so we had a boy name too). When our social worker told us that they had named her Grace Marie my husband and I burst into tears because we had been in a disagreement over names for three months. My husband had always loved the name Madyson Grace since he was 15 and had to name a baby for a school project. I wanted Madyson Anne because Anne is a very special to me, as it was my grandmothers middle name and she has since passed away. When we heard that they named her that we knew that we wanted to incorporate Grace into her name! So after a day or so of talking about it we decided to happily name our daughter Madyson Grace Anne.
At four days old we got to take our daughter home. When most people would be so ecstatic to finally take their baby home from the hospital, my husband and I were on edge. We still weren’t sure if we were going to be able to parent this tiny, sweet babe or not. By law the birth mother can’t sign papers if she is sent home with medication, so we had to wait four LONG days until she finished her medication and could sign her parental rights away. On day eight at 11am I got the second most amazing phone call of my life “MADYSON IS YOURS FOREVER!” I immediately burst into tears and kissed her all over. We hugged and cried into each other arms and couldn’t believe our dreams were coming true. WE WERE FINALLY PARENTS!

After two weeks on the East Coast we were FINALLY cleared to go home. We couldn’t wait to go home and just enjoy being a family. We also couldn’t wait till Thanksgiving to surprise our family with our daughter! We decided to keep our adoption process a secret from our friends and family because we were scared but most of all we were terrified of getting attached and hurting both sides of our family. All we could do was have faith that this would work out and we could surprise our families with this baby! As Thanksgiving Day came we were very excited for everyone to meet our newest little member of the family!

Adoption has FOREVER changed my life in a way that I could never truly express. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for adoption and my husband and I wouldn’t be parents if it wasn’t for adoption. Adoption is very exhausting, stressful and emotional but also very rewarding! I would do it all again to have my daughter because I am FINALLY A MOM!

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Timing. Is. Everything.

June 20, 2017

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always pictured myself having a big family. Not just 3 or 4 children, I seriously want 10 kids! Even though my two “almost twins” can be a lot to handle and completely test my sanity at times (coffee helps!), I actually still want to have more babies! Ok, ok…so 10 kids is probably a bit outrageous and mainly because logistics…like who’s gonna do all that laundry and would I ever even wash my hair? Gabe and I know that while our family is perfect as it is, it doesn’t feel quite complete yet. So it’s time to start thinking about the next babe and how exactly are we gonna “get it.” The options are naturally (we’ve already agreed no more IVF), another adoption (including foster/adoption) or maybe even both!

First we’re going to try and see if we can’t prove those Doctor’s wrong (again) and get pregnant on our own! That’s why I am so excited about my Ava bracelet. It takes all the guess work out of fertility tracking and will get us on the right course to conception! All I have to do is wear this bracelet at night while I sleep and then sync it to my phone in the morning. No charting temperatures or using those ovulation predictor kits…which by the way I did religiously for about 4 years when we were trying to conceive! Ava makes fertility tracking easy and effortless by charting 9 different body signals and detecting my 5 most fertile days of the month.  I’ve learned that timing is everything and I seriously love my Ava bracelet. Gabe and I are excited and hopeful that we will be able to conceive naturally if that’s God’s plan for us!

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m nervous about this next step. For starters, I’m not even sure that I will be able to get pregnant again and it brings back all those awful infertility feelings. For 4 years we tried everything to start our family and all the loss and disappointment we endured comes flooding back to me. Even though we are technically considered fertile now the scars of infertility are something I will always carry with me.

I also struggle with feelings of guilt about even wanting more kids. I mean, look at me now…I have two beautiful, healthy children! I’m a mom! I have everything I’ve always wanted. And now I want more??? How greedy am I? My heart breaks for the couples who are still waiting on their babes and it just feels wrong to want more kids until they get theirs. Like somehow I’m taking up more than my fair share of the universe’s baby dust.

Although the anxiety and fears I have about starting this process again weigh on my mind, there’s absolutely nothing that’ll stop me from adding to this family. And if I’ve learned anything from the journey to my babies it’s that if you REALLY want to be parent you absolutely will. Do not give up, keep pushing forward, be open to all options and stay the course. I’m guess I better take my own advice …so herrrrrreeeee we go!

Want to try Ava? Use the discount code ALEXIS for $20 off. Click here!

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

What About Dad?

June 18, 2017

•Written by Elizabeth Johnson, Guest Blogger


My husband is a solid, secure and wonderful guy. And when I say solid, I mean solid – 6’3, 250 and bench presses almost 400 lbs (yes, that is a real stat). He is funny, sensitive, a serious planner and the most intuitive person I know. We met at a wedding – very cliché, him a groomsman, me a bridesmaid – and started dating soon after. We loved (and still love) planning trips, entertaining our friends and family and going to the beach. The only thing we didn’t plan for was infertility…

Pat and I were married in August 2012 in Northern California, and while we were excited to start a family, to me there was no rush. I said “let’s be married first” with the idea that being a parent is forever, being a newlywed is temporary. But, after a little convincing from him, we decided to “pull the goalie” the following January. After a couple little bumps, we found out we were pregnant at beginning of August 2013, a few weeks short of our first anniversary! We were surprised and excited to say the least. Unfortunately, it only lasted 7 weeks. I was at work one day and I started to bleed, so I rushed to the emergency room. Pat met me at the ER and I will never forget the look on his face and tears in his eyes before we even saw the doctor. After that horrible ER experience (another story for another time), we went home and mourned. But, we also tried to find the silver lining – we got pregnant really fast, I could get pregnant in general and my OBGYN was super optimistic. So we, how you say, got back in the saddle and…
Nothing. For 2 years. Nothing.
We started how everyone does, having sex every other day during the fertile time, taking temps, using ovulation sticks, the works. We would get excited and hopeful, and then…the two week cycle of optimism and then defeat would come and go. Pat has since commented to me that his least favorite words in the English language became “I’m spotting.” And each time I was disappointed he was there to comfort me and say “next time” or “let’s do this differently” always with a solution and not getting bogged down. We did the rounds of clomid and each time while my hormones were up and down, Pat was there to be supportive and calm – yet a little part of him was dying inside. It was getting harder for him to hide his frustration and sadness and when the last round of clomid prescribed by our Doctor failed, he broke down. Tears and beers in the backyard, this wasn’t happening for us how we thought it would. We were at an impasse – take a break or take it one step further and get help. I wasn’t getting any younger so we decided to get help and researched clinics. After choosing the clinic and having our first round of tests (beyond blood tests) in January 2015, we were resolved that this was going to happen – the clinic will figure out the problem, tell us how to fix it and we’ll be good!
We met with the doctor and the diagnosis didn’t go as planned – unexplained infertility. What? Oh there’s nothing wrong with you, we ran every (massively invasive) test but can’t find anything, your infertility is unexplained. We can’t fix it, because we can’t find the problem. WTF?! (literally people, WTF).

But our doc was positive, all the signs pointed towards yes – high egg count, sperm is shaped right and motile, we were a layup, easy peasy, IUI would do it. The light and excitement came back into Pat’s eyes – hey, we’ll get there, we just needed a little assistance. IUI time – let’s do this! IUI, billed as a simple, painless (turkey baster) procedure. Not so much. Turns out, my cervix was a trickster and the doctor kept missing. As I went through the pain of the catheter being reinserted multiple times, Pat went through the pain of watching me and being helpless. I squeezed his hand hard, but he squeezed right back. I got through it, we took a deep breath and he bought me a milkshake (which became a fertility treatment tradition).
Nothing happened, BFN. Another visit to the clinic, rude receptionists, more tests, another IUI, demanding billing department, another milkshake and no pregnancy. We had one more chance at IUI, so decided to try it and if it didn’t work, IVF it was. Ok, game plan! Pat was pumped, he loves game plans. We went in for the last IUI and low and behold, BFP!!! Finally! We had just bought and started remodeling our house, we had resolved to taking the next step if we needed to so we just kind of let it go and there it was! A positive pregnancy test! We were excited and cautiously optimistic. Monday I was pregnant and according to the blood tests the levels looked great, Wednesday, number went up, trending in the right direction, then Sunday, while sitting at brunch with my family, I got the call. Numbers had dropped and I was going to miscarry or it was probably a chemical pregnancy. We left before the coffee came.
When you hit a wall with something, you hit a wall. Pat was done. Done with the clinic, done with the rude receptionists, done with the financial advisors who had no bedside manner when it came to explaining what it would cost, just done.
We were at another impasse – try another clinic or quit. Pat’s gut told him we should switch clinics, I wasn’t so sure. We sat down with our doctor, who he was also starting to lose faith in, but I still loved and trusted, to discuss IVF. Pat brashly decided to ask her about the other local clinics that we were looking into, and she gave the very diplomatic answer that all of the clinics were fine, just went about things differently. When he asked more pointedly about a clinic we were looking into more closely, she seemed uncomfortable and just said “oh they are great people.” Awkward. We went home, and talked a few things out and then tabled the discussion for a few days. When you are battling infertility, tabling something for even a few days feels like a lifetime. I knew what I wanted to do – stick with our doctor and start IVF – but Pat needed to come to the decision on his own. A few more days went by, clock was ticking, and he said he was ready to take the next step and start IVF. Hurray! We would stay at the clinic, begrudgingly, but with a doctor who all but guaranteed us we would have a baby.
At my first appointment to start the IVF process, my doctor came out to the waiting room and asked me to come back to her office, instead of the receptionist leading me back. All I thought was “this can’t be good.” Well, I was wrong, first good news we had in awhile – she was switching clinics, to the clinic we were considering and wanted to let me know personally, so that no more time could be wasted. I didn’t even go to the rest of the appointment, I called Pat immediately. It was a no brainer, leave the rude, expensive clinic and follow her. Finally a sign! At our first consultation appointment at the new clinic, it was a complete 180 – warm friendly receptionist, a financial advisor who understood the burden of the cost and nurses who brought us snacks into our meeting (snacks!) – and we knew we were in the right place. Pat’s intuition once again was right.
Once we charted a course for meds, and shots and egg retrieval we felt, in a way, like ourselves again. There was a plan with set steps to the desired outcome. We made it as fun as we could, played the song “Shots, shots, shots” every time he would have to stick me with the needle in my stomach (yes, I made him do it), and then do a little celebration after, we were on our way. The first ultrasound showed that all of the follicles looked great! I went in for the egg retrieval on October 23, 2015. I was nervous, but ready. I guess I was so excited as I was going under, I was talking about what kind of Halloween themed dishes and drinks I was going to serve at our annual party (Halloween is my favorite holiday), cracking up the nurses. Pat was there for me when I woke up – funny story, as folks know the dad has to make his “deposit” during the retrieval so that the eggs can be fertilized in a timely manner. Well when he went to the designated room, it was occupied, and for a LONG TIME. He panicked and found a nurse and let her know my procedure should be done momentarily, what should he do?! She led him to a regular bathroom and told him to lock the door. Yikes. And like I said, he was there for me when I woke up, sample safely with the doctor, guy can perform (winky face emoji?). All of this related to me as I was coming off the anesthesia, I chuckled and thought the hard part was over!
The doctor came in and let us know they didn’t get as many eggs as they thought they would, but they got 8 which was still really promising. We felt good about it, they would let us know in 3 days how many fertilized, and then in 5 days which eggs became blastocysts and ready to implant. When we came in on day 5, it was a good news/bad news situation – good news, my uterine lining looked great, we should transfer right away instead of freezing the embryos, bad news, only 3 made it to 5 day blastocyst stage – 2 that looked perfect, had super high “grades” and 1 that was about a B+. She recommended transferring 2, hedge our bets, place all (well almost) our eggs in one basket (overused fertility pun?) so we did it! Watching the transfer I cried, we were so happy, this is the moment where our baby(ies) were starting their journey. We went home on cloud nine, celebrated at our Halloween party (me sneaking mocktails and non alcoholic wine without people catching on) and started talking about babies.
I went in for my blood test 10 days later, but didn’t feel the same high. For some reason, I knew. When we got the call later that day, instead of breaking down, I had to stay strong for Pat. It is pretty hard to get some of the worst news of your life and not be able to melt into a puddle. But, we pick our partners based on what we need and in that moment he needed me to be the solid one, so I was. And for awhile, that was my role. I stayed positive and Pat broke down. As I got more injections, I stayed optimistic and he went blank and numb. After the wrong hormone dosage by a nurse that delayed us another month, sending him into a little spiral, we came to our final chance – my uterus was ready for our final transfer.
Going in to the transfer this time was a bit different. It was our last gamble, back to square one if this didn’t take. We transferred the final embryo, our little B+ fighter, and took a deep breath. At this point, it was no expectations. We had even booked a trip to Belize and Mexico (hello Zika) because we would need a getaway if and when we got the bad news. Our embryo transfer was February 4th, blood test scheduled for February 15th. The weekend of February 12th and 13th I was traveling to San Francisco for work and Sacramento for a friend’s baby shower. I still drank the mocktails and blamed not being able to drink with friends on “hormones” but this time I meant it, I felt different. I told Pat, and now him being the skeptic, he just told me to wait to get the blood test. When I got home Sunday night, I bought a test. Monday morning, I took it and there it was BFP. POSITIVE.



This felt different. I went in to get the blood test and when my doctor called, she said “Could you hear me screaming in excitement all the way from the office?” Numbers were great, 2 days later they more than doubled, 2 days after that, they were off the charts. And we knew it wasn’t twins, one embryo and all, so this was happening!
When we saw the heartbeat at 8 weeks, we both had a milkshake to celebrate (and maybe an In N Out burger too). Telling our families at 11 weeks, on my 35th birthday, was amazing, and our due date was exactly one year after the retrieval – October 23, 2016.

Theodore Hogan Johnson arrived at 7:10pm on October 30, 2016 (yeah he got pretty comfortable in there) and after a stint in the NICU (another story for another time), we have a bubbling, babbling baby boy who is hilarious and because of his mom’s love of Halloween will be stuck with costume parties for his birthday.

They say a mom can forget the pain of childbirth after a while, so that they can have more kids. But what about dad? I have forgotten the pain – of childbirth, of failed tries, of IVF. True, it was a struggle and I know that, but I would do it again. Pat has not forgotten. The pain has stayed with him, and is something we take into consideration when discuss adding to our family. Could he go through it again? I hope that we won’t have to and things will happen naturally, but we will cross that bridge if/when we come to it. Every day I am thankful for my husband and my teammate in this process and parenting our son together has been a dream, messy but I wouldn’t change it for the world. People always talk about the toll infertility takes on moms, and it does, but let’s not forget about dad.
To all the guys out there – struggling, expecting, a new parents or a seasoned professional – you are important in this process, thank you for what you do and Happy Father’s Day.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

A Hole In One. Finally.

June 14, 2017

•By Tamara Van Happen, Guest Blogger

Ohhhh the ugly world of infertility. From the start we knew IVF was our only shot at ever having a biological child. My husband has Cystic Fibrosis. As if that weren’t bad enough, 98% of men with CF are born without a vas deferens (basically it’s like having a vasectomy to begin with!) We had little hope we would be in that 2% as John doesn’t present as a typical CF patient. And we weren’t. So the first step to making Baby Van Happen was to undergo genetic testing. When the results came back that I didn’t carry the gene for CF, I took it as a sign that we were on the right path.

Continue Reading…

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Adventure Awaits

June 12, 2017
•By Kristi and Ben Graves, Guest Bloggers
The word “adventure” means: an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.  So far that has been the theme of our married life and the best way to describe this most recent journey that we have begun: the path to growing our family through adoption.

We have been married for 10 years, and during that time together we have lived in 3 different countries and traveled to many other places in the world – both on our own and on mission work with our local church. This has allowed us many adventures that we have enjoyed sharing together, making memories as husband and wife that we will never forget.

One of the amazing adventures we have been able to take is to visit Uganda. Kristi had a dream for many years to love on babies in Africa, and shortly after we joined our church, we found out that they partner with the community of Kaihura in Uganda!! God has used these trips to Africa to help change and mold us, and part of our heart is still over there! We have been able to go the last 2 summers and are excited about the opportunity to visit again this June! During our first trip to Uganda, God made it clear to us that He was calling us to adopt a child into our family. During these last 2 years, we have been praying and preparing for this adventure and are excited to have started the adoption process!

For many years we have hoped of getting pregnant and like many of you, we have gone through years of infertility. We have tried the pills, the acupuncture, the ultrasounds, we have shed tears and watched everyone around us become pregnant while we waited and wondered when it would be our turn.

When we started our adventure of life together 10 years ago, we didn’t have any idea of all the things that lay ahead for us. We have seen so many ups and downs, happy times, sad times, and everything in between. God has taught us so much during this journey, and how we can make plans, but it is ultimately His plan that is the best for our life. We are so excited for this next chapter and to see what is waiting for us on this adoption journey.
We are pursuing domestic infant adoption through Bethany Christian Services.  The cost of our adoption will be around $26,000. As a way to help raise funds for our adoption and celebrate this next adventure, we are selling these sweet “adventure awaits” t-shirts!  If you’d like to support us by buying a t-shirt, you can visit here.
We have multiple color choices as well as adult and youth sizes! Please know that every purchase gets us that much closer to bringing our sweet Baby Graves home!
You can also follow our adoption journey on instagram: @babygravesadventure
And if you feel called to contribute financially to our adoption fund, you can do so here.

We are continuing to trust God as we walk through this adventure. We know that adoption is hard and messy and beautiful and we trust that He will provide and use this for His glory! Thanks for following along!

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Some Things Are Worth The Wait

June 8, 2017

By Kristy Koser, Guest Blogger

My husband Nate and I had been trying to conceive for almost 10 years. We tried on and off for over 5 years on our own, tracking my cycles, body temperature, and ovulation. But after no success we decided to make an appointment at the nearest fertility clinic. We started with six rounds of Clomid, which resulted in two pregnancy losses, then moved to four rounds of IUI, which were all unsuccessful, then finally to IVF. We completed 6 fresh rounds and 5 frozen rounds of IVF, resulting in one pregnancy loss, a lot of tears, unsuccessful cycles, and 2 precious frozen embryos. We endured round after round of embryo banking, genetic testing for all our embryos, an endometrium biopsy, laparoscopy, and loads of Viagra (yep, you heard that correctly, it helps with chronically thin uterine lining). By the end of 2015, after our last failed cycle we were exhausted and feeling hopeless. For some unexplained reason, my uterus was unable to sustain life and we couldn’t imagine putting one more embryo back into it after seeing so many not make it through that two week wait. So, we decided to pursue gestational surrogacy, and guess what? It worked.

I could share so many things I learned on our journey to become parents, I often consult with women and couples who are making hard decisions regarding their reproductive health. I’m a full time couples therapist who specializes in fertility counseling for couples, and I know first hand these decisions are multifaceted and ridiculously complex. Most people tend to ask me about the process of surrogacy, what it’s like, how we found our carrier, and what the logistics of such an arrangement. I have had some people email me for what to expect, so I’ll share a bit of what I told them, what I’ve learned along the way living in Virginia, and tips to pursue your own journey if you are lucky enough to experience the beauty of surrogacy.

First, you need to find out what type of surrogacy is right for you. There is traditional surrogacy using her egg or gestational surrogacy using all your gametes. Ours is gestational surrogacy, it’s my egg and my husband’s sperm, an embryo from one of our IVF rounds.

Next you need to consider the cost. Typically online you will see the cost is fairly high, that’s usually because people haven’t started IVF (which is so costly itself)! So, if you already have embryos in storage you are ahead of the game! If you have not started IVF or do not have any embryos, look for a clinic that has a success or refund package deal–so that means after “x” amount of rounds if you are not successful then you get your money back. We did this and our package included 6 fresh rounds and unlimited frozen transfers. This helped big time. Also consider the fact you will pay a surrogate as well. She is the ultimate babysitter, and you are paying for high quality childcare for those precious 9 months! Prices on this range and should be determined between you and your surrogate. This also means you pay all of the medical bills–so plan to pay for co-pays at the doctor, birthing costs, bed rest costs (if she works and has to be on bed rest), and possible maternity leave.

Once you have figured out your finances and the type of surrogate you are looking for, it then becomes a task of finding that special person. There are surrogacy agencies that can help to match you with someone or you can find someone on your own. I would suggest getting the word out to fertility clinics, OBGYNs, and close friends. Sometimes clinics have surrogates they have worked with in the past so it’s always good to let your clinic know first that you would like their help in finding someone. We happened to find someone in our community, which has been ideal for us, but sometimes you have to be open to looking out of state.

Once you’ve found your surrogate, it’s time to look at your state’s laws regarding surrogacy. I would suggest finding a good reproductive attorney very early in the process; your clinic should have recommendations. The first thing your attorney will ask is to check your surrogate’s insurance to make sure she is legally able to use her insurance for surrogacy (DO THIS FIRST)! If she cannot use her insurance, you will probably want to find someone else, only because the cost could be so high out of pocket. But likely it will be good to go! Then once everything is in place, you will create a surrogacy contact that is legally binding. This requires her to find an attorney (at your cost) to prepare and represent her in the process. By law you have to have a contract–this can be a bit of a pain because it’s lengthy and detailed, but this is the one time you want it to be! So if you are considering using your friend, just be prepared for a lot of conversation around worst-case scenarios and all the “what ifs” the contract will include. There may be other laws for your state and sometimes policies of your clinic that include medical screenings for her and her partner along with psychological testing and required counseling in order to proceed.

Once the contracts, counseling, screenings, and legal requirements are complete then your surrogate is ready to prep her body for a frozen embryo transfer (if using a gestational carrier). She will use all of the typical medications for a frozen transfer and everything will proceed like normal. Then when the time is right, transfer happens! My husband and I were both at transfer–it was surreal to see what happened to me so many times happening to someone else. It was crazy to think my baby was floating around in someone else’s uterus, and there was an instant trust this person will take care of it. Thankfully she did, and one of our two embryos found a cozy place to implant and baby K is coming in August! Now, according to the doctors we are a “normal” pregnant couple, minus the fact I’m not pregnant and someone else is carrying our child. But somehow it feels like the most normal part of the last four years. It’s the only thing that makes sense and we are certain this was how it was always supposed to be. Check with your state laws, then find a good reproductive lawyer to check on her insurance. Get that process started first, because legal contracts can take a while. Then your clinic and lawyer will help guide you through the rest.

I know this information feels like a lot, and I won’t lie, it is. But, you already know what it’s like to work hard for this baby. Hang in there, while there are lots of strings to hold, I promise it will be worth the wait.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Oh How Sweet It Is

June 6, 2017

•By Nicole Cole, Guest Blogger

I’m Nicole, wife to Tyler and new mama to Campbell and Crawford. My two babes born 10 weeks apart. Campbell joined our family by adoption and Crawford grew in my belly. There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not immensely grateful to be a mama to not one… but TWO incredible tiny humans! I’m so excited to share a little of our story today. It’s my deepest desire that you will walk away encouraged no matter your season of life.
In the summer of 2014 we started talking about getting pregnant. (Side note: I try to never say “start a family” because that’s something that always hurt for me to hear. We were already a family! Having babies wouldn’t make us a family…the day we got married we became a family. I hope that encourages any of you who are waiting!) Over the next couple of months we started actively trying to conceive. Early on we had the talk about what we would do if we couldn’t get pregnant. Honestly, this thought was completely foreign to me. I really didn’t know anyone personally who struggled to conceive so it seemed so far fetched that we would even discuss it. But, I feel as though this was God’s way of giving us complete peace over our journey very early on and I’m so thankful for that. We decided together that we would pursue very minimal fertility treatments and we would definitely pursue adoption.

Fast forward a little over a year and we had a few rounds of testing. Because of a previous surgery of mine my abdominal area is absolutely covered in scar tissue. We were told that it wasn’t impossible for us to conceive naturally, but it would be a lot harder because of my scar tissue. The next several months after that we decided to go on Clomid for a few cycles. During this time I felt God call us to adoption. I felt the call so strongly and knew that it was something that would be in our near future. My husband wasn’t quite to this point yet so we continued on Clomid and we kept praying about adoption separately.
My body and mind did not respond well to Clomid and one month we decided that if we didn’t get pregnant we would quit all treatments. That next month, my period came. It was probably one of the hardest and best months for me. I took some time away from social media for 6 weeks and dug deep into prayer. It was during this time that I felt the Lord confirming adoption. Within those weeks God was working in my husband’s heart as well and on February 16, 2016 we sent the first email to our adoption consultant!
Over the next few months we dove head first into the adoption process. We quickly started fundraising, did our home study, and worked to get all our ducks in a row so that our profile could be active as soon as possible! Pregnancy was no longer something we were pursuing and the Lord gave us both such closure as we moved into adoption. On May 18, 2016 we got quite the surprise. One line quickly turned to two on a pregnancy test. We were pregnant! We were both surprised but excited and our first conversation was about our adoption. We both we’re 100% certain that we were to continue pursuing adoption. We also knew that it was very likely that we would match by the end of 2016 and with a due date in January, it was incredibly likely our babies would be only a few months apart.

Fast forward to September when we matched with a little boy! He was born on September 18th and we hopped on a plane with all our baby gear anxious to meet our son. I’ll never forget sitting in a hotel lobby in south Florida as our adoption agency worker sat across from us and told us how our son’s first mom had changed her mind and decided not to place. We were going to leave that hotel without a baby. We were both absolutely crushed. I’ve never in my life hurt so deeply. We were confused and grieving and unsure of what the next few months would hold for us.

Within the next few weeks we got a call about another baby. We were hesitant to say yes, but ultimately both felt like we needed to put our yes on the table despite being afraid of another failed match. That was the sweetest “yes” we’ve ever said. On October 23rd, 2016 I became a mama to a tiny 4 pound 11 ounce Hispanic boy who has completely captured our hearts in every single way. And then 10 weeks later, his sister came. Our sweet Crawford Elaine! And just like that, we are parents to two tiny humans. I can’t imagine our lives without either of our babies. Our story isn’t one that I anticipated in any way, but oh how sweet it is!

There are two phrases I’ve heard a thousand times as people have heard our story, “See, you relaxed and it happened!” and “Whenever someone adopts they end up getting pregnant!” Both of these phrases couldn’t be further from the truth and it came incredibly hurtful to hear. The month we conceived was probably the most stressful month we had personally, professionally, and in our adoption. But even if we had the best month of our lives…it still doesn’t change the fact that “relaxing” doesn’t make a baby. It hurts me to know that this comment puts blame on the parents and usually, the mama who so desperately wants to get pregnant. Without realizing it, someone making this comment has just said, “If you would do something differently, you could get pregnant…it’s your fault this isn’t happening.” If you’ve said these words before, I want to compassionately urge you never to say them again. So many times friends and family members mean well but their words still sting. If you know someone struggling to conceive or someone who has conceived after a hard road of infertility, please speak words of encouragement and love over them! It’s truly the best thing that you can do.

If you’re someone who is struggling to conceive, I urge you to respond in grace as you educate! Something that has been so important to me in our journey is to use every single situation to educate others. Instead of always being offended, I can use my words to educate those who might say hurtful words unintentionally. Use your situation to teach others about the language they use and what is helpful and harmful to you as you struggle!

Adoption is also not the cure to infertility. There are many, many families who will adopt and never conceive. Saying “this happens to everyone” is not only false but incredibly hurtful. Adoption should never be viewed as a “fix” for infertility. Adoption has been an incredible blessing in our lives and we cannot imagine life without our sweet son! He is our son. Period. He is not our “adopted son,” even though, yes, he is adopted. He is our son just like our daughter is our daughter. His story just looks differently than hers and we will always, always celebrate their uniqueness in our family! Adoption is hard but it’s been such a treasure in our lives and in our family. Friend who is struggling, I hope that you read this story and see God’s plan unfolding. If we would have conceived naturally right away we wouldn’t have our sweet Campbell. Every single day we struggled was worth it the day he made me a mama. If we would have conceived right away, we wouldn’t have the exact baby that is our biological daughter. She was worth the struggle. Mama who is waiting, God is writing a story for your family that you cannot comprehend. It’s my prayer that you would know that you’re loved by a God who doesn’t make mistakes. By a God who is never late. By a God who understands your pain deeply and who wants to use your waiting for good. Our story is not our story apart from the redemptive work of Jesus and the cross. Because of Jesus we have hope beyond babies and our family. I have hope of a perfect eternity.
If you want to know more about Nicole’s relationship with Jesus or her adoption process or just to chat please email her at

Babe In My Heart, Blogs, What We Love

Protecting The Family Jewels

June 1, 2017
  • By Henry Gardiner, Guest Blogger


Infertility is a struggle no-one should have to go through but sadly it is one that is on the rise. Across the world fertility rates are falling as more and more people fail to conceive.

The physical and emotional strain is felt most often by the woman. But in reality the causes of infertility can be very unclear. It is thought that the reasons behind failing to conceive are actually split evenly between the male and female partners with another 40% being just completely unknown.

There is a big difference between the reproductive system in a man versus a woman. Women are born with all their eggs – about two million – and won’t make any more during their life. Whereas men are constantly producing sperm, millions a day that take three to four months to mature. Both systems have their vulnerabilities.

You might think it is better to be consistently producing sperm than having to rely on a single deposit of eggs from birth. But this leaves sperm and male fertility at the mercy of changes that can cause a real problem.

Some dangers to sperm include lifestyle factors. Men need to take as much care of their bodies as women when trying for a baby. Abstaining from caffeine, alcohol, smoking and other drugs are important, as is keeping physically fit and healthy and avoiding stress. This helps a man’s fertility be in the best condition by maintaining good testosterone levels and healthy sperm.

That might seem like common sense but there are other factors you might not realise that pose a threat to male fertility with its greater sensitivity to the environment. One of these threats occupies a central role in our busy modern day lives and is often kept on us or at least within arm’s reach – our cell phones.

This is especially a problem for men, who often keep their cell in their front pocket or clipped on a belt – right next to where sperm are trying to develop. More and more research is coming out showing how cell phone radiation disrupts the production of sperm , causing damage to its DNA and affecting important factors like sperm motility and viability. Experts have described the effect as being like “cooking” sperm.

So in addition to healthy living and all the other trials of a fertility journey there are new threats to take account of. This one however needs just a bit of education and nifty gadgetry. Education about the risks of cell phones is important and something most people are not aware of. From this awareness came WaveWall, an innovative cell phone case designed to protect a man’s fertility that blocks 85% of cell phone radiation from reaching the body.

There are so many factors with infertility, and even with the wonders of modern medicine many of them are unknown. Male fertility is a delicate balancing act that is unfortunately increasingly under threat so we need to pay more attention and take action that could make all the difference.

Win a WaveWall phone case of your choice by commenting below!



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