Monthly Archives

July 2018

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

August 22: National Rainbow Baby Day

July 31, 2018

What is a rainbow baby? A rainbow baby is a baby that is born after a miscarriage, stillbirth, or passing away of an infant. These babies are the rainbow after the storm.

They are a sign of hope, promise, healing, and remembrance.

Here at What the Fertility, we want to celebrate these precious babes and honor the journey to their arrival. On August 22, we hope you will join us in celebrating the first ever National Rainbow Baby Day!

How can you participate?

We want to see your rainbows! Share the story of your rainbow baby on social media using the hashtag #NationalRainbowBabyDay and honor the rainbow in your life! You can also download the pictures below and use them to spread the word leading up to August 22nd.

Are you still waiting for your rainbow? We hope you will use this day as a reminder of hope and that other have walked in your shoes. This community is waiting and yearning to support you, so please reach out for words of encouragement or advice as your travel your journey.

Buy goodies at our fav shops to help a family bring home their rainbow! We’ve teamed up with some amazing small businesses who are generously donating a portion of their proceeds to Baby Question Foundation, who provides grants to people experiencing infertility. What an awesome way to celebrate and help a fellow infertility warrior! Check out:

Or you can always go directly to Baby Quest Foundation, and donate!

In the days leading up to August 22, we will be sharing stories from those who have weathered the storm and we want to see social media light up with rainbow babies! We want this day to be heard around the world so we can bring awareness to infertility, miscarriages, infant loss, and also the light that we can find after the storm.

Remember: use the hashtag #NationalRainbowBabyDay when sharing pictures and stories of your littles. Or share the images below to bring awareness to the day so others can join in! Be sure to tag us on Instagram at @WhatTheFertility and on Facebook! We can’t wait to celebrate with you!

If you have questions, or would like to collaborate on something special for August 22, please contact us!


Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Our Rainbow

July 27, 2018

What The Fertility wants to celebrate all the rainbow babies that have brought us so much joy after the storm. This story is part of a series honoring the journey to those sweet babes! Join us on August 22nd as we celebrate National Rainbow Baby Day! Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook for more Rainbow Baby celebrations and use #NationalRainbowBabyDay to share your own story!

Written by Lena Ridley, guest blogger

5 years ago, I was just about to start the initial stages of infertility treatment. We had been trying for close to two years at this point & I was going to be meeting with my doctor over the coming months to discuss the next steps for us.  I remembered being so confused and disappointed that we had tried so long and had not gotten pregnant at all.  At the same time I was excited to start moving forward and really wanted to be aggressive with treatment.

In the fall of 2013, we finally were able to meet with our RE and come up with a plan.  We did a laparoscopy and an IUI right away using Clomid.  It was unsuccessful and we were bummed, but the nurse suggested moving forward with injectable FSH instead of Clomid.  We were all for it and in mid-December of 2013 we did our second IUI.  14 days later we would find out that I was pregnant!  It was New Year’s Eve and I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off a new year than to finally be pregnant!  I took a home pregnancy test and saw the faintest line.  My beta came back pretty low at 20, but I was definitely pregnant.  They wanted me to return for 2 more repeat betas.  My second beta came back at 50, the number more than doubled and I thought maybe we just had a late implanter.  Our excitement continued to grow over that weekend until Sunday night when I started bleeding very heavily.  I knew that something was wrong and that I was more than likely losing the pregnancy.

The next morning I had my 3rd beta which confirmed that I had experienced a chemical pregnancy as my number had dropped.  I was devastated and couldn’t believe what was happening.  Over the course of a few months we attempted another IUI only to find out that I was overstimulated both times with too much FSH and too many follicles so it was unsafe to proceed.  We decided that we were ready to move forward with IVF which we started in July of 2014.  Between July 2014 and December of 2015 I had 3 retrievals (at 3 separate clinics with 3 separate doctors) 3 fresh transfers, and 3 frozen transfers.  We used a total of 9 embryos over the course of those transfers, none of which resulted in a pregnancy.  We were again totally devastated and weren’t sure where to go from here.  We knew that I could get pregnant, even though it was for such a brief moment, I was pregnant at one time.

After our final failed transfer in December 2015 we decided to move forward with egg donation.  A girl I had never met in person and barely knew online had messaged me on Facebook and offered herself as a surrogate to us.  I couldn’t believe a complete stranger would feel called to make this kind of sacrifice for us!  I was so thankful for her offer but explained to her that our next step was going to be egg donation so that I could at least attempt to carry the pregnancy.  Without hesitation she offered up her eggs to us and after that our whirlwind few months began.  In March 2016 we flew from Illinois where we live to Georgia where our donor lives so that we could formally meet her and her family and consult with our new RE.  We instantly fell in love with her family and knew that it was the right decision.  Over the months we had grown pretty close via texting and it was an instant connection when we met in person.  By June of 2016 our donor was having her retrieval and on June 16th we transferred 1 perfect 4AA embryo.

Our donor gave us results like we had never had, 10 eggs retrieved, 8 fertilize, and 6 make it to blastocyst.  We were able to freeze the other 5 and the 1 we transferred decided to stick around for the long haul.  Our daughter, our rainbow baby, Georgia June Ridley was born on 2/22/17!  Before she was born I knew that I had a chemical pregnancy, a miscarriage, a pregnancy loss, however you want to refer to it, but I never felt like it was validated because I lost it so early on.  I almost always referred to our loss as a “chemical pregnancy” because I felt like we lost it so early that I couldn’t consider it an actual miscarriage or a pregnancy loss.  Maybe if I would’ve lost the pregnancy at a later gestational age I wouldn’t have felt the need to downplay our loss as much as I did.  But Georgia came into our lives I finally began to realize how important that brief pregnancy was and began to wonder what life would be like now if that baby would’ve held on.  I’ve always heard people say “it doesn’t matter how early you lost a pregnancy, a life is a life”, it wasn’t until I had a baby in my arms that I realized how true those words really are.


I do know that I could not imagine my life without Georgia and I know that things panned out the way the universe intended.  If I would’ve carried that first pregnancy to full-term then Georgia may not be in our lives today, she may not ever exist so I know that even though our journey was longer than we ever expected it or wanted it to be, even though it was so hard, and there was so much heartbreak, I know that it was the journey we were meant to have because it brought us our sweet girl.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Hitting the Unpause Button

July 10, 2018

Written by Stefanie Cargill, guest blogger

I’ve always wanted to be a mother. Not in a way that most women want to be a mother.  I mean deep down, to my very core, it’s what I’ve always wanted to be. To the point that on one of my husband and I’s first dates, I asked him if he wanted kids. I could feel myself falling for him, and if he didn’t want kids as much as I did, there was no point in continuing the relationship. That’s how badly I’ve always wanted children.

Fast forward a few years, and my husband and I decided to take the leap to start a family. We both had great careers, we’d been married a few years, and we’d bought a house. Although it took me convincing my husband we were ready (because let’s be honest, adding another mouth to feed can be terrifying), and everything was in place.

Much to our surprise, we didn’t get pregnant right away.  We’d never known anyone to struggle, so this was all new territory to us. Months went by, my period continued to come, and each negative pregnancy test was like a slap in the face.

After about a year, I decided to pay an extra visit to my gynecologist, Dr. G. I started on a regimen of Femara, Estrogen, and Progesterone, to see if we could kick-start something. Although, my doctor told me if that didn’t work, he had a great colleague who was a reproductive endocrinologist that he would refer me to, if the time came. Several months went by, still nothing. Now the frustration was starting to take its toll. It seemed like everyone around us was getting pregnant without any problems!

I read everything I could on basal body temp, cervical mucus and how it played a role in fertility, soaking in every tidbit I could find about increasing our chances of getting pregnant. At one point, Dr. G recommended an HSG (hysterosalpingogram), which I agreed to. In this procedure (which is usually done in an outpatient radiology department), your physician will insert a soft-tipped catheter through your cervix and into your uterus, filling it with contrast dye.  This procedure is to check for any blockages the patient may have in their fallopian tubes, as well as any uterine abnormalities (polyps, odd shape, etc.). We tried twice to have one done, but at the last minute (both times) my appointment was canceled due to Dr. G having to deliver babies.

About a year into our fertility journey, Dr. G recommended that my husband see a urologist to test for male factor infertility. So my husband did, and then we waited for the call from the urologist. I still remember that call. We had gone to South Padre Island, TX with some friends of ours when Dr. K (my husband’s urologist) called. Based on his exam of my husband and the results from the sperm analysis, my husband had a varicocele (a varicose vein in his scrotum) that was effecting our ability to get pregnant.  Now, most people would be discouraged finding a problem. But I just thought, “Finally!  Something tangible!”  Because you know what comes after a problem? A friggin’ solution! Dr. K’s solution? Surgical intervention.

Wait, what? Whoa, whoa, whoa. We’re not quite there yet, doc.

I took the results to Dr. G, who recommended that we follow up with his colleague that was a reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. R, who was amazing. Our first appointment with him was spent in his office. He had a gigantic oak desk that he sat behind, and big comfy chairs for the people seeking his help. He asked us what our expectations were with this journey, what procedures we were willing to undergo, and what we knew so far.  Basically to make sure we were all on the same page. This journey was going to be tough, but he made sure that we knew that he was on our team.

We brought my husband’s analysis with us. He poured over the results for a few minutes, and very matter-of-factly said that my husband wouldn’t need surgery. He’d gotten couples pregnant before with much worse labs.  Well, if the varicocele wasn’t the problem, what was? Are we really back to square one?  I was so disappointed! I think Dr. R could sense my disappointment, because he was very reassuring.  We would get through this together.

So we started fertility treatments again. We started each cycle with an ultrasound, then went on to Femara, Estrogen, Progesterone, another ultrasound in there somewhere to make sure I was producing mature follicles (which I was). After several months of not getting pregnant, we were labeled with “unexplained fertility”. Everything was working as it should, but nothing was syncing up!


During this time, I felt like everyone around us was getting pregnant. Baby showers galore! I remember getting to the point where I didn’t even want to attend them anymore. Those colorful gift bags with bright tissue paper just mocked me. I’d wander the baby aisles, getting gifts for my friends, and feel a gaping hole in the pit of my stomach. It was devastating to me. My dream of becoming a mother, one that we’d been working so hard for, wasn’t even within arms’ reach. Even though our friends were getting pregnant without even trying.

I remember one day in the Spring of 2013 very vividly. I was driving down the highway and one of my dearest friends called me to tell me a bit of news.  Her and her husband were pregnant with their second child.  She was crying. I felt like I was underwater. I could hardly hear what she was saying, only catching bits and pieces.  She was unsure about telling me, because she knew about everything we were going through. I swallowed hard, told her it was okay, and that I was ecstatic for her. I hung up the phone. Even though I was less than two miles from home, I had to pull over. I couldn’t see anymore through the tears. I remember sitting in my car on the side of the highway, my head on the steering wheel, my body wracked with uncontrollable sobs. Why was this so hard for us?!  I spent ten minutes on the side of that highway until I was able to regain my composure and finish the short drive home. To this day, that memory still makes me weep.

Through this journey, I lost faith in God. Like, really lost faith. I grew up in a household where I went to church every Sunday morning, every Sunday evening, and every Wednesday night. On top of going to a week-long camp every summer. My best friends were people I went to church with. Our congregation was a big family—we took care of each other. So when my husband and I struggled to get pregnant, I felt betrayed. I distinctly remember one Sunday morning where I was in our master bath, brushing my teeth. I’m a night shift ER nurse, so to get up even remotely early on a Sunday is difficult for me and rarely happens. I was looking in the mirror, looking at my husband, who was hounding me about going to church, since we actually got up in enough time to go. I shook my head no. I didn’t want to go. “Why?”, he asked me. I didn’t want to answer. Tears filled my eyes.  “What is it?  Why don’t you want to go?”  “BECAUSE I’M FREAKING ANGRY!”  My husband was taken aback by my reaction. “Angry? At me? Why?”  “I’m not angry at you! I’m angry at God! I feel like He’s completely abandoned me!”  My entire life, I’d been completely devoted to God and my relationship with Him. Why would He do this to me? To us? If anyone knew how badly I wanted to be a mother, He did.

So how long would we be willing to put ourselves through all the infertility treatments? Don’t get me wrong, I really loved Dr. R and his nurse. They always made us feel like a part of the family. His office staff, on the other hand (check-in and check-out staff) were absolutely horrendous. On multiple occasions, I would be crying when I left his office. I never could understand how someone who works in an office where women are coming to you because they want to have a baby could be so mean and hateful!  My husband and I decided to take a break from fertility treatments after an encounter with my least-favorite office staff member. I’d scheduled an ultrasound for the beginning of my cycle and when my period came a few days early, I tried to call in to the office to reschedule my ultrasound. The office staff member told me that it was impossible to reschedule. Her response: “It’s not my fault your period started early. There’s nothing I can do.” I don’t know if it was the stress of everything going on, or if it was all the hormones I was on, but that was it for me. I’d had it. I met my husband at work and told him what happened, and he agreed. After almost two years of trying to get pregnant, it was time to take a break.

And, guess what. We got pregnant. Who knew? Our little miracle baby was born on July 26, 2014. Our lives were complete.

After she was born, I didn’t have a period for a long time. In fact, E was about 16 months old.  I didn’t think much of it. I was breastfeeding, after all. I stopped breastfeeding at a year, and didn’t really think about the fact that it took another four months for me to cycle. A few cycles in, I was going to the restroom and had pain so severe in my lower abdomen, that I thought I might pass out. I consulted Dr. Google. I know better. I’ve been an ER nurse for 10 years, a flight nurse for two.  But it was the middle of the night, and I wanted an answer. Endometriosis. I couldn’t have a bowel movement, urinate, or even pass gas without being doubled over in pain.  It all made so much sense!  Our “unexplained infertility”, why I didn’t have a period for so long, the heavy periods. Was it possible, though? I’d never had any symptoms before! I made an appointment with Dr. G to discuss my options. Based on my symptoms, he agreed that it was probably endometriosis. The only way to definitively diagnose it, however, was with an exploratory laparotomy and a D&C. I decided I wasn’t quite ready for that yet, since our chances of getting pregnant would go up immediately following surgery. I didn’t want to have the surgery done twice, so I decided to wait until my husband and I were actually ready to have another baby. However, what I did do was start two different types of birth control to keep my symptoms under control.  And it worked!

Fast-forward a few years, and my husband and I have made the decision to have another baby! We had long discussions about whether we wanted another baby or not. Were we ready to go through this again? The long, sleepless nights, the dirty diapers, the chapped nipples. Especially having to go through the painful possibility of not being able to get pregnant again? Are we ready to go through all that again? I’m going to be honest, it put a strain on our marriage (anyone that has been through this can attest to that). The biggest positive thing we have going for us this time around is that when I get discouraged, I can just look at our miracle angel baby and be content with what we have.

It’s been about six months so far. Two of my coworkers are pregnant, which makes this especially difficult.  Seeing their growing bellies every day makes me a little jealous, let’s be honest. Actually, if we’re being honest, it makes me really freaking jealous. When I discussed this with my husband, he reminded me that we hadn’t been trying very long. While this is true, I think that infertility is something that marks you forever. I don’t feel like we’ve just started trying for baby number two. I feel like we just pressed the “unpause” button from our previous journey. Like we’ve been trying for two years plus six months. It’s so difficult living your life 28 days at a time.  In the six months we’ve been trying, I’ve already gone through 7 pregnancy tests. And each time one of those dang things come back with one pink line, it’s like a fist to the gut.  I hate it. I hate this process. The waiting, the disappointment, the fervent prayers sent up every night so that one day, hopefully, our family will be complete.  Our family may not be complete, but it’s pretty dang perfect the way it is.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Mindful Responses to Mindless Infertility Questions

July 2, 2018

Written by Tiffany Johnston, WTF contributor

For those of us who are unfortunate enough to be fluent in the language of infertility, there are few words, so innocuously strung together, that are more likely to elicit a punch in the face as when we are asked “Are you guys having kids?” or  “Will you be having another?” When you’ve struggled with infertility these types of questions will never be a simple “yes,” or “no.” We are more accustomed to responding with “Maybe.” or “We hope so!” upon which it’s not hard to assume that the answer truly is far more complex and seeped in misery than the poor soul that dared to ask said question ever assumed. Realistically there is a 98% chance that the poor unfortunate soul asking the question at hand has no idea that you have endured months or years of disappointment, and that weekly you face a myriad of doctor appointments, shoot yourself up daily, and that you have come to track every single day of your month. Recently I brought up this topic with my postpartum counselor and wanted to talk about some strategies and “canned responses,” as she called them, that could help keep us on the right side of the law when those dreaded questions are asked:

1)  Take A Deep Breath

Simple enough right? This is probably the most critical part in this interaction, because at this point in the interrogation your heart rate is elevated, pits are sweating and you are suddenly in fight or flight mode.  The first few times you run into this question while struggling to conceive, will be like stubbing your toe; all at once your body will suddenly go rigid and it will feel like you just got the wind knocked out of you. In this moment of complete and utter panic, if you only do one thing, remember to breathe.

2) Remind Yourself That It’s Likely Not An Interrogation

Our society has created pre-formulated ideas on when and how we should reach certain milestones, so when we stray off the ‘typical’ path those around us are bound to become inquisitive. What you must remember is that most people are only mildly concerned about your life choices, so no matter how you answer them it is unlikely that it will have any long term ramifications to their day. So aside from a few follow up questions at most, the annoyance should be short lived and fairly painless once you have a battle strategy in place.

3) Consider Using a canned Response

The goal of this is to keep the conversation within YOUR comfort zone, because you do not owe anyone anything, especially not when it comes to your family and body.  Come up with a short, sweet, and free of excuses response that you and your significant other are comfortable with sharing. The answers can vary slightly to match the circumstances or audience. We like to have one appropriate for work, family and friends. It is up to you to decide how in depth you go with each group of people but for your sanity have some kind of canned response ready for when the questions start flying.

4) Remember That It’s Okay To Have Boundaries

Our society is one that values simplicity, non-controversial topics, and likes to hide from taboo subjects. This type of thinking tends to lead to superficial conversations and naivety. So, though it is difficult, remember that you and your partner are the ones on the rollercoaster of bitter disappointment, painful procedures, and tough choices. You get to decide who gets the front row seat and who gets the seat in the very back. If your choice is not to share any of your journey with anyone, then own that. Make sure it’s your hand on the on/off switch, no one else’s. There will always be someone that could never relate and has no concept of conversational etiquette. Thus, it is your job as a couple to firmly place and uphold your boundaries, for your sanity, relationship and for the sake of our judicial system.

Most importantly remember that you dear one, are powerful beyond measure, and deserve to feel heard during your journey.  Though each of us are different, I encourage you to strive to be vulnerable and connect with other women openly and courageously, strive to root yourself in finding a new more empowered and accepting you. That is capable, and willing to educate others while striving to grow a community full of empathic and enlightened individuals ready to support those facing the rollercoaster of infertility.


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