Monthly Archives

August 2018

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

An IVF Journey to Clayton

August 31, 2018

Written by Anna Berry, guest blogger

Growing up a family was something I always wanted. Pretty much my whole life I thought getting pregnant was such a simple thing. I mean that’s what you learn in school, TV, and movies. A man and a woman have unprotected sexual intercourse (or sometimes protected if you’re lucky ;)) and you’re pregnant. Boom! Easy peasy right!!!?? Nope, not for us anyway or the 1 in 8 couples that deal with infertility.

My husband and I met in high school but didn’t start dating till after school when we were 19. The relationship started off pretty causal but pretty quickly turned serious. I knew I loved him pretty early on. Of course we went through our ups and downs but at 24 we got engaged and were married at 26. We had a plan for the most part and that included trying to get pregnant when we turned 30. Well when we turned 27 that plan to wait till 30 went out the window. My friend had her little boy and I was obsessed with him. I immediately told Tom (my husband) that I think we should start trying for a baby because I had baby fever. We decided I would get off birth control which I had been on since 18 (because I was sure I’d get pregnant if I wasn’t on it) and we’d start to try without really trying. We did this for about 6 months and each month Aunt Flow would show her ugly face. I went for my annual GYNO appointment and mentioned it to my doctor. She said to try for 6 more months using ovulation kits and then if we’re still not pregnant I should contact an infertility doctor. So, after 6 more months and not getting pregnant I contacted an RE.

Once I finished with all the different tests, I was told everything looks good. Which was a relief but also frustrating cause we weren’t getting pregnant. Once we found out I was good Tom decided to get checked. His results came back not so good. He had low sperm count, low motility, and abnormal morphology. I was always a little worried there would be an issue because he had a varicocele in his teen years. The good news was he didn’t have the varicocele again so he didn’t need surgery. I had switched insurances by this time so I started to see a new infertility doctor. She looked at both our results and felt that we would probably be able to get pregnant with IUI.

After a little over year and half of trying things on our own, in June 2016 we did our first IUI. I’ll never forget that first HCG shot. I was terrified and freaking out. Tom’s numbers post wash came back really good so we were extremely hopeful. The TWW was terrible. All I wanted to do was take a pregnancy test and find out if I was pregnant. Well when I finally took one it came back negative and it was a little heartbreaking. I think we both thought we had good numbers and gave the sperm a good head start so we will definitely get pregnant. We tried again in July but Tom’s numbers weren’t that great. He’s a firefighter so we think environmental issues decreased his sperm. After that IUI failed, we took a little break. We just needed to reset and get back to being us. We started again in October but we got another negative pregnancy test. Tried again in November but yet again negative. Finally, in December we spoke to our doctor about moving on to IVF. We were going to try IUI one more time but if it didn’t work we wanted to move on. She agreed that she thought that was a good plan. I remember it all so well..I was supposed to take a pregnancy test on December 13th. I was pretty hopeful but after all the fails I didn’t get my hopes up too much. Once again it was another fail. It was hard but the sad part about it was it felt normal. That’s such a sad thing to say. I was so use to it that I almost feel like it didn’t faze me like it had before. My doctor’s office called and I let them know it was negative and we made an appointment to come in to discuss IVF. I couldn’t believe it. This was never something I ever thought I was going to have to do. Tom and I had talked about it before and we both were so unsure we’d want to go that route, but once the IUIs kept failing we knew we would definitely try it. We wanted a family so badly we would’ve done whatever we could to make one.

A week after my 30th birthday I started my injections for IVF. The shots were not easy. I wasn’t as scared of them as I was when we first started our journey, but there were more of them and some of them stung. For 11 days Tom or myself injected 3-4 different medications into my abdomen and I also took an oral pill to help my body create more egg follicles. January 25th 2017 was our egg retrieval day. I was so nervous but excited at the same time cause I felt like we were finally making moves to where we wanted to be. My doctor retrieved 19 eggs!!!! We were ecstatic! On day 5 we were told that 6 embryos made it to day 5 and were maturing well. 6 was a good number but after getting 19 eggs we were a little upset cause we definitely thought we’d have more. We opted to do the PSG testing on the embryos. After the PGS testing we ended up with 5 beautiful embabies.

For our 1st IVF cycle we did a medicated cycle to help my lining thicken and make sure everything was going to be nice and comfy for our little embryo. I didn’t respond to well and my lining wasn’t as great as we would’ve wanted it to be. On March 3rd we transferred one of our little embryos. I remember when it happened I cried. All I could think was this is it. I am officially PUPO and I am so happy. We are getting the family we wanted. Throughout the 10 day wait for the blood test I didn’t feel anything. I had no pregnancy symptoms or even implantation pain or bleeding. I was pretty positive I wasn’t pregnant. My husband was trying to be more positive but I just couldn’t because I had read all these things saying I should be feeling something and I wasn’t. When the doctor called on the 13th and told me I wasn’t pregnant I was devastated to say the least. Even though I had already felt that I wasn’t to actually hear it was so different. To me that was our baby it was our DNA and it felt heart wrenching that I couldn’t keep that little embaby alive. I was on a hike with my friends and I tried not to let It affect me. The worst part was Tom was at work. I knew he was waiting for my call and to have to call him and tell him it was again negative was even more heartbreaking for me. I remember getting home and just screaming and crying and not understanding why this was happening. Being alone at any point of the day when you find out your IVF failed really isn’t something anyone should ever do.

I spoke to my doctor the next day and we decided we wanted to go forward right away with another transfer. As soon as my next cycle started we were at the doctors. We decided to do a natural cycle this time and let my body kind of do its own thing without medication. I also stopped drinking caffeine and alcohol and added acupuncture to the mix. This time my lining looked amazing. I responded so much better to just letting things happen plus I think acupuncture probably helped. On April 6th we transferred our beautiful hatching embryo. When I saw the picture of our embryo and it was hatching there was something that came over me and thought “this is our baby.”

During this 9 day wait I really didn’t feel much again. I also was religious about all the myths that help with implantation. I ate pineapple, I wore socks, I only ate and drank warm things, and I pretty much sat on the couch throughout the 9-day wait. Did it help? Who the heck knows, but I tried it because at one point it worked for someone. There were 2 days where I had like a dull cramp but other than that I felt no different. This again made me think that it didn’t work. This time Tom was so positive and he just kept saying “I know you’re pregnant.” I kept saying “I don’t think I am.”

On the day we went to get the blood test done Tom and I went to breakfast. During breakfast I looked him in the eye and said “I need you to be prepared for this to be negative again. I haven’t felt much and I just don’t feel pregnant.” He just kept being positive and saying I was pregnant. He asked if I would take a pregnancy test when we got home so when the doctor called we would already be expecting whatever she had to say. I really didn’t want to I just wanted to wait to hear it from the doctor. When we got home I went and sat on the couch and he walked up to me and said “Well are you gonna take a test.” I finally agreed but told him he couldn’t come in with me because I had to do some other business in the bathroom (LOL). He said Fine, but don’t look at it till I can come in.” So once I was done I opened the door and called for him to come in. Right before he got to me I looked at the test. I immediately started crying. Tom said by my look and the way I said his name he thought it was negative. I than looked at him and said “this thing says I’m pregnant.” I had never seen those 2 pink lines before. I had always just seen 1 and squinted a lot to make sure there wasn’t 2. I couldn’t believe it I was in shock. I was so happy. We were finally pregnant!!! A couple hours later our doctor called and confirmed that we were pregnant. It was the best news I’d ever heard.

On December 21, 2017 I gave birth to our little chunky monkey Clayton Michael Berry. He makes us so happy and I couldn’t imagine him not being here. Even though during the wait I was skeptical about being pregnant I will never forget that feeling of looking at his embryo picture and thinking this is our baby.

Infertility is hard and it sucks. I knew nothing about it before we went through it. I had friend after friend get pregnant and have babies while Tom and I were trying. Every pregnancy announcement or baby announcement was a little heartbreaking. I couldn’t help but be sad for Tom and I but happy for the person. It was such a strange feeling. The good thing was we had a really great support system. I was really open about our struggle. It made me feel better when I could get it off my chest. Tom was completely different. He didn’t want to talk to anyone about it. It was hard for him to even speak to me about it. I couldn’t bottle it up. When I did I would just have a breakdown. The only time I was able to keep things a little bit under wraps was during our 2nd transfer. I had told people with the 1st so when it was negative it was really hard to let people know we weren’t pregnant. So, we decided to keep the 2nd a little hush hush. I still spoke about it a little just didn’t give many details. I am eternally grateful to all my friends and family that were there for us. I don’t think I would’ve been able to get through this without them.

To all those infertility Survivors congratulations. You are a true warrior. To everyone still going through it don’t give up. You’ve got this! Stay positive if you can. I know it’s so hard but the end result is so worth it. Talk to people if you can, join a group or blog. Honestly, talking to people really helped me. I made 3 really great IVF friends from one of my infertility apps.

Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Timing is Everything: How Ava Helped a Thousand Women

August 24, 2018

It’s true that for some couples, getting pregnant is as easy as one night of fun. But, here’s the dirty little secret that we don’t talk about: It’s not always that easy for everyone because conceiving is really all about timing. No, not only the big picture timing of family and career planning, but also timing in the cycle. When you know your cycle, you can double your chances of conceiving, and Ava’s technology helps women do just that.

Ava recently confirmed that more than 1,000 babies from around the world have been born from women using the company’s cycle tracking Ava bracelet to help them conceive. The first Ava baby, Jace McGee, born in St. George, Utah, was announced in August 2017, and the company’s first “celebrity Ava baby,” Emerson Tolbert (daughter of “The Bachelor/Bachelor in Paradise” stars Jade & Tanner Tolbert) was born last fall.

Using sensor technology, this bracelet can monitor key health measures and determine a woman’s unique fertility window in real time, , all while she simply wears it during sleep. Women sync it with the Ava app in the morning, avoiding the hassles, mess and invasiveness of other fertility tracking methods like ovulation strips and BBT thermometers. The Ava bracelet was proven ,in a recently concluded clinical study at the University Hospital of Zurich, to detect an average of 5.3 fertile days per cycle—in real time—with 89 percent accuracy.

Hear from the women whose journey to motherhood was possible with the help of Ava:

Lauren welcomed her baby boy Landon after years of struggling with painful and debilitating endometriosis. Managing this condition was difficult, involving multiple surgeries and the possibility of infertility. She said, “When I thought about getting pregnant originally, I thought you just went to it and you try and you prayed for the best. But with Ava, I got to see that you could see what was happening from your pulse, from your body temperature, from how much sleep you’re getting. I realized that there were so many other components that went into it that I never knew or even thought to know beforehand.”

Briana, like many women, thought it would be easy to get pregnant. She even says, “My mom always said with her and my dad, the second they tried, the next month she would be pregnant, so I thought it would be the same for us. But, it didn’t really turn out that way.” She adds, “I had been trying all these other things for 11 months unsuccessfully, and the first cycle I use Ava, we become pregnant, finally.” She also found that, “The most important thing I learned about my cycle is that I was ovulating a week outside of when my fertility apps told me when I was ovulating, so that was definitely the biggest and most important factor of all.” Briana welcomed her baby girl Ariana earlier this year.

Jade, a contestant on the Bachelor, started trying to conceive shortly after getting married but felt like she didn’t quite understand how to approach the process. She found that, “I think one of the biggest misconceptions that I had about trying to conceive and ovulation is that I thought you had about a 48-hour window to get pregnant, and so I thought it was really hard to get pregnant. And using the bracelet, I found out that there are actually five or six days, and that just gave me some relief to know that there is more time that I actually could get pregnant.” After two cycles of using Ava, she was pregnant, and she welcomed her baby girl Emerson last year.

Lindsay, who works for Ava, found that even with all the knowledge of fertility and cycle tracking, there were still bumps along the road. After experiencing a miscarriage, it took another three cycles before she was pregnant. She says “The nice thing about Ava is that there are so many things that are outside of your control when you’re trying, and it can be really stressful. But, I knew that at least the thing I had control over—timing intercourse around ovulation—I had under control, and I could cross that off my list, and that was the thing I didn’t have to worry about.” Lindsay welcomed her baby boy Wyatt in May 2018.

Dafne welcomed the first Ava baby in Spain. After trying for months without success, she turned to Ava and was pregnant within in her first cycle. She says, “I can definitely say that the Ava bracelet was my amulet in this process, helping me complete my dreams and never could I have imagined it would be so simple and fast.” She also found that Ava continued to help her during pregnancy, sharing “I continued to wear Ava while I was pregnant because it gave me control, and I could download the charts and share them with medical professionals.” Dafne welcome her baby boy Luca earlier in 2018.

Rebekah welcomed the first Ava baby in the U.K. She found out she was pregnant just before celebrating her 25th birthday, and she says, “My favorite thing about using Ava is that everything is all in one place. You’re not trying to collect all these bits of data separately and then put them all together yourself. You just open up the app, and it’s all there.” She also found that the Aa communities supportive, saying “It’s really nice to speak to other people going through the same things, so you can all obsess about your [Ava] graphs together.” Rebekah welcomed her baby boy Benjamin in March 2018.

Sabrina welcomed the first Ava baby in Switzerland. She began using Ava after her first child was born and was trying for a second child. She says, “I breastfed my firstborn for a long period, which had had a big impact on my cycle. So, when I wanted to get pregnant again, I wanted to avoid any frustration during this process this time around. I really wanted to be sure to use an efficient and recognized cycle tracker.” Sabrina welcomed her baby Noemi earlier this year.

Babe In My Arms, Babe In My Heart, Blogs

Our Rae of Sunshine

August 21, 2018

Written by Kathleen Hedges, guest blogger

If you asked me at age 5 what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would answer quickly and with such pride “a mom!” I grew up with that dream of motherhood forever in my mind. On January 3, 2014, I met the man of my dreams, we quickly decided on forever and both of us wanted a family so when we got married on May 9, 2015, we started trying to grow our family.

I tracked my cycles, read books, followed old wives tales, and we prayed, prayed more, and waited but each month the test was still negative. Each time I took a test my heart broke a little more. I felt so helpless and alone while all my friends were getting married after us and getting pregnant before us. It felt like each month passed so slowly waiting to see if we were pregnant yet.

After about 6 months I knew something was wrong. It felt like such a struggle. My parents and my mom’s parents also had a hard time conceiving. My parents had to take hormones to conceive me and did an IUI for my sister. My grandparents couldn’t conceive so they adopted my aunt and then ended up having 3 biological kids after, so in turn I felt infertility was apart of our story as well. I called my OB-GYN and set up an appointment after about a year of trying. She ran every test she could and they all seemed normal. She then requested a semen analysis and when the results came back, she didn’t quite know how to explain them, so she sent us to a urologist (who probably had the worst bedside manner of any doctor ever!). We went to see the urologist about a week before my birthday and he looked over the results, examined my husband, and told us 100% there was no chance we would have children of our own. He didn’t tell us about IVF but I knew we were meant to be parents. When we left the office I couldn’t believe it I was in shock and then hysterical. I didn’t know what to do.

About a week after I had come to terms with infertility, I called our insurance. I wanted to know about fertility coverage and if there was anything we could do. By some miracle our insurance covered both IVF and IUI at 100%. It was the only thing I needed to hear. I called the doctor’s office who had done the semen analysis and who my OB-GYN has recommended and booked an appointment. I figured I would meet the doctor and see if he was the one for me or if another one might be better. A week later when we drove up to the office with all our test results in hand to show him. I was so terrified. I didn’t know what was about to happen.

But, Dr B was amazing! He looked over our tests. He was honest and genuine and I knew we were right where we were supposed to be. He said there was almost no chance we would ever have children on our own but with invitro fertilization we could. I remember so clearly the tears flooding my eyes because he told us “We will get you your baby”.

Our first round of IVF was set to begin and they sent us the drugs and syringes. Wow -it was overwhelming. I sat in shock when I opened up the box. How could all of this be the way to get our sweet baby? The hormones, the tears, the needles…I hid it all from those around me, except for my husband and a few people no one knew how hard this journey was.

Our egg retrieval was great! They got 19 eggs and 9 were fertilized and made it to day 5! We had 9 embryos! We transferred the best looking one and I had to spend 3 days on bed rest and continue taking the hormones. On November 23, we found out we were pregnant! It was so wild because almost instantly, I was so sick. I could hardly eat, wanted to sleep all the time and remember thinking “How could this be? I’m only 10 days pregnant”.

December 5th we went in for our first ultrasound at 5 weeks pregnant. They could see the sac and the baby growing inside. Everything seemed to be growing correctly and the doctor brushed off my extreme sickness. We went back a week later and the doctor said “There is the baby…and there is another baby!”

I can’t even remember how many cuss words came out of my mouth. I made him check again. “Yes there are two!” The shock was overwhelming. We couldn’t get pregnant and we had transferred one embryo and we were having two babies! Identical twins. I couldn’t get over it. The doctor said sometimes one twin doesn’t make it so we would check again in a week. So we did 7 weeks and our little twins were still there and we got to see their heartbeats. We would have a few more appointments before the fertility doctor would release us back to an OBGYN who specializes in high risk multiple pregnancies to be cared for until our little ones came. The next week we came back and there they were both little twins tucked in tight and hearts beating strong. Dr B was happy our littles were growing and after Christmas we would have one final appointment with him, then we would get to meet our new OB.

Over the holidays we announced to our families we were expecting identical twins due August 3. I was still extremely sick and I lost 12 lbs in a matter of weeks. I was happy our family was finally growing by 2 blessings! I was extremely worried about how they would grow inside me and if I would make it to full term, if they could be healthy. My husband tried reassuring me that everything we be wonderful and our two little blessings would be here before we knew it.

We started our new year in Yosemite talking about how it would be our last one before we had two littles along with. Our next appointment came Jan 6 and for some reason my heart was still worried. The doctor brought up the ultrasound and there were our babies and no heart beats…no movement…no life inside me and I didn’t know. My life came crushing down. How could this happen to us after all the struggles it took us to get here why were we disappointed again? It was surreal leaving the office. How did we come in expecting two miracles and leave with our dreams crushed? Our identical twin girls were now our angels. The lives we had planned for them in our minds were gone. Jan 9 I had a D&C which was the worst thing to ever experience and suddenly it was just us again. No family to grow. I couldn’t stop thinking about the twins.

My husband has got to be the strongest man I know. Everyday my heart broke, everyday I broke down and he picked me up he helped me to find my strength in all this mess. I don’t know how I would have ever made it without him. We lost our two precious baby girls and he carried us and our marriage and protected it with all he is. We still wanted to grow our family and decided to go forward with our IVF journey. In March, we started again with the pills, shots, and the craziness. It only seemed harder this time.

Our second cycle didn’t take and it was another month with a negative test. We scheduled our third cycle we kept praying for our miracle. During the third cycle, we found my husband was being transferred for work and we were moving 300 miles away so during the shots and tears and madness we moved. My husband started a new job and couldn’t come for our transfer so my mom and I drove 300 miles back to Southern California and stayed with one of my best friends. My mom drove me to my transfer and held my hand while we waited. When we finished, we spent the day binge watching tv and laughing. The next day we drove back home, I was so nervous to get my hopes up but when we stopped at a gas station to use the bathroom I bought a scratcher and won! I saved the cash and as we drove home I couldn’t help but have hope. We had moved back to my hometown, we were near our people, this was part of God’s big plan.

A week later on our wedding anniversary we found out our little miracle was coming! It was shocking and hard to feel excited at first. But as the weeks passed and we traveled to appointment after appointment and finally heard the magical sound of her heart beat it got a little easier to believe. We hit 12 weeks we got to go to a regular OBGYN and we got to see her little wiggly body on the ultrasound and it all became real. Our rainbow baby was on the way, after the worst storms we could have ever imagined. As my belly grew so did our joy and excitement. I was sick again but this time I didn’t mind I couldn’t believe I was growing a little human! 19 weeks in, we did genetic testing and our anatomy ultrasound. With our families surrounding us we found out a little girl would be joining our family. My pregnancy was wonderful, I felt stronger and more proud of my body than ever. I was growing a healthy baby girl! I continued running and coaching fitness classes until the day my water broke.

My water broke and I thought our little girl would be here in a hurry. I had carried so small and only gained 12 lbs so I thought our baby girl would pop out tiny and easily. But just like our journey to finally get our baby, fast and easy was not in the plan. I was in for a surprise, this stubborn little girl wasn’t quite ready to make her appearance. After my water broke I endured 39 hours of hard labor, 24 of them completely unmedicated, she was not coming. We got taken in for a C section. To my luck, my OBGYN and the doctor I had nannied for for the last year were the two on call and both got to deliver our miracle. Raegan Kathleen was born at 7:56am January 22 8lbs 1oz and 20.75inches long.

Our rainbow baby girl is here. She is healthy and happy. Each day with her is such a blessing. As I sit here writing this I get to look at our sweet girl, our miracle. This journey was anything but easy but it was worth every shot, every tear, every night I spent awake praying for our baby and I am so glad this helped us to grow together in our marriage and to become the best parents we can be.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Baby B… Can You Hear Me?

August 21, 2018

Written by Ashley Flanigan

One of my biggest dreams was to be a mom. My life as a teacher, coach and aunt has been centered around children. But some things just don’t happen like you think. After about four years of trying to add a baby to our family, my husband Greg and I were starting to lose hope. We prayed and had faith that it would happen if it was Gods will, but our faith was rocked when it just wasn’t happening. Were we not meant to be parents? Were we not compatible to create a healthy life? So many questions and what ifsran through our heads.

Backing up a couple years, we got married pretty young. I knew that I wanted to be married for a few years before having children. I competed at a high level in CrossFit and Greg enjoyed going on backpacking and four-wheeling trips, so we didnt really have the life for kids right then anyway. When we started trying, I was practically married to ovulation predictor tests and trying to get the timing just right. Month after month went by each with a heartbreaking negative pregnancy test. So we decided to put it aside for a while and stopped actively trying. We focused on work and our sports and hobbies and changed our thinking to it will happen when it happens, a mindset that was always hard for us.

Eventually, it was time to figure out what was going on. In June 2015 we had a meeting with a fertility doctor to start testing and talk about options. After our preliminary tests, the results from Gregs tests came back showing hardly any viable sperm and what was, wasnt moving much. Our best chance of conceiving would be through IVF. Why us? Being surrounded by kids and family who have had no problem conceiving, why was this going to be our new journey? After that visit and hearing about the procedure and cost, it was a hard pill to swallow. How would we ever afford it financially? Were we ready for something to be so life consuming? Was I ready to do a procedure that would be so rough on my body? By December of that year, we were ready to move forward. If this was our best chance, we would do everything we could to make it happen.

In January 2016, all of the medication started and we did our egg retrieval where they took 54 eggs, much more than usual. Apparently the medication worked a little too well! They were then fertilized and after the five day waiting period we ended up with 32 embryos frozen. A couple months later, my body had recovered and we were ready to do our first transfer. I was convinced that since the problem was male factor infertility that this first round would work and we just needed a little help. Not so much. During that first year of IVF we did a transfer in March, June and August. Some ended quickly with my HCG not increasing much resulting in painful miscarriages and one moving forward to a pregnancy that we soon lost. I remember going into each transfer feeling so hopeful, like this next time had to work since the last one didnt. Eventually our turn had to come. Each time, however, left us feeling frustrated and discouraged and after the third try it was time to decide what we were going to do next. Would be take a break? Give up on our dream to have a baby? We couldnt afford to move to adoption at this point. We needed to lean on our faith and on each other even more now.

In December of that year we decided to give it one more try. This time it had to work. I can so clearly remember sitting on our couch reading stories of other couples going through IVF and it worked before the fourth try. This had to be the time. Our doctor was willing to give it one more shot before needed to do genetic testing on our embryos, a process costing thousands of dollars. We were ready to go for it. In January we transferred two embryos and prayed and prayed this would be the time that worked. In February we got the good news, it worked! We were expecting! A couple weeks later after our first ultrasound we got the news of a lifetime, we were pregnant with identical triplets!! We were so excited, shocked and panicking all at the same time. Our dream had finally come true, a little more than expected, but we were ready to take it on! The weeks went by and we started wrapping our heads around bringing three babies into our life. It was amazing how quickly I felt like I could look past our previous heartbreaks and be excited about these babies. I felt as though there was no way we could lose them all and that we for sure would have our miracle babies! We thought through the logistics and dreamed about what life would be like and how we would share the news with our families, all while trying to stay true to the fact that this would be very risky and there was a chance all three wouldnt make it.

On March 1st, we went in for an ultrasound to hear their heartbeats! Finally, what I had been waiting for! Instead, we got the hardest news of our lives. All three babies no longer had heartbeats. At 9 weeks, we lost our miracle babies and were heartbroken. It was a long, silent drive home as we processed the news we just received. Upon returning home we knew we needed to be out so we spent some time at the lake that evening with our dog and were sad together. The next morning I went in for a D&C which would then need be done agin 8 weeks later (on my 32nd birthday). Happy birthday to me.

This was such a low time in our lives. It felt like there was no way this dream would ever come true. We had invested so much of our time and finances into this journey with nothing to show for it. It felt impossible to stay hopeful. At that point we couldnt financially do genetic testing or look at other options and we both felt like we needed a break and to reevaluate.

As the months passed my mind was searching for other options. I wasnt convinced IVF was ever going to work. After 4 tries, I wasn’t hopeful anymore. Greg and I had a hard conversation about using a sperm donor. From what we knew, using a donor was a fix to our underlining problem. After long conversation, prayer and consults with our IUI doctor, we found our donor and were ready to move forward. Planning to purchase our sample, we were waiting for me to have one more cycle to make sure we timed it well.

In August 2017 my period never came. At first I was so frustrated thinking here was another roadblock keeping us from having a baby. Was this a sign not to use a donor? About 9 days after I should have gotten my period, I faced one of my biggest fears and causes of anxiety, taking a pregnancy test. After too many negative pregnancy tests to count, I swore I would never take one again. This time, I knew something was different. On Friday, September 29th, I took a test. Positive. I was pregnant. Naturally. Our dream had come true, and the fun of planning how I was going to tell Greg had begun!

The next 6 months or so tested our faith even more. The pregnancy did stick, thankfully. I cant say that I felt very connected with it, keeping myself pretty disconnected in fear of losing it. I had a terrible placenta resulting in many abnormal test results, blood work that came back as having a high chance of our baby having Down Syndrome, and in the end suffering from Intrauterine Growth Restriction where our little miracle stopped growing. I was induced at 33 weeks and 5 days gestation to a perfect 3lb 5oz baby girl, Blakely Elizabeth. She spent her first weeks of life in the NICU practicing eating and gaining enough weight to come home and after 3 long weeks, she joined her family at home. This little fighter proved to us that miracles absolutely happen in their own time. She couldnt be more perfect and is growing and developing by the day. We are forever grateful.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Hope for the Haps

August 17, 2018

Written by Bethany Hapner

Seven years ago my husband and I tied the knot and eventually as all couples do, we wanted to start a family. We waited a year into our marriage, because when we were first married my mother in law who had Alzheimer’s lived with us. Well, one year turned into two and eventually two turned into three, and so on. My husband is paralyzed from the knees down (he can walk with the assistance of leg braces), so we wondered if that was the reason we were unable to get pregnant naturally. We finally met with a fertility Doctor and after many tests, we were basically told our only option was IVF. After looking at the costs (even with our infertility assistance from my husband’s employer’s insurance) it was just to much!

We ended up pursuing embryo adoption. We did 2 rounds of that and both times we got the dreaded call from the doctor that we weren’t successful. We then turned to adoption. We did fundraising, background checks, a home study, basically the whole nine yards.  Then out of the blue we got a call in September from a friend of a friend who said that she was pregnant and wanted to give us her baby girl who was to be born in January. We were SO excited! We had a pink nursery decorated and even a name picked out, Hope Elizabeth. Two months before our baby Hope was to be born, the birth mom dropped communication with us. After some research we think that she had another couple that she had been working with and had been lying to us the entire time. Our hearts were broken. A few months we turned back to our infertility doctor to pursue IVF because we still had money left over from our infertility assistance through our insurance. Turns out our situation improved and we could now try an IUI instead of an IVF (which is MUCH cheaper!). I had my first IUI and I became pregnant for the first time EVER in my whole life! We were SOOOO excited! However at my 10 week ultrasound, the baby (who my 5 year old niece named Chip) was measuring at 8 weeks and there was no heartbeat to be found. I eventually miscarried. Once again we were heart broken. A few months later, we tried another IUI. Five years to the DAY of when our infertility journey started I found out I was pregnant again!!

I was diagnosed with MTHFR after my miscarriage, so my entire pregnancy my husband had to administer two different types of injections daily. I will NOT miss those bum shots!  Then finally on March 2nd, 2018 our little rainbow baby boy Bryce, named after Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, was born! He is an absolute joy and an answer to SO many prayers.

We have a Facebook group called #hopeforthehaps and an IG tag #hopeforthehaps that many people follow and all have enjoyed following us along on our journey.


Babe In My Arms, Blogs

We Share in Grief

August 15, 2018

Written by Taylor Fixler

March 27th 2015. We were going out to dinner to celebrate. We were celebrating for two reasons; we celebrate the 27th of every month to honor the day we met, and I was also expecting our first child. We were full of joy and love and were so at peace with our impending title of parents. My husband parked the car in the lot behind the restaurant, we zipped up our coats, and started to walk through the lot. Ten steps from the car I experienced such a great cramp deep in my stomach and I nearly doubled over. My husband turned his head around looking for me when he realized I was behind him. I faked a smile and said I was coming so he wasn’t alarmed but he knew something was wrong. I assured him I was okay and we should keep walking so I can sit down in the restaurant. With every step was more pain and more cramping, my strides getting shorter and slower. My heart raced in fear. At some point we ended up in the restaurant and were seated, but that part I don’t remember clearly. My mind was wandering. I quickly excused myself to the restroom and rushed into a stall. I already knew there was blood. There was so much blood. I kept wiping thinking I could wipe it away and it would stop but it wasn’t stopping. I cleaned up as best I could and went back to see my husband. He had already ordered for us, and through tears and quick breaths I told him we had to go to the hospital. He threw a bunch of cash on the table which I remember thinking was weird because we never have cash. I had hoped the restaurant would understand there was an emergency but we didn’t see our waitress on the way out. We held hands and tried to tell ourselves that some women have spotting throughout their pregnancies and it’s normal. We tried to convince ourselves I was one of those women. We cried and prayed together. I was evaluated and taken for an ultrasound. The sac was empty, my cervix was opening and I was still actively bleeding. The doctor wanted me to follow up with my OBGYN on Monday if I was still bleeding, but said that if I don’t stop bleeding it was most likely a miscarriage. We went home in silence and went to bed. I got up in the middle of the night and walked across the hall into the baby’s room. I sat alone in the rocking chair, sobbed, and let go of my dreams for this child.


The next evening we had tickets to the opera Frida in Detroit. I was still bleeding but I thought it might be nice to go out and try to enjoy the night together. Do you know Frida’s story? She suffered a devastating miscarriage represented in her painting seen above “Henry Ford Hospital, 1932.” I was watching my own experience happen on stage in front of a large audience. I cried in my seat feeling so unbelievably connected to a soul I never knew. In her words, “At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.” I’m sure my story is not much different than yours in the end. We share in grief, in sorrow and in hope of the “what ifs.” We long for motherhood but still despise its unfair timing and exclusivity.

We went on to miscarry again twice before discovering I carried the MTHFR (the initials are very fitting!) gene and needed to be on blood thinners to carry a pregnancy to term. We welcomed our rainbow baby, a son, in February of 2017. He is our best friend and the light of our lives.

To the women still grieving, dreaming and longing for their own bundle please know you are not alone. Childlessness is not a visible illness. Please speak up, share your story and find the support you need.


Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Our Rainbows After Years of Storms

August 13, 2018
Written by Tiffany Johnston

Storms are often full of turmoil, darkness and in the worst cases can leave us grappling with immense loss. However, no matter the final toll of a storm; when the first ray of light breaks through the clouds, there is always a flash of hope and belief that we are headed towards a better and brighter tomorrow, in those moments we often look for a rainbow. Scientifically, in nature a rainbow appears when light and rain come together in harmony. If you think about it, the same might be said for the concept of a rainbow baby; that is a baby born after a pregnancy or infant loss. These blessings often bring beauty (like a rainbow), relief and renewed hope following a storm.

I will be honest when we were in the midst of infertility treatments I really struggled with adopting the term and the dichotomy of the storm and rainbow happening simultaneously. In our six years of marriage my husband and I have weathered two losses and simultaneously had two beautiful infertility rainbow babies. Our first loss was in conjunction with our first successful IUI pregnancy.  Early on my HCG numbers told us we were pregnant with twins but by the time we went in for our ultrasound our second miracle was already fading. In the end we were blessed with our first beautiful baby boy Kian who was brought earthside in 2014. A little over two years later we started our infertility journey again and failed so many rounds of IUI. Until one day we didn’t, I had started a strict regimen of Young Living oils, supplements and antioxidant drinks 30 days before and all of a sudden I knew we were pregnant. I felt it like I had with Kian, every bone in my body knew that we were pregnant. But before we could even go check in at our fertility clinic, I caught an extremely bad case of the flu and in the blink of an eye it was over. Though I did briefly mention our loss in a personal blog post last year, those who did not follow my posts never knew. The whole situation was exhausting, painful and to top it off confusing. For the first time in two years I was pregnant, and it was all erased in the blink of an eye. To be truthful I wasn’t sure that I could handle another storm, this was our second loss since we had started our infertility journey. That was until a friend from Young Living contacted me, she told me that she truly believed that I needed to do try and do one more round. I am glad she was insistent because we got pregnant again with our second rainbow baby Luca.

By this point it was hard to accept the pregnancy with our son Luca, in truth I felt as though the rainbow simply couldn’t erase the storm. I constantly found a loop playing in my head that by accepting this thriving pregnancy it would somehow eclipse the tragedy of our previous pregnancy losses. With each day of our pregnancy there was a constant echo in my heart that wondered if our rainbow baby would ever make it earth side. There was no turning it off, it filled make days and nights with worry and fear for the unknown. Then one day I had an epiphany that each of our losses were with me everyday; that someday I would be with them again, able to touch their skin, hold their hands and whisper how much I love them in their tiny ears. Until that day, Stephen and I would be blessed enough to have their smiling, beautiful brothers that would be our daily reminders of the beauty and blessings in this world. They would be our miracles, light in the darkest of nights, and our rainbows after years of storms.

Babe In My Arms, Blogs

The Long Journey to Luca

August 6, 2018
Written by: Kimberly Shanahan
After losing Reagan it was hard to think of anything else. There’s so much that goes through your head constantly. I wanted to focus on something else and was completely distraught with losing her and not having the child we had planned for. Having a baby was still in the cards and the plan was to try again as soon as possible.
Getting pregnant with Reagan wasn’t easy, but I felt with all the knowledge I had gained it should be easier this time. I mean I could literally write a step by step manual on getting pregnant fast and I even did for someone! I was figuring it would be so soon, like an Irish twins type situation.
I pulled out all the stops, tried every silly product, wives tail, you name it in hopes that I could get pregnant ASAP, but it wasn’t happening. So not only being depressed each day from the traumatic experience we had, also finding some hope in another child also felt lost.
Month after month of more disappointment, I started to think maybe there was something wrong with us. Maybe getting pregnant with Reagan was really a luck of the draw situation and maybe I wasn’t going to be so lucky again.
We decided to get tested at a fertility center to check what was holding us back. The good news was we were fine, but it also still felt disheartening that there wasn’t any reason that I shouldn’t be getting pregnant. It just felt time after time we weren’t getting lucky at the chance. The doctor suggested we try IVF and felt confident that it would work for us. We were desperate and would try anything.
Very few people know that we did that. I hate to say that I was embarrassed to talk about it. I felt  ashamed that my body couldn’t do what it was supposed to and when I needed it to the most. But now I see constantly how many people document their journey of IVF on instagram, celebrities like Chrissy  Teigen have no problem talking about it. I mean it’s just science jumping in to help a biological process!  I’m not trying to create an alien baby or something in a lab, science (and a great doctor) is just putting what needs to be done together for us and then we take it from there.
When the process began in December, I could have started a pharmacy in our house from all the medications and needles I now had. We had a whole table set up with needles, alcohol pads, gauze pads and whatever medication didn’t need to  be refrigerated in the nursery. Each time I had to stick myself with a needle, I was doing it in a baby’s room to motivate myself.
I didn’t know quite how IVF worked, but I sure as hell didn’t know it’s still a long process. Since I have never had chicken pox the doctor highly suggested I get vaccinated for it since if I were to somehow get it while pregnant it would be bad for the baby and me. I received the vaccine from CVS, that’s super fun and confusing for the pharmacist to do! Well I didn’t realize that it’s two vaccines. I would need a second one in four weeks. Things were already taking too long for my liking and I signed off with the doctor, against her wishes, forgoing the second vaccine.
For months I was on a strict schedule of injecting myself twice a day, multiple times in one sitting. You needed to do the injections at specific times, which when working nights required Keith to come to my work where I’d run out to his car and shoot up like an addict. I had to inject myself in the stomach, one which looked like an insulin pen, one like a regular vaccine needle and upper glute which looked like a horse tranquilizer. It was terrifying.
The first time I had to inject into my butt with an 18 gauge needle 1.5 inches long, I had a panic attack. It happened multiple times and each time I had to psych myself up to jab myself in a quick motion. I even had Keith do it a couple of times which was just as scary.
I had to get my blood taken every 2-3 days at 6am before work and if you know me I HATE getting my blood taken. I’m on the verge of fainting or vomiting. I’m the person that needs someone else to drive them to get blood taken. I had so many pokes on my arms I looked like I needed to be rehabilitated.
So the point of the injections and pills is to get your hormones where they need to be and get your body to release multiple eggs. They take your blood constantly to check these levels and find out when you ovulate so you can get the procedure to remove whatever eggs your body has made. For some reason you need to take a month of birth control to get your body on a schedule. So that’s another month added on to this. I believe I made it two weeks and had Keith call the doctor to say I’m not doing another two. In her mind a month is nothing, but the way Keith described it to her is the past 10 months of my life have been a jail sentence and she wanted to add more time on it.
About a week after that the injection of all injections happens one night. The trojan horse of injections that primes you for ovulation and the next day you go in to remove the eggs.
So after three months of all this, at the end of February, I had the scheduled date of going in to get the eggs removed. I had no idea how this was to be done or anything about how it works. I’ll forewarn you now if you ever plan on having this procedure done, go into it not knowing anything like I did. I looked into it later and it’s terrifying. It’s like how you wouldn’t want to watch the Lasik video right before you get your eyes lasered.
From what I read online I thought I was gonna get some laughing gas like at the dentist and badda boom eggs retracted. Not the case. I went to a hospital like setting, was on a gurney with an IV of drugs and gas that LL Cool J style knocks you out. Apparently it’s one of anesthetic situations where you don’t think you’re awake or remember anything, but I had a lot to say about Beyonce. Don’t worry all nice things. I figured I was shit talking her since she just had twins, so I made sure.
I had a terrible cough that concerned them while I was under and therefore they had to wake me up
during the procedure. The doctor said she was just about done and asked me if I wanted to continue
still. Not realizing time had passed or anything had happened I said “Sure, you’re already in there why not”
*If you don’t want to hear about how the procedure works, politely skip ahead this next paragraph. *
Excuse my non scientific and graphic vocabulary for it, but to remove the eggs they put a very long
hollow needle inside of your uterus, if you understand the female reproductive system you know the ovaries are diagonal from the uterus and needles are straight, well the needle goes straight though the uterus wall to the ovaries and plucks the eggs like little painful daisies. I was awake for about 3 of these plucks. And to have an idea of how long this whole thing took, I had 29 eggs removed. Apparently my cup (ovaries) overflowth with them.
Now that is a unusually large number, to put in perspective research says 15 is optimal. So that can also cause issues with there being too many and then removing too many, ovaries can hyperstimuate which causes fluid to leak into your abdomen and chest. Usually they would create the embroyos and put one back in a week later. Well because of the chance of hyperstimulation they wanted to hold off on that.
I had to once again, continue injections, medications, birth control and getting blood every couple days. The doctor told me all the eggs worked out and we had 29 embroyos. It’s weird to think I could have 29 potential children just waiting.
I was scheduled St. Patricks day to go in and have one lucky embroyo placed. This procedure is much easier and quicker and only requires you having a very full bladder and only about 4 people looking at your crotch. We were given Luca’s first photo. A thousand timed zoom of an embroyo that I held on to dearly. 
We went to get a blood test two weeks later to confirm everything worked, but I of course took a test myself 7 days later so already knew. I had to get blood again every few days to confirm that the hormones were increasing.
I couldn’t imagine a more exciting and terrifying moment. It was so exciting that everything worked and we finally are  able to start again working toward a family, but this time  around we were no longer naive to everything. We knew  things could change at any moment and I felt unlucky like  there was a good chance they could. Especially when the adoption situation didn’t work out, I started to feel like maybe we were meant to have living children. What an awful thing to think and feeling right? Not something a lot of people think when trying to start a family.
We were able to make it the entire 9 months of Luca without telling anyone besides our immediate family and my work. We were given more doctor’s appointments and specialized ultrasounds and towards the end Non Stress Tests twice a week. We also bought a doppler to listen to his heartbeat ourselves, which was terrifying at first when it was harder to find, but ended up helping in dire times.
You would think listed on every record of mine there would be a big alert “LAST CHILD DIED” but that wasn’t usually the case. I had many times people ask if this was our first or mention other things that you think would be more sensitive to someone whose gone through what we have.
I made it appoint as time went on to be very upfront that this isn’t my first rodeo of pregnancy. I know how it goes and I know the worst of it. And I’ll expect the worst of it, so if someone could hold my hand the entire time that would be great. 
We found out somewhere around 24-28 weeks that I had an velamentous cord insertion. Hearing that anything was different was even more scary. The specialist said this is common and no precautions are needed, but it was one more thing to worry about. It basically means that the umbilical cord goes into the membranes first and not the placenta directly so the vessels are unprotected. Just means he could have laid on the vessels and restricted them, NO BIG DEAL.
I had a scheduled induction that I was able to get done at 38 weeks. Those last few weeks were the worst of all. I made sure to ask at every ultrasound where the umbilical cord was, was it in a safe spot? Was it by his neck? At this time last time everything was great and Reagan still died. There never felt like a safe time.
We drove to the hospital November 20th the same way we did June 6th, 2016. Except this time we were more scared. I got hooked up to the machines the same way I did then and held my breath until I heard a heartbeat. I didn’t feel like I was in the clear until I could see him. It didn’t help that he continued to move and the monitors needed to be placed again continuously. I was less drugged this time, but felt even more in a daze that this was happening. He came out the way any alive baby does.. screaming. I was in shock. I didn’t believe any of this was happening. Keith kept telling me we did it, he was here.
Our rainbow baby Luca was born alive November 21st at 12:14am
“A “rainbow baby” is a baby that is born following a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or infant loss.In the real world, a beautiful and bright rainbow follows a storm and gives hope of things getting better.”
Babe In My Arms, Blogs

Anxiety’s Long Road

August 3, 2018

Written by: Marilena Kalfountzos

I never thought it could happen to me.

How could it when it just happened to my sister? And I already had a 15 month old little girl who was a perfect pregnancy. But it happened.

I was 10 weeks and I went to my first ultrasound. The doctor came in happily and asked me how I was feeling. I told her my morning sickness had slowed down and I had been feeling better.  

She started the ultrasound and from the second she put that thing on me… I knew. There was no heartbeat. She called my baby an “blighted ovum”. How awful is that? I was pregnant for 10 weeks. Loving my baby for 10 whole weeks. I made plans… I dreamed of him. I felt like he was a boy. And I was so sad and ashamed. I was ashamed that my body didn’t do what it was supposed to do. And I’m still sad and disappointed.

It took 7 months of trying so hard to get pregnant again. With the help of fertility drugs of course because when it rains it pours. So I was experiencing infertility issues. How? I had already been pregnant! And I had a little girl! 

And 7 months after the most devastating day of my life.. there it was. A positive pregnancy test. Very faint.. but it was there and it was the scariest day of my whole life. And instant anxiety began. It was so strong that some days I honestly thought I might die. I cried so much the days leading up to my first ultrasound because now I knew that a miscarriage doesn’t discriminate. So what that I’d already had one? So what that my sister and my cousin just had one too? You think it cares you got pregnant using fertility drugs? Nope. But we went to the appointment and I was terrified. When the doctor asked me this time how I was feeling.. I said I didn’t know. Even though morning sickness had hit me full force, it didn’t matter.

And there it was. A heartbeat. A growing baby that was only 8 weeks which was a week behind from what she had hoped for but it was just miscalculation of my ovulation date. Thank god. My ultrasound was instant relief until I got home and realized that I can still lose this baby. So my anxiety continued from one appointment to the next… until 15 weeks when I found out that I had an anterior placenta that blocks most of your baby’s movement as they grow. Ha! I did feel flutters early on and it was so beautiful. But after about 20 weeks I had to work so hard to feel anything… and my anxiety reached the roof at that point. How was I going to get through this for 20 more weeks???

But I did. With the help of my fabulous nurses at the hospital and my weekly NSTs (non stress test) I did it.

And he finally came.. After 3 1/2 hours of labor and right on his due date. I have never felt such relief in my whole life. He was finally here after so long of waiting for him. I felt like I had known him for ages. He was so beautiful and he was everything I had wished for. He was healthy and he was here.

I hoped that my anxiety would end there but postpartum depression and anxiety hit me hard. And I was so scared of losing him.

My rainbow is 5 months now. Healthy, happy and mine. I have never felt so much love and appreciation for my children. And blessed that I they’re even here. I never understood how difficult it could be for people to get pregnant or even carry a pregnancy to term until I had to go through it myself.


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