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His Plans Are Better

August 2, 2020

Written by Rachel Roth, Guest Blogger

As a birthday present, I once sent my husband on a trip without telling him the destination. I set up his GPS, put envelopes with instructions in the glove compartment and sent him on his way to see a professional soccer game with a friend. He would tell me later that he had NO idea where he was headed until he got closer to the destination. He kept trying to guess what was going to happen throughout the day and who he would meet.

It is not all that different from our journey to growing our family. We thought we knew where we were headed only to end up somewhere completely different. 

Since it has been 2 years since my last WTF post, here is a quick recap: my husband and I went through 4 years of infertility that included 8 IUIs and IVFs, 2 miscarriages, and no babies. We stopped fertility treatments and partnered with an adoption agency to pursue a domestic infant adoption. 12 hours after committing, we found out we were pregnant naturally with our son, Ben. As of my last post, we were waiting to be chosen by a birth family. 

You might assume that this post is going to talk about how we finally got chosen by a birth mom and the adoption process, but you would be wrong. We were never chosen and never adopted. So what happened? In the fall and winter of 2018, a few months after my last post, my husband and I began to feel as if the adoption agency we had partnered with was not the right fit for us anymore. We were not thrilled with how things were being managed and decided to part ways with them in January 2019. 

Around that time, we met with a coordinator for CYS (Children and Youth Services) in a neighboring county. A couple from our church had adopted two daughters from foster care in that county. We had not originally considered fostering to adopt because when my husband and I initially discussed adoption in 2015, we were childless after 4 years of infertility. We worried that after years of enduring heartache after heartache, it might be too difficult for us to handle the uncertainty of foster care. Honestly? We were scared. After we had Ben, we moved into a bigger house that happened to be within ONE MILE of where we had to live to foster with the neighboring county. We researched, prayed, discussed and ultimately decided to move forward with fostering to adopt.  

In May 2019, just 3 weeks after getting licensed to be foster parents, we got a phone call that changed our lives.

“There’s a baby girl getting discharged from the NICU. Do you want her?”

My heart raced and I told the woman who called that I would have to speak to my husband. When I called him, I had one hesitation about saying yes: two weeks earlier, I found out I was pregnant again.

On the surface, this may not seem like it should cause hesitation. Isn’t that an exciting and happy thing? To be pregnant AND get a call about a baby in need? Yes, absolutely! However, it is important to know the complexity of our situation. 

Before the phone call in May 2019, I had two more miscarriages in August 2018 and April 2019.  So when I got the phone call about Baby Girl needing a home while I was 6 weeks pregnant, I was terrified. This was pregnancy #6. I had JUST miscarried pregnancy #5 a month prior. Only 1 of my 5 previous pregnancies had resulted in a live birth. I had no idea if pregnancy #6 was viable. Could I really say yes to a foster child while pregnant and worried about miscarrying? Would I be able to give the foster child the attention and love she deserved? Doubts and questions swarmed in the 10 seconds it took me to hang up and call my husband to get his take. 

His answer was immediate and succinct: “We wanted children. There is no WAY we’re saying no.”

6 hours after the phone call, our 2.5 year old son got to hold his 2.5 month old foster sister and my heart melted. As I watched his smile bloom at this precious child in his arms that he had only known for a few hours, I knew Baby Girl was where she belonged. 

6 weeks later, I was in the Gynecologist’s office waiting to get news of my pregnancy. I had not miscarried yet, but the odds were not in our favor. The nurse got the ultrasound set up and searched for the baby. After a minute of searching, I heard the most beautiful sound in the world: the heartbeat of our unborn child. I immediately burst into happy tears. 

The next few months were crazy and passed with a blur. It was filled with twice a week visitation for Baby Girl with her birth parents, doctor appointments for baby #3, four hearings, and keeping up with my rambunctious toddler. 

In January 2020, Jacob Thomas was born, 10 months after his foster sister. We picked the middle name Thomas, not just because it is a family surname on my side, but also because it means “twin.” Two siblings that are less than a year apart are often referred to as “Irish twins.” We wanted Jacob to have a tie to his foster sister, no matter what happens. 

It has been nearly 6 months since Jacob was born and over a year since Baby Girl came to our family. We have not adopted her yet, as her birth parent’s rights have not been terminated.  However, her case has moved to the adoption unit at CYS, which means the county is moving forward with terminating parental rights. Baby Girl’s story is a tremendous one all on its own, so be on the lookout for another post detailing the whole process!

We know we are truly blessed by our three children. The pain and sorrow of infertility never truly goes away, but the rough edges are softened by gratefulness. Each child is a miracle in their own way. Both our sons are double rainbow babies (born after two miscarriages) and basically medical miracles for being conceived naturally when given less than a 1% chance of that happening. Baby girl was born at 27 weeks weighing a mere 2 pounds. Today, all three are happy, completely healthy, and they remind me daily that my plans are not His plans and that is perfect because His plans are BETTER. 

If you’d like to connect with Rachel, you can find her on Instagram, or check out her website!

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Hope Became My Rainbow

July 20, 2020

Written by Agnes Mattson, Guest Blogger

Someone once told me that my life would be very rewarding and happy. My life was anything but that the last 4 years.

You see, my husband and I were like every married couple- you get married, travel, get the house and start a family. Easy right? Wrong! The first years of our married life tested us in so many ways where the word hope was on repeat and slowly started to fizzle away.

We started family planning and after 6 months of nothing, I went to my doctor who suggested seeing a specialist and getting some tests done. This is what started the long dark road to infertility treatments.

At first, the doctor had me do IUIs because that’s a cheaper way to start. After doing 5 without any results, I was done and ready to move onto IVF. But wait. My doctor noticed I had endometriosis (which I always had a feeling I had just never properly diagnosed) and suggested surgery to remove it and up my chances of getting pregnant. So in 2017, I went in for the laparoscopic surgery and had my stage 1 endometriosis removed. I was in pain, relieved and “hopeful” that our IVF was going to work.

Once I went back a few months after the surgery, my doctor noticed some polyps on my uterine lining that should be removed…so again another laparoscopic surgery. I was determined to get this done and move forward.

When I started my first round of IVF, I was so happy that 15 eggs were retrieved but was told only one ovary produced the amount and the other side failed. Failure would stick with me. I moved on to see if any embryos would make it and was told none of them made it. I was devastated. I thought my eggs were old, I’m done, it’s not going to happen. All this work for nothing. I was 34 at the time.

At the same time, my husband was switching jobs and this meant different insurance, and a new doctor. I didn’t want to start over, but decided maybe a new doctor would have some answers. When I met my current doctor, she immediately noticed what went wrong from my previous treatments and motivated me to do another round of IVF and be more aggressive. Thankfully, we were able to do the genetic testing on the embryos and the long awaited mystery of why I couldn’t conceive was FINALLY discovered.

When my doctor got the results back, there were some red flags with 6 of the embryos in the genetic makeup in the same area. She suggested we speak with a genetic counselor and get chromosome tested. No one ever thought this or mentioned it. Another 3 weeks after the frozen embryo testing we discovered I have what is known as unbalanced translocation- which means my chromosome at certain parts cause infertility and miscarriage. I was so crushed. I am an only child and my moms side only had only children or miscarriage but no one talked about it.

I asked my doctor if she treated anyone with this genetic condition and she said no. Great. I felt like was never going to get pregnant. We transferred an embryo that was healthy and waited. I was so scared and nervous.

I had started bleeding which was known as Subchorionic hemorrhage. I was afraid I’d lose my baby. Well at 8 weeks I did. Right after telling our family. This just broke me. I couldn’t bear the thought of doing this again. And the worst part was having to see my doctor the day after my loss when I was so broken. She was so compassionate and hugged me and told me “we’re going to try again and figure this out”.

At that point I needed a break. I waited a few months-my husband and I went on vacation and relaxed. I mentally didn’t think I could do it. My 3rd round of IVF after 23 eggs were retrieved and 5 embryos resulted with 2 being normal, we decided to transfer both. This was it. All or nothing.

This time I was super cautious. You see – that’s what IVF and miscarriage does to you – robs you the joy of being happy and excited during pregnancy. Everyday you’re terrified you’ll lose this baby. And well at 8 weeks again, I lost one of the twins – known as vanishing twin syndrome. I cried. When you see the technician leave the room quietly- I already knew. However this time the doctor came in and said I had one strong embryo- let’s see what happens. And my, this little one was strong. I had another subchorionic hemorrhage and was so worried I’d lose this baby.

When I transferred to my OBGYN, I felt normal and a part of the women who conceived naturally. I was so excited to have a stomach ultrasound! My doctor calmed my fears. She went through IVF and said it’s all mentally in your head- trust your body. And that I did. All the pain, heartache, loses and suffering only made my role as a mom stronger. This little embryo never gave up and I knew I couldn’t either.

My son was born Feb. 24th at a healthy 8lbs. 8oz. At 8:08am. He is our lucky miracle. I look at my sweet boy and when I see his smile or hear his giggles , I know it was worth it. Hope which was the word I hated, had become my rainbow. Just when you’re about to give up, push harder and find those answers. You are destined to be a mother however that may be.

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

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Double Rainbows

July 15, 2020

Written by Caiti Pidd, Guest Blogger

My husband, Phil, and I met after our senior year of high school.  It was my 18th birthday and Phil was in town visiting a friend.  He walked into the room and I immediately felt a connection. Cheesy, right?  Fast forward through college, breaking up a few times due to distance and then deciding to stay friends, I moved out to Utah and decided to pursue the relationship I always wanted (and live in the same state).  A year and a few months after I moved, Phil proposed in August of 2016.  We got married in September of 2017.

We had a few months we needed to put off starting our family due to some travel plans we had in 2018.  When January of 2018 rolled around I said “Okay, you ready?” 
I stupidly assumed that we would get pregnant right away. A few months passed and I actually remember crying in March when I got my period. 
In April I got pregnant. Getting pregnant was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me. In a matter of 6 weeks we went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. It’s crazy to think how much you can love a little blueberry sized group of cells so much.

I was constantly checking pregnancy apps to see what the fetus was doing everyday. How he was growing? What was she up to in there? We were committed to not finding out the sex of our little blueberry because all we were hoping for was a healthy baby.

I was on Pinterest whenever I had a break at work. I had a board titled “Future babies” and was constantly looking for cute, gender neutral nurseries. “Is our baby going to be having a modern, geometric, minimalist nursery, or a safari theme?” “Should we paint the walls Light French Gray or Sea Salt?” “Can baby Bracken grow into this kind of room?” “Is black baby furniture too much?”

I was so looking forward to telling friends and family about our news. I was also looking forward to putting a stop to all of those annoying people, who had the best intentions, that were constantly asking “When are you guys going to have a baby?” “Well, random coworker, since you asked, we are expecting! Now please go bother another newlywed about his or her family planning.”

The highs of early pregnancy came to a halt when I saw blood one afternoon. My doctor ordered blood work. My hcg levels were high but my progesterone was alarmingly low. I knew this was it.

I went in the following day for an ultrasound and I was supposed to be 8 weeks 5 days along, and believe me, I was tracking everything. I KNEW how far along I was supposed to be. The baby, the fetus, my blueberry was only measuring 6 weeks 2 days. The ultrasound tech tried to assure me that some people miscalculate their ovulation, but I knew I had not miscalculated. Everything about this pregnancy was calculated. Everything. They couldn’t tell by the ultrasound if I was miscarrying or just was not quite far along as I thought I was. 

I patiently waited for calls from my doctor’s office to update me on what the next step was but no one was responsive. It felt like I meant nothing to them and that this little blueberry meant nothing to them either. I felt completely lost.

I knew in a clinical sense that there was something probably wrong with the fetus; probably a chromosomal issue or defect. I knew this was mother nature’s way of making it so we didn’t have to face making a hard decision. You can try to tell yourself that this is natural selection, but your heart and your head don’t always communicate.

Around 4 pm on a Friday, I felt horrible. The pain came on suddenly. It was like the worst menstrual cramps I’d ever had multiplied by 1000. I rushed home knowing this was the real beginning of the miscarriage process. I felt like I was going to die. The traffic was outrageous and I cursed other cars that were in my way. I just needed to get home. This was a pain I had never felt before. I called Phil and was sobbing. He begged me to pullover so he could pick me up. I couldn’t. I couldn’t bare the thought of waiting. I needed to be home.

When I finally got home, I rushed to the bathroom. I won’t get into the details, but I could confirm I was miscarrying. Part of me felt relief that this was finally starting. I kept telling Phil I just wanted things to move along so we could move forward. I just wanted to put this horrible thing behind us.

Most of that weekend I spent crying on our couch or in my bed.  I just wanted to be in a dark room by myself.  I would sometimes spend hours just looking at the wall and wondering if I would ever feel happy again. 
Weeks after my miscarriage, I thought back to the daydreams I had of my future child. It now felt stupid, or maybe “naive” is the right word? I thought about the joy I had telling my sister. I thought about how I had double checked with my dentist that I could get an X-ray when the baby was technically no longer alive. I thought about when I mentioned to my hairstylist that I was pregnant just to make sure that highlights were okay. I felt almost ashamed thinking about these memories.

My whole adult life I knew I wanted to be a mother when the time was right. You make this huge decision to stop preventing pregnancy and you figure it will happen that month and then 9 months later you’ll be greeted with your healthy baby. 

As I slowly started to open up to friends about my miscarriage, the more common I found it was. Almost every person I spoke to mentioned that their mom, or their sister, or they themselves experienced a miscarriage. It’s this odd loss that people feel uncomfortable talking about, so most of the time, they don’t bring it up to you again. They are either not sure if it will make you too sad, they feel like this wasn’t really a loss, or because they aren’t sure what to feel.

I had made the decision after I got my last period at the end of July that I wanted to “stop trying.” I wanted to stop checking my basal temperature. I wanted to stop checking opks. I wanted to stop making sex an experiment. I told Phil that I wanted to stop adding the unnecessary stress to our lives and just see what happens… and look what happened? I got pregnant!

2 months after our miscarriage, I became pregnant again. I was excited, but so, so scared. I was so afraid we would go through this again.

I got a fancy, digital pregnancy test. I could’ve peed and then occupied my mind for 3 minutes, but I didn’t. I stared at the digital face ticking time away… Finally, it revealed one word. One. Glorious. Word. “Pregnant.”

This time around, I felt different. I had more symptoms of pregnancy, although I never let myself get too excited. I was worried I’d jinx it.
Our OB set up an appointment for us to get an ultrasound at 7 weeks just to make sure everything was looking good.
The ultrasonographer kept looking at the screen, almost puzzled.  Due to the angle of the screen, I couldn’t see anything.  “Oh no, I knew this would happen again,” I thought to myself. 
After what felt like an eternity, he moved the screen so I could see what he was looking at.
“Ok, guys… here’s baby A,” he said. “Why did he call it ‘A’?” I thought.”And here’s Baby B.”
I just looked confused and said “What?”
“You’re having twins!” 

Phil and I both laughed.  Phil went ghostly white and then I started to cry.  I have never been so overwhelmed and yet so happy in my whole life.  It took Phil a few weeks to get over the shock of two babies, but he was the most supportive partner in the world.
For a twin pregnancy, my pregnancy was really smooth, although I never allowed myself to really feel happy.  
I knew I wouldn’t feel relieved until I was holding them both in my arms. 
I delivered my beautiful double rainbows at 37 weeks and they were perfect.  No NICU time and both extremely healthy.

 To every mama that is pregnant with her rainbow baby (babies), I understand your fear.  I understand your resistance to fully bond with your baby.  I understand that every OB appointment is scary because you’re expecting bad news.  I understand that you spend more time holding your belly and begging your baby to move.  I will tell you though, there is happiness that happens after pregnancy loss. 

There are rainbows after the storm.  

If you’d like to connect with Caiti, you can find her on Instagram or her website!

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4 Ways I Managed My Post-Partum Depression

June 30, 2020

Written by Patricia Monson, Guest Blogger

Post-partum depression is something that’s hard to understand if you haven’t experienced it yourself. During my pregnancy, I understood that it existed, but didn’t think it would ever happen to me. 

How wrong I was. Post-partum depression hit hard, and I was left wondering how on earth I was going to manage my mental health while caring for the newborn I loved so much. It was a tough process, but I found that the following 4 things were key in managing my depression. 

Become Familiar With Your Symptoms & Triggers

Many moms confuse the symptoms of post-partum depression (PPD) with the side effects of parenting a newborn. Fatigue caused by sleepless nights might cause you to feel overwhelmed or cry during the day, but it might also be a sign of depression. 

Get to know the common symptoms of PPD so that you and your loved ones can learn to spot them in your own life. You should also keep an eye out for triggers that might cause symptoms or make them worse. I found that my most telling symptom was a loss of appetite, which then led to guilt about how I wasn’t getting the nutrition I needed to feed my daughter. 

Blend Lifestyle Remedies with Professional Help 

PPD isn’t something you should ignore. It can be a very serious problem and will make your first months as a parent extremely difficult. 

I found that the best way to manage my PPD was to combine lifestyle changes and awareness of my symptoms with professional help. Please do not hesitate to seek help from a qualified therapist if you are experiencing depression as a new mother! You may benefit from talk therapy or medication. 

Find Out What Treatments Work For You

Everyone’s PPD experience is different. You might find that you have physical symptoms like headaches (I did!) that go along with irritability, guilt, anxiety, and overwhelm. 

It’s important to take some time to figure out some treatment options and try them out. If they don’t work right away, don’t get discouraged. You just need to experiment and find what works for you. 

Find Support Groups – Personal or Online 

From my experience, I know just how alone post-partum depression can make you feel. By connecting with other moms who have been there, you can get advice and support when you need them. There are lots of support groups out there, whether on the web or in your local area. Don’t be afraid to reach out so you can share stories and ask questions.  

Moms who are struggling: I see you. I know you have your own personal journey for dealing with post-partum depression, but I hope that what I’ve learned will help you.

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To the Momma Hurting this Mother’s Day

May 8, 2020

Written by Ginny Helmer, Guest Blogger

To the momma with empty arms,

As I’m sitting here writing this, I’m almost 36 weeks pregnant with our miracle child. Our precious and oh-so-prayed-for rainbow baby boy.

Yes, rainbow. Yes, miracle.

For almost 2 years, my husband and I suffered through infertility. Our reproductive endocrinologist gave us a less than 5% chance of ever being able to conceive on our own. Therefore, I remember Mothers Day 2018 so very well. It was my first Mother’s Day as a married woman, but also my first Mothers Day longing for a child that had not come. It was really, really hard. I felt so alone.

So, when we finally got our two pink lines almost a year later, we couldn’t stop rejoicing. Therefore, I remember Mothers Day 2019 as my first one as a mom. I was almost 9 weeks along and I was on cloud nine the entire day. I dreamed about what it would be like next Mother’s Day when my baby I was currently carrying would be here in my arms.

But just a few weeks later, even after hearing a strong heartbeat at 8 weeks, our baby died and I subsequently and traumatically miscarried at 12 weeks pregnant. Suddenly, I no longer wanted the flowers I had received as gifts for my first Mothers Day and threw them all away. I no longer felt like a mom at all. I no longer saw myself as someone worth celebrating. I was so broken and so hurt. There is no pain that can ever equal to the pain of losing a child.

Now, even though I know how blessed I am that this Mother’s Day is the greatest one yet for my husband and I, I am hurting.

I hurt for the momma who is missing her baby/babies who never made it earthside. She feels so confused. She is a mom, but her arms remain empty this Mother’s Day.

I hurt for the momma whose embryos didn’t stick, or whose IUI didn’t take. She spent so much money for a shot at achieving her dream. She is broken this Mother’s Day, and maybe questioning if she’ll ever get the chance to truly be a momma.

I hurt for the momma who has been trying to conceive for such a long time. She wants to be a mom so much it hurts her so deeply. She just keeps getting negative results, and no one can tell her why…at least not yet.

I hurt for the momma who just found out someone, or maybe more than just one someone, in her life is expecting. She wants to be happy for them and she puts on a smile and tries her best to do so, but when she gets home she is devastated and the tears won’t stop coming. She wonders, “why can’t it just be my turn?”

I hurt for the momma who has a little kid or two already, but is longing to complete her family. She is so confused on how she should feel. She is so thankful for the little ones she does have, but heartbroken that she’s not been able to conceive again. Maybe she doesn’t think her pain is valid.
I hurt for the momma who just got told her levels didn’t rise.

I hurt for the momma that just got told that there is no longer a heartbeat.
I hurt for the momma who doesn’t even get the choice to really try for who knows how long, due to COVID-19.
I hurt for the momma who woke up to a new cycle starting and is facing great disappointment.
I hurt for the momma who is overcoming her fear of needles and injecting herself with medications day and night to hopefully bring herself closer to a baby.
I hurt for the momma who feels like she is the only one in the world who is going through this.
I hurt for the momma who is suffering harsh side effects from her fertility medications and hoping and praying that they will work.
I hurt for the momma who just got her infertility diagnosis and is so confused on where to even go from here.
I hurt for the momma whose friend or family member made a comment or two that pierced so deep, yet she tries with all of her might to have grace, knowing they just don’t understand.
I hurt for the momma who can’t walk by the baby section without tears filling their eyes.
I hurt for the momma whose adoption fell through.
I hurt for the momma who was just told she has no chance of ever conceiving a child.
I hurt for the momma who is waiting on foster placements.
I hurt for the momma who feels like she’s letting everyone around her down. She wonders why her body is failing her. Did she do something wrong? Is this her fault?

I hurt for the mommas who don’t feel that they are worthy enough to be loved, celebrated, or remembered this Mother’s Day.

So, to the momma with empty arms, I want you to know this:
If you are struggling through infertility or miscarriage this Mother’s Day, know that you are seen. Know that you are important. Know that your worth is not and never will be defined by your ability to have children. Know that you are not alone. Know that you can reach out. Know that you can talk about it. Know that you are brave. Know that you are strong! Know that you have so much courage. Know that your baby’s life matters. Know that you ARE A MOM even though your baby isn’t with you today. Know that you are still just as much a momma even if you don’t feel like one and your arms are empty.

Momma, cry if you need to. Scream. Punch a punching bag. Feel the pain, the hurt, the confusion. Deactivate social media. Vent. Bake. Eat ice cream. Drink wine. Binge Netflix. Watch a movie. Skip the family gathering if you need to. Protect yourself. Love on yourself. Take care of yourself. These things that you feel – they are VALID. It’s okay to cope and heal the way that you need to.

I hope you know how amazing you are and I pray that your time is coming, babe. Until then, keep fighting. Don’t give up. Hold up your head and lean into your support system. One day at a time.

You got this, momma. And know that I am cheering you on!

If you’d like to connect with Ginny, you can find her over on Facebook or Instagram.

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Be Kind to Yourself

May 6, 2020

Written by Lauren Hudson, Guest Blogger

I was diagnosed with Asherman’s Syndrome (Scarring inside the uterus) at 20 years of age a year after I had my first son. I had retained placenta, become infected and hemorrhaged during a D&C procedure and also when I woke in recovery, resulting in my diagnosis. This was the beginning.

Immediately my dreams of a big family were squashed but never in a million years would I have guessed that this would happen to me. That I would struggle to conceive and carry a baby to term. I didn’t even know anyone who had been through anything similar. At the time, this was something not spoken about in the circles I was a part of.  I thought, I was young, healthy. Surely I’d be fine!

I had a 7 year battle with secondary infertility – 10 surgeries, 5 miscarriages and countless appointments with specialists that were based 2 hours away from where I live. Including 3 trips to Sydney which is interstate for me, for 3 separate surgeries.  I also heartbreakingly lost my daughter half way through the pregnancy when I was 25 years old due to premature labour at the 5 year mark in my fertility fight. When I fell pregnant with her I thought it was all over. I thought I had done it and could do away with everything I’d been through once she was in my arms. But like most things when you’re dealing with infertility, that didn’t eventuate. I left the hospital after the most harrowing few days of my life, with my deflated belly; empty handed, planning a funeral for my daughter.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve seen the change in generations – with women opening up and sharing their stories and with the help of social media just how many women are fighting this same battle. Something that would have helped a much younger me as I felt extremely alone in this and like I couldn’t talk about it, particularly in the early days. I’ve since learnt infertility doesn’t discriminate. 

As my journey went deeper and deeper over the years – so too, did the financial strain on my partner and I. And as my mental health declined, I was also hit with waves of grief.  The miscarriages, the surgeries, my daughter and every single time I’d get another negative pregnancy test. Add in those damn hormones and you have a cocktail of depression and anxiety and a very mentally unhealthy girl, who would constantly be looking for ways to escape her reality (Thank you Netflix and chocolate!) while parenting her school aged son at this point.

I am now on the other side of things with 2 sons – my second son was born at the end of the 7 years and so was a new me. Let me tell you pregnancy and birth after loss is one of the hardest things I’ve been through. There is joy and hope but there is also incredible worry. The guilt was unbearable and also unwarranted, but it crept up on me anyway.

I am exceedingly grateful for the children I have and my heart has never been so full, even though parts of it will never fully recover and live with the children I’ve lost. 

And while that chapter of my life has come to a close – I write this with such compassion and gentleness towards those who are still in the midst of the most heart breaking fight – I am still affected by it. I still have days where my heart hurts and things that have challenged me, like a deep sense of loss on Mother’s day. What would my daughter have been like? How would I have been as a Mother to a Daughter? What about the 5 before her? Who were they? It’s a tough thing to navigate and I’m still finding my footing.

To those wishing to become Mother’s, to the Mother’s with babies in their hearts or in their arms now too – Be kind to yourself, especially on Mother’s Day. Do whatever you need to do to get through the day. There is no right or wrong way to deal with what you’re going through and there is no time limit on grief. There is 1 in 8 of us that are in this battle. That means there is an army of fertility warriors just like you who feel the same. You are not alone, we are in this together.

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IVF a Pandemic and Me

April 21, 2020

Written by Laura Behnke, Guest Blogger

Don’t worry, if it’s meant to be it will be.

I absolutely hate that comment.  And I have heard it a lot lately.  Ever since I went public with the very true reality that because of a global pandemic I may never be a mother.

If it’s meant to be it will be.

So, does that mean there is a possibility I’m not supposed to have a child?  Because I simply don’t accept that.

However, what I am being forced to accept is that this entire process is now more completely out of my control than ever before.  And we have COVID-19 to thank.

But we are not alone.  Within the last several weeks women all over the country have had their IVF cycles cancelled or postponed.  Many others have had their implantations put on hold. And all of us now share yet another common bond that no one ever wanted.

Not only do we need help to conceive but now that help has been taken away.  Indefinitely.

If all had gone according to plan, I would have begun my first round of IVF on March 17th.  But on March 16th our clinic in New York City halted all new cycles until further notice.  If a woman had already begun her cycle she could continue, but the rest of us were forced into a wait-and-see purgatory.

And we had already been waiting.  Planning for IVF can feel like a full time job and we spent months setting the wheels in motion.  We began our journey in December and have spent the last two and a half months actively preparing for that mid-March start.  Then, just like that, it’s over. The opportunity vanishing into thin air. The plans seemingly all for nothing.

Now, let me be clear, we understand why this has happened.  We’re in the midst of a global pandemic and hospitals need all available resources diverted toward keeping people alive.  We would never want our attempt to begin a life to potentially mean someone else loses theirs.

But while the rational side of me totally gets it, the rest of me is floundering—lost, frightened and angry.  Completely and totally angry.  

I find myself breaking down almost daily.  My attention span is short as I get work done in spurts before my mind wanders and I feel the despair sneak in.  We have absolutely zero control over something that will affect the rest of our lives. And that is terrifying.

As if knowing you have to rely on IVF to get pregnant isn’t stressful and difficult enough.  Now that option isn’t even available.

And this isn’t just about infertility.  Yes, most people turning to IVF have been unable to conceive naturally.  Many have spent years on this infertility roller coaster where the emotional toll is steep.

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Then there are those like us—those who turn to IVF as the only option that gives them a shot at having a healthy baby.  Thankfully genetic testing can be a part of the IVF process, and for us it was the reason we began this journey.

My husband, Marc has an extremely rare genetic condition and a 50% chance of passing it on to a child.  The condition is potentially devastating and could mean a baby would not survive infancy. While there is a 50% chance we could naturally conceive a child that does not have this condition (assuming we do not have other fertility challenges), it’s a risk we aren’t willing to take.

And to make matters even more complicated, I am 40.  And recent blood work has shown my egg reserve may not be all that plentiful.  

So, while the IVF cycles will resume at some point, we can’t help but wonder if it will be too late for us.  Because for every month that goes by my chances of producing enough eggs to make this whole thing work decreases more and more.

Look, we all know the IVF process is a luxury.  Not only because of its steep price tag but also because this amazing and complex medical procedure actually exists.  If it were up to nature, our parental fate would already be sealed.

But this beautiful option does exist.  It is available. It has changed the lives of countless people and their families.  And it could change ours. But only if we are able to access it. Just knowing we may run out of time is heavy and raw and sometimes knocks me off my feet.

Because if we end up never having a child, I want it to be because all of the options did not work.  I do not want it to be because we were never allowed to even try.

And yet, because of a global pandemic I may never be a mother.

I believe we are meant to be parents.

So, for now we wait.

If you’d like to connect with Laura, you can find her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or her website!

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

Nourishing Hope

March 30, 2020

Written by Consumer Advocates, Guest Blogger

As closely as we watch our bodies while trying to conceive—from tracking our cycles to charting our temperatures to studying our cervical changes—it’s amazing how many women experiencing infertility are still surprised when they get pregnant. But preparing to be pregnant is actually part of the job of trying to get pregnant. That’s why the medical community recommends both women and men pay close attention to nutrition as they’re trying to conceive.

Some scientific findings on the link between nutrition and fertility might contradict your long-held beliefs about healthy eating. Nutritionists across the board advise us that using low-fat dairy products can help you manage your weight and contribute to heart health. But a recent study indicated that women who are trying to conceive can actually benefit from consuming full-fat dairy products. You may have heard that substituting soy protein for animal protein is also good for the heart. But eating too much soy can lower your partner’s sperm count. Can I get a big yay for ice cream and filet Mignon?

One of the smartest nutritional moves you can make is to start taking prenatal vitamins before you get pregnant. While prenatal vitamins haven’t been proven to increase fertility, they will help ensure the health of your baby once you do conceive.

The best prenatal vitamins combine four key nutrients: folic acid, which is a B vitamin, iron, calcium, and vitamin D. Doctors typically recommend you start taking these vitamins at least a month before becoming pregnant. So if you’re trying to conceive, today is the day to start.

What makes these particular nutrients so special? Let’s take a look at how each contributes to your baby’s development during pregnancy.

Folic acid is essential to your baby’s developing brain, spinal cord, and spine. Studies have shown it reduces the incidence of incurable and usually fatal neural tube defects like anencephaly and spina bifida. You may have heard that you can increase your intake of this nutrient by choosing foods high in folate like broccoli and leafy greens more often. But the synthetic folic acid found in prenatal vitamins is absorbed by the body more effectively than the folate found in whole foods.  

Just as calcium helps keep your teeth and bones strong, it will also strengthen your baby’s.  Calcium also supports the development of a healthy heart and nervous system. Taking calcium has an added benefit for pregnant women. Consuming extra calcium has been demonstrated to prevent hypertension and preeclampsia during pregnancy, two contributors to preterm birth. Since your body diverts calcium from you to your baby, taking extra calcium is also essential to maintain bone health during pregnancy.

During pregnancy, your body creates extra blood (hemoglobin) to nourish and bring oxygen to your baby. It uses iron to do that. Consuming extra iron during pregnancy prevents you from anemic, which can not only make you more fatigued, but also contribute to low birth weight ad pre-term birth. If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, bear in mind that the iron found in plant-based food isn’t as bio-available as the iron found in meat and fish. So it’s even more important that you supplement your plant-based diet with synthetic iron. 

The most common source of Vitamin D is sunlight. It’s also found in Vitamin D-rich or Vitamin D- fortified foods like salmon, milk, and breakfast cereals. But Vitamin D deficiency is common and especially problematic for pregnant women. Without enough Vitamin D, you’re at higher risk for preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and pre-term birth.

So next time you stop at the pharmacy to pick up a pregnancy test, put some prenatal vitamins in your cart. Why not be prepared for the best?

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

We Are Not Incompetent

February 14, 2020

Written by Rebecca Paradis, Guest Blogger

Hi Friends,

My name is Becca. I’m an ER nurse living in Alaska with my husband, Aaron, and fur baby, Abby.  Aaron and I have been trying to conceive for a year now.  It’s been a year of dedicated cycle tracking, basil body temps, cervical symptoms, all the things.  Every month that goes by we become more settled into the idea that having a biological child may be a bit more of a challenge for us.  Next month we meet with my OB/GYN to begin fertility testing.  I’m a newbie to this whole world of infertility and in that short time I’ve learned that it can be a lonely, desperate, isolating place to be. 

Anyway, fun fact about me, I love podcasts.  I rarely even watch TV anymore (except December because of all the Christmas movies of course), but I always have a podcast on.  The other day I was listening to one of my favorites and the guest on the show was a young woman.  A leader in her industry and clearly very strong, both physically and mentally, she made a comment that I initially misunderstood.  I thought she said that women were being raised to feel incompetent, when in reality she said confident.  While the latter makes more sense, it was incompetence that really caught my attention.  Are we as females raised to feel incompetent?

How often when you’re scrolling through social media do you feel completely incompetent?  Didn’t get your workout in for day before you went to work, cleaned the house, made dinner, and paid the bills?  Well, you must be really lazy.  Despite all the things we manage to do in a single day, it is the one thing that we didn’t have time for or prioritize that we beat ourselves up on.  That one single item on the to do list makes us feel like failures and that’s how we judge ourselves.  I’ve always considered myself to be a strong, confident woman, not a whole lot really gets me down on myself.  Fertility though, well let’s just say it the first thing that has truly made me feel completely incompetent as a wife and a woman.

A friend pointed out to me the other day that in the recent past, a woman’s only purpose was to tend house and raise babies.  While we have moved past this as a society, I don’t think it has been long enough for the feeling of failure to evolve from our DNA if this isn’t possible.  Infertility shakes us to our core, it makes us feel the highest level of incompetence.  Despite everything I do to make my marriage work, I tell myself I have failed in the most important aspect in that I have been unable to carry a child that is a genetic mix of my husband and I.  Let me clarify that my husband in no way blames me for our infertility issues; he is supportive, caring, and open to ideas on how to grow our family.  We face this challenge together.  He hurts with me and shares my fears.  Still, I feel that I have failed him and our marriage. 

Maybe this is a call to arms, for myself and for all of you.  Enough is enough.  Biology cannot always be helped and while it is a heart-breaking reality, it doesn’t make any of us incompetent.  So, whether you missed your workout today, burned dinner, didn’t finish the laundry (Currently my mother’s dog is crashed out in a pile of clean laundry I have yet to put away, eh oh well…guess I’ll wash it again or maybe the husband will smell like a dog for a couple days), or cannot conceive a child biologically, let’s stop calling ourselves incompetent.  Every day we wake up and face the world, we stand up to our fears, and we conquer ever growing to do lists.  We are strong, we are smart, we are successful, and we are 100% competent.

If you enjoy my thoughts and can relate, feel free to head over to my blog where I share more of my running rambles and thoughts on this mess called life.  Join me at: or follow me on Instagram.  Better yet, let’s show the world how competent we truly are with #milestomotherhood because there really are many miles ahead of us, whether you are trying to enter motherhood or already in the trenches dealing with the daily challenges.  Stay strong all you competent ladies!



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

Infertility is Bigger than Babies

February 5, 2020

Written by Guest Contributor, Tiffany Johnston

Let’s talk a bit about the psychological warfare that is infertility.

For those that have been following our story with What The Fertility, we began sharing about our journey about 3 years ago. We experienced a large number of failed treatments, loss of hope and eventually a few miracles. Just over a year ago I shared that we were pregnant naturally via video on #nationalrainbowbabyday with all of our friends. It was a feeling I thought we would never experience! What caught me off guard was that I was equally as terrified as I had been with our infertility procedure babies.

I have spent more than my fair share of time in post partum depression counseling, dealing with onset OCD, anxiety and feelings of loss that no matter that time seem to be unshakable. I feel guilty that we have three beautiful boys and yet every time someone announces a pregnancy or a gender reveal I cry. I cry because I am jealous that they get to enjoy a natural experience and that they won’t be under a mountain of debt when their child is born. That instead they get to take that money and pay bills, travel or create the perfect nursery for their expected blessing, Five years later and not a single one of my kids bedrooms is styled or complete. 

I have even felt a sense of loss over the fact that my memories of conception do not entail a moment of passion and love, but rather recollections of shame and fear. I have memories of my husband being taken away to masturbate in isolation to provide the needed sperm sample, and personally having to experience the joy of being turkey basted over and over again after each failed transfer. It has taken me over five years to realize that all of these feelings of loss, shame and sadness are natural and very common. Let’s talk about why…

For those new to the infertility world I like to remind followers that the term infertility is generally defined as a condition of the reproductive system that inhibits or prevents conception after at least one year of unprotected sexual intercourse. To account for the natural decline of fertility with age, the time frame is reduced to six months for women 35 and older. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 12% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 have “difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term.”

I bring up the definition of infertility because I believe we must educate society because I recognize that it can be hard to fully grasp what infertility involves unless you’ve dealt with it personally. I also am guilty of being one of the many people that originally believed that infertility was all about the end game, a baby. I truly believed that if we could just get to that prize, the pain of infertility would fade away. But infertility is bigger than babies. I want you to hear what I am saying so let me repeat myself.  Infertility is bigger than the baby. It can affect our physical and mental health in insidious — and sometimes enduring — ways.

Some researchers argue argue that the definition of trauma should be expanded to include the psychological and emotional response to not only physical threats, but threats too deeply held expectations of life. To understand a bit better I want you to take a moment to think about the grief that occurred for you after the death of a loved one. The relationship you had with your loved one was probably clearly defined, and you have memories of that person to look back on. The loss is easily identified because of the relationship you formed and the feelings you experienced over the years, not only by you but by others who were aware of the death.

It’s likely that your friends and family expressed sympathy and gave you their condolences,  you may have taken time off work for bereavement and attended a ritual such as wake or funeral that helped to facilitate your grief. Your loss was likely recognized, acknowledged, validated and supported in a multitude of ways. Now I ask you to think about the losses associated with infertility. One of the most common forms of loss and grieving is that of the imagined or expected family, women with primary infertility, who do not have biological children, face the loss of the entire life stage of parenting.

What seems to be the hardest for people to grasp is that with infertility, feelings of loss can come from an absence of something that has never been rather than the absence of something that used to be. Reproductive trauma also stems from the fact that many people begin imagining their futures as parents long before they even dream of starting a family. For many people their reproductive stories started when as children, they heard things like, “Someday, when you have kids…”, we start imagining what our experiences will look like long before we reach the age of reproduction. This doesn’t even touch on the emotional trauma caused by all of the babies lost early on, still born and those families that experience recurring miscarriages. There is so much more loss in infertility than what we see and understand as a society. 

I want to tell you today that you don’t have to feel guilty for having emotions, your emotions are valid, worthy of discussion and that everything you are feeling is natural and perfectly normal!  It is common and normal to experience shock, grief, depression, anger, and frustration, as well as loss of self-esteem, self-confidence, and a sense of control over one’s destiny. Infertility changes how you see yourself and the world.

Somewhere along the journey, many of us stop feeling as though infertility is happening to us, but instead begin to believe that it is ingrained as a part of who we are. You become used to living in a constant state of fluctuating despair, loss and hope; that seems even worse during the dreaded two week wait and as many of us later learn it doesn’t just turn off when and if you get pregnant. For many of us it has never turned off, we experienced those feelings through each ultrasound, the birth and so on.

I now have a 5 year old and 3 year old that we got through infertility and an 11 month old that we were blessed with au natural and I am still trying to turn it off. Just last weekend my sister in law who is 20 years of age announced the gender of her surprise baby and I cried for over two hours, hysterically. Want to know what my counselor said? “ That’s okay Tiffany, your heart is battered and worn by your experiences and your feelings are YOURS. You do not need to feel guilty for not experiencing the emotions that are expected of you.”

More than anything I want you to read that again! Lock it in your emotional vault and hold tight to the validation that your emotions are valid whether you are 6 months into trying for a family or 5 years past your very first IUI. Other’s may not understand your feelings or understand how you can simultaneously love the children that you hold earth side at the same time as you mourn the loss of those that you never got to hold and the experiences you never got to have. Hold strong in the fact that you have a safe and understanding community here @whatthefertility who see and acknowledge all that you are experiencing.  

What The Fertility

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