Halloween and Infertility: It’s Haunting

Fall is my favorite time of the year. The trees are full of stunning colors, the air is crisp, and the sun is warm. Saying good-bye to summer is always difficult, but one of my favorite holidays is just around the corner – Halloween! I love the costumes, the tombstones, the candy, the spooky parties and the haunted hay rides.

The hard part about Halloween is a don’t have a small child at home to participate in all the fun. I am fortunate to have spent some childhood years with my stepdaughter. I have a couple of godchildren who keep me involved, and now my nephew, who will be two this year, is a complete joy. I am grateful to all of their parents for allowing me to go trick-or-treating with them over the years.

How do we survive Halloween?

Children imagine what they want to be, the schools have parades to attend, the neighborhood holds gatherings for fall festivals, parents post photos of  their kids in costume on social media and the weekends are spent at corn mazes, farms, and zoos. We certainly have the option of picking and choosing what we want to do. Carving a jack-o-latern is an annual tradition. My husband and I still get a pumpkin every year to carve – even if we do not have any small children at home.

Every year, I would carve pumpkins with my goddaughter and then with my stepdaughter. They are too old now – or that is what they tell me. My best friend and her kids always involve me with their halloween traditions. We have had matching costumes the past few years, and we take the kids out to get their candy. I am very grateful for her. I wish that everyone who is struggling can share those same memories with the people they love, even when they are heartbroken. Believe me, I had always imagined what my little baby would be for Halloween. I would have painted their little baby butt as a pumpkin. I would have carved a pumpkin for their little body to sit in. I would have found the most obnoxious costume to show them off in – I would have been the ultimate Halloween mom.

You don’t have to put yourself in a position where it breaks your heart. You are allowed to keep your porch light off, turn off social media, watch scary movies, buy your own candy – and eat the whole bag. Halloween is also a great opportunity for pregnancy announcements. I have seen pumpkin families, skeleton families and beautiful fall photos celebrating the happy news. If these announcements make you upset, I would recommend staying off social media during halloween week. I remember gathering my own ideas for these special moments. I never got my opportunity, but for others that are holding out hope – keep those ideas in your back pocket. Let’s face it – they are adorable.

You can embrace the moment, or you can protect your heart. If we lived in town, I would love to decorate my yard, hand out candy, and see all the kids in their costumes. It has taken me a few years to get to the this point. One year, we carved a dog paw in our jack-o-latern to represent our fur babies. Whether you are still trying to get pregnant, deciding if you are going to be child free, or going through loss – you are not alone.

Go get the biggest pumpkin in the pumpkin patch and carve it.

Happy Halloween.

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A Guide to Fertility Abbreviations and Acronyms

Hope: A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

I never expected to be doing homework and research while trying to start my family. While we were having no luck in getting pregnant, I would sit for hours and read blogs, articles, and books. We weren’t getting pregnant, I didn’t know why, and I needed to figure it out. The complex world of infertility has its own language. Why should we feel confused and overwhelmed while you are already struggling? Let this guide help you! Here is some of the most commonly used abbreviations in the trying to conceive (TTC) world:

BFP: Big Fat Positive. This was the word I was praying for my entire journey. I wanted and prayed for two pink lines on my pregnancy tests. The waiting game is horrible. Every cycle you wait for that BFP. You want that big thrill of exciting news. Pregnancy tests are expensive! go get that BFP and begin your baby journey. In our case, we always ended our cycles with a BFN. A big fat negative. BFN is never a good sign, but there is still hope for your BFP.

2WW: Two Week Wait. The awful, terrible, anxious 2WW. It takes about two weeks from implantation to hormone detection on a HPT (Home Pregnancy Test.) This is when you buy ten pregnancy tests and take one every single day until you get your BFP or your BFN. This can be a very stressful time as you await to discover if you are pregnant or not.

BD: Baby Dance. If you want to become PG (Pregnant) you must do the baby dance – getting busy between the sheets with your spouse. This is suppose to be the fun part! For those of you who feel like its a forced dance, and failure is the result, don’t give up on your DH (Dear Husband) or SO (Significant Other.)

AF: Aunt Flo. You do not want a visit from Aunt Flo when you are trying to get PG. That is your period. She comes once a month and isn’t welcome when you are TTC. I would be so excited to get into that second week of the 2ww, and I would also start spotting. The second that would appear, I knew my chances weren’t very good. I struggled with low progesterone, which would cause early spotting before Aunt Flow would show her ugly face. If you do become pregnant, your EDD (Estimated Due Date) can be determined by your LMP (Last Menstrual Period.)

DPO: Days Past Ovulation. This is used frequently when women are talking to one another about their cycles. We love to track our DPO because its a countdown to when we can pee on an HPT. I would love to read the earliest times women would get their BFP while tracking their DPO. I would always test the earliest I could, and keep testing daily after. I have seen photos of women keeping their pregnancy tests, writing what CD (Cycle Day) is on each test, keeping track. Even more so with an infertility journey.

hCG: Human chorionic gonadotropin. hCG is a hormone produced during pregnancy. A beta pregnancy test specifically looks for hCG. Levels of hCG increase steadily in the early stages of pregnancy. LH (luteinizing hormone) triggers ovulation, or the release of the eggs. P4 (progesterone hormone) is tested to determine: if ovulation has occurred, when ovulation occurred, if there has been a miscarriage, or if there has been an ectopic pregnancy. FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) is released by the brain to stimulate the ovarian follicles to grow and develop. E2 (estradiol) or your level of estrogen, is used to estimate how many eggs you will have for retrieval during your cycle. AMH (anti-mullerian hormone) is the best predictor of a woman’s ovarian reserve. Be your own advocate and get the AMH test! 

Are you memorizing all of this yet? Are you feeling overwhelmed? Do you have your notebook out? We still have more to go…

IUI: Intrauterine insemination. This is a low-tech fertility treatment that involves placing sperm inside a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization. HSG (hysterosalpingogram) determines the condition of the fallopian tubes and uterus by placing dye through the cervix into the uterus and fallopian tubes. IVF (in-vitro fertilization) is a method of assisted reproduction that involves combining an egg with sperm in a lab dish. The embryo is transferred into the woman’s uterus where it will hopefully implant. If all else fails, you can use a GC (gestational carrier.) A GC is used for women who are unable to carry their own child or for same-sex couples. A DE (donor egg) is needed for those who are unable to use their own eggs for conception, but can still carry a child in their uterus.

MF: Male factor infertility. Nearly 40% of infertility is related to male factor. This can occur from structural abnormalities, sperm production disorders, ejaculatory disturbances, and immunologic disorders. SA (semen analysis) is performed to tell the number of sperm that are present, whether they are normal, and how well they move. My husband had this test performed – do this right away to rule out any MF infertility.

SI: Secondary infertility. The inability to become pregnant following the birth of one or more biological children who were born without the aid of fertility treatment or medications.

RPL: Recurrent pregnancy loss. This is defined as two or more consecutive, spontaneous pregnancy losses before the pregnancies reach 20 weeks.

Have you taken it all in? I wish I had this handy guide when we were trying to get pregnant. Create a pocket guide for your purse. You can take it to the doctor’s office, the reproductive endocrinologist’s office, use it when the triage nurse calls you back, or take it out when you are researching your best TTC blog. You are spending a lot of time, a lot of money, and a lot of hope trying to figure out your reproductive system. Make it easier for you and your spouse!

Infertility and Celebrities

Hollywood has brought a platform to the subject of infertility. Celebrities struggle to become parents too. In the past year, I have noticed more celebrities speaking publicly about the topic and opening up with honesty about their own personal struggles. I have seen stories of adoption, IVF, IUI, miscarriage and surrogacy. Here are 5 celebrities that have used their star status to expose their very human struggles.

Gabrielle Union: The actress and her husband, Dwyane Wade have gone through 9 miscarriages. I have seen her speak out the most publicly about her journey to have biological children. She stated, “There is so much hope; there are so many options.” She has struggled with her IVF journey and has been unable to become pregnant. She recently stated in an article that she was diagnosed with Adenomyosis. The actress, who is 45 years old, finally got some answers at the end of her fertility journey. She believed she had Adenomyosis in her twenties. I can relate to her, since I was also diagnosed with this disease. Gabrielle also told People Magazine that she never wanted children, until she became a stepmom.

Elizabeth Banks: You have probably noticed this actress in many different movies. The one that stuck out the most to me was: “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” I read an interview where she publicly stated she used a gestational surrogate after years of unsuccessful fertility treatments. She played a woman in the movie who wanted “that glow.” She wanted to be a mother, and played a woman who struggled with infertility, became pregnant and owned a baby store. I think that is a really brave move on her part. She never experienced pregnancy herself, but could wear a fake pregnancy belly and play the role.

Tyra Banks: The super model spoke out and admitted she had fertility issues. The model stated when she turned 40, she was unhappy that she didn’t have children. Banks and her boyfriend, Norwegian photographer Erik Asla struggled with fertility and ending up having their son, York via gestational surrogate. Tyra told People Magazine in a statement that as she looked into her son’s eyes, she continued to pray for people who struggle with fertility or carrying a child. She continued to thank their angel surrogate for their miracle.

Chrissy Teigen: The model and author has been very public about her infertility journey with husband John Legend. The couple have had success with IVF, but it wasn’t easy. Chrissy, who now has two kids via IVF, states she was devastated when her first IVF round wasn’t successful. The mom did suffer from postpartum depression after baby number one. They did decide to expand their family and used IVF to conceive baby number two. Teigen stated that it’s easy to grow resentful of how easy it is for some people to get pregnant while she was doing injections. She also said there is a light at the end of the tunnel, when your baby is born, you forget about all the struggle and pain.

Nicole Kidman: Everyone knows the superstar actress. Kidman has shared that she wanted to have kids immediately after marrying first husband Tom Cruise. She discusses in an interview that her and Cruise lost a baby early on, and it was very traumatic on the couple. The couple made the choice to adopt. They adopted two children: a girl and a boy. The power couple ended up divorced after 11 years of marriage. In 2006, Kidman married country singer Keith Urban. The actress has two little girls with Urban. She has experienced motherhood in many different ways – adoption, birthing a child and surrogacy. Kidman states “I am a mother, because I love being a mother.”

Yes, celebrity super stars have millions of dollars to afford all of the best fertility treatments out there – especially surrogacy. I give them a lot of credit for stepping up and admitting they have fertility issues. I have read a lot of different articles with different celebrities who are honest and real about their stories. Will celebrities redefine fertility and families?

It could be a start.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): The Virijevics

Daniella and her husband, Djordje have been trying to have a baby for 14 years. What is IVF? In Vitro Fertilization is a medical procedure whereby an egg is fertilized by sperm in a test tube or elsewhere outside the body. The embryo(s) is then transferred to the uterus. This is a story about a couple who can take negatives (literally) and turn the situation into a positive. How can this be a positive? Daniella is a symbol of hope. She has never given up on her dream of having a baby. Take a look at this gallant couple’s journey:

It is 2018. I am now 37 and my husband 40. We have been married for almost 16 years and we still long for our biological dream.

Our Journey (in a nutshell)

  • Married January 15, 2003
  • Started trying to conceive in March of 2004
  • IVF in 2007 – negative
  • 9 IUIs done between 2010 and 2011 – negative
  • 1 miscarriage from a natural pregnancy in 2012
  • IVF in 2014 – negative

WHY US? WHAT DID WE DO?

We feel that we want to try again, and we wish we had the money to afford treatment as many times on the infertility roller coaster – it is finances that hold you back from pursuing treatment. We had even contemplated moving back to Illinois to have insurance that helped cover the costs, but decided to move to the Twin Cities Spring of 2016. After spending around $50,000 it is just so hard to make the decision to do a treatment again. In the past couple of years, we heard about a program that could possibly be the answer for us. The program, some call it a Shared Risk program, would pay for three cycles of IVF/ICSI plus any frozen embryo transfers.  This program gives patients the comfort that they will either have a successful birth or will receive a refund of between 80% and 100% of the program fees to pursue other family building options.  The estimate received from a clinic was approximately $25,000 plus the cost of medication.

(Photo below: The couple’s embryo.)

Our Journey (from the beginning)

I guess I will start off by telling everyone a little bit about us. Djordje and I met through a “modern-day” arrangement (his great Aunt Ana and my Aunt Rose, both no longer with us, felt like we would make a good match). We both went with it, fell in love and were married within five days of meeting one another in January of 2003!

After a year we decided to start trying for a family. Djordje wanted to start right away, but we agreed that it would be nice to enjoy one another’s company for a while longer. Little did we know that it would take a bit more than looking into one another’s eyes and kissing (as I had thought as a kid when watching movies). After about a year of trying I just knew in my heart something wasn’t right. We had moved from Duluth, MN to a suburb of Chicago and, after a few months, decided to both get checked.  The OBGYN I met with did some preliminary tests and found nothing that could be causing me not to become pregnant. We then consulted with a Urologist who, after an analysis, said that we were dealing with Male Factor Infertility.

We were devastated and asked, “why us?” and “what did we do?” All the Urologist said was that it does happen sometimes and consulting with a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) would be the best way to move forward with our family building plans.

We met with an RE in Naperville, IL and came to find out my husband’s insurance at the time covered five cycles at 90%!!! Hindsight is 20/20 as if we knew then what we knew now…the last 13 years would have gone differently.

We were all set to start a cycle when the IVF Clinic said our specimen could not be frozen and that we had to consult with a doctor at Northwestern who specializes in the male reproductive system. Once we met with the doctor we found out we were dealing with varicoceles and they would have to be removed surgically .  The surgery in December 2005 went well and we decided to hold off for a while before continuing on our journey.

Fast forward a few months, after a move to Colorado for a great job opportunity, we were still in the same situation we were prior to surgery. We had this hope that it would be better and that we would not need to move forward with IVF. We again looked for an RE and came to the realization that NOTHING WAS COVERED with our insurance. This was what I had referred to before – being new in the infertility world, we had no idea how rare it was for IVF to be covered. So started our search for an affordable clinic.

We searched a few places in the states and found that doing the procedure in Canada would be a lot cheaper. There of course are a lot of details that go into the planning and such, but to keep this as short as I can our OBGYN clinic in Colorado agreed to monitor the cycle and the clinic in Scarborough, Toronto, Canada performed IVF with ICSI in December of 2007. We retrieved 15 eggs, 9 fertilized and we ended up transferring two grade A 8 cell embryos on day three post retrieval. On New Year’s Day, 2008, we got the results that the procedure did not work, we were not pregnant, we were not going to be parents. We had no idea how we would get through such a devastating outcome. We again asked, “why us?” and “what did we do?”

Fast forward to 2009

After moving back to Duluth, MN during the economic crisis aftermath we both had thought maybe we could take a few steps back and try IUI (intrauterine insemination). A doctor in Duluth was supportive and so we went on to do nine cycles and, despite my good responses to the different treatments, we never did have a positive pregnancy test. In 2010 I felt I had to use my energy to give back and decided to become a volunteer with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. It was then I started the Duluth Support Group. I have since made so many friends, that I wish I had met for a different reason. You never realize how many women are out there like you until you reach out and advocate.

(Photo below: before IVF in 2007.)

One weekend at the end of January 2012 I noticed I wasn’t feeling too well and was experiencing hot flashes. Right away I was afraid I was going into menopause (yes, I know, my mind went to the extreme end of things,) I had looked in my calendar and saw that I would be expecting my period any day, so I just thought why not take a pregnancy test to see if I was pregnant? I had a test that I had saved from before and thought, why not? I peed on the stick, waited and didn’t see anything. About an hour later I came back and there was a plus sign. WAIT…A PLUS SIGN…HOLY MOLY I AM PREGNANT…NO IT CAN’T BE…WHAT?…NO WAY!!! I went into the living room where my husband and sister-in-law were and shakingly said, “I’m pregnant!” My husband couldn’t believe it, my sister-in-law started tearing up and right away I said that I had to take it again because it must be wrong!  That evening I took another test and it, again, was positive!  It was a Sunday evening so the next morning I called my OBGYN’s office and asked if I could come in for a blood test.  They had worked with me over the course of a couple of years with the IUI’s and knew how important this was.  The results came back and my HCG was 19 and they really want it to be at about 25 at five weeks. A few days later the test was repeated and the number was 12. The tears started to flow and my heart sank. I again asked, “why us?” and “what did we do?”  At about the same time I found out my news, I found out my friend had given birth to triplets at 24 weeks who all became angels shortly thereafter.  It was such a hard time for many. Attending their memorial was so calming and really helped heal my heart at the time as I too grieved for my angel that I had just lost.

A couple of years had passed and I just really wanted to try IVF again. We knew that we couldn’t afford treatment at most clinics in the US and I wanted to find a clinic that specialized in Male Factor Infertility. This led us to a clinic in Mexico City, Mexico. I can tell you that the RE and Embryologist at this clinic were absolutely amazing. I have nothing but great things to say about everyone there.  We met the doctor in August of 2014 and went forward with a cycle in December of 2014.  We enjoyed Christmas with friends in Queretaro, Mexico and got to know the big and beautiful City.  On retrieval day five eggs were retrieved and only one was mature. As soon as they told me I started crying uncontrollably.  It could have been the meds I was still coming off of, but I just could not help it.  They tried to mature a second of the five and actually were able to fertilize it, but it did not continue dividing after the third day. The one mature egg turned into our beautiful embryo and was transferred at six days post fertilization.  We celebrated New Years in our hotel room a few days later and flew home the next day. After only seven days I started bleeding. That was it. The cycle was over. Blood work confirmed that it was a negative outcome and that we were, indeed, not pregnant.

WHY US? WHAT DID WE DO?

Fast Forward to 2018

Time has passed and we are now at a place to start the process again. We have not once given up hope and continue to have faith. We have recently found a clinic that provides services at a reduced rate and, you never know, they may be key to our miracle. We hope to move forward with treatment in early 2019.

We share our story in hopes of others going through this journey are brave enough to reach out. It is a hard journey where at times you feel very lonely and knowing others going through the same thing helps smooth the rocky road. You are not alone.

Over the years we have helped with many different fundraisers, sending gifts for silent auctions and even donating time to multiple organizations. We don’t want to ask anyone for anything outright, besides love and support and understanding in why we want to try again, but if there are those out there that want to help, we humbly bow our heads and thank God as without Faith we honestly don’t know where we would be.

(Photo below: 10th wedding anniversary picture.)

Squints: The Scott Family Quintuplets

How did I learn about the Scott Family? I was scrolling through Facebook one night and I came across a fundraising page for a family expecting multiples. When I read about the family of four becoming a family of nine, I immediately noticed these words used to describe the family: giving, volunteer, goodness, foster, community, and infertility. I knew right away this was a unique situation with a very special family. I felt compelled to look more into their story. I reached out to the Scott family while I was doing research for my blog, and because of their inspiration, I asked if I could share their story. They are very busy taking care of five little babies, so they told me they would love for me to do a write-up and share their miraculous journey on my blog. I feel very honored to do so. If you want to read about miracles, great faith, amazing love, a brave family and FIVE babies – take a look at this journey:

The first words I saw while reading about the Scott’s story was “Five Two Love.” Skyler and Jamie Scott were pregnant with quintuplets. Quints are five children born to the same mother at one birth. The Scotts were married in 2004 and welcomed their first son, Shayden in 2005. After a few more years, they welcomed another son, Landon. They tried to expand their family for another five years, and with no luck, they went to get help from a fertility specialist. The Scott Family had hopes of adding another baby to their family. After two rounds of intra-uterine insemination and fertility medications, Jamie found out she was expecting. Jamie stated to PEOPLE Magazine, “It was just incredible to see those two pink lines.” Jamie’s HCG hormone levels were extremely high, which can be an indicator for multiples. At their first ultrasound, they found out they were pregnant with FIVE babies! Quintuplets! How do you even take in that kind of miracle? I would imagine it would be great excitement and also great fear. This would be a high-risk pregnancy. In January the couple revealed they were expecting 3 baby girls and 2 baby boys. Besides the five new babies on the way, they have two sons at home.

How do you prepare for Quints? How do you prepare for a high-risk pregnancy? How do you handle this financially, emotionally, and physically? The Scott’s moved from their home in Utah and traveled to Arizona to be close to their specialist, Dr. Elliot. They had a gofundme set up, because as you can imagine, even with good health insurance the cost of having multiples is extremely high. The Scott Family raised about $37,500. Talk about community!! Their motto was “Scquints Strong.” Their page had over 3,000 shares on Facebook alone. Besides the donations, the Scotts were asking for prayers. I would have never seen this amazing story if it wasn’t for everyone spreading the word on social media.

I remember watching vlogs of the couple and their journey. Jamie’s water broke on January 30th for Baby A. She was almost 22 weeks pregnant. This is very early in the pregnancy, and of course she was carrying multiples. She had to remain in the hospital until the babies were born, which came out to be seven weeks. There are many concerns in a multiple pregnancy, such as: Preterm Labor/Delivery, Low birth weight, IUGR, Preeclampsia, Placental Abruption or even Fetal Demise. I would follow their page as the weeks would progress, and this couple is amazing. I could see strong faith, courage, grace, and even smiling. That positivity must have been so helpful in a time of extreme patience and anxiety. Jamie had a paper chain to count down the weeks she needed to keep those babies growing and thriving inside of her. She made it to 29 weeks. All five babies were born by C-Section. Their weights ranged from 2 pounds to 2 pounds 9 ounces.  I watched Skyler share his testimony on Facebook Live, showing all of his hospital bracelets on his wrists for all his babies. You could see the relief on his face that his family was doing well. He shed tears of joy and expressed his praise and gratefulness. He gave thanks to god, to his wife, to mothers, his parents, his kids, and everyone who has followed their journey. Their faith is real and can move mountains. I cannot even imagine what they witnessed on their delivery day. The next stage was five babies in the NICU.

Logan, Lily, Violet, Daisy and Lincoln spent over ten weeks in the NICU. I have no idea what NICU life entails, but I have read that it’s an intense, beautiful, complicated world. These babies needed extra medical care since they were born premature. I saw photos of the quints with all their tubes and wires. They are so small and separated from their parents. I cannot imagine not being able to hold your baby. Big equipment and tiny patients. There are machines running 24/7, beeping, nurses, doctors, and alarms. The Scott Quintuplets were born on March 21st – their original due date was June 6th.

As summer came to Arizona, The babies would start going home. The Scott’s bought a new big van to hold this new big family. Try to imagine five car seats in one vehicle? I sure can’t! Jamie wrote in one of her posts: “When I was pregnant with the quints, I used to marvel that I had 50 fingers and 50 toes inside of me.” This statement left me in awe. I never got the opportunity to carry one baby – I could never dream of carrying multiples. The Squints are growing, thriving, and look simply adorable. The Scotts have 150,000 followers on Facebook to date. Jamie wrote on her page that struggling with infertility was one of the hardest challenges of her life. She continues to say on her vlog that everyday of her pregnancy was a gift, no matter how hard it was. This family beat all of the odds against them – The doctors gave the couple a 1% chance survival rate for all five babies. Skyler stated in one of their vlogs that the minute they heard five hearts beating, the goal was set for five two love. You can continue to follow the family on their YouTube page.

A BIG thank you to the Scott’s for allowing me share their story and family photos. This family lived and witnessed a miracle. They had people praying for them from all over the world. These babies represent a journey of hope and faith. If you need inspiration on your journey, whatever phase you’re going through – follow this story and family.

“Everyday is a gift.” – Jamie Scott.

http:/www.facebook.com/five.two.love/

Faith and Fertility: The Ryan Family

When I read Anna and Mitch’s story, it was a testament to my faith. I felt great hope and love in this journey. Even though our journey is over, I know this story will bring a lot of encouragement to those of you still trying, still praying, and still fighting. Rosie is a miracle. Please believe in miracles. This is Anna’s story in her own words:

1 Samuel 1:27 “ For this child I prayed, and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of Him.” (Baby Rosie is featured in the photo below.)

This scripture has such deep meaning to me and has defined my infertility journey. What exactly does it mean to petition? Webster’s dictionary says that to petition is to make a solemn or humble appeal to a figure of authority. That is exactly what we did. We petitioned. And our families petitioned, for six years, until we finally got our miracle.

Let me start at the beginning.

My husband and I were high school sweethearts. We always knew that we wanted to have children. We married young and wanted a big family. I had several nieces and nephews that were such a huge part of my life. I could hardly stand being away from them for a second, and couldn’t wait to give them another little cousin. I rushed through college because I wanted to start our family right away and stay at home with my kids. I even got my degree in a field that would help me to be a better mother. It seemed as though all of our plans revolved around our future children and family.

I think the old saying is, “ We make plans and God laughs”.

After many years of surgeries, appointments, and countless tests we were told our chance of ever conceiving children naturally was “basically zero”. (Yes, those were the exact words used). As you can imagine, our hearts were in pieces. We felt helpless and hopeless.

So we began to petition The Lord. We petitioned hard. Our families petitioned for us. Our friends petitioned for us. We felt the power of the prayers being said on our behalf often. Our little nieces and nephews prayed for us, even though they may not have quite understood exactly what they were praying for. In fact, we had a niece ask her parents, “Why are we praying for Mitch, when Anna is the one who would have the baby?” (Much of our infertility is male factor, which required quite a few surgeries for my husband. The kids may or may not have needed a few anatomy lessons along the way…. Hehe.)

There is something to be said about having a tribe of people on your side. Cheering for you. Doing everything they can for you. Praying for you. Petitioning for you. There were times when I felt discouraged praying for a baby. I knew that God had a plan for us, and if that plan didn’t involve a child, then what was praying going to do about it? But I also knew that prayer was powerful. And prayer can change things. I knew it. I felt it.

There were so many little miracles that took place along our infertility journey. We were told so many times that “ things didn’t look good” or “ your chances are very low”. But somehow, miracles always found a way. We were told we likely would not even qualify for IVF, but a miracle found a way. I developed a potentially life threatening condition during our egg retrieval that jeopardized everything, but a miracle found a way. My body was so sick that the embryo transfer wasn’t looking promising, but a miracle found a way. After finding out we were in fact pregnant, the condition got worse, and our little baby was in danger. But a BIG miracle found a way.

We now have a healthy, beautiful 5-year-old girl who is the light of our lives. She loves to hear the stories of how many people were praying for her for so long to come down to our family. Her sweet little self asks about families who don’t get their miracles. Our hearts ache for them, and we hope that someday we will understand why so many are still waiting.

I am reminded of the amazing miracle that she is every single day. The Lord gave us the petition that we asked of Him, and for that we will be forever grateful.

Anna is a volunteer for Resolve: The National Infertility Association.

5-year-old Rosie just got a new baby of her own, a puppy named Tucker. A big thank you to the Ryan’s for sharing their story.

Thankful, grateful, blessed, and worth the wait. Miss Rosie is a symbol of that. You are never alone in your fight, or your journey!

Fragile Fertility: The Journey to Baby Eve

Lyn and her husband, Frank had a very long road and journey to create their family. Lyn was diagnosed with Fragile X- associated primary ovarian insufficiency. Besides Lyn’s fight to have a baby – her sister, Trish was also diagnosed with the same condition. Two sisters, with the same diagnosis, trying to complete their dreams of motherhood. Here is their story in Lyn’s words:

I look back on it, and I think I cried more for my sister because I thought about how I would feel if the same thing happened to me. Finding out about her first, somehow made it a bit easier when I got my test results. I still went to pieces, but at least I had an answer. I was lucky and grateful for not only having her support but a loving partner when I found out.

I received my Fragile X carrier positive test results when I was at dinner with co-workers. I am not good at hiding my emotions so after calling my sister, I called Frank to come pick me up. My sister told me about her results a few years before I had the courage to find out for myself. I wasn’t ready to know, I was still healing from my divorce, the birth of his kids with his new girlfriend, trying to find myself, and date. I found out because it was time. I had found myself, and Frank, fell in love, and knew it was time to face it.

Fragile X is a genetic condition that causes intellectual disability. 20-25% of women who are carriers of the premutation are diagnosed with premature ovarian failure (FXPOI), also known as premature menopause. (Source: https://fragilex.org)

Once I found out I was a carrier, my next step was to find out if I had any eggs. The test to find this out is the AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone) test. I had to push my doctor to get this test, per my sister and my research, so I want others to know about it. Be your own advocate. Don’t go through a year of testing, wasted tries/drugs, and money (which is what the doctor wanted) when you can find out with one test. Men are tested to find out their sperm count and mobility, this should be a standard initial test for women, but it isn’t. My results were less than .03, in other words, none.

I know I fell apart in Frank’s arms, but at this point I had found a support group of other women dealing with some sort of infertility. All of us had our own stories, each of them heartbreaking in their own right. Because of this group, I was grateful that I (we) had a definitive answer. I (We) had a path. Many women can’t get a diagnosis and go through so much more, still don’t conceive, and don’t know why.

Next came research and planning when and how. Frank had not even proposed yet when we got the test results. There was no question in my mind that we would be getting married. I never saw him falter, we were already partners in this and in life. I can’t even begin to explain how grateful I am for him, his support, and his love. Once he proposed, we set a date for the next year. We decided to setup a gofundme account for the wedding, instead of a registry, to help with treatment expenses. It would cost about $25,000 for the first try and about $10,000 for any try after with remaining embryos from the initial donation. I set a goal of $40,000 because that was the cost of a specific refund program at the time if you didn’t have insurance. Most insurance plans do not cover infertility treatment. We received about $3,000. We appreciate every single donation and support that was given.

Then I received amazing news, I really needed it at this point. My company, which was going through its first merger, may possibly have coverage soon. I couldn’t believe it, $15,000 coverage, we used every penny for the first try. We still paid some out of pocket with the gofundme donations, etc. Again, grateful! We went through another merger shortly after that and coverage changed, but in a good way. It went up.

I could write another article about going through the actual treatments. The pain of the shots is not as bad as the waiting, both hurt significantly. The first try was not successful. The second try ended with a beautiful baby girl and a very rare birth story. Eve Eunice was born 10/15/17. My body doesn’t do anything ‘normal’. That is one of the many things I have accepted through all of this.

The photo below is Baby Eve – all the science, love, support, and courage it took to bring her into this world. (Photo credit: Bri Marie Photography)

My sister’s beautiful baby girl was born 3 months and 3 days before mine. (See photo below: photo taken by Lyn’s sister, Trish.)

One of the Embryos in the photo below is Baby Eve.