Guest Infertility Blogger: Meet Elizabeth

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Meet today’s guest blogger, Elizabeth!

My husband and I were married in 2013.  I wanted children right away, however we knew we needed to get settled first. We moved, he started a new job, and I decided to start a new career and went back to school to become a nurse. I always had this nagging feeling that it would be difficult for me to get pregnant. I could not explain it, and I am pretty sure people thought I was crazy. However, I could not shake this feeling deep within my gut that something would be wrong with my eggs. After some convincing by me I went off birth control in 2014. At first we did the whole not trying and not preventing. Soon I was tracking days, peeing on ovulation sticks, and writing down every symptom I felt that could be pregnancy.

A year went by, and nothing…. Each month felt like a shot in the stomach as I felt that my deep down feeling all these years was actually coming true. So we made an appointment with a new OB/GYN to see what was up. He ran some initial tests and found I did not ovulate that month. So on the Femara train I went. Now so hopeful that yes, this is the answer. I don’t always ovulate.. I will take the medication and BAM! It will happen. After three months on the medication I only successfully ovulated once. Back to square one….

After the failed Femara months I was sent to an RE. Right away he said PCOS, but wanted to run a whole gamete of tests. That is when I was hit with a huge shocker… my AMH came back at 0.19. 0.19!!!! That is a number that is seen in a woman in her 50’s. After some quick googling I realized I was probably suffering from Diminished Ovarian Reserve and that essentially I did not have as many eggs as I should for my age. It is important to point out at this time I was in my final practicum for nursing school… on a labor and delivery floor. The day I received those tests result I had to put on my big girl panties and work a 12-hour shift helping deliver babies. Oh the irony.  So we quickly made an appointment with our RE, who is amazing by the way. He said he would not give up on us and was willing to prove the test results wrong. So onto IUI we went. Three IUI’s with injections, follicles each time, no pregnancy.

The summer of 2016 we began IVF. We were so hopeful. Each time we moved to a new treatment our thought was, “this is it. This treatment will work.” I felt so happy to be able to even do IVF given my low AMH. Injections, appointments, ultrasounds, and blood draws followed and we made it to our first retrieval. 5 eggs were retrieved with 3 being fertilized. I had a 3-day fresh transfer of 2 embryos and the third did not make it.  The whole two weeks I just couldn’t believe that I was carrying two embryos inside of me. This was the closest I had come to pregnancy. Soon those little embryos gave me my first and only ever two pink lines. I couldn’t believe it. Me, pregnant! However, sadly it resulted in a chemical pregnancy. I could probably write an entire post on that first round. Another round followed, another 3 day transfer, negative Beta, laparoscopy that found mild endometriosis, and a frozen transfer that failed 6 days before my 30th birthday. Needless to say at that point I was done. I was physically, emotionally, and mentally spent.

We made the decision to stop treatments and pursue adoption. Throughout our journey adoption was always mentioned. I knew deep in my heart it was something I wanted to do even if we had biological children. However, I knew first I needed to take my body as far as I felt I could in trying to have biological children. I needed that time to mourn the loss of never being pregnant. I needed to grieve it and come to acceptance of not carrying my children. Once I was there we never looked back. We dove head first into private adoption and just 5 days after paying our retainer fee we were matched!! I’ll never forget that phone call standing outside of a Cracker Barrel in TN. We were going to be parents and it was going to be soon. Two weeks later, a 3-day home study, and traveling to Connecticut, our sweet son Samuel was born. I was able to be in the delivery room with his birth mother and witnessed as he made his entrance earth side. I even got to cut his umbilical cord.  In that moment, it was all worth it. When that sweet 6 pound 1 ounce baby boy was placed on my chest, it all made sense.  This was how I was supposed to become a mother.

Want to contact Elizabeth? Instagram:@ourjourneytobabyl

Want to hear more infertility stories? You can find those here.

Guest Infertility Blogger: Meet Kate

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Today’s guest blogger is a women’s health and fertility coach! How cool is that? Meet Kate…

Can you explain your job for us?  I’m a women’s health + fertility coach and I work with women at any stage of their fertility journey–whether they’ve just started trying or are doing IVF. I work with clients on making sustainable lifestyle shifts that will improve their overall health + hopefully improve hormone balance and fertility. I focus a lot on food, stress, sleep, and mindset work, because the emotional side of trying to conceive is often ignored, but can be one of the biggest challenges women face. My hope is that after working with me, you feel better in your body, and emotionally more resilient and ready to face whatever challenge comes next–whether that’s another round of IVF or being a new mom.

My background is in women’s health + positive psychology, but I’m also a yoga teacher and have trained in fertility yoga, so I bring that into my coaching as well. Everyone’s journey is different and my goal is to help each woman figure out the right path for her, and to give her the tools and resources to become a mother, whatever that looks like.

What got you into this career path? I’ve been interested in women’s health for a long time–in my early 20’s I started having really terrible menstrual cramps and vomiting that prevented me from going to work or doing anything but lying on the bathroom floor. I knew I shouldn’t have to feel this way, but I didn’t feel like my gynecologist really had any suggestions other than going back on birth control which I didn’t want to do. Through a friend’s recommendation, I tried acupuncture, and found it really helped with cramps, and it balanced out my long cycles as well. I started getting really interested in eastern healing traditions like Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, and decided to study holistic nutrition at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I started doing women’s health coaching, but felt like part of the puzzle was missing, so I did a year long program in positive psychology through the Wholebing Institute, and began working with the emotional and mindset side of things as well. I found that addressing mindset first often helps clients become more successful implementing other changes to their lifestyle.

At that time, I had been teaching yoga for a number of years and a friend of mine asked what yoga could do to help her get pregnant, since she had been struggling for a number of years. I thought that was a really great question, so I signed up for a training with Lynn Jensen in Seattle for Yoga for Fertility. I realized not only how much yoga had to offer, but also how much women could benefit from other lifestyle and diet changes when trying to conceive. As I started working with women, I also realized how little emotional support there really is for women struggling with their fertility, and the mindset work became very central to what I do as well. So it’s been kind of a gradual evolution into fertility, but once I started working with my fertility clients, I just knew this was what I was I was supposed to do and who I was supposed to help.

What is the hardest part of your job?  The hardest part of my work is seeing the difficulty and suffering many of my clients have gone through–from miscarriage and loss to monthly disappointment—and to not be able to just wave a magic want and make it all go away. I teach women tools that can have a huge impact on their lives, but they still have to do the work, and there’s no quick fix. If I could magically give women babies I would!

What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most rewarding part of fertility coaching is seeing the transformation my clients undergo during our time working together. I see them grow stronger emotionally and become more resilient and hopeful again. I see their cycles change and hormones balance out; they feel better physically and and have more energy, and you can just see it in their eyes–they start glowing again. I may have empowered these women and given them tools to succeed, but they did all the work to make these change manifest in their lives, and that is so beautiful to witness.

If you could tell a couple struggling with infertility one thing, what would it be?  You will find a way to become parents. If that’s what you truly want in life, you’ll find the right path for you. It may not be easy, it may not be the path you envisioned, but there will be a path for you to follow. Hold on to hope.

Want to contact Kate?

Website + Blog | KatePotvin.com

Join me on Facebook | Facebook.com/KatePotvinHealth

Instagram | @katepotvin

Infertility Guest Blogger: Meet Aimee

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I am 1 in 8. I was diagnosed with unexplained infertility in early 2015 after trying everything outside of medical intervention the year and a half prior. My GYN said things were fine and that I really just needed to time it better.

I, at that point I became my own advocate and saw an (RE) Reproductive Endocrinologist. He suggested months of medicated timed intercourse (fail), 3 IUI’s (fail), yet was reluctant to pursue IVF because clinically I was textbook, test after test and nothing was abnormal. I was motivated and eager to make my Husband and I parents but in my heart knew we needed to move forward with another plan. So with a lot of prayer, thought and consideration we pursued IVF in December 2015. And on the 15th we transferred 2 day-five blastocysts which resulted in the twins you see here.

I had a high risk pregnancy, diagnosed with IUGR, my babies were born premature and spent the first month of their lives in the NICU. But today they are happy and healthy and I can say that I beat infertility and I am truly blessed and humbled having had gone through this to create our beautiful family.

What things helped you cope with infertility?  “The IG community was my saving grace as I battled infertility. I felt isolated and alone as there wasn’t anyone I knew personally that had ever gone through this. I knew I needed an outlet and someone that I could relate to. So I started searching hashtags and found an overwhelming amount of women openly sharing about their struggles to conceive. I immediately felt like I had found my tribe! This was my safe place…somewhere I could go without feeling judged and was able to talk freely about my struggles, frustrations and sadness. My husband didn’t understand and wasn’t always sure how to console me so I found comfort in this community. I am so thankful I started my account and am still present cheering on those still in the wait, comforting those in loss, celebrating the successes, and making lasting friendships everyday.”

What was the hardest part of the journey for you? “In the beginning it was putting on a brave face for those around me. I didn’t want anyone I personally knew to know. I was attending countless baby showers, 1st birthday parties and smiled at the baby bumps that I was desperately yearning for. The hardest part for me was always pretending like things were fine. I wasn’t ready to come clean…admit that I was broken? No thanks. So I quietly acted like things were good and that, “We’re just not ready for kids yet. We’ve got time.” The subject isn’t as taboo as it once was, I think that with the power of social media and celebrities being open has encouraged people to speak out. But truthfully there’s a lot of people that know me personally that still don’t know how hard I had to work to have my twins. And I still am battling how to share that. I want to advocate and not be ashamed but it’s an insecurity believe it or not that I am working on.”

Are you going to share your infertility journey with your children? “Yes, what a testimony of faith, courage and love to bring these babies into the world! I want them to know just how much it took to complete our family. I worked so hard for them! I put my body through so many intense treatments and faced so many fears. I amazed myself at how well I faced those fears and anxieties and for all that we endured I want them to know every detail. Not to mention I think it’s important to share your medical history with your children. I plan on making a book for each of them, I think this will be a sweet tribute for them to see how much they were wanted and loved before they were ever conceived.”

In what ways has infertility changed you and affected your life?  “It has made me a more empathetic person. It has shown me how to slow down and evaluate what’s important in life. Infertility will always be a part of me; my past, my present and my future. I still get bump envy. I still feel the sting of a surprise announcement. I still will never know what it’s like to conceive a child the “natural way.” But it has made me a better person. I wholeheartedly feel that. It’s taught me to love fiercely, stop assuming the worst and trust in God’s plan.”

What is the most valuable piece of advice you’d like to share with our readers?  “Be your own advocate. Whether you are in the beginning or in the throes of infertility treatment don’t be afraid to ask the questions. You are not just a number at the clinic so don’t let them treat you like one. This is a very sensitive time in your life and you deserve the attention to detail. Your feelings are valid. Don’t let anyone degrade them. If you need to talk to someone there are resources. Find your tribe and love them hard!”

Want to contact Aimee? Instagram: @insta_aimee

You can read previous guest blogger posts here.

Guest Infertility Blogger: Meet Erin

IMG_6068Infertility has been a huge part of my life for years and even though I have my miracle babies, it will always be a part of me.  I realized after going through infertility that many people aren’t aware of how common this is. Twice a month, I’m going to have a guest blogger who went through infertility or is currently going through it.  Meet, our first Guest Blogger: Erin from Our Journey to Three

Tell us a little bit about you and your infertility journey:

Matt & I have been trying to start a family since we got married in October 2012. After being diagnosed with PCOS and only having one fallopian tube, we began fertility treatments in November 2014. We have gone through nine IVF transfers – transferring a total of fifteen embryos. Six of these transfers resulted in pregnancy, but sadly, all six ended in miscarriage. Most of my losses were around 6 to 6 ½ weeks, but the furthest we made it was about 8 weeks. After seeing countless doctors and trying different protocols, we have made the decision to move forward in our journey by using a gestational carrier, with the hopes of building our family.

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What led you to the decision of the route you are pursuing or pursued?

After struggling with infertility for five years, my body has just been put through hell. The injections, doctors’ visits, ultrasounds, egg retrievals, and D&Cs have all put a toll on my body. Emotionally, I can’t handle much more either. Also, with repeated pregnancy loss I’ve just come to the realization that my body isn’t meant to carry a child, unfortunately. We have a close friend that will carry for us – hopefully in the fall/winter.

Who offered you support during this process that really stood out to you? What did they do?

There’s no way that I could pick just one person, because the support we have received has been unreal. My husband has been my number 1 support system, along with my mom. Also, a lot of family, friends, and TTC sisters have given us support during this journey. Some of the things that they have shown support to us is sending flowers/cards/small gifts during difficult times; asking us how we are doing; texting us or messaging us; and praying for us – that’s helped up stay afloat quite a bit. Without our support system, I fully believe I would have given up by now.

Did you ever deal with unsupportive people during your journey? How did you handle this?

Yes, 100% – and we still do. Unfortunately, it is even family members. It has been hard to cope with, but I’ve come to the realization that it is what it is. I just know that those aren’t my people. The things I’ve heard from people during this journey just erks me to no end. But I can’t expect them to understand it, they’ve never lived it. The supportive ones FAR outweigh the unsupportive ones so I try to just brush it off.

Are you going to share your infertility journey with your children?

Absolutely. Infertility has been such a HUGE part of my life that has changed me in good ways, that I want them to know how hard we fought for them. And that they were worth every single injection, tear, and pain that we had to go through to get them here.

What would you like couples or women who don’t struggle with infertility to know about infertility?

I would want them to know how extremely fortunate and blessed they are to not have to struggle with infertility. I cannot even imagine having intercourse and getting pregnant – it honestly blows my mind that it works so easy for the majority of people. If you know someone struggling with infertility, I urge you to acknowledge it. I also want them to know that I in no way “blame” them for being fertile – it isn’t their fault! I just hope they know how lucky they are.

What is/was the hardest part of this journey for you?

I would have to say, going through three failed Clomid cycles, three failed IUIs, nine IVF transfers, six miscarriages and still no baby. I hate to say it, but it’s almost as if we did it all for nothing. If someone would have told me years ago, we needed a surrogate, it’s the route we would have taken immediately.

What is the most valuable piece of advice you’d like to share with our readers?

Infertility is no walk in the park. If you’re struggling with infertility, just know it isn’t going to be easy, but I promise you, you have the strength within you to keep pushing forward until you get your end result. Couples that struggle with infertility are such warriors – they’re giving themselves countless injections, are put on emotional rollercoasters, and all keep living their everyday life.

Want to get in touch with Erin?  IG – journeytothree_ivf; Blog: www.ourjourneytothree.com  Email: erin.boelhower@gmail.com; Facebook page: http://m.facebook.com/ourjourneytothree/

 

Want to be a guest blogger? Email me at adventuresofatwinmom@gmail.com or message on Instagram @ivftwinmomadventures