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      Infertility and Beyond

      Amanda's Story

      Amanda's Story

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      Amanda @infertility_journeytobabyc
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      Josh and I started seeing each other in 2015. Josh was already a father of two and we quickly decided that when the time was right we'd expand our family. 
      We had a consultation with my gyno in January 2018, one month before we'd get legally married (the actual ceremony was later that year). We had just stopped birth control and decided it was time. We both had amazing jobs, financially we were in a great spot and we had just purchased our dream house. Four bedrooms, two story, in the best school district around. We had meticulously planned our lives up to this point. We believed everything was perfect and  we had done everything right. Turns out infertility doesn't care about that. A year into trying and we were coming up negative every month. We had done Clomid, bloodwork, semen analysis and bunch of other wacky stuff I read on the internet. Finally in February 2019 an HSG test revealed a bilateral tubal blockage with hydrosalpinx. In other words a screeching halt to our hopes and dreams. A big brick through the window of our "perfect" lives. I'll tell you there are few things that put you in your place faster than infertility.   
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      We saw our first RE and were given a bleak idea of the future. We made a choice then that driving two hours to our RE in Tulsa, OK, while my insurance covered nothing, wasn't an option for us. We knew we had to take charge and decide where our journey was going to take us. We sold our house,cashed out retirements, moved 600 miles back to my husband's hometown from Oklahoma to Texas and decided we were going to have a baby, no matter what. 
      El Paso has an amazing clinic that was able to perform my surgery. They took such good care of us and helped us through one stimmed cycle and two stimmed IUIs. We're now moving on to an IVF cycle. 
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      What has helped me the most was my husband. At every new issue I was ready to give up. He kept pushing us and helped me realize that we were only limited at much as we allowed ourselves. We kept reminding me that we can always make more money and that one day all the struggles would pay off.
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      My advice for someone going through all is that you can do it, even when you're positive you can't. Find your tribe and push forward. Surround yourself with information and be your own advocate! You're stronger than you think!
           

      Christabel's Story

      Christabel's Story

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      @christabel.snyder

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      My husband, Andrew, and I got married in October 2013. I stopped birth control in August 2016 because I wanted at least a year off before we started trying. When 2017 was ending, we learned Andrew wouldn’t be done with his doctorate as planned so we pushed off trying for another year. In 2018, we didn’t try, but we figured if it happened, it would happen. It didn’t. So Dec 2018, I started OPKs and using the basal body temperature method. In Feb 2019, we got pregnant, but lost our baby 2 days later. My doctor told me it was a fluke and we were young and healthy so just keep trying. I started doing all the fertility things I could find online (diet, supplements, etc) and then in June 2019, we found out we were pregnant again. Despite spotting twice in the first 8 weeks, we saw a heartbeat and was assured that there was no way we would lose this baby. At 12 weeks, I started spotting again and learned I had a missed miscarriage at 9 weeks 4 days. We were devastated, but I immediately called a highly recommended RE a week after our D&C. After lots of bloodwork, they told us there was nothing wrong and we just had bad luck. We were “young and healthy, so keep trying.” We left that practice for multiple reasons and went back to our midwife we had seen in our pregnancy. She tested my progesterone, which was low. We got pregnant the first time trying again in November, but were told that we probably weren’t since the test line was so faint and I started bleeding only a few days later. We did decide after that to start using progesterone after ovulation to see if that would help. We had another faint positive in Feb 2020, but once again wrote it off since it was the same as Nov. In March 2020, we found out we were pregnant again, but the line, although there, never got darker and I miscarried at almost 5 weeks on progesterone. They tested my progesterone and it came back very low despite being on medication so I was referred to another RE and they acknowledged that I was actually pregnant the two times we wrote it off as faulty tests. So with five miscarriages in 13 months, our new RE ran more bloodwork, did a saline ultrasound, and tested my husband’s sperm. Of course all our tests came back perfect so we fall in the unexplained infertility category. We completed two medicated timed intercourse cycles, but both failed. Our RE now believes my lining, although thick “enough,” struggles to get “defined enough,” so my babies implant poorly and my low progesterone doesn’t help that. We will be starting another cycle soon with clomid, FSH injections, trigger shot, and progesterone suppositories and are praying for a rainbow!

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      The only way I could have made it through the last few years is my trust in Christ and His faithfulness no matter the situation. It’s hard to stay joyful during this journey, but it is Christ’s goodness that gives me the strength to fight for that joy every single day. I know people question God’s goodness in the difficult things, but He weeps with those who mourn and rejoices with those who rejoice. We are never alone. And a way God has provided that comfort is through my loving husband walking side by side with me during all of this. Even though our fertility issues are “my” issue, my husband has never made me feel like that. He reminds me every day that he will love me even if it’s only ever just the two of us. Having a strong friendship in your marriage is definitely one of the best ways to fight infertility.
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      If I could tell women going through similar situations one thing, it’s to trust your gut and fight hard. After our first loss, I questioned my progesterone being low twice, but since I didn’t meet the typical symptoms I was ignored. When I got pregnant again and spotted, I asked about my progesterone twice again, but was brushed off. I don’t know if it would’ve saved our second baby, but I should’ve pushed harder to be tested. And when I went to our first RE, I had to fight with the doctor since he didn’t want to count our first loss since we never had an ultrasound. He questioned why I was even there. After getting our blood tests back and he wanted to proceed with IUI or IVF right away, I had no guilt in seeking help elsewhere. Don’t be afraid to stay somewhere your gut is telling you to run from. With our third loss, I pushed to start progesterone after ovulation versus after a positive pregnancy test. Even with our new RE, I question everything and he takes the time to explain and never tells me I’m crazy. Each loss has taught me to stand up for myself because no one else is going to do it for you.

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      I also want each of you to know you are not alone. Lean into your significant other and pray a lot. Get a pet if you don’t already have one-they’re the best for your extra sad days. And tell people what you need. Most of our family and friends don’t know the real struggles we face and they won’t unless we tell them. We can get upset that they didn’t know something and I know it’s upsetting that you have to tell them how to behave, BUT you’re gonna be upset either way, but at least if you tell them, you’ll be a little less upset, right?
      I’m praying for each of you every night. No matter the ending, know that God is writing your story and something good will come from it eventually.

       

       

              

       

       

       

      Kara's Story

      Kara's Story

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      Kara's Story

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      My husband and I got married in October 2011. We talked about having kids early, but I also wanted to run one Marathon before having kids. We agreed and September 2012 I ran my first Marathon, the end of September/beginning of October we started trying to get pregnant. I honestly thought I would get pregnant right away, my sister did so I just thought I would! Months and months went by and no pregnancy. In April 2013, I finally mentioned something to my doctor who suggested I get some blood work done. Everything came back normal for my body and we were told to just continue to try. Finally, in July 2013 I became pregnant. I was about 40 days out from my last cycle and my breast hurt SO bad so I decided on a Monday morning in July, I would take a pregnancy test. To my surprise, it was positive. My husband was working nights as a Police Officer and was not home yet. I called my mom crying because I had no idea what to do at that point. I remember the song on the radio that was playing in my bathroom as a I danced around and got ready for work impatiently waiting for my husband to get home from his shift and trying to decide how I was going to tell him. When he finally got home, I was finishing eating my bowl of Lucky Charms, pulled the test out of my pocket and immediately started to cry. He hugged me the tightest I’ve EVER felt. I went off to work happy as could be, he went to bed. 

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      Exactly one week later, I woke up with severe back pain and knew something wasn’t right. I called my husband (still working 3rd shift), it was around 12:30am. He was able to leave work and come home to me crying on the toilet because I had started to bleed. He called the nurse line, we decided it was best for me to come in right away in the morning. We both didn’t sleep much that night. I remember it so well, we slept with our heads down at the end of the bed where your feet go instead. 

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      The next morning we went to the doctor (at this point, I was about 5-6 weeks pregnant and didn’t even have an appointment set with my OBGYN yet). The doctor who we met with, we thinking we were miscarrying but wanted to make sure. I did blood work, and that Wednesday, July 29, it was confirmed, we lost our first baby. 

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      I was so ashamed. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Just over a week ago I was sitting in church listening to K-2 singing in the front & tears swelled up in my eyes longing for one of those little children to be mine. The next day I found out I was pregnant and now it’s all been ripped away from me. It felt so unfair and confusing. I felt like it was my fault, like I did something wrong and I wasn’t able to keep our baby alive. I believed I was a complete failure for losing our baby. 

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      My husband took a little time to try and heal. In the meantime, we bought a newer vehicle, a house we imagined bringing our baby home to, and of course a puppy. She was the best thing we could’ve done for me – it’s like she knew what I was struggling with. She’s a chocolate lab and her name is Remington Rose (middle name is named after my best friend’s middle name). Remi kept me busy and for sure needed me. Did I mention her and I share a birthday? It was truly meant to be. 

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      My husband and I continued to try and in the fall of 2014 my doctor FINALLY suggested I get a sonohysterogram. It was determined from the way I reacted to it (turned pale white, hurt like hell and wanted to vomit) that I most likely had endometriosis. We were told we could try on our own for a few months, but then should discuss surgery. At this point in trying to become pregnant, I was slowly accepting that I have become one of those “infertile women” that you hear very little about. I was so embarrassed. My body was not working the way it was supposed to to the point I now was having to consider surgery. We tried on our own for a few months and never got pregnant. Surgery was scheduled for December 19th, 2014. I spent that Christmas having to take a nap during the day because I was so exhausted from surgery, and from trying to handle all my emotions. Let’s not forget, holidays are ALWAYS hard on couples who are struggling to have kids. We don’t get the luxury of getting to pick out cute Christmas dresses or outfits, we don’t get to go Christmas shopping and buy gifts that our kids asked Santa for & we for sure don’t get to see our kids’ faces light up when they get to open those gifts on Christmas morning. We get to wake up to silence on Christmas morning. 

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      After surgery, my husband and I decided to get a little more aggressive with our journey. We decided to try IUI (intrauterine insemination). The first go around was February 2015, I was put on Letrozole, no pregnancy. The second go around, we tried Clomid. My body was apparently way to sensitive to it & we had to cancel that cycle due to to many mature eggs. We definitely tried on our own that month also, no pregnancy. I was put back on Letrozole with Follistim and the trigger shot ovridrel and we tried another IUI, no pregnancy. We decided we needed a break. The season was changing from spring to summer and decided it was best to just relax for a few months and do a little selfcare. We booked a trip to Mexico in October and said we’ll come back to the infertility heartbreak after that. A few weeks before we left, my anxiety about EVERYTHING started to really eat at me. I had a birthday in September which means another year older without a baby, the holidays were coming up as well as jumping back into the pills, shots, bad news, doctor’s office/waiting room etc. I was put on an anti-anxiety medication to help ease some stress.

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      When we got back from Vacation, we decided to just start trying again on our own. I bought ovulation kits with high hopes that’ll work. We rolled into 2016 with no baby yet. That summer, I had a friend reach out and tell me about a fertility specialist on the other side of the state in Appleton who does amazing work. She had stage 4 endometriosis and became pregnant one month after surgery with him. We decided to give him a shot. After figuring out insurance and our financial status, we decided to give him a shot. We met with him early November for initial appointment and physical, and he immediately wanted me to come in for surgery for endometriosis that grew back (the only thing that keeps endo away is birth control, menopause, or having a baby…or so I thought). My second surgery was scheduled for November 22nd, 2016, just 2 days before Thanksgiving. After that, my doctor wanted to make sure both tubes were open. We did another sonohysterogram declaring that only one tube was open, left side strong side. At some point from my last surgery until now, my right tube closed. In early February 2017, we were back to doing IUI’s, but this time with a specialist. I had so much hope and confidence in him, he really knew his stuff! He did not put me on Letrozole (said I did not need it), but just Follistim and the trigger shot. A one month cycle consisted of a day 3ish of my cycle ultrasound to make sure I didn’t have any cysts and things looked good, a few more ultrasounds days/a week later to see how mature my eggs are and see where my lining is at to determine dosage of Follistim and the trigger shot to make me ovulate about 36 hours later. This was about 3-4 ultrasounds and a final appointment for the actual IUI. Each ultrasound (took about 10min) and the actual IUI (20 min) was a 3ish hour car ride, one way. We did this for two months with our doctor with hopes it would lead us to our rainbow baby. The second month, I actually had to leave a work conference and drive about 2 hours to have the IUI done by myself. My husband drove 3 hours AFTER working night shift give his semen, then 3 hours home to sleep for a few hours then back to working shift that night. You really do whatever it takes to try and get pregnant when longing for a baby. No pregnancy came from this doctor. 

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      A few months and another puppy later (Remi is now 4 and our new puppy, a male fox red lab named Teak Clifford came into our life as a spunky, loyal, protector of mom), my best friend reached out and suggested I get a good allergy test done. A place in Green Bay and another 3ish hours away from home. With this specialist in September 2017 (another birthday passed during this specific time), I did a food allergy test as well as check out my hormone levels. My food allergy test came back to the following foods causing inflammation; dairy, rice, barely, black pepper, eggs, corn, mushrooms, & a few seafood I’ve never touched. My hormone test came back with my cortisol being shot by afternoon leaving me exhausted and my adrenal glands being really low also. I was put on a strict diet to get rid of the following foods (have you ever noticed that corn is in EVERYTHING??) & put on a supplement regimen that helped support my body better. After almost a year of doing this, & feeling SO MUCH better overall – so much more energy, no headaches, not much bloating anymore, we decided to get my gut checked out as well. This required me to capture some of my feces and put it in test tubes and throw it in the mail. Yes, I know, TMI, but imagine my thoughts actually having to do this. GROSS! Again, willing to do anything to get pregnant. I ended up having a yeast overload in my gut which was causing some serious issues. I thought my diet was already strict having to stay away from my food allergies, but added to this now is 5grams of sugar or less, 50grams of carbs or less and put garlic and coconut oil on everything… did I mention I am a runner so I enjoy the carb loading before long runs. I now how to teach my body to burn extra fat instead of carbs while running which definitely did not feel like the same energy to me. I also had to switch up my supplements to kill the bacteria/yeast in my gut including taking a probiotic. 

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      After two weeks of this new diet, staying on my food restrictions & taking my supplements I ended up with a yeast infection (again, maybe TMI). I figured I would just call my doctor and get an antibiotic and all would be well, but since I was seeing a specialist I reached out to her first. She informed me to NOT call my doctor and NOT take any antibiotics because that’ll really ruin my gut even more. She then explained I will have to put a garlic clove up my vagina while I sleep at night. Garlic kills yeast in your gut. I made her explain it to me twice – yes, thread a garlic clove (after removing the skin of it) and insert it like a tampon, not TOO far though. I was so weirded out, but thought ‘ok, if it helps’. I kid you not, after doing it for 3 nights & waking up to the taste of garlic and the bedroom smelling of garlic, my yeast infection was gone (cheap and all natural cure for a yeast infection, yay!). I continued to do this for a few more months and had everything but my food allergies retested. My body was damn near on point for hormones and gut bacteria. My specialist told me I was incredibly close to perfection. My husband and I continued to try to get pregnant. January 2019 rolled around and I started to get severe cramps. I went to the emergency room wanting relief. After an ultrasound, it was determined I should have my closed tube taken out. I was divested. I felt I was getting closer to the end of our journey, then this news. I knew our chances of getting pregnant were still there with just my left tube being open, but our odds dropped. I was a one tubed woman trying to get pregnant. My heart was slowly breaking. My third surgery was scheduled early February 2019. After surgery, my doctor told me some good news. The pain was NOT coming from my closed tube, there was a sack of fluid and old blood that was connecting my tube to my uterus. My doctor removed it, checked for endometriosis (there was little to NO endo since changing my diet!!), did a sonohysterogram in which BOTH tubes were open and ready for action. I was relieved and SO grateful. I am back to being a two tubed woman with better chances of becoming pregnant! 

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      My husband and I continued to try on our own. Knowing I did not have any endo, my hormones were in check, my gut was good…. This had to be it for us! 2019 rolled on and no pregnancy. We had a one final option we were willing to explore, IVF (In vitro fertilization). I started to look into it in the fall of 2019, and some friends of ours kept mentioning their fertility clinic (another 2.5 hours away) that ended with a beautiful, healthy baby girl. The financial part scared me. The shots and firm yet always having to be available scheduling seemed like a pain in my ass. Realistically, I was beyond terrified. I’ve always been that girl on Instagram watching behind the scenes all these women go through such a traumatizing time in their life to have a baby. Nope, not for me. Can’t do it. Won’t do it. Don’t think I can handle it. After talking to myself a lot, bringing God into the decision and deliberating with my husband, we decided to go for it. Our first appointment was the end of February 2020. The doctor was amazing, the staff was friendly & my confidence in myself began to grow. I wrote out the check for $24,500 & we left our appointment. I felt sick, dizzy but yet somehow still hopeful. During that appointment we did a trial transfer. I had to have a full bladder and the doctor took a look to make sure I had a nice, homey uterus for our little embryo we’d be transferring. He noticed a few cysts that I needed to clean up before getting going on our process. Surgery number 4, yes 4, was scheduled for March 18, 2020. Surgery went well, but two days later, we got the call from our fertility clinic that they have to shut down due to COVID-19. I felt disappointment and unhappy, but also a little secretively relieved because I didn’t have to start IVF. IVF to me felt like one of those things where you just want to get it over and done with and feel that relief when you’re done, kind of like your first day at a new job. You’re really nervous, don’t know what to expect, not sure if you want to do it, but at the end of the day it was pretty ok! We sat in limbo for just over a month waiting for them to open back up. We got the call towards the end of April and I got my period on April 23rd – it was almost perfect timing. I started birth control day 3 of my cycle, Dexamethosone on April 30th and had my baseline ultrasound on May 4th (my last birth control pill was taken this day). Due to COVID-19, I had to go to all my appointments by myself… as if IVF wasn’t bad enough, I now had to do this with my husband there holding my hand. I drove the 2.5 hours to my fertility clinic alone, went to the appointment alone and drove back alone. A lot of time people who are going through infertility will tell how lonely it feels. This emotion is very real and going to the appointments alone only multiplied that emotion. I got the ok to start my stims on May 9th, which also meant no more running, lifting, biking, swimming, only walking. I was about to enter the most stressful part of my life without my stress relievers? Oh man!

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      I started with 4 vials of Menopur (a shot in my stomach). The next day was Mother’s Day, a day that can feel very hard and depressing for those of us going through infertility along with those who’ve lost their mother, lost a child, and so on. When I got up that morning I went to immediately take my 4 vials of Menopur. I decided to facetime my parents to first, wish my mom a Happy Mother’s Day and second, so they could be involved in the shot taking. As I was finishing up the last bit of the shot, I remember tunnel vision and ended up fainting. My husband dropped the phone and tried his best to catch me, but I still ended up smacking my head on our kitchen tile floor. I came to a few seconds later not knowing what had happened. As if Mother’s Day wasn’t hard enough, here have a small bruise on the side of your forehead from hitting your head on the floor from fainting from shots due to IVF. 

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      Monday morning’s lab work came really early and by Monday afternoon I received a phone call from my fertility clinic asking me to come in for an ultrasound the next day as well as switching up the medication schedule, 3 vials of Menopur in the morning and 1 at night. I of course agreed, knowing the 4 families I was supposed to talk with on the phone would all have to be rescheduled. I drove up 2.5 hours for my ultrasound on May 12th. Everything looked good, but we continued to switch the schedule up. May 14th came, and I drove another 2.5 hours by myself one way to another ultrasound and have lab work done. I also was able to start my ganirelix acetate, which prevent premature ovulation (I was now up to 3 shots a day in my stomach). My last ultrasound for the week was done on Saturday morning at 8:40am, that means leaving the house just before 6am. Thank God my husband could drive me to this one. Things looked great and later that day we found out Egg Retrieval was scheduled for May 19th so Trigger shot was to be taken 10:15pm on Sunday night. 

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      Egg Retrieval was good to us and my husband was able to come in with me! We had 13 eggs removed. I went home, happy, hopeful and exhausted. The end was so close, I could feel it. At this point, I was feeling very confident and positive. We were able to freeze 2 embabies that day and the rest we’d hear about in the coming days. 

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      Transfer Day was FINALLY here and we also found out besides the one we’d be transferring today, we have 4 more that were able to freeze. This is the day we infertiles take the shots for, deal with all the emotions and trauma for, the day we can finally say we are pregnant until proven otherwise. I remember the actual transfer SO vividly. I was given a picture of our little embaby, I had to pee like none other, and the valium was making me feel quite goofy. As I laid there and the doctor transferred part of my husband and part of me into my uterus, I prayed the hardest I have EVER prayed in my life. I asked God to let this be it. Let this little embaby implant and grow big and healthy in my uterus. I prayed that this journey he had me on was THE HARDEST almost 8 years of my life, and I also thanked him for giving me the strength to continue on the journey to get us right here in that moment, the moment I became pregnant and knew it. That is ONE thing I loved about IVF. I get to know specific dates! The story I was going to be able to tell our baby someday was going to be a wild one, as well as tell him or her how hard it was… but I wouldn’t have changed anything because it brought me him or her. 

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      The two week wait was tolerable, but not by much. On June 3rd, I could finally go in to see if I was pregnant or not. I had to wait all day to finally find out, for the first time in almost 7 years, I was pregnant. My HCG was 151. More bloodwork was done on Friday June 5th to confirm my pregnancy in which case it jumped to 324, “Kara you are indeed pregnant”. I was overwhelmed, shocked, baffled, but so incredibly hopeful that this was going to be our rainbow baby. FINALLY, it was our turn. I never thought our very first transfer would lead to a pregnancy!

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      The next few weeks were amazing. I had very little pregnancy symptoms (I am the women who can’t wait for morning sickness and food aversions etc…), which frustrated me a little, but I counted it as a blessing. On June 22nd, we went in for our first ultrasound. I was 6w6d and I was able to see the most beautiful sight I have ever seen, our babies heartbeat. It was the fastest little flicker, it was real and it was finally MY baby. I was joyous, but still standoffish. We never made it this far with our last baby, so even though this was absolutely amazing, it was frightening. Would I lose this baby also? My mind started to play that game and I started to go down the google rabbit hole. I was still feeling zero pregnancy symptoms, so it was hard for me to accept I was actually pregnant.  

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      On July 6th, my fear became true. There was no heartbeat anymore. We had a silent miscarriage and lost our baby. I had a D&C on July 8th and my heart broke completely in half as I was wheeled down to the operating room, alone, knowing this was my last moments with my baby. I would never get to see him/her. How in the world do you love someone so much you never got to meet? This baby was supposed to be it. My almost 8 year struggle was supposed to be over. This isn’t how it was supposed to turn out. My baby was supposed to sing in front of church in the a few years with the rest of her kindergarten class.  The ONLY thing that got my through this mess, was the day we found out about the miscarriage it stormed in the afternoon, but right after was the most beautiful rainbow. That rainbow was God’s promise telling me to not be sad, our baby is safely in Heaven with him and both our children are in the arms of Jesus. 

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      We had genetic testing done on our baby. Results came back showing our baby girl passed due to Trisomy 16 which is the most common reason miscarriages happen. Our fertility clinic reached out and empathized with us. My consult with my doctor for our next steps started with a 10 minute apology and explanation making sure I was not blaming myself for this. 

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      Tomorrow, August 12th, I will be 5 weeks post D&C. I am still waiting for my cycle to come so we can do our first Frozen Embryo Transfer. I am starting to become impatient, but know I have to trust God and have a little faith my body knows what it’s doing. Just needs more time to heal, as do I. 

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      The things that have helped me the most throughout this journey was my TTC sisters. They’ve been there, they FULLY get it. If you are at all able, connect with those who are struggling as well. This is one of the shittiest positions to be in and if you don’t have people in your corner who understand the whys and hows of infertility, it can be awful and feel even lonelier. I attended an InfertileAF summit in April 2019. It was a room FULL of women going through the same thing as me, but in different ways. It was an unexpected connection you feel with complete strangers. My family was also there for me. They had to put themselves out there a little to handle the emotions that come with someone going through infertility, but the most important thing behind that is that they’re there. Sometimes it’s not that they understand (because you really can’t unless you’ve been through it), it’s just the simple fact that they’re there for you to listen, cry and laugh with. Lastly, I think it can go without saying (but shouldn’t), my husband was a real trooper through it all. Infertility is a rollercoaster and things can change SO quickly. He knew how to handle me in every situation, how to talk to me down from the extreme emotions as well knew when I just need space and silence, with a foot rub of course. 

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      Advice I would give someone going through this, is simple. Hang on. Hang on cause it’s a rough ride. Hang on because giving up can’t be an option if you want it bad enough (nothing against those that chose the child free life after infertility). Hang on because just when you think you’re in the clear at 39 weeks pregnant and you finally bring that miracle home, it’s a whole new ride. 

                                                 

       

        

      Jordan's Story

      Jordan's Story

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      @JORDANBROOKEB

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      “Hi friends! We’re Jarod and Jordan and we live in sunny Florida with our sweet rescue pup, Cody! We have been together for nine years and married for three. We started trying for a baby in February of 2018 and we had been unsuccessful yet hopeful for the first few months. Unfortunately, we got pregnant and suffered a miscarriage in August and then again in September of 2018. We were absolutely devastated to have gone through a similar series of events in such a short period of time. 


      After almost two years of trying, we decided to see a fertility specialist in January of 2020 and found out that Jarod had low sperm count and quality due to a condition called variocele or a varicose vein ‘down there’. His urologist felt confident that if he were to have surgery to correct the vein, the sperm count and quality would improve and we could potentially get pregnant naturally or have an IUI. We were so excited for the possibility to avoid intensive treatment and that our infertility story would end on a happy, relatively painless & much less expensive note. Jarod had a successful varicocelectomy on May 29th.

      And then came June 5th, 2020.

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      While waiting for a bloodwork appointment with our fertility specialist, I started to feel a pain radiating throughout my entire abdomen. I was rushed to the ER to find out that a softball sized cyst had ruptured on my left ovary, my belly was filling with blood and I needed emergency surgery. Due to COVID, I was alone in the ER and throughout my hospital stay. I was alone when I found out that while the cyst removal was successful, my reproductive organs were in bad shape. My Fallopian tubes appeared to be matted shut and our only option of conceiving a biological child would be through IVF. We started with the answer that the only thing hindering us from getting pregnant was Jarod’s little swimmers. Now, we will need a little bit of science and a lot of love to bring our “one day” baby into the world.

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      Infertility was never on our radar as something we would deal with personally and in our marriage. We could not have gotten through the last few years without each other and the support of our family and friends. So many couples struggle with infertility behind a closed door and we’re proof that sometimes when you open that door, it can be the difference between coping and healing. My biggest piece of advice to anyone walking through infertility right now is to find someone that you can talk to during the good and the really bad. Sharing your story can lift a weight off your shoulders that you never knew you were carrying and you have no idea who needs to hear or read your words. It truly takes a village to bring a child into the world. We are warriors and we are not alone! 💛

      Christina's Story

      Christina's Story

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      Christina @hopestrongbook

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      Have you ever had an experience that you didn't understand at the time but when you looked back, it made perfect sense? I guess in a way I could sum up my entire infertility journey in that way. But one specific instance stands out in my mind as I write this; one that gives me chills to recall and that I have not shared before. Two years into infertility, my boss gifted my husband and I with a Reiki massage session. I hadn't heard of Reiki and didn't know it was a form of energy healing (meant to heal the self and become whole), but one thing we both desperately needed was a massage! I made an appointment and the Reiki practitioner, a soft spoken, sweet Japanese woman, showed up to our home. During my session, she was massaging my belly and gently said, "I see a little boy trying to plant a fig tree in your belly". Huh? I was on the verge of tears. She continued to say she saw me as a little girl, scared and hiding, and that I was holding on to things that were blocking my womb. I definitely had past hurts that had stayed with me. At this point, I was a sobbing mess. The massage ended and I sat reflecting on what this stranger had just said to me. As a Christian, I am mindful of the kind of energy I allow in, but the words this woman spoke felt powerful and safe, perplex but reassuring. I felt so desperate for any thread of hope for myself to become a mother that I welcomed this new information and perceived it as a hopeful sign. It would be four years of infertility before that little boy would choose my belly to plant a fig tree.

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      My husband and I married in 2014 and were excited to start a family. We tried the old fashioned way for the first year. We then chose a holistic approach of acupuncture, Chinese herbs, altered diet and tracking ovulation for another year. I did an HSG within that time as well. I was in denial that anything was actually wrong and was convinced it was just a matter of timing. But my gut knew otherwise. I stopped drinking alcohol, eliminated toxins from the home, visited a sobadora and researched supplements that promoted pregnancy. However, none of this resulted in a pregnancy. I was starting to feel the weight of this battle and so I took a break and I broke my silence. I shared our struggle with others and started journaling my feelings and experiences. We moved on to IUI in the third year. After three unsuccessful IUIs, devastation started to set in. I had been diagnosed with a t-shaped uterus and told I may never have children. We then made the tough decision to do IVF. I couldn't believe this was my life - an infertile woman in her 30's. I felt defeated many days, but determined every day. What helped me the most through this time was praying, writing, filling my head with the readings of devotionals and uplifting content, focusing on becoming a mother, rather than what could go wrong, connecting with my husband and marriage, having a community of women to confide in and working to end the stigma around this issue. 

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      The very first day we met with our new IVF doctor, he discovered I had been misdiagnosed. There was no t-shaped uterus, but I did have posterior adenomyosis. He treated that, along with removing several uterine polyps, before beginning my IVF cycle. My first egg retrieval resulted in 15 eggs - 10 viable, 7 fertilized. Of the 7, just one made it. Devastation, panic, exhaustion and anxiety hit me hard. We would have to do another IVF cycle. But I hadn't come this far to give up. So, two months later, I did my second egg retrieval, which resulted in 13 eggs - 11 viable, 8 fertilized, resulting in 6 healthy embryos! This was a turning point in our journey. On October 27, 2017, we asked our doctor to transfer our strongest embryo and it stuck! We were in disbelief that we were finally pregnant! On July 16, 2018, we welcomed our son, Kai. He happened to be our only embryo from our first round of IVF, making him all the more special to us. He was and is a perfect miracle and blessing in every way.

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      Infertility blindsided me, but was an opportunity. An opportunity to really see and know myself. To let go. To cleanse. To refine. To become vulnerable and authentic. To draw closer to God. To get in touch with a meaning and purpose to my pain. To deeply connect and comfort others in their struggle. To learn the true value of gratitude. To lean on hope, rather than give in to doubt. Infertility led me to write my book, Hope Strong.

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      Infertility is a series of lifting yourself up off the floor over and over again. My advice to those on their journey is to plant your seeds and envision it bearing fruit. Be gentle with yourself and take breaks to recharge. Remind yourself that there is a process to everything that we must surrender to. Don't forget your spouse or marriage along the way. Be mindful of your thoughts and words, as they hold the power to create our reality. And above all else, try to remain hopeful. Despite the tough road traveled, all of the pieces will come together and create your unique beautiful testimony. Choose to believe. ♡ Love, Christina