USPS IS EXPERIENCING DELAYS*CURRENT TURN AROUND TIME 8-12 BUSINESS DAYS*
0 Cart
Added to Cart
    You have items in your cart
    You have 1 item in your cart
      Total

      Infertility and Beyond

      Tiffani's Story

      Tiffani's Story

      (@tiffani.babral)

      .

       

      .

      In February of 2016 we started trying for a baby. With both having kids of our own from previous relationships we thought it would be quite easy to conceive. We couldn’t have been more wrong at the time. Six months in we started having testing done. Labs, scans, you name it we did it. We literally got zero answers. Our doctors told us to come back at one year if we still hadn’t gotten pregnant and he would refer us out to a fertility specialist. So we hit one year, but we didn’t go. We truly thought we would be blessed on our own. We prayed and we prayed. Year two and then year three rolls around. In May of 2019 we decided to see a specialist. Again we never thought we would be here. We started more testing. Blood draws, scans, meds etc. we did it all. One scan I had was even inconclusive. Can you imagine the frustration!? Yet still the REST of our testing came back fine to which we would be given a bandage of “unexplained secondary infertility” we spoke with our doctor and were given options. Options that could be costly (pending insurance) and none of which were at any way going to be easy on my body. We started fundraising for meds to start IVF with ICSI. So in October we started meds and started the IVF process. The emotional toll these drugs put on my body was unreal and they physical side effects were at times unbearable. Multiple monitoring appointments, blood draws etc. We went in for egg retrieval on November 11. We got 13 eggs, 11 were mature enough to inject. 9 fertilized and we yielded 4 embryos to freeze. My body was in overdrive so at my retrieval I had fluid in my lining from all the drugs so we skipped a fresh transfer. Fast forward to December 4. Our very first transfer. I started testing at 4 days post transfer and to my surprise it was positive! But cut short. Each day the lines would go lighter and lighter. I knew what this meant. The pain I felt was indescribable. After nearly four years of waiting I felt as if I was so close to our baby yet in an instant it was ripped from my very fingers. I could barely get out of bed. I forced myself to eat and I mourned the loss of our baby. All Around Christmas time at that. So we took a month to figure out what to do. We regrouped, weighed our options and then yet again we proceeded. 

      .

      .

      After this loss our doctor suggested I have a laparoscopy to explore my “possible” tubal issue (that test that was inconclusive was a x-ray of my Fallopian tubes) HSG.  Still no one was sure. Even my doctor said by looking at the scan he wasn’t convinced one way or another. The only way to know was the surgery. Exploratory surgery at that. I booked the surgery but remained uneasy that I needed it. I struggled and struggled. The doctor told me if we proceeded I could be high risk for ectopic pregnancy and lose my tube all together. Still I wasn’t convinced. After much prayer we decided to try one more time before doing surgery. On February 24 we went for our second transfer. It’s at that time I really felt god nudge me and say I’ve got this, let me handle it. Much to my surprise IT WORKED! In that moment I knew that god was leading me the entire time to be obedient to what he had been laying on my heart all along. He had it covered 100% I trusted in that I let go and he provided us the sweetest gift we could have asked for. At our first ultrasound we learned baby was in fact in the uterus. What a praise. After doctors telling me I was high risk for ectopic pregnancy I felt like I had beat the odds and I was on top of the world. On June 27 we found out we’re having a BOY! 

      .

      .

      I had people tell me I’m young and I have time. That never meant I wanted to suffer four years of the most heartbreaking journey. Or even that I have a child I should be thankful. My son has wanted a sibling since he was 5 and he’s now 9. To be clear we are thankful, but our family was not complete. I could write a novel on what not to say to someone struggling. But I’ll say this instead. If someone you know is struggling with infertility just be there. The best thing I had during this entire process was a village that stood for miles behind me I couldn’t have been more thankful.

      .

      .

      My body was broken and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever endured. All around me women were pregnant. Some women had multiple babies in the time I had tried for one. My heart was jealous, why couldn’t I!? Why am I broken. Why is this happening to me? I don’t understand, I didn’t understand. I may never. I lashed out. I was struggling internally. But I’m here to tell you if you feel this way it’s normal. You can feel all of these things. You can be upset. But don’t stay there. Press on warrior.

      .

      Infertility changed me as a person. It created so much fear and anxiety. I now suffer from ptsd from going through such a traumatic experience. It’s been said that a women with infertility and loss experience stress and trauma on the level of a patient with a disease like cancer or HIV. I believe that to be true. I can’t walk into my ob appointments without massive anxiety that something could be wrong. My brain has changed the way I think forever. But this is me. Being pregnant during a pandemic hasn’t helped that. I’ve attended all my appointments and scans alone. All of which I assumed my husband who waited as long as I did would get to experience. 

      .

      .

      I’ve met some incredible women on this journey, women I’ve cried with, they’ve felt my pain. We have bonded over the WORST thing in the entire world INFERTILITY. These women cheer you on at their weakest point and let you vent when you feel like you’re breaking. These women are selfless, these people are my rock. 

       

      .

      .

      .

      Allyson Wise

      Allyson Wise

      .
      .
      Allyson Wise @allysonsarah
      .
      .
      Shane and I were married in June of 2017, and like most couples, had talked about children. However, we weren't in a huge rush - we were just out of college, and wanted to take some time to renovate our new house and hang out with friends. After almost a year of marriage, we decided that it would be a good idea for me to come off birth control. I stopped taking the pill in February of 2018, but we still avoided having sex during the fertile week. By May 2018, we knew we were ready to really start trying. I already knew when I ovulated, and we expected it to be easy. 
      .
      .
      Months started to go by, and I grew increasingly impatient. With this impatience came stress, and the stress caused my periods to become irregular and difficult to predict. After about six months and a few really irregular periods, we scheduled an appointment with my OBGYN. She was dismissive, and said that we were "young and had nothing to worry about." We tried for a few more months, and I found that I  couldn't take the monthly rollercoaster of hope and disappointment anymore - I was going insane doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So at that point, we decided we needed to take a break.
      .
      .
      I used this time to really clean up my diet, and I even switched companies to try to put myself in a lower stress environment. Even though we weren't actively trying, every single decision I made was geared towards my fertility. My periods became regular again, and when we were ready to start trying again in August of 2019, I was certain that it would happen right away. I made an appointment with a new OBGYN, just so that I could meet her before we got pregnant. 
      .
      .
      At this appointment, I explained our previous experience and she immediately ordered infertility testing for the both of us. I was so confused - her response had been SO drastically different than my first doctor's response. I wasn't ready to admit that we were actually going to need help, but somehow we found ourselves undergoing diagnostic testing anyways. After what seemed like the longest month of our lives, we had an answer as to why it had been so difficult. We were dealing with Oligoasthenoteratozoospermia - otherwise known as low sperm count, low sperm motility, and low sperm morphology. 
      .
      .
      We were absolutely devastated. We were advised to bypass timed intercourse, and we were referred straight to the fertility clinic. Shane saw a reproductive urologist, and had a varicoelectomy performed in December to remove a very small varicocele. Because the varicocele was so small, the doctor didn't believe that it would help sperm quality too much, so after just a few months we were ready to begin treatment. 
      .
      .
      In February of 2020, we had our first IUI. Everything went perfectly - we even met the desired threshold for sperm count post wash! We were SO hopeful, but two weeks later, we found that it was unsuccessful and we were absolutely crushed once again. We jumped into another IUI right away. 
      .
      .
      For IUI#2, we doubled my dose of Letrozole in hopes of getting multiple follicles. However, my body didn't respond the way we had expected. We found that we only had one follicle, and that it was ready to trigger on cycle day 11 - which is REALLY early for me. Because of this unexpected timing, the abstinence period before IUI was off, and we ended up with a very poor count on the day of IUI. Our doctor tried to pool together the fresh sample with some frozen samples that we had for backup, but we still didn't meet the desired threshold. 
      .
      .
      We walked out of that IUI feeling really dejected. The two week wait flew by, and I didn't think much of it. It couldn't possibly have worked if our first cycle hadn't worked. When I went in for beta, I told them not to call me with results - I already knew it was negative. A few days passed, and I still hadn't gotten my period, I was just about to take an HPT, when I noticed spotting. I held off. By the next morning, I had gotten my period, and it seemed to have come with a vengeance. I was confused, but I brushed it off. 
      .
      .
      The next week, we had a consultation with my doctor about moving on to IVF. During this phone call, she informed me that my period had been late due to a very low level chemical pregnancy. This chemical pregnancy gave us hope that our gametes could combine, and we felt hopeful about our upcoming IVF cycle. We scheduled our appointments for baseline blood work - we felt so ready to move forward.
      .
      .
      Two weeks later, we got the call that our cycle had been cancelled indefinitely due to COVID-19. 
      .
      .
      I called the clinic incessantly, and FINALLY in May, they said that they were open and taking clients! We began estrogen priming at the beginning of May, and I started stims on May 23. I was anxious - I knew that IVF wasn't a sure thing. But I was also SO hopeful that due to our age and diagnosis, we would end up with more embryos than we knew what to do with. 
      .
      .
      The process went SO smoothly for me - I didn't have too many side effects from the injections, and retrieval and recovery were easy. But a week after retrieval, we got the news that only three embryos had made it to freeze. We were disappointed that the cycle hadn't quite met our expectations, but we were still grateful for those three embryos. We sent samples of our embryos to be PGT-A tested, and found that two out of the three were chromosomally normal. At this point, we have two lil embryos frozen. We hope that these two embryos will be our children, but we know that anything can happen in infertility. 
      .
      .
      We will do an ERA this coming week, and hopefully transfer one of our two embryos next month. It hasn't been easy trying to find a balance between being hopeful and being realistic, but today we're hopeful. We're hopeful that our embryos will bring living children, but we know that even if they don't, we will be OK. 
      .
      .
      2. What has helped you most through this time?
      Therapy. Therapy therapy therapy. I think a lot of my pain from infertility came from this self imposed narrative (or maybe societal narrative?)  that my worth was somehow tied to my ability to become a mother. Therapy has helped me to sort out some of my self-worth issues, and it has made me realize that there are SO many beautiful aspects to my life and my personality that aren't related to being a mom. Talking about my journey publicly has also helped me through this time, because hiding this journey made it feel shameful, when it's NOT! 
      .
      .
      3. What advice would you give to those going through something similar?
      I have a few:
      • I feel like this one is said so often, and I know that it never really made me feel better because I hate that others are struggling too, but you aren't alone. If you want to find a community, you can.
      • It's ok to be sad, it's ok to be negative. Your pain is valid, no matter where you are in this journey. Your uterus has no idea how you're feeling, so let yourself feel all the feelings, it's OK.
      • Don't beat yourself up over the outcomes of your fertility treatment - the outcome of your treatment isn't a reflection of anything but chance. 
      • Your worth is NOT tied to your ability to reproduce. There are so so so many different parts of you that existed before infertility, and they are still there. 
      •  Infertility is SO HARD. But YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS. Humans are resilient. 

      .

      .

      Jaimie Selwa's Story

      Jaimie Selwa's Story

      .
      .
      Jaimie Selwa  @Infertilechronicles
      .
      .
      Hi, I'm Jaimie (from @infertilechronicles) and my husband is Andrew, and we're infertile. Well actually I am infertile, he's fertile. His sperm is fine, it's my blocked tubes that are preventing us from having a child naturally. Therefore, together we really are infertile. 
      .
      .
      We're 3 years into our journey to have a baby. To this point, we tried naturally for a year until we sought help from a Reproductive Endocrinologist. For the next year and a half we did some testing, we tried 8 rounds of Clomid and 3 IUIs. In July 2019, we were still unsuccessful with every attempt. My doctor decided to go in for surgery to see if he could find anything. To our surprise, and his, he found that my tubes were severely blocked with scar tissue, likely from a previous infection. He did the best he could to clear out the scar tissue. We were then instructed to try naturally for 3 months before going back in for another HSG test to see if my tubes closed again. After zero success naturally our second HSG revealed that my tubes were blocked again. In November 2019, we found out IVF would be our best changes for success. 
      .
      .
      We started prepping for IVF in January 2020, and had our egg retrieval mid-March. We got 15 eggs total, 12 fertilized and 4 made it to blastocyst. We then did a fresh transfer that unfortunately failed. We're currently waiting to see if our last FET was successful. 
      .
      .
      Connecting with other women and couples going through infertility has helped me the most. I created my Instagram account in hopes to help other women and couples feel like they're not alone. In reality, I needed this community more than I knew. The support, well wishes, reassurance, prayers and genuine connections have helped me through so much. Infertility is already so isolating but meeting people like me and my husband helped us feel less lonely. .
      .
      .
      My best advice would be to find humor where you can. Laugh at yourself every once in a while. It's such a serious topic but there's so many weird things that go on. Dates with Wanda. Eating Pineapple Core. Your doctor seeing your lady parts more than your significant other. Butt shots. You name it, it's all pretty weird. And if you can't laugh at yourself, who will? Well other people probably will but you'll be missing out. 
      .
      .

      Maiclaire Smith's Story

      Maiclaire Smith's Story

      .
      .
      Maiclaire Smith's Story: @prequeltoparenthood
      .
      .
      My name is Maiclaire and I’m 43 years old. I met my husband when I was 38 and we got married when I was 41 and he was 47. It was the first marriage for both of us (this surprises so many people!). We had a dream wedding in Bora Bora and the most amazing honeymoon on a yacht sailing around French Polynesia in April 2018.
      .
      .
      When we got home from our honeymoon, I had my IUD removed and to our surprise, we found out I was pregnant only 6 weeks later in June 2018. We were shocked and thrilled! We lost our first baby at 11weeks 5days. The miscarriage was very physically and emotionally traumatic. 
      .
      .
      After that we had troubles conceiving, so we eventually wound up at a fertility clinic after 6 months. We started with IUI. We got pregnant again on our second IUI, but lost the baby at 9 weeks. Then we turned to IVF. Our first IVF cycle was cancelled on day 9 due to poor response to the protocol. We were so frustrated because we were paying out of pocket for everything. Round two went a little better. We retrieved 5 eggs, but only one fertilized and it did not become a blastocyst. We were left with nothing and felt very lost.
      .
      .
      At that point we decided to switch clinics. We found a doctor we love that treats us like we are a unique case and not just another couple doing IVF. She recommended we try mini-IVF because of my previous poor response to higher stimulation. We also signed up to do 3 rounds of early-embryo banking where they freeze the embryos right after fertilization and then grow to blasts and PGS test all at once after the 3 cycles. Many ask why they do this. It's cheaper, that's why. And for us, after spending $80k we were ready to take any help we could find. 
      .
      .
      For our third round we retrieved 5 eggs and only one fertilized again. After this I did a lot of research on improving fertilization rates. I sent a few scientific papers to my doctor asking if we could add a calcium ionophore solution to help with fertilization. It was something that had shown to help in certain studies, but it was not a guarantee. She agreed it was a good idea and recommended we also try PICSI (physiological ICSI). We had always done ICSI, but she thought the more sophisticated version might be a good idea. 
      .
      .
      I started priming for our 4th round when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. During my baseline ultrasound I had a cyst and they cancelled my cycle. Normally this would mean just waiting a few weeks to restart, but with COVID-19 I was stuck in limbo waiting like so many others. After a nearly 2 month delay we did our fourth round of IVF. This time we retrieved 4 eggs and ALL FOUR FERTILIZED! This was a huge step forward.
      .
      .
      We tried to go directly into our fifth and final cycle, but once again during my baseline ultrasound I had cysts. This time there were 9 of them and they were huge (up to 34mm), so I was put on hold again waiting for them to resolve. I finally started stims for my fifth round of IVF on June 24 and am looking forward to a retrieval in early July. We pray we will get a few more embryos. After this cycle we will thaw our 5 frozen embryos and grow them all to blasts together and pray we can get one healthy embryo.
      .
      .
      After our two miscarriages and two failed rounds of IVF I decided to write a book. I was frustrated with the lack of awareness of infertility and pregnancy loss and I wanted to do something about it.  With my book “Prequel to Parenthood: An Infertility Story.” I hope to help others during their journeys or those supporting them through it.
      .
      .
      I have a really close support system of friends that have helped me so much, a few of whom are currently during IVF as well, which has helped me so much. Podcasts have also helped me a lot - especially Infertile AF and Beat Infertility. And in recent months, I've discovered the amazing fertility community on Instagram. I've recently been connected with the Fertility Rally and their support groups which have really helped.
      .
      .
      I'm sure I'm not alone when I say when we started IVF I was lost. I tried to do research to learn, but I didn't know what I didn't know. I assumed my doctor knew what was best for me and that was not the case. So my advice is to try and educate yourself as much as possible. Surround yourself with people that have been through this and learn from them. And advocate for yourself. Don't just assume a doctor or clinic knows what's best. You know your body better than anyone. Fight for it!
      .
      .
      One of the things I talk about a lot in my book is the impact of miscarriage. Miscarriage is very common, yet for some reason no one talks about it. When I had my first miscarriage I didn't know what to expect. I had to be rushed to the ER because of extreme blood loss. The whole time I kept questioning how no one talks about this. This is why I have a goal to help raise awareness and make miscarriage and infertility part of the dominant narriative of our culture.
      .
      .
      .
      .

      Maria Cummings Story

      Maria Cummings Story

      .
      .
                               Here is Maria Cummins Story: @mariacummingss
      .
      .
      My husband and I have a crazy story! We started dating in March 2017 got engaged April 2017 ( we had been friends for 6 years before) and I knew he was the one and we discussed I would finished my last pack of birth control in March 2017 and I thought oh we will pregnant in tops a few months... HA! Fast forward to July 2018 I found out I have hypothyroidism then in may 2019 I started my first round of Clomid. I was so excited and I thought this was it! After 3 rounds of clomid and 3 rounds of letrozole in December 2019. After the last failed attempt at letrozole I scheduled my HSG and found the only hope I had was my tubes were open and looked good. We finally hit our breaking point with clomid giving me breathing problems/panic attacks we decided to say “ the ball is in the gods court” for my mental health I had to take a break and I was/still am at peace with this decision. The next step when we are ready is for my husband to get his “ swimmers on jet ski’s” checked (as he calls it 😂) then we can go from there if IUI/IVF is a better option.
      .
      .
      While we have been on our break I have tried many hobbies to pick try I’ve done watercolor painting, making soap, and journaling, if I could recommend anything I would say journal because I really enjoy looking back on our progress and how far we have come and it’s so freeing to let all your emotions out. The best advice I could give is don’t forget your partner is in the same boat with you even at times you may think I’m more upset than he is that’s probably not true he’s just as upset as you are and be easy on each other because you have the same
      goal. 💜