Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Staying Close To Your Spouse While Battling Infertility


Anyone whose gone through or is going through infertility can tell you that, at times, it can really start to take a toll on your relationship with your spouse. Whether it be from the stress of figuring out how to pay for treatments, irritability due to an increase in all the hormones you are pumping into your body, or from the worry that your dreams of not having children may not ever come true, it is hard and sometimes we take those frustrations, worries and stresses out on the person we love the most. Infertility and trying for a baby can also be all consuming in every aspect of your life and you may find that every conversation somehow or in someway revolves around getting that precious baby. This can often lead to the neglect of other, once important aspects of you and your spouse’s life. Although all this is normal and I believe that all couples who go through infertility experience this at some point, or perhaps many points within their journey to have children, it is still important to make an effort to make sure that you and your spouses relationship is still progressing and growing and not being neglected. It took a long time for my husband and I to figure out that the journey of infertility was easier for each of us, and for us together, when we were trying to stay close as a couple and not let infertility weaken our relationship.

Here are a few things we did, and that I have found others have done, in order to stay close to their spouse while trying to conceive a baby…

1. Regular Date Nights: Go out as a couple and do something fun that gets your mind off of the treatments, doctor appointments, and finances.

2. Serve One Another: Sometimes I would get so caught up in the meds I was having to take, or the shots I was having to do that I would often forget that the process was also hard for my husband and I wouldn’t remember to do those kind things for him that I had previously done in our marriage. He noticed a difference, as did I.

3. Set aside time to talk about treatments, finances and options but then leave it alone for a bit. Although this can be really hard, don’t forget to still have conversations about regular life things such as sports, how work was, etc. Taking your mind off of infertility if even for a small conversation can really make a difference.

4. Travel: I recognize that this may not be possible for everyone depending on financial circumstances, but one of the things that saved my husband and I while going through infertility was some of the vacations we went on. It was the best to go somewhere for a few days and pretend that we were different people. A couple who didn’t want kids, whose only worries were what awesome restaurant we were going to eat at next or what fruity drink we should order at that moment. Even if your travels take you to the mountains for a day or camping for the weekend, do what you can to make it happen. Stepping out of real life sometimes is just the reset you need to power through that next treatment.

5. Talk about your feelings. No matter where the problem lies both spouses experience a range of emotions while going through infertility and sometimes we don’t understand how the other person is feeling unless we ask. SO ASK. TALK ABOUT IT. It will bring you closer together if you can understand where your spouse is at in the process and vice versa.

Infertility takes its toll on any marriage, but luckily any marriage can survive it! These are just a few ideas. Find something that works for you and your husband and stick with it!

-       -Kamryn

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Pineapple as a Miracle Fruit?

As I was getting ready for my transfer day, I did a lot of research on what to do during the dreaded two week wait. Most of the things I found were labeled as “old wives tales”, however, I was bound and determined to do SOMETHING that would help. I wanted it to work so badly I would have eaten a bug everyday if someone had told me that would work! During my research, I came across the so called miracle implantation fruit, the pineapple, and I decided to go with it. After all, it couldn’t hurt my chances of getting pregnant, right?

Why pineapple?
                  Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain. Bromelain is said to assist in increasing cervical mucous making the uterus stickier and aiding in implantation. Most of the bromelain is found in the core (the inner part that can be kind of chewy and not as delicious). Therefore, it is important to eat both the meat (the outer part that is juicy and soft) as well as the core.

Pineapple can be beneficial in aiding in implantation whether you are trying to conceive through IVF, IUI, or timed intercourse. For IUI and IVF, it is best to begin eating the pineapple the day your transfer or IUI occurs. For those utilizing timed intercourse, it is said to be best to begin eating the pineapple the day after ovulation occurs.

Pineapple How To:

Step 1: Start by buying an actual pineapple, not canned as that typically has added sugars and the core, the most important part, is often cut out.

Step 2: Cutting the pineapple.
This can be a bit intimidating if you have never cut a pineapple before. First, take the leaves in one hand and hold the bottom of the pineapple with the other hand. Then twist until the leaves come off and throw them away. Next, carefully use a knife to shave off the outer shell. Then, cut the pineapple into five equal sections. I put mine in five different containers in order to make sure I didn’t eat too much or too little in one day!

Step 3: Eating the pineapple
Each day, eat 1/5 of the pineapple for five days straight!

I left my pineapple on the counter to keep it at room temperature as it is also said to be best to avoid cold food and drinks during the two week wait, but you can keep it in the fridge and then just let it warm to room temperature before eating it each day as well.

That’s it. Not too complicated, simple, and hopefully beneficial! I don’t know if the pineapple really helped or not, but for me it was worth trying!


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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Egg Donation: Your Basic Questions Answered

I’ll never forget the day that I heard my doctor talk about my husband and I using an egg donor. Like many other women seeking infertility treatments, I just assumed that if we kept trying IVF over and over it was sure to work eventually. So when we were told that our best, and really only, option was to use an egg donor, I experienced a range of emotions. I think this is really common and normal anytime you are given news you aren’t anticipating. I don’t know about you, but I like my “comfort zone”, and egg donation wasn’t in my comfort zone one bit. However, I started researching and, slowly but surely, egg donation started to creep into my world and I became more and more comfortable with it. I want to share with you a few things I learned about egg donation that helped me understand it a bit more and feel a whole lot more comfortable with it.
  • ·      Egg donation didn’t become a realistic option in the fertility world until 1983. It was that year that the first pregnancy from an egg donor was reported within the United States and it forever changed the world of reproductive medicine.[1]
  • ·      When you hear the term “Intended Parents” that’s you and your partner. Egg donation allows a lot of different couples to become parents and this term is the medical community’s easiest way to refer to you. If you’re like me, you might find this a little odd. However, I will say that this term grew on me, and as we went through our cycle using an egg donor, I grew accustomed to the term and even found that it made me feel excited about becoming a parent!
  • ·      Doctors often recommend you use an egg donor when you have been diagnosed with ovarian failure, are older than the age of 42, have an FSH level greater than 15 miU/mL, in past cycles have responded poorly to stimulating medications, have a history of chromosomal issues, or have a history of genetic or autosomal dominant problems.[2] However, these are just guidelines. Ultimately, each case is different and you should always discuss with your doctor and make an educated decision based off your individual circumstances.
  • ·      There are a lot of things to consider when choosing an egg donor. Their physical attributes, IQ, health history, athletic or musical ability, etc. Many couples also must decide between using a known donor and an anonymous donor. Always remember that each donor is screened very carefully and that there isn’t an agency out there that will let you pick a donor who isn’t a good fit for the job.
  • ·      Donors do get compensated. Compensation is structured around the time, discomfort and inconvenience that come with screening, ovarian stimulation and oocyte retrieval. Compensation should not be based on the number of eggs retrieved, the use of the eggs, or the donor’s ethnic or personal characteristics. Compensation above $5,000 requires a justification and compensation above $10,000 is not appropriate.[3]

      There is so much more that can be discussed about egg donation, which we will cover in future posts. For now, I hope that that gives you a little bit of a basis regarding what egg donation is and brings a bit of familiarity to you about it. 


[1] Wendie Wilson-Miller and Erika Napoletano, The Insider’s Guide to Egg Donation A Compassionate and Comprehensive Guide for All Parents-to-Be (New York, Demos Medical Publishing, 2012)

[2] Miller-Napoletano, 20.
[3] Miller-Napoletano, 24.
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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Santanna and Cole's Story

My husband, Cole, and I were typical newlyweds; young, healthy and in love. We knew we wanted kids right away, but we weren’t exactly trying, just not preventing. As the months went by and my periods kept coming, I began to obsess about how we weren’t getting pregnant. After researching the internet, I self-diagnosed us and felt we had fertility issues. I called my doctor to see if we could get in for some tests. They all said that we had to wait until we had been trying for at least one year. I grew more and more bitter as the rest of our “year” went on. I felt like everyone was getting pregnant but me. I heard story after story of high school girls getting pregnant, and I was so angry that Cole and I, two fully capable and ready adults, couldn’t get pregnant. I was miserable to be around and our sex life became a chore, which was really discouraging.

Once our year was finally up, Cole went to see a urologist where he took in a semen sample. We then learned that Cole’s sperm count and mobility were not where they should be. His doctor put him on Clomid for a month to see how much his numbers would increase. Before that month was up, we had our appointment with our fertility specialist. During our consultation, Dr. S informed us that Cole’s numbers would most likely improve from being on Clomid, but not enough to get us pregnant. They ran tests on me, and all of them came back normal. We felt super blessed that both of us didn’t have health issues.

At that time, we were told that our best option was to do In-vitro fertilization (IVF). We could start with intrauterine insemination (IUI), but our chances of getting pregnant were comparable to winning the lottery. We decided on IVF and our life quickly turned into weekly appointments, shots, blood draws, and medication after medication while juggling the rest of our everyday lives. All in all, our IVF cycle went very smoothly. They were able to retrieve twenty seven eggs from me, but this caused me to get ovarian hyper stimulation. This was honestly the worst part for me. I retained a lot of fluid and had to have a procedure done that was very similar to egg retrieval, but without being under anesthesia.  

Over the next few days we learned that twenty out of twenty seven eggs were mature enough to fertilize. Eleven of them fertilized, but then four didn’t make it. This left us with only seven and sitting much lower than our doctor had predicted. After we transferred two embryos to my uterus, we found that that the rest of our embryos died. This left us with nothing to freeze. I was absolutely devastated at losing the chance of a potential sibling for our baby. We tried to remain hopeful that our two embryos would take, but if they didn’t we would have to start IVF all over again. I couldn’t even think about it. The whole process was too fresh in my mind. I honestly wasn’t sure I was ready to endure all of it again, let alone pay another $15,000 in hopes for a baby.

Fourteen days later, Cole and I received the best phone call. We were pregnant! In an instant, the last year and a half was all worth it. I was finally carrying a child, something we had prayed for and cried over for so long. Our son, Conrad, was born March 30th, 2014.

A year and a half later as we were preparing for our next round of IVF, we found out that we were pregnant. We were shocked!! Considering the fact that Dr. S gave us a less than a one percent chance of ever conceiving on our own, and we feel extremely blessed that this is God’s plan for us.

Our infertility chapter seems so long ago, as our Conrad is now 18 months old. I’m amazed at how having him in our life has healed my heart. I truly hope that I always remember this journey. I hope I remember the longing and the pain, so I remember to never take being a mom for granted. I want to remember this journey so that I can help others through theirs. We realize that our infertility story is easier and shorter than most and that some endure much more and some are still waiting for their baby. We pray for you and we hope that you never feel alone in this journey.
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