Journey in Motherhood

Journey in Motherhood | Miscarriage & IVF | Endometriosis

Sensitive post regarding Child Loss.

The second brave Mommy to share her story with the world, with hopes it will be a comfort to those going through the same thing. It’s been hard for me to actually put this up and share it, not due to fear, but the reality that is this post. It’s real. It’s raw. It’s what happens often and is completely tabled, so women continue to go through their grief thinking that they are alone. Let me shut that down right now. It kills me that this is something we’re not alone in, although not being alone means someone to talk to about it. Being together in this means working through our grief with another. For a healthier life. To continue living, not once being over it, but learning how to continue living despite our heart-ache. These Mommies, who have decided to share their hearts with the world, are here for you. I’m here for you. So please reach out via comment or email with your struggle. Maybe we know something that will help you, maybe we can only say you’re a wonderful Mom and we’re here for you. But we’re here. Below is Andrea’s story. Her life, shared with you regarding her miracle baby from IVF, her Miscarriage and her recent trail in IVF. If you’re going through it, or family of someone who is, or even if you can’t relate yet, I hope you’ll read through to better understand, to find something that would be helpful, or to be a helping hand.

Note* Andrea has to wake up every day. She has to show up for her eldest daughter and for her husband. She has to still be a teacher, and play, and do all the Mom things, without a part of her and while trying for another miracle, amidst the failed attempts. She’s one of the strongest women I’ve met and quite inspirational. Please follow her on Insta @andreakalexander.

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After trying to conceive naturally for about a year, we were referred to see a specialist that specializes in infertility. Who knew that we would begin one of the longest and most difficult journeys of our life. After tests, ultrasounds, blood work, etc,. the reason we could not conceived it ended up being because of my diminished ovarian reserve and endometriosis.

Although this wasn't the greatest news, we were still happy because we knew there was a chance we could still get pregnant. From this point on, our only option was going through IVF. Now we had to decide exactly how we wanted to move forward with the egg retrieval. After talking with our doctor, we decided to do two back-to-back rounds of retrievals. Then, if we had embryos, we would do a transfer a couple of months after.

The fun began. Not only were we working full time jobs (for those of you that know us, we have never worked just a 40 hour work week, it's more like 60-70 hours), we were trying to go through this process of IVF. Let me say, I knew this was going to be hard, but I wasn't prepared for the physical, mental and emotional rollercoaster that we went through. For our 1st cycle (retrieval), we retrieved 5 eggs. After fertilization and testing, we ended up with 3 embryos. For our 2nd cycle, we retrieved 3 eggs of which one fertilized and made it through testing. In the end, we had 4 embryos, however only 2 were of good quality (60% chance of resulting in a pregnancy), 1 was of borderline/poor quality (40% chance) and the last was poor quality.

With that being said, the retrieval process was completed and now we had to prepare for the transfer. Again, there were a lot of meds, shots, blood work, ultrasounds. Through the process we stayed positive and had the transfer. The next 11 days are the LONGEST DAYS EVER! This is how many days you have to wait to find out if the transfer worked and if pregnant. This is on one's mind 100% of the day. The day we were to find out, I couldn't wait and took a pregnancy test in the morning. Again, completely nerve wracking! Best news ever!!! We were pregnant! We waited for the call just to make sure but they confirmed what we already knew. We were pregnant on our first shot of IVF. There are no words to express our happiness! We had a beautiful baby girl, Lillian Alexander on May 27, 2016.

Fast forward 2 years and we are set to try to get Lily a sibling. We had our second transfer on May 31, 2018. Again, the longest 11 days ever. We got the call that we were pregnant and were thrilled but the hormone number were lower than they would like so we had to go back in a couple days later for more blood work. More waiting. The call came in. Our number actually decreased. We were told that we were going to have a miscarriage. There was nothing we could do. So for the next almost 2 weeks, I waited. I waited and waited and waited. Finally around 6 1/2 weeks pregnant we lost our baby boy.

I felt tired and defeated and responsible for the loss of our child. I stayed positive by looking forward to the next step. We knew we had one embryo remaining but wanted to make sure that incase we wanted more children in the future, we needed to get more embryos. It was decided to do two more back to back retrievals. So now we had to prep all over again, with a toddler in the house.

I thought the first time was hard, but having a 2 year old and going through this was so much more difficult. Lily was our light that kept us going though. When feeling down, there was nothing more precious than a hug or a laugh from her. Well, we completed our first retrieval on August 27, 2018. We had 3 eggs retrieved. Of those 3, 2 made it through the fertilization. Of those 2, 1 made it through all the additional testing, however when we had the genetic testing done, the results came back abnormal. It was missing chromosome #10. With this being said, we ended up with no embryos. There are no words. No words.

I'm typing this mid October now. We have to stay positive because we have one more retrieval to go at the end of October. We went into these retrievals hoping to get a boy, but at this point, we just want a healthy embryo. For someone that has gone through this process, it's hard not to constantly think about babies, the process, the craving to get pregnant, and just trying not to have a breakdown. Luckily I have an amazing, loving and supportive husband and precious daughter to keep me going day to day.

What are some side effects that you've battled with IVF? What have you done to overcome them physically or mentally? What is your thought process on sticking to the diet you're supposed to have when going through this?!

IVF can take a toll on the body. I've gained over 15 lbs and have had bad reactions to meds. I broke out in hives when taking progesterone. I've had blistering rashes from two different sets of patches. I've had an unpleasant experience with taking estrace. When you want to have a baby so badly, these effects don't matter. You'll do anything. Not being able to have caffeine or alcohol is a bummer lol, but after a couple of weeks it doesn't matter. The funny thing is that this is the healthiest I've ever been but because of the meds and not being able to workout since April, I feel like I'm pregnant with the bloating. The not so fun part of going through IVF. I just have to keep envisioning that baby to get me through these obstacles.

What do you do for yourself, to stay sane?

The 1st and 2nd cycles I had a full time job. Now for the 3rd and 4th cycles I am a stay at home mommy so my 2 year old is what keeps me sane. That and unfortunately shopping (sorry hubby lol) and just spacing out and watching tv to get my mind off of things. I also like to stay sane and optimistic by looking at baby stuff online- I feel like that is a way of me saying, we are going to do this and I have to envision it.

What would you say to someone who is going through the same thing?

Stay positive and have a sounding board. You are going to have really low lows and hopefully some really high highs. Either way, it's always good to have someone to talk, cry and just be you. Don't bottle anything up. If you don't want to tell the world you are going through this, it's okay, we didn't either. We let our family and close friends know.

What have friends and family done that has stood out to you and been so helpful through the trying process?

Just being there to actively listen. During IVF, it's nice to just say some things and have someone say anything back that's encouraging. Even though it might sound silly, any words of encouragement mean a lot.

What are some ways family and friends could help, that you've realized could be so great during this?

Staying involved. There are ups and downs, to the extreme and knowing that there is someone there to reach out to at anytime is helpful. Also, don't be afraid to ask us for certain details if it's confusing to you. We don't mind.

Is there anything you do to keep your lost son's memory alive?

As of right now, we just have our ultra sound pic of him when we did our transfer. We haven't really decided yet, but once we see how the rest of our journey goes, I'm sure we will have decided by then what we are going to do.

Is there anything you'd suggest to those who are starting to try for kids?

Meet with a specialist sooner rather than later if you are having any issues or doubt. It's better to get educated and to find out if there is something that is preventing one from getting pregnant.

Are there any hospitals, doctors etc that you recommend?

Reproductive Partners La Jolla, Doctor V. Gabriel Garzo. Not only is our doctor amazing, but the whole staff is so friendly.

Are there any quotes, verses etc that keep you going? Besides your daughter, what pushes you to keep living amidst hardship?

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“It always seems impossible until it's done.”

Nelson Mandela

That's a hard one because my daughter is my light. She's definitely is what keeps me going. I think it's because she is our little miracle baby. She's a result of what can happen if we stick with it and stay positive. She's our everything.

Journey in Motherhood | On Child Loss | Sweet Axel

Sensitive post regarding Child Loss.

I photographed this Mom a while back. She is the first to say let me share my story, with hopes it will be a comfort to those going through the same thing. It’s been hard for me to actually put this up and share it, not due to fear, but the reality that is this post. It’s real. It’s raw. It’s what happens often and is completely tabled, so women continue to go through their grief thinking that they are alone. Let me shut that down right now. It kills me that this is something we’re not alone in, although not being alone means someone to talk to about it. Being together in this means working through our grief with another. For a healthier life. To continue living, not once being over it, but learning how to continue living despite our heart-ache. These Mommies, who have decided to share their hearts with the world, are here for you. I’m here for you. So please reach out via comment or email with your struggle. Maybe we know something that will help you, maybe we can only say you’re a wonderful Mom and we’re here for you. But we’re here. Below is Ilse’s story. Her life, shared with you regarding the loss of her sweet son, Axel. If you’re going through it, or family of someone who is, or even if you can’t relate yet, I hope you’ll read through to better understand, to find something that would be helpful, or to be a helping hand.

Note* Ilse has to wake up every day. She has to show up for her eldest son, for her husband. She has to still be a teacher, and play, and do all the Mom things, without a part of her. She’s one of the strongest women I’ve met and quite inspirational. Please follow her on Insta @ilsemunson

Baby boy was how old, how big and how long when born?

Axel was 24 weeks and 6 days old. He was 2lbs 2oz, and he was 14in.

Tell me a little bit about your pregnancy prior delivering, were there any off symptoms? Please share your story with us.

My pregnancy was hard and rocky from the beginning. I had a few scares that put me in the ER. I pretty much had bleeding my entire pregnancy and my doctor suggested to take time off working out to take it easy.

After a few weeks of mild bed rest I was able to go back to work as a fitness instructor but just had to take it easy. One day after class I went to hang out at the mall with a friend and our kids. I began to feel very sharp pains in my belly that would come and go. They started getting closer together and started to get stronger. I remember thinking to myself that it was not normal to get these types of pains this early on. I was only 24 weeks pregnant. as we were walking to the car, there was a moment where I had to stop because the pain became so unbearable and just like that my water broke. It was the scariest moment of my life because I knew that it was way to soon. My friend immediately called 911, and the ambulance got there 20 minutes after that. The hardest part during those 20 minutes was seeing my 2 year old son sitting next to me looking worried asking me if I was ok. I felt helpless and all I could do was look at him, try to be as calm as possible and tell him that it was all going to be ok. I was then taken to the hospital in the ambulance and was rushed to the OR for an emergency csection, We had 5 days in the hospital with our baby boy. Five days where I would walk down to the NICU as much as I could and just sit with him. I would say that even though those five days were the hardest my family has ever had to go through they were also a blessing. A blessing because I got FIVE days! Five days where we could see our baby, touch our baby, feed our baby, even if it was just with a q-tip, and five days where I was able to change his teeny tiny diaper. Five days where we were able to tell him just how much we love him and will always love him. I call it a blessing because I know that some moms don't even get that time. And after five days, he went to Heaven.

When were you able to hold him for the first time, what did that feel like?

I was finally able to hold him the day that we had to say goodbye to him, so after 5 days of being born. It felt, so many emotions going on at the same time. It felt amazing holding my little teeny tiny baby but it felt devastating at the same time because I know it would be the last time I would be holding him. It also felt right, I was his mama and he needed me to hold him close and tell him that I loved him.

When did you go home? What was that like?

We went home 5 days after giving birth to our son. It felt very strange and I felt empty like something was missing. Like this was not how it was supposed to be.

How was the process at home after being in the hospital and not coming home with your second child?

It was very strange, I was still taking care of myself because I had just had major surgery but unlike my first pregnancy there was no baby to take care of. It still is hard to this day, especially when I see friends with their babies who are around the same age that my son would have been.

Thankfully my husband took almost 2 weeks off after coming home from the hospital and we had my mother in law who stayed and helped for almost 2 weeks as well.

How were things with you and your husband during this time?

They were good, we stayed strong and tried to cope with it as much as we could. After a couple of weeks things got hard and there was a lot of fighting going on because our communication had stopped. We finally talked about it and talked about what each of us was feeling and we started communicating and our relationship got better.

What would have been helpful during this process and even when at home? How could people help? I want to educate others - family and friends on how to help.

For us, we honestly were so blessed by all the support we got in and out of the hospital. We received meal trains for almost 2 months. Flowers, texts messages, gifts, random acts of kindness and love. I would say just show up! be there even if you aren't asked to.

What were the things you told yourself to love yourself, give yourself grace and lift yourself up during this hard time when you could be really hard on yourself?

I just had to keep telling myself and still do to this day that it was not my fault, not anyone's fault. What honestly keeps me going is knowing that our baby boy is in a much better place that he could ever be. A place where he does not suffer or feel pain. I tell myself that God does everything for a reason and that even in our worst trials He always has something good come out of them.

How do you keep Axel’s memory alive today?

I try and talk about him when I can and I always talk about him with our 3 year old even though I don't think he remembers him. We have a wall in our house that has a big wooden bible verse on it and underneath it is his full name in a frame. Next to that we have Axels and our 3 year old Williams hands done in clay. I also have a couple pieces of jewelry that I always wear that have his name engraved on them.

What hospital did you deliver at? What hospital did you reside at? Do you recommend it? Any favorite doctors or nurses to recommend? What insurance? Sharp or Scripps etc?

Delivered and stayed at Sharp Mary Birch. I highly recommend this hospital, they were great, very sweet and most importantly very understanding. We had a couple of nurses who were so amazing and went above and beyond with some of the things they did. Two of them made us cards, took pictures of our baby, made beautiful signs with his name and picture on it and different stats. We still have all of that. Rose Bloomberg, Sharps family counselor, was also amazing and so helpful. One of the nurses name was Marcy Vanwagone. Our insurance was United Health care.

Anything else to share?

"Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy." John 16:20