the weary world rejoices.

defocused image of illuminated christmas tree against sky

As I sit here the house is quiet. It’s 6 am. Josh is at the gym and here I sit, December 1st, the beginning of the advent season.

The Christmas lights on the tree are twinkling next to me. Everything around me is silent, aside from the gentle murmur of the video monitor and Cali’s breathy snores under foot. Moments like these are precious, magical even, as the calm sets in and I pause for a moment to think about what’s to come this month.

Welcome to the advent season friends. I have to be honest, for ages I wasn’t entirely sure what this season was all about, other than knowing it was a time to get ready for Christmas. Ah, that means 24 days to bake the cookies, wrap the gifts, do the shopping, throw the party, and cram in 104 Hallmark Christmas movies, right?

Ummmm, a little off girlfriend.

As I grew older, and particularly over the last decade as Josh and I were consumed by a waiting season of our own, I learned more about what advent truly means, and now, it represents 24 days that are incredibly sacred in my heart.

Advent is about longing. It’s a time we prepare to celebrate His birth and acknowledge that we are still waiting for His second coming, when broken will be made new and every tear will be wiped from our eyes. It’s such a beautiful season in our faith because it takes intentional time to pause and focus on the waiting. Advent is tender, hopeful, and builds on anticipation. You see, from the end of the Old Testament until the start of the New Testament, there was 400 years of silence. Every year I share that and it never gets old, because I cannot fathom the anticipation, wondering, silence, and waiting the occurred in those FOUR HUNDRED years.

Ummmm is this Jesus ever really coming?

Did we mishear something?

Did God abandon us?

Okay, well, I am about to die, so make sure to tell the future generation to keep waiting well.

And then, the anguish of waiting was over. When the time was right, the answer came.

Louis Giglio writes “The wait was over. The silence was broken. Heaven unleashed thunderous applause. And in a messy manger, Jesus was born. God to human flesh! The Son of God had become the Son of Man – Emmanuel – God with us!”

The advent season gives us time to prepare for that celebration. To focus on the upcoming arrival. To sit in the wait.

Yet, for those who are in their own waiting season, whether it’s infertility, illness, a heavenly reunion with a child or spouse who’s passed, awaiting adoption placement, financial instability, marital strife, singleness, a wayward child – the holiday season can mix in unanticipated grief. It feels you are barely holding it all together as it is; now you’re being told you have to focus on more waiting? And do so joyfully?

Here’s a promise friend – no matter what your heart is carrying this advent season, God will be with you. He will slow our pace, shift our eyes, and remind us how much He loves us. I truly believe He will replace the whirling anxiety and remind us that He will come through on His promises. 400 years of silence was not in vain. He will lift our eyes to see Him. He will gently soothe our aching, bleeding, writhing hearts and tell us how loved we are, how seen we are, how faithful He is, how capable He is, and how we can trust in His hope and promises.

My friend Marissa sent me a beautiful blog post on advent last week, written by a woman who faced infertility and pregnancy loss, which included this snippet:

“As I learned in particular through our lost babies, one after another after another, the joy born out of suffering and longing is more beautiful for its very complexity. I am learning it again in these days in particular when so many are grieving and angry, sad and wounded from the pain of living in this world as it stands right now. The joy doesn’t erase the longing and the sadness that came before but it does redeem it, it may even stain backwards changing how we look at those days or years. But the joy is made more real, richer and deeper perhaps, because we longed for it with all our hearts for so many days.” (emphasis my own)

So good. So true. So rich.

Now, a note to those who are attempting to navigate the holidays while carrying the heavy burden of infertility, I see you. I see how you are being bombarded with images of young children under the tree with their family, and social media hitting you day after day with the joy others are experiencing, not to mention the dreaded Christmas card opening where it seems like everyone you know is announcing a “surprise!” pregnancy. Friend, I know how hard this is and I know that your deepest longing is for a child of your own. The reminders are constant, and you are heavy with sorrow that had you not miscarried, or had your sweet baby girl not been born a week before viability, that this Christmas would look so different. I see you and God sees your pain too.

And now here we go – into Christmas – a season where we are focused entirely about a miraculous birth. And it can be oh so hard. We think about the fact that a virgin got pregnant, and instead of being filled with awe, we think “Well, of course she did! Everyone but me can get pregnant!” (Been there!)

First of all, sweet friend, know that’s okay to come to God’s feet and pray for peace and patience. It’s okay to ask Him honestly why your child isn’t here yet. He’s big enough to handle these questions. It’s okay to tell Him this cross of infertility feels too heavy. These are difficult emotions and feelings to wrestle too, so don’t try to wrestle with them alone. Carry them to Him and maintain open and honest conversation, even if you feel like you are met with silence. His silence does not mean He is absent, I have learned this many times over the years, so hang on tight and be reminded this holiday that God comes through on His promises. It may take what feels like 400 years, but the waiting is not in vain.

My prayer for you this holiday season is that you know how deeply loved you are, that you know you are not forgotten, that you know your grief is valid and real. I pray that you give yourself grace this season to take care of yourself, whether that’s declining an invitation to an event, or starting a new tradition instead of pressing pause on all celebrations until your family grows. I pray that your grief doesn’t stop you from living and being present in the wonder of this season. It’s okay to bake cookies, take a walk to look at Christmas lights, snuggle up and watch some of your favorite Christmas movies, and deck those halls. And I pray fervently, that in this season of waiting and hope, even in the midst of your brokenness, grief and infertility, that your heart can connect with what Christmas is truly about.

For God so loved the world, that He sent His only Son. He looked at the brokenness of the world, and instead of responding with justice, he responded with tender mercy and grace. God took human flesh, His own Son, and Jesus humbled Himself to take on the form of a human and it all began at Christmas.

Paul David Tripp writes: “He would suffer every single day of his life so that he could, with his life, give grace to rebels, extend love to those who would deny his existence, impart wisdom to those who think they know better, and extend forgiveness to everyone who seeks Him.

The love of Jesus didn’t end 2000+ years ago. It is still alive and offered. I pray that as you wait and long this Christmas season, that you remain close to the One who can carry you through this and allow yourself to be held by His gentle peace and comfort.

Happy Advent my dear friends. The weary world rejoices!


I just started a wonderful Advent book this morning, a 24 days devotional called Come Let Us Adore Him. It’s not too late to Amazon Prime one to you if you’d like to do it along with me! Depending on where you are in the USA, it appears same day delivery is available!

Gift Guide for HER.

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I couldn’t help myself, I had to share an old picture of Baby K because THOSE CHEEKS!!!!

We have a tradition in my groups of friends to give gifts called “Favorite Things”. We wrap up a box filled with some of our favorite things from the last year. Everyone has different budgets for different people, so I wanted to share with you a roundup of some of MY favorite things for the year! I hope you find this fun and also, inspirational! As I started to pull link + images, I was SHOCKED at how marked down some of it is – well below the listed price below as we approach the holidays. Scoop things up fast – they won’t stay on the shelves long!

PS – I wrote this before Black Friday deals were going on, so the prices you can snag these for will be even BETTER! Whoooohooooo!

Happy shopping!

Under $15

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Pottery Barn Plaid Alphabet Mug ($8)

notebook

Kate Spade Initial Notebook ($12)

popsocket

Pop Socket for iPhone ($10)

dish

Everyday Baking Dish $10

line a day

One Line a Day Memory Book ($10)

candle

Anthrolopologie Voluspa Macaron Mini Candle ($13)

gilmore girls

Gilmore Girls tee-shirt on sale! ($8)

primer

Urban Decay Travel Size Eye Shadow Primer ($13)

bowl

Crate and Barrel Ruffle Dip Bowl ($8)

Under $30

blinc

Blinc Mascara ($29)

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Madewell Gemline Stud Earrings ($18)

devotional

New Morning Mercies Devotional ($23)

leggings

90 Degree By Reflex – High Waist Power Flex Legging – Tummy Control

lash

Sephora Favorites Lashstash To Go Set ($28)

sheets

Mellanni Bed Sheet Set ($29)

bag

Old Navy Canvas Tote Bag ($30)

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Hope in the Dark book ($20)

shapetape

Tarte Shape Tape Concealer ($27)

native

Native Travel Sample Pack (5 scents) $24

oribe

Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray ($22)

journal

Exposed Spine Cloth Journal ($18)

Under $50

pants

Hanna Andersson pajama pants ($30-43)

blanket

Plaid Electric Blanket ($40)

bible

ESV Study Bible ($43)

dryer

BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Travel Dryer ($34)

cardigan

Loft Open Pocket Cardigan ($50)

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Clinique Pretty Brow Palette ($34.50) 

Under $100

ugg

Ugg Slippers ($100)

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Day Designer 2019 Planner ($64)

sneaker

Earth Zane Slip on Sneaker ($87 sale price)

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Kate Spade Initial Necklace ($60)

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Down Comforter ($110)  – OKAY, I know this is over but this blanket was the best gift I received this year and I LOVE IT.


This post contains affiliate links that help support this blog and our family if you choose to use them for your purchases. I send you a GIGANTIC thank you if you do! 

fun news: we are moving!

This post is sponsored by Opendoor.

Pssst….. can I tell you something?

We are moving.

Eeeeeeeeeeekkkkkkk!

Stick with me here, this is a fun story laced with different ways we saw God in the small stuff.

So, when we moved into our current home, it was supposed to be the home we stayed in forever and ever. And then we had kids and realized there were a few tweaks that we’d like which would make life easier, like not having vaulted ceilings from the living room to the kid’s bedroom door and this little thing called MORE STORAGE.

I digress.

We imagined we would move when the kids were older, in school, when things like showings and packing would be “easier” and our home wouldn’t be so littered with toddler stuff.

But then it all started with a sentence, the one when your husband looks a little nervous to say what he’s about to say because he has no clue what your reaction will be.

“Hey honey, I have been praying about maybe us moving a little sooner than we planned.”

“No.” (Clearly I gave it a lot of thought.)

My reasons were limitless: we are entering into the quieter real estate season, the thought of packing up for showing was exhausting, the concept of keeping a house clean with 2 18-month old twins – impossible. Besides, just the mere consideration of actually selling the house and having to do all of the random tasks (carpet cleaning, wall patching, etc.) was just too much for this momma to think about.

He explained that it was a nudging put in his heart a few weeks ago and he decided to just start praying about it and in return, felt like God was beginning to encourage his heart that this was a good thing.

Gah, how do you argue with God?

I told him I still felt like this wasn’t the right time, but would join him and prayer and we’d regroup in a week.

And of courseeeeee, God started dropping us small and big signs in ways only He can do and it quickly became apparent that this really was His timing and my stubborn fear of all of the what-ifs would be handled by Him. I won’t go into all the ways and reasons, but let’s just say after a week of us praying together about it, God gave us both not only peace, but excitement for this change for our family. We found the most perfect lot, just a few miles away, with land for the kiddos to explore as they grow up, and after putting money down, learned our new neighborhood is filled with families we know and love who just moved in. It makes me smile as I type this because He just reassured us so much and I love how personal He is.

Okay, now the part that makes this momma SOOOOO HAPPY.

Let’s talk selling our house.

Isn’t that always the overwhelming part? Josh came home one day and asked if I had heard about Opendoor. I hadn’t and he filled me in.

Basically, he explained, you contact Opendoor and request an offer on your house. There’s no commitment, you simply give them unique information about your house and then they look at market data to put together an offer . So Josh did just that, he contacted them and a day later, we had an offer. An offer we were really excited about. But it seemed too good to be true?!

We did our own research and once we felt confident their offer was really fair, we signed the contract locking in the offer. After that, Opendoor sent out an awesome team of people to our house and while we were home and playing with the kids, they went through and did an assessment. It was super chill and our home advisor was like “Don’t worry about cleaning and making everything perfect! This is the real Opendoor experience. So just let them come do their thing and don’t sweat it.”

So. Much. Freedom.

There were a couple things they said they would want to do after the house closed, like patch a couple dents our stair gate caused, and switching out this HVAC tubing that was needed due to a code change. They told us how much it would be (a few hundred dollars in our case), and then deducted that from our final offer. It’s all stuff we would have had to do anyways if we sold traditionally so the fact that they were offering to do it themselves made me a happy momma.

Josh and I keep looking at each other because it all seems too good to be true! You guys, we signed the offer and got to pick our closing date, and because we are building, they give us flexibility in changing the closing date as it gets closer if the new house isn’t ready yet. Also, at any point we have the freedom to cancel the deal, however, they are locked in, which alleviates SO MUCH STRESS about a buyer falling out at the last minute of a traditional home sale.

Best part?

No showings.

No cleanings.

No staging.

No strangers running through our house while we park down the street during naptime.

Because Opendoor is buying the house, they handle getting it list-ready once we move out (paint touch ups, carpets cleaning, a deep clean, etc.) and we just get to ENJOY the process of moving. They aren’t flippers, they are just making the process so much easier for families like ours.

Say what!?

Opendoor is new to the Minneapolis area and the timing clearly has been perfect for our family. Not only that, but I seriously think we are saving so much money doing it this way. (They also have markets in across the country in Phoenix, AZ, Dallas-Fort Worth, TX, San Antonio, TX, Las Vegas, NV, Atlanta, GA, Nashville, TN, Charlotte, NC, Raleigh, NC, Orlando, FL, Tampa, FL, Houston, TX, Sacramento, CA, Riverside, CA, Denver, CO, Portland, OR, and Austin, TX.

(I know they also work with buyers but haven’t lived through that experience, but it’s worth checking out if you are looking to buy a home in the New Year!)

So, I couldn’t help but share with you how God answered another prayer for us in making this move a more simple experience than we could have ever imagined AND giving me the chance to focus on what’s to come with the new digs!

Now, framing on our new house begins this weekend (eeeekkkk!) and of course I have to share a few pictures of the process thus far! The kids are SO excited to have some woods to explore and we can’t wait for what’s next! Stay tuned to the blog for more updates in the weeks to come.

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12 Books of Christmas …. kiddo edition.

books

We LOVE books here. And wanted to start a tradition with the kids where they get 12 books wrapped and under the tree. (You can totally do 24 books, from December 1 – December 24th … but… well, budget conscious here, haha. Let’s stick with the 12 days of Christmas.)

I wanted to share with you 12 books we will be wrapping under the tree this year in case it inspires you to pick out any for you and your family (or grandkids … or niece or nephew!)

And keep in mind, you don’t have to do all of them – you can also grab one and wrap it with a pair of Christmas Eve jammies and call it a day!

As always, I included my Amazon affiliate links below and so appreciate when you use them!

Day one: The first Christmas lift a board book

Day two: Merry Christmas, Daniel Tiger!: A Lift-the-Flap Book

Day three: The Spirit of Christmas

Day four: God Gave Us Christmas

Day five: Babies Love Christmas: Lift-a-Flap Board Book

Day six: Itsy Bitsy Christmas: You’re Never Too Little for His Love

Day seven: The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving

Day eight: Construction Site on Christmas Night

Day nine: Elmo’s Countdown to Christmas (Sesame Street) (Lift-the-Flap)

Day ten: Good Night Baby Jesus (Good Night Our World) 

 Day eleven: Little Blue Truck’s Christmas 

Day twelve: Christmas in the Manger     

Bonus suggestions of books we already have:

Usborne Touchy Feely Nativity (I can’t recommend this one enough!)

Curious Baby Curious about Christmas (Curious George touch-and-feel board book) 

Usborne That’s Not My Snowman

I highly suggest, if you are going to order, you do it sooner vs. later because prices seem to soar on holiday-related items the closer to Christmas you wait! :) Happy shopping, wrapping, and reading!

Xo!

Chelsea

 

 

 

resolve: night of hope.

ChelseaRitchie

As some of you know, I recently found out I was selected as a 1 of 6 honorees for the Night of Hope with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association I. AM. FLOORED.

First of all, RESOLVE, for those who don’t know, is a nonprofit patient advocacy organization supporting infertility that is the crème de la crème. RESOLVE provides free support groups in more than 200 communities; is the leading patient advocacy voice; and serves as the go-to organization for anyone challenged in their family building. I love what my friend Candace said to me when talking about me winning this … “It’s like you won an Oscars. This is like the Oscars of the infertility world. This is a BIG deal.”

This honor stands for something so significant that it humbles me to my core.  Everything that I have been a part of over the years, from writing here to connecting people on Instagram and coordinating TTC Exchanges, has been genuine, authentic and done because I don’t think anyone should ever go through this heartache alone.

My purpose has never been awards, fame, or recognition, but simply reminding others that faith + infertility can co-exist, and that they are not alone. I am humbled to stand in line with the other honorees who are accepting awards this weekend, whose lives are drive with a purpose and a passion to help others facing infertility.

There’s a couple of ways you can get involved and support me in this honor, but first, I just need to say THANK YOU. It’s always been our community (YOU!) who have encouraged us to keep telling our story, who prayed us through the hardest days of loss and miscarriage and waiting, and who have always been open to hearing more about this struggle the 1 in 8 couples have.

First – a way you can help:

If you want. RESOLVE is asking my community to make a donation in my honor. $5 is all it takes! Of course it can be more, but if you in any way, have a heart to continue to help others who have stood in our shoes, this is an excellent way.

In addition, your donation is made in my honor and they will be sharing these notes and messages publicly (or privately if you choose!) at the gala, so I would LOVE to see YOUR NAMES up there. It’s one way I could literally have my people with me on this big and exciting night.

TO MAKE A DONATION, CLICK HERE 

If you have ever been a part of an exchange, or read along our story, will you consider making a donation in my honor and sending me a little message to read at the gala? I literally can’t imagine anything better!

Second – a way you can join in:

RESOLVE will be LIVESTREAMING the ceremony and award presentation for friends, family and supporters who could not be in the room with us in NYC on Monday, 11/12/18.

*Note since this is a live event, all times are estimated* EASTERN TIMES

7:30 pm: Program Opening Remarks, Welcome, Video Presentation
7:45 pm- 8:30 pm: Special interviews
8:30 pm- 9:15pm: Hope Awards Presentation

https://livestream.com/streamliner/nightofhope2018

Lastly, here’s a note from the president and CEO of RESOLVE, Barbara Collura:

“RESOLVE is proud to honor Chelsea Ritchie for the important work she has done through her blog and annual TTC exchange for people living with infertility and all those who are challenged in their family building journey. Celebrating these contributions makes the collective message louder and inspires others to get informed, seek support, advocate for change, and take action to reach resolution in their family building journey.”

The Night of Hope brings together more than 400 leaders and influencers in the family building community to “party for a purpose” and bring awareness to RESOLVE’s mission. Past Hope Award honorees include USA Today, Starbucks, Bill and Giuliana Rancic, The View, USA Today, National Public Radio, Self Magazine, CNN Anchor Alisyn Camerota, First Response ®, The Bob Woodruff Foundation, and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. 

Ummm, and somehow little old me fits in here!? This is truly an honor!

So the hubs and I are off to NYC this weekend to celebrate how God has blessed me with this platform and how in the midst of the trials, He truly has brought joy.

James 1:2-4: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

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holiday survival faves.

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Welcome to the holiday season! (OMGEEEEE!) Cue all the holiday hoopla! Whether you are a Thanksgiving first then Christmas sort of person, or an “I’m-thankful-for-Christmas!” celebrator, we all know this time of year is pretty crazy. I thought I would share a few of my favorite things in my world that may help you not only survive the holidays, but also thrive with ribbons and glitter!

1. O Come Let Us Adore Him – an advent devotional – by Paul David Tripp. Full disclosure, I haven’t read this yet! But I have another devotional by the author and am blown away. I love having a specific devotional for advent each year (Waiting Here for You by Louis Giglio has been a past favorite!) and it helps me focus on the real reason we are celebrating the Christmas season. These books tend to sell out fast on Amazon (or the prices get jacked), so if you are looking to do something this advent season, now is a great time to snag one!

2. Holiday Survival coffee by Mama Java. I grabbed the snickerdoodle blend because, well, YUM. My house basically smells like heaven. One thing I love about this coffee is that it’s good hot or cold, rewarmed or room temp. Plus I like helping women started and run businesses!

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3. Ebates. FRIENDS. I have told you before, if you are shopping online AT ALL, and not using ebates, you are literally throwing away free money. Use this link Chelsea’s link and sign up and once you make a $25 purchase, you’ll get $10 cash back free! Then start on ebates.com before going to your shopping website destination and you will literally make a % back of your sales. It seems too good to be true, but it’s not. Then share your referral link with your friends! GO. SIGN. UP. NOW. I mean it!

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4. Hanna Andersson Jammies. I love nothing more than comfy pajamas and even better, Hanna Andersson offers matching pajamas for the WHOLE family, dogs included! (Here’s ours from last year!). Snag some jammies for your crew during a sale and enjoy a fun new tradition! Plus they are the most comfortable pajamas in the whole world and nearly all my kiddos wear.

PS – Use the link above to shop or this one may offer an additional 20% for first time shoppers!

PPS – Use your ebates when ordering!

5. Fir Candles. I think anything is better when you have the mood set by scent. I love this Festive Fir candle from Target and nothing smells more like Christmas than when there’s a light aroma of pine in the air! (Also a super cute hostess gift for holiday parties!)

6. Something new for you! I know, right now is the time we buy for others, but I have found if I have 1-2 thing I LOVE to wear, it makes getting dressed + out the door for errands a ton faster! I recently learned of a super cute boutique on Instagram (hello free shipping!) called @DrixBoutique. I got this cute poncho top there which has been a go to for traveling, hitting up farmers markets, and running errands. It’s effortless, comfortable, and I want it in every color! You’ll have to check them out!

drix

7. Michael Buble’s classic Christmas album. ENOUGH SAID.

What are some of your holiday survival must haves? I’d love to hear from you below!


This post contains some affiliated links which just means at no cost to you, you can help support my family and the mission of this blog by purchasing through my links. I thank you immensely! 

$10k fertility grant.

6Could you, or someone you love, use $10,000 to put towards fertility treatments? Are you interested in winning this grant by simply sharing your opinion from the comforts of your own home, in your sweats and without having to make a video or jump through any hoops?

If the answer is YES, keep reading!

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FertilityIQ is currently giving away one $10,000 grant that can be used towards IVF or another fertility treatment and entering to win it is simple:

  • If you have seen a fertility doctor in the US, go to FertilityIQ.com and click Evaluate your doctor.
  • Complete this anonymous assessment form on your experience with your doctor and clinic. What did you like? What didn’t you? What details can you provide to someone who is searching for the right fit for them?
  • After you complete your assessment, send in proof that you were indeed a patient to the email provide at the end of the assessment. (Think a screenshot of a portal log in, or forwarded email, or photo of a protocol sheet. Nothing confidential!)

THAT’S IT. You are entered and come October 13th, you could be receiving an email that will change your life, or someone you care about, forever.

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(Can you imagine being able to GIFT this to someone? Tears.)

These assessments are your way of giving back to the infertility community. It’s like having coffee with a girlfriend who has the inside scoop. When someone is looking for that next step, they come to FertilityIQ to read these assessments and make the right choice for them.

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And, there’s also another way to win $2,500 by simply acting as a referrer! If you share about this contest with your friends who may be able to provide an assessment too, and they win after citing you are their referrer, then you get $2,500 to spend at your discretion! SERIOUSLY.

For all of the details, you can hop here. 

So to recap-

  • Go here: https://www.fertilityiq.com/survey-intro
  • Spend 10-15 minutes sharing your experience with a former or current doctor or clinic. (One per couple, one assessment per primary doctor you saw)
  • Do it by October 12th.
  • Share about it with your friends. (Feel free to share this post or steal an image!)

Every person who shares their experience on FertilityIQ is making infertility less isolating. YOU make the difference! It truly is empowering knowing that you can help others!

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