FertilityIQ basecamp recap: let the information begin!

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A little over 2 weeks ago, I packed my bags and flew down to San Francisco, CA to gather with an amazing group of men (okay, man) and women who are passionate about making a difference in our infertility communities.

(Sidenote: Our friends from FertilityIQ.com, Jake and Deb, made this all possible. Their passion for the infertility community amazes me. Jake and Deb have beat infertility. They have the sweetest little 4 month old son, Lazer, but it took work for them to get there. They struggled themselves, faced loses, and realized the infertility community needed a unified voice to help them get from here to there. This family did NOT have to start FertilityIQ.com. (A free service where patience leave verified reviews on their doctors anonymously so that other potential patients can select the right clinic for them from the start.) This family did NOT have to fly us out to CA and sponsor this FertilityIQ Basecamp, host us so graciously, and advocate to get us into some of the best conversation spots possible. They didn’t have to – but they did because they care. And that, my friends, is pretty awesome. In no way is this post, or any of my continued work with them sponsored. It is my personal opinion that they are the bees knees and if you haven’t already left a review on your clinic on FertilityIQ.com, I would run, not walk, over there to do so.)

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Meet Jake and Deb!

Okay, back to the Basecamp:

Our stories all look different. Some of us have pursued IVF treatments, others haven’t. Some face male factor infertility issues, PCOS, recurrent pregnancy loss, while others are labeled with the big old “unexplained” stamp. Some of us have experiences miscarriages, some have beaten infertility, and others are still patiently waiting for their miracle. Each face around the table held a story – and represented an army of women with questions that needed answering. In addition to our awesome hosts, Jake and Deb, meet Caroline, Elisha, Lisa, Nikol, Katie, and myself. Once we said hello, it was like we had known each other all our lives, and the chemistry came alive. And so, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work.

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(from left to right) Chelsea (me!), Lisa, Elisha, Nikol, Caroline (holding Lazer), Deb and Katie. Shout out to Jake our camera man!

Remember that survey I asked you to fill out earlier this summer? Well, you guys filled it out in DROVES. (We drew our $125 Amazon winner in San Fran and because there were so many responses, we decided to draw TWO names! A huge congrats to Leanna D. and Jane R. for being our winners! I hope you are already spending your winnings in fun ways!). And what was so interesting was that out of the HUNDREDS of responses, there were some really identifiable themes – questions you all asked – and so we took those questions, set our agenda, and here we are!

Now, there is A LOT of information to be shared. And I want to dish it all out to you in digestible pieces, so watch for many other posts to come in the weeks ahead. However, for today, I want to chat with you guys about the themes we saw, who we met with, and then point you in a direction today to read a summary of all these meetings from the eyes of the different ladies around the table. Will all of the FAQ’s be hit today? Probably not, however, you have the chance to blog hop and learn A TON! Then I will spend some time tackling each of these highlights for you too, so feel free to leave more specific questions below if you have them, so I can be sure to answer!

Here are the main grouping of questions that you asked:

  • MEDICAL
  • COMMUNITY / SUPPORT NEEDED
  • FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE, GUIDANCE, INSURANCE, EXPENSE
  • 3RD PARTY NEEDS – WHAT DO I DO?
  • EMOTIONAL SUPPORT – HOW TO GET IT AND WHEN

Looking at this list, more specifically, the themed MEDICAL questions asked were:

General:

  • Why is there so much disagreement between doctors on tests, protocols, treatment order
  • Why are the costs so high and success rates so low?
  • Why is unexplained so frequently a diagnosis &; what should one do with that?

Progression:

  • How do you think about when to progress from IUI to IVF to donor egg to deciding to live child-free?

Lifestyle & BMI:

  • How much of a role does BMI play in success rates (does 25% vs 30% vs. 35% make a difference)?
  • How does diet choices (specifically: gluten free, red meat, organic) play into fertility?

Recurrent Pregnancy Loss:

  • After how many miscarriages should they get genetic testing?
  • What role does immunology play in infertility?
  • What about Natural K cells? A lot of women are being diagnosed and treated for it.

Male Factor Infertility:

  • Why would my husband’s sperm count go from high to low with no obvious cause?
  • Talk to me about varicoceles. Is it genetic?
  • With Male Factor, when is IVF necessary and when is it not necessary?
  • What can a man do to boost his sperm count, or improve his motility or morphology?

PCOS:

  • Besides adjusting the diet, what else really works for PCOS patients trying to get pregnant?
  • What are the most promising tests or treatments for PCOS?

Endo:

  • Any promising treatments coming for endometriosis?

What better place to get these answered then by meeting with the top doctors at Stanford Medicine?! We first got to spend some time at their embryology lab, watching freshly retrieved eggs just post ICSI, and observing where the embryos are stored and monitored carefully. We then sat down with Board Certified doctors, like Reproductive Endocrinologist,  Valerie Baker, MD and Urologist, Michael Eisenberg, MD and asked your questions. Want some answers today on what our time there looked like? HOP ON OVER TO NIKOL’S BLOG NOW TO READ HER FULL REPORT ON OUR TRIP TO STANFORD!

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Taking a peek at some ICSI’ed eggs from the lab

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A Male Collection Room – set in a different section of the clinic which was very nice for the guys!

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A peek inside the embryology lab! The yellowish tall container on the right is where the embryos are developing!

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Arriving to Stanford!

We then looked at your questions about forming and finding community, specifically looking at the TTC community that’s formed on Instagram, and how we can maximize it! So what better place to visit then the Facebook and Instagram campus, and spend some time talking with the Director of Community at Instagram! We had a blast there! (And seriously, what a dream job! The campus alone is insane. Rock climbing walls, tennis courts, FREE FOOD EVERY WHERE (you seriously don’t pay for anything!), tons of coffee shops and ice cream shops (again free). The campus looks like the Main Street of Disney World, filled with people doing bike meeting or walking meetings, pop up boutique shops, etc. Such a cool place to see!). To learn more about what our conversations were like at Instagram, HOP ON OVER TO CAROLINE’S BLOG NOW TO READ HER FULL REPORT ON OUR TRIP!

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Welcome to Instagram!

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A photo opp with Katie, the Director of Community (far left)

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Can’t go to Facebook without giving it a big LIKE!

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A peek at the “Main Street” campus and one of the many (free) cafeterias

Next, the financial questions – and those were endless! I am giddy to get into all the details of this meeting. We got the chance to meet with a highly reputable clinic, (privacy given), to discuss “Saving Money When Going Through Treatment”. The tips and tricks she gave us were INSANELY awesome. We KNOW finances hold you back from seeking the medical care you need. We know insurance companies are terrible at providing coverage to those in need. We want to help you find ways to making it more reasonable and affordable. I will say, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done here, but we got some solid saving money tips for you to start! HOP ON OVER TO KATIE’S BLOG NOW TO READ HER FULL REPORT ON OUR CONVERSATION!

One area many of us didn’t have direct experience with, was 3rd Party Reproduction (ie: donor eggs, donor sperm, the need for a surrogate or gestational carrier, and embryo adoption). Great news though, we brought in  Donor Concierge, a husband and wife expert team, Gail Sexton Anderson, Founder and Terrell Anderson, COO to get the scoop on how this process works. It was fascinating and I walked away with so much insight on the process. HOP ON OVER TO JAKE AND DEB’S BLOG NOW TO READ THEIR FULL REPORT ON OUR MEETING WITH DONOR CONCIERGE.

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Visiting with Donor Concierge over lunch

And lastly, we had to tackle the emotional questions you guys asked. Questions like:

  • How do I find local support?
  • When is the right time to see a counselor?
  • How do I know when it’s time to walk away from this journey and find peace living child-free?
  • How do I protect my marriage during this time?
  • How do I grieve properly?

Ohhhhhh, friends who are still reading this, this session was IMPACTFUL. (I felt like I went through a therapy session myself, there were tears!). It was led by Beth Jaeger Skigen, LSCW, who oversees many of the RESOLVE Support Groups.  I can’t wait to dive into my notes on this, but for your immediate satisfaction, HOP ON OVER TO ELISHA’S BLOG NOW TO READ A FULL REPORT ON THIS SESSION.

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We also know many of you asked how to start and lead your own local infertility support group, so HOP ON OVER TO LISA’S BLOG NOW TO READ TONS OF TRICKS AND TIPS.

Then, with so much swirling in our minds, we took some time to step back and regroup, with a little bowling of course! Truly, the friendships formed were pretty awesome. We were able to casually chat about what we were learning, before heading into our final night meeting – WHAT TO DO NOW?

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And friends, we have SO much good stuff planned in the weeks, months, and year ahead. We HEARD YOU! This whole infertility thing, it’s hard. Without the right resources, couples are spinning their wheels for far too long. Without financial reason-ability, some people have to walk away from their dreams of starting a family forever. With the stigma of infertility being so silenced, way too many women are suffering alone, without the help of a community or encouragement around them. All of this, it has to end. And we are doing our best to make a difference, one step at a time, so stay tuned.

Now before I close, I wanted to share with you my TOP 3 Takeaways from the weekend. Random things that stuck out that I just can’t wait to share with you. So here they are:

1) The Stanford doctors told us this – “Your voice (the patients!) will be stronger and more effective to continuing advocacy for fertility topics than doctors. So don’t be afraid to make your voice heard!”

2) 76% of women suffering from infertility have clinical anxiety and 53% have depression, although many will go undiagnosed. Depression and anxiety levels peak between years 2-3 of trying to conceive. Don’t wait too long to get help processing your emotions! Infertility is constantly entering into a world of grieving and unmet expectations. Remember that your doctor is not your therapist, that’s not what they are trained for, so take time to find a good one counselor. (RESOLVE offers so many resources for local support groups, both peer and professionally led!)

3) Patients CAN ask for a discount if paying out of pocket, especially if they have gone through multiple cycles. (Clinics may be able to give up to a 20% discount depending on size and status.) Tell your story to your patient billing rep AND your doctor. And if you refer friends, mention that!! Explain your financial hardships … it’s very possible to get numbers cut!

Now, I could go on and on about what an awesome weekend this was (it was!) and how bucket filling it was (it was!) but now, since I’ve rambled enough, I’ll close with some more pictures from our trip.

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Our first night in! LOVED meeting my two dear friends, Caroline and Elisha, face to face! Perfect time to whip out the selfie stick!

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The dinners Jake and Deb hosted were SO yummy!

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Caroline and I are Facebook ready!

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Pizza + to die for desserts to close out night 1. YUM!

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A few of us kicked off our Saturday morning early by popping over to the Farmers Market by the bay!

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This oyster lover just had to try a local treat – and it was DELISH!

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If you know me well, you know Lox are my favorite thing to eat for breakfast. This San Fran version of Lox was FABULOUS and I will dream about it for weeks to come.

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As will I dream about this lady’s hot chocolate. All kinds of happy.

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Little did we know this is NOT in fact the Golden Gate Bridge, despite our many squeals.

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One of the gorgeous meeting spaces we convened in.

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One of the most sacred treasured moment happened in my hotel room during a brief intermission. You see, it’s when this beautiful group of women asked to gather around me, lay hands on me, and pray for me and our upcoming transfer. *cue tears* And as these beautiful sisters in Christ prayed, it was overwhelming. Because never in my life did I think we’d be facing these battles, yet God, in His goodness, surrounded me with community. Friends I met online nonetheless! And it was powerful and reminded me just how much He cares. So through tears and laughter, we prayed, and it’s a moment I’ll never forget. 💛

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So many fun Uber moments during this trip!

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The REAL Golden Gate bridge, as seen from Jake and Deb’s apartment window. (Seriously, that view!)

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We all got to love on Lazer so much! He smiled whenever the camera was out, such a cutie!

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Another yummy dinner filled with conversation!

Until next time friends!

Chelsea

house for sale.

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I was stirring my coffee when my friend asked the question: “So how are you really right now?”

With the buzz of steaming milk and brewing espresso around me, I admitted my heart’s been a little weary. I touched on how 7 pregnancy announcements from good friends in 3 days drained me a bit. I tried to explain that while my heart was overjoyed for them, it made me a bit reflective of my own journey, which can be a hard, emotional path for me to walk down sometimes.

I could see in her eyes, as someone who doesn’t struggle with infertility, that she couldn’t quite grasp how someone could be happy for someone else but sad for themselves.

And that’s when this example hit me.

Let’s pretend that you and your spouse have decided it’s time to move from your small apartment. It’s time to expand! It’s not necessarily that you don’t like your current place, but you feel ready to embark into a new neighborhood, have the chance to mow a lawn, use a driveway, and have a little more space.

So you celebrate this big decision! You are going to sell your house! You tell your friends, you have a celebratory glass of champagne and list it. It’s time to sell!

Hmmmm. A few days, weeks, months pass. Why isn’t your house selling? You try to stay positive. Oh it takes time! You just have to wait for the perfect buyer! It can take couples almost a year before their house sells! Take a vacation – then it might sell!

In the meantime, friends around you decide they too want to sell their house and move. And you watch and celebrate as they immediately find buyers. It was our first showing! We hadn’t even listed it yet! A friend of a friend asked to buy our house! In fact, some of your friends who didn’t even take care of their apartment sell it right away. Huh?

What is going on, you asked yourselves. You paint the walls, freshen up the tile, and replace the old floors. And yet, months pass by and still, no buyers. Multiple showings, the promise of hope with each one, but a firm and audible NO after every one.

In the meantime, you’re invited to house warming party after house warming party to celebrate your friend’s new home. You are thrilled for them! What a beautiful new kitchen! Lawn! Bathroom! Is that a walk-in closet?? And you wonder what is wrong with our apartment??? You bring the wine, send the congratulations card, help move the boxes, all while dusting off your “for sale” sign. You pack away the towels you bought for a new bathroom. It hurts too much to look at them each day.

Do we try to get used to staying here forever? You begin to ask yourselves how you should approach this limbo. What does the future look like? Do you apply for that new position knowing it would be across town, near the city you want to move to? Do you redecorate the space and plan to stay there? Oh how your hearts yearn to be in a new place – and yet still, all the showings result in nothing. No. No. No. No. No. No.

So you hire a new realtor. The one who sold your friends house in just 1 day! And your heart breaks as he tells you that you may never sell your home. You see, because there’s this one part of the inside of a wall that is damaged. It’s not really your fault, but it’s your home and because of it, it may be a little harder to sell it.

How did I not know? What can we do to improve our chances?! He provides you with a list of things to do and you eagerly dive into them. You replace the trim, sweat over refinishing your floors; exhaust yourself with tearing out the old carpet. Still – nothing.

Meanwhile, you get the calls from your friends, We’re moving! We sold our house! It’s our 4th home in 3 years! And your feelings get hurt as some of your friends pull back from you as they are afraid to tell you they sold their house too. You find out when you get their Christmas card in the mailing with a preprinted announcement. Why didn’t they tell us? And yet still, you celebrate their new adventure, move the boxes, ‘like’ the Facebook announcement and wonder if you should take your house off the market. After all, it’s been 3 years.

Then 4 years. More announcements, more moves.

Then it’s been 5 years. You find some friends who too have a hard time selling their house, are stuck in limbo desiring a neighborhood, a closet, a stove with more than 2 burners, a chance to feel at home where they feel called. You relate to one another’s questions and empathize when yet another potential buyer decides to pass. Another lost chance, I am so sorry.

Then those friends who once understood, begin to sell their houses. More celebrations! And the conversations shift from questioning why your house can’t sell, to the frustrations of picking out paint colors for the new living room or the cost of the movers. They forgot what it’s like, you think. Then you no longer get together. I am sorry, I have a house now. There’s so much to do! More dusting, a garden to tend to, bathrooms to clean. Maybe when the house gets a little older.

And still every single morning you wake up, make your bed, clean the house, waiting for the moment you get a call about a showing. You can’t escape the fact that your house is for sale. It’s part of your daily life, reminders everywhere. The lockbox, the sign, the calls. Every day you are faced with the desires to hear the words “you’ve sold your house!”.

6 years pass. You switch realtors again, are given a dash of hope that this is the one! In fact, by this point you’ve had 7 offers on your home, but all of them have fallen through. It’s just been bad luck. This happens to many couples. There must have been a bank loan defect. Unpack your boxes, not this time. Don’t lose the faith!

More moving announcements from friends. We weren’t even thinking about moving but someone came to our door and offered us over market price for our house. And then we got an amazing deal on a new house – in the last lot of the neighborhood you were looking at! What are the chances? We were so surprised!

Housewarming party. Wine. Feelings of defeat. Questions. Did we misunderstand our calling to move? Everyone else thinks we are crazy, yet we continue to feel led is to sell this house. What do we do?

And now here you sit – with 7 more offers sitting on your home and you think this could be it and you are terrified. Everyone around is asking you aren’t you so excited? And while, yes, you are, the truth is you’ve been here before. You’ve had the offers and they’ve all fallen through. You’re hesitant to get your hopes up based on these new offers, knowing what happened last time. And so you smile, nod, and pray harder than ever that one of these offers takes. Because you don’t know if your heart can handle any more. Most days you want to rip down the ‘For Sale’ sign, ignore the aches in your heart, and chuck the lockbox in a volcano. You are now known as the couple who has always had their house up for sale.

Just be thankful you have a house to live in! Everyone around you, many who just sold their house, says to you, as if you aren’t thankful for your apartment. You want shout back that you are thankful, you just hate living in limbo, are struggling to figure out what your future looks like, and that you can’t ignore that nagging longing to become new-home owners.

And still you wait, feeling foolish about the day you drank champagne and told everyone you were going to sell your house. You never expected this.

You get the picture. And while this example may seem silly, can you only imagine having your house for sale for YEARS? I get exhausted just thinking about it. And, oh friends, if only infertility were this kind of exhausting.

With infertility, you take these exhausted, confused emotions and add in the immense deep rooted desire to be parents – moms and dads– and combine it with mind altering hormones, emotions, surgeries, and real life dollars. Every month offers hope that everything might change and when it doesn’t, you have to reprocess what you’re going to do next. Did you hear God right? Why isn’t He moving?

So while your heart is so thrilled for the others in your life who move onto the next stage – first, second, third pregnancies – it’s still very real there will be emotional struggles involved. With every announcement, pregnancy related conversation, baby shower and tiny babies around, it reminds you of the current state of limbo you are in. And with God-given strength, you celebrate the answered prayers, clinging to the hope that next time it might be you, and rejoice that God gave them a miracle. And it’s okay if you still wonder why not me?

Friends, I don’t know why your baby hasn’t come yet. I don’t understand why a 15-year old accidentally becomes pregnant and you can’t get a positive test to save your life. I wish I understood all the specifics. But here’s what I do know – God knows why. And while that can be hard to understand most days, it offers reassurance that we don’t have to be the ones understanding the ‘whys’. We just have to continue to trust the One who does.

I wrote these words in In the Wait and needed to be reminded of them today: “God is not early or late with His timing. Instead, He is right on cue, creating “Ah-ha!” moments when the answers prayers finally come. Yes, it may look different than we expect it to, but we know He will pull through. Scripture reminds us that we can trust Him to stay true to His Word, character and promises. His love is always present. Breathe out a deep sigh with me today and rest assured knowing He is at work, even when we don’t see it.”

I know it’s tiring my sweet friend. But make that bed one more day, accept one more showing, and continue to communicate with the Lord. You never know when you are going to wake up and have your whole life change in one moment. That day of answered prayer is worth the fight.

Lord, I pray for each woman reading this today who understand what it’s like to be stuck waiting. I pray that you renew our strength, our minds, and replenish our weary souls as we wait. We trust that you have the perfect plan for our lives and we ask that you would help strengthen us to continue to celebrate the victories and answers to prayer that you are providing to those around us. Jesus, we simply need more of you to help lead us into the perfect path for our lives. Amen

*photo from weheartit.com

think positive.

Last week I was distractedly drying my hair, my phone propped up and one hand slowly scrolling through daily happenings of my friend’s lives, when my eye caught this image someone shared:

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The “Positivity” side of me cheered. I love this thinking! Stay positive and good things will happen! Hurray!

But then as I began working my brush through my tangled strands, I thought a little deeper.

Wait a second …. 

I think positive. I pray positive. I write in my gratitude journal, I preach His Words out loud to myself, I surround myself with positive people and books. So … why weren’t my big prayers being answered? Why weren’t my positive things happening?

The more I thought about this quote, the more restless I got.

IT’S A LIE!

You can’t simply think positive and have good things happen. Positive thinking doesn’t always equal positive outcomes.

What happens when you think positive and you don’t get the job you really wanted?

What happens when you think positive and your IVF cycle results in a negative?

What happens when you think positive and the miscarriage still occurs?

What happens when you think positive and the test doesn’t go well, your product line isn’t selling, your son is still addicted to drugs?

What then?

I think for many of us, it leaves us feeling like a failure, or even worse, like God has failed you.

You did all the right things. You believed, you had faith, you were positive! The quote told you positive things would happen! Which then leaves you to ponder, what happens when the prayers aren’t answered?

Can I tell you today that it doesn’t mean you failed? That you weren’t positive enough? That you aren’t enough?

Friends, when what we pray for doesn’t happen, fight the urge to get discouraged. Fight the urge to become bitter and give up. Lately, God has been stretching my heart and mind on prayer. He’s been smacking me with reminders of His desire for me to have wholehearted conversations with Him, to share the positive and not-so-positive thoughts on my mind. He’s been breathing the truth that no amount of positive thinking will alter the amount of influence He has in the outcomes of my life.

Now yes, I firmly believe that having a grateful, kind, positive heart will alter the attitude you carry with you each day. It will increase your joy, your ability to praise Him and help you see His hand a little bit more clearly. It’s demonstrating obedience to what He has commanded in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT): “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. But it doesn’t mean that God will grant you extraordinary genie-like access to His power.

God loves us, so much. He is interested in every detail of our lives. He hears every prayer we pray. He never abandons us. Even when we don’t feel like our prayers aren’t being answered.

Here is what I think the quote should say:

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God-things are so much better than good things. God-things result in Him being glorified, our faith being strengthened, and our prayers really being answered. Timothy Keller says ““God will only give you what you would have asked for if you knew everything He knows.” Friends, HE KNOWS! Be reassured that He sees the big picture!

I finished blow drying my hair that day and was thankful for the chance to ponder the trust we have in Him. Isn’t that what it all comes down to? And friends, trust isn’t a single day thing – it’s an every day, eat-sleep-drink-repeat, sort of thing. He’s got this and because of that, we’ve got this.

Have you signed up yet for the TTC Mug Exchange? If not, click here by November 15th to join the fun! 

impact.

Every time we cycle I think “God, you have the platform to show everyone Your power!”. I wait expectantly for Him to show up, for Him to show that prayer does pay off, that He does hear us, that my faith isn’t resting in someone incapable. I often get discouraged afterwards, thinking “God!! You aren’t looking too good here! This was Your moment!” It isn’t a pride thing, I just genuinely want each and every person reading this to see the power of God at play, as well as the tender heart that He has.

That being said, with each failed cycle and with every miscarriage I wonder how it’s going to impact the people surrounding us. Is this going to cause someone to lose faith? Is this going to cause someone to doubt Him? I struggle with this battle of feeling pain from our own sadness but then also feeling like God is letting you down, those investing and trusting with us. I continue to pray that despite the failures and the pain that we are feeling, that you would still be comforted in whatever you are going through, that you stay hopeful that God can intercede in whatever your struggle is.

A week after we found out our March pregnancy wasn’t viable, I was doing some hardcore searching for how He was going to use this to impact others positively. That’s when I ran across a quote in a book that said “Looking back, my disappointment may have been the best gift I could have given (you). (You) need a God who is not just equated with blessings. (You) need a God who can walk with you in your pain.”

Reading that was like a healthy slap in the face. It was God’s way of saying Chelsea, the people around you don’t just need to see a God that always gives blessings, even though I can and do. These people around you right now need to see that I am also a God that walks with His children when they are hurting.

Friends, I ache for the day our prayers are answered and we can stand here and celebrate His incredible goodness, blessings and answered prayers. But I also am gripped to convey to you that until that day comes, and even if it never does, that our God is so much bigger than our unanswered prayer request. God is so faithful to meet us in our pain, our sorrow and our tears. I know how your heart is strangled with anxiety, with wondering if your time with ever come, if this painful season you are dealing with will ever go away. I understand that the thoughts that keep you up at night, whether they are about illness, finances, relationship struggles or job concerns, make you wonder why God is not stepping in. Why doesn’t He just make this all better? We are praying, aren’t we? We are doing everything we can to move in a positive direction and yet nothing is happening.

This doesn’t mean He isn’t in it. As hard as that is to believe, as hard as it is to understand, it doesn’t mean that He has abandoned you, me, us. Even when God isn’t doing exactly what we want Him to do, He is still God! It seems unfair, He seems silent, it feels hopeless. As I was driving away from the doctor’s office yesterday, I felt like an old truck with rusty, flat, crooked tires.

Kacha, kacha, thud, kacha. Rust falling off, age showing, no air to be found, thudding over and over and over again.

But it was then I realized that in order to see God sometimes, instead of just looking in the same place, we have to zoom out. We may feel worn, but then we have to pull back, widen our gaze, look for Him in the unexpected places, which is exactly where He was hidden to remind me that He is in this, if not simply for you. Maybe today He wants to remind YOU that He is in the hard moments and that while He can be a God of miracles, He also meets you in your pain, questions and sorrows.

In Finding Faith in the Dark, author Laurie Short writes “God not only shouts to us in our pain; He often shouts to others through it. In some mysterious way, pain moves through our lives to touch others.” 

This last week I have changed my prayer from that of “Let them see Your miraculous hand!” to one that prays “Let them find You in their pain.” I don’t want to be so focused on where I want God to be and how I want Him to act that I miss where He actually is. Today, this month, this week, He is waiting for me with arms of comfort, with a lap of peace and crawling next to me and reminding me to breathe.

He is faithful, even when He seems so unfaithful. I pray that our story, even in its hardships, refills your heart with the recognition that He is good, present, faithful and comforts us when we turn to Him. We can truly keep going, knowing that He has our backs.

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Q & A part 2

First of all, is anyone watching the Bachelor? After 5 hours of Chris Soules + ladies this week, I feel like I need a major girl-chat to process everything that went on. Comment below if you watch and what you think! No spoilers please!

In other news, this week is part 2 of the Q&A Series! Thanks again to everyone who has sent in questions. Today we are featuring another giveaway, this time from Fertile Gems, (see more below), and then next week we will wrap this series up with part 3 and onet final giveaway. How fun has February been!? Love it!

OK, let’s dive into some more questions!

Q: Have you ever questioned blogging or had concerns with sharing private things with your work, friends, family, and church home?

A: Great question! Blogging scares me regularly. Every time I press “post”, I kind of feel like I have stripped down and am running naked through the neighborhood. I would rather strangers read my posts than people I know. It’s such a vulnerable thing, writing, and there are times I hold back thoughts or situations to protect the emotions of those closest to me as well. So yes, there are times I question blogging, but not in a way that makes me stop. It puts a good reminder in my heart and mind to be cautious not to hurt anyone with my words and also, to share in a way that’s helpful to others but (hopefully) won’t damage my reputation either, like in a working situation. I always try to write with the mindset that anyone I know may read this, including the person I may be giving a story about. It helps direct my words and mentality, while still remaining authentic and vulnerable. It’s a tango!

Regarding actual privacy, I try my best to keep identities protected and actual locations hidden if people don’t want that shared. If children are being posted on or about, I run it past Mom or Dad. I also try to make sure that when I am telling stories, I am telling my stories, not someone else’s story. Those stories are for them to share and I don’t want to encroach into their story. It can be hard to untangle experiences and emotions at times, but I want to protect the people in my life too. If I am telling a story about Josh, I run it past him first to make sure he is okay with it. I don’t ever want my blogging to cause others to concern their privacy either.

Q: What are your thoughts about acupuncture?

Ha! Remember the first time I went to acupuncture? Rethinking this experience is making me giggle. Acupuncture is something that I have been doing on and off for almost 2 years now and have to say, am still totally neutral on my opinion. I know some people LOVE IT and others HATE IT. I tend to be pretty undecided. That being said, I found cupping to be an extremely valuable part of my healing process when I had significant hormone-related back pain. I also found acupuncture to help my headaches while on Lupron and stimming during IVF cycles. When I was not on medicated cycles however, I didn’t find it to be hugely successful in helping me ovulate/cycle.

However, one thing that I am hugely passionate about is having pre and post transfer acupuncture sessions in the doctor’s office if they allow it. My acupuncturist came into the clinic and I had the most relaxing sessions right before and immediately after our embryo(s) were transferred. It allows time to pray/meditate, breath, and relax. Plus, you are on valium so it’s like you are floating with glee in a magical PUPO cloud.

Otherwise though, do what you are comfortable with and find relaxing. If it relaxes you, great. If you find yourself unable to relax and over thinking whether its working or not, then maybe it’s not for you. I always suggest everyone gives it a try to decide for yourself.

Q: What are the last 5 movies you’ve seen that have rocked your world?

I wish I watched more movies that rocked my world! I actually tend to be a pretty shallow movie watcher. I feel like the “good”, award winner movies tend to be a little violent/profane/sorrow-filled for me. For example, I would love to see American Sniper if I felt my heart could take it, but sometimes emotions overwhelm me a bit and so I protect me heart and just skip it all together.

So I watch movies on the Hallmark Channel or drag my husband to see Night at the Museum 3 (I laughed … and cried) or Hunger Games or the Divergent series. I love me a good Harry Potter film and PG-13 chic flick too! I wish I had a better deeper answer for you!

Q: How do you feel embryos should be handled ethically?

A: We believe deeply that all embryos created have life. We value the fact that life starts at conception and so it’s been very important to us to ensure that all embryos created that develop and process through the viable stages are used. When Josh and I first started our IVF journey, we knew that it could open a door for our family to be larger than we anticipated, knowing that if we had extra embryos to freeze, that we would continue frozen cycles to give them all a chance at implanting and sustaining life.

Doctors offices will give you the choice to “dispose” of extra embryos, donate your embryos to another couple who can’t biologically create a child or have the desire to adopt an embryo, donate the embryo(s) to science, or freeze them for your own family, continuing to make annual payments to the frozen daycare center. We have always chosen and will continue to choose to freeze them regardless of their quality.

When we were embarking into our 4th cycle, we had 1 little Frostie left. You may remember from this post where our doctors suggested us skipping transferring Frostie because of his/her low quality and instead doing a new fresh cycle. It was important to Josh and I that Frostie got a chance, and so we moved forward with that frozen cycle and our little snowbaby. While that cycle wasn’t successful, I am SO glad that we transferred Frostie and I know that God provided us a lot of peace with our decision to do that, even though it didn’t result in a pregnancy.

If you have a similar mindset as we do and are concerned about the abundance of embryos that could be created in a cycle, please know that there are many options to work with your doctor to minimize the amount of embryos created. It may start with stimulating egg production at a slower rate and removing less eggs, therefore creating less embryos, but it is possible. There is always a chance that when that type of cycle occurs and less embryos are created, that you may have to do multiple cycles, but it is worth pursuing and discussing with your doctor as well. If you ever have more specific questions on this for me, feel free to email me.

All of this being said, these are our opinions that we reserve the right to have so if you view things differently or would make different decisions, I simply ask for mutual respect as these are personal and spiritual decisions each couple makes.

Q: Where do you suggest finding support? How have you been able to develop a good system of support on this journey?

A: This journey can feel really lonely when you are fighting it alone, when no one around you understands, and when you don’t feel you have anyone to talk to. One of the benefits about social media is that it gives you the chance to connect with people who are struggling in a similar way as you, while not necessarily having to live close to you. Instagram has been the number one way for me to connect with other women who are struggling. Did you know that you can also create an annoyomous instagram account, not linked to your Facebook, so that you can have a true TTC outlet? You can start simple, by searching for a hashtag! Phrases like #ivf, #iui, #infertiliy, #ttc, #pcos, #endo, #clomid will all give you a SLEW of women who are ready to share and connect. You would be so surprised at how many beautiful true friendships have formed out of a single hashtag!

Meet my friend Karen! We met over Instagram, started emailing and now not a day goes by where we don't talk, text or skype date. She may live in FL but all that matters is that I have found my "person"! Love you K.

Meet my friend Karen! We met over Instagram, started emailing and now not a day goes by where we don’t talk, text or skype date. She may live in FL but all that matters is that I have found my “person”! Love you K.

I also run TTC package exchanges every few months that several hundred women on this journey participate in and I have witnessed SO many awesome friendships form simply by being randomly paired up. You can search for things like #ttcexchanges on Instagram too if you want to get connected right away! There are Facebook groups as well. My own personal experience is that forums can be really aggressive and mean-spirited so I try to stay away from them. Some churches have small groups that form with women who are struggling, so checking with your local church is a great option too. Otherwise, use websites like RESOLVE to find other methods of support.

Oh and guess what, our next TTC Exchange, similar to the Mug Exchange, will be kicking off at the end of the month! Stay tuned!

Now it’s giveaway time!

My friend Crystal over at Fertile Gems sent me the most beautiful fertility necklace and we just HAVE to share one with a lucky winner! Fertile Gems creates handcrafted fertility jewelry that is meant to put a smile on your face, remind you to calm down, relax and HOPE. They also include the choice of a gemstone and each gemstone has different meanings.

The necklace we are giving away is similar to this one below – except yours will be in sterling silver and you will be able to pick your own gemstone. (The wishbone is known as a good luck symbol of life and fertility.) If you are interested in purchasing one, I know you won’t be disappointed. Check out her Etsy store today!

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This giveaway will last until Friday morning, and then the winner will be announced on Friday Favorites. Everyone ears 5 free entries just for fun! Just include your name / email so I can connect with you if you win. Good luck!

Click Here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for sending in some great questions! Next week we wrap this up by talking about the ever-so-big questions about adoption, gluten-free diets, maintaining faith and hope and more!

5 things you want to tell your fertile friend.

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Ever been there? That place, that moment, when you look around the room and realize you are the only person without kids? The conversation drifts in and out as you refresh your thinking “was up all night with johnny .. so tired .. love when they snuggle all morning … watched too much tv yesterday with them … need a night out … love them more than I knew was possible … love the boppy, although I would recommend … ” You catch snippets of conversation, knowing that you have nothing to offer and for just a moment, you want to weigh in and let your friends know these 5 things …

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Thanks for clicking to continue reading and supporting my writing at Fertility Authority! Please feel free to share this post as much as you can within the next month – your views matter! And I’d love to have you weigh in and share what you wish you could tell your friends with kids – comment there or here!

Also, it’s not too late to enter the giveaway for your chance to win a copy of  Where Have All the Storks Gone? A His and Hers Guide to Infertility by Michelle and Chris Miller or a fertility pack with a TTC Boost Bundle for Her and a BFP Test Strip Little Bundle. Read the previous post to enter or Click Here: a Rafflecopter giveaway.

See you Friday to announce the giveaway winners and share some Friday Favorites!

Q & A part 1

I am so excited to launch this Question and Answers series this month, which will be combined with questions you have sent in and featuring some fun giveaways too! (2 packages today, more to come!) Thanks to everyone who submitted a question – if you don’t see your question answered in this post, know that there will be 3 parts so yours will make its way to being answered. Also, if you didn’t get a chance to send in your question, it’s not too late! Check out the Contact page for the best way to connect or leave a question in the comments below.

Here we go!

Q: Do you have any fiction book recommendations that you enjoyed that touch on infertility in some way?

A: I know many of you went out and read What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty and have shared that you loved it! I’m so glad! I have three other books that stand out as a good read with infertility story lines. The first is The Baby Trail by Sinead Moriarty. It is written by a British author and I found it to be hilarious. There are 2 follow up books to this book character and I liked all of them. But this first one is especially relatable to many and I found myself laughing out loud and feeling incredibly understood at the same time. The other book is Barefoot by Elin Hildebrand. While the infertility story line isn’t the predominate feature, it does touch on the emotions and uses language many of us would be familiar with. The third and last one is The Things We Do For Love by Kristin Hannah. I loved this one too. All three of these are non-Christian books so there are mild/moderate adult language and elements, but nothing I wouldn’t allow my Grandma Jones to read. (Hi Grandma Jones!)

Q: What about non-fiction books? Anything that touches on infertility that’s great?

A: YES! So many I love. The first is Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist. If you have read my blog for any period of time and haven’t gotten this yet, please do! Her personal essays touch on miscarriage and struggles to conceive in a Godly way (however is not the focus of the book) and this is one of my favorite books of encouragement, relate-ability and hope. (UPDATE: And today only, the e-book is 0.99 on Amazon and Barnes and Nobles!)

The second is a book I recently read called Where Have All the Storks Gone? A His and Hers Guide to Infertility by Michelle and Chris Miller. This book is a funny, touching read, written from both her perspective and his. Her point of view talks a lot about the first steps you take when you learn you are fertility challenged, a great list of questions to bring to your OB/RE, some great advice on how to ignore the comments you wish people didn’t say and what you can expect with medicated cycles and IVF. Michelle does a GREAT job with this! And then the “his” perspective – Chris talks openly and candidly about things like preparing for the changes to the “just having sex” lifestyle, learning how to read semen analysis results, the lessons he has learned as a husband throughout the journey and touching on how he keeps his sanity and stays married through it all. I am SO glad I got to read this book – it was a lot of “you too!?”. It’s funny and touching and I will go ahead and let you know, has a great ending. In fact, I like this book so much that the publisher and I are hosting a GIVEAWAY for you to win a chance to get this book for free! Yeah! Enter below – the contest will end this Friday and the winner will be announced with Friday Favorites. Be sure to enter! (If you don’t win, I would still highly suggest grabbing this book. You can find all the ordering details on their website – www.wherehaveallthestorksgone.com) (This too is written from a secular perspective but is very tasteful!)

The third book is Every Drunken Cheerleader – Why Not Me? By Kristine Ireland Waits. This book is HILARIOUS. It’s written by a Christian author and I am so encouraged and touched by this challenging book. It’s written so that you can relate to it if you are struggling with infertility but also is an amazing resource for those who are supporting someone who is struggling with infertility. There’s an entire chapter (or two) that answers the questions they have like How can I help? What should I do? What shouldn’t I do? When and what should I ask about? How can I best support my friend during this? If I could give a copy to everyone I know, I would. This book is fabulous.

I have many other book suggestions listed under my Reading Resources page so check those out too!

Q: What helps you get though the 2 week wait? Are there any fun activities that help you get your mind off of things?

A: Let me just start by saying 2 week waits (2WW) suck. Never in my life have I known 14 days to take so painfully long. That being said, somehow they do pass. During this time I like to pretend like it’s not happening, while also recording every detail of every day. Makes sense right? I briefly write in my journal each day and this actually has helped keep me sane when reflecting back and reading other 2WW entries. I realize I am crazy EVERY 2WW which somehow brings comfort that this wait isn’t extra special. But anyways, to pass the days, I love to pack my days full of distractions. Coffees with friends (decaf of course!), trips to local and free museums or zoo’s, movie nights, girls days, mall walking (but no buying anything! Never clothes shop under the effects of progesterone.), painting my nails, and doing some gentle yoga (or swimming if you have that option). Things I DON’T suggest you do – Google. STAY OFF OF FORUMS, CHAT ROOMS, AND 2WW symptom websites. I repeat, DO. NOT. DO. THIS. You will drive yourself batty and set yourself up for waves of pointless emotions because you can’t truly count yourself out of this cycle at 3dpo (3 days past ovulation) simply because your left boob doesn’t hurt as much as your right. And don’t start taking tests at 5dpo. They will never show up as positive and you will waste pointless tears. My friend Lisa once told me “I would rather be hopeful and positive and convinced I am pregnant for 13 days and utterly devastated on day 14 if I am not, then spend 14 days in nervous, scared anticipation of failure.” I love that and live by that each 2WW now. Embrace the time you have, even if it doesn’t end the way you have hoped.

But my best advice is to stay busy. I have goals to make a 2WW bucket list for my next wait – it will keep me busy and distracted! What about you? What do you like to do to keep yourself busy during the 2WW?

Q: Are there any pills or supplements you have tried that have worked well or that you would recommend?

A: This is a loaded question! I know SO many people have differing opinions on this so I will keep this brief and allow you to do your own research as well, but here’s what I would loosely recommend*: CoQ10 for egg quality (stop taking this once you get your BFP), Vitamin D (studies showing it increases your fertility), Folic Acid/Prenatal vitamin, and Melatonin (said to play a role in hormone secretion and improve egg quality). Now there are always other supplements that others use and try that are still scientifically unknown if it helps increase fertility, but certainly have positive outcomes and stories! Fairhaven Health is an online source for many of these products and I am excited to try some of the products they sent me recently, like their brand of CoQ10, FertilAid (used to enhance fertility and support overall reproductive health) and FertiliTea. I have heard so much about this tea for preconception and am excited to give it a try! I will keep you all up to date with my thoughts but so far, I am impressed!

That being said, it isn’t fair for me to get stuff and not you! So I am teaming up with Fairhaven Health to offer one lucky winner a GIVEAWAY package of two if their most popular products – valued at nearly $100! The TTC Boost Bundle for Her includes FertilAid for Women, OvaBoost, and FertileCM to encourage hormonal balance, cycle regularity, and to promote fertile-quality cervical mucus and the BFP Test Strip Little Bundle is designed to provide you with the ovulation and pregnancy tests, consisting of 15 BFP Ovulation Test Strips and 5 early detection BFP Pregnancy Test Strips. I can’t wait for someone to give this all a try! Thank you to Fairhaven Health for your generous donations – ladies, check them out and enter for this giveaway below! This giveaway will end on Friday as well and the winner will be announced with the Friday Favorites.


Well that’s it! I have managed to tackle 4 questions and I am excited for the next post in this series, hitting questions like How do you ethically handle embryo creation during IVF? and Where do you suggest finding support on this journey? Can’t wait to answer!

Okay without further ado, here’s how you can enter to win the book and the awesome Fertility package! You will enter using Rafflecopter and it’s super easy – just provide an email so that I can contact you if you win for a mailing address. You can earn more points if you follow me on Instagram, share this giveaway using social media, subscribe to my blog, or leave a comment but regardless, everyone still earns 5 free entries! Can’t wait to share these products with you!

Click Here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

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* The opinions shared on my blog are based on my own thoughts, experience and knowledge gained throughout this journey. I am not a doctor or health professional so please consult your own doctor before making any changes to your health or TTC plan. It’s important for you to advocate for yourself and make your own decisions based on your health care providers plan.