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Guest Blog: Dr. Kwak-Kim success story and advocate!

I was contacted by a lovely lady who recently gave birth to a healthy baby girl! I love this letter she has written to her doctor.

Dear Dr. Erickson,

I thankfully gave birth last week to a healthy baby after an all natural and uneventful pregnancy. I am writing you this letter because exactly a year ago, after my second miscarriage, you told me I could not sustain a pregnancy without IVF. You said my chances of sustaining a natural pregnancy are next to none. These were very harsh words from you but they did not prevent me from looking for other doctors. The only reason you gave me for my chemical pregnancies was I had low-quality eggs. You also said I should consider donor eggs because of poor ovarian reserve.

I went to Chicago and had a consultation with Dr Joanne Kwak-Kim, Reproductive Immunologist. She had me do blood work and discovered that my thyroid function was not optimal, I had a positive ANA and my NK Cells count was elevated. She put me on low-dose aspirin. I started seeing an endocrinologist who put me on Levoxyl to improve my thyroid hormone levels.

After two months on the Levoxyl, I became pregnant. Dr Kwak-Kim put me on progesterone supplement, calcium and Vitamin D. Here I am now, nine months later, gratefully holding a healthy baby conceived naturally.

I hope this letter will encourage you to at least order further testing for your patients before having them pay for IVF. I know that is how you make money but your patients deserve a choice and testing to diagnose the real cause of their infertility. IVF is not the only solution and REs should at least explore all the possibilities before throwing it on the table.

I am actively advocating further testing before IVF with all the infertile women I encounter online. I also wanted to make sure I inform you about my situation. I am making this an open letter and sending it to other REs as well.

Respectfully,

K.

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This and that

I have a guest blog I’ve been meaning to post, so I promise to share it soon. She’s another Dr. Kwak-Kim success story, as well as an advocate. You won’t want to miss the letter she wrote to her previous RE, who diminished her hopes of achieving a successful pregnancy. He was wrong!! If you would like to share a post, please email me @ Baby4Lisa(at)gmail(dot)com. It can be anything uplifting or inspiring about infertility, adoption, surrogacy, pregnancy, childbirth, or motherhood.

Graham will be 4 months old in about a week! He is such a happy, alert, curious, playful little guy. We’ve seen a big change over the past few weeks. I can tell his tummy problems don’t bother him as much. It makes me feel so good to see him so happy! Graham is a great sleeper, too. Every morning, I wake up before him and can’t wait for him to wake up! He rarely cries anymore for me to come and get him. I tend to find him munching on his fingers, looking around, and cooing. He gives me millions of smiles in the morning and throughout the day and makes my heart overflow. We are incredibly lucky and blessed to have him in our lives.

He had a weight check last Monday and is now about 12 lbs and 23 inches!! Graham is such a little man, but growing amazingly well. I think about how teeny tiny and skinny he was when he was born. He’s getting heavy now lol! There are some cute little fat rolls forming! He’s in a phase where he won’t let us hold him like a baby anymore! I miss cuddles! I love that he’s growing, meeting milestones, and becoming more independent – but at the same time, it’s sad. Sometimes he looks like a little boy, not a baby! It’s like whoa, where did my little baby go?!

I mentioned in my last post that I started my first PPAF. Andy and I discussed TTC, and we are not ready to make any decisions regarding the possibility of future fertility treatments. I don’t know if we’ll ever go down that road again. We just want to enjoy our sweet boy. One thing we did decide upon, is not preventing pregnancy. We are going with the flow and letting nature take its course. If another miracle should come our way, we would feel amazingly blessed. I can’t even fathom that happening. It would blow my mind! It seems very unlikely, especially since I have so few eggs left.

Andy seems to want to try naturally. He was pretty insistent on lots of BD this cycle lol. I want to keep it as relaxed as possible. I mean, we’re on the same page though. We are enjoying each other and soaking up these precious moments with Graham. I will probably be testing monthly, unless AF shows first. If I somehow tested positive, I would need to start Lovenox and Prednisone. Right now, I’m taking Metformin, baby aspirin, and prenatals with extra Folate. Those meds are good for my diagnoses and overall health.

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Guest Blog: Secondary Infertility and 25 week premie twins

The past 4 years can be broken down into two 2 year brackets, the first two years was the heartache of ttc (trying to conceive) a baby. The second two years (starting July 24th 2011) was the moment I knew we were having another baby, little did we know Avery was hanging out too!

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Auntie Mae took pics of our 19 month olds

Let me start with the first 2 years. Of infertility, sadness, and living in the dark about it.

Matthew and I knew we wanted to have at least 3 kiddos. It was one of the earliest discussion we had as a dating couple, and one that he started. Matthew said outright “I want kids, I want more then two. If you are not on the same page, lets just end this now and still be friends”

I also wanted kids so it worked out well.

Rhys our little ninja baby was a happy surprise. He was a one shot deal. No charting cycles, no keeping temps, not even fully knowing what CD I was. He was a miracle due to my odd cycles. I remember being a young teen and discovering that I would have issues getting pregnant, and that I should try to have them younger to give myself the best odds. So because of all of this Rhys was even more of a surprise.

Due to the fact that our wedding was coming up, we decided to wait to ttc until just before the wedding.

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Little Ninja at our wedding

Rhys was 18 months at our wedding, and we wanted to try and keep the kids close together in age. We didn’t know how long it would take.

I quickly discovered a great support group online. I never knew how common infertility was, or how long people could try for a baby and what they would be willing to do to have one. Some of these women I’m still friends with today.  Did you know that about 70% of infertility is secondary infertility. People who have kids and then for some reason can’t get pregnant again.

Infertility is like a big taboo. You don’t talk about it with anyone but your partner and even then you try not to talk about it too much. You try not to dwell, you keep to yourself and you blame yourself. I was worried to talk too much about it with Matthew because I -knew- it was because of me. Yet even with that knowledge I still had to convince my doctor that I needed to figure out what the issue was. That took longer then it should.

At the beginning, the only people who knew we were ttc (other then my online friends who were also ttc) were Matthew, myself and Gwen’s godmother. After a year and a half I told Rhys’ godmother, and that was it.

Why can’t we talk about it?

Why must people who are going through this feel as though they have to live in secret about it?

It’s sad.

And it was a sad time.

Then, July 24, 2011…The second 2 years

Aug 2, 2011

Actually this is the one from Aug 2, 2011 I saved my expensive test for when I -knew- it would be positive

I couldn’t have been happier! It was as if all the worries, concerns and heartache dissipated. And then discovering at 8 weeks that there were two babies.

But then after the happiness of being pregnant, of having twins came the fear of loosing them. The discovery of dilation and needing to be put on trendelenburg bedrest. The odds of only a 10% chance of surviving birth. Each.

Blame in bedrest, believing that it was all on me. Every day was a struggle, a fight with my own body. The first night I couldn’t sleep, I was crying talking with my mother-in-law about her experience with three bedrests and two preemie deliveries. One was a very sad outcome that was too close to my own situation, the other was my husband.

And that is just the emotional side of the bedrest. Physically it took a great tole on me, for the first 4 days I had a major headache from being head down, and my neck throbbed. I tried my best not to complain, to not think of my physical discomfort because I believed that if I was too concerned with my own pain I wouldn’t win the fight to keep the girls safe inside.

I was told that I would last at most 4 days due to what the medical staff had seen before. That at 6 cm I was too far gone to give them more time. But I am stubborn and I knew that even 4 days would get them to 24 weeks and would give them better odds. I also knew that I would set a new bench mark, that I would last longer and give the girls as long as I could.

We fought for our pregnancy, I was going to fight to give them the best start before they began their fight. But on the Sunday when I couldn’t get comfortable we quickly learned that I finally hit 10 cm. But I wasn’t going to give in yet. I gave them another 4 days. 4 days to get just past 25 weeks, before the doctors said that it would do more harm with risk of infection. But because I lasted 14 days on bedrest I got them to a 60% chance of surviving their birth.

The sadness of their early delivery was overwhelming. Going in, we didn’t know if they would survive delivery, or if I was only going to deliver Gwen and go back to bedrest for Avery. Pushing for over 49 mins on Gwen I had believed that she was gone. That it was too much on her little body. But she came out screaming and did really well. Avery decided that she wanted to come too and only 9 mins later she came into the world toes first wiggling all the way.

The NICU was at least a calm spot for me. Yes my girls fought for their lives there with their medical staff, but it was no longer in my hands. The girls did what they could and I trusted the nurses and doctors fully. I knew that they would do whatever they could to to keep them alive. I met other parents who were watching their little babies fight and we still talk to this day and I love their kids like family.

Gwen - Jan 22, 2012 (27)

Gwen

Avery - Jan 24, 2012 (5)

Avery

Lingering health issues and doctors appointments. I naively believed that if they survived birth and the NICU that they would be fine. I quickly learned that between all the things that had to be done to them to help them survive could actually cause lasting affects. I should have known better, but after seeing your children defy the odds part of you believes that that is what they will continue to do.

They were followed by everyone, everyone.

Avery had blood pressure issues, and had a voice issue that we discovered overtime that was due to a paralyzed vocal cord. She will always have it, and it came about due to her PDA surgery, without the surgery she would have died.

Gwen’s prolonged ventilation, her three bouts of jaundice, the antibiotics they put her on many times her temps spiked until they found out if she had an infection and her extremely low birth weight all contributed to her hearing issue. Auditory Neuropathy, why did it have to be such a complex diagnoses.

But the positives of being followed by everyone is that we now know Avery is nearsighted, and it isn’t due to her premature birth, it’s genetic. She will need glasses before she starts school, and will get them before most kids vision problems get picked up. Without being born early, we wouldn’t have know this.

Without being born early I wouldn’t have learned as much as I do about blood pressure, hearing, vision, development. Many doctors and nurses have commented that I would do well in the medical profession due to how much I retain and study about all of the obstacles the girls have faced. My response is that I am their advocate, if I don’t understand everything then I can’t fight properly for them. I need to give them the best chance for them to develop and grow like normal kids. Not like preemies. Not like kids with disabilities.

So. Looking back, what was worse?

The first two years were hard, I hit some of my lowest points during that time. But it ended with the happiness of becoming pregnant, and some online friends that I will always have.

The last two have seen some of my happiest and saddest moments.

So they both were bad in their own way, the only way the last two are more manageable is because I have my girls, I have the support of others and I’m not covering up my sadness.

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Avery

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Gwen

For more about this beautiful family, visit: http://hitachiin1.blogspot.ca/

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Guest blog: Embryo Adoption

This is my first guest blogger, in a series (I hope), of various topics. Myself, and my guest bloggers, hope to inspire others by sharing these stories. If you have something to share, please email me @ Baby4Lisa(at)gmail(dot)com. Please comment with any questions for the guest blogger or myself.

One thing I’ve learned is that there are many different paths to parenthood. Our own personal journey led my husband and I toward embryo adoption.
For us, adoption was always a backup plan. Years ago – before seven IUI’s, two IVFs and a small fortune in meds/procedures – we explored our thoughts and resolved that if we can’t get pregnant, we will adopt.
We felt that our second round of IVF might be our last hope of having our own biological child. We started with two fresh cycles, but both failed. So our last FET with two leftover embryos from the previous cycles truly seemed like our absolute last chance. It resulted in a pregnancy, but then sadly a miscarriage after nine weeks.
According to our original plan, our next step was the adoption agency. We had already selected an agency about a year ago, and had learned as much as we could about the adoption process.
But during this very sad time (I was miscarrying), my acupuncture doctor suggested embryo adoption. I had heard of that option before, but as with other possible options, I had never really considered it.
While lots of my friends in my support group were discussing donor eggs, I really was not drawn to that. And surrogacy never came to my mind either, maybe because of the enormous expense. We agreed that we are not going to have a child and be completely broke.
But somehow embryo adoption sounded more and more interesting to us as we looked into it. If you know anything about regular adoption, then you know that it can be very expensive, with lots of legal requirements.
Embryo adoption -as presented to us- seemed like a much easier route. Basically, couples that have had IVF treatments often have left over embryos that are kept preserved in cold storage. If they conceive without using all of their stored embryos, they can choose to donate their leftovers for adoption.
For people in our situation, this process bypasses many of the legal hurdles of full adoption. And often- not always- there is only the cost of the frozen embryo transfer and legal fees. Altogether, it can be up to ten times less expensive than adoption!
Not all IFV clinics have an embryo adoption program, but we were lucky enough to be referred by my acupuncture doctor to one that does. While some embryo adoption programs can be a lot more complicated than others, on the whole it’s less complicated than the full adoption process.
I had accepted that my being pregnant was not as important as having a child of our own no matter how we got there. Still, I find the prospect of being pregnant and carrying our adopted child to be a major plus of embryo adoption. Of course I know that there is no guarantee of success, but as ever, there is always hope.
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During these long and sad years hoping for the kid I always was wondering why our wait is so long. Now I can tell that I was waiting for my sweet little boy. He fits so perfectly into our family. We are so happy and blessed!
If anyone has any questions I would gladly answer.
Babydust to all!