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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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NIAW: Join the Movement and advocate for yourself.

It’s NIAW (National Infertility Awareness Week), and this year’s blog topic from Resolve.org is “Join the Movement”.

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Image courtesy of Resolve.org

I’d like to talk about advocating for yourself. It’s essential and empowering to find your voice and stand up for yourself. It’s probably one of THE most important things you can do for YOU! Living with infertility is a confusing and sometimes lonely road. It’s overwhelming to absorb your diagnoses (or lack of diagnoses), find the right doctor or treatment protocol, and get the support you need to navigate the journey. I am now on “the other side”. I’m pregnant, but I will never forget the struggles we went through to get here. I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone, and there is hope.

Advocating for myself was the most challenging, yet rewarding task. It’s difficult because often times, no one will listen. It’s important to keep trying though. If you feel that something is “off” and your doctor won’t listen, do your research and find another doctor who will. Over the years, I’ve been treated by or consulted with about 7 doctors, including OBGYNs, Reproductive Endocrinologists, and Reproductive Immunologists. That doesn’t include the Naturopaths, Acupuncturists, Massage Therapists, and other non-traditional professionals I’ve seen.

Like many of you, I didn’t know what to do, so I did it all. I’ve had just about every blood test and procedure a person can get. I’ve taken multitudes of fertility drugs, as well as various vitamins and supplements. We did 6 IUI (Intrauterine Inseminations) cycles and 2 IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization) cycles. I’ve tried every silly trick in the book to get pregnant. I’ve fought with doctors, nurses, pharmacies, and insurance companies. I was always on a quest for knowledge. Sometimes I thought I was a crazy hypochondriac. I know some of my doctors thought so, too. I just knew there were issues we hadn’t discovered. I had to trust my gut, and I couldn’t leave any stone unturned.

Second opinions (and 3rd, 4th, etc) are extremely important! Had I taken the advice from my last 3 doctors, I would not be pregnant right now. They would not truly listen to my concerns or take the time to look for the root cause of my infertility, which ended up as autoimmune disorder. Not many doctors believe there is a correlation between autoimmune and infertility, so they won’t bother testing for it. It’s so frustrating!

I was told I needed donor eggs or a surrogate. They said I would never get pregnant. They told me I’d never have a successful, healthy pregnancy, even if I did get pregnant. I left most appointments in tears. Even so, we kept trying the same old recommended treatment protocols and hoping for the best – only to continue having early miscarriages or failed cycles. I constantly felt like door after door was being shut in my face. I felt brushed off, like they had given up on me. It should not be that way!!

I was at the end of my rope, but I had to try one last route. I did my research on immune disorders, and I ventured off to see a Reproductive Immunologist out of state – not knowing if it was even worth it or not. But boy, was it ever worth it!! Thankfully, doctor # 7 was the one who had hope for me! She was the only one to look at EVERYTHING as a whole. For the first time ever, I felt like I was in good hands! It’s so important to have confidence and trust in your doctor!

I found out I wasn’t crazy – there were several diagnoses (autoimmune and blood clotting disorders) that had never been discovered by my previous doctors. What she found was not only treatable, but it was a pretty easy treatment protocol for me! I didn’t need donor eggs, a surrogate, or even IUI or IVF! After about 6 months on my new medications, I got pregnant! 6 months is just a drop in the bucket, compared to all the other years of trying.

I couldn’t believe it, and sometimes I still don’t believe it! I’m 23 weeks along, with a healthy baby boy. Part of it is luck and a gift from God. The other part is hard work and persistence. If it’s still in your heart to keep going, don’t give up! Find a new doctor (or just meet with one to see if they will treat you the way you deserve), do your research, and trust your gut!

For more information about infertility and National Infertility Awareness Week, please check out: Infertility 101 and About NIAW (National Infertility Awareness Week).

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NIAW (National Infertility Awareness Week)

National Infertility Awareness Week starts today! Join the movement!

Whether you are living with infertility yourself – or you know someone with infertility and wish to support them, there are many ways to get involved. I wanted to kick off the week by sharing a few resources on how you can help yourself, be there for your friends/family, and show support for the cause. Resolve.org is The National Infertility Association and is the best place to start for an abundance of resources.

What is infertility? Or if you already know, would you like to learn more? Click here.

Are you a family member or friend of someone with infertility? Click here to find out how you can best support your loved one.

As a blogger, you can participate in the “Blogger Unite Program”. This Program brings bloggers together to talk about infertility during National Infertility Awareness Week. Each year a best Bloggers Unite Challenge blog is chosen for RESOLVE’s Hope Award for Best Blog.  The Hope Awards are presented at RESOLVE’s Night of Hope Gala.  The Hope Award for Best Blog is voted on by the infertility community. To read more about it, click here.

If you’d like to find other blogs for those struggling with infertility, check out Stirrup Queen’s ICLW (International Comment Leaving Week) – there’s a great list of blogs here. Stirrup Queens is a wonderful place to connect with others.

If you are looking for support – in person or online, here is a list of resources from Resolve.

If you’d like to share information with others (or read about it yourself), educate, inspire, or show your support – check out this link from Resolve.