FET Prep Week 3: You say Future Tripping, I say Future Planning

FET Prep Week 3: You say Future Tripping, I say Future Planning

I always like having a backup plan in case my original plan doesn’t work out. It helps keep me sane. Even though I believe in taking one step at a time, I also believe having a Plan B. It’s so important for being able to keep the momentum going and headed in the right direction. What if you want to try IVF again but your partner does not? In this post I write about this exact situation that my husband and I found ourselves in. Openly communicating how you both feel might be really difficult if you are on different pages. It does not necessarily mean there is no way to compromise either. Keep reading to find out how I may have found a good compromise that might work for us if this upcoming FET does not work. This post will also cover some of the changes I’m working on to help lower my weight in preparation for my FET.

 

Catch-up on Previous FET Prep Posts

FET Prep Week 1: 3.5 months until FET

FET Prep Week 2: Supplements, WTF Email, & Increased AMH Level

 

Coutdown Until FET: 95 days (as of 1-20-2020)

 

18:6 Intermittent Fasting

So right off the bat, I don’t recommend fasting for everyone. But I talked with my doctor and for my particular situation intermittent fasting could help me kick-start some weight loss. I need to lose some weight to get closer to a healthier BMI. It’s been about a year or so since I’ve done intermittent fasting. There are a lot of misconceptions about intermittent fasting. I’ve known people who did intermittent fasting to shed a lot of weight. One person I know lost about 100 pounds doing intermittent fast over a one year period. It all boils down to doing your research and listening to your body. 

Twice this week I did 18:6 intermittent fasting, which means that 18 hours of the day no calories are consumed while six hours of the day you can eat calories. The longest I went was three days. Going three days without food when you are obese is not as extreme as some might tell you. What’s more extreme is having to deal with the deadly effects of obesity including high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Unfortunately I’m currently dealing with high blood pressure and need medication. My goal is to eventually not need the medication, but this may be a long road to get there, but I have hope. 

I used to be prediabetic, which is a really scary thing to be told by your doctor. But I am happy to say I was able to lose that dreadful label. Obesity is no joke, and I think finding a doable eating plan can give people hope. For me, an 18:6 intermittent fasting plan is more doable. The goal is to avoid taking in more than 1200 calories in a day and use intermittent fasting to increase ketones activity and hopefully boost weight loss. But I’m not perfect, there were a couple days this week I didn’t track what I was eating. Although I don’t think it was an extreme amount of food, I still should have been tracking. Even if this whole weight loss endeavor is a ‘two steps forward, one step back’ kind of thing at least I’m still moving forward. 

 

HCG Test Results

Once again my hCG results were zero for the month, and I am very happy about this. If you are new to my blog, you might be scratching your head right now and asking, “But don’t you want to have a positive hCG result for a pregnancy?” The short answer is no, not right now. In a nutshell, my last miscarriage was due to a partial molar pregnancy and my doctor advised me to not get pregnant for six months due to risk of Gestational Trophoblastic Disease (GTD), which could turn into uterine cancer.

I have to get a blood test monthly to ensure my hCG levels remain negative for the next few months. It did rise slightly at one point early on and I needed a second surgery. But ever since that second surgery I have been so happy and relieved that my levels still remain negative. I only have three months left of my monthly blood test. Then after that I hope I will be doing hCG testing for a positive pregnancy test (post-FET) rather than hCG testing for potential cancer. I still find it so bizarre that it’s the same test but used for two entirely different purposes. 

 

CNY Consult Scheduled in May

So although my husband is not too keen on talking about a backup plan if this upcoming FET does not work, I am very much the type of person who prefers to have a Plan B. It helps to ease my mind knowing there is a plan in place for when things don’t work out, and that’s honestly how I think I’ve managed to keep my sanity over these years. I find that I am able to bounce back more quickly with a backup plan. My husband sees it differently, he said, “You’re future tripping. You’re expecting it [the FET] to fail before it even happens.” I don’t see it as expecting failure though, I see it as being realistic about the odds of it not working and choosing to plan ahead just in case it doesn’t work. My doctor said, “there is a 40% chance it will not work, and there is a 60% chance that it will.” The odds are in my favor, but there is also no guarantee.”

So what does my Plan B look like? It’s a phone call for my initial consult with a prominent doctor at the CNY clinic in New York. He is one of the most highly recommended doctors I’ve seen on the infertility forums and he is at one of the most affordable clinics. I chose to schedule my initial phone consult with him in mid-May. I chose mid-May because by then I would know for sure whether my embryo implanted from my FET. If it did not implant I would have that appointment all set up just in time to move forward. I knew the wait time for a consultation with CNY can be months out, so I decided to lock in my time now. 

 

When Egg Freezing Makes More Sense

What do you do if your husband or partner says they might not want to do IVF again? IVF is physically, emotionally, and financially one of the most difficult things a couple can go through. My husband has mentioned that if this upcoming FET does not work he doesn’t think he wants to pursue further IVF treatments. But I feel very strongly the opposite way. Some women run the risk of resenting their spouse for giving up before they are ready. This can lead to major regrets later in life. If you have a low AMH level it limits the amount of time you have left to have biological children, and if you change your mind later on and decide to do IVF it could be too late. So what’s a girl to do? If in your heart of hearts you feel very strongly that you are not ready to completely give up on doing IVF, I recommend an alternative solution. 

I decided a solution to my current predicament is to consider freezing my eggs. I could do a few egg retrievals, freeze those little eggies, and take the time to focus on my marriage and other goals I have. I see it as a win-win. I would be preserving my potential fertility while allowing room for other things in my life, rather than being fully consumed with infertility treatments back to back with no break in between. Even the idea of freezing my eggs and taking a year off to actually live my life seems like a nice option. We need to find some sort of compromise, and I think egg freezing can be a good one. Egg freezing isn’t just for single women, it’s also for couples like us who need a break and still want to preserve their fertility for the future. If you are in a similar situation, I’d suggest doing some research on egg freezing and consider whether this might be a good idea for you. The same goes for my male readers as well, consider freezing your sperm at a younger age to help preserve your fertility, if your partner is saying they need a break from doing IVF.

 

Mini-Victories for the Week

Reduced gluten intake somewhat (less wheat bread).

Did 18:6 intermittent fasting a couple times this week. 

Set up CNY phone consultation with the doctor I wanted.

 

Work in Progress

Go shopping to buy more veggies and some fruit. Fresh preferred, frozen…okay, canned…meh (but better than nothing).

Consistently track calories daily.

Don’t overdo the exercise like I did this past week. Try to aim for consistency with one hour daily, six times per week.

weight

 

 

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read the disclosure here

Want to find out how fertile you are? The Modern Fertility test is an affordable test that shows your hormone levels and gives you an overall picture of where you stand with your fertility. What hormones will the test? Depending on the type of birth control you are on they can test up to eight different hormone levels which may include:

AMH (Anti-mullerian hormone)

FSH (Follicle stimulating hormone)

E2 (Estradiol)

LH (Luteinizing hormone)

TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone)

FT4 (Free thyroxine)

PRL (Prolactin)

T (Testosterone)

Order your test today.

Modern Fertility Test – Women’s Health Hormone Test You Can Take at Home – Not Available NY, NJ, RI

FET Prep Week 2: Supplements, WTF Email, & Increased AMH Level

FET Prep Week 2: Supplements, WTF Email, & Increased AMH Level

This week was crazy, for different reasons. Crazy productive, crazy stressful, and also crazy exciting. That’s a lot of crazies! I want to make this FET Prep weekly series more reader-friendly so I will break down the week’s highlights by topics, then go over my mini-victories for the week, and finally things that are a work in progress. I’ll also include my weight loss ticker near the bottom of my posts as I am trying to get to a healthier weight before my FET.

 

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read the disclosure here

 

Supplements

So I sent a message to my fertility clinic asking about supplements and other suggestions they have for me. I got kind of an underwhelming response of very little info on how to prepare for an FET with supplements and diet. I’m surprised at how little it is compared to what I’m reading and when I compare notes with what others have said helped them have a successful FET. In a nutshell it says, take a prenatal and eat healthy food. I find the lack of information in that message to be really dubious. 

updated dr response

Screenshot of the response from my clinic for recommendations of supplements and food suggestions to prepare for FET.

I did my own research on the supplements that may help thicken the lining of my uterus, therefore increasing the chances of my embryo implanting. Check out page 183 in the second edition of It Starts with the Egg to read Rebecca Fett’s suggestions on supplements. The vitamins I plan on taking will probably vary from what you need, so buy the book and then check with your doctor. 

Prenatal – Thorne Basic Prenatal (with at least 800mcg of methylfolate)

Vitamin E – Solgar (600mg/day or 900IU/day)

Vitamin D – Nature Made (4000-5000IU/day)

L-arganine – Solgar (6g/day)

Bio-quinone Q10 Gold (400mg/day: 200mg at breakfast and 200mg at lunch) 

Low-Dose Asprin – Kirkland Signature (81mg/day)

5-MTHF – Thorne 5mg (this supplement is specific to my needs, due to my MTHFR gene mutation) 

IMG_20200110_185600

The WTF Email

So my husband was considering discarding his sperm that is stored at our clinic. He had concerns about continuing to pay for it, especially after our clinic increased the prices this year. He had mentioned this to me recently that he was thinking about stopping the payment and having the clinic discard it. I heard him out and thought he was going to think about for a bit. I mentioned to him in the past I could take over the payments in January 2020. Thursday my husband took the initiative to call them and tell them he was going to stop paying and to discard the sperm. I didn’t know he was going to do this, thus resulting in a s**t storm of epic proportions that ensued.

The first problem, right off the bat, is that he was choosing to discard sperm from two years ago. They say the younger the sperm the better your chances of a successful live-birth. He’s approaching his mid-40s, which I’m learning from different sources is when sperm starts to decline in quality (Better Health Channel, 2017). The second problem, my recent miscarriage was related to a sperm issue which we had not experienced at all in the earlier years of our infertility. After everything I’ve been learning these past few weeks I thought I should step up and take over paying for his sperm storage bill, since he is helping with a lot of other bills. But I was too late, he had already made the phone call to stop his payments and discard the sperm. He sent me a text to let me know.

I sent a few panicked texts to him explaining why I thought this was a bad idea. I told him I was willing to take over payments. So I called the clinic right away and explained that we did not want to actually discard it and that I would take over the payments. I had to print off an automatic payment form, fill it out, yell at my printer for 10 minutes because it refused to scan it in, then I figured out to just take a picture of it with my phone to send it in. I spent the entire afternoon either on hold, playing phone tag, responding to messages from the financial department, while also responding to messages from my medical team. I even double checked that my embryo payment plan was still on track as well, since no change was suppose to happen with that. Their patient service representative reassured me, “Yeah you look good to go with your payments, I don’t see anything due yet for the month for your embryo storage.” I finally took a breath and thought I had everything sorted out.

But then the next morning I open my email and see a message from the clinic that looked like they were going to discard not only the sperm but also the embryo I have in storage. That right there was my what-the-f**k email, as in what the actual f**k is going on to where they would even think it’s okay to send me that email after I emphasized in a voicemail message, and through their online messaging portal, and verbally over the phone with two representatives that I did not want any sperm discarded and now they are lumping in discarding my embryo.

consent

Screenshot from the “WTF Email.”

I was beyond pissed, but I gathered enough composure to calmly send out another portal message, then spoke to a representative on the phone who then transferred me to leave a voicemail for the financial department. I later received a portal message that said essentially “disregard that email.” They then said, “Please fill out an updated payment form for your embryo storage” which totally contradicts what they told me yesterday when they told me everything was current. All of this just adds to the reasons I am not going to do any future IVF cycles with this clinic after my upcoming FET. I have only one embryo out of two rounds of IVF, that’s reason enough to give them the boot.

Increased AMH Level

On a completely different note, I finally got some of my recent blood test results back from my local OBGYN office. In December I decided to check my different blood levels, which are some of the ones the Modern Fertility test looks at. For the end of 2019 I opted to get the tests through my doctors office because I already met my out-of-pocket maximum so these tests would be free. But any other time I would have ordered the Modern Fertility test because it is way cheaper than testing at the doctors office. My doctor was out of the office but my nurse relayed the results to me. Here it is:

December 2019

AMH 0.63

FSH 15.8

Luteinizing hormone 9.4

Testosterone 13

Prolactin 22.4

Estradiol 17.6

Compare that to…

January 2018

AMH 0.19

FSH 0.5

Prolactin 12.0

My AMH (Anti-Müllerian hormone) level went up from 0.19 to 0.63 which I am really excited about. I’m so happy I could throw a party. I never thought it would increase at all, so to see it increase blew my mind. I feel sorry for anyone who does not deal with infertility and therefore does not understand the significance of this event. I’d say it’s equivalent to Jesus walking on water, or at least that’s what I tell myself.

Mini-Victories for the Week

Almost completely stopped adding sugar to coffee.

Drinking less coffee now down to just a few times a week.

Taking my blood pressure pills more regularly (thanks to phone alarms 😊 )

Created a daily checklist for FET prep that includes each supplement, cups of water, exercise, etc.  I will probably add more to the list if I learn any other things that may benefit me on a daily basis.

IMG_20200110_144949

Contacted fertility clinic to set date for FET in April.

Eating healthier than I normally do, including more veggies. Nom nom.

Resolved the “WTF email” I mentioned earlier without losing my s**t.

Stopped using my old coffee maker that had a lot of plastic components and tried our new french press. Plastic + heat =  toxic chemicals. Will be stopping coffee completely by Week 4 of my FET Prep, exactly 3 months before FET.

coffee maker

Work in Progress

Reduce gluten products from my diet.

Continue to incorporate more fruits and veggies in my life. 

Put peanut butter out of reach and a note on it to persuade me from using if I do reach it. Done and done. Now I just need to make sure I don’t crawl up there to reach it this upcoming week. Peanut butter is my kryptonite.

IMG_20200106_152225

 

weight

 

Want to find out how fertile you are? The Modern Fertility test is an affordable option that shows your hormone levels and gives you an overall picture of where you stand with your fertility. What hormones will they test? Depending on the type of birth control you are on they can test up to eight different hormone levels which may include:

AMH (Anti-mullerian hormone)

FSH (Follicle stimulating hormone)

E2 (Estradiol)

LH (Luteinizing hormone)

TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone)

FT4 (Free thyroxine)

PRL (Prolactin)

T (Testosterone)

Order your test today.

Modern Fertility Test – Women’s Health Hormone Test You Can Take at Home – Not Available NY, NJ, RI

 

FET Prep Week 1: 3.5 months until FET

FET Prep Week 1: 3.5 months until FET

Some say preparing for a Frozen Embryo Transfer is like preparing for the Olympics. The three months prior to the actual transfer are the most important time to make healthy changes to increase the chances of an embryo sticking. Some books tell you to go dairy free, gluten free, processed-food free, and everything-but-fruit-and-veggies free. Limit your toxins, eliminate foods that inflame, don’t paint your nails, don’t eat deli meat, don’t do this or that, or anything really. Just sit in your little safe bubble at home, without any makeup on, without deodorant, and eat rabbit food for three months. If you have any OCD tendencies prepping for a FET is enough to make your head explode because you so want to follow the advice to a T, but if you followed it all you might just lose your marbles. But others with a more laissez-faire approach may tell you, “It was so easy, you basically just show up and bloop they put the embryo in.” 

So how can you not lose your mind through this process? And where do I fall on the diverse spectrum of those preparing for a FET? I’d like to aim at the more reasonable approach, using the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the time I’d like to follow my plan, and 20 percent of the time I might allow some wiggle room. I know myself. I know that if I go full bore at first I’m probably going to throw in the towel more easily because it’s so vastly different from how I normally live. But by already allowing myself to have some wiggle room with how I eat, exercise, and use beauty products, I am eliminating the excuse of it being “too much.” Because it’s not too much if you have reasonable expectations.

My goal is to follow the Mediterranean diet at least 80% of the time. From what I understand it’s basically Pescatarian with occasional meat other than fish. It includes fruits, veggies, fish, healthy oils, and avoiding processed food to name a few. I was Pescatarian in 2019 for about four months but I was still eating processed food. In the book It Starts with the Egg by Rebecca Fett she writes about studies that have shown a correlation between following the Mediterranean diet and increased fertility. I need to learn more about the specifics, I have a general idea of what to expect. 

As far as exercise, I’d like to aim for 30-60 minutes per day, six days per week. I was working overnight shift but I recently stopped to improve my overall health. I think this will make it easier to have a regular workout time now. I’m thinking of working out first thing in the morning before work. I have a treadmill at home I use a couple times a week but I plan on using it more often now. I paid ahead for a punch card to go swimming, which I haven’t done in a long time. I’m looking forward to getting back into swimming. Fall and winter time I tend to slip into hibernation mode and I exercise less, and I need to break out of that cycle. 

I woke up on New Year’s Eve with a bad cold. I spent most of the night in bed with my head under the covers grumbling at the sound of popping fireworks and went back to sleep. I didn’t have any exciting plans for the night anyway so I feel like I didn’t miss much. When I reflect back on 2019 it was just okay. It wasn’t terrible, but it could have been better. Honestly, it was a challenging year dealing with two more miscarriages and more surgeries. I realized I’m a lot stronger than I thought, having dealt with this for several years. But this year I want to focus on some healthy coping habits that will help me deal with whatever the outcome is from this upcoming FET.

 

I saw a post on facebook I liked relating to New Years Resolutions…

 

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I decided I wanted to do a similar New Years Resolution and came up with this instead…

 

This New Year

 

And to be more specific I came up with the following hobbies to pursue for myself:

Mind: Write a novel.

Body: Train for my first “running” 5k.

Creative Spirit: Learn how to make at several pieces of jewelry.

 

I’ve done 5k’s but I’ve never actually ran in them, I would always walk in them. But this time I want to try my hand at running it. Training for a 5k and maybe a 10k later on will help me get in shape for my FET. I decided to set a weight loss goal I would like to achieve before my FET. My goal is to try to lose 20 pounds before mid-April 2020, which is currently a little over three months away. 

 

 

So much of my life revolves around trying to have a baby. But if I start to pursue other hobbies I’m passionate about, I think it will help me to have a better year. I’m hoping 2020 will bring more growth and that each of you will also find something this year to lift your spirits. Happy New Year!

 

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read the disclosure here

 

Experiencing infertility or recurrent miscarriages? You might have a genetic issue and not even know it. 23andMe offers one of the most comprehensive genetic testing services on the market. Click here to order the 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service: Personal Genetic DNA Test Including Health Predispositions, Carrier Status, Wellness, and Trait Reports.

Movie Review: “Private Life”

Movie Review: “Private Life”

Private Life (2018)

Writer & Director: Tamara Jenkins

Length: 2h 3min

Watch on Netflix

HopingForBaby.com Rating: 5 out of 5

Heads up, this review contains some spoilers so go watch the movie first on Netflix.

Damn! “Private Life” dives right into the deep end, with all the raw emotions that come up with infertility, IVF, and egg donation. It was funny at times, but mostly poignant (in a good way). Rachel (played by Kathryn Hahn) and Richard (played by Paul Giamatti) are in their 40s and have done multiple IUIs and now have to try out other means of artificial reproduction.

Rachel is categorized as having “advanced maternal age,” a medical term for women over 35 years old. Now they’ve reached the point of needing to do IVF due to Richard’s very low sperm count, plus he only has one testicle. Richard has to endure the cringe-worthy surgery called TESE (Testicular Sperm Extraction). I had preconceptions of what men go through during the IVF process and how they have it “easy.” But after learning about TESE, I take that back. The movie didn’t show the TESE surgery, just Richard holding an ice pack on his crotch afterwards in the hospital while Rachel was lying next to him, post-surgery from her egg retrieval. There was a bittersweet solidarity between the two of them in that moment. 

But infertility has a way of wedging in between couples, and they inevitably have both minor and major fights. I watched this movie when it was first released in 2018, prior to my IVF procedures, and then I decided to watch it again after two rounds of IVF and only one resulting embryo. The first time I watched it I thought it was depressing. But the second time watching it I was shaking my head in agreement with many of the scenes. I genuinely liked how real it is, unlike some of the YouTube infertility couples that seem so glossy and keep me wondering, “Okay…but how do you really feel?” 

1_RdOycqLpAEf4Gy4_t16UvA@2x - Edited

Credit: Medium.com

Richard and Rachel face facts and realize that IVF probably will not work for Rachel again. They decide to look into egg donation. Initially they were considering an anonymous donor but then decided to ask Sadie, Richard’s step-niece (not biologically related). Rachel thought this might be a good idea because she wanted it to be someone they knew. Sadie is a 25-year-old college drop out, unemployed, and has time on her hands to help out her step-uncle and step-aunt. Sadie undergoes the same egg retrieval process Rachel already went through before, minus the embryo transfer. Sadie learns she is a poor responder to the medication and that she has incredibly low egg count for her age. Her egg count is on par with a woman in their 40s. Had she not decided to be an egg donor she might not have known about her fertility issues. Sadie’s mother Cynthia (played by Molly Shannon) was totally against her daughter doing the egg retrieval. I like how this conflict erupted during Thanksgiving, because there’s no better time to have angry disagreement than on Thanksgiving Day. Although Cynthia was never on-board with her daughter’s decision and she comes across as not understanding, I think Cynthia just wanted what was best for her daughter.

On the surface, this movie might seem like a downer. But I found “Private Life” to be refreshing with its fearless exploration of what happens not only to the couple experiencing infertility but also the extended family. It’s also about grieving, over and over again. Richard and Rachel had to grieve for every failed IUI, failed IVF from both Rachel’s eggs and Sadie’s eggs, and also a failed adoption (birth mother got their hopes up then disappeared). It’s an accumulation of grief over time but also a testament to their perseverance, and perseverance does not have to be pretty. It can be furious, depressed, hopeful, and mournful. It can be also be found in those moments of caring for our emotions independently, rather than relying on our partner to build us back up. It can be found in sharing what we really think, even when we know it will hurt our partner to hear it. 

But perseverance can also be found together as a couple through the shared experience of loss and moving forward with whatever happens next. I think “Private Life” showed all of the above and ended beautifully with the scene of them in the diner, waiting to meet a birth mother who might adopt to them. We don’t know how Rachel and Richard’s story ends, other than seeing the spark of hope come back into their eyes as they patiently wait. 

 

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read the disclosure here

 

Experiencing infertility or recurrent miscarriages? You might have a genetic issue and not even know it. 23andMe offers one of the most comprehensive genetic testing services on the market. Click here to order the 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service: Personal Genetic DNA Test Including Health Predispositions, Carrier Status, Wellness, and Trait Reports.

Featured Image Credit: https://southasiansnews.com/2018/10/02/private-life-a-movie-about-a-marriage-in-crisis-offers-a-new-depiction-of-infertility/

 

Movie Review: “Making Babies”

Movie Review: “Making Babies”

“Making Babies” (2019)

Writer & Director: Josh F. Huber

Length: 87 minutes

Watch on Amazon

HopingForBaby.com Rating: 4 out of 5

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read the disclosure here

Spoiler Alert! Click here to watch the movie first if don’t want to read some of the spoilers below.

I don’t care about what movie critics say, this was a good movie. I see it as a rom-com with infertility as the main conflict in the storyline. It was funny, surprisingly funny. It was really silly at times, but in a good way. I laughed out loud when Katie (played by Eliza Coupe) used an Irish accent to talk dirty to her husband John (played by Steve Howey) as she “assisted” her husband John (played by Steve Howey) in the specimen room. I haven’t laughed that hard in a while. In fact, I don’t know any other movie out there like this one that has taken the subject of infertility and had a good balance of dealing with real emotions while also having funny moments too.

I feel many of the scenes and dialogue were inspired by personal experiences because the different scenarios were all too familiar for those of us dealing with infertility, including cliched advice. Katie’s sister-in-law Maria (played by Elizabeth Rodriguez) told Katie to “just relax,” “go on vacation,” and “Have you thought about adopting?” Although the intention is to be helpful, most of us who’ve struggled with infertility know those statements are overused and become incredibly annoying to hear over and over again. But Maria makes up for it later by apologizing and telling Katie she didn’t realize how difficult it really was for her until she saw how long Katie had been struggling to conceive. Katie and Maria are on the opposite ends of the fertility spectrum, with Maria having three children right after getting married while Katie was still struggling to conceive after five years. But Maria opened up to Katie and explained how she had panic attacks after having her first child. Maria expressed that she didn’t think she could tell others about her postpartum mental health. And Katie might not have felt comfortable talking about her infertility at times. Although this scene happened at a fairly fast clip in the movie, I felt like there was gold in that moment. The societal expectations of women becoming mothers and what being a “good mother” looks like weighed on both Maria and Katie but in different ways. I think there was a really good message in that moment, we can still support each other even if we haven’t walked the same path as other women. 

I liked how there seemed to be an equal amount of both Katie’s perspective as well as John’s. After trying to conceive for five years and spending so much money on IUI and IVF it started to weigh on them not just financially but also emotionally. There was a very raw scene near the end of the movie where they have an argument. Although it didn’t fit the majority of the movie’s comedic feel, that scene was so important to show. Their fight was about the huge toll infertility treatments were taking on not only their finances but their emotional health as well. John sacrificed starting up his dream brewery business in order to put money towards the cost of treatment. Katie explained how she had to sacrifice so much physically and emotionally.  

After watching that scene it felt like the argument was inspired by a real event. Most couples doing infertility treatment will reach a point where they begin to question when they should stop treatments. Based on my own experience as well as many of my online friends doing treatment have said, at some point you are going to disagree on when and whether to stop treatments. Many times couples are not on the same page or have a hard time figuring out a reasonable compromise. It takes a lot of good communication and listening to each other to figure this out.

For many of us that is our reality, we put all our other hopes and dreams on hold. Our dream of having a child demands a hefty price to pay. The average cost for one round of IVF is between $10,000 – $20,000. The overly simplified “just adopt” solution we get told often is incredibly expensive too, averaging at $40,000 – $50,000. It was no wonder John and Katie reached a breaking point when they had no money left and no patience left with each other either.  

Director and writer Josh Huber did an excellent job showing how many of us put everything on the line in order to try to start a family. I liked that he also had Katie and John reach a pivotal point in their relationship where they either need to stop trying in order to stay together, or choose to go their separate ways. Many couples struggling with infertility have gone through this. I personally know of several friends whose relationships ended due to infertility, it’s sadly common. I think that Josh Huber initially grabs our attention with the humorous aspects of infertility and he drives it home with a really good message knowing when to focus on your partner and when to take a break from trying to conceive. 

Some movie critics wrote some snarky and downright mean things about this movie. I definitely get the sense those people never experienced infertility. Yes, the movie had some cheesy and silly moments, but overall I thought it was a good movie. The only reason I gave it a 4 out of 5 was part of the storyline was confusing. The doctor told Katie that she had nothing wrong with her at all, and that their infertility was due to John’s low sperm count. But then later they talked about how Katie had several infertility issues and this was part of their argument. I don’t recall any mention of Katie learning she had issues in her doctor’s visits. So for John to say in their argument something to the effect of he didn’t want to be with someone who couldn’t have kids, it didn’t make sense to me.

I like that it showed a good amount of the male perspective through John’s character. I feel like we need to hear more of the male perspective relating to infertility. I think that a good amount of men feel they need to “suck it up” and not express their disappointment, anger, and even depression during infertility. But this can really drive a wedge between partners. It’s okay to show emotion during those times because it is a very emotional experience. Holding it all in does no one any good. When John blew up at Katie I felt like it was that kind of situation, where he was holding things in for so long until it finally boiled over. Even though us women may be injecting ourselves with the medicine and dealing with the physical aspect of fertility treatments, this does not mean our partner’s are not going through a lot of stress and emotions around the whole process. This movie did a good job of showing that. I recommend watching this movie yourself, and tell me what you think in the comments below. What parts of the movie did you like?

 

Watch the movie “Making Babies” on Amazon by clicking here.

 

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Documentary Review: “Modern Baby” by ABC News Documentaries

Documentary Review: “Modern Baby” by ABC News Documentaries

“Modern Baby”

ABC News Documentaries

Available on Hulu and YouTube (click here to watch full documentary on YouTube)

Length: 48 minutes

HopingForBaby.com Rating: 5 out of 5

 

Spoiler alert!: I do talk about the pregnancy outcomes in this post, just a heads up. Go watch the documentary first and then come back to read my perspective on it if you haven’t seen it already. Don’t forget to comment below what you thought of the documentary.

 

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Image Credit: AVNblogfeed.com

 

Much like my own experience has been with infertility, this documentary was a roller coaster of emotions. With each positive pregnancy test and each miscarriage, I knew exactly what these women were going through. After hearing the beginning of each couples stories I had made assumptions with who would probably have a live birth first, all of my assumptions were wrong. You truly never know what the outcome will be until you try. The hardest part of infertility is taking the next step forward after a loss. Each of these couples were incredibly strong and had amazingly supportive partners. If any of the couples happens to read this post, I know the pain and joy each of you have felt and I wish you all the luck with continuing to build your family! 

Chris & Kerry’s Story

Kerry: 34 years old

Chris: 39 years old

2.5 years trying to conceive

Low Ovarian Reserve

Kerry and Chris only planned on doing one round of IVF with Kerry’s own eggs. I could relate very strongly to their story because I also have Low Ovarian Reserve and I had a round of IVF with similar numbers as Kerry who had 5 eggs retrieved, 3 fertilized, and 0 normal embryos. Kerry said, “It was literally like losing our children” when she talked about losing her embryos. I felt the exact same way. I grieved losing three children at the same time it felt like, even though I had called them “embryos” up until the point I had heard I lost them. It is incredibly emotional and I cried while watching their story, because I know that pain. 

Kerry and Chris considered what their next step would be between an egg donor, embryo adoption, or traditional adoption. They chose to go with embryo adoption. Chris explained why he was open to the idea of embryo adoption, “Part of me said, ‘well it’s only fair,’ it’s not Kerry’s DNA so why should it be mine?” I felt myself grieving with Kerry and Chris when they shared the news that their first embryo transfer had failed. They were determined to try again with their last adopted embryo out of two. Happily they conceived with their last embryo they adopted and they had a healthy live birth. I’m so happy they had a good outcome and thankful that they were able to share their story to the world. 

James & Latanya’s Story

Latanya: 35 years old

James: 34 years old

6 years of trying to conceive

Tubal Factor Infertility (damage to Latanya’s fallopian tubes)

James and Latanya had been trying for over six years to have a baby. They had lost their baby boy when Latanya was a little over six months pregnant. She also had damage to her fallopian tubes and was told she would have to have IVF in order to get pregnant. They started a GoFundMe account asking for financial assistance to help pay for IVF due to the high cost of the procedure. James decided to get a loan to help pay for their round of IVF. The documentary shows James and Latanya’s egg retrieval procedure where she had 27 eggs retrieved. They decided to transfer two embryos at the same time. I was over the moon happy for them when they said that they were pregnant with not one baby but two! So it was heartbreaking to hear that she had lost her babies at week 22 of her pregnancy. 

Although I am not a strongly religious person I have questioned my faith and how God works through my own infertility journey. The part of James and Latanya’s story that I related to the most was how they had asked God why it was happening to them. I’ve been told many times, “You would be such a good mom” so I know the struggle of wondering why God works the way He does. The part that stuck out to me the most about their story was how James said, “Our faith has been a staple in who we are, and even having to reconcile the walk of faith with the outcome.” That statement to me was very powerful because it shows that although they experienced such a devastating loss of two babies that were stillborn, they were able to draw on their faith to carry them through. They talked about how the support of their friends and family was also important for them to move forward. James and Latanya decided they plan to look into IVF again in the future.

Adam & Aviva’s Story

Aviva: 29 years old

Adam: 29 years old

Male Factor Infertility due to Testicular Cancer

Adam battled testicular cancer and amazingly survived. Adam and Aviva had one child prior to Adam’s cancer diagnosis and they wanted to try to give their son a sibling. They knew their odds of success would probably be low for a positive outcome due to a very low sperm count. They were hopeful and chose to pursue IVF. The documentary follows Aviva as she has her egg retrieval procedure. 

I was so excited to see Aviva have 29 eggs retrieved, way more than the highest number I had retrieved with 8 eggs. It’s hard to not compare numbers like these, as many women in the infertility forums tend to do. I think it is part of wanting to seek out other women in situations similar to ourselves and see if there is hope. I had been overjoyed to hear their happy news of their pregnancy and then I felt so sad for Aviva and Adam when her pregnancy had failed. They tried again with a second round of IVF and the documentary left off with them expecting their baby to be born in a couple months.

Sarah & Yessie’s Story

Sarah: 32 years old

Yessie: 38 years old

3 years of trying to conceive

Experienced a Miscarriage

Yessie and Sarah had been trying to conceive for three years. They said that age was a factor in how they decided who would attempt to get pregnant first in their same-sex relationship. Yessie tried first and it was so sad to hear about her miscarriage. Yessie talked about how writing poetry helped her heal and cope with her loss. Miscarriage is so devestating, and at the risk of Yessie expiencing another loss they carefully considered what they would do next. They decided to have Sarah try IVF next with her own eggs and they choose a sperm donor. 

I liked how they talked about the process of how they chose a sperm donor. For same-sex female couples, single females, and couples with male-factor infertility it is a major decision to choose a sperm donor. It was interesting to hear their perspective on how they decided on their donor. They talked about how some people might have the tendency to pick a sperm donor based on their physical attributes, but what I really liked about their decision is that they based it on the sperm donor’s essay and how he would be happy with knowing his child was being raised in a loving home like Sarah and Yessie’s. I felt so happy for them when Sarah was able to have a healthy pregnancy and to hear that they were trying IVF again to give their firstborn a sibling.

 

Today’s Question: 

What parts of the documentary could you relate to the most? 

 

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Contest Announcement: Win $25 + “It Starts with the Egg” Book by Rebecca Fett

Contest Announcement: Win $25 + “It Starts with the Egg” Book by Rebecca Fett

 

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Winner: $25 sent via PayPal + First edition copy of the book “It Starts with the Egg: How the Science of Egg Quality Can Help You Get Pregnant Naturally, Prevent Miscarriage, and Improve Your Odds in IVF ” by Rebecca Fett

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  • Write a Guest Post (5x bonus entries), minimum 500 words. See topic suggestions on my page Submit a Guest Post. If you write a guest post and have a blog or other website I will let you link to your page. 🙂

 

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Early Preparation for FET

Early Preparation for FET

As time has gone on, I’ve learned to take things one step at a time with my infertility journey. I used to get way ahead of myself with planning and anticipating all the different scenarios of what could go wrong and all the various solutions. Yeah, that was no way to live. I was so stuck in my head all the time. I didn’t take time to just breathe. 

I chose to wait until I was closer to doing my Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) before doing research. As long as everything goes according to plan I’ll be doing my FET around April or May of 2020. My OBGYN told me to start preparing for the FET by trying to get in as healthy of a state as I can. I needed to face the facts; I’m 40 pounds overweight, I need medication to manage my blood pressure, my eating habits suck, and I have a Ph.D. in couch potato activities. I need to make some changes in order to help my little embryo have a chance. I don’t want to make things harder on my embryo.

This week I’ve been shifting gears and focusing more on my health. I have been sticking to a 1200 calorie a day diet and have already lost two pounds in four days. “Girl, you need a salad, not french fries” I’ve been telling myself. For those of us with the MTHFR gene mutation it is incredibly important to eat extra folate, which can be found in dark leafy greens. And as I’ve been eating salads more lately I do feel better. I feel full and also just generally happier because I know I didn’t eat crappy food. I have been trying to reign in my cravings and replace them with healthier habits. I’m hoping I can lose a good amount of this weight before my FET next year.

I still need to do more research on specific ways to improve “stickiness” for a successful FET. I’m sure that last statement may have elicited some confused looks from people who don’t know what I mean by “stickiness.” But for others who have done an FET they are probably nodding their heads in agreement, “oh yeah, you gotta improve your stickiness.” Essentially what that means is doing all you can to improve your uterine lining’s thickness to where it creates the best opportunity for the embryo to “stick” resulting in a successful implantation of the embryo. “About 20-30% of healthy embryos that arrive in the uterus do not implant, on average” (Pacific Fertility Center, 2014). So although the odds are in favor of a successful implantation, there is still a somewhat high chance of a failed implantation. Hence the reason I am focused on improving my “stickiness.” 

 

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Many women opt to wear lucky socks to help them stay positive during the FET procedure. Credit: The Journey Starts Here

 

The stakes are higher for me too, since I have only one embryo that resulted from two rounds of IVF. As long as I know I did all I possibly could, I will be at peace with whatever happens. Honestly, because I’ve experienced so much loss along the way I would be blown away if this actually worked. I am hopeful but also realistic of my chances of success. Even in the healthiest of women, there is still the chance that the embryo will not implant. In those cases, there is still a lot of research that needs to be done to determine what causes failed implantations. Based on the various articles I’ve read, there often times just isn’t an explanation due to lack of research and studies on the subject. IVF is still a fairly new science with the first IVF baby born in 1978, and there is still much to be discovered. 

In the past I’ve briefly glanced at what women were saying worked for them for a successful implantation. I’ll tell you what, this is a hotly, hotly debated subject in infertility forums. Some women say don’t eat pineapple at all, while others say you have to gnaw on the pineapple core at a certain time. Others are convinced the order of french fries they ate immediately following their FET did the trick, while others say “No it’s just before the FET that you need to eat fries” or “No, no you shouldn’t eat any fries at all before or after the FET.” To me it all seems a little absurd the back and forth and the “my way is the right way” mentality. 

Part of me wants to be a troll and ask, “What about during the actual FET procedure having my husband feed me fries at one-second intervals while I tap my head with my one hand, rub my belly with the other, and everyone in the room chants like Buddhist monks?” But I feel like my attempt at a joke might actually make someone chime in and say, “Yes that worked for me. I did it and now I have my baby girl.” To me it is all confusing, conflicting, and downright silly at times. There are so many variables that go into a successful implantation that we don’t know about yet, and some that I’m sure only God currently knows. We just need to do the best we can to be as healthy as we can. Most of all, you’ve got to consider your source. Listen to your doctor, read scientific journals that have done researched-based studies on the subject. Don’t just take Susie Q’s advice because she is convinced that the 2-hour handstand she did after her FET was what worked. But then again, maybe Susie Q might be on to something with using gravity’s assistance to aid the embryo’s journey. Joking aside, take the time to do your own research and determine what is best for you. I’ve got a lot to learn on the subject and I will be doing posts on implantation in the future. If you are also at the stage where you are preparing to do your FET let me know what you are doing to improve your chances of success.

Comment below to Today’s Question and receive bonus entry to the current contest.

Today’s Question: 

What is the craziest piece of advice you’ve heard for improving implantation? In contrast, what is the best piece of advice you’ve learned about for improving implantation?

 

Check out my previous posts by going to my archives page.

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read the disclosure here

Learn ways to improve your egg quality. Purchase Rebecca Fett’s book “It Starts with the Egg: How the Science of Egg Quality Can Help You Get Pregnant Naturally, Prevent Miscarriage, and Improve Your Odds in IVF.” It’s currently the #1 Best Seller on Amazon.com’s Reproductive Medicine & Technology list. 

 

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8 Ways to Handle the Holidays During Infertility

8 Ways to Handle the Holidays During Infertility

These tips have proven helpful for myself and  other women I know during the holidays. Some of these ideas I learned from other women on infertility forums that I found to be really useful. They may not be the best option for you, so consider your own life circumstances and decide what is right for you. Consider the pros and cons if you were to do the following tips. Above all else, consider what is best for your own physical and emotional health.

1) Declining a Holiday Party Invitation is Okay

I had to do this a few times when I knew there would be pregnant women and small children. I seem to be a magnet for little kids. As much as I love kids, after having a miscarriage so close to a holiday it was just too much to bear. So I made the decision for my own mental health take a step back and take care of myself. Other people may be confused or irritated by your decision but it’s so important to take care of yourself if you feel like it will be too difficult.

2) Ask for Your Partner’s Help

During one holiday gathering of just a small group of my husband’s family, I requested he speak to his family on my behalf and that they please not ask questions related to my miscarriage or infertility. I wanted to be able to go to the holiday event, enjoy myself, and not deal with any questions regarding my infertility. I only recommend doing this for very small gatherings where you feel people would be understanding and respectful of this wish. It was nice to be able to go out and not have to deal with the questions when my heart was still hurting from a recent loss. 

3) Address Potential Questions Ahead of Time 

Sometimes you want to share what you are going through but you may not want to do it during Thanksgiving or Christmas when there’s a whole room of people you may not want to hear your story. So if you know there are certain people who are curious by nature, try chatting with them before the party if you feel comfortable doing this. You can share what you are going through if you feel like doing so. You can even ask them “Please don’t share this with anyone.” Don’t forget to thank them for letting you share. But also keep in mind whether they have a track record of having loose lips if they have a few drinks. In that case it might be best to avoid talking with them before the party, because they may accidentally talk about what you said to them.

4) Be Vague 

Sometimes the best response is a vague one. I’ve had some people in my life ask me “When are you going to have kids?” and when I say, “Hopefully soon” I get a slew of not so savory responses. Some of those responses include, “What are you waiting for?” or “You’re not getting any younger” and the all-time most detestable one… “You better get on that” with the emphasis on “that” being a purposeful innuendo. Really people?! So rather than leaving the door open for a plethora of insulting comments, I’ve decided to have a canned response that not a single person felt compelled to push the subject or make stupid comments. My go-to response to the question of “When are you going to have kids?” is now “Whenever God lets it happen.” So far not a single person has pressed the subject or made any demeaning remarks to me when I use that line. In my experience, this is a polite response that shifts people’s attention to God as opposed to anything I’m personally doing. Because you can’t argue with God.

5) Be Honest 

Most people do not intend to be hurtful with the questions they ask. I’ve found that people are just curious or are trying to be helpful. With that in mind, you can choose to speak up about how you really feel. For the people who continually ask questions you really don’t want to answer you can simply say, “I appreciate your concern and that you care enough to ask, but I’m not ready to talk about it yet. If I do want to talk about it I will let you know. Thank you for understanding.” For the people who truly care about your feelings they will understand. I told a coworker years ago that line and they gave me an angry look and left the room. In that situation I knew that person loved to gossip and I believe she was hurt that I didn’t give her information she wanted to spread to the office. As I said, if they truly cared and respected your emotional well-being they would most likely not respond that way. You are not obligated to share your story if you don’t want to, nor do you need to justify your reason for not sharing.

6) Change the Subject

This one is probably one of the easiest tricks in the book when you sense the conversation is turning towards your fertility. If you are chatting with a group of women who are all mothers and they are talking about raising children and pregnancy, it’s possible they will begin to ask you questions about your experience or lack thereof. Sometimes you can change the subject in a subtle way without completely diverting the conversation on another tangent. For example, you can ask questions about their children. You can learn a lot of good parenting advice this way too without the focus being on you and instead focus on them and what they’ve learned over the years.

7) Relate in Other Ways

People love to be heard and understood. Just because you don’t have kids does not mean you can’t relate on any level. When people share some of their parenting stories they might remind you of your experience with your nieces or nephews or if you’ve worked with children. You can find ways to talk about children without being a parent. For the most part I find it incredibly rare that someone makes the comment, “You don’t understand because you’re not a parent.” Sometimes people say this because they feel like you cannot relate or understand. You can deflect this comment with something like, “What do you normally do that helps in that situation?” this way you sidestep their  comment, get them to focus on a solution, and you can possibly learn from them.

8) Have an Exit Strategy

I remember years ago after my first miscarriage my husband thought it might be good for me to get out of the house and enjoy the holidays. I went to a Christmas event with him. I realized it was not a good idea after having several parents hand me their infants while they got something to eat, toddlers insisted I play with them, and people were asking me, “Why don’t you have any kids yet? You are so good with them.” I ended up crying in the bathroom multiple times. I asked my husband if we could leave but he told me we couldn’t because we had been parked in by four different cars. There was no escaping. So I continued to cry in the bathroom off and on until it was time to go. It was horrible. The following year I decided to ask him to park away a bit so if I needed a break or if I wanted to leave early we could. One time we went for a brief walk and that helped too.

 

The holidays were meant to be enjoyed. Don’t be afraid to speak up for your needs, because oftentimes people will not understand your perspective unless you say something. It’s possible to still have a good time if you plan ahead and anticipate certain scenarios and what you can do about it. From our family to yours, Happy Holidays!

 

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Source: Pixabay

 

Comment below to Today’s Question and receive bonus entry to the current contest.

Today’s Question: 

What advice would you give someone experiencing infertility during the holidays?

Check out my previous posts by going to my archives page.

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read the disclosure here

Learn ways to improve your egg quality. Purchase Rebecca Fett’s book “It Starts with the Egg: How the Science of Egg Quality Can Help You Get Pregnant Naturally, Prevent Miscarriage, and Improve Your Odds in IVF.” It’s currently the #1 Best Seller on Amazon.com’s Reproductive Medicine & Technology list. 

Featured Image: https://www.verywellfamily.com/family-gatherings-and-infertility-1959983

 

Best & Worst States for Infertility Services

Best & Worst States for Infertility Services
This post may contain affiliate links. You can read the disclosure here

 

During my research for my post Top 7 Websites Comparing IVF Clinic Success Rates, I came across Resolve.org’s State Fertility Scorecard. It shows a color-coded map of the United States as quick visual of the states that have better grade for access to infertility services. You can see your state’s grade and compare your state to others based on the following criteria (quoted from Resolve.org):

 

  • “Number of peer-led RESOLVE support groups in state for people experiencing fertility issues
  • Number of physicians specializing in infertility in state, at SART-accredited fertility clinics
  • Number of women in state who have experienced physical difficulty in getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to live birth
  • Insurance mandate information in each state” (Resolve, 2019).

 

 

Best States for Fertility Services with a grade of “A”:

  • Massachusetts
  • Connecticut
  • New Jersey
  • Maryland
  • Illinois

 

Worst States for Fertility Services with a grade of “F”:

  • Alaska
  • Wyoming
  • Mississippi

 

 

Resolve.com Fertility Score Card

Resolve.org’s Fertility Scorecard map of the U.S. The states with the best access to fertility services are in green, the worst states in red.

 

 

Overall Alaska ranks the worst out of every state, with Wyoming shortly behind when based on the highest number of women with zero access to fertility services. Although I was somewhat surprised that Alaska (my state) ranked so low, I didn’t imagine we would be one of the top three worst states to live in for those struggling with infertility. But in a way it also makes sense. I’ve had to fly out of state for both my first and second round of IVF treatment. We have zero support groups of any kind for infertility. A few years back I attended a miscarriage support group and I was just one of two in attendance, but I learned that group has since ended. That was the only group in the city related to infertility. Since my reproductive endocrinologist (RE) retired earlier this year there are zero RE’s within my health insurance’s network. I’ve heard from my OBGYN there isn’t a single RE in the state anymore. That means 15,612 women who have dealt with infertility or pregnancy loss does not have any access to a fertility specialist either (Resolve, 2019). Yet there are zero laws on the books regarding fertility treatment, which also means there is no obligation to provide insurance coverage of any sort. Not even partial coverage is an option here.

 

 

Resolve.com Fertility Score Card Alaska

Alaska’s Fertility Grade of “F” as viewed on Resolve.org’s Fertility Scorecard page.

 

 

Having learned all this, I feel very strongly that I should speak up and encourage our legislators to include at least partial insurance coverage for fertility treatment. I believe reproductive rights should include fertility treatment.  There are so many women like myself who are unable to have a child naturally. I understand that I will probably have to navigate many questions during my time advocating for change. But through everything I’ve already faced, I feel like I’ve developed thicker skin which is probably going to serve me well when I get involved in the legislative process. When I think about it, not only am I advocating for legislative change for other women but it would also benefit myself too. I’ve got nothing to lose and a lot to gain. 

 

Comment below to Today’s Question and receive bonus entry to the current contest.

Today’s Question: 

If you live in the U.S., what is your state’s Fertility Grade on Resolve.org’s Fertility Scorecard?

 

Thank you for reading. 

Catch up on past entries by clicking here for the archives page. 

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Learn ways to improve your egg quality. Purchase Rebecca Fett’s book “It Starts with the Egg: How the Science of Egg Quality Can Help You Get Pregnant Naturally, Prevent Miscarriage, and Improve Your Odds in IVF.” It’s currently the #1 Best Seller on Amazon.com’s Reproductive Medicine & Technology list. 

 

Sources & Images:

Resolve.com Fertility Scorecard: http://familybuilding.resolve.org/fertility-scorecard/

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