5/22/2017

Infertility Changed Me

We walked into the clinic and sat in the waiting room.

It was quiet.

Dozens of women and couples sat next to us.

No one said a word, but they didn’t need to.

The air was thick with anxiety, and none of us wanted to be there.

A nurse called my name and ushered my husband and me back through a hallway into a brightly lit office. She smiled, told us to take a seat. The doctor would be in shortly.

The sun beamed in through the windows. It felt strange. Our lives seemed a far cry from sunshine and blue skies.

A hand gently knocked on the door.

“Good morning!” She was delighted to see us, but I can’t say we felt the same about her. After all, who wants to find themselves sitting across from a fertility specialist?

Her brown, shoulder-length hair draped over a white lab coat. She had coffee in one hand and a stack of files in the other.

As she pulled up her chair, she put on a pair of dark-rimmed glasses and began flipping through pages of our medical history. Lab results, baseline blood draws, ultrasounds, semen analysis reports. It was strewn across her desk like a million-piece puzzle that couldn’t fit together.

My husband’s knee restlessly bounced up and down. My heart raced. I’m sure my chest was blotchy. The nerves were getting the best of me.

Then she said it.

She took off her glasses, put them on her desk and said the words no one wants to hear: “You have unexplained infertility.”

I slunk into the chair. My chin quivered, tears glossed over my eyes. My husband’s knee stopped bouncing. He stared out the window into the sunshine. It was a beautiful day for everyone, except for us...

Read more HERE.


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5/17/2017

When Comparison Almost Steals Your Joy

I was happy for her. I genuinely was. I love when good things happen to good people, and she’s certainly a good person.

But after I hung up the phone and corralled my toddlers, I sighed.

Why can’t my life be perfect?

I could feel the envy start flowing through my veins.

I was knee-deep in dirty diapers and sippy cups. My hair was dry-shampooed yesterday. And I had oatmeal all over my pants.

My thoughts began spinning into a cycle of comparison.

I wish I didn’t have to deplete my savings account for a chance at becoming pregnant. In fact, I wish I’d never had to stare at a negative pregnancy test or be diagnosed with infertility in the first place…I wish I didn’t have a credit card bill…I wish I could be reimbursed for continuing my education…I wish I could pay off my student loans…I wish I wasn’t tens of thousands of dollars in debt from the adoption process…I wish I had a new refrigerator…I wish our minivan didn’t need $1,500 worth of repairs...

I became busy counting and wishing for her blessings instead of being grateful for my very own.

Comparison. It’s a dangerous place for the mind to wander, and it can be a hard thought process to escape.

I sighed at what my life had become — in that moment, I felt similar to the crusty, dried oatmeal flakes still stuck on my pants from breakfast with my daughters.

Her View From Home Contributor


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5/03/2017

Finding Joy in the Fleeting Moments of Motherhood

This post is sponsored by Holiday Inn brand. As always, thoughts and opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that make this blog possible!

I remember waking up to the smell of pancakes on a hot griddle. My sister and I would excitedly stumble downstairs in our nightgowns. We'd run past my my grandpa sitting in his recliner listening to the morning news at an unspeakably loud volume and head straight to the kitchen where my grandma had been flipping pancakes, anticipating we'd be hungry when we woke up.

Her pancakes were cooked just the way I liked them: a thin center with a crispy rim along the outside of each one.

Maybe it's because she made them with so much love, but to this day sharing breakfast with my grandma brings about a sense of nostalgia.
Breakfast - Spillville, Iowa
Breakfast in Spillville, Iowa.
The mornings I'd spend pouring syrup over those homemade pancakes flipped and fried on the farmhouse kitchen griddle have become distant memories.

Now decades later, it's almost like it's come full circle -- watching my mom become much like her own by carving out time to create memories with her granddaughters; memories that will undoubtedly bring a similar sense of nostalgia for them as they grow up.

I think as mothers we can become so busy creating memories with our children, that we often forget about ourselves.
Fleeting Moments of Motherhood - NYC GetawayPerhaps that's why I was so excited to get away with three generations of my favorite moms -- my grandma, mom and twin sister. 
Holiday Inn Hotel - Downtown Brooklyn
We checked into our home away from home -- the Holiday Inn Hotel in downtown Brooklyn.
Holiday Inn Hotel - Downtown Brooklyn
Staff at the hotel insisted we couldn't visit New York without snagging a slice of Juliana's Pizza.
Juliana's Pizzeria - Brooklyn, NY
This pizzeria is considered to be one of the best in the US, hence the 50-minute wait for a table.
Juliana's Pizzeria - Brooklyn, NY
Once inside, we filled up on fresh mozzarella, coal-fired deliciousness.
Juliana's Pizzeria - Brooklyn, NY
After lunch, we strolled through the Dumbo neighborhood (short for "Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass") and took in stunning views of Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge.
Brooklyn Bridge - NYC Getaway
We hit up some touristy spots, then called it a night.
Holiday Inn Hotel - Downtown Brooklyn
And as if waking up to this view after a good night's sleep wasn't enough, we had this delicious breakfast cooked to order for us in the hotel's restaurant.
Breakfast - Holiday Inn Hotel
It was a breakfast none of us cooked but all of us thoroughly enjoyed, and it was the perfect start to a fun-filled day of sightseeing in the city.
Central Park - NYC
As the sun went down we made our way through Times Square to Broadway.
Times Square - NYC
But before our breath was taken away by the unbelievable talent and beauty of The Lion King, we had dinner at Ellen's Stardust Diner.
Ellen's Stardust Diner - NYC
This 1950s-themed diner is known for its world famous singing wait staff. In fact, many of them have gone on to perform in Broadway casts and national tours in shows like Wicked, Jersey Boys and Mama Mia.
Ellen's Stardust Diner - NYC
The food (especially the homemade cheesecake!) and energetic atmosphere were an absolute blast.
Lion King - Broadway
After dinner, it was time to hit up our bucket list: It was show time at Minskoff Theatre!
Lion King - Broadway
It's hard to describe what it was like seeing a musical on Broadway, let alone getting to experience it with three people I love so dearly. It was truly extraordinary.
Finding Joy in the Fleeting Moments of Motherhood
The next morning while I was packing up my suitcase, I couldn't help but smile. Not just because I knew there'd be a delicious breakfast waiting for us downstairs (much like those nostalgic breakfasts I anticipated with my grandma years ago), but because I realized that while motherhood is full of fleeting moments, the memories shared between a grandmother, mother and her daughters will never fade.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Holiday Inn. The opinions and text are all mine.

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4/27/2017

Listen Up: When A Mother-in-Law Steps In To Be A Gestational Carrier

National Infertility Awareness Week is April 23-29. This guest post was submitted as part NIAW's theme: "Listen Up." For more stories and features on infertility and NIAW, click HERE.

Walking into my gynecologist office and sitting down with my parents, I prayed this was not happening.

This was my first gynecologist appointment, how could there be something wrong?

As the words “tumor” “probable cancer” and “prepare for the worst” came out of my doctor’s mouth I sat in silence.

I can count on my hand the number of times I have seen my father cry and that was one of those days.
At the age of 17, I had a hysterectomy.

I healed from the surgery, but the emotional scar ran deep.

I went through the next years of my life tucking the thought of never being able to carry a child away until I was 20 years old and I was in love.

I remember being so scared to tell Cody. I was so afraid he would not want to spend his life with someone “broken.”

I can recall on several occasions crying and telling Cody I would understand if he left me. I would understand that if he had to leave because being with me meant he may never have children. I felt like I was less valuable to him then a woman that could give him a child.

He of course told me I was crazy and he was not going anywhere.
When A Mother-in-Law Steps In To Be A Gestational Carrier
We married in 2012. Now he is stuck with me forever.

Before we even married, I began researching gestational surrogacy.

I defiantly had sticker price shock. I honestly saw no way that Cody and I would ever be able to afford surrogacy.

As each year went by, my urge to become a mother became stronger and stronger.

My heart began to break with each pregnancy announcement I saw.

Jealously began to overwhelm me.

I began to give up hope that it would ever happen for us.

I begin praying that if I was not attended to be a mother, that God would take this desire away from me.

Then in 2016, we had an offer from a gestational surrogate.
When A Mother-in-Law Steps In To Be A Gestational Carrier
My mother in law, Patty, offered to carry our child! Talk about mother in law of the year!

Patty had joked around about being our surrogate for several years, but I never took her serious or thought it would be possible.

After digging into the internet, news articles of other grandmothers giving birth began to give us hope.

I am so thankful those woman shared their story.

Sometimes the answers to our prayers is right in our face.

We had a heartbreaking failed transfer earlier this year, but we will be transferring again today.

I grew up thinking this would never be a possibility for me.

We have made it this far and I am not giving up now.

Some days I wonder why God has placed us on this path, but I must be still and know that he has me exactly where he needs me to be.

All of our journeys are different; but we are in this together.

1:8 of us struggle with infertility and many of us struggle silently. I stayed silent for many years because I felt, for a long time, that being infertile made me less of a “woman.”

Being infertile does not make us any less valuable and I have finally overcome that feeling (most days anyways).

Infertility is HELL, but we will be stronger from it.


Kayla Jones of Texarkana, Arkansas, had a hysterectomy at age 17. She knew her path to motherhood would be non-traditional, but never imagined her future mother-in-law would be her child's gestational carrier. To follow Kayla and her husband's journey, visit their Facebook page here

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4/26/2017

Listen Up: Nevertheless, I Am A Mama

National Infertility Awareness Week is April 23-29. This guest post was submitted as part NIAW's theme: "Listen Up." For more stories and features on infertility and NIAW, click HERE.
My infertility journey is still so vivid in my mind and I wonder if it will ever fade.

The countless doctor’s appointments, the injections, the devastating news over and over, the fleeting sense of hope, the depleted bank account, the fertile pregnancy announcements, and of course the never ending tears.

These memories surface in a flash and I am transported back to a time that was full of pain, fear, resentment and most of all loneliness.

From the moment I found out I was pregnant with my lucky twin girls, I joked that now I suffered from post-traumatic infertility disorder because I could not and still can’t let the pictures of my past go.

I don’t mean to be dramatic, but my infertility journey was imprinted on my soul.

For so long, my diagnosis of diminished ovarian reserve embarrassed me.

I felt less than and unworthy of everything life had to offer.

Nowadays, I am trying to be more open and brave about my infertility… especially when people ask if twins run in my family or if I plan on having more children.

I used to just say no, smile and end the conversation, but now I tell people it took me 3 years, countless IUIs and 6 IVFs to get pregnant.

That because of my diminished ovarian reserve I hardly produced any eggs and even if I made it to retrieval they didn’t always fertilize.

That after 4 transfers and negative pregnancy results, it is hard to keep going.

Yet I did and now I am a Mama to Lucy and Gracie.

What still keeps me awake sometimes, is knowing that Lucy and Gracie are here because of luck.

Sure, I had money to pay for my treatments, resources to locate the best doctor knowledgeable about my condition, flexible job, lovely home and a very supportive husband.

However, none of those things guarantee a pregnancy with a baby at the end.

I chewed vitamin concoctions, drank wheatgrass, went to acupuncture, eliminated sugar and alcohol and still did not get pregnant.

Most days, I knew I was a good person and used positive imagery of me holding babies to will myself pregnant – which of course did not work.

I don’t know why the pregnancy test turned pink that last time.

And twins?  Double luck?

Did I get pregnant because I had quit acupuncture and reintroduced sugar and alcohol?

Even now, I visit the message boards and see so many women who want to be Mamas, and I think why me and not them?

Luck.

I was 31 years old when I visited my first reproductive endocrinologist and 34 when I was finally discharged to an obstetrician.

What scares me the most is thinking about how I would have handled not getting a chance to be a Mom because I had already lost so much of myself over the course of three years.

The never ending grief and not knowing how to make a life for myself without the identification as a Mom was something that I came so close to answering.

For some reason, it still feels hard and those feelings linger below the surface.


Nevertheless, I am a Mama.
My twin girls are beautiful, happy and healthy.

They love to listen to music, play with dolls, search for doggies, and race cars.

I celebrate the joy and laughter that they bring to me, my husband and our extended family on a daily basis.

Every day I am so grateful for my good luck.

Elizabeth Hill resides in Baltimore, Maryland. She is a mother of twins after being diagnosed with Diminished Ovarian Reserve.

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