Category: Infertility

Trust The Timing Of Your Life. Trust Your Journey.

Trust the Timing of Your Life. Trust Your Journey…this is one of my favorite quotes and I’ve really tried to lean on it during our infertility and adoption journey, but sometimes it’s just so hard to do!

As many of you know, we were matched with a new set of embryos and we made arrangements to travel back to the Czech Republic on January 30th. Unfortunately, I’m not writing this from the Czech Republic…the trip was cancelled 🙁

Three days before I was set to leave I went to one of my pre-trip doctor’s appointments.   These appointments are usually super quick – just a quick ultrasound to check your lining, they give you your results and you’re gone.  This time was a little different.  When the ultrasound was done I asked the tech what my lining was, she verbally gave me the results (Which were perfect…if you’ve been through IVF you know how crucial this is!) then asked which doctor I would be seeing that day.  I told her that I wasn’t seeing a doctor and that I just needed the printout to bring with me on my trip.  She left the room, telling me that she was going to go get the printout.  When the door opened the next time, it was the doctor, not the tech.  I immediately felt a pit in the bottom of my stomach.

The doctor told me that they found 2 small masses in my uterus and that she wasn’t exactly sure what they were.  Her actual words were, “They could be polyps, it could be scar tissue from your miscarriage, or they could be cancer. We don’t know.” At that point, I would have been okay with just the “we don’t know”. The pit in my stomach grew deeper.  They scheduled me for a saline ultrasound (it gives a better picture of what’s going on) and biopsy that afternoon.

My head was spinning when I left the office! I hadn’t asked yet, but had a feeling that they were going to cancel my embryo adoption trip.  I went home crying, grabbed Bill and then we headed to my next appointment.

The doctor did my saline ultrasound and biopsy in the same room she did the ultrasound to confirm my miscarriage.  I became flooded with emotions.  After my test she couldn’t confirm WHAT the masses were, just that they were indeed there.  She also told me that not only was I going to have to cancel my embryo adoption trip, but that I would need surgery in the immediate future as well.  Cue the tears, and surprisingly for me, anger. The doctor and nurse were trying to console me – “I know this must be tough, you’ve been through so much”.  Ummm yeah, I realize that.  I just wanted out of there.

The next few days were kind of a blur between cancelling all of my trip arrangements, communicating with my coordinator and clinic in the Czech Republic, getting my surgery scheduled, and the major pity party we were holding at our house! Canceling our trip and embryo adoption was hard enough, but now we were trying to wrap our heads around the fact that my health could be in danger and that I would be having surgery! It just didn’t seem fair, we didn’t even get to TRY this time, the chance was taken from us.  But infertility isn’t fair. Infertility is like the Grinch on Christmas morning, but honestly, I think infertility is an even bigger ass hole.

In order to keep going, we always eventually move onto the “what’s, next” mode.  Okay, so this isn’t going to work this time, what can we do next? When can we try again?  My doctor in the Czech told me that after he reviews my surgical reports and if all looks well that we could try again in May or June.  I know to most that doesn’t seem far away, but if you are in our shoes it’s an eternity.

So over the past few days I’ve been repeating, “Trust the timing of your life. Trust your journey”, trying, REALLY trying to have faith that there is a plan bigger than I can even imagine set in motion for me and my family. I’m going to be honest though, I’m not there yet, but I am REALLY trying.

We are still pursuing traditional adoption, but unfortunately we do not have the large amount of money saved up yet to pay upfront to work with an agency.  If you or someone you know or even a friend of a friend is currently looking for a family for their unborn baby, please think of us and send them our way.  Those of you that know Bill and I personally know that we have so much love to give and that it would really make our dreams come true to become parents.

Oh, and by the way, my surgery is scheduled for Monday, February 8th, so please send me all the good vibes you can!!

xoxo – MichelleTrust the timing of your life

Etsy Shop is FINALLY Open!

Good Morning All!

I don’t know about all of you, but I get horrible insomnia around a full moon – the upside?  I FINALLY finished our Etsy shop!  I’m still working on building out the “shop” side to our blog for the cupcakes, but one shop at a time, right? 🙂  For now, our Etsy shop sells wish bracelets (we hope to add more).  We decided to do wish bracelets because OUR wish is to have a baby, so we thought we would try to make your wishes come true too!

The shop is bare bones right now, so excuse the “mess” lol. I got it up and running real quick after reading an article from salesforce on the important to these creative marketplaces. All proceeds go directly to our adoption fund and once we reach our goal, we will keep the shop open and donate a percentage of the proceeds to another family on their adoption journey!
If you are interested in purchasing the bracelets in bulk for your own fundraising purposes, please get in touch for bulk pricing.
xoxo – Michelle

Gimme S’more

Hey All!

I have three words for you – Oh. Em. Geee!!  Our Gimme S’more cupcake is currently our featured cupcake. This little beauty has a graham cracker crust, topped with a moist chocolate cake, topped with creamy marshmallow frosting and a little chocolate square.  Pretty much like heaven in a jar!  If s’mores aren’t you thing, don’t worry – we can do almost any cake/frosting combo for you, along with a custom label, ribbon and little bamboo spoon.  $3 each or $30 for a dozen (min purchase ½ dozen).  Did I mention that we deliver locally?  All proceeds go directly to our adoption fund.  After we meet our goal, we will continue to keep the shop open and donate 5% of our proceeds to a family going through their adoption journey!

Gimme S'more

We also have our Facebook page up and running (just barely!).  If you get a chance stop by and give us a like – www.facebook.com/HopeStrengthAndWine 

We are still working on the shop portion of our site – I PROMISE it will be up soon!

xoxo – Michelle

 

The Universe Works in Mysterious Ways!

Hi All!

We had our second fundraising sale yesterday at the St Pete Beach Rec center. We want to thank EVERYONE that came out to stopped by to see us! It was also awesome to meet so many new people and hear their adoption journeys. The kindness of strangers makes our hearts so happy! I know we say this all the time, but we really can’t do this without you all, so thank you, thank you, thank you!

Back to the sale…It was a community sale, so we REALLY had our hopes set high as far as traffic at the sale.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans…it rained pretty much the whole time!  Our sales weren’t quite where we wanted them to be and we didn’t hit our fundraising goal, but hey, we did make some money, so that’s a good day in our books 🙂  Here’s where the Universe(God)stepped in…although we didn’t have a lot of traffic, almost everyone that stopped in loved our baked goods, especially our cupcakes in a jar. We brought them as more of an add on item, not thinking that they would be such a huge hit!

 

cupcakesSeriously though, whats not to love about them, they’re so stinking adorable and delicious to boot! We ended up with multiple orders before the day was done and after posting them online, we ended up with more and more orders through the night! We went from feeling like the day had been a bust, to feeling so blessed and overjoyed. Someone is definitely watching out for us!

We’ve been making the cupcakes for years for friends and family and now we can make them for you too!  Our online shop will be open this week, but if you want to place an order before then, just reach out to me on Facebook or on our contact page here.

Thank you all for your love and support!

xoxo – Michelle & Bill

Photographs for a Cause!

As many of you may already know, Bill and I have a photography business that we do on the side (www.mybphotos.com). For those of you that don’t know, ahem, we do photography, give us a call! 🙂 We photograph everything from babies to engagements to weddings and beyond!

Throughout the year we offer our very popular mini sessions. This fall we will be doing an exclusive series of mini sessions as an adoption fundraiser!

These sessions are great for family, maternity, children, couples, pets or even just yourself!

Just pick a date, and e-mail us for availability. These sessions fill up fast; so don’t hesitate to grab your date! We can’t wait to see you!

If you’re social, will you please help us? Spread the word by “sharing” this post across your social media and within your sphere of influence. Thank you so much!

Thank you for your love and support!

xoxo – Bill & Michelle

mini session adoption

Top Tips for An AWESOME Adoption Fundraiser Yard Sale

The first of our TWO fundraising yard sales was held on Saturday and it was a HUGE success! We had people donate stuff for a few months leading up to the sale. We finally got to the point where we felt like we were living in a hoarder’s house (minus the cats and garbage), so we decided it was time for our sale!

We blasted through our first fundraising goal! Here’s how we did it and how you can do it too:

  • Get as much stuff as you possibly can. Have people donate like crazy. Ask for donations on your blog, on Facebook, Twitter, at work, at church, etc. We had so much stuff.
  • Organize your donations as they come in!  It will make it SOO much easier the day of when you are setting everything out!
  • Make an eye-catching Craigslist ad. We even linked from our Craigslist ad to our blog so people could learn more about us and why we were raising money.
  • Place items strategically near the curb for maximum visibility. We had a bedroom set, some retro chairs, and some other furniture we put near the curb. It all sold.
  • Make bright and bold signs and put them on every street corner and in your neighborhood. You can’t have too many. We went the silly route on a few of our signs and we actually had people stop just because of our signs, AND they ended up buying!

  • We had a big poster board sign out explaining that it was a fundraiser to help us adopt a child. Because of this, we had multiple people give donations and even come back with items from their own homes that we could use in our next sale…total strangers. We were blown away!
  • We wore matching t-shirts, so it helped the shoppers identify us and know who to pay!

tshirt

  • We didn’t price ANYTHING.  We accepted donations only – telling people to pay what they felt was fair and that no reasonable offer would be refused.  For the most part this worked wonderfully!  We had a few people offer some really lowball offers, but the people that paid more than double what we expected made of for this and far exceed the lowballers.
  • This may sound silly, but don’t forget to eat and keep hydrated!
  • We boxed the leftovers back up and will be holding another sale September 12th, at the city wide garage sale at the St Pete Beach Rec Center.

There are a few things we would have done differently that we will definitely be doing on September 12th!

  • Set up a lemonade, soda, water, or coffee stand and possibly sell baked items. It was HOT, like heat stroke hot, on the day of our sale.  It wouldn’t have made a TON of money, but it would have made some and would be a nice touch for all of our thirsty shoppers!
  • Have help setting up and taking down! Bill and I seem to think we can do it all…lol..and after all we DID set up and take down by ourselves, but we were rushed and exhausted. It would also be smart to have a few extra “staff” (don’t forget the matching t-shirts) to help out at your sale.

Our yard sale was absolutely exhausting, but, thanks to our family and friends, it was absolutely worth it!  We will be ready to go again on September 12th, so if you have some items you’d like to donate, just let us know 🙂

Xoxo  Michelle

 

 

 

Thank you!!

We are getting closer and closer to our garage sale next month and we are starting to get really excited!  We want to give a huge THANK  YOU to everyone that has already donated and for those that have scheduled their pick up!  We will be accepting donations for a few more weeks, so if you’d like to contribute, just get in touch and we’ll arrange a pick up!

garage sale donation

A New Way To Adopt?

Hi All!

Sorry we’ve been MIA recently…we promise we will try to do better!  We’ve been immersed in everything adoption!  Adoption is ridiculously expensive and the thought of coming up with roughly $40k is really overwhelming at times.  We know it can be done – we’ve already saved and spent more than triple that amount on fertility treatments over the past few years, but it’s overwhelming none the less.

My infertility and now adoption journey has brought me and Google together as one…lol! I think anyone who has been in my shoes can relate.  I feel like I’m constantly researching doctors, symptoms, fertility diets, medications, treatments, clinics, agencies…it goes on and on.  Plus I can’t tell you how many message boards I stalk (ahem, follow, I mean).  I feel like there is this whole underground infertility world that you only discover once you start your infertility journey.  It’s like a secret society that no one ever wants to join, but once you do, you’re forever grateful for all the knowledge and support!

If you’re a part of the underground world, embryo adoption is quite common and doesn’t need an explanation.  For those of you that aren’t, here’s embryo adoption in a nutshell:  after undergoing IVF, couples are given several options for what to do with any remaining embryos. They can freeze/save them for a future cycle, donate them to research, destroy them, OR they can donate them to another couple dealing with infertility. The receiving couple would then go through FET (frozen embryo transfer), if successful, give birth to, and raise the resulting child (or children) as their own. Adoption, but just at the VERY beginning stage of life.  Technically it’s not adoption since the embryo’s “change hands” prior to life, but for me (and many others) the terms “adoption” and “donation” are interchangeable.

It’s crazy, when we would go through each IVF cycle we were given the option of what to do with leftover embryos and we always chose to donate them to another couple, but for some reason it never occurred to us that WE could be the other couple!  Once this clicked for us we knew it was something that we wanted to try.  Although the child won’t biologically be ours, we are excited at the chance to be able to experience pregnancy, plus it’s a fraction of the cost of traditional adoption!

So, where does one find an embryo you ask?  Good question.  There are actually quite a few places you can go through depending on what you are looking for:

  • Your fertility clinic may have its own “bank” of embryos
  • Traditional adoption agencies
  • Embryo adoption (donation) agencies
  • Lawyers
  • Embryo matching services (kinda like match.com for embryos/waiting families – take the middle man out. Find your match through profiles, have the embryos shipped to your doctor and he/she takes it from there).  This is also the least expensive way to go, but you will do a lot of the matching and coordination work yourself.

 

So once we deiced to give embryo adoption a try, I of course turned to my bestie Google to see what she had to say.  I eventually found Miracles Waiting and through them found Reprofit.  Let’s get the pink elephant out of the room.  Reprofit is located in the Czech Republic.  I know.  These sounds insane for someone that hasn’t dealt with infertility, but I promise it completely normal, just ask my secret society friends…lol.  I had actually heard of and briefly looked into Reprofit after our first failed IVF cycle, but dismissed it at the time because who in the heck travels to the Czech Republic to get knocked up? I so WISH I would have seriously looked into it at the time – as with most medical treatments, the cost of IVF is less than HALF of what we pay here, plus it’s one of the best fertility clinics in Europe!  Live and learn!  Needless to say, I’ve done extensive research on it now!

Anyway…I digress…

I have been working with my coordinator Paloma, with Miracles Waiting here in the US.  Through her, we have secured 2 embryos (2 grade a blastocysts to be exact) at Reprofit and we are planning on traveling for the transfer in October!  And here’s the awesome part!  We can both fly to the Czech Republic, stay for a week, and have the embryo transfer all for way,WAY less than what we pay for the embryo transfer alone in the US!  Plus were never able to take our honeymoon after our wedding last year, so this trip will basically be our honeymoon with a day or two off for an embryo transfer (super romantic, I know)!

We are well aware that embryo adoption/donation isn’t guaranteed and that we could be faced with heartbreak, but we feel that for us, right now, it’s the path we want to take.  As with any fertility treatment and even adoption, you are taking a big risk, but the possible reward is priceless.

We are still open to and actively pursuing traditional adoption, but have decided while we are saving money that we will give embryo adoption a chance!

And on a completely different note, how cool is it that history way made today when the U.S. Supreme Court made a landmark decision that made marriage equality mandatory nationwide!?!?!  #LoveWins

 

Is it a Man’s World? It is okay to let your feelings show!

As my wife pointed out in our first Blog we have been through a lot these past few years.  Infertility is a topic most men never even think about let alone talk about.  However, once you go down that rabbit hole you are in for a hell of a ride.  After talking to several friends and work acquaintances I quickly came to the realization that we were not alone in the infertility battle.  One thing I have come to understand and even respect is the fact that it is okay to wear your feelings on your sleeve.  These past few years have been some of the hardest of my life and hopefully through my writing I will be able to help others in this journey and do a little healing myself in the process.

I was never a man comfortable talking about the female reproductive cycle or even sex with the closest of friends.  So as you can imagine how I felt when I found out after our first doctor visit three years ago that my whole comfortable world was about to be flipped upside down.  Now I am not saying that nowadays I go around talking about anything and everything having to do with infertility with complete strangers.  I am however much more comfortable speaking at length about the whole process.   I still get a little red in the face speaking about infertility and some of the intricacies that are involved in the process, but hey Rome wasn’t built in a day right?  My first conversation dealing with infertility was about 7-8 years ago with one of my best friends.  He and his wife were just beginning the process and engaged in a few conversations on the subject.  His openness on the whole subject was a little offsetting at the time and I was a little taken back when it came to his frankness on the matter at hand.  (Side note: they were able to conceive a child with the use of Clomid and now have their second child naturally).   Fast forward 6 years and countless doctors visits later and I am by no means an open book when it comes to infertility, but I can tell you I am much more comfortable speaking about our situation.  What I have figured out is that we (you) are not alone in this process.  There has been such a taboo put on Infertility and adoption that most people do not speak openly about the subject.  Let’s face it most of our conversations with friends, co-workers, and family members are a lot more casual.  One day an idea came to me, when a close friend of mine asked me how I was doing.  The normal response would be “living the dream”, however we had just come home from a doctor visit and I needed to talk to someone that wasn’t my wife.  So I told my friend that we were going through IVF and that I was stressed out about the money it was costing us.  Little did I know that my friend’s sister had gone through infertility as well.  My long winded point is that I guarantee that you are not alone in this and at least 1 out 5 of your friends have dealt with this in one way or another.

Do not be afraid to wear your heart on your sleeve when it comes to Infertility.  After our first failed IVF cycle, which included a complete quack of a Doctor, the two of us were a little more hurt and betrayed than we were about the failed cycle.  I will discuss picking the right doctor in post later and we will leave it at that for now.  The second failed cycle was the hardest to deal with.  We picked one of the best doctors in Florida and could not have asked for a better experience.  However, the outcome was still negative and that was the hardest part.  I understand everyone deals with situations in their own way and I was no exception.  This time was different I felt as if we had a death in the family.  I know this sounds silly or even crazy, but that is how I felt at the time.  We had such high hopes the second time around and to find out that it did not take was a complete emotional low in which I had never experienced.  I can tell you that this is not an easy undertaking to go through and I do not care who you are or how strong your relationship is their will be days were everything you think you know will be put to the test.

I hope this was helpful to at least one person out there going through the infertility process.  I know that just by writing about it and thinking about it from another point of view has already started the healing process for me.  I am about to put myself out there (I mean really out there) for the first time in my life and I hope in doing so you will join us for the journey.

This Is Our Path

When Bill and I first started trying to get pregnant, I knew that we might have a hard time.  I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) in my early 20’s and always knew there was a chance I would have trouble getting pregnant.  I went off birth control, months went by and nothing.  I was in my early 30’s and because obviously age plays a factor in the whole fertility thing, we decided to make a doctor’s appointment just to check things out.

From there it was kind of a whirlwind.  We jumped on the infertility rollercoaster and boy were we in for a ride.  The next 3 years were full of drugs, hormones (which leads to weight gain and many other “fun” side effects), shots, invasive procedures, surgery and a lot of heartache and disappointment and pain.

We tried every medical treatment available to us, each multiple times; acupuncture, metformin, Clomid, injectables, IUI’s, surgery and IVF, none of which lead us closer to our baby.

Our last failed IVF cycle really hit both of us hard.  IVF is so hard on your body, but the emotional toll is even worse.  We knew we could try IVF again, but Bill didn’t want me to go through the physical pain/discomfort and we both didn’t know if we could emotionally handle another failed cycle, not to mention the financial aspect of it all.  We were at a point where we didn’t know what to do. We’re true believers in everything happens for a reason, but it was just so hard to see the reason. We had to surrender the plans we had for ourselves and let the universe take control. As soon as we did this the adoption conversation organically started.  We hadn’t really considered it before, but now, it felt right, even exciting! When thinking about doing another IVF cycle we both felt anxious and scared.  But when talking about adoption we both felt happy and calm.  It was like someone or something had changed our path and we just knew that adoption was meant for us.  So, without further ado, we are beyond thrilled to announce…..We're Adopting

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