The Very Last Baby Fabio Blog

One year ago yesterday, I lost my uterus. It was a big day, but it wasn’t as ceremonious as people would expect. My hysterectomy didn’t mark the end of my fertility like it does for so many. That was long gone. Honestly, it was kind of unremarkable overall. We had just been through a tornado, and while the pandemic was a threat, no one could have known that a year later, we’d still be battling it. I got ready for surgery like I always did, given it was pelvic surgery number nine. I sat on the stretcher, one week after my 38th birthday and two months after we decided to stop trying to get pregnant, waiting to get into the operating room. The anesthesiologist lectured me on my weight while simultaneously telling me about his pregnant wife who was due any day. And after being rescued by who is quite literally the best OB/GYN ever to exist, I surprised the OR staff by asking that they not sedate me while going into the operating room. I was about to have a robot remove an organ – I wanted to see the beast. 10/10 would recommend. 

Everything went as planned. I spent the night in the hospital, roaming the halls by myself for most of it. Life went on. 

I can tell you the exact moment I decided to end our 7+ years of trying to get pregnant. 

I had just had pelvic surgery number eight, and while we had previously discussed stopping fertility treatments, I was secretly grasping onto a tiny glimmer of hope. I had just tried a different type of endometriosis surgery, hoping that would be the key. I was (almost) officially diagnosed with adenomyosis as can only be done via surgery (visual can give you an unofficial diagnosis, but dissection is really the only definite). The only cure for adenomyosis is hysterectomy and was told I needed one, but that wasn’t stopping me. ((Note: I’m about to get into some graphic surgery description here. If you’d rather not read it, skip to the next paragraph.)) I discovered this experimental surgery that only two doctors in the entire world would perform. Insurance wouldn’t cover it, because it wasn’t proven. They make a giant incision in your belly, so that they can access your uterus. They completely open up your uterus to make it one flat, open layer of smooth muscle, and then cut horizontally to remove the inner layer, attempting to treat the adenomyosis by I believe cauterizing the entirety of the inside of your uterus. Sew you back up, and hope it heals enough to support a pregnancy without the seams tearing.

Yep. And I was into it. I had just spent months doing experimental treatments – cancer drugs, white blood cell infusions, hydroxychloriquine (before it was cool!), intravenous fat infusions, diets, and so, so many hormones. So why not?

But all of the sudden, there was this “holy shit, what the hell am I doing to myself?” moment. It stopped me in my tracks.

When kids ask for something over and over and over, I’ve learned to say “asked and answered.” You’ve asked, I’ve answered. But I never seemed to learn the lesson myself. How many more times was I going to ask? After years and years of treatments, surgeries, and IVF, when was I finally going to accept my answer?

Can I get pregnant? No. It’s literally that simple. The answer was no. Asked. And. Answered.

So Mike and I discussed, and decided to just deal with it now. Frankly, my uterus had never done me any favors. My issues started around twelve years old, and I was (and this is way TMI) starting to consider using adult diapers for my periods because there was literally nothing else that could handle them. I was miserable and constantly in pain. Something had to give. 

Fast forward a year later, and well, a lot has happened. 

We have decided to no longer pursue parenthood. 

Crazy, right? I mean, a year ago, I wouldn’t have believed me either. And before I go any further, let me say this: yes, adoption has been considered, and we’ve decided that it’s not the path for us. I’m not going to get into it here, but I’m happy to have the conversation in person if you’re interested. Any way we looked at it, parenthood was going to take an indeterminate number of years and a guarantee of significant debt, if at all. And it was the hardest decision we’ve ever had to make, but in the end, it wasn’t only in our best interest, but in the best interest of the child we had wanted to bring into the world.

I know what a lot of you are doing right now.

You’re looking at your child(ren), thinking “there is NOTHING in this world I wouldn’t do for you.”

I don’t blame you. But it’s not the same thing. 

We didn’t stop fighting for our child. We stopped fighting for the idea of a child that had proven to never be ours in the first place. Over and over and over. 

Asked. And. Answered. There was no amount of hope or toxic positivity that could change that. And just because we stopped the insanity of trying to become parents doesn’t mean that we wanted it any less than anyone else. This isn’t just giving up (although more on that later). This is the outcome.

So this is it. The very last Baby Fabio blog. Grief comes and goes, and really shows up in weird places. Like, the other day, I suggested that Mike babywear our co-dependent cat, and I lost it thinking about how it’s the only baby carrier we’ll buy. For the cat.

But on to new things, right? New careers and a life totally unexpected. And I assure you that if I have to live a childless life, well, it’s going to be FULL of adventure and sharp edges and unsafe balconies (and love and joy, too). 

Fuck Uterus

It’s time we share that this is the end of our journey to conceive and carry a baby.

When you get to the point where you realize that your family isn’t going to grow from a night of unbridled passion, you find yourself with a giant barrel of very confusing, totally foreign, and extremely expensive options that your 7th grade health teacher didn’t prepare you for. There’s no if/then to infertility, and there are no intuitive next steps to building your family. These options are widely ambiguous and massively daunting, and a lot like throwing $65k spaghetti at the wall. You kind of just pick one and go.

IVF seemed like the natural next step. You make a baby, then you carry it, and then you birth it. It’s what we’ve learned from the beginning, and intuitively, it’s just how it happens. You have tubes that suck? OK, let’s just get around them. It sounded like something that couldn’t not work.

But for 60% of people who have undergone IVF, they walk away without a baby, and we get to be part of that.

We did 3 egg retrievals, and 6 transfers of 10 embryos before we accepted that we picked the wrong option. Never a second pink line, never a flicker of light at the end of that very long tunnel. We thought IVF would circumvent all the issues we thought I had, but transfer after failed transfer brought on more and more testing, of which most came back totally normal.

I had my 8th laparoscopy in December. While I knew it was unlikely we’d find anything new, there was a shred of hope that hobbled itself along thinking that, just maybe, there’d be an answer. And for better or worse, there was.

I finally had a diagnosis of adenomyosis. The short description is this: endometriosis is cells that are similar to the lining of your uterus that grow in other parts of your body, outside the uterus. Adenomyosis is when those endometrial cells start growing into the walls of the uterus. It’s invasive and extremely painful all month, with debilitating periods. It’s not only a major contributing factor to infertility, but can also make for an incredibly unsafe pregnancy. Adenomyosis pregnancies have significantly higher rates of miscarriage, preterm labor and delivery, infection, placenta issues, and on and on. There is no cure.

I came out of surgery, and the first thing I remember is hearing “you’re going to need a hysterectomy”. I don’t know who said it, and honestly, I vaguely remember being really calm about it (likely the drugs and in hindsight, probably the best way to get the news), like it’s what I knew all along. If you want the truth, it was a relief. After years of failed fertility treatments, just knowing it was something I was doing wrong, actually feeling like I was being punished for something in my past, maybe it wasn’t my fault? Note: no one other than me blamed me, but no one else had to.

Right before surgery, I had read a quote (that I apologetically cannot cite, so if you know, please chime in) that said something like this: you’ll never miss a message from the universe. It’ll just keep getting louder and louder until you acknowledge it.

Pretty sure this was it.

I decided to take advantage of the fact that I’m childless and do the surgery now. It’ll never get easier to take a month off, and the pain won’t get better as time goes on. Adenomyosis is rough. Really rough. And maybe I’m not spending my time parenting, but the least I can do is try to get some of my life back.

I’ve spent the last 2 months grieving. Like, really deeply mourning the fact that our journey to conceiving and carrying our child is over. I desperately wanted to carry and birth our child. I wanted to feel them in my belly, I wanted them to know my voice before they were born. I wanted my husband to have a pregnant wife. I wanted to bond with other pregnant women over stretch marks and swollen ankles. I find myself getting emotional over weird things, like never being able to tell my husband my water broke. And I hate that I have to be defensive here, but I’ve gotten enough comments to know I need to say this: this isn’t all about grieving biology. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a little part of me that was excited to see who Mike and I would create, but it’s certainly not everything. I’m grieving being pregnant with our child – emphasis on the pregnant, not the genetics.

This isn’t the end of our journey to parenthood, but we don’t know what it looks like from here.

My hysterectomy is in March, and I’ll be focused on healing body and heart. If it’s anything like having my tubes removed, the gravity kind of sets in after the fact, and while I’ll be no more infertile after the surgery than before, there’s just something about that perceived permanence. We’ll also be removing an ovary, so my hormones will be off for a little while. And with that, I just say I’m sorry. For everything. The healing journey is going to have a lot of ups and downs, and while I know this, giving myself grace and patience will likely be the hardest part.

You’ve been on this journey with us through meds, procedures, surgery, embryos, transfers. You’ve seen the ups and the downs. You’ve kindly helped me steer the convo away from things that will make me cry, and mercifully pretended not to notice when I cried anyway. You’ve been gentle and kind, and done your best to support even when it was something you didn’t understand. You’ve learned alongside us, and for us. I see you make a conscious effort to stop saying things like “it’ll happen, I just know it!” and “have you tried” and transition to “are you ok?” Some have grown distant because it’s uncomfortable to watch, and to you, we understand and are always ready to welcome you back into my/our lives should you so choose. I’ve watched you, my empathetic friends, start questioning your own lives because you just *knew* it would happen for us, and when it didn’t, grew uneasy in your ability to visualize something we all wanted into existence. To you, I hope you rest easy knowing that life works out differently for all of us, and should you ever hit an icy road in your path, we’ll be there for you too.

Above all, thank you for being there when it gets heavy and uncomfortable. Thank you for reading our story and squeezing your babies just a little bit tighter. Thank you for taking care of yourself first. And more importantly, thank you for being you. Every single one of you has added your own unique piece to our story, and for that, I am grateful.


For those who are so inclined, my beautiful friend Lucy set up a Meal Train for us after surgery. Please do not feel obligated. I’ll put the link here if it’s something you feel called to do.

I’m always open to conversation, so please don’t hesitate to ask, as long as it’s for information with an open mind. Here are things that I’m always open to talk about, but appreciate not being challenged on. I’m grateful in advance for your effort:

  • Decision to have a hysterectomy
  • Fertility news, advancements, doctors
  • The article that you saw on Facebook about transplanted uteruses
  • Anecdotes about your friends who miraculously got pregnant naturally after fertility treatment. I don’t have tubes, I can promise you this won’t be us.

Here are things I’d LOVE advice/anecdotes/discussion on. Thank you for any help you can offer!

  • Hysterectomy healing
  • Bengkung belly binding
  • Hormonal balance after having an ovary removed
  • Personal accounts from families that came to be in ways other than pregnancy. Bonus points for testimony from a grown child of an unconventional family.

I Meet A Lot of People Without My Pants On

It’s the end of National Infertility Awareness Week, and I had so many big plans to honor the occasion. I try really, really hard to be open and transparent, not only to bring awareness to what so many go through silently, but to also make sure no one feels like they’re going through it alone. I talk about blood draws and infusions and ultrasound wands with little shame. I shout from the rooftops that I don’t have fallopian tubes. I’m sure many of you know this, as I’ve said this often, but if I’m ever interesting enough to write an autobiography, it will be called “I Meet A Lot of People Without My Pants On”.

But our 6th embryo transfer failed, and suddenly, I didn’t have it in me.

Let me back up. I got pretty severely rear ended on my way to work on Tuesday. Then, on Wednesday, we got the official call that this cycle was a bust. And my grandmother was in the hospital. We’ve had a bad week.

This cycle, we transferred our last 4 embryos (#7-10). We threw EVERYTHING at this cycle. Everything. I took time off work, I did ALL the meds and treatments and infusions, all the right foods, no caffeine, no sweeteners. Energy healing, reiki, cupping, acupuncture, massage. I visualized, meditated, held on, let go, BELIEVED.

And here’s the big kicker – did the car accident have anything to do with its failure?

But it is what it is. And what it is is pain, anger, and so much sadness.

And jealousy. It wasn’t just a longing, it was a true, ugly jealousy. Jealous of others, friends and strangers, who don’t know what it’s like to be $65,000 in debt with no baby or end in sight. Jealous of those who don’t work endlessly on something your soul so deeply needs, only to feel like you’re in a hamster wheel of a constant failure. Jealous of those who aren’t talking to their bellies full of nothing everyday for weeks, who don’t have to watch their partners fill with SO much hope, those who don’t have to tell their loved ones that it failed. Again.

This emotion isn’t pretty, nor is it welcome, but it’s real. Grief is real. And sometimes, this is just what it looks like.

Which brings us back to National Infertility Awareness Week. And since I’ve neglected it, let me just say this:

Infertility is so much more than the inability to get pregnant. It completely robs you of yourself. At 6+ years, I’m just not much other than infertile. My career is on hold, all my friends have kids and kind of don’t know what to do with me, and 96% of my thoughts revolve around building our family. I know it all sounds pathetic, but this is the true picture of infertility. Every move you make is analyzed in the wake of infertility – if we spend money, what we eat, what we do, where we go. I’m a total hermit because I have nothing to talk about other than IVF and debt and babies, and I know no one wants to hear about it over and over.

So here’s where we are: we have no idea, we’re back to square one. We’re out of embryos, money, and grit. But we’re open to everything – more IVF, adoption, and/or surrogacy. None of these things are simple, and none are inexpensive.

We know it’ll be worth it. One day.

This is an angry blog post.

I got up just past three o’clock this morning to take a pregnancy test. I had tested earlier in the week, freaked myself out over a negative test, and finally rationalized that it was WAY too early to test. So I waited. I’ve done this enough to know that being surprised by “the call” sucks, so I promised Mike I’d wait until the day before the blood test to pee on yet another stick.

So here it is, 3am, and I just can’t take it anymore. The past 10 days have been a total fucking roller coaster filled with a confusing mix of very real pregnancy symptoms and very real doubt. I had originally planned to pee on the stick and leave it in the bathroom for Mike to look at. I just couldn’t bring myself to tell him, yet again, that it was negative. But when the first line started to show up immediately, I knew. I brought it into the bedroom, still dark. Always the optimist, he said, “don’t the instructions say to wait 3 minutes?” I left it in the bathroom and got back in bed while Mike diligently waited the additional two and a half minutes. I called in “you can stop staring at it now.” He came back to bed, silent.

Less than 5 hours before this, before we went to bed, I had this very real “holy shit, I’m pregnant” feel. I wish I could describe it. I think it was my brain deeply compensating for the pangs of doubt and consequently, guilt, all week. After spending tens of thousands, putting my body through SO much, and worst of all, giving my amazing husband, who wants this more than anything, false hope.

I wish I could tell you it doesn’t ever get any easier, but it does. Easier to accept the disappointment. Easier to imagine this will never happen for us.

I’m not sad. I’m angry. Really, really angry. How much more of this can we do? How much more can we handle? Why must my body decide, over and over, that this isn’t it? The embryo couldn’t have been more perfect. It’s me.

I’m angry that we don’t get to have what so many of our friends have. There, I said it. The one thing you’re never supposed to say. We watch them all with their children, many of them having 1, 2, or even 3 kids since we started trying six years ago. And for so many that have expressed gratitude that their child chose them – please tell me what we’re doing wrong. Please help me see what I can be doing different in order to have a child “choose” me. I beg you. Because I’m doing everything I know how to do, and clearly it’s just not enough.

See? I told you this was an angry post. I’m usually so careful to explain, over and over, how happy we are for our friends who do get to do this, and we are. Genuinely. But frankly, I just don’t have the energy to keep it together long enough to convince anyone, so please just take my word for it.

No, this isn’t over, and no, there is nothing you need to say or do. Thank you for reading, even if it was uncomfortable. Knowing you care enough to take the negative as it comes, alongside us, is so helpful. Too many people are going this alone, and it’s important to me that you know what the reality of infertility actually looks like.

This is it. Immense pain. And yes, so much gratitude. But right at this very moment, it’s pure torture.

It Takes a Village: A Gratitude Post

When you think about making a baby, there’s usually a romantic night between two people who love each other. Obviously, that’s not always (or even often) how it works, but it’s certainly what is normalized in our country.

I deeply believe that’s where the shame of infertility comes from. Miseducation.

I’m all about the science – sperm and eggs. Embryos, blastocysts, and morulae (oh my). But what I’m not all about is the underlying commentary that “mommy and daddy fell in love and made you”.

News flash, kiddos, that’s just not always how it works. And here you have men and women who have grown up thinking “this is what my body is MADE to do”, who then feel broken when theirs doesn’t. And what happens to all the kids who weren’t made from a night of unbridled passion? Are they freaks? The ones whose parent(s) were infertile. Or who chose to become a parent without a spouse. Or those who have parents whose biology doesn’t allow sex to equal baby? Or those who have birth parents that couldn’t parent for whatever reason. What are we saying to them? How are we shaping their opinion of themselves with unnecessary commentary on their very conception as a human?

Education of making a baby does NOT require our commentary on how they became a family. (More on this in another post. I’m pretty fired up about it.)

It’s no secret that it takes a village to raise a child. Sometimes, it takes a village to make one, too.

If you’re anything like me, you realize that not only will it take a whole lot of work on the part of you and your partner, but it’ll also take a whole lot of work from a whole lot of people. And let me tell you, THAT, my friends, is romantic.

I’ve spent the last week away from home in Rochester, NY while preparing for my third egg retrieval, and first with CNY Fertility. I know, I know – I swore I’d never do this again. But here I am, and so glad I am. Making a really long story short, I decided that doing what we’ve always done will get us what we’ve always gotten (aka nothing). It was time to explore new doctors and clinics and methods.

Part of what drew me to CNY Fertility was their approach that tied Eastern and Western medicine. Many of you know that I’m a big believer in a healthy combination of both schools of thought. On top of providing top medical care and the willingness to constantly evolve in their approach, they adamantly incorporate acupuncture, yoga, massage, etc. I had finally found a clinic whose beliefs fell in line with mine.

They offer a weekly Fertility Yoga class, taught by the AMAZING Erin McCullough of Fertile Hope Yoga. It was a three hour evening of love for self and others, connection with other women in the same boat, and some restorative yoga to help tie heart, mind, and body during a process that so often doesn’t allow the connection. In a deeply heart opening pose, Erin talked about gratitude. For your own body, your willingness to persevere in all this. And I laid there, just feeling really, really grateful. How is it possible that my village has come together so willingly to help me on this journey? I often stop to look at how many people just give a shit, and I’m completely blown away. I’m so much more grateful than you know.

This post is dedicated to you.

Dr. Kiltz and CNY Fertility
What do I even say about Dr. Kiltz? I literally haven’t even met the man in person, but he’s already so much more accessible and deeply ready to help. That might sound silly – I mean, he is a doctor. But it’s just not always like that with fertility. Man, I don’t even know where to start here. After doing two retrievals and three transfers at a different clinic, I was pretty tapped out. No one knew what was going wrong. I felt sick, and broken, and had completely run out of confidence that my body could ever do this. Fast forward a year+ later, and I’m at a clinic that doesn’t require you to fit into a certain mold. Instead of “this isn’t working for you”, it’s “this hasn’t worked for you, so let’s try something else”. We’re trying things that my former clinic wouldn’t even discuss. Instead of caring about the number of my weight, they care about the quality of my body. What a gift to have found him, whether we’re successful or not. With Dr. Kiltz, I finally feel like this body is worth taking a chance on. Like, it actually might surprise me and pull this whole thing off. It’s a feeling I haven’t felt in a long time, and for that, I am grateful.

Mike, aka literally the best husband that has ever existed
Words can’t actually explain how grateful I am for this man. He’s takes all the ups and downs in such stride. Whether I’m on crazy hormones or not, the last six years of this infertility BS has been a roller coaster of tears, doubt, fear, and so much more. He has never, ever blamed this on me, even though my body is the reason we don’t have kids yet. And no matter how discouraged I get, he is always (sometimes annoyingly but remarkably genuinely) optimistic. He works so hard so that I can focus on IVF, which has basically become a full time job these days. I’d say I could never repay him, but he wouldn’t ask anyway. I love you more than anything.

Fertility Nurses
These ladies are the real MVPs of the fertility game. They’re your day to day ride or dies. The Bonnie to your Clyde. The peanut butter to your (sugar free) jelly. Without them, you’re lost. This goes for both the wonderful CNY nurses, and the most amazing nurse at my former clinic, who I will absolutely bring our future child to meet just because she played such a role in all this for us. There is literally no way I could thank these phenomenal women more.

My family
From parents who check in ALL the time, to family who I know are thinking of us somewhere, we know we are loved and supported. It’s hard when you don’t live near any of your family. We’re all busy, but we all care, and that’s a lot more than many people have. But for those parents (and sister!) of ours, they really do everything they can to show us we’re not alone. It’s hard watching loved ones struggle, and I know they work hard to help us keep it together. To them, I’m grateful.

Not only have I been able to craft a career and work schedule that I really love, but I’ve managed to get in with the very best people, too. I’ve been totally blown away at the support from bosses and coworkers who’ve been hearing “I have no idea what’s happening but it’s happening soon” for two months. For coworkers who are willing to maybe cover depending on whatever the fuck my body decides to do that day. For badass bossladies who know how deeply I appreciate them on a daily basis, and are willing to roll with me on this, knowing how important it is to me. For letting me meltdown every once in a while without holding it against me. And to my parents and littles that light up my days, you are my heart. Thank you.

My poor, poor friends. Honestly, sometimes I’m shocked I even still have friends. Anyone who goes through infertility knows how all-consuming it really is. I’m sorry that I’ve talked about nothing other than ovaries and periods and babies and being sad for six years. Thank you for being patient with me when you know how much I want to come snuggle your new babies, but understand when I keep an arms distance because you know that sometimes, it just hurts that much. And even though I don’t want that to stand in the way, it just does on occasion. Thank you for not holding it against me when that four year old birthday party is just too much. Thank you for checking in, sending flowers, running to work in the middle of the night to get supplies we didn’t realize we needed, or just being willing to take me however I come that day. Thank you for not judging me in how much this clouds my life, and continuing to see the other parts of me, even when I don’t.

I often joke that I’m learning alongside my toddlers in class, when it comes to self love and anxiety control, but the truth is, I really am. If we’re being honest, I’m kind of forcing myself to appreciate small, individual things about my body and self in a bit of a fake it till you make it operation. So today, I’m grateful that my body has decided to work with us this round. That things are seemingly looking the best they’ve ever been. Albeit, it could all change, but for today, I am grateful (and grateful doesn’t mean you can’t be realistic).

I’ve been trying to think of a majestic and intelligent way to end this post, but the truth is that I’ll probably be crying over kitten videos momentarily, and it’s taking all my energy and then some just to keep it together. Thanks for understanding.

And thank you for laughing with me. Love you all.

For better or worse: kind of an update

For whatever it’s worth, this is the third time I’ve started this blog in the last 6 months. Every time has really had its best intentions, with the promise of a big update that many have skirted around asking for. And please don’t get me wrong, I’m so, so appreciative that so many care. But frankly, I haven’t known what to say.

So I’ll say this. Please don’t read this with hopes for a big, awesome plan. We don’t have one.

The last 6 months have really had their ups and downs. I’ve finally found a career I really love, Mike is doing great.  So many things to be so grateful for. And we are, more than you know.

So here’s the last 6 months of baby making, in a nutshell. The third transfer and subsequent failure changed me. I’m just being honest here. I mean, no one expects the first transfer to work, and the second, well, it stings, but you’re not burnt yet. But man, something happened after that third transfer.  We really, really thought that one was it, too. I was sick in a way I had never been, all the numbers looked great. This was finally it. Until it wasn’t.

We were willing to move forward with the 4th. We went for a consult with our doctor, and she spewed all kinds of tests we could do and experiments we could try, with all statements seeming to end with a proverbial question mark. All costing thousands of dollars with no actual promise of any definitive answers. Months and months of meds and endometrial biopsies with no end in sight. And frankly it was all a shot in the dark. But what really got me was this: “we have no idea why it didn’t work. Everything looked perfect. This should have worked.”

Everyone has asked me throughout this whole process how I could work around pregnant women all day, and I very truthfully responded with “their baby isn’t about me. Their path isn’t my path.” And I meant it. And everyone seemed to wait for the final straw that would break the camels back. And break it, it did.

I started turning into what everyone expected me to have been from the start. Bitter, sad, jaded. Jealous and angry. And with no help from the shitloads of artificial hormones still coursing through my body, I’ll be the first to admit I went to a pretty dark place. I lost all sense of hope. Literally, every bit.

Mike and I did a lot of soul searching, and decided that maybe we needed to be done with IVF. We had always welcomed the idea of adoption. And  it’s a much larger conversation which I’m happy to get into personally, but we just decided to do IVF first. But adoption was never a consolation prize. Just a different path.

So here we were, super excited about the change in direction, ready to put full steam behind adopting! Here’s what we found out: there are almost zero local agencies that will work with us because we’re not Christian. OK, so we find a large national agency we like. Yay! We meet with a family services organization to start our homestudy. Oh, what’s that? All the debt we went into for IVF will likely get us denied to adopt? Awesome.

Enter total pit of despair.

Alright, maybe I’m being dramatic, but I’m not far off.

So here’s where we stand. We have no idea what we’re going to do, and that’s basically it. There’s a part of me that wants to go on and on all about how I feel defective and guilty, how my body has let us down too many times. About how when you look for help to change that feeling, every article you read about loving and accepting your body seems to boil down to “I look at my beautiful children and realize my body did that“, which only alienates me even more and fosters the hate even deeper. How this whole month of December has been excruciating because had that third transfer worked, this is when we would have met our baby. I wish I could explain the pain I’ve felt when I told Mike (on more than one occasion) that I would totally get it if he left me and found someone else that was just easier, and the pain in his face because he knows I mean it.

But frankly, if you haven’t been there, you won’t understand. I swear, that’s not meant to be condescending. It’s just true.

I want to end this on a positive note, but there kind of isn’t one. I mean, who knows how all this will turn out? But I do know this – for now, I’m lucky enough to get lots of love from littles who I get to hang out with all the time. And I could not have asked for a better partner. I mean, seriously, this shit tears couples apart, and understandably so.

They weren’t kidding about the whole for better or worse thing.


FAQ’s and other notable commentary:

“But what about foster care?”
Every state is different, and TN always has the main goal of reuniting families. Always. Babies do not go into foster care for adoption right off the bat. And bringing a child, baby or otherwise, into our family and then having them taken from us is too much right now. I’ll always be supportive of families being able to work it out, and I’d love to be part of that in the future, but right now, that’s not the right path for us.

In private adoption, there are approximately 36 waiting hopeful families for every baby born with an adoption plan.

“So are you in a constant state of misery?”
Not constant, per se. I speak for both of us when I say we find a lot of joy being around our friends and their families! Or my little ones in class, whom I LOVE and truly look forward to seeing weekly. But yes, it’s hard. Sometimes, I’ll recuse myself from the environment so I’m not that person bawling in a random place. And that’s ok. It’s always appreciated when you allow me these moments.

“Have hope! My brother/neighbor/cousin/friend did…”
Here’s the thing about hope. Hope is the easiest thing for people to try to pump into you when there’s nothing else to say – which, for the record, I completely get! I’m guilty of it myself, probably many times over. But alongside hope, is reality, and reality is truth, no matter how much hope you’ve got. Infertility is really, really complex. It’s incredibly unlikely that what happened to your loved one won’t happen for us. It’s not a doom thing, it’s that every case is extremely different.

“But did you try…”


Don’t call it courage.


I’ve written and erased this blog multiple times. Bottom line, third transfer didn’t work, and no, it doesn’t get easier.

We’re going to keep going. One more embryo to transfer, then probably on to adoption. And we’re going to keep going until we have our baby, no matter how (s)he comes to us.

You can call it determination. Persistence. Maybe even nerve.

But please don’t call it courage.

Because this is what a mother does. Fights for her children, even when she hasn’t met them yet.

Round 2. Fight!

It’s been a bit too long since we posted here. In the meantime an awful lot has happened, and most of it we’ve been sharing via cryptic posts on Facebook.

And over the last several weeks, we’ve been sharing our story in person with a great many people, but now it’s time to catch everyone up. So here we go.

Part 1: In which we decide to do IVF again

This happened a while back. We’re still fighting the good fight, but with some key differences as you’ll see below.

We started round 2 in February, and we’re well into it now. It’s been a roller coaster, as you’ll see, and for the sake of clarity I’m going to try to explain each step.

And Doris gets her oats.

Part 2: In which we retrieve 13 eggs

Holy shit! 13 eggs! That’s waaaayyy more than we were expecting. Last time around we only retrieved 6 eggs. Of course we pretty much maxed out Courtney on medication, stimulating her ovaries as much as possible. Much crying was had that day in the fertility clinic, and it was the good kind.

Part 3: In which 4 eggs are fertilized

And this is where the roller coaster begins. Is mild devastation a thing? Because that’s how I felt when I heard this news. I mean, it’s still 4 fertilized eggs, but that number is not what we expected.

For comparison: in our last round, all 6 eggs fertilized. One fertilized abnormally (i.e. more than one sperm got in), leaving 5 fertilized eggs to work with. To have only 4 fertilized in this round seems like a big step backwards.

But then we remembered: the first go-round was not normal. This round was normal. It’s not unusual to have fertilization rates like this, and the past was an anomaly.

Here’s where things got a little different from the last time too. This round, we’re doing genetic testing (more on that in a second), and when you do genetic testing, it’s required to do a procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI. This is just a fancy way of saying that they pull out one teensy weensy sperm and use a very fine needle to inject it directly into the egg.

The last time around, we didn’t do ICSI, as it’s quite expensive, and not really necessary for a typical IVF cycle. ICSI is required for genetic analysis, as it helps prevent contamination of the genetic material by extra sperm in and around the egg. In a normal fertilization procedure, they pretty much just drop a blob of semen on the egg and see what happens.

Strangely, ICSI tends to have higher fertilization rates than non-ICSI procedures, but again… we were not the norm the first time around.

Part 4: In which we biopsy 2 blastocysts for genetic analysis

Two of our embryos grew for 5 days. This is the cutoff at which it’s clear these are growing well, and stand a good chance of implantation on transfer back to the uterus. At this point, they biopsy a small number of cells from each embryo, and send them off for analysis. Both embryos are frozen until we know whether they are viable.

Again, a sort of mild devastation. We started with 13. Now we’re down to 2.

So why do all this genetic testing? Well, the last round of IVF, we really didn’t have any clear understanding of why it didn’t work. Often the answer is that the embryos are simply not genetically compatible with life. In natural conception, these embryos simply don’t implant. This happens in an IVF scenario too, but when you’re spending thousands of dollars per transfer, the last thing you want to do is use embryos that never stood a chance to begin with.

Going into the next step, we know it’s typical for half of the embryos sent for genetic testing are found to be viable. That would put us with exactly one shot at success.


Part 5: In which both embryos are genetically viable

And there’s one boy and one girl 🙂

To say this is a relief is a bit of an understatement. Right now we’re at the top of the roller coaster’s final hill, waiting to see what happens around the last turn.

We’re going to transfer one embryo at a time, and we’re not going to ask them which one (gotta have some good surprises, right?).

I’ll let you guess what my next Facebook post is gonna be.

Resolutions and whatnot.

Before this whole journey started, I used to make a lot of wishes. I’m not sure if that’s called superstition, or perhaps just an excess of hope, but there was never a chance to make a wish passed by. 11:11 was my favorite, I think, but then there was also birthdays, a rogue eyelash, or a wishbone. Frankly, I can’t remember what I used to wish before, before every one became a baby. But those wishes came and went, along with almost all my energy for positive thinking a la The Secret, meditations to will my fertility into existence, and overall positivity for any of this to change.

Going into this next cycle, I’ll admit I’m less than excited. After two losses, my sheer excitement is no longer enough to make the shots, finances, and possible bad news seem worth it. And to be honest, my butt still hurts from the last rounds. The thought of there being a baby at the end of this seems really hard to find. I mean, logically, I know. But my heart still isn’t so sure.

OK, so everybody together on my count of 3. Ready? 1… 2… 3…


I get that a lot. One day I’m going to write a lengthy post on adoption, but for right now, I’m going to boil it down to this:

  • Before you get your pitchforks out, we are TOTALLY OPEN to adoption. Seriously. We met with adoption agencies before we started any of this, and continue to do so when something comes up that might be a fit for us. We will continue to pursue avenues that work for our family. And just like you’ve had to make decisions in your life that fit for your family, we have too.
  • I have no idea where the term “just adopt” came from, but there’s no such thing as just adopting. Adoption is an incredibly hard process for both the birth mother and the adoptive parents, with a LOT of cost, and a lot of heartbreak for all parties involved. They’re not just handing out babies in need like a lot of people seem to think. And it’s all totally worth it. I’m just saying that there’s no easy road in this journey.

So, heart’s not so sure about all this, yet we continue to remain on the same course. Stop complaining. And I will. But here’s where the resolutions come in.

  1. Get out of my comfort zone.
    As horrible as infertility feels, it’s the only thing I know. If we’re being really honest here, I think there’s a part of me that’s equally terrified of seeing a positive as I am of seeing a negative. As badly as I want it, it’s new territory, and the uncertainty of this whole shebang is scary. A positive brings on so many other fears (that many without infertility also feel in early pregnancy) – will my body actually be able to do this? What if I miscarry? And so on.
    And this will apply to my whole life. I’ve already chopped off my hair and bought glasses that are not within my comfort zone. And you know what? I’m already happier for it.I tend to live by the mantra “do what you’ve always done, get what you’ve always gotten”. I’m over it. On to a new path.
  2. Renew my faith in being open to the possibility.
    I think I’ve kind of let this one slide, and I need to get it back. It was advice I got early into this process, and it gave me a lot of hope back then. And in a time that I’ve seemed to have lost all sense of hope, I need to make this one a priority. It is totally possible we’ll be parents at the end of this.
  3. Stop allowing infertility to change my plans, and plan for the life I have right now.
    Since we first started trying, everything was “ok, if I get pregnant this month, we’ll be x months along by (whenever). So I had better wait to…”. Yeah, no more of that. That ship has sailed. Because the fact is, right now, I’m not pregnant. I can do everything a pregnant lady can’t right now. Roller coasters, booze, soft cheese. You name it, I can do it. Except the litter box. I mean, we wouldn’t want our future baby to be affected by toxoplasmosis, right? Thanks honey.
    But seriously, I haven’t done so much because we might get pregnant. And here I am, four years later, and not pregnant. I’m going to plan for my life right now. And if I get pregnant, we’ll change the plan. But no more waiting for the unicorn.
  4. Stay better connected with friends and family. Stop being a hermit.
    I’ve found this process really brought out my inner introvert. I think I’ve always teetered the line between extrovert and introvert, but this has thrown me over the edge. I never know how I’m going to feel, or act, for that matter. Plus, there’s shots on very specific timelines, and not all of them I can do myself. And I always felt weird about doing them out of the house. But such is life. I need to get out and keep connections with my friends and family. Because I need you. We need you. And I hope that if I cry over something stupid in your presence, or act like a hormonal lunatic, you’ll understand.
  5. Stop treating unsuccessful cycles as failures, and instead treat them as losses.
    Failure implies that something was done wrong, and with that comes guilt, shame, and self hate. I didn’t do anything wrong, and I need to be ok with that, as much as I’d like to place blame. An unsuccessful cycle is very much so a loss, and the blame isn’t helpful.

So there we go. If you’ve read this far, you deserve a medal.

And with that, a giant thank you. Thank you for your heart, your thoughts, your help, your love. Thank you to everyone who has continued to support us on this journey. You have no idea how much you mean to both of us. You genuinely make a difference. I am so unbelievably grateful for your presence in my life.

I’ve debated whether or not to continue sharing so much. But here I am. And I hope it makes a difference to someone. Because this isn’t just a story about infertility. It’s about a life that you just didn’t imagine having. Just know you’re not alone, and I’m here for you too.

Happy New Year. May whatever you’re wishing for come true.

The tale of the body that could(n’t).

I figured it was probably time to share the news.

This last embryo, it wasn’t our baby either.

So two rounds in, two rounds failed. I had done the unspeakable and tested in advance, so I sobbed it out all weekend. But the final line was drawn Monday with the blood test. The blood test that would, yet again, tell us we’re not going to be parents. Again. Not this time.

About a week ago, I had the opportunity to screen Embrace, a great documentary that explored body image and self love/hate. I came home enlightened, enraged, enamored. I wrote this long post about my deeply rooted body issues and conception, and in the end, couldn’t bring myself to post it. After years of very openly discussing my reproductive system, somehow, this post about my relationship with my body felt too personal.

It boiled down to this: no matter how much I’m told my body is amazing or capable or meant to do this, here I am, despite desperately trying to accept the body I’m in for what it is, with a blaring neon sign staring me in the face saying

you’re still defective.

I did everything. Eat this, don’t eat that, weigh this, stop taking this, start taking that, exercise more but that’s too much, relax, be positive, LOVE YOUR BODY FOR THE HEAVENLY VESSEL IT IS AND ALL WILL BE SOLVED!

Every shot, every ultrasound, every appointment, every procedure is a stark reminder of the things my body is supposed to do on its own. I wanted nothing more than that 1BB grade embryo that a doctor inserted to stay in my belly. I hoped it would settle into the uterine lining that injections of estradiol created. I wished that it would thrive on the shots of progesterone and estradiol that my body got nightly. Nothing. And I can’t help but feel that every time someone tries to offer advice, there’s an underlying twinge of “what is wrong with you?”

I have this idea in my head that when my body actually carries out a pregnancy, that’s when I’ll learn to love it. But that -when- may not happen, and the alternative action cannot be hating my body for the rest of my life. 

I still don’t regret our decision to be open about our journey, even if it’s a little depressing sometimes. This needs to be discussed. People going through this need to connect, and the relationships I’ve had the good fortune to cultivate through this process have been priceless, and will hopefully last a lifetime. I write all this because infertility desperately needs transparency, and this is what it looks like.

So what’s next? What’s next is a break. My body needs to heal. Both our hearts need to heal. We are tired, brokenhearted, and broke. But this too shall pass, and on we’ll go, probably at the beginning of next year.

In the mean time, send gluten.