Mom of Fame – Expecting through Reciprocal IVF

Ana is a wonderful human being. I (Lisa) was great friends with her in high school and Facebook has kept us connected ever since. I was thrilled when I got to meet her (then) girlfriend when I took their engagement photos. These two bring light and love and we are so excited for them to be bringing a little one into this world.

We reached out to Ana to see if she wanted to tell her story about getting pregnant. It was a bit of a long road for them and their story is worth reading.

Pregnancy happens in various ways and we were excited to learn a little bit more about reciprocal IVF. They both deserve the title of Mom of Fame just for going through what they have so far.

Can’t wait to hear when the little one arrives!

Tell us about your family.

My wife (Kim) and I started dating 9 years ago (Feb 2010) when we met at a bar one night in Kalamazoo where we were both living at the time. I was immediately drawn to her humor and beautiful brain. In June of 2014 we got married in front of Niagara Falls (New York side) because same-sex marriage wasn’t legal in Michigan yet. A year later (June 2015) when it was made legal across the country we were thrilled! Kim is an actuary (mathlete) and I am currently in grad school part time at MSU working on my MSW. We have two little dogs, who are in their retirement and getting crabbier and more toothless by the day, but we love them. We live in my hometown (The Six!) which is crazy to me because I never saw myself moving back here. It has definitely changed for the better I think though. Just wish they would stop paving paradise to put up parking lots. 

Tell us about your journey getting pregnant. 

First I want to acknowledge that I know we are fortunate to have the options and access that we do. I know a lot of people are not able to seek out fertility specialists for many reasons and although it shouldn’t be, it is a privilege and it is one that I don’t take for granted.

Anyway…about 3 years ago we decided that we wanted to start trying to have a baby. Of course, being two women we are missing one essential component (ahem sperm) so we knew we had to find a donor. We chose a sperm bank that two of our friends had used out of Washington state and found an anonymous donor that seemed to match the criteria we were looking for.

I have known since I was a kid that I wanted to be pregnant and have babies someday. My wife knew she wanted kids but never felt like it was natural for her to carry a child. (Side note: I feel like a lot more women probably feel this way but may not talk about it). SO it was an easy decision that I would be the one to carry our children.

Because my cycle had always been regular and I had been tracking for about 4 months, I figured getting pregnant would be no problem. After two failed attempts doing at home insemination though, we decided to see a specialist. (At home insemination is also known as the turkey baster method although you do NOT use a turkey baster).

At this time my insurance did not cover a penny of seeing a fertility specialist but we decided to go anyway. He recommended IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) where they put the sperm directly into the uterus with a plastic catheter thing. We found out after the first few months of no pregnancy that I have an “ovulatory dysfunction” meaning that even though my cycle seems normal I was only ovulating every other month or so. So they put me on a bunch of drugs and monitored the cycle from beginning to end.

The first medicated IUI attempt WORKED!! I took a pregnancy test at home and it was positive. I was so excited! The due date was New Years Day! At the 2 week mark, I went to the doctor to take an official blood test and the BETA came back at only 32. This level is pretty low for day 14 after ovulation and the nurse did not sound hopeful. She said to prepare for the fact that the pregnancy might not be viable and to come back in a few days to see if the levels increased. I took another at home pregnancy test the next day and the line was much fainter than it had been. I started feeling disheartened but still had some hope. I went to the doctor again and the results had decreased to 12. They told me to expect a heavy period in the next week and that they were sorry.

I was devastated.

What’s worse is I felt like I had no right to be sad because it was only a “chemical pregnancy”. When I got my period about a week later it was the worst one I had ever experienced. Every cramp reminded me of the baby that might have been.

The next month I tried another medicated round of IUI. Negative. Then another. Negative. My wife encouraged me to take a break from trying. I was so down and the drugs they had me on were physically draining. All of my money was going toward these treatments. I felt like my body had failed me and I felt guilty for feeling as bad as I did because I knew other women who had gone through much worse.

We decided to take a break and come back to having kids when we were ready. I also realized I was depressed and started seeing a therapist who helped me IMMENSELY. She helped me realize that even though my loss was an early one that it was real to me and that it was ok to grieve and process it.

I still think about that little “poppy seed” on New Year’s but I also realize now that the fact that it didn’t stick was biology doing its job.

Fast forward to late 2016. Kim and I were talking about our friends who were doing reciprocal IVF. In other words, my friend was going to carry her wife’s biological child. We thought this was super cool and I asked my wife if she would want me to do that for her. I remember she looked at me and said “You would do that?” and I remember saying “I would love to do that”.

She had never expressed wanting biological children of her own because she didn’t think it was possible without having to carry and she thought it was a lot to ask of someone. I felt honored to think of the prospect of it though.  Kim is a few years older than I am so we decided that we should get started on this soon. We also discovered that Kim’s insurance covers fertility treatments which is not typical, especially in Michigan. (Side note…even if you have fertility coverage it can still be expensive). 

We started the process. Kim would start the process for egg retrieval and I would make sure my womb was hospitable. While Kim was on her treatments of tons of shots and meds, I had a procedure done where they put a camera into my uterus. It is as comfortable and fun as it sounds. They found a polyp and recommended surgery to have it removed since polyps can sometimes prevent implantation. In the same week, Kim had her egg retrieval and I had my polyp removal. Both were successful!

We had plenty of eggs from Kim and ended up getting quite a few fertilized and frozen successfully. We also had some genetically tested but this gets more complicated so if you are interested in genetic testing just google “PGS embryo testing”. We decided to hold off on doing the transfer (where they put a fertilized embryo in my uterus) until after we got back from our United Kingdom trip. We have heard that kids can put a damper on international travel for a while. When we got back we started the process for the transfer. Lots of checkups and blood draws and the worst part…daily butt shots. I’ll be honest though I eventually got used to the butt shots but it’s literally a pain in the ass.

The time of the first transfer came and two weeks afterward we found out that it didn’t work. Once again I was devastated. I kept thinking  “IVF is “supposed” to work”. Ya know what though? Sometimes it doesn’t! And it sucks!  My wife was bummed but more hopeful.

We decided to try again though right away. I went through another couple procedures and the second transfer WORKED! I had a *feeling* because I was getting a lot of weird pressure behind my belly button which I had never had before. When we found out we cried and were just like “holy sh*t…we’re having a baby”. When the BETA test came back super high from the doctor it started to feel more real too. This was not a chemical pregnancy. It was a “sticky embryo” as they say in the biz. (Fertility biz. Not show biz.)

Seeing the tiny heartbeat at our first ultrasound made it even more real and I fell in love with that little bean-shaped thing in my uterus.

Long story short (hah!)…I’m almost 6 months pregnant now. 🙂  We are waiting to be surprised on if it’s a boy or a girl but we both think it’s a girl. We would like two kids and hope to use my eggs in a couple of years for our second. 

What are you most excited about?

I am just excited to fulfill the “mom” title with my wife. I am so excited to know our kid and teach them everything we know and show them beautiful things, hear good music, eat good food and help them to become a strong, smart and kind person. I’m ready for the challenges and the joys. As ready as I’ll ever be I guess. 

What are you most scared about?

Right now my baby is safe and sound in my womb and it terrifies me that one day they will have to go out into the world and people might be mean to them. It puts me into mama bear mode. I’m also scared about someone giving my kid some deadly and preventable disease before they are old enough to be protected. #Vaccinate 

Does anything about this pregnancy make it unique? 

I’m carrying my wife’s baby. 🙂 I think that’s pretty unique. 

What has been the most overwhelming thing about this pregnancy? 

The amount of stuff you need even if you want to be kind of minimal. Also the amount of contradicting (and often unprovoked) advice you get from people. I will say I do appreciate veteran mothers immensely. Moms are warriors and women are so bad ass…but there is just a lot of info out there and it can get to be too much! Also the number of ways your baby can hurt themselves or suffocate. I was excited for a rock n’ play but noooo….

For anyone going through reciprocal IVF  or IVF in general – any advice?

Everyone’s reason for doing IVF is different but I would say…trust the process. For so long I was on this timeline of when I had to have a kid (influenced by other people I will admit) and timelines rarely work especially when it comes to fertility.

Also, make sure you have an outlet. Whether it’s your spouse/partner or a close friend or infertility group, do not go through the journey alone. Fertility treatments can be financially, physically and emotionally draining and it’s easy to get let it consume you.

Sometimes we feel so rushed and compare ourselves so much to where other people are that we forget that it’s ok to take a step back and reconnect with your spouse/partner and remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. I thought I was going to have two kids by the time I  was 27. I’ll be 34 when I have my first baby and I feel like this is the right time now.

Also, practicing mindfulness and gratitude helps you to remember what you really have control over. Spoiler: It’s not much!  

Mom of Fame – Becky

We here at Momfaming have had some personal things happen within the last few months. We lost the time where we used to interview our wonderful mothers. Starting with Becky we are hoping to get back into the swing of things tenfold.

Becky is a rockstar. She is a full-time working mommy of three who is married to a pilot and still (somehow) makes a little self-care time for herself. She is a role model when it comes to examples of what a mother should be and we are thrilled she wanted to participate in our blog.

Read on to see why she really does deserve the title of Mom of Fame!

Please tell us about yourself and your family.

Hey everyone! First of all, I can’t believe I’ve been asked to guest-write on a blog. This is so exciting, especially because Momfaming is one of my favorite pick-me-up spots when I need the extra support. So thank you for my 5-seconds of fame! But back to myself and my family so I’m a good guest blogger 🙂  I’m 35 years old (I think? I often must count up from my birth year to figure it out. I hope I’m not alone there!). I work as a Sr. Learning Consultant for True Value Company, which I’ve done for seven years. I was very blessed two years ago when my company allowed me to work remotely after deciding we wanted to move back to MI after 10 years of living in various other places. I’m married to the only person on this planet who could possibly handle my craziness – Blair. We went to the same high school (go Wildcats!), but never knew each other, as we were a year apart. We were blindly set-up my mutual friends (Hey Mike and Michelle!) and the rest is history. We have three beautiful Little Freemans – Luke (9), Lily (6), and Brielle (3). Our family is rounded out by Bella, our puggle, two hamsters (at one point we had eight, which we had to separate into individual cages due to three rounds of incest and MORE hamsters…fun times), and a 55-gallon tank of fish!

What was the best advice you were given about motherhood? Did you take it? Would you give that advice to someone else?

To be completely honest, I received SO much advice that after a while, it was overwhelming. People’s opinions and ideas about how to diaper, how to set schedules, how to dress, feed, nurse, sleep, burp, medicate, etc. were never in shortage! I did my best to absorb what I could, but when my first was born – it ALL went out the window and I somehow just knew what to do. I know many call this mommy instincts, but for me, it couldn’t be truer. So, rather than advice, I like to let new moms figure it out on their own, and if they ask me, I’ll tell them how I did it. But each baby and mommy are different than the next!

How is motherhood different than you imagined it would be?

It takes a lot more work than I ever could have prepared for! You rarely get to see a mom “behind the scenes” while in action, because let’s face it – unless I’m married to you, if you come over I’m doing my very best to put on a show and make it look like we’re totally under control! So, prior to having kids, I had no idea how time consuming (yet rewarding!) it can all be. You don’t get “down time” as we all know. When you get the rare moment to yourself, your wheels are turning about the next thing related to keeping your family afloat.

What are your three strengths when it comes to motherhood?

Being organized – anyone who knows me knows this is my super power. I love to stay ahead of things. Being married to a pilot whose schedule changes monthly, we need to have structure, routine, process, strong communication, and most importantly, a plan!

Taking the time to understand a situation – this one sounds weird but let me explain. I work hard at putting myself in other people’s shoes to get a better idea of what they are thinking and feeling, which may be driving their actions. My children, their teachers, bus drivers, grandparents, etc. This is so extremely helpful when little kid emotions flair. I can help them by asking why they’re upset, what they expected to happen that didn’t, and how they can help themselves in any situation. I’m all about empowering my kids, but first I need to teach them the skills of empathy and understanding.

Being a mom and not a best friend – I love my children. Fiercely. But I’m the first one to tell them when they aren’t living their lives in accordance with our family motto of “Faith. Family. Friends.” I firmly believe that while I want to be friends with my children, my first role in their little lives is to guide, correct, and nurture. I’m tough on them, but that’s because this world will be tough on them. They need to have the strength to stand tall in today’s world, because lots of situations and experiences will try and pull them down. I’m here to ensure they know right from wrong, how to use their voices, and how to positively contribute to the world!

Describe a time where you were completely overwhelmed as a mother.

Blair is gone typically three to five days at a time. Having a 3, 6, and 9-year-old keeps me on my toes daily! As a family, we have full-time work, full-time school, daycare, homework, dance, Cub Scouts, Daisies (which I lead), friend issues, home maintenance, pet care, chores, church (not just the service – I teach Sunday School and have choir practice, too!) So it’s hard to pick just one time, as I think motherhood ebs and flows when it comes to being overwhelmed.  But the beauty is that – it’s our life! I wouldn’t trade any one of those things. I combat the craziness by being organized, asking for and willingly receiving help (i.e. my cleaning lady who is amazing and budgeted weekly because mama needs a minute!) and having a tribe of people to go to when I need them (you know who you are….)

Is there anything you feel that you have lost about yourself since becoming a mother?

Not at all. I truly believe this is who I was destined to be and am so happy at where I am in my life! It’s a lot of work, but holy cow is it worth it. My heart lives in each of my three kids, and the blood, sweat, and tears I put into them pays out ten-fold every night when I’m tucking them into bed.

What have you gained?

Besides 60lbs? LOL! I have gained the capacity to love more than I ever knew possible. I have gained the ability to push myself harder than I thought I could, because they need me. I’ve gained patience, the ability to think before acting, and to love everything about myself, including my flaws. I have three kids who constantly look up to me, so I need to stay real, stay positive, and rock it out the best I can! (And regarding the 60lbs – I’m happy to say that I’m down 30lbs since August, as I’ve reprioritized my life and made time for ME, which is so important.)

What do you want your children to learn from you?

Insert the tears! What do I want my children to learn from me? That life isn’t perfect, but you have a choice as to how you react to it. That they have a voice that can make a difference. To be kind (I tell them this every morning before school). That it’s ok to love so big, it makes your heart hurt. That when your heart hurts, it’s ok to talk to someone about it (hopefully, they trust me enough to be that person!) And mostly, I want them to learn to have faith. In God, first, and in themselves secondly. Their lives are what they make of it – go out there and shine my sweet angels!

You have so much going on! You work, have three kids, a pilot husband and you still make time for self care. What is your secret? Any advice to moms?

I’ve had the great pleasure to meet an author by the name of Mel Robbins. Mel wrote a book titled “The 5-Second Rule.” Here’s the rule: The moment you have an impulse to act on a goal, you must push yourself to move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it. Man, is this SO TRUE for me. My workouts are first-thing in the morning. I wake up at 5:15 to get ahead of the kids, who wake at 6:45. It’s not fun, and I never want to do it. But I know that once my feet are on the floor, there’s no turning back. I use this principle in everything in life – Just. Go. Just do it! Not everything will be glamorous, but once you see a need, a desire, a goal, a chore – anything really, take those 5-seconds and GET MOVING! You’ll be so happy to look back at those overwhelming days and say “Wow, I’m a freaking rock star!”

The Struggles of Going Back to Work

As I write this I have about four more weeks before I have to go back to my full time job. Yep. Full-time job. That sounds crazy, right? I have a *newborn* and a toddler so that surely is my full-time job. RIGHT!? I am screaming this because I am not quite sure how I am going to do it all.

Why, as a society, have we not gotten better about how we treat working moms? Why is everything still going to be expected of us when we go back to work?

Let me tell you right now – maternity is NOT a vacation. It’s not 12 weeks where the moms get to party and live it up. It is quite literally the hardest job you can imagine.

While your body (and mind) are healing from pushing a baby out you are taking care of a newborn and most likely other children. You are on call every minute of every single day.

Besides taking care of your children you also feel like you have to cook, clean, shop and maintain everything around the household. You should have to be the one to do it all, right? That’s what society tells us.

Going back to a full-time job and having a full-time job at home doesn’t seem possible and I am fearing it.

I am fearing leaving my three month old daughter with complete strangers.

I am fearing how my nights will look when trying to get everything ready for the next day.

I am fearing the new morning routine. Trying to get a toddler and newborn out of the house.

I am fearing dinners and how on earth they are going to get made.

I am fearing how any household task is going to get done.

I am fearing getting back into the groove at work and finding my stride again.

I am fearing all the breaks I will need to take to pump.

I am fearing not breastfeeding my daughter whenever she needs it and instead having a stranger give her the pumped milk (this one also makes me incredibly sad).

So, there you have it, I am a scared and I know I’m not the only one that has these thoughts. I know mothers everywhere are thinking the same things and more. I just wish we would be able to do something about it and stay home with our babies a little longer.

One can dream…

Secrets of a Stay at Home Mom

I have been a SAHM for 18 months now and I think I am just finally getting the hang of it (almost!). It’s a tough job with no “clock out” time, little adult interaction and no pay. Although this can be frustrating at times, it is also the most fulfilling job in the world with the added benefit of getting to see your child 24/7. Just like any job there are good days and there are bad days. I’ve found that by doing these 5 things I have a lot more of the good ones:

Have a schedule…but don’t be afraid to break it!

We all know that kiddos thrive on schedules. I have tried to have Ryan on a schedule since he was a newborn (well really he had me on one then!) Now that he’s old enough to understand the schedule a little bit it is even more important though! We try to have a plan each day and honestly just having that plan makes the day go by quicker.

Right now our schedule looks something like: wake up, play, breakfast, songs, OT or PT (with the therapists or just with us), nap, lunch, play (or outing), nap, dada’s home—thank goodness!, dinner, play, bed). Some days we have swim in the morning and OT or PT in the afternoon but that gives you a general idea of what we do each day.

Even though we have a schedule we are not afraid to break it if something else will work better or we have the opportunity to do something fun. Now I try my best not to mess with Ryan’s naps, but anything else is fair game!

Enjoy a “Mom’s Night Out” whenever possible

SAHMs are with their kiddos ALL day long. As amazing as that is, we also need a little time to ourselves. I think it is SO important to be able to get out and enjoy yourself without your kiddo sometimes. I try to plan a night out with friends at least once a month. I am able to just chat, eat without interruptions and not worry about a little one and everything he needs for a few hours. I feel so rejuvenated afterward so I think it’s just as important for Ryan as it is for me! It also gives him a little time with his dad which is also great for both of them!

Plan an outing at least once a week

I try to plan something fun (outside of the house) to do each week. Whether it’s going over to a friend’s house, going someplace cool (like the zoo), or just heading to Target and lunch (mama’s favorite!). I feel like this helps make the week go by faster because it is something we can look forward to and it also helps Ryan’s development. He loves being around other adults and other children and his curiosity is so peeked when we go someplace new!

Pick up the phone

Being home with an 18 month old and 2 dogs can get a little lonely. Don’t get me wrong, they are all near me ALL the time, but none of them are the best communicators. This makes adult conversation so necessary throughout the day! So if your friends call PICK UP THE PHONE (obviously when the toddler is occupied and you’re able to). Or if your child is asleep, call someone just to talk! I have found the days are much more bearable when I am able to talk to friends throughout the day and not just wait for my husband to get home to have adult interaction. (I think he appreciates it too because then I don’t bombard him with questions and thoughts the second he walks in the door!)

Accept help

I had a very hard time with this (and still do sometimes)! I think stay at home moms think that since we are not “working” we shouldn’t need help throughout the day. But guess what, we need help too! If someone offers to help so you can run some errands (without a toddler whining) or so you can go to a doctor’s appointment SAY YES!

I also have a bad habit of thinking that since this is my “job” that I have to continue to do everything once my husband gets home. Again, this shouldn’t be the case! So if your husband gets home and offers to take the responsibility over so you can do something (or regain your sanity), SAY YES!

No matter what kind of week we have, this boy makes being a SAHM worth it! Whether you’re also a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, what have you found helps you have a better week? Let us know in the comments!


How do you know you’re done having kids?

This question has been playing in my mind over and over again since I had my second baby. She is only seven weeks old, but I’ve had a good amount of time to think (because of the measles outbreak in my home town I’m afraid to go anywhere).

I’ve always thought I would be done at two. I have a boy and a girl and I feel like that’s perfect for our family. A family of four sounds good. There are two of us and two of them. Financially it makes sense. We will still live our life how we normally do and take vacations every year. It makes sense.

My baby boy. The first born. It was easy to know I wanted one more after him!

So if I think all that WHY can’t I get that nagging voice out of my head that says ‘well, maybe…’. There are pros and cons to everything and I know that, for my family, the pros of two are better.

My second born. This time it’s a little harder to make that call.

How did you know? How did you know that you were done having kids? I didn’t take the time to enjoy my last pregnancy and I wish I had since it might be my last. That’s so hard to think of though, right? I won’t feel the kicks again? Or the moment they lay your baby on your chest?

Tell me. How did you know? Did you go through a mourning process?

Birth Stories: Emergency C-Section Vs. Planned C-Section

Written By: Naomi Legault

Jax: 4 years old

When I found out I was going to have my first baby, Jax, I started on a planning frenzy. I had to find out the gender as soon as I could to plan out the nursery, choose my stroller colour, buy clothes and more! For all the research I did, the one plan I didn’t think about as much was the birth plan. I had no idea what to expect, so my plan was to just go to the hospital and have a baby when it was time. I did have a lot of unanswered questions: What does a contraction feel like? Will my water break? Where will I be when it happens?

I’ll never forget being wheeled over to see Jax, my heart was exploding.

I was about 10 days late. It was torture for me because I hate the unknown; obviously problematic when having a baby. Turned out that I had to have a membrane sweep to move things along, a couple of days later I started having contractions. I never knew what they would feel like but once they came, oh boy! It was super early in the morning, I started timing them, showered, and did some minimal make up (in extreme pain). I don’t even know how I did it because when I was trying to get dressed it felt impossible. My mother-in-law was visiting at the time, and said “you need to go NOW”.

When we got to the hospital, I finally had some relief. I can’t say enough good things about the hospital that I was at but I had unfortunate luck with my first nurse. I was in so much pain and she basically told me that I wasn’t going to get any sympathy from her since she had four kids. Luckily I got an epidural and much better nurses. Makes all the difference!

Finally Jax in my arms.

Once the epidural kicked in, I just waited for things to progress. After 8 hours of labour we needed to have an emergency C-section. For starters, dilation wasn’t progressing and then actually began to reverse. I also had a very high maternal fever and the baby had pooped inside. So at this point, the doctor said we need to get this baby out now or it’s dangerous for mom and baby.

It all went so fast and before I knew it Jax was born! It was a bit scary for me because, again, I didn’t know what to expect. He came out looking blue which is apparently very normal but we were a bit worried. They needed to work on him a bit with his breathing and monitored him closely. When I finally got wheeled over in the bed to see him he turned his little head as soon as he heard my voice. My husband and I couldn’t believe it.

And just like that, I was a mom.

Leaving the hospital with Jax.

Hudson: 2 years old

When I found out I was pregnant with Hudson, I immediately knew that I was NOT up for a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean). There was no way I was going to spend 8 hours in labour only to find out that I needed another emergency C-section. Having it planned was an odd feeling but I did enjoy knowing when he was coming and likely no surprises. The other great part was… no contractions! How could I turn that down? Other than my miscarriage, I had never experienced such horrific pain!

Welcome to the world, Hudson.

About a week before I was scheduled to deliver, I started having extreme high blood pressure and was in and out of the hospital that whole week on bed rest. I really wished at that point that they had done the C-section early but no such luck. That said, it may have been any doctor on call and I wanted to wait for mine. I felt like I knew what to expect with the second C-section, but it was a little bit longer since it wasn’t a rushed emergency. Certainly not a pleasant experience overall but nor is pushing (I bet).

We women are tough cookies, aren’t we?

Time to go home, Hudson

Recovery wasn’t exactly a walk in the park either, especially the second time around, when I also had a toddler in tow. Luckily both times my husband had two weeks off and I had lots of family to help me.

There you have it, blessed with two beautiful, healthy boys, Jax and Hudson, 4 and 2 years old. I can’t imagine my life without them!

Two best buds settling in at home.