A life under the Pink Umbrella!

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Things I have learned on my infertility journey:

  1. Some doctor appointments don’t get easier and you may think you will remember those questions that have been circling your head-but still write them down. Trust me on this one-you will get nervous or overwhelmed or better yet-confused with medical verbiage! Just write them down. While you’re at it-Bring your cycle charts to each appointment-it’s easy to forget dates.
  2. Seek the doctor’s advice- its ok to not like it or even agree with them but you then again you can see another doctor or 6 in my case! And after a while I even found myself speaking in TTC (Trying To Conceive) acronyms-it’s like a secret language you’ll learn to keep up with blogs and online info!
  3. Ovulation Predictor Kits are cheaper on Amazon.
  4. Prenatal Vitamins really do make your hair and nails grow long (this was my favorite benefit from all this so far!)
  5. Apps like Ovia and Glow are great for tracking cycles and symptoms. Taking your basal temperature every morning is a pain in the ass, but awesome when it aligns with all of your other charts.
  6. Pregnancy symptoms and cycle symptoms have extremely close resemblances and are completely not fair and will cause your mind to play games! You’ve been warned!
  7. Keep an open line of communication with your significant other-two are more powerful than one! You will need the support and they will also!
  8. That ironic feeling of when you want something-a new car-a new purse-oh I dunno, a pregnancy- suddenly it’s in your radar and its seems like everyone has it and effortlessly. You will see “Baby on board” signs in every car window, all of the pregnant women at Target, and suddenly every conversation will start with “do you have kids?” All of these will happen-I don’t have advice on how to handle it- because it will continue-I know that much!
  9. There will be bad days-and sometimes it will feel like they out weigh the good ones-read blogs, listen to pod casts, get out and exercise, vent to friends and family that lets you talk-no one understands this journey except the ones on it-period! Remember You. Are. Not. Alone! P.s. Chocolate never hurts too!
  10. Suddenly things like acupuncture, fertility massage, yoga, handstands after sex, looking up fertility saints, cough syrup (it’s a real thing) Feng shui, crystal magic, giving up caffeine, and vegan organic diets don’t sound so crazy-if it’ll work. Yes, these are just a few of real things that women try-and no in case you are wondering I have not tried them all-even I have limits!

I never thought I’d be 1 in 8 to deal with infertility but here I am. I feel like I am finally able to share my experiences of dealing with the condition for a few reasons including the openness of the blogging community- (a true Silent Sisterhood), stopping the shame or taboo talk and educating those who either don’t know or too scared or ashamed to ask.

So, to quote Maria in the Sound of Music: “Let’s start at the very beginning, A very good place to start!”

My husband and I were married on a beach at sunset that easily became the best day of my life! We spent the next few years in wedded bliss- traveling, working lucrative jobs, renovating our home in Florida, and spending time with family. We had always talked about children and what traits the kids would get-my eyes, his skin, my height, his math smarts, a name so perfect that today it still makes me smile, and we’d have one maybe two and always joked how twins would be perfect!

Once we thought the timing was right to start a family, weeks turned into months and we were having a good time, (ya know what I mean)! I began referencing apps to monitor my cycles, taking my basal temperature and using ovulation predictor kits in hopes something would be the magic trick. After about 8 months, my husband and I decided to go back to my OBGYN and discuss what was going on or lack thereof! I didn’t know then that appointment would be my first of many more on my journey into the unknown because as it turned out why we would need a more thorough approach to understanding why we were not pregnant yet.

We went from appointment to appointment trying to make sense of it all-all the while thinking-Why us? A literal money trail following us-(Side note-I really wish I could recoup all the money that I spent on birth control over the years!) from blood work, invasive tests, more blood work, boxes of Kleenex, medications, more blood work, lots of chocolate, and more medications, and then the multiple procedures that- all failed.  So much of it that I have pushed out of my head as not to relive it or think about the woulda, coulda and should haves. However, almost a year ago at our last appointment with a fertility specialist I remember sitting across the desk from him reviewing the latest tests and procedures and watching him shake his head in disbelief and repeating “but you are so healthy”. I don’t remember much after that appointment-but it was a turning point-I could finally point this part of my life into a different direction.

For me, there is really no need to discuss my actual infertility diagnosis-it doesn’t make a difference what the cause or reason is that infertility has impacted my life. The truth is that through my journey I have learned that there are literally over 10 causes-some cured with treatment such as the popular IVF and some- sadly not.

I read a great article recently that said, “Closure is a word for people who have never really suffered.” (https://thoughtcatalog.com/tim-hoch/2014/06/10-ways-youre-making-your-life-harder-than-it-has-to-be/) This struck a chord with me because almost a year later and it still hurts. I feel like infertility has robbed me of a lot-dreams I’ve had since a little girl playing with a doll, watching my husband be the amazing dad I always knew he would be, or finally using the perfect name we picked, but it has done a lot for me too. I am so thankful for my husband-he truly is my rock and has been by my side day in and day out-wiping away tears, being my side at every appointment, and offering his unconditional love.  Another area is the silent sisterhood of women I have met who are there for each other and know all your feelings because they are scared and sad too. I am most thankful for my faith because it has helped me get this far!

I’m not sure where the future will take me on this journey-I’m well aware that miracles happen and I will continue to pray for mine! In the meantime I hope I can be a voice for those who are on their journey as well!


First, I’d like to say welcome to this week’s blog edition for NIAW (National Infertility Awareness Week)! You may have stumbled upon this as someone who is experiencing infertility yourself, know someone who is experiencing it, or want to learn more about this condition, whichever it is I hope this helps in some form or another.

I felt moved to talk about my infertility journey this year because the theme for NIAW 2018 is “Flip the Script” or to Change the conversation about infertility. I am choosing to share my story in hopes of washing away the stigma and silence that many women experience, including myself.

Before I started my journey over four years ago-I was naïve about fertility in general and its importance in starting a family and the problems that some women experience. Infertility can be an isolating condition to a lot of women and couples and unfortunately there is a lot of stigma still associated with it. A large part about the stigma with infertility is education. A lot of people don’t understand what it is, who is affected by it, how to react to someone’s diagnosis, and what the person or couple affected by it is experiencing.

Just how common is infertility? I wish I could say that it was a 1 in a million, condition-but the odds are closer to 1 in 8 couples! 1 in 8 couples (or 12% of married women) have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy. (2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth, CDC) (https://resolve.org/infertility-101/what-is-infertility/fast-facts/)

What is infertility? Infertility is defined as by The International Committee for Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ICMART), is a disease characterized by the failure to establish a clinical pregnancy after 12 months of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse or due to an impairment of a person’s capacity to reproduce either as an individual or with his/her  partner.(https://resolve.org/infertility-101/what-is-infertility/)

Who gets it? Infertility is a medical problem. Approximately 30% of infertility is due to a female factor and 30% is due to a male factor. In the balance of the cases, infertility results from problems in both partners or the cause of the infertility cannot be explained. (https://resolve.org/infertility-101/infertility-faq/)

Things that I have learned about infertility:

  1. If you are experiencing infertility-You are not alone. This has become my mantra on hard days!
  2. Education really is key. Educating yourself, family members and friends helps everyone!
  3. I am thankful for websites like resolve.org for education and giving people a place to go for information and support.
  4. It’s 2018-its about time we say the F word and wipe away stigma! Take the pledge today! I did!  https://saythefword.com 
  5. Its called a journey for a reason!

Pepper, my Chihuahua came into my life 13 years ago at 7 weeks of age. She has been with me through so much of my life-it’s hard to think of a time when she wasn’t. Pepper was by my side for while I finished my Bachelor’s degree helping me study, all my crazy work schedules, a breakup, meeting my husband, she even played a huge role of my engagement (she wore the ring first!), getting married, moving three times that included relocating my Florida dog to snowy winters and lots of car rides including visiting over 10 states!

While there are countless great memories with her; June 9th, 2013 was a day that would make me appreciate them more than ever! My husband and I woke up on that Sunday morning much like other weekend mornings with Pepper snuggled in between us sleeping peacefully. That morning I picked her up and noticed something was different about my loving and playful Chihuahua-she seemed lethargic and almost limp in my arms. I sat up and tried to get her to stand up and she would immediately fall over and was not able to support her weight. I sprang out of bed with her and tried again for her to stand-this time on the floor and again she would fall over. I also noticed that she was having seizures-her whole body would shake a few times hard and then stop.  Through tears I phoned my mom for advice and she told me to immediately take her to an emergency veterinary office.

Upon arrival to the veterinary medical hospital-my husband and I told the veterinarian Pepper’s symptoms and went over her diet, veterinary care, food intake and habits. An assistant began timing Pepper’s seizures and took her back for a full body examination including blood work and a full body x-ray. Meanwhile I was frantic because I saw dollar signs-but was so scared for my dog and didn’t want her in pain! My husband was so supportive and understanding and said that we would not spare any expense in taking care of Pepper and for the veterinary office to continue with what they felt was in best interest of her medical needs. I am still thankful for my husband’s calmness in Pepper’s storm! We met with the veterinary doctor who said that there were no blockages seen in the x-ray and were continuing additional blood tests and they would keep her in the hospital and monitor her there with an IV for fluids and care. It was hard to go home without her but knew that she was still alive because of their quick thinking and great care.

The next day the emergency veterinary hospital called to talk to us about blood test results for Addison’s Disease. Addison’s Disease also known as primary adrenal insufficiency and hypoadrenocorticism, is a genetic condition not only in dogs but also surprisingly can occur in humans as well. This long-term condition that is not able to be cured but only treated and happens when the adrenal glands do not produce enough hormones for the body to live. When there is a deficiency of hormones symptoms such as overall weakness, muscle weakness, low blood pressure, dehydration, weak pulse, collapse, lack of appetite, low temperature, shaking, blood in feces, diarrhea, vomiting and depression.  Addison’s Disease can be a very tricky diagnosis also because the symptoms could also be symptoms of many other conditions and a blood test along with a knowledgeable veterinary office is imperative for making sure the diagnosis is correct!

Pepper was given an initial hormone replacement and the veterinary office calculated dosage for her age, weight and blood test results that would include an injection in the form of Percorten once every 28 days for the remainder of her life. Additionally, she would require Prednisone medicine daily by mouth to main the hormone medicine injection. My husband and I were so thankful that she survived, and we began to learn about her condition and her care moving forward.

The most important thing I learned about Addison’s Disease care was that it required good owner compliance to ensure medications are given on a timely schedule as without hormone replacement can cause the dog to lapse into another crisis that is no fault other than the owner.

While there are additional costs for Pepper’s care, including a monthly office visit for her hormone replacement injection and daily medication-it was well worth it to know that she had a manageable condition and lots of love in the future! With proper veterinary treatment and home care Pepper has thrived with Addison’s Disease and has completely returned to my playful sweet dog!

Pepper at 10 weeks old
Pepper wearing her cone of shame on the car ride home from the veterinary hospital with her Addison's Disease diagnosis
Miss Pepper feeling better but still sporting her bandage from blood tests
Miss Pepper enjoying one of her favorite activities-loves going for walks in the park and spending time in the sunshine!
Hard to believe this is the face of Addison's DIsease! So proud of how strong she is and able to overcome!
Prepared for any weather that Ohio throws at us!
Look for the Angels in your life-they are everywhere! I am thankful for Miss Pepper!

What I have learned about caring for an Addison’s dog-

-Get to know and trust your veterinary office  (preferably one that is known to treat Addison’s Disease) as you will see them monthly for injections.

-Give veterinary phone numbers, medication schedules and dosages to animal caregivers for care and in case of emergency.

-Monitor the dog’s day to day stress to a minimum as major upsets can affect the dog’s  immune system.

-Immune system can be more fragile due to diagnosis-keep diet, vaccinations and care consistent to help avoid additional illness.

-Request blood tests every 6 months for up to one year after diagnosis to ensure dosage is correct for hormone replacement. Additionally request blood tests prior to any surgery or tooth cleaning to ensure the dog will be healthy prior to undergoing a procedure that could alter hormone levels in their body.

-Reach out on Social Media and online- I found a great group on Facebook called C.A.R.E (Canine Addison’s Resource and Education) Website is https://canineaddisons.org/dogs/ I honestly can’t say enough about this amazing group and site! C.A.R.E. is helpful in so many ways for questions about care, medicine dosage and comfort knowing that you are not alone in caring for your dog!