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After 3 years of trying and a round of IVF, I am finally pregnant

It was as if I lived in a world of successive failure. Month after month, benchmarked by my inability to get pregnant. I would break down at every pregnancy announcement.

After 3 years of trying and a round of IVF, I am finally pregnant

"Your chances are about 5-7%," the doctor said flatly. After meeting with two infertility specialists, I found out about my slim chances of a biological pregnancy with IVF.

John, my husband, and I had been trying to conceive for nearly three years. We had baby names picked out before our honeymoon. During the first year of trying, doctors told us to "just be patient, you'll be pregnant by Christmas." Well, Christmas came and went and I wasn't pregnant.

I tracked my ovulation, basal temperature, took Pregnitude, ate royal jelly, and any other possible recommendation, but still never saw a positive pregnancy test. We bought a four-bedroom house in faith that we would eventually have children running around. Friends announced their third, fourth, and fifth pregnancies. We decided to take a trip to Europe.

It was as if I lived in a world of successive failure. Month after month, benchmarked by my inability to get pregnant. I would break down at every pregnancy announcement.

While I was happy that they were able to start a family, it always felt like a reminder of what I wasn't able to do. John would comfort me every time and listen to my irrational rants, usually cueing up a favorite movie to take my mind off of the hurt.

I switched to a new OB/GYN who recommended a rapid fertility screening, before potentially prescribing Clomid to help us conceive. My husband and I went together for the full screening. Two days later, the doctor called me with the results. My AMH level was alarmingly low.

AMH levels are detected with a blood test and represent a woman's ovarian reserve or how many eggs are available. This is rarely tested outside of fertility screenings. A normal AMH level ranges from two to seven. Mine was 0.17.

"I'm so sorry," he said repeatedly.

The doctor wanted to run additional tests on my thyroid because he believed that could explain the low AMH. I immediately went for a blood test that would identify my thyroid levels. Sure enough, I had hypothyroidism in addition to antibodies that resulted in the autoimmune disease, Hashimotos. According to his theory, my thyroid had been attacking my ovaries, resulting in the low ovarian reserve.

At this point, the doctor said that IVF was the only fertility treatment available for our situation. They said that my ovarian reserve was so low, that I was basically running against the clock, at 31 years old.

We spent the weekend absorbing the shock of our new reality.

While the doctor recommended starting treatment as soon as possible, I needed a month of hormone therapy to jumpstart the process. For the next 30 days, I was sneaking away to the bathroom at work to apply testosterone gel to my upper arms and taking estrogen and progesterone pills to help boost my hormones. Ovaries produce hormones and since I had a diminished reserve of ovaries, all of my hormone levels were extremely low.

Thankfully, my body responded appropriately to the hormone therapy and I was cleared to begin a cycle of IVF.

On my 32nd birthday, a large box of injections arrived with my name on them. We unloaded the mini-pharmacy into our bathroom and waited for the instructions we would receive at the next doctor's appointment.

I was put on the maximum amount of stimulation medications and my husband became my at-home doctor. The concept of IVF is so different from the reality of IVF. There are at least three shots a day, doctor's appointments almost daily, accompanied by an emotional roller coaster of potentially starting a family, or closing that chapter completely.

"If your body doesn't respond after a few days, we will cancel the cycle," said the IVF nurse.

So all of this preparation could literally mean nothing, but we had to try. My husband reached out to friends and family to pray for us because it truly felt like we needed a miracle.

After nine days of stimulation injections, there were eight follicles with potential eggs at a preferred size, so I was cleared for the egg retrieval surgery. And for the first time in three years, we heard positive news from the doctor, saying he was "cautiously optimistic."

They were able to retrieve seven eggs, but of those seven eggs, only two fertilized. Overnight, our chances dropped to two. It was hard not to feel devastated, however, five days later the embryologist called me to let us know that both embryos made it to a 5-day blastocyst. So our two little embryos were now frozen and ready for transfer.

It is counterintuitive to work tirelessly toward something in such an all-consuming way and then, when it comes to fruition, put it on ice. Frozen embryo transfers have a higher success rate, so we went with our doctor's recommendation, but it was strange to drive by a hospital and think about our two potential babies frozen in there.

There was another month of preparation, and then, finally, I was ready for the transfer. I elected to transfer both embryos and followed every IVF superstition. I ate pineapple core leading up to and following the transfer, wore socks 24/7 (not an easy feat in the middle of a Texas summer), drank electrolyte water, ate French fries immediately after the procedure and stayed in bed for nearly two days.

Exactly two weeks later, I went into the doctor's office to take an hCG blood test. When called later with the results, I found out. I was pregnant! I remember thinking that it was all so surreal.

We waited another two weeks to go in for a sonogram that captured the heartbeat, and then, two weeks after that—we transferred from the infertility specialist to a regular OB/GYN. I was (finally!) officially eight weeks pregnant and couldn't have been happier.


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This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4-year-old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year:

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keep an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Follow children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

This article was sponsored by Highlights. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.



Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

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Tenth & Pine: Gender-neutral and butter-soft basics for littles + bigs

In 2016, after a stage four endometriosis diagnosis and a 10 year battle with infertility, Tenth & Pine founder Kerynn got her miracle baby, Ezra Jade. As a SAHM with a Masters in Business, she wanted to create a brand that focused on premium quality, function, comfort, and simplicity.

She sought out premium, all natural fabrics and factories that shared her core values, practicing environmentally friendly manufacturing methods with fair and safe working conditions for employees. As a result, her made in the USA, gender-neutral designs check all the boxes. The sustainable, organic basics are perfect for everyday wear, family photos and any adventure in between.

Lucy Lue Organics: Sustainably and ethically-produced modern baby clothes

This family-owned and operated business was started by a mama who wanted out of corporate America after the birth of her son. Thoughtfully designed to mix-and-match, Lucy Lue's sustainably and ethically produced collection of modern organic baby clothes only uses fabrics that are "environmentally friendly from seed to seam." Their gorgeous, earthy tones and comfy, minimalist styles make the perfect addition to first wardrobes from birth through the first years.

Sontakey: Simple bracelets that speak your mind

Sontakey has been such a hit in the Motherly Shop that we knew it was time to expand the line. And since these beautiful mantra bands look so stunning stacked, more options = more fun.

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