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I am a mom.

I waited so many years to be able to hold this beautiful title.

I knew deep down that one day we would find our way to a family. Whether it be through IVF, adoption, etc. I knew I would become a parent. Our dreams finally became reality on June 24th, 2018.

It took six (looooong) years.It took time.

It took patience.It was confusing.

It was frustrating.

It was worth it.

Would I do it all over again just to be where I am right now?

Yes.

A million times, yes.


The last time I wrote about our fertility journey
we had just completed our first round of IVF. It wasn't successful. We were crushed and heartbroken. I read through that post often. I can transport my mind exactly back to that point in time.

Writing everything down was healing for me. I hoped that it would help someone in my same situation feel like they were not alone. As I shared my journey, it opened the doors to other women looking for support. I was blessed to be part of the strongest community of women who were all struggling with infertility.

After experiencing the loss we felt after our failed transfer, I was so worried about opening my heart to another round of IVF. I had developed a bond to that little embryo, and I felt like I needed to grieve in my own way. We determined that we would complete another egg retrieval prior to scheduling another embryo transfer.

We only had one viable embryo left after our last retrieval, and I felt that there would be so much pressure on that little guy to stick. I didn't want to get my hopes all tied into this next round working, having it be unsuccessful, and then feel like I was starting over.

We completed another egg retrieval in the Spring.

Scheduled our second embryo transfer for the middle of Summer.

Waited and prayed that our two little boys would implant.

Received the heart-wrenching news that our transfer was not successful.

Cried.

Prayed.

Picked ourselves back up and determined we were not giving up.

This is the part where I need to say a million thank yous to our fertility doctor, Dr. Conway. When she received the news that our second transfer wasn't successful, she contacted us directly and scheduled us to come in and chat with her the next day.

We went in completely crushed and left that appointment with so much hope. She had informed us that there was either 'an issue with the seed (embryo) or the soil (uterus)'. Since our embryos had been genetically screened, we knew we were implanting healthy babes. She had done some research and suggested we try an Endometrial Receptivity Assay. This would determine the 'prime time' to implant our embryos for optimal success.

We started another round of IVF medication.

Completed two endometrial biopsies. (Ouch.)

Received the greatest news.

Based on the biopsy, my body was considered 'early receptive'—which meant that my body was responding to the medications earlier than the scheduled transfer time. These results were answers to prayers. Our doctor was able to review the results and let us know a time range and date that our embryo would need to be transferred in order for my body to be ready to accept it.

This would be our fourth round of IVF.

Our forth embryo.

Everything felt so right.

We were extremely quiet about our next transfer, only telling our parents. It felt like our little secret, and we were so hopeful it would be a success, we wanted to surprise our family with positive news.

On November 5th, 2018 I received the greatest news.

The happiest phone call.

Our transfer was a success.

A little baby girl defied all the odds.

We were going to be parents.

Looking back at the road to our family, there were four key life lessons that made our journey with IVF and infertility as positive as possible.

1. Protect your heart

There are going to be times where you feel like life is unfair. I remember looking through Instagram and feeling like every post was a picture of a baby, a pregnancy announcement or beautiful mama holding a sweet babe on her hip.

I was envious.

I was sad.

I was frustrated.

Did these other women even understand how hard it was for me?

Did they know that their joy caused me so much pain?

No.

And you know what?

They don't have to.

It became my responsibility to surround myself with positivity and happiness. I needed to protect my heart, my happiness, and find the joy in my life outside of our current life situation. I took a break from the online world, refocused on what was really important, and decided to savor the good in my life. This is what I needed for myself. It wasn't something that was suggested to me by anyone, it just felt right. You are in charge of your happiness. You have to do what is best for you and your tender heart.

2. Have empathetic joy

During the peak of our infertility journey, I received an invite to a baby shower. This was a common occurrence. Family and friends are going to have babies even if you can't. I knew this, but I struggled with the thought of attending.

As I sat back, I realized how this day was going to be so exciting and happy for this person. They were going to have a baby! At this point, I knew the right thing to do would be to attend and be truly happy for them….and you know what? It was wonderful.

The mama-to-be was glowing and happy. She unwrapped little shoes, baby toys, tiny outfits, and squealed at the excitement of knowing her baby would be arriving soon. As I watched her, all I could feel was pure joy for her. She was elated.

Her joy didn't mean that I couldn't be sad that I wasn't able to be in her shoes, but it made me hopeful for my own future, and brought me so much happiness watching her excitement.

3. Understand that every body is different

Infertility is not a 'one-size fits all' situation. Neither is IVF. I remember believing that once we completed one round of IVF we would have a baby. My naïve self didn't realize that it is common for IVF to take a few rounds to be successful.

I compared my body to others who had my same issues and determined in my mind that our outcome would be just like those who were in our same situation.

This.

Is.

Not.

True.…and it is okay!

Most people I had come in contact with that went through IVF had success on their first attempt. With each failed transfer, I would momentarily slip back into the darkest thoughts of comparison. I felt sadness that I had never experienced before. It was foreign to me and I didn't know how to move past these feelings.

It all clicked for me when my doctor told me that every body is different... even if other women had the same issue I did, it didn't mean our outcomes would be the same. I remember telling myself over and over that we had our own story, our own journey, and that was okay. Removing that comparison aspect from my life helped me in more ways than I will ever know.

Your body is special.

Your body is incredible.

You are perfect just the way you are.

4. Support is key

As I previously mentioned, I was able to connect with some amazing women once I opened up about our struggles. I suddenly had this group that I could talk to who understood what I was going through.

We could joke about how crazy Clomid made us feel. We could talk about how we felt about Progesterone in Oil injections. We would send pictures of our transfer calendars to see how our schedules lined up. The list goes on and on.

I remember friend after friend leaving this 'infertility club' as I watched their hopes and dreams of a family come to life. I was stagnant. I wasn't moving forward. I just kept scheduling more appointments and pinning calendars to my wall. Until, it was finally my turn to 'graduate' to motherhood.

Once we were informed we were having a baby, I felt all the joy in the world start to dwindle as an immense about of guilt sank in. My world of support and love during my infertility journey buoyed me up, and led me to my dreams becoming a reality. But, what about those women who were still struggling?

There was a lot of fear.

Fear of hurting someone who was still on their journey to their family.

Fear that those paths would diverge and that I would lose support and friendships.

Fear that sharing my joy would remind others of what they were still working for.

I felt like I was that person that couldn't share our news. I knew the other side. I knew how it felt to see that ultrasound photo posted online. I knew how it felt watching a gender reveal video. I never wanted to hurt someone's feelings. But, I wanted those around me that shared in our story to know that good things can happen. Miracles are out there, and they are coming to those waiting.

Infertility is not fair. It is heartbreaking. It is difficult.

But, there can be joy on your journey.

To the thousands and thousands of women out there who are still waiting for your miracle.

Know that you are loved.

You are supported.

You are not alone.

There is always hope.

This page of your life doesn't need to be your story. You can do this. Your dream is just around the corner.

As I've turned a page in our book, I can't help but look back and reflect on what we have been through. We did it. We are so lucky. So loved. Our little girl is incredible. She has the most special soul. She is pure joy and love. I have said it a million times, but I would do it all again just to have her here with us.

Originally posted on Elle Tilby.

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

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

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.

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A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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