Shine is a unique community, where we come together and support each other through our fertility journeys. Sessions are designed to be comfortable and welcoming, a place to feel secure sharing your thoughts and asking questions. Meetings provide peer support through open
When you are going through a hard time, a good friend is what you need most. It helps if the friend has experienced a similar struggle as you. That is where Fertility Friends comes in, a new mentor program by
Welcome to the Shine infertility forum! Everything here is private, protected, and personal! That is why we ask you to login and set a password! We want you to feel safe here, to feel like you can ask anything and share
Meetings to include Open Discussion Sessions and Guest Speaker Events: Guest Speakers have included: -Reproductive Endocrinologist: Dr. Christopher Sipe, Dr. Eve Feinberg, Fertility Centers of Illinois -Obstetrician/Gynecologist: Chicago Women’s Health Group -Alternative and Holistic Medicine: Dr. Kristine Tohtz, Serenity Family Wellness -Life
announcing our featured family!
Steve and Becca & their son Reid
When we got married in June 2008, we loved being our little best trading platform south africa family of two. But in the back of our minds we knew we wanted to be a family of three, then four and maybe even five!? Who knows but it will happen when its supposed to happen. For sure. Right? So we enjoyed being married and did not do anything to prevent a growing family. We tried to be relaxed, have fun and hoped for our “movie moment” of me puking in public as a sign I was expecting. But it didn’t happen. Not right away. And not after a couple of years. We tried to ‘stay positive’ and to ‘not think about it’ but with no luck we were advised by my OBGYN to seek the help of fertility doctors.
We were diagnosed with male factor infertility and the doctors were confident fertility treatments would help. And so began the next leg of our journey to parenthood. Around that time, we did become a family of three…well, we got a puppy. Our puppy became our distraction and entertainment during the difficult days of testing, treatments and disappointments. He also gave us something else to focus on and talk about. Our own little therapy dog. And our pup watched on as I gave myself that first injectable fertility shot, as I made endless phone calls to the insurance company, as we waited anxiously for the results of our first IUI (intra-uterine insemination), as we cried with each negative pregnancy test. After 5 IUI’s with no positive results, our doctor suggested we move onto IVF. My body responded to the fertility meds well so he was hopeful that this would be THE answer. During this time, my husband and I mostly leaned on each other, our dog (of course!) and a few very close friends. The stress of the fertility treatments, both physically and mentally, was indescribable and trying to go about our regular life with our jobs, and friends and family seemed impossible at times.
After a variety of treatments over the course of almost 3 years it became clear that my body was not able to carry a pregnancy to term. While we had healthy embryos fertilized through the IVF process (my eggs and my husband’s carefully selected sperm) and I was able to became pregnant via embryo transfer, I suffered from recurrent pregnancy loss. The sadness with each loss was coupled with incredible frustration-the road to become pregnant was so long and once pregnant my body was unable to sustain the pregnancy. Experiencing such loss was devastating and unbearable. Somehow, we continued on. We had a tight support network of close family and friends and we, of course, had our puppy (who was now a full grown dog) to snuggle us when we just wanted to be alone. At the time, I had a strict ‘no internet’ rule in regards to fertility information and I did not know about Shine – and I look back at this time, and wish I had known about it. I can see and understand now how beneficial a support group would have been for me.
While preparing for our 7th embryo transfer our doctor suggested we consider using a surrogate should we experience another loss. More precisely, he suggested we use a Gestational Carrier – a surrogate mother whom we would transfer our genetic embryo into and she would hopefully carry our baby to term, something I was unable to do. After that last transfer, and our fifth miscarriage, Steve and I decided it was time to move forward. Although there was no clear explanation, my body was unable to sustain a healthy pregnancy and our physician felt surrogacy was the next step and would give us the best chance of having a baby. The process of finding a surrogate was very overwhelming, emotional and exciting all at once. Based on our physician’s recommendation, we met with several surrogacy agencies in Chicagoland area. We ultimately chose CEO (the Center for Egg Options) to assist us as Intended Parents get matched with a Gestational Carrier (GC). The agency role is also to assist during the entire pregnancy and to act as a liaison between intended parents and the surrogate. We eventually were matched with V. I was beyond nervous when we were driving to the first meeting. And emotional and scared, excited and hopeful all at once. As soon V, her husband and youngest daughter walked in my fears were eliminated. We stood up to say hello and she immediately hugged me and said, “I know I can help you have your family.” I teared up and felt we were on the right path. We discussed our life, our fertility journey, our hopes. We got to know V’s family, her experiences pregnant with her daughters and as a surrogate once prior. We discussed why she decided to become a surrogate. We connected on important issues and Steve and I knew that our baby would be in a wonderful, loving home during the pregnancy. At the end of the meeting we all knew that this was going to be a good fit, that together we would grow our family.
And so began the next leg of our journey to becoming parents. I passed the baton so to speak to V, she took over and started her meds and we were on the road to transfer #8, but this time, our genetic embryo would be safely transferred to her. Letting go of that control was strange, and exciting, and overwhelming. And then all Steve and I had to do was wait. Which seems easy enough, right? But each minute seemed like an eternity!
We found out we were pregnant early June 2013, around the time of our 5 year anniversary, and it seemed unbelievable. After each doctors appointment we knew the baby was getting stronger and growing but we still didn’t really believe it or feel comfortable telling anyone. One more week. One more appointment. Just wait. It was like we were worried once everyone knew something would go wrong with the pregnancy. And so we continued to wait. Very. Patiently. It seemed so unbelievable we were having a baby we wanted to hurry up and meet them already! I also had extra time on my hands now that I was no longer going to the doctor everyday for fertility treatments. We did a lot to distract ourselves to make the time go faster. We went to movies. We walked the dog for miles. We went to brunch. Dinner. Explored the city. Went on getaways. We watched a lot of Netflix. We tried to appreciate walking out our door without a stroller or a car seat. But we just ended up talking about how we couldn’t wait to walk out our door, juggling a baby, carseat and a diaper bag. I also continued my “no google/internet” rule when it came to pregnancy facts, which merged into a strict “No Pregnancy Books” rule as well. Looking things up and reading about everything made both of us fear the worst, and spin into unneeded stress and anxiety. So we stuck to facts from our OB and updates from V. And we waited. And prayed for V and our baby.
This was also around the time I discovered Shine for the first time. I reluctantly began to work out again, trying take control of the body that had been failing me so miserably. I noticed Katie’s card one afternoon after a class and broke my internet rule to look up Shine. Shortly after, I saw her at the studio and told her we were expecting a baby via surrogate and I knew, from then on, Shine would be a place of hope and light for me during this leg of the journey and beyond.
At 20 weeks we found out we were having a healthy baby boy. Wow. Knowing the gender helped us to fantasize about our little boy and to connect and bond with him from a far. We finally let ourselves externally prepare with decorating the nursery, washing clothes, folding blankets and getting in ‘boy’ mode We started to purchase all those items we had dreamed about for so long-car seat, crib, glider, stroller…this nesting also helped the time move forward. We were having a baby! We finally felt ready to let everyone know that we were going to be parents. There was an outpouring of joy and excitement for us and numerous, numerous questions, of course, which we were all too happy to answer.
During the whole pregnancy we were involved in each step. V filled me in in on everything, answered all of my questions (which were a lot!) and I am still so appreciative. While we were expecting a baby and I was over the moon, I was still dealing with the fact that I was not the one carrying the baby. She let me experience it through her. She was open with us and and for that I am forever grateful.
Steve and I were also with V and her husband during the entire birth process. We had hospital rooms right next to each other and we were in her room the entire labor. I think about the day he was born and still don’t really believe it happened. He was born after 14 hours with the cord wrapped around his neck. Very dramatic entrance. And once he was free and Steve cut the cord, the doctor immediately put him in my arms, we all sobbed. Steve was next to hold him, normally nervous around babies, he held onto Reid like he had known him forever and in many ways we had. The nurses had to pry him away to clean him off, weigh and measure him. They also reminded me I was allowed to take photos. What? Really? Oh yes, this is my baby! And we haven’t stopped documenting each incredible moment since. After we held him, V had the chance to hold the little bundle she had been carrying all these months. Over the next two days we spent most of the time with Reid in V’s room. Her daughter met him, brushed his hair, everyone snuggled him and we all soaked in the joy that came with Reid in our lives. That first night, after all the action and snuggles, Steve went right to sleep, exhausted from the whole experience. I stayed up holding Reid, rocking him and saying “I’m your mommy, I’m your mommy, I love you so much” over and over. The nurse came in to check on us at some point in the middle of the night. She encouraged me to put him in the bassinet and to get some sleep. “But we only just met” I replied. And she understood that I needed to just hold him all night long.
For those you struggling with infertility, no matter what part of the process, there is not much else to say but hang in there. Stay hopeful and strong during your journey. I know. WAY easier said than done but it is so vital to keep hope alive, it will keep you going through all the appointments, tests, paperwork, injections and waiting. So much waiting. Shine is an amazing resource to help navigate through the medical and mental processes of infertility, whichever path you are on and however that path changes. Having a network of women to be there for you is invaluable. Use it! Now that we are that family of three I haven’t forgotten each step. I still struggle with not being able to be pregnant. It still makes me sad and frustrated that my body does not work the way I want it to. Shine has helped me continue to process and cope with my infertility after my son was born. It is a safe, welcoming space for me to read other’s stories, make me feel less alone and to help give back in small ways (like this post!). I am forever grateful to Katie and others that lifted me up and gave me light when I felt like it was lost and I hope-though this, though Shine- at least one person sees a little light as well.
And while we haven’t forgotten, Steve and I look back now and can see that each step on our journey to parenthood, no matter how painful, led us right here. Led us to Reid. To our smiling, laughing, growing boy. In middle of the night I still check on him. He is 14 months now and has slept all night for almost a year but nonetheless I check. Is he still here? Was this all just a dream? No, he’s here, sleeping away. Incredible. And I go back into my room and count down the minutes until I get to see his giggling face in the morning. We are now a family of three (well, four including our dog who is Reid’s best pal) and we are so so blessed.
This story, and so many like it, is Shine’s dream, it’s what keeps us going, it’s what pushes us harder to get infertility talked about, educate women on their fertility, and be an overall advocate for those affected by fertility challenges.
Our goal is have hundreds more of these success stories, and welcome a thousand more babies to parents who have dreamed them for what feels like a lifetime!
Shine is…. a Light on Fertility
Our mission is through support, education, and advocacy; to create a community, empower through knowledge, and be the voice for those affected by fertility challenges.
By Rebecca Gruenspan, MSW, RG Adoption Consulting
I get calls all the time from people who just want to gather information while still trying to get pregnant through infertility treatments. It’s a great idea to have a clear understanding of what your next steps are and when you will take those steps, while also being fully present and engaged at whatever stage you are currently in.
You should be fully present in whatever stage you are in at the moment.
What I’m trying to say is:
Make a plan!
But not while in the throws of fertility treatments, when you’re jacked up on hormones and an emotional wreck.
Make a plan in between cycles when you’re a bit more level headed and can think clearly…or even before you begin.
THEN, and only then, make your plan!
What do I mean?
Start by asking yourself questions like…
How many times do I want to try this before moving on to something else? (i.e. using Clomid? How many cycles before trying a different method?, etc.)
What IS that next step for you? Is it trying a different drug treatment, moving from IUI to IVF, or maybe IVF to adoption or surrogacy?
Ultimately, I think the big question becomes how many more cycles of fertility am I willing to go through before moving on to the next chapter?
Your answer may be different from someone else’s, but having made a plan that you’ve clearly thought through will help alleviate SOME of the emotional distress later.
As I mentioned before, just because you’ve made a plan, you should be fully present in whatever stage you are in at the moment. Because wherever you are needs your full energy.
When you are ready to take another step in a different direction, first allow yourself time to mourn/process/grieve the step you just completed before moving on to the next.
This part is really important.
In making your plan, make sure you are informed. Talk to your Dr. if you think there might be another fertility option for you, and if you could use a little support along the way, reach out to Katie O’Connor at Shine, of course! If you’ve been exploring surrogacy or egg donation, talk to my friend Mindy Berkson at Lotus Blossom Consulting. And if you think adoption is something you want to explore, start talking to people who have adopted to learn more and, well…reach out to me at RG Adoption Consulting!!
I will leave you with one last thought. No matter how much pain or how many ups and downs you experience, the way you become a parent in the end, won’t matter. Trust me, I know!
The way you become a parent in the end, won’t matter.
For more information about infertility:
Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.
About the author: Rebecca Gruenspan is the founder and Chief Navigator of RG Adoption Consulting. Having struggled with fertility herself, Rebecca, a single mother by choice, ultimately chose adoption as her path to build her family. RG Adoption Consulting provides comprehensive consultation and education services created to provide a deeper understanding of the domestic adoption process, and helps you build your family–usually, in less than 12 months!
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