I wish I could tell you how much I love this couple….and just how much they love this baby growing inside.
I am so fortunate to be able to share this special journey with Casey and Tracey as they await the arrival of baby Duncan.  He will be our very first Starfish baby, and watching the joy and love on the faces of his mom and dad is just an incredible feeling.
We had such a fun time during their maternity session, and Tracey could not have been a more stunning Mom-to-be!

See her Amazing Photos Below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The-Braxtoredid

 

So excited to announce our 2016 Braxton grant recipients…Nicole and Ryan Olinger!!  They will receive a $5000 grant towards their upcoming IVF procedure!!  Lots of prayers and baby dust to you!!

 

 

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What an amazing event we had!  Thank you SO much to everyone who came out, and a special thanks to the Wildhorse Saloon and the amazing songwriters Rob Hatch, Brian White, James Otto, Justin Wilson, and Lance Miller!

Check out some of the Event Photos below!

 

Also – congratulations to Paul and Abbey Watkins – our 2016 Bexleigh grant recipients!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We would LOVE for others to share their story with us! When I first started my IVF journey, I’d never met nor even known of anyone going through a similar situation, I was “flying blind”. Even though I had an amazing support system within my family and and friends, I felt none of them 100% understood what I was going though, not really deep down to the core. I have met some AMAZING women through my struggle with infertility and learned so much along the way.  Nothing is more inspiring or comforting than knowing there are others out there who can understand and even empathize with infertility on ANY level. Please, if you feel comfortable enough, share your story too! Even if you don’t feel comfortable submitting any pictures, or even giving your name, that’s fine. Finding common ground and knowing others out there understand can give comfort more than you know…

Click to Share Your Story!

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“It’s hard to wait around for something you know might NEVER happen;
but it’s even harder to give up when you know it’s EVERYTHING you want”

Author Unknown

 

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Amanda 1

 

My husband and I had been married for about 6 months when we decided to start trying for a baby.  I was 34 at the time.  I got off the pill and thought it would just magically happen.  Well, 3 months later it hadn’t.  At my yearly check-up, I asked my nurse practitioner if she would draw baseline labs due to my age and the fact that I was diagnosed with PCOS in my early 20’s.  She told me there was no reason to draw them until we had been trying for a year and sent me on my way.  This did not sit well with me.

I had a good friend whose mom is a women’s health NP.  I made an appointment to see her and she agreed to do the labs.  A few days later, I got the call that changed everything.  My FSH was >14 and I was in premature ovarian failure.  I was shocked and devastated.  She suggested we start investigating immediately, with the next step being to analyze my husband’s sperm.  A few days later we got more bad news.  His sperm morphology was abnormal and there was limited motility.  At this point, my new OB recommended we be very aggressive.  They scheduled us for an IUI with that menstrual cycle.  The plan was to let us do 2-3 cycles of IUI and then send us to a fertility center.  We tried one IUI with no meds and two with Clomid but were unsuccessful.

At our initial consultation at the fertility center, our RE agreed that an aggressive approach was definitely the way to go.  She suggested trying IUI a few more times with different medications.  We did a cycle with high dose Clomid…holy crap, that stuff is the devil!!  When that did not work, she gave us the option to do one more IUI with injectible hormones and were told we really needed to consider IVF if it failed. At one of my ultrasounds, they found that I had several mature follicles.  We were told that the chances of conceiving multiples were very high.  They debated even letting us do the IUI or just having us do timed intercourse because of the risk.  I was convinced this would work, and then completely devastated when we were unsuccessful again.

We started our first IVF cycle in August 2012.  I seriously thought that you pay your money, give yourself shots, and 9 month later you have a baby.   I was so excited.  I shared the “good news” with everyone.  Call it denial, but it seriously did not cross my mind that it would not work.  September 10th, I got the call that I was not pregnant.  There are no words to describe the sadness and disappointment I felt.

I went into a major depression.  I literally cried every day for weeks.  I hated everyone who had children.  I am still not sure how I survived that time with my marriage and friendships intact.  To make matters worse, I felt completely alone.  At the time, I did not personally know anyone who had been through IVF.  My friends and family tried to support me but always managed to say the worst things possible.  Those of you who have been through this journey know exactly what I am talking about.  Thankfully a few months later I met someone who gave me courage and hope, Kara.  We didn’t know each other well at all but she took the time to talk with me.  That simple act made me promise myself that I would be completely open about my struggle in the future do anything I could to support anyone else in this position.

In February 2013, we started our second IVF cycle.  I was absolutely terrified this time!  My egg quality had been very bad with my first cycle so we had been told our chances of conceiving were less.  My husband and I began taking more vitamins and supplements than should be humanly possibly to consume in a day!  They also adjusted my medications in the hopes of improving my egg quality.  We got the call on March 29th that I had prayed so hard for…I was pregnant!!  I was told to be cautiously optimistic, but I knew in my heart that everything would be okay.  Our perfect little miracle, Lucas was born on November 17, 2013.

Fast forward to today, we just completed our third and possibly final round of IVF in the hopes of adding to our little family. At our consultation for this cycle, they repeated my labs and were surprised how much worse they were after such a short period of time.  This cycle definitely had its share of disappointments. We had to stop in the middle of the cycle due to a cyst on one ovary but were able to resume a month later.  Then my ovaries essentially stopped responding and we were given the option to terminate the cycle prior to egg retrieval.  We decide to forge ahead. On day 3, we had one near perfect (8B) embryo and one embryo that had developed a day later and was much farther behind transferred.

Sadly, we got the news yesterday that our cycle was not successful.  I am beyond devastated.  I honestly felt this would work.  Like so many others, we have had absolutely no insurance coverage for any of our fertility treatments.  We now have to make the decision to give up the hopes of having a sibling for our amazing little boy or save up the money to try one more time.  We have been gently reminded numerous times that the chances of achieving a pregnancy are low due to my egg quality and response to treatment.  If we had insurance coverage, the decision would be a no-brainer.  We are so fortunate that we have been able to afford treatments to this point and it breaks my heart to think of the people who can’t.  I have no idea what our decision will be…I am simply trying to wrap my ahead around everything.  At the end of the day, I have a beautiful, loving, funny little boy and for that I am incredibly blessed!!

 

Amanda 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why National Infertility Awareness Week should matter to moms. ‪#‎NIAW‬

via Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine

National Infertility Awareness Week — NIAW, for short — is here. While it might seem like this health observance doesn’t affect many people, you’d be surprised. Infertility affects as many as one in eight couples of reproductive age — and me and my husband are one of them. We’re one of the lucky couples that made it through infertility to parenthood. Even though you might have had a child or even multiple children of your own with no issues whatsoever, here’s why National Infertility Awareness Week should matter to moms.

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The Insider’s Guide To IVF: A Resource Page For National Infertility Awareness Week

via Forbes.com | by David Sable

 

National Infertility Awareness Week begins today. I’ve listed the IVF articles and analyses that I have put together from my work analyzing the industry both for my day job as a life sciences fund manager and as a member of the board of directors of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association.

I will be updating this page with more analysis of the IVF pregnancy rate data (the CDC report page is here).

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You Are Not Alone: Flying Together with Broken Wings

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via Waiting for Baby Bird | Elisha

#‎1in8‬

#youarenotalone

There she is.  Do you see her?  She sits quietly at the table in the back with her purse perfectly placed in her lap and her arms neatly resting on top.  She smiles on the outside, but on the inside?  On the inside her heart is breaking and her soul is crushing as she looks around at the other women in the room.  Their arms are not empty, but full.  Their laps are not filled with purses, but rather giggly toddlers.  And as they talk about the joys of motherhood, her womb begins to ache.   And tears begin to form.

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13000301_1709447275993624_8650762721512452868_nDon’t forget to register your Kroger card!!

Here’s the deal….10 people registered their Kroger Plus Card for the Starfish Infertility Foundation, and they are sending us a 1st quarter check for $150!! Now…what if 100 people registered??? Doesn’t cost you a dime, you don’t have to make a donation, they simply donate a portion of what you spend! Please Please Please take 2 minutes to register and then share! Thank you!!…..
Simply visit https://www.kroger.com/communityrewards – sign in, enroll now, enter organization number 89888 for SIF, enroll – DONE!! Kroger will then donate a portion to SIF! How easy is THAT???
PLEASE take 2 minutes to register, and “share” on your page! Every dollar helps!!

Doesn’t cost you a dime, you don’t have to make a donation, they simply donate a portion of what you spend! Please Please Please take 2 minutes to register and then share! Thank you!!…..

Simply visit https://www.kroger.com/communityrewards and;

  • Sign In

  • Enroll Now

  • Enter organization number {89888 for SIF}, Then Click Enroll – and DONE!!

Kroger will then donate a portion to SIF! How easy is THAT???
PLEASE take 2 minutes to register, and “share” on your page! Every dollar helps to make the dream of a family possible!

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We made an announcement a few weeks ago regarding the awarding of our 1st Bexleigh Grant from Starfish Infertility Foundation!

And Now…. it’s time for you to meet the recipients!

 

Meet Tracey and Casey Hightower!

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{Photo by Ace Photography}

We fell in love with them after reading their application regarding their struggles and heartbreak from their infertility journey.  That they have been so open with the road they are traveling melts my heart because I know how easy it can be to post the “great news” but how hard it can be to post the setbacks and negative results. Instead of being able to grieve peacefully you have to explain to a couple thousand people how disappointed you are, while fielding questions of why it didn’t work, what happens next, etc.

Tracey and Casey just recently went through an IVF cycle that was unfortunately unsuccessful.  The good news is that they have some frozen embryos, and will be doing another transfer in early 2016.  Starfish Infertility Foundation is so excited to announce that we will be able to cover the entire $3850 they needed for the procedure!  With the service Casey has given to our country in his 4 deployments, and the sacrifices Tracey had to make standing by his side, I cannot put into words how grateful I am to be able to give something back to them.

 

  • More about this Couple in Tracy’s own Word

 

 Never in a million years would I have believed that I would struggle with becoming a mother. I was born to be a mother. Casey was born to be a father…but here we are, filling out this profile and asking for help from you.

Let me tell you our story.

In 2013 I started working for an OB/GYN in Hendersonville. I LOVED it!! I was constantly around pregnant women, beautiful babies and I was learning so much. It was the perfect job…at first. Roughly a year after being at this job Casey and I decided it was time to start our own family and I was more than excited! I faithfully tracked cycles and peed on countless pregnancy tests, but it just wasn’t happening. I cried everyday on the drive home from work because what was once a fun job, was now a constant reminder that I wasn’t getting pregnant. Soon after I left the OB/GYNs office, my heart couldn’t stand all the pregnancies around me any longer. After 8 months of trying to conceive, my doctor agreed (after a small amount of begging on my part) to start me on fertility medications. I remember him saying that if the medication did not help in getting me pregnant, then he would have to send me to a specialist. Well, needless to say the Clomid didn’t help and I still could not shake the feeling that something else was wrong. I was desperate and finally requested to have an HSG performed, although I had no reason to think that anything should be found on the scan. Something was found though. My tubes were completely blocked in multiple places and were beyond repair, so out they went. I will never forget the doctor telling me that I would never be able to get pregnant naturally and that IVF is our only option. I am now 2 months post op and we are about to dive deep into IVF.

To say that we are overwhelmed is an understatement. In addition to the fertility struggles, we have recently lost our first born, our gorgeous English Mastiff, Kitty Fan-Oodle Hightower. She was our baby and without her we are completely lost. It probably sounds ridiculous, but we are “crazy dog people”, at least with her we were. I had been getting more and more nervous about the injections, egg retrieval and transfer, but with my sweet Kitty…my nerves were easily managed. She kept me calm and she couldn’t wait to sniff baby butts and be the other little momma to my babes. After a lot of discussion, Casey and I decided to post pone IVF for a month to get our hearts back on track, after all, our worlds were rocked when God took that precious fur baby from us.

I recently posted something on my FaceBook account that read “Infertility: a medical condition which diminishes self-esteem, your social life, as well as checking and savings accounts. Causes sudden urges to pee on sticks, cry, scream and fear pregnancy announcements: treated by a medical specialist who you pay to knock you up (this does not always work).” This quote PERFECTLY describes how we feel.

 

** For more information on how to donate to our grants or apply for help, click below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Our First Starfish Baby Turns One! » Starfish Infertility Foundation - […]     In March of 2015 when we announced the launch of Starfish Infertility Foundation (Starfish Infertility Foundation – A Dream Finally Realized ) I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing or how I was going to do it! So unfamiliar in the territory of non profits that I actually announced the launch before I had received my 501c3. Why? Because why WOULDN’T I receive it?!?!? Haha! That IRS machine can be a fickle little beast! Long story short, we received our official letter in October of 2015 and gave our 1st grant short thereafter to Casey and Tracey Hightower. (Meet Tracey and Casey Hightower) […]ReplyCancel

 

What a great article!! I love that it gives you “what to say instead” on each of them! Numbers 8, 10, and 14 were especially rough for me.

http://www.refinery29.com/infertility-etiquette

 

Baby-making is supposed to be a beautiful time in a woman’s life, full of emotional closeness, gleeful anticipation, and a lot of hot, unprotected boning. But if, like me, your ovaries haven’t gotten the message, it quickly becomes about as magical as a trip to the DMV — and at least at the DMV, they let you keep your pants on.

Chances are, you know a woman like me: someone who’s always wanted children and knows she’d make a great mom, but whose baby-making regimen now consists of sterile fertility clinic visits and self-administered injections instead of knockin’ boots to Barry White. Not sure how to handle your friend who’s so pumped full of hormones that the mere sight of a stroller can send her into a five-hour crying jag? Who can blame you? That’s why I created this guide.

Ahead, eight things you really shouldn’t ever say to a woman who’s trying to get pregnant — and yes, I’ll explain why. But don’t cancel brunch plans just yet: I’ve also provided safe, comforting alternatives that won’t send us careening face-first into our French toast. Ready to navigate one of life’s most delicate social situations? Let’s go…

CLICK HERE TO SEE SLIDESHOW

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365 Days Later…

Even though our final embryo transfer was not successful, we held our 1st (hugely successful) Glow Golf Tournament, gave out our first Bexleigh Grant, and learned last week that Tracey and Casey Hightower (Our Recipients) are Expecting!! I’d say that’s a pretty good year since our announcement!! We couldn’t have done it without everyone’s support!! Thank you for the love!!

A Dream Finally Realized…

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A great site where egg donors talk about why they donate!  ‪#‎weareeggdonors‬

{via Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine}

 

RAQUEL: Why do you donate your eggs?

TRACY: Donating my eggs is something I’ve wanted to do since I was 17. To give the gift of life is probably the most selfless act a person could do. It was never about the money and will never be about the money. It’s always about the experience, the people you meet, the families you’re helping. My egg donations have always been 100% anonymous, but the families still manage to find a place in your heart.  June 2013 marked my third donation. Each time I have given around 20-30 eggs.

R: Do people ask you about the money pretty often?

TRACY:  Yes, unfortunately. Usually people respond with something like “Oh wow, thats crazy. Don’t you get a ton of money for egg donations though? I know egg donors definitely make more than sperm donors do – sperm donors get like 50 bucks a pop.”

I try to politely remind them that although it’s a good sum of money, the egg donation process is much more invasive and time consuming. It’s not just “depositing my goods into a cup.”

The process requires self-administered hormone injections, numerous doctors appointments, and unplanned mood swings. That means crying one minute and wanting to kick someone the next. It means gaining weight and giving up at least two weeks of your life. But most of all, egg donation is about helping a family by giving them a physical part of yourself.

 

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

 

We are not just an expense- we are humans, we are women, we are egg donors.

 

 

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nia-vardalos-tease-002-today-160316_d3e981ea194c6db477a6321d009fdb92.today-inline-largePhoto “Today”  

{via Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine}

 

Nia Vardalos is opening up about her difficult battle with infertility, revealing that rounds of IVF, attempts at surrogacy and miscarriages left her feeling “embarrassed.”

“It was a sad process for me to become a mom, and a long process,” Vardalos, 53, told People of her nine-year struggle. “I felt so embarrassed that I couldn’t have a biological child.”

 

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

 

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