Tag Archives: male factor infertility

TWW Survival Guide


I can only speak from my experience and what worked for us during the dreaded two week wait. Regardless of how you tackle it, I’m sure we can all agree, though, that it is an uphill battle. It starts off with the euphoria of knowing your embaby(s) are getting comfy cozy and gradually seems to go slower once you digest your last piece of pineapple core. The first week, thus, is bearable, but the second is intolerable. It’s in the second week that you start to symptom spot, that every ache, thought, motion is either a sign that this is your happy ending or you’re greatest fear: a BFN. The second week goes at a snail’s pace and typically involves an influx of pregnancy announcements and pregnancy test commercials that really test all the hormones raging inside of you.

My recommendation is first and foremost do what works for you and your significant other. Remain in that constant state of infertility: cautiously optimistic. Use these as a guideline, rather than an end all be all, because while I was one of the lucky ones I’m not sure how many TWW’s I would’ve been able to tolerate.


Sounds as impossible as surviving the TWW, I know. However Google is like a woman in the TWW’s crack. It is so addicting and so easy to get caught up doing, but gets you nowhere. If you’ve made it to the TWW, then you’ve done all your research. You know what to anticipate. Searching for “specific symptoms 4dp5dt” will give you no concrete answer. All it will do is make your mind play all sorts of crazy tricks on you.

Go ahead, look up cute maternity dress websites and plan your entire baby shower through Pinterest. But please, my dear friend, do yourself a favor and avoid at all costs using Google to “predict” your outcome.

🔸 N O  T E S T I N G before B E T A

Again, a personal choice, but one I strongly recommend. My husband and I made a vow to one another that we would wait until we received our call on Beta Day. It wasn’t easy but I made sure that there weren’t any leftover tests lingering around the house and stuck it out.

From my perspective, testing before Beta can lead to two devastating outcomes. First, with a fresh transfer, your HCG from trigger can still be recognized on a pregnancy test if you test too early. This could give you a false sense of hope that you’re pregnant when it could’ve been the residual hormone in your system.

Second, you could test early and get that BFP that you’ve dreamed of. It could quite possibly be one of the greatest moments of your life all to come crumbling down on Beta day when your number comes back lower than the magic number. In this instance, you typically have to keep going for more bloodwork to see if the number changes. So basically the TWW becomes even longer and more devastating.

In my opinion, testing before Beta is a complete mind fuck. Just like googling, it’s a dominos effect. If you say you’re only going to test at day 8 and then the line is so faint, you’re anxious to test again at day 9, 10 and so on.

🔸 F I L L  Y O U R   S O C I A L

You may have to swap the Pinot for Pellegrino, but make plans. Girls night outs, date nights, or even coffee outings to help give your mind a break are all welcome. They’re great for keeping you on track, maintaining your positivity and sustaining your sanity.

It may help to talk about what you’re going through or you may opt, especially when out with your significant other, to forgo discussing your infertility altogether. Either way it’s a time to feel like yourself, which is easy to lose when on this journey.

🔸 P U R G E or P R O J E C T

In less than 9 months you could potentially be nesting. Why not get a head start?! It’s true what they say-Clean house, clear mind.

It’s important mentally to rid yourself of some of this excess.  Doing so physically can be helpful too.  Reorganize those cabinets you’ve been meaning to for the last 7 months.  Or maybe you can start and actually complete that DIY project you’ve been meaning to tackle.  Either way, they’re both a wonderful strategy for making the time pass while being productive.

🔸 P R A Y

Cliche I know, but I’ve noticed the overwhelming amount of faithful ladies amongst us.  Regardless of how you pray or Who you pray to, prayer or meditation of some sort can be a source  of peace.  If not for yourself, do it for your little embryos that need you in a place of calmness.  It’s also a way to connect with yourself and your embaby(s).  In my experience, the majority of our TTC tribe use prayer as a way to cope with the pain and suffering of infertility.

🔸R E W A R D   Y O U R S E L F

At the point of the TWW, you have done everything possible to make this work. Maybe you’ve done acupuncture, changed your diet, or tried fertility herbs. Maybe you’ve eaten the pineapple core for 5 days or worn socks since transfer day, even if it’s 90 degrees out. Whatever it is you have done, you’ve done it to the best of your ability. Reward yourself for that-a handbag, a daytrip, a good book, a piece of jewelry (obvs my top pic 😝💎).

No matter the outcome this time around, remind yourself that you’ve done everything in your power to make this work.  Know this, honor this, applaud this.  You are a warrior and not everyone can say that.  More importantly, not every child can say that about his or her momma-but yours child-to-be can.

HOPE Award Best Blog Nomination


I had intended on publishing another post this week, but that’ll have to wait (It’s about the TWW so it only feels appropriate to be prolonged 😝) because On Prayers and Needles has been nominated by RESOLVE as Blog of the Year! Pinch me 🦀! I cannot even begin to believe that I am one of five blogs chosen out of 200 submissions.  What I am even more humbled by is the outpouring of support, shares, and votes to help support my cause. While I’m trying to thank and extend my appreciation to everyone, I know that’s nearly impossible so instead I decided I’d write a post to express my insurmountable gratitude.

Less than a year ago, I set out to launch a blog in hopes that in the near future I’d be able to form a local support group for women in CT struggling with infertility (which is in the works 🙌🏼🙏🏼). There were numerous drafts and a myriad of reasons I came up with as to why it wasn’t the right time. Would anyone read it? How do you even start a blog? // Thanks Google ☺️ // How would I be able to keep up with it while balancing the other facets of my life, especially my little wild one? Why hadn’t someone else done this? Would people pity me? Was sharing our story worth the embarrassment my husband might feel? If I were too raw, would I offend someone I know and love? Would the good outweigh the bad?

Doesn’t it always?! Infertility for sure is proof of that for us. Aside from the encouragement of my husband, there was “that one” glaring, blue-eyed reason why I couldn’t not get our story out there. Afterall, I promised myself, my husband, God, and my not-yet-conceived child that if all this worked, I would Pay-It-Forward as best I could.

To this day, I think there are thank you’s left unsaid and words left unspoken. This blog is my attempt to encapsulate all the gratefulness in my heart for those that were a part of our journey or are now a part of our journey on the other side of infertility. So this is my way of thanking every single doctor, nurse, receptionist, acupuncturist, patient and competent insurance company representative who brought us to where we are today, as a family of three. And beyond to thank my committed family, my circles of friends, those who know us personally and those who don’t, my IG fertility community, and everyone who takes time out of their busy lives to read, even if it’s just a skim or intermittent check-in. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

It was the resounding voice in my head saying “Even if you help just one person it will be worthwhile,” that finally convinced me to hit “Publish” for the first time. That was my goal, to at least be the support for one single individual who was where I had been. This nomination is affirmation that I met my goal and that feels so so good.

This nomination means that not only have I helped one person, but maybe even a handful. It’s proof that just sharing your story can be enough for someone who needs it in that moment. I’ve offered support to people I’ve known personally and others I’ve never met. Unintentionally, I have found that opening up about our struggles has provided me the opportunity to hear about other people’s journeys; sometimes it has allowed these men and women to see the beauty in their own battle that they were too ashamed to acknowldege.

More widespread, I hope that it means that the dialogue is happening, albeit mostly within this small circle of our social media following in the little state of CT. Yet, maybe just maybe, this blog , I hope, has inspired someone to open up about being infertile or given someone the courage to pursue IVF.  Maybe it has given a fertile person a little knowledge about assisted reproduction.  I hope that it’s a reminder that miracles do happen and just because a couple doesn’t have a child, it doesn’t mean they don’t long for one.  I hope it’s that little birdie in your ear, that refrains you from saying “Just relax” to a couple TTC and “Do you want more?”  to that mom fumbling to find ‘nacks at the bottom of her purse.  Moreover, I hope that it’s proof that if you want to change the life of just one person, it can be so much more.

All of the above would not be possible without each and every one of you.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you for voting, liking, and sharing.  Thank you for reading and reassuring me that some of what I’m saying makes sense.  Thank you for taking the time to share and spread my mission.

Helping one person might not change the world, but it could change the world for one person.                               -Anonymous

Infertility and this nomination have changed the world for me 🌍.


Lefty or Righty


Pic via seltzergoods.com

With infertility sometimes you don’t know what direction you’re going in and/or you’re being pulled in a million different directions. You don’t know which way to turn, left or right.

Lately, I’ve been connecting with so many women on social media who are courageous enough to share their infertility. Sometimes reading these makes me feel guilty because so many journeys are longer and harder than ours. That’s when I had an “aha” moment about our particular story and began to look at it through a different lense.

Now stick with me, but I’m visualizing a successful pregnancy/IVF/IUI as the middle ground. To the left is the journey to get there and to the right is the point past the initial positive test result or completion of IVF or IUI.

For all of us, the IUI or IVF is relatively the same-a conglomerate of injections, bloodwork, procedures, monitoring, doctors appointments, and waiting. Some might get more side effects. Some might suffer from Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHHS). Your trigger shot or protocol may differ.  Yet, they all remotely resemble one another.

Our struggles, however, tend to vary greatly. Even if two women are suffering from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) their journeys could look drastically different. Many of us infertility warriors struggle with infertility to the “left” or before we get to the point of IUI/IVF/conceiving some way; while others find their difficulty after, either with failed cycles, chemical pregnancies, miscarriages, etc.

In our case, obviously, the bulk of our infertility fight took place to the left.  Us “lefties” might have to endure months, even years, of struggle to get to the point where IUI and IVF are even a possibility.  For example, my husband needed to remain on medication for almost two years before IVF was in the cards and, even then [right up to his TESE procedure and my egg retrieval] we didn’t know if we’d make it to the point of having viable sperm for fertilization.  Our extreme highs and extreme lows came before the initial BFP.  The waiting and longing, tears and angst occurred prior to our IVF cycle.   However the culmination of our struggle was the point in which our little Mikie “stuck” and , thanks be to God, stayed.  The IVF and entire pregnancy were smooth sailing for us and as some might say, we were finally on the other side of infertility.

“Righties” have a different experience.  They might get diagnosed with infertility and move forward with an IUI or IVF cycle within a couple of months.  It all might seem like a blink of the eye, and before they know it they are Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise [PUPO].  That is, until the otherwise comes.  Maybe the cycle failed.  Maybe their beta confirms a positive pregnancy, but there’s no heartbeat at the 6 or 8-week ultrasound.  Maybe this keeps happening time after time after time.  Just like “lefties”, it’s not the injections and procedures that are the most painful for “righties”. It’s the roller coaster of emotions that’s associated with the ecstasy of hearing “You’re pregnant,” only to hear “I’m sorry for your loss.”

As a “lefty”, I cannot fathom the heartache that failed cycles and miscarriages must incur.  It makes me feel so fortunate, and almost embarrassed in some respect, to ‘wallow’ in my struggle.

What I’m trying to get to is the realization that infertility is not a battle.  Whatever your story is, first time success or multiple failed attempts, months or years, “lefty” or “righty” is really irregardless.  Infertility is a struggle and the struggle is real.

While all of our circumstances and experiences differ, “lefties” and “righties” are still one in the same.  We all cringe at the thought of hearing another pregnancy announcement.  We all “trick” ourselves into believing we’re pregnant, even when it’s nearly impossible.  We all yearn to rest a newborn on our chest and hear a little voice coo “Mama” for the first time.  We all could write a book on trying to conceive and could pass a phlebotomist test with flying colors.  We all cry and we all pick ourselves back up, with a little help along the way.  We all have the same common goal: to carry, love, and raise a child of our own.

When 3 Become 1 and 1 Makes 3

Sounds like some mathematics problem, eh? Math is not my thang by any means, but when it came to fertility, probability mattered. By the point of transfer, I think we were both in so much shock that we actually made it that far, that the thought of three embryos didn’t even phase us. To boot, Dr. Lavy and his staff had gotten us that far that we weren’t going to doubt his recommendations then…or ever.

Recently, I have seen a lot of posts regarding transferring one or two embryos and I have received some outreach on the matter as well. The truth is it all comes down to numberscircumstancenumbers~ well I guess both.  In the end your circumstance relates to your numbers, right?  If you have 11 frosties (frozen embryo babies)  then chances are your doctor is going to suggest transferring one.  If you’re on your third round of IVF, with only a handful of embryos left to spare, they’ll probably recommend using two.  If you’re us, everyone’s so dumbfounded how you even have embryos they say screw it, transfer them all.  Just kidding…sort of.  I mean our circumstances and our numbers were grim.  At the day of transfer we had 3 embryos quality enough to use.  Basically there was nothing left and it was a miracle in and of itself that we had gotten the two handfuls or so of sperm to even attempt IVF with ICSI at all.  Moreso, we were open, maybe even hopeful, to the idea of having twins.

While I had envisioned transferring 2 embryos on a day 5 transfer, that was not the case.  See, I couldn’t help myself.  I was still planning it all out.  Getting the call that we would be doing a day 3 transfer threw me off more than the idea of transferring three embryos.  Strange, right?  But as the doctor sat in front of us, scribbling as he usually did, he flat out said, “You won’t be having triplets.”  He knew our circumstances.  His recommendation was transferring three to get two or even just that “one”-it was the best probability.

That “one”.  If only you could see him morning, noon, and night like I do.  He is something special.  My husband has recently been joking that he thinks the doctor added a little something to the embryo because being this cute and perfect couldn’t possibly be from just us.  He amazes me each day as he combines words and “talks” about things we did the days before.  He’s loving and affectionate, wild and sassy all- in-one.  As his second birthday approaches, he’s a combination of that little infant that relied on me for everything and this autonomy-aspiring, mini spitfire who says “No, mommy” when I try to help him from tipping over the cereal bowl.  He’s our “one” that was chosen just for us to protect, teach, raise, and adore.  He’s the “one” who made us a family.

So as we dabble with the notion of turning 3 into 4, I get a lot of questions about if we try for another, will we have to do IVF again.  Yes, we most certainly will and more likely than not my husband will have to have the TESE surgery again as well.  We are not that infertile couple that had to do IVF the first time and then, as fate should have it, wound up pregnant naturally the second time.  I sometimes envision it, but then am reminded of the circumstance.  What’s the probability of getting this lucky twice?!

The Waiting Place


Last week, I was reading Dr. Seuss’s “Oh The Places You’ll Go” for the umpteenth time when it came to me. As I read the words, “…headed, I fear, towards a most useless place. The Waiting Place…” I couldn’t help but think of all the waiting involved in infertility. For me, the chronic waiting, was one of, if not the hardest part of our battle with infertility.

Waiting for a doctor’s appointment. Waiting for bloodwork results. Waiting for AF to come and waiting for AF to stop coming. Waiting for positive OPK’s and then waiting for Big Fat Positives (BFP’s). Waiting for answers. Waiting for insurance approvals and waiting for meds to arrive. Waiting to start your first injection and waiting for your first monitoring appointment. Waiting for meds to work. Waiting for good news, bad news, any news. Waiting to trigger and waiting for retrieval day. Waiting for an embie update. Waiting for transfer day and implantation. Waiting for Beta Day after the most dreadful wait…dun dun dun…the two week wait (TWW).

It’s hard to do anything or think of anything else when you’re in the waiting place.  It’s like being in limbo, unsure of your fate.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again~ if it were guaranteed that after all the waiting, you’d receive your greatest gift, then it wouldn’t be so bad.  However, unfortunately, that’s not how it often works.  Sometimes there’s more waiting.

Waiting for the go-ahead to start another cycle.  Waiting to save more money.  Waiting to hear a heartbeat that may or may not come.  Waiting to make it to the safe zone or waiting to get your rainbow baby.

It can be a most useless place for sure.  I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t get sucked into the uselessness of The Waiting Place.  Unfortunately, when you have nothing left to do but wait, your mind doesn’t stop.  You replay scenario after scenario~the good, the bad, the ugly.  You read, Google, cry, Google and have a hard time thinking of anything else when you’re in The Waiting Place.  All that can wear you down and cause you to fall in a slump…and “un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”

It wasn’t until our TWW when I finally realized that this could be my final Waiting Place and that it didn’t always need to be a useless place.  My husband and I made a pact to avoid googling and not take a single pregnancy test before Beta.  It wasn’t an easy feat by any means, but I’d recommend it to any of you in or approaching your TWW.  It wasn’t until then that I realized the waiting period could actually be used in a productive way too.

Afterall, it is also in the waiting place that you’re getting one step closer.  It’s a time to reflect and a time to breathe again.  It can be a time to try new things and cross some items off your bucket list.  It can be a time to reconnect and refocus on what matters most. It’s a time that will eventually shape you into the parent you’ll become because during that waiting you’ll learn a lot.  You’ll learn about patience and perseverance which will make you a better mother.  You’ll learn about yourself and your partner and most of all, life.  Because life is not always easy and “bang-ups and hang-ups will happen to you.”

So try as much as you can to make The Waiting Place as useful as possible.  When you’re finding that difficult, as you often will, look here for support and always remember:

“Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying, You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing.”

Once you survive The Waiting Place that is infertility…

“Kid, you’ll move mountains.”

How to Hurt an Infertile Couple in 10 Ways

imageRemember that awesome Kate Hudson chick flick, How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days?! This is your guide to not turning off an infertile couple by avoiding doing/saying at least these ten things. Now most of my readers know me, so as you’re reading this I know what you’re thinking.  Oh My God! Did I say that to her? Is she referring to me? No, no, no. In fact, I’ve probably said or done some of these things on the list myself. It is just that part of discussing infertility is promoting awareness, so people know how to avoid what can be hurtful and what to say to offer support.

1. “Just relax…it’ll happen when you stop trying.”

This may have been the case for 1 in 235,578,428 couples, but for us there’s zero sperm so I can’t relax. If you’re offering, I’ll take the bottle of wine, but you can keep the advice.

Really advice is not something that the infertile couple is looking for unless it’s coming from a doctor or another couple who struggled with infertility. Instead offering support by saying something like “I don’t know much about infertility, but I’m here if you ever want to talk about it” (over wine of course) would be the most comforting.

2. “My husband just looks at me and I get pregnant.”

That’s great for you Mrs. Fertile Myrtle and Mr. Super Sperm, but comments like that make us feel less female and male. It makes us feel inadequate and disappointed in ourselves.

I know it’s life that some things come easier for others, but be sensitive to those who might be having a tougher go at it. Saying something along the lines of “That wasn’t our experience. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to have to wait to get pregnant when you want it so badly” would be nice to hear.

3. “Have you gone to the doctor?”

Jeez…no, I have a masters and sixth year degree, but I didn’t think of that. Seriously, countless people asked me that and while I’m sure it was just par for the course, there’s a better way. You could gently ask, “Where are you in your infertility journey, if you don’t mind me asking?” Chances are most couples won’t mind and if they’re saying they’re infertile, chances are even greater that they’ve been to the doctor’s.

4. “Why don’t you do that turkey baster thing or Petri dish thing?”

I’m exaggerating now. Most people don’t use those terms, but the truth is most people have a vague sense of what IUI and IVF are. They assume that’s the cure-all. For us, IVF wasn’t even an option for over a year and a half, as is the case for many couples. Even then, IUI and IVF cycles may not work the first time, so the couple may have attempted interventions already without success.

Really the best thing to support an infertile couple would be reading up on IUI and IVF to get a brief sense of what they are. All it takes is a quick Google search. That way when your friend or family member would like to chat about their upcoming cycle you could understand better what they’re going through.

5.  “Why don’t you just adopt?”

Adoption is one of the greatest and most selfless things someone can do for a child.  While it is also an amazing option, especially for an infertile couple, it may not be the avenue they’re pursuing (at least at this point in time).

Adoption also comes with lots of emotional and financial turmoil and is not a simple process.  Just like with IVF, to assume adoption nullifies infertility is ignorant.  People who think this is the “cure” for infertility aren’t acknowledging all the facets.

Its easy to say “Why don’t you…?” when you’re not in that position.  So ask yourself what you would do if you were infertile.  To what end would you go to?  Would you exhaust all options before adopting?  Would you spend your life’s savings on fertility treatments? More likely than not, you’re probably saying I don’t know.

6.  “Who’s problem is it?”

This is a really personal question, but I’m sure if you talk to an infertile couple, they’ve heard it more than once.  Usually people ask because they might have known another woman or man with a similar experience.  However, this is really up to the couple themselves to divulge if they so choose.  Furthermore, whether it is the female or male with the infertility issue, it really doesn’t matter.  In the end, both of them are in pain and struggling.

I remember asking my husband what he wanted our blanket statement to be in the beginning.  As time went on, he became more open about the major issue for us being male factor.  In my opinion, it’d be best to stay clear of any question of this sort.  If the couple feels comfortable enough, they’ll tell you.

7.  Ignoring It

When you’ve been married for a certain amount of time or when you hit a certain age, babies and pregnancy tend to come up in conversations.  When you’re the infertile couple and these topics come up, you feel like crawling in a hole.  Either the conversation comes to an awkward halt when someone realizes you’re at the table or you discreetly dip out to the ladie’s room (or to do a shot of Fireball) as fast as you can say IVF.

Other times, it can feel like there’s an elephant in the room that everyone is avoiding.  Sometimes it may not even be the case, just your own over sensitivity about the situation.

There were many times, when I wished someone would’ve just acknowledged it, rather than avoiding it.  I didn’t want to have a pity party so I wouldn’t be the one to just start the discussion about our struggles.  However, if someone asked, I was full-disclosure and it felt good-really good  actually to get it out there on the table.  It would also open up the opportunity on subsequent occasions for friends and family to ask about our last appointment or what step we were at in our journey.

I’m sure it’s just as uncomfortable for ‘outsiders’ as it is for the infertile couple themselves.  But there’s a delicate way in which a couple’s infertility can be acknowledged, but, yet, not define them.  Sensitive sentiments, such as “I know you had said you started trying in June.  Is everything going okay?” would be a nice way to ease into the dialogue.  If a couple is not ready to disclose any information, you can catch the drift.

Infertility is an invisible hurt.  So when it goes left unsaid, it can sometimes worsen the wound.

8.  Dismissing the Possibility of Prengancy

For me, it got to the point where I felt as if people had even dismissed the notion of me becoming pregnant as a real possibility.   This may or may not have been the case.  Again, it may very well have been my own hypersensitivity.  It usually wasn’t even something someone said.  It was more often an uncensored look, as if I caught them off-guard by saying my name and pregnancy in the same sentence.

These types of instances usually occurred with people who were obviously very familiar with our infertility and therefore in our close circle.  They’d present themselves at times when I would say “Well I might be pregnant then, so…”

It’s hard enough not to give up on yourselves when you’re faced with significant issues trying-to-conceive.  Then to see others uncertain of your destiny can be even more discouraging.  Try to stay positive for the infertile couple.  Even just your sense of hope can be enough to get them in the right mindset.

9.  Complaining About Being Pregnant

I’m sorry, but it can’t be left unsaid.  I know that kankles, back pain and sleepless nights associated with pregnancy aren’t always a joyride.  And of course a right of passage of being pregnant is being able to whine enough that you “earn” yourself a foot rub or carton of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream…or both.  But as a woman sitting there yearning for nothing more than to not be able to see her own feet, complaints about the sheer miracle of being able to grow another life are painful.  They’re equivalent to being punched in the stomach…again, and again, and again.

Go on and complain to those who have been there, but be cogniscente of your “audience”.  If there’s a woman struggling to get pregnant, wait until later.  Better yet, let her presence remind you of the blessing it is to be able to conceive and carry a child.

The women who struggle and still complain about pregnancy leave me baffled.

10.  “We had issues with our first-it took us like four months to get pregnant.”

Comparing your typical trying-to-conceive timeline with someone who actually is diagnosed with infertility is inconsiderate.  First, get your facts straight.  Only about 60% of couples TTC actually get pregnant within the first three months.  It takes many six months and after a year it can be defined as infertility.

To be honest, at times I’m hesitant to discuss my struggle when there are so many couples who endure years and years of infertility and don’t even end up with the outcome I’ve been given.  There are so many women who’ve undergone cycles upon cycles, who have seen positive pregnancy tests only to see lost heartbeats.

While people try to show empathy in different ways, saying you know what an infertile couple has gone through when you conceived  within the average time frame can undermine what infertility truly entails.  It can be hurtful and downright engraging.  Every infertility journey is different from diagnosis to treatment to outcome.  Trying to compare struggles is pointless; trying to offer support by saying “I remember how stressful having my first was without any infertility issues.  I cannot fathom what you must be feeling.” would be priceless.


It Takes A Village


They say it takes a village to raise a child and while that is true, in the realm of infertility it also takes a village to get you that child. Lately, I have been receiving more and more local outreach, which I am so extremely pleased by. Afterall, providing local support was why I created this blog in the first place. So I thought I’d share our “village” with you since word of mouth is the best advertisement.

1.  Women’s Health Associates, LLC New Haven & North Branford, CT 👉🏻 http://www.wha-newhaven.com/home.php (FYI: website is under construction, but you can at least find their contact information)

In prior posts, I’ve discussed how phenomenal this midwife group is.  They’re just that good that I can’t help but reiterate it time and time again.  My OBGYN group consists of four fabulous midwives, one of whom, Debbie Cibelli, actually delivered me almost 32 years ago!  Given that she basically watched me grow up, she was very familiar with my case history and therefore was proactive in determining the cause of my irregular menstural cycles.  Not only did I appreciate that and all the time saved, but she was also quick to refer us to a fertility specialist.

Some of you may be thinking midwife group~sounds a little earth crunchy and must mean no drugs.  While they do specialize in natural deliveries, I loved their openness to whatever option was most comfortable for each individual patient.  I ended up going completely drug-free but went in with a flexible mindset (AKA whatever I need to get this baby out of me!!!).  They’re ability to naturally make the pain bearable was what helped me through.   They also have great success rates in VBAC’s (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) if that’s something you’re interested in.

Throughout my trying-to-conceive (TTC) journey, pregnancy, birth, post-partum and everywhere in between, these ladies were amazing; not just the midwives, too.  The administrative assistants and nurses go above and beyond as well.  While TTC and during my pregnancy, I had the pleasure of being seen by all four midwives and have nothing but positive things to say.

Of course, Laura Sundstrum, holds a special place in my heart because she delivered my miracle baby boy.  Please, please, please take the time to read Mikie’s birth story if you haven’t yet. 💞  http://onprayersandneedles.org/2016/03/the-birth-story-of-miracle-mikie/

Just like love stories, every birth story is beautiful, but yours is my favorite, Mikie! Plus, you always hear the horror stories so it’s nice to hear a positive one once in awhile!

If that doesn’t convince you, then this will…Not too long ago I was talking to a labor and delivery nurse from Yale.  I was saying how my husband and I were in awe of the labor/delivery and maternity floor nurses and staff after our experience.  She asked who my OBGYN is and when I said Women’s Health Associates, she immediately said, “When the time comes for me to have a baby, I am definitely going to them.”  If that’s not saying they’re the best at what they do, than I don’t know what is!

2.  Yale Urology Center New Haven, CT 👉🏻 http://medicine.yale.edu/urology/

If you take nothing else away from this blog, know that a urologist specializing in male factor infertility IS your Fertility God if the issue is with your husband/boyfriend/fiancé.  Which also leads me to something I’d like to emphasize:  infertility is not always a female “problem”.  In fact, male factor infertility makes up approximately 30% of all infertility cases.

I digress and get back to our Fertility God, Dr. Stanton Honig 👉🏻   http://medicine.yale.edu/urology/doctors/stanton_honig.profile Check him out!  Literally his accreditation and accolades are never- ending.  I remember, when we first received our diagnosis from my OBGYN, no matter what I googled along the lines of top doctor for azoospermia in CT, Dr. Honig kept popping up.

What I personally liked best about Dr. Honig was that he was always positive about the outcome, but realistic about how we would get there.  He set out a timeline and stuck to it almost meticulously.  He was direct, but sensitive to the situation, professional, but humorous in a way that made everything seem less awkward.  The moment I realized how vested he is in his profession, was after my husband’s TESE surgery, maybe 5 minutes into the car ride, he called with the unbelievable news that he had found some viable sperm.  You could tell by his tone of voice that he was genuinely ecstatic for us.

If you’re dealing with male factor infertility and are in CT, you MUST heed my advice and schedule an appointment.  Note, he is in high demand and appointments book pretty far out.

3.  New England Fertility Stamford, Danbury, and Hamden, CT 👉🏻👉🏻👉🏻 http://www.nefertility.com/  

My previous post titled Name or Number http://onprayersandneedles.org/2016/04/name-or-number/ goes into detail about the professionalism and compassion of Dr. Gad Lavy and his staff.   Aside from being able to build a personal relationship with the nurses, I loved how Dr. Lavy explained our infertility scenario.  He really broke it down, usually with some type of drawing or diagram.  I’m a visual learner so I found that to be uber helpful.

In addition, they offer a patient portal  so that your results are literally at your fingertips day or night.   Even though, Dr. Lavy, nurses Jen and Susan, and the rest of the staff see countless couples struggling with infertility, they were not at all de-sensitized to the situation (which I find can often be the case).  Being able to rely on them really relieved some of the stress.  We would always leave our appointments feeling more upbeat than when we had come in,

If you are concerned that you may have infertility issues, New England Fertility often holds free fertility testing and seminars.  Check them out on Facebook to get more information, if this is something you’re interested in.

I believe, wholeheartedly, that had we chosen another fertility group we may have not gotten the results we did the first time around or at all.  Another pro for all of my Male Infertility Warriors, Dr. Lavy and Dr. Honig are buddies so they make a great team.

4.  Craig Kelly & Jackie Kos of Kos Chiropractic North Branford, CT No website available, but you can like and follow them on Facebook  to get more information 👉🏻 https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kos-Chiropractic/183543721708117?fref=ts

I’m actually embarrassed to say that I never got the chance to go and thank Jackie and Craig for all they did to make my IVF cycle a success…the first time!  So hopefully, at least in part, this can be a way to say thank you!

My work wife at the time, who also happens to be a close friend, was literally my therapist throughout my infertility struggle.  She was always a big fan of acupuncture.  Literally, if you told her you needed to quit eating donuts, she’d say, “Why don’t you try acupuncture?”  So after the millionth time of her saying, “I really think you should try acupuncture…I have a great guy,”  I made an appointment.

Both Craig and Jackie were experienced in infertility treatments.  They were very informed and the practice was welcoming.  The waiting room was always jam packed, too, which is always a good sign.  You can read my post, My IVF Tips http://onprayersandneedles.org/2016/04/my-ivf-tips/  Let’s just say, next time we go for an IVF cycle, I will definitely be there.  In fact, maybe I should start now to have some relaxing me-time,

The next two are recommendations for during pregnancy.  I know you’re not there yet and may very well feel like you’ll never get there.  But you will and when you do, I can’t recommend them enough.  They were part of our “village” in a way, too ,so I couldn’t not include them on the list.

5.  Raven’s Wing Yoga Branford, CT  👉🏻👉🏻👉🏻                                                                     http://ravenswingyoga.com/ 

Again, a little on the earth-crunchy side (which of course there is nothing wrong with) but may not appeal to the masses.  Let me tell you though, infertility or not, every pregnant woman should at least give prenatal yoga a shot.

In the beginning, I, like most I’d presume, felt clumsy and foolish trying to hit some of those poses with an ever-growing belly.  However, when it came to strategies for relieving the aches and pains associated with pregnancy, these stretches and techniques were spot-on; more like miracle cures.

I looked forward to my weekly hour of relaxation on Wednesday nights.  After leaving class, I always felt lighter and re-energized.  The real testament to what I learned in prenatal yoga was my natural childbirth.  The knowledgable and experienced instructors taught me how to breathe into the pain and I used these breathing techniques during labor.  They actually worked wonders. Prenatal yoga at Raven’s Wing is a pregnancy must-do as far as I am concerned.

6.  Childbirth and Parenting Education of Greater New Haven 👉🏻 East Haven, CT http://www.childbirtheducationgnh.org/

Again, this does not only pertain to the couple who has overcome infertility.  This is a call to ALL EXPECTANT COUPLES reading and please share.  Even if you’re not in the New Haven area, you really should look into attending.  Honestly, if you’re literally within a 50 mile radius and you don’t take advantage of this course, it would be your first parenting mistake-I swear!

First off, Louise Ward, RNC, MSN, who is part of the Labor and Birth Team at Yale-New Haven Hospital is as hilarious as she is skilled.  My husband says that if she was his teacher in school, he’d be a molecular engineer; I’ve “diagnosed” him with ADD, so the fact that he was able to sit and attend to the two and a half hour sessions once weekly for five-weeks speaks volumes.  We learned more in this course than I could’ve ever imagined, even if I had read 100 books.  Classes were entertaining, informative, and interactive.

Louise was one of my greatest tools during my actual labor and delivery.  She wasn’t there physically, but literally, I could hear her voice playing over in my head.  She provided me with so much valuable instruction that I knew what to expect as I entered active labor, then transitioned.  Her guidance was also another key factor in my ability to endure childbirth sans medication.

Aside from learning all there is that you need to know about childbirth, we took away a lot of other valuable information about the benefits of baby-wearing, dealing with “baby blues”, and infant care.  We opted for the five-week childbirth classes (which also included a tour at Yale-New Haven Hospital) and the Infant CPR class.  They also offer a variety of other classes, such as breastfeeding  and car seat safety.

If you are in the local CT area and have been following, please share with others, especially on social media.  Also, this is just my “village”.  If you had your own “village” that you’d refer someone to, please comment below~I’d love to hear your recommendations!  Most importantly, please if you or someone you know is struggling with infertility, please contact me so I can become part of your “village” to making a baby.

You can contact me on Facebook & Instagram @OnPrayersandNeedles or via e-mail @ onprayersandneedles@gmail.com

DISCLAIMER:  This is in no way, shape, or form a sponsored post and all opinions are 100% mine!


imageI am thrilled to be part of Miss.Conceptioncoach’s Bloggers Unite Conference this year in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week and humbled to have been included with such an esteemed group of women. This year’s theme is #startasking and I cannot think of a better theme for me, personally, since this was basically the springboard for my blog, On Prayers & Needles.

During my journey, I couldn’t help but #startasking how, when 1 in every 8 couples struggles with infertility, are there not more local support groups available? I would go to my OBGYN, our fertility doctor, my husband’s urologist, the chiropractor & acupuncturists’ offices and there would be corkboards overflowing with every type of group you could name. Yet, the only one I needed in that moment wasn’t there.

Instead, I would spend countless hours glued to my cell phone or laptop on BabyCentre, What To Expect Before Your Expecting, etc., etc. group boards waiting for any type of a response to the questions I had. Did anyone have success with Tese for Azoospermia? How many months did you take Clomid before becoming pregnant? Did you take birth control pills as part of your IVF protocol? Are these follicle numbers and measurements decent? I’d wait, to hear from someone I knew only by screen name and not face, someone who lived in another country, to answer. I’d wait there praying that I’d get some glimpse of hope that they had been where I was and everything worked out. And while I appreciated any and all of the support I could get across the Internet and anywhere else, I yearned for a “safe place” ~a place where I could sit with women who were or had been in my shoes and we could discuss all of these things face-to-face over coffee at a local Starbucks. It was then that I promised myself, if I were ever to receive my miracle, I would basically Pay-It-Forward by starting a local support group. That is when this blog was basically conceived (no pun intended).

Fast-forward to just about two-months ago when I finally revved up the courage to launch On Prayers and Needles and share my story…

Slowly, I began to hear the stories of others whom I may or may not have known had difficulty getting pregnant and it felt very liberating for all of us to exchange our experiences. Then I even started to receive intermittent questions from readers asking for more information about meds, doctors, recommendations for a successful IFV cycle. However, none of these women (rightfully so) were interested in participating in a local support group, which led me to #startasking a bigger question: How, when 1 in every 8 couples is infertile, is there still such a stigma and sense of shame in not being able to conceive naturally?

For anyone who has been following (thank you) and those of you just tuning in (thank you, also), I’m sure it is pretty evident that I am an open-book. During our journey there was never a time when I didn’t feel comfortable saying that we were struggling with infertility. You might think that is because it was more of my husband’s “problem”, but I also had my own “issues”. It’s just I came at it from a different perspective, which was basically if it’s broke, fix it. If your hip gives out, you replace it. If you have an infection, you take an antibiotic. If you can’t produce sperm, you find a way to. Clearly, there is no shame in our game and of course, I’m making light of all of these situations. They’re not all that easily resolved. But my mentality was and is, just like anything else in life, if it isn’t working, you fix it (failing marriage, dead-end job). And regardless of what anyone’s picture-perfect life appears to be on Instagram, believe me, there’s something they need or have had to “fix”.

While I completely respect anyone’s choice to keep their infertility private, I also find it important to #startasking why? Are you any less deserving of a baby than someone who could conceive without interventions? In a day in age when science is revolutionary, why wouldn’t you use the advancements provided to start or complete your family? Even when religion is a factor, doesn’t your God want you to be a mom? Don’t you think that someday, if you choose, to explain to your child “how they were made” that they’ll realize how much you loved and wanted him or her even before they were born? If someone in your life was struggling with something, wouldn’t you want them to open up so you could be there for them?

One of the most touching responses I’ve received since initiating the blog, was an e-mail from someone who hadn’t shared her story with anyone outside of her immediate circle. She felt inspired, after reading and relating to mine, to share her own with me. I read it, tears streaming down my face, hoping that she could see the beauty in her story that I did. While that wasn’t the initial intent of the blog, in that moment, I realized that it had served its purpose in a different way.

The more we open up and #startasking ourselves and others these tough questions, the more people will become aware of infertility and all it entails. Once more and more people #startasking, the dialogue can begin so that we (both those who have and have not encountered infertility) can better support one another. I shared my story to get the conversation going, so now I must #startasking, will you?

Make or Break Your Bank & Love Tank


Photo Credit 📷 @http://mmaler.com

Infertility is both financially and emotionally draining. Even the strongest of relationships are likely to endure a rough patch or two during the struggle to conceive. It can make or break you. As they say, though, if you make it, you’ll come out stronger in the end.

Money is a stressor in any marriage or relationship.  Combine that with endless hours on the phone with the insurance company and countless repetitions of your saga to a representative and you’re bound to be exhausted.  Even with the best coverage, you’ll probably incur some out-of-pocket expense.  Some of the procedures and/or medicines may be denied.  This happened to us in the beginning of our journey.  The insurance company wouldn’t cover my husband’s medications.  Because they were for fertility, we ended up basically paying a second mortgage for quite a few months until we could change policies.  Worse yet, are those couples who don’t have fertility coverage at all or have exceeded their maximum coverage.

It’s imperative to do your research and find out what your fertility coverage is as soon as you’re referred to a fertility specialist.  I’d also recommend going here 👉🏻 http://www.resolve.org/family-building-options/insurance_coverage/state-coverage.html#Connecticut to see if and what your state mandates.  Connecticut, for example, has a state mandate that allows lifetime coverage for 4 cycles of ovulation induction, 3 Interuterine Insemination (IUI) procedures, and 2 In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) cycles.  Of course, there are caveats such as age and length of time you’ve been enrolled.  For example, at the time, I carried insurance for my husband and I, which was through the Board of Education.  I assumed this meant that it was publicly funded and therefore followed the state mandate.  However, the city’s insurance was in fact private and only one of the three plans offered included the state mandate for fertility coverage.  Naturally, open enrollment wasn’t for another few months, but I guess as luck would have it, time was on my side.  I was able to change coverage wellllllll before our IVF cycle.  I was concerned that while I still had the same insurance company, since I changed plans in less than a year, the state mandate might be null and void.  The HR representative didn’t know the answer for sure, but said she’d look into it.  She then (sitting at a desk with her children’s annual baseball pictures lined up behind her) tilted her head and said, “But really, in the grand scheme, what’s another year?”  Note to all:  NEVER say what’s another year, another month, another week, another day, another second to a woman yearning to bear a child, especially when you have your own brood to go home to and snuggle.  Shame on her.

I digress, but honestly all of those doctor’s office phone calls, battles with the insurance company, dead-end encounters with HR can wear you down.  It’s like having a part-time job on top of all of your real responsibilities.  As if that’s not enough, the emotional stress sets in.  It’s easy to fall into that rut of sadness and to distance yourself from those closest to you, even your significant other.  The burdens of infertility can put a strain on your love life.  There can be a disconnect caused by the “He doesn’t get it” and lack of drive because “What’s the point?~We’re not getting a baby from it”.

When you get to that point, it’s important to step back and re-evaluate the situation.  Yes, you’re overwhelmed and feel like life is being sucked out of you, but you are also going through this for a reason.  The both of you love each other, so much so, that you want to create something amazingly beautiful together.  You must remember, that while his pain may be different, he is still hurting in his own way.  And it’s like pulling a rubber band-the more you pull away and push him away, the sooner it’s bound to break.  Think back to the way you were before you tried to conceive and make that your final destination.

In the end, only the two of you can understand what’s going on in your lives.  Only the two of you, can support one another’s needs.  Only the two of you can make that most special gift, that is uniquely yours…and in the end, the two of you will be stronger as individuals, but more importantly as a couple.

Name or Number


I’ve touched on it but I don’t think I’ve done due diligence in singing the praises of our fertility group. Despite Connecticut being small in size, there are quite a few options for infertility clinics; New England Fertility just happened to be the perfect fit for us.

Coming to that decision was rather easy. After my OB gave me the initial news of our diagnosis, she offered two options that she’d refer us to. One of which is our local hospital clinic and the other being Dr. Gad Lavy of New England Fertility.

While both were statistically as effective, it came down to whether we wanted to be a name or number. Private practice offers that luxury of a more intimate and personalized experience, much like shopping local~and we all know we are big proponents of shopping small in this house 😜💎. I just know for us, especially given my husband’s anxiety at that point, opting for private was a no-brainer. Then after meeting Dr. Lavy and his staff at our initial consultation it was only further substantiated.

Obviously, I can only speak to our experience for opting to go private and have nothing to compare it to. We never felt like cattle being schlepped along this path, but rather always felt like everyone’s main concern at any given time was Mike and Morgan. Whether it was scheduling our next appointment, getting bloodwork taken, or undergoing a procedure, we were always met with a welcoming smile. Dr. Lavy and the two nurses we worked with primarily, Jen and Susan, were professional, but also down-to-earth. We never felt uneasy about asking questions or for any clarification. Afterall, it felt like we were going in a million different directions, so naturally we’d think of things afterwards. I always felt free to pick up the phone to ask the nurses anything. They seemed vested in their jobs, but they also truly seemed vested in our best interest. Getting us our baby was a united goal.

Specifically, when it came to the whole IVF process, Dr. Lavy and the NEF staff were beyond compare.  I know it’s easy to say in hindsight because our first attempt was successful, but truthfully I was never scared of the process itself because I knew I was in good hands.  The nurses were phenomenal during monitoring appointments to explain the follicles and what they were looking for.  I always felt reassured leaving those appointments and loved their emphasis on “quality over quantity” {especially when you hear of so many cycles being cancelled due to Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)}.  They also offered a patient portal in which the results were inputed promptly.  I found it helpful to have that information right at my fingertips rather than having to log it myself for my own records.

At the point of retrieval and transfer, Dr. Lavy was amazing.  He has a great cool-as-a-cucumber persona that puts you at ease, as a patient, and his bedside manner is top-notch. Therefore when Dr. Lavy recommended a day 3 transfer of three embryos, we barely flinched because we had full faith in his judgement.  The embryo transfer was such a special and intimate moment and I felt like Dr. Lavy recognized and respected that experience.  The environment, the aura, everything about that day just seemed magical to me.

There came a point when we were seeing Dr. Lavy and his staff more frequently than our closest family and friends.  There also came a point when we became more than a name to one another and more like family.  Time goes by so fast and we’re all so caught up in the craziness of our day-to-day lives, but just like with real family, there’s an unspoken bond and gratitude that we have for our fertility family.  To everyone at NEF, we are forever indebted to you all and to anyone in need of a fertility specialist, here is their name & number 😏!