Category Archives: Infertility

Struggling with infertility in the Hasidic community

Since quite a few of you are still following this blog (thanks so much!) I thought I’ll share my latest published piece! I can’t repost it so please click on the link to read the entire article.

As an ultra-orthodox Hasidic girl, I always knew the way my life would pan out. The ultimate goal was to establish a home, be a good wife and mother and a devout Jew. It was what the Torah commanded us and what everyone did. Growing up, we played with dolls, re-enacting what we saw at home. The game we most loved to play was “house.”

I grew up, found my soulmate at age 18, and married three months later. I fully expected to become pregnant right away. The first month, the 30th day of my cycle came and went. My husband and I naively looked at each other and thought the same thing. “I think you should buy a pregnancy test” I whispered to him that night, dreaming of babies and tiny clothes. Two weeks later, we decided to buy the test.

Holding the test, I hurried to the bathroom. While waiting the required, longest five minutes of my life, I tried to gaze anywhere but the stick. Still not looking, I went to get my husband so we could find out together.

Click here to continue reading the article!


A tribute to the heroes of the NICU-The nurses 

I remember that day as if it was yesterday. The day I was told I was carrying twins after an exhausting few years of infertility. My excitement was indescribable. Not one but two babies to love, hold and cherish? My head was spinning with the news of this life changing event. I spent the next few weeks on the Internet reading all I could about twin pregnancies and life with multiples. There were some scary stories about pregnancy complications and premature births. Although this possibility was in the back of my mind I was sure I would be one of those to give birth at 40 weeks.  It didn’t take long for the first scare to happen. On the day of my younger sisters wedding, when I was barely 11 weeks pregnant, I suddenly felt a discharge of water and blood. In my full wedding attire I rushed to the hospital. My heart was pounding, I fully expected it to be over. A while later the ultrasound revealed my two precious babies quite literally alive and kicking. I spent a week in the hospital, missing all the festivities. I was so glad my babies were okay so I didn’t really mind. The next few months passed uneventfully. I started to become confident again that I would carry them to term. I was due in April and I dismissed my doctor when he said I would be lucky if I carried until February. February came and it almost passed without any incidents. Almost. Until one day, when I was 31 weeks I leaked again. This time the hospital did not let me leave. I was (hopefully) in it for the long haul. After only three days of total bed rest the doctor decided to induce me and my two boys were born 10 weeks early. Continue reading A tribute to the heroes of the NICU-The nurses 

A dream reborn

It has always been my dream to be a mother of twins. It made me happy when I passed a mother with a twin carriage on the street. I am not sure why I wanted this so much. Perhaps my desire stemmed from  my husband’s extraordinarily close identical twin brothers, I wanted this for my children? I didn’t have that closeness with my siblings. 

We tried to become pregnant from the day we were married. As the years slowly and anxiously passed, we realized conceiving would not be as simple as we had hoped. It became apparent that we were dealing with infertility. A period of treatments followed. It was a rollercoaster ride with so many downs. I broke down a lot. It was hard to see any light at the end of this long, dark tunnel after so many disappointments. 

After I couldn’t delay it any longer, the IVF route had to be taken. The only thing that made me go for it was the fact that twins were now a possibility since the odds of having twins were greater with IVF. That thought was very exciting and made the whole procedure more bearable.

Fortunately, we didn’t have to go through this multiple times…after the dreaded two-week waiting period was over, we heard the most wonderful news anyone struggling with infertility can hear:

Dear Mrs. Sunflower, congratulations, you are pregnant! 

Tears streamed down my face as I shared this news with my husband. My numbers were very high which indicated a possible twin pregnancy.  Just a few short weeks later the news was confirmed: I was carrying twins! My dream was actually going to come true! 

A few weeks after, on the day of my sister’s wedding, I suddenly felt myself losing water. I became hysterical because I was sure I was going to lose the babies and I didn’t think I could bear the blow. Thankfully the babies were doing well, but I had to stay on bed rest for a week and sadly missed my first sister’s wedding. Honestly, I didn’t care, my babies were safe and that’s what mattered most.

The pregnancy progressed nicely after that scare.

Without warning 31 weeks later the same thing happened. This time the hospital would not release me.  I was scheduled to stay in the hospital until I gave birth. Initially thinking I would be stuck on bed rest in hospital for 10 weeks, but that was not to be.  A mere 2 days later, the babies had to come due to an infection. Born at the end of 31 weeks, my dream of having twins had finally come true.

My twin boys were premature and although I ached to hold them, I was not allowed. It felt surreal, like a dream. I gazed at them for hours, imagining the day I would finally take them home and these beautiful twins would become our reality. 

Days, then weeks passed. My husband and I were starting to make plans for their homecoming. Although they had many ups and downs in the NICU, things looked good. There was talk of taking them home once they gain a bit more weight. 

I usually went to visit them once a day, mostly in the mornings as I was still weak from the c-section. One fine morning, I decided to go shopping first. Before I went, I called the NICU to hear how my precious twins were doing. I was transferred to the head nurse who told me that my oldest had woken up with a bloated stomach. A while later his vitals were flying, and they quickly had to take him for emergency surgery. 

Apparently he suffered a very rare condition in which half of his intestines were burned. We rushed to the hospital and arrived while he was still in surgery. We were told that by a miracle a top surgeon was just visiting the hospital and agreed to operate on my son. After the operation, the surgeon came by and told us that the prognosis was bad. The next 24 hours were critical and even if he pulled through, he would likely be brain damaged. I felt frozen. I tried to make sense of what was happening but I couldn’t. This could not happen to me of all people, could it? 

As I witnessed my little warrior fighting for his life I was devastated, heartbroken. His tiny body was barely visible under all the tubes and wires keeping him alive. He wasn’t breathing on his own. 

After sitting by his side for many hours, we decided to go home for a bit. Less than five minutes after we arrived home, we received the phone call from our doctor to turn right back because this precious soul’s end was near. My heart fell, I wasn’t ready for this. No one is ever ready for the loss of a child. We raced back and arrived just in time for a callous doctor to tell us “he is gone”- the words no parent EVER wants to hear in their lifetime. 

We saw his heartbeat slow down towards the inevitable; apparently he wasn’t gone yet, he saved us just enough time to say our goodbyes. 

I couldn’t do this, I didn’t want to do this. My baby, my long awaited precious gift from heaven was being taken from me- as was my dream of being a mom to twins. As cold as it may seem, I was heartbroken about the loss of my dream too.  I was devastated over the fact that my son would never know his twin, and never find what could have been a beautiful relationship. I mourned two things: the loss of my sweet child and the loss of my dream; a double blow to me.

It was all too much so I froze, I became numb. I couldn’t even cry when he finally died. My husband, the man who never cries, was bawling like a baby though. I had decided to try and find some positive in the situation. First, I was not alone: I had a beautiful baby I adored, an infant I never, not for one moment ceased to be thankful for. Since my dear son never came home, I did not have the time to properly bond with him and perhaps that made the loss the tiniest amount easier. 

The loss of a baby is always a tragedy. The loss of my baby was utter devastation.  I have learned to never take life for granted as it can be snuffed out in an instant. 

My dream of having twins was stolen but I built new dreams. I dream of autism acceptance for my son and a happy healthy life for both him and my miracle daughter. I dream of a successful outcome of the infertility treatments we’re going through for baby number three.

And one never knows, we may still end up with twins.  Regardless, any baby born is a miracle and I will treasure him or her.  I wait and pray for this next child, I pray they come, twins or singleton, healthy, autistic or not autistic, this child will have a home filled with love.

IVM for dummies

Daily prompt: Take a complicated subject you know more about than most people and explain it to a friend who knows nothing about it. 

Sadly, the subject I know lots about is infertility treatments. Having gone through them for many years and for 2 children, I feel most qualified to tell you about them. The one I will enlighten you about is the one that I am currently going through. My 2 children were both conceived with ICSI which stands for Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (in vitro fertilization procedure in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg.)


We had decided to try for child number three. After having a few canceled cycles where either the eggs weren’t growing enough or no fertilization had taken place, our fertility doctor suggested we might be prime candidates for a relatively new study called IVM (stands for In Vitro Maturation). The difference between ICSI and IVM is that the retrieval is done when the eggs are still immature as opposed to fully mature by ICSI. Then, the eggs are being matured in the lab before being fertilised. The results have shown that women with PCOS (like me) have a better chance at pregnancy with IVM.

There are several pro’s to this study. Instead of injecting hormones for 3 weeks, you only have to inject for a week at most so that’s much less drugs in your system. And no risk of OHHS (Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome)

So we start off by injecting hormones to get the eggs growing. Then, when the biggest egg is no more than 10mm big, retrieval is planned which I do under general anesthesia. Now the first part of the waiting game begins to hear if any eggs got fertilized. Since this has been my biggest issue, I expected to hear the news that none fertilized. and of course this is exactly what happened. Second round we got lucky and had one very precious embryo. In my clinic, if you have less than 3 embryos they freeze them and put them back when you start a frozen cycle. A frozen cycle consists of prepping your body with estrogen and progesterone by way of gels and vaginal pills. Now comes the thawing of the embryo. It happens often that the embryo doesn’t survive the thawing. We’re at this point now. With prayers in my heart I am hoping for a positive outcome.  I’m not sure I would be able to handle the disappointment if the embryo dies.

But we are thinking positive!

EDIT: great news! Thawing went well!!

UPDATE: Failed 😦