S: WHAT EVER IT TAKES
BC: A strong woman works out every day to keep her body in shape But a woman of strength builds relationships to keep her soul in shape. A strong woman isn't afraid of anything But a woman of strength shows courage in the midst of fear. A strong woman won't let anyone get the better of her But a woman of strength gives the best of herself to everyone. A strong woman makes mistakes and avoids the same in the future A woman of strength realizes life's mistakes can also be unexpected blessings and capitalizes on them. A strong woman wears a look of confidence on her face But a woman of strength wears grace. A strong woman has faith that she is strong enough for the journey But a woman of strength has faith that it is in the journey that she will become strong.
FC: WHATEVER IT TAKES | THE STORY OF OUR JOURNEY TO CREATE A FAMILY
1: WHATEVER IT TAKES This is our story, our journey to create a family. Our journey takes many turns and twists, was filled with many highs and lows, turmoil and triumph. In the end we endured, persevered, believed and above all else never gave up. Our journey was difficult, frustrating and at times heartbreaking, but we did it together. Through it all we said to ourselves, "What Ever It Takes" we will do to accomplish our goal, to have a baby and create a family. In the end it was all worth it. This is our story, our journey.
2: John & Cheryl introduced us | Our 1st date was at Connolly's Pub & Restaurant | We meet on a blind date 12/27/04
3: We dated
5: We got engaged
6: Rehearsal Dinner
7: We were married
9: We honeymooned at Disney
10: On our 1 year wedding anniversary we had an addition to our family
11: Connolly Cooper Kolm
12: We got pregnant | We experienced loss | We sought help
13: We experienced even more loss and we grieved | We would face an anniversary
14: I never held you, but I feel you. You never spoke, but I hear you. I never knew you, but I love you. - Joe
15: When you know you are going to have a child, you begin to have dreams and to make plans for your child. You think about how you are going to care for your child, how the child is going to become apart of your family, what the child will look like, whose traits s/he will inherit, how your life is going to change. When the baby dies, your love for the baby remains in the absence of the child. So what do you do with that love? After a miscarriage, your wounds never heal. The sadness never goes away. You wear it on your heart everyday and the scabs are constantly re-opened. Today, I'm still faced with a lack of a baby to hold, lack of a true birth date, lack of a name for our baby. This anniversary is a time to honor our angel in heaven. Someday I'll have the courage to wear a necklace but not yet today. Someday I'll tell my child about the 3 brothers and sisters s/he has in heaven. Someday I'll write letters to each one of them - sharing my feelings of joy when I learned I was pregnant, the hopes and dreams I had for them, that I desperately wanted nothing more and how they changed our lives forever. I have born a grief that could destroy a mother's hope. Today's not just one of those "trigger moments." I remember my first loss vividly and the tears come flooding back. Today I mourn with my husband and let our honest emotions wash over me again. I know later I will be glad that I didn't let life move on so fast - that I did stop and devote time today for my little angels. It's sacred time. I've had to say goodbye more times than I have liked and though Lovey and I will never forget what we've given up we owe it to ourselves to keep moving forward. I know what I can't do. I can't live my life afraid of the next goodbye but to think of the goodbye as a new beginning where we can start all over again. Facing forward and keeping our eye on the prize. - Kelley
16: In 1 year, I have suffered 3 miscarriages, 1 chemical pregnancy, 3 D&Cs, 2 cycles of IVF, 6 IUIs, an HSG and Lap procedure, OHSS, given hundreds of vials of blood, given myself hundreds, if not a thousand shots, been diagnosed with auto immune and thrombophilia issues, and have cried an infinite number of tears. My journey to become a mother has changed me. This is my story. Like many infertile women would say, I thought getting pregnant would be a piece of cake. Each month, I thought, "this is it." My first pregnancy came after 7 months of trying and using an ovulation fertility monitor. It was off to a fantastic start. I experienced all of the early pregnancy symptoms, each day reminding me of my new found excitement, pregnancy and becoming a mother. When I woke up and started bleeding, I knew something was wrong. I always trust my instincts; however, the blood | We switched Doctors | tests were great and showed my beta levels rising. My OB didn't prescribe a sono until 4 days later, only because the bleeding continued. I already knew what the sono would confirm, that there was a gestational sac and yolk, but no fetal growth. I had a D&C at 7 weeks, 3 days. Tissue tests came back inconclusive. After our 1st loss, my husband and I decided that we would give it our all, to start a family. After 5 long months, we took the next step and scheduled a consult with a Reproductive Endocrinologist at a top notch Long Island clinic. Without much investigation or testing, I now had a Dr in charge of my fertility, who prescribed the well know fertility drug, Clomid. We did two cycles of IUs and I was pregnant again. "Cautiously optimistic" were the Dr.'s words. My beta was great but fetal development was slow to grow. I began naturally miscarrying at 6 weeks. One of the most physical painful experiences of my life is where naturally miscarrying is listed in my book. If I let myself, I can recall the intense back pain, horrible contractions, cramping and bleeding. It was beyond terrifying and I hope to keep those feelings safely tucked away. I was given no explanation for this miscarriage, just that "miscarriage is common." Unexpectedly, 1 month later I was pregnant again. No intervention was needed, I thought "great, 3rd time's a charm!" I informed my RE and he monitored me with weekly blood work and sonograms. My husband and I were over the moon excited as everything was progressing normally. Shortly after, fetal growth seemed to slow down a bit. Nevertheless, as long as the baby was growing each day, the Dr wasn't concerned. He contributed the slow growth to late implantation since we didn't exactly know when I ovulated or date of conception. Moving along to one week later, we heard our baby's heartbeat for the very first time and the last time. It was music to my ears. I had never made it to this point in my two previous pregnancies. To know that I was going to miscarry again, a 3rd time was sincerely devastating. At 8 weeks 5 days, a missed miscarriage. I requested a D&C, a week before Christmas. Adding emotional pain to an already physically painful event would be unbearable. This is when I knew I had changed. It wasn't the Dr telling me (in the recovery room) that he once treated a woman who had 11 miscarriages, my decision to never step foot in his office again was because I was suffering from recurrent miscarriage and knew
17: it could be prevented and/or treated. Through networking and talking with my local "infertile community," I found a Dr who specialized in infertility, specifically recurrent miscarriage and immunology. I immediately called him and had a quick consult before our office visit. I told him I was between cycles, asked if it were possible if I could be pregnant again and he said it's not very likely given the previous circumstances." He wrote me a slew of scripts for blood work and told me to come back on day 3 for hormone workup. Well low and behold; day 3 didn't come because I was pregnant again! Like I said, always trust your instincts! Unfortunately, pregnancy #4 wasn't off to a great start, a with low beta number, we knew it wasn't going to be viable. Ecstatic and surprised as I was, we accepted the disappointment, again. While I was waited for my beta to drop to negative, my genius Dr (as I refer to him) reassured me that he would discover why I was miscarrying and why I could never carry past 9 weeks. During this time, we also received the results from the tissue sample for pregnancy #3. The report stated that our baby had Trisomy 16. Yes, I'm content in knowing that there is a reason but knowing why doesn't make grieving any easier. That was the last time I was pregnant, 9 months ago. With extensive testing, my knew Dr has uncovered several issues associated with thrombophilia and elevated nkt cells that ultimately have effected my ability to become pregnant and carry a pregnancy. He has the smarts, is on the cutting edge of infertility research, thinks out of the box, doesn't have to follow a clinic protocol, is compassionate, caring and provides a level of personal care that all other doctors fail to do and because of this, I have 100% trust in his ability to help me have a successful pregnancy. -Kelley
18: We grieved more, suffered more losses, faced more anniversaries and observed October 15th
20: Along our journey we had made some great friends with people who were also battling infertility. They would provide us with comfort, support, understanding and the feeling that we were not alone. | And one by one our "Infertility Friends" became parents. | Life's a journey not a destination, And I just can't tell just what tomorrow brings. - Aerosmith
21: Kelley's infertility treatments involved; many blood draws and self administered injections, surgeries and many pills, medications and hormones. | Intralipid treatment | Belly after Laparoscopy | Bruising after blood draw | Belly after injections
22: DEAR DIARY After this second miscarriage, my feelings of self-worth are now at an all time low. I feel a deep sense of helplessness and hopelessness. I feel isolated. I am paralyzed with the fear that I will never be a mother. I have never, never, realized how much my self-worth is wrapped up in my ability to have children. I have found myself face to face with one of my greatest fears. If I am unable to have a child of my own, what is my purpose in life? Why am I having to suffer when others around me seem so effortlessly able to get pregnant and have children? | Often times, I am consumed with so much sadness and feel that everyone else is surrounded by abundance while I have nothing. I feel inferior to everyone who has what I want. I am learning that exploring all of these feelings isn't | avoidable. I feel powerless and become a victim of vulnerability which intensifies my grief. I felt (and sometimes still feel) guilty for wishing my miscarriage would end because of the intense physical pain I felt for days, well really weeks. I'm struggling to find meaning behind | all of this pain. The unfairness of miscarriage is very overwhelming. I feel like I've lost a part of myself. In the past couple of weeks, this loss has already had such a profound effect on me. I continuously struggle for inner strength. - Kelley 11/11/2009
23: DEAR DIARY This period of pain and uncertainty in my life has had me questioning everything I had once thought to be true. On my path to healing, (some call it a journey of self-discovery) my self-esteem has taken a hit. I hold myself to impossibly high standards that I've found no one could possibly meet. Some of my relationships are unsatisfying because I am continuously disappointed by others. Once I'm able to forgive myself, forgiving others will become so much easier. If someone says something hurtful to me, I'm learning to "recognize that their negativity is a reflection of what is going on inside them" rather than anything that has to do with me. The first step in healing, is acknowledgment that the loss has occurred. It was important for me to sit with this grief, let it sink in and then spill it all out - a sort of facing reality that what has happened has been painful. I have to trust that whatever I'm feeling is okay and | understandable. I I realize I can't let my miscarriages define my self-concept. I know this because this isn't the first time that I've been dealt a tragedy or life-changing event. There have been many times I've been stuck in self-pity and sadness. Fortunately, I've found my way out. - Kelley 11/14/2009
24: DEAR DIARY MY COUNTDOWN AND PITTY PARTY 10 - Drugs I've had to learn the names of, how to pronounce and understand what they do to my body. 9 - Visits to the Dr. each month = 9 ridiculous co-pays. But, I will pay until I can't anymore. 8 - Months of putting needles in the most sensitive areas of my body, head, face, hands, arms, legs, ankles, belly, etc. 7 - IUI's of keeping my legs elevated, for three songs worth of time and singing aloud to each of them with all the faith in the world. 6 - Total embryos implanted into my unwelcoming uterus, my possible little babies. 5 - Losses. 5 BFPs. 5 times I've been lucky enough to see "pregnant" on a HPT. 5 times I've had to take that good news back from my husband. 4 - IVF cycles including 1 cancelled, worth of am and pm injections, suppositories, intralipid treatments, mood swings, night sweats, and getting to know the Krauppners' Pharmacy driver by name. | 3 - Years of TTC (well almost 3). A Journey of ups but more downs, diagnosis, treatments, new Dr's., new concerns, new trust, same hope. 2 - Broken hearts. unmeasurable. 1 - Dream - Kelley 2/27/2011
25: Infertility is... -TTC for 2+ years -Sore belly, broken hearts, miles of tears -Watching your husband play with your nieces and nephews wishing you could give him one of his own -Analyzing and reorganizing your relations and friendships -Waiting to fall apart if one more person says, "Everything happens for a reason." -Syringes, injections, pills and supplements -Appreciation for the miracle of life -Wishing you could give your parents grandchildren -Strength, courage, compassion, anger, joy, bitterness, guilt, shame, hope and faith -Feeling like the whole world is pregnant except you -Avoiding people you haven't seen in a long time because you don't want to hear, "Do you have any kids yet?" -A secret sisterhood that few admit to being a part of -New understanding for modern medicine and science - 3 miscarriages, 1 chemical, blood clotting disorders, immune issues -Feeling left out when your friends compare their pregnancy and childbirth experiences -Telling the nurse to take blood from the left because the veins in the right needs a break -Reconnecting with my faith and spirituality - 3 perfect grade 1, 4 cell, 8 cell and 12 cell embies -A journey Kelley
26: "The Climb" Miley Cyrus | I can almost see it That dream I am dreaming But there's a voice inside my head saying "You'll never reach it" Every step I'm taking Every move I make feels Lost with no direction My faith is shaking But I gotta keep trying Gotta keep my head held high There's always gonna be another mountain I'm always gonna wanna make it move Always gonna be a uphill battle Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose Ain't about how fast I get there Ain't about what's waiting on the other side It's the climb! The struggles I'm facing The chances I'm taking Sometimes might knock me down But no, I'm not breaking | I may not know it But these are the moments that I'm gonna remember most Just gotta keep going And I, I got to be strong Just keep pushing on 'Cause there's always gonna be another mountain I'm always gonna wanna make it move Always gonna be a uphill battle Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose Ain't about how fast I get there Ain't about what's waiting on the other side It's the climb! There's always gonna be another mountain I'm always gonna wanna make it move Always gonna be an uphill battle Somebody's gonna have to lose Ain't about how fast I get there Ain't about what's waiting on the other side It's the climb! Keep on moving, keep climbing Keep the faith, baby It's all about, it's all about the climb Keep the faith, keep your faith
27: When women experience the loss of a child, one of the first things they discover they have in common is a list of things they wish no one had ever said to them. The list tends to be remarkably similar. The comments are rarely malicious - just attempts to soothe. This list was compiled as a way of helping other people understand pregnancy loss. While generated by mothers for mothers, it may also apply similarly to the fathers who have endured this loss. When trying to help a woman who has lost a baby, the best rule of thumb is a matter of manners: don't offer your personal opinion of her life, her choices, her prospects for children. No woman is looking to poll her acquaintances for their opinions on why it happened or how she should cope. - Don't say, "It's God's Will." Even if we are members of the same congregation, unless you are a cleric and I am seeking your spiritual counseling, please don't presume to tell me what God wants for me. Besides, many terrible things are God's Will, that doesn't make them less terrible. - Don't say, "It was for the best - there was probably something wrong with your baby." The fact that something was wrong with my baby is what is making me so sad. My poor baby never had a chance. Please don't try to comfort me by pointing that out. - Don't say, "You can always have another one." This baby was never disposable. If given the choice between loosing this child or stabbing my eyes out with a fork, I would say, "Where's the fork?" I would have died for this baby, just as you would die for your children. - Don't say, Be grateful for the children you have." If your mother died in a terrible wreck and you grieved, would that make you less grateful to have your father? - Don't say, "Thank God you lost the baby before you really loved it." I loved my son or daughter. Whether I lost the baby after two weeks of pregnancy or just after birth, I loved him or her. - Don't say, "Isn't it time you got over this and moved on?" It's not something I enjoy, being grief-stricken. I wish it had never happened. But it did and it's part of me forever. The grief will ease on its own time, not mine - or yours. - Don't say, "Now you have an angel watching over you." I didn't want him or her to be my angel. I wanted him or her to bury me in my old age. - Don't say, "I understand how you feel." Unless you've lost a child, you really don't understand how I feel. And even if you lost a child, everyone experiences grief differently. - Don't tell me horror stories of your neighbor or cousin or mother who had it worse. The last thing I need to hear right now is that it is possible to have this happen six times, or that I could carry until two days before my due-date and labor for 20 hours for a dead baby. These stories frighten and horrify me and leave me up night weeping in despair. Even if they a happy ending, do not share these stories with me
28: - Don't pretend it didn't happen and don't change the subject when I bring it up. If I say, "Before the baby died..." or "When I was pregnant..." don't get scared. If I'm talking about it, it means I want to. Let me. Pretending it didn't happen will only make me feel utterly alone. - Don't say, "It's not your fault." It may not have been my fault, but it was my responsibility and I failed. The fact that I never stood a chance of succeeding only makes me feel worse. This tiny little being depended upon me to bring him safely into the world and I couldn't do it. I was supposed to care for him or her for a lifetime, but I couldn't even give him or her a childhood. I am so angry at my body you just can't imagine. - Don't call more than once and don't be angry if the machine is on and I don't return your call. If we're close friends and I am responding to your attempts to help me, please don't resent that, either. Help me by not needing anything from me for a while. - Do say, "I am sorry." That's enough. You don't need to be eloquent. Say it an mean it and it will matter. - Do say, "You're going to be a wonderful parents some day," or "You're wonderful parents and that baby was lucky to have you." We both need to hear that. - Do say, "I have lighted a candle for your baby," or "I have said a prayer for your baby." - Do send send flowers or a kind note - every one I receive makes me feel as though my baby was loved. Don't resent it if I don't respond. If you're my boss or co-worker: - Do recognize that I have suffered a death in he family - not a medical condition. - Do recognize that in addition to the physical after effects I may experience, I'm going to be grieving for quite some time. Please treat me as you would any person who has endured the tragic death of a loved one - I need time and space. Please don't bring your baby or toddler into the workplace. If your niece is pregnant, or your daughter just had a baby, please don' share that with me right now. It's not that I can't be happy for anyone else, it's that every smiling, cooing baby, every glowing new mother makes me ache so deep in my heart I can barely stand it. I may look okay to you, but there's a good chance that I'm still crying every day. It may be weeks before I can go a whole hour without thinking about it. You'll know when I'm ready - I'll be the one to say, "Did your daughter have a baby?" or "How is that precious boy of yours? I haven't seen him around in a while." Above all, please remember that this is the worst thing that ever happened to me. The word "miscarriage" is small and easy. But my baby's death is monolithic and awful. It's going to take me a while to figure out how to live with it. Bear with me.
29: 6th time is a charm? Kelley was so sure this IVF cycle would work she bought a Coach diaper bag. She chose the color pink. She was also sure about something else as well! | Our doctor would switch labs and we would have to move our precious embryo's from one lab to another lab.
30: To every thing there is a reason, and time to every purpose under heaven. I've spent a couple of days thinking about how I can share MY story. I don't want to rant or rave about my Dr, my protocol, what worker, what didn't, because honestly, you name it, I've done more than dabble in it all. I've spent the last two years under the care of the same Dr. The 6 months prior I was with your typical clinic and the year previous, on my own, naturally pregnant unknowing how my life and the following events would completely change my whole being. From acupuncture, to intralipid treatments, supplements, hundreds of blood draws, probably a thousand shots I administered myself, a laparoscopy and hysteroscopy, different drug protocols, 6 miscarriage and 4 D&Cs, new diagnoses each year, cysts and hospital stays, consults with top-notch Dr.'s, this list means nothing without one very important component - HOPE. About one year ago, I made a "pity-party" post about another failed IVF cycle. It was a countdown about all the things that I've done sort of like my above list but with more detail and emotion. At the very bottom of the list, #1, I wrote one word, DREAM. Throughout my journey, I've never lost sight of my Dream, to have a baby, to become a mother. Don't get me wrong, I've lost my mind plenty of times, have sang the "why me" tune, have shed more tears and said more goodbyes than most and have wanted to throw in the towel after each heartache of a loss or BFN. But, along with hope, there's her friend Faith, who always pulled me through | somehow, someway. I noticed that it was taking me longer to heal from each failed cycle and miscarriage. My body, my mind, both; became so very vulnerable to grief where healing became all encompassing. As it goes, I needed a time to heal, a time to laugh, a time to mourn, a time to dance, and I chose to take longer breaks between cycles, to give myself plainly, some time. This time off was a basic necessity that allowed me to never let my fears hold me back from my dream. Infertility has given me more than hope. I've made some wonderful friendships that are sure to last a lifetime. These ladies have encouraged me to enjoy my life and be thankful for what I had, for what I learned, renewed my hope and always offered their unconditional support. As heartbreaking as infertility is, ironically, I can't be more grateful for | where I've been because where I'm going is sure to be that much better. So this is how MY story goes... IVF cycle number 6 was undoubtedly not the roller coaster ride we all know so much. It was different. It was straightforward and dare I say uncomplicated? After every monitoring appointment, I left encouraged with what the Dr said. I remained calm with hope and positivity of a great cycle. And although none of my previous issues resurfaced, I asked for guidance from another well-known Dr who truly put my fears to rest and offered me more hope than I ever had before. Not only did the beginning part of the cycle go smoothly but we retrieved a great number of eggs with a high fertilization rate. My embryos grew wonderfully and next an easy 5 day transfer. Within a handful of days, with hopeful eyes, I saw a positive pregnancy test. Despite my history of stumbles and failures, I remained confident but a little stoic as one friend called me! You have to admit, my uneasiness about not sharing my news is very well warranted and I simply wanted my success story to be in the hearts of few for a short while, Today, I'm delighted to announce that I am 9 weeks pregnant with a wiggly and happy baby! I share this news
31: with a special angel in Heaven, whom my strong foundation of faith and hope comes from, a caring and trustworthy doctor, my wonderful supportive husband and a handful of forever friends that were with me every step of the way. An amazing miracle. It's MY time, yes! - Kelley | Kelley became pregnant, but she still had to continue taking her medications. She still had to endure daily self administered injections and weekly blood draws throughout her pregnancy. We would have weekly doctor's appointments. However, our baby was healthy and growing!
32: We hosted a "Gender Reveal Party" for our family and friends
33: Kelley's Baby Shower was held at Land's End
34: Our "Dream Team" of Doctors | Dr. Mark Pillitteri | Dr. Alexander Kofinas | Dr. Jeffrey Braverman
35: On our 5 year wedding anniversary we were blessed with a baby girl
36: Caroline was born premature at 33 weeks and spent 3 weeks in the NICU
37: After 3 weeks our baby girl was finally home!
38: We now embark on the next leg or our journey "Parenthood"
39: DEDICATED TO... ...Our Doctors for helping us achieve our dream! Thank you Dr. B for going above and beyond the call of duty, for truly caring, for being a shoulder to cry on, and for answering all Kelley’s phone calls and emails, even in the wee hours of the night. Thank you Dr. Kofinas for providing us with excellent care for our unborn baby. Thank you Dr. Pillitteri for caring, for being a shoulder to cry on and for delivering our little angel. Also, to our entire Doctor’s office staff, thank you for truly caring and providing us with emotional support. We were more to you than just a patient or just a number and it made a difference to us. ...Our family and friends for barring with us during our lows and celebrating with us during our highs. This was a difficult journey and would have been unbearable without your love and support. Our “Infertility Friends,” for providing us with support and a deeper understanding. You let us know that we were not alone, and we will always value the special bonds we have made. Infertility may have been a formidable opponent that dealt us many crushing blows and losses, but infertility also gave us some very special friends. And a special thank you to Aunt Carol, for giving Kelley unconditional love and support, a shoulder to cry on any time day or night, for all your prayers and for having faith even when ours waivered. We miss you, but are glad you are with our little angels watching over us. ...All couples who have suffered loss and/or are battling infertility. Every journey is unique, whatever the result of your journey is; know “You are not alone.” Some of the most understanding and supportive people we have ever met were couples who have suffered loss and/or were battling infertility. ...Our angles in Heaven, we love you and miss you and we will never forget you. Until we meet again one sweet day we will honor you by being the best parents we can be to your little sister Caroline. ...Kelley, my wife, my love, the mother of my child, my partner, my best friend; Thank you so much for giving me a daughter, for making me a father. I can never truly express how grateful I am for ALL that you have done. To watch you go through an IVF cycle and endure all the blood draws, the medications, the injections, the hormones, the bruising, the swelling, the surgeries, the anesthesia, the mood swings and then to have it not work was heartbreaking. I would watch you go through it all over again and again and again with no guarantee if it would ever work. Or even if it did work to watch you not be able to sustain the pregnancy and suffer yet another loss was devastating. Yet, after each failed IVF cycle or loss you would embark on another IVF cycle in the hopes that this cycle would be the one. It made me realize just how strong you are, just how fearless you are, just how unwavering you will is, just how strong your faith is. It is nothing short of amazing and inspiring. You make me want to be a better person and the best father I can be. Never forget what YOU have done, what YOU have accomplished. I love you!