Monday, 19 June 2017

(in)fertility entrepreneurs - behind adversity is an opportunity

ad|ver¦sity – noun - a difficult or unpleasant situation

When you’re faced with adversity what do you do?
-Make lemonade, of course!! And then set up a glorious lemonade stand and support your of #ttcsisters through their journey!

Of course it doesn’t happen exactly like that- first you’re excited about starting a family and then a few years down the line you’re feeling isolated, sad, confused and frustrated. Then you crawl your way out of the hole you dug yourself into and dig deep and find strength in a passion - writing, designing, creating, nutrition or mindfulness. Then all of a sudden your passion becomes bigger than yourself and the desire to share becomes a business you never knew you had the strength to create. Here’s seven successful (in)fertility entrepreneurs and their adversity inspired stories & businesses:

Hello - My name is Christina Oberon and I wanted to share on the topic of infertility and how I have channeled the pain associated with going through it by teaming up with a small business to spread awareness and instill hope in others going through the same thing.

Being the daughter of a woman who has 11 children, the aunt to 18 nieces and nephews, and the desire to nurture everyone around me, I never would have thought in a million years that I would find myself unable to conceive and create a life of my own to nurture. I suppose that is the irony of life sometimes.  It has been a little over three years since my husband and I have been trying to conceive.  For the first two years we took a holistic approach and tried a variety of methods that included diet change, exercise, yoga, travel, essential oils, acupuncture – you name it, we tried it!
I had a HSG done in June 2016 which showed some abnormalities with my uterus and one blocked tube which was cleared.  After several more months of unsuccessful acupuncture, we then moved on to fertility treatments in early 2017 which resulted in multiple unsuccessful Intrauterine Inseminations (IUI).  Our next step this year will be In vitro fertilization (IVF) which I am anxious to begin.  The entire process will cause you to lose hope, strength and faith at times.  Over time, and once the stages of disbelief and denial subsided, a deep pain and overwhelming sadness had developed but I could not allow myself to drown in it or accept the fact so many others live with the same pain.  I knew I had to confront this often privately kept topic and create something to bring courage and hope, rather than despair to those struggling to start a family. 

In December 2016, I stopped into the MaeMae Jewelry store in the cute town of Atwater Village in Los Angeles.  Each of the jewelry designs come with an inspirational message- a personal meaning and I thought it would be amazing to have the same concept geared towards fertility.  I was chatting with the owner and started sharing my struggle to conceive and the heavy burden it had placed on my heart and my growing desire to bring hope to others.  I remember casually saying, You should create a fertility lineand without hesitation and to my surprise, she said, Do you want to do it together?
For the next several months we went through my own personal journey to motherhood, brainstormed, designed and created this fertility line which has evoked so much hope and inspiration in me in the process and so many other women since Infertility Awareness Week (April 23-29, 2017) when we launched it.  What is even more beautiful to me is that the pieces provide support through hope, faith, and loss on many levels, not just infertility, as you will see when you look at the pieces.  I once read that vulnerability is the only bridge to build connection and I have found that through connecting with others, we invite healing of our own wounds.  Though I am still working on creating life within me, my heart swells knowing I have created hope within others.
 Connect with Christina & MaeMae Jewelry at:

Hi – I’m Amy! I discovered I had fertility problems when I came off the pill and had gaps of 4-6 months between cycles.  I was diagnosed with PCOS and experienced many of its joys -weight gain, acne, male pattern baldness and all sorts. I was prescribed clomid, but responded to it too aggressively and experienced hyperstimulation of my ovaries.  I was advised the IVF wouldn't be a recommended course of action in light of this, so I went on the list to have ovarian drilling. While on the wait list I became pregnant, but sadly lost baby 1 within a week of having my first BFP. The following cycle I had my second BFP, but that also resulted in a crushing loss. Two cycles later I found myself pregnant with my now three year old little lady. Three years, ending in three pregnancies in four cycles - it was something of an intense time for us, and something I don't think I've entirely made peace with. 

At the same time as this, two of my best friends were undergoing rounds of IVF and fertility treatment themselves.  One of them was about to have their sixth cycle and would talk about the absence of support by way of cards and momentos and encouraged me to think about starting a line of cards to support women like us at all stages on their fertility journey. Hello Treacle was born last autumn, when I finally plucked up the courage to do it.
So, what started as a few cards has grown somewhat.  I now offer various fertility and infertility related cards, as well as some bright and fun IVF milestone cards for mums in waiting to document their journey on my Esty Shop. I design, print, package and send everything from my little home studio. The only exceptions are my milestone cards, which are professionally printed, but still processed and packed by me.

All of my cards are produced on 100% recycled paper and our envelopes use only vegan friendly glue.  I care greatly about bringing children into this world and believe that we must do all we can to ensure they have a beautiful planet to live on.Aside of fertility items, I'm now offering badges, prints, enamel pins and soon mirrors.  I'm looking to expand my offering of fertility items, including mirrors, pouches and jotters - lots of plans for later in the year.

Mr Treacle is my true partner in crime, my best friend, an amazing father and my number one cheerleader.  He helps package orders, completes post runs, does the housework so I can focus on doing what I do while I'm still working as well.
Connect with Amy at:
Etsy - Instagram: @hellotreaclestore 
PkvPrint became a reality about a year ago.  We were in the process of learning the results of our CCS testing on our embryos and finalizing our adoption with our little girl within a very short time period.  I was full of emotions!  I had taken nearly every avenue to start a family and realized I didn't really have a keepsake at all.  I had deleted photos, thrown away hospital bands, and didn't have the positive attitude to save anything.  So I started to search for the perfect shirt to describe my feelings about infertility.  I searched "F*ck Infertility" and came up with nothing.  And so our journey began.  We started with the "F*ck Infertility" shirts and it just snow-balled from there.  A lot of our customers gave us plenty of awesome ideas too!

After six long years (and still going), we have yet to be pregnant.  We have one frozen, normal, low-grade embryo left.  And that will be the end of it on that route for us.  We've given it everything after having being diagnosed with nearly everything in the book.  PCOS, Endometriosis, crap eggs, low-sperm counts, motility, mobility, etc.  It all lead us to turn to Foster Care to build our family.  We now spend our days running our own businesses (my husband co-owns a construction business, and I also have a photography business), running after our adopted and funniest 2-year-old in the world, and giving EXTRA love to the foster kids that come into our home.  This was not how I imagined my family would be, but now I couldn't see it any other way.  I once read a story where an adoptive mom was asked, "Do you ever regret not having your own children?" and the mom said she started to tear up and panic, saying, "No, then I wouldn't have her..."  And I feel the same way every day.  Best of luck on any journey you take to build your family!!

Connect with PkvPrint at: 
PkvPrint - Instagram: @pkvprint - Twitter: @pkvprint - Pinterest - Facebook
Life has thrown me around and knocked me down with grief, loss and fertility issues, and in doing so it has forced me to look deep within whilst exploring a new path.  My own experiences of two miscarriages resulting in surgery,  followed by an ectopic pregnancy which, due to internal bleeding, required emergency removal of my left fallopian tube, have left me somewhat broken and isolated.  “Baby, I Am Great” was inspired by the most remarkable lady I met on a Macrobiotics course (Nicky Clinch) who shared her affirmations in spite of facing her own immense battles – she taught me the power of an “I Am” statement, whilst the course helped me to connect to my own inner truth and led me closer to mindfulness and meditation. 
Consequently, I have created 2 beautiful gifts containing either a set of 30 Fertility Mindfulness Cards and a Fertility Hope Bracelet to accompany the tough journey through trying to conceive, or during IVF / FET’s/IUI – or, a pack of 10 Babyloss Healing Cards with a Hope Bracelet to offer support after the heartbreak of miscarriage.   The silk red cord of the bracelet has its own profound meaning in my life, and is something that offered me Hope when I most needed it; so much so, that I had the Hebrew word, Tikvah, permanently inked on my side.  A story to be shared another time perhaps…
 Connect with Baby, I’m Great at:
FertileGirl is a pre-pregnancy nutrition company here to change the conversation about fertility and empower women to make healthy choices.  The company was born out of my personal fertility journey. After struggling to get pregnant, I focused on managing my stress and eating healthier, even making my own snack bars after researching the best nutrients for women trying to conceive.  I also stopped treating fertility like a big secret and started talking--to friends, specialists anyone that would listen.  FertileGirl started as an online community for other women on their own fertility journeys and has evolved into a consumer foods brand that just launched its first product, FertileGirl’s superfood nutrition bars.  We donate a portion of our proceeds to Baby Quest Foundation, a nonprofit that provides fertility grants to couple who can’t afford the high price of fertility treatments.

 Connect with Allison at:

Instagram: @fertilegirl - Facebook - FertileGirl 
While we were initially building our blog- For the Love of Joy, I started having a vision for it to grow into a shop. Dreams of graphic tees, mugs, and pineapple everything was all I could think about! Happy. Joyful. Fun. I wanted so bad to simply spread as much encouragement and joy into the TTC Community as I could. With the start of our blog and IVF soon after that, the timing just wasn't right and the shop would need to wait. 

Unfortunately, our first FET resulted in a twin pregnancy that would miscarry at 13.5 weeks. This was our first known miscarriage and after all of the hope that IVF offered my heart, I knew I needed some time to recover. Recover emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I needed time. To help with the healing process, I decided it was a great time to start that little Joy Shop. So, what was first in thought so long ago, was now going to come to fruition. 

So, the creation of the Joy Shop was truly fulfilling its purpose from the get go. I was the first one it brought encouragement and joy to during my time of loss and healing. Now, it brings that same hope to people finding themselves in need of something good to come their way. 
Connect with Jil at: 
My fertility journey has been a long one – eight years and counting! So here’s the cliff notes (you can read the long version here): 3 years ttc naturally – never once a BFP. No major issues found with either of us (I had a lowish AMH score) – doc said we were fit and health & simply had unexplained infertility. 1 shambles of an IVF, which left us thinking we couldn’t even make health embryos. We spent a year dramatically changing our diet and life style. Second IVF was a much better, 5 healthy embryos – one put back in, I didn’t even make it 28days. More testing (which we fought for) and my unexplained became an autoimmune issue (High NK Cells) and we set off to do our first FET with immune surprising drugs = our first EVERY BFP! Sadly it ended in an early miscarriage, but we were hopeful. Took a few months off to recover and did another dramatic diet change to an AIP. Our second FET with immune surprising drugs resulted in our beautiful baby boy. We did our last FET with immune surprising drugs in April 2017 with our reaming 2 embryos, which sadly resulted in another early miscarriage. We’re done with medical help and were now focusing on staying health and reducing my High NK Cells through diet and lifestyle. We’d love to get pregnant naturally, but if it doesn’t happen it’s okay. We feel overly blessed with our little man and are overjoyed to be walking away from it all with him in our arms.

So, my 8 year journey has lead me to Fertility Health Coaching- were I hope to help, inspire and empower other women to take control of their fertility health. I write about my journey and struggles, along with health information related to all different types of fertility issues (there's loads of amazing guest bloggers too). I’m a qualified health coach and work with individual clients, along with running a group coaching program called The 30 day Fertility Health Reboot Crash Course. I’ve also designed a 5 Year Positive Fertility Journal for all types of fertility journeys, called Find Your Silver Lining". I wish I had this during my entire journey!! I started making it right before our final FET and it was amazing to have during the process and miscarriage – it totally helped me to stay positive through what was a really tough time. It’s a free DIY printable for now, but I’m working on making it a premade book for you to buy and own (so watch this space).

Connected with me at:
Fertility Health Coaching - Instagram: @positive_fertility - Pinterest - Facebook

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