Our Family is Growing

Belly Bump

August 2015, I married the man of my dreams. God delivered everything that I had prayed for and more. I prayed for a man that would be patient, kind, generous, and loving. I wanted a man that would love my daughter, Kai, just as much as he loved me. Seven years earlier, I met Bakari at a wedding in Cancun, Mexico. My daughter Kai was 3 years old and I was two years separated/one year divorced from my previous marriage. I had a major fear of marriage but I also knew that I did not want to lose Bakari. So, after 7 years of dating and a year and half engagement, Bakari and I married. I literally woke up one day in June of 2015 and told Bakari that we were going to have a wedding in August. And in August that is what we did. Our wedding was an intimate ceremony/reception with our closest friends and family. It was perfect!

Once married, we knew we wanted children right away. We both talked about having another little one around the house. Kai was 3 years old when Bakari and I met and he was so great with her. I knew Bakari would be an amazing father to our other children. So the practicing began! We had lots of sex just as many newlyweds would and nothing happened. I just knew that I would be pregnant within months. We were both healthy people with no major health concerns. Bakari is 8 years younger than me, so I just knew everything would work out. My pregnancy with Kai was fairly easy and I got pregnant in the second month of trying, granted that was 10 years prior. Frustration slowly set in as I saw other friends getting pregnant and having babies. This was not supposed to be me. Not supposed to be us.  With my maternal clock ticking, I was having regrets of waiting so long to marry. I told myself we could have had 3 babies within the 7 years of dating. Finally, after a year of practicing, I gave in and went to my OB/GYN for a fertility consult. My OB/GYN did the normal examination and then referred me to a reproductive specialist.

August 2016, Bakari and I went for consultation and testing. We both checked out with no major issues and we were diagnosed with “UNEXPLAINED INFERTILITY”.  I guess that is the diagnosis when they can’t exactly tell you why you are not getting pregnant. Of course, age was a slight factor on my side, but my ovarian reserve was that of a 35-year-old and all of my reproductive organs looked normal and functioning. I had normal, regular menstrual cycles, and I ovulated every month, but things were not connecting. So, our Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) told us to go home and track my ovulation and keep trying. He said, “ When you are tired of trying then come back and we will take the next steps”.

We made a plan to give ourselves until the New Year before we made any steps toward assisted fertility. I tracked my cycles, and sure enough February 2017, we got pregnant! We were thrilled. We couldn’t wait till our first appointment. It was scheduled for Monday, April 17, 2017, the day after Easter Sunday. I spent Easter Sunday with my family in Lancaster at my parent’s home. Being my second pregnancy, my stomach got big fairly quickly. Monday morning came, our appointment was at 8am, Bakari and I patiently waited for the Ultrasound Technician to come in to do the ultrasound. He held my hand and we both looked at each other with so much hope and excitement. She started the process of scanning me and she asked “how many weeks are you?” I replied “almost 9 weeks”. She said “one-second”, she leaves and goes to get the doctor. The doctor explained that there was no heartbeat on the ultrasound and that the baby was not vital. From there, it was quite a blur and I don’t quite remember all that he said. Bakari and I scheduled the D&C for that Wednesday. Bakari had to travel for work that week but would be home with me the evening after the surgery and all day the following day. My sister, Ione, took me on to my D&C appointment and brought me home. Bakari came home that night and we both just cried. I told him that I was ok with him traveling for work and being with me after, but deep down, I wanted him there. Weeks later, I was angry at him for something else (I can’t even remember what it was), but I brought up the fact that he had not been there for my surgery. I was so heartbroken over the miscarriage that I needed to take it out on someone, and he is the closest to me. You see, the ups and downs of infertility are not pretty. It is difficult on your family in every way imaginable: financially, emotionally, and physically. It tests your faith, your marriage, and your strength in self. We were determined to not let it break us.

Summer 2017

By June 2017, we were back to trying for our baby. Everyone said to stop thinking about it and have fun. We tried really hard to do just that. We traveled — just the two of us– and had an amazing summer. I refocused on working out and eating right. I tracked my cycle. We had plenty of sex. Every time I knew I would be ovulating, I drove Bakari crazy about sex almost to the point that it became a task instead of fun. I questioned God and asked why not us. Had we done something wrong and were we not deserving of a baby. I asked for forgiveness of all of our prior sins and healing of my womb. Every month, I would buy pregnancy tests in hopes that the double line would eventually show again. It never did. By summer’s end, we were back at our Reproductive Endocrinologist. Funny how August always seems like our starting point. Bakari and I met August 2008, we married August 2015, we consulted for fertility August 2016, and now August 2017 we were back in the RE’s office. Where do we go from here?

3 Failed IUI-2017

Our RE doctor at the time recommended IUI. The procedure is supposed to put the sperm closer to the egg to help with fertilization. He also started me on Clomid, which is to help stimulate my ovaries to produce more than one egg at a time. The Clomid almost drove me insane. It made me feel so different. My doctor explained that it is an artificial stimulant and that I was just super sensitive. The Clomid worked and I had 2 follicles. We did the IUI procedure August, September, and October. Going back to the RE, every few days to give blood work and more tests. Bakari and I were several thousands of dollars into fertility treatment by now and felt like we had gotten nowhere. Every month, I was devastated when Aunt Flow arrived. Bakari would just comfort me that it would happen and to not be so upset. We decided to take a break from treatment over the holiday season. We said that we would do IVF in the New Year.

January 2018

IVF Cycle #1

We decided to stop playing around and go for the “sure thing”! Well, if you know anything about fertility treatments, nothing is for certain. My RE recommended that I start on birth control medication to have a controlled cycle of IVF. The birth control medication shuts down your ovaries so that they are nice and rested before stimulating the heck out of them. Well, I stayed on birth control for about 6 weeks. On January 29, 2018 I started my first IVF stimulating medication. We had payed a truck load of money for this medication and I was going to do everything possible to make sure I was doing it right. My acupuncturist had recommended a high fat diet, so I went out and bought all of these ingredients for high protein bone broth, high fat coconut bars. I hated every bit of the diet but I was determined. So I did my shots, 13 days straight at 10 p.m. every night. It was like clockwork. I turned down dinner with friends and vacations to make certain that I was home right at 10pm to do my shots. I went every few days to have blood work and ultrasounds done and because it was my first go at this, I thought we were on a good path. Looking back now, I think we should have cancelled the cycle altogether. After suppressing these ovaries, they were just not waking up and responding like they should have been…I had 5 follicles growing. One on my right ovary and four follicles on the left. On February 12, 2018, two days before Valentine’s Day, we went for the egg retrieval. After the procedure, our doctor came and said that he had retrieved 2 eggs. I said, “Two eggs….Really!”After all of the medication I had put in my body, after all of the money we had spent, 2 eggs! Trying to stay optimistic, I thought well these two eggs will be my miracle babies. Ok, these two eggs are my miracle babies. Until they were not. The Embryologist called the next morning to report that the 2 retrieved eggs had not even matured. I was so disappointed. Being that Valentine’s Day was the next day, Bakari had to literally pull me off the couch to go out for dinner. I had a glass of wine and tried to relax and enjoy the day even though it was so hard. A few days passed and I knew I needed to take a different route. My current doctor had mentioned doing another cycle, but I knew that we needed a new doctor with a different approach. So I scheduled a consultation with a different doctor and we started talking about our second IVF cycle.

IVF Cycle #2

The awfulness of major pain and constipation from my egg retrieval passed and I was more determined to find someone to help us. I remember my friend suggesting a different RE. I called and made a consultation with a new RE. She was younger and a female. She was open to trying some other medication and vitamins to prepare my body for IVF. So, I started on progesterone cream. It was messy and made cuddling with Bakari a task because he was not supposed to be near it, but I stuck with it. I also started on CoQ10 and DHEA supplements. I continued with my prenatal vitamins and low dose aspirin. My new RE tracked my cycle for two cycles to see my hormone levels at different points in the cycle. This required lots of blood work and many visits to the doctor. On April 17, I started my stimulation medication. She did not recommend suppression, rather simply started it with my natural menstrual cycle. I took stimulating shots for 12 days straight and my egg retrieval was scheduled for 2 days later. I had 12-15 follicles, 8 mature eggs. My numbers were not amazing but much better odds then my first round. The next day they called and said that 5 had fertilized, then a couple of days later 4 had made it to day 3, then 2 Blastocysts had made it to Day 5. The embryologist said they looked great and recommended that we put both back in during a fresh transfer. On Cinco de Mayo, our doctor placed both of our beautiful embryos back into my uterus as Bakari and I watched in amazement.

Dreadful 2 Week Wait

My two week wait consisted of pure relaxation at home. I did the bare minimum. My family really helped with taking Kai to her activities, cooking me meals, and helping with the housework. I read everything I could about what to do and what not to do during the implantation period. And I followed every old wives’ tale….no cold beverages, lay on your left side, no stimulation, no sex, eat lots of avocados, eat leafy greens, no exercise, wear socks 24/7. I prayed a lot and asked God to allow my womb to accept my embryos. After all of my obsessing over what to do and what not to do, things turned in our favor. On May 17, I went in for my first Beta blood test. The Beta test just shows whether you have HCG in your system. The baseline is 25, well mine was 770. I went back a few days later and it had jumped up to 3200. My doctor was satisfied with the numbers and scheduled me for my first ultrasound. June 4 came and I was so nervous. Bakari was there holding my hand just as before. My doctor turned the screen to show us two little flickering heartbeats. I looked at Bakari and I thought he was about to fall out. Both of our embryos had taken, or one had split, we aren’t quite sure at this point, but we have twins! And, we are so excited! We feel so blessed, God willing, that we will have two bundles of joy coming in the New Year 2019.

I have been so hesitant to share our pregnancy with the world because of our difficulties in the past. I have been hiding behind others in pictures, but I want to share my bump…and oh what a bump it is! Our babies are healthy so far and growing rapidly and all of my tests are looking great. I truly think it is time to share our wonderful news with our friends! We are out of the most risky stage of our pregnancy, but we still have so far to go. I hope that you pray for our success as I pray for other women everywhere dealing with infertility.

46 thoughts on “Our Family is Growing

  1. My continued prayers to you and Bakari. I pray that you deliver your twin to full term, the delivery is pain free with no complications and that both the babies and YOU are doing great after the delivery. And you have a great recovery! God said to be specific in your prayers so that’s why I’m detailed! I’m soooo excited for you! I’m older than my fiancé and we will be married in March.

    1. I am so happy for you all God has truly blessed you he is a awesome God I’ve been knowing y’all for so long I used to come to your house with Patsy k you all had a movie theater in your mother and father’s home we used to watch TV go swimming I love y’all so deeply y’all treated me with so much love when I used to run into you and your beautiful little girl we always will have a beautiful conversation you are a beautiful person inside and out and I pray that you all marriage be successful and have your Healthy twins by God’s grace and mercy I asked him to cover you all with his blood may God bless you all!!!?????????????

  2. Congratulations….and I will contiue to pray for your family and journey. I experienced the same heartbreaks and journey but still not successful. IVF is very experience and all insurances should cover it for peole who want families and can not have them naturally.

  3. This is such a Beautiful story. I was crying reading it and thanking God at the same time. You and those babies will be fine. Your delivery will be awesome and the babies are healthy. Praise God I can’t wait to meet them!❤

  4. So happy for you!! Yeah God is good! I am so happy you shared your story!! I suffered from a miscarriage also. Your babies will be healthy and you all will be wonderful parents. I will keep you all in my prayers!!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your story! We as African American women need to share our stories. Others need to hear them and draw strength from them. I, like you, was diagnosed with unexplained infertility. After 4 years of trying, 3 IUI’s, 2 donor egg IVF’s, and 4 miscarriages, we finally depleted our funds and our hopes. But God had a better plan. We adopted our son in 2015 at 4 weeks old. The path was not easy, but for those experiencing the same issues, keep the faith. I wish blessings on your two little ones Ellen!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I was you 16 years ago. My little flickering heart beat is now a beautiful 15 year old with her eye on Broadway. As a Black woman, my husband and I had to turn to IVF to start our family and unfortunately, 16 years ago it was looked upon by our community as taboo. We we told to let God be God and if He wanted us to have children then it would be done. Times have changed, but I feel IVF and any assisted reproductive methods are still hidden and sometimes looked at as something “bad” within the Black community. So I thank you so much for sharing your story. Women of color need to know that it’s okay to seek medical assistance for infertility. We deserve to have the same opportunities as other communities to start and grow our families. It’s not taboo. It’s just as much of a miracle as any other conception. I cried as I read your words because I can remember having to look at that pregnancy stick countless times and crying because the little pink line wasn’t there. I wish you and your family the best . Your husband is awesome! Such a blessing to have twins. To God be the glory.

  7. To God be the glory! I’m so happy for you and Bakari! I will continue to trust God for your success! God is faithful and He will continue to bless you!

  8. Congratulations on your little blessings. We suffered with infertility and miscarriage too. It was such a trying time.

    I commend you on having faith through it all and I celebrate your new joy!

  9. Reading your story brought back so many memories. After “unexplained infertility,” we decided to go the open adoption route. I am the proud mom to a beautiful 17 year old young man. But, I will never forget the journey we took to parenthood. My very best wishes for a safe and healthy delivery. God Bless!

  10. Congratulations to both of you. May you be blessed with an uneventful pregnancy and two healthy babies. These babies are so blessed to have parents who really want them. You will make wonderful parents . Kai will be an excellent big sister. I am truly happy for you. God bless you.
    ❤️ Sylvia Hutchings

  11. Thank you for sharing your journey!! Congratulations!! I too have had several failed fertility treatments. After 7 years of trying, we finally got pregnant au naturale in March 2018 only to lose my baby 9 weeks later. I haven’t even been able to talk about it, but after reading your story I have hope! I pray that God wraps His arms around you and those prexipsu babies and you have a stress free, complication free pregnancy and delivery!!

  12. This story is so heartwarming. I’m traveling home from work on the train balling my eyes out. I’m praying for you, Bakari and Kai. It’s your time and God is right there with the assist.

  13. Just a transparent story. Thank you for sharing! Prayers and blessings for a safe and healthy delivery.

  14. You are a blessing! I admire you both. God will continue to guide and protect you and your babies. I will pray for a successful pregnancy and delivery. Thanks for sharing.

  15. So happy for you and Bakari. I’m standing in the gap with you and Bakari and standing on faith in God you will have an awesome, and healthy pregnancy. You will have a stress free delivery. You will have two healthy babies!

  16. Congratulations to you, Bakari and Kai! Thank you for sharing your story Ellen. May God continue to bless your family throughout this journey!

  17. As I read your story it was almost the same as mine. IVF didn’t work for me then one day I got pregnant and she stayed. After 2 ectopic pregnancies and a couple of miscarriages it is taxing. And we don’t talk about it because we don’t think it’s happening to anyone else
    I wish your family nothing but the best. Enjoy your pregnancy and look forward to hearing about their arrival.

  18. You have an amazing story and are a remarkable woman .Your strength is inspiring and you and Bakari will be strong together, Kai a loving sister.Thank you for sharing it makes my heart smile for you all.

  19. Omg I’m so happy for you thank you for sharing this journey I been watching you since you and your sisters show and when I first saw Bakari on CNN I knew who he was I’m happy for him as well he is a great man and truly loves his wife I pray these baby angels bring your family so much joy we are touching and agreeing that our God will take care of you and the twins God bless??

  20. Ellen, I am so happy for you and I have being praying for you all. You know that I know your story oh too well. May God continue to bless your pregnancy and those two much wanted and prayed for bundles of joy. Call me if you need anything and twins are true blessings but handfuls! ❤️

  21. Congratulations!! God is amazing!! My prayers for you and your growing family. My husband and I also struggle with infertility. 2 failed IUIs and preparing for our first IVF. Thank you for sharing your story. I agree with earlier comments about the shame associated with infertility and especially for African American women. The assumption is that we are all fertile Myrtles, lol. My sorority sister Rev. Stacey Edwards Dunn started a foundation Fertility for Colored Girls (FFCG.org) specifically for women of color struggling in this journey. We have a weekly prayer call, support group meetings, prayer partners, fundraisers, etc. I am sharing this to let you and others who have posted know that we are not alone and God is always working in our favor. Happy to share more about the org for anyone interested. Congratulations again and cannot wait to see pictures of your 2 beautiful babies!
    God Bless!!

  22. Im so happy for you Ellen K. Dwan and I had a difficult time getting pregnant and had consulted a fertility specialist…but little did we know Dakota was in my stomach already! So we never did make it to our 2nd appt. ….I love you and look foward to meeting the twins xoxo

  23. May the good Lord continue to bless you and your family during this time of abundant joy. Enjoy every moment, you have received a double blessing. Thank you for sharing your wonderful transparent story. God bless you.

  24. Ellen.. God’s timing is not our timing. Enjoy your wonderful blessings.. Wake up every morning knowing that you have another day behind you…And before you know it those beautiful babies will be in the loving arms of you and Bakari….Cant wait to see the pictures in January…Blessed. Ellen M. Burrell

  25. This gives me so much hope!!! I’ve just got to trust God’s plan & timing. Thanks for sharing your story. I’ve always admired you & your sisters. Your reality show was amazing with a fresh prescriptive on mature, professional black women, who happened to be my sorors ?? whom all had fulfilling lives. Your story on the show appealed to me most because it seemed we were living the same kind of life with a long courtship & now infertility. You showed so much strength & grace that you became a role model to me. Now I’m standing in the gap for you, claiming a wonderful stress free pregnancy & beautiful healthy babies in the coming months. God bless you sis!!

  26. Ellen,
    Thank you for sharing this. Matt and I had a miscarriage in February and are dealing with some of the same issues trying to conceive again. It is hard in so many ways, but your story gives hope. I love u and I pray for a healthy pregnancy and delivery for the twins. – Candice

  27. So happy for you all…grateful you both came through all of the trials victoriously. Continue to grow in love daily. Stay positive, speak positive and be positive. Thanks for sharing Ellen. What a blessing! “Double for your troubles” Isaiah 61:7 Because you got a double dose of trouble and more than your share of contempt, Your inheritance in the land will be doubled and your joy go on forever. Love you all!

  28. Inspiring story. Thanks so much for sharing it is helpful to those who are struggling to keep the faith. Blessing to you, your little ones and your family!

  29. May I just say what a comfort to find someone that actually understands what they are discussing on the
    net. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and
    make it important. More people really need to check this out and understand this side of the story.
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  30. Congratulations to you all and we pray that God will continue to do what he does best bless. Thanks for sharing your story because someone needed to hear your testimony. That is what God want us to do share and help someone else alone the way. Looking forward to hearing good things abt your continued pregnancy. We r so excited for you and your family. God bless

  31. Thank you for sharing!!. This has given me hope. I have been married for 14 years, and my husband and I are embarking on the IVF journey as well. It’s overwhelming and you really have to stand on faith and the word of God to give you peace & strength during this process. This has tested our marriage and also made me think this wasn’t in the cards for me. I’m so thankful that you shared your journey, challenges and now blessings with us. There are many women who deal with Infertility and the road block of the financial obligations of IVF but I know that God will grant me the desires of my heart as he has done for you & many others. I pray that God will continue to bless your marriage and this pregnancy. Congratulations…you have really blessed me Mrs. Ellen & I thank you.

  32. Ellen… My husband and I are old friends of Ruby and Ford. So, we might have met in the past. Your story is amazing… God’s grace and glory! I helped a dear friend through IVF. She was my technician. And, EVERY morning I administered her shot. I waited with her for the results. So, I’m very familiar with the ups and downs, since I thought of her embryos as mine! Then, I was there the day she delivered. She now has two beautiful girls in college. I say all this to say, “Enjoy this journey!” There are people that are very happy for you that you don’t even know! ? Bakari and Ellen… God is good all the time! ?
    ~Rhonda Swann

  33. Ellen,
    Thank you for sharing your story. I was touched reading it. Congratulations to you and Bakari.
    God is giving you double for your trouble. You prayed and kept the faith. May God continue to bless you and your beautiful family.

  34. Congratulations to you and your husband. I pray that God continues to bless you and your family during this journey. I’m not sure how old it is, but I just watched Oprah interview D. Wade and Gabrielle Union Wade. They were having problems getting pregnant also and the struggle that you and Gabrielle explained is soooooooo REAL!! Doctors appointments, giving blood, taking shots, taking pills, taking vitamins…. SHEESH!! I don’t know you personally, but I want you to know how proud I am of you and how courageous you are not only going through all of that but being transparent to the world about your situation. I also want you to know that you and Gabrielle give me hope that maybe soon God will bless me with a good man so that I can get married and have babies. Again, may God bless you and keep you and your family. With Kind Regards…. Nina

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