I was born in California, but attended middle and high school in Colorado so I really claim that as my home state.
How many children do you have?
Two. I have a 6 year old daughter and a 3 year old son.
Why did you start the Carissa Miss Shop?
Well, long story short, my two miracle babies are my world and my heart hurts for anyone who struggles with finding answers for why they can't have children.
When we got married in 2008 we wanted to start a family right away. After 6 months I discovered I didn't ovulate each month. We visited a family physician who prescribed me progesterone to kick-start a period and hopefully ovulation. After 6 months and still no ovulation we knew we needed to try something different. In November 2010 I started on the lowest dose of Clomid and we found out it was successful on Christmas 2010 and we were pregnant with our first.
The pregnancy began with intense cramping and there was a large cyst that eventually went away and we didn't think anything of it since it's not that uncommon.
Did you realize you had cyst before the pregnancy?
I didn't realize that I had cysts before my pregnancy but looking back I can see that I did experience them though I had no clinical diagnosis.
At 30 weeks they discovered I was no longer increasing in my external measurements so they did a quick measurement ultrasound and baby girl was measuring behind schedule. I was put on immediate bedrest and we started visiting with the perinatologist who discovered my placenta was not delivering adequate nutrition to the baby.
Were you fearful when you heard that news?
I was kind of in shock that this happened to me. I was eating healthy and was exercising and had never really heard of a placental abruption so I really didn't know how significant it was until later. My mother-in-law is a labor nurse and she answered all my questions and quickly reassured me throughout the process and I knew she would be there to help if something happened so I wasn't too nervous.
Then what happened?
After 2 weeks of bedrest we did another ultrasound and she was improving so they decided to go another 2 weeks. I was not able to even push a vacuum! Twice a week I had Non-Stress Tests to make sure she was still kicking. I made it to 39 weeks and then they induced my labor.
Eliza Kaye was born on August 31, 2010. Healthy and happy.
Fast forward to the fall of 2011 and I had a painful cyst rupture. I visited the ER and they confirmed the rupture and sent me home after helping me feel comfortable until the pain passed. My OBGYN suggested I stop taking my current oral birth control since it wasn't preventing cysts and we were okay if we got pregnant since we were planning to try Clomid again the following April. I had another painful cyst rupture in March and when I called my prescription for Clomid in they reminded me to take a pregnancy test before starting and it was positive!
What were your thoughts when you found out you were pregnant without Clomid?
We knew it was meant to be and that the timing was what the Lord had for us. It was so surprising! We thought that planning for more children would be easy since it worked so well this time.
I was induced again and after a very easy and quick labor Jens Edward was born on December 5, 2013.
We felt like our family wasn't complete so we tried Clomid one more time in October 2015. Unfortunately, I had existing cysts that caused the hyperstimulation to cause an ovarian apoplexy (my ovaries ruptured and I was bleeding internally) and I had an emergency laparoscopy. They saved my ovaries but they continue to produce cysts at a dangerous rate making any more stimulation a much higher risk of another apoplexy. From all the cysts rupturing and my surgery, my Fallopian tubes are blocked by scar tissue so natural conception is no longer a feasible option.
Our plan is to try in-vitro fertilization in the future!
Have the cyst stopped forming?
The cysts are only controlled by taking hormones to try and suppress any ovulatory activity. Unfortunately the cysts still form and I have no idea when they might rupture.
PCOS is not curable but I'm still hopeful for more children.
Your shop donates all of its proceeds to Footsteps for Fertility foundation. What is that and why did you choose to do this?
I knew when I started the business I wanted to donate all the proceeds because I couldn't find any resources when I was struggling. I thought I might start my own non-profit but then I talked to my friend who actually won a round of IVF through Footsteps for Fertility. I contacted them and asked if I could donate my proceeds to their non-profit. They were excited and enthusiastic to work with me and hopefully spread awareness. They put on 5k races around the country where hopeful parents can submit their entries to a raffle and get family members to sign up on their race team. After the fun run a winner of a round of IVF is randomly chosen as well as $5000 grant recipients. We both have similar goals so it was a very natural fit.
What is your advice for anyone who has infertility issues?
My advice would be to not struggle alone and trust your instincts. It is not something you're doing wrong or something in your control. If you feel like something's off, don't hesitate to reach out to a reproductive specialist. I could've avoided a lot of pain and suffering if I would have sought help at the first sign of trouble.
Check out this look and many more adorable dresses at Carissa's shophere.