BLAINE, Minn. – After trying to conceive a child for a decade, a new mother from Blaine is sharing her journey of infertility, turning her pain into a worldwide mission to connect women facing similar circumstances.
Chelsea Ritchie, 32, launched a “Trying to Conceive (TTC) Mug Exchange” project, pairing women in similar stages of infertility across the globe in 40 countries. Women send one another care packages with coffee mugs and other personal gifts, a token of comfort, that often spurs a friendship. The project rose from her infertility blog, Trials Bring Joy.
“People from Scotland sending to people in New Zealand, people from Australia, sending to someone in Kansas, Canada, and Mexico. They may not speak the same language, but they speak the same language,” said Ritchie. “Before you know it, we have thousands of people all around the world saying, me too: I’m struggling, I’m lonely, this is so hard, my family doesn’t understand.”
The couple’s trial, brought twice the joy after 10 years. Chelsea and her husband Josh now have 5-month-old twins, Logan and Kirsten. But before their arrival, they suffered from two miscarriages and four failed IVF cycles.
They underwent a successful 5th IVF cycle at the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine in Minneapolis, where medical director Dr. April Batcheller used a unique protocol to address Chelsea’s polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS.
“It’s quite under-diagnosed and there are a lot of things we can do for patients with PCOS, but it’s trial and error too, so my message would be, don’t give up, there’s always hope,” said Dr. Batcheller.
Hope was always part of Ritchie’s plan, using her mug exchange and blog to see beyond her circumstance.
“I just had to keep clinging to the hope that out of this trial, good will come,” she said. “This is a whole lot of heart healing. I feel really grateful.”
Their twins were born just under 34 weeks but are now growing and thriving. The Ritchies brought the twins back to the CCRM clinic in Edina to introduce them to doctors and staff and express their gratitude.
“There is something special about holding a baby you didn’t think you were going to get to have,” said Josh Ritchie.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, shining a light on the one in eight couples that suffer from infertility.
Learn more about Chelsea’s blog and mug exchange here.