#NIAW: Pediatric Sleep Consultant Ashley Rizzo on IVF, 2 Sets of Twins, & Why She Loves Sleep

Mama to 2 sets of twins, yes 2!, just 15 months apart, Ashley Rizzo and pediatric sleep consultant at Well Rested Baby is grateful for the years long struggle it took to get them. In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, she shares her immense gratitude for the process and what it has taught her about parenting, life, and…the importance of good sleep for the whole fam. Her only regret? Not asking for help sooner, to help untangle the uncertainty and emotions that come with trying to conceive. 

Find her @wellrestedbaby and here.

What did your journey look like to starting a family? And where are you now?

Our journey started three years before we were lucky enough to conceive.  There was waiting for things to fall into place because surely we could get pregnant on our own. We couldn’t so there was waiting while we tried those ovulation kits and more waiting whiling we tried these more high tech ovulation tests.  There was waiting while we climbed the ladder of assisted reproduction – using stims, IUI’s, and finally IVF where we were lucky enough to create viable embryos – three of which would become part of our family of two sets of twins!

Your first set of twins — what was your reaction? How did you feel about hearing the news that you were having twins?

Having transferred two embryos, we knew having twins was a possibility!  When they confirmed it was two – I wasn’t scared or shocked or worried. I felt incredibly lucky and at peace. It felt right and I knew all of our waiting was for this exact moment.

And then hearing you were going to have a 2nd pair?

Honestly, I was in shock and so were the doctors! We had only transferred one embryo so it was a bit of a mystery where the second little one came from.  That is, until they were able to confirm during our ultrasound that we had conceived naturally at the exact same time. It was clear to us that both of our babies were meant to be and each a miracle in their own way!

That’s not to say I never felt overwhelmed, but as moms do, I forged forward through a difficult pregnancy, a less than ideal birth, and raising four kids who were at the time under 15 months! I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to raise each and every one of them.

What do you think the biggest misconception is regarding infertility?

I think there are two big misconceptions regarding infertility:
1.     That it isn’t common –You are not alone in this struggle. 1 in 8 couple struggle to conceive! There are so many wonderful, strong, warrior mamas-in-waiting with similar stories. They will bond with you and fight this battle with you if let them!
2.     That it shouldn’t be talked about – I think it’s so important to share our stories! You never know who is listening and needing a bit of inspiration.  That inspiration may come in the form of not feeling like they’re alone or maybe it will be hope that their story will have a happy ending. Whatever it may be, inspiration is a beautiful gift to give someone.

Did the fertility journey teach you anything about motherhood?

“You are the mother your children need.” It is a line you come across on greeting cards and in collections of inspirational quotes.  It is also a line I deeply believe! I waited all those year for my babies – I am the mom they need and they are meant to be mine.

What resources do you wish you would’ve had to feel more confident and supported during your struggles?

With the range of emotions, anxiety, and I’ll say it, depression, that comes with battling infertility there is no doubt in my mind that I could have benefited from working with a maternal mental health specialist.  Someone who could help me untangle and navigate the range of emotions is invaluable at any stage in life, but especially when you’re in a season that is so trying both mentally and physically.

How do you think your experience with infertility and subsequent treatment inform your approach to sleep consulting?

Having been through so much to have my family, I think their tears may weigh a bit heavier on my heart. I take this with me in my practice as tears are unfortunately a part of sleep training.  When a fellow mom expresses concern for their children’s sadness, I feel their worry in my own heart and I think resonates in our personalized approach! We need to take care of mamas so they can take care of their beautiful babies.

Your biggest piece of advice to women out there struggling to conceive, especially during this difficult time when many treatments are on pause?

It is so hard to have faith in the moment or to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know, I have been there, but being on the other side I can say with confidence that you are waiting for a reason. You are waiting for exactly the ending you are meant to have and in time, when you are at the end, you will be so glad you waited.

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