After multiple losses and procedures throughout the years and being told that she had a less than 5% chance of having a viable pregnancy, Jake got pregnant via egg donation from a younger family member.
While Jake had several issues during her pregnancy, she ultimately gave birth to her beautiful baby girl at the age of 51 years old, with an amazing support team comprised of her OB, doula, and holistic advisor.
To hear more, tune in to this episode for Jake’s entire “Pregnancy after 40” Journey and Story.
For more information on Jake, visit: www.TheJakeTake.com and/or her social media pages on Facebook and Instragram ______________________________________________________________________
For additional Pregnancy After 40 resources, please visit: www.PregnancyAfterForty.com
"50 Fertility Tips for Women Over 40 TTC" visit: www.PregnancyAfterForty.com/fertilitytips
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Disclaimer: The content in this podcast episode article is merely the host’s and guest’s experience, opinion, and information - not advice. If you have questions, you should always seek the advice of a doctor or another appropriate medical professional.
Jake Willis [00:52]: Oh, thank you so, much for having me, Michelle.
Michelle Johnson [00:54]: Of course. So, yeah, I like really want to get into this story, because you've got some juicy things in here. So, 51, you know, that's, you know, probably the oldest that we've had someone in the group having a baby. So, you know, we have women who are, of course, 40, but 45, 47, 48, late 40s. I'm definitely looking for some encouragement, and you are definitely the face of that encouragement. So, let me start off by asking how old you are now and how old your daughter is?
Jake Willis [01:25]: I am 55. And Avalon is, she just turned 4 in January.
Michelle Johnson [01:31]: Okay. Also, so, tell us about your journey from basically you had your first child at 47. No, I'm sorry, 51. You started trying around 47 or so.
Jake Willis [01:43]: Yeah. It took us 4 years.
Michelle Johnson [01:45]: Okay. So, but you had your whole life before that. So, tell me how you and your husband got together and how it came to be at 47 before you started trying?
Jake Willis [01:57]: Okay. All right, so, first of all, if anyone would have told me, even, you know, like, 9 years ago, that this would have been my life path, I would have left them out of town. I had made peace with the fact that I was probably just going to be that, you know, the fun Aunt, and that there are more if there's more than one way, you know, one right way to get through life and that I was very dedicated to my career. And that's what I, you know, chose kind of inadvertently, I never, it was never a part of my, you know, my MO to say I'm not going to have children, like some people just decide, I don't want that for myself. I never pictured myself without, you know, not being a mother. But my career was moving, I was in the music industry, it was moving so, quickly that I just kind of woke up, you know, at 40 and went, Wow, okay. And then at that point, I think I kind of mourned the fact that I didn't go down that path. But I wasn't in a relationship necessarily, during, you know, some of that time.
So, anyway, it was just all of this is really, it is a phenomenal story. So, my husband just to back up, I met my husband over 30 years ago, in a band, he was 19. And I was 20 something and we joined a gospel band out of California, you know, he and I traveled together fell in love. But we were both so, young, that we went our separate ways. You know, there were a lot of things involved in that separation. But it was just like; you know, love, yes. But you know when you're 19 and 20, it's just kind of like, life is out there. You don't know what you want. So, we separated but we always remained each other's person, like he was the person that I called, you know, whenever anything happened, and vice versa. He went on to experience incredible fame, as basically the first voice of David Guetta in the EDM world. And I went on, and started a country trio based out of Canada, which is where I'm from.
And we both traveled and experienced great success in our musical careers. I traveled with him whenever he went overseas to do award shows and fabulous, you know, performances and we just always stayed in touch. But beyond staying in touch, we still had those moments at the airport where we'd say goodbye, and it would be like, oh, why does it feel this way to separate? This is crazy. So, in the middle of all that I did marry my drummer in the country band, which you know what, we don't even need to talk about that because everyone knows you don't marry your drummer. Right.
Michelle: I didn't know that, but okay!
Jake: Duh, and I just want to insert in this part, right in this general area here that I did. And the more I tell this story, the more I realized that this is an important part for women out there who are trying. At one point during that marriage, to my drummer, we kind of thought, ooh, we are we're getting up there. So, we tried to have a baby naturally in my mid-30s. It didn't work.
So, we went and had some counseling and did some treatments with the...not IVF. But the artificial...the AI, the artificial insemination, I was still creating like, you know, a plethora of eggs at that point. But it didn't work. And it didn't feel right. And it just, it's like, we abandoned the mission, about 3 out of 6 treatments. They said that I had a blocked fallopian tube, but there was just so, many things that I said at that point like this feels too forced, it doesn't feel right. So, I wanted to mention that, and I think it's important to the story, because at 35 I had fertility treatments, and it didn't pan out. So, what would make me think at 50, you know what I'm saying? It makes the success of what we did to me even more, you know, even more powerful. So, Christopher and I, I guess it's been about 8 years ago now decided, you know, we were on the phone and he's just like, what do you want? You know, I know what I want. I want a family. I want to have a family with you. I want you to be the mother of my children. And I laughed at that point. I'm like, okay, dude, like, you know, how many years have passed, right? I know we look good, but...
Michelle Johnson [06:34]: Right.
Jake Willis [06:35]: Very right. Haha, you know, but, you know, he stopped me in my tracks and I really, you know, consider like, what do I want? And, you know, I called him back like the next day and I said, I want the same thing. And within one month, I was living in Toronto working for an event company. At that point, I tendered my resignation, I packed up a bunch of my stuff, sold the rest, and I moved to Atlanta. And we started working on immigration and went directly to a fertility, in search of a fertility doctor, right out of the gate. And the reason we did that is because we understood, you know, we understood where I was in my physical body. And so, we weren't waiting, we found out that yes, I could carry a baby. And we agreed that that was something we wanted to do. We didn't even investigate the egg situation in my body, because we realized that we had some decisions to make. Did we want to take the time to see if there were any rogue eggs floating around in there? And if there were, what are the chances that we would come up against some pretty major health issues? And so, we made a decision at the very, very onset of our journey that we were going to go the route of an egg donor.
Michelle Johnson [07:54]: Okay, so, at that point, how old were you and how old was Chris?
Jake Willis [07:58]: Okay, so, he...So, I would have been 46 when we started that because it was full 4 years before I got pregnant. And Chris is to two and a half years younger than me.
Michelle Johnson [08:15]: Okay, so, about 40, 43, 44 for Chris, 46 for you?
Jake Willis [08:19]: Yeah.
Michelle Johnson [08:20]: Okay. So, okay, prior to this, had you ever had any miscarriages? Have you ever gotten pregnant or had any miscarriages prior to being 46 or trying?
Jake Willis [08:29]: No.
Michelle Johnson [08:30]: Okay, were your cycles still regular?
Jake Willis [08:34]: You know, my cycles have never been regular.
Michelle Johnson [08:36]: Okay.
Jake Willis [08:37]: But relatively so. And I was on the pill for a good portion of my life. So, at that point, they were regular, but when I stopped taking the pill, they were you know, I wasn't one of those girls who was like, boom, on the day it starts. So, but yes, I was still having them, you know, with some regularity. So, that, you know, that was one of the questions...and one of the things during the treatment that was always kind of a breath holder, because we couldn't start an IVF cycle until I started my cycle. We couldn't get ready for a transfer until my cycle started. Which is where our Integrative Doctor and Master of Chinese medicine Dr. Kim was just like, you know, because I go to him and be freaking out. I'm not starting my period, what are, you know what? And you know, everyone tells you to relax, right? Which is the last thing...
Michelle Johnson [09:27]: You can’t.
Jake Willis [09:28]: That you feel capable of.
Michelle Johnson [09:30]: Right.
Jake Willis [09:31]: But he would say, okay, you know, he would always have something and be like, okay, go home and take two bunches of parsley and throw them in your juicer and you know, and did them like shots and the next day, my period would start.
Michelle Johnson [09:43]: Wow.
Jake Willis [09:44]: Like, I'm telling you, one of the, you know, the secret weapons that we had, and we had many, we surrounded ourselves with some really amazing people. But Dr. Kim was he and Jeannie, his sidekick who was the body mind part of the you know the whole organization work together with our people in New York at Langone and the Fertility Center. Matter of fact, Dr. Kim researched Dr. Licciardi, Frederick, Frederick Licciardi, who's the head of the egg donation department at Langone in New York. And, you know, researched him and how he treats and complimented his, you know, his methods with the Chinese medicine and Dr. Kim's brilliance.
Michelle Johnson [10:31]: Okay, so, you went to the fertility specialist specialists from day 1at 46. Were you given any statistics, any real numbers? Any like this, like numbers or, you know, expectations, what were you told at your initial consult?
Jake Willis [10:50]: Initial consult they said we need to be I mean, you're in great shape for your age, you know, that that always followed, right?
Michelle Johnson [10:58]: Right.
Jake Willis [10:59]: You're in great shape. And, you know, I was really working out, I was, you know, I mean, I was in good physical condition. But they said, between 5 and 10% chance of this working. Yeah. So, we left our first, you know, our first consultation, it was kind of like, huh, and Chris, I have to say, he was amazing. He's like, what 5%? Yeah, it's not. Right.
Michelle Johnson [11:30]: That's awesome.
Jake Willis [11:31]: Yeah.
Michelle Johnson [11:32]: That's awesome. Okay, so, tell us from there, how many treatments you have, because you had several, you had several transfers and failed transfers a miscarriage.
Jake Willis [11:43]: Yeah.
Michelle Johnson [11:44]: So, tell us, you know, at that point, what happened? What your journey was?
Jake Willis [11:47]: Okay. So, our journey at that point, we were still looking at their catalogue of egg donors. And it was, you know, I got to say, it was weird. It was like, you go through this catalog. And it's like, you put in all the attributes that you want, and basically, we're trying to clone meat. So, you know, my Russian German background, you know, 5 foot 8 and hazel eyes, and you know, you put in all of these qualifications, and then hit enter, and then these videos come up, and these girls are there. And I was like, nope, nope, hell no, no. Absolutely, no. And Chris is like, Jake, you're going to have to, like, loosen the grip a little here. You know, I mean, we've got to choose someone. And I'm like, and I kept feeling like, I have a 25-year-old niece, Savannah, close to my heart, we're very close. And I used to take her on the road with me all the time, in my Avian. And I just kept saying, you know, I just...I feel like if I want to do this, I want a little DNA skin in the game, too.
Michelle Johnson [12:47]: Right.
Jake Willis [12:47]: So, he said, I just feel like it's too weird. What's it going to be like, at Christmas time? Is it going to be strange that she's your brother's daughter's A, D, Ah O, Ah, O? And we went through that, and finally, he was like, you know what? I get it. Okay, let's ask her. But first, we went to my brother and sister-in-law, because we're a very close family. And I'm like, if they're going to be freaked at all about this, we're not even going to go there. We'll go back to the videos. But I called my brother and sister-in-law, they were Absolutely thrilled. So, you know, first of all, the fact that Chris and I were back together. I mean, my whole family was just delighted and thrilled for me, so, the support was there, called Savannah. And before I even had the question all the way out of my mouth. She was like, yes, Auntie, anything you want.
So, she moved from Vancouver down to Atlanta, she lived with us for about three or four months while we kind of prepped her and went into the egg retrieval process. The egg retrieval process was, you know, normally there's around 8 to 10 eggs that they could harvest. She gave us 17, we decided to go the route of having them frozen, and tested further to make sure that chromosomally, not sure if that's a word or not, but...
Michelle Johnson [14:01]: We understand.
Jake Willis [14:04]: Sound, so, we ended up with 7 embryos, at that point, so, 7 frozen embryos, and then she went back to Canada, and then our physical work started. Now, I have to say before that we started acupuncture and that kind of work with Dr. Kim and Christopher also, this is something that I really want to stress. So, many people think this is just the job of the woman. Right. You know, I mean, we're the only ones who need to be treated. We're the only ones who need to go to the doctor's appointments, we're the only, you know, I mean, that mindset when we went to Dr. Kim, he's like very much. I would like to treat you both, I would like for Christopher to be going...even though we were doing you know the transfer and all that and his work was done early on. But still treating him with acupuncture and keeping a mindset mentality, and a health mentality between both of us. Having him there, he went to every appointment that he could, there were a couple where he was, you know, performing overseas. But truthfully, where the mate can be there, it is so, powerful to have that kind of involvement. So, I began and you know, Chris and I both being very type A human beings, we just thought we're going to, you know, pay our money. I'm going to give myself my shots, and bingo, bango. Here's our baby. Four years later, and one miscarriage and of course, five failed transfers. And truthfully, the failed transfers for me were just as devastating and painful as the miscarriage was.
Michelle Johnson [15:51: Right.
Jake Willis [15:52]: Yeah, it really, really was. You know, I just would never forget waiting for that phone call. So, we had RBA here in Atlanta, where we would get our testing done, so, we would go to New York to our doctor and have the transfers completed, and then we hang out there for a few days. You just kind of let the dust settle and then come home and then any of the tests after that were through RBA, then they are just amazing. What an amazing group. Oh my gosh. Yeah, so, we started with the first one was a failed transfer. And I think that was probably the most shocking one. We were both just stunned. It was right before Christmas. And we were just like, whoa, it never occurred to us that it wouldn't just work the first time, which, you know, it's funny looking back, because we had been warned, you know, it's funny how people love to tell you their horror stories, right?
It's like, oh, yeah, I had a friend who went through all these women, and they spent their life savings and still no baby. And we're just like, oh, that was a delightful story. I really wanted to, you know, emphasize that anything that you hear like that, just set it aside, because we have proof of what the body, mind can do when you have your mind set on the goals and you're surrounded by some amazing, you know, medical people and just really, really, really keep the view on the positive. And you know, I attribute our success largely to the mindset that both Chris and I had going in this whole process.
Michelle Johnson [17:32]: Right. So, at what point did your miscarriage occur in the midst of the transfer? So, that was a successful transfer, but you ended up miscarrying. What point was that, is that 1, 2, 3?
Jake Willis [17:44]: Okay, so, it was at week 7.
Michelle Johnson [17:47]: Okay.
Jake Willis [17:48]: And I started to bleed profusely, so, of course, went into the doctor all panicked, and they sent me for an ultrasound. And the day after the ultrasound, I miscarried. Now there's lots of conversation around this. But we were advised to hold off the next time on the ultrasound before the first trimester is over. Now, again, I'm not a doctor, and I'm not advising anyone, I'm just telling you what our story was. There is lots of talk about, now, I don't know if you've heard about this, but there's lots of talk about the fact that ultrasound is like a train. Sounds like a train going through, you know, it's a sound, it's a sound wave. And in the beginning part, you know, when the embryo was trying to implant that may be something that could disrupt the process. And we'll never know if that was what happened or if that, you know, whatever it was, that's, you know, that's how things rolled out. And so, the next time we got pregnant, and we told our doctors, we weren't interested in having an ultrasound until the first trimester was over, they just looked at as, like, what? But you know, this is the part of taking control of your own treatment and saying, you know, what, this is how I feel, if it's not going to affect, like, what is that ultrasound going to tell me that my body's not going to tell me in a couple of weeks, if it's what you think it is?
Michelle Johnson [19:14]: Right.
Jake Willis [19:15]: Are we doing this just to know or is it really important for my health and the health of baby? So, you know, these are just some of the things that we learned along the way. And so, when we finally did get pregnant with embryo number 6, we didn't have an ultrasound for the entire first trimester.
Michelle Johnson [19:36]: That's really interesting, because you know, so, many women, especially when you're trying, you're over 40 and you find out you have a positive test, like you want to get into the doctor's office, like ASAP and then because I see so, many posts and questions like hey, my doctor won't see me until eight weeks like and women are like freaking out like is this normal? And it's just interesting because you know, you want to see, you want confirmation, especially if you've had other losses. So, I think that's a really interesting thing like that. And that has not come up in conversation or post before. So, that's really interesting, you know, to put that out there as something just kind of, you know, waiting because you're right, it doesn't change the result of what's going to happen, or what’s not going to happen.
Jake Willis [20:16]: No. And that's what you know, that's what we were advised. It's like, okay, so, if you don’t have it, what is the outcome? And if you do have it, what are the dangers of the outcome? You know, so, if, you know if, in fact, if it was not a viable pregnancy, your body's going to tell you at some point.
Michelle Johnson [20:39]: 20:40 Right, you know. Right. Yeah
Jake Willis [20:41]: So, yeah, so, that was just that was our choice on that one. But it was a tough first trimester because when you have treatments, you know, for me to prepare the womb, there was a lot of injections, there was a lot of medication to thicken the lining. So, that lining has to go somewhere, so, when I got pregnant the second time on the 6th transfer, and I started spotting and bleeding, and then I proceeded to spot and bleed for the whole entire first trimester. Which, you know, I mean, let's face it, a pregnant woman with blood coming from that part of the body is just like, there's never a moment you're like, oh, I'm at peace with that. Never.
Michelle Johnson [21:19]: Right.
Jake Willis [21:21]: It's, you know, I mean, I lived on guided meditations, and you know, but there's nothing that changes that feeling of going to the bathroom and looking and saying, okay, I'm still bleeding. So, every morning woke up, and I couldn't touch my boobs, or I felt like I was going to vomit my brains out. I was so, joyful. Like, I've never been more joyful for those feelings.
Michelle Johnson [21:42]: Right
Jake Willis [21:43]: Because it meant that she was still there.
Michelle Johnson [21:46] Right. Right. I don't know how you dealt with that. But we'll talk about that in a minute. Because...
Jake Willis [21:51]: Okay, okay.
Michelle Johnson 21:52
Anyone who you know, listen to my story. They know my last pregnancy, and I had a subchorionic hemorrhage and so, I was bleeding and but the whole pregnancy like I was just like, on edge, like many women are, especially because I had a miscarriage before then. And like, every time you go to the bathroom, you're wiping, so, I'm going to the bathroom, you know wiping just like, hoping, you know there's nothing there. But the fact that you're constantly wiping and looking for pink or brown or ...
Jake Willis [22:18]: That totally just gave me shivers when you say it like...
Michelle Johnson [22:20]: I'm sorry.
Jake [Willis 22:21]: No, you're forgotten about these things. So, it's true, the wiping.
Michelle Johnson [22:26]: Yeah, every time you go to the bathroom, it's horrible. It's oh my gosh, because it can cause so, much anxiety. And it did for me. So, did you do any genetic testing within the first trimester? I know you didn't do the ultrasound with your daughter. What about the testing? Any additional testing.
Jake Willis [22:41]: No.
Michelle Johnson [22:42]: You didn't do any of that?
Jake Willis [22:43]: No, no.
Michelle Johnson [22:44]: What was your reason for not doing that?
Jake Willis [22:46]: Well, first of all, the embryos, we had tested extensively. And so, we knew that you know, chromosomally and all that, that they, you know, but it's amazing, like the test that they can do on the embryo now, without being invasive. Like they take a cell from the outer layer of the fluid, and they can tell if they're predisposed to breast cancer, like it’s crazy.
Michelle Johnson [23:11]: Right.
Jake Willis [23:12]: So, we felt like we had already done that part. And if there was any chance of disrupting or harming the situation that was seemingly going well, we just, we weren't interested. And we felt like we had hedged our bets, and we had been cautious, as much as we could in the beginning. And so, now that we were pregnant, we were trusting that this was what...everything that was unfolding was meant to unfold. So, we just, we had faith at that point, and just let it go. Now, our OBGYN insisted that we see a neonatal specialist after the first trimester, towards the end of the first trimester.
Michelle Johnson [24:02]: Okay.
Jake Willis [24:03]: And so, we did see him, when we started having ultrasounds, that's when we started seeing the neonatal specialists, just because of my age.
Michelle Johnson [24:13]: Right.
Jake Willis [24:14]: I'm a high risk and the fact that they kept calling me geriatric.
Michelle Johnson [24:17]: Oh, they call all of us, geriatric.
Jake Willis [24:19]: I know. And I'm just like, there's got to be something better.
Michelle Johnson [24:24]: Yeah. I saw some paperwork like after I don't know, must have been like, towards the end of my pregnancy, you know, after. Yeah, towards the end my last pregnancy and it seems like senior pregnancy or something like that. And I was like, what the hell. I was like, I just got used to geriatric pregnancy and then I was like, senior pregnancy like, but it’s okay. Forget it. I'm done.
Jake Willis [24:48]: Yeah.
Michelle Johnson [24:49]: So, listen, 4 years is a long time to try to conceive. You know, for four months is a long time for some people, you know, even four months of like, I'm trying, you know, waiting for, you know, my period to come or not come taking a pregnancy test is negative, like after four months it can get very frustrating. So, you did it for four years, and I know you did some things in between. You mentioned yoga, but what do you attribute your mindset, your ability to keep on trying and being positive and hopeful that it is still happen?
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Jake Willis [26:18]: Yeah, okay, so, many, many different things and with all of the stuff, like all the yoga and everything really important to make sure that you know...I fell in love the Kundalini pregnancy maternity yoga, all of it needed to be maternity yoga, because yoga, you know, as wonderful as it is there's a lot of twisting and torking and stuff again, you know, you're not just going to hop into an Ashtanga, you know, give her kind of yoga or it could be you know, it can be a problem. So, I did a lot of research. And again, I just I had so, many, like Dr. Kim introduced me to, you know a yoga instructor who was trained in pregnancy yoga. And now when I go online, and go to YouTube and you go to pregnancy yoga, oh, there's just so, many beautiful, free, you know, and Kundalini has a wonderful spirit along with it. So, that part took care of the mind part. And then there was the body strengthening that was a definite power guided meditation. Candace Pert is a woman who is such a rock star of Neurology.
So, she is the one who discovered way back in the day, the opioid receptor, so, she discovered that there are parts of our brain that can literally, you know, make us feel like we've had morphine or opioids. She then developed a series of affirmations and guided meditation for healing and strengthening that is based on musical notes that effect the opening of the receptors of the brain so, that you can input messages of positivity and affirmations. And I lived on them like water and food, because I was so, you know, after four years and a miscarriage and continuing to bleed through the first trimester, I think looking back I may have been on the brink but I was so, competitive and so, you know, focused but I needed to calm it down. And I think that I can speak for all of us out there when I say there are moments when all you need is for that grip on your chest and your throat to release.
And just be able to breathe and say you're okay little one I'm okay and everything's going to be okay. But you know, let's be real a lot of the time it's not you just can't do this. So, I relied on the guided meditations I needed that other voice telling me okay do this, feel this, think this, know this, believe this, faith this and it worked for me. And also, I have a friend who is one of the top coaches with Procter Gallagher. So, Bob Proctor, he has a program called Thinking Results, and part of it deals directly with auto suggestion. So, I have journals upon journals, upon journals that make me look like a crazy person because I've written I'm pregnant with our healthy full-term baby. I'm pretty good and wrote a line after line, after line, 100 lines in the morning, 100 lines at night, every day. I programmed my brain to believe what my outcome was going to be. And I just believe that stuff. So, you know, I mean, a lot of people call it whoa. Yeah, you know what, maybe...
Michelle Johnson [29:58]: But it works for some. I did a podcast; it has not been released yet. Excuse me last week and we recorded and she was an artist. Yes, you know, some years, you know, trying and not being successful. But at one point before she met her husband, she drew a picture. And it was her husband, when she met him, they were apparently uncanny, like the resemblance. And so, they went through that. And then when she was trying to have a baby, finally her husband suggested, why don't you draw a picture of the baby that you see? Yes, and after failed attempts. She drew what she thought was her baby. And then like, the next month, she was pregnant.
Jake Willis [30:35]: Yeah.
Michelle Johnson [30:36]: So, I don't discredit anything. I'm just kind of like, you know, what works for you, works for you.
Jake Willis [30:43]: Yeah.
Michelle Johnson [30:44]: You know. So, whatever brings you peace. So, yes, that's amazing. So, let's talk about your pregnancy yourself, or with your daughter. So, you had a couple issues during pregnancy, ultimately had a healthy baby. But okay, so, we're going into the second trimester. So, they do a lot of testing, especially with our age, they do gestational diabetes is the huge one, which, you know, I hate, it almost seems like, everyone almost seems like no one passes a one-hour glucose test anymore. Like half the people like fail the three hour one. So, what was your experience with gestational diabetes or glucose test?
Jake Willis [31:23]: Okay, well, first of all, it was just crazy. It was like the day that my second trimester started, the bleeding stopped, and it never started again. Closer to the end of my second trimester, when do they usually do that... I'm trying to think now that when they first start doing the glucose tests?
Michelle Johnson [31:45]: So, it depends, if you are relatively in good shape, it might be up, you know, in the 20-week area.
Jake Willis [31:51]: Yeah. I think that’s about what it was.
Michelle Johnson [31:54]: Okay.
Jake Willis [31:55]: But that but yeah, so, I failed. Well, first of all, I couldn't believe what the requirements were leading up to the test. It's like I just couldn't eat all the sugar that they were asking me to eat. I couldn't do it, we don't eat a lot of sugar. And when it was just like this is what you need to have the day before. So, you know, our integrative guys said, no, that's crazy. Don't do it. So, we didn't do that. But I still didn't pass it at all, so, I went in and I had an amazing nutritionist. She said, you know, you're eating a lot of the good stuff, but you're eating it in the wrong order. She said in the morning, I need you, you know, to lay off the fruit and the smoothie and all that stuff. You're starting out your day with sugar, and then you're not eating enough carbs, first of all, and then second of all you need to eat later at night. So, everything that I trained myself to do with over my whole life, she was telling me to do the opposite.
Michelle Johnson [33:05]: Right, right.
Jake Willis [33:06]: And honestly, I'm not even kidding you. By the end of that first day, when I took my blood, everything was back in the levels. So, I never had to do any medication or any insulin or anything like that. And then of course, when Avalon was born, they tested her because they were concerned that, you know, she may possibly have, you know, some of that. And her blood sugar was completely fine, and has been stable. So, I think there's again, a lot of power in the diet for sure.
Michelle Johnson [33:43]: Yeah. Yeah. So, that was, I guess, the halfway point of your pregnancy that you were, I guess, officially diagnosed with gestational diabetes. You're able to control that. When did you find out the sex? Or did you ever find out the sex?
Jake Willis [34:00]: Oh, we knew the sex before the transfer.
Michelle Johnson [34:05]: Oh, really?
Jake Willis [34:06]: So, we knew. Yeah. And yeah, we knew that the embryo was female.
Michelle Johnson [34:11]: Yeah. Okay.
Jake Willis [34:12]: That we knew all along.
Michelle Johnson [34:14]: Okay. Yeah, awesome.
Jake Willis [34:15]: There were a few other things that happened though, that there was the gestational diabetes. Oh, yeah, I had some blood pressure issues started to crop up. And this is where I think my Neonatal guy was just like at the end of his rope with me because I'm like, I just need to go home and do some yoga, when I'm done my yoga, my heart rate and he's like, Look, lady. And you know, and I have to say, I am grateful. I am so, grateful that they kept an eye on me like they did. Because as we know that you know that blood pressure can turn into...preeclampsia can turn into eclampsia can turn into a disaster in skinny minutes.
And I think I was really pressing for everything to be natural, which is why I'm so, glad that I had the balance. I had my Doula, she's, of course pushing for the natural vaginal delivery. I've got my OBGYN, who's just saying, you know, hey, I'm a surgeon. And I just want to make sure that you're healthy and your baby's healthy. I got the neonatal, I've got my Chinese medicine guy over here, and all of them converged and had the same message, healthy you, healthy baby. We do whatever it takes for that. And so, luckily, I didn't have one person pulling me in one direction. And the other one, you know, my Doula was right there when we decided to induce and she was like, this is good medical advice. So,...
Michelle Johnson [35:49]: What was your birth plan going in? So, it seems like it was unmedicated or natural as possible. But was your birth plan...was the arrangement already to go to the hospital, was it going to be at home, was it going to be at a birthing center? What was your birth plan?
Jake Willis [36:02]: The birth plan, and we were so, we had the birth plan, printed out on pink cardstock and handed to all the nurses and, you know so, funny looking back, because all the nurses are like, yeah, thanks for this, we'll really keep it because, you know, mostly, the birth plan is not what you write on the card necessarily. So, yeah, our birth plan was definitely hospital. We knew that given my age, given the circumstances that we really wanted to be where there was medical care, should it arise it that's necessary. So, we're in the hospital. But we wanted a vaginal birth. And I was kind of still on the fence about whether I wanted an epidural or not. And so, the day that I went in, we were supposed to go for lunch to Houston's which was our, that was our routine, neonatal specialists, and then Houston’s for lunch. And he's like, no, you're not going to Houston's for lunch, we're admitting you, we need to monitor and see...your blood pressure is crazy right now. And I was like, no, no, no, this is not the plan. We have lots of stuff to do yet. I'm going home, and he's like, no, he said, no, you didn't even feel that your blood pressure was off the charts. And this is a silent thing, you know, that we're telling you, we're going to take care of you. So, went downstairs and did the pee test, you know, to test the protein, and they did find the protein in the urine. So, they're like, nope, we're checking you in and I'm like, okay, so, when can I go home? They said when that baby is born, and I'm like, What? So, this was a month early. This is like week 36.
Michelle Johnson [37:50]: Wow.
Jake Willis [37:51]: And I initially, Michelle, I was devastated. I don't know why I felt like that was, you know, this big failure but once they checked me in, and they had this little menu for me to choose my food and people were coming in and waiting on me. My girlfriend was bringing in someone to do a pedicure. I'm like, okay, this isn't so, bad...
Michelle Johnson [38:11]: Nice. We need to get one of those. Write that down. Girlfriend who does pedicures.
Jake Willis [38:16]: Well, she hired someone to come in. And it was yeah, it was awesome. Anyway, they really monitored, you know, what was going on. And then they said, okay, you know, what, we're getting to the point now where we really feel like we need to induce and I was still fighting, I was still saying, is she ready? Is she baked? Is it okay? Is it too soon? And they're like, no, you know, seriously, she's good. You're good. And that's what we're concerned about right now is keeping both of you in that space. So, they induced and I labored for an entire day, and I was doing fine, but Avalon’s heart rate, every time I had a contraction, took longer to come back around. And so, you know, the Doula was over here, going, you know what Jake, already this is not the natural childbirth, like you're not walking around, you're not on your ball, you're not doing, you know, you're strapped to the bed, and you've got you know, needles and that you're already past the point of saying this is you know, a natural childbirth.
So, you know, they came in and they said all right, we can unhook you, we're going to call it for today and then we can induce you and start this whole thing with the pitocin again tomorrow. We can't guarantee, you know, she might react better tomorrow, she might react worse tomorrow. So, my OB on this side was kind of getting a little antsy and going all right, now we're getting down to like, this has all been cute, but now we got to talk about the health of the baby and what we can expect. And that's what my Doula also, said, you know, I believe that this is truly great medical advice and I would definitely agree to have the C-section. And so, we said yes and within 10 minutes they came back for me and I'll never forget because my Doula is just one of these natural you know, like, I'm not going to say...she's just this natural beauty and very, you know, wispy and no makeup. And I'm heading down the hallway and she's like, Jake your lipstick, don’t go without your lipstick. She's like these pictures are forever, so, on one of my pictures I'm so, grateful to her because you know, the lipstick is kind of my trademark so, she was like put the lipstick on. This is the last thing on my mind. Right but now all my photos.
Michelle Johnson [40:53]: Yeah.
Jake Willis [40:54]: She said you should have this wonderful thing, lipstick on, thanks to my Doula. And it was so, peaceful. They asked me you know, what music do you want playing while we do this? We had Oscar Peterson playing in the back, everyone was you know, saying oh, we feel like we should have martinis in here with this jazz music going. It was so, peaceful, Chris was there. He videoed the whole thing, it was not what I expected. But was so, beautiful, and I just couldn't have asked for a more beautiful birth. And it was not...like nothing was what I expected. And I think that and neither is anything in mothering this child. Nothing is what you expect, at least for me and my story. You know, it's just, expect the unexpected, and embrace it and love it. It was a beautiful moment.
Michelle Johnson [41:48]: Right. How much does she weigh when she was born?
Jake Willis [41:51]: Five pounds, 11 ounces.
Michelle Johnson [41:53]: Okay.
Jake Willis [41:54]: She had so, much hair and she was so, long that she didn't feel that little. But 5/11 is, you know, it's pretty small. But I tell you she plumped up real quick.
Michelle Johnson [42:06]: So, was the plan to breastfeed, nurse, formula? What was your plan going in?
Jake Willis [42:14]: Wanted to breastfeed more than anything. And actually, some of the medical people that we...because in the (inaudible) the Atlanta women's, there's seven doctors and you rotate so, that you know all of them, which is really great. So, whoever’s on is not a stranger. One of them actually said, I don't want you to be disappointed if you can't breastfeed because at your age, it probably is not going to happen, that was actually said, and, you know, it's so, funny. And I've been like this ever since I've been a kid. Like if somebody said, you can't do something, it's like, oh. So, I was just like, that was another one of those areas where I was like, I'm going to do this. And Dr. Kim was like, you know what you're going to do, you're going to keep your baby alive. So, that's what you're going to do.
Michelle Johnson [43:10]: Right.
Jake Willis [43:11]: He always brought my feet back down to the ground. And, that was the beauty of him because yes, he was all nature. Yes, he was Chinese medicine, but he was also, Western medicine. And he's like, if you need to feed your baby formula to keep your baby alive, that’s what you're going to do. That's what you're going to do. And I'm like, okay, all right. But my preference was to breastfeed if I could, I wanted that experience. And I think that was a selfish thing for me. But I also, you know, I understand the goodness of it, but again, it comes down to how are you going to feed your baby?
Michelle Johnson [43:43]: Right.
Jake Willis [43:44]: You do what you have to do to keep that little baby alive. So, it ended up that it was...she latched right out of the gate, I produced milk right out of the gate, we had an amazing lactation coach, through my Doula situation, she came with the deal. And she came to our home and just made a few little adjustments and recommendations and made that experience so, much easier. Because, you know, I just thought like, it just would...you just latch the baby on and it's just the most natural thing in the world. Right. And it was hard and weird and awkward at the beginning and you know, and because she was you know, as small as she was. They're like you have to wake her up every three hours and feed her, so, I'm like exhausted and I'm doing the football thing. And so, our wonderful lactation specialist comes in and she's like, you know what Jake, why don't you try this and just relax and lay back and try and hold the...Just gave me like five different tips and it was like, night and day. So, you know, I really encourage you know, if you are able to have experienced coaching situations, it's so, helpful and trying to do all this stuff on my own. I think I probably would have gone bonkers.
Michelle Johnson [45:17]: Yeah.
Jake Willis [45:17]: You know, and not having family like I didn't have my mom here and I don't care if I was 51.
Michelle Johnson [45:23]: Right.
Jake Willis [45:24]: It was my first baby, you know, when it's your first baby. It's your first baby. I've never done this before. So, you know, yeah, it was amazing to have that kind of support, and I breastfed Avalon for the first year of her life.
Michelle Johnson [45:41]: Awesome. Yeah, awesome. My son just turned one yesterday.
Jake Willis [45:45]: Oh, beautiful.
Michelle Johnson [45:46]: And I'm like, transitioning out of nursing.
Jake Willis [45:49]: Yeah.
Michelle Johnson [45:50]: You know, I was like, at first I was like, well, I'm just going to do 10 months.
Jake Willis [45:53]: Yeah.
Michelle Johnson [45:54]: And then it was like, okay, well, I can get to a year. I mean, we've done 10 months. Let's do it even year. Now a year is here. And I'm just like, looking at him last night and you know, after he turned one. I'm like, oh, oh, like this is it. Like I'm not having anymore, I don't think but yeah, it's hard like to parting and ending it. So, I 'm like. I told my husband today, I was like, I think I'm just going to do like the morning nurses like when he first wakes up. And then when he goes to bed.
Jake Willis [46:23]: I know and I didn't see that coming either. The me part of that, that was like; I don't want to stop doing this. You know. And so, I did some of exactly what you're saying, it's like well, maybe just before bed, though I love...the first thing in the morning is just, oh those snuggles are the best. So, yeah, that was interesting. But and she you know, she didn't, Avalon is a really independent little thing. And she has been since; you know, day one, literally when we started weaning her. She was like, okay, she never asked for it. She never you know, she never went for it. She was just like; it was just like when it was done. It was done. And I'm like, well, hey, aren't you supposed to be more needy?
Michelle Johnson [47:16]: Yeah. Yeah. That's a good thing.
Jake Willis [47:18]: She doesn't know. Yeah, what it was really good. But yeah, that was her for sure.
Michelle Johnson [47:23]: If there's one thing that you can impart upon our listeners as far as encouragement in the journey, what would you tell them?
Jake Willis [47:32]: Never give up. If you have gone through your why and being a mother, creating a life is your heart's desire. Don't let medical science; don't let people's stories or your own discouragement, convince you to give up your journey, every time that we had a failed transfer, every time that something didn't go the way we anticipated. We added something new to our regime. And we said okay, do we still want this? Yes, we do. Let's keep going. And we never faltered in what we wanted our results to be. And I think that it's easy to get discouraged. And it's easy to kind of give up on things in this kind of a journey my integrative doctor also, treats cancer patients. And he literally said at one point, it is a more difficult journey, the journey of fertility on the heart and the mind than fighting cancer. Now, I again, I don't think that either one is an easy road, but I'm just saying from that practitioner’s standpoint, just speaking to the emotions, when people are wanting to you know, increase or start their family or extended their family. So, yeah, it's don't give up. Don't give up and you know, and trust in the power of your mind and your body together. Because it is an amazing, amazing, mind blowing mechanism.
Michelle Johnson [49:18]: You know, the hardest part about bringing on you women with these amazing success stories over 40 success stories in having babies, is that I find it hard to like top them. There like such great stories, I'm kind of like okay, well, I beat that one. And I have Jake who's like 51, like that’s it, as far as age, I know there's more...
Jake Willis [49:43]: Oh, that's funny.
Michelle Johnson [49:45]: Definitely a great and encouraging story.
Jake Willis [49:48]: There's the joys of it and, you know, like I went right from, and I don't know that I had postpartum depression, so, much, but I think postpartum, the postpartum experience regardless, you know, once that baby is out your body is just trying to pick up the pieces, right. So, whether it's a depression or not, and then I went straight into menopause, like, right into menopause, which I don't know. Some say it might be a good thing because the symptoms are the same. So, the postpartum baby recovery and menopause have all the same hormonal. Yeah. But yeah, it's been an amazing journey, not one single regret.
Michelle Johnson [50:36]: Right, awesome. How is Chris, as a dad?
Jake Willis [50:40]: Oh, my gosh. This man is, he's an amazing father. And, I mean, that speaks to the fact that it's something that he wanted so, completely, and he wanted, you know, I mean, it's interesting, because initially, he's like, think I want a boy. You know, but the minute this little girl was in his arms, it was just over. Like, he is incredibly attentive, she's really musical. So, the two of them together, well, I mean, all of us, you know, come from a musical background, but it's just, it's amazing to see them, you know, respond to one another. He's an incredible dad.
Michelle Johnson [51:22]: Awesome. Thank you so, much for coming on and sharing your story with all our listeners.
Jake Willis [51:30]: Well, it's one of my favorite stories, so, thanks for letting me tell it.
Michelle Johnson [51:34]: So, I know you have a Facebook group that talks about your experience as well. What is the name of the Facebook group?
Jake Willis [51:42]: It's called the “Jake Take Sisterhood” and it's just a place where I've invited people who are trying to get pregnant but also, people who have done the thing who can support women, you know, that whole women supporting women not a myth thing. That's kind of the aim.
Michelle Johnson [51:58]: Okay, and your website.
Jake Willis [52:00]: It's called thejake.com.
Michelle Johnson [52:02]: Okay. Pretty easy to remember, but we'll be sure to include it in the show notes. So, thanks again, for joining us, and we'll be in touch with you.
Jake Willis [52:12]: My pleasure. Thank you so, much for having me.
Michelle Johnson [52:14]: Thank you for coming. Goodbye.
Jake Willis [52:16]: Bye.