Thursday, June 21, 2012

Happy 1st Birthday!

Today is a very special day.

One year ago today, a precious little miracle entered this world and forever changed the lives of so many.

Not a day has gone by that we haven't thought of him, loved him, and given thanks for him.

And not a day has gone by that we've had so much as a single doubt that he is exactly where he is meant to be.


We love you to the moon & back, sweet boy.

Happy 1st Birthday!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Giving Thanks

All has been quiet on the "I love you this much" homefront...well...quite frankly...because all's been quiet on the homefront! And sometimes that is a blissfully wonderful thing!

I was just looking back at my posts from this time last year and cannot believe all that has happened! Literally, a lifetime ago...

It has been almost one year since the blessed event that forever changed the lives of so many. Almost one year since the big transfer. I can honestly say on one hand it seems like just yesterday, and on the other hand, I truly cannot remember our lives "before".

It fills my heart with more joy than words can possibly say to see this beautiful little boy with his parents. To see the love in their eyes for him.

And for this, I am thankful.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the immense blessings that have been bestowed upon me, and I am eternally grateful that God led us to this amazing couple and enabled us to unite them with their son.

Happy Thanksgiving!

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.  ~Thornton Wilder

Saturday, September 24, 2011

An "ouch" moment

All has been quiet on the homefront as of late. Little man continues to do well at home with his mama & daddy and we anxiously await updates and photos as they become available!

Although our story of embryo adoption is one I cherish deeply, I don't find much occasion to share our story with people who aren't already familiar with it. Honestly, it's not something that comes up in casual conversation, and we've tried to keep it amongst those we love and trust. However, I did find myself sharing it with someone for the first time this past week.

There is a girl I work with fairly closely on a daily basis. She is a real sweetheart and has recently become engaged. One day last week, I saw her carrying her phone with her everywhere, which was unusual. She told me her twin nephews were due to be born any minute and she was eagerly awaiting word that they'd arrived.

The babies were her sister's, although they were being carried by a surrogate. She proceeded to tell me the story of how her sister had given birth to a son years ago during her first marriage, but that shortly after she found herself in the position of needing a hysterectomy. Remarried some years later, she and her husband decided they very much wanted to have children of their own. They sought out an anonymous egg donor with physical characteristics similar to her own, and were fortunate enough to have one of their best friends offer to carry the pregnancy.

She was incredibly excited to share this story with me, and in turn, I felt truly honored that she would trust me with such precious information. I decided this was the perfect opportunity to share how our little princess had been conceived (few people know that we became pregnant via IVF), which of course also led to our tale of embryo adoption, and the recent arrival of little man. She had many questions, all of which I answered as honestly as I could. I told her that although the decision was initially a difficult one, we haven't looked back or regretted it for one moment since.

Knowing what a devoted a mother I am, she told me how much she admired my ability to distance myself from the biological connection to the baby, as well as any future children that may result. I admitted that there have been several emotional moments for me, the most profound being the day of his birth, but that for the most part I simply viewed it as a celebration of dear friends having become parents.

She then asked if I noticed any physical similarities between their son and my daughter. I told her that to a degree I did, but that I tried not to go seeking it out intentionally. I admitted that it would most likely become more obvious with the passing of time, and offered to show her some photos on his Caring Bridge page. The moment she saw his face, she grabbed a family photo on my desk of myself, my fiance, and our daughter when she was approximately 3 months old, held it up next to the photo on the monitor, and screamed "Are you kidding me? They're identical!"

I won't lie. It hurt.

I know this statement was made out of pure astonishment and disbelief on her part. In no way did she mean to "point out the obvious" so to speak, nor would she ever intend to hurt my feelings. And it obviously wasn't so much her words that hurt as it was having to acknowledge that she was absolutely right. They could've been twins.

She then asked if we intend to ever "meet" him in person. I explained that part of the reason we chose a family that lived half a country away was to make that as much of a "non-issue" as possible. They are his parents, that is his family. Although we love him with all of our hearts and look forward to the day when that hopefully happens, that is not our decision to make.

I do not regret sharing our story with her. As previously stated, it is one I cherish deeply.

But it did result in one of those "ouch" moments I didn't see coming.

Monday, July 18, 2011

I gave you life so that you could live it

The above quote is from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". While I never thought I'd find an analogy relating that movie to this situation, I keep hearing Toula's mother's words every time I'm asked how I could make a decision as profound as embryo adoption. We produced these embryos so they might have a chance at life ~ a chance to live.

Little man is still in the NICU, but I'm thrilled to report he is progressing quite well for a peanut born after just 31 weeks in the roaster! His parents have been wonderful enough to set up a Caring Bridge webpage for all of their friends and family to keep updated on his day-to-day progress, and needless to say I pay a visit there at least several times a day! In addition to reading his medical updates and poring over the newly added pictures and videos, I love reading through his guestbook. When I see the number of people who care about this little boy ~ LOVE him ~ it takes my breath away.

It's been a tremendous source of comfort to be able to remain regularly updated on his status. He, like most preemies, has done his job of making sure Mama and Daddy are buckled in tight for the rollercoaster ride that only the NICU can provide! I remember those days well, and can sympathize completely with the emotions I'm sure they are experiencing. Having a baby in the NICU requires a tremendous amount of faith, hope, and trust and I have no doubt that his parents are remaining steadfast. They are my heros in more ways than one.

With each new picture, each new video, my heart continues to burst with love for this little boy. The videos especially have been breathtaking as seeing him as a living, breathing miracle elicits more emotion than I can possibly put into words.

But, I'm incredibly relieved and elated to be able to say that it is a love with which I have complete and total peace. I see his sweet face, and yes, I cannot help but notice physical similarities to his full biological sister. Yet I have to admit, never once have I looked at him and thought he was "mine".

At the risk of sounding incredibly cliche, I caught one of my very favorite movies on tv last week ~ Juno. While my story in no way resembles hers, with the exception of our both wanting the best possible family for our babies, after she has given birth to her son, she makes the statement regarding her baby's adoptive mother that "he was always hers". This is precisely how I feel when looking at him ~ he was ALWAYS hers.

We continue to talk about little man in our family openly, and that too provides me with such a sense of peace. My teenage girls could not be prouder of my decision, and more in love with this little boy. But they too understand that he is in the right place ~ the very best place that he could possibly be.

Our family is complete.

And theirs is just beginning.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sweet Boy

That little red blinking light. Anyone out there with a Blackberry knows what I'm talking about. That little red blinking light that notifies you when you have a call. Or a text. Or an email. And when your phone is on vibrate or silent as frequently as mine, it's often times your primary source of notification that you have a new message.

Lately, that red blinking light has become my life's blood.

Blink: Monday afternoon. We found out that Mama was experiencing some pretty bad swelling, and her blood pressure was alarmingly high. After being evaluated, she was diagnosed with preeclampsia and admitted to the hospital. The hope was to get the blood pressure down with some Magnesium, administer the steroid shots to encourage baby's lung development, and as he was breech, deliver via C either Tuesday or Wednesday. Everything seemed to be stabilizing, and baby was looking good with a predicted weight around 3 lbs, 6 oz. We are officially in stand-by mode.

Blink: Tuesday. Things seemed stable in the morning, but by afternoon baby's heart rate started to gradually decellerate. Rather than risk waiting any longer, little man was delivered shortly after 2:00pm CMT, and came into this world weighing 3 lbs, 7 oz and crying. Praise God. I received this email at approximately 4:30 EST. As I was leaving work. Getting on the interstate. I will remember that car ride as long as I live - tears streaming down my face as I sped down the highway, looking at the very first pictures of this sweet boy.

Since Tuesday, the blinks have all started to run together. My phone is attached to my hip constantly. Baby boy is of course in the NICU, and as an parent of a NICU baby knows (I had two ~ my son who is now 9, and Lil Miss last year), it is one giant rollercoaster ride of emotions. It's not day to day, and sometimes not even hour to hour. Often, it's minute to minute. In the past 2 days, he has had highs & lows,but overall is doing very well for a peanut his size. His prognosis is excellent, and he has the two most doting and loving parents in the world there with him every step of the way.

And yet my heart aches. Some moments unbearably.

My heart aches for them. After everything they have been through in the past year. The one year anniversary of the loss of their precious daughter mere days away. And now having been through the scare of the past several days, and having their son lying in the NICU. Dear God, how much is one couple expected to take? I pray that He gives them the strength. I pray for her physical recovery. I THANK GOD that they are the amazing, loving couple that they are, the very best parents that this little boy could possibly ask for.

And my heart aches for him. For that sweet, sweet baby boy. I close my eyes and I see his little face. I see his crazy toes, just like Little Miss. I see his dark, fuzzy hair. I see the soft downy still covering his skin. And I ache for him.

I see what could have been. And it hurts. With every fiber in my being, down to the depths of my soul, it hurts.

I am in a strange kind of limbo right now. And honestly, feeling somewhat selfish for even acknowledging my own feelings, knowing what his parents must be experiencing.

I continue to pray fervently that God watch over him, that he is quick to heal and grow, and is soon home with his family ~ where he belongs. I would ask that you please do the same.

Welcome to the world, sweet boy.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Calm Before the Storm

I realize the phrase "calm before the storm" implies a negative connotation. But in my personal experience, it can also refer to some of the happiest and most cherished moments life has to offer...

For instance, late on Christmas Eve (or early on Christmas morning), I love looking around the living room and soaking up every bit of it. The tree, the lights. The nativity. Almost 20 years worth of homemade ornaments. The snowmen, the angel atop the tree. And the piles and piles of brightly wrapped packages. For that moment, everything is peaceful. Still. But shortly after sunrise (if not before!), the proverbial storm swoops in and what had previously been a near-perfect moment is now transformed into one of those rare moments of utter and complete joy.

Excited screams. Grins from ear to ear. Hugs. Thanks. Laughter. Sometimes ~ if the gift is perfect enough ~ tears...

That's the kinda storm I like. And it's the one brewing thousands of miles away from where I sit.

Now that the 30 week milestone has come and gone, I've found myself almost in my own version of "expectant father" mode. I am constantly checking my phone. Making sure I didn't miss an email, text, or call. Always taking no news as a sign of good news, and blissfully it has been just that. The nursery is ready. Little outfits (I'm sure!) hanging in the closet. And best of all ~ a mommy and daddy just bursting with anticipation and excitement.

The impending arrival of Lil Man is felt silently yet heavily in our home. With Lil Miss becoming busier, chattier, and more toddler-like by the day, I find myself missing those precious baby moments. A soft (and still!) hug. A quiet moment. Those sweet cooing sounds. For us, those have been replaced by flailing, excited hugs (if you can catch her as she's running by!), giant, wet kisses (love those!), and shouts of "Mommy!", "Daddy!", and "Doggie!" The other night, I took out the photo album from her early months. Amazing to think it was only last year....

As I flipped through the pages, I started concentrating intently on her tiny fingers. Her crazy toes. The shape of her eyes. Her little button nose. Her waking and sleeping facial expressions. And wondering. Wondering how much he'll look like her. His biological big sister.

I think that is the reality that has been hitting me more & more. Yes ~ there are also four biological half-siblings. Ones who are older and don't have quite the stake in this that she does. What will she think? How will she feel? Knowing it could have been her? I want to believe ~ have to believe ~ that if we follow the path we discussed, remaining as open and forthcoming as possible, telling her how very much we loved each and every one of those babies and were going to do everything in our power to help them, that she will understand. That she will be grateful knowing she wasn't the only one given a chance at life.

And yes, of course, there is also a part of my heart that sits in waiting. Waiting, upon seeing images of his sweet face, to leave my body forever. Just as it did when I delivered my five children. So a piece of my heart will go to their sweet boy as well.

But I continue to believe, and have steadfast faith, in knowing that the piece of my heart will be just one of many. So many people already loving this little boy, counting the days til his arrival.

And so we wait. And we pray.

I love the calm before a storm.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Keeping it Real ~ Confessional #1

I knew this post was coming. In all reality, I thought it was going to come much sooner.

If you are at all familiar with my personal story, you know I lead a very busy life. Five children. One in college, one heading to college this summer, one getting ready to drive, one busy year-round with sports, and one just learning to walk and talk. I also work full time. And go to school full time. And run a household.

So while I am elated to be a part of the world of embryo adoption as a donor mother, it is not something that I have a tremendous amount of time to spend thinking about. To be honest, while I think of my snow sister on a regular basis, I often just think of her as a dear friend expecting a baby later this summer. Which she is. But I don't much dwell on the fact that my fiance and I directly contributed to the actual child she is carrying. This baby belongs to her and her husband.

However, in an effort to be completely honest both with myself as well as with anyone else who may be contemplating this choice, I will admit that last week I had my first "moment". It hit me like a wave, and passed almost as quickly, but there it was. I was sad.

We are so incredibly blessed to have a wonderfully amazing open relationship with our "extended family". We receive updates, see ultrasound pics, and celebrate each and every milestone. Last Monday, they discovered they were expecting a boy. A son.

As you know from my history, I had four children prior to meeting my fiance. Three daughters and one son. What can I say? My cup runneth over. When we were at the final stage of our IVF journey, and the day arrived for our embryo transfer, we were told we had seven total embryos that had made it to the blastocyst stage, two of which were the "strongest" of the bunch. If I remember correctly, "F" and "G". One of those turned out to be our beautiful daughter. The other, I can safely assume, is their son.

I remember feeling a tremendous sense of pressure the day we went for our ultrasound that would reveal our baby's gender. Pressure put on from noone but myself. Knowing this was going to be our only child, I felt my fiance would be thrilled with a son. Not that he wouldn't adore a little girl, but just the same, I couldn't shake the notion that he was hoping for a boy.

I will never forget the look on his face as he watched his daughter being born. Will never forget the love in his eyes, in his smile, the first time he held her. There was no doubt that this was indeed God's plan. She was perfect. Our family was perfect.

                                            Daddy with his princess. Love at first sight.

Yet there it was. A moment of sadness. A tugging at my heart that I couldn't deny, and didn't feel as though I should. I felt it. I experienced it. I lived it. And then? It was gone. Replaced by joy and peace, knowing how much this little boy is already loved. Knowing how elated his parents are to meet him. Knowing he is with his forever family.

I can't wait to see pictures. Can't wait to see his proud mama and daddy showing him off to anyone who will give them a moment's pause. And I expect there may be more tugs and pulls to come. But I'm ready for them. I knew going into this process there would be bumps in the road. And every one of them is well worth it.

There's no denying this is the path I was meant to take. Destined.

I love my life. I love my family.

And I celebrate another family in the making. What a very lucky little boy indeed.