Thursday, December 30, 2010

Letter #1 ~ 2010

Well here we are...New Year's Eve Eve!

New Year's is always a time for reflection and introspection, but even more so this year.

I have been experiencing such a flood of emotions over the past week or so. I could not be more grateful for all of the the blessings bestowed on me in 2010, or more enthusiastic about the promise awaiting in 2011!

We are headed to some dear friends' house to celebrate tomorrow evening, and my heart will be so incredibly full as I watch that ball drop in Times Square. Just a couple of weeks ago we stood in that very spot with our donor recipient couple~~unaware that a little miracle had already begun taking shape.

As I continue to explore ways to navigate this ever evolving journey, one thought I had was to write a letter.

A letter a year to our adopted snowbabies.

Whether just for my own therapeutic purposes, or perhaps one day for him/her/them to read and hopefully help them understand.

And so here first letter!

May God bless each and every one of you. May you find peace as this year comes to a close, and find many blessings awaiting in 2011. 

Happy New Year!


Dearest Little One:

I have a secret to tell you. You are a lucky little bean. A very lucky little bean. But rather than try to explain, let me instead share a little story…

Once upon a time there was a woman happily raising her four children. This woman had known she wanted to be a mommy ever since she was a little girl. Not only did she know she wanted to be a mommy, she knew she wanted to have lots of babies. Not just two or three like most families, but maybe four or five! And by the grace of God, this mommy got her wish.

In five year’s time, she was blessed with three beautiful baby girls. They were each lovely and wonderful in their own special way, and every single day this woman thanked God for choosing her to be their mommy. Some years later, this woman was blessed again, this time with a baby boy. He was sweet and perfect and had the most beautiful blue eyes you’ve ever seen. This mommy couldn’t believe how very lucky she was to have the family she’d always dreamed of! She was sure her family was now complete.

But then, just when she thought her life could not possibly be any fuller, she met the most magnificent man she’d ever known. He was kind and caring and loved her and her children with all of his heart. One day this man took this woman and her children on a beautiful train ride through the country and asked them to become his forever family.

The woman could not believe how incredibly blessed she was, and her heart felt as though it might explode with all of the love she was feeling. This man and woman loved each other so very much that they decided to have a baby of their very own.

The love that this man and woman had was so great that God blessed them with seven teeny, tiny little snow babies. But they could choose only one. And so, the following year, a beautiful baby girl was born, and the mommy and daddy were overcome with joy for this amazing gift.

Soon the day came when it was time for the mommy and daddy to say goodbye to their other six tiny snow babies. And although they were very sad, they were also rejoicing because God had led them to another very special mommy and daddy.

This other mommy and daddy had been wanting a baby of their own for a long time. They loved each other very much, and prayed to God very hard to grant their wish. And one day, God did grant their wish and sent them a precious little girl. Sadly, she was born just a little too soon, and God called her back up to heaven. Even though this mommy and daddy missed their little girl with all of their hearts, they kept praying to God each and every day, asking Him to watch over their sweet angel in heaven, and hoping that one day He might send them another baby to love.

God can work in very magical and mysterious ways, and so it came to be that that He helped these mommies find one another. The mommy with the six precious snow babies asked the angel baby’s mommy if she would please take care of them and love them just as she wished she could. When the angel baby’s mommy said yes, they both celebrated the miracle that God had granted them!

The first mommy was filled with a tremendous sense of peace, knowing that these six little snow babies had found their forever family~a mommy and daddy who would love them with all of their hearts forever and ever.

So you see little one, it was not just because of the love of one mommy and daddy that you are here today. It is because of the love of two mommies and daddies who all loved you so very much and wanted you so very much.

But most of all because God, in His infinite wisdom, knew that your forever family was here waiting for you all along...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Looking Ahead

The week between Christmas and New Year's is one I always enjoy. The last minute hustle-and-bustle of getting ready for the "Big Day" is behind us, and it's time to look towards ringing in yet another New Year.

Christmas in our home this year was a most magical one. I haven't enjoyed a "Baby's First Christmas" in 8 years and had forgotten just how amazing it is to witness. Of course, the excitement can vary a bit depending on baby's age at the time (my little princess was less than 2 weeks old her first Christmas and from what I recall, slept most of the day away!).

But to see a happy, vibrant 10 month old's face on Christmas morning is the greatest gift. Watching her learn to rip wrapping paper (and try to eat it!), seeing her laugh and clap, and just seeing the looks of pure love on the faces of everyone in that room. It was all such an overwhelming feeling of happiness and peace.

The day after Christmas, I received an upsetting text from my snow sister. She'd started spotting a bit the day before and was concerned. I couldn't feel her pain or anxiety more. As I've mentioned several times before, I suffered with a subchorionic bleed for my entire pregnancy with Ava. It was the most terrifying, horrific (almost) 9 months I've ever lived through and prayed she wasn't experiencing the same. Yet I couldn't bring myself to think it could possibly be anything worse. I somehow felt in my heart that that baby was just fine.

Nonetheless, it was a long two days between her text and her ultrasound appointment yesterday. I have a Black.Berry and sat there staring at my phone all morning waiting for that little red light to start blinking, indicating that I had a text waiting.

And today I am elated to report that little bean is looking strong and beautiful as ever. Thriving.

In her own words, "it's going to be a long 9 months", and indeed it is. But a glorious 9 months.

I've started doing a great deal of soul searching thinking about what a blessed year I've had in 2010, and how I really want to focus on paying it forward in 2011 and beyond. I feel like I'm off to a pretty good start.

What makes me even happier is that after my fiance, the first texts I sent after receiving her update were to my daughters. And they were celebrating.

Two families half a country apart joined by this precious little miracle.

2010 was a banner year indeed.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Coming Out

I have a confession to make. I have not yet "come out" as an embryo donor.

My older children know, our parents know, and a very select group of our friends know. But that is it.

Not to say it's exactly a topic of conversation that comes up every day. "Hey~did you catch the weather report this morning?" "How about that game last night??" "By the way..did I mention we've placed our 6 frozen embryos up for adoption??"

Even telling the few people we have has not been an easy task. First and foremeost, it can be a bit confusing to someone completely unfamiliar with the process of IVF. Take my mother for example. She is 60+ years young, and as old-school as they come. Yes, we told her we were going through IVF when our daughter was conceived last summer. But I'm not sure she ever really truly grasped the process. So when I further complicated matters by trying to explain that we've still got 6 frozen embryos in storage that we had decided to donate to an infertile couple...well...she kind of just looked back at me with a bit of a blank stare.

I think she still believes she'll be babysitting another grandchild a year from now. :)

So while I've been thrilled to share this journey with the entire blogosphere, I'm much more guarded when it comes to discussing it with people I know in "real life".

Although I suppose I'm ashamed to admit it, part of me does worry about being judged. Embryo donation/adoption being such a relatively new concept, there is much room for...shall we say..."opinion" on the matter. And while I stand firm in my convictions and am incredibly confident with our choice, it hurts to find others not so supportive.

I have one friend in particular, whom I love like a sister and whose friendship I cherish very deeply, who has caused me great pain through this process. When I received the initial contact from our clinic over the summer regarding our snow babies, she was the first person I called. I told her how conflicted I was and that I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing. I talked through my options with her, and she listened intently as she always does.

Having reached our decision to donate, she was once again one of the first people I shared the news with, and again, I received her full attention. But then, when I told her we'd be flying out to meet our donor family, she had little to no reaction. When I told her about their protocol and their procedural updates, nothing. Following their visit here and subsequent transfer, no comment. And even after telling her they were blessed with a positive pregnancy test, no response.

My heart was breaking inside that she was not able to share my joy and celebrate this miracle with me. And so I felt I had no other choice but to confront her. In all fairness, she seemed incredibly relieved when I did. Almost as if she'd wanted to do it herself, but didn't have the courage.

And then her words cut me like a knife~~"I just don't see what good can possibly come from this." That was what she said. At first, I asked how she could not see something wonderful and full of love coming from this amazing couple realizing their dream of having a family?? She clarified that while she did understand and support our decision to donate our embryos, she could not support our decision to remain open throughout the process and continue to have a relationship with our recipient family. She said she only saw this as an inevitable source of pain and hurt for me in the future.

While I want to believe~~need to believe~~that she truly has my best interests at heart, I cannot escape the pain her disapproval has caused me. And this from a dear friend. So what am I to believe the reaction of outsiders might be??

I have been "introduced" to countless AMAZING women since beginning this crazy IVF journey, and have found myself consumed with blog updates and insights into everyone's journeys of heartache and jubilation. I could go on & on & on about the tears I've shed, the aching in my heart, and the sheer joy I've experienced. This is really and truly a sacred place and I feel so incredibly blessed to occupy even a tiny corner of this world.

A fellow blogger asked to share my story on her FB wall yesterday and I humbly accepted. However, I could not bring myself to "like" the page itself. To put it out to the masses that I was a "face" of embryo donation. To share what has become a vital part of my person with those whom I'm supposedly "friends".

And for this I am ashamed.

I am a firm believer~~a MOST firm believer~~in everything happening for a reason. I was supposed to be done having children 8 years ago. My tubes were tied. I never experienced infertility. IVF was something completely foreign to me.

Yet here I am.

And I am HUMBLED. And HONORED. So please forgive me as I continue to come to terms with my place in this world.

To you I say, I AM a face of embryo donation. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I cannot believe Christmas 2010 is only days away, and in a little over a week we'll be ringing in 2011! It sounds like such a chiche, but this year truly went by in the blink of an eye.

It's almost difficult to comprehend all of the wonderful blessings that occurred.

In February, we welcomed our beautiful little princess, Ava Elizabeth. She has been such a beam of light in our house and brought more love and happiness to our family than I ever dreamed possible. Being greeted by her smiling face in the morning gives me a renewed appreciation for life each & every day...


In May, my handsome little man celebrated his First Holy Communion! He looked so dapper in his little suit and made his Mama very proud~~as always.


In June, we celebrated my other "baby"'s high school graduation! I still can't believe it's been 18 years since this beautiful creature changed my life forever. She is such an amazing young woman and I am so proud to call myself her mother.


In September, we celebrated Ava's Baptism into the Catholic church, and also became the proud owners of our very own summer vacation retreat~~a trailer down on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. Sure to bring many, many happy memories in years to come!


In October, we went to visit our new extended family~~our embryo donor recipients! I cannot put into words what this union has meant to me and my entire family. The fact that we were led to one another was and is nothing short of an act of God.


And now, in December, after spending time with our donor family during their "transfer visit" earlier this month, we celebrate along with them the blessing of a pregnancy! Truly nothing short of a Christmas miracle! My entire family & I look forward with great love, joy, and anticipation to celebrating the new addition to their family in 2011!

From my family to yours, a BLESSED CHRISTMAS and VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

There is a Santa Claus

Early Saturday morning, I was hurriedly getting ready to leave the house in order to go volunteer at my girls' high school open house for several hours. I was fixing my hair, helping my 8 year old find his missing shoe, and changing a dirty diaper simulatneously when the text notification went off on my phone. Thinking it must be my mom (as I was preparing to drop my 2 youngest off to her for the day), I hurriedly picked it up to see what she was reminding me to bring.

Only it wasn't my mom.

It was my snow sister.

Apparently, the anxiety had gotten the best of them as well because she decided to POAS.

And it was positive.

Two wonderful, perfect little blue lines.


My heart rejoiced and the floodgates opened. I shed many, many tears of complete and utter joy.

I realize the road ahead is a long one, but what an amazing beginning.

A true Christmas miracle.

Beta #1 to come on Thursday.

But in the excerpt I couldn't resist.....

"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished."

"You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. "

"No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.'

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

And now we wait...

I have a confession to make. I am not a patient person.

When I have something warming in the microwave, I glare at the timer as if to will it to go faster. I sometimes peek ahead when reading a book or magazine article. At the end of a semester, I check my school website compulsively looking for my grades. And you don't want to ever be in the same car as me when I'm stuck in traffic. EVER.

So could say this 2 ww is killing me a little bit. And I'm not even the one going through it!

We had such an amazing visit with our "extended family". On Friday night, we went and enjoyed some holiday lights and had a wonderful dinner together (I generously offered to have some wine not only for myself, but on my snow sister's behalf as well! Such a good friend!). And then on Saturday, we hit New York City! For anyone who ever has the opportunity to visit NYC at Christmast time, I can not say emphatically enough---DO IT!! This is a tradition I've had for many, many years now and honestly have felt such a void the years I haven't been able to make it (such as last year, when I was practically bed-ridden with a subchorionic hematoma).

Thanks to my compulsive planning (I am the world's most organized traveler!), we managed to do about 80% of what we had planned! We were able to check out the Macy's window displays, see the Empire State Building, take in Times Square, Central Park, FAO Schwartz, Trump Tower, Rockefeller Center...and more! I have to say, this particular trip was already more special being able to share it with them, but seeing New York through the eyes of anyone who's never been before is like witnessing a small miracle.

I was so incredibly sad to say good bye at the end of the day. I cannot put into words the bond I have formed with this couple in such an unbelievably short period of time. It amazes me to think that 6 months ago I didn't even know they existed. And now I couldn't imagine my life without them.

One week from tomorrow. The results will be in and the wait will be over.

All fingers crossed. All prayers raised to heaven. It is in God's hands.


Thursday, December 2, 2010



Today was transfer day for my snow sister. See the picture above? That was the bumper sticker on the vehicle in front of me during my drive to work this morning. I kid you not. Never in my life have I seen one before, and then today, of all days, there it was. I get goosebumps even now thinking of it.

In case you're wondering, yes. I'm superstitious. Incredibly so.

I was driving home earlier listening to Delilah. Perhaps you're familiar with Delilah? She does an evening radio program on what I'd guess you'd call "easy listening" stations. (Wow, I sound OLD!) Anyway, it just so happens her program is on our local station that is also playing Christmas music 24/7 which is all I'm listening to right now. Typically, she takes calls or reads letters, and then finds appropriate songs to play based on the situation. Tonight, I caught the tail end of a dedication she was making to a couple struggling with infertility. I wish I'd heard what song she'd chosen.

Today was transfer day, my friends. And it was a good day. It was a very good day.

When I received the picture on my phone this afternoon of that wonderful, perfect, amazing little blastocyst~~the first and only one they needed to thaw~~hatching away, eager to join his/her new family, I burst into tears.

And now we wait. And pray.

Snuggle in, little one. You're home.

Monday, November 29, 2010

An Early Christmas

Well, the big week has finally arrived! It's FET week for my Snow Sister!

All we've been saying lately is how crazy it is that it's actually December and that transfer time has actually arrived. We can't decide if it feels like this whole crazy process just started days ago, or if we've known each other forever! I tend to lean towards the latter.

For several months now, I've been anxious about this week. Nervous about this week. I was prepared to deal with the whole gammut of emotions. To be experiencing a great deal of turmoil and confusion. And to be completely honest, now that it's here, I am feeling only one emotion.



I am beside myself thrilled!!

I have stopped couting the weeks, counting the days, and am now counting the HOURS. To think that in 3 short days, she will be PUPO!! How incredibly AMAZING is that?!? Can you THINK of a better holiday miracle?!?

I do recognize the need for cautious optimism. And I am trying to maintain some degree of restraint. But I won't lie~~it's tough. I just feel too good about this. Too wonderfully, incredibly, unbelievably hopeful.

We are absolutely thrilled that we will get to spend a good deal of time with our new extended family while they are here. And we can't wait. We have lots of fun events planned, and I plan on treasuring every moment.

This past weekend, we went and had our family pictures done for the holidays. And all I could think of when I saw our sweet angel smiling for the camera was that next year, this could be THEM dressing up their little angel in his or her Christmas finest. And it could be THEM beaming with pride and exploding with love.

I have but ONE wish this Christmas.

Please join me in prayer and well wishes for this unbelievable, amazing couple. From our lips to God's ears.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010


On this Thanksgiving Eve, I would like to share (in no particular order) the things I am most thankful for:

~Being blessed with the love of the most understanding, compassionate, gracious, caring man in the world

~My two wonderful, amazing parents who gave me a childhood I will forever treasure, and who are now doing the same for their grandchildren

~Having two grandmothers still here, continuing to bless me with their love and support, and reminding me every single day what is most important in this

~My health and the health of all of those nearest to my heart

~A roof over my head, shoes under my feet, and the warmth and comfort of a place I am happy to call home

~The gift of my continuing education, and the support of all of those who are making it possible for me to achieve my dreams

~The friendship of some of the strongest, most beautiful, intelligent women in this world who are my sisters in every sense of the word

~Two furry little friends who are always there to greet me and love me in spite of everything

~An amazing, gorgeous young woman who entered my life over 18 years ago and forever changed the person I am for the better. I am so very proud to call myself her mother.

~The most diligent, hard working, responsible 17 year old I have ever known. The sky is truly the limit, and my heart bursts with love and pride for my beautiful girl.

~An outgoing, vivacious 14 year old just entering young womanhood who continues to amaze me every single day with her passion for life. She is a blessing to all who know her.

~The most handsome, compassionate, bright young man I know. Brave and smart and loyal and true. Such a little gentleman, and truly the apple of his momma's eye.

~A sweet, chubby, vibrant little girl with a belly laugh that inspires tears of joy. The crazy toes, the sapphire blue eyes. The smell of her neck after a bath. The feel of her arms around my neck. The soft downy of her hair against my cheek when she's snuggling in. Every tear, every pregnancy scare, all worth it for a lifetime of love.

~The discovery of an amazingly resilient, courageous, loving, brave, compassionate couple half a country away. A couple born to be parents. A couple who one week from today will be here. A couple who one week from tomorrow will be undergoing a transfer that could change all of our lives forever. A couple who have always been a part of our destiny~~in fact, a part of our family.

Please join me in praise and prayer for this unbelievable Thanksgiving gift. This miracle.

Thank you so very, very much to our most amazing God for all of these blessings and more.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Happy National Adoption Day

I was skimming through the news today when I came across a beauitful article about a local event held in honor of National Adoption Day. Any other year I probably would have glimpsed the headline and moved on to the next article. But this year is different.

The National Adoption Center has a motto which states: "There are no unwanted children, just unfound families." Such a short quote, yet so incredibly profound in meaning.

I have always thought of adoption as one of the most tremendously selfless gifts one person can offer another. As a mother who has been blessed to carry and deliver all five of my own children, I cannot imagine the courage, the resolve that a woman must possess to carry a child for nine months only to relinquish it to another woman's care. In my eyes, that is cutting to the deepest, rawest core of motherhood that exists.

It is the very defintion of unconditional love.

Yet I continue struggling to find a place for myself in this world. Although I am technically the source of the eggs which produced these six precious embryos, and any children born will consequently be "legally adopted" by our donor recipient family, what does that make me? Obviously not a "birth mother" as I am not carrying the child(ren), and I dare say not even a "first mother", again because I am not bearing these children.

However, an undeniable connection exists.

These six embryos exist for one reason. Because of the profound love between myself and my fiance. When we are married, our wedding song will be "God Bless the Broken Road" by Rascall Flatts. It speaks perfectly to our life's journey that brought us together:

"Every long lost dream led me to where you are...
Others who broke my heart they were like Northern stars...
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms...
This much I know is true...
That God blessed the broken road...
That led me straight to you..."

"I think about the years I spent, just passing through
I'd like to have the time I lost, and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You've been there, you understand
It's all part of a grander plan that is coming true..."

Oh yes. It is most certainly a grander plan that is coming true.

So thank you God for leading me to this unbelievably amazing man. Thank you for recognizing our desire to share our love by having a child, and leading us down the path of IVF.

Thank you, thank you for the gift of our precious baby girl.

And finally, thank you for leading us to such a loving and wonderful family to adopt our six snowbabies.

Their family has been found.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Updates and Downdates

I hate that I've been MIA for so long, but between five kids, the impending holiday season, and school work~~well~~need I say more?

Everyone in my house is doing extremely well, I'm happy to report. We're all healthy and staying very busy making our Xmas lists (little people) and to-do lists (big people). There's also a daily run for the mailbox as we await college acceptance letters for A. (Fingers crossed!) Lil Miss has started sprouting teeth (Ouch!) and hair ( maybe people will stop telling me how cute HE is!). Still holding tight at my job for the time being, and thanks to the overwhelming love and support of my otherworldly fiance (more on him in another post), we've determined what will be, will be and we'll deal with it when and if the time comes. Oh how I love this man.

I'm sorry to say Maria is still having issues. Maria is my best friend to whom I devoted my "I Knew You Were Waiting" post several weeks back. She's now (I believe) 29 weeks and still showing signs of impending preterm labor. I went over and picked up her two older kiddos for the day this past Saturday and we had a blast. I was also thrilled to learn this allowed her to nap while her hubby attended to their very busy 1 year old. I think about her and worry about her every single hour of every single day. I pray that God keeps that little princess safe inside for at least another 4-6 weeks.

I'm also ecstatic to report that everything is on track with our recipient family. I always pause as I prepare to mention them because I'm not sure what the correct term should be. I certainly hope "recipient family" doesn't come across as cold  or unfeeling as the complete opposite is actually true. Any ideas or suggestions? Perhaps there's a much better term that's already been coined that this newbie just hasn't heard of yet?

Anyway, our hopeful Mama-to-be has been on her meds for several weeks now, and is unfortunately feeling the hormonal/emotional side effects that seem to go hand-in-hand. The next phase of testing (including ultrasound) is scheduled for the day before Thanksgiving which will determine if we're still "all systems go" for the first week in December. There are moments when I feel as anxious for her as if I was going through it all over again myself. Along with the excitement and anxiety, I must admit that I'm also feeling a range of other emotions.

These feelings are very difficult to come to terms with.  Make no mistake about that. I feel as though I can't emphasize enough my confidence in this decision and our love for this family. And in absolutely no way do I want to equate my emotional investment to what they must be experiencing at this time. But in the interest of full disclosure, I am also terrified. Terrified of hearing that one (or more) of their Snowbabies didn't make it through the thaw. I will mourn those embies tremendously, and for some reason I feel guilty admitting that. I know I will also experience heartfelt emotions regardless of the outcome of the transfer. And I feel guilty about that as well. Because my emotions will not be restricted to sharing their overwhelming joy if she is in fact pregnant, or their grief and disappointment if the first attempt is unsuccessful, but also acknowledging my own feelings about the results.

And so I wait. And pray. And hope.

Hope for the miracle that I know is waiting for them.

    "Somewhere...over the rainbow..skies are blue. And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.."

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    The Reason I'm Here

    This blog is something I'm taking quite seriously, and in spite of my posts of late, is also something I want to ensure is utilized for the purpose which it was originally intended.

    I was thinking today about the name of my blog~I love you this much. As many of you probably know, this is the title of a lovely children's book which I'm already reading on a regular basis with Lil Miss. However, I chose this title after great reflection and with tremendous purpose.

    It is, simply stated, my heartfelt message to the 6 snowbabies my fiance and I have relinquished for adoption.

    When I first began my IVF cycle last spring, each step of the process was explained to me in great detail. I learned about the different medications I would be taking, and their intended effects. I was informed of the various procedures I was to undergo, and all of the possible outcomes. I recall the militant monitoring of my ovaries, and praying for a high follicle count. I remember the anxiety of wondering how many eggs would fertilize, and, gulp, ultimately make it to the blastocyst stage. However, my primary concern remained (as I'm sure it does for most everyone) having a healthy baby. And so it was on transfer day, when we were handed a photo of beautiful little embryo "G" and told how wonderful he/she looked, embryos A-F were no more than a fleeting thought in our minds.

    How very much can change in the course of one year.

    When we received the letter this past summer informing us of the decision to be made regarding our remaining embryos, it was breathtaking. That is truly the best way I can descibe it. My breath was taken away. They were no longer embryos A-F sitting frozen in our clinic. They were 6 little miracles waiting to be born. And oh how I wished~in fact ached~to have them all. To carry them all. To raise them all. To love them all. But I realized it was not possible. I had already been blessed with 5 amazing children. Yes, these 6 were just as real, and just as amazing, and just as loved. But they were not mine to have. To carry. To raise. But oh yes...always to love.

    I look at my beautiful 8 month old daughter~at her chubby cheeks, her big blue eyes, her crazy toes that go every which way~everything that makes her "her". And I wonder. I wonder if those other 6 angels, her full biological siblings, will share any similarities. Will I be looking at a picture a year or more from now of a perfect little boy with those same blue eyes? Of a precious little girl who also crinkles her nose and snorts when she laughs? And if so, how will I feel? I imagine a range of emotions, all of which I intend to process and experience as they happen. As far as I can tell, it will be a healthy not to mention necessary part of this process. Will it be easy? I imagine not. Will I come to regret this choice? Not on your life.

    While my heart might ache out of love, it will also be loudly rejoicing. Rejoicing that these babies were given a chance. A chance to be born. A chance to be raised by amazing, wonderful people who were destined to be their parents. Parents who will love them~beyond the shadow of a doubt~as only I could.

    I found an amazing article link on another blog today, sparkly things distract me..., entitled "Myths of Donated DNA". While it primarily addresses egg donation, I feel it still resounds loudly:

    Perhaps the greatest myth surrounds pregnancy. Many believe the uterus is simply an incubator. Nothing could be further from the truth. The most important aspect of all pregnancies — including egg donation pregnancies — is that as the fetus grows, every cell in the developing body is built out of the pregnant mother’s body. Tissue from her uterine lining will contribute to the formation of the placenta, which will link her and her new child. The fetus will use her body’s protein, and then she will replace it. The fetus uses her sugars, calcium, nitrates, and fluids, and she will replace them. So, if you think of your dream child as your dream house, the genes provide merely a basic blueprint, the biological mother takes care of all the materials and construction, from the foundation right on up to the light fixtures. So, although her husband’s aunt Sara or the donor’s grandfather may have genetically programmed the shape of a new baby’s earlobe, the earlobe itself is the pregnant woman’s “flesh and blood.” That means the earlobe, along with the baby herself, grew from the recipient’s body. That is why she is the child’s biological mother. That is why this child is her biological child.

    So yes, precious little were wanted more than you will ever know. Loved more than you will ever know. And God~in his infinite wisdom and goodness~has led us to your family. A family that will care for you and love you and cherish you every single second of every single day.

    How much do I love you? I love you THIS MUCH.

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    Days They Don't Mention In The Mom Handbook

    Well, it's been another crazy weekend around these parts, and it ain't over yet! I should probably preface my weekend by giving you a brief glimpse into my week. My company is being sold. Or depending which article you read, "merged" with another company. And as anyone who's been through something like this before can tell you (I have), there will inevitably be layoffs. For me, it is a bit scary of course (holidays just around the corner, 5 kids!, etc.) and I'm still a relative "newbie" compared to most of my coworkers. I've been there for almost 5 years, but only had a maybe a year left (max) regardless. Not sure if I've mentioned this before, but I am actually a full-time student in addition to working full time and being VERY MUCH a full time mom! I'm only a couple semesters away from obtaining my teaching degree and I am ecstatic beyond words. This is something I've wanted to do for a very long time, and about four years ago, finally decided to go for it! But needless to say, my job status aside, this news about my company did put a damper on my overall mood for the week...big time.

    Friday night rolled around just in time to help restore my sanity! Came home from work with plans to take our 2 youngest over to our friends' house to hang out for the evening. And so I enjoyed a much needed glass of wine, made some (if I do say so myself) delicious buffalo chicken dip, and off we went! We spent several hours laughing, eating, drinking and just unwinding. Just what the doctor ordered. Saturday's primary goal was cleaning, and for the most part, that mission was accomplished. Then around 1:30, it was time to roll out for my son's final soccer game of the season. My fiance had to work, so I rushed to get my son (along with Lil Miss) off to the field in time, which is a half hour away. I drop my son off at the field, and go to find a parking space that's hopefully less than a mile away (tons of fields at this facility!). I managed to find a spot not completely surrounded by mud (we've had a mini monsoon this week), get out the ole stroller, and lift Lil Miss out of her car seat only to discover she's soaked. Now, she had a fresh diaper when we'd left the house only a 1/2 hour earlier, so I was dumbfounded. Turns out, it wasn't #1 but the dreaded #2 in it's worst form (insert collective EWWWWWWWWWW here). problem...lay her down on a blanket in the back seat, grab the diaper bag, only to guessed diapers! And no change of clothes! In my rush to get out of the house, I'd completely forgotten to check for reinforcements. Awesome.

    So I strap poor Lil Miss back in her seat, locate my son's coach to let her know I'd be back in a jiff, and head off to the nearest store to get diapers.  A half hour later, my daughter (in a fresh diaper and a too small onesie that was buried in the bottom of her diaper bag) and I proceeded to watch her brother's game from the heated comfort of my car since she was without clothes and it was about 55 degrees outside! Well, I'd had to pull up close to the field to get a spot to watch the game, and unknowingly...yes...pulled right into a MUD PIT which I discovered as I went to back out after his game. Double awesome. So being that close, I had a captive audience while 3 wonderful soccer dads proceeded to push me out of said pit. One knocked over trash can and several dozen hysterically laughing kids later, I was on my way. Aaahhh, motherhood...

    My plan for today is to lay very low (hide if necessary). There will be coffee and warm blankets and chick movies. And (fingers crossed) nothing that involves mud or explosive diarrhea.

    Happy Sunday.

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    Don't Blink predicted, yet another weekend gone in the blink of an eye! And (almost!) everything went according to plan. We did "Chinese Friday" instead of "Pizza Friday", didn't get around to the brownie haunted house til Saturday, and never made it to the trailer. :( But another stellar weekend in the books nonetheless! Not to mention the most precious 1st Halloween for a certain Lil Miss!

    Let's start with the Brownie Haunted House! This was perfectly suited for my 8 year old son, who has quite a creative knack if I do say so myself..

    Homecoming was also an absolute blast, starting with the parade at 10am all the way through to the dance at 7pm! Getting ready is half the fun in our house, and lo and behold I had two beautiful young ladies who I swear were still in diapers just yesterday! :(



    Which then brought us to......Halloween!! And what a terrific day it was!! So without further delay, here she is...the prettiest little flower in the East...


    Even though this weekend was exhausting, and hectic, and at times, even mind-numbing, it was one that I'll be sure and "lock away" as some cherished sweet memories. I know all too well that "in a blink" this precious little flower will be the one getting ready for Homecoming...

    Maybe if I keep my eyes squeezed shut real tight, I can keep her my baby girl forever....

    Thursday, October 28, 2010

    Is it Friday yet??

    Is it crazy that to me Thursday nights seem a bit like Christmas Eve?? The weekend is so close I can smell it, and I can hardly wait!! As you can probably imagine, we don't get much "down time" around here, and this weekend is no exception.

    Tomorrow night we're going to try and keep things a little bit low key. The usual "Friday Pizza Night", and we're going to attempt to construct this cool Haunted House made out of...brownies!! (Can you say SOLD?!?)

    Saturday is going to be a really big's Homecoming!! It's coming a bit later than usual this year, but I've got a freshman & a senior to help get ready...and they're both girls!! Yikes!! The day will start bright & early with a breakfast & parade at the school, followed by the football game at 11:00. Have to get my son to his soccer game at 2:00, then come home and break out the curling irons, makeup, nail polish, and lovely dresses! Once we see the girls off at around 7:00, the rest of us are heading to our trailer down on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland to close it up for the season. This was actually a very exciting purchase we just made about a month ago, so we're counting down (already!) to the Summer of 2011!

    Sunday will be grocery shopping day, moving some furniture given to us by my amazing Dad & Stepmom, and then it's time for Baby's 1st Halloween!! I'll save her costume as a surprise for Monday's post because it's really too precious for words and will be much better in picture form.

    I'm sure, as usual, this weekend will fly by in the blink of an eye as they always seem to do. But I always try and take at least a moment or two to just pause and really soak in the moment. In spite of all the rushing and craziness, this is truly the "good stuff". The times that I'll be looking back on years from now and wishing to get even one minute back. So here's to Halloween, and here's to Homecoming, and here's to living in the moment!!

    ** a bit of last minute bonus, exciting, amazing, can't wait to celebrate daughter just learned she scored a 2020 out of 2400 on her SAT's!! SO incredibly proud!!

    Happy (early) Halloween Weekend to everyone!!

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    I knew you were waiting for me

    I have a best friend. I'll call her Maria (not her real name). Maria and I have known each other since birth. Literally. Our moms were best friends, and we were born two weeks apart. We grew up doing absolutely everything together. School, doctors appointments, playdates, everything. We were raised as sisters and occasionally fought like sisters. We both loved our Easy Bake Ovens and our record players (realllly dating myself with that one!). We were obsessed with the movie "Grease" and would play the soundtrack over & over in her basement singing along at the tops of our voices. Most of my childhood memories have her in them, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

    I remember when I told her I was pregnant as a teenager. She did not take it well. There were several people whose support meant a great deal to to me, and most of them, unfortunately, were the ones who took the news the hardest. Not to say she ever suggested I not have the baby. For what it's worth, we were both raised in traditional Catholic homes and the "a" word was never discussed. I do have a distinct memory of her punching the brick wall outside my house when I told her. So yeah, you could say she was...well...disappointed. She was always a bit of a mother hen to me, and I know she disagreed with alot of my choices. Still, she was always and remains the person closest to me and never stopped loving me.

    When B was born, there was no-one else in this world I even considered asking to be her godmother~Maria was it. She was truly touched and honored, and has been an amazing influence in the lives of all of my children and I love her with all of my heart.

    In many ways, Maria ended up living a bit of a fairy tale. She married her high school sweetheart. They bought a beautiful home and several years later, found out they were expecting. I'll never as long as I live forget the phone call I got late one night. "Michelle, are you alone?" "No..." "Well go in another room by yourself!" After doing as she'd asked, I said "Ok...what's going on?? What's wrong?? Are you ok??" Her response? "I just took a pregancy test and it was positive! What do you think that means??" I could only laugh.

    Although she lived hundreds of miles away at the time, I'm thrilled to say I was there within hours of her son's birth nine months later. Shortly after he was born, they moved back home, and several years later, she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She was an amazing mother, not that I ever doubted she would be. She is kind and loving and patient and amazing. Then, almost five years ago, the unthinkable happened. She found out she was expecting again, and we were all thrilled. However, following one of her routine tests, the doctors discovered an abnormality. The baby suffered from something called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. They told her two things for certain: A) He would almost certainly be born prematurely and B) He would be a very sick little boy in need of much medical attention. To say this news was devestating would be a tremendous understatement. She tried to stay as positive as possible, and began seeing specialist after specialist. I accompanied her to one appointment and was truly amazed by her strength and courage.

    On June 24, 2006, her son was born at approximately 26 weeks gestation.  I will never forget her call to me that day. She was so incredibly calm. She told me he was here and asked if I would please come see him as soon as I could. I couldn't get to the hospital fast enough. She was still resting, but said her husband would take me down to the NICU to visit with the baby. My son having been in the NICU 4 years prior, I was thankfully prepared to a degree. But the moment I laid eyes on him my heart sank. He was gorgeous. Looked just like his big brother. But he was so incredibly tiny, and hooked up to so very many machines. I asked the nurse if I could please touch him and she assured me it was fine. I reached down, brushed his tiny little hand with my finger, and then the most amazing thing happened. He grabbed my finger and squeezed. In my heart, I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that this was his way of telling me to stay strong, and to please look after his mom. It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. Two short days later I received another call. The baby had passed. He was just too tiny and his heart was too badly damaged. I was at a complete loss. I was angry. I was devestated. I couldn't for the life of me comprehend how something like this could happen. And at the same time, I was spellbound. By Maria, and her strength. She had just lost a child, yet she was a pillar of courage. She made two requests of me. One, she asked that I phone a number of people we knew to pass along the news. Second, she asked me to speak at the service being planned for the baby several days later.

    The first seemed simple enough. Although an unbelievably difficult thing to communicate, these were some of our dearest friends who were sure to be incredibly supportive and loving. But asking me to speak at his service? I didn't know how~or if~I could possibly find it within myself. I called another dear friend of mine to explain my dilemma. And her words were exactly what I needed "You WILL do this. You will do this for HER. You will do this for HIM. You CAN do this." Somehow, mostly inspired by Maria's strength I believe, I was able to give a beautiful memorial that I think honored his memory perfectly. Since his passing, we have participated annually in the Heart Walk in that precious little miracle's memory.

    About six months after his passing, having been reassured that this was a random tragedy, she conceived again and miscarried at approximately 14 weeks. The pain was still so raw from her prior loss, yet she once again perservered. I am thrilled to say that she gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy last spring (who was also a bit premature, but thriving ever since) and is currently expecting another (surprise!) girl at the end of January. She is currently 25 weeks, and did inform me she was having some contractions over this past weekend. I worry about her and pray for her but trust that God will take care of this precious baby girl.

    Maria has, in many ways, been my one true soul mate. I have seen her at her best, her worst, and loved and admired her every step of the way. I believe that just sharing in her journey has helped me have a much greater understanding and appreciation for all that is good and important and beautiful.

    Please join me in praying for the safe arrival of her sweet baby girl this winter.

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    Fall=Family & Fun

    Fall is my absolute favorite time of year, no question. I love that chill in the air, the gorgeous fall colors. I love pumpkin picking and hayrides and hot chocolate and warm blankets. And most of all, I love being surrounded by my family. Since I feel like I am largely defined by my family, and since fall is the season of thanks, I would like to devote this post to them, and trying to explain to the best of my ability the impact each of them has had on my life so far.

    My oldest daughter, B, turned 18 years old this past spring. For lack of a better way of describing it, I am the person I am today due in most part to her. As stated previously, learning of her impending arrival was one of the greatest shocks yet greatest blessings of my life. While I repeatedly questioned my readiness as a mother at that young (and admittedly selfish) age, I could not deny the unbelievable bond I felt with this child from the moment I learned I was expecting. I was constantly hugging my belly, talking to her, rocking her while still in the womb. I read to her and made her countless promises. There was never so much as a shadow of a doubt in my mind that this baby would be a girl although we never had any ultrasound confirmation. And when I was induced one week early (due to her father's scheduled departure the following week for basic training), all it took was one look at that gorgeous, screaming, chubby 8 lb 8 oz baby girl to change my life forever. B has had an amazingly outgoing, charismatic personality from day one. She's been making people laugh since she learned that specific behaviors solicited the reaction she was looking for. I have been blessed to watch her grow into the most beautiful, intelligent, responsible, hardworking, loving, caring young woman you can possibly imagine. She is in her first year of community college, has been in a loving relationship with an incredible young man for a little over a year now, and is still contemplating career pursuits. But the truth is, I am already bursting with pride and am so very honored to call myself her mother.

    B was only 14 months old when she became a big sister for the first time. A was born on a sweltering July day in 1993. She was the polar opposite of her big sister from the beginning. She was born at a healthy 7 lbs, 15 oz but did not arrive screaming like B. The cord was wrapped around her neck several times, and for what seemed like an eternity, the doctors and nurses attempted to resucitate her. After what was actually only a minute or so, she began to scream and unfortunately didn't stop for most of her first year! Unlike B, who would smile at random strangers and happily go off with anyone if we let her, A quickly developed a preference for me and my mom. By preference I mean that if anyone else at all tried to hold her, talk to her, or basically come near her (her father included), she would scream. She was a tiny little thing which also concerned us as her big sister always had a "layer or two" to spare! The doctors assured us she would just be a little small for her age, and sure enough, at age 17, she only stands at about 4'9. Although she no longer screams at those she's unfamiliar or uncomfortable with, she is definitely very selective with regard to those she chooses to let into her "circle". She is sweet, quiet, and loving, and above all else, one of the brightest young adults I have ever seen. From the time she was in kindergarten, she has had an insatiable passion for learning. She developed a discipline and commitment to her academics that continues to amaze and inspire me to this day. She is currently a senior in high school and is looking at several reputable colleges in hopes of pursing a career as a Neonatologist. She was valedictorian of her middle school and is currently ranked first in her high school class. She has received numerous awards. This kid is going places, my friends. And I am so honored to be along for the ride.

    Several years after the births of B and A, we welcomed the arrival of AB (I know~the letters are confusing!). AB was born the week before Christmas and what a gift from heaven she was. The happiest, most easy going baby I've ever seen. She has always been a "girl on the go"~she can't be still for more than 2 minutes at a time!. As a baby, it was her "Johnny Jump-Up" (a mechanism that hung suspended from a doorway that provided countless hours of jumping & bouncing)~~and boy, did she love that thing. She was far & away my most "girlie girl", always wanting to wear pink and play princess. Even as a toddler, one of her favorite household objects was the mirror, and now as a teenager, it still is to this day! She's always had a flair for the dramatic, and actually spent her middle school years at a local school for the arts as a drama major. She is quite the social butterfly, and has had a circle of friends around her at all times since she first entered preschool. She is sweet and kind and helpful. She can be a bit of an "airhead" at times, but is usually one of the first to laugh at herself. She loves sports and there isn't much she hasn't tried. She's partcipated in basketball, volleyball, cheerleading, gymnastics, soccer, swimming, and will be trying softball for the first time next spring. She is currently a freshman in high school and such a beam of light in our family.

    On a cold winter day in 2002, my little man finally arrived. N was 4 weeks early, and although a healthy size, still experienced some problems due to lung immaturity. He was in the NICU for about a week and a half, but has had Mama wrapped around his finger from day one. He was a sweet, happy, lovable little boy who spent the first couple years of his life obsessed with Thomas the Tank and the Wiggles. He has always had a passion for music, and was quick to start dancing anytime he heard a beat. He developed an early fascination with the guitar and still loves it to this day. He continued to follow the "little boy playbook" and became enamored of cars, trucks, and all things sports. He has been playing t-ball/baseball since the age of 5, and has also tried soccer and basketball. He also loves watching sports and is a huge fan of all of our local professional sports teams. He also recently caught the movie "Rudy" on television, and has now also developed a bit of an obesssion with Notre Dame. He is thoughtful, caring, and has the most gorgeous blue eyes (and long eyelashes!) you've ever seen. He is a Mama and Grandma's boy, and since this past February, his most cherished role has been that of protective big brother.

    Little miss A (yes, another A) was born this past February after the most tumultous pregnancy one can imagine. As previously explained, she was an IVF baby, and as anyone who has gone through IVF can tell you, there is very intense monitoring throughout the first trimester. I was only about five or six weeks along when they first disovered a problem which was later diagnosed as a subchorionic hematoma. Although I'm still not sure I ever completely grasped this, my best understanding is that it is caused by a "tear" in the placenta, and the most prevailing symptom is bleeding. And bled I did. Throughout my ENTIRE preganancy. I spent the entire 33 weeks and 4 days that I carried her fearing for the worst. I had countless trips to the L & D unit of my hospital, too many unscheduled doctor's visits to remember, and said thousands of prayers for the safe arrival of this little miracle. And so it was, in the very early hours one Saturday morning, at 32 weeks, 5 days, that my water broke. I spent the next 6 days in the hospital being monitored before she was born prematurely. Our little angel weighed in at 4 lbs, 10 oz and was more perfect that we could've ever dreamed. She too spent almost 2 weeks in the NICU and did extremely well in her time there. Since that time, she has been more than catching up, and is now the chubbiest, happiest, most amazing bundle of joy in the world. She is the apple of everyone's eye, and as doted upon as one baby can possibly be.

    Last weekend, myself, my fiance, and all the kids (including my oldest's boyfriend who is now like a member of the family) did our annual pumpkin patch trip. There was a hayride and pumpkin picking and apple slinging and animal visiting and fritter eating. It was one of the most joyful and blessed days in recent memory for me. To be surrounded by these incredibly amazing, wonderful, individual personalities and know that they are a part of me and always will be is the most fulfilling feeling in this world. My heart bursts with joy. My cup truly runneth over.

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    A History of Me Part 3 (I promise to wrap it up here!)

    Over the past 2 months, my recipient family & I have exchanged countless emails. We have continued strengthening our bond, and building what has undeniably become a true friendship. My fiance and I discussed how wonderful it would be to be meet these amazing people in person, and so we made the suggestion to see how it might be received. I am thrilled to say it was welcomed with open arms (as I dreamed it would be!) and we began making travel arrangements!

    And so it was that several weeks ago my fiance, our daughter, & I made our way out west to meet our recipient family. I had numerous people inquire as to the potential awkwardness of this situation, and I can honestly say that was never the case (at least for us!). We embraced the moment we saw one another and spent the entire day together as you would with your oldest and dearest friends. We were given a "mini tour" of their city, treated to several yummy meals (including a most delicious margarita!), but most importantly, had time to talk and get to know one another better. They could not have been more kind, hospitable, and generous, even going so far as to give our daughter a precious stuffed toy and myself a beautiful painting by a local artist. I presented her with a charm I'd worn throughout my IVF cycle, in the hopes it might bring her the same luck and blessings. That visit, short though it was, will always remain a cherished memory.

    I must admit one of the most difficult aspects of this process thus far has been deciding where to "draw the line", so to speak. What I mean by that is even though we've agreed to keep this an open arrangement, I very much want to give this couple the respect and privacy they deserve, while still remaining open to anything they feel comfortable sharing. Our legal contract stipulates that we be made aware of any resulting pregnancies, birth information, health issues with the potential child(ren), and have at least several annual updates. I have no concerns whatsoever of this becoming an issue. But it is so important to me to not become too overbearing or intrusive, while still hoping to remain "involved".

    As of this month, our recipient mom has begun the birth control pill stage of her cycle (still find that so incredibly ironic!) and we are beside ourselves with anticipation and excitement! In another interesting turn of events, we recently learned they will be coming here for their transfer! Apparently our clinic has much higher success rates with both the thawing of the embryos as well as the transfer success rate itself. The procedure has been slated for early December.

    We feel so incredibly blessed to have been led to this couple, and have absolutely no doubt that this union was destined to be. Just as I hear many infertile women speak to the injustice of some incredibly unfit, undeserving women being able to easily conceive and bear children, I too find it beyond comprehension that so many beautiful, loving, compassionate women are denied the role of mother. One look in this woman's eyes, and I no longer saw a stranger I'd met online, but the mother of these future children.

    Further affirmation that God is most certainly good.

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    A History of Me Part Deux

    Having made the decision to donate our frozen embryos to an infertile couple, we contacted our clinic to determine the next steps in the process. I assumed that we would be working together with our clinic to place the embryos with a deserving couple. I was wrong. My clinic informed me that once our decision had been made, the only measure they took was to agree to hold the embryos until we decided where they should be placed. The responsibility of finding a recipient couple was in our hands alone.

    I must admit I was initially taken aback by this, not to mention incredibly intimidated. How would I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that we were making the right choice? And more importantly~who was I to play God and decide which couple was most deserving of this opportunity? I felt like having been through IVF, I'd been given just the tiniest glimpse through the infertility peephole. Having seen firsthand the hope, the heartache, the relentless emotional rollercoaster that existed in this sacred world, did I dare venture back into it, knowing I might be able to give just one person what could potentially be the answer to their prayers?

    I decided that I needed to know more, needed to have a better understanding of what some of these women had experienced. I spent countless hours on the internet reading websites, blogs, anything I could get my hands on about living with infertility. I shed countless tears, my heart aching for these women I didn't even know. Weeping tears for the children that would never be theirs, or in some cases, the children they lost too soon. It was on one of these sites that I first saw her. The woman who would forever become a part of my life. I read her tale of heartache, how after her struggle for years with infertility she finally conceived through their one and only round of IVF in the hopes of having a genetic child. The joy they experienced upon learning she was expecting, only to have their world come crashing in about 6 months later when their beautiful daughter was born severely prematurely, and taken back to heaven a short time later. I felt an instantaneous bond with this woman that words cannot explain. The pain I felt for her was the pain you feel for a dear friend, someone with whom you share an inexplicable connection.

    The memory of this woman stayed with me as I searched the websites provided by my clinic which handled the still evolving process of embryo donation. I searched page after page, profile after profile, and nothing seemed right. Nothing seemed to fit. In the course of all of my research, I'd located another website not provided by my clinic called Miracles Waiting. Upon registering on their site, I started reading profiles and was literally breathless. The same woman I'd found on one of the blogs~the woman with whom I'd felt an immediate connection~had placed an ad on this site. Sitting at my desk at work, tears started streaming down my face. It was her. I've never felt more certain of anything in my life. This was the woman I'd been looking for.

    I immediately emailed her to introduce myself, to find out if this could truly be the answer to my prayers. After several exchanges, I learned that she & her husband had all but given up hope on the possibility of embryo adoption. In fact, they had begun to take the steps toward domestic adoption. I felt my spirits deflate. While extremely grateful and forthcoming, she requested some time to reflect so that she & her husband could be sure they were making the right decision. She asked to have the weekend to consider, with the promise to respond by Monday. Naturally, I could not deny her this request. I sincerely appreciated her honesty. But while I still hoped for the best, I felt as though I also needed to prepare myself for the worst.

    Over that weekend, I started reading several other profiles in the event this woman felt as though she wasn't able to proceed. I came across another profile that caught my eye, and after several exchanges began to feel a connection with this woman as well. My emotional investment was now at an all-time high. I had two women with whom I felt a bond, but I would only be able to potentially help one of them. That Sunday evening, I received a response from the woman I'd initially contacted telling me (much to my delighted surprise) that they would very much like to accept our offer! I was elated. And just as quickly I was hit with what felt like a blow to the gut. I now needed to tell the 2nd woman I'd been in contact with that our initial couple had accepted. I had never given the other woman any type of definitive commitment and she was very much aware that I'd previously been in contact with someone else. But it did not make the delivery of this news any easier. She handled it with the utmost respect and gratitude.

    Now that the connection had been established and we had been undeniably led to one another, it was time to officially start the process that would forever change both of our lives. And it is there I will continue tomorrow.

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    A History of Me

    I must begin my story with a bit of a disclaimer. I find myself at this particular crossroads under the most unique of circumstances. For almost two years now, I have been a part of the heartbreaking yet unbelievably inspiring world of infertility. However, I did not reach this place wearing the same badges of bravery and resilience that virtually every other woman on this journey has earned.

    I officially entered the wonderful world of motherhood at the tender age of 19. I was one of those "irresponsible teenagers" that I've heard infertile mothers curse time and time again for their ability to so easily conceive while their repeated prayers and attempts continued to be in vain. For what it's worth, and I realize it may not be much, I have at times suffered feelings of tremendous guilt for that very reason. Why me? Why should I have been able to get pregnant so easily at a time in my life when I was completely unprepared for motherhood? When there were countless women out there who wanted and deserved it so very much more? I also understand that this could lead to the inevitable question of why I didn't then consider adoption, therefore helping to fulfill one of these women's dreams. I have no easy answer. All I knew was whether we planned it or not, whether I was ready or not, this baby was coming. And I was going to be her mommy.

    My beautiful, chubby little angel arrived in the spring of 1992, and was followed a year and a half later by my precious little peanut. Two years after that my sweet little princess arrived, and finally my handsome little man arrived on a cold January day in 2002. Four kids and ten years later, I was sure I was done having children, and had a tubal ligation. Chapter closed. Or so I thought.

    As we all know too well, "life happens", and in 2006 I found myself a single mom. My primary focus remained, as always, my family. The last thing I was looking for was another relationship. Which, of course, is always when the opportunity seems to present itself. I met the man who would become my fiance and fell more deeply in love than I ever imagined possible. He was 11 years my junior, had never been married, and had no children of his own. After 2 years of being together, we were engaged. And as I was rapidly approaching the big 4-0, we decided that if we wanted to have a biological child together, there was no time like the present.

    And so it was that Michelle~aka "Fertile Myrtle"~inexplicably entered the world of "infertility".

    In the winter of 2009, we scheduled an appointment with an RE, and were quickly informed that my tubal ligation was in fact irreversible. IVF was our only opportunity to conceive. We followed a relatively standard protocol, and were blessed to produce a total of  13 follies. Seven of those 13 fertilized and made it to the day 5 blastocyst stage! We decided to transfer only one, as I'd proven to have no issues with fertility in my "previous life" and were therefore convinced that however many we transferred was how many we'd get! One tumultuous pregnancy later, our precious little pink miracle was born. I was head over heels in love once more, and truly felt as though my life was now complete.

    Fast forward to July 2010. We received a letter in the mail from our clinic informing us that our 1 year storage fee for our remaning 6 frozen embryos was about to expire and we now had a decision to make. Our choices were: pay $400 to store them an additional year, "dispose of them", donate them for research, or donate them to an infertile couple. My fiance's immediate reaction? Donate them to an infertile couple. My immediate reaction? Fear and disbelief. Let's take these options and dissect them one by one. Pay to continue storing them? No logical reason to do so other than perhaps procrastination. We'd already decided our family was complete. Dispose of them? DISPOSE of them? One look at my sweet angel's face and this was not something I was even remotely willing to consider. Next? Research. Donate them for research. On the one hand, I felt very strongly about this option. I feel like there is so much good to be accomplished by such a courageous choice. Yet I also knew it was not a choice that I personally was willing or able to make.

    And then there was one.

    Several heartwrenching, soul searching days later I knew what needed to be done.

    Tomorrow, I will continue the story of our amazing journey thus far. A journey that led me to a missing piece of my family that I never knew existed.