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.