Then They Made T-Shirts You Can Buy: Why We Stopped Saying ‘Fundraising’ (so much)

The holidays were a very busy time for us as normal people. We had lots of time together and with family. They went by in a bit of a blur as we balanced all the to-dos with the why-we-do it all. We ate a lot of good food, we thanked God, and we celebrated all we have. It was a good season. It was also very busy for Team Dream Baby! Our awesome Babycakes event in November raised just over $2,000 in total for our future little Dream Bean. To feel so blessed, supported, and loved on our journey was refreshing and much needed after a very challenging year of planning and re-planning. It was unbelievable, as people we didn’t even know poured out so much love and support for us on that day.GS-hands

Winter Bake-a-Thon was a big success as well. Smaller scale than our Babycakes event, it brought in roughly $150. My kitchen was quite the buzz for weeks and I’ve not fully finished cleaning up from the crazy even yet! It was such a fun experience to do this adventure a little differently than I have in the past. I have been doing this thing I call Bake-a-Thon since 2008, but it formerly existed only as a way to make cheap gifts for family, friends and (mainly) SL’s co-workers. This year felt really different, weird almost at first, doing this on an paid order basis. At my friend’s requests I’ve done a total of three paid orders (for the same 2 people) in the past and while the money from them went to the baby fund, they were smaller projects and only one at a time. I was both surprised and impressed by the response I received; one person actually told me I should be charging more because my cookies are that good.

THAT good , indeed!
THAT good, indeed!

A friend from out of town donated and specified that I could bless someone local with an order, as I didn’t offer shipping this go. (I sent her a box of goodies because I was so touched by her sweet gesture.) I am thinking about making shipping an option in the future as it wasn’t all that hard to do. While my schedule post Christmas was pretty insane and I am still working on getting my kitchen back in order, I love baking so; I’d do it all again in the lick of a buttery spatula covered with chocolate!Bake-a-Thon4Bake-a-Thon6

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A Great Big THANK YOU to all who ordered and helped make the 2015/16Winter Bake-a-Thon a big hit! There will be more Bake-a-Thon opportunities coming up in 2016. Keep an eye out for those announcements, especially if you are a lover of all things buttery-ly amazing!!

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As the years go by and the funds build slowly, it has been pointed out to me several times that Team Dream Baby doesn’t fit everyone’s definition of fundraising. The point that people have made clear to me in a myriad of ways (sometimes politely, other times, not so much) is that we are not benefiting any collective effort/cause so calling it fundraising is misleading. While I could argue that our baby will be/is a collective effort of the greatest proportion and probably win that debate by a landslide, I won’t for now. Because, no – the money we are collecting is not going to benefit anyone else. No global purpose is being served and traditionally, I can agree that fundraising has a benevolent, charitable intent behind it. So, if you need/want to strip what we are doing down to its core, I guess we are merely beggars. We are just standing on a street corner with a giant cardboard sign advertising our inability to conceive a child traditionally. We are not fundraising, they argue, only collecting and saving money for our future use. Yep. I guess that’s true. We are doing so to offset the cost of our phenomenally expensive choice on the path to parenthood. We aren’t trying to end global infertility or address any other need anywhere. The only “need” that TDB really addresses is mine. It is driven by my desire to be a mother. It is fueled by my longing to see my little one’s face someday and to hear her call me Mama. It is sustained by my vision of seeing him riding on his Daddy’s shoulders at Disney World.

Sometimes, when I think about it, I feel really really really selfish. I don’t need a baby. There are starving, misplaced, abused, and orphaned children everywhere. There are homeless refugees and veterans (along with countless other mothers and fathers) who can’t shelter their babies in the winter or the wind. There are babies being killed and sold and stolen all over the world. There are medical crises, war-torn nations, school shootings, clean water shortages, and educational funding nightmares in news broadcasts every day. I hear and see them. My heart breaks for all of the above; for the measureless tragic circumstances that plague our broken world. I could (some would argue should) be giving all this money we’re collecting to aid in some of the overwhelming streams of real, tangible societal needs. But I’m not. Instead, I’m asking you to give it to me – to us – because I want to be a mom.

This struggle over how to term our efforts isn’t new; I’ve been as clear as I’ve known how to be as we’ve developed the vision and plan to pursue our goal. This year as we begin our plans for 2016, I’m hoping to be increasingly clear about what we are and are not doing. The reality is that this issue  – calling it fundraising or not – probably only matters to me (and maybe the handful of people who voiced their opinions kindly or otherwise).

Maybe I’m making a mountain of a mole hill. Maybe it’s a little because I care what other people think. Maybe it’s because I want to be transparent. Maybe it’s because sometimes I feel like we are judged for the choice that is right for us. Maybe it is because I want our campaign to appeal to the masses and be successful. Likely, the answer to all of those maybes is “yes.” Honestly, when they are raw and unrehearsed, my motives for motherhood sometimes feel a little selfish. But the one thing I know is that I don’t ever want to follow selfish motives on this journey. If you know me well, sometimes you know I ‘joke’ about being a baby-whore. Truthfully though, there are days when infertility feels like it has reduced me to that place of desperation. I will do anything to get this baby into my arms someday! Then, when I feel the most selfish, I remember mom is seldom near selfish in definition. (In the case it is, I cry. Pretty.damn.hard.) I know my desire to become a mom is not a NEED. However, as I already identify as a mom to our future child, I know that all of you who are already or long to be moms, know this truth deep inside of you: I will do anything for my child.

So while I technically think what we are doing fits within the dictionary definition of fundraising, I do find valid the point that our efforts are not charitable or global in any way…and so, I’m going to begin using the term “fundraising” less. When I started researching how to do this gestational surrogacy thing without debt, I gleaned a lot of my information from following ideas and topics around the google search “adoption fundraising.” Fundraising is what guided my learning process because we needed to raise funds! It became the term I used.

Team Dream Baby is not a charity. We are simply a couple standing in the face of infertility making a choice that is right for us. We are blessed and privileged to be where we are today, making these decisions that will be best for our future family.  [Read: We aren’t needy. (We buy the latest iPhone (because we want it) and drive an EV (to reduce our ecological footprint and because it is pretty)…well, one of us does both those things anyway.) So give to established charitable organizations before you consider giving to us.] We know our path is expensive, complicated, and controversial. We want to be transparent – ultimately, while we’d love to adopt, we cannot. We enjoy giving charitably from our incomes on a regular basis and as we are blessed on this journey, our heart to bless others through our charitable giving only grows bigger. As we begin our funding campaigns in 2016, I also want to be clear that we are actively saving independantly and making our own contributions to this plan along the way. Also, we plan to apply for grant offerings when we are closer to our goal.

We are really excited about our plans for 2016! We are still a long way from our goal, but it’s ok. It will take some time to reach and as we go we are driven forward by the success of our previous efforts and the growing community of generous Brave Souls that join our journey. We have lots of ideas in the planning stages for this year. There will of course be garage sale season to capitalize on once the snow and cold remove themselves from our midwestern lifestyle. (Groundhog did not see his shadow!! Early Spring! Yay!) As we create new ideas to bolster our funds and make a decent “bang for our buck” it is always important to us to have fund-giving experiences that bless our blessers as much as they bless us. We are constantly getting information about new fun ways to raise money – if you have any ideas or help to offer, feel free to comment with suggestions or opportunities!! You can always email us (at) teamdreambaby@gmail.com. We also have a FaceBook page, and a twitter account so if you’re on those social media platforms add us and follow our journey!

Our newest fund-gathering plan is in the final drum-roll worthy stage. So can I get a drum roll please???  We just launched our t-shirt campaign at bonfirefunds.com. We want everyone to get SUPER excited about our Team Dream Baby t-shirts. We want you all to buy one! Or three. Or one in every style! (No, but seriously, get one and wear it!) Because. We made a t-shirt. It’s quippy and cute and gender neutral. It has a hashtag. #teamdreambaby. We want your to wear it and advertise our dream.TDBShirtFrontTDBShirtBack

The Marilyn Moment

These days leading up to Christmas have a way of eating me whole. Like the cookies I am preparing to make, the days disappear all too quickly. There’s so much to get done, so much to go to, and so on. For me, it’s really tough to find time to slow down and really reflect on anything. Every year in November I have these grand plans of how I will carve out time to sit and and reflect on the Reason for the Season. Then, the belly of December digests the days before I realize I haven’t made good on my plans. While I’ve been too busy wrapping gifts and baking (more accurately at this stage, the buying gifts and planning/purchasing elements of  the baking menu have consumed my month) the Reason caught up to me, quite literally, in a most unexpected event.

I try my best to avoid shopping entirely on the weekends. I’m pretty spoiled in that I usually can manage it. But the belly of December is deep and full right now, and my plans for gifts and cookies ended me smack dab in the middle of a crowed Wal-Mart parking lot today. I had a very specific list of things I could not find at other local stores. I was going to be focused and fast. I immediately lost my cool at the sight of the packed parking lot and started internally cursing the “Wal-Mart people” (you know the ones I mean…I mean…man, I’m so mean.) in my head before I had managed to turn into the actual lot.

No sooner than I got out of my tiny car, did I start feeling the dread of all the things I fight every.single.time I enter any store as an infertile woman. See, I avoid shopping on the weekends not so much becuase of the crowds/lines as becuase of the families. Becuase it really hurts to much to buy my goceriecs in the midst of all the beautiful family choas that occurs in the store. I really can’t handle all the kids running, screaming, and misbehaving becuase all.of.the.time the only thing I wish is that one of those precious screaming children were mine to yell at! (Do believe me when I tell you, mine won’t be better behaved than yours…and I really don’t believe that I will never yell in a store, even though I will try my hardest to communicate with my family without yelling.).

I cannot describe how paralyzingly painful the store can be for me somedays. If you have ever longed for a family like we do, you know, even if you have one there to yell at today. For those Momma’s who are lucky enough to not know that kind of pain, sometimes what you may perceive as “judgment” for yelling at your kids in the store is really just our infertile sadness & bitterness. We are not judging, we’re just jealous. (Not saying that is better.)

This afternoon, after some minutes of internal collapse in my car, I resolved to  get out and tackle my specific list. “Remember to grab the bags for the recycling!” I announced verbally to myself as I gathered my nerve. As I closed my trunk, out of the corner of my eye, I saw an elderly woman with fear of never finding her car painted all over her face.

She was so very lost and confused…and she was going to get hit by a car. I offered to help her locate her vehicle. We went on an APB in that crowded parking lot. Before we found it, she was convinced she forgot to lock it and someone had stolen it. I was pretty sure it was just a matter memory, but I tried to reassure her as best I could. Eventually I asked her if she trusted me with her keys, (of course the panic button and locks were not properly set up on to make noise on her older model key fob) while she waited on a curb/sidewalk thingy to let me search at a slightly faster pace than we could together. As I took her keys, I told her my name, as if that would assure her I wasn’t going to be the one stealing her car. She gave me her name then too. 

I found her car rather quickly. She was so relieved she cried when I handed her back her keys. She thanked me, she hugged me. I told her to have a great Christmas. She said a couple “thank yous” and “you’re so sweets” during our quick hug. She asked if you buy me lunch. I plainly said she could not. She said “You talk to God everyday, don’t you?” I replied with a “Yes.” Then she cried a little more. 

We stood there, Marilyn and I, in that busy parking lot for probably a half an hour. In the misty middle of the afternoon, we put the December hungers aside a moment to connect with each other with our Reason.

She told me how God had worked in her life faithfully over and over again. Here are a few highlights of what I learned: Marilyn was supposed to die when she was 28. Doctors performed risky experimental surgery on her and she woke up days later in the dying room. She did not die. She is a miracle. Her son was diagnosed with brain damage at birth, they advised her to unplug the incubator. She declined the advice, insuring doctors he was a gift from God and she’d care for him as long as he had. She took an ill son home and cared and cared and prayed and prayed. He never moved on his own, but she said she could always tell he was mentally present for everything. One day “8 months later” (not clear if that was the baby’s age or a passage of time after he was home) she was preparing dinner when he pulled himself up on a coffee table in the next room and looked at her like, “what’s next?” She called her husband home from work that day, saying they had another miracle.  (When I asked her if her son is a normal functional adult today, she replied, “Sure, if you’d can consider a lawyer normal and functional.” I might have peed a little, it was so funny!). 

The last thing I learned was about her husband, who went into a serious funk when doctors told him he was going to die by 50. His 51st year was spent waiting for death. He lived into his 70’s. I’d be willing to bet he was a fantastic man. And I’ll bet he was smiling in heaven while watching  us stand there talking in the rain.

Infertility is hard every day. Holidays are so so hard. If you’re on your own IF journey this year, I pray you have a moment like this where  your Reason finds you and whispers to you – so loudly you can’t even  miss it if you try.

Babycakes Brunch & Baskets

We are settling now after a beautiful  a holiday week where THANKS is ALL we have to GIVE. We are certainly thankful for the  many people – family, friends and strangers – who came together to support and cheer us on along our journey at Babycakes Brunch & Baskets. I almost made it through the day without crying. Almost.

Last Sunday is a day I will be long in forgetting. The love and support we had poured on us was warm and gooey – like the syrup on the delicious pancakes we served our guests! Such amazing food, gorgeous baskets, raffle prizes, face-painting and photos w/Santa made the day oh-so-so perfect. One dear friend described it back to me as “…such a peaceful and relaxing time.” – which was honestly – quite a shock. From my perspective it seemed anything but peaceful and relaxing – it was great – so great – but just go.go.go. For me, crazed and hectic were more accurate descriptors. My heart was warmed even more to hear that we met our goal of giving people a nice space and a REALLY fun morning.

I want to take a  moment and public ally thank our AWEsome team of helpers/volunteers. I wish I could name each of you, but I’d miss someone. I just know I would. There will never be enough I can do to thank all of you! I have seldom (if ever) been in a room with people that can bring such crazy visions to life as well as these fabulous people did for us on Sunday. My sweet Brave Soul, Brooke, has a special thank you place in my heart – for without her involvement, this event would have never taken flight.

We’re still tallying totals, but I am very confident in reporting that this was the largest and MOST FUN funding event we’ve held on our Team Dream Baby journey to date!! I’ll report a total # of what this even brought in as soon as we have it tallied. For now, enjoy these photos and make plans to come to our next event! I have a feeling they will only be getting better and better as we go along!

So many generous donations!!
on our way to Babycakes Brunch
💜 Her face! Just like a kid on Christmas morning!!

The Forever Kind

In honor of her 34th birthday today, I want to celebrate my friend – the one I’ve been alluding to in many of my post but have not identified to all you Brave Souls who have joined our journey.  


I have a great story to tell today. I have a great story to tell about a great woman. I have a great story to tell about a great woman who was just a girl when I met her.

I was just a girl too. It was the beginning of the school year, 1994. I was finally a freshman!! I was nervous and excited at the same time. I felt fairly ridiculous in my plaid skirt and shirt embroidered with my school’s name on the front. I had not been in a school building since the 3rd grade. So going to school was a big deal for me. Never mind that I was beginning my journey at a Catholic school, in a plaid wool skirt at the end of August. Also, I was not Catholic. I was raised as a combination of Evangelical, Assembly’s of God, and Non-denominational Christian. (And no, I wasn’t truant for 5 years, I was homeschooled in the late ’80’s and early 90’s.) 

Freshman at our school had half-lockers. Mine was on the bottom. They were bright yellow, and in the basement of our school. As if freshman don’t stand out enough, our lockers were simply sore thumbs that drove that point home. They were the color of big bird and stacked one on top of the other like the building blocks we played with in pre-school. To just add fuel to the newbie-fire, the rest of the school had green full-sized lockers. Seriously – with the wool uniform skirts, the mini-big-bird-lockers, the theology classes, the weekly mandatory mass, and the hallway that always smelled like marijuana – it’s really incredible any of us ever made any friends. What’s more amazing to me is that one of the friends I made during my time in the above mentioned chaos disguised as education has become such an amazing and irreplaceable gift to my soul.

The first time I saw her was at our lockers the first morning of high school. She had the yellow half locker next to mine. One of the first things I noticed about her was her equally sweet and shy smile. I don’t think we said much, if anything to each other that first time we saw each other. We were both too nervous at that first encounter. Our newbie minds were overwhelmed with remembering the combination to our locks, and having to carry the right books to classrooms we had no idea how to navigate our way toward. (We weren’t allowed to carry backpacks through the halls. And yes, freshman do gets books knocked out of their hands for just for kicks.)

We ended up walking to our first class pretty much together in a silent understanding of figuring it out one step at a time. By 2nd period, the sweet smiling girl had a name. Buy 4th period we’d been in every class together and we’d chosen seats near one another in every subsequent class in solidarity, if nothing else. When we were exchanging info on the rest of our first day’s schedule we learned we had band together. That naturally lead to the question “what do you play?” We both played flute. That was the connection we needed then. The flute remains a big part of our story even though both of us have long since neglected the instruments which were our instant forever connection. 

We had no idea that first day that our friendship would be the forever kind. But we both now we realize we know the One who did. 

That first day we had no idea that we’d eventually be college roommates for a year. We had no idea that it would be through our friendship that her younger sister would become aquatinted with her now husband. We had no idea that I would attend her wedding months after her older sister was diagnosed with stage  4 bile-duct/liver cancer. We had no idea that she’d meet her husband and I’d meet my helpmate. We dreamed and thought of so many things together -some of which have become reality and so of which were just dreams that fizzled out for whatever reason. One time, we talked about starting a business together, but it wasn’t the right time – perhaps we will pick that dream up again someday. 

I cried that day she brought me to her first owned home and on the tour announced “This will be the nursery, we’re pregnant!!” I had no idea the closeness I’d develop to her children who now call me Auntie Katy. We had no idea that in October of 2013, after learning the devastating news that I couldn’t/shouldn’t carry a pregnancy, that she would sit on the couch in my living room and genuinely offer to carry a baby for us. 

As high school freshmen, we couldn’t have imagined the amazing joys and horrible sorrows that life would throw our direction. For so many, many of our journeys through this life, doing it with the other would have been impossible. I am blessed beyond measure by this wonderful friend God designed for me. I could try to explain how much so, but fear my mere words would fail the task. I’m forever thankful for a faithful God who knew we’d need each other in this life. Who knew just how to knit together the ties of our lives “for such a time as this” – over and over and over again through our  20 years of friendship. (Yes we really are that old now..ugh.)

We don’t know what is in store for the next part of our story. For this phase of our friendship. But we know the One who does. And we’re all trusting that He knows and has all of us and the future of our new adventures together secured in His strong and mighty hands. The one thing I am sure of is that she and I will remain forever friends. 

So here’s to you, sweet friend. Happy Birthday!! Thank you for allowing God to develop you into who you are. You amaze me. I love you. Forever!

Crazy Katy Train

Today the newest member of my healthcare team joined aboard the Crazy Katy Train. I think the thing I will most remember from today was not even remotely medically related. She told me this: ” ‘Best friend’ is a level, not a person.” [She quoted this from a woman she knows who wrote this in her book & blog (sorry can’t remember the name to credit the right person)]

I am so blessed by all my “bests” and I want shout it from the roof-tops. You are all amazing people for being on the journey that is my life; it is forever changed by all of you who care for me on that level. 

Welcome to my world, Dr. Eve Feinberg. It’s a pretty great, incredibly unique, crazy-train kind of world. And today you made it a little better by entering it.