Synchroblog for Night Driving/The Intersection of Faith & Family Building: Part One

Forgive this beginning. It’s a little rough. I planned on using part of this in a different format and couldn’t bare to change it. So I added and reworked it for this. I will eventually put it in its intended place on a support group at Inspire through Resolve. Only because I had already started writing it down was it even feasible to consider finishing it…which of course turned into (ahem!) the beginning of a whole series. I couldn’t get it all out in time for this amazing syncroblog book launch. This started as a plea from my soul for my current dark place: infertility. It is hardly the only dark place in my life, but it is the one where I spend the most time these days. When I learned about the Night Driving syncroblog for Addie’s new book launch; I instantly knew this writing needed to morph into the beginning of something very different.

Now, bear with me for a few moments as I do a quick unsolicited plug for Addie and her amazing new book Night Driving. Read it. It will be amazing. I’m sure! It’s impossible for me to explain in any other way: I’m madly in love awe with this woman!! I have a huge writer crush on her and maybe a little bit want to be her. (Addie, do forgive me for making it public like this! It’s just that everyone should know really – it’s been almost two months!) All jokes aside, as a writer I have so much love and respect for Addie. I identify intensely with her words. As I’ve read them I often find myself exclaiming that I could have penned them! I think this is partly because I am a writer. I think it is partly because I am on a very similar path of trying to untangle my own upbringing through the Evangelical webs she writes about so candidly in her first book. I think it is partly because I also struggle with Depression. Currently, I am inhaling her words like deep breaths. Every. Single. One. I’ve read many of her recent blogs and am slowly making my way through When We Were On Fire. With ever chapter, I am finding myself simultaneously angry (that I didn’t know about it two years ago) and overjoyed (because it has come in the “now” to encourage and prompt me forward at just.the.right.time). I didn’t even know Addie was alive until the end of January. Her bravery and candor have helped me – in so many ways – over the last (almost) two months. I feel more free in my own skin than I may have at any point in my life. It feels like her words have given my not-so-Brave-Soul enough courage to stop running around in the circles of the darkness of my own heart and finally just speak out. Into the darkness. Without expectation of finding light. That hasn’t been an option for me previously. I’m ridiculously excited to have this outlet for my story. I am without doubt that the timing of this has all been written by the Divine. While I know full well that Addie didn’t intend it so, it feels very much like this synrochoblg was designed specifically for me. It is the very push I needed to finally tell the story people have spent most of my life trying to convince me to write.

So grab a flashlight (if you need one) and join me, Brave Souls. The lights are about to go out.

The Intersection of Faith and Family Building: Part One


On Why I Need a Support Group

There’s a game we used to play in college called “I Have Never.” Until now I could have answered “I have never…joined a support group.” I’ve come to the point where I can no longer journey on this crazy road of infertility (IF) “alone.” I’m not alone, I know. Not really. My life is full of supportive people. I am blessed beyond measure with amazing family, friends, and framily (new word, you do the math!). I have so many people. I love all my people. It’s a pretty incredible thing to be able to say that even two and a half years into our IF journey, people I currently know and trust have filled my need for a supportive community. I am thankful for the myriad of blessings that last statement represents. Another key person in my support network is an amazing therapist. She entered stage left when my shit really hit the fan when I was a young teenager; dealing with the heartbreak of losing my first love. I was kind of forced there by my loving parents after threatening to end my life at the end of my 10-month-long first relationship. I tend toward dramatic, not gonna lie. But really, it crushed me then. It was a brilliant move on the part of my parents to drag 15-year-old me there that night to her office in my brown suede jacket. Since then, I have been able to see my therapist on a regular basis throughout every pitch black corner my life has been bent around. These days I drive 1.5 hours to get to her office at least every 3 months (often more). She truly is invaluable.

I know – I have always known – that support groups are available. I have recommended support groups to other people. I even have some training in how to run support groups from the brief time I spent in an MSW program. I just didn’t think I ever belonged in one. Or, maybe worse, I didn’t think I needed one.

I’ve had a very messed up view of support groups. (I have a very messed up view of a lot of things…). It’s safe to summarize though that I’ve never liked them much. While not always true, I’ve found support groups to be darker places than I can handle. Then again, I’ve never invested very much time trying to really belong to one. My past very minimal experience with them however, convinced me I needed to stay very far from what ever was happening in these groups. Now, I see it as a self-protective reaction to my narrow access of experiences. There was just too much darkness there for my naive and sheltered heart. My heart which only knew how to search one very narrow path to the Light; get out of the darkness as fast as possible. Go Into the Light. Finally, through many years of defining, losing, and then re-defining my faith, I think have found a doorway to enter into the darkness where I find my faithful and constantly broken heart. Support groups, at least one of them, will be very different for me now.

When considering a Third Party Reproduction option as the path to parenthood it doesn’t feel lonely but the opposite; I think it feels over-crowded. So many nights I wish it could just be him & me and a bottle of wine, like it is for normal regular fertile people. It can’t be like that for us though. So while we travel this path where it is leading us, even though we have a wonderful village surrounding us, I think I need to find a different village. I need a village on a journey that looks more like mine. Because when it comes down to it, I can talk to my my partner, my fertile friends, my family, my very amazing therapist, and every Target cashier from IL to Texas, all.day.long; at the end of the day I still wind up feeling alone and isolated. WITHOUT. Without a baby. Without the ability to conceive. Without anyone who really gets this place of failure and isolation I feel so deeply today.

Truth is though, I’m not sure I really even belong here. These IF support group boards are so full of people talking about cycles and embryos and transfers – successful or otherwise. Reading them makes me feel like a misfit toy. I have spots on my face, my buttons are sewn on sideways with the holes to fasten them together just out of my reach of my stubby little fingers.

One of the reasons I’ve stayed away from this space – support groups – is that I fear I will still feel alone after I reach out and make myself vulnerable. I’m praying I’m wrong. I’m hoping that my desire to enter into a village of people whose heartbeats resound in empty spaces instead of in screams of the children is met with similarly spotted faces. Writing this I know that even if I don’t find that here, even if I am the misfit of the all the misfits, part of me needs this step to move forward – to level up and begin the next phase of this amazing story that I’m in charge of writing.

Of course, if you know me you, you understand that to the best of my ability, I have sought to write my story only with the guidance and grace of the Great God of the universe. When He created this whole insane universe, vast and complex as we know it to be today, I have faith in this: surely He didn’t create my life outside His grasp of the very complicated things.
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My blog is singularly focused on this relatively new Team Dream Baby journey. I don’t talk too much about my faith here. That’s been very much on purpose. Truth is, our TDB journey has been a HUGE part of the restoration of my faith. I have been processing in other places because of the controversial nature of how we are choosing to build our family. The use of the word ‘surrogacy’ causes a lot of waves in the faith-based communities of my youth. Really, surrogacy is just pretty controversial anywhere. [Challenge: Bring up ‘gestational surrogacy’ (use our story if you can’t find another reason) next time you’re anywhere just for kicks and comment on the questions that follow! That would be a really fun exercise!]

For those of you who don’t know me pre-TDB, there is a lot about my life that isn’t on the pages of this blog. It couldn’t live here at first. The rest of my life and this new crazy amazing adventure needed to be separate. They aren’t separate though and I’m kind of tired of forcing my faith apart from my future family. It’s exhausting. So I’m getting ready to run the giant flashing red light at the intersection of Faith & Family Building. I’m gonna cause a huge crash, and we’re gonna need a lot of Brave Souls to join the rescue crew.
If you do know me, you know that my faith has always – even when I lost it completely – driven my life. My faith is my compass, albeit the magnet a little loose. No matter which direction it points me, I always find my way Home. To the God who created me just as I am. Our future child is not where I place my faith, but the dream of him (or her) in my arms forces me to refine my faith even when it’s scary as hell and I’d rather just flush it all down a drain.
I focus on happy and hopeful things on the blog a lot. When you’re asking people to fund your dream, as we are, I don’t think it’s ‘smart marketing’ to be a negative nelly. I’ve learned so many new things on this path. For example how to self-host a blog, what a “synchroblog” even is! (I am ever evolving and learning this blogging stuff as I go. Thanks for the patience as I put it all together so slowly. Really, so BRAVE!) I’ve learned so much about Family Building options I never knew. I have woken a passion for the infertility community that I hope to expand upon in days and years to come. It’s been one of the best times of my life. It’s also been one of the most difficult and darkest places I’ve ever traveled. In a lot of ways though, I’m thriving in ways I never thought possible. I cannot genuinely tribute the hope and light I’ve found on this journey without describing more of the darkness of my life.

Please stay tuned for

The Intersection of Faith and Family Building: Part Two


 

My Life of Chronic Pain

Preview:

“… Sixteen years into our relationship, my neurologist continues to shake his head at me and call me an enigma in our regular appointments. He’s basically been doing that since the day we met. I baffle really well trained intelligent medical professionals on regular basis. Sometimes I joke that part of my purpose in life is so they don’t get big heads and think they have all the answers. Though it’s a joke mostly, there is a space in my heart where – having baffled teams of doctors at The Mayo Clinic and several University Hospitals and all.the.specialists I see – it also feels like a real genuine part of why I’m here. I’ve made peace with it over the years but it wasn’t always so easy to joke about it.

In 1994 at what was then, Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago (Now Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital Chicago), two days before my 14th birthday, I was spun into a tornado of testing that plopped me quite roughly in a very big (and equally vague) autoimmune disease bucket. …”

A Little Drop of Hope 

I’m wide eyed tonight when I should be settling for sleep. Instead, I’m laying here. I’m praying about tomorrow and feeling excited. I might even be a little giddy with ideas of things that might be in store this year for our TDB journey. I’m also so terrified of it all at the exact same time. 

It’s a been a really long road so far – and the end feel so very far away still. Discouragement has crept in more than I care to admit lately. It’s just so hard to hope for something that seems so far away. Sometimes it seems like all the things we’re doing, planning, and working so hard to achieve are so small – like tiny drops in a huge not-so-full bucket.

Then I remember something. This bucket must fill slowly, for its story is so tenderly and purposefully being filled with each and every little drop. We are in this waiting, filling place now on such a big labor of love. This big, once empty bucket, is filling steadily with an inspiring stream of drops. I remember: the bigger the bucket the longer it takes to fill. 

Tomorrow I want to meet the day with hope and optimism, but I’d lie to you if said that spirit will be a natural one to ease into as the sun rises. My longing is intense tonight. The ache for a child to call my own is deep. Even though my    doubts and fears feel so much bigger today than I wish they would, I will to force myself to continually remember this odd-shaped and ginormous bucket is already so full of hope. 

Tomorrow afternoon, I will sit with my dearest and bravest souls to make plans for the how rest of the 2016 calendar of events will shape up. I can finally rest tonight, in the mist of all I feel, knowing that however they pour out someday, these little drops of hope will tell the story of a great bucket-full kind of love.  

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!!

It Takes a Village, Monica.

Hello, Brave Souls. I’ve been quiet for a while. But I’m back now – back to ask you to please re-join us in prayer, support, and hope for our journey to parenthood.

We have taken a terrific and terrifying step back onto the road that may lead us to parenthood. I have a dear friend who offered to be a Gestational Surrogate for us back when we were still trying to get my eggs. (I will post that story in full at a later time. Suffice it to say for now I feel so blessed and humbled by her sweet heart and her family’s sincere offer to help create a family for us. There is really nothing I can do or say to express my gratefulness to her and to our faithful Lord – who was the only one who knew we’d be on this road together today when we met back in high school.)

I sort of feel funny even writing about any of it now it because it’s so unofficial at this point. We are just getting into the details and there are so many many steps ahead. We haven’t officially accepted her offer yet, but are taking big steps in that direction. This week we are beginning to address insurance issues. I found an attorney who will review the documents for us at no charge (huge praise!!) This step is very crucial as it affects the cost in such a dramatic way that it will either propel our journey foward or pretty much end it. It is nerve racking to say the least. We are all anxious to get everything figured out because if this part goes smoothly – and it is a big IF – we will likely be taking bigger and more official steps into the world of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), Third-Party Reproduction, and Surrogacy.  It’s a crazy world in there. We will need all the prayer we can get. And then more.  I’m not gonna lie – this ART, T-PR, and Surrogacy world is a very expensive and risky world. IF we are allowed into it, we will need more than prayer. But that’s for another post and for when we know the answers to the insurance piece. 

So, this may seem like a huge jump from my last post. I admit it is! A lot has happened since my last post. A whole lot. Some good. A lot not so good. There have been really hard days and sleepless nights full of heartbreak and pain I know no words to describe. How one can be so sad and broken over losing something that never was is still a mystery to me. I was there (am still there in a sense), in the middle of all the raw emotion, watching and feeling it internally destroy me, and I still don’t understand it. Nor do I really want to ever get to a place where I do. 

There is a certain quality to that kind of pain that isn’t meant to be understood or analyzed. I’ve decided that this indescribable pain is the sort of stuff that breaks people – like really breaks them. Not the healthy humble ‘brokenness in the presence of God’ kind of brokenness. But as in it actually breaks people. They go insane. Ruin their romances. Begin destructive addictions or habits. This kind of grief is the kind of stuff that that breaks wills, hopes, and dreams. And it’s a dark and dangerous place. I need to be removed from that even while I’m in the middle of it it because otherwise it’s far too terrifying. It needs to remain a mystery to keep me safe from the depths of myself and keep me pursuing the God I know is ultimately control and in charge of even this type of deep, dark pain. It needs to be a mystery. 

I learned a lot about myself in the middle of this kind of pain. There were some really hard and ugly truths. I learned that I get kinda mean when I am sad for prolonged periods of time. But mostly, I learned that it will be really really really difficult for me to reconcile with not having kids. It’s possible that I won’t have them. I realize that. One-hundred and fifty percent; I realize it. And if we travel down every road that explores the possibilities and still arrive at the same dead-end trail, then I will have done all I can do. But until I know there are for certian dead end trails at the end of every road – I will research and investigate each one. I will pray and hope for motherhood in unconventional, non-traditional ways until I hit each and every painful dead end. 
I have never been one to give up on things I want. Some call it selfish, some call it stubborn. I call it me. Childlessness does not sit well with my soul. It just isn’t me.

 The other night we were watching “Friends” – the episode where Chandler and Monica interview Erica, the biological mother of the twins they adopt in Season10. They initially lie about who they are because their files got confused with another couple and Erica chooses them based on the wrong information. They fess up that they lied and Erica walks away. Then Chandler chases her as she leaves he room and begs her to reconsider. He says something like this: “Please please, choose us…..I’m terrified to be a father, but my, wife, she is already a mother. Without children to love.” 

I think that I am just like Monica. Already a mother in my heart of hearts.

So, all you Brave Souls, will you please join me in praying for all of us? My friend and her husband, and their two small kids, my Sweet Love & myself. The attorney. Dr. Feinberg, as well as her amazing staff. And all the people this journey will touch. Pray for yourself, as I pray for you, because reading this means you are touched by our journey. The old adage “it takes a village” has never meant more to me than it does now. 


Bumps in the Road

This journey has bumps. We are ultimately hoping for and longing for that to take shape in a baby-sized bump at some point, today the baby-bump experience seems dauntingly far away. 

The second opinion confirmed the first; that natural pregnancy is inadvisable for me. If we are able to harvest eggs (still unknown at this point) we will need to pursue using a gestational carrier. I won’t lie, I was hoping the second opinion would be laced with magic and that I would be “allowed” to experience the miracle of growing life inside myself. However, I am oddly comforted today that two opinions match – even if to a disappointing reality. I’m not built to carry a baby on the inside. This saddens me deeply. I will need to grieve this point thoroughly in the coming weeks and months ahead, and maybe partially for the rest of my natural life. But it’s clear, confirmed and true.  

If we pursue pregnancy, it will be in the form of what is referred to legally as Third Party Reproduction. It will be expensive. It will be risky. It will be stressful. It will be crazy. We still have to investigate a lot to be determine how expensive, how risky, and how crazy-stressful it will be. There is a VERY long road ahead even to get to the place where we make that decision. 

I am much more comfortable with the demeanor & communication style of our new doctor. While their opinions mirror each other, their approaches are different enough to confirm my suspicions that Dr. Feinberg is a better fit for us. I’m thrilled to be inviting her and her staff on this journey with us. I’m thrilled that she is willing to work with my existing physicians to figure out what will be best for me. I’m also comforted that one of her first warnings to me is that she has self-imposed, hippocratic oath based limits as to how far she will recommend we carry this journey. 

So begins the real journey. The legwork is scary. There is a legal component that (I think) would drive most lawyers crazy. There are physical, biological, psychological, and hormonal tests for at least three people (four if our carrier is married) that all have to be in line for us to proceed. There is an financial component that needs to be ironed out and figured out and funded. Then there is the risk/benefit assessment of the success rate and …. So on and so on until I turn shares of blue I’ve never seen. 

Oh – and, for those of you who don’t know yet, which is probably most of you – there is this small 3.5cm problem we found today on the ultrasound. It seems I am forming another cyst. Just another little bump in the road. Or possibly a really massive bump. We can’t know just yet.

I go for more evaluations with my regular GYN tomorrow. He’s not yet concerned because size wise, it would have to double to be surgical. But I will be reminding him kindly that for that last cyst’s occurrence, he advised me to ” take 4 ibuprofen and call me in a couple days.” That approach landed him in an OR for 2.5 hours on Labor Day Weekend removing a 9cm hemorrhagic cyst and most of my remaining ovary.  I don’t want another surgery – to be sure!! But he was rather blasé about it on the phone today and I was honestly off-put by his tone. Maybe he was expecting a bigger cyst from me. I mean 3cm hardly competes with the 9cm & 11cm ones I presented with the last two times. Maybe 3cm deserves the blasé response that undoubtedly pulled him away from another patient. Our chat in the afternoon shall be a lively one…if I can keep myself out of the ER tonight. 

Sweet dreams, oh, brave souls. Have some for me please? Of bumps baby-sized and cysts that disappear. Tomorrow the journey continues and tonight I am feeling weary.