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!!

Practice Not Sleeping

If you are a parent you know sleep isn’t easy. A truly off-color book I love comes to mind. If you laugh you know it too.

Tonight it isn’t the cry of a baby (or toddler, or 12 year old) keeping me awake. Instead, it is the hope of holding him as he does. It’s not hunger or a poopy diaper (or teething, or crushes on boys) keeping me awake tonight.  Instead it is the beauty of the thing that is occurring on our journey (in mere hours…go the book to sleep!!) that represents the possibility of those things in my future that has me wide-eyed in wonder of what’s next. 

Tonight I happily practice not sleeping. Praying whole-heartedly for the day this is more than practice! (Seriously…if you don’t know my book reference do a google search for Adam Mansbach & Samuel L. Jackson.)

700 Days

Bit by bit our gestational surrogacy journey is taking shape. I’m constantly living in new states of awe-maze-met with the blessings we are experiencing on this bizarre and beautiful path to parenthood. There have been bumps in the road as well. The bumps have provided opportunity for us to reevaluate, reeducate, and renew our decision along the way. I’m learning the balance of it, finding a rhythm to how it will continue this path of tiny little trails or big daunting roads that we must to walk to the end so we can see the next step. It takes a lot of energy emotionally. I wish there was a “skip” button so we could move it along to the end. At the same moment though, I want to cherish every step because once walked, they are paths we may never travel again. The waiting it so difficult as there are still so many unknowns. We are learning so much about this world of Assisted Reproductive Technology and Third Party Reproduction and when I think about how much I knew when we were launched into this world, I’m amazed at my ability to take it all in and be where I am with it today. Merely stating that I’ve learned a lot doesn’t do justice to the knowledge I’ve gained roughly in 700 days.

Seven hundred days!! My estimate is rough but  at this point two years (730 days) ago we were still in the beginning of finding out our unique fertility challenges and hoping beyond hope that I would be able to carry our baby myself or at least that I would have DNA to contribute to it’s being. It simultaneously feels like that was a lifetime ago and yesterday. We know so much more now than we did 700 days ago, yet in some ways we have some much left to learn. I stop. I wonder. Where will we find ourselves 700 days from now?

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot on the fact that this journey may not go as quickly as we’d initially hoped. We have a very sizable financial goal to meet and while we are doing well with the fund-gathering efforts we’ve put forth thus far, the money bit is simply slow going. I often find myself wishing that an extraordinarily wealthy benefactor would drop down out of the sky and give us exactly what we need so we could get started tomorrow. Truthfully, in a deep down hoping place which has developed on this journey and has learned and works hard not to place any expectations or limitations on the dream, I believe that could eventually happen. We have come across such brilliant generosity financially to date. When I sit with that generosity, it overcomes me and sometimes I get giddy, sometimes weepy, and sometimes even completely mushy. Reality check: an extraordinarily wealthy benefactor will probably not be the way we will reach our goal. Our fund-gathering efforts have been so purpose-FULL and wonder-FULL that my heart can hardly contain the excitement I have for our next phase of fund-gathering plans!!!

Seven hundred days ago, I didn’t even have a vision in place for Team Dream Baby. I didn’t even know I’d need that vision yet. Here we are though, and today, as that vision changes and develops with each step of our journey, I must admit my heart gets so overfilled when I think about all the Brave Souls who have joined our journey thus far. My gratefulness is already unending and I cannot begin to imagine how much space I will need in my heart for all of it as we go forward. Reality check: my heart cannot actually burst from an overflow of gratefulness.

To all the Brave Souls who are already here: To all the Brave Souls who will join us soon:

Please know, each of you who plays a part on Team Dream Baby is uniquely cherished as the realization of our dream takes shape. We very literally could not be here without you and we are both endlessly grateful for your support and love!!!!

I want to take a brief moment before we officially launch our next planned event to welcome my wonderful new friend Brooke to Team Dream Baby in the most official way I’ve got. Here on the blog! (That makes it super official, right? RIGHT!) So, without further ado, Brave Souls, will you welcome Brooke with me? She’s our new Fabulous Fund Finding Coordinator (f3c) and based on our first few meetings and plans so far, I’m beyond excited about the energy and passion she brings to the Team.

Brooke and her husband Joe (whom I haven’t actually even met yet) were merely friends of friends a few months ago. They have an energetic four year old son, who was miraculously conceived after their own struggle with infertility. Brooke learned about our Team Dream Baby story slowly over the summer as I was often around the group of people who hung out in our mutual friend’s neighborhood.  She started reading the blog and instantly knew she wanted to be a part of our team. It’s amazing all of the ways she’s encouraged and changed our story in such a short time. She’s now working along side me to put a bunch of our plans into action. Her generosity seems to know no limits. Thanks Brooke, for all you’ve done so far. You’re pretty awe-mazing to me!! Here’s to the next 700 days!!

Awe-maze-ment

Every time in the last year I’ve begun to doubt our surro-journey, something amazing happens. The run of garage sales we did in June exhausted me to my core. There was a regretably memorable 48 hour period in which I was completely convinced everything was falling apart. I was honestly considering giving up completely. Thirty three of those 48 hours were spent awake and I was so sleep deprived from preparing for the garage sale already that I experienced what my sweet R.N. sister identified and diagnosed as a “nervous break down or something very close to one.” Never having experienced a nervous breakdown before, I can say only two things: I hope never to have to confront that monster again and I’m genuinely broken for people who deal with anxiety, nervousness, and panic in daily situations in a different way than I have been before. This was not a lesson I necessarily needed to learn the hard way. Looking back though, I’m glad I had the experience. It certainly gives me a new ability to empathize with a population of people that are still very mysterious to my extroverted, trusting heart. 

After my nervous break down, which fabulously collided with the last day of our sale, I experienced some of the deepest moments of doubt about our surro-journey I’ve had yet. The doubt was so great at one point that I wanted to toss the baby out with the bath water [where “bath water” represents the success of our journey so far] and forget the whole thing. I was a hot HOT mess. The hopelessness (holla to all the IFs out there) felt like it was going to swallow me.

Less than two weeks after the end of our last sale, I had yet another ultrasound to examine my misbehaving uterus. It’s growing polyps already, after having a D&C this past March. We all know it’s nothing  more than a ticking time bomb at this point. I’ve just had this unreasonable ridiculous goal of not needing a hysterectomy before age 35. I was so worried I wasn’t going to make it since it’s rounding the bend here pretty fast. 

Just a few hours before my appointment for the scan, my hope was refueled by a very unexpected potential on the egg donor front. I found out that friend of a friend’s mom’s neighbor may be willing to donate an egg. 

I cried huge happy & relieved sobs of joy all the way to my gyn’s office. Hope was no longer less and in fact, in that moment it was so much more than I would have ever imagined possible. A woman, who is and will remain a stranger to me, made a selfless, generous, life-changing offer. Whether or not the details of this offer flesh out, the very moment it was offered the ending of our story changed. Simply because I did not give in to the overwhelming sense of hopeless.

A lessor “plot twist” might have persuaded me from giving the hopelessness a lasting foothold. But then I won’t ever know what might have been without it. For that, I’m imesurabley grateful. Because this is – though it feels very much like a dream or a movie scene – for real. It was dramatic. It was perfect.

(The details of the possible egg donor are not all ironed out just yet. It is a very in-process offer on the table of our Team Dream Baby future. Stay tuned for developments. This will all take some time to investigate. I’ll update as it becomes relevant.)

I’ve known since it began that our journey to parenthood is not an A to B sort of journey. Our Z – our ending – isn’t clear. There isn’t a 1-to-1 correlation in this gestational surrogacy thing…or really in parenting…ever – no matter how your journey got started! 

We have a list of questions that seems to get longer with every one we answer. Majority of the time though, the answers are leaving me in contastly new states of awe-maze-ment. (Yes, I did make that up. It’s gonna be like YOLO in a year, just wait!)

No. Matter. What. Happens. I stand in awe-maze-ment of this journey and the story of joy it is writing in my soul with each itty bitty baby step. I am classically an over achiever so I say this boldly without the actual experience to back me up: I truly believe parenthood is simultaneously the most difficult and most rewarding journey of life. 

P.S. My uterus “passed” this most recent exam. We revaluate in October. After I turn 35. I do so love to achieve my goals…even if is by the skin of my teeth. Here’s hoping for no emergencies until after my birthday!

The Promised Update  

You wouldn’t know so by my absence from posting, but these last several  months have been full of bustle and hussle in Team Dream Baby land. Lots of things have changed and lots of progress has been made. None of it is very tangible or visible yet and discouragement is never but a breath away. This is not an easy adventure, Brave Ones. We’re so glad you’re traveling it with us!! 

This winter, I embraced technology anew. I familiarized myself with the growing and vast world of virtual garage sales. I sold a bunch of the donated stuff to people and met them in various public parking lots in the NorthWest Burbs & beyond to the boarder of WI. Safety first, folks!

I bought a domain name, found a webhost, and learned (well, still learning) how to self-host a website. Note I emphasize here the still learning bit. I also researched (and very nearly launched) an online crowdfunding campaign. There was one hicupp after another on my technological learning curve…just when I thought I had it all figured out, something new popped up in a little window on the sidebar with arrows flashing. Oie! 

The crowdfunding idea was not all as easy as I hoped. So for now, per advice from a lawyer we hired to advise in the legal implications of crowdfunding in our unique situation, we’ve suspended the plan to crowdfund. It may resurface in the future. We’ve decided that for now, we’ll take the fundraising bit at a slower pace. We aim in the next six months to build the Team Dream Baby up strong so that if or when we hit a crowdfunding platform, we’ll be in really good shape for that run! 

Right now we are in the thick of non-virtual garage sales. Two weeks ago we had our first of 2015 and that pulled in a pleasing dollar amount considering the crap-tastic weather that met us for 1/2 the time. We have been abundantly blessed with donations to sell and its been super overwhelming. Right now, our garage resembles an episode of hoarders and we are forced to exclusively use the  front door in order to exit or enter our home!! (Oh! The horror!!) 

The second 2015 sale will begin this Thursday – there is rain in the forecast again. I found myself hopefully singing along with the Dad & his toddler son in the Target parking lot during a downpour today – Rain, rain, go away!!! Team Dream Baby wants to play!!! Come again, another day!! And…please…if you may…let that not be before Sunday!!

Busy Fall

We had a crazy busy fall. I hardly had time to breathe, let alone write on here. I was busy with all things baby as the birth of my first biological nephew took us all a bit by surprise when my sweet little sister went into labor 6 weeks early. Little L had a rough start in our big wide world, but is now 4 months old and healthy as can be. He’s hit all his developmental milestones right on time or before, has 2 teeth, and is in the 85th percentile for full-term growth charts. We are so blessed by him and he brings us all so much joy.

Being a busy new Auntie &nUncle this fall (never mind all the busy daily life regular things) has gotten a bit in the middle of our fundraising efforts. But look out! 2015 is here and we’re getting ready to roll out some bold new things on the blog and in other fundraising venues. Stay tuned… Lots to come next week! 

Second FOF Sale

It has been a little more than a week since the conclusion of our most recent FOF Garage sale. Happy to report that it was a good sale, with a good total for the three days. Our total this time exceeded our total from the June sale by about $250, thanks in part to some bigger ticket items that were donated. We are still facing a huge dollar amount for our overall goal. That seems so far away from where we are today, but these early activities have been encouraging. With time, we will get there. I truly believe we will.


We are already experiencing such generousity and kindness. These early days make me excited to see what the future will hold. Garage sales are just the beginning, Brave Souls. We have a lot of other things in the works. My f3c is seriously rocking it lately with her ideas and thoughts about future events. What does the future hold fundraising wise? We only have a near future picture laid out, but our brains are working overtime to think of new and exciting things we can do. We are planning to do something online with a crowd funding site; still figuring out the details on all of that but our goal is to have something up by 9/1. This week I’m hosting a party given by another friend, a Thirty-One; consultant. She is donating a percentage of the sale to our FOF Fund. We’re thinking about possibly doing a movie night, a spa night, as the weather cools, even a few bake sales. These are just a couple of the things we are thinking of doing. I’d love suggestions of things you’ve done or heard about for fundraising ideas. We have some unique rules and guidelines to follow since we are not a non-profit organization, but at this stage, we need brainstorming abs fresh ideas. So come one, come all! Ideas – flow forth!! 
Fundrasising garage sales are a lot of work! I had wonderful helpers this round – you all know who you are – and we grateful to each of them, as we are to all of those who donated their “junk” in pursuit of our Little Treasure. Despite the fact that it’s a work-intensive process to garage sale, I’ve enjoyed it so far…even more than I expected to at first.
After the June sale, we decided to do an “extra sale” in between the June & September ones scheduled in our subdivision. That meant a bit more work. First, advertising on my own was a bit of a challenge. We are so spoiled by the community aspect of our subdivision sale in that I have to do very little on the advertising end. It was a learning experience for sure! Also, trucking all our donations to my parent’s driveway – an hour from where we live was no small feat. Another thing we learned is that without an actual truck, this takes about a week of back and forth loads of stuff we could fit into my small sedan. We (um, well SL and my dad) also did a lot of creative maneuvering (and endured minor peronal injury) with a donation of larger furniture we received to get all the pieces to fit into a mini-van. We are so thankful that all the large pieces sold and we didn’t have to figure out how to truck them back up to our place! Seriously – how do we not know anyone with a big truck??? 
I meant to get this post up a lot sooner, but my body and soul have been craving a bit of rest from the hustle-bustle of fundraising activities. So I’ve been leaning into that craving and just letting myself be restful in my body and soul this week. We’ll hit the ground running soon enough for the September sale.