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

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!