GIVING IN

We caved. After 3 days of being binky free, Maria wasn’t coping well. The first 36 hours were okay; she went to bed easier than expected and napped okay the first day. The 2nd night, bedtime took two hours and nap was a struggle. Night three she fought going to bed and woke numerous times during the night and was on a hair trigger during Thursday’s nap. Jeremy had a growing concern that she just wasn’t ready or emotionally capable of giving up her binky. Grant might have done remarkably well, but they are different children and have different needs.

Jeremy recalled the episode of Sesame Street and kept telling me that it was about Baby Bear making the decision to give up the binky…not someone else making it for her. Maria’s behavior was more erratic and her sleep disturbances were also causing Grant not to sleep as well. He had dark puffy circles under his eyes and was also acting out. We had one spare pacifier stashed in the back of the fridge utilized for teething gums. Maria was suffering. We gave in. Upon receiving backup binky she moaned with relief and delight, like an addict getting a fix. She was asleep within two minutes. Jeremy was relieved; he just didn’t feel comfortable forcing her to give it up if she wasn’t ready. “She’s only two,” he said. “I try to make them grow up in a lot of ways, but she’s only two and I don’t want to force her do this if she’s not ready. Her pallet is already screwed up and I don’t want her having some oral fixation when she’s in high school. They are only young once.”

He is right. Just because Grant was okay with giving up his pacifier, doesn’t mean Maria will do the same. She’s never been one to be forced to do anything. She does things on her own terms and timing. It’s one of the things I love about her…it’s also extremely frustrating at times.

Most children will voluntarily give up a binky between the ages of 2 and 4. I, too, struggled with giving up my fingers. Dad and I made a deal when I was five years old. He would quit smoking and I would quit sucking my fingers. He held up his end of the deal. I, however, would still sneak my fingers at night for years to come. I did eventually give them up. One night I said I was done and that was it.

For now, she has her binky back for naps and bedtime. Jeremy can rest easier without the worry of causing long-term psychological trauma over this issue. And I will enjoy the fact they are still young.

BORDER COLLIES AND BINKIES

Jeremy has said that Grant and Maria are much like Border Collies. It’s not uncommon to find them gathering all their toys and moving (herding) them to another location and they are eager to be put to work. Yesterday I took them to the local garden center to get some mums, daylilies and mulch for the front of our house. Maria immediately took to the aisles and happily found a cart to push and Grant found a small basket to carry. Upon locating the correct color mums, I asked Maria if she would help put them on the cart. She replied yes, and reached up and grunted as she moved three pots from table to cart. Grant proudly carried his basket until we found our second purchase and when I asked him to help he rapidly picked up the daylilies and put them in his basket. He realized his basket was now too heavy to pick up so he herded them to our cart. We soon secured our mulch and headed back home.

Mom was with us and Grant helped her pull the mulch up to the house, while Maria pushed the bag with all her might. Grant helped dig holes and water the newly planted flowers. He was sad (translation: threw a fit) when all the work for last night was done. I just hope he’s still as eager to help when he’s old enough to cut the grass.

Speaking of growing up, we’re now pacifier free. Grant’s paci went the way of the Dodo bird a few months ago. It was surprisingly a non-event. The tip started to come off, so we removed it and handed the modified paci back to him. He tried to suck on it, realized it was defective and turned the edges into a chew toy before eventually losing it behind the bed. He never looked back.

On Sunday, I discovered that Maria’s paci had a small crack in it. Knowing her devotion to her pacifier for nap and bedtime, I sat her on my lap and started to prepare her for the inevitable. There would be no replacement for binky. Binky was going to go away. She looked at me with her big expressive eyes and pitifully said “Nooo”. While I was rocking Grant, Jeremy had the same conversation with her and she whimpered while loudly sucking on her paci as she rested on his shoulder.

Yesterday was the day; Jeremy removed the tip off her beloved “bink bink” and they ceremoniously watched a previously recorded episode of Sesame Street where Elmo helps Baby Bear give up her paci. Jeremy smartly saved the episode about a month ago as we had discussions on how much longer we would let binky stay around. Maria said farewell to binky and when I got home from work she showed it to me and declared “binky broke.” She didn’t want any part of a defective binky and while she whimpered some going to bed, it went much better than Jeremy and I anticipated. We left our door open so we could easily hear her if she cried during the night, but we heard nothing. She woke up seeming no worse for wear this morning. She still has what Jeremy calls her “comfort staff” which includes two blankets, two baby dolls (Baby and Dolly), a Hello Kitty stuffed animal, pink pony, and a chameleon Beany Baby, so hopefully they will do their job and fill in where binky left off.

REBALANCING

Before I was pregnant I was an avid exerciser. You could find me at the gym most days of the week and I was very passionate about keeping my body in shape. Once I was pregnant, I did what I could, but 14 weeks of all day sickness, then fatigue and discomfort of carrying two babies made it easy for me to duck out of the gym. I tried to swim and walk, but the intensity of my workouts was a fraction of what it had been. I told myself that I would get back in the swing of things after the babies were born and did my best with going on walks after work, continuing yoga, and doing the occasional video at home. But it just wasn’t the same. As the babies got older it was harder and harder to exercise at home and my tolerance for the weather diminished when two babies were in tow. My desire to return to a gym grew and I told myself that when Maria finally weaned I would start going to the gym before work. I didn’t want to leave her high and dry when she still needed that time with me in the mornings.

Well, at the end of May she weaned. With my hormones shifting and no longer having any caloric demand for milk making, I have to put a lot more effort into maintaining my weight. I’m still a pants size smaller than before I was pregnant and I’m determined to stay that way. In June, I rejoined my favorite gym and have committed to working out in the mornings before work. I’ve established a new routine of a 5:15 alarm that is not a child and get to the gym around 6:00. I do my work out, shower, and leave around 7:20 to head to work. 2 months into this new routine and it’s going well. I thought I would be exhausted and trying to go to sleep by 8:00, but I’m not. My couch drooling still starts somewhere between 9:15 and 9:30 and Jeremy scoots me off to bed around 9:45.

Trying to exercise after I got home from work created a certain level of guilt and strain because that was time that I wanted and needed to be with Grant and Maria. But I also knew that I needed to take care of me in order to give them what they need. Exercising early allows not only gives me some good time to myself, but gives me the energy I need for my family.

Being a parent is all about finding balance and giving yourself grace when you can’t do it all. This weekend I have every intention of finishing my kitchen wall paper removal project, but if a nap opportunity presents itself, I will most likely take it.

A SPECIAL PLAN

This is the last month I will be blogging, so I have tried to think of words of wisdom to leave with those who are thinking of going through embryo adoption, have been through it or are thinking of donating their embryos. I cannot think of any, but know my story speaks for itself. It is a story of love, loss, pain, perseverance, faith, hope, and success. I know everyone reading this is not going to have the same story, or use the same words to describe theirs, but know if you are reading this your story is not over, even if you think it is.

Many times I felt like giving up on my dream of having children, because the load was just too much to bear at times. I was fortunate it to have a supportive husband, who told me I would be such a good Mom, I just could not give up. My friends would tell me they were there for me no matter what I choose. My Mom would remind me that God had a special plan for me and not to give up. Dr. Keenan would remind me that I still had several options, one of which was embryo adoption. But, God told me I was loved no matter what.

I am so thankful I did not give up and that embryo adoption was a success for me. At times I wonder where I would be now if embryo adoption would not have been a success. I believe I would still be fighting the fight and wondering if it would ever be my “turn?” The words from my mother would be running through my head, “God has a special plan for you.” I now believe that special plan is being a mother to my beautiful adopted embryos and sharing with others what God has done for me.

Many times during my journey of infertility, I felt that God was late, not listening, or worst of all, that it was not in His plan for me to have children. I knew that His ways were always better than my ways, but living through it could be difficult at best. So for those of you trying to ride out the storm right now, I say hold on tight and do not lose sight of your goal, God has a special plan for you.

“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. We will not fear when the earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.” Psalm 46:1-2

SPECIAL CONSIDERATION

It’s been a little over a year since we relinquished our ten remaining embryos and 3 years since we selected Grant and Maria’s profile. Throughout this last year, I’ve wondered what has become of those ten precious lives. The one reason I was hesitant to relinquish was because of their “special consideration” label and the concern that no one else would want them. At the time of our selection, Jeremy and I were the first to adopt a profile with the “special consideration” label. They were marked as such because they have a genetic sister who was born with a VSD, a relatively common congenital heart defect. Something told me to look into this issue and after some research determined that this issue was really a non-issue to us and that we needed to request this profile. The rest is history and we know that Grant and Maria are very healthy. Maria had a small VSD that closed on its own before she was 3 months old. Both babies have another small hole in the heart that is a result of their premature birth that is also a non-issue and should close on its own and even if it doesn’t there is no need for treatment.

I say all this because I want to encourage others to take a hard look at those special consideration profiles. The infertility journey is scary and the urge is to take the safest route and not to take any additional risk in selecting a profile with a special consideration label. However, these profiles are no less worthy at a shot at life out of the freezer than any of the “perfect” profiles. And also, there are no guarantees with any of those profiles that there isn’t some kind of defect or risk that is known to the genetic family. The same goes for any child conceived “the old fashioned way”.

I’m thankful that I didn’t give into fear and now have the opportunity to raise two amazingly beautiful and special children. I hope and pray that another couple will have the opportunity to know and love Grant and Maria’s genetic siblings.

END OF SUMMER

The last days of summer are upon us and we are trying to suck all the fun we can out of each day. Not only are schools starting back up (the twins will be starting their preschool in a few weeks), but the weather has gotten a lot cooler! Making me miss the warm, warm days already! The water is much colder and not as fun to get into. We already find ourselves staying inside more, due to lots of rain in our area.

We did get to spend some time at DollyWood over the last few weeks. Their Dog show was a huge success with our family, we went twice! We went with the Thomas family to see a few other shows as well as ride rides. Last Saturday night DollyWood had fireworks and we got to see those with my brother, his two children, my friend Karen and her husband Bill. What a great time we have had at DollyWood this summer!

Last week we had a dinner party and invited my friend Karen & Bill as well as Ying (who works for the NEDC) and her three daughters. The twins were so excited to make a cake for them, a castle cake! It was a hit, as well as the donuts with gummy worms in them that Bill brought for them. What a blessing to have such good friends. It is hard to believe that it was over four years ago they were praying for a baby for me.

NEW HOUSE

In April we put our house on the market and within 8 days had a contract. That was the only speedy part of the process. Through of comedy of errors and issues with our buyer getting through underwriting, we ended up under contract for 105 days, finally closing on August 2 on the old house and on August 6 on the new house. We started moving boxes on the 7th and the movers came on the 8th. It’s been a whirlwind week, but we made it. It’s been a stressful process to say the least, but we’ve tried very hard to prepare Grant and Maria for the move.

For over a month we’ve been packing (thinking we were moving any day) and the 960 square feet that we lived in was getting smaller and smaller. We said on more than one occasion that we were feeling boxed in. We’ve been talking with the babies about the new house and Maria would regularly randomly say “new house”.

On Monday after we closed, we went to the new place and let them run around. On our way back home, Maria could not stop talking about HER new house. Yes, Maria, it’s your world and we just live here! On Tuesday as boxes were being moved out Grant would go up and touch the furniture and say “new house?” Yes, Grant, all the furniture and even you are coming to the new house. On Wednesday, I told them about the big green truck that was going to take all our furniture to the new house and they sat in the yard and watched with amazement as all our stuff was loaded up.

It was bitter sweet for me leaving the old place. It was the first place that Jeremy and I bought together. It was the place where we decided to pursue embryo adoption. It was the place where we carefully selected Grant and Maria’s profile. It was the place where my water broke and the place where Grant and Maria first came home. We have a lot of memories there, but as I cleaned up the last little bit and walked through one last time, it no longer felt like ours. It was time for a new couple to come in and hopefully make plenty of good memories. We told the new owner that she’s been good to us and we hoped she’d be good to them.

Our new house will be a place for Grant and Maria to grow up and will likely be the first place they remember. It’ll be a place for new memories and hopefully a place of comfort and joy for our family.

WHEN DOES SCHOOL START?

Julian has been asking when school starts since the last week of school. We are now down to 20 days before our life goes back to schedules. They only attend two days a week, but love going. We will miss the teacher they had last year, but I am sure we will be just as pleased with the next one. This is the last year I have with them before Kindergarten and I want to cherish all our time together.

It is hard to believe they are 4 years old and that Julian is telling me he wishes I named him David, after David in the Bible. Julian wants a sling shot like David had, so we are going to make one. We finally found a stick I think will work. My aunt is going to help us with the other parts, I just hope he does not kill any animals! In order to get one he had to learn how to spell his last name. Now we just need to work on writing it.

We are now off to Splash Country to enjoy what we have left of the summer, between storms. I know I will miss these precious times and their loving attitudes. I hope I remember these sweet times, when they become teenagers and do not want to be with me!

A CELLULAR LINKAGE

I recently came across a blog post that discussed how mother and child are linked at the cellular level and how it has been scientifically proven that a child’s DNA crosses the placenta and can be found in the mother well beyond pregnancy and can even help to heal the mother’s illnesses.
http://lauragraceweldon.com/2012/06/12/mother-child-are-linked-at-the-cellular-level/
I’ve said before that I consider Grant and Maria biological children because my biology sustained them during pregnancy as well beyond through breast feeding. While our DNA is different, I felt that I was a part of them, but according to the information in this article, they are also a part of me.

WHEN ARE WE MOVING

This past weekend we went to the home of Brian’s former boss. He invited us as well as the Crichlow family. Roberto and Brian worked for Jerome Julian at SunTrust Bank and they both always thought the world of Jerome. We were all excited to enjoy a relaxing weekend at the lake, but most importantly have fellowship with Jerome and his lovely wife Stacy. Roberto and his wife Sandra, who we are friends with, have two girls whom our children have great fun with. Their home is just beautiful and welcoming so much so that Julian wanted to know when we were moving to the Lake when we got home. There is just not a bigger compliment when a child is ready to move in with you! Julian would wake up before Brian and I and instead of coming to get us he just headed down the stairs to be with Jerome and Stacy. The last morning I found Julian snuggled right up to Jerome watching Mickey Mouse Club House. The Julian family was a delight to be with and we all wish we could live on the lake!

The day my tubes were removed in December 2001, was also the same day Brian was on a conference call during my surgery in which his boss, Jerome Julian, announced that he would be the head of a different section of the bank. So Brian has always remembered the two as the worse news ever. Brian was blessed to have Jerome as a boss, when he first moved to Business Banking and I am sure he would love to work with him again if it is in God’s plan.

When the twins were born, Brian got to name one and I was going to name the other. We were told at one point we were having a boy & a girl, then we were told we were having two boys, then we were told we were having a boy & a girl. So we were not sure what to expect. Brian had decided on Natalie if we were having a girl. I had decided on Julian and Jeremiah for two boys, but I was not sure if we had a girl and a boy. So when the girl came out, Brian told them her name, but was not able to tell them the boy’s name, so he was known as Mr. Bailey for many days. Brian kept asking me what I wanted to name him, and all I could do was think about how I was going to survive this. I was very ill and in excruciating pain from not just a C-section, but my bladder was almost completely severed and my parts were all out of place and the doctor tried to move them to the correct spot. I was just thankful I was alive, I could not think beyond that. I also was not able to hold or see them for several days since I was so ill. The photographer from the Knoxville News Sentinel knew this and made many print offs of the pictures she took when the twins were born. When I saw the picture of my baby boy, I knew he looked like a distinguished gentleman, so I had to name him after my father, Julian David Morrow. I also wanted to name my son after his father as well, so I joined the two together. Julian David Keene Bailey, but Brian said that was too long and that I had to choose between David and Keene. Julian Keene Bailey it became. Brian said everyone at his work thought it was so nice we named him after his boss and my doctor, Dr. Keenan. We thought that was funny. But both men have had a great impact on our lives and Julian is blessed to be named after them as well.