What I learned from Embryo Adoption


Embryo adoption was a new concept for me. As I learned about the scientific components behind IVF and the outcome of this process, it was miracle technology. I first felt like I was getting an organ transplant. Initially, it was so overwhelming to think of someone else’s DNA/cells growing inside my body. I wanted to know every aspect of what was going to happen during the process as well as the medicine that would be given.  The thought of being able to grow another human and have it survive and be its mother and breastfeed was well -the coolest dream ever! I also was scared to death my body would reject it like an organ could be rejected when given to someone else.  How would I know this baby wouldn’t be deformed? Would I get cancer from all the hormone shots?  Was I setting myself to be an experiment and miscarry anyway? The questions were endless and I would sit for hours at night and research the science behind embryo cryopreservation, thawing and survival rates.

What I learned was this was a very complex entity. I felt like it was a very courageous move for a play it safe person and a real steeping out in faith and trusting the process ordeal.  I had to come to the acceptance that there was no guarantee in the end. What God would decide would be the final fate of these embryos.  It is so hard to want something so bad and not be able to control the outcome. My heart truly goes out to all women and the fact we can’t control the “baby maker part” of our bodies. However, there comes some relief in having a simple faith in the ultimate Creator of Life.

As far as what I learned about the hormone shots, they hurt and ice packs helped me survive to the end. Keeping a calendar of protocol and dates helped me stay organized. One thing I regret is not keeping a journal of all the thoughts and feelings I had during that time. I wish I could go back and remember more of those.

When the day comes when you can finally stop the medication. It is the scariest feeling to trust that your body will take over giving what is needed to support the little life inside. In the end, the medications work!  Treat yourself to the best dinner in town and congratulate yourself on a job well done! Finally, I really wished I could have gone through the journey with another embryo Mom. I was alone and “out there” to figure it out by myself.  I wasn’t a free going FB blogger. I encourage those who are starting out to reach out to other women. You never know who may be feeling just like you.



The School Conundrum

Grant and Maria start kindergarten next year.  It seems like yesterday that they were thawed and transferred, and now we are researching our school options.  Honestly, deciding to adopt embryos was a much easier decision than picking out schools.

Our school district isn’t the best.  We have some really good schools; but we also have some of the lowest performing in the state…and in Kentucky, that’s saying a lot!  We don’t necessarily get to go to the neighborhood public school and I don’t really think that school is the best option.  Of the 5 schools in our public cluster, only one seems to be one we want to be in and it is the furthest from our home.  We’ve got options for “traditional” and “magnet” schools that are better, but everyone else wants those too, so there are no guarantees on getting in.

Most private schools are outside of the realm of affordability, especially since we decided that there is value in Jeremy continuing to stay home to handle school pickups and drops offs, as well as sick days, snow days, breaks and other school activities.

We are also considering a cottage school option. Home school several days a week and the balance of the week in a classroom setting.  We have started a pre-K curriculum to try out the concept.   Our dining room is being transformed into our school room and Jeremy is already at work with ideas, while Maria is plotting her morning strategy in order to be able to hold the flag during the pledge of allegiance.

This will definitely be a learning experience for all of us!




Sienna has started biting.  Other kids.  Smaller kids.

This is new for us, and actually just started in the last couple of weeks.  It has happened three times – each time when the other child either took a toy away from her or was otherwise interfering with her play time.

One time, she broke skin.

It’s mortifying.

Each time, the other parent has been extremely cool and understanding (I hope I would be too).  I remorsefully explain this is new behavior and we think is related to her new baby brother and adjusting to her new normal.  It doesn’t make me feel better to provide this explanation, but I hope it somehow arouses enough sympathy in the other parent so they don’t label me as “unfit” for allowing me to bring an untamed child into public.

Sienna knows biting is wrong – and she’s old enough to use her words to speak up.  I’m not quite sure where this is all coming from, except maybe it’s the perfect storm of turning 3, becoming a big sister, and a middle child.

My heart goes out to her.


My Adoption Story




My name is Sarah Herndon and I am a new blogger for NEDC. I was introduced to NEDC through a doctor who was speaking on Embryo Adoption. I was told of success stories of couples that had become pregnant after many years of dealing with infertility. Like many women, it was never a concept that I had either considered or had heard about. Even though embryo adoption has been a choice for woman in helping them conceive for years, it is amazing how many women still have not heard of this unique opportunity.

After struggling with infertility for 5 years, my journey of desperation and determination was constantly on my mind. It was what I drank every morning and slept with every night. I was the longest visiting patient at my infertility clinic at the age of 36. I had refused to leave until I had achieved my goal of pregnancy. The journey had been a very long one, filled with determination but ending in failed attempts and thousands of dollars of treatments. When my husband and I found NEDC it was our last hope of having our own child together. It also wasn’t something I wanted to talk about with anyone. It was the inner secret that took over my thoughts completely.

There were many reasons that could have contributed to failed pregnancy and miscarriage and there was still no solution. I had tried every treatment available except IVF, due to our ages this was not a option we wanted to pursue. It was coming to the reality that this may be a never happening event that I was going to have to face in my life. Coming to terms with that emptiness was one of the scariest feelings I walked through in my life as a woman. Wanting a child with the person that was my soul mate and best friend was all I could think about in my life at that time.

Our first attempt with NEDC was not successful, again, we were so desperate and feeling lost. I had my second transfer May 2012.

The second attempt was when we got our breakthrough! Ten days after my transfer became one of the best days of my life; I would get that positive test, that would finally change the course of dread, fear, and pain, into joy, excitement, and a greater love! My daughter Vivienne was born January 2013 by C-Section at 37 weeks. We are currently scheduled for a sibling transfer next month. It is a journey I am so excited to hopefully experience one more time.


Fast and Fragile

Do you ever have one of those weeks where you are constantly reminded how fragile and fast life can be?  It’s been one of those weeks for me.

First, it’s the first day of school.  Not for Grant and Maria, but this week marked the last first day of school of which they won’t be a part.  Next year they will be heading to kindergarten and I’m not coping well with that thought.  How could it be that in a couple of months we start registering?  Jeremy said it seems almost unfair that you spend the first couple of years mired in poop and trying to learn these new people and then when they are able to do more and really get involved in stuff that they get shipped off to school.  He’s definitely having his own level of anxiety about next year and I definitely teared up looking at all the back to school pictures on facebook.

Second, a friend of mine is pregnant with twins and in the hospital due to her water breaking at 22 weeks.  She’s almost 24 weeks now and everyone is still hanging in there.  Every day is precious and important and we are praying that she can continue to cook them without water for as long as possible.  If born at 24 weeks they will have a 50/50 shot at survival.

Third, a coworker had a granddaughter diagnosed with a rare brain tumor and she has a 1% chance at survival.  She’s 2 years old.  Talk about a kick in the gut.

Each of these are a reminder to enjoy and embrace each day.  We are not guaranteed tomorrow and a perfect and peaceful life can get turned on its head in the blink of an eye.  I will cherish the small moments, like this morning while I was rocking Grant and he lifted his head off my shoulder and gave me an unexpected but sweet kiss.  Or when reading with Maria and we both get the giggles because of something silly that she says or asks.  Or when they are both stalling bedtime and pop their heads around the corner and say “I need to tell you something…I love you.”


The annals of Graem.


Graem. My third child.  My only genetic child. My son.

This post is dedicated to him, and his first 5 weeks of life.

He loves to be held. This is what I can say is his most defining feature right now.  He can be screaming bloody murder and the second you pick him up and hold him, he just melts into your arms.  Or, maybe it’s just my arms, as Tygh is convinced this is not the case when he tries to hold him and soothe him.  When he’s not being held to sleep, it generally takes him quite a while to fall asleep, and it usually involves lots of noise making (grunts, squeaks, fake cries, real cries), and a vibrating chair, and a special blanket delicately draped over his head – wait, am I too high maintenance?
He’s a binky baby.  Not necessarily my choice, but it started in the NICU, and it’s been his friend ever since.  Brae was also a binky baby; Sienna was not.  There are pros/cons here, but it is what it is.  The biggest con right now is that the second that binky falls out when he’s asleep, he’s awake, and he wants it back. Now.

In the little bit of awake time he has during the day (most of it is taken up nursing), he has started to enjoy floor time.  He’s rolled over from his tummy to his back a couple times, probably accidentally.  He also recently discovered his hands.  They make a good (albeit temporary) substitute for the binky when it has fallen out.
He loves baths.  He hates being cold and getting his diaper changed.  But, like being held, the second his little body slips into that bubble bath sink and the warm water curls up around him, he is in heaven. He looks up at me with these navy blue, almond shaped eyes as if to say, “Ohhh, yes, thank you.”   And then he just grins this silly little grin for the rest of the bath.
He likes to feed – frequently.  I obviously was not able to nurse Brae, and Sienna was a challenge to nurse because of the torticollis.  So, I’m used to formula-fed babies.  Formula-fed babies sleep longer than breastfed babies. I knew this, and yet now I really know it.  During the day, Graem will generally go 3 hours between feeds.  At night, I’ve been as lucky to get a 5 hour stretch (once).  Generally, it’s between 3.5-4 hours.  But, sometimes (and earlier this week, twice in a row), it is every 2 hours.
I believe in the Babywise method for eat-feed-sleep, but even Babywise acknowledges that for the first month of life (which is what Graem is still in, age adjusted), the on-demand feeding works well.  Even more so for preemies.  Even more so for breastfed preemies.  So, I plan to continue this on-demand feeding until about 2 months of age, when the milk supply is supposed to be established, and I can get on a more normal schedule.

Graem looks just like his dad.  But he does have my ears – very small.  It is still an adjustment to look at him and to believe that he is genetically part me, and part Tygh.  I know so many take that for granted; I don’t.  He (like his siblings) is a complete miracle.

Brae just loves being his big brother. He is very proud of him.  Whenever I venture out with the three of them, he’s always showing him off – to the store clerk, to the person behind us in line, to a complete stranger passing us on the sidewalk.  He just thinks he is the neatest thing.  Like a show-n-tell toy.

We’re still working with Brae on recognizing how big his body is compared to Graem, and to exercise some self-control.  Graem just makes him so excitable.  Tygh keeps reminding me we need to let Brae hold him regularly, and I do.  I even let him carry Graem the other day (slightly frightening).  Brae really wants to carry him down the stairs – we aren’t there yet.

Sienna adores Graem.  She is very motherly.  Every time Graem cries, she either yells at me: “Mommy! Feed him!” or “Mommy, where’s his bottom?” (Bottom is pacifier – I don’t know where she came up with that).  And, if she can’t find his pacifier, she sticks her finger in his mouth (again, we’re working on breaking that bad habit).

One on one, they are each great with Graem.  Together, they fight over him.  That eventually leads to them wrestling eachother, as I rush to get Graem out of harms way.

As for me and Tygh, this last month feels like a complete blur.  Since I left work in such an unexpected hurry, I’ve never really left work.  My plan (approved by my amazing boss) was to work part-time from home until January, and to take August off.  With Graem coming a month early, I didn’t want to leave work hanging.  So, I’ve really been working part-time, from home, since Graem was born.  It actually has worked out well.  Brae and Sienna have been in camps during the day, and I’ve been able to work when Graem sleeps.  Thankfully, we have a housekeeper (a Godsend), so I’m able to ignore the dirty floors and forget about cleaning the toilets, which has been a huge blessing right now.

And, I really like to work.  I enjoy my job and the people I work with.  I long ago came to terms with the fact that I’m just not a full time stay-at-home mom.  I am in awe of those who are, and who do it well.  It’s just not me.

Tygh was never able to really take a paternity leave – his industry just isn’t set up for that.  But, he took several days off when Graem was first born, and has been a ton of help with Brae and Sienna.  I get up with Graem in the middle of the night (another side effect of nursing), and Tygh takes him for a couple hours in the evening so I can tend to Brae and Sienna.

My personality is not one who does well sitting.  So, pretty much since Graem has been born, I’ve been just as active as I always I am.  I went for my first walk the day I got home from the hospital.  And I started running a few weeks ago (a complete sanity saver for me).  At my three/four week doctor check up, I’d lost 23 pounds, so still 12 more to go.

I also regularly go out with the three kids. It’s been a complete learning lesson for me.  I’ve learned that I have to nurse Graem right before I put him in the carseat so I’m not stuck at the mall with Brae and Sienna and Graem needing to eat.  I’ve learned that if I do have to nurse when I’m out with the kids, I have to go somewhere where Sienna cannot run off (which she does, regularly).  I’ve learned that grocery shopping with 3 small kids is completely insane, and not recommended.

Phew.  A long one, but I had a lot to say.  All in all, my heart is full.  I am content.

My mom asked me the other day what was next?  Great question.  We’ve spent the last 7 years growing our family, it’s hard to think about what to do now.

Just enjoy it, I suppose.


Four Year Old Funnies

Grant: Mommy, wipe my butt.

Me: G, you know how to wipe your butt.

Grant: What day is it?

Me: Friday.

Grant: I don’t wipe my butt on Saturdays.

Me: Well today is Friday

Grant: I don’t wipe my butt on Fridays or Saturdays.

Me: stifled laughter as I walk away. (And, I didn’t wipe his butt.)


Maria outgrew her shoes overnight leaving her only with one pair of sandals to wear.  We went shoe shopping and found some that met with her approval.  Upon getting home I gathered her old shoes and got them ready to post for sale.  She grew rather concerned and insisted she could still wear them.  I decided that I’m going to have to make them disappear when she’s not watching as she definitely has some hoarding tendencies.


Grant: Mommy, watch me!

He proceeds to do a pirouette.

Grant: Was that a pretty spin?

Me: Yes, that was.

Grant: Oooohhhh.  I wanted it to be a cool spin.  Not pretty!



Maria: Mommy, I want some lemon wawey.

Me: You need to say it correctly.

Maria: Lemon wawey.

Me: No…lemon water.

Maria: Lemon watERRRRR.

Me: Good!

Maria: Now, can I have some lemon wawey?


They both struggle with some enunciation.  While we can understand most of what they say, there are sometimes when we are at a loss.  I think their “twinness” might be holding them back slightly as they completely understand each other so aren’t forced to change any speech patterns for understanding.   We’re working on these issues…one word at a time.  I remind myself that Grant called Maria “Rita” for the longest time, then overnight she became “Ria”.   And pee-buwey became peanut butter overnight as well.

Maria got out of bed on Saturday and ran to her note book and pens.  She quickly started drawing and soon called me to look at her drawing.  “Look Mommy, I drew a dinosaur!  It has a tail and a smiley face!”   It doesn’t exactly look like a dinosaur…. (photo below).



Pictures and Graem’s First Month

PhotobucketGraem’s due date was last Friday, yet he’s been here for exactly one month already.  I still can’t believe how small he is, although he is starting to look more like a typical newborn.  At his last appointment, he was 7 lb., 7 oz, and just over 20 inches.  Developmentally, he’s on target, and the doctor who did his circumcision (ouch!) said he had no idea Graem was premature until he looked at his chart.

Graem is a laid back little dude.  He hates being cold, and he loves to be held.  If you can satisfy those two needs (apart from the whole feeding/sleeping thing), he’s a happy camper.

Nursing is going remarkably well (praise God!).  With Sienna’s torticollis, nursing was a challenge. I ended up pumping, breastfeeding, and supplementing for four months before I raised the white flag.

Graem has been a whole new story.  It took some time, but we’ve finally hit our groove with nursing.  This was a huge prayer request of mine, and I feel so grateful to be able to do it.  My goal is to get him to 6 months, when I have to go back to work full time.

The sleep deprivation has eased up a bit.  I try to nap once during the day.  Graem gives me about 3.5-4 hour stretches at night.  If I don’t nap, and it’s been a rough night with Graem, I notice my patience wears very thin.  Since I don’t want to lose my patience with Brae and Sienna, those naps are crucial.

Brae and Sienna have remembered how to use the toilet now (thank goodness), and generally seem to be adapting better to Graem.  They still want to hold him, touch him, kiss him, and generally pester him constantly, but also are more receptive when its time to stop.

Tygh enjoys his new son, and its becoming more apparent how much he and Graem look alike.  In fact, looking at Graem is like looking at Tygh’s face on a small body. A little strange.

When Graem was 2 weeks old, we took the following photos.   (PS – the 4th of July quilt is one that was given to us by a volunteer when Graem was in the NICU – a very special blanket).



1 (1) 13 15 21 24 25


Next post: Does it feel different?


I’ve been asked this question a lot lately, by others, and by myself.  Now that Graem is here, does it feel different having a genetic child?

For those of you who may not know, we adopted our son, Brae, as an infant through the domestic infant adoption program.  We adopted our daughter, Sienna, as an embryo through the embryo adoption program.  Neither is genetically related to me or Tygh.

And yet, they are fully our children.

With Graem, we did IVF, with our own ingredients.  Something we never thought possible given our fertility history.

So Graem is genetically related to us; Brae and Sienna are not.  None of our children are genetically related.

And yet, they are still fully each our children.

With Brae, I felt love I never knew possible.  This little boy came out, and stole our hearts immediately.  I tell Brae that although he did not grow in my womb, he grew in our hearts.  I used to say that I’d walk in front of a semi-truck for him, and I still would.  It never mattered that he did not share our genes, and that I never carried him.  He was our son. Completely.

With Sienna, my heart grew in ways I didn’t know possible.  I mean, the heart is a physical being, and yet mine grew beyond its physical capabilities.  With Sienna, I got to experience pregnancy, also a gift I didn’t know I’d be able to have.  I also got my daughter.  She captivated our hearts from the moment she was thawed and transferred, through each and every ultrasound, and to the moment where she graced us with her presence.  It never mattered that she did not share our genes.  She was our daughter. Completely.

With Graem, my once completely full heart exploded again.  I never thought I’d have the opportunity to look into a child’s eyes and see my own.  To gaze at their toes, and wonder if they looked like mine.  Graem has satisfied a yearning and a curiosity I thought would forever be wanting.  And, you know what?  I’d love him just as much if he did not share our genes.  If I did not carry him.  He was meant to be our son, and for me, that’s enough.

So, the answer is “no,” it does not feel different to have Graem.  I don’t compare him to Brae or Sienna.  I don’t look at Graem and say, “Oh, he’s “mine.”  Never.  I look at each of my children, and say they are each “mine.”

Because they are.  No matter how they came to us.