The Invitation.

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The wedding invitation is in the mail to us.

It is from our birthmother. She is inviting us to her wedding.

I just cannot get over how cool it is to have this special relationship with the woman who bore my son.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Open adoption – in all its forms – is an invitation. It’s a gift. The opportunity to have a tangible relationship with the woman (and man) who helped breathe life into our son is beyond humbling.

Apart from its metaphysical beauty, it also has incredible application. Case in point: Sienna has been getting strange blotchy spots on her face and has had a cough for a while. I reached out to our donor family and they told me of the family history of eczema, allergies, and asthma. Armed with this information, I knew what medical course of action to take, and Sienna is healing.

I feel so blessed at the way God has created our family.

And, just because it’s been a while, here are some recent (cute) pictures of the Colton kids, introducing the newest member in his/her photographic debut:

Britney

LAB WORK AND ULTRASOUND

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I had my appointment for lab work and an ultrasound this week at the NEDC. To my relief, everything went well, and I was given the approval to start the Estrace. There was just one embarrassing little hiccup that happened. I showed up a day early.

To be honest, I almost don’t want to post this, but when I signed up to do this blog, I told myself some things would be painful, like exposing my raw emotions about infertility. Blogging would also reveal vulnerabilities in me, I often wouldn’t like to admit. However, I believe, if we admit our flaws, it makes other people realize they too are okay, imperfections and all.

So having said that, I excitedly arrive at the NEDC at 7:55 AM to my 8:00 AM appointment and sign in, only to have the receptionist inform me, they had me scheduled for the next day, the 21st. I knew my appointment was on the 21st, but where I miscalculated, I had in my mind the 21st was on Thursday- not Friday.

My mom and I had arranged the week before to meet in Knoxville for dinner on the eve of my appointment. We would spend the night, then she would watch John Luke the next morning, while I had my check up. After glancing at the calendar previously, I had thought the 21st was on Thursday, and didn’t think about it any further. We had made our plans and that was that.

Easy mistake right? Except, this was an extremely critical appointment. Fortunately, the NEDC was very accommodating and worked me in on the 20th. I truly believe things happen for a reason. On the 21st, the day of my original appointment, I woke up having a sinus infection with nausea and vomiting. I was sick in bed for two days. Traveling would have been extremely difficult, especially with a toddler. It was not an appointment I could have rescheduled until Monday, given the time sensitivity of the protocol.

The take away – I need to check and re-check my schedule. Luckily, it worked out for me this time. Next time, I might not be so lucky. I laughed it off saying, “I’d rather be a day early than a day late.” I try to be an optimist and learn from each experience.

POLLY PARROTS

I’ve debated telling this story, but I would be dishonest if I didn’t. Some people might judge, but after sharing it with several people and hearing their own similar stories, I’m sharing. After all, it’s about the good, the bad, and everything in between, right?
We were on the way to church one Saturday evening when a car stopped short in front of us. I braked and went around this car that had apparently found the house for which it was looking. Neither Jeremy nor I said anything about the car and I didn’t really think much of it…until I heard a little voice from the back passenger side of the van declare “That guy is a dumbass.”
I looked at Jeremy and asked if he was proud, because there was NO doubt that Grant had heard that phrase from Jeremy while driving. Jeremy laughed and said “well, he did use it in proper context and if a three year old can tell you are a dumbass…”
I turned my head and looked out the window as I stifled a laugh. I sure this won’t be the first time they repeat something like this…

PARENTING CLASSES

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Recently, I took a parenting class based on the principles of ‘Love and Logic’ by co-authors Jim Fay and Charles Fay, Phd.  Here are some notes from week one:

How to handle a whining or begging child:

  1. Go Brain Dead- don’t over react, don’t talk or lecture, don’t try to reason in excess.
  2. Pick one statement and smile while saying it, such as, “I love you too much to argue.”

Remember, when you do the right thing by setting limits for children and   enforcing them, it may feel like your doing the wrong thing in the short term.  But,    sometimes we have to upset children (in the short term) so they can be successful in the long term.

There is an epidemic of parents who don’t want to upset their kids (or don’t want their kids to be unhappy even temporarily), although it could produce long term gains in discipline.

Two basic beliefs kids have:

  1.  My parents, the most powerful people in my life, cannot make me behave.  Therefore, I must be really bad.
  2.  My parents can handle me.  Therefore, I must be pretty good.  And! They make parenting look easy.

Characteristics of successful parents:

  1.  Not permissive.
  2. Keep it simple, use few words to discipline.

3) Always communicate love and empathy before delivering consequences.

*Using empathy is the core of Love and Logic principles to parenting.  Choose one empathetic statement such as, “How sad” or “That’s a bummer.”  (That’s a bummer you mis-behaved, and now I have to take a toy away).  Then, deliver consequences.  This teaches cause and effect.

*The transfer effect will occur if parents are consistent.  It’s hard for them to blame anyone else for their misconduct if they can see the cause and effect.

*Plan out consequences.  Take time to plan and discipline. “Which toy will you give up for your mis-behavior?”  Let actions and discipline do the teaching.  Let the action of taking the toy speak for itself rather than talking about the situation over and over.  Kids will tune you out, but they will remember having their toy taken for a time.

Everyone has a different parenting style.  These are just notes from the class I wanted to share.  Each family knows what works for them and each individual child.

Sibling Love… is driving me Crazy

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Brae and Sienna love each other.  A lot.  And trust me, this warms a mother’s heart.  I remain in awe about their close bond, despite not sharing a gene between them.  Again, love makes a family, not genetics.

But… sometimes, their bond drives me up the wall.  A few cases in point:

1) One minute, they are on the floor tickling one another, laughing hysterically.  The next, Sienna is running to me, bawling, and she has a scratch on her cheek.  Brae isn’t far behind, screaming, with bite marks on his shoulder.

2) Brae brushes her hair in the morning, putting barrettes in her hair.  When I come in, she has blue, sticky hair.  Toothpaste.

3) When Sienna runs out of underwear, Brae gives her his.

4) Brae has no problem giving Sienna some “tough physical love.”  But he will not stand for anyone else treating her that way.  I’ve had to explain to more than one mother that when Brae screamed, red-faced at her child for even touching Sienna, Brae was really just defending her honor.

… And this one really sticks in my craw….

5) I put the kids to bed, in their separate rooms, around 8 p.m.  And sometimes, in the middle of the night (e.g., 1 a.m.), I hear noises upstairs.  Brae has sneaked into Sienna’s room, pulled her out of bed, and they’ve tiptoed into his room, where he reads to her.  Sienna now has a bell on her door.

After Your Family is Complete, What Do you Do with the Remaining Embryos?

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When families realize that they are having trouble conceiving and carrying a child to term, they begin to consider their options for have a child. Most enlist the services of a reproductive endocrinologist to assess what the problem is and learn what options are available to them.
One option that is often considered and used is in vitro fertilization. In vitro fertilization is a procedure where the joining of egg and sperm takes place outside of the woman’s body. Typically the woman may be given fertility drugs before this procedure so that multiple eggs mature in the ovaries simultaneously. The eggs are retrieved from the ovaries and then mixed with the sperm in a laboratory dish or test tube. The eggs are monitored for several days. Once there is evidence that fertilization has occurred and the cells begin to divide, the fertilized eggs are then returned to the woman’s uterus or frozen to be used at a later date.
Once they have completed their family with the created embryos, they are faced with the decision of what to do with the remaining embryos. Some families report that they do not think about these embryos that remain in cryo storage until they receive the annual storage bill from the clinic that is care-taking their embryos.
Very often families who have embryos in storage desire to donate their embryos to another family. Many donors have reported to me that they “wished someone had offered our family embryos as we probably would not have created our own.” Repeatedly I have witnessed families who have embryos to donate express a deep understanding of the feelings and emotions of the families who would like to receive donated embryos.
While knowing that they are making a good decision for their embryos, a family who is making this decision may find that they have mixed emotions about this process. Releasing their embryos marks the end of their family building. Also, by donating their embryos they are separating themselves from their embryos and this usually involves a grieving process. For some families this may be a brief process, but for others it may be more lengthy and involved. There are times when one spouse is more ready to release the embryo than the other. Some individuals may find comfort in talking with a counselor, not only to explore their options, but to support them as they grieve and express their sadness. It is important to remember that grief and sadness is normal and it is helpful to acknowledge and process these very important feelings. Each person will move through these emotions in their own way and there is no “right or wrong” way to grieve.
As families explore their feelings, they will want to examine all the options that they have for their embryos remaining in frozen storage. Speaking with a counselor who is familiar with all the options and the process involved with each option empowers the family to make the best decision for their family. We would hope that individuals who have embryos remaining in storage, would seek to resolve their ambivalence about releasing their embryos, take steps to become united and determined to donate their embryos to another family.

GETTING EXCITED!

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I have been eagerly expecting my medial protocol for our March transfer (which is fast approaching) to arrive any day! Much to my excitement, it came by email on Friday.

Recently, Josh and I completed the lab work and checked off the requirements from our checklist; except two which have to be completed at the NEDC. Partial shipment of the meds, the estrace and lupron, have arrived. The progesterone will arrive closer to the transfer date.

It’s all becoming real now! Heart flutters. Heart flutters….

My medical protocol goes as follows: Begin Lupron injections 2/13, continue birth control until 2/16, go to NEDC for ultrasound and lab work 2/21, begin Estrace 2/23, go to NEDC for ultrasound and lab work 3/14, start progesterone injections 3/15 (really getting real)! We will be in the homestretch for a TRANSFER DATE OF MARCH 19, 2014!!

Heart flutters…heart flutters. Like literally, I’m getting butterflies typing this.

If you are reading this, and you’re on your own infertility journey, don’t give up!! This will be my 4th attempt using third party reproduction. Looking back, I see the first two attempts (what I used to label as failed attempts) as stepping stones to a successful third transfer, which brought us our son.

The first attempt- using donor oocytes at a different clinic, the second attempt-using donated embryos at the NEDC, and finally- getting pregnant on the third attempt- using donated embryos at the NEDC. We are excited to be starting another stepping stone, God willing, to bring John Luke a sibling(s).