Scenes from Christmas


We had one of the best Christmases yet.  Brae is now 5 and is really into this time of year.  Just watching him get so excited for Christmas and believing in all the magic of the season makes it a thrill for us.

He’s also starting to understand why we celebrate Christmas, although the concept of Jesus and God living in his heart remains a bit foreign.  He thinks they are just up in heaven.  And he wants God to be a lion.  (I told him He kind of is).

Christmas Eve service was a hoot. The kids stayed in “big church” with us, and for the most part were well behaved.  Sienna jumped up and down at all the Christmas songs.  When everyone bowed their heads and closed their eyes to pray, Sienna yelled at me, “Mommy! Wake up!”  And when the candles were being passed and each one slowly lit, Sienna again yelled, “Fire’s coming! Fire’s coming!”

Brae really wanted a Polar Express train this year, and would tell every Santa he encountered just this.  When I went shopping, I struck out.  So Tygh set out to find it, and 2 days and 6 stores later, he did.  A real Polar Express train.

A couple days before Christmas, I asked Brae if he thought Santa was really going to bring him his train.  He replied, without hesitation, “I know he will.”

I love his child-like faith.

Christmas morning, Tygh may have been more excited than Brae.  He woke up at the crack of dawn to make sure the train was around the tree, running.  When Brae came down the stairs, he stopped dead in his tracks, and then just looked up at us and grinned.


Sienna was much more subdued this year.  She’s not really into any one thing this year, except for the constants of animals (particularly giraffes).  Her genetic donors graciously sent her a giraffe rocking horse, which Sienna loves.  Sienna also took forever opening all of her gifts.  She wanted to delicately unwrap each one, play with it completely, and then move onto the next.

It was also a treat celebrating in our new house – something we wouldn’t have dreamed of several months ago.

God has blessed us abundantly this year, and we are very thankful.

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Josh and I had our sibling appointment and mock transfer at the NEDC this past week.  We are excited to be moving forward, in hopes of bringing home a sibling to John Luke, this time next year.  As of now, we are scheduled for a March transfer.

Dr. Keenan said I responded well to the Estrace.  My lining was 8.75 mm which was even better than the transfer from which I got pregnant with John Luke.  It was obviously good enough to get pregnant, but was on the lower side, around 7 mm.  Dr. Keenan put me on 5 days of Prometrium, and tapered the Estrace from 3x per day to 2x per day until I come off the Prometrium.  I should get a period within 3 days.  On the first day of menses, I start birth control, active only, until I receive my medical protocol to continue Estrace and start the Lupron.  I will need two ultrasounds, and will need blood drawn after starting meds, prior to transfer.

Dr. Keenan said I needed to chart my basal body temperature first thing in the morning to make sure I am still ovulating.  He said my ovaries looked small, which I guess is what brought us to embryo adoption in the first place.  If I am not ovulating on my own, he will have to put me on an estrogen, for the hormones needed, to maintain a healthy pregnancy.

We had 6 embryos remaining after our transfer with John Luke.  The embryos were frozen three to a vial.  Provided my lining is primed and ready to receive the embryos, the NEDC will thaw one of the vials, and transfer any surviving embryos.  If none survive, the last three will be thawed.  I have to use all 6 embryos before I “age out” at 45, or release them back to the NEDC.

I was relieved I had responded better to the meds this time around.  We took John Luke with us to meet Dr. Keenan, Carol Summerfelt, and the NEDC staff.  Josh’s parents came along to help watch him in the lobby during my evaluation.  It was exciting to bring him there, knowing he was once frozen in liquid nitrogen in the back, and is now a bouncing boy, out in the waiting room.

We asked Carol, NEDC embryologist, how long our embryos had been frozen.  She said since 2009.  If we are blessed to get pregnant again in March, we will be due in December 2014.  The baby (or babies) will have been frozen for five years.  They will finally be “out of the freezer” and into our warm and grateful arms.

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This week we had Trunk or Treat at our church.  John Luke looked cute in his puppy dog costume, but he wasn’t feeling it.  Boo.  I was so excited about Halloween.  It’s one of those events you look forward to when trying to get pregnant for so long.  Shopping for costumes, dressing the kid’s up, and going Trick or Treating.  Let’s just say, we enjoyed it more than he did.  He was fascinated by watching all the big kids in their costumes, so it did help distract him a little.

I couldn’t see putting him back in his heavy and furry costume Halloween night to Trick or Treat, so we decided to take him to a local place called Fender’s Farm on Saturday.  They have an animal farm where you can feed the animals, a corn maize, zip line, tractor rides, and all kinds of fun activities for kids and adults.  It was a beautiful fall day, so we wanted to take some photos for his birthday invitations I am working on.

It’s hard to believe he will be a year old this month on November 26th.  I look back at his pictures over the last year, and see how much he has grown.  He’s becoming a toddler.  He’s not such a baby, baby anymore.  I am so thankful we plan to have more children through embryo adoption.  I feel like I can enjoy these stages of growth without being sad this will be my last.  His one year well-baby visit is next week.  I’ll l post about his progress then.

Here are some pics from our week…

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Five years ago today…

Photobucket       … I stood in a hospital room, holding a precious baby boy.

A mixture of emotions consumed me. This baby was not genetically mine. And yet, I loved him instantly. A flood of
unconditional love and affection had washed over me the second I saw his little head pop out.

I turned to look at his beautiful birthmother. She was calm. I know now that her heart was breaking inside, and it took every ounce in her to not crumble. She was telling herself to stay strong. This is what is best for him. She loves him.

I turned back to look at the baby boy in my arms. Pink cheeks. Auburn hair. Blue eyes that couldn’t stay open for but a few seconds.

I couldn’t lose him. But, I also couldn’t take him, either. He had to be a gift. Given over, freely. That’s the only way this could work.

I kissed his forehead. It smelled sweet. New. Soft.

I stroked his hair, and rested my cheek against his.

I looked up to see his birthmother smiling, approvingly. She knew I loved him. She knew he was ours, given by God to us, through her. She felt confident in that. Now, she just needed to get through the next few hours, days, and years.

Not much has changed in these last five years. I still kiss my son’s forehead, stroke his hair, and rest my cheek against his. His hair has darkened, and so have his eyes. But now he has lost his first tooth. Now he speaks in paragraphs. Now he wrestles his sister to the ground.

My love for him has also changed. For a while, I struggled feeling like I was nothing more than his babysitter. I struggled fully stepping into the “Mommy” role. I felt if I did, I was somehow replacing his birthmom, whom I also loved.

It took many months to realize that not being that Mommy, 100%, was doing a great disservice to my son, and his birthmom. She didn’t go through this incredible sacrifice for me to be just a babysitter. I needed to fully assume the role she had entrusted me with, and take hold of my title as Brae’s Mommy.

So, that’s what I’ve done. To this day, while I have taken full ownership as Mom to my little boy, it’s never far from my mind that he is still just on loan to me. He is God’s child, and there is only so much I can do to protect him. I need to trust that just as freely and lovingly as God gave him to us, I need to equally as freely and lovingly give him back to God, each and every day.

Happy birthday, my baby boy.

We love you.
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I love the pumpkins, the weather, the fall decorations.  Everything!  I love wearing sweaters, hats, scarves, and boots with skirts.  I especially love pumpkin patches and hayrides.  It’s no wonder fall is the favorite time of the year for many people.  There is so much to look forward to after a long hot summer.

My Aunt Diane and a family friend came up for a visit from Alabama this week.  They wanted to see the changing of the leaves.  Josh and I took them to Boone, NC for the day for some sight seeing and shopping.  The next day I drove them around our area for some more sight seeing.  I have a small antique booth where I resale items as a hobby.  They wanted to see the antique store where I have my booth, so we did some shopping in town.

I enjoyed their visit.  I love Tennessee living, I just wish we didn’t live so far from most of our family.  However, we get to experience all four seasons, unlike growing up in Alabama, where it is hot, then it’s hot some more.  After my family headed home, I got busy looking for Halloween costumes.  John Luke is going to be a puppy dog for his first Halloween.   The trial run in his costume didn’t go so well.  Unlike his mama, he doesn’t like to wear hats and faux fur!  I will post Halloween pics next week if we make it out of the house without him trying to peel it off:)

Here are a few pics from our sight seeing trip.

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A Wedding. And a Divorce.


A few weeks ago, one of my best girlfriends got married. It was an honor to be there for her special day, and to be able to stand next to her as a bridesmaid.

Also standing next to her as a bridesmaid was our other very dear friend. She is going through a divorce.

The dichotomy of the two still sends chills down my spine.

In the midst of the celebration of two amazing people finding love, another life is falling apart because of a lack of love. While one man in a tuxedo proudly proclaimed his love in front of a hundred people, another man in sweats is sneaking around, cheating on his wife.

There were several moments during the day when my sweet friend had to leave the festivities to just weep. The “Father/Daughter” dance was especially hard.

My heart just ached for her.

It’s hard to know what to say in moments like those. She has two children. Young children. And her life is falling apart before her eyes.

So, sometimes, it’s better to say nothing at all.

Instead, I weep with her. And I hold my children a little tighter. And I give my husband a kiss, and say “Thank you.”

I once heard someone say that if everyone was forced to put all their crap in a big pile, take a step back and look at everyone else’s crap, every single one of us would gladly go back to the pile, and grab our own crap back.

Behind every smile, is a load full of crap. Be nice to someone today.Britney bridesmaid

Birthfamily visit #4


We had our annual birthfamily visit with Brae’s birthfather and his side of the family. I’ve said this each year, but they really do keep getting better and more comfortable.

We met at a local amusement park and the kids had a blast going on all the rides and into all of the little venues.

Brae knew more about his birthfather this time around, mostly just from being more able to understand. I had tried to tell him that his birthfather, along with his birthmother, had helped create him and loved him very much. And then his birthmom pushed him out of her tummy, right into Mommy and Daddy’s arms. It was an act of selflessness, love, and sacrifice.

Knowing all of this, as soon as we got to the park and met the birthfather’s family, Brae immediately said, “Ok! So which one of you pushed me out of your tummy?!” It was the ideal icebreaker.

Brae and Sienna both hammed it up the whole visit, putting everyone in stitches. Sienna being her usual hostile, spunky self, and Brae just willing to do anything for a good laugh.

We didn’t get personal until near the end of the visit when the birthfather’s grandmother mentioned that Brae’s birthfather still had a hard time with the adoption. Of course, he was grateful and happy Brae was in such a good, loving home, and that all had turned out just fine, but still just mourning it all. She asked if we’d be willing to speak with him sometime about how he was feeling. Absolutely, we said.

It hurts my heart that he feels that way. I just don’t want to see him hurting. And, I cannot imagine the pain that he has endured during it all.

I’m sure that pain never goes away. The hope is that with open adoption, the pain of the unknown is somewhat diminished. And, that over time, a relationship between the two of them can develop.

At the end of the visit, as with all the other visits, they had early birthday presents for him. And, very sweetly, they brought gifts for Sienna as well.

We left with full hearts.

Until next year!
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This week marks four years since we went through our embryo transfers. Four years. It doesn’t seem possible. But yet, it is reality.

This time four years ago I was hopped up on hormones trying to make the appropriate environment for the embryos that awaited us. I was hopeful and fully surrendered to a bigger plan and I wouldn’t let myself imagine that it wasn’t going to work.

This time four years ago, three embryos were on board and I loved each one from first sight. I prayed for each and while I have no idea how we would have handled three, we were willing to accept the path handed to us.

This time four years ago, my questions were different. Instead of “I wonder if this will work and if it does how many will it be”, my question is “who will adopt their siblings and will we have the strength and endurance to survive this journey called parenthood.” I hope one day that their siblings get a chance out of the freezer and that their “special consideration” label isn’t a deterrent.

This time four years ago, I only knew one other person who went through embryo adoption. Now, I have a network of moms and moms-in-waiting across the country with whom to share this experience.

This time four years ago, I had no idea the hard work and stress that accompanies children, but I also didn’t know the depth of joy one gets when holding your child for the first time or seeing their eyes sparkle with excitement.

4 years


We have been on a staycation this week.  I took the week off for some much needed relief from the daily grind of work.  We have been to the zoo, Henry’s Ark which is a local animal sanctuary where we fed all kinds of animals including zebras, and to the Indianapolis Children’s museum.

We’ve all enjoyed the extra time together.  Here are a few highlights from our week:

  • Playing at the splash park at the zoo and watching both kids sheer joy at the water slides and fountains.  When it was nearing time to go we told them they had two more slides.  Grant, smart one that he is, went on to take as long as possible to get up the slide stepping on all the water fountains on the way there.
  • Jeremy and I commented that we were due an ER visit with Grant.  While we didn’t go to the ER, we did pay a visit to the zoo first aid station after he tripped and caught himself with his forehead.  The first aid guy looked at him and said “man, you look like a unicorn.”  Grant was more concerned about not getting to get a “worker truck” from the gift shop as promised by his Mawmaw.  Thankfully, he’s healing well and hasn’t seemed the least bit slowed down.
  • At the Indianapolis Children’s Museum (a must see for anyone living in the region), both kids bounced from exhibit to exhibit.  Maria did get her feelings hurt though, when we found a baby doll in one play area and she had to leave it.  “Baby will get lonely,” she whined.  Girl loves her baby dolls.  We also had two Grant’s at one point in time as he got to ride and play in his very own construction truck and site.  He was heartbroken each time we left and exhibit, but immediately in love with wherever we were.
  • Playing at the park each evening and honing our soccer skills.
  • Sleeping in…me until 7:30 or 8:00 and Jeremy until sometime between 10:00 and 11:00…he so enjoys his night owl ways.

I’m glad for the long weekend and I know that Tuesday will be painful as I have to roll out of bed at 5:00 to hit the gym.  I’m thankful for the extra time together.  There are lots of little moments that make me so thankful for my family and the gift of embryo adoption.

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